Saturday, November 03, 2012

We'll never know how it ends

The high-profile battle between Eminem and Universal over digital royalties has ended in a slightly more low-key way.

There's a settlement, but it's secret.

So we can only conclude that the cash Universal are giving Eminem is large enough to persuade them they don't want other artists to know how much, and large enough for him to be persuaded to keep his mouth shut.

Lady GaGa wonders why nobody mentions Adele's weight

The Mail runs a story about Lady GaGa talking about Adele:

In an interview with Stylist magazine the singer speaks out after hitting headlines because of her weight gain and asked why people didn't target British singer Adele.

Speaking to the magazine she said: 'Adele is bigger than me, how come nobody says anything about it? She’s so wonderful and I think her confidence is something I have to match. She has set the bar very high for a lot of women.'
I think the Mail was running that story with a straight face, too.

But, obviously, if the Mail really wanted to point out to GaGa that people do talk about Adele's weight all the time, they had to do no more than dig in their own archives. For example:
Adele displays her slimline figure in a sleek black outfit as she prepares to make her musical comeback at the BRITS
Adele shows off her slimmer figure in leggings as she enjoys a busy day with boyfriend Simon Konecki
Adele set to slim down even more as she embarks on new fitness plan
'She's a beautiful girl... I'm her biggest fan': Now Karl Lagerfeld apologises after calling Adele 'too fat'
or... oh, but you get the point.

Fox News see fundraiser; hear 'vote Obama'

If there's one thing we know about the Fox News Channel, they hate nothing more than something pretending to be impartial while actually being a political statement. They really, really hate that.

So it's perhaps no surprise to find Fox angrier than a child without a balloon over the NBC Sandy benefit. You or I might have seen it as a well-meaning attempt by some older pop acts to try and raise a few quid to help some people who are in quite a bad way.

But, no: It was little more than an Obama campaign advert:

"Good intention, raise some money for victims, but the timing is more than suspect," guest host Eric Bolling said. "Is this more political? Is this more, let's get this thing on TV before the election to help President Obama look more presidential? Or is it more to help out victims?"

"It does look like they're trying to squeeze it in," Steve Doocy agreed. He then noted that Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are avowed Obama supporters (they are also New Jersey musical icons, of course).

"Where are the conservative performers?" Doocy asked. "How's NBC going to control what people say?"

"Is it a hurricane benefit or a concert for Obama?" he later said darkly. "I don't know," Bolling said.
They even dragged up Kanye West's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" remarks during the New Orleans hurricane benefit to somehow explain why they believed an event that hadn't yet taken place was going to be a Democratic pep rally.

There's something almost sad that Fox is now so broken as a rational beast that their first thought when they hear people are raising money to help others is that this stands against everything they believe in.

The other sadness is that Sting, Springsteen and Billy Joel is about as (small c) conservative a line-up as you can possibly get; that trying to suggest Billy Joel is like some cross between Che Guevara and, uh, a bloke playing pianos is so ridiculous you can't help but laugh.

"People will see a man who used to be married to a supermodel, who has a personal stash of 160million dollars, singing a song in front of a picture of a washed-out New Jersey theme park and will be tricked into voting for healthcare."

Really, Fox? If you believe that, you're more in need of an appropriate adult than Britney Spears ever was.

If you don't, you're kinda of a disgrace for pushing that sort of shit on the television to the small-but-significant audience who see the word "news" on your screen and confuse that with "truth".

Making Rubber Soul

From the exhaustive A Warm Gun tumblr, a 1965 production line producing Rubber Soul.

This is what EMI used to be like.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Epic loosens Death Grips

Death Grips decided that their album was information which wanted to free, and so slapped the music up on line. Unfortunately, they'd forgotten they'd signed to Epic, and thus had no longer actual ownership of their own art.

Epic failed them, and got cross:

Epic Records’ Head of Business & Legal Affairs Heath Kudler wrote in the email, dated 1 Oct – the same day as the leak: “Epic is extremely upset and disappointed that the artist decided to release an album without Epic’s knowledge or involvement. As you know, the artist has not only blatantly breached a number of provisions in the applicable recording agreement, it also has wilfully infringed Epic’s copyright rights with respect to these masters. Equally important, without provocation, the artist has made false and disparaging statements on various websites about Epic. All this, despite the fact that Epic has done nothing except wholeheartedly supported the band, even though the band has made certain decisions that have financially damaged Epic”.
Upset and disappointed. I suppose at least when they're telling off the people who made the music the RIAA companies pretend to have emotions - if it had been an ordinary person who had put up an album, they'd have actually just been got a drone strike.

Now, though Epic are going to drop the band - thereby totally alienating them from the product of their labours.

HMV defend their no tattoo policy

A couple of weeks back it leaked out that HMV were going to ban their staff from having tattoos. It made the store look a little ridiculous, but they didn't get onto the downward spiral they're on today without clinging doggedly to an absurd line.

Their head of marketing and ecommerce, Mark Hodgkinson has given an interview to Marketing Week to explain what they were doing:

Hodgkinson told Marketing Week: “It’s [the change in policy] been taken out of context and sensationalised and we’ve given a wrong impression of what we want to do. The [appearance policy] is part of something bigger within HMV about being really welcoming and inclusive to customers and encouraging more diversity of customers and making them feel comfortable, welcomed and embraced by our stores.

“We will continue to embrace diversity in our colleagues - we have one of the least stringent codes in retail and we’ll continue to. - we’re just saying where it is too extreme, bear in mind we’re trying to attract broader customers and it could be something that would deter some customers.”
It's heartbreaking, isn't it? Nothwithstanding that there's very, very few people working in HMV had "MURDER" across their foreheads or walked about the headphone department with their shirts off revealing Fred West's face inked on their backs, does HMV really think its tills are silent because the general population thinks its stores are too edgy to enter?

Seriously, Mark, your shops already make Ned Flanders' Leftorium look like Malcolm McClaren's Sex Shop. And even if it wasn't already the place where your grandma buys records, given that most chain restaurants have a couple of members of staff whose ears have got dinner plates shoved in them, I think most people in modern Britain are able to cope with the somewhat mainstream tattoo culture.

People don't come into your shops because you're the sort of place that thinks tattoos are a bit "out there".

You'll also note Mark doesn't mention the sexist insistence that female staff wear skirts at all.

Even younger rock stars are getting old

Anthony Kiedis turned 50 yesterday.

You're welcome.

Mercury Prize 2012: Alt-J quickly given their prize

There's a lumbering headline from the Daily Mail which, though gauche, pretty much sums it up:

Electronic quartet Alt-J are handed the prestigious 2012 Mercury Music Prize after being named the favourites to scoop the title
Okay, to be accurate nobody went "they're the favourites, so we better hand them the prize", but you can see what the Mail is getting at. It wasn't much of a surprise, and we're probably a good year or two away from a well-meaning presentation of the cheque to an outsider from whom we shall never hear again.

Let's just take a quick look at the coverage, shall we? This year the prize moved from BBC2 to Channel 4, who gamely made space in the schedule for the announcement.

Not very much space, though: just a five minute slot.

Ah, but Channel 4 is a family of channels, right. So was there a bigger programme on More4?

Erm, no.



Ah! Here we are, 4Music had a longer live programme.

Yes you do, 4Music, over on Sky Channel 330.

Now, it might make sense for the awarding of music's most literary prize to be on a music channel. Except 4Music isn't really a music channel - the awards were sandwiched between three hours of Kim Kardashian and an old 8 Out Of Ten Cats. It's a bit like bunging the Turner Prize out on CITV because the channel once showed Art Attack.

Oh. But still, on a sort-of dedicated channel, there's room for a decent chunk of programming, right?

Nope. Just a thirty programme, like there used to be on BBC2.

So, no extra coverage, just hidden away on a less-appropriate channel.

I'm not sure if I was the sponsors I'd be that thrilled at this exciting new profile.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Radio London cuts off Prodnose to spite its face

It's something of a semi-regular occurrence in British broadcasting: a Danny Baker show exploding in flames as yet another management team decide they can do without him.

The BBC seems convinced that Baker is going to carry on doing his 94.9 London show until Christmas; the programme that went out today didn't suggest that would be the case.

As ever, MediaGuardian misses the point:

In a diatribe reminiscent of Dave Lee Travis's live resignation from Radio 1 in 1993, Baker told listeners: "The show's been cancelled by the BBC. They don't want this any more.

"It's a dirty rotten shame and a rotten way they did it. Nobody phoned me. Apparently they were planning on getting round to telling me. I don't want to go, I make no bones about it."
In what way was Baker's show like DLT's "changes are being made" bit? That's a bit like comparing a magnificent march towards the fire with a petulant toddler, isn't it?

You hesitate to quote a Stephen Fry twit, but on this one he's right. The BBC are dickwits.

Metalobit: Mitch Lucker

Mitch Lucker, singer with Suicide Silence, has died following a motorcycle accident on Wednesday night.

The band's label has issued a statement:

"It is with great sadness and regret this morning that we have to report that Mitch Lucker, vocalist of SUICIDE SILENCE, passed away a few hours ago due to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident.

"Nuclear Blast would like to offer our condolences to his family, friends, band members and fans worldwide who are affected by this loss. He left us doing what he loved to do most.

"He was 28 years old and will be sorely missed.

"Fans are encouraged to share their memories, photos of Mitch and condolences on the band's official Facebook page."
Lucker had been hospitalised in September with a broken elbow.

In a 2010 interview with The Au Review, Lucker explained why the band's music became darker between first album The Cleansing and second No Time To Bleed:
think the general population of people just don’t think. It’s actually proven that people just use the part of the brain they have to, to get through the day. They don’t sit there and ponder over the big picture stuff. So it’s kinda going along that whole concept.
Mitch Lucker was 28; Suicide Silence had been due to be part of the Outbreak Tour.

Songwriterobit: Bill Dees

Bill Dees, who co-wrote some of Roy Orbison's keynote songs, has died.

Dees also wrote songs for Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash, but it was with Orbison that he created his best work. This was part of that:

Bill Dees was 73; he died in Arkansas on October 24th. The cause of death does not appear to have been made public.

A very cold dish of revenge

Remember Deryck Whibley used to be married to Avril Lavigne? And that Lavigne is now engaged to Chad Kroeger?

Guess who Deryck and his current partner dressed up as for Halloween?

"Ha ha, you're engaged to someone from a dreadful rock band, Avril" scoffs Deryck, recalling a phrase written on gifts given to Avril back at her last wedding shower.

Gordon in the morning: There's exclusives, and "exclusives"

Yesterday, Gordon had a first with the play-through of the One Direction album (albeit with each track reviewed so tersely, why, a man could probably have just guessed what the songs sounded like.)

Today, his colleague Kate Jackson has what is described as a "first look at One Direction's calendar for 2013".

They even slap an "exclusive" label on it.

Which is odd, given the calendar's been available since September, and they're even flogging it from a little stand opposite Nando's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gordon in the morning: One Direction want some attention

One thing we know about Gordon is that the sort of band he likes is Kasabian. And yet, the sales and page views are with bands like One Direction. Today, offered the chance of an exclusive first listen to the One Direction album, he slaps on a fake grin and dad-dances his little tush off:

NOW here’s the thing. I’m a 32-year-old man who likes good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll.

But, sadly, hardly any of the bands I like can sell two million albums to teenagers any more.

So ONE DIRECTION have earned almost the entire day in Bizarre page about their new album — and this is why...
This is the equivalent of a locked-in blinking. "I'm only writing about them because they're popular."

Obviously, there is a question hanging here: if Smart really wants his sort of band to sell more, why doesn't he give them the coverage rather than One Direction? (The answer, you'd guess, would be that he needs the bands more than they need him.)

So, with the grin on, what's Gordon's verdict on the record?

The headline is the sort of thing that could go in an advert:
Take Me Home is 1Dful
Wundyful? Full of wund?

Gordon bottles the challenge in the end, passing over to a younger member of his team, Tom Thorogood, to trot out a couple of sentences about each song:
Fast-paced and McFly-alike. Could be a future single.
... but not before Gordon does rather a deft dance of seeing how far he can push damning with faint praise before the One Direction fans would notice:
The album sounds almost identical to the last one but kids will love it — and some of the writers are talented folk.
I'm not Gordon's biggest fan, but that is a great bit of writing: like a man examining a steaming turd he's found on his doorstep saying 'well, whoever did this is at least enjoying a healthy diet'.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rihanna offers $250 album

Times are tough for selling physical products in the music industry, so I suppose you've got to be impressed at Rihanna offering a copy of her CD which costs $250.

She does throw some stuff in to sweeten the deal:

The Diamonds Executive Platinum Box edition includes a copy of the album, a 2GB credit card-style USB, a unisex T-shirt with a Michael Muller photo printed on, and seven art print 12x15 lithographs.

It will also contain three device adhesives featuring Rihanna's Unapologetic cover, logo and image, seven laptop stickers, a vinyl featuring remixes of her single 'Diamonds' and a View-Master containing 3D images depicting her style transformation.
Some stickers, a t-shirt and - oooooh! a two gigabyte memory card. A whole two gig.

Okay, I'll admit the idea of a Viewmaster is quite a nice idea, but they only cost a tenner. An eight track edition - that might have been a move.

Gordon in the morning: The rage of GaGa

Apparently on BBC Breakfast yesterday, Calvin Harris mentioned that he'd been asked to work with Lady GaGa, but had said 'no'.

GaGa wasn't happy, as Gordon copies off her Twitterstream:

Gaga took to the social networking site to write: “Seems to be trendy lately to talk s*** about lady gaga when your albums/singles drop.

“Y’all should live off your own hustle.

“Never even emailed you @calvinharris I guess it’s hard to believe I write + produce my music.

“Cuz I’m a woman I don’t know about EDM right?”
Gordon helpfully points out that EDM is electronic dance music, lest his readers wonder why GaGa might be talking about Early Day Motions.

Interesting attack line for GaGa to somehow read sexism in Harris' comments, which I don't think was there in the first place.

But we should respect her for writing and producing her own stuff and not needing any help from other people. Harris should be ashamed for suggesting otherwise. Where would he have got the idea otherwise?

Obviously, on Born This Way the album she shares a writing credit with Fernando Garibay. But pretty much it's just her.

Well, her and Fernando Garibay and Jeppe Laursen. And DJ White Shadow.

GaGa, Fernando Garibay, Jeppe Laursen and DJ White Shadow. Writing together, but with no further assistance. If you don't count Garibay, RedOne and Cheche Alara.

Okay, okay, so maybe she doesn't write alone. But she's producer, right? She produces herself. With only the merest additional work by DJ Snake, DJ White Shadow, Fernando Garibay, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, Jeppe Laursen, RedOne and Clinton Sparks.

Why on earth would Calvin Harris believe that she might collaborate?

Turns out, though, that Harris was approached behind GaGa's back. Gordon again:
Calvin then replied to Gaga: “No, your label emailed me.

“I always make sure I say I’m a fan when asked about it, I apologise if I offended u, wasn’t the intention.”
GaGa accepted the apology, although seemed not to realise it was then her turn to say sorry.

Meanwhile, Gordon himself has taken to Twitter:

Getting the name wrong. Despite all that studious fact-checking he told Leveson about.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wiley: The value of a university education

When you're paying massive fees for your courses, you move from being a student to being a consumer. And that makes you demand more, as Wiley found out:

He tells Britain's Daily Star newspaper, "I don't like students' attitudes. They only really like indie (rock) bands, and why would I want to perform for people who are going: 'Shut up Wiley, you're s**t?' I did a gig at Surrey Uni recently that I hated.

"I didn't need that £12,000, so I cancelled the whole uni tour and now I won't play a university ever again."
Rather a lazy cliche that students are only interested in indie rock bands. They like all sorts of music, Wiley. You weren't fighting a genre block, you were struggling with a quality threshold.

Gordon in the morning: Piss weak

What's going on here?

Yes, that's Gordon Smart and Alex James pretending to wee.

Why, though?

In God's name why?
Blur's Alex James lets it all out in the bogs ...for a TV show
For a TV show? Really?

Erm, no. It's for a web video. Tell us more, Gordon.
OVER the years I’ve heard some great stories from readers and rock stars alike about the most famous people they’ve stood beside at a urinal.
Really? I've heard a lot of stories like that, but they always are "I was having a pee, and next to me was Captain out of Captain And Tennille." I don't think I've ever heard any story that goes much beyond that. But carry on.
So an online rock’n’roll TV show has started chronicling those tales in a segment called Slash Gordon.
Oh, really?
Check out the new This Feeling, in association with Guinness, on The Sun’s website from 1pm today to see BLUR’s ALEX JAMES telling his story to me in the bogs.
Really? Guinness are sponsoring a thing about pissing? Did they think through how that's going to help their brand values?

Still, congratulations to Gordon for coming up with a segment that actually manages to exclude the possibility of women taking part by design. It's almost like it's a forum for hoary rock cliches.
Up-and-coming rock star EUGENE McGUINNESS and THE VIEW also compete to see who can throw a TV out a window the furthest. It’s the rock version of Top Gear’s Star In A Reasonably Priced Car.
Yes, hoary old cliches.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Madonna/Romney crossover fans upset

Madonna endorsed Barack Obama from the stage last night. Oddly, it didn't go down well with the whole audience in New Orleans. The AP reports:

Madonna drew boos and triggered a walkout by several concertgoers after she touted President Barack Obama on her "MDNA Tour" in New Orleans.
Really? Walkouts? Now, American politics is a strange beast, but walking out upon hearing Madge endorse Obama suggests that your love of Romney is pretty deeply ingrained. To flounce away from an eye-wateringly expensive gig just because someone said 'vote Obama' implies that you bleed GOP.

Which obviously leads to a follow-on question: if you're that deeply committed to conservative values, what the hell are you doing at a Madonna gig in the first place?

It's like vegetarians flouncing out of a tour of Bernard Matthews factories when they're offered some Turkey Twizzlers to taste.

Still, faced with people booing and walking out, Madonna stuck to her guns, of course.
Drawing boos in touting Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, Madonna followed: "Seriously, I don't care who you vote for ... Do not take this privilege for granted. Go vote."
Of course she didn't.

Paul McCartney absolves Yoko of split responsibility

Dammit, are they going to have rehsoot the Buffy Yoko Factor episode? Paul McCartney has said you can't blame Ono for The Beatles splitting. He says so in an interview with What Is Presumably Now Just David Frost's Head In A Jar:

"She certainly didn't break the group up, the group was breaking up. When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant garde side, her view of things, so she showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him. So it was time for John to leave, he was definitely going to leave one way or another."
Actually, that doesn't quite say it wasn't down to Ono - 'she showed him there were other things in the world and so it was time for him to leave'. Perhaps you should try again, Paul:
McCartney goes on to say that without the support of Yoko Ono, he believes Lennon would not have written songs such as 'Imagine', adding: "I don't think he would have done that without Yoko, so I don't think you can blame her for anything."
Actually, if - but for Yoko - Imagine would never have been written, it sounds to me like there's something fairly massive you can blame her for. The existence of Imagine.

Paul finally gets round to blaming Alan Klein for the split. Which makes more sense. And how noble of him to only take forty years to getting round to trying to stop fans blaming Yoko.

Indieobit: Jo Dunne

Terrible news last night that Jo Dunne from We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It has died.

Fuzzbox were ace. Although you can imagine bands like them existing now, it's harder to picture them having quite the same career trajectory because the world has changed so much.

A couple of singles on Robert Lloyd's Vindaloo Records. Full advantage taken of The Chart Show playing indie videos regularly at a time when not all indie records had videos. Transitioning to WEA, and at the same time making the leap from being favourites of Record Mirror to the pages of Smash Hits. Soundtracking a key moment in Emmerdale Farm (they were playing on the Land Rover radio when Jackie Merrick accidentally shot himself). Then WEA got bored, dropped them, they split.

Ah, yes, that 'pretending to ride a scooter' video for Rules And Regulations, which felt like it popped up every third week for about a year and a half. Take it away, away, a-way-hey-hey:

If you need further proof of just how extraordinary these days were, here's the Vindaloo Summer Special, which saw Fuzzbox, The Nightingales and Ted Chippington come together for a bit of a time. The upshot? Ted Chippington on kid's TV:

The band reformed in 2010 - after Vix had been in the line-up on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, strangely enough. There was even a comeback cover:

Maggie spoke about her sister with BBC News:

"Jo is one of the very few female guitarists in this country that had any recognition and any success," she said.

"People from other bands admired her eccentric style."

She said Jo died peacefully after a short illness.

"I want everyone to remember her for being so brave at the end," she added
Jo Dunne was 43. She died from cancer on Friday night.

This week just gone

The most-read October stories were:

1. HMV decide to blame staff for decline, tell women to wear skirts
2. Marilyn Manson & Rob Zombie have trouble understanding they need each other to bark up an audience
3. Spotify survey claims people can think of songs that are better than sex. Goes downhill from there.
4. Glastonbury holds traditional technical failures to mark tickets going on sale
5. New Statesman pats NME on the head
6. Oprah rejoices that Rihanna has returned to Chris Brown
7. Drowned In Sound remember the Forgotten Buzzbands
8. Jarvis Cocker reviews John Lennon's shopping list
9. Coachella offer to dump meat to reunite The Smiths
10. Cheryl Cole stopped from flying by insurance people

It was a quiet release week:

... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead - Lost Songs

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