Sorry Simon Cowell, X-Factor winner Joe McElderry, and all you mindless UK American-Idol based program, X-Factor drones—the people have spoken and they are tired of manufactured reality tv celebrities. The voice of their outrage, Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing in the Name”, which is only fitting. Their battle grounds, the coveted top spot on Brittan’s Music charts for the week preceding Christmas.
For those not familiar, Brittan (the part of the United Kingdom that doesn’t include Northern Ireland, and commonly referred to as England by us Americans) is part of the United Kingdom, a country over in Europe. They are a lot like America over there, only they use coin money that is shared across Europe, speak a silly version on English, and like to wear big hats (and from personal experience they can’t go three minutes without telling Americans why their country sucks and is destined to fail).
Just as we have a singing competition that is in it’s one millionth season of manufacturing a celebrity who turns out a single hit record and then fades into obscurity in order to make room for the next winner, UK has it’s own show, X-Factor, and yes, it is also created by Simon Cowell, and yes, there is a Simon Cowell clone on the show (because the only thing better than someone singing badly is them crying after being verbally abused for singing badly). To the winner goes the spoils—a recording contract with record label Syco with a stated value of £1,000,000, including a cash payment to the winner, but the majority is allocated to marketing and recording costs, as well as the publicity that comes with appearing constantly on a show that has 4.5 million UK viewers.
Another little sneaky thing the people at X-Factor have done is cleverly timing the release of the winner’s debut single so it comes out the week before Christmas. Since The X-Factor started in Britain in 2005, it’s been a given that the winner’s debut single goes to No. 1. According to the Telegraph, a UK based periodical, “By series 6 (2009) it had seemingly become such a certainty that the X Factor winner would gain the Christmas number one slot every year that bookmakers William Hill were considering withdrawing from the 30-year tradition of betting on the outcome….The Christmas number one has been the most popular festive flutter for 30 years but we will probably not bet on it next year as it is an X Factor benefit.”
Let’s be clear for a moment—Joe McElderry’s single was a cover of “The Climb”…a Miley Cyrus song, not a very good song by any means. A man, who is actually older than the origional recording artist, decided his single should be a cover of a song that not only was utter garbage, and was originally recorded that same year, but also had it’s Grammy nomination pulled (It was up for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media—however it was actually written by Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe, and while heavily featured in the Hannah Montana film, fml, it was not written specifically for the soundtrack). Frankly, even though I have no vested interest in the issue, I’m glad McElderry got stomped, if only for such a crappy song choice.
As Joel McHale would say, “IT’S MILEY TIME!”
“IT’S SOME BRITISH DUDE TIME!”
What lead to this toppling of the X-Factor Christmas Juggernaut? Well we’ll have to congratulate Jon and Tracy Morters, who started a very successful Facebook campaign. Now, This isn’t the Morters’ first attempt to launch a coup on the charts as last year they attempted to get Rick Astley to the top spot (a very ill advised move at the tail-end of a very annoying internet meme). However this 35 and 30 year old couple, respectively, learned from their previous mistake and launched an amazing campaign complete with little tricks of their own. According to the BBC, “The Los Angeles rock band’s hit also set another record: it has achieved the biggest download sales total in a first week ever in the UK charts. McElderry’s song was only released digitally after his victory in the X Factor, giving it less time to rack up sales than Rage Against The Machine.” Though unlike most battles in the music world that do no good, the Morters’ campaign included support for The Shelter, a UK based homeless charity, and Tom Morello of Rage has said he will donate a portion of his earnings to Youth Music, “A scheme helping young musicians in the UK”. Meanwhile the 12 finalists of X-Factor released a charity single cover of Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” which served as little more than a yearly publicity stunt (similar to American Idol Gives Back).
Bottom line: Counter culture won, the mainstream lost, all is happy in Christmas Land…except if you know that Cowell kept his hold on the album chart, with Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream remaining at number one for a fourth week. Merry Christmas.