Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gordon in the morning: Observe the blood of the rose tattoo

Over in the news section of the Sun - yes, the news section - Andy Halls brings news of Cheryl Cole's, um, "spectacular new tattoo":

TOUGH cookie Cheryl Cole endured FIFTEEN hours of agony for her spectacular new tattoo.
The Geordie singer, 29, unveiled a massive red rose design on her lower back to her adoring home crowd on Thursday night during the first gig of the Girls Aloud reunion tour.

Tattoo lover Cheryl, who has at least 19 others on her body, told how she went through the pain barrier for her latest — and possibly her last.

Speaking exclusively backstage at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, she said: “It was really painful but I think I’m done with tattoos now. It wasn’t for any particular reason, I just liked the design. It took 15 hours in total.”
Cheryl, you know when you say you're "done" with tattoos now, you do realise that they're kinda permanent, right? And that while you might think 'okay, that's it', you are going to have what looks like the box lid of a second-string Mackintosh Chocolates selection from the mid 70s blown up just above your arse? It's not like wearing a hat where you can suddenly decide you're not a hat person any more, and have done with hats once and for all.

Just checking.

Friday, February 22, 2013

ContactMusic overstate the Billboard rule change

ContactMusic is a little over-excited:

For the first time in its 55-year-history , the Billboard Hot 100 will not base its chart on record sales alone, now taking on-board YouTube plays to decide who tops the weekly rundown. The move comes just in time for Baauer's song Harlem Shake, which is expected to make is debut at No.1 this weekend after becoming the latest viral video phenomenon.
For the first time in its 55 year history, eh?

I suppose if you ignore the inclusion of digital streaming in 2007.

And the inclusion of digital downloads alongside record sales in 2005.

And the fact that radio airplay has always been included in the Hot 100 number crunching.

And that just last month they added streaming from non-on-demand services like Spotify and MySpace.

Yeah, then it's a really historic change.

Bookmarks: Arthur Koestler

In Summer 1984, The Paris Review sent Duncan Followell to interview Arthur Koestler. Here's an extract:


[Picks up a magazine clipping.] Look at this. Did you ever see a magazine called the New Musical Express? It turns out there is a pop group called The Police—I don’t know why they are called that, presumably to distinguish them from the punks—and they’ve made an album of my essay “The Ghost in the Machine.” I didn’t know anything about it until my clipping agency sent me a review of the record.


It was in the hit parade.


What’s that it was in?


The best-seller list for pop records. Didn’t you get a copy of the record?


No. I’ve had no contact with the group.


But obviously you are pleased.


A rather difficult book has become the inspiration for a pop group. It came as a great surprise to me. I’m slightly tickled by it.

[via @thewrongwriter]

Picket paints out mural, wipes out volunteer work

After the original Picket closed in Liverpool, everyone did their best to embrace the new, slightly soulless replacement in the Music Ghetto neighbourhood.

A big part of that was the painting of a mural on the wall. Part of Liverpool's City Of Culture year, the mural wasn't just a big painting on a wall - it provided a chance for volunteers to get involved with making the space their own, and also attempted to soothe some of the sectarian tensions that still bubble away. A Daily Post piece explains how:

The artwork on the side of the New Picket, started in Septem-ber, united the skills of Belfast mural artists from both commu-nities – loyalist Mark Ervine and republican Danny Devenny.

They have joined community groups and artists from Liverpool.

The project, which follows a successful Beatles-themed mural in Litherland, involves re-styling the facade of the music venue, at the junction of New Bird Street and Jordan Street.

The mural, commissioned by the Culture Company, celebrates historic links between Liverpool and Ireland.
A fine ideal.

Trouble is, they've just painted over it:
AN eye-catching mural on the wall of Liverpool music venue The Picket has been painted over.

Bosses at The Picket, on Jordan Street, Liverpool city centre, say the artwork – which was painted in 2008 by a team of artists and volunteers from Liverpool and Belfast – had to go to make way for fire doors needed as part of a development.
Obviously, fire doors are very important, but you have to wonder how massive this escape route must be if it requires an entire wall to be painted over. I'm not a building expert, but I'd have thought that even if you had to knock through a wall to put a door in, you don't need to repaint the rest of the wall.

Hey, don't get upset, though. It's not like the mural was supposed to be there forever. Apparently:
Director of Love Culture Jayne Casey, who is on the board of the Picket, told the ECHO the mural had always been intended to be temporary.

She said: “People did have an emotional attachment to the mural and we feel sad it's had to go but we are having to move forward.”
Really, Jayne?

Did anyone involved with its creation know that it was only meant to be a temporary installation? Because reading the blog of the mural project, there's no indication at all that those involved thought they were doing a fleeting artwork.

One of the funders, the Federation Of Small Businesses, appear to believe they were chipping in for a long-term project:
Merseyside FSB National Councillor Alexis Lay who visited the wall on the side of The Picket today to see the start of the work said,

“The FSB is delighted to be able to support the Liverpool Mural Project. The mural will be a lasting reminder of Culture year and this is another great step forward in the ongoing regeneration of this important part of Liverpool’s business landscape."

Freddy Rylands, a local artist who worked on the project, didn't give the impression that he'd been told he was working on a temporary attraction:
What an achievement - something everyone can be truly proud of. Personally, it was a thrill to have a hand in something that will be discussed, studied, photographed and cherished for many years to come, not only by the people of Liverpool but by people from around the world - How many times in your life can you lay claim to something of that scale?
And the volunteers who gave their time and sweat to make the thing happen - what did they think they were doing? Senior citizen Joe Kelsall expressed a hope that it would "survive for many years to come".

And yet now it turns out that it was only meant to be temporary. Perhaps they should have mentioned that at the time, eh?

Gordon in the morning: He didn't enjoy the Brits

Yesterday morning, we saw that Gordon Smart hadn't got round to updating his online column with any news from the O2. Today, we discover why - it wasn't torpor on Gordon's part. No, it was the Brits themselves that was torpid:

The opportunities were there to make the night less bland but nobody has been sacked, arrested or gone to hospital — so well done everyone.
Ooh, sarcasm.

It's not entirely clear what Smart means by "the opportunities were there" - on the day of the event he was getting excited at James Corden prepping for the show by having a little snooze, which is hardly a curtain-raiser to a modern bacchanalia.

Smart seems mostly convinced that - like a bad party - it'd have been totally different if some other people had turned up:
The Rolling Stones never showed up, and if they had they should have closed the show.
... and if they had, they should have played Jumping Jack Flash, and if they had, they should have had a giant robot on stage, and if they had, they should have had the robot shoot lasers from its eyes in time to the drums, and if they had they should have made those lasers set fire to Paul McCartney...

Really, the idea that very old men playing very old tunes in some sort of tax-efficient coda would have stirred things up a bit is sweet, but unlikely.
Well, The Stone Roses missed out on a nomination in the Best Live category despite entertaining 500,000 people last summer in fields up and down the country.
That's a fair point, you would have thought that The Stone Roses should at least have turned up on the shortlist.

But it's not obvious that Ian Brown, even had he won a prize, would have spent the evening before his 50th birthday (yes, really) throwing bread rolls at the audience.
Sadly, some of the personality has been lost along the Thames on the way from Earls Court to the cavernous O2.
Oh, yes. How we long for the old days of the intimate Earls Court. Nowadays, the Brits are held in the massive O2, with its capacity of 20,000; how happier we were when they took place at the snug 19,000 capacity Earls Court.

One of the reasons for the show becoming safer and - yes, blander - Gordon doesn't consider is the need to run an event which reflects warmly upon the sponsors. Giving of prizes is something which should be underwritten by marketing departments of multinational corporations will always lead organisers down a safety-first route.

Remind me again, Mr Smart - what was the newspaper column which was amongst those corporate sponsors?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Slayer, drummer part ways

I sort-of have a vague but distant family interest in who drums for Slayer, so am interested to hear that the tiny stool behind the big kit is vacant again.

Dave Lombardo has discovered that - according to his Facebook page - the band were being diddled:

"As of the end of the business day on February 14th, I was notified that I would not be drumming for the tour in Australia. I'm saddened, and to be honest I am shocked by the situation.

"Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer's tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us.

"Last Monday, I sat down with Kerry and Tom to rehearse for Australia and to propose a new business model that I felt was the best way forward for Slayer to confidently protect itself so we could do what we do for the fans. Kerry made it clear he wasn’t interested in making changes and said if I wanted to argue the point, he would find another drummer. On Thursday, I arrived at rehearsals at 1 pm as scheduled, but Kerry did not show. Rather, at 6:24 pm I received an email from the lawyers saying I was being replaced for the Australian dates."
This is the second time Lombardo has left Slayer. Last time it was about not earning enough, too.

You know what would make the Brits better? A lot more Brits

A startling and refreshing admission of failure from Jay Marciano, the European CEO of AEG, host of the Brits:

Eight out of ten people don't know the Brits is on tonight"
You're the man in charge of promoting what is meant to be the biggest musical event in the nation. It has a live slot on one of the main TV channels, and is co-sponsored by one of the UK's largest radio companies and the nation's biggest newspaper publisher. And still eight out of ten people have it drift by without them noticing. Now, it's not like this is an expedition to the North Pole, but I imagine you'd be proposing giving someone else the chance of promoting next year to see if they might be able to do a bit better?

Oh. No.
"so we plan to make it a week-long celebration."
Oh, of course. Having failed to get anyone to notice a massive gig on a single night, you think watering it down across a series of nights would somehow help.

The model Marciano is proposing is copying the Grammys - so not spinning the prize giving out over a calendar week, but boosting the main event by having a run of concerts running up to it.

It's not entirely clear how this is going to work. If this is to boost the 20% awareness rate, these extra gigs will have to be very special and very high profile.

How are you going to get the top-line acts you need to play this? It's unlikely ITV are going to want to televise a solid week of gigs, certainly not on ITV1, not during the European football season. Maybe ITV2 might pick them up, or one of the more distant music channels. But the more digits in the channel position on the EPG, the lower the audience, so the lower the chance of attracting top acts, and the lesser the chance of raising 'awareness'.

And that, of course, is a downward spiral.

And where are you going to find bands wanting to play one-off dates in a massive space like the O2? You might get someone to redirect an existing tour there, but is there going to be any enthusiasm for redirecting a European leg of a tour to London at the same time as everyone else?

Wasn't the idea of the Brits to support and promote British music - not for British musicians to be pressed in to service to support the Brits?

[Thanks to James in the Brits liveblog comments for the link]

YouTube streams now count towards the US chart. May god have mercy on our souls.

Harlem Shake - the Gangnam Style for people who thought what we really needed was another Gangnam Style - is currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Charts, in large part because YouTube streaming plays have started to count towards US chart positions.

It used to take a bunch of sales to get to number one. Now, you just need to have a bunch of people clicking on a Twitter link.

Gordon in the morning: Gordon in the yesterday morning

Well, a big night last night for British music. I expect Gordon Smart's showbiz page is bubbling with news and excitement from the O2.

Let's have a quick look:

Emili Sande is going to close the Brits? Harry Styles was out late the other night? Isn't that... well, yesterday's news?

Yes, the showbiz editor's flagship column from the UK's biggest-selling daily title has responded to the Brits by... sleeping in.

The Sun does have coverage, just elsewhere across the site. Which might not matter overmuch, but... didn't the Bizarre column specifically co-sponsor one of the prizes last night?

It falls to Alison Maloney to try and capture the spirit of the event:

TAYLOR Swift dressed in a wedding dress to perform at the Brits – after an uncomfortable night listening to gags about ex Harry Styles’ love-life.
There's absolutely no evidence at all that Taylor Swift's night was "uncomfortable".

There's precious little evidence of "gags", either, come to that. Maloney bravely chronicles the supposedly rollicking moments:
Harry hid behind his programme as the host told him: “Sharon Osbourne is here, Annie Lennox is here. Who have you got your eye on?”
Introducing Nick Grimshaw, the Gavin and Stacey star said: “He’s the man who ordered a stripper for Harry Styles’ 19th birthday – which meant that, for a moment at least, Harry saw a woman with her clothes on.”
[Sharon Osbourne] said: “Where is that little Harry Potter boy? I want to see if he’s got his magic stick? That’s his willy.”
As Maloney was typing these in, did it occur to her that the best of them fall short of wit by quite a distance? In fact, ITV could have saved itself a lot of time if they'd simply flashed "Harry Styles has passed puberty" on the screen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brits 2013: The Liveblog

If it doesn't start with Adele wandering onto stage saying "as I was about to say..." the Brits will have failed in their very first few seconds.

Welcome, then, to the 2013 Brits Live Blog. Yes, a liveblog - something which, like an open branch of HMV, you hardly ever come across these days and, when you do find one, it's stuffed full of disappointing box sets and bitter, bitter tears.

This is the third, and final, year of James Corden three-year run as host, in which time we've probably only learned that signing up people to host 36 months in advance is an act of folly.

I wonder which Corden we'll get tonight - will it be Tony-Winning toast of Broadway Corden, giving a show so meek as to be unwatchable? Or it will be Mail-baiting Big Fat Quiz Corden, making jokes about bumming the Queen and cystitis, and equally unwatchable?

We'll find out in about fifteen minutes. Refresh often...

Blimey, ITV Player is horrible. "Come to ITV... if you can even find a live feed, you'll have to sit through four pre-rolls..."

ITV is doing an advert for itself. It's where life lives, apparently. And where awards shows go to die.

Microsoft apparently going to be advertising heavily tonight, by the looks of things.

These Damien Hirst Brit Awards are a bit... well, the sort of thing you'd expect Sainsburys to come up with if they were going to flog awards as part of the summer sale. I guess we're lucky he went with his dot stuff rather than offering a Britannia cut in half and suspended in formaldyhede.

Oh... "The biggest night of the year in British music". Except for Glastonbury on Sunday, and the Christmas Number One.

Muse not a bad choice for starting, although they could have been on any year in the last ten. At least they work in a massive hole like Earls CourtThe O2. Or a supermassive black hole... do you see?

They've come with a lot of string players, which might be an extra detail for tonight, or possibly what they do every show nowadays. They're very in the 'I don't care it what it costs, let's add a couple of orchestras' phase of their career, aren't they?

Heavy make-up on the string section. Possibly two tonnes of eyeliner on stage right there. A level unseen since the last Cure tour.

Dominic Howard has both the clothing and demeanour of someone regretting booking a Cromer minibreak so soon in the year.

Thanks to anonymous in the comments for pointing out the best British live band are miming.

Corden is a bit more up than he was last year. "How about Muse?" Corden promises something for us however we like our music, before detailing a menu which offers the opposite.

An appearance for MySpace's Justin Timberlake is offered as the big highlight.

Mumford And Sons are going to tell us about their shortlisted album in their own words. Apparently a second album doubles the size of the window people can look into. Yes, French Doors do that, also.

There's something special about Mumfords, a band whose every exposure makes them seem less interesting.

James Corden loves them, apparently.

First award: British female. It's going to be presented by Taylor Swift. Corden does some jokes about how poorly organised the end of last year's awards were.

Swift has a prepared joke but it got swallowed by the sound man.

Oh, yes, this is the category being dead for over a year is no bar to entering.

The winner is... Emeli Sande.

Well, at least that means she'll be prepared to do the song at the end.

Seriously: What is the obsession with her? Is it just everyone keeps seeing her doing things like the Olympics and assumes there's something they're missing.

She thanks EMI.

Oh, we're doing the sub-Jools Holland interviews at the table, are we?

Corden calls One Direction toe-rags. He's such a card.

I was going to have a quick dip into Twitter during the ad break, but unfortunately it's all ONE DIRECTION I SAW HARRY'S NOSE OMG!!!1!

Corden's introducing someone who is "so massive they're going to have to build the O3". Is that a fat joke?

Robbie Williams appears to have come as Q*Bert.

Candy is very much Williams' Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, isn't it? Pity he doesn't have a White Album to offset it.

The comment suggesting that setting up 4000 cellos would be hard reminded me of that Smith And Jones soundchecking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

British Group time. Mumfords v Alt-J v The XX v Muse v One Direction. But for the last one, that could be the NME prizes.

Mumfords win, thereby making themselves hate figures for a large cross-section of prepubescent girls in the UK and America.

Mumfords are "proud to be British". Sure, that's what Morrissey says.

Corden does another joke about Harry Styles having lots of sex.

Nick Grimshaw comes on to do Breakthrough Award - voted for by listeners to Radio One. Could it be break-bumper starlet Rita Ora?

No, it's Ben Howard. A man who is so dull his name sounds like a chain-store attempt to create a trendy sub-brand to sell its jeans under.

Corden is at the table with Dave Grohl. Grohl waves, goofily. Which was cute, but the cuteness drops as he gets a long period of time to plug his film.

James Corden finds his pretending to be deaf joke funnier than just about anyone else did.

Simon Cowell gets to loom on the screen for no real reason other than ITV is trying to shore him up.

Plan B does a little video about Ill Manors. "It was a weight off my shoulders to get it done", he says, like it was putting down a much-loved pet.

"I do music to evoke something out of another human being" explains Mr B, confusingly.

Did James Corden mention there was going to be a performance by Justin Timberlake? Because there is, you know. It's coming up. It really is.

Shazam are offering the chance to Shazam the Skyfall ad. Do people really do that? Isn't that just an audio version of a QR code?

The Twitter hivemind point out, almost as one, that Robbie Williams couldn't have been miming based on how flat he was.

And we're back. A world exclusive performance, and the first horsemeat joke of the evening.

It's Timberlake. Jesus, wasn't this meant to be the highspot? They've got 90 minutes to go.

Justin wearing a horrible shiny dinner jacket and outsize bowtie. It's like a fetish waiter outfit. First rule of showbiz, Justin - never let your backing singers be smarter than you.

I wonder if Justin Timberlake reads today's stories about Bieber crime plots thinking "I used to be the guy who'd be the one who they'd want to kidnap and castrate. What happened to me?"

The good news for Justin is that he's starting to reach a point where Kevin Spacey could play him in a movie.

Oof. Acousticy-clap-along bit. The clapping along appears to have been dubbed on the top. That's awkward.

Oh god, we're only onto the third nominee for best album. It's Paloma Faith.

More and more, it's clear that she's the Su Pollard of our time. Without the solid sitcom behind her.

Faith claims she's been inspired by the people furthest away from her. Might explain why she bellows songs so often.

Ed Sheeran is coming on, but not before James Corden reminds us he won a prize last year. Ye gods, he did, didn't he?

This is the solo male prize - remember, once won by Daniel Bedingfield, so they don't give it to just anyone.

Ben Howard has picked it up. "He's known for constant touring" it's explained. And also comfy slacks at £17.99.

I mean, he seems nice enough. But... really? This is the best we can do? They're not showing this in America are they?

Ah, we're on to the Critics Choice Award, which is really a prize to show which artist will get the biggest marketing push from their label this year.

It's Tom Odell, who says that winning is "crazy". He has the air of a man caught in a crazy whirlwind of craziness, but chosen to have a nap until it goes away.

Emeli Sande also does a bit of an interview, but reacts like a woman who has never been asked a question before in her life and isn't entirely sure she's meant to participate in a conversation anyway.

Beyonce has become the first woman to market gig tickets like they were a perfume.

Apparently Americans can watch the Brits on Fuse at 6pm tonight, although if anyone there was expected to watch them, they wouldn't be on Fuse. Or on at 6pm.

Is it just me or is there a massive gap between awards tonight?

International Female, presented by Dermot O'Leary and Sharon 'Really? In 2013?' Osborne.

Sharon is doing a silly voice and pretending she finds Harry Styles sexually attractive.

Alicia Keys is on the shortlist here - she's the international equivalent of Emeli Sande, isn't she? Inexplicably everywhere but seldom loved.

Lana Del Ray is the winner, though. Nice to see the prize going to a genuine artist, isn't it? Cough.

Lana thanks Polydor for "helping me turn my life into a work of art". I'm not sure either part of that claim is entirely true,

One Direction come on in front of a backdrop reading "Teenage Kicks" - apt, given that was a song about wanking.

I'd forgotten they were murdering the memory of Blondie in the name of charity.

Hey, where's the posh bloke from the video for this?

"I wanna love you Nobby Stiles" they appear to be chanting.

Back to the album nominees, and Emeli Sande is talking about Our Version Of Events. Apparently the recognition she's been getting makes her want to go out and do something else. See, told you it'd be better if we didn't look, didn't I?

Jokes about metrosexuality in 2013? Really, James Corden?

It's the gymnast out the Olympics and Jack Whitehall doing British Live Act. This award is traditionally judged by counting the number of cellos added to the band during their live performances.

"Make some noise! Coldplay!" Make some noise? For Coldplay?

Even Coldplay seem surprised that they've somehow managed to get a prize in this year's awards. Not so surprised they don't thank everyone they can think of.

Hang on... how long has Moby been in Coldplay?

The most exciting thing I've seen during the Brits so far has been that Warburtons have launched a fruit and fibre bagel.

We've only got an hour to go. We can get through this. Be strong.

British single now - they're saying voted for by Capital listeners and iTunes but Capital's website says there's no public vote. Curious. Perhaps nobody bothered to vote.

And the winner is... Adele's Skyfall.

Now, I like Adele. But... oh, come on. Really?

Skyfall was barely the best Bond Movie theme of the year.

"Time now for another performance" says James Corden, like a man ticking items off an especially irksome to-do list.

It's Taylor Swift, not doing the right song, and wearing a wedding dress stolen from MC Hammer's couture range.

We wanted the other song, Taylor. WE WANTED THE OTHER SONG.

It's like Mary Berry turning up and not saying "soggy bottoms".

There are people wearing fencing masks, and a small fire has broken out on stage. MC Hammer's dress has been removed to reveal a hot-pant-and-bodice combination.

None of this hides the fact that it's the wrong song.

Over at the tables, Robbie Williams is sitting looking bored. He churns through his glory days, like the time he played with Tom Jones.

International group time, presented by Dave Grohl. Or "they have more fun elsewhere on their own, these days", as it could be known. Unless Fun win.

The Black Keys. They can't be here tonight, and the producers couldn't be arsed to get a camera to them, so... uh, oh, let Dave Grohl wander off with it.

Did Capital really think positioning themselves as "the middle man between [the artist] and the fan" was going to sound endearing? "Oh... they're imposing themselves between me and my favourite band - that sounds excellent. I wonder what their mark-up will be?"

Blackberry advertising now - I guess if you've got an audience who still care about Robbie Williams, you might find a few Blackberry diehards amongst them.

Here's something from the rest of the world you should probably know:

Back at the O2, Ben Howard has come on to do a song, and to push a range of distressed-look t-shirts, £9-99 or £24 for three. At least that might stop everyone who has been going 'who the hell is he?' on Twitter for a bit. Might make them go 'why the hell he', though.

If ever a song wasn't designed to be played at a large venue stuffed with half-drunk executives, it's that one that Ben Howard just did.

Alt-J are listing festivals for some reason. When they stop, Corden does the worst joke of the evening based around Les Mis.

They're now going to be on video telling us about their record, which has already won a Mercury. They share some secrets of their recording process, which would be great if this was BBC Four.

Maybe next year they should just put up captions that prompt the audience as to which advert they've heard the various tracks on.

International solo males up now. Buble on the shortlist, which is surely an insult to most of the rest of the world.

Frank Ocean wins. He looks a bit shifty, though, as if he can't quite believe he's beaten Buble.

Nice, short, genuine speech. That's lovely.

Now War Child are getting a made-up award to mean they can have an award, like that time they invented an event award for the BAFTAS to give Live Aid a prize and then dropped it the next year.

Still, good to see War Child getting some prime-time awareness. I think this is the first time the charity has got a mention on the Brits. Heartening it only takes 25 years of hard work to get a plug. Unless you're the Brits School, of course. But then what is helping children affected by conflict compared with teaching Rizzle Kicks?

Nice of Damon Albarn to come on and mumble something about War Child being whatever and that, you know. Great.

The way the tables flash when they come back from commercials is interesting. Like someone's going to have answer a quick-fire round.

Oh, look, Mumford And Sons. So full of hope and bright eyes, it's like they're challenging us to dislike them. More and more people rising to the challenge these days.

Remember, this show is really just a warm-up for the ITV2 show that starts at 10.15. If you're wondering who they've booked to peer desperately into the cameras while trying to read the word "great" off a cue card, it's Laura Whitmore & Rizzle Kicks. Genuinely, ITV pick their presenting teams from out of a black sack these days.

James Corden claims there's goosebumps all over the O2. Think he's getting confused with Selfridges in Birmingham.

Bryan Ferry is going to present the album award, which given the shortlist is a bit like bringing Pele on to present a player of the week award at Fratton Park.

Man, he's looking good for a 67 year-old. He should keep the album award.

Oh, it's gone to Emeli Sande, rounding off a year of total over-promotion. I swear in 2016 we'll be looking back trying to work out what the hell we were all thinking.

"I think I'm a very unlikely pop star". You can say that again.

Unfortunately, James Corden hasn't rushed on to cut her rambling thank yous short.

Oh, there's another new award. The Global Success Award. Jesus, this sounds like a prize dreamed up in the Department of Trade And Industry.

Tell us, Robbie Williams, who is the globally successful prize going to?

It's One Direction.

So, in short, a prize for an act who haven't got the skills to get a proper prize, but shift a load of stuff. ITV's little thank you to Simon Cowell.

Shh! They're going to make a speech.

"It's absolutely mindblowing". Something like that.

They're doing a break before the closing number. Although Corden was so lost in his erection joke he said "goodbye" instead of "come back".

Adidas, excitingly, have announced a new plimsoll. We live in a golden age, people.

"That's almost it tonight" says Corden. Unlike last year, clearly, they've under run a little bit this year and he's padding it out.

So here comes Sande to do her winner's lap of honour. I seem to have spent ages watching her perform on TV over the last 12 months, and genuinely can't remember if I've heard this song before.

So, what have we learned? Mostly, that the BPI now quite happy to make up awards in order to get bands to play - I wonder what else was on that 'global success' brainstorm flowchart? "Band with best name with a number in it"? "Most popular five-piece containing a Harry."

Oh, hang on. Yes, it's this song. I have heard this one before. Emeli has slipped Muses' string section a tenner to get them to do a bit of overtime.

Thanks for sharing the evening, especially if you joined in with the comments or said something nice on Twitter. I expect I'll liveblog Eurovision in a few weeks, so see you then, if not before.

Progobit: Kevin Ayers

Marc Riley's just tweeted the news that Kevin Ayers has died. There's no further confirmation at the moment.

Gordon in the morning: Corden in the morning

Have you ever wondered how James Corden prepares to present the Brits? Not 'why', that philosophical question will have to wait for another time, but 'how'?

Gordon knows:

He has about an hour’s kip and sits playing FIFA minutes before he’s called to deliver gags to boozed-up nominees and millions of TV viewers.

Read more:
Judging by last year's show, he continues the kip through to roughly the Best International Female award.

Meanwhile, the point at which we can all return to everyday life tonight will be marked by Emeli Sande closing the awards.

Is this a rule now? Has some sort of law been passed that she has to take a key role in public events? Apparently she even showed up at Sports Personality Of The Year, which seems to confirm she gets booked because everyone else booked her, a constant log-rolling which never interacts with the awkward question 'yes, but is she any good?'

Still, if the show overruns a bit, no great loss if ITV have to roll the credits and hit the off button before things are finished. Because if you miss a couple of minutes of Sande, she'll be back doing the FA Cup semi finals, or Norwich Businessman Of The Year, or the Mirror Pride Of Britain Awards.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pirate Bay calls copyright cops on themselves

Some lovely work by the Pirate Bay in Finland. The Finnish copyright police have built a parody of their site, and the Bay have called the copyright police:

“While The Pirate Bay may have a positive view on copying, it will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing organizations disrespect copyright,” Pirate Bay’s Winston says in a comment.

“CIAPC is like an ugly high school bully without friends. It’s time to take a stand. Cyber bullying is a serious matter to us all,” Winston continues.
Boing Boing points out that the Pirate Bay can't help but come out ahead on this:
I love that even if they lose, it will establish the case for a parody exception to Finnish copyright law, which The Pirate Bay supports and which CIAPC vehemently opposes.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Beatleobit: Tony Sheridan

Tony Sheridan's death has been reported again and this time, it's for real.

He was previously killed off during a tour for the troops in Vietnam; a band member died in an attack but the incorrect report of Sheridan's death outpaced the news that he was safe.

Norfolk-born Sheridan is best known for having - briefly - The Beatles as a backing band; the sessions they recorded together guaranteed him a place in rock history, albeit as a cross-reference, and a source of income.

Unlike The Beatles, Sheridan stayed in Germany - working the clubs, appearing on radio; he was still working as recently as 2008, playing on Dave Humphrie's album ... And So It Goes.

At the time of his death, Sheridan was reported to have been working as an advisor to a film team planning a movie about the Hamburg scene.

Tony Sheridan died February 16th; he was 72.

Little man, what now? Cameron defies Smiths ban

Johnny Marr has perhaps overworked the 'don't listen to us, David Cameron' schitck now, and it's all to no avail: David Cameron is going to go on listening to The Smiths:

In Delhi for a diplomatic and trade-building mission, he stood defiant, smiling as he told the BBC: "I've now got Johnny Marr and other members of the band saying I'm not able to listen to the The Smiths.

"When I've got the complete and full set, even then, I'm afraid, I will go on and listen to The Smiths."
Of course Cameron's not listening to the pleas of Johnny Marr. He's quite the reputation for not listening to heartfelt pleas.

(Note to the BBC: Are you sure it's a "diplomatic and trade-building mission"? Looks more like a man trying to raise his international fees for when he's out of office from where I'm sitting.)

Met ticket fraud report finally appears

A couple of weeks ago the Mirror suggested the government was sitting on a report from Operation Podium for dubious reasons:

Last month we revealed that Operation Podium, which was set up to stop ticket touts disrupting the Olympic Games, has warned of a "policing void" when it is shut down.

MP Sharon Hodgson, who has been campaigning for new legislation to regulate and tackle touting, asked the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to put copies of reports they had received from Operation Podium in the House of Commons Library.

But Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and Home Office Minister James ­Brokenshire told her the documents "contain sensitive information which cannot be published".

Which is strange, because the one we wrote about states it is "not protectively marked" and is suitable for publication.
Well, the report - or parts of it - has now been published.

It's worth remembering as you read the details that Operation Podium's main remit was to police Olympic ticket fraud, and is about to be wound down. So a conclusion that ticket fraud is rife, and something must be done could have an element of job creation involved.

Still, here's what the Met team say:
Detective Superintendent Nick Downing, who leads Operation Podium, said: "Experience shows that fraud is the most prevalent form of ticket crime and causes the greatest harm - conservatively estimated at £40 million per year. Criminals involved in this are also highly likely to be involved in other crimes.

"We also know that it is extremely under reported, and there is a lack of public awareness and understanding which means that people find it difficult to distinguish between an authorised, unauthorised or fraudulent websites. For these reasons it is important that ticket crime is properly tackled and the awareness is raised on how the public can take steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim of these crimes."
I'm a bit lost as to what other forms of ticket crime - beyond fraud - there is. That time the people rolled an Anfield post box round and round to get Cup Final tickets out the slot?

I'm not totally sure I buy the idea that ticket fraud costs £40m a year, either. It's hard to put a figure on these things, but Retail Research suggested that all credit card fraud across all retail sectors in 2011 amounted to £120million; it seems unlikely that ticket fraud occurs often enough to reach one-third the level of every dodgy Switch and Visa transaction in a UK shop.

Gordon in the morning: Brits 2013 - Olly Murs has hopes

Olly Murs is making up the shortlist numbers - sorry, has been nominated in two categories in tomorrow night's Brit awards. He's not expecting much, though:

Olly said: “It’s an award that’s voted for by the industry, so I won’t win. If it was voted by the fans then I might have a chance."
Given that Olly is on Syco, part of Sony, and is a complete creation of the music industry, this suggestion that somehow it conspires against him is cute.

Even cuter the suggestion that if it was down to a fan's vote he'd stand a better chance - rather than the organisers simply putting all the prizes in a box and sending them off to One Direction before they'd even published the website.
“It’s great to be nominated this year, with those other guys, so perhaps it’s a step forward within the industry and with journalists. Maybe they’re starting to notice my achievements.”
It turns out Olly is wandering about with a sense that he doesn't get his due. Why don't people recognise his achievements? It's not everyone who can dress like Mickey Pearce and not be ashamed to leave the house, you know.
He said: “People come from The X Factor and they might stick around a year or two, so I’m proud to carry on selling records, to grow a fanbase and be on three albums.

“It’s a massive achievement and it doesn’t get highlighted enough, the three albums I’ve released and the sales I’ve achieved. I think it’s amazing and I’m really chuffed, but it doesn’t get written.”
Suggesting that getting a massive launch via a then-popular television programme and the support of one of the largest record companies in the world is somehow a challenge rather than an enormous leg-up - it's only a surprise he called his autobiography Happy Days instead of My Struggle.

Monday, February 18, 2013

That Hear'Say reunion you weren't expecting? It isn't happening

Did anyone actually think there might be a Hear'Say reunion? Why on earth would anyone have expected one?

Apparently Daybreak thought it was likely enough to be worth asking Myleene Klass about it.

There isn't going to be one.

The Daily Mail thinks we might be upset:

Obviously, not so upset that we wouldn't also want to know you can see the very top of Klass' tits, but even so: news that had to be "broken", like the death of a pet or the closure of a favourite massage parlour.

[Thanks to @TheMichaelMoran for the link]

Gordon in the morning: No mail

Given the number of celebrity break-ups he writes about, you'd think Gordon Smart would have a better grasp of what happens when people split. And yet...:

THERE was no love lost between ROBERT PATTINSON and KRISTEN STEWART on Valentine's Day. They didn’t even exchange cards.
Really? 'People who have split up don't send each other Valentine's Day cards'? That's news?

Countryobit: Mindy McCready

The sad, short life of Mindy McCready has come to a brutal end.

CNN quotes a post McCready made to her website last year:

"I haven't had a hit in almost a decade," she wrote in January 2012 on her official fan website. "I've spent my fortune, tarnished my public view and made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. I've been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed, and evicted. But I'm still here. With a handful of people that I know and trust, a revived determination, and both middle fingers up in the air, I'm ready. I've been here before. I'm a fighter. I'm down, but I'll never be out."
McCready's father had her enter court-ordered rehab earlier this month, following the suicide of her partner David Wilson.

After a decade of rehab, reality TV show rehab, court appearances and suicide attempts - always churned through in public - it's sometimes hard to remember that McCready was originally famous for her music.

What makes the story more heartbreaking is McCready seemed to accept falling apart in public as if it was an essential part of a faustian pact. The New York Times quotes an interview with the Associated Press:
I think that's really the life of a celebrity, of a big, huge, giant personality."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sanctuary finds new home

Universal sold Parlophone to Warners. And now, Sanctuary has gone to BMG.

I suppose that at least, this time, it's not gone to an existing major label - BMG used to be half-owners in Sony-BMG until they sold up in 2008, but haven't been a major for half a decade. Apparently, though, they're kinda regretting that, and want to be a major label again:

Hartwig Masuch, chief executive of BMG, said: "We have made no secret of our ambition to create a new force in the music industry focused on delivering service and revenue to artists."

He added: "We believe this deal will be good news for those artists, good news for our partners, particularly in the independent sector, and good news for the music industry as a whole.
To be fair, selling off your major force in the music industry and not doing it for five years was a pretty good way of making a secret of these ambitions.

It's not entirely obvious how owning the Iron Maiden back catalogue is going to create a new force in the music industry, but who knows?

This week just gone

The most-read Brits stories ever:

1. Liveblog: 2010
2. Liveblog: 2007
3. Liveblog: 2009
4. Liveblog: 2011
5. Liveblog: 2012
6. Frank Skinner doesn't think the Brits are as good as in the past
7. Shortlist: 2006
8. Introducing your 2009 hosts: Horne & Corden
9. "Live"blog: 2006
10. 2006: Winners in full

These were the interesting releases:

Tegan And Sara - Heartthrob

Download Heartthrob

Loudon Wainwright III - Live At The Cactus Cafe

Download Live At The Cactus Cafe

Miss 600 - Buying Time

Download Buying Time

Foals - Holy Fire

Download Holy Fire