Friday, October 22, 2010

Silence Is Golden

for a song to be number one in the charts at Christmas has long been highly coveted. As the world has transitioned from physical singles to downloads, the Christmas number one spot has become much more open, as members of the public can download pretty much any song they want, not just the ones the record companies choose to offer up to them. This has led to the sudden reappearance of some older Christmas songs in the charts (such as Mariah Carey’s faux Motown classic All I Want For Christmas Is You, which popped back into the UK charts at no.4 in 2007).

More recently, the world has seen campaigns to make particular songs, or particular recordings of songs, the Christmas number 1. In Christmas 2007, Alexandra Burke of rubbish TV programme X-Factor reached the top spot with a recording of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, beating off competition from a Facebook-driven campaign favouring a recording of the song by Jeff Buckley (with Leonard Cohen’s original also making it into the top ten). Last year some other X-Factor song was given a festive horse-whipping by Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name, prompting a quick cash-in tour by the anti-capitalist rockers.

2009 and 2008 have solidly established the idea that the Christmas top spot is all to play for, so various campaigns to make different tunes number one then have been bubbling around. The most interesting is the drive to make John Cage’s 4"33’ the Christmas number one. Cage’s avant-garde classic would be the most bizarre number one single of all time, given that it features no vocals and the playing of no instruments. If it was played on Christmas Top of the Pops, we would be treated to four and a half minutes of awkward TV silence. So, obviously, making it the Christmas number one is the duty of all right thinking people.

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Guardian article on the campaign


image source

An inuit panda production


Andrew Farrell said...

The Burke/Buckley/Cohen faceoff must have been particularly gripping watching for the record executives at Sony BMG, Sony BMG and, er, Sony BMG.

ian said...

Monopoly capitalism strikes again.