Saturday, January 11, 2003

Newsnight Review review

Interesting piece about Gangsta Rap on Newsnight Review last night - although it wasn't quite clear how this fitted with their usual remit (were they reviewing Kim Howell's statement? Or the entire genre?). In the introductory film, Imran Khan described the So-Solid Crew as rapping about "the life they've been brought up with", which seems a bit rich, actually - from the way the stage schoolie so solids blub when they're caught with guns, the best you can say is that they're rapping about the life they think their audience has been brought up with.

What's curious in the current debate is that the focus on the so Solid's gun fixation (which is clearly an image) lets them off their much more serious habit of being linked to sexually-motivated violence on women - the closing of ranks round the member who smashed a girl's jaw when she refused to have sex with him is barely mentioned, despite this being a more everyday crime than the odd bit of gun shooting.
Responding to Khan's focus on the other side of So Solid and Rap lyrics, the positive social commentary, Ian Hislop suggested it was "over egging it to pretend its largely about social welfare", which was a point Ekow Eshun implicitly agreed with - "[they] celebrate money and cars" (rather than guns).

But, generally, the debate didn't actually go anywhere, since at least three quarters of the participants more or less admitted they didn't know much about the music at all - the feeling was vaguely reminiscent of those Chris Morris pieces where he'd ring up a spokeperson and ask them to comment on some outrageous rap track. It's great that there's a debate. Now we just need to wait for an informed one to arrive.

I believed they were older

So, the R Kelly book for children is being brought back into publication. And why not? From the looks of that video, who knows more about making children squeal with delight than R Kelly.

"Due to the encouraging nature of 'I Can Fly!' we feel that the book falls right in line with our mission to inspire readers to dream, work hard, and overcome any obstacles that try to keep them from their goals," [His publisher] Dulaney said.

Obstacles like statutory rape charges, for example?

Lack of experience

Sure, Andrew Lack may have worked at CBS in the dim distant past, but since he's spent the last few years at NBC - much of it in the News department - is he really the best person to take charge at Sony Music? Can we expect a Tom Brokaw jazz album?

We reckon they were hired by Jacko

Who else could be as low as to mug Jarvis Cocker and steal his glasses?

Talking of jacko, pyro pointed out that he'd been to visit Maurice Gibb in hospital (BeeGee no longer at death's door, by the way, but sort-of-round the garden gate) - presumably because its one of the few occasions he can wear a medical mask and blend in rather than stand out.


It turns out the police have seized bootleg Beatles tapes and not the Bootleg Beatles.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Eminem IS pants

We're a little confused by Eminem's move into fashion retailing. Sure, we always thought there was something a little Mike Baldwin about him, but one of the things you can't say for him is that he's well dressed.

"The clothes will be a pure reflection of what he'd be wearing" says a person from the company he's hooked up with - so, that'd be council mum nipping out for a pint of milk chic, then.

Still, we look forward to when they don't sell that well and shops are forced to hold a sale of ill-fitting tracksuit trousers and crappy baseball hats, as they can call it "Eminem - Cleaning Out My Closet."

Maurice hoping to be staying alive

Maurice Gibb in critical condition after suspected heart attack. And if you think our headline is tactless, what about Ananova - should an ill man have his marriage to Lulu held against him?


Thanks to Richard from popism and Karl K for their feedback on the new look; their points have been taken on board at the fine-tuning stage.

And, if you're yearning for the old look, we've saved the original first page (albeit in version 2 and not how it looked then) and a more-or-less random section from last year for you.

Shoot the messenger

We got this email from Aaron, who makes some points about Gangsta rap:

"..blaiming gangsta rap for The Gun Culture(TM) is on a par with blaming EastEnders for skinhead violence because it's got a bald bloke who punches people in it."

I'm a fully paid up-sandal wearing guardian reading leftie, but I really think you (and everyone else saying it) are wrong about this.

The way I see it, the major labels feed on the paranoid and poverty of certain black communities (which obviously is the fault of the state, not the music industry) by producing hip-hop/garage/gangsta rap that promises a glamorous escape from 'the ghetto' through violence, in the knowledge, that it will seem aspirational to inner-city black youths, while providing vicarious thrills to comfortable white youths. For them, it's a win-win situation, until, of course, they have to deal with the moral consequences of their greed.

I'm not saying the music industry caused the situation, but it does nothing to help, and even exacerbates things. And in Britain, we make exactly the same mistakes the Americans do, just a little later. Why are the only successful British hip-hop acts those that have an undercurrent of violence?

And, for all of his pomposity, the guy who wrote to the Telegraph is right. Westwood is as guilty as other R1 DJ's of using his privileged position to promote acts that will line his pocket, without a thought for the moral consequences or the public-service remit of the BBC.
Which is not to say the BBC isn't doing some good work. The news bulletins of 1xtra are fantastic, as is Deviation (an underground hip-hop show on Thursday nights, which you should check out, if you haven't already), amongst other things I probably don't know about.

You might also take a look at talking point [BBC News Online] and read what anti-gun campaigner and record producer Charles Bailey had to say yesterday.

and, for what it's worth, I do think Aaron has a sort of point - as indeed did Fraser - the labels and the whole stance of the So Solid Crew are making hard cash from selling back the myth of just how cool violence is through a lot of music. But while that's true, I'm a bit unsettled that Gangsta Rap (and associated music) is being made to carry the can for the increase in gun crime on the streets, and was just a bit surprised that anyone could be so cynical as to use the shooting of two teenaged women as a platform to complain, basically, that the music his company puts out isn't being played on Radio One.

Sadly, it seems to me that the music itself is reflecting a more violent society at its sharpest point, rather than shaping it; and I fear all the press coverage will do is attract more nutters with guns to rap gigs (the 'give a dog a bad name' effect was seen with the So Solid gigs last year.)

Personally, I'd rather listen to songs about flowers and girls and boys and kissing, but that's not what young city-dwelling Britons seem to want to either make or consume. Seemingly. And if there were other sorts of music available in the Capital, I don't know if it would make much difference to the general gun-crazed mayhem on the streets - Liverpool is awash with mini-Oasises and, to an increasing extent, acts who feel themselves to be psychedelic but actually are more like the Inspiral Carpets. And Merseyside is kneecap-deep in gun crime. It is shocking that the only artist who's managed to work up a statement attacking the dicks with guns is Ms Dynamite - it'd be nice to see something along the lines of the Stop The Violence Movement's Self Destruction project taking root in the UK - although the fifteen years since that happened in the States kind of proves that there's only so much musical pleas for ceasefire can achieve.

On your point about Westwood, though: He's had a reputation in the past for putting his pocketbook before the public service remit of the BBC, hasn't he?

Suddenly, we think we might be forced to shift our affections

The mighty Rocktober has spotted a throwaway line that strikes fear into the hearts of all right-thinking people: Britney has been recording with Fred Durst.

'We know we're pissing in the wind' admits RIAA

There's an interesting feature on BBC News Online about download sites and, more importantly, the RIAA's attitude to them. Even while they're attempting to bully universities into blocking all use of file-sharing applications (not just the swapping of copyright material), Cary Sherman has admitted they're never going to stop free music online:

"He said the aim was to bring the proliferation of sites under control so that business were (sic) free to continue to make money.

"Our aim is not to completely eliminate music piracy or illegal peer-to-peer services altogether," said Mr Sherman. "As long as it is within a reasonable amount of control then we will be happy but we are still a long way from that."

Um... hang about a minute - what are you saying? You spent all of last year getting Britney Spears to make a tit of herself with "downloading a track is the same as stealing a CD from a shop" and waving lawsuits about left, right and centre - and now you say you can peacefully coexist with music downloads?

Does this mean that - to use your own organisations metaphor - you'd be comfortable with people stealing CDs from shops, providing there's only a few of them? Is there a formula being held by the RIAA where we can calculate what an acceptable level would be? Three sites? Three hundred? Sixteen thousand tracks available? Two hundred thousand downloads worldwide every day? I'm totally confused, Mr. Sherman.

But it's not just Cary. Hilary Rosen has softened up, too:
"The overriding goal of our efforts to curb illegal internet music trafficking has been to foster an online environment where the legitimate services can succeed."

This is obviously a lie - the RIAA was smashing rocks into Napster's face long before any of their members had even a prototype 'legitimate' service; the policy was always to try and kill online music dead and if Napster has a legacy, it's more in forcing the major labels to accept their days of charging through the nose for distribution, pressing and stocking of plastic circles are numbered.

But we should welcome the shift of emphasis from Rosen, even if it is mealy-mouthed. What it boils down to is that RIAA have apparently realised over the Christmas Pudding and Brandy Butter that they've lost the argument, and lost the battle. Of course, they're not calling off the dogs yet, but, as the BBC reports:
Mr Sherman admitted that the only response to illegal peer-to-peer services was to promote "legal, attractive alternatives that will make consumers want to pay for their music."

We might have guessed - it's all the BBC's fault

Of course, we're all a bit worried about the stupid "we love our guns" nature of some music, but blaiming gangsta rap for The Gun Culture(TM) is on a par with blaming EastEnders for skinhead violence because it's got a bald bloke who punches people in it. Not that that's stopped the fantastically misinformed Neil Fraser leaping on the bandwagon, saying that everytime "a black youth" is killed in a gun crime, Radio One should share some of the blame because of all that rap music they play, and why don't they play reggae instead, or some nice lover's rock instead of all this loud music about guns?

NB: Mr. Fraser's label, Ariwa, releases reggae and nice lover's rock records. Any suspiscion that his attack might be fuelled more by reggae shows being squeezed out to make room for more "street" sounds would, of course, be uncharitable.
He also seems to think that "BBC 1 Extra" (sic) "has several programmes that encourage gun violence", which is overstating the case wildly. 1xtra may play some music without thinking through its message - we've had problems with the casual dropping of homophobia into the mix ourselves - but to suggest that it carries shows like "Why not shoot someone tonight?" and "Carry a gun - it's cool" is just ridiculous.

Oh, and if it's all about gangsta rap, why are most of the people involved in plastic gangster gun incidents in Liverpool thick white people?

Gorky, it's the compilations

Amongst a smattering of new and repackaged material being announced: Gorky's Zygotic Mynci have got an early singles compilation scheduled for March; Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks - talk about giving a band a bad name - have a new album 'Pig Lib' due March 14th; Supergrass desperately try to raise interest in their forthcoming tour by bringing out 'Seen The Light' as a single and Moloko return on February 10th with Statues. It's not all good news, though, Madonna is putting something out in April. If we start praying now, we might just persuade the powers that it should be more Ray of Light than American Pie.

Roll over, Mottola

Well, Tommy Mottola's having a time, isn't he? Branded racist by Michael Jackson, watching his ex-wife Mariah go nuts and meekly re-adopt the personna he'd originally crafted for her - now he's quit as head of Sony to set up his own label. Don't panic - he's not gone indie, kids, he's going to be distributed by (surprise) Sony...

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Archbishop's son makes Debretts. Sorry, what was the news again?

People of Today: Westwood in, DLT out. Also Mark and Lard filling a space left by the booting out of Noel Edmonds. Apparently reruns of Telly Addicts aint enough to ensure your fame.

Did I merntion it was a gaybashing?

We're only a little bit puzzled as to how its taken Moby a month to decide that the people who beat him up in Boston were carrying out a gaybashing.

"What do people find so offensive about homosexuality?" ponders the bald vegan. "Why is homophobia more culturally acceptable than racism and anti-semitism?"

D'you know, Moby, I just don't know.

Maybe you'd like to address your question to this guy I know. He's got himself caught in a bit of a spat with Eminem, and his response was to call Eminem a closet case with a secret crush on him.

Maybe you could ask him why that was acceptable whereas calling Eminem, say, "a secret jewboy" would have been wrong.

Maybe you could get this guy to post his response on his online journal. Just maybe.

Looks like I chose the wrong day to give up gluesniffing

Hopefully, this should be reaching you in our exciting bold new look. If you're having any trouble with how it's displaying, could you let us know?. Ta.

Qs Across

When they're not trying to spin another Smash Hits product out of their key title, what do the people at EMAP do? What do they dream about at night? An American edition of Q. But surely, to the average US reader, it'd just look like an attempt to copy Blender's style, since Blender is little more than Q with a few extra 'chix in hotpants' covers?

But we still have a lot of respect and love for you all

Popbitch: popbitch 'a bit crap this week' - and we did love the Robert Maxwell and Lord Jenkins stories. Maybe a fat, dead former Socialist special is in the offing?

Frist to the mill

While we did enjoy seeing Trent Lott desperately trying to prove that his yearning for the happier days of seggregation and lynching didn't make him a racist (we especially liked his crawling on Black Entertainment Network), we were a bit concerned that his own party seemed to be keener to get him out than his supposed opponents.

And the initial report - that Bill Frist was closer to Bush - didn't entirely stop us sniffing an opportunity seized.

Now, Hilary Rosen is welcoming the appointment of Frist as head of the Senate Majority:

"He has a lot of friends in the industry."

We think what Rosen means is that he's bankrolled by the music industry. Oh, joy.

Lame chance for unfunny topical joke seized

So, The Rolling Stones are taking over an entire Montreal hotel, are they? They should try doing it in Hackney instead; they'd get to keep it for ages and the police'd send Keef drugs in.

[Update: Just to put this - like those Giles annuals they had in the barbers - into its context, this was at the time of the Hackney seige]

Country singer charged with ID theft

But what with the prescription fudging, heroin and assorted other drugs, at least Carlene Carter must have enough material for a new album by now.

A 'bitter men of rock' first

It's the first sighting of an entire Bitter Country of Rock, as the Republic of Botswana mutters about "so-called stars" from overseas who hitherto padded out local festival bills.

Popbitch Twang

Odd to see Popbitch running the WENN claim that Courtney threw herself onto Strummer's coffin - a splendid image, yes, but why feature a story that's already been run on local radio celeb news features and routinely rubbished?

And the Diana Ross fails police drunk test "news" has already been picked clean.

If they carry on like this, Popbitch'll be lifting stories from the Daily Star by Easter.

Equally 'tail wagging the popdog' is the report that Sophie Raworth "has been told to get a Trinny and Susannah style makeover for her hair" - not only does everyone know that T&S don't go near anyone's barnet - the unsavoury business of hairdressing is left offscreen and unmentioned (you should have seen them wince when one of their subjects rubbished their dressing advice but said 'I like the hair'), but the trails for the new Six O'Clock news featuring Sophie's excellent new crop have been running for a day or so already.

It leaves the item on a par with the kid in your class who always felt the need to go "Haircut... Haaaairrrcut" when you'd been to Gus The Elderly Barbers the day before.

NB: American readers, it's a record shop

At long last, it's a Rough Trade girl customer that even the most inept indie boy can take home and love.

[Update: Internet Archive cache of the page]

Now she can tell is about her shoes collection

It doesn't take much to turn us into a sycophantic slag, and Miss Kittin has got more than much. There's also, at long last, a misskittin website, which includes the long-awaited Sweet Dreams mix [Real Player format] and a diary; plus the crucial list of places to shop for clothes and food in Berlin.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Dammit - have they got religion?

With not responding, we tried out of interest. Not the same thing at all... although there is something about the way the Holy talk of knowing Jesus, we suppose...

Top ten albums

This week's Top Ten album charts, with the number of Google returns on "I love" and the artist's name:

1. Let Go - Avril Lavigne (845 hits)
2. Escapology - Robbie Williams (only 136)
3. Missundaztood - Pink (2,750; the first couple of pages at least about Ms Moore)
4. One Love - Blue (3,640 - but very few of them connected to the band; the first few seem to refer to M&Ms)
5. A Rush of Blood To The Head - Coldplay (667)
6. By The Way - Red Hot Chilli Peppers (4, plus another 8 for *the* Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
7. Unbreakable - Westlife (609)
8. A New Day At Midnight - David Gray (36)
9. The Greatest Hits - Elton John (284)
10. Angels With Dirty Faces - Sugababes (0 - althpough they do manage 12 for the incorrect "the sugababes" - the same number as the Chilli Peppers)

What the pop papers say

We would like to bow our heads in respect for the Beatles Monthly, which has, after forty years, ceased publication. Not because they've lost sales, nor advertising. But because they thought, after hundreds of issues, there remained nothing to say on their subject. What a perfect, wonderful editorial decision. If they'd been a dance music magazine they'd have taken the running out of things to say as a sign it was time to become a more general lifestyle magazine and start running sex surveys, of course, but they've shown us all the high ground. Although a nagging doubt remains maybe they were just scared of the prospect of having to run a Ringo obituary.

Elsehwere, there's just a single chop on the mixed grill of pop papers this week, and it's pretty thin fare as the advertising dries up in the post-Christmas market. The nme has - probably for the last time - Joe Strummer on the cover. It's a special "tribute" issue, see?

It's odd that someone who did so much manages to generate such lame tributes - Steve Jones manages to observe that "he was a big part of the whole punk movement" which is less a eulogy, more a clue on Jeopardy. Moby suggests that the Clash were so amazing and wonderful "people are often tempted to take them for granted" - yes, Moby. Is that why you think people look the other way when you enter a room, is it? You're so glorious, people have no choice but to take you for granted. Riiiight.

If you value passionate writing about music, you'll want this week's paper for Steve Sutherland's piece about Joe, his death and his life. A taste: "How come the world hasn't stopped? How come Paul Weller's still shopping for hats? I saw him only ten minutes ago trying on a trilby." A shame it takes the extinguishing of a life for the paper to find the space and a voice for such a piece.

Ms Dynamite says she'd like to run for office. Scarily, Gary Bushell is saying he'll run for London mayor if she'll be his running mate (we suspect this could be Bushell's desperate bid to disassociate himself from the support offered by the odious twats at the BNP for his mooted UK Independence party campaign); The Vines have started work on their next album - presumably by putting each other into headlocks and gentle face-slapping; The Beatings have built a studio for Kevin Shields in a bid to get him to produce their new album - is that all it took?

We'd hoped you'd have to at least stand naked in the woods muttering incantations before he'd even listen to your demo; acres of rumour boil down to this: Reading/Leeds - Audioslave, Metallica, Nickelback; T in the Park - REM, Coldplay, Travis; V2003 - Foo Fighters, Coldplay, David Gray; Glastonbury - REM, Dolly Parton; Eminem is worried he might be getting too big for his own good - the name of this sport is backlash surfing, you know; Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers dressed up as santa for a gig - and no, not merely by slipping a red stocking on his cock; the Cooper Temple Clause have got a heavier, sexier new sound and slightly more hair; Starsailor's new album is taking shape in a studio - we believe it might be curling out slowly.

Soledad Brothers, they only get ten tracks, and squander their choices on The Datsuns and UTFO and Bauhaus. Actually, they don't squander them at all, do they?

New Band: Ty Cobb, BRMC-endorsed soothe-rock

The NME's Top 20 live events of 2003 doesn't appear to be hampered by the fact nothing much beyond February has been planned yet, but it does give a chance to plug NME Awrds Tour, NME Awards Shows...

Panjabi MC gets a page - so that's the Anglo Asian quota for the year filled, then; and I hope I never have to see another picture of the Faint who look like the Raelians have been mucking about with Duran Duran's sperm.

The Music suggest "Music's not about being fucking cool, is it?" which is a good one - next they'll try to tell us they're not interested in getting laid or snorting cocaine off Samantha Mumba's ass. It turns out, scarily, that the band have become penfriends with Tony Wilson. Maybe he was hoping they'd give him some money.

Oh... I get it... when Nas says he's God's son, it isn't cause he thinks he's like Jesus, its because we're all God's children. See?

In another highlight, Jack White meets Arthur Lee. They suggest its an interview, but its more Jack occasionally getting a word into the Lee stream of consciousness. Sadly, Lee comes across a slightly more bitter man than you'd have hoped. He invented punk, you know, and Hendrix and when he comes off stage, his pants are sweating, not like that Mick Jagger, whose underwear is bone dry. And so on.

reviews - albums (or LPs, as they still sometimes get called)
various - more music from 8 mile - "deliver[s] more than you've any right to expect of a second soundtrack album", 9
threnody ensemble - timbre hollow - "intelligent, sumptuous music", 8
2pac - better dayz - "time has moved on. A luxury not afforded Tupac, unfortunately", 4

sotw - the eighties matchbox b-line disaster - pyschosis safari - "indie rock horror show"
kelly osbourne - shut up - "like a pertulant Mini Pops siouxsie"
50 cent - wanksta - "hooks only big enough to hang a small coat"

starsailor - warrington parr hall - "coldplay like elongation"
audioslave - new york - "noisy passion and lumbering riffs never go out of favour"
primal scream - brixton academy - "if this was a bad night..."

on the letters page, the editor uses the word "gynophobia." Of course its Swells. The sad thing is, he doesn't really have much to get his teeth into these days - the best the mailbag can do is offer a letter that says Pink is a fat bitch with a fat arse. Which isn't, whatever you may think about Pink, true, is it?

Unfinished thing for me

Since he was once replaced by Joe, wouldn't it be fitting for the unfinished Strummer album to be completed by Shane McGowan?

Oh, God. Surely we're not going to fall for it

Ananova are biting on the Tatu story. Hotgwen, can't they tell a manufactured fake-controversy when they see one?

"They openly boast they are gay" - and so, what? You're not telling me they're (gasp) lesbians, are you? Why, that fact alone suddenly makes them a thousand times more interesting than if they were just two tone-deaf Russians trying to sell themselves to the sadwank market.

Now, if Mary Kate and Ashley came out as lovers - there would be some controversy.

Commercial berate

Now, we could just about understand why Vodaphone chose The Mock Turtles for the annoying photo messaging advert (and can you imagine David Beckham really be being delighted being approached by a stranger in the supermarket - seriously, go try it and see how many SAS heavies you get piled on top of you) - after all, a dead band is less likely to make disparaging remarks about your product the way, say, the Dandy Warhols might. Besides, we quite like the idea of a few extra quid getting into the pocket of Martin "brother of the much, much more famous Steve" Coogan.

But if Mitsuibishi think they can get away with using Gay Dad's Joy on their current TV ad, they've got another think coming. If the track wasn't pisspoor enough, the bit where the woman in the back of the vehicle turns and lyp-synchs the lyric to the slightly scared bloke sat next to her caps it as already the most annoying commercial of the year.

On a brighter note, at least after two and a half million showings, the Citeron Xsara Picasso spot with the bloody Edith Piaf tune has been replaced - they probably did some research and discovered that there is nobody left in the United Kingdom who didn't start chanting "Must... Kill... Now" between gritted teeth every time it came on. The new one is still rubbish, but at least its a change.

No, please, I'm scratching them out for a reason

Three words to strike fear into your heart: Celebrity Fame Academy.

I want to see you boxing, naked, to the death

Having taken a hell of a kicking from the other members of Spandau Ballet in the courtroom, Tony Hadley is now so desperate to wank for coins ("now facing up to a physical challenge") that he's going to box, um, John Piennar, BBC Political correspondent and keeper of the oddest moustache this side of Midge Ure for one of those BBC "celebrity" boxing matches.

Also from our "wanking for coins" file this morning, "Fuck" Cilla Black clearly wasn't whistling in the dark when she said "Don't worry about me, chuck, I've got loads of irons in the fire" when she announced her decision to leave ("made her face-saving, painstakingly debated statement") on Blind Date.

She's already, um, lined up to totter round GAY to promote her new album. From prime time TV to the spiritual home of "your fifteen minutes is up" in one easy leap. Who's that whispering "step inside, love?" - could it be dame dumper?

Music 365

Doubtless the phrase " a different track to download every day" will set off some sort of huge flashing redlight at the RIAA, but thats what 365 days is offering.

But rather than choke up the web with more pre-releases from the new Annie Lennox album, they're offering their daily selection from the ranks of the quirky, neglected and plain weird.

Sunday it was Janeen Brady's I'm A Mormon; the day before, Red Shadow and Understanding Marx. Your life will be better by signing up now.

Grammy extra

We managed to ignore our own post-it note when we covered the Grammys yesterday, and didn't mention the excellent and slightly discombobulating news that Clinic have been nominated for a prize. They're up for Best Alternative Music Album against fellow scouser Elvis Costello, Beck, Soundtrack of our Lives and, erm, Coldplay.

The sound of a hollow drum

Not that we believe the "scoop" for a moment - after all, it's in today's Daily Star, which leads on the claim that "250,000 of us could have died" which is just alarmist bollocky lies - but they reckon that Robbie Williams has been offered a million quid to be the subject of what we now have to call "an Osbournes-style documentary." I cannot start to describe how much I don't want to see Williams' everyday life, but the phrase "I'd rather have ricin dripped into my eyeballs" may give you a flavour.

It must have been something you said

Sad to hear of the death of Kevin Macmichael, guitarist and founding member of the Cutting Crew, one of the few bands to have taken a declaration of orgasm (which is what "I Died In Your Arms" was about) into the Top Ten. Another one down to cancer.

And they reckon the gay people have a sense of style

Hard to credit if they're voting Justin Timberlake "coolest straight person of 2002, but that's what readers of the Advocate have done. And we thought Steve Earle being nominated for a folk grammy was as bad a case of "in the wrong category" we'd see at an awards ceremony this year.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Spambands: The payback

You'll know we don't like bands who encourage spamming (and kudos to Chris Mills for his non-spamtastic approach to putting together a street-team, although it would have been better if he'd used a different name altogether - the way things are, the French Resistance would have called themselves the DeGaulle Street Team) but we've been following some complaints elsewhere on the Internet where Publicity organisers have been promising Street Teamers guestlist places at gigs, without either them or the label involved clearing it with the actual promoter. The upshot is, of course, that the promoters are ending up out-of-pocket as people who may have done as little as throw forty fliers in a bin turn up and get in free - five or six Street teamers getting Guest List can mean the difference between profit and loss for many promoters of small gigs, and if (as in the case we've heard) six people were given free entry for handing out two hundred fliers, that makes for very expensive promotion of a gig...

Government want 'Gary's Here' panic buttons in chatrooms

Is the wording of this BBC report into Gary Glitter's recent spell in a Cambodian jail implying that British Officials spent their time talking him out a charge of assault on young boys?

Go tell yer Grammy

It's the 319th most wonderful day of the year, when they announce the Grammy nominations - usually slightly more interesting than the actual prize giving itself. So, what's going in to the bag this year?

Record of the Year
Vanessa Carlton - A Thousand Miles; Without Me - Eminem; Don't Know Why - Norah Jones; Dilema - Nelly and Kelly; How You Remind Me - Nickelback
Well, that makes the nme greatest records of the year list look a lot more attractive, doesn't it? Even Eminem's call is for a single that was little more than a Slimfast Shady track, so let's hope Nelly and Kelly can rally enough votes to save us from the politeness of Carlton or Nickelback

Album of the Year
Eminem - The Eminem Show; Dixie Chicks - Home; Norah Jones - Come Away With Me; Nelly - Nellyville; Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
Bruce's nomination, of course, is little more than a nod that he's been able to watch CNN for long enough to come up with a couple of lyrics that mention world affairs without rocking the boat (Steve Earle is bounced off out of sight to Best Folk Album for his genuinely brave Jerusalem). And we know they're a proper band, but we can't help but get the Dixie Chicks and The Tweenies confused. A whole albumsworth of Nellie is like feasting on Chocolate Oranges, so we'll plump for the Eminem Show here. Marshall is a popular boy, isn't he? The rewards for fighting on behalf of your paymasters, against your fans, are golden indeed, aren't they? Doubtless if he'd actually punched a music file sharer, he'd have a statue being raised in his honour.

Song of the Year
Avril Lavigne - Complicated; Dont Know Why - Norah Jones; Where Were You - Alan Jackson; The Rising - Bruce; A Thousand Miles - Vanessa Carlton
Complicated seriously being considered as The Very Best Song from 2002? A slowed-down Sum 41 track? Obviously, stood next to A Thousand Miles (or "Look, ma, I'm playing the piano") it stands out like a beaming jewel, but... seriously? Probably give it to Bruce.

Best New Artist
Avril Lavigne; Norah Jones; Michelle Branch; Ashanti; John Mayer
Out this bunch, the only ones who looks likely to still be around for the 2004 nominations are Ashanti, and that's going to take a lot of skill in her management; and Norah Jones. So this one should be Norah's, then. But we're giving it grudgingly.

Best Female Pop Performance
Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crowe; Don't Know Why - Norah Jones; Complicated - Avril Lavigne; Get The Party Started - Pink; Overprotected - Britney
At last, a category with some songs that actually are worth playing in it. It's interesting Norah and Avril keep getting nominated for the same track, which suggests that far from being Classic Artists they're one trick ponies. And while Sheryl's track sounds glorious in the context of a sunny afternoon blaring radio, it's clearly a battle between Pink and Brit. And it's got to go to Pink, if only cause her acceptance speech will be more fun.

Best Male Pop Performance
7 days - Craig David; Original Sin - Elton John; Your Body Is A Wonderland - John Mayer; Fragile - Sting; October Road - James Taylor
The average age of the contestants in this scrum is, scarily, 74. Since it's clearly a pisstake, you're going to have to want Craig David to win it. But - Craig David "pop"? They really were confused by his white mate, weren't they?

Best Group Pop Performance
Everyday - Bon Jovi; Girl All The Bad Boys Want - Bowling For Soup; Where Are You Going? - Dave Matthews Band; Hey Baby - No Doubt; Girlfriend - N*SYNC
Hey baby wasn't even the best pop performance by No Doubt last year - what no vote for Hella Good? - but (with the notable exception of Girl all the bad boys want, which hit "okay" on our popometer) it's the closest thing to a prizewinner in this shambling bunch.

Best Pop Vocal Album
Come Away With Me - Norah Jones; Let Go - Avril Lavigne; Rock Steady - No Doubt; Missundaztood - Pink; Britney - britney
No contest here; even with Britney in the mix it's a bunch of scampi versus the Pop Lobster of Pink. If she doesn't win this category, then the whole of the Grammys; indeed, the whole of the American prize giving culture, shall be exposed as a hollow sham

Best Dance Recording
(For some reason, while pop is split into about seventy nine subcategories according to length, gender, "traditionality" and percentage of vocal tracks, dance just gets stuck into one big bag)
Gotta get through this - Daniel Bedingfield; Days Go By - Dirty Vegas; Superstylin' - Groove Armada; Love at first sight - kylie; Hella good - no doubt
Okay, can anyone explain why Hella Good is dance while Hey baby is pop? No? Okay. Little Danny Bedingfield surely can't believe his luck, getting nominated for a grammy with a track that suggests a man sitting on a park bench for an afternoon so laxly was the thing put together. We're imagining this category will be used to send a message to Kylie that, yes, the American Gay People hear her, and accept her gifts.

There are about seventy thousand other categories - for the people who'll all be given a certificate after they've folded and stacked their chairs in the Napoleon Suite, click here.


The now-balding Victoria Beckham has apparently had some sense injected into her and has backed down in her battle to try and stop Peterborough from using its decades old nickname The Posh because it "belonged" to her.

Is it real, or is it MTV

The trouble with anything that happens to the Osbournes now - like a woman winning a necklace they claim she wasn't entitled to, at some lameass Christmas party; or the decision to renew their vows - you look and say "Is this something that happened, or is this something that's been made to happen to pad out a second series?"

Oh, and the next time anyone tries to tell you that Kelly Osbourne is some sort of wild rock woman, stare at them and say "In the US, she has allowed some weird pull-along toy with her face and a duck's bill to not only be manufactured in prototype, but also sold."

Subtract (N and X)

As you'd expect, the rumours of the impending demise of Add N to X aren't as clear as you'd get when, say, Busted decide to call it a day and take up their future careers in the gentleman's entertainment business, but it does seem that the band have either canceled their future entirely, or are about to.

Talking of the days when the arclight of fame is taken down for the last time, we were much taken with the news in the ever-worthwhile rocking vicar mailout that Carl from Cud is now making his living selling wines in a branch of Oddbins, which is at least a better relationship with bargain wines than many of his former rock colleagues have.

Another one bites the ring

Drew Barrymore and Fabrizio Moretti out the Strokes are to get married. Based on the incrementally extending length of her marriages, No Rock is predicting a happy forty months of wedded bliss for the couple.

First after epiphany

Christmas doesn't have to end yet, you know. On the Sigur Ros site there's an MP3 of the band taking an "obnoxious Icelandic Christmas song" to pieces, and sort of put it back together again in a more pleasing form. It beats the horrible jazz-lite version of Rudolph they were playing in Jarvis hotels over the new year.

Product recall

Feeder have had to miss out on a lucrative release date ("put back the release of") their new single to next week, missing having Just The Way I'm Feeling in the shops for the anniversary of the death of John Lee.

Apparently a manufacturing glitch in the CD pressing process meant the entire run had to be recalled; presumably the CD machine's Angst Pump had been unable to cope with the demands of the track.

Monday, January 06, 2003

We hope this project runs into the sand as quickly as it should

In an apparent attempt to trounce that movie Joey went to make in Las Vegas, Britney is lined up to play Sherlock Holmes in a film.

The plot - and you might want to weigh it down at each corner with a large stone - revolves around Britney living at 221b Baker Street (which might delight the staff of the Abbey National, who actually live there). To fill in time, she starts to answer letters that come there addressed to Holmes.

As a result, she finds herself trying to solve the kidnap of the President's son.

Jesus, we have precious little faith in the FBI, but surely even their general level of cluelessness wouldn't persuade them to try and enlist a fictional detective to solve such a high profile crime? No wonder they've not been able to work out who killed Jon Bennett Ramsey - doubtless they're waiting to see what Lt Columbo responds with.

Natalie! NO! What are you doing?

Having had to resort to flogging face goober in '01, Natalie Imbruglia is reduced to marrying the singer out of Silverchair (the perpetually "not pictured Daniel Johns") in the hope that those seasonal credit card bills can be offset by a cheque from Hello.

Can anyone explain why...

Why would the government choose to blame a marginal music enjoyed largely by one of the smaller ethnic groupings for glorifying guns, rather than something more mainstream like the massive computer games industry, or the movies of numbskulls like Guy Ritchie, or cop shows like The Bill?
NB: This question may be rhetorical.

Give me money, or I go

Popjustice brings to our tired eyes the news that an "Argentinian rock star" (a career right up there with American Soccer Legend, or Member of the Australian Diplomatic Corps) has told his fans if they don't send him a million pounds, he'll up sticks to New York and never come back again. We're not sure if New York has yet made a counter offer, but how absolutely splendid.

After all, people do just give Robbie Williams money because he turns up and asks for it, so why should Argentinians be any less stupid? At least it saves the waste of all that vinyl.

We've had lots of letters

Simon Tyers - in response to the John Robb bit in Pop Papers - sent us this thought, we which thought we'd better not try to pass off as our own in case he'd encrypted it in some way with strong technology:

Haven't seen the article, but I get the impression from a lot of the recent coverage of Popstars etc that everyone thinks TV-created acts have had their day, which is an odd thing to say when one has just sold 350,000 in its first week (yes, yes, low for the Christmas market, but no-one's really been bothered about buying singles at Christmas for years.)

But... do you think that the fall can be partly attributed to the broadsheet music critic party line of "well, the top ten's full of acts manufactured for TV nowadays"? Leaving aside that Will, Gareth, Darius and at a pinch Liberty X hardly constitutes a top ten, I've got a feeling that such being defeatist means that people automatically won't be as receptive towards the other stuff being playlisted by Radio 1 or whoever because it's almost "oh, what's the point?" - even the old standbys of Dave Pearce Dance Anthems hardly reach the top five nowadays.

And who's to blame anyway? The playlist of our most listened to national station, Radio 2, is far more accomodating of pop acts than the R1 list is, probably at Steve Wright's behest, with their exception of Eminem, who only sells in such quantities because kids think they can strike a blow for anti-authoritanism by claiming to like him. Possibly. And anyway, if you asked opera fans about Charlotte Church, Russell Watson and Declan Galbraith, all of whom took their first steps through TV, most would reckon they've done good things by advancing the image of the genre.

But it's a much better line than the other one being trotted out in the broadsheet reviews about how 2002 was the year when rock struck back. Because Nickelback and Avril Lavigne haven't had any major label sway behind them, have they?

We did actually think it kind of amusing that when The Friday Thing launched their last-minute bid to try and save the Christmas Number One from Reality TV, they threw their weight behind The Cheeky Girls, possibly the hugest Reality TV whores there are. (I don't mean they're literally whores. I'm sure they're very particular in their sexual habits.)

Picking up Simon's argument, I'd also say that the "what's the point? It'll be a Popstars band" attitude has probably done more to cheapen the whole chart than the stranglehold of reality TV itself. After all, it was possible for young boys to watch Joe Dolce and still dream of getting a number one; it did mean something. But now, even if you do make it to number one with a decent single, you'll just be buoying yourself up in column inches about how low sales are, and how even The Wombles could get a number one these days, you know. Maybe rather than being saved from the clutches of Walsh and Cowell, what the charts needs is to be made to feel special again.

Thoughts to ponder as Mercury prepare four - count 'em - fame academy tots for launch in the next couple of months.

And more year end stats hit the ticker

Live music sales have continued to grow in the US as a record USD2.1bn changes hands for gig tickets. Pollstar say this is the fourth increase in a row, although we were sure someone was saying the 2001 sales had fallen (although that was only for the top fifty artists).

Now, what's interesting here is that the rise in total take was helped considerably by a massive six percent hike in average price of tickets - the top 100 acts now charge a mean of USD46.56, with the average stub into a McCartney gig, say, being USD129.92.

This in a country where five people can enjoy a good meal out and still have change from sixty bucks. Maybe here's another reason for the slump in album sales - by the time you've sold your kidneys to pay for the greatest hits tour, you can't afford to buy an album.

Out the attic

One of the Big Hopes for 2003 is one Shelley Poole. The name might not mean much to you at the moment, but she was one half of Alisha's Attic. So that's good, then.

Love, death and the whole damn thing

Despite the strenuous denials by Courtney Love's manager, the World Entertainment News Network (who they?) are still carrying their claim that Love caused a scene at Joe Strummer's funeral by "throwing herself on the coffin" and having to be pulled off by Mark Lamarr and Chrissie Hynde.

Their certainty in this story doesn't appear to be shaken despite the fact that none of the news organisations there seemed to have noticed, and, more significantly, that nobody in the congregation saw this event, either. Still, facts are often the death of a good story, aren't they?

I can't stand it - please, not 'New York, New York' again

Thanks to the electrosnarks at need to know for pointing out that Skymall have made their minds up about Sinatra, describing him as "living in infamy as one of the greatest crooners of all time."

If Sinatra's crooning is so evil, where does that leave Robbie Williams?


Doubtless Hillary Rosen has already drawn a huge pie chart to prove the ten percent slump in album sales in the US was down to that evil peer to peer networking, but we, naturally, beg to differ.

The biggest seller of the year - Eminem's Eminem Show - was one of the highest profile albums bounced onto the line prior to release, and doesn't seem to have had its performance hurt. The more telling statistics lay in that two of the biggest sellers in the US - Missundaztood and O Brother - actually came out the previous year, and two titles (8 Mile and, again, O Brother) were soundtrack albums.

In short, hardly any albums came out to inspire people to get their asses down to Best Buy. The admission by the US Record Industry that they'd been operating a price-fixing cartel and as such pissing on consumers for years can't have helped, either. Oh, and up til the 28th December, album sales in the UK had experienced a year on year growth of nearly three and a half percent. Since we're just as good with the Morpheus and the Limewire and the download and burn, the American Industry might like to prepare a brief informal but informative lecture as to why we've not had a similar slump.

Oh, and however cycnical we might be about the whole Fame Stars thing, you can't deny the effect: The Girls versus Boys chart battle before Christmas bumped the singles market sales up by fifty percent on the previous week.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

What the pop papers say: Bumper Christmas and New Year edition

So, we’ve abandoned you and allowed a huge pile of magazines to build up on the doormat over Christmas. We’ve sorted out the invitations to join health clubs and the local freesheets, and split the pop papers into two distinct piles - the UK and the American. First up, the UK stuff.

When the BPI and the RIAA bleat around Easter time about another poor quarter for music sales, you might want to take out a clipping from the just-before-Xmas Music Week. There, retailers were already bemoaning how shite sales are going to be in the first three months of 2003. The reason was nothing to do with internet downloads, CD burners or men with suitcases flogging homemade editions of The Man Who in Camden High Street. Nope, the reason why the people whose job it is to stand in dimly lit shops putting price stickers on product are preparing themselves for a crap start to the year is simply because the new releases are all rubbish. Not that that’ll stop the BPI using the sales dip as a reason for them being given the powers to enter homes and smash computers at will, of course.

Though his leaving of his slot was more dignified than Jimmy ‘It wasn’t my idea - they’ve killed me - run, flee, hide yourself’ Young’s, Steve Lamacq’s farewell in the Guardian Friday Review was curious. (Incidentally, expect much knocking of the organisation that kept him employed for four decades, long after most commercial stations would have shoved the carriage clock and B&Q certificate into his hands, when Sir Jimmy Young starts a Sunday Express column this weekend - curiously making him room-mates with that other singer-turned-dj-turned-embittered-hack, Boy George). Lamacq basically said “it’s the end of an era, it’s time to move on”, nodding-dog like to the suggestion that the Evening Session was inextricably linked with Britpop and that as such, it made sense to axe it. Let’s just be thankful Peel never said “Mmm, the show is so linked to Prog Rock/Punk/etc., it’d make more sense to can it than do anything to try to shift the perception of it.” We have no idea what the horsetrading behind the scenes was - is Lammo being freed up to step into the gap if JP gets given a Jimmyyounging? Was Lowe offered the slot as part of a deal to get him to do stuff for BBC Three? - but we look forward to finding out over the next twelve months.

Elsewhere in The Guardian over the holiday, Julie Burchill defended the concept of creating popstars using Reality TV. As ever, her arguments were poor and only really half-thoughts. She suggested that the likes of Popstars - with their constant sing-offs - relied heavily on the ability to sing over personality (really? Since the concept of queuing for hours to sing two lines in front of Waterman and - god help us - Halliwell is unlikely to attract anyone especially talented, the final rounds are all populated by people who have a fairly equal level of ability, albeit low. So what else is there for people to vote on but personality? The papers hardly describe it as a battle between, say, trouble with the high notes Gates and able to hold a note Young; it’s the stuttering one versus the quiet one versus the loser and so on. To pretend that the votes on Popstars, Idol and Fame Academy isn’t based on personality is as dumb as suggesting that the evictions on Big Brother are all decided by the audience choosing who’s best at feeding the chickens and making supper in the house) and that the cult of music personality had left us lumbered with Robbie Williams and Madonna, Elton and the rest. But isn’t the clinging to the old guard down more to the way that new talent is being throttled out by the short-lived Hear’Says and Girls At Our Best or whatever they were called in the end?

For New Year, G2 filled space with minimal effort (“offered a timely feature”) by getting stars to reveal their New Year’s Resolutions. Strangely, the first celeb was Mira from ladytron (“to start eating fish”); Delcan ‘scary Lena Zavaroni for 2003’ Galbraith promised to clean his room (foreswearing the amphetamines might have been more timely - before its too late; John Peel holds out hopes of completing an autobiography - let’s hope the bosses at radio one aren’t planning on giving him some time to devote to the project; Jah Wobble isn’t going to “collect any more wounded birds.” We think he means hangers-on rather than actual sick pigeons and one-legged turkeys - talking of which, Gary Numan wants to stop walking with his feet facing inwards. David Holmes resolves to stop playing Grand Theft Auto - so stealing his Playstation would be an act of kindness instead of a criminal offence. And One True Voice pledge to have a number one album. Which is funnily enough one of my resolutions, along with entering politics and developing a successful cosmetics line, that I’m not going to keep either.

An insight into the brightness that lays behind the Popstars Organisation on the shelves of a WH Smith near you. You’ll find a magazine with the vapid Girls Aloud on the front, claiming to be “The only official Popstars: The Rivals magazine.” Next to it, a magazine based on the even more vapid One True Voice claims to be, yup, “The only official Popstars: The Rivals magazine.” They may both be official, but there’s no way they can both be the only one.

“I want a man” says Meg Matthews. Rather than getting out on the dating scene, or using one of those Internet dating services the broadsheets keep banging on about, Meg’s approach is to take her clothes off and appear on the cover of Elle. Now, while this might work, surely if the desperation for a man is so bad as to try this approach, plumping for a women’s title is the wrong thing to do? Loaded may have had more eligible - well, single - men, surely? Whatever, Meg manages to make naked about as sexy as [insert whatever your oldest aunt wore on Christmas day here] - on her feet she appears to be wearing the remains of that guy’s Saskwatch suit, and she looks dirty. Not in an Aguilera Dirrty way, even, more “Good god, woman, you don’t need a man; you need a buff-puff and a bottle of Oil of Ulay.” This is the approach she thinks will get her a man? You think it buggers belief that she used to be in charge of PR at Creation Records. Then you remember what happened to Creation Records.

The Popbitch explosion rumbles on in the wake of the Beckham rumour, with a splendid piece in the Christmas Private Eye on the hypocrisy of the UK press in their coverage of the story. Especially delicious was the kicking administered to the pisspoor Mirror and the Mail for their ability to be outraged while simultaneously lifting housestyle and stories from the site.

Celebrity guff of a different kind in the Xmas New Statesman, where once again Alex James filed the diary column from what seemed to be somewhere close to the Groucho club ceiling. You start to make sense of why Graham Coxon isn’t entirely upset at his being eased out of Blur when you read the sorts of thoughts that are currently bouncing in the head of Mr. James. Two columns about going to buy a needless expensive dog demonstrating that (i) he’s rich, and can afford to buy pedigree pooches but (ii) that he’s still able to look down his nose at people whose houses stink of dog wee. And there’s this: “Christmas is about consumerism and stuffing. We’ve come a long way from the baby Jesus.” Thanks for that, Alex. You’ll find the rest of the Sixth Form Debating Society in the Great Hall, throwing trifle at each other.

Great news for the start of the year, though, as a Sunday morning dash to pick up the papers finds that our local newsagent has found shelf space for Careless Talk Costs Lives which, thanks to a distribution deal, should now be at all Good Newsagents rather than merely being that thing you can’t find in HMV anymore. It takes the chance to restate its ideals, although it chooses to do this by knocking X-Ray and NME. We certainly don’t think Everett True is wrong, but there’s something a little off-putting about a magazine editorial which attempts to win over its readers by flattering their vanity (“you can cope with a lot more words than X-Ray seems to think you can”) rather than challenging their minds.

Anyway, that’s a minor quibble, as otherwise the issue is excellent. Erase Errata are interviewed, although it seems that True is still stuck in the vinyl versus CD war, praising them for releasing a single that won’t play in an Imac - true thinks this is subversive; actually, Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet wouldn’t play in an Imac, either, and required anyone who tried to take their machine to a repair shop, which must mean that Mariah is the most subversive artist in the world; Miss AMP takes her bra off and gets into bed with Cat Power. Nick Cave doesn’t feel validated without his art; but he’s called to account for the video he made for Bring It On - “I asked the director what sort of video MTV is showing these days, and he said ‘It’s usually a lot of black girls shaking their asses at the camera’, so that’s what we made” - its funny how an audience who are happy to lap up Cave singing about murdering women react so quickly to condemn a spot of background bump-and-grind, isn’t it? John Robb seems to think The Manufacturers of Popstars have fucked up because singles aren’t selling very many any more; ignoring the scary fact that singles sales may have fallen, but its across the board. As the number of copies being flogged by the Gates of this world drop, it’s not as if The Good Artists sales are poking through the surface, is it? A pyrrhic victory if the death of Popstars is the death of pop.

Coxon himself pops up. “I’ve learned that with Blur, either those three are completely mad, or I’m completely mad, and I just don’t know who is mad.” Graham, love, read Alex’s Christmas Staggers diary. It’ll clear things up nicely for you. Godspeed You Black Emperor are challenged as to why they deserve to be in CTCL - that’s a nice change from the arrogant Traditional Music Press, isn’t it? - but it gets better further in, when they talk about making records in the context of the “collapse of those ugly buildings” and the struggle of how they (we) are implicated in the system every day: “It would be nice if none of this was an issue; would be nice to stress a little less often about the blood in our wallets.”

The reviews spark a squeal of recognition: there’s a razorcuts retrospective out.

A picture of Kurt, and a page blank save for the phrase: “Private thoughts should remain private.” You know what they mean, but... isn’t all the best music - the stuff that really counts - private thoughts being made public?

At the end, the magazine goes out more or less the way it comes in, struggling with the word Indie - positing that, hey, Virgina Woolf was indie, you know. Trying to make it a term that means something, a badge to be proud of. It’s a little as if the 1980s homos had chosen to try and reclaim Chutney Stabber rather than Queer, isn’t it?

In the past few months, we’ve suggested that the Face has totally lost its way and doesn’t know what it’s doing. It may have finally found a role as, following on the heels of the Pink edition, Craig Nicholls is given the chance to strip off and - covered in a print of Jesus - spread himself over the cover. Clearly, the Face has reinvented itself as a hybrid of Select and Sky. We look forward to seeing the yeah yeah yeahs cover sometime before easter.

Our Christmas joy was often interrupted by the clammy hand of panic at our chest as we’d cry out “What if they’ve not held the double Christmas NME for us?” As it turns out, we needn’t have bothered. It had Coldplay on the cover and, as such, was hugely unlikely to sell out anyway.

Mehg White gets not just the hnour of the seasonal made-up CD, but is allowed 11 rather than the usual ten tracks. And one of them is the Readers Digest Christmas Album, which surely is pushing the rules a little bit much even for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, surely? She also chooses a track by the Chipmunks, for which she really must be sent to a re-education camp.

In the Coldplay piece, Chris Martin coyly refers to “my friend” when he’s clearly talking about Gwyneth Paltrow. This sickeningly cutesy way of behaving makes me want to punch him gently, and i shall, unless he can prove that he always does it - does he talk to his mum on the phone and say “Nah, I’m just laying about with my friend”? If he gets invited to someone’s house, does he say “Can i bring My Friend?” Does he call out “Yess... oh, My Friend” when he squirts some of his underweight spunk into her? Its not like its a secret, and, for some reason, you’re one of the most famous people on the planet, Martin. Stop fucking pretending you’re Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, for fucks sake.

What’s that? Is that noise reindeer on the roof? Nope, its NME slapping itself on the back for its part in the - ahem - new rock revolution. So, that’s what we’re actually meant to call it, is it? Blimey. Another obsession in the issue is made clear, because the paper just can’t get past the idea that The Libertines used to be rent boys. Any opportunity to mention the fact, and it’ll be mentioned. Jesus, let it go, will you?

Hadn’t Noel gallagher stopped doing press a while back? Clearly not, as here he comes to talk to the paper; let’s hold our breath, shall we? Apparently Knebworth’s audience “was all kids” and manchester was “freezing.” There is, however, a small surprise - the oasis equipe were at a Morrissey gig in Australia singing along to There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

That Christmas soulmates thing is also surprising - Pink spits rather than swallows but, splendidly, pretends not to have heard of Fischerspooner; Craig Vines is unable to make a simple choice between any two items; Ryan Adams doesn’t know what a badger is; Kelly Osbourne is allowed to choose Peaches instead of “Kelly or Pink”; Chris Martin is a cunt and refuses to play; the nme seems to think we have any interest in Liam Lynch (2002’s Joe Dolce).

A 1993 Melody Maker piece by - ding! - Everett True where he brought Kim Deal and Kurt Cobain together is given another trot out - surely Ev wouldn’t have made any money from this, seeing as he’s been so quick to condemn the cobain corpse cash-in elsewhere.

And, being Christmas, the writers get to compile their chart of best albums of the year. So, what has the new rock revolution - a creation of Kings Reach Tower - thrown up as an album to define the year? Erm, a Rush of Blood To The Head by Coldplay. The backslapping antics returns as they nominate their own 1Love as the compilation of the year; single (always, year in, year out, a more interesting choice of record than the album of the year) goes to there goes the fear by the Doves. They think that tenacious d’s Tribute video was the best promo made in 2002 as well. The ability of the individually bright young things at the nme to be distracted by the trivial and shiny never fails to surprise us.

After the bumper, the first edition of 2003 is as thin as a leftovers coldcut supper at Geri’s house. Thom Yorke squints out of the cover of what is boldly trailed as a Predictions issue.

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster make an eleven track CD, too - maybe Meg has changed the world? - choosing Bowie (Moonage daydream) and The Fall.

So, what are the predictions for ‘03? They do it in an A to Z style - more Australians, Blues, Casual (i.e. scruffy bastards); Duran Duran back; Electroclash (apparently the non-arrival of it as a British force last year hasn’t dampened their belief that the Genre That Everyone politely ignored will be a global phenom this year); F is somehow for Electric Six; Goth (another revival? What is it, Buffy?); Has-beens; Jack Black (the nme apparently gives a shit about the Tenacious D movie - be warned); Knoxville; Lesbians (oh, come on, is tatu really going to travel much beyond Ladbroke Grove without running into the ground?); murder powder (crushed-up E - god, even the new drugs are just rubbish reworkings of the old drugs); No more albums (or singles) - the Internet will kill music (although, just quickly, peter robinson - you point out that what most people go online for is the stuff that you can’t find, the outtakes and obscurities; so rather than cherry-pick for the legal download stuff, it’d be in the labels interests to make as many tracks in as many versions available as possible); Oscar (as in “for Eminem” - even though he hasn’t bothered the Golden Globe nominations at all); Protest; Queen (apparently they live on through, um, the Darkness); Radiohead - back! back! back!; Supergroups (erm... Miss Kittin working with Aguilera? We somehow think not...); The Thrills; UK versus US; Vendetta (still doing the You Cock thing?); War (hey, George says that’s not inevitable, you know), um, Xtreme Drinks; Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Zzzz; the people nme hope will give it a rest this year. They nominate Anastacia and Nickelback. For that alone, we’re signing up for another twelve months with them.

Spambands get bit in own butt

You might recall, if you've been with us that long, that we spent some time lurking on a 'street team' list for the band Soul Hooligan, to find out exactly what advice members of these marketing lists are given: "bang on about the band on any internet forum regardless of whether its relevant or not" was the gist of it. Which makes it all the more delicious to report that members on that list are now complaining that posts

"usually isn't about soul hooligan. usually it's to promote some other group, which is lame in my opinion."

Yeah, frustrating when someone crashes your list to plug something you have no interest in, isn't it?