Saturday, April 12, 2008

Xfm's respite might be temporary

Although reports yesterday suggested that GCap had decided to keep the provincial Xfm stations in its portfolio, apparently that's not the long term plan: we understand on Thursday management at the non-London branches of Xfm were told they were being kept for four months - through the festival season - before being auctioned off to the highest bidder come the autumn.

Blood Red Shoes weekend: I Wish I Was Someone Better

Continuing our weekend with Blood Red Shoes, here they are doing I Wish I Was Someone Better at a Tokyo UK rock event:

[Part of the Blood Red Shoes weekend]

EMI: Does anyone know how they're doing?

It's hard to judge how Terra Firma's makeover of EMI is going looking from the music end, so it's helpful we get a little peek round the back today. But the financial state of the company isn't much clearer - and that's causing problems of its own.

Citigroup, the bank who put up most of the cash for the buyout, is having trouble selling the loans on:

Citigroup financed Terra Firma’s buy-out of the British music company last year, leaving it with about $5bn in EMI loans – one of its largest single exposures.

The bank tried to include those loans in a $12bn portfolio that it plans to sell at a discount to private equity firms. However, Citigroup was forced to remove the EMI loans from the package after it was unable to provide adequate financial information to potential buyers, people familiar with the matter say.

The assumption watching Guy Hands hacking away at the company has been that he might not know anything about music, but he's good with the finances. It looks a bit like the banks have been watching him doing the finances and assumed everything will be alright because he understands the business.

Ever further comebacks: Jet Bronx is back

Trotting down the busy carriageway to reunion now: Jet Bronx and the New Forbidden.

Yes, Jet Bronx - or Loyd Grossman as he's known when he's making those cook-in sauces - has got his old punk band back together. It's unknown how long Grossman deliberated, cogitated and digested before getting the boys back together.

We're not sure how punk a band can be when the news of their reunion is broken by the Financial Times.

Darkness at 3AM: Allen claims she was just bursting

Yesterday, both Gordon and the 3AMies carried the 'Lily Allen/Noel Fielding/Johnny Borrell in a toilet' story with vague hints about drug taking. Only the 3AM Girls got a call from Allen explaining that there were no hi-jinks, only straining bladders:

"Everyone now wants to know what I was doing in there. But I'm telling you, I wasn't doing anything wrong, I'm an innocent bystander.

"Yes, I was in the men's toilets, but I always go to the men's toilets when there's a huge queue in the ladies."

Lily then insisted she never even got as far as finding a cubicle.

She trilled: "I did go in there and ask the attendant if I could go, and he said, 'No, you can't' and I walked out."

It was all a terrible coincidence then.

Nobody at the Mirror asks her how she was out having all these japes while, erm, being too unwell to judge the Orange Book Prize.

Glastonbury numbers: Worse than we guessed

Reuters reports today on the figures for Glastonbury tickets this year:

Festival chief Michael Eavis is mystified by the lethargic sales. In February, roughly 225,000 people registered for tickets. Last year, the corresponding registration -- a prerequisite to buying tickets -- was 400,000.

After tickets went public April 6, only 100,000 were snapped up, prompting Eavis to reopen registration two days later. Last year, the entire allocation of 137,500 tickets sold out in about two hours.

Blimey - somewhere between a quarter and a third of tickets left on the shelves, and nearly a fifty per cent drop in registrations.

Michael Eavis is puzzled:
"Why did all those people preregister then?" Eavis asks. "Something is happening somewhere."

The something he points his finger at is the weather, of course - conveniently, something out of his control. The simple, obvious fact - that people will preregister to keep their options open - doesn't seem to have occurred to him; nor that the real worry - for a man who told the Guardian the other week that he's got about £1.3million in debt hanging on the festival site - is not that a few people register and not buy, but that so few people bothered to register in the first place.

Eavis' dream for years was to find a way of making Glastonbury impenetrable to people without tickets - it looks like he's got his wish. But at a hell of a cost.

Who knew? Mariah Carey doesn't have an interest in physics

Everyone - by which we mean "nobody at all" - took Mariah Carey's decision to title her new album E=MC2 to demonstrate that she has a deep interest in physics.

Surprisingly - by which we mean unsurprisingly - this turns out not to be the case:

"Einstein's theory? Physics? Me? Hello! I even failed remedial math. I could not pass seventh grade math even in the lowest class with the worst kids."

Even though it's only Mariah Carey, how heartbreaking is it to see someone parading and celebrating her ignorance?

So, what does the album title mean, then? Mariah explains:
She explained that the album title meant "'The Emancipation Of Mimi' to the second power", referring to her 2005 album, which she believes she has surpassed.

But... E=MC2 doesn't have any relation to that, does it? Unless 'E' is actually the name of the album, but then why would "MC" stand for the "Emancipation of Mimi"? And, after all, MC2 is (M times C) squared, so shouldn't the title mean to refer to something like, say, Mariah combined with cheese raised to a higher power?

CSS splits a little

CSS bassist Ira is off, as she can't square the carbon-footprint of the band with her conscience:

“I decided to move forward and dedicate more of my time to fashion and other projects. Just a big change of priorities, as I will never stop playing music.

“I am also a bit worried about climate change. People should care more and do something about it. I decided to fly less.

“CSS will always be in my heart. They said goodbye to their bass player, but they won a new life time fan. In health and sickness, in happiness and so forth. Blah blah blah, so help us God.”

Okay, it looks like the desire to do other things than tour with CSS - and, god knows, she must have bassed her way through Lets Make Love a thousand times a thousand times by now, at every festival on the planet - but the green angle makes for a more interesting story.

Blood Red Shoes weekend: It's Getting Boring...

Continuing our celebration of Blood Red Shoes, here's the promo for It's Getting Boring By The Sea:

[Part of the Blood Red Shoes weekend]

Ringbacks: Mobile and music industries clash over cash

As the ringtone market gravytrain starts to disappear, mobile and the music companies are hoping that the next cash cow will be ringback tones.

This is what the person who rings you hears while they're waiting for you to answer - the hope is that you'll pay two bucks a go for music that you'll never hear and that will probably drive the person calling you batty. Will your gran know that she's actually waiting for you to pick up if she hears WASP blaring out her telephone?

The trouble (or possibly lucky thing) is, though, that any hopes of growing this market is falling apart as the record companies and mobile operators in the US have spats over money.

The product is a confusing sell, but neither side is that keen to underwrite the marketing; meanwhile, the record companies are grumpy because they only make money on the music part of the deal, not on the network charges. The mobile companies aren't keen to share revenue from the money made delivering the tones, on the grounds that the copyright holders don't actually do anything connected to the delivery. It's part of the new music industry that they seem to think they have a right to cash not just for signing over copyrights, but also for anything that's done with the music - like a tomato farmer turning up and demanding cash from Pizza Hut as they've used his tomatoes in their sauce.

Then there's the problem of, even if you do try to market the concept, no two operators use the same branding:

"Everybody calls it something different, and the only way to get it is on the deck," RCA Records director of mobile marketing Sean Rosenberg says. "How do we message this to our fans?"

For a moment, you almost wonder if RCA Records is suggesting that their mobile marketing department has its own fanbase, until you realise that anyone who uses the phrase "how do we message this" instead of "how do we tell people" is unlikely to be using English in any way recognisable to normal people.

The story of ringback tones is instructive, demonstrating the problems of the music industry in getting to grips with new markets. It's going to be similar in all the areas of handset based sales. Of course, in time, these problems will be sorted out - but since "mobile" as a distinct, wall-gardened concept is already a market for which time is running out, by the time the majors work out they shouldn't kill it through greed, everyone will have proper full internet anyway, and be enjoying bitorrent on the streets.

Embed and breakfast man: Blood Red Shoes

With Blood Red Shoes' new album Box Of Secrets due on Monday, what better time than to spend some time looking at the band playing their instruments and singing and stuff?

We'll kick off with ADHD, live from the Artrocker bit of the Camden Crawl last year:

More videos from Blood Red Shoes to come
It's Getting Boring By The Sea - promo
I Wish I Was Someone Better - live in Tokyo

How dim do the Daily Mail believe their readers are?

Getting excited by "the latest internet craze" for expressing lyrics as graphics, the Mail sets its readers a challenge:

So can you name the song and singer for each of these? Click on the image for a clue.

This is the general standard of difficulty - basically, it's reading the name of the song from a picture. And, yes, they really do provide a clue for people finding it difficult.

Although the clue is an uncaptioned picture of Rod Stewart - so, a great help to people who are unable to read "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" off a screen but are able to recognise Rod Stewart.

But then perhaps the Mail has good reason to think that its readers couldn't spot the obvious in front of their noses. On the same page, there's a link to Jon Snow's amusing 'Jonrolling' take on RickRolling from Channel 4 news:
Never gonna live this down: Jon Snow and his cringeworthy Internet homage to Rick Astley
The newsreader gives an hilarious rendition of 80s hit Never Gonna Give You Up

So, is it cringeworthy or hilarious? It can't be both, can it?

Gordon in the morning: No new Amy album

Gordon's readers might have assumed, from all his talk a couple of weeks ago about "listen to Amy's new songs" that there might have been a new album on the horizon. Anyone with half a mind would have realised the chances of a new record this year - with the artist incapacitated and the old one still selling strongly in the US off the back of the Grammys - was unlikely.

But Gordon's still surprised, reporting there's not going to be an album made from scratch this year.

Madonna's purchase of a new flat gets a Bizarre treatment, with Emily Smith trumpeting this as:

New split talk: Madge buys flat

But then, as the piece concedes:
The superstar singer, 49, has won a legal fight to buy a third £3.5million apartment in the Manhattan block where she already has a huge two-storey pad.

So, if she was at breaking point, it's not as if she didn't have anywhere to go before this. And, we suspect, if she needed to book into a Travelodge for a couple of nights, it wouldn't exactly break the bank, would it?

Meanwhile, Gordon has short shrift for the Kooks, as he reads on a website Luke Pritchard's explanation of why Max Rafferty quit:
“Things got a bit much for him, I think. Not to get some fucking violin out . . . but it can be really difficult being in a band, especially when you’re like that.”

I was beginning to enjoy Luke’s honesty until he said that. Don’t give me that “it’s difficult being in a band” crap.

Millions of people would love to swap places with them.

Well... yes, they might, Gordon, but that doesn't make it any easier having an addictive personality being in one.

Friday, April 11, 2008

For those less fortunate, from Britney

Aah, the generosity of the rich. How moved Britney Spears was, seeing children in need on American Idol Give Back. She rang in an offer of about thirteen grand to the pledge line, with no thought other than doing some good. We're sure the "leaking" of the donation to InStyle magazine wasn't part of the original plan.

Thirteen thousand quid might seem awfully small for a woman of Britney's means, but then again, we thought she wasn't actually in charge of her own financial affairs at the moment. Let's hope her people don't have to make one of those phonecalls telling the poor kiddies that the pledge of cash came from a woman who has had her chequebook taken off her.

We'll Meat again

Electrogoth seniority alert: Meat Beat Manifesto have just shot out a new album, Autoimmune. It's their first since 2005 - although I'd have put money on them having been away for much longer than that - and supplies seem a little, um, sticky, shall we say?

Kraftwerk: "Our humourless faces are not a pose"

Kraftwerk's carefully nurtured reputation is looking slightly shabbier today: they're suing Kling Klang, seeing a band named after their studio named after an onomatopoeia as some sort of risk to their business. No, really:

“It is not like ‘Kling Klang’ is a brand name, like ‘Xerox’,” [says Kling Klang] manager Stefania Paolini. “It is an idiomatic German phrase, so we really don’t see the substance of their claim. We were aware of Kraftwerk’s notorious bent in sueing people and we were expecting the notice from one moment to another since we first stepped on German soil.

“And they way they have notified the claim was even funny… We received the letter in the form of a fax from some random promoter and the notice had all our addresses on it, kinda ‘we know where you live’ style.”

Kraftwerk have registered klingklang as a trademark, although - the sharper eyed amongst you will spot - that's not quite the same as the unregisterable kling klang.

Islands on the stream

Streaming off a server in a bid to tempt you into purchasing a 7" version: The Constantines and Feist doing Islands In The Stream.

To be fair, it doesn't quite work - the song is desperate to break out from the slower pacing, which makes it a bit like watching a greyhound on a leash and Leslie sounds a little bit too peaky set against the Constantine's mumbling delivery. But, hey, it's certainly no Ebony and Ivory.

Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can - but check the label first

The long-contentious status of the promo CD - seen by record labels as a way of spreading knowledge of bands amongst tastemakers and by journalists and DJs as their beer fund - has come to court. Universal Music Group is suing Troy Augusto, who sells on unwanted promo records through eBay.

Universal contends that the little label "this disc remains the property of Universal" is enough to make selling the records on illegal; the counterview is that if you send out thousands of discs, without keeping records of where they go, and without any expectation of return, you can't complain if the recipients sell them on. Wonderfully, Universal even claims that throwing the disc away is a breach of the rules - presumably, burying the discs in a wooden chest on a desert island, in the style of a pirate, would constitute, well, piracy.

Demonstrating that it takes all sorts

The George Lamb show has been much better this week, although that's mainly because he's not been on it. Sure, Pete Mitchell isn't the greatest dj, but it's nice to hear an interview with a Hub band that doesn't consist of Lamb repeating everything his interviewee has just said.

Still, George Lamb isn't universally despised - there's actually a petition calling for Lamb to remain on the network, with over 2000 signatures already gathered. They're about 800 shy of the number gathered calling for him to be kicked out.

Xfm reprieved - sort of

Not that they haven't got a bloody clue what they're doing, but having put the non-London Xfm stations up for sale in February, GCap have now decided not to flog them off after all.

It's probably not actually that good news for music fans, as having seen the plans for making Galaxy a quasi-networked mush laid by GCap's new owners, it's likely that Xfm will be in for similar treatment. They'll probably be back on the market by Christmas. Or closed. Or rebranded and formatted.

H from Steps takes on the criminal justice system

Despite his showing on Celebrity Big Brother - where he came across as having rather more dimensions than you might have thought - it's a bit of a surprise to discover H 'H from Steps' from Steps leading calls to unseat a JP.

Ian Watkins - presumably he wasn't known as "I" when he was in Steps because it might have confused the others, who sometimes call themselves I - was making a documentary about growing up gay and alone in a Welsh village. It's called... oh, you know what it's going to be called, don't you? During the course of filming, he voxpopped what he took to be a twinkling old man, who shared his broad views on homosexuality:

We haven’t got much time for them. Well, I think probably it’s a suspicion of the mainstream that they perhaps will interfere with young people and so on and that’s historically been the case.

“That is the danger. Paedophiles, not necessarily but they do, don’t they, that’s the reality.”

The twinkly old homophobe turned out to be magistrate Byron Butler - the Western Mail describes him as "married", in case you couldn't guess - and H isn't pleased:
“I was dumb-founded by his comments and I was even more shocked when I found out he is a magistrate sitting in judgement on people.

“There is no way I believe he can be fair and impartial with people when he makes comments about gay people being paedophiles. It is just so outrageous. There is absolutely no evidence to back up what he says and it is very offensive. The world has changed and Wales has changed so much.”

The Office of Judicial Complaints is now looking into Butler's position, during which Butler has stepped down. Whoever would have thought a programme named after a comedy catchphrase, presented by a song-and-dance man, would actually improve the quality of a nation's justice?

High days and Hallidays

Those of you who are excited about the return of Curve's Toni Halliday with her Chatelaine project are just about to get even more excited: Auralgasms internet radio has her on live this Sunday at 10pm EST (four in the morning in London). It says "talking" rather than "playing", but who knows?

Unbreak My Heart

Toni Braxton - who has had heart problems in the past - has been cancelling gigs this week after she was hospitalised with chest pains. Her people are hoping she'll be well enough to pick up the tour next week.

Something to listen to: Tilly And The Wall

We had been going to work up some London Marathon related "hitting the wall" joke for this, but then decided not to: a taste of Tilly And The Wall's new album, O, in the shape of an mp3 of Cacophony.

Robbie Williams is not on the shortlist for presenting Today

This should be interesting: Robbie Williams and Jon Ronson have teamed up to make a programme about UFOs for Radio 4. Robbie Williams is known for a long-standing interest in extra-terrestrial life; Jon Ronson has carved a niche of making programmes about eccentric obsessives, gently unpicking their fascinations. There's a preview in this week's Guardian Weekend - because Ronson knows how to use his material to best effect. Or maximum earning potential, anyway.

Embed and breakfast man: Deus

The new Deus single - we could tell you about it, how it's called Architect and a return to a more industrial sound and all that - but instead, we'll show you:

New album Vantage Point is out on the 28th.

Manson: won't grin, album in purgatory

Whatever happened to that solo Shirley Manson album, you might be wondering? It turns out that the label aren't letting it out dressed like that:

"I've been working on solo material but I don't actually have anything coming out, although I'm working on it. Unfortunately, I'm at a bit of an impasse with my record label.

"I played some of the stuff to them not long ago and they described it as being very noir. At the time, I took the comment as being a huge compliment. That they liked the intensity of my material. But then I realised it wasn't intended as a compliment.

"But I'm 41 - I'm a woman not a kid. I have no interest in making silly pop music and I don't want to wear a silly sexy outfit and sell myself short.

"I'm sure it will all get sorted out in the end. But I do think record companies, in general, have different ideas about how they promote women.

"In the end, it is down to each and every woman to fight to be treated as an individual. I just want to be who I am."

These things are so much easier if you just put on a bloody catsuit and do the duet with Justin Timberlake, Shirely.

Bravely, Warners refused to comment on the story to the Daily Record.

Darkness at 3AM: Cubicle rats

The 3AM Girls also have the story about Noel, Borrell and Allen in the toilets, but they're even more nervous about the heavy-handed drug hints. At least Gordon put his nudge-nudge wink-wink in his own mouth; the 3AMies make the "drugs" allusion come from the mouth of "one partygoer":

"Who knows what they were all up to in there... but it certainly got up someone's nose!"

If you have toes, prepare to curl them now. Underneath perhaps one of the least interesting headlines ever committed to print:
Agyness Deyn wears prom dress to her birthday party

the 3AM Girls report that iD threw a party for her "with a northern theme."

As if the thought of braying metropolitan fashionistas dressing up as "northerners" wasn't bad enough, the Daily Mirror finds a way to add insult to injury:
[S]he wore a pretty prom dress. What, no flat cap!

It's not recorded if the ate coal during the party.

Gordon in the morning: Rowling in the aisles

We know Gordon's sometimes struggling to fill his pages, but today he's got a story so thin it could fall down a cattlegrid. It's a picture of JK Rowling and her publicist which, at the angle and moment it's taken, makes it look the publicist might have his hand on her breast. Until you look for more than two seconds and can see from the shadow that the hand is nowhere near the bosom of the wizard-writer.

Of course, you don't have to accept our word for it. Even Gordon's attempt to talk up the paper acknowledges that he's running an optical illusion under the cover of a story:

But red-faced JK, 42 — who picked up the Outstanding Achievement gong on Wednesday night — had publicist Mark Hutchinson on hand to cover her up.

Shame it looked so like a grope.

Shame it didn't, actually. Well, in the sense that if you're going to run a picture of someone supposedly looking like they're groping someone, it would be better if they did look like they were.

Gordon's big story is the aftermath of Noel Fielding's Teenage Cancer Charity trust gig, which saw Lily Allen, Noel and Johnny Borrell being evicted from toilets, supposedly. Gordon taps his nose:
I can’t think what that trio were doing together in a loo.

Lily claims she was dodging the queue in the ladies. I’ll take her word for it.

Smart also returns to the subject of Calum Best's black eye, as some of his readers have done his job for him and filled in the backstory:
I HAVE solved the CALUM BEST black eye riddle — and it’s as obvious as a punch in the face.

No, you haven't "solved" anything, Gordon. You asked if anyone knew what had happened, and apparently a large number of people told you. That's not "solving", that's "being told". Sherlock Holmes didn't solve crimes by asking Watson if he knew what had happened, waiting until Watson told him and then saying "ah, yes. I've solved that one, then."

What's more interesting is that Gordon seems to have forgotten about the whole "not condoning violence" bit as he seems quite thrilled telling the tale of a bloke punching Best when he found him talking to his wife.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Elton John campaigns for president

Elton John has been busily raising funds for the Hilary Clinton campaign, while apparently trying to campaign on behalf of Jimmy Carter, too. He took time off to, erm, complain about the Reagan administration's inaction on AIDS which, while admittedly important, is hardly a hot-button issue in the 2008 election.

Venuewatch: CBGB shop opens as protest cries "pants"

The store - it calls itself a "boutique", which is French for "overpriced clothes shop" - that has taken over the address of CBGBs has opened. A small protest gathered outside, with placards:

"One small loss of a music space, one large step for pants"

Or possibly a step for large pants. The pants are not pictured.

Hadouken want to play to the middle classes

Hadouken aren't that impressed by Glastonbury:

"Glastonbury is a bit of a middle class schmooze with Kate Moss look-alikes trying to look their best in Ugg Boots."

So, you'd knock back Emily 'festival guru' Eavis if she came at your with a contract and a cheque?
“It is the king of festivals, so if we were to do it, that would be fantastic.”

Aha. It also seems that - despite writing it off as a sea of Mossalikes in Uggs, Hadouken don't actually know much about the festival. Suggesting reasons for the lack of sell-out:
“I wouldn’t say it is any of those particular headliners, I think it’s a combination of those acts not appealing to a certain person. I don’t think the person who wants to go see the Friday night will maybe want to go see hip-hop on a Saturday night.”

They do realise that you don't actually have to watch all the pyramid stage headliners, don't they?

Wentz-Simpson: A union is announced

It's been confirmed that Pete Wentz, advertising shill from Fall Out Boy and Ashlee Simpson, off of Saturday Night Live's sketch about someone's sister accidentally being booked as a musical guest, are to be married:

She told People magazine: "Yes, we are thrilled to share that we are happily engaged.

"We know there has been a lot of speculation recently about Pete and I and we wanted our fans to be the first to know because you guys are the best."

Presumably, though, Simpson and Wentz's families knew beforehand? So who, exactly, are "the fans" finding out ahead of? "We want the fans to know before we sail off to the Andes to tell the indigent population of our plans - it's only right."

And while we're sure that Wentz's fans are "the best" in many ways, we suspect that what Simpson really means it "we wanted to tell the fans as you guys will have to tune in to watch the series about the wedding on MTV this fall."

Bad news for Global: Radio is easy, not essential

It's a survey, and it's American, but even so: Radio and Internet Newsletter is running a report which says that the main reason people choose to listen to music on the wireless is because it's convenient. As the newsletter asks: with wi-fi in-car online hook-ups becoming more and more plausible, where will that leave radio, then? Global GCap are trying to shape the future of their stations by cutting costs - they might be better off thinking about ways to make it compelling.

Most of these men sing like Suggs

Why you should never regift: Gwen Stefani apparently loves Suggs, and sent him a pair of tickets for her London show last year:

[Gwen] stopped the gig and turned the spotlight on the audience asking, "Where's Suggs? I've heard he's here tonight."

Trouble is, he wasn't: he'd just passed the tickets on to his daughters. He was probably off making fish finger adverts or something.

Cowell: The Brits are snobs

You might recall last month Simon Cowell was telling everyone how it was a good thing Leona Lewis didn't win a Brit:

"I was glad Leona didn't win at the Brits. It was the best thing that could have happened."

Only now, it turns out, he thinks it was a bad thing:
"Leona at The Brits tells you everything about the record business. I believe you should recognise and celebrate success."

Although not doing so was supposedly the best thing that could have happened.

What's really going on here is nothing to do with Leona Lewis, and everything to do with Simon Cowell's feeling that he's the victim of some establishment conspiracy:
"I don't like The Brits, they're too sarcastic. They don't represent what's right in Britain at the moment."

The Brits are too sarcastic? This from a man whose main schtick is delivering pre-written 'witticisms' of a "My Way? You should try it any other way" nature?

And as for "not expressing what's right in Britain" - if that actually means anything - if he's suggesting that the Brits should just give prizes on sales, wouldn't that make them the charts?

It's because the music industry doesn't like us show people, cries Cowell:
I believe you should recognise and celebrate success. You don't sneer at it and it doesn't matter where that artist came from.

"This is the problem. People say, 'Leona can't be serious because she entered X Factor.' They sneer. But shows like X Factor are there because doors have been closed. You have to start changing your attitude - give her one award for God's sake!"

This does miss the somewhat key fact that Lewis was invited to perform in front of the watching many, which hardly suggests the Brits organisers were sneering at her (unless we missed something - was ITV2 simultaneously showing people pointing and laughing?) and, indeed, shortlisted her for a number of awards.

And is it really true to say that X Factor exists to open doors which have otherwise been closed to potential artists? Isn't the ability of labels to generate easy sales off the short-lived backs of Chicos and Gareths doing more harm to the ability of young, talented pop musicians than it does good? Surely part of the reason EMI's regime feels confident about downsizing A&R is because they can just wait until a reality TV star turns up with a camera crew and a lopsided demo of them doing a cover of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful from Granada Reports?

Most of these men seem like subs

The beeping you can hear? That's the temperature being taken of celebrity: With Pete Doherty inside, Liam Gallagher has been drafted in as a replacement for the charity soccer six tournament.

Oh, Liam. Do you remember when you didn't have to wait for someone to miss a probation meeting before you'd be called into a celebrity charity event?

Michael Jackson: Many things, not a killer

The family who were suing Michael Jackson, claiming that their relative died after she was moved from critical care to make way for Jacko, have had their case dismissed.

Darkness at 3AM: Jay-Z is coming

Glastonbury are clearly heavily-humped with The Sun; they've given the Mirror an exclusive interview knocking down Smart's 'Jay-Z no show' scoops.

The Mirror aren't that bothered, though: there's a small piece in 3AM:

Festival guru Emily Eavis told 3am Jay-Z WILL still headline this year's Glastonbury.

She said: "Who wouldn't want the greatest living hip hop artist playing? If we had Coldplay again we'd be criticised."

Blimey, they've got Afrika Bambaataa playing as well, have they?

We love the idea that Emily Eavis is a "festival guru"

Actually, having read the full interview, which the Mirror shovels off as web-only, it's possible the paper thought that was the only usable bit:
“I spoke to his production people yesterday and everyone is gung-ho and totally upbeat about Jay’s appearance here. Obviously, there’s been a lot of hoo-ha about it elsewhere, but the response we’ve had from the public has been incredible.

“We’re just so excited that we’re having a legend on the farm and the overwhelming reaction we’ve had has been really positive, there’s a real buzz.

So, it's a gung-ho buzz despite hoo-ha; a positve response to an upbeat decision which has been incredible.

While Eavis senior was fairly blunt about pointing the finger of blame for the story at the Millennium Dome, Emily's not quite so keen to name names:
"But we’ve been coming up against some underlying ill-feeling from certain quarters that we don’t really understand.”

If Emily ever follows her Dad into politics, she's never going to be accused of dealing in soundbites.

She then tries to spin 'Glastonbury tickets left unsold' as somehow being down to people's perceptions:
"It’s been a really great response, quite overwhelming. We think some people just didn’t know about registration, or they just thought they didn’t have a chance of buying a ticket even if they did.”

Well, yes, the demand was overwhelming, taking down websites, so in that sense it's true. Underwhelming, though, when compared with responses in previous years.

But what of the explanation about registration causing low sales? Is it really likely that fewer people would have known about registration in the second year of operation? Admittedly, we've all forgotten about that big battle of cybermen and daleks over Canary Wharf; perhaps as a nation we've forgotten that, too.

Then, we're expected to believe that people went to all the trouble of registering - photos, passwords, account creation - but then, when the tickets went on sale, decided "oh, there's no chance to getting a ticket" and didn't bother to log on. In large numbers.

Gordon in the morning: Rattling the bars

Catching up after Pete Samson had taken care of the actual business yesterday, Gordon finally gives his attention to Pete Doherty's imprisonment this morning. Smart tries to suggest that he's been "abandoned" by his friends.

It's not quite clear how this is supposed to be true - what with, for example, Babyshamble's other blokes telling the NME how, you know, it's a tragedy and everything, but Gordon has a good shot at trying to paint a picture of a man cut off and cast out:

Pete’s current squeeze IRINA LAZAREANU tried to contact his ex KATE MOSS on Tuesday to inform her he’d been handed a 14-week stint.

Irina — Kate’s pal who Pete recently rekindled a fling with — and her mates left messages to break the news to the supermodel, but she didn’t reply.

They then tried to contact her through a friend, and were told: “She knows. She’s seen it on TV.

“She doesn’t care.”

I don't know if Gordon has somehow missed it, but Kate and Pete have long-since had a nasty split-up. It was in the papers, Gordon. Do you think that it might not be that surprising that she's not interested?

But that's not all Gordon's got:
When Wino was told the news by a pal she, erm, chortled.

A pal revealed: “Amy’s first reaction when she heard was to laugh.

“Pete had told everyone he was just going to court for a quick appearance and had no idea he was going to jail.

“She just laughed and kept saying, ‘I can’t believe it’. Pete’s just a comedy character to Amy. She thinks he’s a bit of a clown.”

Now, if this is true - and, you know, it's not like there's any reason to believe it is - but laughing and going "I don't believe it" when you hear surprising news isn't quite the same thing as thinking something is funny, is it? And if Amy Winehouse believes Pete Doherty is a clown, why did she a marry a Pete Doherty tribute act?
So with Kate not caring and Amy laughing, Pete might have expected some support from his loyal fans.

But not so. They are furious Pete’s jail term means he has cancelled the biggest gig of his life, at the Royal Albert Hall on April 26.

One wrote on a fan site: “How could Pete be so selfish as to let down hundreds of people? F***ing fuming. Pete Doherty is a ....” — you get the picture.

Yes, Gordon Smart - Showbiz editor of the UK's biggest-selling daily paper - is filling his column by reprinting random messages from internet messageboards. And without even crediting the board.

Wonder if anyone would notice if he just cuts and pastes the whole of Popbitch into the page tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Anything that's kept Weiland in employment has to be bad

Scott Weiland, he doesn't trust the music industry much, does he?

He tells, "I think we're a bit smarter, a lot more wiser. Because the music business has shrunken so much and has eaten itself, those survivors out there, they're a lot more cutthroat.

"You definitely have to watch your back and you have to be smart in order to not get taken advantage of. So I think we've all learned from those experiences."

Actually, if they're cut-throats, you'd have to watch your front, wouldn't you? And we're not quite sure why the music business has managed to shrink and eat itself.

BBC's lack of Live Earth time delay earns a ticking off

The BBC coverage of Live Earth - and in particular, the 23 uses of "fucking" and "motherfucking" - has earned the Corporation a very strict and very cross dressing down from Ofcom - although they won't be fined.

The swearing - mostly down to Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg - poured out of screens during Al Gore's attempt to save the planet by flying pop stars round and round it in aeroplanes. The BBC hadn't broadcast the event of time delay, despite the exact same thing having happened on Live 8. Gamely, they did try to suggest this wasn't a bad move:

In the case of Live Earth, the BBC said it had been given full sight of running orders, films and scripts in advance and had not been denied access to artists and their managers. There had been meetings and written communications both internally and between Live Earth organisers and the BBC. The organisers had given repeated written assurances that the problems seen at Live8 would not recur, and that all the required steps would be taken in relation to artists and their managers.

In addition, the BBC said that it had identified the artists whom it regarded as
potentially problematic, and had taken steps, for example by briefing artists and
monitoring the live output, to avoid the broadcast of inappropriate material before the watershed.

Mmm. A signed piece of paper from Snoop Dogg saying he won't swear. Neville Chamberlain would understand.

The BBC's justification for not running with a time delay is a little odd, too:
The BBC considered, amongst other things, that the use of a short time delay was not appropriate because it would have resulted in coverage which was in no sense ‘live’, of an event which was accessible ‘live’ on other UK platforms.

A seven-second delay would have made it not-live? Because someone else might be listening to it on the radio and it wouldn't quite sync up?

Ofcom, though, takes into account that the BBC does admit it ballsed up, which is why they're going to make them say "sorry" on BBC 1 and BBC 2. Management will probably just be relieved there's no big cash fine to pay.

Free music drives real sales

Once again proving that the music industry's fear of the full stream is misplaced, Last FM have released figures showing their sales are up since they introduced free, full-track streaming:

Since this additional service launched on the site in January, overall CD and download sales through's partnership with increased 119%.

And this isn't just down to the new users the streams have brought into the site - pre-existing members are buying 66% more, too.

Squirrels-ah! When Mark E Smith attacks

What is it with Mancunian popstars and animal cruelty? After Shaun Ryder's war on pigeons, we've now got Mark E Smith claiming to kill squirrels:

The gruff singer claimed he would "happily set about an endangered red squirrel with a set of professional hedge-clippers".

"Squirrels mean nothing to me. I killed a couple last weekend actually. They were eating my garden fence.

"My sisters are animal lovers and they had been leaving food out for these squirrels. They've got rats in the bloody house now. Serves 'em right."

To make matters worse, the maverick frontman went on to add that he 'wouldn't have a problem' with running over seagulls for fun.

Although unsavory, we somehow can't picture Mark E Smith using hedge clippers at all, much less being nifty enough on his pins to start chopping animals up.

It's the Daily Mail who bring this story to our attention - of course, they're struggling to explain Mark E Smith to a readership who, frankly, probably don't recognise their own carers, never mind pop stars. First of all, as is the Mail's way, they try to subtly link him to the BBC:
The short-tempered punk rocker - said to have been one of Radio 1 DJ John Peel's favourite acts - bragged to a music magazine he had "killed a couple last weekend".

We love that "said to be", as if there is any room for any doubt whatsoever that Peel loved the Fall.

They then try to place him in some sort of musical context. Maybe he writes songs about being cruel to animals, perhaps?
The group - whose songs include Disney's Dream Debased and DIY Meat - have released 95 albums since forming in 1976

Well, they're sort of cruel about animals, a bit.

Then they get the RSPCA in to comment:
Miss Kennett said: "Running over gulls is also an offence and the RSPCA has prosecuted people for illegal killing of both squirrels and gulls - and would not hesitate to do so again.

"To suggest in a magazine read by youngsters that it is a good idea to harm wildlife is both extremely stupid and highly irresponsible."

This was Uncut, so the RSPCA needn't worry about impressionable young people being corrupted.

It's not funny, and it's disheartening, but it's equally tiring to see the Mail getting exercised about a Fall interview in Uncut. It's hardly porn-heroin in our classrooms, is it?

Babyshambles carry on

It's not even Hamlet without the Prince. It's more like Punch and Judy without the bloke who holds up the puppets. Babyshambles are heading on with talking about their new album despite Pete Doherty being inside.

As if it wasn't bad enough trying to work out who's who on B-Wing, Doherty is now going to have to worry about returning to find the Sleeperblokes have taken over the band.

Gordon in the morning: Under the glowing flame

For reasons we can't quite place - although we suspect it might have something to do with Murdoch's craven courting of the Chinese government - the business of Bizarre, along with all other business of The Sun, is taking place under a Sun masthead featuring an animated gif of an "olympic" flame. Presumably it's only a matter of time before the paper's website completes its rewind to 1996 and features dripping blood and dancing babies all over the shop.

Gordon's main business this morning is claims sourced from a "senior police source" that Naomi Campbell suggests she was only arrested and cautioned "because she was black", but:

“It’s a bit rich coming from her.

“The WPC said she was called a white this and a white that.

“She has been away from work since the incident.”

Gordon pulls, well, most of his punches detailing what Campbell supposedly said:
Now cops claim she called a WPC a “white ****” and a “white s**g” as she was dragged off the LA-bound jet in handcuffs.

The police source said Naomi continued, screaming: “****ing white honkeys” at the officer and her colleagues.

So, "slag" loses its middle letters - presumably lest readers assume Campbell said "shit", but the first word is lost in its entirety. Presumably "cunt"? So Gordon's readership would blanch at looking at his page to see some good old-fashioned shots down women's shirts and talk about breasts, only to come across foul language. And the fit of vapours would be so bad, they can't even have a hint of what one word is - but, equally, "slag" would be unacceptable for them, but enough clues can point to the word without spelling it out, so they'll know its meant to be slag anyway.

Also, while none of Campbell's alleged behaviour is pleasant, is being called a "s**g" or a "****" really so bad member of the police force would have to take time off work to recover?

Gordon mentions that Naomi has been banned from BA flights in future; he doesn't offer any explanation as to why not being allowed on the fall-apart flag carrier is considered to be a punishment. "Go on, go and see if American can lose your suitcases."

More airport fun: Geri Halliwell passes through security at LAX; her kid gets a bit grumpy. An everyday event, you might think. Not so Gordo:
Whinger Spice

SINGER GERI HALLIWELL grabs daughter Bluebell Madonna by her hoodie — as the tot has a tantrum at an airport.

Seriously, Gordon, if you think having a pop at a toddler for not enjoying waiting in a hot airport to be checked for explosives is the stuff of journalism, you might want to step aside.

Pushing Gordon out the way, Pete Samson delivers an opinion piece on Pete Doherty's incarceration. It's headlined:
About Time Too

- we suspect that refers to his elevation to official voice of the Bizarre column rather than Pete's imprisonment, but maybe not.
By finally jailing him it gives the right message to Pete and his fans.

... although, we're pretty certain, just liking someone's music doesn't yet constitute a criminal offence, is it?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oh, yes, the Junos...

We knew we'd forget the second half of the Junos. This is the revised list of winners, including part two of the prizegiving:


However will Global pay for their GCap takeover?

By cutting costs, of course: Heart and Galaxy are going to "network" much of their programming. James P emails with this:

Only breakfast and drive shows will survive on Galaxy (Heart also get to keep their local mid-morning programmes). Everything else will be networked, with Global claiming it will offer a "quasi-national proposition to advertisers". It's also being described as a 'cost-cutting measure'.

The Global chief executive has an interesting reason for this disposal of local shows; "People assume networking is about big name DJs. It's not, it's about quality presenters. If you take 50 different radio stations there cannot possibly be 50 good presenters at every station in a particular slot. Why not take the two or three quality class players and put them across the network".

The sad part is that he doesn't seem to question why there aren't '50 good presenters at every station in a particular slot', or wonder if it's maybe because the increase in networking across commercial stations means a reduction in the hours for those slots where 'good presenters' got their first break. In the past, off-peak slots could be used to try out new talent. Now they're filled across the country with the same presenter who's, you know, adequate.

Still, when the 'quality class players' decide to take that better job at the BBC or a bingo channel and Global realise there are no experienced presenters to take their place, I suppose there's always ex-Big Brother contestants...

It also misses the things that local radio do really strongly - or did, to be honest, before cost-cutting set in - which is to be local. It's like saying "what's the point of gossiping with people in your street, who might not be very good at it? We'll have one, giant gossip, covering your entire region - you won't actually hear any gossip about people you know, but it will be delivered in an expert fashion.

Orchard worries about future harvests

The big deal between MySpace and the majors, much ballyhooed last week, has unsettled a lot of indie musicians and operators, not least digital distro The Orchard who want to know why Bono gets cash when the current set-up cuts out the hundreds of thousands of artists who made MySpace what it is:

" is unclear whether and how the equity the participating major labels received will be shared by them with their artists, or with the independent labels they simply distribute...To our understanding, independents have not been offered any equity.

"... Digital retail is fairer than physical brick-and-mortar retail ever was. iTunes ...helped to shift music industry dynamics towards a more level playing field...In that light, if reports are true, the apparent MySpace licensing approach is troubling. It hearkens back to a time none of us wants to revisit ... Where independent artists and labels were third-class citizens in the global music economy..."

This is a step beyond Billy Bragg's claims that Bebo should share some of its cash with musicians just because; MySpace's deal with the majors has offered some artists some revenue. There is no reason we can think of that smaller artists shouldn't have a share if the existence of a shareable revenue stream has been established.

Striking long, long after the iron has cooled

Chanelle Hayes. Reach back into your mind, and you might remember her from last year's Big Brother. Now, she's capitalising on that fame (alright, capitalising on that slight flicker of recognition) by launching a career as a pop singer. Or, rather, launching a reality show about her launching a career as a pop singer. She wants us to know that, despite having made money as a Victoria Beckham lookalike, and following Victoria Beckham about, and copying Victoria Beckham's hairstyle, that there's more to her than a Posh wannabe:

"I know that people think I'm talentless, but I've played the violin since I was seven and then I did music at A Level. I want to have a go at it and show people that I'm not just a miserable cow walking around with a pout on my face."

Dismissing claims that she is attempting to copy her idol's music style, she said: "Yeah, we wear similar clothes because I choose to but she sings one way and I sing another. I don't sound like her when I speak and I'm not trying to sound like her when I sing."

Aha. It's similar clothes, as in "I came out and would you believe it, to my surprise Victoria Beckham was wearing the very same dress yesterday".

Still, at least she's not copying Beckham's music - she's not that stupid.
"People love to hate, and if people don't like it - fair enough. I've got a CD with my name on it that I can give to my mum and she'll be dead proud."

Yes. You have a CD with your name on. Money can't buy that. Well, actually, it can, but you know what we mean.

There's more, much more to Chanelle:
"I just want to show that I can pose on the cover of a magazine or newspaper but I can also do academic things as well."

Mmm. Good luck with winning the Regis Chair Of Being On A VH1 Programme At Oxford, Chanelle.

Pete Doherty: Back on the wing

Life: Funny, isn't it? Last year, you couldn't go through a week without Pete Doherty going to court, everyone expecting him to be locked up, only for him to trot out again promising to be good.

Now, though, he's managed to get himself sent down without anyone expecting it.

He's been sent to prison for 14 weeks for violating the terms of his probation order; apparently this included missing one appointment with his probation officer and being late for another.

It's screwed up his Royal Albert Hall gig; if he doesn't get early release, he'll be an absentee from Glastonbury as well.

Eavis dismisses Smart's stories as "malicious"

Gordon Smart has run two days running with pieces claiming Jay-Z is going to pull out of Glastonbury; today, Glastonbury has responded. Michael Eavis isn't happy:

Speaking to XFM, Eavis appeared to suggest that The Sun had got the story from the organisers of the Wireless Festival in London, where Jay-Z will headline the week after Glastonbury.

"The Sun was carrying a story that he was pulling out,” Eavis said.
“I'm not sure where they got from, probably from the people that were doing a show in London the following week [Wireless festival] because they were tying to sell tickets for their show.”

Of course, this whole story is helping take the focus off the broader question of how Glastonbury has managed to turn itself from a sell-out event to one desperately offering second chances to register. It's funny how everyone is blaming Jay-Z and nobody is pointing the finger at the Kings Of Bloody Leon, isn't it?

Norah Jones attempts to be the indie Norah Jones

We hope that someone develops a system soon so that we can easily recall the difference between Katie Meluah and Norah Jones: surely there should be a mnemonic.

Things aren't helped by Jones launching a new identity, which makes... well, one and-a-bit identities, if we're being generous.

She's going indie.

If by "indie" you mean "has a shorter haircut and a side-project doing much the same stuff under a silly name." She's adopted the name Maddie for the band, El Madmo ("You don't have to be el Madmo to work here, but...") and - ooh - has written a song called Rock Your Balls Off.

Twenty years ago, this would have been a silly artistic project. Now, it looks more like an attempt to create a secondary brand without hurting the core product.

Starr pruned

In other Beatles' news, the hedge-effigies of the band which greet the very, very few passengers who use the Liverpool South Parkway interchange have been vandalised. Or possibly gardened: Ringo has had his head chopped off.

Fifth Beatle only Beatle at own funeral

Given that he was so central to guiding their business for so many years, how touching that, erm, neither Ringo nor Macca appear to have gone to Neil Aspinall's funeral.

Yoko and, erm, Stella McCartney managed to make it to Twickenham.

Glastonbury: If this fails, it'll be free tickets with Sugar Puffs

Terrible news for Glastonbury - much worse that Smart's flapping about the Jay-Z story. The take-up of tickets has fallen so short of expectations that they're being forced to reopen the registration process.

Yes, the registration process, not merely sales:

Emily Eavis says they are giving people who wanted to go another chance to register.

She said: "We're having a massive influx of people saying they didn't register.

"So what we're going to reopen registration and allow the extra people who want to come to do so."

Emily tries to suggest there isn't a massive over-supply of tickets:
"We had registration open for a month and we're just going to reopen it for a few days.

"To be honest, there aren't that many tickets left to sell. They'll probably trickle along I imagine over the next few weeks. There won't be a massive surge."

But for a festival that is used to selling out in hours, having to basically run after people in the streets yelling "come back, please... we'll make it easier for you" isn't a good sign.

Whatever happened to Ruslana?

There she was, winning Eurovision and taking the crown for Ukraine, back in 2004:

But what has Ruslana been up to since? It turns out that, while she still does the semi-naked dancey shout ostpop, she's now doing it with a political message, campaigning to reduce Ukraine's dependence on natural gas. It's not so much a carbon footprint issue as worries about Putin's control of the gas pipe, naturally.

So far, though, she's doing it all metaphorically:

Ruslana, who rarely uses her last name, Lyzhychko, doesn't sing about carbon footprints and gas prices; she sings about the wild energy of love.

It triumphs over a synthetic world, dependent on synthetic energy. In the video version, that world is represented by a pale, metallic-looking woman who gets her strength from a giant machine. She's transformed, though, into a kind of Wild Energy woman, reminiscent of Xena the warrior princess.

There's a worry that the issue isn't stimulating enough for young Ukranians; perhaps something a bit more direct might be helpful?

First spin: Hard Candy

The Times has had a first listen to Hard Candy, the new Timbaland and Pharrell Williams collaboration featuring Madonna on vocals. Pete(r) Paphides isn't entirely convinced:

When the songs work, it doesn’t much matter that Madonna is blazing a fourth-hand trail. After 25 years of reinvention, we can surely cut her slack in that department. But on Dance 2Night, She’s Not Me and Give It 2 Me, what surprises is how deferential Madonna is to her collaborators. Even the album’s showstopping ballad, The Devil Wouldn’t Recognise You succumbs to a default mode of vast beats.

By this late stage, you rather feel like you’re in your fifth hour at the Ambassador’s famous party. Great, but is there anything else on offer other than Ferrero sodding Rochers?

Fourth hand? If she's doing twenty-year old Prince style "2"s instead of "to"s, that might be over generous.

What appears to have happened is - as one of pop's foremost brands - Madonna has followed the logic of turning herself into a corporation to the ultimate conclusion. She's outsourced the album.

Gordon in the morning: Lay-z journalism

Gordon returns to the possible pull-out of Jay-Z from Glastonbury this morning, with a grim headline:


Smart is trying to work up the possiblity of a Jay-Z pullout, and the question of if and when organisers knew, into some sort of sub-Watchdog outrage:
One ticket-holder said: “I want to find out if they knew about this before Sunday.

“If they were aware Jay-Z might not be playing they should have said something before I bought my ticket.

“I’m going to see Jay-Z. I wouldn’t have bothered buying tickets to this year’s Glastonbury otherwise.”

Another said: “Jay-Z is the world’s greatest rapper. I was only going to see him.”

Hang on a minute: These angry ticket holders who, supposedly, "only" wanted to see Jay-Z, don't have any names. Why is that, Gordon?

When you're "reporting" on rumours from "friends" of celebrities and "sources" within stars' organisations, there's some sort of justification for keeping anonymity. But why are these people so angry about their tickets but not revealing their names? Are they afraid that Emily Eavis might turn up at their houses and start putting the windows out?

Come to that, why are they so angry before Jay-Z has actually cancelled, and, consequently, before organisers have even had a chance to say 'if you want a refund, then you can have one'? It's a little early to be making up angry punters, isn't it?

Meanwhile, in a triumph for 'here's something I read in a magazine' journalism, today;s column features adverts for Closer Magazine (Coleen McLoughlin dressed - hilariously - as Audrey Hepburn) and Shape Magazine (Denise Richards). If Gordon keeps padding his pieces out with this sort of stuff, they could just cut a hole in his page and invite readers to peer through at the magazine rack when they pick up their paper.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rotten hotel chain promotes Coldplay

Travelodge are a rotten hotel chain. Even by budget standards, they're especially mean-spirited: not only paring the cheese, but proudly flaunt their penny-pinching:

Why can't you call the reception from the telephone in your room?

Providing a concierge-style service requires additional staff which means additional cost. And we reckon that for the sake of a short walk to the reception desk, customers would rather enjoy our great-value low room rates.

But since the person on the desk has to answer the questions anyway, how does it save money to make people trump along the halls and down the lifts to do it in person? And what do you do in an emergency?
In the event of an emergency you can call 999 direct on the room phone.

In other words, if you accidentally slash your wrists or crack your head open while in the room, you can't ask for help from the person "the short walk" down the hall, you have to ring up the police and wait for them to arrive.

However, despite this Spartan approach to keeping costs down, the company does seem to have an enormous pile of money to waste on pointless surveys. The latest has 'discovered' that British people fall asleep to Coldplay, and unveils this astonishing gem:
"The research shows that we are increasingly relying on slow, sleepy music and unchallenging books to take our minds off the pressures of modern living, to help us switch off and get to sleep at night", said Travelodge spokesperson Leigh McCarron.

Really? That's a surprise. You mean people don't tend to put on salsa tunes and start to snort coke when they want to go to bed?

A business that won't provide a biscuit to its guests because that would push up prices, but will commission a survey to discover that, when you're going to bed, you listen to quiet music.
Clearly, though, the very thought of Coldplay in an unlovely hotel room sent someone off a little early at the NME.

Shout Out Louds shuffle off early

Get well soon, Bebban Stenborg: she fell ill during last night's Shout Out Louds gig in Leeds causing the show to be abandoned.

Bebban says she's sorry:

"Hello people of Leeds," he wrote [Apparently so under the weather she changed gender, according to NME]. "My sincere apologies for the show cut short in your fair city. I was abominably under the weather, hence to blame for the untimely demise of the performance. I will do my absolute best make it up to you all on our next visit."

The band hope to pick up the tour tomorrow in Dublin. Meanwhile, you can enjoy Bebban reading a ghost story from Daytrotter.

Kelly Clarkson: What if you leaked an album and nobody heard?

Kelly Clarkson is really upset that tracks from her new album have found their way onto the internet - somehow, oh, who can know who?

In fact, she's been talking about how sucky it is:

"The fact that people have heard music that's not ready yet sucks, but I hope they like it."

It must suck, and it's in no way a carefully orchestrated release of work-in-progress in an attempt to try and stop people talking about, you know, the whole last album.

At least it's not John Lennon's piano

George Michael and Kenny Goss are showing Texas a huge chunk of their private art collection, funded by George Michael's muscial career and Kenny Gosses' ... well, his income.

The Goss-Michael Foundation is displaying the works; Goss has been elected to discuss them with the media:

"We want to expose the Dallas art community to work that they've quite potentially never seen if they weren't able to travel, these works that in some ways may be a little controversial for one thing, a little strong."

The works which Texans unable to travel have potentially never seen before (although, who knows, they might have) include Damien Hirst's Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain.

Goss explains what the cow-and-arrow work means:
"Most people initially freak a little bit about Sebastian, then they stare and stare at it and they say, 'That's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.'"

Or potentially ever seen.
"Let's face it, art a lot of times is about sex, love, death, loss."

At other times, let's face it, art is about pictures of red-jacketed huntsmen chasing foxes and dogs playing pool.

Goss is excited by exposing young people to art:
"They sit in front of these pieces. They sketch it. They write about it. They think about their thoughts. I've come here before and I've seen four or five students just sitting on the floor writing," he said.

Thinking about thoughts, eh? No wonder they need to sit down when their minds are working on such an elevated plane.

Seriously, it's a lovely, generous gesture to share art with the world; it's just a pity that Kenny was left to try and put the unsayable into words.

Specials erect quality threshold for reunion

Here's something that, we suspect, hasn't been factored into the NKOTB or Boyzone comebacks: The Specials won't play together if they're no bloody good any more.

Neville Staple explains:

“A couple of months ago we started talking. “We had to talk first to see if we could get on, but we got past the talking stage. Then we said, ‘Okay, let’s see what we’re like in a room together rehearsing with instruments’.

“So the musicians done that first, then Terry went down. So we’ve had two rehearsals. One where they're on their own, and then the last one where me and Terry went in.

“We’re just seeing how it goes. If it gels, it gels. If it doesn’t, you don’t wanna go out there as some old geriatrics – not me. What we've got to do is make sure the music at least is right.

“We’re feeling it out now. It sounded alright actually but it’s gonna take more than one rehearsal.

“So if it works, we’ll do it. If not, well. I’m sorry lads and girls. But we’re trying.”

The Sex Pistols do something similar, although it's more about checking the cash amounts offered sound right rather than the band.

The Kid Jensens of indie rock

Thurston Moore has made clear that Sonic Youth won't change their name to refelect their entry into the time of life when you start to wonder what it feels like to ride a chairlift:

Moore says, "Some people say it's ridiculous - 'you should change your name.'

"(But) I think it's a good thing as far as a state of grace, state of mind. It's actually more fun playing the older we get."

We're a little at a loss as to why anyone would have thought they'd change anyway: surely 'Sonic Youth' is an ideal rather than a description; thinking it should change as the band age suggests its being interpreted as 'we are young people with guitars', but it's really like insisting that the Foo Fighters change their name as the USAF knows exactly what they are these days.

Madonna: Don't you wish she was fighting for your continent, too?

It would be one thing if Madonna had simply used her Vanity Fair interview to suggest that there was some sort of parity between Britney Spears' personal life and the lives of Africans.

Instead, Madonna also gave us a glimpse of how she views the continent:

“When you think about the way people treat each other in Africa, about witchcraft and people inflicting cruelty and pain on each other, then come back here and, you know, people taking pictures of people when they’re in their homes, being taken to hospitals, or suffering, and selling them, getting energy from them, that’s a terrible infliction of cruelty. So who’s worse off? You know what I mean?”

Madonna, did you just say that "people treat each other in Africa" with "witchcraft" and "inflict[ing] pain on each other"? Do you really picture the continent in those terms?

A continent of withcraft and cruelty. It makes you a little nervous that someone who can paint such a view of a place is involved in trying to push her religion into one of the nations there.

Darkness at 3AM: Not gun wedding

Did the rest of the media miss something? The 3AM Girls are breathless with excitement:

Guns drama at Bey's wedding

A guns drama? Did someone shoot somebody?

Erm, no:
But three guns were left in an amnesty box outside Jay-Z's Tribeca apartment.

So, the "drama" was people were asked not bring guns, and so three guests (or one guest with issues) left their guns in an amnesty box as requested.

You know what else? There were no dirty bombs exploded anywhere near the wedding. Where's the "Beyonce 'dirty bomb drama' at wedding" headline?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Dean Wareham's book, A Rock & Roll Romance, reviewed for the New York Times by Liz Phair:

One particularly unforgettable story involves the rags-to-riches-to-rags-again tale of a high-flying A & R executive at Elektra named Terry Tolkin, whose musical discernment never translated into the other areas of his life. Riding around in limousines, showing up late to work, throwing outrageous parties for artists and charging it all to the label, the surprisingly likable Terry finds himself on shaky ground as a corporate realignment threatens to squeeze him out of a job: “If he had signed just one platinum act, all would have been forgiven. Instead he gave them Luna, Stereolab and the Afghan Whigs.”

Gordon in the morning: An empty pyramid

Gordon rushes through the newsroom, hollering "Hold the front page!":

GLASTONBURY headline act JAY-Z is on the verge of pulling out of the festival.

Goodness. This actually is news, although perhaps not quite as serious as Smart would hope to have us believe:
Unless a last-minute peace deal is brokered his cancellation looks set to disappoint many of the 100,000 music fans who bought festival tickets when they went on sale yesterday morning.

Really? "Many"? "Some" might be a stretch, but many?

Mr. Z is supposedly upset by, well, everything:
The rapper, who married BEYONCE on Friday, is upset organisers used his planned appearance to hype the event’s appeal to a younger and more “urban” crowd.

He was also angered by suggestions his signing caused fewer ticket registrations than last year and the reaction to his appearance on some festival message boards.

Really? Jay-Z is worried by things that people have posted on the internet? And is "upset" that he was used to attract his core audience? How does that actually make sense? Are we supposed to believe that Jay-Z thought he was being signed to disappoint the regular audience rather than attract a (slightly) different one?

Quick, Gordon, your story is melting faster than yesterday's snow:
Yesterday Eavis denied Jay-Z had pulled out, insisting: “I spoke to his people this weekend. Everything is fine. I’m excited.”

Gordon reports of Myleene Klass' birthday party. He's not impressed:
The former HEAR'SAY singer celebrated her 30th birthday at the Vanilla club in London's West End and invited a cast of Z-lister friends to help her do it in, er, style.

Having spent a few paragraphs calling anyone who showed up so obscure as to be of no interest to the likes of his readers, Gordon then invites his readers to:
See some of the guests at the bash by clicking on the link below.

There is a fairly big story in The Sun, which gets pushed onto Gordon's page:
MADONNA is to adopt a baby from India, The Sun can reveal.

They met Bollywood choreographer Sandip Soparrkar – who has adopted an Indian baby.

Sandip said: “We spoke about how there are so many children in India who need homes.”

A source said: “Madonna was very taken with Sandip. He told her there were orphans who would melt her heart. Guy was against the idea, but when she wants something, she gets it.”

So, then, there's no actual adoption process in place, just - perhaps - a vague idea. The piece, boiled down, says "it's too tricky to take an African child, let's see if the Indians are bit less worried about handing over their children", all, of course, hung on this "a source", a source so vague that they don't even indicate why they'd be in a position for us to take this seriously.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Junos split in two

It must be hard for the Junos, trying to attract attention to Canada's music scene while knowing they never quite pack the cultural punch of the Grammys. Given the hill they set themselves to climb, it's impressive they've decided to stack the odds even more against themselves by splitting the event across two nights. Perhaps the thinking is that it makes them harder to miss. "Surely they'll notice if there's two ceremonies?"

It doesn't work.

Anyway, last night, Feist won, and she's expected to tonight.

Blue Rodeo "Small Miracles" - adult alternative album of the year
Serena Ryder - new artist of the year
Arcade Fire "Neon Bible"- alternative album of the year
Feist - artist of the year
Feist - songwriter of the year.
Belly - best rap recording of the year.
Nathan "Key Principles" - roots and traditional album of the year.
Jully Black "Revival" - best soul and R&B recording.
Blue Rodeo "C'mon" - best video
Arcade Fire "Neon Bible" - best album artwork

Perhaps if they lost a few of the lamer categories, they could get it done in one night.

Lily Allen returns books unread

Culture sighs and breathes again: Citing "ill-health", Lily Allen has quit the Orange Prize judging panel. It's that ill-health that lets you present a TV show in front of dozens of viewers but stops you from reading books.

Cold dead hands

In the spirit of not speaking ill of the dead - even one whose love of guns made him the focus of the bloodthirsty, the paranoid and the reactionary who make up the NRA - let's remember Charlton Heston before he developed Alzheimer's and started to suggest that guns don't kill people, it's people making 'pickle, pickle' noises while pointing their fingers who do.

Here, by way of tribute for his paid work rather than political views, is Stump's Charlton Heston:

It suddenly hits you, a surprise, a bullet, a shock - you're falling in love with one of the New Kids on the Block

It's official - if, of course, there was ever any doubt - the original members of the New Kids On The Block have run out of money. Sorry, we mean are getting back together.

They confirmed it on Friday:

"It is better than Christmas," trumpetetd Jonathan Knight.

Santa and Jesus are currently in talks with legal representatives over whether to seek a formal apology for this apparent libel.

They weren't going to announce the reunion this soon, but they were worried about the rumours. Probably that there weren't any.

You can watch the big announcement from the NBC Today programme, assuming you don't mind losing ten minutes of your life to it.

Glastonbury tickets update

11.45: Server is still too busy. And the internet is full of unhappy people.

CockMonster on Designerstalk is unhappy:

Anyone here been able to get through to buy tickets for Glastonbury?
Been trying to get through all morning with fuck all luck.

There are, though, quite a few positive stories from people who've basically had a bunch of people, all throwing the kitchen sink at the refresh button on numerous machines. Irony, of course, is that the system is so bad because so few people trust it they feel the need to swamp the system with requests which brings the whole thing down.

There is, though, a slightly easier way: the more robust seetickets website has a page that works a bit better: although seetickets server keeps falling over as well; it just takes you a step closer.

Why everything sounds the same

Showbiz Zoe from Showbiz Zoe Column brings intelligence from the Kasabian album build - if that isn't an oxymoron. They're calling in some outside ears, says Chris Edwards:

"We're going to play it for Noel Gallagher in a couple of weeks.

He speaks his mind."

Well, yes he does. But so does that bloke outside Sainsburys who yells "Metal whores! You're all metal whores!" at passing cars. It doesn't mean you should listen to him, though.

After all, if Noel Gallagher knew how to make a good album... well, the recent Oasis back catalogue would be a little different, wouldn't it?

Glastonbury tickets update

10.55: Things are getting better - the 'server is too busy' message has reappeared.

Rav suggests he was right all along

You'll recall last week Rav Singh ran a piece in the News of the World about a Hollywood star about to be outed:

AN A-lister star of Hollywood will be outed next week, I can reveal.

This particular actor is known as a bit of a ladies man but in fact, he really has a secret eye for the fellas.

My man in LA told me: "This guy is not married. He's been out with many women but has been seeing men too.

"A US mag is revealing it next week which will send Hollywood into overdrive."

Now, you might be thinking "funny... I never heard anything about an a-list actor being outed last week. Rav must have been wrong."

Rav, though, revels in being right this morning:
Hollywood rocked by star's outing (part two)

LAST week I told you a male Hollywood star would be outed in the States as liking the fellas.

Turns out it was singer/ actor JOHN MAYER who has apparently been snogging my mate PEREZ HILTON in Los Angeles.

He even took a lie detector test on TV to prove his claims!

What we love about this is the way that Rav is not only pretending that Mayer is an a-lister, but, having last week claimed an actor was about to be outed, Singh now calls Mayer a "singer/actor" - but IMDB lists not a single acting credit for him.

And also - Perez Hilton taking a lie detector test saying that he'd kissed a bloke isn't really "outing" that bloke, is it?

Rav is really on the back foot this week - he's also reduced to running a story about Sarah Harding having a bad back, something over all the papers a couple of weeks ago; he's also got a story about Britney planning a world tour. Okay, that's interesting, but 'pop star plans to play gigs' is hardly that surprising, is it?

Cheap thrills with Heather Mills

With almost perfect timing, a couple of days after Julie Bindel took a hard look at the naked-awareness raising photo campaigns (the nadir, of course, being Mel B stripping off to, erm, fight sex trafficking), the News of the World uncovers Heather Mills' photos for landline awareness that she, supposedly, shot in 1999 but which have - until now - been protected by the cloak of McCartney's lawyers.

The NOTW tries to suggest that there's something hypocritical about this shoot:

Mucca claimed in her book, Out On A Limb, that she turned her back on raunchy modelling aged 17. She said: "Posing topless just didn't satisfy me."

It seems stripping off entirely obviously did.

She clearly had no idea what she was doing, if she expected full-frontal, gynecological shots to be used generally, even in a good cause. And there is a big question over if stripping off clothes is always (or ever) the best way to draw attention to human suffering. But does the NOTW really think that a well-intentioned art shot by a professional model is analogous to the sort of work done to fill the DVDs and magazines sold in the classified sections of, erm, the News of the World?

Glastonbury tickets update

The server is now not even managing to return a Server Is Too Busy message.

Glastonbury tickets on sale...

They've been trading for an hour and seventeen minutes. The site is currently returning a "server is too busy" message.

Every bloody year. It's music's own Terminal Five.