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In December 2009, Rage Against The Machine’s 1992 radical protest song Killing In The Name upset the UK pop music industry by topping the Christmas singles chart over the 2009 X-Factor talent Joe McElderry.
In the last four years, UK’s number one single for the week of Christmas had been completely dominated by the winners of “The X-Factor”, a British TV singing competition created by Simon Cowell, a celebrity music executive and entrepreneur.
“Fed up of Simon Cowell’s latest karaoke act being Christmas No. 1? Me too … So who’s up for a mass-purchase of the track ‘KILLING IN THE NAME’ from December 13th … as a protest to the X Factor monotony?”
Instantly striking a chord with other UK netizens who were also getting tired of Simon’s monopoly, “Rage Against The Machine for Christmas No. 1” quickly snowballed into a nationwide buycott campaign.
By December 10th, over a half million Facebook users joined the group and uploaded promotional videos and photos in preparation for the campaign:
Hitler is furious about RATM’s UK chart takeover:
A Strong Message
The mass purchase of “Killing in the Name” commenced on December 13th and ended on the 21st. In the span of a week, the 1992 single was downloaded over half a million times via Amazon, HMV and other digital download services.
Delighted by the unexpected turnout, the band has promised to put on a free concert sometime this year and donate all of the proceeds from online downloads to the homeless shelters in the UK.
When asked about this episode, Simon Cowell was later quoted as saying “If there’s a campaign, and I think the campaign’s aimed directly at me, it’s stupid.”
2009: Simon & Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson for No. 1
Since the scandal erupted over Mrs Robinson’s private life and financial affairs, after it was disclosed she had an affair with Kirk McCambley, 21, a Facebook group has been created to try and propel the song to the top spot, with almost 14,000 members joining already.
“Lets get the iconic song Mrs Robinson – made famous by the 1960’s hit The Graduate – to number 1 in next Sunday’s chart in honour of Northern Ireland’s disgraced first lady,” says the campaign group’s blurb. The track has already climbed to number 23 in Amazon.co.uk’s “bestsellers in MP3 songs.” It has, however, some time to go before making number one as it is currently sitting at 165 in the charts midweek.
2009: The Smiths’ How Soon is Now for No. 1
Another group has launched a campaign asking fans to purchase the Smiths’ hit “How Soon Is Now?” between January 28th and February 6th to make the single Number One on the British charts to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the band’s Meat is Murder, TwentyFourBit reports.
This Smiths campaign marks the third music-related Facebook group story in as many months: Before the Rage Against The X Factor campaign, as Rolling Stone reported, John Mellencamp’s son tried to lobby a million fans in the hope of convincing his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame dad to quit smoking (he’s currently at 291,500).
2010: The Trashmen for No. 1
[currently researching; to be updated]
2011: Nirvana for No. 1
[currently researching; to be updated]
2012: £1 Fish Man for No. 1
On December 16th, 2012, London-based sports betting bookmaker William Hill released its list of contenders for the Christmas Number 1 single with their respective betting odds, which included some of the more predictable choices like the Justice Collective’s cover of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1/7) and X Factor winner James Arthur’s “Impossible,” (9/2), but also Muhammad Shahid Nazir’s viral hit single “£1 Fish Man” (33/1), which stars the Pakistani immigrant worker singing a song that he had originally come up with during his day job to draw customers in east London’s Queens Market in Upton Park.
In the following days, several news publications reported on Nazir’s video as the underground contender for this year’s Christmas Number 1 single, citing William Hill’s favorable betting odds for the song in comparison to other well-known artists like Adele (50/1), Justin Bieber (66/1) and Leona Lewis (100/1).
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