Silent Christmas: Cage Against the Machine

John Cage, composer of 4'33"
John Cage, composer of 4'33"

It’s a fairly safe bet that the discerning readers of this blog won’t be buying Matt Cardle’s single this Christmas.* But what should we be slipping into the fleecy stockings of our loved ones instead?
Well, in a moment of rare cross-medium helpfulness, Silent London advises you to forgo Surfin’ Bird, When We Collide and anything that has ever been recorded by Cliff Richard, in favour of 4′ 33″ by Cage Against the Machine. Not just because it’s the most genuinely subversive record to have a chance of entering the UK charts in ages, but because of the video. Yes, there’s a video, and it’s a thing of beauty.

After a bit of getting-to-know-you chit-chat, the clip settles down for the ‘song’ proper and becomes a perfect, deadpan spoof of all those celebs-in-the-studio videos for charity singles we have seen before. Don’t believe me? Watch for yourself, but please, allow me break it down for you, too:

  • 2 minutes, 34 seconds Oh yes, the nodding heads begin. These guys are really feeling it, man.
  • 3 minutes, 41 seconds Argh! A stray cough threatens to upset the whole enterprise. Who let James Naughtie in?
  • 3 minutes, 54 seconds A serious muso tunes his guitar, seriously.
  • 4 minutes, 31 seconds Meta moment! One of the musicians is filming the cameraman – very Vertov, we’re sure you’ll agree.
  • 4 minutes, 48 seconds As the song reaches its rousing climax, the swaying begins. Arms around each other, the musicians are creating a real party atmosphere in that studio.
  • 4 minutes, 54 seconds Nice. A cheeky monkey adds a little ‘air clarinet’ to the session.
  • 5 minutes, 23 seconds A guy at the back scratches an imaginary 12in, arm aloft. I can’t wait for the club remix.
  • 6 minutes It must be a solo! A moment of intense, brow-furrowed headphone-clutching channels Bono at his best.

So visit and sign up to buy the only single that deserves to be Christmas No 1 this year. After all, Christmas is a time for reflection, and the charities supported by this single give us all something to contemplate in a moment’s peace and quiet.

*Because Rebecca Ferguson should have won The X Factor, obviously.

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