Tuesday, December 23, 2003

AND MAY THE LORD HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOLOS: 2004 is shaping up to be a year of solo side projects - John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is now readying his. Maybe 2005 will be better.

NO TIMBERLAKE IN 2004: JuJu Timberlake is taking 2004 off to spend time having as much sex as possible with Cameron Diaz before she wakes up to herself and realises she's dating, like, one of Hanson. "I realise that I've probably got about two months before she starts to get calls from Gwyneth Paltrow saying 'Don't do it... don't repeat my mistake'" he told some reporters, probably, "so I'm not going to have my people make any records for me so i can cram as much sex with Cameron in as possible before the inevitable happens."

Last night, Mark Frith popped up on test the nation, oozing about how cool Justin is. Now, that's got to be a sign - when the editor of Heat says you're cool by their standards, that places in you the segment of known society alongside Jade from Big Brother and Victoria Beckham. Frith also claimed that Madonna's children's book was a great piece of writing - now, obviously the editor of Heat can't be expected to tell a good piece of writing when he sees one, but it does fly in the face of what anyone else who's picked up The English Roses reports.

TROUBLED TIMES CALL FOR... UM, TROUBLED STARS: Oh, sweet jesus - Jacko is now relying on support from the likes of Darryl Strawberry and MC Hammer. And "commedian Eddie Griffin", who we suppose Americans might have heard of. Serena Williams is apparently standing by Michael, though - although what she'd know about having your childhood taken from you by an overbearing father forcing you to live out his dreams, we can't imagine.

BAD NEWS FOR ACTING, FASHION INDUSTRIES: Victoria Beckham has said she'll switch to acting or "fashion" if her music career flops - we always knew she wasn't going to turn up on celebrity Mastermind, but we're a little surprised that she doesn't know what "if" means. Seriously, though: acting? Does she see herself as Portia, perhaps? Or, judging by how long it'd take her to learn anything approaching a full script, maybe she should start working on her
Miss Marple now.

BRANCH UNDRESSING: Chuck writes to us with news that suggests Michelle Branch's sales might not be going that well:

Interesting factoid you might not have heard of: Maxim USA's latest covergirl is a rather topless Michelle Branch. In the article, she declares, "I'm kind of a pervert. We'll be on the tour bus, and me and my makeup artist will be watching porn. Everyone thinks about sex, so why are we pretending that we're not?" She also says she has a pirate fetish. (And for some reason I haven't figured out, they keep making barbecue jokes about her.)

Their greatly-abbreviated online version is on the Maxim website.

Interesting... and not even the figleaf of musical respectability conferred by being in the slightly-less-purely-for-wanking Blender, we note...

CENTURY OF PAIN: It looks like the Radio Authority has elected to go out in fighting style, issuing a final warning to Capital about the programming on Century. The Century Licences in the North West and North East were originally won by Border Television, who promised a distinctive style of music and "challenging speeech." Since Capital hadn't maanaged to win a licence since the early 70's, it had been pursuing its bid to be a delicious takeover target for Clear Channel ("expansion plans") through the process of buying up stations and basically making them fairly bland versions of Capital FM. And so far, it's got away with it. But no more, as the Radio Authority had stamped its feet at Capital's choosing to ignore previous warnings, and basically told the group to put back fifty percent speech in daytime, or kiss its lucrative franchises goodbye.

Capital may be regretting the hugely expensive TV campaign which had suggested Century was the place to go to sing along with Ronan Keating and Kylie, which kind of advertised how far it had wavered from what it was meant to be doing with the frequencies.

Monday, December 22, 2003

RECORD COMPANIES LOOK FORWARD TO EXCITING 1954: The Record Labels always tell us how they struggle to find all the cash they can to promote exciting new acts, and so, as you'd expect, the release schedule for the first quarter of 2004 is jam-packed with hot new "shit" from the street. No, really, it's a load of reissues - 50th anniversary of rock, 40th anniversary of British Invasion, and even - god help us - Black Tie, White Noise getting a second, third, fourth run out. Plus the still warm corpses of Harrison and Cash are shaken by their legs, while that five CD Dave Brubeck retrospective you've been wishing for finally becomes a reality.

But don't worry, traditionalists - there's also going to be yet another Frank Sinatra best-of.

"I CAN'T GO TO PRISON... DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DO TO PRETTY BOYS IN PRISON: Jack White's looking at a year in prison following his mashing of Jason Stollsteimer's face - he's been charged with aggravated assault. It sounds like Wayne County Prosecutor - that's the bloke in charge of law in the place where it happened, not a man who dedicates himself to bringing transexual singers to book - doesn't think too much of them there celebs: "It seems that far too often celebrities think that the law doesn't apply to them. So many don't understand the impact they have as role models on young people." Or indeed the impact they have a punchers on the faces of young people, come to that. Our legal expert is predicting a spot of plea bargaining, and some community service. If only Jack had a drug problem he could cite and swap the threat of chokey for a couple of weeks in rehab, eh?

BIGGER THAN, UM, ABBA: More an example of how easy it is to maintain a song in the lower reaches of the charts than any reflection of his talents, we suspect, but Robbie Williams has now spent more time in the charts than T-Rex and Abba. More interestingly, Buddy Holly has disappeared from the rundown of the Top 100 artists with rock longevity or whatever it was the chart was measuring. Not the first time he's vanished into nothingness, of course.

RIAA "BUNCH OF CHANCERS", SUGGESTS JUDGE: The RIAA have been frustrated in their attempts to force Verizion to reveal the names of its customers who zip files through their servers because, a judge points out the ISPs aren't the people storing the files and so, really, it's nothing to do with them. Under US law, the music industry can still bring actions against file sharers, but what this judgement means the process of finding out who those people are has just become enormously more time-consuming and expensive.

Meanwhile, in Europe, a Dutch court has thrown out an action trying to rule the very existence of Kazaa illegal, saying that while you can do bad things with it, that doesn't make the software illegal. Although bloody obvious (to have concluded otherwise would have had the effect of making video recorders illegal across Europe) it's still an important precedent to have been made.

THE WRIT OF CHRISTMAS SPIRIT CAN RUN ONLY SO FAR: Frankly, we can't find it in our hearts, even at the most magical time of the year, to view the return of Gomez planned for 2004 as anything other than a punishment for something we may or mayn't have done.

ASDAWNLOAD: The most evil corporation in the world (ranked in terms of how much it earns, and the size of the sexual discrimination class action suit it's fighting, and its apparent habit of hiring illegal aliens and paying them below minimum wage), WalMart is entering the increasingly overcrowded download market, with its USP being price - 88 cents a pop. Now, sometimes you have no choice but to shop in an Asda or a WalMart, but really, wouldn't you feel better about yourself stealing from Kazaa rather than lining the pockets of the World's Largest Comapny when buying online music?

Bryan Adams unveils a stamp with a picture he took of the Queen

We're going with '"Not my mother, too" wails Charles'

I AM THE LAW: What on earth is Pete Waterman's problem with Michelle winning Pop Idol? The choo-choo train obsessed bloke stormed off the Pop Idol set when it was announced Michelle had won, blethering "I just want to leave now because I don't want to detract from the final. This is not about me being negative, it's about the winner". Pete seems to have a problem with the concept of someone who doesn't look as if her final course involves kneeling the the bathroom each dinnertime being in the music industry at all, and fulminates that he doesn't think she's Pop Idol material. Well, maybe not, but coming from someone who endoresed the anodyne Will Young and who this time last year was helping One True Voice to their new lives as shoe salesmen, it's a bit rich. Clearly, there is a problem with voting system since it appears to have accidently delivered victory to a person who you don't want to drown in bleach, but couldn't Pete at least have pretended to be happy for her? Or to shrug and say "The audience have spoken, I may have been wrong. Again."

Cheer up, Pete - maybe it'll be an annorexic next year.

CHEAP AS CHIPS: Eminem 'livid' as tracks appear for sale on Ebay. Now how could such a thing have happened? Not as a distraction from the lawsuit against The Source, surely?

COMEBACK... WHAT DO YOU KNOW?: Danny McNamara out of Embrace makes a surprise re-appearance on his own messageboards:

Just got back from the gigs.Thanks for all your emails and messages. I can't tell you how good it is to be back, after spending the last two years doing nothing but writing songs. Even on my birthday which was new years eve I was at home all night writing. The bars been raised to a level that’s so high you can’t see it from the ground. Now at last we’ve got 10 songs that clear the bar. Everyone seems to be saying that we’ve got something back that we lost along the way. For me each album has got progressively more honest. The difference with this one is that the big tunes are back. I want to write songs that make people stick out their arms in a t shape and shout TUNE. We're going to carry on writing over Christmas ,then we go into the studio at the begining of next year to start work on the new album with Youth. He’s the most challenging person we’ve ever worked with. We’ve already spent some time in pre-production with him, which was one of the most inspiring times we’ve ever had. As soon as he walks in the room everybody raises their game by 50%.

Now, usually you'd expect us to make a cheap crack here, and the stuff about people making giant T shapes is tempting, but it's Christmas, and we quite like All You Good Good People, so we'll lay an extra place at the table for Embrace and kiss them on the forehead.