Saturday, July 12, 2003

YOU CAN'T TRUST A THING YOU READ: Ananova says it, so it must be true: 25,000 people had sex at Glastonbury. And they heard it in The Sun, so it must really be true. And The Sun got it from nme. And where did the nme get that figure from? It's own survey. Now, we told the nme we'd had sex on Thursday night at Glastonbury. And we hadn't even gone. The other 24,998 we can't be certain about, but we're assuming that that's equally cod.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

TWENTY FOUR HOURS OR SO: We're not going to be adding anything of interest tomorrow (so, no change there then) as No Rock is going minibreaking and taking it's ill body off to bed. We'll leave you with the following to mull: Junichi Saga has clearly, uh, 'inspired' a great chunk of Bob Dylan's lyrics - rather than railing and taking him to court and demanding money (a la Cat Stevens, say), Saga has just suggested that a credit might be nice if the album gets repressed; Megaman nothing to do with stabbing of Dizzee Rascal, but if he'd stayed at home and helped bandmate Kaish keep Battersea Zoo open he might stop being in the neighbourhood of trouble; and isn't the supposed Britney revelation that she fucked Justin Timberlake until his eyes bled about as surprising as police investigating a disturbance arresting the nearest member of the So Solid Crew first?

See you on Saturday.

FIGURES?: On this morning's Today, Jay Berman of the IFPI (the global equivalent of the BPI/RIAA) turned up to back up the figures for the size of the pirate CD market. The figures themselves are suspect - apparently, one billion pirate CDs sold last year - which is a hugely unlikely-sounding 'one for every sixth person on the planet'; they also from this extrapolate that the pirate CD market is worth three billion pounds. Really? An average burned CD changes hand for three quid? Bear in mind this includes everyone who copies their old Jeff Buckley for a mate as a favour, or to apologise for having thrown up on their shoes; and that this is worldwide figure, we'd suggest that the average price for each thieved album is a lot lower than that. Berman (and we're sorry if that's not his actual name, they didn't give a spelling) then conjured images of CD piracy funding other crime (he didn't say osama has been flooding the market with S Club 8 singles, but you could join the dots) and suggested that garages were full of computers with "a thousand machines [tied] together", like a CD-R Matrix. Sure, there are some large scale operators, and, actually, we can understand why the record companies are pissed about their activities. But... as with downloads, how can we take them seriously when they're desperately feeding out pure nonesense of this sort? It seems to me that Mr. X, my friend who knows a bloke who sells the odd cd round his office, is going to feel less, not more guilty because his bloke only flogs a few, and he clearly isn't using it to fund international terrorism. The more grotesque the record industry paint the pirates, the harder they make it for people to recognise them.

STUDT WALL: So, we've finally got a chance to hear the next step in manufactured pop; that of the artist who is almost totally like a "proper" artist. If you want a food analogy, you have your textured vegetable protein, which looks and tastes totally made up (Girls Aloud), and then you have your Quorn, which is always meant to be exactly like the product its trying to replace. Quorn, of course, is Amy Studt and like the great mushroom-style meat product, you're liable to get gassy if you have too much at a time.

She is an okay singer, in a production-line-Liz-Phair sort of way (you could say the same about New Liz Phair, of course) but there is just still a hint that this a project that her heart isn't quite in. You know the way Sheryl Crowe can belt out that one about being in a bar with a bloke and his matches and makes it sound like it's a real place? That's what's missing from Studt's work. She's not as obviously stage-scenery and no backing as Avril, but the whole thing lacks conviction.

Of course, what's frustrating is that about fifteen years ago, round the era of Julia Fordham and the first coming of Tracy Chapman and Tanita Tickaram (and all the rest) there was no end of people who were producing this sort of stuff; not to fill some gap in a declining market, but because it was their music. At the time, the record industry didn't see much of a need for them and gradually you stopped getting girls turning up carrying guitars wanting to play. The result of their lack of support in the early 90s is that now the members of the BPI have decided that's where the profits are, they're forced to try and create a copy of something they could have had the original of. (You could make the same argument for a lot of other acts, too: Transvision Vamp to Jennifer Ellison; Alishas Attic to Tatu...)

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

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O, DIDO, DIDO: Okay, it's not the world's greatest palindrome, but its ours. We can't really say we've been panting with anticipation for the return of Rolo's sister - indeed, we'd come to terms with our assumption that she'd started to carve out a future in Dry Cleaning or ensuring the Value Yoghurts with the shortest date code are always at the front of the cooler, but it seems that she's been busy in the studio making new records.

Today, she emerged, blinking in the daylight, to take the first fruit to Jo Wylie on Radio One. This is appropriate, really, because we've always thought that Jo and Do have a lot in common - both blonde, obviously; both given a leg-up through a partnership with a man who knows his music but never smiles (Lammo and Eminem respectively); neither fulfilling a major, aching human need with their work but doing not unpleasant work in tricky roles in a functional manner (Jo: filling the gap between Sara Cox and Mark Radcliffe; Dido: giving Virgin Radio something to play when the computer insists its got to be a female vocalist, and they've already played Sk8r Boi and I'm With You that day).

That perhaps there's no real need for Dido to carry on actually producing music was demonstrated by the questions sent in by listeners, nearly all of which asked about other acts with which she's been associated one way or another (all of whom have moved on without her). Most sadly of all, asked if she's still in touch with Eminem Dido confirmed that she wasn't really much in touch with him to begin with but "if we were in the same place at the same time, I hope he'd say hi" - which, of course, starts to make her sound less like the collaborator on Stan and more like the protagonist.

And then - the new single; the first play of the first track from the new material. It's called White Flag, and while the "how apt" gag hovers before me, I'm going to reject it simply because in a real surrender, the flag gets to show a bit of life; gets waved about a bit. In the video for 'Here With Me', Dido sings while laying down on a sofa. It sounds like she's now assumed this position in the studio. This sounds a bit like the last stuff, only somehow fenced-in. A Dido less of a hunter, more of a caged beast. Sure, her voice is as sweet as ever, but the entire thing winds up just sounding really, really flat. A tune imprisoned, it slips desperate notes into its food begging for someone, anyone to give a decent remix and let it strut about a bit.

THEY CHECKED BEFORE CHICKS CHUCKED : Although, to be honest, we imagine the Congress would be a bit confused as to why a media conglomerate forcing them Bush-baiting Chicks of Dixie off the nation's airwaves would be a bad thing, it's actually interesting to see the head of Cummulus concede that, whatever his claims about the independence of his company's 250 stations across the US, erm, the actual decision was taken at HQ. Giving evidence at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, the splendidly named Lewis Dickey Jr suggested that all of his country stations wanted to stop playing the Dixie Chicks, but needed a "framework" from above to be able to do so. This we find fascinating: All fifty station managers decided spontaneously that the very mild rebuke Natalie Maines directed at Bush meant they should stop playing the band altogether? And these managers, running apparently independent stations, having come to such a conclusion were unable to merely drop the Dixie Chicks from their own playlists without a 'framework' from head office? How is that independent, exactly?

HOW MUCH DID YOU GET FOR YOUR SOULS?: Now, as we've said before, we drink Nescafe and eat KitKats and would love nothing more than to sink our teeth into a Crosse & Blackwell Christmas Pudding (with a jar of brandy butter) one last time, so we can't pretend that we're all moral and upstanding when it comes to the thorny issue of Nestle. However, the comapny's record on baby milk in Africa and its recent demands (later abandoned) that Ethiopa stops worrying about its bloody starving people and pop a large cheque through the company's letterbox means its a brave or foolish man who'd stand up and take the company's Francs.
So: is David Bowie being brave or foolish in appearing in ad for the company's Vittel Brand? And, indeed, shouldn't we have the feeling that we've been cheated that he's choosing to resurrect Ziggy Stardust for a mere TV commercial?

THE LAST LAP: Beyond the well-worn concept of shark-jumping, there's another way of categorising TV shows: the manner in which they leave the world. Some get yanked mid-season, never to return. Some, however, continue filming even after they've been told this series is the last, and its those which are most fascinating. Sometimes the sight of the grave spurs the team to greater highs - we like to think Buffy went out on one of these - and sometimes... well, there's a sense of just the producers just giving up and poking out any old rubbish as - hey - we're not going to get recommissioned anyway.

Which category do you think Sex And The City falls into? [Hint: They've just cast Geri Halliwell in an acting role.]

WE'RE ALL GOING ON A SUMMER HOLIDAY...: It seems our glorious Prime Minister has decided to holiday with Cliff Richard this summer, taking up the offer of the use of Cliff's Barbados home (which, we're sure, Sir Cliff doesn't use as any sort of tax-avoidance residence). We shouldn't be too surprised, we guess, at Tony choosing to throw himself into the hospitality of a man who was admired by the frankly dangerously batty Mary Whitehouse - the woman who cheerfully admitted she had a chat with God in Fleet Street (and, of course, the admiration was mutual - Cliff sending a tape of condolences to Whitehouse's memorial service. Still, it turns out that Cliff isn't as goody-goody and wholesome as we might have thought - "proper" Christians, it seems, have issues with him - Cliff can't say the word sin and won't tell Jehovahs Witnesses they'll burn for all eternity in hell and he supports the National Lottery. Whew. Sounds like Blair's in for a wild old time down in the sun, doesn't it?

Oh, and if you're looking for a suitable gift to take as a houseguest, how about a charming cross-stich portrait of your host?

WHAT DOES AVRIL DO?: Despite her insistence that all the Matrix team brought to the song Sk8R Boi was a spot of polish to her original storyline, Avril Lavigne doesn't seem especially phased that "The movie has nothing to do with me. I don't have any say in it. And no, I won't be in it." And yet the Matrix are hired as consultants and all. But if - as Avril insists - the original story was hers, wouldn't it have made it neccesary for her to be given at least a token role? Curious...

BEYOND DARKNESS: The album is at number two on the midweeks, and somehow I picture Justin sat at home screeching "one day, soon, you shall all see my power..."

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

THINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE DARKNESS: It'll make the Popbitch Sneerers (TM) as angry as some dogs that have had their butts poked with sticks, but the Darkness appear to be taking on genuine mythic status. Their HMV instore pulled one and half thousand people, a record for a new band appearance and a crowd that couldn't all have been from Fagin's gang hoping to pinch Geri Yoga videos in the confusion.

RADIO ONE ATTACKED: The British music industry is pushing for a French style homegrown quota system for Radio One, moaning about the amount of Beyonce and Eminem being played on the station. Again, then, the record industry doesn't take the obvious message - you're not producing the goods, boys - and instead starts whining and demanding special treatment. And how great would it be if by law Radio One had to choose to play Victoria Beckham rather than Beyonce, or Goldie in place of Eminem. What a fancy-happy-singy world we'd be living in then. But perhaps we should give them their desire, on the strict understanding that the UK music industry is also forced to stick to a quota, forcing them to cut the level of total bloody rubbish they produce to 80% of their output by 2008. But, hey, perhaps if they started to release better stuff, there'd be better stuff for the radio to play?

As an example of how lame the music industry is, one of the bands the Sean O'Brien, chair of Telstar, suggests would be helped by the introduction of a fixed level of UK artists on Radio One would be The Thrills. Uh - would that be the band from Dublin, by any chance? Added to which, since they're so obviously influenced by Americana, you could argue that a strict Brits rule would have crushed them before they even formed.

SWEETNESS: The boss of Capital Radio has said he'd never merge Capital with Clear Channel. He doesn't seem to realise this is like a convict saying that he'd never date Big Ron from Block B. Both Big Ron and Clear Channel aren't much interested in meetings of minds and courtship rituals. If they decide they want you, there'll be a hostile takeover from behind. And at the moment, Capital are probably the most exposed in the showers.

THE NEWS JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER: (That's except for readers in North America, who have their own misery): As if the news that Liam Gallagher could be off trying to choose between Molson and Labatts (and I can't wait for the first time he picks on a ice hockey player), paperwork has been signed that's going to keep Simon Cowell tied up in the states for most the next three years. Now all we need is Chris Moyles to get a big job with one of those Clear Channel stations in Mexico...

CHRISTINA TOLD TO PUT SOME CLOTHES ON, F'CR'SAKES: The difference this time is when MTV tells Christina Aguilera to put her trousers on, she does.

LET'S CLEAR THIS UP, THEN: Carl from The Libertines has given a definitive statement on what's happened between the band and Pete. ""I know Pete’s started sailing on the Albion to Arcadia with the intention of being back on surf. He’s got a bit of cabin fever. He hasn’t lost his faith. He’s getting better." Righto, then? Let's hope that's made things clear. He's going to start surfing when Albion reaches Arcadia.

SO, THAT'S FIVE THEN: In the middle of a piece about the companies who've formed to offer a 'thwart the downloaders' service, there's this: "One California company, NukePirates, wouldn't disclose its location (it uses a P.O. box) or size. "Right now, we're kind of an unknown," said Chuck Gurley, managing partner for the company, which tries to locate and close software piracy sites. "They don't know if I've got a staff of five or 50, which comes to be an advantage at times."
Now, we can think of absolutely no reason why a well-resourced operation designed to fear, intimdate and make people give up a course of action would choose to hide just how many people it has to deploy, apart from them not having that many. We could be wrong, but it sounds to us like its going to be closer to five than fifty.

But what really puzzles us is who'd actually pay for their services - yeah, we know it should be obvious, but it seems to us that if we ran a record company, and EMI or somebody was paying someone to try and bugger up the download networks, I wouldn't be rushing to pay someone else to do the exact same thing.

FURTHER EVIDENCE OF GOD BEING GOOD, VENGEFUL: Ted Nugent forced to run away... by fungus. Turns out that nature - presumably sick of having itself blasted to pieces by Ted - has hit back by destroying his home with various moulds. Now, we've not seen all of the current How Clean Is Your House series, but if they're looking for a celebrity version, there might be the show right there. Not quite as good as our first plan - a load of Moose gotten drunk, given guns and pointed in Nugent's direction - but it'll do.

I BELIEVE THE POLITE TERM IS 'CAREFUL': Shame on Justin Timberlake, who tried to save a couple of quid by palming off two tickets for his tour in lieu of paying to hire a bowling lane. After all, the poor sod who took 'em would have had to have sat through Christian Aguilera-Bukkake's set as well, so it's hardly a deal, is it?

Barbara McBride, the alley's manager, winningly managed to make him seem even more penny-pinching by giving him a discount on bowling shoe hire, which (for readers not au fait with bowling) is like a Crazy Golf Course doing the scorecards at half price.

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES: Details of Tommy Mottola's vanity project have seeped out into the world. Where most clapped out businessmen spend their days pottering about in the garden and reading up about The Great War, Mottola is going to spend his twilight years running the resurrected Casablanca records, former home The Captain and Tennille, the duetting vegetarians. The whole hobby is being bankrolled by Universal, and that must really be cheering up investors in its French parent group Vivendi. Since he left Sony under a bit of a cloud, Mottola has been showing off his talent for talent by running a Search for a Star show Vh-1, where his skill, contacts and indefinable ability to sniff out a winner has produced... erm... [cough]... Did we mention he knows what Mariah Carey looks like without her skirt on? Although, admittedly, that's not that unusual.

CORRECTION: THERE IS A GOD, HE IS VENGEFUL AND HE IS GOOD: People who go to see the Dave Matthews Band are smote by lightning, thereby proving God is a music fan. Robbie Williams was rumoured to be checking the EMI building has got lightning conducters.

AT LAST, WE CAN SAY SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE BRITISH TABLOIDS: Poor Nicole and Liam might have to go and move away because of the press. Apparently they're sick of being followed around and written up all the time (which is kind of funny, as until they went asqwarking to the papers today we'd not read anything about them with any prominence since... god, probably Patsy Kensit, actually.

We're not sure how amused the good people of Toronto will be at being cast as a place so desperate that it's used by her in the sense of "it's so serious, we might even go and live in Toronto."

But don't get too busy affixing bunting of joy to say tara to Liam just yet - apparently, Nat and Nicole's efforts to promote their album will keep them here for the time being. Listen, loves - it came out in bloody February. Anyone who wanted a copy would have bought it, and already swapped it for a Beyonce single long since. There's no point in you trundling about doing PAs in the Wigan MVC any more; you're not going to shift any more copies. No, you and Liam go off to Canada. We'll forward your post for you.

WILSON QUITS. SOMETHING ELSE. AGAIN: Tony Wilson is quitting the helm of Granada Reports again to, erm, do something else. Like running a campaign to get a regional assembly in the North West or taking a market stall to try and shift those last ten thousand The Wendys CDs or something.

NOBODY'S GETTING RICH? BUT THAT'S EXACTLY THE POINT: Billboard have done some sums on Apple's ninety-nine cent downloads, and complains that "nobody's getting rich." Well, not perhaps in the sense of taking home enough cash to afford the lawyers needed to make the BMG/Warner merger go through, but let's do some number crunching of our own. The Billboard figures reckon " on a typical 99 cent download sale, it is clear that all parties have thin margins. On average, the label is taking home 47 cents per track before accounting for production, marketing, promotion and other costs; the service provider is grossing 34 cents per track before technology, processing and distribution costs; and the artist takes 10 cents before paying out to producers and other collaborators. The publisher/songwriter share is 8 cents. That's assuming the label is selling tracks at a 65 cent wholesale rate and that the artist is receiving an album royalty rate with no deductions applied.
Right. The labels are making forty seven cents a track - admittedlty, that's not all profit. But every time someone logs into iTunes, downloads Born To Run, forty seven cents wings its way into the label's account. Yes, there are production, marketing and promotional costs to be borne, but even so - we doubt if it takes forty seven cents worth of adverts and polishing for every single download. And since everything on iTunes has already had a full and varied life beyond the service, the level of profits on these downloads works out even higher. And remember - that's forty seven cents on every tune. So, on a single's worth of downloads would be one dollar forty four. And that's not bad work when there's no distribution and storage and packaging to be coughed up.

Meanwhile, the performes are taking ten cents per download. There's been five million downloads already (and rising) - thats half a million bucks has gone to people making music from their talent. Not much, but how much cash had people been making from the illegal downloads? For a brand-new service, a quick half mill isn't bad, is it? Maybe it's time we stopped looking to music to make a few (mainly executives) rich, and started to embrace this as a way that lots of people (mostly musicians) can make a living.

IT'S NOT A TRICKY NAME, EITHER: Reuters, the company the world trusts with financial information, forced to issue correction after mis-spelling Kylie. Still, they got Pink right.

IT'S NICE TO STAND UP FOR YOUR MATES: Sure, Roger Daltrey sticking up for Pete Townshend is a fine and noble gesture of one friend for another, but who does the salmon farmer blame for Pete's troubles? Us, of course. It's not Pete's fault that he subscribed to a kiddie porn site, it's ours: "If this was the Sixties, more people would see this witch hunt for what it is and start a protest. It's about having some control over our lives and not letting the police do whatever they want. He was treated as though he was guilty of the worst crimes and crucified without a trial by people with no accountability. It's a disgrace. Everything they did to him was appalling." Now, there are arguments that are worth having over the heavy-handedness of the police on this issue, and the quality of information that they're working with. But let's just take a moment, shall we, to consider Pete's particular case?

'Not letting the police do whatever they want' - coupled with a reference to the sixties, this is a clever clarion call to suggest we're dealing with a major human rights abuse here. But are we? If we're going to take more control over the way the police handle their investigations into child porn, shouldn't we perhaps be doing the same with people who decide "Y'know, I'll do some of that investigation myself - I'll buy some pictures off the web and investigate them." Like, erm, Peter claims he was doing. Roger's right, we shouldn't let the "I'm doing a public investigation, let me through" defence to rest unchecked, should we?

'He was treated as though he was guilty of the worst crimes and crucified without a trial by people with no accountability... everything they did to him was appalling.' But the reason why he was treated as though he was guilty was because he held a little press conference to admit he'd subscribed to the sites, and while he didn't have a trial as such, he was given an awful lot of space to put his side of the story, and to explain his actions. The media were incredibly fair to Townshend; a lot fairer than they are to others accused of the same crime. And as for being "treated appallingly", they questioned him and gave him a mild ticking off. They could have done much, much worse to him - they could have proceeded with a prosecution, dragging his hard disk into the public domain, making a high-profile example of him. If convicted, they could have sent him to prison - and you don't need to be told what that could have meant. As it was, they accepted his explanation and treated him lightly. There's a further point here - Daltrey whines about how Townshend was 'convicted' "without a trial"; if he'd really wanted his day in court, he could have simply refused the police caution and got his wish.

Pete Townshend isn't Gary Glitter. But let's not pretend he's a latter-day Nelson Mandela, either.

WE WISH HIM ALL THE BEST , BUT: Jack Osbourne emerges from a spot of rehab blethering on about finding out who he really is. Jack, honey, you're not old enough to drink cider yet unless you get a adult to nip into the Off Licence and buy it for you - the whole point about being a teenager is that you're given somewhere between five and twenty years to muck about and try and find out who you exactly are; it's what teenage is for. And while you may be some all-clean rehabvangelist, the chances are you're not, any more than your sister is a pop goddess. You don't have to believe what people are telling you all the time, especially when you're paying them to tell you.

THE NME KNOW NOTHING OF THE REGIONS: Else they'd be aware that a Liverpool band playing an impromptu acoustic set, as the Coral did may be many things - welcome, exciting, tantalising, disturbing - but never, ever would it be considered "a shock."

Monday, July 07, 2003


On this day ten years ago, Mia Zapata of The Gits was murdered. One of the great punk bands to burst from Seattle, The Gits' legacy can be found both in the music they made, and the people whose lives they influenced. We figure that is as good a memorial as any.

YOU CAN CHOOSE AN ENDING, BUT NOT THE RIGHT ONE: The video for the new Robbie Williams single is - in a bid to raise interest/money - all interactive, with viewers being able to choose what ending eventually gets grafted onto it. Sadly, none of the options include the things we'd be prepared to splash text messages on - there's no option to see Robbie Williams being fed to hungry lions, or made to drink a bucket of Draino, or covered in the scent of a female grizzly on heat and sent into the Yellowstone hills at mating time. Instead, rather dully, you just to get to choose which of the lameass stars in their eyes Robbiealikes will be the overall winner. So far, so yawn.

Robbie has been told ("explains") the video is a dashing satire on the way pop idol et al forces people to queue up, audition, act in front of viewers on TV in the hope that they'll win their votes, and in return they get a stunted record deal, a few minutes fame and not much cash. He's done this by getting people to queue up, audition, act in front of viewers on TV in the hope that they'll win their votes, and in return get... um, to be the person who wins the most votes. Biting satire that wouldn't look out of place on Dead Ringers, eh?

There is a slightly satirical element, which even Williams himself recognises, to be fair. In the midst of railing against manufactured pop, Robbie remembers where he comes from. But, it turns out that although Take That were manufactured, it was... different then. Ah. I see.

QUOTE: "I simply heard her singing from the bedroom window the other day, and you didn't need to be Simon Cowell to see which way she was headed" - Norris Cole dismisses The Webster Child's dreams of being the next Jennifer Ellison on tonight's Coronation Street.

IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO BEGIN THE UNSEEMLY SQUABBLING: Barry White not yet cold; shuffling for cash advantage already taking place.

WE HAVE THE POWER: We were a bit surprised to find ourselves selected as the 94th most powerful person in the UK Media - well, not just us, the other million or so bloggers shared the honour of beating the former head of Channel 4 and, ahem, Lord Reith's ghost in the MediaGuardian powerlist, but it's a starting point.

This might be a good point to announce that we've been given access to the workings of Blogcritics and so we'll be sharing selected postings with the Blog Borg (we've been assured that Eric Olsen is the spit of Seven of Nine) from time to time. And we'd also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who reads this stuff; especially those who send us contributions and stuff that adds colour and shape to the site. Oh, and for those of you who were wondering over on Gigwise - yup, this site is the bastard child of Liverpool Hoopla.

WHITE GOES INTO THE LIGHT: Which prompted the excellent online-email-obit service Popped Clogs to ponder thus:

It's strange that having sex to Barry White has become a cliché, because there are those of us (step forward, brothers and sisters
- do not be ashamed!) to whom the idea of attempting congress while Barry is growling through some dull funk in the background seems *absolutely preposterous*. For starters: his music is, on the whole, incredibly boring. Sex is boring enough without external stimuli adding to the monotony. And another thing: when you hear his grumbly funk chundering from the speakers, it's impossible not to picture Barry behind the microphone, with his 17 chins aquiver and his terrible hair glistening from the globs of Swarfega that he slops into it before performing. Barry White may have been a lovely person, but sexy he wasn't. So why would you want him around when you're having a poke? It makes no sense.
Indeed - there are some of us who find the whole idea of having sex 'to music' unappealing, regardless of whose music it is. It's one thing having sex while music happens to be on - (maybe you're so carried away with passion that you don't bother turning off your stereo, or maybe your toe bumps the 'on' switch during a shift of position, like Robin Askwith in Confessions of a Pop Performer); but it's wholly another thing to put it on
*specially* for the act of sexual intercourse.
What does it mean to have sex-to-music? Here are some thoughts on the matter:
Are you meant to listen to the music? Are you meant to pay attention to the words? Hum along? But if you're aware of the music, isn't that tantamount to saying that you're not wholly consumed by the act of love, and part of your brain is elsewhere? That's hardly flattering to a partner (unless you both tacitly admit that you need a bit of music to help pass the time during the act of coitus).
Or are you meant to ignore it? Is it part of the challenge of lovemaking: to tune out the distractions? Is it like saying to your partner: "I'm so *completely* into you that it doesn't matter that some dullard is croaking away in the background; it's not going to put me off my stride"? But then, if you aren't aware of the music, then why is it on at all? It's just using up electricity.
Or are you meant to use the beat as a guide for rhythm? Like synchronised swimming? And what happens if you get out of synch? Does someone have responsibility for catching up or slowing down? And what do you do between tracks? Pause for breath?

Or is it part of the general 'atmosphere' of lurrrvemaking? But here again you have the problem that the addition of music implies a lack in the actual physical chemistry of the combatants. Surely we can all agree on this: that if two people really want to have sex, they just go for it. The act of congress is their entire world for those beautiful two minutes. You don't need any extra sensory input.

The idea that you have to get the mood 'just right' (with music, candles etc.) to make sure the magic happens is deeply problematic. It means that one (or both) of the following thought processes has occurred: i) I think you don't find me appealing enough to make love to me on my own merits, so I'm going to try and 'hot you up' with some sexy music; ii) I think that by sheer force of environment, I can make you put out. The first thought process is demeaning towards the person putting the music on; the second is demeaning towards the person who (it's hoped) is putting out. Everyone's demeaned. Maybe you're into demeaning sex? If so, slap on the Barry and get dirty.

Otherwise turn off the music. Turn off the lights, close the curtains, cut a hole in a sheet, scrunch up your eyes and get to it. It's the most natural thing in the world.

Don't you wish all obituaries were this way? (Apart from the ones that end in the words "despite her threat to Major that she was "a good back seat driver", once removed from office she faded swiftly from the public realm", is there any further finer way to memorialise the dead? That url again:

Sunday, July 06, 2003

WHIGFIELD ALERT: No matter what you've heard, the S Club 8 haven't been killed in a car crash. As far as we know.

NOT LIKE THAT: Tatu Barbie doll - not exactly the lesbian teen nymphete you might be expecting. They might want to think about renaming her.

AND THE BANDS PLAYED ON: It could have been so much worse, of course; if the two bombers had made it into the festival itself, rather than sixteen deaths at a Russian rock festival, we could be talking about hundreds. Unsettlingly, the bands had to carry on playing to avoid "panic". We're not sure if we'd feel calmed by a set from B2 or Spleen when more than a dozen people were laying in pieces by the exit; we're not sure how you'd play a set in those circumstances.

PARTY IN THE PARK: This has to be wrong. Meat Loaf - who nowadays looks like Neighbour's Joe Mangel after misreading the instructions on a packet of Build-Up - is in front of one hundred thousand pop fans in Hyde Park, rubbing his face into a woman's belly. Isn't that the sort of behaviour we spend months putting childlocks on the internet to stop kids from witnessing?

Yes, it's Party In The Park time again, Capital FM have taken over Hyde Park and filled it up with the pick of the capitals teens; Channel Five have pulled out the stops to bring live coverage in what might be the most inept outside broadcast since that old guy got drunk and claimed on the Home Service that the entire British fleet had disappeared into thin air. Denise VanOuten is the most experienced presenter on offer, but they've also got Kate Lawler (Big Brother loser who currently fronts RI:SE) and - jesus help us - Duncan from Blue. Actually, Duncan from Blue is doing pretty well - we don't know if we'd tip him to take overt the Politics Show from Jeremy Vine in the near future, but he's got the basics right (if you're there to be a pretty face, don't stick the microphone in front of it; don't try and pretend a big pop gig is like the Second Coming).

But given lots of live performances from pop stars, Five keep choosing to cut away to other items - a frankly pointless game where someone on the phone was given the chance to choose a member of Wheatus to play a video game (the presenter couldn't remember the name of the caller; he clearly didn't know any of the names of any of the members of Wheatus and didn't really care about that); an interview with Chris Tarrant (who may still be known as a DJ in London, but to teenagers outside the capital is 'the bloke off Who Wants To Be A Millionaire', so it would be on a par with having a big chat with Richard Whiteley); another presenter yakking to people on the front row of the gig - when they actually remember to fade up the microphone, you burn with the desire they'd left it down ("how long did it take you get your outfit ready?" "uh... um... a really long time..." "what time did you get up, to put it another way?" "uh... five thirty to six..."). Because the show is notionally in aid of the Princes Trust, they're hobbled even further by having to drop in Children-In-Needesque featurettes about Young People Helped By His Majesty's Charity.

The music? Mel C belts her heart out to a largely unimpressed crowd; the Sugababes look just as bored as they did at Glasto last week, but go down a lot better (they cut the 'freak' out of the verse but not out of the chorus). Craig David, as ever, is impressive and slick and everything you'd hope for in a pop star, really. Robbie can't seem to work out why he's failing in the states, and maybe if he looked at the attitude and attention to detail of Mr. David, he'd get a hint of what his problem really is. Love him or think he's a bit of a twonk with bad facial hair, Craigy treats his audience with a degree of respect. Come to think of it, Channel Five could pick a few pointers from him, too.

"If I had children, I'd buy them your album, because I think you're a very good role model. And I'm sure I have got kids somewhere" - denise van outen talking to craig david