Saturday, November 27, 2004

HAVING IT ALL...: We've been looking deeply inside ourselves trying to work up some sympathy for Madonna, who just has it so tough - indeed, she's just too busy to be creative, poor lamb:

"I need to calm myself.

"I don't have a manager anymore, so now I'm my own everything.

"Then I'm the person who stands at the door when my husband comes home from work, waiting to rub his feet.

"And I'm the person who helps my kids with their homework and puts them to bed. I'm exhausted.

"That's my problem now. I no longer have time to be creative."

Righto... so, you've got to help your children with their homework - one is three, and one is eight; it's not like they'll be bringing home three essays on Grecian democracy to be finished overnight, is it? And you only dumped your manager - what? - a month ago? And to be honest, if Guy is coming in demanding you rub his feet, while your life is apparently so tiresome and stressful, maybe you should think about telling him to pull his own finger out. Then again, if you've become little more than a stay-at-home wife, why is organising your career so difficult? And, more to the point: you're a freaking millionaire. Hire some help.

HAVING IT ALL...: We've been looking deeply inside ourselves trying to work up some sympathy for Madonna, who just has it so tough - indeed, she's just too busy to be creative, poor lamb:

"I need to calm myself.

"I don't have a manager anymore, so now I'm my own everything.

"Then I'm the person who stands at the door when my husband comes home from work, waiting to rub his feet.

"And I'm the person who helps my kids with their homework and puts them to bed. I'm exhausted.

"That's my problem now. I no longer have time to be creative."

Righto... so, you've got to help your children with their homework - one is three, and one is eight; it's not like they'll be bringing home three essays on Grecian democracy to be finished overnight, is it? And you only dumped your manager - what? - a month ago? And to be honest, if Guy is coming in demanding you rub his feet, while your life is apparently so tiresome and stressful, maybe you should think about telling him to pull his own finger out. Then again, if you've become little more than a stay-at-home wife, why is organising your career so difficult? And, more to the point: you're a freaking millionaire. Hire some help.

NEXT YEAR: BACK, WITH MORE BOUNCERS: The publisher of Vibe, Kenard Gibbs, has said that despite the unpleasant attempted murderness at this year's Viber awards, they'll be back again next year, on the basis that, you know, it's a "brand" and brands must do what brands do:

"We're doing the awards show next year," Gibbs says. "If we don't, it will be counter to all the things we have been able to do with the brand and the culture."

Having said that, Gibbs then set about attacking the culture:

Calling such violence "sickening," Gibbs says we have to ponder the hip-hop culture's mentality. "Violence has unfortunately been associated with hip-hop since its beginnings."

YOU'RE NOT GOING OUT DRESSED LIKE THAT: You'll have noticed that Eminem has been attempting to move himself into a more mainstream position politically and culturally in the last couple of years; part of this has been trying to renegotiate his past stances as being not so far from the oped heads at the Daily Mail. Now he's got round to trying to explain away all the stuff about how women are bitches and hos: It's not that he doesn't respect women at all, you know: it;s because women don't respect themselves, silly: How can he help but damn women when they go out wearing short skirts and push-up bras?:

"I've seen groupies on the road and women just throwing themselves at you just because you're famous, and I hate that.

"It takes your opinion of women and lowers it. How can these girls dress like this? (I'm) not saying I'm not attracted to it, but how can these girls portray themselves in this way and then get mad if we call them a `bitch' or a `ho,' or whatever the case being?"

It's contributory negligence, innit? We wish Em luck with his apparent campaign to get a seat on the bench.

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF TOMMY LEE: Apparently, it took "porno stars" to make Tommy Lee realise he has a larger than average penis, he tells Blender:

Probably when I started fuckin’ around with porno stars. ’Cause they see a lot of dick. That’s their job, right? So they see a lot. And then you hear from a girl, “Fuck! You’ve got a huge dick!” You’re like, “Wow, right on! Really? Compared to what?” And then you realize: compared to all kinds of dicks! Yeah, fucking with porno stars ruined my marriage. That was in ’93, right before I got divorced from Heather [Locklear].

Of course, the other thing about people who work in porn, Tom, is that they're used to making a lot of fuss about nothing. Indeed, in a real sense, that is there job.

In the same interview Lee expresses regret that when he was on tour in Japan, he never got to see Mount Fuji:

I’m a sucker for that kind of scenery and horticulture — the bonsais and the koi ponds and all that shit.

Fancy that. He went all the way to Japan and never got a chance to take in the views of the forests of bonsai.

SACKED... AND JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS, TOO: Virgin records have looked their artist list and, realising that somehow they'd signed Javine up two years ago, called her in for one of those conversations about regrets, and moving on, and best for everyone. Javine is, of course, putting a brave face on being dropped: she's got "other projects" including a West End show - although she doesn't say if she'll be completing the evening by having a nice dinner as well. The problem was, of course:

"Although I will always be grateful for the support and hard work of all the Virgin team, ultimately I wasn't releasing music that I felt truly represented me. I am determined to develop my true musical style."

Oddly, Virgin had been serving her up with pisspoor pop songs. Dunno where they got the idea that pisspoor pop songs might have been her style, what with her being discovered on Popstars, a place where she was judged as Not Quite Good Enough For Girls Aloud.

THE COMPENSATION CULTURE: It's only going to be a matter of time before we start seeing adverts of a Declan Swain nature: "Have you ever appeared on a record and feel you've been jibbed? Did your music teacher make you sing some "alley alley os" on a folk tune? Do you feel you have the right to some money? Call claim4royalties now..."

This, of course, is in the light of some of the kids who appeared chanting moronically on the fantastically over-rated Another Brick In The Wall have now popped up demanding their share of the cash. We don't know if they feel they were cheated - we're picturing a sillhouetted talking head murmuring "We woz told it were a proper campaign against over-use of dark sarcasm in the classroom, we didn't know it were just a song" - or if they're trying it on.

We're not very sure where the legal opinion will fall on this one: the school they came (Islington Green School) from did get a thousand pounds, and we'd have thought that there would be the done deal: the kids were minors, the school was acting in loco parentis and acted as their guardians; albeit guardians who put the cash towards school funds. (And isn't there something glorious knowing that a song which supposedly railed against education ended up funding the minibus for geography field trips and a set of Ich Kann's German text books?)

On the other hand: the headmistress hadn't given permission, and wasn't happy with the whole business, so maybe the school wasn't acting as guardian at all. In which case, surely the kids should be claiming the money from the school rather than the royalty societies?

YOU KEEP IT ALL IN: You think you know his lifestory backwards, and then you discover there's more: The four year gap in George Michael's career was while he mourned his dead boyfriend. Apparently, George picked Anselmo Feleppa out the front row of a gig he played in Rio - something we never thought actually happened in real life. By a Hollywoodesque twist, Freddie Mercury died while they were waiting for the (not happy) result of Feleppa's HIV test.

Friday, November 26, 2004

BRIGHTON SORT-OF BANS HOMOPHOBIC MUSIC: Well, last night's council meeting in Brighton introduced a sort-of ban on homophobic music. We're not quite sure what the point is, or indeed, how it will work: do they now appoint an officer to listen to all the records on offer in Churchill Square and issue polite requests if they don't measure up? It's not really a council's job to tell local record shops what they can and can't stock: while some guidance might be one thing, a totally fatuous and unenforceable ban helps nobody.

A SMALL HINT FOR POP STARS: If you'd like to avoid the fate of Natalie Imbruglia, and don't want strangers turning up at your home demanding you let them move in with you, probably not a good idea to name your album after your address.

Neighbours saw a 44 year old bloke trooping about with a guitar; police were called and now the bloke is in a local hospital under the mental health act. A clearly knowledgeable friend of Natalie said:

"Natalie is terrified of stalkers so she was really freaked out."

Unlike other popstars, who are really laid back about total strangers tapping on their window at four am waving a roll of gaffer tape and a mini-stapler at them.

RECAN THE CAN: In like some sort of astonishing glam rock double deal, Suzi Quatro and The Sweet are working together.

Or at least Andy Scott and Steve Grant from The Sweet are. Working on her new album, apparently.

BEYONCE BLOWS OFF THE KETTLE: We're not quite sure what the Salvation Army Red Kettle appeal is, but apparently Destiny's Children were in charge of this year's.

BEYONCE BLOWS OFF THE KETTLE: We're not quite sure what the Salvation Army Red Kettle appeal is, but apparently Destiny's Children were in charge of this year's.

KEVIN SPACEY PRAISES JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: In an effusive outpouring of affection and enthusiaism, Spacey called Justin smart about sixteen times, and also "very serious." He didn't, as far as we know, go "oooooh... he's GORGE-ous."

"TRUST GOD" ADVISES STEVEN TYLER: While Mariah was out serving the turkey up to photogenic kiddies, Steven Tyler was helping women at a substance abuse centre in Boston. "Here," he was saying "here is turkey, and look - I was smacked out of my gourd on drugs" (he might have held up a pumpkin here as a little joke) "but I'm fine. And you know why? God. Yup." What he actually said was:

"If I can just tell them how good it is for me now, and that it is possible ... then I've done my job," said Tyler, who lives in the Boston area. "Letting go and letting God really does work," Tyler told the women.

We're not quite sure that telling someone hovering on the edge of an addiction to something that they should "let go" is quite the right message, but we know what he meant.

CHIN-STROKEY BOOK NEWS: Hey, have you ever bought a Radiohead album just to make the others think that you're intellectual? Have you waved around the library book format release of that album a couple of years back chortling like an eng lit teacher at a Shakespeare In The Park to show that you "get" it? But have you started to worry that maybe everyone else has caught up on your Radioheadpseudointellectualism? Then you need The Music and Art of Radiohead, a book due early next year which Thinks About Radiohead Too Much ("provides compelling close readings of the English band's music, lyrics, album cover art and music videos as well as critical commentary on interviews, reviews and the documentary film Meeting People is Easy. Established and emerging academic scholars engage Radiohead's music and art via concerns of broader implication to contemporary cultural studies. Topics range from the band's various musical and multivalent social contexts to their contested situation within a global market economy; from asking the question, 'how free is art?' to considering the band's musical influences and radical sonic explorations. Together, the essays form a comprehensive discussion of Radiohead's entire oeuvre"). The perfect gift for someone who has to buy all their own presents. [link lifted - along with the Garbage bit - from DJ Martian]

BLOODY HELL: Unless those top dogs for music have got it all wrong, there's a tracklist and release date for the new Garbage album. Bleed Like Me, out on the fourth of April next year, with these tracks:

1. Be My Bad Boyfriend
2. Run
3. Why Don't You Come Over
4. Guilty
5. It's All Over But The Crying
6. Sex Is Not The Enemy
7. Hanging With The Bitches
8. Why Don't You Love Me
9. Calling All Girls
10. HoneyBee
11. Bleed Like Me
12. Right Between The Eyes
13. Space Can Come Through Anyone
14. Nobody Can Win

EMINEM WORKS WITH A DEADMAN: We're not entirely sure how it is so many, so very dead, rappers are able to keep churning albums out long after they've gone to hip-hop heaven, but 2Pac's got a new album out, and it's being produced by Eminem. Assuming this is a proper album, and it's not like the way Virginia Andrews estate keep discovering books that she'd "written" before she died to publish, how exactly is Eminem "producing" rather than just remixing? Is he going to be flatlining himself, going towards the light and shouting "Eh, 2Pac, did you think this track should end in some reverb or should I just stick a fading sample from the I Love Lucy theme on it?" Or are meetings between talent and producer channeled through Billy Roberts?

I FEEL LIKE I'M A MONKEY AND I'VE DIED AND THE MONKEY'S GONE TO HEAVEN: From the good folk at 3hive: Pixies downloads (or, as you might put it if you were on keyboard-slapping terms with google: pixies mp3 download free no pay music -subscription)

BUT ISN'T IT BEYOND THE US AND UK WHERE PIRACY IS MAKING THE RECORD INDUSTRY UNTENABLE?: Maybe, but then again, Sony-BMG obviously feel the India market is buoyant and worthy of extra investment as they're about to swallow Swar Mala Entertainment: so presumably they feel confident of their ability to turn a profit there. Where is the music industry feeling the heat, exactly?

AND IF YOU NEED ANY FURTHER EVIDENCE OF HOW GREAT THE MUSIC SUITS ARE DOING: British cocaine use is double that of any other European nation, except Spain. A lot of that has got to be down to good times in the A&R department.

DOWNLOADS TO BE PROPER SINGLES - OFFICIAL: At the same time as the BPI were saying how many albums they've sold - did we mention it's more than ever before? Loads and loads of the buggers? - they also confirmed early next year the download chart will be rolled into the singles chart. Interestingly, if you count downloads and singles together, singles sales have increased by nearly 10% over the last quarter; although physical sales are down by 12%. Really, where is the damage illegal downloading is meant to be doing?

ONE SO SOLID GETS CHARGED: Megaman - or Dwayne Vincent, as his now disappointed teachers would have called him - has appeared in court charged with murdering Colin Scarlett. Megaman was remanded in custody. He's also been given a charge of possession of a firearm; co-accused Carl Morgan faces the same brace of accusations.

ONE SO SOLID GETS OFF: Police have said they plan to take no further action against Ms Dynamite for her part in the restaurant rumble:

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "She had been due to answer police bail but there will be no further action in connection with this matter."

CONGRATULATIONS, BPI: You're an industry in rude health - more albums sold than ever before in the UK this year. Remind me again why you feel you have no choice but to bring legal action against downloaders?

DEAD FAN RETURNS TO HAUNT DURST: Fred Durst might have thought that he'd put the whole crushing to death of Jessica Michalik behind him, when he sort-of-co-operated with the inquest into her death. Now, though, her parents are launching legal actions against the individual members of Limp Bizkit and their company in order to get some sort of closure. The cases are liable to be complex - there are other defendants, including the promoters, stage builders and security companies for the Big Day Out - and the girl's mother and father are pursuing separate actions.

At the inquest into the death of Jessica, witness told the coroner that Durst had been on stage encouraging the fans to goad the security team trying to deal with crush, behaviour which was described by the coroner as "alarming and inflamatory."

KILEY GOES SOLO: Most of Rilo Kiley seem to be spending most of their times on side projects at the moment, and now singer Jenny Lewis is doing a little extra bit.

She's about to produce a solo album for Conor Oberst's Team Love label next year.

Conor...? Oberst...?

Conor tried to not grin too much. "Would you be interested in a twelve inch release?" he said, dipping his shoulder slightly. "I can do something for you on Team Love if you're interested." His long lashed eyelids fluttered - a hint of a raised brow. "If you... get my drift..."

BILLY BRAGG 'DANGEROUS AND MAD': For quite a while, Billy Bragg's indirect election plan to replace the House of Lords has been getting a lot of admiration - former housemate of Tony, Charlie Falconer is said to be keen on the plan; Peter Hain is also an admirer. However, Tony Wright (Lab, Cannock Chase) think's Bragg's plan is 'dangerous and mad'. He doesn't actually explain why it's dangerous and mad - probably something to do with turning Britain into a parliamentary democracy, we'd suppose; and where on earth would that lead us?

DOLLY WOULDN'T... WOULD SHE?: Skriking punters are fuming as they come out of Dolly Parton's latest tour, having twigged that Parton is using some sort of backing tape to help her along with her vocals. Using the new standard spin - it's not lip-synching, you know, it's employing a guide track - Dolly has said, more or less, it's a bit much to expect her to drag herself out of her mansion and go on tour, and then to think she'll sing the lot on top as well. And we have some sympathy for her: you're seeing Dolly Parton, in the flesh. Surely that's the key thing?

Now, if she was sending a lookalike down, too... then you'd have grounds for complaint.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

ONLY A LITTLE MORE SUBTLE THAN LEAVING AN ELIZABETH DUKE CATALOGUE OPEN AT THE RINGS PAGE: It sounds like Kylie is dropping hints to Olivier Martinez that she'd like to get engaged over Christmas. Either that, or when she says she hopes for a "huge diamond" she wants a set of enormous playing cards. Perhaps so she can live out her fantasies - "Olivier, you be Brucie, I'll be a dolly dealer... No, Olivier, you get nothing for a pair... not in this game..."

DRUGS DON'T WORK: Oddly, the drugs charities (the ones campaign against, rather than for) aren't very impressed with Pete Doherty being called the coolest person in rock by the NME, because apparently The Kids will read their NME this week and head out and buy crack cocaine just because they've been told it's cool.

The poorly named drug charity Addaction (presumably they were on drugs when they came up with such an awful name) isn't happy:

"The record industry does have a responsibility to promote healthy lifestyles," policy manager Rebecca Cheshire told The Times newspaper.

Does it? Why? You could perhaps argue that - like all other industries - it shouldn't promote illegal activity, but when did the health of the nation pass to the music industry as its duty? Are we to see Rachel Stevens swallowing five portions of veg a day from now on? Is Will Young going to be taking over the MMR programme from the government?

We have a bit of sympathy for the NME here (perhaps naturally) - the point of the list is to take the pulse of the people who've shaped the year, and it's undeniable that from an NME perspective, the Libertines have totally owned the year. The problem is probably in the choice of "Cool" as a description for what they were measuring.

NOW YOU MENTION IT...: There are more important things going on in the world than Geri Halliwell signing records, of course, and the Ukranian election ("the second most questionable election result this year") is one of them. News today that Ruslana, this year's Eurovision winner, is threatening to stage a hunger strike if there isn't a resolution to the crisis reminds us that the 2005 song contest is due to be held in Ukraine early next year. That could be kind of interesting if the country has collapsed into civil war by then.

WHILE SHE WAS THERE, SHE PICKED UP SOME EXTRA WORK ON THE CASH AND WRAP OVER CHRISTMAS: Geri Halliwell is certainly seeing the sights these days:

Signings in Woolworths, is it? Presumably Asda weren't prepared to make space amongst the Mince Pies display.

ARE YOU SURE THAT'S A DOOR YOU WANT TO OPEN, MICHAEL?: We know he's clutching at straws, but is it so wise for Michael Jackson to demand a mental examination of his accusers in the drunk, fiddled kids trial? Won't the prosecution - if the defence demand is granted - turn round and ask for the same thing from Jackson? On the other hand, that could be the plan: for a full psychological evaluation of Mickey would take a while - "give me three years and I might just get to the bottom of the Bubbles thing" said a passing expert - so it could delay the court action indefinitely.

ONE GOOD ALBUM TOUR DESERVES ANOTHER: As if the whole simultaneous single and album thing isn't quite confusing enough, Bright Eyes is planning to tour each album separately. That's in the States and Canada for now, mind, and by the time he's done the two tours for them, and squeezed in some REM support slots, he might find time to get around to coming to see us with one, both, or more album tours. In the meanwhile, indieheads in the UK will have to console themselves by writing Conor Oberst fanfic...

I could tell by the way he was squirming that Conor was getting turned on; the shifting of the buttocks in a chair spoke of a guy who was trying desperately to manage an erection without either indicating what he was dealing with, nor injuring himself on the inside of his too-tight jeans. But why should I make it easy for him? "Just think, Conor," I whispered, leaning over to where he has sat, "if you'd have set up some UK dates, maybe I could have helped with your difficulty..." I gently patted the stretched denim - it was like a rock. "Then we might all have been happy..."

THANKSGIVING PARADE: As part of her comeback slog, Mariah Carey has served up thanksgiving dinner to 300 kids in New York. Apparently the charity Fresh Air Fund invited Mariah along because nobody knows more than she does about making stretching out big turkeys for as much as possible.

DYNAMITE QUIZ: Niomi McLean-Daley is to be questioned over the fight in the Chinese restaurant. Ms Dynamite, as she's slightly better known, has been arrested and released on bail over the incident.

THE FIRST OF THE GANG WITH A GARDEN RAKE IN HIS HAND: It's going to be a simple life for Morrissey after this tour: he's thinking of retiring. Apparently. Someone's read into a remark he made on stage that Mozzer is going to give it all up because he doesn't want to become "an aging rocker" - and there would be some logic to that: he's regained and remade his reputation, so he'd be going out on a high. On the other hand: can Morrissey really turn his back on all those who love him so?

BRITISH CULTURE THREATENED TO BE ROCKED TO ITS ROOTS: Somebody off the X-Factor talent show has got the hump and is threatening not to take part in the X-Factor tour. Verity Keays is upset about something or other and says she won't join the finalists jaunt around the country. We doubt if anyone, at all, is unduly bothered by this.

A FESTIVAL OF OHIO: Good news for Columbus residents: the CMJ and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are going to bring you a mini-festival. Good news, of course, unless you believe that minifestivals have the same effect on a local musical infrastructure as intensive farming: there's a couple of days of plenty, followed by a long, fallow period where nobody goes out as they blew all their money and enthusiasm on those two days.

UNDEAD LETTER OFFICE: REM are giving their fans the chance to buy all their albums all over again, reissuing everything from Green to Around The Sun as a two-disc set featuring the original album you'll already have paid for and own anyway, and stuff like a load of DVD extras and 5.1 surround sound and stuff you don't really need or want.

There's nothing wrong with repackaging albums, of course, but the feeling that this is little more than fleecing the old fans rather than trying to attract the new could be easily chased away if those extra discs were available for cheap on their own. Or even as a trade-in deal.

"YOU SAY SORRY TO GOD": 1Xtra#s Robbo Ranx has got a interview this evening with controv-singer Sizzla. During the course of it, Sizzla basically ruins the argument of his supporters who've tried to imply all the anti-gay rubbish is out of date, insisting that he won't apologise for his anti-gay songs because he won't "apologise to corruption" and that it's the gays who should be apologising to God for breaking his laws. Sizzla does deny that he's a danger to gays and lesbians - he reckons that people who don't like his message should just stay away from his shows, which is either charmingly naive or just lazy: "look, if you don't approve of the annexing of Sudetenland, just keep away from Nuremburg, why don't you?"

THE RISKS OF LEAVING POLKA BEHIND: Bad news for Little Switzerland: the venue in Sonoma, California recently decided to deviate from its usual musical bill of polka bands, polka bands, nothing but polka bands to host a 2 Live Crew date. No, we didn't know they were still going and, no, we don't know why a venue that has its heart in polka would suddenly book them. Anyway, unfortunately, undercover California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control agents turned up, and heard the obscenity, and now Little Switzerland is in danger of a fine or losing its licence. The best bit? The CDABC claim that they weren't targetting 2 Live Crew - they just happened to be making a random check that night. Oh, yes, we totally believe that.

ANY MORE AT HOME, MRS BEDINGFIELD?: Oh, sweetgwen, yes there are: Nikola Bedingfield has just signed a contract, with her voice "like a cross between Lauryn Hill and the Cranberries." The laws of science mean that there must be a finite number of Bedingfields to taunt us and ruin our dreams, but we're worrying in case it turns out they're Hutterites or something. We're bracing ourselves for another five or six, just in case.

"COME DOWN HARD ON US" BEG GLASTO-FANS: Michael Eavis' float of the concept of Blunkett-style ID cards to gain entrance to Fotress Glastonbury next year is proving to be popular: according to Eavis, he's had 400 emails on the subject, 90% in favour. Oddly, they didn't seem to mention that there would be a cost implication when they were asking what people thought; nor did they play up the problem of their having a computer chip loaded with your personal details on it.

BASED UPON AN ORIGINAL IDEA BY...: Lovers of slightly obsessive music websites will be delighted by the knockoff project, which has gathered together a collection of lookalike album covers. Some are parodies; some are tributes, one or two straight rip offs and there's just some coincidences in there as well. [Thanks to Darren for the tip]

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: O2 tell you who's cool edition
Elton John is on the cover of this week's Radio Times, nuzzling up to Billy Connolly: "He's the best-kept secret in comedy." Thats what Billy thinks about Elton, although, to be honest, I think most people have had a chuckle at Elton at one time or another. The Post Office advert, for example?

Ewww! Ewww! What the hell is that on the cover of the NME? It's kind of like those things you used to have when you were kids where if you tilted the picture, Mickey Mouse appeared to be juggling or whatever. Only it's got Pete Doherty on it, a big, 3D almost moving Pete Doherty with a moving Swiss Re building behind him. We're torn between thinking that it's pretty cool (have you ever rubbed your nail on one of those? It sounds like pvc and zippers) and a bit rubbish and unnecessary. Certainly, the one on the back - an advert for O2 - is a bit pointless, but we guess the back explains how they funded the front. We're mainly glad we're not a paperboy trying to get the thing through a letterbox.

It's cool list time again, you see, and that counts as a "special issue".

First, though, we've got to get past Thom Yorke being covered in chocolate, making a point about fair trade. And Bono trying to dig himself out of a lot of silly bother over that Band Aid line - oh, how he wishes someone, anyone else had sung it, but, oh, Nigel Goodrich - who Bono really respects - insisted he sang it.

Peter Robinson takes on Charlotte Hatherley, but she's on a bus somewhere else wearing a hat. And she uses Macs, which makes her even more alright in our book.

Duncan Bell shoots off a little early in the opinion column, starting "So, John Peel's barely cold in the ground and his slot is to be filled by Rod Da Bank..." - erm, yes: but only - so far - until Christmas. Oddly Radio One didn't have a spare DJ sitting about in case Peel dies - although we imagine they might have a chap lined up in case one day Moyles wakes up to himself and needs to be taken off to counselling, wailing "My lord, what have I become?" So Rob is a temporary fill-in. He might become permanent - who knows? - but to criticise Radio One for not putting out two hours of dead air three times a week seems a little bit unfair. Still, Bell quickly moves on to suggesting that a better solution to the loss of Peel would be a hiring from Resonance FM, which isn't a bad idea.

Sharing the opinion page, here comes Fran Healy to do his bit for Band Aid: being lectured by Healy on how to make a better world really rankles - and he's excited about the government and The Rough Guide publishers producing a Rough Guide To A Better World, trying to make doing good trendy, like going to Phuket or wearing a poncho. The terrible thing is, I have no doubt he means well, deep in his little heart, but... it all sounds so smug. Saving the world should be sexy and snarling and angry, not polite and thank-you and sponsored by the bloody Rough Guides.

Cool list, then... Graham Coxon is at 50; Simon Neil from Biffy Clyro at 41 (Biffy Clyro are, though, surely just the Wonder Stuff of the new world, as they don't really seem to exist for any other reason than to prop up bills and release singles to fill up space in the corner of review pages); despite having had a year when he returned to the top of everyone's tousseled hair, Robert Smith manages to drop from 27 to 40; Sam Herlihy from Hope of the States is at 34 (owns stinky Converse trainers); Karen O is down to 31 and Jack White falls down to 26. Leila Moss newly enters at number 23: she thinks The Delgados' Emma should be there too, but she isn't. Apparently we're still supposed to be taking Green Day seriously as Billie Joe Armstrong is at 22. The Maggot - from Goldie Lookin' Chain is cooler (12), apparently, than Andre 3000 (13) but not as cool - quite - Dominic Masters (12). Are selfish cunt cool? Martin Tomlinson is at number 9 - last year he was at 49, which means that he's been around a year achieving, um, whatever it is. Apparently, part of his coolness is because he threw shit at Pete Doherty at that Buck House photoshoot (to be honest, that's pretty much the whole of it). And yet - as the cover might suggest - Pete Doherty is top of the tree. So if he's cool, how can throwing shit at him be cool? Isn't that a contradiction? Even more confusing: Carl Barat is also at number one - which means the maths is wrong (as there's a number two as well as an equal number one) - and although we understand the rationale: laurel and hardy; samson and delilah; richard and judy; love and marriage; frank and esther bough - surely the whole story of 2004 was about the splitting; about the choices both made? Surely you can either think Pete, with his drugs and crime and messing people about, is cool; or Carl, with his brave attempts to help his friend and then his even braver decision that his help was making things worse, to turn away, is cool? There are two choices for number one, but they can't both be number one.

the killers - dublin olympia - "the new songs need to stand up"
lcd soundsystem - paris elysee - "whipped-through seven song set"
the research - london infinity - "so twee they make sneering scensters want to vomit"

jay-z/linkin park - collision course - "pointless, unfathomable", 3
nas - street's disciple - "full of revelations", 9

totw - regina spektor - your honour - ""gurgling like a toddler with tourettes"
electric six - radio gaga - "musical syphilis"

Finally... there's more O2 advertising madness as Agen Blue, Delays and Goldie Lookin' Chain are given mobiles to go and take pictures. GLC keep their clothes on, but Agent Blue let not just their school down, not just the sponsors down, but by dropping their trousers, they let themselves down, too.

DON'T STOP AT THE KERB: Bloody Hell - Kerbdog are getting back together. Yes, that Kerbdog.

DID I EVER TELL YOU YOU WERE MY HERO?: In what might be a great idea, but still has the sense of being a dangerously bad one, a group of acts are going to appear in a charity-type series of gigs with their musical heroes on board. So, we get Ron Wood playing with The Charlatans (10th December); NORE and Big Daddy Kane (9th Dec) and Estelle and Roy Ayers (7th Dec). The cash will go to Nordoff-Robbins; the venue is the Shpeherd's Bush Empire.

TRANSIT VAN MORRISON: Van Morrison is going to slap on his biggest smile and head out for a minitour of the UK next year:

Bristol Hippodrome - Jan 10
Oxford New Theatre - Jan 11
Malvern festival theatre - Jan 15

THE MEMORY DOESN'T LINGER: Apparently - and it's probably for the best - Marc Almond has no memory of the motorcycle accident which put him in hospital. So he can recall straddling a pillion, a throbbing engine between his legs, and the next thing he knew he was lying in a strange bed pumped full of drugs and feeling totally fucked. So, not that different from a usual night out, then.

WHEN YOU SAY "HAD", ROBBIE...: During the course of an interview on Argentinian radio (hey, who says he doesn't have an international profile) Robbie Williams has claimed he's "had" all but one of the Spice Girls. He didn't go as far as to claim who the lucky one (and, let's face it, if it's true, there is just one lucky Spice in this story) was. It's also not entirely clear if he simply means "has had chocolate" with, as his most recent "girlfriend" claimed was his preference.

MORE CONFUSED MESSAGES: As the record labels start to admit that peer to peer networks aren't so bad after all, Warner, Sony-BMG and Universal have all signed up to provide licenses for Peer Impact Network, another p2p group offering tracked downloads.

JERMAINE FINDS TIME FOR HIMSELF: After a year in which most of the legal attention has been on his brother's groin and sister's nipple, Jermaine Jackson has found a quiet spot to file for divorce. It's not clear if he'll be seeking custody of Jaafar and Jermajesty.

IN ME IN COURT: The crackdown on flyposting is starting to gather pace, with Music For Nations being hit with a five thousand quid fine for sticking an In Me poster up in Soho. We suppose the enormous fine is to recognise the enormity of the record being promoted.

Of course, flyposting is one of the things the government will deal with as part of its legislative process away from making thoughtcrime illegal and bringing back internment - the local environment is to be focus of a slew of legislation, and that means things like chewing gum, graffiti, flytipping and, yes, flyposting.

We think it's sweet that TfL - who were London Transport before they were flogged off - are rising to the challenge of flyposting on their property by sticking "cancelled" signs on any posters they see - which, apart from being like Dastardly and Muttley turning fingerposts round (RACE THIS WAY -->), would only work if they didn't tell people they were doing it. They might as well put the words "(not really, it's just us at TfL. Tee hee)" under the "Cancelled".

MY AIM IS WINEHOUSE: Elvis Costello is a cut above your average artist, isn't he? Rather than hoofing round beerhalls, Elvis is doing a tour of the Australian wineries. We're guessing there will be some tasting going on.

This, then, is the current set list:

Accidents Will Happen
Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution)
Waiting For The End Of The World
Radio Radio
The Name Of This Thing Is Not Love
Country Darkness
Blame It On Cain
Either Side Of The Same Town
Hidden Shame
(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
Good Year For The Roses
Heart Shaped Bruise
Everyday I Write The Book
I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down
High Fidelity
Needle Time

Encore 1
Nothing Clings Like Ivy
13 Steps Lead Down
There's A Story In Your Voice
Alison/Suspicious Minds
The Delivery Man
Monkey To Man

Encore 2
No Action
Oliver's Army
(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
The Monkey
Pump It Up
Button My Lip

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

VENUEWATCH: Despite the apparent reputation of the place as a namedroppy address, Hoxton is unable to give a future to Hoxton Hall. There's something spooky about fate throwing two closures of experimental arts centres next to each other in the order these things come out the hat. Damon Albarn, Alison Goldfrapp and Patti Smith have all made use of the arts centre in the past; now, cuts in staffing have lead the Arts Council England to decide that the place is no longer viable, and have withdrawn their funding. Local opinion is riled that Hackney Council found gallons of cash to pour into the Ocean project (a drain on public resources to the tune of GBP25 million) and yet seems unable to find the thirty thousand or so to keep a successful venue functioning.

VENUEWATCH: The twelve year old venue Vincent's Ear, the heart of the experimental art and music scene in Asheville, North Carolina, has been given notice to quit its premises. Owner Joan Morris says the venue will probably close for good December 18th. Vincent's Ear has supported local acts for over a decade, and hosted national bands including The White Stripes, Isotope 217 and the New Jewish Radicals.

STEPPING TOO FAR?: We're not entirely sure we like where we end up if we follow through the implications of Brighton & Hove's plans to introduce a voluntary "ban" on homophobic albums. It's part of the Outrage campaign against homophobia by some dancehall artists, and while we can see they might argue that removing access to the records is no different to denying the artists a live platform, we can't help but feel there's a major difference: when you look at the proposal for what it is - a council seeking to ban publications it disagrees with - and then apply the principle to bookshops, you start to get a worrying vision of where the precedent could take us. We're also a little uncertain as to why the council even feels the need to get involved, if Peter Tatchell is right when he says:

"Records that incite murder are criminal offences, and it is illegal for record stores to promote this music," he said.

"If the stores refuse to remove these CDs we will be pressing the police to prosecute them."

So: it's already illegal to stock these records under British law? Then why does the council need to pass any resolution at all?

Green Party councillor Simon Williams says:

Brighton and Hove is regarded as the gay capital of England. We decided we should take a stand against the record stores," said councillor Simon Williams. "Whilst freedom of expression is valid in most cases, it ceases to be valid when you are talking about incitement to murder people."

... in which case, would Brighton and Hove Council called up newsagents not to have carried The Guardian on the day Charlie Brooker's column suggested we might seek deliverance from George Bush at the hands of a Lee Harvey Oswald?

GOOD NEWS FOR OCEAN COLOUR SCENE: For some reason, the Brits organisers have invited Chris Evans to emerge from retirement to handle next year's awards. It's so long since he last presented the awards show, the last time was when Jarvis invaded the stage during the Jacko and the Kids moment. We can only presume that had Chris said no, Noel Edmonds would have found himself in demand again - and, to be honest, Noel, we'd leave that night free. Just in case.

YES, WE'RE SURE IT HELPS: It's nice to see stars reaching out to all parts of society - Jennifer Lopez, for example, who says she really hopes her image helps "larger women" feel good about themselves.

Yes, it must be very reassuring for women with dress sizes over six to have a celebrity they can identify with, Jen. It's a wonder Evans haven't snapped you up already.

IT'S LIKE A GUY WHO BUILDS COMMUTER BELT HOMES HAVING A POP AT THE SWISS RE BUILDING: It's incredible that Louis Walsh - currently conspiring to dump a plank or two into the musical pool on the X Factor - can be sniffy about Kylie:

"She entertains and people love her but nobody talks about her voice - they talk about her ass. Kylie is a good looking girl and a great dancer but if she auditioned for X-Factor she probably wouldn't get through the vocal."

Now, we might be missing a point here, but since the pop charts have never demanded more than an ability to lightly prop up a tune, where's the problem that she has a talked-about ass and "entertains" people and comes across a lovable? If that would mean she didn't make it onto the top table for Walsh's TV gameshow, could he explain exactly what the "X-Factor" he's looking for is?

WHO CARES ABOUT THE RECORDS, JUST GIVE US THE TROUSERS: Probably summing up the mindset of most pop memorabilia collectors, nobody wanted to spend thirty grand on Elvis' earliest recordings but happily forked over USD110,000 for some old Beatles suits.

U2 HOLD PUBLICITY STUNT: U2 held the world's largest publicity stunt yesterday, holding a big, free gig in New York.

The band played eleven songs across two venues, and the gig also featured Bono talking patent Bonollocks, such as "Science and medicine and God are all the same thing and they should always be the same thing." No they're not - the very defiintion of science is that it must exist in opposition to belief, whereas a God is at the apex of a system that relies solely on belief. And medicine is a specific branch of science.

At the weekend, we caught Bono and The Edge popping up at the Clinton Library opening, which would have been quite an agreeable little set were it not for Bono's strange claim that it was "extraordinary that the Edge and I are able" to offer congratualtions to Clinton for his work on the Irish peace process - it was a classic Bono moment; apparently with his mind on higher things, he managed to place himself (and The Edge) at the centre rather than the man whose work he was supposedly championing. Even George W didn't try to shoulder himself to the front of events in the same way.

PAPERS, PLEASE, FESTIVAL GOER: It's sometimes easy to forget that Michael Eavis stood as a New Labour candidate an election or two back; he didn't win a seat, which is a pity, as he'd obviously be a brilliant Home Office minister: He's planning to bring photo ID cards in, in place of tickets, for Glastonbury.

We're not entirely sure how this could even have a hope of working: would you have to upload a picture when you bought the ticket? What if you bought online? Or would you have to send a photo in? And if you did, how would you be able to prove that the person whose face was sent in was actually the person who bought the ticket, and not just someone who bought them on Ebay? There's some vague muttering that this would cut out forgeries, but how, exactly, would it be possible to stop people forging tickets just because there was a photo on it? "Ooh, we've managed to crack fake watermarks, foiling, and holograms - but printing a picture of a face? That's really game over."

The reason why people forge Glasto tickets are because they're worth forging as they're so expensive. Introducing a whole new level of faux-sophistication to the tickets will drive the price up. That will actually make them even more worthwhile as a target for forgers. Remember: even if the new security measures mean people get caught trying to get in using wonky tickets, it won't actually stop people making and selling fakes - and, generally, those people won't be bothered if the tickets don't get anyone onto the site or not, as they'll have long since banked the cash and disappeared.

KYLIE CONFUSES 'BEWITCHED' WITH OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER: Kylie Minogue reckons that her life is just like Samantha's in Bewitched, because her husband changed half way through and she didn't notice, either. No, hang on, because Kylie has a 'magic ritual' - she turns a teapot three times every morning to guarantee good luck. Just like, um, Samantha in Bewitched, except for Samantha not doing anything vaguely ritual like, what with it being American television and everything.

IF FRAN CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND THEN NOTHING WILL: Chris Martin says his first instinct on being told they were remaking Band Aid was that it was a horrible, cheesey idea. Obviously, he changed his mind, apparently because Fran Healy was doing it and then he saw something on the news about Darfur. We're not sure how either of those things - both horrific in their own way - actually make Band Aid 20 any less cheesey.

FOOTING THE BILL FOR A ROW: According to one of Madonna's never-ending round of press interviews, whenever she and Guy have a row, Guy goes out and buys her a pair of shoes to say 'sorry'. It's not clear what happens when the row is actually Madonna's fault, but then, it's a relationship between an international icon and the bloke who made Snatch: we'd imagine it's very rare than Madonna feels the need to ask forgiveness.

DIGITAL ONLY MUSIC: This is interesting: Universal are experimenting with a new way of working with artists - it's not so much the digital-only sample releasing that's new, but the slight shift in the artists favour - they'll get to keep their masters.

The idea is, basically, Universal will licence music from artists, making it available online. Artists get 25% royalties on every sale - Universal seem to think they're being generous in not making the standard deductions for packaging and promo giveaways, although since there aren't any, that's nothing to be overly proud about. If sales reach a certain point - 5,000, roughly - Universal pick up an option to make the thing into an old fashioned CD.

It's an interesting approach, although we're not entirely sure whether it is such a good deal for the artists - Universal getting 75% of the bunce for little more than a vague promise to "throw its considerable muscle behind the artists" - sure, they have the potential to market the husk out of them, but are they going to bother to do that with acts unlikely to ever break the 5000 download mark?

And even the master deal might not be all it's cracked up to be - do the artists get to hold on to the tapes if the CD option is picked up? We don't know, but it does seem to be unlikely that Universal would put itself out to promote a CD it didn't own the physical primary copy of. In which case: the digital only deal will only be a good thing for artists who don't sell that many, and its debatable if, for them, the advantages of being with universal would be worth the 75% of each sale they'd have to hand over. Only a schmuck would sign away 75% of their business without getting much back in return.

Having said all of which: It's an encouraging sign nevertheless. At last the labels are realising they're going to have to change the way they work. Ten years too late.

OZZY: NOT TONY MARTIN: We don't have much time for Ozzy and Sharon, but we do feel a pang of sympathy for them having been the target of a thief who broke in and pinched Sharon's engagement and wedding rings, amongst other jewellery, because it's a shit thing to happen to anyone. Ozzy apparently caught the burglar and pondered snapping his neck, but let him go - we're trying to picture Ozzy wrestling with anyone, although it's not an image we can form in our mind.

THEY COULD RENAME IT WILDEVALE. BUT THEY WON'T: The hardest-working woman on the fringes of showbusiness, Kim Wilde, has just signed a deal to make her the Christmas Face of Wyevale Garden Centres. They're the ones which aren't as good as Frosts, of course. Kim has a quote, of course, approved by the management of Wyevale:

"Gardening doesn't have to be just for the experienced horticulturalist it can also be a rewarding pastime for the amateur gardener. I'm looking forward to sharing my passion for gardening as well as giving away some of my personal tips."

We're looking forward to getting some of Kim's personal tips. We just hope they have a screened-off area for it.

DON'T PISS OFF THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE: Brian McFadden has had the first version of the video for his slightly Dave Plezery Irish Son single withdrawn after the Christian Brothers school featured in the clip objected that it wasn't the same school McFadden attended. In the song, McFadden claims he was beaten to a shit while at a Christian Brothers school during his childhood. While we can understand BMG withdrawing the video, we wonder if they considered just offering the school in the video the chance to beat McFadden a few times - surely that would make everyone happy?

In other Brian McFadden news, Brian says that after he split with his PR wife Kerry, he found that drinking made things a lot easier. Which is funny, as we found it a lot easier to listen to Westlife songs after a bottle of Jamesons, three gin and its, and a good hit on a Party Seven.

TAKING POISON: Bret Michaels, who used to be Poison's singer, has had his custom-made guitar stolen. There's a one thousand dollar reward on offer for its return. The guitar - which features a picture of a skull wearing a top hat - may have been stolen to order for a collector who loves neither art nor music.

PACK THE KNIFE: Bright-boy Brandon Boyd of Incubus who, you'll remember, tried to get on a flight carrying a switchblade knife has pleaded guilty to attempting to take a weapon on a plane. He's been given a $250 fine. Lucky he doesn't have an Arab name, though, isn't he?

MORE BODYGUARD MADNESS: What with George W having to rescue his own bodyguard this week, and Eminem being killed by his own bodyguard in a toilet related incident (not actually killed, of course) it's starting to look more like the people hiring the bodyguards are having to keep an eye on them rather than vice-versa: now Beyonce: has called for people to stop taking the piss out of Shortie. He's known worldwide for breaking Beyonce's toe and getting stuck in a lift. Apparently, none of these things happened, and its upsetting Shorty. And you wouldn't want to upset a bodyguard, would you?

EMINEM NEARLY GOES LIKE ELVIS: At the MTV EMAs, Eminem went backstage to do some cubicle business. Unfortunately, one of his minders decided that it would also be a good time to have a visit to the toilet. The minder was big. The cubicle was small. And, in the inevitable working through of the rules of physics, Eminem's stall collapsed on top of him. Imagine if it had killed him: the future would be snickering Trivial Pursuit questions and disrespectful sketches and people yelling "What are you doing in there - throwing an Eminem?"

Monday, November 22, 2004

COME ON, JUST A COUPLE OF CHORUSES OF HAPPY BIRTHDAY... OR MAYBE A CAROL?: Joss Stone has been warned if she doesn't shut up she might bugger her voice completely. Doctors have told her that unless she takes a rest from singing, she could find herself seriously damaged. We think it was doctors, it could have been the music lover's maffia, come to think of it. Showing a keen eye for what's important, a "source" said:

"Joss knows just how valuable a commodity her voice is. As soon as her doctor told her that her voice needed a rest, she didn't hesitate."

Yes... your voice is a commodity, Joss. Like a pound of flour or a box of fish in Grimsby.

HORSES' HEAD TO MR. SLATER'S ROOM, PLEASE: We suppose the ragged corpse of Frank Sinatra can't spin much more, as the various rotations caused by Westlife and Williams splotching his back catalogue with their low motility music jism, but if there are any bits left they'll be juddering away with the news that Christian Slater is going to do an albume of Sinatra covers. An "insider" claims that "record bosses are very keen to sign him up", which just goes to show how absolutely shit you can be and still have a big job in the music industry.

Still, at least it'll stop Slater doing acting for a while, creating an opening in Hollywood for a large hunk of slightly decayed wood with the words "Jack Nicholson" painted in a wobbly hand on its arse.

WHITE CLAMBERS ABOARD: The interesting thing about the report on Jack White's surprise guest appearance during Brendan Benson's London gig at the weekend is that it sounds like it wasn't preplanned - in fact, it sounds as if White was trying to avoid the temptation to clamber on the stage... "I can get a little closer, just to see better... if I move a step nearer, that'll be alright, won't it?... one more step, but I musn't get on stage... I'll just move in front of this tall bloke or I won't be able to see... one more step... damn, I'm on stage... how did that happen? 1...2...3...4..."

HE WON'T GET HIS TIT OUT ON STAGE: After the rather awkward incident this year when Janet Jackson caused a rip in public morality by simulating anal sex with a model dressed as the Pope during the half time show, Superbowl 2005 will offer up a safer pair of hands for break-time fun: Paul McCartney. There's little chance of Macca getting his pert little nipples out on stage, which is something of a relief to all sides, of course.

A HAPPY HOPPY ENDING: It looks like Vanilla Ice will be reunited with his wallaroo. And his goat. It turns out he did have a permit all along - it had just expired.

HOW MUCH DOES A WORD FROM THOM YORKE COST?: Radiohead's US publishers really do seem intent on making them look like a bunch of scrooges, don't they? It's nothing to do with the band themselves, but author Chris Turner was presented with a bill for USD350 dollars for quoting 87 words of Radiohead songs in the book Planet Simpson. Payable to Warner Bros. The creators of the Simpsons - from which he quotes far more lavishly - did not press for payment.

Four bucks a word, it works out at. Four dollars a word.

UP ON THE SOAPBOX: There's a new Simple Minds album in the works, and DJ Martian reports that Jim Kerr's flirting with a little bit of politics:

"We have one new tune that is very much in the style of something from our earlier album Empires and Dance. The working title of this dark and dramatic piece is God Save Us From Our Governments - it aptly sums up how we feel regarding Tony Blair's stance towards the notion of disarmament in Iraq. Despite the heavy-handed song title, this is not sloganeering for the sake of it. Throughout our career we have within our music tried to encapsulate the feeling and issues of the times that we live in."

Oddly, of course, nothing says "You've just pissed away another couple of hours of your life watching Molly Ringwald" like Don't You Forget About Me, so we do believe that they achieved that at least once.

MCFLY WIN BIG: Following in the footsteps of Five Star, McFly are this year's big winners at the Smash Hits Poll Winners' Party, um, Poll Awards Ceremony Thing. They picked up best UK band, best album, best video, stars of the year and most fanciable male (for Danny Jones); Busted took best mop top (for Matt's hair), best single (Thunderbirds - no, really) and the much-admired favourite ringtone award. Rachel Stevens was most fanciable female and best dressed (or possibly least dressed) artist. Will Young was worst dressed; Marilyn Manson had the worst hair - which is a little unfair, he might be a vacuous bore who manages to make fetishwear seem unappealing, but he does usually have a wonderful barnet. Natasha Bedingfield was best new talent, Usher best solo and best R&B; Darkness best rock; Eminem best hop hop and, again with the Maroon 5, they were best International act. Shapeshifters picked up best dance act.

Kylie ruefully pointed out her first Smash Hits photoshoot was sixteen years ago when she got her Smash Hits Hall of Fame (no, we didn't, either) prize - which does say something about her longevity, if nothing else.

THATS WHAT I GO OLD SKOOL FOR: Bad news for Busted fans, and, presumably, the Tory party - it looks like that guest appearance for Michael Howard in a Busted video has been put on hold for a while: the band are being put on hold so Charlie can concentrate on his 30 Odd Foot of Grunts side project, Fightstar.

The spokespeople are stressing this isn't the end of Busted, merely a pause:

"This doesn't mean the boys are splitting. They still plan to reunite and work on their new album."

... it's just it won't now be until they get their lifetime achievement award from the Brits in 2012.

THE DARKNESS BUY THE FARM: It was in the Daily Star, so it must be true: The Darkness have spent half a million quid buying some sheep and a farm in Suffolk. We presume that Justin and Dan aren't going to actually be running the thing for themselves, although we do like to picture Justin striding across the fields with a crook in one hand and a guitar in the other.

FIAT LUX: News reaches us of great upsetment in Cambridge, where the local council turned away from their usual choice of Christopher Biggins to do the job of flicking the switch for the Christmas lights. In favour of The Damned. Sadly, this probably reflects less well on The damned than they would hope - for although it proves they still have the ability to create outrage, it also means that the burghers of Cambridge see them as part of a grand pantomime tradition rather than a threat to society.

Still, Cambridge got off more easily than Milton Keynes, who this year have a Snowman theme. Marking the point where boy and frozen chum fly above it, the mall owners have built a replica of Brighton Pavilion for Santa's grotto. Which would be fine, were it not for the fuckwads of the BNP, who spotted the domed ceilings and flew into an enormous rant about how - what with political correctness gone mad and everything - Milton Keynes had put santa into a mosque. When their error was pointed out to them, they were forced into an awkward climbdown. But it does raise the question: if they're so certain they're talking for the heart of the nation, how come they're unable to recognise one of the nation's most famous landmarks?

More to the point: could we persuade Brighton council to build a mini replica of Milton Keynes Mall in the Pavilion grounds?

WHEN GOOD URLS GO BAD: Things would have been pefect for 16 year-old Casey Donovan, who's just won the latest series of Australian Idol. The icing on the cake was full-page ads in all the big Australian papers congratulating her on her win, and inviting fans to log on to her website to download her single. The only problem is, the ads missed off the '.au' from the end of the web address, and unfortunately, Casey shares a name with... well, an American boy in a different branch of the entertainment industry. This is

and this is

Sunday, November 21, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: If you enjoy What The Pop Papers Say, you might want to take a quick squint over at Something Awful, who take their scalpel to music magazines available on the US newstand. That includes NME - "You know what, I think I’ll stop making fun of NME now, because at least these jerks had enough presence of mind to give Good Charlotte a zero."

MICHAEL CHRISTMAS AND A TARRANT NEW YEAR: Radio 2 has chosen to launch its Christmas schedules on a Sunday, which probably means someone in their press office has been bad and been made to work the weekend. They've got some big things lined up: George Mchael is doing a live two-hour special from Abbey Road (18th December); Chris Tarrant is doing a two-hour thing which sounds like what Clive James used to do, only on radio (31st December) taking a - yes - individual look back at the year. Terry Wogan is doing a Christmas Day show ("it's on tape already"), followed by a Harry Hill special doing what Harry Hill does with telly, but with Christmas. And - if you're escaping from charades and the like, there's Mark Lamarr and Jamelia doing Christmas soul and carols respectively. Cliff Richard, Michael Ball , Matthew Wright and Jamie Cullum will be turning up across the fortnight as well, so consider yourself warned.

Meanwhile, over on Radio 4 there's an absolute treat on Christmas Day: The Archive Hour recalls a 1957 Christmas Day broadcast organised by Alan Lomax featuring folk music from around the British Isles. Peggy Seeger didn't make it - she was detained by immigration at Dover; there were complaints about the inclusion of skiffle and the BBC had worried that Lomax was a bit of a lefty. Perhaps the only shame is the highlight of the 2004 schedule is a recollection of the 1957 experiment, rather than a recreation of it.

WE'D SO HOPED HE'D GET TO SPEND SOME MORE TIME IN A GERMAN JAIL: Lucky sod Liam Gallagher managed to escape from his brawl with Legitimate Businessmen in Munich with only a couple of missing teeth. Now, he's managed to escape the legal ramifications with a tiny fine of GBP40,000. The German courts heard that Oasis had already been pissed and irritating when a dj - unaware that the scruffy peanut throwing yobs in the corner were actually Oasis - played one of their records. Liam apparently took the stage to do a karoke version. One of the band fell into the businessmen's table leading to what would have been a bit of unpleasantness had not Gallagher - who tested positive for coke - decided that men in suits would be an easy target and responded with fisticuffs. The men in suits, however, proved more than a match for a bunch of pissed Mancunians, and the scuffle turned into a scrap, before developing into a brawl and eventually a fight. Liam got the shit twatted out of him, windows got broken. Perhaps the person who came off worse was a female toilet attendant who Gallagher showed his cock to during the fight - she gets five hundred quid which she'll probably put towards the many years of therapy she'll need. Let's hope her family are sensitive and don't waggle the parson's nose at her this Christmas - it'll bring it all back for her.

IT'S LIKE SUPPORT ROULETTE: If you're planning on going to see REM on their 'in your face, Bono' world tour next year, you'll have a chance of seeing Bright Eyes or - slightly less excitingly - the Thrills in support. ("Seeing" is a bit of a stretch, of course, as the venues are so huge you're not really likely to "see" anything much). On the other hand, you might get a set from Joseph Arthur or Brainstorm. If you want to check if you're one of the lucky ones, here's the REM dates and supports announced so far:

Lisbon Atlantico Arena - January 7 with Joseph Arthur;
Madrid Palacio Vistalegro - 8 with Joseph Arthur;
Barcelona Palau Sant Jordi - 8 with Joseph Arthur;
Marseille Dome St Just - 11 with Joseph Arthur;
Geneva Arena - 12 with Joseph Arthur;
Basle St Jakobshalle - 13 with Joseph Arthur;
Milan Forum di Assago - 15 with Joseph Arthur;
Bolzano Palaonda - 16 with Brainstorm;
Ljubljana Hala Tivoli - 17 with Brainstorm;
Zagreb Dom Sportova - 19 with Brainstorm;
Belgrade New Arena - 21 with Brainstorm;
Budapest Sport Arena - 22 with Brainstorm;
Prague Sazka Arena - 23 with Brainstorm;
Riga Kipsa Exhibition Hall - 25 with Brainstorm;
Tallinn Saka Suur Hall - 26 with Brainstorm;
St Petersburg Ice Arena - 27 with Brainstorm;
Helsinki Hartwell - 29 with Brainstorm;
Stockholm Globe - 31 with The Thrills;
Oslo Spektrum - February 1 with The Thrills;
Rotterdam Ahoy - 3 with The Thrills;
Oberhausen Kopi Arena - 4 with The Thrills;
Hannover Preussag Arena - 5 with The Thrills;
Antwerp Sportpalais - 7 with The Thrills;
Paris Bercy - 8 with The Thrills;
Vienna Stadhalle - 11 with The Thrills;
Stuttgart Schleyerhalle - 12 with The Thrills;
Liepzig Arena - 13 with The Thrills;
Berlin Velodrom - 15 with The Thrills;
Copenhagen Forum - 16 with The Thrills;
Hamburg Color Line Arena - 17 with The Thrills;
Carling Apollo Hammersmith - February 19;
Sheffield Hallam FM Arena - 21;
Glasgow SECC - 22;
Birmingham NEC - 23;
Belfast Odyssey - 25;
Dublin Point Theatre - 26/27;
Cape Town Bellville Velodrome - March 3;
Durban ABSA Stadium - 8;
Johannesburg Coca-Cola Dome - 10;
Tokyo Budokan - 15;
Nagoya Geijyutsu Gekijyo - 17;
Osaka Grand Cube - 18;
Hong Kong - Wanchai; Convention & Exhibition - 20;
Christchurch Westpac - 24 with Bright Eyes;
New Plymouth Bowl Of Brooklands - 26 with Bright Eyes;
Brisbane Entertainment Centre - 29 with Bright Eyes;
Sydney Entertainment Centre - 31 with Bright Eyes;
Melbourne Rod Laver Arena - April 3 with Bright Eyes;
Adelaide Entertainment Centre - 6 with Bright Eyes;
Perth Burswood Dome - 8 with Bright Eyes;
Graz Freizeitzentrum - June 5;
Lancashire County Cricket Ground - 17;
Loch Lomond Balloch Country Park - 18;
Gothenburg Tragarn - 21;
Oslo Ullevall Stadium - 22;
Stavanger Viking Stadion - 23;
Bonn Museumplatz - 28;
Dresden Elbufer - 29;
Hull The KC Stadium - July 5;
Nottingham Forest Football Club - 6;
Ipswich Town Football Club - 8;
London Hyde Park - 9;
Cardiff Millennium Stadium - 10;

PRODUCEROBIT: The death has been announced of Beach Boys producer Terry Melcher.

The son of Doris Day - and executive producer for her TV programme - Melcher's life was nearly cut even more abruptly short. It's believed that he was the real target of the Manson Family the night they butchered Sharon Tate: the house Tate was attacked in had been rented in his name and it's thought that Charles Manson was looking to settle a grudge developed from Melcher turning down his attempts to become a recording artist.

Although his work with the Beach Boys is perhaps his most lauded work, Melcher worked with an enormous range of artists. He had some troubles working with The Raiders on their first album for Columbia when he attempted to bring in session men to play on one of the tracks. At the time, the Raiders weren't even in the same state, and Melcher's plan was to fly the then lead singer, Mark Lindsay, in to drop the vocal on top. The band, appalled at the idea, rehearsed extra hard to claim their place. The upshot was a producer who learned the limits of his power, and a band who were probably better than they'd even been.

He started out playing rather than producing - as a member of The Rip Chords he managed a minor hit during the surf craze years with Hey Little Cobra. The Rip Chords also featured Bruce Johnston, whose future path would take him to the Beach Boys, while Melcher discovered a lucrative side role first writing, and then producing, for Bobby Darin (in this period he also wrote for Randy Newman). Columbia, spotting his skills in production, hooked him up with the Byrds. It was to be a unhappy partnership as Melcher and the Byrds' management team never saw eye to eye, but did gift the world Turn Turn Turn and Mr Tambourine Man, prompting Melcher to turn his attentions to the Raiders. He would reunite with The Byrds in the 70s, but while the working relationships were much warmer this time round, the work wasn't - one of the albums produced during these years being described by Barney Hoskyns as "Melcher's folly", so overblown and ill-judged were the arrangements.

Gradually, Melcher drifted away from the music scene to concentrate on helping his mother run the Doris Day Animal Foundation. He had been battling melanoma for some time prior to his death. Survived by his wife, one son and his mother, Terry Melcher was 62.