Tuesday, 22 December 2009

McElderry and the Machine

I’ve been engaged in a series of heated debates following my coming out in print as a fan of The X Factor (see Plattitudes, Dec 2009). Some people now approach me with the sort of ‘sorry but you’re soiled’ look that they’d normally reserve for Trots-turned-Tory or people who pull the whiskers off pussy cats. It’s no use telling them that when it came to the choice between Rage Against the Machine or X-Factor winner Joe McElderry for the Xmas Number One, my political colours were nailed firmly to the mast.

What surprised me more was the friend who turned on me with the sort of venom I’d last witnessed when her boyfriend slept with her sister. When I punched the air in delight at the Ragers’ improbable triumph over Simon Cowell’s pop machine, she rounded on me: ‘I thought you liked The X-Factor?’ How could I possibly take pleasure in ‘a bunch of privileged hippie college kids posing as anti-capitalists’?* Didn’t I care that they were spoiling it for working-class Geordie sweetiepie McElderry by denying him the same Xmas Number One status as the previous four X-Factor winners?

That was before I was mugged by the Alexandra Burke fan club. The 2008 X-Factor winner, she lives a short walk from me and half the neighbourhood takes it as a personal affront if you don’t think she’s the best singer since at least Leona Lewis. I made the mistake of saying to one member of the Burke posse that actually I prefer her mum’s music (she used to sing with Soul II Soul). This year I plan to be out of the country when The X-Factor comes around.

*According to the Privileged Hippie College Kids Monitoring Service, Rage Against the Machine score 68% (grade B-plus, borderline A-minus) on the PHCK index. Vocalist and lyricist Zack de la Rocha (who gets an extra mark for that so-Sixties’ hippie forename) is the son of a political muralist father, who was brought up by his anthropologist (Ph D, University of California) mother. Guitarist Tom Morello was brought up by his teacher mother; his (absent) father was the brother of Jomo Kenyatta and Kenya’s first ambassador to the UN. Bassist Tim Commerford’s father was an aerospace engineer and his mother a mathematician. Drummer Brad Wilk has said that witnessing how material wealth corrupted his father made him value the simple things in life.

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