Saturday, May 27, 2006


Expressing a desire to take the song out the market before people get sick of it, Gnarls Barkley are deleting Crazy this Monday.

We were sick of it about three weeks before release, so it's coming a little late, but even so, it's probably a wise move.


In his head, he wants to sound like Jimmi Hendrix.

Maybe he should set his sights a little lower, for something a little more obtainable? If he really wants to sound like a colourful character who hasn't released a record for a while, how about Robin, Kermit's nephew?


Apparently, Robbie Williams finds when he goes online, he can't discover anybody saying anything nice about him.

We wonder why. Apparently, he now talks about himself in the third person:

"Look we could all psychoanalyse Robbie Williams. I'm not desperate to be in a relationship. It's another piece of the jigsaw, that's all.

"I'm alone. I'm not lonely. I'm OK. I've got the computer and the sleeping pills. Things are fine.

"I know people will say, 'Check out the ego on Robbie Williams going online to see what people say about him.' But it's never anything nice!"

(Oddly, if you were to pump Robbie Williams into Google, you come up with scrolls and scrolls of fan-based worship sites, but then if he's searching while dosed up on sleeping pills, maybe he's mispelling his name 'LARDY OLD MOAN BOX' or something.)

Still, it's nice to know that a pack of nytol and unlimited Broadband from Tiscali is all he needs to keep himself cheerful. Now he's found that, could he please stop releasing records and bring a sense of joy to all our lives?


It would seem churlish to complain about a high-profile music TV show launch in these dark, dark days, and so we're pleased to hear that Channel 4 is going to launch an indie chart show, and giving a slot just after the Big Brother eviction programmes on Friday nights.

But we're just a little confused:

An insider said: “Top Of The Pops has been churning out its tired format for years but we will showcase the indie bands that dominate the charts.”

This is this week's Top Ten:


Now... if that's a chart dominated by indie bands, I really must insist on seeing flyers from Shayne Ward's gig at the Roadmenders, and I'd love to hear Young Jeezy's views on the great distro debate.

Furthermore, if indie bands were dominating the chart, wouldn't Top of the Pops also be dominated by indie bands, rendering the alternative slightly redundant?


Of course, the only way Paris Hilton can think of flogging her dissolute single is by making what she considers to be a sexy video.

I know I've said this before, but why is the world continuing to pretend that Paris Hilton is beautiful and/or sexy? She's rich, nobody could deny that, and she's a fabulous self-publicist, but magazines put her on the front page when she has a face that is so sharp and plasticky that you could use her to slice onions. I knwo that magazine and newspaper editors have to keep telling their readers that the sight of slice-o-face in a bikini is desperately sexy to justify constantly running pictures of her, but really, the simpler option would be to not run the photos. If you're turned on by shots of Paris, you should try the pictures of the dump bins from the knives amnesty - it'd be like writhing lesbian passion.

Anyway, in the "sexy" video Paris has made, she rolls about in a bikini with a moronic looking bloke. This prompts the Sun to suggest the video recalls From Here To Eternity.

It doesn't, because nobody who cares who Paris Hilton is would have a clue about anything (i) made before the Spring of 2005 and (ii) longer than about twelve minutes, and so Hilton might as well make a video which recalls The Good Old Days for all the good it will do; and, more importantly, the surf scene in FHTE was an astonishing and brave piece of cinema in the context of the times in which it was made; the love-on-a-beach scene crackled with sexual energy and a sense of boundaries being pushed; the explosion of passion between two adults stepping out of the repression of their lives. The Paris Hilton video is an chisel-faced shop-hopper and an eight-pack thought vaccuum filling in the time while their slurpees get refilled.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Was it really four years ago that Paul Bartlett produced a list of top Conservative Songs which, on closer inspection, turned out to be anything but?

Now, the National Review has compiled its own list of songs which it thinks upholds what it likes to think of as its values, helpfully republished by the New York Times. They've come up - god 'elp us - with fifty songs:

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naive idealism once and for all. "There's nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by—the—bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss." The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend's ringing guitar, Keith Moon's pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey's wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

An interesting choice - part of the argument for this being the most conservative record ever hangs on the refusal to allow it to be used on the credits of Fahrenheit 9/11, of course. But it also demonstrates the problem with trying to identify the conservative in popular culture - in much the same way that the right will mine through hours and hours of news coverage to find something they believe demonstrates how biased a news organisation is, the conservative approach to claiming songs is to find a few words in a verse which supports their viewpoint. Yes, this is a pretty searing condemnation of the emptiness of the revolution in the head, but lambasting a bunch of revolutionaries for turning out to be sell-outs isn't the same thing as supporting the status quo. Indeed, if you liked the "old boss" so much, why would you be disappointed that the new boss is the same?

2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.
A George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff (which was actually played by Paul McCartney): "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street / If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat / If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet." The song closes with a humorous jab at death taxes: "Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes."

Well, yes, this is a pretty good example of conservatism. "The taxman's taken all my dough" wail The Beatles. You'll note, though, that none of the Beatles have yet died in penury - although Heather may yet have something to say about that.

3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
Don't be misled by the title; this song is "The Screwtape Letters" of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that "every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints." What's more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism: "I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain."

Uh, yeah. He also killed the Kennedys, though - which clearly in Satan claiming responsibility for killing the idealism of the 1960s. You can't have it both ways - either you're delighted with the rejection of 60s idealism you see in Won't Get Fooled Again, or you agree that it was a work of evil for the idealism to be crushed.

Also, Jagger has admitted that his song inspired a whole slew of heavy metal acts to flirt with satanism and imagery (in effect, this is the grandfather of Hard Rock Hallelujah).

4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow."

You're welcome to this one.

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.
Pro—abstinence and pro—marriage: "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do / We could be married / And then we'd be happy."

Or, on the other hand, a song that's about the frustration of having to live within strict, stultifying moral framework of small town America. This isn't a song sang flicking through a wedding gown catalogue; it's a song sung with an erection straining through trousers.

6. "Gloria," by U2.
Just because a rock song is about faith doesn't mean that it's conservative. But what about a rock song that's about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That's beautifully reactionary: "Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate."

With the benefit of hindsight, you could argue that, yes, Bush supporter Bono is a giant conservative. But singing about God doesn't mean you're right wing - Jesus, if he was anything, was liberal - and singing in Latin doesn't mean you're on the right. Half Man Half Biscuit have got a song called Floreat Inertia.

7. "Revolution," by The Beatles.
"You say you want a revolution / Well you know / We all want to change the world . . . Don't you know you can count me out?" What's more, Communism isn't even cool: "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow." (Someone tell the Che Guevara crowd.)

Do people in America really have trouble with the difference between socialism and the ultra-conservatism of Warsaw Pact Communism? I'd always assumed they were joking when they say things like "of course we can't have a medical system where people get treated because they're ill rather than because they're rich, as that's identical to erecting Stalinist death camps outside Colorado Springs" - can it be there are people who really believe that?

Anyway, the song is critical about methods of revolution, not of the revolution in itself - it's a call for that there revolution in the head. Now, that was a bad revolution in song number one, wasn't it?

8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols.
Violent and vulgar, but also a searing anti—abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: "It's not an animal / It's an abortion."

Well... no, it's a "searing anti-abortion anthem", but you can you how a simplistic scan of the lyrics might lead you to conclude that. Mike Mosher has written an excellent essay on this one, actually.

9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.
A head—banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: "So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war."

Yes. Metallica really are stupid, aren't they?

10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks.
"You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / 'Cause the 20th century people / Took it all away from me."

But hang about a moment... "Dont wanna get myself shot down /By some trigger happy policeman" - is the National Review now coming out against the routine arming of the police? And weren't those civil servants and people dressed in grey the selfsame people the mulitcoloured revolutionaries of the 1960s were seeking to replace with colour and love and all that? It's all very confusing.

For the record, the rest of the chart runs like this"
11. "The Trees," by Rush.
12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan
13. "My City Was Gone," by The Pretenders.
14. "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones.
15. "I Fought the Law," by The Crickets.
16. "Get Over It," by The Eagles.
17. "Stay Together for the Kids," by Blink 182.
18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour.
19. "Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
20. "Rock the Casbah," by The Clash.
21. "Heroes," by David Bowie.
22. "Red Barchetta," by Rush.
23. "Brick," by Ben Folds Five.
24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire.
25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin.
26. "Capitalism," by Oingo Boingo.
27. "Obvious Song," by Joe Jackson.
28. "Janie's Got a Gun," by Aerosmith.
29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Iron Maiden.
30. "You Can't Be Too Strong," by Graham Parker.
31. "Small Town," by John Mellencamp.
32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones.
34. "Godzilla," by Blue Oyster Cult.
35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
36. "Government Cheese," by The Rainmakers.
37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," by The Band.
38. "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.
39. "Property Line," by The Marshall Tucker Band.
40. "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers.
41. "The Icicle Melts," by The Cranberries.
42. "Everybody's a Victim," by The Proclaimers.
43. "Wonderful," by Everclear.
44. "Two Sisters," by The Kinks.
45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief," by Cheap Trick.
46. "Wind of Change," by The Scorpions.
47. "One," by Creed.
48. "Why Don't You Get a Job," by The Offspring.
49. "Abortion," by Kid Rock.
50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette.

Some of these are just plain bemusing - The Pretenders? They're in there because the song's about the destruction of Ohio by developers - now, to you and me, that might sound like lily-livered, green conservationist talk. But, no, it turns out it's "conservative's dissatisfaction with rapid change". I never knew Chrissie Hynde was a conservative; presumably Swampy was as well?

The Offspring? Blink 182? Kid Rock? Are the right that hard up for talent they start having to throw beligerent kiddy nonesense before they can come up with fifty songs?

No wonder David Cameron's reduced to picking Benny Hill's Ernie for his Desert Island Discs appearance.

Thanks to Karl T; there's another take on the list over at The Rude Pundit.


We really wish we could be excited by the news that that Paul Simon played a surprised London date to play through his new album.

But that album includes this line:

I'm going to stand guard like a postcard of a golden retriever/
And never leave ya

The sort of line which is only step away from turning up outside your knicker factory not knowing what day it is.


NME is embarking on a search to find the world's biggest Smiths fan - presumably they have a need for a list of balding vegetarian virgins in their late thirties and early forties. Maybe they're planning to build a master race in now empty floor of Kings Reach Tower once occupied by the Melody Maker. Or perhaps they've just taken delivery of some gladioli they're looking to offload.


The sudden death of Desmond Dekker has been announced by his manager, Delroy Williams:

"It is such a shock. I don't think I will ever get over this," he said, adding that Dekker led the way for reggae stars such as Bob Marley.

"Desmond was the first legend, believe it or not. When he released Israelites nobody had heard of Bob Marley - he paved the way for all of them."

Dekker was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1941, and nearly didn't manage to make the leap from welder to reggae legend: audtions for both Coxsonne Dodd and Duke Reid were both coolly received; the third time - with Leslie Kong at the Beverley label - proved the charm, but even so, it was nearly two years before he'd get to cut a record.

The wait was part of Kong's strategy, though: Leslie believed that Dekker needed to be matched to the perfect song, and when, in 1963 Honour Your Father and Mother came his way, he realised that would be the song. With the song, and a new name (he'd been born with the less skanktastic surname Dacres) Dekker started a series of singles which would soon see him eclipse the stars of the Studio One and Treasure Isle.

His fourth single - King of Ska - saw him backed by a band then known as The Cherrypies; they would go on to reform themselves into the Maytals, but it was clear that Dekker needed something more permanent. The four Howard brothers were formed into a more-than-makeshift backing unit, and it was as Desmond Dekker and The Aces that the sound would go global.

In 1967, and influnced by the new rude boy culture, Desmond recorded 007 (Shanty Town). Finding its way to the UK, it was picked up by the mod movement which was enough to shoot Dekker into the Top 20 and provided the basis for the first of what would be many British tours over the next forty years.

The following year, Dekker released the wonderful, wonderful Israelites, a track which would give him his sole UK number one and the distinction of being the first Jamaican track to achieve any level of success in the American market. As well as its April 1969 topping of the UK chart, it would also go to number one in The Netherlands, South Africa, Canada, Sweden and West Germany. Naturally, it would also lead the Jamaican charts.

The Israelites would have a long afterlife - a re-release following a record label takeover in 1975 took it back into the top ten; less gloriously, Dekker's impassioned song about freedom was reworked to flog Vitalite butter-replacement gunk in a TV commercial.

Dekker relocated to Great Britain in the early 1970s, recording and touring. Despite his reservations about Jimmy Cliff's You Can Get It If You Really Want, he was persuaded to give it a go; the slightly softer sound helped him gain back some of the ground he'd lost in terms of sales.

The 1971 death of Leslie Kong was a setback, both personally and in career terms, and while a new production partnership with Bruce Anthony spawned 1974's Sing A Little Song generated a top ten hit, Dekker found a follow-up difficult. Changing times - and too long away - also saw his popularity in Jamaica start to wane.

His saviours came from Coventry. The Two-Tone movement knew genius when it heard it, and while some musical movements are happy to just take the sound, The Specials, Madness and the others loved the opportunity to work with their heroes. Dekker ended up alongside Lene Lovich and Deaf School on the Stiff label. Not everything he did in this period was that inspired - he re-recorded a lot of his old material with The Rumour (as in Graham Parker and...) and while this spawned a Belgian chart hit from the new version of the Israelites, it's not perhaps the best way to remember him.

The work didn't really pay well, either, and in 1984 Dekker was forced to declare bankruptcy. He still toured, though, and continued to rework his (and other people's) old songs - 1992's King of Kings with The Specials, for example, and the more recent umpteenth version of the Israelites with Apache Indian.

Reports from his live shows last year suggested that Dekker was in poor health - the sets he played were short and fans spotted that he "looked like death."

Desmond Dekker was 64. He died at his Surrey home.


We're hoping that someone has got the wrong end of a stick here, and that eight-months pregnant Gwen Stefani isn't really intending to turn up at a night club in a motorised wheelchair tomorrow, is she?

Different people can cope with different things at different stages in their pregnancy, but we'd suggest that if you need a wheelchair to do enable you to do something, you might be better off not doing it. Because you know when you feel tired and need a rest? That'll be your body's way of telling you you're tired and need a rest, rather than suggesting you sit up until three am breathing in second hand smoke.


Yes, yes, Michael Eavis - we know that Kylie's the headliner for next year's Glastonbury.

Could you stop "revealing" it every ten minutes? This is about the 500th time since you first dropped a broad hint before Christmas. Kylie. We get it.


Peaches Geldof is smarting over suggestions that she's little more than a tourist hotel version of Paris Hilton:

"I wouldn't say we're the new Hiltons because we occasionally go to parties. Paris and Nicky have gone to hundreds and hundreds of parties over the years. We've only been to a couple to get a goodie bag and take advantage of the free sushi- not to be photographed."

Maybe this argument would be more convincing if it wasn't made in the middle of an exclusive interview and photosession with Now magazine.


While hanging out with journalists and The Sun's Victoria Newton backstage at the Ivors yesterday, James Blunt made the whole nation nauseous:

“It would be an honour to win Bizarre’s Shagger Of The Year. I would be proud to beat JENSON BUTTON and JOHN PRESCOTT.

Well, everyone's got to have something to shoot for. And what a wonderful way to attract women - "can i fuck you to add to a total so I can win a title from a newspaper?" That one can't fail, can it?


It's death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder.

We know that Morrissey's manager was acting from the purest of motives when he bought a load of meat from a butcher's wagon in Truro so Mozzer wouldn't have to see flesh for sale, but surely Mozzer must be able to be in a room with the odd chop without his head falling off? Vegetarianism is a moral choice, not an allergy.

So did the meat go to waste?

[Butcher Chris] Barrow said: “When the manager said he would buy the whole lot I thought he was joking. He asked how much I wanted and I thought about it and said £200. He took out a wad of cash and paid it without blinking an eye. I wish I’d said £300 now. I’ve never even heard of Morrissey, though I understand he’s quite a big name.”

That's going to come as a disappointment to Mozzer - we bet he'd hoped that every butchers shop had a picture of him in the style of a 'wanted for crimes againt scrag end' posted up out back.

But hang on - what happened to the meat?

The manager then donated the meat haul to a local hostel for the homeless. It consisted of two bin-bags of sausages, lamb, venison, steak and chops, as well as 40 packs of bacon and 30 packets of sliced ham.

Aah! So it's morally unjustified to eat meat, unless you're homeless?


Hot young rap star - and we're using "hot" in no sense you've ever come across before - Kevin Federline might be available again soon. Apparently, Britney's kicked him out. Again.:

Kevin, 28, has spent three out of the last four nights holed up in a flat with pals in Sherman Oaks, California — while Britney has remained at home in Malibu.

We're not entirely sure why this is being judged different from all the other times Kevin finds himself settling down in a different room, town, county or state from his wife, child and foetus - how do you tell the difference between "thrown out" and "playing cards with his wife's money"? Luckily, there's "a pal" to fill in the gaps:

“Things have suddenly turned very sour. It looks bad.”

Suddenly turned very sour? Not a very close pal, then.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The slightly bemusing Ivor Novello Awards - Britains' premier (i.e. only) songwriting prizes - have been presented. Two for James Blunt, one for KT Tunstall.

KT was delighted:

"I've been writing songs for 15 years and it's amazing to just sit in your room and do something that you like doing and it turns into this. It gives you a kick up the arse to carry on."

We're saddened to hear that KT felt she was in a need of a kick up the arse - we would have been happy to provide one of those.

The winners in full, then:


Song: Suddenly I See
Writer/s: KT Tunstall
UK Publisher: Sony / ATV Music Publishing
Performed By: KT Tunstall


Song: You’re Beautiful
Writer/s: James Blunt // Amanda Ghost // Sacha Skarbek
UK Publisher: Bucks Music Group // EMI Music Publishing
Performed By: James Blunt


Broadcast: Elizabeth I
Composer: Rob Lane
UK Publisher: Bucks Music Group


Philip Cunningham // Gillian Gilbert // Peter Hook // Stephen Morris // Bernard Sumner (New Order)


Song: That’s My Goal
Writer/s: Jorgen Elofsson // Jeremy Godfrey // Bill Padley
UK Publisher: BMG Music Publishing // Universal Music Publishing
Performed By: Shayne Ward


Title: Employment
Writer/s: Nick Baines // Nick Hodgson // Simon Rix // Andrew White // Ricky Wilson
Performed By: Kaiser Chiefs


Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH


Song: You’re Beautiful
Writer/s: James Blunt // Amanda Ghost // Sacha Skarbek
UK Publisher: Bucks Music Group // EMI Music Publishing
Performed By: James Blunt


Film: Evil
Composer: Francis Shaw
UK Publisher: Copyright Control


Song: Wires
Writer/s: Joel Pott // Steven Roberts // Timothy Wanstall // Carey Willetts
UK Publisher: Chrysalis Music Publishing
Performed By: Athlete


Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull)


Damon Albarn // Jamie Hewlett


Ray Davies


Kenny Gamble // Leon Huff


Barry Gibb // Maurice Gibb (Posthumous) // Robin Gibb

Yes. They gave a prize to Athlete, which just goes to prove they've at least got a sense of humour, those Ivor guys.


On Sunday, Elton John's much-derided Vampire musical Lestat closes after just 39 shows on Broadway. And today, it's been announced that ABC aren't going to pick up the sitcom about himse... sorry, a totally fictional gay rock star.

There is some soothing balm for Elton though, because he's richer than everyone I have ever met added together.


It says it's being done in the "spirit of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters", which is normally enough to put us off anything, but we'll let that pass: 12 Apostles is launching ROC's new album with a bus-centric event, this Saturday. (They say Saturday 27th, but we're assuming they mean 26th. Or perhaps Sunday. Or maybe that's the Merry Prank.)

Two gigs, joined by one bus:

Art: 5pm-7.30pm Rota @ Notting Hill Arts Club,21 Notting Hill Gate London W11, admission free

Reason: 9pm-1am Raison D'Etre350 Old St London EC1 admission £3

a bus will transport artists, lucky audience members, vagrants and stray animals from one venue to the next.

Besides ROC, you'll get to see Ollo, Maverick Sounds, Hamster Dragster and, presumably, a bus driver.



Okay, we would.

Journey South, you'll need reminding, was one of the X-Factor turnips from the last season, currently enjoying the last oozings of their temporary fame. Now, it's easy to suppose that anyone who's prepared to be told what to do by the likes of Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh or Sharon Osbourne's Playdoh face must have a bit lacking in the synapse department, but sometimes, it's actually measureable.

Carl Pemberton came to a ford and - despite the stream it was crossing being hugely swollen by recent rains - decided to drive across. When water started to pour into his car, rather than thinking "oh, what a twonk I am, I've driven my car into a river and it turns out my vehicle isn't one of those of the movies which turns into a submarine", he ploughed on.

Because it's a ford, see, which obviously means normal rules of physics don't apply.

Obviously, the car eventually conked out. And:

He crawled out but was knocked over by strong currents and swept downstream.

Mr Pemberton, from nearby Coulby Newham, spent five minutes in the water before managing to drag himself out.

The star raised the alarm at a local riding centre before being taken to hospital in Middlesbrough, where he was told he had escaped with just cuts and bruises.

Great. So not only has dumped a car in a stream, he's also wasted NHS resources.

The good news, though, is he'll be ready to take up his summer season at Butlins.


Genesis' plans to have Liverpool's Parr Street Studios turned into luxury flats for people as rich as they are will go ahead, after a consortium looking to buy the business had their bid rejected:

Last night Thomas Lang, a member of the consortium, said: "I'm heartbroken and completely disillusioned. We were promised that if we could come up with the money we could have the studios. "That has not happened and I do not know what the motivation for the decision is."

Echo and the Bunnymen frontman Ian McCulloch, whose management is based at the centre, said: "I'm extremely disappointed that one of the city's most successful cultural assets is being closed to line the pockets of corporate property developers.

The studios, which have been used by Coldplay, New Order and countless local bands, are said to have been losing money; a figure of £1.35 million had apparently been agreed to transfer them to the consortium but it seems like Hit and Run, Genesis' property company, wants more money:

Hit and Run is owned by three members of Genesis, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. A spokesman for Hit and Run said: "I have been instructed to sell the property. It is the first time we have put this property on the market. We are looking for offers in the region of £1.6m and if the consortium wish to come back with a new offer, they are welcome to."

Well, you wouldn't want to think of Phil Collins starving to death in his old age because he missed out on a few thousand quid, would you?

Naturally, if Liverpool City Council actually cared about its local culture - rather than only embracing it as a marketing opportunity - they would by now have made it perfectly clear that no planning consent would be given to change the building into flats, but they seem reluctant to actually do anything that might upset property developers.


The death has been announced of Ian Copeland, music promoter.

Son of CIA man Miles Copeland and brother of The Police's Stuart, Ian's break came when his brother, another Miles (founder of IRS records), got him a job in London. Ian worked as a booking agent, helping discover the Average White Band.

The Copeland boys had had a childhood in the Middle East - Ian was born in Damascus and it was a run in with police in The Lebanon which prompted his Dad to send him travelling. While George W Bush was using his Dad's influence to avoid the Vietnam war, Copeland had no such strings pulled for him and saw action in Asia as part of a three-year stint in the army.

Following his relocation to the US in the 70s, Ian introduced Squeeze to American audiences and then played an instrumental role in REM's early career. Bill Berry was working as a delivery boy at Paragon, a booking agency, which gave him an early introduction to Ian and Miles. (Mike Mills was working at Sears this time, the contacts which he would have made there wouldn't have given them the same chance to develop a global following of loyal fans, but would have meant they could have got ten percent off a new vaccuum cleaner.)

In the 1980s, Ian went it alone, setting up a booking agency (Frontier Booking International - geddit?) and offering a step up to many British new wave acts (as any British band that wasn't the Sex Pistols or the Beatles were contractually obliged to be called up until 1997).

More recently, Ian ran the Backstage Cafe, a relaxed venue in LA. The message boards for the cafe have taken on the form of an online memorial, attracting sympathy messages from characters as diverse as The Member's Nick Tesco and The Go-Gos.

Ian died of melanoma. He was 57.

Ian Copeland's autobiography, Wild Thing, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1999.


How thrilling to hear that Michael Jackson is apparently looking for property in London. Perhaps he could get Kirsty and Phil on the job?

- So, you say it's important to be near good schools?
- Yes, yes, that's very important to me
- Are you looking for schools that are more arts inclined, or with a more sciencey approach?
- Well, I don't mind, but bushes outside would be great...
- Bushes?
- Bushes.
- Now, about the requirements to be able to house elephants and flamingoes... that might be tricky in central London...

Back in the real world:

The singer spoke to a Mirror reporter at the London offices of Harrods, owned by his friend Mohamed Al Fayed.

He added: "I'm also visiting my good friend Mohamed - 'cos he's the man."

It's hard to see what Jackson has in common with Al Fayed - one has a tendency to adopt false, self-aggrandising titles and has an almost superheroic sense of persecution; the other... hang on, which one was the other?


Simulataneous emails - literally simulataneous - arrive from Karl T and Mike S to bring this morning's Guardian Technology feature on online music to our attention.

Guess what? The Arctic Monkeys didn't use MySpace:

Yes, there is an Arctic Monkeys page on MySpace, set up last August. But as the disclaimer makes clear, it is a fan site, unconnected to the band or management.

According to Johnny Bradshaw, the Monkeys' product manager at Domino, the band didn't even know what MySpace was until three months ago.

"There's so much confusion about how the Arctic Monkeys got their music out there in the first place," he says. "They handed out 50 CD-Rs at the early shows to a small group of fans. As the fans started file sharing them, that's how it spread over the internet. It was word of mouth."

The MySpace connection is, he says, media-derived. "Nobody can genuinely get their heads round it when a phenomenon [like the Arctic Monkeys] happens every 10 years, so people try and over-analyse it and find more erudite reasons as to why this thing happened.

But what about Sandi Thom, the famous girl who got a record deal because she streamed gigs from her basement over the web? Surely that's a heartwarming story about how the web can make small acts international heroes overnight?

From 60 people attracted to her first show, the audience grew to around 60,000 and she was signed for £1m by Sony BMG imprint RCA on April 4. RCA is promoting Thom's current single, titled I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker, as from "the singer who webcast to the world from her Tooting basement".

Following a small feature in The Sunday Times on March 5, this story spread rapidly. But it also ignited a furore among bloggers. This was no struggling artist, they claimed; rather, she had a publishing deal with Windswept/Pacific Music (home of Beyonce Knowles and Craig David) and had employed expensive technology specialists Streaming Tank to manage the webcasts. There was also no evidence, certainly prior to March 5, of any internet buzz surrounding her name - least of all on Thom's MySpace site."

Thom's manager, Ian Brown, denies these accusations. He says the gigs were attractive because they were free, the audiences were significant, Streaming Tank were friends of friends and absorbed the bandwidth charges, while information about the gigs was spread by email and not via web forums, meaning they would leave no trace on search engines. And ultimately, his overall aim was to sign a major record deal and sell music.

In other words: who cares where the truth is, the story sold records.

The heartbreaking truth of this for the oodilions of bands who signed up to MySpace in the wake of the Monkeys' success: nice try, but if you're interested in selling through HMV to the Top 40 market, you're still going to have to hope an A&R man from a big label is still sober enough when he sees you to get your mobile number.


You can see why Hasbro would have wanted to market these - they're the dolls based on the Pussycat Dolls. Dolls based on people based on dolls; mirrors within mirrors. Christmas postmodern paydays.

Trouble is, even parents who have been happy to give their kids the borderline-hooker Bratz dolls thought this was going a little far. Hasbro are now scrapping their plans:

Modeled on the all-girl cabaret act turned pop singers, the dolls, in teeny mini-skirts and lacy tops, were as scantily-clad as the real-life act.

In a statement, Hasbro acknowledged that the image of the pop group "focused on a much older target than we had anticipated at the time of our original discussions." To move forward, the company said, would be "inappropriate."

You'll note that Hasbro were in discussions to make the dolls before the band had finished their marketing plan, never mind released a single, of course.


At first, we thought it was Is Hot, Your Band - like a laid-back compliment; but it's actually I Shot Your Band, a collection of live photos taken by J. Wild. The photography is great; our delight was slightly tempered by Wild's musical tastes (rather a little too much NOFX type stuff, not enough Lacuna Coil, for our liking), but if you like shouting men in vests, it'll be a lovely way to burn through your bandwidth.


The idea of a TV music channel which is funded by something other than commercials seems, on first hearing, a pleasant one.

We're not so sure about the details.

Funded with cash generated in part from doing the Crazy Frog ads, Bubble Hits isn't going to have ads.

Instead it will "generate all its revenue from sponsorship and other services, including texting for "prizes you can't buy" competitions."

In other words, you might not get to see adverts for mobile phones every ten minutes, but there's still going to be enough clutter so you won't miss the adverts at all.

Bubble Hits is aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds and will mainly air music videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Around 10 daily feature "breaks" will be pre-recorded inserts hosted by former EastEnders actor Chris Parker, who played Spencer Moon in the soap, and an as- yet-unannounced Irish female presenter.

We think after about fifteen minutes, you'd sell your own mother to see some well-made commercials.


All Red partners have high standards and work practices: if they didn't and were trying to hide something they would be very foolish to bring all this Red attention on themselves.
- Bono defends his hook-up with, amongst others, Nike, Monday 22nd May 2006

Nike’s expectations in this area [unionisation] are also less detailed than those of Reebok (2001) and the Fair Labor Association. Nike does not, for example, specify that suppliers should negotiate in good faith with any union that has been recognised as a bargaining agent.

Nike provided a relatively detailed response to questions for this report, but declined to provide details of supplier factories where unions have been formed and have negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Research for Part 1 of this report found that in two factories — Jaqalanka in Sri Lanka and MSP sportswear in Thailand — Nike eventually intervened in a constructive manner and cooperated with the FLA to ensure workers’ trade union rights were respected, but only after local and international organisations made repeated public calls for Nike to enforce its code of conduct. In a third factory, PT Doson in Indonesia, Nike’s decision to cut all orders resulted in the Doson factory’s closure. The SPN union alleges that Nike’s decision was linked to the union’s industrial campaign for better wages and conditions in the factory.

Nike (2005a) declined to say what proportion of its production is taking place in countries or free trade zones where the right to freedom of association is not given legal effect. Nike distanced itself from responsibility for these decisions, arguing that the company’s relationship is with its suppliers, and that it is up to the suppliers to decide where to locate their factories. This ignores the considerable influence which Nike has in its relationship with suppliers."

- Oxfam America report 'Offside' into sportswear brands, published Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006


Yesterday, Tony Blair was happily denying that the family of Dr David Kelly, the weapons expert hounded to death by his government, would be in any way upset by the auction of a copy of the Hutton Inquiry (a copy signed, of course, by Cherie Blair who - as QC - you'd have hoped would have realised that she was turning the report of the official inquest into a man's death into something on a par with a selection of home-made jams, or a tombola prize.) We did assume Blair's surprising talent to channel the emotions of a family might be the most surprising manifestation of celebrity psychic ability, but we were wrong.

Madonna knows what Jesus wants.

Trying to conceal her delight that the riding onto the stage on a giant cross business had generated the type of coverage she'd hoped for, she set about justifying it:

“I don’t think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I’m trying to send. Jesus taught that we should love thy neighbour.”

Jesus - a famously patient bloke - might find it difficult to understand how plopping onto a stage at a $100-a-head gig on a giant Swarovski-studded crucifx sends the message 'love they neighbour'; indeed, the key message from the shows hovers somewhere between 'i love me', 'you love me' and 'don't forget to visit the merchandise stall'.

It's a little galling, too, being lectured on loving thy neighbour by a woman who happily encouraged people to cross the picket line outside the Forum. Perhaps she'd have shown concern for them if they'd had swarovski-encrusted placards?


In some sort of poll designed to draw attention to some company or other's financial product, Sharon Osbourne has come out top.

But can you guess what it is she's being lauded for? Here's the top ten:

1 Sharon Osbourne
2 Madonna
3 Carol Vorderman
4 Cher
5 Davina McCall
6 Catherine Zeta-Jones
7 Camilla Parker Bowles
8 Kirstie Alley
9 Kelly Osbourne
10 Jade Goody

No, not "most irritating woman on the planet", or "people who could most comfortably be shut in a bus and sent off to spend the rest of their lives in Kent without anyone being very upset, with the possible exception of the people of Kent." Apparently, these people have been selected as having been the "most successful re-inventions."

Davina's re-invention from a mildly successful functionary on a human zoo to ratings car-crash seems an odd choice, as does Kelly Osbourne, who was a pointless hanger-on in an irritating TV show and is now just a pointless hanger-on.

But we're really not buying this list at all - how many British people, asked to name a celebrity who remodelled themselves, would cite Kirstie Alley? "We really liked her in Cheers, then she apparently got fat and only made adverts we couldn't see here, and then she made Fat Actress which, if it transmitted here at all, was tucked away god knows where, and then apparently lost all the weight." Unless they've selected her for her change from intelligent, funny woman into scientologist dupe?

There's a balancing rubbish change list, too:

1 Michael Jackson
2 Pete Burns
3 Jocelyne Wildenstein
4 Leslie Ash
5 Britney Spears
6 Victoria Beckham
7 Anne Robinson
8. Vanessa Feltz
9. Melanie Griffith
10. LaToya Jackson

Now, delighted thought we are to see Michael both top and tail the list, again we doubt that LaToya would have appeared unprompted. Number three is apparently some dumb rich woman who's known solely for reconstructing her face - try dropping her name in your office today and see if anyone's heard of her. We suspect not.


It would be unfair and perhaps even slightly cruel to suggest that Dannii Minogue doesn't have an original thought anywhere in her body, least of all in her head. But you listen to her, and you can't help picturing those freaky siblings who get dressed identically by their parents and never quite get over it:

I’m very single – too much running around, working. But I would like a French gentleman. I like the accent.

“Kylie and I love France. I guess we were first drawn there by the fashion – and I guess we like the men there. It’s becoming a third home to us.”

A French gentleman, you say? Ooh, like... what's the name of that Australian singer who's got herself engaged to a Frenchman?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


As if the trail of dumped, overdosed cousins and blood-drenched camera teams wasn't bad enough, now Pete Doherty has managed to get the Edinburgh Corn Exchange threatened with a £200 fine:

Doherty sparked up a fag onstage, in the new smoke-free Scotland.

There was more fun after the gig:

Doherty landed the Corn Exchange in trouble as he delivered a performance described as "shambolic" by fans. The following morning, the rock star tried to buy drugs from a stunned Edinburgh newsagent only yards from his hotel.

Doherty jumped in the back of a car belonging to Shaz Shafiq and asked whether he had "scored".

Mr Shafiq told the singer he had made a mistake but a dazed Doherty continued to ask for the "hardest stuff" available.

Mr Shafiq missed an opportunity to offload three packets of Extra Strong Mints and a packet of Capstan full strength.


After the terrible sound of Flea sobbing that people were hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers stuff before they'd released it comes another awful sound.

The crunching possibility that people had heard Dani California before they'd even recorded it.

WGMD in Delaware reckon it's nothing but a knock-off of a Tom Petty track, Mary Jane’s Last Dance:

Producer Jared Morris said: “The chord progression, the melody, the tempo, the key, the lyrical theme… they’re identical.”

No wonder they didn't want the album to leak - who wants to give the IP lawyers a head start, eh?


Joan Baez shows that not all activists end up flogging mobile phones - she's clambered up a tree in California to try and protect a 14 acre area of farmland threatened with development.

She says she won't come down until the land is protected - although, she's actually sharing the tree-sitting duties with other people.


Elton John has come to an out-of-court settlement with the Daily Mail following the Mail's libel that he misbehaved at an AIDS benefit.

The Mail will pay Elton £100,000 plus costs. The cash will go to Elton's Aids charity.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The UK Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Brits Lifetime Achievement awards. NMEW godlike genius awards. What does that tell you?

That there's too many lifetime achievement prizes in music?

Perhaps... or perhaps it means that people like them, and let's have some more.

XFM thinks its the latter, and so is creating their very own hall of fame. And you - yes, you - can decide which of the totally surprising shortlisted suggestions wins the, um, accolade.

The Clash - Punk legends and inspiration for generations of bands.
Muse - The scale, the ambition, the live shows, the guitar solos!
Nirvana - The genius group who dragged alternative rock into the mainstream.
Oasis - Liam and Noel, heroes of Britpop and beyond.
Radiohead - The most musically innovative group of the decade.

The explanations of who these people are suggests there might be a problem here: if you need to have the who of Oasis explained to you (rather than the why), you probably shouldn't be voting for a lifetime achievement award.


The scratchabilty or otherwise of the first iPod Nano screens is to be tested in court - a class action suit is being pursued in the US on behalf of those who bought one.

However, the man in whose name the lawsuit was supposedly initiated, Jason Tomczak, has posted an open letter on his website in which he claims he never sought to bring a legal action:

The truth is that I never sought out nor did I ever hire David P. Meyer & Associates or Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro to represent me in any case, much less the iPod Nano Class Action suit.

The iPod Nano Class Action law suit was initiated by David P. Meyer & Associates Co. LPA of Columbus, Ohio and their representative firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP of Seattle, Washington and filed on October 19, 2005.

David P. Meyer & Associates contacted me, soliciting my opinions and comments about the scratching of my iPod Nano after finding Nano-related blog posts I'd written on my own website, on The Unofficial Apple Weblog and on The MacCast. They informed me that they had received an "overwhelming number of complaints" about the Nano and that they wanted my "insight into the problem". Yes, I answered their communication and told them that I had problems with my iPod Nano, however I clearly told them that they should do their own professional and technological study of the iPod Nano.

I emphasized that I did not have any access to any specific data about the materials used in making the iPod Nano. David P. Meyer & Associates used my personal comments and opinions as the basis of the iPod Nano suit. To my knowledge, there was no actual technical study done on the iPod Nano before the Class Action suit was filed.

Additionally, I told David P. Meyer & Associates that I wanted to remain private, and that my wish for privacy, among other considerations, would preclude me from getting involved in the case.

The senior partner of David P. Meyer & Associates and one of his representatives called me during the afternoon of October 21, 2005 to urgently request my signature on an attorney-client agreement - two days after the Class Action suit was filed; two days after they began their action against Apple; two days after the press had begun running the story. They then warned me that my family, friends, clients and I should expect to hear from the media and others interested in the iPod Nano Class Action suit.

During that phone call to me, David P. Meyer and his associate blamed the faulty Nano filing on Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

Tomczak has found the legal companies less than gracious - they're now suing him:

The defense teams filed "demurrers" against my filings which state, in short, that David P. Meyer & Associates and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro did, in fact, mistakenly file the iPod Nano Class Action suit with my name, but they claim that they legally had a privilege to mistakenly file documents in my name without culpability or recourse.

Obviously, it should be stressed that this is sourced solely from Tomczak's website, and only provides one side of the story. But it's a strange development indeed.


Tucked away in the middle of an article about Bono's Red is an interesting little observation:

Stephan Shakespeare, chief executive of YouGov, a British market research company, said consumers in the U.K. have not "reacted in a manner that these companies, at least in private, would have hoped for." Shakespeare indicated that there have been many issue-based products launched in the U.K. recently, which might have led to "consumer apathy towards [Product] RED, which even Bono can't overcome," Shakespeare said.

What Shakespeare doesn't say, though, is it's possible that the presence of Bono which is dragging the venture down - sure, Vox is convinced his presence makes things seem exciting and enticing, but is he sure? While Bono's presence might help sell a gig aimed at the sort of people who like U2, is he really the perfect spokesperson to persuade a wider audience to sample a mobile phone or a credit card?


Britney Spears must be terribly unhappy - she's taken to her bedroom and started writing poetry. Such bloody awful poetry:

No more chains
That you gave me

Enough of pain
Now I'm craving something sweet
So delight
How do you stand sleeping at night?

Silly patterns that we follow
You pull me in
Now I'm being swallowed
By the ones you think you love
They pull you down
You can't see up above

Manipulation is the key
They screw it in
Because you're naive

You come to me now
Why do you bother?
Remember the Bible
The sins of the Father
What you do
You pass down
No wonder why
I lost my crown

You don't see me now
You ask yourself why
My crown is back
And it's way too high
For you to be in my presence
Especially my son
You should bow down
I've only just begun

The guilt you fed me
made me weak.
The voodoo you did
I couldn't speak.

You're awakening
The phone is ringing.
Resurrection of my soul
The fear I'm bringing.

What will you say
and what will you do?
She's not the same person that you used to know.

You trick me once, twice, now it's three
Look who's smiling now
Damn, it's good to be me!

The poem was taken down quite quickly - we like to think that Britney realised by capitalising the 'f' in the 'sins of the father' she was implying that God was sinful, and she felt compelled to delete the blasphemy, but it's more likely that someone pointed out she'd be unlikely to ever claim a songwriting credit if this was taken to be an example of her way with a lyric.

Her poetic insistence that Kevin won't fool her again is slightly undermined by the evidence that when she stood up to him last time, by taking away his brrmn-brrm sports car, not only did she cave in within about twenty-four hours, but she then got knocked up by him again.

What, we find ourselves wondering, is the "fear" that Britney is bringing? Not an album of standards set to a modern beat, we hope.


There's one thing you can say for David Cameron - since he made Embarrassing Dad the default setting for would-be Prime Ministers, he's certainly brightened up the political world as people with no real life beyond the red boxes and green benches suddenly send their researchers off to come up with evidence that they're young and cool (note to research team: is 'cool' still what young people say?). Take Gordon Brown:

Nor will he reveal what he wears in bed - "That's between me and the bed sheets" - but says the Arctic Monkeys on his iPod "really wakes you up in the morning".

There is such a thing as trying too hard, you know, Gordon.

Watch out for Tony Blair fighting back by answering every enquiry in Prime Minister's Questions today "Yeah, but, no, but..."

Could there be something more to Brown's liking for the Monkeys, though? They've just dumped an akward colleague who could have been holding them back from getting the ultimate prize... no, nothing there to offer Gordon hope.


Her stupid "Charlotte Church is fat" spite might have been misplaced, but there's only one thing wrong with Cheryl Tweedy's take on Jordan:

CHERYL Tweedy has started ANOTHER feud — this time accusing Jordan of looking “ghastly”.

The Girls Aloud singer blasted the glamour queen for her skimpy clothes and fake boobs.

How can you have a pop at her and not mention her real-life Ken doll husband Peter Andre?


More charm from Pete Doherty - someone injected his cousin with an overdose backstage at the Aberdeen gig; it's claimed Doherty panicked and had aides dump the comatose bloke in the street.

At least someone (maybe the same someone who injected him?) made an anonymous call to the ambulance service.

Mark Peters defends his cousin's decision to put Peters' life second to his own compliactions:

“I know it wasn’t Pete who injected me.”

He added: “He’d left the room and he just wouldn’t do that to me.

“The problem with Pete isn’t him but all his hangers-on.”

It's touching that Peters is so sure that Doherty "wouldn't do" something like that - well, not unless it was for his "art", of course.


Apart from sometimes blurting out "let's get married" to the wrong person, Preston's ability to say the right thing must make him a delight to media manage.

Take, for example, his views on T in the Park compared with Glastonbury:

"T In The Park is the most incredible festival. We've already played it twice and those were two of the best gigs we've ever done.

"I just think that everyone who goes there will be reclining on an analyst's couch within a couple of years because of the carnage that goes on.

"But I'm not a fan of Glastonbury - and I know that's going to be controversial.

"There are just too many friendship bracelets and jester's hats.

"You get people who are high on pills forcing friendship bracelets on you and you're like: 'Listen. I don't want to be your friend. Please kindly fuck off and die.'

"The experience of a music festival should be watching a load of bands with your mates.

"Not spraying your hair purple for the day and wearing an 'I'm bonkers' T-shirt."

Yes, god forbid that you should do something other than just stare mutely at a bunch of indie-kids in the same way you could if you stayed at home. What a terrifying, terrifying prospect that you might actually wind up speaking to some people you don't already know.

Of course there are too many jugglers at Glastonbury - how much better to be at an event designed to sell beer. (Although having said that, has Preston been to Glastonbury recently?)

How lucky, though, that Preston loves T in the Park so much and just happens to be playing it this year. Good boy.

Maybe we're being too harsh on the lad - after all, what does being trapped in a place with a bunch of people pretending to like you shouting and showing off their "I'm Bonkers" t-shirt got to do with music? Although it's a pity he didn't ask himself that before he went on Big Brother.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Oh, it's terrible indeed: with all this piracy and filesharing, EMI could only scrape together profits of USD169 million in the last twelve months, and is so cash-rich they're still keen to buy Warners.

We're sending them a five pound book token to try and help them through.


The RIAA wants everyone to get involved in shopping CD pirates. Why? Well, because it makes their life easier. But what's in it for the average person? Bugger all. So the RIAA tries to convince you it's in your interests. Perhaps, you know, the money from a Wishbone Ash bootleg might be being used to fund organised crime?

Organised crime! That'll be it!. The RIAA claimed, for instance, on February 14th 2004 that:

"Today's report to USTR reflects our heightened concern about the growth of illegal CD-R replication, organized crime's involvement in the manufacture and international distribution of pirate CDs and other media, and internet piracy."

So, you see, you might think you're buying a copy of an otherwise unobtainable CD, but in fact, you're practically giving money straight to the mob.

And the mob, they're bad guys. You can tell by the sort of people they hang out with.

Hang on, though... what's this? Joaquin Garcia, who was in the FBI for thirty years, was giving evidence in the trial of Gregory DePalma, alleged mafia boss. Garcia worked undercover to win DePalma's trust, and claims the boss opened up to him. DePalma described his glittering lifestyle:

In one conversation, DePalma claimed that he and his wife had dinner with singer Mariah Carey and her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola, before the mobster went to prison.

Interestingly, at the time Mottola was still going to dinner with Mariah Carey, Mottola would have been CEO of Sony. So it would be extraordinarily unlikely that the head of one of the RIAA's main labels would have been sitting down to break bread with the head of a crime family.

Mottola, it should be pointed out, has denied any such meeting ever took place; DePalma's defence suggests he likes to exaggerate.

Even so, it's fascinating that DePalma should have chosen Mottola's name to drop as a dinner partner.


It's not surprising that last night's Babyshambles gig in Aberdeen didn't run smoothly.

The surprise, though, is that for once it wasn't Pete Doherty screwing everything up.

Somebody let off a fire alarm and everyone had to go and stand around outside, hoping they might get a few more minutes warmth and pleasure.


As if it wasn't bad enough that she sold the announcement to Hello, Geri Halliwell has lumbered her baby with a rotten name.

Bluebell Madonna Halliwell.

Why? In God's name, why?

"SCARLETT was a name I loved, as SCARLETT O'HARA was my fictional heroine. I seemed to recall she had a daughter who was called BLUE. I thought that was cute - and Bluebell was even cuter.

"As I walked around the park in the last few weeks of pregnancy, I seemed to see bluebells everywhere.

"There's a good reason I picked Madonna as a middle name, too. As she came out of my tummy, Bluebell had both arms wide in the air as if announcing, 'Hi, I'm here.' She was screaming her head off, as though she was shouting, 'Hello Wembley.' "No one else has that name, apart from the Virgin Madonna and the singer, who I love."

Nobody else has the name? Are you sure, love?

Although it fell a little out of popularity during the 1960s, and never a big favourite amongst secular households, Madonna was still the 1,176th most common name (out of over 4,000 tracked) at the time of the 1990 Census. It's also a not uncommon surname; as a first name, it's even more popular in Catholic countries.

However, there is someone who doesn't have the name, and that would be the holy virgin, who (if Geri had checked a book) was called Mary. Madonna is used to refer to her in its actual sense of My Lady.

To be fair to Geri, though, it is the name of a singer. So she wasn't totally wrong.


Blimey: The Kaiser Chiefs website is reporting that Ricky Wilson nearly went a bit hedgehog:

Ricky was hit by a car whilst walking across a pedestrian crossing in Leeds town centre mid evening on Sunday. He's the luckiest man alive, because he is still alive, it sounds daft, but a 'Ricky trademark jump' has probably saved his life. The jump meant he was flipped over the top of the car, hitting the windscreen, rather than getting trapped under it. He was crossing on a green pedestrian light. Whether it was a joyrider, wreckless driving or drunk driving we still don't know. Police are investigating - we'd like to thank the witnesses that have come forward so far.

Ricky has escaped with minor injuries, a broken toe and bruising. He would like all of you to know he's ok, the band's next live dates on June 2nd, 3rd, 4th in Holland and Germany will go ahead as planned and he's on the road to recovery. Any press or media reading this - Ricky's unavailable for comment for legal reasons. Anyone wanting to help with information for the Police - please call Leeds Police Station on 0845 6060606 or 0113 241 3059.

We appreciate your help, we're all relieved and very pleased we still have a singer and all the practise leaping off the ground proved useful when it really mattered.

Thank god he's fine - and how lucky he had a jumping dance. If he'd been the sort to moonwalk, he might not be here now.


Up until now, most of the harrassment of filesharers has taken the form of outrageous demands of civil restitution, but the RIAA has kept the short, lead tube of criminal prosecution tucked into its sleeve, just in case.

It's now being brought down into the skull of some alleged German file sharers by the IFPI, the RIAA's international wing:

"No one should be surprised that we are stepping up our campaign in this way," said John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "Internet piracy has hurt the whole music community in Germany, with legitimate sales falling by a third in just five years."

Interesting. Let's look at the IFPI's figures, shall we?

Their facts on German music do, indeed, suggest sales have fallen by a third - although that covered six years between 1997 and 2003, and it was "over 30%" rather than a third. And that was measured by sales rather than units - so a portion of that could be explained by cost-cutting.

Units per capita did, indeed, fall by a third - from three to two. With figures that low, though, that could comfortably turn out to be rounding error rather than actual sales drop - you're measuring the difference between two "virtually none"s, which requires very sharp eyes.

And in the first portion of the sales slump - 97, 98, 99 - how much of the decline there could seriously be put down to filesharers?

And what's the point of the criminal prosecutions? To teach everyone a lesson? But what about this from the IFPI's report on Germany:

# Only 13% of the German population believe that file sharing is legal, compared with 74% who believe that it is illegal

So, virtually the whole of the country already knows it's currently an illegal activity, and yet the country is still so much a nation of filesharers that it's doing so much damage to the German music industry only jailing people will make it stop? Isn't a law that people feel happy about ignoring a bad law rather than one that needs using?


In his never-ending round of public appearances promoting himself, sorry, his AIDS campaign, Bono has posted to the Guardian's Comment Is Free blog explaining his decision to team up with The Gap, Nike, et al:

This is more hip-hop than indie. What does that mean? A certain generation who grew up wearing grey trenchcoats and crying into their beer about how daddy's bedsit wasn't big enough won't like this. But the generation that came through in the early 1990s under Soul II Soul, the Young Disciples and the British soul movement love it.

Big business is not bad. Big bad business is bad. It is strange that it took the continent of Africa to turn an activist onto commerce, but that's what Africans want now - to do business with us, to trade, to have dignity of labour. Of that, more later ... until you find the vaccine.

Interesting... if you find this cosying up to big business and unsettling, it's because you're indie. Is Bono really taunting us that we're not cool enough to feel happy about Nike making profits off the suffering of the poorest in the world?

It says a lot about Vox's social circles that he assumes anyone who lived in shitty accommodation was doing so at their familie's expense, doesn't it? Some of us lived in dodgy flats because our parents couldn't afford to help us out. Some people do make it on their own, you know, Vox.

And how stupid does Bono think we are? "It is strange that it took the continent of Africa to turn an activist onto commerce", eh? The implication here, of course, is that Bono had kept big business at arm's length and only overcame his distrust of the corporate world when he saw the opportunity to help Africa. It's a nice idea, but surely the Bono who was so close to uber-capitalist Warren Buffett, who owns great chunks of real estate in Dublin, who is part of a Wall Street financial company with people with connections to Enron didn't really need very much persuading to sign deals with The Gap and Nike. As Churchill once said, we've already established what you are, we're now just quibbling about your price.

Really the deal is this. These brands are prepared to share their profits with the Global Fund to Fight Aids in the hope that the association with Red will bring them to new and more loyal customers.

Or, as we suspect the company accountants have seen it - the brands are happy to redirect some of their marketing budget to the GFFA as an investment in their corporate image and future sales.

At certain price points a consumer usually has a few choices when it comes to t-shirts, trainers and mobile phones. A product Red partner, such as Gap or Nike, hopes it will give them something else: an emotional attachment. It may reflect the values they already have or the values they aspire to: we don't mind.

So, let's get this straight, Bono: you're using the thousands of Aids orphans around the world as leverage to allow people to feel more kindly towards Nike? And that's something you're not only happy to do, but feel you can offer as a moral positive?

All Red partners have high standards and work practices: if they didn't and were trying to hide something they would be very foolish to bring all this Red attention on themselves.

Oh, really? This would be, say, the Nike who have stolen the logo of Hackney one of the poorest boroughs in the UK and, when caught, didn't offer even an apology? Or the Nike which claims to have banned use of sweatshop labour, but seems uninterested in allowing independent verification?

Bono knows he's got a tough sell on his hands with this one, and he keeps trying, harder and harder to justify the scheme. Perhaps he should try the honest approach: "I'm a multi-millionaire businessman, and it makes sense for me to try and use my friends to solve the problems of the world, regardless of the ethical or moral dimension."


Get well soon wishes to Supreme Mary Wilson, hospitalised last week with chest pains and looking at heart bypass surgery.

EXTORTION DOESN'T PAY (except in the cases we never hear about)

Nine million dollars - that was the cash an extortionist hoped to get out of Kenneth 'Babyface' Edwards.

Edwards' attorneys gave the man a fake cheque; the end result was the extortionist ended up in prison. Edwards has made his own singles, but has made his wedge producing and writing for Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey; the criminal threatened to claim he was Edwards' illegitimate son - although it's hard to see why he thinks that would be such a threat to the standing of someone who works with crack-addled toilet hiders and screechy plate smashers.


Not that bothered that her first two celluloid outings were in washed-out 70s remake Poseiden and stature-ruining sequel Be Cool, apparently Tarantino is hoping to get Fergie into a film.

We suspect this is Quentin Tarantino in the mood that made From Dusk Til Dawn III rather than the one that made Reservoir Dogs. Fergie will provide her, um, lovely lady lumps in forthcoming portmanteau horror Grind House. We can barely wait.


We seldom need any excuse to run a Cerys Matthews picture, so her being called to headline a free festival in Wales is more than good enough.

She'll be finishing off the Admiral Cardiff Big Weekend on August 6th; also on the bill are Kubb, Katrina and the Waves, Stereo MCs and Paul Young, but if you take the M4 you can be sat in a traffic jam while they're on.


Sniffing at the less-than-distinguished performance of the oddly-face Daz Sampson during Eurovision, Morrissey shows where we went wrong:

"I was horrified but not surprised to see the UK fail again in the Eurovision Song Contest. And there is one question I keep an asking: 'why didn't they ask me?'. That question keeps going round my head."

Of course, a couple of years back Radiohead made similar comments - although when the next A Song For Europe came round, they were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps someone should get a contract stitched up for Moz in 2007 while he's still in a whimsical mood.


The world is quite keen to offer them all the chance to slip off quietly unseen, by the McFadden-Katonas aren't taking the hint. Currently, it's former singer Brian McFadden who's telling anyone who'll listen that Kerry is an unfit mother. Pity he didn't twig that before he impregnated her. Twice. Not that this is about Brian being a poor judge of character:

The ex-Westlife singer also insisted Kerry uses their daughters Molly, four, and Lilly-Sue, three, as weapons in a personal vendetta against him.

It's not entirely clear how running to the papers saying her mothering skills are lacking gives him the moral high ground on this one.

Brian says "Kerry has a different best friend practically every month and recently she seems to have a different man just as often."

Not like dependable old Bri, of course, who has clung to Delta Goodrem like a man clutching a liferaft since they started seeing each other. That would have been while he was married to Kerry, of course, but at least when McFadden walks out on his two preschool kids, he stays walked out.

Brian, everyone would like to see better behaviour on all sides. But if you're going squawk about fitness for parenthood, you might wonder if slagging your kids' mum off in the Daily Mirror is the best way to demonstrate your own.


p Diddy surprised everyone by turning up at Ministry of Sound and doing a spot of djing on Saturday.

To be fair, anyone turning up at Ministry of Sound these days is a bit of a surprise.


Tony Blair seems to be getting his advisors from a strange place now - we think it might be 1950s Louisiana if Alan Steer's ignorant dismissal of rap as an "abomination" is anything to go by:

Sir Alan Steer blasted lyrics that refer to women as “whores” and “bitches”.

He said: “There is a violent aspect to youth culture — you look at rap music, for example.”

And he added that hip-hop is also “incredibly anti-women and dire”.

Now, obviously, there is a lot of rap and hip-hop that fits his description. There's also a lot that doesn't, but clearly Alan wouldn't be able to comment that. The fact he chooses the word "dire", which sounds more like a review than a moral judgement, says it all, really.

The Sun helpfully pipes up:

Rappers often sing about guns and violence.

So do country and western musicians, though.

Sir Alan urged parents to look for signs their children were falling into the rap lifestyle.

We're assuming he means "are they buying records by black people?" or "are they hanging out with black people?", rather than "have they redesigned their bedroom on a Cribs style layout?"

Of course, it's far easier to demonise the genre of music rather than suggest parents engage with what their kids are listening to on a song-by-song basis - that way you can rage at your children from the beat coming through the floor rather than the songs themselves. Yes, it might be healthier to say to young people "why do like this 50 Cent record which takes a nasty attitude to women; isn't there something more positive in this Kanye West track?", but it's so much simpler to march about yelling "all rap is bad."


You can't open a window round here without Avril Lavigne riding past announcing, and then re-announcing her plans to be a singer and an actor. Although the music career seems to have stalled and the acting... well, that's not quite as solid as it might sound:

In echoes of what Barbara Streisand and Bette Midler have done, Avril, 21, has three movies coming up – Over The Hedge with Bruce Willis, Fast Food Nation with Patricia Arquette and The Flock with Richard Gere.

Over The Hedge and Fast Food Nation have been premiered at Cannes this week.

She said: "I want to focus on both singing and acting.

"I’d love to go further. I think it’s important for me to do it the right way and be smart about it and wait for the right parts in the right movies.

"I want to start off small and warm up. I wouldn’t want to just throw myself into a big part. Over The Hedge was a great first film."

What this report doesn't seem to have noticed is that Over The Hedge may or may not be a "great first film", but it's a cartoon; and not really a very good one (Dreamworks. Need we say more?)

And while her appearance in Fast Food Nation is interesting, it's a very small part in a film which has delighted moviegoers in the same way a burger bar would please a foodie. (But of course, "I wouldn't want to throw myself into a big part.")

The real question, of course, is how Lavigne can simultaneously premiere in one movie which is stridently anti-fast food and poor diet, and in one which is being promoted in the US by Wal-Mart funded cartoons of squirrels driving giant hot dogs around and, erm, special Wendys burgers.