Sunday, 20 December 2009

Anti-RATM article - A response.

This article is in response to one written by Ms Ellen for the Guardian on the 20th December, 2009. The original can be found here:

Well, well, well. Alas, it seems that a Guardian journalist has missed the point entirely, just as they so often miss the spellchecker button before printing an article. And yet this time, to add insult to infamy, this piece sounds more like the Daily Mail. So obsessed about money and values. Tut, tut, and indeed, tut.

So Simon Cowell is going to get richer is he? Well, who'd have thunk it, eh? Ms Ellen seems so concerned with such a fact, and yet she has not studied the form, nor the functionality of this campaign for longer than it took her to submit such an article that is more riddled with holes than a colander on a firing range. One weeps for British journalism, one really does.

Is money all that Ms Ellen believes in? Can she not see a deeper point to this? A philosophy even? I have been an active member of the '#ratm4xmas' campaign and I, like many others, knew about RATM's connections with Sony BMG a long time ago. And SyCo (such an appropriate name) is part of the parent company too. Cowell will profit. Shocking.

This has been about music, and a rebellion against the sounds that infiltrate our shell-likes, not just at Christmas, but all year round. We of the imaginatively titled 'alternative' community, and those who do not like the sort of soulless muzak that Cowell generates have stood up and said 'F*ck you, I won't do what you tell me' (though I managed to censor there - and it did hurt to do so). We want to hear passion and bile, talent and guile, all mixed in with the songs that we choose to listen to because it makes us think, rather than turning our brains off. That is why we have taken this stand.

Christmas No1 or not, this campaign has been a resounding success. A community of like minds drawn together, two charities (Shelter & YouthMusic) benefiting and the possibility of a free gig in the new year from RATM. And a message sent to Cowell, or rather, his ego. He may have his money and his fame, but if we can keep but one prize from him, we shall. Even if it is so small as it will not bother him, he will acknowledge us.

It has also shown the power that people have in the new age. Only because of the revolution in downloading music and social networking has this revolution been possible. Before such times, we'd have had no voice. If only we'd have had such advances in years gone by, we might not have had to suffer through Millennium Prayer!

Also, Ms Ellen, to label the Xfactor a working class pursuit, is repugnant and you should be ashamed. We have the largest middle class of our history today, and it is their taste for the bland, and their philosophy of destruction that has helped build the Xfactor into what it is, and it is this that is destroying British music. The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, The Police, The Pistols, The Clash, Madness... These bands would be confined to pubs and tiny stages in today's market, as electronics and session musicians hide in the shadows as a tone deaf pretty face receives all the plaudits in stadiums. But they would not be international stadiums. We would be insular and strange. Today we do not encourage talented, thought provoking musicians. Instead we appreciate them and then give our money to machines. Because of the Cowell/Waterman/Fuller brand of boredom, we have lost our edge, and those of us who do listen to music with passion, are isolated, and under represented.

So another British 'journalist' misses the point entirely, attempts in vain to sound irreverent, witty, clued-in and intelligent. This is why many bloggers should be locked in their bedrooms and have their broadband connection cut. I fear Ms Ellen is a bandwagon jumper looking for a little support or a shock. She seeks not to educate, but to aggravate. I could not even bring to read the rest of her 'article' for the first piece lacked any understanding and/or class.

Comment is indeed free, dear Guardian, with your double edged blade, but it is also costly and publishing such drivel, even online, cracks your armour more than that which shields those music lovers whom Ms Ellen has chosen to attack. Still, let her rage away in the silence of the web, for the streets will be alive to sounds of Rage Against The Machine this Christmas.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Another Rage Against The Machine Article - Only Better!

Isn't it funny how everyone seems to think this is about money or bitterness? Is this the nation we have become? One where we are all so quick to find fault, when the true message is missed? or are we all just trying to be clever?

As the deadline date of the 20th of December draws ever closer, Rage Against the Machine supporters and Xfactor supporters are locked in a titanic tussle of frenzied downloading. But even with all of the interest that this has stirred up in Britain's boring music charts, journalists seem to be missing the point.

Every hour, someone prints a 'well Cowell is part of Sony BMG so he'll get richer anyway' story, or one detailing how cruel we are being to Generic Singer V5.0 (or whatever his name is) because winning the Xfactor apparently makes having the Christmas No.1 his birthright. Well, I guess that's shown where my sympathies lie, but allow me to elaborate.

First of all, this is not a protest about money, but about music. So Simon will get richer. Like that wasn't going to happen. What people should look into is that because of this fight, not only will the Cowell's charity get a mountain of cash, but Rage Against the Machine's new affiliates, Shelter and YouthMusic will get a share of it all too. The last time I checked, Shelter were on course for around £50,000 which wouldn't have happened without this bizarre battle, and Tom Morello, the group's guitarist, says that YouthMusic will get the money that this would have brought him. So the real winners in this are the charities.

Secondly, Generic Singer V5.0 will be No.1 after xmas probably, so he'll get a moment to shine. Is Xfactor so grounded in religion that he has to be comparable to Christ? So that we may worship him on the 25th just as we may worship the son of God (who's name may be changed to 'Simon' should the correct papers go through)?

The point of all of this, is that a great many of us are sick of the Cowell machine, and we want to rage against it (my colours show again). The man who claims to have saved British music has probably, as Sting so expertly put it, held it back by ten years. It has become a conveyor belt of Mr and Little Miss Perfects trying to compete (almost always in vain) with edgier, more diverse and talented American acts. Thanks for that, Si.

But Rage are talented. Vastly so. The band fused protest music with punk, rap, metal and funk so wonderfully throughout the 1990s, and news of their reformation was met with devil horns of glee by many of us in the 'alternative' community. They stand for good music, and good socialism, a prospect which I dare say terrifies Cowell, but it's not about the politics either.

This is about people. Passionate people saying 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me' to an industry which has become stale, transparent and bland. This is about people standing up and showing that they want to hear something real, something true. This is about believing in the efforts of a band who managed to get four 'fucks' into a breakfast broadcast on BBC 5Live. When the BBC asked them to 'do a radio edit', did the most memorable words of this famous song not pop into their heads for just a minute?

Not since Rotten, Matlock and co tore into Bill Grundy in 1977 has their been such anarchy in the UK, and I for one think it's brilliant. It shows that we can still get passionate about the music we are exposed to, and that we are not all subject to the will of the prepubescent teenage girls and housewives who will buy Generic Singer V5.0's record (sorry, I actually haven't bothered to learn his name - he won't be around in a month anyway).

And even if Rage don't get to be Xmas No.1, the passion that this campaign has stirred up has seen charities benefit, kids experience real music invading the mainstream and Cowell getting a little grumpier. Surely that's worth a 29p download? It's great to know that in 2009, we can still Rage Against the Machine. And that's the point of it all.