The fiercest battle for the UK #1 since 2003's mammoth tussle between The Darkness and Michael Andrews/Gary Jules, which the latter won, rumbles on and X Factor winner Joe McElderry's The Climb is in prime position to be the 5th X Factor winner Christmas #1 in a row with his single The Climb catching up with Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name by over 25,000 copies yesterday bringing the gap down to around 9,000 copies now according to media reports. The ballad has been helped by the fact that the physical CD, released on Wednesday has been selling bucketloads, presumably for stocking fillers. If it was a straight download fight, Rage would have won with ease but this is an interesting week not only because of the epic battle for #1 between the two most different songs you could think of but also because of the technology battle going on here. It's new media versus old media; downloads vs. CD singles and TV promotion versus Facebook!!!
Obviously downloads are taking over and if this battle had taken place in say, 3 or 4 years time, there is no doubt that Rage would have trampled all over Joe. But CD's are still a powerful medium. Even though barely anybody buys CD singles anymore, 'event singles' seem to be a different beast; Charity singles, Reality TV singles or even a combination of the two (see X Factor Finalists - You Are Not Alone) still sell in massive quantities as fans of the show seem to want the single as a keepsake or a momentum to remember it by. But whoever wins or loses this battle, Joe will have sold 400k+ singles to an audience of 20 million (1 in 50 conversion rate) whereas Rage will have sold 400k+ singles to a Facebook group of 800,000 (1 in 2 conversion rate), so it's quite clear what the most impressive achievement is here, particularly seeing as Killing in the Name has already smashed the weekly record for total downloads sold in a week with the figure still rapidly rising.
We all lauded Gnarls Barkley's Crazy for going to #1 on downloads alone by shifting 30k but Rage, even if they stall at #2, will have sold over 10 times that amount purely on downloads - and only 30 months have passed since Crazy hit #1. So even if Joe's CD sales pull him through, it's quite clear that downloads are the clear victor here. If the pattern continues then in two or three years these 'event singles' will be selling in far less quantities - remember Shayne Ward's That's My Goal single 4 years ago - over 700k in one week, the majority of which were CD's compared to perhaps 300k CD's for Joe - and as downloads continue to take over CD's, perhaps the X Factor winner's won't be such a dominant force in 2012/2013.
Joe fans will be out in force tomorrow with most schools closing for Christmas today and the only way that Rage fans can ensure their idols the final Christmas #1 slot of the noughties, one which they have occupied throughout every midweek update, is if every member in the Facebook group does what they have committed to do and purchases Killing In The Name, because whilst the Joe juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down, it would be foolish to not expect the Rage fans to give it one final push over the next two days. Whoever wins this battle, it's been the greatest tussle for Christmas #1 that I can remember in years but who will be on the front page of the newspapers on Monday? Joe McElderry or Zac de la Rocha? Whichever fan base proves to be more powerful over the next two days!!! Buy your favourite now and contribute to this historic tussle for victory!!! Who do I want to win? Well I've only bought one of them - the one that doesn't sound like Westlife taking a nap.