Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rufus Wainwright makes a grand drama

It was, we guess, only a matter of time: Rufus Wainwright is writing an opera:

"The construct of the diva, from Maria Callas to Norma Desmond, and the movie Diva from the '80s. And God darn it, there's a bit of me in that too."

A bit of you, Rufus? In an opera about Callas, Desmond and divas? Do you think?

Akon: Not quite as bad as he's painted

Akon. It's not all dry-humping underage kids, you know. This email from James Page came before I fell ill - so apologies for not bringing it you sooner:

In the past, I've highlighted stories in which the popular artist Akon has been found getting up to no good. So, to redress the balance, I thought you'd like to see a story in which Akon doesn't break the law.

Before he became a minor-bothering 'R&B' star, Akon had numerous runs-in with the law. He spent several years in prison for all sorts of rugged manly crimes (running a car-theft operation, stealing high-performance vehicles, basically things a little stronger than refusing to pay his council tax in protest at a proposed sewage farm). He even chose a name which reflected this criminal past, wrote tracks about his time inside and peppered them with the sound of prison-cell doors closing. Basically, Akon was a proper hardcore baddie.

However! Those pesky meddling kids at the Smoking Gun have done some nosing around, and have found out that Akon's not actually that naughty after all. His 'long stretch for his role as the "ringleader of a notorious car theft operation"' turned out to be a few months inside for possession of a stolen BMW, after which all charges were dropped. His well-publicised criminal past, it appears, is largely fanciful. Quite what he's basing his name and lyrics on is anyone's guess.

Alright, so it's not quite as funny as the time Noel and Liam claimed they'd spent their youth stealing car stereos, only for their mum to pop up and say "No they didn't, they were well-behaved boys who went to church", but it's a start...

Tangled web

The official statement on Mozzer's stepping in to help our RAR points the finger at the "official sponsor" who's pulled out.

That would be the NME which withdrew its cash and left the organisers in a hole. Rather shabby behaviour by the magazine, isn't it?

[UPDATE: the NME denies ever having been supposed to sponsor the event]

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Rigourous training

The onward march of the Grand Theft Auto franchise - it's like Super Mario Karts with syphilis, apparently - has worried some of the good people who watch our morals. Who can reassure them that, following a night pretending to steal cars full of hookers, young people won't be rushing out to steal cars full of hookers?

Step forward, HMV spokesking Gennaro Castaldo:

Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, insisted staff has received “rigorous” training to ensure that the game was not sold to anyone under the age of 18.

“As with any video which has an 18 certificate, our staff will always ask for ID if they think someone is too young to buy the game,” he said.

That really does sound like rigorous training to us - presumably it takes about six or seven days to undergo that educational process, does it?

Having put Telegraph readers' minds at rest, Gennaro then had to pick up the phone to tell The Times that, despite what everyone else in the world might think, the DVD market isn't structurally doomed at all:
Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, said that the retailer, which has come under pressure in recent years from cut-price supermarket and internet offers, was concentrating on what he called quality and collectibles.

“DVDs will always be an aspirational product,” he said. “People often want to own the product and box sets are still very popular.”

Mr Castaldo said that the group had achieved record DVD sales at Christmas.

He predicted a strong 2008 for DVD sales, suggesting that the credit crunch would mean that people stayed at home more, happily spending £10 on a DVD.

Well, yes, it might happen like that. Although if times are so hard you don't want to spring for a taxi and a bucket of beer, wouldn't you be more likely to make your night even cheaper and hire a film through your set-top box?

NME commits to a new future

In this week's NME, Conor McNicholas makes it clear that we're living in a year zero:

The domination of skinny-jeaned, vest-wearing, jangly indie-boys is coming to an end ... Bands releasing their second albums of nice music for your mum [...] is very, very bad news.

Blimey. At last. The NME has decided the dull indie guitar band must die. So... what's the answer?

We've now got our answer:
NME to give away new Coldplay songs free

A free Coldplay 7-inch vinyl single will be given away with the issue of NME that comes out on May 7. The vinyl will include 'Violet Hill', a song that will appear on the forthcoming LP.

So, the nice-music-for-your-mum band is dead - long live the painfully-nice-music-for-your-Gran band.

Gordon in the morning: Trouble with the conversion

Gordon Smart has astonishing news of a prison conversion:

Doherty turns to Islam in jail


Erm, no: it turns out he's filling in some of his time in jail reading the Qur'an - which isn't quite the same thing as "turning to Islam". Doubtless if he'd picked up a copy of Death On The Nile, Gordon would have reported him as having turned to murder.

It's only a few weeks since Smart was claiming that Doherty had become a Scientologist, wasn't it?

Having decided he's adopting a new religion, Gordon then decides to rubbish Doherty's Muslim credentials:
Click on the link below to see all the reasons why Pete would make a rubbish Muslim.

But - let's pretend he's converting, shall we - isn't the point about adopting a new religion that you usually do so because you feel you've been living your life in the wrong fashion? Aren't all religions usually expecting new recruits to have a lot of weakness and sin to offset? Otherwise it wouldn't be that difficult, would it?

Morrissey puts his money where his mouth should be

Who's this, stepping in to save tomorrow's Rock Against Racism concert from financial ruin? Morrissey, of course, digging deep into his pockets and shaking down others to keep the event on track. Which is a wonderful, generous gesture on Morrissey's part. Let's hope his actions speak more loudly than his words.

Amy Winehouse: She's a caution

Having spent a night in the cells at Holborn Police Station, Amy Winehouse has accepted a caution for common assault. This follows the alleged assault on two men while she was out the other night; the police have not indicated if she accepted the caution for both alleged assaults, or just one of them.

Jazzobit: Humphrey Lyttelton

It's genuinely heartbreaking to hear of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton at the age of 86.

For his stewardship of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue over thirty-five years, and of Radio 2's Jazz programme for as long as the network has existed, his contribution to British radio is unquestionable; his journalism and writing spanned eight books, numerous contributions to the likes of Punch, and scripting the Flook cartoon strip in the Daily Mail in the late 1940s. But, at heart, Lyttelton remained a jazz musician.

His formed his first band in 1948; initially, he released the group's music on his own label before signing to EMI to be part of the Parlophone Super Rhythm Style sequence. It was with Parlophone that, in 1956, his Bad Penny Blues became the first jazz record to make the top 20.

Although at the heart of the jazz scene - his band opened for Louis Armstrong when Satchmo played London in 1956 - he was never a purist; indeed, the inclusion of more accessible, mainstream stuff in his set and the expansion of the band in the late fifties irked a number of the more stuffy fans on the jazz scene at the time. Luckily, the wider public were more open - in January this year, Lyttelton clocked up his sixtieth year as a band leader.

Lyttelton, who was 86, had recently had surgery for an aortic aneurysm.

Bringing the speed

Currently, on MySpace, in all its streaming glory: Velocifero, the whole of the new Ladytron album.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Kooks want to take you camping

As if the thought of a Kooks gig wasn't bad enough, they're now threatening to launch their own festival. Why, besides it being the only way they'd ever manage to find themselves headlining a festival?

"We have been talking about holding our own [festival] down south, somewhere like Stamner Park near Brighton where we live. We will do it in the next couple of years."

"Although Glastonbury is the best in the world, something like that can't really carry on. It's getting too big.

"We love playing Glastonbury, but we couldn't walk anywhere last year as it was so full. And [when] you have so many people there it's hard to get a vibe."

While Glastonbury's having it difficulties, we're not quite sure it's fair to say that "something like that can't really carry on", as if it's the Roman Empire. And if you were in search of a "vibe", a festival organised by the stage school kids (and, presumably, featuring Kooks favourite bands) wouldn't be the first place you'd go and look, would it?

Anyone want to put in a fiver for Phil Collins' retirement card?

Although we're surprised that the Times has concluded that Phil Collins is "hip" because his music appeared on an advert selling largely inedible chocolate, you have to at least credit them with the breaking the news of his retirement.

Yes, you'd been wondering why there had been all those beacons burning and every church bell in the kingdom was clanging, hadn't you?

Steve Albini works with Weiland

Has Steve Albini been breaking windows or something? Only surely he'd only be producing Scott Weiland's solo album because a court had ordered him to do so as part of some sort of community service?

Gordon in the morning: Yes, yes, Virgin, tee-hee

Gordon giggles with delight this morning, as Russell Brand may-or-may-not have had sex with an air hostess who works for Branson's airline:

Now Brand beds a Virgin

Do you see what he did there?

Actually, what has he done there? Just because you work for Virgin doesn't make you a Virgin, either in fact or in title. Gordon's not a News International, is he? If you had a relationship with a burger bar manager, you wouldn't think "well, now I've had sex with a McDonalds", would you?

Mind you, at least you can see what he was trying to get at, which is more than you can say for the headline on the report about the NME Awards:
Klaxons gong-goed in States

What? What does that even think it's meant to mean?

Smart then manages to miss what you'd thought would have been the most important part of the evening for him - when Ronson joined the stage invasion and fell over, he said "this'll be in The Sun tomorrow, won't it?" Somehow, Gordon managed to miss it.

Hard times in the Mull of Kintyre: Rich List 2008

This Sunday, The Sunday Times is publishing the latest edition of its rich list - it's even going multimedia this year, what with Duncan "I have one of those in my living room" Banatyne having chugged an hours' worth of ITV airtime over it yesterday evening. As usual, they've crunched the numbers through some magic spreadsheets and boiled down some specialist lists about which musicians have got the most cash.

The good news for Paul McCartney is that - having shared some of his fortune with that woman whose name escapes us for the moment - he's managed to hold on to the number three slot (behind Lloyd-Webber and Clive Calder of Zomba - so, top, if by "musician" you mean "person who makes living by playing music"). The paper seems to have taken his claim that he didn't have as much money as Heather might have thought at face value, and marked him down from £725 to £500 million. That's a drop in value equivalent to David and Victoria Beckham's entire fortune. Or the annual income for about six and half thousand people at the top end of the now-defunct 10p tax band.

At long last, the purchase of EMI has brought some glory to Guy Hands, as he's the highest new entry on the music list: he's worth £250m, when you factor in Julia Hands' money as well.

As you head down the list, some strange anomalies manifest - not least musicians who are loaded this year and who didn't register last year. Like Engelbert Humperdink, at 36 this year with £79million he apparently didn't have in 2007.

Cliff Richard, who you'll remember was pleading that we think about poor musicians with nothing but a piece of sheet music between them and the workhouse, turns out to have £50million quid to call on. Admittedly, that's about what the PRS levies in six weeks, but we still figure he could do a lot of good for the musicians he cares so much about without even having to reduce the thread count in his own bedding.

Over on the "young musician" list, Dhani Harrison is at the top of the tree - which means, we suppose, if the drummer from Does It Offend You, Yeah, wins a Euromillions treble rollover he could find himself there next year. Vanessa Mae is the 'richest young musician who's done something to earn her money', with £32m. Surprisingly, Craig David is still worth ten million - which must help when people point and laugh at him. Karen Elson is at number six, on the basis that if you fold her money in with Jack White, and his career in with hers, she's a really rich musician. In the same way that if you take me and add my money to Rupert Murdoch's, I suddenly become a multi-billionaire sinophile.

Oddly, James Blunt - who last year appeared on the "young list" with £18m - has vanished; presumably because he's too old for the list this time round. Although as he's 34, wouldn't he have been too old for it last year?

The other thing we can't work out is why members of Coldplay are listed seperately while Liam and Noel are hoiked together like a single entity.

[Last year: 2007 Rich List]

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Soft soap from Kasabian

We're not even going to start with Tom Meighan's happy relationship with a plastic ET dolly:

"The only time I believe in E.T. is when I stand there and I’m really out of my mind and I’ve got a statue of him, a rubber thing.

“It’s a 4ft fuckin’ E.T. living in my house.

“When I’m not really with it I start talking to it and that’s the only time I really believe he’s alive. He’s got a massive cock."

If Tom's ET dolly and its big plastic penis brings him pleasure, there is neither law nor moral imperative to deny him such pleasures.

What does catch our eye, though, is this:
"We're always going to Lush. I like the soaps, delicious lemon smelling soaps. And I make sure there’s hot water in, every day, so I can have a nice bath."

Now, is it just us or does that sound like a desperate bid by a man who looks unwashed slurry-spreaders might object to sharing a bus seat with him to try and reposition himself as a clean, shower-loving type? The trouble in, the phrase "make sure there's hot water in", like it's delivered by a bloke from the corner shop, conjures the image of a man who only has a passing acquaintance with abluting.

All celebrity fashion careers end in markdowns

It won't come as a surprise to Victoria Beckham that, much like her solo records, her designer jeans range has turned up in the mark-down bins. Indeed, the mark-down stores - Loehmanns are flogging jeans that had previously carried a sense-defying $289 price tag for under $70.

Give a Dogg a bad name

So, it turns out the lurid tales of Snoop Dogg and his entourages' battles at Heathrow were nothing more than tales. What's more, in upholding Dogg's appeal against his refused visa, immigration Judge Bird says the trouble at the airport was down to the police and, almost unsurprisingly given their talent for disaster, British Airways staff.

Snoop, video of the event shows, was entertaining children rather than despoiling the airport and remained calm when police were shoving him. The question, of course, is why the police were shoving a bloke around for entertaining kids.

Sony swallows Gracenote

Digging deeply into its corporate pockets, Sony has bought Gracenote for USD260million.

The Gracenote technology isn't that spizzy, so it's clear that what Sony has forked out for is the database of CD album and track names. Indeed, although Forbes claim that iTunes wouldn't be able to function without Gracenote might be a little overstating the case, it is clear that Apple make much use of the database; it's also intresting to note that an RIAA parent company will now get a little heads-up when CDs are ripped on most internet-attached PCs around the globe.

Now that the CDdatabase is a proper business, does that mean we can complain to Sony when it misidentifies a Slingbacks CD as Who Let The Dogs Out?

Doherty should never have used the pick-up window

Tim Burgess has worked out where it all went wrong for Pete Doherty - not ordering in:

“What I used to feel about people like that is that they shouldn’t go out and get hammered, that they’d be better off doing it all at home,” Burgess said.

“Why doesn’t he go for home delivery? Pete’s a fucking rock star. GET IT DELIVERED! We always did.”

Also, at the moment, if your crack pipe is delivered less than piping hot, you get it for free.

Burgess suggests that drugs might have also blunted Doherty's talent:
“But his songwriting has rapidly gone downhill, that’s the most worrying thing," he added.

“So much great music has been created on drugs. In Pete’s case, maybe heroin and crack is not such a productive combination.”

Although, to be honest, what really seems to have done for Doherty's talent was quitting Carl, not hitting crack.

Burgess revealed that The Charalatans were doing crack during the making of Up To Our Hips.

On drugs, eh? You'd never have guessed.

Majors sue ISP - in Ireland

Eircom, the Irish telecommunications giant, is being sued by IRMA, which is the RIAA's client in the Republic; the reason, of course, is that the labels don't believe the ISP is doing enough to stop illegal file-sharing.

Part of the record company's bid to try and make other people responsible for doing its job, the case will be heard in July.

NME USA Awards

We're a little bit confused, still, about the point of the NME's American awards, where most of the prize winners seem to be the same sort of people who win the UK awards, just given out by slightly different people.

And surely nobody would bother inventing an entire awards show purely to allow Perez Hilton a chance to give a prize to the Klaxons? Hilton didn't go down that well, either:

There was quite a lot of booing when gossip dude Perez Hilton took to the stage. All he was trying to do was present the Award for Best International Track to Klaxons.

I quite liked him, actually. He said some nice things about us, about putting Beth Ditto being naked on the cover of NME and how "frikin' awesome" he thought that was. And he did a kind of "Fuck Bush!" thing, which is always nice.

To be honest, for a weekly magazine, it's not that good news if the nicest thing he can think of to mention was about 48 issues ago; more to the point - does it really matter that Perez Hilton thought that the Ditto cover was "awesome"? Just because he likes something you've done doesn't automatically validate his opinions.

Mind you, Hilton wasn't the most out-of-place presence of the evening: Tom from MySpace, everyone's default friend, was called upon to hand out prizes; presumably in return for Rupert Murdoch's sponsorship. The Klaxons tried to bounce him off the stage.

The winners, in full, then:

Best band: The Killers
Best album: The Foo Fighters
Best film: Juno
Best international live act: Arcade Fire
Best new international live act (and could there be any more tortuous category name than that?): The Klaxons
Best new live act: Vampire Weekend
Best tv: Heroes
Best international solo artist: Kate Nash
Best new solo artist: Mark Ronson
Best breakthrough act: Santogold
Best solo artist: Albert Hammond Jr
Best international album: Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
Best Indie/Alternative Track: The Killers - Tranquiliser
Best Indie/Alternative Live Band: My Chemical Romance

The oddest thing is the way a London-based musical publication is pretending to be American for these awards - surely the Britishness of NME is its main selling point to an American audience, and yet all of a sudden it's suggesting that Kate Nash is somehow foreign. Curious.

Inspiration winner (again) Mick Jones wasn't entirely helpful to his hosts:
Former Clash principal Mick Jones received the Inspiration Award. He said he used to read NME religiously every week as a youngster.

"I don't now. I scan it on the Internet, like the rest of you," he added.

Let's hope he doesn't prove too inspirational and sparks off a flurry of subscription cancellations, then.

Gordon in the morning: Winehouse at large

Gordon's pages this morning trumpet:

Amy's most depraved night yet

How depraved? It takes two writers to chronicle events, that's how depraved:
Crime Editor

Yes, a crime editor, no less.

It's claimed that in the course of an evening, Winehouse hit a bloke for not getting off the pool table:
[Mustapha el Mounmi] said: “I feel so angry. She smashed my face hard. I could not hit back — she’s a woman.”

then hit another bloke who tried to get her a cab:
A source said: “He said she was a snarling tigress. It’s said she caused a serious amount of damage.”

(Yes, that does appear to be an unnamed source quoting another, more distant, unnamed source at the end there.)

She's also supposed to have kissed a man - which is hardly that depraved, especially by her standards - and only paid twenty pounds for a taxi ride. Oh, and walked into a lamppost.

The Sun decides it's time to put in another call to Sharon Simm, their reformed crack addict, for insight:
FORMER crack addict Sharon Simm said Amy’s outburst was always going to happen.

Sharon, 36, now a mentor at the Family Court drug and alcohol unit, added: “Amy could be suffering from crack psychosis.

"She may have thought those guys were demons in her drug-addled condition."

Now, I'm sure Simm knows what she's talking about, but how responsible is it to speculate that someone was suffering psychosis on the basis of a garbled report in a newspaper column? After all, there are any number of punching-and-slappings in British towns after closing time, and virtually all of them have nothing to do with people see crack-demons and everything to do with vast quantities of alcohol being drunk. And the whole walking-into-lamppost business suggests too much sauce rather than crack psychosis - unless, perhaps, the lamppost was also a demon?

Meanwhile, Gordon himself tries to make "man moves to London" into a story. Inspired by James Corden's decision to relocate, and apparently with a straight face, Gordon informs his readers:
The comedian’s move follows a long tradition of stars who have hit the big time and upped sticks to the Smoke.

Gordon offers as evidence - because, unusually, he hasn't made this up - Noel Gallagher and Alex Turner. Modestly, he doesn't mention a certain Scottish lad who traipsed to Wapping with his belongings in a spotted neckerchief...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miley Cyrus bra peep-holes

Funny, isn't it? Nobody is actually running photos of a fifteen year-old girl showing a bit of underwear; they merely feel the need to run the pictures of Miley Cyrus showing her bra to illustrate stories about how the pictures are all over the internet.

Of course, there's nothing pornographic about the pictures, it's just the pictures have no business being in the public domain and it's hard to see how anyone over the age of 16 could be seeking them out without feeling a little seedy.

And it's not entirely surprising that she wears a bra, is it? Indeed, she's been happy to offer advice to Montana fans on that all-important first bra purchase.

My Bloody Parties

Good news for New Yorkers: My Bloody Valentine are curating a debut upstate NY branch of the All Tomorrow's Parties franchise. Kutshers Country Club is the venue - so let's hope that Kevin Shields has bought a blazer. Or at least run a comb through his hair.

MP3Tunes seeks defence funds

The take-your-music-anywhere service MP3Tunes, currently fighting legal action from EMI, is looking for funds to stay in the battle. They're appealing to their customers to upgrade to the premium version of their service; the money will be spent keeping lawyers in the manner to which they've become accustomed:

Let me start by saying that as the CEO of MP3tunes I appreciate your support over the last few years. Your suggestions and patience have helped us build the Locker system we have today. We just launched AutoSync that makes managing your music collection easier than ever.

As you may be aware, the major record label EMI has sued MP3tunes, claiming our service is illegal. You can read about the case here. Much is at stake — if you don’t have the right to store your own music online then you won’t have the right to store ebooks, videos and other digital products as well. The notion of ownership in the 21st century will evaporate. The idea of ownership is important to me and I want to make sure I have that right and my kids do too.

I would like to ask for your assistance in our battle for personal music ownership. We need your help because we are a small, 15-person company battling an international giant. They would like to make us spend all of our money paying legal bills. Here’s what you can do to help:

1) Please upgrade to a Premium account. This week MP3tunes is launching 3 service levels. I hope you will consider signing up for one of the paid levels. This will not only help us pay for the costs of our service (machines, storage and bandwidth) but a portion will go to cover our legal costs in our case with EMI.

2) If you have a chance to talk publicly about our cause on your blog, with friends, reporters or even EMI personnel please do so. MP3tunes is working hard to design a secure personal music service. We don’t promote sharing of music in any manner. We want people to legally acquire their music. But once they do, we think it’s important that you be able to use it how you want for your personal use. The AmazonMP3 store says: “You may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use.” and this is what MP3tunes allows you to do.

You have my commitment that I’ll continually battle for your right to store your music online and listen to it anywhere on any device. I hope you’ll consider helping MP3tunes in our battle. Thanks.
– Michael Robertson

Detailing the incredible odds the company faces in the courtroom is effectively suggesting you put your money into a service which might disappear with the slap of the judge's gavel. It's a singular pitch for an upgrade - never mind the extended storage or improved features; upgrade to take your part in a moral struggle.

Songwriterobit: Paul Davis

The death has been announced of Paul Davis.

Davis' career was something of a slow-burn; he first entered the Billboard charts 1970, with a cover of A Little Bit Of Soap. That track got to 52; it would be another eight years before he cracked the top ten, with the ballad I Go Crazy. Having taken a while to make a chart impact, Davis managed to milk his moment in the spotlight: the single remained on the Billboard charts for forty weeks - at the time, a record.

Unconcerned about fame and preferring to be at home over going out touring, it was always likely that Davis would be happy to take a step back from the relentless pushing required for sustained, global success. Indeed, he had largely abandoned music by the middle of the 1980s, making only two recorded appearances after his 1981 spell at Arista. Both were collaborations, with Marie Osmond in 1986, and with Tanya Tucker and Paul Overstreet in 1988.

His friend Art Matthews told the Meridian Star that, shortly before his death, Davis had been writing music again and had recorded two tracks.

Davis had returned to Meridian, his childhood home, on his retirement; it was there that he suffered his fatal heart attack on Tuesday.

Smooth has to keep jazz

Smooth Radio - which used to be Jazz FM - has failed to persuade Ofcom to allow it to dump its surviving jazz programming. They'd offered to cut a deal whereby Smooth would drop jazz in return for relauncing Jazz FM as a DAB network. Ofcom said it wasn't able to cut that sort of deal, and that GMG had to accept you can't buy a jazz radio station and just get rid of all the jazz.

Oddly, though, Ofcom never has a problem when companies buy indie radio stations and turn them into chart networks. But then there are probably more jazz fans than indie-eyed kids working down on the South Bank, aren't there?

Something to listen to: BRMC

Just popped up over on You Ain't No Picasso: The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club set from CD Central marking National Record Store day.

Plays For Sure - for now

Gloomy news for people who did what the RIAA wanted of them, and bought music legally from Microsoft's MSN store, bolstered by the promise of "Plays For Sure": the DRM is being switched off:

"As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers. You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play."

In other words, you're going to have to guess what computers you'll be using in the future, and authorise those before the end of summer. Or keep using the same computer forever if you want to be able to play the music you've paid money for.

If we might adapt a metaphor beloved of the RIAA, if filesharing is akin to stealing CDs from a shop, this is on a par with the storekeeper smashing your car's quarterlight and making off with the CDs you'd previously purchased from him.

Microsoft still flog music through the Zune store - you'd have to think twice before buying stuff from a company which just decides it's too much trouble to let you enjoy the products you've paid for, surely?

[Thanks to Michael M]

If you don't aspire too highly, it's easy to achieve your goals

We're screwed, aren't we? In some-sort-of-survey into heroes, Brits under 25 chose Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty as their "ultimate heroes".

We can sort of see why Winehouse might just still look like a role model if you're a bit confused - she's fighting back against her demons, intshe? - but Doherty? How hollow must your life be if you can't think of anyone more heroic than Pete Doherty. He's not even made a decent record in a cat's lifetime.

It might just be the methodology of the vague survey - perhaps Doherty was the only person who got two votes, and everyone else asked chose a different hero. Or maybe there were only limited people to choose from, in which case it would make a bit more sense that unlikely choices would bubble to the surface. Perhaps the respondents were taking the piss.

Or - just maybe - people really can't separate being famous and being heroic any more. Oh god, we're screwed, aren't we?

Gordon in the morning: Perpetual optimism

One of the few upsides of feeling too ill to look at a computer screen is you're spared having to check what Gordon's up to. Back to duty this morning, though, with Gordon reacting to the news that Kelly Brook has dropped her comedy boyfriend Billy Zane:

Great news lads - Kelly bins Billy

Well, strictly speaking, it might make Gordon's chances of going out with Kelly Brook slightly higher (should he, erm, decide to leave his wife), it's not really a massive leap forward. Now, a disease which wiped out ninety-eight per cent of men - that might help your chances, Gordon.

Curiously, there's no story about Ashley and Cheryl Cole this morning - presumably unconnected with Ashley's lawsuit against The Sun. Cole claims that the stories about his extra-marital liaisons run by the paper were an invasion of privacy, and is demanding £200,000:
Cole argues that he does not hold any public office or carry out any official duties, and information about his sex life "was not capable of contributing to a debate in a democratic society relating to matters of public interest".

Wonder if News International will be arguing that, since Cheryl Tweedy was elected to being a popstar by a popular vote, that makes being in Girls Aloud effectively "holding public office"?

The caring, sharing, BPI

What with being ill and everything, this Guardian Tech weekly podcast is now over a week old, but still worth giving some attention to.

Matt Phillips from the BPI was on again, waving the threat of an "injunction" against ISPs if they hadn't signed up to three strikes and out by the 18th. I have to inform you, no such undertaking has been received. Oddly, when asked as to what, exactly, they'd be injuncting and why, and how, Phillips seemed a bit vague.

It suggests that things really aren't going the BPI's way - the threat of government intervention was supposed to force the ISPs to capitulate; that didn't work, so instead there's the threat of a vague injunction. At the same time, Phillips insisted that they were still having positive talks with all the ISPs, which makes it seem odd they'd be threatening to injunct. Can you imagine what it must be like going on a date with these guys?

Phillips also - in virtually the same breath as the one which he used to say that the BPI were talking to everyone - conceded that Carphone Warehouse had said they weren't going to be taking part in the scheme.

The other moment that really rankled was when Phillips suggested the bid to have people thrown off the internet was actually about social justice - it wasn't fair, he explained, that under the current suing model, individuals who got caught had to bear the full weight of the legal costs. This might be a little more convincing if the level of damages the record industry seeks from "file-sharers" weren't, themselves, totally disproportionate. It seems a little odd to be worried by the chap from Kings Lynn having to pay costs when you're relaxed about him having to find £5,000 in compensation.

Phillips was also asked about mistaken identity, which he conveniently explained out of existence - when it happens in the states, it's usually the kids of the person accused, he claimed. He then said - presumably to head off the inevitable follow-up about dead people and grandmothers without computers receiving summonses - that he didn't know very much detail about what happened in America. Which is either a surprising gap in knowledge for someone supposedly speaking with authority on copyright matters (like choosing Shakespeare as your Mastermind subject but then claiming to not really know the tragedies) or a bit of a fib.


Yes, since you ask. Nudging 103 it was. And the swelling, you don't want to know about the swelling. No, you're better off not getting too close.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Velvet Revolver want you

When Velvet Revolver proudly announced they'd move forward without Scott Weiland, they sounded like a band with a plan B.

And, indeed, they did: they're going to advertise online for a singer:

"The band is actually talking about actually building a website [and] doing some auditions via that, so that's been something that's developing at this point," guitarist Slash told

They're actually talking about doing that.

Apparently, this could be happening, ooh, "in the next month or so."

Meanwhile, they've got a gig to get through, which they're going to do Have I Got News For You style:
"I'm not gonna name any names, but a bunch of well-known people will get up and sing some songs, and then also bring up a couple people that we think are pretty good and might sing a couple songs," Slash said. "So it'd just be for fun."

The not-naming-any-names gambit is, we're sure, because of contractual reasons and not because they haven't actually had anyone sign on. We're sure the people with tickets to the Vegas gig, though, will be delighted to hear it's "just for fun", which presumably means they'll have their ticket price refunded?

More tour pain

Neko Case has hobbled off the New Pornographers tour after fracturing her ankle.

She'd tried to carry on, dragging her broken bones through two gigs, explained the band in a statement:

"[She] was really trying to be a trooper and stayed on as long as was possible through Richmond and Athens, but it has gotten to the point where she must return home.

"She's very upset about having to leave, it's been super fun having her on stage and around the bus. We hope that you understand Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, Madison and Cleveland. The rest of us will just have to play that much harder to put on the best show possible."

We're sure the towns will be understanding about the non-appearance of Case, although they might be less forgiving on the use of the phrase "super fun".

We have sympathy for him

We're sat here feeling rotten, so our sympathies for Tom Woodhead are more-than-usually heartfelt: his bad throat led to Forward Russia canceling their Newcastle gig last night. They're hoping to pick up in Liverpool tonight.

Showbiz Zoe climbs back on the horse

With last week's Oasis-to-play-Dome story rousing Noel Gallagher himself to go out and rubbish it within hours of the Sunday Mirror, what's Showbiz Zoe got for her Zoe Showbiz showbiz column with Showbiz Zoe?

Something about Kylie Minogue having blind dates. Or, rather, double-blind dates as Zoe doesn't seem to know who they're with:

The pop goddess's most recent romantic rendezvous was with one of New York's wealthiest businessmen.

Zoe seems to know rather a lot about a man whose name she doesn't know:
But what ticks my boxes - and probably Kylie's too - is that he owns a yacht and has a private jet on standby.

Yes, because Kylie is probably going to be swayed by whether a bloke fannies about on a yacht.

Zoe also has a photo of Agyness Deyn, which prompts her to observe:
Not sure about socks with shoes, but with those legs Agy gets away with anything

Eh? When did it become a fashion no-no to wear socks with shoes? Sandals, I knew about; clogs and flip-flops make sense - but are the kids really not wearing socks when they wear shoes now?

Rav Singh spots a spliff

Rav's big deal today is that he's got pictures of Amy Winehouse smoking cannabis in Camden.

Or, perhaps, a roll-up. Clearly, everyone in Wapping is happy that Amy is unlikely to sue.

Rav, though, seems a little addled himself:

My snapper took these pics of the troubled drug-addict as she returned to her Camden home after celebrating a pal's birthday in London.

Your snapper, Rav? Then why is the picture splashed with a copyright message for

Meanwhile, Rav ponders about Billie Piper's sex life:
LOVED-UP BILLIE PIPER and LAURENCE FOX are hoping for a New Year baby, I can reveal.

The Dr Who star has told friends she's ready to have one. Billie and actor Laurence got married on New Year's Eve last year and the pair hope to hear the patter of tiny feet shortly after their first anniversary.

If you actually calculate back from a birth date in the early days of 2009, this story turns out to be "Billie Piper and her husband are having sex at the moment". Oddly, our jaws are having trouble dropping to the floor.

The family that plays together...

It might just be a made-up tale filling the pages of this morning's News of the World, but they seem to believe that Paul McCartney wants to take Heather Mills on tour with him. Or, rather, he wants Bea to go, and is thinking of taking Heather to allow that to happen:

An aide told us: "Paul is desperate to keep Bea close by him. If he just heads off round the world he will get upset at not seeing her.

Mucca"He realises he has to do some kind of deal with Heather, and to keep disruption to a minimum he has come up with this idea. He feels that letting Heather fly to him where they are touring could be the best way."

No word yet on if he plans to fly Heather out A-Class or B-Class.

This idea might not be as ridiculous as it sounds, though: how better to stop Heather popping up all over the place exploding than to keep her close by?