Al Byrne’s Radio Bile

Spot the surreptitious photoshopping, guv.

I suppose congratulations are in order to some of you readers. Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” has been named the UK’s Christmas number one single, beating out X Factor winner Joe Mcthingy’s Miley Cyrus cover “The Climb” by some number of downloads. Or something. Well, woo bloody hoo. Have a metaphorical biscuit.

It’s not that I don’t understand the impetus behind the whole Facebook campaign that started this whole escapade. I’m as sick as anyone of The X Factor’s primped-up guffery clogging up valuable space on this festering mess of overpopulation and unmitigated mass consumption we call “Earth”. Why not have a bit of a laugh at Simon Cowell’s expense by sending a better song to the top spot? If nothing else, the grass roots (well, I say “grass”, more “fibre optic wire”) nature of the ordeal is impressive, if only – as John Walker pointed out – as an example of the mostly-untapped potential of the internet as a means of screwing important things up in hilarious ways. That much, I understand.

Two problems though.

Firstly, couldn’t we have picked a better song? I mean, I like “Killing in the Name”, but isn’t it a little… I dunno… predictable? For years, RATM have been the band du jour of would-be anarchists and angry, petulant teenagers: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” might seem meaningful when you’re twelve years old and being told to turn off the MagiConsole 47, but once you hit 21 or so, and your soul dies as you come to terms with the crushing emptiness of our collective existence, it starts to seem like so much impotent rage, like a toddler punching an elephant. Grow up, son, and give up.

The fact that Tom Morello and co started doing some ridiculously po-faced pontificating about how this was an important strike against vapid pop music and a blow for originality and art just made it all even more insufferably stupid – for one thing, who are they to assign meaning to a campaign they had nothing to do with, and also, I preferred it when it was a campaign for cheap giggles.

So, yes, instead of pointless quasi-political sloganeering (since this campaign stripped the song of its original, powerful message, throw something even more subversive into the fray. Like, say, Cheryl Cole’s “Fight For This Love”. I know it doesn’t immediately seem like the most incisive way to stick it to the X Factor troupe, but think about it: Joe being denied the Christmas number one by the one person who most wanted him to get it? His biggest supporter denying him his biggest victory? Imagine the bitterness, the hatred, the jealousy we’d have stirred up in him. The confused mix of joy and sorrow we’d have forced Cole to endure. We probably could have set up another campaign to have them duke it out in a UFC cage, or at least watched Cole’s head explode from the tragic irony of it all. It’d definitely have wiped that irritating perma-grin off Joe’s face.

Secondly, the Christmas number one? What is this, 1985? I wasn’t even aware people kept track of it anymore. Was that really worth a campaign? What’s next, a movement to have Grand Theft Auto 5 released on the Commodore? If we really wanted people to care about the charts again, we need to think bigger. Better. More unfeasbily, incredibly pointless and futile. Let’s put Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone” at the top of the charts – in the middle of June. He probably needs the money, more than anything else.

Actually, no. That’s not dumb enough. Let’s put the theme from Shaft at number one for an entire year. Everyone already loves that song, if only ironically, so it’s not like anyone would object to buying it a couple of times over the course of 12 months. Let’s keep it there until it completely destroys the already-depleted meaning of hitting the top of the charts. We can claim we’re turning the charts into some post-modern work of art, depicting the clash between the permanent (Isaac Hayes’ place at number one) and the ephemeral (everything from number two down). That’d probably get some chin-stroking art critics up in arms too, so it’s a double win.

Actually, that’s far too much effort. Screw it – I’ll just go back to ignoring the entire rest of the world.

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  • Senior

    Poo-poo to you killjoy. Stick it riiight up you.

  • Emmi

    I didn’t mind the campaign (actually thought it was a fun idea) before 96% of all the Facebook updates I had to read on my page were people talking (no, raving) about it.
    “Come on people! Lets do this!”
    “We can do this – buy the song here, here or here!”
    “Did we make it?!”
    “Fuck Simon Cowell – I won’t do what you tell me!”
    “OH YEAHHHHHH RATM iz numba one!!”


    I can’t wait for the hype to be over. Which should be sometime around tomorrow.

  • Senior

    Emmi, no one forces you to read something you don’t want huh. Or do you not have the capability to ignore something you don’t like, learn to then. I’ve never been on facebook due to similar types of reasons. Don’t want to spend all day reading whack.

    The hype may die down – sure – but you can read about it in music history. It IS a music event that won’t be forgotten in a long time. Since you can’t stop yourself from reading that is.
    Merry Xmas.
    PS this article is rubbish as it proposes a battle of like with like, at least it was polar opposites involved in the battle. I’d eat my own crap before buying Cheryl Cole.

  • Al Byrne

    @Emmi: I avoided the Facebook deluge by – and this is quite clever, I think – not being on Facebook. Score one for casual misanthropy. :D Still managed to get pretty peeved with the ubiquity of the campaign, of course.

    @Senior: Well, okay, but when we’re all buying an inoffensive Cheryl Cole single and laughing our eyes out, you’re gonna look back on that comment with not inconsiderable regret.

  • Emmi

    @Senior I actually somewhat excel in ignoring things I don’t want to read or otherwise pay attention to. What I’m saying though, is that ignoring something that’s absolutely everywhere, can get a bit tricky. And just in case you were wondering, I don’t spend all of my day reading “whack”.

    You say the hype may die down, let me assure you, it _will_. The campaign will go down in history (duh) and I do think it was a fine idea, doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed by all the “Oh yeah wow man, we really showed ’em! Rage against the machine, whoo! Take that rich muthafuckas!”

    And a Merry Christmas to you too!

    @Al Luckily there are other means of communication than Facebook. :D Oh, thanks for the linky to John Walker’s blog thingy. T’was a good read.

  • Senior

    @Emmi, didn’t say you did read whack all day. You can ignore things that are everywhere. I ignore the recession news (it’s depressing) and that *really* is everywhere. I said ‘music’ history BTW, important distinction there. We still talk of the Sex Pistols and their impact after all these years huh.
    Of course the hype will die down, all great moments pass from the now into memory. Do you think I expect people to still be ‘hyped’ about this in 6 months – that would be a bit weird (and pointless).

    @Al – if it was x-factor v x-factor then I can promise you I would have absolutely no interest what-so-ever. I wouldn’t find it funny either. I would only assume it was a Cowell plan to further line his coffers.
    You don’t like this Joe guy, well I have never seen or heard him, and me buying RATM was nothing to do with him (could be a nice guy), he’ll no doubt be No1 next week anyway. Although the song may be so bad for all I know that that might not happen ha ha. My protest was against Cowell and x-factor arrogance that it was certain they get No1. We’ll the silent, sizeable, minority spoke up for once.

    Enjoy your Cole single and laugh. Don’t see the joke or point there myself. That cow can go and suck her grubby husband’s dirty you know what for all I care, whilst humming her new No1 tune.