That Time a Rage Against the Machine Song Was a Christmas Singles #1

Christmas music, for the most part, tends
to be both non-offensive and fairly generic- two things you can’t really say about the
song, Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine, which somehow managed to become
the 2009 UK Christmas #1 thanks to the efforts of a couple who was really annoyed with the
coveted spot being dominated by whoever won the UK X Factor in a given year. Since 2004 (when the X Factor first aired
in the UK), it has been extremely common for the winner’s debut song to become that year’s
Christmas number one single thanks to a combination of timing of its release, almost ubiquitous
coverage by traditional media and the popularity of the show. The X Factor didn’t really start this trend;
the UK Christmas time singles’ chart tends to be dominated by reality TV contestants
and has been since around 2002, when contestants from Popstars: The Rivals scored the number
one spot that year. Nevertheless, the X Factor has contributed
to the trend significantly, with winners of the show boasting an impressive eight Christmas
number ones between them in the last decade. In 2008, in an effort to stop the show from
getting the number one spot for the fourth year in a row (in 2004, the top spot went
to the 20th anniversary version of Do They Know It’s Christmas), a frustrated husband
and wife team comprised of Jon and Tracey Morter started a Facebook campaign to get
Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up to number one as a nod to the popular internet
meme of Rickrolling, where people are tricked into watching the video for the 1987 hit. While the campaign did gain some traction,
managing to get the song back into the charts 21 years after its initial release, eventually
peaking at number 73, it ultimately failed and the number one spot, unsurprisingly, went
to that year’s X Factor winner. The success of the campaign inspired the couple
to try again the following year, this time banking on the Rage Against the Machine’s
1992 hit Killing in the Name. The band’s anti-establishment mantra and the
song’s theme of not doing what you’re told made it a perfect fit for what the couple
were trying to accomplish. They also noted that they thought it would
be “funny” to see a song like Killing in the Name reach the Christmas singles top
spot. And it worked- over a million people ended
up liking the Facebook page resulting in the story being widely covered by the media. The campaign was also supported by numerous
well-known artists including Dave Grohl, Prodigy, Muse and even Paul McCartney, who stated,
“…it’s out of left-field you know. Everyone expects Joe [McElderry] to do it,
and he certainly will sell a lot of records. And if he gets to Number One, good luck to
him. But it would be kind of funny if a band like
Rage Against The Machine got it, because it would prove a point”. It should be noted that Paul McCartney said
this several days after appearing on the X Factor. One person who was decidedly less amused,
at least publicly, was X Factor host Simon Cowell who openly referred to the campaign
as “stupid”, among other choice insults in the tabloids. Of course, privately he sung a different tune,
reaching out to Jon and Tracey to congratulate them on the campaign and, according to Jon,
he “was very nice, really nice to talk to. We had a little chat about music and just
things in general really. He was lovely and he wished us well and he
also said it was probably the best Christmas number one race that he has been involved
with. He thanked us for bringing the race back a
little bit and making it exciting.” As for the band themselves, lead guitarist
Tom Morello was vocally supportive of the campaign from the beginning and the band pledged
to donate all the proceeds they made from the sale of the song that Christmas to a charity
for the homeless called Shelter. The band also thanked fans for their support
in 2010 by playing a free gig in London. Of course, the campaign to get the song to
number one wasn’t without controversy. For starters, the song’s lyrics, which contain
the word “f*ck” about seventeen times, depending on the version you’re listening
to, were deemed unsuitable for radio. This came to a head when the band was invited
to play a live version of the song on BBC Radio 5live and they were specifically requested
to not say the line “f*ck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” This request went over about as well as you’d
expect, with lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, screaming the offending line four times during
the song before being pulled off air. (Later, the BBC would issue a public apology.) Morello also opened the song by loudly complaining
about the X Factor and criticising the show for trying to monopolize the charts and spoonfeeding
people “schmaltzy ballads”. Another delicious irony about the whole thing
was that the band themselves were signed with a label owned by Sony BMI, which also owned
the label X Factor winners signed with, meaning ultimately, the same massive company that
was the source of the initial outrage just made more money than they normally would have
thanks to the promotion and competition driving up sales. The band defended this similarly to how they’ve
always defended the fact that they’re preaching an anti-establishment message while being
signed with a subsidiary of one of the largest corporations in the world- they stated that
it wasn’t about money, but sending a message to the widest audience possible, and, in this
case, adding that they would be donating all their royalties to charity so weren’t profiting
from this particular campaign. In the end, the song did make it to the number
one spot with a little over half a million downloads purchased, beating out Joe McElderry’s
The Climb by about 50,000 copies sold. As for McElderry, he wasn’t upset about any
of it. “This time last year I never thought for one
minute that I’d win The X Factor, never mind about having a debut single out, so I’m just
delighted to be in the charts.” Bonus Fact:
Ever wonder how the phenomenon of Rick Rolling got started? Well, wonder no more. This actually came about thanks to duckrolling. Duckrolling got its start indirectly thanks
to the founder of the occasionally infamous internet message board 4chan, Christopher
Poole- better known online by his moniker “moot”. Not long before Rickrolling became the internet’s
go-to prank, moot decided to make it so that anytime a user wrote the word “egg” on
the site, it would autocorrect to “duck”. The prank was a big hit with 4chan users who
were particularly amused that the word eggroll would automatically be stylised as duckroll
whenever it was typed. As the joke evolved, some time in late 2006
one anonymous user Photoshopped and linked to an image of a duck with wheels- a literal
interpretation of the word duckroll. It soon became a common prank on the site
to trick fellow users into clicking links that led to the image of the duck, resulting
in the coining of the term “duckrolled” to describe the act of being duped in this way. This all brings us to Rickrolling. Some time in May of 2007 an unknown user on
4chan’s /v/ video game board posted a link purported to be for the trailer for the game
Grand Theft Auto IV, but in reality took people to a freebooted upload of the music video
for Never Gonna Give You Up. Google caches and a bit of trolling through
the Wayback Machine reveals that this video, along with being the first known video created
expressly to Rickroll internet denizens, is one of the earliest known examples of that
music video being uploaded to YouTube. It’s also worthy of note that the uploading
of this video predates an authorized upload by some two years. In any event, when linking Astley’s hit
song became the new en vogue prank, the term Rickrolling, borrowing from Astley’s first
name and the aforementioned duckrolling meme, was coined to describe it. Arguably the apex of the Rickolling phenomenon
came on April 1st of 2008 when YouTube automatically redirected every person who clicked on a video
on the site’s main page to the music video for the song, which we guess is a lot better
than directing them to an alternate version of this joke going around at the time involving
a couple of ladies and a cup…

Comments 99

  • For those who like our stuff and would like a much longer, more conversational variation to listen to while driving to work, cleaning, doing projects around the house, or just going for a nice brisk walk, do go check out our BrainFood Show podcast which has almost 1,000 5 star ratings now on iTunes U.S. alone :-): It's pretty interesting and if you like these videos, you'll almost certainly enjoy the more casual Simon and the Elijah Wood doppelganger co-host who is the founder of TIFO. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I had no idea that this was a thing

  • Oh Simon. I have a feeling you are going to get many rickroll attempts in the near future. Great vid tho. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Silent Rick Roll. Thanks Simon. Thanks.

  • nice to see the normally composed Simon lose his shit a little. looks good to see you laugh Simon.

  • Simon attempts not to crack up whilst the thought of the incongruity of the f-bomb being transmitted live by "Auntie" BBC passes through his head…
    Simon cracks up anyway.
    Priceless. I'm glad I showed up for this one.

  • "The band themselves were signed with a label owned by Sony BMI, which also owned the label X-Factor winners signed with. Meaning ultimately, the same massive company that was the source of the initial outrage just made more money than they normally would've."

    Capitalism in a nutshell.

  • Fun! Sounds like you had fun creating it, too.

  • Love when Simon loses it.

  • Overrated

  • Joe McElderry vs Joe McElready…FIGHT!!!

  • That false The Elder Scroll 5 leak, back in the days Rickrolled me hard.

  • i love how you broke down a little bit in the middle lol. it's pretty hilarious that a radio show told rage to not swear during a song whose lyrics literally say "fuck you, I wont do what you tell me".

    Also highly recommend opening the song in a new tab and lowering the volume a little to have it play under the video. flows in perfectly

  • Letโ€™s here more about those two girls with one cup Rolf ๐Ÿคฃ

  • When are they going to change their name to Rage With The Machine?

  • Simon Cowell is such an insufferable douchbag.

  • Can anyone tell me why I should waste one second caring or even thinking about anything Simon cowell thinks or says? Seriously people, turn off the fake crap called reality tv

  • 7:16 thats a reference! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Rage has been one of my favorites since 6th grade

  • So they told Rage not to say "F you I won't do what you tell me." Pretty sure we can put that in the "what did you expect to happen?" file.

  • I love Today I found out and Simon Whistler too. I have been bingeing all the old segments and staying current. I especially like the moments they leave in of Simon losing it and laughing thanks for not totally editing those out. I will be forever a fan of TIFO and of Simon.

  • I didn't know Britain was afflicted with the "X Factor" as well. I'm so sorry.

  • Too bad "Weird Al" Yankovic didn't "X" out such twaddle with his take on a Cold War Christmas:
    Simon Whistler doesn't like Anime? Oh well, here's the original:

  • Over the last 30 years Christmas songs have gotten worse and we are still playing Slade and all the other 80s songs because no one can write a decent Christmas tune…. I'm pretty sure I voted for Rage back then too

  • Well done for leaving the laugh blooper in. Like!

  • Who gives a $–t

  • Can I also say this video would have been better if you had Rick rolled us at the end. I know you thought about it

  • I remember this happening. I love Rage Against the Machine!
    You cracking up made the video โœŒ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • 4:07 this almost became a Business Blaze episode

  • Thanks for the mention of Joe McEldery. He was/is so adorable and such a good singer. But, I heard that his success on X Factor turned him gay. Anyone else hear that? (Not that thereโ€™s anything wrong with that.)

  • Being a big fan of RATM, I have no idea how I missed this entire event. Brilliant stuff.

  • Every time I watch any channel that Simon narrates I just can't get over how fine he is.
    He is SOOOO fine. Truly one of the only online guys I'm even into, but definitely the only one I'm REALLY into.
    I know I sound thirsty. Because I am.

  • blame Simon Cowell for that!!

  • That 2 girls 1 cup mention… I had removed it from my memory oh god the flashbacks. I was just a kid man the internet was weird and we grew up right along with it… aw geez welp back to another decade of repressing that memory

  • Don't forget the following year when it made #2. Probably because Cowell went on a buying spree and bought his own stock.

  • Thank god those two ladies arent popular any more

  • Rage against the X-Factor… The first time I paid attention to the U.K. Christmas #1 since I emigrated out of the Great Greyness!

  • Simon, Why yes we want more from you, thank you for asking. I would love to see Simon Whistler doing Rickโ€™s dance. Can anyone make this happen? Please. You know make a wish foundation is only for kids so I cannot turn them. Love the video, and the entire team.

  • I'm usually able to keep a straight face when watching your videos, Simon… usually… but I totally lost it at 4:10. THAT was fucking epic. ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • Rage Against the Machine is some epic music. This is my favorite TIFO video now.
    I don't actually like traditional Christmas music. This is my favorite though:
    The Kinks, Father Christmas
    And a nice Christmas story:
    (no rickrolling)

  • I remember hearing this about ten or twelve years ago. Three podcasters I followed at the time would pause during their live cast for music breaks. They informed us about the X-factor protest.

  • a-couple-of-ladies-and-a-cup.mp4

  • What about ladbaby

  • I didn't get why people got so upset about two girls eating Nutella out of a cup. I know it is unhealthy and all but common

  • Yet another proof that the metal community is awesome.

  • Love the out take ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  • I would like to a video on those two ladies and a cup. No, seriously. I've heard in certain countries it's illegal to link to it and I'm genuinely curious about those involved in the video and what's become of them and how it's effected their lives.

  • Of course he said the F word, because F you, he won't do what you tell him!

  • ๐Ÿ–•๐Ÿ–•

  • Reminds me of when Rob zombie played at the zoo amphitheatre in okc some years back and they said they're going to fine him for every time he said that particular offending word in response he performed Mars needs women and sick bubble gum

  • That's actually pretty cool of Simon.

  • I love when they show Simon losing it during a video!

  • The Paul McCartney quote is fascinating, especially since he's responsible for giving us one of the most inane Christmas singles ever, "Wonderful Christmastime". (If he wasn't an ex-Beatle would that thing ever have stuck around as long as it did?)

  • Rick rolling has become even broader. I know many people who use the term to basically mean any kind of bait and switch thing. The reason for this stems from the fact tha back in the day, before he hit big, you would hear this deep, husky, soulful voice over the radio. The more you heard it the stronger your preconceived notion of what he looked like was imprinted in your mind. Then…… see him for the first time. Enough said?

  • That god damn cup, too soon Simon, too soon.

  • that's really weird how everyone is just fine with mainstream bands pushing communism despite it having the highest body count….but hey I guess you can stack corpses as high as you want as long as youre not racist and give to the poor

  • I remember that happening and it didn't really surprise me cos pretty much everyone was fed up of the same generic crap winning every year.

  • Fโ€™ing lovely.

  • part of my wishes simon actually was wearing a santa hat…

    further proving that simon cowl was right and something can be both stupid and exciting.

  • Always my favourite Christmas song. I remember being in the kitchen with my mother and brother listening to the charts (probably the first time we ever did) having each bought the song on iTunes an extra few times.

    When the announcement got to #2 and Simon Cowels next load of tripe came on we leapt around. And When rage against the machine played it was Christmas carnage. Especially when they swore at the end. Best Christmas ever.

  • I tried posting the offensive part, YouTube didn't like that lol

  • You missed the best bit about that BBC Five Live performance. The first words out of the presenter's mouth after Killing in the Name was cut off for saying the f-word four times were

    "Sorry, we needed to get rid of that because that suddenly turned into something we were not, well we were expecting it and asked them not to do it, but they did it anyway – so buy Joe's record." ย 

    She later observered โ€œmy editor told me afterwards they got more complaints about me saying 'vote for Joe McElderryโ€™ than somebody saying f— four times on the radioโ€.

  • Yay ancient copy cat Christmas tunes tss ๐Ÿ™

  • What you forgot to mention is that Simon Cowell owns shares in the same Sony BMI label so he made money from this Christmas number 1 as well. So it was a win win for him whoever got to number 1 that year.

  • BBC: okay so… Iโ€™m gonna need you to go ahead and do what I told you.

    RATM: thatโ€™s gonna be a no from us dawg.

    BBC: surprised pikachu face.

  • Rage Against Talent.

  • I'm not complaining here… But it is so hard for me to understand his accent! I like this channel, but i have to pay way more attention and sometimes even doing that, i just don't understand.

  • You owe me a Depends. I laughed so hard I pee'd myself. Thank You

  • I bought this to get it to number 1 back in 2009, was amazing and loved the live Performance.

  • The BBC performance mentioned can be seen here – it's soooo good!

  • And another bonus fact. Top of the Pops were livid about it and initially refused to have them do it live if they even "dared" to reach number one but had to give in due to massive complaints about them.

  • 2 girls 1 cup!! Holy shit i miss the old internet ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • I'd forgotten about this, the power of the interwebs! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  • Doesn't the BBC know about the nature of rock music? I remember Huey Morgan from Fun Lovin' Criminals trolled a BBC interviewer on his way into the MTV awards one year. "You're BBC? We're live right now?" he confirmed. Ignoring the question, Huey said "Michael Jackson," then he looked straight down the camera and continued, "fucks little kids." Then he walked away, laughing his ass off as the BBC guy spluttered through a rehearsed damage-control speech to try to distance the BBC from the libelous content they'd just broadcast.

    It was the most rock-&-roll thing ever to happen at the VMAs.

  • I've loved the song since the day it came out. It was great hearing it on the airwaves again in 2011. I just figured it must've been used in movie or something like that.

  • I got Rickrolled last week! ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  • Next RATM single to break the Christmas Singles will be "Bulls on Parade"

  • Love it when Simon cracks up. Great content

  • Itโ€™s always amusing to me when people who use Capitalism to amass MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of dollars of wealth lecture us about how evil Capitalism is, and how Socialism is such a wonderful form of government. Thanks for the constant and continuing lectures Zach de la Rocha, and RATm. Your contribution to American society is inutile. Itโ€™s very profitable to lecture via lyrics about the how rich and powerful are so evil, isnโ€™t it boys. This Christmas enjoy your net worths of: Zach $25 Mil, Tom $30 Mil, Tim $20 Mil, Brad $20 Mil. God I LOVE hypocrites.

  • A couple of ladies and a cup, hey? I reckon that video would be real crappy.

  • I remember when it happened like it was yesterday, it was such a beautiful moment

  • Epic!!! I already had respect for this guy but it's just been cranked up to 11!

  • Don't sing the line

    The one that goes "f*ck you I won't do want you tell me"

    Yeah that one

    Was anyone surprised

  • I donโ€™t do what they tell me

  • Proud to have been a part of this little bit of history! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    (And the Ding Dong The Witch is Dead campaign too ๐ŸงŸ)

  • Fucking epic indeed

  • Do you remember when RATM put out good music? Me neither.

  • ~ trying to not laugh, ends up laughing~ "fucking epic" ………………. THAT is sheer comedy gold ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Michael Andrews Mad World was my last favourite Xmas number 1. Just shows how long ago that was, itโ€™s been dominated by X Factor rubbish ever since really, at least so much so Iโ€™ve lost track of anyone else reaching the number 1 spot.

    In fact I remember really enjoying mad world as I was driving to the cinema to see Lord of the Rings

  • first time i've seen simon break out of character. fucking epic!

  • Stop posting bullshit… show us something that makes sense

  • BBC: Congratulations fellas, just please, don't rebell and do what we tell you
    RATM: Gotcha, lul

  • Remember when YT was fun way back in 2008

  • lool, I remember this

  • I love it when Simon just loses it. It's adorable.

  • I own this literal CD single with that cover art and thin plastic case… lol

  • hmmm 2 ladies and a cup ….. I should look that up !!

  • "Darn you, I Politely decline to follow your instructions"
    "Also, the badge wearing officers, could be caucasians selected for their inherent bias towards people of color and their willingness to oppress said minority group"

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