The best Christmas story of 2009 goes something like this: Joe McElderry, the winner of the British based singing competition The X-Factor, aka Simon Cowell’s newest television creation, recently released his debut single, a cover of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”. Like the previous four winners of the competition, McElderry’s song was expected to claim the #1 song on the U.K. charts for the week of Christmas.
But sometime a few weeks back, Jon Morter started a Facebook group in attempt to prevent this from happening. Instead, he encouraged people to purchase Rage Against the Machine‘s 1992 hit “Killing in the Name”.
Over the last week, the faceoff garnered quite a bit of media attention, and even saw a few high-profile musicians get involved.
“Everyone expects Joe to do it. If he goes to Number One then good luck to him. Hes just some kid with a career ahead… Ive got nothing against that, but it would be kind of funny if Rage Against The Machine got it because it would prove a point,” said Sir Paul McCartney.
Add the Foo Fighters Dave Grohl: “We were on our way here and we stopped at a rest stop. It was 4.30 in the morning, I hadn’t slept all night and there was nobody in there except the one guy who works at the sandwich stand… I was paying for my sandwiches and he said: ‘Are you going to buy the Rage Against the Machine single this week?’ I said: ‘Yeah, I think I might have to!'”
The two sides themselves even got involved.
Rage Against the Machine took to BBC Radio for an on air chat and controversial performance:
This has been a real grass roots campaign and I think it has tapped into the silent majority, said Tom Morello. The people in the UK are tired of being spoon fed one schmaltzy ballad after another and they want to take back their own charts. We are honoured that they have chosen our song to be the rebel factor to try and topple the X-Factor monopoly.
In turn, McElderry admitted that he had never heard the song prior to the whole showdown. When he finally did, his thoughts went something like this:
“They can’t be serious!” he said. “I had no idea what it sounded like. It’s dreadful and I hate it. How could anyone enjoy this? Can you imagine the grandmas hearing this over Christmas lunch?”
Well, as it turned out, Grandmas will be hearing it over Christmas lunch as Rage Against the Machine have taken home the honors of being Christmas’ #1. According to Gigwise, “Killing in the Name” sold sold 502,000 units, while McElderry’s “The Climb” managed 450,000. Rage sold over 200,000 copies on Friday and Saturday alone.
In celebration, Rage Against the Machine is expected to perform a free concert in the U.K. in 2010.
Now, how’s that for a Christmas story?