By way of an explanation for forrins – the number one single is a kind of cultural touchstone in the UK in a way that it doesn’t seem to be in other countries, and having the Christmas number one used to be a solid guarantee of a permanent entry in the nation’s memory. In the last 15 years marketing practices have ensured that there’s a different number one almost every week and the charts have become something of a minority interest, but while an unknown can get to number one every other week, the British public interest in the Christmas number one has if anything increased. This seems to be largely down to Simon Cowell’s X-factor, which has produced a winner at Christmas every year since 2004, and a de-facto Christmas number one single with it.
The X-factor is very popular, and there’s probably been some good music on it. (I’ve been out of the country for almost its entire run and haven’t been that interested anyway, so it’s not really for me to say) The idea of claiming by right a national icon, even an openly commercial one that usually produces the worst novelty hits imaginable, does seem particularly arrogant though, so it seemed a fairly good joke last year when an internet campaign managed to get Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name Of” to the top ahead of a particularly sappy X-Factor-winner Miley Cyrus cover.
This year everyone wants to get in on the game. That’s not how it works, of course, you’ve got to all pick the same song if you want it to get there. As someone who doesn’t really care that much though, the top 40 today is going to be full of strange and unusual music that shouldn’t really be there. I’m going to have a listen to the contenders now and write what I think of them. Like reviews or something.
Matt Cardle – When We Collide
Acoustic guitar, stubble, one of those hats people seem to be wearing now for some reason, the usual uplifting anthemic-by-numbers that seems to be de-facto for these kinds of things, just in the “rock” mode this time. Not particularly offensive, to tell the truth, though I will never deliberately listen to it again.
The Trashmen – Surfin Bird
AKA “Everybody’s heard about the bird…” As far as I can tell this one is here because it was featured in an episode of Family Guy. I knew the hook before, of course, but thought there would be something else in there, but no, that’s pretty much it for two and a half minutes. There were a fair few novelties like this in the early 60s, and this is no more or less odd than any of them, so it’s still a bit of a strange choice. On the other hand, what do I know? It seems to be the one with the best chance of getting to number one. Though it won’t, of course.
Rihanna – What’s My Name
Oh Rhianna, what are you doing? Keep out of it until next week, you don’t know what forces you’re playing with here. The song itself almost seems to have some interesting ideas, but it’s very pedestrian in its final execution. To be fair she makes a fairly good effort but the song just isn’t going anywhere, and the obligatory guest rap is at best perfunctory. Proper rubbish.
Take That – The Flood
It’s Take That. In a canoe. With Robbie. I’m trying quite hard to have an opinion about it but none seems to be there. Hm. Goes on for a while.
Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror (When We Collide)
The original version of the song destined to get to number one, apparently being bought by fans, offended that their emo rock is being lifted, apparently note-for-note, by Simon Cowell for commercial purposes. If I were them I might take a moment to consider that the fact that Cowell can have the song covered and not want to have it changed means that they probably should reconsider this whole “alternative” thing.
John Cage – 4’33
A few months ago, this looked like a sure thing. Since then enthusiasm seems to have waned to the extent that it will be lucky to even make the top 10. It was probably too much of a stretch to get the public behind a load of silence, and the release of the bandwagon royal legion two minutes silence single on armistice day seems to have really knocked the wind out of the campaign. I’m still looking forward to hearing it played on the radio 1 top 40.
Corey Taylor – X-M@S
Rubbish anti-Christmas single from the guy from Slipknot. There are many many cliches about the downside of the holiday season and he manages to cover pretty much all of them here.
Gamu Nhengu – Where Will You Sleep This Christmas?
Apparently this woman is an X-Factor contestant in danger of being deported to Zimbabwe. That sentence is worrying in many different ways. I’d like the British to confront their ridiculous double-standards and prejudices about immigration but I fear tackling the issue in this way may just make things worse. Anyway, the song is just dull, and the comic sans on the cover is unforgivable.
Kunt and the Gang – Use My Arsehole as a Cunt
An attempt to make the most obscene number one in history, coupled with biting satire of the coalition government. This should win. It’ll be lucky to even make the top 40.
Here’s the video. Obviously it’s not suitable for work, or anywhere else.