Saturday, August 07, 2010

Target say sorry

After the anger at Target's donation to Tom Emmer's campaign started to pick up more media coverage and a quarter of a million boycott notices, the financial markets started to dump Target stock for fear of a GLBT boycott destroying the bottom line. Now, Target have said a sort-of sorry:

Dear Target Leaders,
I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target’s contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.

In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.

The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.

Thank you for sharing your input and for your continued commitment to making Target an even stronger company.

Gregg Steinhafel
Chairman, President and CEO
I'm not sure coming up with a policy of "don't give money to hate-filled right-wing blowhards" should take much time this fall, but good luck with that.

Best Buy, however, have only made a stuttering statement that's more a justification, no apology. Brian Dunn heads the company, and he might be funding a homophobe's political campaign, but - hey - it's a learning experience, right?:
One of the best parts of my job leading Best Buy is meeting customers and employees and hearing what they have to say. Recently, some have had a lot to say about Best Buy’s activity in politics, and our political contributions. If I could gather all of our employees and customers in one room, here’s what I’d tell them about Best Buy:

We’re Listening: In our quest to focus on jobs and the economy, we’ve disappointed and confused some employees and customers. My leadership team and I are listening to, and learning from, your input. I’m taking it to heart.

We’re Learning: Best Buy’s recent contribution in Minnesota was done through an independent expenditure organization, focused solely on jobs and an improved economy. However, in this case, this contribution has raised questions on broader issues beyond jobs and the economy – most specifically, on issues that involve the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (LGBT) community. We’ve learned from this. We’ve had a policy and process to guide the company’s voice (which has always remained focused on our business and the economy). We will review the process we use to make political contributions. We’ll seek out employee input and ideas about the policy and process.

We Remain Focused on Jobs and the Economy: I want our company to grow and do well so that Best Buy can continue to be a good employer and continue to support the communities in which we do business. While it’s not without risks, Best Buy will continue to make our voice heard in the debate about the economic livelihood of our communities.

We Encourage You To Get Involved: I believe in the importance of political debate. And we believe in the power of that debate. That’s why it’s so important for you to get involved and make sure your voice is being heard. I encourage you to be engaged in the communities where we live and do business. Be part of the electoral process. Join the political debate. Exercise your right to vote.

We’re the Same Company We’ve Always Been: Some groups are raising questions about our commitment to the LGBT community. The fact is that we have been - and remain - strongly committed to LGBT workplace equality, and other diversity concerns.

• We’re proud of our relationships with Twin Cities PRIDE, The Matthew Shepherd Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other groups that advocate for the rights of diverse communities.

• For the past six years Best Buy has received a perfect 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index recognizing our commitment to LGBT workplace equality.
• Best Buy works closely with the Human Rights Campaign and other businesses in advocating for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

• Best Buy also supports a number of employee groups, including our PRIDE employee business network.

One Last Thing … Best Buy is a people company. I often say, but more importantly, I BELIEVE, that our people are our greatest competitive advantage. I remain as strong as ever in our belief that a diverse workforce and customer base makes us a better company. I want our employees and customers - all of them - to feel welcome and valued.
They're listening, they're learning. They're not, though, going to show any indication that giving Tom Emmer money was wrong. Best Steer Clear.

No help from his friends: Pras won't endorse Wyclef

Well, that's going to make a Fugees reunion even more awkward than it would be normally. If they can get past someone asking Lauryn how the solo career is going, Pras endorsing Wyclef Jean's opponent for Haitian president, Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly:

The Haitian-born musician says he will not back Jean because he lacks a definitive plan to bring the island nation into the 21st century.

"You've got 1.2 million people living in tent city right now. What are the plans to get these people out," Pras said of the survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake.
"Also" he continued, "he allowed himself to be mixed up in that cover version of No Woman, No Cry. Who'd take seriously the opinion of someone who did that... oh, hang on..."

What The Pop Papers Say: If you go to a festival, you should accept you might get attacked, apparently

Catching up with the last couple of weeks' NMEs last night was a bit surprised to come across a blasé "Festival Safety Report" from last week's issue. (This is the31st July edition.)

In response to the two attempted murders and alleged abduction-sexual assault at T, and the rapes at Lattitude, Luke Lewis considered the modern festival. The message, somewhat surprisingly, is that you have to expect this sort of thing:

T in the Park Organiser Geoff Ellis was similarly keen to place violenty crime at the event in context.

"T In the Park, while it's on, is essentially the fifth biggest town in Scotland. Statistically, over a weekend, you'd actually expect crime to be higher than it is."
What? Two people are stabbed, someone bundled off and sexually assaulted, and you're shrugging that you're surprised there's not more of this sort of thing?

That's not an entirely encouraging response. Especially since there are dozens of reasons why you'd expect a town to have more crime than a festival, starting from the basis of "not having to pay over a hundred pounds to be in a town".

Latitude's Melvin Benn was also busily stressing how, hey, rapes happen and it isn't like it's the festival's fault, is it:
"Will I review things? Of course. I'm not complacent. But in no way could Festival Republic be attributed any blame for what happened. I feel very strongly about that."
Benn popped up shortly after Latitude suggesting that the answer might be for women to be more careful, and this washing of hands of any possible shred of culpability is a bit rich.

One of the reasons - and I'm using "reasons" in the sense of "excuses" - given for the rapid inflation of ticket prices for festivals over the last few years has been the increased levels of security. It's now increasingly clear that when festivals talk about security, what they're really talking about is perimeter fences, forgery-proofing tickets and making sure wristbands don't get swapped, rather than, you know, keeping the people who are buying the tickets safe. Because, you know, there's a lot of people there, and you'll always have crimes when lots of people come together.

That's true to a point, and nobody expects a festival to be totally crimeproofed. Pilfering from tents and the extortionate price of lager is something festival attendees have learned to bear with a stoicism that does them credit. And no matter how well-run a festival is, there's a chance that an idiot with a grudge and a knife, or an arsehole rapist will still be roaming about intent on ruining somebody's life.

But when it does happen, the organisers should respond with more than a shrug and a rush to try and protect the brand.

Here's Melvin Benn:
"I don't think this will harm festival going. People acknowledge that this is an incredibly unfortunate thing to have happened. But it isn't about being in a festival environment. It's about society in general."
Yes, you did read that correctly: Benn just described two young women being raped as "incredibly unfortunate".

But, hey, it's society - what can you do, eh?

Still, the NME has a proud liberal, pro-fan history, right? Luke Lewis will be pointing out that this isn't good enough, and perhaps suggesting it's time for festivals to think about ensuring their increasingly younger audiences are able to avoid "incredibly unfortunately" being raped. Right?
The bottom line is we should be wary of ramping up a few, admittedly appalling incidents into a tabloid-style scare story
Because, of course, either you shrug and say 'hey, let's focus on all the people who didn't get stabbed' or else you're running a tabloid scare story. It's not like four unconnected incidents might be worth treating with something more than a shrug, a chance to at least explore how they happened and if there's any lessons to be learned, is it? I wonder how many rapes and stabbings the NME would consider the point to start that conversation? Or would that always be "tabloid-style scare stories"?
Most revellers were sober in their response. The majority of people I spoke to [at Latitude] seemed to accept that, statistically, with such a concentration of people in one place, serious crimes were bound to happen at festivals.
How fortunate that echoes the views of the festival promotion companies, who the NME works with in oh-so-many ways. But if it's really true that you should just accept you're in with a statistical chance of being raped or stabbed when you go to a festival, perhaps that should be printed on the tickets. Maybe even a little check box to accept that when you buy them online.

After all: at Latitude, being raped is just an unfortunate thing that might happen to you, what with all the people there.

Embed and breakfast man: Clinic

A new video from the lovely, lovely Clinic. It's called I'm Aware. And it's directed by Super Furry Animal designer Peter Fowler:

[Buy Clinic back catalogue]

Gordon in the morning: Bottoms up

Did you know Tanya Gold sometimes does stuff for The Sun? Back in March, she was why-oh-whying through the vomit-strewn streets of late night Britain:

You are a binge drinker, I say, and you are risking your health. "Yes, I am!" she happily shrieks back.

I probe her about why she drinks and if she is worried about her health, her liver, her personal safety, her sanity. It is like talking to a child. She is not worried and she doesn't know why she binge drinks.

As far as I can see, teenagers in Britain are playing Russian roulette with their lives every weekend.

And at least some of these teenage drinkers will become chronic alcoholics.
Why oh why?
BRITAIN is in the midst of an underage drinking epidemic, say medical experts and politicians.

New figures show that 8,000 under-18s are being admitted to A&E every year for drink-related problems.

But why do teenage girls, some as young as 14, feel the need to get so wasted?
Yes, it's a total mystery. Where do young kids get the idea it's cool to drink until you fall over, that it's natural and perhaps the only way to express pleasure?

Total mystery.

Anyhoo, back to this morning's Gordon Smart Is Bizarre. He's reporting on how The Wanted have spent their week at Number One:
I ASSUMED THE WANTED were just another drippy boy band.

But the chart-topping quintet have shot straight to No1 in my Caners' League with an impressive bender that lasted FIVE DAYS.
They did what, Gordon? Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Still trying to think about how young people get the idea that they need to be getting wasted. What were you saying?
SIVA KANESWARAN was the worst victim - being barely able to string a sentence together.

He said: "We got home at 6am. No one remembers much."
Forgive me, Gordon. Just can't get Tanya's report out of my mind. Why do these kids find themselves treating drinking almost as if it's a competitive sport? Still, that's got nothing to do with your entertainment beat, has it? Tell me more about the Wanted:
Current Caner Of The Year holders JLS have gone so soft they are in real danger of losing their crown.
Sorry - got distracted again. I was wondering if perhaps there's peer pressure on youngsters to drink; that perhaps if they don't "keep up" they might find themselves being ridiculed. You were saying something about JLS, I believe, Gordon?
Chief boozers ASTON MERRYGOLD and MARVIN HUMES were rarely seen without a drink in one hand and a girl on their arm throughout 2009.
I might be being a little unfair to Gordon here - it's not like he's absolutely slurry-thick ignorant about how his 'your liver is something you must destroy in order to obtain coolness' shtick might influence younger readers. Why, look: he even includes a public information line:
NATHAN SYKES, who wasn't able to drink as he is still only 17, said the boys are determined to keep the ball rolling.
You see? There's no way that Gordon could be accused to adding on the pressures of underage drinkers.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Yoko Ono tells world "you go on ahead without us"

Seemingly convinced anyone really cares, Yoko Ono has given an update on how negotiations between Apple and The Beatles are going:

"Steve Jobs has his own idea and he's a brilliant guy," Ono, the 77-year-old widow of John Lennon, told Reuters. "There's just an element that we're not very happy about, as people. We are holding out.

"Don't hold your breath ... for anything," she said with a laugh.
I suspect Steve Jobs' brilliant idea might be that they get the tracks onto iTunes and start making some money while there are still two people who might want digital Beatles who haven't already ripped a copy or torrented them down.

Gordon in the morning: Allen the family

It only encourages him:

PREGNANT singer LILY ALLEN beamed yesterday "It's a Sun."

The thrilled mum-to-be took to Twitter to show off my exclusive front page story that she is expecting for the first time.
Seriously. I suspect that Allen was as much rolling her eyes as welcoming The Sun's decision to splash her womb across the paper, but that doesn't seem to have bothered Gordon.
Lily posed with a copy of Britain's favourite paper and posted it up for her two million plus followers to see.
This could turn into a recursive loop, so let's hope Lily doesn't post a copy of this story, otherwise Gordon will have to report on that, which she'll have to post, and so on and so on, until we can't remember why it wasn't really any of our business in the first place.

In other stuff that we can't quite bring ourselves to call news, Robbie Williams is apparently getting married in a secret ceremony tomorrow. Not entirely sure who it's a secret from - perhaps Gordon's using the word "secret" to mean "not yet posted to Lily Allen's Twitter for her two million followers to see":
Secretive Robbie and his bride-to-be told family and close friends of the date only last week.
Perhaps he was trying to keep it out of the papers.

Unbelievably, Gordon decides this event requires him to offer an opinion:
Bizarre Editor
That bit would have been the easy bit. But... what then, Gordon? What could you possibly have to say?
ROBBIE Williams has been tamed.
Really? That's it?

Do you have anything to actually say, or is this just an excuse for a bit of name-dropping?
But his best girlfriend to date is Ayda. It's no coincidence she might just happen to be the least famous of them all. I met her when I interviewed Robbie in his mum's London flat last year. She's seriously fit.
Wow. That manages to combine being shallow with being a bit creepy.

I wonder if Gordon told Ayda she was Williams' "best girlfriend to date"?
She's good for Robbie and he's finally realised it's what he needs to keep him sane. Now he really is rich beyond his wildest dreams.
Actually, that's quite a sweet little line to end on. Pity it came after a couple of hundred words of poking the future Mrs Williams like she was a prize cow - and absolutely no suggestion that Ayda is also getting married; it's almost as if marrying Robbie Williams is something that is being done at her.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Annie after 40 years

You have to take your hat off to Annie Nightingale - for quite a while, Radio 1's only woman presenter, and now chalking up forty years on the station. They're going to celebrate her 40th anniversary - an Annie Versary, if you must - with a night of special programmes:

The main event of the tribute evening will be a three-hour concert, featuring such Nightingale-approved acts as Primal Scream, Fatboy Slim, Tinchy Stryder, Professor Green and I Blame Coco.
I Blame Coco? I should coco, more like.

Naturally, a proper Nightingale tribute concert would feature Is That All There Is and Fish heads, a brief period when her place in the audience would be filled by Mark Ellen sitting in, before a spot of theatre whereby a man dressed as The Controller shows everyone how much they value her by shoving her into a 2am slot on Wednesday mornings.

This will all happen in September. After all, October's when the network lives up to its pledge to honour its previous longest-serving employee, by Keeping It Peel. This year, they're going to build on last year's doing bugger all, and do bugger all, all over again.

Katy Perry says 'hands off Jesus'

Given that Katy Perry is the daughter of a hyper-Christian, she should have an interesting perspective on the use of church imagery in pop.

She doesn't, though.

Shortly after Lady GaGa did her rosary-swallowing video, Perry tweeted:

"Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke."
Ha! Yes, it's like doing a fart joke. Or, you know, a young pop singer throwing faux-lesbianism into a song in a bid to try and make good the shortcomings in her talent. That sort of thing.

Anyway, the jibe was obviously aimed at GaGa. Wasn't it?
"What's funny is that everybody was assuming I was directing it completely towards her, and if I was directing something I would write their '@,' " she told a French radio station. "Lately, I've just been seeing some things that are kind of like, I don't know, in my own personal feelings, a little bit like not something I would do, I guess."
Experts tell us that it looks like Perry had opened the oven of her mouth before the souffle of thoughts had finished cooking.

"Actually" clarified the experts, "looking again, it's more as if she's just thrown some eggs straight into the oven and hoped that somehow it might end up as a souffle. Metaphorically speaking."

But, you might be wondering, how can a please-buy-sexual throw stones? Perry has an answer to that:
"Yes, I said I kissed a girl. But I didn't say I kissed a girl while f---ing a crucifix."
I'm not sure you actually can fuck a crucifix. I suppose if it was large enough you might be able to do some sort of frottage. Or maybe Perry meant something along the lines of crucifix masturbation along the lines of The Exorcist. But she didn't do it. Because in her own personal feelings it's a little bit like something she wouldn't do, we guess.

Quick radio listening figure round-up

That 6Music closure? The gift that keeps on giving for the network - it's had a year-on-year doubling of audience in this morning's RAJAR figures.

Can I just point out the Guardian's coverage of digital radio figures seems to have been written in a bit of a rush - it says 6 is up, Asian Network is up, 1Xtra and 5Live Sports Extra are down, and then that Radio 7 "bucked the corporation's digital trend" because its figures were up. Eh?

Also might have been worth mentioning alongside this:

NME Radio rose 17.7% on a year ago and was up 11.9% on the previous quarter to 253,000 listeners.
... that the station was canned during the period.

What's clear from these figures is that the digital audience appears to be volatile, which you have to suspect is down to the methodology of counting rather than the actual audiences:
Smash Hits was up 16.1% on the previous quarter, although down 14.3% year on year, to 990,000 listeners.
A crash in listeners you can believe. A rally in listeners you can believe. But this rushing up and down by such large amounts each quarter kind of undermines the credibility of the numbers.

In the battle between Chris Evans and Chris Moyles, Evans is winning the who can shed the most listeners race - Evans has misplaced a million in three months, Moyles just 200,000.

Gordon in the morning: Liam in the dog house

Poor Liam Gallagher. You know things must be grim for him when even Gordon is running a publicity photo he's put out and - effectively - pointing and laughing. It's like a monsignor snarking at the Pope:

Liam posed for this terrible publicity shot to launch the pooch-loving event with Nicole, their Dachshund Ruby Tuesday, and the resident vet from TV's This Morning, MARC ABRAHAM.

It's worse than IGGY POP doing the Swiftcover ads.

There's no doubt Liam and Nicole's intentions are good in publicising the charity event on behalf of the Kennel Club.

But it looks a bit low rent for a man of his standing.
Given that he's just the bloke who used to be in a band that haven't really done anything worth the candle since the turn of the century, I'd say that a dog-and-pony show (albeit without a pony) would be more or less on the money. Why would pushing a puppy-off be any more awful than his day job of selling awful trousers?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Phil Collins had a lust for blood

HBO thought Phil Collins should return to acting:

"I get sent a script from HBO. There was a Russian serial killer who killed and cannibalised 50-odd kids."
Clearly, HBO had seen Collins' performance as a Mexican in the Illegal Alien video and concluded that he was the right man to have a crack at playing a Russian.

Collins was up for it, too:
As soon as I got the script, I thought, 'I've got to play this guy!' But my wife wouldn't let me do it.
She was probably right - can you imagine the legal trouble HBO would be in if they let Collins play a multiple killer? The cannibal's reputation would never recover.

Gary Numan doesn't like critics

You know, some people call Gary Numan pretentious.

Isn't that true, Gary:

People say I'm pretentious?
They do.
Fuck off!
Uh, yes. That'll um... show them.

Actually, do people call Numan pretentious? Balding, plane-crashing, Thatcher-worshipping, royal-loving - all these things, yes. But pretentious? He advertised market stall jeans, didn't he?

Music Anywhere: Carphone Warehouse launches inexplicable music streaming service

At first, it sounds like it might be an interesting cloud-based service:

A groundbreaking mobile music service that will allow music-lovers to access their entire music collection on the move, at work or on their mobile phone, will launch tomorrow, in what is being welcomed as positive move by the embattled music industry.
On closer investigation, though, it turns out to be totally pointless.

You sign up for the service. You pay thirty quid a year. It crawls your desktop music collection, uses 'musical fingerprinting' to make a list of what you have. Then, when you're listening to your phone, instead of storing the music on your phone, it plays you tracks from its servers which match those you have on your computer.

So, you're using data transmission to float files across to your ears that you could have just stored on the phone in the first place. And paying £30 on top.

With indications that the phone companies are about to cull unlimited data packages, using your ration to access files that you could have stored locally would seem a little odd. The thing only works with modern smart handsets, so it's not like it's a way of bringing music to older phones.

If your music collection is too big for your phone, admittedly, it might an interesting idea (although you'd also be likely to discover that much of what you have isn't kept within the six million tracks offered by Music Anywhere), then you could have up until recently used Simplify Media to do the same thing for the price of an iPhone app - shortly the technology will reappear under Google ownership.

In effect, paying thirty quid and data transfer to hear a subset of songs you own is just a bemusing offer.
"This is a real turning point for the music industry," said Harry Malone, chief executive of Catch Media, the technology company involved in creating the service.

"I do think it has the potential to transform the industry because it provides a new source of revenue and will help to reduce piracy. It is so easy, simple and cheap that it is an encouragement for pirates not to bother stealing," he said.
But... it doesn't actually, does it? You've got to have the music on your computer to start with, and expressly the service doesn't check if the files are licensed or not.

In fact, if I wanted to hear, say, Blondie's early stuff on my phone, and didn't already own it, I might be tempted to go and grab it off the torrents precisely so that it would be picked up by the fingerprinting part of Music Anywhere.

There's no link with piracy here at all - it's like suggesting that restaurants offering corkage will stop people stealing wine.

Curious all round.

[If you need another reason to avoid Music Anywhere, Carphone Warehouse are in a business partnership with Best Buy, one of the companies suppporting happy-with-homophobes Republican politician Tom Emmer.]

Some surprises: IFPI & RIAA issue takedowns on Radiohead's "behalf"

You'll recall last month Warners blithely issued a DCMA notice against us because we, erm, used a link to a file on a band's own website that the band's own label's PR team had invited us to link to. That seemed a little bit like people over-reaching their powers, but today the IFRI is at it again.

Takedown notices have been sent out ordering bloggers to take down In Rainbows tracks:

"These recordings are owned by one of our member companies and have not been authorised for this kind of use"
That's what the letter claims. Only... they're not, are they? In Rainbows was self-released. Sure, it might have been licensed to ATO in the states, but they don't own the tracks.

After all, the record labels have been telling us for years that just because we have a license allowing us to use tracks it doesn't mean they belong to us.

The tracks do appear to have been being used without permission, but it's clear that the RIAA had no authority whatsoever to demand they be removed.

These takedown orders are proper, legal statements. They're made under the pain of perjury. If the music industry continues to press them, they should at least get them right.

[Thanks to @jamesthegill]

Downloadable: The Corin Tucker Band

That name above the blog shows our love for all things Sleater-Kinney related, so I'm delighted that Doubt by The Corin Tucker Band has been made available as a sampling-taster for the soon-come album 1,000 Years.

KRS have got the West Coast of America tour dates, too.

Embed and breakfast man: David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails

Back in 1995, Bowie and NIN toured together.

Why, yes: they did play together:

David Williams filmed this; he's slowly sharing the fruits of the dates in his Vimeo stream.

UPDATE [08-01-12]: That video has vanished from the internet, but... as ever, there's an alternative source:

Gordon in the morning: After birth

Serge out of Kasabian has become a father:

Serge has a little Kasabairn
Doesn't quite work, does it? A Kasbabyian, surely?

There's not much to say about 'man's partner gives birth', but Gordon never lets a chance go by to remind us that he's big showbiz pals with Kasabian who are his pals and he knows them and everything.
If only the nipper had arrived a couple of weeks ago, when Serge was up with his girlfriend for T In The Park - then Ennio would have qualified as Scottish.
Um... and?
In 2030 the national team could do with a strike partner for my No9 - little JIMMY SMART.
Yes. There was nothing tenuous about that reference.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

When Will I Am is the voice of reason

Oh, lord, I hate the idea of nodding in agreement and saying Will I Am has a point, but...:

Black Eyed Peas frontman has criticised plans to release a new Michael Jackson album in November this year.

The star said that previously unheard material should not be made public as it did not have Jackson's blessing.

"How you gonna release Michael Jackson when Michael Jackson ain't here to bless it?" he told the Associated Press news agency.
Unfortunately, Michael Jackson's estate were too busy hosing liquid gold over their genitals to come up with a reply, although Jackson's former manager Frank DeLio was heard to mutter something about dropping the release if some sort of zombie Jackson actually asked him to.

Johnny Dee calls for chart separatism

Johnny Dee is alarmed by the plan to release every X Factor performance as a digital download this year, and has a radical plan - banning covers from the singles chart.

Actually, I'm not sure it's such a major worry. Part of the reason why the X Factor Christmas single does so strongly is because people have spent weeks watching a series, and this is the pay-off: you've spent hours watching things come to this point, you might as well pay a couple of quid for a souvenir.

If every track is available to buy, not only will a lot of that build-up to the moment of purchase be lost, but also those people who buy a disappointing version of Hallelujah because they aren't able to buy the better song the singer did a couple of weeks back will no longer have to do so; they get the song they want.

Sure, the winner's single will be still be an unstoppable vehicle, but more of a runaway milkfloat than a cascading juggernaut.

Still, Johnny is worried that we'll see a chart cluttered up for weeks with dental nurses and comedy twins doing cover versions.

You or I might see this a problem a bit like someone dropping a crisp packet in the Gulf Of Mexico - it's a terrible thing to do, but not even making a bad situation worse in any noticeable way.

So his idea? Ban cover versions:

In the 80s when compilations such as 'Now That’s What I Call Music' took over the album charts the solution was to consign them to their own separate chart - a chart that receives absolutely zero attention and never will despite the fact that compilation albums still sell 10 times more than single artist albums.
But this was a cynical record label move, purely designed to disguise the fact that nobody really much liked albums anyway, and only ever wanted the singles. It was a war against pop, not in its favour and - of course - has really rendered every chart since then more meaningless than the albums charts would be intrinsically.
With one brave step The Official Chart Company could do more for genuinely talented artists than thousands of talent shows. They could create a single chart for original music and a separate singles chart for cover version music.

In an instant Cowell’s empire would crumble and along with it, as collateral damage, the supermarket bilge of Westlife and their ilk. The campaign for decent pop starts here.
The problem here, though, is that while it would have stopped Atomic Kitten's The Tide Is High getting to number one, it would have also stopped Blondie's version doing the same.

A chart rule which would have turned Robert Wyatt's Shipbuilding away at the door because it wasn't proper, or would have told Sinead O'Connor to try harder than merely doing a cover of Nothing Compares 2U, is clearly a bad rule.

And if the rule was put in place, how could Liquid Greek celebrate getting to number 10, knowing that they only did so because the songs that people were actually buying weren't being counted? It's like winning a race at a championship were the elite athletes arrived late due to taffic jams.

Worse, because the covers will be all over the radio, people will look at the charts, not see the songs they feel to be the current hits, and wonder what the point of a chart is at all. "What is the Liquid Greek and where are Jedward and Joe?" Nobody much cared about Now vanishing from the album charts, because nobody really even knew there was an album chart back then, apart from readers of Record Mirror and the bloke who pinned the list up in Woolworths. Cutting the songs people - for whatever reason - value out of the chart makes the chart irrelevant to those people. Not the best way to shore up the chart.

If the charts are to have any meaning, they have to a dumb, basic, report on what people are buying. Not making value judgements or raising spurious quality thresholds.

If the charts are full of old clod, it's because people's ears are full of old clod. Pretending it isn't there won't make things better.

Something about the food being Boyle-d

Given the revelations at the weekend that Susan Boyle isn't seeing very much of the money she's made for Cowell et al, perhaps the surprise is that she's only taking a job as a dinnerlady for Glee, and not as an extra job to try and stretch her money to cover her bills.

I wonder what sort of money you make doing a cameo in Glee. I guess I'll never know. Nor will Susan, come to that.

Gordon in the morning: Leaky

This morning, Gordon is claiming that the line-up of The Sun's army charity gig has been "leaked" to his column.

It's your paper's charity, Gordon. It's not a leak if someone walks across the office and tells you something.

And if it was a leak, what kind of noodle-doodle man would run a leak from his own company?

In other news:

KASABIAN have landed a new footie deal which will make them Britain's biggest musical export.

It will soon be impossible to avoid them anywhere in the world after Barclays Premier League paid a fortune to use their massive track Fire in the title sequences whenever matches are shown abroad.

For the next three years broadcasters in around 200 countries will legally have to use the song when they show live games.
Good God, can you imagine being legally compelled to play a Kasabian song? It's like something out of a tone-deaf dictatorship.

It's unclear if broadcasters will be able to improve the song, perhaps by getting Philip Schofield to fade the sound down and sing the lyrics over the top, but here's hoping.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Placebo launch mildly different album with London gig

Having only done an ordinary version, a Limited Edition, and a Deluxe Edition, Placebo are convinced there's still a market for slightly rejigged versions of Battle For The Sun. So prepare yourself for the Redux Version.

No, I'm not sure either. "New and re-worked tracks" it says here.

Anyway, in a bid to pick the interest in the record, there's going to be a one-off headline gig at the Brixton Academy on September 27th. Tickets on sale to "fans" from Wednesday; if few enough fans snap them up, non-fans will be able to buy them from Friday. Although why a non-fan would want to go, I'm not clear. Perhaps it would be to boo?

Embed and breakfast man: Leæther Strip

Here's something a bit special - Claus Larsen has shared a new track he's working on for Leæther Strip's support with Skinny Puppy in August:

Gordon in the morning: Coming out in public

After having undergone a public coming out in The Sun on Saturday, can Joe McElderry now have his privacy back?

No, it turns out: Today, Gordon's splashing a long interview with Sean Ryan.

Who he?

THE boy who was the first to share a gay kiss with X Factor winner JOE McELDERRY
There's something that smells really bad about this whole endeavor. The article is bylined to two of Gordon's team:
Two journalists - let's use the term loosely - to write up a story which is little more than "I had a single sort-of date and a couple of quick snogs with a bloke who people can't quite remember if he was from Britain's Got Talent or the other one." Who they've just turned up for the very next paper after the Joe outing edition? And with the piece run as a lead story?

The idea that Joe coming out was front page news was stretching things a bit - the background story must be more interesting than what has gone into the paper.

In other not-actually-news, Beci Wood appears to have just copied a press release onto her PC:
THE WANTED proved boybands are back in business as they stormed to No.1 yesterday with their debut single All Time Low.
Were boybands ever out of business? I'm sure my life would have felt much better if they had been.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Throwing Muses weekend: Shimmer

From Jon Stewart's short-lived MTV chat show:

[Part of Throwing Muses weekend]

Everything she does is supported by a motion from the NEC

Thanks to Simon T for pointing out that this week's episode of Alan Johnson's Failed Rock Star series on BBC Radio 4 is this:

Ex Home Secretary Alan Johnson goes in search of the life he thought he nearly had: as a rock star. In the 1960s Alan Johnson was in a band ("The Area") that cut a single but couldn't get it released. He gave music up for a career that took him from Postman to Union Leader to The Cabinet. So what has he missed out on? Does the fame of being a senior government minister compare in any way with that of being in a successful band.

In this series he meets five people who tasted the fame he craved. Each of the warm and engaging interviews reveal something different about life in music and the truth behind the myths.

In Episode three Alan meets Amelia Fletcher - singer with a number of successful indie bands in the eighties and nineties. She's still in a band today, whilst simultaneously holding down a serious office job - as chief economist with the Office of Fair Trading. Amelia and Alan talk about the joys and perils of combining the rock life with a demanding job. Did Alan make a mistake by thinking the two don't mix?
Amelia Fletcher on Radio 4. With or without a former Home Secretary, that's got to be a treat, surely?

Liam Gallagher does something

The heading of the PR email isn't encouraging:

Yes, they're using "London's Carnaby Street" with a straight face.

Believe it or not, though, the body of the email is even more marrow-hardening:
Last night, he celebrated the opening with celebrity friends who were out in force to show their support: Nicole and Natalie Appleton, Beady Eye band members Andy Bell, Gem Archer and Chris Sharrock, Stereophonic’s Kelly Jones, Phil Daniels, Zak Starkey, Audiobullies, Black Twang, Gary Crowley and actor Tom Ellis.
And just when you think it can get no more horrible:
The 2000sq ft store is housed over two storey’s with the basement area featuring a panoramic image of Liam on Brighton Beach and a Lambretta Li 150 series 3 replica scooter.
It's such a clunking attempt to go as far down the route of obviousness without actually stuffing Paul Weller and pinning him to an RAF roundel, you don't even notice the punctuation.

Carnaby Street traders are appealing for a government bail-out to help support their businesses while the toxic mess is present.

Deadmau5 not dead, but not well either

Anyone who has ever worn a big costume will tell you they're bloody hot inside. Bad enough if you're just outdoors trying to tempt kids into a Wimpy Bar, but really not a good idea if you're going to be bouncing round a small nightclub stage in the height of a fetid Washington DC summer.

Nobody warned Deadmau5 before he went onstage last night at the 9:30 Club. Wearing the enormous mouse head.

Some collapsing and vomiting later, he was whisked off to hospital. The next nine dates have been axed on medical advice.

Perhaps, Mr. D, you might want to think about going with facepainting next time?

Throwing Muses weekend: Downtown

Balancing out yesterday's crib from Big World Cafe, here's the Muses on Gods Own Programme, Snub TV:

[Part of Throwing Muses weekend]

Who's making money out of Susan Boyle?

You'd expect the News Of The World's big splash that Susan Boyle is living on £300 a week would contain within it a buried denial from Simon Cowell's management team.

It doesn't, though:

The Boyle management sources last night confirmed Susan's allowance is just £300 a week but said she could have more at any time if she wanted.
The News Of The World does at least offer some perspective:
GLOBAL star Susan's weekly allowance is LESS than NHS hospital staff earn.
When you put it like that, it doesn't sound so bad. We should probably be more worried about the low earnings of NHS staff than Susan Boyle - were it not for the massive gap between what Boyle has earned for everyone else, and what she's been given.

But do remember: the music industry does everything it does for the sake of the artists.

Throwing Muses weekend: Hate My Way

Come with us now to the Town & Country club, May 1988...

[Part of Throwing Muses weekend]

This week just gone

The most-read July 2010 pieces were:

1. Pigeons poop on the Kings Of Leon
2. RIP: Daniel Cho
3. Island rubbishes new Tom Jones album
4. Torry leaves The Donnas
5. Tim Montgomerie calls for 6Music to be closed so that the BBC will "feel pain"
6. Prince declares the internet officially over
7. Contra model sues Vampire Weekend
8. Kings Of Leon upset by negative press
9. Alice Glass lamps audience groper
10. Ryan Adams jibs at John Mayer without breaking 140 character sweat

These were the interesting new releases:

The Magic Numbers - The Runaway

Download The Runaway

Win - Freakytrigger

La Roux/Various Artists - Sidetracked

Download Freur - Doot Doot

Various Artists - Book A Trip: Psych Pop From Capitol Records

Fields - Fields