Rage, Cowell and the 00s
In today's internet age, this is already an old story but Rage Against The Machine beat X-Factor winner Joe 'nice but dull' McElderry to number one in the pop charts for Christmas 2009. Something I find quite brilliant.
As we end the “noughties”, two things to encapsulate the decade is the prolific use of the internet and reality 'instant fame' TV culture. It's poster boy, Mr Simon Cowell. A man who began the decade orchestrating novelty songs by Robson & Jerome and Zig & Zag and ended it controlling prime time British television and being Americas highest earning TV star by publicising profitable, disposable starlets over talented artists.
Ten years ago, the success of the Facebook campaign to block the X-Factor song would have been unlikely. The internet was in its toddler years and social networking is still a recent phenomenon. Like those who set up the group, I love pop music but fed up with MOR drivel that is so readily lapped up by those easily seduced by the influence of television.
I've nothing against Joe (who I predict will be as popular as Leon Jackson in a year or so and will only look comfortable when he's singing in musicals) and others like him but Killing slaying the dreary Miley Cyrus cover for the coveted number one is a fabulous, en mass statement against manipulated banality.
As for the profit issue, RATM are signed to Epic and Cowell owns Syco. Both are separate subsidiaries of Sony and Cowell won't directly gain anything expect more column inches. Those who have dismissed the campaign as worthless are missing the point.
Killing in the Name is a protest song (about racism) and the songs final pay off “Fuck you I won't do what you tell me” has been reinterpreted as a direct message to Cowells monopoly on popular culture. It's also a bloody good pop song.
Will this event change popular culture? Unlikely, but it’s a warning shot and validates the power of internet social networking (another casualty of the year; the hateful Jan Moir).
RATM scoring the Christmas number one this year is a perfect exclamation to the end to a decade full of bland talent, reality TV shows and vacuous, 15 second fame celebrities.
I'm really looking forward to watching the Christmas number one being announced on Top of the Pops this year.
Merry Christmas etc etc...