The Christmas number one

Published December 26, 2009

For a long time, the Christmas Number One single in the UK has been rubbish. I don’t remember the last time there was a decent song at the top, but then again, there haven’t really been an enormous amount of worthy festive songs released recently anyway.

For the past few years, the Yuletide number has been dominated by the Simon Cowell sponsored X Factor winner, and that’s usual a cover version of a song that has nothing to do with snow or Santa or anything.

Completely frustrated by this, some music consumers decided the best way to rise up against the might of the Cowell would be to bring back an old song that is equally unrelated to Christmas but has a much more disantiestablishmentarianism theme to it. Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name.

Now, I know there are debates about whether the song was the right choice, whether the campaign was worth it, that Cowell would win either way.

I don’t know the music industry well enough to know or care about those details, and I haven’t heard either song.

What I know is that the Facebook campaign, set up by just two people but participated in by hundreds of thousands, was unbelievably successful. The social media activism involved in the race to the Christmas number one was unprecedented and surprisingly successful.

Rage Against the Machine won the battle, with the added bonus of being the first ever download-only Christmas chart topper, and a whopping record number of download sales in one week only.

Those petition-style Facebook groups aren’t always a waste of time, then?

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