Rage against the killjoys

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

An unexpected Christmas present was a trip to see Status Quo with my daughter and her boyfriend. I last saw the band a quarter of a century ago at the start of my teaching career. I went with a pal from training college.

Compared to now, we were barely out of short trousers. As I queued to see Quo for the second time, I had a nagging feeling that perhaps I should have grown out of such music. No chance. They were great and the support band, Roy Wood and Wizzard, were fabulous too. I haven't grown out of the music any more than I have grown out of the aforementioned friendship.

It was the night of the X-Factor final. Somebody called Joe won. On Facebook, a few of my friends were signed up to a group dedicated to keeping him off the number one chart spot the following week. They were doing this by downloading a single by Rage Against the Machine and, as it transpired, the campaign was successful. Air punching. Talk of a blow against smug, manipulative Simon Cowell, manufactured pop music and bland ballads.

I almost bought into it until my niece Lisa, also on Facebook and an avid X-Factor fan, registered her ire. She's 15, likes Joe, doesn't like Rage Against the Machine, and her point was that the people who had conspired to keep the X-Factor winner off the top spot really should have had better things to concern themselves with.

You know what? She's right. I'm willing to bet that Rage Against the Machine only got to number one because a number of old farts who didn't really like the single bought it to make a point. What point? That the Christmas chart has been dominated by rubbish since The X Factor got a grip on it.

Let's look at some of the pre-X-Factor number ones. Little Jimmy Osmond. St Winifred's School Choir. Benny Hill. These are not unrepresentative.

I'm an old fart too - no more, no less than my raging friends, all of whom do support better causes as well as this trivial one. Most of them who bought the Rage single probably like it too. If there's anyone out there who bought it and who doesn't, and whose only action against injustice in the previous 12 months has been to attempt to keep an inoffensive balladeer and his less inoffensive mentor off the Christmas number one spot, I suggest the following treatment. Put them in a locked room with an endless loop of "Killing in the Name" and all the other non-X-Factor Christmas chart-toppers playing until they get a life, do something that really matters, stop pretending to be right-on and let 15-year-olds decide what should be in the charts.

Gregor Steele writes here from a completely uninformed perspective, having listened to neither of the pieces of music featured.

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