Sunday, December 16, 2007

BUY THIS!




Okay... here's the thing. There are two sorts of songs that should succeed at Christmas.

Cheesy pop songs are perfectly acceptable if they're Christmas themed and have snow in the video. Wham's Last Christmas - absolutely fine. I'm even prepared to let Shakin' Stevens' Merry Christmas Everyone pass. I think Slade's Christmas song is a genuine classic.

There's a league above these things though... and it's occupied by the very special category of songs called Christmas-songs-you're-happy-to-hear-at-any-time-of-year. Right now, I can only really think of two: Fairytale of New York by the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl and Stop The Cavalry by Jonah Lewie. I love Stop The Cavalry... what a ridiculously beautiful thing it is that an anti-war song can become a Christmas classic.

I was thinking about this because having done my best to avoid the X Factor this year, this evening I slipped and fell on to my sofa and when I looked up I was watching the X Factor final results and saw the start of the campaign to make this year's winner, Leon, the Christmas Number One. I shuddered at the depressing inevitabilty of it all and then flicked channels where I caught the end of the video to Jonah Lewie's beautiful song. "Bada-dada-om-pom, Bada-dada-om-pom, Bada-pom, Bada-pom, Bada-dada-om-pom... wish I could be home... for Christmas", I sang to myself while pining for the days when such a thing could be a chart hit. "Oh well," I thought, "The X Factor has killed this kind of thing off and that's for sure."

But then an hour later I was noodling around online and I found myself reading about the song We're All Going To Die by the brilliant Malcolm Middleton (formerly of Arab Strap). It seems there's a campaign going to see if we can make it this year's Christmas number one I can't think of a better way to demonstrate one's distaste for the X Factorisation of the world.

The thing is, it's not that I think the X Factor should be stopped. It is what it is and it will carry on being an entertaining telly circus, chewing up and spitting out young people for a long time to come. But ignoring it isn't enough. Because in years to come people will look back on the start of the 21st Century and they'll be amazed that we kept falling for the same schtick; voting for people, buying their first single in "record numbers" and then forgetting about them when we realise that they're not as good as we thought they were. "Actually," we'll protest, "some of us weren't doing that at all, we were just ignoring the whole thing."
"No you weren't,"
will say the producers of a TV show caled I Love the 2000s, "you were all X Factor crazy... look, they kept getting Christmas Number Ones!"

Or alternatively, we could all download Malcom Middleton's We're All Going To Die and make it a Christmas number one. If we do, then in 20 years time when they make that I Love The 2000s telly show, they'll be forced into acknowledging that there were a lot of people who didn't fall for the same schnizzle every year.

Of course some people will suggest that this is just a great marketing scam... a way to boost the sales of an otherwise un-commercial song. To those people I say two things. 1: "Isn't that exactly what the X Factor is?" and 2: "What do you mean 'un-commercial'? It's ace!"
Besides, even if it is the case, I say we do our best to make this marketing scam better than that marketing scam.

If you've never downloaded a single before... make this your first one. Go to i-Tunes now and do it. Do it to show Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh that they can't make just anything happen. Do it so that future generations don't judge us too harshly. Do it to show the children that they don't boss the charts. But most of all do it for Christmas.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

It takes me back to 2003, when Gary Jules hit the Christmas top spot with his rendition of 'Mad World'. Shocking the nation, that we could all be so rebelious! Heres the thing though, an anagram of 'Gary Jules, Jona Lewie, Malcolm Middleton' is 'Journalistically long-jawed melodee, mm...'

James said...

There is also this campaign organised by Last.fm. For only 40p you get two songs including a version of Last Christmas. I do hope one of them beats XFactor to number one, although I can't say I'm too hopeful.

PT said...

Excellent track. I bought it before I realised you had a video on your blog (stupid Bloglines!), but I've not regretted it.

X-Factor is poo so I hope this does get to number 1.

Either that or we all download Little Jimmy Osmond's excruciating "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" and get it to number again 35 years later...

Mr Tea Belly said...

I love this idea. Anti-marketing, I've just bought the damn thing out of my hate of the X-Factor. Xmas Number one for Malcolm!

Fever Dog said...

Sounds like a great idea to me -- you're absolutely right. Ignoring X-Factor isn't enough, a statement has to be made that we didn't all follow X-Factor mindlessly. And if this is just PR for Malcolm Middleton, then so be it -- at least he has talent.

Sam (leeds) said...

I had an argument with a friend over X-Factor, regarding the fact that she thought the acts involved were geniunely talented types, who would have been picked up by talent scouts anyway. The harsh reality is that many great bands are not getting picked up anymore because it is far easier for record companies to get these individuals and market the hell out of them... There are many many great bands who won't get to have their music produced, and all for this easy manufacturing process which is designed so the music industry can try cope with the fact that nobody is buying cds anymore. Oh and with all this talk of the music industry, no i'm not a punk. Honest. I'm a composer.

Catherine said...

Here in Ireland we're plotting the demise of the X Factorites with a similar campaign:
http://waitsforchristmas.blogspot.com/

Mike Mc said...

I'm totally up for trying to make Malcolm Middleton Christmas Number One.

Not even heard the X Factor single but I am willing to make an outlandish guess that's it's utter tripe.


When was the last decent Christmas song released that was actually about Christmas?

helloblog said...

As Malcolm Middleton is both Ginger and Scottish, two of my favourite things, I feel obliged to buy that MP3.

And it's really catchy, I keep finding myself logging onto your blog a few times a day to watch that video.

Michael said...

"X Factorisation" - I like it a great 21st centuryism.
Ive actualy gone a full series without seeing a single second of that mindless dribble. This christmas could actually be the last chance this century to stop those best of the 2000 programmes being dominated by processed pop.
Based on previous decades the 7th year should be the most defining where music is concerned....

Nez said...

In trying to write a short, concise post, I've discovered I can possibly waffle about X-Factor til the cows come home. This is possibly my 10th draft.

I can think of all sorts of reasons not to like that programme, but I think it's the ritual humiliation thing that turns me off the most. I can't understand why that's such great entertainment. Maybe I'm the weird one, though.

And you're right - the winner will probably be popular for about 5 minutes and then disappear.

I suspect it's probably relatively cheap TV to produce, while at the same time managing to line handsomly the pockets of certain people who wear their trousers too high.

Couldn't agree more with Sam above too.

Not sure what I think of the song you posted, but may well get it out of principle. It might grow on me!!

Ramble over.

Dave Frear said...

The thought of X-Factor being number one was depressing me, but I was unsure of what other song to support to try and prevent it.
Then I saw this and shouted (somewhat over dramatically) "to iTunes!"
Fingers crossed.

Nez said...

On the BBC news site earlier on today that Radio 1 had edited out the words "slut" and "faggot" from Fairytale of New York. I couldn't believe it, but since lunchtime and a load of comments from other people saying they couldn't believe it either, it seems they've had a change of heart.
So.... I'm no quite sure why I'm mentioning it really!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7150693.stm

Mr Tea Belly said...

Oh well, number 31. My Christmas is ruined.

Dave Gorman said...

All our Christmases are ruined.

sam (leeds) said...

chin up dave, at least you haven't just come off yor first 17 hour night shift... I'm cooking xmas dinner tomorrow, not sure if i'll be properly awake though!

tobiwan said...

>>"Actually," we'll protest, "some of us weren't doing that at all, we were just ignoring the whole thing."

I'm not sure blogging about something is ignoring it per se :P

Also, personally I wouldn't feel comfortable with buying a song as a protest against another song. That's not the point of it for me. But hey, it's a wide world.

Stevyn Colgan said...

The issue surely is not that the X Factor keeps getting the Number One spot but that we are losing the much-loved Christmas Single is becoming as endangered as a white rhino playing russian roulette. If the Reality TV juggernaut turns out to be too big and powerful to stop, maybe we should petition Simon Cowell and his Legion of the Damned to commission new Christmas songs for the X Factor winner to sing. That way the Vicky Pollards and Laurens of this country can have their X Factor 'heroes' and we all get something other than Slade and Jona Lewie to sing along to. Maybe. Just a thought ...

Sam said...

Brilliant point well made Stevyn. This year's no.1 was just plain lazy, a cover of a song from a Disney album filmed in front of a video wall with pictures of Simon Cowell looking angry and moody.

The public seem to have taken a laissez-faire approach to Christmas no.1, similar to an endangered species as you so aptly put it. I think it is more significant to the culture than people are giving it credit for. There is a Facebook group which I posted on the wrong part of the blog so i'll flag it up again: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=7959372194

Happy new year to all!

tvmovie said...

Love Malcolm Middleton. Love him, love him, love him. Even more than Arab Strap. Shame he only made number 40 or something.

Ryan said...

Thanks for posting this, Dave. I now have it and I'm on my 7th repeat of it... (not including the numerous times I replayed the YouTube version while the song was downloading.)

Beki said...

I have to concur that Stop The Cavalry by Jonah Lewie is the best Christmas song.

I am an answer researcher for a text based question company - a common Xmas question is was Jonah Lewie in Dexy's Midnight Runners. Dull aside but I thought I'd throw it in anyway.