Can the X-Factor Gravy Train Be Derailed by Rage?
You may not know Tracy and Jon Morter, but Simon Cowell does. Apparently rattled by the duo’s half a million strong Facebook campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’ to Christmas number one in place of the X Factor winner, he denounced their efforts as ‘stupid’ and ‘cynical’ at a press conference about the show.
“I think the campaign’s aimed directly at me..that is going to spoil the party for these three,” moaned Cowell, referring to the three X Factor finalists, Stacey Solomon, Olly Murs and Joe McElderry, quite possibly the dullest finalists the show has ever seen. Cowell paints them as victims of cynicism when in fact these three mediocre vocalists will have more of a leg up this Christmas than any other artist. Two finalists will both record the Christmas release, which will be performed live on prime time television with an audience of millions, so that once the public vote has been cast production of the winner’s version can be rushed out in time to make it to number one. No trace of cynicism there then…
Cowell unwittingly admits what we all suspected, that he sees the Christmas number one as an extra prize for his X Factor winner. But does that matter? Is it important which record is number one on Christmas Day?
Campaigns to block the efforts of the X Factor record from being number one are turning into a Christmas tradition themselves – last year Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ was the chosen track after Alexandra Burke recorded it. Jeff only made it to number two but a valiant effort it was. The Cowell stable has dominated the decade in terms of Christmas number ones, starting in 2002 when Girls Aloud’s ‘Sound of the Underground’ took the top spot. The maudlin Gary Jules version of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ managed to score one for the non-pop fans in 2003, and Band Aid 20 secured the number one the year after, but this year could make it five in a row for X Factor winners at Christmas. Even the Beatles only managed four…
Far from the X Factor winner entering into a level playing field in which they fairly attract the record buying public, they have had weeks of prime time advertising space, working the viewers up into a frenzy of voting and campaigning. A staggering amount of column inches and broadcast hours have been dedicated to watching the competition unfold – not exactly a fair match for two members of the public using a free social networking site to garner support. However, if every one of the half a million who have joined the Rage Against the X Factor group buys the single, it could be a very, very close race indeed.
Despite what Simon Cowell thinks, the campaign is not all about him. It’s about the commercial radio DJ gurning his way through the chart with his unplaceable accent only to end up having to announce that some shouty hippies have swiped the number one – and he can’t even play it in full because of the swearing. It’s about that irritating fool in your office who has yammered on about nothing but the bloody X Factor since it began, and the look on his or her face when said DJ has to say “And at number 2 – some bland muppet”. It’s about that most British of pursuits, being contrary. I for one look forward to the day that my bemused grandchild asks me how come an anti-war rant with the refrain ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me’ became Christmas number one in 2009, and I can remember with a wry smile.
There is also a fundraising effort at http://www.justgiving.com/ratm4xmas which has already raised over £6,000 for Shelter.