Friday, January 21, 2005

(INEVITABLY) JENNY FROM THE CHOC: At least it's not as rubbish as their break bumpers for Coronation Street, but we still can't quite work out what made Madame Tussauds And Cadbury decide to make a Jennifer Lopez out of chocolate. Unless it was corporate insanity. We were taken with the claim that

Cadbury and Madame Tussauds have teamed up to create the first ever chocolate figurine

because we could have sworn we had a cow made from Milka, and what the hell is Freddo if he's not a figurine? Perhaps they meant to add "... of a fading popstar" in the interests of clarity but just forgot. We did have a horrible, horrible puncline involving anal sex and Marc Anthony, but we've had already had complaints that Accenture are blocking this site from their employee's computers, and we really don't want to get their filters all hot and bothered.

ROCKOBIT: The King who sang with "the King", Solomon King, has died.

Although best known as a backing singing for Elvis (indeed, it's a picture of Presley that the BBC are using for King's obituary - once a backing singer, always a backing singer) he also worked with Billie Holiday, the first white singer to do so. He scored hits as a solo artist with She Wears Your Ring and When We Were Young.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky as Alan Levy, King lived in Manchester for two decades with his Canadian wife, Henny Lowy. The couple raised four children before the marriage ended; King retunred to America and picked up a career singing in the clubs.

King died from cancer yesterday in his Oklahoma home.

RIGHT... THAT MAKES THINGS CLEARER: Well, obviously there's a clear explanation for the addition of those five extra songs to the Brit single of the year category. Apparently:

"It has been brought to the organisers' attention that the 2004 chart year comprised 53 weeks rather than 52, running from 28 December 2003 until 1 January 2005," a Brits statement said.

"To avoid any ambiguity and in the interests of accuracy and fair play the Brits committee has decided to expand the nominations list to ten."

It's not actually been made clear if the week they missed off was the first in the year, or the last, but either way... the implication seems to have been that if you count the sales and airplay of that extra week, why, the five 'new' nominations suddenly add-up to have out-performed the five 'old' nominations.

Eh? Now, if they mean the first week of last year (28 Dec onwards) had been overlooked, we don't see how it could have made any difference as none of the singles had been released at that point. And it could be that in the run-up to Christmas, George Michael's sales of Anything outstripped, say, Do They Know Its Christmas by just enough to push it back into the top five, but we don't believe that for a moment. In fact, we can't accept at all that missing a week off the figures would mean a totally different list of five nominations would have been delivered - maybe one song different; perhaps two - but all five? Why don't the Brits just parade up and down outside our houses telling us they think we're stupid?

SONY ADMITS SCREW-UP - SORT-OF: It's rare to see a company admit a mistake, and that's nearly what Ken Kutaragi has done when he stated publicly that Sony had dropped a meaty one by not building players capable of handling mp3 files. Although it's not quite a mea culpa - Ken heads up the computer wing of the wobbly Sony soft-and-hardware corporation, and is very clearly pointing the finger at the entertainment side of the group's worries over people stealing their stuff. So it's a kind of they-a culpa, then.

THE DESPERATE GRAB ANY CHANCE THEY CAN: We're sure it's heartbreaking for Lief Garrett to see his former lover Nicolette Sheridan in Despeate Housewives; they lived together when she was 16 and she dumped him after sixteen years. But, Leif, why are you telling us about it? And why, why, why in so much detail?

"Our love was too passionate and tempestuous. She dumped me and broke my heart but she will always be the love of my life. We had an incredible, fantastic sex life. She was very athletic and coordinated, and we couldn't keep our hands off each other."

A MAN OF THE PEOPLE: Hey, you can't accuse Ice Cube of getting airs and graces - take when he goes to see the Lakers play:

ICE CUBE never misses a LOS ANGELES LAKERS home basketball game, but he refuses to sit with the stars.

Go ube - not for him the cossetted life of sitting with the rich and feted, oh no. So, are you down on the bleachers with the rest of us, Ice? Erm... nope...

The rapper owns a box at the Staples Center, where he can watch the game while his kids do their homework.

Of course he refuses to sit with the stars - he aint gonna go down to their crappy little area when he's got a living room of his own he can be watching from. We're sure the poor of LA will be delighted to hear that his kids go to the game, and spend their time doing homework instead, too.

AT THE MOMENT, IT CAN'T BE ANY WORSE THAN THE PROSPECT OF HER DAD RELEASING SINGLE AFTER SINGLE: You might have thought the embarrassed indifference that greeted her debut album 'None of My Father's Talent' ("Lights Out") would have given a great big hint to Lisa Marie Presley that there's absolutely nothing going to happen there. But then this is a woman who married Michael Jackson, and if she can't see the obvious signs there, she might be hard to semaphore a message to.

So, she's having another shot, with a new Lisa Marie album on the way. Blimey, are we ever blessed?

JEMIMA PISSYPANTS VERSUS USHER - IT'S LIKE A MINI-WAR: We're not quite sure why Usher is so pissed off that J-Lo has recorded the same song as him - her Get Right is largely based on a 12" bonus track he did called Ride last year. "I better get some of the publishing" he grumbles, despite the track being the work the (common to both) producer Rich Harrison. Usher seems to want a cut because he did the same song, not because he wrote it, which is an interesting concept.

RAPOBIT: Lamont Bentley died on Wednesday following a car accident. Although best known for his role Hakeem Campbell in Brandy-fronted sitcom Moesha, Bentley had put effort into attempting to establish a second front with his rap project Uprise. He was also the face of Opal Fruits in America.

The thirty-one year old lived in LA, but his hometown of Milwaukee had named a day in his honour. He's survived by two children and his mother.

TWENTY-ONE DAYS IN, AND IT'S OVER: Although it's great that they had a brilliant time with REM, it must be a little crushing to know that as far as everyone is concerned, REM's Belgrade date has been judged the main rock event in Serbia in 2005. That's eleven months of fairly lean days ahead, then. Perhaps they might get a Fuel gig sometime round May.

MORE C: Melanie C - Dignified Spice - is readying the debut release on her own label. Her self-funded album is taking the title Beautiful Intentions (like what the road to hell is paved with?) and remember: every copy sold sold makes a Spice Girls reunion that little less likely.

GREAT REASONS TO HAVE CHILDREN: There are many reasons why a person may feel a yearning to have children, but surely there are no more pressing impulses driving the maternal instinct than the need to stop being vain, like Gwen Stefani:

"I imagine children will save me from my vanity, and they will become my passion and fill whatever fears I have right now.

"I don't want to drop off and not be on the radio and not be able to talk about myself for hours. I don't want it to go away. But at the same time, I never expected to be here in the first place."

- Mummy, do you love me?
- Of course, little Gwenette - for without you, I'd be the most self-centred person on the planet...

WE SUSPECT THE PERFUME COMPANY HAVE HAD A WORD: Jennifer Lopez has laughed and laughed and laughed at how the 'don't call me J-Lo' thing has been reported. Oh, how she laughed, she told 106.1 BLI radio. In fact, she really doesn't mind what you call her, oh no. No, not at all. Nope.

"You can call me J-Lo or you could call me Jennifer or you could call me Jenny - I don't care!"

Well, there you go. We're going to call you Jemima Pissypants from now on, though, if that's okay.

MAYBE WE COULD KEEP DOING IT UNTIL... OOH, I HAVE A NUMBER ONE?: Nick Lachey, aware that his place in the world depends solely on being 'the husband of...' is apparently fretting that once the Newlyweds is over, he won't have any career at all.

STEPHEN KING WRITES...: We've had a response from Arriva Train Wales' Stephen King, which suggests that they might be thinking about giving a little more, depending on how they do tomorrow:

I cannot inform you of andetails of possible contribution from Arriva until the accounts are done, however Arriva has already made a donation for the Tsunami appeal.

We've not been able to track down any details on how much Arriva have donated already - their website doesn't give anything anyway; and we've asked Stephen if he could clarify what they'll be looking for when they "do they accounts." But at least it's not the same flat No as First Great Western gave.

TRAVEL TO CARDIFF: One thing we note in the BBC Travel guide for the Cardiff concert is that, while Arriva Trains Wales are laying on extra trains, there won't be any extra services between London and Cardiff - so First will be cramming everyone into the usual number of trains and won't be incurring an extra penny in operating costs.

Arriva warns that if the concert overruns at all, the extra services they're providing afterwards won't be much use, as they're not going to bother waiting for the very people they've been put on to collect.

In the interests of fairness, we've asked Arriva how much of their revenue from the extra trips to Cardiff they'll be offering to the tsunami appeal.


IS IT ME, OR IS THERE AN ODOUR OF RAT AROUND HERE?: Due - we're told - to some sort of discrepancy in the original figures supplied to the Brits people, they've expanded the nominations for Best Single from five to ten. This is to be "fair":

"The Brits is committed to ensuring the accuracy and integrity of all our awards."

Integrity? With Will Young in the running for the best single of the last 25 years?

Anyway, the usual rule is supposed to be that the five best selling/most played records of the year are nominated. The original lsit was this:

Band Aid 20 - Do They Know Its Christmas
Jamelia - Thank You
LMC vs U2 - Take Me To The Clouds Above
Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme
Will Young - Your Game

but then, with this sudden discovery of new details, they've added these:

Natasha Bedingfield - These Words
Keane - Everybody's Changing
George Michael - Amazing
Sugababes - In The Middle
The Streets - Dry Your Eyes

We wonder who they're trying to tempt along to play live by sneaking them a nomination in. We're not sure, but we don't believe that George Michael sold that many copies of Amazing, and it was hardly blaring from every street corner. I challenge you to find a milkman who can whistle it.

SOMEONE THINKS OF THE CHILDREN: A big hoo-hah over at Kerrisdale Elementary in Vancouver, where head teacher Carol Andison has barred grade seven girls from doing Lady Marmalade at a school bash:

"It's a really great tune," Andison said. "It's just not appropriate for an elementary school show."

Parents, of course, are fuming that their little darlings have been barred from dressing up as hookers and singing about prostitution:

"It's censorship," Kiara Hunter fumed. "It's infuriating as a parent. What are they going to do, burn books now?"

...which is a splendid piece of over-reaction. Maybe Hunter doesn't mind her daughter singing 'do you wanna fuck me?' provided it's been translated into French first, but her principal telling her she can't do it on a school stage isn't really the same thing as National Socialism, surely?

If the row carries on, they'll scrap the entire musical event and just re-run Class 3A's stage production of The Story of O from last year instead.

CABEROBIT: The death has been announced of Jody Berry, nightclub singer. During a long career touring the US, he worked with Ella Fitzergerald and wrote his own musical, Memory Lane of Fame. Years ahead of Beyonce and the rappers, Berry diversified into producing clothing, pushing both his menswear L'Uoma Elegante and "upscale golfing clothes."

Berry died on Tuesday from cancer. The 68 year-old is survived by his wife, Joni.

DORIAN FOLDS: New York classical indie Dorian has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The mainly baroque label, with debts of a million dollars, reports that it is winding down its business and is not expected to seek to emerge from protection.

MIND-WARPING HEADLINES OF OUR AGE: A BRIEF SERIES: Glastonbury : the first real rumours. That would be as opposed to the fake rumours, then? Anyway, apparently Michael Eavis went to see Keane at their Bristol gig (which isn't actually a rumour); Ian Brown is meant to be on the list too. And Coldfuckingplay as the main Saturday draw. We'll wait until 2006, then.

WE WOULDN'T TRUST CLERICAL MEDICAL TO INVEST A PENNY: Not if the quality of their financial advice is obviously as poor as their research methodology. They set out to find out what songs people play when they're in a good mood. The results? The first most popular song is Robbie William's Radio. The second? We're meant to believe that people come home, a song in their heart, a smile on their face, and a rainbow around their shoulder and put on... Do They Know It's Christmas? "Everybody sing along! There wooooon't be snow in Aaah-free-car this Crimahtime..."

CURIOUSITY: When the RIAA sues ordinary file sharers, they "generously" agree to accept thousands of dollars for a few songs, despite that representing a large chunk of those people's incomes - the two grand they took off the mother of the twelve year old kid in the projects may have been as much as a tenth of her income for the year. Oddly, though, when the record companies sue each other, they seem to be happy to accept a lot less. So it is that Bertlesmann and Bridgeport have settled over Bertelsmann loaning Napster USD85million to keep going in its pre-legal days. And yet - including legal fees - the setttlement here is just USD50,000. And since this case has been dragging on for a few years, I think we can safely say that most of that will be for legal fees.

Isn't it odd that the losses incurred by record companies due to illegal sharing seem to be so much less when it's a buddy that is having to make them good.

ANOTHER COUNTRY SINGER DWI: What is it with the country music scene? Is there something non-Nashville about calling a taxi? Another country star, Cory Morrow, has been charged with driving while intoxicated. And, stealing a trick from the rap boys, he also had lots of coke in the car while he was forgetting the basics of driving (turning without signalling, not driving while off your head, and so on).

COACH BOOKED: Last year, Coachella witnessed the rebirth of The Pixies, so if you want to be there to see what they do this time round, you'll need to have April 30th and May 1st free.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

BRITNEY STARTS PREGNANCY RUMOURS. AGAIN: It's been a few days since the last 'ooh, she must be up the duff' story, so Britney has gone down to get a maternity swimsuit, kicking off another round of the 'this time she must be pregnant' mutterings. Or maybe she's just ordered a large number of cream cakes, and is planning how she's going to work them off?

In a recent interview, Britney announced that she's done virtually everything, and so has to have a kid:

I've had a career since I was 16, I have travelled around the world and even kissed Madonna! The only thing I haven't done so far is experience the closest thing to God and that's having a baby. I can't wait!

The closest thing to God is having a baby? We thought it was being the Pope. Surely being split in two as a living thing crawls out of your lower regions as you scream in pain is closer to The Exorcist than God? But leaving the theology aside, we're not sure Britney has totally been honest when it comes to ticking off the 'job done' list. Sure, she's kissed Madonna - so has Warren Beatty - but has she ever rimmed Tony Blair? Has she thrown up in a gumboot? Has she seen the sun rise over the reservoir? We're sure there's lots of things she could be doing instead of getting herself gravid with Federline's baby. Even nunnerying might be more fun, and would have that all-important 'close to God' factor, what with the being married to Jesus and all.

DOUBLE OR QUITS: Apparently these days Noel Gallagher is reduced to giving interviews to Nuts, the magazine for people who can neither read nor reach the proper porn. Anyway, he claims that Oasis had sixty-six songs from which to make the new album, but decided against doing a double because "we don’t want to give Sony too much ‘cos it’s our last one, so fuck ‘em."

Sixty-six songs? Now, since they abandoned the first version of the album after Glastonbury, and went back to square one, and assuming they finished the album before Christmas, we reckon that would mean they kept up a workrate of writing three songs a week for twenty weeks - which would either suggest they've suddenly discovered a rich seam of inspiration that's eluded them for the past decade, or else they've just been knocking out any old rubbish in a bid to get this finished. We shan't insult you by telling you what we're guessing here.

The title is rumoured to be Don't Believe The Truth. Don't Believe The Troll might be more accurate.

SHOEGAZING: We think this might be our favourite music blog ever: Popstars Feets. Helen goes up to indie popsters of various levels, and takes a photo of their feet. And then posts it.

So far we have learned that Chris Martin doesn't write anything on his shoes, and Eddie Argos from Art Brut wears old men's socks.

FORTY-TWO: As if waking from a long slumber, Six By Seven have announced a new single - Valentine's day Ocean/Clouds double a-side - and a whole tour, too:

24th January Liverpool University
26th Manchester Academy 3
27th Glasgow King Tuts
28th Leicester Charlotte
29th Bristol Louisana
30th Nottingham Rock City
1st Februay Newcastle The Cluny
2nd Leeds Josephs Well
3rd Oxford Zodiac
4th Aldershot West End Centre
5th London Garage

WON'T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?: Nice to see that McFadden and Fathead's publicity sleigh is now so happily skeetering along that they're about to include a nasty, grasping custody battle for the children as a way of keeping Kerry Katona and Brian McFadden on the cover of OK for as long as possible.

The Mirror article linked above includes, perhaps, the most desperately sad line ever published in the English-language:

Kerry knocked back cocktails at the weekend after hitting the hotspots of her hometown of Warrington, Cheshire.

Blimey. Mr. Smiths and the Yates', then?

ALL RHODES LEAD TO LAUREN: It's that time of the week again when we get to inspect a new promo pic for the Orange Telephones Playlist Don't Ask If They Fry Your Brains on ITV.

We're suspecting that, in order to get wee Nicky and Lauren in the same frame, there's a fruit stall somewhere in central London that's missing at least three orange boxes. We wonder if they're both looking extremely knackered to try and fit the middle-of-the-night vibe of the programme's prestigous slot.

Nick tells Lauren about how September 11th 2001 changed the Duran sound:

"Some of the new album was written around the time of 9/11. In fact 'What Happens Tomorrow' was written very shortly after that. I think it influenced everyone in the world.
You couldn't be an artist and have it not affect you; it was all anyone was talking about all day every day. Until then we'd written a lot of uplifting Duran Duran songs and when 9/11 happened it made everything much more introspective."

As we write this, we're waiting for a fact-checking call to North Korea to be returned to ensure that everyone was influenced. We've got a funny feeling, though, that only Duran Duran found that an event which even made George Bush get out that funny round, spinny thing with the countries on it made them more, not less, introspective. Perhaps they were trying to work out how the world had not heeded the message of Planet Earth?

Nick then moves on to the more weighty matters, as in why Robbie Williams hasn't made it in America:

"I like Robbie very much, I don't know why he hasn't broken America.

"Maybe he hasn't put enough work in over there or possibly his style is a little too English for the Americans. Irony doesn't travel well across the Atlantic."

Two things, here, Nick: first, Robbie Williams isn't "ironic" - behaving like a twat, and then saying "ooh, I'm a twat" isn't ironic; it's so far from ironic that Alanis didn't even consider including it as a line in Ironic.

Secondly, and more importantly: What makes you think that irony doesn't travel across the Atlantic? You're not a stupid man, Nick, so why are just mindlessly repeating the hoariest old fib of them all. The trouble for Robbie is, actually, they do do irony in the States, but when they do it really well, and don't need to import some half-assed attempts to palm unpleasantness off as irony.

INSTANT NOSTALGIA: We wondered why the Brits had been so excited about getting Chris Evans as host this year, but the news that they want Jennifer Lopez to headline means it's all starting to make sense: to celebrate 25 years of the Brits, they're setting it in three years ago, aren't they? We expect J-Lo will be invited to perform a duet with Shaggy.

HEAVY HUMOUR: We like the Goldie Lookin' Chain as much as the next man (we're sat between the offices of Stop GLC and the workstation used by the chairman of They're The Rap Wurzels group), but we'd have thought making a joke about the tsunami benefit gig might have been a little ill-judged:

"It's all about the people who've gone out and bought these 60,000 tickets in record time, we're just doing what we can to help."

It's not like it's a gag that's strong enough to make the tastelessness seem secondary, and it's not even honest - "it's about those 100,000 unsold GLC albums in the warehouse" might have been better.

STICK YOU, SQUIRE: In this time when every band that ever existed is getting back together, it's heartwarming to know that there are always some people who'll never bury a hatchet, smoke a peace pipe or set aside grievances. We tip our hat to the Ian Paisley of Pop, Ian Brown, who still indulges in spit-fights with John Squire, after all these years:

"For me, right, he split up the best band in the country at the time, the Roses, and he went on to do what? Nothing. Nothing to write home about, so he must be a bit bitter because he?s got to watch me steaming forward. There?s no stopping it. I announce shows and they?re gone in a day. It must be killing the kid. They say he was the best guitarist of his generation, which I think he is. Was. I hear his music now and what?s happened to his guitar playing?"

While, of course, it's true that Squire hasn't quite done anything like the Stone Roses' debut, but then neither has Brown, really (although his solo work is improving rapidly). It's like Carter and Bush Senior calling each other failures, really.

NAMES FOR THINGS: Back when he was still a respected entertainer, Michael Jackson used to insist on being called The King of Pop - a stipulation that would sometimes be contractually enshrined, so he's always been aware of the power of titles. So it is that his defence team are trying to insist that the accuser in his kid-fiddling case isn't referred to as a victim. No suggestion has apparently been made for other terms that could be used, but we think 'the boy that Michael Jackson has been charged with getting pissed and touching' has a ring to it.

ADS-AS-ART: Japanese daily paper the Daily Yomiuri snagged an Interpol interview, focusing on how the band used art to promote the Antics album:

For Antics, the band opened "Interpol Art Space" installations at various venues--worldwide, according to Kessler--including a gallery in New York. The installations featured short films and paintings depicting the band members by Shepard Fairey. In the weeks leading up to the official release of Antics, the band boosted their promotion of the album at the installations by giving away seven-inch records containing two different songs from the album each week.

"Instead of getting a big billboard and saying 'new Interpol record out now,' we thought it would be really cool to have this space and make it a global thing as much as we could and have people walk by and say, 'What the hell is this?'" Kessler said.

Worldwide? We'd love to hear of any sightings outside of the US of this event - indeed, any sightings outside of New York. And while this is a cool approach, we do worry if it catches on we'll end up with those robot-mimes plugging the Will Young album.

WE BET VIRGIN WERE, LIKE, DESTROYED: We wonder how, exactly, Lee Ryan managed to get out of his Virgin contract to launch his post-Blue solo "career"? "I drove a hard bargain, they even put all my stuff into a black plastic bag and put it out on the street for me I was so firm... Even before I'd got to the office and told them I wanted out, actually..."

PRESUMABLY THE CANCER-CURING WATER THING WASN'T SO MUCH OF A PROBLEM: Apparently with their most famous cultee involved somewhere along the line, the Kabbalah team have relocated Eliyahu 'the Jews brought the holocaust on themselves' Yardeni from their London cult centre back to the one in LA. The centre, of course, deny that it had anything to do either with his dickwitted callousness being caught by an undercover reporter, or Madonna, but in what seems to be a desperate face-saving bid, Madonna has let it be known that she was 'furious'. Only by that, apparently: not the flogging of ordinary bottles of Canadian spring water at grossly inflated prices, or the happy fleecing of the desperate, or the pressure selling of event tickets, or...

THE DAVE MATTHEWS POOP STORY - DEVELOPMENT: You'll recall late last year people on a boat trip in Chicago had their pleasure ruined when a large pile of crap was dumped onto them from, it's alleged, the Dave Matthews Band tour bus? Well, the driver of said bus, Stefan Wohl turned himself in to the cops and has been chaged with reckless conduct and discharging contaminates to cause water pollution.

In a way, it's probably a good job the effluent hit a boat - otherwise, the Matthews turds would have just disappeared into the Chicago and nobody would have been any the wiser. And god alone knows what that would have done to the fish.

HAT-TRICK: Away from the Fifth Avenue that is iTunes, and the Poundland that is Napster, Juliana Hatfield is trying something different: downloads on the honour system. Her website currently brims with mp3s (the alternative, extra tracky type stuff, but this is a social experiment) and the rules are explained:

When a song is downloaded, you will have an option. You can decide that ownership of this song is your right and freely distribute the files to your friends and to the people who also think it's their right, without payment. Or, you can support the artist who wrote and recorded this song and click the PAYPAL button to the right of the download link and send Juliana a contribution. The iTunes standard of $.99 may seem too high for you, in which case you can send $.50 - though there is virtually nothing else you can buy legally for $.50. Alternatively, you can think of the number of people with whom you might share this file and give a multiple of $.99.

If you don't have a means by which you can use Paypal or if you're opposed to the burgeoning online drain of your credt, feel free to send a dollar in the mail to Juliana at Fort Apache 51 Village Square Bellows Falls, VT 05101

There might come a day when the honor system is a strong enough code to let people like Juliana offer her songs on the web without the force of law or the sting of theft. In fact, today might be that day. Enjoy the songs. Support talent wherever you find it. On behalf of Juliana this site thanks you for your support.

Cocaine Slut - a very lo-fi Juliana discussion group

SWIMMING IN CLUBS: Good news from Help She Can't Swim, about to tour:

January 20th Taunton, Aura.
21st Plymouth, Phoenix
25th Exeter, Cavern Club
26th Brighton, Freebutt
27th Nottingham, The Social
28th Edinburgh, The Underground
29th Glasgow, the Barfly
30th Newcastle, The Archer
31st Manchester, Night and Day
Februrary 1st Birmingham, The Royal George

BASHIR BASHFUL: It's odd how most people who make their living asking questions come over all shy when they find themselves being asked in their turn. So it is that Martin Bashir has begged Judge Melvile to not make him appear in the Michael Jackson trial, on the grounds that his work "speaks for itself." Which is true - it really does say "Here is a man who will schmooze anyone, providing they're rich and famous enough", but that's not at issue in the court.

He's claiming protection under the Shield Law, a Californian rule which allows journalists to be spared from being forced to testify about things they see during the course of their work. It seems strange that Bashir, who set this current hare running with his Living With... programme, doesn't feel in any way inclined to take the stand and, for example, confirm that the show was a fair representation of what he saw.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The Killers introduce their tongue massage techniques
At long last, we've got a perspective on one of the stranger events of 2004 from the gurning mouth: Mark E Smith has provided the Guardian Guide with an answer to the question on everyone's lips: What the hell was his Newsnight interview the night Peel died all about? "The thing about that" explains Mark "was I had the bloke from the fucking Undertones in one ear and some BBC control room fella in the other, and another one asking me these questions. I couldn't hear myself, that's why I probably appeared mad." This is a little like a man driving after downing a quart of neat vodka complaining that he only crashed because the changing traffic lights startled him.

Still, not everyone thought it was a nightmare performance: "My mum liked it. She said 'He's always very self-assured, even when he's on TV.'" We were a little surprised that Ma Smith is still alive, what with Mark appearing to be in his late 70s.

The Monday Guardian featured a profile of Hit Song Science, which mayn't be the last nail in the coffin of the music industry but is certainly administering a good kick to the corpse. This is the computer which analyses a song and predicts if it'll be a hit or not - in other words, it's able to tell how far shy of the lowest common denominator a track is. It suggested that Norah Jones and Maroon 5 were worth record company investment and time. Enough said.

The Killers stare out in unshaved glory from the front of the NME, which is cheerleading for the Shockwaves/NME awards tour - yes, it is the hairstuff. Fancy.

The big news picture is a still from Charlotte Hatherley's Bastardo video, which shows her snuggling up to David Walliams. The video also has Hayley from the Archers in it, which should impress Fallon.

There's an interesting factlet buried in Jolie Lash's letter from Los Angeles: Oasis flew there to record the new album so they could record through the mixing desk used by Jet. Like Tom Baker asking John Culshaw where he buys his scarves, isn't it?

Peter Robinson breaks it gently to Darius that people are selling fridge magnets with his face on. Darius is upset that he's not even getting a cut from that, which surely he should see as an opportunity: he's not got much else to do; he could hire himself out to go round people's houses and hold notes up for them in the kitchen. Nice earner.

Special Needs pop by to suggest that darts is the only sport with the true spirit of rock and roll. At least they don't do the Jockey Wilson Said anecdote.

How much, Brandon Flowers, are the Killers your vision? "I don't want to say more than anyone else's... but the way we look, our name, our influences. They all came from me." Presumably the others get to choose the number for the barcodes on the album.

Best-worst-headline ever for the Futureheads article: Sunderland & Lightning. Barry Futurehead recommends The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch, while Ross reveals they massage their own tongues before going on stage. I don't think this means snogging each other's faces off, but it can be lonely on the road.

Bloc Party love Dungeons and Drahons. We should have known. The sweaters were the clue.

Simon from the Kaiser Chiefs slags off The Next Karate Kid, apparently unaware that "the girl" is Hilary Swank who could, quite easily, kick the butt of him and all his friends.

Having wrested control of his latest album back from Everton player Kevin Campbell, it looks like Mack Life is going to pump an awful lot of cash into Mark Morrison's career. There's a full page ad - left hand side, too, which is full of the usual po-faced guff that could be self-parody but so clearly isn't - the word 'released' is stamped across the ad, and a child has made the words 'Innocent Man' with building blocks, which are altered to read Innocent Mack. But you weren't innocent, were you, Mark? You were convicted twice, once of sending someone else to do your community service, weren't you?

Hard-Fi believe themselves to be the "hottest band in Britain" (Can you hear Alex Kapranos coughing politely? And Kasabian? And Bloc Party? And even Liquid Greek?) but complain that "we're still skint." Were Tony Hadley not currently trying to gather the trolleys up in a Lidl carpark right now, he'd probably mutter "welcome to music business, pals."

funeral for a friend - LA Troubadour - "just two new songs... but [they have] life beyond their hardcore playground"
kasabian - brixton academy - "there's still hardly a swagger in sight"
muse - earls court arena - "finally the songs find a venue that fits"

bright eyes - i'm wide awake it's morning; digital ash in a digital urn - "these albums issue a written apology for david gray", 8; 9
m83 - before the dawn heals us - "a new and strange dawn is upon us", 8
timbaland and magoo - timbaland and magoo present - "as simple as wallopping a rubbish bin with a cricket bat", 7

totw - hard-fi - cash machine - "cahspoint rejection and scratched livings"
HAL - what a lovely dance - "too late for them to start picking up the pieces"
editors - bullets - "editors are great"
midnight movies - mirage - "like Juliana Hatfield fronting Sterolab" (nb: this is meant as an insult)

Remeber Charlotte's Mag? A few years - okay, too many years back - they had the bright idea of launching a magazine "written by its readers" (the implication being, of course, that other magazines are written by people who don't read the title and have no interest in its enthusiasms, as if, for example, Q is written by a load of people who spend their leisure time reading Investor's Chronicle and What Caravan... okay, that's a bad example...). It did, of course, stiff, partly because the only way you can pull the trick off is to run articles which seem a bit amateurish. Anyway, judging from an ad in the classifieds, someone's trying something similar.

And finally, Adam Green is offering free entry (plus ones) to anyone called Emily who wishes to attend his upcoming to tour and who cares to email him on It's not clear if he'll require evidence of your Emily-ness.

THEY'RE ANGRY BUT POLITE: Busted fans aren't going to let Charlie turn into a rocker that easily, as they're hunting him down at Fightstar gigs and throwing red-painted action men at him. Why, we're not sure - maybe they're confusing him with having done something to do with the Iraq war? - but they did go up and say sorry afterwards. Which nobody who threw a thing at 50 Cent bothered to do.

WE THINK HE WAS TRYING OUT FOR WHEN STERN'S GIG COMES UP: Here, in all its glory, is the Bush remarks from last night's 'youth' inauguration gig:

hank you all for coming. (Applause.) I hope you've enjoyed this fantastic concert. (Applause.) I'm traveling -- as you can see, I'm traveling in pretty good company today, with the First Lady of the United States, Laura. (Applause.) The mother of Barbara and Jenna -- (applause) -- who we love dearly.

Listen, I want to thank all the entertainers who were here today. How about Hilary Duff. She was fantastic. (Applause.) Thank you, Hilary. JoJo -- JoJo is here -- yeah. (Applause.) Rubin Studdard -- you talk about a success story. (Applause.) Ryan Cabrera, I appreciate Ryan being here. (Applause.) How about Three Doors Down? (Applause.) Pretty cool guys, right? Seem cool to me. (Applause.) Fuel -- I appreciate Fuel being here. (Applause.) Jason Sehorn -- I'm honored that my friend, Jason -- and I'm really proud and pleased that he brought his wife, Angie Harmon. (Applause.)

I want to thank Steve Baldwin for being with us today. I'm honored that Steve was here. Erika Harold, Miss America 2003 -- what a fine person Erika is. (Applause.) How about Kelly Purdue, the "apprentice." (Applause.) Next thing you know, the guy will be running for President. (Applause.) Nancy O'Dell -- I'm honored that Nancy is with us. I appreciate you all coming.

Of course Three Doors Down seem cool to you - you're a man who thinks that wearing one of those Burton Menswear brown flying jackets is cool...

He then goes on to talk about soldiers in a faintly pornographic way, so it's best we end it there, I think.

THE POOP SCOOP: It appears that Britney is having some trouble getting her seventeen dogs in order, according to some gossip magazine or other:

"Britney doesn't seem bothered by it," a source revealed. "She doesn't even clean it up properly. She just blots the soiled carpets with some paper towels. She doesn't even use a cleaner." The source added, "Kevin's closet is filled with dog poop. It's a beautiful house, but visitors are shocked that Britney and Kevin don't clean up after their dogs."

Let's hope that it is dog poop that fills Kevin's closet - it's not only animals that find it hard getting used to living in a house, you know.

Somewhere in heaven, Barbara Woodhouse is sitting with her head in her hands.

YOU LACHEY, LACHEY PEOPLE: We're sure people other than his immediate family will be delighted to hear that Nick Lachey has signed to Jive Records, but we're having trouble thinking of who they might be. We're not even sure than Jive will be all that thrilled - we picture the scene when he comes in to talk about future plans and the boss will turn to his sidekick and say "You doughnut... I said Nick Carter"; but all 160,000 people who bought his 2003 SoulO (or 'sold-zero' as it's known round here) will be delighted they can upgrade.

Hang about - that's who'll be happy: Universal, his old label. Laughing themselves to sleep, they will be.

FIRST: WE GAVE AT THE OFFICE: Down in the First Great Western offices, something stirred, as we hear from Elaine Wilde, the Head of Corporate Communications:

As I am sure you are aware First Great Western is part of FirstGroup plc. FirstGroup has pledged to donate £65,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee following the Asian Tsunami disaster. In addition FirstGroup is also looking at ways to provide practical assistance and our staff have held many fund raising collections.

In other words... they're going to keep all the extra money they make on Saturday taking people to the charity gig in Cardiff. Now, it's great they made a donation already - a very generous sixty-five grand, which works out as 0.000636p for every passenger journey made last year on First's UK bus operation (we decided to not count in the journeys made on their train franchises, light rail schemes or overseas operations as that might make the figure look somewhat tiny) but that was before the Cardiff gig was firmed up, wasn't it?

FirstGroup's last set of full-year figures showed a turnover of £2.5 billion; which you could choose to sit next to, say, the Maldives' annual GNP of about fifty million quid. Or you might want to point out the cost of a standard open return from Cardiff to London is £110, which only needs 509 people to make that journey before First have made back their original donation.

AND AGAIN: Elvis leading the midweeks for another number one; dead friend of Nixon currently outselling the Chemical Brothers three to one. Can nobody stop the jelly-juggernaut?

NOT THAT THEY'VE NOT DONE WELL SOLO OR ANYTHING: We have to admit: we didn't realise the Black Crowes had actually split up, but they must have as they've reformed to play a series of gigs at New York Hammerstein Ballroom [March 22nd - 26th] which, if they bring in enough cash, could lead to a full tour; maybe even a new album.

LAUGHING LIKE A DRAIN: Oh, the sheer quality of Sharon Osbourne, the new face of Asda: not only the tackiest of the big supermarket chains, but the one owned by ultra-evil capitalist-Republican Wal-Mart. Nice work, Sharon - making yourslef look cheap and callous in one move.

In other news, it seems Ozzy has been drinking so much coffee, it's been keeping him awake. We find this difficult to imagine: surely there's not caffeine enough to counter whatever else he's dosed up on, even if he ate a large tin of Gold Blend? Which, actually, wouldn't be unlikely behaviour from someone in his funk all the time.

NEIGHBOURS...: We feel sorry for Charlotte Church's grandma... look who's Ananova - Charlotte buys house opposite her granmoving in over the road from her:

It's bad enough when young people move into the area with their noisy parties and dubious boyfriends and cars and whathaveyou. It's even worse when it's family.

GOODNESS, FOUL LANGUAGE: Although it's hard to resist the temptation to join in the shouting with joy at anything that spoils the Bush party, man swears at rock concert is not news in a grown-up country. Not even when the concert was organised by the Bush twins.

What is interesting is just how obscure the swearer is: Brett Scallions of Fuel. Who? There was obviously something of a shortage of top pulls for The Evil Twins salute Their Daddy festival: they managed Hillary Duff, but other than that - Stephen Baldwin on a skateboard, Ryan Cabrera, Ruben Suddard off the Idol show and JoJo: it's hardly a glittering collection, is it? More like a second-string Seaside Special.

TO LOSE ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT ONCE IS UNFORTUNATE...: We're starting to suspect that Camper Van Beethoven might want to buy some padlocks or something, as they've had their equipment stolen again for the fourth time (is it?) this tour. Anyway, if you can help, they'd like to hear from you; their tour is continuing with borrowed equipment, which will be available for removal from a hotel car park near you soon.

The band can't understand how it happened this time:

Around 1pm eastern 01/18 we got word that someone in Dallas stole their gear again. The band was staying at the Comfort Suites - and they even had a security guard. The trailer was backed up against a parking deck wall so the doors would not open. The thieves cut through the side of the trailer and helped themselves.

Now, without wanting to cast doubt upon the quality of the Comfort Suites, we're guessing they don't actually use the same security team that surrounds former President Clinton when he goes on foreign trips...

NAZIS JAILED: The courts in Martin in the Slovak Republic have jailed NS Band, a fascist rock group, for inciting racial hatred through their lyrics.

THE FIRST, AT LAST, TAKE EVERYTHING: Still absolutely no indication from First - either their Great Western or head offices - that they plan to make a donation of the extra cash they'll be making from carrying people to Cardiff for the Tsunami benefit. Which means, either they're generous and bashfull, or else they're going to pocketing the whole lot.

ASTONISHINGLY OVER-GENEROUS HEADLINES OF OUR TIME: A BRIEF SERIES: We were surprised to see our RSS reader announce that was reporting Oasis' Liam helps raise millions for tsunami victims. It turns out this was the report on Radio Aid, in which Gallagher had, admittedly, a walk-on part; but it's a bit like reporting Live Aid as 'Adam Ant In Multi-Million Fund Raiser'.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

WHY DO PEOPLE TREAT HIM LIKE AN EXPERT?: The continuing habit on the part of TV companies of paying large sums of cash to Simon Cowell is something of a puzzlement: a man who, lest we forget, has been the lead figure on TV programmes which have launched Michelle McManus, Phixx, Hear'Say, Gareth Gates and others who even themselves have forgotten ever were supposed to be pop stars and yet is still treated as if he knows what he's talking about. Which...

"I find the whole Beyonce thing really mystifying," Cowell says in Esquire magazine. "She's not sexy, she hasn't got a great body and she's not a great singer."

... clearly he doesn't...

"[On Ashlee Simpson] Why should you have to do something substandard just for the sake of being real? If it sounds better with the vocal you recorded, why shouldn't people listen to that? There's almost a witch-hunt mentality about people miming."

No, Simon, the ridiculing of Ashlee wasn't because she was lip-synching: it was because when the backing tape fucked-up, she danced like a chicken and ran away leaving her band holding up a major US network on their instrumentation alone. Are you really so unable to understand a simple situation you don't realise the difference?

CLOSE TO THE EDGE: Good news: Nine Inch Nails have lined up some UK dates.
Bad news: They're playing the quite small Astoria, which means you'll be closer to Trent Reznor than generally accepted as safe.

Tickets on sale from Saturday; the gigs are on March 30th & 31st.

ALTOGETHER NOW: And if the return of Portishead wasn't enough of a shocker, how about Happy Mondays and The Farm playing London? The Farm haven't played live in over a decade, and the Mondays - well, they come together whenever there's no cash left in the coffee jar to pay the leccy bill, but even so... completing the Baggy line-up, Mani and Clint Boon are going to dj and there's going to be a Stone Roses tribute act as support. All this is going to happen in Brixton on March 25th and 26th.

Billy Anfield: Your hour has come again.

FORGOTTEN AS A MUSICIAN, HARVEY MAKES A BID TO REMIND US WHO HE IS: The sad post-fame history of the So Solid Crew continues, with Harvey again in trouble with the coppers. Police say that it took CS gas to restrain him when they stopped him for motoring offences; he's charged with having assaulting a police office, using threatening words, driving without insurance and driving while disqualified. If you're wondering what he's up to these days - besides scuffling on the hard shoulder, BBC News Online reports Harvey is trying to make it as a solo singer, TV host, actor and model. And playing football for Lewes (Conference South league). It's a wonder he finds any time to stop and think about things, isn't it? Mind you, probably best he keeps himself busy.

DEAD BAND TWITCHES: It's surprises all round as Portishead announce they're working on their third album - the whole world is surprised they're still going; Geoff Barrow is surprised we all thought they'd split up, just because they've not released an album in seven years.

THEY'RE NOW OFFICIALLY BRIT-ENDORSED: The surprisingly-very-popular Kasabian are going to canter off on a late-April tour of big-ish venues this Spring. Surprisingly Big:

April 22 -Glasgow Academy
24 - Manchester Carling Apollo
28 - London Alexandra Palace
29 - Brighton Centre
30 - Nottingham Arena

... AND HE NEVER HAD A PINK CADILLAC, EITHER: Contact Music suggest that Paul Heaton has "slammed" Bruce Springsteen's songwriting, but it looks more to us like he's merely used Bruce as an example of how most writers have to think themselves into other situations:

"Most writers are playing out a position and most songs are artificial, trying to get into the situation of the person you're writing about, playing a role, trying to feel as close to their position as possible.

"Look at Bruce Springsteen in Better Days - 'A life of leisure and pirate's treasure don't make much for tragedy.' Springsteen is a rich and successful man but he's trying to feel the opposite of what life at home must be like for himself. He's deliberately trying to write a blues lyric."

THE EEYORE OF ROCK: The only thing we can't quite believe about Tom Wait's insistence that he hasn't had fun since 1962 is the bit about him having had fun in 1962. Apparently, he had fun when he drank a whole bottle of Robitussin cough medicine and went with some Mexicans to see James Brown. Since then, though, nothing. And he's happy - although not, you know, tra-la-la, I'm gonna sing, hello, Mr. Bluebird happy - about that, too:

"It's like Volkswagens or bell-bottoms, or patchouli oil or bean sprouts. It rubs me up the wrong way. I might go out and have an educational and entertaining evening, but I don't have fun."

ABC have apparently scrapped plans to approach Tom to host a US version of Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.

THIS COULD BE ABOUT TWENTY YEARS TOO LATE: Apparently worried by "unusual behaviour" (how could they tell?), Big Brother producer-bots have got Bez a drugs counsellor to help him deal. Not, like, deal four-grammes-a-tenner, but cope. Apparently, when nobody's watching (which, with this series, is most of the time) he's making rude gestures towards the camera.

COLLECT THE SET: Kate Moss' obsessive quest to have everyone who ever scored a UK Top Ten hit continues, with her list now showing Pete Doherty ticked off. Kate and Pete were, according to reports that really are little more than tittle-tattle, "all over each other" at some sort of party last week.

A guest at the party said: "Kate is attracted to Pete because he's dangerous, exciting, creative and talented."

Which is probably over-doing it a bit; we suspect the main attraction will be the usual: he's in the papers.

IT'S LIKE THE BLUE PETER CHOCOLATE BAR ALL OVER AGAIN: Only without the disappointed Simon Groom, of course. The somewhat curious Radio Aid event - which saw a slew of commercial stations coming together with 'star' presenters - fell victim to hoax bidding when a dinner date with George Michael and Kenny Goss started to show bids of four million quid. It's not known if the hoax bidder was using the name Aridgeley or not.

The main event - in aid of Tsunami relief - saw a bunch of people doing hour long slots on the one-day network, raising two million in the process. Chris Evan crawled out of retirement to do an hour - with, for some reason Kate Thornton; and even less likely pairing of Simon Bates and Jade Goody cropped up during the day.

THE MOTHER'S LOVE: Now she's got her daughter back, Courtney Love has issued a statement - and, surprisingly, she didn't do it naked while hurling bottles:

"Life is about choices, and I've chosen to move forward with my life in a healthy and positive way. Having my daughter back with me is exciting. I am looking forward to the future and continuing to entertain and create great music. I really appreciate the encouragement and support I've received from my fans and the community."

CHRIS MARTIN EXPERIENCES BUMPY LANDING: A plane carrying Chris Martin had a fairly difficult landing at an airport in Ghana. Chris has decided this "brush with death" has made him determined to make "the best album of all time." Which suggests he'd be embarrassed if Yellow and Clocks were left as his gifts to the world, something we can well understand.

ALL WOMEN ARE EQUALLY SEXY: Dismissing claims that she was furious at being beaten in a sexiest woman poll by Angelina Jolie, Beyonce has snorted that it's just not true:

"There was this big thing in a magazine saying I was mad at Angelina Jolie because she came number one in a sexiest female poll.

"I'm not mad that I'm number five. I'm mad I'm listed at all. Every woman is sexy because she can give birth to a baby. That's sexy in itself."

So, there you have it: Having a uterus is sexy. You really don't need L'Oreal at all, then.

SOULOBIT: The death has been announced of Rocky Roberts. the boxer-turned-soul-singer who took soul to Italy.

Born in Miami in 1941, he was a rubbish boxer who quit after getting his jaw smashed. Luckily, he had a singing voice to fall back on. He wasn't especially successful in the US, either, but he relocated to Italy where he had a major hit with probably the first ever soul song sung in Itallian, Stasera Mi Butto. It was in Italy that he would spend the rest of his life.

In more recent years, Roberts had been struggling to write something as memorable as Mi Butto, while touring a soul standards band around the country. He'd been fighting lung cancer for some time before his death on Friday.

NO GLASTONBURY NEXT YEAR: The licence for this year's Glastonbury festival has been granted - South Mendip councillors voted 12-4 in favour - but Michael Eavis has told the BBC there won't be a festival in 2007. This now establishes a break "every fifth year", which makes sense to Eavis who understands the fallow principle. We can't imagine Mean Fiddler will be too delighted to hear that one of their big bankers will be 'resting.' Eavis plans to spend the summer next year building a pond - he's discovered an underwater spring which he intends to use to keep the 2008 fully watered.

Monday, January 17, 2005

BIG WIN FOR MICK AND DAVE: In a pretty rubbish year for Britain at the Golden Globes, Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart managed to bring one back to the UK, for Best Original Song (Old Habits Die Hard in Alfie). It's kind of amusing that the best original song was in a dreadful rehash of a movie, but then the Golden Globes didn't have much to play with - when The Aviator with the now-more-cabbage-than-sprout-faced DiCaprio is judged Best Anything, its a shit year all round.

IF THE OTHER OPTION WAS AUDITIONING DRUMMERS, WE'D CALL IT QUITS, TOO: Following on from the loss of their drummer last week, Ikara Colt have decided to end operations once and for all.

Paul Resende stated:

"The band has taken the group decision to split up. From the start we were always going to break up after 5 years… that 5 years is now up. The band would like to thank everyone that has supported us over the years, you know who you are."

So, that's that, then.

MURDER ON THE DANCEFLOOR: We're sure there are lots of great reasons why Sophie Ellis-Bextor is providing supporting vocals for Busface under the name Mademoiselle EB - her stated reason is that she doesn't want to "confuse" fans waiting for the third album. Nothing to do with hiding from Mark Lamarr, then?

HOW DARE THEY ASSOCIATE CHEAP, SHOWY TACK WITH JESSICA SIMPSON'S NAME?: That's, like, so her job. Jessica S is suing some woebegotten company Inspired Silver for using her "likeness" without her permission to sell costume jewellery. We would have thought they'd have been able to leap clear of the allegations simply by saying "That's not Jessica Simpson, just one of the seventy thousand other blonde, push-up bra wearing caterwailers. In fact, we thought it was Paris Hilton." Unfortunately, they also used her name so the case might stick, although if Jessy is really worried about cheap, clunky rubbish being flogged using her likeness and name, shouldn't she take Ashlee to one side and have a word?

The court documents are pretty amusing as it's hard to believe that a so-so cable channel and largely forgotten album has given her the balls to swear this in a legal document:

"Jessica Simpson is one of the most popular entertainers and most recognised people in the world today... Ms Simpson has risen to international stardom as a recording artist and television personality. She and her husband, Nick Lachey, are one of the world's most recognizable couples...

Seriously, we wouldn't recognise Nick Lachey if he tried to wash our windshield. When he goes out alone, he has to wear a tshirt with the words "NICK LACHEY... husband of Jessica Simpson [Correct as at 1/1/05]" otherwise even he doesn't know who he is. But it gets better...

As a young married couple, Ms Simpson and Mr Lachey have become cultural icons as "America's Sweethearts"

Now, unless I missed something during the election, since when did this happen? America's Dimwits, perhaps, but sweethearts?

Ms Simpson has been one of the most popular recording artists of the past five years. Her first major record label releases, Sweet Kisses (1999(, Irresistible (2001) and In Your Skin (2003 and re-released 2004) appeared on Billboard's Album Chart, with 'In Your Skin' achieving a ranking of #2

So, somehow, she's managed to be "one of the most popular recording artists of the past five years" despite only recording three albums in that time, one stiffing totally and only getting a second run out off the back of a grimy reality telly programme where she sold her wedding to Viacom, and hasn't ever had a number one album?

She has also posted a total of 10 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart

... or a number single?

In addition, Ms Simpson recently released her first Christmas album. This CD is being offered exclusively at the approximately 5,800 7-Eleven retail stores...

That there are a lot of them doesn't make it any less awful that it's 7-Eleven - good god, even James Taylor, a man who sometimes needs ID to get through his own front door managed to snag doing that gig for Hallmark. The 7-11 Christmas album is like Danni Minogue doing a CD for Mace and Wavy Line.

There's then some stuff about all the TV programmes she's been on - guest on Oprah, guest on Letterman, yadda yadda, and then She was recently voted #1 in the Vh1/Maxim magazine 'Hot 100 list', which represents a ranking not only of beauty and sex appeal but also of popularity

Yes, amongst the one-handed readers of Maxim.

WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?: We know it's unlikely to phase Britney anyway, but we're a bit surprised Bowie and Snoop have got involved with the forthcoming cartoon version of The English Roses. Madonna, of course, donates all her royalties from the book to the Moonies de jour, The Kabbalah Centre, so however sweet the cartoon is, ultimately it's going to be promoting the place which claims its standard Canadian spring water can help cure cancer and whose Eliyahu Yardeni told an undercover reporter that the Jews brought the holocaust on themselves by not being all Kaballah'ed up.

POOR HEATHER: Having seen America's Next Top Model and knowing what a nasty place the catwalk world is, we wonder quite how Heather Mills got on when she was modelling. As it now seems she's wishing she never met Paul McCartney because of the criticism she attracts as a result.

Well, maybe some of it is unfair, but did the Larry King Live nightmare have anything to do with having met Paul, except in the roundabout way that she wouldn't have been quite as profiled-up if she hadn't? Isn't a lot of the criticism less because of who she met, more down to how she behaves and the choices she makes?

CLEAR: THE CANKER SPREADS: The twin missions of ensuring there's no view unencumbered by ambient advertising and flattening radio down to the point where it's so dull you need never switch it off isn't enough for Clear Channel. Oh no, they see other worlds to conquer, and are taking strides into flogging DVDs. Because, of course, CC care only about cutting costs to the bone ("synergy") their DVDs are going to be of concerts they put on, starting with the Trevor Horn. The man given the job of trying to make this sound all brilliant forever is Joe Townley:

"We want to be a player in the DVD market."

A DVD Player? Joe, how very last year. Everyone nowadays wants to be a DVD-R/Hard drive recorder combo at the very least. But there's more:

"DVD will be one of the company's largest growth areas this year. In 2005, we will exploit the ownership side of things on lots of levels. This music deal is the first one in place."

Presumably he means that there are also plans for them to release DVD collections 'The best of bus-stop single shot posters' for the Christmas market. But we look forward to watching CC "exploit the ownership side of things" until its eyes burst. Really we do.

OVERKILL KILL MANAGER; TOUR OVER: Probably, as DoneWaiting point out, it's because he was also their bookings guy, Urge Overkill have sacked their manager and as a result axed their tour. The curious thing is the band's own website desn't seem entirely sure what bookings they might have had made, beyond the support slot for Sign of the Fox at the Viper Room's "rose for the lady sir?" Valentine's gig:

We apologize for any inconvenience, but the Valentine's Day show at the Viper Room and any other US shows that may have been booked have been cancelled. UO has parted ways with their manager, and are currently writing new material and preparing to record the much-awaited new record! Their previous manager, Beth Winer, will be handling their affairs until a new full-time manager is found. Rest assured, however, that the U.R.G.E. train is still rolling and there are plenty of great things to come!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

THE WRONG SORT OF STARVING: There's nothing worst than being last month's concern, of course, but - bearing in mind I'll Stand By You, the Girls Aloud Pudsey-pushing yomp through the Pretenders' song is still hanging around the Top 40 weeks after its release, the sudden plummeting of Do They Know It's Christmas from six down to 31 suggests that Africa is so off the agenda now. Or maybe everyone thinks Gordon Brown's sorted that one out?

RALUPOP: It's like Popular, only backwards Yes, to celebrate (if that's the right word, and in so many ways it isn't) the 1000th British Number One single, we're ripping off NYLPM's Popular feature, only doing it backwards, and only until our heart runs cold and our fingers refuse to type. Which might not take very long.

1000: Elvis Presely - One Night.
The sort of thing which shows how short-sighted record companies are, really. It's almost a cute stunt, this re-releasing every Elvis number one, one-a-week, but in a crucially weakened singles market, it's the sort of idea that's almost designed to kill off any remaining interest in the format as surely as, say, bringing back Dirty Den would evaporate any sense of interest in EastEnders. Not only does it mean that we're looking at eighteen weeks when the number one slot is occupied by a guy who was dead before most of the Kid's grandparents were born, and any sense of competition for the number one slot totally crushed even before the release schedule has been posted up for the last six weeks; worse, it means that in a week when everyone is going to be putting in the eyepiece and inspecting the charts for its vital signs, instead of finding evidence of how British Youth is expressing itself through that most vital of forms, pop music, there's that bloke who died on the bog squatting at the top of the tree. People who don't pay much heed to the chart because it's viewed as being inherently broken will be having their suspiscions confirmed. RCA have done a nice little bit of grandstanding, done their Elvis back catalogue a bit of a gentle push - and in the process have done a load of harm to their wider industry.

What makes it worse, of course, is that it's a shit Elvis record, even by his standards. Nobody's heard of it, and when they do hear it, it's a plod with Elvis singing in that nasal tone which Bob Dylan was pretending was his real voice a few years back until we all threw bread rolls at him.

Our heart has gone cold, and our fingers refuse to type.

RALUPOP: It's like Popular, only backwards Yes, to celebrate (if that's the right word, and in so many ways it isn't) the 1000th British Number One single, we're ripping off NYLPM's Popular feature, only doing it backwards, and only until our heart runs cold and our fingers refuse to type. Which might not take very long.

1000: Elvis Presely - One Night.
The sort of thing which shows how short-sighted record companies are, really. It's almost a cute stunt, this re-releasing every Elvis number one, one-a-week, but in a crucially weakened singles market, it's the sort of idea that's almost designed to kill off any remaining interest in the format as surely as, say, bringing back Dirty Den would evaporate any sense of interest in EastEnders. Not only does it mean that we're looking at eighteen weeks when the number one slot is occupied by a guy who was dead before most of the Kid's grandparents were born, and any sense of competition for the number one slot totally crushed even before the release schedule has been posted up for the last six weeks; worse, it means that in a week when everyone is going to be putting in the eyepiece and inspecting the charts for its vital signs, instead of finding evidence of how British Youth is expressing itself through that most vital of forms, pop music, there's that bloke who died on the bog squatting at the top of the tree. People who don't pay much heed to the chart because it's viewed as being inherently broken will be having their suspiscions confirmed. RCA have done a nice little bit of grandstanding, done their Elvis back catalogue a bit of a gentle push - and in the process have done a load of harm to their wider industry.

What makes it worse, of course, is that it's a shit Elvis record, even by his standards. Nobody's heard of it, and when they do hear it, it's a plod with Elvis singing in that nasal tone which Bob Dylan was pretending was his real voice a few years back until we all threw bread rolls at him.

Our heart has gone cold, and our fingers refuse to type.

QUOITS THIS AFTERNOON? OR A SPOT OF SKAG ON THE POOP DECK?: So firmly has Iggy's Lust For Life become associated with Trainspotting now, it's a hugely surprising choice for Royal Carribean to use to soundtrack their cruise liner adverts. "All passengers are invited to join the Captain Table and share a needle..."

THEY ARE THE WORLD: America's Tsunami benefit telethon passed more-or-less smoothly, and in pretty much the way you'd expect. Madonna shuffled along to a studio to do a live-by-satellite version of 'Imagine', which never seems appropriate when sung by a multi-millionaire, even less so when it's one who's in thrall to a cash-guzzling cult. No religion and no possessions, eh, Maddy? What a crazy would that would be. The current over-sensitive state of the State Censors has lead to a blind panic over John Mayer's apparent swearage: network executives hitched their skirts and climbed atop chairs like the maid in Tom and Jerry at the possibility that rudeness might have crept onto the network - after all, the deaths of thousands and thousands of people might be bad, but nowhere near as awful as the thought of ladies and servants hearing the odd 'fuck'.

Talking of obscenity, the odious Bill O'Reilly popped up - O'Reilly had made some typically pug-headed and ill-considered remarks about how the money probably wouldn't end up going to help tsunami victims on his 'O'Reilly Blows It Out His Ass' programme on the Fox Network. Now, rather than behave like Billo would if he'd been criticised, George Clooney decided not to burn him in effigy, but instead invited him onto the telethon. So it was that Billo turned up to invite people to contribute - not the most startling sudden change of direction he's ever made (that would be when he swapped from saying he was going to sue the Andrea Mackris for accusing of him of sexual harrassment, and then suddenly paid her a huge sum of money to go away instead) but still quite a fascinating demonstration of just how totally inconsistent and poorly thought-out most of the stuff he blurts out to his Fox audience is. We're wondering if he's going to stick to his braying demand on his 6th January show that those taking part keep fully involved:

If George Clooney and other stars go on TV and ask you to give, then they had better be involved all the way down the line. Now I don't expect the celebrities to audit the books, but if problems are brought to their attention, they must help solve those problems.

NOT QUITE AS SMART AS HE THINKS: Glenn Ball from Pop! apparently has a great method for tempting ladies back to his flat, by mentioning he's got that most tired and suburban of sex toys, the Rampant Rabbit, in his nightstand. It's a little bit like admitting you're crap, though, isn't it? It's akin to saying "Come to my place, I'll cook you a meal. But there's also a pizza place that delivers."

HELPING OUT: In addition to the money Glastonbury provides every year for those well-intentioned organisations Oxfam, Greenpeace, Water Aid and The Mean Fiddler Organisation PLC, Michael Eavis is planning a spot of extra fundraising for a specific project to aid some of the tsunami survivors:

"I am trying to identify something like buying boats or constructing a causeway. I want a project which will improve the quality of life for those affected. I am not talking about a small sum of money but something that will be a substantial project, and I would like to go out there and see the progress being made on it."

This is actually a really good approach - faced with the sheer scale of what happened on the 26th of December, it can seem a bit daunting to know where to begin helping, and - especially as time moves on - it's not entirely clear how adding a few more quid to the large piles of money is going to actually, directly make a difference. Eavis is smart to look for something small but significant to target Glasto support and assistance on.

In other Glastonbury news, the licence for the 2005 event is up for discussion tomorrow evening.

CHEERY SATURDAY NIGHTS: It's true that ITV's Saturday night line-up is pretty pisspoor right now, with the old warhorses being wedged in between some sub-Its A Knockout gameshow presented by Charlie Brocket and another dreadful Ross Kemp SAS drama, but even so, we're not quite sure it's as desperate as the trails for it this week have been suggesting. Someone in the presentation department had decided that OMD's Enola Gay was the appropriate music bed for the rundown. That happy little tune about the American dropping a nuclear weapon on a civilian target during the second world war.

BLOOD MAKES NOISE: It's interesting quite the level of pre-publicity Garbage are doing a full quarter before the launch of Bleed Like Me. Presumably, there's a perceived need to remind people of their existence as they've been slightly-more-broken-up than we had been lead to believe: Butch Vig quit for four months:

"It's like we'd been married for ten years," he says, "and it was worth it to try one more time."

We're quite excited that there's going to be a more explicitly political edge to the new album, part of the growing reaction to the delivery of the 2004 election to the Republicans, and the Iraq War:

"You just start questioning everything after a while," Manson says. "You can't believe a fuckin' damn thing you see or hear. I got to the point where I felt like a real paranoid liberal."

CURIOUS: Much as we'd love to believe that Robbie's albums are nearly all being deleted is an indication that the inexplicable popularity of the gormless chump is starting to wane; however, we suspect there's some other motive, probably involving some sort of 'special edition' relaunch in a month or two.

STING GIVES SOMETHING BACK: We're not sure it's how we'd choose to try and cheer ourselves up after an enormous natural disaster, but Sting has helped raise USD50,000 by becoming the first big star to play Thailand since the tsunami. But, more importantly, he's put one over on Bono.

IT'S THE ROCK MUSIC WHICH IS TO BLAME: Police, generally, love a music festival - not only is there plenty of overtime and, apart from the Leeds festival, little prospect of anything real much to do, but their wages bill gets a lot of help from the organisers. Best of all, of course, there's loads of young kids with the little scrappy bits of drugs - easy to pick off, all count as a crime "cleared up", so it does wonders for the conviction rate. The only problem is, of course, all those drug offences you're suddenly 'solving' have a knock on effect onto other figures: so it is that picking off the T In The Park attendees with little bits of blow has made Perth and Kinross look like it's some sort of drugland: they've had an apparent 45% rise in drug offences since 1999.

SAYING HELLO AGAIN: The range of benefits of keeping a pet bird have expanded by one, with Marc Almond revealing that he was roused from his coma by someone playing him the CD that he usually played to his parrot. We're not entirely sure why he made a specific compilation for his parrot, and we don't know what was on it - Chicks on Speed, we suppose. We're also not sure who had the idea of playing Marc the parrot's CD - we like to think it was maybe the parrot - but it worked.

Athough he's recovering, Almond has got a way to go - in addition to the physical injuries, he's discovered his childhood stammer has returned, and his hair has, Leland Palmer style, turned grey overnight.