Rage Against The Machine Vs The X Factor – The 2009 Christmas Number One Battle Is Won

We have a winner! And it ain’t Joe. Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ is the UK’s Christmas number 1 in 2009. Hell, it even snowed today too. Merry Christmas, one and all.

Here’s how the astonishing campaign unfolded, as reported in our blog post that started several days ago. Keep scrolling to read the full story as it happened, full details on the victory are at the end:

The campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to the top of the charts is pointless. Not it’s not, it’s vital. No it’s not, it’s futile. Fuck you, you don’t know what you’re talking about…


Yep, we’ve heard all sides of the debate enough times already. Now – with less than a week to go until the Christmas Number One is decided – it’s time to take a look at the tracks’ chances.

Check back in to this blog all week to see the latest stats and conjecture as we wait to see if, just maybe, Rage Against The Machine‘s ‘Killing In The Name’ can beat Joe McElderry‘s cover of Miley Cyrus’ Hannah Montana tune ‘The Climb’. And if you haven’t already, check out our gallery looking at both contenders.

Killing In The Name Cover

At first glance, the Rage campaign looks solid. To crunch a few numbers, there’s 724,395 members of the Facebook group at the time of writing. 576,000 people bought last year’s X Factor single in its first week, so if every person on the campaign bought the track once it would outsell last year’s by 148,395.

However, this year’s final had a record number of viewers – 19 million at one point. Only 4% of the viewers of the final at that point need to buy the track to outnumber every member of the Facebook group. And in further dispiriting news, we’ve had reports of the group being shut down. Comments are currently disabled.


Pro-Rage fans will take solace in our news stories of late, that bookies have slashed the odds of a RATM Number One from 100-1 to 3-1, and that ‘Killing In The Name’ is leading ‘The Climb’ in the iTunes charts.

However, we just got news from Amazon that Joe McElderry is currently leading the way on amazon.co.uk, where both tracks are available for 29p.

Simon Cowell

Keep with this blog across the week as we get further reports and speak to the Official Charts Company about the midweek results, and be sure to comment with any info you might have. And don’t forget to buy the track!

For a guaranteed X Factor-free chart, check out this week’s NME Chart

UPDATE 10.30am 15th Dec
Based on sales on Amazon.co.uk, Rage Against The Machine are just ahead of Joe McElderry in the race for Christmas Number One. ‘Killing in the Name’ currently accounts for 50.3% of the total sales of the two tracks combined with ‘The Climb’ accounting for 49.7%.

UPDATE 11am 15th Dec
The Official Charts Company release a statement:
“Initial sales tallies (for Sunday and Monday trading) indicate that Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In the Name’ has started the week just ahead of McElderry’s ‘The Climb’. The sales gap between the two records is only about 10% of RATM’s sales.”

Ie – not much. And tomorrow sees McElderry’s abomination released on CD. Our source at the OCC says that about half of Alexandra Burke’s sales last year were on CD.

In other words, it doesn’t look likely that RATM’s early lead will be enough to keep them ahead once X Factor fans head down their local HMV.

UPDATE 1pm 15th Dec
Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello backs the campaign on Twitter

UPDATE 11am 16th Dec
Rage Against The Machine have pulled even further ahead, increasing their lead from 6,000 to well over 60,000. However, today the CD copies of ‘The Climb’ hit Tescos across the land in what one NME staffer is calling “leapfrog day”.

UPDATE 11.45am 16th Dec
The inevitable internet viral featuring X Factor contestants singing ‘Killing In The Name’ surfaces.


Meanwhile, Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine calls the campaign “a wonderful dose of anarchy” in an interview with the BBC.

He also pledges to donate his earnings from the race to the Youth Music charity.

UPDATE 2.20pm 16th Dec
From Ladbrokes: “Rage Against The Machine are the new odds-on (8/11) favourites to be crowned Christmas number one”

The odds in full:

RATM 8/11
Joe McElderry Evs
Lady Gaga 25/1
Susan Boyle 33/1
Peter Kay/Children In Need 33/1

UPDATE 4.20pm 16th Dec
New press release from Betfair:
“A Facebook group set up to prevent Joe McElderry from having the Christmas No. 1 single sensationally appears to be on the verge of success, with the chances of a non-X Factor No. 1 now odds-on, according to Betfair customers. Only two days ago, McElderry was as short as 1-6 on to be announced as a chart-topper this Sunday yet now his odds amazingly stand at Evens, with the price of a non-X Factor Xmas song triumphing just 10-11.”

UPDATE 10.30am 17th Dec
All four members of Rage Against The Machine appear on BBC Radio Five Live to discuss the campaign. “People are tired of being spoon fed one schmaltzy balled after another,” Tom Morello said. “They want to take back their own charts. We’re honoured they’ve chosen our song to be the rebel anthem to topple The X Factor monopoly.”

Watch it all, including the band performing ‘Killing In The Name’ – f-bombs and all – here:


UPDATE 11am 17th Dec
The gap between the two songs closes as the first day of Joe McElderry’s CD sales come in. Rage are now around 35,000 ahead (down from 60,000). Our sources at the Official Charts Company are still tipping Joe to win, but expect it to be closer than they thought.

Rage need something special to counter Saturday’s sales, when the herds head to town for last minute Christmas shopping and get seduced by this:

Joe McElderry

UPDATE 11.10am 17th Dec
Another viral surfaces, this time of Joe singing ‘Killing In The Name’:


UPDATE 1.15pm 17th Dec

Bad news from Ladbrokes:

“Joe McElderry has rediscovered the X Factor in the battle for Christmas number one, according to Ladbrokes. The Reality TV champ is now 1/5, from evens, after becoming the first winning act in the show’s history to surrender favouritism earlier this week. Rage Against The Machine are 3/1, from 8/11. Ladbrokes spokesman, Nick Weinberg, said: “Joe has recovered from his black Wednesday. Earlier this week there was a very real chance that he could miss out. But that’s diminishing with every day that passes.”

The latest odds:
Joe McElderry 1/5
Rage Against The Machine 3/1
Lady Gaga 25/1
Peter Kay/Children In Need 33/1
Susan Boyle 33/1
Rolf Harris & Rick Parfitt 50/1
Alexandra Burke 50/1
George Michael 50/1
JLS 50/1
Take That 50/1
Westlife 50/1

Perez Hilton picks up on the story on his massive US blog.

UPDATE 10.30am 18th Dec
Rage Against The Machine are still ahead of Joe McElderry – but only by a few thousand. If Joe doesn’t overtake them tomorrow it will be a miracle.

RATM: 306,115
Joe: 297,192

More news here.

Dominic from Muse declares his support

As does Sir Paul McCartney, who says it would “prove a point”.

UPDATE 11.50am 18th Dec
Two out of the four judges have now slammed the Rage campaign as Cheryl wades in. “If that song, or should I say campaign, by an American group is our Christmas Number One I’ll be gutted for him and our charts” she said.

Now, can someone get Louis Walsh on the phone?

Another Youtube video surfaces, although we can’t really see the point of this one:

UPDATE 1.40pm 18th Dec

Latest odds show Joe ahead:
‘The Climb’ – 2/7
‘Killing In The Name’ – 9/4

Tom Morello tries to rally the troops ahead of Saturday: “Race is close! Every man, woman, and child in the UK needs to download Killing in the Name RIGHT NOW to topple X-Factor monopoly. Yes we can”

UPDATE 10.20am 19th Dec
Rage Against The Machine announce a “massive free victory gig” in the UK if they reach Number One – via Tom Morello’s Twitter feed.

NME Store starts selling RATM ‘Battle Of Britain’ t-shirts.

11am 19th Dec
RATM are 11,000 behind according to 7 Digital.

In The Sun’s offices Joe McElderry throws darts at an image of Zack De La Rocha and brands ‘Killing In The Name’ “dreadful”. “They wouldn’t get through to boot camp on The X Factor – they’re just shouting” he says.

From The Telegraph: “The last big Christmas battle anywhere near this scale was the Spice Girls’ ‘Goodbye’ and South Park character Chef’s ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’ in 1998. The Spice Girls won with 380,000 to their rival’s 375,000.”

5pm 20th Dec
There’s just hours to go now until the official announcement.

The leaks are spreading and the rumours about a victor are circulating – all in RATM’s favour currently. All rather exciting, really. The Christmas Number 1 slot has certainly been reinvigorated by all of this.
It’s been an intriguing shot in the arm for music, as well as a huge boost for Sony no doubt, who can take credit for both tracks, bizarrely.

Stay tuned for the winner, right here at 7pm.

5.30pm 20th Dec
*Newsflash!* Unofficial reports are circulating online that Rage Against The Machine are 2009’s Christmas number one.

The official announcement will be made on Radio 1 in just a few hours, but already the ‘blogosphere’ is buzzing with with what purport to be leaked figures.

On Twitter, users including respected music industry sources are discussing claims that Rage Against The Machine are the victors, selling 52,000 copies more than the X Factor’s Joe McElderry. The leaked figures on Twitter claim that RATM sold 502,672 copies whilst Simon Cowell‘s project could only manage 450,838.

6.59pm 20th Dec
And we have a winner!

Hats off to the Facebook campaign started by husband and wife Jon and Tracy Morter – they’ve successfully powered a riotous rock classic to No.1, ending Simon Cowell’s saccharine-flavoured Christmas chart dominance.

No doubt, Cowell and the TV show’s winner Joe McElderry will have their number 1 next week but for now, the people have spoken. Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ is the 2009 Christmas number 1.

A fact that Nicky Campbell will never forget.