British Iconoclasm: Christmas No. 1

British Iconoclasm: Christmas No. 1 December 20, 2019

Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Morrison. $£*&s are still running the world.

Well did you hear, there’s a natural order
Those most deserving will end up with the most
That the cream cannot help but always rise up to the top
Well I say, “Shit floats”
If you thought things had changed
Friend, you’d better think again
Bluntly put, in the fewest of words:
C*nts are still running the world

Sometimes, I am proud to be British. There is an iconoclastic streak running through our national character where we love to fight for the underdog in many contexts, and we can be quite subversive, in an understated way.

This is most apparent with regard to the tradition of a Christmas number one hit. The Christmas number one spot is a coveted achievement and is very closely followed by the media every year. The nature of this has changed somewhat in the era of downloading rather than buying physical copies. Over the last decade, possibly started when Nizlopi at Christmas 2005, on a wave of public sentiment, got to number one, this tradition has been subverted somewhat. We were getting to a stage when Simon Cowell and his X factor winners were becoming default Christmas number ones. Reacting against this corporatism, the British public heralded the anti-Christmas number one each year.

Here is some commentary;

Or at least that’s been the idea ever since 2008, when DJ Jon Morter, sick of X Factor winners’ stranglehold over the Christmas chart, started a Facebook campaign to get Rick Astley‘s Never Gonna Give You Up to the top of the chart instead of Alexandra Burke‘s cover of Hallelujah (it only reached No.73). The following year, Morter tried again with a campaign backing Rage Against the Machine‘s 1992 single Killing in the Name, which managed to block X Factor’s Joe McElderry from the top spot.

Morter’s efforts started a whole new Christmas tradition. Here are some of the best and strangest efforts.

Sir Terry Wogan – The Floral Dance (2016)

Biffy Clyro – Many of Horror (2010)

Jason Paige – Pokémon Theme (2011)

Iron Maiden – Number of the Beast (2014)

The Wealdstone Raider – Got No Fans (2014)

Altern 8 – Activ 8 (Come With Me) (2013)

And so on. Well, this year has surpassed all previous glory (though Rage Against the Machine being number one was delightful) because, as an indie kid of the 90s, one of my heroes – Jarvis Cocker of Pulp – has been chosen to represent the feelings of half of the country with this masterpiece: “Running the World”. Or, more accurately, “C*nts Are Still Running the World”.

Sadly, time has now run out as of midnight last night for being able to affect the Christmas number one sales totals. But this is undoubtedly a great song. Here are three lovely versions:

With lyrics on screen:

I saw Jarvis Cocker and Pulp a bunch of times in the 90s – good times. He has always had that working-class angle, he’s a great performer and is interesting to watch in interview (either giving them or being interviewed).

This will undoubtedly fail to get to number one, but good on some of the British public for being typically subverse.


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