Raging Against the Machine….
Dec 21st, 2009 by JuannyCinco

So social media is raging against the machine by sentencing the latest winner of X-Factor Joe McElderry to the ignominy of being No.2 in the Charts.

Don’t know what I’m on about? Well…here’s the easy button for your Royal Laziness.

Not since Wham!’s “Last Christmas” 1 has a song deserved to be one place higher but failed to reach number one purely on the back of a media blitz supporting the desire of the masses to have another single be the Christmas Number 1. In 1984, Wham! could not usurp the band-aid fix for Africa that made Bob Geldof more famous than miserable Monday’s – “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” 2

Today the motive is that of a child-like prank – we’re too cool for the X-Factor let’s show the machine!  Then the motive was for Bob Geldof to solve the entire African conflict with food supplies.  Differences aside, the goal was the same – to get a number 1 ! (Perhaps one was more altruistic but that’s splitting hairs).

As much as I find the whole thing amusing I had but a few thoughts on the whole matter I needed to share.

  1. Could they have chosen a less politically charged song? Granted it contains the line “Fuck You ! I won’t do what you tell me” but that, contrary to popular belief, does not refer to Zach’s youthful tantrums against his mother.   Raging against the machine is not about Simon Cowell.  This song is about the KKK, the police, and injustice.  I understand the intended irony but wouldn’t it have been more amusing to have Jason and Kylie have a redemptive number one? 3
  2. Can we show respect for RATM. The band donated proceeds to charity. Will Sony BMG do the same?  I doubt it.  Will Simon? I doubt it.  Anyway – that means the band’s portion of your 29p went to Charity!  Yay – that’s 2.9 p to help the Youth.. at least you’re all looking out for each other.
  3. I remember when Indie music was Indie music, when record fairs were record fairs, when every city had a Vinyl Fever, when ever city had a vibrant alternative culture when no-one needed to drive an effort to get the right music heard.  In fact, music was so Indie it had separate charts and we watched Top Of the Pops for laughs.  This all changed when Oasis somehow infiltrated the BBC and got mainstream popularity.
  4. I’ve finally actually become a Johnny Cash lyric.4
  5. Africa may be confused.  How did we go from “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” to “Killing in the Name Of?”.  In 1984 we sent them food.  Are we going to send them guns this time?

Mainly I thought that this was a self-defeating effort.  Let’s prove we’re not controlled by the machine by controlling each other to manipulate the machine.   This was not an effort of independence but an effort of conformity.  It did not succeed just because of a single Facebook initiative RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE FOR CHRISTMAS NO.1” but because it was pushed and prodded along by the BBC Radio 1 and others…. so social media worked when combined with mainstream media.   I could not help but think of The Kaiser Chiefs:

“We are the angry mob. We read the papers everyday. We like who we like, we hate who we hate. But we’re also easily swayed.”

Now that would have been a more ironic Number 1.  Maybe next year?


1 It was #1 for raising money though – out raising the Band Aid single and George was a key part of Band-Aid so Ethiopa was forgiven by all.  Andrew Ridgely’s feelings on the matter are irrelevant, of course.

2Personally, I hope they, the 60% of them that are Christian didn’t know. It has to be disappointing to be both starving and have Santa fail to bring gifts (and probably STILL eat their cookies).

3 Arguably almost as deserving as “Last Christmas” was “Especially for You” by Kylie and Jason in 1988 held from the top spot by  Cliff Richards’  “Mistletoe and Wine”.

4 Johnny Cash What is Truth

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