Friday, February 20, 2004

NO SALE: The only thing that's going to make Kylie feel a bit better about the slow sales for Body Langauge in the US - it didn't make the Top 40, despite that whole relaunch; perhaps America's gay men were too busy getting married in Frisco to go buy? - is that Courtney's album has debuted even further down the listings.

JOURNALISM BESMIRCHED: Harry Belafonte has condemned the media's treatment of Michael Jackson, claiming, in a somewhat over-the-top fashion that "no single individual has had influence in the world" like Jackson, which may come as something of a shock to Jesus, Churchill, Lenin, Stalin, George W Bush and... you get the point.

It's interesting that Belafonte is being presented as speaking out in support of Jackson for two reasons - first, because he hasn't, he's just taking a "lets wait and see what the courts tell us" stance; second, to support Jackson is a very difficult thing to do, given that you don't need to have the charges of child molestation to find very strong grounds to condemn him - remember the whole man who has been accused of kiddie fiddling in the past and was happy to pay off the accuser rather than prove his innocence in court going on television and happily announcing he shares his bedroom with young boys when their parents aren't around bit, Harry?

Where we do agree with Harry is that journalism is in a bit of a poor state - although most of the reports make room to mention in passing he's in Nairobi at the moment, we don't think any of the American domestic media managed to find even a line's worth of space for Belafonte's comments on poverty in Kenya.

UH-OH: It's worrying that Ryan Adams has started up his own record label to release stuff that his proper label won't. If anyone was ever in need of some help with their weakness at self-editing, it's Adams, surely?

ANANOVA DOESN'T GET OUT MUCH, DOES IT?: For some reason, Ananova is running a review of the first date of Pink's european tour. Now, you know we love Pink here, but can't help feeling that her career has gone into an odd U-turn: back doing songs she doesn't seem entirely comfortable with, and she's gone back to pink hair. Ananova apparently gasped as blow up dolls were undressed on stage. We do like the Aguilera-baiting singing of Beautiful to an inflatable doll, though.

FOR NELLY, IT WAS NEVER RIEN NE VA PLUS: In a fawning bid to impress someone famous, a Missouri casion is looking at a USD50,000 fine. It's claimed that the President Casino turned a blind eye to up to ten state gambling laws and let Nelly bet as much as he wanted by not forcing him and his eight person entourage to get the cards which ensures the limit of USD500 every two hours isn't being breached. Nelly himself isn't in trouble, because it's up to the casino to make sure the rules are stuck to. Even so, he might want to think about doing something less fraught next year - I hear McDonalds are very good for parties.

I suppose we're to assume if he kept going back for more chips, Nelly's a bit rubbish at gambling.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

'AND WOULD YOU RUB MY TITS AS WELL?': Someone in a position to know writes about the credit card rejection of Justin from the Darkness as reported in The Sun today. The reason why Justin's card wasn't accepted, he suggests, would be, erm, because it was a free bar. Which raises an interesting question: where was the Sun watching from if they didn't know the bar was free? Surely the Bizarre column would have been invited to the backstage knees-up if it meant anything? And yet there's no way you could be at the event and not know the drinks were free, surely?

FIRST RULE OF COMEDY, SPIKE...: Girls Aloud are, apparently, working away hard putting together a second album, but are - we're informed by their over-excited mailout - going to take a break to play some UK dates. And what venues will be rocking to the Sound of the Underground? The Royal Albert Hall, perhaps, or the Millennium Centre, Cardiff? Nope, Girls Aloud are going to be playing Butlins, Minehead. Now, it's true that the Sugababes are booked to play Butlins as well, but they at least have a red coat of dignity as the week is billed as "Sugababes at Bognor" and support comes from not-too-rubbish names: Javine, Peter Fame Academy, Alistair Fame Academy. Okay, not perhaps McCartney and Jagger, but you could at least close your eyes and pretend it's a really basic festival. Girls Aloud, meanwhile, have their 'event' billed as "Half Term weekend" - you have to poke about a bit to find them, and they're sharing the stage with Spangles The Clown, Captain Clueless and "Comedy from Paul Lavent." It's unclear if Cheryl Tweedy will be taking part in the promised wrestling, but Nadine is a safe bet to judge the who can put the most spaghetti down their trousers comepetition. No Rock can't hear you... hi-de-hi...

BOWMAN AND MURRAY?: Interesting that it seems Edith Bowman and Colin Murray are taking over the Mark & Lard slot - although this presumably is going to be as much related to the need to cover Sara Cox's show when she's on maternity leave...?

BACK IN THE MILKING SHED: In another major step to try and put people off the idea of going to Glastonbury at all, it looks like Paul McCartney's going to headline Sunday night this year. Also booked, according to Michael Eavis, are James Brown, Kings of Leon and Christie Moore, with possibles including The Strokes and... Oasis. So that's the Wooloworths Lennon and the genuine McCartney together at last, then.

WEB CALL FOR ACTION: Prepare yourself for Grey Tuesday - not a revolution of pensioners hacked off by council tax rises, but an online campaign to twart EMI's bid to block Dangermouse's Black/White album remix. The organisers are calling for websites to host the tracks for twenty four hours next Tuesday to somehow strike a blow for the power of the artist over the lawyer. Or something.

BENN AT BEDTIME: A few years back we went to see Mitch Benn doing live comedy in Liverpool, and were distraught when he came on carrying a guitar, as it's a very rare that anyone who sings their comedy is good enough to make an evening making eye contact with them anything more than uncomfortable. But, actually, Mitch is pretty funny, and he's got a wonderful ear which puts his parodies on a par with - often above - Phil Pope's work for Radio Active and Spitting Image. All of which is by way of a plug for Mitch Benn's Crimes against Music on Radio 4, tonight at 11pm.

YOU OFF, OUR KID?: As has been widely expected, there's no longer any room for people who actually like music in the Radio One daytime schedule any more, so Mark and Lard are leaving Radio One. And, sadly, the partnership that's been together since Marc Riley turned up to do a gossip slot on Hit The North on the old Radio Five, and has endured through the move to Radio One, what seemed like several series of Upstairs, Downstairs on UK Play, the breakfast adventure and the slinking off to afternoons is to be ended, as Radcliffe's heading off to join Radio Two and Riley's going to be joining 6Music. Doubtless they'll have their slot, if not their shoes, filled by new Radio One signings JK and Joel.

MORE BRIT HOT SCOOP: Ooh, that The Sun Bizarre column has it all - Justin Hawkins' gold credit card being refused as he tried to buy champagne backstage at the Brits - I'm not sure if the news is that he doesn't have a Titanium Card, or that he's up to his limit, or that he's actually stooping to buying his own drinks at a music industry bash; Cat Deeley got turned away from Justin Timberlake's table - apparently they didn't recognise her without a massive bottle rammed between her legs; and Missy Elliott shut herself in her dressing room for two hours - we're guessing with her head in hands wondering why God made her do that godawful version of Kiss. Maybe she was trying to remember exactly what she'd said about Michael Jackson.

LIAM LASHES?: Another police investigation into another Liam punches photographer incident - why on earth would anyone be taking pictures of Liam Gallagher these days? Is Q planning a 'where are they now' feature? And what was Liam doing at the Brits - the last time Oasis won anything there was in 1996.

COMMON GROUND: What could Jamie Cullum have meant when he said he more in common with 50 Cent than anyone else at the Brits? Was it the way everyone rolled their eyes and went "why?" when Jamie started to eviscerate The Love Cats in the same way they did when 50 Cent's died-on-its-arse film intro came on? Had he twigged that like 50 Cent, he's quite good if you're looking for an album to buy someone you don't know very well but not a must have purchase for yourself? No, he means he's been shot twice in the arm with an air rifle. 50, of course, has been shot nine times, though, which means to make Jamie come up to speed we need to shoot him seven times more.

NOBODY'S THAT MUCH OF A GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT, SURELY?: David Gest to marry Diana Ross? I suppose they've got one thing in common - they've both been in public barely in control of a careering vehicle that promises to turn at any minute into a car crash; Diana Ross went to prison for drink-driving; Gest married Liza Minnelli.

We wonder if he's trying to work his way through a list of icons. Brigitte Bardot: keep Saturdays in 2007 free...

MUSIC COMES TO NORTHERN IRELAND: This year's BBC Music Live target this year is to be Northern Ireland, bringing music and dancing and a spot of romance all over the country between April 23rd and May 3rd. There's little in the way of events announced yet, but in previous years the ML banner has brought forth much goodness in the way of tunes and events, and the BBC are apparently happy to link any musical event taking place in NI to the big event - so it's worth registering...

BANDS WHO BLOG: The Bare Naked Ladies have a blog, which allows you to follow them on tour. It's a lot more fun than actually following the Bare Naked Ladies on tour by traipsing from gig to gig would be, and oddly although we would rather slice ourselves into long, thin, bacony strips and be wrapped around Andrew WK's todger than ever hear a single moment of the BNL playing records, their blog is surprisingly enjoyable - especially their take on the Conan O'Brien/Toronto controversy - "perhas Canadians were just being their polite selves and obliging by being insulted."

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY: The people behind Creative Commons licences have just released their second online CD, Copy Me Remix Me. We're especially fond of the Emma's Mini track ourselves, and it all suggests there's a future to be had when the RIAA implodes. Which we're expecting to happen sometime around July.

DIDDY DO IT? (AGAIN): Puff the Magic Daddy is in court again. This time, he's giving evidence in a case which sees a Detroit DJ claiming P Diddy Bodyguards assaulted him. The incident dates back to 1999, and apparently followed Roger Mills asking Sean Combs about the death of the Notorious BIG. Combs told the court his "busy schedule" made it difficult for him to recall the incident - and it's true, there's a boy who has a lot on - driving away from nightclubs, getting J-Lo thrown into the cells over gun allegations, being sued by his driver, going to courtrooms all over the world - it's a wonder he can recall what stupid nickname he's currently using, never mind what happened back five years ago.

IT WASN'T ME: Four years on, and Billy Corgan at last reveals "the truth" about the Pumpkins split - it was all that James Iha's fault, see, and that statement about how he was tired of fighting and everything? Just a cover to save Iha from - from what, exactly? Did Corgan think that Iha would have been so overwhelmed with people trying to shake his hand for bringing increasingly embarrassing Smashing Pumpkins project to an end? The whole thing puzzles us - no, really. We're getting the feeling that back in 2000, Corgan was such an ego he wanted people to believe it was all his decision - his band, his way, his choice, his pulling of the plug; but with hindsight he's thought it might look better if he wasn't the one with the fingerprints all over the candlestick in the library, so he's now released this statement through his website which is designed to make him look so good, so caring...

Although the real bottom line is: It's the year 2004. Who really cares who it was who broke up a fantastically over-rated band in 2000, which was four years after they'd released Mellon Collie and had become obviously just destined to disappear up their own ass?

AT LAST, AN RIAA LAWSUIT WE CAN ALL ENJOY: Michele Scimeca, from New Jersey, is being sued by the RIAA under its scattergun threatening actions. But she's not going to take it. She took one look at the letter from the RIAA, telling her to pay up or else be dragged into an expensive court case, and she brought an action claiming extortion and racketeering against the music industry organisation. The Star-Ledger reports:

Scimeca's case... cites the Hobbs act: Paying the music labels would deprive her of money she could spend on interstate commerce, her lawyer explained. Because the so-called extortion papers were delivered via the postal system, and potentially affect Scimeca's bank account, her countersuit also cites mail- and bank fraud laws.

Clearly the RIAA is a big bunch of bullies, but it's not so clear if they're - legally speaking - racketeers. Scimeca's main problem will be getting her case in front of a jury, where she'd stand a good chance of winning; as with many things - it's all down to the judge.

NEVER MIND YOUR SCHOOL OF ROCK: Brooks Middle School in Oak Park is school of Blues - at least, they seem to have a lot of lessons which involve blues singers coming to class.

GOSPELOBIT: Doris Troy, the inspiration for gospel musical Mama I Want To Sing, died in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Born in Harlem, Doris was best known for her pop classic Just One Look, which she wrote with Gregory Carroll. The track went on to be a number two hit for the Hollies in the UK, a country she moved to in the late 60's. During her time in London she recorded an album for Apple, and provided backing vocals for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and the Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want.

In the musical, Troy - who took her stage name from Helen of Troy, and her writing credit Doris Payne from her maternal grandmother - sang the role of her own mother for fourteen years.

THICKY-THICKY DIMWITS TRY TO STOP RAP CONCERT: A bunch of ignorant fuckwits are trying to stop a Ludacris gig in Casper, Wyoming, because, erm, it's "forcing violent diversity" into "our" city - although, of course, the 'our' bit is debatable, as the fliers calling for the axing of the gig were distributed by the National Alliance who are based not in Casper, but, um, Alaska. Don't run away with the idea that the National Alliance are purely racist jerk-offs, though - they equally hate white rappers because they "promote a criminal culture." Apparently. And, you know, they talk kinda quick, which can be kinda tricky for a fellow to keep up with.

BUT HE'S NOT IN ANY FINANCIAL TROUBLE: It is, of course, a drop in the ocean compared with the 70 million supposedly owed to the Bank of America (wasn't he meant to be doing something about that on Tuesday?), but now the travel agent who booked Michael Jackson's flight back to justice is suing him, claiming he's not paid for his charter flight. And apparently Jacko's attorneys have kind of suggested that they'll get no money, despite Cynthia Montgomery having been his trusty travel agent for three years, and because "Jackson is a kind of a slow pay" she's always had to pony up the cash for flights in advance, getting paid back later. Memo to Michael: Probably not a good idea to piss off the person who does your travel arrangements when an emergency flit to someowhere non-extradity might be called for.

I STAND CORRECTED: Thanks to Matthew T for emailing us to point out that the upright finger missing from the Brat award held by Thom Yorke hadn't been photoshopped out, as we suggested, but had actually been snapped off, as we'd have known if we'd have looked properly at the big picture inside...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I THINK EVERYFINK'S GONNA BE OKAY: We wish we shared Nick Oliveri's optimism - he seems to think if he can just talk to Josh he'll be back in the Queens of the Stone Age in no time. He doesn't seem to be that bothered that he "can't get in touch with him." We've never actually seen a textbook example of denial, although his quote does miss out "he don't mean it; he's always doin stuff like this; he's just muckin' abaaht... I love you, Josh..."

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: NME eats itself edition
It's funny how Alex James never quite got round to slagging off the Brits off when Blur was winning them, but this week - with just the odd token nomination and not much point in them hiring a bus to get to Earl's Court - he decided the time was right to moan about it in the Guardian Review [Friday]. The main problem? No beer, apparently. Which suggests something very wrong in the British Entertainment Industry - can they really only put on a show when they're three sheets? (He apparently didn't know the 'dry' edict had been lifted for this week's festivities; not that you could have told.)

Of course, as we suggested before, the NME is suffering a little from being lumbered with last week's awards giving the issue a whiff of the chip papers. And there's the second composite cover in a row, a spot of over-enthusiastic photoshopping has taken the upright finger off the Brat award being held by Thom Yorke [Or So we thought. It actually turns out we were wrong - the finger was physically detached from the award.]. Alex from Franz Ferdinand looks like he's hoping for lead role in a remake of Blame It On The Bell Boy. Brody Dalle is biting her award. But a very nice dress. Oh, yes.

She's back on Page Three, in a non-composite embrace with josh Homme, who won an award presumably so that they'd both turn up and could have an epoch defining Rock Couple Pin-Up Shot. They look really mismatched - Brody could probably sleep in the wrinkles on Josh's head and we can't help but think of those cartoons when the Abominable Snowman falls in love with Daffy Duck - "I will hug him and squeeze him and call him Brody..."

The big picture is from the end of the NME tour (that's mentions of NME stuff on the cover, page 3 and pages 4-5), although its a pretty nifty capture of the moment when Marcie Bolen apparently unaware that Carrie Smith has smashed her head open - what is it with the Von Bondies and hospitalisation?

Josh pops up to talk about shitting on Nick Oliveri (this is at the NME awards show backstage, so that's 1,3, 4-5 and 6-7). "I love making music but it's more important to me to brothers with Nick" he explains, clearing things up not at all.

There's another NME tour in the offing, and The Vines are number one in the MTV2 chart (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8), but it's good news from the Streets - their work with Chris Martin has been dumped.

Peter Robinson will obviously have to rename himself the NME Peter Robinson, as there's no mention of anything sponsored on page 10 when he takes on Jamelia. Who's twenty-three, you know, which surprised us because we'd always assumed she was only a couple of years ahead of S Club 8. But there you go. PR tells her there was an outbreak of Smallpox on the day she was born in 1962, which causes her to gasp and say "That's the worst one." We're not sure what she means, and we know for a fact she's wrong when she insists "There's no scandal on the Open University." The tales we could tell...

63,100 people went to see the NME tour (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13); more interestingly, Ian Watkins from lostprophets is a dead ringer for Ned Murphy from Waste.

The letters page kicks off with someone who's "just returned from the NME awards" (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14) moaning that Funeral for a Friend fans are "the biggest dicks in the world." Oh, how we wish. And then you can win a signed table plan from - yes! - the NME awards (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15). Now, if there was a prize that allowed you to set the seating plan: that would be a prize worth winning.

Radar plan is Bloc Party. They believe that "rock is sold on a macho premise, discounting a whole cross-section of ideas in the process." Yeah, it's about time rock started to embrace its feminine side - will we ever see a rock star happy to wear a boa or make-up, or perhaps mince about the stage in a catsuit?

They slip in a refrence to Lady Sovereign's appearance at the NME Awards in a little piece on the side (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17)

black rebel motorcycle club - nme awards gig, brixton (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18) - "beautifully nonchalant" - oddly, there's no score barometer for the nme awards gigs
lostprophets - nme awards gig, astoria (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19) - "having the last laugh"
Har Mar Superstar - nme awards gig, astoria (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20) - "I stake my claim to my very own NME awards category, best fucking solo artist" - yes, HM reviews himself
The Music - nme awards gig, astoria (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) - "the music are the rave Jane's addiction"

There's then a "twelve pages of total rock excess" supplement (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23-35*) in which we discover Thom Yorke really likes Franz Ferdinand; Arthur Lee doesn't much care for Jet; Jack White thinks the NME brat award statue is "offensive" and tries to hide the rude finger; Kelly Osbourne - you might remember her preChristmas hit 'There's no-one Quite Like Grandma' - still hasn't got over the fact that Brody Dalle has no time for her; Dizzee Rascal thinks tim Westwood is a genius; Ozzy Osbourne's godlike genius award was picked up by Ozzy "because he was too ill to fly to accept it in person" - erm, really? This would be the Ozzy who had an accident in Buckinghamshire and yet somehow managed to make the trip to present a Grammy Award in the US the night before the NME awards, would it? Did he send a note signed "Ma Osbourne" saying he was too ill to attend? Brody Dalle wants to make a record "or do something" with Peaches and Pete Libertine wants to get off with Lauren Laverne.
It's a great awards supplement; if only it had come last week and kept within its luxurious spread.

There are, of course, posters as well, including one montage where a headless chest is wearing a 'Lick Cunt' tshirt, except they've blotted out 'cunt', so it's just a picture of a tshirt. Right. (1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23-35*, i-viii)

back to reviews - albums
auf der maur - auf der maur - "feels like coming home", 8
paul heaton - under the influence - "the rich whiff of filler", 4
trash*palace - positions - "a beat more tired than a two buck hooker", 4

sotw - eastern lane - saffron - :wild, wicked and wonky"
stellastar* - my coco - "no wiser, but tired and far happier"
placebo - english summer rain - "it's rude to still be around when your revival happens"
There's also a plug for the NME chart show here, and then the agenda of course has plugs for and next week it's... oh god, another NME awards special, like almost five years after the event. Full page plug for it, though, so thats NME promoting NME promotional events on pages 1,3, 4-5, 6-7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23-35*, i-viii, 51, 56-57 and 59. We'd be excited, too, but we're not entirely sure if the NME is becoming little more than its own in-house journal; like our 1.80 a week is merely buying a whole bunch of promotional fliers.

* - although one page is an advert for Woolworths, which obviously isn't meant to be counted since their idea of 'rock excess' is over-ordering Robbie Williams singles

BRIAN JONES UPDATE: Brian Jones - still dead and, as we told you back in November, considered an unsuitable icon to be honoured in the name of a posh Housing Estate. Last night, while the country was watching the Brits, Cheltenham Borough Council chickened out and decided to plump for a street name not associated with drug-fucked deaths.

YOU TRIP ME UP: One of those groud-open-up moments: not only did Linda rush up in an over-excited fashion when Jewel offered to read out her poem; not only did she then trip and flat on her face in front of hundreds of people; it then wound up on the internet as well. Linda's one piece of soothing balm is it seems the photographers present missed her mishap. Oh, and Bob Dylan is gay, says Jewel.

BONDIES GO ROUND: The Von Bondies have announced tour dates - here they are, but don't tell Jack White, will you?

London ICA (April 19)
Bristol Anson Rooms (20)
Leeds Blank Canvas (21)
Brighton Concorde 2 (22)
Liverpool Academy 4 (24)
Glasgow Garage (25)
Manchester University (26)
Birmingham Irish Centre (27)
Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (29)
London Astoria (30

WHAT THE BLOGS & PAPERS SAY: A quick dash around some of the opinions on last night's awards from what we must never, ever call the Blogosphere. Wherever You Are frets over the lauding of The Darkness: "we've all gone so far with the knowing irony that we've finally come out the other side and are now applauding the plain awful..." - which ignores the simple fact that the ironic part of the Darkness - the car with the fire flash on the side, the fashion, the not-actually-over-the-top performances (more like standing on tippy-toe and peering over the cusp) - isn't actually done that well. The one saving grace of the Darkness is that they write a bloody good tune and know how to deliver it, and I think that's what people love about them. You can compare them with Kings of Leon, if you like, who are detail perfect in the recreation of their image, but can only manage tunes that score a "Oh, yes, I know this one" rather than "It goes like this..."

WYA also wasn't very impressed with Duran Duran, muttering something I've heard a lot in the last 24 hours - "it was never about the music, it was all about the image with them"; it's become such a commonplace that I'm half expecting it to appear on any day now. Simple question: Would a band that was 'about the image' ever have allowed Warren Cuccurullo to have joined? Case proven, I think. But full marks for providing a link to a site which lists pop songs about nuclear war.

Popjustice, of course, do this sort of thing well, although even they found the allure of Alicia Keys and Gwen Steffani couldn't compete with a packet of Mini Eggs in the kitchen. (Memo to organisers: Next year, how about that bird from Evanessence, Audrey Roberts and Mr. Cadbury's Parrot?) We do need to clear up one important point, though, Mr. Justices: Duran Duran weren't Phixx. Clearly, that was Spandau Ballet - have you seen the video for Paint Me Down? pj had said if the Brits were a bit rubbish they were going to blog the 1996 awards instead, which makes you wonder exactly how bad they'd have to have got before the glass was broken on the old VHS videos...

Spizzazz blogs a Westwood Rap Show instead, which seems to have been more fun for them and probably makes better reading than a report on the Brits anyway. Also pointedly ignoring the Earls Court showdown is 1471. busying themselves with a 1994 BBC documentary A London Something Dis.

In the Guardian, Alexis Petridis wondered exactly what the point of the Brits is, concluding "The point of the Brits is to provide a TV programme. They tell you nothing about the state of British music, other than its ability to function as unthreatening light entertainment." But he has more fun with the Executive Chairmen's suggestion that a career in pop music requires the sort of bravery that would lead one to go and perform - maybe even in a shopping centre.

The Telegraph tried to show it understood it's grandkids and their new popular music: "The band [The Darkness] even dressed properly for the occasion; spurning their usual bright garb for chic, understated black" under an article headlined, um, The Darkness Light Up The Brits.

Unsurprisingly, the Eastern Daily Press was very excited indeed about local boys doing well in the Brits, since if you don't count Blur (who pretended they were cockernees anyway), The Darkness are the first world class act to come from their region since the Singing Postman. Even missing out on the Breakthrough prize didn't ruin it for East Anglians, as Busted "also feature Suffolk blood in the shape of Charlie Simpson." Actually, we kind of suspect he's long since had all his Suffolk blood replaced with fresh stuff drained from young, nubile nymphets.

The Sun covers the extraordinary claim by Cat Deeley that the whole thing 'rocked' because of 'the return of booze' - apart from a slightly tiddly Busted, we saw no evidence of this, although it's quite possible that it took an awful lot of grape brandy and Quaaludes to persuade Cat that coming on stage on the bottle was a good idea.

But it seems to be only The Mirror with the full story of why Jamelia suddenly popped up on stage to present an award, looking a bit confused. Apparently Naomi Campbell was meant to do it, but pulled out at the last moment. Naomi was pissed off that she was being forced to share a dressing room while Shania got one all to herself and left in a squawking fit.

ROLLING STONES DO LITTLE TO CALM JITTERS: The USD92 million spent on the post-Sars relaunch of Hong Kong 'did little' according to members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. "People see beyond a stage show" explains David Lau, failing to mention that if you want to convince people a place is healthy, lavishing tonnes of cash on bringing Keith Richards to visit is an odd way to go about it. Although if anyone will learn the lesson, we'd be surprised - prepare yourself for The Darkness Against Bird Flu.

WEMBA EXTRADITED: Pama Wemba, who's been accused of people smuggling, has been extradited to Brussels. It follows an investigation into the 200 strong body of 'musicians' the musician brought from Congo to Paris and a similar happening in Belgium.

THOSE WINNERS IN FULL: For those of you who can't be arsed to wade through the longform Brits review, here's a print out and cut out and throwaway list of the 2004 winners:
British Male Solo Artist - Daniel Bedingfield
British Female Solo Artist - Dido
British Album - The Darkness, Permission to Land
British Group - The Darkness
British Single - Dido, White Flag
British Rock Act - The Darkness
British Urban Act - Lemar
British Dance Act - Basement Jaxx
British Breakthrough Artist - Busted
Pop Act - Busted
International Male Solo Artist - Justin Timberlake
International Female Solo Artist - Beyonce
International Album - Justin Timberlake, Justified
International Group - White Stripes
International Breakthrough Artist - 50 Cent
Outstanding Contribution to Music - Duran Duran

OASIS SEEK FANS HELP: Although, sadly, it's not because they're hoping some kind person will put a large pillow over their collective faces and singular eyebrow - instead, they're putting together a DVD and want fan footage and pictures. There's an email address to send any useful stuff you might have -, and it wouldn't be funny to send them pictures of Captain Scarlet or Rowan Atkinson dressed as a gorilla.

IN NEW ORLEANS, THEY'D HAVE MADE THEM GET MARRIED: The legal ructions that sprang from Marilyn Manson rubbing his scantily-clad crotch against security guard Joshua Keasler's neck in 2001 have finally come to a halt, with Manson and Keasler coming to an out-of-court settlement. The terms are being jkept secret, so it could be that Mazza is going to have go to Detroit every second weekend for more rubbing, although we're betting some sort of cheque with some noughts on it is more likely to be involved.

LEEDS OK: The Leeds half of the Reading Festival weekend looks set to go ahead as Leeds City Council have granted a licence for the event at the new venue of Bramham Park. Mean Fiddler had asked for an increase of 5,000 in the numbers allowed, but the licensing panel have granted only a cautious extra 2,500, making a total attendance of 52,500. The festival will take place between the 27th and 29th August.

UM...: Neil McCormack, the Telegraph's rock critic (and owner of a Morrissey haircut), is currently on BBC One's Breakfast and seems to actually believe the Darkness when they said the rock award was created especially for them... really, Neil? It wasn't created to give EMAP something they could call their own in return for their big chunk of money handed over the Brits , then?

HERE THEY COME AGAIN: The RIAA really won't admit they're shooting themselves in the foot - aother 531 John Doe suits were filed yesterday, presumably because they hope with 1000 odd random suits, they might actually find someone bad in the mix.

CHEMIKAL OVER THE SEA: The mighty Chemikal Underground have opened a branch in North America and are going to celebrate with a handy tour featuring Sluts of Trust and Malcolm Middleton out of Arab Strap. The US office is part of some exciting expansion plans and not merely a way of writing trips to Disneyland off as business expenses.

COURTNEY REMAINS AT LARGE: The arrest warrant hanging over Courtney Love has been dismissed after she finally appeared in court, a week late. She's been ordered to return to court on March 16th for preliminary hearings. Obviously there wasn't a man with a gun outside the courtroom this time.

WORST NAMEDROPPING EVER:From a piece on Nathan Haines:

In a few days he's heading out on the town with visiting London drum'n'bass producer (and ex-Bjork consort) Goldie. He talks of going to birthday parties at Jamiroquai's house, collaborating with Blur's Damon Albarn, recording in New York with revered house producers Masters at Work, hanging with drum'n'bass royalty Fabio, Lemon and Dillinja, setting up club nights with Everything But The Girl's Ben Watt.

Quick... I'm sure you can work in a reference to "Queen of the Jungle Kerry McFadden" if you try hard enough.

THE HENLEY CENTRE: The interesting conclusion to Don Henley's thinky piece in the Washington Post [registration required, but you can pretend you're from Sao Tome et Principe] is that "artists must be allowed to join with the labels" (our itallics) in the battle against file sharing. We were looking forward to reading this as the first muttering we'd seen on the web suggested that Henley had something radical or now to say; in effect, though, he's merely pushing an incredibly conservative line - sure, there's problems with the way the big labels treat music as a commodity, but, hey, we just need to teach them to be a bit more respectful of our art. He even suggests that the artist's place in the new struggle is testifying in front of politicans in Washington. There's no suggestion that what might be best for the artist would be seizing the opportunities presented by technology to step outside the label system altogether; that what is needed is less regulation by Washington. Instead, it's 'let's fix the system up again'.

THE DARKNESS WIN AN AWARD: No wonder Justin was so polished at his award acceptance last night; on Monday night he'd got some practice in as The Darkness picked up best band at the Elle Style Awards. We think they meant 'best dressed', which seems to be missing a joke somehow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

7.55 - except, of course, it's not really live as there's a massive two-hour or so delay between the ceremony and the programme hitting ITV1. Long enough to paint Janet Jackson a bikini top, pixel by pixel. The BBC's Six O'Clock News attempted to give away all the winners so far - no "If you don't want to know the results, look away" here.

8.00 - ITV are using horrid idents with not-very-good lookalikies; and the Mastercard break bumpers aren't much better, either. Why do they persist in using that horrid font?

Black Eyed Peas are on first - Shut Up. They've got a really cheap looking street set which looks as if it's been stolen from a school doing West Side Story as half term show. Why are they doing Shut Up when their big success was Where Is The Love? An attempt to show there's more to them than one hit. There's a dancer who seems to have come as Ozzy Osbourne.

vocal theatrics at the end - the Pea with the hat stands looking bored while she gets her business finished.

8.05 - Cat Deeley, dressed in a top hat comes on sitting astride a big bottle of champagne. It's like a cross between Cher and Charlie Chaplin. And - woosh - we're in to International solo artists. They're not trusting the celebs to do the nominated artists, just a few clips of the names - which, since Shania Twain fluffs her bit, might be just as well. The prize goes to Justin Timberlake who looks more like my old woodwork teacher every day. He thanks "everybody who voted for me" as if the prize had come from proper people and not a bunch of horsetrading record execs.

8.07 - Martin Kemp does the business for best group, calling it "the best night on TV all year, easily." Well, he's not doing some godawful drama tonight, which helps. He claims the Darkness are his favourite group. Justin says that he thinks they probably are the best British Group. He has the air of a man expecting to make many speeches this evening.

8.09 - Cat Deeley is now dressed in a fluffy thing - oh, we're being XChristina tonight, are we? - introduces Busted doing Teenage Kicks, which is okay, but all a little unconvincing. I doubt John Peel will be shifting his loyalties to this new version.

8.12 - First break. Coca-Cola's irritating woman handing out bottles of pop, in a desperate bid to find a new 'teach the world to sing'

8.16 - Cat is still in the fluffy thing. So, wardrobe budget blown already, then? It's pop act time - oddly, the Black Eye Peas have been nominated here. Samsung Fun Club customers have helped choose the winner to this, apparently; and oh, my splitting sides, Avid Merron as Mel B is giving the prize. After a series of belly-flopping 'jokes', Busted are called to pick up their prize, but Avid continues with his slightly unpleasant faux-sapphic routine. Busted wear suits and are polite.

8.20 - Dermot O'Leary comes on to the White Stripes to present the best dance act to Basement Jaxx.

8.22 - Cat tells us that what makes the Brits so special is the once in a lifetime collaborations. "This year we've outdone ourselves" - Beyonce, Andre 3000 and Outkast. Outkast have come on dressed as skeletons, presumably in the hope they won't upset the dead the way they dropped the bollock at the Grammy awards.

8.23 - although Daft Punk will probably be a bit pissed off. Hey ya is the first thing to actually sound in any way life-affirming, or indeed alive. Which is ironic, what with them being dressed as skeletons.

8.24 - here's Beyonce; the switch from one song to another (Crazy In love, of course) is a bit wonky but who cares? You can see why the Brits team have plumped for American talent at the heart of tonight's award, and sort of melding together the two big choons of last year was shrewd even if so far its not especially collaborative.

8.29 - and never the twain did meet, apart from a spot of underwear flashing from one to the other. So, less a collaboration than two acts back to back.

8.30 - was the Jamelia presenting the Best British Rock award (voted for by viewers to Kerrang TV). Justin claims the category was invented purely for them. He still has an air of a man who plans to be back.

8.37 - After another break, Cat has removed her fluffy cardigan in time for best British solo artist, a very thin field indeed. Kerry McScouse has turned up to give the prize - "this is brilliant... I'm nervous..." Daniel Bedingfield isn't there, and with the joy of modern technology, he's able to accept the prize... over a crappy phone line. Apparently ITV don't run to so much as a webcam.

8.40 - There's a really rubbish bit of business to get fifty cent on stage, with a fake news flash and a rather poor quality filmed insert - gasp, 50 cents has been arrested by immigration... but he's escaped... and - oh, how surprising - here is on stage, doing Birthday. What's the betting he's chased off stage by men dressed as police at the end?

8.42 - Earls Court might be a great place for the Daily Mail Ideal Home exhibition, but as a venue for the Brits, its lousy - like being outdoors but with none of the majesty of nature.

8.44 - Oh, there isn't a pay off at all to the 50 Cent act, which just... stops. Oh. On with the awards - Best British Urban act goes to Lemar to reward him for... um, all the things he did last year. He's very excited, and lists every member of his family before moving on to thank everyone else he's ever met.

8.47 And now here's Best Single; really, the awards are just being rushed through like they're not really worth anything. Which, probably, is true, but they could at least pretend. Dr Fox comes on and claims this is the "greatest Brits ever" - no, it isn't Doctor, and you know it. White Flag wins the prize, Dido can't be fucked to turn up of course, so there's a little filmed insert. "It wasn't easy for me to write, or to sing" she says. Not as hard as it to accept this as supposedly the best thing anyone did in 2003

8.50 If Love Cats was meant to be done as a Courtyard by Marriot jazz lounge work through, we're sure that Robert Smith would have mentioned it. Jamie Callum makes it back onto our list of punchable faces, doing this with Katie Meulah in a way that doesn't so much suggest they're love cats cuddled by the fire, but two businesspeople who've never met before sharing a lift after a very strong curry. It swings, that's for sure, but they're both too busy showing off their own types of quirky to actually bother working together. Beyonce and Outkast at least didn't stand side by side while not collaborating.

8.54 - Another break. 3 Mobile are trying to relaunch again, this time with Anna Friel getting her kit off. An idea whose time has past, promoted by an idea whose time has past. And now here's the Beyonce-Pink-Britney Pepsi advert, which is sadly the best thing Pink has done in the last twelve months.

8.58 Cat has changed her dress in honour of the appearance of Muse. We like Muse, but can't help feeling that they're a bit of an unlikely choice to join in tonight - it smacks of someone making their way a long way down the list headed 'credible, successful, British rock.' Presumably it was either Muse or getting The Darkness to do two songs. Matt Bellamy's just sunk to his knees and skidded across the stage and is now moonwalking sideways. Probably wishing they'd bought a blow-up dinosaur or some half-naked street girls along, then - "shit, we need a gimmick." They actually sound pretty good, though, and if there's any justice a nation will be reminded of their existence and go out and buy some of their music at the weekend.

9.03 International Female is being presented by LL Cool J, who is wearing a different hat to the one he wore for presenting the Brits. Beyonce wins, of course, so no upset there. She says "this is my secong home" - Britain, we guess, not earl's court. "I'm terrible at [accepting awards]" she says, but you think she'd be getting used to it by now.

9.06 Lionel Ritchie comes on with no delay to announce The White Stripes have won the International Group award. Jack White comes across like a bit of a knob in the taped acceptance. Meg keeps her mouth shut and looks cool.

9.07 Missy Elliot, Alicia Keys and Gwen Steffani doing Kiss - why? It doesn't sound like a coming together of minds, more like the people left in the dressing room. Alicia makes Tom Jone's version seem underplayed while Gwen goes for the Prince falsetto. Missy doesn't even make any attempt to pretend she's doing the same song as the other two, bursting in to rap something about Michael Jackson we couldn't quite make out. It's more a party piece than a showstopper.

9.15 Another outfit for Cat - clearly a taxi had been sent to Top Shop - as the Breakthrough Artist reels round. This has been voted for by radio one's dwindling audience, so Chris Moyles is here to do presentation. "I'm on telly" he says, which would be funny if we hadn't all not seen his Channel Five series. After banging on for hours, he announces it's Busted, who come on and are a little bit drunk and so slightly less polite.

9.19 It's Ronan Keating for Best British female - "it is of course dido" (why of course?) Dido pops up on video to thank Sinead O Connor and Kate Bush, who are apparently her inspirations. Maybe she means she's painted her bathroom the same colour as they have?

9.21 Duran Duran's outstanding contribution award, hailed by a bunch of clips of all their best singles (no 911 is a joke, sadly). Justin Timberlake comes to present the prize, which is like Matt Busby getting given his dues by Wayne Rooney - it's a bit of an insult to use someone not proven over the distance to give an award that marks a career lived to the full; it blunts the honour.

9.23 Simon LeBon making an acceptance speech - suddenly it's like the old Nationwide Rock and Pop Awards all over again.

9.23 John Taylor looks like an agrument is about to break out in a plastic surgery clinic

9.24 How long has Ron Wood been in Duran? Shit, is that Andy?

9.25 Nick still looks bloody good. And stylish. Not many people can carry off a white suit.

9.26 Roger still has nothing to say.

9.27 Hungry Like The Wolf. Of course, this is so old it's like the Beatles had turned up to do Let It Be when Duran were winning awards on talent rather than longevity, but man it still sounds like brilliant pop should.

9.28 - mostly, the odd bum note apart. Oh, they're Jive Bunnying themselves. Into Ordinary World it is, then. Although they are old men, so probably need the musical equivalent of a bit of a sit down mid-set now. Nick plays the keyboard like it's not his favourite Duran track, either.

9.31 - while Andy plays like it's best thing ever.

9.32 Wild Boys! Wild Boys! Wild Boys! I don't think i've ever seen Simon LeBon do this slim before.

9.35 "and you're telephone's been ringing while you're dancing in the rain" - of course, this is so dated now as people dancing in the rain would have their Nokia N-Gage in their pocket. Simon runs round the outside of the stage, looking slightly out of puff (halfway to a Tommy Cooper?) when he makes it back to the centre.

9.36 Oh. Is that it? No Girls on Film? No Planet Earth? Another ad break it is, then.

9.41 Cat Deeley is wearing something that looks a bit like a caveman's catsuit and has had her hair... um... distressed, would be the word. International Breakthrough Time, with Alicia Keys who's still wearing her dress from Kiss. I hope she uses a strong deodorant. The prize goes to 50 Cent, who we gather is the only one who turned up tonight. They don't take the opportunity for another spot of pre-filmed fun, which is a shame - this time they could have pretended he was being chased by some ghosts or something.

9.44 Best International Album is being presented by Gwen Steffani - did everyone else sneak out the back while they were doing Kiss? At least she's changed. She sounds thrilled that Justified by Timberlake has won, rather than puzzled at who really would consider it to be better than Crazy In Love or the Outkast album. Although, actually, his acceptance speech is one of the best of the night: "this is my first album - stick with me, we've got depression we've got drug addiction to get through..."

9.47 So, then, this is the Darkness performance which everyone's been talking up. Some back projection fish, some plastic sea horses. Everyday Darkness stage costumes. I Believe In A Thing Called Love. At the end, Justin stands on a hydraulic platform. Don't get us wrong, it's a fine performance and nothing to be ashamed of - it's just, compared to the build up, and compared to the previous Brit centrepiece performances it's all a bit of a ho-hum.

9.50 Scarlett Johansen comes on for the best album prize - and, yes, it's permission to land. Not bad for a debut album. Justin still has the air of a man expecting to be back picking up more awards, even although they're fresh out of prizes now.

9.55 So, to celebrate the Darkness get to do another track - You're Really Growing On Me - which ITV clumsily fade down to plug the Kate Thornton leftovers show on ITV2 and then cut off half way through. Which is ridiculous - as they had the luxury of knowing how much ceremony they had, couldn't they at least have edited the bloody thing so we could see all of the climactic performance? Surely it's got to go back to the BBC now. It didn't look like they were about to do anything extraordinary, mind.

So, that's it then: Not the worst bunch of winners by any stretch - let's pretend Dido doesn't count- and some great performances; but nothing at all memorable about the event. In fact, we're glad we did this as it went along because otherwise we'd be sucking our pen trying to remember what happened.

... BUT SOME MARKS FOR TRYING: Haemmerrhoid cream manufacturers approach the Cash family for permission to use Ring of Fire in adverts for pile cream. The get given the shortest possible shrift you could imagine.

PAY UPFRONT, OR DON'T COME AT ALL: Glastonbury won't accept Credit Card payments for tickets this year - there's some suggestion that this will somehow mean more money going to the charities, although the processing fees surely come out the booking fee and the not the price of the ticket anyway? - and that this is somehow going to "further address the problem of touts." We're not sure why a person interested solely in making a killing by re-selling the tickets is going to be put off by having the risk move from their credit account to their current account, since Glasto tickets are pretty much a more solid investment than gold; it does mean that the less comfortably off are going to be even less able to get to the festival this year, as it's people closer to the breadline who are going to find it harder to fork out the 120-odd quid up front. If Glastonbury becomes any more middle class, they'll have to find a villa for Tony Blair. There's rumours that Joe Bananas is going to rename himself Joe Starfruit and Papaya and replace his usual stock of blankets with a bunch of hand-painted native American smocks.

AND AS TURTLES ARE ABLE TO RUN: While Mr. Hawkins squeezes himself into a skintight catsuit and then lets his belly fall out of it in preparation for the Brits, warm yourself up with some Poe-meets-The-Darkness "poetry".

COMING UP...: If all goes well, and the technology doesn't let us down, we're hoping to be covering the Brits live from 8 pm this evening...

THE CRUNCH: What links seemingly ever record Westlife have ever made, the theme from Seinfeld, Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin' Stevens and Man In The Mirror by Jacko? They're all rounded up on the Truck Driver's Gear Change, a site dedicated to collecting the best (as in the most rubbish) sudden changes in key on recorded music.

MONEY FOR NOTHING...: Thanks to Heat magazine, we now know who the top ten earning music acts were last year - "know" in the sense of 'can take their estimates at their word as probably being at least somewhere near the true figures, or something'. Dido is a new entrant to the list, supposedly raking in GBP15 million for last year - that's an average of seven and a half per album, or sixty million per emotion. The Rolling Stones' creaking old tour has engorged their banks by a collective GBP55 million, and how the hell Phil Collins made 25 mill is beyond us - does he still have a flower stall? Coldplay's income - curiously, roughly the same as Phil's, for roughly the same sort of sleeves-up, self-pity, background rock-u-lite - is probably the best argument we've ever come across for reintroducing a 95 per cent top rate of income tax, if only for them.

The top ten:
1 Rolling Stones (£55.3 million)
2 Sir Paul McCartney (£40 million)
3 Sir Elton John (£34 million)
4 Robbie Williams (£30 million)
5 Coldplay (£25.3 million)
6 Sting (£25.1 million)
7 Phil Collins (£25.1 million)
8 Fleetwood Mac (£23.5 million)
9 Iron Maiden (£17.9 million)
10 Dido (£15.8 million)

I'D RATHER JACK...: Justin Hawkins is threatening to prance onstage in a Geri Halliwell style Union Flag catsuit as part of a Darkness wardrobe overhaul. I suppose he could have been planning to have skin tight trackies as a tribute to Mel C instead...

PEOPLE PAY GOOD MONEY FOR THE CURE: The auction for Passport tickets is underway, with bidding open on the final passes to those intimate, back-to-the-club nights organised in aid of War Child. Runaway mad-loopy money is already being bid for the Cure, commanding an impressive GBP1,650 at the moment. The Darkness have cracked the five hundred quid barrier, while Super Furry Animals in Cardiff (160) and Pet Shop Boys (255) are both doing well. At the other end of the scale, Lemar, Amy Winehouse and Big Brovaz have yet to have anyone make a bid, while the Sugababes might be suffering from just one finger tapping a nose because, um, they've been listed as the Sugarbabes on Ebay. Katie Melua and Elbow have both had only one bid each, sticking at twenty-five quid, while Atomic Kitten have finally put one over on the 'babes, reaching the giddy heights of twenty six quid - a whole pound more. That this is almost certainly going to be the final Atomic Kitten gig ever, you'd have thought they'd have got a few more expressions of interest, if only from Kerry wanting to go down and slap Frost about a bit. Three days or so of bidding left, mind, so anything could happen.

HERE THEY COME AGAIN: The concept of the La's reforming is right up there on our wish list with a sequel to The Graduate or going through puberty again, but it looks like Mavers nad Power might be about to reunite and re-ignite the band. We've got a whole heap of misgivings about this, but we'd be delighted to give it our blessing providing the band features everyone who ever played in the various incarnations of the La's, and probably anyone who ever claimed to have done so as well. That way, they'll be able to start gigging again, but only at the sort of venues the Mormon Tabernacle Choir play.


"We're taking a lot more chances, but still staying true to what we do. borrowing not only from our metal roots, but from our rock roots, and our Pink Floyd roots. You can hear influences of everyone from Slayer to Amen to King Crimson."

Actually, it could be that under the influence of Rick Rubin, the 'knot might have fused together something worth listening to out of an unprepossesing bunch of mangled influences, so we're not going to write it off just yet. But they're still going to wear the stupid masks on stage, so we're not going to actually hold breath or anything.

(INEVITABLY) CAT FIGHT: There's no sight more frightening to man, beast or god than two scouse women going at it hammer and tongs - we still think that Sheila Grant and Doreen Corkhill's ding-dong over Billy knocks your bog standard dalek moment into one of the special cocked hats for behind the sofa moments. And now the claws-out moment to end all claws-out moments is erupting, as it's Kitten versus Kitten. Jenny Frost is fuming, spitting and raging with Kerry McFadden because, right, Kerry said, right when she was in the jungle, right, that she was treated badly by Atomic Kitten when they never, they saw her right and that bitch says that Jenny was just miming to her singing on Whole Again and she never.

In a wonderful dim moment, Jenny is angry that Kerry told the other junglies that she was a founder member of the group - "That's rubbish. Liz McLarnon started the band with Kerry - it was never just Kerry's band." Erm, so Kerry would have been, um, a founder member then? (Although we're a little bit puzzled, what with how they were a band put together by Andy McLuskey and all).

Meanwhile, the band are approaching their final date before "resting" - Jenny warns people going to see them ""Don't expect us to either sing in tune or get the words out right - because we're all going to be crying on stage." Jenny, love, I think you'll find very few people go to see Atomic Kitten expecting to hear anyone singing in tune at any time.

In other meanwhile news, Kerry Chipshop has really got loads to thank Max Clifford for. Not only did he get her that gig promoting Britain's seventh or ninth most popular brand of pasta sauce, but he also has really taken great steps to help her with that TV presentation career: managing to turn her right round from a massive ratings success to getting a walk-on part delivering pork balls to Rik Waller on the tanking Back To Reality on Channel Five. That doesn't make her look like a desperate one tick pony at all, Max.

NICE: The ghost of Christmas Holiday Mornings returns with the news that the Montreux jazz Festival is planning on selling its archives. While they have some absolutely gorgeous performances there - Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and so on - we're still unable to hear the name Montreux without picturing the 1980s TV coverage that the BBC used to provide, which we remember as being an almost constant loop of Phil Collins, forever.

KRIST WON'T RUN: Krist Novoselic has decided Washington State isn't quite ready for an ex-Nirvana lieutenant governor, dropping plans to run for the position. "I found out its bad form to run against an incumbent of your own party@ he explains. Yes, it's also considered rude to shout about Courtney Love being the best fuck in the world on live TV, but I didn't see you rushing to shush Kurt on The Word, did I? He's going to carry on supporting the path of electoral reform, though, and seems to have swapped from Dean's rapidly shrinking camp in favour of Kerry, the only man in America who looks less like a president than George W Bush.

Hats off to AP for the best headline of the day, though: Grunge Rocker Won't Run for Wash. Office

EMPTY CHAIR AT THE BRITS: With all the people who've had their dreams crushed and their lives ruined by the music industry over the years, we're not sure that many people will be shedding tears over the BPI making its Director General redundant. Andrew Yates role is being squished out of existence and his work being handed to the exec chairman of the Music Industry lobbying group. What's remarkable is that the BPI has managed to have the two positions in place for so long, while the companies which fund them have been chopping down employees in the name of falling sales. Yates is negotiating a departure package, a luxury not afforded to, say, the thousand people whose liives were wrecked when EMI fucked up over Mariah Carey.

The decision to poke the DG out into the streets comes while the BPI's main thing, the Brits, is getting it from all sides. Last week, Virgin Megastores pointed out that this year's celebration of British talent is, erm, chock full of American acts.

SOPHIE'S MUFF: The Sun's Victoria Thingy is really rude about Sophie Ellis Bextor, saying "ooh, look how poorly dressed she is, tch" and then drawing the unexpected conclusion "she muff [geddit] be cold" - erm, yes, well done, Victoria. People wrap up in the cold. Tomorrow you might like to find someone in a bikini and suggest they're warm.

This is the picture:

we think she's cute

We're not going to do the obvious Here's Sophie's other muff [NSFW] joke here, you know.

INTELLIGENT. WITTY. BASTARDS.: Over at the London News Review, Alan C has made good his promise to launch a music blog in the form of the Acme Music blog. It's everything you'd expect from those quarters - the first blog, I suspect, to accuse the Black Eyed Peas of being based on Love Day memorobilia and worth the extra risk of RSI that clicking will give you. If anyone needs us, we'll be putting things in boxes and trying to find an address for the Daily Sketch.

WHEN THEY SAY 'CHECK THE ALARM IS STILL WORKING', THEY MEAN POKING YOUR SMOKE ALARM WITH A FINGER... NOT THIS: Dastardly goings on at the lower end of the charts, with a seemingly innocent looking band turning out to be The Alarm all along:

A major achievment!! 45 RPM just played on BBC Radio 1 on the weekly top-40 show, It was #28 for weekly sales figures. This is the first time an Alarm-related song has been in the top-40 for nearly 15 years! The song was played in it's entirety and the DJ read a short blurb about the song actually being by "The Alarm" and how they changed their name for the single to get a "fair shake" from the music industry. It looks like it worked!!! The song sounded great too, and it stood-out among the mostly sythesized/over-produced crap on the rest of the countdown.

So, what's happened here is the Alarm have snuck in under cover of darkness (although not the cover of The Darkness). We always find it a bit amusing when people do this - like Stock, Aitken and Waterman doing 'Roadblock' and then going 'Ahhhh... it was us'; they always seem to think they're proving some sort of point about how if people could just see past their image, they'd learn to love them. Like, probably, Cyrano DeBergerac. Which would be fine, except for the total loss of dignity in the acts having to accept that people hate them more as people than hate their music. Yes, The Alarm, if people don't know its you, they enjoy your work. You must be feeling very validated.

We're not sure that getting a single to number 28 is really much of an achievement, either - how many copies do you have to sell to scrape into the top thirty these days? At the weekend we burned three of sets of our holiday pictures to CD for our family, and that was enough to shoot into the chart at number 36 (I'm doing 'Lemur drinking cocktails' on Top of the Pops this Friday).

- the Goth Hello Kitty, which is an accurate representation of what Goths are like, rather than flattering their self-image like Emily Strange
- Pocky, except the tea flavour
- The Japanese version of Primal Screams Greatest Hits. Now, this could just be an internet hoax, but we've been sent this tracklisting which is a much better summation of the Scream's career to date than the 'what, us, wear big spotty shirts and have fringes? Not us, guv' album they brought out in the UK:

When The Kingdom Comes (2000 Single "Accelerator" B-side )
Star (1997 Album "Vanishing Point" )
Velocity Girl (1986 Single "Crystal Crescent" B-side )
Ivy Ivy Ivy (1989 Album "Primal Scream" )
City (2002 Album "Evil Heat" )
Don't Fight It, Feel It 7" edit (1991 Album "Screamadelica" )
Medication (1997 Album "Vanishing Point" )
All Fall Down (1985 Single "All Fall Down" A-side )
Come Together(Terry Farley Mix) (1990 Single "Come Together" )
Screamadelica (1992 Single "Dixie-Narco EP" B-side )
So Sad About Us (The Who) (1987 Single "Imperial" B-side )
Revenge Of Hammond Connection (2000 Single "Kill All Hippies" B-side )
I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have (1989 Album "Primal Scream" )
Gentle Tuesday (1987 Album "Sonic Flower Groove" )
MBV Arkestra (If They Move Kill 'Em) (2000 Album "XTRMNTR" )
Darklands (1998 Single "If They Move Kill 'Em" B-side )
Imperial (1987 Album "Sonic Flower Groove" )
Jesus (1997 Single "Star" B-Side )

Looking at it, it does seem a little too good to be true and might just be a bubble of fantasy on the part of someone somewhere in the internet. It's hard to imagine any Primals comp which misses out Loaded - so maybe this is a companion piece? Certainly we'd like to have such a record, oh yes.

PHOTOS DEVELOPING: Kiril emails us with more on shaking Polaroids:

Mr. 3000's exhortation to "shake it like a Polaroid picture" is a reference to the early days of self-developing film, when, true or not, everyone use to think that shaking the photo caused the image to appear faster. I'm not sure if this has a factual basis, but older people still often shake the pictures as soon as they come out. My grandmother used to say it was because the in first such cameras, photos would come out wet.

P.S. In a similar fahion, my grandmother, stung by unforunate experiences in the early 1980s, also insists that her television is complicated to program, although pushing a single button of her more modern machine causes it to program itself.

We're almost tempted to ask for other examples of old people interfacing with 'new' technology - I'm always puzzled at why they use VideoPlus to programme Coronation Street when it's on at the same time every bloody week....

Monday, February 16, 2004

LET'S TALK PRICING GUNS: As in getting guns and shooting at people until they make their download prices a bit more realistic. The Daily Record is claiming exclusives on some downloads - which we find hard to believe - Liberty X only selling Jumpin' through the Scottish paper's website? The prices may make you choke - not least 2.99 for Born Slippy. The remix thereof. In a bid to try and make it look like value for money, they've thrown in another mix (only the 93rd re-jiggling of Born Slippy), "pdf of the single artwork" and a full streaming link to the Danny Boyle video. That's right, it's not even a download of the video - just an URL. And "all" this for "just" three quid.

I COLLECT... I REJECT EXTRA: No takers yet to open the bidding at two pounds fifty for an unopened can of Steps spaghetti. "Possibly the only can of spaghetti shapes you'll see on Ebay" claims the seller, which suggests he doesn't really know Ebay.

I COLLECT... I REJECT: Talking of the National Portrait Gallery, we're thinking of buying this large, gaudy painting of Mel B and Jimmy Gulzar and donating it to for grateful nation to view. Sorry, we mean destroying it in a grate in full view of the nation. I just can't imagine the mindset of someone who would decide their bedroom would be set off perfectly with a piece of quasi-Athena art with their own faces in it - I can understand mirrored ceilings, and see the sense in having a couple of photos scattered about the room. But that monstrosity? And who on earth would buy such a thing - unless it's to cut out the faces so that people can stick their heads through and have their photos taken, like with those strongmen cut-outs at the seaside?
go on... paint in emma bunton over his shoulder

BUSHWHACKED: We'd missed the story that George W Bush claimed not to have seen Jackson's breast because he'd "fallen asleep." The breast popped out at about 8.30 EST. Too much warm milk, George? We find drinking a lot can make us fall asleep real early, too. Warm milk, we mean.

WHAT'S ANOTHER YEAR?: The Anniversary have split. So I suppose it'll be okay to forget them this year. (Okay, okay, I know even Barry Cryer would have thought twice...)

IT'S SO EASY TO HATE...: Oh, we know, it's a bit much for No Rock to raise an eyebrow at The Naomis and wonder at their bitterness, but we're a little puzzled by their exact nature. For example, while the Naomis are calling Atomic Kitten the Worst British Group, two clicks away from this Music Choice stunt you can win the new Atomic Kitten album - in other words, the poll is simultaneously trashing the very same acts who Music Choice are relying on to keep their business afloat. Likewise, is the station in a comfortable place when it sneers at Busted?

And while awarding Peter Andre a prize for Outstandingly Bad Contribution to Music is obviously little more than a push to get the story into the papers, as a target, he's meaningless - he's hardly been much of a bother for the past few years, has he? While it looks certain that he'll be a runner for such a title by the end of the year - if we haven't forgotten him all over again - this just comes across as showboating spite.

BACK TO THE HERE AND NOW: We're really not especially interested in Channel Five's Back to Reality, but there is something fascinating about watching Rik Waller's CV, which appears to consist entirely of 'this sort of thing' - Pop Idol, Celebrity Fit Club, Celeb special Weakest Link... has he actually done anything besides the merry-go-round of programming? And why does he now look so much like Chris Moyles?

THAT OZYMANDIAS MOMENT: We couldn't help but notice when we popped into the National Portrait Gallery at the weekend that there was a massive swarm of people in front of Julian Opie's Blur portraits. Unfortunately, they were all standing with their backs to them, peering at Marino Testino's work on the other wall. Alex, Damon, Dave and Graham didn't get a single glance the whole time we were watching.

(While we're on the subject of the NPG, it's nice to see they've got an exhibition celebrating British designers, even if they don't seem to understand what is so important about their work in the first place - James Dyson is described as having invented "the first bagless vacuum cleaner", which is on a par with describing Benz and Daimler as having created the first steam engine that didn't run on rails. Ask Nicky Wire. He'd understand.)

SHAKING THAT? ASS!: The impact of popular culture is a strange and wonderful crater, isn't it? For example, in response to Outkast's Hey Ya, Polaroid have published an faq response on their site suggesting that you don't need to shake a polaroid picture around at all. Which, while scientifically true, puzzles us as we can recall seeing a programme where a designer working on Polaroids was talking about how they'd found the shaking was integral to the experience, and so it was built in to the specifications. (Our memory fails us on who it was, or when they said it - if anyone can supply more details, do please get in touch). [Via the cyberfunky]

ANOTHER JACKSON HITS OUT. DON'T WORRY, IT'S NOT FAMILY: Let's get this straight: He's worked with Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston; he's a judge on the karaoke crush that is American Idol, and Randy Jackson is telling the music industry it's 'content' is bad? We'd suggest two things here. First, someone sits down and shows him a mirror. Second, that anyone who describes music as 'content' in anything other than a scabarous, sarcastic tone of voice should be barred from ever having an opinion on music as an artform ever again. The really scary thing is that Randy seems to realise that the whole of the Big Music world is "in the toilet" and yet he seems to think that American/Pop Idol is the solution rather than a large part of the cause of the troubles.

WHAT DO YOU GIVE THE WOMAN WHO'LL GET EVERYTHING FOR VALENTINE'S DAY?: If you're Paul McCartney, besides the usual rings and things, you can phone the Sun and ask them to lay off Heather for a bit. Paul insists he didn't just marry Heather for her looks:

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... and denied the constant claims that Heather and Stella don't get on. He even says that Heather bought Stella's perfume as gifts for all her friends. Hmm. We don't think says that Heather likes Stella, more that she hates her friends.

On the other hand, the whole story is in The Sun, so it's quite likely that it never happened: Like Elle Macpherson's rehab, which never happened and the paper has to print a grovelling apology for this morning. Now, we can't quite recall... what did the Sun say about resignations at the top of an organisation when they make a mistake in their reporting?

DJOBIT: We're a bit surprised at the usually reliable remember the eighties making an awkward slip this week, putting a big get well soon shout for Tushar Makwana in their Sunday teatime mailing. The Heart FM (Birmingham) DJ was attacked after confronting burglars at his home last Monday. Sadly, Tushar's life support was switched off on Thursday.

IF YOU'RE SO STYLISH...: Well, we're not certain but we suspect that the Queer Eye For The Straight Guy soundtrack can only be some sort of falling on swords moment - it's got bloody Sting on it, for Radclyffe Hall's sake. Honestly, who in their right mind would take advice on what trousers to wear by someone who'd then hand you an iPod with Sting on it? The Queer Eye team obviously need to call in a bunch of bisexuals to sort them out sharpish.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

THE FIVE-YEAR PLAN: An interesting piece from Reuters on Beyonce-as-product, including some background on how the solo demographic is "more flexible" than the Destiny's Child one (more men, wider age range when it's just her; add in kelly and the other one and you're looking at 15-30 year old girls); the plans to turn her into a purchasable stink-perfume, and the news that after the destiny's child tour, the band will probably disappear for five years. Not mentioned is the news today that she wants to be Lois Lane in the upcoming Superman movie. Only the Man of Steel can cope with such bootyliciousness.

MAYBE SHE SHOULD TRY KACL?: In Britain, producers of phone-in shows tend to operate a quota system, to ensure that their kookier repeated callers don't get onto the air day-in, day-out. It might be an idea Howard Stern's people could consider, as Courtney Love calls the Stern show again. This time, after the pissed ranting of the previous encounter, Courtney had reached the sobbing, pity-me stage of the cycle, suggesting that she's "the only female rock star who's a single mother" (eh?) and that makes her a target. Not the whole being caught with drugs, throwing rocks at a window, running around chilly London streets naked for Q magazine, calling Howard Stern to discuss a court case she couldn't be bothered to show up for, suddenly deciding there was "a man with a gun" outside the court room... it's not; it's because you make records that you get targetted. Not the whole taking an overdose and having to get your daughter to call an ambulance?

CREED, THE BOOK: As if Mel Gibson wasn't already in enough shit, what with the stinking waft of anti-semitism that's got stuck to his movie The Passion, telling a newspaper his wife will, you know, burn in hell for all eternity, the mystery of the bouncing on and off endorsement from the Pope (we'd heard the pontiff had been really thrilled by the idea of the film until he realised he'd got Mels Gibson and Brooks muddled up)> Now Scott Stapp from Creed is trying to get some of his music on the soundtrack. Is Stapp bothered by the controv attached to the flick? Of course not, he's... well, probably a bit thick:

"It's a controversial film, but you've got to look at it like any other book, like the 'Lord of the Rings,' " Stapp said. "It was made after three books, right? 'The Passion' is just another interpretation of a book."

Yes, he really said that. He also seems to think the plot is going to come as surprise to us:

"It has moments that make you want to cry," he added. "But, having the spiritual background I came from, the very last shot of the movie empowered me. And that's all I can tease you with."

Yeah, don't give away the ending for anyone who's not read The Bible, you dork.

JANET COMES BACK OUT IN PUBLIC... NO, NOT LIKE THAT: After what has apparently now become officially a "gaffe", Janet Jackson has been out to pick up an award from, um, the wives of basketball players for her humanitarian work. The prize was given to her at the Touching A Life banquet. (Justin, presumably, will be honoured at the Touching A Right one).

DON'T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER'S ONE OF THE THREE JOHNS: If you're afraid of following the Gray Album link in case Mitch Bainwol bursts through your front door dressed up like TJ Hooker, there's a much more morally pure MP3 option on the This American Life website - Jon Langford covering The Perfect Nanny from Mary Poppins.

GRAY AREA: As you'll recall, DJ Dangermouse took the Beatle's White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, and welded them into a Grey Album. Then, of course, EMI got involved and decided that rather than see this wonderful opportunity to receive a few extra quid for their corporate coffers, they'd be happier supressing the whole thing. It's almost as if they haven't heard of the internet, isn't it? Did they not think it might appear online, MP3 and ready for download? So, instead of making a few quid off a legal version, they're making fuck all because you can't pay them, even if you wanted to.

PICK YOURSELF UP, DUST YOURSELF WITH GLITTER, AND START ALL OVER AGAIN: After an awful lot of silence following on from their being dropped by Mercury, King Adora are preparing to put out a new album, called Who Do You Love? - although 'Do you still love us?' might be a more apt title.