Rage Against The Machine still leading race for Christmas number one

Rage Against The Machine have retained their lead in the race to the Christmas number one ahead of 'X Factor' star Joe McElderry in the biggest seasonal chart battle for a decade, new figures showed today.

Despite predictions that the talent show winner would storm ahead when his CD went on sale yesterday, rap-metal act Rage Against The Machine are still in front.

However, McElderry has narrowed the gap, with the difference between them now at around 40,000 copies.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello has revealed in an interview with BBC 6 Music that he is donating his profits from the 'Killing in the Name' re-release to charity, to help young musicians.

Retailers and record company Sony will be rubbing their hands at the chart battle as the two tracks between them have now sold around 470,000 copies so far this week, according to Official Charts Company data.

If sales continue, they could sell upwards of 500,000 copies each by the weekend.

The last big Christmas battle anywhere near this scale was the Spice Girls' 'Goodbye' and 'South Park' character Chef's 'Chocolate Salty Balls' in 1998. The Spice Girls won with 380,000 to the rival's 375,000.

Fans of McElderry were out in force yesterday as his CD single 'The Climb' finally hit shops. It had previously been available only as a download.

The X Factor winner sold more than 100,000 copies of the single yesterday.

RATM's track 'Killing In The Name' has been championed by an internet campaign as an 'X Factor' protest vote because of its anti-establishment sentiment.

Final chart positions will be announced on Sunday.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "Whilst Joe remains behind in sales to date, the gap is clearly narrowing now that his CD single is out in the shops, and you'd have to say that the momentum lies with him - we think he will still do it, but it will be close.

"However, no one could have predicted the Rage campaign against the 'X Factor' would galvanise so much support, and it could easily keep growing now that its followers realise just how close they could be to causing one of the biggest upsets in UK charts history."

Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said: "The massive surge of interest in both of these records has set this up to be one of the biggest Christmas chart tussles many of us can remember.

"By the end of the week, we could be talking about more than one million sales across two singles in just a week, which is truly remarkable - and a tribute to the UK public's love of the great British Christmas number one.

Bookmaker William Hill reopened its betting today after suspending Christmas number one bets yesterday.

The latest prices are McElderry at 2/5 with RATM at 7/4.

Spokesman Rupert Adams said: "The momentum has switched away from Rage and the odds suggest that Joe will be the sixth 'X Factor' winner in a row to have the Christmas number one."

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