English Christmas time: mince pies, cheap supermarket alcohol and Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name. Not the most conventional choice for a Christmas classic, but what started out as a Facebook campaign by couple Jon and Tracy Morter has exploded into a nationwide phenomenon. Thousands of music lovers across the country have rallied up against the X-Factor’s soulless dominance of the annual Christmas chart, a year after Simon Cowell was directly responsible for the merciless rape of Cohen classic, Hallelujah.
Before their live (uncensored) performance of Killing In The Name was abruptly cut from BBC Radio 5’s Breakfast Show this week, the band declared that the success of the campaign is owed to the fact that ‘people would love to hear a song that reflects some of the tensions they are feeling.’
Guitarist Tom Morello argued that the movement has ‘tapped into the silent majority of the people in the UK who are tired of being spoon-fed one schmaltzy ballad after another, and they wanna take back their own charts, and we are honored they have chosen our song to be the rebel anthem to try and topple the X-Factor monopoly’.
Rage Against The Machine’s self titled debut record is still as relevant, important and necessary today as it was on release 17 years ago. The album is pure iconoclastic brilliance, expressing the sentiments of Bob Dylan with the uncompromising aggression of Che Guevara. Instead of lying around with Japanese succubae growing beards for peace, RATM advocate the controversial idea of revolution en masse being essential to instigating change. The pugnacious lyrics of front man Zack de la Rocha are emphasised and emboldened by the absolute ferocity of the band at his side, giving the album an uncompromising force.
Having no experience of life on the streets of L.A. does not alienate the listener from empathising with the band’s frustration at the injustices of the world around them; a feat that no record has managed to so successfully achieve since Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. What makes Rage Against The Machine so universally accessible is that each track can be interpreted to the listener’s own abhorrence, and none so effectively as the simplicity of Killing In The Name. This single quickly became the definitive protest anthem, providing pure spiritual liberation to anyone who dared stand up to their oppressors and scream the infamous line ‘Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!’ It is this repeated message that has resulted in the song being chosen as the contender for the Christmas number one spot. It has not been adopted as the anthem to battle the X-Factor alone, but to raise a finger to the entire manufactured and carefully controlled media industry with that vulgar message.
If Rage Against The Machine do not reach the number one position this weekend, it shall be disheartening but rather expected. The X-Factor final, and the ‘crowning’ of winner Joe McElderry, was watched by approximately 19 million brain-dead media whores. These sheep will flock into stores over the manic weekend and buy McElderry’s sickly cover of Miley Cyrus’ The Climb – and most will do so simply because of a compulsion to follow the majority. For all of these fans, to paraphrase Bill Hicks: ‘Don’t get caught up in that fevered, hyped, phoney fucking debate about that piece of shit song. You’re just confused; you’ve forgotten how to judge correctly. Take a deep breath, look at it again… Oh. It’s a piece of shit!’
Despite which side you stand on, the importance of this campaign is that it has shown the United Kingdom that, together, we can rise up and take the power back; if we so choose.