Saturday, November 16, 2013

Time ticks on for Mika and Swatch

What do Mika and Swatch have in common?

Yes, yes, besides both having once been inexplicably popular despite reeking of clunky, bright coloured plastic. And now being pretty much biding their time until they can scramble onto an ironic retro revival.

Besides that.

It turns out they're both thirty years old, and so Mika has been invited to design Swatches to celebrate.

In fact, not watches but:

two colourful timepieces inspired by tribal mask motifs
Yeah, they're busy watches.

To me, it looks like it's just a bunch of vague, patronising tribey-wibey stuff lobbed together. But I'm perhaps being unfair. Mike, explain you vision to us:
“The patterns are a mix of designs that can be found in Tunisian, Moroccan, other African and Oceanic tribal motifs,” according to Mika. “The tribal mask heads are a mix of sources; it’s difficult to pinpoint what they might be. But it doesn’t really matter, because they have the same function ― they’re there to inspire curiosity and awe.”
Ah. It doesn't really matter whether there's any coherence to the work so long as you can think about it. That might sound like the sort of lazy cop-out you'd come up with if you'd just knocked something together, but I'm sure it isn't.

Swatch have produced 999 of the more expensive version of the watch; they call this a limited edition; I suspect it's an overoptimistic oversupply.

Happy birthday, Master Mika.

James Arthur burns through goodwill

James Arthur is well on his way to being a Pointless answer in the X Factor winners category in a year or two. You might have caught his appearance on Children In Need last night; even with what seemed to be seventy other people on stage, the song and performance was totally empty. It was like watching someone humming in a very busy bus station. Even his tattoos seemed to be embarrassed to be part of it.

It wasn't the worst thing involving James Arthur yesterday, though: he's outed himself as a racist homophobe, too.

Somehow Arthur got himself caught up in a rap diss war with Mickey Worthless. Miss, miss, Worthless started it:

‘You sucked Simon [Cowell’s] bell to get your deal. You suck Simon’s bell and Louis [Walsh’s]’ as well. Yeah you did, you faggot. Yeah you did, fuck off.’
Leaving aside the obvious homophobia of this line, if it was true, then surely Arthur could at least be said to have put in the hours to get his deal?

Arthur, though, wasn't taking it lying down - the claims, that is - and decided to respond. Rather than write a reply which said 'Actually, you're homophobic and I'm far far greater/ won a public vote with an independent adjudicator', Arthur responded in kind:
“You’re a terrible rapper, you should shoot yourself”[...]

“You fucking queer. Hilarious, precarious you Talibani confused, imbecilic mimic of a gimmick”.
Ah, yes. The moral high ground of adding pedestrian racism to homophobic insults.

Arthur at first tried to brazen it out:
He thought he was Mr Rap Battle, so he had to get it. He asked for it
You'll note that Arthur seems convinced that it is HE who is Mr Rap Battle.

Someone, though, has intervened and pulled Arthur's Soundcloud o' Intolerance.

As the shit, stitched-together Tommy Duckworth without Tommy Duckworth storyline on Corrie shows, ITV isn't amused when its tea-and-crumpets image is disrupted by children doing filthy raps, so let's hope Arthur isn't expecting to appear on X Factor this season. (Equally, if Arthur does, Chris Fountain might have the makings of an unfair dismissal claim on his hands.)

In the short term, it might be best if someone stops buying the two boys top-up vouchers for their phones.

[Thanks to Michael M]

The Offspring don't know what to do with their new music

The Offspring aren't entirely sure what to do with the GREAT NEW MUSIC they're about to make:

In the true spirit of punk rock, Noodles seems unconcerned about what’s going to happen next.

“At this point, all options are open. Either we go back and try and renegotiate a deal with Columbia or work with someone else or maybe even make our music free on the internet.

"In a way it’s very liberating, as well as being scary, not knowing what to do and having to figure it out for ourselves, but you know, we’ve been doing this for quite a while and I’m sure we’ll land on our feet.”
I've had uncles who talked like this - 'yeah, it's actually really liberating to be sleeping in a car, because you can just park up where you like, right? The whole world is my hotel. I could sleep by Loch Lomond, or outside Windsor Castle, or on the top of Snowdon. Although mostly I spend my nights in the hedge outside your aunt's house crying."

I can't help wondering if Columbia were keen on renegotiating the deal, that they might have started doing that before the old one expired.

Scalper turns asshat when challenged

So, Brand New are doing some dates in the States, and their popularity, unfathomable though it may be, has brought out the scalpers.

One disgruntled fan contacted one of the profiteers and took issue with the size of the mark up.

The scalpers response? He created a Craigslist advert with the complainant's details on, apparently offering tickets for sale.

Oddly, the victim seems more pissed off with the band than the person who orchestrated the stunt, which is akin to blaming Tony The Tiger if you got sick eating an out-of-date box of Frosties.

Much of New York tries to help out Yellow Dogs

After the murder of two members of Yellow Dogs and others earlier in the week, New York is rallying round. Brooklyn Vegan reports:

Monday (11/18) at Brooklyn Bowl there will be a "Special Memorial Evening / Fundraiser" featuring performances from Nada Surf, James Chance, Luke Temple, Dirty Fences, Kyp Malone (of TVotR), Helado Negro, Hamish Kilgour (The Clean), Iranian visual artist and activist Shirin Neshat and more; plus DJ sets from Paul Banks (Interpol), Jonathan Toubin, Sinkane, Vito & Druzzi (The Rapture), The Men and more.

Tickets ($15.00 - $30.00) for the benefit go on sale Saturday (11/16) at noon. 100% of the door will be going to the families of the deceased, the hospital bills of Sasan Sadeghpourosko who was wounded in the shooting, and then as well as the two surviving members of Yellow Dogs.
There doesn't seem to be a non-tickety way of donating if you want to help out but can't be in Brooklyn, but if we come across something we'll pass it on.

Journey help out with typhoon relief

Journey have announced a $350,000 donation to the food programme getting vital supplies out to the Philippines after the typhoon.

"Don't stop believing, help is on the way for the people of the Philippines," said [Manila native and Journey lead singer] Arnel Pineda, who is leading the efforts to mobilize the coalition of partners.
If it had been me, I might have chosen not to shoehorn the song title into the statement, but even so: generous work, Journey.

[You can be like Journey, and donate to the Philippines relief programme via the DEC]

Friday, November 15, 2013

Loveable Rogues no longer on Syco

Ah, the end of one of the great partnerships off our time: Loveable Rogues have been waved off by Syco:

Speaking to Jon Hornbuckle for Digital Spy, the band put the reason behind the split down to a conflict of ideas about the direction the group should take, but insisted they had parted with the Sony imprint on "good terms".

They said: "It didn't really work. We had different plans to what Syco had for us. It's different for them because we ended on good terms with them and they're not really used to that!"
It's not entirely clear what the different plans the band and Syco had, although the smart money is on Syco planning to wait until people had forgotten the band ever existed before quietly dropping them from the roster. And the band didn't have the being forgotten part of the plan.

It's odd that coming fourth in a TV talent with just over one-twentieth of the public vote hasn't led to anything apart from a solitary single. Whoever would have thought?

We're past peak GaGa

I don't think anyone's surprised that Lady GaGa has moved past her peak, but some American analysts have been caught out by the speed of the decline:

Lady Gaga's new album ARTPOP is predicted to sell an estimated 260,000 copies in its first week of sales in the US.

The new figures come after industry experts predicted an initial pre-release forecast of 300k-350k.
Born This Way sold over a million copies in the first week; that was helped out by a 99cents deal at Amazon, but even if you strip out all those Amazon sales, Artpop has managed about half of what Born This Way did.

Which is the answer to the question "why is Lady GaGa suddenly turning up doing all sorts of interviews she'd have politely declined a year ago?"

Bookmarks: Talulah Gosh

To mark the release of the Talulah Gosh retrospective (for which he wrote the liner notes), Everett True measures his love:

I loved them because they loved the same bands as me – Razorcuts, The Pastels, (early) Soup Dragons, Buzzcocks, Ramones, Girls At Our Best!, Marine Girls, Altered Images, Shop Assistants, (early) Primal Scream, The Shangri-La’s, The Ronettes, Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike, Dolly Mixture. I never knew this at the time … except for the first three or four, obviously … it was just an unspoken understanding.

I loved them because they were always ready to burst into a quick chorus of “ba ba ba ba” at the drop of a hair-slide.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wait, wait: there is something interesting about the Lily Allen video

Lily Allen's probably wishing she'd stuck to covering Keane and helping John Lewis flog festive geegaws.

Instead, she's found herself caught up in being guilty of not having addressed every single social wrong in a three-minute pop parody video.

There's a lot of stuff been churned out about the Hard Out Here video, and, I suspect, there is much more to come, although anything that goes beyond 'perhaps Allen didn't think through absolutely everything through from every angle' is probably overboiled and aimed at a soft target.

What is quite interesting, though, is the interesting and polite interaction between Suzanne Moore and Lily Allen on Twitter last night - proving, at least, that it is possible to disagree, and disagree about fundamental and important things, without resorting to ALLCAPS FUCK-LOBBING.

What is even more interesting, though, is that Allen appears to have deleted her messages to Moore, leaving Moore appearing to be talking into thin air. It's a pity, as Allen made a really sharp point, reminding Moore of the time Suzanne accidentally upset trans people.

It all ended with this:

But it's disappointing that Lily's side of the debate has vanished already, and her Twitter feed returned to a bland list of viewcounts and iTunes positions. I'd rather hear her thoughts than Keane covers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Johnny Borrell: When life gives you a very small lemon, you make a tiny glass of lemonade

Is Johnny Borrell upset by the pissweak sales of his solo album, Borrell1?

Of course he is.

But is he going to admit that?

No way. Take off your shirt and put on your brave face, baby:

''It is being heard and appreciated by as many people as possible! It is!

''If that's 500 people, that's 500 people. If those are the 500 people that are open enough at this point in time to heard this record, f***ing fantastic man.''
After all, if anyone enjoys it, that's a bonus, right?
''I would rather play to 80 people who are switched on enough, and unprejudiced enough, to get what's going on with this band right now, than to play to 80,000 people who are there because that's the CD that's out this year or whatever.''
Yeah, because why would you want to cram your pockets with a payday when you could, instead, be playing the backroom of a pub somewhere for peanuts and the odd lager top?

Because those 80 people (yes, Johnny is assuming about a sixth of everyone who bought the album will turn up) are there just to hear him. Or at least will listen patiently while they're waiting for the meat raffle to be drawn.

Lady GaGa claims to not be interested in the Madonna throne

Lady GaGa popped onto the Howard Stern show to snidey-dig at Madonna and Perez Hilton.

I know what you're thinking: "surely at least three quarters of the people mentioned in that sentence aren't still going, right?"

So, Stern asked GaGa why Madonna "has an issue" with GaGa. GaGa has a theory:

: "I think she's more aggravated that I'm not upset that she doesn't like me. 'Cause I don't care that she doesn't like me... No, I don't care... It's such nonsense.

"[Attacks from people like Perez Hilton are] really rooted in Madonna, that's the centre of it. It's silly... There's always this pissing match: 'She's taking her torch, is she the new her, is she going to outlast her or not?'"
In effect, then, GaGa asked "am I bovvered?" Because she doesn't care about Madonna. Not her. Why would GaGa even have any interest in what Madonna was thinking, right?
"There's this thing with some people that I'm a threat to the throne. I don't want your f**king throne, no thanks, I have my own," she added.
Pssst... Stefani, remember you're not meant to be any better than the fans.
"I actually don't want a throne at all, because I don't view myself as a queen, I view myself as one of my fans."
Hey, why don't we have a giant throne which everyone can sit on. Except Madonna, obviously.
Madonna performed a mash-up of her song 'Express Yourself' with Gaga's 2011 hit 'Born This Way' during her 'MDNA' world tour.

Gaga said in response that she was "kind of floored", adding: "I'm not quite sure what her intention was - to do that in the show - but I don't really care."
Have you got that? GaGa really doesn't care what Madonna may, or may not, have done or may, or may not, have been feeling. She genuinely can't stress enough how little thought she gives to Madonna at all. Ever. Barely even flits across her consciousness. It's certainly not like she's got a room called The Madonna Room, which she sits in for three or four hours at a time, staring into the eyes of a giant Madonna poster, chanting 'what do you want of me' over and over.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Don't worry music, Britney's coming

Apparently music is in need of saving, in some way, and VH1 has appointed itself saviour.

Of course, it can't save music on its own - it has other demands on its time, making programmes about tattoos - and so has some ambassadors on board:

Britney Spears has joined the VH1 Save the Music Foundation's 2014 Ambassador Class, a consortium of musical superstars that includes Taye Diggs, Jason Derulo, Hunter Hayes, Gloria Reuben, Diane Birch and Cher Lloyd. The artists have banded together to promote music education in American schools.
It's a laudable aim, but Cher Lloyd and Britney Spears don't quite strike me as the right people to address the main problem with teaching music in American schools, which is Americans don't want to pay the taxes that would fund it.

Perhaps VH1's parent company, Viacom, might want to stop taking fifty million dollars in tax breaks when it makes pisspoor investment decisions and have the states have more money available for schools, rather than sending in Britney Spears to hector people into learning London's Burning on the recorder?

An American ending: Band split leads to murder

There's a pretty grim story coming from New York this morning, as a split in an indie band has come to a horrible, bloody end: Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, formerly of Iranian group The Free Keys, appears to have shot Arash Farazmand and Soroush Farazmand of the Yellow Dogs. A third man, Ali Eskandarian was murdered; after firing on others, Rafie turned the gun on himself.

The New York Times has pieced together the full story, which appears to hinge of Rafie's falling out with the rest of the Free Keys and the easy access to guns in America.

Monday, November 11, 2013

One Direction: Man goes for a curry

The Wolverhampton Express and Star was excited to discover Liam Payne had popped out for a curry:

What a difference a day makes. Suited and booted, One Direction superstar leaves a Robbie Williams gig after rubbing shoulders with other celebrities - before returning home for a curry with his family in Wolverhampton the next night.

Liam sported a smart black suit and blue shirt when he stepped out with girlfriend Sophia Smith, also from Wolverhampton, after seeing Robbie Williams at the London Palladium on Friday.

The 20-year-old clutched a classic black mac in one hand and his girlfriend’s hand in the other, as the pair were snapped looking dapper.

Sophia, who went to St Peter’s Collegiate School with Liam, wore a black pencil dress and classic camel coat.

But 24 hours later, the boybander proved he’s still a Black Country kid at heart when he was spotted looking more casual during a visit to Penn Tandoori.

Liam toned his look down for the trip on Saturday night, when he was pictured wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and black leather jacket.
Yes, in order to pad out a slight 'man has food' story, the E&S not only describe what he was wearing when he had the curry, but the clothes he was wearing 24 hours earlier. I don't know Wolverhampton well, but surely even there the idea that someone has changed their clothes since the day before isn't a news story, is it?
Despite his global status and globe-trotting with his One Direction bandmates, down-to-earth Liam makes numerous trips back to Wolverhampton to visit his family.
That's not really being "down to earth", is it? That's just being a human and seeing your family. "He still talks to his mother - he's so grounded" isn't the sort of thing people say, is it?

MTV EMAs: Amsterdam largely not bothered

Oh, god. Have we only just got as far as the MTV European Music Awards?

Have the really found a way of making what is already a poor burp after the real awards even more fetid? For example, by giving Miley Cyrus another platform to do something outrageous?

What do you think?

Miley Cyrus lit what appeared to be a cannabis joint on stage at the MTV EMAs in Amsterdam last night (11 November).

The singer was accepting her award for best video for Wrecking Ball.

She opened her bag, took out the rolled up cigarette and lit it in front of the crowd.
That is the most disgusting, outrageous thing I have ever heard. Wrecking Ball best video? It wasn't even the best video featuring someone naked on a piece of building equipment.

(That, by the way, would have been Straddlin' My Theodolite by The Hi-Viz Jackets.)

So, Miley did some "drugs". Did the world inhale with shock?
The fans in Amsterdam did not seem to find it offensive.
No, because young tourists turning up in Amsterdam waving spliffs around is pretty much what people from Amsterdam are used to - Miley was doing the equivalent of turning up at a Blackpool gig, licking a boob made from seaside rock and assuming people will be shocked.

Here's the winners in full, in case you're still interested:
Best video - Wrecking Ball, Miley Cyrus
Best UK & Ireland act - One Direction
Global icon award - Eminem
Best song - Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars
Best female - Katy Perry
Best male - Justin Bieber
Best pop - One Direction
Best hip hop - Eminem
Best rock - Green Day
Best alternative - 30 Seconds to Mars
Best live - Beyonce

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"Your call is important to us..."

Boston (the American city, not the now-defunct Crosse And Blackwell pickle of the same name) is inviting local musicians to submit songs to be used as hold music for when people call.

It's a great idea, although risky for the bands who do take up the offer - surely the last thing you'd want to be is the guys who soundtrack a forty-five minute wait to complain about racoons in the bins?

Geri Halliwell: Who judges the judges?

It's been a while since we heard from Geri Halliwell, who older readers might remember used to be in the Spice Girls (or Little Mix: The Wilderness Years, as they're now known.)

She's been attempting to relaunch her career by following the Father, Dear Father model - once your popularity in the UK has waned, decamp to Australia and hope they haven't noticed.

So, how has it been going? Digital Spy... do you know?

'Half of Me' sold less than 400 copies in Australia, where Halliwell currently lives and works as a judge on Australia's Got Talent.

(I think, if MIA feels her sales don't make her qualified to be called a pop star, Geri might have to consider what her job title would be.)

Awkwardly, Geri had been planning to do the single on Australia's Got Talent this week, but now she isn't:
"So for the final show of Australia's Got Talent – I asked myself what are my options? (They were expecting me to perform the new single) Could I still perform the song at #94? I could pretend it hasn't happened? Denial? Hide my disappointment? Unleash the fighter... Sing the song with 'magnificent' gusto doing my best to promote back it up the charts… Maybe I could get it to a respectful number '30'? Or even '60'?

"But is this me now? To keep pushing, so my pride wouldn't feel so hurt? Or maybe I admit this song just hasn't connected?"
Obviously you couldn't do the song, Geri - you'd become the first judge in talent show history to be voted off her own programme. Do a Spice Girls one. At least give the audience the chance to go "ohhhhhhh... that's who she was..."

The pop star MIA has a request to make

MIA, the pop star, has taken a break from making her pop records to issue a plea:

"I'm not really a popstar. I don't think I'm popular enough to be a proper popstar. I prefer being called a rapper."
Yeah. I prefer being called Susan Sassypants, but we don't get what we want in life, do we?

MIA's worry is that she's just not popular enough to be called a pop star.

(Actually, that's kind-of true: it's interesting to remember that she's never had a top ten album anywhere except Norway and - with the exception of that one off the film with the bloke from Skins winning Millionaire - her singles performance is equally slow.)

This week just gone

What did people read while No Rock was on its holidays?

1. BPI, RIAA use code with copyright line removed
2. Noel Gallagher has some views
3. Rebranding BBC Three news will save Radio One
4. Tom Yorke challenges Spotify's low royalties by, erm, supporting YouTube's lower rates
5. HMV thinks brand authority key to online success
6. Aidan Moffat reviews Black Sabbath
7. RIP: Lou Reed
8. The Who reach the end
9. Lou Reed round-up
10. Geldof and Bono: Performing ponies to the elite

I lobbed this bunch of interesting releases up just before I fled:

The Wave Pictures - City Forgiveness

Download City Forgiveness

Poliça - Shulamith

Download Shulamith

Future Of The Left - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Download Your Brain

Autchere - L-Event

Download L-Event

Cut Copy - Free Your Mind