Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has praised the Facebook campaign to get ‘Killing in the Name of’ to christmas number 1, calling it a ‘wonderful dose of anarchy.
In an interview on radio 6 Morello said “The one thing about the X Factor show, much like our own American Idol, is if you’re a viewer of the show you get to vote for one contestant or the other, but you don’t really get to vote against the show itself until now…. It’s this machinery that puts forward a particular type of music which represents a particular kind of listener. There are a lot of people who don’t feel represented by it and this Christmas in the UK they’re having their say.”
The guitarist said the single’s position as a Christmas number one contender was an “unexpected windfall” and he plans to donate some of the proceeds to a charity which helps children progress their musical careers in the UK.
“My hope is that one of the results of this whole Christmas season is there’ll be a new generation of rockers who will take on the establishment with the music they write.”
In comparison to those thoughtful and refreshing views, Simon Cowell has been predictably self-serving in a recent interview with NME, saying that the ITV1 show had “done everyone a favour” by adding some life to the festive charts. “I think we were getting to a point where [the Christmas chart] was all becoming like The Millennium Prayer, and I just didn’t like that song. I think we all have this belief that the Christmas number one was just amazing, a real special occasion, but actually when you look at them over recent years, it was Bob the Builder one year, Mr Blobby…there’s a tradition of quite horrible songs.”
Yes Simon. Like Robson and Jerome, Zig and Zag, the Teletubbies, the Power Rangers, and many more awful novelty acts that Simon Cowell has trotted out over the years, conveniently around christmas time. In fact, the X-factor singles fit in very well with that theme: short term, novelty acts, foisted on a spoon-fed public, then dumped when they’re no longer profitable.
Even more astoundingly, Cowell also had this to say about music in general:
“I think I’ve done everyone a favour. Shows like Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor have actually got people more interested in music again, and are sending more people into record stores. We haven’t seen this kind of uplift in years.”
Cowell is obviously running scared, now that he has to try and justify himself where previously he went unquestioned. That the Rage against X-factor has made people re-assess what music is has to be a good thing. The problem is, Cowell’s idea of what music is differs from that which Tom Morello would say. Music is about talent and also hard work, writing songs, practicing, and being creative. When do you ever see anyone playing instruments on X-factor?
What is genuinely creative, or hard-working, or talented about X-factor? They always sing bland, flowery covers, once a week for a few months, and anyone remotely different or quirky has no chance. Real hard work is gigging in a pub to a couple of dozen punters.
The values that it encourages in its viewers, particularly young people, encourage them to think that life is one big talent contest where if you strike it lucky you might become a star. It encourages people to think that pop stars are heroes, and it undermines those people out there who work hard and honestly.
And out of all this, Cowell and his cronies are gaining, not unlike the bankers who gained while they caused so much damage and misery to the economic system.
Even if Killing in the Name of does not make number 1, the campaign has already more than served its purpose in stirring up what has become a lifeless part of society, and got people thinking about not only music, but much bigger issues too.