Saturday, August 22, 2009

There's a new series of the X Factor

How exciting for all the people setting out on their X Factor "journey" tonight. Because it changes your life, doesn't it? Fame is only just round the corner.

How, you might wonder, does one of the other stars made by this poke-and-prod show spend the day of the new series?

By jumping off a pier, if you're Jonathan Ansell out of G4. Not because of remorse or loss, but because his career now involves taking part in the Worthing Birdman competition. It's a fairly safe bet this isn't a sign of an imminent booking of an arena tour.

Soulobit: Johnny Carter

The death has been announced of Johnny Carter, soul singer.

Originally a member of The Flamingos, Carter left the band twice. First for a spell in the military, and then - more finally - to take up a role with The Dells when their lead tenor Johnny Funches quit in 1960. Although not an original Dell, he was with them for their greatest moments - Oh What A Night, most notably - and, in a reverse of the usual form for a 60s soul band (main line-up stays together until late in career, when they start to swap out members), The Dells got their personnel changes out the way in 1960 and remained with the same team throughout. The band played together for one of the last times in 2004, shortly after they had been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

Interestingly, Carter had earlier been induced as a member of The Flamingos, thereby making him one of the few double-dippers.

Carter was 75. The cause of his death has not been reported.

A musical footnote: The Battle Hymn Of Lt Calley

I first came across this track a couple of decades back on the NME's Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die compilation, which gathered Vietnam-era tracks from both sides of the American political divide. It's by a chap called Terry Nelson, a US disc-jockey who rushed in to the studio in 1971 to churn out a patriotic song in support of Lieutenant Calley. Calley was the soldier who ordered the My Lai massacre - and the only US soldier convicted for his part in the crime.

The conviction wasn't popular - as many as three out of every four Americans felt it was the wrong verdict. Nelson's record put words into Calley's mouth, with a lyric that actually does manage a riff based on "I was only following orders":

All stirring stuff. The only problem is that it turns out Calley won't be trying to justify himself when he gets to the entrance of the afterlife. William Calley has apologised for his actions:

There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai. I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry....If you are asking why I did not stand up to them when I was given the orders, I will have to say that I was a 2nd Lieutenant getting orders from my commander and I followed them — foolishly, I guess.

I guess Nelson at least got the "following orders" part right after all. I wonder if Nelson (if he's still with us) would like to record a more accurate version?

Peter Andre reaches the stage of sitting by the door looking sad

Obviously, there is no real dignity to be lost in the affair of Peter Andre and Jordan, but dignity-like substance that Andre has been clinging to - you know, the one where he screamed at the mother of his children through the medium of Star magazine; that substance - seems to have evaporated:

Peter Andre is releasing a cookery book of "meals for one".

Rumours that his next single will feature the sound of a fork popping through cellophane and the lonely ting of a microwave announcing the slight overcooking of a reclaimed chicken product in some sort of sauce are almost certainly going to prove to be true.

Gordon in the morning: The sun slides down behind the tower

Gordon stretches his mind this morning to try and bring us a think-piece in response to the news that Radio One haven't playlisted Madonna's new single.

And after some digging through chart history, that's the first time one of her singles has not made the playlist.

Not quite sure why you'd be digging in "chart history" to explore Radio One playlists - a bit like exploring House Of Commons history to find out who the leader of the TUC was; I'm also not entirely convinced that Everybody would have been playlisted, even if Burning Up was. Still, that's small potatoes, and Madonna not making the playlist is a marker point, if not quite as significant as Smart would like it to be.

You wouldn't expect an Elton John track, even if it was a violent return-to-form, to end up on the Radio One playlist, would you?
Madonna can console herself in the knowledge that at least Radio 2 have found a place for the song and have been playing it for the past two weeks.

Yes. Where there's overlap between her market and their target audience, you mean?

Still, this must be difficult for Gordon, having to run bad news about one of the artists he believes his readers cherish the most, right?
Her Madgesty's last album, Hard Candy, didn't do as well as expected. Probably because it was rubbish.

What... because it was rubbish? But I thought you called it an album with "an edgy, urban feel for her latest reinvention" with "a few tasty treats" when you gave it a good write-up last March? Sure, you did sound one or two downbeat notes, but nobody reading that review would come away thinking the album was "rubbish".
I'm also sick of the sight of her parading around in her undercrackers

Although as I've observed before, that seemed to come quite quickly, as one day you were still finding it quite exciting:
Queen Of Pop Madge, meanwhile, has been flashing her undies in new promo pics for album Hard Candy.

I wonder if Lady G will look as good when she hits 50.

.., and then the very next day you were pretending to be bored:
WHEN I set eyes on this picture of MADONNA yesterday I felt for the first time that I had seen enough of her posing in her undercrackers.

Literally the next day.
On September 29 Madge will release her latest Greatest Hits compilation, also called Celebration.

I think I'll celebrate when she finally puts her feet up and calls it a day.

You might feel that, Gordon. On the other hand, what would you do if she did go? According to Journalisted, you tend to rely on her to fill your column rather a lot:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Charlatans axe North American tour

Americans and Canadians keen to stand within showering distance of Tim Burgess' gorgeous spittle are going to be disappointed, I'm afraid. We have locked him in a cupboard and aren't going to send him. Jon Brookes has done his shoulder in, needs surgery, and can't drum right now.

Wolf howls

Sure, this is a week old, but it looks likely that Patrick Wolf won't have calmed down yet. He was onstage, doing his high-end Mika thing, at a Köln pop festival, when somebody switched off the PA earlier than he would have liked.

He had a chuckle, and it was all soon forgotten.

Oh, hang on: no, he didn't:

To be fair, it does look like it started out a little tongue-in-cheek. Started out.

[via Stereogum

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Floor manager

Radio Active used to show its contempt for angry listener's letters by passing them to their Head Of Carpets to deal with. But surely only a made-up radio station would even have someone in the role of head of carpets, right?

Maybe not, for what is this we find in a press release for Amtico Flooring, pushing their Spacia Access range?

Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and PR for HMV said “We have used Amtico International products in a number of our 260 stores around the country. We're pleased with the results and feel that the functionality and maintenance of the flooring meets the practical and aesthetic needs of our stores. We were particularly impressed with the speed of installation, which was finished in just four weeks, with the Spacia Access flooring taking only a week to complete. ”

The Beatles, video games, hard-wearing coverings for heavy-traffic public areas? Is there nothing Gennaro cannot bring his expert eye to shine upon?

Alice Cooper helps fleece the masses

I guess the idea of getting Alice Cooper to front a TV commercial encouraging people to trade-in their TVs rather than throwing them out of windows makes for a marginally amusing concept. And it's not like Cooper is the sort of artist for whom appearing in a Sony ad is going to ruin his reputation. In fact, compared to his pieces pushing Sky with Ronnie Corbett, this ad is the model of integrity.

And he did this, too, of course, flogging golf clubs:

And he did make this charming spot for Staples:

So, given that he's the shills' shill, perhaps its more surprising that Sony wanted him in the advert rather than coming up with a new idea.

The real worry about the advert is the message behind it. MediaGuardian reports:

Matt Coombe, the general marketing manager at Sony UK, said that the campaign aimed to capitalise on the need for all sets to be digital by the time the UK's analogue terrestrial signal is switched off in 2012.

I'm sorry, what, Mr. Coombe? While it's true that all sets must be capable of receiving a digital signal by switch-off, that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with buying a new TV. Indeed, one of the central planks of the Digital Switchover campaign is stressing that while you might need a new aerial; you might need a new set-top box; you might think about a satellite dish, the one thing you don't need to do is buy an expensive new television. Quite elaborate lengths have been gone to to make it clear that old TVs can adapt to getting WestCountry Tonight in digital.

So Alice Cooper is lending his commercial heft to pushing an upgrade that nobody needs to get involved with. Good work, Sony. Good work, everybody.

Disney to Disneyfy The Beatles

Could there be any way to make a pointless Disney 3D remake of Yellow Submarine even more annoying?

Disney intends to release the film to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics.

Ah, yes. Because of John Lennon having held the UK triple jump record for seven years back in the early 70s, of course. Why wouldn't you want to celebrate the very made-up links between The Beatles and The Olympics?

There are still negotiations being pursued before the project gets under way - presumably trying to shave three cents off the production costs of the Blue Meanies plush toys.

Gordon in the morning: He must be on points

Gordon Smart's continuing, bemusing role as patsy for the JLS PR department continues this morning as he dutifully types up an event featuring one of JLS and puts it on his pages.

Obviously, a story with Aston Merrygold isn't really a story at all - no matter how eager to please Simon Cowell the Bizarre team are, they have to have something to convince people that this isn't just an advertising feature reminding people that JLS exist.

How about if they throw in Jade Ewen? Yes you do... she didn't win Eurovision, and then managed a number 27 hit with the song. And - how fortunate! - she's just a couple of weeks away from releasing her debut album, just as JLS are preparing their debut album release, too. Why, you might have thought these two would have better things to do than go out on dates together - shouldn't they be busy arranging paper-thin stunts to get their names in the paper to try and promote their respective releases instead?

The trouble is, even the thought of Aspin Merrymeade and the other Jade going out to stand in front of cameras for an evening isn't going to convince observers that this is a story. Gordon, call on your powers: can you make this an exciting gossip story - perhaps by working in a glittery party with a genuine celebrity?

ASTON MERRYGOLD snubbed CALVIN HARRIS's album launch party to take JADE EWEN out for dinner.

Other famous people they weren't near at the time include Shirley Bassey, The Queen, and Kasabian.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

PETA turn to random abuse, lose support

Peta are known for doing some dumb stunts, but now it's starting to look like they've just decided to take on everyone who isn't, like, you know, one of them. They have just run some ads in Orlando which call larger people "whales".

The poster features the back of an overweight woman and has the slogan "Save the whales - Lose the blubber - go vegetarian". That would seem to be making a pretty strong whale-person link, right?

"It appears you are implying that overweight people are like whales," WJXT-TV reporter Scott Johnson said to a PETA representative.

"Not at all," said Ashley Byrne, of PETA. "It's just a way of grabbing people's attention. It's just a provocative way to grab attention."

So putting a photo of a fatter person next to a big slogan saying "save the whales" isn't comparing a person to a big, blubbery whale, it's just being "provocative"? But isn't it being provocative because it's insensitively hurling abuse at fat people? And if it isn't hurling abuse, then how would it be being provocative?

Oh and... what is the point of being provocative just for the sake of it? What is there to respect in an organisation which is happy to run sexy pictures of slim people (like every fashion product ever), and now run photos having a go at the overweight (like diet product ads) , and yet thinks its in some way progressive?

Is it really helpful in the culture we're stuck in for an animal charity to encourage bullying of fat people?

And - come to that - if being overweight is such a terrible thing, and animals are so great, what's with the using "whale" as a term of abuse? Or is the poster suggesting that being overweight puts you on a par with one of nature's majestic giants? Or is it not even fully thought through?

The adverts have provoked some reaction though - and this, by the way, is where we get onto the music connection in this story. It's provoked Tegan And Sara to revoke their support for PETA. They just tweeted:
feeling a bit ashamed that we ever supported PETA. They should be ashamed over this.

The time to really have felt ashamed about supporting PETA, though, was when it started to emerge that, while they're very good at getting people to prance about in the nack to promote them, they're actually shit at caring for animals, and killed 95% of the animals they were 'caring' for last year.

U2: Spiderman, Spiderman, does... what-evah

Bono and The Edge has been talking about the Spiderman musical like it isn't a financial nightmare.

Sorry, did I say musical? Oh, hush my mouth:

The guitarist was keen not to describe the production, directed by Julie Taymor, as a musical, but rather an "opera".

And what makes the musical not a musical but an opera?

Now, you or I might answer this question "generally, an opera will be sung throughout, while a musical has dialogue; and in a musical the characters will dance." But The Edge seems to use a separate distinction, which is "if I am involved, the show will be whatever is cooler":
"It is a new challenge. The thing is we don't really like musicals. Most musicals are really pants. They're really not very cool," said The Edge.

This is, of course, arrant wasp toss, to borrow David Quantick's phrase. Musicals are pants and not really cool? A man who is churning out eye-podge like the Zooropa tour and the current U2 "Oooh, look, we've got a big mechanical crab" effort is suggesting that the work of Oscar Hammerstein is "pants"? Seriously?
"It is much more like opera than a straight musical. We're actually not calling it a musical for that reason because we don't want to put people off."

Oh, yes - protect that all-important audience of Spiderman fans who are more likely to go to an opera than a musical.
"We just thought, 'Well if we're going to do this we should do something that knocks it out of the park and hits on every level with great tunes'."

Ah, yes. That's exactly making it sound like an opera and not a musical.

So, with The Edge tossing wasps left, right and centre, you'd have thought Bono would be able to take the day off. But, oh no - if there's a self-aggrandising bar being raised, Bono is going to be keen to be having a go at that target:
Bono explained the characters won't be the same which appeared in comic or the film adaptations of the original Marvel comic series.

"Our Peter Parker is much more…not Kurt Cobain, but a kind of slacker, a more kind of shy sort of guy," said Bono.

Now, I read The Amazing Spider-Man, in three panel chunks, when he replaced Modesty Blaize in the Evening Argus, and the one thing about Peter Parker in that was that - yes, he was nothing like Kurt Cobain, but he was quite shy and something of an under-achiever. I await Bono reinventing Batman as some sort of millionaire with a fetish for teenage kids, or Superman as - hey, how crazy - a bloke from another planet who's allergic to Gordon Burns' Krypton Factor.

But just when Bono has done one big reveal which turns out to be dud, he turns out to have another sleeve with nothing up it:
Bono said: "We've got a new villain, it's a girl. It's a very extraordinary role. We've taken it to a much more dizzy place than you'd expect."

Oh, you've got a female villain? What an extra-ordinary twist you have come up with, Mr. Bono. A bad female? Whoever else would have had the sheer gall to suggest a lowly female could be the bad guy? You certainly have shaken all my preconceptions, like a man shaking an Etch-A-Sketch so hard it will never show another drawing.

Give Chico a Chico timecard, says Equity

Good luck with that, then, Equity: The actors union is trying to get ITV to pay the X Factor contestants:

The union is to table a motion at next month's TUC conference calling on TV companies to pay talent show contestants.

The motion will read: ''The contestants in such programmes are often compelled to enter into restrictive contracts and because of a loophole in the National Minimum Wage Act for competitions they generally do not get paid.

''These programmes may be very popular with the public but are based on exploitation and humiliation of vulnerable people, which cannot be acceptable. The public's demand for high quality entertainment should be met by professional drama and light entertainment which has been replaced by this cheap exploitation.''

This follows on from Equity's ultimately unsuccessful attempt last year to secure minimum wage for animals which do the funniest things.

Seriously, the idea isn't as unlikely as it sounds - the BBC pays for people who take part in their singy-singy shows when they're at the 'coming back week-in, week-out' stages - but you suspect the real thinking behind Equity's call is that their core membership are finding fewer and fewer jobs because reality TV is much cheaper to make. If you can make reality TV costs shoot up a little... well... that gap will start to close a bit, won't it?

Gordon in the morning: The 19th hole

You know that golf tournament that Gordon was telling us all about yesterday? All a little embarrassing and self-indulgent, wasn't it? Still, it's just one day in summer. It's not like Gordon would return to his pitch and putt for a second day, is it?


And today, it's the big lead in the paper. Which surely means that there was another a big story came out of the day, right? Although, bemusingly, one that wasn't so big it had to be reported yesterday. So what is so big, but not so big, Gordon?

I HAVE a confession to make.

Uh-oh. Don't tell me the penis-size comparison got out of hand.
When ANDY HOPKINS from The Enemy hops on to play the V Festival on crutches this weekend, it's partly my fault.

Oh. (How do you play bass on crutches?) That's it, is it?
The poor lad smashed his heel in a drinking game which got out of hand at the inaugural Bizarre golf tournament.

If you thought Gordon was pushing it detailing the results of a golf game paid for by a PR company, you'll be delighted to hear the even-more-detailed coverage of the hilarious hi-jinks that followed once everyone got drunk.

In short, it was a drinking game:
If you took more than two shots to get the ball in the hole, you had to down half your drink. More than four and the whole drink had to go.

Some terrible putting and a few rounds of rum and ginger and Andy found himself doing his best JURGEN KLINSMANN impression along a slippery outdoor bar.

He got drunk and fell over. Hilarious. Let's all give the guys a round of applause, because becoming drunk and incapable is such a hoot.

What else is there in the Sun today, I wonder? Ooh, here's an interesting piece about David Cameron's new proposals:
The Tory leader plans to stop supermarkets selling boxes of strong lager at rock-bottom prices - sometimes cheaper than the cost of bottled water.
There is growing evidence that many youngsters get "tanked up" on cheap booze from the supermarket before heading out in the night.

And cops fear access to alcohol after pubs and clubs have closed can be a key factor in triggering violence or injuries.

It's terrible, isn't it, The Sun? I wonder where people get the idea that getting drunk and incapable is some sort of a hoot?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Darkness at 3AM: It is always 3AM now

The desperate attempt by the Daily Mirror to spin the 3AM column into Britain's answer to TMZ has had its on switch flicked. Understandably, they've only soft-launched; there was no big fuss. It's not like this is the launch of a new computermybob for comparethemeerkat or anything.

So, what's it like? It's written by someone who speaks Imperial Period Smash Hits, but only as a second language:

Like duh, you need to log in.

It has all the veracity of those black-and-white movies from the late 60s where elderly scriptwriters tried to write in youth argot. Like having a section called "chinny reck-on", you can see what they're trying to do but in a bid to give the site a personality, they've fallen short. Instead they've given the site a comedy jumper and a repertoire of silly voices.

But what of the content?

A headline boldly announces this picture of Posh demands to be analysed to death. It's a picture of Posh with a hat, carrying a teddy bear and walking one of her kids through an airport.

The 3AM team then, indeed, does analyse the picture, working through seven possibilities, of which this is the least weak:
5. That's not a teddy bear, that's David. She bought a book of love spells and turned him into a toy so that he can never leave her.

To be fair, they do come up with this possibility:
3. She's just a mum, like any other mum, going about her mumsy business, and we should give the poor woman a break and stop tearing apart her every movement.

But they never got to point eight, which I'm betting would surely have been "as a newspaper site and thus working under the rules of the Press Complaint Commissions, this picture appears to feature a child simply because his parents are famous, and as such shouldn't have been published, so perhaps Victoria is trying to avoid drawing attention to herself in order to save ourselves from once again showing certain parts of the UK newspaper industry can't be trusted with the concept of self-regulation."

Elsewhere, there's this cheerful opening to a story:
Since we know that Peter Andre is a fan of our site, we think it's only fair that we write stories that will make him chuckle. The latest bad PR for his dear lady ex-wife is that she's been accused of threatening to run over a young fan with her ridiculous pink horse box.

Ah, yes, what could possibly be more chucklesome than the mother of your children being accused of threatening to run people over? Let's hope the 3AM team start writing a sitcom soon.

One last jarring note: the stories don't have links to "read the full story". It says "Care? Read on."

Back home, what news of MySpace Music?

While MySpace has been drumming up the cash to buy iLike, how are things going at the last brilliant idea to put MySpace at the heart of social music?

That would be MySpace Music. You remember MySpace Music, don't you?

It's doing well. Kind of. It's certainly bringing a lot of traffic to the site, which is a bit of a problem, as they're attracting greedy ears and not open wallets, and so to cut losses, they're switching off autoplay:

But all that popularity comes at a price - billions of free streaming songs are costing MySpace up to $10 million a month in streaming fees, says a source, and the joint venture may lose $20 million or more this year.

So autostreaming is now off in a bid to try and stop some of the bandwidth costs sucking the money out the service.

Although 'making visitors hit a play button' doesn't quite sound convincing as a business plan to turn the fortunes of the site around.

Murdoch buys iLike

Sometime while Location Location Location was on, it was confirmed that MySpace had struck a deal to buy iLike.

Now, ultimately this makes iLike part of Rupert Murdoch's empire - which is interesting in itself, because while Rupert believes that newspapers online will have to charge or fade away, another part of his empire is investing heavily in a property which doesn't have charging its users as part of its business plan. Not much clarity of vision as to the future of the web over at News Corp, is there?

What's equally interesting: this is MySpace that has bought iLike. Not MySpace Music - you'd cautiously suggest this as a sign that the team in charge at MySpace are starting to think their current music spin-off isn't working.

What's also equally interesting is that iLike is strongest not on MySpace, but on Facebook. It'll be interesting to see how thrilled Facebook will be with one of their more popular apps falling into the hands of their rivals.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Saint Etienne/The Field Mice

I Taught Myself How To Grow Old explores the genius of Kiss And Make Up - including talking to the man who wrote the song, Bob from the Field Mice, on his relationship with the Saint's version:

BW: I haven't heard it in a very long time and although it's always a compliment when someone covers one of your songs my heart does sink a little every time it's reissued because the publishing has never been straight forward for Kiss and Make Up.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Travel

The National Geographic Intelligent Travel's Brad Scriber shares his recipe for making place-themed mixtapes:

Take the selections from my recent trip to Barcelona, for example:
This Catalonian city has stirred many a visitor's musical heart. Its name turns up in hundreds of options, from the punkish "Barcelona" by the Plasticines, to the more melodic lilt of "It's About Time" by the band Barcelona. It also led me to the jubilant Swedish troupe I'm From Barcelona, who are as persistent in promoting their adopted hometown as they are in promoting a little hop in the step of their listeners. Unable to decide between "Barcelona Loves You" and "We're from Barcelona," I nabbed them both, plus a relentlessly joyful homage to well-used passports, "Collection of Stamps."

Twittergerm: Oasis

Ah, Simon Heffer, that you should be alive at this hour, to see the Daily Telegraph running a piece lifted from the NME cover story.

Actually, does it look worse for the Telegraph that they're pinching chunks from the NME's Oasis piece, or for the NME that their cover story fits snugly inside the Daily Telegraph demographic?

Either way, the Telegraph is mightily charmed with this snippet from Liam, the wittiest man alive:

Just days before Oasis headline the V Festival, the band's frontman said the pair last spoke during a row at an airport which left Noel in tears.

He said they opt to travel separately on tour and only see each other onstage and only contact each other on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

"He doesn't like me and I don't like him, that's it," Liam told NME.

Liam, honey, if Noel really didn't like you, he'd have blocked your updates months ago.

Actually, the Telegraph's prurience makes their coverage of the NME interview look more like a sodoku board:
Liam said today that the pair now simply trade insults on the internet rather than face-to-face "to save the------- tour imploding".

He said Noel wouldn't have the nerve to criticise him in person "because he's a ------- lightweight and he knows where he'd end up".

Liam continued: "We don't travel together, do we ... so I never really see him, the only time I see him is onstage and we're a little bit busy that time to be ------- scratching each other."

Liam said the last conversation ended in a row. "I think it might have been about some ------- ---- support band he wanted to play with us and he didn't ask my permission. So we had a ------- ding-dong in the airport and I think he started crying then – that was it – doesn't travel with me anymore."

The Telegraph's belief that this spares children and sensitive adults' feelings was rudely shaken when a party of nuns mistook the interview for a game of hangman.

[Yes, yes. I know that officially Simon Heffer is alive]

Streaming now: Bad Lieutenant

Benrard Sumner's new outfit Bad Lieutenant are offering a sample of their wares over on the MySpace right now. Recalibrate your expectations before clicking: it's not New New Order. It's not even Modern Electronic.

Katy Perry as the lights go out

What's happening here?

Yes, what this is the reaction of Katy Perry's manager to his charge being asked a difficult question in an interview. Panicking that Perry might not be able to handle the hard-hitting enquiry, the manager had pulled the plug on the interview.

Literally, he pulled the plug. Perhaps he didn't realise that it's meant to be a figurative phrase; perhaps it's lucky he went with "pull the plug" and not "knock the thing on the head" or "pull her out."

The challenging enquiry was "do you admire any Australian artists?", although to be fair - and by "to be fair" I mean "making him look even more like a chump" - he hadn't heard the question properly, and thought that Perry was being asked about the pointless dispute she'd been dragged in to where she tried to sue Australian Katie Perry for being in the fashion business.

That was a ridiculous idea in the first place - trying to use legal action to block someone who had been using her own name for years, in a business that isn't actually Katy Perry's focus. It's almost as if Perry is being managed by an intemperate buffoon or something.

Still, everything got smoothed out:

Hafner added: "[Katy] was just delightful and very keen to make amends. She calmed him down and, after several apologies, the interview resumed."

Wow, her manager is really lucky that his star is so good at calming situations down and keeping everyone on side when he's behaving like a prima dona. She's surely worth the 10% of his income she must charge him.

[Thanks to James P for the story]

The Libertines reform... up to a point

Exciting - or, possibly, depressing, myth-killing news - from the NME this morning:

Pete Doherty has confirmed his plan to reform The Libertines to play UK festivals in 2010.

Really? They're reforming next summer? How on earth did Pete persuade Carl to get involved?
The Babyshambles frontman told NME.COM that he had already convinced former bandmates John Hassall [bass] and Gary Powell [drums] to reunite for gigs, and that as soon as Carl Barat agreed, dates would be finalised.

Ah. So Pete's plan would seem to be 'announce it to the press, then back Carl into a corner where he can't really say no without looking like an evil dream-killing villain. There's nothing like a reunion at knife-point, is there?

The comeback, by the way, is entirely motivated by artistic impulse and nothing whatsoever to do with the sluggish sales of Doherty's solo work.

Griffin done... portion control

Time to check in with Zoe Griffin, "the UK’s coolest party girl." This morning she's thinking about, erm, tappas:

When you order a selection of bread, olives, chorizo, calamari and patatas bravas etc, you may think it is all quite healthy but you never know exactly how much to order. And I hate wasting food, so I always end up trying to eat it all.

Isn't eating something you're not enjoying wasting food - it's not like forcing down an extra portion of squid is going to put its tentacles back and release it into the sea.

And does anyone really have trouble ordering tappas? Isn't a generally useful rule of thumb to get three items, plus a bread, and if that turns out not to be enough you can order some more?

Still, Zoe has some advice:
Tip of The Day: It’s way less stressful - and better for you - to go to restaurants that serve full meals on plates.

I don't know about you, but I'm going to write that on a Post-It note and stick it somewhere I can always see it.

So: Zoe is never starstruck by celebrities, but can be brought down by some olives and feta.

Twittergem: Zane Lowe

It's hard to know exactly what the most soul-crushing part of this tweet from @zanelowe is, but I think it might just be "all of it":

Last time I spoke with Ed Vedder, he had just been surfing on the wake of a tanker in Puget Sound. It was impressive

Gordon in the morning: My baby got the yips

Yes, since you ask, that would be Gordon Smart, stood clutching a golf club, stood alongside Vernon Kaye (TV's Les Dennis), Harry Judd (from mother and daughter country duo The Judds) and Danny Jones (one quarter of The Monkees).

Or, if the caption is to be believed, it's a:

Tee-mendous line-up ... Vernon Kay, Biz Ed Gordon Smart, Harry Judd and Danny Jones

And, you'll have noticed, they're holding golf clubs. That's why the caption says that tee thing.

This, it seems, was a golf event promoting something or other, and Gordon seems to think that we'll be interested in every moment of his corporate jolly with the sort of celebrity that even he would bump from the lead story if something about Beyonce Knowles came in.

Actually, given that Vernon Kaye was there, it's the sort of celebrity who would be bumped if a story about Solange Knowles came in.

Actually, one of the "celebrity" players was Chris Riley, who is a mate of The Enemy. This bunch would be bumped if a story about Nick Knowles came in.

Even Gordon knows that the event lacks a little glamour, but does his best to try and suggest that this isn't like a team bonding day for the Office Of Fading Stardom:
The competition was fierce at The Grove hotel in Hertfordshire - where the England footie team stay before home international matches.

When you're relying on the idea of Peter Crouch carrying an overnight bag to add glamour to your piece, you're in trouble.

But Gordon's smart, and knows that pro-celebrity (or rather no-celebrity) golf has an air clinging to it:
Forget JIMMY TARBUCK, BRUCE FORSYTH and RUSS ABBOTT - I'm joyriding their celeb golf buggy now.

Yeah, forget the time when celebs playing golf was all about the sort of people who spent their days presenting ITV game shows. Now, it's all about Vernon Kaye.

Oh, hang on.

Perhaps we could inject a little sex into the proceedings, Gordon?
The longest drive of the day belonged to Jamie. Or as he said: "I am a few inches bigger than you, Smarty."

That's not actually a double entendre, is it? In fact, Redkanpp might very well have been actually comparing his cock with Gordon's, as describing a distance as "bigger" makes no sense. Or maybe Jamie said "longer", and Gordon just can't read his notes because he was shaking with so much mirth.

Still, while nobody who wasn't there would be in any way interested in these events - good lucking pricing up the paywall for this, Messrs Murdoch - at least it's important to Gordon, right? I mean, there's no way he'd just leave the article hanging on a meaningless odd line, is there?
But his bandmate DANNY JONES landed Bizarre's Beginner gong and a swine flu boiler suit.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bosnia says bye-bye to Bono

Sometime in the past, Bosnia gave Bono a passport.

Now, though, Bosnia wants it back:

Civil Affairs Minister Sredoje Novic tells CMU Music, "If we establish that a passport was given outside a regular legal procedure, we will have no other option but to take it away. We cut no slack to anybody, not even for Bono."

The passport had been a gift from Alija Izetbegovic when he was president; it might have been better if Izetbegovic had given a more traditional gift for a well-meaning pop star, like a hat or an orphan.

Jackson's doctor just wants to say thank you

Given that whole being-implicated-in-the-death-of-his-most-famous-client business, Doctor Conrad Murray is having trouble keeping in touch with family, friends and people who don't believe he could have done anything wrong and could they just get a little extra demerol, doc?

So, he's done what any one of us would have done, and popped a video on YouTube to say sorry and thank you:

“I want to thank all of my patients and friends who have sent such kind e-mails, letters and messages to let me know of your support and prayers for me and my family. Because of all that is going on, I am afraid to return phone calls or use my e-mail. Therefore I recorded this video to let all of you know that I have been receiving your messages. I have not been able to thank you personally which as you know is not normal for me. Your messages give me strength and courage and keep me going. They mean the world to me.”

... oh, yeah, and the innocence thing. Being, you know, innocent of nearly everything - that keeps me going, too.

Ampobit: Ted Weber

Ted Weber, amp and loudspeaker king, has died.

Weber trained as an electrician and shaped his skills while in the US Army. On his return to civilian life he tried to find a role in local bands, but soon realised his greatest contribution would be to help those bands by making amps and loudspeakers. A hobby quickly became a job, and a job became a company - once which has thrived for fourteen years and currently employs 10 people; one which provides equipment for a large number of - mainly - country artists.

Weber was 58; he had been sick for some time.

Dowloadable: J Period & K'Naan

J Period and K'Naan have been working on a cross-genre albumy type thingy which pays tribute - it says here - to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. Not too much tribute to Dylan, though, as they've released a free, three-track sample of what this all actually means: Download it for free from the J Period site.

J Period. K'Naan. It's a pity LL Cool J was busy.

Dylan dumps digital duo

In a desperate bid to shore up his reputation as the world's grumpiest man, Bob Dylan has had his music tugged off from We7 and Spotify:

Clive Gardiner, we7’s digital music SVP, [told Music Ally]: “We took it off the site a few days ago. Spotify would have had the same instruction. But it may be a short listing and it may come back again.

“There are some artists that will take umbrage at this from time to time. We expect this sort of thing, especially with streaming, and it not being fully understood where it sits yet. “

It's not entirely surprising that Bob Dylan - a man who you suspect still doggedly gets up off the sofa and walks to the TV to change channels - is having trouble coming to terms with streaming, and just how different the figures are. Still, you'd have thought someone might have explained that choking off legal supply when there's still a demand isn't exactly a sensible financial approach, either.

QTrax adds to pile of woe; needs more woe storage

QTrax - or the download service that still says it can - has got more problems as it struggles towards making its January 2008 launch date. Adding to a lawsuit filed against it last week by Oracle are two further lawsuits claiming QTrax owes money.

The Oracle lawsuit is especially bitter, as not only do they say QTRax owe them money, but also allege that QTrax has violated Oracle copyrights. Which isn't the greatest thing for a legal music service to have hanging round its neck.

QTrax claims that it's just about to get hold of some cash which will allow it to pay off these people:

Qtrax CEO Allan Klepfisz said Friday that the start-up has secured some funding and is close to putting its money problems behind it, but acknowledged that management has had trouble at times paying bills. He also argued that a start-up with financial problems isn't news.

Perhaps the people from the CNET news site asking him questions about his start-up and their problems with money should have been a clue to Klefisz that, actually, it is news.

Dowloadable: The Opposite Sex

To be honest, you're going to have to be pretty special if you're going to be travelling under these colours:

The Opposite Sex has been described as majestic, powerful, dramatic, intense and unhinged. Apt verbiage considering a handful of the band’s influences which include Echo & The Bunnymen, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Killing Joke, New Model Army, T.S.O.L and other 80s-era legends with beautiful hair.

I'm not entirely sure it's possible to sound like the Bunnymen and New Model Army; it's like having a pixie boot that's shaped like a clog. And I'm not entirely convinced that The Opposite Sex quite justify that - ahem - "apt verbiage", but why not sample them and see what you think?

Download Frozen Heart/Frozen Mind and decide for yourself just how apt the verbiage is.

New owners of Waco tribune fire Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent, the unofficial spokesperson for things perhaps best just thought and forgotten, is less than thrilled to have been asked to stop contributing to the Waco Tribune.

The paper recently changed hands, and the new owners suggested they might welcome a more constructive line from Ted. Or "behaved like Nazis", as Ted puts it:

When the Nazis had the Americans surrounded in the town of Bastogne, they
demanded American General McAuliffe surrender or they would level the city. General McAuliffe’s reply: Nuts!

The new editor of the Waco Trib recently told me that I could only write nice things about people, that I could not be critical. Basically, that I need to tone it down. I can not, nor will not, comply with this Romper Room request. My reply: Nuts!

But, it's not just for Ted to call "Nazi" at an editor deciding that a contributor's tone doesn't sit well with his paper. Under the mistaken impression that a right to freedom of speech somehow means that anyone with a media outlet must subsidise everyone's opinions, Nugent then... well, he reaches for a comparison with himself:
I can’t envision Thomas Jefferson, George Washington or Ben Franklin
making a request of an anti-King George columnist to tone it down. I can’t imagine Martin Luther King toning down his message. It is impossible for me to fathom any American to tone down what is in his heart and soul.

Oh God, it's the Nazis versus Martin Luther King... and Nugent is King.
I criticize where I believe criticism is due. That’s what Thomas Paine
did when he published Common Sense prior to the Revolutionary War.

He did. He self-published, though, Ted.
I have criticized President Obama and liberals for what I consider to be
destructive, anti-American policies that will hurt our economy and harm your health. Not once have I criticized him personally because I have never met the man. As far as I know he is a decent enough guy, but in my opinion, is politically naive and very wrong, even dangerous for America. So do many
other Americans as indicated by the shrinking support for his takeover of the health care system and numerous other heavy handed, foolish moves.

I'm not going to personally criticise the dangerous, naive, wrongheaded man who will destroy everything we hold dear. I'm sure when he's not destroying everything he touches and killing you, somehow, he's a really nice chap.
When I have criticized President Obama, I have almost always countered
his dunderheaded, Marxist policies with a free market, more personal freedom alternative. More government control is not the answer to what ails America. Obama believes otherwise.

You see, Ted. This is probably the point, isn't it? The new owners of the Tribune are probably less worried by your trenchant views, and more that they're giving space to a man who can't tell the difference between Barack Obama and a Marxist. Sure, they might have told you it was because you were too mean, but I suspect they're really letting you go because you're a buffoon whose presence on their pages would make the Waco Tribune look like it offers a gathering for any soft-thinking whacko who cares to happen by with a closely-typed, ill-considered screed claiming to have evidence that Obama is a closet gay Muslim who will put all god-fearing Americans underground to live on bugs while he consorts with Satan and Nye Bevan on the streets of Washington. But - hey, don't take that personal, Ted, because I've never met you.
This newspaper and others should encourage spirited and lively debate
and criticism, especially when so many newspapers are losing
subscribers. I don’t support milquetoast journalism. It bores me.

Well, yes. Spirited and lively debate is a good thing. That's not quite the same thing as letting any blowhard roll up the paper and honk through it, though, is it, Ted?

Microsoft "reveal" digital more green than physical

Yes, thanks for stating the bleedin' obvious, Microsoft and Intel, who have produced some figures to point out that downloading electronic files has less environmental impact that having to wait for someone to make a product, drive it to a store, and then take it home from there.

Tomorrow: Microsoft produce a graphic showing that it's easier to correct errors using a word processor rather than a typewriter.

Muse: Double Devon delight

Given that it is the LAW that Muse have to win gig of the year, or live band of the year, every year, it is beholden on them to play some sort of headline event before the autumn. Luckily, they've had their plans for two Devon dates approved by the local council. Teignbridge Den, September 4th and 5th.

X Factor: Louis Walsh squares it in his head

They're doing the X Factor again this year, you know. This year, the "isn't he brave" patronisation will be turned full-force on Scott James. Scott has Asperger's Syndrome, and hadn't left the house for seven years. The noise you can hear is Simon Cowell's sweaty palms rubbing together, over and over.

Louis Walsh has his concerns:

When Walsh was asked if someone like James could take the strain of appearing on The X Factor, he said: "I don't think they can, if I'm honest.

"People don't realise the pressure that these acts are under, especially when they're competing with everybody else backstage. It's a very difficult show to do, even as a judge.

"It's very gruelling, and it's 10 weeks of very intense performance. Everything you say and do is being watched. It's like Big Brother meets Jerry Springer. It's a massive reality check for some people."

Let us just pause for a moment to wipe away the tears all of us are weeping at the thought of how tough the X Factor is for the poor, poor judges, and instead listen to what Louis is saying: that the X Factor puts people under too much pressure; more pressure than they can cope with.

Surely, then, the programme shouldn't go ahead? Or at least, if Louis Walsh had the courage of his convictions, he'd have nothing to do with it?

Unless... Louis, can you come up with an ethical workaround that will allow you to carry on drawing the massive paycheques?

'Course he can:
However, Walsh denied it was unfair to allow James to appear. "Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition," he said. "I think it's a real-life story. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice."

Except, Louis, this doesn't actually work as a justification, does it? "It's a real-life story" isn't a justification for putting it on the television (and how real is it, anyway?)

More seriously, if Walsh is using the standard Cowell/Morgan line of "nobody forces them to audition", how does that square with his own admission that "people don't realise the pressure that these acts are under"? If nobody - least of all the participants - understand the pressures contestants are under, how can turning up at audition be considered to be informed consent?

From the Archives: No Minstrel Show Fun, May 1889:
... Mister Louis Walsh, whose role is to prod the exhibit when Lord Simon of Cowell is collecting gratuities from the audience, explained most forcefully that there was no compulsion upon Merrick to appear. "Sir, had he not wished to be the focus of the public gaze, he had to do nothing more than not accept the gift of a comb. No force prevailed upon him to join our travelling show other than free will. And that sack."...

Gordon in the morning: Back to reporting Amy Winehouse's movements in intricate detail

How can you make "Amy Winehouse is going to Miami" into a lead story? You can't, but Gordon will give it a go, nevertheless.

Let's just look at the glorious URL in full:

That's quite a web address.

In a bid to try and stretch the thin detail into something that will fill a hole, a "source" is conjured up to give Amy the possibility of a phantom pregnancy:

"All her friends are worried though. She has mentioned she might meet Blake when he leaves rehab in Sheffield.

"Even more worrying is the fact that she has been feeling broody. That would be the ultimate disaster - the spawn of Fielder-Civil."

The Sun is famously cold and unloving, but I think Gordon's made-up quote hits a new low even for that paper: it's condemning a child as an "ultimate disaster" not just before it's been born, not just before it's been conceived, but at the stage of it being a vague conceptual-but-unlikely possibility. I'm confused - what do you want the people of the village to actually burn, Gordon?

Meanwhile, Iceland have dumped Kerry Katona from their adverts, "fearing a backlash" from customers. Which would be understandable, had they not had her fronting commercials for the last four years of one drug-and-addling revelation after another. Iceland have issued a statement:
"We have been working with Kerry for four years.

"She has been a successful part of our advertising campaigns, but has also been through some tough times in her personal life.

"We have always stood by her. However, following the most recent allegations, we feel it is impossible for Kerry to continue to work with us.

"We will continue to try to ensure she gets the most appropriate support, should she require our assistance."

I wonder if that's a legally binding promise, and what sort of "appropriate support" Iceland would offer, given that their expertise is in freezing mini pizzas and discounting Arctic Rolls?

It's impossible to confirm that Iceland dropped Katona this time because they felt her use of a twenty pound note to sniff the cocaine was a distraction from their value message.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How about 'don't use focus groups' as a bold move for the future, NME?

The NME will swap food for ideas:

NME is looking for feedback on the magazine through focus group sessions in August and September.

The sessions will take place between 7pm (BST) and 9pm on a series of dates at NME's offices in Southwark, south London.

We're looking for NME readers, music fans and especially non-regular readers to get involved. Food and drink will be provided at the sessions.

"Now, thinking about Kasabian: should the NME do a little more about Kasabian; a lot more about Kasabian; or, given that we seem convinced that there's an audience out there who are interested in them, should we just fill up the bits we haven't dumped over with Oasis and Kings Of Leon by stuffing those slots with Kasabian?"

It's what Kurt would have wanted

Or, at least, if Kurt hadn't, specifically, wanted there to be a glitzy double-disc 20th anniversary reissue of Bleach, he'd at the very least have mentioned that in his suicide note, wouldn't he?

Porn protests on YouTube: something, of some sort, should be done

In some sort of protest at YouTube removing music videos, protestors have been sticking a bunch of porn videos up onto the YouTube servers:

One user believed to have uploaded some of the pornographic material videos is Flonty, whose profile states that he is 21 and from Germany.

He told the BBC: "I did it because YouTube keeps deleting music. It was part of a 4Chan raid.

BBC Have Your Say users are equally, sort of worried, for reasons they can't put their fingers on, either:
YouTube delete music because they have to by law. Half the time you'll end up with a same copy of that same song elsewhere on YouTube anyway, and even then there are other sources for music. Children DON'T JUST find porn that easily. What about people at work who have a legitimate reason for using YouTube? How would one go about explaining porn to their boss?
Tony Williams, Liverpool

Given that the porn has been hidden amongst Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana material, you might wonder what job it is that involves watching this area of YouTube at work.

Presumably, though, if your boss came in and found you staring at a butt-donut, or a session of naval-drubbing, you could simply say "look, here's a report on the BBC website about how you can't avoid porn on YouTube at the moment. And, erm, I think it also explains why I'm not wearing pants right now."
YouTube is a privately owned site. Why do people feel entitled to use the site as they please? Do they help pay for bandwidth? Google ultimately has governance of what content should be on a site that they own. In most parts of the world, anyone is free to set up their own personal website with streaming content for their cause. Let's just see how many views is generated beyond their own interest group.
Sophie, Toronto, Canada

Sophie starts off with a good point - Google do own YouTube, and can do with it is as they see fit - but then lurches off in a frankly odd direction. "Go on, put things on the internet and see how many people who aren't interested in your things look at your things". None, I'd guess. It wouldn't exactly prove anything, though, would it? A herpetology website isn't going to attract any views from people who aren't that interested in amphibians or reptiles, but it doesn't mean that there's something wrong with toads, does it?

But Sophie seems to be implying that people go to YouTube to look at things that they aren't interested in. Can that be right?
A lot of comments here seem to excuse this behaviour because "kids need to learn how they get here". As if parents should take this mindlessness as an opportunity to educate their children on sex and procreation.
RB, Florida

Also, of course, quite a lot of the videos don't really help on the procreation front, just raising extra questions along the lines of "and so how do Daddy's fishes then get from the tied-up lady's face into her belly?"
True, there's porn on millions of sites which children could easily have access to, but there is a significant difference between that and interest groups purposely tricking and delivering porn to children in a Hannah Montana package on YouTube .
Tiya, Miami, Fl

But if your kids are that young, you'd be supervising their time online and would have been able to leap in at the first sight of something unsavoury, right? Hello? Right?

Yes, yes, we've all seen the words "Hannah Montana package", but let's try and keep some decorum, shall we?
"Moderate all the uploaded videos? Are you insane?" said Michael, he's right because latest reports from a few days ago indicate 20 hours of video are uploaded every second. The only solution is to charge users for uploading content, while watching remains free.
Ian Mayman, UK

Ian Mayman doesn't say whereabouts in the UK he's from, but I'm betting it will be somewhere around 76 Buckingham Palace Road. Still, charging people to provide content for Google to sell advertising around - neat idea, Ian.
For those who wanted to protest the loss of music from Google, it doesn't seem very inventive to upload porn to YouTube. If they really wanted to make a more distinguished protest, they could have plainly made a video of their own and uploaded it instead of acting cowardly as they have.
Kelly , Crofton, BC, Canada

Kelly neglects to mention how much time she had been giving to the question of music on YouTube prior to this story appearing, nor if she has extrapolated that this sort of discussion is taking place because of the porn in a way that wouldn't have happened with a worthy piece.

It doesn't make it right, of course. And, in one of the few comments that is actually delivering a coherent thought, Nicholas Mills points out it could be counter-productive:
This could be a serious problem - not because of the idea that children could see this material but because it's a rare occurrence which could cause catastrophic results: censorship. And serious censorship at that - with people using this incident as an excuse to begin censoring video's not suitable for children. Youtube is a fantastic medium that self-censors amazingly well - what, I hope, people understand is that this is one situation and a minority out of the majority of users that post non-pornographic content and follow the rules.
Nicholas Mills, Glasgow, Scotland

Malcolm Laycock: Not going quietly

Malcolm Laycock has let himself slide away from the embrace of Radio 2, slamming doors as he goes:

"Listeners are up in arms about Radio 2 and its policy towards the older age group. Some say, 'They're attacking the music.' What you have is show after show, hour after hour of white rock music," Laycock told the Mail on Sunday.

"It's just soft rock on Radio 2 all day."

Whoever would have thought that someone with a grudge against the BBC would find a sympathetic shoulder at the Mail On Sunday, eh?

Is he right, though? At this moment, Matthew Bannister is playing Paloma Faith - who self-identifies as soul; the playlist does feature some soft rock, but also Mica Paris and Beverley Knight. And that's just the playlist, which you'd imagine would be more contemporary. Besides, people in their twenties when soft rock ruled the world will now be in their sixties - shouldn't Radio 2 reflect their tastes as well as those of people in their eighties?

And if the audience is so upset, where are all the listeners coming from?

Oh, but it turns out being popular is wrong:
After Radio 2 won an award, they put up a sign above the door saying, 'The most listened to station in the UK.'

"That is wrong. That's the job of a commercial station. I think the BBC has gone off the rails. It's a great big oil tanker that is careering in the wrong direction.

"It's not existing to serve the public any more. It's existing to grow bigger and bigger, and for managers to earn more and more."

Yes, getting bigger and bigger by throwing out old Radio 2 names like Terry Wogan to make room for the far more popular Terry Wogan. I mean, if you were an "old geezer", where would you go on the station now? Besides the breakfast show every day.

Laycock doesn't, sadly, show his working of how you grow more and more popular without serving the public. but I'm sure he had thought this through.

The funny thing is, this isn't really about the music, is it, Malcolm?
He had also asked for a £14,000 pay rise, something that he said reflected the changing nature of his role, acting as both presenter and producer on the show.

"It was a full-time job," said Laycock. "They were paying me just over £24,000 for 52 programmes, 52 hours of radio. It is the same average pay for a student leaving college."

Now, I'm not so foolish as to believe that making an hour of radio a week takes just an hour (which would put Malcolm on a plumber's rate of £461 an hour), but - frankly - if it's a full-time job for you to prepare sixty minutes of programming, all of which appears to have been off gramophone records, you might not be in the right job.

Even allowing a six to one ratio of content to preparation, Malcolm's payday comes out at something like £120,000 a year, pro-rata, which would be a pretty sweet payday for most people.

Malcolm has also been a little disingenuous with his figure of student earnings - £24k is the average wage offered for graduate positions, but since many graduates don't find work in specific graduate roles, the average earnings for a new graduate following completion of a first degree is actually £19,300. For a full-time job, not a "full-time" job. [source: Association of Graduate Recruiters/Higher Education Statistics Agency]

It's also worth noting that Malcolm was freelance, and as such his payment isn't directly comparable with a paid employee in the first place.

But... this is about music, isn't it? Not the money at all.

George Michael in better condition than Sky News subs

"As a jugde, your hounor. Sobre as a jugde." Sky News then failed to walk in a straight line.

Amy Winehouse: More unlikey television news

Amy Winehouse is going to start her road back by, erm, standing in the background behind Bruce Forsyth, according to The First Post:

Singer Amy Winehouse, who is said finally to have kicked her drugs habit, is making a surprising comeback: as a backing singer on Strictly Come Dancing. The beehive-sporting, tattooed singer has agreed to sing back-up for her 13-year-old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield during a performance on the BBC reality TV show.

Let's assume for just a moment that this is a true story: would it really be fair to Dionne Bromfield to overshadow her big break by having Godmama crashing about in the background?

Bromfield is being groomed as a future star (Amy without the demons, if there can be an Amy without the demons); having her on Saturday night TV doing a turn with Winehouse wouldn't project that image - it'd just make her look like she'd had her letter picked out by Jimmy Saville.

Mind you, that's if there is any value in the story in the first place. The First Post isn't exactly well-sourced on this one:
An unidentified source told a tabloid newspaper that: "Everybody's extremely nervous about the appearance but the team are confident Amy could make it work and really do some good for Dionne. She’s promised to not mess it up on the night."

Presumably the tabloid newspaper was running the story on condition of anonymity?

Gordon in the morning: Two Gallaghers and another Noel

For some reason, both in the paper and web version of Bizarre, the lead... well, let's say "story", shall we? The lead story is an offer from Carlos Tevez to teach Noel Gallagher latin dance.

Tevez and his brother Diego are Buenos Aires' answer to The Gallaghers, notching up a bit of chart success in their homeland with hit single Lose Your Control a few years back.

God, I don't like Oasis much, but that's a low jibe. Surely a pair of footballers having one hit makes them more akin to Hoddle & Waddle than Oasis?

If that's not Oasis being stretched thin enough, there's a secondary report about Noel Gallagher. And the U2 aftershow.

The picture says it all:

Surprising that Gordon has all those Photoshop Boffins he's always talking about, and yet doesn't seem to know anyone who can do redeye removal. Unless his eyes really are that colour.

Elsewhere, Noel Fielding has supposedly been axed as team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks following some sort of 'young man takes drugs' story at the weekend:
But when details of his drug taking emerged over the weekend, Beeb top brass withdrew the offer.

The Mighty Boosh funny man confessed on Sunday that over the past couple of years he had become a heavy cocaine user as his fame grew, but stressed he'd put his wild days behind him.

It seems a little unlikely that the BBC would have moved with that sort of speed. On a Sunday. And in such a definitive direction.

Oddly, the only reports that Fielding was to be a captain on the new series came, erm, from The Sun in the first place.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Labelobit: Shawn Patrick Kelley

Sorry to hear of the death of Shawn Patrick Kelley who, with Tommi Emmi founded Oregon's Cymbalism Recordings.

The label gave a home to a wide range of bands, including Emmi's own Plan 9, Pure Phase and Fused Forces.

Kelley, who was engaged, died early yesterday.

Lord Mandelson: What a charming guest he is

There is nothing, nothing at all, profoundly undemocratic about Peter Mandelson having a delicious dinner paid for by David Geffen and Steven Spielberg and then suddenly demanding that something must be done about internet filesharing.

After all, any one of us could buy Mandelson lunch and have him change the emphasis of government policy as a result, right? I hear that for a Pret A Manger sandwich and a soup, you can get the positioning of letter boxes in Slough changed; throw in a Krispy Kreme donut for desert and Mandelson will look in to having planning law changed to let you put a dormer window in your greenhouse.

Mandelson is denying that there is any link between his having a gorgeous, slap-up meal on the copyright lobby and the sudden ordering of officials to draw up what The Sunday Times call "draconian" plans:

A Whitehall source said: “Until the past week Mandelson had shown little personal interest in the Digital Britain agenda. Suddenly Peter returned from holiday and effectively issued this edict that the regulation needs to be tougher.”

A spokesman for Mandelson refused to comment on the planned internet clampdown. “Work has been ongoing on these issues for a matter of weeks,” he said. “Lord Mandelson does not believe Digital Britain is even on David Geffen's radar. There was no discussion on this with Geffen.”

Of course, it might all be a wonderful, magical coincidence - on a par with finding the face of Herbert Morrison on a slice of toast - but the denial doesn't actually give much confidence, as a response to 'did you allow Geffen and ET-boy to make Her Majesty's Government policy' which says 'I don't think David Geffen has even heard of the Digital Britain report' isn't really a denial, is it?

But let's take Mandelson's spokesteam at their forked-tongue word for a moment, and assume that Mandelson's department had been working "for weeks" on policy relating to copyright. What would that make Mandelson's decision to go off and have an evening being wined and dined by two people with a direct interest in those policies? If he had come back and started the process, that would make him look easily bought; if he had already been working on it when nipping off to eat Geffen's goat's cheese terrine, that makes him guilty of a terrible misjudgment.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - United Breaks Guitars

Music can sometimes change the world. Less often, it can make corporations admit their mistakes, as happened when United Breaks Guitars took Sons Of Maxwell's complaints about United Airlines to five million viewers. (Worth remembering that a letter to Esther Rantzen would have got a larger audience in the 1970s.)

Today, Christopher Elliott asks Barbara Higgins, United vice president of customer contact centers, what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a musical consumer campaign:

As Mr. Carroll has said directly, the agent he encountered is a great employee, unflappable and acted in the interests of the United policies she represented, and we couldn’t agree more. But in all candor, Mr. Carrroll has made his point, we have incorporated the experience into our training.

How, exactly, would a video like this be incorporated into training?

It will provide all of us — regardless of where we work or in which department — with an example of how we can be more empathetic to our guests when situations suggest we should. In our business, how we conduct ourselves is important, and our employees understand that treating each other and our guests in a courteous and respectful manner is a vital part of running a good airline.

Woot-ton: Andre nother thing...

Katie Price - a woman whose career seems to be based entirely on charging people for a look up her shirt - is going to "ruin" Peter Andre out of some sort of need for revenge.

Ruining Peter Andre? Isn't that a bit like trying to force a Mini Metro off the road? You could put in the effort, but frankly it's going to topple over under its own steam before too long.

This is all revealed in a big interview with the News Of The World, which Dan Wootton has been allowed to help out with, which is nice. James Deesborough was also on hand, too. Somewhat oddly, despite this double-handed interview team, the report still falls back to having to quote things that Jordan supposedly told "a pal" and "a source close to Jordan". Two of the finest typists the News of the World have to offer nab an exclusive interview, and still have to pad it out with unsubstantiated tattle? No wonder Little Murdoch and his Poppa worried about the bottom line at the paper.

Still, the twin strikers do manage to get this out of the woman:

FURIOUS Jordan last night revealed the bitter truth that made her life with Peter Andre hell, admitting: "I lived a lie for five years."

So, Jordan's brilliant plan for bringing down Andre is to, erm, tell everyone that the churning programmes she's been knocking out for ITV for the last half-decade have just been full of old bollocks she's been feeding them. Thank god she doesn't have to plot her own books.

That's why Mum's gone to see if Icepick can't sort her out

To be frank, News Of The World, it's not actually as shocking as you think that you've got a video of Kerry Katona doing cocaine. The only really surprise is that she's snorting it through a rolled-up twenty pound note. Where the hell did she get one of those from?

Producerobit: Jim Dickinson

Jim Dickinson, keyboard genius and producer, has died.

Born in Arkansas and growing up in Memphis, Dickinson was a member of Atlantic Records' house band The Dixie Flyers. This group - wheeled in to beef up other people's tracks - positioned Dickinson behind the piano for some great works. It's his keyboards on Teenage Head by The Flaming Groovies; on Spirit In The Dark by Aretha Franklin and - crucially - on The Rolling Stones' Wild Horses. It's fair to say there wouldn't be a Wild Horses without Dickinson's involvement.

During the 1970s, he moved in to production, working with Mojo Nixon and Green On Red amongst others; he was the man sitting in the small glass room when Big Star made Third. In 1998, he returned to big name producing for Mudhoney's Tomorrow Hit Today - this just a few months after helping Dylan to a Grammy by playing on Time Out Of Mind. He continued working with bands from Memphis, as mentor and producer, up until he fell ill.

As a musician, he never really stopped working, either. His final solo album, Dinosaurs Run In Circles, was released in May.

Dickinson has been ill for some time - living a country where people would rather scream than have state support, Dickinson had been relying on friends and supporters to help pay his medical bills.

His wife told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that there are no plans for a public memorial. Jim Dickinson was 67.

This week just gone

Since the start of 2008, these have been the names which have been most-associated with people doing searches for "penis":

1. Ronan Keating
2. Pete Doherty
3. R Kelly
4. Soulja Boy
5. John Barrowman
6. Dannii Minogue
7. Darius Danesh
8. Dave Mustaine
9. McFly
10. Brian Molko

There was also a search for the average penis size of a St Bernard.

These were put on sale and worth investigating:

She Keeps Bees - Nests

download Nests

The Temper Trap - Conditions

download Conditions

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs - Under The Covers 2

download Under The Covers

Emiliana Torrini - Rarities

download Rarities

James Yorkston - Folk Songs

Klaus Schulze - La Vie Electronique 3 Box Set

download volume two

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, 20 Pack, Assorted Colours