Saturday, February 14, 2004

THE RECORD INDUSTRY JACKBOOT MARCHES NORTH: As the RIAA strategy starts to come apart, their Canadian equivalent, the CRIA, has started to pressure ISPs in the land of the Maple Leaf to try and find out whose front doors they should be kicking down. Of course, if they really wanted to do it like the RIAA they should just send armed men in to round up a few classloads of sixth graders.

GET WELL SOON: Best wishes to Matt from Mower, who went to the aid of a dog being kicked by two numbskulls who then promptly turned on him instead. And we hope the cunts who did it fall into an industrial sized washing machine. Forever.

ART SCHOOL COLTS: Doing anything this Monday night? If not, you could do worse than listen to Steve Lamacq's feature on Art School Bands, which has got the awfully nice Ikara Colt contributing. And you'll be able to listen to it at any point after the Monday evening for a week, thanks to the magic of websites.

OH, FOR THE LOVE OF...: Oh, Courtney, Courtney... we've just been watching the new video on the Amp, and, yes, it is as bad as we'd feared: I'm sure that it's not easy being in front of the paparazzi all the time, but do you have any idea how dull it makes the video to make that the focus? It's on a par with writing a song about the difficulties of co-ordinating a European tour during American awards season; or if you went to buy some cheese and the bloke on the deli counter prefaced the "that's just over, is that okay?" with a two-minute routine about how the big fridge is quite cold and it's drying out his skin. Nobody cares about your job's drawbacks, honey - you don't want me to tell you about the frustrations of blogging in your lunch hour, do you? So why do you think I want to know about the shit you have at the office?

More importantly, the song sucks. It sounds like Republica trying to pass themselves off as L7.

NOT A PATCH ON THE TURN-OUT FOR DIANA'S FUNERAL: We're a little bit worried looking at the guest list for Elton John's first Caeser's Palace date - Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who at least consider themselves to be quite the a-listers; Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton. Sharon and Ozzy. Barbara Fucking Walters. Christina Aguilera. Jesus, the celebrities they round up for The National IQ test are more glittering than this shower - Adam Woodyat washing his hair, was he? Maureen from Driving School too busy preparing for Back to Reality?

NAILS AND WAILS: More rumblings from the courtroom and beyond on the Spector case; Phil's defence team maintains they don't have to share the mystery evidence with the prosecution, while the Associated Press are claiming they've been told that the magic secret isn't one of Lana Clarkson's nails.

In other court news, the Judge in charge of Michael jackson kid-fid case has made it clear he wants the thing over and done with this year. The defence team are being all mysterious, suggesting that "serious issues" would have to be settled before even a preliminary hearing can be held. Judge Melville gave no ruling on the release or otherwise of the seized audio and video tapes taken from Neverland and Michael's gay porn friend, but suggested he'd be releasing edited versions of the search warrants sometime next week. Good news for the smoking gun, then.

DRUMMER BANGED UP: The former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland has been given eight years for the attempted rape of a 17 year old boy. Giving sentence, the judge said Holland must never be allowed to work with children again, and chided him for misrepresenting himself to the boy's parents as a positive influence - although it's hardly likely he'd have said "can i take your boy for a bit of a roll, please?"

HALF A GRAND AIN'T ENOUGH: Sad news from Ebay, where the copy of Nirvana's first record, the Love Buzz promo, once owned by Chad Channing's Dad (the original drummer, of course) failed to meet its reserve, despite bids of USD500 plus. We wonder what super400 thought it was worth...

MOTORCYCLE EMPTINESS: Peter Hayes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has broken his thumb and, apparently like Madonna, won't trust the British NHS to fix it properly (it was good enough for Ryan Adams, dammit) and so he's flying back to the States for surgery. The upshot is BRMC are having to reschedule the rest of their tour - no new dates yet, though.

Friday, February 13, 2004

WORST. GIG. EVER.: marks Friday 13th by picking the best worst gigs from a variety of bands, which makes for amusing reading (Shirley Manson in a full face mask, anyone?) but, interestingly, gets its own 13th jitter - listing Brett Anderson as the only male, non-Donna in The Donnas.

JEWEL BOX: Yes, yes, Jewel, we believe you when you say you're a bitch and so on - but are you sure about this bit?:

Jewel was homeless, living in a car as she fought to have her songs heard in a small cafe...

Isn't that actually Phoebe from Friends?

RUGGED AND MEAN, BUTCH AND ONSCREEN?: Coming to a court soon: Did Walter J Bronin attempt to force George Strait to record his songs, threatening to "go rambo" if he didn't? He's just been indicted by a federal grand jury on extortion charges that will test if his claim that someone had been forging his email for four or five years stands up. We're kind of curious as to what "going rambo" actually means - wandering around talking out the side of your mouth with no shirt on? Getting left behind in Vietnam for years? It's for the courts to decide now...

RAWLS CUTS HIS LOSSES: Lou Rawls has done a deal to get out of a twelve million lawsuit, paying off a woman who claims he reneged on a deal to support her forever when their relationship ended. Rawls says he never even dated her, but paid her USD35,000 to make the "nuisance" go away. As you would, too, in the same position. No, sorry, not you, we were talking to Jeffrey Archer.

MY NAME... IS NOT IMPORTANT: So, apparently, Wyatt Wasicek has designed this masking system for file sharers to avoid the RIAA discovering who they are. But he's going to boot out anyone who misues copyright material via his service, because he's trying to protect legitimate file sharers from being wrongfully pursued. Although it might not matter anyway, as some experts doubt that the system will work properly anyway.

EH?: We have no idea how this Scotsman story got detached from any context whatsoever, but it involves "the Major" claiming he had an affair with Andrea Corr. Angela McConnell told a tribunal that, apparently.

I WHO HAVE SOMETHING: Shirley Bassey has some sort of mystery illness (as in nobody is announcing what it is, not 'medical science is baffled; it might be from Mars dust') and has had to pull out of her Australian commitments.

POOR SCHEDULING: ITV2, earlier this evening: 9.30 It's Good To Be... Michael Jackson.

WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR BRIAN POOLE AND THE TREMOLOES... THEY'LL BLOW YOUR MIND*: This, from Becky Bamboo, is probably good news for most Liverpool bands:
Okay, so last week's Entertainment Weekly had a story about how the Beatles are the newest "cult band" among teenagers. Aside from the assertion made that modern music initially seems to owe little to them (hello? Have they never heard of indie rock? Power pop? whatever) which I disagreed with, I found the article amusing in a 'yeah-right-I'm-so-sure' sorta way.

I think we all know what's coming.

So last Sunday I was over at my aunt's for dinner when, with all seriousness, my 14 year old cousin asks me, "do you know the Beatles?" Hee. I told him that I was indeed familiar with their work. He told me one of his other cousins (about his same age) had "turned [him] on to them last year." He even asked my aunt if they had a turntable. I didn't have the heart to tell him that she gave all her and my uncle's albums to me a couple of years ago.

And I will never doubt EW again.

* - I'm sure this headline once appeared in a music paper as a response to a reader's letter, and I suspect it might have been the black type in smash hits. Anyone?

OUTKAST UPSET PEOPLE: Dammit, the Grammys nearly got away without upsetting people (except those of us who find Dave Matthews unacceptable); even the moment where - apparently - Christina fell out of her shirt happened away from cameras. It would all have been so smooth but for Outkast coming on dressed up as Red Indians. "I don't think you meant to offend us" says a petition, "but you hurt us." CBS have already issued an apology on their website. For our part, we managed to not use a 'wig wam bam' gag in the headline.

THE TANGLED TALE OF COPY PROTECTION: The Register follows up a Radio 4 You and Yours report about a chap who couldn't get his CDs to play in his car. The consumer programme talked to everyone involved. Volkswagen said they'd stuck to the rules of the CD format set down when CDs were invented by Dire Straits and Sting one afternoon towards the end of the 1980s; the BPI made some blethering noises about how, you know, CDs have changed and you can't really expect the modern CD to be guaranteed to play on equipment that was made to the proper standard. Eh? Of course that doesn't make any sense at all; and it's notable that the record companies talk about how you can get video clips and all sorts of CD now, but don't actually confess the reason the Volkwagen driver can't play his music is because of the copy protetction they've put onto his CD. Or that in a bid to stop people from copying the music, the record industry is now flogging large numbers of items which aren't actually fit for the purpose.

You can listen to the feature on RealAudio.

ITS HIM ANDY PEEBLES: Ah, Andy Peebles, we remember you. We recall how in our younger days you had one of those programmes which seemed like they had been running forever on Friday nights on Radio One, the signal that the dismal weekend had seized 275 and 285 metres; from here it would be Junior Choice and Gambacini all the way through until sanity returned with the Top 40 way off on Sunday afternoon. We remember the desperate protoFive Livery of your frequent detours into a look ahead at the sporting weekend ahead. We remember the poor catchphrase - "This is MeAndyPeebles", so poor that Mark Page pinched it almost wholesale. But most of all we remember desperately seeking something, anything else. Good luck, mind, with the new show on Smooth FM, the new format being slapped onto the old North West version of Jazz FM.

I NEED AN UMBRELLA TO FACE A FIFTY FOOT WAVE: The return of the 4AD kids continues, as no sooner do the Pixies reunite than Kristen Hersh prepares to launch her new project Fifty Foot Wave, with an album due in March. Now all we need is the Pale Saints to pull something together...

BETA READY FINAL VERSION: The Beta Band have announced release details for their third album. Heroes to Zeroes will be heralded by a single, Assessment, on April 12th, the album following on the 26th. Assessment's video will apparently feature a run through of the history of human warfare, so it's bound to end up with some sort of nuclear apocalypse and possibly giant cockroaches.

TWO OF A KIND: Seven out of ten people can't tell Ant from Dec. Oddly, though, absolutely everyone who saw their pisspoor remake of Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads can tell the difference between Ant and Dec and Bewes and Bollam. Early reports suggest people are shakier on the difference between Ant and Dec and Lennie and Jerry.*

* - we suggest you try TV Cream if you need your memory jogged.

LET'S JUST BE FRIENDS: It seems that Christina wants to bend Britney over a table, greedily hitch up her skirt and rip off those lacy undies, licking her thighs and letting... oh, hang on; "heal the rift" between her and Britney Spears. In a letter she sent to Britney's house, Christina says "After that night at the MTV awards, I stole your panties - I hope you don't mind, but I just wanted a piece of you. Some nights, I sleep with them pressed to my face, breathing in the smell of your deepest secret..." Oh, hang on, it's "Let's be friends again. We're both deep in this music business, which can get nasty. People take things we say out of context. But we're more similar than we are different - with the same worries and concerns." Not quite, Christina; Britney's not worried that she may have got an infection the last time she replaced her piercing.

GRAMMY GRUMPS: We were a bit surprised when the Grammy Awards turned up on British TV last night - we'd not been expecting them, and couldn't quite figure what the point was nearly a week after the awards had been announced. We were even more puzzled by the way E4 cut the show up - because they seem to have slimmed it down to ninety minutes by removing most of the actual awards themselves. Which might have made sense if what was left had been quality entertainment, but with dreadful sound; rotten, rotten camera positions (were the New Power Generation in a different room to Prince and Beyonce?) and Sting, the whole thing felt as if it had been filmed by an undercover operative using a camera hidden in a shoulder bag. Still, aaaaa-ttttt lll-eee-aaaaa-ssss-ttt-tttttt we got to see Christina, for some reason dressed as Charlie Chaplin, kneeling in some smoke over emoting every single fucking syllable of Beautiful; it was clear that this was what the song had been written for: to sing to a bunch of self-satisified executives over a drink or two in order for everyone to feel a little less like they're stinking, stinking hooves.

TELL THEM WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO SAY... TELL THEM IT... AND THEN TELL THEM WHAT YOU'VE TOLD THEM: By the time the NME award results make it into the magazine, they'll be as cold as Pete Doherty. They were announced last night, the website has them today; they're on the telly on Sunday night (MTV2, Sunday at nine pm)... the big poll winners issue on the newstand on Thursday may as well also be carrying the news that Buddy Holly has passed away, leaving a bereftness.

Anyway, who won what, then?

Best Radio Show: Zane Lowe
Best New Band (supported by Radio 1): Kings Of Leon
Best Video (supported by MTV2): Radiohead - 'There There'
Best Single: The White Stripes - '7 Nation Army'
Best Film: 'Lord Of The Rings - Return Of The King'
Rock And Roll Man Of The Year: Har Mar Superstar
Best Live Band (supported by Carling): Queens Of The Stone Age
Living Legend: Arthur Lee
Philip Hall Radar Award: Franz Ferdinand
Best Event: Glastonbury
The Fuck Me! Award For Innovation: Dizzee Rascal
Best International Band (supported by 4Music): Kings Of Leon
Best TV Show: The Office
Rock 'N' Roll Woman Of The Year: Brody Dalle
Best UK Band (supported by BPI): The Libertines
Best Album (supported by Virgin Megastores): Radiohead - 'Hail To The Thief'
Godlike Genius: Ozzy Osbourne

The most interesting thing about the awards is that they really have drifted from their original brief (when the awards show was resurrected) of being the alternative to the Brits - indeed, the Best UK Band prize is now being underwritten by the BPI, who hand out the Brits as well. Which is kind of cosy. That title goes to the Libertines - let's hope this time they share the statue and Pete doesn't have to go breaking and entering to pinch it, shall we? Radiohead's Hail to Thief finally gets some unquestioning applause - hitherto, almost every Poll and Consideration has given a grudging "Well, yes, it's good but its not anything we didn't know you were capable of." Godlike genius award to Ozzy? Maybe, but we can't really see why; if he'd have got this a few years back, maybe, but 'aah, diddums, holding daughter's hand on grandma's favourite christmas record' + 'propping up wife's increasingly murder-inducing US TV career' + 'can't operate a fucking remote control' + 'can't even drive a kiddie's toy tractor without almost killing himself' isn't really adding up to genius in our eyes. People who fancy women get off far better than people who fancy men - Har Mar isn't really up to scratch with Brody Dalle, is he? We're a bit surprised at the Kings of Leon getting the best new band prize - it's notable that the magazine gave the undemocratic Philip Hall On Award to Franz Ferdindand instead, presumably figuring that they're the band more likely to be remembered in three year's time.

But what's so innovative about Dizzee Rascal?

GOD: MY PART IN AL GREEN'S SUCCESS: Interesting comment from Al Green as he picked up his induction into the gospel Hall of Fame yesterday, that the Grammys ignored him until he recorded a gospel record. Now, without wanting to sound conspiratorial and all, were the Grammy board waiting for a sign that he was a good man?

LOVE AND DANCING: 6Music are celebrating Valentine's Day with a True Romantic festival, including Human League stuff, interviews with Midge Ure and Steve Strange and doubtless other great things too - Adam Ant and allsorts. But we can't make the page load back in to be certain.

STILL, BETTER THAN BEING DEAD IN A TRUNK: Kim Mathers, once Eminem's wife, has been sent to chokey for "at least a month" after cocaine was found in her peepee. Mathers was on probation for cocaine possession and "failing to give enough space to an emergency vehicle" - I suppose Sheena McDonald was lucky the Met didn't try and bring the second charge against her, too.

BADU AND DOC: BABYMAKING: Erykah Badu is pregnant again, and this time the father is The D. O. C. (apparently a rapper and not that series that's a bit like a new 90210). Badu's currently touring with Mercury nominated Floetry (oh... so that's who they were). Her first child, Seven is six and the son of Andre 3000. Which means, we suppose, we could describe him as 7 3000, 6, if we had a mind to.

LOYAL TO THE BANK OF AMERICA: Following on from a New York Times story estimating Michael Jackson (yes, we're back with the brother) to be owing some USD70 million to the Bank of America alone, Jackson's manager Charles Koppelman has denied that Jacko is broke. Yes, he does have debts, but rich people do that, of course. You know, rich people like Robert Maxwell. And Jackson has the ability to "generate huge sums of money" - having to give them away to the parents of children he's never abused may be a bit of a problem, but, sure he can generate them. Although his ability to service his debts and renegotiate his loans and raise these luge sums might take a bit of a hit if his 2005 World Tour won't be able to get much beyond the exercise yard and the shower block - we'd like to see him trying to pay off the BOA with three eggs and a can of pineapple chunks pinched from the prison kitchens.

UNGUARDED MOMENTS: Maybe this is how it's done in America - when you miss a court date without explanation, you ring up Howard Stern to provide a reason. hat's what Courtney did - her rather pathetic reason for not showing in court was she didn't have a "professional bodyguard." Courtney, when your attorney said there was a risk the judge would throw the book at you, he wasn't talking about a real book. We're a little fuzzy as to why if there really was a need for a bodyguard, her lawyer didn't just say this in court on Tuesday rather than saying something vague about "security issues", which really came across as saying "Your honour, my client hasn't shown - could we have a three day recess to come up with a plausible reason why?" Love told Stern that she intends to plead not guilty, in the course of an interview which had beaten all comers for the most use of the bleeper (fifteen times in three minutes). Some listeners suggested they could smell booze coming out of their speakers, but Courtney insisted she was sober as a judge. It's not clear if she kept saying "I'm fine" in a squeaky voice before force feeding people fajitas.

LOW LEVEL WHIGFIELD: Apparently, Mary Wilson's heart attack wasn't a heart attack at all - she just had some tingling as a result of a decade old car crash and the stress brought on by suing a group touring Europe under the Sounds of the Supremes banner. We'd not heard about the heart attack; we hadn't heard of the court case, either - is this a band suing their own tribute act?

SLIGHT OVERSTATEMENT: Vnunet got a little carried away with the new record sales figures, proudly announcing Legal downloads outsell CDs. Erm... Dvds, cassingles and vinyl, yes... but the CD single is still out in front for now.

CHICKS ON SPEED WITH SAVINGS FOR US ALL: Those awfully nice Playlouder people have got a free download of the Dave Clark/Chicks on Speed collabo track What Was Her Name. And they've got the video, too. Throw in some men in suits clapping, and you've got a great night out.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: There's no q in sex edition
In the second round of the Men's weekly battle, the two sides fought themselves to a standstill, by both putting Jordan onto their covers. This week Zoo (or is it Nuts) has moved on to Beyonce, who at least has more to offer than just her ass.

The oddest front cover, though, has to be the new Radio Times, which has chosen to raise Billie Piper - yes, Mrs. Chris Evans - onto its front page, to mark her continued acting career. There was some sort of assumption that her role in Canterbury Tales was going to be the first step to big things, so RT is quite excited by the new project - almost as if it had never heard of Madonna, and Desperately Seeking Susan, and what happened next.

Back to the wankers for a moment, and Mark Thomas writes in the New Statesman about his decision to quit Zoo after one edition - apparently he had no idea that it was going to be quite so tacky. It seems he'd hoped he'd have been a moral compass in the romper room; instead he realised he'd be struggling to hook people's attention on globalisation in a sea of breast meat. Elsewhere in the Statesman, Rosie Millard announces that her journalistic role model was the teenage Julie Burchill, which is a bit like Miss Jean Brodie citing Rasputin as a formative figure.

And, welcoming John Squire's return to music making, John harris suggests that The Stone Roses were John the Baptist to "the more messianistic" Oasis, which is all wrong - the Roses, surely, were the Jesus figures; Oasis is more your Jim Jones - thought they were it, but everybody who followed them ended up dead.

As today's sales figures show, Q has really lost its way, and the current issue - the Sex Issue - shows quite how badly. It's not just lost its path, but it seems to have forgotten its name, misplaced its car keys, can't remember what it came into the room for and has no feeling in its legs any more. Of course, we'd cheerfully buy any magazine with Pink on the front, and the further the bra is pushing up, the happier we are, but we're a specialist market. Who reads Q now, and what do they expect?

Is Nicola Heywood, from Australia, typical? She writes an interesting letter about the White Stripes: "Without the White Stripes, nobody would ever have become interested in what was happening in Detroit. Personally, I think Stollsteimer's got a some nerve running around bad-mouthing Jack. If anything happens to Jack I'll never listen to music again. The bereftness after Buddy Holly, the numbness after Kurt, will be nothing compared to the gaping hole left in the music industry, and in the world, if anything happens to him." Got that? Jason really should shut up about being brutally attacked by the thuggish Jack, because Jack dying would be like the moment when Jasmine was taken away in Angel. Are Q readers all under twelve these days?

Kelly Jones thinks if the Stereophonics "stick around long enough" critical acclaim will come. Kelly, there isn't a long enough long enough. If you're expecting to get recognised as one of the great British bands, at the current rate of absolute sky canker you're releasing ("Moviestar... we know who you are" or whatever it is?) Sellafield will be safe for sickly children to go picnicing on before it happens. Oh, and if you really want to have a good excuse for slapping Kelly's squishy face when you see him next - and sure, you could just do it for fun - take his comments on Richard Branson: "Branson is cool, but he'd probably try to nick your bird." I guess wearing a pullover and entering into a business with noted homophobe Brian Souter would appear to be cool to someone who uses the phrase "nick your bird" without actually being in The Sweeney.

Offered straight or gay, Emma Bunton plumps for both; offered Jack or Meg, she chooses Meg. It's such a pity the new album sounds like a rushed house band trying to create some Baccharach feel without having to actually pay royalties.

Apparently, N'Sync are being sued for USD9.6 million by their former tour manager Ibrahim Duarte because he "endured constant slurs, jokes and belittling comments." And, presumably, had to see them playing live every night for several months. He's suffered enough.

Ronnie Wood has sold USD3 millions worth of his paintings - which is a really breathtaking amount, especially since he doesn't actually use platinuim instead of canvases.

A name to be taken: Cozmo Jenks. The woman who makes Jay kay's hats. Meanwhile, Q offers 12 steps to building the ultimate hair metal collection, which is like being told how best to give yourself crabs. And since when were The Cult hair metal?

Jack Black claims that tenacious D fans are more intelligent than those of Green Day. We'd like to see that tested, and we'd like to see it tested by asking them all 'is your favourite band real?'

Franz Ferdinand have a cute story about how they started: Belle & Sebastian's Mick Cooke gace Alex Kapranos a bass and told him to do something useful with it. So far, let's hope he's not disappointed.

Another Sid-dead-25-years-piece, this one by ted Kessler. Sid, you see, is Punk's greatest icon, although he got beaten in a broken bottle fight by Paul Weller - alright, so it was before Weller took to carrying an accordian and only wearing sports socks, but it's still a bit of a come down. He also promised to die before he was thirty "just like Iggy Pop." Really, his contribution to art seems to be little more than flicking Vs, and the quarter century of his passing will hopefully end the mistaken belief that he was an icon - because what do all these pieces amount to? "He couldn't hack it, had no ideas, couldn't play, killed his partner and killed himself." We're still not sure where the hero bit actually starts.

In what world was Phil Oakey's haircut bad? Nicky Clarke - a man who could play David van Day's twin without the need for any help from wardrobe - claims that Phil's iconic half bob was "ridiculous." And owed something to Bobby Charlton. Eh?

"I just thought 'this is like a surreal art project'... my whole five years actually felt quite smooth." Melissa Auf Der Maur talks about life in Hole as if it was holding down a day job on the board of a small provincial theatre, which it probably was, in a way. Apparently, Billy Corgan rang her up when she left Hole and said "the stars have alligned. You have to join my band" and she obeyed. Wonder if he tries t6hat with pizza delivery?

So, finally, Q slips its shoes off and talks dirty. It offers first a list of twenty songs to get you off - Whitesnake's Is This Love? Led Zepplin's The Lemon Song? I suspect nobody at Q has had need to add extra detergent when they wash their sheets in a very long time. Then we get an a to z of sex. A is for auto-erotic asphyxiation, B is for booty... Q is for Queer, illustrated with a picture of Rob Halford. Z? Zoophilia. The Anti-Nowhere League. Let's move on.

Some seduction tips now from Lionel Richie - "should you put out on a first date? Who knows? It's like downhill ski-ing" he claims, thereby rejecting the 'uphill gardening' model. But he gets plenty, apparently, despite the moustache so maybe we should listen to the man: "If you discover half way through you don't like her, you suck it up and gracefully find your way out." Of course it's out of context, but... exactly.

Would Pink think it easier to have a relationship with a woman? "Fuck, no; women like to talk about everything, way too much shit." It's worth noting that she treats the question about orientation with the same disdain as she would a question about her race; it's all mixed up, so what's the point?

So, onto the NME, which turned up late clutching a CD by way of apology - it's pretty good, too: von bondies, kylie, BRMC and, of course, Jet (they're determined to try and force them on us, aren't they?) The cover is a montage - of the magazine, we mean; they probably figure why bother wasting a great shot that won't add sales as much as the CD? then there's a second cover, inside the cover, which has Outkast on. If Paolo Hewitt was alive today, he'd be clearing his throat and asking if it's NME policy for black guys to only be on Page One when there's a wrap around hiding page one.

The big picture is apparently of the Rapture gig - little face in a crowd. As is getting to be a habit, it's a 'you had to be there' shot.

The NME tour is given a quick double page plug (although it's probably fair enough - 37,000 people saw the shows, or about one person for every two readers) and there's a small item about Courtney's diary - but it's almost as if the determination to try and offer a lot of news coverage (like a Sunday newspaper, breadth and context) as a reaction to the knowledge that The Kids get their news light and bright from their space computers has been abandoned in favour of just using the space to report on the NME's own doings - we thought it was just the time of year when the news pages shed; they're not growing back with spring on the way.

Peter Robinson meets Senior Junior senior, and tells him he's half the Bert and Ernie of dance. Senior is bemused, claiming they don't have Sesame Street in Denmark.

Brand New are the radar band, with a name that will hang around their necks like Bono if they make it past the five year mark. They do bristle when they're called Emo, so we doubt that it's going to be an issue, though.

Andre 3000 always calls his pants knickers now, something he's taken from British people. And Outkast want to meet the Queen. It wouldn't surprise me if the feeling was mutual - so many people spent the christmas period saying how much they loved Hey ya I'm sure it got a plug on the Message to the Commonwealth.

There's a random pop love generator thing which works by numbers - I shall ask my glamorous assistant to generate a romance. Ah: 88467 - marilyn manson meets two of girls aloud while they're working as waitresses in cocktail bars, chats them up with the line "whats French and does it doggy? moi" and it all ends when they spot him getting off with someone at a bus stop. What's really interesting is that there's a 'you' option, but only under the 'male' pool.

Liars deny they're goths. Nobody who has to say "we're not goths" are ever not Goths.

Posters have been replaced - for one week only - by valentines cards, because nothing says I love you like a picture of Fab ripped from a magazine.

the streets - astoria - "Skinner, still pushing things forward", 8
dogs - barfly - "a fearsome prospect",

various - the new cross - "unsigned bands. not shit.", 7
einsturzende neubaten - perpetuum mobile - "man versus machine versus nature", 8
probot - probot - "enjoy the darkness",8
preston school of industry - monsoon - "like the cure after eight months locked in a deserted nashville bathroom", 6

sotw - bubba sparxx - deliverance - "a real heart of uncertainty"
auf der maur - followed the waves - "FM metal juddering"

Pudgy faced love god James Walsh from Starsailor loves Celine Dion. Okay, he doesn't, he chooses Dion; the only thing he has in common with Bobby Gillespie.

And finally, Conor McNicholas popped up in media guardian this week, choosing the My Media stuff. He thinks that Blender has a lot to teach us (that putting half naked women on the cover of a magazine otherwise indistinguishable from mid-90s Q sells?) and that, online, he rates... erm, Which is a good rolling news service, but isn't a very imaginative choice.

AN UNORDERED Q FOR THE EXIT?: A whole new set of magazine circulation figures have arrived, and things don't look good for the increasingly rudderless Q, down 10 per cent over the year and on its third editor in two years. Felix Dennis is rumoured to be considering bringing Maxim Blender to the UK, which can only do further harm to a title which seems to be uncertain of who its writing for and what its writing about. The NME had a curatey eggy one per cent drop year-on-year, which while not an absolute disaster will be disappointing after twelve months of frenzied activity, relaunches and promotion. The comfort for Kings' Reach Tower will be the continued roll back of the pure rock competition - NME is at 72,557, while Kerrang dropped nearly a fifth over the year to 69,961. The dance magazine market is drying out faster than Diana Ross on D-wing, with remaining titles Mixmag off about 16 per cent to just above 50,000; DJ dropped ten percent and now manages to sell a scant 14,492 issues every month.

Uncut continues to thrive - now selling over 110,000 every issue while Mojo is also up slightly at about 104,000 each month, proving you can't go wrong with endless features about Bob Dylan. Over in the boobies and men-with-spikes-in-their-head sector, FHM, Maxim and Loaded are all down on where they were this time last year, but their sales drop seems to have steadied by the end of 2003. After a long period of ailing, Arena seems to be storming back, sales rising by over a quarter; Jack seems to have pulled itself off the abyss for a while, as the new format (and embrace of near naked ladies) has boosted sales by 17 per cent. In the lady arena, Marie Claire's decision to try and wean itself off covermounted gifts seems to have lead to readers deciding to wean themselves of Marie Claire - about ten per cent of their readers have turned their back.

ALANIS CAN WAIT: It might just be us, but we can't see too many people getting upset that Alanis Morissette's new album has been put back a month to May - we've not had to fight our way past people queuing outside the Virgin Megastore to be first with the new songs.

NEW OLD JONES: Some old stuff recorded by George Jones for the Louisiana Hayride show in the 50s has turned up and is being stuck out on CD. Included in there is a version of Walk Through This World With Me he performed shortly before his marriage to Tammy Wynette, an early example of a fan marrying their idol. Like David Gest, though, they discovered it was less about 'Stand By Your Man', more about DIVORCE.

CROSS SECTION: What would you imagine you had if you walked into a room with Missy Elliot, Chloe Sevigny, Christina Aguilera, Boy George and Linda Evangelista in it? Us, we'd assume that the glorious moment of revolution had come, and that this was merely the first fruits of the vans driving out in the streets to round up those who will be sent to re-education (we're being too kind - education camps); but it turns out we'd be wrong. They are, apparently, all you need to represent everybody in the world. That's according to MAC comestics President John Dempsey, who said they'd been chosen as the new spokesteam for Viva Glam, the Aids benefit make up because they represent the "many faces of AIDS patients — all ages, all races, all sexes." Reassuring for Asia to hear that they're exempt from Aids, and wonderful news that only young people are likely to be living with disease. On one hand, it's great that Viva Glam has earned USD32million for various Aids charities over the years; on the other, cultural insensitive much?

NO, NOW, WON'T DO: EMI has rejected the News of the World's proposed apology to Kylie and the label. The paper ran a feature on the singer claiming she was signing a new deal with her label for GBP35million, which turned out not to be true. It seems the News had run with the story on the basis of a single source - the kind of thing it's daily sister paper was very quick to condemn the BBC for after the Hutton report, so we're imaging that there's going to be a big splash on the front of The Sun tomorrow. The Press Complaints Commission ruled the story rubbish, and praised the NOW's deal with EMI to publish an apology in the same part of the paper that the story ran.

Only problem is, EMI claims it had never agreed to any deal, and wanted to have an apology that was more prominent than the story. Looks like it's now Murdoch's move.

IT'S LIKE C-86 FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T REMEMBER WHAT A C-90 WAS: The We Love You rocky offshoot label from Wall of Sound has released an album that's so now, you can practically see your future in it, a compilation of new bands are their quirky take on the modern beat. Or something. We Love You, So You Love Us Three (and not 'love us there', as we kept thinking it said) offers these:

Electric 6 – ‘Synthesizer’
Mother And The Addicts – ‘They Don’t Even Like You’
Franz Ferdinand – ‘Darts Of Pleasure’
The Tropics – ‘Soon You’ll Be Mine’
Zoot Woman – ‘Woman Wonder’
Scissor Sisters – ‘Laura’
Fakesensations – ‘Selfish Girls Stay Thin’
Diefenbach – ‘Make Your Mind’
The Earlies – ‘Morning Wonder’
The Superimposers – ‘Would It Be Impossible’
The American Analog Set – ‘Hard To Find’
Grand National – ‘Playing In The Distance’
Whitey – ‘Why You Have To Be Me’
LCD Soundsystem – ‘Give It Up’
Ludes – ‘Your Dog Don’t Bark’

Very little there to trouble your fast-forward finger.

QUICK! BEFORE HER FACE MELTS: Cher, who is on her farewell tour, has announced her UK & Ireland leg dates. She'll be sitting astride a giant gun and performing at least three costume changes a song at May 8 - Dublin, The Point; 9 - Belfast, Odyssey Arena; 11 - Glasgow, SECC; 14 - Birmingham, NEC Arena; 17 - Manchester, MEN Arena; 19 - Sheffield, Hallam FM Arena; 21 - London, Wembley Arena.

Cher's explained her decision to stop touring thus: ""Deciding to stop is partly an age thing," she said. "The only person I know of my age who's still doing this is Tina Turner. I'm doing things on stage that would choke a girl of 20." Kind of like Michael Hutchence, then?"It's not the performing that's hard, it's the going from place to place, always travelling and staying in strange hotel rooms every night. I'll still be around, it's not like I'm going to leave the universe - I just won't tour again." She also forgot to mention that even the less cynical American public do like to have a farewell tour and a gap of at least six months before they'll shell out extra for a comeback date.

Garfunkel Fights Pot Charges - Fox News, 29th January 2004 [Quoting an Associated Press report, but other media outlets picked up on the AP's caution and ran headlines with a query at the end; Fox provided a more certain headline]
Singer Art Garfunkel Admits to Pot Charge - Associated Press, 12th February 2004. (He's getting a hundred buck fine).

THE ANTI-COWELL: We had no idea Oprah was leaping on the Pop Idol bandwagon - although we'd imagine that The Winfrey will be a lot more constructive with sweaty fat blokes trying to knock out You Sexy Thing without grasp on either tune or tone.

One of the finalists was apparently a gynecologist, which throws up the possibility of a really crude punchline about how he'd be used to be working with a bunch of... but no, we'll let it go this time.

ALL OUT OF LOVE: So, the new, together, reformed Courtney Love didn't show up for her court case. Her attorney muttered something about there being "security concerns" (what? Courtney can't go out when there's a yellow alert on?) and managed to get a stay on the arrest warrant the judge was itching to issue - she's got until Tuesday to pop in and say hi. But not showing up in court isn't the best way to get the judge on your side. This, of course, is the drug charges; she's also due in a different court on the charges arising from the smashing windows incident today. Assuming there are no scary looking bad men hiding in the bushes outside.

GROHL ON GARBAGE DUTY: In between an observation that she's spent five years mestruating, and sticking up for Janet's breast, Shirley Manson mentions Dave Grohl's been doing a spot of drumming for the new Garbage album.

MY GOD... COULD YOU IMAGINE THE CHILDREN?: Now he's out of prime time television, can we stop being given news stories about the totally charmless Peter Andre? Especially if they involve him having sex with Mel B. Peter says that he had a really 'spicy' (geddit) affair with her when they were both on a Smash Hits tour a few years back, claiming she was "fantastic in bed" - although obviously he wasn't, as she started doing Jimmy Gulzar behind his back. Probably fancied a man whose tits weren't bigger than her own, then. And, with all the worldiness of a twelve year old, Andre drools about her bisexuality:

"It's just a shame she never brought a friend home with her - now that would have been great!"

Yeah. Might have given poor Mel at least a chance of an orgasm. Although we can't shake the feeling Andre was just picturing two handbags full of hair products.

'I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING... DID I PLAY ALL THE BLINK 182 TRACKS? WELL, IN THE EXCITEMENT, I KIND OF LOST TRACK MYSELF. SO YOU'VE GOT TO ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION: DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, PUNK?': We don't believe a word of it, of course, but the AK47 with MP3 capability is a pleasing idea - there's the probability that even the RIAA's fake-SWAT team would think twice about seizing your illegally gathered Amy Winehouse tracks if they were stored on a gun; and, winningly, it's a step closer to the 'music bullet' format suggested by Chris Morris back when he did a Radio One show (it's a mighty long slope from Chris Morris to Chris Moyles, isn't it?).

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

POP PAPERS: There's a free gift with the NME this week, so - as seems to be the standard - it's not turned up yet. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring you WTPPS tomorrow at this time.

THIS MIGHT BE YOUR ACTUAL PIG IN YOUR ACTUAL POKE: Of course, we believe the Ebay lister who says what they are selling is the actual handwritten lyric to the Peter Andre song - if they're convinced, we're convinced. At the moment their conviction has earned them seventy quid...

HASTA ARISTA, BABY: So LA Reid wasn't leafing through the help wanted section of his local paper, as just a few days after Arista decided it could no longer afford his special talents, Reid has taken the chair at the top of Island Def Jam. We had been going to send him a care package, but now we shan't.

YOU COULD HAVE LEFT YOUR HAT ON: The only thing about Terri Clark turning down the offer of the front page of Playboy, of course, is that all these things are like honours from the government - the principled act of saying "No thank you" is kind of ruined by the going public with the announcement of your rejection - which seems to be like having cake, eating cake simultaneously.

CALM YOURSELVES DOWN: We're sorry to return once more to Ms Jackson, but NFL and Viacom execs are going to be dragged up to Capitol Hill to be shot ("to explain themselves.") There's a growing wind of faux-outrage being worked up as every two-bit right-wing group sees that this could be the button to press to ensure that newsreaders always wear ties in the future/there won't be any more of that punk music on the radio anymore/ABC will change its name to Jesus Loves You: "CBS gave everyone on the FCC, everyone in Congress, every parents' organization, every parent a slap in the face and said, 'Go to hell,'" said L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Parents Television Council, a conservative advocacy group.
"The wake-up alarm went off at the FCC," Bozell said. "Now what you're seeing are the commissioners taking a very strong public position on this."

This is actually a piece of rather deft footwork - the FCC had already lurched to right under Michael Powell's leadership; the week before the boob-bowl interface he'd announced his intention to get tough on the purveyors of filth onscreen - so if Janet was a wake-up call, it was one of those that comes after you've been lying in bed for half an hour wondering if the clock is actually telling the right time.

Elsewhere in America, the boss of the oscars Frank Pierson has denounced as post-Jackson five second delay as 'a form of censorship' on this year's telecast. Hmm, is this the same Oscars which warned last year that prizewinners would have the band turned on them if they made anti-war statements?

Back in Britain, Ofcom has issued a new set of judgements following viewer complaints [pdf]. We can't help but notice ofcom are lot less disapassionate in their reports than the ITC were - Little Friends is described as a 'comedy' (their quote marks); yes, it was rubbishly unfunny, but is it in Ofcom's remit to judge the artistic merit of a show as well as how it fits in with the regulatory framework? Big losers this time round were Top of the Pops, who get a rap for allowing Phixx to prance about like they were in a bondage club. Lord Ryder's BBC of course were quick to say 'yes, this is terrible, probably Greg Dyke's fault' although Ofcom seems to be more worried that kids seeing the routine would be likely to copy the dance and strangle themselves rather than develop a taste for bondage, whipping, and so on.

TATU REMOVAL: Remember Tatu? The band that everyone used to talk about before Janet Jackson's tittie? It turns out the whole lesbian thing was - I can't believe this - a stunt invented by their manager. Now, Lena and Julia are planning on dumping Ivan Shapovalov (perhaps, if they haven't actually split up) because they believe "our fans would rather hear new songs and new albums than new scandals." Perhaps, although we've a sneaking feeling that anyone still interested in Tatu would rather see some more flesh and a spot of fisting than hear a new single, but what would we know? They won't be able to work under the Tatu banner, though, which belongs to Shapovalov - presumably he'll just find a couple of other girls and some leather strapping?

HENRY, YOU'RE PLAYING CATCH-UP: Sorry to hear that former Classic FM presenter Henry Kelly has gone bankrupt, following a huge tax demand from the Inland Revenue. Since Classic dumped him to make room for Simon Bates - Simon Bates - Henry's been in charge of drivetime on LBC.

NOT QUITE THE THREE TENORS, IS IT?: Peter Hook, Andy Rourke and Mani - unquestionably, three members of three of the greatest manchester bands. We're not sure them all working together on a triple bass album is such a great idea, mind.

TIMBERLAKE TO MAKE EDISON SCREW: You'd have thought he might want to spend some time not being in front of cameras for a while, but Justin Timberlake is going to try something where he can at least do a retake if things go tits-up. Or, indeed, tits-out. Having read some words off some envelopes ("cohosted the MTV Movie Awards") and done some really stretching acting which involved him being Justin Timberlake and getting hugged ("hosted Saturday Night Live"), Justin's decided he's now ready for a big acting gig, playing a reporter alongside Morgan Freeman and Kevin 'aren't you meant to be in London saving live theatre?' Spacey. Justin's apparently going to "shadow" a real reporter to get a feel for the demands of the role (we've heard rumours of a pad with the words 'TYPING - YES; DRINKING COFFEE - YES; FEDORA WITH 'PRESS' TICKET TUCKED INTO BAND - NO'), but they're not mentioning who it is in case it interferes with their day job. (Because, of course, nobody would blink twice if Justin Timberlake just turned up following one of the 3am girls around, but if they knew he was coming...).

Let's hope his performance is altogether more convincing than his denials that the Jackson breast moment was an accident.

In other breast news, the man who sold the nipple shield to Janet has revealed that she only wanted one, which makes it look even more likely that the plan all along was to show off one bosom. Worth USD120, apparently.

THE ONLY CHART THAT COUNTS?: So, the final stage in the transformation of Liverpool's brave stab at an alternative radio station into just another Top 40 format background drone has been reached; Juice 107.6 is now carrying the Hit40 ("sponsored by Woolworths") on Sunday evenings. We're not entirely sure how this will fit with their already watered down promise of perfomance [word doc] to only play "credible" chart music - is it going to be like when they started talking libel in the jungle? Does a voice kick in "We're sorry, but for legal reasons we're unable to bring you the number one single this week"? Or has Juice finally decided that all the people who worked to get the station its licence (when it was still Crash) have finally all given up and gone away and don't care anymore?

In other regional radio news, we notice that Steve Penk - once seriously tipped as a Radio One Breakfast show host of the future - has wound up back where he started, at Key103. Never mind, your star will live on in endless reruns of 'TV Naughty Slips' on the soon-to-be-launched ITV3.

ONCE AGAIN, CANADA ARE THE GUINEA PIGS: The whole Pixies reunion tour thing is to get its test in Canada this April, with their North Americas dates kicking off like this:

14 Burton Cummings Theatre, Winnipeg, MB CANADA
15 Doris Knight Ballroom, Regina, SK CANADA
17 Prairieland, Saskatoon, SK CANADA
18 Red's, Edmonton, AB CANADA
19 MacEwan Hall, Calgary, AB CANADA
21 Victoria Curling Club, Victoria, BC CANADA
22-23 Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC CANADA
24 Big Easy, Spokane, WA
25 The Big Easy, Boise, ID
27 MacDonald Theatre, Eugene, OR
29 Freeborn Hall, Davis, CA

[Thanks to Joel D]

TOUCH ME, I'M SICK: Chester Beddington is getting his moneys worth out of his health insurance. Having spent last summer writhing with back pain, now Linkin Park have had to pull dates because Beddington's in bed again - this time with bronchitis and laryngitis. See, the rock kids - see what happens when you go out without your vest?

END OF THE STONE AGE: Josh Homme has kicked Nick Oliveri out of Queens of the Stone Age. Oh, and the part-time help Mark Lanegan's gone, which really just leaves Josh, Ozymandias-like at the helm. It's probable that band will keep going in some form just so Josh can keep calling his side projects side projects.

IT'S OH SO QUIET: We're not sure its quite as scanadlous as some people seem to think, but because iTunes offers every track from the albums on its store, you're invited to pay 99 cents [or use your pepsi bottle lid] for some tracks which consist of silence. The track that kicked off the fuss was the second track from the Whitey Album, Sonic Youth's Ciccone Youth expermentalist side project, where you can pay your buck and enjoy a ninety second stretch of silence while you count your penny change. The question is, of course, should the 'silent' tracks have been left off the iTunes version of the album - or would that have lead to an equal series of squawks? It's only a couple of weeks since Radio Three played John Cage's all silent 4' 33" live, remember, so, um, quiet is the new loud.

And let's not forget that a total silence can be catnip to the hifiratti - a few years back the 'Alex' strip featured Alex and Clive listening to a CD in raptures; in the final panel it was revealed they were playing 4' 33" and their enjoyment was coming from the lack of hiss and crackle - something that we'd imagine the iPodettes would appreciate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

AND LET'S HOPE THIS IS THE LAST WE HEAR OF HIM:We really hope this is the last I'm A Celeb story we have to deal with, but we know from the logs that many of you are curious, so we feel kind of obliged to satisfy your baser instincts. Radio One have got an exclusive on Peter Andre singing Insania [RealPlayer]

SPIN CYCLE: We're a little surprised at the MediaGuardian website for basically handing a page over to Max Clifford to talk up his client Kerry McFadden. He's claiming she could milk the win on I'm A Celeb for two million quid - unlikely, we'd have thought, given that the previous best performing jungle escapee Linda Barker appears to have got two sofas and a large bottle of Liebfraumilch from Currys. After all, Tony Blackburn's career has been "reinvigorated" by winning season one to the extent that last weekend he appeared in an advert for a free CD giveaway in the Daily Express dancing like an arthiritic guardsman with really bad piles; Phil Tuffnell won the last one, and we've only seen him on that godawful With A Little Help From My Friends and, yes, plugging free gifts from newspapers. Kerry, though, has something they didn't have: an already rubbish career of presenting programmes - nobody who saw it can forget the horror of Britain's Sexiest, where Kerry's chest gave the eyes scant solace as they tried to avoid being dissolved in the complete lack of chemistry between McFadden and Michael Greco; her other big vehicle elimidate was dropped so quickly by ITV the website never quite got finished.

Kerry does also have Max Clifford on her side, and how can she go wrong with the man who originally suggested she shouldn't do the series at all now advising her how to make the best of her success? He at least knows how to keep the paying clients happy: talking about her first signing (for one of the less well-known brands of pasta sauce) he says "When I mentioned Sacla she said she uses it all the time. I know she likes Sacla because she has used it when I have had dinner with her. She is natural and saucy and loves Italy." And, probably, it's really difficult to get the stains she makes out of your shirt. Clifford seems to be eyeing up America, too - presumably on the basis that if American TV will let Tyra Banks and Sharon Osbourne host programmes, there's much less requirement to be able to read an autocue and follow production notes on that side of the Atlantic.

PIXIES BEST OF TRACKLISTING, ANYBODY?: Even if the band falls apart during its reunion tour, the Pixies best of is unstoppable. (Actually, haven't we already had a Pixies best of before? Death to the Pixies?. Anyway, it doesn't matter, because Wave of Mutilation is probably going to be better, or different, or something. Here's a side-by-side comparison* of what's on offer

Wave of Mutilation

01 Bone Machine
02 Nimrod's Son
03 The Holiday Song
04 Caribou
05 Broken Face
06 Gigantic [single version]
07 Vamos [Surfer Rosa version]
08 Hey
09 Monkey Gone To Heaven
10 Debaser [Doolittle version]
11 Gouge Away
12 Wave Of Mutilation
13 Here Comes Your Man
14 Tame
15 Where Is My Mind?
16 Into The White
17 Velouria
18 Allison
19 Dig For Fire
20 U-Mass
21 Alec Eiffel
22 Planet Of Sound
23 Winterlong [Neil Young]

Death to the Pixies
1. Cecilia Ann
2. Planet Of Sound
3. Tame
4. Here Comes Your Man
5. Debaser
6. Wave Of Mutilation
7. Dig For Fire
8. Caribou
9. Holiday Song
 10. Nimrod's Son
11. U-Mass
12. Bone Machine
13. Gigantic
14. Where Is My Mind ?
15. Velouria
16. Gouge Away
17. Monkey Gone To Heaven

* - well, one on top of the other, actually...

As we can see, in the new album time has been judged to make us all feel happier about Planet of Sound - which I'm far from certain is actually the case...

WOMAN BACKS DOWN: Terri Carlin, the bankworker who tried to milk cash from the Janet-Boob thing, has dropped her case because she realised she was coming across as something between a Pope and a Gold-digger and really had no case at all ("she has made her point.") In future, Ms Carlin, if you have something to say about something on your television, why not drop a short letter or email to TV Guide? You'll find it's an excellent way to air your views without making yourself look like you're grubbing for cash.

SINGLE LIFE THREATENED?: The BPI have confirmed that singles sales continue to tank in the UK - down by almost a third between 2002 and 2003. Naturally, of course, it'd the downloaders who are to blame, although the same BPI statement proves this to be utter hoofstones. Because album shipments rose by just over four percent in the same period - are we expected to believe that people have no qualms about "stealing" singles but draw the line at the thought of downloading ten tracks from the same artist - like a shoplifter who'll happily pilfer an item each at Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's but wouldn't dream of taking their coffee, whiskey and cat food from just one store? Hello, BPI.... your own figures state that 62% of albums now go for less than a tenner - you really don't think that might account for why people might be buying more albums, less four-quid-for-three-track singles? Really?

Of course, we're not meant to be talking about the sales figures at all right now, because the BPI were so worried by the damage the headline sales figures might do their member's share prices, they wanted to keep it all quiet until after the Brit Awards. The Guardian reports the head of press for the group, Steve Redmond, writing "This is a stunning result considering the pressure the business is under worldwide, but needless to say we can expect most focus on the singles figure. We would 'normally' release [these figures] in the course of next week, but I guess we will want to steer clear of the Brits." Ah, well. The Guardian bounced them into releasing the figures anyway - but the desire to keep them quiet is still puzzling - yes, the singles slump might have got the headlines (although surely it's the Press Office's job to stop that from happening?) but there would have been a chance to glide into the Brits on a cushion of 'Album Sales Rise.' We wonder if the real problem is that the BPI just looks ridiculous banging on about the evils of music downloading and how it's killing music against a backdrop of retailers calling up ordering more and more boxes of albums - wonder if they've been planning a Grammy-style lecture slot for the awards?

Elsewhere in the sales data, it's confirmed that legal downloads are already the second biggest singles format there is - 150,000 were tracked by the BPI in January, outstripping vinyl, cassingles and DVD singles. They're going to integrate download sales into the charts later this year, which raises a number of philosophical questions: if more downloads are being sold than many of the formats which currently make up the chart, how distorted is that making the current Top 40? Remember, a few hundred sales can these days be the difference between number one and not being in the top ten at all - have we been doing a horrible injustice to Victoria Beckham, pronouncing her career as dead as Peter Andre's nipples when,. maybe, all along, she's been selling loads to the clicking kids through the air (we're making a wavy finger gesture like the bloke in the IBM advert here, of course)? More to the point, when the download chart does start, and when the sales of downloads become integrated into the Top 40, how exactly is that going to work? In the past, indie bands who flogged their own seven inch singles from a plastic bag at the end of their gigs never used to have those sales added to figures returned from proper shops, but we'd be talking about ten or twenty copies at most. Now, though, a band like Ash could sell tens of thousands downloads through their own website - how will the chart company track this data? Or will everything have to go through a 'recognised' download site like OD2 or iTunes, in which case isn't that re-intermediating the central services which the internet has, hitherto, disintermediated? Will bands who had just been set free by the ability to make and sell their own stuff, online, how they choose and priced at what they feel fair suddenly have to surrender that freedom to be in with a chance of some publicity from Wes Butter's marvellous chart rundown and a crack at Top of the Pops?

More importantly, how can downloads be judged fairly against a CD single. If you flick through the British Hit Singles book, you'll find examples where albums charted in the singles run down because the 'singles' chart wasn't really a singles chart at all - it was simply a list of the best selling records, which in a thousand cases out 1001 would be singles. Sometimes, though, an especially popular album could turn up in the list. So the rules were changed, a separate album chart created, and so on. And the situation has held quite well (despite a lot of fiddling about what constitutes a 'single') so that the Top 40 consists of records more-or-less entirely sold on the basis of a single track. You can point at a disc in a shop, it'll have three tracks on it, led by one strong one. Fair enough. Now, zip forward to when downloads are being counted in, and imagine that Thom Yorke has produced ten shiny new Radiohead tracks, which he makes available online as individual downloads. Radiohead fans being quite techy, it's possible that the Top Ten that week could suddenly be all Radiohead (which would be kind of funny... we're picturing the audience curve for the Hit 40 on the ILR network). Is that fair? No, we don't really know what the answer is - it doesn't seem to be fair on other acts that such a situation could happen (although this fictional week could be a good one for Supatonic to bury their release in); equally, though, how could you treat the ten downloads as anything other than ten singles? Without resorting to some stupid rule that would immediately render the inclusion of downloads in the chart pointless? Which is, of course, what we're betting is going to happen.

'ME, TOO': Probably afraid that his catsuits and dinosaur/spaceship humping looks slightly tame in the face - or whatever body part - of Janet Jackson's consensus shifting breast, Justin Hawkins is telling Americans that his trousers split while on "a TV Show in Wales" and one of his testicles fell out. We're wondering why we've not heard of this incident before - we're presuming it must have been for S4C? Unless HTV is doing a network rock show of which we've not heard? Does anyone have any details? Or could this be a bit made-up?

MTV IS BROUGHT TO YOU IN ASSOCIATION WITH PURITAN MAID: Oh, don't think the Janet Jackson breast has stopped wreaking its havoc amongst Americans. MTV is now shifting six "racy" videos off its daytime slate and will only be showing the likes of Britney's Toxic when the bairns are abed. An MTV speakperson said We always take into account what the cultural environment is on an ongoing basis. Given the particular sensitivity in the culture right now, we're erring on the side of caution for the immediate future." Both MTV and Viacom deny this "erring on the side of caution" comes from the parent company.

It's not just saucy spots that are getting the shove; anything that could be slightly troublesome is being pulled off - Blink 182, Maroon 5 and Incubus' flying Hitleresque angel has also been deemed unacceptable in the daylight. Justin Timberlake's fingers may yet have unleashed a whole new stream of dumbing down in the record industry.

DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT MEEEEEEP: Jim Kerr goes techno - or attempts to pull off a Bryan Adams, as it's technically known, re-recording an old hit hand-in-hand with the White Spaces. It's a harmless enough way to spend your retirement.

EXCEPT ME AND MY MONKEY: Werner Boehm, the German pop star, has been told by his wife that he's going to have to choose between her and his new love, a co-star from a recent video he made who he's moved into their family home. Well, nobody likes being cuckolded by a monkey, do they?

KERRY WINS: We'll bet they're having fun with that over at the White House - "Sir, Kerry has won the top prize...", watching George reach for the bedside bottle of pretzels before revealing that it's Kerry McChipshop who has beaten off all comers to take the I'm A Celebrity crown this time round. One in the eye for those of us who predicted that she'd never be able to make it to the end of any series without getting cancelled, I suppose, and a pleasing tale of the victory of genuine breasts over a pair of plastic tits. And it's not just Peter Andre and John Lydon that she defeated, either, Jordan was apparently in the programme at some point, too. So, it's hairnets off to Kerry, Chipshop queen of the jungle:

salt and vinegar, sir?

In the course of her time under Granada's big tarpaulin in the woods, Kerry has revealed she once got a bit upset and locked herself in the toilets ("hand a nervous breakdown") and that she once sold her parrot "to buy tampons" - she seemed to think this story showed how poor she was; to us it makes us wonder why she didn't have a mate she could have borrowed a couple off of. She claimed that she fancies Jordan, which is almost the same as staring into a rather shallow pool and falling in love, and decided to give up smoking because she didn't eat enough bugs or something. Nobody can't say she didn't really earn her large fe... um, cash that will go to her favourite charity.

If there's anyone with any sense at whoever handles the McCain HomeFries account, they'll be waiting for her when she returns to Britain with a large contract to do a timely "Now you can have your chips at home" TV spot.

GRAMMY MOUNTAIN HIGH: We've received an overview of the Grammy bunfight from Becky Bamboo, our American-at-large (Oddly, although there are about 300 music channels on Sky, and Living carries the Golden Globes, nobody shows the Gramps over here. You'd be more likely to see the Daytime Emmys.):

Aside from Prince kicking ass last night (I yelled down the hall that Amy needed to throw on her Purple Rain t-shirt and come dance with us in my room) I was pretty disappointed. I flipped back and forth during the whole thing but what I saw was not great.

Kory and I were united on our hatred of the Beatles tribute - Sting, Dave Matthews, and Vince Gill? Please. Vince was the only one to come out sounding halfway decent. Clearly they were trying for the same kind of thing as the Clash tribute, but that one featured Elvis Costello, Bruce Springstein, and Dave Grohl. No contest there. We made the "ewwww" face through the whole thing. Oh, and Sting continued the ew with his performance with Sean Paul. Not even wearing a skirt could make me forgive him for shitting over The Police. I swear if he touches "Message in a Bottle" I will hunt him down and kill him myself.

Meg White wasn't wearing a bra - big surprise - but she was wearing black. I guess they're mixing it up now. I don't know whose bright idea it was to shine the lights directly at the audience and camera during the performance so no one could see them though, because that sucked.

What in the holy hell was with the Luther Vandross stuff? I know the guy had a stroke and all but you'd think he was, like, CULTURALLY RELEVANT or something for all the praise that was heaped on him. And *two* of his songs get performed? What the fuck ever. It's not like he's Al Green or Otis Redding or anything. Same goes with Warren Zevon. Sure the guy was cool and Dave Letterman loved him, but I bet if you stopped 10 people on the street, only 1 could name a song of his and even then it would only be "Werewolves of London."

Oh, and have I expressed my hatred of the whole "In Memorium" thing that every awards show does yet? And how people clap for their favorites? It's like one last fucking popularity contest. Ugh.

The funk segment was all right. I flipped over in the middle, but flipped back away when George Clinton came out. It just seemed a little forced to me.

Speaking of forced... I was even disappointed in the Outkast performance of "Hey Ya." Andre going shirtless was a nice touch but the rest of it was just too over the top. I know that Grammy performances are not known for subtlety, but handing out polaroids to the audience down front was just a little too much novelty-song for me. Especially since the song actually does have lyrics worth paying attention to other than those regarding photography.

Christina Aguilera looked like she was wearing a really bad wig and massacred "Beautiful" which I actually think is a lovely song. She just over-sang it. Which is, I know, like complaing water is wet, but still. Go listen to Clem Snide singing it - you'll see what I mean.

Justin Timberlake though.. well, I actually liked his performance. I still don't buy the whole "it was an accident" defense of the "incident" but then again, I didn't think it was that big of a deal either. And how horrible and completely sexist that Janet Jackson was basically univited to present, yet they had no problem with JT up there accepting a bunch of awards and performing. What a bunch of double standard bullshit.

And speaking of bullshit - how about that RIAA guy? When he came out I was cringing in anticipation of the lecture I was sure was to come and was pleasantly surprised by the "don't take music out of the schools" speech... until it turned into the downloading lecture. What a load of crap. And that PSA was absolutely ridiculous. They have a bad business model and put out a shit product. Therefore the customers have to be in the wrong. Yeah, that works. Bullshit.

Monday, February 09, 2004

BAD GIRLS: After her little drunk driving escapade, Diana Ross has been sentenced to 48 hours chokey. Although, rather sweetly, she's allowed to choose when she wants to go, within the next month, like it's some kind of jail flexitime or something.

BRAGG PUTS FORWARD HIS PROPOSALS: Billy Bragg has been telling Lord Falconer how he'd like to see the House of Lords replaced - he wants an elected upper house. Which is a great idea, but... which democratic process gave Bragg his platform to get the Lord Chancellor's ear?

ROCK AND ROLL LEADER: So, despite his closeness to Lord Birt, the man who nearly wrecked the BBC, Mark "Call me Mark" Byford is doing his bit to seem as loose and approachable as his predecessor Greg Dyke rather than his mentor. The acting DG apparently goes to a gig every week and "cites Franz Ferdinand, The Flaming Lips and Asian Dub Foundation among his favourites." On the other hand, he did slip away from his family to go and see Paul Weller. And, even more worryingly, he's old mates with Geoff Hoon.

VALENTINES GIFT: Apparently, one day, we might wake up to discover My Bloody Valentine box sets galore. Of course, we're delighted by the news that virtually everything they ever did is going to be made available again, although we're slightly vexed that our pension plan (which consisted mainly of early Valentines stuff) has just been knocked for six. Let's just hope that Telescopes Perfect Needle 12" holds its value, eh? Box One will consist of This Is Your Bloody Valentine (1985); Geek EP (1985); The New Record By... EP (1986); Sunny Sundae Smile EP (1987); Strawberry Wine EP (1987); Ecstacy (1987) and the previously untouched Live 1984-87 2xCD; Box Two will be the oddities collection, with You Made Me Realise EP (1988); Feed Me With Your Kiss EP (1988); Isn't Anything alternate versions and outtakes [previously unreleased]; Glider EP (1990); Tremolo EP (1991); Loveless alternate versions and outtakes [previously unreleased]; Live 1987-92 3xCD [previously unreleased]. We should stress here that this is all unofficial, and we're not talking about anything that's going to happen in Supatonic's lifetime - late next year; maybe early 2006, but compared with how long you'd be waiting, say, for Kevin Shields to turn up if you'd arranged to meet him in the pub, that's almost nothing. There could also be a DVD, but then that wouldn't be unexpected if they were sticking out boxes anyway.

In other box set go news, Siouxie and The Banshees are meant to be releasing a cuboid compendium of their own; this is going to be happening a lot more nearer to where we are now.


... because we'd have written an essay to be allowed to keep Meg White in a hutch. Look, she's dressed up as a rabbit to help out friend's bands. Do we need any further proof that Meg should drop Jack and go solo?

BOOKS FOR BOYS: According to the ever-reliable remember the eighties, the publication date for the second volume of Sunday Express contributor Boy George's autobiography, Straight, has been put back "so that the singer can include details of the New York Broadway production Taboo." We're a little lost as to how long it will take to do that, though, as we can type "Roise pumped in millions; nobody liked it; nobody came; it closed after 100 performances" in about ten seconds. Anyway, he's got until mid-2005 to come up with a plausible explanation - we're guessing it'll be the critics' fault.

SMALL GRAMMY POINT: Apparently Eminem's best rap vocal award was dealt with before the Grammy television coverage kicked in - blimey, are they still smarting from that jibe at them in the Real Slim Shady?

I AM A SERIOUS ARTIST: Norah Jones has told her label to scrap a dancey remix of Don't Know Why. (Older readers will remember Norah as the Beyonce of the 2003 Grammy Awards.) Apparently, Norah dismissed the thought of anything as commercial as a dance mix with the words "The reason people liked it in the first place was that it wasn't commercial... I didn't sign to a classic jazz label to be pushed down everybody's throat." (So, probably not a good time to float the FHM photoshoot idea, Blue Note). It's a touching display of failing to understand how record labels work, isn't it? There's Norah, signing up thinking "ah, a proper record label - a life of artistic credibility" and Blue Note putting their name on the deal thinking "ah, a pretty young girl - crossover sales and perhaps a way of bringing new audiences in."

We're also enjoying the idea that Norah believes people are playing her single and going "this is so non-commercial, it's brilliant, innit?" "Yeah, I really dig its lack of accessability."

GRAMMYLICIOUS: So, it was Beyonce's night (five awards) at a Grammy awards so sober, Coldplay won a prize. We're slightly confused what the actual difference between 'record of the year' and 'album of the year' is, but record was Clocks by Coldplay; album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast. We presume that Elephant winning best alternative album officially means that Coldplay cannot be considered indie in any sense any more, officially at least. Although are White Stripes alternative or rock? Because while Elephant took the alternative album prize, seven nation army took the best rock song prize. Coldplay, Outkast, Beyonce, White Stripes - the Grammys, Brits and Brats have finally become one, haven't they?

As ever, the awards was a roaring success for the halt and the lame, with Johnny Cash, George Harrison, Warren Zevon, June Carter Cash and the survived-just Luther Vandross picking up prizes - well, not picking them up as such, but you get the point. Oddly, though, nothing for Barry White; and even more oddly, Johnny Cash's award was for making the best pop video (Hurt, of course) rather than for his music, which seems like praising Jesus because of his beard.

Christina picks up the 'ooh, listen - six or seven different notes a word' Whitney Houston memorial prize for best female pop performance on Beautiful, thereby ensuring we're going to get another twelve months of 'woo-OOOO-oooo-00000-aaaaa' strewn ballads; Timberlake's squeaking through Cry Me A River was best male pop vocal performance. Sting won a prize, but that's the law, isn't it? (Best pop collaboration for his work with Mary J Blige) and Kylie picked up a small gramophone statue for Come Into My World, the best dance recording.

Perhaps the oddest award is for Mikhail Gorbachev, who shares his prize for reading bits of Peter and the Wolf with Sophia Loren and Bill Clinton.

Here's the winners - not in full, because that goes on forever

Record of the year
Clocks - Coldplay

Album of the year
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - OutKast

Song of the year
Dance With My Father - Luther Vandross

Best new artist

Best female pop vocal performance
Beautiful - Christina Aguilera

Best male pop vocal performance
Cry Me A River - Justin Timberlake

Best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal
Underneath It All - No Doubt

Best pop collaboration with vocals
Whenever I Say Your Name - Sting and Mary J Blige

Best pop instrumental performance
Marwa Blues - George Harrison

Best pop vocal album
Justified - Justin Timberlake

Best dance recording
Come Into My World - Kylie Minogue

Best traditional pop vocal album
A Wonderful World - Tony Bennett & kd lang

Best female rock vocal performance
Trouble - Pink

Best male rock vocal performance
Gravedigger - Dave Matthews

Best vocal rock performance by a duo or group
Disorder in the House - Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen

Best hard rock performance
Bring Me To Life - Evanescence feat Paul McCoy

Best metal performance
St Anger - Metallica

Best rock song
Seven Nation Army - The White Stripes

Best rock album
One By One - Foo Fighters

Best alternative album
Elephant - The White Stripes

Best female R&B vocal performance
Dangerously In Love 2 - Beyonce

Best male R&B vocal performance
Dance With My Father - Luther Vandross

Best vocal R&B performance by a duo or group
The Closer I Get To You - Beyonce & Luther Vandross

Best traditional R&B vocal performance
Wonderful - Aretha Franklin

Best urban/alternative performance
Hey Ya! - OutKast

Best R&B song
Crazy In Love - Beyonce feat Jay-Z

Best R&B album
Dance With My Father - Luther Vandross

Best contemporary R&B album
Dangerously In Love - Beyonce

Best female rap solo performance
Work It - Missy Elliott

Best male rap solo performance
Lose Yourself - Eminem

Best rap/sung collaboration
Crazy In Love - Beyonce feat Jay-Z

Best rap song
Lose Yourself - Eminem

Best rap album
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below - OutKast

Best country song
It's Five O'Clock Somewhere - Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett

Best country album
Livin', Lovin', Losin', Songs Of The Louvin Brothers - Various Artists

Best bluegrass album
Live - Alison Krauss + Union Station

Best traditional tropical Latin album
Buenos Hermanos - Ibrahim Ferrer

Best salsa/merengue album
Regalo Del Alma - Celia Cruz

Best traditional folk album
Wildwood Flower - June Carter Cash

Best contemporary folk album
The Wind - Warren Zevon

Best reggae album
Dutty Rock - Sean Paul

Best traditional world music album
Sacred Tibetan Chant - The Monks Of Sherab Ling Monastery

Best contemporary world music album
Voz D'Amor - Cesaria Evora

Best spoken word album for children
Prokofiev: Peter And The Wolf/Beintus, Wolf Tracks - Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev & Sophia Loren

Best engineered album, non-classical
Hail To The Thief - Radiohead (Nigel Godrich and Darrell Thorp, engineers)

Producer of the year, non-classical
The Neptunes

Best classical album
Mahler: Symphony No 3; Kindertotenlieder - Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor, San Francisco Symphony

Best orchestral performance
Mahler: Symphony No. 3 - Pierre Boulez, conductor, Vienna Philharmonic

Best short form music video
Hurt -Johnny Cash

Sunday, February 08, 2004

THEY THINK YOU'RE STUPID: Considering that hardly a single advert sneaks out these days without being tested to destruction and beyond, it's curious that The Recording Academy, the Grammys people, have screwed up their radio and TCV anti-downloading spots so badly. They're running adverts which scold the music downloader, but they're based on the assumption that - in the words of their President Neil Portnow - "people still do not realize why it's illegal." The Academy have built an incredibly patronising website what's the download to explain why. What they don't realise is that people know exactly what the arguments are supposed to be - but don't buy them. Buying a major label download won't make the difference between there being any more new music or not; it might help service the massive debt of a French Sewage company.

There's much else to explore on Whats The Download - spending a couple of minutes will allow you to harvest a whole bunch of interesting facts you might never have known because, erm, they're not actually true. For example, apparently, "The downloading of music from the Internet really exploded when the MP3 format became available". Odd, because the format became available at the end of the 80s, and yet we don't really recall anyone rushing about with Morrissey's solo music on their Amigas. We could have sworn that the downloading of music took off with the launch of Napster. Likewise, apparently the courts "agree" with the RIAA that downloading music files is just like stealing a CD from a store - although no case has yet come to court where a person has been accused of downloading a file, and certainly no court has handed down a judgement where they draw a direct comparison between file sharing and theft of a CD - they're thinking of "an advert with Britney Spears in", which isn't quite the same thing as a court of law. And so on.

They've at least provided a message board, which at the time of writing seems to only have been discovered by anti-RIAA types. We wonder if messages like this, with links to and the like survive postmoderation.

BREAK OUT?: We're a little surprised that Dave Grohl is so aggressively against Janet's breast and the Aguilerian music-in-the-nack stylings of a lot modern pop. "Get them on the Playboy Channel" he wails, oddly determined to rid MTV of women who deliver their music in a state of some undress. How puzzling. I wonder why?

Courtney Love's new album, Miss America, is released this month

ON THE WINGS OF LOVE: In an industry stuffed with bitter people and musicians desperate to make us listen to their new stuff, rather than the things that people actually like, we're pleased to be able to tip our hat to Jeffrey Osbourne. He's relatively relaxed that he's kind of a musical equivalent of Santa, mainly in demand once a year (in his case, around February 14th) and, more importantly, not that bothered that people who come to his gigs are more interested in his hits than the more recent stuff. Indeed, he's one of the few artists who manages to think like a gig-goer:

"There are so many hits from the past, songs they've grown up with. I feel when you start injecting new material, it breaks up the flow a bit. It doesn't bother me -- I feel better not force-feeding people something to promote my new CD. When I go to a show, it usually pisses me off too when (artists) end up playing five or six songs for their new album."

DEFENCE HANGING BY A NAIL: So, the big secret evidence Phil Spector's defence is calling on is Lana Clarkson's nail. It's supposedly meant to be blackened by gunpowder which might indicate that she was holding the gun which killed her. Perhaps. We were a bit disappointed as we were hoping the headline was suggesting that Jimmy Nail was going to be used as evidence; perhaps his contention that women lie was going to be used, calling on his forensic expertise.

SUPATONIC FANS - THEY HAVE CLAWS WHICH HURT: Ah, never suggest that pretty boys might be all eyes and no larynx, otherwise you'll find yourself getting attacked by their fans. And Supatonic fans are really scary when they get riled. Apparently this "biogspot" is "typical lazy journalism of the Sun genre" which gets its kicks "dishing people without proper research."

Apparently, it would have been alright to dismiss Supatonic as reality TV chancers if I knew for certain they were untalented karaoke singers, but I overlook that "amongst all the dross tryers are pros and semipros." No, not really. The thing about Popstars/Idol is, in the first series, contestants could have been forgiven - just about - for thinking they were taking part in a series designed to discover and nuture new talent. However, by the end of the first series, it was clear what the point of the show was: bunch of untalented patsies giving Cowell something to throw his pisspoor insults at, with a sideplot of the discovery of the act with the most potential to produce the least offensive, bland, mass market tracks. I'm afraid that any 'professional' who believes that their talent is best served by appearing in what a cross between a blind auction and an agricultural show beauty contest has no interest in producing any great, life-affirming music; every interest in the shallow, fleeting pleasures of being on the telly at teatime. Pop Idol isn't Opportunity Knocks; it's Hey Look, That's Me. Talented people may appear on it by mistake, but only in the same way from time to time people who were able to dress themselves sometimes turned up on Jim Davidson's Generation Game.

Yes, there are loads of incredibly talented people out there who struggle to make it. Part of the problem they have is that record labels prefer to sign any old rubbish that have a spot of 'public recognition' from the telly rather than help grow genuine talent. The few decent acts who do manage to wangle a contract find that the charts are filled with the dross created by the run-off from the Fame Academy and Cowell fields, making their struggle all the harder.

But I understand Supatonic are now 'probably the top professional duo on the North Western circuit' and doing good work for the Greek Orthodox church. Which is great for them.