Saturday, September 16, 2006

Amazon Unbox: It's called that, because it makes the computer box unyours

Amazon have recently taken a step towards making physical products obsolete with Unbox, which allows you to download movies to watch on your PC without having to buy a DVD and have their brain-detached delivery people hurl the packet over your garden fence to land on a concrete patio with no regard to what it will do to the contents, for example. That sounds like a good deal.

Until you read the terms you sign up to. Or read Cory Doctorow's take on them.

Back in the days when Britain was a naval power, men would sometimes find that somebody had dropped a shilling in their tankards. If they failed to notice, and the shilling found its way into their mouth, this was taken as being a binding contract with the state to join the navy. The Amazon Unbox contract isn't quite as fair as that, but it's heading in the same way.

Lohan: What is she, like 90?

Lindsay Lohan has trampled her way back to hospital, this time for a fractured wrist she "sustained in a fall". Falling over and bone snapping? What, has she abused her body so badly it's on fast-forward and she's turned into a nonagenarian? Is Herbie going to be refitted to deliver her meals on wheels?

George, Michael, Elton and John all fine

Britain's two foremost 1980s celebrities with two first names have publicly ended their battle. Or at least Elton John thinks he's sorted things with George Michael. So, presumably, there's going to be no more claims that George is wasting his talent and so on from Elton. And George... well, he won't be saying anything much, we suppose.

Glitter kicked out of NFL

Considering his tendency to fiddle over pictures of naked children came to light back in 1999, it's perhaps a little surprising that the it's only this year that the NFL has advised American Football franchises to drop Rock N Roll Part 2 from the pregame ritual.

Yahoo Music is outraged - so outraged, it's actually printed an editorial, which they tend not to do very often:

Still, if the league ever wonders why some people think NFL stands for the "No Fun League," this is a good example. What Glitter did was reprehensible, no doubt about it. No one ever should think of inviting him to perform at a game, and it's probably best to stay away from that song when picking theme music for commercials.

But few fans know Glitter co-wrote and performed "Rock and Roll, Part II." Most don't even know that's the actual name. It isn't until you say the "Hey" song or sing, "Dah dah dah dah dah dah, HEY!" that the lightbulb goes on.

Now, they could have a point - to a certain extent, the question of if its okay to play Gary Glitter at a football game echoes the tiresome and empty debates over if its okay to like Eric Gill's fonts or whether buying a copy of Alice In Wonderland makes you the sort of person News of the World readers should be throwing rocks at.

But there is a key difference with Glitter - after his child porn conviction, he skipped the country without signing the child protection register, which technically makes him (in American terms) a fugitive from justice. Secondly, he's since been convicted of child molestation in Vietnam - and, it's pretty clear, he would have faced much more serious charges had he not bought off the witnesses and victims. And how did he manage to buy them off? In part, from the royalties he's been making on music being played halfway across the world.

The reason the NFL is right to discourage its teams from playing the works of Glitter is not because there's anything immoral in his music, or because playing it at the Mile High Stadium will make people go home and sleep with their nephews.

The reason is because nobody wants to be subsidising a paedophile's tours round the Far East.

It's surprising Yahoo thinks they should.

On the other hand, George Bush was happy to resurrect the theme for his re-election tour last time round, despite having it explained to him exactly what that meant.

Good DRM purchasing citizens also file-sharing pirates

Some not entirely surprising results from the latest piece of digital music research by Jupiter: people with iPods don't fill them up entirely from the iTunes Music Store:

The Jupiter Research report reveals that, on average, only 20 of the tracks on a iPod will be from the iTunes shop.

Far more important to iPod owners, said the study, was free music ripped from CDs someone already owned or acquired from file-sharing sites.

There's a question and a curiosity here. First: being told that only an average of 20 songs comes from the iTMS is a bit of a meaningless figure without being told how many other tracks, on average, will be on the iPod. (Later on, it's suggested that this would be 5% of the average music player load, or 400 tracks.) The other curisoity is the use of "free" music - if you rip your own cds and put them onto your music player, which is surely the most logical use for an iPod, it's not "free" music as you've already paid for the right to do that. I think its a fairly safe bet that someone who'd pay a hundred quid for a music player will be the sort of person who would have spent a few years buying an above-average number of CDs, isn't it?

The report warned against simple characterisations of the music-buying public that divide people into those that pay and those that pirate.

"It is not instructive to think of portable media player owners, nor iPod owners specifically, as homogenous groups," warned the report.

No, really? It'll be reports suggesting cooker owners don't all eat the same sorts of food next.

It said: "Digital music buyers do not necessarily stop file-sharing upon buying legally."

This is slightly confused wording - because it implies that file-sharing is always illegal, which, of course, it isn't - but it's an important fact the RIAA sometimes overlooks. Just because a person buys a DRM copy of Justin Timberlake's new song doesn't mean they won't take a shady copy of an old Britney Spears one if they come across it. The RIAA tends to see the purchasing of any DRMed track as being some sort of eucharist, with the purchaser pledging themselves to follow the path of righteousness forever more; this simply isn't the case. It's handy to have that confirmed.

Of course, what really is lacking here is the question of why - what motivates consumers to behave in this way - and, more interesting to the music industry, what would make them stop.

The Casbah forever

The people who run the Cavern bristle a fair bit when people suggest it's not the "real" Beatles Cavern, on the grounds that they feel its near enough to count. They'll be fuming tonight as their great rival, The Casbah in West Derby, has been given listed building status. On account of being the real thing, and also being where the band played their first gig, back in 1959.

English Heritage's Bob Hawkins has twisted the knife, stressing the Cavern's faux-ness by implication:

"The basement rooms are historically significant because they represent tangible evidence of The Beatles' formation, their growth in popularity and their enduring cultural influence.

"The club survives in a remarkably well-preserved condition since its closure in 1962, with wall and ceiling paintings of spiders, dragons, rainbows and stars by original band members along with 1960s musical equipment, amplifiers and original chairs.

"We know of no other survival like it in Liverpool or indeed anywhere else."

Of course, listed status will help prevent Liverpool City Council putting a Debenhams or something on it.

Everett upsets Radio 2 again

One of the examples the BBC uses when training its staff in where to draw the line in terms of taste and decency is a clip from Rupert Everett introducing Robbie Williams, with a handfull of innuendo and a bucket of shipmate's swearage.

Everett doesn't appear on the TV or radio very often, but when he does, he leaves his mark. Today, for example: he swore so much, they can't put Jonathan Ross' Radio 2 show onto Listen Again.

That's a fuck of a lot of swearing.

They'll have a special editorial course for him alone at this rate.

Nought on returns? Not on, retorts Norton

It's not often you see Graham Norton getting vexed, but Bono's tax arrangements really do hack him off:

"People like Bono really annoy me. He goes to hell and back to avoid paying tax. He has a special accountant. He works out Irish tax loopholes. And then he's asking me to buy a well for an African village.

"Tarmac the road outside your house, you tight-wad! Or pay for a school in Ireland.

"I've never met Bono and now I probably never will. But if I do meet him I'll ask him because I think it's a hard thing to justify."

To be fair to Bono, he doesn't actually go to Hell to avoid paying tax, as the higher rate there might be lower but the capital gains arrangements would leave him out of pocket, so he goes to Holland and back instead.

The nice thing about Graham Norton saying this is that Norton is able to do it from the perspective of someone with a bit of cash, and so his objection can't be slapped away as being the ranting of the jealous poor.

Rod wants to go like Nicholas Van Whatisface

Rod Stewart doesn't want to be buried in some hole in the ground, thrown in like you might put a box of stolen cash awaiting Knuckles McGee's release from Wandsworth. That's not unusual, of course, as he's still alive. But he doesn't want to be buried when he's dead, either:

"Actually I don’t like the idea of being buried underground. I want to be above ground like Elvis at his house.

"I’d like a nice little mausoleum here in the garden. I’ll have to write to my MP about that."

Elvis has been buried above ground; it's also what Nicholas Van Hoogstraten sort-of wants, although his mausoleum is actually in the basement of his house. We don't know if that would count as underground for Rod's purposes.

Robbie Williams is not acting on legal advice

Naturally, Robbie Williams' decision to sing his anti-Nigel Martin Smith song during his Milton Keynes Bowl dates isn't adding to any libel action, but, with 65,000 witnesses, could leave him open to that rare beast, a slander action that could stand up.

Williams introduced his song like this:

“Did you see a story in The Sun today about me?

“My former manager’s got a problem with a song on my album called The 90s.”

Robbie then rapped the lyrics [...] and asked: “What’s wrong with that?”

Well, seeing as you've already had legal warnings about the song, repeating the words in front of thousands of people - even Robbie Williams fans - would mean that if judgement does go against you in court, you'll find the penalty far stiffer than it would have been. Also, the song's not very good in the first place, the lyrics are childish and you can't rap, you cabaret-flavoured buffoon.

Is Jake Shears actually gay at all?

Wayne Rooney nakedWe ask because, although in the course of his interview with the Sun he seems to check all the boxes - mates with Elton ("he calls me Britney Shears"); Judy Garland namecheck ("some moments she’s off her trolley, but it’s beautiful") and the obscure pointless support for Madonna ("I think Hung Up is just the most ridiculously addictive song"). But then he starts oozing about Wayne Rooney:

“I think Wayne Rooney is totally hot — he’s so sexy.

“I don’t know anything about football. I know who DAVID BECKHAM is but I think Wayne is really, really cute — totally my cup of tea.

“Those World Cup ads with the England flag where Wayne’s half naked I thought, ‘Gosh you’re so hot!’

“I’d rather dance with him than his girlfriend anyway.”

Wayne Rooney? Wayne Rooney? Wayne "We wanna be Smiths' Crisps" Rooney? Just what sort of self-respecting gay man would fancy what is effectively an ambulatory potato?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Russians elect to keep space pure

As Madonna spent the last week tying up Russian security services and hacking off the Russian church, it wasn't perhaps the best time for her name to be put forward for a jolly into space.

The Russians have decided they can do without her, the Parliament rejecting an idea to send her to the International Space Station. The idea came from Alexei Mitrofanov, who cheerfully admitted it was a stunt.

Yes, there was a time when the mere thought of a person - any person - breaking the bonds of gravity and walking beyond the atmosphere was astonishing enough to demand out attention. Now, it seems, space has become commonplace they think they need to throw a bottle-blonde in a pointy bra into the mix to keep our attention.

Plans to crash Britney Spears into an asteroid are still being considered.

Robbie Williams is not able to keep going

It's lucky Robbie Williams doesn't have a proper job, like delivering letters or stocking shelves, as the poor lamb has had to cancel his entire Asian tour leg, lest playing those five or six evenings tires him too much.

We're sure it really is exhaustion, and nothing to do with, say, poor ticket sales. We're just a little confused as to how you know in advance you're going to be exhausted at the end of the month after next.

Happily, he doesn't expect this to be the sort of exhaustion which will prevent him playing Australia, where he's very popular.


Sow's ear sacks people responsible for turning them into a silk purse, we guess: as a reward for tirelessly turning the tiresome, Travisy Coldplay into a global-ish force, Chris Martin and the... others have dumped Propaganda Management. They've signed with a bright, shiny American-based LA management company from Hollywood, America.

We suspect this move will mean rather more videos directed by Gwyneth Paltrow, rather than less.

Avril Lavigne: everyone's talking about it

We know Avril Lavigne has a tendency towards the self-regarding, but does she really believe that people speak of little else beyond her and her clothes?:

"It's all everyone's talking about these days — how I've gone all glam."

Yes, how many times has the Speaker of the House had to try and remind honourable members "we are here to discuss the Iraq war, not Ms Lavigne's trousers", before abandoning the session with a chuckling "...but I say: more mascara" as the MPs wave their order papers.

Avril, lest we forget, pledged that she would never be an FHM style girl: "I won't wear skanky clothes that show off my booty, my belly or boobs."

Now, though, she seems to have sort-of forgotten that:

"I haven't worn a necktie in a very long time," she said. "My skate clothes and really baggy pants ... I still have them all in my closet, but now I wear cute clothes, tighter pants and lower shirts. I mean, that's just because I'm older.

Interesting how what was once "skanky" has now been reclassified as the less condemnatory "cute."

Yoko attempts to confuse Lennon and Nobel

Had he not moved to New York, and gotten himself shot, October 9th would have been his birthday. To celebrate herself ("this date"), Yoko Ono is going to award some cash Peace Prizes:

The LennonOno Grant for Peace will give out two $50,000 prizes to the Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

In a statement Yoko Ono said: "These two groups look beyond today's conflicts and destruction and envision a positive future for our society, while working selflessly and tirelessly towards establishing a more peaceful environment for our planet.

"They are strong representatives of the many groups who are working in the same direction, today. They need and deserve all of our support and respect."

And who could be churlish about a multi-multi-millionaire donating a few quid to such fine charities, even at the cost of giving her a bit more publicity.

There's also, naturally, going to be a piece of heavy symbollic art:

The Imagine Peace Tower is set to be constructed in Reykjavik. The base of it will be filled with international prayers and wishes. It will stand as a symbol of world peace.

Ono says: "Each one of us was born at this time, not by chance, but to fulfil a mission. Our work is not yet done.

"I know that John's spirit will be joining us on that day, October 9th, in Reykjavik and I look forward to seeing you there to celebrate this exciting day. WAR IS OVER, if you want it. I love you."

The choice of war-torn Reykjavik as a position for the tower is a wise one - giving hope to the crushed Icelanders as they try to pick their daily life through a procession of shelling and carbombs. It's like holding a rain-dance in Digbeth.

Killers flogged

We're not sure quite what it's a sign of, but we suspect it might be the lack of truly legendary bands around right now: The Killers' UK tour has sold out in just five minutes.

Maybe it's just down to the internet; it's not like there's any effort involved in buying tickets online. Selling out in a couple of hours when that meant people having to hoof it down to a small box in the city centre waving cash - that was impressive. But selling out online? Impressive for students of ecommerce architecure but it's not the same, somehow.

New Found Glory get the grumps

New Found Glory have sent an open letter to Lionel Richie, because they're a little bit pissed off with him:

Dear Lionel,

Congrats this week on the release of your new CD "Coming Home" -- what an awesome title! Sounds familiar though, where did we hear that before? Oh yeah, it's the name of our new CD which drops Tues Sept 19th. Together we have the same CD title out in the same month. Pure genius!

Anyway, we know it is too late for you to change your album title, but we expect a call before your next album comes out. If you don't, our follow up to "Coming Home" may be entitled "Dancing On The Ceiling" with such original punk rock songs as "Say You, Say Me" & "All Night Long." Our new single and video is "It's Not Your Fault." Hey ... we haven't heard your song yet ... Send us a copy.

Jordan, Steve, Chad, Ian, Cyrus
New Found Glory

Now, an impartial observer might say to New Found Glory that, if you don't want to find that your album has the same name as another album coming out the same month, it might be safer to choose a name which isn't so dull and overused in the first place. Because Chris Norman also has an album called Coming Home out, next month. And Denise Leigh issued a Coming Home ep back in June. Lonestar might wonder why you're so pissed at Lionel releasing an album with the same name in the same month when their Coming Home album came out a full year before yours. And when they released theirs, did they have to deal with a letter from Gerard Kenny complaining that they'd stolen the title he'd used five months earlier? Or, indeed, from Brooke, or Calvin Jones, Amedeo, Debbie Fier, Visions or Deejay One? Or Dynamoe, Engelbert Humperdink, Falco or Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges or Fiona Kennedy? And how about Tim Janis? Brian Gallagher, Darren Crossey, Morenas, Gene Conners, Rozalla, Hermosa, Intralopers, Andy Hopping, Christina Lux, Blue Fever, and the Rev. Evans Clay & The AARC Mass Choir. Chuck Cheesman, Michael Stackhouse, Peter Kater, Shenandoah, Bon, Richard & Jeanne Cotter, Wayne Newton, Ram Herrera, Klang and Jean-Michel Pilc... but you get the drift.

The message would seem to be: if you choose a hackneyed phrase as the title of your album, you might not want to draw attention to it.

Harry does Moby's bidding

We hope that Debbie Harry isn't deluding herself when she talks about working with Moby on a song called - no, really - New York, New York:

"We both live in the city and I love all the inspiration it's given each of us. Moby has a strong artistic vision but he was also willing to listen to any suggestions I had, which made me feel a real part of the song.">

Is it just us, or does that sound like she was told she was having a valid input to the process in the same way that faceless corporations like to tell their staff that their views are being considered and taken into account in the way the company will be going ahead - shortly before they get made redundant or pulped into smoothies for the CEO to drink?

Gwen takes Peas advice

Although it was released with fanfare and hoohah and parades of mute Japanese children trailing in her wake, Gwen Stefani's solo debut has somehow failed to trouble the compilers of "best albums ever" lists. So, rather than try and come up with something new for the next one, she's just hired in whoever's "hot" now, which translates as Sean Garrett, who's helped Beyonce and Fergie produce some very forgettable work recently. But he's got profile, and that's what counts.

It's unknown if her Tokyo Orphanarium entourage will be retained for the new record.

Alanis goes to surgery for a bit of work

We're not sure if Alanis Morissette is now, officially, an actress who used to be a singer, or if she still has "singer" on her passport, but she's signed up for a short spell on Nip/Tuck. As The Mirror helpfully explains, she appears:

" the lesbian girlfriend of Dr Liz Cruz, played by Roma Maffia."

In case you couldn't work out "woman plays partner of woman" that that might involve lesbianism on some sort of level.

We've checked, and there is nothing ironic about this story in any way.

Church takes on Vegas

A few years back, there was an art exhibition in Liverpool; the organiser was delighted when Granada offered to devote its local arts programme to it. The then-unknown Johnny Vegas was given the role of presenter for the show, and she spent the day with him, showing him around, answering his intelligent questions. She was distraught to discover, then, that the finished piece was punctuated with pieces-to-camera of a sledhgehammer "what's all that, a child of three could do better" type "jokes".

Johnny Vegas is not an easy person to share TV screen time with.

As Charlotte Church discovered for herself. Vegas - apparently - enjoyed the hospitality on offer at a taping of her Channel 4 show:

At one point she shouted, “Shut the f*** up’, and slapped him.

An audience member said: “It was like watching a car crash.

“Johnny was off his face and took every opportunity to wind her up — she didn’t have the experience to keep him under control.”

It didn't help that she mentioned Sex Lives of the Potato Men. SLOTPM was the film which got roundly drubbed at the time. Although, to be fair, it's picked up much more positive coverage on Amazon, some of it even spelled properly. One reviewer even compared it to the Canterbury Tales.

Vegas response to Church's gentle probing?

“Well I listened to your album and it was shit.”

Which is a duff line and a missed golden opportunity - surely if the host of a struggling chat show says "your film was rubbish" the correct response is to look round and say "and what's this, Newsnight?"

The lowest moment came when Vegas claimed to have had sex with Charlotte Church's grandmother. She hit him. And on that bombshell...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Universal threatens MySpace, YouTube

The tireless campaign of the record companies - believed to involve suing everyone and everything before a target 2018 - finds some new targets, with Universal CEO Doug Morris wagging a finger at YouTube and MySpace. He's also reserving the right to have a go at anything that starts with "we", although he concedes that Ipod is currently "just on the right side."

In what seems to be a prelude to seeing if he can find any lawyers not already involved in suing the dead, children, the poor or misprints, Morris fumes:

Morris says that the label believes "these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars." [...] Morris said that the label has plans to deal with the popular web sites and their hosting of infringing videos.

Interestingly, YouTube are currently negotiating with the music industry to find a way to give them piles of cash, so it's possible this is just a clumsy bid to try and "negotiate."

Still, its not like failing to see any advantage in new distribution channels and reacting by issuing writs has ever harmed the music industry in the past, has it?

Jay-Z gets a nice little job

Retirement. The worst thing about retirement, of course, is that the days stretch out in front of you, calling to be filled. Time sits heavy on your hands, and, as Albert Tatlock warned in the very first episode of Coronation Street, if you don't get yourself a hobby, you'll be dead within the month.

This is probably why Jay-Z, who had retired, has emerged from retirement. He's going to be doing afternoon shifts in B&Q, and putting out a new album, Kingdom Come.

There's some disgruntlement at his retirement condo, though. Eminem, who Jay-Z beat for position of deputy chair of the resident's committee, is calling for Jay-Z to stand down. "He's not even properly retired" fumed Eminem.

Selling Syd

There was a feature on the local news in the East last night showing potential buyers looking to buy Syd Barrett's house. We say "potential buyers", but we suspect they might have been closer to fans and pokeabouts. One chap at least admitted he was a fan, and did seem quite serious about purchasing the house, but offered a bemusing explanation about what he intended to do - he suggested he'd try and keep Syd's colour schemes and so on, but improve the house; a process he likened, rather sweetly, to producing a record.

Macca's going to get a visit

The planning row over the illegal lodge Paul McCartney built on one of his estates continues to roll on. You might recall that Macca had said "well, if I knock down some perfectly acceptable buildings, can I keep the one I built illegally"

But Rother District Council have decided that won't do. They have decided they can only decide what to do if they take a trip to McCartney's house.

Not, of course, that they fancy a jolly round a pop star's gaff, oh no. And it's certainly not that they're hoping Heather might need to reshoot parts of her nude calendar while they're looking round the grounds.

Sony-BMG Malware still out there

Sony-BMg might have thought their rootkit troubles were over, after it settled and apologised for breaking customer's computers with copy-protection malware and tried to clean up its mess.

But today, a warning has been flashed from the Texas Attorney General that the cussed software is still causing trouble:

State investigators found that if a CD with XCP technology is loaded on a computer running AOL's "Safety and Security Center" software, the program's antispyware feature will attempt to delete the XCP components, but often while also disabling the CD-ROM's configuration in the PC's operating system.

Still, on the bright side, if the EU does force Sony-BMG to demerge, each company will only have half the broken computers to worry about.

Sharing? Just once in a blue Zune

Microsoft's Zune player is going to feature a built-in wi-fi connection, designed to allow owners of the device to connect to other Zune owners and not share the music they have on their devices as that would be illegal. But they could, if it was allowed.

The DRM on this makes our heads spin a little:

While Zune users can share an unlimited number of tracks, each individual track can only be shared once with any given user. Once shared, it can never be shared again. Also, each shared track is good for only three spins, or three days, whichever comes first, after which it disappears from the user's device.

So, if you want to share this really hot track with people, you can't. But you can share it with a person. Providing you warn them to only play it three times - kind of like using a fairy's wishes.

Oh, and the WiFi burns through the battery use like a demon at a barbecue, too.

Microsoft have pledged with device will be available to buy in the US before Christmas, but cannily haven't committed themselves to which Christmas - Russian, Greek, Western - or, indeed, which year.

Beers, cheers and fears

Brewers and festival organisers have reacted with unhappiness to suggestions that when alcohol salespeople sponsor music festivals, they might encourage kids to drink.

"What an extraordinary idea - that because we sponsor events, people will buy our products" seems to sum up the reaction to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) calling for a ban.

InBev, who pump the cash into T in the Park, suggests that it does so in an educatory fashion:

It claims that "more forward-thinking" government advisors believe sponsorship "should be used to try and educate people about the responsible use of alcohol".

However, it also said that banning them from sponsoring T in the Park would have "little effect" in discouraging youngsters from drinking, which is curious - does the sponsorship have the power to influence people, or does it not?

We're not entirely sure where the education about the responsible use of alcohol is at T in the Park - we've never been, so maybe there is a large stand where a man holds up brandy and explains how it can be used in a medical context, for example.

Melvin Benn, from Clear Channel's Mean Fiddler organisation, shows himself to be having difficulty understanding the story - perhaps he needed a stiffner before giving his quote:

"'It would appear that the government have not got enough to do," said Mean Fiddler Music Group managing director Melvin Benn, whose Reading and Leeds festivals are branded the Carling Weekend.

Uh, Mr. Benn - the call for the ban has come from a drug advisory body, not the government. But carry on.

"Carling have been sponsors of Leeds and Reading for nine years with no downside on the state of the nation as I see it."

The Carling Weekend has, on more than one occasion, ended with violence and ritual burnings, and the Leeds event had to leave its original venue after the festival ended with 200 drunken louts causing a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage. But, to be fair, this year didn't see anyone hospitalised after a mini-riot, so maybe people have been slowly educated into getting stewed responsibly by the sponsorship.

And Benn's cocky attitude might have worked a bit more effectively had he actually paid attention to the context in which the ACMD was making its call - it offered research proof that, actually, the state of the nation has suffered something of a "downside" as young people drink more:

Of all the drugs, alcohol has shown the most recent growth in use and causes the most problems among young people in the UK today. The most alarming recent development has been the growth in the number young women who are drinking frequently and to excess. In the past decade the proportion of women drinking more than twice the recommended weekly limit has doubled.

Of course, the Reading Festival can't shoulder all the blame, but a little more willingness to try and help rather than braying might not have gone amiss.

The Portman Group - which is basically a brewers-funded version of the Press Complaints Commission - at least tried to sound like it cared:

The Portman Group, which regulates the brewing industry, said it was "satisfied" with how its code of practice regulated sponsorship deals.

"The code is appropriate and generally very well observed," it said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, it's important not to be complacent about the industry and social responsibility and we are shortly to carry out a review of the code."

The Government, of course, is much too busy infighting to want to do anything about anything, so there's nothing to stop Carling from sponsoring Reading next year.

Did I listen to pop music because I was sad, or was I sad because I listened to pop music?

We haven't asked a scientist, because, frankly, we'd be afraid they'd laugh at us. But if we did ask a scientist "is this report which tells you what your musical taste says about your life based on a sound scientific principle, we think... well, that they'd laugh at us.

The University of Leicester has found - it says - that if you listen to dance or hip-hop, you're probably a criminal or something:

Some 56.9% of dance music devotees and just over half of hip-hop fans admitted to having committed a criminal act compared to just 17.9% of people who like musicals.

Which might just mean that people who like musicals are more likely to lie about having spent time in prison, lifting weights and trying to organise B-wing into an amdram presentation of Okalahoma.

[Classical music and opera listeners] were also more likely to have been educated to a higher level. 6.8% of opera fans had a PhD, compared to none of the chart pop fans. When it comes to eating, fans of classical music, opera and jazz tended to spend rather more money on food and preferred to drink wine to a greater extent than fans of other musical styles.

You see... this isn't the sort of thing you'd have come up with on the basis of anecodtal evidence, you know.

Only 1.5% of country music fans have had more than one sexual partner in the last year, which suggests that if their babies have done gone left them, they're happy to take themselves in hand.

24 hours from cracking

The speed of crackers is impressive: iTunes 7's DRM has already fallen to the good people at the Hymn project. They'd worked out how to un-hobble the DRM in less than a day from the new version of iTunes going live.

(Doing) good on the dancefloor

Certainly based on its size, there seem to be more musical charity initiatives launched from Manchester than anywhere else, which would suggest either Mancunians have bigger hearts, and do more for others, or they have bigger mouths, and shout about it more.

Latest idea is Good on the dancefloor, a night featuring DJing from Clint Boon and Tom Hingley (out the Inspiral Carpets), Mike Joyce (The Smiths), Marc Riley (The Creepers), Dermo (Northside) and some others.

All cash raised will go to help people fighting Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

There will be no escape from V

Richard Branson - thankfully resisting his usual impulse to make major announcements naked, or wearing inept drag - has confirmed the V Festival will roll out to more countries in the next couple of years:

"We are also looking at Italy, Spain and South America," the entrepreneur told Reuters. "We will roll it out."

Australia is also being considered for the annual Virgin-backed event.

"The great thing about doing it in more than one country is we can coordinate it and get the bands moving between countries," said the 56-year-old.

"Tours will play a much greater part in the coming years. From a band's point of view, they make more out of playing live than out of music sales."

What Branson forgot to mention, of course, was the sheer joy we can feel with this stride towards the total homogenisation of youth culture. Everyone will wear the same trousers by 2010...

Faithfull full of faith and fight

Marianne Faithfull has been diagnosed with breast cancer, says her publicist:

"The disease has been quickly discovered by doctors in France," said her publicist. "The prognosis for a return to full health is excellent."

Faithfull is determined to lick the disease:

I have absolute faith and confidence in my fantastic medical team and of course I will be well again, if not better than ever," said Faithfull in a statement.

"Next year's tour, I want to assure fans, will be one big celebration."

That "next year's tour" is what would have been "this year's tour" until the diagnosis.

G, as in Guantanamo

Apparently Gina G's current stage act involves a large slew of PVC costumes and several pairs of handcuffs. It was the handcuffs which caused an incident as she was trying to board a plane at LAX.

A suitcase full of handcuffs? They probably thought she was CIA.

Making the world safe for materialism

Apparently, it took nearly 10,000 people to guarantee Madonna's safety at her Moscow date: 7,000 police, thousands of army cadets and a further 600 riot police.

Well, it's one way of filling out the venue, isn't it?

And was it all worth it? What did the Russians make of this affront to their religion and dignity?

"It was closer to a Lionel Ritchie concert than a satanic orgy. There was very little atmosphere or dancing."

They, clearly, have never been backstage at a Lionel Ritchie concert.

You could have said no, if you'd wanted to; you could have just walked away, couldn't you?

Poor Noel Gallagher - it must be terrible for him, having to release a greatest hits album and take delivery of all that cash picked from the pocketbooks of fleeced fans.

Oh, he so didn't want to do it:

"We were kinda forced into it anyway, but we're going to give it our best shot."

But how were they "forced" into it? Why, they'd promised Sony a certain number of albums, and if they didn't release a best of, they'd have had to written some more songs and recorded them. Poor Noel - imagine if you wanted to negotiate a lucrative new contract, and were forced with a stark choice between doing some work, or being given thousands of pounds for not doing any work, albeit through a method you'd previously called "a sellout". What would you do, eh?

Guy's a loss

It's probably not much of a surprise that Guy Ritchie's film company turned in a loss of £110,000 last year. As The Sun helpfully points out:

The accounts show Ska has barely produced anything for the last two years, mainly because Guy took a back seat to look after kids LOURDES and ROCCO while Madge toured.

Although, of course, Madonna has only been touring for less than a year. Maybe it could be that demand for Ritchie's one-note filmmaking skills somehow got swept away?

Robbie Williams is not getting the release he craves

Curiously, having had quite a few days to think about her report on the threat to the new Robbie Williams album now that Nigel Martin-Smith is suing him over Williams' allegations that his former manager is either "a theif or shit", Victoria Newton's Bizarre column has somehow forgotten that Williams expanded on those claims at great length in, erm, Victoria Newton's Bizarre column the other day. Perhaps it's that page's mysterious disappearance from the internet that has confused her.

Last week, she was reporting the song, and filling in the background in quite some detail, but today's reporting of the affair is couched in slightly more cautious terms:

The track charts Robbie’s years in TAKE THAT and he appears to make serious allegations about ex-boss NIGEL MARTIN-SMITH.

Those would be the allegations you printed in full in the paper last week, would they, Victoria?

Martin-Smith is calling for the track to be removed from the Rudebox album, which could throw plans for a late October release into a bit of a flap.

Doh' Jags

We lose track of how many Jaguars Pete Doherty's supposed to have - we imagine he does as well - so all we can say for sure is he now has one fewer after one is taken in lieu of unpaid fines.

The fines are from driving in a bus lane - surely Pete should know when you have a vital city artery like a bus lane, you don't want it cluttered up by filling it with all sorts of junk?

Unfortunately, the fines total over a thousand pounds, and the book value of the car is just £300, so the baliffs will be back for his teeth at some point.

Our blood ran cold

It was bad enough discovering that the Hay on Wye festival has decided to hold an event in Spain (not quite Hay on Wye anymore, is it?), but then seeing the words "Geldof gig to open culture fest", we were worried.

But it's Bob, not Peaches.

So Peaches does have a use, after all, it turns out - generating a sense of relief when you discover it's just her Dad.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New iTunes not entirely bug-free

Maybe Apple is trying to beat Microsoft at its own game, by releasing a piece of software with enough bugs in to make it look sloppy: few of the reported iTunes 7 bugs are fatal to your PC or iPod, but they are a bit of a dent to the Apple image.

The new face of Toryism: the old, old face of pop

Callmedave Cameron's attempts to inject some celebrity sparkle into the new-look Conservative party have been sticky, to say the least: for some reason, attempts to parachute Adam Rickett into a safe parliamentary seat have met with resistance. Presumably Ricko's dodgy pop career and habit of removing his clothes for photoshoots were a stumbling block.

Good news for Cameron, though, as Private Eye reports that Brighton & Hove tories have elected to give David van Day a try at being a councillor. It's not like David has got a dodgy track record of taking his clothes off to try and push substandard pop si... oh, hang on.

Bookmarks: Some other things to read online

The Wire interviews Scott Walker, in which Scott explains how he writes lyrics: Like for instance, the songs 'Buzzers'. I started writing it during the Milosevic thing that was going on, and I left it or a while. But then I came across this little news thing in the paper or a magazine, which eventually the newsreader reads out, but it was actually a news clip - and then I started thinking about the horse, the evolution of the horse, and brought that element into it.

Fluxblog watched the MTV VMAs and live-blogged: Beyonce is accosted by fashion police in riot gear who are apparently busting her for breaking a New York state law prohibiting back up dancers from wearing trenchcoats while cage dancing.

X-Press sits Neko Case down and asks her stuff: "Lazy media are responsible for that [The term alt-country]. I never wanted it in the first place, I don't know where I got labeled with that term. All of us are mystified about where it came from and why it exists. It's like calling Michael Jackson the king of pop - who the fuck thought of that?" (Michael Jackson, we suspect.)

The Guardian's Culture Vulture experiences music festivals, Malawian-style: Malawi reggae star Lucius Banda is unable to fulfil his Saturday night headlining slot. Having recently become an MP, Banda's high school diploma (a requirement of the position) has been discovered to be a forgery and the singer was given a 20-month jail sentence just days before the start of the festival

Chromewaves discovers what happens when you transplant a British Festival to Canada. You get the rain: It should be noted that the day got started late on account of being unable to set up the stage in the morning rain, so the mainstage was running fifteen minutes to half an hour behind schedule from the get-go.

Valleywag rummage around in the business of MySpace, from it's spammy launch to that Murdoch takeover: Various other corporate dramas have ensued, including the sale of Intermix Media (formerly eUniverse, and the umbrella company to MySpace) to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in a deal that has been described as a cash-out merger as a result of an unfair process and at an unfair price. Somewhat justifying suspicions, Viacom (the company that owns MTV) went on the record stating, "It's fair to say that we had an opportunity to participate in the process [of purchasing MySpace]. We looked closely at MySpace, but didn't fit our financial filters."

Last Bookmarks

50 Cent marks down fan

Apparently, now 50 Cent is so popular he can afford to go round beating the crap out of people whoo like him. According to reports, at some fashion show, the target (let's call him Froop) asked 50 for an autograph, only to be turned down flat. So, later, when another one of 50's big mates turned up late and needed a chair, Froop didn't take kindly to the suggestion he yield his seat.

50 really wanted Froop's seat, so he hit him a little to make him give it up.

Ten years ago, Tupac was killed in a pointless drive-by shooting over some sort of stupid row about an imagined slight at a boxing match. It's probably a sign of progress that, a decade on, rappers are now just having slapping matches over who gets to sit in the front row at an underwear show. Some progress, anyway.

Tool dope cop quits

We're still none the wiser about the case of Jonathan Smith, former Washington State policeman. He's elected to resign after he was seen buying hash cookies at a Tool concert.

Has he resigned because of the cookies, or because he was spotted at a Tool concert?

Buckcherry, the underage poledancer and an awkward lawsuit

A young woman has filed a lawsuit against Buckcherry and Warners after - she claims - they got her drunk and filmed her semi-naked and poledancing.

Back when she was 15, last October, she answered a MySpace ad - an offer to take part in a video shoot for the band. During the course of the filming, she was (apparently) plied with booze, encouraged to remove her nethergarments and made to jiggle her tits to the sound of Buckcherry. Oddly, she's not mentioned the having to listen to Buckcherry bit in the lawsuit, which we'd have thought would have been the cruellest and unusualest bit.

Warners are surpried to be mentioned in the action, as this all happened before they signed Buckcherry (they don't say if that crazy video with half-naked children had swung the deal one way or another); Buckcherry's people point out that they tried to ensure everyone was old enough to take their clothes off in a mature way:

The band's attorney Skip Miller said precautions were taken to keep minors out of the video shoot.

"There was every opportunity for her not to be in that video," adds Allen Kovac, Buckcherry's manager. "For whatever reason, the girl subverted those efforts, and now her mom is trying to blame everyone but her. This woman is now looking at them as a profit opportunity."

Presumably, Buckcherry got everyone to sign a waiver, stating they were old enough to be in the video. Presumably.

The girl is seeking USD25,000 damages for the distress she was allowed to cause herself; large numbers of hairy-handed men are seeking "buckcherrry poledancer video" on Google.

Murdoch slaps down Gates over DRM crisis

In what is in no way any sort of bargaining stance now that Apple is getting seriously into the film business, BSkyB have abandoned their Windows Media format premium downloads. They're claiming that the cracking of the Microsoft DRM (and the subsequent cracking of the patch) by FreeUse4WM has given them no option:

"We took this step as a precaution after Microsoft said it was working on an update to its digital rights management software, which is used to protect content on Sky by broadband against unauthorized copying or distribution," a Sky spokesman said on Tuesday.

Of course, Sky wouldn't want to be distributing digital-quality copies of films and sporting events in a way that could be easily copied. Erm, except for when it does so over its pay TV network, which can pump programmes direct onto videotape, DVD, hard-drive or computers without any DRM protection at all. 8.2 million people take Sky's TV services, most of whom will have one way of slurping up digital-quality copies of movies; barely a couple of hundred thousand had used the online download service, few of whom would have downloaded FreeUse4WM. What would have the greater impact on film-makers' sales?

But it's not, we stress, in any sense a bargaining position.

Whitney and Bobby: All over now

The cracks - to say nothing of the smacks and cokes - have been showing for a while now, but we're finally in the Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown endgame: she's filed for divorce, and the papers have been served.

It'd good news for Bobby - who, as we know, is fond of humpin' around - humpin his bag around the various divorced men apartment buildings will doubtless keep him in a state of joy. It's also great news for the late Osama Bin Laden, who apparently loves Whitney so much, he toyed with the idea of having Brown killed to leave the field free for him.

Indeed, it could be that this is all a sublt FBI ploy to tempt Osama out of "hiding", and they'll be watching Houston's door in case a bearded, dead man with one wonky kidney and a heart-shaped box of candy appears ringing her doorbell.

However much you may love rock and roll, you have no need to put a dime in the jukebox, baby

In other words: as part of the push for the new Joan Jett album, Sinner, her MySpace page is hosting a free download of one of the tracks, ACDC.

And before you ask "is it about the band", it's off an album also featuring tracks called Fetish and Androgynous. So, no, then.

Dream a little dream for me

Rocío DúrcalWe've often wondered where Jennifer Lopez gets her ideas from.

Okay, yes, they're delivered in a buff folder marked "Ideas" most of the time. But what about the ideas for her songs?

Apparently the new one is based on a dream by Marc Anthony:

"Marc woke up and said, 'I just had the craziest dream,' " Lopez recalled. " 'What was the dream?' And he said, 'Rocío Dúrcal was in this room and she was saying, "Come here, get in this room right now, listen to this. This song is for Jennifer," and she was singing a melody.' "

This was a couple of weeks after Rocio Durcal had died from cancer, making the tale either a heartwarming piece of evidence for an afterlife and that the dead never leave us, or an especially piece of callous marketeering.

They sang the song onto their home answering machine, and a few weeks later Lopez decided to lob it on her forthcoming Spanish language album.

That's a bit odd, too, come to think of it:

Lopez then called a Spanish writer she was working with to help her with adapting the lyrics — though she speaks Spanish, she wanted to make sure she was expressing everything accurately. "You have to have a total command of the language, so I couldn't write it all myself, you know what I mean?" she said. "I had to really depend on people to express what I was feeling."

So... you can sing words and mean them even although you can't actually say the words and mean them? How does that work, exactly?

The ghost of Rocío Dúrcal has announced plans to sue for royalties.

Child of Mercury

When we first heard that the Mercury Prize people were launching a competition "for children", we assumed it was being aimed at artists whose record deals tend to come about as a result of who their parents are - Lily Allen, Paris Hilton, and so on.

Instead, it turns out to be part of National Music Week, where kids will be invited to vote on their favourite artists and singles from a list of ten. It'll give them a chance to discover how major music awards work, although without the small bags of inducements, of course.

What's it all about, then?

Peter Jamieson, chairman of the British Phonographic Industry says "To date most music education in schools has focused on teaching children to play instruments.

"National Music Week is about exposing young people to a broad range of music and helping them to improve their listening skills."

Yes, in short: the idea is to stop wasting time teaching young people how to make music for themselves, and instead encourage them to buy CDs instead ("improve their listening skills").

The shortlist is:

All Angels - Songbird
Betty Curse - Girl With Yellow Hair
Keisha White - Just Don't Understand
Lil' Chris - Get Delirious
Matt Willis - Ex-Girlfriend
Mr. Skillz & His Crazy Girls - I Know U Like Me
Natasha Marsh - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Seth Lakeman - Kitty Jay
Soweto Kinch - Old Skoolish
Trinity Stone - Ayo!

Having listened to all the records from across the mix of genres, the schoolkids will then be invited to make Matt Willis the inevitable winner.

Justin hasn't a clue

You can tell people you're a sexyback romancing loveabot all you like - they may even believe you. But the truth is you're a bumbling Mr Polly of a clerk, isn't it?

Yes, you, Justin Timberlake, we're talking to you.

You don't, under any circumstances, respond to your current girlfriend (if she's Cameron Diaz or not) dying her hair by saying "oh... my ex did that recently". (Especially if she's Britney Spears.)

You are what you flog

Charlotte Church has proved her value to Pepsi, shoehorning a claim to be surviving on their popular Walkers product line, like what she's paid to advertise:

“I was so busy last week — there was a chicken Caesar salad waiting for me but when I got the chance to eat I just filled up with crisps.”

Hey, Walkers aren't directly promoting the idea that crisps are a nutritious meal solution for a busy girl on the go. That would be wrong.

Take That in want of a name

Take That are, apparently, struggling to come up with a name for the new album - although Jason Orange is pushing for "I'll Never Go Back To The KFC", we understand.

While we'd love to think it could be "Guaranteed Williams Free", that seems unlikely, so we wonder if they've thought of "Customers who viewed this item also viewed..."?

Failing that, Back For Cash would fit.

The Simpsons

Now, let's just sort this out if we can... Jessica Simpson's headline-cluttering relationship with John Mayer (the American James Blunt) seems to have lasted only as long the press release took to read, presumably to allow Jessica to adopt her lucrative new character as "unlucky in love":

"I think I'm too hard to be in love with. It ends up on the cover of every magazine. I scare people away. I'm a lot to take on."

"I wish I was in love, I need to be in love."

"I regret nothing and it made me who I am right now. And right now who I am, I am so in love with. I am so happy with who I am. It's all about the journey."

We know, we know: if she's "happy with who she is", why does she wish she was in love? And if she thinks she scares people away, is that a character trait she's "so in love with"?

Michelle TrachtenbergMeanwhile, Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz had been dating the wonderful Michelle Trachtenberg, out of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But - and we're guessing here - his band's profile could do with a bit of a boost amongst the Entertainment Weekly reading masses, so he's dumped her for Ashlee Simpson.

Are we the only ones who assume ole' Joe Simpson hands his daughters envelopes every morning, with the names of who they'll be dating in them?

Robbie Williams is not being upstaged by a bald bloke

Last Christmas, Robbie Williams was suffering from writers block. In the sense of "Oh... I've split from the guy who wrote the songs people actually liked and what do I do now?" type block.

Luckily, Matt Lucas and his boyfriend were staying with Robbie, and apparently Lucas came up with, and recorded, an interesting sounding song about someone with obsessive compulsive disorder. Certainly, it sounds more interesting than anything else that made it onto Rudebox.

Which is probably why it didn't make it onto Rudebox.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Madonna in Moscow: First reports

The interest in the early reports of Madonna's Moscow concert is not so much that, written virtually as soon as the first notes were heard, the Associated Press had to sort-of hope that everything passes off without incident; not the heavy-handed arrests of ten Orthodox protestors (lucky the Russian police got in some practice during the G8), but rather how much ground Maddy had conceeded to the Church already.

It turns out the change in location - sold on the unlikely "fear of students falling out of windows" - had been to pacify concerns that Vorobyovye Gory was too near two branches of the church; the shift in date - now being claimed to have something to do with the 11th September 2001 attacks - was to avoid a clash with the feast day of John The Baptist.

Even that wasn't enough for Leonid Nikshish of the Union of Orthodox Crusaders:

"As soon as she starts to defile the cross, we will do everything possible to make sure she's kicked out of Russia and not just Russia."

Where else does he intend to kick her out of? All of Europe? The entire planet? The good news is we'll find out, as she did do her bit on the big cross.

Britney: It's a boy, again, probably

According to two of the magazines which employ millions of staff to do little more than poke about through discarded placentas with a Fisher Price DNA testing kit, Britney Spears has given birth again. To a boy, reckon both Us Weekly and the National Enquirer. Although the last edition of the National Enquirer seemed positive she had a little girlie growing inside of her, and it was going to be called Jailynn. Presumably so in a few years when the girl says "where is Daddy?" Britney can say "In Jail, Jailynn."

Now it's a boy, she might have to go with the male versions, Ofrehabanotherstint.

Assuming it is a boy, and the tabloids aren't just making it all up or guessing or something.

Nobody wants to be in Kylie's pants any more

The Love Kylie range of knickers and bras "designed" in some way by Kylie Minogue has been scrapped, with manufacturer Bras N Things citing poor sales.

Most of the target market were put off the product line when they discovered that she'd only appeared on the packet and hadn't even worn them - "not even slipped in and out of 'em", as one disgruntled customer complained.

To make matters grimmer for Kylie, there are rumours that budget chain Target might be interested in picking up the dropped pants.

Van Halen: There is a cure for cancer

He might never have found an answer to the David Lee Roth problem, but Eddie Van Halen has, apparently, solved the big one: He's got a cure for cancer.

He seemed reluctant to go into details, but insisted that he'd cured his own cancer with the treatment.

Ellie Maggins, who manages the Cancer Research Shop on the High Street on Wednesdays and Thursdays, was pleased to hear the news, although she did admit that Van Halen's cancer cure did leave her with a problem in the shape of a shop full of second hand shoes and Bert Kampfert records she'd been intending to sell to help fund a search for the cure. "I suppose we could try and do that skin-falling off disease instead" she said, "or maybe drug addicts instead?"

Aeroplane boy attacks snappers

We've been suggesting for years that Jay Kay should be arrested, and, perhaps, put on some sort of show trial, but every letter we send to the Prime Minister comes back marked "not known at this address."

However, when he attacks a couple of a paparazzi photographers, then the police swing into action.

The scrap took place outside a nightclub in the West End of London's West End. Some people saw:

"He was out of control, really lairy," said an onlooker. "He clearly had too much to drink and just wouldn't stop."

What makes the arrest even more amusing is that although Jay thought the photographers were waiting for him, they were actually - seriously - waiting for Lindsay Lohan to leave the same nightclub. The photographers he hit probably didn't even know who he was.

Belgian singer "cracked beers" as planes hit

Daan Stuyven, singer with Belgian acts Daan and Dead Man Ray, better not be planning any trips to the US anytime soon, following an interview he apparently gave to De Standard newspaper yesterday:

"When the first plane hit the WTC tower I thought ' finally!' and got some beer (...) the Americans got what they deserved."

Never a good time to suggest the deaths of thousands of people in a horrible way are "deserved"; to suggest so on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks suggests a tiresome desire to shock outweighing a person's better judgement.

e before i?

It's taken them a long while, but eMusic has finally launched in Europe. In the US, emusic's use of the mp3 format and DRM-free files has seen it grow into the number two online music retailer behind iTunes; it's hoped the subscription-based (but permanently owned) system will prove as attractive on this side of the Atlantic.

Hall expands to take Zeppelin

The curiously pointless UK Rock and Roll of Fame - invented two years ago to fill a gap in the Channel 4 schedules - has announced the people being added to its, erm, famous hall for 2006.

Going inside are Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Brian Wilson, Dusty Springfield and George Martin. George Martin's prize will be a special one for knowing the most stories about how, if the Beatles did take hard drugs, they never did so in front of him.

Brian Wilson is going to perform at them, um, enhallening (or is it enhallation); Dusty Springfield will be represented by Joss Stone and Patti LaBelle doing her songs. Which is quite an honour, apart from the Joss Stone bit.

Ikea for guineas

Ever wondered what happened to Bruno Brookes?

Okay, that was unlikely. But if you did, you'll be delighted to hear that he's just signed a deal making his radio station for Ikea permanent.

It plays exactly the sort of music you'd expect to be hearing while slowly ingesting enormous levels of mdf-dust and looking at displays of products they almost certainly will be out of stock of by the time you complete the long march to the warehouse section.

Maybe she got bored with it... maybe it was Maybelline

Ah, so that's what the years of festering resentement and the stench of loathing which the Sugababes were known for was all about: unreturned lipgloss, reveals Mutya:

"We'd steal each other's clothes, make-up, you name it, just before we went on stage. We got pissed off with each other if we never got them back, though."

Now, though, Mutya Buena is concentrating on her solo career - we imagine that it calls for concentration, like threading a needle: getting something soft and ill-defined through a tiny, tiny window:

"Working with George Michael was the best thing that's happened since going solo."

Things can't be going well, then. Andrew Ridgeley's career also lists "working with George Michael" as its highspot, and have you ever met anyone who bought Son of Albert?

Still, it was fun for Mutya:

"I was star-struck after collaborating with him but he was so lovely. He invited me to his house party but I couldn't go because my dog went missing that day."

That's terrible - George in a house, making small-talk to record industry people; Mutya traipsing round a park peering into bushes hoping to see a bright pair of eyes and hear some panting, and both thinking the other had got the sweeter end of the deal.

Christina says its OK to be gay

The Pope has announced that he's rethinking the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality after the announcement from Christina Aguilera that it's okay to be gay. Several homosexuals, meanwhile, have announced their intnetion to rethink their position on Aguilera:

"My trainer married her girlfriend last weekend and me and Jordan went. It was beautiful. I was so touched by their vows to each other. I totally cried.

"I never get people who think being gay is some kind of choice. It just saddens me."

... hold up a moment, there, Christina - wipe your totally crying eyes. Do we understand that what you've effectively said is just a rephrase of the old, patronising "they can't help it, the poor dears" attitude? And if you're saddened by people who think that being gay is a choice, what do you feel about bisexual people who do choose a same-sex partner?

Or is that, in your rush to make the world's gays feel better about themselves by giving them your blessing, you haven't really thought things through?

Saints to try us

Elvis' suspicion in the comments yesterday that the tabloid story about All Saints refusing to fly to Havana might have been a PR stunt (albeit a rubbish one) looks a little more acute this morning as the same column - The Sun's bizarre - has got "exclusive" pictures from the videoshoot.

Interestingly, the band have chosen to theme their big comeback around a bank robbery - which was, if memory serves, also the theme of Honest, the film which kick-started their trip down the dumper.

Liam is a headcase. He goes to see a shrink.

Okay, maybe he isn't. But apparently he's become top mates with Erkan Mustafa, best known for spending a portion of the 1980s as a kind of pointless-cruelty magnet as Roland Browning in Grange Hill, before, of course, he moved into the Sixth Form, and discovered that merely wearing jeans to school was the answer.

There's a source on hand to explain this coupling, this meeting of minds:

“Erkan is a DJ. He met Liam in a studio and they really hit it off. They’ve been out for beers.”

Reports that Noel has been trying to get David Platt's phone number cannot be confirmed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Lips closed down

Also suffering at the weekend were the Flaming Lips, one of the headliners at an attempt to transplant the V festival to Canada. Due to a series of sloppy timekeepers, the Lips had just less than thirty minutes left to play before the festival's 11pm curfew.

Waste of Paint's blog is pretty good on some of the frustrations of the organisation of the event - Kid Koala was cut short to try and make up some of the time, but Gnarls Barkley were given a full hour, with the clock not starting until the end of their somewhat protracted setting-up. The end result was the headline band not getting to start until 10.40, which seems to be extraordinary.

The second day seemed to run more smoothly, with The Strokes at least able to play a full headline set, and it seems to have been enough of a moneyspinner ("success") to please one attendee:

Virgin chief Richard Branson, meanwhile, appeared on stage promising that the festival will return to Toronto next year, while organizers also discussed the possibility of adding a leg in Montreal copying the Stafford and Chelmsford set up of the UK original.

So, as if it wasn't bad enough that all over the world we munch the same burgers, drink the same beers, watch the same TV and whack off to the same porn, we're now going to start to get a homogenised festival experience as well. Because if V has a North American leg, then it's clear that Glasto and/or Reading, with their American parent company, will have to compete. We expect they'll fly genuine Somerset cowpats in so Glasto-in-Wichita-Falls is the real deal.

Tool bottled off

Trouble for Tool, who turned in a substandard performance at the Phoenix Cricket Pavilion (that's sponsored by Cricket, it's not like they were playing underneath a scoreboard at the edge of the wicket). Maynard Keenan was apparently suffering a "cold" and the band was forced to cut its set short; the crowd had already expressed is disapproval by means of a well-aimed bottle which hit Keenan square on the head during the second song of the evening.

Keenan slunk off stage, eventually returning with a witty "thanks for throwing the bottle - great way to express yourself."

Is it just us, or is a big screaming rock band unsettled by a bottle and a headcold not really living up to its image?

Lights, cameras, Meighan

There's some alarm in the Kasabian camp at the moment, because they're afraid Tom Meighan is about to head off to Hollywood. ContactMusic reports it like he's only a signature away from replacing Tom Cruise at Paramount, but reading more closely, it doesn't seem quite so likely:

"I fear Hollywood will take Tom away. He looks imperial. There's been talk of him doing a film - he's had offers.

"He's good at learning lyrics so remembering lines wouldn't be a problem. He'd be like Bowie in LABYRINTH. He's a lunatic."

Hmmm. So on the basis of some knobbing around in a pop video, there has been some talk of him possibly getting a bit in a film. Like Bowie in Labyrinth? We think more like Bowie in Fire Walk With Me, to be honest.


The world is a slightly better place this evening: Greg Dulli is working once more with the Afghan Whigs. They're currently in rehearsal, with a view to recording the now-demanded-by-law two new tracks for a career-gathering best of album, Unbreakable. But hopefully, the process of writing and recording will persuade them to do, you know, more stuff.

Although then the career-spanning retrospective won't span the career any more.

The RIAA turn out to have no evidence

If you've been following the court cases the RIAA have been launching against individuals, you'll remember they start out by saying "we have evdience that you have been stealing our music, if you don't settle, we'll take you to court."

People tend to be scared by this, and pay up.

Not so Mr. Wilke. He has asked for a court to provide a summary judgement, on the grounds that he's not the person the RIAA seem to think he is, he's never had one set of the songs on his computer, and the second set of songs he did have, but because he'd ripped them from his own CD collection.

The RIAA has filed a motion for "expedited recovery" to allow it to gather evidence.

Gather evidence?

Yes, that's right - although the RIAA sent a letter to Mr. Wilkes claiming to have proof that he'd been illegally downloading evidence, when given a chance to provide it to the court, they have to ask for time to start looking for that evidence:

"Plaintiffs cannot at this time, without an opportunity for
full discovery present by affidavit facts essential to justify their opposition to Defendant's motion"

It's not known if all the lawyers in the music industry turn up packed into one car, which then falls apart as they emerge from it, but there is something of the comedy outsize shoe about these proceedings. Once again, the RIAA has been caught launching speculative court cases without any proper evidence to back them up, in the hope that those they target will just cave in and pay up. We're sure this is totally different from blackmail in lots of ways.

No Rock post 15,001: Oasis announce their tracklisting

After not very much speculation, Oasis have finally announced the tracklist for When We Was Fab (sorry, "Stop The Clocks"). Oddly, there's no room for the Hindu Times:

Rock N Roll Star
Some Might Say
Talk Tonight
The Importance Of Being Idle
Slide Away
Cigarettes & Alcohol
The Masterplan
Live Forever
Half The World Away
Go Let It Out
Morning Glory
Champagne Supernova
Dont Look Back In Anger

They have put a fair few of their clunkers in there, though (Songbird! Bloody hell!) but then you have to fill out the album's length, I guess.

Not Nelly's belly

Surprisingly, Nelly Furtardo's recent front-page glossy monthly cover was less revealing than you might have imagined: she reckons the bits on display were someone else's:

"I was the girl who'd said no to all that sexy stuff. So when I was handed a men's magazine with a picture of me half-naked on the cover, I felt completely shocked, then I just went crazy.

"The magazine had used a set of photographs of me in which I was fully clothed and superimposed someone else's midriff overmine to make it look as though I had hardly any clothes on. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to make them stop the magazine. Of course, it was too late."

Interesting that Nelly doesn't appear to have image approval - you would have thought someone with as many record company handlers would have had to have signed off any image used. And why would it have been "too late" to make them stop it? If it was that upsetting for you, the fact the magazine was misrepresenting you - indeed, passing off someone else's belly as yours - would have been grounds for insisting they withdraw the issue and pulp it. A message all magazines would have taken to heart.

It's almost as if you're trying to build a sexy image for the lad's mags and keep a demure one for other markets, Nelly.