Saturday, August 13, 2005


It's just a rumour right now, but... could Google tie up with Apple to offer iTunes?


The people who run the "Spirituality For Children" wing of the Kabbalah centres will be gurgling with delight as Britney Spears has apparently given them a cheque for £18,000 in order to "ease" her kid's entry into the culty cult. (Because, you know, the Kabbalah guys might turn down a high-profile celeb kid if they didn't come with a massive cheque attached.)

A source close to the 23-year-old reveals: "Britney made the charity donation last month. Madonna suggested Spirituality For Kids because she thinks it's amazing.

"She has told her that introducing her baby to Kabbalah as soon as possible will be greatly beneficial to everyone involved in the child's upbringing."

Especially, of course, the centre being able to draw down large sums of cash off the child's parents.

"Britney hasn't made a big deal of her gift because some of her family are suspicious of Kabbalah.

"But she thinks Madonna's a great role model and would never question her advice."

Well, at least Madge can still tell someone what to do. We wonder if we can persuade her to tell Britney to shove a few quid our way, too? It wouldn't bring any benefit to Britney or her kid, of course, but then that's not so very different from giving the string sales company money, is it?


Can it really be true that Courtney Love is getting down and dirty with Steve Coogan? Really?

Apparently she's been writing letters:

“It’s so weird and wrong and good and sweet and evil being with you…You are beautiful my little baby and by the way, I love you too.”

Well, love does strange things to a person (that's love with a small L, although, actually, the sentence remains true if the initial letter is capitalised, come to think of it). We wonder if Steve's shown her the Kurt tampon ad from The Day Today yet...

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Ten years after, what news of Britpop now?

It's been a while since the last pop papers, and even longer since we last got hold of a copy of Sound Nation, the Welsh music magazine which has been reformated in our time apart as a sexy little A5, giving it an even greater feel of having tons of stuff going on. Apparently Huw Stephens is going to be taking on the mantle of Lamacq as Reading Festival main stage compere - that's in the same year as he took over Peel's show as well. If we were Andy Kershaw, we'd be keeping an eye...

There's a handy guide to how to plug your music to Wales' commercial radio stations - GTFM are especially generous in the information they provide, despite having a daytime policy of targeting the over 30s. (NB: After 30, you cease to listen to new music and just replay the same four songs over and over again: the one you lost your virginity to, the one you got dumped to, the one playing the day you discovered your first grey hair, and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.) There's another useful guide to setting up your own record label, and to getting registered with the Video royalties people, which are useful even if you don't intend to set yourself up in Wales.

The Super Furries line up for an interview - in keeping with the magazine's remit, it's more about the process than the product; the band defend recording in Spain and Brazil on the grounds that that's where their producer had gone to live. Daf points out that the costs of doing this worked out cheaper than recording in Rockfield, which might not be quite the pro-Welsh industry line you'd expect him to toe.

Ceri Sherlock is the commissioning editor of S4C - which is now, of course, the only "domestic, indigenous" TV network in the country; he finds himself with a similar problem being faced by BBC TWO and ITV, in that their flagship music shows are under-performing. In his case, the programme is Bandit, and, admits Sherlock "it's worrying that even its core audience doesn't feel committed to tuning in."

Talking of Pop TV, the Magic Numbers' Top of the Pops walkout has already doomed their career to have them forever tagged as 'the band who walked out on the fat remark'; adding insult to, well, perceived insult, The Guardian even got Anne Widdecombe in to offer an opinion - she advised them they'd be better off disarming critics by embracing playground taunts. "I answer the telephone 'Karloff speaking'," she trilled - although being a Tory MP is a job where you expect to be ridiculed, whereas creating pop music... oh, hang on a minute...

It's ten years since the great Blur versus Oasis battle, when the release dates of Roll With It and Country House were brought together to decide, once and for all, who the greatest Britpop band was. (Pulp, it turned out, according to our paperwork.) It seems odd to be celebrating a decade since a thing that wasn't really all that important in the first place, but it gives us something to do while preparing for August 2015 and "The Weight Of The Years: Magic Numbers, Bacon and TOTP ten years on" edition of the Sunday Telegraph magazine.

The Guardian's Friday Review calls in Britpop's Boswell John Harris to consider what the world might have been like without Britpop. A grim place, he reckons (presumably on the basis that he wouldn't get commissions to write articles like this): "The world these people built, however, has endured... the idea there was ever an underground, where bands could ply their trade wihtout paying any attention to commerce, seems almost laughable." We're not so sure - yeah, the Kaiser Chiefs might have blossomed overnight, but that doesn't mean there's nothing going on beneath your radar, Mr. Harris.

Graham Coxon rolls up to be less than impressed with the whole thing - "there is some sort of dealing with the devil" and the horrors of "self-congratulating, coke and champagne people."

Harris also hits McGee with the Oppenheimeresque 'destroyer of worlds' charge - that Oasis, trying to scrable back ground after being bested in the Britpop head-to-head, changed British music by releasing Wonderwall: "From hereon in," opines Harris, "the lighter-than-air ballad became obligatory and the leather trousers era of rock & roll was over." McGee is horrified: "I don't think you can blame Noel Gallagher for Coldplay. And you can't blame him for Athlete..."

The NME, of course, was there, and pulls some plums out of its archive: the two covers it produced to run the day after the chart was announced (one proclaiming 'Two-Nil' in case Oasis came out on top; the 'Top Dogs' used in the event); a screengrab of a pissed-off John Humphrys reduced to doing the Blur-Oasis battle on the Nine O'Clock News. Steve Sutherland drags back to recall that it was Tommy Udo, then the NME's news editor, who first spotted that the release dates coincided. (Indeed, at the time, The Sunday Times ran an editorial suggesting that the whole thing had been drawn up by the bands in cahoots - cahoots, they say - with the NME.) To be honest, we're always slightly surprised when the issue trumpeting the battle fails to make any sort of list of the worst NME covers ever - it was supposedly tricked out as a boxing poster, but it didn't work either as a magazine front page or as an announcement of a forthcoming bout. Sutherland slightly overplays the importance of the battle, asking us to imagine how it would be if the story of two bands releasing singles shared news space with the current stories of suicide bombs in London; of course, the fact there was no such compelling home news at the time helped create the atmosphere in which the all-important Top 40 did become, sort-of all-important for a week.

There seems to be a general consensus that Oasis won the long-term war, because they are playing to enormous venues around the world. I suppose it all depends how you judge victory, doesn't it?

Back to 2005, and back to another spat - although Kele from Bloc Party and Eddie Argos from Art Brut having a fight at indie club Catch doesn't seem to have troubled Huw Edward's running order, to be honest. Oddly, it seems that Bloc Party calling Argos "fat" while talking to Edith Bowman had kicked off the rumpus - "it's the kind of comment which killed Karen Carpenter," sniffs Argos. ("She said, 'Eddie, you look so underfed', indeed). Of course, this kind of girth-related name-calling is quite the thing right now, what with the Magic Numbers TOTP walkout, and its the Numbers who are on the front of this week's NME.

Of course, the interview predates the Bacon Fat Spat. Paul Moody describes the band as "four asylum seekers from Middle Earth", but not to their faces. Presciently, Moody ended the interview asking about the weight thing: Romeo says "it gets to the girls a bit, but, y'know, it comes with the territory. I'll just remember what Brian Wilson said to us. We went into catering at a festival and he looked over and said 'eat all you want'. If anyone says anything about it again, I'll just say we're obeying Brian's orders."

Or perhaps not.

The really refreshing thing about this week's NME, though, is it's got girls in it. For the first time in years, a Radar/On peice about a new scene - in this case the New Yorkshire - has managed to find a whole bunch of bands which have more than a token female presence. Long term pop papers readers will remember how we used to despairingly work out the proportion of women in the annointed new bands, but with The Long Blondes, the Research, the Ivories, and Forward Russia amongst the bands making "Yorkshire the hottest place for new music, clubs and labels" it's almost like there's change in the air.

More ladies: Alison Goldfrapp is wrestled by Peter Robinson. She predicts the eight Goldfrapp album will sound slow and out of tune "because by then we'll be old and deaf."

The Bravery - in Japan - [Dirt reports] "today i was in the crowd, and the Japanese were just very lightly touching me. In the UK, I'd be lucky to leave with my pants."
veto silver - kings cross water rats - "a pile-up between Fischerspooner, Busted and Razorlight"
mew - london ICA - "accompanied by a talking puppet of the young Fred Durst"
nastyfest in Leeds: "he's playing the drums with his cock" (apparently the drummer from Electric Eel Shock, so at least they're aptly named)

supergrass - road to rouen - "Floyd flavour; Smashing Pumpkins 1979 bled of any wankery", 7
the prcolaimers - restless soul - "at least one pure pop nugget", 7
alfie - crying at teatime - "patchy, leaden, clogged up with overstated string sections", 5

totw - franz ferdinand - do you want to ("on the radio now" but otherwise unobtainable legally until September) - "a dash of sexual intrigue"
sons and daughters - taste the last girl - "chugging quo-esque riff"
broadcast - america's boy - "like Alison Goldfrapp, but melancholy rather than horny"

And, finally, in the pages of the rather-fine Zembla magazine (Asia Argento on the cover, and you really can seldom say fairer than that) they've got the Marilyn Manson ads for Vivienne Westwood. It's the perfect marriage - two old tarts who got rich off denaturing and repackaging teen rebellion and selling it back to them.


An independent counsel employed by Fox and the producers of American Idol has found, independently, that Paula Abdul never did the thing she was supposed to have done - no affair with Corey Clark, no coaching of him, nothing:

Clark's claims, which he made in a highly publicized edition of ABC News' "Primetime Live" "have not been substantiated by any corroborating evidence or witnesses, including those provided by Mr. Clark," the statement from FOX read, according to AP. "Ms. Abdul acknowledges that she had telephone conversations with Mr. Clark while he was a contestant. Their accounts of those conversations, however, differ greatly, and no evidence was uncovered to resolve the conflicts in their accounts."

So, if we're reading that right, the Independent Counsel couldn't find anyone to back up the claims rather than discovering anyone to actually refute them. Which is enough to consider the whole thing closed.


Upset and confusion over in Canada, where radio station Q107 played out a 2002 bootleg Rolling Stones gig on Wednesday evening. Unfortunately, a lot of listeners seemed convinced they were listening to a real invasion of Martians... sorry, a live feed of that evening's Stones gig in Toronto. It seems Q107 may have been hoping for the confusion:

Corus Radio Toronto general manager J.J. Johnstone is also Q107's station manager and Bartrem's boss. He told the Sun yesterday he did not hear Wednesday evening's broadcast. But he said the station made a mistake.

"We put it on and it could be seen, or be inferred, that it was the broadcast from the other night -- but that's not what it was," he said. "We could have been clearer in letting people know that it was the Palais Royale show but, unfortunately, we weren't."

As for suggestions by angry fans on various Stones-related message boards that crowd noise was added to the broadcast to make between-song voiceovers by host DJ John Scholes seem more "live," Johnstone says that didn't happen, that what listeners heard was actual background noise from the bootleg recording.

"We were trying to give a service to our audience who could not make the show that night. And that's it."

Of course, away from the passing-off question, there's also a small matter of the tapes they were playing being, technically, illegal:

As the Sun reported yesterday, Stones management was not angry that Q107 illegally aired an unauthorized bootleg recording of the Palais Royale show, but would be "very angry" if the station intentionally duped listeners into believing the recording was a live simulcast of Wednesday's show.

... but of course, the band would have got their airplay cash from the concert if it was an authorized recording or not.


The death of a fan trampled during a Limp Bizkit gig in Sydney continues to hang around Fred Durst; the band's insurance company is now suing the band to avoid having to pay the group's legal fees incurred during the wrongful death claims brought by Jessica Michalik's parents:

The insurer said in its lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday, that Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst incited the audience at the festival to rush the stage. United National also claims the concert was not covered by a liability binder it issued for the band in 2000.

Michalik "was either crushed or trampled to death as the crowd, allegedly incited by Fred Durst's comments, surged toward the stage where Limp Bizkit was performing," the lawsuit said.

The band did successfully get the claims against them quashed by a New South Wales court (apparently the claims against the other defendents, including the promoters, were settled during the last month). At the inquest - which Durst only agreed to attend via a videolink, claiming he was too "busy" to fly out to Australia - the coroner wasn't that impressed with Durst and the Bizkits, and the attempts that had been made to spin them out of the situation:

It was evidenced that the Press Release issued by the BDO on 27 January 2001, on behalf of both themselves and Limp Bizkit stated that, “Several times during their performance Limp Bizkit urged the audience to step back and assist fellow concert-goers in need of assistance, and promoters compliment the band’s diligence in this. The organizers of the event would like to acknowledge the full co-operation of Limp Bizkit through this difficult situation and their commitment to the safety of their audience.” When questioned during the Inquest, Mr. Lees stated that “I think what I was trying to do was put a positive read on the very difficult situation that we were within and the need for us to be able to maintain a working relationship with Limp Bizkit”. When asked further by the Coroner if the statement was true or not he responded “At the moment I would be remiss in saying that that paragraph was true, yes.”

While the promoters were found to be at fault for failing to take account of ther sort of audience and act they were creating having Limp Bizkit on the bill, and for failing to introduce the basics of good crowd safety measures such as a 'voice of god' microphone to allow direct communication with the crowd. However, the coroner also was less-than-impressed with Durst's decision to use a serious safety issue as a chance to settle scores:

Mr. Durst also came in for additional criticism for the band’s actions during the rescue attempts at the Sydney event commenting that his statements (made over the PA) were “alarming and inflammatory. You can see that by the way the crowd reacted”. Ms. Milledge added that it was “an unrealistic notion to think that Mr. Durst should be ‘monitoring’ the mood and behaviour of the crowd, his brief is clear….to entertain’. However it was iterated further that the performance cessation protocol had triggered and that Mr. Dursts’ comments were found “inflammatory and insulting to the security personnel who were engaged in their best efforts to extricate crucially injured patrons from the crowd collapse.” And that “Mr. Durst took advantage of a terrible situation to air his contempt for the promoters and security. Yet there were moments when he sensibly urged them to look after one another and pick each other up”.

While Durst may have been found in court to not have been responsible for the death, the insurance company seems to be suggesting that his unhelpful behaviour left himself open to the lawsuit in the first place. It might just be enough to get them off the hook.


There's rumblings of a new shift in policy coming from the RIAA: it looks like they're now going to turn their attention to CD burning:

"Burned" CDs accounted for 29 percent of all recorded music obtained by fans in 2004, compared to 16 percent attributed to downloads from online file-sharing networks, said Mitch Bainwol, chief executive for the Recording Industry Association of America.

Yes, having tried - and failed - to stem the sharing of unpaid files online, they're now going to go after something else that doesn't harm their industry at all: the mix tape. Making the same wrong-headed leap they made with peer to peer sharing - that a music track someone hasn't paid directly for must always mean one lost sale, the RIAA has decided that people sharing their musical finds, making mixtapes for their girlfriends and boyfriends, and burning CD compilations of music they've already paid for to take on car journeys must be stopped:

"CD burning is a problem that is really undermining sales," Bainwol said in an interview prior to speaking before about 750 members of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers in San Diego Friday.

Copy protection technology "is an answer to the problem that clearly the marketplace is going to see more of," he added.

We're still not sure how he thinks that's going to work. I buy records in order to fillet off the decent tracks onto compilations for when we go on trips. If the record industry want me to pay for CDs that I can't use in the way i want, they'll succeed in persuading me to change my habits. I'll just stop buying records altogether. Once a CD starts to tell me in small writing that it may or may not play through my Mac, it goes back on the shelf - I'm not going to shell out ten quid for something that might, if I'm lucky, be playable but otherwise unusable, or may lock my computer up completely. It's like buying a book which may or may not have half the pages missing.

The focus on CD burning Friday was welcomed by Alayna Hill-Alderman, who said she has seen music CD sales slide in recent years while sales of blank recordable CDs have soared.

"We are feeling the decline in our store sales, especially with regard to R&B and the hip-hop world," said Hill-Alderman, co-owner of Record Archive, a two-store company operating in Rochester, N.Y. "It's all due to burning. We've lost tremendous amounts of those sales to flea markets and bodegas."

Hang about, Alayna... it's all down to burning? But surely that's not the case - after all, album sales might be down 7% year-on-year in the US, but total sales are up 21%; wouldn't much if not most of the sales downturn of physical CDs be down to people buying music online? And while you may be losing physical sales to the flea markets and bodegas, isn't it equally possible that your customers are relocating to Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy where the CDs are cheaper and can be picked up with your shopping and shoes and garden furniture? And what about the illegal downloading that was exercising the RIAA? Has that, magically, not had any effect on your business at all?

Simon Wright, chief executive of Virgin Entertainment Group International, which oversees the Virgin chain of music stores, said he's in favor of labels releasing more albums in a copy-protected CD format, regardless of the potential for consumer backlash.

"If, particularly, the technology allows two-to-three burns, that's well within acceptable limits and I don't think why consumers should have any complaints," Wright said.

You don't, Simon? Well, how about this: I've paid for my CD, and I want to decide what to do with it, on the same basis that I've been allowed to for the last thirty years when I've been buying music and supporting your industry. If, all of a sudden, there are to be limits placed on what I can do with the CD, then I'd expect to see a substantial reduction in the price, in the same way that a disposable plate costs a lot less than a plate i can use many times. And when you say "acceptable" - to whom? I have songs which I put on every bloody compilation I make (I'm told the technical term for this is 'anal') - why is this unacceptable to you?

The big question is: does all this signal that the RIAA have accepted they've lost the filesharing battle, and are trying to move on to safer ground?

Friday, August 12, 2005


That much-abused genre, the tribute album, gets a bit of fresh air with the collection of songs from Mister Rogers. (For those of you not in a position to grill an American, Mister Rogers was the host of a long-running US kids TV show, the one who wasn't Captain Kangaroo; he was killed by a giant purple dinosaur sometime last year.)

The stars singing the songs from the series are a pretty impressive line-up: Donna Summer, Roberta Flack, Ricky Skaggs, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans B.J. Thomas, Bobby Caldwell, Crystal Gayle, John Pizzarelli, Jon Secada, Maureen McGovern and Toni Rose; the sparkle dulls somewhat with the details of the albums' distribution. It's going to be flogged through QVC.


Hey, Mike Skinner - that wasn't Jo Whiley's microphone you stole... it was all our microphones, except for people who don't pay their licence fee, of course. Now, you might think your rapping confession apology makes thing square, but... you know, public property and all. We'd love to let it go...

"I did something bad but always vowed to my soul
That if my next record increased the amount of albums I sold
enough for Mike not to end up back out on the dole
I promised I'd promptly send you back what I stole."

Oh, alright then. Just don't do it again...


The only thing more frightening than Jay Kay issuing threats is... sorry, did we say "frightening?", as we meant ridiculous. Jay Kay, who got punched on his stupid nose last year has suddenly started fuming about how he could have had him:

"I'd still like to get hold of the geezer and give him a good duffing up. If I find him - and I will one day - he can be sure I'll give him a good stuffing."

"A good duffing up?" Presumably Kay will be hoping that Venebales and Boddington keep a check on the door to make sure Old Wilkie's not doing the rounds while he adminsters this thrashing. Kay doesn't quite explain why, when he got pulped last time, he thinks things will be different if he ever meets this bloke again, but he does seem to be suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress: nobody in their right mind would trot out something like this:

"Was it upsetting? Not really. There's an element of it that rounded off my notoriety quite nicely."

On the other hand, maybe Kay has realised he's a notorious prat and being punched on the nose really does round off the image as a fool despised by virtually everyone he meets.


It turns out that Noel Gallagher doesn't know what half his songs mean. Presumably because when he tries to think about the actual lyrics, he starts to feel a bit odd...:

"I get the odd night when I'm halfway through Don't Look Back In Anger when I say to myself. 'I still don't know what these words mean!'

"I'm thinking what the ...what the... 'stand up beside the fireplace'. Why?

"And all these kids will be singing it at the top of their voices with all their arms around each other and I kind of feel like stopping and going, 'Look, can somebody help me out here? Am I missing something?'"

... and then something like this happens...


We have no idea if this is a true story or not, although it seems to be to elaborate to be a hoax, and who'd create a hoax about Scott Stapp anyway? So, to read and enjoy on a Friday: The former singer of Creed travels to Dennys in Gainesville in the hope of getting some action. Dennys in Gainesville is waiting for him.


With the music career looking (unfairly) dodgy right now, Rachel Stevens might be hoping to keep her options open as an actress. And, luckily, she's got a part in the Deuce Bigelow sequel. And as if that wasn't bad enough, it's hardly the sort of appearance which will look great on the showreel:

Rachel appears for a total of less than a full minute in this movie. She playes a character called "Louisa the dirty girl." Deuce rings her door bell, and there she is all covered in mud/dirt. After the camera goes to another scene, it comes back to the two of them riding in a gondola (on the rivers of Venice most likely) and Deuce tells Rachel to look at something. Rachel turns and looks and Deuce pushes her into the lake. After that, as you've seen on the trailer, she emerges from the lake looking gorgeous. She has no spoken lines whatsoever.

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Her agent is warning her it might not be enough for a lead actress oscar.


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Here comes Mew for a tour:

Sheffield Leadmill (September 16)
Northampton Roadmenders (17)
Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (18)
London Islington Academy (19)
Brighton Concorde 2 (21)
Leeds Cockpit (22)
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (23)
Liverpool Academy 2 (24)
Birmingham Academy 2 (26)


The cops were all over Babyshambles last night, grabbing the band's equipment. The police were called to the band's Duke of Clarence gig in London by environmental health after complaints about noise. The band have flown out today to a date at the Oya Festival in Norway minus amps; they're hoping to borrow some stuff there. Although, to be honest, if Pete Doherty came up to you and said "could I have a lend of your guitar, mate", you'd have to be very trusting to say "there you go, pal..."

Meanwhile, the organisers of Lost Vagueness have denied that Pete and Kate will be playing there this weekend (probably because they're in Norway. Unless, erm, they were going to fly BA to Norway...)

Actually turning up to Lost Vagueness, by the way, will be the totally more glamourous Priscillas. They're there on Friday night.


Paul McCartney - who, you'll recall, likes to believe he's pretty easy-going as press coverage is concerned - has been on the phone again:

"I tried to let it go over my head, but these columnists got too vindictive. I could see it was hurting Heather. I got a few cuttings together. I couldn't believe it.

"There was one where this woman was saying, 'What is she doing opening a cosmetics company?' And then it went, 'She's not even pretty.'

"I thought, 'Excuse me, I'm ringing her up.' I was like, 'How dare you write all this [bleep]? I'm her husband. I've seen the picture at the top of your column and you're really not pretty. And then you've got it wrong about the cosmetics company. She's actually doing a cosmetics cover for an artificial leg. She's helping people. Do your bloody research.'"

It's noble of Paul to defend his wife so vigorously when people make her look stupid. Pity he didn't get on the phone when she was asked to appear on Question Time...


What a cruel trick to play, getting everyone's hopes up: when Chris Martin took the stage at the Fuji festival, he called out "Sayonara". But then, having said goodbye as he came on, he did proceed to play a full set. Which seems unfair.


Returning this Monday: Sigur Ros, with an interweb only download, Glosoli, from the new album Sigur Ros.

Actually, of course, it would have to be internet only if it was a download, wouldn't it?


At some point last year people thought that Pete Doherty might be some sort of romantic poet; if he'd have quit then he might have been able to hold on to that image. Now, though, we find out that he's just like every other dull suburban bloke: fall out with the girlfriend; try and get back into her good books by buying her a gift; get it wrong and buy a gift for yourself instead. So Kate can expect to unwrap £300 worth of 'sexy' knickers. He's not Percy Shelley; he's Jack Duckworth.


Amongst the charmers auditioning for the X-Factor (the Pop Idol with Sharon Osbourne on the panel) was a bloke who re-arranged his mother's funeral so he could pursue his "dreams". There were 75,000 hopefuls, which does make you wonder where this unending supply of people with overarching ambitions actually comes from.


Hurrah for Sharleen Spiteri of Texas, who's happy to be getting older:

"I don't personally have any problem with getter older, whereas some women do. I'm quite happy to get older - I feel that my life's got a lot richer and my mind's got a lot richer."

It's about time someone stood up to the popular belief that, as you get older, you lose your sense of style and elan and just start to wear silly woolly hats and look a bit confused and...



You've got to love the Tories - casting round for a reason for their inability to attract support at the last election, they don't decide it might have been the nasty, racist overtones of their early campaign, or the decision to put Michael Howard at the front of their party. Oh, no. It can't be anything as simple as their party being difficult to warm to, so they have to seek other reasons. In South Dorest, for example, they've decided the 4% drop in the Tory share for candidate Ed Matts is down to their deputy constituency chair going to see Kylie Minogue's gig four days before polling day. Daniel Smy has now been forced to resign.

Thank god it wasn't a Dannii Minogue gig - the party would probably have lost their deposit.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Good news for the campaign to keep CBGBs afloat: a New York judge has dismissed claims for USD300,000 in back rent, and, more importantly, stressed the cultural importance of the venue:

CBGB has proven itself worthy of being recognized as a landmark — a rare achievement for any commercial tenant in the ever diverse and competitive real estate market of New York City [...] It would be unconscionable for this court to allow petitioner to proceed with its intent to evict CBGB ... because it failed to notice that monies were outstanding for approximately four years."


Has anyone got any ideas for something Ronan Keating could spend his money on? Since anyone who is dull enough to waste £100,000 on a golf cart clearly has some trouble trying to know what to do with it.


One of the longest-stuggling Christian Rock groups has decided to quit: Petra have been at it for thirty-three years, more or less underlining that Satan has the best tunes.


A good reason to buy a U2 ticket, and, equally, a great reason to leave early and miss the clusterbuggage at the Car Park: The Arcade Fire will be supporting U2 at the following Canadian shows:

11/25 Corel Centre - Ottawa, ON
11/26 Bell Centre - Montreal, QC
11/28 Bell Centre - Montreal, QC

The Arcade Fire deserve better...

VIDEOBIT: Matthew McGrory

The death has been announced of Matthew McGrory, the 7' 6" actor who appeared in Men In Black II and Big Fish. The 32 year-old, who died of natural causes, had also made appearances in a couple of pop videos, for Marilyn Manson and Iron Maiden. In the Maiden's Wickerman video, he brought the band's skeleton logo, Eddie, to... well, zombie-like life.


In order to raise money for something, the bricks from the Detroit Artillery Armory on Eight Mile have been being auctioned on that Ebay. The Dickinson-teasing best of the bunch, signed by Eminem, has just sold for USD685.

David Dickinson has been in the auction game for twenty-five years. Don't go asking him if he's done his homework.


We're wondering how annoyed TOTP are that the most exciting thing to happen on the programme in years didn't actually happen on the programme. Meanwhile, The Magic Numbers have launched into a justification of their walkout:

“Basically, we thought it was uncalled for, we were introduced in a bad manner, and it was just not funny. We were really excited about appearing on ’Top Of The Pops’, it was a dream for us, and we got up there, and there was no way we could have played the song after that…

“It's fine, the way I see it is it's done and dusted, we walked out, we just wanted to stand up for ourselves. With any reviews and in interviews, people always mention it, but we're like everyone else, we're able to take a joke. We're not over sensitive about it, we feel confident and cool about ourselves and think we look great as a band.

“We just thought within an introduction from a presenter, it's like, you're not going to say, 'Here's a young guy with blinding talent, here's Stevie Wonder', you wouldn't say that.”

Asked if ’TOTP’ presenter Richard Bacon had apologised, Stodart said that he had no problem with the presenter himself.

He added: “I didn't even know who he was until after. When people said that people don't even like him, I thought ‘That doesn't matter’, it was just the fact that someone said it when they shouldn't have.”

We're still not ay the wiser as to if they were really offended or not - after all, this was a rehearsal; if it was such a big deal, they could have had a word with the producer and asked that the intro be re-written before the broadcast - walking out seems to be an over-reaction even if there was offence; for a band who are confident and able to take a joke, the packing up and stropping out seems to be enormo... sorry, wildly ill-judged.

The one thing we can't figure - if Bacon was having a pop at them, why didn't go after the beards?


Like that mid-afternoon Glastonbury slot, the appearance of a duets-style album is a sign of someone who has achieved critical success but still needs to find a way to pay for the replacement of their gas boiler. The latest to record with a bunch of the modish is Herbie Hancock, lumbered with having to pretend that recording with Christian Aguilera and Joss Stone is some sort of career highlight:

"When we put out the feelers, I had no idea what would happen. I'd never met John Mayer. I knew Sting. But I'd never met Christina Aguilera or Joss Stone or Lisa Hannigan or Jonny Lang or Trey Anastasio.

"When we got the feedback, and it was 'yes' from everywhere, it really shocked me - and pleased me."

Still, at least he seems to have been spared the Bono horror.


Britney Spears is tired of seeing men in horrible swimwear. Her solution is to design her own swimming trunks; personally, we'd suggest she gets a better looking husband. Imagine Federline in Speedos...

No, don't, actually.


Unfortunately, Mindy McCready's high-profile botched suicide attempt drew a Tennessee judge's attention to the singer being in Florida; she wasn't meant to be out of the State, lest she got out of her head. There's now a warrant out for her arrest. As this is apparently her second probation violation, she's likely to find herself inside this time round.

As if that wasn't enough to keep the bounty hunters busy, Courtney Love has been ordered to appear before court - Judge Rand Rubin wanted to ask Love about reports of her being under the influence of something; he issued an arrest warrant, but agreed to hold it until her next scheduled court appearance on August 19th.


Kelly Osbourne - you remember her, surely? - is apparently tired of being "the poster girl for celeb drug abuse" and thinks we'd be "surprised" if she told us which other celebrities used drugs:

"I just want to let people know that if you think any of these blonde bombshells aren't drug addicts, trust me, they are, because I've done drugs with them. I'm not going to name names because that's not fair."

Goodness... rich, famous, vacuous, thin people are doing drugs? Whatever next? I think I need a bit of a sit down and a cup of tea.


We'd not actually bothered to mention the Rolling Stones anti-Bush track on their new album, as - to be honest - the song Sweet Neo-Con is rather embarrassing, so poorly written is it:

You call yourself a Christian, I call you a hypocrite.
You call yourself a patriot.
Well, I think your are full of shit!
How come you're so wrong, my sweet neo-con.

There are fourteen year-old Goths writing better lines after spending all day out in the sun drinking White Lightning. Anyway, we had ignored it out of respect for Mick Jagger and to help protect his reputation.

Not turning a blind eye, though, is Neil Cavuto over at Fox News [the link does lead to a site which throws the "fascist" charge around a little heavily, but their summary is useful]. Cavuto couldn't leave it alone:

[Cavuto announced that] Jagger took a "big jab at the White House" in a "very controversial tune called 'Sweet Neo-Con'" in which "Mick Jagger calls the President a hypocrite and worse. A lot worse."

Cavuto turned to Fox reporter Anita Vogel who said one of the Rolling Stones' "brand new songs seems to take aim at the Bush administration without actually naming any names." She said the Stones' next album will be out in September and, "word is, it will feature a track called 'Sweet Neo-Con,' a song that seems to attack the president."

Fox, of course, went on to call for a boycott.

Here's the twist, though: caught up in the horror that their not-especially-wanted new album might suffer from an attack on Bush, Jagger has now denied that the song about Bush is a song about Bush:

"It is not really aimed at anyone," Jagger said on the entertainment-news show's Wednesday edition. "It's not aimed, personally aimed, at President Bush. It wouldn't be called 'Sweet Neo Con' if it was."

To be fair to Jagger, the song is so sledgehammer-unsubtle there is every chance that if it had been about only Bush it would probably have been called 'I Don't Like Mr. Bush', but we're not entirely sure how the title demonstrates that it's not about Bush at all. Jagger twists like, well, a butterfly being broken on a wheel:

"It is certainly very critical of certain policies of the administration, but so what! Lots of people are critical."

Ah, so it's about "certain policies of the administration" rather than people? But how can a policy claim that it's a Christian?

Jagger and his chums clearly thought that they could shore their reputations up a little with people under fifty by adding in a little bit of politics; the first whiff that it might cause them trouble on the golfcourse and it's a mad scramble to try and hit reverse. Fox's attempts to scare up a boycott of anyone who expresses a counterview to the network's own is pathetic; how much more pathetic to see the street-fighting man scrambling down his own words to appease Neil Cavuto.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Good grief, how soft and gentle are the American paparazzi? In the UK, they think nothing of being smashed in the face three or four times a night in order to get a fuzzy shot of one of the Girls Aloud kissing a third-division footballer; while in the US, Brad Diaz gets grazed by a pellet gun, and it's off to court he goes:

Kelly Davis, the office manager at Diaz's X17 agency, tells The Post's Bill Hoffmann: "This was an uncalled for act of aggression. Brad has a bullet lodged deep into his skin. He could have been hit in the eye and blinded. He could have been hit in the head and killed. It's not funny. I was told by people at the scene that police officers talking to Britney's bodyguards were sort of standing around laughing at it. People don't like paparazzi, but it's not a good reason to shoot at them."

Well, there's never a good reason to shoot at anyone, of course, and it's rude, but isn't there something a little overstated about this? "Had it been a real gun, and pointed somewhere else, his head could have exploded like a watermelon..."


Apologies for the possiblity that this might be mistyped, but at the moment our eyes are rolling about in our head in an uncontrolable fashion as we read that Chris Martin likes Tony but doesn't want to be seen with him:

"I'm not going to go. I really like Tony Blair. He's interested in the same things as I am - he plays the guitar and he always gives the impression of doing what he can to help. But I don't particularly want to be photographed with him at the moment."

Well, there you go - stand up for what you believe in, young man. The music industry used to be packed with guilty Tories - still is, in fact, as Phil Collins' recent "everyone assumesd I'm Tory" outburst proves - and now we're getting a new breed of guilty Christian Democrats. Either you support what Blair does, or you don't - and the only thing worse than someone who "likes" a politician because he plays guitar is someone whose prepared to offer someone support, providing they don't actually have to stand up and be counted.


What was the point where podcasting went mainstream? No, not when slashdot started to be dismissive of it, nor when the BBC started doing it; not even when your gran started her own podcast. Nope, the maturity of podcasting has been marked by the worried faces peering through the window - faces of RIAA members:

"Podcasting is potentially very exciting," says [EMI] Executive Vice President Adam Klein. But the company needs contracts "that are responsible to everybody," he says.

In other words: how can we crush the fun and creativity out of it, while still making money?

You can hear the fear in the RIAA's throats:

Podcasting could exacerbate the piracy problem created by file-swapping sites such as Grokster and Kazaa. When listeners download a podcast, they "are getting a copy of an entire program ... an unprotected copy that they can do whatever they want with," says Steve Marks, a lawyer at the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group.

And how many people, with a three-hour podcast, are going to piddle about editing out just the bits they want? (Oh, sure, we would, but we're, you know, kinda difficult to live with).

So, another exciting opportunity for the record industry to help grow those artists we hear so much about, and they're worried that there might be the odd lost sale. We've been here before, haven't we?


Oh, like you care: Black Nielson split:

'This weekend, after much thought and soul-searching Black Nielson decided to call it a day. We have had a wonderful five years of playing and writing together and would like to thank all of you for your support throughout this time. Black Nielson's first live appearance was at Truck 2000 and we thought it apt to come full circle and let our appearance at this year's Truck Festival be our last. Due to this we will not be appearing tomorrow night at Nambucca as previously advertised, and this will also result in the last album 'Current Sunlight' not being released in the UK.'

It is, however, available, albeit for hair-scare prices at Amazon


Perhaps the oddest pairing of reality TV shows yet: Jordan Knight, ex-New Kids on the Block and Syd Little, ex-Little and Large.

They're going to be working together as holiday reps.


Yep, apparently Sinead O'Connor's karaoke Marley-Tosh covers collection isn't a reggae album. Not only in the same way that UB40 albums aren't really reggae, but because it's actually her Rasta album. Apparently, Sinead - who, the last we heard was a Catholic Priest - is actually a Rastafarian:

"It is my way of expressing gratitude to the Rasta people, because I am one of those human beings who would not be alive today if it was not for the teachings of Rastafari."

Well, say what you like about Sinead, but she certainly makes her way through the major world religions, doesn't she?


The greatest bit of Paul Gascoigne's England career was the ending of it - when Glen Hoddle called him to the office to tell him he was dropped, in a bid to defuse the situation, Hoddle stuck on some music. Kenny G, in fact.

Now, Cheshire Police are calling on pubs in the county to follow Hoddle's lead - they want disorderly pubs to play 'gentler' music in the run-up to closing time in a bid to stop trouble and blood spilling out on to the streets.

The Cheshire force, in its response to a government consultation, has urged ministers to go further to "drive at the heart of the binge drinking culture". Its additional regulations would include forcing drinkers to sit down and compelling pubs to sell soft drinks only within 30 minutes of closing time.

We're not sure the extent to which cutting drinking time by thirty minutes is going to actually slow down the rate at which people drink their booze - our experience suggests that it will encourage people to buy extra booze thirty minutes early. We love the idea of making sure everyone sits down, though - presumably the Cheshire Police are picturing some sort of giant, grog-fuelled musical chairs. Or they could just play Sit Down by James, whereupon everyone will Sit Down. Maybe that's where the idea for their other plan came from:

"The culture of extremely loud music for the entirety of the licensed hours also creates something of an aggressive feel at these premises.

"Some licensees change their music and play gentler music more quietly towards the end of permitted hours, which has a calming effect."

We're far from convinced that anyone who's been drinking since two in the afternoon is going to be dissuaded from attacking a vicar with a bicycle pump just because the last pint they drank was accompanied by the sounds of the theme from All Creatures Great and Small, but we guess every little helps. Possibly.

The landlords are not convinced, although neither are their arguments against entirely convincing:

Jez Horrill, of Telfords Warehouse, said though hell-raising songs are not usually the order of the day in his pub, he could not see regulars coming out to listen to Celine Dion. He said: "I can see the point in terms of noise pollution but not when you're talking about tackling binge drinking.

"If it goes too far in that direction, you would end up with people holding their own house and rock parties at home and then you would have a noise issue."

Hmm... this does conjur up a lovely image that people go to drink in the 'three pints for a fiver' type of bar because of the quality of their jukeboxes. "I was going to order a yard of ale for sixty pence, but since there's no Iron Maiden on the jukie I shall go home..."

Some, at least, have got the grace to admit that maybe it's all the booze rather than the beats that cause the problems:

Neville Sidebottom, the licensee at Politic, a private members bar on Watergate Street, Chester, says police should tackle chains who target young people with bargain-priced alcopops.

He said: "Loud banging beat music is not really my cup of tea but I don't think that it makes people aggressive. Not everybody wants easy listening music. The problem with binge drinking is an inherent culture problem in this country. I don't think the type of music we play makes any difference. We need to look at the real cause of the issue; licensed premises with happy hours, selling cheap alcopops to young people."

Quentin Crisp, of course, used to blame all rock music for all violence - claiming that the heavy beat stirred up passions which could only find their outlet through violence. He might have a point, but on the other hand - should we take the word of a man who elected to wear hats like that?


Bob Mould is coming to London - the Mean Fiddler on the 6th of September - to do a whole career-expanding retrospective thingy. Yes, Husker Du, Sugar as well as solo stuff.


Having taken the hopes of millions of people to the table at the G8 summit in order to ensure that his famous friends didn't feel too bad about themselves for managing to achieve so little, the leaders of Portugal have decided to award U2 a big prize to Bono and the rest of U2: they're getting the Order of Liberty:

"Over the past 25 years the band has allied its public exposure to the defence of human rights," said a presidential spokeswoman. According to the president's office, the Order of Liberty honours efforts "to defend civilised values, dignify mankind and the cause of liberty".

We're not entirely sure we've seen any evidence of Bono actually dignifying mankind, playing sunglasses with the Pope, but then the prize isn't in our gift.
Image hosted by - Bono appearing on Fox News

We expect Bono will turn down the prize - after all, it's not about him, is it?


After the bombings of July 7th, Queens of the Stone Age dropped their Somerset House gig; they've now re-arranged the date for August 22nd at the Brixton Academy, which - although unquestionably ornate - is hardly the same thing at all.


If the Sugababes really want to knock it on the head but find themselves trapped by continuing interest and buoyant sales, might we suggest their October album Taller In More Ways finds space for lots of audience-killing ballads, and perhaps a cover of, ooh, La Isla Bonita or something like that? Otherwise, girls...

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... you'll be brought back again.

What an awful name for an album, by the way.


Having watched local station after station win public support with the promise of a distinctive output, only to water down that commitment after winning the licence, with nary a word from the regulator, we're surprised and delighted that Ofcom has finally decided enough is enough and blocked Coventry's Kix96 in its bid to morph from an urban and Irish music specialist into a golden oldies station:

But Ofcom said the shift would "represent substantial change to the character of service in that the wording of the current format obliges Kix 96 to broadcast to identified 'communities' in Coventry. The proposed format clearly removed those significant elements."

We wish Ofcom (and its predecessor in these matters, the Radio Authority) had found its voice back when the likes of Crash FM in Liverpool and Brighton's Surf were being denatured from alternative music stations into Top 40 dross, but it's encouraging that the regulator has at least belatedly woken up to the risk of Clearchannelisation in the UK radio sector. Of course, part of the problem was that Kix96 had been allowed to interpet its promises in a loose way as it was - quite often sticking to Top 40 stuff and thus aping what the mainstream commercial station was already doing in Coventry. Perhaps its management will now think about creating a distinctive position that also keeps to the promises they made when they won the licence.


The always-disturbing Joe Simpson really does seem obsessed with his daughter's tits, judging by the way he keeps banging on over them whenever he gets a chance. We know Jessica has precious little to offer the world than her double d cup, and as her manager he has a financial interest in promoting what he chooses to call "boobs", but it's possibly the most icky thing we can think of. Here he is, at it again, on Saturday's People In The News from CNN:

Somehow double D's don't really fit on the overall picture of what works in white Christian music.

(Just as a sidebar, let's not forget one of the biggest selling artists in Christian music is yer actual Dolly Parton.)


In the latest attempt to try and cling with her claws to some semblance of a pop music campaign (as with Tom Cruise, a good cultist knows their duty is to be good at their job, to generate the publicity for their 'church') Madonna has got Andre 3000 involved with her new album. The only downside for Madonna about this is that she's not going to be able to pretend to be a lesbian with him in the video, unless she can persuade him to wear a skirt or something...

Madonna is still too busy, it seems, to come up with that reaction to the Kabbalah centre official saying that the Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust brought it on themselves by not being Kabbalahed, but we're sure once she's finished with the new album she might apply herself to letting us know what she makes of that.

BABYSHAMBLES MELTDOWN COUNTDOWN: How can we sleep while our beds are burning?

Kate Moss and Pete Doherty are apparently back together, following Pete setting fire to his mattress as a "cry for publicity ('help')." Why Kate decided this was a cry for help that had to be heeded rather than the attacks on camera crews, the slashing of his own chest, crashing about the Live8 stage like Uncle Fester with his contacts in back to front, the claims that he'd been touched up by a sixteen year-old girl, the inability to hold down a live date, the stupid hat or any of the others isn't clear at this stage.


After all the hoopla surrounding the move of Top of the Pops from BBC ONE to its "new home" on Sundays on BBC TWO, they're already starting to shunt the thing around the network: this week's show is actually, erm, going out next week, on Monday. It's making way for The Proms, which you can understand to a certain extent ("Roly, should we prioritise Mahler and Mozart, or KT Tunstall and the new track from the Black Eyed Peas?"), but so soon after repotting the show, to send it riccocheting off round the darker corners of the Radio Times is hardly the way to help it build an audience in its new slot. Also: wasn't there something hugely important about the programme going out live just after the new chart had been announced?


The make-up artist who claimed she'd been raped by Snoop Dogg and his gang after a recording of the Jimmy Kimmel show has withdrawn her complaint; at the same time, Snoop's counter-claim against her has also been dropped.

The woman issued a statement:

"The matter has been resolved amicably, and the lawsuits have been dismissed."

We're not entirely sure how you have an amicable settlement with someone who's meant to have raped you. But we're betting a "not talking about the terms" clause is part of it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Bobbing about in the middle of the Kerrang! awards nominations is a sign that somebody still loves Placebo, other than the boy who looks like Brian Molko who works on the third-from-left-till on our local garden centre. They've picked up one nomination; Green Day have done somewhat better as you'd expect what with them being The Official Voice of Young People Letting Off Steam In A Safe Manner:

1. Best British Newcomer
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Bullet For My Valentine
2. Fightstar
3. Towers Of London
4. Nine Black Alps

2. Best International Newcomer - Sponsored by Epiphone
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Trivium
2. Eighteen Visions
3. Emanuel
4. Lordi
5. Still Remains

3. Best Single
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Green Day 'American Idiot'
2. System Of A Down 'Bring Your Own Bomb"
3. My Chemical Romance 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)...'
4. Foo Fighters 'Best of You'
5. Nightwish 'Nemo'

4. Best Video
Voted for by the viewers of Kerrang! TV
1. My Chemical Romance 'Helena'
2. Green Day 'Holiday'
3. System of A Down 'Bring Your Own Bomb'
4. Good Charlotte 'Chronicles of Life and Death'
5. Weezer 'Beverly Hills'

5. Best Album - Sponsored by Virgin Megastores
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Green Day 'American Idiot'
2. System Of A Down 'Mezmerize'
3. My Chemical Romance 'Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge'
4. Foo Fighters 'In Your Honor'
5. Trivium 'Ascendancy'

6. Best Live Band - Sponsored by Carling
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Rammstein
2. Green Day
3. System Of A Down
4. Slipknot
5. Avenged Sevenfold

7. Best British Band - Sponsored by Roadrunner Records
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Feeder
2. Stereophonics
3. Funeral For A Friend
4. Placebo
5. Cradle Of Filth

8. Best Band On The Planet - Sponsored by Kerrang! 105.2
Voted for by the readers of Kerrang! Magazine and
1. Green Day
2. My Chemical Romance
3. System Of A Down
4. HIM
5. Foo Fighters

Your bonus question is: how many women have picked up nominations for this year's prizes, either solo or as a member of a band? (NB: Good Charlotte doesn't count).

Now that Kerrang's glory days as the biggest selling rock weekly are starting to fade into a frightening memory, you might find yourself wondering exactly who the magazine is pitched at these days. The back to school stationery range might give you an indication:

Yes, that would be the Kerrang pencil case there. We expect the K! branded shoebag is only a marketing department meeting away.


We're not alone, we're sure, in pondering exactly why Oasis dedicated a track to Robin Cook during their Sunday night Bennaccsism set - did they support his stance on the Iraq war? No, that didn't square with their stance at the time. Did they respect the work he'd done to ensure the Commons was a better place to work in? It seems unlikely. No, we guess that it was a person they'd vaguely heard of who was dead, and little more thought sat behind the gesture than that. It seems, in fact, exactly the same lack of thought had gone into their dedication of a song to Kurt Cobain when he died:

Speaking with Q Magazine Liam said: "We were doing some gig when we heard Our Kid dedicated a song to him. Didn't give a shit myself. Smackhead, man. Not my problem. Couple of good tunes, but other than that, a gearhead."

So, exactly why did... oh, it's no good...


During an event to roast Pamela Anderson (in the US, it's like a Variety Club luncheon rather than something that happens to hapless teenagers unlucky enough to be in a hotel room with Premiership footballers), Courtney Love threw a massive wobbler when asked about her recent weight gain:

"So I gained a little fucking weight. Deal with it."

Yikes. (And, yes, that's meant as a photo caption)

Meanwhile, equally touchy are The Magic Numbers, who do seem to have taken an innocent remark the wrong way when Richard Bacon described them thus:

"What do you get when you put two brothers and sisters in a band? A big fat meting pot"

Now, it's clumsy and the use of the word "fat" to describe the Magic Numbers does have the makings of one of those social-embarrasment ballets that Seinfeld used to do so well. And, indeed, the band took offence, and took up their instruments:

“We would like to apologise to anyone who was disappointed by our non-appearance on TOTP on Sunday. (Believe us we were disappointed too).

”Due to derogatory, unfunny remarks made during the guest presenter's introduction to our performance, we felt we had to make a stand and leave. It was an important day for us and should have been special. We didn't take this decision lightly but we stand by it.”

But... see what they did? They made exactly the same sort of gaffe by saying "we don't take this decision lightly", surely? We like The Magic Numbers, but rather than applauding their stand, we just wonder if they might need to grow a slightly thicker skin.

Viewers at home saw Alison Goldfrapp instead.


The start of October sees what has become an annual gathering in Aspen, Colorado - John Denver Week, a whole seven days given over to events that either directly recall Denver, or do stuff that would probably have made him so happy he'd have sat down and written a song about it, like people working in the John Denver sanctuary.


It wasn't very good to begin with, but the website for ITV's attempt to fuse Stars in Their Eyes with the Generation Game, Rock Around The Block, still proudly promises every Saturday night at 7.15, blissfully unaware that even ITV got embarrassed by the programme and has hauled every tape off down to the incinerator, never to be shown. (Or, at least, will keep them and sneak them out on ITV4 at 3am at some point in the future.)


Of course, when Paul McCartney says "God bless the Pope", he's one of the few people who is doing so in the belief that he's issuing instructions to a subordinate.

The disappointing thing, naturally, is that McCartney is keen to praise the Pope for his call for Catholics to be compassionate towards animals, but not to mention his Church's awful attitude towards, for example, condoms and other birth control which ultimately exacerbates health and other serious, life-threatening problems in developling nations. But at least he tells people not to be nasty to cats, eh?

We know expecting someone with a highprofile to call the Pope to account is like hoping for the Queen to become an anarchist, but if they can't say something truthful, shouldn't these celebs stop praising the guy for the few little crumbs of pronouncement he gets right? It only encourages him. Mind you, perhaps Paul has figured out that a few words from the Pope ("Actually, use condoms - let's beat HIV and then worry about what the Bible reckons you should do with your seed then...") could have had a much more profound effect on the lives of SubSaharan Africans than his entire Live 8 and Live Aid sets combined, even if the microphone had been working at the first one.


Having decided to drop the fake lesbianism act, Tatu have been casting around for a new gimmick to help with the new album. And what have they come up with? Creaky old stars - yes, they're working with Dave Stewart (who at least has had some form in this sort of thing, with the wonderful Alisha's Attic), Sting, and Richard Carpenter, out the Carpenters.

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It sounds a little bit like a musical version of the set-up for Ricky Gervais' Extras. Only without the jokes. Or the audience.


Interesting that Christina Aguilera has pronounced Britney's career 'over':

Christina doesn't think Britney will be able to make a chart comeback after she gives birth because she's "let herself go" too much to reclaim her sex symbol status.

Christina said: "She's let herself go. I can't see a comeback on the cards."

Since Christina has done everything Britney does, only about three months later, does this mean that Christina will be packing her own career up around Christmas?

Of course, we do love the idea that Christina is confusing a pregnant woman with someone who has "let herself go" - good god, have you seen the state of Britney's belly, it's like there's another bloody person in there or something, isn't it?

What Christina has pointed out, though, is that Britney seems to be more concerned about enjoying her pregancy and getting ready for motherhood than being photographed for FHM. Inadvertently, Chris has made Brit seem wiser than she's appeared for years.


We're sticking some things into our big Girls Aloud scrapbook, but we're puzzled about which piece to put in the front. Should it be this cutting from The Sun, 19th September 2003:

GIRLS ALOUD have been ordered to lose weight by manager Louis Walsh. The pop svengali was shocked when he saw the Popstars: The Rivals winners for the first time in a while and noticed they had turned into porkstars.
He immediately told the girls — SARAH HARDING, NICOLA ROBERTS, CHERYL TWEEDY, KIMBERLEY WALSH and NADINE COYLE — that they have been letting their showbiz lifestyles go to their waistlines.
To beat their bulges, he has signed up a tough personal trainer who has been ordered to get the girls back in shape. They are on a rigorous daily schedule with the boot camp-style fitness instructor.
The five are made to report for duty at 8.30am in a park near their homes in North London where they are put through their paces.
A pal of the band told me: “Louis hadn’t seen the girls for ages because he had been busy with other acts and they have been on promotional work. The first thing he said when he did see them was that they were looking a bit meaty — a couple of them in particular. The only one whose shape he is really happy with is Nadine. She has always been his favourite. But he feels the others could do with losing a bit of weight. They have been guilty of indulging in lots of junk food. What Louis has done is give them a good kick up the backside. They are at a very important stage in their career and they can’t afford to blow it. I think the girls themselves realise they have lost it a bit.”

Or this piece, from Ananova , 9th August, 2005:

Girls Aloud manager Louis Walsh says he is worried about Nadine Coyle's 'skinny' look. According to this week's Heat magazine he said: "I have spoken to her about her weight once or twice. All the girls are small but she is the thinnest, so she is the one to worry about the most. There is no doubt her legs are tiny.

"Nadine has spoken to me about her weight but she tells me that's just the way she is. She's really happy with the way she looks right now and doesn't see a problem.

"But she is thin and she is very careful with what she eats. Of course I worry about her and I have spoken to her as I thought she looked very skinny, but she says she's fine."


If Eminem had been planning to retire at the end of this tour, you might have thought he'd be looking to use his current dates to provide an accurate and fair summation of what he has achieved with his life thus far. And, in a way, he is:

Eminem dropped his trousers and farted into a microphone during a performance.

Jacob Bronowski is on the phone suggesting he might have got the direction man is heading in wrong.


While it's splendid to see Will Young flogging his memorabilia (a latin word for 'tat') on eBay in order to help out a charity, we do wonder if he might come to regret it in a few years when he might really need his trilby hat or platinum disc, if only to get enough from CashConverters for a tin a Special Brew and a cake.


It looks like CBGBs' fate might not be quite sealed, as the owners of the building have agreed to meet the club's owner Hilly Kristal to listen to a new proposal that could save the New York venue. Kristal had previously insisted that the owners' demands that the rent be doubled to USD40,000 was unacceptbale; for the owners, Muzzy Rosenblatt can't work out why a company with so much cashflow would have trouble finding the money:

"The club seems to be popular, they seem to be making millions of dollars with the shirts, at the door, at the bar," he said. "I don't understand why they can't pay the rent. We have been asking for a fair rent. What the BRC is saying is what we've always been saying. We're not asking for anything new. What we want in place is a structure that provides for adequate security, that should past practices of non-payment of rent return, they are much more expeditiously remedied, without it jeopardizing our activities that help homeless people, and that the rent be a fair rent. I won't subsidize CBGB at the expense of homeless people. We're talking, but a new lease would require the past bad practices be fixed, a new structure going forward, a fair rent and much more expeditious remedies that are less costly."

What may have moved the negotiations was an offer from 'Miaimi' Steve Van Zandt to play an annual benefit for the Bowery Project, the homeless charity which is the ultimate landlord to the club.


Well, that's good news, then: Simon LeBon and Drum have made it past the point where he looked into the eyes of the big D twenty years ago, and it looks like he might even make it to the end of the Fastnet race.

Let's hope the success doesn't persuade any of his bandmates to return to the things which almost crushed all the life out of them twenty years ago for a second go - the last thing the world needs is another book of Nick Rhodes polaroids.


Poor Louise. One minute, you're a consistent winner of the sexiest woman in the world FHM poll. The next?

You're accepting a job promoting bread with 'invisible' crusts. (Apparently, Hovis did some research which found that kids don't like eating crusts, and rather than telling them they won't get any Jammy Dodgers unless they finish them, Hovis want parents to pander to the little darlings by buying this loaf without visible crusts. You see?)

Why Louise was chosen to be the face of this bread isn't clear - someone obviously thinks that the key feature about her is that if she gets crusty, it doesn't show up, but we're having breakfast and not keen to carry that thought through.

Lest we forget: Louise was responsible for one great pop moment:


There's still a little lack of clarity over whose car was exactly being carjacked in Denver when Marc Cohn got shot in the head, but at least he's due to make a full recovery.

Yeah... he did Walking In Memphis; it took us a moment or two to place him, too. And while that really was one of those songs the world needed like a hole in the head, that doesn't mean that Cohn deserved, well, a hole in the head.

Monday, August 08, 2005


If Jacko had hoped that getting off in court the other month was going to at least clear his name enough to allow him to start to put things (not little boys) behind him, and that at least on that basis the money had been well spent, he's going to be might pissed off this week. In effect, all the court case has done has thrown out a few extra people floating about giving interviews making him sound like a even more unpleasant man than the prosecution ever managed. He's going to be haunted by dissenting jurors for a long time to come:

In a preview shown Monday on NBC's "Today," Cosby asked Cook if the other jurors will be angry with her.

"They can be as angry as they want to. They ought to be ashamed. They're the ones that let a pedophile go," responded Cook, 79.

Hultman, 62, told Cosby he was upset with the way other jurors approached the case: "The thing that really got me the most was the fact that people just wouldn't take those blinders off long enough to really look at all the evidence that was there."

Hultman has said previously that when jurors took an anonymous poll early in their deliberations he was one of three jurors who voted for conviction.

If the trial undermined Jackson's position, the interviews and books and TV movies could be enough to send him rolling off into the long grass, as more and more people seem to be willing to start spilling beans. Apparently the Larry King Live production office has started taking small, cooing phonecalls from, well, not quite stoolpigeons, but close: