Why I am against the alternative
Christmas No 1 campaigns
Please don’t get me wrong, I despise X-Factor. I am still trying to put into words the reasons why it is so badly wrong, because there is almost nothing worse than X-Factor and Britain’s got talent.
But here’s why I am not happy about these campaigns to get anti Christmas songs to number one instead of Simon Cowell’s winning act.
The first successful campaign was in 2009 when Jon Morter began a drive to get everybody to buy “Killing In The Name” by Rage Against The Machine. The lyrics ” F*** you I won’t do what you tell me” repeated a dozen times emphatically conveyed how many of us felt when faced with the overwhelming PR effort to make the public buy the winning X-Factor single.
The single did indeed stop Joe McEldry getting to number one and elicited a furious outburst from Simon Cowell, yet it made no difference to the overall sales of Joe’s single which topped the charts in the following week when the campaign was no longer interested.
What it did achieve was a huge surge in sales for the RATM single which had already been highly successful and was actually on a label which was a subsidiary of the X-Factor’s Sony BMG label. Now, I am quite happy to accept that this was a coincidence, and in fairness to RATM, they donated their windfall income to charity. “Shelter” benefitted by over £160,000 which is all great.
So why am I so anti these campaigns?
Well for one thing they crop up every year. Where is the spontaneity, where is the creativity?
Secondly, they are nearly always in support of songs which have already been massive hit singles before, from bands that are already well established. Yes, they often give their profits to charity, but they can afford to. And the extra fame and credibility they earn from that gesture has an incalculable value.
I know it is too much to hope for but I would love to see people get behind a genuine unsigned band and give it the kind of support that they give to a multi platinum selling rock star. It was the success of Jon Morter that prompted me to set up GUBIC on Jan 1st 2010. There was a flood of interest at first but in the end people just wouldn’t support the campaign.
Wes White’s Storm the Charts campaign did a little better but still didn’t manage to get an unsigned band into the charts. What is so sad about this is how much fantastic unsigned music there is out there, and yet the majors are able to dominate to such an extent that you are forced to chose between a manufactured pop act from the Simon Cowell stable, or a long established “alternative” act that is as much a part of the system as the former. Hobson’s choice in fact.
WORSE, by making it into a competition you garner the devoted support of fans who might have only listened to a song on the radio and not bought it. You actually help to increase sales of the plastic pop act, by creating a competitive element to the race for Christmas number one.
If you really want to help stop Simon Cowell, go and buy some unsigned Christmas music on Bandcamp, or from the band, or from a local record shop if you are lucky enough to have one still. And then THIS BIT IS IMPORTANT tell your friends!
And this year there is even a candidate you can really get behind