This week’s Net Office went live this morning. Original copy here, final copy over on the NS website.
The Mirror is reporting today that RATM are 60,000 ahead of McElderry, but that CD sales may close that gap. I don’t mind saying that I haven’t been this excited by the charts since Blur vs Oasis.
And so, the decade ends with a clash of ideologies. In the blue corner, we have the individual, coiffed, tanned and flossed, battling against what life throws at him, relishing each challenge without questioning the system that created the obstacles he must overcome. In the red corner huddle the united masses, dreadlocked and disaffected, aware of the complex elites that govern their lives and ready to overthrow them through the simple act of violent rebellion. The fight for Christmas number one has never been so exciting.
Before Joe McElderry had been announced as X factor winner last Sunday, members of the 700,000-strong Facebook group “Rage Against the Machine for Christmas No. 1!” were already purchasing downloads of the US alt-metal outfit’s 1993 single “Killing in the Name”. Their aim? To boot McElderry’s disinfected country ballad “The Climb” off its almost guaranteed number one spot, in favour of a track whose lyrics contain the word “fuck” 17 times. If each of the 700,000 Facebook group members defy the economics of collective action and download the track this week, their victory is almost assured.
The Titanomachia of old and new media is compelling. Simon Cowell has branded the RATM campaign “cynical”. In reality it is anything but.
“Killing in the Name” was released back when the recording industry still seemed authentic – at least to the middle class kids who made up most of RATM’s fans then, and probably most of the Facebook group now. Yes, RATM are signed to Sony. But in 1993 Sony and the like hadn’t yet commenced their war against the internet – and by extension against all young people. It’s a war that is right now culminating in Westminster, as legislators debate a Bill with shady provisions for punitive action against illicit filesharers, that gives the Secretary of State carte blanche to devise enforcement measures in favour of record labels. What the RATM Facebook action recognises is that the music is ours, as well as theirs – that years after a track has been produced, hundreds of thousands of people can still be moved by it to take action, however trivial that action might seem.
So if you fancy your hope a little subversive this Christmas, join the Facebook group and get downloading. And as you’re pogo jumping to some of the best guitar riffs of the nineties, remember, the devil doesn’t have to have all the best tunes.