Saturday, December 06, 2003

COMING FEBRUARY/MARCH NEXT YEAR: Yo La Tengo and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. The proverbial bad hands at scrabble - together at last.

PEABOPENING THE BIDDING: As the IRS demands its pound of Peabo Bryson's flesh, they start to auction off his stuff in two sets of lots - day one is all his electrical items, day two we get to the stuff like his gold records and his grand piano. And "several bottles of expensive wine." They reckon this is going to raise about a million bucks he owes the taxman. It does feel like a really shitty thing for a government to be doing.

AND A LAST ONE: More of a correction, this... our vague grasp of US geography (why is the Texas panhandle called that when it's clearly shaped like a saucepan lid?) had us relocate Becky Bamboo from Northern California to Southern California. We're happy to put her back home.

LOOK... ANOTHER ONE...: Quentin offers up this:

"only Loudon Wainwright III has managed to write music about his children in a consistently interesting way."
What about John Lennon?
Only joking. But how about Jonathan Richman's "Not yet Three"?

good point. and you could have Kooks... but you just know the whole of the next coldplay album is going to be about mewling and newborn innocence, and it's only Loudon who's managed to sustain that for more than the odd song...


You shouldn't diss the 'lake too much. It makes me all sad inside. :_o(

Pierre, we're sorry, but we felt it was time someone drew a line. Justin seems like a nice guy, but it's getting to the point where he's turning into the rock world's Chauncey Gardener, and everyone of his fairly basic actions is being treated like they're the most astonishing things ever. When an artist can knock out a rubbish jingle for McDonalds and still be labelled as the coolest thing, things have gotten badly out of whack.

LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS: Actually, Tom R didn't write to us directly, but to Zapsmart, our kind-of-sister TV-Radio-Web music listings service, to bring a lengthy and somewhat starstruck profile of Zane Lowe from The Independent to the world's attention. It's actually quite a nice piece, although we can't help feeling that in the broadsheet edition they were running something about Verity Sharp instead.

LOTS OF LETTERS: Ade from Big Bubbles was inspired to Apple+N by our mention of the NatWest Online account:

Wow, that was my first bank account to go with my first proper job! (Well, porter in the Warrington Index stockroom). I might even still have the calculator (wonder if you can get the batteries now though?). There was also a binder for your statements, with an authentic 80s-style coloured diagonals design (it matched my duvet cover).

I remember saving up my wages before withdrawing 400 quid in my hot, sweaty palm and scurrying round the corner to buy a Commodore Amiga. ("I was Sad when you were still in nappies, sunshine...")

....Ghod, I hate the eighties.

The NatWest offering was better than that of the Midland, of course, where you got a fairly crappy sports bag and a Dictionary with a picture of the Griffin on it. This does remind us of the time legendarypeelproducer John Walters tried to open an account at, I think, the Woolwich, because he wanted the Henry's Cat moneybox. Told the account in question was only available to children, he opened the account in the name of his cat. After he'd told this tale on Walter's Week on the Janice Long show, the Woolwich got in touch and asked if he'd appear in press photos for them - "We've got a lifesize Henry's Cat", they told him. "... and I thought 'What do they mean lifesize? The size of a real cat? The size the cat is on TV, because he's only a couple of inches there..." It turned out to be a bloke in a costume.

WE'VE HAD LOTS OF LETTERS: So, we return to the No Rock mailbag, and big thanks to Alan C who contributed a few times while we were off trying to not look too much like a pretty boy in front of them there Texans:

Just heard about this on 6Music:

"Black girls only want your money cause they're dumb chicks," Slim Shady raps. "Never date a black girl because blacks only want your money, and that s -- ain't funny ... black girls and white girls just don't mix, because black girls are dumb and white girls are good chicks."

[from NY Daily News and The Souce]

Eminem tried to bluster it out by saying he was young and just broken up with an African American girlfriend, of course, and only now has gotten round to saying sorry for the whole thing - which is dreadful news management on his part; especially since The Source had been saying "Oh, we're going to play people this tape of you being a jerk, Emmy" for a while beforehand. The only reason we can suppose here that Eminem didn't rush out a "Look, The Source have gotten hold of some jerk-off thing I did when I was broken hearted; it's not pretty, but it's not me" statement is because he was sat there shitting himself going "What have they got? The racist stuff? The tape of me being cornholed by Al from the football team? My evidence to the Warren Commission?" But leaving it for a fortnight before going "Oh, yes, it is actually something I should apologise for" is so botched as remind us of the days when the Tories were losing ministers on a fortnightly basis.

Next, Alan on the Q listings that put One at number one:

What *is* this Best Song crap anyway? Went to the website to see if the terms were defined, but that seems to be a heap of shit with no content other than a reminder not to buy the magazine if you're between thirteen and forty-five:
Hates ghosts, loves Arnold Schwarzenegger.

They came, they saw, they mucked about.

Partying hard with mermaids, Metallica and Mini-me.

Born in the same town as Bugs Bunny.

--so I'm none the wiser. But "Smells like teen spirit" is a *recording*(and a *phenomenon*) before it's a great *song*, surely? Are they talkingabout the arrangement, or the song underneath? Oh, shit. I forgot that the copy will be: blah blah Bikini Kill blah blah deodorant blah blah Generation X anthem blah blah from the opening four chords and drum smack blah it is *THE* quiet-and-loud song blah blah the volume belies a craftsmanship hitherto unrevealed until Tori blah blah there's even a jazz version now

I mean, I've not read it. It'll probably turn out that the piece on TeenSpirit is Ian MacDonald's last piece of writing, and brilliant. Somewhere must have the criteria... oh, right. It's a Special Edition.

``Our writers and experts weren`t asked to name the most historic songs of all time - rather it was the songs they enjoy hearing; songs you can use every day, whether that be on your Walkman or your brand new iPod.``

Oh, I see. I think.

It`s a great tune but despite being over ten years old we haven`t had time to get bored of it. It`s inspirational, it makes people feel good, but it also feels profound - all the more so when you hear Johnny Cash`s recent cover version.

...which makes it like a meant-straight version of Marcello Carlin's "best single ever made as of today". It's certainly tracks and not songs, then.


Bought it now. It's not a chart in the sense that the songs don't go in any order, since Mike Streets's best drinking songs run sequentially for 5, also Ricky Gervais's Office Party songs... and so on. Meaning that it isn't the result of a big poll, which might at least have let some interesting oddities in the lower hundreds. Sigh.

Of course, the reaction of The Sun, which damned the whole exercise as "geeky" and launched its own poll of it's own readers to come up with another chart - Imagine at 1, Bo-Rap at 2, we're guessing - makes us feel a lot more warm about the Q thing. This week, Bizarre has also got round to publishing its reader's best songs ever listing, and they - despite being 16-34 year old men buying a magazine dedicated to pictures of tug-of-war fatalities and women in bodices - plumped for Imagine as the Greatest Song of All Time. Mind you, people who lack the cojones to buy FHM and so pretend they're interested in the sub-standard Forteana of Bizarre (I only buy it for the auto-trepanation illustrations) would probably be convinced that Lennon's ho-hum is a work of genius.

Then... a couple of days later came this:

...although if there's one site you're not presumably going to have missed
through being offline, it's Michael Jackson's official rebuttal platform

Also, LOTR star, Viggo Mortensen releases his debut rock album, Pandemoniumfromamerica, Westlife say Simon Cowell bullied them into recording their cover of the Barry Manilow song, Mandy, and the oldest member of pop group Hanson is being treated in hospital for a blood clot in his right arm brought about by strumming his guitar too much.
bon voyage
bon jovi

Three of these things scare me, but Westlife - bullied? C'mon guys, what's he going to do to you if you say no? It's not like you need the money, is it? The only way a band who's sold so many records as you have could be bullied is if they'd signed some really, really stupid contract which meant they earned pennies while... oh, hang on a moment... [drops some coins into upturned cap and presses on]

It was a good reminder that I need to go back to the April 9th 1986 Smash Hits and dig out the interview with Bryan Adams which says that he "went to see Supertramp in London as 'special guest' of Charles and Di and he was late because he missed the bus!" and released a track called "Diana" as a b-side "dedicated to 'our lovely' Princess herself!". I mean, it's especially interesting if they were fucking *then*.

Morrisey's lines "So rattle my bones all over the stones, 'cos I'm only a beggarman who nobody owns" was in fact pinched from Thomas Noel's 1841 poem

Fuck. I remember this really clearly, and barely anything else specific from that issue. The memory is of sitting in the car on the way home from going to the shops one Saturday explaining that it was okay because the songwriter had then said "see how words as old as sin / fit me like a glove". I'm not sure my parents cared much.

There's a two page spread on Hispanic Music, which we guess must have seemed like a great idea at the time

Fuck. Same again. So is this the same time as they did the covermount tape called The Latin Kick? I remember doing a Googlesearch for that a coupla years back, fascinated by what would now seem damned bold, unless of course there was an industry push to get that stuff going (twelve years too early). Nothing came up. Enough!

In retrospect, you'd have to assume that Diana - which at the time seemed to be a wry lament of a missed chance - is a slightly sneery jibe at Charles; okay, the chorus isn't "You know when she comes home and she reeks of Molson and Maple Syrup? That's me, that is", but there's something about how "some english guy got there first", which knowing that they did know each other makes you wonder: what "there" was he talking about?

I'm not sure if The Latin Kick was a covermount, or one of those seemingly endless tapes that they used to flog through half-page adverts - a habit which seems really endearing now, the idea of the nme staff sitting about cooking up The Last Temptation of Elvis, and Indie City and so on, and doing little more than the publishing equivalent of turning up at a carboot sale and flogging them from a cardboard box.

Friday, December 05, 2003

GEE, THANKS OPRAH: Backstreet Boys inspired to get back together by hunger pangs and utility disconnections ("by appearance on Oprah Winfrey's show".) Say what you like about Kilroy, at least he's never made Boyzone settle their differences and head back into the studio.

COURTNEY: NOW BELIEVES JUST FOURTEEN TYPES OF BUG UNDER SKIN, ONLY ONE FIFTH OF THE WORLD OUT TO GET HER: According to her lawyers, Courtney Love has spent the last two weeks in rehab and is making slow progress towards working out which porter will slip her something extra under her rough, rough blanket ("towards drying out.") Courtney had planned to have a private nurse help her straighten up at home, but it seems that her people persuaded her to go to a court-approved facility instead because "lets face it, otherwise nobody in authority is going to believe the bottle labelled 'Courtney's Pure Wee' is really coming from the uber-widow's own bladder, are they?" ("It's just a lot easier than having someone fly around with you and submitting urine samples.")

MUSIC IS EASY: Billy Bob Thornton says that writing music is easier than writing movie scripts, which might be true in itself (a side of A4 versus a whole book of words) but may also have something to do with writing a song is writing a song, whereas writing a script is preparing a first draft for a producer, rewriting it for the studio, rewriting it for the star, rewriting for the director... in fact, we'd imagine that before a single actor sees just one of Billy Bob's scripts, it will have been experienced by more people than have ever heard any of his songs, ever.

SLIGHTLY LESS THAN PROMISED: Sony are marking down the spec for Playstation X, in order to "get it ready in time for Christmas." Curiously, the corners the company is planning on cutting include doubling the time taken to copy a DVD (good news for Sony Pictures, then) and the ability to play MP3s - although apparently building in the ability to play Sony's own ATRAC isn't going to hobble the Santa-imposed shipping deadline - and being able to play CD-Rs. Which will probably soothe the fevered brow of Sony Records executives somewhat. But remember, the kids, all these bits are being dumped purely because of time constraints and not because the Consumer Electronics department has been getting angry calls from their colleagues in Content Divisions saying "What the hell are you doing over there? Why don't you just come and steal our lunches?"

CLASSICAL GAS: What's wrong with Classical Music, eh? You might be tempted to suggest that the malaise at the heart of the posh end of the music store is in part a tendency to promote stunt acts like Vanessa Mae ("oh look, all my clothes have fallen off"), Bond ("oh look, all our clothes have fallen off") and Myleene Klass ("oh, I shan't bother to put any clothes on") as a way of making the music "accessible", which of course just gives the impression that once you get past the stuff played by nubile nymphettes it's going to get a bit tricky and uncomfortable. Myleene, however, doesn't see herself as part of the problem, but part of the solution, and has been lecturing away at how Classical Must Change. She wants it to borrow tricks from pop to make it edgy and dangerous, and thus attractive to the young people with their Playstations and flashing ballpoint pens. Since Myleene's experience of the pop world is being in a band with Noel whose career consisted of one hugely over-promoted hit and then a rapidly dwindling interest rating, we'd hope that classical music chooses to thank her for her contribution and then quickly lose the piece of paper they've written her recommendations down on.

She's wrong for so many reasons. The first is her assumption that people need to have classical and opera re-packaged to make it alluring for them, which is disproved time and time again - what made a success of Nessun Dorma, and the Bryn Terfel album and Kiri TeKanawa when they had their crossovers wasn't the music getting a boyband style repackaging, but merely chance meant it came into contact with the public. Classic FM might be sniffed at by the purists, but it's built a huge audience despite its presentation (Simon Bates at breakfast?) and not because of it. Nobody's going to think "I'll watch some Classical TV on the off-chance there'll be an edgy music video with some hot chicks in it" when they could be guaranteed of seeing that (or at least Christina Aguilera) on MTV, TMF or The Box. What might prompt them to tune in would be the chance of hearing that one off the State Funeral of Thatcher. To borrow a phrase from Clive James: We don't need a lolly to suck.

The piece of classical music most designed to make yer actual high culture 'easy' for the masses is, of course, Peter and The Wolf. And yet the dismal way the piece is used, the earnest explication of the themes and the ultimately well-meaning but misplaced enthusiastic belief that The Kids will "respond" to the piece means nearly every time the record player is brought out in a classroom, the end result is twenty-five more people who've been taught to hate classical music. (Or forty-nine, for inner-city schools.) I was kind of lucky in having a teacher who tried a different tack, bunging on Carnival of the Animals during one PE class and getting us to leap about like loony monkeys all over the place; rather than trying to get us "into" classical music, she just threw the music at us and let us explore it for ourselves.

But anyway, Myleene has her mission, to make classical music something like a Jim Carrey film, and she has a plan: "Donning a leather jacket doesn't just suddenly make you accessible, it is the whole package," Klass told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme. (We don't often feel sorry for Nigel Kennedy, but in this case we'll make an exception, since being ticked off by one of the 'I'm playing my piano - in a bikini!' crowd for confusing costume with clothing seems a little unfair)
"I think that's what the classical world needs to give. Let's get everything to the same edgy degree that the pop world's got at, because it looks stronger on the television - none of this soft-focus classical nonsense. Let's make it edgy, let's make it current, let's make it exciting."

We're presuming the odd wispy shots of wind billowing behind Klass as she stands at the top of a staircase in her flapping robes must have been achieved with vaseline rather than soft focus, then. And how does she actually propose making the 1812 Overture current? Renaming it the Y2K40vrtr? Ah, she's thought of this - apparently - and this might just blow your mind - composer were the pop idols of their day:

"[Mozart] was the Justin Timberlake of his time, and that's the closet thing that people can relate to. As soon as you say that, Beethoven would probably have been the Liam Gallagher of his time. It's just about putting it into a box that people can understand it in, without necessarily putting it into a classical box."

But this - the musical equivalent of "Shakespeare would be writing for EastEnders if he was alive today" nonesense - is just rubbish. Klass worries that people don't realise that "Mozart was an ordinary bloke, not a Saint," which means all those millions of rentals of Amadeus had all been returned to Blockbuster unwatched; but to think that the audience needs to have composers spelled out in terms of modern figures is patronising at the very best, and, worse, she's not even chosen examples that work. Mozart the Timberlake? If anything, he'd be more likely to be the Pink of his time, refusing to repeat earlier work to try something more difficult. Or maybe the Bowie - fame at an early age, then an experimentalist. But in what way is Justin "Here is a mainstream song I produced to satisfy six of Clear Channel and MTV's top criteria" Timberlake the modern day heir to the roistering, unhinged, life-shagging Mozart? And Liam as Beethoven? I'm unaware of Beethoven covering up a paucity of talent by riding on his brother's slightly more talented shoulders, and I can't quite picture the European Union choosing to adopt Songbird as its anthem in 200 years time.

Still, we wish Klass luck. She's recorded a Linkin Park song in a classical style - that'll get the kids in, won't it? "Hey, Mum, a not very good pop star has recorded a not very good rock band's track with some piano on it. Let's have Radio Three on…"

WELL YOU CAN HAVE THIS LAPDANCE HERE FOR FREE: Estelle is 'the woman rapper taking on lapdancing' says the BBC News Online Magazine, although it actually seems she's more worried about half-naked women being slapped into gangsta rap videos as part of the bling. Curiously, she says it was her little sister asking why you never saw half naked men in these videos (eh? Does R Kelly even own a shirt, except for court appearances?) that inspired the music, but she decided not to make the obvious video because having buck-naked men shaking their asses would "trivialise" the whole point of her song. But the track does challenge men to strip off if that's what they want women to do, so surely the message would be reinforced by such a video? We're not given an answer, as before we can actually find out why showing men poledancing would be trivial when telling men to get 'em off is political, the article careers off in another direction. Presumably media spellcheckers have an alert programmed in for the word 'lapdancing' which underlines the text in wiggly green and pops up a message "GRAMMAR: Mention of lapdancing with no quote from Peter Stringfellow and/or lipstick lesbianism", as they then run a series of contradictory (rather than balanced) claims and quotes about how women like lapdancing, except they don't, and they like looking at other women, but that doesn't mean they like looking at women and… it all sort of rumbles to halt.

DOPPELGANGER AND NAMESAKE?: So, we're lead to believe that Justin Hawkins was arrested when he turned up at JFK airport because New York police were looking for someone with the same name who "bears a resemblance" to him, eh? What, exactly, are the odds of there being a criminal with the same name who also has a shaggy mane of hair and a wardrobe full of ripped-to-the-bollocks catsuits? Unless, of course, identity theft has got really out of hand. If anyone wants me, I'll be wearing a tight white bodice top and answering to Brody from now on.

CHRISTMAS IS A TIME FOR MINCING PIES, NOT WORDS: - at least, that's what Mel C seems to think: Sporty ex-Spice has laid into Victoria Beckham something fierce, calling her new songs lyrically weak and suggesting that really, if she was her, she'd enjoy David and the family and "give the music a rest." While we don't disagree with young Melanie, it's just a pity she didn't have such an acute ear and firm opinions when she was putting together her own recent album, which really didn't do her any favours at all.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: AMERICANA EDITION: ...or as close as we can get, although the limited titles on offer at the Wichita Falls WalMart will allow us.

The local paper (the Times Record News) there wasn't, we suspect, alone in reporting that Ringo Starr might be the only Beatle not in the Hall of Fame, but he's got a much bigger honour - he's been picked by Noraid as this year's honorary Santa Tracker. The American defence system has a tradition of giving updates on where Santa has got to with his Christmas Eve travels ("he's just ignoring North Korea right now..."), and this year when kids dial the toll-free number, besides being told where Father Christmas is, they'll get to hear some of Ringo's music as well. Which is probably worse than calling a toll-free number to be told "It's not really Santa, it's your dad wearing a pillow round his belly."

More worryingly for the TRN, the arrest of Glenn Campbell couldn't have come at a worse time. He'd been booked to play the Oil Baron's Ball (splendidly, JR's annual highlight turns out to be a real event) but now looks likely to be slopping out on J-Wing instead of playing Rhinestone Cowboy for the crude guys.

Moving up a gear, the Dallas Morning News featured a brief chat with Tupac's mother, who is now in charge of putting out the dead chap's work. Her defence for lobbing every last scrap at the audience is that to do otherwise just wouldn't be right: "What I won't do is censor. I wouldn't censor any artist, so I won't say 'this is not good because it says something that's not nice.' If he wrote it, I put it out because my job is to put his music out, not to decide whether its good or bad." So, nothing to do with trying to wring every last cent out of her boy's corpse, then - to not flood the market would be censorship.

Meanwhile, students at the University of North Carolina-Charlottes graduation ceremony are raising a petition against the imposition of a rule limiting them to just seven tickets for their own graduation. The limit - only the second in the college's history - is widely seen as being the fault of one specific graduate, Clay Aiken. Clay has lovely hair and was American Idol's successful failure, but the College is afraid, presumably, that students would start flogging tickets on Ebay so that the people who like his lovely hair might see it.

Also from the DMN, the sound of Britney's critics going "Oh..." as her album sales sail effortlessly to the top of the Billboard charts. Yeah, the single didn't do too great, which kind of suggests her bid to swap from kiddie pop hero to adult segment entertainer is right on target.

USA Today splashes that "Hollywood eyes Justin - Timberlake awaits 'right project'". Yeah, just as soon someone writes a movie about a jittery squeaky toy, which doesn't call for much acting on the part of the lead, he'll be getting a trailer with his name on it.

But, of course, the main musical focus of the proper papers has been on one man. "Jackson camp: claim a 'lie'" read a headline in USA Today, which was on the face of it wrong; there's no claim more truthfilled than the belief that Jackson is camp, surely?

Wisconsin's Marshfield News-Herald blames the parents: "what in the world were they thinking?" - like many papers, it's not prejudging the case against Jacko, but doesn't need to: Fortysomething bloke, already widely perceived to have paid off a kid's family, admits on TV that he shares his bedroom with young boys. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette warns that "celebrities, even fallen pop idols, deserve the same presumption of innocence as the rest of us", which is true, but most of the press coverage isn't even bothering to think about what illegal acts may or mayn't have taken place. Man who knows lots of people think he's a paedophile. "Oh, Martin, I have sleep overs with boys." Really, you don't need much more error of judgement there - whats curious is it took the arrest rather than the bashir documentary for the fourth estate to spot something was up. So, what were the parents thinking? Probably "This car Michael Jackson has bought for us drives real smooth...", we'd imagine.

But it's hard to be amused by this (very much) for long - California's Contra Costa Times warns that the Jackson case might have a knock-on effect beyond making a re-release of Pretty Young Thing hugely ill-advised:"One of the severest tragedies of this voyeuristic charade is that it may do nothing more than perpetuate the myth that child molestation is a crime that happens only in bizarre situations, surrounded by mansions and circus rides" - in other words, Neverland is America's Satanic Abuse case, bringing the reality of child abuse into everybody's homes while simultaneously making it seem comfortingly strange and odd and distant.

But perhaps the North Carolina Asheville Citizen-Times is right: "With all the problems in the world, why put so much focus on Jackson?" The clue is in the Question, people - nothing like a good ole' sideshow to take folks' minds off the gathering storm. So when New York Daily News covers Jermaine's claim that the arrest is a "modern day lynching", he might be almost there. It's actually a modern day bear-baiting.

Back in Britain, Radio Times was coming out with four different Doctor Who covers. This was to allow newsagents to discover without embarrassment which of their customers were gay. Across in the States, Spin was trying a multi-cover edition, only with one of the Strokes on each. We're assuming that the run of Nikolai Fraiture was somewhat smaller than that of some of the others - and certainly, at Dallas Fort Worth there were only Julians and Fabrizios, although really we wanted a Nick Valensi - we know, acquired taste and all that, but even so. Anyone want to swap?

The letters page burns with the fallout from Spin's Cool Issue - curiously, Gwen Steffani made it in to the Spin list the same month she was booted from the NME list.

Pink, it seems, is pissed off with Linda Perry (also on the NME cool list, by the way) over the quote about how she wouldn't be letting the new Pink album be a load of Alicia banging on about her troubles. Pink also hints that she thinks Perry might be a bi jealous of her charges, wishing it was still her up there in the big hat and the flying goggles, getting the attention. We'd imagine that Cathy Dennis is just the same, sat at home dreaming of the days when she could half-fill out a fairly small room in a provincial town rather than counting the money her songwriting is bringing her.

The Thrills and The Stills are Spin's new bands to watch, proving that there's a lot of mileage to be gotten out of being a rhyming double.

Just like the NME with the Thrills, Spin tries to boil the Strokes down into a one-word adjective-nick-noun. But can you guess which is which, readers? Unshaven, Romantic, Snarky, Normal and, um, Jules. (Albert, Fab, Nick, Nikolai and, um, Julian, in case you want to check your scores.) Nick suspects that the reason the Strokes got all backlashed when "another band" (he means the White Stripes) didn't was because the White Stripes had built up a load of indie cred by releasing records before anyone heard of them. You don't think it might be that even though they also did the film-star dating, poor facial hair thing, the main reason why the Stripes kept most of the critics onboard was that, through it all, they continued to stick out top tunes, then?

Kid Rock thinks the obsession with celebrity is "totally gay. It's definitely at a point where its become too much." When a mainstream magazine runs a four page interview with slack-synapses like Rock, we tend to agree.

Meanwhile - "Chest-baring catsuits. Dog-bothering falsetto. Fist-pumping songs about STDs and badminton." Oh yes, The Darkness have taken America. Coldplay and The Darkness. What must Americans think of us?

Please like me: Billie Joe Armstrong tells of bumping into Ryan Adams, and Adams "dropping names of Green Day songs I'd not heard since I was 16."

Reviews: David Bowie - Reality - "a relaxed, even graceful affair.", B-, B-
Ryan Adams, Rock & Roll (Spin stick to the party line and print the words reversed) - "Adams sounds like a guy who's coming apart at the seams". B+

You just know its going to be wrong - Rolling Stone have cleared the bikini babes from the cover, and announce, in type usually reserved for acts of terrorism: "The 500 Greatest Albums of all time." Tucked inside the fold-out cover - and incredibly well hidden - is a free CD in the SA-CD format (oh, good - my quadrophonic deck was starting to feel lonely) featuring a sample of the chart. Nine tracks. One is Norah Jones. Things aren't looking good. But the question is there: What have they chosen as number one. Surely... surely it'll be a surprise, yeah?

How was the chart put together? Experts, of course. Apparently 272 experts, and Fred Durst. They drew up a list of fifty records, which were given an oddly weighted 100 for first place, 50 for second, 33.3333 for third, 25 for fourth. So assuming that, say, Claude Nobs, the director of the Montreux Rock festival couldn't be arsed to put his last 25 in order - and, seriously, how can you pick your forty-eight favourite album with that level of precision? - his caprice alone could have swung the vote some other way, ina totally arbitrary fashion. Actually, the 273 electors is a more fascinating list than the 500 records. Why did Andy Bell, the Erasure one, not the Oasis one, get to put a list in? The Edge did, Bono didn't. Bill Ward of Black Sabbath and the Late Show with Letterman's musical director were invited to give their opinion. Pete Seger and Carole King both know what they're talking about, but does Green Day's Tre Cool have the same ear?Tony Kanal of No Doubt gets his say; Gwen Steffani doesn't. But Shirley Manson and Butch Vig both distribute hundreds of marks for the Garbage camp. It's like a pre-1863 election.

And if you have a rotten borough, you get stinking results: Touch -The Eurythmics (500) is five places behind Husker Du's New Day Rising. But at 494, there's She's so Unusual by Cyndi Lauper, a record whose sole actions so far in the twenty-first century has been to stop the Ray Coniff albums feeling lonely in Oxfam.

With a list this huge, there are of course nice surprises - having Entertainment by the Gang of Four at 490 is a warm smile, while Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness languishing at 487 makes us want to call up Billy Corgan and list all the records that beat it to him. But Here My Dear by Marvin Gaye (462) was a joke, wasn't it?; although not in the sense of EPMD's Strictly Business (459) or Madonna's Music (452).

Letting The Mamas and Papas be represented by a Greatest Hits compilation (423) seems unfair. Oasis' Whats the story Morning Glory at 376 shows just how adrift the middle reaches of the chart are - that's one above Crazy Sexy Cool, eleven lower than Louder Than Bombs. But what difference in points are we talking here? Does it mean that Brothers In Arms (351) is 0.1% worse than John Wesley Harding (301)? Theyd have been better off with alphabetical order, which would have made it even more like you're flipping through the CD crate at a distress sale - Psychocandy (268) good; Tracy Chapman (261) bad; The Velvet Rope (256) ridiculous; Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt (229) surely mis-filed? You wonder when My Bloody Valentine will turn up.

Green Day's Dookie is at 193, apparently a better album than Transformer (194). Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like A Wheel (194) just fails to claim a more plum spot for posterity than OK Computer (162).

But of course, its when you crack the double figures that the whole exercise starts to fall apart, as the caprice of maths starts to take less of the blame than the so-called experts. Born In The USA scrapes in at 85 while the currently modish Back In Black takes a lordly 73. Songs In The Key of Life is judged a better Stevie Wonder album than Talking Book (56 against 90). Many will be outraged that Dark Side of the Moon comes way down at 43, but the real scandal is a panel who'd place this ahead of Patti Smith's Horses (44). We wonder if Carole King voted for her own album - Tapestry (36), or if anyone who voted has ever actually played The Plastic Ono Band (22). And stayed in the room, I mean. Thriller is at 20; Nevermind at 17. Blonde on Blonde is nine. Have you guessed what Number One is yet?

Highway 61 Revisited is 4; Revolver is 3; Pet Sounds is 2 and...

Yes, they made Sergeant Peppers Lonely Fucking Hearts Club Band number one. 273 experts in music, and they still come up with the same answer we'd have got if we asked your nan, the breakfast show host off Three Counties Radio, Charlie Higson (Swiss Toni from the Fast Show) and some girls we fancied at Sixth Form. Had they been handed the forms with 'SGT P' already printed at the top - "We've done the first to start you off..." or was Jeb Bush given the ballot box for safe keeping overnight? Aside from the pointlessness of doing a huge study to come up with such a hackneyed, Bohemian Rhapsody, Citizen Kane, Del falling backwards through a bar result, this one has never made any sense - Pepper isn't even the best Beatles album, much less the best album ever. Apart from Let It be naked, it's actually hard to come up with a worse album by the band. Couldn't they just have printed the ballots instead? The ones they did run were fascinating - Britney Spears favourite is Michael Jackson's Thriller, but her number was Janet's Rhythm Nation, which surprised me for reasons I can't quite compute.

Oh, and by the way: Loveless. 219.

WHAT PEOPLE'S KNICKERS ARE TWISTED ABOUT: The latest Broadcasting Standards Commission report has a few music-related items in it. U're Music apoligised for playing Smack Ma Bitch Up at teatime - it was a mistake, they said, and so got off unscolded. A viewer was worried that CD:UK were giving away tickets to Eminem gigs at a time when children might be watching, but the BSC didn't seem arsed about it. And people actually moaned that the Pop Idol trails featured animated animals being injured - although nobody complained about the more serious mutilation of defenceless songs in the programme proper.

Most curious of all, though, is an item skated over in brief at the end under the listing of items considered to not merit any further investigation - not the Sara Cox complaint, we'd imagine that the BSC waved that one aside to avoid having to listen to a tape of her show. What we want to know is: Just what exactly was it about an opinion poll on 5 Live which lead someone to feel it was offensive?

PEEL AND TARRANT ARE GREAT: John Peel and, um, Chris Tarrant have been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame over a smashing lunch in the Savoy Hotel. Peel's previous greatest honour was having the Official No Rock and Roll Fun cat named after him.

DOC BLABBERMOUTH: The Doctor who treated George Harrison when the Beatle was on his way to collecting a spot in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame ("in the terminal stages of his illness") has been fined five thousand quid for spreading too much about George's last days across the media. Apparently telling the world that George was "quiet and dignified" was revealing a little too much about the patient.

SCANDALOUS AWARDS: Has The Sun heard that Robbie Williams has been passed over for another award? Unbelievably, this year's University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition has gone to Unsuk Chin for a violin concerto. How could this be? How could the judges overlook Robbie William's cheeky smile and ability to smirk?

LOOSE LIPS CAUSE SLIPS: Red faces all round at Flaming Lips HQ, with the discovery that the Yoshimi DVD has been shipped missing twenty seconds of music. They're still umming and ahhing about what they're going to do in response to this, and they're not sure how it managed to slip past quality control. We'd like to hazard a guess: the testing process was done by someone who thought "well, all the tracks are a little whacked, so I expect these punksters intended that to happen."

BUSH GOES QUEERCORE: Oddest gig crowd of the week, maybe year, maybe forever has to be Barbara 'daughter of George W' Bush at a Pansy Division gig. Happily, the band dedicated a song to her. Political Asshole, maybe, but it's the thought that counts, isn't it? We wonder if Babs was there for the Queer or for the Core?

ISN'T HE BAD ENOUGH ALREADY WITHOUT TELLING HIM HE'S OH SO GOOD?: Somebody has taken it upon themselves to compile a book of sermons that draw upon U2 songs for their inspiration. Most, almost certainly, will be built around I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, but the sole English contribution is a lecture that takes Playboy Mansion as its text - although the rev involved, Derek Walmsley, has never actually given it because he's not sure that enough of his congregation would know who U2 are to make it worthwhile. That might at least help tethering the Bono ego down slightly, but the mere fact they found enough material for the book is scary - Christians have got the whole of the Bible, one of the most sublime collections of myth, tale and uplifting example to work with, and yet they feel the need to raid 'With or Without You' to give themselves something to talk about.

Is it just us, or does everyone else have the voice of Reverend Lovejoy echoing in their skulls right now? In our church, he's saying "For did not Bono hy-imself say 'walk away, walk away, walk away; I will follow?"

While Bono is trying to muscle Jesus out of his popular number one slot at the pews, he's also going to get a Humanitarian Award from the family of Martin Luther King. Bono says "I am delighted to be recognised by the people of Humanitaria. Do I get to be photographed shaking the hands of anyone cool?"

HAPPY, HAPPY DAY: We're now looking forward slightly more to the Brits next year, as Robbie Williams doesn't qualify for nominations as he hasn't actually put anything new out since November 2002. The Sun seems to think this is some sort of a scandal, but... erm, it's just the rules, guv. I mean, even if it was someone with a grudge exercising a technicality it'd still be incredibly amusing and totally welcome, but it's not. He's got away with getting with getting prizes despite having no talent; does The Sun really want him to get prizes for not doing anything at all as well?

ROCK GO-AWAY BEACH: Nothing sends a shudder up a genteel town like the threat of a rock band moving in, which is why Southwold is gripped with fear at suggestions by Justin Hawkins that the Darkness might move in. We're guessing the real worry of Southwold residents isn't that they're a rock band, but that they come from Lowestoft.

And is it just us, or is Justin becoming more and more like the rock star portrayed by Richard E Grant in the Argos adverts?

THE NAPPY WAS ALL YELLOW: Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow are to have a baby. Which means we're in for an even worse album from Coldplay sometime around 2005, given that only Loudon Wainwright III has managed to write music about his children in a consistently interesting way. The last thing Chris Martin needs is even more mellowness, more 'wow, trees are made with leaves'.

... IN THE NAME OF THE LORD: Boyzone's Shane Lynch has announced that he's now big chums with God, who he claims "pulled me through my badness." He's not mucking about, either: "I now go to church on Sundays and things like that" he claims, a bit vaguely. Things like that being what? Taking communium? Going to church midweek? Giving tins of pineapple chunks to harvest festival?

Anyway, it's great for Shane that he's found someone - God - to fill the gap left in his life by the absence of someone else - Ronan. God can be a great comfort during rough times, and we're guessing that Shane will be having lots of those coming up.

BAMBOO MEETS THE DARKNESS: A second slice of Becky Bamboo, as she tussles with The Darkness in So Cal:

You know, it feels like we've all been with The Darkness from their humble beginnings playing to our own Robertshaw and a few other fans. It's like they're an honorary BSN band or something. So I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but it wasn't a sold out and extremely packed venue, scalpers outside, or a group (a fan club?!?) with handmade The Darkness t-shirts with each person's name lettered in gothic script on the back. (Seriously! They were too funny.) It wasn't the usual hipster crowd though - I overheard more than the usual number of British accents in the crowd (fairly typical at a show by a band who is big in the UK and virtually unknown over here), and the heavy metal fans seemed to be out in force.

The opening band was just finishing while I was waiting in line to pick up my ticket. There was no need to worry though, because it took The Darkness 45 fucking minutes to take the stage. That's pretty much unheard of at the smaller venues, where the turnaround time is usually a scant 15. Not cool. The only other band that's taken that long was The Libertines. It wasn't like people could go to the bar or anything either because everyone was squished together in a solid mass. Anyway. All was forgiven as soon as the band came out. After that it was balls-out rock (very nearly literally, given how low Justin's pants were) for the next hour. He ditched his shirt halfway through the second song to squeals of joy from the audience and subsequently changed into two different barechested jumpsuits (one silver and one pink and white striped) over the course of the show.

I've had the album for a few weeks now and it honestly didn't grab me like I thought it would, given my junior high love of all things hair metal.. White Lion, Def Leppard, Bon fucking Jovi, etc. But the songs worked so well live that I think when I go back and listen to it now I'll enjoy it a lot more. Justin is a fantastic front man who definitely knows how to work a crowd. He had the audience hanging on his every word, able to start a round of clapping with just a look and a gesture. Everyone was caught up and sang along from the first song. Hell, he even got me (ME!) to clap along and I never do that.

And I'm proud to say that the BSN tradition of groping Justin is alive and well. When he hopped on the bouncer's shoulders and started making his way through the crowd, I managed a quick squeeze quite high up his thigh. Of course, I nearly got run over by the bouncer in the process. Rock & roll, baby. Rock. And. Roll.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

IF YOU LIKED WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAID LAST WEEK: ... it seems The Original Soundtrack also has a bedroom knee-deep in old magazines, too... See? Hoarding does pay off.

THE BAMBOO REVIEW: We're slowly sifting through a pile of email you wouldn't believe, and highlights will be coming in the next few days. First out the box is Becky Bamboo at the Sleepy Jackson and the Polyphonic Spree:

The last time I saw an accordion player at a rock show was Jump, Little Children. Until last night. The first opener was Corn Mo, a stoner-looking dude with long frizzy blond hair, the biggest sideburns I've seen and an accordion. He also had a drumstick stuck into the laces of his shoe so he could hit the cymbal on the floor. Yeah. Surprisingly, he was pretty entertaining, in a novelty act sort of way. It's impossible to make an accordion sound anything but jaunty and the songs reflected that sound, with lots of pop culture references and humor. I could totally see him opening for Tenacious D in the future.

The next band was The Sleepy Jackson, the real reason I went to the show. A few minutes before they came out I spotted a friend and went over to stand with him and preach the glory of the band. After their first song he turned to me and said, "Wow, they're really good!" Oh my, yes. Live, they add Sonic Youth style soundscapes that suddenly resolve into these amazing songs that are part Flaming Lips, part George Harrison, part Tom Petty, yet all their own. Looking like an odd amalgam of Herve Villechaize and an extra from Velvet Goldmine (shimmery scarf, Transformer cover Lou Reed t-shirt, black suit jacket), Luke Steele was on fire. He said next to nothing, just letting the songs blend into each other, momentum keeping the audience engaged. So, *so* good. And I say that even though they didn't play my two favorite songs off Lovers.

Despite having most of their instruments already set up, The Polyphonic Spree took forever to take the stage. You know the drill.. white choir robes, every instrument under the sun, choir, blah, blah. It was like a revival by way of a community theater production of Hair. Again, pretty entertaining in a novelty act way. The songs are pretty simplistic though, and virtually indistiguishable from each other so I don't really see myself getting too involved with them. I took off after about 45 minutes because 6 AM comes awfully early in the morning.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: English edition

So, it came a couple of weeks ago but the late appearance of the NME stopped us from giving the last Observer Music Monthly its full dues. They'd done Pop's 10 Strangest Duets, which ranged from the genuinely strange (Pavarotti & Skunk Anansie or Bing & Bowie) to the obvious attempts to go "hey, never saw that coming, did you?" such as Elton & Eminem, but also finds space for a lot less surprising pairings - Madonna & Missy was a matter of time, Prince & Sheena Easton oddly apt (and, actually, Sheena was not "the product of a BBC star search", as any pedant kno - she was the subject of The Big Time, a totally different format). Weakest of all is the inclusion of The Smiths & Sandie Shaw, a pairing that had the inevitability of Kelly & Ozzy.

But we're not alone in having problems with these charts, although we're not sure we want to be in the company of Jonathan King, who writes from the nonce wing at HMP Elmley in a huff at being left out of the Pops Greatest Eccentrics run down the month before. Maybe it's time to focus on getting parole, King?

The Secret Life of Chris Martin does manage to raise an interesting question about coldplay boy - how can you have sex with a Hollywood a-lister like Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, mid b-lister) and yet still be so dull?

Michelle Ryan, who plays Zoe Slater in Eastenders, listens to Phil Collins and Tracy Chapman in the car. And yet its mobile phone using drivers who get fined. Where's the justice, eh?

Dr Music prescribes Ruth Rogers from the River Cafe Tindersticks and the Handsome Family. They both go down well, and the River Cafe menu will now consist of broken hearted wine and heartbreak soup.

Understatement: "in the last few weeks" Courtney Love's life has threatened to spin out of control. And after she'd held it together so well for the last ten, eh?

Razorlight - the new band - seem to have been constructed, like the last half of the Bible - almost totally out of visions and madness.

The guts of the magazine were a celebration of 100 years of the Blues - that's a damn lot of women done us wrong, in a collective sense - and Pop Star Mums and their bairns, which veers slightly towards Hello-town with Cerys Matthews showing off Glenys Pearl - great for dressing up in shoes - and Skye from Morcheeba, who tells an amusing and telling story about playing Lillith fair and being made to leave her kids back in the hotel. Lisa Maffia, meanwhile, claims she took Chelsea out of the nursery because "everyone kept getting her to sing 21 seconds over and over again." Even if true, surely got to be better than The Wheels on the Bus?

Tom Cox, curiously, became a fanzine editor when his Plan A - to become a golfer - failed. Just think, Tiger - you could be pursuing a lucrative evening hauling a Tescos bag with copies of a poorly photocopied stapled A5 mag from gig to gig instead of wasting your life with playing pitch and putt. Cox concludes that Popbitch is the new fanzine, which sort of suggests that everyone who posts on ver Bitch is a paranoid virgin incapable of stringing together two words unless they get the safety barrier of letraset and a keyboard between them and their audience. Which isn't true, is it?

Simon LeBon takes a trip down memory lane to the day he stared into the eyes of the Big D, when Drum rolled.

"Dr Fox is extremely faithful to the DJ's Savillocratic Oath," observes Paul Morley in monthly highlight Music on TV, "which enshrines the DJ's right to use music as an excuse to get as close as possible to members of the opposite sex."

Writing in the New Statesman diary, Boy George tries to take the bad reviews of the Broadway debut for Taboo on the (badly inked in) chin. Well, not quite. He tries to pretend "la la la, I'm not listening" but clearly he is; then he tries to write them all off to being inspired by the critics hatred of exec producer Rosie O'Donnell. Maybe, George, but then why would they be tearing the book, and your acting, and the whole damn lot up too? Eventually, Boy attempts to push off the bad reviews as being proof that critics know nothing - it's selling out, isn't it? - but, as the packed houses for Ben Elton's Rod Stewart show (surely the first plot ever to have left space on the back of the envelope for a shopping list and a doodle as well) and - yikes - even Kid Creole's Oh What A Night show, the number of greenbacks in the till has very little to do with the quality of what's on the handbill.

Mojo comes with a free Best of 2003 CD (so does Uncut) - being Mojo, of course, the cream of the year has been Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer and Diana Ross. There's a big feature on 1969, an unquestionably pivotal year in pop history, Hawksley Worksman album gets just two stars and there's a strange little news report of a riot in Montreal. Eight cars were trashed and burned because of the cancellation of... an Exploited gig.

Another reason to love Pink: she knocked back playing William's 21st birthday, she tells Elle Girl, because he ignored her letter asking him why he got off on hunting. Of course, she could have also knocked him back because he's the new face (albeit chinless) of an unacceptable political system, but nobody's perfect.

Also in Elle Girl, Dannii Minogue is invited to list her favourite websites. One is her own - presumably she checks in regularly to see if her management are trying to dig her out of any 'foreign people are bad' shaped holes - and another is BT Yahoo Broadband, which reads scarily like she's lifted it from a press release. Maybe she's planning for her next job, trying to interest callers in an upgrade to Broadband?

Peter Brame, the indie one off Fame Academy, likes: The Libertines, The Darkness, Dolly Parton, erm, Aled Jones and "a new band" called Mew. Surely older than both the Libs and the ness?

Oh, and Justin Timberlake loves Coldplay...

... which is why last week's NME was such a travesty. It was the Cool Issue, and it got it wrong on so many counts. What it did get right was the list being almost totally different to last years - which we think also reflects a noticeable shift in what the paper values, actually, and that's welcome - but what it gets wrong... like choosing Mutya as the cool Sugababe - no, she's just pissy. Or having Christina Aguilera in the list because of her "call me a slag if that means being a strong woman" quote - which they seem to think is "reclaiming the word 'slag' for women who enjoy sex." Ahem. Women who enjoy sex have been having a pretty good three decades of it (at the very least, but we're arbitrarily dating it from the launch of British Cosmopolitan.) Here we are again: what comes from Christina is not the air of a woman who loves fucking and is in control, but a woman so desperate to be liked she'll do stuff she doesn't really feel comfortable. It's telling that Britney's new album is all about the hump and grind, while Christina is usually to be found warbling about the real her inside.

Wayne Coyne should be far higher than 42.

But the biggest question mark hangs over the choice of Justin Timberlake as the Coolest Person in music. Timberlake? Really? If only you'd been around ten years ago and seen his Daddy, Evan Dando, in action. Timberlake hangs around other, hipper acts, begging to be allowed to dress up as a dolphin for them with all the self-respect of a chess team geek hoping if he huddled by the Mini Bus Garage the smell of the bad boy's fags might rub off on him. We had the misfortune to catch his Saturday Night Live show last week, along with a couple of other live performances, and, frankly, we wish our stepfather-in-law had kept his 24-Hour Golfing Network on. Every time he did Cry Me A River - which kind of suggests he's a bit of a one-song wanda; worse, it's a song which he needs to have at least four backing singers to make it through. And every time he danced. And boy, how he danced. Like a lemur trying to edge a banana out of tree. Is this what you call cool?

A further puzzlement: Trying to find someone to speak up for Michael Jackson, the paper troops off to HMV. They can't find a person to say a nice word about him. "All of which suggests that while Michael Jackson still has his fans, he can't inspire them enough to speak up for him." Hmmm. Even supposing that the international outbreaks of "Jacko is innocent" placard waving hadn't managed to break into the consciousness of Kings Reach Tower, hadn't anyone heard the paper's boss on 'Today' over a week before where he shared the microphone with... erm, a stridently pro-Jackson fan rubbishing the whole thrust of the State of California's claims?

This week's NME comes laden with stuff - stickers (a Chain With No Name festive promotion, not quite as cool as last year's advent calendar); a radiohead tour pullout souvenier thingy and a calendar, which is a very nice thing indeed (we're not sure if this comes with the newsstand edition, though, as it isn't mentioned on the cover of the magazine.)

The Big Picture is some stuff from Kurt's journal, really just a massive trailer for another slew of new material from the dead guy's cupboard next week - although we could have sworn that we've seen the list of the top 50 albums somewhere before.

Anthony Minghella believes Jack White is a "tremendous actor." Maybe that's why he had the stupid moustache.

Coldplay are bringing their deathly cold feet to trample over The Streets second album.

Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand chooses CD tracks - The Fall, Sparks and - oh, my, you're throwing us for a loop here, Mr. Alex - Outkast.

"If you write anything horrible I'll come and kick your face in" threatens Will Young, settling down for a bout with Peter Robinson. Sadly, Young's flat, I'm-a-pretty-straight-guy refusal to say anything interesting makes the meeting a bit less exciting than that would make it seem.

Radar band is My Chemical Romance, a post September 11th 2001 band from, of course, New York.

"The way Thom shakes his ass... or Jonny spends the night humping a series of demented squeaks out of his guitar... it's not just filthy, it's X-Rated" reports Tim Jonze, breathless from the Manchester and Newcastle dates.

The Thrills are interviewed one-by-one, as if acknowledging that a lot of the current slew of acts don't really stand out as a bunch of guys but become more of an amorphous blob. The attempt to project spice girl style personalities on the Thrills won't take, we fear, but in case it does, meet Prankster, Scatty, Lothario, Bladdered and Daydreaming Thrill - Daniel, Conor, Kevin, Padraic and Ben in that order.

There's some sort of horrible mish-mash monster of cool rock star pieces. The cock comes from Jack White which, if he keeps on the way he's going, won't be a problem as he won't need it much longer.

my morning jacket - mean fiddler - "our hearts tell us to grow our hair", 9
mars volta - glasgow barrowlands - "even bepermed, cosmic, space-prog journeymen have to return to earth occassionally", 7

rufus wainwright, new york - "he charms when his music can't."

johnny cash - unearthed - "in his hands, You'll never Walk Alone's funeral majesty carries it well beyond a hammy terrace anthem", 10
korn - "the medium is bloated, played out and steeped in self-parody", 3
ja rule - blood in my eye - "dark ghetto hip-hop and old soul beats", 8

sotw - selfish cunt - britain is shit/ fuck the poor - "they're going to disappoint you, eventually, but for now..."
nelly furtardo - powerless - "shania twain meets Riverdance"

and finally, Stuart Murdoch loves the Cocteau Twins - not least because they were "the closest I came to sex for a long time."

BITTER OLD MEN: Keef is miffed at Mick's acceptance of a Knighthood, because getting honours from the establishment isn't what the Rolling Stones is all about, apparently. (We're not quite sure what the Stones are meant to be about, to be honest - frankly, if we're meant to choose between a Stones with Mick sucking up to the queen and, say, a Stones with Bill Wyman fucking a thirteen year old girl and being treated like a superstudmuffin as a result, we'd have to plump for the former, albeit through gritted teeth. What is Keith afraid of? Afraid its going to put off the corporate sponsors for the Stones tour? Afraid it will stop the luxury boxes at the Stones gigs from selling out to the toffs? I don't think so. Yeah, Mick should have stopped short of agreeing to go down on one knee before the queen if he wanted to preserve those rock credentials. But also, he should never have made the solo album. And he should never have toured with the band once it got past the point where they got reduced rates on their tour bus because of their passes. And they should never have traded indoor venues for playing football stadiums. Keith, baby, it's another nail in a coffin that's already been welded shut and had a sixteen tonne elephant sat upon it. We know you're just pissed off because you've not got a little gong yourself.

IT'S THE RETURN OF THE RACHEL STEVENS NON-STORY: Ananova reports that Rachel Stevens had her whips confiscated at Heathrow - not much of a story, but a great excuse to run another picture of her. "What did they imagine?" asked a puzzled Rachel, after being told the whips could be used as weapons, and she has a point - you might be able to do some damage with the plastic fork that you get with the meals, but is it entirelty likely that anyone is going to be able to hijack a plane using whips? "Fly me to Cuba, or I'll give you forty lashes, captain... or at least I will once we're out of the plane, only there isn't the room here to bring a whip back properly..."

JUST-INCH? NOT ACCORDING TO HIS GRAN: We really, really don't want to know how Justin Timberlake's gran can be sure that Britney's lying about the size of Timbo's todger, but we're just delighted she felt the need to share it with us. Can you imagine how Justin will be feeling? It's bad enough when your nan claims to her mates down the bingo you've got lots of GCSEs when you only passed Pottery and Sports Theory, but that's got to be nothing compared with the shame of seeing your silver-haired granmama pop up on MTV boasting about your penis size. Especially when the only person who is speaking up is your gran, rather than a bunch of satisified lovers saying "We still walk bandy-legged". Until such times as we get an indepenent witness, we're carrying on thinking of him as the Inch High Private Guy.

EUGGGHS AND BAKER: Look at this picture:

No, don't look, it's an evil trick

This is Cheryl Baker getting her arse hosed out on live TV earlier this week. The scariest thing about this, though, is that we know somewhere, there's going to be an internet mailing list who now believe they have a fairy godmother making all their dreams come true, tappity-tapping away on keyboards to send thousands of messages along the lines of "okay, so now let's all pray that Jay Aston gets fisted on Blue Peter..."

YOU'RE A CELEBRITY? GET OUT OF HERE: We're not sure we believe it, but there must have been some basis for the leak that John Lydon is in the frame for the next season of I'm A Celebrity. Its not like he's actually got much in the way of admirable punky ethics left to piss away against a wall, we guess, but even so the whole thing gives us uncontrollable shudders, the desire to cry and a need for hugs. We're guessing that he's being pencilled in as the "gobby one who puts everyone down", which would seem to require for him to have some degree of dignity left to stand upon. Sid Vicious, we imagine, is pissing himself. Not with laughter, just because he was such a screw-up we doubt if even his ghost is continent.

KYLIE PRAISED: Charlotte has reminded us of something that had been bothering us while we were in the States watching the dumping of EMI by Warners. When Robbie had been re-shackled to EMI, hadn't there been much talk that what had attracted him was the canny skills the label had shown in making Kylie such a big force in the US? And, at the time, we'd all sort-of-nodded and gone "Oh, yeah, they did it for Kylie."

So why is it the US seemed oddly Kylie-less? The whole of the UK seems to have accepted that she's cracked America, and yet... she hasn't, really, has she? If you check the MTV America Kylie Minogue news archive, and ignore the stories in which she appears only fleetingly (most she doesn't even crack the headline), they've written about her three times - twice in 1999 when she recorded a Duran Duran cover with Ben Lee, and once - most recently - on April Fool's Day in 2002. Hardly gives the impression of a massive breakthrough, does it? And if you seek out Kylie on Google News, the only American-published story about her in the last couple of weeks was in the gay press, mentioning her in a list of tracks on the Queer Eye For The Straight Guy soundtrack album. And, in this age where the panicky fear of evil interwebbers sharing their files has record companies rushing their prime beef to the market as soon as the final 'STOP' button is pressed on the studio tape recorder, Capitol don't seem that arsed about getting Body Language into WalMart - it's not even due out until February 10th, and the promotional push seems to consist of little more than a half-assed street team. Maybe she's about to crack America, but at the moment, she'd be lucky to get confused with Holly Vallance there.

LOW CHURCH: Talking exclusively to the Oxford Student (we're guessing that they couldn't find a PR for Zippy, George and Bungle), Charlotte Church has Charlotte Church has dangled the tantalising prospect that she might shut up and have babies instead of making more records and such. The icWales report of the interview is wonderfully demented - it suggests she shows her "fun side" by saying she'd quite like an i-Pod, and, says the Welsh site "she proved she has strong opinions when it comes to other people's music." Erm... really?: "I saw Christina Aguilera at Wembley Arena, though I was pretty ill that night so I only got to hear a couple of tracks. Before that I saw Prince and Craig David in Hong Kong and Robbie Williams, Bon Jovi, and the Manics." Strong, insightful criticism there, certainly. She does say she thinks Victoria Beckham has got a weak voice, but that's hardly being very strident, is it?

But hang on, icWales hasn't finished yet: "When asked who she most admired Charlotte gave what might seem like typical answers for a girl of her age, though clearly she has more insight into her heroine's lives than most people. Ah, such insight... and what does she teach us? Britney is a "really strong chick", Nicole Kidman is "just really cool" and Kylie "has proved her talent by becoming big in the US." (oh, yeah?).

Most perplexing of all, having given perhaps one of the dullest drudgery-filled interviews since Radio Times axed A day In The Life ("ooh, I like a bacon sandwich, me... I shop at Asda... I eat take-away"), Church claims she'd been "too open" with the media and wishes she'd kept a "bit of herself" back. Here's a hint, Charlie - you could start by not spending an interview droning on about what time you get up and whether you use butter, marge or I Can't Believe Its Not Butter.

UNPAID MELODY: Robson Green - the porter from Casualty who went on to do other acting, we believe - has stated the bleeding obvious ("hit out at Simon Cowell saying that nearly everyone involved in Pop Idol won't make a bean because they'll get stuffed on their contracts" - so, they are like proper pop stars after all, then.) He concedes that Gates and Young might make a few hundred thousand out of it, as if this is somehow scandalous. But not especially talented people singing not entirely original songs tolerably well and taking home hundreds of thousands- isn't that the real scandal?

NOT THAT ROCK AND ROLL, THEN: Limp Bizkit pull their entire Asian tour because they're scared. Hmmm. Now, surely these dates were only announced about three weeks or so back - in other words, a year or so after the Bali bomb. So how come they've only just twigged there might be a risk of Fred Durst getting blown up? Could it be not so much the fear of a terrorist attack, but the fear of playing to empty rooms that has lead to the sudden decision that it's just too risky to go there?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

NEW TAN LINES: Things to look forward to in 2004: Apparently, a new proper Charlatans album.

GOOD GOD, PEOPLE, CAN'T YOU SEE THAT'S WHAT HE WANTS?: Some bonkers Christians in Zurich have made a formal complaint about Marilyn Manson claiming that his face-powdered circus sideshow is, somehow, a breach of the law against incitement to violence. Apart from probably giving Brian a stiffy - we can picture him grinning into a mirror smirking "Yeah, I'm still a menace to society" - it's a tremendous waste of police time, isn't it? The only people who Marilyn Manson is a threat to is the Insane Clown Policy as the two acts struggle for the dwindling share of the Easily-Impressed Crayoning Teenager market. Christianity managed to make it through two thousand years of Inquisitions, False Popes, Schisms, Wars, the offer 'convert to Islam and get a free WH Smiths voucher', three Omen movies, Harry Secombe's Highway and those large-print bibles with Jesus' words printed in red - to what extent is a half-way to cabaret act a real threat? Shouldn't you be out praying about Iraq or something?

BIGGER THAN ANYTHING: That the US Networks chose to run the limited information they had as not just the main story the day of the HSBC and British Consulate bombing, but the only story, is perhaps unsurprising, if a little disappointing - adding to the feeling that only terrorism against American targets actually 'counts'. But with the family under seige, you'd have to question the wisdom of Jermaine 'father of Jermajesty' Jackson popping up at the UN to try and promote an Aids awareness event. In terms of bringing attention to the matter, Ashanti (the other celeb at the launch) would have been more than capable of bringing in the cameras by herself, and it was surely obvious that the presence of one of the Jackson siblings would have only taken the focus away from the World health crisis. That Jermaine ran off mid-conference really made things far worse - a less egocentric man would have just sat there and waited until the press got bored. An ego-free man would have had the good taste not to turn up at all. Once again, the sense is that the real cause was about the aggrandisement of the promoters rather than the promotion of the cause.

WHY BRITNEY IS PUSHING IT IN WAYS CHRISTINA CAN'T COMPETE WITH: Yeah, Christina might wear chaps with no knickers. Big deal. Britney persuaded Ford to underwrite her (albeit mildly) sapphic video. The key bit isn't the near-kiss at the end, it's the car at the start that's yer cultural therometer right there.

TOP OF THE FIZZY POPS: One of the most curious aspects over the hoo-hah over the sponsorship of the "official" chart by Coca-Cola is the way that some critics, like EMAP's Mark Storey, seem to think there's something new about the chart being sponsored - there isn't, of course, it's just the previous sponsor Worldpop threw its money away on a sponsorship nobody knew of. But it has to be the novelty that's upset EMAP rather than the sugar-sweet nature of the sponsor - because it's only a few months since EMAP's stations ceased carrying the, um, Pepsi Chart.

So, should the BBC be letting the nation's all-important list of best (feebly) selling singles be whored out to the fizzy pop maker? Sure, the BBC are in a tricky position here - they don't make the chart, so don't have a direct input into what happens on the headed notepaper, and, as they fairly point out, they mention sponsorship deals in the case of, say, the Coca-Cola Cup or the Barclaycard Premiership. On the other hand, the BBC is one of the biggest paymasters of the Chart Company, and it's pretty apparent that the Officialness of the Official chart resides not in the fact it appears in a pull-out in the middle of Music Week, but in its use by the BBC. If the BBC elected not to use the Chart With Added Sugar, but to go elsewhere for its listing (hell, we'd even make up a list of bestselling singles for you, if you'd like) it's unlikely Coke would be topping up the Chart Company's coffers to the tune of a million quid. (Perhaps what's really the big pisser about this is that Radio One and Top of the Pops are going to be used as a billboard, but the BBC don't get a silver dollar of the cash). The BBC don't currently underwrite the costs of, say, the Lancia Classic and then find themselves having to bend to the whims of a sponsor as well, and really, the Corporation should have used that moral authority to say "you want a sponsor? Fine, they can pay for the entire chart, then."

Of course, there's a connected argument about if Coca-Cola is a fit sponsor for anything that kids are interested in at all - it might encourage them to drink pop, which they otherwise wouldn't do - but that's perhaps for another time.

IT TAKES TWO, BABY...: Following on from the Korn/limpbizkit smithkleinebeecham tour, now it's POD and Linkin Park hooking up for a joint jaunt. We'd really like to think that the habit of two rock bands coming together before they set foot out on tour is because they're too wimpish to face up to going to Texas alone, but we're happy to accept that it's because of the dwindling hard rock market forcing the promoters to double-up on the offer in a bid to make the numbers add up in a positive fashion.

"DIDN'T HURT A BIT. DIDN'T CRY. I'M A BIG BRAVE BOY: Of course, having spent the last year desperate to get any headlines he could - "I fucked Britney! No, honest! Over here! Me!", the first time something happens to Fred Durst that people might actually want to know about, he trys to come across all coy and pretend he don't want no kind of attention like that. Durst proclaims being hit in the face with something sharp "a very rock and roll moment", and so we really hope that he continues to experience an awful lot of rock and roll moments in the weeks to come. We notice that the Limp Bizkit site has been redesigned to match the band's Consignia-style rebranding as limpbizkit - note that in the band shot, Fred is wearing a black hat. You might also note they seem ever less like a teen rock band and give off the air of a bunch of guys who've persuaded their wives to let them go fishing this weekend providing they fix up the shed when they get back.

SMALL STOPPAGE AT STROKES GIG; NONE INJURED: 6Music have been very sniffy indeed about's coverage of the Strokes Gig - yeah, said Andrew Purcell, 6's man on the spot, there was a little break in the music to persuade the crowd to move backwards, but... it's not quite the near-disaster the nme would try to have you believe.

WITHDEAN WON'T DO: Norman Cook has gone to Downing Street with a petition calling for Brighton and Hove Albion to be allowed to build a new stadium in Falmer. Since the buttheaded crooks who ran the club into the ground sold the Goldstone Ground, the team have been lumbered with first a Gillingham groundshare and, currently, a residency at Withdean Stadium. Withdean was originally built by Brighton Council as a rival to Wimbledon (by which they meant 'a venue for world class tennis', which they never achieved, rather than 'a home for a football team struggling to live up to their 1980s glory days', which oddly they did manage.)

YOU'LL BELIEVE A MAN CAN LIE: Teeny-tiny Timberlake says he turned down the chance to play Superman with the words "Whatever you're smoking, dude, I don't want any of it. It's just not me." We don't know what the person he was with was smoking, but we're more interested to know what Timberlake was on to hallucinate an entire Hollywood studio offering him a plum role like that.

SEE THE TRAPEZIOD SHAPE THERE? THAT'S BABY'S HEAD: Janet Ellis is to be a grandmother, 'cause Sophie's got knocked up. Sophie says she wants to have lots more children, too, although we should point out she's only three months pregnant and so hasn't yet had to buy anything resembling Maternity Wear, nor spend thirty-two hours straining to push the little blighter out, nor not slept for three weeks solid. In fact, so far all she's had is getting a licence to eat gherkins with ice cream, so we'll see if she's still keen this time next year. But for now: congratulations and good luck.

YOU DON'T QUITE GET IT, DO YOU?: Alicia Keys doesn't wear skimpy outfits on stage, she says, because she's afraid people might see her breasts or her knickers. Hmmm. Bet Christina hadn't thought of that danger before she started to wear her skimpies.

FIRTH TENDS TO BE RIGHT: So, the cast of Love, Actually are split over the wisdom of releasing Bill Nighy's song from the movie as a single - Emma Thompson thinks its a great idea, Colin Firth thinks its terrible, and we presume Hugh's just pissed off he didn't get a crack at the charts with About A Boy's Santa's magic Sleigh. Oddly, they don't ask Martine McCutcheon what she thinks about an actor who can't sing for toffee releasing a record.