Along with the Eastenders special and the Queen’s speech, the announcement of the Christmas number one is a staple firmament in the Christmas day itinerary. Dominated by a slew of generic talent show winners from the early 00s, the tables were turned last year with the successful Rage Against the Machine campaign, proving a victory for the anti-corporate over Simon Cowell’s latest project.
This year, however, the rebellion has been taken to the next level with one of the main alternatives to the obligatory X factor winner single being '4’3”', which is literally 4 minutes and 33 seconds of total silence ‘composed’ by John Cage. Although the abstract concept behind his idea is interesting in that total silence can never really exist, I can’t help but feel it is a bit of a cop out and the reason behind many of the people buying the single will be for the mere novelty factor and support of the ‘Cage Against the Machine’ boycott rather than appreciating the avant-garde masterpiece that Cage obviously believes it to be. However despite this it seems another X factor win is inevitable with Matt Cardle’s ‘We Collide’ currently storming up the charts this week and knocking Rihanna’s ‘What’s My Name’ off the top spot. Although it was promising of him to cover a less known song and I’m sure it will sell very well, it lacks the depth of the original and adds in an unnecessary Westlife style change of key. The only hope is that just as Alexandra Burke’s ‘Hallelujah’ drew attention to the breath-taking Jeff Buckley version, that Cardle’s will do the same for Biffy’s ‘Many of Horror’, which is also climbing, albeit slowly, up the charts. ‘Surfin’ bird’ is another favourite for the Christmas crown, seemingly more inspired, however, by our love of Family Guy rather than the Trashmen. After the song featured in an episode in 2008, it re-entered the charts and is set to make a comeback this minute after a facebook campaign. With Bob the Builder and Mr Blobby gracing the top spot in recent years it is hardly the most serious of chart battles. In which case ‘Surfin’ Bird’ would be my favourite to win, a perfect fun antidote to both the X factor predictability and to the more serious anti-corporate campaigns.
For metallers or general Grinches and Scrooges, Corey Taylor’s ‘Xm@$’ is your best bet, however an essentially anti-Christmas Christmas song may be possibly a step too far for the general public to ever really make it far up the charts. Other notable attempts this year are Coldplay’s ‘Christmas Lights’, a boring and cynical but typical solid effort and ‘Shake up for Christmas’ by Train, which has infectious feel good Christmas cheer but sounds a bit too manufactured and commercial as it was after all in a Coca-Cola advert. Ellie Goulding’s beautiful rendition of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ packed with a simple sincerity and sentimentality, is another advert hit to feature in the Christmas singles list.
Attempts have also been made by everyone from Jedward to Wagner to Michael Jackson and Electric Six so who knows what could really happen on the day. After the predictability of the last few years’ number one spot, it’s great to see people regaining interest, having fun and being actively involved in seeing what they want hit the top spot. It is slightly sad that this annual tradition has turned into a strategic battle instead of what it is essentially meant to be: the nation’s favourite song at Christmas. However, a bit of Christmas rivalry never hurt anyone and it would be nice to wipe that smug smile off of Cowell’s face for yet another year.