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.


  1. I just had to comment to say thankyou. I wish you were writing in a big name paper/newssite!

  2. Should have picked an independent group. hiyoooooo

    Would have been better it was an actual rage against the machine by being passionate AND by choosing a non-corporate backed group.

    It's been the same all through history. Two groups fight it out while a silent profiteer reaps the profits and giggles all the way to the bank.

    I understand your point but this movement would have actually had a meaning if it was supporting a good indy band.