Web crusade stops British Christmas no.1 shoo-in

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The Independent Culture

An Internet campaign to stop the winner of Britain's top television show from once again claiming the coveted Christmas number one single triumphed against the odds Sunday.

US rap metal band Rage Against The Machine's expletive-ridden 1992 hit "Killing In The Name", which has lyrics about rebelling against control, saw off Joe McElderry, the winner of this year's "The X Factor" singing contest, in the battle for the festive top spot.

A campaign on the social networking website Facebook was set up in a bid to stop student McElderry's version of "The Climb" from becoming a fifth straight "X Factor" shoo-in for the Christmas number one slot.

"Killing In The Name" sold more than 500,000 copies in the past week while "The Climb" sold 450,000.

"Killing In The Name" is the first download-only Christmas number one, and achieved the biggest download sales total in a first week ever in the British charts.

"As we have seen in recent years, overhauling any 'X Factor' winner in the race for the Christmas number one is no mean achievement," said The Official UK Charts Company's managing director Martin Talbot.

"The popular support we have seen for the record this week has been truly amazing."

Rage Against the Machine vocalist Zack de la Rocha told BBC radio: "We are very ecstatic and excited about the song reaching number one.

"It says more about the spontaneous action taken by young people throughout the UK to topple this very sterile pop monopoly and less about the song and the band. We are very proud to have had the song chosen as the vehicle by which to do this."

McElderry, 18, said: "Fair play to the guys who have organised the Facebook campaign - it's been exciting to be part of a much-hyped battle."

He added: "This time last year I never thought for one minute that I'd win 'The X Factor', never mind about having a debut single out, so I'm just delighted to be in the charts."

Pop mogul Simon Cowell, the main force behind 'The X Factor', said: "I am gutted for Joe because a number one single meant a lot to him."

However, Cowell kept a hold on the album chart as Scottish singer Susan Boyle's debut "I Dreamed A Dream" remained at the top spot for a fourth straight week.

"This is a truly remarkable outcome - possibly the greatest chart upset ever," said Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for high street retailer HMV.

"This is all about the stunning impact of the Rage Against The Machine Internet campaign in galvanising music fans to protest against the dominance of the reality show in recent years.

"Rage Against The Machine may not be the ideal expression of the Christmas spirit - and many people will have preferred a more appropriate song to top the festive charts, but their anti-corporate message proved a perfect vehicle through which to register such a powerful protest."

Over the decades,the Christmas period has traditionally seen sales surge and a contest for the top spot, though the last four years have all been comfortable victories for "The X Factor" winner.

The Beatles hold the record with four Christmas number ones; the band's bassist Paul McCartney has featured on a further three festive chart toppers.

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" has hit the top three times in different versions (1984, 1989 and 2004), while Queen's epic "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the only recording to have topped the charts twice (1975 and 1991).