Saturday, August 27, 2005

MAJORS WANT MORE, NOW, AGAIN

Pretty much everyone is agreed that 99 cents is the wrong price for a digital download: every consumer wants to see the prices come down to reflect the much reduced costs involved in digital distribution (or, in the UK, for prices to at least make it down to the UK level); the labels want to see an increase. They want to introduce a flexible pricing structure so that "hot" tracks sell for more - they suggest an upside of this would be that not-so-hot tracks could sell for less than the current price, which demonstrates that the majors still don't understand the digital music industry at all - it's precisely because you're able to make the same profits on any track that you sell that should be enticing them - a sale of a forty-year old Lonnie Donnegan track bringing the same benefits as a U2 song, something they could never have imagined happening a decade back. The millions of songs they've been sitting on and not able to exploit as anything more than by virtually giving them away through Time-Life compilations suddenly offered the potential to hit way above their weight. And they're now trying to throw away that advantage on millions of songs for a short-term gain on a handfull.

And that's even assuming that customers will be happy to pay more for songs - every ten cent increment in prices makes the free networks seem so much more attractive...


I KNOW WHAT BOYS LIKE

Not that they're gay or nothing, but McFly know how to get the boys all hot:

Danny said to MSN: "We had this male fan that we messed around with. We were having a laff saying go and hug each other like, 'Harry needs a hug, go and hug him.' To cut a long story short he had a big stonking boner. When we were leaving the airport we looked back and he still had a stonker. He had tracksuit bottoms on as well so it was well sticking out. It was so funny."

Is it just us or is that... focusing on it just a little too much?


JOHN LYDON HAS SOMETHING TO SELL YOU

The thing that struck us as being most odd about that ruck between John Lydon and Jimmy Pursey at the US Embassy this week wasn't that Pursey claimed the policeman who broke it up was a Sham 69 fan, but that Lydon was queueing for a visa at 7.30 in the morning. Haven't we been told many times that he's a successful US real estate magnate - so how come he's still queueing up for a visa after all this time? And how would he get a visa anyway, since - according to the Lydon myth - his birth certificate has long since been lost?

Anyway, while he's been back in Britain, he's been giving us the benefit of his opinions. He's seldom wrong, it's just that he's not as outrageous as he'd like us to believe:

Lydon is also pissed off with old chum Bob Geldof for hinting that the Pistols would be playing Live 8: “Our names were touted around. And it looks like we turned it down. But the truth is I wasn’t asked.”

“I don’t know what shock value he was trying to get by mentioning us. But I’m glad. It was a very shoddy and weak production anyway…And there weren’t enough black faces in the show for my liking. I don’t think it achieved anything. Bob Geldof is too self-serving.”

He added to the Sun newspaper: “I don’t like this attitude of trying to guilt us into doing something. That’s the terror tactics of the Nazi party.”

Continuing: “Every time I see Bono in those big fly glasses and tight leather pants I just can’t hack it. I can’t see that as solving the world’s problems.”

“He’s crushing his testicles in tight trousers for world peace.”


A light poking of fun at Bono's dress, rather than any of the much deeper problems with Live 8 and the fantastically rich Bono claiming that he can speak for those of us excluded from our political processes; and the confusing suggestion that Geldof trying to bounce a band into playing a gig mainly aimed at shifting back catalogue albums is in anyway similar to the "terror tactics of the the Nazi party" is just insultingly absurb - unless Geldof really did smash the windows of Lydon's estate agency, remove all the cash from the business and then shoot his wife in front of him.

And besides, didn't the punks love flirting with Nazi imagery anyway?

Having done Bob and Bono, it's then on to Pete Doherty. Will Lydon have some outrageous observation to make?

No:

He’s made a decision to play this drugs game. But I haven’t seen many survivors. And I don’t want to see him become another stupid rock death.”

“Pete – calm down a little and start checking yourself. You’re not impressing anyone – you’re just depressing.”


The trouble is, you can just picture him sat in a big, leather armchair, reading the interview back, cackling to himself - "Oh, John, you've put the cat amongst the pigeons again, boy... you've stirred them up and no mistake."

Frankly, if he lobs any more half-arsed missiles at soft targets, we're going to ask him to be No Rock's holiday cover this Christmas.


READING FESTIVAL: CRIME HOT SPOT

Normally the number of arrests being reported at festivals are usually comprised of little more than local police picking off kids for minor drug offences to help boost their clean-up rate; but this weekend's Reading Festival sounds a lot like the bad old days of Glastonbury's lawless years.

Yes, there are those drug arrests - a big hand to Thames Valley Police for arresting 65 people where "quantities recovered have mainly been very small for personal use"; unfortunately, while they've been shaking down teenagers with tiny pieces of dope, 265 proper crimes have been taking place - including at least fifty thefts - and people turning up with forged wristbands, in such numbers as to cause concern amongst both the cops and security guys.

In Reading-Leeds Music news: The Charlatans whacked out a nice set balancing old stuff and new stuff (although, having said that they did do some stuff off the underwhelming last album); the NME is describing Black Francis and Kim Deal hugging as them 'burying the hatchet', although they do seem to have been getting on well for the last twelve months to us.

We could get to see all this for ourselves, but ITV (despite its many channels) can't be arsed to do any coverage until Monday, when we get an hour of music, and then an hour of comedy. And the commercial channels complain about the BBC's exclusive access to Glastonbury - at least they put it on the television.


RESPECT LIKE ARETHA, OR RESPECT LIKE GEORGE GALLOWAY?

This is the point where we heave our bossoms skywards and sniff that there's no smoke without fire; but Christina Aguilera has denied ever saying that Britney has "let herself go".



"It's really sad to see that some tabloid magazines still have to manufacture ill will between Britney and me," Aguilera wrote in a statement posted on her Web site. "We are both grown-ups and have the utmost respect for each other personally and professionally. If certain journalists want to throw their integrity out the window by spreading false information, then so be it. But I'm not falling for their lies and neither should my fans or Britney's."

Aguilera added that she wished nothing but the best for Britney, husband Kevin Federline and their family. "May they be blessed with continued success and future happiness," she wrote.


So, that's alright then.


NOT QUITE A HAPPY ENDING

The producer Christian Julian Irwin, whose disappearence we mnetioned yesterday, has been found, naked and confused, washing his jeans in a creek.

Irwin was taken into custody because he was deemed mentally incompetent and possibly dangerous to himself, Peavy said. He was found at about 4:30 p.m. and agreed to go with police about two hours later after negotiations in which authorities, at Irwin's request, located his sister to help calm him.

Police say they could see no evidence of the people Irwin believed were pursuing him; he's been checked into a hospital for observation.


MAKING CASH OUT OF A CRISIS

It's always been tricky for Pete Doherty - when he needed some ready cash for his own purposes, he's always been able to scare up a few quid from the tabloids. However, even in his state, he's started to notice that the coverage that's generated isn't entirely positive, and may even be harming his ability to raise cash for his own purposes on later occasions. The solution? He's now chronicling his own decline and taking the cash for himself through a pay-per-view website where you can watch him going about his daily doings. In effect, you can now directly pay Pete to be a mildly diverting fuck-up without the need to go through the middlemen. It's uses of the internet like this that makes Tim Berners-Lee weep blood-flavoured happy tears whenever anyone sees through his disguise and works out who he is.

Not to be confused, of course, with The Junkies, which was an actually amusing web-based thing.


WE SUSPECT HE WAS JOKING

We're always happy to think the worst of Marilyn Manson, but we can't really think he was doing anything other than cracking a joke when he complained about Harry Potter books:

"I get blamed for being bad but this kid is practicing witchcraft from a very early age which is totally unacceptable."

Because Mazza knows that Harry Potter is just a geeky kid who wants to be special:



CHARLIE SIMPSON - MY LIFE IS SO SWEET

Apparently, Charlie Simpson is really pleased with his decision to quit Busted, and reckons it's really transformed his life.

And it's true. This time last year he could have had any girl or boy that he wanted, was making loads and living like a star. Now...



... he looks a little like the guy who comes to chop down our Dad's leylandi trees when they get out of control.


THERE'S TRYING TOO HARD, AND THERE'S JUST TRYING

We know Ashlee Simpson is desperate for people to associate her with something - anything - other than her Saturday Night Live career-termination. And we could see that trying to get some of the attention going "I'm kinda gay" could just about do something to shift perception of her as being a bit dim. But "I wish I was Brad Pitt so I could have sex with Jennifer Aniston"? How does that even work? If she's trying to drop titilating lesbian hints, then why would she have to be Brad Pitt? If you were really interested in shagging Angelina Jolie, and someone offered you a wish, wouldn't you wish for Angelina Jolie to be spread-eagled on your kitchen rug, rather than to turn yourself into Brad Pitt so you could trick Jolie into having sex with you? It's all a little bit too much like the Buffy where Faith had sex with Riley while she was in Buffy's body for comfort.


Friday, August 26, 2005

GARBAGE HEADING FOR TRASHCAN?

Although they're blaming pressures of work, the sudden cancellation of Garbage's European tour has ignited split rumours.

The official statement reads like this, a lot:

"It is with great regret that Garbage have decided to cancel their visit to France, Belgium and the UK in October. Having been constantly on the road since the beginning of March the band feel they have somewhat overextended themselves and have mutually decided to conclude their tour at the end of September in Australia. "

"The band wish to extend their apologies to all Garbage fans in the territories involved and thank them profusely for their support. All tickets will of course be refunded. "


Bah.


PRODUCER CAUGHT IN 419 GOES 404

Producer Christian Julian Irwin, who has worked with Bowie, David Crosby and De La Soul amongst others has disappeared. Friends and family are worried about Irwin's safety after two phone calls in which he claimed he was being chased by people who "might kill him".

Fellow producer Fortunato Procopio - who received one of the calls - said that Irwin had got involved in a Nigerian internet scam and panicked when he recieved a cheque for USD50,000, apparently from Nigerian conmen.

"We're considering the worst at this point because he hasn't been heard from," said sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy. "Unfortunately, it could very well be a homicide."

The disappearance is out of character for Irwin, who friends describe as a "gentle, stable person."


YOU MIGHT WANT TO MOVE ON, BUT LET'S HOLD HERE AWHILE

Interesting that - having admitted she was pathetic enough to have power cut during Iron Maiden's set three times during the last Ozzfest - Sharon Osbourne wants to move on. A bit rich seeing as Iron Maiden were about the only thing that kept Ozzfest afloat this year, after her husband kept crying off with "hayfever".

Here's her explanation for what happened:

"I did cut [the band's] sound," she wrote. "Ozzfest is our tour. Dickinson doesn't have the manners to realize that when you are invited into someone's home, are seated at their dinner table, are eating their food and drinking their wine, you shouldn't talk disrespectfully about them. Otherwise, you just might get your ass handed to you. Every action has a reaction. Was Dickinson so naive to think that I was going to let him get away with talking shit about my family, night after night? I don't think he realizes who he's dealing with."

Osbourne took offense to remarks she said Dickinson made concerning the quality of the tour's sound system and criticisms he's made about Sabbath and Ozzy, including, " 'We don't need a teleprompter' (like Ozzy)" and " 'We don't need a reality show to be legit' (again, like Ozzy)," she wrote. "Night after night, we heard his complaints from the stage about how 'corporate' the venues were and how 'outrageous' the ticket prices were."

"It's shameful that Dickinson felt he had the right to air his issues publicly onstage every night as a way to boost his own ego. Dickinson never once came up to Ozzy and me to voice any concerns. If he wasn't able to show us that courtesy, then why should I give him the respect to air my grievances with him in private? Frankly, Dickinson got what he deserved. We had to listen to his bullshit for five straight weeks. He only had to suffer a couple of eggs on the head."


So, if we've got this right, somebody said something that Shazza was unable to control and so she reacted with spiteful, grade three vengence? And yet we're meant to respect her as being one of the great professionals of the music industry. Can you imagine what the record business would be like if she was an example of the high water mark for its professionalism?

Oh, hang on a moment...


BLAME EMINEM

As if his troubles weren't bad enough right now (being sued by his own auntie; inability to walk past a Superdrug without popping in for some Nytol; not having made a decent record in three years; members of D12 still managing to get hold of his cellphone number, etc) Eminem is being sued over the bus crash he wasn't involved in.

Lorry driver Breck Wyngarden and his wife Ascension Wyngarden were both involved in the Missouri bus crash which hospitalised Stat Quo and DJ Alchemist. They're suing the driver and the tour bus company, and presumably added Eminem's name to the action on the grounds that, heh, he's rich. Their action actually admits the tour bus only hit them because it swerved to avoid another crash, but, hey, someone's got to pay.


IDLE SPECULATION DRESSED UP AS NEWS

Someone at the clunking beast that is the semi-official body charged with making Liverpool's spell as Capital of Culture in 2008 so overplayed that by then everyone, everywhere will be sick of the very idea has muttered about how the Beatles should be on the £20 note. The BBC rang up the Bank of England, who said "well, there's no reason why not'. The story runs as Beatles 'may appear on £20 note'.

In which case, here are some other news stories:
Rolling Stones 'may appear on £20 note'
Les Dawson 'might appear on £20 note'
The 1983 FA Cup finalist Brighton and Hove Albion team 'may appear on £20 note'
Beatles 'may appear on £10 note'


BUSH REFUSES TO RESPOND TO WOMAN

The White House is still refusing to make any movements towards the woman who has spent the last thirteen weeks camped at the top of the Billboard Charts, despite the protester, Mariah Carey, making it clear she has no intentions of leaving, ever.

Carey started her occupation of the top of the singles list over three months ago in what some commentators have labelled a politically-motivated campaign to demonstrate the futility of the current music industry. A supporter of the woman, talking to CNN, said "Mariah has made it quite clear she'll move on when someone releases a single that deserves to be number one, and that's all she's looking for."

Observers suggest the stand-off at the top of the charts could drag on into the autumn. "She's got an extraordinary level of support behind her" said a source, "unless Bush does something to stop her, she could still be there at Christmas."

A similar occupation at the top of the British charts by former soldier James Blunt ended after five weeks when the nation woke up to itself.

IS IT TOO LATE TO CHECK THE WEDDING LIST?

Words cannot express how truly, truly excited we are by the news that Liam Gallagher might have gone off to get married to Natalie Appleton (or is it Nicole) without selling the rights to OK ("telling anyone".) Can you feel the thrill in the air? Can you?

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"Nicole, will you be giving up your career now you're married to me?"
"Liam, being married to you
is my career, you doughnut..."


AND THE BIG BROWN BEAR CAME LUMBERING OVER THE HILL

If you're going to attack people's style, it would presumably be wise to ensure that you yourself don't look like a student who has been hiding out from the police for a week and a half. Not that that bothers Serge Pizzorno from Kasabian, who felt qualified enough on matters sartorial to suggest that Franz Ferdinand looks like The Railway Children.

We presume he means the kids in the film rather than Gary Newby's Factory-signed, Jackie-loved 80s band. Although we can't be sure, as to us they neither look like Franz Ferdinand - who surely are more "just passed o-levels, starting first job at the Trustees Savings Bank", aren't they?


YOU WON'T FIND US ON ALTA-VISTA WITHOUT AN EXCLUSIVE CONTRACT

Yesterday, Jack White hooked himself up to Coke; today, it's Mike Skinner accepting a small payment from Adidas to push forward the sales of their Reebok training shoes.

Jim McCabe - who brings this to our attention - asks: What was it that Joe Strummer said about "turning rebellion into money"?

Of course, everyone has their price, but you just wish that for some people, it might be more than an international megabrand would be willing to pay.


AVRIL LAVIGNE NAKED

Amongst the many delights of Paper Doll Heaven - your chance to dress the stars, or something - is a frankly bemusing double act of Avril Lavigne and Charlotte, grand-daughter of Grace Kelly. We don't know how come they're sharing a dressing-up box, or why they both wear such cheap underwear. Have, erm, fun.


SHOWERING GIFTS ON THE RICH, VAPID PEOPLE

If there's one thing we really hate about awards, it's the way that people who are rich enough to buy most of the real estate between here and Croydon now seem to expect to be given prizes simply for turning up. If we were in charge of the MTV awards, for example, we might tell people to fuck off if they said "and what gifts do we get for coming out to boost our celebrity profiles?"

Or we might give them a party bag with some crayons, a piece of cake and maybe a book in. But, oh no, that wouldn't do; so, in a world where people are starving, the attendees are getting a USD26,000 gift bag. Here's what they're taking:

A gap weekeneder bag
Paul Frank moonman watch
iPod shuffle
24 karat Shu Uemura eyelash curler
A Puff Daddy tshirt
A bathing costume like paris hilton's
Frederick's of Hollywood bustier
Nikki Beach platinum card
vacations at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff and Palms in the Turks and Caicos
StriVectin anti-stretch cream
Hylexin eye cream
Gap jeans
various tshirts
Taryn rose ballet flats or sneakers
Missoni sunglasses
sorry, this is starting to read like one of those passages in American Psycho
Dooney & Bourke duffle bag
Bose noise cancelling headphones
A years supply of nestle chocolate (which, for most of the annorexicoid types attending, would be two aeros and a haf-pack of Munchies)
Some sort of sports club membership
And a life coach session

Still, on the bright side, there is a possibility that hurricane Katrina will sweep them all and all their swag far, far out to sea.


GREEN DAY'S BIG DAY

There was a fair sharing around of awards at the Kerrang event last night - something for everyone. Except System of a Down, who failed to win in any of their five categories.

Green Day got best band and best live act, Funeral for a Friend best British band and My Chemcial Romance picked up best album and video. Best of You by the Foos picked up single of the year.

Trivium are apparently the best newcomers, although they have a name which sounds like an investment company rather than a rock act.

Iron Maiden went into the hall of fame, while Marilyn Manson won the icon award. Which he turned up to accept, bless his sweet little teenage eyemake-up.

Times must be hard at EMAP right now, though, as their Kerrang! Awards Blog is just the Q Glastonbury blog with a different logo stuck on it. Surely you can afford more than one typepad account, boys?


ROOSTERS COME IN LITTLE RED, AND MANSIZE

While we've hugely enjoyed the sight of two old men arguing over who the size of the penises (Keith Richards has now apologised to Mick Jagger for suggesting his cock was small), but we can't help wondering if all this willy-waving is little more than an attempt to distract attention from the whole row over the song that may or may not have been about George Bush.

Anyway, being a stately man of rock, Keith sent out a spokesperson:

"He has apologised to Mick because he was trying to be complimentary and ended appearing offensive.

"But that's the end of the matter. He did say that Mick had big balls as in he admired him because he was gutsy and courageous. How would he know anything about the size of his willy?"


We don't know... opening a dressing room door too soon? Drunken skinny dipping bet? Jerry Hall blabbing?


Thursday, August 25, 2005

CRAIG DAVID: STATESMAN

We're delighted that Craig David is starting to be taken seriously again after his miserable time as whipping boy of Bo Selecta (imagine how you'd feel being so crap they could take the piss out of you), although we're wondering if it's going to his head a little. We can't help snickering when we see the ads for his new album on the TV making much out of the review claim that he's taking George Michael's crown - although, in terms of the gulf between actual sales and self-image, he really is the new Michael, we guess. And now he's been invited to represent most of the rest of the world at a concert in memory of those who died in the Sharm al-Sheikh bombings.

You might think that such a sensitive event would call for a spot of decorum and setting your ego to one side, wouldn't you?

A spokesman for David said: "Craig was personally invited by the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, as both a representative of global popular music and as an inspirational figurehead."

Thank god Dave's spokeperson decided to not mention the bit about being God's representative on Earth, otherwise people might think he was getting a wee bit bigheaded.

"The show has an unbelievable global significance," said David.

Yes. We can't even begin to understand its global significance using our usual minds; in fact, it's so globaly significant we've had to hook up a bunch of computers, SETI at home style, to process its importance. It's still too early to bring you definitive results, but we're starting to see the phrase "if it was that fucking significant, Mccartney would be forcing his way onto the bill" appearing in the patterns.


HOW EXACTLY DOES SOMEBODY ENTERTAIN RUGBY FANS?

We have our suspicions what the answer to the question is, but surely Charlotte Church has checked that her contract for her warm-up before tomorrow night's Ospreys-Wasp match?

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Interestingly, judging by Google, the search of pictures of Charlotte Church in her corset is proving more popular than the search for pictures of her topless. Maybe the world isn't quite as low-brow as we've been led to believe.


MINING YOUR BEHAVIOUR

We've heard before that record labels are busily sifting data from filesharing networks as a form of marketing research - conferring legitimacy on a practice they supposedly decry - but the Pitchfork report on how they use that data is still pretty eye-opening:

To take an example, here's what I can tell you about the Arcade Fire, thanks to a BigChampagne report. The week of August 4, 1.3% of filesharers-- maybe 200,000-300,000 people-- were sharing the band's music, up from just .20% last December. From their debut LP Funeral, "Rebellion (Lies)" scored the most listeners-- and the most searches-- and "In the Backseat" got the least. San Francisco is their biggest market this week, with 2.17% audience penetration (far more than, say, a mere .30% in Colorado Springs). And 60.52% of Arcade Fire fans also have Coldplay in their collections, while only 4.22% of Coldplay listeners have Arcade Fire-- but you can also see that 34.63% of the Arcade Fire fans have tracks by fellow indie Canadians Hot Hot Heat, and 9.65% of Hot Hot Heat's fans like to get their Funeral on.

We're still not entirely sure how the RIAA can square their members using this sort of data at the same time as insisting filesharers are evil. Indeed, with this sort of data available, you might argue that far from killing music, p2p is subsidising the music industry's marketing costs.

[Thanks for the link to Mitya]


HOWEVER WILL HOLLYWOOD SURVIVE?

The movie industry has taken an early dart to spend the afternoon drinking as it struggles to cope with "being turned down" by Victoria Beckham. Apparently, she doesn't think her acting skills are up to the job.

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Hard to believe, isn't it? No, really hard to believe. We're supposed to accept that Michelle Pfieffer was begging her to take a role in the forthcoming I Could Never Be Your Woman. Oddly, she's meant to have told them on Monday she wasn't interested, by which time, according to imdb, the film had already been shooting for a month. Presumably they were just standing round on set waiting for Victoria to decide.


THOM YORKE WRITES...

Over on the official Radiohead site, Thom York indulges in a spot of metablogging:

i dont know. what do people write in blogs normally?
i could write about how im finding it difficult to finish lyrics.
that there are giant waves of self doubt crashing over me and if i could allieviate this with a simple pill ...
i think i would

[...]
i have absolutely no idea what i am talking about


It's like he's been blogging all his life, isn't it?


SHHH! DON'T TELL ANYONE

Be very, very quiet... there's a secret-ish Kasabian gig this evening in London - Truman's Brewery in Brick Lane at 6pm. Free, too.


THE CANS HAVE A WHITE STRIPE ON THEM, SEE?

So we finally discover who it was Jack White was waiting to ring his doorbell - a bloke from the Coca-Cola company carrying a sackload of cash. Apparently, Coke are in search of a new "I'd like to buy the world a coke" (or at least a Robin Beck for the 21st century) and Jack White isn't too fussy who pays his bills. Of course, he does already have a bunch of outfits in the red and white livery, so that's half the battle.

We're not sure if Jack's song for the fizzy pop people will address the allegations that Coca-Cola's business has had a negative impact on communities in India and Columbia by redirecting their water into its factories, or the mysterious way unionists trying to organise at Coca Cola bottling plants have a nasty tendency to end up tortured, kidnapped or dead, but if he can think of a rhyme, we're sure he will.


HOW DO YOU KEEP A MCFLY FAN IN SUSPENSE?

You've got to love the attention to detail over at Liverpool City Council - already having a bad week what the plans for a half a billion pounds worth of new hospital clashing with the big, new road the local ratepayers are funding to get customers to the Duke of Westminter's shiny new shops, it now turns out they've screwed up the wristbands for this weekend's McFly gig at the Albert Dock.

In order to keep everyone safe at the Bank Holiday event, someone needed to take responsibility for keeping the numbers manageable. A wristband seemed to be the perfect way forward - no wristband, no entry. Brilliant. Trouble is, the council managed to print the wrong date on them; presumably not the sort of detail they felt required any special attention. Now, they're having to reassure everyone that although the bands say "Sunday", they're actually intended for Monday.


TOGETHER AT LAST - KENICKIE AND HEAR'SAY

It's either incredibly inspired or dangerously wobbly to invite Lauren Laverne to become one of the new hosts for CD:UK. Obviously, we'd invite her to host anything, but... either they're going to be changing the tone of the show, or she's not a very good fit.

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And the fact they've hired Mylene Klass to co-present with her suggests that they're not really planning on changing the tone of the show very much. (What happened to Mylene turning her back on the pop world to concentrate on her first love of classical music, by the way? Has she remembered that her real first love was presenting TV programmes and being in Heat?)

How lucky that when the show relaunches, September 17th, she's that month's girl on the FHM calendar:

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Making up the numbers is Johnny P, who actually is a little more interesting than his bare CV ("presenter on Trouble") makes him sound.



His dad was a member of The Fantastics. (The soul band who did Something Old, Something New in the 70s; not the superhero gang.)


WHEN THE CROWD SAY 'MOBO' SELECTA

You might have thought the Mobo awards were little more than an annual opportunity to snort "how black is Joss Stone, exactly?" But, no, it's more than that; it's about poorly-written press releases on their website, too:

In 1996 the MOBO Awards show had attending, today it is a global brand and independent organisation that champions, celebrates and platforms music of black origin.

I think we can take the (sics) as read, can't we? The trouble is, even when they're coherent, they're just stuffed full of meaningless buzz-phrases: how does one "platform a music", exactly? Is it like lagging a watertank? Or do they simply mean promote?

It's disheartening to watch what sounds like a worthwhile initiative sink into stodgy prose which uses cliche when it should be inspired, and coins new words when something accurate and workable already exists:

Dedicated to the development of young people, the MOBO organisation has produced a Student Tour in line with the Enterprise Initiatives national campaign, 'Enterprise in Young People' and Lloyds TSB's 'Note for Note' projects. Taking place from September to November 2005 the Student Tour will visit universities and schools across the country, with the aim of using creative, fun and un-traditional mechanisms to both inspire and encourage young people to pursue their dreams and achieve success.

We're not sure what un-traditional means, and how it's different from the non-traditional, and why, if what they really mean is 'something different and inventive' that "creative" hasn't already covered that. And we have no idea what a "fun mechanism" might be, but we think things are going to get worse:

The MOBO World page is an 'Edu-tainment' section providing both historical and career-related information on the music industry.

Ah, edu-tainment. The last time we heard that clunker, it was being applied to Jezebelle, an Atomic Kittenesque Liverpudlian group whose management gave them the edutainment mission to justify why the band was getting public money to keep their lips synching.

Anyway, we're sure it;s nothing that can't be fixed with a twenty minute rewrite; just a pity they didn't do it before they put the site live. We'll get back to the edu-tainment mission and bring you the nominations for this year:

Best African Act (New Category for 2005)
(Voting will happen in Africa only)
1. Baaba Maal
2. Femi Kuti
3. 2 Face
4. Ladysmith Black Mambazo
5. Youssou N’dour
6. Yvonne Chaka Chaka


We're not sure why voting is being restricted to Africa on this one - it makes it look a little tokeny. We wonder if the inspiration came while someone was watching the complaints about Live 8 supposedly being about Africa while not featuring (m)any African artists. We're also a little puzzled why the Africans are being coralled into one group - there's not one single African style of music, and yet a continent seems to be being treated as if it was a genre.

Best Album
1. Common Be Island
2. Kano Home Sweet Home 679 Recordings
3. Lemar Time To Grow SONY BMG
4. John Legend Get Lifted SONY BMG
5. Mariah Carey The Emancipation of Mimi Def Jam


Mariah Carey? We know the reasons why she's included here, but with all the black artists making music around the world, they couldn't come up with something a little less... cheesy?

Best Hip Hop Act
1. 50 Cent Interscope
2. Blak Twang Wall Of Sound
3. Roots Manuva Big Dada
4. Sway Dcypha Productions
5. The Game Interscope

Best Jazz Act
1. Abram Wilson Dune
2. Lizz Wright Verve
3. Madeleine Peyroux Verve
4. Rhian Benson DKG Music
5. Soweto Kinch Dune

Best R&B Act in association with Choice FM
1. Ciara Sony BMG
2. John Legend Columbia
3. Lemar Sony BMG
4. Mariah Carey Def Jam
5. Terri Walker Def Soul
6. Nate James One Two

Best Reggae Act
1. Damian Marley Welcome To Jamrock Island
2. I-Wayne Can't Satisfy Her VP/Atlantic
3. Richie Spice Earth Ah Run Red Jetstar
4. Sean Paul We Be Burnin Atlantic
5. Daddy Yankee Gasolina Interscope

Best Single in association with Galaxy
1. Amerie 1 Thing Columbia
2. Lemar If There's Any Justice Sony BMG
3. Lethal B Pow (Forward) Relentless
4. Mario Let Me Love You J
5. Snoop ft. Pharrell Drop It Like It's Hot Interscope

Best UK Club DJ
1. Dodge
2. Manny Norte
3. Matt White
4. Semtex
5. Shortee Blitz
6. Steve Sutherland

Best UK Newcomer in association with Evening Standard
1. Kano 679 Recordings
2. Lethal B Relentless
3. Nate James One Two
4. Roll Deep Relentless
5. Sway Dcypha Productions


The Evening Standard? This does offer the hope that the Daily Mail might sponsor the Best Reggae act next year...

Best UK Radio DJ
1. George Kay Choice FM
2. Gilles Peterson Radio One
3. Jigs Choice FM
4. Masterstepz Choice FM
5. Ras Kwame 1Xtra
6. Ronnie Herel 1Xtra
7. Semtex 1Xtra
8. Shortee Blitz & Big Ted Kiss 80
9. Steve Sutherland Galaxy
8. Tim Westwood Radio One
11. Trevor Nelson Radio One
12. Zane Lowe Radio One


Why are there so many nominations for best radio dj? Surely not a cyncial attempt to fuel the publicity machine, is it? It does seem extraordinary that they can only think of four decent albums, but a dozen djs. And Zane Lowe?

Best Video in association with MTV
1. Jamiroquai Feels Just Like It Should Sony BMG
2. John Legend Ordinary People Columbia
3. Lemar If Theres Any Justice Sony BMG
4. Missy Elliott ft. Ciara Lose Control Atlantic
5. Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Drop It Like It's Hot Interscope

Best World Music Act
1. Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate World Circuit
2. Amadou & Mariam Because Music
3. Daddy Yankee Interscope
4. Miguel Anga Diaz World Circuit
5. Zap Mama V2


World Music not including Africa, of course.

UK Act Of The Year
1. Estelle J-did
2. Kano 679 Recordings
3. Joss Stone Relentless
4. Lemar Sony BMG
5. Roll Deep Relentless


It's not the most exciting line-up of nominations, is it? A ceremony with the threat of Lemar going up to the podium five times suggests nothing more than Music of Black Origin (at least in its official form) is in a bit of a creative slump.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

AT LAST... SOMETHING WE AGREE WITH JACK OSBOURNE ON

In a huff because people assume his weight-loss involved no more than a man with a vaccuum pump and a binliner, Jack Osbourne has described people who have plastic surgery as "vain".

How much did his Mum pay for liposuction and new tits, again?


BROADCAST NEWS

As a way of encouraging people to go and buy their new album Tender Buttons, Broadcast are going to be all ambient-dancey at a number of locations near you. If you're near them:

26 Sept - Glasgow ABC2
27 Sept - Manchester Night and Day
28 Sept - Camden Koko
29 Sept - Brighton Ocean Rooms
30 Sept - Nottingham The Social

Now that Boston Legal's finished, there's no excuse for staying in.


ROCK SICK LIST: Marc Bianchi

Here's quite an exotic excuse for a tour cancellation: Her Space Holiday have axed their UK jaunt because Marc Bianchi has been bitten by a spider. A poisonous, Japanese type one that could have killed him; even though it didn't, he's still stuck in hospital on a drip.

Blimey.


CLEAR CHANNEL: SO MANY LISTENERS, THEY CAN AFFORD TO RISK HAVING A FEW SHOT

As part of a half-thought-out promo for Clear Channel station WXTB in Tampa, they staged a fake prison break-out, shackling listeners together, dressing them in orange jumpsuits and promising a prize for the first pair to make it to the radio station studios.

Only trouble is, of course, under Florida law, anyone spooked by the apparent dangerous criminals on the loose would have legally been entitled to shoot them - a level of danger never faced during a UK radio competition, even on the Radio One Record Race.

Oddly, station management claim that they knew nothing about this really elaborate stunt:

"Friday morning, WXTB’s (98ROCK 97.9 FM) Big Boys Morning Show with Puddin’ and Phatty staged a contest that was unauthorized by station management," WXTB GM Dan DiLoreto said in a statement. "We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this stunt has caused the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and applaud their swift action. We regret the confusion and inconvenience caused to citizens in Pasco County who
were alarmed by this stunt."


So, somehow, the breakfast show team managed to get the logistics in place, and the participants onboard, without the management knowing about it? Might not be just the listeners who want shooting (metaphorically, of course)


PETA FINALLY GO TOO FAR

They might have gone close to the line in the past, but PETA's latest campaign to try and fight fur probably is a step way too far. Naked Tommy Lee posters?



Good god, cover it up, man.


YOUR MA'S MAKING EYES AT YOU

Bless, when he first started playing gigs, Kanye West's mum was so worried he might fall into bad ways she would follow him to the gigs and spy on him.

She thinks he never spotted her. But it's not like he'd have gone "Hi, Mom" from the stage.

Makes you wonder what 50 Cent would have been like if his mummy had kept a closer eye.


THE RETURN OF THE LOZ

Since the split of Ride, we've seen Andy Bell elect to get a regular cheque and no glory being a backing musician in the Noel Gallagher review; Mark Gardener has done some solo stuff and The Animal House. But what of Loz, the octopus-armed drummer? He's breaking from cover to play a gig at the Alibi, Norwich this coming Saturday.


JULIES PANTRY, ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?

Perhaps the most inventive tour in rock history, The International Karate Plus are doing a bank holiday tour of service stations on the M4 this Monday:

12:00 Membury Services East bound
13:00 Reading Services East bound
14:00 Reading Services West bound
15:00 Membury Services West bound
16:00 Leigh Delamere Services West bound
17:00 Magor Services West bound
20:00 Newport Meze Lounge
(That last one isn't a service station, by the way, so you might want to make sure you've got your boiled sweets and CDs of The Greatest Soul Tracks Ever before leaving Magor services.


IF YOU MET A REAL DIRTY WOMAN, YOU'D NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO

Oh, McFly, we can't believe you really want us to think their fans are dirty bitches; we find it hard to imagine any of their fans have made it as far as puberty yet. But let's hear Dougie the "bassist" out, shall we?:

"Our fans are dirty bitches. They say they're strippers to try and get into our house. They make us laugh because despite how horny and creepy they are, they are quite loyal and dedicated to us, which is quite nice."

That's no way to talk about eight year-olds, lad.


JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE WINS DAMAGES

Good god, who can trust these days if not the News of the World and some model? The High Court has heard that Lucy Clarkson duped the NOTW when she said she'd been intimate with Justin Timberlake:

David Griffiths said his client Ms Clarkson apologised for the "distress and embarrassment she has caused the claimant and Ms Diaz".

"She accepts that the story, which she sold to the newspaper, was an entire fabrication on her part and that she had not had an affair or fling with the claimant," said Mr Griffiths.


Justin is going to get a big fat cheque from Clarkson and from Rupert Murdoch's paper; money he can invest in his new trouser companyWilliam Rast.

Who knows what the future holds for Clarkson?

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We're starting to wonder if she really is an expert in martial arts and arcaheology...


PEYROUX, WHERE DID YOU GO?

The Guardian diary has been keeping an interested eye on the story of the Jazz singer who went AWOL - or perhaps didn't. Yesterday, they were fretting that maybe it was all a publicity stunt:

We're aware, of course, of the irony of this column ranting on journalistic standards, but we still begin with the curious tale of the disappearance of singer Madeleine Peyroux. Last week Madeleine's record company, Universal, informed the press that the singer had done a runner (again!) and they were "considering hiring a private detective to track her down". Naturally we missed the story, assuming it was simply one of those silly-season tales - a publicity stunt, perhaps, invented by her record company - but as ever we were widely out of line with the consensus. The Independent's Stephen Khan, in a 1,543-word opus on the subject, reports: "Here was a 31-year-old American woman on the cusp of greatness, being compared to Billie Holiday and Bob Dylan as her new album Careless Love received rave reviews, and suddenly it appears she wants none of it." Meanwhile, over at the Times, Adam Sherwin suggests: "Her disappearance is unlikely to be a publicity stunt, however, like the one dreamed up by the Clash in 1982 to drum up ticket sales." Oh really? We heard Madeleine was at her home in the country all the time. Or as the singer's manager puts it: "She is absolutely fine and has always been absolutely fine." Solid work, gentlemen.

It was Universal's Linda Valentine who sent out the offending press release, so we call to check if she's still desperately seeking Madeleine. Have you tried calling her at home, we ask? "Er, what do you think?" she stutters. Well, we think that if you made that call you'd discover that she's there. "She's turned up fine. It is called capitalising on a situation rather than a shameless publicity stunt," Linda explains. "A bit like Drongo's goal for Arsenal on Sunday." Er, Drogba for Chelsea? "Ah yes, that's it. That's too much for me." You don't say.


So far, so murky. Today, though, they return to the story with a curious new development:

More on the curious tale of singer Madeleine Peyroux and her record company, Universal. You'll recall Universal sent out a story that it was considering hiring a private detective to track down the artist, who it accused of doing a runner. She was (of course) at home all the time; and as we hear Madeleine is unhappy about the stunt we ask her manager, Cynthia Herbst, if there'll be any action? "We never, ever publish lies to the press and this has all been lies," says Cynthia. "Madeleine is feeling really disappointed that anybody at Universal would do this. We're not going to the battle ground, but we're taking the high ground." Cynthia is asking Universal for "a complete retraction and an apology to Madeleine". Developing, as they say.

So... from where we're sitting, it seems like Madeleine had had enough of sitting in draughty breakfast TV studios and went home; Universal, in a bid to try and save face and develop some sort of press coverage, cooked up the story of her 'disappearance' knowing full well she was cutting her toenails in front of the Jay Leno show back in New York. We'd love to be a fly on the wall at the planning for the next album promo campaign - "So, Maddy, how would you like it if we claimed you were dead?" Indeed, the whole murky business suggests that the Universal press office has more than a little in common with that kid on the Channel 4 documentary last night, who managed to dupe into his friend into believing that, in order to meet the Queen, he had to stab him.

Hang about a moment, though: There's more. Today's Independent reports that Madeleine is being sued by an ex-boyfriend, who claims that he discovered her, only to be abandoned:

[William] Galison, a jazz harmonica player, is claiming that much of the present interest was due to him. He will tell the court that he in effect rediscovered her playing in a bar in New York in 2002 during the seven-year period in which she "vanished" after the success of her debut album, Dreamland, in 1996.

He told The Independent yesterday that the couple immediately teamed up after the meeting - playing in a series of influential venues such as New York's Bottom Line and Joe's Pub. They also performed with the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra before an audience that included the former prime minister John Major and his wife, Norma. In the meantime they also moved in together, he says.


We're not sure if the detail about John Major is thrown in here to try and make the story seem a little more glamorous. Doesn't really work, does it?

"We were romantically involved. She lived with me, she was eating my food. We were romantically involved and we had an amazing act. But suddenly she stopped working with me," he said.

He says Peyroux used the album they had co-funded and recorded at a studio in Brooklyn as a demo for the Universal-licensed label Rounder. After their relationship collapsed, Galison tried to market the record with another label. But the company dropped it after being contacted by lawyers for Rounder, he said.

In a letter to the co-founder of Rounder, Ken Irwin, Galison said: "I am concerned about Madeleine's career and her psychological well-being. You know well that Madi has a history of attempted suicide. Now she finds herself facing a federal lawsuit with no representation and everything to lose. If God forbid, Madi should harm herself as a result of the stress of this episode, it will be her handlers - those who encouraged her to lie and betray her friends for their own selfish motives - who will be to blame."


Ooh, he's quite the charmer, isn't he? It's a pity he went to the effort of writing a letter - the normal way to do this would be to go up to Ken Irwin, wave a picture of Peyroux, and mutter "Pretty thing, isn't she? Be a shame if something... happened to her... pushed her over the edge..."

Rounder's lawyers have suggested that Galison may be using the legal dispute as an "ill-advised attempt ... to trade on the name and reputation of Ms Peyroux to boost his career by passing off an inferior version of a Madeleine Peyroux album".

They also claimed to have obtained "directly and from Ms Peyroux, evidence of numerous incidents of physically and verbally abusive behaviour by Mr Galison against Ms Peyroux".

Galison claims the allegations of abuse are libellous. Peyroux's lawyers will tell the court that such has been Galison's behaviour that the singer has contemplated filing criminal harassment charges. He denies the claim.


So... is that all clear, then?


MAYBE HE'LL DO ONE OF YOUR SONGS, TOO, CHRIS

We're sure Chris Martin sees the current Coldplay acoustic version of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire as a tribute (we'd quite like to hear this, although only once, merely to confirm it's as awful as we suspect). We're not sure it's that much of a tribute, though.

Jim McCabe brought this to our attention, and observed:

Can't quite picture Gwyneth as June Carter, though.

Too true. And Cash would never have called a kid apple, neither.


JACKO ACCUSER MOM IN TROUBLE HERSELF

The mother of the boy who recently got Michael Jackson into court on child-touching charges is going to find herself in the dock pretty soon - She's been accused of fraudulently collecting welfare benefits while sitting on USD150,000 she'd picked up from a lawsuit against a department store. How did the authorities find out? A little bird told them...



Or, rather, she got asked about it during the court case.

Somewhat sweetly, she's not being named in court to "protect her son", in case anyone works out that he was the boy at the centre of the case. Because it's just possible that someone might follow this case who didn't hear about the earlier one where he was named. The BBC website shows just how that might be a bit of a forlorn hope:

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

FOO *COUGH*

Uh-oh: falling victim to the awful "is this mic on, then" today was Dave Grohl, who sat in Jo Whiley on Radio One this morning. She played Elbow's cover of Independent Women; he blurted "what the fuck was that?" before realising that - yes - he was live in people's offices, dental surgeries and car valeting stations across the nation.

Everyone apologised, and just as he was about to be forgiven, Grohl went and did a cover of bloody Lyla by Oasis. You can see pictures and hear that on the internet.


DOLLS DUMP READING/LEEDS

One of the bits of the Reading Festival that was lipsmacking delicious, the Dresden Dolls, isn't now going to happen - Brian Viglione elected to not come to Europe and although Amanda Palmer is planning to go ahead with solo stuff in Edinburgh and Glasgow, she's not keen on doing the festival dates without her partner.


MONEY CAN BUY YOU LOVE - OFFICIAL

We would encourage you all to part with the money required to make yourself the proud owners of Helen Love's Long Hot Summer single.


NO ENTRY FOR BET LYNCH'S LEGS' LEGS?

As it becomes clear that the ideas for Top 10 lists are starting to run dangerously low, Spin has released a top 25 rock bodyparts issue. Number one is Madonna's navel; edging out Keith Richards' liver (there as the ultimate rock survivor, of course). Springsteen's arse makes the list, along with 50 Cent's chest and Tommy Lee's cock.

We're sure you could actually make better suggestions. We know from reading our site stats that Edith Bowman's tits are incredibly sought-after; Brian Molko's bald patch is often-discussed in our house; and Pete Doherty's track marks are surely driving much of rock music right now. Cheryl Tweedy's fists, perhaps?


MONKEY BUSINESS

We're a little worried about the MediaGuardian's Media Monkey, as the bananas seem to be getting to him. This is the current lead story on the page:

It's heartening to see the BBC playing such a forthright role in the rehabilitation of Jonathan King. The pop impresario, jailed in 2001 for sexually abusing boys, was one of the featured artists on this week's Top of the Pops 2, introduced by presenter Steve Wright as "our old friend Jonathan King". Ah yes, old friend indeed. The song, in case you're interested, was Let It All Hang Out, a top 30 hit from 1970, Monkey understands. Readers may recall that King was a guest on Victoria Derbyshire's Radio Five phone-in last month, an unlikely booking that later prompted the BBC to apologise, describing him as an "inappropriate choice of guest". Next he'll be bagging a guest spot as a judge on Celebrity Fame Academy.

We're puzzled as to what channel Moneky is watching "this week's" TOTP2 praise for the dubious Mr. King on. Only on our telly, TOTP2 was axed from BBC TWO a year ago. Surely Monkey isn't confusing a re-run on UK G2 with a programme made recently, is he?


DID AXL ATTEMPT TO PULL THE WOOL AND STUPID HAT OVER SLASH'S EYES?

According to the special letter they've had drawn up by a solicitor-type bloke, Slash and Duff have been ripped off by Axl Rose. They claim Axl sold Guns N Roses songs to a new company without asking them. Oh, and did we mention that Axl owned the company he sold the songs to?


GOOD GRIEF - SURELY THIS MUST BE MADE UP

Britney Spears is just weeks away now from creating life, and, of course, she's choosing an astonishingly stupid way of doing it. Apparently, she's determined to have an underwater birth - in itself, dangerous and ill-advised - in a tub filled with Kabbalah water. That's about four thousand dollars worth of water (at Kabbalah price) or two hundred bucks if you just bought identical water off the shelf at your local shop.


WELL, IT'S ONE WAY TO SHUT THE CRAZY FROG UP

In a bid to "fend off foreign influences", Saparmurad Niyazov, the President of Turkmenistan has banned recorded music. The ban covers public events, weddings and television. If this seems a little extreme, you have to remember that Niyazov has already renamed the days of the week after his family and banned all opposition parties. And all opposition generally, come to that. And introduced strict exit visas to stop people leaving. Oddly, the nation somehow seems to get overlooked when Bush is getting all enthusiastic about bringing democracy to the world - perhaps because nobody does business in Turkmenistan without Niyazov's approval, and there's quite a big oil pipeline running through the country.

MTV is unlikely to be expanding into the country soon.


SPARE THE ROD

The trouble bubbling away following the cancellation of a Rod Stewart gig in 2000 continues to make a mess of Rod's metaphorical stovetop. He's being sued in Las Vegas by Harrah, who want the money they'd paid him back. Not unreasonably, you might think.

Stewart had pulled the gig because he'd had thyroid cancer surgery; he says he held on to the money because he was still willing to do the gig at some point. Last November, a court in LA ordered Stewart to give back a similar bunch of cash he was sitting on from Latin America. Stewart's appealing against that one, too.


PULL OFF YOUR EARS

We're trying not to get out of proportion the news that Katie Melua is planning to suck all the emotion out of Just Like Heaven by the Cure for a Reese Witherspoon movie of the same name. We're just going to smash a few windows, burn a few cars, and so on. The soundtrack is also going to feature Kelis doing Brass In Pocket and Kay Hanley having a go at Iggy's Lust For Life.

Oh, Lord, why have you forsaken us?


WHERE IS BEATLES BAND FROM?

There's a worrying, clammy hand clenching at the chest of Liverpool cty council and tourist officials - as they drive from John Lennon Airport to the Beatles Story Exerience past the sign reminding people the the city is the Birthplace of the Beatles, they worry that the link between the city and the band might pass some people by.

We know, we know: it's a little like Stratford-upon-Avon authorities worrying that maybe people don't know that Shakespeare came from there.

Meanwhile, the Beatles weekend is about to get underway in the city, despite erm, the terrorist bombs in London. Actually, a bigger problem seems to have been the Met shooting a Brazilian and then lying about it - there have been quite a few cancellations from Brazil; but that's more disgust at the attempts to cover-up than fear.


MARK IT IN YOUR DIARIES

Radio One have just announced plans to make October 13th John Peel Day, an annual event commemorating the man with a string of gigs across the country.

Sheila, his wife, is involved in the planning:

"John would have been honoured and fairly amazed that the anniversary is being marked in such a way. He would appreciate that in years to come Peel Day will give new bands across the country the chance to be heard."

Andy Parfitt, the Radio 1 controller, said: "Peel Day is about celebrating John's legacy and his unrivalled passion for music. It'll be a day of gigs taking place up and down the country, something we feel will be a fitting tribute to John."


BPI ROLLS OVER SYLVIA PRICE

Sylvia Price, the woman who was threatened by the BPI because, they alleged, her daughter had been offering uploads of songs by the likes of Coldplay, has had to give in. Because she can't afford to cover the costs of the court case, she's offered a settlement of £2,500.

Obviously, she can't afford that, either - so she's going to be paying twenty quid a month to the BPI for the next decade. We wonder if they're going to send someone round to knock on the door once a month.

Still, its a brilliant earner for the BPI, isn't it? Send huge cash demands to people who can't afford to test their liability in court, and sit back and let the cash roll in as they're bounced into signing up to a loan-shark style monthly payment for the rest of their working lives. But remember: technically, kids, this isn't extortion.


YOU WOULDN'T WISH IT ON ANYONE

Back in April, you'll recall, there was the curious case of Michelle Heaton, who claimed she'd had her drink spiked with a date rape drug, because there was no way she could have been drunk as she'd only had a couple of drinks.

Now, it seems, the same thing has happened to fellow ITV Popstars contestant Javine:

“It was so frightening. One minute Javine was fine and having a laugh, and the next she had wiped out. It takes more than two glasses of wine for Javine to get merry, so we all knew something wasn’t right.

“We took her back to her flat, which is nearby, and put her to bed. She was really ill the next day and missed her rehearsal for ITV’s Disco Mania show.

“She couldn’t eat a thing all day, felt really woozy and said it was like being poisoned. At one point, Javine was being sick.


So you think your friend had been poisoned with an unknown substance, and you take her home and leave her in her bed?

If it is the case that Javine had her drink spiked, that's clearly horrific, and we hope that Javine and her team have reported the incident to the police. Because, of course, nobody would sink to claiming their drinks were spiked to explain away missing rehearsals. Would they?


MADONNA FLATTERED TO DECEIVE

You might have thought that Dolce & Gabbana (they're kind of like Mike Baldwin without the charm) were keen to work with Madonna because the old boot still has a profile that will get their slacks and blouses into the newspapers. But, of course, they can't actually say "we're keen to tailgate on her press coverage" and so they flatter with the verbal equivalent of air-kissing:

"She is two women in one: aggressiveness and sweetness," Gabbana remembers the first time he saw the singer wearing his clothes, in a photo in the Internation Herald Tribune: "She looked just like a Sicilian woman. I said, "Domenico, look! Madonna is wearing our clothes!" Soon afterwards, we met her, she was wearing a man's pinstripe. She is one of the most amazing people. from her I have learned so much: about women, about business, about humanity.""

Goodness! A woman wearing a man's suit? Whatever next, eh?


DEBBIE GIBSON "NOT PREGNANT WITH NIXON'S TWO-HEADED LOVE CHILD"

First Coogan denied it; now, from the depths of rehab, comes a statement from Courtney Love:

"Courtney Love wishes to make it clear that she denies recent stories suggesting she is pregnant or has had a relationship with Steve Coogan," said the statement released by Sanctuary Artist Management.

"She confirms that she and Steve are good friends and have met a few times in Los Angeles."


Well... that's a weekend knitting booties wasted, then.


Monday, August 22, 2005

HALF A STEP FORWARD

The new deal struck between Playlouder and Sony-BMG is being hailed as a new route to the future whereby people could fileshare, without being sued by the BPI. It's not quite as rosy for the consumers - or "us", as we're known - as it might seem at first glance.

For twenty six quid, you get your broadband deal and are allowed to download as much music from Sony BMG through the filesharing networks as you want. Just Sony so far, but Playlouder are convinced that the others will come on board shortly. You can see the attraction for Sony: they get a massive chunk of guaranteed cash, regardless of how many tracks get downloaded. But how is your average music fan meant to know if Sony-BMG own the rights to the track he's downloading? Are we supposed to check the individual, often tortuous, trail of copyright every single time we're going to download something?

And will Playlouder customers be given special treatment when it comes to BPI lawsuits? If they download a Mozzer track from his EMI years thinking HMV was a BMG label, will the BPI turn a blind eye as there would be a plausible defence for them if the case came to court?

And, more to the point: the BPI says that its targeting people who make their music available online - in other words, it's going after the uploaders. But if there are deals being cut whereby people can download legally, how can the record labels continue to prosecute anyone any more? People have every right to make digital copies of the music they own; they have every right to have peer to peer software on their PCs. If there are people on those networks who have paid for the legal right to download music - where exactly is the justice in suing anyone in the deal? Indeed, since Sony are taking a big slice of cash from people on the basis that they expect to be able to download the label's music from peer to peer networks, in what way is it in Sony's interests to remove the music from those networks by bringing punitive legal actions against uploaders? If the BPI is successful in forcing file sharers off the internet, nobody is going to be paying a cash premium to Playlouder and on to the labels in order to download that music in the first place, surely?

Unless they expect only people who are paying for the music through the Playlouder model to be uploading as well - but why would anyone want to buy music twice, once at the store, and then again through their ISP by paying for the upload?


IT MAKES A GLOOPY, STICKY MESS ON YOUR FACE, BOYS

A couple of years ago, Nivea had a TV commercial that was so poor we did wonder if there was some hidden motive at work - two blokes watching an advert for a Nivea product moaning about the model and the stupidness of the idea, before concluding they might go and try some. The agency was presumably thinking "we can show a couple of chaps have exactly the same concerns about the very idea of using cosmetics on their manly faces, but, hey, they're prepared to give it a shot." The trouble is, it had the air of two straight men watching gay porn, complaining about how awful and wrong it was, before sneaking off home to get out the Kleenex and have a sob and an auto-slap.

Nivea's advertising for blokes since then has got slightly better, and now they've signed up to be sponsors for Tim Lovejoy's new Virgin radio sports and music show. The funny thing, though, the combination of big-fish-in-small-pool of Sport AM TV guy, a sports show that plays music (or is it a music show that features sport?) and face product for blokes seems less like a marriage made in marketing heaven; more like an idea pulled out from boxes at random. Even Virgin's head of sponsorship finds it tricky to sound that enthused by the idea:

“We presented a highly customised package to Nivea For Men that was tailored to have most impact with our listeners.

“The combination of Virgin Radio, Tim Lovejoy and Nivea For Men oozes fun and passion for sport combined with great music.”


The second sentence, in particular, sounds like something you'd get as a runner-up in one of those "using your skill and judgement, complete the following sentence in ten words or less" competitions.


WE'VE JUST GOT THESE...

Some new tour dates from Mercury-smothered cuties Antony & The Johnsons:

November 2005
Tue 22 Wolverhampton, Civic Hall
Wed 23 York, Opera House
Fri 25 Dublin, Vicar Street
Wed 30 Glasgow, Academy

December 2005

Fri 02 Bristol, Academy
Sun 04 All Tomorrow's Parties
Mon 05 London, Shepherd's Bush Empire

They've been nominated for a Mercury Rev, you know.


WHAT MOTIVATES AVRIL LAVIGNE

We seem to recall Avril insisting that her music was all about art and emotion and what is real not so long ago. Not anymore. She's admitted what her motivation is - a cycle of flogging stuff:

"I want to be played on the radio. I want to have Top 40 hits," she said. "I want people to hear my music. I like it when people come to my show, and if they don't know my record, they know my songs, because they've been on the radio. I like that."

But what sort of art do you create if you produce not to add your voice to the world, or to bring your life into focus, but merely to ensure popularity with the computers in Clear Channel HQ? (Clue: listen to the latest Avril Lavigne album.) Yes, people will know your songs when you play them, but people know the Shake and Vac ad lyrics; popularity and creative value are not the same thing.


HOW MUCH DO THE LABELS CARE ABOUT THEIR ARTISTS?

First, the good news: Madeleine Peyroux has been found - the jazz singer had gone AWOL when she was meant to be promoting her current album. It turned out that she was actually staying with her own manager, in a bid to avoid her own record company and their plans for album promotion. And how have her label reacted?

Bill Holland of Universal Classics and Jazz have said the discovery was "much to our embarrassment" and then... well, you can feel the sympathy:

"She doesn't want to see anyone or do any promotion," he told BBC One's Breakfast, adding that he was "fed up" with her behaviour.

"She's gone off - that's what she does and she won't come back."


If you had that level of concern, support and care coming from your record label, wouldn't you want to go and hide from them, too?


WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?

When you hear that Oasis have produced another album, it's natural to ask yourself 'why?' Now, Noel Gallagher has provided an answer - he's too dull to think of anything else to do:

There are periods where you think, "What am I doing?" or "What am I doing it for?"; that's a more scary question. "I've made s---loads of money, I've left my mark in music, why am I still doing this?," and it takes a while to answer that question. It comes back every time we're at the end of a tour and you have three or four months off and then you've got to get back on the saddle. More often than not, the answer that comes back from me is, "What else are you going to do?"

I struggle with this conundrum. It's not a very noble thing to carry on, it's not very dashing. But I often meet people who've been in great bands and you go, "What are you doing now?" and they say, "I'm not doing anything," and I think that's more sad.


Really, Noel? You think there's sadness in having the dignity to know it's not worth churning out any old tosh just because you've got nothing else to do with your time?

In the first episode of Coronation Street, Albert Tatlock memorably tells Ken Barlow when he goes down the library he wants to shout at the old geezers they need to get a hobby, otherwise they'll just wither and die. He might have more usefully told them to get some outside interests, otherwise they'll end up recording pubplods like Lyla.

Not that Noel's afraid of his place in musical history:

Razorlight, the Libertines, the Killers, the Strokes, Kings of Leon and Jet, all these bands are (citing) "Definitely Maybe" (the band's 1994 debut album).

We were the first people to come out and say, "The world's a great place, life is for living. Forget grunge music. Get a pint of Guinness down your neck, and pick that guitar up."


Sweet... when faced with "if you seek my legacy, look around", Noel sees Razorlight and The Strokes. Whereas, everyone else sees Athlete and Coldplay.

And we love the idea that Oasis were the original hedonists - they weren't even the original hedonist revivalists, coming so soon after the New Wave of New Wave bands.


ELECTROBIT

The death has been announced of Robert Moog, electronic music pioneer and father of the synth - and, therefore, creator of the 1980s.

The Moog was the original synthesizer, first demonstrated in 1964. Although some argue he was pipped to the post as the first by Donald Buchla's modular synthesizer, it was Moog's machine which was taken to people's hearts; it was a Moog that the Beatles plugged in when they were recording Because; it was a Moog which was used for the Clockwork Orange soundtrack. And Moog was set to become an even more familiar name on the music scene in 1971 when he introduced the MiniMoog Model D, a single, compact unit which went on to sell 13,000 in the next decade. By 1977, you couldn't move for Moog-sounds in the charts, from Donna Summer's I Feel Love through to Kraftwerk.

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Ironically, for someone seen as the enemy of "real" music, Moog's mother had wished her son would become a concert pianist - he would later credit her attempts to persuade him in this direction as the reason why he took to seeking solace in science. Moog's initial interest in electronic music had led him to create and sell a 'build it yourself' theremin kit while still at Cornell University; the USD13,000 the 19 year-old made off that product was to provide the seed capital with which he established his own company.

Having invented and popularised the synth, Moog sold his company to Norlin, a more traditional instrument company, and although he stayed on for a while, he was eventually forced out by company politics, watching from the sidelines as the company launched a couple of shitty products bearing his name but none of his design. As synths went digital in the latter half of the 70s, Moog again sat to one side. And while he's proud of what synths did for music (they "introduced a vast array of new timbres and textures to the available palette of musical sound", he said), he is quick to deny that he had any special role in their genesis, according to a Salon profile:

While some have credited Moog with helping to foment a "democratization of music," he will hear none of it. That societal shift came about thanks to "cheesy Casio and Yamaha keyboards that sold for $100 to $500" and were "small and portable and battery-powered, so you could take them to a party or to the beach," he says. "I see these devices as being on a branch of music technology that is completely separate from the analog synthesizers of the 1970s."

In 2002, Moog bought back the rights to the Moog name and launched a new version of the MiniMoog; he also created the "interactive piano" for Yamaha, an instrument which utilises electronic technology in the body of a piano with a traditional sound. At long last, his ambitions finally chimed with those of his mother.


MORE POLITICAL TROUBLE FOR THE STONES

With the Rolling Stones now desperately trying to back-pedal on their song Sweet Neo-con in the face of disapproval from Fox News, a second front in the political crisis for Jagger has opened up with the band's belated discovery that Angela Merkel is using 'Angie' as her campaign song in the German general election:

'We didn't grant permission,' said a spokesman for the band. 'We are surprised that permission was not requested. If it had been, we would have said no.'

Yes, god forbid anyone might think the Stones actually have an opinion. Curiously, though, permission actually does appear to have been granted - the Christian Democrats claim they approached Gema, who deal with music rights in Germany; Gema apparently didn't see a problem.

Meanwhile, a woman was injured at the first night of the Stones' world tour in Boston when she fell from the rafters at the Fenway Park venue. She'd been spotted dangling, but lost her grip before the fire brigade could rescue her.


X-SPATOR

I'd often wondered exactly who it was who watched the X-Factor, since anyone with a central nervous system surely finds it impossible to watch Sharon Osbourne for more than two or three minutes without trying to put their own eyes out with a pair of nail clippers. Yesterday, it all became clear, as having spent the morning playing at Darth Vader, the kids from the next street started to play at being Simon Cowell instead. No, really.

Meanwhile, the real thing is having a public spat with Steve Brookstein. Brookstein, who seems to be genuinely surprised that winning the programme last year that he hasn't ascended to heaven in a gilded Clairol Footspa. And, just as we imagine the suicide bombers feel when they discover that, actually, there aren't lots of virgins waiting for them, just a long drawn out future of being in pieces and very dead, Brookstein is keen to find someone else to blame for his disappointment. In Steve's view, it's all down to Simon Cowell, who "undermines artist's credibility" and the programme, which is "killing music."

Well, yes, Poindexter, but it's been running in one form or another for half a decade so why did you go on a programme like that? It's no good wailing "it's killing music and they're rude to the singers" when you'd have been at home watching the process since the start of the century.

Cowell, meanwhile, just returns the bitterness with some snide snark, saying that without the X-Factor, Brookstein would be a nobody. Which, again is true, although to be fair, even with the X-Factor, he's still a nobody.