Friday, September 05, 2003

YOU COULD BE THE NEW BILLIE PIPER: Remember - as she prepares to launch an "acting career" in the modern dress Canterbury Tales - Billie Evans spun her not especially distinguished period as the Debbie Gibson of the Home Counties out of a Smash Hits advert she appeared in. So, if you take up the nme's offer to appear in its relaunch commercial. We don't know for sure, but we're guessing the ad will feature young people forming a crowd cheering like they were at a rock gig. The camera will pull back, and it'll be NME on the stage. Or perhaps in the front row. That's our guess, anyway.

LIKE SONIC FLOWERED GROOVE NEVER HAPPENED: As points out, Primal Scream's Best Of collection seems to have neglected the first ten years of their existence. Mind you, it can't be because they don't want to be embarrased by their past transgressions - if you were trying to preserve your air of studied cool, surely you'd be more likely to find space for the sublime Velocity Girl rather than Jailbird? And while Loaded is rightly there in all its commence de sciele glory, by not including its fey-indie alter ego, the beautiful I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have is a US foreign policy move - all the glory, none of the understanding of how we got there.

LETTERS ABOUT LETTERS: Thanks to Karl for this:

There's a special section on the letters page in today's (as in Thursday's) edition of USA Today headed 'Madonna can kiss career goodbye' (OK, it's not that special - but three people have written in and it gives the paper another chance to reprint the photo)...  One scribe points out that Madonna's "recent CD could have done better, and now she looks desperate to be on top of the charts, where she has not been for years.  She's an embarrassment to her generation."  Meanwhile, another letter is more concerned about USA Today's front-page photo and its effects on her 10-year-old daughter.  She says "As for my family, we'll discuss why same-sex kissing, like what was shown on MTV, is wrong, and we'll discontinue reading publications that highlight or promote such behavior."
Slightly more interesting is the fact that "Cheaper CDs on the way" made it onto the front page.  But then again, so did the results of a study into how many lobsters were caught by the end of August in Maine.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

THE PROTECTION IS WHAT YOU DESERVE: You've got to love R Kelly's bodyguard who managed to shoot himself in the leg when asked to hand his gun in. Boy, nobody's going to take on Kelly, are they, when he's got people like that looking out for him...

DON’T SHOOT THE PEOPLE LIVING OFF THE BACKS OF THE PIANO PLAYER: David Munns, the vice-chairman of EMI, has written an article for BBC News Online to tell us that stealing is bad, mmmkay? Let’s see what he has to say…

The music industry came in for quite a kicking from users in the BBC News Online article on UK record sales and prices.
The gap between the perception of how record companies like EMI work and the actual reality is now a chasm.

“the gap between how we’d like you to think about us and what you actually think about is a chasm”, surely? And why use ‘chasm’ to indicate a large gap? Why not ‘a gap as wide as the difference between US and UK CD prices?’

Investing in new artists and music is not a 100% science.
Thousands of new albums and singles are released every year in every conceivable genre. We use our best judgements on what we think people will like.
Sometimes we're right, sometimes we're wrong, but no one can force anybody to like or dislike something, and that includes us.

Well, yeah, EMI does stick out a load of old rubbish, it’s true, and no amount of clever marketing will make some of the old nags’ buttocks you release move off the shelf. And while you can’t guarantee that every record you put out will be a top seller, this constant whining about the things you ‘invest’ in which don’t recoup is a bit cod - any company expects some failures; but the big labels have become so poor at the job they’re supposed to do it’s more a surprise when they manage a rare success.

Various accusations of "greed" were thrown at record companies in the piece.
EMI is a business which means that yes, we are trying to make profits, but what business isn't?

A lot of other businesses in the arts and media sectors, actually - they believe that what they produce is for the public good, and so set out not to make a supernormal profit but just to break even. Of course, it wouldn’t work for everybody. But there’s no reason why a well-run record label couldn’t be established on co-operative principles.

Our financial statements are all publicly available for anyone who wants to look at them, and no one could say they show excessive profitability.

Third of a billion pounds last year, wasn’t it? Hardly small change, especially in what EMI tries to portray as a risky, tricky, cash-draining business. Of course, normally the labels would also point to all the staff they keep employed off the back of the records bought by the public, but having dumped hundreds of people last year they can hardly claim to be using their ‘investments’ to keep their postrooms and cleaners in gainful employment.

When it comes to the internet, EMI has made the vast majority of its music available online, and we're working hard to add more all the time. We also now sell singles online as soon as they appear on the radio.

Yeah, you’ve finally gotten round to it – although the tracks aren’t available to everyone and in Europe come wrapped in a confusing, over-priced, Microsoft-powered mush. Its galling to hear the boss of a major label talking as if they have been at the cutting edge of music on the web – at least a little acceptance that they’ve spent the last five years first fighting the very idea of music online, and now have given in to the inevitable in a foot-dragging fashion is called for?

I sometimes wonder if it's because music is intangible that people forget that there are many more costs involved than merely manufacturing a piece of plastic.
There's a lot that goes into the retail price - VAT, retailer's cut, distribution costs, advertising and other marketing costs, producers' fees and studio time, not to mention the artists and songwriters who need to be paid.
Manufacturing a CD is only one very small part of the total cost yet that is the one that people focus on.

No, no it’s not. Artists and songwriters get paid very little, thanks to the machinations of the labels and stinking contracts they sign when they’re young and hungry – the sort of dodgy contracts that George Michael and Prince get overturned aren’t the exception; its just you have to be incredibly successful to fight your way out of the sharp practices. Most bands don’t make shit. And yet EMI makes a third of a billion quid after their costs have been taken out.

Who knows what it costs to manufacture perfume? Who cares?

Eh? Where did that come from? For what it’s worth, perfume costs very, very little to manufacture – the main costs are in the marketing and packaging, although even that doesn’t explain the high price of the stuff. Perfume costs a lot, simply because you’re buying something for the status of it. Cheap perfume wouldn’t sell. This is basic, schoolboy economics and yet the vice president of EMI doesn’t appear to understand it. That would make me think carefully if I were an EMI shareholder. And is he really trying to compare a Robbie Williams CD with a bottle of Dior?

And whatever any of us feel about the price of anything, that doesn't justify stealing.
Illegal file-sharing is theft under copyright law.
Is it okay to shoplift if you disagree with the prices a shop charges? Would you steal a Mercedes and justify it by saying it was because you couldn't afford one?

This is, of course, spurious and he knows it. The analogy doesn’t work because stealing a Mercedes and listening to music on your computer isn’t the same thing. When Jeffrey Archer was caught taking those suits out of the store, he claimed he was just trying them on. Which was, of course, bollocks. But, mostly, when people download music, they are just seeing what the music looks like in the light. It’s often a first step to buying lots more. And the sort of people who download because they wouldn’t buy a CD normally don’t represent lost sales. What’s interesting is that EMI seem to view their product as just another commodity.

We love music too, but without some profits we won't be able to invest in more music in the future.

Let’s just pretend that a third of a billion quid is something more than “some profits.” But you’re rubbish at working out what the public like; if you do sign a good band you don’t give them long enough to make a couple of mistakes before they bloom but drop them in order to pump more money into vaudeville hoofers like Williams; you blow millions on Mariah Carey when anyone could have told you she was little more than a laughing stock. Why would it be a bad thing if you stopped pouring money away? If we do believe that EMI is in danger of going tits-up, maybe that’d be a good thing. Maybe it’d create a space for people who can cope with the music world as it is, rather than as it was fifty years ago, to have a go at actually releasing records which add to the gaiety of our nation.

TAKE ME HOME: Useful information reaches us from Graham Swallow:

Re: your question about the whereabouts of the subliminal 'Read My Lips' msg. It was rather oddly hand-written on a scrap of paper stuck to the front of the (original Victorian) fireplace via a substance I suspect to be blu-tac, or as Blue Peter would describe it, a  sticky coloured plasticine.
I noticed it at the time, but didn't pick up on the relevance, but it was just strange and out of place....

Thanks for that, Graham...

MUM, THE RIAA IS AT THE DOOR...: One of the ordinary punters being pur-sued by the RIAA is fighting back. 'Nycfashiongirl' is challenging the subpoeana issued by the large Record Label cartel on the grounds that they don't have any right to be poking about watching what she's doing on the internet, what with them not being actually a law enforcement agency.

The BBC reports: In court papers, the lawyers said they may argue the RIAA violated state and federal laws by tracking what was passing through the woman's internet connection as its investigators scoured file-sharing networks looking for songs to download.
RIAA vice-president Matt Oppenheim called the arguments "surprisingly shallow". He added that the claim about violating the woman's internet address "reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how the internet works". Mr Oppenheim also said the RIAA was immune from rules on unreasonable searches on the internet, because it did not have links with law enforcement agencies.

So... let's get this straight, then: the official RIAA line is that it doesn't need to respect people's privacy as much as law enforcement bodies because, erm, it isn't one? And he calls nycfashiongirl's legal grasp surprisingly shallow. Is it really RIAA policy that anyone can do what the fuck they like on the internet's backbones providing they're not a proper law enforcement agency? This is great news, surely, for the hackers who routinely deface the RIAA website; hey, they can do what they like as they aint cops. And Oppenheim seems to be suggesting that simply because you can seek out details of who is doing what with whom online, then everyone is allowed to. I'm kind of taking this to be a green light for us all to start reading the emails whizzing back and forth between BMG, Warners and EMI about the merger. Because if they complain, we can just say "Hey, don't you understand how the internet works?"

This is on a glorious par with the Daily Mail's belief - expressed when it stole TV Cream material and stuck it in to fill a gap between Anne Leslie and the stock market prices - that the rules are somehow different on the internet. When it comes to big companies, of course.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU MILK A KISS?: I've seen suckling goats in seige cities that get less milked than the Britney-Maddy snog-up, you know, and we're reluctant to add to the furore (again), but we couldn't help thinking how much more it would have meant if they'd arranged it so that Madonna had made Britney and Christina snog instead. But maybe we're just desperately in need of some sort of 'action'. It's also interesting how the whole incident is being viewed through different prisms according to where you prefrences lay - Britney fans (amongst which, if we had to sign a sheet, we'd probably number ourselves) seeing it as a token of affection and appreciation by the younger artist for her inspiration, while Christina was just tail-gating; Christina fans - once they'd put some cooling ice on their elbow and wiped down the TV screen - commented that, hey, Xtina is up for anything but wasn't that Britney a bit false. While Madonna fans? They seem to be nodding going "well, it's a cynical move, of course, but it seems to have worked."

Meanwhile, Britney claims the kiss 'wasn't rehearsed' and says it's the first time she's ever kissed a woman (although surely pretty Justin Timberlake comes close?), "and I hadn't kissed anyone in a long time, so that should last me for a while." Yes, we dare say if Madonna had touched us with her mouth we'd feel physically incapable of kissing anyone again for a long time, too.

Somehow, this online chance for the whole world to shoulder in on the act and kiss Britney doesn't quite live up to the promise. Not only did she not even show a flicker of interest, as far as I can tell we've not made a single front page.

CASH SLASH SHOCKER: Universal in the US realises that if CDs weren't so fucking expensive, people would buy more of them and cuts the prices of its albums by nearly a third. Now, since we in the UK were already paying masses over the odds for recorded music compared with our American Friends, we're waiting for action on this side of the ocean. Remember, kids: Universal can sell CDs in America for the equivalent of eight quid and still make a profit - not just back catalogue, the whole darn thing. Don't buy their excuses for why you sometimes pay double that in your local branch of HMV. We're being ripped off, bled dry, fiscally raped and rapaciously fisted by the labels.

EMINEM TURNS WILLY WONKA: In a bid to try and shift copies of the Obie Trice album, his mentor Eminem is putting golden tickets to win a visit to the new Eminem sessions inside three CD cases. Now, while it's a neat promotional idea, if we were Obie we'd be wondering just how many of our sales were to people who didn't buy to hear our music, but merely to see if there was a ticket to go watch some other guy do music.

How much do we wnat to bet the lucky three either work in record shops, or are closely connected to people who do?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

CRIME? THE ANSWER IS TO BRING BACK THE STRAP: If you are in trouble, and no one else can help you, and you can find them... maybe you can hire Arab Strap. Stacey Sievewright of ver Strap was proceeding in a westerley direction when what the evening Times describes as 'the pop star' came across a couple in distress. The Strapper pounced and chased away three guys who were trying to rob the couple in a Glasgow restaurant, called the police, and then disappeared into the night. Citizens can sleep safely knowing that the indie bands are making the streets safe for us.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: ... and a paw-mark from Patch edition

Our first awareness of Kings Reach Tower came at an early age: in the little story about the anthroporphic housewife mouse that appeared on the bottom of one of the pages of Jack and Jill (we didn't like Jack and Jill, but Teddy Bear had merged with it and so we were had over a barrel - this was also, come to think of it, the first time we learned of the capracious way IPC would fold one title into another, like the Melody Maker into NME, for example). We can't recall what the mouse was called, but we do remember a story where, in order to provide her village with advertising billboards like the big people had (we know how unlikely it is that creatures would voluntarily choose to blight their own environment, but we'd imagine Clear Channel have already started looking into how to sell to voles, otters and weasels anyway), the mouse flew on the back of a seagull to Kings Reach Tower, where she stole some front pages of comics, which she then used to make the adverts. For the next few years, the name of the building was one of those things that bobbed just outside the consciousness - along with Gordon and Gotch being sole agents for South Africa and that whole being registered as a newspaper at the post office; something comfortably ever present in the small print, not quite ever making itself clear what it really meant. The next time Kings Reach Tower really broke out of the foot of the inside back pages was when the NME moved there shortly after I'd become a regular reader, taking rooms on the floor above the Melody Maker. And with those two titles sharing premises, it seemed as if the butt-ugly block was the very heart of the music-industry, albeit a two-headed one (if, erm, a heart can have two heads); teenage years fair whizzed by wondering if the two teams of pop magazine rivals used different lifts, or if the NME would stamp its feet extra-heavy when the Maker had a tight deadline. We also wondered, of course, if they could see Sounds offices from up there. Those days are long past - no Maker any more, and soon, perhaps no Kings Reach Tower. With the usual disdain shown for the quirks of British Culture by the International Media, AOL Time Warner announced plans this week (reported by Media Guardian) to pull the building down - perhaps raising something new in its place, or maybe moving all the staff out to god knows where. If they do decide to go ahead, we hope bits of the building will be sold, in the style of Wembley turf or the Berlin Wall. A lot of history has been written in those walls. Plus those Andrew WK covers, but nowhere's perfect.

So, quickly, then, to this week's NME - "We're fighting a war against normality" proclaim The Cooper Temple Clause on the cover. Sadly, they're looking shite these days. And there's a teaser on the front page - 'Meg White joins a new band' - shock, shock, horror, horror - have the Stripes actually split? No, of course not, it's merely that sauntering onstage with Brendan Benson that they're barking up.

News: Jet go to prison and play a gig in Pentonville. Apparently someone broke into their dressing room and shat all over it while they were onstage. Yeah, if Jet tried to play a gig at us, we'd stage a dirty protest, too.

This week's 'Who's that Jackie Wilson' moment I: since the Strokes new look owes a debt to Tron, the nme explains to us kiddies exactly what Tron is. Thanks for that, guys.

Yeah, of course theres a pciture of Madonna and Britney kissing. I.E THEY ARE LEZBEENS.

Bobby Gillespie has been miffed by the tabloids running stories about him and Kate Moss - he seems to think they're invading his privacy, when, of course they're not - they're merely invading Kate's. Yer average Sun reader probably doesn't recall That Band Who Won The Mecury Prize Ten Years Ago.

There's a nice obit of Ian MacDonald, and generous words about his importance both to music and the paper - wonder if there's anyone on the staff who'll be remembered like that come 2030?

"We asked our American readers whether the darkness will make it in the US" breathes the newsdesk. "The responses were vague and would only be used if there was a gap that needed to be filled, like, for example, the band wouldn't talk to us about their forthcoming US plans. Oh..."

Jet do the CD burning thing - You Am I, The Kinks, and Sam and Dave. "See, they're black. We don't have a problem with black people. Black people love us."

The poorly-named Thursday blah on about being anti-rock stars and punching people with Hulk gloves. And so on. They seem like nice, dull, men.

Jason Pierce of Spiritualized doesn't really want to answer questions about drugs, or the Darkness, or anything much. He does suggest that record companies are "throwing out release like ballast" in a bid to try and stop going out of business.

If the fact that The Cooper Temple Clause still hang out in the Purple Turtle makes you smile a small smile, it does us, too. Wonder when that last got a namecheck in the paper? The interview with them is good, easy reading,; you don't feel you know them any better but they seem clubbable enough. Who's that Jackie Wilson moment II: "Who is Philip Larkin"? - how dumb do they think the average reader is these days?

"Would you stab someone because you heard 'They Don't Know'?" asks Asher D of the So Solid Crew. Maybe not, but that's not really engaging with the critcism of the band, is it?. He's convinced that there are people out to "get" them - that, if we've got this right, "the government" are "out to shut down the whole urban music scene." Maybe Hutton could have a look at that one, too, then?

There's two pages of The Rapture (hey, proper bands getting decent chunks of space - if last week's pre-relaunch issue felt like end of term, now they're having fun while the bean counters are thrashing out repagination costs). Luke from the band wants to make a lot of money so his wife doesn't have to work as much. We can relate.

As they only agree to do interviews sperately, it seems likely that Outkast are going to split soon. We've read the interviews, and we can't see any way in which this would be to the detriment of the Wider World.

tim bugress - I believe - "the first worthwhile solo project since Shaun Ryder discovered Temazepam", 7
the rapture - echoes - "resonant music", 9
pretty girls make graves - the new romance - "screams quality and tunes", 7
laibach, WAT - "declare they are time itself", 6
my morning jacket - it still moves - "timeless", 8
smashmouth - get the picture? - "the kind of noise for which music is too generous a word", 2

sotw - franz ferdinand - darts of pleasure - "resistance is futile"
christina aguilera - can't hold us down - "so retarded you expect it to soil itself halfway through"
the robocop kraus -"gothic [married to[] psycho shouty rock"

hot hot heat - highbury garage - "nothing could dampen the flames"
babyshambles - earls court troubabdour cafe - "the audience are cheering, but there's nothing worth celebrating"
the rolling stones - london WC2 astoria - "they're an inspiration"

and finally, in response to an a letter about Jet's nonesense the other week, Tim Jonze asks "isn't it kind of exciting to witness a band too drug-fucked and dumb to keep a check of their own mouths?" Frankly, Tim, not once you're past twelve years old, no.

MUSE OVERCOMES HORSEFACED GIRL: Nice little chat between Playlouder and Muse's Chris, mainly focusing on the band's struggles to stop Celine Dion using their name (funnily enough, they were offered lots of cash, they said no, and then found out she was going to do it anyway - which is exactly what happened to them with the Nescafe track, isn't it? They must be the shittest people in the world at saying 'no' - a little more conviction can go a long way, boys). The band counter-warned if she did her show under the title 'Muse', they'd "blacken her name in France." We wonder what they were going to say about her.

I CALLED A CAB. NOW I SHALL CALL MY BRIEF: Never mind Chris Martin behaving like, well, Liam Gallagher - further evidence of the distance travelled from Nice Blokes by the Coldplay crew is offered by the curious case of Will Champion, his neighbour and the taxi. Will ordered a cab. His neighbour saw it pull up, needed a ride, and so nipped out and took it. Jacqueline Hall, the neighbour, claims that she didn't realise until later that he'd actually ordered it, but even if she had done the "Cab for Champion?" "Yes, that's me" switcheroo - well, it wouldn't reflect well on her but its the sort of stroke we all pull from time to time (On its wedding night, No Rock did something similar). The proportionate response would be to pretend it never happened, or else joke about it. Maybe a strained "look, please don't do that again because if I can't get to work on time, uh, we might not be able to make a record..." the next time they meet. Instead, Will sends a legal letter - instructions were issued to his solicitor - accusing her of criminal deception (yeah, the fraudulent usage of taxis is something that, left unchecked, can really destroy a society) and warning that a repetition of this sort of thing would be reported to the police.

Clearly young Will has too much money, and a slightly over-inflated sense of his own importance.

SORRY FOR THE WRONG REASONS: There are many reasons that newspapers might feel the need to apologise to their readers for carrying pictures of the Britney-Madonna kiss - confusing marketing activity with news; failing to clearly mark "event staged for photographs" on the shot; just putting people off their breakfasts. But not, Atlanta Constitution, because your readers are so homophobic they think a picture of two women kissing is like a graphic war photo.

WE'RE NOT SURE WHAT IT ALL MEANS: This is about to drop off the bottom of Media Monkey:

Speaking of Five, Monkey enjoyed the weird subliminal advertising in its previous programme, the Curse of Blue Peter. While Janet Ellis was interviewed about her time on the show before she was sacked for - shock horror - getting pregnant out of wedlock, Monkey spied the legend "read my lips" scrawled on the top of her fireplace. Which was, of course, the name of her daughter Sophie Ellis Bextor's debut solo album. How odd. Anthea Turner resisted the temptation to write on her kitchen wall "panto, Wigan" or wherever she'll be appearing this Christmas.

What we need to know is: scrawled? How? Had Sophie gone round her Mum's with a No.7 Sunset Blush lippy defacing all the surfaces she could find in a frenzy of self-promotion? Or - slightly more likely - would what they have seen be the cover of the CD itself, where the name was, erm, scrawled over the cover art?

WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE WORST WHILE WE CAN STILL SAY...: Well, we thought the sight of scummy chancer-building-types sticking up posho flats on the place and trying to pretend that somehow it was still the Hacienda would probably be the last insult for the memory of the Place That Brought You A Guy Called Gerald (and Bez). But, oh no, somehow invoking the name of the Hacienda for a clubnight in Shoreditch manages to be tackier and sadder than that. Sure, Graeme Park and Mike 'could we please get through this without mentioning the M-People?' Pickering have links with the Manchester Club, but trying to cash them in for a few pints down the smoke... [sigh]... it's the clubbing version of the Madonna Gap adverts, isn't it?

They'll be digging up the Factory Cat and remixing its body next.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OFFCUTS AND COLDCUTS ANYWAY?: The Libertines elect to release a kind of half-way album of songs that apparently they couldn't bear to lose from the first album but just didn't have space for on it. Apparently they're just as good as the ones that made the final cut. This seems to be either a desperate stopgap measure while they sort out the Pete fiasco, or else a flag of surrender being run up to announce that, no, without Pete, they don't have much else to offer. What's funny is that talking to the nme, Carl called it a 'bastard' album; by the time Ananova had pickedup the story, it's become an "illegitmate" album.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

THE KISS-OFF: So, while we were desperately poking in identical boxes looking for USB cables and the alarm clock, there was the MTV awards and the Britney-Christina-Madonna "lesbian kissing." It was covered expertly in this week's Rocking Vicar mailout:

Parishioner Mary Ingoldby: "Madonna's kiss-up with Britney Spears on the MTV Video Awards the other night told me three things: 1) How far down the dumper must both participants be that snogging each other on television is the only way of getting their sagging careers back on track? 2) TV is so unspontaneous that they clearly had to rehearse this little caper with the director first; you even got a "reaction shot" from a camera in the audience kneeling beside former Spears paramour Justin Timberlake (his reaction: slightly bored as it happens. He'd probably been at the run-through) And 3) this kind of thing is considerably more exciting to the male members of your household - in fact my eldest son and husband referred to it all night as "hot girl-on-girl action" rather than "tragic old biffers in desperate attention bid"

While we agree on point two - we suspect that, rather like with the budget in days gone by, there was an MTV official with a big pile of press releases, peeling them off as the kisses happened - and sort of agree on point three; although we'd have to add the words "slightly sheltered" before male, we're not so sure about point one. It seems to us that Christina would take any opportunity to get on the front pages, career to save or not; and Britney's post-snog interview with Entertainment Tonight made it seem like she was fulfilling a fantasy. It's Madonna's motivation that looks the shabbiest - the lesbian kiss to try and re-invigorate a fading entertainment franchise is well known in TV (Roseanne, late period Ellen, Emmerdale, and Friends, where it was a two-for-one shot at perking up the sitcom and Winona Ryder's career in one snog) but coming at the same time as Madonna's attempts to out-prance Missy Elliot in the Gap Ads, the MTV display makes it clearer than ever that Madonna has morphed into the real life Les-from-Creme-Brule; desperately trying to prove that she's with the kids, but also clinging to the back catalogue and shamelessly whoring it out. What she's done to Get In The Groove is basically taking out a mortgage on her past classics in the hope it'll make her somehow relevant in the twenty-first century; it's not recouped and so the only effect has been to make a Great Song somehow shabbier. It's only fit for an Atomic Kitten cover now. An old woman kissing young girls? A sideshow, but one that's made unsettling by the wrapping of another greatest hit around it. She's trying to say "This is what I am", all she has to offer is "this is what I was." The granny who wants us to think she's still got it. A shame.

DARKNESS AT CHRISTMAS: Ah, so how does the Darkness Christmas single fit with the 'are they the new Queen or the new Bon Jovi?' debate? We're not entirely certain, but we think this is the last piece of evidence which proves they are neither. The tight clothes are somewhat sporting; they look back to the 70's as the time they would really have thrived, and now a Special for Christmas? Clearly, The Darkness are actually Record Breakers and Justin is the Roy Castle of our times. The release of Satisfaction can only be a matter of time.

'BEEN DONE TO DEATH', PART 377: We love Rachel Steven's new single, although it reminds us of something and we can't quite place what so that's driving us mad. But someone should tell her that the American Beauty pose has been done so often, it's the supposedly sexy photoshoot equivalent of doing a Frank Spencer impersonation:

Sorry, but it is.

THEY DID THIS DURING THE WAR, YOU KNOW: Ozzy Osbourne has damaged his foot and been forced to postpone his UK dates. Now, we're not going to suggest this is in any way like the way troops would shoot their own little toes off to get sent away from the front; nor would we speculate he flicked through his daughter's diary to find out what time he'd be forced to move the dates too before she'd be unable to 'support'. We wouldn't do that. No.

Monday, September 01, 2003

MORE MAIL: We've also had this, from Simon Tyers, headed 'The New Andrew Ridgeley':

So let's check on Boyzone now - Ronan trying to become the new Diane Warren, Steven in musicals and getting 'married', Keith in Corrie, Mikey presumably sitting at home and counting blessings and money alike... and Shane leading the British GT Championship points table. Who'd have thought?

See? It's true

HERE'S A HINT, MARIAH: Mariah Carey apparently can't work out why she can't find a man. Hmm. Here's a clue, Mariah: being a stroppy, diva-ish crazy lady with a face like Bambi-on-plastic-surgery might have something to do with it.

Talking of Mariah, we've had an email from Jason MacNeil, who read this bit we did a little while back, commenting on his report:

Not that she's not still without her supporters - Jason MacNeil of the Tornoto Sun tries to talk her up, suggesting that in the venue "the upper tier [was] fashionably curtained off to give a more intimate feel" - I believe that's what's actually known as closing off half the house. By the end of the review, even MacNeil runs out of ways to cover the poor sales: The crowd and Carey would have been better served in a theatre setting. Although the floor and some side sections were nearly full, the back of the arena, sprinkled with people, told another story.

How does saying it was curtained off talking her up? Congratulations, you knew what I meant by saying it was closing off half the house. How smart are you, man? You read between the lines! Well done, chap! That's amazing! Spin at your own digression if you wish, but maybe you should contact the source before jumping to your own conclusions. Where else did I purportedly mention strong ticket sales? And it's Toronto, not Tornoto.

Um... maybe I'm missing something here, but isn't saying "it was fashionably curtained off to give it a more intimate feel" an attempt to put a positive spin on the place being half empty? It seemed so to me. Maybe I misunderstood what you were getting at - perhaps you were attempting irony and I missed it. I'm not sure what "spin at your own digression" actually means, but if you mean "draw your own conclusions", then... that would seem to be what I did. If you really did mean to just be a big ole' bitch to Mariah, then I'm sorry, that didn't come across in your original piece. Anyway, thanks for writing. We're always interested to know what people make of No Rock.

Oh, and by the way: Tornoto, Tornoto, Typo or not o, let's call the whole thing off...