Saturday, December 17, 2005


While it's not entirely unusual for Ashlee Simpson to cave in during a show, she doesn't normally do so physically. Just after a performance for MTV Japan, Simpson fell into a useless heap in a lift. Everyone's keeping tight-lipped over what happened at the moment, the sort of gap which allows ill-informed speculation to grow.

Japan? That's sort-of near China. They had bird flu there. OMG ASHLEE SIMPSON HAS GOT BIRDFLU!



Well, there is to be no surprised recommissioning of the Newlyweds - Jessica Simpson has filed for divorce from Nick Lachey. Apparently the filing, under the "Reasons for request for a divorce" has the words "hello? Like, he's so not helping my career anymore. I really need to be getting a little of that Aniston "mending her broken heart" action to help shift the leftover 7-11 Christmas albums from last year. And I can't really do that with a husband, even if it's name only."

Early predictions are that Jessica will keep the press attention, while Nick will get the beach house and a chance for a go on Ashlee, if he wants.


We always rush to slap the big music companies around when they do something stupid, so it's only fair we should offer praise when they realise they've stepped over the line and say sorry. We decided on this policy quite a while ago, and now, we're putting it into action as we say well done to Warner Chappell Music for admitting they got it wrong.

WCM had sent a threatening email to the chap who invented the iTunes Pear Lyrices plug-in; they thought it was some sort of filesharing lyrics thingy, and sent a heavy-handed email. Now, they're saying sorry:

"The goal of Warner/Chappell's prior letter to pearworks was to gain assurance that pearLyrics operated according to (copyright) principles. However, in both tone and substance, that letter was an inappropriate manner in which to convey that inquiry. Warner/Chappell apologizes to Walter Ritter and pearworks."

Of course, in the current shoot off a lawyer's letter, ask questions if there's anything left atmosphere, this sort of thing - clunking misunderstandings, mulit-million pound companies leaning heavily on people who aren't doing anything wrong - happens a lot; it's just the apology that's rare. It's great that Warner Chappell have admitted they interfered with someone's program for no reason and - in copying emails to third parties such as Apple - libelled him; but it might be better if they had done their investigations before they went in mob-handed.


Of course, if someone tries to do something nice these days, it usually backfires - and despite our warning that sticking a copy of the fans-only Kaiser Chiefs single onto eBay straight away would be tacky, they're turning up on Ebay now. There's a Buy It Now price of about fifty quid on them, too.

Karl T brought this to our attention, and the large amount of grumbling caused by what we can only see as a commercialisation of Christmas. Earlier, there was a fake Ebay auction (now removed) set up as a grumbling forum, he reports:

Kaiser Chief fans are amazing, we learn. We also learn that Kaiser Chief fans may suffer because this record is being auctioned, although quite how is not made immediately clear.

It also begs the question as to why, if they're such great Kaiser Chief fans, they weren't signed up to the mailing list early enough to receive a copy- I signed up last Monday and was very surprised to find a copy sitting on my doormat yesterday morning.

Of course, it's hard to see how they could have stopped this happening anyway - unless they set a 50 question quiz to decide who'd get the free vinyl, you're always going to wind up with some ending up in the hands of people who would flog 'em straight away - it's just now, with ebay, it's easier for people to see it happening. And, if they really want one that badly, get hold of one. Ten years ago, and you'd have had to hoof round the country's second hand record shops looking for one. It's not ideal, but at least the second hand market is a bit fairer now.


If it wasn't for Yasmin, Simon LeBon reckons he'd be dressing like a tramp right now - although, to be honest, before she turned up he only looked like a tramp would have done if he was stealing silk sheets from Omar Sharif's washing line.

And even if he wasn't married now, he could always ask Nick Rhodes for tips.


How tempting is it, when somebody asks you for a line of a foreign language they can slip into conversation, to give them something rude or embarrassing? Of course, you never would, because everyone checks and finds out what they're saying before they use it, right? Simply because they know that temptation for mischief is there.

It seems not everyone - perhaps Mariah's word-checking flunky was off when her mate told her to drop the phrase "Ce repas etait si excitant que je me suis fait dessus" at fancy restaurants. However it happened, Mariah has been telling waiters across the city that was such a thrilling meal, I've pissed myself.

We don't know if you've bought a gift for Mariah yet, but...

maybe a guide to conversational French?


The trouble with officially-scripted lines of the day is that all involved have to remember exactly what the slight fib they're telling is. Take, for example, Jason Orange and Lulu. For years, the official line has been "ha - it was all friendly flirt". Only last night, Howard Donald forgot - probably having had his first decent meal for five years had given him a sugar rush - and he blurted the truth to Jonathan Ross - they did it. They did do sex. Together.

The Mirror seems to find this all a little unsavory, sniffing about the "twenty-two year age difference", as if the eldest one was thirty or something when it happened.

What it all points up, of course, is just why the That reunion is so much fun - it's like a pop music event, only with the pop group no longer caught in the rigid rules of what boybands can and can't do. (Unlike, say, Robbie, still having to instruct lawyers to "prove" he's heterosexual enough to appeal to key demographics.) It's actually an interesting insight - for years we'd assumed that Robbie had "won" the post-Take That war; now, he's looking increasingly like the kid who was made to stay back and finish his homework long after everyone else was out playing about on the football pitch.


And she couldn't have done it without the help of Bobby Brown, either - yes, they've been voted tackiest couple of the year, fighting off competiton from Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, and Jordan. And Jordan and Peter Andre.

Sadly, they can't be here to pick up their awards, as they're scrabbling round for rocks in the gutter.


Buy what appears to be no longer called the Blue Peter BookWe were a little surprised to discover that Chris Martin accepted a Gold Blue Peter badge to mark his work as apologist for the Bono-Geldof regime ("work for Make Poverty History"), as we'd have thought the modern BP, where Konnie Huq sometimes wears a bikini, would have been a bit racy for the clean-living ("dull") Martin.

You'll recall, of course, that yesterday Victoria Newton was raging in the pages of the Sun about staged publicity photos. Which is quite right - there should be a campaign. If she's looking for more examples of awkward staged pictures, she could try working with this one, which features, erm, Victoria Newton and Chris Martin.

Friday, December 16, 2005


How do all these people flogging space tourism trips actually get away with it? "Book now, just in case the technology is there in a few year's time." You'd have to be a special shade on the stupid paintchart to fall for such an offer.

In perhaps related news, Robbie Williams has bought a ticket to go to the moon or something:

A Robbie source told the Daily Star: "It's always been Robbie's dream to go into space. When he was a little boy he always said he wanted to be a ghostbuster or an astronaut. He was watching the new Space Cadets reality show and wondered how easy it would be to go into space. So his reseacher found out about Virgin's flights. He will do whatever it takes to get a seat."

Obviously, though, that would be anything that isn't gay.


We don't know a great deal about football... but one thing we do know is that Glasgow is the sort of place where you don't take sides unless you know that you're in front of a partisan crowd. It seems, though, that even this basic fact has escaped Liam Gallagher, who managed to piss off half the audience last night.

By dedicating a song to Roy Keane, who's just signed for Celtic. Cue a hail of bottles from the Rangers fans in the audience.

If Liam doesn't even know anything about football, what does he know about?


As if to remind us that it probably has become the biggest event on the musical calendar, SXSW has started to announce acts for 2006, including Neil Young, KD Lang, Sam Moore, The Pretenders and Billy Bragg.

Young is down to give the keynote speech, which will prove a challenge for whoever has to mic him up for that one.

Those early bands in full:
The Adored (Los Angeles, CA)
Annie (Bergen, Norway)
Arctic Monkeys
Belle and Sebastian (Glasgow, UK)
The BellRays (Los Angeles, CA)
Be Your Own PET (Nashville, TN)
Blockhead (New York, NY)
The Boy Least
Likely To (Wendover, UK)
The Brokedown (Los Angeles, CA)
Calexico (Tucson, AZ)
Neko Case (Tacoma, WA)
Cat Power (Atlanta, GA)
clap your hands say yeah (Brooklyn, NY)
Clor (London, UK)
Jason Collett (Toronto, Ontario)
The Cribs (Wakefield, UK)
Cuff the Duke (Toronto, Ontario)
Jamie Cullum (London, UK)
Dashboard Confessional (Boca Raton, FL)
Death In Vegas (London, UK)
Death Vessel (Brooklyn, NY)
Dengue Fever (Los Angeles, CA)
Destroyer (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Die! Die! Die! (Auckland, New Zealand)
Dirty Pretty Things (London, UK)
Jorge Drexler (Madrid, Spain)
Dr. Spock (Reykjavik, Iceland)
The Duke Spirit (London, UK)
The Earlies (Manchester, UK)
Echo & The Bunnymen (Liverpool, UK)
Editors (Birmingham, UK)
The Eighteenth Day Of May (London, UK)
Elbow (Manchester, UK)
Empire Dogs (Stockholm, Sweden)
Erase Errata (San Francisco, CA)
Faker (Sydney, Australia)
Flogging Molly (Los Angeles, CA)
Forward Russia (Leeds, UK)
Giant Sand (Tucson, AZ)
Gogol Bordello (New York, NY)
Jose Gonzalez (Gothenburg, Sweden)
The Go! Team (Brighton, UK)
Headphones (Seattle, WA)
The Hellacopters (Stockholm, Sweden)
Clarence Frogman Henry (New Orleans, LA)
The Juan Maclean (Dover, NH)
Kaki King (New York, NY)
Kalas (Oakland, CA)
k-os (Whitby, Ontario)
Sharron Kraus & Christian Kiefer (London, UK)
Lady Sovereign
The Like (Los Angeles, CA)
Los De Abajo (Mexico, City, Mexico)
Luminous Orange (Yokohama Japan)
Barbara Lynn (Beaumont, TX)
The Magic Numbers (London, UK)
Magnolia Electric Company (Chicago, IL)
Serena Maneesh (Oslo, Norway)
Mates of State (East Haven, CT)
The Morning
After Girls (Sydney, Australia)
The Most Serene Republic (Toronto, Ontario)
Mystery Jets (London, UK)
My Summer as a Salvation Soldier (Reykjavik, Iceland)
Neon Blonde (Seattle, WA)
Nickel Creek (Carlsbad, CA)
n0 things (Brooklyn, NY)
Of Montreal (Athens, GA)
Beth Orton (London, UK)
Peaches (Berlin, Germany)
The Plimsouls (Los Angeles, CA)
Robert Pollard (Dayton, OH)
Ramblin' Jack Elliot (New York, NY)
Saves the Day (Princeton, NJ)
The Secret Machines (New York NY)
Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives (Hendersonville, TN)
Tarantula A D (New York, NY)
Susan Tedeschi (Jacksonville, FL)
Towers of London (London, UK)
KT Tunstall (London, UK)
Two Gallants (San Francisco, CA)
Tom Verlaine (New York, NY)
Vetiver (San Francisco, CA)
The Whigs (Athens, GA)
Witch (Brattleboro, VT)
Wolfmother (Sydney, Australia)


After all this time, Jimmy Saville is resurrecting his old record club for one day only. He's popping up on Real Radio to do a Christmas special - although the man who invented everything says its not a comeback:

"It's a one-off. There's no way I'm going to be doing anything regularly again.

"When you've done it all, seen it all and won it all like I have, there comes a time when you need a break.

"Fix It is so legendary that I don't need to do anything else - there's always clips of it on TV anyway."

You never really retire if your work lives on through nostalgia TV...


Who knew that Mark Owen could upset people? Someone - they don't seem to have left a name - has branded pretty little Mark a "heinous sicko" after he poked fun at Ian Curtis during a gig.

He ran through a cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart and then - shocka - pretended he'd hung himself. And to make matters worse, he even wore a tight shirt:

One fan said: "It seemed sick. It was heinous. He was even dressed like Ian Curtis with his tight shirt."

Isn't it time there was some sort of law protecting our cherished indie idols from jokey pastiche? If we don't crack down now, it'll end with people using Morrissey as a cuss-word and refusing to worship John Lydon as a god.


There's nothing gay at all about building a full-size football pitch at your house, and then inviting young men back for a kickabout, getting all hot and sweaty in those little shorts, and then needing to take a shower - just slip your clothes off, mate, I'll bring the loofah... no, nothing gay at all there. He's apparently putting together some sort of charity football team or something.


Yes. It's a very big television to have in your bedroom, isn't it?


You wonder what really goes on in the head of Guy Ritchie - not to the extent, good god, where you'd want him to make a film to show you, of course. But even so: to ask the Kaiser Chiefs once if they'd like you to make their videos and being rebuffed is one thing; to then return and ask them again (or "beg", as we call it).

Apparently, he wanted to branch out into doing pop videos because he likes to have his business fingers in a lot of pies - although since he's not done anything remotely successful since the turn of the century, there's really only one thing he needs to keep his finger in if he wants to go on eating.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Goodness, where does Bono find the hours in the day? Singing songs, meeting his chums on Wall Street for lunch, sorting out Africa, quick game of golf with George Bush, sitting down for tea and cakes with a racist homophobe, taking people to court to get back a pair of stinking trousers, and now he's going to be in a film, as well.

He's going to be Julie Taymor's Across The Universe; we were excited when we found out he was playing a character called Dr Robert, but it turns out it's not a Blow Monkeys biopic, which is where we lost interest.


Despite having fired her attorney for saying as much last week, Foxy Brown has confirmed that she's suffering from near-total hearing loss:

Foxy Brown, 26, told reporters today (Dec. 15) she is "strong, resilient and fortunate" and is focused on the "necessary surgery" to restore her hearing.

Brown, whose real name is Inga Marchand, was diagnosed with "sudden and severe hearing loss" in May. Since that time, she has "spent many confusing, agonizing nights crying in isolation and sorrow."

Admitting hearing loss is a tricky thing for musicians - nobody much ever wants to admit to a physical failing if they can possibly avoid doing it, but when your career is based on the quality of your sonic perception, it's very hard indeed - which accounts for Foxy's outburst earlier this week, we guess. Hearing can be restored in some cases, but it depends on what's caused it.


Her musical contribution to 2005 may have been slight, but luckily, the emergence of a small child and the on-off marriage to Kev has helped Britney Spears win the most-searched for term on Yahoo for the third time in four years.

Indeed, music seems to be the most sought-after thing on the web (they drop, of course, all the cocks and sex and titty-wank searchess before they do they adding up), as the next nine run:

2. 50 Cent
3. the Cartoon Network
4. Mariah Carey
5. Green Day
6. Jessica Simpson
7. Paris Hilton
8. Eminem
9. Ciara
10.Lindsay Lohan

(We guess the Cartoon Network must be some hot new Avril-punk act we're just too damn old to have heard of).


American-based pop culture magazine Radar has closed again. Puvlisher Mort Zuckerman and Jeffrey Epstein blame the economy:

"the current economic environment - primarily reflected in the magazine's lack of advertising traction - no longer makes it feasible to continue publishing."

Radar previously collapsed after just a couple of issues back in 2003. Editor-in-chief Maer Roshan is reportedly looking for backers to allow a third closure.


Quite why we should worry about chipping in a few quid to pay for the policing at Elton John's wedding, when the Thames Valley Force already siphons off cash to ensure that very few gatecrashers dressed as Bin Laden ever make it more than a few feet from members of the Royal Family we don't know, but apparently "the organisers" of the wedding are going to foot the bill anyway.

Does this mean - as Elton's going to be paying their wages - in effect, he'll be their employer for the day? That would give a man a lot of power, wouldn't it?


New Order are set to revive Joy Division, sort of, by re-recording and writing some stuff to soundtrack the Anton Corbijn Ian Curtis biopic Control. Peter Hook tells the NME:

"We were asked to do the soundtrack to the film which I thought was a fucking great idea, for Joy Division to do the music for a Joy Division film because we've never really done a soundtrack before. The soundtrack could include new stuff. Basically Anton wants to use certain songs by Joy Division so that each song becomes a video. Like the way the 'Atmosphere' video was filmed, he wants to write videos that appear in the film.

"Every time we get accolades for Joy Division it makes [Ian's suicide] sadder, especially with the film. Working on the film has made the whole thing seem more poignant."

We're keeping our fingers crossed that it's as good an idea as Hook thinks it is, and not as bad as it sounds to us.


As you may know, the RIAA is continuing its policy of treating filesharers like criminals, and have set loose bots on the web trying to find if people have made music available online. This sneaky little behaviour has, as Newton would predict, generated an equal and opposite reaction: across the world, people are adding a script to their websites aimed at slowing the bots down and generating a massive pile of false positives to make the reports useless without the investment of hours and hours of human time to sort them.

The thing is, you could have predicted this happening almost as soon as the idea formed in the head of a music industry executive as he was munching down on his expense account lunch. "We could try that" a sane person would have thought, "but as soon as we do, somebody will write a script that makes the process worthless. Let's not bother." The RIAA, though, either lacks the vision or the understanding of how things work online - once more illustrating why they're doomed to fail: they just don't get it.


As the end of the year trots ever closer, like a labrador with a floppy duck in its mouth, the reviews and charts continue to gather on the interyweb. Amongst the latest is Berkley Place's guide to the Top 20 mash-ups and covers of the year.

The Arcade Fire doing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Maps is at number one, and there's some interesting things further down the list - The Walkmen having a go at The Drifters, Bloc Party's pioneers reworked by the Mystery Jets.

Ekko also offers the biggest let-downs of the year, including the disappointing Electric 6 effort which showed they were, after all, a one-joke act (although after that pointless cover of Radio Ga-Ga, did anyone really have high hopes for Senor Smoke?); The White Stripes (good call - Jack White is going to have to turn his ego-trip around next year or by the time we hit 2007, he's going to find it difficult to get a seat in a Acres The Bakers, never mind any respect) and at number one, Ryan Adam's Jacksonville Skyline - "I hope he's not moving into Easy Listening."

Oh, and there's a top fifty of the best songs of the year as well, topped off by Death Cab For Cutie.

There's a fair smattering of musical illustration for these charts, too, of course.


Velvet Revolver, whose baffling presence at Live8 still has Pete Doherty wondering if it was real or just a hallucination, are starting work on their second album. And this time round, they're going to be doing a concept album.

They have a slight problem, in that they don't actually have a concept for it yet, but the last album was meant to be a showcase for their musical talents and they didn't have any of those, either.

We're betting, though, that the concept will include some, all or more of the following:

Nazi uniforms
Rock music being a unforgiving place
Thinly-conceived metaphors for drugs
Sex, most notably hot sex, all night long
Really, really hot nazi zombie chicks
The balance of trade deficit
Aren't women terrible?
... even the hot ones
Jack Daniels
Driving large cars in the desert


We're not surprised to hear that Liam Gallagher was spotted sobbing during a screening of King Kong, Peter Jackson's pointless remake of the big monkey story. (Peter, by the way, if it's such a perfect film, in what way is it "repaying the debt" to make a new version of it? Isn't that like going "you know, you're so beautiful, I'm going to find an ugly person and give them plastic surgery to look like you, as a tribute"?)

Anway... Liam went to see the film, and came away sniffling.

It's a story about a lumbering ape, thrust into the entertainment industry and without the ability to make the most basic of communications with people, forced to talk through unintelligble grunts and random, sporadic frustrated violent outbursts. Who then goes to see a film about a big gorilla at the cinema.


Even while the lawsuits are piling up from their XCP copy-protection software disaster, Sony-BMG have now had to announce that their other software designed to stop you using the music you've paid for has a security flaw on it, too. Despite posting a patch for the flaw on discs "protected" by MediaMax, Sony is refusing to recall the six million CDs circulating containing this nasty. It's got the potential to allow hackers into a backdoor on computers where the discs have been played.

You can understand Sony's reluctance to take the discs off the shelf - they've already had to junk five million XCP discs; there are nearly six million ones containing MediaMax and to lose those as well would make a sizeable hole in the company's bottom line. Their attitude? We've made a patch available, that'll have to do:

"We take the security issues very, very seriously," says Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG president of global digital business. But Hesse adds that the company has no plans to recall the CDs or offer refunds: "At this point, this is pretty much it."

So, that's taking security issues seriously in what sense, then? Because it seems to us that allowing people to buy CDs containing stuff that can screw their computers isn't taking security very seriously at all, and is kind of treating your customers with contempt. What about people who buy these CDs and don't know that they need to spend the rest of their lives checking online to see if their Alicia Keys record has opened their computer to viruses? If these CDs are still on the shelves, they could remain there for a long time - would someone buying an album in 2007 even think that they might have to check news archives from two years before to see if its a security risk? Or would they assume that Sony wouldn't have allowed a security-breaching item to remain on the shelves, being a respectable company?

Sony-BMG has a duty to its customers, and if it thinks the best way to live up to that duty is to knowingly flog 'em dodgy CDs and shrug, then it probably doesn't deserve to have many customers at all.


There'd not been much time for MTV and Microsoft to back in the glow of its latest link-up before Google waved and took all the attention away (the international broadcaster and would-be IT monopolist have linked up more times than a sausage maker on a piece-rate bonus, most recently to try and create a buzz around the XBox360, which we understand is one of those machines you link to your television to play Pong on).

Microsoft has already attempted to launch a music download service once, through its MSN brand, but nobody seemed to want to buy music from them much. So now, they've forged a partnership with the MTV channels to create the dreadfully-named URGE service. This is supposed to be different because... well, it's a partnership with MTV, innit? However, it's not clear what the link-up is meant to be delivering that isn't already there - there's a muttering about how it gives Microsoft access to loads of MTV programming to offer music from, but on its main networks, these days MTV and VH1 are about putting gold blocks on your cars or remembering the theme tune to 1980s sitcoms. Sure, there's limited stuff from the Music Awards which might be download-worthy, and MTV2 still films live gigs, but it's hard to see that this is going to make people decide to ditch their iPods and buy a "plays for sure" machine.

Meanwhile, MTV hooking up with Microsoft shows just how little MTV cares for its core brand these days - it's like them cutting a deal with the Daily Telegraph or getting David Cameron in to link on MTV Dance.

Google, meanwhile, has launched a music search service - for example, here's Elastica on the new serivce. It's a little bit of a Farraday baby at the moment, in that it's not entirely clear what the value of the service is (we guess it does at least offer the prospect of making it easier to find stuff on bands with humdrum names, and you can pull up discographies a lot more easily than on other sites) but right now, it's not trying to push yet-another-download service onto the market, and for that we should at least say "ta".


Somehow, Rachel Stevens seems to have turned into pop's Charles Kennedy - she's hanging on to her job, but it's a daily struggle, and even people who think she's doing a good job seem to want to push her over, just to see what noise she might make.

Students - apparently confused as to whether she's an ironic, camp figure yet or not - chased her from the stage with boos and catcalls when she played their ball at Portsmouth University:

"We'd paid £27.50 each to get tickets, which is quite a lot when you're a student.

"Rachel only mimed songs she's released as singles and then the rumour got out that she'd been paid £6,000 for the evening - so no one was very happy with her".

Hmm... but surely the £27.50 covered the cost of the ball as a whole; it's not like you'd paid that just to see Rachel (ironically, if they had, they'd probably not have booed at all, as that mentality of "I've paid a fortune for this, so of course it's good" would have set in.)

It seems Rachel has now been shifted permanently to target on the pop pages of the nationals - which is wrong, of course, as she's one of the few pop stars we've got left who can actually carry a tune. If the tabs force her out of pop, the vision of the future they offer instead is Sharon Osbourne, sitting on our face, forever.

We can't let that happen. Shouldn't Popjustice be organising a campaign or an airlift or something?


That's right, Ashley, you keep your head downCheryl Tweedy is having a tough time choosing who's going to be her bridesmaid when she married Ashley Cole - it seems there's quite a scrum to be able to walk behind her lifting her skirt up. Apparently, trying to choose from as many as ten potential bridesmaids is "doing my head in." Uh-oh... don't make Cheryl Tweedy angry. You wouldn't like her when she's angry.

Amongst those under consideration are all the other members of Girls Aloud:

"My bandmates would probably not forgive me if they don't get to follow me up the aisle, too.

I think we've been here together long enough now for me to not even supply the punchline there.


Since she was thrown off the back of a horse, Madonna has been having recurring nightmares about gee-gees.

Apparently she wakes up, visions of a hideous, gurning, gnashing horsey visage looming in her face. She puts the light on, and then Guy finds he has a hideous, gurning, gnashing horsey visage looming in his face, too.


The Sun is quite exercised about this - you can almost hear Victoria Newton's shocked gasp reverberating around Wapping:

THIS is the most shameful and pointless pretend publicity shot I’ve ever had the misfortune to see.

X Factor loser CHICO SLIMANI posed for the fake picture with Pop Stars: The Rivals loser GABRIELA IRIMIA from CHEEKY GIRLS.

How dare they? How can these people abuse this nation's fine tradition of paparazzi sneaking about in the shadows to snatch pictures of people we don't really care much about and throw the whole fine, noble tradition into question and disrepute? Why, if we allow this sort of thing, how can we be sure that the next time we see, say, a longlens shot of Robbie Williams standing quite close to a lady that he's actually planning a romp of some sort?

The only real question, though, is why, if Newton is so outraged by the sham, did she print the picture in her paper? They took the picture to get some publicity, and you gave it to them, Vic... not so "pointless" at all, then, was it?


You wait ages for the inevitable split of the Sugababes, and then it bounces up on your blindside and takes you by surprise. Apparently, Mutya has had enough and wants to spend more time with her family. How do we know? A pal says so:

“Mutya has told the girls she is leaving the band.

“It has been tough for her since she had her baby daugher Tai earlier this year.

“The constant touring and recording schedules have just become too much and she feels it’s time to call it a day. Her label have told her she has to stay but her mind is made up. They will try to wheel her out to show the band are still together but it will all be official soon.”

Of course, attempting to force Mutya to go through the motions will lead to a bunch of performances with a "couldn't care less" attitude and the sense that they'd rather be somewhere - anywhere - else. So, that's good news, then, as it'll be indistinguishable from any Sugababes performance over the last three years.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


There have been all sorts of attempts to stop kids from getting involved with gangs, with mixed results - reformed gang leader Tookie Williams tried to talk direct to the kids to get them to find a better path; Arnold Schwarzeneger had Tookie Williams killed to try and make a similar point (or possibly because his career has taught him that killing is always an answer to try first); Boogie Down Productions sang against the gang culture. Now, though, a new force is coming to try and clear up the streets - and this one might just work.

Prepare yourself for the Hip Hop Mums. (Or, Mothers of Entertainers to give them their official title). Although it sounds like the plot of a midsummer movie, Snoop's mum Beverley Broadus Green has pulled together with Chris Rock's Mum, and Kelly Price's, and even P Diddy's Mam to fight the drugs and crack and gun culture:

For the last 15 years this has been a dream of mine" Green stated. “To reach out, touch and help the kids in the streets, the kids on drugs, the mothers on crack or Mothers who are experiencing domestic violence, it is my dream to help them.


Even after organisers of the Lucerne Blue Balls Festival had got special dispentation to let their acts play at 100 dB (the usual limit in Switzerland is 93), Iggy Pop managed to set his equipment up too loud for comfort - and too loud for the law. The 58 year-old hit 102.5 during his performance, and as such landed the festival team with a SWF1,500 fine.

These old folks just don't care about youngsters trying to get some sleep, do they?


Adding to the illustrious list of names who pretend to like football to curry favour with people who actually like football, and get it slightly wrong (or the "John Major Cabinet Types" as we like to think of them): Wyclef Jean took the stage for the Fugees Manchester date wearing a Wayne Rooney Manchester United shirt.

Thereby making Wyclef the only person in the media and entertainment industries who Alex Ferguson has on his Christmas card list.


Announced as support for the large stadium dates on the Take That tour are the Sugababes - something to entertain the kids being dragged along by their mums, we guess.


What would you do with a man who is a known segregationist, who votes repeatedly to cut aid to developing nations, who supported Pinochet Cedras and D'Aubuisson (observing of D'Aubuisson's use of death squads in El Salvador that "all I know is that D'Aubuisson is a free enterprise man and deeply religious"), and who ran a campaign against welfare payments on the basis that "a lot of human beings have been born bums"?

If you're Bono, you invite him to dinner. Yes, Bono has sat down to break bread with Jesse Helms.

Oh, we know, Helms has recently "changed" his mind on AIDS - except, of course, he hasn't: what he said was:

"…it had been my feeling that AIDS was a disease largely spread by reckless and voluntary sexual and drug-abusing behavior and that it would probably be confined to those in high risk populations. I was wrong."

In effect, his recent "liberal" work in the field of AIDS has been motivated purely because it's been shown that not just gays die from it. If it hadn't spread through the straight population, he'd still be sat on the side blowing hard about people "playing Russian roulette with their sexuality" as he so charmingly put it in a letter to a mother whose son died from an AIDS-related complex.

Bono - a man who has accepted the Martin Luther King prize - sits down for a meal with Helms - a man who campaigned against King and the Civil Rights movement and who fought against King's birthday being made a national holiday in the US. Bono - a man who claims to value the work of Nelson Mandela - sups his soup with Jesse Helms - a man who was a vocal supporter of the aparthied South African regime which was responsible for Mandela's incarceration. What was the conversation like? "Jesse, what people don't realise is that if it hadn't been for people like you shoring the South Africa regime up, Mandela would never have been able to spend all that time in prison building his reputation - you're a hero, Jesse."

Oh, and Bono, the man who is supposedly an artist at the cutting edge, is sitting down - "pass the butter, Jesse" - with the man who spent the 1990s trying to censor any artwork he didn't like the look of, fighting to smash the National Endowment for the Arts because it liked a couple of pictures by Robert Mapplethorpe.

Yes, yes, you might share some aims with unpleasant people - but to share hospitality with them looks like an endorsement.

Bono didn't even use long spoons.


They're saying its an amicable parting of the ways, but if they're getting on so well, how come Idlewild and EMI are splitting up?. Roddy Woomble muses:

I suppose the main news currently regarding the band is that after eight years we've ended our relationship with EMI/Parlophone.

"I'd be lying if I said things have always been easy for us outside of Parlophone and the UK with EMI, but it's heartening to know that constantly touring our songs over those years generated pretty much all the fans of our music that we now have, which is a lot more satisfying to look back on.

"Ultimately, no shocking news. Still, it feels like the end of a chapter, or a bit like leaving school."

The band are working on a new album and looking for a new home.

Meanwhile, scoop up the stuff on EMI before they let it all lapse.


Good old Gennaro Castaldo - he's not just there for the soft things in life, like talking about the Singing Sheep or Crazy Frog's chances for a number one; no, he can do business press as well, if, say Business Week wants to know about HMV stores:

As Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and public relations at music store HMV, sums it up: "It's certainly the case that consumers have many more [retail channel] choices today. You have to give people an added reason to come into your store, something that makes the act of visiting a shop as rewarding as acquiring the good itself."

[An] inability to replicate the flagship experience is a constant source of tension in retail strategy, particularly for large established chains, such as HMV, which stages rock performances in its 50,000-square-foot Oxford Street store, while maintaining a national network of 200 satellite shops, often measuring no more than 4,000 to 5,000 square feet.

Says Castaldo: "There's only so much that you can do with a smaller store. There's no sense of theater." But, he adds, "What you aim to do through the flagship is to associate the brand with an aspirational lifestyle that supports the other stores and motivates customers from smaller towns, perhaps two or three times a year, to make a trip up to London to enjoy the full experience."

Good God - does he actually believe that? That once every four months people might want to make a trip from their homes (we imagine Castaldo isn't assuming all of these being made from wattle and daub) so they can go to the flagship HMV? That people who nip into the Watford branch are thinking "well, I'll buy this record here because one day - if I'm good, study hard and save harder - I might get to see the shiny big store in London town."

We know we shouldn't expect anything better, but it's always depressing to find that retailers really do think their fascias and fittings are so deeply pivotal in people's lives. We guess some people might go to London because there are more shops, and while they're there, they'll pop into HMV because it's got more stock than the embarrassingly light CD range most branches hold, but why on earth would knowing there's a branch four hundred miles away with a couple of extra racks of vinyl singles make you any more likely to want to shop in the Liverpool branch that doesn't?

It might go against the fetishisation of the focus group and the clipboard-response, but with record shops - as with any sort of shop, Gennaro - nobody really gives a shag if it's aspirational or has a chrome-plated flagship branch. They'll shop there if it has the stock they want at a price they're prepared to pay.


If you have tears, prepare to shed them now: Noel Gallagher finds Oasis fans to be frustratingly stupid. Rather than thinking this might be a bit of a blessing and an explanation for how he's still able to swap old rope for new coins, he's elected to damn them in print:

"I don't like having my picture taken with them because half our fans are too dopey to use a camera.

"I've already wasted hours of my life on idiots with cameras in their hands who can't even work the flash.

"Then there are the ones that come you to you and say 'Can I have your autograph?' You say 'Yeah, go on then', then you get 'I haven't gota pen.' Well, you know, that's like turning up for a football match with no boots."

Noel, clearly, has started to see the people who keep him in champagne and steak as being, well, beneath him:

"We have this relationship where they buy the records and I make the records for them to buy. Do I want to be anybody's friend? Not really."

So, now it's official: Oasis no longer have fans, just consumers who are incapable of operating basic equipment.

There was something else, too, about how he's a better drummer than Zak Starkey but...


We would suggest if you're reading this while enjoying a sandwich - perhaps from a musical sandwich box - you might want to set it down for a moment or two, as a hitherto-unheard of "fashion stylist" called Noemi Baenninger claims that she's had sex with Robbie Williams and Robbie's publicity machine ("she") wants us to know all about:

"He was sitting half naked on the sofa wearing just a pair of blue-and-white striped pyjama bottoms.

"We spoke about God and the world and then Robbie suddenly kissed me and started to undress me. He pleasured me for 10 minutes, then we had sex for a second time under the shower."

Pleasured? Oh, yes, this is a Swiss woman who's been translated first into English, and then into tabloidese - she is even, of course, described as "a Swiss Miss" at one point.

The couple then moved to the king-size bedroom for a third romp.
Noemi told a Swiss newspaper: "We were so close. He smelled of nice soap. We both had an orgasm."

She added: "We were both tired and I wanted to sleep there with him but Robbie wanted me out."

We'd have been thinking she'd have been better off getting Robbie out, to be honest.

Noemi said: "Sex with Robbie was mediocre. His manhood is also only average."

We doubt if Williams will be too bothered by this review - after all, his albums are pretty mediocre, but he still gets number one singles.


Long-term No Rock readers will know that we're not amongst Annie Lennox's biggest fans, but we find our grudging respect for her growing - not only because her Live8 set in Scotland was actually pretty good, but because she's sent Orlando Bloom packing. Bloom was fawning around her at a screening of Annie Hall; Lennox was not imprssed:

However, the peroxide-mad Scot presumed he was a crazed fan and - using one finger - told him: "I just want a quiet night. Please leave me alone and get a life."

Our man said: "It was like watching a car crash unfold.
"Nobody could understand why she was being so rude to Orlando of all people.

"It was difficult to believe she didn’t know who he was. He’s been in almost every blockbuster this year. But it turns out she genuinely thought he was an unusually good-looking fan. She must have been living under a rock for the past few years."

Sadly, it does turn out that she hadn't recognised him:

Poor Annie was mortified when a pal revealed the superstar identity of her sexy admirer.

So she raced over to apologise and he graciously accepted her slice of humble pie, giving her a cheeky kiss in return for her autograph.

So, annoying fans aren't annoying fans so long as they're in Heat, Annie? Aaah... we have the warm glow of grudging respect dissolving...


We've heard of people setting fire to curtains in order to trigger fire alarms and escape from sticky situations before, but we don't know for a fact the fire in the ladies at Joss Stone's Manchester Apollo gig was a cry for help.

Everyone had to file out the theatre and stand around looking bemused and wishing they were being entertained, before firemen gave them the all clear to go back in and do the same thing.


Bono must be feeling a little silly at having gone to court to get back a pair of second hand trousers, as it now turns out that U2 have pocketed £153million quid in ticket sales this year, and he could have quite easily have gone down to Mark One and bought a couple of new pairs.

The Mirror interpret this massive figure as evidence that U2 are the "world's most popular tour band", although it's equally possible to see it as a sign that U2 are happy to offer tickets for sale at the most over-inflated prices in the world. (It works out as an average gross of £1.7 million per gig.)


Everyone's still quite touchy about rudeness in TV music in the US, long after Janet Jackson's nipple and Queen Victoria have faded into memory. Latest cuts called for by touchy networks have sliced into Elton John's Red Piano special. NBC took one look at Elt singing The Bitch is Back while Pamela Anderson writhed about a pole on the big screen behind him and burst into uncontrolable sobs. "Gay man... bad word... pole dancing..."

Cuts were made - we imagine the programme now consists of a kitten wearing trousers waving from a rooftop.


Of course, "Westlife don't write their own songs" isn't very much of a shocker anyway, is it? But it looks as if the credited writer of You Raise Me Up didn't write it, either, as a pair of Finns from Sweden claim they did; they gave it to a bloke to enter into Eurovision and then heard no more about it until it turned up being sung by Josh Groban.

Tommi and Karri Rinne are now suggesting that, since they wrote it, it might be nice if they saw some of the cash.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


If they ever decide to show the current edition of One Life on Brian Harvey on UK TV, they can make room for the adverts simply by editing out all the times he burbles "do you know what I mean?"

It's hard to feel any sympathy for either Brian or his "girlfriend" Emma B, who came rushing back as soon as Harvey had an accident and was in the papers again ("in need of her support"), but it doesn't matter overmuch, as they've got more than enough self-pity to keep themselves afloat for decades.

Harvey complains that - having been in a successful boy band - he could never go back to plumbing, as people would be asking him "weren't you in east 17?" as he tried to shift stubborn stools from tight u-bends, apparently oblivious that hardly anyone who recognise him in a couple more years, and of them, most wouldn't be able to place him. In other words, every couple of months he might get a "have you ever been on the Weakest Link?" or "did you once run a cockle stall in Cheam?"

Then, he explains why he needs to walk again - "I can't go on stage in a wheelchair, do you know what I mean?" Obviously, Robert Wyatt and others managed it, but Wyatt had some talent to offer.

Obviously, nobody wishes ill on anyone - especially not surprising potato-related self-reversal accidents - but the willingness of Harvey and B to turn tragedy so instantly into pantomime does them no favours. Their car crash lives - and actual car crash - has extended their time in the strange world of celebrity a little longer; really, they should have taken the incident as a sign it's time to withdraw with what little dignity they have left.


Recognising that sweaty, bullet-riddled thugs aren't going to turn the head of any woman worth knowing, 50 Cent has decided that he's better off sending his staff to do the chatting-up for him. At a London nightclub, his hired hands went out to invite any females they came across back to Fiddy's place for an astonishing party; it's not clear if they were paid a piecerate or a flat fee for this line of work.


Some great news - Sarah Nixey out of Black Box Recorder is working on new stuff, both solo and as a guest singer for Infantjoy.

The new album due from her next year promises "tales of poison-pen letter writers, dysfunctional relationships, disappearances, secret love affairs." So, she's slightly less twisted than she used to be, then.


For the first time since the band reinvented itself as a perpetual suing machine, The Smiths are going to play together again. Except for Morrissey and Mike Joyce. Okay, that means that Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke will be doing it, though, as part of Manchester v Cancer on January 28th. Johnny Marr has been talking about the reunion:

"Andy and I go back a long way, since our school days. We have been hanging out and seeing each other and he told me about this project. I literally applauded him and said I wanted to get involved with it if he needed any help. It's a privilege to be part of it as I am aware of the work that [charity hospital] Christie does.

"It's not the easiest thing getting something like this together because it needs to be done on a fairly big scale to have any significance so I think Andy is really brave. But who would refuse his offer to get involved? I mean, who could refuse it? You can't unless you are out of the country on tour. I made sure I was around and I'm looking forward to it - it will be a good night."

Actually, we suspect that even in Morrissey was in the country - even if he was in Manchester - he'd find an excuse to not take part - like "I'm cutting Johnny Rogan's car's brake cables that night" or something.


While we're sure their Franz Ferdinand In the Fifties look will win them many friends, and while it's great that Yellow Stripe Nine have woken up to the risk of having a rubbish name, we're not sure their solution has solved the problem.

They're now called YSN. That's the name you'll have to ask for if you want their download/7" debut proper More in February. (Actually, you won't have to ask for a download, as you can do it wordlessly through the antiseptic misery of your computer screen, but you take our point.)


The rump of Blur have organised a special Christmas disappointment for their fans, sending them letters inviting them to a hipsterly secret festive gig and then - the moment the last ticket was picked up - deciding they wouldn't play it after all. A shadowy rep from the fan club explained:

"Thursday night's gig is definitely off. Any info that suggests the contrary is wrong. You can get a full refund by calling the same tel number. At present, there are no plans for a re-scheduled gig, but we'll keep you posted. I advise you to please get a refund. We are truly sorry for any inconvenience caused by today's events and for the disappointment."

According to the band's management: "The band ultimately felt they couldn’t do justice to a full show right now, and want to concentrate on writing and recording instead".

If the new stuff is anything like the last album, it's unclear why they think they might be able to do writing songs any justice, either.

Of course, there's always a tiresome possibility that it's all a complex double-bluff; or even a way of getting fans to deposit a large sum of cash in their account, earn a few day's interest, and then hand it back.

If you get a refund, you might find buying something like this a better use of your funds:


Is Foxy Brown going deaf? Last week, her lawyer blurted out that she was pretty much deaf on the courthouse steps. (She'd been up on an assault charge.) This week - presumably after she'd read about it - Brown has sacked Joseph Tacopina. President of Hip Hop Summit Action Network Benjamin Chavis issued a statement about the affair:

"(Tacopina was fired) for giving improper and inappropriate statements to the press about her medical condition when she had requested of him not to make any statements to the press about anything other than her legal case."

"She felt the attorney went too far, and therefore he was dismissed on the spot. She heard him say things she had not authorised him to say about her health."

See? She heard. Nothing wrong with her ears, then. Although we're a bit confused as to why she'd be so upset with the claim if it was wrong, or indeed why a lawyer would suddenly get it into his head that his client was deaf as a post.

[Thanks to DJ Walker-Morgan for the tip]


Jonathan Davis must have hit puberty or something, as he's suddenly realised that collecting serial killer crap is the work of an idiot:

"I'm done with that. I got all that stuff out. I just got over it. I was really into it for a while.

"I still have the car (Bundy's vehicle), but I'm just bringing negativity and negative shit in my house with it, and I don't want that around my kids.

"There is definitely a vibe and weird shit attached to those things. I really don't want to glorify these people and what they did and display the shit.

"I wasn't thinking straight when I bought that stuff. I was sucked into it because it was so dark, and I'm like, 'This is cool.'

"When I started to think about it, I was like, 'What about those 70 girls' parents - their babies got killed in that car, and I wanna display it! That is fucked up.'"

Davis' realisation that he had a hateful hobby hasn't actually had its logic carried through - rather than destroying his Ted Bundy collection, he's going to sell it on. So, not above turning a profit from others who want to display the car where people's kids were slaughtered.


Simple Plan - the plastic punks from Canada - have decided to launch a charidee to help young people with problems:

The Simple Plan Foundation will raise funds for charities which offer teenagers help with issues ranging from suicide to addiction.

Its going to help teenagers with suicide? "Not like that, boy... try tying it like this..."


How does Seal keep himself in shape? With a plane and a chisel, perhaps? Or body-shaping tights of some sort? No, apparently, he has a rule: he never eats after 2pm.

Probably because that's the time the all you can eat buffet at his local Pizza Hut finishes.


It's the most magical time of the year: Lindsay Lohan's parents have come to an amicable divorce settlement, robbing the nation of more public laundry washing.

In other, possible apocryphal Lohan news, Lindsay's hatred of well-bankrolled competitor Paris Hilton has grown to such proportions she's supposed to have knocked back an offer from Karl Lagerfeld for a weekend in Paris because "I hate that bitch." Boy, won't she be pissed when she discovers that there's a place that's actually been named after Hilton?


Presumably left-off the album with good reason, Madonna has taken her self-regard to a new level with Superpop, an offcut from Confessions on a dance floor that's now been lobbed out on her fanclub:

“If I was a car, I’d be an Aston Martin
If I was a star, I would be who I am today
If I was a fighter, I’d be Cassius Clay
If I was emotion, I would be intense
If I was a man, I would be president."

Madonna, love, if you were going to be president, you'd, erm, be president. And an Aston Martin? You'd be a 2CV - everyone used to love you, but now even the diehards are starting to think it might be time to upgrade to something a little less out-of-time.

W0R5T PO? NAM3 3\/ER

It's not quite a case of actor-turning-popstar (acting so far consistes of "I was in Prisoner Of Azkaban. At the beginning, there's a choir and I'm right in the middle holding a frog."), but it's near enough. And there's something quite touching about his enthusiasm ("For a birthday present, I recorded in a studio and made a demo. Then I made a video and a proper track with drums and everything.")

But what a lousy name. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you a soloist who's working under the name N1kki.

It's less a name, more the sort of terrible fudging you get from people who can't quite afford a proper personalised number plate so go with something a bit cheaper, perhaps moving the numbers closer together and doing rubbish ("clever") things with the screws to make it look a bit like a name if you're a short-sighted dyslexic.

Newsround calls him on it, mind:

How did you come up with the unusual spelling of N1kki?

It came from a company I worked with which had a 1 in its title. It sticks in your mind. I've done a school tour recently and the kids always remember the 1 in N1kki.

Yeah, and we always remember Andrew Cooper standing up in assembly announcing he'd wet himself - it's not always good to be recalled, N1kki. By the way, we thought you were going to be a girl - something about ending your name with an "i".


The BBC is reporting that Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, the gang-leader turned Nobel Peace nominee, has been executed in California. Despite (perhaps because of) a campaign featuring the likes of Snoop Dogg, California's comedy governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused pleas for clemency and allowed his State to kill Williams.

Williams, a founder of the Crips street gang, was convicted of four murders he committed in 1979 - in one case, he shot three members of the same family at a Los Angeles motel.


The never-ending stream of Beatle memorobilia auctions continue (erm... as you'd expect a never-ending stream to do) as an old schoolmaster had kept one of John Lennon's school books and, yes, it's up for auction now.


There's an ominous sound of doors being left open as Take That expand their tour to include the new Wembley Stadium (assuming the builders ever finish it) - the sound of Robbie Williams realising he may have been a bit hasty.

Now that it's clear the shows are heading for triumph, it looks like Williams is starting to realise he might need to show up:

Gary Barlow said: "A couple of the lads have spoken to Robbie since we announced the tour and he's delighted for us. The offer is there to join us on stage and it's not been a 'no' from him. It would be great if he could make the final show at Wembley."

"Great" in the sense of "oh, Jesus, if he must show up can't he be made to do an earlier one rather than just schlepping on for the finale and sucking all the joy out the event?", of course.


Apparently tiring of his image as being a pool of lovely little sensitivity - an image reinforced every thirteen seconds when You're Beautiful is played on another radio station or TV music channel - James Blunt is fighting back. Blunt, played by Gareth Keenan from The Office, was in the army, you know. He's not sensitive, he's tough:

"I may be able to write emotional songs in the privacy of my own environment, but I'm not going to start crying out of the blue."

The singer, who had a smash hit with the moving ballad You're Beautiful, also hit back at claims he was too soft to have coped with military service, saying: "Just because I had a guitar with me in Kosovo doesn't mean I'm overly sensitive.

"In fact, most people would say I'm not very sensitive."

"I can kill a bloke with piano wire, I can" he claimed, before offering to fight anyone for a quid.

Seriously, if Blunt had any degree of poetry in his soul, he wouldn't used a phrase like "in the privacy of my own environment" or a cliche like "crying out of the blue" - and if he was sensitive, why would he have been able to stand inflicting so much misery on us all with that bloody song?


As if having those drug charges hanging over him wasn't bad enough, it's starting to look a lot like Boy George is going to signal the final withdrawal from dignity as he prepares to go on "celebrity" Big Brother. It looks like the January run is trying to start theming with some pairs - two people currently at the centre of US legal action, as Anna Nicole "ruined Live 8 for everyone" Smith is supposed to there; two Merseyside commedians (Jimmy Tarbuck and Johnny Vegas); two TV fakes - Derek Acorah from "Ooh, it's a ghost" and pretend doctor Gillian McKeith (yes, we know she's got some sort of doctoral certificate, but we sent off for a Trebor Double Agents detective kit; that didn't give us any powers of arrest). And there's two "who's that, then?" - a surprise, and one of Three Non Blondes off BBC THREE.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Sound difficulties turned to audience frustration; frustration found expression in a hail of bottles; and hit by bottles, Ian Brown walked out of his own gig. This all happened in Belfast at the start of the weekend; Brown has rushed out a statement blaming the "disgraceful" actions of the crowd:

"no artist should have to put up with actions like this."

Throwing stuff about is never the answer. After all, if Brown had a beef with, ooh, let's say a record label, he wouldn't march down and thrown cans of paint around, would he? You would hope Brown's fans would show the same sort of patience that Brown would if, to pull a random example from nowhere, he got a little upset on a plane, he wouldn't throw insults and fists and try to break into the cockpit, would he?


We might snort whenever Joss Stone is given a prize for singing, or having nice hair, but even we have to stand and applaud the decision to give her the Best Celebrity Dog Owner of the year award, after she helped out some displaced dogs after Hurricane Katrina.

Readers of New York Dog Magazine and Hollywood Dog Magazine voted for the award; at the same time they gave the worst title to Paris Hilton. Alarmingly:

"Our readers felt Ms Hilton's dog-parenting skills left a lot to be desired," the editor added.



For the last couple of weeks, there's been some coverage of the so-called Eminem Killer, and once again much of the coverage has been jumping to half-assed conclusions. The murderer, Christopher Duncan, was convicted of killing Jagdip Najran; and because he made some cash as an Eminem impersonator, those two dots have been joined to suggest cause and effect:

The Old Bailey heard that Ms Najran, who had a crush on Duncan, made a "terrible misjudgment" by going home with him after watching his performance at a karaoke evening at a City pub. Later that night he fractured her skull with a metal baseball bat and shut her in a suitcase, where, medical experts believe, she lay unconscious for at least an hour and a half before dying. The scenario resembles the video of Eminem's song Stan, which features the singer dumping his girlfriend's body in the boot of a car after killing her.

Except, of course, the video for Stan doesn't feature the singer doing any such thing - his alter-ego kills his girlfriend by locking her in a boot, and driving the car off a bridge. And there's a coda where Eminem suggests this isn't actually a clever thing to do. But then, if you've already decided there's a link, you'll be quick to see how the video "resembles" the murder to prove your point, even if that resemblance turns out to be quite slight.

Indeed, it seems less likely that Eminem was the cause of the murder - certainly, the prosecution didn't make the link (Jonathan Laidlaw, prosecuting, said: "There is no sensible explanation for what he did") and it seems that rather than being goaded into turning into a murderer because he'd seen 8Mile once too often, Duncan had more pressing problems:

Duncan told psychiatrists he had had an abusive childhood involving drugs and alcohol. But Wendy Joseph QC, defending, said: "If there is anything monstrous in this defendant, may I suggest it may be something created rather than something that was born. Things in his life were falling apart. He was a murderer waiting to happen."

Certainly, listening to Eminem - and in particular some of Marshall's more knuckleheaded hate-bile from earlier in his career - would have been unlikely to calm Duncan down, but does anyone really believe that Najran would still be alive if he'd listened to Hear'Say instead of Eminem?

Moby does, apparently:

"Misogyny is not funny. it is not a joke. and it should not be treated lightly," he writes. "And now we find out that a British man who is obsessed with eminem killed a woman with a metal baseball bat
And stuffed her body into a suitcase. Am I being 'too uptight' for not seeing the humour in this?"

"Before this British man brutally killed this woman he was singing Eminem songs in a karaoke bar. Maybe there's no connection. Maybe there is. It's disgusting that we even have to ask that question. It's disgusting that people in the media and the press have celebrated and glamorized music and musicians who write lyrics that glorify misogyny and homophobia."

Of course, Moby is not just leaping to conclusions, but also pulling a fast one - defensively lashing out that anyone who might argue with him that Eminem singles, whatever else they do, don't turn people from mild-mannered types into killers is somehow thinking the terrible death of a young woman is humorous. But Moby, what about someone who uses that death to continue a point-scoring fued with another singer? Are we being uptight in thinking it's a bit beneath you to jump to such a tabloid conclusion?


One of the music industry's nastier attempts to spike the popularity of peer-to-peer technology, the company Overpeer, has been closed down before it bleeds its parent company Loudeye dry.

Overpeer tried to make filesharing impossible through flooding the p2p networks with fake files - the idea being that it would make it too much like hardwork to find usable unlicensed files, causing people to give up and shuffle off down to HMV. It looks like at least one of the major labels had decided this idea was a bit shit:

In a financial filing, Loudeye said the ratings systems that many peer-to-peer networks had introduced to give users information about authentic and fake files had reduced Overpeer's effectiveness.

Explaining the decision to close Overpeer, Loudeye said in a statement with industry regulators that the subsidiary had lost a major client in mid-2005 and it had steadily been generating less and less cash.

Of course, the "customers" of the company would say there was nothing more dubious in their behaviour than that of the people they were attacking, but you have to wonder - if they weren't uncertain what they were doing was morally defensible, how come you never heard the RIAA trilling away about their members pouring cash into what, eventually, turned out to be a futile gesture?


As the days get shorter - although that could just be a load of fuel burning overhead and blocking out the sun - more people are contributing their best of lists around the web. Chromewaves' Frank has completed his best-of list, fully annotated and mp3'ed up. In brief, though, the CWalbums are:

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene
Crooked Fingers - Dignity
The Decemberists - Picaresque
The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
My Morning Jacket - Z
The National - Alligator
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
M Ward - Transistor Radio.

(From this list, we'd recommend most heartily The Decemberists and The New Pornographers.)


The good people at Carling have come up with a wheeze to try and sell more lager, although they wouldn't be encouraging young people to drink more, of course; they're throwing a free gig with Graham Coxon, Hard Fi and the Magic Numbers on January 12th at the Islington Academy in London.

The catch for you is that you have to write 100 words on who should be called King of the Carling Music World 2006 (or somesuch title); the catch for the bands is one of them is going to lumbered with this clumping title. We'd love to see the look on Graham Coxon's face if he wins. Wonder if there's an actual crown...


Since the Gallagher boys have got mounting expenses ("as a special treat to fans") Oasis are going to play a couple of stadium dates in early 2006. The band will be tramping down to Sheffield on February 9th and 10th to churn through the hits and just enough of the gubbins from the last album to make it seem like it wasn't quite the embarrasment you might have thought it was.


It's probably not surprising to discover, but Paul McCartney feels haunted by the murder of John Lennon, but he tries not to dwell on it:

"The first thing that goes through your mind is the horrific conditions of his death. That's what always hits me. And you think: "Gosh, my mate, that's what happened to him."

"But, then rather than dwell on that I immediately go to the fantastic times we had and how lucky and privileged I feel to be one of the people who spent the most time with him during his life having met him as a teenager.

"People start these rumours: "He was this, he was that." I say: "Look, I've slept with him."

Hang about... you've done what?

We've done hitch-hiking holidays and we've had to top and tail it because there was only one bed. I say: "I knew him".

Oh, so you mean sleeping with him.

"And, we'd get drunk together and do all those kinds of things that you find out about people.

Paul, though, thinks that Lennon was some sort of saint:

"The bottom line, I think what everybody already knows, he was a fantastic man, really fantastic guy. Just as a man, as an activist, he is one of the great men of the 20th century.

"I'm just very proud to have known him so intimately from when we were kids to virtually the end all the way through."

But then, of course, Lennon did used to accuse McCartney of being a mealy-mouthed hypocrite.


Karl rightly emails us to point out we slipped up last week, missing out totally on the startling news that Courtney Love has solved her financial problems. And how has she done this? By selling a quarter of her share of Nirvana to Martha Stewart.

Yes, that Martha Stewart. The woman who - when she's not sucking up to big financiers and dabbling in insided trading designed to steal money from smaller investers and pension funds - tells America how to wrap up almonds up properly and where to put the soup spoon now owns a large chunk of Kurt Cobain's songbook.

Do you see, now, Kurt, why killing yourself isn't a smart move? How it's the ultimate loss of control? How it does your legacy no good at all?

Martha apparently wants the songs as an "investment" - and we know how Martha can't resist a meaty investment, even if it lands her with a criminal record and a spell inside, so it's unlikely she'll do anything to the songs themselves. Although we've just looked at an official lyrics site, and we're not sure we remember this song going like this:

Polly wants a cracker/
Maybe I should fold her a napkin first/
And perhaps let her try some of these delightful marzipan cookies I've baked