Published Dec 21, 2009As anyone who's watched Love Actually knows, getting the Christmas No. 1 single in the UK is a big deal. Every year, major artists battle it out to top the charts, and previous winners include such megastars as the Spice Girls and Robbie Williams, as well as three different versions of Band Aid.
This year, the front-runner was Joe McElderry, who recently won The X Factor, the British equivalent of American Idol. The outcome seemed a foregone conclusion, as X Factor winners have taken the Christmas No. 1 every year since 2005.
However, British music fans decided that this year they were sick of prefabricated pop dominating the charts and initiated a grassroots campaign to make Rage Against the Machine's anti-establishment anthem "Killing in the Name" the Christmas No. 1. The campaign was mostly run via a Facebook group, and they managed to shift 502,000 units (physically and digitally), beating out Joe McElderry's 450,000.
RATM guitarist Tom Morello had previously announced that the band would play a free concert to celebrate the victory. After Rage were announced as the winners, he issued a thank you statement, writing, "Rage Against the Machine are honoured to have been drafted by this historic grassroots campaign to make our song 'Killing in the Name' the No. 1 song on the UK Christmas Week pop chart."
Morello confirmed that the band would play a free concert in the UK, and also promised that proceeds from the campaign would go to charity. He concluded that "while there are many lessons that can be drawn from this historic upset, the main one is this: that ordinary people, banding together in solidarity, can change ANYTHING, be it the pop charts or the world." (Read the full statement at here.)
Simon Cowell, creator of The X Factor, accepted his loss graciously, even going so far as to offer the creators of the "Killing in the Name" campaign jobs at his Syco Records Label. Digital Spy reports that they have turned him down.
Of course, what's really amazing about the victory is that the UK's Christmas No. 1 contains the phrase "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" repeated 16 times.