It might be hard for American music fans to comprehend, but the annual race to land the #1 Christmas single in England is a seriously major deal. And typically, the song that wins out is a sappy, cloying ballad full of warm fuzzies that everyone can feel good about at this most stressful time of year.
But [artist id="1010"]Rage Against the Machine[/artist] have tossed a giant Molotov cocktail into the works this year, igniting a public feud with the man the New Musical Express dubbed “The Grinch” in its current Christmas issue, “American Idol” baddie Simon Cowell.
The “Idol” judge, who is also the man behind England’s popular “The X Factor” reality talent competition, has been promoting a vanilla cover of the Miley Cyrus ballad “The Climb” by that show’s recent winner, Joe McElderry, as this year’s feel-good holiday song. But an underground guerrilla campaign by Rage fans to push the band’s 1992 musical manifesto “Killing in the Name” past McElderry’s song has become headline news this week in the U.K.
The NME reported that the tension was upped another notch on Thursday morning, when Rage performed live on the air from Los Angeles and, despite promising producers of BBC’s 5Live show that they would not sing the curse words in “Killing in the Name,” dropped four F-bombs before having their performance faded out.
During an accompanying interview, Rage guitarist Tom Morello slammed Cowell and the campaign to get the “X Factor” winner’s song to #1 and said the Internet campaign “tapped into the silent majority of the people in the U.K. who are tired of being spoon-fed one schmaltzy ballad after another.” Cowell has been adamant about his disdain for the campaign to hoist Rage into the #1 spot, calling it “stupid,” “cynical” and “very Scrooge.” In an interview, Cowell lamented, “Joe doesn’t deserve to be stuck in the middle of this. A campaign aimed at harming his chart position is unnecessary.”
To date, former Beatle Paul McCartney and the [artist id="986"]Foo Fighters’[/artist] Dave Grohl have spoken out in support of Rage taking the Xmas title, with Grohl pledging to buy a copy of “Killing” in order to help it reach the finish line ahead of McElderry on Sunday. McElderry admitted this week that he has never heard the Rage anthem, or any Rage song.
As of Thursday afternoon, “Killing” was leading “The Climb” by nearly 9,000 copies. MTV U.K. reported that Rage said they will donate any profits from the sales of “Killing” to charity.