Widespread Panic are celebrating 25 years in showbusiness, and so their home state of Georgia invited them in to play a couple of songs to a session of Senate.
If ever there was a time to filibuster, surely that was it?
It might look like the senators were just amusing themselves when they should have been working, but this wasn't a jolly. Oh, no. It was rewarding Widespread Panic for their "public service". Although, strictly speaking, what they do is more a profit-maximising business, isn't it?
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Widespread Panic are celebrating 25 years in showbusiness, and so their home state of Georgia invited them in to play a couple of songs to a session of Senate.
Britain's Borders went months and months ago; earlier this week the Australian flavour closed down altogether, and in the US the company sought protective bankruptcy and announced the closure of a number of stores.
To be fair, when we read through the list of closures in Colorado, we were going "What? they had a store there? Why?" so there is an element of genuine consolidation possible here. Borders seem to have had a policy of opening branches in new malls but leaving branches operating in nearby, declining malls, which does leave a bit of room to take out some stores without the network collapsing. (The American mall market is different to the UK one, where HMV is hoping that people will travel five or six miles extra to the next High Steet store.) The 200 closures and Chapter 11 could bring $2billion back into play that otherwise would be spent on rent.
But what does the protective bankruptcy mean for the music industry? Billboard have some interesting figures which shows the size of the bath the majors might take:
The site also lists Borders' 30 largest creditors, beginning with Penguin Putnam, which is owed $41 million. The first music vendor to appear on the list is Sony Music at no. 14, which is owed $4.3 million. It is followed by Universal Music Group at no. 17 ($3.75 million), WEA at no 18 ($3.4 million) and EMI Music at no. 26 ($1.7 million).Unpleasant sums, but not the sort of hit that would even take out EMI right now.
And even if the stores vanish, it's not going to be more than a final drying of a sales source that has been in decline for years:
The company, which only carries music in 500 of its stores, was once a significant force in music, but its SKU count has steadily declined as U.S. music sales dropped during the past decade. In 2000, when music sales was at its U.S. peak, the typical Borders store was carrying 50,000 titles, but that dropped to 29,000 by 2003, 14,000 in 2006, and 9,500 by 2009The real worry for the music industry seems to be not so much what they'd lose directly if Borders close, but what the knock-on effect might be:
If Borders pulls out of music or the chain goes away, the question of whether Barnes & Noble will continue to stay in music looms large as a future worry, according to executives.This seems to be a tacit admission that both chains are only using CDs as a loss leader, doesn't it?
I suppose, since Streep is doing Thatcher, it left the casting for the pointless Susan Boyle biopic (plot: an hour and a half of pottering round the shops buying cat food, followed by two minutes of Americans watching YouTube and going 'wow', and ten minutes of declining interest) wide open.
It's such a pointless idea and such a rotten piece of casting even Gordon scratches his head to try and come up with an explanation:
SuBo and Glenn have got something in common too, they are huge animal lovers.That's practically method acting right there.
It turns out Cowell had started to work on a film about Paul Potts but dropped the idea when... yes, when he saw that look on your face, going "Paul Potts? Paul Potts? What's that?"
Friday, February 18, 2011
Anti-choice munchkin Justin Bieber drifted into talking about abortion in his Rolling Stone interview, coming down so far to the right on the debate he might have made Sarah Palin feel a bit queasy:
When asked where he stands on abortion he told Vanessa Grigoriadis, "It's like killing a baby." He was then asked if he believed in abortion for rape victims, and replied, "I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I guess I haven't been in that position, so I wouldn't be able to judge that."Is anyone else having a queasy moment imagining - sometime in 2040 - Canadian Premier Bieber laughing at his days as a pop star?
The idea that rape happens for a reason and that, you know, if you haven't been raped there's no way you can actually feel disgusted at the idea that some people would force a woman to carry a baby conceived during an assault hasn't been going down too well.
Happily, Rolling Stone have rushed forward to clarify that Bieber had been slightly misquoted:
A rep for the publication says, "Due to an editing error, this story originally included an incomplete quote from Justin Bieber.Is it just me, or does the full quote still show him suggesting that being raped is all part of some grand plan, and unable to even allow the possibility that a woman might want access to abortion under those circumstances. Unless Rolling Stone also edited out the words "and would make me think again. Moving to a completely different subject, I was hearing that some spiders eat their partners. That sounds kind of gross" between "sad" and "but", I don't think it changes the tone or sense of what he said at all.
"The full quote, his response to whether abortions should be allowed in cases of rape, reads, 'Um. Well, I think that's really sad, but everything happens for a reason. I don't know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven't been in that position, so I wouldn't be able to judge that.'"
Earlier this week, some news places were reporting that Michael Jackson was afraid he'd end up working in McDonalds if his London comeback shows didn't work. We have this, by the way, on the highest of authorities:
"He was scared to death because AEG was funding everything. He said he would have to work at McDonalds if he didn't do these shows," Michael’s hairstylist Karen Faye reportedly told LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) detectives just days after the pop icon passed away.That seems quite a lot for a barber to know about - if she was claiming he'd intended to go somewhere nice for his holidays, or had been planning to have sex on Saturday or Sunday and had taken something for the weekend, maybe this would be credible.
Can you imagine Jackson working in McDonalds? As if having Ronald McDonald in there isn't alarming enough for the kids. To say nothing of how the last place a man whose face kept dropping off should be working is in the catering industry - although, to be fair, his face contained about as much flesh as Taco Bell beef.
Still, it turned out that Jackson shouldn't have worried. All he had to do, it turns out, was drop down dead. He's been doing nicely since then:
The pop superstar passed away with massive debts amounting to a mammoth $400 million (£266 million), boosted by a huge number of creditors demanding alleged unpaid monies after his demise.To be fair, though, the paying back of debt is as much about not having to fund a man who would buy a pottery leopard with jade eyes at the drop of a hat.
But papers filed in a Los Angeles court on Thursday (17Feb11) show the Thriller star's estate is heading back in to the black thanks to a huge surge in posthumous record, film and merchandising sales.
The estate administrators have now paid off $159 million (£106 million) of the pop star's debts.
If only the deficit was as easy to fix, eh, George?
Turns out Celebrity Rehab doesn't actually work - whoever would have guessed? - as former inmate Mike Starr has apparently fallen off the wagon and been nabbed with drugs. In Salt Lake City.
That's shocking. What's somebody who was once in Alice In Chains doing in Salt Lake City?
So it sounds like Being In The Stereophonics isn't lucrative enough any more:
KELLY JONES is working on a second career away from the STEREOPHONICS.I'm not sure Being In The Stereophonics quiyte constitutes a career, to be honest, but do tell us more. With Jones' talent and charm, I'm guessing the Asda fish bar has come calling, right?
The singer has lined up meetings with TV execs to discuss ideas for shows that he would then produce.I think from this we're meant to assume that Jones' second career is as a television producer, but it actually sounds like he might just have taken on a part-time role annoying television executives.
In case you're wondering, Jones seems to have no track record of producing television programmes at all but - hey - how hard can it be, eh?
So, what Monkey Tennis style ideas does Jones have?
One programme he's pitching involves a music show with performances filmed around the UK, including the frontman's native Wales.Is this an idea he's had, or just something he's seen on TV? Is he also going to pitch a programme about people in Manchester having a tram dropped on their heads?
Even Gordon spots this is a bit hackneyed, but does his best to try and pluff up the idea:
Although there have been a few similar shows in the past, Kelly could count on his musician mates to put in an appearance.Yeah. Kelly Jones' musical mates. That doesn't actually make the idea any more attractive. It's a bit like trying to spiff up a bowl of cold sick by sprinkling prunes in it.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Oooh! Dum Dum Girls cover The Smiths:
To be honest, I'd have thought the lack of descended testicles would have been the main stumbling block before Justin Bieber would have sex, but he's busily listing other rules:
"I don't think you should have sex with anyone unless you love them," Bieber said. When asked about premarital sex, however, he was a little vaguer. "I think you should just wait for the person you're ... in love with.""Although having said that" he said, "if you want to get yourself started before she turns up - maybe while she's still brushing her teeth or whatever, that might be alright."
Of course, you're now wondering what Bieber might be holding it all in for:
"I like a girl with a nice smile and who's funny."Jesus. If that's your search, Justin, Match.com will return the details of Every Woman On Their Books.
Can you be a bit more specific:
"As far as looks, my taste is dark hair."At this, you can hear the flapping sound as his management tried to keep Biebettes of the wrong hair type on side.
"...But I don't limit myself. I like girls with blond hair too. I like everything."Good news for old men with green hair, there, then.
So, you like everything, Justin. Does that include drugs?
"Are you curious about cutting off your finger? Do you want to know what that feels like?" Bieber reasoned. "To me, taking drugs is the same type of thing. In the end, all that happens is you get hurt by it."Bloody hell, you'd have to be waving your hot spoon round in an erratic fashion if it took your finger off, surely?
More from No Rock on interviews
Courtney Love's much-tweeted threat of legal action against Activision seems to have fallen by the wayside, but Band Hero has still had a run-out in court.
No Doubt sued because they say that although they signed up to be in the game, nobody gave Activision the right to make Gwen sing in a bloke's voice, or the band dance "unnaturally".
Activision counter-sued that this was a breach of free speech (because the Founding Fathers really foresaw this question when they framed the constitution), calling for the lawsuit to be thrown out.
As usual in these sorts of disputes, the question becomes whether the speech -- in this case, the game -- amounted to a "transformative use" of the celebrity's image, in which case it falls under First Amendment protection. The California Appeals Court says that Activision's use of No Doubt isn't sufficiently transformative, finding that the images in the game were nothing "more than literal, fungible reproductions of their likenesses."The case is now going to move to trial - but before No Doubt can level up, Activision have a right of appeal.
It doesn't feel like there's an Erin Brockovich style movie waiting to be made here, does it?
You might not have heard of Free Swim, which makes them - therefore - as great as The Arcade Fire. Or something. This is a free ep about a panda that wants to climb mountains:
A concept ep. About a panda. You know you want to.
[Warning: Contains .wavs]
Lovely piece over on Sweeping The Nation about the "I do not know this band so how can they have won a prize" reaction to the prize givings this week:
I've never heard of this. Ergo, it cannot be worthwhile. Therefore, everyone else is wrong and I have the only sane voice. HOW AM I EVER SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BAND (THAT WAS DEEMED WORTHY OF EVEN BEING NOMINATED FOR THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS PRIZES IN BRITISH MUSIC). The idea that 'I don't know them, it must be shit' is dispiriting and simultaneously fascinating as as examination of self-belief driven insularity and the desire to never learn anything for yourself when it can be spoonfed by language instead.
MediaGuardian is just flashing the latest magazine circulation figures; amongst the headlines is a further chunky drop in the NME figures of 16.4%. Not clear yet if this year-on-year or quarter-on-quarter.
UPDATE: That's year-on-year.
Press Gazette says Q is down to 69,535 and now being outsold by Ben10.
Organisers of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod want to attract a "younger audience".
So they've, erm, sent for Lulu.
Jesus, how old was the age group turning up if Lulu's audience is going to bring it down?
It's not just Lulu, though - they've gone for McFly:
Mr Cousins said: "Llangollen attracts a healthy and varied audience every year.I would have thought the one thing you could have said with certainty about the Eisteddfod would have been it was one place where you were safe from aging boy bands. I think they've just dumped their unique selling point.
"With McFly joining our fantastic line up this year we expect a surge in our numbers of young audience members, taking our festival to new heights.
"This is a very exciting time for us."
He said organisers felt McFly were "just perfect" for the "coveted slot" to close the festival on Sunday, 10 July.
While Gaydar is throwing its hopes and dreams onto DAB, others are struggling: AsianFX is closing. They can't make DAB pay:
A spokesperson for Asian Fx told BizAsia.co.uk; "It is difficult to sustain a service on DAB in the current financial climate considering we launched Asian Fx just as the recession started, thank you everyone who supported the station and who knows when things get better Asian Fx name may return in broadcasting perhaps in a visual format."I think "broadcasting perhaps in a visual format" means on TV in some form.
According to Websense, the 6Music and 1Xtra websites have somehow become injected with malicious code:
The injected iframe occurs at the foot of the BBC 6 Music Web page, and loads code from a Web site in the .co.cc TLD. The iFrame injected into the Radio 1Xtra Web page leads to the same malicious site.I think the takeaway message from this is: it could happen to anyone. Do take care online.
If an unprotected user browsed to the site they would be faced with drive-by downloads, meaning that simply browsing to the page is enough to get infected with a malicious executable.
The payload is delivered to the end user only once, with the initial visit being logged by the malware authors.
The code that is delivered to end users utilizes exploits delivered by the Phoenix exploit kit. A malicious binary is ultimately delivered to the end user. The VirusTotal detection of this file is currently around 20%.
For a while, conventional wisdom has held that a radio station looking for digital distribution is better off going with satellite TV rather than the unloved DAB. Gaydar Radio is laughing in the face of that wisdom, though, and dropping Sky but keeping DAB:
Robin Crowley, Gaydar Head of Radio, comments: “With a drop in the numbers of listeners through the Sky platform and the convergence of TV and online we want to capitalise on the platforms our audience are telling us they prefer to use. There are a lot of exciting new developments on the horizon for the entire Gaydar brand so we can ensure the radio station and the website continue to be as relevant and accessible for our audience as possible.”It's a pity there isn't a bit more detail - have Sky audiences tanked, or is it just that other platforms are growing more quickly and offering better listener-per-pound distribution value? And is this just something happening to Gaydar, or are all radio stations finding their share of big blue screen listeners are vanishing?
Gordon has all the hot news from the day before yesterday, as he tries to read the notes he scribbled at the Brits. Plan B is moaning thta Take That effectively came up with same dance routine as he did:
He only discovered the clash on the morning of the show when it was too late to change.Still, at least Plan B could take comfort in not having Robbie Williams in his version.
He said: "I couldn't believe it when I came in and saw their police. I just saw their shields and said, 'What the f*** is this?' "
Tinie Tempah tells Gordon that he can't stop thinking about Cheryl Cole:
He said: "I met her at the awards for the first time and jeez man, she's even more beautiful in the flesh. And so sweet."Gordon's advice?
He should get stuck in.Ah, the old-fashioned charm of the professional journalist.
And now, a small apology: during my Brits liveblog on Tuesday night, I predicted that Gordon would be popping up on Wednesday morning to say how brilliant James Corden was as host. Actually, he didn't do that until this morning. I regret the error.
As for James's job in the hosting role, he wanted it to be all about the music, and the mission was accomplished.Yes, he certainly had the O2 full of booming, echoing silence.
His gags were spot-on too.
It turns out that Corden had spoken to Paul McKenna before the show:
After a one-to-one with McKenna on Tuesday afternoon, James was so confident he could have presented the whole show in the buff.[...]Given that for the first half hour you looked like a goose caught at a fox barbecue, you might want to talk to McKenna about a refund.
"I've seen Paul before and he and I met for an hour. Afterwards I felt this zen-like calm and confidence."
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Poor Gennaro has had to take to posting his own press releases rather than appearing in papers, times are so hard at HMV.
He's rushed forward to issue some sales figures reacting to the Brits. Here's the methodology used:
The music and entertainment retailer has measured the increased sales since last night on album purchases across its 260 stores nationwide, online via orders through hmv.com and as downloads via its hmvdigital site - and compared these to sales a week ago last Wednesday 9th February. In this way HMV is able to measure the benefit not just from last night's televised ceremony but also from the promotion and coverage that has built during the past week, which also includes exposure via Sunday night's Grammys.So, are we getting figures showing the increase in sales "since last night", or since last Wednesday? It turns out its the latter, although there seems something strained in arbitrarily deciding the build-up started last Thursday.
Based on increased demand over the past seven days HMV has seen sales of Mumford and Sons' debut album Sigh No More leap by a massive 594%. Not far behind in second spot are double international winners The Arcade Fire, whose acclaimed album The Suburbs is enjoying a 575% rise in demand. Making up the top 3 is double BRITs winner Tinie Tempah, whose Disc-Overy album is up by 380%, and is no doubt heading back up the official charts to a top 5 placing come this Sunday.So we're just getting percentages. Which are pretty meaningless in this context - if Mumford and Sons had sold 1,000 copies last week, a 594% sales increase is pretty good. If they sold 2, it's less so. (And, clearly, since there's no suggestion that they're going to be near the top of the charts, we're in the "less so" territory here.)
Having said which...
Laura Marling sees a huge 322% rise in fourth spot, though, admittedly I Speak Because I Can starts from a relatively low sales baseSo where did Mumford and Sons start from? Not low enough to comment on?
HMV's Gennaro Castaldo comments: "With their distinctive sound, Mumford and Sons may already be firm favourites with students and with much of Middle England, but this success will now help cement their appeal with an even broader audience. Their album just keeps on selling as the band pick up more and more new fans, and with a substantial post-BRITs bounce still to come, it will now go through the landmark of a million sales, which is remarkable when you think that relatively few people had heard of them this time last year."I think that translates as "you'd have been hard pressed to have found their records for sale in a branch of HMV this time last year."
The appearance of the phrase "Middle England" completes, I think, the process of draining any interest Mumford And Sons might have had from them.
Gennaro Castaldo adds: "Each year featured BRITs artists always enjoy a huge lift in sales of their recordings - both in the run up the ceremony itself and then immediately after, when media exposure is at its greatest."In other words: the Brits have a sales effect when they happen. Who'd have thought?
"The biggest gainers tend to be those that give show-stealing performances on the night or who grab the headlines by winning multiple awards"This is the work of a professional. You or I might have thought that the big sales wins would go to acts who get nominated in one category and lose, or who can just be dimly sighted at the back of the hall watching the proceedings. But, no, Gennaro reveals it's the people who go on the stage who get the glory.
such artists can easily experience a doubling or even a trebling of sales overnight, especially in these days of instant downloads - and we're already seeing notable increases in sales for al [sic] the featured artists, while a further boost generally follows at the weekend when everyone hits the high street.Yes, Gennaro. On Saturday. When everyone goes to the high street to buy records. In 1982.
"This year there are quite a few new artists who have been recognised, such as Tinie Tempah, Ellie Goulding and Mumford and Sons...Ellie Goulding won in 2010.
... and whilst they've sold quite a few albums already, there are plenty of music fans out there that haven't yet got hold of their CD or downloaded tracks, so we're expecting a huge spike in the albums market this weekHe's directing these words to the insurance company who underwrites their supplier's stock.
...coming as it does off the back of Valentine's.Oh, yes. I always buy a couple of extra records to celebrate the end of the week that has Valentine's Day in it. Doesn't everyone?
It will also help that the organisers have placed the 'Best Album' category as the heart of the BRITs this year.Gennaro desperately hopes that it will make a difference, but the overplaying of the album category reeked of an industry desperately trying to keep its stud mare alive for one more season.
Paging Razorlight: Radiohead have raised the hat based promo shot bar. http://bit.ly/hQMstB
Although Gordon finds space to transcribe Rihanna saying 'wow' at last night's Brits, and offers no fewer than four pieces about the prize-givings, there's not a word about Corden's hosting.
One picture with a caption is the only acknowledgement that he even turned up.
Curious. Perhaps Gordon painted himself into a corner by insisting that James C would be beyond criticism on account of the charitable donation?
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Somewhere in Greenwich, James Corden is running through his lines.
"I wonder if giving my fee to charity will stop people criticising me?" he might wonder.
Perhaps, if you hadn't revealed at the same time how big that fee was. Going "I'm giving my fee to charity" might have swung it, but saying "I'm giving my fifty grand fee to charity" just makes you look flash.
And why are you giving it to Comic Relief? Isn't the Brits meant to be a fundraiser in its own right? Haven't you taken one charity's money and given it straight to another charity?
Of course, there's nothing new in The Unfunny One From A Sitcom hosting the Brits - who can forget the years Denzel from Only Fools did it? Or Mother from Fresh Fields? Or the entire cast of In Loving Memory.
They've just advertised Otis Ear Drops in the run-up. Probably the last thing you'd actually want on a night like this.
"With some flashing images". Consider yourself warned.
They've dragooned some pop stars into promoting Mastercard for the breakbumpers.
First impression: The O2 is way, way too huge for this. The stage looks like a flea circus in a shopping centre.
Take That have marched on behind squads of riot police. Are they duetting with Mubarak?
Monkeys learn to build machines, warns Take That. It's a less sinister warning than "hosted by James Corden".
Street dancing riot policemen. It's Britain's Got Talent And Problems.
Can't help noticing the Take That logo on the riot shields - is this a manifestation of the Big Society? Pop stars sponsoring the cops? Gary Barlow is always willing to help Dave Cameron out, so it's not impossible.
The riot police are taking their uniforms off. They're dressed like civilians. You know, like the Egyptian Police did. Um... maybe that's not what they were hoping to go for.
"Members of the pop star community" are asked to welcome Corden. Really? The community?
At least Corden is wearing clothes. At least at the moment.
He seems quite nervous.
"The new stop climate change Brit Award"? Is it really called that?
Dizzee Rascal - who was Tinie Tempah last year - comes on to do Male Solo Artist. It's clear why they're trying to get this out the way quickly, as most of the nominees will have to be back home before matron locks the doors.
The winner is... Plan B
Elton John has described Plan B as "the male Amy Winehouse". I'm not sure that's a compliment, is it?
Plan B thanks his mum from his heart. That's quite sweet. The massive list of thanks after that, not so much.
"Stay tuned" say ITV. How about you don't go for a bloody break after five minutes if you want us to keep watching?
"My mum has been there for the whole time." Why yes, mothers are usually there from the beginning of your, y'know, life.
Oh that's taken the wind out of my sails, I like Plan B #thebrits
Eliza Doolittle has just given away her priceless trainers to a fan. Or possibly a shoe fetishist.
Corden's back. Oh, shit, he's really not doing any jokes, is he? Obviously that's wise, but surely if all you want is someone to mutter some platitudes, there are people who could do it professionally?
Adele's trying to do a nice, touching, personal song. Unfortunately, she's stood on a massive stage in an aircraft hanger. It's the sort of intimate moment you have when someone streams pictures of you in the shower via Qik.
Is this going to be The Authenticity Brits #britawards
Bless, James Corden is pretending that he actually has an emotional connection with music. #brits
Adele's getting some glitter dropped on her. In that big space, it just looks like a fleck of dandruff off a shoulder.
Corden's almost in tears. In tears. "All you need is a piano. Incredible."
He then plugs the downloads on iTunes for those of you not ripping the soundtrack directly.
First album nomination feature: Mumford And Sons. They're brilliant, says Corden.
Eww... they're floating quotes from critics over the top of the package. And giving the Mumfords a chance to have a little chatty about the records. "People can relate to our songs because they're real." Unlike Plan B, whose songs are all figments of your imagination, that would be.
James Corden's first joke of the evening: "That Mumford doesn't look old enough to be their Dads, does he?" Perhaps he should stick with the not doing jokes.
Justin Beiber is sat in front of a massive bucket of wine. Corden tells him he smells good and asks how old he is. Does he know this is going out on TV?
Fearne Cotton is introduced (with Corden's first 'I'm fat' joke of the evening) as 'the woman who's broken more bands than I've had hot dinners'. Presumably actually broken them - as in a "fantastic" from Fearne is enough to make you give up?
Breakthrough goes to Tine Tempah. His most famous fans, we're told, include "Princes William and Harry". Says. it. all.
Tinie's wearing a white suit and a spotted bow tie. Like he's going to a prom without a girlfriend.
"If I wore a suit like that I'd look like a weird umpire" says Corden, which might have been an attempt to explain why Boris Becker is coming on to do the next award.
Boris Becker? Have we run out of presenters already?
Das Weisse Comet gives the prize to The Arcade Fire. Who the hell are they? I've never heard of them.
That's International Band, by the way.
"We're Arcade Fire. Check it out on Google." That's the first funny joke of the evening. They go on to thank every British band who operated in the 1980s. None since. That might worry the Brits panel, if they think about.
Corden's just done his second fat joke. And I think the first two wank jokes of the evening.
Rihanna seems to be stuck behind one of those curtains you used to get in bookies doorways.
So many talented comedians in the UK and they choose that muppet. For fucking shame. #brits
What the hell is Rihanna wearing? From the chest up it looks like something Rita Fairclough would have worn in her club days; from there downwards it looks... oh, she's ripped it off and is now in her pants. Never mind.
Her dancers are crawling along the floor hammering in despair. Perhaps they realised that Corden had started doing gags again.
Oh, Rihanna's doing one of those things where the artist just sticks bits of the songs together; like Stars On 45. Only this time with fire and a bunch of idiots with drums.
"After the break, the amazing Mumford & Sons perform." The amazing ones; the slightly dull ones haven't been invited. It's never a good sign when people are desperately telling you you're watching something fantastic.
This new version of JR Hartley with a musician instead of a fly-fishing expert surely only works if you remember the original, which went out - what - twenty years ago? Surely those who recall it will tune out of the young bloke in a record shop scenario, while those who don't won't quite get the point. It is very old.
Someone else has given the fans their shoes. Of course, post-Egypt showing people your shoes is something of an insult in modern parlance, isn't it?
Mark Ronson is going to give the Critics Choice In Assocation With War Child - why is a charity sponsoring an award?
This one had already been announced, of course: it's Jessie J. Lady GaGa on a European Space Agency budget. "I didn't plan anything to say" she says, which since she's had a month to plan seems like it lacks a little foresight.
Her thank you is really, really dull.
A package for Tinie Tempah's "fantastic" album. Sorry, "sensational" debut album. "I didn't know why I called it Discovery when I started" says Tinie. You named the album before you started making it?
I think if you go to the Brit School then they just let you have one [Critics Choice prize] along with your A-Levels results.
Mumford And Sons come on. Notice Bob Dylan's not turned up to return the favour.
At least they're dressed correctly for playing in a barn.
People are whooping in the audience, which sounds inappropriate, but they're so far from the stage they've probably only just got the sound of Rihanna reaching them.
Another act doing a beautiful, fragile song. Did nobody think to pop down to see the size of the venue they were having to fill tonight?
Corden says "that's a brave performance", as if they'd come on and gone Brokeback Mountain.
He then makes a big fuss about - hee hee - this is a music show, and it's about music, but the next presenter is Lewis Hamilton. Which might have been amusing, in a self-defeating way, if he'd done it before Boris Becker came on, but by now there's been almost as many sportspeople on the stage as musicians.
Cee Lo has won International Male.
Cee Lo congratulates the audience on having great taste in music, and says Britain is great for music. He cites Boy George as an example, which again suggests most North Americans think we stopped making music sometime around the start of the Major government.
Tinie Tempah is doing a break bumper - "these shades are a big part of who I am", he says, unconvincingly.
I've learned something this eveninhg. Admittedly, it's that Jimbob's favourite member of Take That is Mark Owen (thanks, Jack in the comments). Not clear if this is still true now Mark Owen has proven himself to be no better than Leanne Battersby, mind.
Best mobile device goes to Apple iPhone 4. #MWC
(I think Rory Cellan-Jones is at a better awards ceremony.)
All the award winners so far are going to show up later to do live performances. What a coincidence.
Alan Carr - who used to be part of an unsatisfactory double-act himself - has come on to do a prize giving. He's made a joke about pedometers.
Best single, partly voted for by listeners to Capital FM, which used to be your local radio station.
Just the snatches of Scouting For Girls and Olly Murs is enough to make you despair. No wonder Americans pretend Boy George is the newest star we've come up with.
Tinie Tempah wins. The voice overs keep suggesting that hits on YouTube are the measure of success, which might be true but hardly suggests that even the Brits takes selling records seriously any more.
Nearly half way. Tinie insists he wants Labyrinth before he'll do a speech. Big fan of Bowie dressed as a goblin king.
Simon Le Bon and John Taylor - who used to come to the Brits with a wheelbarrow to take awards home in - are on for Best International Group. John Taylor is starting to look like a vampire running for Republican presidential nomination.
Arcade Fire win. Their second prize of the night. Oh, please don't become the Kings Of Leon.
"I want to thank Haiti". I don't think you quite meant that, Ron Weaseley.
Simon le Bon looks like a sex-case wombat. In a good way.
Plan B is using back projections for his performance. Because it's all about playing a character, see, so it's like cinema and levels of artifice, see?
This is a good point to feed the cats.
Oh, more riot police. Perhaps Plan B should have compared notes with Take That?
The cats had turkey in a thick gravy, by the way. Oh, and here's James Corden back on.
While the Brits are on, there's an art show being disrupted by activists. How would we spot if something similar happened here? We might think that it was the third staged riot of the evening.
The XX get their shortlist moment. I'm not sure, but I think this is the first time an NME review has been floated across the screen during one of these album promos. Presumably if they'd won, though, they'd be playing tonight?
Corden is doing an interview with CeeLo that makes Jools Holland's interviews look like Paxman trying to find out who killed his wife. "Did you fly over on an ordinary plane or come in a boat?"
The Ting Tings are giving away their drum for Mastercard. Yes, you do. The Ting Tings. Apparently they'd only had the drum left as they've sold the rest of their kit for food.
Confused.com now destroying Chain Reaction with a terrible advert. Nothing should be more upsetting than Go Compare.
When you're at the event itself the 2nd half of the show (i.e. from about now) is a cheap white wine blur. I'm thinking that's on purpose.
Here's that Capital FM advert during the Brits, featuring mostly US artists - congrats to JLS and Tinie Tempah for making the grade :(
Ting Tings have given away their drum. "Could we finish your crisps?" they ask the winner.
Avril Lavigne and Will Young come on together to give a prize, after some stuff about Keys and Gray from Gordon. Because sexism is so bloody funny.
How come Lewis Hamilton gets to present an award on his own and Will Young and Avril have to share?
International Breakthrough goes to Justin Beiber. "I could be his dad or his mum" says Will, confusingly.
Yes, the Brits have given a prize to Beiber. The sound you hear is the value of all the other awards being marked down like Greek Sovereign Debt.
If Beiber's 16, shouldn't they have dropped by now?
He's trying to bring someone called Mike on stage to share the moment. Mike doesn't come on; perhaps he thinks it's To Catch A Predator - Celebrity Edition.
Boy George - the last musician from the UK America has heard of - is here for British female.
Did I mention that Corden has tried some ad-libbing?
Fucking hell - Laura Marling. I wouldn't have expected that. It's, like, a well-deserved award. She doesn't look like she expected it, either.
Arcade Fire doing some live performance now. No armed police on stage. Bless, they're Canadian, so they probably don't understand the rules.
Best brit female? Annie Lennox, surely? Or Moyet. It's bound to be Moyet! #Brits
By the way, while we're over here having fun over here, the Commons has just overturned the 40% turnout requirement amendment on the AV Bill. Now would be a good time to riot in the streets, as all the cops are backstage at the Millennium Dome.
Corden interviews Ronson. "They're my favourite band [Arcade Fire]. They're amazing." "Yes" says Corden, "they're amazing."
Corden tries to keep the Beiber-calling-for-Mike thing going as a running gag. Unfortunately Mark Ronson has no clue what he's talking about.
Take That's album package now. Lots of talk about love over footage of rowing. "We're just starting our journey together."
It's the only night of the year anyone thinks "I can't wait for ITV News At Ten to start.
Still waiting for the Gaye Bykers On Acid reunion on the #Brits
Corden has just suggested Cheryl Cole is on a par with Madonna or Kylie. Is that his waspish sense of humour there?
International Female action time, then. The mighty Robyn's up for this one. Could it be?
No, of course not. You don't think Rihanna turned up just to sing, do you?
Cheryl says that Rihanna's her girl crush. As opposed to that toilet attendant, who was her crushed girl.
Rihanna: "It doesn't get much bigger than the Brits". Apart from the Grammys, or the Oscars. The BAFTAs. Whatever it is that Rory Cellan-Jones is at.
Corden's jokes are landing so flat you could slide them under a bank vault door, but - let's be fair - he's still nowhere near as awful as Peter Kay was last year. He's not even as embarrassing as the last time he did it.
Neither of those bars, though cleared, are particularly challenging.
If you're also looking for consolation: rather Tinie Tempah than JLS. At least he can deliver his stuff effectively. Although tonight there's a string section on with him.
"How do you follow that?" asks a gurning Corden, grinning for all the world like a man who's just realised he forgot to set the Sky+ so won't have to sit through this when he gets home.
Dermot O'Leary comes on, and asks the audience to applaud Corden. He doesn't actually pat him on the head, but you wonder if ITV asked him to throw a drowning man a rope.
This is British group time. Take That win, which confirms we're back on the obvious prize route.
In about 10 seconds Dermot O'Leary did a better job of presenting than Corden has all night
Robbie Williams keeps bellowing "shabba". At least when George Lamb did it, it was only two years too late.
Plan B album package now. It's funny that we now live in age when the record-buying public are too young to know that concept albums are meant to be a bad thing.
Corden is now at a table pointlessly interviewing Plan B. Plan B thinks "a lot more people will be open to hiphop now because of what I done with this record." He's like a rhyming Joe Maplin.
Anasatacia's here now, she's giving away her shoes that she wore on her last tour. Last tour? That must explain why they look like they went out of fashion about 15 years ago then.
There's an advert for Vodafone on now. They're tax-dodging bastards who sucked billions away from the Exchequer, but - oh, they're giving away tickets to see a fashion show so let's forgive them, shall we?
Ok, got message from friend of voice over lady. Stop mean words... Let's enjoy the show :-)
I think they just showed the wrong break bumper - ought it not to have been someone getting Anastacia's old shoes and not the Ting Tings showing us a guitar?
Roger Daltrey comes on to give the album prize - "good to see the British music industry still has enough money for a good booze-up" he says. Pity it doesn't have the cash for a decent awards show.
Roger says Plan B's performance reminded him of the early days of The Who. He doesn't explain how.
Mumford And Sons have won the best album prize, which I think now means everyone who played live has got a prize, right?
James Corden rushes them off the stage quickly so that Cee Lo can come on and we can all go home. If the Best Album really is the highlight of the evening - which seems to be the new rule of the Brits - why treat the winners like they're being a pain in the arse for enjoying their moment? Especially when there's been time for an interview with Mark Ronson for no apparent reason.
CeeLo has a corsage which appears to be made from Rihanna's discarded dress from earlier.
Paloma Faith has just come on stage in a car. What A TOTALLY UNEXPECTED AND CRAZY COLLABORATION. It's like nothing I have ever seen.
[Producer's note: Please be aware that in the Brits 2012, the part of Paloma Faith will be played by Imelda May.]
I wonder if having done one of Cee's songs, they'll do one of Paloma's. (Actually, I don't).
And that's it. Not the worst Brits ever. A bit better than last year's. But, oh, the Millennium Dome is an unforgiving dark hole for doing a live TV programme from. Wasn't that the reason they decamped out to Earls' Court in the first place, so it looked like there was an audience present?
James Corden? Snap judgement: he didn't do anywhere near as well as Gordon Smart will say he did in tomorrow's paper. The jokes he did were rancid, and the bits he wasn't doing jokes in had the sincerity of late period Parkinson coupled with the confident delivery of those kids they had doing reports on Why Don't You?
A last word from Twitter:
Dear major record companies. Please fuck and collapse. Do it now you coked up self obsessed wankers
And remember, everyone: they've already signed up James Corden to be back next year. And the year after that. May god have mercy on us all.
Good work to whoever it was who started Who Is Arcade Fire, a collection of blinking tweets and puzzled Facebook statuses from people whose logic runs:
- I have not heard of the Arcade Fire (or the R K Fire, or The Suburbs)
- My music knowledge is unimpeachable
- Therefore, the Arcade Fire should not have won a Grammy.
Album of the year goes to Arcadia Fire. WTF are they?Slightly undermining these people's self-belief that there's no way they could have possibly have heard of this band is the awkward fact that The Suburbs was number one in the US last summer. Admittedly, the album before that only got to number two. I mean, how are you supposed to have heard of bands if they've only had number one albums?
Lady GaGa seems a bit annoyed by everyone pointing out her new song Born Like Madonna is a bit like a Madonna song. She popped up on Leno to express herself:
She said, "There is really no one that is a more adoring and loving Madonna fan than me. I am the hugest fan personally and professionally.Naturally Madonna's business team will be wishing you success, GaGa, as it means the claim for damages down the line will be so much larger.
"Well, the good news is that I got an email from her people and her, sending me their love and complete support on behalf of the single and if the queen says it shall be, then it shall be."
I'm a bit puzzled though. You love Madonna, Madonna wishes you luck... this doesn't actually say that you've not passed off an old Madonna song as your new one, does it? If I release a single called Bag Romance, would it be okay if I say I'm a professional fan?
The most interesting thing about Sunday night's BAFTAs was the discovery that Paul McCartney is slowly morphing into Melvyn Bragg. And don't you wish when he did the "joke" about how music makes films better he'd have lobbed in at least a Spies Like Us if not a Give My Regards To Broad Street into the mix?
Gordon bumped into him backstage at the BAFTAs (I suspect this means Gordon was granted a thirty second yell across the floor at McCartney) in which McCartney announced his plan to join in with the latest trend and/or fashion:
He said: "I have been working on a ballet for a while. I'll be making a proper announcement in a few weeks. It's a really exciting project for me."You can tell how deeply Gordon was embedded at the BAFTA aftershow by the way he, erm, is reduced to relying on Jonathan Ross' twitterstream to bring his readers what happened:
Wossy tweeted: "At Bafta party I told Sir Paul McCartney that since playing Beatles Rock Band as RINGO I had greater respect for him as a drummer... "... which was exactly the same joke that McCartney used at the launch of the game, if memory serves.
This was followed by: "... to which he replied that whenever he played, everyone beat him!"
Elsewhere, Gordon struggles with Chanelle off Big Brother and her new breasts:
And now she's back in the limelight thanks to a new boob job.Given that she's only "in the limelight" because Gordon has written about them, it's having your bra off and wearing it to mutter about how awful it all is, surely?
That said, I'm sure plenty of lads will be more than happy to see these new shots of Chanelle.Gordon manages to bring himself to run the pictures, which he's copied out of Zoo. Classy.
Monday, February 14, 2011
There's a lovely interview with The Human League over on The Quietus:
Joanne Catherall: Well, our last record didn’t do as well as expected which was partially because the record label went bust on the day it released. After that we started doing a bit of live work and instead of actively looking for a label which is what we’d done in the past we decided to concentrate on the live thing. We’d got a manager who made it so we could earn money from that. We did this for maybe seven years and then felt that we needed some new tracks and Philip started writing them with our drummer Rob. Eventually it came to the notice of Mark Jones [Wall Of Sound] and he came to us with a proposal: make a Human League album.
Yes, Gordon Smart uses "Lesbi Friends" in a headline.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. She arrived in an egg. In an egg! What larks!
Although musically Lady GaGa is becoming more and more like a good-period Madonna, her staging is starting to recall nobody so much as pre-Watford-chairing-period Elton John. And she arrived at the Grammys in an egg. Like Mork! Mork was crazy, right? So that's crazy? Officially crazy?
The real worry about GaGa's approach is that it just sends other artists flicking through the Yellow Pages for the Crazy Stage Show section. So Cee Lo Green turned up with Gwyneth Paltrow and some muppets. Didn't Scissor Sisters do the muppets at the Brits a few years back?
There was something truly surprising last night, though, in Esperanza winning best new artist. In a category where time had been bent to allow Justin Beiber to run (alongside Mumford And Sons and Florence And The Machine), a barely-known-outside-the-jazz-crowd winner feels like a genuine surprise and delight.
I'll bet the Beibpubesecents or whatever it is Beiber fans call themselves are struggling with that one.
Eminem had been nominated in ten categories and managed a win in just two. And that was Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album, which is like expecting to sweep the awards at the Horticultural Show but just taking home the three runner beans prize and the four runner beans prize.
Mumford And Sons performed with Bob Dylan - there's some debate as to if there was anything interesting left about them before the performance, but pretty much an agreement that any vitality they once had has now been removed and replaced with the sickly scent of Official Approval.
Arcade Fire won best album for The Suburbs, which fits the usual pattern of these things - your weakest work to date will tend to get the greatest praise from the Academy. (It's a good album, but...). Muse - who exist solely to win prizes at glittering ceremonys - won Best Rock Album.
The full list of winners is on the Grammys site and would take too long to reproduce here, but here's some highlights:
Album of the Year: "The Suburbs," Arcade Fire
Record of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Song of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
New Artist: Esperanza Spalding
Pop Vocal Album: "The Fame Monster," Lady Gaga
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group: "Hey Soul Sister," Train
Female Pop Vocal Performance: "Bad Romance," Lady Gaga
Male Pop Vocal Performance: "Just The Way You Are," Bruno Mars
Rock Song: "Angry World," Neil Young
Rock Album: "The Resistance," Muse
R&B Song: "Shine," John Legend & The Roots
R&B Album: "Wake up!" John Legend & The Roots
Rap Solo Performance: "Not Afraid," Eminem
Rap Song: "Empire State of Mind," Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Rap Album: "Recovery," Eminem
Female Country Vocal Performance: "The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert
Male Country Vocal Performance: "'Til Summer Comes Around," Keith Urban
Country Performance by a Duo or Group: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Country Album: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
Latin Pop Album: "Paraiso Express," Alejandro Sanz
Contemporary Jazz Album: "The Stanley Clarke Band," The Stanley Clarke Band
Classical Album: "Verdi: Requiem," Riccardo Muti, conductor
Traditional Gospel Album: "Downtown Church," Patty Griffin
Dance Recording: "Only Girl (In The World)," Rihanna
Electronic Dance Album: "La Roux," La Roux
Alternative Music Album: "Brothers," The Black Keys
Spoken Word Album: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Audiobook)," Jon Stewart
You'll notice the unbearable Train was given a prize for best pop performance. I think that one fact alone invalidates the Grammy's claims to be a judge of anything.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Against a background of thousands of white farmers being murdered over the last couple of decades, and a court judgement making it plain that a song calling for people to 'shoot the Boer' is unconstitutional, you'd have to be incredibly overconfident of your own abilities to pitch up in South Africa and suggest that there's nothing wrong with a bit of tunesome calling for racially-motivated murder.
Look out. Here comes Bono:
In an interview with the South African Sunday Times, Bono said: "When I was a kid and I'd sing songs I remember my uncles singing... rebel songs about the early days of the Irish Republican Army."Bono might have forgotten, but at the time his uncles were singing rebel songs, the Irish Republican Army were involved in a violent battle with the British state in which people on both sides would continue to die for a couple more decades so, perhaps, not the best example of harmless old folk songs you might have come up with.
He went on to sing a song whose lyrics spoke of carrying guns and readying them for action.
"We sang this and it's fair to say it's folk music," he told the newspaper.
But he said such songs should not be sung in the wrong context.
"Would you want to sing that in a certain community? It's pretty dumb," he said.
"It's about where and when you sing those songs. There's a rule for that kind of music."
What Bono's intervention has done is help to stir up the row all over again, so I'm sure everyone will be delighted.
As his advert for expensive suitcases observed, every journey began in Africa. It's a pity so many of Bono's have to end there.
The Kia campaign which features Melle Mel wanking for coins isn't, to be fair, the first time The Message has been trampled on for advertising purposes. This, for example:
But at least using the song to try and stop kids being killed is a noble aim. And The Furious Five were well out of it.
Sure, using songs as advert fodder is a fact of life, like genital herpes, or rabid prairie dogs, or Guy Ritchie. But surely there must be some songs that the people involved with must feel a bit of pride in; must listen to and think 'we've done something fabulous and important here' and want to cherish.
Why would you take a call that ends up with you saying "... well, yes, it was meant to be a howl about disenfranchisement and how accidents of birth and race can leave you an outcast in your own country, but you say you want me to appear in the advert for a suburban smugmobile? I'm in."?
It's also a strange choice for Kia. Leave aside they're having a jolly singalong to a tune that contains a verse about being killing yourself after being repeatedly raped in prison, the first bloody verse contains a having your car repossessed.
In other words, the idiot in the Kia is singing a song daydreaming about being a bloke whose car has been taken away by the repo man. Doesn't suggest he likes the Kia overmuch, does it?
James Murphy has got the hump with scalpers who bought up the entire allocation of tickets for the LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Gardens in seconds. (Although, as Bob Lefsetz points out, the "allocation" was probably around 1,000 tickets per show.)
Murphy has announced five extra New York shows to try and compensate, while railing at those who swooped down to mop up the tickets:
we tried calling our lawyer about the ticket scalping. “it’s legal”. no joke. it’s fucking legal. i tramped around with friends and band getting insane. i wanted to buy some expensive tickets and then track the seller down to BEAT him. i acted stupid. i did some classic, shakespearean vain “fist shaking”, etc. i made angry tweets. (i’m wondering now what on earth could be less effective and more of a first-world spoiled idiotic move than “angry tweets”? jesus.)Impressively, Murphy wants the fans to be able to buy the tickets, at face prices, and not be ripped off.
And he seems genuine.
There is one small question, though: if Murphy was interested in fans being able to get hold of the tickets, why was priority given not to, say, Facebook followers or people on an LCD Soundsystem mailing list, but, erm, people who happened to have an American Express card? Shouldn't at least some of our rage be directed at this new habit of hiving off tickets to be part of some brand's market USP?
Ridiculously-named-and-punctuated welcome-outstayer Will.i.am is warning people about iTunes and the potential capacity for evil therein:
"Believe me, I love Apple...but iTunes shouldn't be the answer," said Will.IAm in his keynote address at the Grammy Foundation's 13th annual Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. "[For artists], it should be the scariest thing in the world."To be fair, we've got little to go on other than a brief gloss in the Hollywood Reporter, so perhaps he did stand up his comments on iTunes a little more solidly; from this, though, it's clear that Mr Am has long since crossed from the artists to the side of the Incumbent Music Industry. iTunes shouldn't be any more scary than WalMart; in fact, because it's open to much more catalogue and will deal with anyone, it's a lot less scary than WalMart. Surely?
Will.I.am described the plight of the modern musician as "like selling echoes" and pushed the need for young singers and songwriters to become experts in computer science so they may better benefit from a fast-paced marketplace.
The idea that selling music is like selling echoes is quite an acute phrase; but suggesting that computer science is the answer sounds more like a bloke who has recently signed on with Intel trying to justify his salary rather than a considered opinion.
The point about a warm digital world is that musicians and customers shouldn't need to know anything about computer science, unless they want to. It should be like a car - easy to pick the one you need, easy to drive and reluctant to fail. If every musician needs to be able to solder a motherboard and code an online store, that's a failure of technology.
The DIY ethos is brilliant, but nobody ever thought you should take nightschool lessons in how to maintain a photocopier before you started a punk fanzine.
Understanding the marketplace; loving the software: yes. But being a computer scientist? Nice but not essential, surely?
The death has been announced of Marvin Sease, star of the Southern American Chitlin Circuit.
Originally a gospel singer, Sease drifted towards R&B in the late 80s. He originally funded his own solo album - also called Marvin Sease - but when London-Mercury records picked him up, the record got an extra track and a major rerelease. That extra track was this, Candy Licker:
What it lacked in subtlety it made up for in underground popularity and Sease took the name Candy Licker as a nom de stage.
His records never caused much work for the Billboard typesetters, but he found a niche and worked it solidly for two decades, maintaining almost an-album-a-year work rate until his final collection, Who's Got The Power, in 2008.
Marvin Sease died on Tuesday 8th; he was 64.
Valentine's special - the top ten "I love..." searches (excluding searches for Lisa Hanniagn lyrics) which have brought people to No Rock:
1. I Love Kasabian
2. I Love Pete Burns
3. I Love Suet Pudding
4. I Love Everything
5. I Love Horses
6. I Love My Bitch
7. Fearne Cotton Talks "I Love Handbags"
8. I Love Adult Sex Video
9. I Love Bisexel Porn
10. I Love You Jesus "I'll take good care of you babe"
And a special hat raise to the person who searched for this: britni spirs i love rocken roll
This week's interesting releases:
Sea Of Bees - Songs For The Ravens
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Tao Of The Dead
Download Tao Of The Dead
Asian Dub Foundation - A History Of Now
Download A History Of Now
The Streets - Computers And Blues
Download Computers & Blues
Get Up Kids - There Are Rules
Download There Are Rules
The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still
Download The Cold Still
Claudia Brucken - Combined
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Sound Of Sunshine
More from No Rock on this week just gone