Saturday, November 23, 2013

Max George chooses Christmas over a number one single

It's been the best part of two years since The Wanted managed to have a number one single. We Love Pop magazine offered Max George some sort of Faustian pact:

When asked to pick between Christmas and a number one song, Max told We Love Pop magazine: ''Christmas. Sorry, but it is. I do The Wanted all year and Christmas is the one time I get to see my family and I love seeing them so much. Sorry boys!"
It's an unfair deal, as George doesn't seem to have grasped that Christmas is something that happens every year, and will happen in the future come what may; and Wanted number one singles are things that don't happen any more, and probably won't happen in the future no matter what happens.

In effect, the question was just an acknowledgement that it's going to take a Narnia-sized miracle for the Wanted ever to get a Number One again, and that George isn't really that bothered about that.

Simon LeBon is a super puffer

Simon LeBon's calling out of Robin Thicke for misogynystic bullshit is welcome:

“The problem with Robin Thicke’s video is it disempowered all the women in it,”[...]
“I think Robin made a bit of a mistake, because he’s not a bad guy, he’s not a misogynist, but he’s getting off on the chicks in the video and all that stuff. The theme of the song is, 'You say you don’t want it, but you do’, and that’s, actually, quite scary if you carry it through, so I felt that that was a mistake.”
Because, of course, Duran Duran would never have used naked women to pep up a pop video, would they? Why, LeBon might demand to know if we should be flinging this filth at our pop kids.

What's also notable is where The Daily Telegraph caught up with him:
Le Bon [spoke with] Mandrake at Boisdale Canary Wharf, where he was crowned The Spectator Cigar Smoker of the Year.
Simon LeBon is the what now? There are many things I think of when I think of Simon LeBon, but 'there's not just a cigar smoker, but probably the Wayne Rooney of cigar smokers' isn't one of them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Some seconds with Kennedy: The Inspiral Carpets

We started this dip into Kennedy-related pop with a track from a great 90s indie band from Northern England. What could be more apt that winding it down with a track from a great 90s indie band from Northern England?

It's what Kennedy would have wanted. Not as much as a car with a roof, maybe, but I'm sure he would have wanted this.

[Buy Saturn 5]

Some seconds with Kennedy: Luke Powers

But, hey, what if today isn't the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death, but in fact the half-century of the greatest hoax in modern times? Luke Powers claims that he's bumped into JFK, and he's alive and well:

Powers joins in the YouTube comments on that video, winningly defending timeline errors as being down to JFK getting a bit old and forgetful as he described what really happened.

[Part of Some seconds with Kennedy]

Some seconds with Kennedy: Tori Amos

Murders aren't just about the person killed. There's also survivors, and bereaved. Can you imagine what it's like to have your husband killed next to you; and then to be followed the rest of your life by that incident?

Tori Amos tried:

[Buy: Jackie's Strength]

(You can also buy a karaoke version for a party that'll really go with a swing.)

[Part of Some seconds with Kennedy]

Some seconds with Kennedy: Saxon

Yes, you can pull together reporter's viewpoints. You can wonder about how fate could be so cruel as to kill a man who was so pure (*cough*). But if you want to tell the story from the killer's point of view - well, for that, you need something heavier.

[Buy: Dallas 1PM]

[Part of Some seconds with Kennedy]

Some seconds with Kennedy: Marvin Gaye

It's depressing that American politics has been so distorted by people with guns you can write a song gathering them together, and not even have enough space in the title to mention all the deaths you're mourning.

It was the killing of Bobby that prompted the writing of this track, but he doesn't even get a look in until the fourth verse:

Although Marvin Gaye does the definitive version, the original was a Dion b-side (because nothing honours a dead hero like giving him a b-side to Daddy Rollin').

[Buy: Marvin Gaye's version
Dion's version

[Part of

Some seconds with Kennedy: Steinski's Mass Media

Sure, anyone can write a song about Kennedy. But using actual reportage to recreate the murder of Kennedy - and his killer? That's pro work, that is. Steinski pulled it off, and then gave the track away for free on an NME covermount.


Also: this is a homemade video which lifts the format above its usual level.

[Buy: The Motorcade Sped On]

[Part of Some seconds with Kennedy]

Some seconds with Kennedy: The Human League

Astonishingly, someone on SongMeanings insists that this is:

No, no it isn't. This, Phil, is what you get when you hope people will be able to work out the meaning of the lyrics without adding "in Dallas" to the lyrics every third line.

[Buy: Seconds]

[Part of Some Seconds With Kennedy]

Some seconds with Kennedy: The Wedding Present

You have to wonder: if Zapruder hadn't been there with his camera, would Kennedy's assasination still hold quite the fascination it does today?

Anyway, the shot that was heard around the world has been reverberating through music ever since, and today, let us enjoy our breakfasts accompanied by some cheery songs about a man having his head smashed open by a bullet, shall we?

Kennedy gave The Wedding Present their first bona fide hit.

It's also been covered by Kerbdog

[Buy: Kennedy by the Wedding Present]

More Kennedy-related songs:
Human League - Seconds
Steinski's Mass Media - The Motorcade Sped On
Dion/Marvin Gaye - Abraham, Martin & John
Saxon - Dallas, 1PM
Tori Amos - Jackie's Strength
Luke Powers - I Saw John Kennedy
Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5

Thursday, November 21, 2013

James Arthur didn't keep his promise to quit Twitter

James Arthur and Lucy Spraggan having a Twitter fight about homophobia. This never happened in the old days of talent shows - you didn't get Pam Ayres and Lena Zavaroni squaring up over the Biafran War, did you?

Obviously, Arthur is on the wrong side of the argument. Spragggan called him out on his "it's not gay bashing because I rapped it" logic from last week and Arthur, despite his quitting of Twitter last week, felt the need to come back and defend himself:

He then called Lucy ‘just another narrow minded person in this narrow minded country with narrow views’ and added that she could ‘say whatever you like on you’re Twitter [sic].
Yeah, how narrow minded can you be, Spraggggan? With your 'homophobic bullying can lead people to kill themselves' viewpoint, you're really making it difficult for people like Arthur to enjoy his freedom to call people "fucking queers". I mean, did you not read the story, Spragggggan? He only called a straight person queer - how could that possibly be homophobic?

Arthur then underlines that he has the facts on his side:
‘My album sold 10 times youres in it’s first week so you can f*** off with you’re career sh**e… two faced fickle attention seeker. Dissapear [sic].’
It's actually true that every album you sell makes your facts a little more correct.

Although there is this fact:
And for you’re information my album was self-penned
That's true. James Arthur's album, also called James Arthur, was entirely self-written. James and James alone.

I say James Alone, but obviously Tom Barnes helped out a bit.

Tom and William Bell. They were the writers with James.

Tom and William, and of course Ben Kohn. But other than those three, it was all James own work.

James alone. And Tom and William and Ben. Oh, and Booker T Jones.

Tom, William, Ben, Booker and Pete Kelleher. Mustapha Omer, James Murray, Jonny Coffer, Wayne Hector, Ronald Bell and Robert Bell.

Tom, William, Ben, Booker, Pete, Mustapha, James, Jonny, Wayne, Ronald and Robert. Obviously, James needs a little help when he's writing his own album.

He also got some help from Salaam Remi, Arnthor Birgisson, Ina Wroldsen, Richard Stannard, Ash Howes, Bradford Ellis, J.J. Johnson, Tiago Carvalho, Shahid Khan, Emeli Sandé, Gustave Rudman, Ben Harrison, Phil Leigh, Matt Holmes, Marcos Palacios, Ernest Clark, Sean "Elijah Blake" Fenton, Eric Jackson, Steve Robson, Claude Kelly, Komi Al Hakam El Kaubaisy, Jerry (JL) Lang II, Phil Plested and Grace Ackerman.

James totally wrote his own album, along with thirty-five other people.

Mind you, who can blame him getting a bit of help? We've seen from his Twitter feed what happens when he's left alone to write for himself.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ed Miliband meets Union J

Typical Ed Miliband, eh, won't do anything unless the Unions are involved.


Actually, Ed Miliband was helping out with Daybreak's Toy appeal, and Union J thought they were meeting Jedward's dad.

Lily Allen: Wasn't she in the rag trade?

One of the stranger aspects of Lily Allen's Hard Out Here shotstorm has been that it happened at all. Hadn't she quit music for the fashion industry? How come she's back making music?

May or may not be related: Lucy In Disguise, Lily's fashion business, has been put into liquidation, apparently:

On Sunday, the Mail Online revealed that the brand's backer Aurora Fashions - which also owns Coast, Oasis and Warehouse - was "granted a compulsory winding up order against the company in the High Court earlier this year."

Aurora claims it was forced to take legal action after Lucy In Disguise failed to pay back a £100,000 debt in sufficient time. It is still owed £12,000.
Hang on a moment, though...

Lily's sister, Sarah Owen, who's running the shop day-to-day, points out the business is still trading:
Saddened and more than a little bit annoyed to read in the weekend papers that Lucy in Disguise is finished... Well, here I am at Lucy in Disguise, 48 Lexington Street, Soho, London with a shop full of customers trying on vintage classics – looking for that special outfit for Christmas!! I don’t’ think I’m dreaming, no they are definitely real people in a real shop.

It seems that the press can’t get enough of raking over old stories and trying to make something new out of it – strange really as this is what Lucy In Disguise does really well – creating fabulous new looks from fashion pieces from a bygone era!!

Just to put the record straight for everyone.... Yes, there were some financial problems back in 2011 and yes, a couple of ideas for the business didn’t really gel, BUT things have moved on since then.
In 2012, there was an attempt to wind up the company, but - ironically - the attempt failed because the person who turned up to present the order was badly dressed:
October 08 2012

A winding-up petition presented to the Court against Lucy in Disguise LLP was this morning dismissed by Chief Registrar Baister on a technicality.

The petitioner was represented by a solicitor from law firm Ellis Taylor. Unfortunately the solicitor was not appropriately attired in legal court dress and was refused audience and was therefore unable to address the Companies Court. As a result the petition was dismissed.

Nobody appeared at the Companies Court on behalf of Lucy in Disguise LLP which otherwise may have been able to obtain an order for costs of and occasioned by the petition against the petitioner.
There was another attempt in June 2013, and this was successful.

But, as we know from the HMV story, simply being put into liquidation doesn't mean the same thing as ceasing to trade.

So: something went wrong, and perhaps not quite so far back as might be suggested. But the second hand clothes shop? It's still in business.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roger Daltrey is an angry man

Roger Daltrey has announced that he will never vote for Labour again.

Why, Roger? Is it because a man with three houses voting for a party of social justice might be too much irony for you?

Depressingly, no: it turns out that it's foreign people upsetting him:

I will never, ever forgive the Labour Party for allowing this mass immigration with no demands on what people should be paid.
Didn't Labour introduce the minimum wage which, pretty much, is a demand on what people shou... oh, hang on; he hasn't finished.
I will never forgive them for destroying the jobs of my mates because they allowed their jobs to be undercut with stupid thinking on Europe, letting them (immigrants) all in, so they can live 10 to a room working for Polish wages.
This might sound unlikely, but it turns out that Pete Townshend has been replaced with ten Poles. Shocking.

I could pick Daltrey's argument apart, but frankly, Daniel Knowles dismissed this tired old whinge in the Telegraph pretty comprehensively:
Here's what the Migration Advisory Committee goes on to say:
But this possible displacement of British workers only holds for those migrants who have been here for under five years. Both EU and non-EU migrants who have been in the UK for over five years are not associated with displacement of British born workers. Between 1995 and 2010 employment of such working age migrants rose by approximately 2.1 million. The associated displacement of British born workers was, on our own calculations, around 160,000 of the additional 2.1 jobs held by migrants, or about 1 in 13.
There are some reasons to worry about immigration. The evidence is ambiguous, but it's not unreasonable to think some foreigners may be coming to claim welfare. There is also a cultural argument, and while I wouldn't make it, not everyone who does is a racist or a bigot; Ed West frequently makes the case convincingly. But while it is reasonable to be worried about immigration, it is simply not true to suggest that "foreigners are stealing our jobs" or that immigration is responsible for unemployment. And those who do, in defiance of the evidence, make me wonder about their real motivations.
Even someone who worries that perhaps foreign people are coming to the UK to get access to cheap-ish prescriptions and IDS' welfare disaster doesn't buy that they're stealing jobs, and wonders if there might not be some sort of other agenda at work here.

But Roger doesn't have a problem with the foreign people he's singling out and unfairly claiming are driving British nationals into penury:
"I've got nothing against the Poles at all but that was a political mistake and it made me very angry and the people who get it in the neck are the immigrants and it's not their fault."
You know the best way to help those people who are given a hard time? How about not standing up and yelling that they're undercutting wages and causing mass unemployment when it really isn't true, Roger?

Interestingly, Daltrey doesn't seem to have a problem with the bits of the EU settlement which made it as easy and cost-effective for The Who to play Paris and Amsterdam as Birmingham and Glasgow.

Katy Perry: Putting the very planet in peril

Katy Perry's Prism album comes with a piece of paper encrusted with seeds. Plant this album.

It's turned out to be a terrible idea, though - not just because it's a rip-off of Richard Brautigan's 1968 poetry book, but because it's dangerous. A letter in the Guardian at the weekend from the International Plant Protection Convention explains:

Regrettably, the album was manufactured and sold internationally along with seeds of unidentified origin, which has caught the attention of the IPPC and our member national plant protection organisations around the world. Although the distribution of seeds by Ms Perry, as evidenced by her Twitter account, was to "spread the light", our work focuses on ensuring the safe trade of plants and plant products and, most importantly, protecting plants from harmful pests and diseases to protect food production and the environment.

We cannot turn a blind eye to Prism and its possible repercussions. Seeds could easily introduce an invasive new species to an environment, like the wood-boring beetle, resulting in widespread destruction. Depending on the species of flower inside Prism's seed paper, the risks may be small, but commercial movement of seeds into many countries is subject to assessment of those risks, restrictions and prohibitions. The introduction of pests can results in millions of dollars in damage, and some pests can never be eradicated.
An album promo campaign which never, ever stops eating all your seed corn. Puts Avril Lavigne doing interviews pretending to still be 16 in a kindlier light, doesn't it?

Australia has already flagged the record as a biosecurity hazard, and while they're taking it seriously, they can't hide a ripple of excitement that there's finally a showbiz glow attached to the normally grey world of not destroying the planet:
[Vanessa Findlay, Australia's chief plant protection officer] says she cannot recall a time where the Department of Agriculture and pop music have crossed paths.

"It's caused quite a stir around here. We've had lot of people walking around the halls talking about the Katy Perry CD," she said.

"Most people are excited to think that there's an attachment between biosecurity and someone as popular as Katy Perry."

And she says employees with kids have found themselves the source of some unexpected attention.

"I think most of us are famous at schools around Australia at the moment because [kids are saying] 'my mum and dad are working with Katy Perry'," she said.
And, hey, if it takes a beetle destroying Australia to make that happen, that's a price worth paying, right?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

James Arthur explains: he's a rapper, not a homophobe

After James Arthur's surprisingly homophobic rap from a couple of days back comes the attempt PR fightback. You'll recall Arthur called another musician "a fucking queer", so it's quite a hole he's got to dig himself out of.

It might be best to be careful how you go about it, James. I mean, you don't want to just crash in and send a bunch of ill-considered Tweets.

In a series of tweets which have now been deleted, Arthur apologised for using the homophobic slur...
The Mirror has published the tweets, in which Arthur commented: "I just have to say I'm extremely disappointed in myself for being so naive with the diss track I made for an unknown rapper recently."
I think we can all understand where he's coming from - weren't we all young and naive once, calling people "fucking queer" in all innocence?

Arthur's really off to a bad start here, because he's supposed to be contrite, but he's actually rather elegantly including a sly dig at Micky Worthless. Pulling a deft move like that might be ill-advised if you're going to try and argue you didn't really know what you were doing.

But sorry, James: You were telling us how calling someone a fucking queer is alright, yes?
I Would just like to make it completely clear that it was not meant in anyway as a reference to homosexuality
Oh, that's okay then. It was one of those queerbashing that isn't a bashing of queers.

Hang on a moment, what?
I realise where the term has come from in meaning
Yes, you would. Because what else could you have meant by it?
but used in the context of the rap battles I have grown up with it has come to mean something completely different
Ah, James. I see: we thought you'd used a gay slur aimed at a straight man because you thought it was a way of attacking him, but actually you were trying to create a teaching moment for the rest of us who hear straight people yelling "queer" and think we know exactly what's going on.

Let's look at this in the context of those rap battles Arthur has grown up on - presumably he means the ones on Pokemon and Tracy Beaker, where they're always calling each other 'fucking queers' - and see how the context helps, shall we?
That said, I understand why it could cause offence and that definitely wasn't my intention.
You were trying to insult a man by calling him gay. In what way was the intention not to be offensive?
Some of the things said in this rap can be mistaken for homophobic slurs
Yeah, that's the funny thing about 'fucking queer' - it's surprising how often that gets mistaken for a homophobic slur in this day and age. Why, I've pretty much stopped writing 'you fucking queer' in Christmas cards these days as people take it all wrong when they open them.
and I assure you homophobia is something I do not believe in
James, given you're clearly a stupid man, I wouldn't be surprised to discover gravity is something you don't believe in. But that doesn't stop your toast soldiers from falling on the floor when you drop them.
I have many many gay friends
You might want to check your voicemail before you assert this so firmly.

Val Doonican used to claim at the start of his BBC One show that "some of his best friends are songs". We would believe him. You know why? Because he hadn't spent the day before running up and down the street yelling out "Max Bygraves is such a cloaca he's like a fucking song."

All you're really doing here, James, is compounding the crime by telling us you've got friends who you're prepared to sell out and trample on in order to score a few points against a rapper. "I have gay friends" merely expands the list of people you've upset, it doesn't get you off the hook. They're not your offence beards.

But sorry, before you told us how many gay friends you have but apparently have never spoken to, you were going to educate us on how in the case of calling someone a fucking queer, the context makes it alright.
In rap feuds/rap disses the words I used have a different intent.
Perhaps it's intended as a term of praise?
This is a straight man I was attacking.
You realise that is kind of the reason why it's offensive? That you think calling a straight man "gay" is a dis. You do understand that is the whole point of why you are so far in the wrong here? Surely?

A straight man who littered his track...
But you're a straight man, too, James.
... with severe homophobic slurs towards me.
Well, why didn't you say so? That's alright then. Micky Worthless recorded a rap which flung homophobic insults at you. You returned in kind.

Except you've just been explaining to us rubes that when people use gay slurs in rap battles, they're not actually gay slurs at all. So if you are defending yourself as not actually having used any gay slurs, how come when Worthless does it, these words suddenly ARE slurs, and so terrible they justify you calling him a queer in return?
Like I said though it was a rap diss
That isn't an excuse. It sounds like you've got one of those beliefs - like 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' or 'you can't get pregnant the first time' or 'it doesn't count if you don't kiss them afterwards' - that might offer some sort of befuddled justification in your head but doesn't actually have any basis in any law, whether the Code Napoleon, Law of the Jungle or natural law.

James, you're an idiot homophobic asshat. And just so we're clear: I don't have any idiot homophobe asshat friends, and I'm not calling you that in a rap dis style.

Gimme a Shelter compilation

Given that the government seems to be hoping homelessness is a side-effect of house prices not going up enough, the work done by Shelter is more important than ever.

But did you ever wish you could help Shelter while listening to some indie music?

Now you can: simply download Music For A Good Home 2 while slipping at least five quid to Shelter, and you'll help move the debate on the lack of affordable housing on a bit further than, well...

... let's say some stunts might, shall we, and leave it at that?

The album includes Ride being remixed by Portishead, Sennen, Four Tet and Beak>. There is no appearance by Grant Shapps.

This week just gone

The most-popular stories published in 2003:

1. What the pop papers say: Brody Dalle, John Lydon
2. NME awards shortlist 2003
3. What the pop papers say: London News Review; Observer Music Monthly; The Word
4. What the pop papers say: Ringo Starr to track Santa
5. Rose West decides not to marry the bloke from Slade
6. RIP: Kevin Macmichael of Cutting Crew
7. What the pop papers say at Christmas
8. Review of Channel 4's Morrissey biography
9. Avril Lavigne keeps it clean
10. All the radio stations on Sky in February 2003 reviewed

These came out this week:

Cate LeBon - Mug Museum

Download Mug Museum

Microdisney - Everybody Is Fantastic

Wooden Shjips - Back To Land

Kim Wilde - Wilde Winter Songbook

Download Wilde Winter Songbook

Erasure - Snowglobe