Replacing One Machine with Another

Many readers will know about the recent campaign to have John Cage’s four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence elevated to the top of the charts for Christmas, as a rebuke to the power of X Factor and following on from Rage Against the Machine’s number one last year. In the end the campaign was a fairly emphatic failure, but it did raise some interesting issues. It is surely a noble endeavour to protest against the X Factor, a miserable excuse for entertainment and an enemy of both good music and good television. And while the programme’s success was hardly diminished by last year’s festive setback, the idea of such an enterprise is useful as an elegant reminder that the X Factor leviathan it is not in fact omnipotent.