(NSFW video - lyrics are explicit and therefore nsfw or radio playable!)
"Killing in the Name" is a song by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, featured on their self-titled debut album, and was released as the lead single from the album in November 1992. In 1993, the song peaked at number 25 in the United Kingdom. Written about revolution against institutional racism and police brutality, "Killing in the Name" is widely recognized as the band's signature song, and has been noted for its distinctive guitar riffs and heavy use of strong language.
In 2009 the song was the focus of a successful Facebook campaign to prevent The X Factor winner's song from gaining the Christmas number one in the United Kingdom for the fifth successive year. The campaign provoked commentary from both groups and other musicians, and gained coverage in both national and international press. The song became the first single to reach the Christmas number one spot on downloads alone. The campaign also spread to Ireland, and although less successful, it helped Killing In The Name become the Christmas number two in the Irish Charts. The campaign made Killing In The Name the group's highest charting single in either the UK or Ireland.
"Killing in the Name" has been described as "a howling, expletive-driven tirade against the ills of American society. The song repeats six lines of lyrics that associate police brutality with racism, and then switches to the refrain, "Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses," an allusion to cross-burning by the Ku Klux Klan. The song's lyrics reference the allegation that some members of US police forces are members of the Ku Klux Klan organization, whose symbol is the burning cross. The BBC News website refers to it as railing against "the military–industrial complex, justifying killing for the benefit of, as the song puts it, the chosen whites." The song reflects the racial tensions that exist in United States; it was released six months after the Los Angeles Riots, an event triggered by the acquittal of four white police officers who beat black motorist Rodney King.
"Killing in the Name" was originally written and recorded shortly after Rage Against the Machine formed as part of a 12 song self-released cassette. The band's first video for "Killing in the Name" did not receive heavy airplay in the United States due to the explicit lyrics. The song received substantial airplay in Europe and drove the band's popularity outside its home country.
The song earned its notoriety in the United Kingdom on February 21, 1993, when BBC Radio 1 DJ Bruno Brookes accidentally played the full uncensored version of the song on his Top 40 countdown, leading to 138 complaints. It should be noted that Brookes was recording an advertisement for next week's Top 40 Countdown while the song played. This moment of infamy has since been consistently referenced by numerous British rock media.
The song drew controversy again in Britain on November 2008, when it was played over the speakers in an Asda supermarket in Preston, Lancashire, prompting numerous complaints from customers.
In 2012 Tom Morello criticized the UK Independence Party (UKIP) for using the song "Killing in the Name"; Morello stated: "Hey UKIP & Nigel Farage: Stop using 'KILLING IN THE NAME' for your racist/rightwing rallies. We are against everything you stand for. STOP. IT."
In early December 2009, English DJ Jon Morter and his wife Tracy launched a group on the social networking site Facebook encouraging people to buy the song in the week running up to Christmas in order to prevent the winner of the X Factor television show from achieving the Christmas number one slot in the United Kingdom for the fifth year running. On December 15, the BBC reported the group had over 750,000 members.
As the X Factor song was donating some of the profits to charity, the Rage against X Factor campaign encouraged supporters also to give to charity. Alongside the group, a JustGiving page was created to raise money for homeless charity Shelter which, as of 20 December, was reported to have raised over £70,000 (approximately $110,000).
After the creator of The X Factor, Simon Cowell, publicly denounced the campaign as "stupid" and "cynical", the group gained more attention and went on to be mentioned on various UK news channels, radio stations and websites. Rage Against the Machine added their support to the campaign. Guitarist Tom Morello said that achieving the Christmas number one would be "a wonderful dose of anarchy" and that he planned to donate the unexpected windfall to charity. Critics noted that both The X Factor and Rage Against the Machine are signed to labels that are part of Sony BMG. Tom Morello dismissed conspiracy claims as ridiculous. After its occurrence, Kasabian's Tom Meighan and Sergio Pizzorno expressed their happiness at the campaign's success in an NME interview, where they also heavily criticised The X Factor.
The band created controversy when they performed an uncensored rendition of the song on BBC Radio 5Live despite the hosts asking them to censor the expletive end. During the crescendo of their performance, frontman Zack De La Rocha started out only singing "I won't do what you tell me," with a pause where he normally sings "Fuck You", but after a few lines, he screamed the lyrics, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" repeatedly. Hosts Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogarty apologized afterward.
On December 20, 2009, BBC Radio 1 revealed the song had successfully reached the number one spot, selling over 500,000 copies and being the first exclusively download-only single to be Christmas number one in the process. The following week Joe McElderry's cover of the song "The Climb" became the last British number 1 single of 2009. Killing In The Name dropped to number two, falling 38 places to number 40 the week after, and dropping out of the top 75 the following week, falling to number 100.
The campaign to get the song to Christmas number one had also spread to Ireland, where like in the UK, the Christmas number one had been dominated by X Factor finalists for the previous five years. The campaign was less successful in Ireland and McElderry beat Rage Against the Machine to Christmas number 1, with Rage Against The Machine taking the number 2 spot.
On June 6, 2010, Rage Against The Machine performed at a free 'thank you' gig for 40,000 fans in Finsbury Park. On stage Tracy and Jon Morter were handed a representative cheque in the amount of £162,713.03, representing the proceeds from donations to JustGiving and royalties from sales of the single.
As a result of the campaign, the song is featured in the 2011 UK edition of the Guinness World Records under the category of 'Fastest-selling digital track (UK)', after recording 502,672 downloads in its first week.
(lyrics are explicit and nsfw or radio playable!)