Saturday, April 21, 2007

The law never sleeps

Here's something new for America: the sort of people who write letters to the Daily Mail complaining "the BBC is not supposed to have advertising, and yet is constantly advertising its own programmes in between shows..." have been strangers to the 50 states until now. Being America, though, Matthew Enderlin hasn't merely sent his complaint that XM claims to be commercial free, but its stations promote their own programmes and other services, to a eye-boggling newspaper letters column, but instead launched a legal action. XM say his case is without merit, but do (probably) agree that a smile a day can keep the doctor away.

Meanwhile, the AnywhereCD court action is hotting up. After Warners forced the service to take down its music, offered DRM-free, AnywhereCD has hit Warners with a breach-of-contract action. Warners, for its part, has countersued, to get the courts to confirm the contract it has with AnywhereCD has been voided.

It's not yet known how much money has poured into the legal profession in the battle to defend the 1960s music industry into the modern era, but it's certainly more than all the cello players in the US made last year.

Perry Farrell: Downloading bad, Segway will 'shake up way we travel'

Okay, Perry Farrell hasn't actually just come out praising the Segway, but his sudden moaning about illegal downloading does seem to have come from the past:

"If you don't care what happens to music, keep downloading. Look at music and look at the polar caps - they're melting at the same rate.

"If you hear garbage music on your radio station, you have only yourself to blame. If you don't support the arts, that's what you're going to get. You're going to get American Idol. It's fine if you want to hear that, but I don't.

"So I'm trying to do something about it. We'll go out there and raise hell.
Raise hell in a good way, I mean. We'll party."

So, in no way completely overstating the case in any way by comparing the very possible destruction of all life on the planet with the possible lowered profitability a handful of multinational corporations, then.

We'd suggest that "garbage on the radio" has less to do with downloading than the consolidation of the radio industry into the hands of a few, computer-playlist and focus-group led groups, a process which is almost older than the internet.

It's also arguable that online music - of both the regulated and unregulated sort - is precisely the sort of thing that someone who "doesn't want to hear" American Idol should be embracing.

Rather than raising hell, though, we'd love to hear Farrell square the circle of his environment and explain why, if he believes people paying for music is a great thing, guaranteed to free the world from the clutches of American Idol style artists, the greatest-selling artists of the early 21st Century are so often those selected from American Idol and its sister competitions? Indeed, that to purge the music world of the Idol types, it would probably make more sense to stop pumping money into the infrastructure that supports the quick fix of the Reubens and Kellys and Gareths and Wills, rather than pouring more money into their coffers.

An old threat returns to stalk the record labels

Three years ago, the music industry got its pants internally twisted over the "threat" of newspapers giving away CD compilations. "It'll lead people to think that music has no intrinsic value" they wailed, ignoring the simple logic that people were buying the paper to get the CD, and that was the motivation for including the discs - it wasn't like the Sunday Times suddenly thought that their readers deserved a collection of 70s funk classics as a treat.

The habit died out around the time - less because of the fuss kicked up by the likes of one of Victoria Beckham's old managers, more because the papers got fixated on doling out DVDs instead. But now, the spectre of free records is back - and it's a lot more disturbing for the BPI than shabbily conceived various artist compilations or live eps. Tomorrow's Mail on Sunday is coming with a free copy of Tubular Bells.

Does this mean EMI has finally abandoned the BPI/RIAA line that letting people get music for free undervalues all music? Or does it simply need the cash so badly to shore up its business that it'd even sanction 'free downloads with every wrap' if it could be shown the numbers added up? Will the Beatles entire back catalogue wind up being parceled into the Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser?

Cover your cocks

Pete Wentz might enjoy the odd hint that he's slightly more-than-straight, but it sounds more like a sales pitch than an actual statement on his sexuality. The problem seems to be that he has cock squeamishness:

The rocker recently thrilled his homosexual and bisexual fans by boasting he was the "make out king" and often kisses boys because "everything above the waist is fair game"

"I'm not a real big fan of penises. Like my own, whenever I look at it, I just don't find anything attractive about it.

I can't believe girls are into it. It blows my mind a little bit... I just can't get past that thing. It's weird looking."

Unfortunately, it's not clear if Pete means that his dick is weird looking compared to all others, or he just thinks they're odd generally. Or if he's hoping to try and seem to be ever so slightly counter-culture but is desperate to make it clear there's no way he'd actually do anything with a boy.

Here's some advice, Pete: keep your eyes closed. That'll not only save you having to look at 'em; it'll stop them from stinging if you get a hit on your face.

Bits of busted Busted still washing up on the shores

We really thought that we'd seen the last of Fightstar, Charlie Simpson's reaction to be being freed from pretending to be a 14 year-old from the suburbs of Surrey through pretending to be a fourteen year old boy from the suburbs of Ohio.

But, no, apparently Fighstar are returning, although with a fine eye on their position in pop's marketplace, they're giving away their comeback single, 99:

"The inspiration behind '99' was based on the fact that you should cherish the seconds you have with the people you love when they are there, and not take them for granted," explained frontman Charlie Simpson of the track. "Because when they are gone, you won't have the chance to, and you will be left with the haunting thought that you could have."

It's a good point. One of the ways you can cherish those seconds is not by wasting 180 of them listening to Fightstar singles. You'll never get them back.

Keane injured

Relax, though, it's not serious. Tim Rice-Oxley apparently injured his thumb playing football.

Where did this happen? The 3AM Girls will delight the ghost of Hugh Cudlipp by pinning it down to somewhere in South America. Great work, journalists.

Britney Spears prays for pop, prepares new pop

We suspect that during the last week or so, Britney has finally crossed the river Styx to the permanent zone of dumperdom. We're not quite able to put our finger on it, but the last burst of public stupidity has squeezed the final piece of hope that she might pull herself back to a point where she could knock out a classic pop album. Yes, there will be more records - Brian Friedman is sure of that - but the context they're going to be made in is going to be so bitter and screwed, there's no way they're going to be any good, is there?

Brian Friedman, apparently, is a big chum of Britney and is so knowledgeable about things he's one of the judges on that ITV thing to find people to be in Grease. Yes, that knowledgeable. He says it's all going to be fabulous:

"Every decision she's made in the past month has been positive," says Brian, who was with her last week as she recorded tracks for her next album.

"I'm not just talking about going to rehab. More than that. Her life is going in a very positive direction."

"I've worked with her over the last couple of months in the studio on stuff with new music," Brian confides. "It's all very top secret. Will her new image involve her showing off her shaved head? We'll see. It's definitely going to be a change."

Right, so you're suggesting that the most interesting thing about her comeback will be if she's had her hair grow back or not.

You know what, Brian, I know what Britney's new album is going to be called, and what it sounds like, and who is on it. But I can't tell you, because it's top secret. Oh, actually, no I don't, I was just using 'top secret' as a cover up for "I haven't got a fucking clue about it, but I don't want to admit that."

Elsewhere, Britney has reacted badly to her father Jamie apologising on her behalf. Jamie had said sorry to Larry Rudolph after his daughter's dumping of him:
"When Larry Rudolph talked Britney into going into rehab, he was doing what her mother, father and team of professionals with over 100 years of experience knew needed to be done. She was out of control.

"Larry was the one chosen by the team to roll up his sleeves and deliver the message, to help save her life.

"The Spears family would like to publicly apologise to Larry for our daughter's statements about him over the past few weeks.

"Unfortunately, she blames him and her family for where she is at today with her kids and career.

"Larry has always been there for Britney. For this, we will forever be grateful to him."

Of course, the best thing to say at times like this is nothing. Britney, instead, got her spokesperson to stick out a statement - which is probably better than getting pissed and ranting at any passer-by with a video camera and a YouTube account:
"I am praying for my father. We have never had a good relationship.

"It's sad that all the men that have been in my life do not know how to accept a real woman's love. I am concentrating on my work and my life right now."

All the men in your life? Are you saying Justin Timberlake doesn't know how to do it with a lady?

Sorry, that might be a slightly trivial interpretation of her statement, but it's not like its going to do any good trying to elevate the discourse, is it?

Robbie Williams is not a verified source of information

People seeking to discover the truth about Robbie Williams had better steer clear of Wikipedia, as online monkeys have trashed his page. If Wikipedia is all about capturing the wisdom of crowds, it seems the crowds have it in for Williams.

Concerned friend Victoria Newton is on the case:

His entry on Internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia was temporarily defaced, changing the name of his former band Take That to TAKE SMACK.

The joker then added that Robbie should have had his "ass kicked" by Oasis while they were hanging out together.

This makes me suspect it could be the work of an Oasis fan - especially as the GALLAGHER brothers have long had a feud with the Robster.

An Oasis fan, you think? Well done for narrowing it down so expertly, Victoria.

Williams has also told Simon Cowell he was right, which is the last thing you should say to him:
"Simon was quoted as saying: 'Britney and Robbie just need to get their shit together and go spend a few weeks with their mothers.'

"He's usually right about things. He's probably right about that."

Although, to be honest, that sounds sarcastic to us rather than a wholehearted endorsement of the eye-rolling Cowell's position on Williams' mental health.

Oh good. Another musical footballer.

The hall of footballers turning to pop stars is a space which is so crammed with failure that it makes the Brighton and Hove Albion trophy room look like a branch of Tiffanys. The trouble is, of course, that as footballers get paid more and more, the temptation to spend some of that cash on making a disc must be overwhelming - all that saves us is that they're usually too busy having empty sex with whoever is next week's front page of Zoo, they never get round to it.

Didier Drogba has actually gone and completed an album, though. We haven't heard it, and he might be good. But the pseudonym he's chosen doesn't inspire confidence:


Tell us, Drogbacite, about your music:

Drogbacite is about me and my success. There’s even a Drogbacite compilation CD.

“I need my music, especially before a game. I use it in the dressing room.”

Is it just us, or is there something slightly creepy about listening to songs you've made about how great you are before you go out onto the pitch? It's a little bit like something you might read in one of those motivational books as good advice.

Amy Winehouse Fielder-Civil

Amy Winehouse is going to be made an honest woman of - or something in that general direction - having gotten engaged to Blake Fielder-Civil. Assuming, of course, she doesn't suddenly discover a need to cancel the date, as sometimes happens with her concerts.

What an even longer, stranger trip its been

To mark its twentieth birthday, Rolling Stone published a thick paperback, What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been, a compilation of some of the best bits of the magazine.

For the 40th anniversary, it's going one better, re-releasing every magazine on a single DVD priced at just under sixty quid. Even the cover where Pete Wentz appears to have a teenage girl's breasts grafted onto his torso. Even that.

Friday, April 20, 2007

(may contain traces of other bands)

Mark Steel famously worries if he's really seen the Four Tops or not, on account of how the Four Tops which he saw contained Four Tops, but none of the Tops which started out.

He won't need to have these philosophical worries if he moves to Florida; there, the Senate is about to pass into law a ruling that any band must contain at least one original member before it can bill itself under the name.

The law doesn't apply if people have paid to use the band's name as a trademark, though. Apparently, the audience isn't being ripped off if the ringers have paid someone else to do it.

The mercy pirates

There's been some interesting research done into illegal radio in the UK by Ofcom, which has turned up some fascinating facts:

The research found that 30% of all UK radio listeners say they have experienced some form of interference to their service. Of those, 14% believe the interference was caused by illegal broadcasters. In London, these figures rise to 40% and 27% respectively.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of all UK radio listeners turn off their radios or switch to a different station when they encounter interference. Some 2% of listeners who experience radio interference say they complain about it. This figure increases to 8% when listeners believe the interference is caused by illegal broadcasters.

The research found that six out of ten London adults surveyed were concerned when told that illegal broadcasting can cause interference and disruption to the communication systems used by safety-of-life services.

In other words, if our maths are accurate and the survey was truly representative, that just over 200,000 people have been upset enough about interference from pirates to have complained about it, or about a third of one per cent of the UK population.

So, we're not really talking about a major problem, then.

Naturally, if you say to people "did you know people playing crunk can knock out ambulance broadcasts", they're going to be alarmed. But we can't actually find that bit in the published research - we can find a figure which suggests that when separated into age stratas, not two-thirds of 65+ respondents were seriously or fairly seriously concerned - and the figures fell away for younger listeners.

The level of interference pirates caused to emergency and aviation services is left untouched by the report - some figures on that would have been nice, but at least Ofcom did ask people why they were listening to these stations. The response, effectively, was "you have managed to oversee an official radio market which doesn't match the audience's needs and desires".

Ofcom indentifies three major audience groups for pirates - what they call "urban music scenesters" - young people who don't hear their choice of music on licensed radio; communities who feel that legal radio ignores their interests, news and needs; and people who prefer to listen to radio in languages other than English.

To be fair, there will always be a chunk of the audience who will see radio coming from the top of a tower block in Peckham as being more tuned in than something coming from a studio with a nameplate and official logging, which means that there will always be some form of unlicensed broadcasting. But a lot of the other complaints - that there are entire genres missing from the radio dial, there are languages unserved, and area for which it takes a house fire or arms cache to hear their names on the news - could have been avoided by a slightly more effective approach to handing out community licences and forcing people to stick to their promises, instead of allowing them to flog 'em off to bigger groups and change their formats to chartier, more mainstream stuff.

Ofcom also shares its clean-up rate for pirates: 63 convictions out of 1,085 investigations. Even if you assume all those convictions were individuals from separate cases, that's a conviction-to-investigation of 6%. Not exactly winning the war, are they?

Laverne's loss is Zane's gane

After the somewhat abrupt departure of Lauren Laverne from the XFM Breakfast Show, Alex Zane has been given the job. He, however, won't be ready to start until the end of May.

They could have planned this somewhat better, couldn't they?

Have ever a couple more deserved each other?

It's being reported by Page Six that James Blunt and Paris Hilton have been getting to know each other a little better. Imagine that - Blunt has finally found someone more emotionally lightweight than his music.

When the gossip column asked Blunt's spokesperson to comment on the gossip, they got an interesting reaction:

"This sounds like gossip to me!"

Well, yes. Gossip usually does. But 'gossip' doesn't mean the same thing as 'made up', does it?

Cooper Temple Crawls away

Plans for the Cooper Temple Clause to turn up at the Camden Crawl have fallen through. Last night, it was it unforeseen circumstances; as you can't not foresee the same thing happening twice, it's plain old exhaustion. Presumably whatever circumstances they'd failed to foresee last night turned out to be tiring. The statemented in's direction:

"We're all gutted about having to pull out of the Camden Crawl and would have loved to be there with everyone," they explained. "However, over four months of constant touring worldwide has left us physically and emotionally exhausted and we didn't feel it would have been fair on the punters to put on a sub-standard show.

"We all need to get some rest and regroup but we'll be back with bells on soon."

We're not sure if they were afraid of a substandard show on their terms, or those of the average man in the street. It's the "emotionally exhausted" bit that makes us go 'hmm', to be honest.

Gorillaz have been missed

Cartoon rock side-project Gorillaz are no more, Damon Albarn has announced to a world that probably won't be that upset.

It's down to the rising cost of pencils or something.

There will be one last hurrah, with the sort-of-band signed up to do some sort of half-conceived big screen movie. Which is a valid artistic project in its own right, and not merely Albarn calculating that it presents his best chance of getting an oscar.

(Which does remind us: whatever did happen to Albarn the act-or? It's ten years since his first proper role - in Face, of course - which was supposed to add a second string to his bow. Hollywood not noticeably beaten a path to the door since, then?)

Keith Richards not welcome

Mogwai have just released a slew of dates for Europe, keeping them busy this summer:

11 May - Zurich M4
13 - Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
18 - Minehead ATP Festival
26 - Seville Territorios Festival
16 Jun - Barcelona Sonar (headline 2nd stage)
23 - Germany Hurricane (No town or city listed)
24 - Germany Southside (No town or city listed)
12 Jul - London Somerset House
14 - Birmingham Supersonic
24 Aug - Paris Rock en Seine
01 Sept - Inveraray Connect Festival

Won't someone please think of the children?

Victoria Newton again, I'm afraid. She's outraged at something to do with Pete Doherty's Camden Crawl appearance.

Pete managed six songs before having a ho-hum, let's wreck the equipment retro fit. Or, as Victoria has it:

PETE DOHERTY hurled a speaker and stormed off stage yesterday — in full view of KATE MOSS and her young daughter.

Goodness. And?
Kate and four-year-old LILA GRACE, who were dancing beside the stage throughout, were then ushered into the dressing room after Pete.

I cannot imagine the venue or its backstage would be an appropriate playroom for a little girl.

Well, probably not. But an afternoon gig, accompanied by her mother, isn't such a very bad place, is it? It's similar to those tours of the Cadbury factory - a chocolate manufacturing plant isn't an appropriate playroom for a child, but that doesn't mean it's a place they shouldn't visit.

Monkey Business

The Arctic Monkeys have published their accounts - a profit of just under £200,000. Not bad for a new band, although not good enough for Victoria Newton:

The Sheffield scallies made a measly £190,081 profit in the last financial year.

Divided by four, that’s a lot less than I’d expect a chart-topping rock band to have in their coffers.

Clearly, Newton doesn't really understand anything about the economics of rock music - for a band to make a healthy profit so soon into their career is quite unusual. She also doesn't understand maths, either - why would dividing it by four make it any more or less impressive? It's the trading profit for the company as a whole; it's not like each of the Monkeys get paid separately and then turn out their pockets into a large chicken on the table at the end of the night.

Plane spotting

Having predicted that the American public would crush Heather Mills' Dancing With The Stars ambitions at the first vote - and having got it so incredibly wrong - The Sun is now struggling to find any signs that America might not have taken her to their hearts in defiance of the strict 'Heather bad; Paul good' party line.

Today? Apparently Heather was "humiliated" when nobody applauded after she filmed a drop-in bit on a Virgin Atlantic jet:

The Virgin jet’s captain announced they would be performing — but at the end not one person clapped.

One passenger said: “It was totally embarrassing for everyone concerned and all a bit shambolic.” Virgin said: “It was not our captain’s idea.”

The weakness of that Virgin quote - which sounds like a bemused press spokesperson trying to work out if a national newspaper is really asking them why nobody applauded a stunt being filmed for a TV programme on its plane - suggests that there wasn't very much there to begin with.

Of course they didn't applaud. Would you clap if there was a show-off on your plane doing some work? Almost certainly not. And - just in case that the piece's writer Thomas Whittaker has never been on an aeroplane - someone should point out to him you wouldn't really be able to do ballroom on a plane. Even if First Class.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Trent Reznor's secrets

So, yesterday we discovered if you played the new Nine Inch Nails album, it reveals some binary code. Someone with more time on their hands has translated the binary code, which will, if you understand these things, take you to, which is a bit of a joke at the RIAA's expense.

Cam'ron keeps the code

If you had a mass-murderer living next door to you, you wouldn't know. The neighbours never do, do they? "He seemed so perfectly normal, although with hindsight he did sometimes leave his milk out on the step until eleven, even on summer days, so there was something unsettling."

But if you did, by chance, happen to spot your neighbour killing people to death, you'd probably call the police. Unless you're like Cam'Ron, of course, whose confused sense of right and wrong means that he'd be putting in a call to Location, Location, Location rather than Crimewatch:

"If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?" Giles responds to a hypothetical question posed by Cooper. "I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him -- but I'd probably move. But I'm not going to call and be like, 'The serial killer's in 4E.' "

Thank god it's only a hypothetical question, eh? It's charming to see Cam'ron's sense of civic duty and natural justice is easily outweighed by some sort of desire to keep to a muddled-headed 'no snitching' rule. Like so many supposed grown-ups, he seems completely unfit to live in a world where life isn't actually some big stupid team game.

Of course, he'd have to mention the serial killer in his Homesellers Information Pack, so he won't ever be able to get a buyer for 4F.

Von Sudenfed on YonTube

Just popping up on YouTube is a video for Fledermaus Can't Get It by Von Sudenfed. If you're still sat here going "and I should click why?", Von Sudenfed are a Mouse On Mars/Mark E Smith collaborativey side project type thing. This is the first track from the resulting album Tromatic Reflexxions. You can't really knock that, can you?

[Edit: we transposed our mice. Sorry.]

[EDIT: Let's just embed this, shall we?]

Paint a Vulgar Picture

According to the Manchester Evening News, The Smiths are going to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame next year. This could mean a reunion - or at least the load of them stood together on the same stage.

We're not so sure we're as confident in the tale as the MEN's Adam Moss is.

Admittedly, it's the first year that the Smiths have passed the eligibility criterion of having formed 25 years ago, so they could be up for it this year. However, since you not only have to be nominated, but also pass the voting stage (around 600 industry experts get to weigh the nominees), it's possibly a little bit early to be suggesting the Smiths will definitely be inducted. As this year there was some suggestion that the voting was rigged, with some votes being ruled ineligible to shut out the Dave Clark Five and finally allow a rap act into the Hall (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, if you're curious), it's probable that even if the figures are going to be manipulated to shoo-in Morrissey and the boys, it's unlikely they'd be drawing attention to the fix by telling people "they're in" before nominations have even closed.

And would the band really come together again? Sharing a stage after Morrissey described Rourke and Joyce as "session musicians who could be replaced like parts of a lawnmower"?

Even assuming the bitterness could set aside, how crushing would it be to the legions of fans who've kept a special place for the Smiths in their hearts all these years to see the band come together for a reunion at one of the most self-congratulatory insider events of the year?

Espers and you?

The Espers are blowing in from the US for a mini-tour of the UK and Ireland. Actually, it's a mini-tour of Scotland, with London and Dublin as well:

25th April Dublin Crawdaddy
26th London Dingwalls
27th Aberdeen Lemon Tree
28th Glasgow Tramway
29th Edinburgh Liquid Room

The three Scotland dates come with the added delights of Gruff Rhys, Euros Childs and Boom Bip.

Liverpool: Where the Beatles came from

As Liverpool prepares for its year in the spotlight as European Capital of Culture, it'll be picking up its Enjoy England Award for Excellence with a bit of a wobbly-shaped mouth. Yes, it's nice that it's been recognised as a tourist spot, but having spent ten years spending millions trying to promote the idea there's more to the place than just The Beatles, it's having to share the award with Paul McCartney. The citation, too, is quite Fab Four heavy:

Sir Paul said that he was honoured to receive the award.

"It's great to think that in some small way I've done something to help tourism for the place of my birth, which I'm so proud of," he said.

Hugh Taylor, England marketing advisory board chairman, said Sir Paul had done "great things" for his home city, which has seen visitor numbers more than double in the last five years.

"For many visitors, the emotional draw is that it is the home of the Beatles, and while Sir Paul modestly describes himself as 'just this kid from Liverpool', his influence on the success of Liverpool's tourism cannot be understated," he said.

"He remains one of the most successful musicians and composers in popular music history," he added.

Perhaps the city ought to bow to the inevitable and just replace the whole of William Brown Street with a giant, hollow John Lennon.

Visit England, who organise the prize giving, claim the awards are known as the "oscars of tourism" - assuming, of course, that the Oscars only allowed people from one country to enter and nobody knew who won the prizes.

Apparently, there are also people who believe cows give eggs

When Gordon Ramsay asked Victoria Beckham to look after his little fluffy white lambs, what exactly did she think he was planning to do with them?

Apparently, it's come as a surprise to Beckham that the lambs were ingredients and not pets. Because Gordon Ramsay really comes across like a bloke who'd be finding time in his cold, black heart to raise a couple of cute creatures, of course.

Victoria Beckham doesn't eat meat. Not because it's cruel, but because it's food.

What happens when you piss off the publicist

Stories are circulating that Muirfield Golf Course "snubbed" Justin Timberlake and his mother - not letting ma walk round the course, and refusing to give them entry to the restaurant.

Muirfield tell a different story:

Club secretary Alastair Brown said: “Justin Timberlake and his mother played here on Tuesday but we told his publicist that it would not be possible for her to accompany them on the course.

“After the game, they did not wish to enter the restaurant area but in any case he would not have been able to do so, as he was not wearing the required jacket and tie.”

We suspect that forcing the publicist to sit in the car with a can of coke and a bag of crisps while Justin and his mum played their interminable game of knocky-ball-into-hole may have given them ample time to Blackberry a slightly grumpier story to the papers. Or maybe there was a passer-by who thought that the publicist was Justin's mother.

Justin Timberlake enjoys golf with his mother. He's less SexyBack, more DripdrySlacks, isn't he?

Blackened Blue Eyes before Behind Blue Eyes

The Who's summer UK tour suddenly looks a little more attractive: The Charlatans are going to be support for Swansea and Wembley.

Chip double dip

The long running (indeed, almost venerable) DJ Kicks series is preparing its latest offering. This time, it's Hot Chip doing the remix work, rebuilding New Order, Etta James, Joe Jackson, Wookie, Black Devil Disco Club and (naturally) a spot of themselves into something glitzy and new.

It's due on the 21st May, but Amazon will take your money now.

Monkeys put a little oompah-loompah in their step

While it is, of course, interesting that while making their new album the Arctic Monkeys listend to Ricky Martin doing songs about Willy Wonka, we're not entirely sure this justifies the claim that Martin has been an "influence" on the record.

There's a bit of a distance between hearing something, and taking the thing you've heard on board and incorporating themes and motifs into your work. If simply coming into contact with something automatically influenced you, architects would have the perfect excuse for leaving their boyfriends to do the shopping: "I'm sorry, honey, but if I catch site of the Tescos building it's automatically going to influence the work I'm doing on the Scottish Parliament building..."

Rolling Stones: They shoot up horses, don't they?

The suggestion that the fate of a Rolling Stones gig hangs on an extraordinary amount of horse tranquillisers isn't that unusual - we're given to understand that's normally part of Keith's rider.

When they play Serbia, though, plans to drug 300 horses to stop them being scared by the noise of the perpetual tax exiles is causing upset. Animal welfare bodies are demanding the gig be moved, rather than force the animals to be medicated needlessly. The Serbian equivalent of the RSPCA is hoping to appeal to the band's better nature.

We know, we know. But they're still going to try.

James Morrison outraged

James Morrison is fuming - a-huffing and a-puffing - over people who collect autographs to flog on eBay:

"They are not fans, just vultures who want your autograph to sell it. It's just a chance to profit - they don't even look at you when you do sign for them."

Don't worry, James - judging by the lack of any bids at all on 'james morrison signed' items on eBay right now, they won't be bothering you very much longer.

Geri dumps her cello

The greatest mystery about the sighting of Geri Halliwell dumping a cello at a tip is, of course, what the hell a musical instrument was doing in her possession in the first place.

It was, obviously, still in its original wrappings.

Malawi misery for Madonna

If the idea of this week's media circus in Malawi was to try and claw back some positive coverage for the work the Madonna-fronted Kabbalah charity is doing amongst the vulnerable of the nation, it's not going well. Indeed, if we were in charge of the cash-hungry cult, we might wonder if we it might not be better casting around for someone a little better at engaging with the public. The local press is still trying to be polite, but...:

The Daily Times newspaper said it backed Madonna's pledge to help the impoverished African country.

But in an editorial it added: "Just like her first trip Madonna's second trip to Malawi is also shrouded in secrecy."

Meanwhile, according to The Sun (with all the attendant implications of that phrase), Guy was supposed to be joining in the photo-ops, but hasn't been keen:
A source close to the family said: “Madonna is furious with him.

“They fell out before she left London when he first postponed due to a last-minute meeting. Since then Guy and Madonna have rowed over the phone, screaming and shouting at each other.

“She really hoped Rocco would be with her to see the kids at the orphanage.”

Obviously, Guy is busy working on research for his next film. Those Minder box sets don't watch themselves, you know.

Three Magic Minutes

Ian Brown has written a song for Dynamo.

No, we didn't either, but Victoria Newton explains that he's some sort of Paul Daniels in a back-to-front baseball cap:

Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne, grew up on a tough Bradford council estate. He learnt to deal with the local bullies by performing tricks his great grandad had taught him.

Now Dynamo flies the world to perform in front of the great and the good of music, sport and politics. He has left PRINCE CHARLES, DAMON ALBARN, CHRIS MARTIN, GWYNETH PALTROW and SIR PAUL McCARTNEY speechless by his card shark magic.

While it's great that Dynamo beat the bullies by using prestidigitation, it suggests he went to a bit of a weak school - the big boys at my secondary school wouldn't have been distracted by having sixpences removed from their ears, although they could perhaps have been brought onboard by sawing a second year in half.

So, how does Ian Brown's song go?
“Magical offerings — the suspension of time
Some like bending spoons
Dynamo’ll bend ya mind [...]
At the greatest show on earth
Folks are slack-jawed by The Magic Man.”

As far as we can gather, making people's jaws slack isn't part of his act.

It's interesting that as soon as someone tries to write a song about magic, they just fall apart ("you can do magic/magic/magic/ you can do magic, baby"). Rather than write a whole new song, we'd have much rather Brown recorded the all-time great conjurer anthem:
You're gonna see a whole lot of magic
look at this trick and that trick...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cowell screws up his face; screws up

If there's one hard and fast rule of mainstream TV popularity in the US, it's that you don't intrude on that nation's moments of grief. So it'll be interesting to see if Simon Cowell can extricate himself from the mess he's gotten into after he was caught apparently rolling his eyes while an American Idol contestant made a speech about his friends at Virginia Tech.

Cowell's explanation? He wasn't rolling his eyes at that at all:

"You get this crazy story that appears that I rolled my eyes disrespectfully at Chris because he made the comment... The truth was I had switched off at that point and I was talking to Paula.

I did wanna clear this one up because this is a very sensitive subject. The irony was is that we did want to set the right tone on the show."

So, rather than showing disrespect by making a face, you simply weren't listening at all? That'll play well, Simon. Especially if you're suggesting you set up the memorial speech in the first place and then had a little chinwag with Paula over the top of it.

Really, this would be a storm in an espresso cup were it not for the red raw scar of this week's shootings; it suggests why a light entertainment man like Cowell should steer clear of trying to engage with the real world altogether. It also shows that his connection with what the mainstream, Fox-watching segment of the American public are thinking is nowhere near as closely attuned as he likes to claim.

Courtney: Weightloss down to pants, not surgery

Courtney Love is still insisting that her incredible weightloss was down to nothing more than diet shakes and will power - the will power provided by the desire to get into someone's trousers. Todd Lynn's, apparently, or a pair of them, anyway.

If you were that keen to fit into the trousers, why not have someone let them out - we used to have a lady over the road who'd do that, and take up the legs, in return for a box of biscuits and a half-bottle of sherry. A lot easier than crash-weight-loss.

This contradicts Zoe in the Sunday Mirror's revelation that the motivation was to prepare for the Boradway stage, of course.

Love denies she had any surgery:

"I'm not eligible for that. It's illegal for me to get that. You have to be 100 pounds overweight, you have to be grossly obese."

Love, of course, would never consider using any sort of medical technique or product in contravention of the law. Well, except for drugs.

Weather saves Kevin Federline from himself

Kevin Federline had been due to perform a moonwalk in an inflatable deodorant tin - accompanied, of course, by scantily-clad women - but the idea had to be scrapped because of high winds.

There, but for the grace of God. Assuming there's a God that controls the weather. Or maybe it was just passers-by blowing to try and stop it happening.

Kevin, if you're that desperate for money, please consider gay porn. Compared to "moonwalking with the Axe babes in an inflatable", you'll discover the dignity of proper labour.

Nine Inch Nails heatrash

The victory of the CD over vinyl greatly reduced the wriggle-room for visually interesting product. Out when the range of coloured and shaped singles and albums, and cussedly impossible to play sizes and speeds. The novelty disappeared from the record shop to the extent where one label recently made a great deal over the fact they were using coloured jewel cases.

So, hats off the Nine Inch Nails for bringing back some of the - admittedly pointless - magic. The new CD has a thermal coating, and when you play it for the first time, the heat of your CD player reveals a secret message. A really dull one, but a secret nevertheless.

Of course, the heat your CD player generates will also help obliterate a few Polynesian islands.

Feistfull of dollars

Among the nastier neologisms spewed out by the internet has been webisodes - why? Why? Even wepisode would have been slightly less grating. So it's strange to discover that part of the marketing push for Fesist's The Reminder is using the word as part of its campaign. Still, it's Feist, so the webisodes manage to rise above their name.

More Feist: She was a guest on Martin Freeman's BBC Radio London show yesterday [real link; expires after a week; yes, it does say Danny Baker, Martin's guest-hosting and surprisingly good at it, actually, she turns up about an hour in].

Wolf & Winehouse

There are some partnerships that work really well. There are others that just put the fear of god into you. We suspect Patrick Wolf and Amy Winehouse coming together for a slew of US gigs might come from the "I'm Pasquale, He's Walsh" drawer.

WWPR turns "ho"s down

In what may or may not be a sign of a new age in hip-hop radio, WWPR in New York has announced a new policy of refusing to play songs with "degrading images".

WWPR - which also travels under the name Power 105.1 - isn't making it entirely clear what 'degrading' images they're drawing the line at. The network is happy it won't have to do much work:

"The station won't sound that different, because we weren't playing a lot of that anyway," said program director Helen Little. "What we're doing is holding labels and artists accountable for what they say and how they say it "We want our listeners to know that whatever they hear here, we thought about it."

Hmm. At the moment, they've still got T-Pain's Buy You A Drink on the playlist - which is, effectively, "fuck me because I'm rich; then let's get drunk so you can forget you've fucked me."

They've also got Akon and Snoop's I Wanna Love You with its presumably non-degrading lyric:
Money in the air as mo’ fell
Grab you by your coattail, take you to the motel, ho sale
Don’t tell, wont tell, baby say “I don’t talk, Dogg unless you told on me” - oh well
Take a picture wit me, what the flick gon’ do
Baby stick to me and I’ma stick on you
If you pick me then I’ma pick on you
d-o-double g and I’m here to put this dick on you
I'm stuck on pussy and your’s is right
Rip ridin’ the poles and them doors is tight
And I’ma get me a shot ‘fo the end of the night
Cuz pussy is pussy and baby you’re pussy for life

If the station isn't going to sound very different, presumably this means we're going to need to recalibrate our ideas of what's degrading.


We're hearing rumours from a couple of places that Popworld's Pulp magazine has been axed on the day of its second issue.

Certainly, the website is currently returning the following:

Permission Denied

Error Code: 3

We're not sure if this is a terrible shame or not - we couldn't find it on sale anywhere in MK - but it was something of an inevitability. Didn't the pop-fortnightly incarnation of Raw last for two issues as well?

Doherty: He might not be clean, but he's good

Pete Doherty's ability to satisfy London's magistrates continues, with Judge McIvor praising him for being bothered to turn up to find out his case reviews turn out:

The musician was 30 minutes late for the hearing, but Judge McIvor told him: "There's no obligation for you to turn up to the reviews.

"The fact you've turned up shows co-operation - more than co-operation - and there is no risk of you breaching this order."

So, is Pete clean?

Apparently not, but... oh, he so wants to be:
"I'm quite keen to show a negative test as soon as possible," the 28-year-old told the court.

It's a little bit like Nick Cotton, isn't it? "I'm gonna get clean for ya, maaa..."

Of course, if Doherty's in as much financial trouble as he's supposed to be, he might have no option as his supplies will dry up anyway.

CNN had a more detailed report, in which he implies that it's the love and support of Carl Barat which may have saved him (for this week, at least):
Rocker Pete Doherty said Wednesday that people close to him are insisting that he kick his addiction to drugs.

"The people I'm closest to have had enough. They've said it's drugs or them," the Babyshambles frontman said at a court appearance to review his progress in complying with a treatment order.

"A lot has changed in the past week," Doherty added.

In the last week, of course, he reunited on stage with Carl. We're sure it won't be in any way galling to Kate that a year of her life, and two spells of rehab on her money isn't a patch on a sing-song with his former best mate.

Ebay set to introduce climate change tax

Ebay have announced their plans for dealing with anyone trying to sell Live Earth tickets on their site. They're going to introduce a levy of some sortm with a "mandatory 20%" going to good climate change causes:

The eBay spokesman said British sellers would be strongly encouraged to donate the money to Stop Climate Chaos, the organisation supporting the Live Earth concert in the UK, or to another charity supporting the climate change agenda.

He added: "Although the charity will have benefited from the original sale of the ticket, we think it makes sense to use our charity fundraising programme to ensure that good causes benefit from the resale of any spare tickets on the site.

"As a result, users who decide to resell their tickets will be required to donate at least 20% of their final value fee to good causes through our charity fundraising platform."

Actually, this inflates the price before anyone even has tickets to sell, as to make back the ticket price you'll now have to sell them for £66.

Live Earth, of course, aren't pleased:
Marianne Troup of Live Earth UK said: "This is an independent decision by eBay and we are not involved with it.

"While we acknowledge the charity donation we are not comfortable with people making money from what is a social issue."

Except, of course, the artists who will be getting a sales boost, or MSN who have sponsored the website to promote their portal. And, of course, there's going to be some money made from nosebag, as the Live Earth London site tacitly admits:
The newly built Wembley Stadium will have plenty of bars, restaurants and shops, distributed equally throughout the stadium and located on the spacious concourses, which surround the stadium bowl on every level. On the top level there is an outdoor terrace with spectacular views across London.

And Mercedes Benz, whose Smart brand is a sponsor. They could be making money from a social issue. And the mobile phone networks carrying all this extra traffic generated by the ticket ballot. And, of course, the organisers are steering everyone to arrive on public transport, which will represent a nice little payday for the rail operators.

But, apart from them, it's very uncomfortable to think of people making money out of what is a social issue.

More joined-up thinking from the Daily Mail

Visitors to the Mail's website can read the harrowing story of Tina Stock, who discovered her husband's child porn collection by accident - she stumbled across sexualised images of a seventeen year-old, which prompted her to dig further and discover more hardcore pictures.

On the side of the article, there's a link to another piece: about Pixie Geldof, which promises:

Pixie Geldof makes a splash when she walks around London in what is possibly the world's shortest dress

and then, in the 'article' itself, allows itself to drool:
She's obviously so delighted to be out of school, rebellious Pixie Geldof has gone that one step further and ventured out minus a skirt.

The 16-year-old was seen strutting out-and-about in London, in what seemed the world's shortest dress.

So short in fact, her underwear was visibly noticeable from behind.

Let's hope no partners stumble in and discover their husbands looking at Mail's sexualised images of sixteen year-olds.

Greys Anatomy is the new radio

There's an extraordinarily over-optimistic piece just turned up on Reuters trumpeting the role played by US dramas in breaking new music.

Sure, getting a background slot on The OC or Grey's Anatomy does a lot of good work for a band's profile, but is it really a replacement for radio exposure? After all, just how many tracks does the US TV industry need each year? Two dozen? Three dozen?

TV reckons it's more likely to take risks:

The problem with radio is a concern with being safe," says Calamar, who, in addition to his work as host of KCRW's "The Open Road," has served as a music supervisor for such shows as "Six Feet Under" and Showtime's current hits "Dexter" and "Weeds." "If Coldplay is hot, then let's play five more bands that sound like Coldplay. It's all about following trends. TV and ad people are much more willing to take risks than radio programmers are. There's actually a preference now for music that hasn't been heard in a lot of other places.

This would be a lot more convincing if the biggest breakthrough using this route hadn't been, erm, Snow Patrol, who are like five tracks from Coldplay playing simultaneously.

And do TV soundtrack programmers really take more risks than mainstream radio programmers? If by "risk" you mean playing a band whose name isn't a household word, perhaps. But if by "risk" you think of exposing an audience to a style of music they wouldn't normally come into contact with, forget it.

And Calamar admits this isn't so much about artistry as bottom lines:
"And on a practical level," Calamar continues, "there's an affordability factor -- it's a lot more economical to license a new artist. That's not the first thing anybody thinks of, but there's always a budget to work within, and it's a win-win when you can find something that's great and affordable. The band's thrilled to get the exposure, and you're thrilled to get a song that works and helps establish a show's personality."

There is the attraction of a band with no track record: they don't come with a high price tag.

If they sound like Coldplay, of course, that's just a bonus.

Rock sick list: Butler and Platter

Get well soons to Win Butler, recovering from surgery designed to sort out his sinus problems prior to the Arcade Fire's US tour:

"Just wanted to let you all know that the surgery was successful, and I am recovering nicely. I will probably start singing again this week some time to try and get ready for the shows in North America. "It has been a blessing in disguise to be forced to stay at home and read, and sleep and I have even started work on some new songs."

And all the best to Curtis Bridgeforth. He's been HIV+ for 17 years, and is stepping down from The Platters as he's developed diabetes (apparently a cruel side effect of his HIV mdeication). He's released a statement:
"I found out in 1990 that I was HIV positive and I've been living with HIV for the last 17 years.

"Then two years ago, after suddenly losing 20 pounds and 30 percent of my eyesight, I learned that I had diabetes, in all probability stemming from my HIV medication.

"Right now, my sugar count and cholesterol count are dangerously high, so to prevent a major heart attack or stroke, as well as deal with the HIV issue, I need to seek treatment in New York. There is a program offered there for people like me who don't have health insurance.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the people I work with every night knew nothing of my HIV until now, although our management company has been aware since 2003. I don't want to hide it anymore - I'm an example of how to survive it and maybe I can help other people in the same situation.

"After I get my health in check, I want to come back to performing. I've already been offered some opportunities. The most important thing I do on this planet is sing to people - I can make people smile and that's a God-given gift."

Annual income twenty pounds; annual expenditure sorting out your man twenty pounds ought and six; result, misery

Pete Doherty, it might surprise you to learn, isn't very good with money. He's good enough to have two separate business accounts, though: Babyshambles Touring lost £21,731; Babyshmables Limited showed a small profit of £1,910.

The Mirror claims that Doherty is thought to have "made millions" from The Libertines, which seems a little optimistic; the paper reckons that that money has been invested.

So, perhaps Pete's "loss" is for tax purposes (the Tory peerage won't be far away) and he's not so bad with money after all.

Or maybe he has just snorted the lot.

Metrosexual Marilyn

He might have still been in his trademark circusgoth outfit, but clearly it was an off-duty Marilyn Manson whose first port of call in London was the Met Bar.

Ooh! Expensive cocktails. He's messing with my head, mother.

Meanwhile, Victoria Newton shows the skills that have made her showbiz journalist of some other year:

I’ll be intrigued to hear his new single, Heart Shaped Glasses, which is released in May. Apparently for once he sings rather than just shouts.

If you're that intrigued why don't you just type the name of the song into Google and find the audio on YouTube?

Oh, and he doesn't sing - he does a strange, croaking thing.

Vote Said Fred

Richard Fairbrass, out of Right Said Fred from the Daz adverts ("we can be sexy again") is throwing his big cowboy hat into whatever sort of ring it is that is used to declare one's intention to run for mayor. And mayor London, at that:

“Current mayor Ken Livingstone has lost the plot. London has turned into a rich man’s playground.

“I have been living here since 1982 and London has definitely improved.

“But I think Ken has been in the hotseat too long — it’s time for a change.

“I want to stand as an independent candidate with a manifesto for the real working people of London.

“They make it the brilliant city it is. It’s not just about the super-rich."

It's about time - someone, at last, to stand up for the everyday working folk of London - the guys and girls toiling away appearing in soap powder commercials, filling out reality TV hairdressing programmes, selling gigs off the back of a quasi-novelty hit from a decade ago. It's time those, the real people of the city, had their day.

Still, at least it's not a campaign about the congestion charge, is it?

Oh, hang on:
“The congestion charge needs a total overhaul — real Londoners should get a massive discount. Women driving their Chelsea tractors in from Surrey should have to pay a premium."

We're not sure what happens if you live round the Oval, say, both within the old Surrey boundary and the M25. We do look forward to seeing Richard's suggested modifications to the congestion charge equipment to detect the real London-ness of a driver. Presumably the camera will be recalibrated enough to detect the glint of a button on a Pearly King's jacket.

Still, it's about time someone stood up against the tide of people coming from Surrey trying to enjoy the benefits that should, by rights, belong to "real Londoners."

Richard Fairbrass was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, in Surrey.

Still, great idea to give Londoners discounts and make people driving SUVs pay a premium. The only problem being that if you live in the heart of London, you already get a resident's discount, and Transport For London has already announced plans to charge polluting vehicles more than smaller cars.

Still, it's not Richard's only policy:
“Policemen, nurses, firemen and teachers should be able to live in the areas they work.

“And I would do everything in my power to work a way round the smoking ban. I think it is an absolute scandal.”

And if you've got people breathing in loads more second-hand smoke, you're going to need those nurses in greater numbers.

Vote Richard - smoke tabs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Girls Aloud not thin, just wearing tight clothes

Sunsilk's new Girls Aloud advertising campaign has been condemned by eating disorders charity b-eat:

A spokesman from eating disorders' help group Beat said fans could be encouraged to copy the skinny look: "They look unnaturally thin - they look like Barbie dolls."

Polydor, on behalf of the band, say this is rubbish:
But a spokesman for their record label Polydor told the Daily Mail: "The girls are all perfectly healthy and are all different shapes and sizes.

"They have always spoken about and promoted healthy eating habits."

All shapes and sizes? You'd stump a pub quiz audience by asking "what is the name of the overweight member of Girls Aloud", wouldn't you?

Still, the band have done their bit to promote eating, if not healthy eating. Or, at least, they've been in an advert for crisps. What more can they do?

Meanwhile, Unilever - makers of Sunsilk - are insisting that far from being dangerously underweight, they're just wearing clingy clothes:
And a spokesman for Unilever, who make Sunsilk products, added: "The girls were wearing strong elasticated waist belts with elasticated black bodystocking-style skirts."

What - every time they go out?

The Daily Mail gets to grips with youth culture

As he's currently number one - there's nothing we can do about that - it does bring Matt Lucas comfortably into our remit and allows us to applaud the Mail's sure grip on modern entertainment, as it tops off a not-at-all unnewsworthy photos of Lucas waiting for a taxi with a headline based on a popular TV comedy show catchphrase.

Unfortunately, 'am I bovvered' is Catherine Tate, not Little Britain.

Explosions beaten out by extreme weather

Explosions in the Sky have had to axe their Manchester and Glasgow gigs following the storms in the North Eastern US:

We're sad to say that, on account of some insanely severe storms that have been hammering the eastern seaboard of the US, we have had to cancel our Glasgow and Manchester shows. Air traffic here in the States has been backed up quite a bit and our flights yesterday were called off. However, we have new flights planned and we will be making it in time for the London show.

Both of these cancelled shows will be rescheduled and we will post any information about the new dates as soon as we have them confirmed.

We have only missed two shows in the entire eight years we've been a band so this is certainly not something we take lightly. We are truly sorry.

So, no Explosions in the Sky because they couldn't get into the sky because of explosions in the sky, then.

Madonna's visit brings cops, violence

The "private" reunion between Yohane and David Banda has turned into a mini-riot and sideshow, as stone-throwing children, police and journalists came into a violent mess outside the orphanage. Must be great for the kids to have all this going on outside - presumably Madonna was unable to think of another way to reunite the child with his father than turning up at the orphanage in a massive attention-drawing convoy?

Sticky Fingers

You know why we've never got into archeology? It's because whenever we've thought about buying a metal detector, we've never been able to find one which has been endorsed by pop star.

Thank god, then, for the Bill Wyman signature metal detector, yours for just £125. Bill has, indeed, signed the detector. Nowadays, Bill likes uncovering old things, of course, which is a bit of a change from when he was dating Mandy Smith.
[via Stereogum]


Often, we've woken in the middle of the night thinking that it's strange nobody makes musicals about superheroes - after all, both are nothing without glorious costumes and are based on the idea of apparently ordinary people suddenly doing extraordinary things (either bursting into song, or being faster than a speeding bullet.) Then we wake up in the morning, and realise it's a stupid idea which would be the financial equivalent of offering your kidneys on Freecycle, and forget the idea.

Now, though, we hear that Bono and The Edge have signed up to get into musical theatre by providing a score for a song-and-dance version of Spiderman.

Yes, Spiderman: The Musical.

Meanwhile, it seems that hanging around with Johnny Borrell (yes, that's all back on) is rubbing off on Kirsten Dunst, as she's putting on a superb strop at the backstage rejiggling for Spiderman 4:

"It's disrespectful to the whole team, I think, to do that," she tells Entertainment Weekly about the prospective of big name cohorts dropping out. "And audiences aren't stupid. It'd be a big flop without me, Tobey or Sam. That would really not be the smartest move. But they know that already. [Sony chief] Amy Pascal would never do that."

You could, however, sack the drummer and guitarist without disturbing things overmuch...

Eddie Van Halen emerges from rehab; starts his engines

If you have a map showing the whereabouts of the rock gods, you should move the Eddie Van Halen pin from rehab and stick it in Phoenix, where he's due to do something connected with NASCAR drivers, a guitar company and Subway's sub-Quiznos subs. Unfortunately, the press release is such a mess of brand names and trademark acknowledgements we can't really make out what it's all about:

"Rock and roll, fast cars and guitars, I can't think of a better combination. Fender is proud to partner with our friends, Eddie Van Halen and PIR, for this great occasion." said Matt Janopaul, President & COO of Fender Musical Instruments Corp.

We can think of better combinations - rock and roll and guitars and no fast cars, for example. But we're sure the comination will sell lots of sandwiches.

Rudolph's slaying prompts lawsuit

Britney Spears' decision to dump Larry Rudolph as manager last Friday - a bit before thanking him in a sarcastic way for sending her to rehab - turns out to have been a bit of a mistake, with Page Six reporting he's thinking of suing for unfair dismissal.

She's apparently also hired the same PR Lindsay Lohan has been using to restore her image. Because their work with Lindsay has been going so well, probably.

These are the sorts of silly decisions good management would protect you from. There might be a lesson there.

Gibb preserves Cash remnants

Barry Gibb, owner of the still-smouldering ruins of Johnny Cash's house, has pledged that he won't rebuild on the site:

Gibb, who owns the property, said the land was "sacred" and "must be protected forever".

"Linda and I have decided to build our own home on the higher ground surrounding the Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash home.

"The original foundations shall be kept intact and preserved for the people of Hendersonville and the people of Nashville."

We're a little puzzled as to what, if the site is sacred now the house isn't there, that makes the ultimately destructive work Gibb was having done on it - desecration? Or was the place not sacred when it stood?

Live Earth hardly sets world on fire

The clamour for tickets for Live Earth hasn't been entirely overwhelming. Sure, 203,000 registering for entry into the ticket lottery is more than enough to fill Wembley but hardly speaks of desperation to attend. Glastonbury managed to rack up 100,000 registrations in its first 24 hours, and that was with all the confusion over URLS and the need to upload photos and details. For an event that has tickets on itself being the "world's largest live show", that fewer than a quarter of a million people showed an interest in being there must be bitterly disappointing.

Hasn't this been announced at least twice already?

In case you've been out the country, or obsessed with knitting your own carrier bags, the Arctic Monkeys have confirmed that when it was announced they'd play Glastonbury, this meant they were going to play a gig at the Glastonbury festival, and not a five-a-side match against a local football team.

They also admire Amy Winehouse:

“We really like her and her work and we would love to perform with her. We hear she is going to be playing at the same gig in Manchester as us. It would be great if we could perform live together.”

Yes, that would be wonderful - two slightly over-hyped modish types pedalling musical simulacra for the price of one.

Radiohead supply public demand

The 2004 Japan-only Radiohead ep Com Lag (2+2=5) is to get a UK release after - surprise, surprise - UK fans were so keen to get their hands on copies they started buying them on import.

Who could have ever imagined that happening, eh?

Amazon are taking preorders right now.

Shh... it's a secret

Only, of course, the Secret Garden Party is about as secret as we are. Still, the promised line-up for the event is pretty delicious:

Das Pop
The Noisettes
New Young Pony Club
Drive By Argument
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
Little Barrie
Echo And The Bunnymen
The New York Fund
Fujiya & Miyagi
Of Montreal
The Sunshine Underground
Rilo Kiley
Prince Buster
I'm From Barcelona
Terry Reid
Hafdis Huld
Rock Kills Kid
Ali Love
The Whip
Wall Of Sound
South Central
Keren Ann

The whole thing takes place between July 26 and 29th, in John Major's old constituency of Huntingdon. Does anyone know if Huntingdon station still has its beautiful independent newsagents/coffee shop?

Go on, die old

Mogwai have had a bit of a bad reaction to the tale of Keith Richards snorting his own dad's ashes. They've responded with an open letter:

Hi everyone. I just woke up to find that average blues guitar peddlar and all round unlikeable London pirate-like arsehole Keith Richard snorted his dad's ashes on a drug binge. Well done Keith, you talentless publicity hungry horrible prick of the highest order. He then goes on to say modern bands are a load of old crap. Right, but can we really listen to the opinions of a nasal cannibal?

Keith, your band are possibly the worst band in the history of human events, worse even than Placebo and The Reynolds Girls combined. Your posh English singer sings with an American accent about a load of old American prostitutes he met once and your guitar licks are Grade F. The sooner you die the quicker my Ladbrokes bet comes in between you and McCartney you old dick. I hope you kick the bucket in the most humiliating of ways, like on the toilet and then being eaten by your own dog. Stop living and give us peace you attention seeking non relevant oxygen thief.

Of course, it's an exaggeration. Ladbrokes wouldn't let you place a bet on the death of a famous person.

Mouse takes Marr to Manchester

It's going to be a misty-eyed homecoming for Johnny Marr as he turns up with his new American friends at the last night of their UK tour next month:

ATP Vs The Fans - May 20th
London Royal Albert Hall - 23th
Glasgow ABC - 26th
Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall - 27th
Nottingham Rock City - 28th
Manchester Ritz Ballroom - 29th

Chart show fails to secure re-entry

Five's planned resurrection of CD:UK has been quietly dropped after the project's nanny, director of programmes Dan Chambers left the channel.

Apparently, Dave Berry had been signed up to co-present the second coming of the show, so this is one to file under a 'very narrow escape.'

Ticketmaster find a new cash cow

Jona emails us to bring a new scam to our attention:

I just received an email promising me first go at tickets for the Somerset House gigs, which sound quite enjoyable:

Thursday 12 July Mogwai in surround sound
Friday 13 July Kasabian
Saturday 14 July Bert Jansch featuring Beth Orton and Bernard Butler
Sunday 15 July Guillemots
Monday 16 July Lily Allen
Tuesday 17 July Mika
Wednesday 18 July Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Thursday 19 July The Roots
Friday 20 July Amy Winehouse
Saturday 21 July Hot Chip

Ok, Mogwai and Hot Chip sound enjoyable. Anyway. I was expecting it to be expensive (I'm still paying off the loan for Sigur Ros in 2005), but I certainly didn't expect TicketMaster's £22.50 ticket, £3 'service charge' per ticket, and then the traditional delivery costs.

£2 postage. Ok, I've seen worse. Maybe I can collect it, or perhaps there's some sort of e-ticketing system. Ah, here we go:

ticketFast: NOW (Recommended) £2.00. The quickest delivery method available. Tickets delivered via email so that you can print them out yourself!

! indeed.

Yes, you read the correctly: if you save Ticketmaster the cost of an envelope and a stamp, and use your own ink and paper to print the ticket, Ticketmaster will still charge you exactly the same for 'delivery' as if they were sending you the tickets in an envelope.

We're not even sure what the three quid service charge is meant to cover under these circumstances - you're buying an electronic ticket, from a computer. How does that entail three pounds worth of Ticketmaster's time?

J-Lo heads to London to sue

You can understand J-Lo and Marc Anthony being a little upset at being accused of being "caught up in a heroin scandal" on the basis of little more than an ages-old photo of Anthony stood next to someone on trial on drugs charges.

But is it really on to sue The National Enquirer in the UK courts?

Lawyer Paul Tweed told AP news agency the case would not be held in the US due to legal difficulties. "The First Amendment restrictions in US libel law make it virtually impossible for international celebrities or other high-profile individuals to sue successfully," he said.

"But with the advance of the internet, and with US publications now extending their distribution network into Europe, they must subject themselves to libel laws in these jurisdictions."

Leaving aside the details of the case, this is just the latest in a run of libel tourism cases, where complainants choose to fight not in the country where the libel was committed, but in the nation where they stand the best chance of victory. Sometimes, the publication may have only sold a handful of copies in the jurisdiction where the case is brought, but it's enough to justify the location of the action.

It's good news for British lawyers - the notoriously pro-complainant stance of the UK courts makes us an attractive venue for this sort of action - but it's hardly a fair basis for a legal battle.

And if the main justification for bringing a libel case is to restore a sullied reputation in open court, how can it possibly help to hold that court case thousands of miles from where the main audience who saw the original article reside? If you call my mother a moose in a bar in Vancouver, how does it balance things for you to apologise in public in Croydon?

Manson streams High Street goth

Apparently we've got a higher than usual proportion of Marilyn Manson figurine collectors amongst the readership this morning, as they scramble to tell me what a knob I am; doubtless, they'll already have seen Marilyn Manson's MySpace is streaming the opening track from his forthcoming album.

It's called - no, really - If I Was Your Vampire.

Brian thinks its a new goth epic:

"the new 'Bela Lugosi's Dead', it's [an] all-time gothic anthem."

The over-statement of his own abilities would be amusing if it wasn't for people actually nodding and saying "oh, yes... it's the new Belle And Sebastian's Dad. Yes."

Look out below, Average

The Average White Band nearly got squished after a roof collapsed on the stage of the Riviera Beach jazz festival in Florida just a few minutes after they finished their soundcheck.

It's not clear yet what actually caused the roof to cave in - the stage-riggers have experience of this sort of event, and although city officials are carrying out an investigation, there doesn't appear to have been any extreme weather incidents that might have led to the near-disaster. As it turned out, only one person was injured, and that was a mild cut to the elbow.

The Average White Band pulled out of the show, unhappy with the repairs made to the stage, and although the event went ahead, selective refunds are being offered to make ammends for the bands running three hours late as a result.

The Riviera Beach Jazz Festival is a little ill-charmed; last year, the event made losses of getting on for a quarter of a million dollars. The city is still embroiled in legal action to try and square that particular mess.

Mark Ronson bumps into P Diddy in a surprising nightclub

No, it's not that sort of clubbing surprise - although that would be priceless ("Uh... hang about, is this a gay club? I didn't know that when I came in..." "No... me neither...") - instead, it's just a rather dull anecdote about how cool Diddy is, and, by implication, how cool Ronson is too:

"Diddy's a man of few words, but he's always up for parties. I once ran into him in this seedy part of Miami really far from all the big clubs. I could tell he was completely fucked.

"We were laughing about exactly what two New York hip-hop stars were doing on a Miami back-street.."

How cool the pair of you are, going to clubs where they probably only have the one sort of champagne. This tale of living on the edge might be slightly more impressive if Diddy didn't travel with a security entourage twice the size of the Dutch navy.

Robbie Williams is not getting on with the neighbours

Life imitates Stella Street, as Robbie Williams' next-door neighbour Joe Pesci crashed into his tiresome football-on-the-lawn afternoon to complain about his chums' parking:

"Which one of you motherfuckers blocked my drive?

"If you don't move in 30 seconds, I'm gonna smash your windscreen!"

He was, apparently, waving a golf club around.

The 3AM Girls suggest it's like a scene from Goodfellas, although the large number of paunchy b-list Brits stood around wearing footie kit makes us think more of Escape To Victory, to be honest.

Rehab not exactly medicine says Kiedis

When Avril Lavigne had her pop at Britney for going to rehab, it didn't quite ring true. On the other hand, when Anthony Keidis dismisses time spent amongst group hugs and soft pillows as a pointless exercise, you get the impression that at least he knows a little whereof he talks:

“Rehab is full of a lot of quacks that want to instantly diagnose you as this or that, or with something you might not actually have, just because you’re on a bad drug run or something.

“Then you show up and suddenly they decide you’re manic depressive.

“If you wanna get well, you’ll find a way.”

Of course, the truth is somewhere in between. It might help if journalists stopped using "rehab" when they mean "a refreshing spa break" for a start.

Ferry: I'm not a fascist, I'm an art historian

Bryan Ferry has attempted to apologise for his admiration of the Nazis, stating that he was only enjoying the uniforms and filmmaking:

In a statement released on his behalf, Ferry said he was "deeply upset" by the publicity surrounding the interview.

"I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by my comments on Nazi iconography, which were solely made from an art history perspective," he said.

"I, like every right-minded individual, find the Nazi regime, and all it stood for, evil and abhorrent."

The trouble with praising a regime which murdered millions of people for the quality of their propaganda is that you can't separate the propaganda from the "regime and all it stood for" - it's like saying "well, obviously I don't like the idea of the gulags but you've got to admire the brickwork." The propaganda was so central to Nazi regime that you simply can't look at it and say "he way that the Nazis staged themselves and presented themselves, my Lord!... Just fantastic - really beautiful" any more than you can see a soldier shoot a child in front of its parents and applaud the marksmanship.

What's odd is how Ferry's abhorrence at the Nazis only surfaces a month later, after the story has been picked up in the country where he has the lucrative modeling contract to protect, and not while he was talking about the Nazis in the first place.

Of course, maybe he did stress that he was only taking a cool, detached art historian's view of the apparatus used by mass murderers in their campaign of terror at the time, and that never made it into the version of the comments which followed him back across the Channel. But even so: how can anyone take a detached view of that?

Monday, April 16, 2007

George Michael: Beyond a joke

We've mentioned George Michael's ill-judged stunt of wheeling John Lennon's piano round places of historical misery.

What we hadn't realised at the time was that he's even going to turn Auschwitz into a backdrop for a photo opportunity.

Doesn't he have any friends who could have a quiet word?

Marilyn Manson: I was too immature for Dita

Most of the world has decided that the end of the Marilyn Manson-Dita Von Teese marriage was down to Dita suddenly looking at her husband squeezing himself into PVC before heading off to freak out the straights (or have a chat with his accountant) and saw him as we do.

That's not what Brian thinks, though. He tells Le Parisien newspaper:

"Our relationship ended at Halloween," he tells the paper. "I was completely destroyed psychologically. I'd rented a house and begun working on this disc, which sort of tells everything that happened to me during the past year."

"I was married to someone who wanted me to change," Manson says. "Become more adult, more responsible. I began not to like myself, not like what I do. I lost my identity. Everything began collapsing around me. The record allowed me to put an end to that. Dita left at Christmas while I was recording."

Manson, of course, is an adult; he might wear a clown-like version of Hot Topic wear to earn a living, but he's not a little teenager, much as he'd like to pretend he is.

In fact, now he's dating a teenager, he has actually managed to give his character a genuinely creepy aspect:
"I've found my double, my twin, with my new girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood.

"She's l9 and certainly that's very young but that's not a problem for me. She likes the same things as me. She understands I like to get up when night falls and go to sleep at dawn."

Good lord, he really does sound like a sad old drone propping up a golf club bar. You half expect him to blurt that "a man is only as old as the woman he feels."

Josh Homme doesn't much like Sharon Osbourne

Ozzfest wouldn't be Ozzfest without a disgruntled rock god falling out with Sharon Osbourne, and to mark the 2007 free version of the festival, Josh Homme is doing the falling:

"I won't be playing Ozzfest again - they treat the bands like shit.

"This year you get to play for free under the guise of, 'We're doing it for the fans!' But it's really for the people who fan Sharon and Ozzy with palm fronds at their house."

That's totally unfair. They've not just got one house, have they?

Sharon, of course, has responded with a dignified silence. Oh, alright, she hasn't:
"I hope he gets syphilis and dies. I hope his dick fuckin' falls off so his mother can eat it."

We can't imagine how ITV haven't brought her back for cosy teatime chat.

Venuewatch: No more Tonic

While the whole world apparently gathered to mourn CBGBs, the closure of New York's Tonic to make way for some much-needed luxury condos got a little less press attention, but a bit more cop action. Rebecca Moore and Marc Ribot failed to leave according to the landlord's timetable, so it was time for some heavy-handed legal intervention, as Moore told Time Out New York:

Just updating this story that Marc and I were indeed arrested that day, in our attempt to keep the music playing at Tonic, the performance space this music community had raised over $100,000 dollars in funds to try to keep open and attempt to keep the rent paid. Nothing can pay these insane rents in NYC, no art or community can survive under these circumstances. Brooklyn and Queens are not exempt and falling prey to the same circumstances. It is not a coincidence that the Blue Building Luxury Condo building is now finished, people are moving in to their million dollar residents there, and Tonic has had to shut down. I submitted myself to arrest for this reason, and hope word spreads and others are moved to stand up against real estate being the sole determining factor of what culture and art and music and people get to stay in NYC.

Something to listen to: Father and daughter

On Friday, Loudon Wainwright dropped by Danny Baker's Radio London show [real media; link expires Friday lunchtime; Loudon from an hour in]. He did two songs while he was there, Gray in LA and a snatch of Sixty.

Danny didn't use the opening gambit he'd promised during the trails the day before - "So... Loudon, got any kids?" - but, talking of whom, Martha Wainwright was on this morning's Today [real media; permanent link]. She spoke a little about her family, but they didn't illustrate it with Bloodymotherfuckingarsehole. Not at that time in the morning, anyway.

Travis turn out for radio fundraiser

KCRW's annual fundraising gig pulled a number of surprises on Saturday - not least Travis popping up to do a few songs and, even more unexpectedly, Lily Allen completing a US date. She told the audience that this was her last American gig, so I expect we'll see her back at Heathrow in a couple of days telling us how she can do without US success cause the streets are more street down Carnaby Street.

+/- adds to money/reduces reputation

Chris Deane, who you and your family will know as drummer with +/-, has got himself a whole new gig. In a whole new world. Drumming for Kelly Clarkson.

In a world where the bottom benchmark is set by the Robert Smith/Ashlee Simpson pairing, this isn't the worst decison we can think of.

Deaner is going to carry on with +/- duties in between sitting on a small stall, determining the rhythm while watching Kelly Clarkson from behind.

Timberlake denies sending secret messages

Justin Timberlake's mysterious honking to "stop drinking, you know who you are, I'm speaking to you" at the Brit awards wasn't directed at Britney Spears.

Indeed, Timberlake doesn't seem to know what he was talking about:

"Oh my god, I don't even know anything about this. Honestly I am so far removed from that situation. A coded message to Britney?"

Oddly, he couldn't say what he meant. We're just a little surprised that he hasn't tried to claim responsibility for a 25% sales rise in non-alcoholic lagers, though.

We don't believe this one

The Sun's report on Victoria Beckham being lined up for Dancing With The Stars is so stinking of fish, even the paper's sister website Sky Showbiz is holding its nose as it repeats the story:

A source told The Sun: "We are halfway through the series and it has been massive. A lot is down to Heather.

"We really want Victoria. She's not very popular right now, like Heather wasn't. That's why she'd be perfect.

"Also, she might get pals like Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez to watch her."

In an eight paragraph story, Sky Showbiz mentions that it's only saying what the Sun said three times - it might as well have included an animated gif of Jimmy Hill rubbing his chin and going "RECK-onnnn".

Leaving aside why they'd be casting for dancers to join half-way through, and the pain of the phrase 'she's not very popular right now, like Heather wasn't', and wonder about someone working in TV in America suggesting that Victoria Beckham is "unpopular" (on the scale of the hated Heather Mills or not) rather than "nothing."

Still - Tom Cruise and J-Lo in the audience. That's less Dancing With The Stars than Staring Up Desperately Believing That Some Sort Of Uber-god Is Coming From The Stars.

Universal sends tracks out, naked, into the world

Universal has launched a typically nervous attempt at selling tracks without any DRM, putting a few classical titles up for retailers to offer in the DRM-free format of their own choice. Presumably they think that people who enjoy opera would never steal music as they're inherently honest - look at that nice Conrad Black, for example.

Meanwhile, Amazon have rejigged their plans to flog MP3s - last year's plans to sell its own music player were junked after Microsoft suddenly hung PlaysForSure out to dry as it rushed to launch the Zune. There's meant to be a launch of a new service next month, but it looks as if arguments over Amazon's push for a lower wholesale price and reluctance on the part of Sony-BMG and Warners to get involved could still significantly cut the number of tracks on offer.

America breaks Allen?

Keith Allen's daughter seems to be cooling on the idea of taming America, despite her stylist-heavy performance on Good Morning America. is reporting that a slew of planned US dates have fallen off that famous MySpace site as the owners of First Place in Minneapolis are already refunding ticket holders and after the Klaxons stepped in for her in New York last week.

YouTube don't appear to have Allen on Today, but Google Video does. Being, of course, a totally different thing entirely.

Crawl up to the Winehouse

Oh. Do people really think that Amy Winehouse is a fitting headliner for this year's Camden Crawl? We know that the event has being doing a Glastonbury more and more, but topping it off with the BHS Bassey seems a bit of a step too far - fitting in with the image she's trying to sell rather than fitting in with the general ethos of the event.

Still, Ash are also headlining, so it's not all bad news. Amy will only turn up for the 19th (mysterious cancellations permitting), as will Ash. So you've got to choose.

Bravery in action

Fresh from New York, and plugging their second album (is it really only the second?), The Bravery are coming in July:

Liverpool, Academy 2 – July 10
Newcastle, Academy 2 – 11
Leeds, Cockpit – 12
Sheffield, Leadmill – 14
Nottingham, Rescue Rooms – 15
Birmingham, Academy 2 – 16
London, Electric Ballroom – 17
Stoke, Sugarmill – 20
Bristol, Thekla – 23
Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms – 24
Brighton, Concorde 2 - 25

Emerging from the Bush

Let's try and pretend that what's interesting about Gavin Rossdale is his helmsmanship of Bush and not who he happens to be married to, and at least do the man the politeness of showing an interest in his forthcoming solo record, shall we:

“I am about to go in and record my first solo record. I am working with producer Bob Rock. We have a great band to do the record and we start next week.

“We’ll do half the record in LA and the other half in Hawaii, where Rock lives on the north shore. So as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about that.”

And we're sure the record will be brilliant as he must be full of ideas for it. After all, it's not like he used many up making the same Bush record over and over again, is it?

Jill Speedway swallows bile

Jill Jackson, who was the singer with Speedway until they fell into a million little pieces, has been guzzling snake bile to help her throat:

I've had a cough and sore throat and I was told to drink some snake bile to help me with it.

"The bile is meant to help your throat and I drink it before every gig. You could say it is my new rock charm."

Lets hope she knows what she's doing - as with any self-medication, it's not as simple as taking two aspirin and having a lie-down:
It's time of the year for snake feast but the [Hong Kong] Consumer Council cautions that taking raw snake bile can lead toserious diseases.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine classics, snake meat can drive out "wind", facilitate circulation and alleviate muscle problems; whereas snake bile can clear "heat", eliminate phlegm and tranquilize the mind.

Though snake products may have some benefits for health, consumers are reminded of the risk they bear when eating raw snake products and in particular raw snake bile.

Snake biliary bladder can be purchased from snake shops. After a snake is slaugthered, the whole bladder is removed instantly and stored in wine.

Many people believe that this could sterilize the bladder. But the alcohol content of such wine is usually 30 to50% which is less than the best concentration for disinfection (70%). Further as the biliary bladder sold is intact, the alcohol cannot kill the germs inside.

There have been reports of people taking raw snake bile with serious consequences:

* In 1995, a person in Zhejiang, China, who took snake bile regularly for years fell ill and was found to be infected with a kind of snake parasite.

* In September this year, three Taiwaneses who took snake bile for a week, were found to contract acute hepatitis.

Snake meat and snake bile are used also to make medicinal wine. Excessive consumption of snake and snake bile wines can damage health. People with heart or liver diseases, pregnant women and young children should avoid consuming them.

Perhaps you should stick to the Strepsils, Jill.