Saturday, October 18, 2008

Charlotte Hatherley weekend: The Name Of The Game

A spot of Abba covering now, from Plug in Sheffield last October:

[Part of the Charlotte Hatherley weekend]

The Music falls silent

The Music have canceled tonight's gig in Holmfirth - home of Last Of The Summer Wine, reports

because of problems with frontman Rob Harvey's voice.

Odd that none of them had noticed them before, isn't it?

Seriously, though, let's hope he's back to normal for Keele tomorrow.

Bono's friends: LiveNation gives chunk to U2

The deal between U2 and LiveNation which sees U2 leave Island for the company included U2 receiving about $19million worth of stock in the company.

It's so nice when workers get to take a stake in the employers, isn't it?

Neil Young, back in 2003, before it became politically necessary for Clear Channel to spin off LiveNation, observed:

"They are anti-music, and they don't get the spirit of it."

But, like U2, they do understand money. LiveNation tends to operate something of a monopoly in the medium-and-up concert promotion field in the US, and exploit that to keep prices high, sucking as much money out of concert goers as they can. Not just at the box office, but also through concession stands, too. Still, as you're being shaken down in future, you can be happy knowing that a slice of the supernormal profits will be going to keep Bono comfy enough as he lectures the rest of us about poverty.

Hank Williams does Palin's bidding

As if the family name hadn't been sullied enough, Hank Williams Junior is trading in what's left of his goodwill in the interests of supporting Sarah Palin and John McCain.

He's rewritten Family Tradition as the McCain-Palin Tradition (a tradition that stretches back to, erm, September, given that they're keen to claim to have nothing to do with previous administrations). But it gets worse than that. Much worse:

The chorus now includes the lines "John and Sarah tell ya just what they think, and they're not gonna blink"

Although Palin is known for a quick wink. And on the rare occasions when Sarah does tell you just what she thinks, she then has to appear on the news with McCain with him complaining that she was tricked into saying what she thinks by a devious person asking her a straight question.

Charlotte Hatherley weekend: Summer

Summer, recorded live in Birmingham on March 3rd, 2007:

[Part of The Charlotte Hatherley weekend]

My sweet Lord: Lloyd-Webber offers Eurovision song

One cheer, if that, for the news that the UK is revamping its approach to Eurovision for 2009. It's much needed, but the solution is to get Andrew Lloyd Webber to write a song, while Graham Norton will host a talent show to find someone to sing it.

Yes, they've scrapped Making Your Mind Up and replaced it with the bastard child of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

The trouble is, does Lloyd Webber really know how to write a cracking pop tune? Let's not forget the last time he dabbled in pop the result was Bombalurina - Timmy Mallet, a novelty cover and a few three-years-out-of-date "oh yeahs". The nations of Eastern Europe are not, I suspect, quaking tonight.

Comes with confusion: Nokia claim there's no 120 song limit

The story of Nokia's Comes With Music deal gets even more tortuous: The Times Mousestrap blog asked Nokia if it was true there was a cap of 120 tracks on users. Unlike back in September when The Guardian asked, and Nokia gave a vague response, Nokia are now denying there's any limit at all:

Once you have bought a Nokia Comes With Music device, there is no per-track cost for these unlimited downloads. There have been some media reports that there is a maximum of 120 tracks but this is not correct.

You'll note the careful wording of there being "no per-track cost", which isn't quite the same thing as "free". Still, there's no limit on downloads, then?

Your licence to download Comes With Music Content is limited to your personal, non-commercial and reasonable use. If our analysis of your use of the service suggests abusive or excessive downloading, Nokia may contact you and ask you to moderate your usage. If you fail to comply with such a request, Nokia reserves the right to restrict or terminate your use of the service.

So the general guidance we give is that you can download as much music as you want as long as you use the service for your own personal, non-commercial use.

So there is a limit, you just don't know what it is in advance - and it's what Nokia deem to be "reasonable". Perhaps Nokia might like to share what their concept of "reasonable" is with their customers before asking them to buy a service. It would seem to be hard to decide if a deal is a good one if you don't know how many tracks you're being allowed to buy. And it's not entirely straight to suggest a service is unlimited when, erm, there actually is a limit on usage - however generous and understandable that might be.

Venuewatch: De-Grated

It's been quite a while since Liverpool's Grafton club was on the circuit - the Beatles played there in the past, but it's glory days have so far receded into the distance it's perhaps not surprising its owners are closing it down once and for all. The site is going to become a comedy club.

Charlotte Hatherley weekend: with Client

Here's something extra: Charlotte playing bass with Client on Sweden's TV4 for It's Not Over and Drive:

[Part of the Charlotte Hatherley weekend]

Nelly Furtado changes relationship status

Nelly Furtado did that strange thing for a famous person: she got married without inviting a magazine to give her large piles of cash.

Furtado married Demacio "Demo" Castellon back in July, but nobody noticed until, as SFGate puts it:

The news comes just days after Furtado was spotted out in Miami, Fla., wearing a large sparkler on her ring finger.

I once had an uncle who strapped a roman candle to his head. He was hoping for attention, too.

RIAA: disagreements vex us

Back in September, the world learned that the RIAA was trying to have a lawyer branded as vexatious because, erm, he disagreed with their behaviour.

Now, they've gone a step further: they're trying to have Whitney Harper branded as vexatious, too. The cause of the label's vexation? She has refused to pay a demand for alleged illegal downloading and exercised her right to have the claim heard by a jury.

There's a precise legal definition of vexatious - the RIAA, though, seems to think that it can just use it whenever anyone annoys them slightly. You find yourself wondering if their lawyers are actual legally trained people, or if all the cases are being handled by Mitch Bainwol, a guy who set his PVR up to get the last run of Boston Legal and still intends to watch them one day, and a well-thumbed 1973 edition of Readers Digest's Your Guide To The Law.

[Thanks to Gareth J for the tip]

Gordon in the morning: Divorce is confusing and upsetting

Gordon's back on the Madonna divorce this morning, with Emma Cox helping out, as Smart details what Ritchie might expect:

GUY RITCHIE will get at least £20million in cash and properties worth many more millions in his surprise settlement with MADONNA, it emerged last night.

The 40-year-old film director gets the couple’s 1,200-acre country estate and a swanky London pub.
The total value will be around $60million — enough for Guy to walk away satisfied.

Well, who wouldn't be satisified with a big bundle of notes and not having to pretend to like Madonna's acting any more, huh?

And Gordon and Emma must be delighted to have this scoop, blowing out the water claims from earlier in the week that Guy wasn't looking for a single penny piece. The delight only slightly tempered by that story having, erm, come from Gordon and Emma.

Embed and breakfast man: Charlotte Hatherley

She was excellent in Night Nurse. She brought something to Ash that unquestionably reinvigorated a band that could have slipped into being an indie-by-numbers outfit. And since she was - shall we say - phased out of the band, she's been turning out some cracking solo music. Apparently there's a new record being slapped together - Luke Smith produced, Alan Moulder mixed and it's being mastered right this second. First fruits - a downloady single of some sort - should be here before St Stephens Day. Meanwhile, let's remind ourselves of what we've been missing.

Kicking off with the promo for Bastardo - or B*stardo as Amazon know it:

And, like some sort of DVD extra, here's a making of feature - might seem like nothing to you; to ITV2, this is an evening's programming:

Hatherley on line
Official site
Last FM

The Deep Blue
Grey Will Fade

More videos this weekend
Performing with Client on TV4
Summer live in Birmingham
The Name Of The Game live in Sheffield

Motownobit: Levi Stubbs

After a long period of ill-health, Levi Stubbs passed on Friday at his home in Detroit.

The son a foundary worker, Stubbs was born in June 1936. His real name was the subtly but importantly different Levi Stubbles. It was in Detroit, while at Pershing High School, that Levi formed a band with Abdul "Duke" Fakir; in 1954 they hooked up at a party with Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Lawrence Payton and The Four Tops was born. Almost. For a while, they were The Four Aims, which was changed to The Four Tops to avoid confusion with another local band, The Ames Brothers. While the name might have changed, the line-up was pretty solid and lasted for 44 years, until the death of Payton enforced a change of personnel.

In a lucky break, Roquel "Billy" Davis - Payton's cousin who was sometimes drafted in as an extra voice for the group - was a gifted songwriter; Chess records was keen to sign him up to write for the their artists and this gave him the chance to push the Four Tops onto the label. The cut one single for Chess, Kiss Me Baby, which was to be the start of a seven year slog through a number of labels and a large pile of unsold records.

It wasn't until arriving at Berry Gordy's Workshop Jazz label that the band's success playing live started to find a successful shape on disc - Breaking Through wasn't exactly a major smash, but it was enough to persuade Gordy to try moving the band towards soul, shifting them to his more mainstream Motown imprint and, crucially, pairing the group up with Holland-Dozier-Holland. Baby I Need Your Loving reached number 11, and kick-started an eight year stretch of some of the most sublime music ever to grace the US charts.

The depature of Holland-Dozier-Holland from Motown in 1967 started a period of mild decline for the band's fortunes: they still had hits, but 1968 saw them treading water releasing cover versions. Fair enough, one of those covers was Walk Away Renee, but it was a cover nevertheless.

In 1972, unwilling to follow Motown out of Detroit to the new LA base, the band moved to ABC/Dunhill where they had a mini resurgence before fading again. Casablanca Records would be their next home in 1981, delivering their final significant hit, When She Was My Girl. By 1983, they were back at Motown but adjusting to a position as a heritage act.

Stubbs had two acting roles under his belt - one major, one somewhat more obscure. He was the voice of the plant in Little Shop Of Horrors and of Mother Brain in the Captain N Super Mario Brothers spin-off franchise.

He quit touring in 2000 when his health deteriorated. Levi Stubbs was 72; he is survived by five children, 11 grandchildren, and Clineice. At 48 years, their marriage was as durable as the band which made him famous.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guy Ritchie gets his Dad to go down the school

We took our kitten for his orchidectomy today. It looks like Sumesh wasn't the only one to have his manhood permanently rmeoved, as Guy Ritchie's Dad has decided he needs to protect his son from that beastly Madonna:

In his first comments about the marriage split, Ritchie's father, John, said of the reports: "She is being beastly. She is saying, 'Did you ever love me?' It goes back to a time when she fell off her horse and she's blaming him for that. She's calling him an emotional retard. When he's being bashed by her it's horrid."

Oddly, John Ritchie appears to be responding not to actual horridness, but horridness reported in The Sun. And even if you do have a famous son and still believe every word you read in the papers, wouldn't he have noticed that the quote wasn't actually fresh but supposedly from ages ago? And that he wasn't being blamed for her falling off the horse, but for apparently not giving a shake of the mane about it?

Guy likes to rub shoulder with geezer types; it's going to be quite hard for him to hold his head up when his Dad feels he needs help to ward off three year-old misquotes from his own wife. I'm picturing Guy turning up at his Dad's house, looking desperately through the window, crying "Dad! Leave the reviews for Revolver alone... please don't ring Philip French at home... Dad... Dad..."

Still, we should all laugh while we can - each one of us will be the loser in this:
His father said from the doorstep of his Chelsea home: "I haven't spoken to Guy for a few days. He's very busy. He is really into his new film. He's up to here with work."

Nothing, surely, is more chilling than the thought that Guy Ritchie is throwing himself into his work.

Knebworth - careful with that 'e', typesetter

One good thing about the Oasismandias tour this summer - it might shut them up about those Knebworth gigs from years and years ago. Do you remember when playing Knebworth was seen as a sign of virility, and any old milksop who wanted to look the big I am dreamed of playing there? Thank god we're past that now, eh?

Oh, hang on... what's this Newsbeat is reporting?

Coldplay are planning to play a massive one-off gig in the grounds of Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.

Chris Martin revealed the news exclusively to Zane Lowe on Radio 1 on Thursday night.

He didn't quite say Knebworth, though - presumably it's meant to be a secret. Instead, in a scene reminiscent of the "it's a telescupe - but that's a codeword" Fry and Laurie sketch, he made a subtle reference so that the cognoscenti might guess:
"We're trying to book a place that rhymes with Blebworth.

"We realised there's a lot of people who don't like us in Britain but, you know, they don't have to come."

Well, of course, Chris. If you were going to hold a gig for people who don't like you, you'd be having to book out Kneb... sorry, Blebworth every night for the next forty-two summers.

Noel Gallagher suggest Oasis + Kasabian is 'better than Glastonbury', somehow

Apparently unaware that he's flogging a one-note night rather than a four-day event, Noel Gallagher has launched into a Del Boy sales pitch for the Oasisabian tour of 2009:

At a press conference at Wembley Stadium, Gallagher said: "When Michael Eavis reads about this, he will shit himself. I wouldn't bother. This is where it is going to be at next summer.

"Glastonbury is great to be at but it's not really great for people like us to play at. You don't get on until 11 o'clock at night and by the time you get on, all the people that you are with are absolutely bladdered. I think it's better to be at than play at.

"The last time we did Glastonbury, I said I don't think we will ever do it again."

He added that there was something "weird" about playing in front of the "festival crowd" and that there were "not enough speakers".

Gallagher, who hit out at the decision to ask Jay-Z to headline Glastonbury last summer, said: "These gigs are going to be easily the gigs of next year, if not the decade. They are gigs that go down in people's memories... where they might meet their future wives.

"I give thanks that we're going to be headlining it and not just the heritage act before the young kids. Liam, on the other hand, will shit himself," he joked.

Noel seems confused - is he suggesting that Oasis would be natural headliners or mid-afternoon fodder? If he thinks that Glastonbury is better to be at rather than play at, is he suggesting that - since most of don't actually play at festivals - we should all go to Glastonbury or instead play a gig in a park in Manchester instead? And does he really think that anyone who still likes Oasis is really still so delectably marriageable they'll be pairing off in large numbers at Wembley? And... oh, there's just so many people supposedly shitting themselves... it all... need... to get outside...
... ah, that's better...

They forgot to give Britney a copy of today's paper to prove she's still alive

There are lots of this sort of video on the internet; normally, though, they've been filmed in order to persuade governments to cut a deal or to encourage insurgents. This time, though, it's intended to push a Britney Spears website overhaul:

[via Holy Moly]

Simon Cowell takes a pride in his work

If someone took an already damaged person, and dragged them into a city centre and humiliated them, you'd expect police to get involved.

If it happens on national TV, everyone gives Simon Cowell money. How does that work, exactly?

Nikki McKibbin has been telling Us magazine about how far the duty of care on American Idol goes. It's not that far:

"I came out of Idol with a lack of self-confidence," McKibbin tells the new issue of Us Weekly. "I think I had my first solo in school when I was 5, and I got more as I got older: That's the biggest compliment in choir. I had never been told I wasn't good enough. Having to hear it for so many weeks from Simon Cowell killed me inside. I couldn't get the s--t he had said to me out of my head."

She continued: "It drove me deeper into my depression. I wouldn't say that this was Simon's fault. It just added to the addict that I already was."

"We were heavily chaperoned, but I would buy vodka and sneak it into the refrigerator on the bottom floor," McKibbin tells Us. "If I wasn't too exhausted, I'd have one or two drinks."

Presumably that's Cowell's caring strategy - "if we can tire the addicts out, they might not have enough energy to get the lids off the bottles or find a mirror..."

RIAA won't listen

Cassettes Won't Listen had recently been pitching for free the album Ludacrisdemocracy, a mashy-bashy delight that took the Chinese Democracy tunes that had previously leaked and slapped chunks of Ludacris over them.

Quite a delight.

Of course, the sound of young people having fun attracted the attention of the RIAA who have rushed forward with a cease and desist causing it to disappear from the internet in everything but fact.

Oasis fans left naked and ashamed

Mike Baldwin traveled from London to Greater Manchester, bringing with him cunning London know-how about how to make cheap clothes and keep down the proletariat at the same time.

Mancunians have learned those skills well, and now Noel and Liam are embarking on a little bit of the rag trade for themselves. Unfortunately, the forgot the importance of having an Elsie Tanner in the supervisor's office to make sure it all works properly. James P picks up the story:

Oasis have generously offered their US fans a free shirt. All they have to do is install a widget and listen to six new tracks. They'll then be redirected to a form which lets them order their reward.

...and here's what actually happened:

Complaints from hapless fans include;
- 'I can't get in'
- 'The website's broken'
- 'It's telling me I 'may be chosen to win' a shirt'
- 'It said that I wanted 17 of the shirts for $220.83'

Care to wager how many days until Noel Gallagher promises us that the *next* widget-based online giveaway will be loads better?

Even if the crazy plan worked, how bloody brilliant would a t-shirt have to be to make you sit through six Oasis tunes end-to-end?

Katy Perry: Grinny's cake crisis

Katy Perry - who, for some reason, turned up at the MTV Latin American awards - indulged in those sorts of fun and games which seem like larks until someone loses any eye.

Jumping into a cake seemd like such a good idea, until Perry discovered why it's called icing:

[Thanks to Michael M]

Good enough? Mathew fills Ringo's hole

With Ringo's deadline for signing stuff looming, thank god Dodgy have arranged a bail-out. Two-time Ringo in a Beatles tribute band, Mathew Priest is offering to sign on Ringo's behalf. Only from the 21st, mind:

[Thanks to Mike E for the tip]

Gordon in the morning: Can't we all try to get on with our lives?

Just one person filing for the Madonna divorce story today - Virginia Wheeler is charged with going through the whole thing again. Readers of The Sun might be a little confused, having been told over the last couple of years that the marriage is strong, that it's being repaired, that it's over, that it's never been a genuine love match, that Madonna is in fact a man called Malcolm and that it fell apart before they even met. Today's line? Apparently it's been dead since 2005, with the most ridiculous headline ever to grace a break-up story:

The moment Madonna fell off that horse, the marriage was doomed

Having had a Gordon Smart inspired pro-Guy start to the coverage, today the paper suddenly realises it was backing the wrong horse, and shifts its support from a bloke who makes bad movies to the woman who, you know, people still want to read about:
But we can reveal that the truth behind the episode was that Madonna felt 40-year-old Guy “abandoned her emotionally”.

And she became so embittered over his “shabby treatment” that she told pals at the time: “He can’t possibly be my soulmate.”

With Wheeler busy drafting the new party line for Madonna coverage, luckily there's something to occupy Gordon's attention.

Yes, breasts:
Xtina's boobs are simply huge

Now, I know that complaining that a tabloid is obsessed with breasts is somewhat redundant, but even Gordon used to make a bit of an effort, trying to suggest there was some news story vaguely connected to the breasts, or at least trying to come up with a pun. Today, though, he does appear to have thought 'woman has large breasts' is a story complete of itself.

By next week, there won't be any words on Bizarre's pages any more; it'll just be a photo of Gordon making a cupping gesture with one hand and pointing with the other.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Terror threat: Extreme, Noisy

There's a new album due on December 1st from Extreme Noise Terror; meanwhile, they've cancelled their tour of Mexico which had been due to take place this week.

At first, ENT were outraged that the local promoter was ripping everyone off:

In the last few weeks we started to receive concerned emails from people in Mexico asking if we were still playing the concerts (as we had listed dates for the shows here on our myspace page & our official web page) & those people were saying that they had not seen any posters/flyers for the shows in the cities where we were ment to be playing! Again, some people were saying they had heard 'rumours' that the tour was not going to happen as we were asking too much money & nobody would book us! That concerned us & we have now had some contact with the people from one of the concerts (the Let's Grind The Border Fest crew) & we asked them if they could tell us anything about what was going on or if they had heard from Benjamin. They told us that originally Benjamin was asking each local promoter to pay him an advance sum of money of 25,000 pesos (approximately £1,170) & that they themselves had actually paid this to him in monthly instalments (and in good faith) & also a promoter in Mexico City has paid 15,000 pesos to Benjamin but no other promoter was willing to pay this money to him! Now, to the best of our knowledge Benjamin has not repaid that money to those people & has essentially ripped them off & stolen their money & if he actually releases the ENT cd, he has ripped us off as well as he still owes us $500! Some days before we wrote this blog i personally wrote to Benjamin one last time asking if he would explain himself & this whole crazy mess & if he was actually ok but again i have received no reply....NOTHING! I also explained that if he would not communicate with us i would have no choice other than to write these words.

So, we would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the people who were expecting to see us in Mexico & we hope that one day we will still be able to play some concerts there. It is not our fault that the tour did not happen & we will not be held responsible for this fucked up situation. If anybody wants to know more information about this, all of Benjamin's email address's are below so please write to him & ask him the questions....we hope you have more luck than we did!

That was posted to their MySpace; a day later, everyone has kissed and made up:
Since then we have exchanged just two emails & have sorted out the differences, i told him it was a shame that he just hadn't contacted us sooner to make us aware of the situation he found himself in & that we would of been completely understanding. It would of also been better for the people who intended to come & see ENT to have been more aware of the truth/real situation & not for them to hear only childish rumours of what 'might' have been happening!

I would like to take this opportunity & state that in the blog i wrote i have one piece of information wrong regarding the amount of money paid to Benjamin from the promoter in Mexico City & instead of them making an up front payment of 15,000 pesos Benjamin assures me it was only 5000 pesos but i could only write what i had been told & at that point (and after asking Benjamin for the real facts but receiving no reply) i had nothing else to base my opinion/words on.

Upon our renewed contact i asked Benjamin whether or not he intended to repay the money to those promoters & he assured me he will do that very soon & that he would still like to release the ENT 'Best Of' cd on his label, Estajanovismo Records. With some deliberation i decided to allow him to do that & again, he assures me he will pay us the other $500 for the cd in the next 5 - 10 days. I am a firm believer of giving some people a second chance as we all make mistakes & we should all be given the chance to (hopefully) learn from those situations. It's good to see someone willing to make amends for their mistakes which many people would find difficult to do as it requires a lot of personal energy & admission. One of the reasons also behind my decision to allow him to continue with the release is that he, to the best of my knowledge, is the only person who has ever contacted us from Mexico & shown an interest in releasing any of our material & i think it would be a positive move if people were able to buy a cd of our material at a low price instead of paying shitty extortionate import or eBay prices! The cd should hopefully be released in the early part of '09

Ahh... don't you love a happy ending? The Mexico tour, though, remains canceled.

Oasis tour big venues

So, then, that "you'll never guess in a million, billion years" venue that Noel Gallagher was talking about? It turns out to be Heaton Park. Yes, you'd never guess they're playing a park which has hosted music events in the past.

Tickets are going to go on sale a week tomorrow at 10am [that's Friday 24th] so expect Saturday week lots of self-congratulatory "sold out in thirteen seconds" press activity.

These are the dates:

Saturday 06 June 2009 MANCHESTER, Heaton Park
Sunday 07 June 2009 MANCHESTER, Heaton Park
Wednesday 10 June 2009 SUNDERLAND, Stadium of Light
Friday 12 June 2009 CARDIFF, Millennium Stadium
Wednesday 17 June 2009 EDINBURGH, Murrayfield
Saturday 20 June 2009 DUBLIN, Slane Castle
Saturday 11 July 2009 LONDON, Wembley Stadium
Sunday 12 July 2009 LONDON, Wembley Stadium

And guess who's supporting? That's right: Kasabian. It's like Gordon Smart's bestest gig ever.

Seeded out: City drop drink-drive dj

Kev Seed, who has been with Radio City for over a decade, has been axed after pleading guilty to driving on the M6 while over the limit.

Seed is somewhat surprised, to say the least:

"I am in a state of total shock. After 11 years, I just did not expect this."

He's appealing against the decision.

Jackets off

My Morning Jacket have just pulled their European tour through online statementing:

It is with great regret that we have to announce the cancellation of My Morning Jacket's up-coming tour to Europe due to injuries suffered by Jim in Iowa City. For the fans who have purchased tickets, we would like to extend our gratitude for your support and understanding. Our hope was to merely postpone the tour, but as our scheduling does not allow that to happen in the immediate future, we feel it is best to cancel this tour in hopes of re-scheduling at some point.

We would also like to say 'thank you' to all the fans who have reached out to Jim with their well-wishes as we all hope for his speedy and full recovery.

In what seems to be a pre-emptive over-reaction backlash, the reaction on the band's forum has started with a prediction of "why do you hate Europe" posts that, so far, have failed to materialise.

E!'s Answer Bitch gets to grips with McCain question

In what we take to be an email from a Republican, the Answer Bitch is challenged about anti-McCain bands:

If I hear one more band complain about the Republicans using their songs in the presidential campaign, I'll scream. Why don't these singers just shut up and sue?

The AB trots through the 'actually, what McCain is doing is wrong but not illegal' argument, but misses the broader point: isn't it, you know, a cornerstone of American democracy that you have the right to make your voice heard; that if someone is implying an endorsement of their creepy policies by using your work it's not whinging to make it loud and clear that, actually, you disendorse them; and that wouldn't the world be a better place if people didn't immediately rush to sue when something happens with which they disagree and - far from whining - the likes of Jovi and Heart are setting an example that their fellow Americans might wish to follow?

This is kind of official, then

It's pre-pre-order status, but BestBuy is showing Chinese Democracy in its catalogue.

Cartoonistobit: Ray Lowry

Really sorry to hear of the death of Ray Lowry, the cartoonist whose career was reinvigorated by punk.

Lowry had already built a reputation on the underground press circuit in the late 1960s, working for titles like the International Times and Oz, but it was the 1970s where he really kicked into gear - sending illustrated reports back from The Clash's tour of the US to the NME, most notably. He designed the London Calling sleeve for the group - which surely gives him a position in British music culture at least alongside Peter Blake - and, more recently, returned to adding pictures to words about the band for Johnny Green's A Riot Of Our Own.

It was as a cartoonist, though, that he earned his living: providing acerbic editorial and pocket cartoons for the NME, of course, before moving on to provide work for everybody from Punch to Private Eye, the early Face and - perhaps uniquely - getting paid for material by The Spectator, New Society and Loaded.

Ray, who was 64, was found dead at his Lancashire home on Tuesday. His official website team is collecting tributes.

My favourite Lowry cartoon was one of a series of his 'men in a high-powered office' sketches, featuring a top-paid business man sat at his desk, the penthouse floors of lowlier skyscrapers visible through the window. A pinstriped arm reaches for the intercom, and the caption: "Remind me again, Miss Jones - what was my raison d'etre?"

Mobos a "triumph" as Brits win UK categories

The Guardian coverage of the Mobos is slightly surprising, hailing a great night for the British:

Rule Britannia: Estelle leads UK stars in Mobo sweep

Breaking the tradition of British R&B stars playing second fiddle to their US counterparts, Estelle and Leona Lewis last night capped a successful year by dominating the Mobo awards.

Well... yes, although since the awards are split into UK and rest of the world categories, it does help a little, don't you think? If the British showing was that strong, why not allow our team to fight against the rest of the world?

Comes With Music doesn't, actually, come with music

There's been much excitement over Nokia's Comes With Music phone, pegging it as a simultaneous iPhone and iTunes killer. And you can see where the thrill lies - you buy a phone, and you get access to Nokia's fabulous music library, forever, for free.

Only now that a deal has been struck with a carrier - 3, in the UK - it turns out to not be quite so sweet a deal after all. Andrew Orlowski runs through the small print:

Comes With Music reportedly bundles "free and unlimited" music downloads with selected Nokia handsets. But actually, it doesn't. Downloads are limited to 120 per year*, and there's an upfront charge of £129.95 at Carphone Warehouse. So it more accurately resembles the Britannia CD club model: pay up front and get some albums.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the weasel words in Nokia's press release:

"Comes With Music offers one year of unlimited access to the entire Nokia Music Store catalogue…"

But access to the Store is not the same as unlimited downloads, of course. Asked about this, Nokia's EVP of entertainment Tero Ojanpera repeated that unlimited meant unlimited access, not downloads.

So, that would be Comes Without Music But You Can Pay For Music If You Like. Just Not Too Many Tunes, Eh? Don't Go Mad Or Anything. Two Songs A Week.

Oh, and if we've done the maths correctly, at £129 for 120 songs, that's not only not free, but more expensive than average downloads.

[UPDATE: Nokia's PR team have been denying there's a 120 song limit but admit there is a "reasonable" usage clause in the deal.]

Gordon in the morning: In the wreck of a marriage

Another three-headed Sunbeast leads off Bizarre this morning, as Gordon gets some help with the writing and the typing from Virginia Wheeler and Emily Smith again. The trio laugh at the very idea that the Ciccone relationship has been fought for:

THE marriage of Madonna and Guy Ritchie has been dogged by bitterness and recrimination for YEARS — and any notion that they have battled to save it is a myth.

Oddly, the paper doesn't find room within its acres of coverage to explain the articles from the previous years where it's insisted the marriage is back on track, or being rebuilt - but perhaps that's just because most of today's piece is made from unsourced rumour and unnamed friends and, you know, when you're treating a story that is little more than 'mismatched couple end unfortunate realtionship' as if it requires acres of coverage, you don't want to start by admitting the people writing it have no real idea what's going on.

Gordon's fingerprints on the story result in the a skew in Guy's favour:
She's got £300m, he's got £30m, but...the Guy doesn't want a penny

'but'? Surely that should be 'so'? The idea that a multimillionaire not seeking more multimillions is somehow a noble act is ridiculous.

Mind you, Madonna might consider that not having to go to any more premieres of b-movie gangster flicks could be worth paying a few million quid for.

Life goes on:
The singer hid in a blacked-out SUV as she left her New York apartment for Boston for the first leg of her Sticky and Sweet tour.

Yes, she was hiding in a blacked-out car, rather than merely traveling in it. Normally, she'd hop on the Metro and get the Greyhound to Boston.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Republicans upset yet another musician

At this rate, if McCain does win and makes it through to his inauguration, they're only going to have the Charlie Daniels Band left to play for the party. Jon Bon Jovi has joined the chorus of acts asking the GOP to just not play their music. Sarah Palin - who's based on a character created by Tina Fey - had been using Who Says You Can't Go Home at her rallies.

Which not only implies an endorsement from Bon Jovi, but is a poorly chosen song anyway: nobody is saying you can't go home, Sarah; indeed, half the world is praying that you will.

The other awards tonight: The ASCAPS

I don't often get surprised by the winners of awards, but tonight's ASCAP prizes have left me agape.

Corinne Bailey Rae's Go Put Your Record On has been named 'song of the year' and even more confusingly in the arse-end of 2008, Dido has picked up songwriter of the year. Have I missed something? There's some talk that she's about to release a single later this month, but how can a year stretch so far to include the release of Bailey Rae's track and the release of Dido's new material?

Jonny Greenwood picked up an award for his There Will Be Blood soundtrack.

Mobos distributed in equitable fashion

In an age when even the US government is nationalising banks, perhaps it's unsurprising that the Mobos have been given out in a fair-shares for all way, with Estelle and Leona Lewis getting two prizes each.

It probably doesn't matter over much who got which, but Estelle got best UK female and best song (American Boy) while Leona took best album and the in-no-way-consolatory best video prize.

Dizzee Rascal took the Best And, Honestly, He Wasn't The Only Bloke We Could Think Of For The Shortlist UK Male Award.

Chris Brown turned up, and thus qualified for Best International Artist.

The Mobos web site hasn't been updated with details of the any of the winners. Can't they find anyone to take a laptop along?

TT on tour

If you enjoyed our Chris TT video extravaganza at the weekend - we say "ours", like we did anything more elaborate in the creation of it than pasting some embed codes - you'll be delighted to hear that there's a new single and a massive tour about to happen. We Are The King Of England is out on October 27th; the tour dates are coming near you. If you're anywhere in the UK or Ireland. Or Italy:

19 Snafu, Aberdeen 7pm £5
21The Cockpit, Leeds 7pm £8
22 The Duchess, York 7.30pm £8
23 Oran Moor, Glasgow 7.30pm £8
24 Academy 3, Manchester 8pm £8.50
25 The Barfly, Birmingham 7.30pm £8
26 The Phoenix Arts, Exeter 8pm £8
27 Wedgewood Rooms, Ports 8pm £8
28 The Ansom Rooms, Bristol 8pm £9
29 The Scala, London 7.30pm £12.50
30 Tower Arts, Winchester 8pm £8
31 The Rescue Rooms, Notts 7pm £8
2 The Barfly, Liverpool 7.30pm £8
3 Roisin Dubh, Galway 8pm €10
4 Cypress Avenue, Cork 8pm €8
5 Auntie Annies, Belfast 8pm €6
6 Crawdaddy, Dublin 8pm €14
26 Forli Diagonal, Italy Bologna (Italy)
27 Fucecchio Limonaia, Firenze (Italy)
28 Recanati Extra Carrara (Italy)
29 Rome Blackout) Rome (Italy)

Chasing In Rainbows: Radiohead accounts

About-a-year-on, Warner Chappell, the publishers for Radiohead's catalogue, have revealed some of the sales figures for In Rainbows.

Tellingly, they still don't confirm what the average amount paid per download was, but the company confirms that three million tracked copies of the album were sold - across the box set, various official download sites and the pay-what-you-want site. As the Music Ally blog points out, this compares with six-figure sales for the last three albums from the band; it's also despite there being far more copies harvested online in the traditional (i.e. without paying) fashion.

Yes, it's Radiohead and it doesn't mean that Frank from the pub would sell millions if he adopted the model, but even so - Radiohead did much, much better financially than they would have done if they'd just shipped a load of CDs to HMV and skidded on the iTunes. What the figures can't show is what the effect would have been had In Rainbows been one of dozens of albums from dozens of bands being released in a similar fashion - how much the boost came from the flexible payment scheme, and how far it was down to the publicity around the idea.

Yo La Tengo try softly, softly approach

Yo La Tengo have booked up a series of Hanukkah shows for New York this December, but, rather sweetly, are gently acknowledging that gig tickets might seem a luxury when ATM machines are currently being turned into shredders:

As Joan Rivers asked so poignantly: can we talk? With all the economic turmoil turmoiling about us these days, it's not that easy to suggest that you spend what's left of your money with us. But if you've ever attended these Hanukkah shows before, we hope you'll agree that they are unique evenings of entertainment (and if you haven't, there are lengthy descriptions of the 2005 and 2007 editions archived in the News section at We don't take a penny from these shows, and no performer receives anything beyond their expenses.The word benefit is an often abused one, but we promise you, the money you pay is being passed along to charity.
Which brings me to the next point. Over the years, from time to time people have offered unsolicited suggestions about where we could donate the proceeds from individual shows, suggestions we have frequently taken. So let's solicit them this year: If you work for a non-profit organization, don't hesitate to tell us about it. We can't guarantee that we'll select you as one of our recipients, but we will absolutely consider it.

They're polite, everyone benefits; it's a seasonal glow.

New year on the Streets

The Streets are hoping you've already got a 2009 diary, in order to write in their just-announced UK tour:

Thu 22 Jan - Liverpool Academy
Fri 23 - Lincoln Engine Shed
Tue 27 - Cambridge Corn Exchange
Wed 28 - Brighton Dome

Americans get Hitchcock's Train journey

London got to experience Robyn Hitchcock's live revisiting of 1983's I Often Dream Of Trains. Now, Hitchcock - accompanied by Mr. Terry Edwards - is bringing the experience to Americans, living in America:

11/12 San Francisco, CA, The Fillmore
11/13 West Hollywood, CA, Coronet Theater
11/15 Chicago, IL, Old Town School of Music
11/17 Pittsburgh, PA, Hazlet Theater
11/18 Alexandria, VA, The Birchmere
11/19 Philadelphia, PA, World Café Live
11/21 Somerville, MA, Somerville Theater
11/22 New York City, NY, Symphony Space

The New York date is being taped for the Sundance Channel, and so hopefully will get a showing over here at some point.

Noel Gallagher: I am STRONG but Winehouse is weak

Having spent his time yesterday telling Radio Times about the X Factor, Noel Gallagher has now given the benefit of his wisdom to Time Out magazine. In this exclusive insight into his brainy-workings, Noel mused on how fame costs:

"I'm not embarrassed by wealth or fame or stardom," he said. "It's what I was born to do.

"For some people that level of fame can hit you really fuckin' hard. I'm not having a go at her, but the likes of Amy Winehouse have been wiped out by that.

"Whether people would care to admit it or not, that's fame that's done that. Sometimes people think they're not worthy of it, so they build a shell around themselves which cannot be penetrated."

Not embarrassed, huh? Not even a little, when Meg Matthews was busily detailing your life on the chi-chi party scene for the benefit of Sunday Times readers and the wider amusement of the world?

So, Noel, you think Amy Winehouse thinks herself unworthy of fame and has withdrawn into herself as a result? You don't think it's more that her success has allowed her to rise to a level where she is able to indulge her weaknesses and feed addictions without having to worry about the costs in a way that the non-over-wealthy are unable to enjoy, and that it's not the fame but the cash and the stream of people willing to make excuses for her which is doing her in? Substances are hard to turn down, aren't they... remember... to say no...
...make a mental note to yourself... no, no, NO... going... gone...

Oh good. Another music prize.

Uncut - which has, hitherto, held itself somewhat aloof from the tawdry business of reader's polls and awards ceremonies - has decided to be aloof no longer, and announced its own Big Prize.

Introducing, then, The Uncut Music Prize which will invite a panel of judges to choose the best album of the last year.

And, erm, that's it.

At least it's not gone for something flashy and showy, and avoided creating something like Q's seventy-five excuses for semi-famous bands to get prizes deal. But: the best album? Isn't that already covered by the Mercury, and countless categories in other music awards? What's different about this one?

Uncut editor Allan Jones said in a statement: "Reducing our original list of 25 albums to a short list of eight was not what you call an easy task.

"I'm very excited, though, by the final selection of albums that will contest the inaugural Uncut Music Award. The eight shortlisted albums are an exciting reflection of the great music produced over the last year and highlights the diversity of music regularly championed by Uncut.

"What happens next is going to be very interesting indeed."

Aha! So it's a slightly different opinion compared to the Q Awards Best Album, the Mojo best album and the NME best album.

That shortlist in full, then:

Bon Iver – 'For Emma, Forever Ago'
Elbow – 'The Seldom Seen Kid'
Drive-By Truckers – 'Brighter Than Creation's Dark'
The Felice Brothers – 'The Felice Brothers'
Fleet Foxes – 'Fleet Foxes'
The Raconteurs – 'Consolers Of The Lonely'
Radiohead – 'In Rainbows'
Vampire Weekend – 'Vampire Weekend'

Oh, we've been unfair - we didn't realise that the award was dignified by only being open toi blokes.

Hooky unhappy with lossy New Order

Unlike Metallica, who somehow are trying to tell fans that their dissatisfaction with the poor sound quality on the new record is wrong, New Order are actually leading the attacks on the Warners re-release series. Or at least, Peter Hook is - although his name has fallen off ContactMusic's report:

He claimed that the record industry has changed over the years, saying: "They don't have half the staff they used to have so everything becomes quite a trial, and I know from doing the Hacienda compilation tape, you get a lot of masters of old songs - they are mastered from the record because nobody can find the tape."

The bassist also said it was "intensely annoying" that Warners had chosen to distribute the re-issues to the shops before sending them to the band, deeming it "a masterful piece of planning".

I know Hook is being sarcastic, but he's probably hit the needle on the playhead: if you know the records are a bit ropey and the artist is going to kick up a fuss, you probably would plan to release them before seeking feedback. Not only does it stop costs spiralling out of control as you try to placate a famously grumpy bassist, but it opens the doors to yet another bloody edition of the same records five year's hence, with promises of Hook-pleasing fidelity.

Mel B issues statements to reassure the nation

Given that the little bit of bother at the airport was dealt with effectively by the people paid to deal with these things, you might think it goes without saying that Mel B does not need to up her security in response.

But you know the problem with things that go without saying? The thing gone without saying usually fails to get reported, alongside a photo of the person saying the thing and a puff for their latest project. So Mel B has helpfully announced that as a result of a swiftly resolved, unusual situation, she has no plans to change her life:

[T]he singer insists she is determined not to change her way of life and hire security staff following the incident.
She says, "It wouldn't make me feel safer. I think it draws more attention to yourself. In my mind I believe that what happened at the airport doesn't happen often."

Mel B, as long-time watchers of the Spice Girls will testify, hates nothing more than drawing the spotlight towards herself.
Brown, 33, has hailed her spouse a hero for coming to her rescue during the terrifying ordeal.
She adds: "I'm lucky my husband is so protective. The family always travels together, which makes me feel safe. I still don't know what was going through that man's head at the airport... I was half asleep and I looked up and it was all going on. But my husband's quick reaction made sure we were safe.

It's not entirely clear how Mel is judging Stephen's reaction speed when she didn't even know what was happening.

Whibley, Lavigne: marriage's great hopes

If even Madonna and Guy can't make marriage work, even with the support of bottles and bottles of Kabbalah water and almost totally separate lives, what hope is there for anyone?

But here is a heartwarming tale of young couples making sanctified union work to their advantage - Deryck Whibley and Sum 41 have rejected rumours about a crack in their marriage:

On October 20th the National Enquirer issued a gossip story
surrounding Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and his wife Avril Lavigne. For
the record we strongly deny the inference of martial problems
between Avril and Deryck. We also strongly deny the National Enquirer
claims of any other liaisons. Deryck has in fact been travelling
through Asia performing with Avril as evidenced by the numerous
Youtube videos.

Says Deryck Whibley "I'm actually very surprised that so many media
outlets picked this story up. Since when did the National Enquirer
become a trust worthy news source?".

Yeah... videos on YouTube. That's, like, admissible evidence in all states and territories apart from Syria and Arkansas.

Still, it's great to know this marriage is strong and all those who thought it was little more than a stunt to try and shore up two dwindling preteen acts must be feeling pretty stu... hang on, what's this at the end of the official statement?
Sum 41's most recent release "Underclass Hero", which spawned the
hit singles "With Me" , "Walking Disaster" and " Underclass Hero" ,
has now sold in excess of 1 million albums, 2 million digital tracks
and 15 million streams world wide. The album peaked at #1 in Canada,
Japan, and #7 on the US Billboard charts. Based on this success
Universal Music picked up their option to have Sum 41 produce a new
album in 2009, thus after completing a very successful 18 month
world tour the band has started work on a new album.

Why, if we didn't know that this was all about Whibley defending his love, we'd assume that this denial was little more than the start of the promotional campaign for the next Sum 41 album.

Gordon in the morning: It's over - probably

The "world exclusive" end of Madonna's marriage sees the Sun scrambling no less than three journalists (I'm using that phrase in its loosest sense):

They can't bear the pretence any more


There's a triumphant air of "I told you so" at the paper this morning, which rags out its coverage of the A-Rod divorce to show how far ahead of the loop it was.

Mind you, the Sun couldn't have been wrong. Because while it was running a front page about possible extra-marital dabblings with baseball stars, US editor Emily Smith was denying there were any plans:
Madonna denies Guy divorce

MADONNA has denied that she and hubby Guy Ritchie are getting divorced.

In a strongly-worded statement the singer said she and Guy have "no plans to divorce" and insisted rumours of a relationship with US baseball star Alex Rodriguez were not true.

As is traditional on these occasions, Gordon Smart is given a sidebar piece to keep him busy:
I saw their marriage cracking

Gordon shares his eyewitness account of a marriage he's been watching collapse for months:
I have spent a lot of time with Guy over the past few months and I’ve really grown to like him. He is great company, talented and a brilliant father.

The marriage falling apart is incredibly sad but I think he will be far happier now he can be his own man.

You think Gordon - so close to Guy - would have warned one of his colleagues that the marriage was in its end game, to spare The Sun the embarrassment of having run stories like this one in July:
MADONNA and GUY RITCHIE are holding a special family dinner to tell their nearest and dearest that their marriage is finally back on track.

The couple, who have just weathered the biggest storm in their seven-year marriage, will put all the madness of the past few months behind them with a “Shabbat Nachamu” – a night of consolation.

The Kablah-blah ceremony will be witnessed by two rabbis who will fly to the UK from New York, on the weekend of Madge’s 50th birthday next month.

Except, erm, that was Gordon himself reporting on the successful saving of a marriage he now claims he was watching cracking.

Perhaps Gordon was so close to Guy he couldn't bring himself to tell his readers about the tragedy he was watching.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Noel Gallagher: TV game shows 'not real music'

James P emails to bring Noel Gallagher's latest pronouncements to our attention. Noel doesn't think that The X Factor has anything to do with music:

The X Factor "has absolutely nothing to do with music and everything to do with television", he said.

That's strange that, what with it being on a TV network and everything. Presumably Noel is holding back on the observation that Casualty isn't part of the NHS.

Noel makes his views in the current Radio Times - as James points out "the controversial bad boy of rock is lending his outrageous thoughts to a page opposite an advert for beige slacks (two pairs for £20), or possibly a 'Face Behind the Voice' Q&A with Late-night Radio Norfolk favourite Sue Marchant."

Like a man returning from France with a passion for wine, Noel reveals the horrible truth about ITV's starmaking programmes: they tend not to make you a big star:
"You spend a year slogging around the country and then what? You can't go back to Barnsley and be a check-out girl cos that would look bad.

"So you end up either trying to be an actress or trying to sustain your profile by going on celebrity shows."

He said: "Instead of instant fame and celebrity and all your ex-boyfriends and girlfriends coming out of the cupboard and your family being ripped apart the prize ought to be: 'I'll introduce you to someone who might introduce you to someone who might, if you're very lucky, know a producer who'd record one of your songs.'

"That's the only way to make any money. Otherwise you sell 5 million records and earn 50 grand."

Noel is so far out of touch with ordinary people it's almost Shakespearean. He talks about earning fifty thousand quid as if it's not worth doing; if you offered that prospect to a shop girl from Bolton she'd probably figure that a better deal than earning that amount over ten years on the Tesco tills.

And what songs does Noel think X Factor contestants are going to be selling to producers? Does he really believe that Leon Jackson was carting about a sledgefull of top-quality songs looking for an artist?

Does Noel really think that most of the contestants on the X Factor care about building a career as a credible musical act? Does he not understand they're seeking fame, not critical acclaim, and for most of those people who queue up to being ridiculed by Cowell, the idea they could do some acting and make a living bouncing from Heat cover shoots to Celebrity-themed gameshows and back again is the dream come true?

It's like Noel has no understanding at all of popular culture... maybe he has no TV... a TV that doesn't work... perhaps he only watches the nature shows and the news... maybe there's a reason he can't watch TV... looking the wrong way... way...

We7 shuffles its offering

We7, who have been in the business of giving away ad-supported downloads, have signed up a whole slew of major labels (only Universal have failed to join in so far). At the same time, they're moving away from the download model to concentrate more on streams instead.

The implication is clear, of course: ad-supported downloads aren't attractive to anyone and you're never going to get rich offering them to punters. This is further shown by the withdrawal of ad-supported downloads outside the UK altogether. The company says:

“Outside the UK, we will be suspending the ability to download free tracks with ads.”

“Our dream is to eventually give you the choice to stream or download any music you want, for free. The barriers are many, but we are confident that we eventually deliver on our dream, even though it may be in small patient steps.”

The longest journey starts with a single step, it's true; on the other hand, if you're taking a single step while the kid down the street has stolen a car and is offering a free ride for everyone, you might find yourself walking alone.

Roque with you

Just launched in a free mp3 download on the RCRDLBL site: Casxio's Roque Baby.

AMAs: They're like the preppy cousins of the MTV VMAs

Churning, churning: another batch of nominations for another batch of pointless awards - these are the American Music Awards and, in a bid to stand out from the crowd, they've shaken up the nominations format. Instead of telling you who has been nominated for a prize, award-by-award, they've listed the nominees and then told you what they're up for. Crazy, huh?

Well, no. Not crazy, irritating; although it does allow you to take in at a glance how predictable and drudgy the names are:

Alvin and The Chipmunks
Favorite Album - Soundtrack

Mary J. Blige
Favorite Female Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music
Mary J. Blige - "Growing Pains"
Favorite Album - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Garth Brooks
Favorite Male Artist - Country Music
Garth Brooks - "The Ultimate Hits"
Favorite Album - Country Music

Brooks & Dunn
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Country Music

Chris Brown
Favorite Male Artist - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Male Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Colbie Caillat
T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Award

Mariah Carey
Favorite Female Artist - Pop or Rock Music
Mariah Carey - "E=MC2"
Favorite Album - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Casting Crowns
Favorite Artist - Contemporary Inspirational

Kenny Chesney
Favorite Male Artist - Country Music

Artist of the Year
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Artist - Alternative Rock Music
Coldplay - "Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends"
Favorite Album - Pop or Rock Music

Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Artist - Adult Contemporary Music

Artist of the Year
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Artist - Adult Contemporary Music
Eagles - "Long Road Out of Eden"
Favorite Album - Pop or Rock Music

Flo Rida
T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Award
Favorite Male Artist - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

Foo Fighters
Favorite Artist - Alternative Rock Music

Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

J. Holiday
Favorite Male Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Enrique Iglesias
Favorite Artist - Latin Music

Jay-Z - "American Gangster"
Favorite Album - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

Jonas Brothers
T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Award

Favorite Artist - Latin Music

Favorite Album - Soundtrack

Alicia Keys
Artist of the Year
Favorite Female Artist - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Female Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music
Alicia Keys - "As I Am"
Favorite Album - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Album - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Kid Rock
Favorite Male Artist - Pop or Rock Music

Lil Wayne
Artist of the Year
Favorite Male Artist - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

Linkin Park
Favorite Artist - Alternative Rock Music

Mamma Mia!
Favorite Album - Soundtrack

Reba McEntire
Favorite Female Artist - Country Music

Favorite Artist - Contemporary Inspirational

Brad Paisley
Favorite Male Artist - Country Music

T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Award

Rascal Flatts
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Country Music
Rascal Flatts - "Still Feels Good"
Favorite Album - Country Music

Favorite Female Artist - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Female Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Jordin Sparks
Favorite Artist - Adult Contemporary Music

Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Country Music

Taylor Swift
Favorite Female Artist - Country Music

Lil Wayne - "Tha Carter III"
Favorite Album - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

T-Mobile Breakthrough Artist Award

Third Day
Favorite Artist - Contemporary Inspirational

Three 6 Mafia
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

Carrie Underwood
Favorite Female Artist - Country Music
Carrie Underwood - "Carnival Ride"
Favorite Album - Country Music

Favorite Male Artist - Pop or Rock Music
Favorite Male Artist - Soul / Rhythm & Blues Music

Kanye West
Favorite Male Artist - Rap / Hip-Hop Music
Kanye West - "Graduation"
Favorite Album - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

Wisin Y Yandel
Favorite Artist - Latin Music

Wu-Tang Clan
Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Rap / Hip-Hop Music

You wonder if they wavered about this 'artists by alphabetical order' format when they realised it meant the first nomination for the 2008 American Music Awards went to the Alvin & The Chipmunks soundtrack.

You can go in and vote yourself for the categories, but sadly there's no box to tick for 'actually, Alicia Keys is pleasant enough but she's not that bloody great, you know'

Keith Sweat turns down reality show

It's not often you hear of a faded star saying 'no, thanks' to a reality TV series. Admittedly, Keith Sweat hadn't been asked to appear on Real Housewives of Atlanta; they only wanted his kids, but still: a line in the sand is a line in the sand.

Now that's what I call an awkward point of confusion

The BPI pop up in the Daily Mail, praising the ongoing success of compilations and, especially, Now Thats What I Call Music:

BPI chief Geoff Taylor said: 'The ongoing success of the Now albums may surprise some in a digital age of abundant choice, but it's become a well-loved brand.

'Digital music promises huge potential, but music fans still love the quality, convenience and added value in CDs.

'Retail conditions are challenging in the credit crunch, but music is great value for money and with one of the strongest album release schedules we've had for years, labels are optimistic about the market leading up to Christmas.'

But... hang about: isn't buying an album that's just cherry-picked the singles a little like simply cherry-picking the singles from a download store? Weren't we all meant to be respecting the integrity of the artists album format?

Janet Jackson: Unfit and not working again

The much-trumpeted return of Janet Jackson to work, erm, didn't happen after all: doctors stepped in and stopped her from playing Connecticut on Saturday. Dates for the tour are busily being rescheduled for early next week, but reports suggest she's already pulled out of her Madison Square Garden booking for Thursday.

Gordon in the morning: Young people

To be fair to Gordon, the piece about Lourdes Ciccone dressing a bit like her Mum isn't by him - it's by Erica Davies - but he features it as part of Bizarre smorgasbord this morning.

The 'article' is nothing more than pictures of a twelve year-old girl run alongside photos of her mum. Mum, of course, is Madonna. It's hugely unlikely that the Sun would have run these pictures of any other twelve year, but this is Madonna's daughter. On the other hand, that can't be the case, can it, what with the PCC code strictly injuncting:

Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.

Elsewhere on Bizarre this morning, again without Gordon's little photo in his borrowed suit, there's a breathless piece about the new Take That video:
Here is the first look at the boys in action from the expensive video — shot from a helicopter.

Not from a helicopter? But I thought those crazy craft only existed in sci-fi stories and top-secret military compounds. Where did Gary Barlow lay his hands on such aline technology?

Actually, it's not really that the Sun gets over-excited by helicopters; the mention of it, it turns out, is merely to set up the knob gag in the headline:
Take That get chopper out

If I didn't know better, I'd bet they're using the MusicBiz banner rather than the Gordon photo byline banner on that because he was afraid he'd be mocked mercilessly if his face appeared next to that headline.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Out Boy pull album in case they appear to have an opinion

Fall Out Boy's Folie A Deux album has been dropped from its planned election week slot, because of, erm... well, let's let them explain:

Being from Chicago, we know "next years our year" all too well. 6 months ago we thought it would be a fun idea to release our album on election day but this is not the election to be cute. This is the most important election of our time and, as much as the record is a social commentary and the term "folie a deux" is relevant to the candidates, we felt as though rather than making a commentary we were only riding the wave of the election. This seemed less and less like what we intended to do and more of a gimmick.

While we have all individually expressed our positions on the candidates that we support we feel that many of the interviews and press for the record have skewed us into a partisan band. While it may be obvious where we stand. We never intended to be the band that shoved our ideas down peoples throats. We only hope people look at the bigger picture and investigate the issues further on their own.

It's not the election to be cute, huh? If the election is as serious as the band believe, then surely that makes it more important than ever to stand up and declare yourself, doesn't it? And yet here's the band, insisting that the election be treated so seriously it's not the time for them to release an album, and yet afraid that people might think they have, you know, a political opinion.

It's almost as if one might think that a band so reliant on sponsorship is really afraid some of its sugar daddy brands might not like to pump cash into a group that has declared its hand for one candidate.

The next Oasis album is already written

You know, the announcement by Noel Gallagher that he's pretty much written the next Oasis album is being reported like it's some sort of a surprise; as if knocking out a few tunes to throw to the Oasis audience is a process akin to developing a cure for a hitherto unknown disease rather than listening to an old record and trying to have a go at knocking it off.

Noel told XFM:

"I wrote and demoed a full album while we were in the studio. While we were mixing the album in the studio we had another studio that consisted of a cupboard and this little garage band thing in the corner. We bought a miniature kids drum kit and wrote another record."

Gallagher added the new songs he's written are sounding "sickeningly good".

"The new stuff is a proper concept. Have you heard Neil Young's 'Greendale'? I say it with a smile on my face because as I'm saying it, I'm thinking 'you pretentious cunt'. It's all songs about characters and all the songs will have titles and in brackets it'll be 'AKA The Shopkeeper'.

Yes... that sounds fascinating, that does, and I'm just going to think about that for a moment, and not let my mind wander. There's nothing poor man's Damon Albarn about that, is there? Albarn did the Gorillaz... Gorillaz... no, man, concentrate: it's not like it's taken Noel about a decade to catch up to with ideas that Blur burned through last century and weren't actually much cop when they tried it, is it? Characters, I ask you, like it was ER or something... ER... Chicago... mykindatown, that is... do you get lemurs in Chicago? do you?

I'm not going to teach your boyfriend how to Daytrotter for you

The Black Kids have brought their backlash-flavoured sound to Daytrotter, delivering a three-song session. MP3s are yours for the answering.

Kiss and chips

There seems to be no end to the nasty old tat that Kiss are happy to flog to their fans - and, clearly, the fans are more than happy to dig deep into their pockets for the stuff. So, amongst the fence-sitting McCain and Obama Kiss t-shirts, the horrible lighters shaped like guitars and, probably, guitars shaped like lighters, this year they're launching Kiss Mr Potato Heads. They're squishy, plastic ovoids upon which you can slap some designs and pretend they're a heavy rock band, even though they look slightly ridiculous. And (inevitably) they've now just launched a range of Mr Potato Heads, too.

Channel U's flirty fishing

The latest Ofcom complaints bulletin includes a ticking off for the digital music channels U and Fizz, for fiddling their on-screen text features.

Channel U text moderators were caught posting up messages inviting responses - like:

where r the essex gals? send me a pic xx ”

while Fizz ran "fun quizzes" (no prizes were offered, unless you count the cash that Fizz was making out of it) that even the regulator could see through:
a moderator asked “Which football star is married to Alex Curran?” Over a period of approximately 16 minutes, during which further invitations to enter the “fun quiz” were made to viewers, multiple wrong answers, including David Beckham and Ashley Cole, were broadcast before the moderator confirmed the correct answer. Numerous correct answers were then broadcast.

As Fizz is a pop music channel aimed at young people who were likely to have known the answer to the question, Ofcom sought the broadcaster’s comments on why it had taken so long to reveal the correct answer.

The broadcaster admitted that "on some occasions" correct answers might have been "held back" - or, in other words, the marks were encouraged to carry on entering even although the quiz had been finished; while at U, "unauthorised" instructions from the "Interactive Sales Manager" had led to the texts being made up. He's got the sack, some new rules are in place; it won't happen again.

What's surprising, though, is the company's apparent belief that it did nothing wrong:
The broadcaster pointed out that its viewers are part of a regular community and are aware of the costs involved in contacting the channel. It noted that Ofcom had received no complaints from viewers and stated that, since the withdrawal of the quizzes, many viewers had sent in messages asking for them to return.

Given that the channel has a history of creating its own text messages pretending to come from viewers, I wouldn't have reached for a slew of messages of support from the audience to try and bolster my case. And the suggestion that since none of the people happily sending texts to what they thought was a sexy Essex Girl or whatever never complained isn't actually a justification, is it? If you're being conned, and don't know you're being conned, then how would you know you're supposed to complain? All that means is that you're good at deception, not that your audience would be happy to know they're being deceived.

Survey reports pirates in retreat

Well, it's all over for the illegal music stealing guys, then: Entertainment Media Research's Digital Music Survey has just reported and it's good news for the music industry:

"Despite the ubiquity of free music, there's a real willingness by consumers to pay for music products if the package is right," said Alexander Ross, music partner at the media law firm Wiggin, which co-authored the study. The optimistic verdict contrasts with last year's survey, which warned that illegal downloading was at an all-time high and set to rise further.

The survey - a poll of 1,500 British consumers - found that online piracy fell by 10% this year, attributing this partly to more aggressive noises from internet service providers, which agreed this year to send warning letters to customers suspected of illegal file sharing.

Ah - so the good news is based on a survey which has found a fall in 'online piracy' (what do you mean by that, exactly?), the same survey which in 2007 confidently predicted that this year we'd be seeing a record high this time round. I'm having trouble deciding exactly how much credence you give to a research company whose headline point is that it's found out it was wrong last year.

The EMR doesn't seem to have thought through that perhaps the "more aggressive noises" from ISPs might not have reduced the level of beyond-copyright activity, but might make consumers 10% less willing than they were last year to tell a complete stranger what they've been up to. Nor does there seem to be any consideration of how the 'three strikes and we'll tut-tut' rule would have had such a deep effect across 2008 as a whole when it's barely got going.

Still, nice to hear someone telling the music industry that - if the paid-for offering is right, people will pay for things. If only, you know, the entire blogging world had thought of directing that thought to the RIAA-BPI for the last ten years, huh?

Actually, what sort of news is it to report that your survey has discovered that if you offer people something they want, at a price they're prepared to pay, they will make a purchase? If this is news, shouldn't the BBC News Channel clear the airwaves to carry GCSE Economics lessons round the clock?

Even more dodgy is the report's decision that music videos are the future:
The report also pointed to the popularity of music videos on YouTube as a further reason for optimism. YouTube plans to develop e-commerce opportunities that would allow people to buy music directly after viewing videos.

"The music video is now more influential than ever and has become the industry's trump card for engaging consumers and creating that long-term emotional connection required for monetisation," said Russell Hart, chief executive of Entertainment Media Research. "It is now the vital component in music marketing."

Don't you love it when someone creates some content that will allow them to monetise your long-term emotional connection, people? Thank god someone is working on how to make cash from those feelings of love, sexual arousal and that sweet, miserable joy when an artists captures your pain.

But is the video really the answer? Is Hart telling us that we can't actually form an emotional attachment to a piece of music unless there's a man in a bear costume riding a bike through a snowstorm or something else for us to gawk at while it's playing? Who did they carry their survey out on - shellshocked six year olds?

And Hart seems to have missed that the link to buy music on YouTube is less because the video is where the money is, and more down to the miserable experience Google are having trying to make some advertising dollars out of all this video content. A really compelling video will make people want to watch more videos, not head off to do some shopping.

Still, great to hear EMR confirm that the era of mass musical piracy is at an end. Good research work, people. Everyone take a... what? What's that,
AC/DC album downloaded 400,000 times despite no digital release

'Black Ice' proving popular online


Waiter! Waiter! This soup tastes like it's been standing about doing nothing for seven years

The NME reports that Julian Casablancas is about to open a restaurant:

Julian Casablancas turns restaurateur

The Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas is set to open a restaurant in Los Angeles, and will DJ at the official launch tomorrow (October 13).

Really? He's opening a restaurant with the money he made from Is This It and... well, from Is This Is?
Casablancas is among a string of well-known faces to invest in the venture, including Mark Ronson, actors Gerard Butler, Danny Masterson, Chris Masterson and Laura Prepon and DJ Steve Aoki.

Ah. So he's a shareholder that just happens to be playing the opening night.

It's called Shin and its menu is Korean BBQ. Trendy BBQ joint in Hollywood with Casablancas playing records. If SlimFast could bottle that idea, they'd have the perfect appetite suppressant.

Gordon in the morning: Ringo's no go

The decision by Ringo Starr to stop dealing with any fan mail dated after the 20th October is a fabulously grumpy tale - especially given his appearance in The Simpsons where he was diligently working his way through a backlog of letters from the 1960s. The cut-off date itself is brilliant - I'm picturing something like when Thatcher was selling off all the nation's assets and you'd get the Nine O'Clock News showing footage of people rushing to meet the deadline as staff at the NatWest tried to close the doors in their face.

Gordon Smart isn't happy:

I ALWAYS had RINGO STARR down as the best character in THE BEATLES.

Yeah, he was a brilliant character. Did you know, Gordon, the writers based him on one of The Rutles?
But with only ten weeks until Christmas, the wrinkly rocker has told his loyal fans he will soon throw away everything sent to him.

How can he do this? With only a third of the year until Christmas, too. How many rosy-faced six year-olds are going to wake up and discover nothing under the tree from the drummer in the band their grandparents liked forty years ago?
I reckon Ringo is out of order and it seems out of character too.

Actually, we haven't actually bailed out Ringo Starr yet - although the Chancellor has suggested he'd be prepared to take a forty per cent stake if he gets into trouble - and so it's not his duty to respond to every single letter he gets. It would be nice for him to do so, but you suspect his mailbox must groan under the weight of requests for signatures - especially when much of his work probably winds up straight on eBay.

Gordon thinks it's not good enough, though:
It doesn’t matter how much peace and love you dish out Ringo – surely you can hire someone to keep your fans happy? It’s only a bit of mail.

Yeah, Ringo - why don't you patronise your fans by having someone else read the letters? Isn't it better to not tell people to waste their time sending letters you don't have the time to respond to, but instead pay someone to help you ignore them? If you get someone who's a bit handy with a Sharpie, nobody need ever know.

Smart really turns the knife:
DAVID BOWIE and MACCA manage to keep their legions of fans happy – just by giving them the time of day on their websites.

Yes, Ringo - why can't you be like them, huh? They don't answer every piece of fanmail but they talk to their fans through their websites - you know, like, erm, Ringo did when he posted a video to his website apologising for not being able to answer every piece of his fanmail.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rolo Tomassi weekend: Camden Crawl

Concluding a Sunday spent being shouted at by Rolo Tomassi, here's a slice of their Camden Crawl gig from earlier in the year:

[Part of the Rolo Tomassi weekend]

Courtneener grumbles: Radio One hates us

Bands really do move at an alarming rate these days, don't they? One album and all of a sudden they're being marked up as an All Time Great, two hit singles and they're the new Beatles. And now, The Courteeners have turned into Status Quo without going through the aging process, wondering why Radio One hates them:

In an interview with the Daily Star, the singer [Liam Fray] asked why the station's executives continue to play Kaiser Chiefs' tracks when the indie rock group "haven't got one song better than any on our album".

"Kaiser Chiefs have been on Radio 1 since day one but they won't play us," Fray continued. "I'd rather be 100 people's favourite band than a million who've just been fed it by Radio 1. We've sold out 40,000 tickets for our tour so how the fuck can Radio 1 say no to playing us? I don't get it.

"But I don't give a shit about them or chart positions so long as the kids are down the front at our shows going mental."

As James P points out, Liam can't quite decide if he's outraged by Radio One not playing his music, or really pleased that they don't, or if he can't be arsed either way. The clue to his true feelings, I suspect, is in the 'taking time to moan about it to a newspaper'.

(For the record, Last FM's data for Radio One shows the Courteeners have been played 115 times since they started collecting data - as often as Santogold. And Santogold is better than The Courteeners.)

Scary! Spice threatened

TMZ are leaping to conclusions that the man involved must be a lunatic; the facts of the story are less clear-cut: a man at Heathrow was heard threatening to "get a knife" to stab Mel B and Stephen Belafonte; a photographer who tried to intervene got grabbed by the man. There was an arrest; no charges as yet, though.

Rolo Tomassi weekend: Mansfield

Two tracks from a Rolo Tomassi set in Mansfield: Fuck The Pleasantries, and Hiroshima 8.16:

[Part of the Rolo Tomassi weekend]

Mama MIA

Apparently, nothing increases your fertility like idiots calling you a terrorist: MIA is pregnant.

Barack Obama is feeling slightly queasy this morning, and hoping it's just the shellfish he ate last night.

Rolo Tomassi weekend: Abraxas

YouTube offers the description "Operativ v Rolo Tomassi" and nothing more:

[Part of the Rolo Tomassi weekend]

Generous to a fault

It's pretty cool of Liam Gallagher to have given fifty quid to a homeless man outside a Manchester nightclub.

Curious, though, that this selfless act of charity has ended up being reported in the Sunday People.

Amy Winehouse's sweet addiction

There's only one thing wrong with Rav Singh's tales of Amy Winehouse making candy floss with cocaine in it, and that would be that it probably has no truth in it at all.

What is notable, though, is that the News Of The World website has apparently been infiltrated by communists, as comments made this month are being dated from "Oktober".

Embed and breakfast man: Rolo Tomassi

Something of a shift in gears from yesterday's Chris TT extravangza, as we turn from southern singer-songwriters to northern indie-punk, and Sheffield's Rolo Tomassi.

Apparently some sort of mix of sponsorship and legislation has combined which insists that anything that is liable to polarise opinion has to be described as being "like Marmite", but I don't think that the modern standard of take-it-or-leave-it will cover the effect of being hit by RT.

Splendidly, Wikipedia snorts that, in the wisdom of crowd's opinion, Rolo Tomassi might not be "notable" enough to warrant an entry in their own right. If only they'd named themselves after a character from Star Trek instead of LA Confidential... Oddly, they've managed to get a slot at the Electric Proms so not that obscure, then.

So, if you're going to enjoy: enjoy. If not... probably best to not hit play.

This is Fofteen, at Beyond Retro, in 2007:

Rolo Tomassi around the web
Official blog
Wikipedia (assuming they're considered important enough to remain)
Last FM

Hysterics - the first proper album, released last month
(By the way, Amazon have erroneously listed Rollo Tomassi - a different band entirely - and He Who Holds You under Rolo Tomassi's entry.)

More video across the day
Fuck The Pleasantries; Hiroshima 8.16
Camden Crawl live