Saturday, December 31, 2005
The RIAA is quick to claim that when it enforces copyright law that it's got nothing to do with their desires to protect profits and comfy boardroom seats, and everything to do with "protecting artists." So, what are they doing sending threatening letters to, erm, recording artists? David Byrne - yes, that David Byrne - has had an RIAA warning because one of his online radio shows featured on Missy Elliot. Dave is not impressed:
In my case the law forbids streaming “radio” that features more than 4 tracks by any one artist in a three-hour period. My guess is that they may have confused streaming with downloading — in the same way that people often confuse downloading with file sharing. They are afraid that even if it’s not downloadable somehow if a fan knows there will be 3 Missy songs at a given time they can prepare their gear and tape them. The assumption being that sale is lost. [I’ve been informed that the fear is less sensible than that — it is that if you know you can hear a specific artist whenever you want, then the reasoning is you would never buy their records.]
Back in the day I used my boom box to tape things off the radio all the time — that’s how I found out about music I didn’t know about, and eventually I not only bought those records, but ended up promoting them, too. Which made a fair amount of money for some record labels — but not for me. Not complaining, though.
Byrne then goes on to point at one of the insanities of the current situation: at the moment, he's covered by a single paid-for license which allows him to stream music over the net. If he had wanted to obtain licenses which would have allowed him to feature more than four tracks by the same artist in a three hour period, he would have had to licence each song individually. He quotes Lawrence Lessig's estimate that, should a web radio station win 10,000 listeners for a 24 hour a day station, they'd have to pay a million dollars a year. With this sort of stupid position for people who want to be legitimate, you can see why non-cooperation prospers.
[Thanks to Mark Savage for the tip on this one]
Although we're diligently updating our overview of year-end overviews, we think the Decemberist business over at Sweeping The Nation deserves some of your time, either as you prepare for an evening waiting for the midnight bongs or while you do your plink, plink, fizz tomorrow morning:
Meanwhile in Britain we had another year of UK hip-hop being talked up as about to break and then never doing so, Lady Sovereign lost to her own Save The Hoodie publicity stunt, Roots Manuva politely ignored once again and M.I.A. earning acres of press attention completely at odds with a highest charting single position of 77. Pure Reason Revolution do better than that.
This time, it's one of Eminem's little buddies who's been on the wrong end of a gun: Obie Trice was shot at on Detroit's Lodge Freeway just after one this morning, local time. State Police are investigating, but don't know where to start looking.
More from the RIAA, and its attempts to create a Last Days of Rome vibe in the US. According to a deposition filed in Michigan, a couple who had been targeted by the RIAA are seeking redress for unreasonable and vexatious litigation. The sworn deposition claims that the RIAA lawyers instructed a fifteen year old girl to commit perjury in order to make one of their cases stick:
Q. What other areas do you feel that Mr. Krichbaum put words in your mouth?
A. I don't remember any specifically. Just trying to get me to say that Angie and Jim or I had ripped the music off.
Q. It wasn't true. And you felt that Mr. Krichbaum was trying to get you to say something that wasn't true?
Q. And did he get you to say something that wasn't true?
A. From the statement I read, yes.
Ms. Granado went on to testify that Mr. Krichbaum had urged her to provide false and inaccurate testimony with regard to the entire portion of her original testimony implicating the Nelsons.
Q. Did he tell you why he needed you to stick with your original false story?
A. Because he said he didn't have a case unless I did.
No wonder the RIAA has concentrated its efforts on dead people and kids - so much easier to make them bend to your will, of course. At least when Jonathan Aitken forced teenage girls to lie in court, he kept it in the family.
Also in the "stuff we've sat on for too long" pile is the email from Towerofsong's Twangfreak bringing the AmericanEdit controv to our attention.
The story is a familiar one - a Green Day fans created a mash-up of their American Idiot, and were rewarded for their efforts with - of course - a cease-and-desist from Warners. In response, "dean gray" organised a day of protest which saw hundreds of websites hosting the tracks, spilling out 15 terrabytes of data to about a quarter of a million people. (A terrabyte of data is about the size of a dinosaur, so that's a lot).
In other words: rather than thinking "oh, that's nice that someone is so keen on one of our bands they'd do something like that to build their fanbase up", Warners went legal and turned what would otherwise have been a small website sharing music with a few people into a global phenomenon; and managed to make Green Day look less like the anarchesque rebels they've been trying to shift their image towards so painfully for the last couple of years, and like just another bunch of corporate shills. Did nobody - anybody - at Warners not think "this is the sort of action which could so easily blow up in our faces, like with the Dangermouse record?" Isn't it about time the major labels started hiring people who understand a little about the internet to help shape their reactions to it?
What has also emerged as a response is that Warners have also been handing out the C&Ds to fansites for using pictures and even album artwork on the web. It's never a good thing when a company is so stupid as to try and close down what are effectively free advertising sites for their products; but doing it in the name of a band who have been supported and shaped through difficult years by the sort of passionate fan who might want to spend time building a site about them in the first place? Shame on Warners, but also shame on Green Day for letting their bosses behave like that in the first place. Green Day have sold handsomely because of, not despite, fans like that in the first place. Without that fanbase, Billie Joe would be in a similar position to Lee Harding.
Quite a shameful while before Christmas, we got an email from Claire at CFBGoesPop detailing the collapse of the Australian Idol series into one bubble of controversey after another - not least the splendid and probably unsustainable rumours that the winner, Kate Dearaugo, won with the help of her Dad ringing her voteline thousands and thousands of times. And this chap, Lee Harding. Yes, yes, we know the only punks who dress like that nowadays are the ones who stand on Westminster Bridge charging tourists for photos, but it seems nobody has told Keith that. Lee, it seems, takes it all seriously.
But not so seriously as he didn't pause for a moment before releasing his debut single, Wasabi, which features the opening couplet "She's like a tsunami, could wipe out an army." Did he think that might, you know, be a little insensitive?
"When I first read the lyrics, I was like, hmm.
"It has settled down enough for people not to sort of jump on that I think and ... it (the word tsunami) is not made out in an offensive line."
C'mon, guys... that third of a million people drowned, like, months ago, and he did think "hmmm" - time to move on now, surely?
Lee is aware that a solo comedy punk might not last long, so he's putting together a band. He hasn't got a name for it yet:
"I am tossing up ideas," he said.
"I am looking at band names with two words in it, something punchy that jumps out at you, something that rolls off the tongue nicely."
Hmm... how about Safe Rebellion? Mummy's Shocker? Discount Mascara?
Claire reports that when he was asked "as you're wearing a Motley Crue tshirt, what are your five favourite Motley crue songs", he was only able to come up with two. One of them? Anarchy In The UK.
If you're feeling a bit gloomy at the ending of another year, and thinking that you might have failed a bit in trying to make something of yourself in 2005, why not cheer yourself up by spending some time enjoying Kevin Federline's Official Website?
The most amusing thing is that - despite all the denials that he's riding on the back of Britney - the site appears to be loaded in from Britneyspears.com. He's had the site built in Flash 8, despite it being a static page of text with one photo on and a small pop-up window where you can subscribe to his email list.
Kevin, you see, wants us to know who he really is:
I don't think we've ever been formally introduced. My name is Kevin Federline. I'm 6 feet tall, have brown hair and brown eyes. I enjoy horseback riding, long walks on the beach and the wind whipping through my hair. Ha ha ha. On a more serious note, there's going to be a lot more information and updates on here in the coming weeks and I think this will provide you with the opportunity to get to know who I really am.
I think we've got a pretty good handle on who you really are, Kev - Britneyspearsspermdonor, isn't it?
Kevin has given up trying to find a proper release for his - cough - music, and is going to put it live this very night. Yes, forget the other joys of the new year: at midnight PST, Federline Becomes Music.
According to today's Sun (which means it might be true), Gary Glitter had been plotting a jailbreak; using a sixty thousand quid bribe and a faked illness to get out of Vietnam and off to South America. Clearly, he'd had dreams of being a latter-day Ronnie Biggs.
The interesting thing is the difference between the few quid he was apparently prepared to toss at the kids he's accused of shagging, and the handsome sum he was prepared to pay to get himself out of prison.
Of course, there is a chance that if he's caught breaking out of prison, he could wind up shot.
Lots of lovely Longcut action - if you pop over and subscribe to their mailing list, you'll be rewarded with what they call a download of the LFO remix of A Last Act of Desperate Men - although actually it appears to be a stream to us, but who's quibbling.
And, next month, they'll be playing gigs in the UK and America and then back in the UK in February:
Fri 6 Jan London Club 333 (Kill All Hippies)
Tue 10 Jan Los Angeles Cinespace
Wed 11 Jan Los Angeles Silverlake Lounge
Thu 12 Jan San Francisco Popscene
Sat 14 Jan New York Tiswas (Reopening Party)
Mon 16 Jan New York Mecury Lounge
Friday 27 Jan Koko Camden Club NMW
Friday 17 Feb Cargo London XFM Remix
Friday 24 Feb Hammersmith Palais London NME Brats
The New York Tiswas? The Tiswas? Surely that can't be a coincidence. We wonder if there's any other US venues named after ITV kids shows - we'd love to hear of Oasis playing the Las Vegas Saturday Banana, or the 22-20s turning up for a support slot at Raleigh's The Mersey Pirate.
Apparently, Q has been going for twenty years and to mark the anniversary, it's organised a poll to find the best album of all time. Confusingly, it's elected to not put the list online, which means instead of directing you to the Q magazine site, we'll have to point you in the direction of The Sun - who seems to think that the heavy presence of many 1990s records shows that that was the best decade ever for music, rather than the relative age of Q magazine readers.
The Top 20 are:
1. Radiohead - OK Computer
2. Radiohead - The Bends
3. Nirvana - Nevermind
4. The Beatles - Revolver
5. Oasis - Definitely Maybe
6. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
7. R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
8. Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
9. U2 - Achtung Baby
10. Radiohead - Kid A
11. U2 - The Joshua Tree
12. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
13. Jeff Buckley - Grace
14. The Beatles - Abbey Road
15. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon
16. The Verve - Urban Hymns
17. The Beatles - The Beatles
18. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
19. The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
20. The Clash - London Calling
Man, that's a lot of Radiohead in there, isn't it? Perhaps the surprises, though, are that a lot of people are actually putting their votes where their mouths are, floating Jeff Buckley up to 13 - we'd always assumed people just pretended to like him - and the surprising persistence of Urban Hymns, a record which, by now, you would have expected to be sitting largely forgotten at the back of smaller record collections.
Having worked out the best album of all time, now the magazine is moving on to the Greatest Song.
Ah, the chimes of midnight marking the start of New Year's Eve and the lifting of the embargo on the New Years Honours list - although both the Daily Mirror and the Evening Standard seemed to be happy to jump the official publication of the gongs today. Clearly times are so hard at the Trinity Mirror group the closest they can offer to groundbreaking journalism these days is that Bruce Forsyth has been given a CBE - a "scoop" they get by reading a list of names they've been sent.
Amongst the other names listing people who'll be sidling up to the Queen (if they're lucky) or making do with one of the Princes are Tom Jones, who gets a knighthood.
Roger Daltrey has been given a CBE; Pete Waterman - who is listed as a "Doctor" has picked up an OBE for services to, we don't know, late-night television or something. Irritatingly, the official Number 10 briefing for these handouts don't describe them as being part of the entertainment industry, but instead of as "the cultural economy." Johnny Dankworth also gets a knighthood, to add to his status as being the first musician to have his work aired on Radio One.
Hilariously, Vivienne Westwood has been made a Dame (not that that will stop her pretending to be such a challenge to polite society) and, more fittingly, Jonathan Ive, designer of much of Apple's recent product line has been given what we fully expect headline writers everywhere to describe as the iOBE.
Friday, December 30, 2005
Anastacia has always had a bit of an odd relationship with her glasses: she never seemed entirely sure if she should embrace them as a trademark, wave them as if they were some form special equipment or pretend they weren't there at all.
She told Pause and Play, for example:
"I wear glasses because I need them; I don't wear them to be the fashion victim," she said. "I have to have them because I have a stigma in one eye and I'm blind in another. But I make it fun, I make it acceptable to fit in society; I've always worn crazy, goofy glasses, it's just what I do. This is who I am. Love me or leave me."
Yes, pause just a moment and think about that: Anastacia makes "wearing glasses fun" and "acceptable to fit in society." Before Anastacia, of course, nobody would wear spectacles in public - leastways, not without a sense of shame; after her, why, even the woman at the bakers came out as slightly shortsighted, parading her glasses on a chain round her neck, of all things.
But now, Anastacia has had an operation on her eyes to improve her eyesight (we don't know quite how one improves an actual blind eye). It hasn't sorted out her confusion, though:
"I wanted people to see my eyes and also wanted to wear make-up, so I had surgery."
But the US star, who beat breast cancer in 2003, will not ditch her trademark eyewear.
She told Now magazine: "I wear glasses because there are some wild styles around now."
You had surgery to be able to wear make-up... and you want to let people see your eyes... but you're going to wear glasses because they are "wild"... and... but... and...
As we vaguely promised in an airy way before we disappeared off for Christmas, we've topped up the collection of other people's picks of the years; doubtless, we shall do so again.
It's that time of the year, when you catch up with old friends and make prank calls to Mel C yelling "just sign the papers, you cow, Take That did it wivout Robbie you know."
We did consider running a caption competition to solicit suggestions as to exactly what was going on in Victoria Beckham's head to lead her to make that face, but we don't want to know. We really don't.
The RIAA's determined push to punish all Americans, young and old, dead and alive, has managed to build up a tidy sum of payments (although nothing even starting to cover the cost of the operation), mainly because their targets have been too scared to challenge their claims in court.
The music industry has slipped up and issued a threat against someone who knows his way round the court system - and John Doe Number 8 is fighting back. Number 8 has challenged the terms of the actions against him in ways which, if succesful in court, could bring the process of legal action grinding to a halt. He claims - amongst other factors - that his ISP should never have given up his identity to the music industry body, as they failed to provide any evidence that it had a case against him; that the MediaSentry investigation which turned up his name in the first place was flawed; that the RIAA hadn't provided any solid evidence of copyright infringement in its communications with him, and, crucially, that the RIAA's habit of bundling together large numbers of cases was itself unlawful, as there was no connection between the various John Does.
This last one is perhaps key - the RIAA has been behaving like it's bringing a class action in reverse. But while there is sense in, say, 200 people who have been hurt by one corporation banding together to bring an action, there's no logical or (apparently) legal basis for a single corportation to bundle up 200 different arguments into one.
If he's successful in all his claims, the RIAA have got a serious problem if they really wish to continue with using the courts to punitively punish random file sharers. Having to file each case separately will slow down an already crawling and expensive process; being asked to prepare a case demonstrating the copyright infringements to a higher standard of proof before the ISPs can give up details of RIAA targets would further frustrate the process. A sensible organisation would probably call a halt to this actions if that happened; but then a sensible organisation wouldn't have started out suing its customers in the first place.
Having seen the 2005 event push the cumulative bill for local council tax payers over the million pound mark, Liverpool City Council is getting to grips with the Summer Pops by, erm, suggesting that the 2007 event should perhaps be put out to tender. They're still going to ahead with the organisation which ran it last year at a spectacular £350,000 loss - "because of time constraints" making it difficult to change the organiser. The really good news for the people of the city is that the council has agreed to underwrite up to half a million quid's worth of losses this year. Hmm... telling a company "You're being thrown off the job the next year, but if you run up hundreds of thousands of losses this year, don't worry, we'll cover you..." - what could possibly go wrong there?
Talk of Liverpool City Council stirs memories - we're still waiting to hear from Flo Clucas about the mystery of Ringo Starr's house. We've sent her a little greeting just to make sure she's not forgotten us:
Please accept the best wishes from No Rock & Roll Fun for the New Year. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Did you, perhaps, have a spare minute over Christmas to draft a reply to our questions for you? We have been waiting quite a long time for even a basic acknowledgement.
We're sure she's just been waiting for a moment to explain how a report was commissioned recommending the bulldozing of Ringo's house, and then a day or two after she announced her acceptance of that report she suddenly decided to dismantle the house brick-by-brick; and what exactly is going to happen to those bricks.
Wasn't Lisa Scott-Lee supposed to have been giving up on all hopes and plans of a pop music career? Obviously, trying to be the UK representative at this year's Eurovision is barely a step away from languishing in obscurity, but it still feels a little like cheating on the part of the ex-Steps pony.
Meanwhile, her former nemesis, Jo O'Meara out of S Club 7 isn't having a much better time of it - not only did she find herself playing a gig in a Pizza Express (lovely dough balls they do there), but nobody knew who she was and she was reduced to doing a couple of S Club tracks to get any sort of reaction.
More from No Rock on eurovision
Okay, she might have fallen for Gillian McKeith's play-doctor routine and all, but we think there's something sweet about Michelle McManus setting her cap at Ricky Wilson - what with the way she's lost so much weight and the way he's putting it on, they're going to wind meeting in the middle:
"I saw Kaiser Chiefs, got pissed and stalked Ricky Wilson because I fancy him."
Our invite seems to have gone astray in the post - but we know how it is over Christmas, things can spend forever sitting in the sorting office, so it's surely only a matter of time. Eminem has set January 14th for his reunion with Kim. Shortly after the couple remarry, they will rehoneymoon; following that, he'll relock her in the boot before redriving off a bridge, as is the tradition.
The invite reads, in part:
"This day I will marry my best friend, the one I laugh with, live for, love."
There's no indication of if he intends to marry Dre at the same time as Kim, or if that will be a separate ceremony.
Well, we always knew that Elton John was a musician, and it's mildly amusing that it turns out he chose the middle name of Hercules (with his hair problems, we'd have thought Samson would have been the more apt mythological reference point), but the most fascinating thing about Elton and David's wedding certificate is that it finally reveals what David Furnish is actually for - he's a "film-maker", apparently. And you thought his only role in public life was a Elton's husband.
IMDB lists two films we've never heard of from 1999, and two in production - one due next year, one in 2008. He's not exactly prolific, is he? Amazon has no record of Desert Flower, but does have copies of one, Women Talking Dirty, for sale:
Heartbreaking tales from Christmas Day in Keeaumoku, Hawaii: a young boy opens his iPod gift only to discover the box has no Apple inside; just an unidentified meat. The discovery that they'd have to wait until the next day to return the product and get the one they had paid for is perhaps a little overplayed by the mother, Rachel Cambra:
"He went from joy, really happy joyful, then to discover this just angry and hurt," says Cambra. "I'm devastated."
It's unclear if the unidentified meat carried a Microsoft Plays For Sure sticker.
[Thanks to Karl T for the link]
Thursday, December 29, 2005
With the Fixx about to release a "greatest hits" collection next month, there's a challenge for journalists asked to knock together a story to go with the announcement. All we really remember about them is they made an appearance in a short-lived kid's puzzle magazine edited by Gyles Brandereth - there was a photo of them at one end of one of those mazes you sometimes get filling space, and you had to find the route to whatever they would have been hoping to get together with. The page was headlined "The Fixx Get In A Fix"; we never did the maze puzzle. But despite such a lack of highspots, the Associated Press have made a game job of trying to pull something out the hat, and we bring you it in its entirety:
One of the iconic images of the 1980s is Cy Curnin's jacket opening and closing in The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" video.
He blames that on a lack of space. He says he was in a tunnel in a church hall and he had no space to move his arms, so he just moved his shoulders.
That's what made the jacket open and close. He says the video was supposed to portray "the linear motion of life." He says he doesn't have that suit any more, although he has one like it in a different material. The Fixx will release a two-C-D collection of their hits on January 24th.
Yes, that's "pop star has similar jacket to one he wore in a largely forgotten pop video". More details at 11.
The death of James Hall has been announced. The 57 year-old pianist had worked with Elton John and Kiki Dee in the 1960s and 1970s - John is believed to have described him as "the best pianist he'd ever worked with."
Hall was killed by raiders at a bar he was builidng in Sai Khao, Thailand on Christmas Eve. He'd only moved to the beach resort a few weeks before; Thai police report three men who had previously worked as labourers for him have been arrested in connection with the death.
No, no, not in any filthy way. He just really likes saveloys from his home town of Sunderland. According to the local paper, anyway:
Generations of Wearsiders have been brought up on the savoury treat ? and despite being the singer of one of Britain's most successful bands, Alex still harks back to his favourite fare.
Alex's favourite is the famous saveloy dip with "everything on" ? strong mustard, pease pudding, sage and onion stuffing and then the smoked saveloy the end of the sandwich being dipped into the rich saveloy stock.
"It's immediate and reassuring, rich and revitalising. I like fast food this way."
As far as we can tell, Robbie Williams hasn't made the journey to a German court requested by Conny C. C was called a stalker by Williams last month, who got a restraining order against her. As a result of the publicity, C lost her job and is now attempting to sue Williams for damages.
Conny had sent Williams emails and faxes warning him he would be abducted by aliens if he appeared on German TV, which led Williams to think she was a deluded fan. If you ask us, she was actually a music lover with a cunning plan. We intend to start bombarding Williams with letters warning him if anyone ever plays Angels again on the radio, he might find himself caught in a giant, genetically-modified venus fly trap. It might just work.
In a move which might make public service broadcasters around the world a little nervous, a group of listeners to Detroit's WDET FM are taking the station to court demanding it either restores local, eclectic music programming or returns the money they donated to keep the station afloat:
"This is a public radio station, and their decision just completely disregarded the public and the community that is loyal to the station and financially supports it," said Kevin Ernst, the lawyer representing a group of listeners. "People contributed for those local programs, not national programs."
Louis Lessem, vice president and general counsel at Wayne State University, which owns WDET, said he has "no interest in litigating this in the press. ... We're sorry the plaintiffs choose to do that."
"We understand the disappointment of the listenership, but we do not believe it [the lawsuit] has any merit and we will fully litigate it," Lessem said.
The station's general manager has issued an open letter telling the listeners that, although they might not like the all-talk national service, it's much better for them than the music programming they paid for:
"Regardless of how you feel, know that these decisions were painstakingly difficult," Coleman said. "The rationale for the changes were very straightforward--to save and strengthen this important public radio service."
But, of course, if you "save" a service simply by throwing away everything that people value about it, you might wonder what the point is.
The first signs of trouble at WDET came with the sudden departure of Martin Bandyke, the afternoon show host who had been with the station for over twenty years.
It's hard to imagine why Sean Lennon is single, isn't it? Obviously, there is the horror any likely squeeze would have to face of going home to meet his mother, but other than that... well, it's not like he's asking for very much, is it?:
"Any girl who is interested must simply be born female and between the ages of 18 and 45. They must have an IQ above 130 and they must be honest. They must not have any clinical, psychological disorders ... and a kind heart. Clearly beautiful - beauty on the inside is more important - but no deformities, third legs, fifth nipples. I'm completely alone and I'm miserable."
We do love the "beauty on the inside is what's important, but you musn't, you know, be anything other than completely clearly beautiful" disclaimer.
The trouble Sean's facing is that he wants a woman with an above-average IQ, and yet any woman that smart would read his list of demands - "don't even bother getting in touch if there's anything even slightly physically or mentally non-standard about you" - and sense that he's only interested in what they can do for him. And not call.
Noel Gallagher, a man of the world, has looked around and decided that he doesn't like British people who go abroad:
"OK, the British like to travel, but they don't have to carry a Union Jack with them. I'm embarrassed when I see Brits in Australia, they act so... English. They have their tops off, wear flip-flops and shout at the tops of their voices."
Yeah, they go to bars, drink too much, get into fights and... hang about, isn't that what the Gallaghers tend to do? (Munich and Barcelona spring to mind, for example).
And as for moaning about British people carrying the Union Jack with them... on the left, if we're not mistaken, is the limited edition Noel Gallagher Official Guitar based on the one painted by Noel a few years back. What would that design be again?
After having had a go at people for behaving like Oasis, Noel then complains about Liam wearing shorts ons... hang on...
Last time the record labels were investigated in the US for illegally fixing prices artificially high, they were found guilty and came to a deal to get out of trouble; the deal involved paying back some of the cash but was mainly designed around the labels donating music to public libraries. Trouble is, the labels took the opportunity to dump unsaleable product on the public sector - presumably they took the view that all they had to do was keep to the letter, if not the spirit, as it was unlikely they'd ever find themselves in the same position.
Their decision to have played the scofflaw that time, though, might be about to bounce back on them: Elliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General, has launched an investigation into the wholesale prices major labels charge when they sell to download services such as iTunes.
Spitzer stresses that he is only doing preliminary investigations at the moment, but he was responsible this year for unearthing the label's involvement in a criminal payola scheme so his decision to root about in this field will be causing alarm at many label offices over the New Year. It comes at a time when Warners head Edgar Bronfman has been leading a charge to try and force iTunes to abandon its one-price-fits-all structure. There's a battle developing between the labels and Apple over the issue, but it seems that the only way the record industry could force Steve Jobs and Apple to abandon the 99cent model would be by acting in concert - not, presumably, something they'd want to be seen to be doing while being investigated to see if they force prices in the market by acting in concert.
Two guys who were apparently trying to flog J-Lo's wedding video back to her current husband Marc Anthony have been arrested in a sting operation. The splendidly named Tito Moses and the slightly less impressively named Steven Wortman had been trying to get a million dollars from Anthony for the return of the tape. A New York cop, who obviously has been through soundbite training, observed:
?They thought it was pay day ? instead they got the surprise of their lives.?
Perhaps what might disturb Jennifer Lopez most about this entire affair is that they were only trying to sell the tape back to her because nobody else had been in the least bit bothered about buying it. When not even a local UPN affiliate can be arsed to invade your privacy, you might be in a bit of career trouble.
We can't even bring ourselves to name the telephone company we've barely heard of who has decided to carry out a poll to find - of course - the greatest phone-related song of all time. We don't know how much these things cost, but clearly it's regarded as cheap publicity. In case you care:
1. Hanging On The Telephone - Blondie
2. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
3. Call Me - Blondie
4. Call On Me - Eric Prydz
5. Ring Ring - Abba
Eh? No Rah Band? No Hello, This Is Joanie? None of ELO's telephonic songs? And surely Call On Me isn't about telephoning?
More from No Rock on blondie
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Eleanor G writes to us with a spotting of our favourite HMV spokesperson in a new setting - perhaps buoyed up by the start of a new year, Gennaro Castaldo has brought his talent for adding very little beyond getting his employer's name in a news story to the field of classical music. Responding to Radio 3's decision to not run a back-to-back Mozart session like this year's Beethoven and Bach splurges, Gennaro fretted:
Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, said: "You're not going to have the 250th anniversary of Mozart every year. If you can't do it then, when can you do it?"
That was in the Telegraph. But he was also quoted at more length in The Independent:
Gennaro Castaldo, head of press at HMV, said that playing the complete works of Mozart would seem "a more natural fit, because there's been more raised awareness among the public of Mozart and his work that the BBC could have optimised".
What does that even mean? That more people have heard of Mozart than Bach or Beethoven? On the basis that there was a movie about Mozart 21 years ago? And how does one set about optimising a raised awareness?
Luckily, Gennaro was able to get back onto safer ground when the Mirror wanted a quote about Shayne Ward getting to number one on Christmas Day:
Gennaro Castaldo, of HMW, said: "That's My Goal is the fastestselling Christmas number one in recorded chart history. It has flown off the shelves this week."
Depressingly, by the way, Shayne now has the third best selling UK single of all time, bested only by Elton John's song about that posh woman who died when her car crashed and Will Young's debut single.
Indeed, it was Will who Castaldo thought of when the Daily Mail called for a quote:
Gennaro Castaldo of the music chain HMV said: "Shayne's sales figures are incredible. We haven't seen anything like this since Will Young.
"It seems that reality shows can generate sales that traditional artists can only dream about, because the fans are motivated by the fact they rang and voted for their favourite and feel a sense of ownership towards them."
Although, like kids with Christmas puppies, they forget about them a few days later and abandon them on the side of road.
As a multi-millionaire businessman, it's only ever been a matter of time before Bob Geldof completed his drift rightwards and started to work for the Tory party.
Geldof - at least since making his first pile of cash - has always had a conservative streak (you'll recall, of course, his outrage that teenage girls magazines talked to teenage girls in a language teenage girls would respond to, for instance) but it's surprising to see that a man who claimed he wasn't getting too close to party leaders has made such a blatantly party-political move.
Of course, you could accept his argumen at face value when he maintains that "I don't care who I have to go to to try to make this agenda work", but this isn't simply about sitting down and making suggestions. He's joined a policy group determining policy for a political party, and been at least complicit in allowing his joining to be press-released at a time when it would receive a disproprtionate amount of coverage and play into the portrayal of David Cameron as the coming man of British politics.
Jim McCabe sent us this take:
Simon, spin doctors on both sides will, doubtless, make much of Geldof's "non-partisan" status. The Tories will revel in securing an "endorsement" of Cameron's new reign, while Geldof's office will be savvy enough to know that this alignment risks alienating the Guardian/Independent element of the Live8 support, so will stress Geldof's "individuality".
Of course, it would never have happened under Thatcher, a woman who would have been much happier with Geldof outside the tent pissing in. Now, though, he's going to be in the mess hall, tucking in. We're waiting to hear how Cameron intends to increase aid levels to a point which can make a difference while cutting domestic taxes, and exactly what the party of choice of the CBI will be prepared to give up in terms of foreign trade to help others. Without wanting to sound too cynical, we suspect that Cameron's entire developing world policy might have been 1. Sign up Geldof; 2. Parade Geldof; 3. Erm, that's it.
We'd imagine that the motivation for paying the families of the children he's accused of shagging a couple of thousand dollars was less about clearing his name and more about getting them to have the charges that could have got him killed dropped, but it does look a little like what we'd think of as conspiring to pervert the course of justice. It's depressingly reinforcing the message that rich Westerners are able to do what they want to the world's poorer people, providing they leave behind a cheque.
Glitter's lawyer Le Thanh Kinh basically admits he's buying his client's way out of trouble:
"If we pay the money for the two families, when this case goes to court, maybe Mr Gary will receive a lighter penalty," his lawyer told the AP news agency.
"After receiving the money, they informed the investigation bureau that they don't want to go to court and they want to drop the case."
Glitter denies all the allegations that he molested the girls.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Having started the week admitting she was deaf, Foxy Brown attempted to get herself slung in jail, too. As her (new) lawyers attempted to get her assault charge marked down to a disorderly conduct rap, Brown decided to stick her tongue out at the judge instead:
each time Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Melissa Jackson called Brown's case on Friday, the rap artist balked at going through with the proceedings. As Brown faced the judge for a third time and declined to respond to questions, Jackson lost her patience.
"This is the third time you are before me performing today, and you are making faces and sticking out your tongue," Jackson told her, adding, "Are you chewing gum?"
With that, Brown stuck her tongue way out of her mouth as if being examined by a doctor.
"You stuck your tongue out at me. You are showing disrespect for the court," the judge snapped. She then ordered Brown handcuffed to her seat in the well of the courtroom until she apologized.
Shamefully, her lawyers then attempted to claim that she'd stuck her tongue because she was deaf:
"She (Brown) cannot hear. She's deaf. She opened her mouth, your honor, only to show you she wasn't chewing gum," Fleming told Jackson.
After Jackson threatened to slap Brown with a contempt-of-court citation, along with 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, the rapper finally relented.
Brown will be back before the judge on January 23rd. If the bench accepts the deal, Brown could get off with ten days community service.
Let's just leave aside for the moment that Wafah Dufour has taken to posing in a bath for GQ, and focus on the slightly more curious aspect of her interview for the magazine. Six months ago, she was banging on about how she didn't want to be connected to her uncle any more - that's twinkly old Uncy Osama Bin Laden - and how she was changing her name to break all the links with negative publicity that it brought. (And, to the best of our knowledge, this was the second time she'd made a similar fuss.)
Now, half a year on, and she's giving another interview about how she's not really in any way connected to him. For someone keen to play down the links, she's quite talkative about them - it's probably lucky she's not on witness protection; she'd have her name changed, a new life, a new town - and a blue plaque outside the house saying "Bin Laden's Neice Lives Here":
"Everyone relates me to that man, and I have nothing to do with him," Wafah Dufour, the daughter of bin Laden's half brother, Yeslam Binladin, says in the January edition of the magazine, referring to the al-Qaida leader.
"I want to be accepted here, but I feel that everybody's judging me and rejecting me," said the California-born Dufour, a law graduate who lives in New York. "Come on, where's the American spirit? Accept me. I want to be embraced, because my values are like yours. And I'm here. I'm not hiding."
You see? Her records aren't selling because people see the name and do some research and find out who her uncle is and think that if they play her CD then the terrorists will have won.
It doesn't seem to have occured to Wafah that there might be another, slightly less convoluted reason for her failing to unseat Mariah Carey at the top of the charts. Perhaps her records are so bad, nobody wants to buy them in their own right?
Mind you, the US Army might be interested - imagine the irony if they used Osama's neice instead of Eminem as part of the torture process for Al-Qaeda "suspects"...
Pete Doherty has done his second Newsnight interview of the year, and he now thinks he might have been a little bit hasty in quitting rehab in Arizona:
"Maybe it was a bit of a rash decision," he told Newsnight's Kirsty Wark. "But I missed London, I wanted to play my guitar and I wanted my books."
And you know what? It's all the paper's fault, boo-hoo-hoo:
But he insisted the truth was far less sensational, saying the real Pete Doherty and the one depicted in the media were "like two different people".
"The one thing that the tabloids have been consistent with is they haven't shown the slightest bit of interest in the music," he said.
In the interview, to be broadcast on Newsnight on Friday, he likens himself to late footballer George Best - a victim of what he calls "dead monkey brain tabloid fever" whose achievements were "swamped" by his later hellraising exploits.
"For me it's going to be the other way round," he said.
Which is, of course, exactly what Best thought it would be like - in his famous phrase, it was going to be the football that people remembered. But before we get too carried away, it's worth remembering that George Best wasn't killed by tabloid attention, but by drinking way too much, too often, for too long. And while Pete might wish the tabloids wrote about his music, perhaps if he didn't keep giving them interviews about how he loves Kate Moss, or has been going to have secret meetings in Paris with Kate, or showing off his implants, perhaps they wouldn't write about your drugs and lovelife.
As Spike once observed "there's always consequences" - funnily enough, he was talking about resurrections, as well. The small pile of credit card slips that have piled up as a result of the Take That reunion has generated a certain amount of chin-scratching amongst Bands That Were A Bit Similar But Not As Good, who also want some of that reunion action.
We guess the East 17 comeback was inevitable, but even Toby Mortimer (Tony? Trevor?) knows that they wouldn't be able to fill a paddling pool alone. So it is next year we'll have a joint tour featuring All Saints and East 17.
An "insider" sings:
?Tony has been stubborn about a comeback in the past and Shaznay was left with a very bitter taste in her mouth after an acrimonious split from All Saints.
?But time is a great healer and they have all matured, started families and grown up since they were first in the limelight.
?They have all agreed that the time is right to cash in after watching Take That storm the album charts and sell out their stadium tour.?
Well, at least they're being honest that it's for the money and not some attempt to take the artistic statement further forward.
The edge is going to be taken off Christmas at Mike Peter's house this year, as the Alarm bloke has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. His first brush came a decade ago; now he's been found to have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.
Peters is remaining positive, though:
"The good news is that although my illness is not curable, it is treatable... it is a disease I will probably die with, rather than of," he said.
"Obviously, this has come as a massive shock to me and my family, especially as it is almost 10 years to the day that I was originally diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma.
"Ten years ago, it seems that my own immune system suppressed the cancer and I was able to go into remission for 10 years."
Peters intends to play next month's Gathering festival in Rhyl, despite doctors begging him not to. It's not because it'd affect his recovery, it's just they've heard the Alarm and wanted to spare the audience.
Howie Day - who's one of those people you vaguely know are pop stars, but can't quite put your finger on what he might have done to get that status - has got in trouble again. The charmer - who once locked a woman in the tourbus toilet because she didn't want to have to sex with him - has been charged following rowdy behaviour on a flight to Boston.
His lawyer attempts to explain it all:
Day, who is from Brewer, Maine, was returning home for the holidays and took a pill to help him sleep on the flight from Dallas, said his lawyer, Paul Kelley.
"He had a couple of drinks. The pill interacted with the drinks and he became intoxicated. He feels badly if he inconvenienced anyone, or caused any discomfort," Kelley told reporters outside court. "He has and will apologize, and our hope is that we'll be able to resolve this thing as promptly as possible."
The curious thing, though, is if Day feels he has something to apologise for and feels so badly, how come he entered a not guilty plea?
Day's back in court in March, and could be sentenced to up to six months if the court decides he interfered with flight crew.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thanks to Karl T for sending us the following transcript of George Bush talking with Brit Hume about what's on his iPod playlist:
Bush : Beach Boys, Beatles, let's see, Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson, Alejandro, Alison Krauss, the Angels, the Archies, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Dan McLean. Remember him?
Hume: Don McLean.
Bush: I mean, Don McLean.
Hume: Does "American Pie," right?
Bush: Great song.
Hume: Yes, yes, great song.
Unidentified male: . . . which ones do you play?
Bush: All of these. I put it on shuffle. Dwight Yoakam. I've got the Shuffle, the, what is it called? The little.
Bush: It looks like.
Hume: The Shuffle. That is the name of one of the models.
Bush: Yes, the Shuffle.
Hume: Called the Shuffle.
Bush: Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the Shuffle.
Hume: So you -- it plays . . .
Bush: Put it in my pocket, got the ear things on.
Hume: So it plays them in a random order.
Hume: So you don't know what you're going to going to get.
Hume: But you know --
Bush: And if you don't like it, you have got your little advance button. It's pretty high-tech stuff.
Hume: . . . be good to have one of those at home, wouldn't it?
Hume: Yes, hit the button and whatever it is that's in your head -- gone.
Bush: . . . it's a bad day, just say, get out of here.
Hume: Well, that probably is pretty . . .
Bush: That works, too. ( Laughter )
Hume: Yes, right.
Most Presidents, you might think the weight of their office would be so great that it would take more than The Archies doing Sugar, Sugar to wipe it out their minds, but we've no doubt that putting on the iPod does isolate Bush totally from the business of government. After all, if he's got Dan McClean in his ears, he won't be able to hear Karl telling him what to do.
It's been over a decade since we last heard anything from the Revolting Cocks, while Al Jourgensen worked on Ministry stuff. But guess what?
They're back. Oh, you guessed. Al promises the new album, Cocked and Loaded is everything you'd expect:
"It's pretty prurient and juvenile and everything else that Revolting Cocks are known for," Jourgensen says of the new songs, with titles such as "Jack in the Crack" and "Viagra Culture." "It's basically middle-aged men regaining their lost, juvenile delinquency years and being absolutely sophomoric. It's great."
Meanwhile, Ministry have a new album lined up for the following month, which is a little more serious:
"We kind of have this administration that's just a little bit arrogant and very transparent, as far as their agenda," says Jourgensen. "This little war going on overseas, the little Iraq thing, that's kind of got my goat, too. The arrogance of the right has just got me. All these wimpy liberals -- good for Howard Dean, screaming into a mike, showing them the left isn't all about granola and alfalfa sprouts!"
What do you actually need Marilyn Manson for?
More from No Rock on marilyn manson
It's not going to be a cosy Christmas for record and movie executives - a bid to get French law reshaped to their desires has been rebuffed with a last-minute ammendment. The government had been pushing through legislation that would have introduced fines for people putting copy-protected material onto peer to peer networks of about a third of a million Euros. Oh, and three years in prison.
The French lower house, though, passed an ammendment which would allow anyone to fill their boots on filesharing networks in return for a seven Euro royalty.
Naturally, the industry is having kittens - cute, Christmas kittens - but kittens nevertheless:
"To legalize the downloading of our music, almost free of charge, is to kill our work," venerable rocker Johnny Hallyday said in a statement.
The actors' and musicians' branch of France's largest trade union, the CFDT, said the plan "would mean the death of our country's music and audiovisual industries."
The proposed royalties duty amounts to a "Sovietization" of the arts, said Bernard Miyet, president of the French music composers' and publishers' organization SACEM.
"You're talking about an administered price, set by a commission without regard to the music and film economy," Miyet said.
Hmm. They might have a point. But let's not forget this ammendment was proposed in response to a call for a punishment which had been set without regard to any actual damage that might have been done to the copyright holder. If the industry can pluck a "three year and third of a million" fine out the air, why shouldn't the people pluck a price out the same air in response? And perhaps the government is smart enough to know that if you set the price too high, people will just not bother paying.
There's also some moaning that this might contravene international law - although since the music industry has happily pocketed cash raised from levies in return for allowing people to use, say, blank tapes in some countries, there would appear to be a precedent that they've embraced before now.
The lower house returns to vote again on January 17th, and then it'll only take one more vote in Senate to make it law. (Ironically, the copyright industry's pressing for swift action had led the government to introduce a short-circuited lawmaking route for this one).
More from No Rock on johnny cash
With Courtney Love recalculating figures on an almost daily basis, she's had another nasty problem to deal with just before Christmas: one of her properties has been foreclosed on: a historic house in Olympia. Of course, its worse news for Kurt Cobain's sister Kim, as she's been living there. Apparently, Love hasn't kept the mortgage up since December 2003; now, the property will go to auction on January 6th unless she settles the USD367,000 outstanding by then.
As we reach Christmas weekend, it's like No Rock's year review supplement:
2005, in review:
Review of the year
Other people's 2005 picks
Music of the year
The year in death
2005 Posts, week-by-week:
02 January 2005
09 January 2005
16 January 2005
23 January 2005
30 January 2005
06 February 2005
13 February 2005
20 February 2005
27 February 2005
06 March 2005
13 March 2005
20 March 2005
27 March 2005
03 April 2005
10 April 2005
17 April 2005
24 April 2005
01 May 2005
08 May 2005
15 May 2005
22 May 2005
29 May 2005
05 June 2005
12 June 2005
19 June 2005
26 June 2005
03 July 2005
10 July 2005
17 July 2005
24 July 2005
31 July 2005
07 August 2005
14 August 2005
21 August 2005
28 August 2005
04 September 2005
11 September 2005
18 September 2005
25 September 2005
02 October 2005
09 October 2005
16 October 2005
23 October 2005
30 October 2005
06 November 2005
13 November 2005
20 November 2005
27 November 2005
04 December 2005
11 December 2005
18 December 2005
25 December 2005
2005's big events:
The Musical response to Hurricane Katrina
The UK General Election
Top 100 of all time
John Peel Day
Eurovision 50th Anniversary
Michael Jackson's trial
T in the Park
Live 8 - all the way through
2005's award ceremonies:
Rough Trade 100
UK Bloggers 40
It's with a sense of surprise that we find ourselves at the end of 2005, as it never really felt much like the year got going - I suppose that the effect of the tsunami made the changing of the year seem less vibrant and important; there wasn't even that usual couple of minutes of blind optimism as we just bobbed into the year a little shocked and numb and, frankly, that's been the way much of the year has been - July 7th bombs, Katrina, oil depots blotting out the sun with their fire. Were we religious, we'd be flciking through the last bit of the Bible and using it the way we used to use those I Spy books on holidays when we were younger. ("All I need to tick off is the final horseman, and I can send my book to Big Chief I-Spy for a certificate.")
Luckily, as ever, there's been wonderful music and insanely stupid musicians and record company executives to offer us something other to do besides constantly taking the temperature of the lake across the road to see how long we have before global warming wipes us all out.
Apparently, the most important thing that happened in music this year was Live 8, a large event held in London this summer in order to provide material for a DVD to be sold into the Christmas market. We haven't quite managed to convince ourselves that Bono was asked by his big mate George Bush to arrange the whole thing to provide an instantly-grounded lightning rod to soak up the energy of the Make Poverty History campaign and ensure nothing serious happened, but we've not yet seen any compelling reason to believe that he wasn't.
There was a general election here in the UK, which saw the old, tired order who supported the Iraq war swept away and replaced by a young, charismatic leader who, erm, also supported the war on Iraq. Sadly, this only happened within the Tory party; despite the best efforts of Billy Bragg and, erm, Tom from Rage Against The Machine, nothing much else changed at Westminster.
Having slightly more of an effective response politically was Kanye West, whose "I can't believe I'm saying this" moment during a Katrina telethon sparked a debate about race that America had been trying to avoid for much of the last ten years. In the interests of balance, we should point out that George W Bush's mum denied that he didn't like black people.
Talking of Katrina, as soon as New Orleans was washed away, Michael Jackson sprang into action, promising to pull together the top stars in the world to raise money to help. And we look forward to the single from that sometime in 2008, once he's finally got the 9/11 one out the way. Jackson, of course, was acquitted of touching children, although the sweetness of the moment was rather ruined by some jurors saying "actually, we think he probably does touch kids, just not those kids at that point."
Further pyrrhic victory came for Robbie Williams, who despite camping it like he wanted to understudy John Humphries when it suits him, apparently found being thought slightly gay to be such a distressing slur that he had lawyers deny it in court (or rather, deny that he'd lied about sleeping with women.) Williams has spent much of the year strenuously trying to prove just how attracted to women he is; we're expecting him to grow a beard sometime in 2006.
Elton John, of course, got married, much to everyone's surprise a few years back. To a woman, although even her name (Renate Blauel) sounded like something that hadn't been fully-thought through at the time. This year, his wedding to David Furnish is lower key, but much more believable.
Despite having made a very noisy retirement from public life in February, George Michael has been busily running round telling everyone he's going to catch the bouquet, so to speak, at Elton's wedding and be the second famous gay wedding in the UK. Unless Sandy Toksvig gets there first. (and that there's never going to be Wham reunion, either).
Less happy marriage stories in the US - less than five months after their first joint interview (on Ellen) and almost as soon as baby Preston North End had been born, Britney Spears and Kevin have been having contractual difficulties. It looks like they might spend Christmas together, but it's not clear anyone can explain why.
Keeping to her pattern of doing everything Britney does, just twelve months later, Christina Aguilera will be setting up the marriage breakdown for Fall 2006. At the moment, she'll still be ruing having cut a deal to flog the pictures from her wedding to Ben Elton for "only" a third of a million.
The real heart-flipping love story of the year, though wasn't any of these, nor even The Subways' Mary and Billy getting engaged on stage. No, the love story of the year was centred, of course, on Pete Doherty. It looked for a moment that it was all over, and he was going to turn the back on the one he loved the most. But, no, as soon as Kate Moss told him to choose between the drugs and her, he went straight back to the drucks. "You've always been there for me, and you understand..." he sobbed, taking them back in his arms. Or anywhere he could find a vein.
A year on from John Peel's death, and it was hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about him (apart from Julie Burchill, of course, so no change there.) Indeed, it turned out that the whole world used to listen to every programme, to judge by the John Peel Day commeration. But then, since it turns out that Peel music was mostly middle-market, Times2 type stuff, maybe that's no surprise. We wonder what happened to that bloke with the same name who used to play stuff we'd never heard the like of before?
Madonna's comeback is another thing where we're not sure we're hearing what everyone else is. People insist that Confessions on a Dancefloor is return to form, but no matter how we strain our ears, we can only hear the album that Paris Hilton wants to make. It's been a busy year for Madonna - indeed, she's been too busy to find time to make any comment about Eliyahu Yardeni from her beloved Kabbalah Center suggesting jews who died in the holocaust bought it on themselves by not being Kabbalic. Having sustained a career on the back people getting tossed off, she really reinvigorated it by getting tossed off the back of a horse. Still, it gave her the chance to appear on US Network TV riding on the back of one. Not that she would have let the kids watch, of course - as this year, we discovered that Madonna firmly believes TV is for selling things on, not watching.
Also garnering a surprising amount of goodwill was the Oasis album, presumably because this one must have been better than the one they had to scrap because it was so rubbish. As part of an otherwise disappointing BBC FOUR Britpop night, John Harris suggested that Oasis main contribution to the music orld had been the invention of the Athlete and Coldplay style empty drone; Coldplay had a new record out, too, come to think of it but not even Chris Martin's claims that it was inspired by porn could raise any real passion about it.
Much more welcome return was in the form of Kate Bush, who, once she'd got the "look, I'm not living like some bloody hermit, okay" bit out her system picked up where she'd left off.
Limp Bizkit had a comeback, too, albeit in the unwelcome form of the death of a fan while Fred Durst got the crowd to hurl abuse at security guards returning to haunt them. Meanwhile, Fred Durst's attempts to get some flashmobby internet-action with the "secret" album fell a bit flat when the secret remained really well-kept.
Doing more business through the interweb were the Arctic Monkeys, who briefly made MySpace cool when they used it to surf to number one and the (albeit downgraded) Top of the Pops; sadly, by then, Rupert Murdoch had already bought MySpace and was working on turning it into a safe area for respectable businessmen to take money from kids.
Of course, the music industry is Murdoch's type of place, being run mainly by men who don't care for music and who are convinced of one thing - that they're right. For example, in February, Sony BMG announced plans to enhance the consumer experience with extra copy protection on its CDs; by the end of the year, after even Microsoft had said their software was pretty evil, Sony was finding itself with a PR and financial disaster. It withdrew five million CDs, but left another five million with a different sort of evil software on the shelves, with a shrug. Meanwhile, even as it settled its case with Rosa Parks over misappropriation of her image it refused to admit any wrongdoing, even though its refusal to settle any earlier had meant the last year of her life saw her medical records being thrown open to the public view and the dignity stripped from a dying woman.
Meanwhile, all the labels were getting caught breaking US law by paying to have their records played on the radio; and yet these paragons of virtue continued to sue people they believed were sharing music: having had a pop at the preteens in previous years, in 2005 they surpassed themselves by suing a dead woman. Now, they're lobbying the EU for the rights to see records of all EU citizen's phone and web communications. For the good of the artists, don't you know?
Boy George got back to doing what we know him for - being arrested over some confusing drug allegations; even his "I thought my rent boy was robbing me and called the police..." tale didn't come close to the tragicomedy of Mindy McCready's life; and even she may have done some fucked-up things, but didn't - unlike Courtney Love - get so out of it she'd shag Steve Coogan.
The Pixies followed their 2004 reunion by announcing they were sticking around; The Darkness got more press for dropping their bassist than dropping the new album and the star of Glastonbury turned out to be the Kaiser Chief's inflatable dinosaur.
Strangeways politely, but firmly, declined Ian Brown's offer of a return there to play a gig; Lil'Kim made her way inside after being found guilty of perjruy. Megaman from the So Solid Crew went all the through a murder trial only for the jury to not come up with a verdict, so it's all back to court next year for that one. Megaman's former mate, Romeo, was found not guilty of wounding with intent despite London's increasingly Mariah Careyesque mayor Ken Livingstone slamming the band as a bad example during the trial.
And who can forget the chart battle back in May between Mel B and Geri Halliwell? No? Anyone even remembered they had singles out?
Has there been a single moment in the last twelve months when Bono hasn't been up to something? How we wish, how we wish, but, no,Hanging out in Davos with the rich and the powerful even while fans who'd paid £25 for the right to be able to buy tickets found the U2 servers melting away; trying (and failing) to buy Lara Croft; getting involved in a petty legal action over trousers; leading the eulogies for the recently deceased pope, and sitting down for a happy meal with racist and homophobe Jesse Helms. It's increasingly clear that Bono is a man who loves hanging out with the powerful, and it seems more and more obvious that he's happy to use the plight of the poorest to get access to them. It's probable that if someone did manage to solve world poverty, Bono would probably have to steal some people's goats just so he'd still have an excuse to go and see George W. Which is pretty much where we came in for this review of the year. Here's to 2006...
Just at this festive point of the year, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who's supported No Rock over the last twelve months - whether by reading it, sending us an email with some interesting links or titbits, joining in the comments, providing a link to us from other blogs and websites or writing or saying nice things about what we do here in the so-called old media. Everyone's support is really appreciated.
A sample of best of picks from around the internet and across the magazine stands - you can find more lists referenced by Metacritic and DJ Martian's wonderful overview of best-ofs.
NPR's All Songs Considered:
Best album: Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Customer's Favourite: Coldplay - X&YEditor's Pick of 2005 albums: Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
(Amazon.co.uk have an unordered list of albums, on which Stevens doesn't register
American Music Awards:
Favourite Rock Album: Green Day - American Idiot
BBC Collective best of 2005
BBC Collective users post their picks
Mark Beaumont - Sleepingwiththenme eye candy:
Best track: Hard-fi - Hard To Beat
Best Sellers in the UK:
Best selling single: Tony Christie - Is This The Way To Amarillo?
Best selling album: James Blunt - Back To Bedlam
Edith Bowman, Radio One:
Best track: Amerie - One Thing
Carrie Brownstein, Sleater-Kinney - according to CMJ:
Best album: Judee Sill - Dreams Come True
Tim Burgess, The Charlatans - according to Filter:
Best album: Black Mountain - Black Mountain
Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards:
Best Rock Album: Forever - Something to Dream Of
Rob Da Bank, Radio One:
Best track: Scotch Egg - Scotch Chicken
Local album of the year: Hey Penny - Use These Spoons
Top song: The Killers - All These Things That I've Done
Top album: Various Artists - One Kiss Can Lead To Another ("This 120 track girl group boxed set isn’t a “greatest hits” compilation from the ‘60s. It’s something far more interesting, digging up mostly obscure would-be hits for a parade of innocence emerging into experience.")
Best album: Animal Collective - Feels
Deerhoof - according to CMJ:
Best album: Wayne Shorter - Beyond The Sound Barrier
Stephen Deusner, Memphis Flyer:
Best album: Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
Andrew Earles, Memphis Flyer:
Best albums: Dinosaur Jr reissues
Leslie Feist, Feist - according to Filter:
Best album: Juana Molina - Segundo
Best album: Sigur Ros - Takk
Four Tet - according to CMJ:
Best album: Quasimoto - The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
Alison Goldfrapp, according to Pitchfork
Best music: Motorhead - Ace of Spades (reissue)
Guardian Film & Music review of the year's big trend - internet fanbases.
Chris Herrington, Memphis Flyer:
Best album: The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
I Love Music regulars post their lists
Indie MP3 readers' poll:
Best tracks: Crack Babies - Smoking At Gas Stations;
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot;
The Futureheads - Hounds Of Love
Best albums: Brakes - Give Blood;
The Envelopes - Demon;
Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
Best bands: Bridge Gang;
Indie for Dummies Poll of 100 bloggers:
Best album: Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Best album: Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
Ireland.com's The Ticket: "For me, this was the year of The Arcade Fire"
Picks of the year: The Arcade Fire - Funeral
Ali Farka, Toure & Toumani Diabate - In The Heart of the Moon
Konono No 1: Congotronics
Cane 141: Moonpool
Junkmedia: "It was a good year for music and Junkmedia":
Best album: Spoon - Gimmie Fiction
Best record: Alejandro Sanz - Tu No Tienes Alma
Best album: Ivan Lins - Cantando Historias
Shirley Manson - Garbage, according to Filter:
Best album: MIA - Arular
Maria, from Total Rock's Sex To 9:
Best album: Scar Sympathy - Symetric In Design
Conor McNicholas, NME editor:
Best track: White Rose Moevement - Love Is A Number
Best-reviewed album: Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Ross Millard, Futureheads, according to Pitchfork
Best music: Field Music - Field Music
Alan Miller, Filter publisher:
Best album: Embrace - Out of Nothing
Scott Mills, Radio One:
Best track: 2Pac - Ghetto Gospel
Mr. Red Penguin:
Best album: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Krissi Murison - NME Radar editor:
Best track: Snow White - Bored
James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem, according to Pitchfork
Best music: Black Dice - Broken Ear Record
The Music Box:
Best album: Neil Young - Prairie Wind
Trevor Nelson, Radio One:
Best track: Robin Thicke - Wanna Love Ya
Annie Nightingale, Radio One:
Best track: Splitloop, Here On Business
NME: "Music - particularly British music - was magical again in 2005"
Best album: Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Best track: the Futureheads - Hounds of Love
Best book: Simon Reynolds - Rip It Up and Start Again
Best music dvd: Dig!
Observer Music Monthly: "A small handful of favourites emerged, but we were left with a list of well over 100 discs of almost bewildering variety. What did this mean? We think it's a reflection of how everyone's tastes have changed in this age of the iPod. There's more music being made than ever before (think of the explosion in cheap equipment and therefore creativity right across the globe), and we've finally become less fussy about what we listen to (it helps that were exposed to more, as TV background music, for instance; while online, it's easy to sample music for free)."
Best album: Anthony & The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
Reader's best album: Arcade Fire - Funeral
Best DVD: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
Best music book: Margrave of the Marshes - John Peel and Sheila Ravenscroft
The Onion AV Club:
Least essential album: TATU - Moving and Dangerous
Ian Parton, The Go! Team, according to Pitchfork
Best music: Architecture In Helsinki - In Case We Die
Picadilly Records, Manchester - "We accept that it might not be similar to all the other thousands of 'identikit' charts that you're going to be reading in various publications up to the new year, but what would be the point of that? We've also noticed that a lot of those charts have the excellent Arcade Fire "Funeral" album very high (number one in many), and you're probably thinking where the hell is it in the 'Piccadilly chart'. Well the reason is because we were selling US import copies of it last year, and being the musical purists that we are(!) we felt it would be wrong to list it."
Best album: Magnolia Electric Co - What Comes After The Blues
Best seller: Gorillaz - Dirty Harry
Best single: Anthony & The Johnsons - Hope There's Someone
Popmatters: "The weirdest moments of 2005 were when it felt like the second coming of 2004: weren't we just discussing critically acclaimed albums by Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, and Animal Collective, like, 12 months ago?"
Best album: The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Best electronic album: Richie Hawtin - DE9 Transitions
Best jazz album: Theolonious Monk Quartet with John Coltraine - Live
Best country album: Laura Cantrell - Humming by the Flowered Vine
Queerty.com: "Billie Joe Armstrong gave kids everywhere one positive message: you can wear make-up and be tough at the same time. And we love him for that."
Radio One One Music Festive Fifty:
Number one: Jeggsy Dodd - Grumpy Old Men
Top-rated album: Sufjan Stevens - Illinoise
Jason Reece, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - according to Filter:
Best album: AYWKUBTTOD - World's Apart
Tim Rice-Oxley, Keane, according to Glide:
Best album: MIA - Arular
Favourite live performance: Rufus Wainwright
Best record: Kanye West - Late Registration
Rough Trade Record Shop sales & staff vote - "A truly great album and one that got more number one staff votes than any other in recent years" (Commentary from No Rock)
Best album: Brakes - Give Blood
Salon: "The past year has been a great one for legal downloads of music, as more and more artists and labels have realized that giving away some songs is free publicity and good business practice. As a general rule, major labels are still abstaining, as are the worlds of jazz and classical music, but there have been promising exceptions, and there will surely be more in 2006."
Best download: Coco Rosie: Beautiful Boyz
Ruyichi Sakamoto - according to CMJ:
Taylor Deupree & Kenneth Krischner - Post Piano 2
Blake Sennet, Rilo Kiley - according to Filter:
Best album: Feist - Let It Die
Paul Smith, Maximo Park, according to Pitchfork
Best music: Smog - A River Ain't Too Much To Love
Sister Ray Record Shop, London:
Best album: Arcade Fire - Funeral
The Sun Bizarre Reader's poll:
Best male: Will Young
Best female: Madonna
Best band: Coldplay
Best rock: Oasis
Best album: X&Y - Coldplay
Best single: James Blunt - You’re Beautiful
Best DJ: Chris Moyles
Bizarre asbo: Pete Doherty
Sack the stylist: Britney Spears
Sweeping The Nation: "The first tabloid reports that Pete and Kate were an item were printed on 18th January and it's felt like a particularly overreaching post-watershed Channel 4 drama ever since, completely obscuring the Babyshambles album from view and ensuring Jon Culshaw is probably working on the impression right now."
Best album: Arcade Fire - Funeral
Best single: Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
Take Your Medicine UK Blogger's Poll (Commentary from No Rock)
Hottest UK act: Girls Aloud
Take Your Medicine's choice
Best track: The Bridge Gang - London Sky Tonight
Best band: The Go! Team
Tankboy from Donewaiting:
Best album: LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday:
Best track: Arcade Fire - Cold Wind
Anthony Thornton, NME reviews editor:
Best track: Rufus Wainwright - The Art Teacher
Time Out London edition:
Reader's choice album: Coldplay - X&Y
Writer's choice album: Arcade Fire - Funeral
The Anti-Hit List from the Toronto Star:
Best music: Diplo - Favela Strikes Back
Best singles: Damian Marley - Welcome To Jamrock
Best album: The National - Alligator
Best music DVD: Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
Best album: Arcade Fire - Funeral
Urban Music Awards
Best album: Jamelia - Thank You
Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs - according to Filter:
Best album: Belle & Sebastian - Push Barman to Open Old Wounds
Roddy Woomble, Idlewild - according to Filter:
Best album: Sons And Daughters - The Repulsion Box
Yuri Wuensch, Edmonton Sun columnist:
Best electronic album: Diplo - FabricLive24
We'll update this as more polls and lists roll in
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