Saturday, December 30, 2006

There's always been a (insert whatever it turns out like) element to our music

Bono seems to have noticed that U2, as a band, are pretty thin fare these days - and, like the CEO of a fading brand, is promising to do something, anything to stop the rot.

Actually, strike the "like" from that and replace it with an "as".

The next U2 album will sound different, apparently, although he doesn't seem to know how:

"We're gonna continue to be a band, but maybe the rock will have to go; maybe the rock has to get a lot harder. But whatever it is, it's not gonna stay where it is."

Or maybe it will stay where it is, but turn through 180 degrees. Or maybe it'll sound a lot like the other recent stuff, but with an Abba sample or something stuck in the middle. At this stage, the market reports just aren't in to make that sort of judgement.

Our in-house musicofuturoligists predict the next U2 album will sound "exactly like the last one, but there will be a new logo and The Edge's hat will feature a shiny new badge."

Paris Hilton was killed by the internet

In a bemusing misunderstanding, Lily Allen seems to think that Paris Hilton is little more than someone's famous daughter whose career was scuppered by people being able to somehow see through her on the internets:

"Five years ago Paris Hilton's album would have done really well over here in the UK, because we didn't have things like the internet.

"We didn't have bands like myself or the Arctic Monkeys. Now people can see Paris for what she is, and think: 'Go away. What makes you think you have a life?'

"People cheesy enough to buy albums like that should be killed."

Yes, the death penalty for buying novelty albums. It was the copy of the Juliette and The Licks album that did for Saddam, we understand.

Lily's confused take is doubly bemusing when, in effect, her second-rate Amazulu stylings are being driven mainly by the image she's had created on the internet rather than any inherent quality - how the Arctic Monkeys must cringe every time she suggests that they're in some way siblings under the mouse.

And if people look online and see Paris as being little more than a spoiled talent vacuum, that doesn't quite explain why her TV shows, perfumes and other pointless endeavours continue to do quite well.

Allen is so wrong: five years ago, it's not that Hilton's album would have done well. It just would never have been released. It's hard to imagine that Keith Allen's daughter would have got very far with her PR-constructed career, either.

Self-made woman (material supplied by Daddy)

In a bid to stop her from being "spoiled", Bob Geldof has given Fifi Trixibelle a fifth of a million to set up her own PR company.

Fifi is currently thinking up names for her new venture - My Struggle isn't on the shortlist, apparently.

Coxon the way back?

Christmas, eh? It's all about the family reunions, innit? And what could be more festive than old friends putting animosity to one side and re-embracing each other?

Graham Coxon is apparently convinced that Therestofblur are now sober enough to make a reunion workable. According to an insider of some sort:

“Graham left Blur under a hazy cloud. He was worried that returning to the studio with the lads would be like moving backwards.

“Graham is over getting smashed every night and he didn’t want to go back to an environment where he will be tempted.

“But he has finally realised Blur have grown up and have families now.

“They are a totally different band to the one in the Nineties.

“As soon as Damon has finished his tour with The Good The Bad And The Queen in February they are planning to go into the studio. It will be one step at a time.

“It may not be a long-term project — it will probably be one last final Blur album to bring closure to the band. Just how it should have been.”

Hmm. While we can see that closure is a good thing, as we've said before, we'd rather have a decent Graham Coxon solo album than a misty-eyed Blur one which is more likely to chip away another bit of what made the band special.

Rod: To knights, he yours

Well, commander rather than knight: he's been given a CBE as part of the New Year Honours. Rod has affected to be thrilled, even although he must be sucking a thoughtful tooth as to why Cliff and Macca are knights and he's got some crappy medal that used to be given as a prize on early series of Bullseye:

"Although I'm living in California, I'm very proud to be British," he said.

"We will be celebrating the good news later today."

Of course, Rod was so proud of being British he trumped off to live in California to avoid paying his share of the costs of educating and keeping his fellow countrymen healthy. Not quite sure why a person who went off to live in tax exile is considered worthy of CBE status, but I'm sure the Queen can explain it all.

This is now about so much more than the cleaning products

Ah, it wouldn't be Christmas without a spot of family misery, and who better to supply it than the most miserable family of them all?

Heather Mills called the cops, claiming that paintings worth squillions of pounds had been stolen from the McCartney lodge.

When the police turned up, though, they discovered that it was actually a domestic: Paul had popped by and taken the paintings into "safe" keeping (i.e. his).

We're sure that Heather made a simple mistake - after all, if she knew the paitings had been taken by their owner and then called the cops, that would be wasting police time, wouldn't it?

[Thanks to Jim McCabe for the link]

Friday, December 29, 2006

Britney: I'm no longer your biggest fan

Set against the freedom from Kevin Federline, Britney is going to balance another major loss: Ruben Gray is closing down World of Britney:

"As Britney keeps losing her identity and credibility within fans and industry people, so is"

"I think that WoB has had its run... its feet are not holding firm anymore, not because of my ability to run it, but because I believe Britney is unfortunately done (for me at least)."

In other words, we think he's got a girlfriend in real life.

Atomic kit-off (again)

We're not sure if the poster of Natasha Hamilton naked, save for a million nicotine patches will persuade anyone to give up smoking.

It has, however, persuaded us to try and give up going into Boots.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: He bloody hates Tescos

Having spent the period before Christmas getting excited by the prospect of an X-Factor number one, Gennaro has been suffering turkey indigestion thinking of supermarkets selling DVDs like they're some sort of consumer product:

Gennaro Castaldo, head of communications at leading U.K. specialist entertainment retailer HMV described the supermarkets' actions as being "like a cuckoo in the nest that works against the best interests of the industry and other retailers. I can't think of a thing the supermarkets do in a positive way to develop and sustain the industry."

He adds that specialists such as HMV have "almost written off the blockbuster releases as revenue earners" because of supermarket pricing and have been forced to concentrate even more on deep catalogs.

"Giving it away below cost also damages the aspiration to collect DVDs because consumers perceive it as an almost throwaway product," Castaldo said.

Now, I thought my small collection of DVDs I'd bought and cherished because of the programming on the discs, rather than because they were priced with a healthy mark-up for the store. Turns out I was wrong.

It's also questionable to suggest that supermarkets have done nothing for the industry - they've made DVDs an impulse buy and put them in front of consumers during their weekly shop, which surely has grown the market. And, by "forcing" specialist stores like HMV to stock a wider range of movies, they've helped bring about a situation where people looking for something beyond the new releases might have a fighting chance of finding them in town.

The real heart of HMV's problems might be revealed by being a store which feels that offering back catalogue titles is, in some way, an onerous task to be entered into reluctantly.

Slim poll advantage

Besides providing a beach-based night of dancing for the people of Brighton, Norman Cook is using his New Year gig to poll the people on matters of local importance, not least the question of Brighton and Hove Albion's proposed relocation from some tennis courts to a new site in Falmer and the godawful monstrosity they're trying to build on the King Alfred site in Hove.

Local democracy not merely in action, but also bustin' moves.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Victoria Newton is too sexy for research

Let's just glide gently over the details of the Right Said Fred plans for 2007 - guest spot in a Daz advert, I'm Too Sexy being re-released and probably an invite to deliver Channel 4's alternative Queens Message next Christmas, and instead gaze, again, with wonder at Victoria Newton's journalistic powers:

As I revealed in the summer, Right Said Fred were more like Reich Said Fred when they briefly resurfaced to play at a concert in Germany — where they have a huge following — to mark the start of the 2006 World Cup.

Since then they completely disappeared off the radar again — until now.

Er... completely off the radar, except for Richard Fairbrass being one of the contestants on Celebrity Scissorhands every night for a week during Children In Need, eh, Victoria?

Been to Miami? Lovely, Miami.

What is it with Tony Blair and pop stars houses? Having spent time at Sir Cliff's luxury pad, now he's hunkering down for New Year at Robin Gibb's place in Miami.

Blair's people are desperate to stress that it's a proper rental arrangement, rather than a freebie - although, I suspect, if we see a Sir Robin Gibb in the resignation honours we can assume a healthy discount was arranged. It would be even better, of course, if it had been a house swap, and Gordon Brown was being kept awake at night while Gibb watches the pay-porn in Downing Street.

Not that the adoption was a publicity stunt or anything...

Madonna has just fetched up on Live With Regis and Kelly, looking about as comfortable The Queen would on Dick and Dom In Da Bungalow. (We're guessing this was a rerun of some sort.) In the course of her appearance, she invited Regis Philbin to be the godfather of David. Despite, supposedly, her adoption of him still being over a year in the future.

Of course, we're not American, and maybe it's usual for godparents to be approached on TV chatshows. But from where we're sitting it looks a little like a desperate and transparent bid to try and claw back some positive publicity to try and offset the impression that she's a rich woman who bought a child.

Maybe Paul was dead, all along

We're a little puzzled. There's much excitement over the soon-coming Beatles stamps, which feature a variety of Beatles record sleeves. (Not, sadly, the butchered babies one.)

However, our understanding of the rules for stamps is that the only living people allowed to appear on Royal Mail stamps are royals. So... is Paul McCartney actually dead? And is Ringo a secret son of the Duke of Edinburgh?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fire leaks

Due to a slip of the mouse (we're not going to point the finger at too much eggnog, but... well, it is Christmas, isn't it), The Arcade Fire managed to muff their charity single. Double muff, in fact, as their label stuck up the wrong song at the wrong time:

"Intervention" was supposed to be uploaded to iTunes as a charity single benefitting Partners In Health on the 28th of December, but someone at Merge uploaded the wrong song 2 days too early ... The song that people have downloaded from the US side of iTunes is called "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations," and it is the next track on the record after "Intervention." I guess it is sort of charming that we can send the wrong song to the whole world with a click of a mouse...oh well. The real "Intervention" will be up soon, and there will be a paypal link up on for those who have downloaded the songs without paying but still want to give some money to

Still... it could have been worse. They might have really screwed up and sent it to the Zune store.

Bookmarks: Some other stuff on the internet

Creative Review salutes the work of Malcolm Garrett, designer to the Buzzcocks for thirty years: Garrett has also designed a thirtieth anniversary logo for the tour: “it’s a witty take on the original and the fact that the music, the band, the logo itself and much of the artwork, have been around for so long,” he says.

Shemia Miller editorialises in All Hip Hop on sexism in hip-hop and an apparent rolling backwards: Turn on the television and you have Flavor Flav, a man that was in one of the most socially conscious rap groups of all times, Public Enemy. He now flaunts Black women as if they were pieces of meat to fight over his affection.

Ari Gold recalls the trials of being a Gay Pop Star (more gay than star) in The Advocate: At the next meeting, with another gay label, the exec told me that while I was “a pioneer” and I should be “really proud” of myself, he thought I was too niche for their label. Too niche for a gay label? Kind of ironic, since I had just been told by an indie label that my music was too mainstream for their indie sensibilities.

(Bunnymen not included) in Beatbox3's only slightly over enthusiastic history of the drum machine: The finest feature being the cancel buttons. This allowed you to modify each beat somewhat to give greater flexibility. The tones generated by this unit tend to go from muddy to raspy. The best tones are the cowbell, which is convincing in a mix, and the clave, which really cuts through. All tones but the cymbal are adjustable to the users liking.

Jacko's lawyer's office must offer great muffins

Why else would Michael Jackson continually be trooping down to his lawyer's office? Now, he's decided that he finds himself short of a pot to piss in not because he's spent his millions on giraffes, paying off children he may or may not have touched and legal bills. Instead, it must be the accountants' fault.

So he's suing them.

Jackson suggests that they were taking two and a half million from him each year, but neglecting to pay any bills. The accountants have yet to comment.

After Brown

The tributes to James Brown have been trickling in - as syrupy stuff tends to - as people's agents and managers return to work after Christmas. Mike Griffiths points out the modest Snoop Dogg eulogy, which is, in effect, more all about him:

That's my godfather, my soul inspiration, the hardest working man in show business of all time. He'll be missed, but his music and his legacy will live on through me, in every way you can imagine.

Well, yes... judging by your bulging police record, that might be true.

George Bush has also expressed some sentiments written for him:

He said Brown was "an American original - his fans came from all walks of life and backgrounds. James Brown's family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas."

Bush concluded his statement by insisting that he felt like being a sex machine.

Meanwhile, James Brown sort-of wife Tomi Rae has been locked out the family home. James' lawyer has concluded that, since they married while she was still legally wedded to someone else, and since after her first marriage was annulled she and James Brown never remarried, Tomi Rae wasn't a legal spouse.

Tomi Rae isn't happy:

"This is my home," Mrs. Brown told a reporter for the newspaper outside the gate of the house. "I don't have any money. I don't have anywhere to go."

As mother of James Brown's child, though, she'll probably find things settle down in her favour. The lawyer is reported in the Denver Post this morning as saying that, in effect, Tomi has a house that she'd use when she and James Brown were on one of their regular periods of not being able to live together, so she's not exactly in the snow meanwhile.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jacko double-checking that what happens in Vegas really will stay in Vegas

Just sneaking in as the last Jackson comeback plan of the year: scrub the moving to Ireland bit, and the Katrina benefit single, and recording in London, and the Middle Eastern record label. No, no, Jacko is, apparently, heading to a Vegas residency.

The promoter involved is quite excited:

Promoter Jack Wishna, who is masterminding the singer’s comeback, said: “We are working on several projects.

“He is one of the greatest entertainers in the world and is poised to return to the top.”

The only problem is, of course, he's not actually done any entertaining in a very, very long time - he tends to make dates and either not show up, or just mumble through one verse before blinking off stage. What Vegas venue is going to pony up for that?

Unless, of course, the plan is merely to have him in Ripleys Believe It Or Not.

Dog snoops shop Diddy's shocking dog shopping stock

Trouble for Puff Daddy, as his puffa jackets turn out to be more doggy than daddy. Macys have yanked his coats from their shelves after the Humane Society pointed out the line's faux fur was actually real dog fur.

Diddy dithers he didn't know:

“I was unaware of the nature of this material.

“As soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off Macy’s floor and website.”

If it's (one of your) names on the label, Sean Combs, saying "I didn't know I made my overpriced leisurewear out of puppy skins" isn't quite good enough, is it?

Badly driven boy

Damon Gough - he cares about the planet, you know:

"Everybody thinks and assumes we've never had it so good. I'm trying to juxtapose that with the fact that, all this is great, but there's a lot of fucking crap going on as well. There's a lot of the environment being damaged by us conveniencing ourselves with whatever technology or gadget there is and it's potentially damaging."

Presumably, then, it's a different Badly Drawn Boy whose music is currently soundtracking an advert for Hummers in the US.

While on the subject of adverts, how tough must things be for Celine Dion? This Christmas, she's been reduced to appearing in an advert for Walgreens (which is kind of like Superdrug's drunken uncle) in a bid to try and shift her perfumes. We don't know what her parfum smells like, but it's nothing like dignity.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Soulobit: James Brown

We've just heard, further to our posting earlier, that James Brown has died.

Brown was born in South Carolina in 1933 into extreme poverty - at the age of seven he was living in an Atlanta brothel, helping make money through shoeshine and busking.

At the age of 16 he had his first serious run-in with the law when he was caught stealing a car, a crime that saw him spend three years inside. He would go on to be dogged by combinations of cars and cops, winding up inside again for an incident when he fired on police during a car chase. Other blots on his record included an unacceptable habit of spousal abuse, and signing up to Reagan's War on Drugs, a battle he appeared to fight undercover, behind (and doing) enemy lines.

On release from prison, he developed the musical act he'd been working on inside into a gospel revue. His big breakthrough came with 1956's Please Please Please, his first million seller - albeit one for which he was only paid $150. A combination of onstage flair and a determined attitude (it wasn't unusual for "the hardest working man in showbusiness" to turn in 350 gigs in a year) saw him build a steady fanbase and run up a string of hits.

While his temper, attitude towards women and willing embrace of hypocrisy can't be overlooked, it's equally impossible to take away his achievements both as a singer and a businessman. Having said that, the Grammy committee did do their best, never acknowledging Brown until he'd provided Living In America for one of the Rocky soundtracks. Papa's Got A New Bag not worthy of a Grammy; saccharine over-emotive flag-flying bollocks for a pumped-up B-movie is.

James Brown spawned anecdotes as fast as he spawned legal actions. His manager floated a rumour that Brown was planning a sexchange to be able to marry singer Bobby Byrd; he was well-known for fining band members who turned up late for rehearsals. In 1992, he was prematurely obituarised by a TV news broadcast. And, apparently, his eyebrows were tattooed on.

Brown is probably the definitive mess of contradictions: repeatedly in trouble with the law, but in 1968, Brown's Boston gig was given an unexpected live nationwide broadcast as an attempt to calm down the atmosphere following the murder of Martin Luther King. And for every run-in over unpaid tax bills, there was a charitable initiative or sponsorship of food stamps for the poor. A shrewd businessman (he owned radio stations and car dealerships) he also made some astonishingly poor decisions.

But most of all: he was the Godfather of Soul.

Brown beat prostate cancer in 2004; severe pneumonia finally took him at 1.45 on Christmas Day morning.

2006's other obituaries

Seal clubbing knife crime

You'd have thought that pictures of Seal would have been of such little interest - especially without his more-famous wife - that he'd find it difficult to excite a flicker of interest in a snap-happy kid with a Christmas camera who was already onto his second memory card.

It's something close to incredible, then, that photographers apparently started drawing knives in a bid to snatch a pap shot of him as he left the Vail ski slopes last week:

The trouble began when five photographers from one agency got in a heated argument with two others from a competing agency while trying to get a snapshot of singer Seal coming off the slopes, Aspen police said.

"There was a little chest-bumping shouting match between two reps," said Terry Leitch, an Aspen police officer. "One group got offended that the other group was trying to block the view intentionally."

Leitch said the altercation began as the photographers were leaving the Gondola Plaza in Aspen. By the time police were called, the paparazzi were exchanging verbal barbs near Ajax Bike and Ski.

Leitch said no punches were thrown, and the knife was only out for a few seconds. However, two members of the group with Ginsburg described the knife that police said they found on Del Palacio.

The Celebrity Babylon Web site posted a feature Tuesday of "Seal and Heidi Klum's clan enjoying a stroll in Aspen." The photos show shots of Seal, Klum and their kids walking around Aspen.

Good god... what if it had been someone famous skiing? Doubtless Britney shots would have seen the photographers going nuclear.

I coughed already... damn

More goodwill messages - let's hope James Brown has a speedy recovery: he's in hospital with "severe" pneumonia. His agent suggests he'll be up and around for a New Year's Eve date with Anderson Cooper.

Not that sort of a date, although who could blame someone for seeking out a carriage-ride with Mr. Coop?

Jingle bell (No) Rock

A twinkling, snow-spattered, light-bedecked merry Christmas to everywho happening by - with especial thanks to our regular readers, and those of you who provide tips and suggestions and feedback.

Even... since it is Christmas... to Robbie Williams.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Clinton robbed

Who'd have the guts to piss off George Clinton? Someone, apparently, decided to risk his wrath by lifting the camera he was using to film a video for Bounce2This. Complete with chunks of the video still in the device.

Police have a lead - the chummy managed to get himself caught on another, security, camera as he was lifting.

Taxi for Mr. Cocker

Another spot of festive gifting: the adventures of taxi driver Jarvis Cocker, in the Don't Let Him Waste Your Time video. Streaming, now from taxi rank to your heart.

Another fall of snow

As if having one band with Gary Lightbody in wasn't enough, now he's starting another one:

"It's called Listen Tanks. It's me and Jack Knife Lee. It's a strange, little, dark, country, folkish beast. It'll be out next year."

It'll be interesting for Gary to discover what it's like to not be able to find anyone to play a new band's music because they're all playing Chasing Cars on an endless loop.

Our Christmas wishes are starting to come true

Maybe there is Santa Claus after all: the total lack of interest in Paris Hilton's pop music has made it unlikely she'll be making any more records.

The idea is to let the music career slip away as unnoticed as her album was.

I I I I I I I can't find my baton

Do you ever find yourself wondering whatever happened to Lisa Stansfield?

Apparently, after Razzamataz she made some records. Now, though, she's taken on a new role as president of the Rochdale Youth Orchestra.

The old one was Sir Malcolm Arnold, who died, leaving a vacancy. Lisa hasn't actually said anything about her new role, but the orchestra have released (as in leaked) an email she sent:

"Just a quick note to say how thrilled I am to be asked to be the new president.

"As you probably know my schedule is often very unpredictable but I would love to attend as many concerts as I possibly can."

Nothing says "I'm delighted" like a quickly-written email making it clear not to epect too much.

A Christmas gift

The lovely people - and they are lovely - at Filthy Little Angels are inviting you to celebrate the festive season with a three CD free mp3 download smorgasbord featuring Jew On Jew Action, Hefner, Helen Love, Want Take Have and... well, loads more, obviously, otherwise it'd not fill three CDs, would it?