The death has been announced of Hideaki Sekiguchi, bassist with Guitar Wolf. Known to his fans as Billy, Sekiguchi's heart stopped on Wednesday night and he died later in a Tokyo hospital.
Signed to a Sony affiliate, Guitar Wolf had just got back to Japan after a massive US tour; they'd been due to play this week in Tokyo before heading off to Australia, but naturally the plans have been dropped.
Formed in 1987, the band became the three-piece Seiji, Toru and Billy in 1991; the line-up would remain unchanged until Billy's death. Their first US tour in 1993 lead the building of a solid American following; the next year they would appear on the cover of Maximum Rock & Roll. By 1997, they were adding Europe and SXSW to their world, and 1998 had them opening for The Cramps in Japan.
They got muddled up in a spot of international political bickering in 2001, when a planned appearance at a Korean-Japanese friendship festival was scrapped - along with the whole festival, and pretty much most friendship between the two nations. (Koreans had got the hump at Japanese school books written by right-wingers which justified their nation's behaviour while an occupying force in Korea.)
By 2003, after four albums for a major label and with their most recent work, UFO Romantics selling well worldwide, Guitar Wolf were the secret guests for The D4's Japanese tour. Away from home, they were working hard to establish a base in South America as well, managing a sell-out tour of Brazil and playing Argentina for the first time. Perhaps their oddest claim to fame, though, was they had their own brand of, um, bluejeans.
Hideaki Sekiguchi was 38.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
The death has been announced of Hideaki Sekiguchi, bassist with Guitar Wolf. Known to his fans as Billy, Sekiguchi's heart stopped on Wednesday night and he died later in a Tokyo hospital.
Of course, she might have picked up a few extra sales in the second half of the week, but Mariah's comeback single was flapping at the midweek stage. Although a number four position doesn't sound too bad, the actual sale of barely 10,000 isn't offering much hope for the expensive relaunch and enormous publicity circuit. Maybe the time is right for Mariah to consider retraining?
We really like the sound of the Barcelona Primavera Sound festival - not only because it shares its name with a pasta dish (wouldn't V2005 be so much more fun if it was called the Raviolifest?) but it's got Steve Earle (or Early, as they'd have it), New Order and something called "The Human" (we suspect that might be the Human League. We just wish they'd been a little less stingy and had a proper translator work on their press release:
Who would tell the organizers of the first edition of the Primavera Sound just five years ago that this would be one of the most prestigious music festivals of Spain and even of Europe. Considering the fact that year after year the festival has matured in quantity and quality it could not be otherwise.
The most important groups of the next edition, which will take place from the 26 until the 28 of May, will give the visitors an amazing experience. The punk will have its appearance at the festival through the presence of the veterans Iggy Pop & Stooges, New Order and The Human steps in to the festival as a reference to the English tecno-pop of the 80s, Steve Early arrives with The Dukes, while the American Sonic Youth repeats the experience after being demanded in the 2003 edition.
Not less important second level artists and national groups appear. As r representatives of our music, The Planets, Astrud, Christina Rosevinge and Nacho Vegas deserve a special attention.
As news, The Primavera Sound of 2005 incorporates a contest dedicated to the French music to its program. Dominique TO, Briggite Fontaine, Bertrand Betsch, Daniel Darc, The Married Monk, among others, are some of the abundant number of musicians of the neighbouring country that will approach Barcelona during three really promising days.
As a new contribution to the festival, the more than 70 bands that will participate in the festival will parade through the seven settings that will be used in the precinct of the Forum, space that will permit to enlarge the capacity compared to past editions, besides housing a Record Fair and of Professionals and the Primavera Soundtrack Film Festival.
Go on... you wouldn't want to spend the whole time listening to The Human, would you?
More from No Rock on iggy pop
Neil Young had pledged that he'd break the habit of a lifetime and play an awards show if the Canadian Juno awards ever went to his hometown of Winnipeg. They arranged to go there for their 2005 bash, and Young was going to keep his word. But then he started having blurry vision at an awards ceremony (ironically enough) and discovered he had a brain aneurysm. He's had surgery, but has had to pull his appearance. That's a jjourney to Winnipeg wasted for everyone, then. The good news is that Young is expected to make a full recovery.
Live at Redrocks DVD - even if you don't like Young, the scenery's great
The lawyer who worked with both the paid-off and the un-piad off accusers of Michael Jackson, Larry Feldman, has been giving evidence in the Jackson legal trial which is carrying on despite being eclipsed by 24/7 Old Dying Man Dying, Not Yet Dead coverage on the news channels.
Feldman declined to reveal how big the pay-off to Jordan was, saying merely the matter was "resolved in his favour", and also suggested that the Arvizo family hadn't been thinking of bringing a civil suit against Jackson at all.
Earlier, investigator Jeff Klapackis rejected claims that sending in 60 people to search Neverland was overdoing it; he pointed out that it's a big place and they only had a day to search it. Clearly, if you didn't have loads of people there there'd have been no time left over for a go on Jacko's big dipper. Klapackis admitted that there had been no traces of Gavin Arvizo's DNA found on Jackson's bedding - which means either Jackson has been unfairly accused, or he's a child molester who at least changes his sheets from time to time.
The defense have called for a mistrial for about the sixty-ninth time; this time they're suggesting that prosecution witnesses are discussing the case outside the courtroom. Perhaps, but some of the defense witnesses are doing monologues about the case on network telly.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Ted Nugent has won a huge-ish payout from concert organisers who kicked him off the 2003 Muskegon Summer Celebration after he used a "racist term". Nugent didn't deny using the phrase, but claimed he was merely repeating something a black musician had said about him as a compliment; the court found in his favour and awarded him USD100,000 for loss of earnings. Coyly, the BBC report doesn't say what the word was, but I guess we can be sure it wasn't 'redneck'.
Or does Avril Lavigne's new look suggest she took a Buffy magazine into a store and said "could you make me look like her?"
More from No Rock on avril lavigne
You'd have thought that Sanctuary Records - normally seen as one of the more sane of the music industry corportations - would have been delighted that anyone cared enough about Kelly Osbourne as to spend their time making a website about her. You'd also have thought they'd be savvy enough not to be heavy-handed about a slight breach of copyright here and there.
You'd be wrong. They've grabbed kellyosbourne.org; unless this is all a rather lame April Fool:
To Web Administrators of KellyOsbourne.org:
We here by produce an injunction by our law offices to discontinue services to this Web. This Web, KellyOsbourne.org, has broken a contractual agreement with Sanctuary Records Group (SRG). This excerpt is taken from SRG's 'Terms of Obligation' from the legal offices:
"All audio or audio-visual recordings ("Recordings") that were on this Website are protected by copyright laws by Sanctuary Records. You may not under any circumstances reproduce, record, publish, publicly exhibit, distribute, diffuse broadcast transmit or exploit any Recordings made for our artists."
This Web, KellyOsbourne.org, will no longer be available do to the postings of media that is copyrighted to SRG. The music video for Kelly Osbourne's "One Word" is copyrighted to SRG and its affiliates; posting of this video from 25 March through 27 March was illegal and action has been taken.
Joe Cokell, CEO.
Also, Joe, if you start a letter without the name of the person you're writing to, it's Yours Sincerely, not Yours truly.
Meanwhile, can it really be true that the new Kelly album includes the line "If you could imagine the fuckin' look on my face / When I finally realised I was the victim of date rape" - possibly the most clunking consideration of date rape since one of Musgraves was supposed to have drugged Jennifer Ellison's sister in Brookside that time.
The Booker Prize judges for 2006 are going to have an easy time of it, for surely no book is going to outgun Louis Walsh's autobiography, which he's just been signed up to write for a "six figure sum". Walsh is threatening bean-spillage - but then he would for GBP100,000, wouldn't he?:
"Not one of them is safe. It is going to be warts and all. Sex, drugs, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives - everyone is in the firing line.
"I have been offered a lot of money to do it but I won't be writing it for at least another year because I'm tied up with the X Factor and Westlife's new album."
You know what, Louis? Why not prioritise the book over those other projects. There's a chance the book might be entertaining.
How better to desecrate your colleague's memory than to not only suggest they're totally replaceable, but replaceable through the three-ring circus that is a TV reality show? Bad enough Lisa Lopes and Michael Hutchence being demeaned in this way, but now Janis Joplin is being dug and thrown around. Ironically, the band of which she was once a member, and who are looking for a new singer via a telly-gawk-off, are called Big Brother.
Janis Joplin's corpse was unavailable for comment due to excessive rotation.
The tickets for Glastonbury go on sale this Sunday at 9am, which probably means the system will be melting down before the end of the Broadcasting House news summary, we guess. No, of course not: Michael Eavis says everything will be fine this time round. Good luck. If you do get tickets, you'll be able to enjoy The White Stripes who have confirmed they're Friday's headliners. Except, when we say "enjoy", you'll actually be lying on your back under a mushroomed-up Goth in a tent the wrong side of the Green Field when they're on, but someone'll Sky Plus the TV coverage for you. Not coverage of the goth sex. Of the White Stripes.
Mmmm. The man who single-handedly turned the Smashing Pumpkins from a bunch of good-natured kids into a misery seminar you hadn't prepared for is about to release his first solo album. There's not really any sense that Billy Corgan will be looking to lose his reputation as one of the most po-faced men in pop when he releases Thefutureembrace (all one word) on June 21st. Even his happy albums sound like work:
“I tried to sum up all my feelings about my life and the world around me in the most beautiful ways I could dream up. It is easy to be negative, and much harder to find that silver lining behind the clouds of modern society."
Here's a positive point, then: there's still nearly three months for someone to discover a copyright problem and pulp the whole lot.
More from No Rock on pulp
Garbage have made their live comeback at London Scala, being beefed up with added bassist, Janes Addiction guy Eric Avery (not, we understand, heir to the sticky label fortune). Manson was wearing a black, backless evening dress and kitten heels. Off which she fell.
That setlist in full:
Hammering In My Head
Shut Your Mouth
Bleed Like Me
I Think Im Paranoid
Only Happy When It Rains
When I Grow Up
Why Do You Love Me?
-and, for the encore
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)’
Sex Is Not The Enemy
Right Between The Eyes
Meanwhile, Shirley's gone a little Louise Wener on us and done the "I only get called outspoken because society is sexist" bit:
"I don't know why I have this reputation. It's probably because I'm opinionated and not shy about saying what I feel.
"Women, of course, are supposed to be a certain way and the record industry would still have us act in a way that appeals to frustrated schoolboys.
"Look at someone as incredibly talented as COURTNEY LOVE. Men have behaved in exactly the same way as she has and they've been idolised for it, or at worst have gained some kind of sympathy."
While totally agreeing that women do get a raw deal in the music industry - they do in most other industries, too - is the bit about Courtney right? Hasn't she got away with a hell of a lot more because she's a woman (or, at least, a widow)? It's hard to think of any bloke with such a small number of records sold who'd still be given the run of a recording studio after so much misbehaviour.
And Shirley's not happy with Bush, either:
"It makes me so sad to think about all the seriously committed gay couples who are struggling and fighting for the right to enter into the institution of marriage.
"Meanwhile silly little girls like Nicky Hilton are able to make an absolute mockery of it and, besides the odd raised eyebrow or two, totally get away with it just because they're heterosexual. It's so unjust.
"I find it abhorrent that anybody should be able to tell somebody how they can live their life.
"Nobody, in the America I know, is represented by the Bush administration."
You might want to ask around the next time you're in the record label, Shirl...
The Admiral Insurance Rafe Against The Machine, Papa Roach have announced a "tour" of the UK:
12 Donington Park Download Festival
21 Glasgow Barrowlands
22 Wolverhampton Wulfrun
23 London Astoria
Free entry to anyone who turns up wearing a Mr Wimpy outfit.
If you've more than half a thinking bone in your body, you'll love the Pipettes. And you'll be happy they're touring:
10th London The Garage (supporting Quasi)
15th Cork Cyprus Ave (supporting The Go! Team!)
16th Dublin Whelans (supporting The Go! Team!)
17th Belfast Limelight (supporting The Go! Team!)
25th London ICA (supporting Sleater-Kinney)
5th London LSE
9th London Barfly
More from No Rock on sleater-kinney
It seems we've been wrong: all the time we believed that the RIAA and BPI were crying wolf when they said the music industry was in danger of collapse, and they were telling the truth: The Sunday Times' music rich list has been published and things are so bad in the music industry, this is the top five:
1. Robbie Williams - £126
2. Elton John - £74
3. Noel Gallagher - £5.78 and some Euros left over from a trip to Wales that it turned out he didn't need
4. That bloke with the guitar outside the co-op - 39p
5. Elaine Graham, from the CD counter at Basingstoke Asda - 10p
Oh, actually, we're wrong: Clive Calder is worth £1.3bn, money mainly made from selling Zomba to Sony-BMG. Then there's Macca, £800m; Andrew Lloyd-Webber, £700m; Cmaeron Mackintosh, £400m.
Going down is Simon Fuller, whose 19 company turned out to have been overvalued - the poor sod now has to try and put together his life with just £75m.
Interestingly, very few of the richest people in music actually make music. Indeed, in order to try and interest the general public, the Times has produced a "Young Music Millionaire" list which features names people have heard of - Joss Stone is worth five million; oddly, Daniel Bedingfield is on there (he's rich?) while so is Victoria Beckham (she's involved in music?).
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Striding up to battle, wearing either a skimpy bikini or one of those metal breast plate things, comes Britney Spears, with a letter to, um, the False Tabloids: (We suspect this might be a reference to those papers which have gone tabloid but pretend they're actually 'compacts'):
"Dear False Tabloids,
As you read this letter, I bet you are asking yourself: Who? Who, me? Am I a false tabloid? Well, I don't know. But after this posting, I hope you are asking yourself a lot of questions. Your employees are a reflection of your magazine. Do you, Us Weekly, In Touch, Star and other desperate magazines want employees who are honest, or those who are liars? It seems to me that you'd prefer the latter. I'm really concerned about the people you hire to work at your companies. I'd like them to ask themselves the question, 'What am I lying to myself about?' Is it that you are 50 pounds overweight? Is it that your children aren't making wise decisions? Or is it maybe that your husband or boyfriend is cheating on you? Until you face what is going on in your life, I guess you'll remain a false tabloid."
There's something interesting here - Brittney seems to suggest the motivation the tabs have for making stuff up is that, erm, they're fat, with straying husbands and kids who have quit college for a life of daytime soaps and smack. We're not sure how a newspaper is corporately overweight (although trying to poke a Sunday Times through a cottage letterbox gives us a hint), but we suspect this might be more revealing about what's important in Britney's life than the make-up of the magazines she's complaining about.
Apparently, Delta Goodrem was prepared to leap into some knickers and bras to flog her new "lingerie" line; but Brian McFadden put his tiny foot down. Brian claimed he was afraid it would ruin Delta's "girl next door" image if she posed in scanties.
That would be a girl next door with her own underwear line, of course.
Obviously, there's something else going on here: perhaps Brian's just upset about the idea of his "girlfriend" dancing round semi-naked in front of the camera (although that's hard to believe in a man who was married to one of Atomic Kitten); so we can only conclude that this is tit for tat. She's obviously banned him from dressing up in her underwear, so he's making the same demand.
John Crosby of Vast has issued a statement that adds him to those disilluisioned with the RIAA-industry:
First I want to thank all of you for the support you have shown me through the last few years. I can't tell you how much it means.
We have been contemplating whether or not to fill you in on what has been happening over the last few months and have decided that you probably would like to know. We hope this email will answer all your questions?
We thought that after Elektra folded that we should go out on our own and start our own label, but we thought that somehow there were barriers to us being able to achieve all that we wanted to do on our own. We were wrong. We were approached by 456 Entertainment and licensed Nude to be released through them. Unfortunately, the promise of that situation proved false. I'm just tired of watching all the money you guys spend on Vast going to someone else.
From now on I am going to make records I believe in and promote them the way that I see fit. It's time for a change.
We signed a distribution deal and now 2blossoms (our label) has the ability to release records in stores everywhere.
We are putting the finishing touches on Nude 2, which will have different mixes and vocal takes on ten of the songs people who bought Turquoise and Crimson heard. There are two brand new songs as well. Everyone who buys Turquoise and Crimson will get a free good quality download of Nude 2. I hope you can understand that there are a few reasons we are putting out Nude 2 other than I think it sounds good and I?m proud of it. One; those songs were never released to people in stores, which still accounts for the majority of people and two; we want to re-release Nude through our own label. Nude 1 and 2 (full version) will hit stores in June. We will have a final release date by the middle of April.
Mike and I have been working on 20 brand new songs, which we are recording right now. We plan to release this record in the fall. It is my main focus.
For people who did not receive their Turquoise and Crimson double CD; there was a box of broken CDs, so we sold about 200 more than we had. We did a second printing and have since sent them to you. We didn?t write everyone about it because we thought the error would only push things back a week. Because I do not trust working with an outside fulfillment system I have started my own company. The learning curve has been steep but I think this will work out better than how things have been over the last few months. We will do anything to remedy the problems. We understand that if you are dissatisfied you will not order from us again so we hope you understand we have nothing to gain by these problems.
Without you we are nothing. With you we are something. If we only believed in ourselves more a year and a half ago all of this could have been avoided.
Fortunately we are free now and we get to move on. Ironically we are in the best possible situation we could ever be in. I guess sometimes we all need to go through bad times to get to the good times. Take care and thank you.
While Brandon might think Franz Ferdinand are real, Kaiser Chiefs chief Richard Wilson isn't impressed with them:
"It's pop. Franz Ferdinand are pop. Some people think they've got some hidden, cool art thing. They haven't. It's just pop music."
Richard, sweetheart: What's the problem with pop music? How can stand there in front of us and use a phrase like "just pop music"? Begone from our sight now; you clearly don't realise that pop music - done well - is amongst the highest calling.
More from No Rock on franz ferdinand
Surely the most puzzling thing about Brandon Flowers' attack on the Bravery is his belief that The Killers are themselves so distinctive anyone who sounds a little like them must have copied them:
"Look at a band like the Bravery. They're signed because we're a band. I've heard rumors about [members of] that band being in a different kind of band, and how do you defend that? If you say, 'My heart really belongs to what I'm doing now,' but you used to be in a ska band. I can see the Strokes play or Franz Ferdinand play and it's real, and I haven't gotten that from the Bravery. I think people will see through them."
These are words that will come back to haunt him when he releases that gospel album...
More from No Rock on franz ferdinand
Ana Matronic is taking a sabbatical - yes, already - from the Scissor Sisters to concentrate on sideproject I Love You. ILY is a band she does with her husband, like Peters and Lee:
"I'm in a band with my husband Seth called I Love You and I'm focusing on that for most of this year. It's mainly electronic-based and quite different from Scissor Sisters."
Although it's always going to be getting OJ set free that he'll be remembered for (any news yet on how OJ's hunt for the "real" killer of his wife is going, by the way?) but it's also worth recalling Johnnie Cochran's music cases. The 67 year old, who died of a brain tumour on Tuesday, successfully represented Snoop Dogg in his murder trial and helped Tupac get off on a weapons charge (a lot of good that did him); more recently, he's been taking on music by representing Rosa Parks in her case against Outkast.
More from No Rock on snoop dogg
Jesus, that Ozzy is an unlucky sod - quadbike accidents, jewel thieves, recording duest with Kelly, and now: a fire in their home in Buckinghamshire. It probably shouldn't be that surprising - Ozzy has the look of the guy from the flat downstairs who you're convinced that one day will kill you trying to grill Pot Noodles when he comes home drunk at three am. Fire experts believe that the blaze was caused - like hundreds of others this month - by someone putting a foot through the TV screen when Sharon's Asda ad comes on.
We can understand that Tweet thinks that starting you career with a wank-song might be a stumbling block rather than a launchpad:
AP: Do you think "Ooops!" gave people the wrong impression of you?
Tweet: Definitely. "Ooops!," it happened so quickly. That wasn't even supposed to be the first single. I think we should have dived into the other songs on the album that made sense, and I think that's what messed up the whole thing on the last album. But this time, with this album, we're not going to do that. ... "Turn Da Lights Off" (her new song with Missy Elliott) is a great intro to what the album is about. It's a great album about soul music, and I don't want to steer anybody wrong with what kind of artist I am. I think the world really thought I was a hip-hop artist from the first single. We're not going to make that mistake the second time.
We do wonder, though, that having a cartoon character name might not have helped much, either.
Anyway, there's a new album:
We're sure this isn't part of the marketing push to try and make Oasis seem cutting-edge and relevant, and it is just a terrible accident that Lyla, the comeback single, has "leaked" onto the internet. Don't download it - not because it's illegal, just because it's wrong.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
We're deeply impressed with Adnan, who tipped us off to the McDonalds story earlier - we asked if he knew who the artists who had taken Seagrams cash were, and within an hour he brough us this:
50 cent 40 ounce
As part of its strategy to shackle the inner-city market, Seagrams produced this masterful ad for "Malcom X Malt liquor", featuring the NY rapper 50 cent. The campaign was timed to coincide with the release of 50 cent's collaborative effort with DJ WhooKid , You Want Beef With Me?, and featured the following remarkable lines:
I got a 40 in my hand and fin' ta start drinkin' shit
I'm the nation's new Malcom X but I ain't militant.
The conspiratorial denunciations from the Black Nationalist intellegentsia that the song was a crude attempt to dumb-down the legacy of Malcom X -- met with ridicule in the mainstream media -- were not entirely without foundation. Inmates present during 50 cents frequent trips to the pen have since claimed that the questionable hard-school rapper had been involved with the 5-Alivers, a front black muslim group used by the CIA as a recruiting base for ghetto-side operations.
... and this:
Snoop’s hit “Gin and Juice” extols Tanqueray and Seagrams gin. Sales of both allegedly go up after the song scores high on the charts.
"Freak-A-Leek" by Petey Pablo/Jermain Dupri/ Twista
(" Now I got to give a shout out to Seagrams gin/'Cause I'm drinkin' it and they payin' me for it.")
At least that last one is honest.
More from No Rock on 50 cent
The most astonishing thing about The Killers being sued by their former drummer is buried in this explanation by Brandon Flowers:
"This guy who was in my band a long time ago is trying to sue us. We wrote Mr Brightside a long, long time ago, when we had a different drummer.
"He had nothing to do with it, but his wife is a lawyer, so she just sent a letter to our lawyer. You always hear about people coming out of the woodwork once you get big, but this is wow."
A drummer who ended up married to a lawyer? How does that happen? It's like a fairy story of some kind.
Flowers' story does square with the popular history of the band:
David Keuning (Guitars), placed an add in a local Vegas Weekly looking for a singer who was into Oasis and Bowie. “He [Brandon] was the only person to reply to my ad who wasn’t a complete freak,” remembers Dave, “He came over with his keyboard and we started going through song ideas straight away. I had the verse to “Mr Brightside” and he went away and wrote the chorus. That was the first song we wrote together and remains the only song that we’ve played at every single Killers show”
Pharrell Williams seemed pretty certain that NERD had ceased to exist as a musical unit. His manager, however, doesn't seem to have got the news, and has made Pharrell issue a statement, uh, denying the band was in pieces:
"N*E*R*D is still very much a band. We are playing a show together in Japan in two weeks. And we continue to appreciate the support from all our fans."
After that, the grainy footage became too unclear to be certain, but there did appear to be the sound of someone being hit by a rifle butt.
Ann Maurice writes: Trent, you've got a great property here, it's a wonderful place but your best chance of finding a buyer is to go for the family market; and families don't want pigs heads on spikes in their bedroom... no, Trent, no... to you this is a pain-room of punishment, but for the family market you're trying to sell into, this is a rumpus room. You need to lose the rubber wallpaper and replace the chains with some lighting...
Trent Reznor has finally off-loaded his New Orleans house for USD1.8million. "It really was worth spending the money on scatter cushions for the mausoleum room," he admitted "although I still think Ann was wrong about the slaughter of the innocents mural in the kitchen."
Well, at least you can't call them the type to take a hint. After last years' collapse, and a lukewarm 2003 (corporate sponsorship and absurd ticket prices generated a massive disillusioned stay-away), they're trying lollapalooza again. This time, a static two-day festival in Chicago at the end of July. If...only... they...can...resist...the...sponsorship...
Of course, now that Rick Rubin is going to be working with Neil Diamond, everyone's going to be claiming to have always liked him. But we have. Apparently the album is going to take Diamond back to his rawer, songwriting roots and should be due sometime towards the winter. Peter Kay has not been asked to appear in any videos for the project.
Bad enough that Jennifer Lopez drapes herself in fur and uses it in her clothing company Sweetface's products; now it emerges that J-Lo is trying to censor criticism of her as well. PETA had planned to run an open letter to her in Billboard; now, mysteriously, the ad has been refused; PETA believe that J-Lo forced the magazine to nix to advert.
Might be thick, might be selfish. But not without influence. This is her, then.
In pretty much the same way that Fay Weldon flogged her credibility as an author to the Bulgari jewellery people, McDonalds are inviting rap acts to sign away their artistic honour. McDonalds have made an open offer to rap acts that, if they write a song which mentions their chopped up cow products, and it gets paid on the radio, they'll give the act a quid or so. For each play.
That's how cheaply McDonalds value integrity - they're only going to pay a quid for it. For McDonalds, of course, this is more than a bargain: it's way cheaper than buying a radio spot, and they're infiltrating editorial. Added to which, if the song is a hit, then there's going to be club pay, tv play, people humming their adverts on the streets - all for free. It's a rotten deal all round - though that's not how McD are spinning it:
"That payment strategy not only limits the risk for McDonald’s, or any other brand looking to partner up with music acts, but also encourages artists to produce a hit song. “At the end of the day, this has to work for the brands, and we want to deliver quantitative results,” Mr. Rome said. “The risk involved for upfront payment is all eliminated. If an artist isn’t able to deliver [a hit], there’s no out-of-pocket cost to the client. You pay for performance.” A hit song also means more than just radio airplay, which could extend the reach of the brand. “If a song is getting a lot of airplay, there’s a strong likelihood it will be played in clubs, be downloaded, be turned into a ringtone and sell more CDs,” Mr. Rome said. Because radio play is easier to track, brands only pay artists when their song is spun by a station. Maven can also track how many times a song plays on satellite radio..."
Apparently this seedy little trick has already been pulled for Seagrams Gin.
Sorry, guys, we don't think they're backdating.
Thanks to Adnan for the links.
What we don't quite understand about the Jonathan King case: we've read dozens of times where people who believe they're the victims of miscarriages of justice remain in prison long after they could have been paroled, because they refuse to accept their guilt. It's the admission of guilt which is seen as first step on the road to rehabiltation.
And yet King is out on parole, loudly proclaiming that he is 100% innocent. How did that happen? Was the prison service that sick of him?
The fall from grace of two 80s icons (and Guy Ritchie, although he never really achieved grace, to be honest) is documented in the New York Post, who reach for the 'It's Bad' headline to cover the Jacko judgement, and run with Madonna and Guy's dressing up as the Pope hijinks as their main story:
Bet Guy's really pleased he didn't go with the comedy breathing tube now, though. The New York Daily News, meanwhile, runs with Macauly Culkin:
Funny how the papers alwasy run a picture of Culkin from Home Alone and not the current sleeping-under-bridges/fourth member of Hanson look Culkin has, isn't it? The News also frets over iPod thefts "soaring" on the subway - which, of course, they are; but so is iPod use on the subway. It's unclear that this is "new" crime; just criminals adapting to something new to pinch, in the same way that mobile phone theft is squillions of times more common now than it was in 1975.
USA Today belatedly realises that, hey, American Idol is about making the makers of the programme rich:
Back in Britain, and Jonathan King is the main focus of our tabloids:
"King boasts that his victims got what they wanted" - presumably a reference to cash brokered by Max Clifford rather than sex with him: surely nobody could want that, could they?
The Daily Mirror demands its readers call the police if they see King with "anyone under the age of 18"; the Sun, meanwhile, merely requests that people don't put any cash into King's pockets - we always knew Rebekah Wade was soft on celebmolesters.
From the Star, though, it's just a spot of name-calling:
Sick indeed. Of course, there's no double-standards at the Star, with its "Charlotte Church topless pic hell" (apparently her tits are zooming from mobile phone to mobile in the valleys thanks to the power of picture messaging) and Nikki Sanderson Candice from Corrie - apparently now launched in orange flavour; after all, they're both grown ups now, aren't they? It's not, like Macauly, they're always lodged as schoolgirls in the public mind, is it?
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Suzanne Shaw stands in a bikini on the cover of Reveal, promising to share with us how she managed to lose so much weight so quickly. I'm sorry, but even if the only trousers I could fit into were once worn by Cyril Smith, I don't think I'd want to embark on any diet that would require me to have sex with Darren Day and then split up with him.
The Guardian Friday Review on 18th March had a curious encounter with Beck - pretty much most of what you'd expect (mild mannered, quirky, etc), but then, for no apparent reason, there's a tiny deviation into religion. After mentioning his mother and father were members of the made-up religion, there's a brief paragraph:
"Beck has recently become a Scientologist. His wife, the actor Marissa Ribisi, is a member of the church-cult and some hold that Beck was brought up as a Scientologist before lapsing for a decade in his 20s. But he hasn't led a secluded life.
And then we're back onto the new album. All this is very curious - why would there suddenly be a mention of Beck's religion without any real motivation - and if it was worth mentioning, shouldn't there have been some sort of question about it? (Like "it's a cult, isn't it?") Surely the interview wasn't given solely on the promise there would be a quick, unquestioning plug for L Ron Hubbard's quiz-waving adminstrators?
(If that was the case, even then someone managed to be unhappy about it - this week's Review carried a letter from a scientoligist, indignant at that "he hasn't led a secluded life" bit. "I am a scientologist and my life has been anything but secluded" protested the letter writer.)
The Saturday Review gave Hywel Williams the task of ploughing through Boy George's Straight. (And if, as George protested to the Daily Mirror, he isn't obsessed with being gay, how come both volumes of his autobiography have had "I'm gay, me" puns as their titles?). Williams, unwittingly, puts his finger on George's modern problem: "George's gayness was an admirably frightening commodity..." - that's exactly it; but nowadays surplus supply has left that commodity struggling to find a place in the market.
And, while we're working our way through the Guardian supplements, yesterday's MediaGuardian gave space to Jonathan King to moan about the way his case was covered. It's interesting that the man seemed so put-out about press coverage yesterday, but today on his release King was playing up to the same journalists to try and plug his awful, ill-judged record. If you want to be a dancing bear, you can't complain when the chain is yanked, can you?
To be fair to him: when he points out that things would have been different had he been fucking underage girls instead of boys, you only have to think of Bill Wyman to agree; and a prosecution lead by Max Clifford seems to be a victory for prurience rather than jurisprudence. Clifford is very frank about his role in King's downfall: "Yes, I would plead guilty. I've done everything I could to show up Jonathan King for what he really is. I'm very happy to have succeeded in some small way. The men who came to see me [about King] went to the police and I have a letter in my office from the chief of police in Surrey thanking me for my help in bringing him to justice. In my experience, paedophiles always try to justify themselves and never show remorse. I spent a great deal of time with his victims. They all came to me, I never went looking."
Although, is it just us, or is there something a little odd about someone deciding to report being abused to a publicist rather than the police? Not that any of this excuses what King did - and, indeed, King doesn't even seem to want to have his transgressions excuse - but the whole thing winds up as that saddest of things: a victorless crime.
The Observer's March Music Monthly led with Jerry Lee Lewis, taking us back to a time when even heterosexual underage sex was frowned upon: It was 1957 when the public learnt that the 22-year old star's third wife Myra was also his 13-year-old cousin. Jerry Lewis tried to assuage the anger, explaining the marriage might not be valid as he had never divorced his first wife. Meanwhile, they bring the whole having sex with minors thing up to date by asking the people holding the big "We love you Michael" signs up outside Santa Barabara courthouse what drives their devotion. Apparently, "this is serious. It's going to affect how the world sees America." Well, yes. With oil-drilling about to start in the Arctic circle, tax cuts for the richest and misery for the poorest, not to mention the whole Iraq adventure, that so many people are prepared to throw their jobs in to protest about someone receiving what appears to be a perfectly fair trial does, indeed, lend some colour to how the rest of the world views the US. Luckily, though, we do know you're not all like that.
Tom Waits nominates his 20 favourite albums of all time: Sinatra's In The Wee Small Hours, Cohen's I'm Your Man and, just when you think it's going to all a bit predictable, Bohemian-Moravian Bands by Texas-Czech.
The magazine takes Johnny Borrell to meet Dr Brian Wells, a pop psychiatrist - in the sense of he works with musicians, that is. Borrell is stroppy; while psychologist Nancy Sobel tries to claim that bands see taking a psych on tour as "a sign that they've made it" - we'd rather go with the groupies and toilet seat flunkies ourselves - Borrell seems a bit jumpy about opening his mind up to anyone. Understandable, given recent events. And he's not entirely sure about the OMM, either, as Paul Morley described Razorlight as being like Radiohead vomitting up Busted.
The rest of the band open up more easily, though. Bjorn Agren, especially, seems to sing just a little too much: 'It's not like we're bestest friends in the world,' he says. 'We are four individuals ... sometimes it feels like four freaks, because we each have our own idiosyncrasies. There was a lot of resentment to start with because there would be interviews and we'd not even be mentioned, and sometimes I feel like a marionette on stage because Johnny will decide to finish a song and we all have to stop. Compare and contrast with Borrell's statement: 'I try to explain to people that I do write all the lyrics,' he says. 'I do write all the melodies and I do write all the songs but it's not Johnny Borrell, it's Razorlight and Razorlight is Johnny Borrell but Razorlight is something else as well ...'
Fast-Forward artist is MIA. Do you think we'll be able to get through a piece on her without mentioning the Elastica connection? Arulpragasam ended up designing the sleeve for Elastica’s final album, The Menace, and she went on tour with the band in the US as a documentary maker. It's a worrying sign that almost a year in, and she's still having to rely on the Elastica link for writers to have any sort of hook to hang a piece on.
What is Piers Morgan listening to? Surely a man with his head so far up his own arse would only be able to hear internal organs gurgling away? Oh, apparently he likes Jamie Cullum. The sound of a bubbling spleen would be preferable.
Over at the NME, Gwen Stefani is on the cover, looking as usual - like Tussaurds had to get their partially melted Madonna doll dressed in a bomb-damaged Mark One.
There's some splendid pictures of the Ian Brown violence gig in Frisco.
Peter Robinson meets Casey Spooner, the Brian Kracow lookalike from Fischerspooner. Spooner once took a Scientology test and although "I can't remember what my chart was like I would imagine creatively I was off the Richter scale." Yes, we'd imagine so - after all, an earthquake off the richter scale would be frightening, destructive, heartbreakingly pointless and completely without a sense of its own horror.
There's an update on the state of Bez's finances: pretty poor, as most of it goes to the taxman, but not as bad as those of Shaun Ryder. Alvin Hall suggests the pair of them do more reality TV, as it's where the money is "for those with no skillset."
The disturbing KidzBop - MiniPops without the TV programme to draw attention to their paedo-playground-plans - gets a profiling, and probably a slot on the Jackson tour (acquital permitting).
Gwen Steffani claims the "tick-tock" refrain of What You Waiting For was "the intense clattering of her biological clock" (and you pity the poor sod who had to mic that up).
"Is this man the new Jarvis?" asks the headline on an interview with Eddie Argos from Art Brut. If they mean is he going to replace the shockingly inept rail maintance-to-PFI company as a public hate figure, it's possible. If they're suggesting he's going to replace Mr. Cocker, we have a spot of laughing out of town to do.
razorlight - manchester apollo - "the spotlight barely leaves Borrell"
camden crawl - tom vek is "naggingly addictive"; towers of london are "evil" and The Buzzcocks are "drunk as lords."
bassment jaxx - the singles - "should have called the remixers in", 4
do me bad things - yes - "could be the yts queens of the stone age", 6
totw - yeti - never lose our sense of wonder - "you have made my week sing"
and that's it. Just in time for next week's nme. This week's nme. Whatever. Royal Mail permitting.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
So, the jackson trial has started to get interesting again with a see-sawing of the advantage: The long awaited fingerprint evidence did indeed suggest that Jackson and the accuser had read the same copies of Hustler and Barely Legal; on the other hand, they'd not been abel to find prints from both of the same page. (But then these magazines are designed to be held with a single hand, surely?) To make matters for the prosecution worse, Judge Melville refused to allow computer porn to be introduced as evidence.
Then, key prosecution witness Christopher Eric Carter managed to get himself arrested in Las Vegas. In the grand jury hearing, Carter claimed to have seen Jackson and the boys pissed and stumbling around Neverland while working as a security guard at Neverland. Unfortunately, since he left Jackson's employment, it's alleged that he's spent time holding people hostage and robbing them, which is why he's being held in Las Vegas. Even if he can get himself up to the trial, his testimony is going to look a little less credible now.
However, the prosecution will be pleased with Monday's ruling that past history can be used as part of their case. It looks like Jordy Chandler's pay-off is about to run out; more oddly, people who claim "that Jackson was seen licking the head of a boy during a trans-Atlantic flight and that he was observed in bed with a child while his and the child's underpants were lying next to the bed."
The defense dismiss such claims, but at least acknowledhe the scale of evidence about to be coming towards them: these are "a gang" of liars.
While the world waits for the possibility of Macauly Culkin being forced to testify, they've made do with the presence of George Lopez - apparently a commedian of some sort. Lopez's testimony, and that of his wife, told the court that the family of the accuser - and most particularly the father - seemed to be more interested in money than helping his son.
Away from the courtroom, Jesse Jackson found some time in between wading into the Terri Schiavo case (something which should have been settled many weeks ago) to interview Michael. Michael claimed that he was the victim of a similar sort of "conspiracy" that led to imprisonment of Nelson Mandela. Um... Michael, Nelson Mandela was actually guilty of the crime he was accused of: you do know that, don't you? Indeed, Mandela went out of his way to break the law, because he didn't recognise the legitimacy of the State. Are you really trying to tell us that you, too, are guilty, having gone out of your way to abuse children as you don't recognise the legitimacy of the United States constitution? Or are you just twittering pity-me nonesense?
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I have something in common with Gareth Gates: we both have projects for the summer. I intend to compile a list of all the great supermarket TV adverts from our time (including, of course, "Le-Le-Le-Le-Le-Leos/O-O-Ohhh!" and "you'll be/impressed/at Presto"); Gareth is planning to release a comeback single. Neither of us will get any thanks for our efforts; indeed, both of us will only open ourselves up to ridicule and the suggestion that we are broken men pursuing senseless dreams. On the bright side, at least with mine, I'll have the lyric to "Safe-way/Everything you want from a store/and a little bit more" to play with and so will at least have something entertaining to take away from it all.
We're not entirely sure that Courtney Love is the right person to play Linda Boreman
We know she can dye her hair for the part, and the porn bit won't be any trouble for her - but is Courtney really going to be convincing as an anti-porn campaigner? Somehow, we can't see it. And, to be honest, it's a bit of an insult to her to make a biopic under the name she rejected, and featuring an actress who also played Larry Flynt's wife in the People Versus Larry Flynt: surely everything Boreman spent her life fighting against, once she got it back?
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Desperate not to be thought of as a shit role model for women who live real lives, Victoria Beckham has issued a statement claiming that she hasn't been "on a mad diet" to get her dangerously and unattractive stick profile back after the new baby had escaped from her cramped womb:
"She hasn't been on a mad diet. She has been working really hard in the gym and feels great.
"The aim of any new mum is to fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans and Victoria is delighted to do that. But she is keen for other young mums to know she has not been on a crazy diet. It's about healthy eating."
Actually, the aim of most new mums is to try and get a bit of sleep and to spend time with their kid; perhaps avoiding the odd bit of sick and poo if they can. And probably not dragging off down the gym. And, we suspect, Victoria is more obsessed with trying to fit into preteen jeans rather than prepregnancy jeans. We're sure she'll be issuing a full factsheet detailing exactly what the magic "healthy eating" is that has returned her so quickly to the pre-pregnancy shape.
The U2 world tour has got off to a delayed start, after illness meant the first night got relocated from Miami to San Diego - which, luckily, "turned out to be the best place to start this", according to venture capitalist Bono.
The band give themselves a tickertape parade, and they've got a runway style stage. This would be your setlist:
City Of Blinding Lights
An Cat Dubh
Into The Heart
New Years Day
Sometimes You Cant Make It On Your Own
Love And Peace or Else
Bullet The Blue Sky
Running To Stand Still
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Where The Streets Have No Name
All Because Of You
Sign On San Diego is collecting responses from its readers: they're so far mostly of a "best gig ever" type stamp, but there is a suggestion that the Sports Arena might not, actually, have been the best place to start after all:
Again, with the acoustics in the Sports Arena...they are horrible, but maybe I expect too much from a cavern. I would like to hear Bono's voice just as clearly as I do on DVD or CD, but unless they book themselves into a concert hall, it ain't happening.
Undercover reported, oddly, that "as the crowd packed into the San Diego Sports Arena, the atmosphere was immediately apparent." As opposed to those atmospheres that aren't apparent, then. But to be fair Undercover, in fact, can barely contain itself:
The setlist featured some uber-old tracks, as well as leaving (sic) heavily on the new album, while mid-range U2 was fairly light on. The set however catered to the both the diehard and new fans.
Ah, but what did it do for mid-range U2 fans, eh?
Clearly not very happy about having to cover this rock band were the KESQ team:
They've done it plenty of times before, but the manager for the Irish band U-two says they indeed are nervous about going on stage tonight.
Yep, they do call them U-two throughout the piece.
We're sometimes a little confused as to who it is who likes the band these days. The Sun, though, is just plain rude:
The group played their first live performance in four years in front of 14,000 crazy fans at the San Diego Sports Arena.
Crazy? That's a little bit harsh. We prefer "misguided", ourselves.
So, that Smiths conference we mentioned back in January has now been and gone: BBC Manchester spoke to symposium organiser Sean Campbell:
"They provoke strong emotions, and are undoubtedly seen as unique, along with people like The Beatles and The Sex Pistols.
"It was obvious when they got up on stage that not just anybody could get up and 'do it', as there was definitely something exceptional and unique about the band that defied analysis and was notoriously difficult to pin down.
"This, amongst other things, is something that we hope to come to grips with at the conference."
For a band which "defied analysis", there's an awful lot of defiance out there:
...but a little more won't go amiss, probably. We're not quite sure how you can unique alongside someone, though.
Emily Eavis has come up with an idea to keep the neighbours happy when this year's Glastonbury festival takes place: A silent disco. No, stick with her here: it's going to be a disco where everyone wears headphones. Her dad explains:
"By using headphones the music in the venue can go on well into the night.
"We have been toying with this idea for years, trying to think of ways to combat the noise limits.
"Now Emily has finally got something together so the party can go on later into the evening without infringing the noise curfew," he said.
"It's a first for us, and I will be interested to see how it works."
Pretty ineffectually, I'd guess, since the bulk of the noise coming from Glastonbury after dark is the boom boom boom from a thousand private parties around the camping fields, but it's worth a try. Let's hope they still have enough headphones left by the final night to make it work.
The Times has picked up on the story that was floating about to fill the bank holiday yesterday - The Smiths as an academic subject. Whatever next - a tabloid as a paper of record?
The rest of the tabs, however, are more fascinated by the surprise witness in the Jackson case: Macauly Culkin:
The Sun and the Star also take the opportunity of Vic Reeves1' drink-driving stupidity to spread Nancy in her pants over their front pages (memo to celebs: if you want to do your drink driving as secretly in possible, don't have a wife who has a stack of pictures of herself in a basque in the files)
1 That would be number-one recording artist and Wonderstuff collaborator Vic Reeves, of course.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Kelly Osbourne reckons her first album was crap, which we totally agree with. The difference is, of course, we knew that it was at the time; she only appears to have become disllusioned in retrospect.
"My record label thought, 'Oh she's really cool. She's in the Osbournes. We want to sign her and make money off her.' But the album was crap...I felt like just another Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, Avril Lavigne, and that's just not who I am at all."
It's odd, I don't recall you saying anything about that at the time. Indeed, nearly every interview you seemed to be saying how the album was just something you did for yourself:
JoJo: Let's talk about your album, its obviously out, is it nerve wracking...its something you created...you're always worried about it?
Kelly: No, I'm not worried about it because I did it for me. I didn't do it for anyone else. If people want to listen to it, that's great. If they want to buy it, even better. But if its not like a huge success I don't think it would mean anything to me. - from JoJo On The Radio, 2002
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Bad time for Sam Endicott from the Bravery to lose his voice: right in the middle of a US tour co-headlining with Ash. The Bravery had to pull their Miami date and Sam spent a day spent writing notes (we picture something like The Hush episode of Buffy; without the vampires but the wank jokes still pretty much in place). Now, his doctor has told him he can sing, but - seriously - he has to sing quietly. The band expect to complete the tour.
Paul Hester, drummer with Split and Enz and Crowded House, has been found dead in a Melbourne Park.
Hester was born in Melbourne in 1959, to a bushman father and jazz drummer mother. Not a success at school - he was the first child in the state of Victoria to have to leave school after his teachers had petitioned for him to be thrown out, he drifted from job to job before following his mother into drumming as a career. Paul played in a number of bands which never broke through - Sea Monsters, Cheks and Deckchairs Overboard before Midnight Oil's Rob Hirst suggested to Split Enz that he take up their vacant drummer position. The New Zealand band were a bit vague about if he was in or not; eventually Paul took a tape recorder to a rehearsal to get a permanent record of the band admitting he was now a member.
After Split Enz, erm, split in 1984, Paul and the Enz's mainstay Neil Finn pulled together a band called Mullanes. Luckily, they realised that was a terrible name and rechristened themselves Crowded House - an poor name also, but crucially not quite as poor. The band went on to have international hits, most notably with Don't Dream Its Over. Paul stayed with band for ten years, eventually deciding to step down to avoid the pressures of touring.
He moved into television presentation, working on a number of different shows. He became known to a generation of kids in his role as Chef Paul on The Wiggles.
Hester was last seen alive when he took his dogs for a walk on Friday night. Paramedics reported his death as being from strangulation and said it appeared he had been attempting suicide. His friend Peter Green said he'd not been aware of Hester showing any signs of depression: "Paul never said anything about that and I never, ever heard he was suffering from any illness. Then, after today, I wonder if anybody really knew anything."
He is survived by his partner, Mardi Sommerfield and two daughters.
They've got a budget big enough to make the monsters look convincing, they've spent a small fortune on publicity, and yet still nobody could do anything about Billie's eyebrows. That one problem apart, we have to mutter under our breath that shewasalrightweguess in Doctor Who - and, as the Express points out, the presence of the last-but-on Rachel Stevens in the TARDIS helped with the figures:
The same story is on the front of the Star, too - it really was the battle of people trying to forget their cash-in pop pasts on Saturday night, wasn't it, as Because We Want To crushed Our Radio Rocks in the ratings:
The Star also promises the secret of how "Posh got her figure back in only five weeks" - let's not say anything nasty about operations, shall we?
The Mail also has Victoria Beckham on the front page - apparently she was sporting "that £1m look", so presumably she must have bought everything on the racks at Mark One, then:
The Mail's competition is worth noting as well - "Win Kylie's life" (a week in Australia and a weekend in Paris, apparently, rather than a miserable treadmill of appearances on Saturday morning TV and botox injections). If you see Dannii struggling under the weight of three-dozen Daily Mails this afternoon, you'll know why.
The Daily Mirror has decided to splash on Jordy v Jacko, and the prospect that the kid Jackson bought off a few years back might turn up as a star witness in the trial. We don't know if they know this for certain, or if they were just looking to fill their front page on a bank holiday.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Something we missed when it happened at the end of January: apparently the BPI has decided to spend this year absorbing as many indie labels into its borg-like body as it can. To make it easier for indies, the BPI has offered to take just five quid out of every hundred raised through public performances by the labels. Of course, the BPI is just being big-hearted, explained Peter Jamieson:
"For 30 years the BPI has been mandated to protect and promote the interests of the recorded music sector of our industry." said Jamieson. "Although its every action continues to be designed to benefit every company in the sector, irrespective of size, representation of the independent sector within its activities is not as strong or as representative as it could or should be."
The BPI's members currently represent over 90% of recorded music sales in the UK, but there are still many labels who do not advantage themselves of the associations' services or have the opportunity to influence strategies and policies.
"We will improve and strengthen every facet of our membership services to ensure a better deal for our members, and we are changing our subscription basis to facilitate increased membership. The more representative the BPI can become the more effective and united will be its voice within the wider music industry." added Jamieson.
Now, why has an organisation which up until now has been little more than the cartel of the big seven/six/five/four suddenly decided it needs to mop up the smaller labels? Perhaps, yes, they are genuinely concerned that tiny labels are missing out on their chance to go and play policemen with the BPI; on the other hand, could it be that the organisation is seeing that the big labels are starting to become less and less relevant in the digital age and are very keen to try and stop themselves going the same way.
Whatever, we do love the idea that the tiny labels stand a bugger's chance of getting to influence policy - only if they want it influenced in the same direction as EMI, Sony-BMG, Warners and Universal, we'll bet.
If you were trying to promote the idea of e-government, encouraging people to trust the internet to cope with the vital services provided by local government, you might decide the best way would be to invite someone who knows a little about the subject to endorse the idea. So who did Connecting Somerset ask to be the celeb force for the big boradband push in the county? Erm, Michael Eavis. After the fiasco of 2004's Glastonbury sales, he's not the man that we would have approached to try and persuade people that electronic tax-shifting is a safe idea...
The thing that stikes most firmly in our minds about our first visit to the Sheffield Leadmill was the toilets. We'd never been in a proper indie venue before that boasted the sort of proper toilets you'd expect in a cinema or a place where grown-ups went for entertainment. We were very impressed.
This month, the Sheffield Leadmill is celebrating 25 years in the business of inviting people to make strange and beautiful noises. It nearly went under a few times in the 1990s; impressively, it refused Madonna, U2 and The Darkness slots; and Julian Casablancas of the Strokes was sick on its stage.
There's usually a note of sadness most times we mention venues here - the words "is to close" hang desperately in the air most times - so it's nice to be able to toast some success for once.
Not, perhaps the most fitting tribute but Hell is For Heroes Live at the Leadmill is released tomorrow.
There's been some complaints for the last few years that new, local talent tends to get swamped in the Liverpool Mathew Street Festival - the focus being primarily on tribute acts. So the people behind the festival have come up with a splendid idea: a second festival. Every May, there's going to be a free festival focusing on Liverpool talent. It's a nice move, although the cynic might suggest that for a band seeking an audience, having a slot in the middle of a the Beatles festival might be better than being shoved off into a late-Spring all new talent ghetto. Especially now the proper festival is going to concentrate almost entirely on Bootleg Beatles type bands. Even so, a high-profile new bands event on Merseyside is something to be applauded, especially since the demise of the Picket probably meant the Liverpool Now festival is as dead as a cat.
Police have been called in to investigate supposed death threats against Britney Spears and others found in notebooks at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs. Oddly enough, it turned out to be a load of old "I wish they were dead" type poetry rather than finely-planned assassination schemes.
Doherty Principal Jill Martin says the writings weren't as serious as officials first thought.
Even so, the kids are still facing felony charges and up to five days suspension from school. God alone knows what the over-reaction would have been if the writings had been serious.
At last, something that suits Ashlee Simspon's talents - being shrunk down and standing up with something to lean on. The shampoo advert: the gateway to the twilight of the career.
What's the best way to mark the Jewish festival of Purim? How about dressing up as the Pope and a nun? No, it doesn't make sense to us either, but Madonna and Guy seemed to think that would be appropriate.
For whatever reason. The News of the World story also has the following report on the next day, when Madonna stopped dressing as a nun:
The next day Madonna, 46, was all curves outside studios in west London. A bystander said: "Her cleavage was something else."
Ah, thank god there was "a bystander" on hand. Otherwise the News of the World might have had to have commented on her tits for themselves. And that would never do.
Buried in the sad story of Gail Porter's post-natal depression and suicide attempt is this nugget about life with Dan Hipgrave from Toploader:
"After I had Honey I wasn't in the mood for sex," said Gail. "I just didn't feel sexy any more and I didn't make an effort. I had humungous breasts and didn't want sex with Dan. I was worried I'd suffocate him. I had a layer on my tummy and felt disgusting. I was always hanging around in pyjamas—but the one time I felt like getting dressed up my timing was all wrong.
"England were playing Germany and I put on the most sexy lingerie ever and tried to distract Dan but he wouldn't stop watching the game."
He had a wife looking for a bit of support, and chose a football match. And yet Dan seems unable to accept that there's not much there any more. Apparently he hasn't yet moved out of their house yet, despite Gail asking him to. Maybe you should just cancel the Sky Sports subscription, Gail.
Having pissed off the authorities by making a pop video while in prison, C-Murder is now paying the price: he's only going to be allowed to use pencils when in court, as - seriously - pens are hollow and could be used to smuggle rap lyrics out of jail. The same rule applies to Ron Rakosky, Mr. Murder's attorney.
The prison must be pleased: they can't keep a bloody video crew out the jail, they couldn't stop C-Murder recording a CD. But they've ensured not so much as a Bic biro gets into the jail.