Monday, 28 December 2009

Post Mortem

I became curiously caught up in the attempt to deny Cowell his automatic Christmas No.1, and the cheer that went up from this house that Sunday night echoed across the valley and sent the dog under the sofa. Childish really, but as it seemed increasingly unlikely that we could succeed, I began to feel that not failing was more important than succeeding. It would be absurd to place too much significance on what was essentially a light-hearted exercise, even if there was a serious underlying message about corporate manipulation of the music industry and its impact on original, independent artists. But I suspect that the success of a grassroots Internet campaign to overturn a £50 million media machine, against all expectation, may not have gone unnoticed in government circles here and overseas. Any failure might equally have been noted.

In what was the coldest week for years, one happy side effect of the campaign was the £100,000 odd which the Facebook group members donated to Shelter, to which 'Rage Against the Machine' have promised to add their unexpected windfall income. The band have also announced a free UK gig in 2010, and rumour has it that tickets will be allocated to the people who made a donation to the charity. This may be apocryphal, but there is logic in it, and it would be consistent with Rage Against the Machine's moral awareness. It became clear that only a minority of the million or so people who signed up to the Facebook group actually bought the track. On the other hand, while not everyone who bought donated, everyone who donated most certainly bought.

One odd thing became apparent in that interesting week; the average age of the Facebook campaigners was a lot older than you might think. Whilst the critical voices on the wall and on the rival Joe site spoke in SMS txtspk and looked pre-pubertal, the Rage site spanned every generation. In a bizarre rĂ´le reversal an older generation was encouraging the young to stop listening to schmaltzy covers and turn on to some angry hard-core metal rap. Whatever is the world coming to?


  1. Coming to its senses, one would hope! The best thing about this story was Cowell's attempt to buy the team behind the Facebook campaign - "come and work for me for vast sums of money". They told him where to stick it. How refreshingly principled.

  2. I agreed wholeheartedly with the principle of denying Simon Cowell yet another contrived Christmas number one, but found myself loathing RATM's alternative offering almost as much with their tuneless anti-Christmas re-hash of a 17 year old record which wasn't even very good first time round.

    A worthier contender, and I'd have been right there. I get the impression I am not the only one who feels like that and next Christmas there is room for an even bigger campaign if a decent alternative record is around to support.

  3. Steve - I heard that; good for them. The Morts (the title of this post wasn't intended to be a pun) ran the affair with admirable goodwill and dignity.

    Laura - I don't think one can really blame RATM; the song wasn't a rehash, nor even a re-release, and they knew nothing about it. Benny Hill or Beethoven's 5th would have served equally well. I think it would be a pity if this were repeated each year; it might become as manipulative of the charts as XFactor.

  4. Lead us on, our cultural general!

    Aloha, Dear Friend

    Comfort Spiral