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The historically groundbreaking powerhouse that was the British music industry has always mirrored our politics and voiced our rage. For the last decade or so it’s been mirroring bland, soulless, suffocating drivel, but this Christmas has seen it flex its bicep in the direction of change. 

If you are even remotely interested in pop music today you will know that Rage Against The Machine, an American rock band, have stormed the charts this week after a viral campaign on Facebook pitched them against Joe Mcelderry, the X Factor winner. 

Following people’s comments online it would appear that there is much cynicism from camp Mcelderry who feel that RATM’s success is undermined because they are on the same record label as Mcelderry. They have, I feel, rather drastically missed the point. The big, giant, screaming point being that music is categorically not about money. Yes, the music industry is about money, but music itself is not. I wonder if these sore losers know how the industry works. Maybe they think that Simon Cowell’s are behind every band/musician on the planet. Maybe they think that all it takes is a few weeks training and performing on telly before you’re made. Maybe they don’t know that most jobbing bands, the ones lucky enough to be signed to and supported by a label, are in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt to their label for years before they make any money, if they ever do. Maybe they think song writing takes place in a glamorous studio by a guy that lives on Butler’s Wharf. Maybe they don’t know that most of it takes place in someone’s bedroom that they can barely afford to light or heat. Maybe they don’t know that an artist has only him/herself and if they are lucky a supportive friend, partner or family member, to help the keep the dream alive. Why do they keep the dream alive? Because a true artist has no choice, it’s in them and they have to get it out. It’s certainly not for the money. But maybe hundreds of thousands of people across the country don’t know that. 

One Facebook comment said: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch, they’re (RATM) doing it for the money.” Well, actually it doesn’t work like that. Most bands are working for minus nothing for the larger part of their career. Rage Against The Machine were certainly not picked out of oblivion and thrust into fame and fortune, they worked as hard as most lawyers, doctors, teachers etc to get there but the difference is, they had no guarantee of a job at the end of it. They gambled with their livelihood and that’s brave. Now, in the case of RATM it paid off, but for thousands of musicians, the gamble doesn’t pay off. Ever. They get dropped, they get shelved, they get messed around by their label, they get the soul pummelled out of them by men in suits, most never get signed at all. And it’s the fault of the British public for not exploring the wonderful range of music that’s out there and instead filling their Christmas stockings with whatever has the budget behind it to be advertised the most. It’s laziness in part, but mostly it’s just ignorance, we just don’t know what a wonderful world is out there, musically speaking or politically speaking. It’s a shame because we’re the ones missing out on some truly spectacular music and the music industry suffers, jobs are lost, creativity is crushed and Simon Cowell and his cabinet of X Factor winners will rule the world unless we get out there and have a look around at what else is available. 

I’m not a hater, all congratulations to Cowell, Burke, Boyle, Lewis and Mcelderry, they play the game well, but it’s up to us to give them someone to play against. Joe Mcelderry has been gifted with a beautiful voice, but he’s not put in the hard graft that RATM have and he never will. He’s not even put in the hard graft that Simon Cowell himself has, who started from very meagre beginnings in the post room at EMI. This is why it’s so vital to support the music industry, like the British public did last week. Yes, RATM got some money, but they worked jolly hard for it and therefore deserve it more than Joe. And while I’m sure Joe worked hard too, it just doesn’t compare. 

Simon Cowell spoon-feeds us music in the same way that our government spoon-feeds us our lives. It’s shiny, bland and PR’d. We are told what to like, so we like it. We get fleeting glimpses of a world beyond, where exciting bands like Mumford and Sons are operating on a different plane, where we are not followed, watched and tagged by government officials, where we feel like our vote counts, but there is so much Joe Mcelderry and Alexandra Burke in the way that we can’t see for trying. I’ve come to the conclusion that those in camp X Factor can’t be blamed for their lack of knowledge about real music, because they just don’t hear it. (Radio 1, I’m onto you too, you have a lot to answer for, but that’s another article.) Yes, X Factor is good entertainment for the dark winter months, but it can’t be allowed to drown our once great and groundbreaking music industry..   

Music has always mirrored politics, but over the last ten years it’s seemed that people just can’t be bothered. With this years number one I predict a change in the mood of the generation that politics forgot, the millions who marched against an illegal war, remember them? The ones that have been ignored and who don’t even bother to vote any more because they feel like their voice is not heard. The ones that are so desperate that they have voted BNP because they just don’t know where else to turn. ‘Horrific’ is the only appropriate word for that particular state of affairs. The reason this Christmas’s number one is so exciting is that it shows a depressed, suppressed and repressed nation flexing their combined muscle in a small but significant act of independence which we have been stripped of by New Labour. Yes, it’s a drop in the ocean against it all; the recession, global warming, the war, the unbearable and suffocating bureaucracy, the bland, PR’dness of it all, but you’ve got to start somewhere. 


Dear Ms A-L,
ron_broxted wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 01:52 pm (UTC)
Revolutions arrive not when all hope is lost but when aspirations have been dashed. 2010 may well prove the year that Chelea tractor driving upper middle class Mummys throw in their lot with those with nothing to lose and march up to New Scotland Yard and Westminster with nooses.
catherineib wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 04:12 pm (UTC)
Politics aside, musically speaking, this article is spot on - I agree with everything you have said, it's just a shame that the RATM haters are too busy reading The Sun to acknowledge any of the truth behind the competition.
judy_baker wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 04:42 pm (UTC)
i think you are completely right in just about everything there, people are spoonfed what they have an opinion on, and its all PR, especially music,
the only problem is that people are naturally sheep and find it comfortable to follow, and there is nothing wrong with that. and then there are the leaders, the opinion leaders which the more interested person (because this sort of a thing isnt everyones favorite subject) needs to put pressure on the people who are leading the opinions to be honest and transparent, so that we can have a better quality of opinion leaders.

im really sorry if i have gone off topic there..
Spot on!
hgiblets wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 06:53 pm (UTC)
This just sums it up perfectly.

The British public has a tradition of expressing rebellion through music, and now that the outlet for getting our own rebellious music out there has been strangled, we are finding other ways of getting our feelings known.

I just hope that the music industry will really register the silent majority that has always been out there, ignored by the suits who thought that we simply didn't exist any more!
Gordon Brown, if you're listening to this song
vassily_shuisky wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 08:10 pm (UTC)

then listen to the chorus, and take note.

Because it's about YOU.
Re: Gordon Brown, if you're listening to this song
ron_broxted wrote:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009 at 10:15 pm (UTC)
Dorogoi Vassily, the British are too busy ewatching "Coronation Street" they are the nation that sleep walked into a police state, no wonder Washington despises them.
Point well made!
jelly_g wrote:
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 at 12:17 am (UTC)
Love the article. Hopefully RATM having this christmas number one will be the start of something wonderful in the music industry. Cowell/New Labour have reigned supreme for too long.

Can't wait for the article on Radio 1!
superkamiokande wrote:
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 at 12:57 am (UTC)
Good stuff! Aren't the charts all about the music business rather than music that's out there? I figured the RATM to #1 push was all about showing dissatisfaction with the way the charts have become; xfactor typifying their current state. Any insult to either Joe McElderry's or RATM's music is an unimaginative jab using personal taste as a rather lame weapon. Agree with your last point strongly though, esp in the UK.. where's this decade's Joe Strummer/Billy Bragg/Manic Street Preachers??
jfs wrote:
Thursday, 24 December 2009 at 01:27 pm (UTC)
Try Frank Turner. The same mix of the personal and political, and unlike Bragg (who I respect and admire) he can actually sing.


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