Music News and Interviews

How Rage Against the Machine stole Christmas

Over the past couple of weeks a very interesting story has developed coming out of England. First let’s get started through giving you a little bit of back story.

For the past couple of years, the winner of the popular British music show “The X Factor,” has gone on to getting the number one selling single the week of Christmas which sets it to the top of the “Christmas Number One Singles Chart” in England. In 2005, X Factor winner Shayne Ward, had the number one Christmas single. In 2006, winner Leona Lewis, made it to the top. When 2007 rolled around, winner Leon Jackson had the number one single. This trend continued in 2008 when Alexandra Burke made it to “Christmas Number One” (which the number one Christmas single is referred to as).

Then the followers of Rage Against the Machine took notice, and they weren’t going to take this anymore.

The campaign initially took place at a completely grassroots level as member Tom Morello explained, “We were followers in this campaign, we tried to lend some wind to its sails, but it began at a completely grassroots level without the band’s involvement.” In describing how he was first introduced to what the fans were attempting to do he said, “The campaign first came to my attention a couple of weeks ago when some friends of mine in the UK emailed me about it. I checked it out online and as it began to gain momentum I realized what a potentially historic moment it could be – and the band knew that we needed to throw our weight behind it.”

The premise seemed simple enough, get the popular 1992 track by Rage Against the Machine, “Killing in the Name” to Christmas Number One and defeat 2009 X-Factor winner, Joe McElderry.

The fans and the band started pushing all their weight behind this one goal. The Facebook page in support of the campaign gained thousands of followers, and the band used the force of other social networking sites like Twitter in their effort to make it to Christmas Number One. Tom Morello went on to post things like, “Attention Freedom Fighters! RAGE VS. X-FACTOR WILL BE DECIDED BY SATURDAY’S SALES. Spread the word! Knock on doors! Host downloading parties! Knock over ladies buying X-factor! The clock is ticking. And if ‘Killing In The Name’ is number one WE ARE COMING. And it will be the victory party to end all victory parties.”

Judge of The X-Factor Simon Cowell went on to say that the campaign was “stupid”, “cynical”, and “very Scrooge”.

The time for pushing and selling the single had finally ended on December 19th. The result came in. Joe McElderry’s cover of The Climb totaled 450,000 sales. “Killing in the Name” sold 50,000 more. Rage Against the Machine and their group of dedicated fans had won.

Morello would go on to say, “Make no mistake about it, this was a political act! This was an entire nation delivering a stinging slap of rejection to the whole notion of pre-fabricated pop ruling the charts. And Rage’s victory over The X Factor was an act of God. That the bad winter weather came in, keeping people away from stores and made it more of a fair fight, because we didn’t have hard copies in stories. When Paul McCartney (who endorsed the act by Rage Against the Machine earlier)and Mother Nature agree on something it’s going to be unstoppable!”

He would then proudly say, “Rage Against The Machine was built for moments like this,” Morello followed up, “That historic chart upset the other night is one we’re very proud to have been a part of, but more proud that it showed that people uniting in solidarity can do anything. That’s the lasting message from this. It went from being ‘let’s kick The X Factor off the top of the charts’ to a real people’s movement and, in the future, the energy behind it can be used for other social justice causes and not just chart-topping.”

The band is planning to take the stage early next year in a celebration of winning Christmas Number One in both the UK and the United States.

After a strong campaign by fans and by the band, Rage Against the Machine proved that this Christmas Number One was going to be one to remember.