Saturday, January 25, 2014

Courtney Love cleared in the case nobody was calling Twibel

There's a lot of guff being wafted around the decision in the libel action bought against Courtney Love by her former attorney Rhonda Holmes. The LA Times both claims this to be a the case people were calling "Twibel" (they weren't) and that it's somehow a landmark.

But, really, it's not that much of a landmark:

A jury of six men and six women listened to eight days of testimony and statements, then deliberated for just three hours. They determined that although Love's statement had a natural tendency to injure Holmes' business, they did not believe she knew the statement was false.
There's nothing different about this from the finding in hundreds of similar cases; the only vaguely noteworthy thing about it is Courtney Love winning a case against her. That it concerns a Twitter message might make it, at best, a footnote.

But nothing has changed here; there are no sudden clarification of legal issues. It's a bog standard libel action that has failed on the same test used by juries to settle generations of perceived slights.

Justin Bieber proclaims... something

There might be better way to proclaim your innocence:

"What more can they say," wrote the recently troubled pop star along with a split image of himself and the King of Pop; one half of the image shows Bieber sitting on top of a SUV after leaving police custody, while the other side shows Jackson standing on top of a vehicle in Santa Monica, waving to fans after his infamous "not guilty" plea to charges of child molestation.
I'm not sure if I'd been filmed driving car way too fast, I'd decide the best way to comeback is by comparing myself with someone who never shifted the taint of behaving oddly with kids. But, hey, Justin, whatever works.

What's more interesting is that Rolling Stone still refer to Jackson as "the King Of Pop", despite that being a nickname he chose for himself and one that - by the time he died - should have been more honestly downgraded to perhaps an Earldom.

Bookmarks: Backstreet Boys

What's the appeal of the Backstreet Boy cruises? Torie Bosch - who once ran a BSB fanfic site - went on to find out. Turns out, when you cross into international waters, for some people it wipes out the passage of time. The whole thing is on Buzzfeed:

Normally, being in line like this for such a long time, without my iPhone, would feel hopelessly awkward — I’m a terrible conversationalist even with old friends. Which is one of the reasons the Backstreet Boys became so core to my life: It gave me something to talk about with people (online, at least, where I spent most of my time). Every person here delights in sharing her BSB story. They compare notes about recent concerts, about their most pivotal experience — and about the judgment they face from others. Everyone — whether in their twenties or fifties — has been asked condescendingly, “Aren’t you a little old for this?” Sometimes they scoff with pride: Heather, a British woman in her late fifties who now lives in Canada, pooh-poohed, “People expect me to be sitting with my hair in curlers and knitting at my age. Ain’t gonna happen.” Sometimes, it’s said softly and wistfully, like when a woman discusses how scornful her grown kids were when she told them she was going on the cruise.

Good reasons for not going to the Grammys

Regina Spektor is up for her first Grammy this weekend. Is she going to go?


This isn't a principled stand against the idea of judging music and awarding prizes in this way.

She's got a reason:

"Hi there friends! I was so happy to be nominated for my first Grammy!" she wrote. "I would have definitely gone to L.A. for all the fun, in a party dress and with bells on, if I wasn't so super pregnant at the moment. (!!!!!!!!!!). Jack and I are very excited to be expecting a brand new human together!!!"
Of course, this might just have been a very clever ruse to avoid having to go to the Grammys, albeit one that calls for almost as much commitment as Keith Moon's "pretending to be dead for 35 years" Grammy swerve plan.

Friday, January 24, 2014

CNN thinks you might be having difficult conversations this weekend

Good old CNN. It's trying to help you. More "trying" than "help", though:

"Mummy... can I ask you something?"
"I see you've read the newspaper. It's time to talk about Justin Bieber..."
"Jesus, mummy, I'm six; I like grew out of Bieber four years ago. Guy's a shit-hawk, I get that. You think we don't have cock-bundles like Bieber at school? I was going to ask about Syria..."

Still, given that CNN's Kelly Wallace has taken the time to prep this, we should at least pretend we don't think this article manages to pull of the strange feat of making an ever-expandable internet seem like a page has been wasted.
Parents should try to do more listening than talking, and ask kids what they think about Bieber's troubles, said Rachel Vail, a New York City mom of two and author of numerous books for kids and teens including her latest "Kiss Me Again."
The kids, of course, won't think anything, given that the only people who really have any thoughts about this are those struggling to fill celebrity columns.
"Scaffold their growing ability to think through complex issues like celebrity, entitlement, fame, substance abuse -- and really listen to their thoughts," said Vail, also on Facebook.
Oh, yeah. Kelly hasn't actually had an awkward conversation with Vail, she's just read something on Facebook.
"So often we think we have to have the correct answers and serve them up like so many inoculations to our kids. Being present and asking questions is sometimes the wiser, more respectful, and ultimately more empowering route."
"Being present". Well, yes, I guess that'd be better than standing at the end of the garden and shouting 'what do you think about Bieber?' through a loudhailer.
There's a lot more of this stuff, calling in several people for their views.
As for Bieber's teenage fans, Dean Schmidt, the Denver radio personality, believes they shouldn't stop liking him.

"And I'll go one step further and say they shouldn't judge him," she said. "Every person needs love, so I'm not going to tell a child to stop loving a person (celebrity or not) just because they've made some bad decisions."'
Hang about... isn't judging someone and stopping loving someone two different things? Isn't it wrong to suggest to kids that they shouldn't have an opinion on whether Bieber was in the right? That seems a bit strange.

Still: if you're parent, read up. That way you'll be fully prepared for the conversation your kids won't be wanting to have anyway.

Newsround, by the way, are running 'How to wind up your parents and make them ever more embarrassed by pretending you're upset about Justin Bieber'. Step three is to ask 'and why did Miley Cyrus rub her lady innards on the big ball?'

Last FM tries something else, hopes it doesn't smell desperate

Last FM hasn't exactly been thriving in the last couple of years, what with Spotify basically doing what it did, but much better. (Because, face it, if you want to hear the Dum Dum Girls, you want to hear the Dum Dum Girls, not a bunch of bands that other people who wanted to hear the Dum Dum Girls listened to when they weren't able to listen to the band they wanted to hear.)

But now, Last FM have revived their player. They've got a question to ask:

“Ever wondered what radio would be like with video?"
Well, no, because (i) that'd be MTV and (ii) that wouldn't be radio.

It's like asking 'ever wondered what a car would be like with two floors, eighty seats and a timetable which requires it stop every so often to pick up passengers', and hoping that people won't notice what used to be a car is now a bus.

So the player - or at least the beta version - is now throwing out YouTube videos instead of music streams. MusicAlly reframes the question in a more honest way:
Although from a business perspective, it’s more about wondering what a personal radio service would be like with YouTube absorbing the licensing costs.

In the UK, Last FM remains twice as popular as MySpace, but... well, that's not saying very much, is it? It's also more popular than kidney stones. But there's hope, reckons MusicAlly:
Plenty of work to do for a comeback, then, but it’s worth noting that if was launching in its current form today, as a YouTube-scraping personal radio service with big-data features in the background, it’d be all over the tech blogs as the Next Big Digital Thing.
Yes, because if there's one thing YouTube is lacking, it's access to a massive data-crunching operation crammed with detail about people's tastes and behaviour. If you ignore it being part of Google, obviously. If you factor that in, it's not entirely clear what Last FM might have to bring that's new.

Lance Bass tells us he is unsurprised at Bieber's arrest

Lance Bass saw it coming, you know. He knew there was trouble ahead for Bieber. He'd even shared his worries with dozens of listeners to his radio programme:

"I was not surprised at all," he told us at tonight's Delta Airlines pre-Grammys party in West Hollywood. "I host my own talk show on Sirius XM so we've been following the Biebs for quite a few months. The spiral down. So no, we called it a long time ago."
Yes. Yes. "We've been following the Biebs". That's a thing he said.

It might be worth wondering if, following someone on a downward spiral going 'he's heading for the bottom of a downward spiral' actually takes much in the way of predictive powers.

You might also ask if there was anyone at all on the planet who was expecting Justin Bieber to suddenly start a course at his local community college, start dating that nice girl from the next street and generally sort his life out.

Indeed, Channel 4 had already announced a series - "Justin Bieber's Further Descent Into Absolute Dickwaddery" - so obvious was this happening.

Indeed, three States had already got Bieber to pose for mugshots as it'd just save time when the inevitable occured.

Indeed, this year's MTV Awards had already negotiating with The Corrections Corporation of America as they're expecting to need some sort of live link to the rec room this year.

Lance Bass is very much a man watching the sunrise going "knew this would happen. I said the sun hadn't spiralled off into space, never to return."

Still, Lance - having called it - knows what Bieber needs now:
Like I said, he just needs a little chill time to snap him into reality.
Absolutely, Lance. When anyone gets loaded and drives too fast, putting people at real risk of life-changing injuries or death, the solution is booking into a day spa.

It was different for Lance, of course, because he wasn't the popular one in NSync ("was in a group"):
I feel for him because I know exactly what he is going throug," Lance said of Bieber. "I've seen it with Britney, with Lindsay, with all the other teen stars out there. It was easier for me because I was in a group, I had four of my best friends knocking me down when I needed it and a great family. But with solo artists, it's hard because you got a lot of yes people around you and there like, 'Yeah, that's great.' They'll never tell you no. When no one tells you no, your reality is so out the door."
"Hey, I'm going to get drunk and drive too fast - good idea, yeah?"
"Excellent idea, Mr Justin. How about something from the drug cupboard to take the edge off?"

I wonder if Lance's interpretation is as mistaken as you'd expect from someone who has a show on Sirius XM. Surely the problem Bieber will have had is not people saying yes, but rather - as he was a chunk of marketable meat that needed to be TeenBeat friendly - he's been surrounded by a lot of no; and when he finally broke free of that, it's an explosion.

Still, there's something that Bass gets right:
Bass added of Bieber's low jail bail amount of $2,500, "I have a feeling if it was any other person they'd be in jail right now."
Especially as most people can't easily post two and a half grand bail.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fa loves Papa Don't Preach: Madonna's dolphin house only a glint in an architect's eye

It would have been easy to believe that Madonna might own a house in Dubai, one which had dolphins in a tank swimming by the living room.

It sounds like the sort of thing that someone with too much money and a sometimes questionable ethical approach might do. And there was a celebrity architect, too, happily sharing the details:

The news came to the fore, when a profile of celebrity architect Joaquín Torres, revealed the plan and a rendering of Madonna’s new Dubai pad, complete with a dolphinarium in her living room.

Torres is best known to have designed the homes of high profile sporting stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and a majority of the Real Madrid team; also, let’s not forget styling the plush villa for Hollywood’s golden couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
Making it worse, the first of Madonna's acolytes who made it to the internet launched a defence which was based on the dolphins being shared with neighbours.

Eventually, the story started to fall apart:
Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton carried a statement by the Grammy winner’s rep, which simply said: “Despite reports to the contrary, Madonna does not own a home in Dubai with dolphins.”
Of course, this is actually denying that Madonna and some dolphins co-own a home in Dubai, something which yet hadn't even been suggested.

Torres then made things worse, by taking to Twitter to talk more about the house. And the dolphins. Oh, those beautiful, beautiful dolphins:
When Twitter user Julian posed the question to Torres, whether he has built a home with a ‘dolphin area included’, the architect did not deny this.
He replied: “Yes, we did.”

When Stephanie Wireman asked whether the dolphins were captive or free, Torres simply stated: “Captive.”
Of course they'd be captive. You can't have dolphins wandering round the house, sticking their salty flippers into the cookie jar and constantly putting the water polo on the television.

But Twitter decided to push this point.
However, when Shona Polona asked him whether the house has been physically constructed, Torres further explained: “No, it has not been built. It is just a project.”

He later added to a similar query: “This is just a concept. I am not the developer I am just the designer.”
So that's "yes we did build a home with dolphins trapped in it, if by build you mean 'draw a picture of a house with some dolphins looking through a window".

It is of course ridiculous to think that Madonna would share her home with dolphins. They'd be ripped to shreds by the three Siberian tigers she keeps in her shed.

Listen with No Rock: Slum Of Legs

An email arrives, suggesting I might want to listen to a thing. That happens a lot, but the thing is a cassette/digital album from Brighton. And they describe themselves like this:

I never know how to describe ourselves other than pop-noise and we love the Velvet Underground. The tape is super lo-fi and was recorded on 4 track over an old Jim Reeves cassette by Tom House from Charlottefield.
Obviously, recording over Jim Reeves will add the sound of distant drums to your final mix.

It all ended up sounding like this:

You don't have to go with the tape version, but you should at least make sure you buy the demo in some format, because it will improve your life. Guaranteed.

Slum Of Legs. A buzzy, fuzzy wake-up sound. Yesyesyes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vivian Girls to play two more shows, stop

Oh, bugger, no:

Brooklyn, New York, March 2007: we started making music together and became what we know as Vivian Girls. It's been a long and crazy journey in the seven years since, and we feel as though the time has finally come to let our band rest in peace. It's been an experience that we'll look back on and cherish and we'd like to thank you for sharing it with us. We have had such an amazing time being a band, touring the world, releasing records and meeting all of you.

We've booked some ALL AGES shows as a goodbye. The first will be on February 14th at The Church on York in LA. The second will be on March 1st at Death by Audio in Brooklyn.
This is the sort of thing that this means the end of:

And this:

And this:

Good night, and good luck, Vivian Girls.

Bookmarks: Kathleen Hanna

You might have enjoyed Everett True's interview with Kathleen Hanna in the Guardian last week; today he's posted the original transcript to Collapse Board:

When I was 13 me and my best friend Angela Cheever were out on a Friday night, hanging out at video arcades, playing Ms. Pac Man, flirting with boys from our school etc…While walking from this place called ‘Pins and Cues’ to ‘Jerry’s Sub Shop’ I noticed a man was following us. We were near the road but there were no cars and when I told Angie about the man we both started walking really fast and so did he, and then we ran and he started chasing us. Nothing was open but we saw a light on at a funeral home so we ran up the stairs and started pounding on the doors screaming. No one came, but the guy freaked out and backed off. I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if we didn’t run and he would’ve caught up with us.

From puberty on, I felt like me and my friends were always running. From abusive Dads, men on the streets, or even running away from mean things people would say to us that got stuck in our heads. But running meant we thought we were worth saving. That’s why the record is called Run Fast.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beats gets going

Overpriced headphone manufacturer Beats has taken a step closer to launching its streaming music service, with an app going live in the Apple app store:

The service, which goes up against the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and iTunes Radio — as well as Mega CEO Kim Dotcom‘s new music streaming service Baboom – will cost $9.99 per month for unlimited streaming from its catalog of more than 20 million songs.
Besides the ability for journalists to mention Dr Dre in articles about the service, it's not entirely clear what Beats believes makes it different from other streaming services.

The company's business models so far has been to encourage conspicuous consumption - people pay over the odds for oversized headphones so they can wear them on the tube or bus. It's not obvious how this will work for streams of music.

Communists finally accept Lady GaGa

If you needed more evidence that Lady GaGa's early edge has long since been lost, she's being allowed back into China. CNN reports:

[I]n China, the pop diva's songs had been on a blacklist since 2011, when the Culture Ministry deemed her work to be "creating confusion in the order of the online music market, and damaging the nation's cultural security."
Lady Gaga last week responded with enthusiasm to the lifting of the ban on her Twitter feed.
"China has been given the go ahead singer I'm so excited!!!! The Chinese Government approved 'ARTPOP' to be released in China with all 15 songs! Next I hope I can come to perform!," she said on her Twitter account.
It's bittersweet, isn't it? On one hand, you're getting access again to a massive market. On the other hand, nothing says 'mostly harmless' like an endorsement from Politburo.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rockobit: Fergie Frederiksen

Fergie Frederiksen, singer with a number of bands, has died.

His greatest claim to fame was his period as singer with Toto - during the Isolation era - but he also fronted Trillion, LeRoux and World Classic Rockers. He also had a brief solo career under the surprising name David London.

His spell with Toto came to end due to not-very-eumphemistically-described "substance issues"; peace was made in 2007 when he was invited to join the band onstage to rattle through Africa.

Fergie Frederiksen was 62; he'd had lung cancer.

Liam Payne sends tweet praising gay-hostile clan; seems surprised at outcome

Liam Payne out of One Direction sent a cheery tweet to Duck Dynasty on Saturday:

This is one of those innocent looking tweets which falls firmly into the ill-advised part of the behaviour spectrum, what with Phil Robertson out of Duck Dynasty having shared his views on homosexuality a few weeks back:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," Robertson said before paraphrasing a Bible verse. "Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
So, is Liam endorsing this homophobic bullshit?

Of course not, or at least the tweet doesn't have any evidence of that. Bless him, he's not likely to be appearing on Celebrity Mastermind any time soon, and it's probable that he was just sending a friendly tweet to another unfathomably popular person who had their faces on Christmas wrapping paper this year.

No, really:
However, even Liam must have spotted all the "proud to be a redneck" guff and might have wanted to think twice before praising a group who not only don't believe in evolution but appear to be trying their hardest to reverse it.

But what's done is done, and since Liam can't take the warm greeting back, all he needs to do is explain what he was thinking.

So, Liam. You're a fan of Duck Dynasty. They're a bit homophobic, and some parts of the internet believe that you're endorsing their views.
"Oh my god can someone literally not be a fan if a show without bring labeled WTf I bought dinner the other day it made a news story.
It's unquestionably true that, as part of those piles of money you keep getting, there's an almost intolerable level of interest in your doings.

You might think that if you go out and buy a burrito and that gets picked over, that'd make you think carefully about saying 'you know what I like? That show where everyone threatened to pull out if the network suspended the guy who said that being gay was like fucking animals', so I'm not sure pretending to be Vicky Pollard here is going to help.
"What I gotta do to please you bastards I'm a 20 year old just living life as you did when u where twenty but in extraordinary circumstances.
Yeah. Quite a lot of people who are twenty are quite a way through their degree, Liam. If you were thirteen, or eight, "I am so young" could be fair enough. But twenty years old?
"I can't do anything without being judged u try that and write about it."
Again, if this was about the supper you chose the other night, you might have a fair point. But this is hugging a group who have trilled that black people were happier before the civil rights moment. I think it's the sort of thing you might expect observers to have a view about.
"Sick of all this bull il be back again when the freedom of speech law is back and people don't believe to much into the bulls*** they read."
Aaaaaah. Freedom of speech law. That'd be the law that you and Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty are free to say whatever they like, but nobody else has the right to call you on it.

There's not much indication he understands why people might want to ask him for clarification on his views.

There's not much evidence there was much thought at all.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Listen with No Rock: Dregs

Completely unaffiliated with the 1990s Liverpool punk fanzine of the same name, meet Dregs.

Actually, I say they're unaffiliated - I know nothing about them beyond their Bandcamp page - they're called Suzi / Georgina / Bryony / Kaila and are based in London. And this is their demo:

This week just gone

The most-read stories from this week:

1. Alfie Boe humiliates people in his audience
2. Alex James comes up with 'Britpop' gag
3. Miley Cyrus might force ratings onto pop videos
4. An Alfie Boe fan responds: it's all a bit of fun
5. Ricky Wilson was bored by the Kaiser Chiefs, too
6. NME Awards shortlist
7. CBC discovers Girlfriend In A Coma might not be a jolly song
8. What is the Gary Barlow Effect
9. HMV downsizing in progress
10. An opportunity to think about Rod Stewart having sex

The interesting releases this week:

Tackhead - For The Love Of Money

Download For The Love Of Money

September Girls - Cursing The Sea

Download Cursing The Sea

East India Youth - Total Strife Forever

Download Total Strife Forever