Friday, August 02, 2002

SURELY THERE'S NOT A PERSON ALIVE:who doesn't hear the phrase "Huey Lewis and the News returns to the concert circuit" as anything other than a blood-curdling threat?

WELL, WE CAN SEE HOW YOU'D BE SCARED TO GO HOME: Or, let's measure the perception gap. George Michael told Tonight With Trevor McDonald that his Walk The Dog video was having him branded an Al Qaeda sympathiser in the US. Really? Because KSBW seemed merely to be concerned that Bush was wearing a thong in the cartoon.

I COLLECT, I REJECT: The never dull world of shit rock 'collectables' brings you Genesis Phonecards

GROUND OASIS: Everyone's least favourite shamblers Oasis are having bother - first up, the union for workers on Australian planes are calling for the Brothers Grunt to be banned from flying across the continent, after their last visit there when their cock of the school antics went down badly. Secondly, Legitimate Manchester Businessmen have been making the band offers of a "can't refuse" nature - supposedly threatening to kidnap Liam if the boys didn't take them on as protection. As if - who the hell would want that whiney twat locked up in their broom closet? And even if they had grabbed him - how bothered would Noel be at losing his own blood Ridgeley?
Oasis rumpus [ITV] - almost as unbelievable as ITV having a news service on its website

TYING TOGETHER SOME THEMES: Talking of (i) three piece girlbands with new members and (ii) pisspoor autobiographies, can you wait for the Atomic Kitten biography, Hopefully titled 'So far so good' (we'd have gone with 'Be kind to us when we're gone'), as someone on Popbitch pointed out, the official blurb is promising that Lil, Natasha and Jenny will "exclusively recall how it all started." Now, since Kerry Katona was bounced out the band halfway through their chart career, Jenny's memory of the start is going to be interested but a quick look at the google cache for the OMD website records clearly that Natasha wasn't around at the start (when the band was still called Automatic Kitten) either. In fact, save yer money - this is how it all began:

More news on Andy McCluskey's new project: The girl band formerly known as The Automatic Kittens have now been rechristened Atomic Kitten. Andy, Stuart and colleague Martin O'Shea were in London last week meeting with various record companies and generating quite a bit of interest.
- that was from the 23rd March 1999; Natasha joined in May '99.
The thing is, there probably is a wonderful book to be written about the making of Atomic Kitten, and McCluskey is a rather fine spinner of tales, so the true story has the potential to be a great addition to the rock shelf of your local library. And while there's still a possibility the actual book will have the girls saying "the songs and music and contract were there, we were just bought wonderbras and slotted in there", we're guessing it won't be like that. We'd recommend Ronnie Spector's Be My Baby in its stead.

I'M GOING OUTSIDE...: Can it really be true that in genuine "My dad said he was going for a packet of fags - that was fifteen years ago" style, Siobhan Sugababe's leave taking of the band was merely to announce she was nipping to the loo? Made worse by the way she took her - still unended piss break - the day before a big show in Japan. Obviously, in terms of doing a runner, this is right up there with Stephen Fry's "I think I've left the iron on" departure from Cell Mates, although not quite in Richey Manic's league. Quite wonderful.
Where are you, baby? [BBC] - perhaps the silicon chip inside her head couldn't be switched to 'Overload' any more?

THE GOOD THING ABOUT DYING? THE POSTHUMOUS AWARDS: Hey, getting into the plane with a coked-up pilot might turn out to be a smart career move for Aaliyah after all, judging by the nominations for the Soul Train - ahem - Lady of Soul Awards - certainly the Tragic Death must have helped bark up votes for the frankly disappointing Rock The Boat in the Soul or Rap song of the year category. Aaliyah managed to pull the second-highest number of nominations despite being dead for half the period covered (we can only assume Lisa Left Eye's death wasn't tragic enough) and is only beaten by Ashanti, who can't have hurt her votes by telling der spiegel how much she likes the thought of men "spicing up" their sex lives by looking at pictures of her in her skimpies. That, of course, is 'spicing up' as in 'pumping harder' and 'sex lives' as in 'right hand, pink marigold glove'.

Clearly, Christian Aguilera's real ambition was to be Tiffany

A RADIO PRIMER: We tend to harp on about Clear Channel on these pages a lot, and some of you might wonder why someone sat comfortably in England, gorging his ears on the BBC, gives a shit about this all - or indeed spends as much time worrying about the RIAA rather than the local BPI. Several reasons, not least of which is I know dozens of Americans who deserve better. Then, of course, there's the way America dominates recorded entertainment so much that the fallout from battles in the US invariably settles on the UK. Finally, if I swivel this seat round, I can see Liverpool Empire, which is owned by Clear Channel and one of the company's toes in the water in the UK (they also own Adshel, the bus shelter people) - and with the shake-up in British media that's going to come with the launch of OfCom, it's likely that they'll own more and more swathes of British media.
See, the new regulatory body for British Media is going to replace all the current bodies like the Broadcasting Standards Commission and the Radio Authority. The appointment of Lord Currie to head up the office shows the way the system is going to work in the future. He's an economist with no background in programme making, so it's unlikely that Ofcom will be as quick to adjudicate on small details of content as they will be on issues of ownership. Now, this means that there's a prospect of a lighter touch over what's said and shown on air - a good thing, from an artistic point of view - but that very leniency may prove to be the thing that ruins radio. Economically, see, allowing Clear Channel to take control of the bigger part of commercial radio in any or many cities makes sense, even if culturally it could be a disaster. And what do you think an economist is going to put first?
Anyway, if you want to fret about a future where you start to wish DLT was still around, there's a couple of excellent primers - first, has collated all its stuff on Clear into a separate section; then, if you're hungry for more, you can mull the implications of the Communications Bill in seven shades of depth at the Guardian site

R U2 UP 4 IT?: Oh, I don't know whether to be scared, or very, very scared - but if you have a strong constitution and can take the thought of U2 fans talking about having sex, that's exactly what's happening here. Now, I've watched enough US teen shows to know there's someone for everyone, and all that, and it's probably a better use of their time than discussing Bono's rubbish sunglasses, but it makes the back of my neck all prickly to think of people sitting around trying to work out if Bono or the Edge would be more put-off their stroke by the sound of the former singing...

FIFTEEN SPIRIT: MTV have added up all the videos they've played in the fifteen years since they first launched in the UK, and are probably somewhat surprised to discover that Smells Like Teen Spirit is tops. The rest of the chart is kind of odd, too - Wonderwall rather than J-Lo? And what the hell is that Soundgarden track doing there? Third most played video of all time? The full line up is
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana.
2. Wonderwall - Oasis.
3. Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden.
4. Sabotage - Beastie Boys.
5. Loser - Beck.
6. Buddy Holly - Weezer
7. Ironic - Alanis Morissette.
8. Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai.
9. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve.
10. Losing My Religion - REM.
11. No Scrubs - TLC.
12. Are You Gonna Go My Way? - Lenny Kravitz.
13. Don't Speak - No Doubt.
14. The Real Slim Shady - Eminem.
15. Frozen - Madonna.
- all of which goes to show that MTV is - far from being the taste of youth - the preserve entirely of middle-aged men who still think they're hip and people who buy their CDs from those adverts on late night telly. If I'd have been MTV, I'd either have fudged this chart and lied, or else abandoned it altogether. Next time anyone tries to talk about MTV to you, you should look at them and say "the station that played Frozen more often than Beautiful Stranger." Or maybe "the station that played Lenny Kravitz a lot."

A SLIM PAPERBACK: The Sun reckons that Geri Halliwell's second autobiography is being held back in order to avoid going head-to-head with fellow former famous person Mel B's book. We tend to think maybe its been put back until she does something to justify a second volume - "I'm a not very attractive porn model. I'm a not very tuneful singer. I'm a not very loved celebrity" hardly stretched to fill the first volume, did it?

ONE WATER-TRAGEDY BAND REPLACES ANOTHER: In the wake of Neil Primrose's almost cartoon-like dive into the shallow end, the V2002 bill has been rejigged. Chemical Brothers move to main stage to take over Travis' slot, while the gap on the second stage is now going to be completed by the pie-tastic Manic Street Preachers - making a Welsh headline monopoly, as the fantastically dull Stereophonics are doing the top table on the main.
We'd imagine that Manics fans who had cheerfully been ignoring the chance to buy tickets are gnawing their legs off right now.

PRESSPLAY IMPROVES SLIGHTLY: The not-that-impressive Pressplay is introducing a (more expensive, natch) service which will allow people who subscribe to the Sony/Universal service to actually keep music they've paid for. You have to tip your hat to the geniuses at Pressplay who've taken half a year to work out the difference between running a radio station and selling music downloads. But the new service is still shit - every one, five or ten times you download something, you have to cough up extra cash. It ends up looking fiddly, unflowing and greedy. Hey, music executives - here's a hint for you: MAKE IT CHEAP, MAKE IT SIMPLE. Then, you might just have a system that works.
Pressplay sort-of admits problems [BBC] - you mean people might want to hear Sony tracks more than once?

EYES AND VIOLAS: Bright Eyes, led by the prettiest boy Conor Oberst, are planning a September tour with that mainstay of rock-trying-harder, a fifteen piece orchestra. Conor says that he thinks it might be a one-time attempt to capture the sound of the Lifted album in a live context. We just want to see the rider demands.
Rolling Stone has the dates - great for americans

Thursday, August 01, 2002

KATE MAIL: The mystery of the stagnant Primals site has been solved - the band have quit for leaving their old home stood as a kind of monument. To get the new site off to a good start, the band have put up a realaudio of Some Velvet Morning, the much-muttered-about Kate Moss collaboration. It's an okay piece - if a little lightweight compared to the other stuff around from the new album, but it makes it clear why Kate hasn't bothered recording anything before. Jesus, if they'd taken her any lower in the mix it would have had to have been marketed as 'Primal Scream almost featuring Kate Moss.'

TWO HUGE BLOKES WITH ODD FACIAL HAIR ARGUING OVER BANANARAMA LYRICS: Now that Sean Hughes has quit Never Mind the Buzzcocks, they're getting Bill Bailey in to take his place. Which isn't a bad piece of casting - you know they'd have fallen for sticking Phil Jupitus on, the way he takes every vacant seat on TV panel games, were it not for him already being on the other team - but we'll reserve judgement until the series returns.
Stand-up comedian joins Buzzcocks quiz [Ananova] - that's the actual headline, which must upset Mark Lamarr and Phil Jupitus somewhat

BUY SOME BOSS: A nifty piece on mediaguardian by Stefano Hatfield looking at the launch of the new Bruce album, which is not so much an album launch as full-blown happening. You take the Boss, you reunite him with the E-Street band; mix in a couple of September 11th (and it didn't take that long to change from The Day That Changed The World into Marketing Opportunity, did it?) and boom, you've got a media juggernaut with more free media than you can shake a stick at. Add to this the news that Springsteen's parent company Sony is hiring people to stand about having conversations about how great its new mobile phone is, and you've probably got a pretty good snapshot of the twenty first century's habit of dressing advertising up as anything but...

ALL APOLOGIES: As you'll have noticed, in the last couple of weeks we've been overhauling the look of the site here, and - as a result of us messing about in stuff we shouldn't be - for some time (we don't know how long) PC users have been having their pages served up with a font the size of Barry White. Hopefully that's all been fixed now, but thanks a plenty to Swall who warned us about this. We owe you a pint.

YOU WEAR IT WELL: Dressy Bessy are in the UK, playing gigs (as you'd expect with a band, I suppose)
August 1st - Oxford - The Zodiac
2nd - Reading - Rising Sun (Happy Robots Festival)
3rd - Liverpool - The Slaughterhouse
4th - London - Water Rats Theatre Track & Field Night
6th - London - The Spitz w/ Beachwood Sparks
7th - BBC Radio 1 John Peel Show
8th - Norwich - The Ferryboat Inn
- then they go to Sweden. You can find more out about them on - yes - their website

YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE NEW KYLIE - YOU MIGHT GET THE NEW MAGGIE: Grundig have assured the Electoral Commission that they don't own rights to the name MP3, and so the MP3 party has been allowed to register itself as proper political party. Their leader Ruslan Fedorovsky suggests that MP3 users are already his constiuency; the party has simplification at its heart and believes its name will also make it incredibly attractive to young people. It's true, of course, that MP3 is a sexy term at the moment, and so using it for party name is a bit like calling yourself the Party Party. And the concept of broadband throughout the UK is one that it would be churlish to object to. But beyond the glitz, what the MP3 Party actually seems to have is a really nasty Libertarian right-wing programme. Aiming to knock out laws (to rid the body politic of 'complications'), they propose dumping prisoners in Russia and bringing back the death penalty ("especially for murder of children.") Populist, certainly - let's just hope they're never popular...
Official site - gotta love the audiobooksforfree URL

VENUES IN CRISIS: Liverpool's Neptune Theatre is threatened with closure, despite being owned by the same people pushing Liverpool's bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008 - the city's council. According to the campaign to save the venue - which plays host to everything from gigs to one of the few Easter pantomimes in the country - there's no real reason for the place to close. The only municipal theatre in the city, and a much-admired one at that, hasn't noticeably been performing badly, and even if the Neptune wasn't running at a profit, there are many who'd argue that funding a place where local people can put on a show, or even Ian McNabb can get a gig might not be a better use of public money than pouring thousands into a bid for a year of questionable value. It's possible the Neptune's sin is to be located in the heart of the "creative" quarter of town, and as such worth a lot more if it gets sold off and redeveloped as apartments or a theme bar - certainly, only Wetherspoons could come up with a better use for the space. The killer detail, of course, is the story currently circulating in the city that the local press haven't actually reported the threatened closure of the Neptune because they fear that publicising it would harm Liverpool's chances for 2008. Maybe they'll galvanise themselves into action after the title has been decided.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED: Bush should really think twice about burying all that nuclear waste in Nevada. Because no matter how deep you bury stuff, you'll always find someone with a spade wanting to dig it up. Take, for example, Sonia. In career terms, the chirpy scouse songbird (copyright: every tabloid, ever) is in a shaft three miles under the most bleak, unpopulated corner of the state of Nevada. But that hasn't stopped someone launching a campaign to engineer her comeback.
It's worth looking at the page, though - the photo could be where Andy McCluskey got the idea for Atomic Kitten from...

FOR THOSE ABOUT TO SPAM, THEY SALUTE YOU: Some people love junk mail. Some people cut articles out of free newspapers. Some tape adverts. For this sort of person, and the sort who read our SpamBand rants and goes "Hey, what's his deal?" there's apparently now a Yahoo Group that actually begs members of street teams to do their dark arts. It's called Multimedia-Madness and if it sounds like your sort of thing, can we interest you in some python lard?

UNLOVED?: Apparently, is toying with the idea of closing up for good. The cab-themed indie/dance site was one of the earliest of its type online, but we must admit it'd been quite a while since we last happened by there. Hope it keeps going; it's currently doing a members survey to find out if it's worth giving the site the kick up the ass it's probably in need of...

THEROUX THROWN OUT: Now, here's a curiosity - Louis Theroux had been planning to do one of his trademark documentaries backstage at the next Here and Now tour. Theroux, who plays the geek in a bid to encourage b-list celebs to drop their guard - like a cross between a python and Bill Gates - had been trying to organise access to the 80's revivalist show, but apparently too many of the acts refused to take part. So far, the BBC and Theroux have been quiet on who wouldn't take part. We find it hard to believe that the Human League would have been frit of a spot of probing - any band willing to play office parties have to have a sense of humour; Kim Wilde and Clare Grogan both work in television now and could probably cope. The Belle Stars would probably leap at any publicity they could get, and Steve Strange has proved quite happy to be open about the troubles in his past. That leaves Five Star - who were always really uppity when people took the piss out them when they were successful; they'd probably not enjoy getting grilled on a 'wanking for coins' reunion tour; and the way David Van Day was made to look a grade a tosser on the recent Bucks Fizz documentary would make the self-important hotdog salesman think twice before opening up to cameras again.
Dead pop stars reanimated [Ananova] - we'd never take the piss out of Five Star

MARR FINALLY RUNS OUT OF PEOPLE TO WORK WITH: and so he's reduced to producing a solo album. Due out in January 2003, rather than pulling a Mike Oldfield and doing the drums and that, he's got Ringo's kid and one of Kula Shaker involved as well - akin to Burger King asking the Garston Village Bakery to provide the bread rolls, isn't it? No title yet, but we'll let you know as soon as we, erm, read about it on another website.
Undercover reports - the Mike Joyce project cannot be far off now, can it?

AWAKE: For those of you who miss Louise Wener but not enough to actually buy the former Sleeper singer's new novel Goodnight Steve McQueen there's a new-ish piece on BBC LDN's site, although it doesn't add a great deal to her self-penned Guardian piece from a few weeks back.

POPBITCH TWANG: Of course, we know that The Good People At Popbitch had only the best intentions with their annorexia special mailout this week - demonstrating how the behaviour of various celebs appears to mimic the way scarily-thin cult of self-starvation websites suggest wannabe bag-of-bones behave in order to get that just-built-railways look. But we're more than a little disquieted at their decision to run huge chunks of "advice" lifted from ana and mia sites. Of course, this information is available on the web, but putting it in the context of a pop gossip mailout is bringing this headfucking stuff to a whole new audience. Worse, by linking it to the likes of Halliwell, Minogue and Beckham you might think you're saying "see - they really are annorexic"; but in effect you're saying "these thin people do this - and they're not unhealthy, are they?" Which might be a bit of a dangerous way to raise a giggle.

THE EMPIRE SPREADS: The Mean Fiddler are continuing their policy of by-passing innovation and just using their big warchest to buy into existing events by taking a stake in the Bizarre Festival in Germany, reports - this is the first major investment in Europe outside the UK for the organisation. Meanwhile, and almost unnoticed (certainly by us), the group took a step closer to becoming the UK's own Clear Channel by making a first move into Radio Ownership by buying Ritz 1035, London's Country station. We don't expect this will be the last time they feel the joy of cross-promotional media purchasing.

NO, NO, YOU ARE THE MAN: Apparently, there's now something like half a million blogs buzzing away in cyberspace, which is an awesome concept - like When Fanzines Ruled The Earth or something. Fairly fresh to the scene is The Minor Fall, The Major Lift which has already established itself as worthy of daily attention. Now, we're not saying that just because it describes us as "genius commentary", but because it's excellent at deftly tying together many threads from the unwinding blanket that is pop culture. And its nice to know its not just us who has problems getting the bloody nme to load.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

WHHEEEEE-WAAAAAAH0HHHHHHYYYYOOO: The UK Air Guitar championships are laying swathes to the country left, right and - naturally - centre. Apparently unpeturbed by Billy Bragg's dictum that air guitar is like wanking - fine in your bedroom, but dodgy on stage, people up and down the country are looking frankly "into it" at a time when, really, they should be powerful ashamed. However, we'd be delighted to hear from anyone who wants to go and take air notes for a review...
Official site - probably not work-safe, for ridicule reasons

BLOOD FEUD: Interesting piece on the Bloodshot Records faq about mp3s and file sharing, which again seems to miss the point slightly. They say at first they weren't that bothered but "Sadly, as the number of people availing themselves to this technology has grown, the number of people who have no connection or loyalty to the independent music they are downloading has also grown---they are just looking for some free music. Hmmm, now while that must be vexing, even frustrating, it's still not clear how that costs Bloodshot and their artists actual money. Sure, it sucks, and it's unfair, but these 'people' of whom they talk, who have no interest in Bloodshot music and are only there cause the music's free - how are they lost customers? If people who would otherwise have bought a record don't, that's lost sales. But if people who had no intention of ever buying a record don't - where's the loss?

the coral gaze out of the cover of this week's Guardian TV guide - we'll expect to complain that they didn't give space to ladytron and the Hungarian wandering minsterals who crash into Keith's Wine Bar every week too. We fully expect the coral to be on the cover of The Face by Christmas...

meanwhile, the guardian weekend interviews Bobby Gillespie - he's happier to talk politics than he was with the nme, but actually acts like the woman in the literacy ads and asks to use the toilet when he's challenged over a claim that "Your next-door neighbour could easily work in a concentration camp. That's all that was, allowing a lot of people to live out their basest, sickest fantasies. That's why people join the army, put on the uniform. It's to mutilate and get paid for it." As with the nme piece last week, there's a feeling that Bobby worries he's not smart enough for this level of debate, like he's about to be caught out. He needn't worry - a bit more courage of his convictions wouldn't be misplaced...

nmeconomics continue to bemuse - the edition with the Glastonbury poster and the edition with the Oasis poster cost £1-70; this week, there's an Eminem and Radiohead poster but they haven't stuck the price up - and it comes with Bring It On as well. Maybe Kings Reach Tower have finally listened to the voice of the people who like their free gifts free...

excitingly, despite being in Liverpool, we've been given the Scotland edition of Bring It On - which has features on The Prodigy (not playing anywhere nearer Scotland than Leeds); Primals (not playing Scotland); the Bring It On Night in Bristol; The Vines in Manchester and Sheffield. The must see gig is Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Reading/Leeds. At least Slipknot are playing Glasgow, spose. Sure, there's scottish listings at the back, but there's not really much point in this being regional at all...

for the nme proper, we got the Westward/Southern/Channel edition with a live shot of Thom Yorke on the front with a shot so unflattering it's unlikely he'll ever want to talk to the nme again...

news: grohl says the Foo Fighters will not split - apparently a week with Queens of the Stone Age was enough to convince him he was better off at home. Besides, if he wasn't in the Foo, when would he get the chance to dress up as a woman again?; Travis won't play without Neil Primrose - "without him, Travis is incomplete" says an official statement. Maybe, but being without talent hasn't stopped you in the past; that there interyweb has already got all the new Radiohead songs on it - Jonny Greenwood seems unbothered - "I hear they're a bit rough sounding - a good thing, possibly, as it smudges the songs which are a little out of focus"); Suede have written a song about Oxide and Neutrino, which is a bit like Jeanette Winterson doing a novel about Kathy Lette; The Vines have done America, leaving a trail of drool in their wake; here's an oddity: a "representative" of Oasis has contacted the NME to deny that a member of the band was found carrying drugs at an Italian airport - just a routine search, nothing found - but why would a band who cheerfully trill about snorting coke be concerned at such a tale in the first place?; the Appletons documentary is going to be so "warts and all" it will feature Liam Gallagher with a joint (as in meat, as in carving); Steven Gerrard is going to appear in a video with mates The Crescent; Underworld say they nearly gave it all up because they didn't think they had anything else to offer - like that's ever stopped a band before; and there's a nice full frontal shot of Rick from ash, a still from their new Slashed mini-movie...

Death in vegas do the ten track cd breakdown thingy - Ramones, Patti Smith; and - joy - Ciccone Youth (but it's addicted to love rather than into the groove(y))...

on bands - halo (hello, Kerrang TV, we've got another three minutes filled here) and My Computer - which the nme call "Manctronic" which is so perfect, we might even have not begrudged the extra 20p this week...

"You are lucky to have such a friendly prince" observes Shakira, with whom mark beaumont is granted a few moments, which he uses well, discovering that the Colombian one is, apparently, unable to say "fuck" when there's a tape running - a great loss to children's TV...

the anger management tour is under way, so the nme goes to watch. You want to believe Mark 'busy man' Beaumont when he says Eminem has become a genuine thorn in the side of the american body politic, but from the report, it sounds more like he's the rapping Al-Fayed...

more reviews-dressed-upas-features, with the Radiohead tour visited by johnny davis. It is worth the entry fee for Thom Yorke describing John Humphrys as "a man you can trust." A four-page radioheadrospective follows, which is as good a primer/appreciation of the band as you could hope for this side of Mojo Originals...

review section proper has the fall -totally wired ("not conclusive, but vivid", 8); primal scream - evil heat ("electro-punk anthems about Nazi-uniformed love vixens", 8); the pattern - real feelness ("reckons life is there to be grabbed", 8); def leppard - x ("best rock album since Andrew WK's I get wet", XI)...

sotw is coldplay - in my place ('yellow times ten') - rather than flaming lips - do you realize?? ("if you hear a more heart-swellingly human record this year...") or hell is for heroes - i can climb mountains ("cider")...

live: idlewild in Hanover ("just the tip of the creative iceberg"); ex-girl in the Spitz ("super space cool. On speed, obviously"); my vitriol at the astoria ("[for a while] a jarring mess of sound layers")...

and finally, from angst, a good point from anthony thompson who suggests that taking issue with Bobby over the phrase 'Bomb the pentagon' is to deal with issues in the same way new labour do. Unfortunately, he was responding to a letter writer who had mentioned BTP ("you decided it was just a stupid phrase one day? what day was that?") and had then gone on to make a more important point that Bobby says if people have a problem with him, they should talk to him to his face; then, when the nme asked him questions to his face, he refused to talk about the subject...

Bobby Gillespie Guardian interview in full
and the nme in digital form

SMELLS LIKE CELINE SPIRIT: As if it wasn't enough that horse-faced Canadian warbler assaults the ears, she's declaring war on the nose as well, as she is apparently "developing" a perfume - by which we suppose she'll be sniffing some phials until she finds one that can be marketed to her gawping audience. But she can't call it Celine as someone has already nabbed that name, so she'll also have to come up with some sort of name on the model of 'Pong by Celine Dion.' Good news if your gran isn't fussy about either music or personal hygiene.
Is she not fragrant? [Ananova] - Dion takes on Brut

PRECIOUS? US?: Coldplay are apparently getting all hissy that people keep dropping the 'a' from their new album title 'a rush of blood to the head'. Poor little lambs. Henceforward, we shall make sure we only ever describe the album as 'A pile of sub-Starsailor toss'

IT WASN'T OUR CAMEO ANYMORE - THEY MADE IT THEIRS: Forget the Daily Star's recent running of an old-as-Darla rumour of Britney being a Buffy regular;
according to the nme Kim and Kelly from the Breeders are going to stride down Sunnydale in the next season. Shouldn't be a problem for Kim; if you can survive Black Francis, you can survive anything...

BASTARDS: Why should people who use PCs get given the opportunity to have a nice I-Pod? Why? Why? It's just not fair...

WILL THE REAL GARY GLITTER STAND UP?: So, last night Channel 4 promised to show us The Real Gary Glitter, and almost straight away shot itself in the platform boot by admitting that there, erm, wasn't one. Gary Glitter, you might be surprised to learn, was merely a construct - Paul Gadd made him up, this documentary could, um, reveal.
Of course, minor celebs of this sort hardly ever bother 'The Real...' franchise, but the Glitter had enough mud to make his laundry an audience-gathering public washing - although the paucity of commercials during the show suggests that on this occasion, the muck may have come without brass. There also wasn't much in the way of illumination in the show - the teary eyed testimony of a girl allegedly raped by Glitter when she was eight was fresh, but felt more like an intrusion into her grief than an insight into Glitter's actions.
Indeed, the whole show seemed reluctant to offer any reason for why Glitter did the things he did, beyond vague suggestions that he was looking for a family (eh? did he hope to find them amongst jpegs of two year olds being raped?); there also wasn't much of an ending - Glitter's cruising round the far east looking for a home that doesn't mind foreign men shagging their kids was totally missing, even although it might have given something a bit more to hold against him than the shocker that he was aggressively determined to be successful (didn't we get over the whole ambition as a fault thing in Julius Ceasar?)
Most interesting was the Glitter fan who had bought a suit during an earlier spot of Gary Crisis. Shocked but with his admiration undiminished by the child-shagging allegations, he did seem to have been mortally wounded by the 90's Gang Show comebacks; admitting he was jealous of people coming to the gigs in groups "discovering Glitter for the first time." To the superfan, there is no greater shame than popularity.
Oddest quote goes to Gary's chauffeur, who looked grimly at the camera and said "Paedophillia is never sexy in rock and roll." Strangely, he was unchallenged, although the words 'Baby one more time video', 'jerry lee lewis', 's club juniors', 'Vanessa Paradis' and 'Moi Lolita' surely must have occured to the director, even if 'Jonathon King' didn't.
And the ommission of JK is curious - another boy made good from the same era, another self-made-up character, also caught dipping his hand in the honeypot. And yet, while Glitter scuttles from Cambodia to Vietnam, branded by Channel 4 "the most famous pervert in britain", King sits in his cell largely forgiven by his circle of friends who raised bringing Gina G to the public as more important than fucking a few teenagers. It's a strange double standard.
And 'the most famous pervert in Britain"? Nah, he's just the man most famous for his perversions. Their must be more famous perverts; we just don't (to quote the late Peter Cook) know who they are.
In almost related news: Chris Moyles gets rapped for suggesting he was going to fuck Charlotte Church - apparently the authorities were worried about her age, and not the mental image of the world's most unattractive man having carnal relations with the Monobrow From The Valleys.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

SELF-IMPORTANT PEOPLE: If it wasn't so dangerous, it'd be funny. Boyz II Men have become the first artists - and we use that word making frantic quotation mark mimes - to respond to Michael Jackson's claim that the music industry is racist with something other than a "yeah - 'kay, Michael..." The Boyz believe that it was racism which stopped them getting the Time magazine front page when they broke Elvis' record for longest stay at number one. According to a piece on Playlouder, Shawn Stockman says the band was surprised when they came back from abroad to discover that front pages hadn't been cleared, and for some inexplicable reason only Billboard seemed at all interested in a small detail about its chart. (Compare this, of course, with the nineteen day Bachanallia that greeted Bryan Adam's Everything I Do stranglehold on the chart in the UK, when the BBC replaced the spinning globe with a 3D image of the record breaking Canadian's head and The Times dedicated two entire editions to the 'Record stays at number one for a couple more weeks than usual' story.) "We came back to the States and it just seemed that everyone was so loyal to Elvis there was a complete media blackout. I mean, can you imagine the publicity that would have occurred if Celine Dion or Madonna had broken that record."
Well, we've tried to imagine a world in which week after more people buy Celine Dion than anything else, and let me tell you - it's a sad place. But this is clearly such thick nonesense you don't even need a spoon to eat it - first of all it's meant to be a race thing, then it's a loyalty to Elvis thing. The real reason, of course, is that with the way the record industry is these days, records are being broken even week, and it's just not as newsworthy. Elvis and The Beatles did something incredible. You sold a few records. They'd have yawned if you were white, and I hope the guilt of trying to use racism as a way of relaunching your stalled career eats away at you.

SLIP: Good news that - following their appearance as backing to that frankly scary T-Mobile advert with the hideous, sinister baby - Royksopp are having a repackaged version of their Melody AM album get a second push. Less encouraging is the advertising campaign keeps pusing, which doesn't exist, rather than which does. Double bad, actually, because as well as promoting the wrong URL, the apparently vacant .net address could easily fall into the wrong hands... Anyway, the new Melody AM comes out on the 12th August, so its up to you - buy now for the presumably increasingly valuable original; wait for the gee-gaw heavy new edition.

GETTING SWEET FA: The format for Rivals, or Popstars2, has been confirmed now - and it's frightening. Ten girls and ten boys will be whittled down to two bands of five of each by audience votes. The process of choosing and then recording singles is designed to cxlimax on December 16th - thereby allowing the two bands to dominate the battle for the Christmas Number One. Meanwhile, the BBC promise their version of Popstars - Fame Academy - won't merely produce a winner, but will spew singles from acts throughout its planned run. The Spanish version managed to clog up eight of the places in the albums Top Ten one week. The only hope is Bob the Builder might have something coming out to stop the juggernaut.
What's disturbing, though, is that the records created and promoted by the BBC using our money (sure, we all pay our licence fees) is going to be released on Mecury records rather than the BBC's own label. Malcolm Gerrie, chief executive of FA producer Initial, is positively drooling with the news that "we have complete commitment from across all BBC platforms"; Mercury joint MD Steve Lillywhite likewise can barely contain his delight at this "great opportunity to uncover the next level of real talent this country has to offer" - too bloody right it's a great opportunity; Mercury is basically having its A&R work done for it at the BBC's expense, while it'll be receiving the equivalent of millions of pounds worth of free media advertising ("across all BBC platforms") to promote the product produced. That has to be a sweet deal to anyone's ears. Except for licence fee payers, of course.

WILL NOTHING GO RIGHT FOR BRIT?: She gets booed when rain makes her dart off stage. Pink seems to have more long-term career prospects. And now, her ole' pa done gone mad, and has started pulling guns on fans. "Dammit, Dad" pleads Britney, "my flip-flopping Virgin Tart image has cost me enough support; don't start killing off my remaining audience..."

IT'S THE LAUGHING GNOME AGAINST THE SCALLIES: Mercury Music Prize nominees list has come out - with the following up for the prize (no longer sponsored by Mercury, a company which no longer exists): Who I Am - Beverley Knight
Sunshine, Hit Me - The Bees
The Coral - The Coral
Heathen - David Bowie
The Last Broadcast - Doves
Holes In The Wall - Electric Soft Parade
Night On My Side - Gemma Hayes
Soundtrack - Guy Barker
Play - Joanna MacGregor
A Little Deeper - Ms Dynamite
Run Come Save Me - Roots Manuva
Original Pirate Material - The Streets

So, a pretty typical Mercury line-up - one or two Spag Bol soundtracks (Gemma Hayes and Beverley Knight), an elder statesman (Bowie), a troika of young pups (Coral, ESP, Ms Dynamite) and the winner, which is either going to be Doves or The Streets, isn't it? The Coral's skill in getting nominated on an album which only appeared in record racks twenty four hours before the press release was printed must rate some sort of record, if nothing else.
Ananova focus on Dave's sudden return to acclaim - plus the early show of betting

... AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR: As if Coldplay's post-Sep'ven album wasn't enough of a prospect of joy, the news that Feeder's new album Comfort In Sound is going to be "heavily influenced" by the suicide of Jon Lee makes the likelihood of a dismal autumn for British music, as the racks fill up with Misery - the Feeder album is being described by the nme as "more mature", usually a euphemism for "black... black... everything is black..." Of course, it needn't be so - there's no reason why tribute couldn't be paid to Lee by celebrating his life rather than mourning his loss; of course, death influences people differently, but the buoyant, life-embracing joy of The Charlatans after Rob Collins' early exit in a car crash six years ago seems more like an affirmation of what the man believed in (not to mention nicer to listen to) than any number of sombre tunes could have hoped to convey.
Let's hope Feeder consider some of the points raised by Ian Mayes when it comes to talking about suicide in the media...

When musicians strike

TALKING OF THE RIAA: There is something on their website that makes us raise an eyebrow and say 'Oh, really?' On the 'Ask the RIAA' page, someone asks what is your stand on MP3?, and in the reply, the Industry Body states: "If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that's great. It's your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail." This seems to be at odds with the way members of its organisation create CDs which can't be played on standard CD equipment and can't be used to make copies on people's computers. Indeed, while it's easy to find the claim by the RIAA that it believes people should have the right to make copies of music they've paid for, for their own personal use, if you dig a bit you find a letter from CEO Hilary Rosen that contradicts this totally, defending the record comapny's right to make CDs that don't actually play on CD players. But then, of course a corporate body would put its members interests before its consumers' rights.

DIE BY THE SWORD: We'd have to snicker at the news that the RIAA website got hit by a denial of service attack even while the American music industry version of the Little Rissington Traders Association was applauding Joe 'changes the Kinnocks to' Biden's attempts to change US law to allow peer to peer networks to be hacked by, erm, the RIAA, but the response from the industry is just wonderful: "Don't they have something better to do during the summer than hack our site? Perhaps it at least took 10 minutes away from stealing music." - which, to us, seems to be suggesting that "stealing music" is a better use of time than hacking websites. And surely the RIAA know that on a modern computer - even a PC - you can download in the background while setting up your DOS attack.
Maybe someone had grounds to suspect that the RIAA were up to something? [CNET] - now, try not to smirk - flaunting a 'parental advisory' sticker on its front page, suggesting explicit content inside

THERE MAY BE TROUBLE AHEAD: Or, that'll teach us to post before we do some digging. We predicted trouble ahead for Sony more-or-less on a whim yesterday, and then, having inked our thoughts in public, we read some background on the compay. It turns out that although last Thursday CNET was reporting the corporation as a whole had a made a fishy sounding $444.4m operating profit in the latest quarter, more considered analysis such as from the International Herald Tribune pointed out that the original Sony strategy - buying 'software' (the record label and movie studios) to provide stuff to stimulate sales of the core hardware (Walkmans and DVD players) has been made more or less obsolete by the rapid developments in internet-style distribution; meanwhile, the music arm of Sony managed to lose $86m despite flogging $1153bn worth of product - and clearly they only spent about fifteen quid on that Shakira video (c'mon, the sequence with the wild horses is so poor its hard to believe she's even in a chromakey studio, never mind that she's in the midst of a stallion stampede).

REV THE (SEARCH) ENGINE: Any website that contains bits from Danny Baker, Andrews Harrison and Collins, David Quantick and Caitlin 'Johnny Vaughan was once my stooge' Moran is clearly going to be a superior HTML beast, and indeed The Rocking Vicar Is At Home does not disappoint. If we wrote the Guardian's Search Engine piece, we'd say "Think Popbitch with the quality control of Marks and Spencers and a contact book stolen from Mojo", but we're not, and see no reason why we should do their job for them.

THE BAMBOO REVIEW: Becky did done go see Ben Kweller, and this is what she reported back:
so I talked nickie into going with me to see ben kweller last saturday. it didn't take much doing - she says she trusts my taste. hmm... I impressed nickie with my parking karma when we got up there. seriously. I don't know how I do it, but I always seem to be able to find something within a reasonable walking distance. if you've ever been to san francisco, you would appreciate this talent. slim's was packed, mostly with younger kids, although nickie and I weren't the oldest people there, thank goodness.

we'd missed the first band, but were there in time to see my morning jacket. I'd heard the name before, but not the music. they came out looking very metal. like they had just gone to a metallica concert or something. they all did cousin it impersonations while they were playing and singing, which made me just want to sit them down and cut their hair. and with that thought, I have officially crossed over into Being Too Old For All Ages Shows. next thing I know I'll be sighing and saying "I just don't understand kids these days." oh WAIT. I say that all the time. anyways. they were really good. kinda power pop, but with a harder edge. the singer had a rather high voice, which really
didn't fit with the whole headbanger image. I liked them.

so then ben kweller came out while the girls in the front row snapped so many pictures it looked like they'd set up a strobe light. nickie's response was "he's so cute!" a girl in front of us turned around and giggled, "I know! he is!" she misunderstood, though. nickie was commenting on the fact that he's so
young. and really, he is. he looks like he should still be wearing braces and getting trash canned by the seniors. in fact, his whole band looked like freshman extras from dazed and confused. they opened with a cover (not ice ice baby) and then played most of the songs from the album. there was one in the middle I didn't recognize (perhaps from his previous band?), and one new one that was excellent. they were really tight, and kept the crowd with them, even while re-tuning. it was an awesome show.. just straight forward rock without pretensions. good stuff.

GRAPEVINE: Hats off to official No Rock... hero Jeremy Vine for managing to work a reference to the Housemartin's London 0 Hull 4 into last night's Newsnight mailout. Now, that's what we call quite good.

Monday, July 29, 2002

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH: Interesting that Joe Biden is also attempting to position himself as the friend of copyright. Biden frets that every episode of Seinfeld is available for download over the net, and he wants to make it a crime to break anti-piracy protections on 'intellectual property.' Biden clearly believes deeply that stealing intellectual property is wrong, and he will be its champion.
Erm... is this the same Joe Biden who was kicked out the race for the White House in 1987 because he was caught lifting bits of Neil Kinnock's speeches and some by George Kennedy? The same Joe Biden who was failed while at law school because he'd copied large chunks of an essay? Maybe we could support your bill, Joe, if you include a get-out clause like the one you tried to use - we could simply say we thought the rules were different for mp3s/legal briefs/episodes of Seinfeld, couldn't we? Or maybe you could just explain to us why it's wrong for a kid to play a CD he's bought on his own PC, and yet its okay for a Senator to try and pass off someone else's speeches as his own?

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE LEGALISED 'TAKING LAW INTO OWN HANDS' OR WHAT? So now there's a proposal in front of the House of Representatives which would allow trade organisations like the RIAA to hack into, and close down, peer to peer networks without having to worry about legal comeback. All they'd have to do would be say they had a "reasonable basis" to believe this was happening. Sponsored by Berman and Coble, the legislation might get caught in the logjam as the end of the year approaches, but the mere prospect of the Bill is scaring some. While - of course - piracy is wrong, handing the right to scupper a third parties' computer system to an unelected body seems to be a slightly more disturbing wrong. Apart from anything, the peer network might be allowing the swapping of legal material alongside the pirates (or suspected pirated) material; it could even provide the RIAA with a way of destroying competitor label's legal download systems from behind a legal shield.
CNET reports - why not just let AOL Time Warner shoot people it doesn't like?

NEW RELEASE MONDAY: Or more stuff to buy, if you like. Daybreaker is the new ho-humly received Beth Orton album, but we love her desperately and are sure its worth a tenner of anyone's money. Scouse psychrockers The Coral debut their self-titled album today. For those of you with sixty odd quid, there's a Yes box set, but for three letter throwback fun at its best, ABC's Beauty Stab is given a shake down and a remastering; while the Belle Stars have a Best Of - um, Iko Iko and...? The Rising is Bruce Springsteen's attempts to exorcise his September 11th ghosts (he, like, was there - watching it on TV); The Circle Jerks' Group Sex is out - nothing much to add. The original Cowboy Junkies stuff was recorded in a deconsecrated church - it's arguable if The BBC sessions were done in a more or less eerie place; whatever, the results of Kershaw and Peel sponsored fun are impressive. Serial Girlfriend is fresh from Holly Golightly, and aussie lo-but-fi Lucksmiths try where were we - think Billy Bragg with better jokes and a sunnier mindset. But our bet for your cash this week is on Teenbeat's bright new things the pocket rockets who offer up their hearts and minds in a post-nirvana squash in the shape of Love or Perish; like Belly, who have their best of released today, but with spunk where the heroin would go.

In singles Falling sees McAlmont and Butler back together, while Britney loves her boys, she does.

ERM... HE'S OUT, BOBBY: Much though we're looking forward to the new Primal Scream album, we thought that our enthusiasm would be nothing compared to the cartwheels the official site would be turning. Except... it's not. The online home of the Primals is still campaigning for the release of Satpal Ram, who has been out of chokey for a good few weeks now; it also suggests we should prepare ourselves for the release of XTRMNTR, rather than the new album...

WHO'D BE A MAJOR LABEL?: So, we've already had Universal being caught in the collapsing masonry at Vivendi-Universal; the ongoing pisspoor performance at EMI leading to thousands of staff, hundreds of acts and millions and millions of pounds being thrown away; AOL Time Warner apparently turning out to have been merged on the basis of questionable accounting; now Bertlesmann loses its chief executive over directional differences. According to our calculations, Sony should expect some sort of major corporate balls-up sometime on Thursday afternoon...

Scroll half way down to the entry for Feb 18th - now, that might be harsh, but it's fair...

AS THEY GET OLDER, THE CLOSER THEY DRIVE TO THE RIGHT: Disappointing to see that Bruce Springsteen has given his support to The War On Terror (TM), according to the BBC, who themselves put it at the door of the Times. Releasing his album of September 11th songs (thus beating Coldplay's similar opus to the marketplace), Bruce says "It was deliberative, which I wasn't counting on. I expected a lot less from this administration." Hmmm. We must have missed the deliberations, somehow, because we could have sworn that the bombing of Afghanistan back even further into the Stone Age was done on a "You're either with us, or you're next" basis. Springsteen has said that he has no intention of running for political office, which makes his politician's stance on the "war" even more surprising.

Comedy admits defeat, rustles up Greatest Hits package

BEYONCE, ARE YOU SURE YOU CAN HANDLE THIS?: While the tale Beyonce has told the Daily Mirror of saving a fan from killing themselves is wonderful publicity for her debut solo single, and, of course, rather heartwarming in its way, it's also a bit worrying. See, there's been a long tradition of celebs visiting bedsides in the hope of reviving someone in a coma, but this raises the stakes a little by calling for the personality to intervene before the paramedics are called. And we do admire Beyonce's actions in saving this girl's life - it seems the call gave her self-worth in the way that Cordelia once told Angel that just knowing celebrities made your life better. But this might have been one of those good works that it's better not to talk about. Because 'Beyonce phones fan seconds before they're about to kill themselves' is a powerful image, and we wonder what it will do to other depressed Destiny's Child fans - the ones who don't get a call, the ones who in their darkest moments realise that their lives aren't worth a Vodaphone airtime voucher to Beyonce? In that point where the miserable become suicidal, the moment where you can taste the cusp between life and death, in talking of her rescue of one, Beyonce may unwittingly have shuffled others towards the darker outcome.
Beyonce knows she can't be there for everyone on the edge of despair. It's unfortunate she has implied that she could be.

OLD WARHORSE TO FILL ANOTHER GAP IN SCHEDULES: As if to demonstrate quite how much the Saturday Show isn't an attempt to clone SM:TV, the BBC are now going to add a Saturday edition of Top of the Pops to the mix, to be nothing at all like CD:UK at all, oh no. Now, while the slightly fogy-ish TOTP2 on BBC2 has been something of a success, other attempts to spin the brand lie scattered across the floor like so many of Madonna's old dresses. TOTP: The New Chart, TOTP at Play, that one on BBC Choice, TOTP+ and TOTP on Radio One (twice) have both tried and failed to push boundaries of viewer interest; perhaps because the specialness of TOTP doesn't really sink in until you're a few years older than the age at which you watch the show.
In related news, two people you and I have never heard of - Fearne Cotton and Simon Grant - will replace the current hosts of The Saturday Show, Joe Mace, Danii Behr and her Sexual Peccadilloes.
Meanwhile, over on Liquid News, Chris Price's much-missed shoes will be filled by Claudia Winkleman and Colin Paterson, going for a Nicholas Witchell/Moira Stewart two handed style of anchoring. If you'd asked us a few weeks back, we'd have rolled on the floor muttering about how that just sums up everything we've ever thought about british TV, but having caught Ms Winkleman doing some fill-in slots, we have to eat our words with a spinach side salad. Preciously, we've never been quite sure what she was for, what one would do with a Winkleman. On Liquid News, she's found a role and presents in an assured, stylish fashion that manages to remember it is just a celeb goss slot, but without drowning the whole thing in campy irony (Iain Lee) or treating the news, the show and the stories as somehow not worth the effort (Sean Hughes, who was a Good Man in a Bad Place).
Also meanwhile, Channel 5's 'commitment to music' is further demonstrated by the burying of the Lauren Laverne fronted Pop at five o'clock in the afternoon. If that's a prime-time slot, then Countdown must be the jewel in British TV's crown.
Get up, the kids [Ananova] - doesn't anyone want to bring back the Chart Show?

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Heard on BBC Radio Merseyside last Thursday:
-So, we know representatives of the Manchester games went to see the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, which are generally reckoned to be the best ever. Do you think Manchester will top that?
-I don't think they'll even be trying (which we took to be a polite way of snorting a derisive 'No')
And indeed, they didn't. The Commonwealth games kicked off with the sort of school play we've come to expect; but the main question from this quarter is: we know we can't run. We know we can't jump. But we can do pop. So why didn't we show that off?
Sure, the appearance of S Club 7 was nice; they're a tight, pretty pop act and they could be relied on to give good polish; perfect for the context. But couldn't some more of this sort of act have been rounded up? Sophie Ellis Bextor, maybe? Perhaps even Atomic Kitten. But, no - the rest of the musical entertainment was provided by faceless acts which instead of saying "We rule pop" (or, more honestly, we used to rule pop) said "Look - we have more stage schools turning out so-so lip-synchers per head than any other nation." The ceremony was topped and tailed with two acts of this sort - the first did 'One nation under a groove' which was odd (surely the whole point of the Commonwealth Games is that it's meant to try and get us past the idea that there was a single British Empire? Isn't it meant to be a celebration of the multiple nationhoods which have grown up in place of One Empire Under the Gun?) and so bland, you suspect part of the millions Manchester has frittered on the games was spent on a device to blow-dry the funk out of songs. This impression was redoubled at the end when a band ("from the centre of the grandstand!") attempted to sing 'Aint no stopping us now' with some degree of conviction. Ethnically balanced to the point of satire, with those groovy headphone mics that Howard Jones managed to simultaneously make familiar and unfashionable, it was like watching Simon Fuller's wetdreams. Lets hope they're stopped in time for the closing ceremony.
Even more odd was the music that the atheletes stomped across the stadium to. It did seem some thought had been put into this - when the Australians came on, Kylie's spinning around was playing, raising the possibility that we were going to hear pop from each country taking part; but by the time Elvis V JXL was playing (An American remixed by a Dutchman - just two of the great nations not in the Commonwealth) it was clear someone had just shoved on Now Thats What I Call Music Volume CXXVI. Another wasted opportunity.
Nice fireworks, mind...

LESS EUROVISION, MORE JEUX SANS FRONTIERES: Oh, great. As if the news that Popstars this time round is going to feature two bands to clog the charts up for all eternity, they're now planning on having one of those 'champion of champion' style shows, World Idol, whereby the winners of each nation's Pop Idol will go head to head in some ghastly reconstruction of International Superstars. But without the squat thrusts. This means that the blobbily-tongued Will Young, the world's least gay homo, will be representing You on a global stage; representing you just as his built-on-sand career at home is starting to give out like a B-reg Honda that had somehow been asked to compete in the Monaco Grand Prix. What makes it worse is that the early reports are suggesting this glittery world event will be UK versus Poland, South Africa, Germany and France - which, if you bet without France (who can probably be relied upon to enter a fourteen year old girl in a push-up bra and hotpants singing about being screwed by the local undertaker), is pretty much a line-up of the countries with the worst pop music reputations in the world. Great.