Heh-Heh, Beavis, The Radio Just Played…

Over in England, there is evidently a movement afoot to manipulate the music charts. Coordinated on Facebook (where else?), this mercantile insurrection seeks – or so they say – to protest the predictable and shite nature of modern cookie-cutter pop music produced by the sorts of here today, gone tomorrow cookie-cutter pop singers so beloved of viewers of shows like American Idol or Canada’s Got Talent or The X Factor.

These folks apparently don’t want a vapid and over-produced pop jingle to be the number one single during Christmas, which is a bit of a bragging point and ensures lots of airplay, blah blah blah. I, as you might guess from my comments, pretty much completely endorse this idea.

The song these folks have decided to promote, in the hopes of becoming number one, is Rage Against the Machine’s classic anthem Killing in the Name.

And that, let’s be honest, is where I take issue with the whole manipulating-the-Christmas-charts project. Let’s protest the death of musical talent by promoting… a vitriolic punk-rap song?

It’s pretty clear that this idea is mainly driven by footie fans and other immature men who just want to hear the word “fuck” on the radio a lot. (The last third of the song, if you haven’t heard it, is basically the line “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” repeated over and over again – seventeen times or so.) It’s not that I have anything against the song – I have a copy on my MP3 player – it’s just that it’s hardly an example of great music. I get it, I get it, people hate the mindless top-40 crap that gets produced today, and want to promote “better” music. “Killing in the Name” is hardly the way to do that, though.

Personally, if I were trying to promote a song to be the Christmas number one single and compete with all the nameless and faceless artificial pop icons, I’d probably go for something depressing – The Scorpions’ Winds of Change, for example, or Kansas’ Dust in the Wind. And if I wanted something a little more offensive, I might go with a Lordi song. Or I’d just try and be annoying and promote the full eighteen-minute version of In A Gadda Da Vida.

Given that I’d hypothetically be trying to manipulate the British single charts, I might start feeling bad that all these bands are foreign – RATM, Iron Butterfly, and Kansas are American, The Scorpions are German, and Lordi is Finnish – and decide to try and find a patriotic, homegrown replacement. Hmmn… how about England my Home by The Levellers? (The lyrics are here.)

Or, better yet, Another Man’s Cause. Nice bit of hoity-toity cultural relevancy, what with the endless war in Iraqistan and all. I mean, can you imagine Simon Cowell’s reaction when his latest carefully-groomed insta-idol is topped in the charts by a folk-rock band with a fiddle? His head asplode, hopefully.

That’s what I’d do. Bona-fide British music for the British singles chart. And it probably wouldn’t be successful, because it would be carefully calculated to people who actually care about music, which is clearly a losing strategy. Much better, I guess, to do as the current program has done and try to appeal to people who just want to hear the word “fuck” seventeen times in a row on the radio…

Heh-heh, Beavis, they just said “fuck” on the radio, heh-heh, heh-heh. Cool, there it is again, heh-heh, heh-heh…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on December 16th, 2009| 3 Comments »

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  1. On 12/27/2009 at 11:32 pm Allen Crawford Said:

    Ha, you sort of sound like the grumpy curmudgeons you spoke of on your last post about the BBC HD quality! 🙂 Just because you don’t enjoy the song doesn’t mean it is inherently bad-quality, or not great music. I don’t care how much talent, skill, or proper musical mechanics you put into a Christmas song–I’m still not going to enjoy it as much as I would just about any RATM song. Just not my style. Though I do agree, they should’ve at least picked a British song.

  2. On 12/28/2009 at 7:41 am Dave Said:

    Hi, hope you had a good Xmas. Love the blog BTW. Just thought I’d drop you a comment about this post on the anti-X-Factor campaign. I think that arguing about the choice of the song is really missing the point. I joined the campaign and bought the track some time after the choice was made, and I have no idea why the RATM track was chosen, but I strongly suspect that if we had had a discussion about what track to promote as our champion against Cowell’s pap, we would have got nowhere. We all have different tastes and would have preferred different tracks, but the point was to deny Cowell the satisfaction of high-jacking the Xmas single spot once again. The song selected to be our champion didn’t matter, just that we all pulled together.

    And we did. RATM was the Xmas number one.

    Have a good New Year. I look forward to reading your blog in 2010.



  3. On 12/30/2009 at 4:21 pm Nemo Said:

    I get that the point was to deny Cowell another feather in his cap, and I’m quite happy that it succeeded. My point was more that the musical insurrection was wasting a perfectly good opportunity to promote actual good and British music over the holiday season. It was a bit like John Kerry’s losing Presidential bid in 2004, and the “anybody but Bush” sentiment, in that people were more united in opposition of something than in truly promoting an alternative.

    The 2009 movement could – and IMO should – have been an opportunity to promote quality music as an alternative to over-produced cookie-cutter pop music. Killing in The Name is a lot of things, including RATM’s arguably best-known song, but it’s hardly a lyrical or musical masterpiece. I’m well aware that its notoriety – including in the UK – has much to do with the repeated use of the F-bomb, and I still maintain that the decision to aim for cheap juvenile giggles, while successful in the short term, will have basically zero long-term effect, and basically wasted a wonderful opportunity to make a serious and lasting point about the vapidness of modern commercial pop music…