A grass-roots Facebook campaign has spoiled American Idol mogul Simon Cowell's Christmas by denying one of his new acts the prestigious "Christmas No. 1" spot in Britain.
Thanks to a Facebook campaign that capitalized on growing unhappiness with Cowell's cookie-cutter approach to pop stardom, the antiestablishment Rage Against the Machine came out ahead of Joe McElderry, winner of Cowell's popular "X Factor" TV competition.
The upset for the heavily favored McElderry represents a setback for Cowell, who has made millions on both sides of the Atlantic for his roles in "American Idol," "X Factor," "Britain's Got Talent" and other productions.
Rage Against the Machine finished first with a surge of support for their 1992 hit Killing in the Name, which became the first Christmas No. 1 in Britain supported only by downloads.
McElderry, a talented, baby-faced singer who is just 18, was gracious in defeat. He emphasized his satisfaction at winning last week's X Factor finals, which shot him from obscurity to national prominence.
"Fair play to the guys who have organized the Facebook campaign — it's been exciting to be part of a much-hyped battle and they definitely deserve congratulations," he said.
McElderry said he was "delighted" to have his debut single — The Climb — in the charts. The CD is prominently displayed in hundreds of British shops.
"It's been such an incredible couple of months, and I got the best Christmas gift I could ever have asked for in winning The X Factor," he said.
Killing In The Name surged in the last days of the competition to sell more than 500,000 copies in the past week, compared with sales of 450,000 for McElderry's single. It also set a record for most downloads in a single week.
The Facebook campaign was organized by an English couple Jon and Tracy Morter in a concerted effort to break Cowell's recent stranglehold on the holiday No. 1 song, a traditional source of status and bragging rights inside Britain.
They attracted nearly 1 million followers on Facebook on behalf of Rage Against the Machine.
Rage Against the Machine singer Zack de la Rocha said the band was "very ecstatic and excited" about topping the Christmas charts. He told BBC radio the band's success was due to the support of young people throughout Britain rebelling against the ready-made pop star approach.
"It says more about the spontaneous action taken by young people throughout the UK to topple this very sterile pop monopoly and less about the song and the band," he said. "We are very proud to have had the song chosen as the vehicle by which to do this."
The list of past Christmas No. 1 winners includes the Spice Girls, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and perennial British favorite Cliff Richard, who triumphed with The Shadows in 1960 and again as a solo act in 1988.
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