LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - U.S. rap-metal band Rage Against The Machine took the coveted Christmas number one in British pop charts on Sunday after an Internet campaign to keep the winner of the “X Factor” TV talent show from the top spot.
The band’s 1992 single “Killing in the Name” sold more than 500,000 download copies in the past week, enough to beat Joe McElderry’s “The Climb”, which managed sales of 450,000 by downloads and in the shops, the Official Charts Company (OCC) said.
The surprise outcome brought an end to a four-year run of X Factor winners claiming top position in the seasonal charts, and showed the power of the Internet in the process.
It was the first time a download-only single had achieved a Christmas number one, and in the process notched up the biggest one-week download sales in British chart history.
“As we have seen in recent years, overhauling any X Factor winner in the race for the Christmas number one is no mean achievement,” OCC managing director Martin Talbot said.
“The popular support we have seen for the record this week has been truly amazing -- and handed them two all-time records.”
Previous X Factor winners have easily secured the Christmas top spot, and music experts had said there was little chance anyone could produce a serious rival.
Bookmakers had believed that the popularity of the show, with some 20 million viewers tuning in to see McElderry win last week, would mean his debut single, a cover of a song by American Miley Cyrus, would come out on top.
But a popular campaign on the Facebook website encouraged people who were fed up of X Factor taking the Christmas number one, to buy RATM’s expletive-filled single as a protest. It amassed almost 950,000 supporters.
“We were of the opinion that the X Factor was unbeatable but it looks like we will be proved wrong,” said Rupert Adam, spokesman for bookmaker William Hill, said before the chart was announced.
“The industry will certainly be paying out a six figure sum, perhaps seven.”
Simon Cowell, 50, the executive producer of “X Factor” and also the creator of popular U.S. show “American Idol”, had hit out at the online campaign, saying that it was aimed at him and it was “stupid”.
But there was some consolation for him, as Scottish singer Susan Boyle, who herself became an Internet sensation when she appeared on Cowell’s “Britain’s Got Talent” TV show, took top spot in the album charts with “I Dreamed A Dream”.