Silence is golden for Christmas chart hopefuls

Musicians today crowded into a small London studio to record a silent Christmas charity single they hope will reach the top spot.

Madness frontman Suggs, The Kooks, Orbital and singer Imogen Heap were among those who arrived at the Soho venue to record a cover version of experimental composer John Cage's silent work 4'33".

Pete Doherty, who organisers had hoped would attend, failed to show up as recording of the four minute, 33 second piece got under way.

A spokesman said: "I don't know where he is. Somebody is trying to get hold of him. We can't rule anything out."

He added Billy Bragg "recorded" his contribution via a phone.

The "Cage Against the Machine" campaign has already attracted a huge amount of support on Facebook, with more than 63,000 people signing up to make the single the festive number one.

Luke Pritchard of The Kooks said: "It's a really cool thing to do, a lot of my friends are involved.

"It's definitely something close to the heart and also I wanted to do it. To try and be number one for Christmas is quite cool.

"It's quite interesting, it's a piece of art really. It's a conceptual piece rather than something musical. It's more of a statement really, isn't it?"

The winner of the X Factor is usually expected to be one of the strongest contenders in the charts but last year rap metal act Rage Against The Machine snatched the Christmas number one from Joe McElderry.

The band beat the X Factor winner with their 1992 hit Killing In the Name after an online campaign.

Asked if the Cage cover was a conscious attempt by some bands to beat the X Factor's hold on the charts, Pritchard added: "It is a bit, I think, but I don't think that's why everyone is here. You can make it a big deal if you want, the fact it's against X Factor.

"It's for charity, it's for a good cause. People want to do something they think matters. If it beats X Factor, that's brilliant."