News: Even Paul McCartney wants RATM to win
The Joe McElderry v Rage Against the Machine battle for the final Christmas No 1 of the noughties is surely the most hotly discussed, media-fuelled pop duel since Blur v Oasis in 1995. You're either in Simon Cowell's shiny, sentimental pop camp, pledging your allegiance to a nice Geordie lad – (played by Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry). Or you're one of those mean-spirited weirdos using democratic means to make a mockery of Cowell and Cheryl Cole's current monopoly.
It's pop v rock, to put it in simple, old-fashioned terms, and the gloves are off. But let's break it down to the one thing apoplectic bloggers have overlooked: the music. On the one hand, we have a public-approved pop pin-up moulded in the Larry Parnes tradition, recycling a Disney-endorsed Miley Cyrus song. On the other, an anti-authoritarian song written by multi-ethnic group of firebrands who've been tear-gassed, arrested and tracked by the CIA in the name of free speech.
Killing in the Name was written during George Bush Sr's presidency. The fallout from the first Iraq conflict was being felt and unemployment was the highest it had been in a decade, with 14% of Americans living in poverty. Yet Bush was told by his economic advisors to stop dealing with the economy as, thanks to Iraq, his re-election was assured.
Alluding to a close correlation between the police force and the Ku Klux Klan – "Some of those that work forces / Are the same that burn crosses" – by the time the song was released, Los Angeles had witnessed the riots that followed the acquittal of the LAPD during the Rodney King trial.
Considered in context, it's as potent a protest song now as it was then. "The core of all rebellion is the denying of repressive authority," RATM guitarist Tom Morello told me in 2005. "And I think we summed up very succinctly in 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me …'"
The idea of it being No 1, of course, is both absurd and hilarious – and humour is something that has been lost in all this – while the drive behind this resurgence is a classic act of absurdist situationist troublemaking totally befitting the song. "I remember when our A&R guy suggested that this be our first single and I was, like, 'Are you kidding?," said Morello. "To the band's credit, we were always fearless in our business decisions and to choose the most profanity-laced song as the debut salvo – possibly the most profane single there has been – was something we were very proud of. To this day, I don't think there's a Rage song that really resonates in the way this does."
Even the band can't possibly have expected the song to resonate quite like this. But then since its 1992 release, the landscape has changed irrevocably and it is conceivable that the drive behind Killing in the Name could be a knock-on result of the Obama effect. Bear with me on this: if Obama were a rock star he wouldn't be Will.i.bloody.am, he'd be the Paul Robeson-quoting Tom Morello. The similarities are startling: both were born mixed race in the early 60s to a Kenyan parent. Both are Harvard-educated liberals with strong ties to Chicago, who have been awarded for their human rights work. Both have worked in the senate, one more successfully than the other. It almost seems fitting for a song such as this to see in the first Christmas of a black man running the planet.
Source: The Guardian
Also, what the hell is going on with LJ at the moment? Where'd all the linebreaks go? D: