Rap metal act Rage Against The Machine snatched the Christmas number one from X Factor winner Joe McElderry today.
The band topped the chart with their 1992 hit Killing In The Name after an internet campaign to keep another of Simon Cowell’s acts off the festive top spot.
McElderry, 18, took his defeat graciously, saying: “Fair play to the guys who have organised the Facebook campaign – it’s been exciting to be part of a much-hyped battle and they definitely deserve congratulations.”
Thanking all the fans who bought his single, he went on: “This time last year I never thought for one minute that I’d win The X Factor, never mind about having a debut single out, so I’m just delighted to be in the charts.
“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.”
Killing In The Name sold more than 500,000 copies in the past week while McElderry’s The Climb chalked up sales of 450,000 – a bonanza for record company Sony and retailers.
It was not available on CD and is the first download-only Christmas number one, as well as achieving the biggest download sales total in a first week ever in the UK charts.
On Friday Rage Against The Machine’s lead was just 9,000 copies, but sales then soared by 200,000 to secure victory.
Official Charts Company managing director Martin Talbot said: “Congratulations to Rage Against The Machine on their number one – as we have seen in recent years, overhauling any X Factor winner in the race for the Christmas number one is no mean achievement. The popular support we have seen for the record this week has been truly amazing – and handed them two all-time records.
“But congratulations too should also go to Joe McElderry. In taking the number two spot, he has still achieved one of the highest weekly sales of any single this year – in almost any other year, 450,000 copies would have given him the Christmas number one.
“Through this week, these two tracks have accounted for more than 950,000 single sales, a fact which is truly remarkable.”
Gennaro Castaldo, from high street retailer HMV, said the bad weather could have prevented McElderry fans getting to the shops to buy his CD.
He went on: “This is a truly remarkable outcome – possibly the greatest chart upset ever. Everyone thought the momentum was with Joe going into the weekend, but, clearly, off the radar a whole load of people were downloading the Rage track right up to the last minute as they sensed they might pull off a shock.
“It’s not so much that Joe lost the race – sales of his single have matched those of recent X Factor winners, and he shouldn’t take this personally; this is all about the stunning impact of the Rage Against The Machine internet campaign in galvanising music fans to protest against the dominance of the reality show in recent years.”
The expletive-laden song is a “powerful protest”, he said, and added: “Rage Against The Machine may not be the ideal expression of the Christmas spirit - and many people will have preferred a more appropriate song to top the festive charts, but their anti-corporate message proved a perfect vehicle through which to register such a powerful protest.”
The past four Christmas number ones were by X Factor winners; Alexandra Burke’s version of Hallelujah last year was one of the biggest selling festive singles ever.
However, Cowell kept a hold on the album chart as Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed A Dream remained at the top spot for a fourth week.