Saturday, August 31, 2002

VMA: Becky Bamboo watches the MTV Video Music Awards, so you don't have to:
what a snoozefest that was. it started out promising with jimmy fallon acting out some of the nominated videos (including a line in the eminem parody about this being the only chance to see music on mtv, which made me laugh) but his voice started giving out, so it wasn't as good as it could've been.
then it all just went flat.
michael jackson? reminding me more and more of helena bonham carter in planet of the apes.
pink had these temporary tatoos all the way up the left side of her body. while I wasn't digging her kimono sleeves, I did like the tatoos. she has black hair now. I'm still undecided on whether or not I like it like that.
eminem seems to hate moby. I don't quite understand why, but he nearly took out a puppet who was asking him about it.
the hives were cool. the vines, not so much. now, I bought their cd, suckered in by the low price and the hype, I suppose. and I've tried to listen to it. I've put in on in the car twice and both times have ended up bored out of my skull. musically, there are moments
where they are obviously impersonating nirvana (especially a few vocals), but without the hooks and the lyrical depth of kurt. so, basically, a silverchair impersonation, then. I remain unconvinced.
jimmy fallon didn't do all that well after the opening. he didn't have much to do and the jokes didn't work. the stuff parodying american idol was funny, but just because he told the worst jokes and nobody was laughing. just like the show! (which I'm still a loyal viewer of, btw.)
I can't really tell you who won, cos I wasn't paying that much attention. but meg white, honey. it's called a strapless bra. you need to buy one.
guns n' roses played a medley at the end. it was not good. not by any means. axl looked like shit and sounded even worse. bad, bad face lift on that boy. he briefly tried the snake dance but thankfully gave it up after a couple of seconds. he was wheezing and trying to run all over. I'm sad that he's making the band a parody of itself. their music deserves better than kitch status. I wish he'd given it up and moved on. then we all would've been spared that pathetic excuse for a performance.

Friday, August 30, 2002

HERE IT COMES NOW - THE FOUR TRACK FOR A NEW AGE: It might seem from time to time that we believe everything done by record labels is evil, wrong, grasping and bad. Of course, that's not true. Major labels funded the later Boo Radleys albums, underwrote Sonic Youth, were bankrolling Blur while they were a creative force, and so on. It's just everything the labels do at a management, policy level that sucks...
And here comes a new thing. The labels are pushing a whole new format - DataPlay. As tiny as the bit on a CD where it stops being a disc - and as such, the Polo Hole of the music industry - it's tiny, and, erm, that's about it. The advantages for the consumer it holds over CDs hangs solely in the size, but compared to an i-pod it's still looking like set dressing from the Borrowers movie. Geegaws like "Oh look, there's some pictures on the disc, too" are trying to dress up stuff that comes as standard on the grubbiest indie CD as DVD-style 'extra features'. So, why would the labels be keen for Data-Play to catch on? Well, first up, there's the mouthwatering prospect of selling you the records you already own on vinyl, tape and CD all over again - fill the gap between new Britneys by selling the old ones again - and then, of course, these new babies are hugely copy protected - not only by the technology of the disc itself, but the little darlings won't fit in the CD drawer of your computer, much less play in 'em.
It's probably little surprise that the technology is basically owned by the labels - Universal were part of a $50million lifeline to the ailing Dataplay which has been laying off workers ahead of the launch; the labels have also been rushing stuff out into the shops in a bid to prop up the firm.
Whatever, it's clear that the idea is flawed - company head Volks rold DarwinMag its storage capacity beat Memory Stick several times over; this would have been true when the product was due to hit the market in 2001, but delays have meant it enters a shopfloor already stuffed with multi gigabite music players, most of which are smaller. Obviously technology predicitions can come back to haunt us, but we reckon that this one is probably the lamest music format since Digital Compact Cassette. And at least that could play your old tapes.
It's small. And - what, exactly? [New York Times] - this is meant to make my record collection obsolete again, is it?

BUT HE DOESN'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT: Now, while we're finding the cockles of heart warmed by the story about Marilyn Manson having a sick fan come in to record for his new album, it only goes to underline just how plastic his image actually is. We maintained years ago, after Columbine when he wrote that big, brown-stained 'I'm not really satan you know' piece that the man shouldn't be allowed to step in and out of character as he chooses - either you're the god of headfuck, or you're a pantomime dame, you can't be both. Now, again, here's a man who claims to spread the disabled with cold meats and have his way with them suddenly turning into Princess Di. There's nothing wrong with playing a part - David Bowie made a career out of it - but let's be honest about it. Why do people persist in pretending that he's always being all weird and gothy when he's little more than Krusty The Clown with a Sisters of Mercy CD. Let's stop taking him at painted-face value; lets have a few journalists say "Stop being silly, and remember you're off stage." Let's out Manson for what he is - as tame and dull and straight as the Stereophonics, but with a slightly more theatrical stage presence.

THE MUSIC IS GREAT: But when 6Music veers away from music, it gets all lost - Phil Jupitus seems so proud of having tireless self-promoter Victoria 'I made a porno' Coren on the show that it's in the trailers now - fat bloke talking about breasts with young woman - are you sure this isn't Chris Moyles? (Oh, and Victoria, luv, at least one member of virtually every manufactured girl pop band in the UK have made pornos; they just choose not to keep banging on about it); Now Liz Kershaw is interviewing Vanessa Feltz - the hook being, erm, VaFeltz's weight-loss show. So, not only pointless, but not even pointless in a direction that is any way useful or interesting. At least Andrew Collins meets Konnie Huq sounded good on paper.

BURCHILL AT WILL: "Having grown up working class, terminally over-educated it was I who first coined the word snivelling wretch Tony Parsons." This gobbet might come from Julie Burchill or it might come from The Julie Burchill Random Recycler. I'll leave it to you to guess which.

THE HIT CHARADE - DYSWTDT?: An interesting piece in Slate by Mark Jenkins attempts to pull off a link between 1978 - when Home Taping didn't kill music, but was blamed for a downturn - and 2002 - when it's CD-Rs that will have the whole of the music industry on its knees.
Jenkins reckons that the problem in '78 was the proliferation of disco and its lack of faces and image; but he then tries to suggest that '02 has a similar problem with Britney and N'Sync, which seems to be a bit of a misdiagnosis - if pop at the end of the seventies was all beats and no bodies, at the start of the twenty-first century the situation is reversed: By the time you've bought the posters, her mother's novel, a couple of magazines, some make-up endorsed by her, movie tickets, the dial tones and voted to see the red cat suit jiggle on The Box, you've probably had all the Britney you can take for one day without buying the record as well - there's a surfeit of stuff to buy around the personality, and CDs aren't seen as being the essential purchase, just part of the package that you might buy, if you've money left after the dress 'em up doll. It's not that there's nothing for the kids to chow down on with Eminem; rather, that amongst the angst and anger and posing and products, the message that he records records as well gets lost.
Jenkins then goes on to discredit younger consumers as fecklessly fickle:
< font color=purple>Meanwhile, younger fans lose interest quickly and often don't develop strong loyalties. They're less likely to investigate a breakthrough act's previous albums or buy its next one. The genres that appeal to under-25 music fans continue to sell, but individual performers fade quickly.
That's a little unfair - the problem is that there isn't as much back catalogue as once there was. Before Blondie broke huge with Parallel Lines, they'd already got Plastic Letters and Blondie into the racks. Nowadays, if artists don't make it on the first album, they're dropped. The lack of lead time development of artists means they're not generating back catalogue until they've on their third or fourth title - in short, if the kids aren't buying the artist's earlier stuff, its because they don't have anything to buy. Likewise, they don't get to follow an artist through to maturity because the labels drop 'em before they reach maturity, or else the artist moves on to some other endeavour. Atomic Kitten were never going to be producing records for the next thirty years, were they?

IT'S FRIDAY, SO WHY WORK?: Instead, why not waste away bandwidth and those precious, ever diminishing moments of your life by visiting the Totally Obsessive Song Association Webpage? Basically, this just attempts to scrape together song titles according to vaguely defined groupings, and then begs you set some more. Or fill in gaps. Like the body parts section doesn't even have Detachable Penis from King Missile.

YOU ARE A RECIDIVIST, FLETCHER: Now, while Mr McKay might have been wrong about Fletch - who did indeed Go Straight - he would have been spot on about Moto, who, following their spammers Mea Culpa have gone straight back to posting their banal and unwanted messages all over the web. Bad, bad cess to them.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Music for cats

IT'S NOT MY CHOICE: Here's a pretty story - howls of protest because the Radio 1 website lists Burn Out Da Chi Chi as one of Chris Goldfinger's top 10 tracks. Only, of course, it's a song about beating up a gay man. And when OutRage complained, not only did Radio 1 say the track had never been played, but it wasn't Goldfinger's choice anyway - indeed, the Top 10 tracks had just been made up by someone at the website. Whoops all round. Wonder if anyone at BBC Online even likes reggae, or if they just copy some tracks down at random?
What? Radio 1 DJs not choosing their own records? [MediaGuardian] - truly, we're returning to the golden Bates era...
That Urban Record Box listing - "last updated by Jo Roach" presumably a claim of authorship rather than administration

INTERNET FIRSTS: Brought to you instead of doing work - the very first band to be called "indie wank" on usenet was Hovercraft on the 18th of November, 1997. Have you made plans for the anniversary yet?

AND NEXT, WE KILL A CHICKEN: As the mystery of Graham deepens - rumours of The Express Newspapers group offering a million quid in return for sightings - people turn to the blur website to see if they can garner any clues - like an alt tag saying 'Graham has fucked off'. The webcam is meant to demonstrate that Graham is still there - but, frankly, if we're meant to take that sort of evidence, we want to see him holding a copy of today's paper at the very least; more curiously, Alex's diary mentions Damon and Dave, but not a word on Mr. Coxon.
Mind you, judging by Alex's witterings about uber-pretensions of Marrakesh recordings, if Graham has gone, we don't blame the poor sod.

IT'S ALTERNATIVELT GRIM AND GLITTERY UP NORTH: Coverage of a weekend of festivals from the Guardian's excellent Northerner mailout:
Autumn is coming. So the north took to the streets in the dying days of summer for a series of noisy parties: Creamfields in Liverpool, Mardi Gras in Manchester and the Leeds Festival in Yorkshire.
All three were enjoyed by the thousands who rocked away the late summer bank holiday but all three had their problems.
In Leeds, up to 500 revellers in Temple Newsam park spoiled the fun by tipping over portable toilets and setting fire to them in what police described as acts of "sustained, determined and mindless" violence in the early hours of Monday. It took three hours before order was restored by 200 officers.
Leeds council had originally refused the festival a licence but organisers appealed to magistrates and won. A question mark now hangs over next year's event, with some Leeds councillors determined that it will not go ahead.
A spokeswoman for the organisers said: "The action of under 1% of the crowd should not be allowed to detract from a very successful weekend."
But the Yorkshire Post was having none of that in the cold light of Tuesday morning.
"Enough is enough," proclaimed a leader. "No licence for next year's event should be granted and no new deal signed ...
"That a mindless minority should attempt to ruin the events for everyone, risking its future in the process, is therefore deeply regrettable.
"But if the city of Leeds is to make it clear that mob violence is unacceptable, there can unfortunately be no alternative to ensuring that this festival does not take place in the area again."
Problems in Manchester and Liverpool were less dramatic. Manchester's gay Mardi Gras has had a volatile past, with rows over organisation, security and the amount of cash (or lack of it) going to charities.
This year's event looked as if it would bite the dust before it started. The organisers decided to cancel the celebrations when police refused to allow drinking on the street outside Canal Street at the heart of the gay village. They complained of homophobia; the police said they were concerned only for public safety. After last minute crisis talks, the event was back on (and the homophobia charge withdrawn) and hundreds of elaborate costumes were not wasted.
The traditional parade of floats wound its way through the centre of Manchester: lots of nuns, men in silver jockstraps, line dancers, safe sex squaddies in combat gear and Mr Gay UK draped over the back of silver BMW.
There were also lots of water pistols, bubbles and foam but no disorder. The festival ended with a candle-lit vigil in Sackville park for those who have died of Aids.
The Creamfields festival on the old Liverpool airport site in Speke, now in its fifth year, had an unfortunate prelude when police began investigating corruption claims and arrested an organiser for allegedly bribing a council official.
But the event passed off happily, with 40,000 revellers bopping away as Merseyside police looked benevolently on. There were just 30 arrests.

THE FUTURE SALES OF FUTURISTS: Good news for the Ladyboys of Ladytron - nearly a month before its release, Light & Magic has become a fixture in Amazon's Indie/Lo-Fi chart - quite remarkable, what with Ladytron being neither indie nor, by any stretch, Lo-Fi. Also doing well in the Ama-Indie-Lo listings are the Mekons, who sat at number six with the silver anniversary marking Out of our heads; and Sleater-Kinney, who manage to hold down two positions with the same album as the Bonus CD version and workaday usual edition both command their share of attention and affection.

WHO'S UPLOADING RUBBISH?: The Register is reporting an upswing in rubbish files swapping about on KaZaA, perhaps an early sign of the RIAA trying to discredit the system by putting up garbage files under proper record titles? (This also throws up the possibility that, to keep itself undercover and covert, the RIAA would have to try and find out who it is from its own ISP). The Register points out that no specific legal right to hack systems has yet been granted to the RIAA; which is true, but then listing a soundfile on the system as 'True Blue' by Madonna when it's actually a load of old noise isn't actually illegal anyway. In fact, it's more legal than listing the proper song, isn't it?

PARANOID?: If Radio One are committed to new music, how come the Radio One website hasn't updated the alt presenters "most important records of the week" Record Box feature since July 22nd?

SESSION CESSATION: So, as we mentioned in passing in Pop Papers, and as the BBC have confirmed, the Evening Session is being axed, chopped, tossed aside, removed and scorched from the schedules. Interesting to see in the BBC News Online slot that the programme is described as being seen as a safe haven for guitar music away from "dance and pop sounds" - clearly, of course, there's no need for that now, then, is there?
The good news is that Lamacq Live will continue (for a while at least); the bad news is that the replacement for the show hasn't been announced yet - but with Peel now being shunted back after midnight to make way for 1Xtra simulcasting fun on Tuesdays, the idle listener might suspect that the nation's favourite is planning on shifting its support for music-on-the-fringes into a less significant place.
The main problem is why there's a need to axe the show altogether - now, it might be that the new programme does much the same as the Evening Session, and its forerunner Night-time Radio One (home of Kid Jensen and Janice Long) does; but just as the Evening Session diluted the Night-time formula (instead of two sessions every night, just one new one a week spread across the days), we're guessing that any elements designed to placate the likes of us will be even further denuded.
A BBC spokesperson says they're "very excited" about the new show, but there's no word of what its going to be, or do.
It might be an inspirational show offering a platform to the next generations of Oasis, Radiohead, Blur, Idlewild and Doves. But we remain to be convinced - recent Radio One innovations have tended more towards the vapid and giggly, and if the show's format is such that the ridiculously gaunt Lammo isn't the right person to present it, it's unlikely it'll be that interested in music at all. We hope we're proved wrong.
If they stop creating sessions, what will 6Music have to pad its schedules in 2008?

GOOGLE-US: Thank you to the people who visited us looking for "Rolf Harris Impersonator site" - we assume either Jarvis making a start on a post-Pulp tribute career, or else someone who's been ripped off in a Six Degrees of Separation style looking for the culprit - "They said they'd give me a signed copy of two little boys..." Oh, and for the person who was looking for Kerry Katona's bra size - according to popbitch, the only remarkable thing about the former Atomic Kitten is 37F. Now, we should stress, since... well, let's just say she's grown a lot recently.

THE OTHER SIDE OF LEEDS?: According to this post on the Lammo Messageboard, the trouble at Leeds wasn't the toilet burners, but the cops themselves. 'Chris' claims Some idiot vandals set fire to the toilets, okay. That's inexcusable. But the response was to send in 200 armed riot police with dogs and rubber bullets, who proceeded to beat up anybody they saw who wasn't in a tent.
Those who clashed with the police mostly didn't WANT to fight, but the police fought them and they had no choice. I was camped 20 feet from Pooh Bridge, the centre of most of the violence, and luckily I was in my tent when they arrived... but those not so lucky were forced into my field and the adjacent one, even though their tents were in other fields. The police used force on anybody who wouldn't return to their tents, but refused to allow anybody past them to get back to their campsites; they forced the violence.

In another development, Guns N Roses tour manager has told the NME of Mean Fiddler Melvin Benn's bravery in allowing the band to continue way past the agreed curfew time in the face of the real possibility of imprisonment.
Of course, you could argue that neither of the police appearance nor the over-run would have happened at a better run festival, but...

HANDS OFF OUR PEACHES: A brief but informative chat with Peaches over on Playlouder about a bloke called Colin who is berating her for not giving him an interview. She's even poured beer over him, but still he doesn't get the hint. Playlouder give his mobile number.
And she makes fun of Andrew WK, who older readers might remember as being the next big thing when Wagon Wheels were a lot larger and people still gave their bus seats up for pregnant women.

SPAMBANDS: Nathan Stack - bad name, bad internet marketing techniques

COXON OUT: 6Music are reporting that Graham Coxon has quit Blur - leaving Peter Gabriel Lite and Old Dandy to kick their ideas around until we all bleed. The British Government is arranging an emergency airlift to ensure the only band member still with a sense of perspective, Dave, can be evacuated safely before the band collapses completely into its own buttocks.

INDIEPOP AINT NOISE POLLUTION: There's a load of wonderful indie resources on the webernet, but I think we may have just discovered indie history's Simon Schama in the indie p O p page at nerdmagazine. There's some bits to quibble with, as you'd expect with something on this scale (maybe a bit Hugh Trevor-Roper in places, then) but generally, it's a wonderful butterfly connection of bands arranged by genre from the 80's onwards. Some of the names you'll hug like long-lost friends (Grab Grab The Haddock; The Charlottes), others you'll find yourself scribbling down on a post-it note to find out more about. (Still others will feature in Band's We'd Forgotten Existed). Well worth risking the sack for.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

THE SODS ARE MIGHTIER THAN THE PENS: According to NewsForge, Midbar - the company who invented the software that blocks you from using the CDs you've bought on some CD players, and can kill a Mac altogether - are claiming they've fixed the problem-cum-loophole which allows a spot of felt-tipping to circumvent the so-called copy protection system. Oh, and they're working on a system that will copy protect datastreaming, too. If only they'd use their powerful brains for something good, eh? We might have a cure for cancer by now.

CORPSES SLIGHTLY: A handy pub-quiz filler/ pub argument settler is The Dead Rock Stars Club, what attempts to list how every single rock person who isn't alive came to not be alive anymore. So wide is the scope it even explains who the person was when they weren't dead. Walter "Popee" Lastie had a fatal heart attack while playing 'When the saints go marching in', you know...

PRIMA READERS WORLD - WHAT DO THEY DO FOR FUN?: Prima readers have just voted Britney worst-dressed (least dressed, surely?) celeb, which is in itself bizarre in a world with Christina Aguilera in it, but then they go and make Victoria Beckham best dressed. C'mon, on a good day Beckham looks like she's been rooting through Mary J Blige's bins...
The charts in full [Ananova] - i realise this is of no importance at all

WRITING ABOUT POP IS A WASTE OF TIME: but taking pop photos is a saving of moments. Gail o'hara does it incredibly well.

the face continues to stumble. The whole concept of multiple covers wasn't killed off conclusively by the Loaded 99 cover fest ages ago; now it's the province of sad boy collectors who will buy all the Star Wars versions of Empire, and buy them thrice - one for best, one for ebay, one to wank over. But here comes the former King of fashion, hoping for a David Bowie revival but looking more and more like David Dickinson. And they've produced three covers this month, for their fashion edition. Not of anything fashionable, but of designers - McQueen, Phoebe, the McCartney daughter. Jesus fuck, why? Who will want to buy all three? And if it's a test to see what sort of cover sells best - THE ONE WITH THE NAKED WOMAN IN A RUBBER CAT MASK. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to bang my head repeatedly as we hail The Face as, once again, the Brookside busted flush of magazines...

music week reports that the urban music industry is fretting that 1Xtra might simply be a way of sidelining black music out of radio 1; while BBC TV is planning to throw a massive party for number one recording artists to mark the 50th anniversary of the charts hosted by that well known man of music, erm, Ian Wright; the Sugababes are going to Denmark to appear on the wonderfully titled Boogie TV. The magazine comes with an Independent labels supplement, which is fascinating - the number six indie label in the world is Readers' Digest; the biggest British indie is Ministry of Sound - which is basically owned by 3i, the investment people. Richard Branson(and Morgan Stanley)-backed V2 provided the biggest "indie" album in the UK last year, the Stereophonics Just enough...

the nme has the strokes and the white stripes - or julian and jack, anyway - on its front. Actually, two Julians. Last week Julian was on the cover. Julian and NME, sitting in a tree...

but the news pages are actually genuinely arresting - radio one axe evening session - hugely ominous in light of peel moving back beyond midnight some nights next month; and the possible split of pulp following the end of their deal with Vivendi-Universal's Island. Good work, news fellas. Then its back to adverts as news - Vines headline NME tour; assuming, of course, that the set-trashing they did on Letterman wasn't, as suggested, Craig having a breakdown. Talking of breakdowns, Feeder are back in action, but only one brief mention of the empty presence on the drumstool (well, actually, there was someone on drums, but you know what we mean); they've started a rock version of The Sunday Time's feuds corner; they've laid out some of the more interesting ideas for the 1 Love (number one cover versions charidee) album - PJ Havrey Boots Are Made For Walking? No Doubt Uptown Top Ranking?; since Steve Albini is claiming the rare Nirvana track leaked on the net is a tune he's never heard before (and he was meant to have produced it), the On A Friday (Radiohead + two girl saxophonists) demos floating around should have an Approach With Caution labelling; "Ashcroft speaks out against war with Iraq' turns out to be Richard, not John - he suggests we pary for peace anf pray that the Americans don't start a war - which reveals him to be religious, and with probably too much faith at that; Courtney Love to play Lady MacBeth - surely a role in the Tell Tale Heart would be more apt if rumours are to be believed?; Wim Wenders is going to direct the new Idlewild video, thereby closing the gap between Anne of Green Gables and Columbo; Burnley council - home, of course, to BNP councillors - have refused to allow the Anti-Nazi League to hold their festival in the town, so it's going to be in Manchester instead, September 1st...

Danny Goffey from Supergrass puts Liv Tyler down long enough to do the ten track CD mix tape thing - Nirvana, Blondie, Bowie, Kinks...

On bands - The Kills (man-woman-stripped-down-blues-rock) and TokTok vs Soffy-O - because not all electro has to be Fischerspooner, even if silly names are deriggeur...

It was ten years ago today (ish) that Kurt came onstage in a wheelchair at Reading. Bizarrely, this event is marked by a two-page interview with Everett True, headlined "The last truly great Nirvana show" (or, more honestly "Not even Krist would return our calls"), but it does mean that the nme winds up giving a plug to Careless Talk Costs Lives, a magazine dedicated to the host's own destruction. (And if you wonder why we reviewed one CTCL in pop papers and stopped, its because the fucking thing is impossible to get outside of London again)...

There really is no need for the paper to run a picture of Kevin Rowland in a dress (remember, the kids - *his* clothes, not *womens* clothes) on page 26. Or, indeed, of Courtney's knickers...

reviews? Already? albums? The Music - the Music ("like abba said - thank you for the music", 7); catatonia - greatest hits ("strange glue indeed", 7); sugababes - angels with dirty faces ("half lives up to the promise of the two singles", 7)...

here's a pull out 20 page special souvenier leeds/ reading review... hang about, the back pages are all burned... Strokes - superhero ... weezer - flamboyant... guided by voices - bedlam... von bondies - illicit... vines - mercurial... foo fighters - fighting... slipknot - mellowing... janes addiction - ecstatic... guns n roses - generous... streets - phenomenon... the music - expand... white stripes - fuzzed-up... the datsuns - rocked... the kills - death rattle... polyphonic spree - air-puncher... pretty girls make graves - fragile... the libertines - disappointing... brmc - commitment... cooper temple clause - ambition... peaches - supertrash... princess superstar - square... the hives - sweet-talk... trail of dead - down'n'dirty...

and back to the paper proper: sotw is white stripes - dead leaves and the dirty ground ("might and majesty") over breeders - son of three ("anti-Appleton"), Miss Black America's Miss Black America ("revolution and gubbins"), cinerama - careless ("should be writing romantic novels")...

live - supergrass in camden ("sugar coated pop treat"), donnas in highbury ("they want to do this")...

and then that's it. Inexplicably, a really strong edition despite being little more than a tossed together 'what we did on our bank holiday' edition. Funny the way things go, innit?

SCORE! You'd have thought that the recentism that marbles through the results of most 100 Greatest Polls wouldn't be a problem with listeners to Classic FM, but they've managed to pull off the equivalent of Robbie Williams as Top Briton in the 30 Greatest Movie Scores poll. The Lord of the Rings came in first, edging out Star Wars, which just seems all wrong to us.
While we're moaning about Lord of the Rings, we were disgusted to see huge piles of the Video and DVD for sale in Boots the other week - now, Boots decided to close down its Boots Audio department, and banish music and videos from its stores forever. This hurt us, especially since a copy of Parallel Lines slipped inside that blue and purple psych-drug man bag (biodegradable, natch) was the start of our record buying lifetime, but still, you make the choice.
But then to turn round and start knocking out individual video titles because they're popular just sucks. Phrases like 'cherrypicking' and 'bastard' form on our tongues. If you're not prepared to carry lots of stock, fuck off and leave the profitable titles to stores who are happy to use the cash cows to underwrite a wider range of titles.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH...: Take care not to confuse the UK's Dirty Harry, who sing about cross-dressing vicars with the US's Dirty Harry, whose best song apparently is called Potato and is about a woman and her dildo.
Actually, is everything okay in the Dirty Harry (UK) camp? It's gorn everso quiet from her/them for the longest time...

POPSTARS MUST DIE: A gift from people with too much time on their hands to other people with too much time on their hands, pmd is a flash game that allows you to cause all manner of injuries to pop stars in an arcade game style. We've only got as far as dropping bricks on Ricky Martin so far, but - hey - that's a start, innit?

OFF-RECORD: The way music knocks onto other lives is endlessly fascinating, isn't it? Look, for example, how the Scientologists are using the RIAA as a justification for their attempts to stifle objections to their cash-milching religion.

HOW DO YOU MARK A DAY LIKE 11-09-01+365?: Especially if you're American. However much the right thing might be to allow current affairs and news programming do their thing, and carry on pretty much as normal otherwise - maybe a couple of minute's silence - the world in general and the US don't seem to be able to turn their backs on the opportunity for a mawkfest. We're hoping that the claims Alan Titchmarsh and the Ground Force team will be in New York to do a 9-11 special is just a pixie-style joke; however, MTV's plans for the US are truly awesome - as in awesomely bad: In acknowledgement of that event, MTV will air special programming before and during September 11, 2002. On September 3 at 10 p.m. ET (9 p.m. CT), MTV News Presents "After 09.11: Pop Life Goes On." From David Letterman's tearful return to the airwaves to NBC's "Playboy Centerfold Fear Factor" during Super Bowl halftime, the show examines 12 months of popular culture's highs and lows. "Pop Life Goes On" then takes a swing at predicting what's on the horizon. What, if any, lasting impact will last year's tragedy have on the zeitgeist?
So, in effect, they're treating the ninth of September like the first of January, doing a twelve month retrospective. About stuff which has very little to do with the plane crashes. Unless there's some thesis we've yet to hear which suggests that dropping maggots down the cleavage of bimbettes is somehow an act of national cleansing. Of course, there may be a programme in taking all the claims made mid September 2001 that "popular culture will never be the same again", lining them up against a largely unchanged pop culture background, and asking "why were those predictions so wrong?"; maybe even if those predictions were wrong in scale, even if in direction (is it just us, or are there suddenly a lot more than a lot fewer films involving scampering about over the New York skyline right now?) - but this isn't it. Doing a lame clips show isn't a tribute, and if the best angle you can come up with is I Love The Period Since The WTC, maybe doing nothing is the best idea?

INJURIES: Mean Fiddler probably swallowing hard at the reports in the Yorkshire Post today that their claims that none of the festival goers were injured - one lucky winner got to have emergency brain surgery after being smashed in the head by a bottle; Doubtless the MF will be quick to point out only 0.002% of music lovers had to have life-saving surgery. What we find incredible is that glass was allowed on the site at all - especially since the glass left behind even after the clean-up last year was one of the main concerns that led to calls for the event to be pulled in the first place.
In happier festival news, Cream managed to pull 40,000; the slimmed down Glasgow Gig on the Green went well; Mean Fiddler's Reading leg passed off with no death or destruction - all in all, it wasn't a bad weekend.

PEPSI FALLS FLAT: Pepsi is ending its sponsorship of the less important Top 40 (used by commercial radio stations and, really, nobody else) at the end of the year. The Daily Telegraph is speculating that the replacement sponsor might be a mobile phone company, keen to bring the same sort of mindless text gossiping generated by football and big brother sponsorships to the chart, thereby depriving the nostalgists who hope for a return to the original name for the list, the Nescafe Chart. Apparently it costs £1.75m to sponsor the chart, which we reckon should make it a fairly cheap deal compared to the cost of some other vanity projects. But before company finance directors get out the chequebook, it might be worth pausing a moment - did Pepsi actually gain anything from its sponsorship, apart from cementing its image as second best in people's minds? And whatever happened to Worldpop, who tried to buy the proper chart last year? Ozymandias Top 40, anyone?

SEP'VEN CONTROV: Cam'Ron's mate Santana has been attempting to explain his rap in honour of mass murderer Omar Atta. In a curious echo of that bloke from Slipknot's wheedling when he said Hitler was alright, Santana, apparently we're just misunderstanding this lyric: "I worship the prophet/The great Mohammed Omar Atta/For his courage behind the wheel of the plane/Reminds me when I was dealin' the 'caine."
Got that? Now, poor little Santana is all wide eyed and upset that people are 'willfully misinterpreting' his lyric:
"I never said I worshipped him, I said I worshipped his courage," he said. "It had nothing to do with 9/11 or me supporting them because I know people in the towers too. If you really listen to the song it was talking about that and the whole situation.
"No matter what anybody says, that was courage right there. If anybody wants to say I worship them, well I know how I feel - I don't worship them. I don't appreciate anything they ever did. I'm not with them, not 1%, not 2% not 10% but I've looked in the dictionary and I've defined the word courage."

Hmmm, now even if you do believe Omar was brave rather than mentally ill to an astonishingly dangerous degree (or, perhaps, evil), you don't have to be that bright to see that praising his "bravery" in crashing a plane full of people into a building full of people to kill the maximum number of people is also an act of extreme selfishness, callousness and brutality, and only a cold-hearted moron would assume it's in any way possible to hymn the "courage" without lauding the act. There are any number of people who've done brave things for their people; selecting a cowardly plane hijacker suggests you're just looking to create a buzz. We can't wait to watch it blow up in your face.
Self-immolation might be brave; mass murder - not so [NME] - your heroes suck

A PICTURE PAINTS A (HALF) THOUSAND RIOTERS: The MF's attempts to return to Temple Newsham not entirely going to be helped by the photos on this morning, which have a bit of a Book of Revelations feel to them, it has to be said. Not too sure about the headline - "the first photos" - though. Jesus, three days to get pictures from Leeds to London? I know it's the north, lads, but...

THE MILLINER'S TALE: There are very few famous hat makers - we think, perhaps, of Mr. Bowler, and Julia from much-missed Radio 4 soap Citizens - but we can now add Fred Durst to the list. As if his constant sporting of a stupid baseball cap wasn't bad enough, he's now started flogging the things. Yes, you can get a cap, in your choice of colours, with Dursty's signature on them. Woo.
Hats entertainment [Undercover] - at least while he's making hats, he's not making records...

HATS OFF: To the good people at, who headlined their Leeds report 'Bonfire of the Sanitary'

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

INTERESTING, BUT...: Hmmm. Over on Blogcritics, Kenan Herbet attempts to measure new music in terms of penis size. It's an interesting idea - and I'm using "interesting" in the sense here of "an idea someone had, and it's interesting they didn't abandon it there and then", but once back in the dim distant past I reviewed a month's music and telly in terms of Instant Coffees, so I'm not one to talk, am I? There's also drawings of penises, though. I think this might be Everything Thats Wrong with Rock Writing 101.

WE SMILE: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift is back at its desk, nervously rolling down its sleeves to hide the tanlines, and talking about Cinerama. Hurrah. Of course.

WHO RECORD SHOPS ON BANK HOLIDAY MONDAYS? Look, we're just going to do a quick rinse and spin on the new releases, since all you kids just download them and then go out and buy commercial pirated versions anyway. A rush of blood to the head, or what Coldplay did next, is to Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the deaf, as Angels with dirty faces by Sugababes is to Snap's best of. And, of course, as Ms Dynamite's A little deeper (now out on vinyl) is to Daniel Beddingfield's Gotta get thru this. Is it just us, or is it always a bad sign when the album is named after an almost forgotten single?. The money left over in your big holiday pot would be better invested in Stiff Little Finger's Peel Sessions album.

Singles, on the other hand, are a veritable Ambassador's gathering of spoilment. Envy from Ash and Beany bean by ooberman come lately to the market, joining Dy-na-mite-ee from Miss Dynamite and action, the triumphant return of Saint Etienne. And in any normal week, Princess Superstar's Keith n me would be on the highest platform in the kingdom, covered in garlands, but Golden Boy and Miss Kittin have got Rippin Kittin out, which frankly is The Greatest Record Ever (note: may be subject to change at some point soon).

BANDS WE'D FORGOTTEN ABOUT: RollingStone's Well Hung At Dawn column gets excited about the imminent Big Leaves debut album. Jesus, if they're still dicking about in the studio - what, three years on from their being hailed at In The City? - who the hell is it selling burgers outside the little Argos in the town centre?

FIDDLER ON THE LINE: Melvin Benn from the Mean Fiddler has just popped up on the Liz Kershaw show to defend the Leeds Festival, apparently proud that the marauding 500 people at the event only set fire to two of the sixteen toilet blocks - apparently, they'd tried to torch eight to half a dozen, one at a time, moving on to a fresh one with every block that refused to burn. He then concluded a dreadful performance by hoping that West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Council don't "give in" to the five, six hundred people who caused all the trouble. Which - apart from almost taunting the police - demonstrates clearly the problem with the Mean Fiddler's organisation of the event. There's no actual apology for the fact they lost control of their campsite (yes, fair enough, only one), or to engage with the criticisms advanced by Lib Dem Leeds Councillor David Morton, who has always been pro-Festival. He went as a paying customer, and had a great time, but he told Six Music he was not impressed with the stewarding; describing the stewards as unmanaged and demotivated, they weren't -in his opinion - doing their job properly. As to a festival in 2003, he explained that the council are contractually obliged to let the event proceed, so its down to the licence being approved by magistrates. In effect, then, Leeds 2003 depends on the police's attitude. And that might have a lot to do with the Mean Fiddler's approach to PR for the next year. So far, taking an attitude that "it's only a few hundred people out of thousands, why let them spoil it for everyone?" seems to be shuttling the event towards oblivion.

HOW DARE YOU LISTEN TO THE RECORDS YOU OWN: Lots more on Need To Know this week about the proposed EU Copyright Directive - a scheme designed to stop you doing pretty much anything with your CDs, and lots of encouragment to go to Stand to find out more, and find out what you can do to stop this sort of thing.

RIAA reports further decline in CD shipping in the US Yadda yadda yadda... So far, so usual - not as many million sellers this year (but other than Eminem, what big titles would have been expected to do so?), and so on, and here's Cary Sherman: "Cumulatively, this data should dispel any notion that illegal file sharing helps the music industry," he said.
"In fact, there are numerous red flags and warning bells that illustrate conclusively the harmful impact of illegal downloading on today's music industry.
"This industry must continue to combat piracy in new and innovative ways - commercial disc piracy continues to harm the industry."
Hang about - just read that back. File sharing bad... illegal music downloading main culprit... harmful... file sharing" - but then concludes that its "commercial piracy." Did you see that sudden flip? Here we are talking about downloads, now all of a sudden we're talking about commercial disc piracy, which is a whole different part of the salad bar.
There's an almost criminally bad survey to accopmany the announcement - there so often is. The RIAA have paid for (and that might suggest some sort of lack of impartiality) a survey of 860 internet users (now, bear in mind that mean fiddler believe 500 out of 50,000 to be insignificant - so what does that make 860 out of all the millions of webusers in the US?). Lets pretend it was a proper survey with a signifant sample size, and find out: what do they say?
Among people who said their downloading from file-sharing services had increased over the past six months, fully 41 percent reported purchasing less music now than six months ago, compared to only 19 percent who said they were purchasing more music.
So, despite the economic turndown, and the lack of many major releases, well over half the people who report downloading more have either purchased the same amount or more music than they were a year ago. Isn't that a pretty good figure? Many industries in America would be pleased that less than half their toughest market segment have purchased less of what is a product with a very elastic demand at the best of times. What next?
Even for those who are downloading the same amount, nearly two-to-one are purchasing less music in the past six months -- 25 percent purchased less, 13 percent more and 62 percent purchased the same amount of music.
So, there again, I'm not sure why this is meant to be dire - seventy five percent of people purchases at least remain steady is a glowing headline, isn't it?
And, for those who are downloading less, 22 percent said they purchased less in the last six months, 23 percent said they purchased more and 55 percent said they purchased the same amount.
So let's get this straight - one in five people who download less music are even then not buying as much? Doesn't that suggest the evaporation in the market is as much down to the market having less cash, and less glittery things to tempt them?
Furthermore, considerthe PriceWaterhouseCoopers figures that present us with the 7% drop. (And, hey, let's not roll our eyes at the American accountants; I will not have sniggering at their expense - just because Arthur Andersen has been totally discredited doesn't mean you can't trust a single word any accountant says). That drop isn't in sales - like the last lot of figures were for; it's for shipping. Now, forgive us if we're wrong here, but if sales dropped last cycle, surely there's going to be less shipping to shops next cycle, as the shops will downgrade their orders to take account both of the previous fall in demand, and the increase in unsold stock they will have built up as a result. In effect, then, this new 'drop' is little more than the drop they reported before, but wearing warehouse overalls instead of front of house suit. Does anyone at the RIAA actually have any economics training, or do they consider that too vulgar?

GEORGE, MAKE UP YOUR MIND: What's with George Michael, eh? According to Ananova , which read it in the Sun, he's pulled out of a deal to do a documentary for the BBC because of that My Worst Week recently which was about him being caught tweaking an undercover cop in a toilet. Now, forgive us if we're a bit off key here, but following that event, didn't George fly about the chat shows bearding people about his sexuality: telling everyone what a relief it had been, how happy he was that it was all out in public, and (continued in most Carry On movies, elsewhere). Then came Outside, which was The Secret Policeman's Balling set to music, complete with a video recreation. Even in Walk The Dog, there's animated references to the bog-brush with the law. So why, all of a sudden, has George gone quiet on the matter? Are we now not supposed to mention it? Does it not fit with your new freedom-fighting image?
George, you've taken it on the chin before - don't go all coy on us now. The last thing your career needs is for you to decide to become a Pee-Wee Herman-like p-p hermit...

IN A MOMENT, H AND CLAIRE. FIRST, HERE'S A WORD FROM MALCOLM RIFKIND: The Electoral Commission has published a consultation paper on the future of Party Election Broadcasts which, despite misgivings from broadcasters and regulators, is proposing that 'genre-based' channels be included in those networks which are obliged to carry party political broadcasts during election campaigns. This means that being sport or music based channels won't be a get out to stop you from having to carry fireside chats from Iain Duncan-Smith.
Now, I can imagine the shock and horror that is currently permeating Camden Lock at this moment, as they wonder how a five minute run through of endogenous growth is going to hit the audience for MTV - will the real world harm The Real World, but it might actually be good all round. First up, they're proposing cutting the length of the PEBs to one minute thirty (they currently run at two minutes forty, but just seem much longer), and at the moment channels like MTV Hits and Kerrang are running adverts which are half as relevant and twice as long - if the audience can cope with that stuff for cleaning decking and shoes, or about unlocking pensions they've probably not started earning, they'll almost certainly be able to cope with ninety seconds of politics. Second, as the Electoral Commission observe, the audiences who watch MTV (or Sky Sports One) are just the sort of people who probably opted out of the electoral process altogether last time round - anything that offers at least a prospect of reconnecting them with democracy has to be considered.
More importantly, it might lead both parties and stations to raise their game. Much has been made of MTV's supposed efforts to get young people interested in politics; at the last election this seemed to manifest itself solely in the form of a webdownload to make Tony Blair dance. Perhaps if they know their programming is going to have something a bit less patronising, they might lift their sights and sites a little. Likewise, having to grab a younger audience between Pink's cheeks and Robbie's bum may generate new ideas and better broadcasts in the parties' campaign HQs.
On the other hand, it could just be a huge switch-off as Tories in suits have a little chat in front of a row of leather-bound books about the Euro exchange rates.
But its got to be worth a try.

SMALL EARTHQUAKE IN WEST YORKSHIRE - NO CUSTOMERS HURT: Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the Leeds microriot, the Yorkshire Post is leading with 'Never again' demand after pop mob goes on rampage; it's certain that the Mean Fiddler are going to have their work cut out to persuade the council to allow them to set up camp there next year. Not that the MF seems to believe that, from what they tell the Post:
Festival organiser Mean Fiddler remained defiant last night though, saying it would not let a mindless minority stop the festival from going ahead next year.
Well, for a start, the licensing authority won't take kindly to being called a mindless minority. Stoppit, I'm killing meself. Seriously, strap yourself in for some serious point avoidance. Firstly, the problem is not with the five hundred rioters so much as the thousands of people who didn't want Temple Newsham to be given over the event this time. They'd warned of dire events, and, sadly, been proved right. If the best the MF can come up with is "We can't let those rioters spoil it for the others", they'd might as well not bother applying for a licence next year - it's rock as a whole that is unwelcome in the park; riots are just an example of the sort of things the Cassandras of West Yorkshire fear.
A spokeswoman said: "No festival-goers were injured. Police and security attended, contained and dealt with the situation."
'Well, none of our customers were injured" is hardly going to help counter the Police press release which reports 'determined, sustained and mindless' violence and the injury of a policeman. (Although, actually, can an act be simultaneously determined and mindless?)
"She added: "The action of under one per cent of the crowd should not be allowed to detract from a very successful weekend."
But, you see, while Guns & Roses may have played wonderfully and the sale of burgers and pop might have been good, people setting fire to toilets and hurling missiles at police does have a bit of a nasty habit of taking the sheen off events, especially as far as residents of an area would see things. The people of Leeds, as far as I know, weren't writing letters to the Post saying "I am concerned about the holding of a festival at Temple Newsham - are we really to believe an act as young as The Strokes justifies their position as a headline act?"
"We will strive to make the festival better next year. The Leeds Festival will have a very long and successful future."
"Only one per cent of people rioted" isn't a justification, or an explanation; it isn't even an apology. The Mean Fiddler have a lot more explaining to do if the predicition of a long and successful future is going to come true. So far, it's not much in the way of bridge building with the community, who might reasonably view "only one percent" of a crowd of 50,000 as a few too many people to have setting fire to buildings in their neighbourhood.

PASSING THE HAT ROUND ROUND: Sugababes in desperate straits... apparently they'll have to wait until 2004 until they see any money from their - ahem - songwriting. They make a fuss about how they write their own songs, don't they? For example, Heidi told the Sun "At least we wrote the song ourselves, unlike lots of manufactured bands." 'Ourselves' might be stretching a point, as Alexis Petridis points out:"It took 12 people to write the follow-up, Round Round: that isn't songwriting so much as throwing ideas at the wall in the hope one of them will stick." You need a mess of help to stand alone, of course; it also appears you need a mess of help to put your words down on paper.
But back to the problems of the 'babes not getting any cash until 2004 (and that's probably best estimates - dividing the royalties twelve ways is going to call for long division) - um, girls - have you heard of publishing advances?

Monday, August 26, 2002

MAKE MINE A DOUBLE: MTV Hits, the lumbering music telly giant's bid to steal back Smash Hits & The Box's audience, has been doing one of its occasional weekends Doubles events, where they play - as the name would imply - one track from an artist, followed by, yes, another a track from the same artist. The genius move that MTV Hits makes, though, is to play the current track first, followed by one from ages ago, thereby generating an instant compare and contrast environment that works so much better than doing it the other way round. So, it's possible to listen to the Appleton debut and think "This isn't half as bad as people imply", only - as soon as it ends - for All Saints to come on doing Pure Shores, and it becomes clear exactly what's missing. (Clue: Shaznay turns out to have been the talented one who lifted the project from being pleasantly sung pleasant enough tunes into Great Pop.) In the opposite direction, Beyonce's solo Work It Out passes over for Say My Name, and shows up what seemed at the time to have been a whole carnival to have consisted of little more than a whelk store and a roundabout in comparison. For some reason, the new-followed-by-old line-up gives a far clearer paralax view. We hope MTV2 will adopt the idea and let us see, say Envy followed by Kung-Fu or early Marilyn Manson after his pisspoor new efforts.

A SINNER REPENTS: There's a bit in the Bible, we're lead to believe, about how God is happier to see a sinner repent than a person who's been good and pious his whole life. Which sort of strikes us as odd - God really gets more satisfaction out of someone heeding his words after they've left a trail of rape, pillage, drunkeness and albums like Magic Hotel in their wake, rather than without them causing misery and suffering to others to get there? Curious chap, isn't he? Anyway, God - if he takes an interest in internet spammage - will be delighted at the mea culpa sent round by Masters of the Obvious, or MOTO as they called themselves in their long reign of spam terror. As far was we know they have nothing to do with Moto, the erstwhile Granada motorway service areas - although the reliance on spam may be connected. (Only joking, Moto - we know the quality restaurants besides the motorways use only the highest-quality cheap ingredients...) MOTO the band suddenly realised they were spamming, and so sent an (albeit cross-posted) apology for their over-enthusiastic behaviour. Blimey.
As a small reward for that, we'll mention they have MP3 downloads available online. We really can't vouch for their quality or otherwise - we're not as forgiving as God, and associate the name solely with having to highlight huge blocks of identical mails - but they're there if you want to look.

THAT'LL BE THE LAST OF LEEDS, THEN: We can't help wondering if the Mean Fiddler's rep as organisers of secure and safe festivals will survive the latest Leeds Festival mini-riot; certainly the Leeds leg of the Carling Weekend won't. Maybe if they'd really had an alternative site in mind while they were challenging the ban on the Temple Newsham venue, by going there they could have broken the Leeds-Toilet burning link that seems to have formed in segments of the Leeds audience's mind.
We raise our hats to BBC News online, though, for its even-handed reporting of the incidents:
Several hundred festival-goers went on the rampage after the event at Temple Newsam finished, burning two toilet blocks to the ground and attacking police with missiles.
Skips were set alight and electric cables were pulled down, and 200 officers - many in riot gear - were deployed to stop the trouble.
Over 50,000 people attended the three-day event, which otherwise passed off peacefully.

If only they'd been able to report the Jo'burg conference in the same way - "apart from the trouble, it passed off peacefully." Bless.
Maybe next year they should look at getting sponsorship for the toilet-block fires...