Saturday, October 27, 2012

Now we know how many assholes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

Last night I had a bit of an unpleasant experience at a gig, and wanted to capture it. (In other words, this is going to be a fairly dull blogpost about a thing that happened to me, and you might want to skip it.)

A bit of background - I've had a stinker of a cold for two weeks, which has messed with my hearing. This used to happen to me a lot when I was a boy; in fact, I can't remember having lost so much of my hearing so badly since I was aged in single-digits. I still have a happy memory of being in the dining room at my Middle School, and the last big deafness suddenly clearing. A pop, and being back in the world, a mood shooting upwards like a cat up a tree.

Like an unwelcome visit from a childhood friend you didn't really like, the deafness has returned this week. In the office, trying to follow the conversations in meetings was leaving me physically sick from the stress of trying to catch the flow; I've been having to leave the phone unanswered as it wouldn't do me any good to pick it up.

I reckon I've got about 15% hearing in my left ear, and 5% in my right. And that's using my normal hearing as a baseline; years of being down the front without hearing protection haven't exactly left me the best person if you need someone to hear pins dropping.

Last night, though, we had tickets for Dead Can Dance at the Royal Albert Hall. Amplified music. That'll work for me.

So Shawndra and I head down, and we're sat in our seats waiting for something to happen. Just to be clear: there isn't an act on stage, playing. There isn't even music playing through the PA.

We were talking in normal voices - I guess it's possible that I might have been a twitch above normal volume, compensating for my deafness, but I wasn't bellowing away like Gordon Cole talking to Agent Cooper.

Suddenly, the woman in front turns round and says "you're being very loud."

Not being eight years old, and this woman not being employed to be our nanny, it takes a second to register that she's telling us off for talking in what is, to all intents and purposes, a waiting room.

She then follows this up with "everybody else is whispering", which I don't hear.

Naturally, "everyone else" isn't whispering - even though I can't hear half her complaint, I'm able to eavesdrop on the couple sat in front of her. People are chattering, as they do, when they're excited, and some have taken strong drink.

Remember, we're not in a church, awaiting a memorial service for the fallen. We haven't gathered to take the final paper in an engineering exam, with individuals trying to compose themselves to recall the Ductile Yield calculation under fire. We are sitting in a large room waiting to have some popular music played to us.

Shawndra explains that we can't actually communicate in mouse-friendly whispers because I've got a hearing impairment.

At this stage, there are two possible reactions. The woman in front could have said "oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realise." Or - and to be honest, what I would probably have done were the positions somehow reversed - you could mutter "oh" and turn back round.

But what our friend chose to do was to pull a face like a Hattie Jacques unconvinced by Sid James' explanation of why Barbara Windsor's bra was in his jacket pocket, and harrumphed "yeah, right".

Now, I'm incredibly lucky that my hearing problem is a short-term thing and at some point in the future I'll be able to hear sort-of normally again. Perhaps the woman in front calculated this, and didn't feel that a temporary impairment counted as an impairment at all.

Unlikely though, as she didn't know who I was, or anything about me, or my medical history or physical shape.

Instead, she just chose to assume we were lying, and say so to our... well, not faces, as her harrumphing came as she turned back round in her seat.

That's just astonishingly rude beahviour. It's probably the most rude I've seen someone be in a theatre this year - and I was at the Milton Keynes theatre the night the bloke was sick over the edge of the balcony onto the people sat below.

There is, of course, a pay-off: shortly after this, two younger women came and sat in the seats next to her. They chattered away all through the support act.

Did the woman say anything to them? Oddly enough, no. Happily for me, they didn't disturb me because I couldn't hear them.

Just a tip, then: if you were the woman in L 9 95 last night, if you don't want to have people having conversations, you might want to avoid being in public.

If you really feel the need to share your belief about how you believe people should behave, why not wait until something actually needs to be said (if I'd been talking through one of the acts on stage, you would have been morally justified in dragging me from my seat, putting my head on a pike and waving it as a warning to others. Indeed, I would have fetched a pikestaff to help you.)

But if someone tells you they've got a health problem - unless you are their doctor, and have their notes in front of you - never, ever attempt to belittle them by calling them liars, however obliquely you choose to do it. We've got ATOS for that.

Dead Can Dance were spectacular, by the way.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Money Will Roll Right In: Nirvana - The Musical

In the midst of his testimony over at the Britney Spears trial, Sam Lufti appeared to suggest on oath that there's plans for a Nirvana version of Mama Mia.

It might sound unlikely, but for two things.

One, Lufti currently represents Courtney Love.

And, two, the fact that an idea is a bad one won't stop it if it can make a lot of money.

Rumours that Ben Elton is already trying to think up ways to wrap a cheery family evening around a full cast bellowing of Rape Me could not be confirmed at this time.

Gordon in the morning: Up to his neck

Gordon goes to the Bond premiere, and gets confused:

DAME JUDIE DENCH appeared to have arrived at the Skyfall premiere via Essex.

The actress got her neck vajazzled with the 007 logo and was keen to show off her work to the snappers.
Isn't the whole point of "vajazzle" that it is very much about where it is? Does Gordon have such a very poor grasp of female anatomy?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spotify claim 1 in 3 people can think of a song that's "better than sex"

Why, yes, the good people at Spotify have produced a graphic depicting certain informsations - an "informatograph", you might want to call it, which shares findings it has made up ("been told by Dr. Daniel Müllensiefen") about sex and music.

Müllensiefen is an academic at Goldsmiths college, which provides a worrying aspect to his findings, drawn from talking to 2,000 people. Let's just hope, then, that he just happened to choose the wrong person 2,000 times for his research, as the findings are - well, let's be fair to the good doctor and go with "miserable" rather than "unlikely-sounding".

Let's start with that one in the headline up there - 1 in 3 people can think of a song that's better than sex. Now, I love music, a very great deal. A very, very great deal. And music is there for me. It got me through some barren times. And maybe at those points, I could have told myself that 'these songs are better than sex'. But, just as when you walk home in tears and throw your takeaway over a hedge and mutter to yourself "he stinks anyway", you know you're just being brave.

Music is a great replacement. It's a wonderful comfort. Like instant coffee, it can give you warmth and a sense of flavour and tell you that it's going to be alright.

Now, I'm told that sex can sometimes be pretty underwhelming, that it isn't so great all the time. But this poll is putting one single song up against sex as a category; I guess some fair-minded people may have approached the question scientifically and gone with the median point in their sexual history rather than the night they'd normally think about if they were in bed alone, only they're not because they're thinking of this one song instead. But surely an academic would make that clear in their report? "1 in 3 people can think of a song that's better than the mid-point sex they had in a declining relationship'.

And, to be fair, around 1% of people don't care for sex at all, and to them, genuinely, the theme from EastEnders is better for them than sex.

But if 1 in 3 people are telling this doctor that they know a song which is better than sex, then the headline is not that music is great, but 33% of us are either doing sex totally wrong, or not at all, or both.

But hang on. There's more. For this isn't 660 people thinking of 660 different tracks. Apparently, the group think goes deep enough that Spotify have managed to draw up a chart of songs which are better than sex.

Which they have hen shared with us.

And so we can now discover these better-than-sex tunes. I shall give you a moment to go and slip on something a little looser. To take the phone off the hook. To close the curtains. And to send children out the room.

Ready? Here we go...

Livin' On A Prayer - Bon Jovi.

Yes, because what could be more erotic than a song about people trying to survive during a withdrawal of labour following a problem down at the docks? On this basis, Boys From The Blackstuff would be better than never having to use the safeword.

Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell

- Do you want sex, honey?
- Oh, no, because I'm humming along to a bloke in a frilly shirt two sizes too small for him spitting in my face as he tells me that nothing ever grows in his rotting old hole.
- Yes, I surely can't compete with that

Robbie Williams - Angels (I'm not embedding that, but you know how it goes; like one of the Kray twins has had a bit too much ginger wine at a party.)

Worryingly, as well as being "better than sex", this is one of the most popular songs to be played at funerals. We're a confused little country, aren't we?

Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire

I'm not sure people really mean that this is better than sex; it's surely rather the phrase "sex on fire" is guaranteed to make you never want to have sex again, coming as it does with the imagery of a large course of penicillin and needing to wear very, very loose-fitting trousers for two or three months, while having to send out postcards to your exes.

Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

Better than sex? Even if you buy the idea that it's actually possibly to find a scale upon which you could measure both 'sex' and 'songs', and even if you travel far enough along that hypothesis to conclude that some songs might outrank sex, we are expected to believe that this is the track for which the gap between 'sexy sex' and 'music' gets to be the greatest. Really?


Did 660 people get halfway down the street from the interviews and all clutched their heads and say "sex! That thing with two or more people and rubbing! I thought he was talking about those new Dyson handdriers. God, I told him that I thought the overblown and overplayed Queen song BoRap was better than sex, when all I really meant was that it's a bit better than waving your hands through a jet of hot sterile air. And, to be honest, if there was some way of using a Dyson to dry your armpits Madonna-style, I wouldn't even have handed Queen that victory. Boy, I hope another six-hundred odd people don't make the same mistake, or else the results are going to look a bit crazy."

There's some other findings - apparently people will still lazily yell "Marvin Gaye" when asked any question about music and sex; the hum-and-humping survey equivalent of premature ejaculation.

Because, let's face it, there's nothing sexy about Sexual Healing - as soon as Marvin announces that he's got a heart like an oven, the moment has gone. Your heart is like what? An empty box with a light at the top and a stain that's baked on which might be cheese sauce from the Christmas before last? Is it a gas oven? Are you saying your heart is wanting me to be some sort of Sylvia Plath figure? Put the fucking lights on, give me back my shorts, I am GOING HOME.

Other people, asked to name a song that's best for "flirting on the dance floor" choose Lady In Red.

No, I thought that - 'it must be a different song' - but they say Chris DeBurgh. And no, it's not a different Chris DeBurgh, either, or a typo. It might just be Daniel Müllensiefen including a response so unbelievable he's actually sending a coded message; that he's sat handcuffed to a radiator somewhere thinking 'surely people will realise that my claiming Lady In Red is a flirty song is a signal that the Lobster People have stormed my office and are keeping me as a pet; surely now help will come?'

But let's assume it's not. ("Ha! Your plan failed" snurfles the King Of The Lobster People.)

First of all, where on earth would you be that plays Lady In Red - to dance to, under circumstances that would mean the dancefloor has people on it with whom you would wish to flirt? Seriously, in even the circumstances of the most ill-judged office party booking, long, long before Dave Doubledecks opens up the Chris DeBurgh jewel case anyone with whom you might ever want to flirt would have abandoned the event.

More bizarrely, even if you did manage to maintain an interest in sex, or living, while Lady In Red plays, how would you be flirting to it? It's a slow song. It's an end of the night song (or, more honestly for its target audience, it's a 'you better leave now if you want to make it home for Emmerdale' song.)

If you're going up to someone and flirting with them while Lady In Red plays, you've missed your opportunity. You're turning up too late. And if you're just continuing a flirt from the previous song - which would have been Agadoo - your flirting if failing.

Finally, for our dip into these statistics:

40% of people think listening to music is more arousing than touch during sex
Sorry? Only six people out of every ten get more sexually aroused by touching their partner than by having Westwood on in the corner of the room?


HMV decide their collapse is down to women in trousers

HMV's dog logo Nipper dates back to a 1898 painting. Which, given HMV's latest little bombshell, means their logo is more modern than the company's social attitudes.

They're forcing their female members of staff to wear skirts. The NME reports:

[T]he chain has reportedly issued a new "appearance policy" which dictates that staff must be neat and clean – and wear new trainers. Men must wear blue denim jeans and women must wear denim skirts.
(Blue jeans and denim skirts? Are they running a music store or putting on a high school version of West Side Story?)

Skirts? They're telling their female staff they have to wear skirts. In 2012. In a downward-spiralling record shop.

For good measure, HMV have also told staff about an exciting new 'no tattoo' policy:
They say “discreet” tattoos or piercings are allowed but “extreme body art” must be removed or covered up. The bosses expect “high standards of personal grooming”.
This is a record shop. Issuing edicts like it's a nineteenth century department store haberdashery section.

It's unclear whether this tattoo would pass the new strict standards at HMV:
[That patch of skin belongs to Mikeroughage]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

LiveNation pull out of Hyde Park

LiveNation, who have held the contract for running gigs in Hyde Park, have pulled out of the bidding process to carry on. And they're not doing so with good grace:

Live Nation has written a formal letter of complaint about the tender and bid process for the new contract.

It is understood that the letter raises issues such as noise – in July Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney's microphones were switched off during a duet due to curfew issues. Other issues understood to have been highlighted by Live Nation include crowd safety considerations in shutting off Park Lane and unrealistic revenue assumptions.
It might just be that Hyde Park isn't a place where you can effectively put on concerts without causing so much disruption that it's impossible to do it well.

Gordon in the morning: Unlikely tales from the frontline

Under Gordon's own byline, a clearly story constructed from the purest bollocks:

PRINCE Harry has been entertaining Army pals in Afghanistan by reading out extracts from Pippa Middleton’s new book on throwing parties.
No he hasn't, has he?

Bookmarks: Parade of The Paddingtons

Over on Drowned In Sound, they've been discussing "forgotten buzz bands", which has resulted in a Spotify playlist that gathers the tracks by the next big things that weren't.

Some are a little unfair - The Long Blondes were laid low by illness, and I'm not entirely sure Louis XIV, good as they were, ever really got tipped for big things. But on the whole, it's actually a fairly acute list of broken dreams.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lady GaGa follows Madonna into the bottled water industry

Of course Lady GaGa is going to start squeezing her fans dry by flogging water to them.

Madonna, you'll recall, was part of the scam flogging supposed magicky-god-flavoured Kabbalah water. At least GaGa is only going to be making made-up science claims:

[New York Daily News] Confidenti@l has learned the pop superstar is on the verge of launching a “healthy drinking water brand” that will be floated out through a multimillion-dollar global advertising campaign.
Thank God GaGa will spare us from all that unhealthy water sloshing around the shop shelves - brands like Evian Crawling With Staphylococci, Perrier Avec Matière Fécale and Tesco Everyday Value Sparkling Toilet Water.

The NY Daily News tries to link the launch of Expensive Water with that stupidity a few weeks back when people started to suggest that Lady GaGa had "gotten a bit chunky" or whatever it was supposed to be:
"Gaga has been at the center of a lot of attention over her weight increase,” a spy tells us. “Losing her weight in such a short time and launching a healthy water drink may be part of a plan.”
Given that launching a international FMCG brand like a water isn't something you can do on a whim, that would imply that GaGa's "fat" period was actually part of the plan.

But why would you launch water if you were engineering a "look, I've been on a crash diet" marketing scheme? Wouldn't some sort of, you know, diet product?

More importantly, if you were going to try and sell water at a massive mark-up by being fat and then losing weight suddenly, wouldn't you have actually had to have put on some weight visible to anyone other than the succubus who writes the Daily Mail website?

You'd have to suspect that there's no connection to the non-story of GaGa putting on weight; like everything else she's done for the last couple of years, there's only one sort of pound that motivates her.

The James Blunt era is officially over - possibly

The NME headline might oversell it a little:

James Blunt quits music industry
You know that's not quite true, because otherwise today would be a bank holiday and people would be hugging in the street.

It is, however, going to be a while before he troubles us again:
[Blunt] told The Daily Mail that he has no further plans to write music. Speaking to a reporter from the paper, Blunt said:"I just want to take some time out for myself. I haven’t got any plans to do more songwriting. I have been chilling out since I finished my world tour and I’ve spent a lot of time in Ibiza, where I have a villa."
But that isn't quite the same thing as smashing all his guitars, destroying his four track and having himself hypnotised so that he is unable to go within five hundred yards of a piano. While we may hope its permanent, at the moment music and Blunt are just on a break.

Of course, music might not have noticed anyway.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This week just gone

This week, I have mostly been sick.

These were judged interesting, and are presented germ-free for you:

A Fine Frenzy - Pines

The Jim Jones Revue - The Savage Heart

Download The Savage Heart

Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man

Download The Haunted Man

Godspeed You Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Download Allelujah!

Placebo - B3 EP

Download B3 EP

Martha Wainwright - Come Home To Mama

Download Come Home To Mama

Susan Sundfør - The Silicone Veil

Download The Silicone Veil