For the first time in who knows how long, all eyes are on the British music charts in a battle of Christmas spirits.
The Christmas single is, as is my understanding of Love Actually, a pretty big deal. The group or artist that manages to sell the most copies of their newest song during the holiday season gets the chance to be in a witty rom-com with everyone’s favourite stars from the U.K.
I could have misinterpreted this corporate holiday tradition, but, from what I’ve been reading in the U.K. press, this year’s battle for No. 1 is one of the most contested and “interesting” stories in the Christmas single narrative.
In one corner sits X-Factor winner Joe McElderry with his single, “The Climb.” X-Factor is sort of the pre-cursor to American Idol, but apparently more intense. And, of course, it’s all got Simon Cowell’s seal of approval.
In the other corner, sits Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 single “Killing in the Name.” A couple of people were so pissed off by Simon Cowell’s control over pop music’s holiday crown that they started a Facebook-based campaign to knock his pop-puppetry down off the charts.
The march to the Christmas single is in the 11th hour, and apparently Rage are ahead by a smidgen of a lead. The band recently stated they’d re-reunite for a free show in the U.K. if they win, and even Sir Paul McCartney has given Rage and their single-supporters a good pat on the back.
As with everything in the British music scene, this whole Christmas single head-to-head has not come without its own bit of “scandal.” Cowell has called the campaign “stupid,” while a U.K. columnists have said he felt “manipulated” by the Facebook campaign. Apparently some folks have commented that the Facebookers should better spend their time protesting “real” causes or something like that.
Unfortunately, for these individuals, it seems like they’ve missed the point. For the naysayers who want the organizers to organize something “better,” they seem to miss the point that pushing a song about political corruption to the top of the charts during a time when people pay attention to that chart the most could potentially make other people look outside of their little world of pop and consider the world beyond their doors. And others who feel “bullied” by the Facebook campaign should question why they never felt that one person’s distinct taste in music was pressed upon them when it was Cowell doing the pressing. The fact that the man has created an empire based on pushing his brand of music onto the greater society should have certainly rang some alarm a long time ago.
What about the fact that a 17-year-old song would dominate the charts? Well, how much better is it when a watered-down cover of Miley Cyrus gets the top spot? Or, even more curious, when The Beatles continue to crush current musical acts whenever they release another collection in mono-only CDs, or something like that.
But the real question remains: Shouldn’t someone do a little re-tinkering of the gears within which people measure their favourite holiday song in the U.K.? Perhaps if folks didn’t pay so close attention to some chart, everyone would be able to find that one special song that they love… actually.