Saturday, February 06, 2010

Lil'Wayne: Littler, waning

Lil Wayne's last album sold a million copies in its first week, in the US alone.

How is the new one doing? Not so good:

Cash Money/Universal Motown’s Lil Wayne long-awaited rock album, Rebirth, hit yesterday, and looks on track for between 140-150k in first-week sales as he prepares to be imprisoned for a year on gun possession charges.

That's a lot of fans to misplace in eighteen months or so.


Intro5pect weekend: No More Time

A video taken from the self-titled album, with all the work done by Shahab Zargari:



[Part of Intro5pect weekend]


What happens to all those booking fees?

Hypebot points out the bonuses paid to the pre-merger LiveNation executives:

CEO Michael Rapino - $3 million

Executive Chairman Irving Azoff - $2 million

Kathy Willard, EVP - $1 million

Michael Rowles, EVP & General Counsel - $500,000

That's before they merged with the only serious competition. I wonder what everyone at TicketNation will be taking home next year?


Intro5pect weekend: The War At Home

Recorded live at the Cracktoberfest 2007, with Stza Crack joining in:



[Part of the Intro5pect weekend]


Format madness: The SixPak

The music buying public - and they're still around - are embracing single tracks with a passion. And why wouldn't we? The idea that we no longer have to shell out for complete collections of music regardless of how much we like the padding is one of the sweet joys of the digital era. Even ill-thought-out b-sides can be avoided.

The record labels, of course, don't like it. They've grown rich over the years by dumping a load of snouts-and-trotters into the album mix, bulking up a couple of good tunes into a ten quid album.

Watching them try to find a way to make people buy tracks they neither want nor need is, perhaps, even more heartbreaking than watching the labels attempting to try and rebuild a business distributing circles of plastic in a world without warehouses or shop shelves.

Warner Music Nashville have invented a new format, the SixPak, which they hope will bring back padding, reports Billboard:

In an acknowledgment of growing consumer dissatisfaction with the traditional CD format, for the first time a major label is replacing the typical 10-plus song CD release with two six-song CDs whose release dates are separated by mere months.

A six track album? Isn't that just an EP?

Blake Shelton is the first to have his music released on this brand-new seventy year-old format, and he's excited:
Shelton says industry reaction has been positive and ultimately, its better for his fans. "Fans will get more music than me putting out a new album every two years," he said. "It's a quicker way to get new music to them."

There are two sorts of fans - the very few who would have loved a ten track album anyway, and the other sort, for whom the fact the couple of tracks they want are spread out over two collections, instead of one, will make no difference.

It's not clear why Warners assumes people will buy two records of stuff they don't want instead of simply not buying one.


Intro5pect weekend: Sustainable Yield

Not, I'd freely admit, the most visually stimulating contribution we've had for an embed and breakfast weekend, but it's about the lyrics anyway, innit?



[Part of the Intro5pect weekend]


Liam dumps Oasis brand

Although Liam Gallagher's new band will feature most of Oasis, and is almost certain to sound like Oasis, and is about as eagerly-awaited as a late-period Oasis album, it won't be called Oasis.

That's for certain:

"No, it's not Oasis, that was a shit name anyway," Gallagher told radio station XFM. "I'm glad to see the back of it."

"There's a name that we're digging at the moment, but we're going to get on with the music and see how it goes."

You're digging a name, are you, you crazy hepcat you?


Actorobit: Ian Carmichael

Sad to hear of the death of Ian Carmichael, which is being reported by the BBC. Although best-known as an actor - he's probably the best screen Peter Wimsey - he had a small side concern going knocking out records in the mid-1960s. Most notably, he reunited with his television Butler Dennis Price to record a Jeeves And Wooster single, What Would I Do Without Jeeves for HMV in 1966.

As far as I can tell, his last released record was on Noel Edmond's Listen With Mother collection for BBC Records And Tapes. Although that was reading (The Cat Who Wanted To Sing Carols) rather than actually singing.


Embed and breakfast man: Intro5pect

Yes, it's a noisy one today. Hailed by Maximum Rock & Roll as a blend of Anti-Flag and Attention Deficit, meet Intro5pect.

Normally, any band which replaces a perfectly serviceable letter with a number would be barred from appearing within a quarter mile of No Rock, but blending shouting, a little bit electronica, punk and politics is enough to win us over.

This track is See The End:



Buy
Self-titled
Self-titled download
Record Profits download

Intro5pect online
Official site
Twitter @intro5pect
Intro5pect MySpace
Intro5pect on Spotify

Some more Intro5pect to come over the weekend
Sustainable Yield
The War At Home live
No More Time
Unknown title live


Gordon in the morning: We're living in the future now

You won't have been able to sleep last night, with Gordon's announcement yesterday that he had some "amazing new technology which I'll be revealing". Whatever could it be?

Wonder no longer:

First, find the JLS video pane on my website. Then hold the star up to your webcam, as demonstrated by my colleague Lia Nicholls.

If the webcam can see the star, a performance of One Shot will start playing. If you remove the star, it will stop.

And moving the star in three dimensions moves the lads around too, with you in the background.

Oh. Augmented reality using a webcam? Sure, that might have impressed my grandfather, but - since Radio One tried and quickly abandoned the gimmick two years ago - you'd have to stretch the truth a bit to describe it as either "amazing" or "new".

You might be more interested to know that Editors have recorded a session for The Sun. Decent Editors at The Sun? That's got to be a first.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Embed and breakfast man: St Vincent

Playing a song in a shop that doesn't really exist, St Vincent visits Women For Women First bookstore:


St. Vincent - "Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood"


[via Monitor Mix]


Hot Chip: honesty in advertising

Hot Chip are doing a MySpace show in New York tonight. At least their press team are honest:

Hot Chip and the not so secret MySpace show

If only MySpace could be so upfront about how a gig advertised on the fourth-or-fifth largest social networking website in the world can't really be secret.


Gordon in the morning: JLS for nothing

Back in the pre-internet age, before instant gratification was made a right under European Law, we would collect tokens from Smash Hits week after week, sending them off and waiting for some badges through the post. Innocent times.

Times to which Gordon is returning us, with his very own coupon-clipping offer. Of course, the present isn't anywhere near as good as a set of badges:

Collect four tokens which will be printed in The Sun starting tomorrow and send them with a stamped addressed envelope back to us for your chance to be in the 3,000-strong crowd for the exclusive Bizarre gig.

If you're under thirteen, the concept of "stamped addressed envelope" must surely be a foreign one. Perhaps next week Gordon's going to come up with a competition that uses the phrase "...or the back of a sealed-down envelope".

Still, it's quite a smart move to try and sell extra copies of the paper to that all-important tone-deaf pre-teen demographic that advertisers are always trying to chase.

Clearly, though, there are more than 3,000 JLS fans at the moment, and they can't all fit in the gig. What do you get then?
All entries will get an exclusive JLS lanyard along with signed pictures of the band, worth around £5 and not available from any other outlet.

If Gordon says a photo and a laminate on a string is worth "around £5", who are we to disbelieve him?
And that's not all.

Order now and Gordon will add in a mini nasal-hair clipper and free shipping...

Oh, hang on: it's not that:
You will be able to watch an exclusive JLS performance on your computer, thanks to amazing new technology which I'll be revealing in Bizarre tomorrow.

"It's called a webcamera and scientist believe that within twenty years, this technology could be used to broadcast music gigs direct to people's computers in their homes."


Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bruce takes name off bar tab

Here's a funny story - that's not funny-ha-ha, it's more funny-is-that-a-dead-raccoon-because-something-sure-is-stinking.

Yesterday, ASCAP, Bruce Springsteen and Clinton Ballard, Jr. filed a lawsuit against a bar in New York after a band played three Bruce songs without a licence.

Today, it turns out, Springsteen's name was put on the lawsuit with neither his approval nor knowledge:

"In regards to the ASCAP lawsuit against Connolly's Pub and Restaurant, ASCAP was solely responsible for naming Bruce Springsteen as a plaintiff in the lawsuit," Springsteen's representatives said in a statement on Thursday. "Bruce Springsteen had no knowledge of this lawsuit, was not asked if he would participate as a named plaintiff and would not have agreed to do so if he had been asked. Upon learning of this lawsuit this morning, Bruce Springsteen's representatives demanded the immediate removal of his name from the lawsuit."

I'm no moral relativist - oh, alright, I am - but isn't 'playing a couple of songs without the paperwork' less of an evil than 'stealing someone's name to bolster a lawsuit against someone who played a couple of songs without paperwork'?

Isn't this stealing Springsteen's identity? Isn't that worse than borrowing a couple of songs which didn't cost him anything?


RAJARS: 6Music finds listeners

It's feeling a bit grim for 6Music at the moment, a station which sits in the BBC Radio family knowing that if the going gets hard in the next couple of years (and by that, we mean "if Cameron gets in"), it's going to be very hard to survive. The sounds of idiots shouting "why not sell of Radio One and Two, because they're probably no different to Heart, I should imagine, if I'd ever listened to them" will be hard enough to cope with; you fear that a network which can only claim to be distinctive and interesting will struggle in such an environment.

So, let's just cheer ourselves up with listening figures for 6Music up 12.3% year-on-year.

Things are a bit more mixed over at NME:

Indie music magazine spin-off NME Radio was down 18.8% on the previous quarter but up 16.4% year on year to 177,000.

You suspect that this might be down less to any great fluctuation in listeners, more to the difficulty in tracking a national station with such a small audience to begin with.

Along the dial, the Asian Network, which is already on death watch has lost another 5% of its audience.

Back on the old radio, Absolute resumed the quarter-on-quarter declines which have greeted its change of name. And Wogan went out on a high, meaning that Chris Evans is going to have to prepare for headlines accusing him of 'losing' listeners in three months' time.


EMIconmics

You hear a lot about how terrible it is being a record label these days - but they're still quite nice little businesses. In fact, if they started to spend less time trying to force the world not to change, they could have a happy life making hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.

Take EMI, for example. £300,000,000 earnings before tax and write-downs last year. Sure, it's not an oil company, but it's a nice business. Not even managed decline, is it? Manage the reinvention of the business, and you'd be fine.

That is, unless you did something stupid like loading the company down with millions of debt it barely has a hope of repaying. That sort of stupid.

What's that, Robert Peston?

EMI's results for 2009 will show that it generated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of around £300m.

Multiplying that £300m by six or seven - the standard valuation multiple these days - gives a notional value for the whole of the recorded music business of something like £1.8bn.

That's good, right?
Now EMI was bought by Guy Hands' Terra Firma private-equity firm for more than $8bn in the autumn of 2007 (note that I have now switched into US dollars)

That takeover was financed with of $3bn of equity, provided by Terra Firma and its backers, and with $5bn of debt, provided by the giant US bank, Citigroup.

And just a few months ago, Terra Firma put in a further $500m of equity.

So if the business is now worth £1.8bn, that is equivalent to $2.8bn at today's exchange rate.

In other words, then...
Which means that every single cent of Terra Firma's equity has been wiped out. It also means that Citigroup is facing a loss of more than $2bn on the loans it provided.

The total loss for Terra Firm and Citi together would be something like $5.7bn.

Of course, Terra Firma has a plan. You don't look at a company struggling under piles of piles of debt without coming up with a cunning plan.
However, to use the jargon, those covenant breaches [when EMI breaks its banking promises] can be "cured" if Guy Hands can persuade Terra Firma's backers to stump up £120m in the next month or so.

Ah yes. Put more money in to the company. That makes sense. Let's just hope nobody stops to notice that it would take EMI two years to actually earn back that £120 million.

Hands grand plan seems to be asking backers to fund an even higher wall for spunking cash up against. Who wouldn't fall for that, eh?

[Thanks to @alanconnor]


Black Francis writes for you

At the end of March, Black Francis is releasing a new album - NonStopErotik. To celebrate, he's put a few thoughts down in a press release:

I finally came into possession of an old guitar someone had given me at a nightclub in San Francisco awhile back; Eric Drew Feldman had been holding it for me there on Haight Street. He convinced me that it looked cool (it was black) and had been given in the spirit of benevolence. Every time I picked it up a nice chord came out and so I lovingly cleaned it with red wine in the dressing room the following night and began to write. I told the tour manager that we would drive in my Cadillac directly to a recording studio in Los Angeles (and could he book one, oh, and a rhythm section, too?) from the gig in San Luis Obispo which would put us at the studio at about 4am. It all happened according to plan and we cut the initial tracks there in the wee hours over a few days, and then moved on to an equally haunted studio in London and Eric Drew Feldman joined us there and we finished the record in St. John's Wood. Like I said the studio was haunted and I wrote many a couplet by candlelight in the studio accommodation, slept very little, and only felt the need to get the fuck out of there fast on the last night. The spirits had not ever bothered me, other than low drama moral support, but I was informed that they had heard enough and it was time to move on; plus I had a gig in Ireland.

When I was a boy the plant we boys called a fern was code for vagina, and to this day I love fern plants. In my heart the vagina is almost everything, and almost everything else could be summed up in what cock and seed have to offer; and everything else? The love of the father, dead or alive, the pain of too much pleasure, till death do us part, the voice of another song man from the other side, with or without God, Teri and the Possibilities, where ever you may be, the smell of sex in the air, seduced, slain, on my knees in prayer, sucking at the only thing that matters, my own personal Meret Oppenheim, I am Man Ray and I want you and to be all the way inside you, the cameras whirring as we put some elbow grease into the scene, the audience watching us in the dark.

Fern was...? Whatever was Tony Britton thinking of?


Men At Work weren't prepared for that

Bad news for Men At Work - an Australian court has just found them guilty of plagiarism.

And not just any old plagiarism. Oh, no - Men At Work have stolen from the Girl Guides:

The Australian band Men at Work are facing a big legal bill after a court ruled it had plagiarised a Girl Guides' song in its 1983 hit, Down Under.

Although, actually, the song doesn't belong to the Girl Guides at all; it's actually owned by Larrikin Music.

They're seeking between 40% and 60% of the earnings from the song.

The big question is why the company didn't come forward until over twenty years after the song was released. Perhaps its one of those where you go "this reminds me of something... ooh, what is it?" For a couple of decades.

The court decided that Down Under borrows a little too heavily from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

Still, the sorry story does allow the BBC News website to explain the song as if it was part of the court report:
A number one in Australia, the US and the UK, the song tells the story of an Australian backpacker touring the world.

It pays tribute to "a land down under where beer does flow and men chunder".

The song also refers to the popular Australian food spread Vegemite.

"I said 'Do you speak my language?', he just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich," says an Australian traveller in Brussels.

Now, in other news, upset following a cake being left out in the rain by persons unknown. The cake's owner is said to be struggling to come to terms with the event, a situation worsened as she is unlikely to have the recipe again.


Gordon in the morning: Kate Moss does her job

YOU can always rely on KATE MOSS to happily dispose of her clothes for a fashion shoot.

Yes, it's part of her job. It's hardly news, is it?

Mind you, given that Bizarre is still giving prominence to that JLS joke about selling condoms, perhaps Gordon is running 'fashion model does sexy shoot' as he hasn't got anything else at all to go with.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

John Lydon settles assault case

A complaint seeking damages for an alleged assault by John Lydon has been settled.

Roxane Davis has accused Lydon of attacking her because he was unhappy with a hotel room she had booked for him. The courts have been informed that a deal has been reached; nothing, as yet, has been made public. So it's not clear if he's going to have to do another set of butter adverts.


Goldsworthy chooses UK over DFA

Tim Goldsworthy has, more or less, severed his ties with DFA Records and returned to the UK.

Although this has prompted a rash of 'end of an era' pieces, Resident Advisor observes that it's just a geographical reflection of an extant existential distance:

[Goldsworthy] points out that he has done very little work with DFA in the past two years, though he would be willing to do more production or remix work for the label "if something good came along and I got offered it."

Apparently, Goldsworthy didn't bother to let DFA know he was off. Nobody wants to have a conversation in which they say "actually, I think Britain's a much better place to raise kids..."


Arcade Fire: singalong for charity

In another piece of nifty fundraising, The Arcade Fire have licensed Wake Up to the NFL. The NFL will get to use the song during the Superbowl; the resultant cash will go to help Haiti.

Not quite sure that yer average Sports Fan is really going to enjoy bellowing about how we grow up but our hearts get torn up. Perhaps the idea is to encourage sales of Budweiser by encouraging Americans to drown their sorrows.


McGowan does his bit for Haiti

As group singalong singles go, you've got to prefer the news that Shane McGowan has put together a bellowy cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins to raise money for Haiti:

The song is set to include Nick Cave, Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie, the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, the Clash's Mick Jones, the Sex Pistols' Glen Matlock, and singer Paloma Faith.

Johnny Depp is also going to be involved, playing guitar. It won't sell in anything like as many numbers as Cowell's tune, but at least there's no message.


Jay Reatard: "Cocaine toxicity and alcohol"

The Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting the findings of coroner Karen E. Chancellor's investigation into the death of Jay Reatard:

Shelby County Medical Examiner Karen E. Chancellor ruled that Memphis musician Jay Reatard died Jan. 13 from "cocaine toxicity, and that alcohol was a contributing factor in his death."

How crushingly pointless.


Le Tigre meet Christina Aguilera

So keen were Le Tigre to write for Christina they came out of hiatus to do so.

Yes, that Le Tigre; yes, that Christina Aguilera.

Apparently, what would expect to be a gulf between the two sides politically can be quite easily bridged:

"[We] found a ton of common ground in our aim to make upbeat danceable tracks celebrating female friendship, strength, and of course, PARTYING," [Johanna] Fateman said. "For a feminist band obsessed with pop music, it was pretty much a dream come true."[

Hmm. Yes, there's clearly common ground - although much of Aguilera's after school movie emoting has sounded more talking point than heartfelt belief - but isn't the central message of Aguilera's career curve been about how you can sell a lot, lot more records if you take your pants off for a Maxim cover or two? Isn't there even a discussion to be had there rather than just going "woo - we all like to PARTY"?

I could very well be wrong - but what's disappointing is that Le Tigre don't even seem to want to tell me why I'm wrong.


Live Ash tonight

If you log in to the official Ash site at 3pm New York Time, you'll get a live performance. They say you can Tweet questions at them, too. Like with technology.

It'll be more fun than a Josh Groban concert - guaranteed.


Coming attraction: Amelia Fletcher sings Hefner

The Allo Darlin And Friends night at Barden's Boudoir in ofcourseLondon on February 9th already sounds pretty good: Tender Trap + Moustache Of Insanity + Darren Hayman (solo) + Hexicon + Goonite DJs.

Factor in this tweet from @fortuanapop, as well:

cool! darren hayman and amelia fletcher are singing some hefner duets at allo darlin gig next tues http://www.wegottickets.com/event/70139

That's got to look pretty attractive, right?


Gordon in the morning: Rubber out

Could a session from Scouting For Girls be made any less attractive? Oh yes:

SCOUTING FOR GIRLS have joked how they may release a song called She's So Rubbery - on the advice of NOEL GALLAGHER.

When the band played an exclusive Biz Session I told them how Noel joked that their hit She's So Lovely was about a blow-up doll after his daughter kept singing the rubbery lyric.

And on it goes. Roy Stride claims this is "the best story I've ever heard."

Which it might just be.

It seems to escape the band that they're so dull, the most interesting thing Smart can find to say about them is that a small child has misheard their lyrics. Indeed, it's what the whole article is about.

Scouting For Very Small Girls indeed.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Josh Groban doesn't think you should expect value for money in a charity gig

The Lefsetz Letter picks up some comments from Josh Groban, apparently tweeted after complaints about a lacklustre charity show:

"I really don’t feel that charity performances should be subject to reviews in the same light as other performances…."

"people give their time, energy and voices, for free and with little to no rehearsal and critics should put away the snot-o-meter."

"just a thought. night!"

This was after a gig where some people had paid over a grand for their tickets. Is it really okay to suggest that because Groban's not pocketing the cash for himself that nobody should complain if a show is a bit rubbish?

Then why bother playing the show at all?

Would Groban feel alright with going to a charity night at a restaurant only to discover that the chef had spat in the spaghetti - but, hey, it's for charity so why should anyone complain?


Soft Pack ten pack

Phil Collins doing two shows on Live Aid day? Yeah, maybe they were in different countries, but even so, compared with what the Soft Pack did. One day, ten gigs.



Sure, it might have lacked a little bit of supersonic transatlantic flight action, but even so: pretty impressive.


Black Grape: Back again

The return of Judge Fudge: Although Black Grape always had the air of something done while waiting for the Mondays to reform, Shaun Ryder has announced he's getting the old (B) gang back together:

Ryder said: "It's great, it's interesting, it's part two. I've had a break and now I'm back to do it. Danny Saber and I have a great working relationship and the time is right."

And, yes, Kermit's on board too. It's astonishing that Ryder could persuade everyone to put their... uh, other stuff... to one side to make this happen.


Fresh Garbage

While it's fun watching Shirley Manson be a killer vixen robot from the future, it's even more exciting that she's dropping hints about a new Garbage record:

"Guess who I just spent a week in the studio with?" Manson wrote [on Facebook], before adding, "Would you be pleased if I said one of them was called Steve and one of them was called Duke and another was a Grammy-winning producer?"

Well, perhaps. Unless it's former Brighton and Hove Albion captain Steve Foster, the corpse of John Wayne and Jim Jonsin. Because that would be a cruel trick.


The Charlatans: Back to the start

This year, it's twenty years since Some Friendly came out.

Yes, yes, but nobody broke it to me gently, so what do you expect?

The anniversary will be marked with a run-through of the entire album at the Roundhouse in London and some sort of re-releasing/repackaging of the disc. May 31st for the gig.

The audience is expected to contain many people too young to have been born when it came out, as part of a special operation to make you feel ancient. Anyone over the age of about 25 will be routinely asked if they ever saw a dinosaur.

My flatmate had the limited-edition special release in wipe-clean white vinyl sleeve, you know.

[When it was just 19: The Some Friendly weekend]


Sade dreams of retirement

Sade struggling with the demands of putting out the odd album and being featured in 'where are they now' columns, reports ContactMusic:

Sade often considers retirement.

The 'Smooth Operator' singer admitted she sometimes thinks she wants to give up, but can't follow through.

She said: "Is it still worth it? I think it is. After every album, I think, 'Right that's it, no more.'

"But how lucky am I at my age still to be doing this without any outside pressure?"

There's no outside pressure. It's not like people are constantly demanding she makes new albums.

Still, even when she's not busily working on putting out an album every seven years or so, she's still quite busy:
"Being a mother is the biggest and hardest job I've ever undertaken.

"I'm not complaining but I've never had a nanny. For years after she was born I put Ila to bed every night. As soon as she arrived she became the centre of my life."

There's something fascinating about a person who thinks that not employing a nanny is some sort of badge of honour, isn't there?


Gordon in the morning: Covering JLS

Gordon has forgotten his main purpose of late - that of running huge, pointless pieces about JLS. The JLS management team have sent their coathangers round to remind Gordon of his duty, and are rewarded with a piece which, once again, has Gordon posing for awkward pictures with the band and running a clanking story which focuses on the sheer amount of sex they have and that:

Aston said: "It's all about staying safe. We all think so. My mum sends me down a stash and I dish them out to the lads so none of us have to worry.

"I'd really be up for doing some kind of campaign about safe sex."

The boys even came up with a name for their contraceptive line - Just Love Safe.

Brilliant.

Yes, brilliant. They've managed to come up with three words starting with specific letters. Truly, they are the Dorothy Parkers of our age.

JLS condoms, eh? The ones you choose if you're really only going to fill them with water and lob them about a bit.

There's also this slightly odd bit:
I GAVE the JLS lads an exclusive listen to The Sun's Helping Haiti charity song and they got a wee bit emotional.

A journalist gave a group of singers an "exclusive" listen to their own song?

It is worth looking at the page for the photo of the band staring grimly at a computer, with this caption:
Solemn ... JLS lads listen to Sun's song for Haiti

Solemn. You don't mess about when you're listening to Simon Cowell being a humanitarian.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Helping Haiti: We Are Still The World

Simon Cowell's stately progress towards his singalong charity single now looks even more embarrassing - he's been lapped by Quincy Jones, who's turned round a remake of We Are The World in about a week.

They're recording tonight - 'they' being Akon, Jason Mraz, Bono, Wyclef Jean, Carlos Santana, Enrique Iglesias, Usher, Toni Braxton and Lady Gaga.

Obviously, it would be unseemly to compare two charity records both, clearly, motivated by nothing more than a desire to help. (After all: what else could multi-multi-millionaires do than record a song to persuade the poorer to have over a few coins?) But what is taking Cowell so long? It's not like he's got to make a song which sounds any good, is it?


Xiu Xiu Camel suit stubbed

Back at the end of 2007, Rolling Stone ran a piece about indie bands which looked oddly like a Camel cigarettes advert. There was an angry letter at the time, but Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up decided to take it further by launching a class action lawsuit.

Somewhat surprisingly, the case has been dismissed by Justice Robert Dondero on the grounds that he's apparently never heard of advertorials:

The justices found no evidence that R.J. Reynolds, Camel's parent company, influenced Rolling Stone's editorial content or decisions. What's more, the justices wrote, Rolling Stone's main purpose is publishing a magazine -- noncommercial speech -- not selling cigarettes.

"Simply put, there is no legal precedent for converting noncommercial speech into commercial speech merely based on its proximity to the latter," Justice Robert Dondero wrote. "There is also no precedent for converting a noncommercial speaker into a commercial speaker in the absence of any direct interest in the product or service being sold."

So, legally and in the US at least, slapping a load of text in a heavily-sponsored stand alone pull-out isn't meant to use the value of the subjects of the "non-commercial" text to add lustre to the sponsor.

Presumably, Justice Dondero would therefore be incredibly laid-back if someone ran a magazine about him sponsored entirely by massage parlours and escort agencies.

The complaint, surely, wasn't about 'being near some ads', it was about 'being in a sponsored section'; the judge seems to have failed to grasp the difference.

Still, it's handy for Rolling Stone to be reminded that its main purpose is the articles it runs, and not the adverts it carries. Let's hope that news gets back to Rolling Stone.


Midweeks come to Radio One

At the risk of sounding like some actor pretending to be a PC user, we did suggest a few years back that sharing the midweek charts properly might be a way to try and make the charts a bit more interesting for the average person.

At the risk of sounding like a contrary sod, now they're actually going to do it, I think it's probably come way, way too late to actually turn round interest in the best selling singles.

Oh, yes, there were a lot of people exercised about the battle between McElderly and Rage Against The Machine back at Christmas - when Sony turned against Sony - but of those people so exercised, how many could even tell you what's number one this week? Even Joe lost interest once Boxing Day came around. He doesn't even know his record eventually made it to number one. Nobody from his team has bothered to check.

There's a characteristically odd piece of writing from MediaGuardian to welcome plans for Radio One to broadcast the chart:

BBC Radio 1 is to break with more than 40 years of tradition by broadcasting a midweek chart rundown for the first time.

Eh? But for the first couple of decades, the midweek chart rundown was the chart - certainly until the mid 1980s, there wasn't really much opportunity for there to be a half-way chart because it was too slow and expensive to compile the chart proper without giving it a couple of days for numbers to be collected, collated and crunched. So, yes, it is something they haven't done before; and, yes, they could have been doing it for a few years now. But breaking a 40 year tradition? That's a bit over the top.


Not all Taylors are the same

The Liverpool Echo has managed to ruin plans for American signer Taylor Bright to do a small gig at a school in the city; the paper erroneously claimed it was Taylor Swift off the Grammys who would be appearing. The school, St Margaret Mary's (why, yes, it is a Catholic Girls' school) sighed:

In a statement it said: "We had planned a short concert for the children on Monday 1 February, featuring an unknown singer, Taylor Bright.

"Unfortunately, the Liverpool Echo has printed an inaccurate story that pop singer Taylor Swift is coming.

"There will now be no concert and the Liverpool Echo has promised to print an amendment."

You have to feel a bit sorry for Taylor Bright, don't you? There is this implication that she's not going to draw a crowd. "We invited Taylor Bright, so obviously nobody was going to come to see that, but then the Echo went and claimed it was someone much, much better. You know, Bright we could have coped with - we'd have come up with some way of hiding the empty seats. But Swift? Jeez, she could pull a crowd. We'd need barriers, stewards, the whole nine yards. Actually, let's not bother with Taylor Bright at all. Ring her up and cancel."

The Echo is contrite:
"The Echo regrets the mistake in Saturday's paper and has apologised to the school's governors.

"We are making a donation to school funds as a gesture of goodwill."

"... and, hey maybe we should get the kids some tickets to go see Beyonce who we know for a fact is going to be playing Anfield Comp on Thursday, right?"


Grammys 2010: Beyonce does alright

I don't think the New York Times is trying to be satirical here:

The Grammys got lucky this year. For a show broadcast from an arena, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, it happened to have top nominees who barnstormed arenas last year — Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Pink, Green Day — and one who already packs enough spectacle for skyboxes, Lady Gaga.

Yes, how lucky that the record label awards featured the record label's largest acts.

Presumably the NYT is thinking of last year's disastrous bad luck for the Grammys, when the nominations were led by Mumbling Jack McMumbles and Fritwave, the Germanic collective of socially phobic mime artists.

Michael Jackson did alright for a dead guy:
It was another thank-you from a music business that continues to owe Jackson more gratitude, now for being the best-selling act of 2009. His poised son Prince, accepting his father’s latest Grammy, said his “message was simple: love,” adding, “We will continue to spread his message and help the world.”

That's a bit awkward, though, isn't it? Jackson sold more than anyone else not because he was good, but because he was dead, so they effectively dragged his son in to pick up a prize celebrating how well everyone did out of his pa dropping dead.

The Grammys featured the by-now-mandated 'surprising' collaborations - "I'll take one from the current Top 40, one from the greatest acts of the 1970s, and a song from whatever TimeLife Records will be plugging at the break". Lady GaGa and Elton John giving way to Stevie Nicks and Taylor Swift and... well, everybody and an out-of-register Michael Jackson:
[T]he Grammys had the 3-D video that would have been shown during Jackson’s “This Is It” concerts, overlaid with live belting by Usher, Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood. In a song that sees disaster everywhere, none of them matched the anguish in Jackson’s own vocals, but they came surprisingly close. (Those who didn’t have 3-D glasses saw red and green blurs around Jackson’s Edenic rain forest, complete with innocent child, but were spared the equally protruding live performers.)

Seldom has so much effort been expanded on bringing such a lightweight tune before such a grand audience. How can you really sing "oh, we're completely destroying the world with our consumption of raw materials" in a three-minute segment requiring the wearing of plastic glasses and a whole extra set of cameras without corpsing?

It was to be Beyonce's night - indeed, you suspect there was some sort of contractual obligation insisting it was to be Beyonce's night, given she got to do two songs and wasn't forced to share the stage with someone out of Dr Hook.

Kings of Leon did manage to pick up Record Of The Year for Use Somebody in the face of relentless prize-giving to Beyonce.

Here's the winners:

Album of the Year: "Fearless," Taylor Swift

Record of the Year: "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon

Song of the Year: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it)," Beyonce Knowles

New Artist: Zac Brown Band

Pop Vocal Album: "The E.N.D.", The Black Eyed Peas

Female Pop Vocal Performance: "Halo," Beyonce Knowles

Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Make It Mine," Jason Mraz

Rock Album: "21st Century Breakdown," Green Day

Rock Song: "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon

R&B Album: "BLACKsummers'night, "Maxwell

R&B Song: "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," Beyonce Knowles

Rap Album: "Relapse," Eminem

Rap Song: "Run This Town," Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Run This Town," Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West

Country Album: "Fearless," Taylor Swift

Female Country Vocal Performance: "White Horse," Taylor Swift

Male Country Vocal Performance: "Sweet Thing," Keith Urban,

Latin Pop Album: "Sin Frenos," La Quinta Estacion

Contemporary Jazz Album: "75," Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate

Classical Album: "Mahler: Symphony No. 8; Adagio from Symphony No. 10"

Traditional Gospel Album: "Oh Happy Day," various artists

Dance Recording: "Poker Face," Lady Gaga

Electronic Dance Album: "The Fame," Lady Gaga

Alternative Music Album: "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," Phoenix

Spoken Word Album: "Always Looking Up," Michael J. Fox

Comedy Album: "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" Stephen Colbert

[The full-if-you-can-be-full-without-polka list is on the Grammys site]


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Husky Rescue weekend: Sound Of Love

Playing live on a very, very blue stage in St Petersburg - from last year:



[Part of Husky Rescue weekend]


Are we not Quatchi? We are Devo

One of the few bright spots in the Winter Olympics which loom over us like a ski-shoe sliding down our faces forever is the news that Devo are going to turn up in Whistler to do a gig.

Not quite sure I can follow a line from 'winter sports' to 'Devo', but the whole thing will be shown by NBC in the states and, presumably, for a tantalising few seconds make it on to YouTube before getting yanked off again.


Woot-ton: Doesn't Amy go bi every three months or so?

Even the News Of The World's Dan Wootton can't really work up any surprise over Amy Winehouse muttering that she sometimes likes girls:

I think we all had our suspicions

Actually, Dan, I'm pretty sure I've read this story about sixteen times before anyway.

Still, Dan runs it like we're going to grab the arms of our chairs and shriek 'never! never!' but, really, it's a bit like holding space over to reveal that Brett Anderson needs a belt to keep his trousers up.


Husky Rescue weekend: Sweet Little Kitten

This, I suspect, might not be the official video to Sweet Little Kitten:



[Part of Husky Rescue weekend]


Stacking the cards in the labels' favour

As the Digital Economy Bill makes its way through parliament, it attracts amendments and its shape clarifies itself.

For example: if you get accused of listening to music without a licence, and your internet connection hangs in the balance, you have a right of appeal, yes?

Well... sort of. Only if you can afford it:

People wrongly accused of illegal downloading would be able to appeal the disconnection before it happened and could be charged by Ofcom, the media regulator, to cover the administrative costs of the appeals process run by the Tribunals Service.

So, to clarify what Mandelson's bill is proposing: if you're unjustly accused of sharing material without the correct licence, you're still going to have to pay a levy to a government body to keep your internet connection.

The whole concept of copyright has gone so far from being about fairness, it's perhaps not surprising that those innocent of all charges will end up out of pocket just to keep access to their blameless connection. The record labels want this; they should fund this.


Embed and breakfast man: Husky Rescue

To celebrate the release of Ship of Light.

I'm always slightly suspicious when bands are described as having formed in, say, Helsinki - which is what the official history of Husky Rescue claims - because I know how often American journalists just lump any group from anywhere in the UK as hailing from London, but let's go with the official version. Founded in Helsinki by Marko Nyberg in 2002, Ship Of Light is the third proper album. Naturally, there's a tour in support:

5 Feb Klubi Tampere
6 Feb Klubi Turku
10 Feb Tavastia Helsinki
11 Feb Lutakko Jyväskylä
12 Feb Henry´s Pub Kuopio
13 Feb Kellari Joensuu
3 Mar Moles Bath
4 Mar Hanbury Club Brighton
5 Mar Islington Academy London
7 Mar Academy Birmingham
18 Mar Chelsea Vienna
19 Mar Exit O7 Luxembourg
20 Mar Botanique Brussels
21 Mar Paradiso Amsterdam

The band is one of those interesting Popguns/Catatonia style arrangements where a female singer (Reeta-Leena Korhola) is delivering lyrics from her heart that, actually, were written by a bloke stood alongside her. How does that work, Marko?

Most of the time I consider vocals as a beautiful extra instrument. Vocals are the most touching element because of they bring a real and organic value you don’t get from other instruments. Why spoil an illusion explaining the content of the lyrics? The whole world around the song will break and the whole illusion may be spoiled. Music and lyrics create a fragile magic and beauty where a song can have a different meaning for everyone.

However they get there, this is what they sound like:



That's New Light Of Tomorrow from 2004's Country Falls, that is.

Buy
Ship of Light
Download Ship of Light
Ghost Is Not Real
Download Ghost Is Not Real
Country Falls
Download Country Falls

More Husky Rescue online
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Husky Rescue MySpace
Husky Rescue on Spotify

More Husky Rescue video across the weekend


Downloadable: Midlake

Yesterday's Guardian offered a free Midlake album "for every reader". The bar set to prove readership seems to have been that you could find the URL on the site. This would be that URL.


This week just gone

The most-read stories from February of any year have been:

1. 2006: Is KT Tunstall gay?
2. 2006: R Kelly's brother helps out on the 'child sex' charges
3. 2007: Damon Albarn suddenly feels embarrassed by band name
4. 2009: Video - Joan As Policewoman - Eternal Flame
5. 2009: Ex-INXS singer 'sleeping in a car'
6. 2006: RIP Joaquin Tavares
7. 2007: Kasabian invent 'Bosnian folklore music'
8. 2005: Fred Durst and his leaky sex tape
9. 2009: Grammys - UK people actually win something
10. 2009: Morrissey on The One Show

These were this week's interesting releases:


Durutti Column - Paean To Wilson


Download Paean To Wilson



Tindersticks - Falling Down A Mountain


Download Falling Down A Mountain



Laura Viers - July Flame


Download July Flame



Charlotte Gainsbourg - Irm


Download Irm



Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future


Download No Hope, No Future



Four Tet - There Is Love Within You


Download There Is Love...



Magnetic Fields - Realism


Download Distortion



Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own


Download Basia Bulat



Hadouken - For The Masses


Download For The Masses



Deus - Worst-Case Scenario Deluxe anniversary re-release


Download Worst-Case Scenario



Fixin The Charts - Everybody Was In The French Resistance Now


Download Fixin' The Charts