Wednesday, May 21, 2003

What the pop papers say: The Uses of Shit edition

If you have the internet at home, at work, or maybe just an aunt who has a Teletext enabled telly, you might have already caught wind of the leap from website to magazine taken by Popjustice. In it's media-straddling, it's lost none of its spike, wit or passion, we're delighted to report, and has merely become the same thing it always was, only in a format which you can roll up and use to keep wasps away from your picnic lunch while you slumber during the lunch interval when Sussex play at Hove. Fuelled by a love of pop the way an eight year old gets fuelled by the colouring in supermarket own brand orangeade, popjustice not com's genuine love for its subjects allow it to get away with ideas that would have other journalists being escorted from the plush interview suite. The upside for the bands is that people who we'd had pegged as utter dicks come across as actually rather nice. Thus Busted happily answer the questions Martin Bashir had previously put to Michael Jackson, and Girls Aloud - who, hitherto, we would have had made into some sort of crab paste substitute - appear to be quite witty and smiley, almost to the point where we're thinking of having some sexual fantasies about them.

But the highlight is Ross Trueman's A to Z of pop. Printing the unaltered drafts is quite a wonderful move, especially when he tries to deal with the subject of kiddie-fiddling in music. That, alone, makes the magazine worth it's measly two quid fifty. You can get hold of one by sending a cheque or postal order for GBP2.50 to Popjustice, PO Box 33761 London SW3 5WR, or ordering online at We recommend it highly. And hugely.

Rosie Millard reports from the Madonna public debasement that was the HMV gig for the New Statesman. She reckons it cost HMV eighty thousand in lost sales: “We’ll get letters of complaint. Bound to. Madonna’s a minority interest” sniffs the manager - which really is a measure of how far she’s sunk on the public affection scale - she once was a sniff behind Princess Di; now she can’t even match buying three for thirty quid DVDs for thrills.

“Like all the best parties, Britpop left a lot of fag-burns on the carpet” observes Andrew Collins, reviewing John Harris’ Britpop book The Last Party, also in the Staggers. Praising Harris’ deft linking of politics and music in the nineties, Collins then observes that Britpop was the first musical movement which was all-inclusive. This left the NME and Select fighting for access to ‘their’ bands with The Sun and Observer - and this is probably a state from which the nme never quite recovered.

The Tatler hosts Gwen Steffani as cover girl, offering a couple of pages of pix and some so-so at home guff. They also claim that Gwen’s style has been more inspirational to teenagers than that of Kylie or Britney, which seems a bit of a wild claim - round our way, they still lean to the less-mother-pleasing definition of skank style.

MediaGuardian covers the link-up between Conde Naste and Ministry of Sound to create a new magazine called Trash. Now, with a title like that, it could have been great - it could have been a contender; a clarion call to the discarded and forgotten of the world. Instead, it's going to be another celebrity magazine, clamouring in the increasingly over-crowded market for celebrity exclusives. It's named after - and inspired by - the Warhol film, on the surely mistaken belief that if Andy was alive today "he'd be obsessed with Jordan, he'd be obsessed with the Beckhams, he'd be obsessed with Footballer's Wives." Maybe - if he'd decided to move from New York to Redditch - and this is where the problem kicks in. The business plan imagines they're going to sell one out of every five copies overseas - of the names they've dropped, maybe David Beckham has international appeal. But I've stretched my incredulity down over my knees, and I still can't see a small crowd gathering at Boston harbour clamouring for the latest on Jordan and Gillian Taylforth.

In what we can only assume was some sort of prank, The Guadian invited Dave Lee Travis to comment on the current state of the singles chart. DLT - or 'the Hairy Cornflake' as he (and he alone) would refer to himself to the amusement of none - slams the record industry. Not that he thinks it's all bad - he's just not happy with acts who sell on image, but "Daniel Bedingfield is a good new artist, Kylie is doing some great stuff [there's an artist proud to say 'I don't look good and I'm not going to bare my stomach', as DLT demands], and Eternal, too." (We think he means Mis-Teeq rather than Eternal). But it's a bit rich for Travis to condemn "the load of tosh" that he says is British Music, 2003. Because isn't this the same Dave Lee Travis responsible for the reprehensible novelty hit Convy GB in the 70s? The same DLT whose period in charge of the Breakfast Show came at a time when the likes of Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes sat at number one forever and a day, until they had to introduce myxamitosis into Woolthworths Record Department to deal with it? We have issues with the British Music Industry - you might have noticed - but if they were producing music that didn't leave Dave feeling sidelined, confused and alienated, they'd have real problems.

Thom Yorke is blue; or at least he is on the cover of the nme. But of course. Icy and miserable, innit? It's another one of those frothing over-the-top review as news story specials – up til page five is taken with 'band return, play some songs'; there'd be more, but they're saving some stuff for next week, of course. The Edge went to the Dublin gig; the nme treats this as if it makes the event legendary, but it smells to us more of Death hovering round at a christening.

Other news: Dave Grohl's made a porn video – a full on, Trisha type affair. Xcept it's just a spoofy old pop video type thing, and it features the increasingly unwelcome presence of Jack Black; the nme runs a map of exactly where the 'Leeds' Festival will be this year – not quite the arse-end of nowhere, but up the motorway from the back of beyond; a confused reader seems to think the Leeds Festival "has put Leeds on the map" – yeah, who'd heard of the place before?; a spokesman for Thames Trains frets that the closure of the London-Reading line during the Reading Festival will cost it money, although they can offset that by not needing the heavy-handed methods to ensure fare dodgers don't slip through the net. Of course, Network Rail claims that even with the Reading Festival "there will be half as many people travelling" – what, less than any other weekend? I'd love to see some figures to back up this statement; having broken her music career in less than two singles, Kelly Osbourne has now decided she'd like to be an actress – "I’d rather do an independent movie because I don't even know if I can act yet" – Kelly, didn't your wooden Doritios adverts give you even a slight hint?; The Matrix are going to work with Bowie – we suspect the thin white duke has got the Lavigne songwriters and Carrie-Ann Moss confused, bless him; meanwhile, Simon Fuller is forcing the unpleasantly named Amy Studt, the British answer to Avril Lavigne (I thought that was 'Please, stay at home'?); there's an interesting story about the trustee of Andy Rourke's bankruptcy looking to sell on his royalty stream that isn't given the attention it deserves – Rourke is, unsurprisingly pissed off – but, boy, what a great gift for a Smiths fan. Or Morrissey, come to that.

Manchester University has been freezing the accounts of students caught file-sharing – "there was no warning to students before that from the university" wails Oli Coleman, who is studying philosophy and politics. Is that the quality of students in Manchester? Now, we have problems with unis being forced to police copyright law, but… the university sent an email saying "You've been downloading movies; delete them and stop doing it; if you do it again, we'll freeze your account", which seems to be fair enough – they could hardly say 'You've got illegal copyright material on your computer, don't do it again', could they? Or are Manc Students running on back-up power and feel that unless there's a sign saying 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' then they're free to thieve?

Ian McCulloch chooses ten tracks that he'd burn to a CD if it wasn't all illegal and everything – the Dandy Warhols, Bowie, Nirvana, and The Coral. Oddly, no Coldplay, despite his claims elsewhere that Chris Martin is the greatest thing ever.

The Agenda: They're Atlantan (Georgia, not under the sea) and punk garage. And they "want to dance to the sound of 'right now'"

In a nifty sidebar to the Electric Six piece, they 'out' four stars who went in and out the closet. Only, erm… Bowie didn't say gay, did he? Nor did Brett Anderson. And wasn't only one of the Village People not actually gay? And as for even considering Tatu… But anyway: Are Electric 6 gay? "Only at weekends" says, erm, Dick.

There's a cuttings Keanu piece, fulfilling the legal stipulation that every magazine must have something about the Matrix Reloaded in.

Sexier than fish: A two page spread of mainly semi-naked Libertine loveliness. Yum.

Oh, we've got posters again, on a Glasto theme: a blurry Jack White; Richard Ashcroft stood in front of a caravan – uniting the two dullest things from England in one image; a not very good shot of Thom Yorke which makes him look like he's taken a bite of a dogshit sandwich; Liam apparently mincing off stage with a can of Stella Artois; a distant Morrissey who could really be anyone at all; Courtney Love looking like she's just woken up and a shot of Nick from Queens of the Stone Age's back. If these are the best shots of the festival in the nme archives, they can save themselves a few bob by not bothering to send a photographer this year.

There's things to do this summer, like a kind of substandard BBC Holiday magazine with the words 'The Libertines' sprinkled throughout.

audio bullys - ego war - "would gain three points if it came out as an instrumental only", 6
shed seven - where have you been? - "disco down sounds worryingly good", 5
various - under the influence - "[Morrissey's, the chooser] most consistent album in years", 7
ex-models - zoo psychology - "the musical equivalent of a DIY trepanning", 8
ten benson - danger of deaf - "you can almost smell the beer, vomit and mild terror", 7

sotw - are weapons - hey world - "something that'll really appal your parents"
skin - trashed - "she's stuck to another skunk anansie trait - writing dogshit tunes"
busta rhymes and mariah cary - I know what you want - "she seems to have tamed Busta somewhat"

evan dando - Bristol anson rooms - "there's the soul of a survivor"
rocket science - Manchester night and day -"awesome"
22-20s - Cambridge boat race - "about as 'now' as steam powered radio, but so 2003"
mogwai - Northampton soundhaus - "crucially, Blur are still shite"
stellastarr* - Camden barfly - "Frank Black shoved through a mangle"

there's a letter in angst from JZ of Chicago, who fucked the drummer from The Music and thinks she may well have been the "pig faced girl" Phil was talking about in a recent NME. She bridles that she'd only gone to see the Vines anyway, and besides, she'd been drunk, and besides, she'd done it for a dare. Julia, honey - we might consider sleeping with the drummer from the Music for a bet - if the stakes were high enough to cover the necessary pre-shag alcohol, the days of post-shag cleaning products and grooming, and still have enough over to make it worth our while. But, for a dare? You really thought you couldn't live with your mates spending the next few weeks going "You didn't sleep with the Drummer from The Music?" rather than the rest of your life marked as Not Merely the girl who slept with him, but then announced to the world that she did. Jesus. An exchange place at Manchester University awaits you.

And, finally: " Here's a suggestion for Rosie Boycott, Charles Moore and those other members of the media nobility who have argued, on a point of principle, for the legalisation of marijuana. Do what I did the other evening and go see The Dandy Warhols in concert. After three hours or so of likeable but interminable wibbling, you realise just what the stuff can really do. It's not an argument against legalisation of the drug, I suppose. But it's a convincing argument against its consumption." Rod Liddle, The Guardian, 21-5-03

[Edited 20-06-07 at the request of JZ]

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