Saturday, September 08, 2007

TAM Commandments: 4. Never tell your parents

Not telling your parents is all well and good, but is there a point where you should 'fess up? Puberty? Moving out? Hitting thirty? According to Dead Famous People, you should keep your secrets even when you're dead - in their Postcard From Paradise, they ask:

Listen Mum, would you lock my room?
I wouldn't want you to find...
Anything I wouldn't want you to find...

Here's the song covered by Shinowa:

[Part of TAM commandments weekend]

Missing the point a little

Fergie has decided to go green. Which, you know, is something to be applauded, although she's, erm, doing it by selling her Hummer on eBay.

Now, admittedly, she's giving the funds raised to a green charity, but for someone with the cash Fergie has at her dispoasl, wouldn't it have made a little more sense to have simply taken the car off the road, rather than sold it on to someone else to despoil the planet with, and helping to promote the brand into the deal?

Blake: My wife should have won

To be fair, it's not just Blake Fielder-Civil who thinks Amy Winehouse should have won the Mercurys. Radcliffe and Maconie were saying pretty much the same thing, but since it's not entirely clear what it is the award is for (the content of the album? the quality of performance on it? the sound of it alone?) it's hard to see how anything could be officially described as the wrong choice - they could vote solely on the sleeve for all we know. Still, Blake's annoyed:

"Amy was robbed. Who knows why they didn't give her the award. But I was so proud of her for her performance.

"She's really well and she doesn't need to go back into rehab."

You'd expect Fielder-Civil to be disappointed that they didn't get the chance to turn the Nationwide Building Society's money into, uh, special treats, but clearly he's not got very much in the way of judgement left.

Paris Hilton fails to get the joke

Hallmark, the US greetings card business, has a small line of cards which run cartoons of famous people with weak gags wound around them. They did one, depicting Paris Hilton as a waitress, telling a customer his plate was hot (no, us neither.)

The trouble is, Paris Hilton doesn't think it's funny - which, to be fair, it isn't - and wants USD100,000 because they "failed to seek her approval".

She hasn't quite got the hang of how satire works, does she?

TAM Commandments: 3. Respect is earned

This one always seemed to sit uneasily with These Animal Men's stance that they were right, from the get-go. We did consider inflicting Bruce Willis 'return of Bruno' era cover of Respect Yourself on you here, as some sort of warning from history, but instead, here's Erasure doing A Little Respect in the Milton Keynes Bowl in 1990, which mainly is worth it because someone posts on the YouTube page, apparently straight-faced, the question "is he gay?"

[Part of TAM Commandments weekend]

Brown's luck runs out

Foxy Brown's apparent bet with Pete Doherty to see who could push the law the furthest has come to an abrupt end, with a the judge getting tired of probation violations:

The judge found that Ms Marchand had travelled outside New York without the court's permission and had moved her residence from New York to New Jersey without permission.

Ms Marchand was also found to have missed anger management classes which she had been ordered to attend while on probation.

Brown has been sent to jail for a year, with one oddity about the proceedings: last time she appeared in court, much was made of her being three months pregnant. This time, despite Brown trying to throw herself on the tender mercies of the court, there was no mention of any pregnancy.

TAM Commandments: 2. Poor is beautiful

Poor is beautiful. Oh, yes, the dignity of poverty, best enjoyed when you have the means to escape at any moment. There's only one song we could throw in here - especially since The Snapdragon's Dole Boys On Futons isn't on YouTube.

Pulp, doing Common People, at Glastonbury 1995:

And, for good measure, Rory Bremner doing David Cameron doing Jarvis:

[Part of These Animal Men TAM Commandments weekend]

Kershaw's mum talks to the Mail

We wonder if, when Andy Kershaw's mum, Eileen, spoke to the Daily Mail she knew that her motherly concern would be embedded in such a spitefully worded piece as turned up in the paper.

Eileen talks like a worried mother:

"He desperately needs help and his mental state is now affecting his physical state."

"He has lost a shocking amount of weight and looks skeletal. He is a wreck and very disturbed. I am afraid of what he might do, especially if people give up on him.

"He simply will not accept the relationship with Juliette is over and is suffering from a broken heart.

"I never believed such a thing existed before - but that is exactly what has happened."

The Mail, however, sees the story more as a parable about pride coming before a fall - presumably Kershaw's politics making him ripe for a kicking, even when he's on the ground already:
Like so many who turn their backs on the big city, Andy Kershaw couldn't quite hide that hint of smugness whenever he spoke of his new life on the Isle of Man.

Today, the evocative picture he painted of Peel as a haven of open-door, crime-free, yob-free family life has been well and truly shattered. And it's largely his fault.

It's a desperately sad story; it's even sadder that the Mail felt unable to tell it without introducing an element of crowing.

Jo why, oh, Whiley

Amongst things we can safely say the world could do well without is a "more credible" version of the X-Factor. Especially one with Jo Whiley in the "Sharon Osbourne role":

"It's going out in the lead up to Christmas. I'm the Sharon Osbourne of the panel - I was horrible to some people and when I woke up in the morning, I felt sick and unclean."

When Jo says "in the lead-up to Christmas", she means the miserable time of year when everything gets grey and dark.

We're at a loss to how you can have a "credible" talent show; it's like an ethical war, isn't it?

Radio One More Time: Bang Gotcha Junction

When Peter Powell took over the Saturday morning slot, he pledged no more Junior Choice: he wasn't going to be playing Nellie The Elephant any more. Did this mean that there was no longer anything for the younger listener on Radio One?

Not quite. For Mark Page, who had taken on the early weekend slot, took on the the role of children's entertainer single-handed. His solution? It was to buy in an odd Australian drama about gnomes and, possibly, talking butterflies and... no, we never could quite work out what Bangotcha Junction was about. It sounded like the worst sort of summer holiday kid's TV filler material, and seemed less like a reassurance that Radio One was still a family network and more like a bid to bamboozle any remaining youngsters off the network. To give him his due, Mark Page did stick with the thing all the way through - although, we suspect, nobody would have noticed if he'd skipped a few episodes or just stopped them half way through the story.

It was, however, still the first proper serial drama Radio One ever aired.

And would have remained so, too, had there not been an early-90s attempt to add some drama to the network with adaptations of Batman and Spiderman. These stories were told in an aural approximation of comic-book style: short episodes, lots of sound effects, jumpy-plot-cuts. They're best filed under 'surprising to see it done at all' rather than 'startling success', and while the bitty-episode format made sense, it made for horribly wearing omnibus edition. Still, at least they didn't try to create a British superhero for the purpose - although we'd have liked to have heard the Leopard Of Lime Street being given the stereo treatment.

[Part of Radio One More Time]

Embed and breakfast man: The TAM Commandments weekend

Back in 1993, when the New Wave Of New Wave was desperately trying to cope with the weight of being The Coming Thing, These Animal Men issued their Ten Commandments. This weekend, we bring you those Commandments, in full, each illustrated with a video which may support or knock down their suggestion. We'll get to TAM themselves , ooh, somewhere late on Sunday.

The commandments, in case you forgot to laminate them and carry them around with you at all times, are:

1. Get a Catholic education - represented by Teenage Fanclub
2. Poor is beautiful - represented by Pulp
3. Respect is earned - represented by Erasure
4. Never tell your parents - represented by Shinowa
5. Don't be ashamed of your adolescence - represented by Suede
6. If you've got it, flaunt it - represented by Marine Research
7. Love's good, but not as good as wanking - represented by Dubstar
8. Amphetamines are where it's at - represented by These Animal Men
9. Never trust a crusty - represented by Chumbawamba
10. Taboo is a dirty word - represented by Luke Haines

So, number one: Get a Catholic education. Or, rather, get A Catholic Education, Teenage Fanclub's 1990 album. This is Everything Flows from that album, performed live for the much-missed Snub TV:

Johnny Borrell is the MC Scat Cat of our time

You remember MC Scat Cat: he was the male vocalist on Paula Abdul's Opposites Attract. She hated cigarettes, he liked to smoke. Just like Johnny Borrell and Kirsten Dunst, it turns out:

"She couldn't stand the smell of stale fags, beer and kebabs in her nice living room. Can't say I blame her, really."

Unlike an animated cat boyfriend, though, this is all two steps back, with no steps forward.
"We were leading different lifestyles. It's over. She believes in equality, that a bloke should chip in with the housework."

We imagine at this point, Borrell's PR person coughed loudly.
"Fair enough, but I'm messy, and I love messing around with bikes."

How sweet of Borrell to concede that being asked to stick a hoover round occasionally is "fair enough". It's like one of them new men you read about in the papers, isn't it?

Johnny then goes on to list some other ways in which the couple were total opposites:
"I have been incredibly busy recording our latest album and I'd be rolling in at all hours, when she'd be getting up to go on set filming How To Lose Friends & Alienate People."

He's a late night rock star, she's a daytime film star.
"I'm very much a night owl, and she's up with the lark."

Um... that's the same thing, isn't it?
"She's a really cool girl and she loves London and Britain."

... while Borrell isn't and doesn't, we can only conclude.

Not that Johnny cares, of course, as he's simply too busy to have a girlfriend:
"My focus now is on breaking America. So there's not really time for a love life. There was no one else involved. Besides, we've been performing at festivals and touring nonstop and barely have time to think, let alone go out on a date."

And yet you still found the time to make the place stink of beer, ciggies and kebabs.

Kelly Osbourne: It's all about me

Kelly Osbourne - whose only two successes so far have been appearing in her Mum's realioty TV show and with her Dad remaking one of his old records - is insistent that she's not just riding on her parent's coat-tails:

"It's my chance to prove that I'm not this fat, talentless, rude brat," she admits. "Yeah, I am Ozzy and Sharon's daughter and I'm fucking proud of that. But I'm also someone else. I do have talent and I can achieve things on my own."

She then proceeds to spend the rest of the interview talking about if Sharon really hates Dannii Minogue, the X-Factor, and Old Mother Osbourne's plastic surgery. But, hey, there's more to her than her parents.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Avril thinks we're losers

It's true: Avril thinks people who dislike her are lacking in some way:

"People love me and people hate me, but I'm comfortable in my own skin and that's what counts. And anyway if you do hate me, you're the loser, not me."

Lavigne, of course, discounts that vast numbers of people are completely indifferent to her, and, like so many, assume that those who are bored or tired of her must hate her.

But, hold on, we might learn to hate her:
"Someone like Kelly Clarkson is beautiful and has a pretty voice, but with me you get a much stronger image. I'm tough, I have a look that girls want to copy, and I sound a particular way. It's good if you're not easily ignored. And I'm not."

Hmmm... that look that girls want to copy... do you mean this look?:

It's true, actually: Lucy Pinder, Jordan, Jo Guest... they're all copying that look of topless magazine sales pitch.

You might wonder how she copes with a dwindling -sorry, fabulous - career:
"Selling 24 million albums hasn't really affected me, but it has changed things. I can't walk into a room full of people any more without everybody turning their heads, and I can only eat in certain restaurants where I know I won't get hassled. But that's OK. I was born to do this, and so I've learned how to cope."

Those restaurants, presumably, are the ones where she won't come into contact with her natural fanbase - we figure if she steers clear of Chuck E Cheese and Hooters, she's probably fine.

Radiohead switch off tape recorders

Jonny Greenwood - no, no, he's out of Radiohead, not the rugby player - has told Paste that the head have finished work on a collection of tracks:

“We just had a meeting about that today,” said Greenwood on September 7. “We’re very relieved to have finished recording, now we have to decide what we should do with it.”

In other words: they've recorded the album faster than they negotiate a deal to cover its release.

Death Cab booked

Good news for quasi-indie miserablists: Death Cab For Cutie are heading back into the studio. Pitchfork have pulled a "Spring 2008" release date (or rather, three-month window) out of the air.

MTV beg 'please like the MTV awards'

They're pouring a lot into this year's VMAs. A lot of money, a lot of planning, a lot of hope. Not much in the way of new ideas, though - indeed, Christian Norman, president of MTV, is excited by the seating plan:

In Vegas we're doing tables for the audience as opposed to rows; that gives talent more reason to stay in their seats. There's no green room. They're sitting in the green room.

In other words: instead of having the vaguely famous piss-off backstage as soon as they've done their bit, leaving an audience of the thrilled but obscure, they're going to have the a-ish-list sat out front, looking slightly bored.

U Can't iPod Touch This

... where 'this' is an mp3 blog. According to Wired's Listening Post, the browser on an iPod Touch isn't set up to allow you to download mp3s via wi-fi.

Although we suspect it'll only be a matter of time before someone hacks it so you can.

Karma catches up with Backstreet Boys boss

Lou Pearlman, the brains behind NSync and the Backstreet Boys, has lost two homes, as bankruptcy and charges on a $20million fraud catch up with him.

According to the Associated Press:

Pearlman, 53, remains jailed after being indicted on three counts of bank fraud and single counts of mail and wire fraud for business he did with Evansville, Ind.-based Integra Bank N.A., according to court documents.

Florida investigators separately allege that he defrauded more than 1,000 individual investors out of more than $315 million. Several banks say he collectively owes them more than $120 million, according to bankruptcy court documents.

Mind you, all of this is small beer compared with the fraud of inflicting Backstreet Boys upon a world who thought they were getting a pop group.

Nas remembers VTech by shouting at Billo

The decision to invite Nas to perform at last night's Virginia Tech showbiz memorial wasn't a universally popular one, what with Nas's track record for making gratuitiously violent songs. However, the adoption of the 'ban Nas' campaign by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly handed Nas an easy way out. Instead of defending his music, he was able to get on the safer ground of attacking O'Reilly instead:

"He's a racist," Nas said. "Everybody has a marketing plan; his marketing plan is racism.

"He doesn't understand the younger generation. He deals with the past," Nas continued. "The people he represents are Republican, older, a generation that has nothing to do with the reality of what's happening now with my generation. ... He's not really on my radar. People like him are supposed to be taught and people like me are supposed to let niggas like him know. I don't take him serious. His shit is all about getting ratings or whatever. I wouldn't honor anything Bill O'Reilly has to say. It just shows you what bloodsuckers do: They abuse something like the Virginia Tech [tragedy] for show ratings. You can't talk to a person like that."

Now, you'll not find anyone keener than us to point out the shortcomings of Billo, but this is somewhat simplistic - after all, while Fox News' interest in Virgina Tech might be a ratings boost, isn't Nas' appearance at the Dave Matthews organised event also about commerce? And is turning the event into a platform to cry "racism" at Fox really any less of an abuse of the memories of those who died?

Nas did eventually try to explain why a man who makes money selling violent records was present at a memorial service for those who were killed. Tried being the operative word. His reasoning? Erm, life's hard:
Here's somebody that speaks about America in his music, and the community that I come from has the same kind of violence as Virginia Tech," the legendary rapper said about himself. "It's unnecessary, stupid violence. Hip-hop is a part of the generation of [Virginia Tech] as well as alternative and pop and rock. Hip-hop is a part of that. That's why I'm [performing at the concert]. With Bill O'Reilly, it doesn't raise an eyebrow to me because it's garbage, its bullshit. He has nothing to do with the real people who go to school or the parents who had to endure that tragedy."

Hmm. Is Nas really comparing the tiresome internal gang-on-gang shooty-shooty-look-at-my-gun violence which has blighted hip-hop is comparable with being shot in a random mass-killing? He does seem to.

Nas then suggests that it's not odd that he would be there, because not all his songs are violent and, um, he doesn't sing about Russians:
"Let him ask why I made the songs I made," Nas said. "It didn't come from nowhere. It came from this country. I'm not talking about Russia in my music. I've never been to Russia. I'm not talking about Africa, Switzerland, China. I'm talking about me being American and growing up in a crazy world and helping to reflect all different sides of life. I got songs also about totally different things — 'Black Girl Lost,' you feel what I'm saying?"

Some of these points may or may not be fair - the more coherent of them, anyway - and there is room, certainly, for a debate about how far artists are making violent works because they're influenced by surroundings, and how far violent art makes all our public spaces less safe. And Bill O'Reilly's one-manned version of less-informed Daily Mail, with piles, is fair for a take-down.

Indeed, so wrong-headed is Bill's worldview, his suggestion that something must be banned is usually enough to get us out running up a petition to have the State supply whatever it is on the general rates.

But this does miss the point somewhat. The best Nas has done is suggest why Bill O'reilly might not be the best person to frame the question, but he still hasn't managed to answer it: when families and survivors of the Virginia Tech killings had asked you, because of your violent work, to not come to an event being held in their name, why did you still go?

Why do record shops go out of business?

The FYE chain in the US has started pricing CDs at a surprising $19.99.

CDs like Appetite For Destruction, a twenty year-old title which has already done most of its business. Ten quid for an old CD is a lot in Britain, but in America, it's a suicidal price point.

Mouse moves Machine

The planned Machine Head's date in Anaheim has been canned after Disney announced new rules covering heavy metal gigs at the House of Blues. Disney has previously banned bands on the basis of their name alone, but this is the first time Disney have allowed tickets to go on sale before changing its mind.

They Don't Mean It As A Threat

The Proclaimers are promising they'll go on until they're 100.

That's another fifty-five years.

Ronson still loves Winehouse

As expected, here's the official denial of the Ronson-furious-with-Winehouse story:

“Argh, I hate that I even have to address this ‘cause it’s such a crock of shite, but I must clear this up…
“Some daily paper published a completely fictionalised story about me being "furious" with Amy for not turning up to the video shoot for our song and swearing never to work with her again. It's all bullshite, all of it.

"Originally, neither of us were gonna be in the video. Then, I'd known for weeks Amy wasn't gonna be in the video.

"The entire premise of the video (conceived by the director, Robert Hale) revolved around her not being in it. I knew she was going on holiday, etc etc & was fine with all of it.

"There wasn't one thing on the entire page that was true, except for the part about my sordid romp in the bathroom of a Soho nightclub with a tranny, midget hooker named Perry."

Actually, we find the denial less plausible than the original, somewhat weak story. Ronson, apparently, was the only person in the world who knew Winehouse was "going on holiday" and the no-Amy in the video was a feature, not a bug. He should have just stopped typing at "bullshite". Actually, at the "t" in bullshite.

Embed and breakfast man: The Explicits

Seriously, we'd really only recommend pressing play here if you are as intrigued and delighted as we are by the idea of a Garbage/Extreme Noise Terror hybrid. These are The Explicits, who come from Jacksonville, Florida, and MySpace:

Radio One More Time: Studio B15

The nature of music radio made it seem like every day was one long magazine programme; what the Sony Awards used to describe as 'sequence programming' made it easy to flit from a feature to a song to a weather forecast to an interview, which you would have thought would render the need for a separate magazine programme somewhat redundant. Nevertheless, Radio One tried several, most notably Studio B15, which ran on Sundays for a surprising two hours prior to the Top 40.

It was presented by Adrian Love - the son of bandleader Geoff Love - and combined the sorts of things you'd expect to appear in a well-intentioned Radio One pot pourri: bits and pieces of entertainment and non-demanding cultural attractions, the odd competition and bands doing some studio appearances (notably, The Jam).

When the vagaries of scheduling meant that the programme was obliged to air on Christmas Day, they threw open the doors of the studio, inviting any 14 year-old who had the misfortune to have a 25th December birthday to guest present, on account of them going to be 15 on the day. But the genesis of the title was, of course, that was the room the programme was broadcast from: the sort of thing that people in radio and television think is going to be of interest to the audience, but which to the audience looks like lazy thinking - on a par with calling a cat "puss". It's worth noting that this sort of lame titling has also gifted any number of flatly-titled TV pop shows: The Oxford Road Show, two Transmissions and a TX, for example.

Still, even Studio B15 was glittering compared to its replacement, Saturday and Sunday Live. Which was a live programme which went out live, either on... ah, you're ahead of me. Helmed most successfully by Andy Kershaw, the highlight of Sunday Live was when it carried coverage of Hands Across Britain, an initiative which aped Hands Across America both in intent (something to do with drawing attention to the plight of the jobless) and success (failure both to complete a sea-to-sea chain of people holding hands and unemployment remaining no further up the agenda). Since it would have been unusual for there to be live coverage of, say, The People's March For Jobs on the DLT show, the BBC's different treatment of this event must have been down to the presence of Jimmy Savile. Savile had to play the role of participant observer, though, linking hands while trying to describe the event for listeners. An event, which, by its nature, he was unable to see much of, beyond talking of his desire to shatter into a million parts and fly all over the country to look at the people who he believed were holding hands.

Sunday Live was on stronger ground when it concentrated on Icicle Works live sessions.

Eventually, its content was folded into the Stereo Sequence, before evaporating entirely.

[Radio One More Time]

Fuller: No evidence, no charges

Surrey police have announced that there are to be no charges following the rape allegations made by Amelle Berrabah's sister Samiya:

"The case never went to court and due to lack of evidence no charges have been made.

"A number of men including [Berrabah's boyfriendFreddie] Fuller were brought into the station on a number of occasions to be questioned and bailed each time.

"They were last questioned on Sunday, at which point they were all released without charge."

Bono mourns Pavarotti

While we're sure that Bono's pain at the loss of Pavarotti is heartfelt and genuine, his obituary for the Sun is an overwritten parade of cliche, and as cloying as you'd expect:

He lived the songs, his opera was a great mash of joy and sadness; surreal and earthy at the same time; a great volcano of a man who sang fire but spilled over with a love of life in all its complexity, a great and generous friend.

Some can sing opera, Luciano Pavarotti was an opera.

Great, great fun, The Pavlova we used to call him . . . An emotional arm twister if he wanted you to do something for him — he was impossible to turn down.

That actually makes him sound like someone who got his way through emotional blackmail, Bono, which hardly is a glowing recommendation.

Doherty: Cat crack cancer

The first mutterings that Doherty was giving drugs to kittens sounded so much like a tabloid moral panic, we hoped it would turn out to be giving a dog a bad name rather than giving a cat a bad trip.

Today, though, pictures of Doherty with a specially adapted cat crack pipe make it look as if, yes, he really does behave like that. Doubtless he'll try and say "ha! no, it was all an art experiment, like that time I might not actually have been injecting drugs into the girl" or some similar attempt to explain away his behaviour. We doubt the RSPCA will buy that, though.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Sounding the Klaxon

Having more-or-less predicted the Klaxons' Mercury win (or, at least, having made such a vague 'rule nothing out' prediction beforehand that if anything up to and including Noel Edmonds winning had happened, he'd have sort-of-not-said-it-wouldn't happen), Gennaro Castaldo is now rushing forward with the news that winning awards sells albums:

HMV's Gennaro Castaldo said: ""While Klaxons are enjoying a significant boost to their album sales, they now also have a real opportunity to reach out beyond their established fanbase.

"Even if she didn't collect the prize many people felt she deserved, Amy Winehouse is also among the big winners - her acclaimed album 'Back To Black' now has the momentum to power towards the two million sales mark over the coming months."

Who are the "many people" who felt Winehouse deserved the prize? Has there been a popular uprising we've missed?

Elsewhere, The Klaxons are going to donate their winnings to a science-fiction charity. We don't know if that's a charity that helps victims of sci-fi (Babylon 5 shut-ins, people who can't cope with passers-by saying 'Alyson Hannigan would make a great Doctor Who, don't you think?') or a charity that works in a sci-fi way (helping close temporal folds, translating the Bible into Klingon). On the other hand, they might just give it to their Mums.

Back at HMV, they've had some uncharacteristically cheery news, as bad weather, Desperate Housewives boxsets and Harry Potter have helped lift their ailing sales a smidgen or two. Indeed, providing we don't have an Indian Summer, the company as a whole might just scrape ahead of dire predictions made for it at the start of its trading year.

One gets shaken

Radio One is about to embark on a fairly large schedule shake-up, most notable for granting Chris Moyles an extra two and a half hours a week - or, in other words, time enough for him to play two extra records. They're now starting the show at 6.30 in the morning, and while we'd have imagined three hours of Moyles a day was enough for any man, the audience seems to eat it up, so this is presumably a ratings-driven initiative.

The extra half-hour for Moyles is being shaved off the 'early breakfast' show - although now that programme finishes so far before a winter's dawn, it's presumably going to have to change its name. This reduced fiefdom has been granted to Greg James, who's been doing little bits and pieces around the station for a while now. He has, you'll note, perhaps the most local-radio-dj name to have graced Radio One since Mark Page.

That strange arrangement where Zane Lowe's show is opted out of on a Thursday evening in the other nations is ending - now, all of England will be shouted at between session tracks from Albert Hammond Junior four nights a week; the national regions opt-out fandango gets shunted to midnights on Wednesday from where, we imagine, it will quietly disappear sometime after Christmas.

The In New Music We Trust strand is still there, unfortunately. But not part of the brave new world is JK and Joel, whose unloved double-actery is banished not just from early breakfast, but also from the Chart Show.

Before you get too thrilled by the idea of the Top 40 returning to a safe pair of hands, though - or two safe pairs of hands - it's now going to be presented by Fearne and Reggie. We're not sure when Cotton and Yates actually became a double act, but it seems to be fixed now. We're at a lost to the logic of giving the Top 40 slot to a pair who were part of the destruction of Top Of The Pops, mind.

The gap in weekend breakfasts opened by this promotion (they're also going to do a 'requests' show on Saturday afternoons - charts and requests; it's like someone doesn't trust them to pick their own records, isn't it?) is filled by Nihal, which is probably the only good idea in the whole spreadsheet.

Also getting demoted is Vernon Kaye - or, perhaps, "having his Radio One workload reduced in order to free up more time to remake Bullseye". His Sunday morning slot is now going to be taken over by... well, it says Dick and Dom here, but surely that can't be right, can it? Maybe three years ago... but in 2007?

The most horrific detail, though, is left for Sunday nights. Sunday Surgery - the long-running 'don't get the clap, and don't pickle your kidneys' slot is now going to be presented by Kelly Osbourne.

How did that happen? Did Radio One see her pisspoor performance on Project Catwalk and think "we should see if she's as bad presenting live radio as she is at recorded television, where - presumably - they must have reshot some of the pieces, surely?" and then looked around for something she could do? Or did they have a shortlist of likely presenters for the programme, and - after they'd all said 'no' - were reduced to thumbing through the phone directory?

Kelly Osbourne.

[Thanks to James P for the tip]

Something to listen to: TBS

The Trembling Blue Stars are currently MySpace sharing the b-side from next month's new ep.

A whole new reason to despise Mika

We've been having stuttering web problems today - pages loading in three-quarters of the way, and then freezing, leaving us unable to navigate away or swap to a different tab. It took us a while, but then we realised what the common factor to all the broken pages were: they've got that stupid video for Mika's album embedded on the page. It's bad enough having his kipper-headed face thrust into our browser, but for him to then hold us hostage really takes the stupidly-voiced biscuit.

Venuewatch: Zapped off

Brighton's Zap Club is no more, having been sold on to Newcastle's Digital. It's reopening this month rebranded Digital to match its new owners, and promising "the biggest indie disco in the world", which seems to miss the point about indie discos.

Admittedly, in the way that most events promoted as indie discos miss the point, but even so.

I've waited all my life to date... [name to be inserted later]

You've got to love VH1. They're shooting one of those shows that makes Celebrity Love Island look like the Open University, and have put out a casting call:

So here is the information I have so far for the show: I am casting for VH1/51 Minds Entertainment, the producers of 'The Surreal Life', 'Flavor of Love', 'I Love New York' and 'Rock of Love'.

"I will be in New York and surrounding areas, (Long Island, New Jersey) from September 4 - 12, 2007, looking for SINGLE WOMEN, 21+, with big personalities for this VH1 ROCK N' ROLL RELATIONSHIP SHOW, where 20 girls will compete for the chance to date the rock star of their dreams.

Blimey... the rock star of their dreams, eh? Who would that be, then?
(the rock star has not been announced yet, but I would think someone that makes the girls wild and girls would do anything just to meet this guy, a Tommy Lee type of rocker).

Ah. So, they're looking for people whose dreams revolve around meeting any rockstar who happens to be available, and unencumbered by any sense of dignity. We'd recommend having an "I [heart]" tattoo, with space to scrawl in later the name of whoever the researchers can persuade up.

Babyshambles apparently communicate by lawyer

Drew McConnell is encouraged by the news that Doherty is "in rehab":

"I was overjoyed at the news. I think what Pete needs is a bit of rest someplace where he's on lemonade.

"Not wearing pyjamas with arrows on them and receiving packages surreptitiously sneaked under the door."

"The last time I saw him we'd just headlined a small tent in Weston Park and we were all in soaring spirits. I haven't seem him since. I hear from my manager and lawyer that he's doing swimmingly."

We'll bet that McConnell is relieved that - on current reports - that lucrative arena tour is looking quite plausible, but isn't it a little odd that he hears about the condition of his supposed mucker via his legal team?

Bestival fake warning

Organisers of this weekend's Bestival are warning you to check your ticket closely:

[I]t is very important you arrive at Bestival with an official ticket bought from an official outlet. We are aware of fake tickets in circulation and all tickets will be carefully scrutinised before entry to the festival is permitted. Anyone holding a fake ticket will be refused entry.

All tickets are non-transferrable and cannot be re-sold... and its especially important that you don't buy from a tout as these are liable to be fakes. If you can no longer make the event you should contact the outlet you bought your ticket from to request a refund.

See you on the Isle of Wight!!!

x Bestival

NB: There are two types of official Bestival tickets in circulation... colourful security tickets and smaller blue and white hologrammed tickets.

We're not sure that having two sorts of tickets in circulation is especially helpful, and we do love the touching idea that ticket sellers are happily going to refund your ticket money without question if, for example, you've decided to spend the weekend at your grandma's house instead.

Lily Allen offers her advice

It was only a matter of time before Lily Allen decided to offer the benefit of years of wisdom to Amy Winehouse:

"You don't need drugs to be creative. No one needs them."

After all, look what they did to Zammo, eh?

I suppose it's quite touching that Lily thinks Amy is doing speedballs to help her write her next album.

Talking of which, Allen is fretting about her difficult second LP:
"Doing my second album is daunting. I've had sleepless nights about it every night since I started working on it.

"I hope it'll be good and I'll be around next year, but if not I guess I won't be around next year."

Of course, as her first album shows, it's not actually a problem if it's not very good. It's not like the music is central to her celebrity, is it?

Crying all the way to the Liffey Bank

We can barely control our tears as we hear The Edge snuffling at the destruction of U2's old studio:

“It’s getting demolished as part of a redevelopment of the docklands. It is going to be turned into a tower block and we will make the penthouse into a studio.

It’s very sad, that place felt like home. I don’t know what it will be like recording in the new studio, we are so used to the other place.”

Still, the large pile of cash you're making from your part in a largely unwanted docklands development will probably cheer you up a little, don't you think?

Radio One More Time: Specially recorded jingles

Radio One, by nature of being the only national pop network, had enormous power to make or break the fortunes of new singles. Since rules frowned on the idea of disc jockey and producer's favour being curried by the payment of large sums of undeclared funds into Swiss bank accounts, record labels had to come up with different ways of flattering the gatekeepers of the nation's taste.

One popular way of doing this was to record a specially re-worded version of the single to function as a jingle for one or more shows. So, for example, Owen Paul reworked

You're my favourite waste of time


Gary Davies in the summertime.

So vain were the jocks, these sly marketing parries almost always proved successful, helping keep the parent songs in the public eye... well, ear, and almost certainly squeezing a couple of extra plays here and there. And it wasn't just the usual chancers you'd expect to pull this sort of trick who got involved - even Kate Bush did a special Radio One jingle at one point.

The most played reworked jingle, though, would have been The Trainspotter's High Rise tribute to Mike Read. The original chorus ran

High Rise
High Rise
The neighbours are banging on the wall again
High Rise
High Rise
I want to live on the ground

The 'band' happily reorganised this into

Mike Read
Mike Read
Two seven five, two eight five
Mike Read
Mike Read
National radio one

So pleased was he with this, Mike Read used it not only as his main jingle, he also encouraged listeners to sing it all over the world - every day, someone's claim to have sung the tune in Berlin, or at the top of a mountain, or down a mine, would be rewarded with a mug. Naturally, there was no way of establishing the bona fides of the claims, as people didn't have mobiles, much less video cameras in their pockets, but everything was done on trust back then.

So who were these Trainspotters, whose single-turned-jingle got such exposure?

It was, um, Mike Read.

[Radio One More Time]

Girls Alone

Currently, Girls Aloud are doing a series of one-on-one interviews with Victoria Newton.

Today's, with Sarah Harding, is pretty typical:

Sarah, 25, said: “I don’t want to be known as a slapper or a pisshead.

As a thank you for all this access, Newton illustrates Harding's desire to not be thought of as a sexual object or a drunk with pictures of her in her knickers and drinking heavily.

The Guardian's Lost In Showbiz blog enjoyed Nicola Roberts' thoughts on the murder of Rhys Jones:
I blame Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. We should lock up more people. I know prisons are full, just build more! Young criminals now think they can get away with committing crimes. I just can't believe the state of this country. I can understand some people are in a vicious circle, coming from a difficult backrgound, but they don't have to become criminals..."

As the Guardian confirms, yes, this was the same Nicola Roberts who had been tucked-up in a toilet cubicle with Cheryl Tweedy/Cole just seconds before Cole beat the shit out of a poorly-paid toilet attendant.

OperaObit: Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti has died from pancreatic cancer in Modena. Besides being one of the few opera singers to have had a genuine operatic chart hit, with the Three Tenors' Nessun Dorma (which, in English, means "the theme from World Cup Match Of The Day"), Pavarotti also made a genuine rock record. He recorded Miss Sarajevo as part of the U2-pretending-to-not-be-U2 Eno collaboration Passengers.

In addition, through collaborations with Elton John and Zucchero, he managed to clock up six top forty hits of varying degrees of desperation; the stuttering struggle to get You'll Never Walk Alone higher than 35, however, seemed to remove most of the fun from the projects and - whether the pop-opera crossovers were intended as pension funds or genuine attempts to try and engage with a new audience - they dried up.

Nevertheless, Pavarotti created a niche for himself as "what the rock world thinks of when they think of opera", down in part, we suspect, to looking the part as much as sounding it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Macca on the One

In a slightly bemusing move, Paul McCartney, Debbie Harry and Noel Gallagher are being invited to hosts shows on Radio One to celebrate its 40th birthday. There are going to be a few younger guest presenters: The Arctic Monkeys and, erm, Gwen Stefani, for example, but it does throw up the problems involved in a station resolutely aimed at young people trying to mark four decades - as the everyday business of the station focuses on the music of today, getting a sexagenarian to play songs by Jerry Lee Lewis is, at best, a reminder of what the network has turned its back on to survive. Let's hope the tension between Radio One of the Always Now and this sudden affection for heritage radio doesn't cause a snapping.

We're also puzzled by this:

Radio 1 marks its 40th birthday from 17-28 September.

As part of the anniversary, current DJs from the Radio 1 roster will co-host shows with DJs from yesteryear.

On 30 September, the date of the station's first broadcast in 1967, breakfast show DJ Chris Moyles will host a show with Tony Blackburn - the first DJ to appear on the network.

If it's marking it's birthday between the 17th & 28th, then what is the programme on the 30th?

[Thanks to Jim McCabe]

Idol showing feet of clay?

It's not yet the full-grown crisis that many people are sacrificing goats to encourage, but the poor ticket sales for this year's American Idol tour offer a glimpse of a world that isn't going to always lap up the stuff that Cowell ladles out.

Mathew Street: Bradley orders internal inquiry

It looks like Warren Bradley has held on to his job, despite the Mathew Street Festival fiasco in Liverpool. He's ordered an internal whitewash inquiry into his council's inability to organise the Festival, and the last-minute late cancellation. Of course, it might not be a whitewash, but considering the amount of damage the late dropping of the event could have done to the local economy, at the very leats an independent investigation might look a little more open.

Britney: Might be a drunk, might be a tramp - but not an unfit mother

It looks like authorities have dropped investigations into Britney Spears' parenting skills, although the exact details of what the complaints were and why they've been rejected is a little shrouded in mystery. Probably the strong comeback single helped, though.

Kerrang kranks up krumbly old tracks

Kerrang's Birmingham FM Radio station has won approval from Ofcom to reduce the amount of new music it plays in daytime from a half to a third of its output.

Rather winningly, the station requested the right to play more old music because, its audience gets bored by all the new music it plays. No, really [pdf]:

Pre-release airplay of new/unreleased material means that listeners to a specialist station like Kerrang! are familiar with tracks well before they are released and by the time they enter the mainstream sales chart they are passé. The increased flexibility afforded by the requested change will allow us to more accurately reflect the tastes of our audience.

Aha. So, the audience are so blase about hearing tracks a few weeks old, the only way to keep them interested is to play much, much older music.

Bizarrely, Ofcom let them get away with this, and agreed to their request.

Apple launch Zune-killer

Although, admittedly, it's a bit like killing off the Yangtze Dolphin and not that difficult, Apple have integrated wi-fi into the new iPod. Only, unlike Zune's Zune-to-Zune function, if you're in a wi-fi Zone, you can use Safari to browse the web, access the iTunes store and... well, you know, do stuff online.

The new iTunes Music Store will also let you create ringtones for your iPhone, if you have one - 99cents extra for a double-use iTunes download, apparently. We're not quite sure why you should have to pay any extra money: if you've bought a song, surely you've bought the song, regardless of how it gets played? It's only a step away from charging 79 cents for a song to listen to when you're happy, but then charging an extra 99 cents if you're going to play it a few years later when you're feeling nostalgic.

Apple porn over on the official website. Did we mention the touchscreen?

Sanctuary lost

Universal Records has announced plans to close Sanctuary Records for all but catalogue work in the UK. Universal intend to concentrate on the management and merchandising side of the business; no word yet on what will happen to the sizeable roster of artists, which includes The Charlatans and, um, Lordi.

Mathew Street screw-up threatens Liverpool Council head

Liverpool City Council leader Warrern Bradley is facing a no-confidence motion at tonight's council meeting, following his part in the costly last-minute cancellation of the Mathew Street Festival.

Somewhat surprisingly, Bradley is trying to suggest that his confidence or lack of it to head up the council shouldn't be an issue because there are more important matters to discuss:

Cllr Bradley said he had no intention of stepping down, describing the call as a “political stunt”.

He claimed it detracted from issues such as a debate on tackling gun crime after the death of Rhys Jones, which was due to take place at the town hall meeting.

You have to love the logic of a man who won't accept criticism of the way the city he is the leader of is heading because they've got to find time to talk about the gangs of youths running round with guns and the murder of eleven year-old kids on the street. The casual observer might wonder if, in fact, the gun crime in the city is another symptom of weak leadership rather than something of itself, and if a man who is incapable of organising a few Beatles tribute acts and a bit of a street party is going to have the skills the "city of culture" needs to get through 2008 with a more, rather than less, positive public image at the end of it.

Foxx: No love in an elevator

Jamie Foxx apparently doesn't like to share his lifts, according to Page Six:

"He told guests of the hotel [where he was promoting his latest movie] and journalists to leave the elevator. Then, at every floor where the elevator stopped, the bodyguard would stand with his arm stretched out and say, 'You can't enter' to anyone who tried to get in."

Apparently, this is what Foxx considers to be a denial:
[A] spokesperson for the star has denied the incident, insisting, "There were four to five people in the elevator with Foxx at the time and rushing to get to interviews to promote his film."

Which is interesting, as rather than denying the incident, that sounds more like an attempt to contextualise what happened, and also suggests that Foxx getting to promote some tired action movie is, without question, a priority over any other reason a paying guest might have had for heading down to the lobby.

Next time, they should make him take the bloody stairs.

I Wish That I Could See You Soon

Oh, I can, apparently: Herman Dune is touring this month:

Fri 14 September Dublin, Crawdaddy
Sun 16 Salisbury, End of the Road
Mon 17 Bristol, Thekla
Tue 18 London, ULU
Wed 19 Manchester, Music Box

Left outside

Future of the Left are preparing for their late September album Curses with a UK tour:

Thursday 6th September - Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Sunday 9th September - Brighton Engine Rooms
Monday 10th September - Exeter Cavern Club
Tuesday 11th September - London Madam Jo Jo's
Friday 14th September - Hull Adelphi Club
Saturday 15th September - Leeds Faversham
Monday 17th September - Glasgow Barfly
Tuesday 18th September - Newcastle Head of Steam
Thursday 20th September - Birmingham Barfly
Friday 21st September - Sheffield Casbah
Saturday 22nd September - Coventry Taylor John's House
Monday 24th September - Newport Le Pub
Tuesday 25th September - London Water Rats
Wednesday 26th September - Oxford Wheatsheaf

LiveNation boss gets slow handclap

After eight years with the company through a range of owners, Stuart Galbraith, hitherto Managing Director of the UK arm of LiveNation, has been bottled off by the company. A terse "breach of contract" has so far been the only public explanation.

Daily Mail spots two different Amy Winehouses at Mercurys

The Mail seems to be having trouble making its mind up about about Amy Winehouse at last night's prizegiving:

Singer Amy Winehouse stormed out of the Mercury Music Awards after losing to cult band the Klaxons.


After singing she sat contentedly with her father Mitch and her husband Blake Fielder Civil whom she kissed constantly.

Perhaps she stormed out contentedly?

[Mercury Awards Liveblog]

Quick! Some more fawning

It seems like days since Victoria Newton published some flattering flammery to suck-up to the Spice Girls, so today she's making up for lost time:

Scary looked sensational in her crop top and purple tracksuit as she marched around LA’s Hollywood Hills with her fitness guru just five months after giving birth to Angel Iris.

And Geri is shrinking by the day as she pounds the streets of North London with her huge trainer.

We don't know why Geri is wearing just one huge trainer. Perhaps she's got a club foot.

Radio One More Time: The Charts

It's the new!
Top 40!
On Radio 1

For the first thirty years or so of Radio One's life, the station was driven by the charts. Not every programme, of course. Even so, the programmes which weren't built on an obsession with what records would go up, which would go down, which wouldn't make the cut, even these were defined as much by their lack of interest in the charts.

It's less marked now, of course, because the chart is less important nationally, and for those that still have an interest, there are many places where you can find the data. But back when the list of best-selling singles had some pull, its importance was such that it would get no less than four reveals.

The computers of the chart compilers - BRMB, then Gallup - used to run much slower, and the lack of computery-based instant data meant that although sales were still closed off at the weekend (Saturday nights, because no shops opened on Sundays selling records), the chart was never ready until Tuesday lunchtimes. They used to telex it across to Radio One - which, young people, was blooding exciting new technology, albeit so old you were getting the news that KajaGooGoo were at number one in the same way that they arrested Crippen - where it would get its big reveal after Newsbeat.

Of course, only office workers, kids who'd smuggled transistors into school and invalids would be aware of the shape of the new chart, so it would get another run-out at teatime. Peter Powell's show, for a very long time, got this honour.

The next day, the Breakfast Show would repeat the information, in only a slightly truncated form: the numbers up, the numbers down; playing the highest new entry, the biggest climber and the number one.

Then, Sunday nights, and the whole thing would be worked through with forensic detail. All forty records, complete with a summary of that week's performance: their progress on the chart measured in the SI unit of sales data, "the big Top 40 place". So you might have gone down ten big Top 40 places, or up seven big Top 40 places. Of course, by Sunday, everyone who was interested - which, in the 1980s, was pretty much everyone under the age of 40 - knew what number one was, but surprise wasn't the point of the programme. This existed in relation to the Tuesday run-down in the way the Classified Football Results related to the Grandstand teleprinter; the definitive against the breaking. Blackburn or Vance or Brookes counting down the "only chart that counts" was always the last word, never the first report, and it was when the shift in technology allowed the Sunday nights to be the reveal that it all started to go wrong. Listening to the charts on Sunday nights was a solitary affair, packing schoolbags or making packed lunches, whereas the Tuesday lunchtime rundown was enjoyed with friends, or colleagues, or the big boy from the fifth year who'd stolen your radio. In a bid to make the charts more of an 'event', Radio One inadvertently helped kill them off.

[Radio One More Time]

Diddy buys Girl Scout Cookies in Ibiza

Look, that YouTube video where P Diddy appears to be doing a deal in a Ibiza club?

It's cookies he's buying. Clearly. Two boxes, please. That's what he's asking for.

After all:

[Diddy]’s lawyer said last night: “Any suggestion he is buying drugs would be patently false. He does not use drugs.”

Kate Moss Kills

Virginia Wheeler over at The Sun claims that:

KATE MOSS has finally ditched druggie ex PETE DOHERTY for good — to date a VEGAN rocker.

Oh, really? In other words, she was out drinking with James Ince from The Kills.

Virginia helpfully provides a checklist of how different Ince is from Doherty:
Jamie, 34, of Hampshire, is not thought to have any criminal convictions, has described himself as a “chain-smoking vegan” and “introverted” and was named in the world’s top ten sexiest vegetarians in a poll this year.

On the other hand, Ince might seem to most people to be exactly like Kate's usual boyfriends, what with the being in a band and all.

Just to clarify

The story today claiming that Sharon Osbourne is 'quitting' The X Factor is a genuine news story, and not more tiresome PR-guff trying to make it look like everyone's talking about the programme.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Madonna hasn't used her special powers

Madonna's "spokesperson" has denied that her boss has used undue influence:

“The plans to finalize the adoption of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s son, David, are proceeding as outlined almost a year ago … There has been absolutely no interference with Government Officials or use of Madonna’s ‘celebrity’ to speed up this adoption as reported.”

We suspect this might be Liz Rosenberg, who, of course, told the world there wasn't going to be any adoption while Madonna was already measuring children to see which would fit the family photos the best.

We could be generous and accept this statement at face value, but if it's true that Madonna and Guy have followed the standard adoption procedures that anyone in Malawi would have go through, how does that square with Madonna's claims in interviews that there were no rules, and she and the good officials of Malawi had to "make them up as they went along"?

It's all very confusing.

Mercury Music Prize: Liveblog

BBC Four's continuity promises us that "anything could happen" at the "most controversial music prize in the world". Controversial? Sure, it's not like there's many actually controversial music awards - nobody's ever gone to war over the Junos, for example, but The Source Awards surely are more fractious?

Jo Whiley and Jools Holland are presenting, as bloody ever - can't they find someone, anyone different for this? Dizzee Rascal's always there for no reason, they could get him to do it, surely? Make the trip worth his while.

The View are the first live band - "truly fantastic", says Jo. After their song, Jools has to announce them twice before the audience realises they're supposed to applaud.

Maps. It's hard to make mainly electronic music seem exciting in a live context, and great though Maps are, it would probably be wearing to sit through much of this at a gig. BBC Four try to perk things up by using an effect to make it look like you're actually watching him on a television. It doesn't help; nor does the low-budget version of the digital dotstream Nine Inch Nails had at Reading, to be honest.

BBC News Online have blown the one surprise of the evening - Amy Winehouse does turn up. Oh, so it's not live, and so, erm, the claim that "anything" could happen is a bit of a fib. If anything surprising, like bombs or evisceration had happened, they could have edited it out.

Jamie T does Salvador. He looks astonishingly like a young Stuart Adamson this evening; and his vocals are completely swamped in the mix, which means that anyone taking this chance to judge Jools Holland's praise for his wit and wisdom would be out of luck. The audience look a bit bored, but then every act at the Mercury is greeted with something akin to half-stoned indifference.

Picking up his nomination prize, Jamie T mutters some thank yous.

Ooh! New Young Pony Club!

Tahita's gone for a Davina-esque red dress; Lou has an ill-advised neck decoration that reminds me of Mrs. Macey, the school secretary who always seemed to be wearing a neck brace. Latterly, I've come to suspect she might have had a fetish rather than a neck problem.

The sound is pretty poor for them, which is a pity, but at least they had the wisdom to not do the one from the telephone commercial.

They're on the 'second stage' so they don't get to shake Jools' hand when they get their prize.

Radio 3's Charles Hazlewood (who's helping judge) and Holby City's Adrian Edmondson are now talking to Jo Whiley.

Hazlewood is telling us what a "massive job" listening to all the records "in theory" was. He looks a bit like Keith Allen tonight - he's always smarter when he's doing stuff about Tchaikovsky. He reckons the Mercury is "more esoteric" than The Brits, which is true, in the same way that having your arm cut off is less painful than having a red-hot poker put in your eye.

Adrian said New Young Pony Club were "more like a normal band" this evening than a group of children "on vodka".

"Songs are very hard to write" observes Adrian. Luckily, before he can elaborate, The Young Knives are taking the stage with their "misfit anthems" (as Jools explains.)

It's interesting that wearing some cheap-looking suits is enough to constitute a gimmick these days.

More than ever, tonight, The Young Knives prove to be the British Weezer.

Jools muffs reading out the name of Bat For Lashes' album. They're "wonderful and incredible", but he was clearly reading that.

She's already got her nomination award sat on her keyboard - I wonder if you get to choose if you'll be touching Jools Holland or not?

Being mainly vocal is a big plus, with the dreadful sound mixing not working against BFL.

I wonder if those are real peacock feathers.

Jools details The Arctic Monkeys' current tour schedule, leading into a bit of film of them holding a prize in Tokyo. They've abandoned doing amusing or interesting acceptance videos, then.

By not being in the room, they've left the choice of track representing them to a BBC Producer. Which is why the last thing the judges will hear from them prior to voting is, erm, Teddy Picker, from Glastonbury, a track whose filler-status was so obvious it's being offered alongside baked beans and cheese in the Spud-U-Like chain.

Fionn Regan has been called "a modern day Irish troubadour" says Jools. Why not just spit at him, Jools?

It was a character on A Bit of Fry and Laurie who first observed how distressing it is to have the harmonica played badly at oneself. To be fair, judging by how much Fionn is blinking, he's very, very nervous. Perhaps he realised that it's not a good idea to throw hungry critics a line like "be good or be gone" to play with.

He's got FR in blue sticky tape on his guitar, presumably because he's afraid that it might get muddled up with one of Amy Winehouse's guitars backstage. He might also have his name stitched into his underpants. The audience does cheer him, though, slightly lukewarmly. But it's a cheer, nevertheless.

Is Spud-U-Like still going?

Jo is now on the balcony getting the names of The Young Knives wrong. They don't seem to be bothered, though, giving off the air of men who;ve just completed a successful audit.

Natasha is also up there with them: she says the Mercurys are like a giant hamster wheel.

Apparently, there are still about two dozen Spud-U-Likes around the country, and a couple in Dublin. "There are only 25 calories per ounce in a spudulike potato" they tell us.

Dizzee Rascal is "a unique voice" says Jools - presumably meaning unique in the sense of the "only British black artist they can think of at shortlisting time". His DJ is doing something to the turntable with his mouth, which may or may not be a tribute to Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. Dizzee loves it, apparently, when he sees a pretty girl.

Spud-U-Like's website also boasts that "spudulike potatoes have value as a supplementary source of good quality protein", which is one of the few claims that Dizzee Rascal doesn't make during his track. Maybe in next year's Mercury nominated album, eh?

Amy Winehouse - "we're thrilled that Amy's here" says Jools, as in "surprised". She's wearing a beach towel, so presumably rushed here straight from that Caribbean Drug Getaway. It sounds like she knows she's got to do a shut-'em-up-performance, but doesn't quite make it.

Still, the record industry audience applaud like Jesus has just brought a round for them all. They'll be turning to each other and saying "and they say we don't support our artists..."

Basquiat Strings. My wife takes one look at the hair and calls a bathroom break.

Since bands like this never win the prize, but are there purely to allow the organisers to pretend they're eclectic, shouldn't they get an extra award alongside the standard nomination trophy? Or at least their cab fare paid. Or something.

Actually, it's like Prince Harry with Charlie Chuck on drums.

The Klaxons. "Exhilarating" pronounces Jools, sounding more relieved we've finally made it through the shortlist acts. Blimey, an act that sounds halfway decent. Could the mixing desk have advance intelligence of the judge's decision and are attempting to give the winners a secret hand by making them sound better than their peers this evening? Or are they just so relieved that Winehouse didn't vomit into the monitors they're able to concentrate on the affair at hand?

Briefly, Jools Holland looks like a man who is going to have to hold up a copy of today's paper and read out a list of his captor's demands.

Jo has now been joined by Adrain Edmondson and "friend of Bono" Neil McCormick from the Telegraph (he hasn't yet mentioned if people he doesn't know are still trying to kill him.)

McCormick tells us that Jamie T is "so now" but burbles on instead about how great Winehouse is. He then says before the Mercurys "we hadn't heard about Bat For Lashes before", which might be the case, we guess, if you spend most of your time hanging out with Bono.

Whiley cues up the obligatory package of previous winners, the only time the name "Roni Size" is ever heard on television all year.

Adrian Edmondson is still there. Now, I loved his adverts for Nat West as much as anyone's sell-out commercial work, but in a room supposedly full of the cream of the UK music industry, can't they find anyone else to share an opinion? Surely Conor McNicholas will be there with his hair washed and a clean shirt?

McCormick is bloody obsessed with Jamie T.

There's a comedy posh bookmaker doing a show of the odds now. He offers a "maybe the Klaxons" but Bat For Lashes leading the betting.

Jools is going to announce the winner: "only one can be the overall winner tonight" he helpfully reminds us. In case we've not quite got the idea of how a prize for best album might work.

Jools has two envelopes - one with a cheque in, one with the name of the winner in. Nationwide pay the winner by cheque?

Blake Idiot is in the audience.

It's The Klaxons. They are, it's fair to say, more surprised than they are drunk. And they're very drunk indeed. The microphones are unable cope, so they trash the microphones.

Lauren Laverne has now popped up on the balcony. Neil is slightly shocked - "they were always on the outside of who I thought would win" he says, forgetting that, erm, he hadn't mentioned them as possible winners in his earlier interview.

Oh, Lauren's been a judge again. The Klaxons have run onto the balcony - be careful, lads, she's pregnant. Jools has run after them with the cheque - which, if Nationwide used chip and pin technology to make the transfer, could have been avoided.

The Klaxons are being very happy and pleased, as if it's not quite sunk in that this, for them, is going to be the high water mark.

Madonna gets a new case worker

The controversial Penstone Kilembe, who may or may not have accepted an airline ticket from Madonna, has been replaced as the Malawian official due to visit London to assess Madonna and Guy's fitness to appoint a nanny to look after David Banda.

Simon Chisale is now going to do the job, although that comes as news to Penstone:

Mr Kilembe, who returned to Malawi on Monday after attending a conference in the US, said he had not heard of the move and denied any wrongdoing.

"I am not aware of these developments. I have just arrived from New York and nobody from my office has told me anything. I will be in the office tomorrow," he said.

Oh, dear. Penstone has been out of the loop. There isn't going to be an office tomorrow:
In an affidavit presented to the court, child welfare officials said Mr Kilembe was leaving the ministry and "moving on to a new posting", but did not go into detail.

Doherty swings out of jail. Again.

Who knew that Pete Doherty would swerve out of jail one more time?

This time, he managed to get sentencing pushed back until October 2nd by pledging to enter "voluntary residential rehab".

His lawyer, Sean Curran, claims Doherty is doing well:

"I think he's quite serious. He's asked to go in and he's still there so he's trying," Curran told The Mirror.

... before repeating "Denny Crane" over and over again.

A cynical observer might wonder if this sudden desire to try, once again, residential rehab is less about a genuine desire to kick drugs, and more a genuine desire to avoid being sentenced to time in prison. Still, we're sure everyone will get the option to exercise the chance to go away for a little holiday instead of being sentenced for offence after offence. "Sorry, your honour, my client has elected to go for a week to Minehead Butlins instead of answering these robbery charges..."

Kelly Osbourne tats tidied

Kelly Osbourne was surprised when she saw the publicity material for her stint in Chicago, the home for broken careers. No, she wasn't surprised she'd been cast in a musical, but that they'd airbrushed out her tattoos:

"It's a bit daft as everyone knows I have them. But I won't cover them up for the show - I'm very proud of them."

We've never quite seen why you'd be "proud" of a tattoo, since all it is is something someone else has done to you: it's like a piece of canvas taking pride in what an artist has painted upon it. Only not quite the same, as canvas doesn't actually pay the artist.

And we love the idea that Kelly really believes people will see the pictures and register that her apparently world-famous tattoos were missing, as if they were seeing a picture of the House of Parliament with Big Ben blotted out.

Even if people did notice, surely they'd assume that, since Osbourne is meant to be playing a woman from the 1920s, she'd probably covered up the tattoos herself on the grounds that the woman she's portraying would hardly be likely to be covered in multi-colour anchors and half-hearted wings in that decade.

Osbourne hasn't really got the whole point of "acting is pretending to be someone else", has she?

Frog still not-quite croaked

Remember SpiralFrog? It was an iTunes killer that got a few people excited about eighteen months or so back, with its promise of an advertising-supported free-music webservice.

It's still not quite got round to launching, or making any cash, despite having got through twelve million dollars; it's now hoping to pull in another $25million.

Quite where they see these fools hovering, waiting to be separated from their money, isn't clear. Back when they managed to generate a bit of buzz, they might have been able to persuade some people to part with millions; but now, surely, it's time to just drown this box of frogs.

Kershaw bailed

Andy Kershaw has been bailed on charges relating to the breaching of a restraining order; he's due back in court on the 18th September to answer the charges.

Mixing Suga again?

According to Victoria Newton, the Sugababes ' revolving door is about to spin again: she reckons they're auditioning a replacement for Amelle.

It appears the other two are less worried about the shabby boyfriend and bad behaviour, it's more a timekeeping thing:

“Keisha and Heidi are the ultimate professionals when it comes to their career. They have worked hard for everything they have achieved. Amelle doesn’t seem to take it as seriously. When the girls were recording their latest album, Amelle kept arriving late to the studio. They had blazing rows over timekeeping."

Clock cards, ladies. That's the answer.

Radio One More Time: Which Way Now?

As part of the BBC, Radio One has always struggled to justify its existence - mainly to people who felt that all the network did was play pop music (for some people, a waste of money in its own right) or duplicate the work done by the commercial radio sector (a common complaint even before the ILR network was completed, meaning that everyone had access to a Top 40 station; usually heard from someone who couldn't tell them the difference between John Peel and Johnny Vaughan's musical choices).

Radio One, clearly, needed to prove it was different and valuable in a way to critics who couldn't see that there was a difference between a radio giving a session to the Jesus And Mary Chain and one playing Rick Astley seven times a day. An easy way of doing this, of course, was to promote Social Awareness. Of, you know, things.

My first actual intersection with one of the network's big campaigns was when I sent off for a Which Way Now? pack - a plastic folder, crammed with helpful information on choosing your options wisely, and a colour picture of Peter Powell. It arrived too late to actually help me choose my options, and I suspect had I followed its advice I would have wound up doing Geography in the portakabin classroom with Young Mr Curtis rather than History in the bottom of the C-Block with Mr Nicholls, which would have been rather a mistake.

More useful was the Art-E-Fax campaign on Janice Long's show, which although smaller in scope (not breaking in to programming every five minutes across the day) was much more useful. It was, seriously, the first time anyone had suggested to me that working in what we're now expected to term the "creative industries" was something you could seriously aspire to rather than the sort of pipe dream which would see you "starving in a garret". This was back when there were only just four TV networks, four national radio networks and none of that internet business; schools career teachers tended to rely on "bakery or army" as providing 'career choice'. It was just the sort of encouragement I needed; without it, I suspect by now I would be a very, very rich baker. And miserable.

The more usual social action stuff would be what you'd expect - endless campaigns about the dangers of drugs, and AIDS, and getting AIDS while taking drugs. To be fair to the commercial sector, this sort of accessible advice, delivered by djs and tucked between pop songs, wasn't the sole preserve of Radio 1; ILR stations used to do it a lot, too, and for much the same reasons. Partly a desire to be of genuine assistance to their listeners, but mostly because it made good sense for their survival - a promise of community action was essential to persuading the IBA or the Radio Authority to choose your franchise bid. This might seem a cynical viewpoint, but the way the larger commercial stations dropped their in-house teams working on such material as soon as licence terms were made more fluid in the late 90s would suggest conviction was less motivating than the desire to appear a good corporate citizen.

It's not recorded if Simon Bates saved more people from drug misuse than his programme drove to drink.

[Radio One More Time]

Live fast, die young, leave some pretty research

There is a serious message at the heart of the study by Mark Bellis of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University. This is the report which seems to claim being a pop star is bad for your health, and upon the discoveries Bellis hangs a plea for everyone to take more care of our pop stars:

"Pop stars can suffer high levels of stress in environments where alcohol and drugs are widely available, leading to health-damaging risk behaviour.

"Their behaviour can also influence would-be stars and devoted fans.

"Collaboration between health and music industries should focus on improving both pop star health and their image as role models. Public health consideration needs to be given to preventing music icons promoting health-damaging behaviour among their emulators and fans."

Which, you know, it's hard to argue against when Pete Doherty's due in court and William Hill have been taking bets on whether or not Winehouse will turn up for the Mercury Awards.

But we're not sure that either the methodology of the study, nor its conclusion, are right.

The contention that rock and pop stars are more likely to die than non-pop stars is based on
1,064 US and European rock musicians and singers who featured in an all-time top 1,000 albums chart compiled in 2000.

The conclusion from looking at this subset is that:
Overall, 100 pop stars included in the study had died, with chronic drug or alcohol-related problems or overdose accounting for a quarter of deaths. The average age of death was 35 for European stars and 42 for those from the US.

Between three and 25 years after becoming famous - defined as appearing in the charts - pop stars were found to be 1.7 times more likely to die. Twenty years after first achieving chart success, 10 per cent of US stars and four per cent of those in Europe were dead - twice the normal rate.

But are the people who made albums in an 'all-time best-of' chart a fair cross-section of rock and pop stars? Isn't there an extent to which the best-known stars, the one whose records are remembered later on, who continue to sell, are the ones whose early death makes them notorious?

In other words, how can Bellis be sure these people are dead because they're on the chart, and not on the chart because they're dead?

Then there's the question of if Kurt Cobain and Ian Curtis, and the other rock and roll suicides, would not have killed themselves had they not been in the music industry? To paraphrase Nick Hornby, are they sad because they're rock stars, or are they rock stars because they're sad? Could 'being a musician' be a symptom of a tendency to suicide, rather than a cause?

And is it fair to compare 'rock stars' with the general population? If you're going to blame the fame and success of selling records as being a cause of an early death, would it not be more appropriate to compare the death rates with other jobs where young people suddenly become well-known and/or incredibly rich in a profession high on dangerous air-travel in private jets and long periods of not having much to do?

Not to mention how, the "twice as likely to die" for European rock stars seems to be quite a large claim based on a small sample and a comparison between 2 per cent and 4 per cent - how much of that would disappear in a margin of error?

Still, it's always nice to see the social sciences being treated seriously.

Amy & Blake deny being Sid & Nancy

Not, of course, that anyone believed they were, but just to make it clear, Amy Winehouse and Blake Thingy have denied they're Sid and Nancy:

Amy told The Sun: “We are not going to end up like them. We’re in love and have everything to live for.”

Although, erm, that's not really any different from Sid and Nancy, is it?
Blake said: “We vehemently deny the stuff about drugs. It’s speculation — it’s rubbish.

We admit things have been a little crazy and have to change. We’re going to sort ourselves out.”

Interesting. We wonder if Blake will be launching a legal action against these claims, then - he could start by suing his own parents who have been telling anyone who'd listen that the couple were drugged off their faces.

Meanwhile, Courtney Love has been on the internet to deny that she ever said anyfink about Winehouse:
“NEVER hav i siad Shit about amy! why would i? imet her god for less time than i wa sxin the roonm woth you nd her- im suspicious about wher this quote cam from its too illtimed- whose her pr? Frued? My sex drugs and rock n rill philosphoy is this unlssyour hurting me or people i love then live and let live - just use a rubber. thaTS IT!

“just cos i cant do drugs and havnty for what 3 yers now right? almost exactly- doesnt mean i judge anyone who does, i dont , especially someone i respec t and have only positive thoughts for. My apologies to Winehouse for this nonsense.”

Although, we're at a loss as to how this "I don't judge people who does drugs" claim fits with, you know, all that stuff about Steve Coogan from last week.

Could someone show Courtney how to install the spellcheck on Firefox, by the way?

Monday, September 03, 2007


The most surprising thing about the Tuborg Music website is that it's promoting Tuborg. Tuborg, which has been relaunched after - what - two decades off British shelves. Well, we say shelves, it tended to be more in dump bins rather than shelves. Presumably they had to wait until everyone who could remember what it tasted like had died before they could try to market it as a groovy, young person's lager, rather than the stuff you'd see reluctantly purchased by your uncle when he'd left getting the beers in too late for a family get-together.

It's presumably why is excited by the Towers of London - they were a cheap alternative to enjoyment that were briefly available a few years back, until they disappeared from a market that developed more sophisticated tastes.

We're all going on Kabbalah holiday

How heartwarming to hear of plans for Madonna to go on a celebrity-sparkled "pilgrimage" round the holy sites of Kabbalah - the ones in Israel rather than, say, the place where they pump the ordinary water into plastic bottles to help increase the price of it. She's supposedly going with Donna Karan, Demi Moore and Ashton 'Dude, where's my cult' Kutcher.

It's notable that, rather than hire a coach, they've got a private jet - so, presumably, this is a different Madonna from the one who appealed to us to take care of the planet during Live Earth.

iForward, iForward Russia!

Coming next month: a Forward Russia tour designed to get you feeling all over-exicited down there at the prospect of the new album early next year.

Hull, The Lamp – October 23
Leicester, Charlotte – 24
Cardiff, Barfly – 25
Exeter, Cavern – 26
Brighton, Barfly – 27
Sheffield, Leadmill – 29
Sunderland, Independent – 30
Dundee, Reading Rooms – 31
York, Fibbers – November 1
Bradford, St Georges Hall - 2

Mariah Carey keeps all her fan mail

Yes, it's apparently true - Mariah never throws away a letter, however odd:

She tells British newspaper the Daily Star of one letter, "(It said) Jennifer Lopez is a skank who can't sing. I'm not encouraging the negativity but I think these fans are hilarious."

Actually, we suspect it doesn't really count as a letter from a fan if it's one returned because you put too little postage on, but thanks for sharing.

The old punk yawns again

Estate Agent and celebrity reality TV star John Lydon is currently - oh, lord - judging an online battle of the bands which exists solely to promote some sort of gambling website.

Wired ask him how The Sex Pistols would have done in this sort of competition:

The Sex Pistols would never have turned up. We wouldn't have bothered with it in the first place. And ah, dude, you've got to look at the world differently then, it was a different time.... You'd get seen by playing live in pubs, clubs, bars or anywhere else you could scrounge a quick living. And guess what, we were underage. We weren't allowed to drink in these places, but we were certainly capable of having bottles thrown at us.

I grew up in a world of boo boys. No matter what we did, it wasn't good enough, and (we played to) generally an older crowd. We eventually brought our own crowd, and changed the world because of it. Generally, the hippie lot from the previous generation were a spiteful bunch of fuckers. They didn't want to share the world with us.

Was it especially surprising that the "hippies" didn't want to share the world with a man who didn't trust them and used "hippy" like an insult?

We love the attempt to square the circle of doing something so mainstream as being a Mickie Most for the the 21st century with having been in a supposedly punk band calls on Lydon to try and pull off an "it was all different in my day, son" fib: there's probably, if anything, less reason for a band to go on a Casino-promoting game show than there would have been for the Sex Pistols to have done New Faces.

Even more amusingly, Lydon then attempts to square his support for Monarchy with his professed Anarchy:
I like the royal family. I think it could be a fun institution. The trouble was, for a few years there, we had a Union Jack stolen from us. Nazism crept into Great Britain. We managed to kick that on its head, and the royal family made some stupid decisions about people like me. They turned their back on the working class, which, frankly, is their bread and butter. We're the true supporters of their institution, and were treated as though we didn't belong. Several statements were made to that end by the royal family, and it all ended a negative way.

Hmm. Nazism creeping into Great Britain, you say, Lydon? Now... remind me again, what was the band who went on TV with friends wearing swastika armbands...

Rowntree won't be Liverpool MP

Dave Rowntree has lost out in the fifty-person battle to make the shortlist for Labour candidate for West Derby. Stephen Twigg is the only 'glittery' name taking on Bob Wareing for the safe Labour seat.

Tickets and ticketmatters

We can understand the concerns about people buying third-market tickets for a hitherto-unannounced Led Zep reunion tour, but it's interesting that the most worried man is Harvey Goldsmith:

In a statement, the rock promoter said: "There have been at least four events advertised which I suspect either don't exist or where no tickets are on sale or indeed dates finalised."

Now, is that the words of a man who is merely interested in the poor folk being fleeced, or are the words of a man inadvertently revealing that (a) Led Zeppelin are reuniting; (b) he's promoting the tour and (c) some of the tickets being sold are for actual gigs.

Which takes away some of the surprise and, rather than makes the third market seem unattractive, surely makes it more likely that punters will, well, take a punt on there being some sort of tickets at the end of it?

Meanwhile, the Guardian's money supplement gathered together some of those discontented with Prince's "all £31.21" ticket pricing. In particular, those who paid £235 for tickets to be "in the front ten rows", only to discover Ticketmaster then auctioning off the very front row. And then announcing another set of £250 seats "integrated into the stage".

Some people were understandably pissed off they'd forked out a small fortune for what they thought would be the best seats in the house, only to discover after they'd committed, there were better seats to be had after all. Others, that they'd paid thirty quid only to discover there were rich, braying types "integrated" into the stage.

Kaiser Chiefs launch attack on Pink

The Kaiser Chiefs want to have a pop at someone, which means they've been seeking a soft target. Unfortunately, they've chosen Pink.

In particular, Simon Rix has called Dear Mr President 'idiotic':

"She's just crap. Fact is, Pink stinks. Take a look at that song Dear Mr President - it's just terrible. The lyrics are idiotic.

"Pink is like a practical joke being played on the world. Can't say I love the girl."

Hmm. Idiotic? It might be simplistic, but at least it's about something, rather than the constant repetition of a girl's name over and over again, or rhyming "you'd be dead" with "shopping basket round your head"; the references to Bush's supposed-former alcoholism and drugs use were enough to get the song banned from some US radio stations and warnings to presenters not to discuss it in interviews, and to directly address some of the hypocrisy of the current White House occupants in a pop song is both useful and - in light of what happened to the Dixie Chicks - rather a brave move. Braver, certainly, than the Daily Mail-rewrites-Misshapes that was I Predict A Riot, anyway.

Two bald men fighting over a combover

War. It's an ugly business. And it's not going to help if you imagine Sting and Denis Leary, naked and oiled-up, fighting over who has the least hair. Sting started it:

"I saw Denis Leary deconstruct me on television. He said, 'Sting singing about saving the fucking rainforest - he should save his fucking hair.'

"I want to meet Denis Leary in about 10 years. 'Hey, Denis, how's it feel, ya bald cunt.'"

That was in 1993. Hopes that we'd be living in a world where neither Sting nor Denis Leary were of any relevance have come to nothing, and Leary now wants to let Sting run his fingers through his hair:
"Sting called me a cunt. I said something about his hair, or lack thereof, and he called me a cunt and said that when I got older, we should compare hair.

"And I'm like, Let's go! I'm 50! Let's go!"

NBC is rumoured to be interested in a live hair-off, where both men will wear hats until told by a moderator to show their wigs.

El DeBarge banged up

El DeBarge has been arrested on domestic violence charges; he's being held inside as there were a couple of drugs charges floating about too.

Oddly, DeBarge seems to wind up in legal grief every ten years - doubtless, the next time we'll hear of him will be around 2016.

KT Tunstall jumps on women's bodies

"Shoelaces with big boobs" is how KT Tunstall thinks of the unhealthy Heat magazine body archetype:

I don't know any guys who want to go out with a shoelace with big boobs. All the guys I know like girls who look like women.

"It's very twisted that women are being bombarded with the idea that this is what they should look like.

"You're left feeling inadequate and with a general sense of low self-confidence.

"There's nothing wrong with a young person wanting to be famous and rich through doing something they're passionate about but it seems to be breeding this desire in younger people to get very, very famous and rich in anyway they possibly can."

We're not entirely sure we follow her morality here: is there a problem if you're passionate about making yourself look like a big-breasted stick? If it's okay to want to be rich, but not very, very rich, where is the cut-off point where richness becomes wrong.

Tunstall, of course, blames television:
"TV firms don't seem to have any standards about what they're pumping out for young people to watch."

"It's really fucked up.

"I don't have a television any more because reality TV just made me sick.

"It's very addictive. It hooks you in and you end up watching shit for hours."

Curious that "reality TV" makes her "sick" but she watches it for "hours" - presumably she'd angled her telly so she could see it from the bathroom. But while it's brave of KT to thjrow out her TV, if she was really that annoyed at what TV companies are doing, shouldn't she refuse to appear on networks which "pump out" these fucked up programmes? And, indeed, request her record company stops funding them by advertising her record in their commercial breaks? And ban all those reality TV shows which lob "Suddenly I See" on any package featuring a "beautiful girl"?

Or does her outrage only come into force when she's not on the receiving end of a benefit?