back to article This year's comedy Xmas No. 1 contender: Silent song 4'33"

A motley crew of musicians backed by a Facebook campaign are plotting to hijack the poor beleaguered Christmas number one with a four-minute recording of silence. Following last year's triumphant, internet-bolstered, telly-talent-compo-orthodoxy-upending ascendance of the gleefully inappropriate and profanity-sprinkled Killing …


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  1. Jan 0 Silver badge


    Who are you saying has never heard of "Enter Shikari"?

    Do you think we live under stones or something?

    1. Thecowking
      Thumb Up

      Stone dweller reporting for Duty

      Someone in the office had to take me aside and explain who "Usher" was the other day.

      Oh and apparently I need to listen to "Dizzy Rascal", I've plateaued gently into middle age before 30. I'm quite proud of that for some reason.

      1. Annihilator


        "Usher" is the bottom-dweller who "discovered" Justin Bieber. If you don't know who that is, I suggest you keep it that way as long as you can.

        1. Just Thinking


          "I've plateaued gently into middle age before 30"

          That probably means you are actually younger than some of the artists you haven't heard of.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Enter Shikari


      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Enter Shikari


    3. Greg J Preece

      Saw them last week

      Girlfriend took me to a 30 Seconds concert - they weren't that good, but Enter Shikari were a support act and they kicked ass.

    4. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Offended

      I figured most Reg readers wouldn't, and would be vocal about it. I bet someone will before this thread is out. But well done you for having heard of them.

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Offended

        Oh, they already have. Buahah!

    5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Is this the lady from Colombia

      whose hips don't lie?

      Waka waka?

      Come on, they knew they were going to get that all the time when they started.

      1. TheRealRoland

        Everybody knows...

        it should be Waka / Jawaka by Frank Zappa.

        Do i look old in these pants?

        1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

          Damn! Good!...


          They will never catch up to you, Frank.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should be a reasonably small download

    though do watch out for illicit bootlegs: not all silences are the same! Anyway, I'm all for it: fuck Cowell.

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      Expect It To Be...

      ...somewhat large, since background noise is random, and thus not compressable.

  3. Tom 7

    Please have this song on endless loop in all shops and lifts


    1. Ancient Oracle funkie

      satisfying the needs of the title-facists!

      Also in restaurants

  4. caffeine addict
    Thumb Up

    I'll buy it...

    ...if only to see how the radio stations handle trying to play it. How long til the Emergency DATs kick in?

    Kicking Simon Cowell in the balls is just a bonus.

    1. Baskitcaise
      Thumb Up

      Kicking Simon Cowell in the balls is just a bonus

      I did not know that was included, I will gladly pay double for that and stand in line.

      1. Paul RND*1000
        Thumb Up

        Do we?

        Do we get to kick Cowell in the 'nads once for every time the single sells? Sign me up for all I can carry, and a sturdy pair of steel-toecapped Doc Martens please!

      2. Ian Yates

        Very few comments get me like that


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright on this composition......

    Didn't Mike Batt get into trouble for something like this track on an album he did a couple of years ago?

    How would they alter it significantly enough to make it an original work?

    1. frank ly


      They could make it 4'30", etc. The artistically critical aspect is the length of the silence. Some people have experimented with adding small amounts of varying level white noise but this is generally regarded as ruining the purity of the work.

      1. gerryg

        you can't do 4' 30" because...

        ...that would only be 270 not 273 seconds.

        I'll leave you to make the connection, otherwise think Kelvin but not Mackenzie

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I imagine they'll pay the licensing fee to release a new recording

      much as Cowell's charges have to when they release a cover version

  6. Cunningly Linguistic

    Redundant title

    So presumably Cage will be receiving royalties for this cover version?

    1. Nipsirc

      He (or rather his estate) will indeed...

      ...they have it all covered. The project has the blessing of the estate. I'm guessing there are a bunch of techies in radio stations across the country working out how to override the emergency DATs as we speak.

      1. Ian Yates
        Gates Horns

        Radio Gah Gah

        It would be awesome if every station could agree to play the song at the exact same time on just one day.

        Imagine people's confusion

        (Bill not relevant)

    2. Tigra 07

      RE: Cunningly Linguistic

      How do you prove any silence is their copyrighted version?

      Everyone will get sued for not paying royalties, even if they don't have music playing!

      1. Was Steve

        Silences are not the same

        My missus is a musician, and is into this kind of thing. On being told about 4:33 originally I asked the question. The point of 4:33 is the context of the performance, and each time it's performed it is utterly different. She then said the magic words: background noise.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This could cause a problem for radio stations

    They have emergency playlists that kick in after a bit of dead air. I think some may be at the transmitter site level (link down, etc).

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      Easy, the DJ will just talk all over it like they usually do.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Desert Island Discs

    Ian McMillan (the bard of Barnsley) recently selected this track for dessert Island discs.. they didn't play a very long clip, but they did conceed to playing a bit!

    Badgers obviously.

    1. Red Bren

      They only ever play clips

      Desert Island Discs (and pretty much every other Radio 4 show I've listen to) never play play full songs. I always assumed this was to save cash as you don't have to pay royalties if you only play an excerpt.

      Would this make them freetards?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Quite good it were too

      And he chose it as his "if you could only take one" disc as well.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you shhee

    said with a 40's New York gangsta slur?

    1. Greg J Preece

      I was thinking more...

      ...Sam Neil with his eyes gouged out.

      "Do you see? DO YOU SEE?"

      "Yes....I see."

      1. blackworx
        Thumb Up

        Re: I was thinking more...

        Upvote, double* upvote and triple* upvote

        * Dear pedants, I know.

  10. Natalie Gritpants

    How is this going to hurt Simon Cowell?

    The X-factor single won't sell any less, the customers are completely separate. Who knows? the X-factor single may sell even more since the fans might be annoyed at the annoyed-at-X-Factor brigade.

    Mind you it's probably going to be the best work from Billy Brag and Pete Doherty ever!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You are missing the point. Simon is a puppet.

      In the absence of incidents like last year Simon's puppet masters think of all of us as one giant apathetic amorphous blob. They still think that last year was a one off so they just need to agitate their puppet a bit more to get back to business as usual.

      If stuff like last year's X-factor happens more than once and becomes are recurring feature some of the concepts currently taught in management schools may have to be rethought. The concept of "cheap tripe with marketing always wins", the concept of "consumer will always buy something they can be made to associate with" and a few others.

      The mere fact that the "consumer" actually can think and results of marketing campaigns are no longer predictable is enough to cause a "brown pants incident" in some circles.

      1. The BigYin

        The rebel...

        ...become the establishment. Just as "Rolling Stone".

        If it works this year, a big corporate will simply hijack the idea next year and coin it in.

        The revolution will not be televised, but it sure as hell will be monetised!

    2. P. Lee

      re: How is this going to hurt Simon Cowell?

      By graphically demonstrating how small and insignificant his work (and indeed the industry) is.

      The music industry projects itself as being a big deal. Most of the stuff pumped out isn't popular. As more and more people become disillusioned with it, you see them targeting younger and younger children whose critical faculties are less well developed. They end up promoting sex to pre-teens, which is quite revolting.

    3. jonathanb Silver badge

      It will hurt Syco because ...

      Every christmas, all the previous years' Christmas number ones get played, so getting a Christmas No 1 means regular annual royalty income for ever more. Joe McEldry's cover of Hannah Montanna's Climb probably won't ever get played again on radio, because it only reached No. 2 on the Christmas charts, and No 1 on the New Year chart which doesn't count.

  11. Haku

    I've already bought lots of copies of it over the years

    under its previous name, Blank Tape.

    1. John I'm only dancing

      @ Haku

      Except blank tape is not silent. You must have forgotten the hiss and crackle it makes when played, even at moderate volume.

      1. Toastan Buttar

        On the contrary, YOU fail!

        The entire point of 4'33" is that it's impossible to stage a performance of it with real musicians present and achieve absolute silence; all the random environmental and human noises which occur within the time period /become/ that performance. The silence is not the important ingredient - it's the lack of silence!

        So the imperfections of each copy of Blank Tape make it a unique limited-edition of 1!

        1. danny_0x98


          Were the blank tapes performance plus alternate takes or the maximum dance mix?

  12. johnusmaximus

    The Bird?

    Not sure why, but I thought this years novelty contender was The Trashmen - Surfin Bird

    1. Code Monkey

      Yeah but

      I've already got Surfin' Bird. 7", big hole in the middle. I don't want 4:33 though. I'm not playing this game.

    2. Was Steve

      For the right causes deep pockets...

      And keeping Cowell executing another christmas number one sounds like one of them to me :)

  13. James Le Cuirot

    Been there, done that

    This might have stood a better chance of succeeding if it hadn't already been done this year. Admittedly this idea was conceived before the Remembrance Day track was done but still, I don't think the public are going to go for this twice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      I think this is a mistake

      I agree - I can't see many people wanting to go out and buy "nothing", even if it is for charity. They would be far better off with a natty tune and a bit of imagination.

      1. HollyX

        Go out and buy?

        Go out and buy? We have this thing called the internet now, take a look, it's really quite neat.

        I think this is enough of thumbing one's nose at Simon Cowell that it's worth 70p and one minute of my time :-)

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Radio dead air

    The possibility of it messing up the radio stations as well just makes it even better - so cool I just hope it gets the no.1 spot (it will)

  15. Mr Larrington

    Do what?

    Naff Hollywood remakes and the charts full of cover versions?

    Money back please.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Do what?

      It is for charity, you know.

  16. volsano

    Ruined by DJs

    We can trust radio DJs to ruin it by talking over the intro.

  17. ShaggyDoggy

    That's me folks !!

    (registered 10 years ago - my am I so ahead of this !!! LOL) !!11!1Aa!1!11

  18. Code Monkey

    It was (a tiny bit) funny last year

    X-Factor's soul-destroying asswater but so is buying novelty records because some wonk on Facebook told you to.

    Bollocks to the lot of em, I'll save my record buying money for something I actually like (like the Electric Wizard re-issue next year).

    1. The BigYin

      @Code Monkey

      "Bollocks to the lot of em, I'll save my record buying money for something I actually like"

      Congratulations, you are the first person here to get the point.

  19. stuhacking

    Worthwhile cause...

    ...However, Rage against the machine was better because the song was good and the band got involved and put on a charity gig.

    This lacks the same sense of meaning. I'll probably still join in for the chance to knock Cowell off the #1... not that he cares.

    1. nation of stupid


      Rage Against the Machine is also owned by SonyBMG, I'm sure they loved the fact that people trying to stop their XFactor single reaching number one were paying them for the alternative as well - a win/win for Sony and Cowell, and the anti-capitalist RATM still made a healthy profit from it.

      At least all profits from this one will go to charity, although I prefer Surfin' Bird for number one as it would be funnier for the XFactor song to be beaten by it. Be even better if both outsold the XFactor dross and it only made number 3. Either way, unfortunately the XFactor song will still make it to number one the week after.

  20. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    If the video is good

    But, yes, poor Mike Batt. He only did a minute, as well, which is different from John Cage's and we've been using a minute's silence in war memorial services since long before Cage thought of it. On the other hand, Batt referred to Cage by punning on Cage's name in the credit. And insulted him. Well, so do I insult him. 4-33" is far and away the best thing that Cage ever created. He should not have bothered with anything else.

    I would tape it off the radio too but I bet the DJ talks over it.

    1. Mr Mark V Thomas

      If The Video is Good....?

      I wonder if Koka Media ever sued Mr. Batt over his 1 Minute offering, as their musical effects disc KOK2057 titled Pastiche, Carnage, Sabotage 2, released in 1991, has the track "A Minutes Silence", lasting for 1 Minute, listed as track 18 on said disc...

      (Needless to say, I acquired a second hand copy of said disc a couple of years ago).

    2. Kamal Hashmi

      How many other works by John Cage have you heard?

      At the RNCM on Monday, one of the encores was a nocturne by John Cage - it was excellent!

      (Violin/Piano - Faust/Melnikov)

  21. dave 81

    Havn't you heard?

    About the word?

    Bird is the word!

    Better than silence.

    1. Peter 77

      The bird: most definitely *not* better than silence

      If we can get a few people to actually listen to their environment for a few minutes, that would actually be worth something.

      I don't care that about X-Factor, or charts in general... but

      CAGE FTW!

      Infinitely more valuable than some intensely annoying novelty tune.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can I get this....

    as a ringtone, for when my boss calls me at home?

  23. John I'm only dancing

    Complete Control

    By the Clash would be the perfect song to boost to is about a controlling record company telling them what to release.

    Sounds a lot like that abortion Cowell.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      EMI by the Sex Pistols

      That'd be even more fun. They could be banned from Radio 1 all over again....


  24. Anonymous Coward

    Some questions spring to mind..

    How much would RIAA try to sue for if someone was filesharing 4'33"?

    Is there an extended remix available?

    Has 4'33" ever been sampled and used in another track?

    1. Velv

      Bit In The Middle

      "Has 4'33" ever been sampled and used in another track? "

      Lots. Cockney Rebel - (Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile comes to mind, but I'm sure there are plenty others. Didn't Chris Evans once have a feature on his Sunday show about songs with a bit of silence in them

      1. William Towle


        "Didn't Chris Evans once have a feature on his Sunday show about songs with a bit of silence in them"

        Missed that, sadly, but I do remember Simon Mayo shouting "mind the gap" in the pauses various records had. And the "Simon Mayo 12in remix" versions of things

        // Hurgh!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ever sampled?

      Yep, Vanilla Ice sampled and looped about 10 seconds of it for his hit "Ice Ice Baby". They laid down the loop first, then over-dubed the bass lick from Under Pressure.

      ...mine's the gaudy red white and blue USA leather jacket with the flipped up collar.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might actually buy this

    It's actually a good cause rather than giving it to some money-grabbing mega-charity to waste on TV adverts for themselves

  26. Colin Miller

    ... you'll be singing it for weeks

    Time for The Chicken Song to be re-released.

    Luck & Flaw were so right...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RIAA threatens...

    ... to sue for copyright infringements and seek massive fines from anyone and anything remaining completely silent for any period of time.

    The Syndicate Of Deceased People has initiated an emergency meeting to brainstorm on a solution to the problem.

    Meanwhile, sales of metal spoons and pans rocket among alive and panicked population.

    The Government, bending over the industry and screwing the electorate in the process as usual, declared any minutes of silence henceforth outlawed, and immediately replaced any instance with minutes of ear-splitting screams as a temporary solution. the will be reviewed after the imminent release of the "ear-splitting screams" album which is expected to reach platinum status within a week due to overwhelming demand by dumb consumers with no tastes whatsoever.

  28. Dale 3

    Thanks guys

    Now I've got that track stuck in my head and it's driving me insane!

  29. Tim Walker

    Now it makes sense...

    I'd heard that someone was going to release an "answer" record to Mitch Benn's "I'm Proud Of The BBC", running through a list of all the reasons we can be proud of Sky TV. I suppose this must be it...

  30. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Non of this pop poop!

    Cannibal Corpse's famous "Ripping Entrails from...", should be pushed up as Xmas chart topper!

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: timing

      Er... well done?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Some questions spring to mind.

    Well, the John Cage estate *successfully* sued Mike Batt for copyright infringement when he included a track of 1 min silence on one of his albums.

    I wonder if the people behind this effort have cleared it with the estate ... or are they going to find all the money they thought would go to charity being seized as royalties.

  33. Tim

    I'm confused

    I read the story and thought it was a nice, silly idea; a bit of cheerful whimsy on a cold Friday. Then I read all the comments and all the conflicting opinions have made me scared and tired. I've been at work for an hour and done nothing except think about the Christmas no. 1 in endless, excruciating, recursive fractal detail. I feel unpleasantly stoned. Worse, I don't know what to think at all now because I've got Surfing Bird and Make Me Smile going round and round my head.

    The article was like a delicious plate of oysters infected with a comment thread of norovirus.

  34. Cunningly Linguistic

    Will it be released...

    ...on a gold CD?

    PS previous message was meant as sarcasm for those who thought I was being serious!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Orbital have past form in the silence stakes

    back in the day they entitled a mere 3'48" of quiet "Criminal Justice Bill?" in protest at the forthcoming clampdown on "repetitive beats". Although Autechre's "Flutter" is rather better.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another rival for Christmas No 1.!/group.php?gid=106114816120104&v=info

    and 'The Nick Clegg story' remix:

    Both very NSFW

  37. ShaggyDoggy


    Yes back in the late 90's I did a radio-friendly remix, called it 2 minutes 33 seconds.

    This is true by the way.

    Google 4m33s

  38. Sceptical Bastard

    @ Code Monkey,

    I don't care who it's performed by or whether it's an accurate rendition of Cage's meisterverk. All I want is for it reach number one.

    I don't want that because " some wonk on Facebook told you to." I want that because it sticks it up that bog-brush-haired smarmy scumshite Cowell and the trite synthetic garbage that fuels his rich-boy life while impoverishing the culture the rest of us live in.

    I intend to put my 79p (or whatever) where my hate-filled mouth is even though I obviously don't want a 'recording' of silence.

    Christmas? Bah. Humbug.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative #1s...

    Speaking of alternative #1s, perhaps might offer some respite from another year of Xfactor dominated music.

  40. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Beelzebub Did A Dance...

    ...mix, it's 11 minutes and 6 seconds long.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    released on vinyl?

    I'm only after the analogue version of this...dont want digital copy..especially not the MP3 version because the quantization causes serious loss on the silence

  42. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Well I think...

    ... this should be number 1 :)

  43. Damien Thorn

    The Devils song

    They sell me water, and now they want to sell me silence.

    Ill get my old decks out and remix it with some drum and bass.

  44. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    Pop-culture bitchslap for Cowell

    Come on now! Get real. Cowell could not stay silent for 1 minute never mind 4' 33"

  45. Dave 15

    silence is golden

    At least a period of quiet would be better than the dreary funeral like dirges that we are subjected to by every ill informed shop keeper in the country. Its HORRIBLE. Carols and Christmas songs that would be far more suited to 'celebrating' the death of a much loved relative than they are for the supposedly joyful events we are supposedly partying for.

    Frankly the older I get the less I appreciate having my ears bombarded by appaling Christmas music - it drives me AWAY from the shops, I hasten around and grab what I can and run away. I suspect I'm not the only one.

    I'd love Christmas music to be banned. I enjoy the celebration, but the dirge is horrible.

  46. Dave Harris
    Thumb Up

    If it's a fight for the Christmas #1...

    ...surely someone will need their Fighting Trousers!/event.php?eid=108766165863029

    The campaign to propel Professor Elemental to the top spot.

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