Making History (and Other Rock n Roll Myths)

Well, they nearly did it…

Inspired by last year’s campaign to stop Joe McElderry getting the Christmas Number 1, a Facebook group has hyped Delirious?‘s song ‘History Maker’ into the charts, making it Number 4 this Easter weekend (although surely that makes Rage Against the Machine the real ‘history makers’ here, since they were the first to do this?).

I’ve had mixed feelings about the campaign myself. Not about Delirious?, I hasten to add. I love those guys. I’ve interviewed Martin Smith and Stu G more than once over the 15 or so years that Delirious? was a going concern, and they’ve always been top blokes.

When it comes to their fans, however… well, that’s a different story altogether.

Delirious? fans (some of them, at any rate) have always seen themselves as victims of one of the world’s greatest injustices. Being fans of a band that can sell out the Brixton Academy and outsell Robbie Williams in America yet not get airplay on Radio 1 will do that to you, I guess. It led to a militant tendency developing within the band’s fan base; one that took it upon itself to get the D-Boys’ music played on The Nation’s Favourite by any means necessary – regardless of how badly thought out their strategies were.

Each time Delirious? released a single, anyone who’d been stupid enough to let these guys get hold of their email address would receive an email bemoaning the fact that the new song had been overlooked by Radio 1 yet again. You would then be supplied with the email addresses of every single Radio 1 DJ, and ordered (oops, I mean urged) to write to them demanding that they play the single. And I do mean every Radio 1 DJ. Never mind the fact that Chris Goldfinger, Tim Westwood and Danny Rampling couldn’t play the track even if they wanted to (what with them being the station’s specialist reggae, hip hop and dance DJs respectively), you had your orders and had to carry them out. Try to point out to whoever was behind the campaign that they hadn’t thought it through properly and you would normally get some rude, bolshie response. And why not? After all, they were trying to do “the Lord’s work” and you weren’t cooperating.

I had flashbacks to those dark days every time I logged on to Facebook these past few weeks. There were days when my news feed would be full of nothing but reminders to become a fan of “Christian music topping the charts!” and to download not one but two versions of ‘History Maker’. Clearly, these people have never heard the word ‘overkill’.

But the thing that bothered me the most was the pseudo-spiritualising of what was basically an exercise in hyping a single into the pop charts. You weren’t hyping a single, you were “making a statement for Christ”, “taking over the airwaves for God” or some other bogus God-speak. Even the simple claim of “getting Christian music into the charts” was redundant; after all, in the same week’s chart we had songs by Owl City, Paramore and Mumford & Sons. No particular shortage of Christians in the charts there, as far as I can see…

Funnily enough, I don’t even think the band themselves were that fussed about being heard on Radio 1. Martin certainly wasn’t when I interviewed him around the time their Mission Bell album was released (“We’re a bit long in the tooth for all that now,” he said to me).

Anyway, it’s all done now. Delirious? have their hit and their fans have their wish. It’s a pity TOTP isn’t on anymore, because seeing them on that would’ve been fun. To the former D-Boys: congrats on finally breaking into the Top Five and getting that long overdue play on R1. And to the people behind the campaign: congrats too – but next time you do something like this, could you please be less annoying with it? “Pester power” is so called for a reason, you know…

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3 thoughts on “Making History (and Other Rock n Roll Myths)

  1. There must’ve been a time when the D?-guys were a little miffed about not getting play on your country’s national pop station if they named one album for an anagram for “Radio One Loves Us,” yes?
    They had their share of success regardless, obviously (I wouldn’t mind Robbie William selling in @ least D?-sized numbers in my country, too, though) , and yay for them on getting that chart hit.
    Thanks for letting me know Mumford & Sons are Chrisian, too. I’ve liked what little I’ve heard from them on YouTube through links on-ironically enough-Radio 1’s Chart Blog.

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