Last year, in an effort to rebel against the British singing competition "The X Factor" and its run of Number One pop hits, hundreds of thousands of U.K. music fans successfully banded together in a grassroots campaign to make Rage Against the Machine's explicit 1992 song "Killing in the Name" the nation's Christmas Number One single. Rage themselves lent their efforts to the campaign by promising to play a free show if they won, which they did, much to the displeasure of "X Factor" judge Simon Cowell. Now, faced with another "X" contender for the Christmas Number One, British rockers this time have united to get an even unlikelier song to the top spot: John Cage's 4' 33".
If you're unfamiliar with the historical and musical impact of 4' 33", it's definitely worth checking out the Wikipedia page about the controversial composition, but it essentially boils down to this: An artist "performing" 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, with only the white-noise ambiance of the venue providing the "music." Everyone from Frank Zappa to Sonic Youth have "covered" the piece in some capacity, and for the "Cage Against the Machine" campaign (get it?), Brit-famous acts like the Kooks, UNKLE, the Big Pink, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, and many more will meet in a London recording studio and... sit around in silence for four minutes and 33 seconds while producers capture the corresponding sounds. The Cage Against the Machine single will be released on December 13th, just in time for the Christmas Single race, and will (no joke) even boast remixes by Hot Chip and others.
Oddly enough, this is the second U.K. single to feature nothing but silence in the past two months. In November, Thom Yorke headlined a pack of musicians and actors to contribute the muted sounds of nothingness to "Two Minute's Silence," a charity single to raise money for the Royal British Legion. Considering the Brits previously made a Number One hit out of Crazy Frog's "Axel F," chart-topping silence would be a vast improvement.
- Simon Cowell