Saturday, August 02, 2003

THERE ISN'T ENOUGH ANTHRAX IN THE WORLD: We're told Chris Martin out of Coldplay has 'laughed off' his arrest. He has, you know. He made a joke:

I thought the only time I was going to be associated with the police was when I met Sting.

Arresting isn't enough for him. He needs to be badly beaten and pushed down some stairs.

DONOBIT: Don Estelle, the man who never got to shake off being Lofty in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, has died after a long illness at the age of seventy. You might doubt that he deserves an obit from a music site, but remember that in the 70's he had exactly the same record of number ones as Elton John (none solo; one as a part of a duet act - Windsor Davies rather than Kiki Dee). And, oh boy, he made a whole heap of albums. He is probably the only person in the world to have been both a guest on Pete Murray's Open House and The League of Gentlemen. He released an album called Sing, Lofty followed by one called Lofty Sings, which is a sign of some sort of genius, and he released an album on the legendary Pickwick label. He isn't The Cooper Temple Clause, but you just felt watching him that he was an entertainer completely with side, and that he seemed to be a genuinely nice bloke. And there ain't enough of them in music.

WE WANT YOUR RESPONSES: Yes, in some way, we're experimenting with a new level of interactivity here on No Rock: The Weekend Question. If it's a success, we'll keep doing it, if it fails miserably, at least we can say we've tried.

This weekend's question:
Danny Baker did a feature a couple of years ago on the best opening line of a song, ever. What do you think is the greatest opening line?

Email your answer to - include a name if you wish it to be published alongside.

For what it's worth, we always like "There's a picture by his first wife on the wall" from Pulp's 59 Lyndhurst Grove.

MORE BAD FEELING: Tonight's Williams concert appears to have gone tits-up again; BBC News 24 is running interviews with people who were leaving because they felt the event was overcrowded and unsafe; the reporter onscreen at the moment says that "dozens" of people had appraoched her saying that they were "unhappy" with the way things had been organised. There wasn't the traffic snarl up of yesterday - "merely" a mile and a half tailback (although getting out looks like it'll be a nightmare again) because there wasn't the added weight of rush hour traffic. Tonight, the Hertfordshire Police are blaming the fans for not planning their journeys properly (yeah, fancy setting out assuming the organisers would have had their shit together). Again, it's clear: the number of tickets wasn't set at a level that the venue could comfortably accomodate, but at a point where some spurious 'record' would be set. Blocked.

LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU - OR AT LEAST TEMPT YOU INTO A CONTRA-FLOW: Oddly, they're calling the three Robbie nights at Knebworth 'the biggest event in British music history' on the grounds that if you add up the three night's ticket sales, it comes to 375,000. Although this seems to be a bit of an odd measure to us - if you accept that you can add numbers like that, why not add together all the dates of, say, an REM tour to get a total? Or the numbers attending Reading and Leeds, and multiply that by three?

Ananova managed to miss out on the main story, of course which was not 'over-rated man attracts people to gig' but 'there's a good reason why other gigs - which could easily have sold as many tickets - haven't flogged this many tickets before', as thousands of people couldn't get to the venue. Oddly, the police are taking the blame for the enormous traffic-fuck-up, which seems to be incredibly noble of them - we'd have suggested that having too many tickets sold for an event which meant people would be trying to get to a place at Rush Hour on a Friday along a road which is usually working at full pelt at that time anyway isn't so much the Police's fault as the gig organiser's and the licensing authority. It seems to us that the number of tickets allocated for each night was set not at a level that could be comfortably accomodated but at a figure which would gently fellate William's ego. There are more people going than went to the Oasis gigs at the same venue for no reason other than to say 'there are more people here than for Oasis.' "After these three nights I don't think Britain will see anything like this for a long time to come" said Williams. No, mate, we're certain there'll be a large number of pointless and inexplicable tailbacks for years to come.

The police claiming responsibility for the snarl-up - and carloads of people with 160 quids worth of tickets getting no nearer the event than the hard shoulder of the A1 - might torpedo anyone's hopes of a refund. Neat.

LUSHfest 03: And the final entrant is Nicky Manning:


Nicky writes (and performs) ballads and pop, and she's keen to work with film producers, too. You can hear what she does at

LUSHfest 03: Entries are now closed for Lushfest, so we've got the last two contestants for the contest. First, meet Aaron Copeland:


Aaron makes what his press kit describes as "radio-friendly R&B" and - to be honest - we think he's the cutest of the boys to enter the competition. But, remember folks, it's your votes that will count - we'll be introducing you to the voting system next week. We bet you can't wait.

In the meantime, you can hear Aaron over on Iuma. You should, you know.

Friday, August 01, 2003

YOU COULD GET A HOBBY: For example, you could follow this online tutorial to make pictures of a fatter Britney Spears. We did just say you could.

NO ROCK REVIEW: THE AUTEURS live: Contributed via bsn by the wonderful Mr. Justin Fun:

I have to start by quoting from the programme given to us as we entered (which was titled "Saint Luke at St Luke's")

"Dear Ticketholder,

"It is my pleasure and duty to welcome you to my inauguration into the rock n roll hall of fame, here, tonight, live at St Luke's. Of course, being of a modest disposition, I shall not be mentioning it during tonight's performance and would be grateful if you, the audience, make no reference to this momentous event.

"This is, in many ways, a homecoming. After three arduous years of pop strike, with only a dozen or so Black Box Recorder-related scabbing incidents, I do hope you will forgive me for any light-heartedness or ebullience. I am now, after all, a free man. On the subject of freedom and forgiveness, I have only just noticed that there are no 'original' Auteurs amongst my backing band. But as some of these so called 'original' Auteurs were dismissed on the grounds of diminished musical responsibility, I feel the present arrangement works very favourably.


"On with the show,

Your friend and fan,

Luke Haines"

Which pretty much sums up the mood for the first half of the evening - for the first 45 minutes Luke played with a string section, performing old Auteurs songs and some new material , as per his latest album "The songwriting genius of Luke Haines and The Auteurs". Songs were introduced as 'another masterpiece' or 'this is a song about how I'm always right'. All good fun, and it fitted well with the venue - St Luke's is a converted church, all seated and pretty swish. It was a little on the sedate side at times though.

The second half (after an interval) saw the strings sent packing and the band turning up the volume. They started by storming through most of the Baader Meinhof album (all but two songs), a punked up, turbo-charged version of the original record which sounded amazing. Then we were treated to a few Auteurs classics, and some material from 'The Oliver Twist Manifesto', including a solo version of 'The Death of Sarah Lucas', which made me smile, as it always does.

It was all over by 10:30, and we left to the strains of 'Saturday Gigs' by Mott The Hoople (one of my favourite songs and the source of my screen name - spooky). And they were selling the DVD of Christie Malry's Own Double Entry for a tenner. What a perfect evening.

WE DON'T THINK YOU QUITE MEAN THAT: When Richard Macer says of his documentary subject Shaun Ryder "most people wonder why he's still alive", we presume he means how - i.e. how he managed to ingest so much without keeling over, rather than that they ponder exactly what the point of Ryder's existence is?

LIBERTINES MUCK ABOUT WITH ALBUM: Band attempt to boost sales with extra tracks, DVD stuff in a bid to persuade fans to buy Up The Junction all over again ("make a more attractive package").

A SIMPLE SPIT GUARD COULD HAVE SAVED HIM: Vietnamese man - doing "karaoke" in his bedroom - electrocutes himself with spit alone. Note the hugely sensitive headline on this article.

PITY POOR LARS: James Hetfield finds the 'suing over chords' story funny, so maybe Metallica do have a sense of humour after all. But apparently, all those cruel words thrown out about them hurt them boys, you know. Especially Lars. "It's so easy to call us greedy" sniffs James, implying we just don't understand. But I don't think anyone ever did say that Metallica were being greedy - the substance of the charges against them was that they were stupid (not understanding the dynamics of downloading, or its implications) and acting like playground bullies (beating up on their fans). If poor ickle Lars sibbed himself to sleep because people found his actions rancid, how does he think the kids who suddenly got their heroes threatening to drag them through the courts felt? The Rocky Mountain News' stringer seems to think that someone (he doesn't suggest who) owes Metallica an apology because "the industry is now in disarray over downloading and is filing lawsuits against downloaders as well" (erm, except it isn't; the RIAA is attacking uploaders) - but since the industry is aping Metallica, and they're just as wrong as the band were, and the industry supported Lars' actions in the first place, who's exactly meant to have decided they were in the wrong here?

Hetfield seems to think that as soon as a new target comes up, people will stop laughing at The Band Who Sued Their Own Biggest Fans. Here's a hint, Lars: there's plenty of webspace spare to pop at you forever.

CASSANDRA TAKEN TO A NEW HIGH: The Trinidad Express grimly predicts doom for Rolling Stones gig, but because they got the day muddled up, managed to do so after the event had passed off without hundreds of people being crushed to death underfoot.

MORE REASONS WHY WE LOVE NENA: Not only because, yeah, we had a kindacrush on her when 99 Luftballoons was out (German girls rock... although we never hear from any German girls at No Rock - mail us and prove you're out there - but because she's tossed off Robbie Williams. Not like that. He'd asked her to do a duet when he plays Germany, then he withdrew the invitation. She points out that that's just plain rude but then, crushingly, sniffs "I'm not that bothered. Worse things could happen to you", clearly implying that there's a very long list of worse things than not having to share the stage with a talentless ego-trolley - ingrown toenails, traffic jams, forgetting to turn the calendar on the first day of the month, the top of those individual servings of Marmite not lifting cleanly... oh, we could go on...

BLACK TAKES WHITE: Now, while we wouldn't mind turning up for a show and finding the part of the White Stripes being filled by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, as is going to happen at Kestrel Lager's Reading and Leeds Festivals, we suspect that not quite everyone will see this as replacing like with like. And we're a little surprised that the Mean Fiddler organisation have said that the Stripes will be back next year as headliners, because we'd be very surprised if they've signed anything yet (surely they couldn't, as Jack's hand is all strapped up anyway?) and... isn't it a little bit early to try and be guessing whereabouts on the banana of fame Jack and Meg will be sitting come next August? If they're even still a going concern, that is.

A RIGHT BOBBY-DAZZLER: (Okay, we hate ourselves. It's so obvious to do a bloody David Dickinson headline everytime there's an auction-related story. And it's not needed, is it? We could do something Lovejoy-related, couldn't we? But we never do. We hang our heads in shame).

Anyway... Carly Simon is going to auction off the solution to who, exactly, Warren Beatty is about. Sorry, we meant who 'You're So Vain' is about. The lucky winner (or cash-squitting dupe, as we like to think of them) will have the solution whispered to them on the strict understanding they never tell anyone else. All for charity, of course. We're betting the auction will be won by Warren Beatty, who probably thinks the song is about him anyway.

AND THIS IS ME (albeit slightly Photoshopped): Ananova so taken with Rachel S-Sclub showing her tits they run the same picture twice. On the same page. Let's hope she never does Playboy, otherwise we suspect they might just explode.

LET'S PRETEND IT'LL RETURN: We're sure this page will return, so we'll press on. Yes, yesterday it was the ratings day for UK Radio, and the big story was that Radio 1 had slipped below ten million listeners for the first time in its history. Which, while psychologically wobbly, isn't going to turn out to be quite as dire as it sounds - this is the last set of Rajar figures which doesn't include 6Music and 1Xtra, and it's a fairly safe bet that those many of the Radio 1 audience who haven't shifted over to Radio 2 will be found lurking round there. Radio 1 is probably the station most at risk from losing listeners to the digital services (on radio, TV and the web), and even if it still manages to keep its reach up in the New Media World, it's likely its share of listening is going to take a drop (in other words, people will tune in, but listen for shorter periods) as more and more niche services open up. It's a bit rich of the Guardian to suggest that the drop this time has anything to do with Zane Lowe - he wasn't on board for this sweep of ratings, although the Murray Interregnum can't have helped. What's most pressing is sorting out Breakfast; it's looking clearer and clearer that Sara Cox isn't working there any more, although it's hard to see where they'll find a replacement (Wes Butters Your Toast? Can't see that, somehow). The Independent points out that in London, Cox's show now trails Chris Tarrant on Capital. And Wogan, of course. And The Today Programme. Plus Classic FM, Heart, Kiss and even lowly Magic. (Not, you'll note, Virgin - which is even worse news for them).

WE DON'T KNOW IF IT'S A TEMPORARY GLITCH: But at the moment, the Guardian's stories on Radio 1's audience are all missing. Hang about... that seems to be happening through the entire site, not just with Radio 1. Hmmm. They had been talking about allowing you to subscribe to see all the content with none of the ads... presumably, then, non-subscribers will be getting none of the content, but all of the ads...

ACCIDENT... OR SOMETHING MORE SINISTER?: Dixie Chicks tour bus rammed from behind... - is this an "accident"? Or is this how Bush's enemies are dealt with in the United States of Amerikkka? They tried to tell you that "Princess" Diana died in an accident, people... don't let the shape shifting lizards get away with it... the Bilderberg Group are running scared from Natalie Maines... hang about a minute, that can't be right, can it? [Checks facts] Oh, no, it was a simple accident. As you were.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

ROCKS ARE SLOW LIFE: An interesting delving into a seemingly random lyric on the new Super Furry Animals album leads Matt Jones to unravel links between Phantom Power and the work of Kevin Kelly.

RECORD COMPANIES FOUND GUILTY OF PRICE-FIXING AGAIN: This time, the US labels have been caught coming to agreements to artificially inflate the price of Three Tenors records.

We're not going to bother cranking up our own outrage, so we're just going to adapt some stuff we found on the internet about how bad downloading is, and do a quick find and replace:

Based on Online Piracy and Electronic Theft - RIAA:
Because of the nature of the theft, the damage is difficult to calculate but not hard to envision. Millions of dollars are at stake. Many record companies see nothing wrong with fixing an occasional album price or even an entire catalogue through a cartel, despite the fact it is illegal under recently enacted federal legislation.

After Britney's anti-downloading advert:
"Would you go into someone's house and steal cash from their wallet? It’s the same thing, people deliberately setting prices and inflating charges and stealing our money. It’s the exact same thing, so why do it?"

After Hilary Rosen's little fireside chat:
"Too many people don't realise that when you artificially inflate a price by collusion or some other price-fixing method, what you're doing is stealing money"

And so on. The rest of this writes itself.

FYI: One of the stars who signed up to the Music United campaign for fair copyright downloads or whatever it was called (interestingly, the site - which had quotes from pop people about how they'd bloody well starve if you so much as downloaded a single Spearmint MP3) was Luciano Pavarotti. Who would, of course, have been one of The Three Tenors; which we guess would make him an expert on unfairness, no?

... WHILE WE CAN STILL SAY 'THIS IS THE WORST': Come on Eileen, reworked as Come On England, and apparently Kevin Rowland "approves" ("badly, badly needs the money"). We are going to cut our ears off before the European Championships, we have decided.

HATE TO SAY 'I TOLD YOU SO': That lack of standards in what your seventy-nine cents buys on not only confuses the consumer, but confuses the hell out of people's MP3 players, as new download service launches to a pile of glitches. How very Titanic.

TALKING OF OLDFIELD: You can study him at Oxford University - although it's not a degree course, it's a night course. And it's about all prog rock, not just Oldfield. We'll bet the exams go on for what seems like hours, though... [We did see this on Popbitch, of course].

MOONLIGHT SHADOWS: Mike Oldfield - a man whose first records were funded by a bloke who'd made his initial cash by selling 'pirated' music (Branson was flogging records intended for the continent in the UK and saving on the taxes) - is interviewed by Guardian Online as yet another re-release re-formatting of Tubular Bells looms into view, and he comes across as amazingly out of touch:

Is the internet a threat to the music industry?
You only have to look at the front of Music Week to realise the music industry is in crisis. People aren't buying records because it is so easy to copy them. They download all their tracks and listen to them for nothing.

Well, if you look at the cover of Music Week, it tells you that the Major Labels are in crisis, which isn't quite the same thing - just because Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal don't win matches in the same week doesn't mean that all the teams in Division Three have lost as well. But have you noticed that Mike Oldfield has already got confused between 'copying' records and 'downloading' them?

What if people could pay for music online using services such as Apple's iTunes?
You can already buy albums from Amazon. Ahem... 'you can already buy albums from Amazon'

Yes, Mike. You can do that. Perhaps you haven't quite grasped that some people actually wake up and think "I'd like to hear 'Wild Thing' right now" and so want something a bit more immedeate than waiting three days for the postman to arrive? And that that's a possibility that technology has given us? And that it's that ability to deliver music now, and the failiure to seize the advantages of that, which has lead to the Big Labels falling behind?

Does Oldfield really mean what his reply implies - that he doesn't agree with downloading at all, and that he thinks all music should be delivered, encoded in plastic? Apparently not:

But if people want to buy tracks online I don't see a problem. It's just the piracy - it's massive in Europe. That's why record sales are down 50%.

Excuse me? Down fifty percent? Even the dying VHS Music format only dropped by 42% last year - and that was more than offset by a swelling in DVD sales. Argentina had a very bad year, but there the fall was only a quarter, not a half. Fifty percent is just an absolute nonesense. [source: BBC/IPFI]

Why were so many fans outraged when Tubular Bells was released recently with digital copyright protection?

If people are used to buying one copy and then making 50 copies on their PC, they are going to be a bit fed up, aren't they? They can still copy it with analogue. It just won't copy digitally. It has only caused a couple of comments on the fan websites because someone can't copy it and pirate it.

You're flattering yourself if you think anyone is going to burn fifty copies of an album that Everyone Who Wants Already Has. And you're missing the point - digital copyright protection doesn't just piss off people who are trying to pirate your music; it pisses off legitimate users - your fans - who suddenly discover that they've paid fifteen bucks for a record they can't play. According to the Campaign for Digital Rights, Tubular Bells 2003 won't play properly on a lot of CDs; managed to screw up one person's uninstall facility (so that now he can't get rid of any software on his PC at all); appears to have been responsible for a burning smell on a hitherto perfect DVD-ROM drive on more than one occasion. This is leaving aside the whole question of If I buy a CD, why shouldn't I be allowed to copy it to my Rio player?

Oh, and by the way:
I'm a born-again biker. I've just bought a 600cc Yamaha Fazer and have joined the Fazer owners club online. The sites and are great for getting tips from other model helicopter enthusiasts and buying the kit.
... let us know how that midlife crisis works out, pal.

OH GOD... FIRST SAVILLE: Now we're agreeing with Julie Burchill - You can't blame Britney is parents let their kids turn up for school dressed like Mata Hari. There's another piece which addresses the same subject - that teacher's union bloke who said Kylie is leading us to moral ruin - written by a sixteen year old girl who says that her boob tube didn't do her any harm.

RELAUNCHING TOP OF THE POPS IS LIKE SHAGGING A CORPSE: Jimmy Saville writes about ver Pops in today's Guardian - he's now decided he's going to claim credit for the whole thing (why not? the old boy long since claimed to have invented the disco as well. Doubtless if he lives much longer we'll discover he invented both the marathon and television itself), although the input of Johnnie Stewart who came up with name and the format might be slightly more important in the sense of creating the show. It's also interesting that Saville says "I presented it once a month", thereby skating over that there were three episodes a month that he wasn't involved with at all.

Frustratingly, though, we do admit he's got a sort of point - the show does need to get back to doing what it always did well (viz. the charts) and stop doing badly what other shows are doing (yakking). It's funny that the musing of Lorraine Heggesey that the show needs to sharpen up was translated by several papers yesterday as a death knell for the Pops. If BBC 1 was going to axe every show which 'only' pulled about three million on a Friday night - never mind being buried against Corrie - then they wouldn't have very much left of their schedule - that'd be the Ten O'clock News gone for a start. We wouldn't be surprised, though, if they don't give the BBC1 showing a later slot, and used BBC 3 as a home for an premiere outing.

DRUMMER NEWS: McCluskey have got a new drummer. That is all the drummer news.

NOW YOU CAN VOTE PUNK: John Grisham - not that one, the singer out of TSOL - has announced he intends to run for the governership of California, lining up a Punks v Terminator glitzy battle. We say: Vote Punk. It makes sense, actually - California has got No Money; who's going to be best in that sort of economy? Someone from a multi-million-bucks movie background, or someone whose world thrives on the DIY ethic?

MY, THEY'RE A LUCKY FAMILY, AIN'T THEY?: imdb is reporting more than a few teething troubles with Sharon Osbourne's new chat show:

The Sharon Osbourne Show is set to debut on September 15, but celebrity guests have proved difficult to book - and two producers are so stressed they ended up leaving the studio in an ambulance. A studio source reveals, "We're six weeks from debuting and we really don't have a formula that works. Sharon is lovely. She's smart. Everybody loves Sharon and no one wants to do a show that will embarrass her. But the executives have changed their minds 10,000 times and it's like we're starting from scratch." Some staff have been working on the show for two months, but stress has proved so great two producers were admitted to hospital - one suffering a seizure and the other an asthma attack. The source adds, "The whole staff feels beaten down and exhausted. Everybody wants to leave. There's a sense of mutiny." Jim Paratore, president of Telepictures Productions, said on Monday, "This show won't be like any other show on TV. The Sharon Osbourne Show will combine celebrity segments a la Live With Regis And Kelly, human interest stories a la Oprah, plus musical guests and pre-taped mini-reality segments. It's really three shows in one, and that's why it's been such a difficult start-up. It's always been a very ambitious show. It takes a while to get everybody on the same page." So far the only celebrities lined-up by bookers are David Spade and Bow Wow, and Paratore admits, "Morale is mixed. The people doing good are feeling good, the people who are not, are not."

I'm sure they'd be able to drag Kelly and Jack on as guests. Ozzy would probably be too much to handle. Blimey, even Jeremy Spake managed to handle the transition from reality TV to proper telly with more grace than this bunch.

SPECTOR-SPECTRE DELAYED: The cops investigating the death of Lana Clarkson have announced that they're not quite ready to proceed with the prosecution against Phil Spector yet; the whole thing will be put back while they do whatever it is they're trying to do.

NO READING, NO LEEDS: Jack White's hand not going to be strong enough for the Beer-sponsored Festival weekend - he's terrible sorry an' all, but they won't be there. Although we'd be quite happy if just Meg turned up, to be frank.

ROCK AND ROLLBIT: No less an authroity than the A&E Channel called him the Man Who Invented Rock & Roll. Sam Phillips, the man who founded Sun Records, died on Wednesday. He was 80 years old. Besides his famous discovery of Elvis, Phillips was instrumental in kickstarting the careers of Carl Perkins, Joe Hill Lewis, Ike Turner, BB King and Johnny Cash - the only artist to release an album on his label.

In the sixties, he swapped from music to investments (in those days, two separate industries) and hit gold by pumping cash into the chain which went on to become Holiday Inn. Quite sweetly, and probably accurately, his son Knox reckons no other Mephian influended the world as much as his Dad.

I always hated (the term) rockabilly. I hated country-and-western (too) because it was two different things. Hillbilly I didn't mind too much, but when you stuck rock in front of billy . . . to me it was rock and roll. Whether it was black rock and roll or white rock and roll, it was rock and roll - Sam Phillips on genre-naming.

SOME BIZZARE: Shirley Manson, Avril and Gwen Steffani fakes are ten-a-dime on the web, right? Not like these, they're not - someone's taken the time to splice Riot Grrl Redux Tank Girl with various celebs. Confusing, but not wrong. Oh, and office safe, too, in case you're wondering.

BIG IN AMERICA: Look very closely at this picture of Posh Spice on stage in America:

separated at birth?

Yes, that's right. It's actually Christina. Scary, no?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The ghost of Paul Weller edition

It's taken us a while to get round to the current edition of Word, because of Paul Weller being on the cover. There's a place for Paul Weller, a place where he fits and is right and proper; it's the 1980's. Ever since then he's had the air of a crossbencher in the House of Lords - still hanging about in the corridors of power, but without a real role; existing purely on the victories of the past. There is not a Jam or Style Council track that isn't worth a barroom fight to defend the honour of; there isn't a solo release that wouldn't have been put to better use had the plastic been turned into a bottle.

The rest of Word is larded with gems, though: Kristanna Loken is asked if she recognises herself on the cover of Maxim - the terminator three star is pretty fine with undoing her shirt and whacking her tits out, she knows that it's all part of the marketing game. Although she does seem to think it makes a difference that she's on the Movie spin-off of Maxim and not the ordinary edition; maybe it might have a little more about itself, but it's hardly Cahiers Du Cinema, is it?

Shaun Ryder pins down an important difference between Old Pop and New Pop - without realising it - when he says "we never wanted to be famous, we wanted to be in a band" - the precise opposite, you just know, of Cheryl Tweedy.

Clare Grogan tells of why she wasn't in the later seasons of Red Dwarf - after series six, the producers sent her a note suggesting that they felt "kochanski should remain forever young" - it's interesting that this wasn't felt necessary for Craig Charles, or indeed the scripts, which aged quite terribly from that point.

It turns out that buskers on London Underground are now "official" and "sponsored by Carling." While it's kind of nice that the Underground has at least stopped trying to hound them off the network, there's something depressing about corporate sponsorship reaching down into the sounds of the street.

Candace Bushnell believes that what makes Sex & The City so popular is that it tells stories which could only happen in New York; a rare case of a writer not having any idea what she's tapping into. If her tales resonated only within the area covered by JFK, then her series would only hit ratings gold in New York. We wonder if she simply doesn't realise that people fuck in other places, too; and that even in Boise, Idaho, men behave like shits.

"The biggest trap of bands from Nashville" sigh Venus Hum "is the pressure to pretend they're not from here." Contrast with Gillian Welch, who's not from Nashville, but moved there because it "held this romantic appeal for me... never mind that [I arrived] forty years too late."

Word knows why its important that Holly Golightly really is called that. This is why we like Word.

Marina Topley-Bird reads His Dark Materials; Emilia Fox loves Cake (the band); and Michelle Heaton from Liberty X thinks "2 Fast 2 Furious is fantastic. the last thing she read was Sweet Valley High. When she was fifteen. You just sob.

Barry Manilow's rider stipulates that, on the day of a gig, his fan club will be allowed to come in at eleven in the morning to decorate the dressing room. We've often thought that being a Manilow-maniac is on a par with being in a church; it now turns out they have a flower rota too, then.

On a similar note, Destiny's Child actually have an official preacher. Blimey. In his appreciation of Beyonce, Ross Jones suggests that those who call Beyonce a diva are wrong; he invokes Harold ayes description for her: an unknowable.

Over in the New Statesman, there's that walking example of the difference between diva and unknowable; Boy George files the diary. "I always find the most interesting programmes are on very late" he trills "when most civilised people are sleeping. Does Channel 4 know that insomniacs are mostly homosexual?" George has been watching repeats, apparently totally unaware of the fact. His entire diary - what I watched on telly, oooh, I'm so gay, I am - read like the sort of popbitch post that deserves to get the 'wanker' backing slapped on him for all eternity.

The NME has The Darkness on the cover. For the second time in a handful of months, it turns out that there isn't actually an interview to go with this - the Darkness weren't impressed with Mr. Conor begging forgiveness in Glastonbury and are refusing to speak to them. So it is that the issue is lead with a bunch of bits knocked up from the cuttings and a shit - no, actually, that's being too kind - 'how to dress like Justin' feature. It's a pity, isn't it? They can swan in and get access to Andrew WK or Har Mar, and nobody gives a shit. The kids want to read about The Darkness, and there they have a problem.

Mind you, it's not obvious that the paper would want an interview anyway - the main news this week is apparently "Jack White Goes Out With His Girlfriend Rennee Zwelleger"; there's an equally sub-Heat full page given to Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, dressed up as an investigation into whether Chris is "cracking up" (clue: No, no he isn't). The craparazi overtones are augmented by a piece on Kate Moss. Now, we love Kate Moss, but 'Kate hangs out with indie stars" isn't much of a story, you know - now, the one about her, one indie rock star and a nearly-star and the bottom, that would be a story. Otherwise? It's Kate Likes Indie. Pretty much Select circa 1993, then. Except they're not calling them "indie stars" any more; the obsession with nme branding has lead to the ridiculous phrase "rising NME stars" making an appearance in the reportage, as if bands are there because of the NME, and not vice-versa; any week this would be laughable, in the week of the No Exclusive Darkness Interview, it's wearing-a-novelty-jersey pathetic.

The absolute nadir of the 'news' this week is a report which is, basically, this:

Chris Cester had sex!!!! With a lady!!!!!!!!!!! In an aeroplane!!!!!!!!!!!

... oh, and we're supposed to believe that people thought that Ell and Bow, the Elbow-promoting statues, were aliens. No, we rather think they were taken down from the side of the motorway because they were distracting drivers, not because passers-by thought the good people of Mars had come to town.

There are a couple saving graces: a preview of the soon-come Cooper Temple Clause album, and a fascinating interview with a (probably pissed) Fran Healy as he turns thirty. He starts off plain wrong - "if New York was a character in a TV show, it'd be the Fonz" and then talks about Travis' exciting new political direction. He believes that "if you're an artist, all you can be is the coal miner's canary; you're the early warning system." So, what is Fran giving us an early warning about? That Bush is bad. Thanks for the heads-up, Fran - good job someone brought that to our attention before he did something bad. "The people who've not understood Travis seem to be pretenders; pretending they're cool" claims Healy. This is a wonderful piece of solipsism: note how it's not people who don't like Travis; they are merely people who don't understand. Splendidly, Fran still bears a massiv egrudge against mark beaumont, for a review he wrote of the Man Who three thousand years ago. Healy still goes online to read it from time to time, to stoke his ire anew. That's Healy at thirty: a man divorced of reality; building up a little stockpot of bitterness and totally out of his depth. Smashing.

Please, nme, if you do nothing else, stop the Bing Crosby/David Bowie "comic strip". I've been hoping that if I ignore it, it'll go away. Clearly it won't. It's not even misfiring; it's just devoid of any element of humour at all. Make it stop.

NME readers "claim the Mercury Prize is the new Brits" says a splash. This is apparently because, erm, 80s Matchbox B-Line disaster weren't nominated. The suggestion that the award is like the Brits - an obvious and safe way of slapping the backs of the cash-successful - would make a little more sense if the same page didn't also have a piece complaining about the inclusion of acts nobody's ever heard of. So what is it: too mainstream, or not mainstream enough?

The Futureheads do the CD - Loudon Wainwright III, the Velvet Underground and Kate Bush.

The Bumblebeez piece is little more than a list of famous people they know, but Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba is given a bit more consideration - "I live life to the fullest, butI also relive life to the fullest" he claims. He's read 1984 and Brave New Word a dozen times teach, which suggests its time someone bought him a copy of Farenheit 451.

The Hiss article has got a fascinating story at its heart - how the strain of producing the debut album and being the only girl in a boy's band led to Mahjula having a breakdown (in Gatwick's HMV of all places), but beyond the details, the humanity is lost; the headline '£800 a week on coke, a psycho bassist and Oasis' producer' sums up how the human interest has been thrown out to make way for the 'phew, rock and roll' angle.

soledad brothers - voice of treason - "forget jack white and his sore finger", 8
various - gone fishing (the wichita birthday compilation) -"all for under three quid", 7
the faint - danse macarbe remixes - "mostly, it's a success", 7
martina topley-bird - quixotic - "dinner parties", 5
the clientele - the violet hour - "music to take drugs to make music to take drugs to", 8

sotw - the raveonettes - that great love sound - "the art of attaining an erection"

supergrass - rush hour soul - "still very 1974"
ten speed racer - fifteen - "wasted potential, like a man with a ten inch penis suffering from impotence"

duran duran - LA Roxy - "still the coolest band on Planet Earth - Duran the way god intended"
holly golightly - oxford bullingdon arms - "people actualy dancing and smiling"

the stupid picture of a slack-jawed reader and a micro celeb feature is still running, even although Vodaphone has got bored with sponsoring it and given up.

And finally: the London Centre of Contemporary Music (who we shall call "the shadowy" LCCM until such time as we are told different) is looking for a band to use as the heart of its projects for the coming year - they'll get studio time, promotion and many support slots. Hey, it worked for Belle and Sebastian.

OFFICIAL: EMINEM IS A MUPPET: Muppet, puppet, whatever. This time last year, people who should have known better were muttering that he could be in line for an Oscar for Best Actor. Now, he hustling to get voiceover work as a sock puppet.

SWORN PAUL: Sean Paul gets hit with a summons for 'profanity' during a Jamican date. Apparently he's looking at a twenty bucks fine, which really makes the whole thing little more than a swearbox with a legal framework, surely?

NO, IT ISN'T A JOKE: The Police who investigated the Milly Dowler murder really have recorded a version of Build Me Up Buttercup, which suggests that perhaps Chris Morris has infiltrated their ranks somehow. Are we to suppose that a pop cover is to be spun off of all major murder investigations in future? Jesus.

KEITH SKUES RUMOURED TO BE EXPECTING AN APPROACH SOON: While you can't fault Capital for desperately trying to lure Jonathan Ross to its sliding London station, coming in the same week that BamBam rebuffed them you have to wonder if this is the closest they've got to a plan for replacing Chris Tarrant when he goes at Christmas - running up to anyone with a radio show and offering them money? Is there no talent for them to grow in Capital itself?

CLEAR CHANNEL REFUSE TO ACCEPT MATHS, DEMAND RECOUNT: We know we shouldn't be happy that Clear Channel's Radio Revenues have fallen, because the chances are it'll make them behave in an even worse fashion than they already do, but we do have a little smirk nonetheless. Clear Channel say its because of the economy, we're hoping that there will be just a smidgin of that drop down to advertisers thinking that the stale radio product offered by Clear isn't the right environment for their products.

What's equally amusing is that Clear Channel say they "refuse to accept negative growth", which is a double mathematical nonesense - saying you don't accept something doesn't make it go away; equally, pretending that shrinking is the more upbeat sounding 'negative growth' is meaningless, too.

ANY MORE REASONS TO HATE ROBBIE WILLIAMS?: Here's another one: he's meant to be a big Port Vale fan - indeed, he's often made much of how he loves the team, and dreamed of playing for it and blee blee blee blah blah blah. So, then, why has he spent ten million on taking an executive box at Chelsea?. (This, of course, is without even touching on the fact that anyone who really loves football would no more want to watch a match from a box than an angling fan would elect to pursue their passion by visiting those fairground stalls where you use rods with magnets to catch plastic ducks). Port Vale nearly went out of business last year, and a successful fans consortium bought the club out - I'd imagine that if their supposed biggest fan had ten million to burn on a football team, they could have put it to slightly better use.

THIS IS WHY EVEN ROCKERS NEED TO WEAR A STRAP: Chino Moreno of the Deftones managed to injure his groin while on stage (not, of course, in the same way Fred Durst sustained injuries down there, when he got hit by a lemon) and the band have had to cancel dates as a result. That's dates as in gigs, of course, but we suspect that Chino won't be available for the other sort for a little while yet, either.

MEET THE NEW FACE OF THE US RECORD INDUSTRY Face not shown: The replacement for Hilary Rosen has been named; from September first, the RIAA will be headed up by Mitch Bainwol. Mitch's connection with the music industry is, um, totally non-existent. He was Bill Frist's chief of staff, which will obviously mean he has great understanding and insight into the ways of the music world.

Its his political connections that have got him the job - the Washington Post observes that Rosen's Democratic ties were of limited use in the current US political climate; in Wired, Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Fred Von Lohman expresses hope that Bainwol will lead the music industry in a 'productive' direction, but wonders a little at the choice; his old boss Frist wasn't a major character in the copyright struggles playing out right now which suggests that Bainwol has little to bring to the table other than the telephone numbers of some senators and skills in shaking hands.

It's interesting that Bainwol wasn't even interviewed in the first round of Rosen-replacement-seeking; more interesting still that part of the trouble the RIAA had was that nobody really wanted to do the job, despite the handy million bucks a year that goes with the office. That few wanted to wield the sledgehammer of power suggests that there isn't very much support throughout the industry for the RIAA's tactics at the moment, especially amongst those who actually understand music, and music fans in particular.

We're sure that the many gays, lesbians and bisexuals working in the music industry will be delighted that the top job has gone to a man whose previous major role in public life was supporting Frist, especially when good ole' Bill has worked so tirelessly to try and make gay marriages unconstitutional. You can find a list of the organisations that have hired Bainwol here; mostly insurance companies looking to weasel out of industrial injuries compensation claims as far as we can see.

If you Google on "Mitch Bainwol" music, you don't get any results that actually show Bainwol taking an interest in music at all. Which we guess shouldn't surprise us in the head of the Record Company Cartel. We're guessing his secretary is currently off buying him some of those CDs, so that he can give an interview to the New York Times saying how much he loved the Paul and Simon when he was in college, and, hey, his kids love Raidingohead.

There's more - much, much more - over on Slashdot.

HONEYPUNKCURIOSITY: Okay, so maybe we're developing an obsession, but how come when you go to and choose 'our pictures', you always get told there "are too many users on the image server right now"? The question is rhetorical, of course.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

IDOL THREATS: The return of Pop Idol is being trailed heavily right now on ITV. The set-up is that there'll be something singing - one of those yammering fishes, or a tortoise with the voice of Vic Reeves. Then, there is an explosion, or a wall knocked down, and the camera pulls back to reveal Simon Cowell. The voiceover is something along the lines of "some say he's a bit too harsh" or something like that. So, at least they're being honest this time: the show isn't a chance to see talented young persons embarking on a journey to fame and fortune; it's a chance to see a rich, badly dressed boor being stamping on the dreams of kids forever.

WE CONCEDE: Duncan R., you are right - the Dogs Die In Hot Cars story should have been headlined 'Dogs fry in hot bars'. If we gave out prizes, we'd give you a big one. But we don't, so we'll just flash you a grin.

NICE GUY NICO: Don't be fooled by the tame 'Iron Maiden drummer accused of hitting a man with car' style headlines - the allegation is that Nico McBrain took the 'don't you know who I am' strop to a new level by driving the car into a man who didn't recognise him. Of course, it's all allegations at the moment, so we'll just alledge that McBrain is a puffed-up tosser.

THAT'S ABOUT IT'S MONEY, I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT: Gullible, rich Japanese fail to appear in London auction room ("Stuart Sutcliffe tat ("memorobilia") fails to sell as well as expected").

Although we'd have bid on the GCE certificates, which would have some sort of value if used for the basics of a fraud, we'd imagine.

ANOTHER OVERHAUL, THEN: So, Andy Peters is going to have another overhaul of TOTP this autumn, the second in about two years and the ninety-fifth since the show first abandoned its basic, chart-hugging format. The Guardian's ratings figures in this piece should be taken with caution, mind: the relaunch edition did pull in 1.5 million more than were watching last week, but it was an hour-long special, was heavily promoted and as such would have expected to pick up a few extra viewers - especially as half of it wasn't up against Corrie.

But Andy, here's a clue: You play the number one. You then go down the chart, playing anything that's doing better than, or as good as, last week, unless they were on the show the week before. And so on, until the show is filled up. That's the format. No download charts, no new releases; no chats with the Fame Academy rejects in the Star Bar. I would also suggest presenters being drawn from Radio One djs, but that would mean Chris Moyles would be in on it, so let's not.

ACTUALLY ROBBIE: You're confusing 'depressed' with 'self-pitying', I think you'll find. And, frankly, people with depression have got enough problems to cope with, without you trying to muscle in on their condition.

DOES BRITNEY COME ROUND TO YOUR HOUSE AND DRESS YOU GIRL UP IN A BOOBTUBE, TOO?: Teachers leader Jim O'Neil has got himself all flustered and angry at what popstars are doing to our kids:

"Someone has to say 'stop' to the dumbing down of standards in our society. Kylie Minogue might be a great singer but in many of these things you can see more of her bottom than you hear of her voice... [Christina Aguilera] is another one who likes to show off her legs. Britney Spears was promoted as being ideal for girls - the virgin thing and everything else. Now that seems to have gone - she's quite raunchy now, when I think back to the fact she was projected as this country girl with flowing skirts and petticoats."

We're not sure who he's thinking of here, but we suspect he might have confused Britney with Billie Jo Spears.

Now, we've mentioned before that we find things like the marketing link-up between Aguilera and Barbie is a bit disturbing, but the general point - that there are raunchy popstars and that is bad is very, very wrongheaded. The problem lays with parents who don't bother to pay any attention or thought into what it is their children are consuming - the ones who will think nothing of letting their eight year old go to see the Stripped Tour, or who dress their preteens up in hotpants because its what Kylie wears. The existence of saucy young popstrels in short skirts isn't a bad thing in itself - we tend to think done well, it can be a very good thing indeed - it's the lack of parental (or guardianial) supervision that causes the problems. Kylie doesn't let your daughter dress like a strumpet. You do.

MATHROCK: Michaela Stephens and the Inquirer have done some interesting maths on the RIAA plans to sue everyone, anyone and everybody which demonstrates another drawback to the PR disaster that is issuing lawsuits like they were Hello Kitty ecards. Working on an assumption that the RIAA can issue seventy five subpoenas a day, and assuming that all the cases are dealt with instantly, it would keep them busy for over two thousand years to work their way through all the sixty million downloaders they claim are active in the US. Since this isn't practical, they reckon the RIAA will only sue enough people to have an effect on everyone - if one in a million users get sued, for example, people might reason the chances of being caught are so slight as to be not worth considering. On the basis that you'd need to catch one out of ten downloaders to register with people, that would be about two hundred year's worth of suing. It's abundantly clear that the RIAA doesn't have the time and - more importantly - the resources to actually pursue filesharers through the courts. If their unpleasant little sneers don't tell you that they're just throwing their weight about like playground bullies, let the proof of the calculator reassure you.

LEMONBALLS: Rockrage has more about the Limp Bizkit trashing. The band were playign as support to Metallica, and even Metallica fans aren't that dumb. They'd been booing the very mention of the name Bizkit during the earlier support, and the boos turned to trash-lobbing as soon as Fred and the boys took the stage. It seems at first Fred thought the catcalls were some sort of badge of honour, and tried to encourage them (although, of course, merely by not fucking off there and then he was doing that), but when he suddenly twigged that the crowd actually did, indeed, hate him and his young teens version of rebellion, he started to rant and, revealing his true colours, decided that calling the town of Chicago 'gay' would be a lacerating insult.

The highlight of all this is that he took a lemon in the place where his bollocks would be. We don't know why someone would have taken a lemon to a Metallica gig; we don't want to know. But we do wish they'd had a coconut, too.

[NB: Hey, kids, it's not cool to throw things at bands onstage. Unless, of course, the band have been encouraging you to do so.]

Fred managed twenty minutes before running off stage to hide. Your way or the highway, Fred? Your way seems to be the highway.

WHERE'S THE ARM?: Actually, Mark Arm is here, in the Tacoma News Tribune talking about how Mudhoney are still going despite the original plan being to last for about a year; and how when the young guys go off to war, the older guys can get plenty. It's also an appreciation of the difference a great venue can make to the musical fortunes of a small town - in this case, Hells Kitchen.

SMALL EXPLOSION: Ms Dynamite has apparently given birth to a baby boy. We've decided to not bother with the bouncing baby/bouncing bomb gag we'd been mulling for the last seven months or so.

AT LEAST SHE'S BEHIND THE CAMERA: Madonna to executive produce movie about a music journalist. Which explains why she can be seen running up and down the street with her hands clapped over her ears singing "lalalala never heard of almost famous lalalalala." We're presuming thy'll try and keep her as far out of the way as possible - because, after all, what actor is going to want a critique from Maddy?

PROGOBIT: Eric Braunn of Iron Butterfly - albeit for two years - has died at the age of fifty-two.

YOU'RE GARBAGE. HERE'S YOUR GARBAGE: Limp Bizkit discover if you fling shit at an audience, they'll start to toss it back.

GOOD NEWS. THAT'S EXCEPT FOR READERS IN AMERICA, WHO WILL HAVE THEIR OWN MISERY: Stereophonics to concentrate all their efforts on America from the start of September - so, that's Kelly Jones, available for odd-jobbing from October.

Monday, July 28, 2003

THIS WEEK, UP FOR EVICTION: IT'S FAME ACADEMY: First episode opens to even less attention than last time; local council threatens to ban the programme from doing the weekly big show in the Academy itself. We don't really imagine that it'd be a major problem for the show if they get nixed - just a bit of a nibbling away at Endemol's bottom line for the series.

TALKING OF OLD GUYS...: We were deeply amused by the breakfast TV over the weekend suggesting that Mick Jagger looks great for being sixty, ignoring the two facts that (i) stood next to Keef, the Pope would look like Natalie Imbruglia and (ii) when he was thirty, he looked like he was sixty. The reason why Mick seems to be so fit is because he has finally started to look as ragged as he should be, rather than way too old for his age. C'mon, he was only forty when he did Undercover. As a child, we assumed he was at least eighty.


NAZI SCUM FUCK OFF: Having tutted over the Pride boys getting into bed with Clear Channel, it's nice to be able to actually go "ah... genuine music and politics and stuff", with the kicking-off of the love music, hate racism tour. Every date you get the almost-so-wonderful they should be stuffed Miss Black America, Antihero and Cultural Ice Age, plus local support too. The remaining dates are:
Mon 28 July Cardiff
Tues 29 July Exeter
Weds 30 July Brighton
Thu 31 July Stoke-on-Trent
Sat 2 August Scarborough
Sun 3 August Carlisle
Mon 4 August Blackburn
Tue 5 August Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Wed 6 August Dudley
Fri 8 August London - Brixton
Sun 10 August Bury St.Edmunds
Mon 11 August Cambridge
Fri 8 August London - West End (MBA/CIA split LMHR benefit single launch party)

As the last date suggests, there's going to be a split single to raise funds as well as - hey - consciousness. To date, Ford don't seem to be interested in sponsoring the event.

MEN DIE TOUCHING BADLY EARTHED APPLIANCES ANNOUNCE GIGS: Dogs Die In Hot Cars singer Craig Macintosh got an electric shock on stage and had to go to hospital. It's still a really, really shit name for a band.

TAKING LIBERTINES; LIBERTINE'S LIBERTY CURTAILED: What I see we're now calling 'estranged Libertine' Pete has had his collar felt - he's been arrested and charged with burglary, apparently. And when he had such a lucrative career to fall back on...

SHE WAS PROBABLY SCARED IN CASE IT WAS FULL OF IMMIGRANTS: Dannii Minogue - brightest woman alive? She's onstage, and sees a bloke get into trouble on a nearby lake. She tries to point and get the audience to notice to send help to the man. The audience, unsurprisingly, think it's part of a wacky new dance routine and go wild, in a mild, its-not-her-sister sort of way.

Of course, she could have stopped singing and said "Hey, look, there's a guy out there who might drown."

Clearly, she thought it was better to leave the bloke to struggle on his own rather than make it obvious she was miming. Luckily, the bloke managed to save himself, and nobody really cares if ole' ghoul face mimes her songs, since her entire career is little more than her pretending to be her sister anyway.

THE COLD, HARD SLAP AS THE REAL WORLD TAKES ITS REVENGE: Jon Lee (ex-S Club) finds being in a musical 'a challenge' because he actually has to sing - every night...

QUICK! CORRUPT THEM FAST: The NME is starting vote-taking for its meaningless list of most voted-for records ("exciting new interactive chart") that it's sharing the revenue stream from ("presenting in association with") MTV2. We're a little amused by current NME editor Conor McNicholas*' quote: NME invented the original music charts so it's totally appropriate that we should take them back in 2003 by introducing the definitive chart for fans of great music. Over many beers with our new friends at MTV2 we discovered we share a passion for brilliant bands and brilliant tunes now we want to get music fans involved. Well, actually, NME invented the singles chart rather than "the original music charts" - there were lists of best-selling sheet music around when the Musical Express was still merged with the Accordian Times. And ios it perhaps a little disappointing that he doesn't see anything slightly shaming about his little "lots of beers" scenario, in that it basically implies that reading the nme, you wouldn't guess that the paper had a passion for bands and tunes? It's like the editor of Cage and Aviary Bird saying "it wasn't until I went to dinner with the team from Trill that they realised our magazine had any interest in budgies at all..."

* - Conor McNicholas is a brilliant name, because it's not easy to say - you've got that double 'c' thing going on which makes it the name equivalent of extreme sports.

DUCK Andi Peters, the former human half of a double act with Edd the Duck, is seizing control of Top of the Pops by rejoining the BBC to become Executive Producer (Popular Music), parachuting him into the chair at the top of Ver Pop's table. Chris Cowey, meanwhile, the man credited with "saving" the show by constantly fiddling with the format and diluting it with every new trick, has decided strangely simultaneously to leave the BBC. Lets hope he takes the Star Bar with him.

Peters' remit at the BBC seems to be to be in charge of "tunes the young people might like" and at least he hassome links with TOTP - he presented it a few times when the show was being harried along the route of "if it's for children, let's have children's presenters on it." And Peters' T4 has shown a commitment to music beyond the bleeding obvious. But we're concerned that 'popular music' (covering Glastonbury and Later with Jools as well) is being seen as synomous with teenagers, and we're also a little bit dubious how the Executive Producer of TOTP is going to be allowed to continue co-presenting the Hit Music Sunday Show on Capital, a show that's based on a totally different chart to the one used by the BBC. Is it possible for a man to believe that The Only Chart That Counts varies depending on which day of the week it is?

Edd The Duck is currently head of New Media for Carlton.

THIS GOT A SEAL?: Apparently, Joe Strummer gave his seal of approval to Honeypunk's cover of Should I Stay Or Should I Go? shortly before his death. Having heard it, we're wondering exactly how shortly before he died this would have been. Or maybe he said "You can release that thing over my dead body" and they took his keeling over to be a sign? In a way, though, we're quite taken by the thing - it's everything that Tatu was meant to be, we think. Of course, if they ever come near us we'll be firing at them with a gun, but...

FAME ACADEMY: We happened to see this on Saturday, and we think we spotted why the last series was rubbish. Poked amongst the boys and girls who could have been shaken from a packet of Hear'Say flakes, there were two interesting and engaging personalities - a bloke with overtones of a Danny Ladytron/Jarivs Cocker nature - whose name we didn't catch - and a belter called Ladonna from Birmingham. Obviously, both were kicked out, leaving the Sneddonesque. If this happens every time they're loading up the Academy, aren't they going to end up with the blandest of the bland? (NB: Look at last year if you don't get the hint). Really, in everyone's interests, there should be some sort of way of ensuring a mix in the show (You know - some people who aren't conventionally attractive, some people who can sing) - maybe by not leaving the casting up to people with mobile phones?

CHARTWATCH: Beyonce finally loses it at the top of the singles chart, being replaced by Daniel Beddingfield (Never Gonna Leave Your Side) ; he must be the first New Zealander to have a UK number one since… well, since we were born, at least. This doesn't, unfortunately, manage to make him any more interesting. Daniel's always seemed to us to be The Bloke Who Couldn't Be Arsed to Queue For Pop Idol; we suspect that the record buying public constantly get him confused with Darius and buy his records on that basis. Both artists shaved at about the same time, too. Luckily, Beyonce sells enough to force The Stereophonics into a debut at number three with Maybe Tomorrow, but that's still a depressing indication of just how many people can be bothered to go out and swap cash for a slightly-new Stereophonics single. Other Top Ten newbies are Deepest Blue, with Deepest Blue at seven, and Tripe Eight who, unsatisfyingly, enter at nine with Give Me A Reason. Triple 8 are almost so background-noise that all we can think to mention is they share their name with the page Ceefax uses for subtitles; we suspect selecting this feature when they appear on Top of the Pops might be the best way to enjoy them.

All-American Rejects' Swing Swing mystifyingly is in at thirteen and it's likely that Goldfrapp only making 25 with Strict Machine will be a bit of a blow to the label, what with all the effort they've been putting in. In her Catatonia days, Cerys Matthews' record label would have held a crisis meeting if she'd entered at 43 with Caught In The Middle; nowadays, with her new countryish direction and downsized lifestyle, that'll probably be seen as a good result. The Tindersticks will be gloomy with a number 60 placing for Sometimes It Hurts, but that's just them, isn't it? And both Melanie C and One True Voice benefit from the summer radio station promo circuit, as On The Horizon and Shakespeares Way With Words manage to return to the lower reaches of the 75. Still underperforming, perhaps, but a little less shamefully.

In Albums, Beyonce holds firm, although there a single-aided rally for Daniel Beddingfield sees him snapping at her heels with Gotta Get Through This (up from 13 to two); Super Furries' Phantom Power comes in at a satisfying number four. Kym Marsh's Standing Tall enters at number nine; not as bad as it could have been, but hardly an earth-shattering start considering the hoofing round the chatshow circuit she's been doing. If she doesn't improve next week, she'll need to start sending her CV to Bolloms. Janes Addiction's Strays makes a disappointing 14 - did they come back for this? - but we'd imagine they're expecting a long haul for the title anyway; Lollopalooza headlines are all well and good but they don't shift records in Daventry. Dolly Parton's heavily-supported (oh, stop, would you?) Ultimate makes a tidy number 17. Dizzee Rascal proves that getting stabbed has no sales uplift unless you actually get killed in the event (Boy In Da Corner, 40).

The extent to which you can milk a stone has now been scientifically proven - The diehard fans obviously bought the Manics Bsides compilation in the first week; this week, it languishes at 48, awaiting such time as it might be a more attractive "three for twenty quid" proposition.

PRIDE IN THE NAME OF CASH: So, as the British summer grinds onwards, this weekend it was the turn of Gay Pride to push its way to the front of the festival calendar. Johann Hari wrote a confusing piece in the Independent [subscription required; although, confusingly, we picked it up for free in a Toby Carvery] - he tut-tutted over complaints about the lavish corporate sponsorship of the event; in a nutshell, Hari couldn't understand the demands of the politico-gays that it should be a march - "why should we all share a political platform just because we're gay?" he asked. Which isn't unreasonable, except in the context of an article saying how great Pride is - because, why should we all share a music festival just because we're gay? And if the aim is to state Pride, isn't that a political stance in itself? (Although if Ford are happy to bankroll the event, and the Royal Parks are happy to host it, why the need to make a statement of Pride? We're here and we're heavy consumers?)

And there is a slightly stinking smell at the heart of this year's politics. Gay Pride was brought to you by, ahem, Clear Channel. Talking to the Guardian, the event defended the hook-up: "Jason Pollock, the festival director since 1999, said: "The question is, do we worry about radio stations in the States or do we want to put on the pride event in Hyde Park?"

So, that's the face of Gay Politics in 2003: It boils down to the question "What's more important - freedom of speech for all, or being able to get an easy tube ride to see Liberty X play a set?" We know where we'd have hoped the answer would be, but Gay Pride seems to have gone off in a different direction. So maybe it's left to us to "worry about Radio Stations in the States", shall we?

Clear Channel's Champ 101.3 and The Zone 96.7 stations happily take money from , and carries advertising for, American Renewal's political campaigns. AR is the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council. Amongst their 'good works' is an exhaustive campaign against rights for same-sex couples, peppered with spurious nonsense linking gays and child sex abuse and listing the negative health effects of being homosexual.

But this, of course, is about US radio, so why should the organisers of Gay Pride be bothered?

Why should they worry about Jan Mickelson? Mickelson is on American Radio. He broadcasts a show on WHO Radio out of Des Moines, and took the opportunity of the Rooselvelt High School's day of silence to launch a week-long rant against the Straight and Gay Alliance, homosexual perverts and so on. That's a weeks-worth, mind - not a single outburst that got reigned in; a week of bile. Not that anti-gay programming is unusual on his show. But why should this bother Gay Pride, who have managed to persuade Jimmy Sommerville to sing some songs on a stage owned by the same company who smile benignly on Mickelson's shows?

When Michael Savage was dumped by MSNBC for a - heh - savage on-air attack on a gay caller - sorry, a sodomite pig who he hoped would get Aids and die - (his supposed apology seems to have consisted of saying that he thought he wasn't on air - which presumably would have made the Nuremburg Rallies palatable, had they not had the radio coverage they got), Clear Channel's KNEW-AM not only signed him up on the spot, but put him into the heart of their station. But this is about US Radio, and why should the people who have managed to book Soft Cell for a PA fret about that?

But then, maybe I'm just a bitter old bi-boy.

YES, YOU CAN - BUT WHY?: We suppose Roxio must think its worth relaunching the Napster brand for its not-very-detailed-new-download-service, but we're not so sure. "97 per cent of online music users recognise the Napster brand" they say hopefully, as if that would be justification enough, but is it going to work merely slapping it onto any old music-related service? Never mind the fact that 'napster 2.0' won't even be launching until Christmas (they hope) and so it'll be a cyber age since anyone used the service, the Napster brand had the values of slightly dodgy, edge-of-legality behaviour attached firmly to it. How would that connect itself to a legal, dull download service? And if the brand is so strong, why are Roxio having to try and stoke interest five months before going live?

EVE OF DESTRUCTION: Something or other to do with a falling out between Eve and some bunch of showbiz lawyery-types. Nothing to see here, move it along.

NOW, THAT DESERVES A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: We can only imagine the months of tortuous negotiations it's taken, but Sheila E has managed to put together a bill uniting musicians from right across the career of Prince. Except for Prince, of course.

The other staggering piece of information from this article is that Sheila E has her own brand of Drums for Children. We should at this juncture make it clear that No Rock always has an open door for products endorsed or marketed by rock stars, the more obscure the better.

NOT VERY: According to Ananova, More than 30,000 pop fans have been left disappointed after Gareth Gates cancelled an appearance at a music festival due to illness. Other acts appearing at Hebs Live and Loud in Glasgow's Hampden Park include Blue, Liberty X, Sugababes, Mis-Teeq, Busted, Girls Aloud, Dannii Minogue, Blazin Squad, Kym Marsh and Lisa Scott-Lee. We'd like evidence that the entire crowd would have been disappointed by Gareth failing to turn up. We're betting that more than a few would have been relieved.

WILLIAMS. SADLY, NOT KEN OR SHIRLEY: Robbie Williams, poor little lamb, got himself in danger:

"In an interview with Sara Cox being broadcast on her Breakfast Show, he said he has been regularly inviting members of the crowd on stage. He said: "I got one out one night and she'd not washed and she smelt, quite frankly."

Hmmm. Apart from being really ungallant - oh, how we laugh when your name is mooted as being a potential Bond - you think there might be something about being right at the front of a stadium rock gig that might make someone a little bit smelly, you knob?

But picking out Sabine he thought: "I'm going to have a good time here so I picked a good looking one.

"She gets up on stage and she puts her hands down my pants, her tongue down my mouth and she was trying to rip my vest off and I'm singing, trying to maintain the fact that these people think I'm a bit cool.

"At one point she was locked like a vice grip and she's writhing with me. I've tried to pull her off and sit her next to me but she straddles the top of me and starts grinding - now normally this wouldn't be a problem, but there's 60,000 other people there so I try to pull her hair to make it look sexy but I'm actually trying to pull her off of me."

Apart from the clanging, clanging self-aggrandisment in this story - like any bore in a pub with a 'she couldn't keep her hands off me' tale - and the grist to amateur psychologist's mill that robbie finds an aggressively sexual woman a threat - why does he think it's okay for him to "pick a good looking one" to "have a good time" but as soon as she reciprocates, he's having to pull her hair and squeal for his mother to come rescue him?

It gets worse, though:

Williams also said he realises he has now reached the Madonna and Michael Jackson proportions in terms of the audiences he can attract.

"When you're in the middle of a storm you don't actually know how big it is. And every now and again I ask myself who else plays stadiums? The Jacksons, Madonna, U2 and I go, 'bloody hell, I must be that big'.

"You can't get a perspective of what it is or who you are or what your fame's like because you're not looking at it from the outside. I'm just a bit giddy with my own success at the minute. I mean that in a very humble way."

Do you reckon the people at EMI have attempted to introduce him to the concept of 'humble'? And, more to the point, do you think he'll ever grasp it?

Robbie, fyi, some other acts that play in Stadiums:
Brighton and Hove Albion
The S Club 8
Atomic Kitten
The Dave Matthews Band.

There are stadium acts, and then there are stadium acts - in the same way there are theme parks, like Alton Towers, and there are Theme Parks, like JCB World.

CHIN CHIN, TIN TIN: Karl writes to us, with experiences of seeing the bloke who we still think of as the One True Duran Singer at his local Borders:

I've just got back home from seeing Stephen Duffy at Borders on Oxford Street so, in lieu of anyone else to wax lyrical to, I figured it may be of (possibly limited) interest...

The last time I went to an in-store appearance at Borders was at the very least surreal, with Michael J Sheehy singing songs about threesomes and Catholic guilt in the childrens' books section while indignant parents shook their collective heads. This time at least the event had moved upstairs to the music department.

The first thing that struck me about the man himself was how incredibly young he looked; and that he was somewhat amusingly, and no doubt purposefully, wearing a lilac coloured t-shirt. After a ten-minute delay due to 'technical problems' (because one man and an acoustic guitar can apparently have technical problems) Duffy was introduced as a 'folk-rock singer'. After saying hello and setting the scene by saying he'd sing us something, he asked if we wanted an old song or a new one. Unsurprisingly, the gathered throng of 40 or so people opted for an oldie, and 'The Girl Who Waved At Trains' was played, slowed down and turned into something much more beautiful than the jangly-indie style of the original.

He was obviously very nervous to begin with, but soon relaxed. He talked to the crowd, and asked why we were all 'gathered here tonight'. Answering thequestion himself, it was for some 'point-of-sale entertainment'. The new songs sounded as heart-breakingly wonderful as anything I've heard him do,and although I haven't listened to the new album yet, I guess it's got to be on the ever increasing 'must-buy' list. I just hope the beauty of the songs is captured with a full-band backing.

Forgetting the words to 'Family Coach', it was replaced in the set by 'Mayfly', the closest Duffy got to a proper rock song. He ended with 'She Freak' and then had an encore of 'Forest Brown.' Quite why he or Borders thought an encore was necessary is irrelevant, it prolonged the set by three minutes or so, and that's good enough for me!

All in all, it was a good mixture of the old and the new, he played to an appreciative audience for 50 minutes and, despite an empty threat, didn't play anything from his Nigel Kennedy collaboration. What more can you ask for?

We loved this. It's also interesting how Borders is slowly becoming almost the 6Music to Virgin and HMV's instore Radio One - and it's a lot nicer seeing an instore in a well designed, airy store like Borders than the horribly cluttered Mobile Phone and PS2 besmirched megastores. Plus you can get coffee in there, too, which is nice. Just so long as there's no criticism of the US President's legs, and everything will be fine.