The X Factor has taken the top of the Christmas charts ever year since it kicked off seven (that's right SEVEN) years ago. Last year's much ballyhooed Rage Against The Machine Vs Joe McElderry battle meant the UK broke the cycle but here in Ireland we've kept it X Factor friendly every year. I'm not getting into the ridiculous nature of that chart battle or this year's attempts at an "alternative number one" in the UK (I'd be here all day!) but this year Ireland has had a more interesting chart battle on it's hands.
Limerick based comedy duo the Rubberbandits have built up a steady profile over the last few years and saw that truly start to take off in 2010 with their regular appearances on RTE's Republic of Telly and plenty of live shows, including playing at the Electric Picnic. It was Horse Outside though, that has sent them nuclear.
A truly hilarious pop tune with an even funnier video it's not hard to see why the video has now amassed more than 3 million hits. The campaign to get them to number one does have the usual smug "like, the X Factor is so manufactured" nonsense behind but it also shows people who genuinely like a song, buying it and hoping it does well.
Sadly, Chart Track released the official info for the sales in Ireland today and Matt Cardle, this year's X Factor winner, has still managed to snag the top spot.
In reality it's not surprising. The X Factor was getting close to 700,000 viewers per week over here. If you sell a couple of thousand singles in the Irish chart you can do very well. So even if a tiny chunk of the show's audience buy the winner's tune, it will of course go on to do big things.
All that aside, Matt's figures are truly staggering. According to Chart Track, Cardle came within 500 sales of beating the figures of Elton John's Candle In The Wind in 1997. Unbelievable. The CD single was what did it for Matt in end it seems, as noted by Chart Track:
"the sales of ‘Where We Collide’ were split 91% CD and 9% download, handing Matt Cardle the accolade of best-selling CD single in Ireland over a week ever"
In their defense the Rubberbandits put up a decent fight, beating their own download record and setting a new record for digital sales in a week. Though as Chart Track notes their total sales were only half of Cardle's final haul. Given that Matt would have done close to 55,000 this week (unbelievable figures for Ireland) we could probably guess that the Rubberbandits did about 20,000 (this is my estimate and I could be totally wrong) which at any other time of year would be enough to put them on top by a huge margin.
There is an argument here that Limerick's finest should have taken the top spot, with that many hits on YouTube indicating there was a huge interest in the track. However a quick glance at the video's YouTube stats show a huge amount of views in the US, UK and Australia an audience that can't buy the song and affect the chart position here. Also, numerous viewings of the video could be down to repeat watches, shrinking the number of potential buyers again. Also people watching a video online does not always follow through to them buying it. The Rubberbandits appeal to an older audience who are less likely to download a single or buy one physically. The physical single of Horse Outside was always going to struggle against the X Factor. There was no way a relatively small Irish band would be able to print, distribute and sell the same amount of singles as one of the biggest record companies in the world.
Ultimately, the Rubberbandits have increased their audience a huge amount, knocked out one of the funniest pop tunes of the year and become a national talking point. Matt Cardle's chances at sustaining a decent pop career are probably not good. Despite the largest audience for the show ever this year Cardle still failed to match highs set by the likes of Alexandra and Leona with their singles in the first week. Joe McElderry has struggled to maintain an audience despite a surprisingly decent debut album while runner up Olly Murs has managed two hit singles.
Whatever happens, we'll always have the Horse Outside video and more importantly, that amazing Liveline appearance to look back on whenever we look back on 2010.
Beat that Cardle!