Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rage Against The Machine beats Joe McElderry to Christmas Number One

It sounds really quite petty and spiteful, but it is all really thoroughly honourable and perfectly democratic.

There was a certain expectation that Joe McElderry’s ‘The Climb’ would be the 2009 Christmas Number One; a sort of divine right coronation of the anointed winner of X-Factor reality TV pop. And so an internet-driven protest based around the accursed and damned Facebook set out to challenge the omnipotence of Simon Cowell and the hegemony of Syco and Sony Music’s manufactured pop which mesmerises the TV-addicted masses every Saturday and Sunday evening and persuades them that what they watch is what they might like to hear at Christmas.

And it has worked for four years.

But X-Factor Christmas songs are not like the ones Cranmer used to know, where the tree tops glisten and children listen – ‘Little Town’, ‘Mistletoe and Wine’, ‘Saviour’s Day’ and ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ have been supplanted with egocentric indulgence for too many years – ‘A Moment Like This’, ‘When you Believe’, ‘The Climb’ – it is all too blandly saccharine and all about me, me, me.

What about Him?

Not that the ‘song’ by Rage Against The Machine is about Him, of course. He hasn’t had a look-in since Sir Cliff gave us the delightful ‘Saviour’s Day’ in 1990.

And ‘Killing in the Name’ is a quite dreadful, expletive-ridden, most un-Christmassy racket which is as far removed from music as politicians are from the plight of the people.

But if Joe McElderry can be created by Syco, forged by Cowell and packaged by Sony as a Christmas commodity, why cannot a group by the name of Rage Against The Machine be created ex nihilo, forged by Facebook and packaged by the new democratic media?

Their 'song' may be truly awful, but its beauty lies in the rebellion; its authenticity in the protestant spirit; its integrity in the little man conquering the Goliath that is the modern music machine.

Cranmer would like to make it clear that he has absolutely nothing against Mr McElderry (or Mr Cowell), and would like to say that the X-Factor winner has an undoubted Christmassy voice which is infinitely preferable to the din of Rage Against The Machine. And His Grace is loath to deprive either Mr McElderry or Mr Cowell of a Christmas present.

But this is people-power: the rough and raw laity versus the slick high priest of the dark arts of music promotion.

One wonders why the people can be so organised about something as trivial as the Christmas No1, but not quite so passionately strategic in their politics.

Perhaps the reason lies in the concealed reality behind this chart battle. For the supreme irony is that both Joe McElderry and Rage Against the Machine are signed to Epic Records, which is part of Sony BMG.

As far as the recording colossus is concerned, they win either way.

So if your motive in downloading Rage Against The Machine was to humble the Sony behemoth, you have failed.

And seeking to wipe the smile off Simon Cowell’s face or deprive Joe McElderry of an instant Number One is indeed a little spiteful.

Perhaps this is why the people cannot be bothered to protest, rise up, and democratise their politics. Sony is a metaphor for the European Union: its tentacles are everywhere, its fingers are in every pie and all roads lead to Rome.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a problem with your article. 'Killing In The Name' is a truly brilliant song that deserved the top spot.

20 December 2009 at 18:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame, Joe McElderry deserved to be No 1 because he SOUNDS like Christmas! Rage is just RAGE. This is the season of peace and goodwill.

20 December 2009 at 19:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"'Killing In The Name' is a truly brilliant song that deserved the top spot."

Fallacy-de la Rocha represents a twelve year old boy, both lyrically and vocally.

20 December 2009 at 19:27  
Blogger The Anti Christ said...

I find it all very strange. I have a teenage daughter who is an Internet junkie and she has nothing to say about any of it. When I first heard of it yesterday I was slightly bemused and put my ignorance down to my age, but His Grace has once again raised my eyebrows in suspicion.

I am an abject hater of Cowel, the X-Factor and the awful din of RATM. I am happy to deny them all a Christmas present, but it seems they are all getting one cui Bono.

Bah Humbug!

20 December 2009 at 19:48  
Blogger The Anti Christ said...

Checked it out on Facebook and its real. What Cranmer says about people power - well there are 959,575 members all listed that are prime targets for sheep exploitation if anyone has the mind. Maybe Eric Pickles can use 959,575 potential suckers.

20 December 2009 at 19:55  
Anonymous Stuart said...

Oh blimey, who really cares....

20 December 2009 at 20:04  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Many years ago, Threlfall's brewery in Liverpool organised a sham election where you could vote for either draught or bottled beer. There were posters around all the pubs - Vote for draught! Vote for Bottled! And voting slips
In the end they announced a draw.

Seems that their idea was a little before its time.

20 December 2009 at 20:09  
Blogger JPT said...

I agree wholeheartedly.
How about a similar campaign next year (started perhps by yourself)to put one of Sir Cliff's Christmas crackers at the top for Christmas?

20 December 2009 at 20:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is all kinds of great from any angle. its about "fuck you i won't do what you tell me" that gets repeated over and over in the song. as a teenager in the 90's (not knowing what the hell that song was about) that phrase over and over made everything make sense to me; and surely i don't feel the same way but I'm sure whoever picked the song was a nineties teen and did not think of the label or whatever, it was just the anti-sentiment. Any real fan of music should be pleased by this and I hope this gets echoed in America and any other country that gets overwhelmed by the horrific slew of shows wether it be American Idol or Whoever's got talent. One thing you can say about RATM even though Sony made some money out of this is that their music and songs were made from the pure sweat of their brow and guts, no cookie cutter bullshit, and thank god for that.

20 December 2009 at 22:42  
Blogger The Anti Christ said...

The bottom line is that they knew that McElderry’s votes would be set in concrete and they saw an ideal opportunity to cash in on the serial X Factor haters also. And it worked like a treat.

Before I retire to bed I would like to share my biblical X Factor character choice.

For me there is only one contender. Jesus is of course above all the superficiality of it and totally transcends all accolades, but the title is open to all other biblical characters.

The man who wins for me is the apostle Peter. First of all he was a serial denier and denied as predicted before the chickens were screaming three times, and yet he still won the title of Rock. Then, in the Garden of Gethsemane when they turned up to arrest Jesus, the first instinct for Peter was to get his sword out and there was ears and bits of skin flying everywhere....totally X Factor. OK, it was not the correct response and Jesus had to weld up his victims miracle style, but X Factor non the less.

The thing that really clinches it though for me was the walking on water stunt. OK it was very momentary and he had to be hurled up at the last minute, but I know for a fact that this would be well outside of anything I could even dream to achieve. And even though he was a denier and prone to massive violent bursts of temper, underneath this outward persona he was really a dark horse that could walk on water. And for good reason, the church was built upon this X Factor.


20 December 2009 at 23:01  
Blogger ARCHAVIST said...

I agree that the quality of rage is in the fact that it's a protest but it's certainly a fine record. I agree with your point on politics - we do need to rise up and throw the rulers out. Let's start again.

20 December 2009 at 23:47  
Anonymous Anthony said...

Hi there, your article is missing a few things:

1) A little bit of background, explaining what you are blogging about here. I have no idea, after reading the whole article, what you are talking about. x-factor christmas songs, and songs "beating" other songs to some goal named "christmas number one?" It's strange to see you take a jab at the TV-addicted masses, then proceed with the article as if all your readers are are in this group.

2) A differentiation between fact and opinion. Just because you don't like a song doesn't mean it's is a bad song. You sound like the typical music elitist. An open mind is a very beneficial thing to have, as I'm sure you know.

3) I don't see how this or any derived metaphor has anything to do with people's apathy towards participating in progressive political change. This may be my own inability to make the connection that you are, but im not sure how the contents of this article relate to stealing a country right out from under its citizens by keeping their standards of living high enough and controlling the media.

21 December 2009 at 02:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope there are some more talented and giving people out there who will record and post songs, poems, art & books on the internet and in oher public places so the elderly or those without computer access can enjoy them(including some about our Lord) free of charge without copyright(could the legal experts tell people how to do that somewhere where many will view it?) and that such gifts will sometimes become the most popular and most sung, read, shared and enjoyed - and all without breaking a law or behaving badly.
I also hope more people will enjoy more giving and receiving without healthy (let alone filthy) profit involved. I find generosity refreshing, humanising, charitable and democratising. And Christians know that noone can do anything creative or good unless our Lord provides the talent, opportunity and energy to do it. Why does He not charge for His kindnesses which He provides to everyone everyday, including the capacity for humour, the beauty of nature or the ability to be or enjoy art or creativity of any kind.
We can all reflect His generosity even if imperfectly.
I hope there will once more be a profit- and commercial-free hit some day, even a Chistmas one which mentions Him, though anything un-overcommercialised would be a breath of fresh air, for which He also does not charge.
There is a place for profit but also for the uncommercial. Even entertainment giants and successful politicians enjoy and appreciate unmonitored freedom in business and their personal lives and the blessings of less red tape, unless the red-tape is on the outside of a precious gift.

21 December 2009 at 02:48  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Mr Antichrist

I agree with you though I have a soft spot for Thomas and John.

By the way, if Peter was known as Simon Bar-Jonah, surely his name in English would be Simon Johnson
- sounds like a BBC reporter

Or Rock Johnson if you prefer.

- sounds like a Rapper

21 December 2009 at 08:06  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Rage against Westminster is more my kind of thing...

21 December 2009 at 08:33  
Anonymous Solitaire Engagement Rings said...

Really a Rapper, is what seems to me

21 December 2009 at 08:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace:

In fighting the tentacles of the European Union, maybe this organization would warm the ashes of your heart:

21 December 2009 at 10:04  
Blogger Tarquin said...

I would like to point out that Rage are giving all proceeds to charity - namely Shelter

Maybe Sony got something out of it, but Shelter got over £70,000

21 December 2009 at 10:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just where does one begin with Anthony's dilema?

21 December 2009 at 10:54  
Anonymous Anabaptist said...

"...X-Factor Christmas songs are not like the one’s Cranmer used to know..."

"one's" !!??

"ONE'S" !!!!???

Good grief, Cranny; have you been at the mince pies and brandy a little early? Looking for a new job as a greengrocer?

21 December 2009 at 11:49  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Anabaptist,

You will see from the timing of the post that it was written in haste, even as the Number 2 was playing on Radio One. Further, His Grace had partaken of two glasses of mulled wine with a generous infusion of brandy.

He has corrected his careless error, but begs you to understand that it is Christmas and His Grace has one or two more pressing things on his mind than an aberrational apostrophe.

21 December 2009 at 11:57  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

I understand, Cranny; I understand. Nobody is more aware of human failings than I.

But I beg you to remember zero tolerance and its effects on larger matters before you suggest that an aberrational apostrophe is not a pressing matter.

21 December 2009 at 12:03  
Blogger careblogger said...

your grace, surely we have a seasonal reminder of the powers of postmodernism in all of this.

21 December 2009 at 12:39  
Anonymous Far Infrared Saunas said...


21 December 2009 at 12:43  
Blogger Dan said...

Your Grace,

Being a huge fan of Rage Against the Machine and their seminal debut album of 1992, I have to say I was overjoyed to hear that they got the Christmas No.1. They were, I am pleased to say, helped on their way by my purchase of the single “Killing in the name of”.

I entirely understand why many people do not enjoy their work, their vulgarities and profanities are intended to shock, and they do. However this should not be a reason to dismiss them out of hand, their language is passionate and to the point, and to my mind, the best music is often inspired by perceived injustice and from that, protest – this is what they do, love them or loath them. For that reason they have my respect although I do not subscribe to the philosophy of Marx, Engel’s or any later bastardisations of these ideas - for I am a Tory of the Libertarian variety. RATM have energy, vigour, enthusiasm for their topic and above all; something they truly believe in. All of these are so very rare in music, no matter what the era.

As for "traditional Christmas songs". What is a “traditional Christmas song”?

Thomas Tallis?

“Traditional” Christmas Carols?

Bing Crosby?


At the end of the day, the Christmas number one in merely a product of its environment. That the current environment is angry and discontented, it is entirely understandable that Rage Against the Machine won the chart battle.

I would also humbly remind those present that RATM are giving their profits to “Shelter” the homeless charity, I do wonder what Mr. Cowell would have done with his, a new hair transplant perhaps?

Yours sir, with humble respect,

21 December 2009 at 16:09  
Blogger Terry Hamblin said...

In our house we have lots of Cds containing compilations of Christmas songs from John Rutter to Graham Kendrick. They provide a musical background to Christmas that is entirely to our taste. I listened to "Rage". I would pay good money to Shelter not to have to. But I don't have to. Our receiver of broadcast 'music' comes equipped with an off switch.

22 December 2009 at 12:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your statement that Killing in the Name is "dreadful" and "truly awful" is a matter of opinion, and thus I think it's pretty unprofessional of you to present such a statement as fact.

Rage have sold around 20 million albums in their time on the music scene, and while that may not impress the mainstream masses, it's admirable for an alternative, metal band to achieve such a feat. So, obviously there are music fans out there who would disagree with your point. I happen to be a fan of the band, as well as the song, and I also happen to find Joe McElderry's single to be quite dull and lifeless, but that's my opinion.

22 December 2009 at 16:04  
Anonymous Engagement Ring said...

Nice blog….. You have expressed very well about Joe McElderry to Christmas. According to me both are fantastic singer.

28 May 2010 at 08:16  
Anonymous engagement rings said...

I am biggest fan of Rage albums which are around 20 million in number

23 November 2010 at 12:45  

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