Simon Cowell has admitted he is "gutted" that X Factor winner Joe McElderry was beaten to this year's Christmas Number One by Rage Against The Machine. McElderry's ballad 'The Climb' sold around 50,000 copies fewer than 'Killing In The Name', originally released in 1992.
In taking the title for 2009, 'Killing In The Name' also set two new landmarks, becoming the UK's first download-only Christmas Number One and notching up the biggest one-week download sales total in British chart history, according to the Official Charts Company.
Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said: "Congratulations to Rage Against The Machine on their Number One. But congratulations too should also go to Joe McElderry. In taking the Number Two spot, he has still achieved one of the highest weekly sales of any single this year - in almost any other year, 450,000 copies would have given him the Christmas Number One."
"Rage Against The Machine are honoured to have been drafted by this historic grassroots campaign to make our song 'Killing in the Name' the number one song on the UK Christmas Week pop chart," declared guitarist Tom Morello. "We extend our heartfelt thanks to every fan and freedom fighter who helped make our anthem of defiance and rebellion the Anarchy Christmas Miracle of 2009." Pic: Photoshot
Upon hearing the news, a statement on the official Rage Christmas website read: "WE DID IT! RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE IS XMAS NUMBER ONE. We've shown that we can make a difference and that you don't have a right to Number One just because Simon Cowell says so, especially with a bad cover!" Pic: PA Photos
The last time a chart battle was anywhere near as close was in 1998 when The Spice Girls' 'Goodbye' beat Chef's 'Chocolate Salty Balls' with sales of 380,000 sales to 375,000 respectively. Last year Alexandra Burke's 'Hallelujah' was among the all-time biggest selling Christmas singles, shifting 576,000 to beat Jeff Buckley's recording of the same song. Pic: PA Photos
Making good on a promise they made in the build-up to their chart victory, Rage Against The Machine will now play a free gig in the UK, early in 2010. Pic: Rex Features
The founder of the Facebook campaign to get Rage Against The Machine to Number One told NME.COM he was shocked at its success. "Fuck me it's crazy, I can't believe it," he gushed. "It's mad, the BBC are even picking me up to do a TV interview tonight and the phone's been going none stop ever since. I can't take stock of it at the moment." Pic: Rex Features
Morter also praised The X Factor and Joe McElderry despite them losing out to Rage Against The Machine. "The whole aim of the campaign was not to diss The X Factor at all," he added. "The X Factor fans like music as much as we do. We were just tired of it getting to Number One every year and we wanted to get the Christmas Number One back." Pic: Rex Features
Rage Against The Machine have called their chart triumph a victory over "sterile pop". Frontman Zack De La Rocha said: "We're ecstatic and excited about the song reaching the Number One spot and I just want to say we want to thank everyone for participating in this incredible, organic grass roots campaign." Pic: Rex Features
De La Rocha continued: "It's more about the spontaneous action taken by young people in the UK to topple this very sterile pop monopoly. When young people decide to take action they can make what's seemingly impossible, possible." Pic: PA Photos
Simon Cowell, the label boss behind Joe McElderry, admitted he was impressed by the pro-Rage campaign. "It has been a good campaign with no dirty tricks and without any funding. They have been passionate and worked hard," Cowell told the Daily Mirror.
Sportingly, Simon Cowell phoned the founder of the pro-Rage campaign to congratulate him on his success. "Simon was very sweet and it was lovely to talk to him," Jon Morter explained to NME.COM. "We had a good chat about music in general. I've got total respect for him. That was a really nice thing to do." Pic: Photoshot
In the current Christmas edition of NME, we put readers' questions to Simon Cowell. Topics discussed include the merits of Little Boots and dubstep, and why Cowell would love to sign Liam and Noel Gallagher to his label. Pic: PA Photos
The triumphant message on RATM's official site also pointed out that the RATM4Xmas campaign had raised a lot of money for charity: "Finally I would like to say thank you to all of you, we've raised £64,726.00 for Shelter at the time of writing this, the difference that this will make to peoples lives is truly amazing. We gotta take the power back - Rage Against The Machine - Merry Christmas."
Joe McElderry branded 'Killing In The Name' "dreadful" when he was played it for the first time by The Sun. "They can't be serious," he said. "I hate it. How could anyone enjoy this? Can you imagine the grandmas hearing this over Christmas lunch?" Pic: PA Photos
Rage are no strangers to controversy; they once announced onstage that George Bush should be brought to trial as a war criminal and hung and shot. They've also been known to burn the US flag and appear naked at gigs. Pic: PA Photos
Simon Cowell is reportedly worth over £120 million. He's currently working with billionaire retail magnate Sir Phillip Green on a new project that will see them take over the world. Pic: PA Photos
No, it's not Joe, Olly, Danyl and Stacey Solomon on an 'X Factor' special. These Guantanamo-style costumes were Rage Against The Machine's stage attire at the Reading And Leeds festivals in 2008. Pic: PA Photos
Simon Cowell's appearance fee for 'The X Factor' is, according to The Guardian, £125,000 per hour, the channel's top rate. Pic: PA Photos