Saturday, August 16, 2003

ONE TRUE VOICE: It's been a while since Garbage updated their online diary section, but there's a new slew of reports from the new album sessions on their site today. it includes Shirley Manson talking about her recent operation - she has nodes or something taken off her vocal chords, which, for a singer is a bit of a scary thing to face. Luckily, it seems to have worked out quite well and so she doesn't sound like she's Patty and Selma's fourth long-lost sister. Which is nice.

HLP IM BN MGGD: Such is the way society is, police are calling on V festival goers to text crime reports to them. Detective Constable Marie Hyden said "Most festivalgoers don't want their weekend interrupted by having to report things to the police and having statements taken", and we can see her point but if someone sees someone's head being stove in with a half brick, is the good officer Hyden standing up in court saying "If I might consult my Nokia, your honour? At 13.13 I received a message saying 'COPS - BLK BN RBBD @ CMP XIT :-('" really going to form the basis of a succesful prosecution? And isn't the suppsoed inconvenience of making a statement part of the ways that you can be fairly certain that the reports aren't mallicious? If you can cause trouble with a text, wouldn't that be a tempting way to settle scores?

Friday, August 15, 2003

DOING OUR BIT: Whatever you might think about Jordan, with her blonde hair and equally sized, though ridiculous breasts, you'd have to say that she's both fair and balanced.

YOU FIND A LOST BOOK, IT'S PART OF BOOKCROSSING. YOU FIND LOST CDS, AND IT'S TIME TO PLAY PETITE-FREUD: Jogger finds CDs. Blogger psychoanalyses the owner from tracklistings alone. The discovery of music on the street is a wonderful thing, and you can't help but try and flesh out the background details. The CD-find is a lot more common, and easier to work with, than the previous discarded music formats were - vinyl would shatter on contact with the ground, sometimes making a complete label impossible to find, so you'd be trying to work out what the record you'd found in pieces, scattered along the street, would actually be - "It's clearly on RKO, so it's got to be Grease, right?"; tapes would be unwound, mysteriously hanging from telegraph wires or blowing along the street - if you found the casing, it might have been a self-made compilation all along and the chances of making sense of the biro'ed mnemonics would be slim - "it says 'HM/album' - Happy Mondays? Heavy metal?"; you couldn't wind the tape back in and find out. But with CDs, although they're not as indestructable as either we led to believe or Spandau Ballet's Gold, then you've got a chance. Even with a mix CD, you'd be able to pop it into your hi-fi and find out what had been lost, or discarded, or forgotten. (In your hi-fi, mind. Pop it in your computer and chances are you'd have got a malicious copy-protected beast).

Actually, you know, this is something that would be an interesting project - you have bookcrossing, so why not random CD swapping? It'd be like file sharing, without the need for spyware on your machine. Make a mix CD, pop it down on a cafe table, or on a bus; maybe tuck it behind the ear of a statue in the park. Write "Try this CD" on it in pen. You might introduce people to something new. You might find some other CD on the way home that gives you something new. You'd certainly piss off the RIAA and the BPI by doing it, although would copyright law be able to touch you for making a copy of your own, properly-purchased music and then leaving it behind somewhere?

It occurs to us that a while back there was someone - a fanzine editor? maybe a monk? - who undertook a task that seemed madness itself, albeit the sort of madness that is powerful and sexy, which smokes your fags and leads you into bad behaviour. They invited people to send them a mix tape and a stamped addressed envelope. They then mixed up the tapes, and stuck them into random envelopes, and posted them back. It seemed a wonderful idea, and we never found out how well it worked, but if it could be attempted in the days of xerox and dubbing double deck tape machines, in the web-and-CD-R age it should be a breeze. Anyone want to volunteer to be dead letter box?

[Original link nicked from bloggy mountain breakdown]

IF YOU DON'T WANT THE END OF SEASON 3 OF THE OSBOURNES TO BE SPOILED FOR YOU, LOOK AWAY NOW*: People seem a little confused by the ending of The Osbournes on MTV America this week. Apparently right at the end, the camera pulled back to reveal cuecards and remarks were made about "going home" and "not having to use the F word anymore."

'Does this mean it was all scripted all along?' comes the wail. Erm... well, first of: of course it bloody was all faked. What do you think? That people live like that? But also, no, of course not: while - like every bloody other 'reality' show there was selection, suggestion, reconstruction and construction, the end is one of those things called "jokes" that used to be popular back in the 70's. You'd have to be a bit thick to assume there weren't times the reality was helped along; you'd have to be as dense as a fruitcake on a lead slate to believe that any show which had meticulously scripted would then decide to throw that away and 'fess up with another series still to make.

MTV's response? "Was the whole thing a fake? Isn't this supposed to be reality television? Once again, 'The Osbournes' leaves us with something to talk about."

Yes, the 'something' being how thinly the ideas are being stretched now, how lacking nous the remaining handful of viewers must be, and how utterly vile the whole concept remains.

* - on the other hand, if knowing how this ruptured-bull-elephant of a show ends would cause you upset or distress, you're clearly beyond saving.

ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW: Mutya has stated that Sugababes aren't splitting up.

"I should know whether we're splitting up or not. That's like a load of rubbish, to tell you the truth" she told Radio One.

Well, yes. You'd have to be some sort of fool not to realise the band you're a member of was splitting up, wouldn't you? I mean, imagine if you were in a band on a tour of Japan, and one member got up saying they were going for a toilet and never came back and you didn't have the first idea that the band was over? That'd make you seem so detached from reality it'd be impossible, wouldn't it? So, if Mutya says that the band hasn't split up, then Heidi isn't ringing round agencies in London and starts her role in panto next Christmas solo careers without distinction followed. [Editor's note - sorry, the autocorrect seemed to kick in there.]

I ENJOY BEING A SLAG: Oh, but bless Christina Aguilera, as she's not very bright, is she? In an interview with a German magazine, Aguilera says "Call me a slag, if being a slag means being a strong woman. I'll gladly be that." No, love, it doesn't mean being a strong woman, it means being a slag. Now, you might want to argue that it's unfair, you might want to attack the assumption that a woman who chooses to dress sexually has to be a slag, but choosing to say the word means something it clearly doesn't isn't a response. 'Hey, you're shit' 'If being shit means that I am wonderful and loved by millions, I'll gladly be that.' 'No, it means people think you're shit.'

Christina continued : "What is so wrong with a 22-year-old woman showing her sexuality? I'm not making myself into an object." Clearly she hasn't seen what her new fans are making of her, then. And, as we've said before, if it's her sexuality, how come she looks less bunny girl than bunny wabbit? She doesn't look desperate for sex, she looks desperate to please, like a country being forced into an arms race it can't afford. (Compare the evolution of Britney if you don't agree).

""Madonna is a tough businesswoman and Marilyn Monroe had all sorts of insults thrown at her, but she simply carried on - just like Madonna. I have to be as strong as both of them put together" says Christina. Yes, Marilyn Monroe simply carried on and took all the insults on the chin. If she'd not been strong, she might have ended up a sad, nervous wreck-casualty who ended up taking her own life at a stupidly young age due to the pressures put on her by the studios. And Madonna is not a tough businesswoman. She's a shit businesswoman who, when left to her own devices, makes calamitous decisions like the American Pie video and 'Swept Away' and most of the signings to Maverick. The other essential difference, Christina, is that Marilyn simply was sexy, she never needed to defend what she was doing by trying to claim flashing her tits was some form of empowerment - the iconic image of her is of her being stood on an air vent, holding her skirt down. The iconic image of you is probably the maxim photoshoot where you look like you've spent the last three nights begging for bong, with your hands over your tits. One is sexy, without being sexual, relying on the aura of the subject to allow the mind to wander - nothing is shown, it's all suggested. The other is sexual, without being sexy. Showing your sexuality, and selling your sexuality are two separate things; indeed, flashing your tits is still another.

STING GIVEN LARGE SUMS MORE CASH: Now, we would normally be pissed off at Sting getting a big stack of cash for doing nothing - in this case muttering some inanities about overpriced speakers, but what we figure is that every dollar Gordon makes from doing adverts is a dollar he doesn't need to release a record to make. Indeed, we might even start sending him a few quid every month to stop him making any records ever again. It's cash well spent.

Interestingly, the FT decided to run a quote about the speakers from Mr. Sting: "Sting said: "Listening to music on SLS speakers at home is like listening to the actual live recording sessions." Which may or may not be true - we're not quite clear how the speakers could manage to separate a song up into separate instrumental tracks, which it then would play in order, constantly stopping and booming in voice-over "Nah, Mark, can you do that again, yer effects pedal is squealing, mate" before starting again, yelling 'Fuck this, the first one was perfect' and then stomping off to the pub. But even if it is true, why would we take Mr. Sting's word for it in the middle of an article telling us how well he's being rewarded for going round saying how great the things are?

OH MY GOD, THEY'VE KILKENNY'ED: According to reliable sources* Moorcheeba had a row and broke up on stage last night in Kilkenny.

* - OK, we read it on popbitch, so not entirely reliable. But we just wanted to do the headline.

THE MAN COMES ROUND: Luther Vandross has come out of the coma, which is good news. Obviously. They don't know how he is yet, mind.

REDEMPTION DONG DING-DONG: Something of a palaver down in Jamaica over a statue named for, and quoting from, Redemption Song, on account of the size of the penis hovering a couple of inches above the quote from Bob Marley's song. It turns out Kingston could quite easily be twinned with Tunbridge Wells, judging by the letters of complaint that have been flooding into the local papers tut-tutting over the statue and the amount of nudity involved. Interestingly, it seems all the outrage is centred on the male figure's male member, and nobody seems to mind too much about the odd-shaped and magically gravity defying enormous breasts. We're guessing that before the day is out an enterprising spammer will have filched the photo to illustrate just what an enormous penis you can get using their pills...

ROCKS - WELL, NOT ACTUALLY ROCKS - OUR BOX: Ennio Morricone and Johnny Cash are both getting the box-set treatment. Ennio - the most mis-spelled man in music (Moricone? Morriconne? Morrycone? Moriconi? Morriconi, Morryconnie... sorry, we were getting carried away, like that time Noel Edmond's Lucky Numbers encouraged people to send in ways of spelling scissors wrongly...) - Ennio's box is called io, and features four discs, including Film Music. This is a kind of greatest hits package that's also going to be released as a stand alone, with stuff from movies like Lolita and Once Upon A Time In The West. The other CDs comprise Piano, Chamber and Symphony music.

Cash, meanwhile, gets a five-disc collection of stuff from his work with Rick Rubin. This material is meant to have been "lost" (we're reading 'judged to be too uncommercial to get a proper release and lost in the label's write-off for the year'). Some of the stuff sounds priceless, though: Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer doing Redemption Song and Fiona Apple duetting with him on Father And Son. The set is titled Unearthed.

IN SOMEONE ELSE'S HOUSE: We're neither phased nor upset that The Cure are on the point of another flurry of re-releasings, but what does concern us a little is that Robert Smith and the boys are working with Ross Robinson, who has had a hand in the terrors that are Korn and Limp Bizkit. Okay, it's not on a par with the Liz Phair/Avril Lavigne Freaky Friday thing, but even so... it's like they don't care that the introduction of Nu-Metal has almost killed off the native Glum Goth which provided The Cure with much of their natural support. Nowadays, if you walk round the bits of grim, northern industrial cities where you once would see large hordes - and hordes would be the word - of unpopular-at-school kids dressed in black, the words "Sisters of Mercy" diligently biroed onto an "army surplus" bag*, their habit has been taken over by people with skateboards they can't actually ride and tshirts with teddy bears** and the legend "She's got issues" on them. The Cure working with Robinson is akin to Prince Charles doing a commercial for Monsanto.

* - I've never quite worked out quite why those bags turned up in Army Surplus places - what sort of army would have ordered any small, cloth bags which fall apart as soon as an A4 ringbinder with 'The Crow' logo doodled on it is slipped inside?

** - Yes, I know what it's meant to be, but it looks like our friend Sara's old, well-loved teddy bear to us.

JUMPING TO THE WRONG CONCLUSION: While the Great Reporter is right with its facts, that British music isn't the global thang it once was, we can't agree with its conclusion that "The government should be investing more into the development of British music. Ploughing money into youth centres where youngsters can DJ or listen to the latest sounds should be mandatory for Tony Blair and company."

Yes, government can do a lot to support development of music, but creating state-sponsored Listening Dromes is so not the way to go about things. So, do we have any better suggestions?

Well, yes. One of the things that should be done is to help people who want to provide an infrastructure in which the musically talented can work. There have been half-hearted attempts at this, in the creation of well-meaning 'arts-council-with-beats' style organisations, but the real problem is that if you want to be a record company, or a nightclub, or a promotions agency, there won't be anyone at your local Business Link or Development Agency who will be able to help you, and the only advice you'll get from businessmen is to try the arts places. Getting some people with media and entertainment experience into the business advice end of the services for start-up companies would do more, at a stroke, than sticking some decks and a microphone in a community centre in Stoke Newington. The weakness of the British Music Industry is in the Industry, it's not in the Music.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

NME CREEPS UP: The new ABC figures are hugely curates-egg-esque for the NME. It's sales have grown since this time last year - but only just. It's now selling 72,443 copies an issue, compared with 72,057 in the same period last year - an extra 386 copies or a half a percent increase. Last time round, they were breathing a sigh of relief that they'd managed to halt the decline by posting a two percent rise. And, of course, three months ago they were able to claim 73,338 copies, so while the year-on-year is quite good, period-on-period sales will have nerves jangling. We're not sure how they'd spin this one. Actually, we do: IPC say In the music market, the NME's revival continues. NME's weekly sales in the first half were 72,443, up 0.5% year-on-year. And the best is yet to come: autumn will see the launch of a brand new redesign with much stronger use of photography and the introduction of key new features to maintain the momentum achieved by repositioning the iconic brand early last year.

We'd heard there was a redesign in the offing - the phrase we've heard is 'a bit like a watered down Select' - and we tip our hat to the IPC press people for describing the last relaunch as a "repositioning", otherwise the advertising buyers might wonder why such a strong product seems to getr redesigned quite so often. We really can't wait to see the new new new new musical express. We're already deciding where to put the Avril posters up.

IPC also describe Uncut as "the real success of the Men's magazine market" - which might surprise you ladies who read the Mojo-Lite title. It has done well, though, going above the 100,000 mark. Maybe they should merge the NME into it?

If you want some fun, you could do worse than read the wanky profiles of the magazines - sorry, brands - on the IPC website. For example, Uncut:
"Uncut is a provocative read which challenges existing critical attitude and preconceptions about the major figures in music and movies. Uncut brings its readership the most balanced and insightful reviews of new and classic music and movies through the free CD, thus exposing its readers to music they would not otherwise hear about. Uncut's readers indulge their music passion through the magazine and are made to feel young and fashionable by Uncut.

Is that the case? We've more or less stopped buying Uncut because it made us feel old and kind of dirty. And we love that authoratative "music they would not otherwise hear about" - oh, yeah? "Music from bands they'd otherwise avoid like the plague", perhaps.

Then there's the nme:

NME is the most authoritative weekly music magazine aimed at 15-24 music fans. NME readers use the magazine as a social ammunition because of its mix of news, features and opinionated reviews which set the agenda for young Britain. NME makes its readers feel fashionable because keeping them up to date with what everyone is talking about in music each week, it tells them about new and exciting things that are around the corner. NME is on top of all that's hot in music, making the monthlies looking outdated and slow and as a result is constantly quoted elsewhere.

So it's aimed at fifteen to twenty four music fans, then? That's handy, it can afford to lose seventy-two thousand more then. It's interesting to hear that the readers use it as "social ammunition" - what does that even mean? That last week kids were walking down the street sneering because they knew more about Keith Richards? And the 'constantly quoted elsewhere' bit puzzles as well... in the last couple of weeks, the pace seems to have been set more by the Evening Standard and the music websites than the nme. Curious.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS: Together at last - Dean Friedman and the writers of the Bastard Son of Dean Friedman as both him and Half Man Half Biscuit pitch up in Edinburgh at the same time. Besides the absolute joy of the meet-up, there's an interesting snippet at the end when Friedman points out that, having his song McDonalds Girl banned by the BBC meant he was without a recording contract for 18 years. Maybe there could be a follow-up article with him meeting the Fast Food Rockers?

OR YOU COULD JUST DETACH YOURSELF FROM ANY SENSES - DECENCY, HUMOUR, SELF-RESPECT: A webpage that will allow you - yes, you - to be like Chris Moyles. Why anyone would want to turn themselves into a bore with no talent beyond self-promotion and a career that's dribbling away faster than your nan on E is, of course, a mystery.

MICROSOFT LAUNCH LESS-GOOD VERSION OF SOMETHING APPLE INVENTED: Okay, we know that everytime Bill Gates stands up in front of a Powerpointy presentation that's what happens, but this time Microsoft are using Europe as a test bed for their 'answer' to ITunes.

Of course, it's nothing like as good. And that's not just simple anti-Microsoft prejudice - we'd not be so cruel, not on a day when their entire operation is being bombarded by a worm which is exploiting their slapdash approach to websecurity to attack the company. We're wondering what the meeting where they tried to convince the Big Labels of the quality of their Digital Rights Management system was like - did anyone from the record industry ask the vital question "You write browser software which is so full of holes you wind up having more patches than a quilting Pirate giving up smoking while on HRT - why, exactly, would we trust you with copyright security?"

MSN Music Club - and you wonder why they've given it a name that sounds like something fifth-graders would go to after school - is an answer to iTunes in the same way "about fifteen" is an answer to "what is four times four."

iTunes has a simple pricing structure - you want a song, you click on buy now, you check out, it costs you ninety-nine cents.

MSN Music Club, on the other hand, works on a credits system. You buy a stack of credits in advance. Each tune costs a certain number of credits - which means you can't quite keep track of how much in real cash you're spending. And rather than one-price-for-all, there's a confusing sliding scale of prices. You can stream music for a single credit (like paying for the radio, in other words), or temporary download for "about" ten credits (you can play the track as long you remain a member of the service, or for a year from download day, but not store it on any other machine), or a permanent download. Permanent downloads cost 99p (i.e. more than iTunes by about half as much again). Or some shit songs, which cost 79p. Or 'Gold' songs - which, confusingly, don't use Gold in the sense anywhere else in the music industry does, to mean successful, old tracks but instead to mean advance-of-release titles - for more. But these figures are only approximate, as you don't get a fixed number of credits for your money, but instead it varies according to the level of cash you're prepared to commit to the service. And then again, you can also become a subscriber, which will allow you to stream and make temporary downloads, but you'll still have to buy your permanent downloads, at a different price level again. And there are two separate levels of subscription rates.

So, let's imagine you want to purchase a specific track to burn to CD. With iTunes, you click on 'buy' and that's it. With MSN Glee Club, you're first going to have to decide exactly what level of commitment you're making. In fact, let's see what MSN itself says you do in this situation:

"If you see one track you really want the best option is to buy 150 credits for £1.49, then once you download it it's yours to keep forever. The good thing is that if it only costs 100 credits you still have 50 credits left to either stream 50 tracks or get up to 5 temporary downloads.

In other words, you'll get your track but you'll also have paid for services you don't want as well - which isn't actually buying a single track at all, is it? We can see why it’s a "good thing" for Microsoft, but not from the consumer's point of view - it's like a shop insisting you have to buy gift vouchers in denominations of GBP1, so that when you buy a 78p bottle of milk you have to top up with twelve sugar mice whether you want them or not.

Also, of course, the download format Microsoft have chosen is WMA, which is pretty rubbish and ties you to their ugly-assed player (it doesn't even work right: in some versions of the player, warns the site, the track will be listed twice, so click on the lower one; like a builder saying 'the door does work, you just have to lift it up as you open it').

The soft claims its library is on a par with iTunes, but only appears to have stuff from major labels rather than the wide indie deals that makes Apple a more delightful place to browse.

Finally, only an American company could announce "the first pan-European download service" when it's not available in Spain. Or Poland. Or Portugal. Italy, Russia, Malta. The Czech Republic. Slovakia. Greece. Turkey, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria. Vatican City, Andorra, Iceland. Estonia or Latvia, either. Oh, or Ukraine, Finland and Belguim. We're not sure about Belarus, but we're guessing they can't play, either.

WHERE DO THESE GUYS GET THEIR CRAZY NAMES?: Surely a New York band wouldn't be called TV on the radio because they were inspired by Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show (and Top 40) catchphrase, would they?

WHO DRESSED THE DOGS UP?: DMX is launching a range of clothing aimed at dogs. No, no, you keep your 'haven't FCUK already done that?' jines to yourselves, thank you.

ALTERED STATES: Not being in America, we've not really given much attention to the Rave Act, which has been signed into American Law by George Bush, having been snuck into the back of the Amber Bill. The Rave Act is part of the "War on drugs", while the Amber Bill was designed to set up the framework allowing for alerts to be flashed round the region when a kid was suspected of being abducted, so the connection is, um, clear. The cynical snapping together of something unpleasant and ill-conceived onto totally different legislation that no politician would want to be seen voting against is the sort of move that fans of Michael Howard and Kenneth Baker will recognise, of course.

The Rave provisions are designed to make club owners responsible for anyone taking drugs on their premises and has been worded so that if you have a barbecue, and one of your guests has a little toke on a spliff, you could be sent to prison for twenty years. In the original wording, the sale of bottled water could have been used as 'evidence' of drug use taking place at an event, although the wording was altered to remove this ridiculous element, at least. The implications for club operators in the US are obvious - this isn't about targetting people selling drugs, using drugs or even turning a blind eye to drug use. You've got a venue, someone takes drugs in that venue's toilets, you're looking at hard time. It's a war not on drugs, but popular culture generally. Wanna close down your rival's nightclub? Pay someone to take a pill on the dancefloor. Scatter a couple of needles on the floor. It's as simple as that (i.e. as simple as George Bush).

Some Americans are fighting back and we wish them luck.

'CAN YOU MAKE PORN COME ON MY TV PLEASE?': Man (Craig David) looks at porn on hotel TV room shocker. Whatever next, eh? It'll be David Gray admitting that he's sometimes taken drinks from the mini-bar, and Chris Martin telling us "sometimes, I use the little bottle of all-over bodywash - and I do put it all over my body, too." Or Pete Doherty fessing up to using the phone to call up four or five various hookers and rent boys and snorting coke off their arses while making them pleasure each other with tongues and the corby trouser press?

Craig David claims he gets 100 sexual propositions a year - we're guessing here, he's including the times a message flashes up saying "THIS IS AN ADULT PAY CHANNEL. DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE?" - and everytime he casts a girl in his videos, he's got the idea at the back of his head that she might end up being his wife. We suggest that anyone approached to appear in a future promo with him should check the small print of their contracts very closely indeed.

A STREETCAR NAMED... LOVE?: Its a little too Sunset Beach for words, but it turns out that Courtney Love is Marlon Barndo's grandchild, something she found out by, erm, reading her mother's autobiography. Now, there's a family with communication problems - I wonder what else was in there? "Chapter Fifteen: Courtney, we're out of milk and eggs, could you stop by the store?"

We're not sure we can spot a family resemblance:

But it might explain Courtney's love of men who mumble, we guess.

Actually, we were just stacking up for a cheap gag of Courtney looking shaggable and Marlon looking, well, craggy, there, but... look at the mouths...

MARTIN 'BEATS BULLIES': There's a splendid piece in today's Metro (sadly, not currently available online) in which Chris Martin out of Da Coldplayaz talks about being "bullied" at school. Except, of course, rather than really being bullied, it turns out from time to time he'd be given nicknames that suggested - horror of horrors - he might be gay. Now, we know that bullying isn't anything to be taken lightly, but that is hardly being bullied, is it? Teasing, surely? Anyway, what did Chris do? "I had a problem with [the teasing]. But then I realised when I was about 16 that it didn't matter. Then it stopped." Aha! Chris defeated them with the Power of Positive Thinking. Um, that, and reaching 16, the point where the sort of fuckwad who thinks gentle homophobic insults are in any way amusing will leave the school anyway?

In the same interview - taped and transcribed from Virgin's breakfast show, just like it was Doctor Kelly not exactly saying it was Alastair Campbell; only the department he was totally responsible for - Martin throws up the possibility that there might not be another Coldplay album ever: "I'm not sure if we'll come back... I feel like everyone hates us." We're sure he's just teasing us with this delicious possibility - like Robbie Williams emptying a can of petrol over his head and looking for a light - but, if it helps: Yes, Chris. We hate you. (The band, not you as people. We should be clear about that. As people, we have no feelings either way).

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

SO, AT LONG LAST...: We get ben's results:

Well here r his G.C.S.E's - 7 a's and 3 b's. that's all I kno so far. If u don't mind me askin who r u???!!

Not bad, although for a private school boy, that wouldn't really reflect very much good in terms of return on investment. And we don't know what the subjects were - it could be RE for all we know, and as we know, you get a B in that for simply turning up. But 'Is Ben thick' is something we need to give more time to investigating, I suspect. If Andrew Gilligan's got any spare time, we could do with a hand.

TURN OUT THE LIGHT. BUT LEAVE THE NIGHTLIGHT ON: So, Nelly Furtado is having a baby. This means she has done some sex with a man, or maybe used a sqeezy bottle and some spare sperm. Someone tell the 3AM girls.

NOT THAT THEY'RE BULLIES OR ANYTHING: Clear Channel are attempting to force a much smaller, rival company out of business. Another Planet, started by former Clear Channel employee Greg Perloff, booked a Springsteen gig into San Francisco's Pacific Bell Park. Clear have decided that the only way such a thing could have happened would have been if Perloff had "stolen trade secrets" while working for them. Now, there may be something to this, there might not (although to give Clear Channel a hint, if you want to stop people slipping out with their contact books, give them an environment to work in they won't want to leave). What really stinks though is the attempt Clear Channel made to get Another Planet's share of the Bruce proceeds frozen by the courts while the legal issues were being debated. In other words, not only was it bringing a spurious and terribly bitter legal action against a small competitor on what seem like vaguely pouty grounds, but it wanted to add to the financial strain on that competitor by fucking its cash flow even further. Yeah, Another Planet might turn out to be in the wrong. But even if it is, Clear's clear attempts to railroad another company out of business through legal jiggery-pokery is very Robert Maxwell, and hopefully will be remembered when the anti-trust case against them is being considered.
[Props - if that's the phrase - to rocktober]

AVRIL STILL TOPS SOME CHARTS, THEN: An interesting breakdown of the RIAA Subpoenas by Slyck News shows the main artists who the RIAA are setting out to protect, according to the number of times their tracks appear in the legal papers. Number one on the list is Avril Lavigne; also frequently cited are U2, Ludacris, Norah Jones and Michele Branch - the investment protection aspect is obvious. More interesting are the artists whose names appear only once - including The Thompson Twins and Leo Sayer. We notice also quite a lot of mis-spellings, too (Michlle Branch, the Popbitchy Marvin Gayc and The Eurythmies. If the RIAA can't be arsed to check the spelling of the people they claim to be protecting, shouldn't their paperwork be sent back to the law room?

OVERHAUL: You've probably already discovered, explored, dated, shagged and cleaned up after the whole new-look FreakyTrigger conspiracy, but in case you haven't, it's worth going to have a root around the new thrills and the new look. NYLPM is still there, but there are new sections for food, visual stuff and... pretty much everything.

YOU COULD HAVE KNOCKED ME DOWN WITH A MADE-UP CREDIT: Kelly Clarkson surprised to discover she's co-written a track with Christina Aguilera. We're sure Aguilera will be equally surprised to discover she's written a song with Clarkson, too. Kelly found out by reading the credits on her own record. Aguilera will, we suspect, find out if her accountants point out the line on the 'income' page later in the year.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: It'll be back to it's 10 pm timeslot in a couple of weeks, you know, edition:

You know, some heartless buzzards have suggested that Kym Marsh 'splitting' from her resting actor husband Jack Thingy in the week her album was released and made a hollow thud as it fell to earth might have been a nasty, nasty piece of media manipulation. Surely not - why, look at the interview she gave to last week's Heat, where she was so sad the poor girl was in tears. And the interview she gave to last week's OK!, where once again, she burst into tears. Of course, if you were really cold and cynical you might wonder how both times she managed to be photographed brushing away a tear in exactly the same pose. But you'd have to have a heart of a muscle-based repeating pump with some valves to prevent backflow to be that cold.

Angelina Jolie is this week's big interviewee in the Radio Times this week: "I believe you love people, whether they're a man or a woman. I don't want to be provocative and say I'm bisexual, but I understand the love of one woman for another because I've felt it." Angelina "Look at the phials of blood me and Billy Bob wear! I'm marrying Jonny Lee Miller, so I'll rip my arm open and write his name on my shirt with my own blood! I'm throwing a hissy fit because my nipples got airbrushed out of the Lara Croft advert!" Jolie doesn't want to do anything provocative like calling herself bisexual. Righto.

Janet Street-Porter sends a New Statesman diary from Edinburgh, where she's doing a one-woman show. Obviously, she's fabulously pleased with herself - any of the posters for her show "not stuck up have to be locked up before they're stolen" and, of course, she drops, like Gaping Ghyll, (almost as if this was a too-perfect Craig Brown spoof) that she's friends with the Pet Shop Boys, you know. They turn up with a necklace for her where those letters you can buy from Elizabeth Duke and string on chains has been made up for her to read "cunt" - in other words, they're lifting their ideas directly from Popbitch these days. (Younger readers may not be aware that at one time the Pet Shop Boys were the smartest and most urbane young men in pop music. Nowadays they make Ben from A1 seem like the Malcolm Muggeridge.)

"The coolest band in the world are back" trumpets the NME - which, judging by last week's Keith Richards cover probably means it's Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Actually, it's the Strokes. Surely they wouldn't give the Strokes the cover without an interview, would they? Not twice?

On page three there's a really gory picture of Jack White's finger being cut open - it's not clear if its by luck or judgement, but page two is given over to a full-page ad for batteries of an injured finger as well. Smart if planned. "It is unclear at present how [the White Stripes] plan to make up for their missed Carling Weekend festival appearances" tuts the headmasterly nme. I hope they sit Jack down and tell him how it's not just the school and the fans he's let down, but how he's let himself down as well.

There's a page and a half spread of Strokes News on 4 and 5 - surely that's not the big exclusive they've given the cover to? No, there's also a double page live review. It's starting to look almost like false advertising, the way they'll try and sell issues off the back of not very much indeed. And the "thanks to spin and" credit suggests that a big chunk of what they're running isn't even fresh, so they've decided the main attraction of the nme this week is some stuff that you could have read elsewhere. There is some fresh interview material, though: there's a description of some of the new album tracks by Jonathon Cohen. No, he's not in the Strokes, he's, ahem, the reviews editor of Billboard. Leeching off the stuff produced by other pop magazines is our gig, nme. So, what of the review, then? Two third of it is dedicated to the other bands on at the Japanese festival and a doesn't-work running theme of 'what if the strokes don't turn up' (One doesn't like to use bitchian, but gyac - the article is surrounded by pictures of the band on stage).

Damon's solo album of lo-fi records may never get released. We can only pray that this turns out to be the case.

The devil is in the details: Amongst the stuff lifted by Pete Libertine from Carl's flat was their NME award. Meanwhile, Carl says "There's a chasm of pity and sadness and there's something missing" - yeah, your video player, an antique guitar, two hundred quid cash...

New Vines album guff - "a bit more of a Pavement feeling", "much heavier now"; while Rock N Roll, the new Ryan Albums set - says Adams - "sounds like awesome fun." We always get nervous when anyone reaches for the f-word to describe music. Stuff that's fun to make generally comes across as self-indulgent. Not something you could accuse Ryan Adams of. Well, not if you didn't want to repeat yourself. More first listen reports flow from the Starsailor camp, where the nme reckons their "Silence is easy" could be "this years Rush of Blood to the Head" - hard to imagine, but maybe it they're right - if anyone was going to challenge Coldplay for producing the biggest collection of limp, mournful sixth-form GCSE retake dirges, it'd be Starsailor.

The video for the remake of I Believe In A Thing Called Love with feature The Darkness being menaced by giant crabs. We're well aware that the punchline here doesn't so much as telegraph itself as get zapped by the force of the speed of light into your cortex, so we'll move on, shall we?

Richard X chooses the tracks for a CD - I monster, the Human League (Marianne, interestingly) and Nightmares in Wax. He also tells a nice little story about going shopping for a silver pen with Phil Oakey.

Brody from The Distillers says that rather than be thought of as a "woman," "I like to be referred to as a she-male." She doesn't seem to realise that this won't conjure up an image of a lady rocking, but of something a little more ladyboy-ish. And she doesn't look anything like a lady-boy.

"The first time you get stabbed it's like a piercing" announces Dizzee Rascal. Let's hope it was a Prince Albert at the very least. He clearly is a JanetStreetPorterNecklace with delusions that his sad little life is in some way heroic, and the sort of worldview that's allowed to pass unchallenged - "people think you should go to college to study music, learn the trade and then you'll get a step up", for example - which is such nonsense we can only assume Ted Kessler was too busy laughing his head off to point out that the only people who think that are the sort of sods sucking down central government funding for college courses where you "learn the trade." Dizzee, see, went to raves and made demos which he gave to djs. He's clever, see? Nobody else has ever thought of doing that.

Dave Grohl's wedding will be 'graced' by a Beatles tribute band, which has, unfortunately, rendered him eligible for nothing but cruel and unusual punishments. Style tip: It is the worst manners to enforce your guests to listen to a tribute band of any stamp. If you must have a live band, ensure they will perform a variety of work.

There's a two page interview with the Hives. They try not to sound too bitter about the eight years of no-fame prior to the 'breakthrough', which they describe as "eight years of Gwyneth Paltrow not giving a shit about who you are."

muse - absolution - "next to this, even something as majestic as Elephant sounds painfully small", 9
pleasure - pleasure - "fred thinks he can be Prince; cheap computers have given him his chance", 7
guided by voices - earthquake glue - "might finally get the recognition they deserve", 8
Patrick Fitzgerald and fern smith - this imaginary woman - (yup, him out the Kitchens of Distinction) "guilty relief to vituperative anger via self-deprrcatory humour and leg-wobblign grief", 8

sotw - the libertines - don't look back into the sun - "not a fitting end, but one hell of a cliffhanger"
the cooper temple clause - promises, promises - "just misses out on sotw"

black rebel motorcycle club - leeds & Edinburgh - "next single sounds like Oasis when they were the most exciting band on the planet"*
bright eyes - Manchester academy 2 - "still more gifted than most people on planet earth"

There's a letter from someone who cares about whether Funeral For A Friend are 'extremo' or 'post-hardcore'. "Calling it extreme makes it sound like some fucking kiddie's genre" he wails. Yeah, and calling it "post-hardcore" makes it sound like some fucking kiddie's genre where they've all not shaved for a month in the hope their cumulative bumfluff makes them look like they're grown up.

And finally, there's a pull-out about the Rolling Stones, written in a 'This is Mick Jagger. He was in a band. Called The Rolling Stones" type introduction way. It's so not what you'd expect the NME to be doing you do wonder idly if there's any connection between this and the frustratingly over-common Stones ad running on at the moment.

* - Oasis never were the most exciting band on the planet. We think they mean 'like Oasis when the mere mention of them didn't want to make you stab eyes with nailcippers"

FACELESS MAN TO CONTINUE MAKING BLAND MUSIC FOR NON-EXISTENT FANS: Matt Johnson, who was apparently one of One True Voice is to continue putting out pitiful little songs in a reedy little voice despite the band being stood down from active service. He's going remain with Jive, attempting to turn his failure with the band into a major, solo disaster as well.

Sorry, but how did they decide which one they were going to keep? It reminds me of when I last moved and was forced by the landlord to cut my cats down to just one. As with 1TV, one had run away shortly before the decision had to made, but after that, it became virtually impossible to choose between them. The difference being, of course, that the cats were all equally lovable and, in the end, it was Peel, the one who was the most nervous who got to stay. With 1TV, we can't imagine what criteria they applied:
"if we go for the one with the standard inside leg, it'll make it easier to get his stage gear off the peg at Mark One"
"yeah, but the tall one would be handy to have in the office when we need to get that quarterlight window opened"
"ah, but with his height, he'll be a real asset in any branch of Kwik Save - the stocky guy hasn't got that to fall back on."
"I suppose we're not allowed to see which ones would be willing to provide oral service, are we?"

HARD TIMES DOWN CAMDEN WAY: MTV is taking a hit of five million quid in the cash it gets from B Sky B in return for the channels it provides on Digital Satelitte in the UK. This will be doubly unwelcome at a time when the channel is promising to pump more into original programming in a bid to try and shore up its share of the hugely-competitive music TV market, the first fruits of which have been seen in the oddly-overhyped introduction of Total Request Live to the UK.

TRL is a live, back-from-school-slot affair with guests and a supposedly charismatic host (we know, this isn't very different at all from the show Richard Blackwood was doing on MTV in the afternoons , except for the 'sharing the name with the American version'. The MTV TRL-UK mini-site bubbles with enthusiasm, suggesting that in the US, it was responsible for Britney's first hit (erm, actually, a well-executed web campaign wasn't it?) and that you can choose the music and see stars performing. This might have been great in the states, but in the UK, while not unattractive, it's far from unique. Why try and choose a video for a channel that's only going to play a handful in a tight little slot when there are about a dozen channels which really are total request-based? And stars playing live? What, like on The Saturday Show, CD:UK, TOTP - jesus, even This Morning?

If you do end up on the show, learn from another's experience - telling MTV that you've broken the law won't mean you're granted immunity. Even if you are a doofus.

LET ME BLOW YOUR MIND... OR, WHATEVER: We're a little puzzled by the extent Eve is going to try and squash the 'fake' picture of her doing lesbian sex strip shows. She's happy to talk about having worked as a stripper, she seems pretty relaxed at the knowledge that there are pictures of her naked swirling about, and yet with this one, she's taking legal action against this specific shot. Maybe it's the muff stuff that's causing her hackles to rise (though we hope not), but surely saying 'it isn't me' should suffice? We do like the "proof" offered, though: "Eve's representatives told New York's Daily News, "It's not a picture of her. She is upset that there's a false photo of her going around. The woman in the picture does not have Eve's two paw-print tattoos. She's had those forever." Forever?

AH. THAT MIGHT MAKE THINGS STICKY: The Best Buy chain is being sued by indie labels in the States under anti-trust rules. Now, we've always quite liked BB when we've been in the US, mainly because of their ridiculously low prices on Buffy DVD boxsets, but its those low, low prices which is causing the consternation now - "The lawsuit says Best Buy is "able to extract from the major record companies an additional 10% discount vis-a-vis other purchasers" and receives advertising and other allowances not generally granted to other merchants. According to the complaint, these favorable prices, terms and conditions allow Best Buy to sell new albums as loss leaders, diverting massive amounts of business away from its competitors." BestBuy might reflect, ruefully, that pissing off the indie labels isn't a particuarly great way to tempt them to join their online downloads service.

REUNITED... AND IT FEELS SO GOOD: Dolly Parton. Kenny Rogers. Back together.


Oh, and a quick note to the ANI news people? She's not following "actresses Jennifer Lopez and Janet Jackson" into singing careers, you numbskulls. Their passage was in the opposite direction.

HIS SLIPS ARE SEALED: As if the return of Hanson and Jobson isn't enough, Seal's back, too after five years of wrong turns and blocked muses. He pissed two years in LA making a now-dumped album, and returned to England, where he got his groove back. Although, confusingly, he says: "I moved back to England and reacquainted myself with the things that were integral to my growing up, all the things that form a part of who I am: family, friends, countrymen and countrywomen." Which makes it sound like his new stuff is going to be about the need for fox hunting and the drain on the rural economy caused by the lack of affordable housing for young couples in small villages.

HAINES AND MISERY: There's a brief but nice interview with Luke Haines on BBC News Online in which he's challenged that he's the Victor Meldrew of pop (which, of course, he doubly isn't - he's not grim and miserable, and nor is Meldrew, a man disappointed by the shortcomings of the world, not railing against them) and concludes that "my output as a whole is a rollercoaster romp of good slapstick entertainment." And a bit of twisted sex and death, of course.

YOU'RE KNOWN FOR WHAT YOU'RE KNOWN FOR: All these years later, the presenting, the modelling, and even the film directing, and Richard Jobson is still the former lead singer of The Skids.

HERE ARE THE NOT-SO-YOUNG MEN: Hanson are back. Actually, they sort of want us to think they've never been away. They also want us to think the new album is being released on an indie label through choice - "everyone will think, ooh, Hanson were dropped. But really, it was just time for a new phase to kick in. We reached a point where we really needed to go for it ourselves." Clear? I mean, obviously the being dropped by Island would have helped there, but it luckily coincided with a new phase. It's rather like the way the job steam-cleaning the seats of Silverlink commuter trains will be a new phase kicking in for the members of One True Voice in the next few weeks, we suppose.

"My girlfriend is in college, and she has to figure out what she wants to do with her life," says Zac. "I have friends my age and I go, 'I have lived three times as much life as you have.' Not in a mean way - I'm not putting down my peers. This is a burden, yes, but what more would I want to do than be burdened by something I love?"

We'd guess: being incredibly rich and successful and getting blow jobs off Angelina Jolie, Zac. And don't be too sure that you're not putting down your peers - yeah, they might not have been interviewed by Noel Edmonds or got up at four to do breakfast telly, but living day-to-day is still living, even if you don't have a PA organising your days for you. And maybe, if you'd have been living lives like them, you wouldn't have struggled so much to find an audience after your initial success - you might have had something to say.

Is it more scary that their first album Middle of Nowhere sold 6.5 million copies, or that the second could only manage just over 200,000?

PUNKOBIT: Ten Grand's Matt Davis has died at the cruel age of 26. The singer with the Iowa band died after a seizure last week. Earlier this year, the band had released their first album for Southern Records, This Is The Way To Rule, to that always important critical acclaim. It seemed that the combination of Southern's firepower and the development of a more confident, even joyful sound was about to see them break through to the next level of popularity. A rememberance guestbook has been set up on the band's official site.

IN SOMEONE ELSE'S HOUSE: We're neither phased nor upset that The Cure are on the point of another flurry of re-releasings, but what does concern us a little is that Robert Smith and the boys are working with Ross Robinson, who has had a hand in the terrors that are Korn and Limp Bizkit. Okay, it's not on a par with the Liz Phair/Avril Lavigne Freaky Friday thing, but even so... it's like they don't care that the introduction of Nu-Metal has almost killed off the native Glum Goth which provided The Cure with much of their natural support. Nowadays, if you walk round the bits of grim, northern industrial cities where you once would see large hordes - and hordes would be the word - of unpopular-at-school kids dressed in black, the words "Sisters of Mercy" diligently biroed onto an "army surplus" bag*, their habit has been taken over by people with skateboards they can't actually ride and tshirts with teddy bears** and the legend "She's got issues" on them. The Cure working with Robinson is akin to Prince Charles doing a commercial for Monsanto.

* - I've never quite worked out quite why those bags turned up in Army Surplus places - what sort of army would have ordered any small, cloth bags which fall apart as soon as an A4 ringbinder with 'The Crow' logo doodled on it is slipped inside?

** - Yes, I know what it's meant to be, but it looks like our friend Sara's old, well-loved teddy bear to us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

JAY-Z PULLS HIS DATES: When they say The Darkness will move into the slot vacated by Jay-Z, are they challenging us to come up with a Beyonce/Sloppy Seconds jibe?

NOT TOTALLY FAIR: Insane Clown Posse were rubbish, true, but the worst act ever? In a world with Limp Bizkit still, unfathomably, in it?

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: One True Voice split. No, apparently they hadn't done so before; they'd just stopped turning up.

THIS WENT ASTRAY: In a hurry, we managed to post this to a defunct blog last Thursday, instead of here. It's still relevant:

MUSIC CHANNELS? PIECE OF PISS: We're actually a little bit confused by the numbers quoted by MediaGuardian in their report on the sudden departure of Lester Mordue, head of Sky Music's channels - they seem to swap between various forms of audience measurment, but you don't need to be an expert to see that they're being outgunned by the competition. Which is a bit of a shame, really, as The Amp is actually quite good, if you like Placebo and the White Stripes. They do seem to be implying that Sky has only received a 2% share of all viewing of music television this year, but then for the first quarter they weren't available. Plus, MTV's impressive looking 56% share is spread across MTV, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, MTV Dance, MTV Hits, MTV Base and TMF, and EMAP's 39% share is drawn in by The Box, Smash Hits, Kerrang, Kiss, Q, The Hits and Magic - so not only have they both had twice as long to amass their viewing hours, but also have done so over twice as many stations. So it's not quite as grim as we'd be lead to believe for Sky. However, they've put someone from their pisspoor Travel Channels in charge, so we expect things will be getting much, much worse pretty soon.

CONGRATULATIONS, WE SUPPOSE: Cerys Matthews has given birth to a six pounds ten ounce Welsh girl. Seriously, we're very happy for her. It was on Sunday so she's probably been cleaned up and everything now, too.

OUR BEN A1 CORRESPONDENT WRITES: (about his grades):
I don't know but I know they r dgu I can find out 4 u if u want

So, w hf xd thm... sorry, we have asked them to do so. We'll keep you informed.

UP THE JUNCTION: Pete's now spilled his brains to the Evening Standard, admitting being on the drucks. This is rather like telling the Pope you're a rent boy and hoping for a blessing.

"'Yes I'm a heroin addict, yes I'm addicted to crack cocaine, and I don't know what to do. When I was arrested for burglary, they found traces of opiates and crack cocaine in my blood. I'm all cut up, unsure, I don't know what I'm doing, I need a good kicking and I need some help. I went to speak to Carlos about how I had a drummer and bass player living on my floor. They are on the dole and I needed to pay them because they are musicians. I was going down to Carlos's to say I can't pay them out of my own money and I found myself shouting at him and it turned out I was arguing with my reflection. When I realised, I booted the door in. I was engulfed by complete misery and despair. It wasn't revenge. It was more 'why are you ignoring me' - a cry from the darkness. I do feel remorse, I feel sick.' "

We're not sure if when he said "I feel sick" he meant he was feeling wretched, or if he was just warning the Daily Mailesque hack he was about to vomit over his shoes. We're not quite sure how you get from arguing with your own shadow to legging it up Tottenham Court Road with a video and an antique guitar under your arm, but there you go. He's unlikely to have won any friends by bubbling the drummer and bassist for earning money while claiming the dole, either. But, really: aren't the record companies and management supposed to care for their artists? Isn't making sure their charge's drugs remain addling rather than controlling one of the things they take a sizeable chunk of the rewards for? An ill man badly let down, isn't it?

ONE BRIGHT SPARK: The bitter men of pop start out early these days, don't they? One True Voice - or One Minor Hit, as they will always be known - are happy to blame everyone except themselves for their shambling failure. Jamie Shaw has been blubbing to the Sun about how unfair everything is:

"We would have stood a chance if Pete had been interested in us. But he did not support us and gave us a horrible Eighties look and sound. He was a great producer ten years ago but he had no idea how to make us work."

Okay... so, if Pete Waterman is old and out of touch (we'll not draw attention to his mathematical howler, putting 'the 80's' ten years ago), why would it have made any difference if he'd been interested in you? Either Waterman was crap, and you were hobbled from the start, or else he's great and didn't give you the - enormous - amount of time it would have taken to Brasso your particular effluents into something that people might want to spend time with. Maybe, though, he didn't give you too much time because he sensed you were an act without an act, a group without chemistry, a cause that was so lost you made Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction seem commonplace?

"The feeling of being voted into the final five was brilliant. But the whole country was obsessed with who would top the charts. Whoever lost that battle was going to be the ultimate loser and that was us. It just went wrong for us. The girls were given great tracks and a trendy image. We got none of that."

Yes, Shaw, the country was obsessed with the battle. The show was called 'The Rivals' - did that not give you a hint of the format? The girls were given an OK-ish track, and dressed like Atomic Kitten, the default setting for girl groups. You were given an OK-ish track and dressed like Westlife, the default setting for boy groups. Maybe Girls Aloud worked harder? Maybe they wanted it more? Maybe they didn't expect to be 'given' everything?

He has also warned new Pop Idol contestants that the show will leave their dreams in tatters. "One or two contestants will do OK but the others will be heartbroken. There can only be one or two winners with the public, the rest will fail."

And here's another shocker: One of the Families on Family Fortunes goes away without winning the competition. And I've heard tell that only one out of all the contestants on Mastermind - just one - is given the title. The rest don't get a fruitbowl and the chance of a seat next to David J Bodycombe on the next series of Puzzle Panel. The whole point of Pop Idol is that the field gets whittled down from thousands to just one. It's a competition. And you know what, Jamie, the success rate is probably a lot higher than for people who try to get through to music sucess in the traditional route. They're an incredible launch pad, these shows, and the people who fail to make the most of it - yes, Sneddon, I'm talking to you, too, here - have only themselves to blame. Of course it'll end in tears for nearly everyone - that's the format, and anyone who enters expecting anything other than painful humiliation and a quick trip back to the day job after two series of Popstars, one of Pop Idol and a Fame Academy is clearly so dim they shouldn't be allowed out on their own anyway.

Shaw said he still wants to succeed in the business. "I can't go and work in a supermarket now."

Yes, we'd heard that Somerfield had gotten tight about keeping jobs open for the six weeks these guys go off and play at musicians.

"That's what's hard, the experience marks you and it's difficult to go back to normality."

Jamie, love, look at your dull little band and it's flat little tune and the depressingly woefull ticketsales for your tour. You never moved beyond normality, honey. Which is exactly why you're not in the top ten anymore.

THE STORY GETS SADDER STILL: So, Pete Libertine's burglarising was of Carl Libertine's house - although I suppose it may have been a smart move; after all, if Carl wants to avoid repeat offences, he could let Pete back in the band so, when he was on stage, he'd know where Pete was, too. But, really, it's all a bit of a shame, isn't it?

Meanwhile: Carl Libertine lives on Harley Street? Now, since the band can't be making that sort of money, the question is: how?

Monday, August 11, 2003

SHE'S FUCKING WITH A SLIP OF A MAN: No Rock darlings Suede are plotting a residency at the ICA this September. Each night they'll work their way through a different album, in order; the encores will be drawn from the bsides and rarities. It's almost certainly going to be the last time some of the early padding (ahem, 'album bound' tracks) will get aired in that all-important live venue.

Day/Album interfacing:
monday 22nd september - suede
tuesday 23rd september - dog man star
thursday 25th september - coming up
friday 26th september - head music
saturday 27th september - a new morning

BEN AGAIN: We're slightly worried that the fan who speaks up for Ben from A1's intellectual credentials is unable to understand us when we say "so, what did he get, then?":

I didn't understand that email but it sounds like u know what results he got. Like u said he's a lovely lovely bloke so leave him alone he don't need the crap.

We would like to apologise to the lovely Ben if he is feeling distressed by this conversation. But we're desperate to find out if he's smart as well as being a giant ball of spunk-me fluffiness. Somehow, we imagine he's not losing much sleep over it all.

GET YOUR COAT, LOVES, YOU'RE PULLED: The news that the Sugababes have axed their winter tour dates merely adds to the likelihood that a combination of their looking so bored during their recent park-based appearances, Mutya clearly being knocked up and their obviously hating each other's guts is spelling the end for them - let's face it, they had a bloody lucky second gasp off the back of the cover-of-the-mash-up track after they'd drafted in the Atomic Kitten reject.

More schadenfreude joy: 6Music has just announced Kelly Osbourne has cancelled her entire UK tour due to "illness" (that would be, presumably, the sickly ticket sales they're referring to). Bye, Kelly.

KEYS LACKING LOCKS: We're kind of glad we've discovered Alicia Keys online diary as it is, quite frankly, bonkers. She talks to her online journal in a scarily vivid way, almost as if she was unaware it's nothing but a common marketing tool, and she asks it if it likes Marvin Gaye. We would fear for her sanity, but she feels like God's talking to her, so we're sure the big fella is looking out for her. Or something.

POST-BIS: The former Manda Rin from Bis has turned up on Beat 106 in Scotland doing a show under her real name. Since we'd walk a mile in her shoes for the hell of it - even in a thunderstorm like this one - we feel this is great news but wish she'd find a slot on, say, 6Music instead.

BUILDING FENCES, BUT NOT BRIDGES: Melvin Benn has done nothing to make the locals at the new venue for the Leeds Festival any happier, suggesting they're a bunch of, erm, wellington-boot wearers. (Funny that, what with it being in the country and all). He seems to think the reason they don't have a problem with the local Game Fair but do with the music festival is because it's young people who go to it. Maybe that is the case. Or maybe it's because the last two years' Game Fairs haven't ended up in mini-riots and didn't cause a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage. Benn behaves as if he's representing a Festival with a clean track record rather than a very dodgy past and doesn't seem to realise that locals have every right to be concerned - we're sure the massive fences and doubling of security staff will stop any repeat of last year's trouble, but it's not in our front garden so we can afford to be relaxed. Looking at the website's offers to sell crates of cheap beer to festival goers by mail-order, we'd be slightly worried at the encouragement to drunkeness in our neighbourhood, too.

We were also interested to read that a large number of tickets had been given to the local parish council as an - ahem - sweetener, which they're planning to sell on at twenty quid a throw. Erm... except, of course, the terms and conditions state that "Tickets are only valid when purchased from official agents of the Mean Fiddler. Tickets bought from other sources will be refused admission". Does this mean the Council have got permission to act as agents, then?

NO, ROCK AND ROLL? FUN. We can only assume that before the new Ryan Adams album makes it to the stores he will be beaten up repeatedly until he decides not to call it 'Rock and Roll'.

IT'LL BE PANIC ATTACKS NEXT: Eminem says he fears if he takes a break from writing - at all he'll get blocked and his songs will be "whack." He doesn't seem to have thought that maybe oversupply and burn-out might be more of a threat than having a bit of a sit-down and a couple of weeks in Morocco. Because if you're constantly writing, sooner or later you'll have nothing to write about than your writing and that's got to be less than inspired... oh, hang about... we've come too late, haven't we?

SIGHT UNSEEN: Normally we'd think twice before we suggested you send off your precious pounds for a product we've not seen, but today, we throw caution to the gentle breeze and say go and place an order for Issue Zero of the London News Review. For [edit]five pounds[/edit] you'll get a fiver off the full subs, a packet of stuff and a magazine which - coming from the Friday Thing stable - is probably going to be worth it (and may also be the reason their Paul Carr is kicking Ian Hislop all over the mediaGuardian). But don't take our impartial word for it, instead, here's what they promise:

LNR was created to fill a huge gap on the magazine shelves. All over Britain, people (ourselves included) are banging their heads against the metal shelves in WH Smiths, frustrated that there is absolutely no magazine that speaks both for them and to them. They buy Private Eye for 'Warballs'; they buy Time Out for the reviews; they buy the Guardian but throw away everything except G2; they buy the New Statesman for the cover story and Mark Thomas; they buy Word for the interviews; they buy The Week and wonder what all the fuss is about; they even buy the occasional copy of Heat and remember when it used to have a backbone.... but they are still left hungry for more.

THE RIAA ARE GOING DOWN IN MASSACHUSETTS: A judge agrees that the RIAA can't sit in DC issuing subpoeanas trying to force colleges to name students in Massachusetts. The RIAA calls this a "limited setback" and mutter about how it's merely procedural, don't you know - but what it has done is suddenly upped the amount of work the evil cabal will have to do to get colleges to give up the names of file-sharing students. What it also does it provide a fairly sharp example of how shit the RIAA's legal team must be - god knows what they're paying them, but to make a simple slip like this must be really embarrassing to the RIAA, musn't it? It makes the Corporate Music Industry look a whole heap of bungling amateurs. (Admittedly, so does their release schedule and they money they pump into Mariah Carey, but even so...)

CHARTYWATCH: At the end of a long evening, a man walks towards me bearing the new album chart and with a curious look of outrage on his face. "Robbie Williams escapology has returned to the number one slot in the album chart - off the back of those megagigs last weekend. And can you now sit there and tell us that, really, Robbie is over?"

I sigh and put down my Jamesons and Coke. "You're suggesting that an album by - supposedly - EMI's biggest act returning to number one after some thirty-eight weeks - off the back of an enormous, enormous PR push - is some sort of indication of this artist's rude health? What is suggests to me is that there were a lot of people who would have been expected to have bought the album before, who took a hell of a lot of persuading to actually go out and get the bloody thing. Yes, it's sold thousands this week, but look at the shove that that took. This last whirl of publicity and the too-large-by-a-third gigs haven't been about converting new people into the way of Robbie, but merely trying to bring back some people who'd got lost. Quite simply, an artist at the height of his powers wouldn't need to fill Knebworth, block the motorway, do a week with Sara Cox, tonnes of press, chummy up with Wayne Rooney, persuade his former oppo to hop up on stage, try and get TV companies interested and generally squeeze for all his worth to move some copies of his album. Frankly, it's shocking that there were enough people who took all that persuading to return the album to the top. Robbie isn't over - I suspect we'll never see the back of him; however, his power is now ebbing away. If you look down at the bottom end of the chart, you'll note that his older, more successful albums (with the more popular songs on) only had enough juice left to lift them to the low 70's. Now, do you want to go and explain to the Tories why a four point lead over Labour at this stage in the parliamentary cycle isn't actually anything to celebrate, or shall I?"

Elsewhere in the album chart, of course, the rise of "Proper" music continues to be rewarded, with the Top Ten still featuring the Coral, the Darkness, the Kings of Leon and (if we must) the Stereophonics. The highest new album entry is the perhaps slightly despondent Kraftwerk Tour De France Soundtracks (21), proving that there's life in the old hard-wired sorts still, but maybe not enough to make it worth buying new batteries. Charlie Landsborough's Smile hits 55, making just two new entries in the entire list. Maybe everyone thought it was too hot to get down to Virgin. The sound of Kym Marsh's "career" coughing itself to a painful death in the corner continues, as our big net has managed to dredge the third-week chart position of Standing Tall (it's at 47 - we'd imagine her management are grinning and saying "it's still in the top fifty, Kym... keep confident... keep smiling" while booking her slots calling the numbers at Mecca Bingo Halls up and down the country). And, as a little numerical curiosity, Eminem gave up the number 31 slot to Gentleman Jim Reeves best of, something we'd like to see actually acted out.

If the album chart has been merely shuffling, the singles chart has been the scene of more excitement. Blu Cantrell remains at number one, but Ultrabeat's Pretty Green Eyes puts in a solid challenge at number 2; the frankly now-rather-unnecessary Cheeky Girls even more pointless reworking of Boney M enters at 3 (Hooray, Hooray, It's A Cheeky Holiday) and The Real Cute One Out of Take That, Mark Owen, puts in his first chart appearance in something like five years with Four Minute Warning at number 4. Pharrell Williams and Jay Z's Frontin (6); J Nevin's I'm In Heaven (9); Can't Let You Go by Fabolos (14) and Fallen Angel by Elbow (19) also enter the twenty, as does Kelly Rowland, although Train on a Track's shuffling to 20 will cause no little upsetment for the supposed other power of Destiny's Child.

We're delighted to see Howie Payne finally getting some sales recognition - The Stands are fresh at thirty-two this week and, having got so close with Blueseed even a curmudgeon like me can tip a hat to his delayed success. And a slap on the back to 4 Tune 500, who haven't let having a really shite name stop them from being this week's Angelwitch award, entering with their first single at number 75.

[It's our blogcritics party piece]

Sunday, August 10, 2003

WE NAME THE SPAM BAND CLUNKERS: UC3 are a heavy-spamming band at the moment, sending out pleas for us to visit their site, with this temptation:

Members of the group have been on tour and performed with Brittney Spears, Destiny Child and N'Sync. They have recently performed with Ashanti and appeared with Sting at the Super Bowl

Leaving aside the clear implication of the "members of the group have been on tour and performed with..." (i.e. they're comprised of backing singers and chrous artists), wouldn't you expect them to have at least spelled the name of two of the biggest acts in the world they're claiming links to would have been spelled correctly? They're mis-spelled on the website, too.

FIGHTING IRE WITH LOOK-IN: US State Department attempts to win over young Arabs by publishing a pop magazine aimed at them. Because who'd fall for a charismatic preacher when they could get a free poster?

HINTS NOT TAKEN: The NME knows that 'meet andrew wk' (remember him?) isn't enough to get people interested, so they're trying to increase the bribe by saying Meet Andrew WK - and get your face in the NME. At least if they include some nme types in the feature, there's a chance that there will be someone on the page that some readers give a fuck about.

PRE-PRE-PRE-PRODUCTION: Mariah Carey's people are letting it be known they've been approached about her doing her shite warbling for next James Bond movie. Now, how worried must you be about the sliding profile of your 'talent' that you need to try and talk her up by mentioning the vague possibility that they might be involved with a movie which isn't even in pre-production yet and won't be released for two years?

In order to help, here's some other things they might want to run with:
Mariah Carey might be a subject on This Is Your Life, if Channel 5 decide to run with it, at some point.

There's no reason at all that Mariah Carey might wind up playing a gig at Buckingham Palace some day. Ozzy did, didn't he?

Mariah Carey hasn't been ruled out as a person to do the national anthem at the Superbowl in 2009.

A HAPPY ACCIDENT: Luckily for The (UK) Beatings, the American band of the same shit name want them to choose another one, meaning that they can slew off the Crappest Name In Pop and choose something better. Although who knew there could be two bands to have chosen the same rubbishy moniker?

Actually, Rubbishy Monica would be a great alternative name, don't you think?

MORE ON BEN: Our secret source writes again:
Have u eva met him? Honestly hes lovely I thort he wud b big headed but hes not. He went 2 boardin school and got all a's and b's, which, u have 2 say is quite gud!

We're not sure that 'thort' is correct text speak for 'thought', by the way - surely it should be t0 (or t-ought, see). This doesn't really answer our point, though, that he seems a bit, well, vacant. And if he's so smart, what's he doing in A1? Points we shall raise with our correspondent, you can be sure.