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Marilyn Manson Challenges UK Pop Idol Gareth

The British pop charts are warming up for a struggle between good and evil as American Satanic rocker Marilyn Manson releases an album on the same day as stammering, squeaky-clean ‘Pop Idol’ runner-up Gareth Gates.

Drawing up the battlelines on Wednesday, Manson said his years of drug and alcohol abuse were just as much of a handicap as Gates’ stammer, and he deserved a Number One hit.

Manson, who bases his act around devil worship, releases “Tainted Love” on Monday, the same day as former choir-boy Gates cover version of “Unchained Melody.”

But in an interview with music magazine NME, Manson revealed he is worried about going head-to-head with Gates and called on record buyers to show him an equal amount of sympathy.

“You think he’s going to win by default because he’s handicapped and people feel sorry for him?” he said. “Well I can assure you that I’m mentally handicapped in some ways from years of drugs and alcohol, so I deserve my fair shot.”

But Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for record store HMV, is confident Gates will still outsell Manson.

“I can’t see him beating Gareth,” he said. “Although Manson’s song is a good record, Gates is likely to sell hundreds of thousands and take the number one spot. However, Manson does have a large following and I could see him getting to number two or three.”

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