Saturday, February 07, 2004

THAT'S GOT TO HURT: We're lead to believe this story is failed stunt leads to cancellation of Letterman show; we think it's 'woman splits open own head to save nation from another performance by Fountains of Wayne'.

THEY'LL SAY IT'S THE LAWSUITS...: Things are looking up for the music business - Nielsen is reporting a ten percent rise in sales compared with this time last year. Probably American consumers afraid that the RIAA is planning to sue anyone who hasn't bought a CD in the last six months.

BETTER SELLING SONGS THAN ACTUAL HOUSE PAINTING: There's a nice interview with Mark Kozelek in The Tallahassee Democrat; when he says he never intended the Red House Painters to be a cult band, you can hear the regret in his voice. "I want to have good health benefits like everyone else."

MR STING WILL SAVE US ALL: At last, dammit, someone's recognised that Sting is bloody great. After years - decades - of his tireless and quiet work to save humanity, the planet and about thirteen dozen speices, someone's finally given him a small thank you. That was all he was looking for, you know. A little bit of the love, love, love he shares on a daily basis given back to him. Musicares have made Sting their person of the year, probably because they don't have Nobel Prizes in their gift. He was nominated for the selfless work he's done in recent years to promote environmental issues through his strong support of Jaguar S-Type cars, with its environmentally sensitive ability to squeeze 22 miles out of every gallon of fuel.

THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN: After a six-year gap, the Beastie Boys are readying a follow-up to Hello Nasty. Whats it going to be like? We don't know, let's ask Mike D:

"This record is all hip-hop. We've been working for a little while in a secret location. But there's light at the end of the tunnel and we're mixing now so it's almost complete. The record that we're making is like a hip-hop record, but that doesn't mean we're only checking for hip-hop right now. Everything we like, that's cool, is going to enter the arena. We actually have a British song on our album, you're gonna have to wait and see - just leave it at that. We'll unleash it on you, but it's a very British-centric - whatever you'd call it - type of song."

So, what's it going to be like? We still don't know.

THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID AN 'INCIDENT': They're taking preventative action at the NBA to avoid a repeat of what happened at the Superbowl - they'll only allow a man and a woman to appear together if they're related, and one of them is dead. Because otherwise what on earth would have possessed someone, anyone, to come up with the mawkish idea of getting Nona Gaye to sing the national anthem over a tape of her dead father doing the same thing. We're not sure that we'd choose the Gayes to stand up for traditional family values, mind: "I remember feeling very special when my grandfather gave me his delicious butter candy, although it didn't really make up for him shooting my dad."

MORE BREAST BEATING: Janet can go to the Grammys after all - but both she and Justin have to apologise. A-fucking-gain. An apology on live TV or their careers might be permanently derailed? Joe McCarthy, you should be alive at this hour. Meanwhile, as the fire of outrage consumes the dry kindling of probity, and the firemen of sense struggle with the hospipe of perspective, there's more: an Orange County, California school cancelled plans to allow MTV to film a docusoap on campus because of the Janet Breast exposure (why?); a Tennessee woman is suing Jackson, Timberlake, MTV, CBS and Viacom for billions. Terri Carlin issued her demands claiming she'd been injured, outraged, and embarrassed by the breach of an implied contract. Don't they put people in prison for bringing vexatious litigation any more? I mean, where did she get this idea? Since she lives in Tennessee it's unlikely she'd have been inspired by the gold-digging Cilla off Corrie, is it? If someone feels a bit angry and ashamed and outraged by her action, perhaps they'd like to counterclaim? And if people are so shocked and outraged, how come so many Americans have been playing it back over and over on TiVo?. Need to keep refreshing their outrage levels?

[Health warning: Some of the links above will take you to Fox News' website; this should not be taken as an endorsement of Fox News' standards of impartial reporting.]

Friday, February 06, 2004

I WANT TO SEE YOU BOXING, NAKED, TO THE DEATH: We're not quite sure what singing boxing actually is, but it's what Yeke Yeke does. Apparently, Yeke has copyrighted singing-boxing, presumably for fear that Mike Tyson may start to trill Singing In The Rain when he gets near a ring again. And she's a fashion designer too. We feel as if we've been receiving several blows to the side of the head.

DROP AND GIVE ME TOP TWENTY: Maybe the perfect project for Peter Andre would be one which combines his newfound love of roughing it with his old, badly brutalised love of music. Maybe he should join Henry Rollin's music boot camp.

IT'S ALL A BIT OF FUN UNTIL SOMEONE STARTS RE-RELEASING BACK CATALOGUE: See? See what happens? Peter Andre's going to re-release Mysterious Girl because of that stupid Jungly show. And he says he'd be really happy to talk to record labels. I'll bet he would. Apparently he's got 100 tracks just waiting for someone to give him the green light. And every single one will be as great as Linda Barker's adverts.

TITS ARE A FEMINIST ISSUE: The Jackson story just won't go away - the Janet one, we mean. It might have been a flash in a bowl, but it's not proving to be a flash in a pan. The latest twist is a demand from womenet for equal treatment - they ask (not entirely unfairly) why Janet is barred from the Grammys next week if Justin's still welcome? Their conclusion is that CBS are being "sexist and possibly racist[pdf]" (although equally, Janet did say 'it was all my fault', so maybe they're just taking her at her word.) Anyway, they want people to sign their petition or something.

EAT BOOBIE: Yes, while Western civilisation collapses around your ears, you can now eat Janet Jackson's breast. The rock cupcake has become, erm, a cupcake.

CRY NOT FOR TOWER; SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL STORE: An outpouring of love to the small indie record shop seems even more timely today. [Found on rocktober.] In fact, this piece has put us in such a good mood, we're thinking of producing a tribute to great local record shops past and present. If you'd like to contribute, just drop us a few lines about the store or stores that live in your heart.

BEYONCE TO BECOME MRS. Z?: Jay-Z has announced his intention to wed Beyonce, although it's perhaps worth noting the circumstances in which he made this announcement: at a party. And his actual words were directed to Lyor Cohen, the music exec. He said:

"Hmm. You're my besssh friend you are... you are lovely... so's Beyonce... marry me, Beyonnnney... where's my pint gone?"
("You've been one of the best friends I could have had ... Apart from this woman beside me (Beyonce), who I love and who I will marry very soon." )

We're not going to be buying a toaster for them just yet.

FAITH IN REHAB: Faith Evans and husband Todd Russaw have taken the rehab route out of drug trouble, agreeing to spend 13 weeks watching that film with the frying egg ("... your brain on DRUCKS") and role playing what they'd do if someone offers them atoke ("no, Ms Evans, you do not ask 'got anything harder?'") rather than becoming the playthings of some big convicts. It's not clear what's going to happen about the expired number plate they had on their car - the reason they got stopped by the cops in the first place. Perhaps they'll add that in to rehab work somewhere along the line - "step six: make sure your licence, insurance and paperwork is in order..."

THERE'S A WHOLE LALO SCHIFRIN GOING ON: In this case, Lalo's provided a musical score for a Tom Clancy video game. It's presumably only going to be a matter of time - probably measurable in months - before the Grammys introduce an award for 'Best music on a video, console or arcade game soundtrack', isn't it? We look forward to fans of Schrifin desperately trying to get to level three so they can hear the brass section.

PIXIES IN LONDON: June 2nd and 3rd in Brixton; tickets on sale from tomorrow. Is it just us or is it somehow wrong that the biggest thing in music right now is a reunion tour?

FM RADIO - ARE THEY STILL MAKING THAT?: There are plans afoot to cram some extra FM radio stations onto the airwaves, with proposed new services for a number of cities and regions. These are the first new licences to be mooted since Ofcom took over regulation of pretty much everything, so it's not clear quite what they'll be looking for from potential bidders. In the past, the Radio Authority used to play a game where it awarded the licence to the radio company most likely to offer something new on the radio, and then allow whoever purchased the licence three days later to do more or less what they like with it (i.e. in Liverpool, Crash FM won the licence with the promise of offering alternative music and dance; it quickly became Juice offering yer same bog standard Top 40 as Radio City, the city's commercial radio gorilla.) So, it might be a good thing. On the other hand, it could just wind up allowing Capital Radio to pump Capital Gold out all over the country.

Places which can expect a flurry of activity in the new two to three years or so are, in city areas:
Cardiff or Newport
Dundee and/or Perth
Exeter and/or Torbay
Humberside (subject to an existing service changing frequency)
Newcastle and/or Sunderland
South Hampshire

and in non-city areas:
Chorley (subject to decisions about Manchester licence(s))
Devizes and/or Andover
Thames Estuary (two frequencies)

Plus, there's going to be new regional services for the South West, North East, Wales and South Hampshire and Bournemouth. Amusingly, Gregory Watson from the GWR radio group says he's not that certain about the South West station because "Devon and Cornwall are such different beasts" - as if his radio company hasn't had a policy of stretching one groaning formula to fit everywhere it spreads to. After all, North Wales and Cambridge are pretty different beasts, but it doesn't stop a large chunk of their programming being almost indistinguishable.

SHOW ME THE BUNNY: Why has Beck cancelled the bunny giveaway competition? Probably a lot of do-gooding, well-meaning, meddling interfering sticky beaks, but whatever the reason, the rabbit is now going to go to a "certified rescue organization." And we'll just have to have bread and cheese for tea tonight.

RADIOHEADING EAST: Quick, scan Ebay, radioheadies - thom and the boys are releasing a Japan-only highly desirable EP thing to coincide with their tour there. Tracklisting is:

01 2+2=5
02 Myxomatosis [Christian Vogel mix]
03 Paperbag Writer
04 Scatterbrain [Four Tet remix]
05 I Will [L.A. version]
06 I Am Citizen Insane
07 Fog (Again)
08 Where Bluebirds Fly
09 I Am A Wicked Child
10 Gagging Order

We tried for ages to come up with a lost in translation joke, but we got nothing.

WE WILL RZZZZ: UCI cinemas carried out a poll to decide the greatest rock anthem of all time, and Queen won. Although surprisingly, it was We Will Rock You rather than BoRap which took the honours, pipping, erm, BoRap. Apparently the poll was designed to promote School of Rock, which makes it even more unforgivable.

NOW EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS: As the fire of the exposed boob burns ever stronger, Janet Jackson's been kicked off the Grammy presentation team. She's been replaced by Patti Labelle, who we presume will have to undergo rigorous undergarment safety testing before she can be allowed anywhere near the living rooms of America. Are the Grammy organisers really so stupid they think that Janet might flash her cunt this time around? The phrase is "craven cowardice", I believe.

THEY THINK THEY'RE THE POLICE, DON'T THEY?: A couple of companies related to Kazaa have been raided in Australia. Not by police, but by a company owned by the major record labels, Music Industry Piracy Investigations. MIPI was seeking evidence for a legal battle against Sharman, Kazaa's parent company, in Australia. Is this quirk of Australian law, that record companies can act like they're law enforcement organisations, just limited to the music industry? Or can we form a company, call it, say 'Secret Private Investigations' and go around raiding people? How long before the companies decide they have the right to shoot people they suspect might be about to google for MP3 +download +free?

LAST NIGHT A DJ SAVED MY LIFE: In a past life, No Rock and Roll Fun once spent a couple of months persuading people from various religious backgrounds to appear on Pete Price's phone-in show - and if you've never had to try and persuade a nun to stay up until ten o'clock, you've not lived. Anyway, nice to see Pete has helped save a boy's life through his phone-in.

I MUST INSIST THE HONOURABLE GENTLEMAN WITHDRAWS THE FUNK FROM MY FACE: Introducing MP4, a cross-party band of 'musical' MPs. One of them - Pete Wishart - used to be Runrig, a band so fanatically Scottish National they would mark any copies of their records which sold in England (not that many) as "imports." It's not clear yet if there's A West Lothian Question of Pop.

LUKEWARM SUPPORT: Not much in the way of support from Alicia Keys, Beyonce Knowles and Missy Elliott when asked about Janet Jackson. "I'm firmly behind her" insisted Missy - presumably the safest place to be standing if you don't want a breast in your face. But its disappointing that all three chose to be as non-committal as they were - if Beyonce 'dancing on Grant's grave' won't try and turn the tide of overblown tuttery, who will?

HEIMLICH MANOUVERE FOR MR. SHARMAN: We love the idea floated by the Distributed Computing Association that it'd make more sense to pay filesharers for using legitimate formats instead of suing them. But we know that the RIAA is about as likely to accept this novel idea as they would be to introduce an incentive scheme for blokes selling mix tapes from suitcases.

TOWER COMES CRASHING DOWN: They'd already pulled out of the UK, and now Tower Records is apparently about to file for bankruptcy in the States. Of course, the blame for the decline of chain record stores will be thrown at the digital downloaders, but the reality is they're competing with Borders, Best Buy, WalMart - hell, even Starbucks flogs CDs - for the impulse buys, and can't compete with Amazon for the determined shopper. We reckon there'll always be a niche for yer Championship Records; but the concept of a stand-alone mass market music store? It's had its day.

SOMETHING BEYOND MYCOKEMUSIC: Calabash Music are offering mp3s for 99 cents - so far, so usual. But their catalogue covers everything from Brazilian beats to the sounds of the Pacific rim. Their split with the artist is apparently a lot fairer than some music sites, too.

THE BOY LOOKED AT JOHNNY. AND SHOOK HIS HEAD, SADLY: Lydon explains his quitting I'm A Publicity Seeker as being because "I don't want to turn into Des O'Connor."

John, sweetness: you don't have a chance of ever being half as cool as Des.

He then burbles on for a while about how he didn't come to the jungle to win (he actually seems to think winning means something tangible, like winning Wimbledon) and then claims he plays "a bigger - or smaller" game. As if the manner you leave Celeb means anything. Once you accept the part, you are Linda Barker. Forever.

MAKING THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME: Judge Jeffrey Swartz has handed down justice to a bloke who drove around with 50 cent pumping on his car system. He's been sentenced to spend two hours listening to La Traviata. Splendidly, his surname is Carreras.

IF DIDO DOESN'T PLAY A SONG, WOULD ANYONE NOTICE THE DIFFERENCE TO IF SHE DID?: We're a little bit puzzled by Dido pulling out the Brits - and, more significantly, the Grammys and clearing her diary for four weeks to "concentrate on writing and rehearsing for her forthcoming tour." Really? Taking a night off the writing to go and pick up a few tens of thousands of extra sales ("a major award") would scupper the third album, would it? I know, I know, I'm a bad person, but I can't help smelling a giant rat.

MTV SCREWS THE INDIES: BSk B cut the cash it paid to MTV for its channels; now MTV is trying to spread the pain on to the European indie sector, trying to cut the Video Performance Limited negotiating group out of negotiations to set a new rate with labels for the videos they play.

MTV is keen to try and deal direct with the labels themselves because VPL has rejected their offer for the next five years - GBP840,000 a year to be shared amongst thousand of labels. At the moment, MTV is paying GBP1.9million. At the same time, the company has launched a slew of new channels and are, in effect, offering much less cash for a lot more 'content'.

An example of the impact on smaller labels? Telstar was getting a thousand a year for all the stuff they provided for the networks - we work that out to be less than tenpence for each showing of Craig David; now they'd be looking at something like three hundred quid.

But it's hard to see how MTV can afford to piss off the indies - while MTV proper hardly shows anything worth watching at all these days, and virtually no music, and MTV Hits could probably survive on a deal with majors alone, if you cut out the indie sector some of the channels are going to look rather pisspoor - MTV2, MTV Dance and VH2 need the credibile artists - a VPL blackout would take the prodigy and the white stripes off of MTV channels. And in the cut-throat music TV market in the UK, that's something that MTV surely wouldn't risk.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

SWEARAGE: The difference between Britain and America:

John Lydon says "cunt" live on ITV - only 80 out of an audience over ten million complain.

Bono lets fly with an unscripted fuck during the Golden Globes* - the FCC clears him, but a year later Michael Powell decides to reverse the judgment and mutters about fines.

Now, we don't stick up for Bono very much round here, but even so... let it go, guys.

[*Health warning: the link on this story goes to a site - where people who really don't know what they're talking about try to commentate on media matters - like the aptly named Helle Dale who suggests that the BBC v the Blair government "shows why the world has moved beyond state monopolies" - despite the fact that the BBC would be a monopoly in no sense at all, what with ITV and Capital and Sky One and Bid Up and... ygtp; and, more importantly, why would a state monopoly be "fighting" the government?; she then goes on to describe Gilligan's interview with Dr Kelly as "over drinks" - yes, it was a fruit juice and a coke, as the expenses claim proved]

"I AM THE ONLY LESBIAN IN THE ROCK VILLAGE": Could someone please give Christina 'i do it with ladies, honest' Aguilera some attention before she feels the need to set fire to herself to get us to look at her? Thank you.

And we'd actually love to see a real lesbian and/or bisexual woman hit on Christina. Extra marks for being able to describe the look of fear on her face.

OH... WE MISREAD: They say Janet Jackson may back out of the Grammys, not get her back out.

MY 4AD 3D CD: Blonde redhead sign to home of ethereal whimsy 4AD and ready a new album of March.

IDOL CHECKS: Fox TV are doing their best to ensure that nobody interesting in any way sneaks by accident onto American Idol by running background checks into virtually everyone who wants to take part. They're afraid of strippers and ex-cons appearing on their show, but we're not sure why it matters so much if someone's done their sentence; what's a lot scarier is the implicit threat that if you don't live up to Fox's idea of a perfect citizen, you don't deserve to be in the charts - coupled with the thought of Murdoch's lackeys snooping in people's private business before they can take part in a bloody karaoke contest.

YEAH... THANKS, YOKO: It cannot be stressed enough that Yoko Ono is an incredibly, incredibly bad artist who, were it not for the packages of cash that flop through her letterbox from her late husband's estate, would be doing something a lot more useful with her time like asking "paper or plastic?" or maybe delivering mail. So it's frustrating that Jonny Greenwood and Graham Coxon turn up for a Yoko launch show - if you need free wine and nibbles so badly, lads, you could come to ours and we'd have opened a tub of that Tescos Vintage Cheddar Dip for you.

Yoko's new exhibition is about, you know, stuff:

"Right now we are so steeped in the psychodrama we have created, we can no longer see our reality, except through the influences of various propaganda. I have decided to be a cockroach for a day, and see what is happening in this city (New York) through its eyes. Since we can easily say that New York City is the cultural centre of our society, I have taken various pictures of the city’s comers and presented them from a cockroaches point of view. Through the eyes of this other strong race, we may learn the reality of what our dreams and nightmares have created."

Erm... right. Is this about the 70s myth that cockroaches would survive a nuclear blast and rule the planet, then? And what exactly do you mean that we can't see reality except through propaganda? Isn't that a bit like saying we can't see the sky except through the ceiling (a self-contradicting statement, Yoko). And when you say you were being a cockroach, were you, or did you merely squat down on the floor to take a few snaps? And we can "easily" say that New York is the cultural centre of our society, can we? How, exactly? Isn't New York kinda open-minded, 24 hour, liberal-leaning, queer-embracing and multiracial - do you really think that is even representative of the general Western Culture? (Clue: look at reaction to the Janet Jackson boob thing). Really, Yoko, what you should have said is this:

Not being a very good photographer, I've decided to take some pictures from wacky angles - like on Ask The Family - and happily am able to afford to hire a gallery to display them in. So you don't think you're wasting your time looking at some rubbish photos, I'm going to try and pretend that a close-up of a shoe will tell you everything you need to know about Iraq. If you tell me it's rubbish, I'll see you never get to play Revolver again. I can, you know.

UNDER ATTACK/ FROM FLEETWOOD MAC: As if things weren't bad enough for the BBC, hat-wearing Worst Brits Host Ever Mick Fleetwood is now suing the corporation for 'millions of dollars' because somehow he claims he should be making money out of old Beatles records.

AOL SHOW LITTLE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR: More Jackson fallout, I'm afraid: AOL is now demanding some, all, or more of its sponsorship for the halftime show back, and has dropped plans to put the whole thing online (probably because everyone's seen what everyone wants to see already.)

... AND HE'S RUINED IT FOR HIS FRIENDS: As "my god, all the women have bboobies" fear and panic grips America, Justin's antics have cost JC Chasez a gig at the ProBowl - and JC really needs the work, dammit. But the NFL has spoken - and it's moving the planned pregame show to halftime just in case there's something about being a former member of NSync that leads to the desire to waggle women's bits in front of a crowd. So instead of a risky pop star, the NFL will instead offer, um, 100 hula girls. No chance of unexpected nakedness there, then.

OUR DAD HE DON'T WANT TO KNOW/HE SAYS/THIS IS A SERIOUS MATTER: Now, Justin Timberlake is having to live with the shame of letting his family down, too.

BPI TAKE ACTION WE CAN SUPPORT SHOCK: The British Music Industry has stepped in to close down a racist website which misused Dido lyrics. The site was seeing 'White Flag' and 'This Land Is Mine' to support its predictable stinking world view; although we think it was probably the illegal MP3 downloads of the songs which swung the BPI into action.

It's absolutely incredible that anyone could read any sort of racist meaning into a Dido song. Actually, her stuff is so bland, it's incredible anyone could read any meaning into her songs at all.

GOING OUT ON A LIMB: HMV take a real risk in their 'My-News Rock/Indie' mail out this month:

Our tip for the top is Franz Ferdinand.

Top as in having a Top Three single, would that be?

IT'S ON, KIM'S IN: The Pixies tour is going to happen with the proper Pixies and all. We don't know if it's wise, we don't know if it's the best thing they could do: we do know it's going to be soap opera with shouting. [Thanks to Eric C]

CONTROL: We'd already put pop papers to bed before we saw Alexis Petridis' piece on the op-ed page of the Guardian yesterday warning us that Peter Gabriel's plan to give artistic control back to the artist would result in the music industry being reduced to a grey goo; Big Bubbles has beaten us to the punch by dismissing this for the rubbish it is. The odd thing is that Alexis has got a whole team of editors above him, and still manages to produce what is a frankly puzzlingly ridiculous piece: suggesting that it's better to give everybody stabilisers rather than risk a few Black Albums* from the few. Does he still wish Mozart had been forced to take out some of those notes?

* - we mean the Prince one

CASUALTY: In the same way that since Hutton Lord Ryder had had the BBC apologising and cutting all over the place, America is now feeling the chill wind that blew from Janet Jackson's breast: ER has cut a two second glmpse of an old lady's breast because of the climate.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

BLACK EYED PEAS SHUCK OFF REPUTATION: We don't know what makes us sob and wail for our mothers and the days of innocence the most. That someone has bothered to make a prequel to Dirty Dancing after all this time. That the Black Eyed Peas are bringing their weight to bear by providing the theme tune. Or that, aside from Elvis, the original Dirty Dancing soundtrack is the biggest selling record on RCA ever.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: What Mr Sting Did On His Holidays edition
Last year, Holly vallance made a failed bid to save herself from having to pay cash to her former manager, henry-from-Neighbours, on the grounds that he more or less forced her into doing FHM photo shoots which really weren't her thing. It turns out FHM is too classy for her, because this week she pitched up in Nuts with a bikini top and a hint of upper thigh. Meanwhile, Zoo launched with Nell McAndrew, who is kind of the Jordan you can take home to meet your mother but is so overexposed it's showing there's a desperate shortage of women prepared to do these shoots anymore. Thank god Atomic Kitten have gone solo, tripling the likely cover stars for the new slew of half-stiffy mags. Apparently Bauer are readying a launch, too, which might call for Girls Aloud to split to guarantee the supply.

We happened upon the Daily Mail in a punk mood - the very voice of little middle England seemed charmed by John Lydon's performance on I'm A Celebrity. Now, while it's easy to see how he might appear to be the sharpest platypus beak in his current surroundings, it's stretching the truth to call him (as the Mail would have us believe) a sharp wit. To take a random example from his quoted gems in the paper: He now likes the Royals because "it's literally TV's Dallas." Oh yeah? Leaving aside the misuse of "literally" and the hackneyed "the royal family are a soap opera" sentiment (what next? politicans are liars? footballers are overpaid? policemen are looking younger?) it doesn't even make sense: in what way is the British monarchy resembling Dallas? Dallas had two central plotlines: the feud between two families, and the struggle for the crown inside the family. Is Lydon suggesting that Charles and Andrew are fighting for the succession? Or that, I dunno, the Windsors are fighting off challenges from the Fiennes for the deeds to Windsor castle? A better comparison might be nineteenth century Russian literature and the cult of Oblomovism, the life of superfluous men who have talents but no role.

Elsewhere in the same issue, the Mail has fallen for the 'Sid didn't kill Nancy - Rockets Redgrave did' guff. Alan Parker's book tour has reached Northcliffe House, and for some reason the Mail is keen to clear Sid's name, even although the case is ridiculous: It turns out the details about Sid being killed by heroin Redgrave provided through a third party came from Sid's Mum. Mrs. Vicious is dead, too, of course - like everyone in the whole sorry saga - and she had good reason to finger Redgrave, because it was her decision to tuck Sid up in and bed and let him sleep off his headfull of smack, instead of getting him some help, that lead to Sid being a not very pretty corpse in the morning. And there doesn't seem to be any sensible reason for why Redgrave would be in a room with Spungen and Vicious and heroin, murder Nancy but instead of finishing Sid off in a suicide-y looky way there and then, he'd go to the much more risky trouble of trying to sort him out with an overdose a few weeks later.

The Daily Telegraph Saturday Magazine announces "The Vines had to cancel all their upcoming tour dates because of Craig Nicholls fear of flying" - someone had better warn the band as they plug round the United States.

The magazine also meets Jamie cullum, a man desperate for us to not think he's a middle class knob. He's street - apparently his mother and brother got "racist abuse" shouted at them in wales ("they're the same colour as I am" he says, genuinely puzzled as only a man who's never heard of Sons of Glendower can be) and cullum stresses that his Dad only "recently" became a millionaire - "we had holidays in Devon, not Barbados" he enters as his plea of poverty, which kids who were lucky to have a day at Blackpool Beach might not think sounds that bad. The really annoying thing, though, is that for all his crassness in trying to shake off his silver-plated spoon, he does come across as a likeable enough chap. In fact, we had to watch that advert for his Christmas release six times in a row before we could bring ourselves to stick pins in our little cullum doll.

Over in the Guardian, Thom Yorke was penning a defence of the BBC in the afterburn of the Hutton Report and Lord Ryder's craven apology to Blair. Of course, Thom's not entirely independent - he edited Today over Christmas, remember, so we doubt if he'd win Fox News Channel's stars and stripes lapel pin badge of impariality.

In The Independent, Chrissie Hynde is asked to pick the most promising female solo artists - she chooses Beth Orton, Pink and, um, Ms Dynamite, but admits being 52 she isn't that up on the pop scene any more.

It's Music Monthly week in the Observer, marking 40 years since the Beatles landed in the States - the last time anyone in America beyond immigration took any notice of a bunch of Limey long-hairs pitching up in their airports, of course. "It didn't matter we were big in America" recalls Ringo, "We were big in Liverpool, and that was OK by my family." Oddly, the 'being big in the L postcode area is more than enough' attitude is one you still find in Liverpool to this day, and partly explains why no scouse act has been met at a new York airport by screaming girls since.

Mark Kermode chooses eleven best rock comedies (11 - because of Spinal Tap, see?) including Waynes World 2, head and All You Need Is Cash.

Peter Robinson, the hardest-working man in writing-about-show business - reminds us that Radiohead had promised to enter a song for Eurovision this year, but suspects they won't.

The secret life of Shania Twain is quiet on the actual number of legs, but does mention she used to eat mustard sandwiches.

The Record Doctor has an unusual patient in Ian Rankin - normally the doctor is called upon to minister to a patient with rampaging Didoitis or terminal Coldplaysores. Rankin, of course, loves Mogwai, so out the big black bag comes Air and Explosions In The Sky. And he manages to get him to say nice things about Albarn's world music holiday twoodling.

Talking of music discoveries, when Amy Winehouse was 11 she discovered TLC and formed a rap duo called Sweet and Sour. "I was sour, of course." She gently slags her svengali Simon Fuller and claims "I don't think he cares if he gets a return on me." Hmmm. Fuller isn't the sort of man to worry about credibility, so it's unlikely he's running Winehouse for the same reason that Richard Desmond would love to get hold of the Telegraph. We're guessing he sees Winehouse as a long-term investment, and expects her to turn in modest returns over a long period, long after the more lucrative S Club 8 have grown breasts and bollocks and broken up. In the reviews section, the very similar Joss Stone is marked down as "an artist in it for the long haul."

Sting files a report from Katmandu, which actually is a pretty interesting read; but you can't shake off the gnawing feeling that it's like when the class had to read out 'what I did on my holidays' and the rich kid always had a tale about going to Yugoslavia when everyone else had been to Devon - it leaves you frothing "Oh, you had to take your son to bloody Katmandu, didn't you? You couldn't just take him to bloody Alton Towers like everyone else..."

Oi... Kitty Empire: Do you really believe the sound of 2004 is going to be Jaga Jazzist, a ten piece Norwegian Jazz Band? Really?

The Obs bundles together Kurt and Sid for a one-off comparison piece by Sean O'Hagan, which makes some punchy points. Cobain's stated desire to return to the "numbness" of childhood and Vicious' disgust with adult world are compared; Cobain is chided for failing himself and the world at large comes in for stick for mythologising the dead icon rather than paying attention to the lost child. But there's also a curious claim that rock deaths post-punk (Curtis, Thunders, Vicious) are more depressing than the pre-punk sort (Jones, Morrisson, Hendrix) - although really the difference is that since the mid-70's, the deaths are a lot less colourful (no more Parisian hotels; it's suicide in a semi). If it's more depressing, it's because the pretty corpse has become such a cliche. Richey Edwards probably appreciated that to avoid seeming dully derivative in death, it's actually better to just fade away than burn out.

And what of those left behind? NME has another naked Courtney shot on the cover. She looks tired. The pose is tired. Everyone's tired. inside, the interview is one-part unbridled invective to three-parts 'shilling to view the inmates of bedlam': "My video is like a whole fucking thing - I wake up in a coffin [didn't Geri Halliwell do this?] and have little girls with machine guns [Bugsy Malone] killing paparazzi [If]." Not only tired, but self-obsessed - who outside of those that take tea with elton john really cares about photographers? An obsession with people who snap for the tabloids shows a lack of a real life; Courtney's equally obsessed with the idea that the New York Times has prepared an obituary for her, as if not everyone of certain age and a certain fame has got one held on the NYT server somewhere. The trouble which lead to the court case was, she claims "a bunch of really bad luck stuck together" and "even the American public doesn't know what this fucking case is about." Oh, and it turns out the cocaine in Britain has no ether in it, which means its not really cocaine at all. And on she goes.

The big picture is a fuzzy Franz ferdinand live shot, although the paper also has what it describes as "a series of horrifying photos" depiciting Ryan Adams after his accident - they're not kidding; he looks like Garth from Waynes World in one of them.

Vernon kay does the CD: the Verve, Billy Joel and DJ jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.

Peter Robinson takes on Edith Bowman who reckons you get paid more for doing a night shift in a cab firm than for doing TOTP. Although you'd spend less time with a bucket cleaning up sick. Unless Girls Aloud are on.

The NME Brain question is: "was Lydon's other band, PiL, any good?" Why ask the NME, you dolts; that's what kazaa's for.

And one for TV Cream, we suspect: there's a letter which mentions Blue Peter. The paper's response mentions defectaing elephants.

Radar act Regina Spektor is a former Strokes Collaborator and, because she couldn't afford records, grew her musical teeth on friend's mix tapes (the old skool MP3 illegal download, of course)

Lostprophets think they scared kids when they were on CD:UK (They really feared they were going to be bored to death, I guess).

Asking the questions that other fear, the NME raises the question 'Is Detroit Dead?', prompting Dan Miller from Blanche to observe "if the fight hadn't been between Jack & Jason, it would have been nothing at all." Erm... yes, that would kind of be the point, wouldn't it? Anyway, the general consensus seems to be that detroit is still great, but these things are cyclical.

In a second piece about downloads, there's a prediction that "CD albums look like they'll eventually be a luxury item" - since the BPI thinks they're worth about thirteen quid, less with the eventuallys, already.

NME reports from the Big day Out, with posters - Justin looks like a Tory MP's eldest son; there's another bloody Kings of Leon pin-up and Jet, who look a little more like oasis every time.

The Icarus Line - london metro - "flying high", 8

franz ferdinand - franz ferdinand - "two deviations from the messy end of sex bookend the album", 9
von bondies - pawn shoppe heart - "musically, the equivalent of being run over by a truck", 8
courtney love - america's sweetheart - "what's missing are the chilling lyrical imprecations she used to do so well", 6

sotw - the rapture - love is all - "like the moment you fall in love, extended over 154 delicious seconds"
kings of leon - california waiting - "background music; jangly and flimsy"

matt davies of funeral for a friend likes Jawbreaker

and finally: Paul Morley on jamie Cullum: "an unsettling blend of Ant, Dec, jack Wild, kermit the Frog's nephew and all the Balls: Michael, Kenny, Bobby and Alan."

MORE SUPERBOWL OUTRAGE: What with Janet Jackson's lactational gland and the Pepsi Stalin showtrial anger, you'd have thought that we'd seen the worst of the superbowl anger, right? No. Bringing up what might be the rear The Veterans of Foreign Wars are pissed off with Kid Rock. Rock took to the stage wearing a poncho made by - oh, cover my burning eyes - cutting a slit in the Stars & Stripes. What's made VFW even more angry is that there's been all this fuss over the stray boobie, but nobody has so much as called up Fox News to splutter indignation over this defiling of the symbol of America. (Lucky Ozzy hadn't been invited; he'd probably have spatchcocked an eagle into the bargain.)

CD WOW 1, BPI 0: CD Wow have found an EU source of records which has allowed them to tell the BPI to fuck off and reduce their prices back to GBP8-99 - and there's nothing the BPI can do about it. In a related fit of spite, the BPI have won a legal ruling stopping CD Wow from telling customers the original price increase was because the BPI had told it to. Now, we know the law does odd things at times - locking Rita up, producing The Hutton Report - but this really does bugger belief - why else had CD Wow been forced to stick its prices up? Because small children might have died otherwise? Because they'd prepared the HTML pages with more expensive prices? CD Wow might be prevented from saying it, but nobody else is, I presume: the BPI forced the company to increase its prices. (Only now they've been able to get them back down again. Hurrah!)

DIDDY KEEPS HIMSELF OUT OF COURT: P Diddy-DiddyDumDah has settled out of court with his former driver. The secret settlement means Puffy and J-Lo will be spared any further awkward public questions about that night with all the guns. So nobody should ever mention again the time that Puff and Lopez were taken into custody following a shooting at a New York nightclub. There's no need to call Jennifer Lopez a gangster's moll at all, understand?

WE HEAR VOICES: It's about ten days since we last had a Guided by Voices album - isn't it time we had another one? Yes, it is, and so GBV have gone back into the studio. Something will emerge towards the end of Spring. If that's too long to wait, Bob Pollard has got a solo something due towards the end of March.

SAXOBIT: Cornelius Bumpus, the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan saxophonist has died. The 58 year old suffered a fatal heart attack on a flight from New York.

In 1977 Bumpus joined Moby Grape before moving on to the Doobie Brothers, a relationship which ended in acrimony when he lost a court battle allowing him to work under the name. Bumpus joined Steely Dan in 1993, playing on the Grammy award winning Two Against Nature. Amongst other artists, Bumpus worked with Etta James, Boz Skaggs and Hugh Masekela.

NOW IT'S AN APOLOGY VIDEO: Janet has now filmed a video apology to go with the written one. We've heard rumours it's her with no knickers, crossing and uncrossing her legs a la Sharon Stone, but that's probably just made up.

"I AM NOT THE ELEPHANT MAN": Bruising Jack White has announced that the White Stripes are going to take a break. He considers that Elephant has been given all the promo work it's going to get (erm... isn't there a somewhat stunty vinyl only single in the offing) and for a little while he and Meg won't be doing that much. We're not sure if he's clearing his diary in case he finds himself not allowed to play out for while or not...

NOW SPIKE IS GRUMPY: Spike Lee moaning about Janet's breast. Spike whinges about how, hey, singers don't just rely on their voices but "nowadays" do stunts as well. Nowadays like when the Beatles played the Apple building roof, or Jerry Lee Lewis set fire to his piano, or... but you get the point.

Spike worries the "whole value system has been upended." Is this Spike Lee in any way related to the director Spike Lee whose earlyvideo release She's Gotta Have It came with a reversable sleeve, allowing stores to choose between selling the movie as a considered film about sexual mores, or as a movie about shagging?

AWAITING EXPLANATIONS: It seems Noel Gallagher could be in trouble again - this time because Oasis have been pictured trespassing on a railway line in The Sun. It seems British Transport Police are thinking that a spot of prosecute the pop-star could be a more effective way of publicising the dangers of railway shortcuts than those drawings done by kids or sending a bloke round schools to drum the phrase "once you go off the ramp, you're tresspassing" into traumatised schoolkids.

EXPLANATIONS: ITV has apologised for John Lydon's sweary outburst on I'm A Celebrity, saying "live television... totally unaviodable..." Really? Funny how the supposedly equally live version of the programme on ITV2 manages to blot out the sound and/or vision whenever the talk in the jungle becomes fraught with legal problems. Are ITV really claiming that the production team on the main programme are less in control than their ITV2 colleagues?

EXPLANATIONS: The News of the World has denied it doctored the Kate Moss/Booby Gillespie picture - "maybe Ms England was in shadows or bending her face down" it suggests, more hopefully than helpfully.

That's not what it looks like to us

,b>KING'S DAUGHTER DUMPS CONSORT: Natalie Cole turns her back on the family 'when I fall in love, it will be forever' slogan and files for divorce from kenneth Dupree, citing "irreconcilable differences."

In other celeb divorce news, ubercreepy David Gest says that if it wasn't for the National Enquirer, he might still be living with Liza Minnelli. Gest contends that everything was holding together until the Enquirer published an article about Minnelli being a bit of a pisshead, whereupon Minnelli upped and headed off somewhere over the rainbow. Since she beat him so bad he's getting something like sixty injections a day into his creepy skull, we reckon the Enquirer did him something of a favour.

AND STILL THEY COME: Hide yourself from Supatonic, "the brothers who sang to Davina on Pop Stars: The Rivals", or another bunch of reality Tv chancers. If Simon Cowell really had any bite, people like this would be quivering in their bedsits trying to gather together some remnants of self-respect instead of ploughing on with their "career" regardless.


If CD prices followed the current inflation period, the average retail price of a CD would be $38.23 instead of about $14.00.

You'll note they don't say where they're starting the "current period" from - when CDs were just introduced, and a luxury item selling to a very small market? Or slightly later on, when - as the record companies themselves accepted - the price was being artifically inflated by the music business cartel? When will the RIAA stop trying to take the credit for the drop in CD prices which have been forced on them by courts and the marketplace?

FEELING DIRTY AND CHEAP: MTV CEO Tom Freston has said that Janet Jackson "violated" the network. Oddly, he claims that Janet Jackson "isn't the sort of person you would think would be doing that." This is the Janet Jackson whose most famous picture is that Rolling Stone cover with her wearing some bloke's hands for a bra, is it?

More sickening than the overstatement on the violation is the desperate bid to try and cram it into some sort of MTV branding - so, apparently, MTV got "punk'd", just like the programme, see? And doubtless the executives swore like the Osbournes.

Still, it's not been bad for everyone - No Rock had had more traffic by Tuesday teatime than we'd usually expect in a week; the rub also saw a mighty surge, and blogcritics saw its visitors swell from ten thousand a day to a quarter of a million on Monday. And Janet's Breast managed to provide TiVo with a press release moment - apparently her half-unfurled tit is the most-replayed moment by TiVo owners in history.

We'd imagine that Alex from Blue is going to be feeling slightly vindicated, too - he was complaining the other day that Beyonce's arse took the light off everyone else; now Janet's breast has taken the shine off Beyonce's national anthem. But what will remove the spotlight from Janet? (Can someone make sure Courtney Love is under sedation?)

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

PLEASE, TAKE HIM BACK Car crashin' James Dean de nos jours Daniel Bedingfield has been nominated for the 'New Zealander of the Year in Britain' award - he's up against Len Cook (a statistician) amd Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas. the provost of Kings College Cambridge. Presumably the New Zealand authorities are very keen for him to continue being a kiwi in Britain and not causing injury and mayhem on the roads back home.

NOWT AS QUEER: Jim E-T adds a further rememberance of the baroque nature of Donovan against the Face:

He sued them for reporting on a poster campaign that said that he was lying about being gay - the Face never said he was, they said "there are a bunch of posters being put up accusing J (and others) of being closeted".

NIPPLE POINT: Aaron S suggests that Janet's breast might be a canny piece of redirection:

Just a thought - perhaps the stunt was designed by MTV to distract attention from the fact that all the performers (bar Justin) had come straight outta 1997. Kid Rock? P Diddy? Janet Jackson? How dated, and indeed, who cares..

SHOW TRIAL OR SHOWING FREE TRIALS?: Interesting split of opinion over the Pepsi/Apple/Superbowl adverts - The Register seems convinced that it's akin to the RIAA parading beaten kids through the street, which seems a bit extreme to us, and misses the whole point of the campaign which reflects badly on the RIAA. Yeah, they're kids. Yeah, suing kids sucks. If the ad was paid for by the RIAA, and had the kids gibbering on like Lord Ryder, reading a wholehearted 'is this what you wanted' apology, yeah, that would be questionable at best. Instead, they're having their 'fines' paid off by Pepsi and Apple, demonstrating that the "heavy file sharers" the RIAA claim are legitimate targets are, more often than not, a bunch of teenagers with about three tracks on their PC, and making stars of the kids to boot. Everyone's a winner. And, yes, there is a whole heap of potential concern about the record industry exploiting children at all - but let's start with Aaron 'fucked up by all sides' Carter, or maybe Musical Youth, shall we?

On the other hand, did you know Microsoft make eight year olds quarry the silicon for microprocessers?

NEVER KNOWINGLY UNDERSOLD: As if the Cobain Journals weren't enough, prepare yourself for Courtney Love's Diaries, coming to a book store near you. Courtney's literary agent [polite cough] David Vigliano, is doing his best to raise interest in the project, and thereby raise the price:

"The book features Courtney's legendary writings that have been whispered and wondered about for years," Vigliano said, "but that no one has ever seen. They're like the literary equivalent of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series."

Except, of course, a Dylan bootleg is interesting in its own right, something fragile and unheard. Since we're expecting Courtney's book (a "mishmash" of diary entries, love letters and probation reports) to be pretty much a lot of screaming and half-assed hurt and hurting nonesense, we're not sure where the new stuff will be here. Vigliano hasn't finished pitching yet, mind:

"This is too big a life to be contained by a standard autobiography," Vigliano said. "Love's life bridges the worlds of punk rock and Hollywood glamour, high fashion and San Francisco hippiedom. No other person's life touches so many cultures or such a broad cast of characters — from Julian Cope and Alex Cox to Milos Forman and Marlon Brando."

We would be kind of interested to see what she wrote the day after she beat up David Gedge, I guess...

JACKSON MAKES A CLEAN BREAST. AGAIN: Janet Jackson has fessed up that the 'whoops, hello breast' incident was - gasp a stunt.

"The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended — including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."

On the other hand, Justin's apology suggests that he wasn't aware that the "it was all a mistake" line was going to be abandoned in the light of the screamingly obvious set-up nature of the event - he's basically been made to look a liar for his "not intentional" plea.

MTV are trying their best to manage the fallout which has already cost them the gig organising superbowl halftimes and may yet find them up to their necks in trouble with the American equivalent of Ofcom, the FCC. "Blame Janet" seems to be the corporate line:

"MTV was as surprised and shocked as anyone last night. Janet Jackson acknowledged that we had no prior knowledge of her plans. We will continue to investigate the circumstances.
Our goal with the Super Bowl Halftime show was to produce an entertaining stage experience with a positive message about empowerment and voting. We are disappointed that this message has been overshadowed by the unfortunate incident.
MTV apologizes again to anyone who was offended.

Although, judging by the message our logs are telling us, more people were delighted by the incident than were offended. Sheesh. You spend hours honing a witty line about the deletion of an early part of The Chesterfields back catalogue, and what gets the traffic? Janet Jackson's breast photo.

HOPE OVERCOME DESPAIR: Hope Of The States are back in the studio, putting some finishing touches to the album they were recording before the apparent suicide of guitarist Jimmi Lawrence.

TRY, TRY AGAIN: Nelly Furtado is putting a lot more work into her new single Try following the rather disappointing flop of her comeback effort, including that last refuge of the desperate, a new version of the big hit on the bside - this time it's an acoustic I'm Like A Bird that's being wheeled out to shore up sales.

The main track Try is, according to Nelly "about the reality of love. My energy used to just go everywhere, but now I’m more grounded because I’ve found true love. The idea is that, yeah, sometimes life sucks. But life is only so long, and somebody can come along who makes you want to be a better person. You just have to roll with the punches." So, no muttering that it's just a bunch of half-thought out new agey cliches at the back.

Let's not call her Smelly FartTurdhole this time, shall we?

PRESS CONFERENCE - 5PM: No, really... later today there's going to be a Pixies press conference, so we'll know for certain exactly what's happening, who's taking part and where, although we're guessing we won't find out how much each Pixie is getting.

HA HA HA... SHE'S FAT... HA HA HA: Louis Walsh has laid into Michelle McManus, the Pop Idol winner saying that her future lays on "big" cruise ships - because she's a bit overweight, see? Geddit?

mmm... svelte

Louis, as you can see, is a gorgeous, svelte figure of a man himself. And maybe Michelle will find the career sinks a bit. If she does find herself singing on cruise ships in the future, she might want to pop in and say hello to some of the acts managed by Walsh, like Six, Bellefire and Samanthat 'whatever happened to' Mumba, who will probably be working in the laundry room.

SNIP SNIP UNDO ME: You have to be fair: Scissor Sisters are incredibly brave - happy to mention both Fischerspooner and having Roger Water's approval in their interviews. It's just a pity they come across a little too marilyn manson style pleased with themselves and their outfits:

"When we rolled in wearing our outfits it was as if fairground music started playing and someone had said 'the circus is in town!'" laughs Matronic. "Liberty X were also performing and one of the girls in that group just could not stop staring at me. I think they were confused by us."

Maybe they were. Or maybe they were staring because they'd been lead to expect something novel and mind-blowing, and were instead offered a group who look like they turned up at the Marie Curie shop the day after Tony Hadley had taken his old Spandau gear down.

PRIMAL ACTION: Kaye Moss has called in lawyers over the News of the World's claims she's moved in like Flynn after Bobby Gillespie and his girlfriend had split. Not only is Gillespie still with Katie England, he's especially pissed off that Murdoch's Sunday paper airbrushed England out of a picture to make it look as if Kate and Bobby were holding hands.

If you're going to click through to the Media Guardian article, we should point out that it contains a (fairly common) error; it claims that Jason Donovan sued the Face because it alleged he was gay. Actually, Donovan sued the Face because it claimed he was lying about being gay - the allegation that someone is a liar being a far more serious slur on reputation. Or so Alistair Campbell tells us.

HER LUNGS WON'T GO ON: Good news for people enjoy gambling in peace - a respiratory infection lead to Celine Dion cancelling some of her thirty-nine thousand Vegas shows this weekend.

HER LUNGS WON'T GO ON: Good news for people enjoy gambling in peace - a respiratory infection lead to Celine Dion cancelling some of her thirty-nine thousand Vegas shows this weekend.

NOVEL DEFENCES OF OUR TIME: James Brown might escape being labelled a wife-beater - by claiming 'that was no wife, that was a lady'. He's seeking an annulment from Tommie Rae on the grounds that she's still married to a previous husband, Javed Ahmed. Honestly, pop stars, eh; one gets an annulment, they all get an annulment.

CHEEKY GIRLS TO REPLACE CHRIS EUBANK: Sadly not by standing in a boxing ring, but the now well-worn-out-their-welcome novelty act are the latest post-Osbournes fly on the wall subjects, replacing five's axed At Home With The Eubanks. We'll be able to follow the twins as they go about their everyday lives and... well, actually, it's all just going to be everyday life, isn't it?

SPEARS SPIES: We're slightly amused by Britney's desperate desire to be a Bond Girl. Apparently she's hoping it'd do for her what it did for Halle Berry. Although, of course, Halle Berry was already a talented actress when she took the part in the Bond movie. To be honest, it's more likely to do for Britney what it did for Sean Connery - who started Bond movies as a suave sex symbol and ended up looking old, grey and happy to appear in any old crock of a movie that was offered to him.

Although some nights we do imagine Britney doing the opening sequence from The Spy Who Loved Me.

JANET UNCOVERED UNDER INVESTIGATION: Following on from the Janet Jackson incident yesterday, America's media overseer the FCC are going to investigate if Janet's breast was obscene. Justin's sticking to his line that it was wardrobe failure - which makes us wonder: why did he have to have two attempts at getting the titty cover off?

CHARITY TURNS UGLY: French police are investigating an incident at a charity concert in Macon. Apparently, a group of youths started chanting 'dirty Jew, death to Jews' during a song by Jennifer Djaoui. Djaoul - whose stage name is Shirel - is the daughter of Jeane Manson.

POLITICAL ACTIVISM INCREASES YOUR FERTILITY: Natalie Maines, Bush-baiting Dixie Chick, is pregnant again. And Martie Maguire, another Chick, is expecting twins. At this rate, Dixie Chicks offspring will be able to sway the vote by 2025 on their own.

LET'S GET FIZZICAL: As you'll know, especially if you saw the Superbowl [if you're looking for Janet Jackson, scroll down the page], Pepsi have got a special offer in the US where you can win a free tune from iTunes. Downhill Battle wants you to use your winning codes wisely and are evn offering to collect unwanted free downloads to put them to good use. They're pointing out that the major labels only pass on about eight cents per download to the artists; independent labels are sharing up to half the buck with the people who actually make the music. It's a timely campaign - remember how the RIAA likes to complain that if you use Kazaa rather than the a legal download none of the money goes to the artist? It's virtually the same if you downoad their stuff legally.

MAJOR LABEL GUY SOUNDS LIKE US: The people who make a fine, creamy living off the music industry seem to have been Stepfordian in the last few years, firmly insisting that the only thing wrong with their businesses is the threat from those damn kids and their computers and CD burners. Now, at last, one of them has broken ranks: John Grady, president of Sony Music Nashville, has suggested that the game's over for Big Music:

"I believe the major label [business] model is broken. It's too expensive, it's too slow, it's too big. Being too slow and being too big - and it's big in every way - makes it too expensive. And with a major company comes a lot of red tape and bureaucracy that makes [it] not extremely nimble."

And there's more: sounding like every fourth posting on No Rock over the last couple of years, Grady makes a simple observation about what the record industry needs to do to stop the rot:

"The first thing we have to do in order to do that is to make some music that somebody wants to buy."

This man shouldn't be in the country offshoot. He should be given control of the whole music division.

Monday, February 02, 2004

KELLY BALLYHOO: R Kelly has got angry as a moose mistaken for a hatstand with the Chicago Sun-Times, as, he claims, the paper has got a vendetta against him. This comes after the paper ran an article at the weekend with one of his ex-girlfriends claiming he was addicted to sex. He should complain - since the ex in question is nearly forty, it's the first time we've ever heard of him having sex with a grown-up.

"I WAS TWENTY ONE YEARS WHEN I WROTE THIS SONG/ I'M TWENTY-TWO NOW, BUT IT WON'T BE FOR LONG": The album from which that couplet originally came - an extra point for being so clever to those of you know it's the Paul Simon Songbook and not Billy Bragg's Life A Riot With Spy Vs Spy - is about to get its first US official release nearly forty years on. One of the highlights of the album is Leaves That Are Green, the opening lines to which Bill borrowed for A New England twenty years later.

THIS TIME, EUROPE WILL BE OURS. MAYBE: Having suffered a humiliation in the Eurovision last time round, Britain has declared that It Must Not Happen Again. So, whereas last year the fate of the nation was left in the hands of LIPA, this time round Britain's Eurovision entry will be chosen from songs written by six of the nation's 'top' songwriters. Even Gary Barlow has been roped in to toss off an entrant. And then, one Saturday night soon, we'll all get a chance to vote for the best. Which will set sail to do battle in the Song Contest proper. And still score nul points, because we won't join the Euro. [Thanks to Alan C for the link]

LINE UP COMES TO THE SOUTH BANK SHOW?: Although Melvyn's down for another three years at the helm of ITV's public service arts warhorse, it's being suggested that Justine Frischmann is being groomed as a future presenter of The South Bank Show. The Sun, being The Sun, chooses to headline this story "Ex-junkie is set for Bragg job."

JANET JACKSON POPS OUT UNEXPECTEDLY: Virgin Records in the US have released the new Janet Jackson single to radio stations in the US early to capitalise on the wave of publicity her breast has earned her ("because the track has been leaked on the internet").

DO YOU BEEE-LIEVE IN NEWS AFTER HUTTON?: It's worth noting in the transcripts of the Cher appearance on C-Span this piece:

C-Span Moderator: What's your favorite news source outside the US?

Caller [Cher, for it is she]: Well theres a source that I really like inside the US that gives you special documentaries called WORLDLINK but I think my favorite source outside the US is BBC because they are our allies but you still get...on the nightly news you know, much more coverage and I think much more honest coverage...I dont know, I guess they're not...well...they're independent so they're not owned by any of the major corporations that are... you know, have vested interest in this war.

Can anyone else in the world think of a single subject that both Cher and Norman Tebbit might find common ground on?

It's interesting how little coverage in the wider media there was of Cher's appearance on C-Span. She'd tried to remain anonymous (like those callers to Frasier's show) but her identity suddenly occured to the presenter - it was that damn vocoder which gave her away. She was raising the point that the US had been shipping its injured and dead back from Iraq without any fanfare at all ("none of the received a hero's welcome/none of them/none of them", as it were) but oddly enough, none of the networks seemed to have the stomach for reporting her intervention. Which I guess kind of proved her point.

BITTER MEN OF POP: Anthony Costa, clinging to the disintegrating Blue bandwagon, is really, really pissed off. Why? Because the media ignore "British talent" (i.e. Blue):

"It pisseed me off when we played at the Party In The Park last year," he said at last weekend's TV Moments party. "There were four or five of the best British acts around playing and what made the headlines - Beyonce's ass."

Readers with long memories will recall that amongst the acts were Girls Aloud, Gareth Gates, Blue and the Sugababes - none of whom are really fit to kiss Beyonce's ass, much less force it off the front page. The trouble is, Ant, that while you are all unquestionably British, even British people are going to notice that your suburban-level of singing a bit, dancing a bit talent doesn't quite hold the attention when it's sharing a stage with someone who is actually a proper entertainer. You had a chance to grab those headlines for yourself - you could have played a set so spellbinding and mesmerising the tabloids would have run pictures of you all underheadlines like 'Blue Hat For A Blue Day'. But you instead turned in a humdrum set of so-so performances of second rate songs, so they went with Beyonce's ass instead. Frankly, it's lucky Beyonce was there otherwise the event would probably have been struggling to get a News In Brief slot at the bottom of page fifteen, just below the Faversham Girl Scouts bric-a-brac.

The sad thing is, we don't disagree with your contention that the acts at Party in the Park probably were the best of the British pop scene right now. That's scary.

WHODUNNIT?: The fearless Daily Mirror knows who's killed the single - it points the finger at the Internet (of course), mobile phones (because, erm, why would anyone buy a single when they could have a discordant tinny little ringtone version of the same thing) and MTV. Now, we thought MTV had already been tried on the charge of killing pop music back in the 80s, so surely to put it on trial again is a breach of double jeopardy? The Mirror, however, knows it's guilty - kids can just "record" singles from MTV, using that new-fangled video taping equipment. They didn't get a BPI spokesperson in to say "We always knew there was a risk if people realised that they could tape music from the TV; we're just lucky we got away with it for twenty-five years."

Not guilty, apparently, are the record companies who have managed to engineer a situation where singles are often as expensive as some top-name albums, or who put out substandard tosh (Bunton, we're looking at you) without even bothering a "will this do"; or the shops whose single departments ceased to order a range of new releases and only picked the ones they thought would be in a chart - a self-fulfilling prophecy but one which helped kill the habit of single buying. And if you're going to finger mobile ringtones, isn't it fair to at least acknowledge their role properly - back in the 70's, if you were a teenager, your pocket money didn't have many calls on it - records, cinema tickets, a can of Top Deck every now and then. In 2004, there's enormous demand for teenager's cash - everything from X-Box games to snowboarding lessons. And, yes, mobile ringtones. Perhaps the wonder is not how few copies singles sell now, but that they sell any at all.

STORYTIME: Lisa Loeb has produced a kid's book and accompanying CD, proving that anything Madonna can do, she can actually do in a way that doesn't cause onlookers to feel like they should be doing something to make it all stop.

We didn't realise that in the States, Lisa and her partner Dweezil Zappa present a programme on the Food Network. We'd really like to encourage UK Food to bring this to us in Britain. We promise we'd watch.

PUFFING DADDIES: Weezer have announced details of the luxurious new version of the deacade-old Blue Album; March 23rd sees an all-new, two-disc version with extra b-side and rarity action. The same day, the band will be hurling out a DVD - Video Capture Device - that is made by sticking together a load of stuff from the years 1991 to 2002. Deep breaths all round.

... AND FRIDAY MAKES THREE: The stakes are raised higher as Franz Ferdinand add a third Astoria night in a desperate bid to cope with surging demand.

YOU KNOW WHAT?: Having seen the picture:

breast is best

- we're now thinking that clearly is something prepared in rehearsal. Which clearly makes both Justin's protests that "I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable" a bit of a fib, and CBS's flustered "there was no indication any such thing would happen. The moment did not conform to CBS' broadcast standards and we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended" about as credible as the Hutton Report. MTV's apology for the incident seems to suggest they think that it's only the right Jackson breast which blew up in their face, while it's clear that the NFL actually hated all of it: "We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show," Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, said. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show. It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime." We'd suggest that next year they consider getting in Ed 'stewpot' Stewart, who's lead more than one chorus of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' during FA Cup warm-ups. He's a safe pair of hands.

NOW I'M ALL GROWN UP: A short while ago, Britney was worried because she wasn't a girl, but not yet a woman. Now, though, she's reached full maturity. Who says? Clear Channel Entertainment, who've decided that Britney is no longer a kid's artist - officially. But there's a pay-off - they reckon her audience will now be a bit more pov than before. At least, that's how they're explaining the slow ticket sales - apparently, with the college-aged demographic, they might have to save up for a couple of months to be able to afford to buy the tickets.

es. On the other hand, they might also spend it on beer instead.

WE HAVE A QUEASY FEAR HE MIGHT UNZIP HIMSELF WHILE HE'S DOING IT: Will Young often unwinds watching videos of himself on Pop Idol, apparently. Which we can understand - who amongst us doesn't find comfort seeking out memories of a time when we were loved unconditionally? Especially when that love has burned out and died.

WHAT HAS SUSSEX DONE WRONG?: Pity the once proud county of Sussex. Rent in two in 1974, it already provides a home for Nicholas VanHoogstraten and Julie Burchill - now Robbie Williams is thinking of buying a mansion in Kirdford. Robbie apparently wants "peace and quiet", which he might find easier to achieve if he stopped his PR machine whirring out guff about his desire to buy houses and how he likes dog walking.

THE LIBERTY BELL ONLY NEEDED TO BE CRACKED ONCE: There may be a degree of puzzlement at the news that Kylie Minogue is planning to launch a major campaign to crack America - hadn't we already been told how wonderful her American career was; indeed, wasn't EMI's success at breaking the lass with the ass in the land of the free one of the things that was quoted as being a reason for Robbie Williams re-signing with the label? And yet here we are: apparently she's still at square one, despite having had a number one. Just a hint, though: if you've already had some success, however small, it's not a mission to crack the states, it's a relaunch. Not that that should bother Kylie, she's already been launched more times than a pedalo on the Sefton Park boating lake. What's another one to her?

HEARTS CAN BE BROKEN: After a couple of days of "gruelling arbitration" trying to regain the rights to the musical Harmony, Barry Manilow is hospitalised with chest pains. He's being kept in for tests, although after the George Harrison case, it's unlikely these will include "can you sign these six by fours legibly?"

BABY STEPS: "Not many people know" claims Emma Bunton "that I walked away from my Virgin contract." Yes, apparently, Virgin weren't that fussed about pumping more cash into a dwindling career, so Emma packed up her stuff and went elsewhere to record the, um, selling ten copies more than Lostprophets new single. I think she's trying to spin this as her being in charge of her career, rather than the willing dupe at the centre of a constructive dismissal.

AT LEAST ONE JACKSON MAKES A CLEAN BREAST: The Miaimi Herald is guessing that MTV won't be asked to put together the Superbowl half time show again, following the crotching of Nelly, the swearyness of Kid Rock and Janet Jackson having a tit bounce out towards the end of her piece. The - ahem - boob has doubtless been screencap and ftped to death in the past couple of hours. It's unclear if she followed Michael's example by inviting admiring fans back to her house. The Patriots won, apparently.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

PUT KIRK TO WORK: The Spear of destiny website is a little bit messy in its layout, and it's written as if a bottle of peach brandy has been consumed before each bit gets uploaded, but we think Kirk Brandon is offering people who want to send a few quid a chance to own a slice of the new album. We're wondering why some smart music industry lawyer hasn't actually set themselves up as an expert in this field - there's quite a few artists who seem interested in self-funding (or fan-funding) releases; isn't it about time someone realised that there was a gap in the market for someone to provide the neccesary legal services, paperwork and so on off-the-shelf?

"IS THERE ANY CHANCE WE CAN TWEAK IT A BIT INTO A PAUL ROBESON?": Atlanta are now thinking that their plans to raise a statue of James Brown might need a spot of re-thinking; it's not so much the new wife-beating charges (after all, if you're happy to stick up a figure in honour of a chap who takes potshots at the cops, a spot of renewed domestics wouldn't cause any extra worry, would it?) but the challenges involved in trying to get his new super-mad hair right in bronze that is giving them the willies.

INNOCENT VICTIMS: At long last, someone is speaking up for the innocent victims of the Michael Jackson case. No, not the kids, the Jacko impersonators who "fear ruin" following the latest twists. Let's just pause for a moment to consider what on earth a Michael Jackson lookalike would, well, actually look like. And, then, collect our thoughts and move on.

The lookalikes have found the only work they're being offered now is to go on satirical shows and take the piss out of the famous face they believe they share. Shouldn't we be organising a telethon or something?

In other Jacko news, someone should perhaps pour the News of the World a glass of 'jesus juice' as they seem to be convinced they've got an exclusive story about the financial arrangrements between him and baby seller Debbie Rowe. Erm, that would be exclusive in the sense of 'read out of the court papers that everyone has access to', would it?

OR MAYBE THE KITTENS HAVE SPLIT. IT'S HARD TO SAY: The question is, if Atomic Kitten haven't split and are "just taking a break from pop music", then why are Jenny and Liz launching solo careers?

Jenny Frost says the only thing the former Kittens won't be doing is "posing naked for Playboy" - which we can fully believe, as it's hugely unlikely the international magazine would lower its standards so far. But we're guessing more gusset-lowered shots for FHM (and newcomers Nuts and Zoo) will be in the offing.

Meanwhile, Natasha is bristling that "babies don't get air miles." Which seems to be fair to us, because firstly, babies really don't fly well, and their knock-on distress makes flights really horrible for eveyone else (it's bad enough worrying if you've got shabbily-trained Met Police 'air marshall' fingering his trigger under his waistband without having mewling to contend with as well); secondly, very, very few babies actually buy their own tickets and would benefit from being able to build up a collection of miles.

MY LIFE WITH THE STARS: The News of the World hasn't, we'd guess, paid much to Kathryn Biddle for her 'my life with Justin Hawkins' revelations. Although they try and play up their scoop - "Weird Secrets of Darkness Star Justin" are promised by the headline, but really... Biddle doesn't have much that's that biddable. You'll go "Oh? Really?" and turn over as The News of the World reveals how:

* having sex in a tent at the Reading Festival, the flap almost opened but, um, didn't

* the student couple ate baked beans

* Justin would wear Y-fronts, and

* they got engaged with a ring bought in Argos