Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ah... all a terrible misunderstanding

Des'Ree's forcing of Beyonce to withdraw her reversioned B'Day album over uncleared songs has been explained away as due to a misunderstanding by her management:

A statement from Knowles' management firm Music World Entertainment, reads, "Unfortunately, there were some misunderstandings regarding whether Des'ree's song (I'm) Kissing You was cleared for release in the United States."

Um... isn't that a misunderstanding on the part of Beyonce's management, then?

Mark Ronson surprised by Smiths fans passion

Since Mark Ronson claims to be such a big fan of The Smiths, surely he can't have been surprised by the angry (and, almost certainly empty) threats of violence from other Smiths fans following his throttling the life out of Stop me?:

He says, "The worst one read, 'I want to stab you in the eye.'"

If the Smiths actually meant anything to him, he'd have responded not by telling the press that he was being targetted, but simply by saying "why are you spending valuable time on me, then?"

Posh finds house

We know you'll have been fretting about Victoria Beckham's house hunting, so you'll be delighted to hear she's found a house in LA. A source has been yakking on about it:

"It's a very classy property with some of the most sensational views."

Classy, eh? Never mind, I'm sure they could remodel it.
"They went for just six bedroom and Victoria was anxious to create a modest, cosy family environment."

Yes, one of those small, cosy, six-bedroom ten million quid cottages. Let's hope David isn't always banging his head on the ceiling, eh?

Bez barred from US

The Happy Mondays set at Coachella won't be quite the full deal: Bez was turned back by US immigration. The band have rustled up a statement:

"Because of the tightening of immigration and working visa legislation, Bez was not, unfortunately, able to secure a visa to perform at Coachella this weekend," it said.

"Happy Mondays apologise to all their US fans that they will not, on this occasion, be able to enjoy the spectacle of Bez shaking his stuff for them at Coachella."

The Manchester Evening News is guessing this is down to Bez's drug record, but we can't imagine a drug-bust filter which would allow Shaun Ryder through and capture Bez. It's more likely a work visa thing: "And what is your line of work, Mr. Bez?" is going to be a tricky one to answer, isn't it?

I, alone, could reunite the Roses

Not me, you understand. And even if by some accident - presumably involving pulling a magic letter from a jacket on a train in town or something - I did have the power to bring The Stone Roses back together, I'd probably choose not to use that. It'd only end in tears.

Mani, though, reckons he - and he alone - has the power. He doesn't think it's that compelling an idea, either:

"I'm the only person who could bring it back together again," he told Uncut magazine. "John Squire knows how to craft a tune, Ian Brown knows how to craft a tune. I don't know if any of us are powerful without each other. The magic was the power of four.

"At the end of the day I'm not going to lose any sleep over a reunion, because those days are gone."

We love the idea that The Stone Roses are kind of akin to WITCH - could there be some sort of magic amulet lost in Affleck's Palace which contains their power?

Still, we're taking this as the first step to their reunion on day one of Coachella 2009.

Lost in transubstantiation ? The Jesus And Mary Chain return

On Thursday night, The Jesus And Mary Chain shared a live stage for the first time in getting on for a decade. World Entertainment News Network sounded like it felt cheated:

The Jesus And Mary Chain performed their first gig in nine years on Thursday - although reports actress Scarlett Johansson was to duet with the cult rockers proved unfounded.

They had Annie Hardy from Giant Drag, they had the Jesus and Mary Chain in front of them, playing a gig that, if not quite historic was certainly significant, and they're moaning they didn't get a woman from a cosmetic commercial.

Added to which, nobody expected her for the warm up: she was always going to shimmy on for the main event, the first night of this year's Coachella festival.

Stereogum has pictorial evidence and The Desert Sun reported the required Hollywood star was present and correct:
The Scottish group was playing its first major concert since breaking up in 1999, after a warm-up gig in Pomona with indie rock singer Annie Hardy. But then film star Scarlett Johansson joined them on the main Coachella Stage, singing harmony on the band's classic, "Just Like Honey."

But, as Rolling Stone Rock Daily observed, Johansson was merely a bit part player:
Weirdly, a straw-hat-wearing Scarlett Johannson came out and sang harmonies on “Just Like Honey,” the haunting tune that played over the credits of Lost in Translation. Frontman Jim Reid never introduced or identified her, and some crowd members seemed either oblivious to the movie star’s presence or just way too indie to acknowledge it.

The San Jose Mercury dispatched the glamour girl and quickly got down to what the music world wants to know - how do they sound now?
Johansson looked a bit nervous and left the stage immediately upon finishing the song; she said nothing to the crowd. As to her vocal abilities, she didn’t do anything that anyone else couldn’t do. She may be a capable singer, but this performance didn’t prove anything.

The rest of the set mixed old favorites like “Some Candy Talking” and “Reverence” with a handful of new songs. The band was on good behavior; there were none of the drink- or drug-fueled tirades one might have seen in the ’90s, and they didn’t seem rusty. But overall, it was less exciting than you would hope for the high-profile reunion show of such an influential band. Let’s hope the Rage Against the Machine and Crowded House reunions are more inspired on Sunday.

Ouch. If you come away thinking "blimey, only Crowded House can save my faith in music", that doesn't bode too well.

Reading the NME report, it's clear that the Reids are as cantankerous as ever, and probably not that bothered about lukewarm reactions from Californian papers:
Dressed all in black, they tore through classics including 'Head On' and 'Some Candy Talking' as well as a new song.

"This is fucking unreal," frontman Jim Reid told the massive crowd.

"Are you having fun?" he asked. When the crowd responded positively he quipped, "Well let's see what we can do about that!"

This didn't stop the audience from dancing and cheering throughout their hour-long set.

That observation sounds less like an NME review and more like something you'd expect to hear on a Pathe newsreel from the coronation.

Mind you, Billboard's review sounds like something from Saturday Club, or black and white era kids TV:
The group, which has not toured since 1998, debuted a peppy new song that found frontman Jim Reid singing, "I hope it don't crack."

Well, that is a peppy new tune. Well done, Mr. Reid.

Further proof that MTV knows the sales of everything and the value of nothing, the MTV website was flabbergasted that the Mary Chain reunion could beat Rage Against The Machine:
The surprise there was the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose reunion has been rightfully overshadowed by Rage Against the Machine (clearly the most anticipated band this go-around). Coachella organizers love nothing more than bringing influential late '80s/ early '90s bands back together, even if the results don't always live up to their good intentions. In this case, though, the show was mesmerizing from start to finish and clearly showcased the droning guitar sound (newcomers can reference "Just Like Honey" from "Lost in Translation") that countless acts have ripped off over the years.

The assumption being that, if you're too young to have heard of a band from ten years ago, you might have heard of a movie from five years ago, of course.

Actually, people young enough to not know either seemed to lap it up, according to It Came From Culture City:
Take Gemma Walker -- age "4 and seven-eighths" according to her adult companions -- who was dancing her tail off to Jesus and Mary Chain earlier.

That kid could boogie.

And Gemma is as old as John Peel, compared with René Valentino Garcia, III, who's only two and blogged the set:
Then Jesus and Mary Chain. Mom and dad kept shoving ear plugs in my ears all night. I didn’t like that too much, but at least I got to stay up late.

You'll be thankful when you get to our age that Mom and Dad use ear protection for you, young man.

But even a two year-old might be puzzled: By what standard would MTV argue that the RATM reunion "rightfully overshadowed" the JAMC one? Rage always were one note, and the stuff their descendant bands have been doing since they broke up has been like they've never been away anyway. Not to mention that the bad blood and fighting which the Mary Chain dissolved in made their coming back together a triumph over adversity rather than what seemed to be little more than the orchestration of schedules which reunited the Machine.

But while MTV expected little and found treasure, Entertainment Weekly Popwatch wasn't entirely impressed with the performance:
No one rioted, and the Reid brothers did not break out into fisticuffs on stage. In fact, Jim Reid barely spoke as the set went on, with the exception of asking us if we were having fun and then saying, "Well. We'll see what we can do about that." After a few more songs, certain members of my entourage were comparing his stage presence unfavorably to that of Thom Yorke.

LA Weekly's Style Council suggested that this might be the factor which will allow the Mary Chain to run as long as the Rolling Stones - or maybe longer:
His voice hasn’t changed that much, and neither has his stage presence. This isthe original shoegazer band, he’s 48, but with his mellow stage presence he can play til 80 without having to change much, unlike Mick Jagger.

The kindness of the years to Reids was commented on by The Riverboat Captain, too:
[D]elighted to see their combination Beach Boys on mescalin attack is undiminished despite advancing years.

Which is more than you can say for both the Beach Boys - and, indeed, mescaline.
The Chicago Tribune plumps for a different combination:
Their music always had a brutal edge, and it sounds nasty as ever, with Phil Spector-sized pop melodies run through a torture chamber of screaming guitars.

Only a cameo vocal by a supremely ill-at-ease Scarlett Johansson on “Just Like Honey” strikes a false note.

It was, after all, about the brothers.

25 best albums untainted by the RIAA

We're not entirely sure if Berkeley Square haven't painted themselves into a corner with the rules for their Top 25 Indie albums of all time - fair enough, they're only allowing records which are currently not being released by companies which are members of the RIAA to join in (and they want your suggestions). But this cuts out Joy Division, Sonic Youth and a large slew of other now-big names whose back catalogues have been hoovered up by majors are ruled illegible, which seems a bit of a problem for determining the best indie albums of all time. Still, why not toss your vote into the hat and we can see where we all end up?

After a bad marriage, try a good mandolin

Having been ousted by Andrew Lloyd Webber from the top of the money tree, and facing what must always be described as a "bitter divorce battle" with Heather, where might Paul McCartney find comfort and peace?

In the mandolin shop, that's where:

"I bought a mandolin. It isn't tuned like a guitar so I didn't know my way around it.

The excitement of getting the mandolin, finding new chords - that's really lifted me, that has."

We're not sure if he muttered "I spent six bloody months trying to learn the lute before Sting brought his bloody record out, mind..."

Lets hope he got them back

When Bono trotted up at the Tribeca Film Festival, someone plucked the sunglasses from his well-fed face. They're calling them a fan, but I suspect 'someone who finds the glasses as irritating as can be imagined'. Of course, with the fuss that Bono made when someone took a pair of his stage trousers, let's hope the sunglass plucker handed them back with a formal note of apology, otherwise it's going to be legal action and Bono sobbing "those shades were like children to me" in the witness box.

Robbie Williams is not going to be shunned by Fiddy

Fifty Cent is a shrewd business brain, and so the news that he's seriously thinking of pairing up with Robbie Williams must, we pray, be driven by pounds in his eyes rather than dreams of artistic merit:

"People should look forward to hearing 50 Cent and Robbie together. He's keen to explore hip hop.

"He's got a very distinctive voice and with the right song we could work well together."

Still, we look forward to the inevitable "who can take their shirt off the most" video, which will be in No Way Gay At All.

Andre: It's Meningitis (but not the really bad sort)

So, they've got a diagnosis for Peter Andre, and because it has the word "Meningitis" in it, it's allowed the Sun to splash:

Andre has brain bug meningitis

Although it then concedes:
SUN Doctor Carol Cooper said: “Viral meningitis is pretty unpleasant. There’s no specific treatment. Painkillers, fluids and rest are needed.

“Peter must take it very easy. Extreme tiredness, headaches and depression can continue for weeks.”

That sits fairly awkwardly with the paper's other talk of vigils and brain scans. Would it really have taken a week to diagnose this?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Patrick: I was crying Wolf

Patrick Wolf's announcement that he was going to retire from live performance this November has sent him scrambling for an explanation to allow him to climb down gracefully. Having failed, he's told Pitchfork that he didn't mean when he posted the message on a public board on the internet for people to read it:

Um, yeah. I really want people to know that I never released a press release about this issue. I wasn't trying to get published by anybody. I was just writing a very close community of fans. Somebody took that and turned it into a big story, and it's gotten out of control. I just want people to know that, first of all, I never said I was quitting music, and second of all, I never did it in a public way.

I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have music in my life, and this is going to turn into some kind of horrendous Mariah Carey speech, but the music has led me through many adventures and disasters and good times and total lonely times and for me to say I was going to quit music is like saying I'm going to commit suicide. It's the most extreme thing that could happen in my life. That would make me miserable, so I would never say I was quitting music, because I would never know where to start.

Pitchfork: So what did you mean by that message board post?

PW: This year's been strange because The Magic Position is about a relationship that happened a year ago, a very serene and magical time, between me and an artist called Ingrid Z. And I'm having to come and be like a vessel for all these songs, but I'm an honest performer as well. I don't even like to use the word "performance." I don't want to be a traveling businessman or salesman for my work. I want to be a musician that sings and feels and makes people feel, and when something becomes too repetitive, then I feel like I'm not doing my job.

The bad habit that I've had in the last six years since I released my first EP was to not even think that I'm a human being, that I need to sleep or to eat or to go to the toilet or have sex or anything. I just go, "Okay, I'm going on tour for the next year. Goodbye, everyone." And then I say, "Yeah, sure I'll do seven hours of interviews before a show." I do all this, and I enjoy it, but there's a certain time in every musician's life, you've got to realize-- I'm kind of like Britney Spears in a way. I've been doing it as a teenager, so I'm kind of trying to start thinking about being a human so I can start to make my work again. I have to be like the mother and father of my work and say, "It's time to go to bed, Patrick, and it's time not to open your mouth, and it's time to create."

So... erm, that's clearer then: when he posted something on the internet you weren't supposed to read it and what he meant seems to have been "It's a shit business."

That makes it a lot clearer.

Britney: Back to the dancefloor

We imagine the news that Britney Spears is plotting a series of "semi-secret" gigs (we don't know how something can be semi-secret, unless it's details of a terrorism raid or something) in Los Angeles is down to some sort of reality show where they take people back to what they used to do before they were famous.

E! reckons there's to be a string of gigs next week. Apparently they're going to be brilliant, says the manager of the strip joint she's rehearsing in:

Club owner Ivan Kane confirmed Britney "came on stage during rehearsal, looking very hot, with four dancers and sang three songs."

"They ran through the set several times, the choreography was smokin' and she sounded great", said Kane.

More backing dancers than songs. Why does this sound - enthusiasm of a bloke who picks strippers aside - not that enticing?

The end of the Popworld

The last redoubt of pop on old-style television, Popworld, has been cast into the same darkness as both its spin-off magazines.

To be honest, ever since Simon Amstell jumped ship there's been dwindling point, but Channel 4 tells the MediaGuardian that it's keen to keep the Popworld "brand" alive, and that T4 would carry on sticking the odd music video out between reruns of Friends:

Channel 4, which has a minority stake in Popworld Ltd, said it was committed to the brand and would try and develop it elsewhere.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 said "Channel 4 has decided not to recommission Popworld, T4's flagship music show for the last six years.

"The show has performed very successfully over this period but we are keen to continue to use our T4 platform as a launch pad for new music formats that reflect our audience's tastes and the way in which they consume music."

We're not sure, since it's flopped in print and crashed on telly, quite what the Popworld "brand" might be worth now - perhaps HP are too far along the road developing Alex Zane shaped spaghettis to stop now, and so Popworld Pasta Shapes will soon grace the shelves. There is a Popworld website, but it's so far out of the loop nobody has bothered to tell it that the plug has been pulled.

The needle returns to the start of the song

We know you've been wondering "whatever happened to Del Amitri", haven't you?


Well, if you had been, since the band were dropped half a decade ago, Justin Currie has been seeking a new deal, and he's finally got one. To the delight of at least one postman:

"I had a cup of coffee and walked the two blocks to my local post office.

"There, I was served by a man who knows me as the singer of Del Amitri and with whom I have had many friendly conversations about my activities or lack of them.


"He was the man who franked the 50 or so jiffy bags containing my record Rebound that I sent out to various friends and acquaintances in the music business in the summer of 2005.

"He always commiserates with me on my lack of progress, shakes his head in dismay and wishes me well.

"On Monday, he asked how my epic and tortuous journey in search of a record deal was going and I smiled broadly at him, and pointed at the white envelope.

"That's it in there. I just signed it today.

"He grinned very briefly and then set about his work, carefully re-writing the intended recipient's address on an adhesive label, before attaching it and stamping the upper right hand corner of the envelope with a machine.

"Then he handed back to me a ticket and receipt, so that I could be sure that it would arrive where it was supposed to before one o'clock the following day."

We're not entirely sure, but we suspect that Currie might have been sponsored by the Royal Mail in some way. We half expected him to detail the attractive and collectable stamps used on the packet.

Macca "might need second job soon"

The Sunday Times has done one of its regular rich lists where - through a mixture of inspired guesswork and watching what various people buy a Waitrose - they calculate what the great, the good, and the famous are worth. This time round, the focus of the pre-publicity is on the music millionaires.

The richest person in the UK music industry turns out, slightly disappointingly, to be Clive Calder (£1.3bn), although since he flogged Zomba five years ago and lives, for tax purposes, in the Cayman Islands, we're not sure he quite counts on either UK or music industry scores.

Which makes the richest person in music Andrew Lloyd Webber (£750m) - who has benefited both from the bounce of The Sound of Music and from a marking down of Paul McCartney (£725m). Macca has dropped to third place, but they seem to have already subtracted the cost of divorcing the Second Mrs McCartney.

The Rolling Stones, if you add all their wealth together, are worth £570m - getting dangerously close to being overhauled by U2, worth £480m in total.

What's really sweet is the paper adds together Madonna and Guy Ritchie's wealth - although presumably they rounded Guy's up to a full pound.

The top ten in full, then:

1 Clive Calder £1.3bn
2 Andrew Lloyd Webber £750m
3 Sir Paul McCartney £725m
4= Simon Fuller £450m
4= Sir Cameron Mackintosh £450m
6 Madonna & Guy Ritchie £275m
7 Sir Elton John £225m
8 Sir Mick Jagger £215m
9 Robert Stigwood £212m
10=Sir Tom Jones £190m
10=Keith Richards £190m
12 Sting £185m
13 Jamie Palumbo £165m
14= Roger Ames £160m
14= Olivia and Dhani Harrison £160m
16 Sir Tim Rice £155m
17= Eric Clapton £140m
17= Ringo Starr £140m
19 Phil Collins £135m
20= David Bowie £120m
20= Barry and Robin Gibb £120m

There's a separate list of "young" rich musicians, although the definition of young seems to be a little stretchy:

1 Vanessa-Mae Nicholson £32m
2= Guy Berryman £30m
2= Jonny Buckland £30m
2=Will Champion £30m
2= Chris Martin £30m
6 James Blunt £18m
7= Charlotte Church and Gavin Henson £10m
7= Joss Stone £10m
9= Craig David £9m
9= Will Young £9m

Vanessa Mae is thirty next year, which hardly makes her young in our book - if we were organising this list, we'd use the criteria of "would they look avoid looking silly if they wore trainers with wheels in?" - but the real surprise is Craig David being worth so much - we can only conclude he's had a couple of lucky scratchcards.

Never say never again

Although he said he'd never sing it again - which we took to be a promise - it turns out Elton John is thinking of doing Candle In The Wind, his song about Marilyn MonoreDiana as the grand finale to the Diana concert - with the threat that other people on the bill might come along to honk in the background.

Which we really can't see - it's hardly a Chas and Dave style knees up round the old joanna, is it?

Still, at least it'll mean that people can start heading to the car park early.

Andre: Still ill

I suppose if he is really sick - and he's been taking up a hospital bed for five days while doctors try and work out what's wrong with him - we shouldn't respond with the obvious response to the news that Peter Andre has been given a brain scan. It writes itself, doesn't it?

Seriously, though the man and his wife may be a blight on the British media, nobody should wish them this sort of ill. Get well soon, Peter, and then think about stepping out of the spotlight.

Not the same old same old

BananaramaRetrofest - which, effectively, is like a cross between the Here & Now tours and The Big Chill, in that it's old bands hanging round in the fields of a castle. Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, in fact.

Organisers are inviting you - yes, you - to send them an mp3 of you singing; the "best" will be invited to play a three-song set at the festival. Of course, the standards aren't that high, as Hue And Cry are going to be playing a full set so you can probably get away with the odd bum note.

Also playing will be The Human League, ABC, Bananarama and - if the organisers manage it - Michael Jackson. But we'd not expect Michael Jackson, to be honest.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eve blows into the little bag

Following a smash in her Maserati, Eve has gotten herself arrested on a DUI charge. She's been released on thirty grand bail; back in court on May 17th.

Bubble boy bounces back

The Lefsetz Music analysis letter had taken a fairly roboust view of the Cartel stunt (they're the band making a record in a big bubble). Despite the claims that they'd only have "limited" contact with outside world, singer Will Pugh has responded with a very, very long justification:

See, we only have one record. We’re about to record our 2nd. People don’t really know us from any other band on the radio or mtv. All that is about to change. This bubble shit is stirring up all kinds of dust around the music world. Its something people find ridiculous. People think we’re crazy, sellouts, whores and everything else negative they can think of. Some people see it as cool. (I would venture to say that most of these people don’t have their head up their asses about music in the sense that they don’t think they are the definitive source on music knowledge or "what’s wrong with the industry"). The big point is that people who have never heard of us are hearing about us now. I know that great bands get out there some way…..but how long does that take. Even the upstarts from left field don’t have a career long enough to even call them road tested…..shit, some of them have played less than 100 shows ever by the time they "make it".


This marketing scheme shows the world that we are a real band with real inspiration and real songs. Not some american idol winner or a label lottery contestant. People get to see us do what we do under intense pressure and scrutiny and still hit a fucking grand slam while in the meantime people in your position are hating like there’s no tomorrow on a band that they know little to nothing about.

No, Will, it doesn't show you to be anything of the sort - because, at the end of the stunt, you're going to be "the bubble band boys". Whatever else you do. You may be great artists, but when desire for fame persuades you to put on a silly wig, a pair of outsized comedy glasses and repeat catchphrases, that's what you become. That's what you are now.

Pugh then goes on to have a go at what I suspect only severe self control spared him from labeling "h8ers and hipsters":
Popular music is still the standard. Every legendary artist is the most popular at what they do and have accrued many platinum records……why? Because millions of people like their music….not the 500k or so indie kids who are too busy sucking their thumbs to realize that a really good band is being passed by because they "soldout".

Although the time sits heavily on his hands, he hasn't found time to think this through: "every legendary artist is the most popular at what they do" - really? So, then, Eric Clapton isn't a legend, as he's sold fewer records than McCartney? And someone like Ivor Cutler doesn't count as a legend at all on this scale because he's not sold many records. We've argued before that simply selling records doesn't really mean that you're the best liked artist - it just means that you're quite liked by a lot of people; it certainly is no guarantor of quality or of depth of inspiration you provide to others. A simple glance at the charts any week should have alerted Pugh to this fact.

Ah, but he has a rejoinder:
Call this my manifesto but for one I’m sick of all the ninnies running around acting like they know anything about what it takes to create music. To all of them and you I ask……where’s your albums?

Well, I might not have made any records. But neither have I pissed away weeks of my life like some Victorian fairground curiosity in a big bubble making a record.

What Cartel are doing is not about trying to make a recording which will resonate with people; they're trying to sell records. It's possibly no less a noble aim, but Mr. Pugh, you are making an exhibition of yourself in the name of commerce, not art.

Matadors arising

The lovely Matador label has been doing things for eighteen years, which means it can go out drinking on its own. To celebrate, it's inviting you to design a new tshirt for the label. The prize is probably better than having to meet Kelly Osbourne on Project Catwalk.

Noveltyobit: Bobby Pickett

Best known for the novelty hit The Monster Mash, Bobby 'Boris' Pickett is now making a graveyard smash of his own. He's died at the age of 69.

A childhood watching horror movies at his father's cinema led Robert Pickett to develop a passable impression of Boris Karloff. This provided a useful stand-by when Pickett entered showbusiness - it brightened nightclub performances by his band the Cordials, with Pickett slipping in a bit of Boris to enliven the spoken stretches of their covers of 50s standards.

Fellow Cordial Lenny Capizzi was Dr Frankenstein to Pickett's Monster Mash, badgering Bobby to turn the mid-set gag into a single. Bobby remembers Lenny's suggestion:

"You know, we ought to do a novelty record with that voice. Take it to Gary Paxton, who sang 'Alley Oop,' he'll produce it, and, you know, it could be a hit. You never know!"

When Bobby finally agreed, the track came swiftly - half hour to write, two hours to record - although finding a label proved more tricky. The labels which turned it down must sometimes rue their decision, as the song not only hit the charts three times (it took just eight weeks from conception to top the charts), but has sold four million copies and become what Variety describes as a "Christmas carol for Halloween". Pickett was happy enough to be associated with the song, happily turning out to perform it right up until November last year.

NASA use the Monster Mash to wake up astronauts in space on October 31st; there was a less-memorable follow up (Monster's Holiday) and a non-monster related single, Graduation Day.

Pickett died from leukemia; he is survived by his daughter.

Cam'Ron tries to clarify his 'no snitching' rule

Cam'rons insistence that nobody should talk to the authorities, like one of Grouty's henchmen, has been raising eyebrows amongst the sort of people he needs to do deals with in order to continue flogging his records, and so he's attempted to issue a clarification:

"In 2005, I was a victim of a violent crime. I was shot multiple times without provocation by two armed men who attempted to carjack my vehicle. Although I was a crime victim, I didn't feel like I could cooperate with the police investigation. Where I come from, once word gets out that you've cooperated with the police that only makes you a bigger target of criminal violence. That is a dark reality in so many neighborhoods like mine across America. I'm not saying its right, but its reality. And it's not unfounded. There's a harsh reality around violence and criminal justice in our inner cities.

"But my experience in no way justifies what I said. Looking back now, I can see how those comments could be viewed as offensive, especially to those who have suffered their own personal tragedies or to those who put their lives on the line to protect our citizens from crime. Please understand that I was expressing my own personal frustration at my own personal circumstances. I in no way was intending to be malicious or harmful. I apologize deeply for this error in judgment."

Yes, the whole frustration of "if I lived next door to a serial killer I wouldn't tell the police" was self-evident.

Look, we don't want to sound like Shaw Taylor, but surely part of the reason why people are able to run around shooting other people at will is because of this half-arsed code of secrecy. Still, at least Cam'ron has admitted that what he was trying to pass off as a moral code is actually simply moral cowardice.

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Monkeys overrun the singles chart

The wires ping again with more thoughts from HMV's spokesperson, Gennaro Castaldo. He's been thinking about the possibility that the availability of each track from the Arctic Monkeys new album as individual downloads on iTunes could mean something sort-of-historic is going to happen this weekend. Indeed, it's had Castaldo reaching for the golden musical yardstick. The Beatles:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "The Arctic Monkeys are currently on course to have a total of 18 songs in the top 200 when the next Official UK Charts are announced on Sunday.

"You'd probably have to go back to the heyday of the Beatles in the early-mid Sixties to find anything that could come close to matching this record.

"On the chart albums front, sales of Favourite Worst Nightmare continue to power ahead.

"The album looks set to go through the 250,000 mark by the end of the week - making it the fastest selling album since the Arctic Monkeys' Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not.

"This not only underlines the growing iconic status of the Arctic Monkeys as the UK's leading rock act, but visibly demonstrates how the recent changes to the rules governing chart eligibility have impacted on the make-up of the charts."

It also, if you think about it, shows how far physical record shops like HMV have drifted from being at the forefront of music sales, but presumably that's a thought that would keep Gennaro awake at night.

What's much more interesting is the relative positions of each track:

Brianstorm (midweek - top 5)
Fluorescent Adolescent (top 50)
505 (top 60)
Teddy Picker (top 70)
Balaclava (top 70)
D Is For Dangerous (top 70)
Old Yellow Bricks (top 70)
This House Is A Circus (top 75)
Do Me A Favour (top 75)
Only Ones Who Know (top 75)
The Bad Thing (top 80)
If You Were There, Beware (top 120)

Brianstorm is, of course, a single and so we can probably discount the lead that has over the other tracks, but the distance between Fluorescent Adolescent and If You Were There, Beware is quite wide. It's probably slightly queasy viewing for record company executives pondering the future of their industry, as even a band who inspires such slavish devotion would have difficulty shifting all the tracks on album if offered on their own merits rather than as part of a package.

Half an orb: Hartnoll tours

Exactly fifty percent of Orbital, Paul Hartnoll is going it alone with a series of gigs and festival appearances. He should have called himself Liverpool Ring Road, you know, what with that project having been abandoned before it was finished so it's not actually an Orbital road, but he hasn't.

The dates:
Sunday, Aug 5 Big Chill Festival Eastnor Castle, UK
Friday, August 31 Electric Picnic County Laois, Ireland
Sunday, September 2 Connect Music Festival Inveraray Castle, Scotland
Tuesday, September 4 The Roundhouse London
Wednesday, September 5 The Bridgewater Hall Manchester

I imagine you could take the Big Chill as read, to be honest; if there isn't at least one of Orbital there at the very least they can't start the generators. Scientific fact.

Shit hits their plans

Shitdisco's UK tour has been axed following Joel falling ill. Their statement explains further:

Joel became seriously ill in Aberdeen on Monday, went to hospital and was kept in overnight for tests. Aberdeen was cancelled. Joel discharged himself in the morning and travelled down with his bandmates to Newcastle where his condition deteriorated and had to go back to hospital. He's now stable but is in no state to play, doctors plan to run more tests in the next few days as they're still not actually sure what is wrong with him. Unfortunately then Shitdisco have had to pull the rest of the UK dates, Hull on 25th, London Kings College 26th and Manchester 27th. Joel and the band hope to be 'OK' for their European tour which starts early May.

We're always amazed when we hear people have discharged themselves from hospital - it's the NHS, for god's sake, they're not exactly known for keeping people in their beds unless there's some bloody good reason.

Stripes around the world

Coca-Cola's very own White Stripes have just announced a sledge full of dates around the globe. This is the itinerary in full:

06-01 Nuerburgring, Germany - Rock Am Ring Festival
06-02 Nurnberg, Germany - Rock Im Park Festival
06-04 Vienna, Austria - Gasometer
06-06 Rome, Italy - Tenda Strisce
06-07 Milan, Italy - Idroscalo
06-09 Lisbon, Portugal - Alive Festival
06-11 Paris, France - Zenith
06-14 London, England - Hyde Park (O2 Wireless Festival)
06-15 Leeds, England - Harewood House (O2 Wireless Festival)
06-17 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo Festival
06-24 Burnaby, British Columbia - Deer Lake Park
06-25 Whitehorse, Yukon - Yukon Arts Centre
06-26 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Shorty Brown Multiplex Arena
06-27 Iqaluit, Nunavut - Arctic Winter Games Arena
06-29 Calgary, Alberta - Pengrowth Saddledome
06-30 Edmonton, Alberta - Shaw Convention Center
07-01 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - TCU Place
07-02 Winnipeg, Manitoba - MTS Centre
07-03 Thunder Bay, Ontario - Community Auditorium
07-05 Toronto, Ontario - Molson Amphitheatre
07-06 Montreal, Quebec - Bell Centre
07-07 London, Ontario - John Labatt Centre
07-08 Ottawa, Ontario - LeBreton Flats Park (Ottawa Bluesfest)
07-10 Moncton, New Brunswick - Moncton Coliseum Arena
07-11 Charlottetown, Price Edward Island - Charlottetown Civic Centre
07-13 Halifax, Nova Scotia - Cunard Centre
07-14 Glace Bay, Nova Scotia - Savoy Theatre
07-16 St. John's, Newfoundland - Mile One Center
07-22 Portland, ME - Cumberland Civic Center
07-23 Boston, MA - Agganis Arena
07-24 New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
07-25 Wallingford, CT - Chevrolet Theater
07-27 Wilmington, DE - Grand Opera House
07-28 Fairfax, VA - Patriot Center
07-29 North Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues
07-30 Birmingham, AL - Sloss Furnaces
07-31 Southaven, MS - Snowden Grove Park Amphitheater

Okay, so most of them are in the Americas, and those that aren't are festivals, and Meg White has never been in the pay of Coke as far as we know. But other than that...

Jesus in a box

Exciting news from Rhino Records: they're working with Jim Reid to pull together a Jesus and Mary Chain rarities box set. 80-ish tracks, with around a dozen that have never been heard before outside of The Reid brothers' world.

Grohl reluctant to mix with Blunt

The Foo Fighters are worrying who they might end up having to get undressed in front of when they play Live Earth this summer:

Grohl thinks he's "too cool" to share a room with some of the "different" acts like James Blunt and John Legend

Well, that's an understandable attitude for an event which is supposed to make us put aside petty differences and all work together.

But who, then, does Grohl feel comfortable to hang about with:
"There's some people on the bill that probably wouldn't be seen in the same room as us. But hey man, I'll party with anybody. You know me. "It could be Madonna, if she wants to come do a couple of shots of Jagermeister with her friend Dave she's more than welcome to come into the room and I'll pour her some chilli shots of whisky, it'll be great!"

It's only when you're at the elevated level of the Foo Fighters that Madonna seems 'cool' rather than the Madonna who stands before us.

Cranberries juiced

Apparently, the "sheltered upbringing" Dolores O'Riordan had made it difficult for her to cope with being in The Cranberries:

"I used to say, 'That's the entertainer, but I'm not that person'. That's how I used to try and deal with it, which isn't very healthy really.

"I often see young people doing that, referring to themselves in the third person."

Young people talking about themselves in the third person? "George is getting upset", for example?
At the time you think that's okay. But later on you go, 'That's crazy.'"

The trouble is, of course, if you've created a version of yourself who is outside of yourself, convincing them that they're crazy is going to be an existential nightmare. No wonder the Cranberries albums got so terrible so quickly, if Dolores had been too busy trying to convince herself that she was simultaneously crazy and sane while they were being recorded.
But if you grow up in the green fields, and you rarely go into the city, you're so overprotected that when you do go to LA it's almost a bigger slap in the head."

And, of course, you have absolutely no choice but to go to LA. None whatsoever.

Maybe someone should write a book or something that warns people that LA is a nasty place, do you think?

Xerox won't let you copy

The Xerox Teens aren't the Xerox Teens any more; The Xerox Corporation, a shady organisation that is dedicated to the overthrow of democracy and installation of aliens as our overlords working under the front of selling photocopiers, have insisted they change their names.

The band have dropped the 'ero' from the middle of their names and will now be known as Xerox Teens, although had it been us, we'd have secured agreement from Lexmark to adopt the name Lexmark Teens.

They're heading off out on tour to celebrate their new name:

May 14th - Stoke Sugarmill
May 15th - Leicester Charlotte
May 16th - Birmingham Barfly
May 17th - Sheffield Fuzz
May 18th - Newcastle Digital
May 19th - Brighton Great Escape Festival (Artrocker Stage)
May 21st - Manchester Night & Day
May 23rd - Glasgow Firewater
May 24th - Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
May 25th - Swindon Brunel Rooms
May 26th - London Bethnal Green Working Men's Club

Presumably Princess Diana did care about black people, then

The official announcement about the line-up for the Diana Concert did include a name not offered by Victoria Newton this morning: Kanye West. That's a bit of a drift rightwards from the straight-talking hero of the Katrina benefit, isn't it?

Geoffrey Matthews, the concert's project director, said that Prince Harry was still set for deployment in Iraq and that it was likely he would be allowed leave to attend the event.

He added that the princes would appear on stage in some capacity.

He said there was no final guest list regarding which Royals would attend but that the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were not expected to be there.

"It's more of a fun-filled, younger generation event."

The implication, of course, being that nothing kills fun like having Charles and Camilla there.

And let's not run away with the idea that it's hard to find anyone who wants to play the event:
Mr Matthews said some artists wanted to take part but were unable too due to busy schedules, although he declined to name them.

Yeah... July 1st is a busy day: dry cleaning to pick up, plans to have a go at sorting out the lagging, trips to the Pipe Museum arranged. Nothing that you'd be able to put off in order to play an event getting multinational live TV and radio coverage.

Fred gee-gees

As part of the launch activities for the Sandown Park Gold Cup, on Friday the racecourse is offering people called Fred free entry to the races. The downside is that they've also got Right Said Fred (described by ThisIsLocalLondon as "former chart-toppers" which does rather rub their noses in their reduced circumstances) playing too. All the Fred stuff is down to the sponsors of the Whitbread Gold Cup not being Whitbread any more.

Snoop: Now Oz says no

Snoop Dogg is starting to pile up extra time off - following the refusal of the UK to grant him a visa to tour with Piff Dodgy over here, now Australia has asked him not to come. Which is less surprising: John Howard's Australia is hardly the most welcoming place at immigration anyway.

Snoop, it seems, is not the sort of bloke you'd want running amok in the wilderness:

"The reality is in relation to this man, that he was given a warning the last time, he has a whole string of convictions, and just two weeks ago I was told he was convicted on a number of charges again and sentenced to three years' imprisonment on two, and three years' imprisonment on another, with five years' probation and a suspended sentence,"[Immigation minister Kevin] Andrews said on Macquarie radio today.

"He has been denied entry into the United Kingdom because he was caught with others causing affray at Heathrow Airport. He doesn't seem the sort of bloke we want in this country."

The question, of course, is why - if Dogg isn't an appropriate bloke for Australia - he was given a visa in the first place.

Jesus wants Chris Moyles for a sunbeam

Two bishops want to ensure that Radio 1 is forced to include some sort of religious element amongst its ungodly schedule of Moyles and Murray. The BBC Trust is currently interfering in what the various networks are supposed to do, and the Anglican Bishop of Manchester and the Catholic's Chair of the Communications Board Bishop want God to at least get a look in on the Live Lounge:

The bishops' concern is that this inconsistency in the way religion is treated will not help the Trust to govern effectively. In their submission, they also observe: 'Unless religion is appropriately included in the Radio 1 licence, audience needs may not be met.'

We're at a loss to understand what need might be going unmet by not having a god slot on one of the four major networks. With a shedload of religious (albeit mainly Christian) broadcasting elsewhere on the BBC, is it really so important to have another land-grab? Radio 1 does do religion as part of its mix anyway; spare them the imposition of another bloody quota.

We'd suggest that maybe Newsbeat might want to make the Bishops dreams of hearing more about the church on Radio 1 come true - covering the Archbishop of Canterbury's pronouncement that Tony Blair should "have prayed with George Bush" before dropping depleted uranium onto children, or working with Today to report on cover-ups of sexual abuse in the church.

Well, that's us told

Paolo Nutini has been stung, it seems, by criticism of his singing:

After performing Alloway Groove [at his Brixton Academy gig], the Paisley soulman asked: "Does that sound like an old woman to you?"

The audience apparently thought not - although half a dozen people did turn to each other and say "oh... he's a young bloke, is she?" - but then asking people who've lashed out to come and see you live "do you agree with people who say I'm a bit rubbish" isn't the most honest way to conduct a survey, is it?

Free Willie

Willie Nelson has avoided prison after cops discovered dope on his tour bus. Appearing in court Tuesday, he was fined $1000 and put on probation for six months.

When he emerged, Nelson shook hands, signed scraps of paper and posed for photographs.

The BBC missed it, though, as they were showing EastEnders.

Sorry... wrong Nelson.

Victoria Newton Without Pity

The remorseless demands of The Sun production schedule has finally given Victoria the chance to provide the all important coverage of Heather Mills' exit from Dancing With The Stars:

AT last American viewers have seen sense and booted LADY MUCCA off Dancing With The Stars.

Are you suggesting, Victoria, that five weeks in, the American public suddenly went - en masse "Woah... that's the lady who has been mean to Paul McCartney... pass me the phone, Ethel"? Or rather than "seeing sense" and "booting her off", all that's happened is that someone in a competition where people are voted off one-by-one has only made it through to the middle of the series?
SIR PAUL McCARTNEY’s estranged wife was voted off the reality TV show after a poor performance with dance partner Jonathan Roberts.

So, rather than "seeing sense" and "booting her off", erm, actually she was eliminated because she wasn't very good this week?
Heather then stunned the presenters, viewers — and her dance partner — by pulling out a ready-prepared speech from her sequined costume.

Mills doesn't help herself much, does she?
The presenters struggled to get a word in edgeways as Mucca reeled off a long list of thank-yous and demanded viewers go vegan for a day and “change the world”.

Mills really doesn't help herself much.
She fled America in a strop, snubbing a top chat show. TV comic Jimmy Kimmel who had lined Heather up as star guest, told viewers she had gone home, adding: “She hates America.”

As, you know, one of those joke things, we imagine. Although Heather wasn't "a star guest" - she was billed as "fifth eliminated celebrity from Dancing with the Stars." We hope for her sake that the appearance on Kimmel wasn't written into her Stars contract.

She could have met Iggy Pop if she'd gone on. Maybe they'd have even hit it off.
He then ridiculed Macca’s ex — dubbed Lady Mucca due to her porn past — with a spoof montage of her dance moves.

"Dubbed Lady Mucca" by, erm, Victoria and nobody else in the entire world, of course. Newton then details Kimmel's rather weak sketch (woodpeckers attacking Heather's prosthetic leg, that sort of thing) which, of course, must have been prepared in advance of the show knowing that Mills was (a) the one voted off this week and (b) wasn't going to appear, so would have been conceived in the spirit of "good-natured joshing" rather than "ridicule".
In a final clip, the charity campaigner’s leg flew off mid-dance — smacking an audience member in the face.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.

We're not quite sure if Newton is saying that about the audience member being hit by the leg, Mills not appearing on Kimmel, or Mills being voted off, but the motivation is secondary. A journalist on a national newspaper has just filed copy which ends with "good riddance to bad rubbish, I say". Where do you go from there, Newton? Should the Sun's subs be checking the correct spelling of "nyaah nyaah ni-nyaah nyaah"? Are you going to have an alternative photo byline with you sticking your tongue out? The next time one of your exclusives turns out to be built on sand, you could end it with "and then I woke up and it was all a dream."

And then I woke up, and it was all too horribly real.

The sound you can hear is the ghost of Diana throwing herself down stairs again

It's coming from Victoria Newton, so it may well be wrong, but she's suggesting the line-up for the Diana concert is going to be officially swollen today with Keith Allen's daughter, Rod Stewart and Natasha Bedingfield.

Rod we're not surprised by, but Lily Allen? A kissin' the hand of the delightful piano-playing Princes? We'd never have had her down as a forelock tugger. And, to be honest, we can't really picture her fitting in the "sort of bands that Diana would be listening to now, had she been wearing a seatbelt" basis of the booking policy.

Are we the only people who think of Natasha Bedingfield as being like Melchester Rovers? You read about her being really successful and popular, but you know that's only in some world made-up, not in the real world that we actually live in.

It looks like it's almost as hard to find attractions for the Diana gig as it is to find a coroner for the Diana inquest.

Guns N Arrrrrhgggh

Guns N Roses have pulled out of the My Coke Festival in South Africa after Tommy Stinson hurt his hand. And it's not like Guns N Roses are the sort of band who'd just replace members with other people, is it?

Actually, Axl did alright without Stinson for about half a gig a couple of months ago after Rose criticised Eagles of Death Metal onstage. So it's not even like they'd need a replacement.

Is it just us, by the way, or does Tommy Stinson sound like one of the unlikely children's names you get in King Street Junior?

Anyway, let's hope this doesn't throw the release schedule for Chinese Democracy in doubt, eh?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Get into Corin Tucker's erm... strings

More charity eBay auction action: a range of decorated guitars being sold to benefit Buckman Elementary in Portland. Included are instruments decorated by the Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney and Modest Mouse.

Dragging on

The status of Giant Drag was thrown into something of some confusion when Mich left: look, back in December, we said we're confused. Happily, talking to LA Weekly, Annie Hardy has confirmed they're (she's?) still a going concern:

Micah quit the band. I’m continuing on without Micah. I love Micah but I knew he wasn’t gonna be in GD forever. It’s my songs and my passion. He just got sick of it… sick of the traveling… of the business aspect. Of being broke and homeless.

So who are you gonna be performing with? Will you be singing accapella? Is there a new band?

I haven't got a steady band. Right now it’s the Adored, they fired their lead singer; there’s only three of them.”

So: Giant Drag still going. Adored, we're not so sure about.

Get into Courtney Love's pants

Yes, we know, every time there's a celebrity auction we use the same headline, but it provides a degree of consistency that would otherwise be sorely lacking.

This time it's Courtney Love, who's getting rid of what she claims are her pre-slimming clothes on eBay. We know some people might feel a little queasy about wearing something that Courtney had rubbed herself on, but since she hardly wore anything for very long, you won't have to worry too much.

All profits raised from the sale go to charity; it's not known if she intends to start flogging off the bucket they gave after the liposuction she didn't have.

Warners ends its Napster nightmare

The final accounting from the end of the popular version of Napster continues. After EMI, Warners have become the latest label to settle with Bertelsmann over its ownership of late-period file-sharing brand. Money has changed hands, Bertelsmann has refused to admit wrong doing, and now everyone is going to move on and prepare for the new millennium.

Someone's annoyed by you, Boris Yeltsin

It's not quite up there with the sudden problem faced a few years back by I Am The World Trade Center, but Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin are having an awkward time now that Boris had thrown his vodka glass of life into the mortal fireplace. Philip Dickey is squirming slightly:

"I feel really awkward. This is the busiest my phone and email have ever been in my life."

He explained that the band have had the name for a while, despite it seeming like a timely attention-seeking move.

He told Radar: "We had this national release in October. I don't blame people if they suspect that this is just us wanting attention...If we tried to change it we might come up with something worse."

Dickey also took the opportunity to mention his new side project Alan Ball On The Wing would be taking bookings soon.

Kele quoted as saying Doherty quote was misquote

Kele Okereke is desperate for people to not think badly of him. He's not, he insists, having a go at Pete Doherty:

“I read something this week about me cussing out Pete Doherty, when I didn’t do anything of the sort.

"I was just giving an example when I was asked a question about the nature of suffering and art, but if anyone's really that bothered to find the quote they'll see the context.

“I don't really pay it too much mind really. I think it’s just the nature of news these days."

Oh. Well, apparently, Bloc Party are busy writing for their next album, but maybe this is out of context, too:
"We have been writing. I think we’re a band that enjoy writing and it’s always been easy. So if we have time we're always thinking about new songs or new sounds or new ideas."

Then again, maybe Kele was just talking about theoretical songwriting.

Marr's been hired more times than a 1950s cab

A decade or so back, Select magazine ran a graphic attempting to prove that without Johnny Marr and his connection to so many projects, music would implode or something. Since then, it seems, Marr has been attempting to correct the image that he's six degrees from every band by working directly with everyone.

He's just hooked up with Crowded House.

MTV USA news makes brave, solitary bid to start Arctic Monkeys backlash

Apparently unperturbed by the not bad reviews, ongoing slavish coverage and (looking into comments here, for example) still fanatical devotion to them, MTV News has written off the Arctic Monkeys, as part of a half-arsed attempt to lasso a bunch of second albums:

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Some Loud Thunder bowed in January, and has, to date, sold less than one-third of what their self-titled debut did — and has garnered thoroughly middling reviews, to boot. Bloc Party's sophomore album, A Weekend in the City, followed in February — though, to be honest, I had to Wiki that — and has all but disappeared from the cultural zeitgeist (as has the band, save frontman Kele Okereke's ever-entertaining, grammatically enlightened feud with Oasis). Most notably, the Arcade Fire's Neon Bible hit shelves in March, and though it debuted at #2 on the Billboard albums chart, it's quickly begun to drop down the charts and hasn't had nearly the, er, "life-affirming" effect that Funeral did (read: these guys no longer care).

And on Tuesday, the Arctic Monkeys' second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, dropped, and though it's still early, I'll go out on a limb and say that it's not gonna have the same Stateside impact that Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not did. Call it a hunch.

Although, to be honest, 24 in the album charts and no singles at all scoring isn't much of a target to be aiming for.

At the moment, Nightmare is the fourth best seller on the American Amazon site. James Montgomery's limb might be looking a little dodgy.

Right Said Fred "not too sexy" - official

We don't know if the people who complained about Right Said Fred's Daz advert (on taste and decency grounds, rather than artistic merit) was the same person who complained about the Haribo advert with the bloke getting his hand fixed in concrete because he's trying to fish his sweets out of wet cement, but we wouldn't be at all surprised.

Anyway, the Advertising Standards Authority investiagted, in response to anguished cries:

Five viewers believed the ads were unsuitable for broadcast around children's television programmes, because of the reference to "sexy" and the suggestive movements of the lead singer while he sang.

The ASA's official line? They're not too sexy:
The ASA acknowledged that some parents believed the ad was unsuitable to be shown around children's programmes, because it included references to the word "sexy" and the singer's movements could be considered to be mildly suggestive. We noted some children had asked their parents what "sexy" meant and that they believed this was inappropriate, as was their children singing the song. However, we noted the female characters dancing was humorous, not sexual, and considered that young children who saw the ad were likely to respond to the humour, rather than viewing it in a sexual context. We understood that some parents may have felt uncomfortable explaining what "sexy" meant, but we nevertheless concluded that the ad was suitable to be shown without a scheduling restriction.

Well, "humorous" is pushing it a little, but you know what they mean.

Our rising sea level goes up to 11

While we can see the point of getting Spinal Tap to reunite for Live Earth... hang on a mo, actually: we can't. The joke was a good one, but isn't it wearing more than a little thin?

But we can understand how they might have wound up on the bill. What we don't get is how they're going to work a made-up band into the proceedings without either undermining the point of the whole event, or else taking refuge in jokes so weak it wouldn't be worth the carbon emissions to get there?

[Rob] Reiner spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday to explain the reunion of Spinal Tap — a band always known more as a parody of rock `n roll excess than environmental awareness.

"They're not that environmentally conscious, but they've heard of global warming," said Reiner, whose other films include "When Harry Met Sally" and "Stand By Me." "Nigel thought it was just because he was wearing too much clothing — that if he just took his jacket off it would be cooler."

Oh. Weak jokes all the way to climateggedon, then.

Paolo gets nod from Rod

What would you consider to be the "ultimate seal of approval" for a singer? Three nights at Wembley? Madonna trying to eat your brains? The ghost of Johnny Cash silently enjoying your gigs?

Or, maybe, some lukewarm praise from Rod Stewart.

If you're Paolo Nutini - a man whose own management appears to claim always sounds like he's drunk - you'll take what you can get:

In a BBC documentary to be shown next month, Rod said: "He's got a great career ahead of him. I really mean that, a great career."

He doesn't actually say doing what, though.

I think that's a given, Louis

Louis Walsh has insisted that he'll never work with Simon 'I was talking about something else' Cowell again:

“I’ll never work with him again.”

See? Told you.

Walsh has refused to manage the winner of this year's X Factor - which is probably wise, seeing how the other winners have disappeared faster than an all you can eat buffet at a WeightWatchers party - and will instead concentrate on Joseph:
“I will not be managing X Factor’s winning act, I will manage the winning Joseph instead.

“I’ll be working with Andrew Lloyd Webber — a true music legend — Universal, the best record label and BBC1, the best channel.”

Louis, what are you, five years old? "Andrew Lloyd Webber has the best car, it's got red paint and the best radio and the best sweets and the BBC has the best canteen with the best drinks..."

And "managing Joseph", eh? That's going to be a tricky one, seeing as how the prize in the competition is an open-ended contract to be in a West End Musical. Not exactly going to call for very much in the way of managerial skills that one, is it?

Mills out

Presumably The Sun will seize on this after Victoria's got in to work: Heather Mills was voted off Dancing With The Stars last night. A good, solid mid-season result for Millsy, of course: disproving the Murdoch press and its claims that she's hated more than most mass-murderers, but she was never going to win it.

As ever on these occasions (like when Yoko Ono lost the Showcase Showdown, and Barbara Bach's peach melba failed to impress Lloyd Grossman) we turn to Viacom's Television Without Pity:

Please let it be Heather. Please let it be Heather. It's time for the reveal, and they're getting right to it. And the loser is...Heather and Jonathan! Yay! The audience sounds sort of surprised and makes that "Whoo" noise that kids used to make in the elementary school cafeteria when someone spilled a carton of milk and then the cool thing to do was ask, "Where's the fire?" And for some reason, our ritual was to repeat a line from a popular television commercial for a local convenience store to answer that question: "Just around the corner, all around the clock." Kids are freaking weird.

Anyway, Heather brought a farewell speech written out. Where was she hiding that thing? In her bosom? I just rewound to check, and I think she really did. That's classy. Heather manages to blame their loss on Carrie Ann giving them a seven, and she explains that they knew they would be eliminated because they got low scores. I guess it never occurred to her that they might be eliminated because they didn't dance that well. Tom picks up on it and asks if it's Carrie Ann's fault, and Heather pretty much says yes. Heather points out that Jonathan won't get paid anymore, now that she's been eliminated. I heard that Heather might be coming into some big money soon, so she could always help a brother out. God, she's such a negative person. Heather urges us all to avoid eating meat, and Samantha and Tom try to get her to shut her trap for a minute so they can move on. They don't make Heather and Jonathan dance us out, and instead, everyone comes down and hugs them, which is probably for the best. See you next week!

We wonder if Heather had had a speech prepared every week. Mind you, someone should speak to Jonathan's agent - he should cut a deal for the whole season, regardless of who he gets lumped in with.

Now, Heather can get back to her day jo... oh, hang on...

The Cooper Temple Paused

The cancellation of their Camden Crawl dates was an augury: The Cooper Temple Clause have called it a day:

Dear Team Cooper

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I must announce that The Cooper Temple Clause have decided to split up.

Last week I informed the rest of the boys that I would be leaving the band. As I hope you will all be able to understand, it was perhaps the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. When the only life you have ever known is that of your five best friends and the music you make, the thought of leaving that life is not one to be considered lightly and I assure you all that the decision was not an easy one to make. Nonetheless, it was something I felt I had to do. I can only apologise from the bottom of my heart for the disappointment this will undoubtedly cause many of you.

In the wake of this decision the rest of the boys agreed to call it a day and pursue other interests. Friendships are well and truly intact and the love very much remains within the camp.

We would like to take this moment to thank all of you for your support over the years and the love and acceptance you have shown us. It has been an honour to be your servants, for that is what we have been. A band is nothing without its fans, without the people who come to the shows, buy the albums and make us feel that we're not alone in the world, that there are other people out there who see the world as we do in all its wonder and absurdity. People can say what they like about The Cooper Temple Clause, but the unswerving loyalty and dedication of you guys, the ones who really matter, can never be called into question. From the very beginning you have shone brighter than we could have ever hoped, from the street teams to the forum administrators, from those of you who saw us in the Bull and Gate to those who made the earth shake at Fuji Rock on the other side of the world; we thank you all, each and every one of you. When we stood as children in front of our mirrors brandishing tennis rackets and singing into upturned golf clubs, never did we imagine the fantastic adventure we would embark upon thanks to you, the greatest fans in the world. We can only hope that we touched your hearts as much as you have ours.

Take heart and carry on, dear Team. Never be afraid to be yourselves, to be individuals, to fly in the face of common sense and listen to your hearts, to do it your own way. We made a bunch of albums. We played a bunch of shows. We met a bunch of people who changed our lives forever.

We love you all.

Thank you so much.
Yours, in absence of a cheesy line from one of our own songs to end this post,


The world is a little less guitarry this morning.

We don't think that Queen Amerie is going to happen

This morning, Victoria Newton announces she's solved the problem of William Windsor's love life:

FOLLOWING his split from KATE MIDDLETON, I think I’ve found the perfect new girlfriend for PRINCE WILLIAM.

[...] But there’s only one man for her – Amerie’s clearly amorous for Wills.

“Prince William is hot!” she said. “If we hooked up I could meet the Queen. That’d be very interesting.”

'He's cute and I could meet the Queen' isn't quite the basis for a longstanding relationship, and, to be honest, doesn't really stand up the claim that "there's only one man for her", does it?

But how did you discover this potential new face at the Court of St James, Victoria? Have you been lining up potential young ladies and asking them if they'd be interested in a bunk-up with a well-connected but lightly-chinned chap?

Erm, no:
She told AXM mag

So, in effect, Victoria has been flicking through magazines looking for William's next love. And, erm, something to fill the yawning, cavernous gap that is the Bizarre column.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Des'ree nixes B'day

Beyonce has been forced to suspend the special edition of B'Day on account of including a cover of Des'ree's I'm Kissing You. The "special edition" - where that actually means 'a few extra tracks to try and persuade people to buy the record all over again - apparently only had the track included at the last minute; so last minute that the paperwork wasn't handled at all well.

MTV reports that in response to Beyonce's request for a licence, the owners offered some limits:

On March 5, the Royalty Network's lawyers answered by submitting a counter proposal in which they granted permission — within certain limits. For one thing, they would allow use of the song, but not in video form. They would also allow use of the song only if the title were not changed. The Royalty Network's lawyers at Epstein Levinsohn Bodine & Weinstein said in the complaint that "despite follow-ups," they didn't hear back from Beyoncé's camp. And on March 27, according to the complaint, they discovered that Beyoncé and her record label planned to proceed with their plans to include the song on the re-release anyway. In a letter they wrote to Beyoncé's lawyer and her distribution group Sony, the Royalty Network called the move "completely unacceptable."

"First, no agreement has been reached in connection with [the song]," the letter read, "and Sony has no right to proceed ... absent an agreement. Second, the retitling of the composition puts TRN at risk for claims from more than one third party, and this is a risk that [Beyoncé] and Sony were or should have been aware of in light of the circumstances surrounding the discussions relating to this potential license."

Of course, the Royalty Network is looking for money; now, the new B'Day and its video version has been recalled from Best Buys and Wal*Marts awaiting a legal hearing on May 4th. We imagine the money, rather than Beyonce's desire to rename the song Still In Love, will be the key focus of the hearings.

LCD duplication

So, what's the difference between a stunt and inspiration? We suppose that a stunt is an inspiration which should have been quietly forgotten.

Which, we think, makes the planned-for-May LCD Soundsystem covers fun inspired. Two split 7" singles, featuring on one side an LCDS cover, on the flip, LCDS covering someone else. Because its called Friends, see? The Friends in question are Franz Ferdiand and John Cale; the covers include James Murphy having a crack at Joy Division's No Love Lost. Then there are CD and 12 inch versions. Pitchfork make it sound a lot more coherent than we've managed.

Britney Spears invites you to stalk your friends

It's not so long ago that Britney Spears was so annoyed with people taking sneak photos of her, she attacked the paparazzi with an umbrella.

Now, though, she's trying to push her new fragrance, Faded Glory ("Midnight Fantasy") by encouraging people to, erm, sneak up on friends and take photos:

[Britney] is sending emails to fans asking them "to sneak up on their friends and photograph them." She writes: "Share what happens to you when the clock strikes 12... Where are you? Who is with you?

"Savour every last detail and when you think you have it down, recreate that perfect moment and capture it as best you can in a digital photograph."

No, we're not quite sure we've understood that brief. Sneak up on people, take a photo, then imagine what you might be doing at 12 and recreate that?

Apparently you win a signed iPod if you somehow unpick the terms enough to send in the winning photo.


No more will the phrase "Whitney Houston's husband has been remanded in custody" drip from journalists keyboards. Not because Bobby Brown has cleaned up his act, but because the divorce has finally come through.

Whitney gets custody of the daughter; it's not known under the deal if the couple will continue to share a dealer.

Cartel: Next up, it'll be a baby with a baboon heart on bass

If you can't fight, my Mum used to say, wear a big hat. This, loosely translated into music terms, is "if you're a bit rubbish, come up with a big gimmick."

Meet Cartel. They're recording their second album in a giant bubble on Pier 54 in New York. They think it's about them, but it's actually a bid to try and persuade people to buy Dr Pepper, which is sponsoring the event. Dr Pepper's advertising used to be built around the question "what's the worst thing that could happen", illustrated by people getting caught in terrible, embarrassing, public situations. We can see how being in a third-string emo act making a record in a big bubble like some sort of de-evolved zoo monkeys could fit with that message.

Still, let's not forget there are real people involved here, real people, with real emotions and almost half a clue between them. William Pugh has been explaining why they're doing this to USA Today:

"This is just a bigger microscope — a crazy whirlwind in a fishbowl. We're preparing ourselves mentally for the worst, but I don't think we'll have time to freak out. Our goal is to create a good record."

A microscope that's a whirlwind - a crazy one - in a fishbowl. And that's the perfect way to create a "good record", is it? Rather than working on songs in a rehearsal room, then moving into a studio to record them?

The band, of course, will be cut off. Sort of:
"They're going to take away TV and most outside communication," he says. "We'll have limited cellphone and Internet usage."

Goodness. Limited internet. It'll be like being in Portugal or something. Or in an office where they limit your internet. Almost unthinkable, isn't it?
Pugh says the stunt bubble "is the best thing to ever happen to us. A platform this big can show the world that real bands still exist. There's no outside producer, no hidden magic, just us writing and recording. It beats the heck out of being in college."

Yes, it must be better than going to college, although it's hard to imagine your teachers are going to miss your contributions over much.

I'm not sure having a group of bouncing hormones sealed in a large weather balloon really does convince me that "real bands still exist" - when did real bands need stunts to draw attention to their work?

The person behind this - and her official job title doesn't include the word "Evil", so let's assume she really does think she's doing Cartel, and the world, a favour, explains more:
"The first hurdle was getting everyone comfortable with something that doesn't fit in the traditional marketing bucket," says Eleanor McDonald of MEC Entertainment, which cast a wide net to find a band with keen skills, telegenic personality and potential for drama. "This is a real band. Nothing is artificial or staged."

Nothing is artificial or staged. Which would mean that even if Dr Peppers hadn't ponyed up the cash, this band would still have been making a record in a giant sphere on Pier 54, then.

Still, good to discover that there is still, apparently, a "traditional marketing bucket". We feel the stirrings in our lower stomach that suggests we're about to fill one.

Nutini 'always talks like he's drunk'

We'd have thought that Paolo Nutini's management might have come up with a better explanation for his Swindon nightmare - he appeared to be so drunk fans walked out during his set on Sunday - than "he always talks like that", which has now locked him into having to slur his words every time he speaks in public for the forseeable future. Still, here's the official line:

Nutini's manager, Brendan Moon, said his client was just mumbling as he sang, and that the set was subject to several technical problems that made him difficult to hear.

He said last night: "Him being drunk is absolute nonsense.

"Anybody who has seen Paolo before knows it's just the way he speaks.

"He has never claimed to be an orator and he is not a brilliant public speaker, but he doesn't pretend to be."

Mr Moon said Nutini, whose debut album These Streets is now multi-platinum, had enjoyed "a couple" of beers as he listened to Sunday's [Celtic] match.

Mr Moon added: "Paolo probably had a couple of beers.

"There were also a few technical problems during the gig, but at the end everybody went mad - they loved him."

We're still amused by the idea of Swindon Oasis Centre being considered a natural venue on a "world tour", to be honest.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The merits of Monkeys

It's always delightful to hear from Gennaro Castaldo - HMV's spokesperson seems to be quieter these days, but we'd imagine as his employers are having a lean time of it he's having to help out down in the stock room at the moment.

Still, the release of a new Arctic Monkeys record is something of an occasion, so he's popped up in a wire piece with his explanation of those first-day sales:

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: `"It was always going to be next to impossible to match or beat the phenomenal first day sales of Whatever People Say I Am... but coming this close is a fantastic result which underlines the band's status as the UK's number one rock act.

"People are buying this album not because of the media hype, but because it's had great reviews and they can't wait to hear it.

"Favourite Worst Nightmare is easily the fastest selling album of the year to date.

"If sales continue at this pace, they should certainly top the quarter million mark, which would not only give the band a sure-fire number one, but leave them well-placed to claim the biggest album of 2007."

We're not entirely sure we could be as confident as Castaldo in distinguishing between "media hype" and "great reviews", but we love the apparent suggestion that people are buying it specifically because of the reviews - "Yeah, I wasn't going to bother but the warm words of the Daily Telegraph have convinced me..."

Actually, we thought the reviews were a little less enthusiastic than last time around, although there was something of the sense of "am I meant to pretend to like this a lot, or are we meant to be slowly distancing ourselves in case its a flop?" in more than one of the reviews we've read.

Meanwhile, The Guardian hoofed up to HMV's Sheffield outpost, which had opened at midnight to sell the album. Gennaro seemed to be too busy to offer the official line on this one:
HMV management was as expectant yesterday as the fans queueing outside its Sheffield store: "[This album] is great news for the industry as a whole, but for specialist retailers it's key," said Mel Armstrong, the chain's music manager. "It's generally a given that indie-type bands tend to sell proportionately more across specialist chains and independent shops, because you have fans who want to enjoy the whole process of buying it, rather than just downloading from the internet."

Yes, we do think Mel was suggesting that HMV sees itself as a "specialist and independent" type retailer, although anyone who's set foot in an HMV in the last five years would be hard pushed to see any sort of specialisation in music sales.

Musical theatre is simply Divine

Sadly, the Neil Hannon written musical for the National Theatre isn't going to be one of those standard cut-and-shunt of back catalogue into a shaky story framework. So, no "But however shall we make it to London?" "Why, let's take the National Express..."

Instead, Hannon appears to be adapting Swallows and Amazons - which does mean there's going to be a casting call for Hannon to try and find his Titty.

Trouble is, though, of all the books adults assume children will love, real-life-spy Arthur Ransome's boat adventure is probably the most off-putting, and there's no reason to assume that adding Hannon's tunes to the story of posh kids having larks on a lake is going to make it feel any less like being trapped in an awfully nice Bible Class.

Ash: We're better off as boys together

A few weeks back, Charlotte Hatherley gave her side of her departure from Ash, admitting that the ballyhooed "amicable, mutuals" weren't quite on the mark - she still isn't quite sure if she left or was shown the door.

Now, Ash have been talking about life without Charlotte, and while we're sure they didn't want to conjure up the image of lads sat on the sofa, surrounded by beer cans and grey pizza boxes, it does:

"We're excited because the communication in the band's a lot better and we're back to the old line-up.

"It feels very comfortable, we're used to it, and it's great to get back into the studio. We're starting over - new line-up, new material."

Yeah... and no more tights dripping over the edge of the bath, or nothing. And if they want to sit around in their pants all day... well, nobody is going to tell them they can't no more.

Humperdinck and the veterans

We can't pass up a chance to mention Engelbert Humperdinck, so we're happy to mention that he's readying a track to raise funds for veterans' groups. As in groups of people who used to be in military, not bands who have been touring for the last forty years.

Eminem opens a venue

After Fall Out Boy's risky investment in a New York club, Eminem has opened negotiations to buy 8 Mile's St Andrews venue, which besides being in 8 Mile the place was also in 8 Mile, the movie, providing the backdrop for the bit where Eminem won all the prizes for being the best at rapping.

He's very keen now, but lets hope he doesn't get the survey back and start having a tattoo done on his butt of him knocking the place down with a JCB.

Monkeys for less than peanuts

Right now, as part of AOL's streaming of new CDs, you can hear all of Favourite Worst Nightmare. For free.

A little bit of politics

We're sure Sum 41's sudden interest in writing a political song is nothing to do with wanting to get some of that sweet, sweet Green Day mature applause. Indeed, they seem worried they might have alienated their core audience by writing a song about, you know, stuff on the news and that. Deryck Whibley (Mrs. Lavigne) is quick to reassure:

hey everyone. we've released a new song off of the album on itunes and other digital stores today. it's called "March of the dogs". lyrically it's one of the more political songs that are on the album, following in the style of our songs "still waiting" and we"re all to blame". i wanted to let you all know that this will NOT be a political record. this is just one of our favorite songs on the album so we wanted to give you it to you early since the record won't be out until the summer. this is not the first single. the first single will still be Underclass Hero which will be coming out in may.
go check it out.

Actually, as it turns out, the song is hardly Newsnight:
Ladies and gentlemen of the underclass: The President of the United States of America is DEAD!

I don't believe in the politics
A dozen fools and hypocrites
To walk a line that's stretched so fine
Is death or glory had in mind
Here we go, again there's mixed illusion
No one knows to sink revolution
Attention grows, the way the world's conclusion

It's too late, there's no time
(It's too late, there's no time)
Offer none never 1,2, 3 ,4

March of the dogs
to a beat of disillusion
Sworn under God bringing panic and confusion
The white flag is down
Sent to the crowds
The carnival of sins is now meant to begin

It may be of a pessimist
but I say we need an exorcist
The root of all evil standing tall
under God and above the sun

Here we ago, again in desperation
All we know is tension and frustration
Attention blooms no vision of salvation

It's too late, there's no time
(It's too late, there's no time)
Offer none never 1,2, 3 ,4

March of the dogs
to a beat of disillusion
Sworn under God bringing panic and confusion
The white flag is down
Sent to the crowds
The carnival of sins is now meant to begin

1, 2, 3, 4!

Another president dead
because They blew off his head
No more sense to be read
Guess to heaven he fled
Was it something he said
'cause of who's in his bed
By who will we be lead
From who's hand will we be fed
all the lies by the lying liars
Who said, we'll be fine, it's okay
hey look mom, no head!


(bow, bow, bow, bow, bow)

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA It's okay, Alright.

Interestingly, this subtle political stance has so far generated precisely nothing in terms of response on the band's MySpace page beyond "wooos" and "you guys are awesome" - nobody has even suggested there's something self-defeating about their argument that they don't believe in poltics and yet their response to the fictional assassination of an unnamed president is to ask "well, who will lead us now" rather than to suggest this would be the opportune moment to effect a change to the structure of the American democracy to relocate the people at the centre of the process.

Nobody's even pointed out that Bush "fleeing to heaven" would just mean we'd be having President Cheney sworn in.

Diana concert loses ex-lovers

While the decision to bar anyone who may or may not have had sex with Diana from her memorial concert does at least mean we'll be spared James Hewitt on washboard, for a concert supposedly desperate for people to take part closing down the potential pool might not be such a good idea.

For a start, it rules out Bryan Adams. A courtier has leaked:

"The princes have nothing against Bryan Adams, but they want the concerts to be free from any innuendo or tittle-tattle. It was decided that it would be inappropriate for Adams to appear."

The Kaiser Chiefs have suggested that nobody who didn't know her should not play. Now the Princes are insisting that anybody who knew her shouldn't. It's just going to be ninety minutes of Elton John, isn't it?

Mogwai grind Pepper

Mogwai aren't impressed with the idea of bands recreating Sgt Pepper:

Such musical wonders as James Morrison and The Fratellis are to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sergeant Pepper's Beatles album by covering songs from it. I cannot wait to hear this meaningful idea.

"Only thing is, can anyone really better the genius of With A Little Help From My Friends? I know Wet, Wet, Wet came really close but it'll take a mastery of music to pull this one off.

"Such classics as A Day In The Life will surely be so difficult to interpret due to its subtleties and beautiful piano breakdown. I cannot wait and I doubt you can either.


Mogwai are, erm, currently preparing their track for a Pixies tribute album.

Monkeys droop

Normally, a first-day sale of 60,000 would be brilliant news for a band - but if that is the true figure for Favourite Worst Nightmare, it's about 40,000 down on the first day sale for Whatever It Is That You Say That I Am, That's Not What I Do Be, Aunt Sally.

We're torn between the admiration for managing such a huge Monday turnout, and wondering where 40% of the Arctic Monkeys audience disappeared to.

Let's get Dizzee

It seems that, when he started to be a bit successful, former friends of Dizzee Rascal plotted to kidnap him:

“They were meant to be my friends. But when you start to make a bit of money, people switch on you.

“They get the wrong end of the stick. They think you’re this or that, but really it’s that they miss you.

“And because of the kind of people they are, they don’t deal with it properly. They respond with violence.”

We love the idea that "yeah, they wanted to put a sack over my head, stick me in the boot of a car, drive me to a shed in the middle of Norfolk and leave me chained to a lathe, but it's because they missed me."

The plotters apparently thought that the record company would pay a large sum for the safe return of Rascal. Which seems a little optimistic - his label seemed reluctant to pay for a decent advertising campaign for the records, never mind top kidnap pay outs.

Tomorrow finally comes

We're always fascinated by the anti-social neighbours who choose to play the same song over and over again. For example, what the hell could have driven Francis Cullen of Bolton to play If Tomorrow Never Comes by Ronan Keating at all, never mind for an unbroken stretch of sixteen hours?

Susan Jacques, who lives next door, said: "He used to start playing it at 11am on a Sunday morning and wouldn't stop until 3am on the Monday. The walls were vibrating and it kept me awake. I had quite liked the song until then."

Perhaps Cullen was attempting to undermine Ronan Keating, then?

Cullen has now been evicted; he's lucky - a less tolerant society would have strict punishment for infliction of Keating.

Of all the times...

Commiserations and sympathy this morning to Keith Richards, whose mother, Doris Richards, has died of cancer.

With Keith's "I snorted my Dad's ashes" "joke" still clanging around the world, there's going to be some awkward moments with the other relatives in coming weeks.