Monday, August 31, 2015

The VMAs happened, and we'd be better off if we try and pretend it didn't

The VMAs - the bit on the calendar when everyone remembers MTV still broadcast - happened yesterday, in a series of events in which pop music finally broke.

Miley Cyrus was on hosting duties, and couldn't decide what to wear. So in the end she wore everything:


Seven outfits. Seven outfits, and not one of them worked. The one with the giant Smarties on, clearly, was sold to her by a designer trying to keep a straight face while insisting that he had GaGa on the other line putting in a bid for it. But that was just the worst of a very, very bad bunch.

Somewhere this morning Billy Ray Cyrus is saying "when I said there's no way you're going on stage dressed like that", I wasn't being an overprotective father; I was talking on behalf of Vogue."

It's not just Miley's dresses which had most of America thinking it was time for an intervention, though. She's now got dreads.

Of course, there's no reason why Miley Cyrus can't have dreads - even ones that are so obviously fake that they look like they've recently been used to stop trawlers drifting off to sea - but it came across as a somewhat insensitive thing to do after her recent dis on Nicki:

It shows something of a deaf ear, or poor advice, to spend a chunk of the week telling a black woman she doesn't know how to campaign on behalf of under-represented black women, only to turn up with a head full of shoddy cultural appropriation. It's fair to say it didn't go down well.

And that wasn't the end of the racial insensitivity for the night:

In case you're not sure that having someone introduce the hip hop awards dressed as a cop making jokes about "injustice" is that much of a dick move, even the Daily Mail noticed.

Kanye was also there. He made reference to that time he was on before and gatecrashed Taylor Swift picking up an award:
He spoke of the aftermath of interrupting Swift lo those many years ago. He bit the hand that was feeding him by saying, "You know how many times MTV ran that footage again, 'cause it got them more ratings?"
It must have been galling that when you tried to make a gallant gesture in order to put the focus firmly on yourself, only for the awards show you're at to make hay from it, eh.

West also used the occasion to announce his plans for the next decade:
"And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for president."
Cyrus's reaction to this - which came after a break, which means not only did she have time to think of a response, but other people could have, too, was:
“Trump, you had my vote. But now? Kanye West for president!”
Even in jest, to tell Donald Trump you were going to vote for him is deadly. Perhaps there was some metajoke being made about how, if you're going to vote for some guy off a reality TV show, it doesn't matter which one you go for, but somehow, I doubt it.

In happier news, Nicki and Taylor made up their beef. But Nicki wasn't done with Miley:
Minaj thanked her pastor while taking the award for Anaconda, then turned to Cyrus, who was on a nearby stage. “And now back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press – Miley, what’s good?” said Minaj.
Miley was forced to go off script for a moment. Like a pro, she blamed the press:
Cyrus responded to the confrontation, with a brief comment about interview responses being twisted from their intended message. “We’re all in the industry, we all do interviews, and we all know how they manipulate shit,” Cyrus said, before continuing with her script for the night.
Or maybe she didn't, as obviously that was on The Guardian website and you know how the press manipulate shit.

You do wonder, though, why she didn't contact Minaj directly and explain what she really meant when the interview came out, don't you?

In case you've forgotten, there were awards being given out as well, and here's the closest thing to winners in full:
Best Rock Video: Fall Out Boy, "Uma Thurman"

Best Pop Video: Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"

Best Male Video: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, "Uptown Funk"

Best Hip-Hop Video: Nicki Minaj, "Anaconda"

Best Female Video: Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"

Best Video With a Social Message: Big Sean featuring Kanye West & John Legend, "One Man Can Change the World"

Song of the Summer: 5 Seconds of Summer, "She's Kinda Hot"

Best Collaboration: Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar, "Bad Blood"

Best Direction: Kendrick Lamar, "Alright" (Colin Tilley & the Little Homies)

Best Choreography: OK Go, "I Won’t Let You Down" (OK Go, air:man and Mori Harano)

Best Cinematography: Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me" (Larkin Sieple)

Best Art Direction: Snoop Dogg, "So Many Pros" (François Rousselet, Jason Fijal)

Best Editing: Beyoncé, "7/11" (Beyoncé, Ed Burke, Jonathan Wing)

Best Visual Effects: Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, "Where Are U Now" (Brewer, Gloria FX, and Max Chyzhevskyy)

Artist to Watch: Fetty Wap

Video of the Year: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, "Bad Blood"


Sunday, August 30, 2015

X Factor not quite the ratings juggernaut it once was

Last night, the X Factor returned, with all the pomp that ITV could muster.

Although, to be fair to ITV, when you're marketing something that now features Nick Grimshaw and Olly Murs as part of the mix, you're going to be struggling a bit to begin with.

Even so, a drop of 20% of viewers compared with last year's launch isn't great.

ITV are muttering about how maybe everyone was out because it was Bank Holiday (or maybe the thought that it's still August and this is going to drag on until Christmas put everyone off?).

And it still managed over seven million, which is considered good for the nearly identical Britain's Got Talent.

And it's not like ITV's got an idea to replace it with - Celebrity Sheepdogs or whatever that thing was isn't going to be anchoring a Saturday night any time soon.

So, on it will limp. Maybe they'll bring Steve Brookstein back as a twist.

Google is just taking the piss here, isn't it?


This week just gone

1. That last ever NME
2. RIP: Cilla Black
3. Left out of Compton
4. Tom Jones dropped from The Voice
5. Backing up your CD collection is now illegal, again
6. Bookmarks: Andy Medhurst on Cilla Black
7. One Direction split, slowly
8. XFM to become Moyles, Kay's playground
9. The Nostalgia industry has just reached Jessica Simpson
10. NOFX try to pay hipster to go away

These were interesting:


Wilco - Star Wars


Download Star Wars



Natalie Imbruglia - Male


Download Male



The Three Johns - Volume


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The €20 love note

You might have come across the story of the love note scrawled on a €20 note:

Leech went on to explain that they eventually broke up and Megan met someone else. "After I saw the €20 note on a FB post, I called her," he said. "She told me she had written it on a note she used to pay into one of my gigs about 6 months ago. I didn't know she was there. She told me she thought I'd get the cash directly but I obviously didn't. She took it that I didn't want to talk.

"So, now we're in touch again but the situation is quite different.”
Perhaps the most touching aspect of this story is that Megan somehow thinks an artist at a gig is going to see any of the money from his gig by the time he comes off stage.


The lights are going out all over the VMAs. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.

MTV are still doing the VMAs, which is in itself a weird thing - MTV's target demographic must be puzzled that every so often the 'I Live In An Area Where Republicans Defunded Sex Ed Lessons' marathons are put on hold to celebrate pop videos. I suppose it's no odder than those times ITV suddenly decide to show the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, though.

Anyway, they're doing it again, only this time it's turned into war. Presumably in a bid to get picked up by History Channel next year.

Entertainment Tonight have taped the words 'Press' on their windcheaters, and are reporting from the frontline:

In July, Minaj went on a Twitter rant about how "Anaconda" was snubbed for a Video of the Year nomination at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, as well as her and Beyonce's song "Feeling Myself."

"If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year," she tweeted. "If I was a different 'kind' of artist, 'Anaconda' would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well."

She also accused the VMAs of body shaming, posting that "black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it."
There's a lot to unpick there - MTV might point to the number of prizes Beyonce picked up last year, including the Michael Jackson lifetime achievement style award; detractors would nod and suggest that you have to be Beyonce to fight your way into events like that while Miley Cyrus just has to shed some clothes and kiss a powertool or two and gets escorted to the top table.

Miley Cyrus. Talking of whom, she's this year's MTV VMA host, and she's fired back:
Cyrus, who is hosting Sunday's VMAs, tells the New York Times that Minaj went about this all wrong.

"If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself," the 22-year-old singer said. "Say: 'This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type.'"

Cyrus claims that Minaj lost focus of the issue at hand. "You made it about you. Not to sound like a b**ch, but that’s like, 'Eh, I didn’t get my VMA.'"
I don't think that's entirely fair, but you have to at least admit Cyrus has positioned herself well from a political perspective - in effect, she's totally agreed with Minaj that the people giving her large sums of cash to present an awards show have excluded women from a certain background, but also spun out from it a personal attack which will keep all the prepublicity flowing without risking her job at the podium.

I think that's either cold-hearted capitalism, or consummate professionalism.


Friday, August 28, 2015

X axed: XFM to shed last vestiges of what it was

A grim additional email from Popbitch this morning, which builds on yesterday's story that XFM was about to be rebranded Capital Rocks.

It's not going to be called Capital Rocks - presumably because it's not a fucking paving company operating out of Bexleyheath - but it is going to have a new name:

Starting on 21st September, it's going to be Radio X.
There are already a bunch of Radio Xes, of course, most notably in Grand Theft Auto.

But as Popbitch continues, the change of name isn't as bad as it could have been:
One of the ideas floated (but thankfully dropped) was to give the station a "no females" policy, with "Man Size Music" suggested as the new slogan.
Yes, the brains that run Capital did really think that adopting the much-maligned strategy used by Nestle to turn the Yorkie bar from a relatively unpleasant hunk of inedible chocolate into a flashpoint in the gender wars was the way to rebrand its alt rock station.

Mind you, when you read this bit...:
With Chris Moyles at breakfast, followed by Vernon Kay. Jonny Vaughn gets the nod for drivetime. And Ricky "The Voice" Wilson is in for a weekend show.
... you do have to ask yourself how far the "no females" policy was actually abandoned. It doesn't sound like that page of the flipchart was ripped up, does it?


Monday, August 24, 2015

One Direction split

The news, of course, has rumbled through the day: One Direction have announced they're going to sort-of split, or at least go on hiatus, to allow the individual members to experiment with a solo career and find out how it feels to get a number 29 chart hit for a few months.

Someone's making a nice quid or two out of it, though:

Unscrupulous sellers are cashing in on the shock announcement from the group, which includes Wolverhampton-born Liam Payne and Harry Styles, from Redditch.

The Barclaycard Arena is already a complete sell out for Saturday October 10 and the following two nights have just a few tickets left, 1D fans will have to scramble to be among the Birmingham crowds.

Ticket prices are more than three times the price of the original face value tickets, with users of the popular ticket selling site StubHub.com selling tickets for prices of up to £1,298.
People prepared to pay over a grand to see them must be some sort of mega-fan, although not so mega that they were that arsed about getting tickets when they only cost fifty quid.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nicki Minaj: The age we live in now

Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas has had to issue a statement asking visitors to not take photos of themselves fucking Nicki Minaj's waxwork from behind:


It's an "interactive immersive experience" too far. It's curious that the venue is worried about disrespecting the waxwork, though, rather than disrespecting the person depicted in the waxwork.


Kathleen Hanna is relaxed about pop star feminism

When Taylor Swift, or similar, talks about feminism, it might not be your mother's feminism, or your elder sister's. But is that a problem?

Kathleen Hanna isn't sure that it is:

I remember back in the Nineties being like, “We’re being commodified,” so I understand people being like, “We don’t want feminism to become this fashion that has nothing behind it.” But I’m not really worried about that. When somebody that’s a huge megastar that has so many young fans, like Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus or Beyoncé, comes out and says, “I’m a feminist,” I mean, that’s the sound of hundreds of thousands of girls typing the word into the Internet.
In other words: Taylor Swift Feminism is a gateway. And any entry point is to be welcomed.


Pop stars in not exactly reduced circumstances

There's an odd little piece in the spitewrapper that is the Mail On Sunday this morning - it's a glorified puff piece for some sort of timesharey/homeswapping deal. But what's fascinating is that the frontman for the operation is Marcus Vere.

Marcus Vere.

"Eighties pop star Marcus Vere".

We'll save you the Googling - he was in Living In A Box. Which does at least allow the Mail a sort-of joke:

He found fame with a song about ‘living in a cardboard box’, but musician Marcus Vere can now live in a variety of what he describes as ‘grandiose and luxuriant boxes’ all around the world.
Oddly, this isn't the first time Vere has popped up to enthuse over the project. Last year he was trilling about it in the Telegraph:
One member is music producer Marcus Vere, a former member of the 1980s band Living in a Box, whose 17th century thatched cottage in the Cotswolds is almost entirely booked up this summer. In return, he and his family have enjoyed free accommodation all over the world.

“We save thousands this way. As a family of five, you’re looking at nearly £5,000 even for economy tickets to fly to the US these days, so we’re happy to take any benefits we can from having a house in the Cotswolds to subside our holiday accommodation costs. This summer, we’re staying at the Trump Hotel & Tower on Central Park.”
He also popped up in the London Evening Standard enthusing over the service:
London musician and X Factor songwriter Marcus Vere, the keyboard player in Eighties band Living in a Box, owns a striking five-bedroom holiday home in the Cotswolds with his wife Laetitia, where they enjoy time with their children JJ, Giselle and Nina, aged 13, 11 and nine.
Now, it's possible that Vere just loves the service so much he can't stop talking about it. Because if he was promoting the service in return for some sort of consideration, they'd mention that in the articles, right?


Buckcherry sex toys empire set to expand

Did you know that Buckcherry market their own range of sex toys? I'm assuming their dildos, if they're anything like their music, will be a bit disappointing - you can see what they're trying to do, but it's not very satisfying and nowhere near hard enough.

Still, their popular with their fans, according to the band's Josh Todd:

The band has its own line of sex toys, Crazy Bitch Toys. Are the products hot sellers?

Yes! We have a dildo, condoms and are working on adding a vibrator and butt-plug. People like us to sign them, usually. I hope they use them. We have some things in the works though it’s too soon to talk about them.
I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "we have some things in the works" when talking about sex toy development.

The idea that Buckcherry are busily trying to design a butt-plug is somehow cheering. Or at least more cheering than the thought they might be writing more songs.


This week just gone

On this day in No Rock history:

2014: Apparently doing the ice bucket challenge led to Lily Allen selling gig tickets
2013: Fran Healy was upset by Beyonce's backstage demands
2012: Zayn Malik quit Twitter
2011: EMI lost its court case against mp3locker
2010: Someone was selling a toilet that John Lennon might once have pooped in
2005: Turkmenistan bans recorded music




These were the interesting releases this week:


Sweet Baboo - The Boombox Ballads


Download Boombox Ballads



Grace Potter - Midnight


Download Midnight


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dre sort of apologises a little

Both Dr Dre and Apple have been forced to sort-of engage a bit with the allegations that Dre used to beat women up.

Dre had been ignoring these claims for years, but discovered that when someone makes a biopic about you and also ignores them, it becomes hard to pretend it didn't happen.

So, sit back and see how Dre tries to make amends for beating women up, and then ignoring them for decades:

"Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I’ve been married for 19 years and every day I’m working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I’m doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again.”

“I apologize to the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives.”
This raises a whole bunch of questions - Dre being a man of whom the world's most famous leading question, 'when did you stop beating your partners', can legitimately be asked.

More pressingly, if Dre deeply regrets what he did, isn't a bit of a coincidence that this regret has only just bubbled over into acknowledging that what your accusers have said is true the week after the movie came out?

And finally: even if your regret is heartfelt, why would you end it with the line about "all of our lives"? You think that the best way to say sort-of-sorry for beating women is to remind people that, hey, it's affected you too.

Apple, for their part, have popped out a statement which shrugs and says "well, he's never hit a woman so hard he cracked her ribs while he's been here":
“Dre has apologized for the mistakes he’s made in the past and he’s said that he’s not the same person that he was 25 years ago. We believe his sincerity and after working with him for a year and a half, we have every reason to believe that he has changed.”
What galls most here is the word "mistakes", as if repeatedly attacking women was a bit like speeding in a built-up area because you didn't see the sign.

Maybe Dre really is contrite. But it'd be easier to believe if we spoke about what it was he did then less than what he doesn't do now.


Skiibii: The Reggie Perrin of pop

Social media deciding to inflate 'someone being a bit queasy' into 'you are with the angles now XXXRIP' isn't anything new, but I think the case of Skiibii is something of a first.

Skiibii had a blackout, and went to hospital for a check-up. The hospital thought he was fine; the internet decided he was dead.

So far, not so unusual. But part of the reason why the web was already rummaging through Skiibii's cupboards muttering "dead men don't need season tickets" was that his manager had confirmed the death.

It looks like there was an attempt to turn the death-that-wasn't into a marketing triumph. Instead, it ended badly. PR Week reports that Skiibii is trying to clear up the mess:

Speaking to Cool FM alongside Skiibii, fellow artist KCee said he blamed their manager Soso Soberekon for allowing the rumours to escalate. "My so-called manager confirmed it, I put the blame on him," said KCee, going on to say: "We are going to treat him according to his mistake, and right now as I speak he is fired."

Soberekon this morning released a statement via his Instagram page offering an "unreserved apology to everyone". He said: "With my wealth of experience in the entertainment business, I would like to state that events leading to the above misinformation through my channel was due to a breakdown in communication."
Sacking might seem a little harsh, but if you're not sure if you're representing a person or a corpse, maybe management isn't really for you.


Gene Simmons is not a suspect

There's a raid on a house by police looking for child pornography. The house is owned by someone famous, but police go out of their way to stress that the suspect is not the famous person, nor a member of their family; and that the famous person is not a suspect.

The press still use the famous person's name at the front end of the headlines, and a massive photo of him.

It might not even be that someone from the house downloaded anything; it could just be the IP address. And Simmons wasn't even in the country when the alleged offence occurred.

But the AP report still ends with two lines about Simmons:

Phone and email messages to Simmons' publicist were not immediately returned.

The 65-year-old Simmons has been a central member of KISS since the early 1970s. His family was the subject of a reality TV series that aired for several years.
Yes, they were. But not the subject of the story you've just filed.


NOFX: pay to go away

What do you do when you see a hipster in your audience?

(This question shouldn't be attempted by Mumford And Sons.)

If you're in NOFX, you try to buy your way out of the terrible situation. The now-defunct NME reports:

The band were playing at the Cunard Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia when frontman Fat Mike spotted a fan on the front row who was wearing a tie-dye shirt and sporting a beard.

Fat Mike offered him cash to leave the gig immediately. "You have no business being here,” the singer said "I will pay you $100 (£64) to leave this show. Are you gonna stand in front and bother me all day with your fucking tie-dye shirt and your beard?"
The man didn't leave - presumably his people weren't going to be able to get his comedy penny farthing from valet parking for another hour - but after hearty negotiations, he accepted twenty dollars to take his shirt off and have that escorted from the venue.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Kate Nash

To offset the bad taste of Hollywood deciding to not let Dre beating a woman up spoil a good story, here's Kate Nash talking to Broadly:


Left out of Compton

There's showbiz for you. One moment, you're a threat to the status quo, with the President worrying over your lyrics. The next, you've been assimilated into a Hollywood biopic.

So it is that NWA, who once threatened revolution in the streets find themselves atop the multiplexes. It shouldn't be much of a surprise - after all, we're several years past the time Eazy-E took lunch with President Bush at a Republican fundraiser:

The good people of Compton, though, won't be able to see their neighbourhood's moment in the sun - Compton doesn't have a cinema.

Although that's not quite as isolating as Digital Spy tries to make it sound. Because...
Dr Dre and Ice Cube fans will have to journey 4 miles east to Paramount's Bianchi Stadium theatre to witness their city depicted on-screen.
A four mile trip to the cinema isn't exactly onerous, is it? People in the suburbs of Brighton have to travel further than that to get to the pictures, and nobody's suggesting Straight Outta Withdean is going to get green lit soon.

More worryingly is the excising of Dre's treatment of women. Dre beat Dee Barnes, and she wonders why this isn't mentioned in the biopic:
That event isn’t depicted in Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t think it should have been, either. The truth is too ugly for a general audience. I didn’t want to see a depiction of me getting beat up, just like I didn’t want to see a depiction of Dre beating up Michel’le, his one-time girlfriend who recently summed up their relationship this way: “I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat on and told to sit down and shut up.”

But what should have been addressed is that it occurred. When I was sitting there in the theater, and the movie’s timeline skipped by my attack without a glance, I was like, “Uhhh, what happened?” Like many of the women that knew and worked with N.W.A., I found myself a casualty of Straight Outta Compton’s revisionist history.
Hollywood likes its gritty stories. But just not with too much reality. After all, you don't want your heroes to be unrelatable, right?


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

iTunes Music festival upgrades with new interface

The long-running iTunes music festival - an event which mostly exists so the music industry can be gently reminded who is in charge here - is being rebranded this year as the Apple Music festival.

Amongst the acts: Florence and One Direction. 1D playing the Roundhouse is an interesting way to create the maximum number of upset excluded fans in one go.


Children to permanently work around age ratings, government announces

The entirely pyrrhic move of making pop videos display age ratings (or, rather, some pop videos on a couple of platforms) has achieved whatever low bar of success it was aiming for, and will now have its pointless life extended permanently, the government has announced.

So far, the BBFC has rated a massive 132 videos from the estimated 10 million plus music videos (about one third of videos on YouTube are music videos of one type or another; Quora estimates there's more than 80 million videos on the service).

I'm assuming the idea is that you're so unlikely to find an age rating on a video that you'd forget the way your workaround the requirement to prove your age by the next time you come across one.

The equally vapid labelling will apply to Vevo as well.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Managerobit: Jazz Summers

Jazz Summers, manager and label owner, has died.

There's a statement from his company, Big Life management:

Jazz Summers, the legendary music manager, has died aged seventy-one. He had been living with lung cancer for over two years. The music industry has lost one of its most vibrant, most notorious and most brilliant characters. A champion of new music, a non-conformist and a visionary, Jazz Summers will be greatly missed.

Jazz Summers was a master of artist development. His ability to hear a song and recognize its power and potential brought him huge success across several decades.

Jazz managed Wham!, Lisa Stansfield, Soul II Soul, The Verve, Badly Drawn Boy, Snow Patrol, Klaxons, La Roux, Scissor Sisters and London Grammar among many others.

His artists have sold over sixty million albums and seventy two million singles around the world including over one hundred Top 40 hits in the past forty years.

Jazz was born on March 15th 1944. He enrolled in military school aged twelve and joined the army aged fifteen. He served as a radiographer, spending time in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

In 1985, in partnership with Simon Napier-Bell, Jazz helped Wham! to become the first western pop group to tour China. Summers was crucial in breaking the band in America and established a reputation as an expert in the American market. A reputation that would be strengthened by his work with Snow Patrol and La Roux.

Summers formed his own management company Big Life in partnership with Tim Parry in 1986. They also ran Big Life Records, which featured hundreds of releases from artists including The Orb, Yazz, Coldcut, De La Soul and The Soup Dragons.

In 2003, Jazz was awarded the prestigious Peter Grant Award and in 2007, the Strat Award at the Music Week Awards.

Big Life will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. It continues to prosper.

Summers was an active campaigner for artists’ rights. As chairman of the MMF (Music Managers’ Forum) he was vocal in many issues affecting artists, including the extension of copyright, secondary ticketing, and VPL. He was also prominent in setting up the Featured Artists’ Coalition and Julie’s Bicycle, a not-for-profit organisation working on sustainability in the creative industries.

In September 2013 Summers’ autobiography ‘Big Life’ was published to critical acclaim.

Jazz is survived by his wife Dianna, his daughters Katie, Rio and Georgia, his granddaughters Claire, Lila and Rose and his brother Don.
It wasn't, naturally, all clambering up the ladders - in 1999, the Big Life record label went into receivership and was eventually purchased by Universal. But before they folded, they released Mega City 4 and KMFDM records, and anyone would be happy with that.

And while 'taking Wham to China' might not sound very much of a big deal, it's worth recalling what a huge coup that was at the time (one minute in):


This week just gone

On this day: Most read-pieces

2014: Jonathan Ross picks up swing shifts at Radio 2; Mail goes into meltdown
2013: One Direction fans fly into panic when similarities between Best Song Ever and Baba O'Riley
2012: Lennon's house goes on the market for £15million. Imagine, eh?
2011: Vampire Weekend released from cover copyright spat
2010: Stonewall's idea of a gay icon is Will Young

These were the new releases:


Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique - Love Is Free




Iris Dement - The Trackless Woods


Download The Trackless Woods



HolySiz - My Name Is


Download My Name Is



Mac DeMarco - Another One


Download Another One



Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy




Jesus And Mary Chain - Psychocandy Live


Download Psychocandy Live



Ivy Levan - No Good


Download No Good


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Revolver

Apparently, before yesterday, this wasn't on YouTube:

And if that seems unlikely, here's someone who should know saying it's a first:


Montana life not so great: Miley wasn't happy

It's easy to forget when watching Miley Cyrus trudging through tropes that were probably best left alone just what a horrible childhood she had.

She reminds us in Marie Claire this month:

Covering the September issue of Marie Claire, the former Disney star opened up to the magazine about how she came to question her physical appearance after years of being "told for so long what a girl is supposed to be from being on that show."

"From the time I was 11, it was, 'You're a pop star! That means you have to be blonde, and you have to have long hair, and you have to put on some glittery tight thing,' " she said. "Meanwhile, I'm this fragile little girl playing a 16-year-old in a wig and a ton of makeup. It was like Toddlers & Tiaras. I had f—ing flippers."
I'm presuming here she meant that she had massive tantrums, rather than webbed feet. I think. Although if Disney had decided she should have webbed feet, you can bet that excess skin would have been grafted on pretty swiftly.
Cyrus admitted that she began to develop body-image issues from how she was portrayed falsely on the Disney Channel series, telling the magazine, "I was made to look like someone that I wasn't, which probably caused some body dysmorphia because I had been made pretty every day for so long, and then when I wasn't on that show, it was like, 'Who the f— am I?' "

She added, "When you look at retouched, perfect photos, you feel like shit. They lighten black girls' skin. They smooth out wrinkles. Even when I get stuck on Instagram wondering, 'Why don't I look like that?' it's a total bummer. It's crazy what people have decided we're all supposed to be."
So, having felt this weight, Miley's not going to play along with those rules:
Despite societal pressure, the pop singer told Marie Claire she won't be conforming to traditional beauty standards.

"I'm probably never going to be the face of a traditional beauty company unless they want a weed-smoking, liberal-ass freak," she said. "But my dream was never to sell lip gloss. My dream is to save the world."
Which is both a wonderful sentiment, and also sort-of hard to square with the announcement last week that Cyrus has signed on for a second run of promotional work with Estee Lauder's MAC cosmetics brand.


Listen with No Rock: Nada Surf

Coming shortly from Nada Surf is an album which records their March 2014 Seattle gig. They're thrown us a bone in the shape of this track:


Tom Jones now telling Elvis anecdotes down the Job Centre

Tom "Bloody" Jones isn't a happy man. He was fully expecting to continue his judging role on The Voice - which effectively means sitting in a chair for fifteen weeks, occasionally jerking awake to say "Bob Dylan used to deliver my Ocado order in the 60s", before slumping back into a slumber. He'd even been practising trying to watch Will I Am's "antics" without allowing his face to betray the complete depth of his contempt.

But it's not to be. The BBC have decided that Sir Tom needn't bother himself this year. His place on the panel has gone to Boy George. (The now-absent Rita Ora has been replaced by Paloma Faith, which will have the same result you'd have got if Ora had spent the summer break doing a correspondence course.)

Tom isn't happy, though. The Telegraph hears his pain:

Writing on his official Facebook and Twitter pages, Sir Tom revealed he had not chosen to leave of his own accord, accusing executives of lacking basic respect.

He said: "In good faith, as part of the team, I’d put the time in my schedule to be involved in Series 5, as I’ve done for the last 4 years. I’ve supported the show and the BBC since the beginning.

"I was told yesterday, with no consultation or conversation of any kind, that I would not be returning.

Having been through plenty of transformations throughout the years, I support and admire creative change. But being informed, as a matter of duty and respect, is an important part of creative relationships.

"This sub-standard behaviour from the executives is very disappointing.

"I will always admire the courage of the performers who participate in the show, as well as all the production staff who worked tirelessly to make a great family viewing experience for the audience at home. I wish the show well."
Someone who has been part of The Voice for four years being surprised at something sub-standard happening in the production team really does suggest Tom spent most of the time sleeping, doesn't it?


I'm afraid I'm about to make you feel very old indeed

We have now reached the point in human history where people are writing nostalgia pieces about Jessica Simpson:

Get ready to throw it way, way back. In the early '00s, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson were a total power couple and gave us all of our relationship goals.
Way, way back? I've got jars of Miracle Whip in the cupboard that predate Jessica Simpson.

Can it really be not only long enough to justify the looking back, but also the development of such rose tinted spectacles for the look back?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Columbia House closes its doors, windows

The Britannia Music Club - Buy CDs for almost nothing, and then be beholden to buy crappier CDs at full price forever more - gave up the ghost in the UK back in 2007. Astonishingly, its US equivalent, Columbia House, has been battling on in the face of the internet. "Has" is the operative word, though, as it's finally sunk under the weight of its USD63million debt.

Knowing how tenacious these services were pursuing hapless members for their quota of coins were, you'd really hope that the creditors of Columbia House will pursue the company beyond the grave.


Sunday, August 09, 2015

Bookmarks: Rocky Horror

There's a really splendid piece by Simon Price at The Quietus which considers Rocky Horror in the round. I'm not totally convinced - I think it's as much 'exotic package holiday in other people's identity' as 'first swim' - but Price's case is strong nevertheless:

Rocky Horror indubitably provides a 'safe space', an adult creche where transgressive behaviour and cross-dressing are accepted, nay, encouraged. Rocky Horror is a set of stabilisers on your sex bike, a pair of water wings for your first swim in the sea of depravity. But is that such a terrible thing?


This week just gone

As we enter The Summer Without The NME, here's the most-read NME-related stories ever:

1. NME Awards shortlist [2009]
2. Russell Brand outgunned by Monkeys at NME Awards [2006]
3. The NME points fingers at file-sharing services [2008]
4. Conor McNicholas relaunches NME; says Coldplay sound like The Stone Roses [2008]
5. Arctic Monkeys win all the prizes [could be any year; this is 2008]
6. NME Awards nominations [2006]
7. That time they added McCartney to a prize when he turned up [2004]
8. NME Awards virtually a rerun of last year's [2008]
9. NME makesover again [2005]
10. Kerrang overtakes NME. Again.


These were this week's most interesting new releases:


Astrid Williamson - We Go To Dream


Download We Go To Dream



The Strands - The Magical World Of...


Download Magical World Of...