Monday, 21 December 2009

In which Christmas is no time for raging against anything.

To be printed 24/12/09.

Victory! Rargh! We’ve raged against the Cowell machine and won! Power to the people! The revolution will not be televised! Etc, etc.

Actually, I don’t care.

I’ve tried to care. I know we’re all meant to – as supporters of general good taste, authenticity and not funding Simon’s collection of solid gold tongue scrapers any further than is necessary, we’re supposed to have spent the last two weeks in a frenzy of politicised rock anger, defending the sacred Christmas number one spot the way our parents defended Nelson Mandela and our grandparents defended, well, the country. That’s what we’re supposed to have been doing.

What I’ve actually been doing is picking the green triangles out of the Quality Street, drawing moustaches on the Radio Times and going, “meh.” But because not caring seems like an act of betrayal to my generation and the good name of music, I have compiled the following list of reasons to explain myself. Ahem. I didn’t care about Rage Against winning the top spot because:

1)      Joe McElderry is like a little puppy.

Cowell may be the evil, braying Barbour-jacketed pedigree trainer standing over him with the diamond incrusted whip, but Joe is just an innocent puppy. And by taking away his number one, we are effectively KICKING THE PUPPY. In the FACE.

2)      It’s just a big rock cliché.

Pulling the rug out from under Cowell’s feet is one thing, but do we really all have to turn into angry adolescent boys while we do it? I might have been more impassioned to buy the RATM single were it not called ‘Killing in the Name’, which just seems such a petty attempt at yuletide anarchy it may as well be wearing a t-shirt from Camden Market and sucking a cannabis lollipop.
“Ooh, ooh, let’s make a big rock statement and stick it to the man!”
“But wait, has it got a violent reference in the title?”
“Better than that, it’s got death!”
“Excellent. Man, we’re so, like, ANGRY and stuff. Bah, faceless corporate machine! Take THAT!*”

3)      Christmas number one is meant to be crap.

Think back over some past Christmas number ones. Go on. Too Much by the Spice Girls. Stay Another Day by East 17. I Have a Dream by Westlife. If anything, Cowell is just perpetuating a long tradition of mawkish, misty-eyed pop taking the top spot every year. To put a stop to it is like taking away cracker hats or Terry’s Chocolate Orange - it’s just too deeply ingrained in the festive season. Once the music stops being commercialised gumph, who knows what that would mean for the Christmas TV? And the food? Before you know it, we’ll all have to watch Panorama and knaw on an organic courgette. Is that what we really want? Is it?

4)      I don’t like Rage Against the Machine.

They’re the level I really can’t do on Guitar Hero.

So there we are. Much as I’m glad they've raised all that money for Shelter, and that Cowell’s reign of terror might be drawing to a close, I just can’t manage to care very much about the 'principle'. I shall be apathetic against the machine. Mildly vexed against the machine at best. And while there are green triangles in the house that still need eating, that will just have to do.

*Not the actual Take That. Obviously. They’re as anarchic as a Boxing Day sale at Edinburgh Woollen Mill.


  1. Personally, I don't like the RATM single, and would have much preferred some other alernative to the X-Factor to have pipped the bland but delightfully tooth-whitened Joe to the top spot.

    However, I do liken the curent scenario to that of a town where every single restaurant is a McDonalds, and then someone opens up an independent outlet: you'd probably choose to eat there just to get away from the mass-produced junk food that you're constantly being told is good for you. Even if the food was obnoxious, it would be good to give it a go every now and then!

  2. I have to agree with you there. I suppose maybe that's because I don't really listen to chart music that much anyway (I like to pick up obscure bands from Jools Holland etc) and also because, to me, the Christmas number one really isn't that much of a big deal! Having said that, this year's anarchy has inspired me. Over the next twelve months I shall be songwriting, promoting and hopefully by next December I will have a song of my very own up there battling it out. But it will be a very mild attempt to thwart Simon Cowell, more an attempt to melt people's hearts and remind them again of the wonder of the baby Jesus and the difference He can make to our lives today. x

  3. Witty humorous and correct. You go girl!

  4. I think the big story here isn't specifically about Rage Against The Machine - it's more about how "social media" like Facebook have enabled ordinary people to mount an extraordinary assault on what is essentially a British institution and cause somewhat of an upset.

    Much like you are leveraging the power of blogging to get yourself a job (best of luck, by the way).

  5. You're wrong Lauren - 'Stay another Day' by East 17 was a great song

  6. Sad as it may sound, unfortunately I don't think just a Christmas song would have cut it - I think the main reason Rage got so many downloads and interest was because of it's violent and protest manner - the fact that actually it's probably one of the last songs you'd consider to be Xmas no 1.

  7. Fair points and hilariously made. However, for me the town/restaurant analogy above is more apt...

    Merry Christmeh!

  8. I think you've completely missed the point tbh

  9. and I'd just like to mention the fact that the campaign has raised over £81,000 for charity (and rising)

    How can that be a bad thing?

  10. Excellent writing. I have £13 that says you won't be unemployed for long in 2010!

    nice one


  11. Lauren, I agree with gf. I think you missed the point. It's the point the media have completely missed. Social Media trounced Old Media. Why do you want a job with them anyway? It's a sinking ship.

    BTW, the song isn't about being an angry teenager. It's about former ku klux clan working in the police force ('Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses') and also about the riots in LA following the murder of Rodney King by cops.

    But then you knew that already because like your professional colleagues you do research before you write about stuff... right?

  12. Hear, hear. I've tried to express similar sentiments in my own blog (, but without your quality of writing. Good luck with the job search in 2010.

  13. Did the fact that the single was available to downloaded for FREE from Amazon have anything to do with it? Maybe a load of people who just wanted to join the bandwagon downloaded because it was FREE.

  14. Where to start?

    Free? @pritesh.patel, it wasn't free. Fact Check or Fact Off.

    Lauren, it wasn't Joe's number one to be taken from him. It's not Cowell's to give to him, either.

    This was a big Fuck You from the world of Social Media; a reclaiming of what X-Factor and others have told us belongs to them to hand out like a prize. Number One is a popularity contest and this was us, the public, taking it back.

    I've done a fiscal analysis of it here: Sony didn't make a Killing

  15. Amazon sales don't count toward the chart IIRC.
    & it was 29p I think.

    Nice blog, as always. Put a big smile on my mug anyway.
    Thanks & keep writing.