Saturday, October 22, 2005

EUROVISION AT FIFTY: You'll never guess what won

It's the least fertile idea for a pub debate of all time, although it does get asked from time to time: Just what is the greatest Eurovision winner of all time? It's Waterloo, obviously. Most people, of course, then move on to choosing the All-time Earth XI who they'd pick to represent the planet in an intergalactic test match against Mars. Not so the people behind Eurovision, who decided that answering that question (and getting back the answer Waterloo) would be the perfect way to mark fifty years of Eurovision Song Contests.

So free of tension was the idea that none of the UK members of Eurovision could find a channel, no matter how far-flung, which wouldn't have had its Saturday evenings tanked by carrying the programme. Not even BBC Parliament or Men & Motors was going to find room, so we found ourselves fetching up in the more obscure corner of the Sky EPG. Channel 822, where TVE Internacionale was broadcasting a Spanish version of events. This had the positive advantage of not having Terry Wogan beligerizing over the top of matters with an endless war on Eastern Europe; it did mean that the non-musical segments were drowned out by two Spanish commentators. At either end, they sounded like they were quite excited, but for the bulk of the programme they sounded like they could have just been chatting about how they were going to swing last night's champagne supper on their expenses claims.

The competition itself was almost deliberately designed to be unfair - which would have mattered more had the winner not been so obvious. Most of the entrants were so far from their first flush of youth, they were represented by a tape of their winning performance and - to justify dragging a smallish audience all the way to Copenhagen and making them sit on very uncomfortable chairs borrowed from a hotel dining room - a troupe of dancers re-imagined the songs in front of the screen.

So, Nicole's A Little Peace saw a stream of bright girls carrying bright, white guitars canter across the stage. Volare (which won for Italy in 1958 and wound up winning the more interesting 'what's the second-best Eurovision song of all time' race) had people spinning umbrellas. Dana International's Viva La Diva proved to be a difficult one - in the end, the choreography solution turned out to be sending in some girls carrying large pieces ripped from living swans, and having them dance to a totally different tune.

The odd thing was, of course, Dana International turned up later in the show, clad in a kind of widow's weeds designed for a lady who'd buried many husbands, and singing a song about talking French. So why didn't she get to sing her own song? It's not like others didn't come on. Johnny Logan, who had two songs in the fourteen finalists, pulled on a white suit and delivered Hold Me Now while trying to pretend he wasn't sharing the stage with the troupe re-enacting closing time at a early 90s singles bar.

Greece's winner Helena Paparizou was also present; although it was possibly Jennifer Aniston doing her bit for her. Unlike the others who were there in person, Paparizou decided that rather than hope nobody was noticing the dancers desperately mugging alongside her, she chose to them as her own personal bitches. One poor chap ended up flat on his back, his testicles, stretched like spaghetti noodles, being plucked by Helena.

All this extra opportunity to emote (or overact) threw the songs where the artists were either too old, too wracked with in-fighting, or too convinced that Abba were going to win anyway to turn up onto a bit of a disadvantage. The toughest hill to climb was given to France Gall, who not only had to rely on black and white footage, but footage which appeared to have spent the last forty years being stored in a leaky caravan next to a giant electricty substation. Jarvis Cocker would still have voted for it.

Celine Dion's much-referenced, seldom seen song also was present in video only. Let's just be kind and say "well, it was the 1980s", shall we?

Abba don't need to show up, of course, and even having a crowd of men rollerskate in and out through a high-kicking gang of Catherine Zeta-Jones was never going to harm their chances.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was that Bucks Fizz hadn't made it into the final - although our very own Cheryl "Eggs and" Baker did appear to introduce Brotherhood of Man's creepy paedo-lite Save All Your Kisses For Me. Luckily, sanity had prevailed and the troupe didn't dress as slutty schoolies, and went for the slightly less obvious dashing-about-with-briefcases angle instead.

The voting was a much less drawn-out business than with Eurovision proper: everyone voted at once, first to get the 14 down to five, and then to choose the ultimate Waterloo from those five. Although this cut through the need to go round country by country for the results (for fear, we guess, of revealing just how few were watching the event), this still left time for a parade of singers from the history of the event doing little songettes and a bunch of "ha, weren't we funny back then" clips which came dangerously close to fracturing the deal we make the event each year. It's okay for the audience to mock the participants, but if the event starts to send itself up, then really we have no need to be present.

And, for some reason Ronan Keating turned up to do Rollercoaster. Presumably as a reminder that, while the Song Contest might add some pollution to the musical stream, there are far worse crimes being committed against music outside the confines of the international bunfight.

Keeping to one tradition, the whole thing overran - TVE didn't even bother apologising to those waiting for the next programme, mind.

Oh, and the verdict? Apparently, Abba is the best song from Eurovision ever. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're going to decide if Alan Knott should be invited to keep wicket against the Martians.

More Eurovision from No Rock:
Hate to say we told you so...
Truncated 2005 Song Contest coverage
2004 Song Contest
2003 Song Contest


Well, it's lovely when there's a meeting of minds: Oasis and Kasabian are friends for life; they've apparently even made pledges along those lines.

Singer TOM MEIGHAN says, "Noel's sorting us out with his studio for free - what a zone. Him and Liam are proper boys. We've just come back off tour with them and our bands just buzz off each other. We look at them on stage in awe, but Liam's told us we inspire them too, which is big. He told me that over the past ten years, we're the only band that can go on tour and have it with them. Us lot are mates for life now."

Let's just stop for a moment and raise our eyebrows at the phrase "what a zone." What a zone?

And, come to that "they are proper boys." Is it just us, or does this start to sound like gay porn written by a straight guy?

The sad aspect of this is the way Oasis are dancing round Kasabian is almost identical to the way they invited Ocean Colour Scene to be their bestest friends and constantly took them on tour.

And what happened to them, eh?

We didn't have the heart to Google on 'kittens sack'


Ronan Keating has made no secret of his support for a fairly narrow reading of Catholicism: sex outside marriage is bad, those that God has joined together let no man put asunder, and so on. So, then, you'd expect him to take a pretty dim view of Brian McFadden dumping Kerry Katona, walking out on the kids and shacking up with Delta Goodrem, right?

Wrong! Because as with most people who spout off about how bad the rest of us, are Ronan takes the view that values are for other people:

"Brian is a good friend of mine. Delta's a sweetheart, she's a lovely lady. I hope they do another duet together and maybe an album. They're good together and they're very, very happy together and I wish them the best."

Well, if he's a friend, that's different, then.

Keating isn't usually so lightweight on his interpretation of Catholic Church law: indeed, he's complained loudly that Catholicism in Ireland was a "bloody shambles" and suggested he was considering boycotting the church over the lack of "tradition and discipline". But only, of course, for other people.


JK Rowling has nixed the idea that Jarvis Cocker's Harry Potter music could get a release as a standalone album. The increasingly self-regarding author - who nowadays seems to see herself more as a keeper of the faith rather than the writer of some popular potboilers - seems to think it would be a tacky cash-in.

Of course, JK would never allow anyone to make a few bob off the name if it hurt the brand. She'll only allow quality items like this to make it to market:

Apparently a fluffy bobble head dog


One of our favourite Beatles anecdotes is from the time John was off from the rest of the band recording the Ballad of John and Yoko. He'd done all the instruments, but wasn't much good on the drums, so he rang the hotel the band were in. Ringo answered.

"Hi, Ringo, just recording this song, and I've done nearly all the parts myself..."
"Oh, right..."
"But I can't do the drumming as I'm crap at it. So I'm calling for a spot of help from someone who knows what they're doing..."
"Oh. Yes, certainly..."
"Yeah... could you put Paul on?"

There may, of course, be a smidgen of rock apocrypha to the tale, but even so, it does pretty much sum up the 'Ringo wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles' attitude that clings to the man like gaffer tape.

So, it's nice to see Ringo finally picking up a prize. He's been named the best-ever substitute for his role in taking over the duties from Pete Best.

Friday, October 21, 2005


The churning rumour mill - which seems to have felt justified in going into action as a result of Dannii's constant media appearances making her sister's health be viewed as an open topic - has been suggesting Kylie Minogue is trying desperately to find an alternative cancer cure. Some reports even suggest she's now weighing just six stone, which would appear to be a loss of almost half a stone from the fully-healthy Kylie of a year ago.

All this is just "a wealth of rumours" says a statement issued by her managers. In particular:

"... she did not want fellow cancer sufferers "to be misguided by the false stories regarding her condition and her choice of doctors", the statement from her record company said."

The press was dropping speculation that Kylie was trying to get advice from the bloke who put those circles on Gwyneth Paltrow. Still, at least only Dannii has been endorsing "doctor" Gillian McKeith in public - she's a doctor in the same way that members of the Dick Tracy club were genuine policemen, of course.


Making videos is a dangerous business, and people tend to get hurt. Latest casualty is Sara Evans, who managed to cut her foot open while doing a costume change. (Yeah, we know, it's hardly being set on fire by fireworks during a tricky dance routine, but even so...)

She had a tetanus shot and carried on with shoot. Because that's what country musicians do; they ride through the pain.


Having grown tired of merely feeding the starving, Bono now seems to think that he's got the power to save lives. Speaking from his Boncave, and without removing the sunglasses he used to disguise his true identity, Bonoman cursed that he was too late to save Michael Hutchence:

"I felt I had let Michael down because I was lost in my own busy-ness and hadn't called as much as I would have liked. I just wished I'd been around a bit more. He would confide in me and I in him. We were really good friends."

Of course, this does actually throw up an interesting new possibility to explain Hutchence's death - maybe he wasn't just trying to get a stiffy; it's not unlikely that having Bono confide in him was enough to grind anyone down and he just chose a simple way to avoid the "Hi? Mike... Bono here, I need to decide what sunglasses to wear to meet the President of somesuch" calls.

Tomorrow, Bonoman will retreat to his fortress of solitude to ask why he didn't do more to stop the tsunami: "if only I'd not been wrapped up choosing sunglasses, I could have spun the world backwards or something..."


In the first days following the shooting of Dimebag Darrell Abbott, it was widely reported that the killing was somehow linked to the split of his earlier band Pantera. Investigators have now ruled out the theory, revealing murderer Nathan Gale had only one Damageplan CD - found in his car stereo - and nothing at all related to Pantera.

The massive investigation has discovered that Gale hadn't a ticket to the gig, but had instead scaled a fence to get in, but hasn't really turned up much of an explanation for what happened.


The sort of thing that will hang around in cuttings files and leap out at your for the rest of your life, Enrique Iglesias, this is:

"The next product I'm gonna put my name on is extra-small condoms," he deadpans, mock-seriously. "I can never find extra-small condoms, and I know it's really embarrassing for people -- you know, from experience. Hopefully people won't be ashamed when I step forward."

We imagine he'll start to grow tired of this joke being read back to him sometime round Easter next year; whereupon he'll start to react like David Cameron on last night's Channel 4 News.


That'll be what Madonna objects to - TV cop shows. Unless, say, she'd signed a big deal to have her tracks played in the CSI:NY and CSI:Miaimi crossover episodes.



Pop's answer to Fred Quilly, Madonna, has scrambled back onto a horse as part of the PR to try and push her new Kabbalah album:

They do say that if you've been thrown off by a horse, the best thing you can do is climb straight back onto the Letterman programme, don't they?

Before the ride she said she had "excitement tainted with fear".

Happily, those are just two of the stains you can get out, even at lower temperatures, with new Daz.

It's curious that Madonna would go to all the trouble of riding a horse through the streets of New York for a television programme. Isn't TV trash, Madonna? Why appear on television when it's not good enough for your kids?

Or perhaps she didn't mean highbrow stuff like the late-night chatshows. Perhaps she was thinking more about the squawking music channels and their endless running of writhing beauties strutting their sexy stuff. We bet, for example, Madonna would be enraged to discover that MTV were giving dancers tickets to see her new tell-all movie to the sexiest dancers on a TRL competition this week. Oh, hang about, she was judging that, wasn't she?

But she'd certainly fume at the idea that kid's education is being hijacked to turn out pisspoor entertainment shows. Like the MTVu Stand In show, where proper lessons are suspended to allow a celebrity to come in and reveal how they done it. Although, now we come to think of it, she's just recorded an episode of that, too, hasn't she?


Charlotte Church will be dead within a year, reckon top voice experts. Well, not quite, but we've had to ratchet up the hysteria a little to out-screech the Daily Star's belief that Chazza won't be able to sing by next Christmas as she's not looking after her voice properly:

One quack told the paper: "As a singer, your voice is your livelihood and you can't mess about with it. You have to treat it like a muscle - warm it up and warm it down. Charlotte doesn't do that. She arrives, has a ciggie, puts it out and goes straight on stage to start belting it out."

"Unless she looks after her voice, she's likely to damage it in less than a year." Fair enough, but how?

According to one specialist: "Your vocal cords vibrate and unless you get them properly ready, those vibrations eventually cause nodules to appear which can ruin your voice for ever."

Charlotte's best hope for the future, then, is a revival of Give Us A Clue, where she can mime away for all she's worth. That's unless she develops bird flu, which could potentially see her killing the entire population of Cardiff.


He's never written a word before, but like Vanna White and the Piano Man before him, Burt Bacharach has found his voice, writing his debut lyric to protest against the Iraq War:

"You could say 'how does a guy who has written love songs his entire life suddenly decide to rock the boat?'" he said.

"I thought that was very important because I couldn't have somebody else write these lyrics."

He added: "I never was a political person in my life. I wrote songs during Vietnam, not about Vietnam. I was just writing love songs. Leading my own life in my own insulated world."


That was Jeffrey Osbourne, but we always think of him whenever we get a bit about Jeffrey Lewis. Like we just did, because he's going on tour round the UK in a couple of weeks:

November 06-London -The Windmill
07-Cardiff - Buffalo Bar
08-Bristol - Polish Club
09-Nottingham - The Social
10-Manchester - Venue TBC
11-Birmingham - The Jug of Ale
12-Newcastle - The Telegraph
13-Leeds - Brudenell Social Club
14-Liverpool - Ping Pong
15-London - Water Rats

As far as we know, Jeffrey Osbourne has never drawn a comicbook.


For some reason, we're picturing the time Harry Corbett had to be sued by his own son to stop him doing a Sooty revival after he'd sold him the rights, as we hear the news that Rick Buckler has joined a Jam tribute band called The Gift.

Although the idea of drumming in a band that's a tribute to the band you were actually in has the smack of being just two notches above selling shoelaces from a tray in the street, Buckler can still afford a spokesperson:

A spokesperson for Buckler, 49, said: "The title of the band is both a nod towards the last Jam album and Rick's gift in return to all Jam fans.

"The Gift are both proud and excited about going out and playing The Jam's back catalogue."

It would be tempting to go down to their gigs and shout "the singer's not bad at doing a Weller, but the drummer's nothing like himself...", but it would be cruel.

Even more astonishing, Bruce Foxton is currently in Stiff Little Fingers.


Uh-oh, Victor Willis, the Village People's policeman, didn't show up for his guns and crack trial sentencing yesterday morning. His lawyer said that he'd sent apoogies but was "scheduled for surgery."

Warrants have been released.

That's Tom DeLay and the policeman from the Village People, fugitives from the law. What is happening in America?


Microsoft's attempts to try and replicate its functional monopoly in the desktop PC market in the MP3 player world has received another setback, after the US Department of Justice filed a report revealing that the company's attempts to ban manufacturers from shipping windows media player on discs containing other music player software. Now, companies which want to offer their customers a choice of players are able to include the clunky Windows Media Player as part of a mix.


We're frankly amazed by Rod Stewart's announcement that he's going to take a year off after his current partner gives birth. A year off from what? Knocking off an album of half-assed covers every 18 months and turning up to well-intentioned but ultimately meaningless prizegivings hardly constitutes a busy schedule, does it?


I say, I say, I say: What's the difference between Ricky Wilson and Gordon Brown?

Tony Blair would be happy to see Ricky inside number 10.

Not that the Kaiser Chief is going to be schmoozing, oh no...

"I'm not going to schmooze with Tony Blair. I'm going to have a good nose around Downing Street. Who wouldn't? I've got the ear of the Government," Wilson also said. "That's why I'm going."

We're sure we've heard Noel describe his interest in going to Downing Street, slurping Krug champagne, and braying sycophantically at Blair's jokes as being a trip to have a little look-see. We're very keen to find out exactly what Wilson does with the "government's ear", although we suspect it might turn out to be the larger, deaf one into which he whispers.


The woman from the crisp adverts (a few years back) and that bloke who did the sportswear range for Marks and Spencer (a few years back) have won the right to hear the tapes of an interview between their ex-Nanny Abbie Gibson and a News of the World writer.

Normally when Victoria hears a tape of something she's never heard before which people seem interested in, she'll spend a few days trying to find a producer who'll help her make a watered down copy of it, announce a new direction in the newspapers, release it as a single and try to be thrilled when it gets to number 12. That might well happen this time.

It's part of the libel battle, in which the Beckhams are trying to prove that the interview - in which it was claimed their marriage was in trouble - left them open to ridicule in the eyes of the public. More ridicule.

The trial will start on December 5th.


It might be a little late, young man: Robbie Williams is worried he might be turning into Cliff Richard:

"The other night when all these people showed up for the video shoot the only thing I was doing was walking about for the video.

"So I couldn’t sing, I couldn’t entertain them in any way, but I felt as if I ought to. So I found a megaphone and started singing Angels. And I almost instantly felt like Cliff Richard at Wimbledon. I felt like a total idiot as soon as I started singing."

Yeah, but you must get that feeling every time you start singing, Robbie?

Thing is, Cliff has at least had a varied career - you might hate the Millennium Prayer, but at least it wasn't a slight variation on the last three hundred singles; he's never fallen back on trying to spray on someone else's cool by doing a RatPack album; and he recorded Devil Woman, The Young Ones and Wired For Sound. I suspect Cliff should worry more that he's in danger of turning into you, Mr. Williams.


Everybody wants the latest iPod - even chummies. Or, at least, that's the government's line to explain the four per cent increase in robberies - it's all down to thieves trying to get hold of iPods. We expect the BPI will be issuing a statement demanding a share of these ill-gotten gains by the end of the day: "Why can't we have a slice of the profits of iPod crimes? We make the music, and without that no robber would be able to flog a hooky mp3 player down Junkie Mear's second hand shop; it only seems fair that when someone fences a pinched player some of the proceeds from that sale should be shared with us..."


It's more than some top-level music industry executives could claim: Prince Philip has insisted the Queen knows all about rock:

"Of course the Queen knows who Eric Clapton is. When she met him she knew exactly who she was talking to."

Maybe, although that's an easy one. Can she tell the difference between Gareth Gates and Will Young, though?

Thursday, October 20, 2005


The abdication of being a rock band can take many forms - signing deals to let your music sell any old shit that pays; working with the lovely Katie Melua; simply releasing yet another album with Ringo Starr's kid involved somewhere. But you have to take your hat off to Dave Matthews, for finding a whole new way of issuing a statement that says "Actually, we're more a brand than a band" - he's hosting a cruise tour with the Dave Matthews Band as the main attraction.


Obviously taking the hump at being accused of hijacking a religion and turning it into a money-spinning faddy old cult, Madonna has put up her dukes and denied she's a blasphemer. The song called Isaac on her new album isn't anything to do with Isaac Luria, the 16th century Jewish mystic:

She told MTV: "What are you going to do? The absurd thing is that it's not what they think it is. It's not a song about Isaac Luria.”

"I don't know anything about Isaac Luria, so I couldn't write a song about him. The song is called 'Isaac' because the man who is singing on it is named Isaac.”

"I think one person saw that name and decided that they were going to go out and say I was doing something blasphemous, and it's just not true."

Hmm. Madonna "doesn't know anything about Isaac Luria", eh? But by her own claim, she's been studying Kabbalah for eight years, and Luria is major figure in both the religion and the cult versions of Kabbalah. Indeed, Maddy's Kabbalah Center makes 107 references to him on their website, calling him "the most influential Kabbalist in history" and claims that "[a]ll knowledge and material appearing on this web site is rooted in Lurianic Kabbalah."

So, she's spent eight years closely studying a philosophy, but doesn't know anything about the man whose writings are at the heart of that school of thought? It's like Tony Benn saying he couldn't really comment on Marx, as he's got a bit of a hole in his knowledge on that one.

How stupid does Madonna think we are?


Bono has been revealing a little of the process that makes U2 records happen. Apparently, they're not allowed to have coffee in the studios:

"...because Bono consumes too much of the stuff and becomes difficult to work with."

Can you imagine such a thing? Bono difficult to work with?

"You can imagine how annoying it is to have someone like me come in with a head full of big ideas," Bono said.

Well, yes, actually, we can.

"Larry is bored most of the time. You could be singing your heart out, and he'll yawn. But his instincts are 80 per cent right. If you're in the 20 per cent, it hurts.

"Adam will fall asleep and the Edge will make some kind of remark about the chord changes."

But you'd think if the band is bored shitless by the process of production, it would show in the music, wouldn't it? The new single doesn't sound like something knocked together by an ego on a caffeine-withdrawal comedown and three bored minions, does it? Too much?


Underwear model Mariah Carey says she doesn't mind people having a pop at her. Oh, no, because it makes her a stronger person. Apparently, even making a rubbish film only made her more, uh, herself:

"One day I sat on a plane to Puerto Rico for seven hours reading negative press about myself. Yeah, it was depressing, but I've always been me.

"I was me before I got famous and had money. I was me when I got ragged on by talk show hosts. Every obstacle, including the 'breakdown' or whatever they called it and the whole Glitter debacle, just made me so much of a stronger person."

Seven hours reading negative press? Apparently, if the flight had been longer she'd have even started on a second article, too.

Uh-oh... we've just made her a little bit stronger, haven't we?


It must be hard coming up with something new to say about Robbie Williams with each new album, as his personality has been mined almost to the core. So, for this round of interviews, he's decided he's a spiritualist. Or possibly just insane:

"If music hadn't worked out I would either have been a complete PETE DOHERTY, or I would have been a holistic man of medicine and spirituality. A spiritualist medium.

"I think I do have powers. I've seen things. My sister's dog jumping at her feet, when it had passed away years before. Green lights coming in at my window, too. Security locks opening and closing in front of my eyes. TVs switching on and off.

"I want to find out if these are real ghostly experiences or just my complete paranoia. It's one of the two that I want to get rid of. I just want to know."

TVs switching on and off? Doors opening and closing? Oh, blimey, Robbie Williams is being haunted by ghosts with remote controls.


There's some new Oasis stuff coming out at the end of November - although that's new in the Oasis sense; it's not like it's going to sound any different to the old stuff. Sittin Here In Silence (On My Own) (how we wish) will be a b-side to the single release of Let There Be Love.

Meanwhile, Damon Albarn has suggested there's going to be a new Blur ep before the end of the year which could mean another Blur versus Oa... oh, do wake up. It's exciting. Although apparently, erm, the EP will be a secret:

"I think we're gonna do an EP first, sometime by the end of this year, but you probably won't know about it.

"It'll just 'come out'. It'll be so, sort of, underplayed. It'll come out but you won't know it's us as it'll be so, well, not us.

"We've got the songs but we're gonna record them in a few hours and just be very laid back about it.

But not musically laid back. It'll be aggressive, aggressively laid back. It's the total opposite of Gorillaz."

Laid back aggression, eh? Right... righto...


Two weeks before it's due to hit the shops, the Babyshambles new album, Down In Albion, has surfaced on the filesharing networks; and the reactions aren't entirely flattering, even amongst the diehard Pete fans.

Coffe and Ice snorts with laughter through some of the songs, and concludes:

Albion annoys me in it's non acoustic form. I refuse to listen to it again, thanks. WTF is up with the beginning, anyway?

... When are the Libs reforming again?

*puts on Up The Bracket*

Meanwhile, Suburban Ennui puts the problem down to there just being too much stuff:

I just downloaded the new Babyshambles album, "Down In Albion", and it runs for more than an hour. And, of course, it's patchy as hell. Cutting a minute or so off a few of the songs, and culling the running order down to 37 minute/10 tracks would have made for a lean, tight and brilliant album. As it stands, there's a duet with Kate Moss (of course why not?) and a reagae song sung by some guy Pete met "inside".

I don't know about you, but I can't wait. Oh, hang on, you don't have to, do you?


You'll have been wondering "who will do the official Children In Need single this year, then?" all week. Well, wonder no more. Ananova's got the news... and a picture

Image hosted by

Hmm... it seems it's going to be a bunch of legal secretaries on a hen night. Oh... hold. Liberty X. (Or Liberty * [*boys never pictured]).

The song will be a Night To Remember, and it is, of course, a cover of a single by Shalimar from back in the... well, past, shall we say.

But you can get involved, too. Oh, yes you can:

Kevin Liberty X [not pictured] said: "We don't have to be the only ones raising money by singing. Families anywhere can do their own concert or maybe a sponsored karaoke to raise money."

Well, it couldn't be any worse, could it?


A gentleman - to whom our hat is tipped - forwards us communications from Republic Media, the advertising agency whose solemn sworn duty is to promote the Crazy Frog and, in particular, the assault being made on the charts this Christmas. To our astonishment, who should turn up mid-press release but our old chum, Gennaro Castaldo, offering a sheen of HMV-endorsed respectability to the whole endeavour:

Gennaro Castaldo, HMV spokesman "Westlife won't have forgotten that they came off second best to Bob the Builder in Christmas 2000, so they may not relish a chart encounter with the Crazy Frog this time around. It might be an irritatingly catchy tune, but novelty songs always sell well at Christmas and you'd be foolish to write off the Crazy Frog's chances."

You'll notice Castaldo's trademark reticence there - not actually saying for certain Christmas will be ruined, but not ruling it out, either.

There's something else curious about the release, too, in the press quote from the Frog himself. It's not just why, if he's able to talk, he restricts himself to just making stupid noises on his records - even Bobby McFerrin realised it was better to have the odd verse. No, what puzzled us was this:

The title of the Crazy Frog’s Christmas single has been shrouded in secrecy “I’ll be revealing it soon enough” he croaked, “but you can expect it to be everything a perfect festive single should be and, without a doubt, it will be THE song at parties and in the playground this Christmas.”

The song in the playground this Christmas, eh? But hang about a minute... when Jamster were being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority for flogging frog downloads to kids, didn't they deny the character was of any appeal to children?:

Jamster said that there was a popular misconception among some consumers that mobile content and entertainment was of limited appeal to adults, while being of a high degree of interest to younger users. Jamster said this was not the case. They pointed to a recently published German survey on the purchase of ringtones generally which stated that 84% of buyers were 16 years of age or older. They said a survey of visitors to the Jamster website showed that the vast majority were over 16 years. They also referred to the recent success of the Crazy Frog single, which reached number one in the UK. Jamster provided evidence to show that the majority of CD buyers were male aged 18?49 years, which they said clearly showed that the target audience for the Crazy Frog music and ringtone was in this age group, not younger. [...]

Jamster said that Crazy Frog was specifically targeted at an 18- to 49-year-old male audience [...]

Jamster said that many advertisers used animated characters in their ads for products and services aimed at adults. The animated characters appealed to an audience of 16-year-olds and over, just as their ads had.

And yet now, apparently, the Christmas record is being promoted as a certain hit in school playgrounds. Either the Crazy Frog is surprisingly short of self-awareness, or else Jamster were, what's the word, fibbing a little in their defence to the ASA?


What are the odds, eh? Michael Jackson's been called for jury service at the same court where he was tried for the whole jesus juice/kid touching business.

But the bird has flown:

"He is permanently living outside of the United States," Thomas Mesereau, who defended Jackson against the child molestation charges, said Wednesday.

He is? Great news for the US and its young people. Slightly less great news for the rest of us.


Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the planned remix project of Beck's recent Guero album is not that he's got the likes of Boards of Canada and John King from the Dust Brothers in on the project; it's that there's a Beck album called Guero. You can't help but wonder if the remix hijinks is a desperate attempt to get people to notice the original.


We're sure it's making some sort of point, and the news is that the Smash My iPod team have hit their target and will now go and buy an iPod, and destroy it, right there in the Apple store.

We're sure Steve Jobs, far from being upset by this, will see it as a whole new sector - the SmashPod. Because what better way of getting people to keep buying iPods than persuading them to hand over the cash, and destroy the thing?

The best thing, though, is it seems the real hidden agenda is an attack against low quality store fittings:

We scouted the store today, its very poorly built. Cheap wooden displays, and cheap wooden floor. Breaking the iPod in there without destroying the store will be a challenge.

Dude, let's hope you never get to shop in a Comet. One word for you: laminate.


That the "exclusive first listen" to the new Madonna album is a PR orchestrated stunt to flog the album rather than an actual review is so obvious, the only surprise is that The Sun haven't had the integrity to treat it the way freesheets approach Garden Centre adverts: it should have been printed on a four-page wraparound with "Your usual The Sun is inside this advertising feature" on it. We wonder if the agreement actually used the words "We'll give The Sun an exclusive on the first positive review of Confessions On A Dance Floor"?

The whole thing seems to be built around other people's work - she samples Donna Summer, Abba, Stardust - she even samples Madonna When She Was Actually Still Any Good. Lyrically, she has a lazy pop at George Bush (“If you don’t like my attitude then you can just f off. Just go to Texas, that’s where they play golf” - which only rhymes if you pronounce Golf in the historically correct way, with a silent L) but most of the time comes across more like Thatcher: “The only thing you can depend on is your family.”

It would be thrilling to believe Victoria Newton's claims - that Madonna is back to her best, and got something to say (according to Newton's maths, six of the tracks score 10 out of 10, nothing is less than an 8, and one is even worth 11/10) - but you can hear her piece crunching like a ship caught in pack ice as it tries to convince us that our lives are going to be improved by some Jewishish mystical bollocks, a love song to Guy Ritchie ("I owe it all to you, It’s because you push me" - presumably he does this along the lines of "we're out of honey, madonna, go and do a new album") and "Madonna saying 'sorry' in lots of different langauages. By the end, Newton is, indeed, clutching at strings:

This track completes the album beautifully with a classical guitar ending. Quite clever to put out a wholly electronic album – and close it with an acoustic guitar.

Well, yes. If you're doing a Year Nine musical project, anyway.


Ow, that's got to hurt, although to be honest we're finding it hard to care, as Slipknot guitarist Jim Root snapped his wrist just before the band were due to play Cincinnati.

Surpisingly, the band didn't have to cancel the gig, although they did have a bit of a struggle finding someone to fill Jim's shoes. There were no shortage of people who can play a Slipknot tune on the guitar, it's just difficult finding someone who would want to be that close to the rest of the band for the duration of a gig.

Doctors have set Root's wrist in plaster, and say that'll stop him playing for at least six weeks. They're open to offers for leaving it on longer.


Trouble for Yoko Ono this morning, as someone familiar with some of the more obscure corners of John Lennon's work (presumably Noel Gallagher, then?) finds Ono's Macca-baiting claim that "it's not June with spoon [John] writes" isn't entirely true. Indeed, in Mr Hyde's Gone, Lennon came up with this:

"Won't be back till next full moon, so we can bill and spoon in June and croon."

Well, it's not just spoon and June, is it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Good lord, the heat Bill took for a spot of oral sex, and yet nobody seems that put out that Bono and Bush have had a full love-in in the Oval Office.

Bono told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview before they dined that he had no fear of meeting Bush or any other world leader.

"They should be afraid, because they will be held accountable for what happened on their watch," Bono told the magazine for an article on newsstands Friday. "I'm representing the poorest and the most vulnerable people. On a spiritual level, I have that with me. I'm throwing a punch, and the fist belongs to people who can't be in the room, whose rage, whose anger, whose hurt I represent.

"The moral force is way beyond mine, it's an argument that has much more weight than I have. So I'm not feeling nervous."

Also, of course, he's on first name terms with so many of the world's rich, he's no more likely to get nervous than, say, Robbie Williams does when he talks to the mirror.

We do love this idea that Bono thinks Bush is going to be shaking with fear at the prospect of Bono coming in with the power to hold people to account. Shaking with mirth, perhaps, at the idea that he's going to be worried by the guy who's played his dupe more than once (calling the G8 settlement a success, when everyone who actually works for the world's most vulnerable railed at an opportunity pissed away, and repeatedly praising Bush's AIDS initiative, despite the slowness of delivery costing lives, the decision to place it under a drug manfacturer rather than a health professional costing lives, and the insistence on tying assistance to acceptance of narrow, impractical morality costing lives).

In fact, Bono is up to his Bush-rubbing again in the Rolling Stone piece:

In the Rolling Stone interview, Bono heaped praise on Bush for providing $15 billion to help fight AIDS in Africa, money that is helping pay for anti-retroviral drugs. He said he was disappointed that Bush and Congress had cut the Millennium Challenge program that gives foreign aid to countries that pursue political, economic and human rights reforms, but he'll keep pushing them to fund the full amount that the president promised.

Bono said he is "capable of having a row" if he doesn't get what he wants. He said he once criticized Bush for not getting the Millennium Challenge money out quick enough and was rebuked for it.

Ooh, he once muttered something uncomplimentary about Bush. He really is a modern day Che Guevera, isn't he?

"One senator threw a newspaper at me in a meeting. 'How dare you disrespect the president of the United States!'" Bono told the magazine.

See? Who says that Bono doesn't have a clue about social struggle? Let me tell you, a well-aimed copy of the Wall Street Journal can really smart if it hits you square on the forehead. He's on the baricades.

Bono said he doesn't support any president from the left or the right, but he has a hard time criticizing Bush after he has sent the money to Africa. He said he's made it clear that he doesn't support the war in Iraq, but he doesn't campaign against it because his main priority is helping the poor and disadvantaged.

And how better to help the poor and disadvantaged than by pouring billions of dollars into dropping depleted uranium on their houses? Unless the poor and disadvantaged of Iraq don't count, of course. And let's not even start to think how many wells could have been dug, how much river blindness cured, how many hungry bellies filled with just one day's spending on the war in Iraq.

"I work for them," Bono said. "If me not shooting my mouth off about the war in Iraq is the price I pay, then I'm prepared to pay it."

But, he added, "I'm a big-mouthed Irish rock star. Of course it frustrates me."

We're sure as Iraqis settle down to another night's sleep with one eye open, they'll spare a little thought for poor Bono, who has to struggle so much to meekly accept their fate so as not to restrict his access to Bush. Because if he doesn't keep himself on message, why, he might not be able to do his job. And remember - every good meal he takes in the White House, every round of golf at Gleneagles, he's doing that for the starving.

[Thanks to Jim McCabe for another excellent spot of article spotting]


We wonder when rappers will stop giving themselves stage names which just taunt the police*. For example, we can understand that Kirk Jones might have wanted to work under a name which was a little less... well, cardigany, but going with Sticky Fingaz is akin to phoning up your local police force and saying "come on, I must be up to something." So it's no surprised they are doing him for leaving an unlicensed handgun behind him when he checked out of a hotel room.

*See also: C-Murder and Grand Daddy Drive Off The Forecourt Without Paying.


If you've ever fancied having some sort of strange hold over Britney Spears - and lets face it, if Keven Federline can do it, anybody can - now's your chance, as a chap called Adrian Adams is selling the 7% share he has in the Britney track Everytime, on Ebay of course, which he hopes will raise £100,000.

In other words, that values the song at £1.42 million pounds in total, which is an interesting valuation. Sure, the song is likely to go on earning for quite a while yet, and there's always the chance of katie melua doing a polite cover somewhere down the line, but we're not sure that it makes great sense as an investment. And we've checked, songwriters don't get to insist on that sort of favour.


There's mounting evidence that the MTV awards are cursed. Not just because they keep attracting Madonna like the way a block of suet pulls in the starlings; after the disruption to this year's main awards in Florida at the first landfall of Hurricane Katrina, they've now had to postpone the 2005 Video Music Awards Latin America because Hurricane Wilma is threatening to come by close enough by the planned venue of Playa del Carmen to put the whoopsies up everyone.

An MTV spokesperson couldn't be encouraged to say "Have you ever tried to hold an awards cermomy in a hurricane? Even if it didn't blow everywhere, the banknotes get all soggy."


Who knew? It turns out that the constant application of bleach to Victoria Beckham's teeth might not be such a good idea - sure, it gives her a perfect smile (well, it would, if her face wasn't set in permanent grimace - although that could be down to someone pouring bleach into her mouth all the time) but it now turns out that it's quite possible she'll wind up without any teeth at all.

The irony is, of course, that as Beckham's toothypegs crumble into dust, Bez has just paid twelve grand to have a nice new set. According to The Sun Bike smashes, gum disease and boozing wrecked his mouth and his teeth were criticised by fellow celebs on Big Brother. So, nothing to do with spending the second half of the 80s and much of the 90s constantly grinding them, then?


Slightly alarming news for a music industry eager to squeeze more cash out of everyone - it's almost certainly not accurate but apparently ("according to a survey cobbled together to try and promote some insurance company or other") the average person in Britain invests £21,000 in music over their lifetime. And that's an average, which would include people like my dad who hasn't bought a record since they confounded him by stopping offering the chance to buy the ex-jukebox singles with the massive hole in.

But even people who don't spend that much on music manage to chomp through £250 worth of music-related stuff; people who call themselves die-hards would typicallt spend more than that on gigs alone.

And here might be the problem the BPI needs to be thinking about: music lovers already spend a hell of a lot on the thing they love. In an economy where prices are rising, they might find a few people snaffling the odd Moloko album off the net is the least of their worries.


Poor Lee Ryan - not only did he not have the money to buy a drink whe he found himself drinking backstage at Fashion Rocks with fellow relegation-zone gossip drones Kelly Osbourne and Kasabian, but when he was caught trying to steal drinks the response was less "Oh, Mr. Ryan, have a drink on us...", more "who the hell do you think you are, sunshine?"

Lee Ryan, Kelly Osbourne and Kasabian at the same table, eh? Goodness, it's a bit like Insignificance, isn't it? Not the film. Just insignificance.


We'd imagine there's going to be a bit of unhappy clucking over at Yahoo! Music today, where in return for their generous sponsorship of BT's Digital Music Award, not only did they see their rivals iTunes and Napster pick up prizes, but also would discover the winners page is pockmarked with "buy this from iTunes" buttons.

And what a glittering range of prizewinners:

Best Pop Artist :James Blunt

Interesting - he's clearly not pop, and the 'best' and 'artist' both seem to be quite a heavy overstatement...

Best Rock Artist: Stereophonics
Best Radio Station: BBC 6 Music
Best Digital Music Store: iTunes
Best Digital Music Community: Coldplay
Best Dance Artist: Gorillaz

The idea that Gorillaz are the best dance artist would be, perhaps, the most preposterous idea for a prize ever, were it not for...

Best Urban Artist: Goldie Lookin' Chain

It's almost as if the chairman and board of BT climbed to the top of the BT tower purely to piss on black culture from a great height - it's on a par with nominating a bunch of comedy yokels as best rock act. (Okay, they did sort of do that, too)

Best Event or Performance: London Live 8 Concert 2005
Best Promotion: Robbie Williams ‘Greatest Hits' Radio Player

Best self-promotion?

Best Campaign: Coldplay – X&Y
Best Use of Broadband:
Best Use of Mobile: Natasha Bedingfield Mobicast

The idea of Natasha Bedingfield's gigs being broadcast direct to a device which actually allows you to order anyone listening to it to leave the room does have a certain appeal.

Best innovation: Napster To Go
Best single: U2 – Vertigo
Soundtrack of 2005 in association with Virgin Radio: The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You

We presume this is an award that's meant to sum up the music which soundtracked the year. Or perhaps just which band had the most fans with internet connections.

People's Choice Award – Official site:
People's Choice Award – Unofficial site:

We were robbed! No, really, we were.

Artist of the Year in association with Metro: Gorillaz

Really? Metro readers are a funny bunch - they're the ones quickest at ducking into those little boxes on the stations, and as such tend to be up early in the morning. Perhaps all that early rising blunts your judgement.


Although, to be fair, when giant hailstones started falling on the opening of the Hollywood Virgin Megastore - some were the size of Branson's ego - perhaps it wasn't God objecting to Dickie B challenging him. Perhaps it was Michael Hutchence showing his displeasure at his replacement. The all new INXS had been due to play on the roof of the shop; with two feet of water everyone thought better of it.

We say "better" - that might not quite be the word for the idea of INXS not playing their electic guitars in ankle-deep water, come to think of it.


It's been a long time coming, but the Sharon Osbourne organised cover of Tears In Heaven has finally arrived - curiously, its original mission of helping victims of the Boxing Day tsunami has been expanded to include Hurricane Katrina victims too; we wonder if Sharon got all the participants' agreements to that change of focus.

Amongst those doing a lot of good work are Ozzy Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, Katie Melua... we're sure you can draw up the list for yourself. Sharon has a statement to make:

"The magnitude of these natural disasters surpasses anything we've seen in our lifetime.

"With this single and other relief efforts, our intent is to keep these tragedies at the forefront of everyone's minds. We must not forget and do all we can to help these people rebuild their lives.

"Music fans who purchase this single will aid the relief efforts and own an historic recording for which these talented artists graciously donated their time."

Let's just have another look at that last paragraph again, shall we?

"Music fans who purchase this single will aid the relief efforts and own an historic recording for which these talented artists graciously donated their time."

How generous of those talented artists to generously donate their talented time to such a generous historic recording.

For some reason, if you wanted the download, it's only available through 7Digital website rather than the places you might usually buy your music. So, we must do all we can to help these people, up to, but not including, signing a deal with iTunes or Napster, then.


While nobody would want to be churlish about money going to charity, you look at Jenny Frost's chart entry position this week, and do find yourself wondering if the chap who paid three thousand pounds for a date with her in an Ebay auction wasn't paying a little over the odds. If he'd waited a couple of weeks, he'd probably have been able to get the same offer if he'd promised a plate of gammon with a pineapple ring and a couple of Bacardi Breezers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Fearlessly asking 'just how lovely are you, Robbie Williams?'

We're still not sure what the latest attempt by Top of the Pops magazine to stem its downward spiral actually says - could it be desperation? a plan to try and take on the challenge from Bob The Builder magazine head-on? Whatever, the periodical spin-off from one of Britain's most venerable music programmes this month comes with a packet of felt-tip pens.

For a slightly older audience, although apparently not much older, Kerrang! features Kurt Cobain on the cover. The strapline isn't "Yes, that's Kurt with a K", but "the songs which made him famous" isn't far different.

Uncut have spun off a sister publication, Uncut DVD (which sounds like something you'd see in a internet personal ad, preceded by an impressive claim of length). We're not sure if this the first step in a long term plan to try and allow the original title to concentrate more on music - the pairing of music and film with equal billing always struck us as being a bit arbitrary, like having a magazine dedicated to football and cookery.

The attempt by Yoko to make people notice her by dredging up the who was the best Beatle debate again led to a call going out for an expert or two. Into the Guardian strode Alex Kapranos, who ended up churning out a slightly better written version of those old letters music papers would run in quiet weeks which pleaded "the only labels which matter are good or bad". What counts, say Kapranos, is the effect they had together: "What made the Beatles greater than any other group was their unique dynamic. You don't listen for one member or another, but for the combination." That's true that; unlike with a Rolling Stones record, where people adjust their stereo balance until they can only hear Mick or Keith.

We then start to find it tricky to follow: "The idea that these supposedly inflammatory comments are reigniting some form of Lennon-McCartney rivalry is perverse. It is rooted in the mistaken presumption that any rivalry between the two appeared when Ono came on the scene. It was always there. It's what they thrived upon; simple competition, trying to outdo each other with better songs." Why would anyone think that Ono's words weren't meant to be inflamatory simply because Macca and Lennon were rivals before she appeared? And is Kapranos claiming that Macca is still battling with Lennon all the time even although John's been dead all these years?

It's an Observer Music Monthly week, and as Jim McCabe wrote to us to point out, Robbie Williams gets an easy ride: "After last month's sycophantic session with Paul McCartney, the Observer Music Magazine continues the trend with a Robbie Williams feature which makes Sean O'Hagan look like Jeremy Paxman."

It is an astonishing piece. Robbie likes Paul Flynn's socks. Paul Flynn responds by simpering: " Extremely sharp and uncommonly warm when he wants to be, the 31-year-old singer carries his emotions precariously close to the surface. He is always alert and yet somehow constantly bored. His sensitivities explain in some way why Robbie is the one pop star of the celebrity age who has to walk an eternal tightrope between public adoration and absolute vilification. "

Really? Speaking - you may have noticed - from the absolute vilification camp, I think I can say that it's got nothing to do with his sensitivities that leads us to the conclusion that he's a self-obsessed talent void who remains afloat purely on the basis of a nation's confusion between fame and value. But Flynn doesn't stop to worry about this, as he's, well, a bit in love:

"Because I love Robbie Williams as a pop performer and because I like his type, I really wanted to like him as a human being. I did. I left his company feeling slightly high[...] Certainly it is clear by now that if any pop star defines the age it is him, rather than someone such as Chris Martin, who enjoys blanket support from the record industry and whom Williams effortlessly outshone at Live8. Every pop singer launched on a major label since 'Angels' became a national anthem has attempted to touch the cloth of his frayed hem by some weird form of proxy."

Well, it's possibly true that Williams does define the age - along with George Bush, melting icecaps, idiots blowing themselves up on trains, toilet seat covers and remakes of films that were perfectly fine in the first place - but the implication that he doesn't enjoy "blanket record industry support" is just bemusing. And although the linking of Robbie Williams and the concept of touching cloth does fit together, we wouldn't have had it in the context of touching the hem of his garment.

This is the only proper interview Robbie is doing to push the new album - after all, the rest of the press will gurningly churn out acres of coverage without the need for anything as time consuming as an interview - and exclusivity has its benefits. Granted a private audience, Flynn is able to let himself gush.

"Only Kylie Minogue, ever the canny pop provocatrice, got the fact that it might be Williams himself who was at the heart of his own staggering success, and invited him to write for her on the eve of her own creative renaissance half a decade ago. Williams still openly smarts at the fact that Minogue's record company would not release the exemplary Euro club anthem that he and Chambers fashioned for her, 'Your Disco Needs You', as a single, on the grounds of it being too gay: 'Too gay! For Kylie? Imagine!'"

So... Flynn thinks Kylie believed that she twigged Williams was a self-made man. But then why did she want Chambers to actually write the song?

Flynn seems annoyed that other bands - ones that do more than waggle their eyebrows, rely on one song written by someone else and try to prove their heterosexuality by spittling over every woman they come within five steps of - get treated like they're more interesting than Robbie. He lobs Williams a soft question to this end:

"[Are] group such as the Arcade Fire are considered more noble [than pop acts] - because they're ugly people singing songs about death?"

"Yeah. But I can never not be pop" sniffs William in reply.

Then, god help us all, Williams starts waving metaphors to try and explain Pete Doherty:

"'I believe that if you're fucked up - and I'm still fucked up, but just not on drugs - then it's a bit similar to being in an elevator,' he says. 'There will be floors where you can get off and recover. There are sobriety portholes. The lift doesn't stop all the time and I think Pete's probably just missed a floor. He's had an opportunity to get out and just missed his floor. But the lift will stop again."

But with a lift you can choose where it stops - indeed, you're in control, aren't you? This is typical Williams - it's an area where his limited triangle of experience should give him some sort of insight, something significant to say. But he has nothing to say, nothing to add - his journey has left him with little more to bring to the story than a Heat picture caption. And before long, Williams stops trying to bridge the gap between what he thinks is needed and what he's able to offer, and so just brings the conversation round again to how terrible it is to be Robbie Williams:

'Addiction is different with Pete Doherty. He's different and we live in very different times. It isn't the Sixties any more. People don't have to die because of their addictions: they get clean. It's quite simple. It's not the same as it was for Janis Joplin or Jim Morrison or even Kurt Cobain. And it's not as if people haven't reached out to Pete. There is still some evidence that there's a romance to that rock'n'roll myth that hasn't died with addiction changing. And I'm not being funny, but there's a sense of his addiction being quite pretty. You know? He stays up all night off his head and then the next day at midday he goes down to the beach with a supermodel wearing a silver ballgown to shoot tin cans off a wall. It's appealing.

'My addiction did not look like that. I'd end up with any old idiot who'd talk shit with me till the early hours. That wasn't pretty."

Robbie didn't say very much at all during this meeting, but that's okay; the few words from his lips leaves more space for Flynn to fill with flattery and flim-flam. The new album has echoes of Morrissey all over it; Williams nails a "very modern condition" because he doesn't want to die but is rubbish at life. Williams spins tales that are "almost Alan Bennett-esque"; Williams shares Tracey Emin's genius for self-analysis.

Even describing William's clumping press meet - he sat the invited journalists down and read bad reviews he'd had from them in the past before playing tracks from his new album - is treated gently. Poor Robbie, decides Flynn, "is his own worst enemy." Wrong conclusion. Robbie Williams is Alan Partridge. We wonder if he went to look up moribund.

A quick flick through this week's NME (last week's, if you live in Camden) has Peel on the cover. By way of tribute, music people offer up a band who Peel introduced them to, kind of like a harvest festival. Steve Lamacq was gifted Adam and the Ants, and Graham Coxon provided with Samhain. Sadly, there only seems to be space for four of these.

Mark Beaumont enthuses over MySpace, although the strapline promise that it's "free, unreleased music without The Man getting in the way" is slightly undermined by the (unmentioned) detail that My Space has a small "prop. R. Murdoch" sign hanging on it.

Peter Robinson takes on Carlos Santana. Carlos forgets to hang up the phone before insisting to his people that he never wants to do an interview with "a person like that ever again", which makes it perhaps the sweetest victory yet.

Kate Bush hitting number one with Wuthering Heights is the occasion for the archive raid. Apparently when she knocked Abba off the top of what was still then the all-important Top 40, the Daily Express was moved to sigh "Wuthering Wonderful!"

fleeing new york - manchester dry bar - "a sludgy, sexy vision"
babyshambles - southend chinnerys - "we're feeling optimistic"
young offenders institute - manchester dry bar - "maybe we just weren't on the right drugs"

we are scientists - with love and squalor - "coiled, brash rock", 7
mew - and the glass handed kites - "you won't escape its hypnotic lure", 8
gay for johnny depp - blood: the natural lubricant - "a throbbing vessel of pornographic hardcore", 5

totw - mia - galang - "indistinguishable from that [previous release of the single] last November"
vanlustbader - here we go again - "shake the cobber-POP beast by the genitals"

and finally, someone in the picture department must really love Towers of London (which we can only assume means Dan Tourette's mum works in the NME picture department), as his picture gets wheeled out to illustrate the gig guide twice in one issue.


While - quite fairly - slapping down the RIAA's claims that they should get given money from the sales of the iPod for no real reason other than they play music, Apple has simultaneously been trying to force people who make iPod add-ons cough up a licence fee for using the "made for iPod" slogan. Not quite the same thing - companies can choose to carry on churning out unofficial products and not pay any money - but hardly demonstrating much in the way of even-handedness.


You can't say bad things about George Bush and not expect it to sort of come back at you, vaguely; and Kanye West is now having to face the truth: You mess with Bush, you mess with the College Republicans at the University of Florida.

The students were so enraged that Kanye was going to play their University, they set up a protest outside. Fancy that: a bunch of young, white right-wingers campaigning against a black guy going onto a campus in the American South.

"We just wanted to come out here and make our presence known," said Matt Dean, 19, executive director for the organization. "You hear a lot of negative things in the press, negative things from Kanye, and we thought this would be an awesome opportunity to come out here, you know, to show that there's a lot of people out there who support the president and support what's going on in the country right now."

Since Kanye's reaction was driven by the total screw-up of a response to hurricane Katrina, we take it that Mr. Dean and his friends were out to show their support for that operation.

He also was quick to deny that George Bush hates black people. How can he hate black people, eh, his mother was one. Oh, hang on, that's the wrong fatuous argument. Rather:

The protesters, who got honks of support from some passing motorists and shouted slurs from others, said they have proof that West's Bush comment during a live telethon benefit last month for the victims of Hurricane Katrina was simply not true.

"I can give you two clear examples, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, close friends of George W. Bush," Dean said.

We were going to say something smart as a response to that, but we did a quick Google search and did discover that neither Powell nor Rice were left to fester in the New Orleans conference centre, so that's true, then.


Poor 50 Cent isn't quite the dollar when it comes to having a proper, grown-up relationship. He sniffled to MTV that he's a bit of a Robbie Williams when it comes to dating:

“I’m really good at writing music, at handling my business, but women I’m not really, really good at.”

Perhaps it's lucky you can handle your business, then; it must give you some relief.

He then suddenly realised that this made him sound more Morrissey than healthy for a rap chunk, so he tried to shift the blame to the women:

“It’s not difficult getting them, but it’s difficult for me to keep them, to maintain my interest in them.”

So, Fiddy, what you're telling us is that you can get a woman back to your house, but then you have trouble keeping your interest up? There's no shame in that, you know; it happens to a lot of men at some point.


Trouble in Chicago, where the crowd at a Ghostface gig got fed up with the undercard - five hours of second stringers - and were pushed just a little too far when yet another new Roc-a-fella act, Tru Life, came on.

They hurled abuse.

Tru Life responded by throwing water and bottles at and into the crowd.

As you might expect, the already pissed off crowd didn't take this too well, and lobbed the bottles back. Pitchfork's Chris Kaskie was there:

someone tossed a full water bottle and hit Tru Life directly in the face, knocking him to the ground. The crowd was excited about this, and everyone around us began to throw not water but beer bottles at him while he was down. His crew threw back, and then went to the upstairs balcony overlooking the whole room."

The men then "began having target practice on the crowd below, hitting people in the faces/heads/bodies with bottles. The crowd threw back, and the people upstairs kept hitting the ceiling with bottles, which would then explode and fall on the crowd. There was a rush for the exits, people yelling about guns, etc.”

Police swept the venue; four people were treated in hospital but Kaskie estimates many more should have been.


We're sure Madonna thinks that by revealing she wrote a grovelling letter to Abba to ask to use a sample she wanted to use on her new album she's showing how very 'umble she is. But we suspect that by "grovelling" she means she had to use that word "please". And this is just priceless:

"I had to send my emissary to Stockholm with a letter begging them and telling them how much I love their music," she told Attitude magazine.

Madonna, love, popes have emissaries. Fading pop stars have flunkies.


William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, is almost delighted that Madonna thinks the World is a beast. Although his joy at her quirky worldview is slightly tempered by her simultaneous announcement that most priests are gay:

Catholic League President William Donohue likes Madonna's new morality: "For her to have this sudden wakeup call — that the kind of behavior for which she is infamous is not salutary for young people — is refreshing."

But he doesn't like her proclamation, also made in the documentary about her 2004 Re-Invention tour, that "most priests are gay." Donohue adds, "We're glad to see she is no longer with us. Jews will have to make up their own mind about whether they're going to welcome her. Lots of them don't want to."

We're not quite sure of the context in which Madonna makes her "most priests are gay" remark - but from the general tenor of her recent pronouncements, we suspect it's not going to be suggesting this is a good thing. After all, Kabbalah isn't entirely fond of homosexuality of any sort:

According to Kabbalah, lesbianism does not create the same intensity of a spiritual short-circuit as gay sex because no semen is spilled into the open. Semen is the closest substance on earth to the Light of the Creator. For this reason it creates pleasure and it creates life. If it is exposed, negative forces immediately latch onto it. Thus, the negative forces are strengthened in the world. Lesbianism, however, does not create Light or Life. Therefore, though there is no spilling of a man's seed, there is no creation of Light and Life. Thus, the action only serves our interest and for this reason, is not endorsed.

It's reassuring to know that Madonna won't let her kid watch Boo, but is happy for them to be brought up in a religion which worries that a bit of spunk flying around attracts evil like a magnet.


Talk about biting the hand that feeds you: There's something a little sneaky in Hello's coverage of Fashion Rocks. While Victoria Beckham might be delighted that they give prominence to her appearance over all others, let's hop she doesn't think about the headline too closely:

Victoria outshines celebs at fashion rocks. Image hosted by

"Outshines celebs" hardly suggests Hello view her as being amongst equals, does it?


It's hard to believe that Kasabian are developing a reputation for being bad boys. It's not so much that they went on a yacht and snuck behind the roped-off areas, it's that they were on a yacht in the first place.

A yacht owned by Philip Green - the TOTP website is generous and describes him as a "fashion mogul", but he's not. He's the bloke who owns British Home Stores. How did they end up taking an offer from him? "We've always been big fans of his curtain tiebacks and scratcht fitted sheets, so we were delighted to go onto his boat..."


Terrifying news for six bands, as The Who, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and JoyDivision-New Order are to condemned to the Rock and Roll Pit Of Doom. Sorry, that's the Hall of Fame. We always get those two muddled up.

The Hall - which is open to any band who qualify for their left over tat going into a metaphorical Hall of some sort - opened for business last year, accidently inducing Robbie Williams in a nasty mix-up.


Hurrah! Boy Kill Boy are going to prance about the UK on a November tour:

Cambridge Soul Tree 9th
Sheffield Leadmill 10th
Leeds Cockpit 11th
Bedford Esquires 12th
Cardiff Barfly 13th

They're hotly tipped, don't you know?


If there's one thing the people of High Point, North Carolina are agreed on, it's their pride in American Idol winner and local girl Fantasia Barrino. Which means, actually, there's nothing they agree on as a campaign has begun to have Welcome to High Point, home of Fantasia Barrino signs removed.

We're a little surprised they put them up in the first place - wouldn't it be better to have a something to welcome visitors that's going to go stale a little less quickly, like a pot of yoghurt or some bread?

Fantasia has upset the people from her town by describing it as "the Land of the Dead" in the book she wrote where she told how she couldn't read or write, and now locals Kyle Sandler and Jennifer English are running a website which sets out to disprove Fantasia's characterisation of their town as the sort of dull place with small-minded people who have so little to do in their lives they'd turn a passing slight in a minor celebrity's ghost written book into a major issues.

The wonderfully named local mayor, Becky Smothers, has insisted the signs are staying:

"There's a lot more serious things happening right now than Fantasia's signs," she said.

God alone knows what that could be - is the local International House of Pancakes applying to erect a new lit fascia? An outbreak of double parking down by the mall?