Sunday, December 16, 2007
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.