Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kitten: We were right to keep out Katona

Natasha Hamilton has defended not inviting Kerry Katona back for the recent Atomic Kitten reunion:

Well, she left the band, didn't she? When we stopped the band, it was me, Jenny and Liz, so that's how we'll proceed in the future."

Let's try not to worry too much about the threat implicit in the last few words there, and just wonder if Hamilton is, perhaps, playing up to the stereotype by pretending not to quite grasp the concept of a "reunion".

Had Katona been invited, the record would have been worse than it was; but the extra press interest might have managed to flog a few more. And it was meant to be for charity, wasn't it?

Dead Prez gig ends in microriot

The Dead Prez date at Evergreen State University ended in a riot after members of the audience questioned conduct of police officers. The cops were taking a man into custody following a fight when a group gathered, first taunting the officers and then blocking their exit.

More police came out to help the campus police, and - after the arrested man was released to defuse the situation - it looked like things might calm down. Unfortunately, the police couldn't then start their own car. And it all kicked off.

Apparently, Dead Prez didn't help matters, either:

After the arrest, [Trooper Brandy Kessler of the Washington State Patrol] said, a member of the hip-hop group reportedly told the crowd, “They’re taking one of our people. Go take care of it.”

“It sounds like the band may have been encouraging them a little,” she said.

Perhaps ironically, the fight appears to have started after gig security ejected the guy from the concert for smoking cannabis - which makes it seem less like the police were taking one of "their" people as arresting someone who had attacked one of theirs.

Amongst all the turmoil, a police laptop was stolen from the car - interesting privacy questions raised there although nobody seems that bothered; State officials are confident they can identifty, arrest and charge rioters.

Shakira and Beckham take on Chavez

The cancellation of a gig by Alejandro Sanz, after he'd criticised Hugo Chavez, was meant to have been a quiet cancellation. Not now, unfortunately, as celebrities have got involved. Shakira, David Beckham and "music's Ricky Martin" have signed a letter calling on the singer to not be silenced.

Actually, though, he hasn't really been silenced - he's just been refused permission to play at a state-owned stadium. It's not acceptable that the government should cancel the date because Sanz called for a referendum on recalling Chavez from the presidency, but from the reports we've seen, he's not being banned from performing, only from performing at a venue underwritten by the state he disapproves of. It's not so much a question of censorship as whether Chavez is using state property as if he was a media company CEO.

The sudden media interest in a gig in Valenzuela was, of course, in no way an attempt to move the news agenda on from the awkward resignation of Spielberg from the Olympics.

There was a time when your life did briefly intersect with that of someone quite famous, wasn't there?

We don't know what's more heartbreaking in this headline from the Glenrothes Gazette:

Pop star in Glenrothes

The implication that a pop star - any pop star - coming to Glenrothes is, of itself, an event; or the realisation that Faye Tozer is now so obscure her job title is considered more of a pull than her name.

It gets even more heartbreaking: Tozer is playing Eva Cassidy in a musical. Yes, that would be a rotating sound coming from that graveyard.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

John Niven writes in the Times, recalling his time as an A&R man as the party was coming to an end:

I quickly learnt a key fundamental for survival in meetings - say everything with absolute certainty and as though your life depended upon it. I saw a very senior industry figure (someone who, in all likelihood, has signed and developed music which you own) throw the first White Stripes record out of a fourth floor window with the words: “No one will ever - ever - be having this f***ing nonsense!”

I went one further. As the last chords of a mildy hot demo hung in the air I punctured the silence in the conference room with: “Is anyone really going to be having another bunch of sub-Radiohead drivel?” Thus did I terminate our company's interest in the emerging Coldplay.

Turn that noise down. No, really.

MC Glammer emails us with a timely reminder about the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. From April, the definition of a workplace will include music venues, with, as MC points out, consequences:

The acceptable exposure limit for staff during an 8-hours shift is 85dB. For every 3 dBs above that limit the acceptable exposure time is halved, so by the time you get to, say, a pub band in a small bar (approx 115dB) the exposure time is down to 5 minutes.

To be frank, five minutes of most pub bands is probably more than enough anyway.

The Health and Safety Executive's approach seems to be conciliatory and keen to find ways to work with the live music scene - rather than sending in blokes with clipboards to unplug speaker stacks - but for some venues, the month after next is going to be a strange environment to operate in.

Dosen she do well?

While we're offering up video delights, here's the promo for Vinalhaven Harbour, the new single from Stephanie Dosen.

Nick Cave hears voices

As a mucking-around way to generate some viral interest in his new album, Nick Cave is doing this sort of thing:

It's one part Scooby Doo to two parts that bloke who used to pop up on Paul Daniels with an act which involved yelling "Spirits, are you there?"

Weddoes in Brighton: full details

Someone pointed out in the comments section that the Wedding Present are lauching El Rey with a Brighton gig. The full details have appeared on the band's MySpace blog:

Lout presents
The Wedding Present
Friday 30th May 2008
At The Corn Exchange, Brighton
Doors: 7.30pm
Tickets: £14.50 adv
All Ages show, under 14's must be accompanied by an adult

We suspect that the vast majority of under 14s would have to be dragged along by an adult, never mind accompanied.

Avril remains true to her word. Again.

As far as we can tell, it is the same Avril Lavigne in this month's Maxim as the Avril Lavigne who pledged "I won't wear skanky clothes that show my booty, my belly or my boobs." Perhaps she just meant all at once.

Darkness at 3AM: Is this to stop them doing it in ten years?

Yesterday's 3AM column (welcome to the always-on internet world, Trinity Mirror) carried a dread threat that the Spice Girls might reunite for one last time, to mark Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

As if the poor man hasn't seen enough suffering and conflict in his lifetime.

A source tells us: "Nelson is desperate for them to perform one last time - and he's confident it will happen. He first met the Spices in 1997 and called them his 'heroes', so he has deep admiration for them."

To be honest, we suspect he was being polite when he said they were his heroes. There's every chance he might hold one or two other people in higher esteem.

Gordon in the morning: Kylie gives one to McCartney

Gordon Smart unveils the news this morning that Kylie Minogue will give Paul McCartney his lifetime achievement award at the Brits. He chooses not to mention his half-hearted, pointless and failed bid to get Cilla Black to present the award. Probably a little embarrassed.

Unfortunately, the Sun's Content Management System is an unforgiving bastard and reminds the world of it anyway.

In Phuket, after being too thin on Thursday, and just right on Friday, Cheryl Cole is too thin again this morning:

An onlooker said: “She looked terribly thin. It’s sad.”

All of this has confused Gordon, though. He can't decide if he's writing about someone with a serious health crisis:
The star['s] weight is feared to have fallen to 6st

or if it's all a bit of a lark:
Your chances look slim, Ashley

So, she's either at death's door, or someone to be punned around. If Gordon can't remember his line on Cole while he's putting together the page, maybe it's possible he forgot he was campaigning for Cilla to give the gift.

Never said goodbye

This morning's Times a wide-ranging interview with Cerys Matthews this morning, which is not only the first proper one she's done since I'm A Celebrity. Interviews which require posing like you're in an Ethel Austin catalogue don't count; anything where Marc Bannerman is present is acting, and before she did IACGMOH, there was much being left unsaid.

Not now, though. Now, she's happy to talk about what happened to her in Nashville:

“So you see, Nashville was an accident, a whim and an instinct, like everything else I do. It could just as easily have been Memphis or Atlanta or any place else.”

She's able to discuss the marriage she could barely acknowledge was over when she first arrived in Wales:
“Nobody settles down with someone thinking it’s going to end. We’re all of us in love with the idea of being in love and I don’t ever want to lose that optimism or, if you’d rather, naivety, that belief in the dream. You pay for impulsiveness, though. And the thing that was paramount in my mind was that it got to the point where it was no longer a functional relationship or a decent place for the children."

Reading Alan Jackson's interview puts a fresh perspective on the last year - one of the few writers who's been in a position to place the ITV gameshow in an arc that covers her from Catatonia to Hello. Eating kangaroo bollocks and play-dating a gurning halfwit looks to be less an act of desperation, more a search for personal redemption.

Redemption turns up in strange places, recommended by:
David Samuel, a past adviser to such acts as Blazin’ Squad, So Solid Crew and the permatanned Peter Andre.

"The important thing was that I knew I wouldn’t have to think about anything for as long as I was there – not even about clothes, as all you have is two identical outfits. So no phone, computer or guitar, no pen or paper, no responsibility or control. You’re like characters in a novel, moved around at will. It was exactly what I needed at the time.”

The novel metaphor is one she reaches for again, when trying to explain her appearances as besotted lover in Hello! with the less glittering reality:
“They have their own vocabulary,” she says of the title. “It’s like a modern Mills & Boon, so as long as the people who buy it, myself included, don’t believe they’re reading the gospel truth… It’s not really that important, is it?”

And if some magazines will pay - Jackson suggests Cerys has made up to three quarters of a million quid - for a story nobody believes in, why would you not take it?

It's curious that people - and here, I'm people - who wish Cerys well feel more upset that she was in the tabloids for mucking about on ITV and popping up in Hello talking about kissing an EastEnder than we were when her appearances in the red tops were down to self-destructive addiction. Certainly, taking the Michael Grade shilling (and the shillings which flowed) appears to have given her something approaching stability, mentally and financially. Perhaps the real tragedy in the story is not that she had to IACGMOH, but that there doesn't seem to have been any more fitting outlet for her talents available at the time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Yoko is all over the internet

Yoko Ono is busily sending messages out to the internet to try and quash the claims that she's suing Lennon Murphy to stop her using the name. Her defence has popped up on Idolator and Boing Boing already:

Dear Friends

A musician named Lennon Murphy is claiming that Yoko Ono has sued her and that Yoko is seeking to stop Lennon Murphy from performing under her name, Lennon Murphy. Both of these claims are untrue.

Several years ago, Lennon Murphy sought Yoko's permission to do her performances under her name, Lennon Murphy. Yoko, of course, did not object to her request. Subsequently, without Yoko's knowledge, Lennon Murphy filed an application in the United States trademark Office requesting the exclusive right to utilize the name "Lennon" for musical performances. Yoko's attorneys asked Lennon Murphy's attorneys and manager to withdraw her registration of exclusivity to the name LENNON for the trademark. Yoko also offered to cover all costs Lennon Murphy had incurred in filing for the trademark. But Lennon Murphy went ahead to register.

Yoko did not sue Lennon Murphy, but sought to stop her from getting the exclusive right to the name Lennon for performance purposes. For that, Yoko's attorneys, simply notified the Trademark office that Yoko did not believe it was fair that Ms. Murphy be granted the exclusive right to the "Lennon" trademark in relation to musical and entertainment services. As you can see, this is a very important issue for Yoko and the Lennon family.

Yoko says: "I am really hurt if people thought that I told a young artist to not use her own name in her performances and had sought to sue her. I did no such thing. I hope this allegation will be cleared."

Thank you for your kind attention,


As Karl T pointed out when he drew our attention to this, "Yoko" appears to have an interesting way of approaching talking about herself - not only talking about herself in the third person, like "George is getting upset", but also quoting herself. Oddly, though, when Yoko quotes herself, she suddenly starts to talk about herself in the first person again.

The odd thing, though, is the original source of the story - a letter from Lennon Murphy claiming she was being sued, posted on Julian Lennon's MySpace with the introduction:
Sad but True & interesting........... I feel for her & know the situation well

So, then, rather than Yoko's word against Murphy's, it seems almost as if you're having to choose if you believe the widow or the first born. Curious.

Not that the Spice Girls hate each other, mind

Let's not run away with the idea that the individual Spice Girls hate each other so much no prospect of any degree of cash could persuade them to share a stage. Oh, no.

Even so, Geri Halliwell's made it clear that they're unlikely to reunite ever again:

"This is the last time you will ever get to see this Girl Power, the five Spices on the stage as one," said Halliwell, who left the group in May 1998 but was a chief proponent of the current reunion.

But it's not that they're cutting thing short because they hate each other. Oh, no:
"Actually it's gone on longer than planned," Halliwell said, "because we thought we were only going to go to the end of January. After February everybody had commitments -- kids had to go back to school and that. So we had to leave places out that we would have loved to have gone to."

Ah, yes. The kids have to get back to school at that, erm, place where school starts in March. Yes. That'd be it.

The Verve stop by for T

Making the Glastonbury line-up seem even less special, it's been confirmed that Richard Ashcroft will be double-dipping by having The Verve as one of the headliners at T in the Park as well.

Joining Dickie will be REM and Rage Against The Machine. No, we checked, this is definitely the 2008 line-up.

Who wouldn't want to see Zack yelling about individuality and corporate evils at an event which simply wouldn't exist if it wasn't promoting lager.

That pdf document, by the way, is quite interesting as it shows exactly what Tennnets gets out of the deal. In 2005, the 10th anniversary, it brought:

The brand’s integral position to the festival and the heritage that this represents was communicated excellently, with consumers encouraged to celebrate the milestone with Tennent’s Lager.
Over £6.5 million media coverage was reached – editorial and promotional coverage, no
including any advertising spend:
- £4.2 million press coverage
- £2.3 million broadcast coverage

Presumably this is some different machine to the one being raged at.

Other bands playing this year:

Kings of Leon
The Fratellis
Kaiser Chiefs
Primal Scream
Chemical Brothers
Ian Brown
The Raconteurs
Biffy Clyro
Counting Crows
KT Tunstall
Pigeon Detectives
The Enemy
The Feeling
Amy MacDonald
Panic At The Disco
Hot Chip
Aphex Twin
The Charlatans
The Pogues
Ben Folds
Reverend and The Makers
DJ Hell
Erol Alkan
The National
Band of Horses
Seasick Steve
Eddy Grant
Alabama 3
Sons and Daughters
The Courteeners
Paul Heaton
Lightspeed Champion
Ting Tings
Black Kids

Kings of Leon - Glastonbury headliners, remember - are taking second billing here. You have to wonder if Glasto is really interested in tempting younger audience, if they'd be better off hiring someone from the organisers of T rather than a bloke from Mendip Council.

Anyone can play guitar (Games console not included)

The bewildering success of GuitarHero - an electronic game which manages to be less satisfying than listening to an expert playing music, and than playing an actual instrument for yourself, simultaneously is continuing to spawn monsters. Next up is versions of the game themed round specific brands - sorry, bands, kicking off with Aerosmith:

"The premise is that it's going to cover the 30-plus years of the band, from high school all the way through the rock superstardom of today," Kai Huang, head of Activision's RedOctane unit, which guides development of the franchise, told Reuters in an interview.

Rock superstardom of yesterday, surely?

The prospect now lays ahead of us of every band - or at least those which have converted themselves into some sort of business - churning out variations on this theme. We're looking forward to a Paul Weller variant where players suddenly have to convert to playing an accordion halfway through.

EC to overturn results of Gowers Report?

Now, there's a headline for the teenagers.

With the UK government having accepted the findings of the Gowers Report that copyright in performances shouldn't be extended, it looked like that music business proposal had been dead and buried.

Trouble is, though, the European Commission is now suggesting extending copyright grow from fifty to 95 years:

The European Union's internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy said that "copyright protection for Europe's performers represents a moral right to control the use of their work and earn a living from their performances".

"It is the performer who gives life to the composition and while most of us have no idea who wrote our favourite song, we can usually name the performer," he said.

And that's grounds for changing the copyright, is it? Because people are more familiar with Robbie Williams than Guy Chambers?

It's not really the most compelling argument, is it?

The EC doesn't reveal how many performers remain alive ninety-five years after their performances; nor does it seem bothered that most performances are not owned by the people who gave them, but by corporations. Even although, applying McCreevy's weak logic, the proposal is going to fall since hardly anybody could name the parent company which owns mechnical copyright on our favourite songs.

"Also, naturally, you can't rely on an 11.30 slot"

You'll recall that Christian Aguilera kept her pregnancy to herself:

"I'm not being like, 'Hey, everybody, I'm pregnant!' I'm not that girl."

Fortunately for Hello!, it turns out that she is the 'hey, everybody, I'm a mother; chequebooks out' girl, flogging her newborn into a showbiz marketplace, and revealing that she had a Cesearian because she was "afraid":
"I'd heard horror stories about tearing. I really wanted a calm and peaceful environment. I didn't want any surprises."

Heaven forbid that any throw themselves into a highly-skilled, expensively-equipped hospital and undergo a natural childbirth - a procedure from which hardly any women ever recover.

The Daily Mail nods sagely about how terrifying childbirth is, happily pushing the cycle of fear on another round.

Gordon in the morning: Liam Gallagher's big hitch

Aah, sloppy old romantic pub-fighting Liam Gallagher marked Valentines Day by marrying Nicole Appleton, and Gordon Smart was there, or at least heard about it.

Ah, but what headline would you slap on such a story?

Oasis Liam's wed for it again

Sorry... what? He's got married for what? "It"? Sex? Was he saving himself until Nicole had a ring on his finger?

Accepting the headline doesn't actually make any sense, Smart crowbars in a reference to explain it:
“Mad for it” Liam...

Oh. Mad for it. Wed for it. Yes. Now we see.

Still, you can't blame Gordon, he's been busy, with a photo of the top of Jordan's nipple to somehow turn into news.

His colleagues turn their attention to Cheryl Cole. Again. You'll recall yesterday a picture of Cheryl in a bikini showed that she was stick-thin, dangerously underweight and at death's door. Twenty-four hours later, in (admittedly) a different bikini, she's looking
"well tanned, was joking – and appeared to be showing Chelsea ace Ashley, 27, just what he is missing."

Presumably she's had some sort of reverse liposuction.

Glastonbury "could be" the last

This morning's Timesis reporting 2008 as being game over for Glastonbury:

This year’s Glastonbury could be the last, organiser admits

Blimey. Has Michael Eavis said that?

No, it turns out it's Emily... no, no, come back, she still knows what she's talking about.

But it's not quite as grim as the headline suggests - it's more an acceptance that, one day, there will be no Glastonbury Festival any more, and that things should always proceed on that basis:
We had a kind of retrospective time during Christmas, talking about it and whether it’s a long-term thing. I kinda feel that we should ply everything into this as if it could be the last. It’s a risky, risky business and it would be nice to think, to know that it could go on for ever [but] I don’t know if that’s possible.”

So, they're, erm, plying everything into 2008 after an, um, retrospective Christmas, but it doesn't actually mean that there's not going to be any after this one.

Talking of Glastonbury and eye-opening stories, you might remember the story from 2005, when Private Eye reported Melvin Benn flogging FA Cup tickets "at face value" to Mendip Council Environmental Officer Chris Malcolmson. Malcolmson's work at the council included providing guidance to the committee which decided on the Festival's licence, but there was no hint that this was anything other than an act of generosity unrelated to the business of the council.

Not any more, though: the current Private Eye reports that Malcolmson has stepped down from the council. Not to worry, though: he's found a new job working for Glastonbury Festivals Limited.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Get Cape Right Click Save

In order to generate a hullabaloo around the new Get Cape Wear Cape Fly album, they've released a couple of remix tracks into the wild: The Shoes Remix of Waiting For The Monster To Drown and the Alex Mix of Find The Time. [They're hosted on ZShare, unfortunately.]

Radiohead relent

The Amplive In Rainbows remix - which appeared, and then disappeared after a cease-and-desist letter - is back online after both parties came to an agreement. You can now download the whole thing without Thom Yorke sobbing a leopard from his eyes.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Lily Allen's friends unsubscribe

So, after all the hoopla, how did Lily Allen and Friends programme do for BBC Three?

255,000 viewers.

That's not bad for BBC Three, is it?

Well... actually, yes it is. It's down on what you'd normally expect in that slot - about half of the average on BBC Three for the time. And that's despite the heavy trailing across the main channels for about three weeks, a lot of pre-publicity and the supposed draw of Ms Allen.

Of course, to be fair, Lenny Henry was presenting pretty much an identical programme on BBC One at the same time.

NME response: Let's have another revamp

No, really: MediaGuardian is reporting that having revamped itself again and again, to the sound of disappearing readers, the response to the new drop in circulation is to, yes, have another revamp:

IPC Ignite publishing director Paul Cheal said NME would be revamped later this year.

"NME magazine sits at the heart of the brand and we are constantly sense checking what readers want and looking to evolve the magazine's content and design," Cheal added.

"With this in mind our editorial team are currently engaged in exciting development work which will come to market later this year."

A cynic might wonder, if the paper is so careful about finding out what its readers wants, and then delivering it, why are they vanishing?

MediaGuardian also points out that the NME's circulation has now fallen below that of Classic Rock for the first time.

Rock magazine circulation: Goodbye, dear readers

The latest batch of ABC magazine circulation figures have been released, and comparing year-on-year makes grim reading - here's the key titles, with their current sales figures and, in brackets, what they were doing twelve months ago:

Kerrang! - 76,937 (85,377)
NME - 64,033 (73,008)
Q - 131,330 (140,282)
Mojo - 106,218 (114,183)
Uncut - 91,028 (93,678)

So, Kerrang has extended its lead over NME, but it's unlikely they'll be much in the mood for celebrating. And with space for magazines coming under ever tighter competition in the shops and stores of the UK, the number of chance purchasers are likely to dwindle further. There's not much love around for the pop papers today.

NME plays hotornot

It's Valentine's Day. Oh, you'd heard?

The NME is marking the day by inviting readers to rate pop stars on sexual attractiveness. Well, they're actually asking you to rate people on a 1 to 10 scale on how much you'd like to spend Valentine's Day night with, which we guess you might interpret as anything from 'sitting in a pub bemoaning the whole Hallmark-induced fantasy of romantic love' to 'dangling from the ceiling dressed in a rubber bitch-suit as they prod you in every orifice with pneumatic sex toys'. So it's not clear exactly what the voters have in mind when they're voting, but there's some early results, anyway.

Apparently, NME readers would like to spend Valentines Evening with either Kate Nash or Nicky Wire.

Mind you, the choice of men to rate could send a bisexual bloke straight - click! D'you fancy Liam Gallagher? click! How about Serge Pizzorno? click! Pete Doherty...?

Happy adverts experience

The crossovers of advertising and music usually generate misery and painful stories, so it's nice to hear Feist with nothing but good things to say about her iPod ad experience:

“I was a little naïve as to the impact it would have because I really didn’t have any idea it would be like that. But it did me nothing but favours because I’ve continued doing what I do, but with so many new open ears from so many more people than there were before.”

“Once it came out and the response happened that’s when a little bit of apprehension kicked in.

"I thought, in a way it’s my worst nightmare to have people at the concert twiddling their thumbs waiting for the one song they recognise. But any of those fears were quickly assuaged when I realised that would only happen if I stopped dead in my tracks and didn’t do another thing in my life.”

Microsoft insiders are reading this as a coded willingness to consider taking part in a Zune campaign.

... and even then the kids were secretly hoping for Kylie

Leon Jackson was doing some good work for charidee at Great Ormond Street, only to discover that as he was working his way up the ward, KT Tunstall was working her way down it.

Leon was thrilled to be invited to the hospital, although hospital sources say that when they'd invited him in after seeing him on TV, it was because they thought he needed his adenoids checked.

It's not just journos and crack dealers making money from Amy

Some positive news about Amy Winehouse: Dave McCabe from The Zutons has made so much from the royalties he's got from Mark Ronson covering Valerie, he's invested in bricks and mortar and got a foot on the housing ladder with a house in Liverpool. The Daily Star reckons he's hoping it's going to be a big hit in America; must mean he's got an eye on a penthouse in Beetham Tower.

Meltdown with 3D

The curators for this year's Meltdown have been announced: it's Massive Attack. They've gotten South Bank plans already:

“In addition to the music, we want this year's festival to have a strong political and visual element to it to reflect our influences and obsessions.

“Our aim is to mix it up a bit by instigating collaborations that make sense and probably some that don't.”

We're hoping this might involve Derek Conway's son riding a pony around to the sound of X, but we're not going to hold our breath.

The Homing League

Good news and bad news for Sheffielders: The Human League is heading to do a hometown gig; the bad news is, it's to mark the opening of a Carling Academy in the city. April 20th marks both the gig and the further march of the same-same-same venue chain.

Was (Not Was) is (not was) again

It's been sixteen years since Was Not Was have released an album, but... you can see where this is going, can't you?

Presumably feeling that they've been gone long enough for everyone to stop going "are they the Walk The Dinosaur band?", then. Their last major activity as a band was opening for Dire Straits, which might explain the need for a decade and a half of lying down in a dark room.

The comeback album - Boo - is due April 7th and will be on Rykodisc.

What does Amanda Platell tell us about the state of journalism today?

Amanda Platell turns her attention to the question of divorce this morning in the Daily Mail, seeing divorce law through the prism of the McCartney-Mills settlement:

[T]he truth is that this carnival of bile, this showbiz showdown, demonstrates everything that is wrong with the divorce laws of Britain today.

You might be scratching your head here, wondering if you've missed details of an agreement or a judgement. When you went to bed last night, they were still in the middle of the court process, weren't they?

Erm... yes. And, indeed, still are. Platell is writing her view about what the divorce tells us about divorce law before the law has actually come to a judgement. Which seems a little bit unfair. Sure, the courts could hand Heather everything McCartney owns, but equally at this point could give her nothing, or thirty pounds three shillings and sixpence a month. How can you berate a legal system for an opinion we can only guess at?

Instead, Platell is basing her piece on what Heather has asked for:
Let's step back and take stock of the settlement that Heather is said to be seeking.

Well, yes, we can do that. But as with Owen Glendower's monsters, anyone can demand anything - what matters is if they get what they ask for. Heather's demands might tell us something about the demands in divorce cases, but not anything about the law itself.

Still, at least Platell's working from knowledge of what exactly it is that Mills is seeking, then?

No - like the rest of us, she doesn't have a clue:
The sums differ wildly, according to which of the warring camps you believe.

The differing sums arise not from Mills or McCartney, but from different newspaper groups - although, yes, the Mail, Sun and Mirror are warring parties, so we'll let her have that one.
But the most reliable estimate thus far is that the former Ms Mills is in line for roughly £55 million, made up of a £20 million lump sum, plus £2.5million a year for the next 14 years, until their daughter Bea turns 18.

The "most reliable estimate"? As Platell doesn't bother to source this - it seems to have come from The Times last week - we've got no way of telling why she believes this figure to be any more accurate than, say, the thirty million claimed by this morning's Mirror. Other than it fits her purpose:
By any reckoning, that's an astronomical return on a marriage that lasted just four short and unhappy years.

Well, yes. If she has sought it, if she gets it, it would be quite a lot of money. But there are a load of ifs in there, aren't there?

Still, let's assume that Amanda has got all the details of the case correct, and rightly second-guessed the legal judgement. Would, then, this case tell us anything about the divorce laws in the UK?
For if this bitter case has served one purpose, it has been to send a powerful message that divorce is a bonanza for women, however badly they behave, and especially if they choose to give up work the moment they marry.

But Amanda, the mere fact you're writing about this divorce would suggest that this is an atypical case rather than an archetype. Fifty million quid does sound like a lot, but when put into the context of what McCartney is worth, it starts to look less astronomical - that Times report points out:
the deal [is] worth 7 per cent of Sir Paul’s £825 million fortune

The actual cash amounts are enormous because of the silly money in McCartney's world - but if you scale it down to a marriage ending where the assets are more normal, say, a two hundred grand house and fifty grand in savings, that equates to a divorce settlement of £17,500 - quite modest. And let's not forget that much of the settlement is due to Heather bringing up Paul's child.

No, if anything, the story tells us nothing about divorce laws, and everything about how obscenely rich the very, very rich are. The scandal is not that Macca is going to shunt the equivalent of small change over to Mills' accounts; it's that people can be so rich a fifty million payment is so trivial.

Darkness at 3AM: 3amelia returns

The change in management at the 3AM Girls hasn't, it seems, shaken the column's obsession with Jamelia, who has sidled to them to share her opinion of Heather Mills. Dutifully, the report it:

"There's no way she deserves any money Paul earned before he met her.

I'm all for pre-nups. I am going to ask my fiance Darren to sign one, but he doesn't know yet."

Why, it's almost as if you're not expecting the marriage to last, Jamelia. We're just a little lost as to what, exactly, a prenup between those two is going to protect? Earnings from Closer magazine photoshoots?

This historic pronouncement occured at the Elle Style Awards, where our brave journos wondered why Keira Knightley might not have been ecstatic at winning a prize:
Snubbed at the Golden Globes, Baftas and Oscars, it really hasn't been Keira Knightley's year.

But there was some good news for her last night as the skinny star finally scooped a gong.

Not that she seemed really up for it, mind you.

Named Best Actress at the Elle Style awards, the pouting beauty could barely be bothered to smile for the waiting paps.

Like at the Baftas where she shocked fashionistas by rocking up in a dowdy coat, she was at it again here.

Other guests went glam for the West London bash but Keira, 22, opted for ANOTHER frumpy coat.

Good lord. Not wearing a pointlessly expensive dress and choosing a coat to go out in the British Winter? Somehow not seeing a prize from an awards ceremony that - with a straight face - called Kelly Osbourne the best woman on TV as making up for not even getting an Oscar nomination? Whoever would have thought?

For the record, the winners of the Elle Style Awards in full:
Best Actress Kiera Knightly

Best Actor James McAvoy

Best Music Act Kate Nash

Best Music Band The Feeling

Best Male TV Nicholas Holt [we presume the Mirror means Nicholas Hoult]

Best Female TV Kelly Osbourne

Elle Style Icon Kate Hudson

Best Model Agyness Deane

Woman of the Year Kylie Minogue

British Designer Jonathan Saunders

International Designer Luella Bartley

Outstanding Achievement Anya Hindmarch

Gordon in the morning: Cheryl Cole on the dog and bones

The Bizarre lead this morning - filed, of course, by someone other than Gordon - is a report from Cheryl Cole's head-clearing holiday. There's some two-faced worrying over her weight - the photo library struggling to find a 'before' photo where she had much more flesh on her bones - before we get to eavesdrop on a call:

Last night a fellow guest at her resort called The Sun and revealed how she heard the anguished star tell a pal in a phone call: “Don’t treat me like a victim. I’m not a fucking victim, I’m a grown woman.

“People email me, ‘Poor you, poor thing’. Fuck.

“How can I trust my fella again? He’s damaged goods. I knew something was wrong when I confronted him about some woman and he made up some shitty excuse rather than deny it outright.”

This is rather an elaborate piece of eavesdropping, isn't it? It looks more like a transcript taken down by someone with shorthand - why, you couldn't get a more full quote if you'd bugged her phone, could you?

That this isn't actually a holidaymaker is made even more apparent by what comes next:
The holidaymaker said: “Cheryl is clearly devastated — she looked stick thin. That bastard Ashley Cole has a lot to answer for.”

Diligent shorthand and talks in tabloidese. Curious.

Gordon himself, meanwhile, worries about Agyness Deyn:
I THOUGHT model AGYNESS DEYN was trying too hard to be cool in pink shades at night as she trekked east from the Elle awards to party in Shoreditch.

But just when I was secretly hoping she would walk into a lamppost I found out the poor thing has a nasty eye infection.

And yesterday she had to wear an eye patch on pal HENRY HOLLAND’s catwalk at The Village Underground, also in the East End.

Oh. Righto. Is the story here 'woman has eye infection' or 'sort-of-journalist mistakes medical aid for attempt to be cool'? But if it's either of them, it's not entirely clear why this would be in a newspaper - as second item, mark you.

There's another piece today on the other Blake, as Gordon continues to chew at that one, trumpeting this morning:
AMY WINEHOUSE’s jailbird husband BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL will be spitting porridge when he hears about this.

... he hopes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Play without DRM

Adding to the sense that DRM is in fade-out: is going to start selling mp3 downloads in the UK. So far, EMI and the same indies are on board.

And this time, stay like that

The Police have announced plans to split up this summer and round off their reunion.

Unfortunately, this doesn't prove to be any sort of legally binding promise.

Black Francis off the streets

Much as we love him, we raise a curious eyebrow that the Metropolitan Police were so scared by the prospects of Black Francis playing a gig in the streets that they feared he might bring London to a standstill.

Citing the twentyfirst century boogerman of Health & Safety, Frank was made to play his "pre-core" gig inside instead.

That's as opposed to an encore, in case you're wondering.

Marilyn Manson: His booze is shocking

There's something very teenage about absinthe - the rumours about its supposed effects (yes, you'll see things after drinking enough of it; but if you drink enough vinegar from a pickled onion jar you'll eventually see things); the tiresome rituals around having a glass (like undergraduates having a bit of weed); the belief that drinking it somehow connects you to art and literature and makes you more interesting.

So, it's not surprising that Marilyn Manson has launched his own brand of absinthe - he's not brewing it himself, but he has done some of his drawings for the label.

The question is, though: is it any good?

No, reckon the experts at Epicurious, giving it a low mark at testing:

"Serve this slightly chilled at your next holiday party, along with that old, stale Stollen"

The No. 1 problem was the aroma, which some verbally compared to sewage water or swamp mud, but with the exception of a lone taster, the panel felt it wasn't really worth wading through the odor to get to mediocre flavor anyway.

Ah well. Maybe Manson could do a hook-up with Diamond White Cider instead.

Britney Spears fades from popular culture

First, gags at Britney Spears' expense were cut from We Will Rock You. Now, Eric Idle has cut Spears references from Spamalot:

"We changed the lyrics in London, on tour, on Broadway and in Las Vegas. We think that it's now too sad. BRITNEY SPEARS is being tortured to death and we don't want to be on that side."

By our reckoning, Britney's feelings are now more protected by popular theatre than Jesus is.

All she's asking for is a little respect

Aretha Franklin is reportedly unhappy with Beyonce. Beyo introduced Tina Turner at The Grammys as "the Queen of Soul". Reet was not happy:

"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyonce."

Aretha, don't confuse ignorance and a lack of history with a deliberate snub.

Mark Ronson catches 'em young

Mark Ronson has revealed that he actually nurtures talent by making contact with people before they get famous:

"People think I'm very well connected because I know famous singers but that's only because I've worked with them and met them before they were famous. I guess the key is to befriend people you think will become famous in the future, which requires a lot of instinct and a bit of luck.

"I'm on a roll now. I just stand outside the Brit School and the Sylvia Young Theatre School and wait for future famous kids to come out and just get their numbers."

So, then - stand around outside schools, asking kids fur phone numbers with the words "I'll get in touch when you're a little older". Can't see that going wrong in any way.

Ryan charged with assault

Lee Ryan, the intellectual powerhouse from Blue and notable solo success, has been charged with assaulting a taxi driver in Oxted, Surrey, on New Year's Eve.

He's due in court on February 29th. Yes, Lee, sometimes there are twenty-nine days in February.

Mould covers the UK

Bob Mould tour dates for May:

23 - Glasgow ABC
24 - Manchester Academy 2
26 - Birmingham Academy 2
27 - London KOKO

Perhaps surprisingly intimate venues (by which we mean small, but we didn't want to rub it in) for an artist of his reputation?

Secret Tapes

This blog post will self-destruct in ten seconds*

Tapes N Tapes have announced a 'secret' date at the opening night of the Lip Moves night at Old Blue Last in London. This will occur on Monday 3rd March. Which, you know, is a school night, but even so...

* - if this blog post does not self-destruct, please check your browser preferences has 'Allow websites to blow up my computer' selected.

Flying in store

There's a lovely report on the New Zealand Herald site recording details of a Flight Of The Conchords' - sorry, GRAMMY AWARD WINNING Flight Of The Conchords' instore at Aro Street Video:

"We headlined for Video Ezy back in the day," Clement said in his trademark flat monotone.

We suspect they might be the only people who won a Grammy one day and then the next happily signed a pie.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Red and Purple

The iron curtain did many cruel things to those caught behind it in the nations perverting socialism. Amongst the terrible wrongs was the way that - cut off from the West - heavy metal took a firmer grip on young minds. Perhaps it was the heavy basslines allowed the music to carry further into Eastern Europe; maybe it was all a terrible joke at the expense of youth on the part of Brezhnev. Whatever, heavy metal remained popular in the East in a way it never quite managed to do in the West. While social democrats grew up and pretended they'd never liked the Maiden, former Communists tend to still look on the metal scene fondly.

Which is how presumably Deep Purple came to play a gig for Gazprom head Dmitri Medvedev. In the Kremlin.

Of course, it's questionable if Deep Purple really should have been paying court to Medvedev and Gazprom while the company is bullying Ukraine and threatening to cut off the gas - although, according to The Times, the Purple bought Ukraine a stay of execution:

Gazprom had set a deadline originally for Monday night, but pushed it back 24 hours. Some observers said that it had been reluctant to spoil Mr Medvedev’s evening by starting a dispute with Ukraine during the Deep Purple concert.

It's almost a Partridge Family plot - "curse you, your music has distracted me and I forgot to cut off the gas supplies to 46 million people..."

Gordon in the morning 2: Man about the Winehouse

This seemed worthy of its own entry: Gordon's story yesterday about the other Blake in Amy Winehouse's life (you'll recall he found two men with the same name very confusing) is followed up today with an unsourced "pal" reporting Amy's explanation:

A pal said: “She’s said it’s fine so share a hotel room because he is gay."

Gordon though isn't called Smart for nothing. It might have fooled George Roper when those girls from the upstairs flat said Robin Tripp was gay, but nothing gets past Gordon. Or, sorry, "Amy's 'Pal'":
“But he doesn’t seem gay to me — I think he’s bisexual. Amy’s husband wouldn’t be happy if he saw how close they are.”

He doesn't seem gay to me. Sadly, we're not given any further suggestions by Gordon - sorry, Amy's Pal, how one might be able to tell those men who seem gay. Could it be plumage? Could it be mating calls? Is Blake seemingly not gay in the same way that Gordon believes his masthead suit is?

Gordon in the morning: Johnny Borrell and the attention of ladies

Lucy Hagan supplies Gordon's column with its, um, big exclusive today: Johnny Borrell has been at a party with Emma Watson, which is enough to work up a claim of romance. (It's alright, apparently she's 17 now. Okay, alright-ish. At least it's not like he's her teacher or anything.)

Trouble is, there's very little to build any claims of romance on - even the made-up pisspoor source isn't going to commit themselves:

A source said: “She seemed really happy. She’s a Razorlight fan and was star-struck.”

Poor Lucy is left struggling to fill the space:
Emma, 17 — whose character Hermione Granger romances fellow film wizard Ron Weasley — spent a night partying with the Razorlight frontman, 27.

Why is she talking about the Potter movie plots? Is she suggesting that, perhaps, the walls between the world of reality and fiction will break down (always a possibility on the Bizarre pages) and a jealous Weasley will offer Borrell out for some sort of wizardly smackdown?

But there's more space to fill. Google, woman, Google:
They later left together in a taxi. Borrell has a history of drink and drug abuse, and once said he was a “smackhead at 16”.

Goodness - let's hope the collapse of reality and fiction doesn't rip a hole in the space-time continuum which sees a drug-addled teenage Borrell get Hermione Granger hooked on smack.

Gordon, meanwhile, has got some pictures: Gemma Atkinson is flogging underwear (sorry, "undercrackers", of course - only Gordon would try and talk up a sexy photo shoot using boyscout language throughout) - which pitches its expectation of Bizarre reader's knowledge at a surprisingly low level:
Blue is one colour

We know this is meant to be a play on a football chant, but it does just wind up sounding patronising.
Mr. Smart also has some pictures of Girls Aloud, where he reads the trouble behind their eyes:
[F]rom the look of Cheryl in the line-up her mind certainly seems to be elsewhere.

Do you think, Gordon?

This "feature" also has an interesting photocaption:
Boobs allowed ... Nadine

Boobs allowed? Really? Someone wrote that - 'what can I do as a witty caption for a picture of Nadine Coyle? Hmm... No, can't think of anything, I'll just scrawl 'tits' on it'.

The Winehouse family line up to testify

With mother taking care of GMTV, it falls to Amy Winehouse's brother Alex to tell The Times about Amy's recovery:

She’s back among us. This time we hope it’s for real
A weekend to remember ended in triumph for the singer. Now Amy Winehouse's brother hopes that his sister has conquered her demons

Alex, to be fair, doesn't pretend that she wasn't in a bad place, and you can't blame him for wanting to stay positive, but this family insistence that "well, that's all behind us now" reads less like good news, more like hostages to fortune.

Interestingly, there's a footnote to the piece which greatly reduces the importance of The Sun's crack video in persuading Winehouse to rehab, making it just another pinprick in a wrestling match with hedgehogs:
Lucian Grainge, head of Universal Music Europe, is credited with forcing Amy Winehouse into rehab by presenting her with cuttings documenting her downfall.

A source at Universal said: “Lucian got every piece of press from around the world. He then laid everything out and summoned Amy. He told her to have a good look, then tell him she hadn’t got a drugs problem. It did the trick.”

This confirms rehab was a career move rather than a decision entered into willingly; you wonder if it can really hold when it's something you're doing to please your boss rather than because you've had enough yourself.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Upside down ! at the ready: Forward Russia prep

There's a release date for ¡Forward Russia!'s next album, and a tracklisting, too. Life Processes is out April 14th; NME has the tracklist:

'Welcome To The Moment (The Rest Of Your Life)'
'We Are Grey Matter'
'A Prospector Can Dream'
'Spring Is A Condition'
'Don't Reinvent What You Don’t Understand'
'Some Buildings'
'Breaking Standing'
'Gravuty & Heat'
'Fosbury In Discontent'
'A Shadow Is A Shadow Is A Shadow'
'Spanish Triangles'

Ono sues Lennon

Wandering the streets of Liverpool - especially in the 1980s - you'd often hear mothers screeching "Lennon!" as they called their kids in for their tea. Oddly, McCartney never took off in the same way as a first name.

The Beatley-inspired naming, though, is now causing problems: Yoko Ono is trying to stop Lennon Murphy for singing under her own name.

Apparently it was stopping Yoko imagining all the world living in large houses peace or something.

Lennon Murphy had asked Yoko if it was alright for her to appear under the Lennon name - which was something of courtesy, as it's got nothing to do with Ono - but Yoko flipped when she found out that Murphy had registered her name as a trademark. Apparently Ono considers this a "tarnishment" - whereas, of course, a mean-spirited, money-grabbing legal campaign against a person using their own name throws nothing but glorious light on John Lennon PLC and its CEO.

Future of the Left's future plans

Yes. We always do.

This time it's a single and tour dates: Manchasm flipped with Suddenly It's A Folk Song is due at the start of April; and there's a tour in support:

2nd April - Oxford Jericho Tavern
3 - Brighton Audio
4 - Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
6 - Leeds Cockpit
7 - Nottingham Bodega
8 - Bristol Louisiana
9 - Glasgow Stereo
10 - Sheffield Fuzz Club
14 - Manchester Roadhouse
21 - London Garage

This is fan-footage (i.e. ropey but if you love them, you'll not mind) of the band playing Plague of Onces in Prague)

Camden will Crawl again

Organisers of the Camden Crawl have pledged that the event will happen despite Camden having burned to the ground:

"Last Saturday's tragic incident has understandably had a deep impact on those who work, live and frequent the Camden area,” began the statement.

“We are especially saddened by the extent of the damage wreaked upon The Hawley Arms and the upset and disruption that is has caused to our friends there. Central to last year's event, The Hawley was due to host various live events and parties, but will now unfortunately not be included within the festivals.

“No other venues have been affected by the fire and the Camden Crawl will go ahead as planned on 18th & 19th April.

“Camden's musical history and reputation for breeding new musical talent will continue to be celebrated as now more than ever and we are currently looking into ways that the festival will be able to help those affected by the fire."

We know you'll have been worried.

A mother's gift, the sweetest smile

Amy Winehouse's Mum has told GMTV that Amy's coming back:

"Amy's coming back, she's definitely on the road back."

Although, of course, that's not a medical opinion.

Janis Winehouse was pleased Amy didn't go to the Grammys:
"I think it would have been too much for her because all of the travelling and flying there," she said.

"I mean seeing what the Grammys were like, I thought if Amy were there, she'd be a little girl lost in it."

Yes, because when you're used to rehab, prisons, crackdens and The Hawley Arms, being in a nice hotel surrounded by businessmen would have you all at sixes and sevens, wouldn't it?

And will you foot the bill, ISPs ask labels

With the leak in The Times this morning of the document which reveals that the government might move to legislate if the ISPs and BPI don't stop bickering over filesharing, there's been an interesting move from the ISP's trade body, the Internet Service Providers Association.

If the music industry wants us to police filesharing, fine, they say... but:

ISPs are calling on the record industry to put its money where its mouth is on illegal file-sharing, by underwriting the cost of lawsuits brought by people who are wrongly accused of downloading or uploading music.

ISPA told The Register today it is worried about the cost to its members if users targeted by rights holders for copyright infringement turn out to be innocent. "We still need to establish the proof points," a spokesman said.

Which seems to be fair enough.

There's some doubt, too, about proposals for publication of a list of those who have been cut off for alleged filesharing. This, says the ISPs, is a privacy problem. The BPI - who have a humpty-dumptyesque delight in recasting anything they so choose, says not:
[A]fter an EU ruling on file-sharing data protection in January, the BPI indicated that it wouldn't want personal data to be shared.

But, of course, if the names of people disconnected aren't circulated, the cost of avoiding the privacy problem is that the "offenders" will merely switch to another ISP, rendering the whole thing pointless.

Gene Loves Jezebel; hates each other

If there are items at the back of your wardrobe which still have the persistent smell of patchouli, it's certain you'll recall Gene Loves Jezebel, 1980s waft-goths. You may also remember their split in 1989, and possibly their 1994 reunion. And maybe even the 1997.

You might - just - have heard the band were back together again last year, wafting round the US clubs. The only problem is, the band who were selling themselves as Gene Loves Jezebel weren't the real thing. Says who?

the 'real' Gene Loves Jezebel, that's who. The US-touring band was Michael Aston's lot; his twin Jay insists that his reactivated Gene Loves Jezebel is the proper deal:

“There’s only one reason we’ve neglected the U.S.,” says Jay Aston from his home in London. “When we go to America we have to worry about visas and flights and hotel accommodations. When he (Michael Aston) plays, he just jumps in a car with three other guys, who knows who they are, and goes out. There are no expenses.”

Asked to explain the root of his clash with Michael, Jay answers, “We’re very different individuals. His rock `n’ roll lifestyle is different from how I live. And how do you talk to someone who is delusional?”

Hmmm. Good question, Jay. How would you do that?
Jay sees himself as “the singer who is a real contributor to the band” and his brother as “someone who was just part of the (Gene Loves Jezebel) image. ... He looks like me, but he doesn’t sing like me.”

That may or may not be a fair point, but surely - if anything - Gene Loves Jezebel were a triumph of image over content in the first place? It might be seen as an endorsement - even an encouragement - to label the other lot as 'all the costumes, none of the music', surely?

John Peel finally gets headstone

After a delay - Sheila Ravenscroft said she couldn't face getting started any sooner, which is understandable - John Peel has finally got a headstone on his grave.

It's got the lyrics to Teenage Kicks on it, which must make it the only memorial in a churchyard with a hymn to the joys of wanking on it.

Thriller at 25: Jacko remembers

Michael Jackson has been musing on the silver anniversary of Thriller:

"It's hard to believe that 25 years ago Quincy Jones and I embarked on an album named Thriller.

"It's my hope that Thriller continues to live on for each new generation to discover.

"To be able to say that Thriller still holds the record as the biggest selling album of all time is just mind-blowing. I have you, my fans, throughout the world to thank for this achievement.

"There is still much for to come for Michael Jackson. My passion for music has never stopped."

The last claim seems a bit unlikely - the tiny bits of work he's done over the last couple of decades suggests that not only is there no passion there, but he might also hate music a little bit, too. Not as much as he hates the cops, and the legal system, and those guys who take his money away. But we think he hates it a bit.

Twenty-five years is quite an achievement. We wonder if the 9/11 and Katrina benefit singles will be released before their twenty-fifth anniversaries?

Cole fumes at coke-head

Not that she's bitter or anything like that, but Natalie Cole is boiling mad that Amy Winehouse won some Grammys:

“I don’t think she deserved it,” previous Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole said. “I think she needs to get her life together first, and then get the awards later."

It's not clear if Cole has a fully-fledged guide to acceptable behaviour she'd like to see the Grammy Academy introduce for shortlisted artists, or if it's merely Cole doesn't want crack-smokers to be given an award. Or, perhaps, she only wants 'good behaviour' to be a voting factor in categories she might stand a chance of winning if she ever makes a decent record again.

Perhaps someone should take her aside and explain the Grammys are for performance (supposedly) and sales (more honestly), while it's up to the church and courts to deal with character and morality.

Gordon in the morning: Blakes and fake blakes

The News International web presence was having a bit of trouble earlier, and so it's only over lunch that we're able to catch up with what Gordon has for us today. His main focus of interest is that Amy Winehouse has been spending time with a man. Gordon, of course, nudges his audience like a washerwoman and tuts 'her with a husband inside, too, carrying on like that'.

Maybe they could get Roy Barraclough in to play Gordon, come to think of it.

Anyway, this 'man' is also called Blake. Yes, unlike in soap operas where they avoid having characters with the same name, real life isn't so simple. And it's doing Gordon's head in:

Yesterday, Blake II went with Amy to visit Blake I in prison. It's complicated, I know.

In what way is that complicated? If there were three Blakes, it might get a little difficult to keep track, but one Blake inside, one outside. It's quite simple.

In other news, Gordon gets someone to wring a quote out from a Victoria Beckham spokesperson about a photo which showed, um, nothing at all. "It's rather an unflattering crease" said the spokesperson, which wasn't enough to calm down Gordo:
Mum-of-three Posh, 33, sparked fears there was tum-thing wrong as she strolled around New York

They can't have been actual fears, could they? Because if someone was worried that some horrific fate had befallen Posh, you wouldn't really do a weak "tum" gag, would you?

And Michelle Heaton and Andy Scott-Lee tried to catch Gordon's eye by dressing as Britney and Adnan Ghalib. Yes, Adnan Ghalib. Although this seemed to involve nothing more complex than putting on sunglasses, to be honest. If they turned up at a fancy dress party dressed like that, you'd assume they'd just not had someone read the invitation to them properly.

Still, Gordon is annoyed by the whole thing:
Worst publicity stunt ever

SOME people say that BRITNEY SPEARS will do anything for a bit of publicity and that applies double to her snapper boyfriend ADNAN GHALIB.

So what does that make this latest stunt from MICHELLE HEATON and hubby ANDY SCOTT-LEE?

For me, it’s the most desperate attempt to stay in the public eye of all time.

In all my years following celebs I don’t think I’ve seen anything as cringeworthy as this pair dressed up as Britney and Adnan.

Oddly, though, if this is such a bad publicity stunt, why has Gordon decided to run a story about it, three pictures from the shoot and a large image of the cover of the magazine they're promoting in the UK's best-selling newspaper? I'd say that was quite a successful publicity stunt, wouldn't you?

Professor Marr

There's a lovely piece in today's education Guardian marking the start of Johnny Marr's role as visiting professor in music and recording at Salford University:

Marr hopes to be involved on all levels - from working with university bands, helping them to analyse and deconstruct their own songs, to giving talks on the processes of forming a band and making records, debunking some of rock's enduring myths. Such as? "The idea that producers are dweebs with no legs who sit and twiddle knobs," he says. "I can show bands how to produce themselves. In the same way, many bands think you can't make it without some fat cat in London or New York to manage you. That's just crap. All you need is someone a bit older than you with a bit of business nous whom you trust. The Beatles and U2 did it that way and so did The Smiths. I got to know this bloke [Joe Moss] who ran the clothes shop next door to the one I was working in and I'm proud to say we've been together ever since."

Perhaps of more interest to the Smithsheads is his reaction on returning to the site of that record sleeve shoot:
"I'd never given it a moment's thought," Marr says, "until they started taking pictures at my university inauguration last year. I looked around, saw the red brick walls and thought, 'this is familiar'."

Marr laughs it off, suggesting the brainfreeze was merely the product of a lifelong desire to forget that photo.

"I just hate it."

Because it's become so iconic and stylised?

"Nah. Because I look so crap in it. It's the one frame I'd put an X against to show that I didn't like it and then someone - who looked exactly the same in every single picture - decided to use it just to piss me off."

"Someone", eh? Wonder who that could possibly be?

Echo reports from McCartney hearing

The Liverpool Echo has news from London:

THERE was no sign of a settlement last night after the first of a scheduled five days of the Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills divorce court battle.

Hmm. You don't think the scheduling of a five day hearing might have given some indication that there would be "no sign" of a settlement on day one, then?

In other news: No final result from Goodison after forty-five minutes play.

No Mo', say Ho' Mo

Holy Moly - perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given its reputation - has revealed it's got more scruples than the tabloids by announcing a ban on 'paparazzi shots of celebrities in distress:

In a statement on its website Holy Moly said there had been a "definite change in the perception of paparazzi pictures" and it would no longer publish photos of celebrities being chased in cars or on bikes.

Holy Moly added that it would also no longer show celebrities with their children, people "in distress" at being photographed, or when they were not "on duty".

However, it said celebrities who attend press launches and premieres and "idiots who go to places like The Ivy ... for a quiet bite to eat" remained fair game, as do "blatant photo opportunities" where the press are tipped off in advance.

Of course, Moly isn't the first outlet to make such a pledge - the Mail issued a high-minded ban on pap snaps when Diana's driver crashed the car. The difference, of course, is you'd be more keen to believe HM. The Mail's self-imposed censorship lasted until, ooh, the first photography agency rang up with some photos to sell, we think.

It's live. On tape.

We know what they mean, but how, NME, can you manage this:

Tonight’s (February 12) leg of Shockwaves NME Awards Tour in Nottingham will be recorded and broadcast live on Rob Da Bank’s Radio 1 show.

Recorded to be broadcast live at another date? I know NME's stablemate New Scientist predicted that time travel was going to happen this year, but who knew it would arrive so soon?

Still, it does mean tracks from Ting Tings and Does It Offend You, Yeah? on Radio One this coming Sunday. Unfortunately, also Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong Ying Tong Yiddle Aye Yo, but you can fast forward through on listen again.

Come to the party - if you buy our single

One Night Only are heading off to do a gig at their old school, Ryedale in Nawton, Yorkshire. The headteacher has sent a letter to parents explaining just how exciting this will be:

Dear Parents/Carers
One Night Only - Friday 8th February

We have a unique opportunity to enable Ryedale School students to see a top band in the making without having to pay extortionate prices or travel long distances to inhospitable environments. I can negotiate this, but will need the help of parents and carers.

“One Night Only” is a band of former Ryedale School students who have a record contract and, according to those in the know, are destined for the big time. Their debut single was around the Top 40 for several weeks. The expectation is that their new single will be even more successful, and I should like our current students to gain something from this wonderful rise to fame.

Brilliant. What a lovely gesture - old boys coming back to do something for their old school. Even a cynical old soul like ourselves sheds a warm, salty tear at... hang on a moment, though - what's this?
Ryedale School is still held in high esteem by the band, and their manager is grateful for the opportunity we
gave them to shoot some television footage here for the boys’ appearance on a Music programme. They are keen to visit us, but are constrained by record company demands to promote their new single.

Isn't going to your old school and playing some songs "promoting the single", though? It'll be on Look North and everything.

Ah, but it turns out the record company - Vertigo, which is Universal - has something a little more direct in mind:
The solution is simple: the band performs a concert at Ryedale School, and rather than charging the students an entrance fee, we ask them to buy the new single instead. Everyone wins!

Well, we can see how Vivendi-Universal does. We can even imagine that One Night Only might, eventually see some money out of it. But how does forcing a child to buy a record in order to take part in a school event constitute a win for either the child or the school?

Let's not be confused here, either: this is talking about using a school event to try and boost a band's chart position:
I have explored all sorts of options about buying the single to sell to the students (or even vouchers to order them). Whatever I think of to make the purchases manageable is thwarted by the regulations which state that a maximum of ten sales will be counted towards the charts from any one purchaser. In fairness to the band we have to find a better arrangement. This is where we need the help of the parents and carers.

This is the head teacher of a school, bending over backwards to hype a record up the charts by refusing to allow their pupils to attend a school event unless they buy a record.
If the single is pre-ordered on line before it is released on 28th January the impact is greatest. I realise that not everyone will be happy with this arrangement, but for those who are we have found out the following.

A really good value for money pack, worth ten pounds but available for just £3 (only one purchase per household) can be pre-ordered from by following this link which has also been added to the School website. [URL snipped]*

This brings you directly to the page with the One Night Only multipack containing the following products:
Just For Tonight - CD Single - normal price £4.99
Just For Tonight (Gatefold Sleeve) - 7 inch single - normal price £2.99
Just For Tonight (Picture Disc) - 7 inch single - normal price £1.99

The "worth ten pounds" is, of course, entirely arguable.
This represents tremendous value for money for the students, giving them a rare opportunity to see a top band perform live and leaves them with a memento of the day. It will also give the band a flying start.

A flying start indeed.

But the head knows some people might not be happy with this way of doing things. After all, not everyone likes to buy records on the internet:
This represents tremendous value for money for the students, giving them a rare opportunity to see a top band perform live and leaves them with a memento of the day. It will also give the band a flying start.

Because I know some of you will be unhappy about ordering on line, buying the single following its release on 28th January from stores such as HMV is an acceptable alternative.

Good lord - don't you wish that your band had a street team like this?
For the students to gain admission to the concert, they will need to have handed in the slip signed by a parent/carer indicating that the single has been pre-ordered, or has been bought or will be bought in the near future. It is a less straightforward arrangement that I aimed for, but it offers the benefits I wanted.

The slip below should be returned to the school office by Monday 4th February. One purchase per household is sufficient to admit all the children from that household, but they will each need to return a signed slip.
The Hall cannot accommodate all the students so the ones who return the slips on time will be given priority.
There will be no further cost for admission.

Aha - once you've forked out for the record, you won't be shaken down again.

Hang about, though, where's the angle for the school? Won't the school get its beak wet, too?
In order that the students feel comfortable at the concert, we can have our usual half-term’s non-uniform
day on the day of the concert for the usual £1 fee.

There are three problems with this - first, a school should not be pimping on behalf of a multinantional company, with the head seeking the ways to best maximise a chart position.

Secondly, since students will want to go to the gig even if they're not that keen on the band (to be with their mates, to not be left out, to not look odd), this looks like exploiting that to sell records.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it's a clear breach of chart rules:
No record company, distributor, retailer, Artist or other party should act or encourage others to act in any way designed to distort, or which has the effect of distorting the Chart by achieving a higher or lower Chart position for a record than it would otherwise achieve.

Actions which will be considered a breach of these rules include:
procuring the sale of a record in conjunction with a non-related or excessive gift, ie which gives the consumer a product, voucher or benefit or anything else which is either unrelated to the record concerned or of a value in excess of the value of the record without that gift (value means normal retail price

It looks like the head's efforts might have been in vain.

[Thanks to Jim W for the tip]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Neil Young worries he might have been hasty

Neil Young seems to have worried that he might have been hasty claiming that music can no longer change the world. So he's issued a statement to clarify his position:

A Song Alone.
By Neil Young

No one song can change the world. But that doesn’t mean its time to stop singing.
Somewhere on Earth a scientist is alone working. No one knows what he or she is thinking. The secret is just within reach. If I knew that answer I would be singing the song.

This is the Age of innovation. Hope matters. But not hope alone. In the age of innovation, the people’s fuel must be found. That is the biggest challenge. Who is up to the challenge? Who is searching today? All day. All night. Every hour that goes by. I know I am.

My friends write to me don’t give up. I am not giving up. I know this is the time for change. But I know that it’s not a song. Maybe it was. But it isn’t now. It’s an action, an accomplishment, a revelation, a new way. I am searching for the people’s fuel. Will I find it? Yes. I think so. I don’t know why I may have been chosen to help enable a discovery of this magnitude. I know I can only write a song about it when I find it. Until then I can write a song about the search or spend all my time looking. But a song alone will not change the world. Even so, I will keep on singing.

Ah. So, having said that nobody can write songs to change the planet any more, his "clarification" is, effectively, adding "apart, perhaps, from me..."

Sonic Youth promise new stuff... next year

It's good to know that there's more to come from Sonic Youth. Even if it's a bit disappointing we're going to have to wait until 2009. Thurston Moore tells NME:

‘We haven’t gotten together in about four months, we’ve been taking a nice sort of break, which is good. I’ve been actually able to escape into the basement. We’re going to Australia next week for about two weeks then we’ll come back and start writing.’

We're not sure what Thurston Moore has in his basement; perhaps wisely, NME didn't ask.

Grammys: Fewer watch, again

The quickest tot-ups of ratings for the Grammys last night make grim reading for CBS, with 12% of last year's viewers going missing, and 18% of the 18-49 year old viewers not turning up. It's almost as if the tantalising prospect of an English crackhead singer about not going to get the treatment she's currently having wasn't such a draw after all.

Kravitz croaky, laid up

Lenny Kravitz is, tonight, in a hospital in Miami. He's been suffering from respiratory problems since the start of the year; now, it's turned into bronchitis.

A spokesperson issued a statement:

"Due to extreme dehydration and fatigue, doctors were unable to control it with outpatient treatment and advised the singer to check into the hospital. He was taken this morning to the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami for immediate treatment."

Dehydration? It's a refreshing change for a musician to go and get treatment because they've not been drinking enough.

Parton's breasts pull tour

Some people, as someone (was it Lenny Henry?) once said, see Dolly Parton as a pair of tits. Now, though, it seems those breasts really are the ones calling shots in her career: Parton has had to postpone her US tour for up to eight weeks because her breasts have put so much strain on her back:

"Hey, you try wagging these puppies around a while and see if you don't have back problems."

A bunch of middle aged men have formed a queue, having interpreted the invitation with a degree of over-literalism and a surprising amount of hope.

T in the Park introduce muddled slew of ticket packages

Camping, no camping. One day, full festival. It shouldn't be difficult to sort out the tickets for a festival. But, in the misplaced desire to offer 'options', T in the Park has decided to introduce more packages than you can wave a potato-based tent peg at:

There will now be four ticket packages to choose from – weekend with camping ticket, combined Saturday and Sunday ticket, Saturday ticket and Sunday ticket.

The combined Saturday and Sunday ticket will let you in for both days but does not allow for camping.

When buying either the combined Saturday and Sunday ticket or the weekend with camping ticket you will be asked if you want to buy a Citylink bus ticket at the same time – which organisers believe is the most cost effective method of travel to the site.

We've managed to buy a bus ticket with camping for Friday and Sunday, but no entry to the festival. Can that be right?

Okay, it's not that confusing, but it's more complex than it needs to be, surely?

Malawi says thank you: It's either a child or the muffin basket...

We're a little slack-jawed at the statement attributed to Malawian information minister Patricia Kaliati:

"This country owes her so much. Very few famous people would take their time off to rally other celebrities to raise money for a poor country like Malawi, which very few people know about.

"It will be wrong for Malawi to even dare deny this wonderful woman all the rights to be a parent of David and many more Malawian children."

So the rule of law or worries about doing the right thing for the child - don't worry about that: Madonna did some charity work. Let's give her a kid! In fact, we've got loads of children - perhaps we should make up a parcel of children.

We'd be interested to know (a) how famous you have to be and (b) how much money you have to raise before that becomes more important than the normal rules and safeguards surrounding adoption.

Zappa'da ya face: Estate attacks tribute acts

It's something of a surprise to discover there's such a thriving Frank Zappa tribute scene that his widow feels the need to close it down.

Gail Zappa claims her worries are based around a cheapening of her Frank's memory by plodding pub acts doing his songs, and - more convincingly - that they're not coughing up the money for the estate. So, writs are flying - including one designed to close down Zappanale fan convention for breaching trademark law by using the word Zappa and, erm, an outline of a moustache.

We wish Gail luck with her campaign - after all, by refusing to allow grassroot fans the right to celebrate their hero, it's only going to be a matter of time before Zappa's name dies out. Perhaps she should also stop them playing his records on the radio.

The attempts to shutdown tribute acts, of course, does not extend to Dweezil Zappa's Zappa Plays Zappa tour. Hey, won't the mother's son be popular if there were no other tribute acts around?

Darkness at 3AM: The Grammys gone toxic

3AM elects to use its firepower on the Grammys today, although, unfortunately, nothing much had happened by 3AM UK time.

Whitney Houston said that Leona Lewis was a "baby me", which excited Lewis:

Leona squealed: "I can't believe Whitney knows who I am."

To be honest, we can't believe that Whitney still knows who Whitney Houston is these days.

The team attempt to uncover diva-ish behaviour backstage, but the best they can come up with is Beyonce asking organisers to make sure her toilet is clean.

Oddly, though, there's a piece on the Mirror site about the BAFTAs, with a byline from one of the 3AM Girls and a chum, but it's not branded as 3AM. They, too, feel that someone other than a person they like winning a prize is a snub, but at least they're more generous to Marion Cotillard, who is upgraded from "unknown" to "little-known". We're interpreting that as someone having had the good grace to check IMDB before filing the report.

Gordon in the morning: Footballer's lives

With the Grammys and the BAFTAs on the same night, what a difficult choice for the "prime minister of showbiz". Which would he grace with his presence?

Erm... neither, actually: Smart's big contribution to his own columns today is a commentary on a photograph of Alex Curran.

Mind you, the Bizarre coverage of the BAFTAs couldn't have been any worse if Gordon had written it - Keira Knightly not winning an award is turned into some sort snub:

BRIT stars KEIRA KNIGHTLEY and JULIE CHRISTIE were sensationally snubbed at the Baftas

"Sensationally" as in the use of 'failed to win a ballot of BAFTA members'
- in favour of an unknown actress

'Unknown actress' in the sense of 'actress that The Sun's entire entertainment team haven't heard of'. Marion Cotillard was in Taxi. (Note to The Sun: Besson, not DeVito.) But it's worse than she 'not been heard of by the entertainment hacks on the Sun', though:
from France

She's NOT EVEN BRITISH. Or American. How dare she steal awards from under the noses of British stars simply by being considered to have been better?

But, no, it's even worse than that:
Keira was also upstaged in the glamour stakes by Brit rival SIENNA MILLER who wore £1million worth of diamonds — and thrilled male admirers with a sexy black dress that clung to her curvy behind.

Not only was Keira SNUBBED in favour of a FRENCH WOMAN, but there were other people whose dresses clung to their arses more. What a terrible night.

Capital brings back the ads

Besides dumping DAB and axing XFM outside London, there's another u-turn tucked away in the official GCap statement this morning. Capital is ditching its policy of fewer adverts. Listed as a 'key initiative':

Increasing inventory at Capital 95.8 to meet demand from advertisers

Interesting. When they dropped the number of ads, GCap made much ballyhoo about how it was responding to listener needs; now, presumably, with listeners not listening much their wishes are unimportant.

Mind you, the policy of fewer adverts lasted longer than the simultaneous rebranding of the main London franchise as Capital Radio (again) - somewhere in the last couple of years it seems to have mutated again into Capital 98.5. If they can't decide what to call the bloody thing, what chance do they have of making any other ideas stick?

It's hard to believe there's much demand from advertisers for more inventory on Capital. At the end of Janaury GCap described the advertising market as "stable".

GCap axes DAB, most of XFM

Tough times at GCap, and they've just announced some tough action: the company is closing its remaining DAB-only stations, TheJazz and Planet Rock, and is going to sell its share in DigitalOne (although why it thinks it'll find a buyer for a DAB transmission network it's effectively scuttled isn't clear).

More interestingly, it's going to flog off the XFM analogue licences outside London - the Welsh, Mancunian and Scottish operations - there's little in the current reports about if the idea is to flog them as a going concern to be run as a franchise, or if the plan is for the stations to change into something else.

The statement:

"Today we are announcing a radical but realistic set of measures with the aim of delivering significant improvements to profits and operating margins and positioning GCap Media for long-term sustainable growth," said Hazlitt.

"GCap Media will become a leaner and more dynamic company focused on maximising the revenue and profit potential of five key brands on FM and broadband, the platforms that we believe consumers want and which offer the greatest growth opportunities."

A once mighty beast tamed and hunkering down for hard times ahead, in other words. Let's hope its FM brands aren't, you know, in some sort of terminal decline.

It's not good news for DAB as a commercial innovation, but since nobody listens to anything other than the BBC stations on DAB that might not matter overmuch.

Winehouse grabs the Grammys

That'd be quite a successful night for Amy Winehouse then - not so much that she won five Grammys, but more that she turned in two performances for prime-time US TV without screwing up.

Watching the performances, though (they're on the DailyMotion) there is a rather nagging question: where did that audience come from? Who were they? Did they have to pay $300 a head to be there?

Winehouse took five of the awards she'd been nominated for, but didn't get album of the year. Herbie Hancock did, to an audible intake of breath round the world. A jazz album? Surely some mistake?

USA Today suggests that the prize for Hancock might have been an attempt to tick Winehouse off. A little:

Hancock's win may have been a case of the Recording Academy's older voters picking a venerated veteran over a troubled newcomer and a brash hip-hop star [Kanye West].

Yeah, that'd be it - "you can have five prizes, and an expensive high-profile satellite linkup, young Winehouse, but there's no album of the year for you, that'll show you."

Anyway, isn't it a bit spiteful of the paper to assume that Hancock got the prize because the academy was choosing to not give the thing to someone else? Couldn't it be they gave Herbie Hancock the prize because, you know, they liked his record?

USA Today quotes Entertainment Weekly's Chris Willman to bolster its case:
"Evidently, the most conservative voters — and there are a lot of them — got too distracted by her image problems to see that she created a classic."

Aha. Only she did win five prizes, didn't she, Chris?
"Who knew the voters would be this brave?" Willman says. "(The Recording Academy) makes a big deal out of social responsibility, particularly in regard to their anti-drug programs. I figured they'd be too scared to reward someone who looked to all the world like an unwilling candidate for one of those programs — since voting closed before she went into rehab. But with these wins, they said art comes first, which is as it should be."

Except, erm, for the album category, then.

Thank god they got Amy onboard, though, otherwise the event would have been hanging on Alicia Keys playing piano with a back projection of an out of proportion Frank Sinatra and someone winning a competition to have her violin drowned out by the Foo Fighters.

There's an enormous number of live Grammy Blogs slewing about the internet this year - proving that quantity and quality aren't actually the same thing. Which could be scrawled across the tickets for the Grammy supper. There are, however, some very good ones - Stereogum's, for example.

And who'd have thought that Madonna would win something in 2007? Some sort of made-up best DVD of a tour prize or something, but, hey, she's still got it. Just. Clinging on with the claws.

Almost unmentioned, so we'll mention them: The White Stripes managed two awards; and The Chemical Brothers picked up a prize, too.

Winners in full:

Record Of The Year
(Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s), if other than the artist.)

* Rehab
Amy Winehouse
Mark Ronson, producer; Tom Elmhirst, Vaughan Merrick, Dom Morley, Mark Ronson & Gabriel Roth, engineers/mixers
Track from: Back To Black
[Universal Republic Records]

Album Of The Year
(Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s)/Mixer(s) & Mastering Engineer(s), if other than the artist.)

* River: The Joni Letters
Herbie Hancock
Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza & Tina Turner, featured artists; Herbie Hancock & Larry Klein, producers; Helik Hadar, engineer/mixer; Bernie Grundman, mastering engineer

Song Of The Year
(A Songwriter(s) Award. A song is eligible if it was first released or if it first achieved prominence during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Rehab
Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse)
Track from: Back To Black
[Universal Republic Records; Publisher: EMI Music Publishing]

Best New Artist
(For a new artist who releases, during the Eligibility Year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.)

* Amy Winehouse

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Rehab
Amy Winehouse
Track from: Back To Black
[Universal Republic Records]

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* What Goes Around...Comes Around
Justin Timberlake

Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For established duos or groups, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Makes Me Wonder
Maroon 5
Track from: It Won't Be Soon Before Long
[Octone/A&M Records]

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals
(For a collaborative performance, with vocals, by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
[Rounder Records]

Best Pop Instrumental Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* One Week Last Summer
Joni Mitchell
Track from: Shine
[Hear Music]

Best Pop Instrumental Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

* The Mix-Up
Beastie Boys
[Capitol Records]

Best Pop Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Back To Black
Amy Winehouse
[Universal Republic Records]

Best Dance Recording
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances. Vocal or Instrumental. Singles or tracks only.)

* LoveStoned/I Think She Knows
Justin Timberlake
Nate (Danja) Hills, Timbaland & Justin Timberlake, producers; Jimmy Douglass & Timbaland, mixers
Track from: FutureSex/LoveSounds

Best Electronic/Dance Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.)

* We Are The Night
The Chemical Brothers

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Call Me Irresponsible
Michael Bublé
[143 Records/Reprise]

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Radio Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen
Track from: Magic

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Icky Thump
The White Stripes
Track from: Icky Thump
[Third Man/Warner Bros.]

Best Hard Rock Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* The Pretender
Foo Fighters
[Roswell/RCA Records]

Best Metal Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Final Six
Track from: Christ Illusion
[American Recording/Columbia]

Best Rock Instrumental Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Includes Rock, Hard Rock and Metal. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Once Upon A Time In The West
Bruce Springsteen
Track from: We All Love Ennio Morricone
[Sony Classical]

Best Rock Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. Includes Rock, Hard Rock & Metal songs. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Radio Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)
Track from: Magic
[Columbia; Publisher: Bruce Springsteen]

Best Rock Album
(Vocal or Instrumental. Includes Hard Rock and Metal.)

* Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Foo Fighters
[Roswell/RCA Records]

Best Alternative Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Icky Thump
The White Stripes
[Third Man/Warner Bros.]

Best Female R&B Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* No One
Alicia Keys
[J Records/MBK Entertainment]

Best Male R&B Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Future Baby Mama
Track from: Planet Earth
[Columbia/NPG Records]

Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Disrespectful
Chaka Khan Featuring Mary J. Blige

Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* In My Songs
Gerald Levert
Track from: In My Songs

Best Urban/Alternative Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Daydreamin'
Lupe Fiasco Featuring Jill Scott
Track from: Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
[1st & 15th/Atlantic]

Best R&B Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* No One
Dirty Harry, Kerry Brothers & Alicia Keys, songwriters (Alicia Keys)
[J Records/MBK Entertainment; Publishers: Lellow Productions/EMI April Music, Book Of Daniel Music/EMI Music Publishing, D. Harry Productions]

Best R&B Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Funk This
Chaka Khan
[Burgundy Records]

Best Contemporary R&B Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Because Of You
[Def Jam Recordings]

Best Rap Solo Performance
(For a solo Rap performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Stronger
Kanye West
Track from: Graduation
[Roc-A-Fella Records]

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group
(For duo, group or collaborative performances of Rap only. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Southside
Common Featuring Kanye West
Track from: Finding Forever

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
(For a Rap/Sung collaborative performance by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Umbrella
Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z
Track from: Good Girl Gone Bad
[Def Jam Recordings]

Best Rap Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Good Life
Aldrin Davis, Mike Dean, Faheem Najm & Kanye West, songwriters (J. Ingram & Q. Jones, songwriters)(Kanye West Featuring T-Pain)
Track from: Graduation
[Roc-A-Fella; Publishers: Yellow Brick Road Music/Eiseman Music/EMI Blackwood Music/Please Gimme My Publishing/Careers BMG Music Publishing, Warner-Tamerlane Publishing]

Best Rap Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Graduation
Kanye West
[Roc-A-Fella Records]

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Before He Cheats
Carrie Underwood
Track from: Some Hearts
[19 Recordings/Arista Nashville]

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
(For a solo vocal performance. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Stupid Boy
Keith Urban
Track from: Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing
[Capitol Records Nashville]

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals
(For established duos or groups with vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* How Long
[Eagles Recording Co. II]

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals
(For a collaborative performance, with vocals, by artists who do not normally perform together. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Lost Highway
Willie Nelson & Ray Price
Track from: Last Of The Breed
[Lost Highway Records]

Best Country Instrumental Performance
(For solo, duo, group or collaborative performances, without vocals. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Throttleneck
Brad Paisley
Track from: 5th Gear
[Arista Nashville]

Best Country Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Before He Cheats
Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)
Track from: Some Hearts
[19 Recordings/Arista Nashville; Publishers: Big Loud Shirt Industries, Mighty Underdog Music/Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing]

Best Country Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* These Days
Vince Gill
[MCA Nashville]

Best Bluegrass Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* The Bluegrass Diaries
Jim Lauderdale
[Yep Roc Records]

Best New Age Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Crestone
Paul Winter Consort
[Living Music]

Best Contemporary Jazz Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

* River: The Joni Letters
Herbie Hancock

Best Jazz Vocal Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Avant Gershwin
Patti Austin
[Rendezvous Entertainment]

Best Jazz Instrumental Solo
(For an instrumental jazz solo performance. Two equal performers on one recording may be eligible as one entry. If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter's name is in parenthesis for identification. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Anagram
Michael Brecker, soloist
Track from: Pilgrimage
[Heads Up International]

Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

* Pilgrimage
Michael Brecker
[Heads Up International]

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
(For large jazz ensembles, including big band sounds. Albums must contain 51% or more INSTRUMENTAL tracks.)

* A Tale Of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina)
Terence Blanchard
[Blue Note]

Best Latin Jazz Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Funk Tango
Paquito D'Rivera Quintet?
[Paquito Records]

Best Gospel Performance
(For solo, duo, group as collaborative performances. Singles or tracks with vocal containing Gospel lyrics. All genres of Gospel music are eligible.)(Tie)

* Blessed & Highly Favored
The Clark Sisters
Track from: Live - One Last Time
[EMI Gospel]

* Never Gonna Break My Faith
Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige (Featuring The Harlem Boys Choir)
Track from: Bobby: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
[Island Def Jam]

Best Gospel Song
(A Songwriter(s) Award. For Song Eligibility Guidelines see Category #3. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Blessed & Highly Favored
Karen Clark-Sheard, songwriter (The Clark Sisters)
Track from: Live - One Last Time
[EMI Gospel; Publisher: K. Sheard's Melody]

Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Before The Daylight's Shot
Ashley Cleveland
[204 Records]

Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* A Deeper Level
Israel And New Breed
[Integrity Music]

Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Salt Of The Earth
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
[Skaggs Family Records]

Best Traditional Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Live - One Last Time
The Clark Sisters
[EMI Gospel]

Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album
(For albums containing 51% or more playing time of VOCAL tracks.)

* Free To Worship
Fred Hammond

Best Latin Pop Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* El Tren De Los Momentos
Alejandro Sanz
[Warner Music Latina]

Best Latin Rock Or Alternative Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* No Hay Espacio
[Machete Music]

Best Latin Urban Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Residente O Visitante
Calle 13

Best Tropical Latin Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* La Llave De Mi Corazón
Juan Luis Guerra
[EMI Televisa]

Best Mexican/Mexican-American Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* 100% Mexicano
Pepe Aguilar
[EMI Televisa]

Best Tejano Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Before The Next Teardrop Falls
Little Joe & La Familia
[TDI Records]

Best Norteño Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Detalles Y Emociones
Los Tigres Del Norte
[Fonovisa Records]

Best Banda Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Te Va A Gustar
El Chapo

Best Traditional Blues Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Last Of The Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas
Henry James Townsend, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, Robert Lockwood, Jr. & David "Honeyboy" Edwards
[The Blue Shoe Project]

Best Contemporary Blues Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* The Road To Escondido
JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
[Reprise Records/Warner Music Group]

Best Traditional Folk Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Dirt Farmer
Levon Helm
[Dirt Farmer Music/Vanguard Records]

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Washington Square Serenade
Steve Earle
[New West Records]

Best Native American Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Totemic Flute Chants
Johnny Whitehorse
[Silver Wave Records]

Best Hawaiian Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Treasures Of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Various Artists
Daniel Ho, George Kahumoku, Jr., Paul Konwiser & Wayne Wong, producers
[Daniel Ho Creations]

Best Zydeco Or Cajun Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Live! Worldwide
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience
[AIM Trading Group P/L]

Best Reggae Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Mind Control
Stephen Marley
[Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic]

Best Traditional World Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* African Spirit
Soweto Gospel Choir
[Shanachie Entertainment]

Best Contemporary World Music Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Djin Djin
Angelique Kidjo
[Razor & Tie Direct/Starbucks Entertainment]

Best Polka Album
(Vocal or Instrumental.)

* Come Share The Wine
Jimmy Sturr And His Orchestra

Best Musical Album For Children
(For albums consisting of predominantly music or song vs. spoken word.)

* A Green And Red Christmas
The Muppets
Ted Kryczko & Ed Mitchell, producers
[Walt Disney Records]

Best Spoken Word Album For Children
(For albums consisting of predominantly spoken word vs. music or song.)

* Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
Jim Dale
[Listening Library]

Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling)

* The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream
Barack Obama
[Random House Audio]

Best Comedy Album
(For comedy recordings, spoken or musical)

* The Distant Future
Flight Of The Conchords
[Sub Pop]

Best Musical Show Album

(Award to the Album Producer(s), and to the Lyricist(s) & Composer(s) of 51% or more of a new score. (Artist, Lyricist & Composer names appear in parentheses.))

* Spring Awakening
Duncan Sheik, producer; Duncan Sheik, composer; Steven Sater, lyricist (Original Broadway Cast With Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele & Others)
[Decca Broadway]

Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
(Award to the Artist(s) and/or Producer(s) of a majority of the tracks on the album, or to the individual(s) actively responsible for the concept and musical direction and for the selection of artists, songs and producers, as applicable.)

* Love
(The Beatles)
George Martin & Giles Martin, producers
[Apple Records/Capitol Records]

Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
(Award to Composer(s) for an original score created specifically for, or as a companion to, a current legitimate motion picture, television show or series or other visual media.)

* Ratatouille
Michael Giacchino, composer
[Walt Disney Records]

Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media
(A Songwriter(s) award. For a song (melody & lyrics) written specifically for a motion picture, television or other visual media, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

* Love You I Do (From Dreamgirls)
Siedah Garrett & Henry Krieger, songwriters (Jennifer Hudson)
Track from: Dreamgirls
[Music World Music/Sony Urban Music/Columbia/Sony Music Soundtrax; Publishers: Miroku Music/Williamson Music/Black Chick Music Publishing, SKG Songs]

Best Instrumental Composition
(A Composer's Award for an original composition (not an adaptation) first released during the Eligibility Year. Singles or Tracks only.)

* Cerulean Skies
Maria Schneider, composer (Maria Schneider Orchestra)
Track from: Sky Blue

Best Instrumental Arrangement
(An Arranger's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* In A Silent Way
Vince Mendoza, arranger (Joe Zawinul)
Track from: Brown Street
[Heads Up International]

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
(An Arranger's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* I'm Gonna Live Till I Die
John Clayton, arranger (Queen Latifah)
Track from: Trav'lin' Light

Best Recording Package

* Cassadaga
Zachary Nipper, art director (Bright Eyes)
[Saddle Creek]

Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package

* What It Is!: Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
Masaki Koike, art director (Various Artists)

Best Album Notes

* John Work, III: Recording Black Culture
Bruce Nemerov, album notes writer (Various Artists)
[Spring Fed Records]

Best Historical Album

* The Live Wire - Woody Guthrie In Performance 1949
Nora Guthrie & Jorge Arévalo Mateus, compilation producers; Jamie Howarth, Steve Rosenthal, Warren Russell-Smith & Dr. Kevin Short, mastering engineers (Woody Guthrie)
[Woody Guthrie Publications]

Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
(An Engineer's Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.))

* Beauty & Crime
Tchad Blake, Cameron Craig, Emery Dobyns & Jimmy Hogarth, engineers (Suzanne Vega)
[Blue Note]

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
(A Producer's Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses.))

* Mark Ronson
• Back To Black (Amy Winehouse) (T)
• Littlest Things (Lily Allen) (T)
• Rehab (Amy Winehouse) (T)
• Version (Mark Ronson) (A)
• You Know I'm No Good (Amy Winehouse) (T)

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
(A Remixer's Award. (Artists names appear in parentheses for identification.) Singles or Tracks only.)

* Bring The Noise (Benny Benassi Sfaction Remix)
Benny Benassi, remixer (Public Enemy)
Track from: Bring The Noise/Give It Up EP
[Ultra Records]

Best Surround Sound Album
(For vocal or instrumental albums. Albums only.

* Love
Paul Hicks, surround mix engineer; Tim Young, surround mastering engineer; George Martin & Giles Martin, surround producers (The Beatles)
[Apple/Capitol Records]

Best Engineered Album, Classical
(An Engineer's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.))

* Grechaninov: Passion Week
John Newton, engineer (Charles Bruffy, Phoenix Bach Choir & Kansas City Chorale)

Producer Of The Year, Classical
(A Producer's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.))

* Judith Sherman
• American Virtuosa: Tribute To Maud Powell (Rachel Barton Pine & Matthew Hagle)
• From Barrelhouse To Broadway: The Musical Odyssey Of Joe Jordan (Rick Benjamin & The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra)
• Górecki: String Quartet No. 3 '...Songs Are Sung' (Kronos Quartet)
• Strange Imaginary Animals (Eighth Blackbird)
• Tchaikovsky: Three String Quartets, Souvenir De Florence (Ying Quartet)

Best Classical Album
(Award to the Artist(s) and to the Album Producer(s) if other than the Artist.

* Tower: Made In America
Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Tim Handley, producer; Tim Handley, engineer/mixer (Nashville Symphony)

Best Orchestral Performance
(Award to the Conductor and to the Orchestra.)

* Tower: Made In America
Leonard Slatkin, conductor (Nashville Symphony)

Best Opera Recording
(Award to the Conductor, Album Producer(s) and Principal Soloists.)

* Humperdinck: Hansel & Gretel
Sir Charles Mackerras, conductor; Rebecca Evans, Jane Henschel & Jennifer Larmore; Brian Couzens, producer (Sarah Coppen, Diana Montague & Sarah Tynan; New London Children's Choir; Philharmonia Orchestra)
[Chandos Opera In English]

Best Choral Performance
(Award to the Choral Conductor, and to the Orchestra Conductor if an Orchestra is on the recording, and to the Choral Director or Chorus Master if applicable.)

* Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
Simon Rattle, conductor; Simon Halsey, chorus master (Thomas Quasthoff & Dorothea Röschmann; Rundfunkchor Berlin; Berliner Philharmoniker)
[EMI Classics]

Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)
(Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor.)

* Barber/Korngold/Walton: Violin Concertos
Bramwell Tovey, conductor; James Ehnes (Vancouver Symphony Orchestra)
[CBC Records]

Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra)
(Award to the Instrumental Soloist.)

* Beethoven Sonatas, Vol. 3
Garrick Ohlsson
[Bridge Records, Inc.]

Best Chamber Music Performance
(Award to the Artists.)

* Strange Imaginary Animals
Eighth Blackbird
[Cedille Records]

Best Small Ensemble Performance
(Award to the Ensemble (and to the Conductor.))

* Stravinsky: Apollo, Concerto In D; Prokofiev: 20 Visions Fugitives
Yuri Bashmet, conductor; Moscow Soloists
[Onyx Classics]

Best Classical Vocal Performance
(Award to the Vocal Soloist(s).

* Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (James Levine; Boston Symphony Orchestra)
[Nonesuch Records]

Best Classical Contemporary Composition
(A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.))

* Made In America
Joan Tower (Leonard Slatkin, conductor; Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
Track from: Tower: Made In America

Best Classical Crossover Album
(Award to the Artist(s) and/or to the Conductor.

* A Love Supreme: The Legacy Of John Coltrane
Turtle Island Quartet

Best Short Form Music Video
(For an individual track or single promotional clip. Award to the Artist and to the Video Director/Producer.)

* God's Gonna Cut You Down
Johnny Cash
Tony Kaye, video director; Rachel Curl, video producer
[American Records/Lost Highway Records]

Best Long Form Music Video

* The Confessions Tour
Jonas Akerlund, video director; Sara Martin & David May, video producers
[Warner Bros.]

There is, however, a warning from history for Amy Winehouse. The last time a newcomer did so well at the Grammys, it was Christopher Cross. Indeed, he did a bit better, winning all his categories. It wasn't the start of an especially glittering career.