Saturday, January 21, 2006


Very few people who watch the Apple/Intel chip ad will be thinking "hey, that ad looks a lot like the Postal Service's video for Such Great Heights." However, Ben from the Postal Service did. Then he found out that the same people who made his band's video were responsible for, shall we say, the homage. He isn't happy:

It has recently come to our attention that Apple Computers' new television commercial for the Intel chip features a shot-for-shot recreation of our video for 'Such Great Heights' made by the same filmmakers responsible for the original. We did not approve this commercialization and are extremely disappointed with both parties that this was executed without our consultation or consent.

It's not the first time Apple has upset people with its annexation of cult into advertising - Eminem threw a little strop when one of his songs appeared in an iPod advert, although his appearance in a more recent ad suggests all was forgiven there; the company's very name still makes McCartney and Ono feel they're somehow losing out on a subtle theft of the Beatle's record label's identity.

It's also not the first time the Postal Service have got muddled up in people borrowing without asking; they had a run-in with the US Postal Service over their name. It's possible they're just complaining now in the hope they get a few free iPods and some work out of it. After all, the row is doing wonders for their profile.


The rape allegation which has been hanging over Johnny Hallyday has finally been dealt with. Hallyday was accused of raping Marie-Christine Vo on his yacht in 2001; the case was thrown out following prosecutors announcing there was no evidence to bring him to trial.

Although Vo has the right of appeal, she herself is being investigated over claims she colluded with two doctors to falsify a date on a medical certificate.

Hallyday, meanwhile, is hardly going to endear himself to many people with his clunking statement on hearing of the end of the case:

"I happen to believe that, if needs be, I could still sleep with girls without having to resort to rape."

SOULOBIT: Wilson Pickett

The soul legend Wilson Pickett died on Thursday night.

Born in 1941 into a Prattville, Alabama family which already had ten children, Wilson started, like so many other soul giants, singing in church. In his case, it was Baptist Church choirs; when he moved to Detroit with his father in 1955 (he had fled his cruel mother's home years earlier) he formed The Violinaires. The gospel band achieved a degree of success - they supported Sam Cooke on national tours - but Pickett was aware that you could make a living from music, or praise the lord in song, but not both, and in 1959 he quit to take up a position in the Falcons.

The Falcons were already a going concern when he came onboard, singing alongside Eddie 'Knock On Wood' Floyd on doo-wop numbers. In 1962 their breakthrough soul hit I Found Love brought Pickett's songwriting and vocal range to wider attention, most notably that of producer Robert Bateman. Bateman's instinct that Pickett's future lay in a solo career seemed misplaced at first, as a trio of singles across two labels flopped.

His faith proved itself, though, in 1964. A transfer to Atlantic, and recording sessions in the Stax Studios alongside Booker T Jones and Steve Cropper allowed Pickett to find himself; by 1965 he had recorded In The Midnight Hour, the song which would become both his theme and his pension scheme. He never quite enjoyed the full fruits of his work, though, as he shared the writing credit with Steve Cropper. As artists as wide ranging as Chris Farlowe, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Jam made their own covers of the songs, Pickett fought - unsuccessfully - to get Cropper's credit removed.

Pickett continued to work at Stax, laying down an impressive number of songs - 634-5789, Ninety-Nine and One-Half; relocating to Atlantic's own Fame studios produced Mustang Sally, Funky Broadway and Land of a Thousand Dances. Working into the 1970s, Pickett tried to build a wider fanbase by stunt covers (Hey Jude and - painfully - a take on the cartoon Archies' Sugar Sugar), but he never felt comfortable enough flattening himself down in the way Stevie Wonder managed to become a Billboard chart regular. The rise of disco squeezed him in his soul market and Pickett's career went into something of a hibernation.

Meanwhile, drugs and misery made his life less than comfortable - he spent too much time in the back of police cars and overnight in cells; memorably getting arrested for driving a car through the lawns of the Englewood mayor's house (he threw some death threats into the mix for good measure); less amusingly, he was charged with domestic violence in the same year.

A first comeback beckoned in 1991, when the film The Commitments appeared to offer his music a first induction into the soul pantheon (as defined by the sort of people who don't really like soul.) However, while the film spun off its own tribute bands, Pickett remained stuck hoofing round amongst the converted. He did pick up an actual induction into the Hall of Fame that year, but that won't pay the bills.

It was also back to the charge room, too, as in 1993 he was convicted for drunk driving - he'd knocked down an 86 year-old man. He wound up with a year's jail sentence for that.

A second comeback in 1999, with It's Harder Now, was more successful critically if not financially. Pickett's private life also started to quieten down - he had been due to marry again sometime in the next year.

Solomon Burke summed up the sense of loss: "We've lost a giant, we've lost a legend, we've lost a man who created his own charisma and made it work around the world."

Pickett, who was 64, died following a heart attack.


We were going to headline this 'what do I do now', but using a Sleeper song on a Garbage news item would have felt like we were just lumping all the female fronted bands together. Anyway, it's the question that Shirley Manson is struggling with now Garbage have split ("gone on indefinite hiatus"):

"I'm feeling old and ugly and anxious.

"Last night I woke in the middle of the night and thought, 'I need to find a way to make life exciting again.'

"I feel like I'm on the dating scene again after being married for 10 years."

When people split from long-term partners, it's not uncommon for them to go and seek out their previous ex-partners. Presumably, the Goodbye Mr McKenzie reunion is now just a week or two away.


There are lots of reasons why bands come to an end - quite often, it's because the guitarist has slept with the drummer's wife, and the bassist has stolen the lead singer's trousers to sell for drugs one too many times. Usually the given reason is a grunted "musical differences". Seldom, though, do you hear a band saying they've given up because they don't feel comfortable being in a band named after a blues song any more. That's the reason for the end of No Rock favourites the 22-20s, though:

Listening to Lightnin' Hopkins,Albert King and Buddy Guy made me want to pick up a guitar.What immediately made me fall in love with blues was the rawness,simplicity and the truth of it.I wanted 22-20s to be about taking that essence and using it as fuel to create something both we and other people could relate to.I think initially most bands wear their influences on their sleeve but for a number of reasons we've not been able to go beyond that first stage. It was always our desire to start writing and recording a follow-up record as soon as the first studio album was recorded.That didn't happen-we toured for a year and a half.There is a prevailing myth within music that touring is always the hard-working,'honest' way to connect with people.The reality for us is that it put us in a state of arrested development at a crucial time.I think it is difficult to move away from a certain sound when you are reminded of it every night.Unfortunately we were not surrounded by people who understood that. Honesty is about playing songs you passionately believe in,playing in a band you passionately believe in and I am no longer able to say that about 22-20s. I am no longer comfortable being in a band named after a blues song. Much like the last record it indicates where I was four years ago and what I was listening to.It doesn't accurately reflect what I listen to now and where I want to go. I'm no longer comfortable with people's perception of what we represent. Being in a hardworking, British-blues touring band has never been something I've wished to endorse yet that's we what appear to have drifted into.In light of this, a decision has been made to call it a day and to go our seperate ways. Thank you to everyone who helped us out,came to the gigs,listened to the music...also thanks to Neil Gilbert at the unofficial site and everyone on our Myspace for taking an interest in what we've done. I'm currently working on some new songs and will post updates here as and when there is something to say. Hopefully sooner rather than later, Thank you again, Martin
22-20sIf you have to sound like the things you were listening to four years ago, there are worse things to sound like. Get hold of the album before they disappear.

[Thanks to Sam Barnes for letting us know.]


It's a shame her music is so Cullumesque, as we think we could quite like Katie Melua if she didn't do that. Because who could really dislike someone who's given a break to a complete unknown busker as support on her tour. Apparently, it's because Alex McEwan kept emailing her, and rather than calling the cops she gave him a slot:

"I had been trying for ages to get a decent support slot through the official channels, but I was always told nothing was happening.

"I decided to contact Katie's manager Mike Batt directly after reading an article about him.

"I told him that he'd inspired me to keep going and to release my own album independently and emailed him a few times.

"I then got a call the week after New Year to tell me I'd been booked for the tour."

This only makes it odder that she still hasn't responded to our constant email bombardment asking her to stop making crap records.


Perhaps the disappointing aspect of the tale told by Fabrizio Moretti of the time he shagged Drew Barrymore up the opera is the reason why he went off to do her in the toilets in the first place:

He's revealed that they had sex in the loos during a performance of the opera La Boheme.

"It was wicked boring so we decided to go to the bathroom, and we got caught," he said.

"If we'd gone to the men's room, people would've said, 'Good on you, man.' But we were in the ladies, and when we heard an old woman tinkle, we couldn't help but crack up. I guess she told the security guy - he was, like, 'Just go.'"

My god, what could be more crushing for Drew than discovering at the same time that her boyfriend is so dull he finds La Boheme "wicked boring"; that he's so ineloquent he can only find the phrase "wicked boring" to describe how wicked boring he found it; that his thought process runs "this opera is wicked boring, I might as well fuck Drew instead", in the same way that you might give a kid a colouring book to stop them getting fed up while you read the wine list in a restaurant; that rather than spend some cash and go somewhere nice he'll just drag her to the toilets - presumably, although the opera was wicked boring, he'd ordered and paid for a drink at the interval so he didn't want to actually leave; and then he goes and tells everybody that they had sex just inches from a pissing old lady.

3AM INERFNAL: They Predict A Riot

Can you imagine it? The scene as Robbie Williams and 50 Cent meet in the Ritz Carlton hotel, their first time in the same place since they had a handbag waggle over 50 Cent's noise in a Berlin hotel. It's a recipe for fireworks. It hasn't actually happened, though; it just might. But, desperate for an exclusive, the 3am Girls are reporting something that might happen in the future, but probably won't.

Here, then, are some stories they might want to think about for next week:

The Kaiser Chiefs might tour America at some point in the future. There are bears in America. What would happen if Ricky Wilson was eaten by a bear?

The Arctic Monkeys use the internet to promote their music. Phishers use the internet to get bank account details. Could the Arctic Monkeys lose all their money to an internet scam?

Pete Doherty might be going to prison. Some people use drugs in prison. Is Pete Doherty going to develop a drugs habit?

Gay people sometimes stay in hotels. Robbie Williams is staying in a hotel. If you sleep in a hotel bed, you are, in effect, sharing that bed with all the other customers who have ever used it. Sometimes, hundreds of people share the same bed in this sense. There is absolutely no reason why a very high proportion of those men might not be gay. Will Robbie Williams be sharing a bed with hundreds of gay men tonight?


There's nothing less edifying than the sight of the British media in full pursuit of kiddie-fiddlers, turning what is a serious and sober issue (the right of children to live unmolested) into a three-ring circus. Today's low comes from the Mirror, which claims an exclusive "Perv Radio Band".

They're going to ban perverts from the radio? Erm, no.

What's happened is a man has heard a Gary Glitter song being played on a kids TV programme, and complained to Ofcom. Ofcom wrote back saying, in effect, that no rule has been broken, and there's no evidence of anyone much being upset, but if lots of people did complain, they'd investigate the matter again. And then the man - Phil Clayton from Gloucestershire - has sent the letter to the Mirror. (The Mirror claim this is "a leaked document", as if it was secret and, erm, hadn't been sent to a member of the public already.)

So Ofcom's ruling was "there's nothing wrong here and we're not going to do anything. But if enough mad people complain again, we'll waste more time sending out placating letters." The Mirror, though, reports this as:

SONGS by paedophile pop stars face being banned from TV and radio.

A leaked document from broadcast watchdog Ofcom admits it is "concerned" records by Gary Glitter, right, and Jonathan King are still being played on UK stations.

A recent episode of Lizzy Maguire, a show for teenage girls, included Glitter's hit Rock 'n' Roll Pt 2. Dad Phil Clayton from Gloucestershire told the Mirror: "Material produced by a paedophile can be broadcast to children for profit and without restriction. It is totally immoral."

But what exactly is Clayton worried about? That Glitter is making money from the songs - but that's how he makes his living; is Clayton suggesting that people convicted of offences against children be barred from earning a living? Should, say, a baker who gets caught with pictures of fifteen year old girls flashing on his hard drive never be allowed to make a fairy cake again?
(This is slightly different, of course, from when broadcasters use their music to illustrate news reports or programmes about their crimes, where they are effectively making money off what they've done.)

Or is Clayton worried that if children hear a song made by a person who has convictions for hoarding child pornography, the children will be, in some way, abused by the song; perhaps fearing that radios and televisions are two-way devices and besides getting a PRS cheque every time Glitter has a song played on the radio he gets delivered video of people listening to it?

There is a question, of course, if broadcasters want to be thought of as endorsing the careers of people like Glitter, but that's a judgement call rather than a thing that should be imposed by a central government body. For example, we still think it's surprising that George W Bush resumed using Glitter as a soundtrack for his re-election campaign stops after being informed every time he was taking the stage he was helping fund Glitter's jaunts round the Far East - indeed, there's something curious to think that cash from the extreme religious right went from the Republicans, through the royalty payment network, and ended up buying off a family whose underage daughters Glitter had been "teaching English" to.

We'd love to know, incidently, what radio station anywhere in the country the Mirror thinks has been playing Jonathan King records often enough to worry Ofcom.


Ooh, he's quite the charmer, isn't he? It's doubtful that Sting - yes, it's Sting, not the bloke who pushes the trolleys in the Co-op Leos - really was passing judgement on Jennifer Aniston's new movie here, although the picture was taken at the premiere. (We don't know why they bothered with a premiere - by now, they must have learned that Jennifer Aniston movies are best promoted with a "2 for 1" deal in your local newsagent's ex-rental DVD dumpbin.) But Sting would never be so rude about a fellow artiste's movies. Not with The Observer giving away Dune this weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2006


This is to the charges where he was arrested back before Christmas on December 4th, not the one where he was stopped this month, nor the one from the 30th November, which he appeared in court over last week. Clear? Anyway, this time, Doherty has pleaded guilty to possession of just under a gram of heroin, and less than a tenth of gram of crack. And about one-thirtieth of a gram of cannabis (0.037 grams). He also had some morphine, but presumably so little it would have been silly to weigh it. This offence is being rolled up with the one he accepted back on January 11th, so he'll be back on February 8th for sentencing.


Perhaps he's just got back from ski-ing or something, because Gennaro's back offering his opinions again, responding to Pete Tong's claim that vinyl has disappeared:

Gennaro Castaldo of retailer HMV says vinyl is no longer a mass-market product but it has a cool, credible appeal for youngsters, as well as those who grew up buying records.

"Assuming youngsters are into music I think most of them will have seen vinyl; they might not own any but they will have seen it," he says. "It's a format that a lot of indie bands use. The record companies are clever, they don't press loads of records just a few thousand, making them limited edition and collectors' items. I think there is an emotional attachment to vinyl. We now sell vinyl frames so people can put their record sleeves on the wall and make them art work.

"There is a misconception that young people drive music sales but it is the baby boomers who represent the backbone of music purchasing in the UK. They grew up with records and have the disposable income to buy them and do just that."

Aha... the record companies are being "clever" only pressing a few copies of vinyl records because that makes them rare, does it? It's not, then, that they're being practical and taking into account the lack of display space in the former record shops like HMV which means if they do offer vinyl records, they'd be harder to find than a guava in a branch of Kwik Save. (We were in an HMV just before Christmas and it took us about ten minutes to locate the CD racks, never mind the vinyl section.)

And we're not sure what to make of his baby boomer theory - if what happens in the music industry in the UK is dictated by people born between the end of the Second World War and the start of sexual intercourse in 1963, and they want vinyl rather than CDs, then... why can't you find vinyl in record stores?


Having burned through a small pile of public funds nipping down to the Big Brother house and impounding Pete Burns' coat, Hertforshire Constabulary then wasted some time of Natural History Museum staff who confirmed, actually, it's not a Gorilla coat at all, but made from the skin of a Colobus monkey. The experts pointed out that the coat was also "in a relatively poor condition and had been relined at some point", which we think is naturalists being polite while saying "this is a coat from the last century, please don't waste our time any further."

The Herts Police, though, having discovered that they and Jodie Marsh were the only people in the world who even thought it was gorilla skin in the first place, don't intend to let it lie there - no, even although it's not from a primate protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Speices, they're still going to pass their file to the Crown Prosecution Service, thereby spending even more on an incident that doesn't seem to have a crime, never mind a victim.

The cops are starting to aware that they're shifting from laughing stocks into the sort of territory where Chief Constables are asked what the hell sort of Keystone outfit they're running, and are rushing out justifications for their sudden interest in furs:

Hertfordshire Constabulary said it treated wildlife crime as seriously as any other following complaints from the public about Burns bragging on TV of wearing gorilla fur.

And just how seriously would that be? Latest figures released by Hertfordshire Police Auhtority reports that a surprising 19.2% of notifiable/recorded offences result in conviction, caution or taken into consideration of court - that's right, less than one in five crimes are solved in the county. The same report suggests that only six out of every ten hours available to the police force in the county are used in frontline police work - perhaps they might want to think about using that time a little more wisely.

On the other hand, if you are living in Hertfordshire and paying for the police force, we'd recommend if you have to report a crime in the next week, tell them the criminal looked a bit like Michael Barrymore. That might get their attention.

Earlier: Herts Police have time on their hands


CMP is rumoured to be considering selling off some of its titles, including the music industry Bible (they call it a Bible because it's full of stories about things which, if they actually happen, would be miracles) Music Week. CMP's parent company has admitted there's a memo in circulation about the future of some titles, but hasn't confirmed which ones might be flogged off.

Apparently Printing World could be up for grabs as well. Perhaps No Rock should seek out a partnership with a snarking webb-offset blog and buy the whole lot?


There are people who would have you believe that Robbie Williams is the Scott Walker of our age. They are, however, wrong, as the Scott Walker of our age is, in fact, Scott Walker, who release an album this year for 4AD. This doesn't happen very often - the last new Scott Walker release came in 1995; and we're still a while away from The Drift, due this May.

We can't say, definitively, that it will be better than anything Robbie Williams has ever done, but early reports that it's not a mixture of old Frank Sinatra covers and a treacley ballad about how hard it is to be a multimillionaire who really loves ladies.


It is, to be fair, a sign of Coldplay's desperate need to be thought of as good-ish blokes that the band try to keep the ticket prices for their gigs down to fairly low levels. Although the £35-ish tickets for a gig in Las Vegas still make the evening come in at well over £100 for a night out for a couple by the time you add in travel, which is still quite hefty. Anyway, their bid to keep prices at silly rather than totally stupid has, of course, been thwarted by people sticking them for sale on Ebay. In The Sun, Victoria Newton is outraged:

I think it is an outrage that fans get cheated like this, and it is not just followers of Coldplay who have been caught out.

These days, through sites such as eBay, it is getting easier to flog tickets for daft prices.

Perhaps the way forward is to handle ticket sales like organisers of the Glastonbury Festival do, where only two are allowed per buyer.

The Glasto scheme is enforced by a strict ID policy.

Is your outrage endorsed by your editor and publisher, Ms Newton? Only isn't the work of the tout - buying up rights and then charging fans through the nose so that they can see the people they made successful in the first place - pretty much, say, what your boss Rupert Murdoch did when he took First Division football (and international cricket, and semi-naked wet sponge racing) off onto Sky?

And surely, the red-blooded sight of capitalism in full cry - everything to the highest bidder - is exactly what The Sun stands for in all other fields? We'd have thought you'd have approved of this smart use of scarce resources by the rich - pay someone else to buy your tickets for you.

Anyway, it's good to hear that The Sun has finally started to see the value in Socialism; politics the same colour as your masthead at long last, eh?

Seriously, the Glastonbury model is a rubbish idea - apart from anything, all that does is create a secondary ebay market in false ID, at the same time as adding a frightful level of bureaucratic faffing to be done, forcing up the price of the tickets you were supposedly keeping semi-affordable in the first place. And while Glastonbury-goers arrive over a period of about 48 hours, how on earth do you check 17,000 tickets on the door of a venue in the hour or so during which everyone turns up? Half a moment's thought would have shown that this was an idea that wouldn't actually work.

If something must be done, there are a couple of ways. First is to adapt the system used by my local cinema. I buy and pay for my tickets, then pick them up at the cinema by swiping my card through a machine. Now, the logisitics of having 17,000 people do this in one place at one time are as insane as Victoria Newton's idea, but there is another way - you could link up with a place with a number of outlets: a store chain, or a petrol company. You buy your tickets upfront, online, in the normal way, but don't receive them until 24 Hours before the doors open - you just get a blank sheet for each ticket. Then, you go to your nearest Texaco or Tesco or wherever, pass your blank ticket and card you used to pay over to the assistant. They swipe the card, which checks that the card has had tickets purchased on it, insert the blank ticket into their usual printing device, and your ticket is printed.

It's too late to go and sell the tickets online, as the doors open within the day; you could have sold the blank ticket, but you would also have had to provided not just ID but the actual card you bought the tickets with to the person who bought it before they could get hold of them - and who's going to sell their own credit card on Ebay? But people are still free to swap tickets with friends and even sell them to a mate from the office or whatever if they can't get to the gig any more. And because anyone can go to any branch of the chain store to get their tickets in a 24 hour period, there's not going to be a crush at any one place, at one time as people stuggle to get in to the venue.

Yes, you'd have to pay a small fee to the store for use of their facilities - but what shop is going to turn down, say, a one pound fee for something which brings people into their stores? There'd be no need to introduce new infrastructure, it could all run on existing systems.

Actually, you could get the lottery to do it, come to think of it, so you could pick up your tickets anywhere the National Lottery operated. (They did that, of course, with the Millennium Dome, although the difference here is we're talking about an event people might want to go to.)

The other option? If you don't want fans to be scalped by people flogging tickets on Ebay, do it yourself. If all 17,000 tickets had been sold through the site, perhaps being done in tranches of 1,000 at a time, the wider supply would have held down prices. Yes, everybody would have ended up paying a bit more, but the band could give that to charity or even give out the surplus to a lucky punter as a raffle prize at the gig.

It's disappointing that the only reaction to a modern problem is to decide that we must continue to use the old methods, but just make people prove who they are before they can go about their business. Technology is a tool, not a threat.


It's been a nervous time for fans of HMV's Gennaro Castaldo - he's been quiet, unusually so. Now, though, he's popped up in an report on the Arctic Monkeys, although he's billed merely as "chart expert" (although it's in a paragraph straight after a reference to HMV, so we don't think he's quite gone freelance):

The album could sell up to 200,000 in its first week. Chart expert Gennaro Castaldo said: "We might be entering the Chinese Year of the dog, but as far as the Music Industry is concerned 2006 is very much the 'year of the monkey'. We haven't seen this level of excitement for a new artist since the Britpop-heralding arrival of Oasis more than 10 years ago.

"There has been a great vibe around the Arctic Monkeys for quite a few months now, but it usually takes much longer for a band to develop mainstream appeal and the commercial success that comes with it. The Arctic Monkeys seem to have managed this in just one leap - it's amazing how much impact they have had in such a short time."

We tip our hats to him for his "Year of the dog/year of the monkey" piece - perhaps he spent Christmas working that one up. Interestingly, although the Monkeys aren't selling anything like as fast as Oasis' Definitely Maybe did, the NME website still uses an Out Of Con-Text style headline (Arctic Monkeys set for 'fastest-selling debut rock album' - omitting the 'since Oasis' bit).

Still on the Arctic Monkeys' march to making the world sick of them before they'd released two singles, the 3am girls report on their covering a Girls Aloud song on Radio One yesterday (that's the first time a semi-credible northern British guitar band have ever covered a pop song by a female act during a live session on Jo Whiley's programme. Since Travis did Britney.) - for some reason, this has made them "cheeky" again. Now, we know they have "monkey" in their name, but does that really mean that we have to be told everything they do is "cheeky"? Can't the tabloids thing of any other simian-scented phrase to use?

Here's a list to help them:

Wise Monkey
Chunky Monkey
Hey, Hey, We're The Monke(y)s
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Monkey Magic
Butt Monkey
Monkey Smells of Gallagher


That noise? Oh, that'll be Girls Aloud sobbing their hearts out as they discover that James Bourne, who used to be in Busted and is now in Son of Dork won't be setting his cap at them. Oh no, he only wants to date the little people:

“I don’t want to go out with someone famous. I just want a normal girl who is a waitress or something.

“I can see the advantage of going out with someone who is famous because you can both relate to what it is like being in the limelight."

That's a good point, James, and so it makes sense for you to scale back your aspirations as your own limelight starts to fade. Although, to be honest, you might find waitresses are a bit out of your league as you adjust to the reality of waiting calls from the Where Are They Now? researchers.

Meanwhile, James is looking forward to next month:

“I’ve booked a restaurant for Valentines Day but I’m not sure who I’m going to take yet. I can’t make my mind up.”

Having told the Sun that you've booked a table without any real date in mind, won't that girl feel so special when she discovers she was a last minute addition to the romantic night. Still, James would be just as happy with a mirror.


Lee RyanIn a bumbling attempt to try and take interest away from all those rumours that he's about to be dropped by his label, Lee Ryan managed to blurt out news about a pregnancy on live radio yesterday. He was on Suzie McGuire's Clyde1 show and after telling her she had "a real glow" then trumpeted "I hear you've got good news - another bun in the oven." A real glow? A bun in the oven? Can you actually only get Lee Ryan in black and white, or is it just the thought of women and reproduction that turns him into Terry-Thomas?

Then, remembering he was in Scotland, he started parping about how much he loved haggis. (Had it been Ireland, of course, it would have been Guiness.)

"I ate two portions of it - I loved it. It was gorgeous and I'm getting the recipe for it."

Right, Lee, you're going to go down the butchers, buy a sheep's stomach, and stuff it in your own kitchen, aren't you?

Some of you might be curious as to how Lee - who famously didn't give a shit about the thousands of people who were brutally murdered as they went about their business on September 11th, 2001 because "elephants are dying" - would be sitting down to scoff a meat dish anyway. Surely someone who cares about animals that they're unable to empathise with the sudden, shocking bereavement of tens of thousands of people would be a vegetarian, right? No, it turns out that Ryan has managed to create a belief system which lets him cry over ivory rustling but still enjoy the thought of millions of cows being inexpertly stunned and put into mincing machines:

Cruelty to animals. Im not a vegetarian though 'cos i beleive in the circle of life. If i was an animal living in the jungle and i got eaten, id be cool!

We're not quite sure what jungle it is that Lee hunts his Happy Meal down in, but you can't argue with that. In the same way you can't debate with an Action Man.

Our picture suggests that Lee needs help putting his trousers on - "thats right, one leg in each hole, and make sure the zippy bit is at the front; and make sure your fireman is safely tucked away before you do that zip up, Lee..."


The ongoing Met Police investigation into the Moss & Doherty cocaine sniffing video (when they've spent hundreds of thousands finding the criminal, they intend to spend more trying to work out who the victim actually was) has dragged Mick Jones out of Big Audio Dynamite into the mess.

Oh, alright. Big Audio Dynamite and The Clash.

Jones was producing the Babyshambles album and is meant to be on the Daily Mirror video of models and musicians snorting coke, although The Sun this morning suggests that he's being treated as a witness rather than a suspect. Presumably the police interview was along the lines of "we're not angry, you're not in trouble, we just want to know how long we should throw Doherty into prison for."

The police are still hoping Kate Moss will return to the UK so they can ask her about where the drugs came from, almost as if they think Kate holds the key to the case - again, we're not sure but the logic seems to be "she's the most famous person on the video, so she's bound to know the most." In the same way that it's always the actor you recognise in The Bill who's at the centre of the crime.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Javine, who still has the hollow laughter of her Eurovision disaster ringing in her ears, thinks that her forthcoming bit on celeb sports show The Games will start her on the comeback trail:

I think that it's a way of connecting with potential fans in a way you never can through a song," she told a spy.

That's right, Javine. It's a little-known fact that the Manic Street Preachers were going nowhere until they took part in a celebrity darts match, and Neil Diamond still looks back on his time in goal for a celebrity five-a-side team turned him into a big success. For, if people don't like your singing, they will and do buy your records providing you're quite good at diving.


We hope that we can expect to see the full costings of the stunt pulled by Hertforshire Police, who have sauntered over to the Big Brother house and arrested Pete Burn's coat on suspicion of being a gorilla. Of course, there is a chance that it is made from an endangered species, and that would be horrible. But the police getting involved? We're glad we don't have to fund this sort of showboating by the cops.

Elsewhere, as Faria Alam left the house, one of the tabloids sought out Preston's real life girlfriend, and prodded her enough to make her say she was pissed off with his behaviour; while Galloway's opponents in the other House were disappointed to discover that he'd sent his signatures for the disputed early day motions through the post. But they will take heart that they've got more than enough to throw at him when he gets back.

Isn't Michael Barrymore being quiet?

Earlier: Preston shares too much as George channels Elvis


The most important man in rock (when judged from his perspective only), Billy Corgan, is a step closer to admitting that nobody really wants him on his own and is only going to pay him to be in the Smashing Pumpkins. You might recall last July he stomped off stage after people called for Pumpkins songs, although he'd sort of brought it on himself by sending a wonderfully pompous advert in the Chicago Tribune announcing his plans to bring back the money tunes.

Now, it seems, his plan is nearing fruition, as rumours leak the band are the possibly disappointing headliners for this year's Coachella.


The woebeggoten marriage of the style of the Ku Klux Klan and the message of Peter, Paul and Mary that is the Polyphonic Spree believe there's some mileage in their schtick, still. Tim DeLaughter has announced plans for a new album under the title The Fragile Army.

Oddly, the cult deprogramming experts don't seem that bothered about trying to restore Spree members to everyday life. "Look" one told us, on condition of anonymity, "deprogramming is a tricky thing - you have to be close to these people, sometimes for weeks on end. And, frankly, none of us want to have to sit listening to them doing tracks from Together We're Heavy for as long as it would take to get them back to normal."


It's quite a coup for the organisers of this year's Superbowl - they've signed Aretha Franklin up to do the national anthem at the start.

Lets hope they know what they're paying for - back in 2004, a lot of people were disappointed when Franklin admitted she'd pre-recorded the anthem she "performed" at the NBA finals. Of course, if you're going to watch somebody move their lips, there are far less legendary lips you could watch flapping in mid-air, but even so, the NBA affair felt like being short-changed.

Maybe this time she's just going to send a DVD of the NBA anthem to the NFL.


Having pleaded guilty to whacking a cop, Ms Dynamite has been ordered to pay £750 to the policeman and been sentenced to sixty hours community service. Which isn't bad for her, since she could have gone to jail, and there was a period when she was busily issuing press releases about community work she was doing all the time.

In fact, since she's volunteered to do work for the community in the past, shouldn't there be some sort of rule insisting she has to do community service she hasn't already done? If she goes around telling kids not to use guns, then effectively she's going to be getting the benefit of the boost to her image in the same way as when she did it in the past. Surely she should be out with a wallpaper scraper getting gum out of the pavement?


All that cash being poured into the legal action against its own consumers must be having some effect, right?

The IFPI certainly believes it is. The group - designed to extend the RIAA influence glonbaly - has produced a report trilling that everything's going swimmingly. Chairman John Kennedy introduces their new figures:

"The strategy will not eradicate the problem, but it is containing it.

"Consumer research shows that every second person who cut back on illegally file-sharing has done so out of concern for the legal consequences."

So the idea of all this money being pissed up against a wall - originally as an "educative" measure designed to wipe out filesharing altogether - is now merely being spent in order to stop the problem getting worse. Imagine if Bush tried to sell the War on Terror that way - "We feel that its cash well spent to ensure we only continue to lose a couple of skyscrapers every five or six years. The problem is controlled. Rejoice."

Still, it's nice to see someone admitting that the filesharers will always be with us. And his claim on the effectiveness is impressive, isn't it?

Well, not really. All that money, and only half the people who claim to be filesharing less than they were when it started have been doing so because of it? Wouldn't the cash have been better spent investigating why the other 50% have cut back, and seeing if that would form a much more consumer friendly version of dealing with what the record companies view as a problem?

And you'll note that Kennedy doesn't even say how many this "every second person" is. The IFPI reckon there are 20% fewer illegal files on the networks than there were two and a half years ago - which means, in effect, hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent removing - best case scenario - just one out of every ten dodgy mp3 files.

And that's if you believe the IFPI's figures. Another report, from an independent source, Jupiter, believes that the number of illegal tracks on the internet has remained steady for the last two years. It's survey of 3000 people in UK, Germany and Spain suggests that 35% of filesharers aren't using the peer to peer networks as much as before (perhaps half, like Kennedy suggests, are scared of being sued, although other options - legal services available, the rise of the mp3 blog, or simply there coming a point when you've filled your iPod up and find yourself halfway through downloading Doop by Doop and realise you have all the songs you could ever want for now so only download new stuff - are more likely); however, 14% are shovelling more into their harddrives than ever before.

Pleasingly, if Kennedy's 50% ratio is right, then every person who is dropping their download activity because of the legal action is being replaced by more than one person increasing theirs.

Kennedy also touched on DRM:

Mr Kennedy, writing in the report, said that DRM "helps get music to consumers in new and flexible ways".

He said DRM was a "sometimes misunderstood element of the digital music business".

Well, that's true. For example, John Kennedy misunderstands DRM when he thinks its about "helping" getting music to music lovers. The sole reason for the existence of DRM is to prevent music being moved around flexibly. To frame it as an enabling mechanism is akin to suggesting that the Berlin Wall was intended to enhance the attractiveness of living in East Berlin.


We don't know how Victoria Newton gets her scoops, but today she's all of a flutter with news:

I’VE got to the bottom of the mystery surrounding ARCTIC MONKEYS’ baffling album title Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

So I can finally put you out of your misery and reveal it is a secret tribute to Brit film actor ALBERT FINNEY.

The phrase is a quote from his most famous movie, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning — the Arctics are huge fans of old Sixties movies.

We don't know if Victoria had to dress up like a sheik to get this astonishing piece of news, or if she just read any interview the band have ever done. For some reason, though, she seems to think that using a line from a film as an album title makes the band "Cheeky Monkeys", as if they'd been trying to pass the phrase off as their own, or getting a trademark on it.

It's probably lucky Victoria was still in nursery when Ride released Twisterella - can you imagine how she'd have exploded if she found a band stealing Billy Liar's actual song?

It turns out the Monkey's record label gave them a copy of Saturday Night, Sunday Morning as a gift - that must have been an awkward moment, as the band looked at each other wondering if they should say "actually, we've got that one already" or just slink off to HMV to return it without a word.


Viviscetion lab Huntingdon Life Sciences has taken a break from inserting tubes into rabbits and seeing how long it takes a beagle to explode if you feed it crackers or whatever their vital work is to join the Morrissey Hunt. Actually, their reaction to Morrissey's support for animal right extremists was fairly mild:

"People can have whatever opinions they want, but to condone and encourage acts of violence is entirely wrong and should not be allowed in democracy."

Not that there's anything violent, of course, about force-feeding sofa stuffing to beavers.

The Cambridge Evening News, however, is keen to portray Morrissey as a terrorist-in-waiting, even outing his secret identity (Morrissey, full name Stephen Morrissey). Be careful, Cambridge, we hear he murders people with meat.


How do you judge when you've made it? The money? The fans? The groupie prepared to let you do that thing that you've only ever read about on the internet? No, it's when you get the novelty cover version of your hit - the lounge version, the Wurzels, the acapella reworking - or a barbershop quartet. It's the latter that the Kaiser Chiefs have achieved, with Cheshire Chord Company turning up with their take on I Predict A Riot.

Anyone interested in making an Arctic Monkeys track in plainsong?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


If you ever wondered if the Brits organisers were free to book who they wanted, and really pull together a brilliant show, the news that Jamie Foxx is going to "make Kanye West's performance better" gives you your answer: somebody has decided that Foxx needs a robust platform to launch his British musical career from, and the Brits have decided to fall in with what their label paymasters want:

According to a source said: "Jamie's going to come over with (West) and sing for the Brits. It's just eight weeks before the big push to make Jamie a music star over here with the release of his album. The timing is perfect."

Isn't it just?

We do find ourselves wondering if Foxx had won awards for playing a surgeon rather than a singer, would we now be watching him scrub up down the Bevendean General?


It's not quite as tantalising as the SXSW line-up, but the two All Tomorrows Parties line-ups aren't exactly shabby, either:

May 12th, 13th, 14th:

MUDHONEY DAY - Black Mountain, The Scientists, The Drones, Country Teasers, Comets on Fire, David Dondero, Jon Wahl & The Amadans, Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, The Flesh Eaters

YEAH YEAH YEAHS DAY - TV on The Radio, Ex-Models, Celebration, Blood Brothers, The Liars, Imaginary Folk, Tall Boys, Oneida

DEVENDRA BANHART DAY - Espers, Vetiver, Bat for Lashes, The Metallic Falcons, Jana Hunter, Vashti Bunyan, The Metallic Falcons, Danielle Stech-Homsy, Bert Jansch, The Watts Prophets, Magik Markers, Services

May 19th, 20th, 21st:

DINOSAUR JR DAY - Dead Meadow, Bevis Frond, Broken Social Scene, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Lilys, Magik Markers

SLEATER KINNEY - The Gossip, David Cross, Spoon, The Boredoms, Joanna Newsom, Lightning Bolt

THE SHINS - New Pornographers, The Decemberists, Clinic, Big Business, Triangle, Destroyer


Following on from the Sony-BMG debacle, EMI is being called upon by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) to pledge not to sue anyone who investigates the security implications of their copy protection.

Now, EMI is in a tricky position - does it make the pledge, and risk seeing the secrets of its DRM spill out on the web and become useless. Or does it refuse, and risk getting trapped in an even nastier position than Sony-BMG did if it turns out they're also leaving doors open to hackers. After all, Sony-BMG have just spent a fortune trying to buy their way out of their cock-up. What sort of settlement would EMI be facing up to if they had to come court having slapped down attempts to help them?

We're not betting on EMI doing the right thing.


The BPI defends its lawsuits against individuals as the only thing that will keep the wolf from it's members doors. The leeching of free music is bringing it to its knees.

But that's just not true: artists albums (the non-compilation sort) rose year-on-year to a massive 126.2million units in 2005. Pretty good by any standards.

Compilations saw their sales slip, but with many of the key compilation markets moving into purchasing electronically, that's only to be expected, and more than off set by a 48 per cent rise in single sales, 26.4 million downloads sold in the year as a whole, a million of which came in the last week.

A pretty healthy year - many other sectors would have chewed their arms off for performance like that (we tried to get the fancy goods market to chew its arm off in return for a 48% rise in hair doodads sales, and they were halfway through to the bone before we told them we were only using a figure of speech.)

They try to mutter about how piracy is hurting them, but they can't stop themselves from grinning:

BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson said, "A rich crop of albums from both debut and established acts meant that 2005 will be remembered as yet another great year for British music, and helped us record the best year ever for artist album sales."

Let's remember those cheerful words the next time they send off solicitor's letters pleading they're on their knees.


Despite what you might have heard on the internet, Radiohead haven't signed up for the V Festival. They've been asked, they're still waiting for a better offer ("thinking it over.")

The Who, Kasabian and Keane are also sitting looking at emails pondering if they can face a trip to Chelmsford.


We're quick here to damn the music cartel companies when they do something stupid - actually, not "quick", as they do so much stupidty and we're just one person but their stupidity is important to us and if they wait on the line, we will deal with the latest manifestation as soon as possible. However, if they do something good, then we think it's only fair we acknowledge that, too. So, we're quite pleased to hear Universal is bringing the first of 10,000 albums from the last 40 years online, featuring British, Irish, German and French acts from long-deleted collections.

Of course, as we embrace them and pull them close, we do have to whisper in their ears that they could have had this process underway ten years ago, and been selling all those tracks for that decade online. If all the labels had moved to get their stuff onto the web as soon as it became obvious the way the wind was blowing, they could have headed off any sort of widespread grey market of unpaid for copies circulating. And now, they bring us DRM hobbled, overpriced downloads and expect to be praised for honouring their own past... actually, we'll mark them down a cheer and a half.

But still: half a cheer.


We're at a loss to understand quite how one gets hospitalized for "exhaustion" - presumably, there's got to be something more to it than just being in need of a bit of a kip - but it's happened to Isaac Hayes. He's in a hospital in Memphis, and "doing much better."


Leif Garrett - who we always thought of as, quite erroneously, the American Leo Sayer - has found himself on the wrong end of the always long-arm of the law. He's been arrested, suspected of having drugs but having no underground ticket. It's not clear which was considered the worst offence.

Trouble is, Garrett - aptly named after the place where struggling artists lived and starved - was on probation for possession already. So he's being held in the cells pending his appearance in court.


Having spent some cash luring him away from XFM, Virgin is going to pump more into reminding people they exist ("promoting the new show".) There's going to be some of those nasty rollover things which will launch O'Connell babling away while he's on air - an interesting idea, but since there's presumably going to be other stuff going on during the show, Virgin could be spending their cash to promote the INXS back catalogue and whatever companies are advertising on them; that's amongst the few web users who don't get pissed off with them for suddenly blaring out of their PC because they inadvertently moused over an ad.

In addition, poor sods in Camden will have the show yelling at them from bus-stops - surely the best argument for walking to work instead.

Virgin Radio's David Andrews, head of marketing, is very excited:

"Video footage available online from our world-famous studios will really capture the public's imagination as well as achieve massive additional reach."

Capturing the public's imagination? Excuse me while I fan myself - a webcam in a radio studio, Mr. Andrews? Why, I never thought I would live to see such wonders.

And in what way are the Virgin Radio studios "world famous"? I'm the sort of person who makes people take detours so we could drive past the HTV studios in Bristol, and I could no more tell you where the Virgin Radio studios are.


Surely, nothing we've ever said or done here can be considered as the Sun's snarky line as it announces that Kerry Katona is planning an acting career:

The star, who unveiled her comedy acting talent on Iceland adverts, has revealed that she is happy again with boyfriend Dave Cunningham but there are no plans to get engaged.

"revealed her comedy acting talent", eh? Not, you'll notice, her talent for acting and comedy. Sometimes, that paper really does have a way with words. Us, we'd have just said "tragic acting talent."


tatuHaven't Tatu already dumped their manager once? Only they've done it again, so grumpy at being booked on some sort of reality TV show they fired him on air.

Hang about... "reality TV show". Just a stunt, then.


We're losing track of if the current line is that Courtney was pregnant with Steve Coogan's baby, or wasn't, or had it aborted, or had the child and gave it to a family in Kansas to raise unaware of its mystical status until his eighteenth birthday, when his destiny was revealed. Steve Coogan has, erm, cleared it up for us:

"The story that went around about Courtney being pregnant with my baby was 80 per cent false and 20 per cent true.

"I'll leave which is which up to your imagination."

Oh, Steve, don't do that; our imagination is coming up with "It was either Steve's, or Fredrico's, or Terry's, or the bloke's who came to fix the air conditioning." And we're sure that's not what you mean.

Apparently, Steve says Courtney still sends emails "all the time". Do you want us to show you how to set up a filter to avoid that, Steve?


The Uses of LiteracyThere's no reason to assume that Victoria Beckham's planned book will be an affront to literature and make Lotsa Da Casha look like Melvyn Bragg; and it would be wrong to assume that Posh is planning to write a kid's book because she can get away with smaller words, fewer of them, and fill the pages up with pictures. (We're not actually sure that Beckham knows there are books that don't have ten words on the lefthand page and a drawing of a doggy or a bunny on the right.) No, the words to chill the blood are that she's writing a book "to tie in with her children's clothes range.

Ha, in your face, Richard Hoggart - I think you might have missed off "flogging hooker clothes to six year-olds" as one of your uses for reading.


50 Cent must have a strange idea of what friends are like, as he thinks that Eminem is a buddy for telling him not to do the movie:

"Two weeks before filming he calls me and says: ‘They told me you’re going to do a movie?’ and I said: ‘Yeah they told me you said it was a good idea.’

"And he says: ‘And you went for that?’ He told me: ‘You’ll be there for three months, on set for hours, maybe 16 hours a day sometimes and they’ll say: 'Oh 50 can you make us an incredible record while you do that too?' so you’ll be writing all the time…I don’t know why you did that.’

"So after that I was wondering what I’d signed up to."

After filming had started, Eminem called up again and said he was only messing, and he and 50 had a right old laugh.

The important thing to note, though, is that Eminem didn't say "I was just mucking about" until after it was clear 50 Cent was going to make the movie anyway.

It doesn't mean that Eminem hates 50 Cent, of course - it could just be he loves the cinema.

Meanwhile, Centy says that he has no problem with nudity in the movie - in fact, he wanted more:

"When it came to do the love scene I was OK because I had already done the shower scene," he added.

"But then they told me I had to put something on, I didn’t know, so I had to put a sock on."

You'll note he doesn't say if it was one of those ankle-high ones or a football sock.

He's also argued, half convincingly, that there are double standards at play when people complain about him waving guns about in movie posters:

“Using guns or weapons to market a film is not unusual,” he said. “You know what the logo for 007 is. You’ve seen Rambo and Terminator. It’s part of entertainment. It’s just when they see me they say there’s something wrong with it.”

Up to a point, Lord Fifty. The problem, of course, is in the blase "it's part of entertainment" and, more crucially, in James Bond and Cyborgs from the future being clearly grounded in a fantasy world, while your film is based on you, and your image, which is nothing without its links to the real world. As far as we know, Roger Moore has never gone around talking about how much he loves it that he's been shot.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Presumably figuring that Pete might find touring difficult if the worst happens in court next month, Babyshambles are squeezing in a mini-tour in the next few days:

Stoke Underground - Jan 20th
Liverpool Academy (ex-L2) - 21st
Nottingham Rescue - 22nd
Cambridge The Junction - 23rd
Colchester University - 24th.

Tickets are on sale now; you might want to check the plans for the refunds when you pick 'em up.


You can't really take Bobby Brown's word on anything but he does seem to have been going round honking that he and Whitney Houston are getting divorced. Mind you, he did say this while trying to cop off with some other ladies, so it might just be a hardcore version of "my wife doesn't understand me."

Presumably they'll be down the solicitor just as soon as the front door stops laughing at them and the giant crawling baby with the flashing eyes gets out the garden.


We remember being the very vanguard of the lukewarm response for Lets Bottle Bohemia, so we're managing to breathe normally upon hearing that The Thrills are getting back to work for their third album. One bright spark is they're bringing back Tony Hoffer, who, Conor admits, didn't produce their second album because they though it was a rule you shouldn't use the same producer twice. It's odd they weren't so strict about not using the same songs all over again.


After the screw-up of ticket sales at the start of the U2 tour - people who'd paid for access to a computer system found it crashed - U2 have managed to engineer another PR disaster in Brazil as another ticketing exercise collapsed in chaos.

Depite an outrageous ticket price - Bono's desire to help the poor of the world doesn't extend to doing anything that will hurt his own pocket, it turns out, and tickets cost two-thirds of the minimum monthly wage - thousands of people queued round the blocks to try and get gig tickets, distribution of which had been put in the hands of the Pao de Acucar supermarkets. Only ten stores in Sao Paulo and two in Rio were given tickets, and most only assigned one cashier to take care of the sales.

U2 are playing a football stadium with a capacity of 73,000. So, even if demand had only matched supply, twelve cashiers would have had to be selling tickets at the rate of seventeen a minute to deal with the demand in a single seven hour day, which was always going to be unlikely. Since queues had started forming the day before, most people might have guessed that demand was going to be more than for supply.

Cash machines broke; tempers got short; police got called out to keep an eye on things.

It's turned into a bit of a PR disaster for Pao de Acucar - queuing fans started to chant against Abilio Diniz, who runs the chain, and pledged their future alleigance to rival Carrefour.


Money must be really tight for Michael Jackson - things, indeed, are so bad he's even considering getting a job. He's applied for a position as a consultant on a theme park and music business.

That's going to be wonderful interview:

-So, Mr. Jackson, you say you ran a theme park in America?
-Yes, yes... Neverland
-And how much money was that park making during your management?
-Well... um... what is this "money" thing?
-How much did you take from people coming through the gates?
-I... what are you implying? I only ever gave to them. Why do you want us to think it was about taking? How can you spoil something so beautiful? I NEVER TOUCHED THEM.
[awkward pause]
-Maybe we should move on to something else. Obviously, Mr. Jackson, we will have to perform a background check on your suitability to work in a place full of children...
-I have a letter from Ruth Kelly, will that do?


Godlike GoreThe entire Depeche Mode back catalogue is getting a 5.1 makeover and reissue later this year - possibly some time round Easter, which will be apt for the stuff from the period when they kept taking their shirts off and pretending to be Jesus.


It's interesting that whenever the copyright industries call on Europe to adopt regulations ever closer to their generous treatment in America, they never suggest we adopt the right to use works royalty free for the purposes of parody. It's that lack of a right to parody that kept Phil Pope in cheques writing similar-but-not-infringing versions of popular tunes for Radio Active and Spitting Image. And, if we had such a right, James Blunt and his management wouldn't have been able to bully a site into taking down a rewriting of You're Beautiful.

We're far from sure why they bothered - yes, it did take the piss out of Blunt and the song, but he's been a marine. If you can take being stripped to the waist and being buggered by a rolled-up carpet or whatever it is that they get up to in the marines these days, surely you can cope with a gentle ribbing? Or are they worried about loss of earnings? "Well, I had been going to buy a copy of You're Beautiful as a Valentine's Day gift for my beloved, but I've made a copy of a track about how dirgey James Blunt is off my computer to give instead. It's exactly the same thing."

No, it just smacks of a kneejerk reaction from a management office. We'd suggest that exposing your charge as a humourless bastard to shut down a mild joke that was doing no harm would be the sort of management decision they'd teach you against in that Harvard Business School. Or on the cassette-tape versions of their courses.


That nifty little rootkit which Sony-BMG started throwing onto people's computers to protect its copyright? It starts to look as if it might have compromised all our safety - a researcher has found the program, which opens a backdoor to hackers, on governmental and military computers around the globe. Thanks, Sony.

The "around the globe" bit is interesting, too. The intentionally-damaged discs were only distributed in the US, and yet their fingerprints are turning up all around the world. In other words: pirates have been duplicating Sony's discs, piracy-proof protection and all.

Sony will have to hope that the discovery that their gunk has got into federal systems doesn't leave them open to repercussions from the US: installing secret software on a US military network would surely get any of us a one-way trip on a shadowy flight to a unmapped government facility.


It seems unlikely that Son of Dork are going to turn up on the bill at Reading this year.

Well, of course it is - no matter how poor Reading might have become, even Clear Channel would realise that booking the Joanie Loves Chachi of Busted spin-offs would be a waste of everyone's time and money. But even if they offered, James Bourne would be too scared to play, as he's haunted by the potato-and-bottle hail that greeted Fightstar (the Mork and Mindy, since you ask) there last year:

"Charlie got it with his band and I don't see why we should take that chance. I'd rather just not go to a festival at all - even as a punter. If I can't go on stage without that risk, what are the chances of me walking through crowds without a bottle being thrown? I've got no interest in it."

Well, he's got a point - after the mayhem and injuries at last year's Reading Festival, he would be at risk of getting caught in a rumble. But not because you're in Son of Dork, Jim: somebody would have to recognise you for that to happen.


At first, we thought the "scoop" that Preston Ordinary had lost his virginity when he was 13 had been picked up by someone sitting through the acres of Celebrity Big Brother coverage making notes, but it turns out canny More magazine did an interview with him before he went in. Not just because of BB, of course - More's coverage of the indie scene is second to none; you should see their Forward Russia makeover in the current issue. Apparently, Preston isn't much cop when it comes to saying goodbye at the end of a relationship:

"You pretend you're depressed and need time alone, when really you just fancy someone else."

We hope his current partner, Camille, knows that he's doing Big Brother, otherwise she's probably assumed when he said he was going to go away for a couple of weeks and wouldn't be in touch that she was dumped.

Preston's cherry-popping came during a game of Spin The Bottle - "it was a bit skivvy" - so god alone knows what would have happened if they'd been playing sardines. It's lucky he knows skivvy when he sees it, though, as Chantelle has been clambering into bed with him.

Galloway as ElvisMeanwhile, George Galloway has been taking the Elvis impersonation a little too far. He seems to think that like Elvis, nobody knows where he is, and has been happily signing commons motions despite being locked in a house so protected, not even publicity hungry solicitors can get in to serve papers. (Isn't lucky that the former solicitor Anthony Bennett just happened to get his case against Barrymore together in time to coincide with the series, eh?)

The Sun, meanwhile, is busy pushing at an open door with a campaign to get Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Right Round re-released. Who knew Pete Burns would be the new Peter Andre?

Earlier: Enter Saville


Having heard that Robbie has turned down the chance to be on the Take That tour, Will Young has offered his services. He's keen to slip into Robbie's gap in the line-up, although he seems to have his eye more on Lulu's part:

"I'd happily join Take That on stage and look after Robbie's place - that would be so much fun, we could all sing together. My favourite Take That song is Relight My Fire, so we could perform that one."

Take That are at least being polite:

Take That's management said: "The band did their last big tour as a fourpiece, so they don't think Robbie will really be missed this time around.

The idea, though, is ridiculous - Will and Williams are like chalk and something quite other than chalk. Will Young is a gay man who sings weak songs designed to sound good piped through Asda FM, whereas Robbie Williams is quite a bit older than him.


Anyone who's ever gone to a gig might have swallowed hard when they read the Mirror headline 'KILLER' AT ROCK GIG. Only it turns out the alleged murdered wasn't actually a 'killer' at a rock gig at all; just that a jury was told by the prosecution that after he killed his parents he went off to see Blink 182. Not quite the same thing.


Victoria Beckham has given her top tips for pulling blokes - all you need to do is pull on a pair of skintight jeans and a pair of high heels.

By a fabulous coincidence, Beckham is also pushing her own line of designer jeans. What splendid luck.


His latest run-in with the law has led to Pete Doherty having to scrap a gig - and you know how much he hates not turning up for a gig. Problem is, this one was meant to be in Austria and the organising radio station had to cover the costs, estimated at £120k of the cancelled event, including the private jet which would have flown the band to the centre of Europe.

Still, at least the station will have saved the band's appearance fee, reckoned at fifty grand. Money that Pete could have done with, as he has apparently been buying Jaguars. The car, not the cat.

Presumably because he was so taken with the advert Mr Sting did for them, he's bought three of them. We're not sure how this squares with him not having a pot to piss in, or his cherished man of the people image, but it does mean he could go into the wedding car business if venues get tired of booking a band who don't turn up.


Can't she just be happy for him? Like an archetypal old lady at a wedding, Eminem's grandma snorted when he remarried Kim. Granmama thinks that Kim's just after his money. Which would at least be a more comforting thought than "he's changed since he sang about murdering me and my child", which is the sort of violent behaviour even Rith Kelly might think about before giving a second chance.

Incidently, if you divorce someone twice, do you get one half of the other person's stuff, or one half for the first time, and then one half of whatever's left? Can you protect your initial alimony in a prenup? Or since it comes between weddings, is it called an internup? Eminem's gran doesn't see this as being important, as there isn't an agreement anyway:

Betty Kresin said the star was “stupid” for not making Kim, 30, sign a pre-nuptial agreement to protect his millions.

Betty, 66, said at her home in St Joseph, Missouri: “Kim will take everything. She’ll go through all his money.

“She wouldn’t want to get married so quick if he’d got a pre-nup.”

“Kim is very controlling. She’s turned him against his family.”

Yes, that devious woman who deliberately engineered a divorce, bitterness, unpleasant attacks against her on every radio station in the land. That Kim is so in control there.


Madonna and LourdesMadonna has put her foot down - yes, we know, who ever thought Madonna would come over all insisting? - and barred Lourdes from auditioning for the part of Luna Lovegood for the next Harry Potter movie.

Not, as you might think, because Lourdes is about half the age of the rest of the cast and it would look ridiculous, but because Madonna wants to spare her kids from the glare of the camera until they're old enough to make an "informed choice" about seeking celebrity. You can see Madonna in this picture here, protecting Lourdes from the glare of the unforgiving public eye by standing next to her at a film premiere, bravely trying to suck up all the attention.

She's doing the same thing in the second photo, too, where - somehow - Lourdes found herself at a book launch event for one of her mother's Kabbalah kids stories. Quick thinking Maddy thrust a book into her hands and got her to read aloud from it, thus sparing Lourdes from being part of a showbiz event.

We're sure Madonna's just keen to make sure that her daughter doesn't find herself centre of attention when her mother isn't there to protect her by soaking up all that attention herself. What a wonderful mother.


There can't be a person alive who will be surprised, that, given the backing to make a film, Simon Cowell has decided to make a movie all about himself.

What is odd, though, is the plot of Cowell - The Movie is based around a "pop svengali turning pop hopefuls into stars" rather than a tiresome boor who gets his jollies inviting people to try and follow their dreams, then pissing all over them, while taping their humiliation for the amusement of millions. And gives Sharon Osbourne work.

Monday, January 16, 2006


The great thing about the iPod, of course, is that its designed so well, even the sort of fool routinely pitied by Mr T could use one. We're not sure, then, who Selfridges are targeting with their £65 iPod lessons - they say there's customer demand for the tutorial there. Certainly, you'd have to be have a mind slimmer than an iPod Nano to not twig that the Apple store round the corner does the same sort of thing, but for free.

[Thanks to Franco Milazzo for the link on this one]


The National Consumer Council, who were looking out for British citizen's rights when computers were still using reels of tape, has condemned anti-piracy efforts as eroding people's traditional rights in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry:

In its statement to the inquiry it said the digital locks put on content were "constraining the legitimate consumer use of digital content".

Also being undermined were rights established by consumer protection and data protection laws, it said.

"Consumers face security risks to their equipment, limitations on their use of products, poor information when purchasing products and unfair contract terms," said Jill Johnstone, the NCC's director of policy.

She added that the group had little faith that self-regulation by media makers would protect consumer rights.

The NCC, of course, has less cash to lobby than the music and movie industries do; and they'll have to hope that the importance of our rights will outweigh the inevitable industry claims of how anti-piracy measures protects markets, GNP and jobs.

Still, it's not likely that the Blair government would side with big businesses over individual historic rights, is it?
[Thanks to Anthony T for the link]