Saturday, December 13, 2003

DO WHAT, RON RON, DO WHAT RON RON?: Ronnie Spector Greenfield, wife of Phil Spector, tells reporters she'd never seen Phil "violent, with a gun or anything." Is this the same Ronnie Spector who in her 1991 Autobiography 'Be My Baby' claimed that he had pulled a gun on her in the first three months of their marriage?

THEY'RE NOT GOING QUIETLY: We're a little lost as to the exact reasoning behind the RIAA going after ordinary file-sharers - it was to scare everyone, or something, right? Only when people do pay up (there's a few dozen capitulated to their bullying tactics) nobody much hears about it, as the cases which make the news are the ones which just portray the buddy-group of the big labels as heartless, thick gits - like the action bought against a New Jersey woman for her 13 year old daughter's downloads. Michele Scimeca - who comes from Rockaway, perfectly enough - isn't going to let herself be rolled over by the RIAA and seems to be set on creating a wonderful large stink. [Alan C, again: we thank you]

WELL, HE COULD PROBABLY BENEFIT FROM HAVING HIS OWN DIPLOMATIC BAGGAGE: People really should be more careful when they're handing out awards. Last year, Britney inadvertently lead Michael Jackson to believe he'd been given an Artist of the Millennium prize, and now Colin Powell seems to have created James Brown as "secretary of soul and foreign minister of funk." Now, of course, Powell is no stranger to making odd pronouncements about non-existent stuff - let's not forget the time he tried to pull the United Nation's leg about lorries transforming into biological weapon factories at the drop of a hat, and chemical weapon plants which disappeared in a puff of smoke when you went to look at them - but this is especially astonishing. Apart from anything, shouldn't Brown be Foreign Minister for funk, suggesting funk is his special overseas responsibility, rather than of funk, which would tend to imply that he came from funk?

Anyway, we doubt if Brown will ever be allowed to take up his position - the Senate is bound to pick up on his spell in chokey for firing guns at the police before anyone ever gets round to deciding what functions of the Department of Homeland Security should be brought under the new Department of Soul. [Thanks to Alan C for the link]

HOW LONG UNTIL THE CHICKEN SONG?: We've been waiting for a chance to mentionPopular, but one hasn't presented itself so we'll just do it for its own sake, shall we? Tom Ewing sets out to review all the nearly 1000 records to have made Number One in the UK. In order. he's just got up to That'll Be The Day, which means he's in 1957. For some reason it reminds us a little of Doctor Who.

NOT THROWING HIS STUPID HAT INTO THE RING: We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Jay Kay had been drafted in to head up a campaign to build some houses on a school site in Princes Risborough. It now turns out that he although he cares deeply about the campaign, Jay Kay can't actually be arsed to turn up or do anything about it. Which is a bit of a bugger for the council, who are now going to have to rely on themselves to push the measure through.

SCHOOL'S OUT FOREVER: Reading about the German School of Rock we find ourselves wondering: do these courses ever do any good? We used to toil in the shadow of LIPA, or "Paul McCartney's Fame School" as it was all-too-often dubbed, and despite the numerous talented individuals teaching there, and the millions of pounds of money poured in, its main contribution to the world appears to have been that chap who did 'Whatever', the songwords for Jemini's Eurovision null pointer and one chap from a Boyband - none of which really suggests a whole heap of skills learned in a classroom environment. There's also the Brits School in Croydon, which we remember created quite a buzz of excitement when it was created some ten or so years back. Since then, however, we've seen a sign pointing to it from a train window, and that's it. Now it might be that the entire upper echelons of the British Music Industry passed through its doors - or maybe even some usefull members of society have - but surely if it's been a great success we'd be hearing its name all the time? The Christian Science Monitor observes "Others wonder if a bachelor of arts degree in pop is worth as much as a business degree and an internship at a record label" - and you have to say, perhaps they're right.

WHO DO VOODOO? THEY DO: We think it's just a one-off, but Voodoo, the legendary Liverpool club night will walk the earth (well, the old L2 or Carling Academy as it's calling itself nowadays) on New Year's Eve. Hurrah!

STUDT WALL: When Amy Studt was first offered to us, it was stressed almost non-stop that she wrote her own songs (the "help" was kept as hidden as credits would allow). This was, apparently, the unique selling point. So if her songwriting is so great, why has she wound up releasing a cover of Sheryl Crow's All I Want To Do? We're having trouble figuring out why - after all those interviews about how it was crucial for her to record songs about her own experiences - she's now claiming to come from LA rather than Bournemouth? Nothing to do with her real life turning into disappointingly selling singles, is it?

MAKING WITH THE NOT BAH-HUMBUGS: The good people at Ex-Rental are celebrating the season to be jolly with a festive Eurodisco MP3 download thingy. And while we're being all fa-la-la-la-la, at the LSE in London there's a Christmas Big Issue benefit with Ten Benson, The Parkinsons, Ambershades, Coporation Blend and Future of Junior. Doors at 8, seven quid; on Friday 19th December.

Friday, December 12, 2003

MUMMIFIED DJS: We're slightly scared by the story of the DJ who fell into a wall at his own club and ended up mumified - it sounds like the set up for a Jonathan Creek tale to us. Having said which, if anyone in Tim Westwood's - ahem - manor is doing some drywalling, knows how to turn a blind eye and is able to ignore a bit of desperate banging, could they get in touch at the usual address, please?

YE GODS: We're not surprised the judge has postponed the Courtney Love drug hearings - we'd be keen to hurry her out of our courtroom, too:

they're altogether ookie...

If that's what she looks like after a couple of weeks in rehab, you shudder at what she must have been like when they took her in.

IT'S THEIR OWN FAULT, WITH THESE NEW, LIGHT, UNOBTRUSIVE CONTRAPTIONS: We have a degree of sympathy Busta Rhymes, who harrangued a guy at his Copenhagen gig: "I didn't come from the other end of the world to see people sit on their ass. Everybody get up." Wihtout realising that the bloke he was screeching at was in a wheelchair - it does seem to be a genuine, Brentesque mistake rather than a Beastie-Boys style attempt to generate a storm, or Jim Davidson's cuntish refusal to allow people in wheelchairs to sit in the front row of his gigs.

There's no record of how the guy took it, and we're not sure this is genuine security photo of him leaving in a huff:

I am Prince - the one and only

Thursday, December 11, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Royal Mail finally comes through edition
Kurt on the cover of the NME - probably turned up late because they had to piece it together like a jigsaw, then; but although the edition is lead off on Kurt, it's mainly Strokes as far as the eye can see - free strokes poster, big picture is strokes in Wales, coverage of all the gigs so far. Apparently the gigs were great, you won't be surprised to hear.

Wonderfully, Peaches reveals that at the moment she is mostly listening to hall & Oates ' Essential Collection. Splendid. Anyone want to join us in a chorus of Adult Education?

What does the new Vines stuff sound like? "A ballad with a Byrds feel", "even more blissed out than Highly Evolved" and even "Heat-shaped Box-esque" - calmed down a bit, then Craig?

Sloppily, the NME repeats's error in the report on Norman Cook handing in a petition to get Brighton and Hove Albion their ground in Falmer, claiming that the team have been playing at Withdean since the bunch of evil crooks in charge of the club back in the mid-90's sold the Goldstone, completely ignoring the time the team played at Gillingham for two seasons. How can we trust them when they say Joey Ramone is having a street named after him when they get such simple facts wrong? How? HOW?

Million Dead do a CD - Part Chimp, Queen and the Foo Fighters.

Peter Robinson: [Steve Lamacq] is a bit like the indie you, isn't he?
Tim Westwood: I wouldn't say that...
In the best PR verus so far, Westwood also clings to the likely story that he's twenty seven - and a half - despite looking as if he can remember when Paul Heaton didn't have to go to High and Mighty to buy trousers.

Ouch. I've fallen off my seat, because Radar has got women in it - the 5678s, to be precise, although they seem to be featured as much because of their appearance in Kill Bill as anything else - which, what with having been in a major film makes us wonder just how "new" they count as.

Advertising comedy character Har Mar Superstar chooses his favourite new band, and they're Scissor Sisters - "like George Michael having a wet dream over Prince." The poor little fella would drown, surely?

The all-knowing nme brain is asked if Alvin Stardust is Adam Ant's Dad. "It's an easy mistake to make, as Alvin's son is called Adam" - just like, erm, Stuart Goddard isn't. Why it might be an understandable mistake is because Alvin was married to Liza Goddard, so Mr. Ant shares a real surname with Alvin's ex-wife.

So, Kurt Cobain's fifty top albums of all time - The Vaselines are in there, The Breeders, and Black Flag, but, of course, he spoils it all by choosing Sergeant Pepper as the first choice.

If The Coral collaborated with Beyonce, James Skelly's girlfriend would bite his cock off, he claims. Yeah, like she's going to put that in her mouth, James. Apparently they still get treated like shite in Hoylake, which is, you know, Hoylake for you.

Jim James of My Morning Jacket thinks that life should be about appreciating little things - "like eating popcorn in your underwear." I'm not sure that that's popcorn, Jim...

Pretty Girls Make Graves had all but split up, you know, but while playing out their last dates they realised they didn't want to.

justin timberlake - birmingham nia - "the best thing he could do now would be to go back to N'Sync", 9
ilara colt - nottingham soundhaus - "prepare yourself for a swift and overdue asscendance", 9
gravy train!!!! - london garage - "a XXX special needs version of Bucks Fizz"

damon albarn - democrazy - " musical foetuses ... thank christ blur usually finish writing their songs before they sell them otherwise they'd be shit", 2

ladytron/various - softcore jukebox - "Hit the north Part 1... Wire... Soon by My Bloody Valentine", 8

sotw - the darkness - christmas time (cheesey bell end) - "a universe beyond shame"
good chalotte - the young and the hopeless - "crap lament to teenage suicide"
zoot woman - gem - "noir-ish Human league style electric futurism"

John Cale loves Radiohead. They've reached Wales, then?

Next week... it's double pop papers, which is scary because that means we need to do Christmas shopping.

And finally, Ryan Adams - why have you got a logo parodying the American Prescription mark? Besides it not travelling well, are you trying to suggest you have healing qualities?

SEACREST UNSEATS SHAGGY: Ryan Seacrest is replacing Casey Kasem as presenter of the chart rundown on American Radio. Oh, sure, you might laugh, but everyone laughed when Wes Butters was plucked from obscurity to... um... [checks Google] bugger me, apparently Wes presents the Panda Pops Top 40 on Radio One.

But while the host of American Pop Idol is adding a chart rundown to his portfolio (he's also going to be doing his own show for Fox on the telly, which kind of suggests just how poor he must be), in Britain Pop Idol has brought about the end of a chart presenter's career. Dr. Fox is to step down from his job reading out the commercial chart that nobody much cares about on a dwindling number of ILR stations. Fox blames pressure of time - he also does Capital's drive time slot, and is constantly having to answer phone calls and letters intended for Dr. Liam Fox, Tory Party chairman. (By the way, congratulations to news for headlining the story 'Dr Fox to leave radio' even though their own report makes clear he's continuing with his teatime show.)

popdex - a temporary link

POP PAPERS: When Right to Reply changed to offer a freepost address for viewers to write in, they suddenly discovered a problem with their generous offer: Freepost is much slower than ordinary post, and as such letters weren't arriving in time for them to get into the programme. So it is that the Post Office is currently fucking up the Pop Papers schedule, as for the second week out of three the NME hasn't turned up. For now, we can tell you: Cobain on the cover, full version hopefully this evening.

Maybe if Post Office boss Alan Leighton had just the one job, things might start happening there.

BUCKLES AND BOWS: The RIAA has announced a new high-profile signing, with the appointment of Bradley Buckles, director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as the new head of the RIAA's anti-piracy unit. Clearly, the accusations of being a bit heavy-handed and slightly muddled levelled at the music industy's cartel have stung, and they've now decided to become totally heavy-handed and utterly muddled, if Buckle's past record is anything to go by.

Take, for example, the case of Unintended Consequences, a work of fiction by investment broker and former Democratic candidate John Ross. It seems that Buckles' ATF was a bit pissed with the story, which featured the bureau, and oddly, according to Ross' attorney, people selling the book in three different states received a "visit" from ATF reps suggesting that to continue to offer the title for sale might result in "problems." Even more strangely, Mrs. Ross, at the time amicably separated from her husband, was approached by men waving ATF ID cards trying to dig for dirt.

Meanwhile, the hideous botch-up of the lawsuits against music fans should be familar territory to Buckles, whose agency screwed up attempts to tighten-up change of ownership rules for gunowners. Now, we're half feeling that anyone who the NRA hates can't be all bad, but even so... it's not the best of signs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

YOUR CHANCE TO INFLUENCE HISTORY: Polydor, it seems, don't really know what to do with Girls Aloud now they've released the same album twice. So they're asking people to suggest what they should do with them next. Forget manufactured bands; here comes focus-group groups.

AFGHAN RUG: America isn't having the best of times in Afghanistan right now - they seem to be accidenting to death an awful lot of kids, opponents of their presence are taking strength and pinching ideas from the Iraqi resistance and for some reasons the parents of a Canadian also accidented to death by the US won't just take the medal and be happy with that. What to do to cheer the boys up? Hmmm... can't do the George Bush and the plastic turkey again, that's been sort of ruined for everyone now the world knows the troops in Iraq weren't even eating turkey that day, so... why not send for Henry Rollins? Oh, sure, it might seem an odd choice - Rollins with his history of slagging of the Commander-in-chief standing in for ole' Uncle George - but Henry, it seems, was delighted to be invited and start spewing out quotes that sound more like a recruitment poster than a punk hero: "“In America, on the news, we see the exclamation points about this whole thing, casualties, helicopter crashes, because it makes for good news and it’s very important when we lose all those people; but what we never hear about, what I’ve found out today, are all the good things that are happening to this country because of all of you that are here,” Rollins expressed to the crowd. “I’m about to start of 50 or 60 speaking dates all across America and by the time I’m done with them they’ll all know what I saw, so you can count on me for that.”[...] “What I didn’t expect was to meet so many bright, amazing people, who are so focused on their jobs, so highly educated, and so fully intense; and I’m quite in awe.”

Clearly, now Bob Hope's dead, Henry is sensing his chance to become the new Force's sweetheart.

PARKS RIDES ON: BMG, Arista and Outkast haven't heard the last of Rosa Parks yet, it seems, as her claim against them has been allowed to go forward by the US Supreme Court. Parks, you'll recall, was miffed that the band used her name as a songtitle on an album whose ''profanity, racial slurs and derogatory language directed at women'' handicapped her future business dealings, caused emotional distress and tainted her legacy.

Meanwhile, we're delighted to learn from rocktober that Outkast love the Smiths and that Andre 3000 wished he'd written Last Night I Dreamed That Somebody Loves Me. Probably not as much as he wishes he'd not written Rosa Parks, mind.

While we're doing the court round-up: Glenn Campbell pleads 'not guilty' to all the charges against him - it was all Lexapro's fault, he says; A Rhode Island grand jury has issued indictments rising from the Great White's firework nightclub razing - former Great White tour manager Dan Biechele, and club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian were each charged with 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter with criminal negligence, a felony charge, and 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in violation of a misdemeanor. None of the band members face any further action; and George Clinton's brief is fighting the possession charges by claiming an illegal search, which would appear at first glance to sit uncomfortably with the earlier reports that George told the cop he had a pocket full of cocaine.

Kiwi opera diva springs shotgun surprise
Vanessa Mae scared by stalker

"WELL, ROY, THAT IS A RECORD FOR THE FURTHEST FALL FOR THE MIGHTY OF ALL TIME…": Mani was in The Stone Roses, and as such produced one of the greatest debut albums of all time. He joined Primal Scream, and thus added his imprint to one of the most extraordinary pop groups of recorded history. But now? Now he's taking a bloody holiday job with Ocean Colour Scene. We thought it was heavy fog hanging over England this morning, but it turns out it was just his coolness and self-respect evaporating off.

I BLAME MYSELF: The heavy pressure of work almost led Westlife to split - it's my fault; maybe if I'd booked them for one more event they might have finally snapped. Now, they say they want to go on "forever - like the BeeGees." In other words, they're telling us it's going to take a death to stop them now. "In music terms, we want to be more than an act that people like for a few years and then tire of." More than?

CAREER GUIDANCE FOR MR. WILLIAMS: Robbie Williams says he wants to 'reinvent himself' after this Australian tour. We'd really like to see him try something from here.

NEW HIGHS IN SENSITIVE PRESS REPORTING: He's not an alleged victim, or an accuser any more - it's now Michael Jackson versus Cancer Boy.

OH, MISTER STING, WE LOVE YOU: What the hell is Rufus Wainwright doing paying tribute to Sting? We can understand the likes of Dave Matthews turning up to praise the former teacher at some godawful Sumner-fest, but Rufus? Are times that hard?

JAZZING IN THE NAME OF THE LORD: We weren't aware of the problem, but apparently Christians who love jazz have been feeling uncomfortable for some time - they can't "enjoy the artform without condemnation", apparently. But the good news is now they can, with the launch of SpiritJazz, the world's first ever jazz label dedicated to Christian jazzing. To try and draw the sting of how jazz is quite tied up with the whole satan-flavoured type mix of drugs, booze, ladies with low-cut dresses and not getting to bed before the Shipping Forecast, the label has built a website which explains that jazz was just church music that lost its way. Maybe, but wasn't Satan originally an angel?

MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH: The Sun claims Kylie Minogue has employed a member of staff to tell her when to eat. That'd be a casual job, we'd imagine. Three days a month?

b>YES, ROBBIE, THAT'LL WORK: Robbie Williams was "only quipping" when he said his appearance with lapdancers was "because he'd go to any lengths to prove he wasn't gay", of course. And, yes, could he look any more like a rabid heterosexual male in this image:

Nothing gay about me

But for some reason, we feel compelled to run this picture:

Yes, we know it's the stars in their eyes Elton and not the real one, but work with us, won't you?

More interestingly, Robbie says he's "given up" attempting to break America - wow, he put a lot of effort into that, didn't he? I'm going to use that as my working definition of gumption from now on.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

WANT A JOB?: Sony in the US are currently hiring staff for... yes, their download music service which is to be called Sony Connect. Hmm.

SOCIAL SERVICES THOUGHT NOTHING WAS WRONG: And, of course, social services never miss evidence of abuse or neglect, do they? But it seems they'd already investigated the abuse allegations that Jackson's been arrested over, and they saw no reason to take it further. The kid's teacher had apparently called a hotline after the boy had been in the Bashir documentary (Michael Jackson must really be wishing he'd never invited Granada TV in). The Smoking Gun has the memo which will, if nothing else, keep the story bubbling along for a little longer. Wonder if they'll be seeking the source of the leak?

I'M SURE THERE'S SOMETHING - WHAT'S THE WORD - IRONIC HERE: Kazaa Lite disappears overnight after Sharman Networks, producers of Kazaa, heavy ISPs across America to get download sites from the program yanked citing - oh, yes - copyright infringement. I'm told that these days the smart filesharing masses are switching to bittorrent anyway, but then what would I know?

NOT THAT WE THINK THE OLD BOY IS GOING TO... YOU KNOW... BUT JUST IN CASE: William Hill cut Ozzy & Kelly's odds for Xmas No.1 from 50s to 16-1. Bar. Humbug.






Amongst other events the Pixies won't be playing are: Cyndamarie and Nigel's moving-back-to-the-States barbecue; the Nottingham Goose Fair; support slot for Liquid Greek and the landing of Beagle2 on Mars on Christmas Day. We're starting more and more to believe that it ain't never gonna happen - until then believe none of what you hear, and less of what you read

IF A JOB'S WORTH DOING RIGHT/ THEN THEY'LL DO IT WRONG: We have some sympathy for Peter Gabriel, forced by crap builders to resort to legal action - we once were told by our landlord when we complained about a leaking flat roof that he was aware of the problem, but when he'd tried to use the warranty from the builders they'd threatened to break both his legs - but we're not sure why it took him twelve years to decide enough was enough. That's an awful lot of packets of HobNobs to be providing. Wouldn't most people have said "enough" when the site foreman was telling them "Yeah, it looks odd at the moment, but in about three years when we've got the new windows in, you'll see what we've done then…" Pete's initial comments - that the builders might say he was a "bit of a perfectionist" - suggest we could be in for an entertaining court case. We wonder if he wanted the party wall replaced by a harmonic convergence?

HAS ANYONE HERE HEARD KELLY?: Any joy that Kelly (just Kelly) will be feeling at being given the plum drivetime slot on Virgin will probably be slightly tempered by the station's spokesperson saying "we don't want a second personality show during the day, we want the station to be music-led." Nothing makes a promotion better than knowing you got it through your total lack of personality.

According to her profile, she used to be a Nirvana freak but now… oh, surprise me, loves Coldplay and the Stereophonics. We kind of wish they were going to be relying on her personality instead of the music.

OFFICIAL: NORTHERNERS DON'T LIKE JAZZ: After years of fannying about with the name and the image ("We're J-FM, no, we're Jazz… look, here’s a gecko…") Jazz FM has finally decided to stop waiting for the North West to embrace it and is going to change its name from Jazz to Smooth. Now, although Smooth already exists as a digital station, and one that the owners GMG have tried to get an analogue licence for - which would suggest its a very different proposition from Jazz FM - it appears they don't need any special permission to introduce Rod Stewart into the playlist as their original promise made to the Radio Authority is so vague as to virtually allow them to play whatever they want, so long as every so often there's something with a saxophone on it. Plus, they almost certainly figure, by timing the swap to coincide with the Radio Authority getting chewed up into mighty mono-regulator Ofcom, if anyone does care they won't know who to complain to, and if they do know who to complain to, Ofcom will still be too busy trying to work out what to do with its special magic powers as to not be that arsed about a piffling little station in the outlying territories.

THE NEW DUMBING DOWN: Loretta Lynn and James Brown recieve honours in the US from George W's ole pop. The NME headline? "White Stripe's Pal Honoured By US President". They also explain that when James Brown was asked how he felt and he said "I feel good", it was a reference to his hit "I Feel Good."

"BUT MR. WILLIAMS, WE DON'T OWN A WOODEN PLANE": First signs of Robbie Williams developing a Hughes Complex to go with his huge ego, as he insists on toilet seat covers on his Australian tour to avoid "germs." We're sending him a whole bunch of face masks for Christmas, and a card with the words of Reggie Perrin - "I think Howard Hughes was rather too trusting using toilet paper to walk on..."

MR. SHADY... YOU CAN TAKE THIS AS A WARNING: So, the Secret Service have spent a couple of days thinking about it and have produced a statement about the Eminem lyric about "rather seeing the president dead":

"The Secret Service has no current plans to open an investigation into this matter [but we are] concerned about communications that can be interpreted in a manner perhaps not intended by the artist, and the potential peripheral impact that such lyrics can have on other individuals. The Secret Service takes every potential threat against the President seriously. We don't have the luxury to do otherwise."

Oh, for God's sake. No wonder there were people in Washington who believed in the weapons of mass destruction - if the authorities there believe that a bloody lyric in an Eminem song is something that has to be taken "seriously" as a "potential threat" against the crayoning kid in the White House, how can we expect them to sift any intelligence reports with any degree of sophistication?

HEY HEY HOMOPHOBIA: Why did Bounty Killer cancel his London date? Was it - as the venue say - because he "missed his flight from Jamaica?" Or was it because he knew that Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll of New Scotland Yard’s hate crime unit, the Diversity Directorate, was planning to have a chat with him over his virulently homophobic lyrics? We might never know the truth, but we like to believe that Mr. Killer will find himself being known as the chap who shot his mouth off about how gays should be executed, but was too much of a wuss to go to a place where he might have had to cross a picket line of homosexuals.

If you're pissed off that Mr. Killer's inability to get on that plane has robbed you of a chance to protest, however, there is something you can still do to register your disgust at his stinking lyrics. Return your Bounty Killer records, or demand they be taken off the shelves. And before you chuckle "But I don't have any Bounty Killer records", you might want to check you haven't bought that No Doubt singles collection. Because, unbelievably, Gwen Steffani and the boys chose to work with Bounty Killer on 'Hey Baby.' Their reasons for helping out a man who calls for the slaughter of homosexuals we can't begin to guess. You might want to ask if you want to buy music that will be helping engorge his bank account.

AND THIS IS NEWS?: We're not entirely sure why any journalist thinks 'Ozzy was wiped out on pills during The Osbournes' is a news story - what next? 'Kelly an untalented hanger on?' 'Sharon's talk show not very good'?

Of course, the genuine news is that Ozzy has had major surgery after a quad-bike accident at their actual Buckinghamshire home. Sheesh, the lengths people will go to in order to avoid having to do a promotional tour with their daughter. When it's Kelly. Apart from the pain and serious injuries, Ozzy is probably going to be embarrassed at being caught out playing with a child's toy.

It is good news for Bert McCracken, though - apparently he was going to get all beaty-up on him for dumping Kelly. Kelly thought it was odd that Ozzy should be so violent about this, but we're guessing he was pissed off that Bert hadn't whisked you off out of the house, Kelly.

AND ANOTHER ONE...: In not so much a "Me too" bid as a "You as well?" Earthlink announce they're to do secure downloads, ninety nine cents a time. They're claiming 350,000 songs, but really we're starting to raise a quizzical eyebrow at these large library numbers being quoted...

Monday, December 08, 2003

ANOTHER REASON TO FLY FROM MANCHESTER: Pinched from The Guardian's Northerner:

With Christmas a-coming, passengers at Manchester airport have struck
a blow for frazzled shoppers everywhere by banning Slade's 70s classic Merry Xmas Everybody from belting out on the tannoy.

When, in an operation called Project Noel, airport staff surveyed more than a thousand passengers about how the festive season at the airport could be improved, they found that most thought not having Noddy Holder yelling "It's Chriiiistmas!" in the checkout queue would be a good start.

Instead of Slade, travellers would like to hear a little light carol singing as they set off for foreign climes. "We are constantly striving to improve the surroundings for our passengers and unfortunately, we simply could not ignore their concerns over the Slade song," said an airport spokesman.

CHINESE ROCK STARS UNABLE TO PULL A HAMILTON: In Britain last week, the oily Hamilton couple scored a rare victory over the legal system when they escaped a fine for speeding because they claimed they "couldn't remember" which one was driving at the time. Yes, Neil Hamilton used to have the cheek to make legislation to control all our lives and yet the pair are now so beyond the pale they're happy to jerk themselves at the court system rather than admit their mistake and pay up. Let's hope justice catches up with them in the way it has with Hong Kong pop start Nicholas Tse, who's just had his appeal rejected - he'd been convicted of conspiring to pervert the court of justice by getting someone else to stand in for him following a car crash. Tse is going to have to do 240 hours community service to make ammends.

RAPOBIT: Soulja Slim, former No Limit rap artist, was shot outside his mother's house in Gentilly, New Orleans at the end of last month. As well as solo work for No Limit and his own Cut Throat Committy label, he guested on albums by Snoop Dogg, C-Murder, Master P and the Dirty South Boys. His funeral - last saturday - was originally planned as a private memorial but was changed to a public celebration of his life following a change of heart by his family.

IGNORE IT, IT'S JUST A MIXER: Having successfully overseen the transformation of football from a muddy, rough sport and obsession into a prime-positioned marketing tool, Coke really is planning on doing the same to music. With the bubbles from the Top 40 sponsorship deal still bursting in the soft flesh of our noses, Coke is trumpeting its soon-to-launch download site - it's promising a quarter of a million tracks (although it won't say which or by whom, which makes us smell an attempt to try and buy some leverage in negotiations) and it hasn't said what format they'll be in. But the bottle cap has been thrown into the ring.

Curiously, the need to own a credit or debit card means they'll automatically be excluding an enormous segment of the online, music-loving audience, the under-18s.

Coke claim that people have been telling them that they find downloading music "confusing" - thank god it wasn't any simpler, eh, BPI, else everyone would be at it? - and they've been told that people want simple, legal downloads from a "brand they trust." But they've decided to have a crack at it nevertheless.

YOU'RE INVESTIGATING?: We're sure they're not; they surely wouldn't; only a bunch of half wits with nothing better to do would... oh, they are: the Feds are investigating if Eminem should be prosecuted for the line "(Fuck) money, I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead" in a rap which has popped up online somewhere.

To save the FBI some time and money, we can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that he doesn't mean this bit:

"I'd rather see the president dead"

Because he sure as hell is lying his cash-drenched ass off when he says this bit:

"Fuck money, I don't rap for dead presidents."

You'd be more likely to see Eminem doing a freebie down the Marsh Lane Community Centre than you would him taking a pot-shot at Bush. And that ain't ever gonna happen.

SO, THAT'S WHAT A GRAMMY IS WORTH, THEN: USD15,500, according to the price raised at auction for Peabo's Grammy. Someone who bought one of his gold records is going to give it back to him, we guess the rest of the stuff will turn up in Hard Rock Cafes around the planet over the coming weeks. Oddly, the IRS won't say how much the sale raised, despite it being a public auction and them being there to serve the public and all. And someone could have just sat there with a calcualtor.

THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A BRANCH AT GATWICK, YOU KNOW: Pierre, you might want to look away now because we've got a fresh box of evidence of Justin Timberlake's not coolness delivered. Firstly, shopping in Harrods is not something anyone of any poise does anyway - it's the Madame Tussaurds of retailing; the green and gold bag somewhere between a Kiss Me Quick hat and a cheap model of the Eiffel Tower on the scale of slightly shameful tourist tat; more importantly, there is a four letter word that starts with 'c' and describes someone who insists that a shop be kept open until three in the morning for them, and it ain't cool, honeypie. Those people actually have their own homes and families they'd rather be with instead of being forced to work late so some behatted chap can squander the cash they really should be squirreling away for their retirement. I'm sure they chuckled as you and your hangers-on trumpeted around the store, and around, and around, as the tubes stopped running and the buses dropped to night-bus frequency. You could have shopped online, Justin, but maybe that wouldn't have let you live out your Princess Diana fantasies.

IT'S THE REAL THING: So the Coke Top 40 row rumbles on, although we're bemused as to why media Guardian is making so much fuss about the BBC knowing in advance of the annoucement that the deal was being made - it doesn't mean they were lying when they said they "were not a party to" the deal - which would have meant they were involved in the negotiations. For clarity, No Rock is not a party to the decision to extend Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth, but we are aware of it. And, as we said last week, we can understand the Commercial Radio sector being upset by the apparent backdoor commercial, but to demand an inquiry now is just opportunist - if they have a problem with the same principle being applied to the Coca Cola Chart as to the Barclaycard Premiership, why didn't they raise this at the time the chart first took a sponsor rather than the new deal was struck? Unless it's a specific objection to the nature of the company, in which case we look forward to Capital et al clearing their schedules of ads for Coke, Pepsi and - of course - McDonalds.

BRRING BRRRING? NO, BLLLING BLLLLING: Another way for the mobiles to screw cash out of its willing dupes ("Another innovation in the mobile phone industry"): T-Mobile customers can now choose what they hear while they're waiting for someone to answer their phone. It's already made GBP59 million in fifteen months in South Korea, and doubtless it'll shovel cash into the pockets of British phone operators in exactly the same way.

CLIFF FACE: Sir Cliff explains why he lent Blair his holiday home in Barbados:

All I know is that a human friend of mine looked as though he needed a rest. I said 'please, if you can find the time to go, I won't be there, but feel free to use the place.' I may not offer that again, but I was happy that I did because he did benefit from it physically.

Of course, the physical benefit is since he returned, he's been hospitalised with a dodgy heart and - according to Paul Routledge, writing in the New Statesman, senior Labour politicians have been murmuring that he's wearing man-nappies. Such are the health benefits to be accrued from staying at Cliff Richard's place. If only you could bottle it, eh?

I'M MANDY - WHY ME?: As if the daughter of Chris DeBurgh winning Miss World wasn't suggestion enough that the recent solar flares appear to have destroyed the critical facilties of the world, Westlife go and win Record of the Year with their cover version of Mandy. Let's not even risk the cerebal bruising that the level of banging heads onto desks that allowing a straight cover version to even compete in the competition, but instead recognise that not only is Mandy by Westlife not the record of the year, it's not even the definitive version of the song. (The karaoke version sung by Angel is [mp3], if you're wondering)

BUJU BOO-BOO: We wouldn't normally be hoping that someone caught with a bit of weed would be sent down, but when it's charming homophobe Buju Banton whose thirty marijuana plants get discovered by police, we find ourselves imagining him trying to explain his belief that homosexuality is wrong and that gay men should be shot up on D-Wing. He's in front of the magistrates today.

POP STARS IN REDUCED CIRCUMSTANCES: You have to wonder what sort of "work commitments" would have lead Hannah Spearritt to cancel a charity date at the Vauxhall Holiday Park in Yarmouth. After all, if your diary is so empty you're accepting engagements at a caravan park, presumably the sort of thing that would keep you away would be the chance of an extra shift at Burger King, or maybe your mate Frank needing someone to make sure nobody pinches his cap while he's doing Streets of London at the entrance to Baker Street Tube.

Perhaps the saddest thing about the story is the Eastern Daily Press worrying about the disappointed fans - some of whom were coming from "as far away as Essex."

GOD HATES POD: You strut your guts out in a bid to be devout, and where does it get you? Not only have POD been eclipsed as the most popular Christian band by Evanesence, but it turns out Christian stores are refusing enmasse to stock their stuff. Not because of the music (or so it's claimed), the main stumbling point is the cover art. Apparently, it's occult. Honestly. This from a business founded on the back of a chap being hammered to a big wooden cross.

BUT YOU STILL CATCH MY EYE: Fonda, of whom we couldn't be - aha ha ha - fonder - have got into the holiday mood by offering a download of their take on Last Christmas from their website. Merry whatname.

IT'S A MYSTERY: Toyah's image was already pretty tarnished by her Nimbyish Daily Mail style campaign against having refugees near her house, and now she's gone and made it worse. Last night's Little Friends on Channel 4 (which is basically Chris Morris style interviews done by children) saw the former Punkette chatting away to a kid believing she was there as a participant for a programme about Christianity. The child asks her something along the lines of "Since heaven is so great, if you're having a bad day would it be a good idea to kill yourself?" and Toyah, without missing a beat or dropping the slightly patronising, sing-song voice she'd been talking down to the interviewer with all the way through, simpers "Oh, no, because if you commit suicide you go to hell anyway." Cheers, Toyah.
Toyah is appearing in Snow White at the Canterbury Marlow Theatre.

CASH TO PEER TO PEER: The Distributed Computing Industry Association (which is, basically, Kazaa and a couple of smaller peer to peer operators) have come up with a nifty idea - why don't they collect a flat fee off file sharers and use it to compensate record labels for uncleared file sharing? You can see why they'd want to - imagine the turnover, never mind it allowing a truce with the RIAA - but the imposition of what amounts to a TV Licence style cover charge (which works for broadcasting within a defined state boundary, but would be a nightmare to adminstrate with an international medium) starts to make their previous arguments - about how lots of the file sharing on their networks is of stuff that people have a right to, and how they can't be responsible for what's being swapped within their network - look like fibs at the very least, as they now seem to be going "We'd take a payment from everyone and we'd be able to make sure the money went to the artists whose tracks are being swapped, even though this time last year we were saying 'well, how can we know what's being swapped?'"

Meanwhile, The Recording Industry Association of America said peer-to-peer networks must prevent users from trading copyrighted works and stop making pornography available to minors if they want to be taken seriously, echoing a letter sent by several U.S. senators last month. "Until the larger industry accepts the recommendations recently outlined by six respected U.S. senators, there will continue to be questions about how seriously they want to become legitimate," RIAA spokeswoman Amy Weiss said.

Erm... this would be the trade association representing labels who in the UK have signed up for the Playlouder ISP which would be using those file-sharing networks, would it? Why is it they're riddled with child porn and illegitimate if they're being used in the US, but fine and dandy in the UK?

Sunday, December 07, 2003

BEWARE THE CROWDS: As a New South Wales mall cancels an appearance by Australian Pop Idol winner Guy Sebastian (which just sounds like a name Velvet Goldmine would have used if it had been based on a book by E M Forster), he plans to fly to England for the frightening World Idol finals and - according to his spokesperson - "to open British bank accounts, which is difficult at the best of times." Eh? Difficult at the best of times? Maybe if you have trouble answering questions like "name" and "address", and perhaps having your postcode in a different format might make it trickier, but it's hardly like trying to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain. And we're curious as to why he's trying to open up accounts in the plural - is he expecting to be earning a lot of money here soon? If so, we hope he's got a job lined up at a London pub, as we can't see his wafer slim talent turning into a massive payday for him.

He says that he's excited by his role in World Idol, as it'll give him the chance to show the world that Australians aren't all crocodile wrestling ockers. Guy, sweetness, we've met Jason Donovan and Rolf Harris. We know that to be the case.

FRANKLY, I'M NOT HP: What's more rammed than the Woolworths video department at Christmas (as well-meaning grandparents try to understand the difference between between the DVD, DVD special edition, VHS and soundtrack CD formats?) Why, the download market, of course, and now comes news that HP are planning to launch a music download service. They're keeping tight-lipped about what it's actually going to involve, because - they say - they're tweaking the design to set it apart from the rest of the market. Hmm. Okay, then.

And, just a quickie - we hate to be fair to the music industry, but it's not really true to say (as David Teather does in this article) that " the music industry itself has focused on closing down the internet as a means of distribution" - not for the last nine months or so, at the very least. Admittedly, they still want to crush anyone not giving them large chunks of cash to them, and it took them five or six years to accept that downloading would continue regardless of what they wanted, but the labels have, at long last, come to terms with the internet being some sort of distributive means.

THE SIMPLE LIFE: Reading the reviews of Democrazy, we're struck suddenly by the similarity between Damon Albarn and Paris Hilton. Reports from those who've sat through the demo-noodling album state that at the end, Damon does a little piece along the lines of "that's Democrazy for you, all over, goodnight folks." Which - just as the final scenes of at least one of the Paris Hilton sex video clips does with its "smile for the camera," makes the claims that Paris had no idea these things were being taped seem a little hard to swallow - implies that rather than being some rough sketches that Damon decided to make available, Democrazy was, in fact, conceived as a project for release all along. With that name. And if that's the case, then it makes the whole scheme something different to that which we were lead to believe - because if the plan was to record a lo-fi album to be put on sale under a truly dreadful punning moniker, then rather than showing us the genesis of a musical project (which is what Damon loftily claimed), what we've got is the culmination of a plot to convert the lowliest of base metals - a half-drunk late night spot of musical masturbation - into limited edition gold. And, in turn, the spinnage that we're not getting a proper album but this daylight-onto-magic exploration of the process must have come with the sober realisation that even as a lo-fi album, it doesn't meet the expected quality standards.

NEWS FROM THE STORES: We're a little bit puzzled by this offering from Marks & Spencer:

No licence fee required

It's clearly a tshirt aimed at the young girlies market with a singer and labelled "Dynamite Girl." Now, it could just be a coincidence, but if it isn't - surely it's not Marks & Sparks trying to hook itself up to last year's Ms Dynamite upward spiral, is it? No, it must just be a total and utter coincidence. Because certainly this:

Nick Loud Clothes

... isn't an attempt to drag the 80's Smiths-worshipping artschool band into the bedwear department.

Meanwhile: Could this have been where those Quality Street green triangles realised that sweets can go solo?:

buy buy buy

HOW THE MUSIC INDUSTRY WORKS: There's an interesting piece from Associated Press about the implications of that 50 per cent share of Murder Inc owned by Vivendi through Island Def Jam. Funnily enough, Island Def Jam's Lyor Cohen seems really reluctant to chat about it. Even more strangely, during the trial where the connections became public knowledge, Cohen claimed he "couldn't remember" if he sat with Irv Gotti on the board of Murder Inc. Despite this apparently awful failing memory, and the trial judge described Cohen as "morally reprehensible," and the expectation of a money-laundering case washing up against Murder (now "The") Inc's front door, Doug Morris, Universal's head of music says that the verdict "should in no way detract from the incredible accomplishments of Lyor at Island Def Jam." It seems a curious way for a public company to be doing business. Even more curious that Universal, as a member of both the RIAA and BPI, are happy to endorse their industries campaigns against music pirates on the grounds that those fake CD sales are little more than fronts for money laundering, while apparently being in business with a label being investigated for the exact same crime in the US. Of course, no case has yet to be brought, but we hope the confidence Universal has in the link with the Inc isn't about to leave it exposed to charges of, you know, that hypocrisy stuff.

WOULD A 'BEEN BETTER IF SHE'D STUCK ON THE PILL' OBSERVATION BE TOO STRONG?: We know that nobody would be interested in the incident if it hadn't been Loretta Lynn's son who got pissed and killed his friend by driving drunk - except those directly involved - but since it's coming up to the time of year when people seem to swap rational judgement for pissed-up luck, it's probably salutary to reflect on the case before heading out for the office party.