Rage Against The Machine slam ‘X Factor’, Simon Cowell and swear live on radio

Band perform full version of 'Killing In The Name' in breakfast show

Rage Against The Machine performed ‘Killing In The Name’ live on British radio this morning (December 17) – including full swearing in the chorus – as their Christmas Number One battle with The X Factor escalated.

Interviewed on BBC 5live, the band took the opportunity to criticise Simon Cowell before playing their song live down from the line from Los Angeles.

Despite being asked to perform a “radio edit”, singer Zack de la Rocha slipped into the full “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” lyrics, resulting in the station pulling the plug.


The band are currently the subject of a Facebook campaign to get their 1992 song to the Christmas Number One spot ahead of The X Factor winner Joe McElderry‘s ‘The Climb’.

Speaking about the race, de la Rocha attacked Cowell, saying: “Simon is an interesting character. He seems to have profited greatly off humiliating people on live television and has a unique position of capturing the attention of people on television, but also the airwaves. We see this [campaign] as a necessary break of that control.”

Meanwhile guitarist Tom Morello explained why the band had decided to back the fan-led campaign.

“People are tired of being spoon fed one schmaltzy ballad after another,” he 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.

“People aren’t buying ‘Killing In The Name’ to protest a record coming out on a major company. We wrote ‘Killing In The Name’ in a small industrial slum in Los Angeles. The X Factor song is written by a cabal of overpaid songwriters to shove the schmaltzy business down your throats. So there is two very different choices.

“The thing the listeners need to know is, it’s a really close race and its a real liberating musical revolution and we’re honoured to be a part of it.”


‘Killing In The Name’ recently became the bookies favourite to bag the Christmas Number One slot.

Simon Cowell has slammed the campaign, calling it “stupid”, “cynical” and “very Scrooge“. Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello has publicly given the campaign his backing.

For more on The X Factor and its effect on British music, get the new issue of NME, on UK newsstands nationwide, for an exclusive interview with Cowell.