Saturday, February 11, 2006


So, everyone seems to have noticed that Gwen Stefani has been more than a little off recently, and so she's had to come up with a reason. That reason? She's blaming her pregnancy:

“I found out I was pregnant right before I went on tour and I was like, ‘No, I have nine costume changes and high heels and bathing suits.’

“All I could think of was being on the tour and being pregnant but not being able to tell everyone and not really feeling like myself.

"I just wanted to say, ‘You don't understand, I am really sick, and wanting to be like, ‘You guys, you don't understand...’ I was four-and-a-half months pregnant the last show. It was a little bit ridiculous."

Apparently Gwen has been pregnant for about the last ten years, then.


With a Grammy for a re-orientated Green Day, their former comrades-in-fart-gags The Offspring have decided it's time for a comeback. Somehow, we can't picture their 2006 version having quite the same attempt at political bite, but you never know...


You'd have thought the AFA would be in full victory mode, with NBC having decided to not have Britney appear as a Christian cook after all. But, no, if the AFA can be unhappy about something, they will be, and they've decided that somehow NBC has called them liars:

"In an attempt to confuse the public, the network issued an intentionally misleading statement that left the impression that AFA had lied to our supporters," read a statement on the AFA website.

"When NBC said that the script 'has yet to be written,' what they didn't tell you is that the 'story board' had been completed and the offensive material was scheduled to be a part of the episode. The story board contains the outline of the program. That is the reason for the detailed description of the episode issued by NBC in their initial press release.

"The bottom line is that the actions taken by AFA online supporters like you caused them to rewrite the episode and remove the offensive segment."

Well, duh. Of course the company caved in in the face of the threat of some poor sod having to deal with thousands of poorly-written letters going 'why do hate the baby jesus?' turning up; but on the other hand - a storyboard isn't a script. Indeed, if it were a script, there'd be no need to have a script. It does seem like NBC had probably got further with the episode than it implied, but really... does it matter? You, the mighty AFA, have spoken and got a single joke blasted off the face of the world. Surely you must be gentle with this power? Now, why not go and see if the Family Circus is doing any scat gags this week or something. We're sure you can find something to get all upset about.


America, America, America. After fifty years, they've decided they'd quite like a go at the Eurovision Song Contest, so they're inventing their own. With States rather than countries, of course, and NBC at the helm. And probably Ryan Seacrest or someone in place of shutthefuckup Terry Wogan.

Presumably, though, they'll do it over a few weeks, otherwise sitting through fifty songs (and possibly one from Puerto Rico) might try even the strongest patriotic buttocks.


Ah, the wonderful, wobbly Ciccone-Ritchie quite-happy marriage sideshow rolls on: now there's apparently a massive spat over if Guy will go and show how quite happy he is at the Brits.

Happily, an insider is on hand to explain it all to us:

"There is a real power struggle going on with Madonna and Guy.

She wants the whole world to see they are together.

"But Guy clearly has other ideas. Like all relationships, theirs is going through a bit of a bad patch but he doesn't see why he's to pretend everything is OK just to keep her happy.

"He wants them to deal with their problems in private and not put on an act for the cameras. It's a game he's just not willing to play."

Yeah, Guy doesn't want to go and put out a crappy show of poorly-scripted play acting. He does enough of that in his professional life.


Good news from the Daily Mirror - a dj on Gemini FM has won a Lottery jackpot. The paper seems a little annoyed that he hasn't told his listeners yet - although since he only won last weekend and he only does a weekend show, it's not entirely clear how he was meant to. Besides, he might have wanted to, you know, keep it quiet:

A colleague at the Exeter station said: "We've all been sworn to secrecy."

Another insider said: "We've known about it since the weekend. Dean couldn't resist telling his closest mates - he was still in an absolute daze."

They might want to check on what being sworn to secrecy actually means.


Kevin Costner has formed his own band.


We hadn't realised it had already been released, but apprently Alex Parks' second album has been so badly mauled by the critics and ignored by the public that she's been dropped by Polydor. Still, it's an album more than Dave Sneddon managed.

Apparently Parks is upset that she got "no support" from the media, although if being launched on a live TV show stripped across three channels for six weeks is scant support, we can't imagine what she would have thought would be fitting - perhaps her own channel?


Okay, we were wrong - we used to snort that Busted weren't a proper band at all, but the increasingly acrimonious falling-out over royalties does, indeed, suggest they were just like every other band after all.

Ki Fitzgerald - the one you haven't heard of because he left before the band went anywhere - is currently suing the band for money. He happened to be at the same pointless c-list event as James Bourne this week, and the two had a little row. Trouble is, Ki went home and phoned for the police. And then:

A spokesperson for Ki's band Eyes Wide Open told us: "A letter has been sent to James's lawyers saying we will be forced to take out a restraining order if it happens again.

"We' resure James will realise the seriousness of the situation and leave Ki alone."

Aw, bless... it reminds us of when we used to run and hide behind the dinner lady.


We're actually genuinely sorry to hear that Pete Burns has broken off his engagement after just 24 hours. The press attention apparently spooked Michael who decided to take a wee break - which, interestingly, is exactly the same reason that was given for the end of Preston's post-BB engagement. Although there wasn't an element of screeching "cheap blonde slapper putting her hands all over on live TV you cock" involved in the Burns engagement hold-off.

Meanwhile, Jodie Marsh has been ticked off by the anti-bullying organisation she fronts up: Beatbullying weren't amused by her attacks on other BB contestants on her website. They're keeping her on as a spokesperson, though, and apparently she's going to be touring schools soon. We're a little bit puzzled as to the extent to which someone who is solely famous for waggling her tits in newspapers is an appropriate role model for kids, but then we couldn't pretend to understand these things.


After Kanye West's announcement yesterday that, effectively, he'd won the Grammy for best album and even Bono knew that comes another example of bad sportsmanship in that category: apparently, Paul McCartney won't be inviting U2 to share the stage with him at any international music events soon, either. He threw a little bit of a strop, says Roger Friedman:

“The ex-Beatle got up and left with his very arrogant bodyguard. They weren’t exactly subtle about it, either.”

We'd love to know exactly how a bodyguard behaves in an arrogant fashion - "go on, attack him with a knife. I'm really only here to block snipers and dirty bombs" - unless Freidman was being sniffy about Heather.

But the depths to which Macca's black dog mood sank hurt others, too, says Friedman:

“He walked right past Sting without saying hello.”

Paul! There's no reason to be beastly to Sting. Okay, actually, there are loads of reasons to be beastly to Sting, but missing out on an award isn't one of them.


Having been driving around pissed - in the centre of London - Javine failed to turn up at court to answer charges. What happens next is fairly textbook: warrant, arrest, night in the cells, delayed court appearance the next day. Javine - who now can add "bloody lucky she didn't kill someone" to "bloody lucky to get any points from any of the Eurovision juries" - will be back in court for sentencing on March 1st. Assuming she turns up.


The gestation of Guns N Roses' Chinese Democracy is like The Stone Roses' Second Coming with a Hollywood budget. Not seeming to realise that anticipation had given way to frustration and then to boredom, Slash has announced that the album may finally appear this year. Sadly, the only people left in any way interested in the album's appearance are Slash and Axl, and one of them might well be mad.


You might have assumed that, with both their backgrounds in light entertainment, Paltrow and Martin would be keen to shove their kid Apple on stage. Not a bit of it. They're not going to force her into the showbiz world. Oh no, they've decided she's going to be a scientist instead.

Perhaps Apple has already come up with an explanation of how Chris Martin can drive an SUV and not harm the environment.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Interestingly, the announcement on its Culture Vulture blog that tomorrow's Guardian is going to carry Pete Doherty's "prison writings" hasn't exactly gone down well with the readers, to judge by the comments section.

The paper's Patrick Barkham, though, says Doherty has always been brutally honest about his demons. I've read his prison writings and I think they offer a rare insight into the mind of the creative, sensitive and funny 26-year-old as he contemplates the confinement of both prison life and addiction.

Hmm. "Brutally honest about his demons" - frankly, whatever else you choose to believe about Doherty, his honesty might be the last thing you'd come to praise. From what we can see, he's tended to swash about in a state of denial until he gets cornered, when he falls back on a mixture of pity-me and blaming everyone else. And while we're sure his prison writings will be as splutteringly fascinating as Down In Albion, he's hardly on a par with Mandela or Wilde, is he? He wasn't jailed on a point of principle or as part of a struggle; he turned over his best mate's house to get money for skag.


The music at this evening's Winter Olympics opening ceremony has been bizarre - during the walk-on by the various teams it sounded as if someone had just stuck on a random 80s compilation - the Eurythmics, Van Halen and, erm, James Brown doing I Feel Good rolling away in the background. You wonder if they'd had a better-thought-out collection burned to a CD which they left in the hotel, so they had to grab the first thing they could find in the nearest petrol station dump bin.

Then up pops Yoko Ono, dressed all in white like an irritating hanger on, reading some sort of shit poem she hadn't even bothered to memorise - actually, we say shit; it was more piss. She called for piss, and for people to live in piss, and spread piss all over the world. Could we imagine all that piss? Uh-oh. Was she about to break into that song? The official song of Liverpool Speke Airport?

No. Because here was a slow, thumping interpretation of Imagine. But who's that doing it? "It looks like a drag queen who's been interrupted getting ready for her act." Peter Gabriel... is that you?

Nothing quite on an absurd par with Bjork pretending to be a swan at the last summer games, but oddly like a twenty-five year old taping of a Capital Radio party in a park.

Being a sports event in Italy, of course, Pavarotti is now here by law doing Nessun Dorma to finish it all off.


They made some excuse about it being too sexy, but I think we can all agree that Malaysia banned Madonna's Grammy show from local TV as an act of human compassion rather than cruel censorship.


Having started invoking God like he was a mate, Bono is finding out He's a double-edged Lord. As Bono's main business, the finance company Elevation, is poised to buy up Take Two games, he finds himself on the end of a plea from Jack Thompson, a crusading self-appointed moral guardian. Would your God, the one who doesn't allow poverty, be happy with Grand Theft Auto, asks Thompson:

"Dear Bono," Thompson writes "I write you as a fellow brother in Jesus Christ, appreciative of your bold witness to the transforming truth of the Gospel, in both your words and your deeds... I write to encourage you, respectfully and in a spirit of brotherly love, not to purchase Take Two Interactive Software, Inc."

Doubtless Bono will be busy preparing an interesting defence of how he can square the two sides of his life. Or perhaps he'll dress up as a superhero and hope nobody remembers he's got this lucrative sidelines as a ruthless businessman.


We're not sure, but we could have sworn that at his post-Grammys press conference Kanye West attempted to explain insisting journos switch off their mobiles "because I'm here" as being down to him having been gotten drunk by Bono, who also made him arrogant.

How does that work? Does Bono have some sort of ego-rape drug he can slip into the water.

Despite not having won the Best album prize, Kanye decided that, morally, he had anyway:

It's all good. U2, those are my boys. I didn't think it was going to happen because of vote splitting. I didn't win it by a technicality, not because I didn't deserve it. Even Bono was like 'Come on.' Everybody knows it

Hang about... who was your vote split with? Mariah? Because surely, if you're that good, you should have mopped up all the votes...


No sooner had Charlotte from Ash ceased to be from Ash, Tim Wheeler has started to do some solo stuff, too. He's teamed up with Arthur Baker to make a dancey solo effort. Would it be terribly wrong to hope he removes his trousers on the video shoot?


Now that Pete Doherty isn't going to be locked up in prison in the next few day, Babyshambles have reorganised their tour for later this month. The gigs at Pentonville, Walton Nick and Ford Open Prison have been cancelled, and these put in their place:

Shepherds Bush Empire (February 20)
Bristol Academy (21)
Newcastle Academy (22)
Glasgow Barrowlands (24)
Leeds University (25)
Manchester Academy (26)

Of course, part of the reason Pete was kept out of prison was because he didn't want to let his fans down - we're not sure, but doesn't that mean he can be sent down if the band fail to turn up for any of there?


It's only a couple of months since Noel Gallagher managed to get away with a pop at Jack White for selling himself to Coca-Cola, but now Oasis have taken a million dollars to plug AT&T in the US. (While we can see what's in it for the Gallaghers, we're not sure why the American phone company are interested in having such a dreadful drone wailing over the top of their adverts.) The Sun is outraged at such double dealing:

Noel... hypocrisy... OASIS have landed a £1million US ad deal — despite blasting White Stripes for taking advertisers’ cash.

Oddly, though, The Sun didn't seem quite as upset by the earlier, more pressing example of Oasis' hypocrisy on this subject, when they actually appeared in advertisement for a large stack o'cash. Perhaps, though, it's different when the ad is for The Sun's sister TV network, Sky Sports.


Aah... at least someone's getting a happy ending out of Celebrity Big Brother. Other than Chantelle, of course, who also did quite nicely out of it. Pete Burns and Michael Simpson are engaged. The told the world on Richard & Judy:

He broke the news after Richard asked him: "Are you planning to do what some other couples have already done?"

Proud Pete, 46, replied: "Well, actually, today we got our engagement rings, made by Vivienne Westwood. It symbolises that under all of this flesh we are bones. And souls."

Aah. It's sweet, although we suspect when Richard asked "are you planning to do what some other couples have already done?" he probably meant rimming.


We're sure there's a very good reason for it - in fact, Liz Rosenberg, you might want to try "her fingers had swollen up on the transatlantic flight and so she had to remove the ring to avoid her digit falling off", if you like - but after going to all that trouble to be seen out with her own husband, turning up at the Grammys without your wedding ring is a bit of a setback in the media management of the not-a-wedding-crisis, surely?


It could just be Liz McClarnon second-guessing the likely reaction to her pointless slaughtering of Woman In Love, but she's busily dropping hints that Atomic Kitten might come back again:

"I'd say there's a good chance of us getting back together. Look at Take That.

"And apparently All Saints are getting back together again as well. If you're still friends then there's no reason not to."

Well, let's be honest, Liz, it'd be closer to the All Saints rather than Take That - after all, when the That split, people actually noticed and were quite upset. Besides, didn't the Kitten already reunite once, at the start of 2005, for one last single?

Now, if you were going to drag Kerry Katona out whatever bar she's brawling in at the moment... maybe then we'd tune in.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Estate agent and light entertainment chatshow guest John Lydon has been railing against Green Day, because, of course, they're not punk like he was:

"Don't try and tell me Green Day are punk. They're not, they're plonk and they're bandwagoning on something they didn't come up with themselves. I think they are phony."

Did you see that? Plonk not punk. He's the man, isn't he? Never mind that Lydon was happy to whore his supposedly oh-so-rebellious arse around on the nostalgia circuit, singing about being an anarchist to an audience who've turned up in BMWs, providing the money is right, of course.

"The government's against you, the police are on you. So there we are fending off all that and it pisses me off that years later a wank outfit like Green Day hop in and nick all that and attach it to themselves.”

"They didn't earn their wings to do that and if they were true punk they wouldn't look anything like they do."

Lydon seems a little confused here - since he's often opined that the problem with punk was when everyone started to look the same, it's not clear how they can look wrong by not dressing like Lydon's idea of punk.

And while Green Day might have taken a lazy route to success, their anti-Bush rants aimed at a mainstream audience in the Fox News heartlands is arguably a braver move than anything the Pistols ever did, preaching to a small knot of the converted and with nothing to lose. Green Day might not be spitting all over the place, but at least their politics seems to be properly thought through rather than just throwing in Belsen references for kicks.

They didn't earn their wings? Since when was being in a band meant to be like being in the RAF?


Megadeath's mascot, Vic Rattlehead, is looking a little tired. Obviously, it was a hackneyed cliche to have a band skeleton when he was first created, but after two decades, he now seems even more hummier. So, in the style of Blue Peter, fans are being asked to break out their felt-tips to design a new mascot. We're entering a photo of Avril Lavigne with a crayoned ginger moustache on.


Perhaps its not surprising that the Arctic Monkeys are fond of the internet - like many heavy internet users (you know, like hardcore bloggers) they don't seem to have very many social skills when going face-to-face with people. Their should-have-been triumphant hometown gig turned a little sour when they grew tired of fans calling for their Girls Aloud cover:

"Is that all you like us for?" he reportedly said. "Fuck off, we can’t remember how to play it."

It got worse when they wheeled out a new song, and there wasn't an awed hush:

“Fucking hell, don’t sound so enthusiastic, we’ll get back to the classics afterwards.”

They should probably have stuck it up onto MySpace first so everyone could have listened to it on their iPods instead.


Further to our early-morning Grammy round-up, we've gone on a quick bounce around the web to see what other people made of it all.

Popbytes blogged live, and thought everything was just brilliant: U2 is up! who doesn't love of the best bands ever! […] oh, david bowie - we love you! a lifetime achievement award is totally deserved […]our dear mariah carey - god bless her! i lover her 'emancipation of mimi' album - what a voice! you go girl and your perfect pitch! she is very on tonight and sounding great! her boobs are totally under control! her hair is awfully long - that must be extensions don't you think? Indeed, even The Scientologists get a fairly warm write-up: jenna elfman and her scientologist ways - i just don't trust those people! i'm sure they are nice - but it is all so very strange to me...

Stereogum attempted a multi-layered live blogging and commenting: Okay so Madonna just popped up from the ground next to the animated Gorillaz characters. I'm utterly confused. I really don't think that this is worth watching any further. I can't seem to allow myself to turn this shit off though. It's the whole... "watching a horrible accident" effect.
The sight of Madonna dragging out her purple leotard again and dancing about with Gorillaz might have done little for music lovers, but, oh, what did it do for electronics nerds. Hdbeat explains: Christie's Roadster S 16K projector is going to be used tonight at the Grammys. This is a 3-chip DLP beast that is capable of projecting a 16,000 ANSI lumen picture at 1400x1050. It has 10-bit video processing with a user selectable contrast ratio of 1600-2000:1 and sells for more then $50,000.

All that power, and they still couldn't make her look like she was wearing something that fitted.

Paul McCartney chose to do Helter Skelter (the second best Beatles song ever, of course) as part of his contribution to Big Music's big night out - Copy Cat Effect senses a KONSPIRACY: Singing Helter Skelter on February 8th is an intriguing choice, er, coincidence […] February 8, 1942, is the birthday of Terry Melcher […] Melcher became a peripheral figure in the notorious Charles Manson murder case, when it was determined that Terry had once rented the same house in which actress Sharon Tate and her friends were killed by Manson's followers. There was speculation at the time that Melcher, who knew Manson, was the real intended target because he had turned down Manson's request for a recording contract.

Hang on, though, there's more: February 8 is the death day of Frank Retz […] Retz was remembered as a colorful character by his neighbors, who said he boasted of being the stuntman atop the horse in the TV series, "Zorro," and of once physically assaulting Charles Manson, whom he caught trespassing on his property. Do you see? And the number plate on Abbey Road was 28 IF… 2/8 IF. And the Grammys took place on the eight of the second and, erm, if there's any significance I'm buggered if I can see it.

Before the Grammys, it was interesting that Keane had been nominated as best new act. Until ADV b-side mentioned them, we’d forgotten they'd slunk off quietly out the back door. Still, at least somebody remembered they were there - nobody seems to even recall who Coldplay are. Or were. Or do.

The J-Train sums up one of the key problems with the Grammys as a whole: I'm sorry, but you can either care about music or care about Mariah Carey. There is no middle ground.

Huezine would agree. In a post "8 Things Wrong With The Grammys", Hue just listed Mariah's 8 awards.
Back to the live Bloggers, and in one of those new media/old media fusions, The Chicago Tribune's Watcher blog lived up to its name: LL Cool J announced that blues legend Robert Johnson, who died in 1938, got a Grammy Lifetime Award. Well, better to get it decades after one dies than not at all, right? […]Who kidnapped Fergie from the Black Eye Peas and classed her up? With her taupe, floor-length column, her flowing, wavy hair and her subtle makeup, she looked, well, pretty. And sleek. And not as though several bad fashion trends were happening all over her body. This is unsettling, to say the least.

We're not sure if everyone was just being kind not mentioning how, well, odd, the whole Sly Stone performance was - Much Music at least noticed: Did Sly Stone actually do anything when he came on stage for the end of that 5 hour tribute performance? Is it still happening? I like how he just left and then all the artists kind of stood around dancing and humming for 2 more minutes.

The smartest summary of the Grammy's fear of the new, though, came from Talent In A Previous Life: The Grammys are so called because they reward musicians who your Grammy and Gramdad have heard of.


For reasons we can't quite figure, Massive Attack have signed up a town crier to appear in their next video, Live With Me.

Alan Mynott, who spends his days barking out information across Gloucester, is proud to have been chosen:

"My name was put forward by a production company in London who also scanned the country for town criers and I came out top of the pops."

We're not entirely clear how many town criers there are, but we do like the idea that somebody might be producing some sort of chart based on them. We bet ITV would put together a weekly programme based on it.


Look, it's not us that's obsessed with the sexuality of the second-string of pop performer: it's you. And them.

Anyway, the singer who launched a thousand Google searches ending in "gay?", KT Tunstall, thinks she knows why so many people seem convinced she's gay.

Is it because she lives with a woman called Yvette and runs the Dykes on Bikes club for all of Scotland?


Is it because she, you know, looks a little like one?


Is it because they confuse her with Alex Parks?

She doesn't think so.

No, the reason why KT thinks so many people assume she's gay is her braces:

KT believes she unintentionally sent out mixed messages about her sexuality when she wore a pair of rainbow-patterned braces - a gay symbol - on her record cover.

She says she only realised the implications when a friend in the US sent her a text saying: "The girls in San Francisco are loving your braces."

Those braces have helped build her an enormous lesbian following - that's lots of lesbians, not one giant lesbian - which has given her a problem: how to keep the girls onboard without actually pretending to be a lesbian. KT has her way:

"I was on stage in Dublin when I heard a girl in the crowd shout: 'KT, you're a lesbian!' What the hell do you say to that? I didn't want to upset the lesbians but I didn't want to make out I was one.

"I said: 'You can't say that!' Then I realised that none of the other 1,500 people there had heard her. So I said: 'That girl just called me a lesbian.'

"At the end of the gig, a roadie handed me a note from the woman. It said: 'KT, I was saying 'legend'."

Hmmm. Thinking she's gay is understandable. What sort of delusion would have to live under to believe she was a legend?


There's been a lot of bitching about Janet Jackson's weight in the tabs and tits recently, although it's not like she actually put that much on. However, clearly it's been worrying her boyfriend Jermaine Dupri, who has decided to explain it away with a novel excuse:

"She gained weight for an indie role." He said Janet had been due to play a mother in the Deep South in the movie.

Aah... a gentleman would say "She's sexy like that." A lover would mean it when he said it. I'm not quite sure what "Yeah... she's porked out but it was for a vague offer of a movie" makes Dupri.


We don't know if this is his first step in a plan to take on leadership of the Lib Dems, or just an attempt to try and shift his image away from being wet and rubbish, but Will Young likes girls and drugs:

"I do fancy girls - sometimes.

"I'd say that every once in a year and a half, I'll get a moment when I think I could possibly sleep with her. And my friends always say, 'What? we don't understand'. And then I'll say, 'It's fleeting.' "

No, no, Will - sleeping with people is a verb beginning with F, but it's not fleeting. Well, sometimes it is, but you can get pills which help with that.

Oh, yes: Drugs:

"I don't do hard drugs but I do smoke weed. Oh no, that's bad. But I do."

Goodness. He really is a little Zoo reader on the quiet, isn't he?

(Clue: No.)


The Grammys - always a reliable indication of who the US music industry most want to be seen to be praising - have passed off without much in the way of shocks or surprises: Bono kept traipsing up to pick up five awards on behalf of U2: everything they were nominated for, and tribute of the yes-man's art. Amongst his speeches, Bono praised his dear old dad, because that honor thy father stuff plays really well in seven of the thirteen key US markets.

Mariah Carey takes away three prizes, including the "Thank You For Not Being Bonkers Anymore" statuette; she'd not had a sniff since 1990 and we'd challenge anyone from the Academy to explain why the stuff she's doing now is in any way different from most of the sludge she's been spreading over the last sixteen years. Still, it confirms Carey has been reaccepted into the fold, which is what she cares about the most.

Kanye West picked up three awards - all in the rap categhettory; he'd prepared some business with a large piece of paper with "Thank You" written on it.

British wins were fairly thin on the ground - I know, it's almost impossible to believe an awards ceremony without at least seven prizes for the Arctic Monkeys, but it actually happened - The Chemical Brothers took best dance recording and electronic/dance album prizes; and Gorillaz won best pop vocal collaboration.

Coldplay? Whatplay?

Kelly Clarkson got a couple; The White Stripes were rewarded for best alternative album, despite the Coca-Cola sponsored band now being more mainstream than the Stones. Indeed, its being rumoured they signed with Coke in the hope it might make the band seem a little more edgy.

The ceremony hasn't aired in the UK yet, but we did catch some of the E! arrivals programme yesterday: we especially liked that, in a desperate bid to try and pretend that their ceremony isn't anything like other showbiz events, the Grammys have a green carpet. That's how crazy they are. There was a bloke called DJM interviewing one of Mudvayne on it when we switched on. We switched off again double quick, I can tell you.

At this point, we would have brought you a full list of Grammy Winners, but the Grammy site seems to have given up trying to list them halfway through. So here's just a partial list:

Record of the year
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
Also nominated:
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
Gold Digger - Kanye West

Album of the year
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2
Also nominated:
The Emancipation of Mimi - Mariah Carey
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard - Paul McCartney
Love.Angel.Music.Baby - Gwen Stefani
Late Registration - Kanye West

Song of the year
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - U2
Also nominated:
Bless The Broken Road - Rascal Flatts
Devils & Dust - Bruce Springsteen
Ordinary People - John Legend
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey

Best new artist
John Legend
Also nominated:
Fall Out Boy

Best female pop vocal performance
Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
Also nominated:
It's Like That - Mariah Carey
Good is Good - Sheryl Crow
I Will Not Be Broken - Bonnie Raitt
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani

Best male pop vocal performance
From the Bottom of My Heart - Stevie Wonder
Also nominated:
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing - Jack Johnson
Fine Line - Paul McCartney
Walk on By - Seal
Lonely No More - Rob Thomas

Best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal
This Love - Maroon 5
Also nominated:
Don't Lie - The Black Eyed Peas
Mr Brightside - The Killers
More Than Love - Los Lonely Boys
My Doorbell - The White Stripes

Best pop collaboration with vocals
Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz featuring De La Soul
Also nominated:
Gone Going - The Black Eyed Peas & Jack Johnson
Virginia Moon - Foo Fighters featuring Norah Jones
A Song For You - Herbie Hancock featuring Christina Aguilera
A Time To Love - Stevie Wonder Featuring India.Arie

Best pop vocal album
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
Also nominated:
Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple
Wildflower - Sheryl Crow
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard - Paul McCartney
Love.Angel.Music.Baby - Gwen Stefani

Best dance song
Galvanize - The Chemical Brothers
Also nominated:
Say Hello - Deep Dish
Wonderful Night - Fatboy Slim and Lateef
Daft Punk is Playing at My House - LCD Soundsystem
I Believe in You - Kylie Minogue
Guilt is a Useless Emotion - New Order

Best electronic/dance album
Push the Button - The Chemical Brothers
Also nominated:
Human After All - Daft Punk
Palookaville - Fatboy Slim
Minimum/Maxium - Kraftwerk
LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem

Best rock solo vocal performance
Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen
Also nominated:
Revolution - Eric Clapton
Shine it All Around - Robert Plant
This is How a Breaks - Rob Thomas
The Painter - Neil Young

Best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal
Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own - U2
Also nominated:
Speed of Sound - Coldplay
Best of You - Foo Fighters
Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand
All These Things That I've Done - The Killers

Best rock song
City of Blinding Lights - U2
Also nominated:
Best Of You - Foo Fighters
Beverly Hills - Weezer
Devils & Dust - Bruce Springsteen
Speed of Sound - Coldplay

Best rock album
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2
Also nominated:
X&Y - Coldplay
In Your Honor - Foo Fighters
A Bigger Bang - The Rolling Stones
Prairie Wind - Neil Young

Best alternative album
Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes
Also nominated:
Funeral - The Arcade Fire
Guero - Beck
Plans - Death Cab For Cutie
You Could Have It So Much Better - Franz Ferdinand

Best R&B song
We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
Also nominated:
Cater 2 U - Destiny's Child
Free Yourself - Fantasia
Ordinary People - John Legend
Unbreakable - Alicia Keys

Best R&B album
Get Lifted - John Legend
Also nominated:
Illumination - Earth, Wind and Fire
Free Yourself - Fantasia
Unplugged - Alicia Keys
A Time to Love - Stevie Wonder

Best solo rap performance
Gold Digger - Kanye West
Also nominated:
Testify - Common
Mockingbird - Eminem
Disco Inferno - 50 Cent
Number One Spt - Ludacris
U Don't Know Me - TI

Best rap song
Diamonds From Sierra Leone - Kanye West
Also nominated:
Candy Shop - 50 Cent featuring Olivia
Don't Phunk With My Heart - The Black Eyed Peas
Hate It Or Love It - The Game featuring 50 Cent
Lose Control - Missy Elliott Featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop

Best rap album
Late Registration - Kanye West
Also nominated:
Be - Common
The Cookbook - Missy Elliot
The Massacre - 50 Cent
Encore - Eminem

Best short form music video
Lose Control - Missy Elliott ft Ciara and Fat Man Scoop
Also nominated:
Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz ft De La Soul
Feels Just Like it Should - Jamiroquai
God's Will - Martina McBride
World on Fire - Sarah McLaclan


For his tour around Europe, Robbie Williams - and can we just stress here, as we're sure he'd want us to, that he's in no way gay - has bought a caravan to sleep in. It's a pity, though - if we were like Robbie, we'd have got our people to choose a series of quaint, quiet self-catering houses along our route for us to go to in the evenings. Perhaps Robbie just felt he wouldn't have the energy to go cottaging after all that dancing onstage.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


We're not quite sure what's happened to the oft-mentioned Paris Hilton music career: surely someone hasn't woken up to themselves, have they? Still, in case she ever does get round to having her people rustle up a single or two, we're ready to follow the actions of Brian Quintana, an events promoter who has taken out a restraining order against her.

Is there any chance of turning that into a class action?


Okay, okay, so Mariah Carey uses a bid when she eats and that's why you don't see her eating in public, apparently. That might seem odd - although we do know a woman who would swear by her Tommy Tippee cup as a great way of drinking wine without having to go to the trouble of sitting up - but at least she's past the breastfreeding stage. For that, we must be offering up small prayers of thanks.


It's been twenty-nine years since Barry Manilow last had a number one album in the US. Twenty-nine long years, a time period in which Barry has seen stars come, discover a taste for coke snorted off the tits of a showgirl, and disappear again. Barry has bided his time...

... and now he's number one again. The great news for Barry is that his comeback album, The Greatest Hits of the 50s, suggests it might have at least five sequels waiting in the wings. Although the 90s collection might struggle a little to find enough to fill it.


Having pleaded guilty to multiple possession charges, Pete Doherty has bodyswerved jail and been given a twelve month community order.

Part of it means that Doherty has to go on a drugs rehab programme - although quite where the State feels it can succeed where the combined efforts of some Tibetan monks, Dot Cotton off Eastenders, Carl Barat, Kate Moss, the richest doctors in Arizona, stomach implants, Alan McGee and the goodwill of thousands of fans have failed isn't clear.

Doherty's brief threw a successful plea to the magistrates: think of the fans, man:

"Pete Doherty has asked me to point out another reason he is in the public eye is that people derive enjoyment and are entertained by him. These people are his fans and he is happiest when he's playing his guitar to others. He wants to repay their loyalty and support by coming through this at the other end as a successful and talented musician."

It's interesting to hear that Pete's happiest when he's playing his guitar. It must have been a bugger all those times he was too gently automonged to even turn up at the gigs; nevermind how frustrated he must have felt having to put the set on hold while he went looking for spoons.

If Doherty doesn't stay clean - and he has to have a monthly drug test - he could still end up inside.


Relax, Mick - it really doesn't matter that The Stones went along with the censoring of your songs at the Superbowl; it's only what we'd expect from the tax-avoiding super-rich.

Let's not try and pretend that you're unhappy about it:

The band may have known about it, but that doesn't mean they liked it, spokeswoman Fran Curtis said. Jagger sang the full lyrics during his performance, she said.

Well, why wouldn't he, since he knew the NFL were going to be censoring him anyway? Basically, they said "you can't say that on our telecast" and the band may have had misgivings, but were happy enough to go on, take the money, bask in the ninety million audience. Let's not make them look stupid by trying to pretend they took any sort of a stance, eh?


Who can guess the motivation of the riotous crowds who turned a Chico guest appearance into seven sorts of affray?

Perhaps they were music lovers, outraged by Chico's grotesque caricature of pop music.

Oddly, though, the police and organisers seem to have been at different events:

Scotland Yard said it was “a large disturbance”.

Newham Council, which staged the event, claimed: “There was no cause for alarm.”

A non-alarming disturbance, then.


The troubles of readjustment to everyday life continue for the Big Brother escapees - Preston has now got disengaged (unfianced?) from whichever one it was he had proposed to a couple of days ago.

His Dad is surprised, and a little confused:

"I don't think it's my place to reveal the details of how Preston proposed.

"We had a big family do - a meal together - and they told us their news then."

You can see the line there - not a word about the engagement, but since he was at the announcement, well, that wasn't private, was it?


Having refused to share a stage with almost anyone at all, Paul Weller's grande dame performance at the Brits was looking in trouble. He didn't want to sing with anyone who didn't come up to his exacting high standards.

The impasse has been broken, though, as a name has been suggested of which Weller approves:

Ray Winstone.

God alone knows what they're going to do, but wouldn't they just be perfect for recreating George Cole and Dennis Waterman's What'll I Get For Christmas For 'Er Indoors hit?


4th February:

"DOES anyone actually want to go to the Brits this year?

It's the biggest night on the showbiz calendar but cantankerous celebs are falling over themselves to diss it."

8th February:

YOU can't buy a ticket for love nor money but don't despair, you could still be at the biggest event in the UK's music calendar.[...]

the lucky winners will get to meet Lee Ryan and see the world's most exciting stars."

Clearly, the 3AM Girls don't read their own column.


Charlotte Church's voice-of-an-angel era gold discs have been ripped from the wall of her mother's pub by thieves. Charlotte wants them back, not unexpectedly. There are rumours in Cardiff they were taken back by the Catholic Church - a priest was seen shuffling a big bag down a nearby street muttering "we made her, and then she starts swanning round with her tits pushed up out of a leather corset..."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Britney Spears has had to issue a panicked press release blaming - ho-ho - photographers for the photos of her driving one-handed with her baby on her lap. And possibly on the mobile phone, with a can of beer balanced on her knees. Yes, it was the the nasty photographers:

"Because of a recent incident when I was trapped in my car without my baby by a throng of paparazzi, I was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger," she said.

"I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way, but the paparazzi continued to stalk us, and took photos of us which were sold to the media.

"I love my child and would do anything to protect him."

Which would make some sort of sense - a manic, terrified mother doing what she could to keep her son safe. But if you were that determined to keep your kid out of harms way, wouldn't you at the very least have got the person in the passenger seat to hold him?


There seems to be a degree of surprise that the Rolling Stones willingly agreed to let ABC censor them during the Superbowl Show.

Mick Jagger has a knighthood, remember. He might have been a bit cheeky during the 60s, but for the last few years he's been carefully crafting his MCC-tie-wearing gentleman of the establishment persona.

Surprise they let themselves be censored? It'd be no less surprising if they'd suggested it themselves.


Although it has a fin de sciele air to it, the announcement that in future download-only singles and albums will qualify for the charts is more of a tidying up. Up until now, labels have snuck out a very limited-edition CD or 7" release if they wanted to mainly download track to be counted - interesting the way labels struggle to find ways of breaking the rules their own organisations draw up, isn't it - and so this is just the charts dropping pretence.

However, there's still a degree of fudge to the new rules - download only releases have to be followed within seven days of the digital release - in other words, the day after the only chart they qualify for. And if the physical product is deleted, the record can only appear in the chart for two more weeks. This is to keep the high street shops happy. In other words: there's going to need to be another tidying up before very long.

ROCK SICK LIST: Chan Marshall

Cat Power's US tour is off - she's claiming unqualified health trouble for the axing of the dates. As consolation, though, you can still watch her parading about clad in latex on the Matador Records website.


Nothing has been finalised yet - presumably she's going to check dates with Guy if she can remember his mobile phone number - but things are looking "good" for a Madonna European tour this summer. That's "good" if you're looking from the perspective of a unemployed dancer or a documentary maker with a large stock of black and white film, of course.


In a bid to keep the media interest bubbling ("bid to protect her good name"), Dannii Minogue is supposedly talking to solicitors after the News of the World pictures of her apparently groping a stripper appeared on Sunday:

A spokesperson said: "It was a harmless girls' night out. They were having a great laugh, but only that."

We're not sure what the implication is here - that having lesbian fun is in someway harmfull? Or that lesbians and bisexuals don't have a laugh? We could see some sort of case being built around the implication that this was a news report which could harm Minogue's standing in the eyes of the average person, but it's hard to see how anyone would stand up in court with a straight face and say "The interpretation of my client's groping of a go-go dancer in a strip joint essayed by the News of the World has ruined my client's reputation. How dare the paper imply she was in any way serious about batting about the stripper's breasts..."

Of course, when Dannii was interviewed by Simon Kelner for GQ and made her comments about arabic street signs, something seized on by the BNP, she did let it be known she was considering legal action then. Nothing appears to have made it as far as court, though.


Interesting news from the European Commission - no, really, come back... The EC is going to investigate the artist's royalities bodies in Europe (the people who collect the cash from music users and distribute it to musicians); it's noticed they operate as near-monopolies and is just a little curious if that's a good thing for the people whose money they handle.

The Commission said:

The commission considers that certain aspects of the agreements might infringe the EU Treaty's prohibition of restrictive business practices...

... and then it said some other stuff but we kind of got distracted by then; we were thinking about why you never see more than the crotch of the models wearing men's pants in catalogues. How are you meant to judge proportions without even so much as a knee to guide you? Anyway, the upshot is that another cosy part of the music industry is being called upon to account for itself - potentially, this could mean that more money will end up in musicians' pockets without music fans having to cough up any more. And that's good news not just for musicians, but also for low-level weed dealers across Europe's major cities.


The unexpected return of Leo Sayer to the charts (for years, his greatest claim to fame has been being the name of one of the Brighton & Hove bus company vehicles) has caused Gennaro Catsaldo to make a bold prediction:

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: "The record will certainly be top three and is selling well. It`s a quiet week for new releases so it could well make number one."

He might be a little cagey about committing himself to a number one, but he's certainly happy to promise a top three position. Bold, bold Gennaro.


After we'd managed to re-orient our eyes (they'd got stuck rolling into the back of our head while we muttered 'is there no end to the extent of Sharon's whoring?) we started to wonder if Ozzy Osbourne's appearance in an I Can't Believe Its Not Butter advert was actually a subtle dig at the product.

The ad features Oz and Jon Culshaw doing his Oz impression making cakes or something. Could it be that - since it's always easy to tell the difference between Jon Culshaw and who he's supposed to be - the advertising agency is secretly sending a signal that You'll Be Able To Tell Quite Easily That It's Some Sort Of Margarine God Alone Knows How They Make It Boiling Chicken Bones Or Something And Absolutely Nothing Like Butter?


After finishing the shoot for the bread spread, which airs next week, Ozzy said: “I can’t tell the difference between us when I look at the ad. It really freaks me out.”

Ozzy, you're kept so topped-up on medication most of the time you probably can't tell the difference between Missy Elliot and yourself. Clearly, you've also lost the ability to differentiate between "laughing with you" and "laughing at you."


Of course, when Kanye West just happens to mention his multi-squillion selling Jamie Foxx collaboration was originally written for Shawnna, but she decided it just wasn't up to scratch, we're sure he's not rubbing it in. And we bet he doesn't leave messages on her answering machine reading out the latest sales figures, or complaining about the wristache from endorsing all those royalty cheques. We bet.

Monday, February 06, 2006


You've got to love Bay City Roller Les McKeown - having been acquitted of drug dealing charges last week, he now reckons he's going to sue for loss of earnings during the nine months it took the case to come to trial.

We're not sure who he intends to sue - the CPS? The police? The judge? - nor, indeed, what business it is he's lost while he's been up in court. Surely not many gigs get cancelled because the singer is suspected of using cocaine, otherwise there'd be very few gigs played in the UK.


Interestingly, unlike Madonna, when faced with newspaper claims his marriage is in trouble, rather than booking a high-profile dinner date and then fleeing the country, Sting went to see his solicitor.

Sting objects to claims Mick Madadi made in a British newspaper:

Mick Madadi revealed the former Police frontman favoured smoking marijuana than spend time with his wife.

"You see all these pictures of Sting and Trudie hand-in-hand and kissing sweetly and it's a lot of rubbish," Madadi alleged.

"Trudie is so needy but Sting is never there. He's just into playing his banjo and getting stoned. The couple are not all they seem."

Actually it might have been the bit about playing his banjo that really stung Sting. We can't decide if that image would have been more unsettling if Madadi was speaking literally or using a coy eumphemism.

Sting is not suing for libel, but - interestingly - for breach of confidence.


Unless there's a sudden plan to try and raise awareness of something or other, Hyde Park (the London one, not the Leeds one) is going to play host to the Foo Fighters this June.

Other bands will be added when they've stopped hoping to get a better slot at the V Festival.


We're not certain, but we believe the plans to make a Marvin Gaye biopic were agreed by mistake: the backers for the movie were only half listening to the pitch and thought "well, gay cowboys is doing great business, why not gay singers, eh?"

Imaginatively, the movie is going to be called Sexual Healing, and Law and Order regular Jesse L Martin will probably be attempting to act as if he had a heart that's like an oven.

Director Lauren Goodman says,"More than just being the voice of a generation, Marvin Gaye proved to be its very heartbeat."

Eh? What does that mean?

We don't want to spoil it, but he dies in the end. Oh, and his father did it.


Having cost Sony-BMG hundreds of thousands and much, much more goodwill, SunComm, the copy-protection software people are promising to change their ways: new versions of their stuff will be more honest about what they're doing on your PC, and easier to uninstall.

Although, of course, copy-protection software that you can remove easily doesn't really do much in the way of copy protection - this is like a prison company pledging to ensure its cell doors can be opened from either side, surely?

RAPOBIT: Israel Ramirez

One of Busta Rhyme's bodyguards, Israel Ramirez, has been fatally wounded outside a soundstage where Rhymes, Missy Elliot and other were filming a new video. Nobody seems to know what caused the violence - although if we were police, we'd suggest they start their enquiries with "gun-obsessed dickwads running around with guns for no real reason."


We're a little bit bemused - wasn't Michael Jackson a Jehovah's Witness? Or possible a member of the Nation of Islam? Only now it turns out he's been having secret talks with the Vatican about setting John Paul's prayers to music - so is he turning Catholic?

It seems the idea might have come from the church rather than Jacko himself:

Yesterday, Father Giuseppe Moscati, of the Millennium Music Society, which specialises in church music and organises musical events at the Vatican, reluctantly confirmed the details.

Fr Moscati said: "We have the rights for the 24 prayers written by Pope John Paul.

"We had hoped the fact that we have been in contact with Michael Jackson would remain a secret. But sadly it has leaked out ahead of time. We are in discussions and trying to sort it out."

It's hard to see why the Catholic Church would want to have its beloved former leader's words set to the music of a man widely viewed as having an healthy interest in children - after all, the taint of condoning child abuse would be something that could cause problems for something like a church, don't you think?

Fr Moscati dismissed Jackson's controversial past and insisted it was no barrier to him working with the Catholic Church. The priest said: "He was cleared and found not guilty by a jury."

Well, actually, he was found not guilty of some specific cases of child abuse, but wasn't exactly cleared, what with jurors running about saying "we reckon he did something, but not these." And then there was the bloke who he made the massive pay-off to. And the cheerful admission that he has kids from unrelated families sleeping in his bed overnight. And... well, the point is probably made.

On the other hand, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales was quite happy to keep Father MIchael Hill, for example, still in post despite knowing he was a convicted child abuser, giving him the access to notch up a few more offences and ruin some other lives. When the Church isn't really bothered about actual convicted sex offenders being put into positions of trust where they're coming into contact with children, why would we expect them to be that bothered about Jackson's behaviour.

And some Christians think that mildly amusing cameo appearances on Will & Grace leave churches open to public ridicule.


Just as predictions that the internet would kill music magazines was a little wide of the mark - would someone drag that Smash Hits corpse out the back of the shot, please? - blogs haven't totally wiped the zine culture. And, as if to prove how thriving the scene is, Manchester's Basement is holding a Zinefest this coming Saturday. Food, fanzines and... lots of other things starting with f, we expect, although not that. Probably.


After the Timberlake-Jackson incident, you can almost forgive the NFL and ABC for behaving like a bunch of frightened school ma'ams during the Rolling Stones set at halftime in the American Football superbowl last night. Who wants to deal with that bunch of crapola pouring over you?

However, the decision to put the band on a tape delay, and the editing of certain words from the songs makes the decision to invite the Rolling Stones in the first place just bemusing - why invite a band on to sing a song with the word "cock" in it, if you're going to bleep the word cock out?

And if the idea of the bleeping is to make the song family-friendly, in what way does simply excising the final couple of "cums" from Start Me Up make the song any less about sex? Indeed, by bleeping the final cums, you confirm that the word is c-u-m and not c-o-m-e, which means the entire song can only be about giving a man an erection - it turns a track which can be read in a non-sexual way into a single-entendre.

Apparently, there was no need to change anything about I Can't Get No Satisfaction. Indeed, the NFL were probably pretty pleased that the band were doing a song about not having sex.


Okay, that's not so much of a great surprise, but a new book by Trevor Dann appears to have uncovered the nearest thing he left to a suicide note. Although it might not have been a suicide, but an accident.

It seems that a couple of days before Drake secured his place in the gllomy pop pantheon, he'd been soft-dumped by his sort-of-girlfriend Sophia Ryde; a note he'd written the day before his overdose was near his body.

Nevertheless, Ryde is convinced that Drake was only trying to self-medicate than self-eradicate:

Although Ryde has not divulged the singer's exact words, she is not convinced by the official version of how Drake died. "Sophia didn't think it was suicide, but more likely the tragic effect of taking too many of his pills which, although antidepressants, were also used to help him sleep," said Dann.

Don't say that, man: a heartbroken lonely suicide gives a romantic myth and extra album sales. Being a bit shit at keeping track of how many Panadol you've taken is just clumsiness - and while the fed up buy records to wallow with, there's not many sales selling to the clumsy.


Never mind the claims about who he's dating - since when did Lee Ryan decide his next album was going to be gospel?

Gospel? Lee Ryan?

The Lee Ryan out of Blue?

Are they sure?


British intelligence has taken a bit of a battering over recent years - the large rock used to collect information in the middle of Moscow, for example, and the tired old rubbish copied off the internet and passed off as first-hand knowledge of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction that fooled nobody. Well, apart from Tony, of course. But now, there is hope: David Beckham and Robbie Williams are going to spy school.

Okay, it's not the real thing - it's one of those stupid things rich clueless men do because you don't get a special spy badge if you just read a book - but it's a start. We hope that the pair do so well they get picked up by MI5. We're sure Robbie would love the chance to serve his country by going on a long, dangerous mission somewhere.

On the other hand, neither are exactly going to be first choice for someone who would keep their true identity secret, are they? You can picture Robbie, having been given an elaborate backstory and a false name to trick his way into the Chad Embassy, unable to resist dropping hints about who he really is - whistling Angels; blubbing on about how difficult it is being him, and so on. Robbie simply couldn't live a lie, claiming to be somebody other than he really is. He just doesn't have it in him.

Still, lets hope he and David have fun playing at James Bond. Maybe they'll go to Chuck-E-Cheese after.


Something to consider the next time Liam Gallagher starts to bang on about how younger bands are a bunch of middle-class tossers: he's upset his foofy neighbours making too much noise. On a running machine.

Nobodt seems clear if the thudding comes from the machine being too big, or just because Liam is a bit, well, starchy:

One resident living underneath Liam’s flat told me the star’s jogging even caused her light bulbs to fall out. She said: “Since Liam moved in our lives have been made hell.

“Just before Christmas he bought himself the machine and the noise has been unbearable. When he gets on it the walls start to shake.

“You can hear everything. There is the constant thud of him jogging. Sometimes it has got so bad that bulbs have fallen out of my chandelier.”

The problem is probably down to these things coming with printed instructions, which Gallagher's probably binned - you know how he feels about books. But without an explanation, he's probably figured that you're meant to run about your gym with the equipment on your back.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


If we had a whole Ikea's worth of skeleton-filled closets, we'd probably take care to treat the people who tiptoe round those closets well: make sure they get paid on time; something a little extra at Christmas, perhaps; an incentive scheme on top.

Not so Michael Jackson, who apparently hasn't paid his team at Neverland for six weeks - in other words, since before Christmas.

Five of his people have filed complaints with the California State Labour Commission; the Commission says it expects more complaints in the next few days.

We wonder if the people Jackson owes cash to can think of some other thing they could sell to keep the wolf from the door...


The dreadful threat of having to wade through badly worded emails from fuming evangelical fundamentalists has been enough for NBC to flap about changing Britney Spears' forthcoming Will & Grace role.

Not, of course, that NBC is admitting that it's caved in at the slightest whiff of pressure from the only-slightly-barking American Family Association. No, the company claims that it was all a terrible misunderstanding. Indeed, the really detailed press release was somehow issued containing "erroneous information":

The episode has not been written yet, NBC said in a statement, and "the reference to 'Cruci-fixin's' will not be in the show and the storyline will not contain a Christian characterization at all."

Plus, NBC really loves Jesus, and welcomes the day when the whole world is renamed Jesusplanet. And if it ever hears of suggesting that, for example, the American Family Association are a bunch of self-aggrandising egomaniacs who wield a power totally out of proportion compared with the number of people who follow their "take offence at everything" strictures, why, NBC would be the first to ask the AFA for permission to denounce those people in the strongest terms.

The final scheduled slots for the farewell season of Will and Grace will be used instead for back-to-back episodes of the Angelus, bought in from RTE specially for the occasion.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: The week the world, apparently, went indie

A couple of decades back, Paolo Hewitt provided one of the irregular flashpoints for the NME letters pages with a front page story "Why black music in Britain doesn't stand a chance." Naturally, the debate quickly crashed off into Morrisseyiana (was "burn down the disco/ hang the blessed dj" a racist attack on black music or simply down to him being too nervous to sing "burn down radio one and hang Simon Bates" while relying on the BBC's patronage, the crux of Hewitt's claims were pretty solid - black music in late 80s Britain wouldn't thrive because daytime Radio One (then, the only game in town) didn't play black music. You might or might not have agreed with his logic from there - Steve Wright wouldn't touch much beyond I Just Called To Say I Love You because the network was inherently racist - but you'd find it hard to disagree with the evidence.

Last week, Hannah Pool essayed a similar argument in the Guardian Weekend magazine - her thesis, though, was the British Black Music had been badly mangled and left for dead. She mainly blamed the record companies for not allowing black talent to develop, the media for not giving black music the airtime it deserved, and white indie guitar boys for cluttering up the place. The trouble is, she didn't manage to make any of this sound like a conspiracy against black artists, and never stopped to consider that young white artists have pretty much the same challenges to face.

Yes, the big record companies don't invest much in British black talent - but they don't invest anything in any new talent: how many pop artists, black or white, have had two albums on a major label without a top forty hit and been invited to make a third?

Secondly, of course, if the big labels do have a racist release policy, who is putting out all these Tupac and BIG and Diddy and 50 Cent records? Likewise, if the media won't touch black artists, what are those acres of MTV programmes about rap and hip-hop artists showing off their houses about?

Third: Yes, there are a lot of Arctic Monkeys type stuff around at the moment, but it's not like we've had solid guitar rock for years and years unbroken: it's not so long back we despaired of ever seeing a drumkit, never mind a fringe, on Top of the Pops ever again.

The basic problem with Pool's theory she did at least touch on when she admitted that fans of the British dance and rap world don't consume music in the same way as pop fans do; they don't go out and buy a single on Monday. Pool was attempting to measure success of a type of music using the wrong tools: if you want to know what the kids on the street are listening to, and if its thriving, you don't look at a list of what's selling most strongly in HMV. That's like trying to tell if your Sunday joint is cooked using a sextant and compass.

There was another curiosity, too - Pool complained that for young black kids, "your best chance of having a hit is by fronting a white rock group" (she was thinking of Kele Bloc Party here): but why should a young black lad not front an indie band? Surely Pool wasn't suggesting that black British youngsters should make only dance and rap music?

She looked back to the happy days when Misteeq and Craig David were riding the top ten: but perhaps that's the problem - British black pop music is suffering because people lost faith in it. Because if you have a choice between Misteeq and Destiny's Child, which would you go with? There are loads of talented black musicians in Britain, but they have better things to do with their time than work at the level of Cleopatra Comin' Atcha. There are massive desi and rap acts in the UK who just don't care they're not going to be introduced by Fearne on a Sunday night, any more than even a really great plumber would expect to turn up on Top of the Pops installing a toilet.

However, Pool is right that the charts are crammed with indie kids right now - indeed, for the NME, it has been The Week The World Went Indie. (In other words, they've put the Arctic Monkeys on the front page again.) And the nation has, indeed, gone indie-crazy, although it's that curious sort of indie that wouldn't know a run of 200 seven inch flexidiscs if it fell over them. They had an interview with someone queuing outside a Sheffield record shop to buy the Monkeys album when it went on sale at midnight - Sally Altoft explaining that she hadn't been able to get to the special, small hometown gig that evening as she had to sit in the queue to make sure she bought the album right away. Sally, Sally, Sally: if we assume for a moment that the band are still remembered at a point in the future when you're bouncing rosy-faced grandchildren on your knee, do you think they will want to hear about that legendary gig on the eve of the album's release, or you sitting in a small knot of people at 11.45 waiting for a shop to open?

We love the idea that the punk equivalent of this would have been that everyone over the age of 30 would now claim to have been sleeping on a campbed outside the Arndale HMV while the Pistols were playing the Free Trade Hall.

Meanwhile, there's the first interview with Preston since he left the Big Brother house. It was the first one he gave, although the excited "talks exclusively to NME" splash was kind of undermined by the ragged-out front page of the Sunday Mirror also featuring an exclusive interview with Preston. There's something about Preston that is a little less warm outside than he seemed on the show: "I was saying vote for her [Chantelle], not me, she's the non-celebrity." Yeah, Preston, because prior to your appearance on the show, you must have been beating the requests to be the face of The Gap and invites onto Parkinson with sticks.

Nobody, it seems, was that fussed about claiming an exclusive with Maggot; it's a pity, because Maggot really does seem to have come through the experience unscathed, without having his entire worldview recast through a Barrymore-Rodham shaped lens, still able to see how fucked up everything was: "I thought George Galloway should be representing his constituents rather than representing Pete's coat."

Naturally, in the week the world went indie, Peter Robinson had to take on an indie giant. But they were all busy, so he made do with Alan from The Rakes instead. The Rakes once got trapped in a Travelodge lift. Mmm. Come on indie, you've got the world's attention; to keep it, you'll have to do better than that.

Mike Batt - yes, Mike Batt of the Wombles - took the trouble to send an email complaining about "the twattish proses of Andy Capper" - see, that's the sort of turn of phrase Katie Melua's writer brings with himself to the party. Batt then describes the NME as "the creators of nothing" before calling Capper's birth "a waste of water and towels" (presumably Batt has never actually seen a birth taking place, or has confused confinement with swimming.) And what has led to this flow of slurried invective? What icon had Capper set out to defile which left Batt forced to curse the very mother of the son? Erm... Capper had been rude about the Brits. We can only conclude that Batt doesn't get out much and the thought of the one evening in a year when he goes out and actually gets to set his Sky+ to record Emmerdale being held up to public mockery was just too much for him to take.

ladyfuzz - london buffalo - "flailing recorder solos and kazoos"
babyshambles - cambridge junction - "'Albion' shines as a call to arms for all of the lonely sailors who have lost faith in the good ship Albion"
the spinto band - liverpool evol - "utterly fantastic"

the open - statues - "frankly, all over the shop", 8
the academy is... - almost here - "rigid adherence to the emo sound", 5

totw - the raconteurs - steady as she goes - "two friends having the time of their lives"
tatu - friend or foe - "like incidental music in Neighbours"
madonna - sorry - "a bit shit"
the darkness - is it just me - "comedy bands die the death they deserve"

and finally, it had to happen: slashfiction goes mainstream, as the NME offers a two page spread to the stuff. One page, admittedly, is given over to a lovely picture of Carl snogging Pete's face off, and we suspect the main motivation for the piece was to politely sneak in a mention of sleepingwiththenme. It's surprising just how many people want to see Jarvis Cocker fucking somebody, anybody, mind.

We wonder if heavy porn users write stories about the regular models in which they take up careers as musicians? "Ben Dover unfurled himself and withdrew his enormous plectrum from his tiny pocket. 'I'd love to do a double-anal, boss, really I would - but I've got a jam session with Roweena Fleshpussy down at the Marquee in just an hour..."


In a bid to try and draw attention to whatever it is he's doing right now, Marilyn manson appears to have faked a haker attack on his own website. It fooled nobody at all, although some people did seem to be hoodwinked into thinking it was an original way to promote whatever it is he's doing right now.

We can't help wondering if, over breakfast with Dita, he tells her about his plans for the day, forcing her to try and look impressed, or if he has a shed or something where he goes to be embarrassing in a degree of secluded privacy.