Saturday, January 20, 2007

Folkobit: Denny Doherty

The death has been announced of Denny Doherty, Mamas and the Papas songwriter. He was 66.

Doherty was born in Nova Scotia in 1940, and started singing on the Canadian folk scene in his teens. His first serious band, The Halifax Three, managed a deal with Colombia and a minor hit The Man Who Wouldn't Sing Along With Mitch before falling apart. The band's demise left Doherty and Zal Yanovsky broke in New York, from which they were rescued by "Mama" Cass Elliot. Hearing of their plight, she persuaded her management to augment her band, The Big Three by taking on the pair. Further band augmentation led to a name change to Mugwumps, and an untenable financial position. The band fell apart, and Doherty was once more without a visible means of support.

Doherty was thus luckily able to take advantage of the departure of Marhsall Brickman from The New Journeyman, filling the man's shoes for a set of prebooked tour dates. The Journey ended in 1965, but the band reformulated - with Cass Elliot on board - as The Magic Circle. Shortly after signing their first deal, a run of bands with terrible names was topped when they elected to change their name to The Mamas and The Papas, a title so terrible it's still being used for a pram and nappy shop today.

Their debut album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, was something of a triumph, although not uncontroversial - complaints about the sleeve weren't focused on the band, sharing a bath (fully clothed). No, it was the presence of a toilet in the picture that led to charges of indecency. Later versions would cover or crop the offending John.

Behind the can was, in effect, everything the band is known for - vocal harmonies, California Dreamin, The In Crowd, Monday, Monday. If it had the sound of someone choking on a ham sandwich, it would have the lot. Rolling Stone still reckons it to be the 127th best album ever made - doesn't sound much, but there's been a lot of albums released over the years - and its modest sales of half a million disguises quite how central to pop culture the record would become. BBC Four, for example, is calling its season on California the California Dreaming season - it's quite an accolade for your creation to become something of a dead cliche that people can't quite shake off.

Doherty wrecked the band by that old stand-by, having an intra-band affair. His was with Michelle Phillips, with the added complication that her husband, John, was also a Mama and Papa; she ended up kicked out the band and Doherty on the juice. The atmosphere wasn't exactly perfect for making blissed out tunes, and the decision to draft in Jill Gibson (the producer's girlfriend) didn't exactly work out, either. The substitute was paid off, Michelle was brought back, and things got even harder for Doherty to cope with.

A lacklustre performance at the Monterrey Pop Festival and an incident where John slagged Cass off in front of Mick Jagger added to a terrible working relationship; Cass stayed for just as long as the contract forced her to. July 1968, as it turned out.

Elliot and Doherty remained friends, as she enjoyed some solo success and he continued to drink; an offer of marriage from her was turned down. In 1974, Cass died. Her funeral was the first time the band were in the same place without bickering for years.

Doherty had a solo career which was well-reviewed if not especially lucrative. He took the lead in a 1975 Warhol Broadway play, Man On The Moon, and a return to Canada in 1978 saw him presenting Denny's Sho, thirteen half hours of "musical entertainment."

There was a sort-of revival of the band - John Phillips firmly in charge - which featured Doherty in the 80s, although it was more the Daughters and the Papas, featuring Mackenzie, John's offspring. Doherty also produced Dream a Little Dream, a stage show telling the Mamas and Papas story from his perspective.

More recently, he provided the voices for Thomas The Tank Engine wannabe Theodore Tugboat.

Doherty died on January 19th at his home in Ontario. Cause of death was an abdominal aneurysm.

Parlophone buy into Babyshambles

Normally, when bands sign long-rumoured deals, the size of the signing is measured in quids. It's usually a totally made-up figure, and never less than several millions, but it's standard.

Not so Parlophone's decision to take their one ep with Babyshambles to the next level: a full, long-term, public commitment; and one unsullied by talk of money and cash and so on. It's all about the art:

"We're extremely pleased to be welcoming such a vibrant and talented band into the Parlophone label," said managing director Miles Leonard.

Parlophone has cultivated some of the UK's most successful rock acts, including Coldplay and Radiohead.

"We see Babyshambles very much as continuing this tradition," said Leonard.

"They have a great reputation for crafting some of the most exciting music around today, and in Peter Doherty they have one of the best songwriters of his generation."

So, Babyshambles have hooked up with EMI, on the same imprint as Bernard Cribbins used to record for. We're expecting a Best Of (with two new tracks, specially recorded) sometime in late 2009, then. If Pete makes it.

Music is my hot, hot fest

CSS are being added to the already overflowing bucket of delights (Foals, Orange Lights, Nouvelle Vague, Help She Can't Swim, Kubichek, Mumm-Ra, Mr Hudson & The Library, and Ripchord) for this year's Great Escape festival in Brighton.

Meanwhile, the Glastonbury spin-off effect is continuing to spawn new stand-alone microfests from the people who organise various tents and fields in the Mendips: Croissant Neuf Summer Party will take place at a "secret" location in the Welsh borders on August 19th.

A working defintion of turgid: Coldplay bring back Travis

Chris Martin playing a track by Travis. It's only lacking "to an audience with Snow Patrol in it, as a request for James Blunt, and we would be able to use it to put brain surgery patients to sleep.

Even Chris Martin sounded like he was slipping under as he put the track on, during a guest slot on Zane Lowe's show:

"We're gonna finish with an incredible exclusive, we're very privileged to play it, it's a new song by the band Travis, the band that invented my band and lots of others, along with Radiohead... um, as in those two bands invented bands like mine... get to the point... Travis here we go."

The bath leaked quickly... the story took longer

There is, perhaps, little sadder than people who still wreck hotel rooms, seemingly unaware that they're simultaneously enacting a tired old cliche and making life even more miserable for the poor sods who have to clean up after them on the barely-minimum wage.

What's more, if you're a band, and you're staying at the Travelodge, you really don't want to draw attention to that. It's effectively shouting "our record label don't really want to invest very much in us."

So, big applause all round to The View who behaved like oiks at the Liverpool Travelodge. Apparently, drunk and incapable, they put a duvet in a bath and turned the taps on.

It's not just the seven grands worth of damage, as the other guests trying their darnedest to get some sort of rest in the Travelodge who also had their stays disrupted - lets hope there was nobody staying there while they were visiting a dying relative, or before an important job interview, say.

That this happened in November, but hits the papers in the week their album is released, makes it seem almost as if they're proud of themselves and trying to use their tiresome behaviour to flog some records.

And their punishment? Banned from every Travelodge in the land. Which is hardly a punishment at all.

Noel Gallagher likes furry creatures

Who knew that Noel Gallagher would be a big fan of Meerkat Manor?:

“Mostly I sit at home with my daughter Anais watching Meerkat Manor.”

Mind you, a bunch of small, furry creatures which stare into the distance looking for trouble - he probably thinks it's an Oasis docusoap.

[Plug: Buy Meerkat Manor]

Friday, January 19, 2007

EMI announces new team

Having had a terrible Christmas, and indeed, a fairly rotten 2006, EMI axed its top management a couple of weeks ago. It's needed; after all, a record label which really built its hopes for the year on the back of Robbie Williams, Janet Jackson and Keith Urban clearly needs to take a new direction.

Instead, of course, EMI has chosen to promote from within the same team as has been running the ship into the ground.

Thus, Eric Nicoli moves to expand his role. He's been executive chairman of EMI for years; now, he's become CEO. Before he joined EMI, he wasn't entirely without links to the music industry - United Biscuits had owned the Linda McCartney brand name while he was in charge there.

JF Cellion has been promoted from being in charge of Europe to chairman & CEO, EMI Music International. Before Cellion joined EMI, he was with Sega, overseeing the launch of the Dreamcast and pumping twelve million quid into sponsoring Arsenal to promote it. Money, we're sure, well spent.

It's certainly a powerful sounding team.

Celebrity Big Brother: Let's not forget the real victim here

Since we last mentioned Celebrity Big Brother, the story has grown and grown - there was a strange moment last night when you could flick between E4 and BBC One, and Russell Brand and David Dimbleby were both inviting an audience to ask famous faces about the goings on in the house.

David Cameron has pretty much defined his leadership by suggesting that the answer to the complex questions raised by the programme is to "not watch it" - the Tories, of course, have long responded to racism by looking the other way and pretending it isn't happening, so we shouldn't be surprised.

And Gordon Brown, trying to hide his glee that it's helped raise the profile of his visit to India to the front end of the new bulletins, snorts that he prefers the X-Factor.

Gordon likes a programme where the talented usually lose the big prize to someone a bit vapid but who looks good on TV? What can he find to enjoy there?

Very little of the coverage and debate seems able to define itself clearly: are people objecting to the programme, or are they objecting to the behaviour of Goody, that woman out of Zoo and Jo O'Meara? Isn't this the first time that Big Brother has actually done what it told us it wanted to, and really shown us what British society is really like? Channel 4 could argue, should they wish, that the programme isn't endorsing the behaviour and that there is a public interest in showing the way some people might behave when they're not appearing in anti-bullying campaigns. Of course, to do that, the network would have to admit that there's something nasty at the base of the bullying - but then it would have to explain why it hadn't followed the rules of the programme and put a stop to it.

As their careers tank, friends of the three women are popping up all over the media to insist how they haven't got a racist bone in their bodies, and how some of the people they have sometimes seen in the street might be a bit German or something.

A petition on PetitionOnline calls for us to care for the real victim here: Jo O'Meara, apparently:

We have witnessed Jo stand up for Shilpa, but also be dragged into Jade and Danielles bitching conversations, in which she doesnt seem to say anything (to avoid conflict with them) except look as though she is agreeing. She is now being seen as part of this gang by the outside world and this is just not her! The two things in life Jo is most against is racism and bullying. She has suffered herself in her younger years from bullying and would never dream of doing it to another. As for racist, this she is definatly not as some of her own family are of the Indian origin.

We think that the "of the Indian origin" probably says it all, really. We did wonder, though, if the echoes of "how can I hate women? My mother was one" meant this was just some post-modern prank, but the confusion the petition then sinks into suggests it's all done quite seriously:

If BB were fair on their editing of Jo and showed her positive comments, laughter, and entertainment and got rid of Jade Goody and Danielle -to avoid Jo being dragged in to any of their petty little sessions again- we guarantee you WILL see the real genuine Jo.

So... it's not actually that Jo's bullying Shilpa, it's just that she's joining in the bullying sessions because Jade and Danielle are there - only obeying orders, if you like? But then why was she sitting, cackling like one of the Hyenas in the Buffy 'Pack' episode? If she hates bullying so much, why didn't she step in? Why didn't she stop it? Why did she not walk out? Why did she sit there cackling?

The petition also has to try and work out how, if Jo is so at home with "people of the Indian origin", she made the ignorant comment about people in India being thin "because they don't cook their food properly." It tries to explain this:

Lastly, we do not condone the recent comment said by Jo at all, as it was extremely OUT of character for her and she does not seem to realise what she has said and the impact it can have. People close to Jo have admitted it is very unlike her and can see she has been heavily influenced and definatly spoke before thinking.

Aha! She's not racist when she has a chance to think through how her comments will look on television. Doubtless Trevor Phillips will be preparing the job offer right away.

Ditto: from cool to snobbery in a few short months

There's a little of the "what exactly did you expect" when Beth Ditto starts complaining about the audience for their Scissor Sisters support dates:

"I love the Sisters and think we've a lot of common ground, but supporting their tour was a soul-sucking experience. It wasn't gigs, it was 'concerts'.

"Like when you're nine and New Kids On The Block come to town and you camp outside the mall all day to get a ticket.

"The audience were moms wanting chart hits. They've never seen a John Waters movie or heard The Ramones."

But what was she expecting at a big, showy chart band's tour? And isn't there something a little sneery about the "they've never seen a John Waters movie or heard the Ramones" - never mind the "moms" bit, a curious term of abuse for someone who claims to be a feminist. How does she know that the audience didn't contain a large number of Ramones fans? Perhaps they all love Rockaway Beach but went to see a Top 40 group knowing what to expect of such a gig. Pity The Gossip didn't.

Robbie Williams is not walking on toilet paper

It's not often we feel the need to defend Robbie Williams, but this morning's Daily Record seems to have missed his attempt at a joke:

HOME bird Robbie Williams reckons he's like famous recluse Howard Hughes because he goes out so rarely.

The singer moved to the States several years ago but prefers staying in to going out to Hollywood hotspots.

Billionaire playboy Hughes was a mega-rich industrialist and aviator but his life was crippled by obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The tycoon, who died in 1976, would only talk to his second wife by telephone and eventually became a total recluse.

So, is Williams drawing up plans for a wooden aeroplane? Erm, not quite: he was only joking that he'd not been to a party since Christmas:

"I haven't been out. I've been Howard Hughes for the last four weeks.

"This is my big evening."

Unless the Daily Record has some inside knowledge that he has, in fact, actually been Howard Hughes, we suspect he meant this in the way a person in the pub will say "I'm Billy No-mates" if the people he's with go to the bar and the toilet at the same time leaving him on his own for five minutes.

Babylon 0

David Gray is taking part in the celebrations marking 80 years of football commentary, apparently being the only Man United fan free this Saturday.

He'll be on Five Live with Bob Primrose Wilson for the Man U - Arsenal match:

"I have already been briefed about my attire. I have got a huge sheepskin coat - it is beyond those worn by JOHN MOTSON and I will be wearing that."

Hint, David: It's radio. The whole costume thing might be a little bit redundant.

Gene Simmons: Role model

Gene Simmons has had a pop at Ozzy Osbourne for his parenting skills:

"My family is more structured and they behave properly.

"My kids don't take drugs, they're well mannered and properly disciplined and I don't go letting dogs poop on the carpet.

"I'm not a drug addict - in fact I have never been drunk, I don't smoke or have ever taken drugs and never will."

Well, Gene, you might not be addled on drugs but something must have addled you if it's taken you five years to get your review of The Osbournes together. We're waiting to hear what you made of Bet Lynch's brief return to Coronation Street.

Gene also insists that he'd never get married:

"Shannon and I have been happily unmarried for 23 years.

"I lead my life my way. I am the Alpha male and what I say goes.

"The idea of marriage is out of the question."

In other words, he's too tight to spring for rental of the village hall.

But it had Richard E Grant in, and everything

With Victoria Beckham joining Mel B in the general neighbourhood of Hollywood, perhaps the survey claiming Spiceworld is the worst movie ever made is some sort of warning to beguiled casting directors.

Oddly, Spiceworld leads the list ahead of Titanic - which, yes, we thought was rubbish at the time but remember everyone else in the entire bloody world going to see over and over again. Who knew it was so despised? Presumably all those tickets were sold to people who went to spend the entire fourteen hours or however long it was booing quietly.

Grease 2 came third, which reminds us: whatever happened to the supposed new sequel with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John in?

Which, in turn, reminds us: how can Spiceworld be considered the worst film ever in a universe which has Battlefield Earth in it?

Spiceworld: Really, it wasn't that bad...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

ROC on the streets

They released the first new music of the year - a minute into 2007 - and they're in the process of giving away their album over on ROCMUSIC - so what more could Roc do for us?

Oh, yeah - gigs. You'll find them at the Brixton Windmill on February 2nd. Make a diary-shaped note on your calendar.

Ian McCulloch sends his CV to the makers of Grumpy Old Men

An interesting, almost heartbreaking interview with Ian McCulloch in the Independent sees him lurching between overblown Scouse pride and, well, just stupidity. Or, as James McCabe put it, he's "morphing into a cross between Victor Meldrew & that bloke who mutters to himself in the corner of the pub":

I believe in anti-Darwinism - otherwise why are there still monkeys?

I believe I should be in charge of what gets made and what doesn't in the film and music industries. About 90 per cent of music and films - by which I mean the money spent on making them - should be given to charity, because about 90 per cent is rubbish. We could be building a lot of hospitals with that money.

I believe Liverpool Football Club will win a major trophy this season because we usually do.

I believe David Dimbleby should be prime minister. He seems to know what he's on about and he looks more suave than most.

His views on policemen aren't recorded, but by the time he grumbles that you can never tell when shower gel bottles are running out (no, really) you can be pretty sure he's thinking they're looking younger these days.

Turn that rock off, turn that rock off honey

There was a time when it seemed that, such was his determination to embody the rock and roll dream, Bobby Gillespie would end up dying on stage.

Now, though, he likes an early night and bit of quiet. Especially if Antiques Roadshow is on the High Definition. Indeed, he's petitioning to have his local pub turn it down, moaning that the Alma pub has been noisy after midnight:

"There was a live percussionist playing along with the records, the sound was of a very high frequency which reverberated into my bedroom and my children's bedroom. I found the repetitiveness disturbing and I was unable to sleep because of it."

A repetitive percussionist? No wonder he couldn't sleep, it must have been like his time in the Jesus and Mary Chain coming back to haunt him.

Gillespie added that a licence extension would mean that the pub was "disturbing the peace of our beautiful street and attracting noisy, drunk people to our area leaving the premises or coming into the area looking for a late-night drink - who are incidentally just [as loud] if not louder than the music being played".

Who was it who said "You have the right to party/ provided you don't mind some humiliation, investigation" again, Bobby?

[Thanks to Jana K for the storylink]

All I have left to sell is the "Kick Me" sign on my ass

Kevin Federline is now at the "will drop pants for food" stage of his career, as he humiliates himself in an advert to be shown during the Superbowl. ("US TV's highest-rated show, and the scene of Janet Jackson's notorious 'wardrobe malfunction' in 2004", the BBC helpfully explains. There might be some sport involved somewhere, too.)

In the advert, Fed is shown dreaming he's in a pop video. But that's all it is: a dream. (This is somehow designed to sell insurance through a process which we expect is still awaiting to have its middle stage filled in.)

"I felt that it was a good time to come out and make fun of myself" says Federline, "I try not to take myself too seriously."

Yes, Kevin. We recall the way you never used to take yourself too seriously - what with tracks on your album called The World Is Mine and League of My Own. You never took yourself too seriously.

Not when you did a track that said:
Im on the frontline
Dodgin cameras like the one time
Cant even chill in this california sunshine
But its okay, I got somethin for ya
Im handin out ass kickins like diplomas
Who the first to get it?
Ya know K Feds wit it
All that shit rappers talk about, I already did it
Im committed - to the game
The fames why I hustle
Lyrical exercise, workin every muscle on the double
Chief and commanda
Hand ya
Ass to ya in a basket wrapped in plastic
Im looney
All these model chicks wanna do me
Tabloids tried to screw me
Magazines try to kill me
But im nasty
Too fuckin slick and sly
So high
I could prolly drop a shit and fly
You gonna need a big army
If you comin for me
K. Federline - I hit like tsunamis

You weren't taking yourself too seriously.

When you told AllHipHop that "I'd love to do a joint with the Game or even Missy or Ludacris - people from out there", you weren't taking yourself too seriously.

When you signed off that stupid, bandwidth-sapping animated Kevin for your wife-funded website... then, you weren't taking yourself too seriously.

When you launched the Kevin Federline branded webbrowser, that wouldn't have been you taking yourself too seriously, would it?

[Thanks to Franco M for the story tip]

Kylie replaces the botched date

It shouldn't have taken so long, and looks now more like a bid to try and shore up the image than a gesture of generosity: if people managed to not rip up their tickets in disgust on Saturday, they can trail back across the country to the MEN for a replacement gig on January 23rd.

It would be great if Kylie came on stage and said "Right, where were, then?" and picked up from where she'd left off, but we bet that doesn't happen.

Indeed, Kylie's official statement suggests she's starting to get regal overtones:

"I have not at any stage ignored the advice of my doctors. In fact, I postponed two shows this week on their advice in order to be healthy enough to finish the tour.

"Nearly all of my crew were hit by this terrible flu during the course of this tour and despite my best efforts I too succumbed last week.

"I am now overjoyed to announce that I have been declared fit to return to the stage."

All you need is to cut in some footage of Prince Philip climbing off a plane into a sea of potential gaffes, and you'd not be able to tell that from a Christmas Message, would you?

RIAA turn heavy-handed attention to mixtape DJs

The RIAA have been defending sending in the Atlanta police to raid the offices of DJ Drama and other high-profile DJs, including the arrest of Drama and others:

Brad Buckles, executive vice president of the RIAA's Anti-Piracy Division in Washington, D.C., said the case was developed in Atlanta. For more than a year, police have been investigating the manufacture and distribution of pirated material in the city and "during that time, we've been working with police and picking up pirated product, going back and forth with local law enforcement to figure out where it's coming from," Buckles said. "[Tuesday's raid] was just one of the many series of raids that have occurred."

It's wonderful that Atlanta is such a peaceful place the local cops have time to pop into record shops and devote thousands of hours to closing down the sale of a few mixtapes. We can only suppose that the rates of robberies and aggravated robberies which were running at three times the national average in 2004 has been brought back under control. And that one in 940 women are no longer being raped in Atlanta.

The RIAA could, of course, have tried to find a way to bring mixtapes within the law, but instead, they prefer calling in the cops:

Buckles was vague when asked about the product that had been seized, saying that he only knew what he had read in the report: that "the product violated state law" and that "I'm given to understand that the CDs also contained a variety of works and different artists" that weren't licensed or cleared, and were being sold illegally.

When asked if Tuesday's raid was part of a larger series of raids targeting mixtapes, Buckles said, "We don't consider this being against mixtapes as some sort of class of product. We enforce our rights civilly or work with police against those who violate state law. Whether it's a mixtape or a compilation or whatever it's called, it doesn't really matter: If it's a product that's violating the law, it becomes a target."

Which, of course, is his right to say. And is exactly what you'd expect from people who see only two sorts of music - licensed and unlicensed. The mixtape culture is part of a vibrant world of young people enjoying, enthusing and responding to music - the sort of thing the RIAA should be supporting, if it wants to be around in ten year's time.

Why send in the cops? Why not sit down and try and find a solution that would allow mixtapes to thrive while ensuring original artists don't lose out? A series of 'fair use' rules, perhaps, or looking at a licensing deal which allowed time-limited extracts of original works to be used for a flat rate, which could be shared amongst all composers? The RIAA could respond creatively to demand. But the music industry has nothing to do with creativity.

Who's that going to rehab? We say Lo, Lo, Lo

Lindsay Lohan has checked herself into a clinic for, well, her own good, it seems:

"I have made a proactive decision to take care of my personal health," she said in a statement.

"I appreciate your well wishes and ask that you please respect my privacy at this time," she added.

Proactive? So is this prehab rather than rehab?

Madonna insists "it's kosher" again

If you'd kind-of, sort-of adopted a child from a different background, and he had a lot of angry, tantrum-style outbursts, you might think one of two things. You might think "this child is having trouble adjusting; it is going to take love, understanding and patience to work through this period."

Or, you might just give him a disparaging nickname and think this will make a wonderful anecdote for the Letterman show.

Yes, Madonna is back on the chat show circuit (friends who've adopted have spoken of the constant round of interviews; I didn't realise this was what they meant) and still claiming that everything was perfectly normal about the adoption:

The singer didn't shy away from the controversy over David's adoption either, telling the TV host: "Everything was kosher in terms of legal."

Madonna added: "My social worker said: 'Good luck. You're going to be making it up as you go along.'"

And making it up as she goes along she certainly has been. We think this now means that she's claimed her adoption followed Malawian law more often than she's claimed there were no laws, although she's still yet to explain how the taking of the child fitted with, say, Articles 24 and 25 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, to which Malawi is a signatory.

It's also interesting that, while not shying away from the controversy, she neglected to engage with the story that she was funding the career development of a civil servant from the government agency which dealt with the adoption and, according to the department, had offered to do the same for others.

Sects and sensibility

Can it really be that the Beckhams hope to continue their long and close friendship with Tom Cruise and that girl who used to be in Full House or whatever it was and not become Scientologists?

According to The Sun (with everything that that means), David's really keen, but Victoria isn't. Not because she can see that joining a religion started for a bet and based on something that sounds like a discarded Space 1999 plotline is setting yourself up for a bigger disappointment than a person buying a 'Get Fit The Janice Battersby way' DVD.

Oh, no: Vix is just too mean to buy into the cult:

A source close to the Beckhams said: “Tom spoke to David for hours about Scientology. He feels it could help to lift him out of the blues over his football career.

“But Victoria is having none of it. She can’t see the point of joining something like that where you have to donate money."

You don't know whether to laugh or cover your head in post-it notes, do you?

David has, however, managed to get himself muddled up in something else: he's going to appear in Goal 3:

David, who has a cameo role in Goal 2, said: “It’s nerve-wracking but I’m sure these films will go down in history.”

Well, if by "go down in history" you mean "will have a half-finished IMDB entry", you're probably right, David.

Meanwhile, the Sun reports that Victoria was "mobbed" in LA. How terrible that must have been for, erm, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes who were stood with her at the time.

Blunt seems to have taken the hint

Perhaps stung that people can't tell the difference between him, James Morrison, Damien Rice and Paolo Nutino, James Blunt is buying property in Switzerland.

The Sun suggests he's off to live the life of a tax exile, although the fact he's buying a ski lodge in a ski resort suggests that this might actually just be a holiday home.

The rumours that he's obsessed with the giant, inflatable Milka cows at the side of championship ski runs are just rumours. He's never attempted to buy one, and hasn't been found sitting underneath one crooning "You're Beautiful... you're Moo-tiful..." Never.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Question Mark, out of ? And The Mysterians, has had a terrible week of it: his home of forty years was destroyed in a fire; he lost four dogs and a cockatoo; he didn't have insurance; and as if that wasn't bad enough, he'll have had to endure local TV anchors making laboured puns about how he'd be crying more than 96 tears.

He has, however, tried to keep positive:

"No matter how tragic it is, if you know who you are and know what you have to offer, don't let those tragedies bring you down,"

Michigan and his former colleagues are rallying round; there's already at least one benefit being planned.

Pete scrubbing up well

Notwithstanding the press claims of oversampling the delights of Thailand, and the supposedly drug-related fight which made Kate send him home, the official overseers of Pete Doherty are pleased with his progress:

The judge told Mr Doherty that his doctor had referred to the "great effort" he was making to beat his addiction.

"But it's a long process and there is another nine months to go," she said.

"This is more optimistic but we cannot take the pressure off. It takes day-to-day effort."

His defence counsel suggested that Doherty might be, like, some sort of super-addiction-kicker:

"Most people would have failed by now," he told the judge.

Really? If that's true, there's surely a huge question hanging over if this is the correct approach for people who've committed the same crimes as Doherty. If "most" will fail by the halfway point of their rehabilitation, is it wise to set up vulnerable people with what is a health problem - albeit an antisocial one - to fail? It seems a strange way to go about things, like coming up with a sentence for a murderer and the judge going "you know, chances are you'll murder someone else at the end of it, but whatchagonnado, eh?"

Kerrang's one off the wrist claims creams forty grand off the profits

Even claiming that it was a magazine read mainly by fourteen year old boys in Berwick wasn't enough to save Kerrang: The Bullet for My Valentine article which claimed their tour manager had been whisking himself while at work was libellous, a court has decided.

Judge Tugendhat - and was there ever more an appropriate matching of Justice and case since Judge Killalot-Bloodily heard the case of the multiple saw-murderer of Old Sarum? - awarded £40,000 to Mark Strickland and refused EMAP leave to appeal.

Earlier coverage: First day's report

Something to listen to

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are streaming their new album off their MySpace. In its entirety.

Playing Second Fiddle - Radio 4 explores the life of the session musician [Link will expire after seven days from TX]

Everything but the non-girl part of Everything But The Girl

Tracey ThornTracey Thorn is currently working on a debut solo album, covering the Pet Shop Boys and having some space from Ben:

"After years of making records with Ben, it just seemed time to take a break, and do something fresh... I've got together with a few different producers/collaborators, and we've come up with a record that (I hope) is a true reflection of who I am right now and what I love right now."

She's listing these as her influences:

Nicos Chelsea Girls, the Au Pairs live, Pete Shelley, Scritti Politti, Im still waiting by Diana Ross, Young Marble Giants, Patti Smith, Postcard records, Sandy Denny, Pet Shop Boys, Ceremony by New Order, Sufjan Stevens, Bless the Weather and Solid Air, Joanna Newsom, Evelyn Champagne King, Gypsies Tramps and Thieves by Cher...

Which sounds fine to us.

Pink: I've been an arse

Pink has apologised and attempted to clarify her calls for Australia to be banned in some way as a response to the practice of mulesing, the chopping of bits of sheep butts.

Pink has now revealed she hadn't done enough research. After digging a little deeper, she's discovered that the process was already being phased out, and, more crucially, she's got a big tour planned for Australia this year:

"I probably could have been a lot more researched, on my own. That's the lesson I'm taking from this.

"My message was, in my mind, boycott animal cruelty - not an entire industry, not Australia, obviously, because it's my favourite country.

"Then going back, I was speaking without thinking and I actually did say ban Australia. It's not something that I can agree with.

"I have nothing against farmers. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I don't want to hurt anyone, I just want the animals to hurt less."

Interestingly, Pink is suggesting that she'd not been properly briefed by PETA before recording her message.

Kerrang in court to defend "Stinky" slur

Kerrang has wound up in court after publishing claims that a Bullet For My Valentine tour manager was wanking when he should have been working.

Mark Strickland - who wasn't named, but would have been identifiable through his job title - was hugely upset by the claims, and when Kerrang refused to apologise, took to the courts:

The article, Filth Pigs, warned readers to "prepare to be disgusted" by the "sickest interview ever" with metalcore band Bullet For My Valentine.

It included a comment from drummer Moose about the Bridgend four-piece's tour manager on its German dates in December 2005 - a position held at the time by Mr Stickland although he was not named directly.

Asked if he had ever been caught "wanking", Moose was quoted as saying: "Never, I'm too good at it, but we caught our tour manager pleasuring himself in Germany two weeks ago.

"He was in a dressing room and we just walked in and I knew what he was doing instantly, you can't mistake that sound for anything else.

"We called him Stinky for the rest of the tour."

William McCormack, appearing for Mr. Strickland, told the court the incident had never happened:

"It attributed to him conduct which he will say is wholly inconsistent with him properly discharging his professional responsibilities.

"What's being said is that when he should have been at work, he engaged in activity which was lewd, sexual and, effectively, he could not control his sexual impulses."

Mr Stickland, of Mansfield Road, Nottingham, was a "fairly ordinary guy who takes a quiet pride in doing his job well and enjoys the respect and esteem of friends and acquaintances".

But, since publication, the court heard people had laughed at him and called him Stinky, and he felt awkward about ringing contacts for further work.

EMAP, who publish the magazine, countered that he wasn't named, and that the target audience of Kerrang (rather dismissively described as a "14-year-old thrash metal fan from Barrow-in-Furness" wouldn't have been able to pick up on such an obscure reference. (We're sure this was just a slip by EMAP's counsel Caroline Addy, as EMAP's advertising website suggests the median age of Kerrang's readership is actually 19.) EMAP also insist that the story is true:

"Moose discovered the claimant doing exactly that in the production room during the tour of Germany in December 2005 in the city of Bremen," she said.

Moose's story was supported by the fact what happened became a joke for his fellow band members and some of the crew.

Ah... so, if a bunch of people start to pick on someone, then it's proof that the heart of their allegations are true? Blimey, that must mean the BNP are right, then?

The case is expected to continue for a few days; EMAP haven't yet indicated they intend to pull Moose in to testify.

There is such a thing as taking a joke too far

Currently poised at number two, and with a good chance of overhauling Princess Mary for Hello Magazine's Most Elegant Woman of the year:

Britney Spears.

"She realises the importance of keeping oneself neatly trimmed before the upskirts are taken", we suppose.

Wouldn't bet on it

Why on earth would anyone bet money on Jarvis Cocker invading the stage at the Brits this year?:

BETS are already being taken on whether nominee JARVIS COCKER will re-enact his famous 1996 Brits performance, which saw him crashing the stage.

[A gambling company] have offered odds of 33/1 on Cocker — who leapt on set during MICHAEL JACKSON’s Earth Song — mooning someone during a performance.

You might as well bet on Chumbawamba throwing water over John Prescott again, or Sam Fox presenting. It's not going to happen. Unless Jarvis decides to embrace the chance to make some easy money.

The odds on ROBBIE WILLIAMS smacking one of the GALLAGHER brothers are 8/1.

Not only is that not going to happen, but the odds are way too short - the chance of Robbie squaring up to someone is going to start at 100-1; of him actually hitting someone who would hit back is surely in lottery-odds territory?

[The betting company's] entertainment manager, Helen Jacob, said: “With so many party animals likely to be in attendance, there are bound to be fireworks and we’ll witness all the high jinks live on TV.”

High jinks? What are the odds on someone stealing a policeman's helmet, or throwing a bread roll at Jimmy Edwards?

North Country Blues

Just a few short weeks after Donald Trump announced he was going to do something involving golf, property deals and flying in by helicopter in Scotland comes a further blow to the nation's prestige: Bob Dylan and his brother have bought a bed and breakfast in Nethy Bridge.

At this stage, it doesn't seem they're planning on running it as a B&B, although we do like the idea of Bob getting up at seven to cook four plates of black pudding and eggs. It's more likely they'll roll it back to being a mansion. Possibly.

"I believe you're looking for a place..."

Yesterday, Victoria Beckham and her husband, the former footballer David Something, were given advice on how to behave in LA by Toby Young - it was of the sort of quality of suggesting Posh gets bigger tits. We're sure they've clipped it out.

Toby Young. Taking advice about fitting in in the US is like marriage guidance from Britney Spears.

Today, in what we suspect isn't actually in any way true, there are reports that Michael Jackson is hoping to offload Neverland onto the pair.

It's not impossible - the realtor could well have been despairing ("where will we ever find someone with the horrific lack of taste to take this place off our hands?") when the news comes through that Victoria's on her way - but we can't help noticing that the Sun's report includes a handy get-out as to explain why the couple won't be living there:

But sources close to her say that while she may be interested in viewing Neverland, she will tell Jacko “no deal” because of its impractical location.

Plus, the ghostly sounds of sobbing children might be a dealbreaker.

Isn't someone who goes to view a house they have no intention of buying a timewasting lookey-lou?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Together at last: Girls Aloud & the Sugababes

It's like Superman meets Spiderman, or the time Roger The Dodger joined forces with Winker Watson: Girls Aloud and the Sugababes are uniting for this year's Comic Relief single, a cover of Walk This Way.

It's reminiscent of the time Bananarama hooked up with LaLaNeeNeeNooNoo, of course, which was the last time a popular three-piece (albeit without their classic line-up) joined forces with a band of people off the telly to make a fairly weak cover version.

Hit40UK informs us that [t]he last Comic Relief single was "Is This The Way To Amarillo" by Tony Christie and Peter Kay which went to #1, which is correct in every respect except it actually being McFly's All About You/You've Got A Friend double a-side which was the comic relief single; Peter Kay did a lot of good work for the charity but wasn't the actual 2005 record.

Brits shortlist in full, horrific length

As "predicted" by Victoria Newton this morning, then, here's the Brits shortlist:

British male solo artist: James Morrison, Jarvis Cocker, Lemar, Paolo Nutini, Thom Yorke

Lemar? It's almost embarrassing, isn't it, that they still have to fall back on Lemar as the Brits committee seem unable to come up with any other non-white male artist, year-in, year-out. In an ideal world, this would be a straight battle between Jarvo and Thommo, with Jarvis a winner on the basis that we should be crowding round him, welcoming his return. But surely they won't give it to the almost interchangeable Nutini/Morrison, will they?

British female solo artist: Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamelia, Lily Allen, Nerina Pallot

Nothing too inspiring here - it's like a Radio 2 daytime playlist. Jamelia's stuff last year was pretty weak, but we hadn't realised how weak: she can't even quite make up the numbers any more. We suspect Lily Allen will win this - she's bound to win a couple of awards, just because she's the supposedly modern, sassy face of how the UK music industry likes to think it is.

British album: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, Lily Allen - Alright Still, Muse - Black Holes & Revelations, Snow Patrol - Eyes Open.

Predictable enough (oh, they all are, aren't they?). Artistically, Muse are a yard and a half ahead of the rest of the pack, but Snow Patrol have international appeal and the Arctic Monkeys can probably hope to pick up a share of votes from people who aren't close enough down with kids to assume that the Monkeys are.

British group: Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Muse, Razorlight, Snow Patrol.

In order then: not as good as everyone tells them they are; not as good as they think they are; not as good as they could be; not as good as Johnny Borrell thinks they would be if he got rid of the rest of them; not as good as their royalties suggests they are. This is the sort of list of nominees which lead people to trill about how strong British music is, but really it shows just how, as a nation, we're easily pleased. It should have been Girls Aloud.

British breakthrough act: Corinne Bailey Rae, The Fratellis, James Morrison, The Kooks, Lily Allen. (Winner chosen by BBC Radio 1 listeners)

The Arctic Monkeys clearly broke through during the last 12 months, but they'd already won this. In terms of commercial appeal, the Kooks should win, but you need to factor in the Radio One audience, with their mobile phones and the constant voting and the Jo Whiley live lounge. It'll go to Lily Allen, unless the Fratellis call in the idiots who rigged the Today Christmas poll to make it seem like we all love killing foxes.

International breakthrough act: Gnarls Barkley, Orson, The Raconteurs, Ray Lamontagne, Wolfmother. (Winner chosen by MTV viewers)

Ray the mountain? Unquestionably international, but broken through? He could be running a find the lady con in Oxford Street and they'd still not be able to pick him out on CCTV. Likewise Wolfmother, who, god bless them, have yet to create a buzz to match their carbon footprint as they tour the planet. The Raconteurs should be disqualified simply because it's just that bloke out the White Stripes, and as such hardly starting from a standing start like the competition. Orson will probably beat Gnarls Barkley, because the MTV audience prefers Pimp My Ride to music television.

British live act: George Michael, Guillemots, Kasabian, Muse, Robbie Williams. (Winner chosen by BBC Radio 2 listeners)

Nice to see the Guillemots getting a plug there, although it'd take getting the Mark Radcliffe show audience vote out in large numbers to challenge the heftier hitters they're up against. We suspect that, without anywhere else to turn their attention, the Robbie Woolworths fans will have their day with this one.

British single: Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On, The Feeling - Fill My Little World, James Morrison - You Give Me Something, The Kooks - She Moves In Her Own Way, Leona Lewis - A Moment Like This, Lily Allen - Smile, Razorlight - America, Sandi Thom - I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker, Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars, Take That - Patience, Will Young - All Time Love. (Five nominees from this shortlist will be chosen by listeners to two commercial radio chart shows. A live public vote will decide the winner on the night)

In the event of a tie, then the singer with the longest hair shall win. The only piece of soothing balm about this convoluted system of putting the singles up for the approval of the combined might of ILR and ITV listeners and viewers is that there's nothing decent in there. Imagine if you'd made a brilliant single last year and found you were going to have to undergo not one, but two battles against Sandi Thom, winners decided by Lucio's natural constituency, you'd just give up, wouldn't you?

International male solo artist: Beck, Bob Dylan, Damien Rice, Jack Johnson, Justin Timberlake

Now, we're not the sort of people who think that Dylan is god. We don't even like him that much. But what sort of skewed logic has got him competing in this pool? It's like, oooh, a much younger David Beckham playing soccer in the US it's such a mismatch. Has anyone in the UK ever bought a Jack Johnson record? Beck's spark went out so long ago he needs a torch to be able to find his own shoes, and it's about time we started to face up to the fact that SexyBack was the work of someone who nods everytime they paste one of their own reviews into the scrapbook.

But we imagine Timberlake will be given the prize. We're not ready to be honest yet.

International female solo artist: Beyoncé, Cat Power, Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, Pink

Cat Power? Oh, we'd love to see it - it's made us almost forgive the Brits for everything (even Chris Evans two years in a row) that Chan somehow found her way onto the nominations. In our mind, we're picturing her, Pink and Beyonce doing a Supremes cover... but then we keep fading to someone saying "... it's Nelly Furtado..."

International group: The Flaming Lips, Gnarls Barkley, The Killers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scissor Sisters

This prize is, apparently, only given once every ten years, which is why so many bands who haven't done anything in the last 12 months especially notable are getting nominations for their past work. We suppose. Gnarls Barkley, we'd suggest, if we were a betting man, should just about beat the rest.

International album: Bob Dylan - Modern Times, Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds, The Killers - Sam's Town, Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah, Gnarls Barkley - St Elsewhere

Critical darling turns in an album just this side of 'will this do', critical darling turns in an album just the other side of 'will this do', critical darlings turn in an album that just won't do, critical darlings turn in an album which is frankly taking the piss. Gnarls Barkley have the sweetest two words in the English language to thank for their best chance as far as quality goes; but the actual winner will be down to whoever the Brits academy thinks will make them look best and most with-it for voting for.

There you are, then. We wouldn't put any money on our suggestions for who will come out on top - there's so much horsetrading and back-scratching behind the scenes that there's still room for a lot of random outcomes. We think we might Sky+ and fast forward through the whole thing, though, for fear of what we might do the TV when these shortlists become winners.

Jo O'Meara digging deeper

The discomfort at Celebrity Big Brother's racism and bullying has continued to grow: there's now been nearly 5000 complaints to Ofcom, and - following Jo Sclub's suggestion last night that "Indians are thin because they're always ill as they undercook their food" - Keith Vaz has brought up the issue in Parliament.

Interestingly, Shilpa's manager tells the BBC it's unacceptable:

Shilpa's UK manager, Jaz Barton, told BBC Radio Five Live: "She didn't come into the house to have that sort of harassment.

"She came in there with the full intention to actually embrace the public at large and to be proud of her culture and her heritage and who she is, and now she's faced with all this sort of harassment."

Earlier, though, her publicist has taken a more laid-back approach for the MediaGuardian Organ Grinder blog:

Interestingly, Shlipa's publicist, Dale Bhagwagar, took a relaxed view of complaints of racism. "Shilpa is God's child. Jack is God's child. All human beings are ultimately connected by a single abounding energy. So, how does it matter who belongs to what race, religion, country, colour or creed?"

But, in case you're wondering, it's okay to call a woman a cunt:

Channel 4 has also confirmed that Jack Tweed called fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty a "cunt", not a "Paki".

The broadcaster was responding after bloggers and the Indian media picked up on comments made by Tweed about the Bollywood star.

On the Celebrity Big Brother highlights show in which the incident featured, what Tweed said was bleeped out, fuelling the controversy about alleged racism on the programme.

But a Channel 4 spokeswoman has confirmed that the word in question was "cunt", not "Paki".

It is understood that if Tweed had used a racist term of abuse, it would probably not have been censored for editorial reasons, in order to highlight an aspect of his character.

So, erm, that's alright, then.

Flicking the V2s: White Stripes, Moby dropped

Tough times ahead for the American branch of the V2 label, which is restructuring itself into a back catalogue label after being sold to Sheridan Square Entertainment back in 2005.

Most of the staff - including the president - have been told to leave, while bands signed to the imprint have been told that while V2 will retain rights to their old work, they're no longer contracted to the label. That means The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, Nouvelle Vauge and Moby are now, in effect, dropped in the US.

The fate of the European wing of the company isn't clear at the moment, but it would seem odd for a label to be pushing new music in the UK while hawking back catalogue overseas.

Brits leaks

More Victoria Newton, and her full Brits nominations leaks - let's hope the organisers don't get annoyed and ban her and her paper from the event, eh? (Although the sponsorship deal would probably have saved them.)

She reckons Lily Allen is going to be up for four (Best British Female, Best British Album, Best British Single and British Breakthrough Act) but:

I just hope she doesn’t “do a CRAIG DAVID” — and come away with nothing despite having the most entries, like Craig in 2001.

This sometimes happens because a star’s total votes get split into too many categories.

What do you mean, Victoria? Surely it happens because an act is just about good enough to be nominated but really isn't that good - a split vote would happen if, say, LDN and Smile both got nominated in the Best Single category, so Lily Allen supporters would have had to choose between the two; it's not like Lily Allen can only receive a fixed number of votes across the categories.

The night sound like it's going to be something of a stuggle to get through:

CORINNE BAILEY RAE, MUSE, SNOW PATROL and JAMES MORRISON [...] will all be in line for three awards.


The biggest bright spot is Jarvis Cocker is apparently in line for Best British Male, Which is right and proper. Not that Newton thinks so:

As much as I find it puzzling to learn that Jarvis Cocker has a nomination for Best Male when he hasn’t really done much, I’m quite pleased.

Puzzling? Did you miss Cunts Are Still Running The World and the solo album, Ms Newton?

Victoria takes the opportunity to "reveal" Robbie's slim pickings for the second time in an edition:

It was wrongly reported in a rival newspaper that King Of The Brits Robbie — who has a record 15 gongs — is to be snubbed. But he will be nominated for British Live Act — alongside GEORGE MICHAEL, among others.

Erm... but when the Mirror reported the snub, it did say that Williams was going to get a token nomination in one of the lame categories. So... how exactly is that "wrongly reported" when they said exactly the same thing as you, only with a different spin?

Victoria then tries some music criticism:

And I reckon NELLY FURTADO deserves to win the International Female award for her brilliant album Loose.

It is cutting-edge, classy, and doesn’t just churn out more of the same old stuff — like BEYONCE or PINK have done. If there was a Best International Single category then it should be a fight between Nelly’s No1, Maneater, and Timberlake’s SexyBack.

Let's leave aside the picking of frontrunners in categories that don't exist, and just ponder what Newton is saying here: Furtado has junked her style in favour of a mass-market chasing R&B - sure, she does it well, but seeing what sells and then making some of that is hardly a brave move. Unlike, say, when Pink refused to follow her record company's dictates and produce a album of mass-market chasing R&B for her second album.

Still, the official list is out later today. Even though the thrill of the big reveal - and the disappointment of the detail - has been blown by one of the people supposedly supporting the event.

Lohan deserves support

Talking of Victoria Newton, we're amused at her attempts to justify printing a photo og Lindsay Lohan in a see-through top: apparently it's to try and persuade Lohan to wear a bra, and not merely to persuade the hairier-handed of her readers to spend longer in the toilet cubicle this morning.

Elsewhere in the Sun, the opportunity to simultaneously campaign against wafer-thin celebrities - presumably to keep you busy as you try to copy them?

Robbie Williams is not Madonna

Victoria Newton has been given an exclusive first look at the video for Robbie William's new single, and although she's confused by it:

The video for the track, co-written with the PET SHOP BOYS, has me baffled. It doesn’t feature MADONNA or any Madonna lookalikes.

... she's happy to fawn all over it:

In the video Robbie cuts a strange figure in a black bobbed wig, tons of spooky eyeshadow and smeared red lipstick. The last time he smothered himself in this much slap was so he could Entertain Us – and he will certainly get a few laughs with this.


But, yes, Williams has fallen back on the comedy basic of dressing up like a TV who's never actually seen a woman in his life. Hilarious.

But wait, Victoria has more news:

I can reveal the success of his gigs means he WILL receive a nomination for Best Live Act Brit.

Of course you can, Victoria - you'd have read that in the Mirror at the weekend, like everyone else. It's amusing to see her try and make what is a terrible Brits performance sound like some kind of ringing triumph. We wonder if she knows she doesn't have to try so hard for exclusive contacts any more.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Kelly Osbourne confuses "opportunity" with "problem"

Why did Kelly Osbourne's second album Sleeping In The Nothing follow the first one, Shut Up, into that great machine which recycles CDs into wellington boots?

Kelly thinks its because she's Ozzy's daughter:

"It's harder for me because people always think, 'Oh, she's Ozzy Osbourne's daughter - everything just gets handed to her.' To get the respect of one person I've got to work twice as hard. "I'm really proud of my second album, I still think it's great. People didn't give it a chance. If it was released by someone else I think people would have loved it."

Actually, Kelly, you don't have to be twice as good as anyone else - to gain respect, you just have to be any good. It might be that being Ozzy's daughter has thrown light onto you that otherwise wouldn't have been there, but that's been to your advantage. Do you seriously believe that a young woman from a baker's family would have got the chance to make the hugely-promoted first album in the current climate, much less be given the green light for a second go?

And if being Ozzy's daughter is such a severe handicap, how come you made a record with him? A record which, if we recall, is one of only two you've appeared on that has sold in large quantities. The other - Papa Don't Preach - would also appear to have been trading heavily on your status as "daughter of the more famous..."

After reality TV, for Matt Willis, cold hard reality

Who knew that going on I'm A Celebrity wouldn't revitalise your career? After all, it worked for Tony Blackburn. Oh, no it didn't, did it; he's back at Radio London. But Kerry Katona did alright for herself, following the victory to... oh, running a cab firm in Warrington. Carol Thatcher? Um. Joe Pasquale, we concede, did get a chance to run yet another revival of The Price Is Right into the ground, so his career upswing was the closest without going overboard.

Now, Matt Willis is belatedly realising that eating ants and having rats put into your shorts doesn't exactly help flogging records as his single comes to a grinding halt at 66:

"I may have won the show, but nobody cares about my music… all they want to know about is what it’s like to eat kangaroo anus!"

We're not sure if that was a challenge on the programme, or something the rest of Busted used to do to try and keep Charlie in the band. Of course, had Matt not taken part in the show, still nobody would care about his music, so it's not like he's gone backwards.

SS Club 7

Trouble for Jo O'Meara and a couple of her celeb Big Brother housemates: Ofcom is investigating complaints that Jo, Danielle Lloyd and Jade Goody have been carrying out a campaign of racially motivated bullying against Shilpa Shetty.

It's unclear if Ofcom are also dealing with Jackiey Goody, who, faced with an Asian, started behaving like a real-world Marjorie Dawes, affecting not to be able to cope with the name Shilpa and describing her as "The Indian" instead. But they probably should be.

Jo has been heard doing "amusing" impersonations of Shilpa's accent, which means she'll be in prime position should ITV think about reviving Curry and Chips.

Jermaine Jackson has been trying to offer counselling, although even then he can't stop dropping his brother - Michael Jackson, the singer from the Jacksons - into the conversation:

Jermaine, meanwhile, was less accepting of the misunderstandings, saying that Jade simply wasn't "on her's like I'm going to a meeting and it's way over my head". However, he did have a helpful piece of advice for the housemates: "Look in the song 'Man In The Mirror' - that will tell you everything. They can't judge anybody else until they make that change."

If things carry on this way, he'll be reminding us that he ain't gonna spend his life being a colour.

Curiously, Jo has appeared in an educational video talking about being a victim of bullying. Doubtless she's now trying to illustrate the endless cycle.

Pete Doherty told he'll never wear Nev's Pie-Jamas

It's true: Pete Doherty has been barred from kids TV because he's not a "good role model". Although neither was Zammo, and they even did a record about him and everything.

It was the editor of Newsround, Tim Levell, who revealed the ban:

"On Newsround we have an informal agreement we don't cover Pete Doherty at all - in fact, there is one across the whole of BBC Children's TV.

"And if his management asked if he could be a guest on a Saturday morning show, we would say no because we don't think he is a good role model for children."

Mr Levell admitted Doherty was newsworthy, saying: "I can see how many news channels want to cover him because he is a sort of flawed genius.

"Personally I think he has a little too much coverage - particularly because he hasn't had any hit singles. I couldn't sing a single Doherty song."

Most nights, Tim, even Pete has trouble singing his songs. But we do wonder if Levell's artistic judgement is questionable: after all, suggesting that Doherty hasn't had any hit singles could be a hint that he's not that well up on current chart acts. Or perhaps doesn't count three top ten singles.

The Babyshambles team aren't bothered by this cold-shouldering from the delights of Smile and Blue Peter:

Andy Boyd, Doherty's manager, said: "Kids who want to buy Peter's records will not not buy them because the BBC are not supporting him. I would like their support, but it's not critical to his future career.

"Things are getting better and better and we are are about to sign the largest record deal of the year."

Weren't they on the verge of signing something similar last year? And since when did Pete Doherty turn into Sigue Sigue Sputnik with such fascination about the size of deals?

Still, he is right that kids won't pop Fuck Forever back down on the shelf because they've heard that he's not allowed to appear on Jackanory. But for a singer who seems to be relying more and more on his notoriety than his talent to scratch a living, having his sideshow kept off Newsround might close off access to a potential market.

Hello, Mrs. McKenzie

As a perhaps mistimed part of the run-up to the Billy McKenzie anniversary memorial gig, The Sunday Mail has run an interview with Billy's short-lived wife.

Like that episode of The Simpsons, it turns out McKenzie had a Vegas wife, Chloe:

"At 17, Billy was a real sweetheart. He was gorgeous.

"We began dating and got married shortly after that. Billy proposed in Las Vegas. I had no idea he was going to ask me to marry him.

"So we just got married right there and then."

Chloe is dismissive of suggestions he saw her as some sort of visa-requirement workaround, pointing out they were married for four years. They eventually divorced when she needed to prove she was alone in order to claim child support for the issue of a previous relationship, but they were actually only together for three months:

"Billy said he was going home to Scotland. It was a little bit strange when my new husband disappeared but I didn't worry about it because I thought he'd come home again. Billy just left. He didn't keep in touch by letter or telephone."

Chloe decided not to follow her husband to bring him home.

"I had children from a previous marriage and couldn't leave them on their own," she said. "I also couldn't afford to leave home, jump on a plane to Scotland and start looking for him. I didn't know how to contact Billy. I tried to reach him through Veronica but I guess he was too busy. He never would talk to me.

"I never spoke to him again. It was a strange situation."

Chloe Dummar, as she is today, says that Billy was the one:

"If Billy was alive today I'd tell him that I still loved him. I can't explain why I feel like that after more than 30 years - you can't tell your heart what to do.

"I never stopped loving him. I didn't fall in love again and never remarried.

"It was pretty devastating when the man I loved vanished off the face of the earth.

"It took a long time to get over Billy. To be honest, I don't know if I ever did. He was special."

It's a sad story, no less the sad for ending up in a tabloid paper.

Grab a Grammy - every night

On the basis that if you have a (half-)good idea, you should stretch it until it breaks, the Grammy people are trying to turn themselves from a once-a-year awards outfit (twice, if you include the Latin Grammys) into a brand-extended year-round "celebration" of corporate rock.

To help make this dream become beige-tinted reality, they've signed a deal with the Hard Rock Cafe chain. Hard Rock has been in business making music a little more corporate, a little less special for donkeys years, which makes them a pefect fit for the Grammys, which celebrates sales and corporate line-toeing under the guise of rewarding musical excellence. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of concrete plans, although they talk of a series of adverts through the years when people like Chris Martin talk about what winning a Grammy meant to them - although that seems to be about promoting the Grammy brand rather than promoting musical excellence to us.

The bells, the bells...

Howling Bells have lined up a huge UK and Ireland tour:

Saturday 24 February – BRIGHTON – Concorde
Sunday 25 February – LONDON – KOKO (NME Awards show)
Tuesday 27 February – PORTSMOUTH – Wedgewood Rooms
Wednesday 28 February – BRISTOL – Fleece
Thursday 1 March – NORWICH – Waterfront
Friday 2 March – STOKE – Sugarmill
Sunday 4 March – NOTTINGHAM – Rescue Rooms
Monday 5 March – READING – Fez Club
Tuesday 6 March – BIRMINGHAM – Academy
Wednesday 7 March – LEEDS – Cockpit
Thursday 8 March - MANCHESTER – Academy
Saturday 10 March – NEWCASTLE – Academy
Sunday 11 March – GLASGOW – Classic Grand
Monday 12 March – ABERDEEN – Kef
Tuesday 13 March – INVERNESS – Raigmore
Wednesday 14 March – EDINBURGH – Cabaret Voltaire
Friday 16 March – BELFAST – Limelight
Saturday 17 March – LIMERICK – Dolans
Sunday 18 March – GALWAY – Roisin Dubh
Monday 19 March – CORK – Cyprus Avenue
Tuesday 20 March – DUBLIN – Whelans
Thursday 22 March – CARDIFF – The Point

This will all tie-in (as if by coincidence) with the release of the Low Happening single, which will be emboldened by a series of remixes. Including one by iForward Russia!, which we can't wait to hear.

Cloth Button Past

Techdirt has got a fascinating piece about the 17th Century French button industry. No, really.

Karl T told us about it, and we're telling you about it, because it has an interesting parallel with the modern music industry.

It seems that in 17th Century France, tailors suddenly realised that if they made buttons from cloth, they could do without proper, buttony buttons altogether.

Buttonmakers weren't happy - we don't know if they produced a street theatre featuring the equivalent of Britney Spears (sans culottes, of course) to warn that not using bone buttons was the same as stealing a box of buttons from a shop, but they certainly did some lobbying of the government:

Shortly after the matter of cloth weaving has been disposed of, the button makers guild raises a cry of outrage; the tailors are beginning to make buttons out of cloth, an unheard-of thing. The government, indignant that an innovation should threaten a settled industry, imposes a fine on the cloth-button makers. But the wardens of the button guild are not yet satisfied. They demand the right to search people's homes and wardrobes and fine and even arrest them on the streets if they are seen wearing these subversive goods."

Victimising its own customers, calling for them to be arrested or fined for choosing not to buy their products? We can't be sure if the cloth-makers ever got as far as bringing legal cases against people on the basis that if they have clothes, they're probably using cloth buttons and will settle to keep out of court, but... well, you don't really need us to push the parallels any more, do you?

Be back for My 'Valentine

My Bloody Valentine will make another album.

That's not just the chant made by the Shields faithful cult, who live round the back of Waitrose celebrating the work of MBV, sometimes by walking away from each other, and sometimes, more painfully, by driving cars all over each other.

Kevin Shields says so, too - but don't hold your breath:

"I do feel that I will make another great record," he explained. "We are 100 per cent going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something."

"A lot of people say the reason My Bloody Valentine didn't make another record is because we couldn't. That's mostly true, but not because we couldn't make another record, but because I never could be bothered to make another record unless I was excited by it. And just by fate or whatever, that never happened.

"I'd feel really bad if I didn't make another record. Like, 'Shit, people only got the first two chapters, but the last bit is the best bit'."

"How long will that take to transpire into an actual physical record? I don't know."

Judging by the sixteen year gap since the last album (the shimmeringly beautiful Loveless) it took to get this far we wouldn't expect anything this side of the London Olympics.

Doh rises again

Sebadoh - who ceased to exist sometime in the last century as they imploded under the weight of being too indie to be real - are getting back together, says Eric Gaffney:

"It was my idea as much as anybody's to tour again because if I was going to be putting out reissues and doing all of the business aspects, it just didn't make sense to me for those guys go out on tour without me. And especially when the reissues are my records. I actually started the band, so that was sort of the push and incentive behind making it work."

Right now, it's all live dates and reissues, but then that's what The Pixies comeback was meant to be.

Lou Barlow is also involved in the Dinosaur Jr reunion; it's rumoured he's in talks with himself about getting back together for some of his solo stuff. The chances of that seem slimmer, though: Lou hasn't been seen in public talking to himself for quite some time.

It'll be the Valentines next, at this rate.

Ain't nothing going on but the rent

Heather Mills McCartney has won some ground in what is now officially "an increasingly bitter divorce battle": Macca is going to pay two grand a week for her flat. But he's refused to pay for security teams for her, which apparently has hacked her off:

The move comes after friends of 39-year-old Heather told how she has cut all ties with the former Beatle over his alleged refusal to reinstate her security after she got deaths threats from gangsters.

Said you've been threatened by gangsters, now it's you that's threatening me, as a wise man once said.

She told friends on her ski trip to Slovenia this week: "I never want to see him again. I can't even bring myself to speak to him."

One said: "She is absolutely furious and for her, it's the final straw.

"She said she never, ever wants anything to do with him again."

That might prove tricky, though: Paul will want access to their daughter, and Heather will want access to his bank account. We're sur£ som£thing will b£ arrang£d...

Is this your car, sir?

It's fascinating that Pete Doherty is in trouble with the police so often now, a report on him being questioned (and released without charge) in connection with a suspected stolen car is more interested in his post-release victuals than the arrest itself...

Save the Kylie

Kylie's off-staging (she's now cancelled two further gigs) has, apparently, caused The Sun to break out in hives, as they call for her cool it.

In a piece by their, erm, deputy TV editor (hey, at a time like this, everyone needs to be onboard) Emma Cox, they indulge in the sort of conclusion-jumping that, really, the internet does so much better:

KYLIE Minogue fuelled fears that she is pushing herself too hard — after walking off stage because she was so ill.

Friends, family and fans were last night worried she had come back too soon after her battle with breast cancer.

Kylie — who got the all-clear just months ago — looked grim-faced as she was whisked back to her hotel with mum Carol on Saturday.

Well... yes, she'd just done a badly botched concert and felt rotten. Would you expect her to be grinning?

The paper have rustled a "source" of some sort up from somewhere to mouth the word "cancer" over and over again:

It’s awoken some of our worst fears again. There are definite concerns she has taken on too much and can’t cope with this pace.

“Everyone gets flu from time to time. But during the initial months after beating cancer, it’s vital to keep well.

“When Kylie first announced she wanted to tour and record again, there was concern among her friends and family that it was too much, too soon.

“She even postponed some medical work that had been planned for last summer in order to concentrate on her Homecoming tour.

“Some of her close friends tried to talk her into spending some time relaxing and resting.

“But she took on project after project — and too many dates. She didn’t want to let down her fans.” Kylie has axed gigs tonight and tomorrow in Manchester — where sister Dannii joined her on stage.

We're not entirely sure how Dannii could have joined her on stage at gigs that didn't happen, but let's let that one pass.

All this fretting over the poor state of Kylie's health might come as a surprise to Sun readers, who were told last April how well she was:

HERE is Kylie Minogue as her fans have been desperate to see her — a picture of health with a huge smile all over her face.

The brave singer looks relaxed and cheerful as she grins in poses for a very special photographer — her lover Olivier Martinez.

The pictures show just how well she is recovering from breast cancer — complete with a thick head of hair trimmed into a new elfin-like style.

And back in June, Victoria Newton and Dannii Minogue were enthusing over how healthy Kylie was:

DANNII MINOGUE has spoken of her relief that big sister Kylie is clear from cancer and revealed: “At last the nightmare is over.”

The Aussie singer told how Kylie is “glowing” now that she is “healthy” and asked for fans everywhere to “rejoice” at her happy news.

Now, it turns out, the paper has been worried all along that Kylie is doing too much. Presumably it didn't say anything because of its famed reticence, then.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Koopa can bang ya

Congratulations, then, to Koopa, who seem to be getting called the first unsigned band to land a UK top 40 hit, although of course, they're not: even leaving aside the technical questions about self-released records and bands who work on agreements that aren't record contracts, surely Sway's Little Derek made the Top 40 while he was unsigned?

Anyway, Koopa have slunk in with Blag, Steal & Borrow at number 31, and thus count as the first unsigned act to have entered the top 40 without a record contract or a single, or something. It's a slightly less pleasing title for what's passing for history these days, but since it seems to be an achievement being celebrated as a suggestion of a shape of the future rather than for significant in its own right, it'll do. The first unsigned number one is still waiting, though...