Saturday, July 20, 2013

Gordon in the morning: Kiss chase

You know, that Sun paywall can't come fast enough. Or maybe just build an ordinary wall around them.

Gordon's report on the plan is as awful as you'd expect - he uses the word "lesbionics" and seems to think that there's something "left-field" about the idea.

But really, let's save most of our eyes to roll at Robbie Williams.
The casting call — which is for a new song with rapper and songwriter JAKE EMLYN — asks for: “Two girls who are willing to heavily kiss for one scene! Must have LONG hair.
“Please note, if you have a real partner who you’d like to submit along with you! This role will pay £50 for the day, plus expenses.”
Fifty quid. Fifty quid for appearing in a video for a bloke worth £105 million quid.

Hats off the Robbie Williams who has managed to take an insultingly squalid idea and turn it into something financially repellent as well.

What was that meeting like, Robbie? "Look, if we're going to exploit these women, let's really exploit them, yeah?"

Friday, July 19, 2013

Battle for Voice judging seats more interesting than The Voice itself

With Jessie J having better things to do, and Danny From The Script having other things to do, there's some excitement at the question of 'who will be the judges when the third series of The Voice happens, as it surely shall, for it is foretold in the Bible'.

No, there really is some excitement. So much so that Paddy Power - the bookies that think kicking a cat is hilarious - have started offering odds on who will be spinning around.

The two incumbents who have yet to quit, Tom Jones and Will I Am, are both 3-1 on.

Beyond that, it's a mix of the plausible and the questionable. So, sure, you could see Olly Murs (10-1) turning up week-in, week-out, but the chances of Adele signing up are surely slimmer than the 12-1 odds suggest.

Likewise, you could perhaps see a world in which an 80-1 punt on Grace Jones could come off (for a couple of shows)... but the same odds on Shane McGowan?

Also: apparently Madonna is as likely to turn up on a Saturday night light entertainment show as Dannii Minogue. Srsly?

[Thanks to Michael M]

Shoved: Woman takes violent dislike to dedication to victim of killing

On Saturday night, Lester Chambers dedicated a cover of People Get Ready to Trayvon Martin.

Someone in the audience took exception to this, and jumped on the Hayward-Russell City Blues Festival to attack Chambers.

It's an odd gesture - regardless of whether you accept the process against Zimmerman as being just or not, the fact that Martin was shot to death is surely inarguable, and so dedicating a song to a person whose life was cut short hardly seems an act calling for immediate intervention.

Jody Watley returns from wherever

I think the Washington Post might be slightly over-estimating the level of recall here:

Mention Jody Watley to anyone older than 30, and their eyes, almost without exception, light up in recognition. “Jody Watley? She’s still around?”
I'm sure some - perhaps many - people aged about thirty to fifty-odd might get a glimmer of recognition, but the idea that most centenarians will nod and go "yeah, her" seems a stretch.

Still, she's on a comeback. And she's lucky:
The singer recognizes that among her contemporaries from the 1980s, she might have been the lucky one.

“Maybe it was their personalities, or they were battling more demons than I might have had. But it was incredibly sad to me,” she says of the deaths of Jackson and Houston. “I have always tried to just not get caught up in what the industry can pressure you to do or be.”
Yes, that'd be Watley essaying the unfashionable 'it's better to fade away than burn out' philosophy of fame.

The Post might also be over-selling the extent of the comeback, too:
There’s no doubt the singer is plotting a comeback. She is a prodigious tweeter and blogs regularly on her Web site.
If sending a lot of tweets is a sign of reactivating a musical career, then the Big Ben Clock is probably going to be headlining Glastonbury next year.

Although her guest vocals on this might help a bit:

French Horn Rebellion – "Dancing Out" (feat. Jody Watley &Young Empires) from Norton Director on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On the cover of Rolling Stone

This is the cover of the new Rolling Stone - it's quite controversial:

Yes, to the shock of America, Rolling Stone are running a cover that isn't of a topless female celebrity holding a hat over her tits. Americans are struggling to understand this deviation from house sty...

Oh, hang on. Apparently that isn't the problem. Thinkprogress' Judd Legum tries to boil down what the problem is here:

Oh, yes. It's a head-and-shoulders shot on the cover of the magazine, and they had a head-and-shoulders shot of Jim Morrison about three thousand years ago, so it's clear that what they're trying to do there is turn one into the other.

It couldn't just be that they've put a photo of the subject of their cover story on the, erm, front cover, could it?

The complaints seem to fall into two large clumps, on a sliding scale of ill-informedness.

The first is a suggestion that RS is trying to make Dzhokhar Tsarnaev into some sort of rock star, because they've put him on the cover of a rock magazine, and what else can it mean other than 'Tsarnaev is a rock star'.

The magazine sighs, and tries to explain that while people might think RS is a rock magazine, it really isn't:
The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.
I think that's quite mild, really. After all, Rolling Stone is arguably at its worse when it talk about music, lurching between Tom Waits and Janet Jackson (providing she's got her top off).

It makes you wonder what the complainants think PJ O'Rourke has been filing all these years - do they think he was reviewing Green Day gigs and asking Bonnie Rait about her fitness regime? Do they assume that Hunter S Thompson's main order of business was joining Sting in the studio?

The second group seem at least vaguely aware that the title covers current affairs but, in the style of the 'he's looking like Jim Morrison' observation, that it's wrong to have an accused murderer on the cover, especially when he looks so bloody handsome.

America, it seems, wants its monsters to look like monsters (except the ones out of Monsters Inc). How dare Rolling Stone suggest there might be a more nuanced position; that the man accused of bringing death and misery to so many could look like the sort of boy you'd hope your daughter would take to the prom?

Bizarrely, CVS and a grocery chain have even gone to the lengths of pulling the magazine from their shelves. They happily sold copies of Time with Osama on the front; they stocked and shipped back Newsweeks with Bin Laden covers. I'd love to see CVS explain what policy it is that they're invoking here.

The point being missed in the all the squawking is that the cover is the story - that to his friends, he was just the sort of kid who would make a great prom date:
Someone mentions one of the surveillance videos of Jahar, which shows him impassively watching as people begin to run in response to the blast. "I mean, that's just the face I'd always see chilling, talking, smoking," says Jackson. He wishes­ Jahar had looked panicked. "At least then I'd be able to say, 'OK, something happened.' But . . . nothing."
Rolling Stone has published a thoughtful article about not judging something by the cover. It's a pity a lot of people won't get to read it, because they're so quick to do just that.

Gordon in the morning: Jay-Z goes to Wiltshire

Back at the weekend, Jay-Z went to Wiltshire to look at the Magna Carta, like what his new album is supposedly named after.

It looks to have been one of the publicity stunts that aren't meant to look like publicity stunts - the type where you get spotted and are all "oh, I was trying to make this a private visit how terrible that you will put it in your newspapers at a time when I'm trying to sell my record."

Trouble is, it turns out nobody noticed. So now, his team have released pictures of Jay-Z not doing a publicity stunt at Salisbury Cathedral, just to make sure that nobody misses him not drawing attention to himself on the visit.

source said: “Jay-Z kept the visit quiet because he didn’t want it to become a big publicity stunt. He travelled down from London in a small group in his classic Aston Martin."
Nothing says "this was a low-key visit" like making sure journalists know the swish car he was driving when he popped down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Glastonbury 2014: Removing a stain on the Rabbit Hole Stage

I'm not sure it's quite the first booking for next year's Glastonbury, but one band has already been signed up.

There's a background: the Rabbit Hole Stage was struggling to find someone prepared to play their headline slot against The Stones on Saturday this year, so Hamish Guerrini made up a silly name - The Railing Stains - and put that down for the slot.

The trouble is, nobody at the festival realised it was a joke, and the band name started to appear in promotional literature.

They even got picked as a "top thing to see".

Still, no harm done, eh? It's not like there's a real Railing Stains.

Except there is. They're a Brighton-based Stones tribute, and naturally they were surprised and excited to discover they were playing Glastonbury.

They tried to find out how to get in, but failed. The Argus captures the happy ending:

After hearing of the band’s disappointment through The Argus, Mr Guerrini added: “When I found out we tried to get in touch, it would have been great to have them play.

But unfortunately it didn’t happen.

“As a way of making it up to them I would love to book them for next year on the Rabbit Hole stage.”
That's, of course, assuming Eavis doesn't poach them for the Pyramid stage.

We've had lots of letters: Misheard lyrics

In case you only ever read No Rock after it has come through a feed, you might have missed James' comments on the truly terrible 'misheard lyrics' survey.

And that would be a shame.

So here it is, above the line:

Speaking of horrible PR stunts and press releases, have you seen that dog of a story about 'most frequently-misheard lyrics' that's been doing the rounds? I wasn't too surprised when it first turned up on Digital Spy - They'd publish a pizza delivery menu if you stuck a photo of Peter Andre to it - but then it turned up on the BBC News site :(

Apparently a survey of 1350 people has found that the most-misheard lyric is by the Eurythmics - It claims a third of people surveyed thought the line was "Sweet dreams are made of cheese". It also reckons the second-most-misheard is Rihanna supposedly singing "We found Dove in a soapless place".

There was something particularly irritating about this story, more so than the average survey-as-cheap-PR-where-news-used-to-be piffle. How does this sort of survey work? Did they ask 1350 people "What lyrics do you mishear?" and then hope that lots of them suggest the same ones? And isn't a survey of misheard lyrics a bit like asking people to name all the countries they've never heard of?

But mainly; That Rihanna one. Really?? In a song called 'We Found Love', people actually thought she was singing 'We found Dove'? They honestly think we'll believe that many people confused an 'L' sound with a 'D'? I suspect they're talking boddocks.

Sorry, I appear to be ranting in a comment box. Bad habit.

Bookmarks: Spotify

Stuart Dredge has written a thoughtful bit in response to the latest shock that letting one person listen to one song on one occasion doesn't make very much money for anyone. There's a bit of straw-manning - Dredge insists that you can't call Spotify sceptics digital luddites, which feels like knocking down a different argument from a different age - but it's at its best when Dredge explores how Spotify could be used to bolster incomes in a more creative way:

my inkling is that the biggest way streaming services can help new artists make a living is to go further still, and become the bridge between people discovering music, and spending money with its creator elsewhere.

It’s happening a bit: Spotify’s new Discover tab often tells me when a band I’ve been listening to is playing nearby, via Songkick. There’s a lot more scope here to provide artists with tools to sell stuff though, including themselves.

What if everyone listening to your music on Spotify could see that you had gigs coming up, or were selling an exclusive/deluxe music bundle on Bandcamp, a DJ mix on Beatport, a limited-edition t-shirt, and so on? What if a streaming service could point all your listeners towards the Kickstarter campaign that will fund your next album?

What, in short, if Spotify (and Deezer, and Rdio, and the rest) became much better and bigger funnels towards all the other ways you’re making money from your music? But still paid you for every stream on their services.

Ex-HMV man forced to bow to His Ex-Master's Voice

Tony Cregan had been managing HMV in Derry when the brilliant minds who had restructured the chain suddenly realised they didn't know what they were doing and closed the place down.

Cregan, being enterprising, and understanding the local market, reckoned this would be an opportunity, bought an empty retail unit, and opened up a new record shop.

Cheekily, he branded it HVM. (I really wish I could tell you he sent out press releases from Castalro Gennado, but he didn't.)

Were HMV's new owners Hilco delighted to see one of the people they no longer wanted doing well in a market from which they had chosen to withdraw?

Of course not:

In a letter from its legal team it warned Mr Cregan that he was causing confusion in the minds of the public that the business "is associated with or connected with that of our client".

The warning added: "The continued presence in the market of your business operating under the name HVM has caused and will continue to cause substantial damage to our client's reputation and goodwill."
You know what else harms goodwill towards HMV? HMV behaving like asshats. In fact, that probably does far more damage to any feelings of goodwill towards HMV, given that they've come across as humourless and bullying on a national level.

Rather than get into a legal battle, Cregan has simply turned the sign upside down and rebranded as WAH.

Funnily enough, an identical thing happened to a woman who took over a defunct Woolworths.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gordon in the morning: Premier league

There's something quite sweet about the news that Justin Timberlake booked his team into a Premier Inn after the Wireless Festival.

It might have been less sweet a gesture if you were on a budget, and going to the Wireless Festival, and discovered the cheap hotel rooms had been taken by someone who presumably could afford to stay elsewhere.

To be fair, though, all the cash he's dumped into MySpace, maybe Premier is all Justin can run to these days.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thom knocks off Spotify

Thom Yorke has pulled his music from Spotify.

Relax, it's only the solo stuff and Atoms For Peace at the moment.

Why has Thom done this?

Yorke pitched in to the debate. "Make no mistake, new artists you discover on Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly be rolling in it. Simples," he tweeted, and added as a riposte to critics that the suggestion his move was pointless missed its purpose: "'Your small meaningless rebellion is only hurting your fans ... a drop in the bucket really.' No, we're standing up for our fellow musicians."
This set-up - musicians working hard for peanuts while shareholders cream off the cash - is a totally unheard-of situation in modern music, sweeping away, as it does, the previous arrangement whereby the major labels were run as charities and bold, experimental music cascaded onto the shelves of HMV. Back in the past, the labels looked after musicians and made sure that any singer or drummer able to afford to hire a good lawyer five years in could renegotiate the initial deal in which they'd signed away everything for something close to nothing and make enough to eat at least twice a week.

It's true that you won't make much from a handful of listens on Spotify. But is there a better way for new music to be discovered?

Nigel Godrich, Yorke's producer, has an idea:
"Streaming suits [back] catalogue. But [it] cannot work as a way of supporting new artists' work. Spotify and the like either have to address that fact and change the model for new releases or else all new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet. [Streaming services] have no power without new music."
Really? This is such a schoolboy error that I can barely even look at it without feeling awful for Godrich.

He's suggesting that this is a thought process that would happen:
- I fancy listening to music. Shall I go to the service that has all the music I've enjoyed all my life, or shall I go and listen to that service that has no songs I've ever heard before?

Some people will do the latter; but they're probably the people who would be off looking for new music everywhere anyway.

What Godrich is suggesting is akin to, say, HMV only stocking records that are year old, and another shop stocking new music only.

But even the most aloof of indie stores knew they had to have some Rolling Stones or Bob Marley in the racks, if only to tempt people over the doorstep in order to ram Chvrches into their hands.

There have been numerous attempts to build new music sites on the internet - many were just as cynically motivated by 'cheap' non-major music as Spotify are motivated by paying light royalties. I think it's fair to say that none have had any real breakthrough.

Yorke is right, up to a point - you won't get rich off Spotify. You might, if you're lucky, add a few pennies to your income.

And an artist like Yorke can afford to turn his back on Spotify without disappearing.

But if you're starting out, I'd think long and hard before getting off the high street.

Gordon in the morning: Money for nothing

You remember how on Friday Gordon Smart was telling us how bloody loaded Little Mix are?

This morning, a piece by Will Payne on Bizarre tells us that actually they barely earned anything. Especially when compared with... oh, let's not spoil the surprise:

X FACTOR bad boy Frankie Cocozza made more than £120,000 last year.

The tearaway thought he had blown the chance of a lifetime when he was booted off the 2011 series in week six after boasting about taking cocaine.

But he has gone on to make more money than any other contestant from that year, including that year’s winners Little Mix. The four girls made £116,223 each in the same period.
So Gordon's impressed noises on Friday about how it was paying off for the girls, working so hard have now been drowned out by the revelation that Cocozza is pocketing more cash... doing what, exactly?
Most of the cash came from his stint on Celebrity Big Brother — worth £30,000 — plus magazine deals and club appearances worth up to £4,000 a night.
Frankie Cocozza is, it turns out, a one-man Only Way Is Essex. He's the artisan option for reality TV.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This week just gone

This week, I spent an incredible amount of time with The Face's best recordings of 1983.

What were the most popular?

1. Tina Turner - Let's Stay Together (really?)
2. Malcolm McLaren - Duck For The Oyster (oh, for the love of...)
3. Tom Waits - Gin-soaked Boy
4. Shannon - Let The Music Play
5. M-Tume -Juicy Fruit
6. Animal Nightlife - Native Boy
7. Malcolm McLaren - Soweto
8. Nile Rodgers - The Land Of The Good Groove
9. 23Skiddo - Coup
10. Grandmaster Melle Mel

If Tom Waits is sat at home going "third most popular - not too shabby", the average dwell time on that page is fourteen seconds. Fourteen.

There was a flurry of releases:

Darren Hayman & the Short Parliament - Bugbears

Download Bugbears

Julia Fordham - Under The Rainbow

Download Under The Rainbow

Over You - Throwing Up

Download Throwing Up

Emily Barker - Dear River

Download Dear River

Maps - Vicissitude

Download Vicissitude

Bastille - Pompeii

Download Pompeii

New Order - Live at Bestival

Download Live At Bestival