Saturday, March 31, 2007

String Cheese Incidents: Cops swoop on fans

Midway between "heavy-handedness" and "shooting fish in a barrel", police targetted two Vail dates on String Cheese Incident's farewell tour, swooping up about ten drug arrests each time.

The band have chosen to distance themselves from the fans on this one:

“The String Cheese Incident does not and never has condoned any kind of illegal behavior,” said Carrie Lombardi with Madison House Publicity in Boulder. The company handles publicity for String Cheese Incident.

“The band is not responsible for fans’ behavior,” she said. “They’ve been together for 15 years without much incident, and these things are the irresponsible behavior of the few that the media always pays attention to.”

So, that's fifteen year without "much incident" - she doesn't say if there's ever been much String Cheese. It would have been nice for the band to have said something that sounded a little less like a disappointed headmaster, especially since the media has generated a response like this, from the Daily Sentinel:
String Cheese Incident was formed in 1993 in Boulder. Described as a jam band, String Cheese Incident has been compared to the Grateful Dead, because both bands toured much of the time with fans who followed them. Drug use by fans during Grateful Dead concerts has been documented.

Nice - people say this band sound like a band whose fans used drugs, ergo, the targeting of their fans is a sane response. Rather than allowing their publicist to aid this sort of media froth, shouldn't the band offer something more of a stand?

What the RIAA have done for the world

The RIAA's heavy-handed legal activities - sending letters demanding large sums of cash under the threat of being taken to court, and having to pay much more - has been pulling in a nice pile of cash for the record labels. It almost looks so easy, it could be a scam.

Indeed, it is a scam - but at least the RIAA do have some sort of moral point they're trying to make, however wrong it may be, and however nastily they're going about it.

In their wake, however, there are now scammers using the same method purely to make some ill-gotten gains. P2P users get a legal-looking letter claiming they've downloaded an illegal copy of some game, an offer to settle out-of-court and a load of bumpf which seems to suggest they might have unwittingly done something wrong. People pay up.

After all, people who've never downloaded music pay up to the RIAA as it's the line of least resistance.

Well done, RIAA: You've created a whole new type of crime.

Fall Out Boy: Thanks for the money

It was spotted first by Dictionary Girl, a blogger on the Suicide Girls network (no, we really do only read it for the articles): Fall Out Boy's video for Thanks For The Memories is little more than a sold-out, soulless advertising hoarding. At least the opening caption has the good grace to mention the sponsorship tie-up with TAG (a can of spray with which young American boy virgins attempt to attract females, kind of akin to Lynx), but the repeated shots of Nokia brand mobile phones - that's Nokia - are either paid, undeclared endorsements, or else a startling coincidence. The pointless scene which makes much of a Ford Tahoe also reeks of being funded by a marketing department.

We live in a capitalist society, and advertising is everywhere. But when your video is made according to rules laid down by men in suits, and you're too busy pocketing the cash to even acknowledge that you've been bought, that makes you worse than Fay Weldon. At least she admitted how cheaply her art could be bought.

Eyes and ears

Talking of Conor Oberst, the young man with most eyelike eyes in the music industry is currently streaming his new album, Cassadaga, from the Saddle Creek records website. There's also a couple of free MP3 downloads, and if you get the right keystroke combination, video of a naked Conor Oberst, lashed to a waterwheel, being pawed at by a gang of scrawny androgynous young peoples.

We may have just dreamed one of those parts.

Wuss watch

From one set of awards to another... Cracked have totted up some sort of voting system to name the nine greatest wusses in rock today. In full:

Billy Corgan and James Iha
Chris Cornell
Belle And Sebastian
Conor Oberst
Sufjan Stevens
Brandon Flowers
Panic! At The Disco

We're not sure that including Belle & Sebastian is fair, really - they've always been sensitive and haven't ever pretended to be "raaaaaawwwk", whereas nailing Corgan and Flowers for thinking that not shaving for a couple of days is on a par with fighting, bare-knuckle, in the car park round the back of The Goat And Compass is a bit nearer the mark. But what sort of list is this, without a My Chemical Romance in sight?

We are the world

We really wish Radio 3 would come up with a better name for their world music awards than the World Music Awards, but they haven't. And probably won't. This year's winners have been announced:

Africa: Mahmoud Ahmed
Asia/Pacific: Debashish Bhattacharya
Americas: Gogol Bordello
Europe: Camille
Mid East & North America: Ghada Shbeir
Newcomer: K'Naan
Cross-cultural: Medioni & Rodriguez
Club Global Award: Gotan Project
Album of the Year: Ali Farka Toure - Savane

It's quite an honour to be the best album out of all the albums on the planet.

We can't help but wonder if Fonseca is feeling a little bit robbed at having missed out on the Americas prize to the Bordellos.

Stones cool on global warming

The Rolling Stones have denied they're going to be top of the bill at Al Gore's London global warming gig, as they'd have to cancel their Rome date to be there.

And The Stones never cancel tour dates. Unless, you know, one of them falls out a tree, or something. Or goes into rehab. Or if it makes fiscal sense to relocate an entire leg of the tour into a different tax year. Or if everyone will be at home watching one of those history-sized gigs like Live Aid on their telly that night.

Hang on... we might have a winner...

Stipe plans to park tanks on Bono's lawn

Okay, we know Sir Bono of Bono is 73% Dutch these days, but even so, it's curious that REM have picked Dublin Olympia ("in the shadow of the U2 tower, like everything else in Dublin") for a residency honing down material for the next album. They'll play every night between June 30th and July 5th, except for the 2nd.

Expanding fringe

T on The Park's Edinburgh festival spin-off T On The Fringe has announced that Johnny Borrell and the Razorlights will join the Foo Fighters and Kaiser Chiefs topping off nights in the capital this August.

Taking the Mika

They say revenge is a dish best served cold - but then they also say that you shouldn't take your vest off before the end of May and that would just make you stink. Mika, though, is up for a spot of revenge, having once been knocked back by Simon Cowell:

"I had a meeting with Simon a few years back. He said my songs weren't very good and I wasn't a songwriter.

"Then I spotted a gold disc for the Teletubbies single to the left of him and thought, 'This is possibly not the man for me'."

Some might say the bright, empty Teletubbies song isn't a million miles from Grace Kelly - and if we remember correctly, wasn't the official response to the huge "Is Tinky-Winky gay" story a refusal to even countenance talking about the Teletubbies' sexuality?

Diddy flees from wannabe Daddy

We always knew that Sean Combs was all puff and no balls. Does any man in 2007 really get so thrown by having a bloke hit on him that he runs away squealing?

Diddy lasted just ten minutes at London's Maddox club, before his shiny, shiny things and stylish clothes attracted another guy's eye:

One guest reveals: "This guy was quite drunk and he'd already made passes at one of the barmen. But when Diddy walked in, the guy made it his mission to try and get in there with him."

"The guy just went in for the kill, grabbing a vodka bottle off Diddy's table and lunging towards him. He looked like he was puckering up as he tried to grind against him - and Diddy wasn't amused. He couldn't flee the club fast enough."

It's not clear why Diddy flew away in such a panic - was it because he was enjoying it a little too much? Is he afraid you can catch gayness? Or was it simply that he was annoyed that he was considered second choice after his admirer had got a knock back from the hired help?

Still, at least the guy who tried it on has the excuse that he was very, very drunk indeed.

Ringo's house

Talk of the Beatles does remind me: I'd been hoping to hear from Flo Clucas, the Liverpool City Councillor who told us that Ringo Starr's old house had found a new home in 2006, and told the Liverpool Echo that the idea "remained a suggestion" in 2007. It seems a small enough anomaly, and I'd have thought there must be a simple explanation. I tried emailing Flo towards the back-end of February; no response. You'll recall our earlier correspondence took some time because she'd been to America and they'd moved the servers at Liverpool City Council, so after a month I prompted her again. Still nothing. We've tried for a third time this morning; let's hope she finds time to deal with this before the May elections.

Lennon: and the value of nothing

Despite his burbling on about imagining no possessions, John Lennon was quite fond of things. However, he wasn't afraid of helping other people imagine lives without things - for example, when he went round Hugh Hefner's house, he happily stubbed out a fag on a Matisse.

Hefner was forgiving:

“He was separated briefly from his wife YOKO ONO and was in a very bad mood.

“He was drinking a great deal. He misbehaved a little bit and a couple of my friends took exception to it.

“He put a cigarette out on a Matisse and one of my friends was going to kick his butt. But he’d been drinking.

“He was under tremendous pressure. And Lennon was one of my heroes.”

The lack of respect from one supposed artist towards another's work is interesting. It's not just Jesus who Lennon thought he was bigger than.

Hot shot boys: Tennant and Lowe cheat death, a bit

As if the story about the flaming meteor shards nearly hitting a plane wasn't enough to spark a whole revival of the Airport movie franchise, the sizzling space rock nearly took out official national pop heroes.

Yes, The Pet Shop Boys were on the plane. How did they cope with such a terrifying ordeal? Neil reveals all:

“We were blissfully unaware of it. We didn’t know anything had happened until the next morning when the waitress at breakfast said, ‘Are you glad to be alive?’

“Then we realised with horror what had happened. Our friends and families started calling us in a panic to find out if we were OK.”

Hats off to the graphics department at the Sun for managing to produce a fairly accurate illustration of the crisis:

Friday, March 30, 2007

Michael Jackson as healthy as ever

We've know you'll have been worried, but relax: Although Michael Jackson and some of his entourage had a spot of illness while they were in Europe, none of them had to go to hospital.

His spokesperson, the ever-open Raymone Bain, reassured us all:

"He was a little under the weather when he returned from Europe," said Ms Bain.

"He probably had a bad cold or the flu. But he was never hospitalised."

What would be the point? They never let him sleep in those Ronald McDonald houses any more, do they?

Stock markets - which hadn't reacted to news of Jackon's illness at all - remain unaffected by the possibility of Jacko having a head cold, although a broker from one of the main banks did say "it must be awful him having a cold - he must have to check the hanky really closely every time he blows his nose. Just to make sure, like."

Victim support: Kate Nash signs

The world, of course, splits into two camps of hugely unequal proportions when it comes to Kate Nash; we're on the love side, and, yes, we know that's quite a lonely place to be.

However, it seems Fiction are on this side, too, as Drowned In Sound are reporting that the anti-Allen has signed a deal with Universal sub-label Fiction Records. She's expected to spend the advance on cake and thrift shop dresses.

Sony BMG dumps the demo tape

Sony BMG have taken a bold leap into the future, telling any bands who want to get locked in to one of its contracts that, in future, it's digital or nothing from now. If you want someone in Sony's group of companies to hear your music, you now have to upload demos to one of an array of websites like It's because blogging is the future:

Blogging is clearly one of the major trends in music, media and entertainment," said Sony-BMG's UK and Ireland Music Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Ged Doherty.

"100,000 new blogs go online each day at the moment, and the blogosphere is doubling every 230 days so it makes complete sense for the major labels to use the process in a creative way to encourage, discover and communicate with new artists," he said.

They've discovered blogs! And use the word "blogosphere"! (Despite nobody having said that with a straight face since about 1975.)

Seriously, it's an interesting idea, but we're a little bit bemused by the execution - we imagine that Reuters is getting a bit over-excited saying this is the only way to get demos to Sony labels, but since it's clearly meant to be the main way, the number of hoops you have to leap through are puzzling. You have to sign up to create a blog via SixApart's Vox service, agreeing to a bunch of terms and conditions in the process. This, to offer to work with a label.

This is sort of akin to the A&R department previously having forced people to open a small market stall before they could pass a cassette over. Since bands are the raw material of record labels, you'd have thought they would be looking to reduce the hoops, rather than increase the number of them to jump through.

Travolta abandons the planet

John Travolta is worried about global warming. He does at least acknowledge that his five jets and private airport might make him an unlikely ecologist, but... he needs them:

"Everyone can do their bit. But I don't know if it's not too late already. We have to think about alternative methods of fuels.

I'm probably not the best candidate to ask about global warming because I fly jets.

I use them as a business tool though, as others do. I think it's part of this industry - otherwise I couldn't be here doing this and I wouldn't be here now."

We're not sure about movie stars - we're including Travolta on No Rock by virtue of his late 70s hits, not his acting - but if owning a fleet of planes and building an airport on your land was essential to being in the film industry, wouldn't there be a lot more planes in the air? Is the need for your own air force now so crucial the cry to difficult actors has become "you'll never eat a personalised in-flight meal 40,000 feet above this town again?"

Still, Travolta has got a proposal that will allow all the actors to have a flock of jets and the human race continue:
"I'm wondering if we need to think of other planets and dome cities."

Good thought, John - let's get the people of the South Pacific off to live on Jupiter before they drown, shall we? Let's take one of your special super space planess.

Es off his Bloc: Kele talks drugs

Well, that's Kele ruled out of leading the Tories any time soon - he's been honest about taking drugs. He's a big fan of E, apparently:

The drug I do enjoy taking is ecstasy, which gives a real sense of euphoria.

“It makes your senses so much more acute. It makes music sound so powerful. And it makes touch incredibly sensual. You know, every touch is orgasmic.”

He sings the praises of cocaine, too; although he acknowledges a downside:
"Cocaine can be very attractive, very seductive. But for me, it's bad news because that drug can really damage your voice."

Not to mention, of course, it spells misery and murder for Columbians, and turns nice, interesting people into obsessive bores, and obsesseive bores into advertising executives.

Lets hope, though, the Daily Mail isn't looking for a soft front-page outrage this Easter.

Not that Kele does drugs now, ohnonono:
"These days I don't even bother with pills that often. To be honest, I haven't taken anything for a whole year."

That's only a "youthful indiscretion" away from getting a marginal seat in the North West to fight, Kele.

Rancid business

Excuse us a minute, we're having trouble typing - we can't see the keyboard for tears, and our shaking shoulder aren't helping. But we can barely cope with the mirth whenever we think of Rancid's Tim Armstrong and his solo album.

Guess what he's called it.

No, not "Shit, these tattoos are going look ridiculous in ten years". Or "Puberty Postponed" or "How Come My Friends Have Wives & Children?"

Nope, he's called it A Poet's Life.

Most self-important album title, surely, since Listen Without Prejudice Volume One.

Flob at sting

While the concept of a man knocking fifty spitting a picture is one so devoid of dignity we're almost tempted to send him a telegram asking him who the prime minister is, few of us can honestly say, confronted by a portrait of Sting, we wouldn't consider spitting at it. Paul Weller, apparently, actually did.

Sugababes: Like the Lib Dems, only with better shoes

The 3AM Girls hail the Sugbabes this morning:

DRESSED in sexy space-age gear by Pinko and not afraid to make tough political points, Sugababes proved they still rock at The Point in Dublin on Tuesday.

Yes, surprisingly, they unveiled a song "Miliband Must Run", accompanying its debut with pictures of Gordon Brown with "fiscally incompetent" written on his forehead.

Oh, hang on... no, they didn't:
Stronger was accompanied by images of children they met on their Comic Relief trek to South Africa this year. A Make Poverty History advert was projected on the screens afterwards. Heidi told us: "That trip to Africa changed my life."

It's wrong for people to starve to death. Yes, that's a difficult political point.

Brut force

Art Brut are sharing, in mp3 format, five chunks from their second album, It's A Bit Complicated. It's a zip file from Downtown Recordings; normally we'd link to a page rather than direct to the file, but, to be honest, the Downtown Site is a nightmare - it arrives in the form of a bloated flash file, and starts playing Gnarls Barkley with a music player moving across the screen. It's like some sort of Space Invaders game trying to catch the off button to shut the bloody thing up.

Bono gets a gift

Last week, Bob Geldof fumed at European leaders for having the temerity to celebrate the EU's 50th birthday while there were problems in Africa. We wonder if he'll have similar harsh words for his showbiz mucker Bono, who quite happily accepted his honorary knighthood yesterday from the UK government, despite the UK's failure to do anything much that it was supposed to in Africa.

We're guessing not.

Bono was his typical self - trying to pretend to be both modest and a good sport, and failing to do either:

He said: "You have permission to call me anything you want except Sir." But he did suggest alternatives: "Lord of lords, your demi-godness," he joked.

It's funny because he was pretending he only thinks of himself as a demi god.

It's not in Bono's gift to withhold the title Sir from himself anyway - he's not entitled to it, not being British, not even for tax purposes.

Pandora opens box

Could it be that Scooch's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest is little more than a derivative, second generation copy of something else?

I believe the answer is "well, duh"; but now Erin Magnusson - who trades as Pandora in Sweden has claimed that Flying The Flag is, actually, her song No Regrets. She's calling for Scooch to be disqualified from the contest.

Per Herrey, legal adviser for the Swedish Musicians’ Union, told me: “Eurovision rules state they cannot use a song that has been released before and the melody of the chorus is the same as Pandora’s.”

Now, we're neither Swedish, nor a lawyer, but we can see a bit of difference between "a song that has been released before" and "a song which, to some ears, appears to have the same melody in the chorus".

Scooch, for their part, point out that they've never heard of Pandora, or heard her music before. However, we do understand they're learning the chorus to My Lovely Horse as a fallback.

Dermot chooses between money or friendship; money wins

Dermot O'Leary had said he wouldn't have accepted Kate Thornton's old job on the X Factor because Thornton was a mate, and you don't do that to mates. Then ITV offered him a two contract which The Sun reckons is worth a million, and suddenly he's on board.

Of course, it's not going to be a million quid, but it will be quite hefty. Let's hope this expensive hiring policy, coupled with the ridiculous sum of money it's paying for the FA Cup and the five million it paid to get shot of dreadful failure Charles Allen, and the millions they had to pay to tempt Michael Grade onto their downward spiral, doesn't leave ITV suddenly short of cash. Judging by some of the small fry advertising in Corrie breaks recently, it's not exactly a thriving channel right now.

Of course, Dermot might not last that long:

“I was very flattered to be offered the job of hosting such a hugely successful show.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Simon and the team on the kind of show I grew up watching.”

Dermot, I believe you're meant to pretend that the X-Factor is a brilliant new idea what was had by Cowell, and not merely the latest in a long line of Opportunity Knocks type shows.

It's more bad news for Channel 4, though: this takes Dermot away from Big Brother's Little Brother (and we can't help but wonder if the prospect of interviewing hapless crooners seemed slightly more attractive after a winter of having to helm light entertainment programmes suddenly coping with racist bullying from the likes of O'Meara, Goody and that woman with the professional breasts); Russell Brand has already bailed out of Big Mouth. There might be some wobbles at Endemol's office this morning.

Taboo: Where is the clutch?

Taboo, one of the other Black Eyed Peas, has been arrested and charged with drink-driving. Apparently, he was also accused of possessing blow and prescription medicine (only without a prescription). A court date hasn't been set.

Presumably he was trying to find a way to occupy himself while Fergie is busy elsewhere; or maybe he wanted to try and remind the world there are other Peas beyond her and Will I Am.

It's not known if he was actually drunk on Taboo when he was stopped.

Noel Gallagher: Here is the noose

We're indebted to the The Guardian's diary for capturing Noel from Oasis as he enters politics:

"I might stand for election myself, to be quite honest. I've worked this out. I reckon I could sort it out, the country, in a year and a half. I'd definitely bring back hanging, that's for starters. If you get convicted three times by three separate juries then you're going to the gallows, and if by any chance some evidence comes up that you may have been innocent and they can prove it beyond reasonable doubt then your next of kin gets £500,000. Vote for me."

Hang about... you have to prove your dead' relative's innocence beyond reasonable doubt, rather than the State... Noel announces he's pro-state killing at a charity do for people with terminal cancer... capital punishment... hanging... try and concentrate, Simon, this is serious... maybe electrocution might be cleaner... who would execute people, though... where... find... who?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Branch weeds out stalker

Michelle Branch has had her own stalker arrested, after spotting him at her gig:

`Wait a second. There's a guy in the audience — striped shirt and glasses — can somebody check him out?'

Dominick Giordano was breaching a restraining order by attending the gig. The police quickly made themselves involved:
"He's been to her last several shows, but it caught her completely off-guard that he was in Sheboygan," said Lt. Jeff Johnston of the Sheboygan Police.

It probably threw everyone off-guard that anybody was in Sheboygan, to be honest.

Donnas trickle back

>The Donnas - who are now floating free having "separated" from Atlantic just before Christmas - have given a hint of where they're heading by posting a new track on their MySpace site. Initial reaction seems to be veering between "sounds like Joan Jett" and "sounds like their other stuff", both options we're taking to be enthusiastic recommendations.

Gore: Global warming now homeless

Plans for the US leg of Live Earth have gone into into a bit of a spin as Mitch McConnell has raised an objection. McConnell has blocked plans to hold the event on the Capitol's grounds in Washington because he is a sore loser ("hasn't approved plans".)

It's a disappointment for Gore, although he's not going to have any trouble finding another venue for the event. It does, however, provide a timely reminder of why there's still work to be done on raising awareness of man-made climate change as being one of the biggest threats to our planet.

The Courier-Journal asked Mitch McConnell a direct question: does he believe the Earth is warming, and to what extent does he believe man is influencing the climate?

McConnell's answer was, well, vague:

"While there is not a consensus among scientists on climate change issues, I believe that we can find a common-sense approach to conservation that works to benefit all. The (Bush) administration has taken steps in the right direction by creating new initiatives and research programs that center specifically on reducing greenhouse gases, as well as improving conservation efforts."

(Scientifically, he's wrong anyway: there is a consensus amongst scientists on climate change issues.) reports that McConnell received half a million bucks from the energy & natural resources industry last year. It's also worth noting that the oil and gas industries gave over fifteen million dollars to the Republicans in 2006.

Spiderman III soundtrack: half super Spidey sense; half Peter Parker

Thank god for digital downloads and the unbundling of the album, which will make it easy to pick out the decent tracks being produced for the Spiderman III soundtrack (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flaming Lips) and leave the hackneyed and overblown (The Killers, Jet, Snow Bloody Patrol).

The album in full:
Snow Patrol - 'Signal Fire'
The Killers - 'Move Away'
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 'Sealings'
Wolfmother - 'Pleased to Meet You'
The Walkmen - 'Red River'
Black Mountain - 'Stay Free'
The Flaming Lips - 'Spiderman vs. Muhammad Ali'
Simon Dawes - 'Scared of Myself'
Chubby Checker - 'The Twist'
Rogue Wave - 'Sight Lines'
Coconut Records - 'Summer Day'
Jet - 'Falling Star'
Sounds Under Radio - 'Portrait of a Summer Thief'
Wasted Youth Orchestra - 'A Letter to St. Jude'
The Oohlas - 'Small Parts'

Chubby Checker's version of The Twist? Heaven help us all.

Tesco goes Swiss: Another pyrrhic victory for the record industry

The tax loophole which allowed Tesco (and Amazon) to undercut the prices of mail-order CDs by sending them from Jersey has been closed, mainly thanks to the lobbying of record retailers in the UK. Jersey sealed the hole to "protect the island's image", apparently.

The result?

Tesco have simply relocated their Jersey business to Switzerland, and will carry on as usual.

Kele: Oasis are stupid, overrated, and not even good at copying The Beatles

Kele Okereke has effectively patted Liam Gallagher on the head and said "quiet now, son" in response to Gallagher's suggestion that Bloc Party are "like a band off University Challenge."

To be fair, Kele's response would have been a bit sharper if he hadn't taken two years to respond, but even so, it's a lovely thing to behold - on a par with Homer Simpson's "I give you: your moron":

"Why is it bad to better yourself? It is really daft to reinforce the idea that there is something cool about being dumb."

Okereke responded by saying Oasis were "overrated", although he admitted the University Challenge comment was "quite funny".

"It probably would have been a lot more funny had he not used exactly the same words to describe Travis a couple of years ago," he added.

But it's in his destruction of Oasis's claims to be the heir to The Beatles that he really hits home:
"They claim to be inspired by the Beatles but, and this so saddens me, they have failed to grasp that the Beatles were about constant change and evolution," he said.

Of course. The message is: if you want to be the new Beatles, better make sure your band isn't led by a pair of Ringos.

Joss Stone rains on Amy Winehouse's parade

Amy Winehouse's modest record - a US chart album entry at number seven, the highest ever by a British solo female artist - has lasted only a week; Joss Stone's gone in at two this week.

Noel promises cracking start to mid-life crisis years

Elton John, you can't have failed to notice, has just turned 60 with some hoopla: seven parties, across eight continents, (one specially constructed for the event), hollywood stars, former Presidents, TV coverage. It was quite a scene. Somehow, Noel Gallagher seems convinced that his 40th birthday will challenge this event. Now, we can picture Noel's 40th: two of Ocean Colour Scene; a telegram from Paul Weller; three of the family fighting in the corner and the ghost of Meg Matthews looming over the Tescos Busty Boobs cake. This, says Noel, will be the party of the century:

“Fuck Elton John.

“My 40th birthday party is gonna be bigger and better than his — he hasn’t seen nothing. Mine’s gonna be the dog’s bollocks!”

Although there will be cheese and pineapple for the vegetarians... no, that can't be right... concentrate... on the party... balloons... pretty balloons...


On his interview with ten year-olds, part of the celebration of Channel Five's ten viewers ("years on air"), Gordon Brown reveals the truth about his love of the Arctic Monkeys.

Someone asked him "do you like the Arctic Monkeys?"; he said "they're so loud, at least they'd get you up in the morning"; which, by the time it arrived in the papers, was "Gordon Brown says he wakes up to the Arctic Monkeys."

So... Shed Seven, is it, Gordon?

How... surprising

So, how did the Sun explain its persistent and insistent claims that Mills would be kicked off Dancing With The Stars being totally wrong?

By pretending that it never said anything: it just reports that Heather is surprised:

HEATHER Mills is surprised by the positive reaction to her display on Dancing With The Stars.

Not, we presume, as surprised as anyone who relies on The Sun for their window onto the world.

The headline, by the way, is perhaps one of the most confused things we've seen in a while, all on its own:
Lady Mucca backed by fans

They give her a title, but then use the mocking nickname (albeit one which the paper's perseverance with just makes them look stupid) and then suggest the woman who they've spent six months claiming to be some sort of unloved pariah has "fans" enough to help her do well in a US-wide phone-in.

They're like the radio Oscars; or at least the radio BAFTA Craft awards

They stole Danny Baker's iPod during the course of the announcement of the nominees for this year's Sony Radio awards.

Amongst the highlights are Mark Radcliffe, Charles Hazlewood and Zane Lowe battling it out with, erm, Emma B's Heart Drivetime show for Music Programme of the Year; interestingly, Popworld Radio is up for the same prize - a podcast, if you please.

Radcliffe's new partner, Stuart Maconie, is up for specialist programme with 6Music's rather fine Freakzone - he's going eye to eye with Bobby Friction's Friction and Westwood (really? in 2007).

Our old mate Pete Price has got a nod for Radio City's phone-in (the "interactive award" now); Kershaw and Radcliffe are up against the slightly more glitzy Jonathan Ross and Chris Evans for the personality award. It's wonderful to see BBC London's coverage of the London tornado up for "breaking news coverage" - hopefully, if they win, Danny Baker will pick up the prize for his essential commentary on Sky News' desperate bids to turn a mild weather surprise into a national crisis ("a caller says they've seen a plastic bag blowing down the road...").

The nominations in full - click here to jump over



The Breakfast Show Award

Five Live Breakfast - BBC Radio News for Five Live

The Bush & Troy Show - GWR FM Bristol

The Jo & Twiggy Breakfast Show - 96 Trent FM

The Today Programme - BBC Radio News for Radio 4

Toolan in the Morning - Key 103 Manchester

The Music Programme Award

Discovering Music - BBC Radio 3 Manchester for Radio 3

Heart Drivetime with Emma B - London’s Heart 106.2

Popworld Radio - UBC Media for 4Radio

The Mark Radcliffe Show - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2

Zane Lowe - BBC Radio 1

The Specialist Music Programme Award

Friction - BBC Asian Network

Jazz House - BBC Radio Scotland

Music:Response with Clint Boon - XFM Manchester

The Freak Zone - BBC 6 Music

Westwood - Justice Entertainment for BBC Radio 1

The News & Current Affairs Programme Award

BBC Radio Suffolk Breakfast - BBC Radio Suffolk

Five Live Breakfast - BBC Radio News for Five Live

Real News at Five - Real Radio Yorkshire News Team
for Real Radio Yorkshire

The Today Programme - BBC Radio News for Radio 4

Weekend Business - BBC Business & Economics for Five Live

The Sports Programme Award

Five Live Sport - BBC Radio Sport for Five Live

Planet Speedway - BBC Radio Oxford

Sportsweek - Front Page Media for BBC Radio Five Live

SuperScoreboard (Live & Xtra) - Radio Clyde News for Clyde 1

The Pain of the Game - Inverness Conversation &
Communities Strand for BBC Radio Scotland

The Speech Programme Award

Front Row - BBC Radio Arts for Radio 4

PM - BBC Radio News for Radio 4

The Jeremy Vine Show - BBC Radio 2

The Reunion - Whistledown Productions for BBC Radio 4

Woman’s Hour - BBC General Factual for Radio 4

The Interactive Programme Award

PM - BBC Radio News for Radio 4

Scott Mills - BBC Radio 1

The Big Brum Breakfast with Elliott & Caroline - BRMB

The Pete Price Show - Radio City 96.7

Victoria Derbyshire - BBC Radio News for Five Live

The Entertainment Award

Bowie @ Breakfast - Radio Clyde for Clyde 1

Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston & Harriet Scott -
London’s Heart 106.2

The Chris Evans Show - BBC Radio 2

The Chris Moyles Show - BBC Radio 1

The Jo & Twiggy Breakfast Show - 96 Trent FM

The Music Broadcaster of the Year

Andi Durrant - Galaxy Network Programming & Distorted Productions for the Galaxy Network

Clint Boon - XFM Manchester

Colin Murray - BBC Radio 1

Jo Whiley - BBC Radio 1

Steve Lamacq - BBC 6 Music

The Music Radio Personality of the Year

Andy Kershaw - BBC Radio 3

Chris Evans - BBC Radio 2

Dominik Diamond - XFM Scotland

Jonathan Ross - BBC Radio 2 & Off The Kerb Productions
for Radio 2

Mark Radcliffe - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2

The News Journalist of the Year

John Humphrys - The Today Programme, BBC Radio News
for Radio 4

Key 103 & Magic 1152 News Team - Key 103 &
Magic 1152 Manchester

Mike Thomson - The Today Programme, BBC Radio News
for Radio 4

Peter Allen - BBC Radio News for Five Live

Shari Vahl - BBC Manchester for Radio 4

The Speech Broadcaster of the Year

Anna Raeburn - LBC 97.3fm

Eddie Nestor - BBC London 94.9

George Arney - World Service News & Current Affairs
for the World Service

John Humphrys - The Today Programme, BBC Radio News
for Radio 4

Vanessa Feltz - BBC London 94.9

The Station Programmer of the Year

Francis Currie - Heart Brand Programme Director
for the Heart Network

Ric Blaxill - Head of Programmes for BBC 6 Music

Richard Maddock - Programme Director for Radio City 96.7

The Drama Award

Breakfast with Mugabe - A Royal Shakespeare Company Production by Catherine Bailey Ltd for BBC Radio 3

In Search of Oldton - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

Lorilei - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4

The Cairo Trilogy - Goldhawk Essential Productions for Radio 4

True West - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 3

The Comedy Award

1966 And All That - BBC Radio Entertainment for Radio 4

Armando Iannucci’s Charm Offensive - Pozzitive Television
for BBC Radio 4

Giles Wemmbley Hogg Geht Zum FussballWeltmeisterschaft Weg! - Pozzitive Television for BBC Radio 4

North By North North - BBC Radio Scotland

Pleased To Meet You - BBC7 & BBC Radio Leeds for BBC7

The Feature Award

Chasing A Cure - Somethin’ Else for BBC Radio 4

Don’t Hang Up:Night Lines - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 4

Fighting To Be Normal - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 4

On The Road - BBC Northern Ireland for Radio Ulster

Radio Ballads 2006: The Song Of Steel - Smooth Operations
for BBC Radio 2

The Music Special Award

Malcolm McLaren’s Musical Map of London - Just Radio
for BBC Radio 2

Shostakovich: A Journey into Light - BBC Radio 3

The Beatles "Love" - Capital Gold
for the Capital Gold UK Radio Network

The Invisible Man: The Rod Temperton Story (Part One) -
Wise Buddah Creative for BBC Radio 2

The Poet, The Rocker: The Phil Lynott Story -
Wise Buddah Creative for BBC Radio 2

The News Feature Award

Aberfan: Forty Years On - Real Radio Wales News Team
for Real Radio Wales

Assignment: Cheaper Than The Ground -
BBC News & Current Affairs for the World Service

Coming Home - Unique the production company for BBC Radio 1

Letters from Guantanamo Bay - Whistledown Productions
for BBC Radio 4

Love, ‘Honour’ and Obey - BBC Birmingham for the Asian Network

The Breaking News Award

Terror Alert - The Today Programme, BBC Radio News for Radio 4

Test Match Collapse - BBC Radio News for Five Live Sports Extra

The London Tornado - BBC London 94.9

The London Tornado - LBC Newsroom for LBC News 1152am

War In Lebanon - World Service News & Current Affairs
for the World Service

The Live Event Coverage Award

Notting Hill Carnival - Kiss 100

The Alan Shearer Testimonial - Magic 1152 Sport for Magic 1152

The Day That Changed The World - General News Service Special Report BBC Radio News for the Nations & Regions

The Manchester Bomb: Ten Years On - BBC Radio Manchester

The Queen’s 80th Birthday - Andrew Peach Special
for BBC Radio Berkshire

The Community Award

Bare All 06: Safer Sex Campaign - Radio 1 & 1Xtra for the BBC

Phones for Paul’s Place - BBC Radio Bristol

Radio Ballads 2006: 30 Years Of Conflict - Smooth Operations
for BBC Radio 2

Sea Sense - BBC Radio Cornwall

The Plot - BBC Radio Berkshire

The Promo Award

Brunel 200 - BBC Radio Bristol

Kerrang! Radio Valentines - Kerrang! Radio

Real Radio Renegade - Real Radio Group Imaging
for Real Radio Yorkshire, Wales & Scotland

The Ashes - Five Live Promotions for Five Live Sports Extra

The World Cup 2006 - 2 -Ten FM

The Competition Award

Hairy Fairy - Pirate fm

Live In It To Win It - Metro Radio

Manhunt - Galaxy Programming for the Galaxy Network

The BH Jam Spoon from the Broadcasting House Programme -
BBC Radio News for Radio 4

Who’s Calling Christian? - Virgin Radio

The Station Imaging Award

96.3 Radio Aire

Choice FM

Classic FM

Planet Rock


The Internet Programme Award

Baddiel & Skinner’s World Cup Podcast - Avalon Television &
Times Online for Times Online &

Firin’ Squad Unsigned Podcast - Wise Buddah Talent

My Streets: A Rudeboy’s Guide to Peckham - All Out Productions
for 4Radio

The Game with Danny Kelly Podcast - Times Online

The Insight Show - VIPonAIR & RNIB for

Station Of the Year:
with a potential audience of under 300,000

Isle Of Wight Radio

Moray Firth Radio

Silk FM

Station Of the Year:
with a potential audience of 300,000 -1 million

BBC Hereford & Worcester

BBC Radio Derby

Lincs FM 102.2

Station Of The Year:
with a potential audience of 1 million plus

BBC Radio Ulster

Kerrang! Radio

Radio City 96.7

Digital Terrestrial Station Of The Year

BBC Asian Network

FUN Radio

Gaydar Radio

UK Station of the Year

BBC Radio 1

BBC Radio 2

Classic FM

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Skinny singer, latte to go

You'd have thought that Thom Yorke, one of the most anti-corporate musicians, would have been the last person to be in the frame for a deal with Starbucks record label. But then, these are complicated times - is it better to be on EMI, a business which is part of the cartel crushing creativity in the music industry, or Starbucks, a business which is chasing independent cafes and coffee shops out of business and turning every bloody street in the developed world into an exact copy of the next street?

After all, Naomi Klein - whose No Logo inspired them in the first place - has said that she enjoys a Starbucks coffee from time to time. It's all very confusing.

Knight out

Suge Knight's ongoing legal battles with Rap-A-Lot records over some dreadful 2Pac posthumous release have now seen him thrown out of his own home.

For all the world like something out one of those turn-of-the-century novels set in Liverpool that they sell in the Post Office, Knights stuff was dumped out the front door his apartment while the locks were changed.

It can't be confirmed that he's planning to spend the night in a Linton Travel Tavern.

Art imitates... art?

Tribute albums to bands aren't unusual any more - indeed, for a couple of decades it's been hard to flip more than two CDs past the Various Artists divider without turning up "Portsmouth by Portsmouth: South Western Bands sing the music of Mike Oldfield" or "The Men In Black Eyeliner: Goth tribute to Johnny Cash." But, we would suggest, the forthcoming tribute album to Frozen Gold is a first, what with Frozen Gold never having made a record, much less a sound.

Frozen Gold were the band in Iain Banks' Espedair Street; as such, Banks is now having to create some music for the real bands to record.

Round-up: Brett Anderson's solo debut

On Monday, Brett Anderson popped up on Gideon Coe's 6Music show to offer up a couple of tracks from his new solo album. Coe asked him about the wall of male voices on the record, prompting Anderson to reveal it was all him and multi-tracking, but allowing that it did sound like he had a backing band:

"A team of homosexual monks, or something."

We've always assumed that, since nuns are officially "brides of Christ" that that must imply that monks have some similar exclusive relationship to Jesus, but we're not going to start opening a theoretical can of ecclesiastical worms with that one.

So, how has the world been reacting this bunch of secular singing monks?

The Telegraph takes the opportunity to ponder how Anderson managed to have his face dropped from Britpop's metaphorical Mount Rushmore:
It seems strange then that, while Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker and the Gallagher brothers are all being bestowed with reverential status, Brett Anderson has become the lost boy of Britpop.

[Anderson says] "I don't think people like me. I've been making records for 15 years, and I still read personal, vitriolic things written about me. It's as if I accidentally created some alter-ego that isn't the real me, and people really react against it."

As if to remind people of Brett's central role in the birth of what eventually became Britpop, BBC News lobs up that cover of the then-controversial Select which told the "yanks to go home."

Elsewhere on the BBC's website - apparently the spineless Trust haven't yet closed down in a panic in case it harms sales of Reader's Digest - BBC Music considers the album, and finds it weeping:
So personal troubles may have been replaced with reflection but this signals an evolution in Brett Anderson…deliberate or natural. It may be too doleful for some, missing his former edge, and energy and some fans may be alienated by the change in direction.

Lost his edge? Pitchfork think he's lost something more upsetting: tells me its natural for men to experience a drastic decline in their sex drive as a consequence of aging. This is basically also what Brett Anderson tells me with the release of his first solo record. Granted, in the pantheon of Britpop-era sex gods (there's a scary visual), Anderson seemed the most impotent of the bunch; witness his now-famous quip about being a bisexual who'd never had a homosexual experience. Nonetheless, there was a time where Anderson's sexuality was his main currency, and it was powerful enough-- even in its messiness-- to provide the charge for two, maybe even three, great albums.

In The News' review suggests they're also experiencing drive difficulties:
[OracleException: ORA-00904: "nsumerNewsCodeStructure_Codes4"."Parent": invalid identifier]
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleException.HandleErrorHelper(Int32 errCode, OracleConnection conn, IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx* pOpoSqlValCtx, Object src, String procedure) +1000
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleException.HandleError(Int32 errCode, OracleConnection conn, String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx* pOpoSqlValCtx, Object src) +21
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleCommand.ExecuteReader(Boolean requery, Boolean fillRequest, CommandBehavior behavior) +3112
Oracle.DataAccess.Client.OracleCommand.System.Data.IDbCommand.ExecuteReader(CommandBehavior behavior) +42

It's easy to fling "IntPtr opsErrCtx, OpoSqlValCtx*" at Anderson, but how come the Gallaghers can get away with "String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx" after "String procedure, IntPtr opsErrCtx" and still get treated at the Brits like they're relevant?

The Manchester Evening News suggest that rather than being a new direction, this is little more than rehab-strength Suede:
The man himself won't approve of this comparison, but many of these tracks sound like off cuts from a Suede album. Imagine the band ditching the drugs and booze for a few early nights and some Horlicks-this is the general feel of Brett, the album. But this man's relaxed tunes are better than many other artists' full on hyped-up emptiness.

We're trying to imagine what something full of emptiness would look like. It's straining our heads a little, to be frank.

To help us, the Scotsman deploys former Suede fan Fiona Sheppard to suggest that empty fullness would be, well, a lot like Brett:
It would be very satisfying to see Brett Anderson find a post-Britpop niche in the way that his old nemesis, Damon Albarn, the Blur frontman, has, but it's sounding highly unlikely with this squandered opportunity to go on. Surely a first solo offering from someone with as eventful a life to draw on could have produced a more atmospheric, confessional, comedown album rather than this insipid, say-nothing affair.

The Times' John Mulvey hopes a bad review will, at least, give Brett something to mope on for his sophomore album:
Windy, sentimental ballads predominate. Dust and Rain revisits the shop-soiled glam and drug analogies of peak-period Suede, but Anderson seems too weary to carry them off with any style or conviction.[...]

Ironically, it is Damon Albarn, Anderson’s oldest rival, whose eclecticism now marks him out as this generation’s Bowie. Anderson, meanwhile, must take solace where he can — at least another bad review gives him something new to be despondent about.

The Guardian (a newspaper, of course, that we like to read) catches the prevailing reaction and summarises it perfectly:
There's a fair bit of self-indulgence here, but the former Suede leader has a way with these things, and the result is generally listenable.

In other words: he does this sort of thing all the time, but at least he does do it well.

The response, then, seems to be a little lukewarm, but certainly isn't as bad as some of the reviews Anderson has had since England took against him. Channel News Asia's Today asked him how he copes with so much negative commentary:
"What these people have to think about is: When they die, what kind of beautiful things will they have left in this world?" Anderson said. "I'm no Mother Theresa, but when I make music, I do try to make the world a better place."

Back when Suede were the best new band in Britain, apparently, the national papers used to hang around outside the old offices of the Evening Argus hoping to get hold of pictures of Brett dressed as a soldier in a school production when he was six. It's to his old local paper that has landed the best interview of the current press round so far. Now, foolishly, answering to The Argus, the paper gets a gruff admission from Anderson that the Suede-era man so many reviewers detect in the solo artist never really existed in the first place:
"He was, he now admits, "Carefully, but subconsciously, trying to construct an image.

But don't let anyone in a band fool you into thinking that they don't. Nirvana are supposed to be the anti-image band but that was their image. It's about creating the myth."

The only trouble with building your own myth, as Anderson is now discovering, is it's hard as hell to live up to. The new record is pretty damn good - certainly better than anything Oasis have done in years, arguably more interesting than Good, The Bad and The Queen - but how can Anderson ever hope to outperform the ambisexual hipgod who crashed in with the Drowners?

Decide for yourself: Buy the album

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Consumerist tells how a customer turns into a pirate when faced by DRM hurdles:

I called Rhino customer support and after an 8 minute wait spoke with a representative. She informed me that the files were indeed copy protected so that I could only play them on specific music players, most notably not iTunes.

"You don't understand," I said, "These files were not copied or pirated, I actually purchased them."

"Well" she responded, "You didn't actually purchase the files, you really purchased a license to listen to the music, and the license is very specific about how they can be played or listened to."

Now I was baffled. "Records never came with any such restrictions," I said.

She replied, "Well they were supposed to, but we weren't able to enforce those licenses back then, and now we can"

The Register's Steve Gordon suggests artists can make money out of MySpace - but only if they Do It Yourself:
Tain only needs to sell 1,200 full albums at $12 a download (or 1,500 at $9.99) to recoup his production costs. Additional sales represent pure profit. The labels have been widely vilified for giving us generic boy bands and teenage girls who can hardly sing. For her part, Tina Tequlia does not exactly look to be the next Miles Davis. So perhaps the internet, similar to the majors, will service the lowest common denominator, at least in terms of artists who achieve commercial success.

Magnaphone catches up with Lydia Lunch:
I have never been one to work with a safety net and if you are going to go out and spontaneously combust in front of the audience you will either come up with the best fucking thing anyone has ever heard or the worst fucking piece of shit anyone including yourself has ever been subject to. To me its another notch in my fearlessness and it opened the door for me to do much more illustrated word in a very spontaneous way.

Mike Scott tells Guardian Film & Music why you can't be an expert in your own life on Wikipedia:
Then a box appeared telling me someone else was editing the material simultaneously. I checked my changes and found, to my dismay, they were being unedited as I sat there. Some goblin of the web, some fiend, was undoing my correcting of my own story.

Lisa Gerrard talks to the Courier & Mail about the Dead Can Dance reunion:
A lot of people cried. There were more people crying that weren't. I felt it was because, if you think of a tomato with really, really thin skin and it's ready to burst, that's how I felt that people were feeling -- that they'd had enough and that they feel powerless to protect those other individuals that are further afield, that safety is compromised so that we can live a certain lifestyle."

Mary Weiland: I muddled my meds and spoiled some suits

Mary Weiland has issued a statement blaming bipolar disorder and a botched medication for the recent hotel-and-suit damaging incidents:

With regards to this past weekend's events, it's important to my husband and I that the reports regarding domestic violence, as well as our children's safety, contain facts and not speculation.

"The weekend's difficulties were brought on by a reaction to an imbalance in medications used to treat my bipolar disorder. Reports that we were fighting at the Graciela Hotel are untrue. Scott was simply trying to help calm me down. I want to make it very clear that he did not hurt me in any way. For lack of a better expression, I was unstable and just 'lost it.'

"Payment for the damages to the Graciela Hotel has already been made. The gracious staff and management have accepted our apologies and welcome us back in the future.

"Most importantly, neither of our children were witness to any of these events and they have been in the care of a family member. Scott and I are very involved in our children's lives on a daily basis and we love them unconditionally. We appreciate all your concerns and how supportive people have been.

"After nearly seven years of marriage I am truly grateful to have a loving husband, drug-free for 3-1/2 years now, who is able to care for me during this challenging time.

"We ask that you refer to this statement for the facts and depend on no other source."

Presumably, amongst the "other sources" we're meant to ignore would be, erm, her husband's own website, where he suggested - as Blabbermouth points out - that the kids did see rather more than none of the events:
"My wife locked herself in the adjoining room when that damage was done. I want to make it clear that I called security when I heard the glass being broken from next door. Security was unable to enter until she let them in. I sent my children off to a safe place with my assistant (who witnessed all of the events of the evening, until my wife locked herself in the room), and I left the hotel in order to avoid conflict with my wife."

Mumba drags Goldsmith down

Can anyone think of the problem in building a programme around a slightly charmless man known, if at all, for being backstage, and a bunch of celebrities who the public have tired off? Backstage bloke... dumper fodder... anyone?

Harvey Goldsmith's attempts to restart Samantha Mumba's career managed to dump Channel 4 into last place out of the five main networks with just four per cent of the audience.

Maybe they can get Sir John Harvey-Jones in to try and resurrect Goldsmith's fledgling enterprise.

The last temptation of Jack White

Jack White may or may not be playing Elvis Presley in a Jake Kasdan movie, Walk Hard. White's publicist, though, is a bit vague about it:

[They] confirmed that Jack "did take part in this movie", but would not elaborate as to whether or not he actually plays Elvis.

Perhaps the vagueness is understandable - of course, Jack White has been bought up by the Coca-Cola company, while Pepsi is the official drink of Elvis Presley.

The official soft drink of Graceland, by the way, has been approved by the Presley "Licensing Division":
"Charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the integrity of Elvis Presley and other related properties."

And nothing says integrity like selling your illustrious corpse to a soft-drink company.

Dancing with the... ahs.

The Sun was delighted when Heather Mills took a job on Dancing With The Stars. The public, Emily Smith and Emily Cox were certain, were preparing to give her a bloody nose:

HEATHER Mills is favourite to get booted off US show Dancing with the Stars BEFORE she has even performed — because she is so hated.

Sir Paul McCartney’s estranged wife was hoping to win new fans by appearing on the US version of Strictly Come Dancing.

But Mills is ODDS ON at 5-6 to be the first to go and is the 50-1 rank outsider to win, according to Ladbrokes.

A spokesman said: “Regardless of how well Heather can dance, she’s public enemy number one.”

Blimey, that's definitive.

That was March 14th; a week later, Victoria Newton joined in, readying her knitting as she waited for the tumbrils:
America says: Get lost, Mucca

AMERICAN viewers have told HEATHER MILLS to Foxtrot Oscar after her first appearance on a celebrity ballroom TV show.

Heather agreed to appear on Dancing With The Stars in a bid to win over the US public after becoming one of Britain’s most hated women following her split from SIR PAUL McCARTNEY.

But the plan has backfired already.

While viewers of the US version of Strictly Come Dancing have not yet had the chance to kick her off the show — the first elimination is next week — they have been letting rip with a barrage of scathing comments.

And now there's been a public vote, by now Mills must have been dumped out on the street round the back of the ABC studios, right?

Erm... not exactly. E! Online reports:
Paulina Porizkova became the first contestant voted off Dancing With the Stars on Tuesday night's results show, taking partner and season one winner Alec Mazo with her.

Doubtless The Sun will be first with this news tomorrow.

RIAA crumble in the face of "no"

The weakness of the RIAA's cases against alleged filesharers has been demonstrated again; this time when an attorney issued a counter-challenge. Seniors Barry and Cathy Merchant were accused of cramming the internet full of gangsa rap, and invited by the RIAA to reach an out-of-court settlement or face the consequences. Instead, they retained Merl Ledford, who wrote back to the RIAA, pointing out that they probably didn't have any evidence, and that their attempts to get money out of the Merchants left the RIAA and their lawyers open to legal action:

Your office has a duty of good faith independent factual investigation and legal research sufficient to support a finding of probable cause to sue.

In Williams v. Coombs (1986) 179 Cal. App. 3d 626, the California Court of Appeal held that attorneys who participate in the filing or maintenance of litigation without probable cause are personally liable for malicious prosecution of a civil action.

Ledford then points out that, effectively, the RIAA's lawyers are no better than cold-calling salespeople:
I know of no facts on which a good faith finding of probable cause by either your clients or your law firm could be based to support a claim for relief against Mr. Merchant.

It is well documented that your clients' reliance on MediaSecurity (an admitted "non-expert;" UMG v. Lidor, East Dist NY No. 1:05-cv-01095-DGT-RML) and its overall method of identifying P2P copyright infringers is wholly unreliable and inadequate. See, e.g., February 23, 2007, deposition of the RIAA's expert. See also expert witness statement of Prof. Pouwelse and Dr. Sips: filename=foundation_upcnederland_witnessdeclaration and amicus curiae brief of the ACLU, Public Citizen, Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Association of Law Libraries, and ACLU Foundation of Oklahoma, in Capitol v. Foster decrying the RIAA's "driftnet" litigation strategy:

Such facts were known or reasonably should have been known to you and your law firm before suit against Mr. Merchant was filed. Thus, unless you and your office undertook additional independent investigation to identify Mr. Merchant as a person who actually has engaged in copyright infringement by illegal downloading, good faith basis for a Rule 11-compliant probable cause finding consistent with the Williams line of cases cited above simply did not exist to file the action. . . and does not exist now for it to be maintained.

Your clients apparently argue that Mr. Merchant's failure to respond to "settlement" demands justifies their lawsuit without other basis on which a finding of probable cause to sue could be claimed. You devoted the bulk of your letter advocating that position. As you know, however, that posture is repugnant to both Rule 408, Fed.Rul.Evid. and California Evidence Code §§ 1152 and 1154.

The Evidence Code sections are quite clear: settlement negotiations of all kinds may not be used to prove the validity of any claim or defense. Mr. Merchant has and had no more duty to respond to attempts to "sell" him one of your clients' boilerplate, non-negotiable $3750 settlements than he has to return cold calls from pushy life insurance salespeople. If your client (and your law firm?) are seeking probable cause shelter in a settlement negotiations house of straw (as suggested by your March 23 letter), all of you should consider the prevailing winds of the Evidence Code before making yourselves too comfortable. Straw will burn.

And then he suggests that the RIAA open its eyes to the way that identity on the web is easily spoofed:
Your client take the position that my middle-aged, conservative clients should speculate regarding the identity of persons your clients' claim used their AOL account to download pornographic-lyric gangsta rap tracks as predicate to possible case resolution. In an age of Wintel-virus created bot-farms, spoofs, and easily cracked WEP encrypted wireless home networks (among other easy hacks), the only tech-savvy response to such a request is, "You've got to be kidding." The extensive press that has been generated over computer security (and the insecurity of Windows XP and its predecessors) underscores the complete absence of facts on which probable cause to sue my clients could be established and your clients' willingness (even insistence) that others be implicated in Big Music's speculative, "driftnet" litigation tactics. Sorry: Mr. Merchant cannot and will not expose himself to still more litigation by speculating.

The letter rounded off by offering to let the matter drop if the RIAA & lawyers apologise and settle the Merchant's costs in responding to the matter.

The RIAA has, perhaps unsurprisingly, dropped its case.

They effectively admit they had no evidence and that they were demanding money with menaces. Isn't it time the US authorities started to look into this nice little earner?

More Jam tomorrow

The success of the not-quite-Jam in selling out their you-can't-call-it-a-comeback tour has led to the booking of a larger tour (in terms of venues) for November & December:

Saturday November 24 Plymouth Pavilions
Sunday November 25 Cardiff St Davids Hall
Monday November 26 Grimsby Auditorium
Tuesday November 27 Liverpool Carling Academy
Thursday November 29 Glenrothes Rothes Halls
Friday November 30 Preston 53 Degrees
Saturday December 1 Leicester De Montfort Hall
Monday December 3 Leeds Met Students Union
Tuesday December 4 Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday December Manchester Academy
Saturday December 8 Sheffield Octagon
Sunday December 9 Bristol Carling Academy
Tuesday December 11 Southampton Guildhall
Wednesday December 12 Norwich UEA
Friday December 14 Newcastle Carling Academy
Saturday December 15 Glasgow Carling Academy
Sunday December 16 Cambridge Corn Exchange
Tuesday December 18 Birmingham Carling Academy
Wednesday December 19 London Kentish Town Forum
Friday December 21 Brighton Centre

The astute amongst you will notice that this tour ends at the Brighton Centre, where the actual Jam ended their last tour. Irony unbounded, eh?

Noel ain't too proud to beg

James McCabe drops us an email, alerting to us to Noel Gallagher's dignity-free attempt to muscle-in on the Glasto bill. The man's always been one of those people who think that the world will welcome them if they turn up, unannounced, with their guitar. Now, it's starting to get Messianistic:

"Playing the acoustic stuff at the festivals, that would be good. "Actually, Glastonbury acoustic tent sounds nice! That would be good. Yeah, do us a favour stick that in and Mr Eavis will give me a call!"

"Saying that he'd probably put me on at the same time as Arctic Monkeys," mused Gallagher. "The best slot is second on the bill on the Other Stage. I've never had that slot at Glastonbury, but we've done it at foreign festivals and it's great."

Now, this deserves some serious thought. Noel... at Glastonbury. Muddy shoes. Lots of mud. Runny, sloppy mud... like chocolate pudding. Lemur hungry! Lemur want chocolate!

Manson tries to get a little Girls Gone Wild action

You wouldn't want to accuse Marilyn Manson of having one idea and beating it until it bled. Not, at least, until there's some evidence of him having an idea.

His new video shoot involved a call to the Suicide Girls to stack the scene with the mainstream's idea of what fairly attractive alternative women look like. And Manson knows how he's going to pay for it, too:

There was a shirts-optional policy on set as the main cut of the video will be released on DVD.

Manson's decline from self-appointed god of headfuck to grubby old man seems to coming on nicely, doesn't it? He's the Benny Hill of K-Mart Goth.

Mest singer "won't be charged"

After a lot of coverage which - to a greater or lesser extent suggested he was guilty of murder - Anthony Lovato of Mest is not being charged in connection with the death of another man:

There was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was not a justified use of force in self-defense," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's office spokeswoman.

Not, perhaps, the most generous clearing of a person's name in American legal history, but enough to keep Lovato on the "until proven guilty" side of the law.

Saves The Day cuts the wages bill

Pete Parada has, apparently, decided to stop hanging out with Saves The Day. You'll want to see the statement, of course:

After four and a half years with Saves The Day, it saddens me to report that I have decided to leave the band. I wish them all the best of luck and look forward to starting fresh with a new band. Anyone who is interested can check out my new myspace page at

It can't sadden him that much, can it? Unless he's been kicked out or something. Still, we must all be strong right now. All be strong.

Mel C pushes Spice Girl reunion back further

The 3AM Girls have decided that Mel C is being "nasty" in tonight's Orange Playlist (who knew that was still going?) on ITV (who knew that was still going?), but it's more... oh, what's the word? Honest, isn't it:

"It irritates me that people write biographies now, when they're in their twenties. It's just pound signs, isn't it?"

Although, to be fair to Halliwell, it was always clear that she wasn't going to do anything of interest with the next fifty years, so she might as well do it while she can still sign off the ghost-writing.

Chisholm also thinks that her own solo work has harmed by being framed in the context of "spice girl solo stuff":
"Geri released an album, which didn't do well at all, as did Mel B. And so you just get tarred with the same brush and then you become a bit of a failure as well.

"But I have made the best records. And I'm not joking when I say that."

To be honest, Mel, "better than Schizophonic or that one Victoria did with the crows in the video" isn't really much of a boast.

Noel: More charitable than Liam

Noel Gallagher has been indulging in his favourite hobby, slagging off his brother for not joining him at this week's teenage cancer gig:

“Unfortunately Liam isn’t here tonight.

“I don’t know why. I asked him and when he replied all I heard was fuck and charity in the same sentence.”

Noel's also been talking about the next Gallagher baby - claiming he's going to "pay" to have it born early (eh?) so it won't share a star sign with Liam.

Astrology, Noel? Astrology?

And then... come on, try and concentrate... he said:
“I’m looking forward to seeing a direct cross between me and my missus because she is gorgeous and I’m a genius — God help ya.”

But... but what if the baby has her... no, what if it has your brains and your face... no, what I mean is pretty... flowers... baby... nice... flowers...

P Diddy refrains from hurling missiles at John Reid

The sudden cancellation of the Snoop-Diddy tour isn't without consequences, of course: disappointment on fans who'd been persuaded to buy tickets before the gigs had completed their paperwork; and P Diddy being almost statesmanlike in the face of getting a few extra days off:

"Once his work permit was granted, everybody felt comfortable to go ahead and put the concert up," he said.

"It wasn't like this was the first time we were in discussions with the Home Office.

"You know there were discussions prior to this - they led us to believe that everything would be approved."

Nobody sat down and thought "what with Snoop having left under something of a cloud last time, we better not move until we've got everything sorted out with the visa", then?
"I know that Snoop is a great guy, a positive guy, and I'm not throwing any stones at the Home Office or at the government."

Probably just as well, Diddy. That sort of thing goes down quite badly. Oh, you were being metaphorical.
"Everybody has their own laws and their own rules in their own countries, and, you know, we're going to respect them."

...just in case you thought they were planning to land somewhere on the Welsh coast, sneak into the country and play a defiant tour of the UK.

Bassey on Sunday

Michael Eavis has confirmed that Shirley Bassey is to take the living legend slot at this year's Glastonbury. Start the letter-writing begging her to do Get This Party Started now, I think.

The Waterboys and Damien Rice have signed on for bill-topping in the acoustic tent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sarah Harding: It's just pants

Sarah Harding has stripped down to her underwear to help flog bras and pants for Ultimo, reports the Daily Mail, barely able to contain itself:

Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding showed off her curves today in a new campaign for Ultimo lingerie.

The blonde singer posed in black and white underwear from the brand's spring-summer collection.

The Mail is clearly happy to see a singer in a band with a large following amongst kids dancing about in her scanties - even printing the pictures in a family newspaper.

Oddly, though, the Mail is outraged that Angellica Bell has appeared in her scanties for FHM, and that the BBC hasn't "disciplined" her. (It's not clear what the paper has in mind - we're assuming they're thinking of a scarlet letter.)

So, apparently, it's okay for a young girl's role model to be photgraphed in her underwear, providing that they aren't employed by the BBC. Hope that's clear, then.

Declining shock value united

With middle America now well aware that they're both about as threatening as the proverbial chocolate Hob-Nob, Marilyn Manson and Slayer are trying one last gasp to scare the pants out of everybody: they're uniting for a joint tour of the US.

It's not even Alien Versus Predator, is it? It's more like Abbott And Costello meet... well, Abbott and Costello, to be honest.

Helping out Dennis

Also in need of some help: Dennis Yost, singer with 60s US hit act Classics IV. Yost suffered serious injuries last summer when he fell down concrete stairs and hit his head; with mounting debts and nursing home bills, some of his contemporaries visited Cincinnati to take part in a benefit gig at the weekend.

Various Moody Blues, Three Dog Night, the Bay City Rollers and others pitched up to help pitch in; indeed, the bill swelled so much that the gig lasted twelve hours. Yost was guest of honour at the event; although not well enough to be interviewed, he managed to tap his feet along with the music. And down the odd beer.

One day you'll be older, too

Help the aged, instructed Jarvis Cocker, and while we usually take the piss out of Simon Webbe, we were pleased to see him following Jarvo's advice and taking time to visit a care home in East Anglia. Especially since nobody does pomposity-puncturing quotage like older people:

Resident Betty Totham said: “I hadn't heard of him before as I don't go in for these pop stars. But he was very nice and posed for a photograph with me. It was a really nice surprise.”

Although how much of surprise is debatable - if you don't know who he is and don't care for popstars, isn't a visit by a bloke who used to be in Blue effectively no different from having a chat with the windowcleaner?

RIAA reluctant to reveal costs of legal action

Capitol Records have asked the judge in their case against Debbie Foster to keep details of how much they're paying their legal team secret.

Obviously, the RIAA doesn't want people to be able to start putting a figure on the lawsuits they're pursuing, but it's still surprising to see a company like EMI trying to keep such details out the public domain. For example, wouldn't EMI's beleaguered shareholders be interested to know how much the company is burning through on stunts like this at a time when basic earnings per share have fallen from nearly 30pence to just over 10pence between 2004 and 2006?

KT ponders a new direction

KT Tunstall is thinking about doing something different. Not, sadly, so different it won't involve her quitting music and going off to live in a tent somewhere, but different nonetheless:

I've been thinking about doing something more electronic."

Actually, this is quite exciting - so, who are you electronic music heroes, KT? Can we expect something a little Stereolabby? A bit more Kraftwerk-like?
"I was a really big WHAM! fan and still am."


Of course, Wham were dogged by people being more obsessed about their sexuality than their music, so it's not such a large leap, is it?

Look on Jacko's works, ye mighty, and despair

Since Michael Jackson doesn't follow through on anything he promises any more, why shouldn't he promise the most outlandish thing he can think of?

Like a fifty-foot robot Michael Jackson, shooting lasers from its eyes.

The proposal is that he'll pay for this monstrosity to be erected outside Las Vegas -as if anyone who goes to see him play in Vegas is going to be tempted by the thought of a Jackson gig, rather than trying to kill the time gap between running out of cash at the roulette table and the bus to Oregon leaving the next day.

Lets push it further, though, shall we Jacko? Why not make it an animatronic, dancing and coughing flocks of flamingoes from its very mouth?

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away

Reader's Voice: Let's hope the Geordies don't find out what those Jocks are up to!

We're still flip-flopping as to if it's the work of a band with a love of the unexpected, or just a symptom of too much time on their hands, but admittedly the Franz Ferdinand annual is a thing of beauty:

The eclectic mix of Franz-based entertainment that is the Official Franz Ferdinand Annual 2007 is now available from the webshop. The 50-page annual was lovingly designed by Anna McCarthy and features problem pages, puzzles, stories, fact files and cut out dolls, amongst many other novel FF related ways to fill a page... all the retro-tinged fun you'd expect to find in a book echoing the heady days of the Beano.

Dennis The Menace writes: "This Franz Ferdinand book is great! It's just right to pop into my trousers when Dad slippers me for melting his Oasis CDs in the microwave!"

You'd never have guessed: The View are cut from Oasis' cloth

We're always puzzled when bands cite Oasis as an inspiration. Unless they mean "it turns out you can make a stack of cash with very little creative effort, one idea and a nifty PR machine", of course, which might explain why The View believe they owe it all to Noel:

Peter Reilly said it was "special, really special, because we look up to Oasis so much, who are probably the reason we are in a band, so it's an absolute privilege".

Since they appeared on stage with ole monobrow on Monday, it's unlikely Reilly means that they formed a band because of Oasis in a bid to offer some alternative; any alternative whatsoever.

Glasto clear to 2010

Assuming there are no nasty incidents, the world survives and music continues, there will be Glastonbury festivals up until 2010 at least: Mendip Council have given the festival a four-year licence.

Tickets for 2007 go on sale this coming Sunday.

An Epic comeback

Almost determined to wear out the "deckchairs on the Titanic" metaphor, Sony are relaunching Epic Records in the UK:

Announcing the launch, SonyBMG UK chief Ged Doherty told CMU: "This is an
important move for the company. It gives us another significant destination
for artists who want to sign to us by giving them the opportunity to sign to
a label with huge history and resonance within the industry. I've been very
happy with the progress of the Columbia and RCA labels since we brought them
back last year, and we need to expand our A&R capability still further to
help us grow the company in line with our overall plans. I'm delighted that
Nick Raphael will be leading Epic, he is a hugely talented and capable
executive with a track record of making successful albums with a wide
variety of artists and this is the perfect role for him".

We're still trying to work out what, exactly, the point of this is - are they expecting fifteen year olds to go "blimey... it's the record label that the Bee Gees used to be signed to; I'll definitely buy their downloads"? If the point of all the mergers and buyouts Sony have indulged in is to reduce costs, then what is the logic in increasing them again by reactivating an imprint? Does anyone have any real idea what they're doing?

Diddy & Snoop bail

BBC News is reporting that Snoop Dogg and P Diddy have pulled their UK tour, following on from the failure of Snoop to get a visa.

Five years on

With version 2.0 Napster almost already over, bar the dwindling away to nothingness, it's something of a surprise to discover the legal battles over the original Napster have only now been settled. EMI have finally settled with Bertelsmann AG. Back in 2002, BAG was the parent of BMG records, and it bought pirate-era Napster with the aim of turning it into some sort of legitimate business. In effect, it purchased a rubbish cat logo, a brand name and a heap of lawsuits.

Now, the last of these have been settled, and EMI is keen to put the distant past behind it:

"We can now put this matter behind us and continue to pursue the development of new legitimate digital music business models."

There's something almost heartbreaking about EMI closing down a lawsuit it embarked on in 2003 against a long-defunct peer-to-peer network and seeing it as part of its 2007 digital strategy.

Britney: Hole tooth, nothing but the tooth

With her recent travails, it's exciting to speculate on why Britney Spears was rushed to hospital at the weekend. OD? ECT? Lizard scales showing through skin?

Or maybe not rushed. Indeed:

[One onlooker said] "There were rumours flying around that she just had a dental appointment at the hospital but no one can be sure. It could be more serious than that."

She was in the hospital for a shade over one hour. Yes, nobody can be sure she wasn't having her teeth checked, but if it was that serious, wouldn't she have spent a while longer being observed?

Oh-oh-oh, there's pairings in America

Of course, warmest congratulations to John from Johnny Borrell's Razorlights on the news that he's now dating way beyond his spherr. In his desperate bid to turn himself into Chris Martin, he's now moved in with Kirsten Dunst, Dunst taking the Paltrow role.

You do wonder how he's going to do that song about how the US, and in particular its entertainment industry in particular, is full of empty dreams now he's shacked up with a Hollywood actress.

Brian McFadden isn't very bright

You have to wonder at Brian McFadden's brain, as he reveals he married Kerry Katona for the cash:

“It wasn’t a real wedding. We were getting married to get loads of money for it.”

Where did he think loads of money for a woman who was in a declining career was going to come from? It's like marrying Wayne Rooney for the conversation.
He also told Reveal mag: “I was too young to understand what having kids meant. Having a child was like getting a dog.”

That's a lovely quote for the kid's scrapbook. Let's just hope the RSPCA doesn't follow up his apparent belief that taking on a pet isn't a serious, long-term commitment.

It's odd, isn't it, that McFadden still gets all bristly when people suggest his relationship with Delta Goodrem might have been a bit of a cynical ploy.

Bob Geldof redirects elsewhere

The apparent takeover of Bob Geldof's online donation service by porn has got the Sun outraged:

SIR Bob Geldof's official charity webpage was hijacked by disgusting, filthy PORN pirates

It's odd that The Sun - whose entire business plan has been based on selling softcore porn since it first launched Page 3 - still manages to find sexual content so disgusting. It's almost a form of self-loathing.
The donations link on redirected charity givers to a vile hardcore site offering X-rated schoolgirl filth.

Schoolgirl filth? Like this sort of thing?:
SEXY Emma Ryan has given Chris Brosnan a lap dance treat while dressed as a schoolgirl.

Sophie dared the busty twin to do a dirty dance and she obliged, while wearing a school uniform and red high heels much to Chris’s delight.

Other dares included Bianca doing a sexy walk and pulling up her skirt to reveal her knickers and Sophie jumping in the pool in her school uniform to get a "wet look".

Oh... no, hang on, that was The Sun getting excited by Celebrity Love Island.

It might mean this sort of thing:
This week barmaid and student Pepper Fretwell, 21, and pals don saucy uniforms for a School Disco club night in their home town of Brighton.

Pepper was joined by students Alice Miller, 20, Bea Pentney, 20, and Adele Doscher, 21.

Here, Pepper reveals to LAURA MACDONALD how the girls got a kinky caning from the club “schoolmaster”. But did they end up with any lessons in love?

Oh... no, hang on, that was also The Sun, doing a "piece" on School Disco nights.

But still, we're sure you can imagine the sort of thing. The paper has managed to find someone outraged by it all:
One benefactor said: “I went to give money to the Band Aid trust only to be redirected to a website that had some of the most disgusting images I’ve ever seen.

“I’m sure neither Sir Bob or any of his people knew about this but it is sickening none-the-less.

“To think someone could hijack a charity site is beyond belief.”

Although nobody seems to have hijacked a charity site; it looks as if the fulfilment site was the one that got redirected. It is odd that this benefactor wanted to remain mysterious, though. Even odder for a porn site to put its actual images on the free side of its server. Odder yet that a Sun reader might find female nudity "disgusting", isn't it?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ok Go pocket inaugral YouTube award

It was always going to be a shoo-in: OK Go have picked up a YouTube award for "most creative video" - the one with them on the treadmills. Really, of course, the prize is a thank-you from Google for providing the first time the mainstream ran a story about YouTube doing something other than simply existing and demonstrating a way that stuff that isn't about technology could use the site creatively.

Terra Naomi picked up "best music video" - interestingly, she also picked up a lot of coverage beyond the tech press when she signed a deal off her YouTube appearance. Not, of course, that the awards are all for doing Google's press for them.

Eminem and Kim come to terms

As part of a parental cooperation pact, Eminem and Kim Mathers have agreed to stop slagging each other off in public.

Probably a fairly easy call for Kim - she can just stop giving interviews. But it's going to be harder for Eminem, who under this ruling not only won't be able to perform half his oeuvre, but won't even be able to take his shirt off in public, what with that tattoo and all.