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 Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)

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Schmiggens

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PostSubject: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:51 am

Simon Cowell had Britain's festive hit song tied up, until a Facebook campaign stepped in. Nick O'Malley reports.

'This is shit, isn't it?' says Bill Nighy's ageing rock star character in the film Love Actually to his producer, Joe, as he rehearses his Christmas song. ''Yep,'' says Joe gleefully, ''solid gold shit.''

For years one of those delightful British quirks has been its public's fascination with which song will sell best at Christmas.

Since charts began in 1952 a saccharine novelty ballad about Baby Jesus, mistletoe or undying love has reliably won out. Just looking at the list is enough to induce nausea.

Cliff Richard and the Shadows won in 1960 with I Love You. Wings's Mull of Kintyre was on top in 1977. You get the picture.

This year though, Rage Against the Machine won with Killing in the Name, a bracing inchoate howl of a song ending with singer Zack de la Rocha bellowing 17 times, ''F--- YOU I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME.''

How this 17-year-old nu-metal anthem came to top the Christmas chart has become a cultural debate.

For the past four years the true winner of the Christmas chart race has been Simon Cowell, the man behind talent shows including Britain's Got Talent, Pop Idol, American Idol and X-Factor, because the winner of X-Factor has gone on to top the Christmas charts, in turn filling the coffers of Cowell's record label, Syco.

Cowell rose to trans-Atlantic pop industry dominance by adapting the Australian series Popstars.

He stripped the format back, leaving a vehicle for endless auditions - and endless scope for his barbed criticism of poor performers - building towards the selection of a single winner.

The formula works so well that he now controls not only the most popular television programs in Britain and the US, but his record label has a sushi-train of young hit performers to feast on.

This year the series was won by Joe McElderry, a boy of dark good looks, sunny temperament and a sylibant s.

But his march up the charts was halted when a Facebook protest against his song, The Climb - a wet cover of a cloyingly inspirational ballad made famous by Miley Cyrus - was launched by Jon Morter, a 35-year-old hi-fi technician from Essex and his wife, Tracey, 30.

At the beginning of December they set up a Facebook group calling on people to download Killing in the Name, a song about US police racism rather than The Climb.

''It's a rallying cry,'' Morter told NME of the song. ''It's been taken on by thousands in the group as a defiance to Simon Cowell's 'music machine'. Some certainly do see it as a direct response to him personally. If that's what they take out of that song, then that's fine for them.

''We've nothing personal against him at all; we just do not want yet another Christmas chart-topper from that show again.''

Cowell was unimpressed. ''I think it's quite a cynical campaign geared at me,'' he said. Well, yes.

Rage Against the Machine threw themselves into the campaign, promising to donate their profits to the homeless charity Shelter and perform a free concert in Britain if it won. They did and, according to the Facebook page, more than 80,000 ($145,000) has already been raised.

''It says more about the spontaneous action taken by young people throughout the UK to topple this very sterile pop monopoly,'' said de la Rocha.

''When young people decide to take action they can make what's seemingly impossible, possible.''

So in the end what did it all mean? Did it prove young people were political? Did it reinforce the power of social networking sites as tools of protest? Did it prove that music written by bands rather than industry hacks could still succeed in an arena dominated by big business?

Sony BMG, of which Cowell's label is a subsidiary, probably doesn't much care. It owns the rights to both songs.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/music/rage-against-the-cowell-machine/2009/12/25/1261243941154.html
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PostSubject: Re: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:56 am

I love this story, it's a "power of the people" story and I love those kinds of stories.
I am sure it's the same in the US with American Idol, no matter how crappy the winner's song is, you're almost guaranteed its going to go straight to number 1. And generally speaking the winners song are crappy bubblegum pop with no substance, so they couldn't have picked a more anti-X-Factor song than Killing In The Name Of.

I don't know WHY in the UK being Number 1 for Christmas is considered a bigger achievement than any other time of the year, does anyone know why? Or when this tradition started?
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PostSubject: Re: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:51 pm

Yeah, it's fantastic. I love it.

I think the point is the UK Christmas Number 1 is always a shit novelty song, and everybody wonders how bad they can get... I think everyone's sick of it. used to be you'd buy the single as a gift for people as a joke, and inadvertantly the dumbass song would skyrocket to the top of the charts.

Mr. Blobby would be a good example of that.

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PostSubject: Re: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:52 am

I dont really understand this obsession we have with the Christmas number 1 in the UK, I think Gaboman is partly right about it normally being some crappy novelty theme but I think it's also partly to do with the fact that people seem to remember what was number 1 at christmas more than at any other timer of the year the fact you rememberd mr blobby kind of proves the point. I also think it used to be a close race to see who would get the Christmas number 1 spot and the x factor has ruined that with mediocre singers getting to number with mediocre songs and thats why this facebook campaign worked because people are sick of this manufactured nonsense.
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PostSubject: Re: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:36 am

Actually, looking at the list of Christmas Number Ones in the UK not ALL of them are bad songs, sure there's a lot of Pop Idol/ X-Factor winners in there, but that doesn't mean they're bad songs, Alexandra Burke's cover of Hallelujah was alright and kind of appropriate for Christmas. And at the time, Spice Girls & East 17 were the top of a lot of Charts, not just at Christmas. I Will Always Love You was number 1 everywhere for ever. Band Aid and Band Aid 2 are Christmas songs (kind of) so of course they were released around Christmas.

Sure, Bob The Builder and Mr Blobby aren't exactly classics, but the rest of the list really isn't that bad, especially the further back you go, but I guess people have short memories and the target audience for this kind of thing is young, so they wouldn't remember too far back, only the last couple of years.
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PostSubject: Re: Rage Against Simon Cowell (UK)   Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:46 am

AND as far as novelty songs go, Bob the Builder and Mr Blobby aren't the worst of them. Crazy Frog gets my vote for the most annoying, that was just engine noises, the most annoying engine noises ever. The Ad Agency that come up with that ringtone needs to be shot.
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