Following on from the meteoric success stories that was Rage Against The Machine's climb to the top of the charts a couple of years back, a new online campaign has now emerged to get Nirvana's classic track 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' to number one for Christmas this year to block the eventual winner of X Factor. We here at Gigwise want to ask simply - what's the point?
As of yesterday, the song had a 4-1 chance of topping the festive rankings after it attracted more than 33,000 likes on the official Facebook page. And let's not overlook Nirvana's natural chart appeal, just earlier this month the re-issue of their 1991 album 'Nevermind' went straight in at number five in the UK album chart, having been repackaged to coincide with its 20th anniversary of release.
So Amelia Lily, Little Mix, Misha B - or whoever else may win this year's reality TV competition – better be prepared for some fierce rivalry, with many other campaign groups hot on their tails. The Wombles are set to release a Christmas single too, as well as a comedy song from Mighty Boosh comedian Matt Berry – with the money raised going to the homeless charity Shelter. And you can count that every emo band's fan message boards will be flooded with grassroot attempts to hijack the charts.
But one simple question should be posed to most of these attempts, that's the ones aimed to topple Simon Cowell's X-Factor empire, and that is “What's the point?” What are these campaigns trying to achieve? Are they just for laughs? Well the lasting laugh of Rage's number one came just seconds before defeated winner Joe McElderry became number one just the week after Christmas. Then there was a collective silence once again.
If you really want to save music from the hands of Cowell, Walsh, Barlow and co then you need to think long-term. These sort of campaigns actually help X Factor acts as their fans are more motivated to go out and buy their CD if they feel threatened and think that there's a possibility of them not getting to the number one spot that has long been taken for granted. So while you think you may be “fucking the system” or whatever, you're actually just playing right into their hands while giving your favourite band just a few extra bucks.
To really support alternative music, you should ignore these silly matters altogether. The pop world will be there forever, for better or worse, and there's nothing you can do about that. So either you keep putting up this juvenile wall and draw a line in the sand where one side there's “you” and the other being “them” - or you just accept matters and focus on the music that you actually like.
If you want to support independent music, then buy records all year round and not just at Christmas. Go to more gigs, buy the t-shirt, take home the setlist. Instead of setting up a Facebook group from your bedroom, fuelling naïve and banal backlash.
The sooner people realise that there is room enough in the world for a ying and a yang, for a mainstream and an alternative scene, the better. For example, if there wasn't then we would not have artists as diverse as Beyonce, Kanye West, Tom Waits, Nirvana and new bands like Summer Camp on our iPods – all great musicians in their own right. And that would be a great shame, wouldn't it?