This day in Metal… The UK Rage Against the X-Factor

One year ago, this Sunday, the UK silent majority did something phenomenal, something that had never been achieved ever before. Just two people, a couple living in the UK that had become sick of Simon Cowell’s and the X-Factor’s monopoly on the charts, deciding that enough was enough, created the first successful grass-roots campaign to stop the X-Factor from gaining their “inevitable” number one spot.  No one thought it was possible and even the arrogant presenters of X Factor laughed it off as a “pathetic little campaign,” but they were wrong…

Read on after the jump to see my full article on these events and why the UK has failed to Rage against the X-Factor this year.

This was not just an amazing feat for the UK people who had become sick of the commercialized, manufactured, bullshit excuse for music dominating the Christmas top spot, year in year out, but it also proved that anarchy in the UK isn’t dead, and that rock in the UK isn’t dead.  For years, the music press have been TELLING us that “rock is dead.” “Metal is dead.” And that this kind of music isn’t “cool” anymore. They’ve been feeding us bullshit to digest and telling us what to buy, and what we should like. Like robots, people have just been tuning into the channel, letting the press tell them what to buy. Just look at the X-Factor. They take; use and abuse ordinary people and turn them into “stars,” before breaking them of course…

Each year, the winners of the X-Factor release a cover song, which always makes it to the number one spot. But interestingly, the original versions of the chosen winner’s song are often tracks that have never been number one before. If the song is so good, and if the public aren’t puppets, then surely, in theory, the original song should have made the number one spot when they were first released (or even should make the number one spot instead of the X Factor’s version)? So why don’t they? Because the press and media haven’t told people to buy that song. And that, my friends, is what is wrong with the music industry and people today.

This is why, when at 6:45pm, whilst drinking my beer and eating my dinner, Rage Against the Machine were announced as triumphant with their iconic protest song, Killing in the Name, that I knew history had been made and something amazing had been achieved. The naysayers can say what they want, but when 620-odd-thousand people chose to download that song, they had not only chosen to stop the X-Factor, but had chosen real music in favour of bullshit karaoke. Just one Facebook campaign, costing a grand total of nothing, had brought enough people together to stop a televised campaign, with magazines, media and press on its side, not to mention a grand cost of millions of Great British Pounds. That is the power people have when they come together for one common goal. If people can choose what they want as number one, then can’t the apathetic nation realize what they can achieve politically?

Killing in the Name was a fantastic choice to thwart the X-Factor, thanks to its amazing energy, unique sound, and brilliant protest attitude. The lines “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” resonated through the ears of everyone in the country, and people raised their middle fingers to the UK pop industry, chanting “fuck you, we won’t buy what you sell us.” A lot of what made the campaign work so well was the choice of band and song. Metal and rock fans jumped on board, but so did fans of good music, and people that were plain sick of generic pop ballads, that have zero meaning or integrity behind their existence, other than to milk cash. So why has the UK failed this year?

The UK has failed this year, because one, bandwagon jumpers. Too many people are fucking lazy. They think “well that was jolly good fun, but I can’t be bothered doing it again.” These people mostly jumped on the bandwagon last year, because it was “cool” (ah horrid irony) and then immediately jumped off it.

Second reason? Song choice: This year there are just FAR too many campaigns, and frankly they’re nearly all fucking stupid. With Rage Against the Machine, we (arguably) all actually stood for something. This year, there’s no message, just pure stupidity.  There’s John Cage’s 4:33, a 4 minute and 33 second silent composition. There’s Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird (the biggest competitor), which is just a ridiculous gimmick song, mostly known from Family Guy. It’s like people said “we’re sick of shit music [X-Factor], so we’re going to try and get an even shittier song to number one [Surfin’ Bird]” – What’s the point? Then there’s Corey Taylor’s Xm@s, an anti-Christmas song. Corey obviously decided to jump on the bandwagon himself, without fans choosing him. This is probably the best choice for Christmas number one, because it’s a brand new song, and all money raised goes towards the Teenage Cancer Trust. Still doesn’t change the fact the song is shit though, does it? And then there’s X-Factor reject, Gamu something or other that has released some awful song she can’t even promote due to her contract with the X-Factor. Finally, there’s the original Biffy Clyro song that X-Factor winner Matt Cardle has hijacked for his winning song. The charts haven’t aired yet, but other than Biffy Clyro or Trashmen, it’s looking unlikely that many of the campaign songs will even make the top 40. Let alone get close to the number one spot.

Third reason? Call me a hypocrite, but this year, X-Factor winner Matt Cardle is actually rather talented. Expect him to stay around for quite a while. In addition, his chosen song, When We Collide (originally called Many of Horror and by Biffy Clyro) is actually a decent choice of song, unlike last year’s The Climb by Joe McElderry (and originally by Miley Cyrus gah).

Maybe, we will never achieve this ever again. Who knows? But December 20th 2009 should forever be remembered in people’s minds as the day when people finally stood up to, and succeeded in doing so, against the media giants. It’s a day when people made a choice and took power into their own hands. Christmas number one 2009 will always require a footnote, and for that reason, it will always be a success. The fight is never over though, so remember people, regardless of where you are in the world, do your bit for music, and never let real music die. You don’t have to like RATM, you don’t even have to agree with what I’ve said in this article, but believe in something and be willing to fight for that. In regards to music, it’s becoming increasingly hard for real musicians to make money (yes I know it’s not all about the money), and to be supported by labels. Just look at Guido’s post on why producers are assholes.

So my final words, never stop raging against the machine and never give up. In the mean time, check out the video below, have a mince pie, drink some beer, and just have a damn good Christmas!

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