Saturday, October 14, 2006

Usher out

Usher's Broadway debut has proven to be an "oh, it's not so easy" moment, with him quitting the cast of Chicago early, claiming a bad throat. He's sorry, though:

Usher's manager, Jonnetta Patton, said he had enjoyed his time in the show.

"Usher has had an amazing time on Broadway and loved every minute of performing on stage with the entire cast of Chicago," she said.

"He expresses his sincere apologies to all of his fans who purchased tickets to see him in Chicago this final week and appreciates all of their love and support," added Ms Patton.

Luckily, most people go to see Chicago to see whoever's wearing the fishnets, so there's not that many people going to be disappointed. And a lot of the Broadway audience couldn't tell Usher from Understudy anyway.

Soon, it'll be like Gareth Gates never died

American lives never have second acts, they reckon; sadly, British lives too often have a brief interval, and continue to chunter on. So it is that Gareth Gates has decided to not let the brief pop career he won on a television game show fade with dignity, but, instead, is mounting a comeback, complete with an ITV documentary recording the return.

Gates said: "The past five years have been a rollercoaster. I hope this gives people a chance to see the real me."

As opposed, of course, to the fake him - although wasn't the reason he beat out Will Young was because of his open and honest account of himself and his stutter? What does Gareth have left to unpackage?

ITV, of course, knows something about once having been king of the garden and losing its edge.

An ITV1 spokesman said: "This prime-time footage will show the impacts and consequences that fame thrusts upon artists hoping to survive successfully within the pressures of the music industry, and will also showcase some of Gareth's new music as he prepares to re-launch back into the spotlight to do what he loves most."

Hmmm. To be worth showing at prime time, presumably there's going to be a fair level of stuff about how terrible Gareth's life has been. There might be some sort of ethical question about a TV channel suddenly thrusting fame on someone, leaving them to drown in it, and then making a programme about that drowning, but we'd imagine the bloke who does the ethics has gone the way of regional political programming on ITV.

RIAA try to drop case without evidence

Last month, faced with a request for summary judgement in one of their cases, the RIAA suddenly announced they had no evidence and asked for longer.

Now, they've dropped the case altogether.

Which seems to be an admission they'd had nothing in the first place, and further reinforces the impression that these RIAA "lawsuits" are little more than speculative bids, sending out legal letters with threats of enormous damages in the hope people will settle for smaller amounts rather than calling their bluff. The crucial question, of course, is why they're being able to abuse process this way without anyone calling them to account?

Borrell bother

Getting prizes doesn't suit some people well: Razorlight's response to winning a live music award was for Johnny Borrell and drummer Andy Burrows to have a fight.

An onlooker saw it all, or claimed to, or said he did:

"Everyone was on a high and were keen to get the party properly started at the local boozer," says an onlooker. "Andy was already quite merry by the time he got to the pub and Johnny quickly got into the spirit of things, too, by jumping behind the bar and pulling pints.

"But, all of a sudden, the pair came to blows in front of everyone.

"It wasn't clear why it kicked off but when it all died down, Johnny and Andy were no longer on speaking terms and the party quickly broke up."

Are we alone in getting the impression that Borrell views the band as more of a backing group to his solo project?

Madonna might have a problem

Of course, it's more than possible that the problems which are starting to multiply round Madonna's purchase of a Malawian not-quite-orphan will provide her with a handy backdoor to abandon the plan, getting the photo-op without having to deal with the downside of ripping a kid away from his extended family and plunging him into a gilded life of perpetually being prodded as 'Madonna's funtime African project kid'.

Or maybe it'll be a terrible blow to her as she tries to promote the new single and Christmas album sales.

British based adoption charities have questioned the speed of the "adoption", while Malwian charity Eye of the Child have announced they intend to take legal action to ensure that Madonna is made to complete the same adoption process as everyone else:

A spokesman said: "It's not like selling property. It is about safeguarding the future of a human being who, because of age, cannot express an opinion."

Officials in Malawi have indicated they'd normally expect someone to live in the country for up to two years before they'd consider them for adoption, but have made a special arrangement in Madonna's case. It's not clear if this special status is because she's rich, or because she's famous.

Madonna's mouth-person Liz Rosenberg seems convinced it's a done deal:

"Madonna and Guy have been granted custody of their son David. Final legal arrangements are being made to bring him home to his new family."

Mind you, it was only a week ago that Liz was denying any plans to adopt at all, so she's clearly being kept out the loop.

Global warming? What global warming?

Lovely that while we're all trying to avoid turning lights on in the hope it might somehow save Norfolk from being inundated, Beyonce and Jay-Z are so rubbish at packing for a fortnight's holiday, they wound up taking a spare plane full of suitcases to South Africa.

A source said: “The trip only lasts two weeks but it looked like they were emigrating.

“The airline were accommodating with their allowance but the check-in desk said that regardless of how much they could afford, there simply wasn’t enough room.

“Luckily, Jay-Z and Beyonce aren’t short of a bob and coughed up to charter a separate plane.”

That's lucky. If they're that bloody rich, couldn't they just have bought some new pants in Africa?

The market changes

The usual harrumphing as the record industry unveils its six month sales: £7.4bn. A casual observer might assume that a business that is supposedly in such poor health that it's become the tail wagging the World Trade Organisation dog shouldn't be complaining if its doing that sort of business, but when did you ever hear a man in a suit do anything other than bemoan their lot?

Of course, the argument about piracy is waved as an explanation for the slight fall in the value of the sales, but at least the IFPI has the good grace to admit that "competition" has played a part - CDs are getting more realistically priced, downloads tend to be cheaper than physical product (although not by enough, yet) - and, with the US industry having maintained prices through illegal activity in the price, the drop in costs of consumer sales has been quite marked.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said that while it did not have exact figures to compare, both album and single sales had shown a slight rise in 2006 from last year.

The global figures cover wide national variations with those countries seeing a rise, such as Japan (12%), South Korea (5%) and Australia (6%), balanced by many seeing a fall, including Germany (-4%), the US (-7%) and France (-9%).

The music industry is doing pretty well, in other words. Will they now stop pleading for special treatment?

(Clue: No.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Uhm... that's naughty

Uhm Jung-hwaSouth Korea is having its own recreation of Janet Jackson's Superbowl storm, an outrage to those who wish to be outraged that still casts a shadow over the US today.

Uhm Jung-hwa performed a comeback gig to help launch a new TV network. Her track of choice was called Cum2Me; her outfit sent out a similar message, thundred the local press and bloggers:

On Monday, Uhm appeared at the gymnastics arena in Seoul Olympic Park in fishnet stockings and hotpants that were indistinguishable from a pair of knickers

“Some may say that ‘cum’ is just short for ‘come’, but the word ‘cum’ has long been slang for ‘ejaculate’ or ‘to have an orgasm,’” one earnest Netizen explained. “In the end it is clear that this is correctly to be seen as an attention-grabbing move.” Others called the performance “gross” and suggested it would be sexier if Uhm covered up.

Of course, if she took to the streets of a British city wearing her stage clothes, she'd be considered somewhat overdressed.

Meanwhile, the TV network reaches for an unfortunate moral exemplar:

“We see it as an artistic performance, not a lewd act. As the level of exposure is similar to a Madonna music video, there shouldn’t be any problem.”

Here's a hint: If you're trying to suggest it's harmless, you might do better than choose an artist whose habitual shockcore schtick is aimed straight at making the moral right's temple veins throb.

The all-you-can-e Buffet

We're not quite sure how we managed to miss last week's reports that Jimmy Buffet was detained at Toulon-Hyeres International Airport in France; it's claimed he had 100 ecstasy tablets in his luggage.

Buffett was happy to pay a $300 fine and leave. Mind you, with that much E, you'd be happy to do anything.

Old man of Arran prepares to go around and around again

Nik Kershaw is brushing down his snoods and preparing to tramp along the comeback trail, according to, erm the bloke who's done his website:

Neil said working with Nik was a pleasure and that he could not be further from the preening, prima donna pop star stereotype.

"He's just a nice, down to earth guy who cuts the grass and cleans the pump in the pond like everyone else.

"He's definitely not a 'star'. He's just a normal person who happens to make music for a living."

We're not sure if "he cleans the pump in the pond" is a euphemism or not, but we would suggest the reason why Nik doesn't behave like a big hotshot pop star would be something to do with his entry in the the Guiness Book of Hit Singles petering out sometime during the mid-1980s.

Although, to be fair, he did make a record, and it did make him famous, yeah, it made him a star. And he was super fab and groovy, and eyewitnesses reported that he strutted and crowed, but that you never knew where you were with him.

Or what that Howard Jones?

Daltrey follows in Federline's footsteps

Surely a guest slot on CSI is now less of an honour, what with Kevin Federline having managed to make it over the bar required?

Roger Daltrey isn't bothered, though, as he's going to turn up in a "surprise" role later this season.

A "surprise" role translates, we guess, as "having never seen him act, we're holding off how much we'll give him to say until we can tell if he can string a word together or if he's a little Chegwin."

Del Amitri singer a fugitive from justice

You wouldn't have thought that, would you? But a warrant has been issued for Justin Currie's arrest. Currie was supposed to appear in court yesterday to answer a speeding charge.

He didn't show, so now could be dragged to court against his will.

And he reckons nothing ever happens.

Bookmarks: Some other stuff to read

Observer Music Magazine solicts scary songs on behalf of Jarvis Cocker: "Somewhere around the age of eight or nine, I was watching the then-popular kids' television show, Crackerjack, when an animated interlude featuring a rabbit singing 'The Great Pretender' came on. For some unknown reason, the sight of this stop-motion beast singing frightened the life out of me - so much so that I couldn't sleep and had to confess my fear to my Grandma, who was babysitting that particular evening."

Chromewaves suggests a scale for measuring Yo La Tengo gigs: The best way to gauge a Yo La Tengo performance is by how they pull off "Blue Line Swinger"

The Rocking Vicar resurrects Reg "Reg" Snipton's oft-celebrated career: Reg acquired his nickname "Reg" while entertaining oil refinery workers in the Middle East in the late 1980s

Guardian Newsblog ponders White Van Man's love of Freddie Mercury, drawing accusations of kneejerky-steroetypeyness: alternative possibilities...
Drivers aren't homophobic; The song isn't gay and is 'generally regarded' as such only in the Guardian offices;

Stylus magazine reviews Queer Noises 1961-1978: From the Closet to the Charts: Things begin to come unstuck once we reach the early 1970s, as represented by a motley bunch of bargain-basement obscurities whose lengthy absence from view cannot solely be accredited to homophobic attitudes in the dominant host culture.

Girl With A One Track Mind declares lust... for Maximo Park's Paul Smith: ...leaves me certain he has no underwear on...

The Smoking Gun publishes The Killer's rider

Last bookmarks
Bookmarks before that
Bookmarks before that

Islam rules

If you were invited to nominate who the UK's most successful songwriter of the last twelve months is, it's possible you'd overlook Yusuf Islam, or Cat Stevens as was. But, according to ASCAP, his back catalogue is making enough for him to take the crown.

Indeed, if he carries on racking up cash at this rate, he'll be able to launch his own airline and stop worrying about the no-fly list.

The Nescafe Chart Show rises again

Another part of the Smash Hits empire has gone, with EMAP radio stations quietly dropping their SH-branded chart and returning to the only-other chart that counts, the Hit40UK.

The chart - nee Pepsi and Nescafe Chart - also gets a new presenter in the form of former XFM presenter Lucio, who senses victory over Radio One's JK and Joel:

"I'm fully confident that within just three to six months, the new show that we are putting together will be the most listened to chart show in the country.

"The dismal, bland and cheesy excuse for a chart that Radio 1 broadcast will really be no contest for us."

At the same time, the long-promised Fresh40 urban chart will, erm, move a little closer to launch - although there's not much hurry, it seems.

We apologise in advance for the following mental image

Tim Rice-Oxley, enthusing over goodie bag gifts:

"The best were a spanking paddle, blindfold and nipple plumping cream."

Yeah. If only they gave you a girl to go with them, eh?

Even without an expensive drug habit, Carl is broke

Spare some change, guv, for Carl Barat:

"We've got this big profile and we're seen everywhere but we don't sell any fucking records."

Go on... it's an act of charity. Buying just one album will ensure the band can eat. Buying two will provide them with enough to get a simple room for a week. Buy ten albums, and they'll all have their teeth fixed.

Oliver Reed, George Best and Amy Winehouse

We can't help but wondering if someone is overplaying the story of Amy Winehouse's "relaxed" appearance at the taping of the Charlotte Church show. After all, how else can you hope to try and ensure an audience for the slightly dull pairing of Winehouse and Keith Allen unless you hold out the prospect of one of them being a bit the worse for wear:

Amy began slurring her words and stumbling through a short piece to camera. "Amy was having real trouble reading the autocue and it soon became clear that something was seriously up," our studio spy tells us. "It was a bit of a car-crash moment.

"She was also shoving her head into camera shots with other guests and didn't seem to have a clue what was going on."

But things got even worse when Amy was asked to duet with Charlotte for the show's finale. "The plan was to do Michael Jackson's Beat It but Amy kept forgetting the words," says our insider.

"In the end, they had to do three takes. Charlotte was a real pro but even her patience was wearing thin."

Not a whole three takes? Goodness, that must have felt like an eternity.

Blunt and plain talking

Very, very plain talking from James Blunt, in fact. It turns out he's as dull as talking as he is singing:

“I’ve definitely suffered from the backlash thing, but I’ve also had a huge amount of along the way.

“I know if you put your head above the parapet you should expect to get shot at in some way.

“It’s the way it is sometimes. Of course I’ve given it some thought but I haven’t lost any sleep over it."

We are impressed than any journalist managed to capture those words - they must have sounded like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoon.

What we don't understand, though, is how Blunt thinks making dull, created-for-New-Woman-compilations plodding tunes is "sticking your head above the parapet" - it's not like he's making pronouncements on the socio-political situation, is it? There's hardly any risk in putting out a musically conservative track with lyrics about how beautiful someone is.

Liam takes on the missus

As if the Oasis-U2 battle wasn't "exciting" enough, now it looks like All Saints are releasing their comeback album on the same day.

The Sun is reporting this as some sort of clash which will cause domestic strife between Liam Gallagher and his partner Nicole Appleton, although unless Oasis are trying to reach number 7 or All Saints are a lot more important than you'd imagine, it's not like they're battling for the same chart placing, is it?

Dan Toploader: I'm unreasonable, but not depressing and not paying

Gail Porter's marriage to Dan Hipgrave out of Toploader is over. In court, Hipgrave accepted the marriage had collapsed due to his unreasonable beahviour, but denied the particulars of the claim. Porter had told the High Court:

“I suffer from stress and depression and this has been aggravated by the respondent’s behaviour.”

Hipgrave also refused to pay costs, but since Toploader aren't exactly all the rage right now, maybe that's understandable.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Brett Anderson singing between Tears

It's apparently as well as, rather instead of, The Tears, as Brett Anderson prepares his first solo album:

if this endless waiting is frustrating for you ,imagine what it is like for me. i would dearly love to put the record out tomorrow but i know it wouldn't be the right thing to do. i am having trouble staying sane during this period to be honest so please don't imagine i have ever drifted or that i am anything than 1000 % committed. we're trying to carefully lay the right foundations to support and devellop my work so that i can make albums 2, 3 and beyond so please have patience and faith and know that no decisions about anything to do with this are taken lightly.

We're not sure what these decisions are - "can I get away with another song with the word 'gasolene' in it?", probably - but we wish him well.

Plug: Brett slapping his arse in DVD clarity

George's fit at the Butcher dog

You wouldn't expect Boy George - left out of a resurrected Culture Club - to be that thrilled by his replacement. Even if Sam Butcher had been any good, he'd have felt the rough side of George's tongue. And Sam isn't all that good, so Boy isn't kind:

"They're my gay love songs about my boyfriend. He can't sing them, can he?

"To me, the mark of a good band is when someone else can't successfully sing their songs, and he can't sing my songs."

Well, actually, maybe George is being kind. Suggesting it's not Sam's fault he's crap, he's just been dealt a tough act to follow is perhaps generous, especially since anyone who puts their mind to it - from Ronnie Corbett to the Greek woman in The Chain - has been able to put in a successful performance on Culture Club songs.

Butcher, meanwhile, takes the swipe as his blooding:

"I wish George well with his new solo career. I am hurt by George's comments but realises George says terrible things about everybody, including Madonna.

"I am just starting my career so it seems rather cruel to take pot shots at me. Maybe Boy George should keep it for the big boys like Madonna and George Michael."

It's a little rich to be caught slipping on someone's shoes and then complaining when they pinch your feet, isn't it?

Jar-vest Festival

Jarvis Cocker has been blogging about the time of year:

When exactly does mellow fruitfulness turn into irreversible decay? Dunno - but isn't it time to go & take a tin of cling peaches & some corned beef round to a local pensioner's house? Share the bounty of the harvest. All together: "We plough the fields & scatter...."

Old people in Sheffield have been leaving their doors open in hope.

Kevin tries to thin out the competition

If you were married to Britney Spears, you'd probably be a little jumpy; especially if you married her after she'd copped off with you backstage.

So it's not surprise that Kevin Federline has been trying to get her to drop male dancers who were supposed to be appearing with her in a video.

Matt Felker and all the other blokes were paid off:

In Touch Weekly [...] reports that her hubby “insisted that Britney fire Matt and all of the other male dancers she’d hired and replace them with females.”

Kevin clearly thinks he's so sweet, he's better than any type of lesbianism you can imagine.

Two cheers for Boy George

Boy George was heckled by homophobic idiots at the Vodafone event last night, and he gave as good as he got:

George screamed: "I know I'm a queer. Shut your mouth 'til I knock you out."

But when they refused to stop, the 45-year-old flipped his lid, flung his drink at the wall and headed towards some glass doors where the kids stood outside.

Begged by his PR to come away, George swore at the ringleader and called him a chav. He then returned to the press pack and claimed he was "calm", adding: "Otherwise they'd be dead."

Good to see George standing up for what's right; slightly less impressive that he resorts to middle-class name-calling when doing so.

Different awards; same winners

While we're sure the Roundhouse is a great venue to actually be in, on television last night for the Vodafone live music awards it looked bloody awful - it was like the awards were being handed out in the wings rather than at the heart of things. The whole thing was shaky enough without making it seem like the prizes were being tossed through the tradesman's entrance.

And if the idea was to try and find a framework in which different acts could be given recogntition, that flopped too. Same bands who win all the prizes all the time:

* Vodafone Live Act: Muse
* International Live Act: U2
* Tour of the Year: The NME Awards Tour
* Vodafone Live Impact in 2006: Razorlight
* The Freddie Mercury Lifetime Achievement in Live Music: The Who
* Best Live Return: Take That
* Best Show Production: Gorillaz
* Best Tour Roadie: Fatty (Primal Scream)
* Best Live Music DVD: Razorlight
* Best Live Music Venue: Carling Academy, Brixton
* Xfm Live Breakthrough Act: The Automatic
* C4 Festival of the Year 2006: Reading/Leeds
* Kerrang! Live Unsigned Act: New Rhodes

Apart, possibly, from Fatty, that line-up will be having to shuffle Brits, Brats and Grammies out the way to make room for their new gongs.

Sarah Harding prepares for the future

The bitterness of the passed over seems to have focused Sarah Harding's mind on what her post-Girls Aloud future might hold; hence, she's lined up a small role in a forthcoming British movie.

Runners With Cars is going to star Donna Air, who had a half-go at being a pop star herself in the mighty Krush. She's being doing alright-ish for herself since that went the wrong way up, hasn't she? There's always demand for presenters on ITV2.

The pain of the recently forgotten

Having built up their band the hard way - stage school and then closed auditions - you'd imagine that All Saints might be a little grumpy viewing the ease with which Girls Aloud came together.

More than a little:

Chatting to MTV's Tim Kash, MELANIE BLATT sarcastically said: "What Cheryl said is so true... because Jump For My Love is so where I wanna be.

"We could only aspire and dream to be like them. Hopefully one day we will achieve that. For now we will just have to make do with copying them."

SHAZNAY LEWIS then took a more serious tone, blasting: "In all honesty they are stupid little girls and we don't really give a fuck. That's the end of that."

With Nicole Appleton clapping in agreement, Shaz continued: "I don't want to talk about them anymore because I've got no respect for them..

"I don't want to waste any of my interview time talking about them."

They then continued to waste their time talking about them:

"We all have vaginas. That's about as similar as it gets."

Although we think we spotted Mel shifting awkwardly at this point.

We're sure the irony hasn't been lost on All Saints that the only thing people are interested in is their relationship with Girls Aloud, which is why that's all they're being asked about in interviews. Even although they've got more in common with Atomic Kitten.

Rod snapped

While I'm sure the news that Rod Stewart has decided he's going to stop producing heirs - just one more, he promises - I could have done without waking up to the full vasectomy plans:

“We are going to have one more after we are married next year.

“Then the railroad station will be closed permanently with no ingoing or outgoing traffic.

“After that, I expect I’ll line up for the big snip. My snip day might be declared a national holiday and even be televised.”

The thought of Rod's bits bobbing about on a twenty-six inch screen - covered in blood or not - almost makes us glad Sky have screwed up our digibox.

Walks like a woman, and talks like... well, a bit like a woman, actually

The real question arising from the photos of Michael Jackson in St Tropez aren't really about how feminine his body shape has become over the past few months, but more who the little girl with him was, and how any self-respecting French girl would have persuaded Jacko to dress like he did, complete with the big old lady hat. C'mon, you're meant to be chic.

Mind you, the Sun only says his companion was believed to be a girl; many passers-by had thought the same about Jackson.

Still, if he's happier living as a woman, that's great for him. And it's nice to see he's dropped the plan of being Diana Ross.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Polly (at the old jo-)anna

Good news: Polly Harvey has headed back into the studio, with the aim of a new album next year. Did we mention she's going to be using piano instead of guitars as the focus?

When contractual obligations clash

In one of those battles you only ever usually see if you travel to the Land That Time Forgot, Oasis and U2 are going to be chucking out their albums of old stuff on the same day. Mark Monday, 21st November in your diary as the day creaking old monsters will fight.

There's also claims that Chinese Democracy will be released the same day, but... we'll not hold our breath for that.

Spongebob and the Dame

Let's hope it's closer to his bit in Extras than his appearance in the Twin Peaks movie: David Bowie is guesting in Spongebob Squarepants:

Bowie said: "We, the family, are thrilled. Nothing else need happen this year, well, this week anyway."

Mr. Squarepants said he'd been holding out for Noddy Holder, but Bowie was cheaper.

NME: Jeux sans frontieres

NME is launching a new edition, aimed at the Irish market (and probably running Hot Press out of town) with to contain dedicated pages focused on the Irish live music scene, with the latest news, features profiles and live reviews from the breaking acts in the country. The magazine will also include the usual UK and international music scene coverage.

Apparently, they've got one staffer to produce the local stuff, and will be topping up with content provided by The Irish Times, The Irish Independent, The Irish Daily Star and The Irish Sun. The Daily Star, eh? Evoking sweet memories of the time the NME news pages were briefly edited by former Daily Star bitch Mel Myers. "Briefly" is the key word here.

Press Gazette claims this is the NME's first jaunt much beyond King's Reach Towers, but that's forgetting, of course, the Russian edition.

NME is also planning on making itself available as a pdf download, so American readers can read the latest news about Pete Doherty before it's been superceded by more news about him.

Jay-Z too blue for red China

Jay-Z had been looking forward to playing a gig in China. Now, though, he's not going to be, as he's been banned.

He's just too rude says thwarted promoter Sun Yun:

"Some of Jay-Z's songs contain too much vulgar language".

The rumours that the Cultural Ministry pulled the date when they found out that Beyonce wasn't coming just aren't true.

"You're my son now, Dave"

The Sun reckons it's got quite a scoop this morning, running pictures of a somewhat unhappy looking child being hauled on Madonna's back. The headline?

Madonna's Ray Of Light: She adopts year-old orphan called Davie

But has she? There's not actually been a formal "adoption" yet. And what about the child? The Sun reports that everyone's happy with the deal:

THE desperately poor father of the African tot being adopted by Madonna last night declared he was “so happy” the child was being whisked into a world of wealth.

Hang about a minute... they spoke to the orphan's father?

Yes, it turns out that he's not an orphan at all, but Madonna has effectively decided to take the child away from his family. Don't worry, though, there'll be visits:

The dad has not met Madonna, who chose Davie during visits to the orphanage where Yohane sent him.

But he was told his son — who he could not afford to bring up — was being adopted by a “famous US musician”.

He said: “I know he will be very happy in America. We are told David will be coming back regularly to know his roots.”

So: she's not had the decency to even ask the kid's father. They've just told him what's happening - and somehow given him the impression that Madonna lives in America rather than England. I suppose it doesn't matter much - Yohane has very little prospect of ever being able to make a trip to see his son wherever he's living.

Darkness falls

He's been straightening himself out and getting shot of his £150,000 cocaine habit - and now Justin Hawkins has quit The Darkness. His new plan, it seems, is to join the ranks of the evangelical recently sober:

“I have to say please avoid getting into it at all costs.

“Let’s not pretend — there are upsides to drugs. It’s a thrill, a bit naughty.

“But you pay a price. You lose a massive chunk of your life — and money.”

"You have to understand that I have always publicly had a very anti-drugs stance — for the right reasons. My family has been affected by heroin in the past. A close family member was addicted.

“That is one of the reasons I found it hard to be open about it. It flew in the face of my moral code and my values.”

Although he had no problem with the actual flying, you'll note:

“I hit absolute rock bottom. I spent over £150,000 on cocaine in three years — a frightening amount. I was consuming up to five grams a day which cost me £1,000 a week, sometimes more.

“I regularly used to stay up for four days at a time on coke and alcohol binges.

“I became secretive, volatile and verbally abusive, a really unpleasant person to be around. There were lots of periods I don’t even remember, blackouts.

“I couldn’t even tell you how much I was drinking — it was all day when we were on tour. My weapon of choice was vodka. It has affected every aspect of my life, with the band and my girlfriend Sue.”

Sean Hamilton is given the job of breaking this news to Sun readers. Sean, it seems, was the last to know:

Despite all my years on the showbiz circuit, Justin’s revelations come as a real shock to me.

I first met the singer before The Darkness were even signed and immediately fell for their refreshing brand of old-school rock.

I’ve followed his career closely since, interviewing him many times. I never saw any signs of his secret snorting.

You interviewed the man and didn't realise how much coke he was on? You're a bit of a loss to the Sunday Times Insight team, aren't you? We're picturing Sean watching Justin descend to stage on a pair of giant tits and it not crossing his mind that just maybe the stage show was being driven by something more than childish enthusiasm.

Perhaps the only surprise in the story is that The Darkness are going to limp on without him, with Richie Edwards (no, the one who replaced Frankie Poullian, not that one) taking over lead vocals. Although since the band pretty much were Hawkins' ego and falsetto, it's not clear why.

And Justin?

“It sounds stupid but I now get a thrill from things like putting on a cashmere cardigan and feeling how soft it is. I never used to notice things like that.'

We think he's heading for an arrest in Debenhams at some point in the future.

Robbie Williams is not afraid to embrace Web 2.0

Curiously, there's no mention that the winner of the make Robbie Williams a video competition will be rewarded on a par with the professional film-makers turning out clips for the other songs on Rudebox, but we're sure it's not just a bid to get a video done on the cheap.

"Just like in music today you can create a masterpiece out of an iBook and some digital footage, as much as you can in a fancy studio," he said.

"That's how The 80s began life itself, in my bedroom in LA with my friend Jerry messing around on my Mac.

"I'm very excited to see what the film-makers can come up with."

That's all it takes - some digital footage and that. Why does nobody actually mention that while you can make any number of great movies in that way, it's not as easy to recreate Spiderman or Lost using a few domestic bits of kit and a bedroom as it is to do a version of Beethoven's Eroica, though, on account of how computers can't quite emulate Kirsten Dunst as easily as they can a flute?

Chapman remains inside

Mark Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon has been told he won't be paroled.

Apparently, it's the "bizarre" nature of his crime which counts against him - presumably, the Attica Jail parole panel had their hand swayed by the old "...and Yoko was stood next to him, unharmed" joke.

"The panel remains concerned about the bizarre nature of this premeditated and violent crime.

"While the panel notes your satisfactory institutional adjustment, due to the extremely violent nature of the offence your release would not be in the best interest of the community."

We think this means he's not actually shot any rock stars while in prison, but they can't be sure he won't go looking for Bono if he's set free.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

AllofMP3: closure or booming?

Although some places are reporting that the IFPI has already embarked upon legal action against Vadim Mamotin and Denis Kvasov, the bosses at AllofMP3, it seems that's not quite the case yet - merely that they want to.

It does seem that Washington is prepared to lock Russia out of the World Trade Organisation WTO unless "something" is done about AllofMP3 - which just suggests what an insane and disproportionate influence the copyright lobby has on Capitol Hill:

Susan Schwab said Wednesday that Russia must shut down the site — which Washington considers to be one of the world's largest sources of pirated music — to get the United States' blessing to enter the world trade body.

"I have a hard time imagining Russia being a member of the WTO with a web site like that operating,'' Schwab told reporters in Washington.

So, the State happily looking the other way while critics of the President are slain? That's not a problem. Police turning up to take names and addresses of Georgians in what some are describing as a new purge? Never mind. Arbitrary arrest and torture in Chechnya? We'll turn a blind eye. Bullying of Ukraine by withholding gas? Not a peep. But woe betide Russia if someone sells a Hootie and the Blowfish track for a few kopeks without permission.

AllofMp3 don't mind too much being singled out like this:

"They are promoting us," Vadim Mamotin, general director of Mediaservices, which operates the site, said Thursday. He said the site was signing up thousands of new clients after the U.S. criticism.

Presumably they're hoping for a phonecall from Google.

U2 find they can leave Island behind

There's gossipy rumours that U2's shift within Universal Music Group from Island to Universal proper has been driven by conflicts between band and executives (or, rather, executives and executives), but Universal rushed to deny this:

A spokesman for Universal has rubbished the rumours though, commenting: "We foster strong relationships at Universal Music. We have the best artists and the best executives and we're proud of how closely they work together."

Which does, then, raise the question of why U2 believe they'd be better off under the Universal banner instead of the Island marque which has served them pretty well for twenty-six years.

Go, La, Tengo...

Yo La Tengo are coming to run the risk of our funny ways and strange tasting tap-water with a mini tour of the UK* (*southern bit only):

November Tue 7 - Cardiff Point
Wed 8 - Gateshead Sage
Thu 9 - Cambridge Junction
Sat 11 - London Forum

They're lovley.

DJ up for grabs

The future's looking shaky for DJ, one of the few surviving dance music magazines. As the sector's survivors look increasingly like polar bears trying to cope in mangrove swamps, Future Publishing have apparently told it if nobody turns up to take the title off its hands, they'll be switching on the lights and unplugging the decks for the very last time.

Lesley Wright DJ Mag’s editor said of the news “Negotiations are already taking place about the sale of the mag and, as far as all DJmag staff are concerned, it’s business as usual,” she added. “We’re all knee deep in our Top 100 DJs issue, the biggest of the year.”

[Without DJ Martian, we'd never have known]

Sharon O, dear

The people who are charged with making Sharon Osbourne's chat show for the now-defunct ITV network are trying to put a brave face on the viewing figures: after all, she did hit two million sometimes. Trouble is, though, the show performed best in its last five minutes, when people switched on early for the news.

Still, there's the hint for the future: make the programmes five minutes long.

A Talkback Thames spokeswoman defended the ratings.

"The Sharon Osbourne Show consistently doubles its audience from its lead-in show and grows throughout the hour and throughout the final minutes."

The Sharon Osbourne show does double the audience from the programme before it. But, erm, that's usually a children's programme.

Are these Peaches any good?

There's much made of Peaches Geldof's independent life as a dj. But is she any good at it, or does she get bookings in the same way that, say, John Merrick would - people come to gawp rather than dance?

What do you think?:

"Peaches started playing pumping electric bass far too early, which sent everyone to the bar. She hasn't got a clue."

3AM broaden their coverage

We're not entirely sure if we should be encouraging the 3AM Girls in their decision to spread their remit from who's been sick on who at China Whites to global and national politics, or if we should be worried that the Korean N-test is considered less crucial than Matt Lucas' wedding.

Anyone got a yacht?

Rod Stewart wants to die in harness, and pledges he'll never stop singing:

"I love it. That's why I don't want to retire. You'll have to push me overboard to get me out of the way."

Since he's reduced to churning out album after album of covers these days, it could be time to persuade him to take a trip on the Lady Ghislaine.

Is Gary Barlow editing the Mirror?

We don't want to sound cyncial or anything, but surely this report from today's Daily Mirror could only have been faxed over by Gary Barlow's people?


A BESOTTED fan breaks down while meeting Take That idol Gary Barlow at a book signing yesterday.

The singer, 35, wrapped his arm round the girl when she began sobbing uncontrollably as he autographed copies of his biography My Take in central London.

Fans queued to meet the singer, who had a string of 90s hits with the recently-reformed boyband including How Deep Is Your Love and Back For Good.

It's not like even a passing journalist would have seen someone snuffling with joy at getting a book signed and thought "well, that's going to push North Korea off the front page, isn't it?"

Preston: My drug hell (of course)

We've had the concerned friends, now we've got Preston talking about his drug "battle". That means Chantelle will turn up in the next week or so giving her angle, we fear.

So, Preston. We understand he's some sort of drug zombie:

“I’m a terrible self-prescriber. My hands shake the whole time, I’m quite twitchy. I’d go to the doctor pleading for pills. And there are other ways of getting them.”

“I’m down to only taking one a day. I’d love to get to the stage where I don’t think about them.”

Well... if you don't want to think about them, you should try taking seven or eight. That'll stop you thinking about pretty much everything. You won't even be able to feel your brain.

Monkeys give live awards a wide berth

The growing feeling that the mobile-phone operator sponsored Live Music Awards, due to be handed out tomorrow, is little more than a damp squib which exists solely to give the sponsors something to sponsor isn't dispelled by the Arctic Monkeys deciding to send the bloke off the album sleeve instead of going themselves:

A source close to the band said: “The boys will always thank Chris for not cashing in on his appearance on the sleeve.

“They reckon he’s the perfect man to pick up their awards in future due to his general couldn’t-care-less attitude.”

We're still trying to work out how you'd "cash-in" on being the bloke off the Arctic Monkey's sleeve - it's not like the chap from the Fatboy Slim album gets invited to open supermarkets, is it?

Streets fighting man

What are the chances, eh? Hardly anyone watched Love Island, but amongst the few viewers was Paul 'Gazza' Gascoigne, who wasn't happy at seeing The Steets' Leo Ihenacho getting it on with his stepdaughter Bianca. Trouble is, Gazza wasn't happy, and now he and Leo are meant to be on The Match together, as these people shift from reality show to reality show. Gazza wants to kill Leo:

The soccer legend launched himself at the terrified singer during a laid-back party for TV reality show The Match — screaming: “You shagged my daughter, I’m going to kill you.”

Gazza, 39 had to be held back by fellow football idol Peter Reid at the bash in Newcastle.

While it's charming to see a Dad fight for the honour of his daughter, you might ask how much virtue there is to protect when she's signed up to take a load of cash for going on a programme which is, effectively, designed to make the mildly famous fuck each other for applause.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Timberlake quits. Eventually.

Because he's tired of people throwing bottles of piss at him, and trying to get his clothes off him, Justin Timberlake has decided to stop making music. At some point in the next ten years.

The message, then, is clear: If you want to hit him with a bottle of wee, or rip his pants off him, you better hurry up.

When he stops being a musician, Timberlake is going to consider becoming a warlock, or maybe a ptarmigan, pending advice from his careers teacher.

Lily Allen naked under the sea

Actually, while the report says Lily Allen "gave the passengers on Eurostar a little strip show on her way to Paris", we suspect it's more likely she changed her dress in the toilets rather than actually in the carriage.

It'd be terrible if you'd not travelled by ferry to avoid feeling queasy and then had to try and stomach Keith Allen's daughter waggling her breasts in your face over your complimentary Independent and bacon roll.

Wham crap?

Could Wham be about to reform for a secret one-off reunion gig - complete with Pepsi and Shirlie (although not, sadly, Dee C Lee)?

We doubt it - especially if it's meant for Christmas, as surely rehearsals would be well under way by now? - but some people seem convinced it's going to happen.

Slayer killed in India

EMI's India wing has recalled all copies of Slayer's latest album Christ Illusion, after protests from local Christians.

The Catholic Secular Forum (no, we're not sure how that works, to be honest) were especially upset by a track called Skeleton Christ:

You'll never touch God's hand
You'll never taste God's breath
Because you'll never see the second coming
It's all a fuckin' mockery
No grasp upon reality
It's mind control for
Compulsory religion and the Skeleton Christ

It's probably not so much the tiresome desire to offend that's upset them, more the rubbish lyrics.

The CSF also sent a complaint to Mumbai's police commissioner saying that the album "will affect the sensibilities of Muslims on the track 'Jihad' and secular Indians who have respect for all faiths."

EMI India marketing manager Kaveri Khullar said in an interview, "We met with the CSF and were apologetic while assuring them that all copies of the album will be pulled out. We have no plans of re-issuing it in any way."

The question here is why they bothered releasing the album in the first place if they wobble as soon as someone complains. Did they not listen to the album before they released it?

Radiobit: Robert Dentith

Kerrang DJ and West Midlands music promoter Robert Dentith has died at the age of 29.

Colleague Loz paid tribute:

"Those of you that knew Rob will understand how radio and unsigned music were his passion and his life. He has worked tirelessly for years on bringing new music to the fore, helping bands where help did not previously exist and to use his favourite quote: ‘provided a voice for the underground’.

"His voice is no longer here but it will live on as the scene continues to flourish as we build upon what he started. My one abiding memory of Rob will always be his enthusiasm for life; his outlook was always positive even in the face of great adversity.

"He was a man whose cup was never half full but truly overflowing and he will be missed by us all."

Robbie Williams is not going to start gouging anyone's eyes out

In what we suspect is a move that might have been firmly steered by the good people at EMI, Robbie Williams album will now not feature the song which claimed his former manager had either ripped him off or wasn't very good.

However, Williams hasn't withdrawn the remarks he made when introducing the song to The Sun, so the matter might still be heading for the courts. And, of course, EMI has no interest in an interview in which it held no interest, so there may be less cooler heads around to suggest compromise.

It's all eyes on Nigel now.

It's all fun on BBC One

Waking up to news of the Korean nuclear tests (is it better that they at least know they work? Isn't it worse to have untested nuclear bombs which might not work proeprly and go off all over the place?) still feels a little brighter than yesterday morning's double bill offered by BBC One.

Sunday AM rounded off with Sting and his lute playing chum (a pair of looters?); as if that wasn't bad enough, the next programme, the Heaven and Earth show built up to a climax of Chris DeBurgh doing his spiritual songs.

Actually, we think they're about God, but then everyone thought Lady In Red was about his wife, didn't they?

Jadakiss caught by cops

Rapper type bloke Jadakiss has - cofounding all the stereotypes - been arrested for white collar crime in the US. Cops swooped as part of an investigation into a fraud featuring letters of credit.

Okay, not really. He's one of a number charged over posession of a stolen gun.

Jadakiss was also charged with posession of cannabis.

Tape worms

Is it really twenty years since NME launched the C86 tape?

Removing shoes and socks shows that, yes, it is.

To mark it there's a two night party and gig type affair at the ICA on the 27th & 28th:

October 27
The Magic Numbers
Gokart Mozart
Vic Godard & The Subway Sect
Saint Etienne (DJ set)
Jeff Barrett (Heavenly Recordings, DJ set)

October 28
Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera)
Phil Wilson (Junebrides)
The Wolfhounds
The Pastels (DJ set)

Of course, there's some sort of irony that twenty years on, they'll laud C86 at the ICA. Chances are Bogshed would never have got past the front door in 1986.

Sheena maintains the Sugar Walls

There's to be no reunion between Sheena Easton and Prince, she's confirmed. Easton has no plans to resume a full career while her kids are at school. Especially with Prince, we'd imagine, as having your Mam sing that sort of song while you're doing double math might be a bit awkward come break time.

Macca security breached

As if having to worry about the woman who got into his house and is attempting to take everything he has wasn't enough, a couple of US tourists have been caught on Paul McCartney's estate in Sussex:

A security expert yesterday said the trespassers had demonstrated just how easy is was to get close to Sir Paul.

Thank god we had someone to explain that to us - there was an implication we'd totally missed.

Of course, it's not like anyone would ever want to harm a Beatle, is it?

Matt Busted's Girl Guides promise

Thankfully, it stopped just short of full-frontal nudity when Girl Guides got carried away at the thought of Matt Willis (once of Busted) playing a solo gig for them, but they nearly had his trousers off him.

Later, Guides explained they weren't trying to get him naked, or that interested in seeing his 1980s pants, just they were making a quilt for starving kids caught in the Madonna tsunami and thought his trousers would make a perfect square.

Kate goes a bit Ono

She's - apparently - had him axe the tour; now Kate Moss is - also apparently - insisting that Pete drops the rest of Babyshambles and go actually solo, rather than just effectively behaving as if he was solo.

Because fewer people tempering Pete's music is what's needed, of course.

No more Baby Bunton

Emma Bunton - once a Spice Girl, now in the "can you dance better than someone from Holby City and the guy who does weekend evenings on News 24" that is Strictly Come Dancing - is about to get married. She's been seeing Jade Jones for eight years.

Yes you do, he was in Damage.

Wikipedia is currently reporting they split up.

Of course, the big question for the papers is: will Posh go?

So Solid business as usual resumed

Finally cleared of murder the other week, Megaman suggested part of the problem that faced him was the So Solid Crew's reputation for being violent. It was a chance for all of us to have a new start.

Then Harvey So Solid gets himself sent off from Sky's The Match after an accidental headbutt - the accident was he was trying to square up to someone else when it happened - following a nasty tackle.

Maybe not, baby

The adoption (or not adoption, or adoption of an entire country) of a Malawian baby by Madonna continues to excite the papers - The Sun claims that Guy's not happy:

The film director fears his wife may just want the child as a celebrity status symbol — and that she has not considered the potential problems of such a move.

Gosh, do you think?

The paper has also spotted that, far from being a replacement obsession for her culty-Kabbalah fun, it's actually of a piece:

The pop star is intent on introducing Kabbalah – the mystical Jewish religion she worships – to the African country’s people.

Gosh, do you think?

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday claimed to have found a children's home in Mphanudla where a team of people arrived, lined up the kids and singled out one, Mpheso Ngulube. The 11 year-old was asked how she'd like to live in a foreign country with a rich lady and be friends with a girl called "Lodess". The kid with nothing was promised the world - "you can be anything you want" - and then... got nothing again.

Liz Rosenburg, by the way, Madonna's mouthpiece has insisted the trip was "private." God help Africa if she ever makes a state visit.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

No, she went of her own accord...

Apparently - if the Sunday Mirror is considered a reliable source in your neck of the woods - Kate Moss has ordered Pete Doherty to axe the Babyshambles live dates, and wants to whisk him off to get married, get pregnant, and get sorted.

A lovely plan. There may, however, be a fatal flaw in her thinking. I wonder if you can spot it:

Now she wants to take Potty Pete to Jamaica to get married and continue his rehabilitation - away from the druggie lifestyle and the rock 'n' roll hangers-on who follow him everywhere.

Jamaica. Yes, get away from the drugs by going to Jamaica. That'll work. It's like trying to escape a fear of the dark by potholing.

Babyshambles pulled a Liverpool date when Pete didn't show up:

EMI were forced to admit: "Babyshambles have made the decision to postpone the remaining five dates of their UK tour. It has become clear that Peter embarked on the arduous and high-profile tour too soon after his discharge and still needs time to recover from his extensive rehab treatment."

The paper, though, reckons he'd completely recovered from rehab to the extent he was spending half a grand on drugs every day. Nice to see the EMI cash being so well spent, isn't it?

Victoria Beckhams hates herself naked

Because the trend has moved on from "my fabulous life" celeb books to "ooh, you won't believe how I suffer" memoirs, Victoria Beckham has started to ramp up how terrible it is to be her:

"I've got so much saggy skin on my stomach and I've got no bum at all. I might fit into jeans but, trust me, I look really awful naked."

We'll take your word for it, Victoria - no, really, we will. Still, on the bright side, you can always hide behind the door if you feel too bad. Even side on.

What we do love, though, is in her strange world, "fitting into jeans" is seen as the upside.

"I'm done with music and I'm never going to act. I was an OK singer and an OK dancer and I had to work at it.

Of course, music might be surprised to hear that she walked out on it, as we seem to recall music dumping Victoria in a rather public way; and then, humiliatingly, releasing a final video of the pair of them together, and some sort of poor po-mo Poe motiff.

But an OK singer? Victoria, you realise that that's virtually self-aggrandisement on a Napoleonic level, don't you?

In the interview Victoria reveals how she has spoken with Holmes' love, Mission Impossible star Cruise, about his Scientology faith.

But she insists the pair were "cool" despite their devotion to the off-kilter sect.

Victoria confesses: "I've spoken to him about Scientology - I'm quite inquisitive - but I don't know anything about it. They do what they do and they're cool."

We know, we know, if she's so inquisitive, how can she have had a conversation about something with someone who keeps banging on about the subject anyway, and still not know anything about it? And how can someone so "inquisitive" think that a cult which splits up families and demands money from its members and was made up as part of a bet be "cool"?

Still, it's unfair to ask her to worry about such details - she is, after all, having to deal with a bit of extra skin.

Paris Hilton blows

Some sneaky-long lens photography of Paris Hilton has caught evidence that there might have been some sort of dope in her handbag; closer inspection revealed that, yes, there was a dope going through the stuff, but it was the bag's owner.

Oh, yes, there looked like there were some drugs in there too.

Jamelia: Hedge clippers or wire cutters?

Beware of how you shoot your mouth off in gossip columns, as those claims will come back to haunt you one day.

On Monday, Jamelia guest-edited the 3AM column in the Mirror, and boasted about how she was so certain she'd not be cheated on by Darren Byfield, she was confident saying she'd chop his balls off if she caught him playing an away fixture.

Today, the News of the World reckons it's got evidence that he'd been turning out for the B-team with "stunning Jaclyn Evans", telling her at the time he'd been offside on two other occasions.

Jaclyn, of course, has gone to the papers more in sorrow than in anger:

"I feel absolutely wretched at what this will do to Jamelia. But Darren's a complete bastard and she has to know the truth about him."

Also, we're sure the money helped with that feeling wretched.

The News of the World also feels terribly, terribly sorry for Jamelia:

This is just the latest pain for star Jamelia who had to overcome an abusive relationship with the father of her first daughter, now five.

It tries to perk her up by adding a photo of her in her knickers to the report, though.

This week just gone

Exciting times on No Rock, as we're now at the slightly easier-to-type - write it on the forehead of a loved one.

This week, the ten most-read pieces were:

1. Robbie Williams' "humble barmaid" "lover" tells all
2. Does KT Tunstall go with ladies, or with men?
3. Heather Mills McCartney naked calendar shoot
4. Heather Mills invited to waggle her breasts to help Purplemelon
5. Kasabian launch attack on emo; emo uninjured
6. McFly bollocks on display
7. Heather Mills sex manual remembered
8. Colin Murray's new Radio One show
9. Courtney flogs Kurt lookalike for coffee table tome
10. Fergie takes off clothes; smears herself in chocolate

You can read the whole sorry week on one page,
or skim the week before in a single post.

And we snuggled up as it got colder with these suggestions:

Some early Depeche Mode gets a buffing and extras

Mercury Rev best of and - tantalising - a whole disc of extra stuff

Cord: a band who don't think being "a bit Sarah records" is an insult

My Morning Jacket's evening performances

Superior 2007 calendar: Mick Rock's Bowie photos

Christmas isn't Christmas without a Bunty annual