Sunday, November 20, 2005

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The king is dead; long live the king

The next generation, then: The Times has signed up Peel's sons, Williams and Tom, to file regular reports on what's happening in new music. The hope, obviously, is that there's something between ear and spine which is encoded into the DNA, and that the decision to hire them can be justified by genetics rather than nepotism. And nobody would want to deny Tom or William their chance to write for the leading title in the middle-market, but the whole thing feels really unsatisfactory. Whatever their merits - they are charming writers, and at least have more clue than, say, Emma Forrest did when she was picked up by the paper - they know, and we know, their hiring has come off the back of this strange two months canonisation of their father. Indeed, to continue the feeling that there's more than a smack of the Shakespearean-style succession here, it appears the kingdom has been split into two; Lord Thomas of London dealing with the South, and Earl William of Northumberland taking duties for anywhere north of a line running from the Hoseasons offices on the Broads throught the Blue Boar Service stations on the M1.

To be fair, when Justin Hawkins told Kerrang he'd like to see Chris Martin burn in hell, it was after he'd been asked who he'd like to see burn in hell, but it does seem odd taking an underworld furnace to melt a snowman.

The current Elle has a photoshoot featuring Victoria Beckham and her "fantasy man", although our understanding is that these days, pictures of her and husband depcit Posh and a man she could only dream of having a long and happy life with.

Last week's NME was, apparently, the 3,000th issue - although you only knew this if you bought it in a shop, where it came with a special folder trumpeting the milestone; if you were a subscriber, you'd not know. That's why we forgot to send a card, alright? There was a small gift to mark the occasion - the 75 essential songs that you should download from iTunes, sponsored by iTunes (yes, making a week when the NME carried sponsorship from iTunes, Virgin downloads and HMV downloads.)

75 Essential tunes - this is, of course, a very Q magazine sort of thing to do (or, rather, the early version of Q from back when CDs were so new they were like the eyes of God twinkling music into our faces). So, what do we need, then? The Smiths How Soon Is Now is there - illustrated with a chunk of Danny Kelly interviewing Morrissey, when Kelly told him to stop blustering and answer the bloody question: don't you wish you loved people, and people loved you? ("His eyes fix on a spot oon the ceiling. 'Yes. Yes, I do'.")

Then we need Debaser by the Pixies; Love Spreads by the Stone Roses (eh? that's barely essential if you're compiling a Stone Roses box set, never mind the best songs of all time) and Don't Stop Till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson.

And, sticking the old, old lie that The Doors are in anyway important or interesting, we're instructed to put People Are Strange on our iPods. It does give a chance for a shaking down of a meeting between Nick Logan and Jim Morrison, though: "The sex thing has been picked out because that's one of the things that sells papers. They just jump on that", complains Jim.

He's half right, as the 3001st NME cover (remember - never, never let the NME forget - that they once gave Andrew WK two covers in the same week because he was so... uh, what was it?) has Meg White in a gorgeous corsetted red dress. Unfortunately, she's accompanied by some sort of Victorian melodrama escapee. Surely that's not really the once-fabulous Jack White, is it?

White complains about a lack of energy in American audiences - indeed, he seems positively affronted, complaining he put on face paint, wore a bowler hat, played an organ and did 20 minutes rock meltdown and still the Rhode Island audience didn't seem impressed. Have you never heard the dictum, Jack, that nobody likes a show-off?

Richard Ashcroft shares his plans for touring - smaller venues this time, so he can "blow the roof off". And, of course, not have awkward spaces towards the back of a room.

Peter Robinson met Eddie Argos. Oddly, Argos says that he's "obviously" not going to like Bloc Party because he likes Helen Love and Hefner, but that's a little bit like saying "I'm really fond of cheesecake, so why on earth would you assume I'd enjoy drinking wine?"

Forward Russia were the Radar band, which is excellent, even if their habit of naming songs with sequential numbers is less constructivist artifice and makes them seem more like they're churning toasters or something.

At some point, the ghost of NME future will visit the 1970s editorial team, and show them what the future holds: "An interview with Debbie Harry, and it gets a single page? Not even a mention on the cover? And it's headline 'The Strokes - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Madonna : You've got this woman to thank?' Why do you want people to hate her as well?"

Balancing that out, though, there's tales from the NME archive which reaches back all the way to August 1994, and Woodstock's descent into disaster. "Green Day start a riot" is how this slight reworking of history is pitched.

Track of the week last week was The Futureheads' Area - "rock examining its own backyard."

Now controversially sporting a newsagent's definitive, The Word comes slapped with a wonderful CD this month - Guillemots, XTC, and Calexico amongst others. The insides are pretty good, too, including a celebrity magazine decoder - "Fun loving - give you a clue, it starts with a 'c''; "comes clean - admits rumours were true."

There are two pages of Sharon Osbourne, which is two parts self-justification (Does she blame herself for Kelly and Jack's fucked-up lives? gets a "how do you stop kids experimenting?") to three parts tired old bile ("You can't be one day in Horse and Hound and the next in Dyke Weekly" she chides Madonna, seemingly forgetting her own attempts to be simultaneously a hard-drinking, sweary old rock matriarch and a family loving Wal-Mart spokesperson). And she seems to think she's the only person who has anything bad to say about Mother Teresa. Although, to be fair, Christopher Hitchen's dismantling of the Calcuta myth was much more considered than Osbourne's "ugly old cunt in sandals."

Craig Brown, meanwhile, reveals that Elton John enjoyed his parody diary for Private Eye - "You do feel you've failed a bit if they like it."

Back to the NME, and number 3,001 - it's a Gigs of the Year special (i.e. a cut and shunt job to fill a quiet week when they could have done one of their cool lists but, erm, that's next week's.) Still, it's a way of getting Billie Joe Armstrong on the cover without actually having to interview the sod, which is a result.

Farnkie Poullain gets his chance to review the Darkness single. It's insulting, apparently. Interestingly, his big falling out with Justin came when he employed his own accountant.

The NME decides that France's gig of the year would have been the riot-defying Editors, Arctic Monkeys and Devendra Banhart event - although we suspect that the French might have other ideas.

Are we the only people who see Sufjan Stevens' name and read it as Suffering Stevens? Yes? Oh well. Peter Robinson meets up with him gets his name right and asks if his pension scheme is in order.

Radar band is The Maccabees, a lousily named outfit with hoods from Brighton. Surprisingly, there's also a Christian Rock band with the same name. Surely nobody would fight them for it?

So, the Gigs of the Year turn out to include Green Day at the Milton Keynes bowl - a day we remember because there was scant parking at the Toby Carvery; Oasis at the V festival and... surely you're joking? Pete Doherty at Live8? "Live8's one moment of off-the-rails danger and excitement" apparently - although, equally, it could have been just another moment of half-arsed grandstanding amongst many. Mind you, The White Stripes at Glastonbury get a thumbs-up, too, despite them having sounded terrible.

Who are these young men standing with facepaint and waving baseball bats in a threatening manner? Guess, go on. It's fun. No, not Korn. Nor Marilyn manson and chums. No, not SOAD. Or... oh, stop it. It's My Chemical Romance. Hey, they reckon "if you come to a My Chemical Romance gig, you're probably a little fucked-up." Well, certainly your taste is.

The Hot Puppies - London Water Rats - "Hot like brimstone"
mystery jets - Glasgow King Tuts - "marry Pink Floyd to the Flaming Lips"
cut copy - london ulu - "multi-limbed dance action"

limp bizkit - greatest hits - "oily McMetal", 0
bearsuit - team ping pong - "rollerskating pandas", 6

totw - clap your hands say yeah - is this love? - "weird love"
field music - if only the moon were up - "a log fire for spiritual feet"

And finally, thanks to Aaron S for bringing Geordan Murphy's diary in The Times to our attention. Besides playing rugby for Leicester and Ireland, Geordan is dating Lucie Silvas, and uses his column to defend his girlfriend against bad reviews:

"Like, after a recent concert in London, someone wrote something like: “Doesn’t have the power of Mariah Carey — as pretty as Jessica Simpson but not as good as Kylie Minogue.” It was all over the place.

She prides herself on knowing her music. Ask her who her idols were and you wouldn’t get anything poppy. Mariah Carey would be one, Aretha Franklin — serious singers with soul.

She wouldn’t want to be mentioned in the same sentence as Kylie. She can play and writes all her own stuff. Anyway, there I am, off on my high horse again. The bus is leaving at seven and everyone’s welcome."

She knows her music, but thinks Mariah Carey is a "serious singer with soul"? Sounds like she knows about as much about music as we know about rugby.