Saturday, June 25, 2016

Funkobit: Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell, co-founder of Funkadelic and Parliament, has died.

As The Guardian's obituary observes, in effect he was paid in exposure:

Worrell’s contributions as a keyboardist, writer and arranger didn’t bring him a lot of money, the source of much legal action and fierce criticism of Clinton, but fellow musicians paid attention.
As a result, when he was fighting cancer it took a fundraiser to help cover his medical expensese. Although it was a pretty impressive fundraiser.

He had a varied career - he was part of the band featured in Rikki And The Flash, the so-so Meryl Streep movie; he played with Talking Heads during their imperial phase. And, perhaps less magnificently, he was part of Buckethead's post-Guns N Roses existence:

Worrell had been inspired to take up the synth by Emerson, Lake And Palmer. From a Passion of the Weiss interview last year:
I have to say when I was in college at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. I had an Emerson, Lake & Palmer [album]. That’s when I first heard the Moog synthesizer.

It tickled my fancy. That was a big one. [Note: Emerson played an enormous Moog modular synth.] After joining P-Funk, they came out with the Minimoog, which is the granddaddy after the one that Keith Emerson [played]. I bought one, and then came “Flash Light.” And “One Nation” bass line, that’s a Minimoog. Bass line on “Aqua Boogie,” that’s a Minimoog. There’s actually three Minimoogs on “Flash Light.” Everybody gravitates towards the bass line, but there’s two more doing cartoon voices.
With Worrell so influential on black music, this does mean that Emerson, Lake & Palmer are legitimately one of the founding forces of hip-hop. Kind of.


Leave will screw the music industry, too

While as a nation we try to come to terms with just how self-defeating half of our compatriots are, you might be wondering what it means for music.

Before the vote, Pitchfork warned that it would probably be bad:

British media coverage of EU funding trains a negative focus on all the so-called red tape you have to endure to access it. But there are endless EU programs that benefit the music industry, which Britain excels at securing: In 2012, UK applications (in general, not just for music) had a 46 percent success rate, almost double the average success rate of 24 percent. If the UK leaves the EU, in all likelihood, that funding will no longer be available. The benefits of this money are vast, wide-reaching, and often not obvious to the public. The Village Underground, a well-appointed, 1000-capacity warehouse venue in east London, currently benefits from two EU programs. Liveurope pays them to host emerging European bands support slots on bigger bills, giving these acts the chance to get out of their own countries, and prompting venues to have a more diverse program. Creative Lenses is a four-year investigation into new business models for the cultural sector.
The BPI issued a statement:
“The outcome of the EU Referendum will come as a surprise to many across the music community, who will be concerned by the economic uncertainty that lies ahead and the impact this may have on business prospects.
"However, the UK public has spoken, and once the short-term political and macro-economic consequences have played out, this decision will mean new priorities for the music industry in our work with Government. We will, of course, press the Government to swiftly negotiate trade deals that will ensure unimpeded access to EU markets for our music and our touring artists. Our Government will also now have the opportunity to legislate for stronger domestic copyright rules that encourage investment here in the UK and which will protect UK creators from piracy and from tech platforms siphoning off value through copyright loopholes. We are confident that British music will remain hugely popular across Europe and we will work hard to make sure UK labels are able to capitalise on that demand.”


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Half Man Half Biscuit: Ride away

This may be the best thing You And Yours has ever broadcast: A Half Man Half Biscuit cycle trip


Blissobit: Prince Be

Attrell Cordes, better known as PM Dawn's Prince Be, has died.

A Facebook post from Doc G confirmed the news earlier today:



Prince Be has unwell for some time - Doc G spoke to The Stranger in 2011 as he took on the PM Dawn mantle, and wasn't ruling out a return to stage:

I don't know if he'll ever be able to join me again. Prince Be is doing his best to try and get back his health. I think the death of Nate Dogg woke him up. He was slacking a bit. I don't know if Nate had diabetes, but, you know, the strokes... Prince Be can still sing a bit, but he has paralysis in his right hand and it's a little tough. I wish I had the funds for a portable dialysis machine. We'd go on the road. I have this whole vision to get him back out there. I actually had an idea of putting him in a wheelchair and dressing him up like a Utopian Professor X.
Prince Be was American, but PM Dawn wouldn't have been PM Dawn without Britain.

When Be was six, his dad gave him a record by Donovan - and you can see the influence of Donovan's lyrics and worldview on the candy, universal outlook of PM Dawn. More crucially, when the band couldn't catch a cold in the US, the UK liked Ode to a Forgetful Mind to earn the band a deal with an offshoot of Island Records. Prince Be relocated to London, explaining why to the LA Times in 1991:
That spiritual orientation of the late '60s, stressing peace, love and equality, permeates Prince Be's views. He said he even moved to London recently because he finds the atmosphere there less stressful than on the East Coast.

"You can hear the difference in the songs that were written over there," he said in another interview recently. "New York is really stressed out so the songs I write (there) are really morbid. London, though, is (as) if you took New York's fire and poured water on it, so you still have the embers."

But Prince Be also found Britain to be more comfortable on a social level:

"They're not so race conscious over there. They understand me better. It's a shame but it's hard being black and spiritual in this country."
You'll see Prince Be described as an optimist in many places over the web; there can surely be no better proof of his optimism than a man who moved to John Major's England because it felt like a Shangri-La.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

EMI: Hands handed arse; tries to save face

It's been a while since we heard about Guy Hands, the man who borrowed large sums of cash to buy EMI and then discovered he wasn't very good at running a record label.

He's been in court this week, trying to blame his failures at EMI on CitiGroup, in a legal case which was basically Hands' Terra Firma going "waah waah, why didn't they tell us".

The fraud case was supposed to last into July - rather like Euro 2016 - but ended somewhat abruptly with a humiliating defeat - rather like England's Euro 2016.

Hands climbed down:

“Terra Firma confirms it unreservedly withdraws its allegations of fraud,” David Wolfson – standing in for lead QC Anthony Grabiner – told the hastily convened court. Terra Firma will also pay the costs of the US bank, likely to run into millions of pounds.

Hands, who had been claiming at least £1.5bn from Citi, had been questioned by the bank’s lawyer for the previous two days, and his evidence had been expected to last into next week. He had faced repeated questions about his recollection of events in 2007 when Terra Firma took over EMI just before the credit crunch and had been accused of having a “hazy memory”.

At one stage during his questioning of Hands, Mark Howard QC, representing Citi, said: “The problem is, Mr Hands, your story is shifting and it is impossible to reconcile these different versions.”
Much as EMI had relied on releasing poorly-conceived best of 'special edition' collections, Hands was trying to sell a bunch of remixes of old material, but the court wasn't really buying.

His case having crumbled underneath him, Hands was left trying to whistle a brave tune:
Hands, who was not in court, said the latest claim had been brought in good faith. “However, it has become evident that our documentation of the fast-moving and complex events, and memories of these events after nine years, are no longer sufficient to meet the high demands of proof required for a fraud claim in court,” he said.

“The matter is now closed,” said Hands, saying that the Terra Firma business he founded in 2003 was looking to the future. “We have an exciting portfolio of companies, a talented and experienced team, supportive and loyal investors and €1bn of capital to invest,” he said.
It's funny, isn't it, that he hadn't noticed he couldn't remember all that "fast-moving" stuff until he'd been taken to pieces on the stand.

And while Hands might believe the matter is closed, that isn't entirely true. Terra Firma have agreed to pick up all of Citi's costs. That Billion of capital might be whittled down a bit in the coming weeks.


To be alive at this time

Fighting for scraps on the edge of fame:

Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Dawn Ward found guilty of assaulting pop star Sinitta
Justice has been done, though:
Dawn, a cast member of the ITVBe series, stood quietly in the dock as District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe told her that she would be bound over in the sum of £500 for three months and ordered her to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. No costs were awarded.
ITV Be, the cruellest injoke of a channel name (you wonder if they brainstormed other dismissive titles, like ITV Who? and ITV Second String). Still, the thought of having a £500 fine hanging over her will focus the mind; that's going to knock out the earnings from about six series of the programme.

What were the pair fighting over?

Yeah. Nobody cares.


This week just gone

Last week, these releases intrigued us:


Tegan And Sara - Love You To Death


Download Love You To Death



Ladyhawke - Wild Things


Download Wild Things



The Kills - Ash And Ice


Download Ash And Ice



Amber Arcades - Fading Lines


Download Fading Lines



Dexys - Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul


Download Dexys Do



Cats Eyes - Treasure Houses


Download Treasure Houses


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Wouldn't Quadrophenia 2 just be Octophenia?

It's not often you find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly with The Who, but their reaction to the plans for a sequel to Quadrophenia are pretty much spot-on:

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have denied involvement, calling the project "a blatant attempt to cash in".

In a strongly-worded statement, they said: "For the avoidance of doubt, this project isn't endorsed by The Who, Who Films, Universal or any of the other rights owners of the original."
Bill Curbishley, the band's manager who produced the original film, added: "Quadrophenia is a significant and influential film based on The Who's music, not some Carry On franchise.

"Any follow-up could only be made by the authors of the original and would need to be worthy of the name. This karaoke sequel announced recently would be totally ridiculous."
The filmmakers, though, think they've got this covered:
the follow-up would be set in the present day and based around events in the book To Be Someone, by Peter Meadows, which was inspired by the original movie.

His book picks up where the narrative of The Who's album (rather than the film) ends, following the hero, Jimmy, through the punk era as he becomes a drug dealing gangster.

Director Ray Burdis - who previously produced The Krays, starring Gary and Martin Kemp - claimed Townshend had given Meadows' book the seal of approval, suggesting this counted as an endorsement for his film.
Yes. That's exactly how that works.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Spotify: An upside-down pyramid

Digital Music News report on the proportion of users who Spotify rely on:

90% of Spotify’s Revenue Comes from 30% Of Its Users
This, surely, isn't that surprising though - if you're operating a freemium model, it's probable that most of your revenue will flow from the premium end rather than the free end:
89.9% of Spotify’s revenues come from just 31.4% of its users, according to more financial data now surfacing. The 2015 filing, registered with EU regulators last week, showed that paying subscribers generated a hefty $1.96 billion in revenues. By stark comparison, free, ad-supported users generated a relatively paltry $222 million.
It is a problem for Spotify, though, who are currently burning money like you wouldn't believe.
That effectively translates into a cash inferno, with everyone seemingly benefiting… except for artists, a group witnessing deteriorating per-stream revenues over the past few years. According to the same filing, rank-and-file employees are enjoying sharply-rising salaries, with average compensation now surpassing $168,000 per year. At the upper end, top executives and board members are pulling down north of $1.3 million a piece, with stock options potentially minting billionaires after a successful IPO.
Not, of course, that Spotify's business plan is to get close enough to profit in order to cash in its chips. Of course.


Sunday, June 05, 2016

This week just gone

The most-read May stories:

1. Eurovision: Liveblog
2. Russia don't like the Eurovision result
3. Eurovision: Tumblr speaks
4. Azeailia Banks isn't that nice
5. Why did Yacht think anyone would be interested in a sex tape?
6. NME misunderstands Eurovision half time
7. Banks tries a half apology
8. Beyonce has upset the police
9. Robbie Williams gets a dubious gig
10. Cilla Black was Dionne Warwick's Moriarty


Last week and interesting:


Kate Jackson - British Road Movies


Download British Road Movies



Marissa Nadler - Strangers


Download Strangers



Melanie De Biasio - Blackened Cities




Christy Moore - Lily


Download Lily


Friday, June 03, 2016

It turns out there is one piece of London property with affordable rents

There's cutting a deal, and there's cutting a deal:


The annual rent on the Brixton Academy was set in 1929, and won't be reviewed until 2029. £8,0002,600 a year.


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Miley Cyrus: If you have tears, prepare to shed them now

Poor Carl McCoid. He used to like Miley Cyrus. He used to like her a lot.

So much so, he got 29 Miley Cyrus tattoos, all over his body.

The problem? Oh, Carl:

He said: "People can't seem to see past the tattoos and it was having a very negative effect on my life where I felt trapped by them. I've just gone off her."
Carl is trapped in a cell of his own making. A skin cell, if you will.

He's blaming the tattoos for his inability to get a girlfriend - which might be confusing symptoms with the problem.

Still, was Miley impressed with his efforts?
Miley said in an interview last year that Carl's tattoos were "ugly" and "creepy", but Carl, a dad-of-three, insists her comments are not the main reason he wants to get them removed.
Carl appears to believe that Miley is too raunchy. And:
Carl, who runs his own ironing business from home, realised his obsession had gone too far when he stood in front of the mirror and was shocked by the sight of his Miley-covered torso.
Potential girlfriends don't like them. Miley Cyrus doesn't like them. He doesn't like them.

Oh, Carl.
He has spent £2,700 on the tattoos, which he says seem to be the only talking point when he goes on dates. He said: "The conversation just seems to be centred around them and it just gets boring. I feel like I can't move on."
He's having some of the tatts removed, and others will be covered over with other designs. Presumably meaning on future dates the conversation will be centred on why he has a tattoo of Miley Cyrus wearing a Groucho Marx face mask.


Bpop rearranges line-up

The troubled BPop live event - the gig encouraging people to vote leave in this month's referendum - has struggled with a line up after 5ive and Alesha Dixon discovered what they'd been signed up for and, well, voted to leave the bill.

But people are rushing in to fill the gap. They've got an Elvis Impersonator and, erm, whatever cadaver the bits of flesh that used to be Bucks Fizz are stitched into these days:


Not the real Elvis. Not the real Bucks Fizz. For the campaign without any grounding in reality. It all makes sense now.


Krist Novoselic has made his presidential choice

Krist Novoselic - very much the other one out of Nirvana - has decided he's going to through his weight behind the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. The Libertarian party, of course, is very much the Kirst Novoselic of US parties.

Novoselic has also defended Citizens United, says Politico:

Novoselic then tweeted a link to a blog post written last Thursday in which he laid out his thoughts on the landmark 2010 Citizens United case and the history of campaign finance law in general.
"The best one can do to serve democracy is to understand and study issues," he wrote in the nearly 3,700-word treatise. "Don’t believe the hype about Citizens United. It was a good ruling that protected the right of people to hear information without the government picking and choosing who could speak."
It's not, but you can see why extremely rich people like to believe that.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Where is Robbie Williams playing these days?

I suppose if you're Robbie Williams, you'd be lucky to get a gig anywhere these days, but what a surprise to discover him headlining a gig in Tblisi. Not any old gig, either - one paid for the government.

Maroon Five and Jose Carreras are also taking part in the - let's call them "celebrations", shall we?

And that's not all:

In addition to the Government-organised activities, Check in Georgia will also include events and activities hosted by private companies. Furthermore, agricultural and product displays including wine and cheese festivals will offer the best of local production to visitors.
It's a wonder they could keep Alex James away from it all.

So, Robbie Williams getting a payday from the Georgian government. That's alright, isn't it?

I mean, the Georgian government isn't terrible. They even endorsed a queer pride event last year, as Amnesty reports:
The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) proceeded peacefully in Tbilisi in a discreet location on 17 May
Well, that's lovely. Although... why was it discreet?
The authorities had refused to guarantee the event’s safety unless it was held at a specific location without any prior public announcement.
Perhaps not entirely in keeping with the spirit of the day.

Now, you could say that it's not Williams beef. Why should he decide where to play based on attitudes to queer people?

But his Georgian government paymasters are problematic in other ways, too:
On 15 March, approximately 50 supporters of the Georgian Dream ruling coalition forcibly entered the local offices of [opposition party] UNM and an affiliated group in Zugdidi, armed with wooden sticks, throwing stones and smashing windows. Nine people were reported injured, including one of the police officers who tried to intervene but were outnumbered by the attackers.

Concerns over freedom of expression were voiced by local NGOs and political commentators who believed that a lawsuit by a former shareholder of Rustavi 2 against its current owners was prompted by the government to deprive the opposition of its main mouthpiece. On 21 October, the director of Rustavi 2 reported having been blackmailed, claiming that the security services threatened to release intimate footage of him unless he resigned. The Tbilisi City Court found in favour of the former shareholder, and Rustavi 2 managers were forcibly replaced with pro-government caretakers on 5 November, against the Constitutional Court ruling that an appeal had to be heard first.

On 17 September, the Constitutional Court ruled to release Gigi Ugulava, an opposition activist and former Mayor of the capital, Tbilisi. It deemed his pre-trial detention since 2013 – on charges of misappropriation of public funds and money laundering – illegal as it exceeded the nine-month legal limit. The Court’s judges came under heavy criticism from senior government officials for this decision and were threatened with violence by some pro-government groups. On 18 September, Gigi Ugulava was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment on account of these charges, and rearrested the same day.
But Maroon 5 and Robbie Williams, almost certainly, wouldn't find themselves on the hard end of this dodgy justice.

To be fair to Williams, it's possible he didn't entirely feel thrilled at his new bosses. The English language Agenda.ge tried to talk up his enthusiasm:
The British singer shared his thoughts about his Tbilisi performance to his social media followers on Twitter on Thursday:
Under this, they reproduce this tweet to illustrate Williams' sharing:

So the best example Agenda could find of Williams' thoughts was a photo of him looking like a middle aged man waiting for his wife to emerge from a BHS restaurant toilet and a slew of hashtags that read like a particularly weak contestant on Catchphrase trying to work out what Mr Chips is telling them.


Harry Styles: This is probably a better review than they realise

"How is Harry Style's acting?"
"Well, his haircut is fabulous."


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Apparently it was the FA Cup Final yesterday

When did we start having people pop up to sing the national anthem at sporting events? It seems that's a thing now; and yesterday at Wembley they got someone off the X Factor - Karen Harding - to do the honours.

Trouble is, she missed her cue and had to skip a bit of the first verse.

The Independent might be overselling what happened a little:


This week just gone

We've been on holiday and not updating these on Sunday mornings for a short while - this was the most recent collection of then-new releases:


Guided By Voices - Please Be Honest


Download Please Be Honest



Wire - Nocturnal Koreans


Download Nocturnal Koreans



Sandy Denny - I've Always Kept A Unicorn


Download A Unicorn



Rufus Wainwright - Take All My Loves


Download Take All My Loves



We Are Scientists - Helter Seltzer


Download Helter Seltzer


Monday, May 16, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Russia aren't happy

The victory for Ukraine at Eurovision on Saturday night hasn't gone down well everywhere. And by "everywhere", I mean "at the Kremlin".

Russia really isn't happy:

“This is partly a consequence of the propaganda war of information that is being waged against Russia,” claimed Russian MP Elena Drapeko. “There is a general demonisation of Russia – that we are all evil, that our athletes are doping, that our planes violate airspace.”
Nobody in the west believes that, Elena. Well, not the "evil" bit. Well, not that all Russians are evil.
Konstantin Kosachev, the top foreign policy official of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the vote had not been about the quality of the performances: “Music lost, because victory clearly did not go to the best song, and the contest lost because political attitudes prevailed over fair competition.”
The trouble with this is that if Ukraine hadn't won, Australia would have won anyway, and Russia would still just have come in second. I think Elena Drapeko might want to add "the west thinks we're really whiny bad losers, too."

Perhaps the loudest independent voice to chime in was Neil Clark, who ventured a scorching attack on Eurovision:
RIP Eurovision, 1956-2016
"Independent" in this sense is "in a piece he wrote for RT, the Putin-sponsored Russian news channel.

You might be wondering who Neil Clark is:
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger[...] He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia.
Iran's Press TV. Putin's Russia Today. Murdoch's Sky News.

His biography also proudly states:
His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com
And it certainly can - and let's not suggest there's anything a little desperate about trumpeting "award winning" when that award was the UK category in the 2007 weblog awards. It shows that Neil is not a stranger to the world of public acclamation, thereby making him the perfect expert here.

So, Neil, why is this the end of Eurovision?
Mark the date. Saturday May 14, 2016, the day the music died and a song contest whose well-intentioned original aim of national harmony has become the latest front in the Western elite’s obsessional and relentless new Cold War against Russia.
Letts have confirmed that next year's diaries will include those words printed next to May 14th.
A blatantly political song by Ukraine - which should not have been allowed in the contest in the first place as it clearly broke the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘No Politics’ rules - was declared the ‘winner’ of the Eurovision Song Contest, even though the country which got the most votes from the general public was Russia.
Winner in quotes, there, because it wasn't the real winner simply because the rules stated that the general public and jury votes were equally weighted in deciding the winner.
What helped Ukraine ‘win’ were the ‘national juries’ panels of so-called ‘music industry professionals’ who were given 50 percent of the votes and who only put Russia in joint fifth place, with 81 fewer points than Ukraine.
The juries were made up of such puppets, you'll note, they don't just have to be put into quotes, but also require the stress that these are so-called music industry professionals.

The trouble is, the list of jurors shows that they are actually music industry professionals - in that they have jobs where they make a living connected to the production, promotion or distribution of music. Perhaps Neil meant to deploy his condescension against the idea that the jurors were independent, or successful, or well-known, or respected. Those are matters of debate. That they are music industry professionals, though, is a fact.

Still, Neil doesn't have time for that pesky fact-checking. We're talking about something as serious as a stolen election here:
What we saw last night, as some on Twitter have commented, was a replay of the 2000 US Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, when Gore got the most votes, but the neocon-backed Bush made it to the White House. The Establishment may give us plebs a say, but it has mechanisms to make sure that it gets the result it most desires.
Neil's whole piece seems to be based on the idea that Eurovision had a desperate desire to haul the show out to Kiev for next year. If the "establishment" had really wanted to rig things, it would have engineered an Australia win which would have allowed the site of next year's contest to be picked to give a less inconvenient and expensive show.
The prospect of a Russian Eurovision win and next year’s contest being held in Moscow certainly seems to have caused great panic in Western Establishment circles.
Sweetie, we've established that David Cameron needs someone to whisper Rita Ora song titles in his ear; the thought that he's sitting in a COBRA meeting panicking about the bookies' favourite for Eurovision is a bit of a stretch.
We’ve already got the next football World Cup scheduled to be held in Russia in 2018- an event which has come under attack from Russophobes who are calling for boycotts or for the tournament to be transferred; having Eurovision in Russia as well would clearly be too much for them.
These angry Russophobes, you'll recall, ensured that Russia didn't get to host the 2009 contest. Except, of course, they didn't, and the official Eurovision write-up of Moscow's last contest is suitably breathless:
They organised one of the biggest contest in the history as for example, a total of 1/3 of the world’s LED screens were at the arena during the event!
For Neil, though, this isn't about Eurovision. It's about Syria. Yes, Syria:
For daring to resist Western regime change plans in Syria and elsewhere, Russia should be sanctioned and isolated and not be hosting international events watched by millions of people around the world!
An unnamed "Eurovision source" told the Daily Mirror that the EBU was worried about a Russia victory, and that's good enough for Neil:
We heard earlier that the European Broadcasting Union was very worried about Russia winning Eurovision 2016 and by jove, they did everything they could to prevent that from happening. It wasn’t just the voting system – with ‘national juries’ used to skew public opinion...
Except the changes to the voting system were announced long before it became clear that Russia had a half-decent entry.

But what other sly tricks did the EBU have to hand?
it was also the running order, in which Jamala, the Ukrainian contestant, was given a prime Number 21 slot to sing ‘1944’.

In modern Eurovision contests, in which there are so many countries taking part, singing towards the end of the show is usually a major advantage.

Would Jamala have done as well if she’d been asked to go on fifth? I very much doubt it.
Russia, then, had their chances ruined by performing at 18th, finishing a full seven minutes before Ukraine began.

It's worth noting that if going on later meant a massive advantage, the UK - who played last-but-one - should have done better than trotting in at 24th.
In the end, the EBU got the result they wanted. But in doing so they have destroyed the contest. Eurovision has for long been plagued by bloc voting - in which countries vote for their neighbours - but what we saw last night was something different altogether. The contest has never been so blatantly political and the agenda so obvious.
So, Neil appears to be relatively sanguine about the idea that countries may vote strongly for their friends next door, but outraged if there's a friendly leg-up given to a country with which no borders are shared.
Genuine Eurovision fans, who believe the contest should simply be about voting for the best song regardless of what one thinks of that country politically, are appalled at what happened.
Are they, though, Neil? Are they? Genuine Eurovision fans spend the contest comparing contestants to morphed members of the XX. When Russia were doing their thing, our Eurovision party was too busy giggling that he appeared to be singing while pooping in a giant ice toilet to have been assembling a critique of Russian policy on EU expansion.
Take the voting of the UK ‘national jury’. Britain’s ‘music industry professionals’ gave 10 points to Ukraine, but none to a Russian song which the general public liked best. Bias? Perish the thought, old chap ! I’m sure Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond heartily approved of the panel’s conclusions.
If the UK was really trying to rig things, why would they have given their 12 to, erm, Georgia?

The idea of Philip Hammond sitting up late on Saturday, waiting for a call from Sean McGee to confirm that the judges had done their bit for The Queen; replacing a telephone receiver with a satisfied smile is delicious, isn't it?
As I’ve noted on OpEdge before, the British public doesn’t share the elite’s anti-Russian prejudices and this was reflected in the results of the public vote - in which Russia came fourth - ahead of Ukraine.
Yes. There's no reason why a popular vote would reflect that of an expert panel. That's why they use a mixture of the two, Neil.
The disconnect between national juries and the general public was seen in many other countries too.
Yes. That's not unusual, Neil. Have you ever watched... well, have you ever watched television? Have you ever, for example, seen the way the judges on Strictly award sets of results that aren't matched by the results of the telephone voting? It's not because Len is part of a massive conspiracy against minor EastEnders cast members; it's because professional judges are watching out for different things compared with people on the sofa.

Hang on, Neil's gone over to the chalkboard. He's writing numbers up:
The Serbian national jury gave 12 points to Ukraine, but the Serbian people voted for Russia. Israel’s national jury gave no points to Russia but 12 to Ukraine, the Israeli public by contrast put Russia second. It’s also worth pointing out that Ukraine public also put Russia first- showing that anti-Russian hostility is in the country is very much elite-driven.
But, hey, you don't have to take his word for it. He's got an independent witness:
Those who thought Eurovision was about voting for the best song were left scratching their heads after last night’s conclusion.

Paddy Power – who in common with other bookmakers had Russia as the red-hot favorite, spoke for millions when he tweeted

How did this song win? Rubbish
Sweetly, Neil appears to not only believe that there's a person called Paddy Power, but that Paddy Power himself sits composing tweets deep into the night.
The answer to Paddy’s question was provided succinctly by Dan Eccles ‘Politics init’.

While Russians will understandably feel cheated – in one way what happened last night was good as it shows to everyone the limits of democracy in the West.
Yeah, up until that point everyone thought democracy was perfect, but then suddenly they went "hey, if a hybrid system of a jury panel and a popular phone vote where anyone can dial in as many votes for as many participants as they please, how can we still have faith in our Parish Council elections?" and went out to smash up the graves of all the Chartists.
People have to be seen to be given a voice – but to make sure the result is not one that elites don’t like ‘blocks’ have to be put in place.
Oddly, Neil doesn't seem to be that bothered that for the vast bulk of Eurovision history, the people had no voice at all and it was all decided in smokey back rooms.

Hang about, though, he's about to make this about, erm, the US Democratic party:
In the US, the peoples candidate Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton in the race to get the Democratic nomination, but even if he does catch Hillary the Hawk, the candidate of Wall Street and the military/industrial complex, there’s the unelected ‘Super Delegates’ - of whom Clinton is said to have the support of 524, compared to Sanders’ 40.
Yeah - take that, Hillary. Except currently the number of votes cast for Hillary is 12,524,845 and for Bernie is 9,426,517, so she's ahead on the popular vote, too. Maybe the Dems let her go on and do her song second, though, Neil?
Last summer in Britain, the antiwar left-winger Jeremy Corbyn swept to victory in the election to be Labour leader, having been supported in large numbers by the party’s ordinary members and supporters. The party’s Blairite Establishment though were clearly rattled by this outbreak of genuine democracy and plans are afoot to change Labour’s leadership rules to give MPs - who are far to the right of the membership - more say in electing the leader
Yeah, that nasty old Labour elite, who brought in the rules which allowed one member one vote in the first place.
What elites in ‘democratic’ US and Europe are terrified of is people being allowed to decide things without any undemocratic ‘blocks’ being in place.
Neil, sweetie, this is a piece about the Eurovision song contest. The only people who care about who wins the Eurovision Song Contest by the following Monday are compilers of trivia questions, people who book guests for reality shows, and - it turns out - Putin.
If the plebs, after all the brainwashing and pro-Establishment propaganda, do happen to vote the ‘wrong way’ then they’re told they simply have to vote again - as the Irish were told when they refused to support the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in 2008. And does anyone seriously doubt that if the British do decide to vote for Brexit on the 23rd, the EU won’t try to get the result reversed?
Even Neil, it seems, has lost interest in the Eurovision by this point, and has instead gone into some sort of Rik From The Young Ones/Nigel Farage mash-up.
Perhaps David Cameron - if he watched Eurovision last night - will actually change the terms of a referendum so that an appointed ‘national jury’ of ‘experts’ will have a 50 percent say in the result.
Ha ha ha. Do you see? WAKE UP SHEEPLE.
If Eurovision had been decided by the popular vote alone then Russia and not Ukraine would have been crowned winner last night. Thank god for the super delegates, oh sorry, ‘music industry professionals’, who made sure that a ‘nightmare’ result for the Russophobic Western establishment was avoided. It may ‘only’ be a song contest but the result was clearly of great importance to some people.
Yes. Had the vote been decided in a way that it never has been during the 60 years of its history, the outcome would have been different. In much the same way that if the 'Premiership' was decided by a public vote instead of 'scores' on the 'pitch', Manchester United would be going to Europe next season.

The real problem with Neil's piece, though, is that the number of points awarded to winner of the popular vote wasn't predetermined. It would have been possible - quite easily - for a large enough vote on the phones to have powered Russia from its position to the top of the poll. (You only have to look at how Poland bounced up the list when the public votes were added in to see how that works.)

Still, someone writing for the Kremlin-funded Russia Today should be taken seriously when they suggest a vote has been rigged. Judging by the Crimea referendum, it's an area the Kremlin knows a thing or two about. And that vote was rather more significant than a pop beauty parade.


Azealia Banks issues half-apology written by her PR team

You'll recall that last time we came across Azealia Banks, the Zac Goldsmith of pop had taken to Twitter to call Zayn Malik a "curry scented bitch".

Well, her PR team have found enough space between updating their LinkedIn profiles to get an apology of sorts out via Instagram.

Instagram might seem an odd choice, but it's one of the few social networks Banks is welcome on at the moment.

How has it taken so long for this apology to appear? It turns out being racist and homophobic is something you have to spend some time thinking about:

Now that the immediacy of the infamous incident has worn off, I've had some time to decompress & take a more rational assessment of things.
You just know you're being set up for a bullshit empty apology-shaped hole when the person won't even mention what they're supposedly sorry for.

But, yeah, you've had the best part of a week to "rationally assess" attacking someone using racist and homophobic language. What did you come up with?
I want to extend my sincerest apologies to the world
Not specifically to Zayn, the man she insulted, you'll note, but - hey - he's part of the world, right?
Employing racial/sexual slurs/stereotypes in attempts to make fun of or degrade another person or group is not fair or fun for anyone
To be honest, Azealia, you did look like you were having a lot of fun doing it while it was happening.
Allowing my anger to get the best of me, I’ve managed to insult millions of people without reason. And for that I give my deepest apologies.
Ah, so it wasn't Azealia's fault, really; it was just that she got angry she turned into a racist homophobic shit. She's kind of a Hulk/Trump hybrid, it turns out.

And the whole "curry-scented" thing? Why, that wasn't meant to be insulting at all. It's just good old fashioned humour:
She said she was repeating a joke from her native New York – where nearly half of cab drivers were born in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan – that taxis smelled like curry.

“I feel compelled to clear the air with curry itself because that’s a bridge I don’t want to burn. I still want to be able to enjoy it freely without guilt or judgment,” she wrote.
So, during this heartfelt apology to the world in general, the only entity which got a direct sorry was a foodstuff. Maybe she meant it was heartburn apology.

Trouble with this is that the "joke" that taxis smell of curry is racist in itself, so you're only saying that you were being derivatively unpleasant rather than creatively unpleasant. And as Zayn isn't actually a taxi, neither the joke nor the explanation makes sense anyway.

Doesn't really work as an apology, does it?


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Tumblr speaks

http://amywiliams.tumblr.com/post/144390517611/welovesandalwood-idgafoskitten-so-far


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016: The liveblog

It's that time of the year again, with an additional element for the liveblog in 2016: I'm jetlagged to hell. We've already had the first broken glass of the evening.

But, if I stay awake and manage not to cut myself to ribbons, we'll be back in about half an hour to try and make sense of whatever's happening in Stockholm.

7.50pm
If tonight's show doesn't start with a ten minute interpretative dance in memory of Terry Wogan, I'll be vexed. ("And there's the dancers representing the Eastern bloc, dancing together while the UK dancer dances alone, at the edge, unwatched and unloved."

8.00
"Scenes of repetitive flashing lights" - the least of the threats, surely?

The sound seems a bit scrappy already.

Hand-folded flags. Never let it be said the Swiss don't make an effort.

8.02
They're coming out on stage like a mix between the finals of Next Top Model and the Olympics opening ceremony.

What are these people wearing? It's like sex meringues.

The guys at Fuze who have brought this to the US must be sitting at home now wondering if they'll have jobs in the morning. "Nobody warned us that they'd be shopping for costumes at Lady GaGa's outlet mall, boss."

8.05
It's time to meet the hosts. Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede. The former last year's winner, the latter "a comedian and dancer". Not entirely sure needing a second string to your bow is the mark of a great comedian. Especially if that string is dancing.

8.10
China AND the US are watching. That's a warning, rather than a statement of pride.

Mans is wearing a wine-waiter's uniform - come from his main job, then. Petra is wearing a glittery curtain. She expresses the hope that this is an event which will bring everyone together. I expect Leave.EU is already sending an angry letter claiming BBC bias.

UK viewers cannot vote by text, for some reason. Presumably because the new voting system is complex enough without also needing 26 short codes as well.

8.11
Mercifully little pre-show business before we get to act one.

Belguim
Laura Tesoro
What's The Pressure

Ooh, the onscreen graphics are brilliant this year.

Laura appears to be doing Another One Bites The Dust.

In fact, this seems to be an as-yet-undiscovered Robin Sparkles track. I hope the robot comes on.

I am always a sucker for space-age silver shorts, though.

There's a speaky bit in the middle, too.

For some reason I'm getting the urge to pop down to the mall.

8.16

Czech Republic
Gabriela Gunčíková
I Stand

The first time they've ever made it through to the Grand Final, apparently.

Ah, they've gone with a mid-80s Bond Theme.

Did she just sing "perky android standing there, you're the one who always cares."

Jesus, this songs already feels like it's been going for three hours.

I can't work out if she's wearing a bustle or I'm being incredibly mean to a woman with a large butt.

8.20

Netherlands
Douwe Bob
Slow Down

Railing against the modern world, says Graham Norton. Judging by the way he looks like just-post-Take-That Robbie Williams, the "modern world" is anything post 1995.

This is the sort of music you'd hear if they tried to make Loretta Lynn into a Disney Princess.

I thought it was mercifully short. But it was just a pause in the middle.

The pause in the middle was the best bit.

8.23

Azerbaijan
Samra
Miracle

Wasn't Samra one of the characters in The Lion King?

She's gone all-out with a nude-look bodysuit that makes it look like she's being attacked by golden snakes, but the song's so forgettable that I can't even remember what it was like and it's still currently playing.

Her backing dancers look like they've made their own costumes with gold spray paint and some old sports locker equipment. Bless.

"Mirror-mirror-miracle". Seriously?


8.28

Hungary
Freddie
Pioneer

Freddie looks like he could be cast as a bad boy in Neighbours.

Oh, there's a massive drum on stage. Chekhov warns us that it's going to be hit before the song is out.

There's also whistling.

Not entirely clear if the high notes are meant to be there, or if Freddie is wearing tight undies.

He sings of the hopes of a million people. A million people are hoping he'll just go away.

He couldn't decide if he was going to tuck his shirt in or not, so it was half-and-half. Kind of a metaphor for the song.

8.32

Italy
Francesca Michielin
No Degree Of Separation

Francesca is 'the slightly alternative one from a US sitcom', but for some reason is doing her song live from Tracy Barlow's flower shop.

Jesus, the shop's flooded. Todd must have left the tap on. Or maybe Phelan broke in and switched all the taps on to frame Todd. That's what's happening.

This is one of those songs which no amount of firm hand-waving can disguise is a bit lightweight.


8.36

Israel
Hovi Star
Made Of Stars

Hovi is also a bit gothy. Not quite Fall Out Boy, more like Background Radiation Kid.

Nice glittery glove-things. Lovely lips. Ponderous, triumphalist emptiness for the song, though.

"We are made of stars. We are. We are. We are." It's like Mrs Doyle crossed with Moby.

8.40

Bulgaria
Poli Genova
If Love Was A Crime

Oh no, she's got something on her teeth. Are there no mirrors backstage?

Outfit is very much second-string Batman villain.

"If love was a crime" this would be community service at best.

This is the best song so far, which shows how thin the field has been so far.

8.43

Sweden
Frans
If I Were Sorry

Graham Norton's just done a sweet thing about Terry Wogan. There was even a catch in his voice.

George Ezra lite. #sorrynotsorry.

A salutary reminder that there are still branches of C&A trading on mainland Europe.

Frans has just used the phrase "the devil in disguise", which is the complete opposite of his outfit, which is more "junior manager on dress-down Friday".

The audience have clapped along, though.

8.50

Germany
Jamie-Lee
Ghost

Tim Burton's The Late Show. Clearly, they're hoping that the elaborate hat will stop people noticing the kinderwhore dress. I swear that hat can pick up shortwave radio.

It feels like something Chvrches might have come up with in a rehearsal room, and probably left there.

8.52

France
Amir
J'ai cherché

We've had a Neighbours bad boy already; Amir is more a Corrie type - the sort of person who'd menace Roys Rolls for two episodes.

I hope he's not going to do the whole thing in a squatting position.

Although for some reason 'a squatting position' suggests how the song might have been written.

I'm sure this has been used to sell mobile phones already, and often.

I think he said he's been looking for us "like a manatee on my soul".

8.56

Poland
Michał Szpak
Color Of Your Life

Ah, it's a Nickelback tribute act. Albeit dressed as a Janet Jackson backing singer.

Sadly, Michal, there's no prize for largest epaulettes in Eurovision.

How's the song? So dull, I'm going to mention instead that the cut of his coat would mean he could poop without taking it off.

"What colour is your life?" he asks, presumably because it intends to drain it.

9.00
Only two and a half hours to go, everybody.

They're doing a 'while the others are watching ads' bit. Mans says it's like being at a football game, "but with more champagne." What football games is he going to where there's any champagne?

9.02

Australia
Dami Im
Sound Of Silence

Australians appeared last year as a one-off, but now aren't leaving. I think we've all had Australian house guests like that.

Let's hope 'sound of silence' is a promise, not a title.

Her dress is a reminder that I need to buy a new large roll of bubble wrap.

Dami says her heart beats with the sound of silence. So, it doesn't beat, then.

She's now being menaced by floating ghostly faces. I'm assuming they're missing kids she's cut off milk cartons.

"Seriously impressive lungs" says Graham. If only it was an offal contest, though.

9.07

Cyprus
Minus One
Alter Ego

Your dad still plays in a rock band with his mates from the post office, then.

Here's a tip: unless you're absolutely sure your track isn't derivative, don't include the line "I've heard it all before" in the lyrics of your Eurovision entry.

The band name isn't miles away from a fair estimate of what their final score will be.



9.12

Serbia
Sanja Vučić ZAA
Goodbye (Shelter)

So this is *serious face* about issues. Which is a bit like turning up at a barbecue to discuss global warming - sure, Al, it's important but we're trying to have a nice time tonight.

They've just mimed a sexual assault as part of the performance. It was even more awkward than the key-change that followed.

9.15

Lithuania
Donny Montell
I've Been Waiting for This Night

A mini-trampoline is promised for this one.

Actually, Al, come back, let's hear some more about the ice caps.

I see Donny has borrowed the white jacket for tonight.

The good news is that Lithuania has finally received copies of Smash Hits from 1982. Maybe they'll get some tapes from the 80s delivered soon, instead of trying to guess what the haircuts sounded like.

9.19

Croatia
Nina Kraljić
Lighthouse

Nina looks a little too pleased with herself. Like someone who carries a book everywhere because "I don't watch too much TV, I like to get my ideas from the source, yeah?"

She's come on stage now. Apparently got tangled in the shower curtain backstage and just had to accept that.

Underneath the shower curtain was some more shower curtain.

This is less lighthouse, more outhouse.

9.23

Russia
Sergey Lazarev
You Are The Only One

The phrase "poodle strudel" might be the best thing that has happened so far this evening.

Bookies favourite, so I'm expecting a lot.

Well, not a lot. It's not a place where you expect a lot.

There's some strange shadow puppet stuff going on behind him, but, oh the lyrics - "thunder and lightning, very exciting". Isn't that Queen?

The interaction with the screen behind him is clever. But there's not as much thought gone into interacting with the screen in front of him.

Sergey has the air of a cheeky chappie. Approach with caution.

9.27

Spain
Barei
Say Yay!

Say yay suggests not too much overtaxing of the lyricists by Spain.

Barei (or is it Kylie from Corrie) does a faux-fall, which might have been more effective if Graham hadn't mentioned it before the song came on.

She feels like a broken mirror. Seven years' bad luck, then.

That was alright, actually.

9.31

"You are watching the Eurovision Song Contest" says Petra. In case you thought this was BBC Two and you were sitting through a modern-dress Shakespeare.

Latvia
Justs
Heartbeat


Justs... no.

He sings like Tina Turner, but with his knob caught in a zipper.

9.36

Ukraine
Jamala
1944

About Stalin's treatment of minorities in the Soviet Era. "Look, Al, just put the pamphlets down there and have a beer. Honestly, we'll read them after the guests have gone."

You can't argue that it's not heartfelt. And to be fair to Ukraine, they don't get many Europe-wide platforms to remind people what cocks Russia are to them.

Worth voting for just to annoy Putin.

9.40

Malta
Ira Losco
Walk On Water

They've sent a pregnant contestant. What's the maternity leave provision like in Valetta?

She looks like a Scouse Mariah Carey tribute act.

This song makes no sense - she can't get enough of our love because she feels like she can walk on water? And she can't get enough of our love, but she can't get us out of her heart? But why would she want to get us out her heart unless she'd had enough of our love?

9.44

Georgia
Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz
Midnight Gold

It's My Sharona in a James Bay hat.

Hold on, one looks like the lead singer of Nowaysis.

I wonder how long they had to beg the director to use mid 70s Top Of The Pops split screen and multiplication techniques before he agreed?

9.48

Austria
ZOË
Loin d'ici

Presumably not the Zoe who did Sunshine On A Rainy Day?

She is so smiley. Look at that smile. She's smiling. SHE IS SO HAPPY. You know like a dog where they've photoshopped a smile on? She's like that. She has a big smile. A massive smile.

Clearly, she's crying inside, like the mother of a thousand children tortured in a war that never ends.

But outside, she has a big smile.

Horrible flesh coloured dress. Something even the cruellest Bridezilla wouldn't have forced on her least-favoured bridesmaid.

The song? Something played during a chase scene in a romcom.

9.52

UK
Joe and Jake
You're Not Alone

Graham says they might be dancing on his face by the end of the song.

I daren't even check the Urban Dictionary for that one.

You'll know this - Ant And Dec doing a theme tune for ITV coverage of the European Cup-Winner's Cup.

Providing Katy Perry doesn't turn up with a lawsuit halfway through, this isn't the worst thing we've done in Europe.

"I feel like I'm dancing in the sky". Over to you, Elton Welsby.

9.56

Armenia
Iveta Mukuchyan
LoveWave

LoveWave sounds like a product that exists solely to be bought as a joke gift for hen nights.

It's Kiss Of The Spiderwoman!

No, scrap that, it's B-and-Q-once.

Armenia very much exploring how firm the softcore porn can be before someone pulls the plug.


10.00
On the button, we're at the end of the music. "Swedish song contest" the new "Swiss watch".

That Jacobi/McKellen bit would have worked better if any of the 200 million viewers had ever seen an ITV sitcom.

10.02
Graham Norton still halfway through explaining the new voting rules, and George Galloway is already filing an official objection with the Electoral Commission.

10.05
Meanwhile, in the real world:


Boris and the Brexit twits are convinced we don't have a voice in Europe. Mate, the EU isn't what not having a say in Europe looks like. THIS is what that looks like:


Although maybe we're being given a subliminal message:


10.10
We're in the green room now. It feels "like a lovefest" says Mans.

Justin Timberlake has arrived. Remember, when asking 'how did Timberlake end up here' he's a man who invested heavily in turning MySpace into the music force it is today.

Mans asks Justin if he's heard of the show before. Justin says he's seen the last two. I'm interpreting that as "my PA sent a DVD with the last two on."

Sweden now mentioning that Abba came from Sweden.

10.15
A four minute guide to 42 years of Swedish music. It's brave enough to include Roxette. Like a truth and reconciliation committee.

10.19
Justin Timberlake. They're clearly thrilled to have him. It's like when your nan gives you a Christmas gift that she thinks is perfect, but it's actually related to a hobby you had five years ago and have long since outgrown.

The reaction isn't great:


It's like a Harry Enfield's self-righteous brothers sketch:
"Timberlake might have won our hearts by emerging from the crush of an imploding boyband with his dignity intact, and his talent undiminished, but if he was to turn up at Eurovision trying to flog his new album, I'd yell OI - TIMBERLAKE - NOOOOOO."

10.25


The lines are still open. Why are they taking so long? Is everyone in Crimea having to share a phone to vote?

10.28
This is the best thing tonight:


10.31
They've got the winner of last year's Junior Eurovision on. Nope, me neither.

10.32
Petra's done a costume change, and is trying a bit of Merkel style scripted sterness.

It's some 'ultimate Eurovision winner' schtick.

This is unprecedented - it's a comedy bit that actually is mildly amusing - "having a DJ s actually thirty years old, but in Eurovision it'll give you a contemporary feel".

I'm going to shift my vote to Sweden. They can be trusted with this shit.

10.38
Hang on a moment, they're doing another comedy bit. It's unwinding a bit.

10.40
The lines are still open. Was there a vote by post option?

Oh. A third comedy bit.

There's a reason why "treble dipping" isn't a thing.

10.44
Petra's just done a gag about her own mortality. Things are getting a bit grim.

The votes are, at long last, closed.

10.45
Mans is now here in his role as last year's winner. It's a bit awkward, coming ten minutes after he'd just sung a song pointing out every cliche in the Eurovision book, that he now is using every cliche in the Eurovision book.

10.49
They've counted the votes. It's about to get real, people.

Petra is talking about "history", like this is going to change the prices of coal and steel in continental Europe.

10.50
Even they bloke in charge seems confused by the new rules.

National jury votes first, them.

Austria - Lorraine Chase apparently dressed in bathroom tiles gives 12 to Australia. Presumably slightly illiterate voters thinking they were voting for themselves.

Iceland has brought a dog. Petra flirts clumsily. 12 to Netherlands.

10.53
Azerbaijan have sent a Butlins hypnotist. 12 to Russia.

San Marino appears to have got Dappy to give their score. 12 to Ukraine.

10.54
Czech Republic's woman has a massive bun on her head. 12 to Sweden.

Ironically, the point of this new voting system is meant to make the outcome less obvious, but this seems all over the place anyway.

Ireland vote for Belgium.

Georgia has just climbed out of her crypt, and mutters something vaguely threatening about Justin Timberlake. 12 to Ukraine.

10.56
Some elaborate hair from Bosnia, and 12 points to Ukraine.

Malta's guy has taken time off from selling real estate. Petra trying to desperately hurry him along. He's not buying. 12 to the UK.

It shows how shit we are at Eurovision that just coming top in one country's votes is treated like a win.

Spain give 12 to Armenia.

Finland's jury vote is delivered by a low-budget Pee Wee Herman tribute act. 12 to Sweden.

Switzerland are fucking whistling. Petra's pissed off. Australia get the 12.

(Sweden didn't think through having the sting played after every jury vote when they're rushing through the votes like this.)

Denmark give 12 to Ukraine.

11.01
France is wearing the H&M version of Jennifer Lawrence's dress from last week. 12 to Italy.

Moldova nail it, though - she's come dressed as Imperial era Timberlake. Nice bit of crossplay. 12 to Ukraine.

(It would help if the sting wasn't constantly threatening to break into Psycho Killer).

Armenia bloke wearing same outfit as Moldova, but not as well - 12 to Ukraine.

A game show host from 1970s Cyprus gives 12 to Russia.

Bulgaria has a red suit split at the shoulders. 12 to Armenia.

11.04
Is that velvet being rocked by The Netherlands? I think it's velvet. 12 to Australia.

Latvia has sent a tourist punk. 12 to Ukraine. He might have been doing fake sign language.

Israel next. But they're not there. Petra tries to fill - "anything can still happen". There's a note of rising panic in her voice.

11.07
Australia are leading at this stage - so, a tiny Union Jack is at the top of the scoreboard, which hasn't happened this century. That's something.

11.08
NOW it's Israel. Bill Nye doing their votes for them, by the look of it. 12 to Ukraine.

The voting, clearly, is just to piss off Putin.

Belarus... what are you on, Belarus? I think he's high. 12 to Russia, of course.

Germany have come as a 1970s air hostess. 12 to Israel. Ken Livingstone's piping up "that's interesting, of course, because..."

Russia have the best dress so far - your Gazprom dollars well spent, Putin. 12 to Armenia.

11.11
Norway have had a little wine, haven't they? A small wine. Just to take the edge off. 12 to Italy.

Australia have got their head stuck in a lightshade. 12 to Belguim.

Belguim, represented by The Great Soprendo. 12 to Australia.

11.14
Richard Osman. 12 to Georgia. Doesn't even explain what he means by a country.

Croatia give 12 to Australia.

Greece are just kicking back and just enjoying things, yeah? 12 to Russia.

Lithuania have the largest hair ever seen on television. 12 to Australia.

Graham Norton starting to suggest that the new voting system might not have preserved the surprise.

Serbia 12 to Ukraine.

Macedonia haven't bothered to get dressed up, then. 12 to Ukraine.

Albania talks about people who love Albanian music. Not the largest of markets, I suspect. 12 to Australia.

11.18
Estonia give 12 to Sweden.

Ukraine HAVE dressed up. Dressed up as Christopher Biggins, but at least they've dressed up. 12 to Lithuania.

Italy were cruel to you in High School. 12 to Spain.

Poland's massive earrings can't distract from their 12 to Ukraine.

11.21
Slovenia does some DJing at weekends. 12 to Ukraine.

Hungary, severe in canary yellow, like an Anglia Tonight host from 1983. 12 to Australia.

Montenegro is possibly voting through Moby's less successful brother. 12 to Malta.

Final jury is from Sweden. She's popular. 12 to Australia.

11.24
So probably Australia have this in the bag, but there's still the popular vote. Which might change things. But almost certainly won't.

11.26
Now, they're going to split open the popular vote.

The Czechs got bugger all.

The UK got 6.

So that's all over for the UK, then. Not the worst result, not the worst of recent years, but still... pretty shitty overall.

It's already clear that it's possibly Ukraine but probably Australia.

It does show that the juries don't really share the taste of the popular audience at all, I guess.

It looks like the presentation is falling apart a bit, judging by the rictus grins on the faces of Man and Petra.

11.32
They're looking a bit more relaxed now. Have over-run already, though.

Hasn't stopped them dragging out the four highest scores.

Ooh, Australia have only come 4th in popular vote. That's interesting.

Poland, who were hard bottom on jury votes, comes third in popular vote. Really?

Ukraine v Russia in final two for popular vote.

11.36
Ukraine come second in pop vote but overhaul Australia.

Russia win popular vote, but just end up in third.


Okay, then - the scoring system didn't seem that interesting until the very end.

It's a pity, though, as if Australia had won you know we'd have got to host this year.

Tin hats on, then, we're off to Ukraine next year.

11.40
Let's not forget who the real winners are tonight: data journalists:



Jamala a little bit Colin Welland with her bellowing of "UKKKKRAIIINE".

Petra says it's the greatest week she's ever had, although during the jury votes she appeared to age about three years.

The disparity between popular and jury votes does make us more convinced than ever that the juries are selected from people spotted buying CDs in motorway service stations.

Finally, though, here's a selfie from a Eurovision fan:


Do you know the way to Knotty Ash?

The Dionne Warwick biopic sounds like it might be, erm, singular:

[It was] announced at a Cannes Film Festival press conference this morning; with Warwick herself confirming the project. The soul icon also revealed to the crowd that [Cilla] Black – who died last August – “stole” her music, and was her “nemesis”.
Yeah. Cilla Black as the evil genius in a movie. I suppose at least she has a name that sounds like a half-arsed scriptwriter would give to such a character.

Can this project sound any more like something which will never see the light of day?
Lady Gaga has been cast as Cilla Black
Yes. Yes, it can.


The passing of the days is captured in art

From the equally soon-to-be-gone Our Valued Customers:


Twittergem: Spandau Ballet

They don't do it while you wait; it's stictly an Only When You Leave business.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yacht: coming last in the boat race

Surely the weakest link in Yacht's tiresome sex tape hoax was the fundamental problem that - for their story to have worked - you would have to have believed there was a market for a Yacht sex tape in the first place?


Azeailia Banks: Pretty unpleasant

It's not simply that Azeailia Banks managed to cram quite so much racism and homophobia into her tweets to Zayn Malik; it's the way she discovered to double-down on them:

Throughout the day Banks has continued to argue with people on Twitter about her rant adding even more offensive content to her stream of tweets.

The rapper even went live on Periscope where she continued her heavily racist rant against Malik, saying how he had been kicked out of One Direction for being a "brown b****".
It's to Rinse's credit that they've uninvited her from the Born & Bred festival:
After increasing calls upon the festival's organisers to remove Banks, who was due to headline the festival's second day, from the bill, they have now responded with a statement saying: "We have decided to cancel Azealia Banks' appearance at Rinse | Born & Bred Festival. Rinse | Born & Bred is a celebration of rave culture and has been created for EVERYONE. We celebrate inclusivity and equality."

Her name has now been removed from the festival's website and replaced by a blank space.
After the over-crammed suitcase of shit Banks has been pushing into the crowds this last day or so, a blank space has never been more welcome.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eurovision: NME tumbles over Timberlake

Oh, NME. Oh, NME. Your story on Eurovision is poor:

Justin Timberlake will become the first ever act who isn't a competitor to play the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm on 14 May.
.

Every year, they have guest performers. Conchita Wurst, for example, wasn't a contestant last year but still performed.

I'd advise you to stick to what you're good at but... not entirely sure what that is anymore.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Beyonce: Turns out Houston police sirens go waaaah, waaaah, waaaah

So Beyonce played a gig in Houston last night, and protestors turned up.

Did the police take steps to ensure the protest remained peaceful?

Well, not really. It was the police who were protesting:

Members of the Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (Cops) stood a mile away from the NRG Stadium and shone a blue light towards the venue.

They were protesting about Beyonce's Formation video, which they claim is "anti-police".
This is "anti-police" in the sense of "how dare you criticise the behaviour of any police anywhere", of course. There's a lot of that about, and it doesn't really do anyone any good. If COPS (seriously? That's the name of your protest gang?) want to ensure that the police get the respect they deserve, they might want to think about shining their blue light in the other direction.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Science explains Freddie Mercury

Science doesn't just listen to old Queen records. Science tries to understand old Queen records.

Science has decided that Freddie Mercury was basically like those Tuvan throat singers:

Those guys are so flamboyant.

Science doesn't say that Fred ever quite matched them for subharmonics, but science says he came close:

Subharmonics help "in creating the impression of a sound production system driven to its limits, even while used with great finesse," write the Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers in the Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology journal. "These traits, in combination with the fast and irregular vibrato, might have helped create Freddie Mercury's eccentric and flamboyant stage persona."
I think the outfits might have helped a little.

Science is now working on trying to fathom out Brian May.