Saturday, October 06, 2007


Britney Spears is calling her new album - assuming it can be recorded (or, more likely, assembled by producers painfully grafting old stuff and the odd flash of coherence) - Blackout.

There's a reason, which sounds like it might have been cooked up over a bottle of Jose Carrero:

The title "refers to blocking out negativity and embracing life fully," said the star's record label Jive.

... and not, as you might have assumed, to the mornings when you wake up naked, three miles from town, with only a guava with a face drawn on it for company.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jive aren't expecting Britney to do much to help sales:
"It's not Jive's place to fashion a public-relations campaign with respect to Britney's personal issues," label spokesman Allan Mayer told MTV, "but Jive does care about her and does support her.

"There's no question that when you have someone at this level of celebrity, they become like cartoons or soap-opera characters, and we forget that they're human beings.

"People say that's the trade you make - that you have to give up your privacy or the ability to lead a normal life - but sometimes you make that bargain before you realize what it entails and it's too late."

Aha. Jive is worried about its artist, and not merely bowing to the inevitable. We wonder where its concern was when it was pushing her onto the MTV Awards show. Perhaps they'd forgotten she wasn't a "cartoon character".

Durst dissed by man he hit

The chap whose car was hit by Fred Durst - and who Durst then apparently drove into - has been talking about his meeting with the man:

Robert Chadwick told that he and a friend were leaving his mother's Hollywood Hills home when he felt their car get a bump from behind. "I turn around and there's a man getting out of a new BMW convertible. ... He was combative and nasty and insulting from the get-go. He was looking for a fight. He's a scary guy," said Chadwick of Durst.

Said Chadwick,"Mr. Durst ends up with a small fine and picking weeds by the road or something. You don't even have to be much of a celebrity to get special justice in L.A."

Yes, it's truly a golden age: after celebrity 'justice' comes c-list justice...

Cradle Of Filth's World of trouble

There seems some attempt to pin a drunken brawl in Dallas on Cradle Of filth's tiresome crowd-goading behaviour, although a fight between two drunk guys "a couple of blocks" from where the band was playing sounds more like typical Friday night behaviour to us, however much the band might like to expand their 'dark' (read: Munsters-crossed-with-WWE) reputation.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Christmas is cancelled this year

With the rather dispiriting news that William Hill are so convinced that whatever flesh-creation the X Factor spits out this year will be the Christmas number one that they're betting without and only taking wagers on the Christmas number two, who can we turn to but Gennaro Castaldo, voice of the now-defunct HMV record shops, to sum up the nation's mood at this difficult time:

Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said: “The way music is being consumed may be changing, but we Brits still love the race for the Christmas number one. It’s part of our tradition now.

“It would be great to see a genuine contest again rather than the X-Factor shoo-in that it has become, and what better song to reclaim the Christmas number one for the British public than the timeless White Christmas – surely the ultimate Christmas single.”

Yes, Castaldo is throwing his weight behind Blake, the supposed "Facebook" band who are offering up a cover of Bing's Christmas standard as their bulwark against the X-Factor, although we'd have hoped that rather than try and flog some singles, Castaldo might have pointed out that there's bugger all point in taking bets on the Christmas Number Two. It's like running a book on if it'll snow the day after Boxing Day: yes, you can make the bet, but who really cares about the outcome?

Voice of the Beehive Weekend: On The Tube

Continuing our trawl through Google's video search to harvest some Voice of the Beehive gems, this is the band doing the Beat of Love live on The Tube:

[Part of the Voice of the Beehive weekend]

The X-Factor stinks

As if in some laboratory demonstration of the ease with which a fool and money can be put asunder, they're launching an X-Factor perfume. You and I might think this would be the stink of desperation, but the Fragrance Shop says not:

A spokeswoman for the store said: "Since the talent show phenomenon first launched there has been massive debate about just what constitutes the X factor and more importantly who has it, and now it's been bottled for everyone."

The Fragrance Shop is, of course, to perfumiers what those stores with large, scoopable tubs of off-brand breakfast cereals and dried fruit are to the Harrods Food Hall, but even for them this is stretching it a bit.

As James P pointed out when he brought this festive-market product to our attention:

So that's that settled then. When Simon Cowell says he's looking for someone with the X factor, what he means is 'someone who smells of repackaged Jade Goody perfume'.

Oh, and there's also this: "Maker ScentUps claims the scent will help fans become 'part of the excitement and glamour of becoming a pop star'". Bottles are priced at £12.99 each, so presumably when they say "become part of the glamour of becoming a pop star", the pop star in question is Lisa Scott Lee.

Although 'smells of repackaged Jade Goody' does pretty much sum up Shayne Ward, if you ask us.

Cerys comes home

The Western Mail has been in touch with Cerys Matthews, who - by their reckoning - is back in Pembrokeshire now. The difference in approach between the regional and nation press is illustrated by their gentle touch around Matthews' marriage:

The conversation is full of “we’s” which makes it hard to get to the bottom of rumours that have been flying around Wales saying that the singer had split with her husband.

Whatever the truth, it seems the 38-year-old is not keen to discuss the matter over the phone.

When asked if Seth was helping with the packing she simply says, “No.”

In response to whether she’s still enjoying family and married life, she answers a straightforward, “Yeah.”

And when asked if everything is still fine, despite rumours of difficulties, she adds, “Yeah.” The conversation is closed.

You suspect that, had this interview been typed up in London rather than Cardiff, the result might have been rather less respectful of Cerys' desire to not talk about it.

Something old, something new...

ATP records has come up with a new spin on the Singles Club, cooking up the Custom Made idea where bands will be invited to contribute something old (an old song), something new (a taste of their latest record), something borrowed (a cover) and something blue (a recording of the drummer having sex with a groupie... or, rather "open to interpretation) to make a double seven inch single pack.

First up is The Drones:

Side A. Something old – Cockeyed Lowlife of the Highlands (New recording of this old song)
Side B. Something new – I Don’t Ever Want to Change (taken from the album Gala Mill)
Side C. Something borrowed – I Drink (originally by Charles Aznavour)
Side D. Something blue – Shark Fin Blues (taken from the album Wait Long By the River…)

The singles will be in a limited run of 1,000, with the first 100 being in a silkscreen package; if you can't get physical there's the option of a download edition.

Dirty, dirty tour

The takes-some-adjustment sound of a Mexican restaurant in a building site staffed by angels of the Dirty Projectors is coming at you. Assuming you're in Europe:

10/15/07 London, UK - Cargo w/ The Blow
10/16/07 London, UK - Bardens Boudoir
10/17/07 Manchester, UK - Academy 2 w/ Battles
10/18/07 Edinburgh, UK - Liquid Room w/ Battles
10/19/07 New Castle, UK - Stage 2 w/ Battles
10/21/07 Kortrijk, BE - Sonic City Festival w/ Deerhoof
10/22/07 Tourooing, FR - Le Grand Mix w/ Deerhoof
10/23/07 Lyon, FR - Ground Zero
10/24/07 Poitiers, FR - Conforte Moderne w/ Deerhoof
10/25/07 Nantes, FR - Olympic w/ Deerhoof
10/26/07 Cherbourg, FR - L'Epicentre
10/27/07 Paris-Boulogne, FR - BB Mix Festival w/ Deerhoof
10/28/07 Düdingen, CH - Bad Bonn
10/29/07 St. Gallen, CH - Palace
11/02/07 Castellon, ES - Tanned Tin Festival
11/03/07 Berlin, DE - Festsaal Kreuzberg
11/05/07 Schorndorf, DE - Manufaktur
11/06/07 Heidelberg, DE - Karlstorbahnhof w/ Sea & Cake
11/07/07 Berlin, DE - Bastard
11/08/07 Hamburg, DE - Westwerk
11/09/07 Nijmegem, NL - Doornroosje
11/10/07 Utretch, NL - Tivoli
11/11/07 Rotterdam, NL - Worm
11/12/07 Brussels, BE - Recyclart
11/14/07 Turku, FI - Dynamo
11/15/07 Helsinki, FI - Kuudes Linja
11/16/07 Göteborg, SE - Berg211
11/17/07 Oslo, NO - Spasibar
11/18/07 Copenhagen, DK - Loppen
11/19/07 Koln, DE - Stadtgarten
11/21/07 Bristol, UK - Louisiana
11/22/07 Dublin, IE - Whelans
11/23/07 Manchester, UK - Krobar
11/24/07 Glasgow, UK - Nice N Sleazy
11/25/07 Liverpool, UK - Stanley Theatre
11/26/07 Brighton, UK - The Hope

Diana concert pockets £1.2million

The news that the Diana Memorial Concert, the event this summer which marked the end of the credibility of Ricky Gervais, has made £1.2 million quid for charity.

That's, ooh, roughly one-eighth of the costs of the inquest into Al-Fayed's conspiracy theories. I don't suppose the princes might like to use the cash to help out with that? No? Oh.

Ginuwine and the fake

Ginuwine has, according to a lawsuit he's filed, managed to get himself signed to a record label which doesn't exist:

Ginuwine claims that Bourne said he owned the label and the contract would offer a $500,000 advance and $1.75 million to record an album.

The singer has not recorded any material since the signing or received any money.

The suit also claims that there is no corporate record for King Music Group Inc. in New York, California, Florida or Tennessee. Ginuwine has been unable to sign to any other label because he is under contract to King and could get sued.

Ginuwine and his lawyer have been unable to contact Bourne and the supposed CEO’s Memphis number is unlisted. Ginuwine’s suit is seeking $4 million in damages.

Now, Ginuwine isn't some starry-eyed young thing just off the Greyhound bus - surely you'd do a bit of background work to find out about the label you're signing to before writing on the line? Especially if you're already in the business and putting your faith and career into the hands of a record label you've never heard of? Wouldn't you?

Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to complete selling Ginuwine the Brooklyn Bridge...

The President still loves the kids

This is going to upset the IFPI - not only has Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recorded an album (yes, of songs), but he's giving it away free. How will the Venezuelans ever learn the value of music if Chavez gives away his records for free, eh?

The Boss and the horse

Did anyone ever actually follow that "Fooled in the USA" cover story the NME ran years back, which focused on some sort of accusation of Bruce Springsteen being beastly to his staff over a lost canoe? Did it all turn out right in the end?

Today, there's a new accusation being thrown at Springsteen: he's being sued by a bloke who that he failed to buy a horse off them:

The Boss and wife Patti Scialfa are accused of pulling out of buying the horse for their daughter Jessica at the last minute.

Former Olympic equestrian star Todd Minikus claims the Springsteens put a £12,500 deposit on the horse, called Pavarotti.

But they pulled out after Pavarotti performed badly at a top event.

A horse called Pavarotti? Who knew that wouldn't jump over fences easily?

We're a little confused here - surely the point of paying a deposit is to cover this sort of eventually, where the deal is broken for some reason? That's what deposits are for, isn't it? Minikus gets his horse back, gets to keep 25 thousand dollars, everyone's happy. Surely?

You couldn't make it up

Yesterday's Daily Mail had what might be the most bizarre Richard Littlejohn column to date where the tired old rant-machine managed to combine a by-numbers piece about how homophobia is illegal (which he made to sound like it was both true and a bad thing) with a surprising degree of intimacy with Tom Robinson's Glad To Be Gay:

The last line of Tom Robinson's 1978 anthem Glad To Be Gay goes: "The buggers are legal now, what more are they after?"

It was supposed to be ironic. Back then, even though homosexuality was no longer a criminal offence for consenting adults, gays faced prejudice and persecution.

I can remember singing along with Tom. Though homosexuality wasn't exactly my idea of a night out, I thought it outrageous that gays were subjected to discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and pensions.

Really, Richard? You sang along with Glad To Be Gay and thought it was about council housing and pension rights? Rather than being a song that was more concerned with the pressing matters of entrapment and queerbashing and - here's a funny thing - journalists in the popular press describing gays as corrupting and disgusting and perverted?

Embed and breakfast man: Voice of the Beehive weekend

"It's those American girls again" - that would be my Dad's observation whenever I played Let It Bee, and he wasn't wrong. Although he used to confuse Voice of the Beehive with The Rhythm Sisters, so it could be he didn't really recognise them. They were, perhaps, the ultimate Janice Long Night-time Radio 1 Band: kinda ballsy, kinda cute, confusingly transatlantic (Tracey and Melissa were, indeed, American, but their percussion section - Woody and Mark - came from Madness, which is about as British as you could get at the time without being Norman Tebbit.

Twenty years ago, their debut, Just A City (an early release on Dave Balfe's Food records, back while Damon Albarn was still sounding his haitches) came drifting out the radio. Here was a song, surely, that would change lives and be attached to hearts for years to come.

Of course, I was on the point of leaving home, leaving the town I'd grown up in and striking out, and that might be why it resonated with me more than it seemed to with anyone else, and the record disappeared without trace. But a leap to London Records - and a larger marketing budget - changed the band's fortunes. A little. And for the next four or five years, they'd pop up in the lower reaches of the charts, a sweet burst of colour and shouting and running-down-the-street-in-your-pyjamas-laughing.

Just A City isn't on YouTube, so instead, to start us off, here's their number 23 smash Don't Call Me Baby:

More Voice of the Beehive over the weekend:
Beat Of Love live on The Tube
Monsters and Angels promo video
2003 comeback

Winehouse jumps the barriers

Amy Winehouse nearly didn't make it to Paris for the fashion shows - yes, we know, the very thought is world-threatening, isn't it? - after having a meltydown and leaping over security barriers because she couldn't bear being separated from Blake:

One passenger tells us: "Amy was crying, gesticulating wildly and shouting while the man with her was trying to calm her and get her through the gate. She mentioned Blake's name more than once.

"Eventually they went through security, but then Amy came running back. She hurdled the security gate then ran up the escalator, shouting and screaming, into Waterloo station concourse.

"It was quite a sight - this tiny girl with a massive beehive leaping over a barrier. It was pretty clear she was not keen on getting on that train to Paris."

A policeman spotted Amy and ran after her, urging her to stop. She was eventually persuaded to get on the train.

Presumably not by the policeman, though? Do the police now have a role ensuring passengers travel even when they've changed their mind?

It's probably lucky Amy was getting the train to Paris - if she'd tried leaping over barriers at an airport, the results might have been more bloody.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Marilyn Manson show disrupted

The CEO of Darkness, Inc, Marilyn Manson, was interrupted by a fire alarm during his gig in Auckland last night.

Was it the very pit of hell opening, spewing forth brimstone and coals as Satan himself bent a knee in supplication to the king of Top 40 Goth?

Erm... no. It was his dry ice machine making too much steam.

Chico has something important to say

In all the debate surrounding the concept of "size zero" models, one voice has remained silent. But no longer: Chico will remain silent no longer.

With perhaps the exception of To Me, To You: The Chuckle Brothers explain Middle Eastern boundaries, it's hard to come up with a meeting of subject so complex with an intellect so lacking. Trying to cope with the complex issues of the demands of the fashion industry as an aspiration-driven industry, the power of the male gaze, the idealisation of the impossible, the use of food as a means of control and the projection of self-image, Chico's response seems to be "ooh, you wanna girl you can grab hold of":

"In my opinion these women are the epitomy of womanhood. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16, and all the other women have this hourglass figure."

He said: "I went on the net and started going into it, and there are models dying, people starving, so I didn't want to concentrate on the problem. I wanted to concentrate on the solution, so size zero's gotta go.

"Cos, you know, us men like them swervy, curvy and shaped like an hourglass."

Unbelievably, the lyrics manage to make Mika's vapid and patronising Big Girl seem like The Beauty Myth:
"Size zero's gotta go, give me Marilyn Monroe, J.Lo, Beyonce got the flow"

Ah, yes. Why starve yourself to death when instead you could aspire to be like Marilyn Monroe and take the more proactive route of taking an overdose instead. Well done, Chico.

Away from his new-found interest in feminist politics, Chico has also been developing his skills as a raconteur, presumably to fill the shoes of the recently-deceased Ned Sherrin:
"It was really funny, we were at the Cannes Film Festival, and on one side there was this guy walking around with a bucket selling roses, and this other guy got the whole bucket and had it sent over to Dannii Minogue.

"So, I said to the guy, 'Do you mind if I take one?'

"She looked over at me and... it was just one of those crazy Chico moments."

It's funny, something surprisingly similar once happened to Peter Ustinov. He once mistook 'a rambling tale in which nothing much happened' for 'a witty anecdote'; however, he at least had the wit to append an ending which rescued the tale.

Meet Mrs Doherty

Irina Lazareanu is getting married. Apparently. Or, so she told a French fashion magazine, according to the 3AM Girls. And from this, and the knowledge that she may or may not have dated Pete Doherty, they've extrapolated the conclusion that Pete Doherty is about to get married.

Not so much a leaping, more a jet-powered, cross-canyon woosh to conclusions.

Blunt bounced by Bristol

Bristol University's meeting when they drew up the list of glittering alumni must have been fun, as they brainstormed ideas until someone blurted out "what about James Blunt? Wasn't he one of ours?"

After much staring at the table, and mutterings of "didn't he go to UWE?", they decided to leave him off.

Or, just maybe, he's so dull the university forgot he'd been there.

Howard won't stand by himself

We're amused by the idea of Howard Donald ruling out a Robbie Williams style solo career:

“I could never do what Rob has done and get up there on stage by myself.

“I’d be terrified. I’m nervous enough as it is with the other lads around me.

“The idea of going solo fills me with dread — that’s why I never really had a solo career when Take That split up."

Now, we could have sworn the reason Howard never "really" had a solo career after the That went down was more because nobody was interested in the prospect. Or perhaps that's what Howard was frightened by.

Dead man rising

The inquest into the death of Mark Blanco was halted yesterday after the coroner got tired of all the conflicting evidence and recorded an open verdict.

We're a bit surprised to hear a coroner complaining about conflicting evidence - isn't his job kind of dependent on conflicting evidence? After all, if there was never any disagreement about what happened when people die, there'd not be much point in having inquests in the first place.

Anyway, he's handed the whole thing back to the Metropolitan Police to investigate, and amongst the items for them to consider more carefully the curious shifting testimony of Johnny 'Headlock' Jeannevol. At various times, Headlock - who you'll also remember from telling the tabloids about the sex he may or may not have had with Amy Winehouse - has confessed to pushing Blanco, told the Mail On Sunday he could remember anything and given this evidence to the coroner:

Jonathan Jeannevol, revealed he had confessed to police that he pushed Mr Blanco to his death after the actor had annoyed the Babyshambles frontman at a party in Whitechapel.

He described the confession as "the stupidest thing" he had done in his life, and said he had retracted it. "I'd lost my mind because people were doing my head in. People like that sitting there with their smug faces," he said, pointing at the family and friends of Mr Blanco.

Mr Jeannevol described how Mr Doherty asked him to "have a word" with Mr Blanco, who had arrived at the party on December 2 in what another guest described as a very hyper state. Mr Blanco was rehearsing Dario Fo's The Accidental Death of an Anarchist, a play in which he was to star as a man thrown to his death from a window, and hoped Mr Doherty would attend. "He was bugging Peter. He got so annoying."

The court also got to see some CCTV footage showing Pete Doherty hoofing it past Blanco as he lay on the ground, apparently more interested in saving his skin than helping the man. Time for heroes indeed.

RIAA win Thomas case

The jury have found Jammmie Thomas guilty of filesharing in the first downloading case to come to court in the US - a sample of 24 songs has landed her a $222,000 fine, a figure which even supporters of strict copyright have suggested might be a bit much. Writing on ZDNet, the bittorrent-basher Russell Shaw suggests that justice hasn't actually been served:

This has all the earmarks of a defendant being so totally outlawyered by out-to-set-an-example fancy attorneys from Big Music, and a starstruck jury buying the whole line.

But $22,0000? GMAFB.

Now here would be a good compromise. If Thomas is so guilty of hurting music, music labels and musicians, have her do some sort of community service helping musicians in her community. Maybe drive poor kids to after-school music classes, something like that?

But that, of course, would be to assume the RIAA is interested in music rather than money.

Reading the summing-up in the case on Ars Technica, it looks like the fundamental flaw in Thomas' case was her defence - that the RIAA couldn't prove she was using the computer when the tracks were uploaded - seemed to be undermined by a wave of circumstantial evidence which suggested the opposite. Although the music industry will be spinning this as a definitive victory, all they appear to have done is establish a legal precedent of where reasonable doubt might lie.

So, Virgin is suddenly £100k better off. Will this filter its way to the artists? While Thomas is now looking at spending the rest of her life working one and a quarter days out of five to send some cash to the record label, it's about one-tenth of the pay-off Virgin's parent EMI gave to Martin Stewart when he left the company. Suing nine more breadline people, and they'll be able to handsomely pay off another executive, then.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Festive Fifty 2007

The good people over at Dandelion Records are running a 2007 Festive Fifty, along the same rules as John Peel's annual poll - although whether they'll actually be printing the poll forms out and entering the details in a large ledger as they come in isn't clear. You've got until the end of November to choose your three tracks.

Sinead O'Connor a bit like a bucket

Sinead O'Connor has popped up on the Oprah Winfrey programme - bravely overcoming her dislike of ever talking to the popular media - to reveal some details of her difficult life. Which, it turns out, is a metaphor:

"It's like being a bucket with holes in it. Just leaking tears from every pore."

We're not entirely sure why a bucket would be full of tears, or, indeed, why a bucket would have pores in the first place. And if the bucket was porous, why would you fill it with anything. Still, we know what she meant.

She also issues a vaguely Charles Spencer style warning to the press over the hounding of Britney:
"She had two babies within the space of two years, (there) doesn't seem like a terrible amount of support from the people around her," O'Connor said.

O'Connor said it seems the media is constantly watching for Spears to make a mistake raising her children, but that no parents are perfect.

"I think to attack someone as a mother is very dangerous," she said. "I would say that's what puts a young girl on a precipice which is very, very dangerous, in my opinion. Some people may end up really regretting the way they're treating her."

When the National Enquirer passes comment on how Britney's raising her children, it's tattle driving her to the point of suicide. When Sinead O'Connor does the same thing, it's sisterly concern.

There may or mayn't be any truth in the claim that Britney got no support from those around her (funny that Sinead's alright with judging them on a chat show) but shouldn't it be easy for a woman of Spears' means to buy in any extra support she felt she needed? Having two babies in two years doesn't make you incapable of asking your management team to sort out a cleaner or a nanny or whatever, and millions of women manage to cope with similarly sized families without going to pieces - perhaps because they have no choice.

Likewise, it's easy to blame the press - but while they might increase the pressure by running photos of her tumbling out of bars when she's preparing for custody cases, they can hardly be blamed for her being there in the first place. If you don't want the papers to keep running stories about you, stop giving them stories to run.

Things get worse for Britney

Just when it seemed that Britney's life was bumping along the bottom, bodyguard-turned-turncoat Tony Barretto has filed child abuse allegations with the state of California. They're now going to be followed up.

By the way, MTV News team: you might want to try reading your reports aloud before posting them:

Barretto claimed he saw Spears do drugs on two occasions: once at a nightclub, when he was holding a curtain to make her area private

He was making her area private? We know she's got form for going out without knickers, but even so...

Still, while she has social workers crawling through her house, it might prove some consolation that her comeback has - in some measure - worked with Gimmie More bouncing in at number three on the Billboard charts. It's unclear if that chart position was quite worth the trade of her soul, her dignity and her sanity; it's also not certain what she has left for the album.

More music mystery

As if all the excitement of the secret surprise coded Radiohead album announcement wasn't enough for a week, we're now being asked to keep our eyes on beonlineb, where The Arcade Fire are promising an announcement which will either surprise us so much we'll never be able to wear socks again, or will just be some sort of remix project. 6th October is when we find out...

CMJ and Imeem come together

This year's CMJ Marathon hasn't been the smoothest of events - there's been a lot of complaining from new bands that they don't believe their submissions have been listened to by those who compile the shortlist (sadly, this is almost certainly right, but it's always been like that - nobody has the time to read the entire Booker longlist or listen to every demo).

Still, now the list of artists has been settled, CMJ have done a nifty deal with Imeem, the clumsily-named service which attempts to answer the question 'why isn't there a service like YouTube which makes embedding audio as simple as embedding videos' to bring over 200 bands onto a virtual festival site which is also shareable.

Like this track, from the mighty beautiful St Vincent:

Naked wedding

Bif Naked got married this weekend, in a fairly traditional big white wedding with tattooing of initials at the end.

We did say fairly traditional.

The lucky man is Ian Walker, who is a sports reporter with the Vancouver Sun.

This is almost appropriate, then: Bif doing Daddy's Getting Married:

The future of music has two faces

There was an interesting contrast in the last half-hour of this morning's Today [Real link]. There was a piece on Radiohead and the honesty-box approach to flogging albums, which fitted in to the "technology has killed the traditional record label" scheme that has been the narrative set running by the RIAA.

By contrast, though, the feature of the Gramophone awards for classical music explored why there is suddenly a large movement of young, exciting and talented classical artists appearing. The conclusion was that, as technology has forced down the costs of production and distribution, allowing small labels to suddenly flourish, with each nurturing their own superstars. In other words, in the classic genres, the breaking of the power of the large labels has stimulated a wider, more vibrant music scene - precisely the opposite of what the rock labels warn will happen if their businesses collapse in the face of the future.

Target poked in the eye by Music Choice

An expensive, drawn-out legal battle between Target (America's slightly less-cluttered Tesco/Woolworth hybrid) and Music Choice (the Sky-carried audio service that nobody you've ever met listens to) has ended with Target being told it has no rights to the bulls eye marque in the UK, and being ordered to pay £100,000 to cover some of Music Choice's costs. There are still hearings to be held to consider the matter in Europe; Target stockholders might also want to ponder why the company has been spending so much cash defending a logo in a country where the company doesn't operate so much as a school tuck shop.

The Creation Divorce

The Music Week daily mail-out is reporting the end of one of the longer-running music business collaborations: Alan McGee and Stephen King are ending their partnership, after apparently deep sixing Creation Management.

Thurston comes to check out London Starbucks

We've just heard (i.e. someone has sent us a PR email) that Thurston Moore is going to be playing La Scala on December 6th. Tickets are fifteen quid; yer usual grumpy online ticketagents will be delighted to pinch a booking fee on top to sort you out.

Apparently there's a point where selling out goes too far

John Lydon won't do adverts for clothes shops. It's a matter of integrity, you see:

"There's a thin line between self-parody and ridicule."

Apparently, advertising clothes is ridicule, which is wrong, whereas pocketing the money from Schiltz for those beer ads was self-parody, which is fine. We imagine the fine detail of where that line lays is down to how large the cheques are.


Isaac Hanson, who with his brothers thingy and the other one Hanson were in the band Hanson, is currently not being in Hanson, as a "potentially life-threatening clot" has put him in hospital in Oklahoma. It's not known yet how serious his pulmonary embolism is; the band pulled their gig in Tulsa last night and, obviously the rest of the tour hangs on how Isaac does.

Capital of Culture Update: The big kick-off

After all the troubles besetting Liverpool as it heads towards the Capital of Culture year, at least the announcement of the big concert with Paul McCartney went smoothly enough, right?

Not exactly, it turns out. Today's Liverpool Echo is reporting that the Culture Company burned through almost a fifth of a million quid trying to hold it down the docks before deciding to shift it to Anfield - having discovered the scheme they'd already invested in would take another eight million to pull off:

The Salthouse plan would have involved draining the dock, which is between Albert Dock and Wapping, then building a stage and tiers of seating to hold up to 25,000 people.

The basin would have then been re-filled so the stage appeared to be floating on the water.

Cllr Anderson said he wrote to council chief executive Colin Hilton two weeks ago because of concerns about the bill.

They met this week and Cllr Anderson said Mr Hilton had confirmed to him the bill was around £175,000.

How many experts do you think it takes to work out that draining a dock and then refilling it would cost an eye-watering amount of cash, do you suppose?

Reach for the Wikipedia

Ronnie Hazlehurst did not write S Club 7's Reach. Why would you think he did?

It might be because BBC News, The Guardian, The Times, The Stage and Reuters all said he did, in their obituaries of the TV theme king.

But why would they think he did?

Because Wikipedia told them so, and so when the - hurried, harried - journalists came to write their obits for him, they just took the information at face value.

It's easy to be too hard on the writers - loads of people rely on Wikipedia for information every day, and hardly anyone bothers to cross-reference it anywhere else; and it's not only Wikipedia which plays host to bum information tucked into its usually-quite-reliable content. But did nobody stop to think just how unlikely it sounded that Hazlehurst would have contributed a song to S Club 7 - and just the one, mind? Even if it had been true, surely that strange combination of writer and act would have piqued the curiosity enough for a writer to want to dig just a little bit deeper as to the circumstances that brought such a thing into being?

Mind, as Karl T observed when he brought this to our attention:

The great thing about this sorry saga is that, by Wikipedia's rules, Ronnie Hazlehurst really *did* write 'Reach', since it can be cited from numerous sources.

Ronnie Hazlehurst wrote Reach for S Club 7. And Bob Holness played the saxophone on it.

McLaren has an audience

It's fascinating to discover that Malcolm McLaren is on the board of Philips, the auctioneers, and somehow appropriate for a man whose career has always been about extracting as much money as possible from artists' efforts.

Whne the Telegraph goes to meet him, he's obviously puffed his ego up as much as possible; he misses the point when Nigel Farndale tries a cheeky question about how posterity will view him:

[A] man obsessed by his own self-image, I suggest.

'Completely. I have always loved the idea of being someone who can disappear, of never having an identity. It was probably due to my dysfunctional childhood.'

McClaren? Disappearing? Not if he can possibly avoid it. The man is Hereford in his own constantly redrawn Mappa Mundi:
'In the art world I am a sought-after creature,' he says haughtily. 'To participate in whatever, to endorse whatever.'

Frandale does challenge McClaren's cosy self-indulgence by asking him about his and the Pistol's obsession with the swastika. McClaren's answer isn't entirely satisfactory:
I ask about the fashion, specifically the swastika T-shirt that Sid Vicious always wore, at McLaren's behest. In retrospect does he consider it to have been a gratuitous and sick provocation? 'Not at all.' Does he think he could get away with it today? 'Probably not, but back then we were still on the tip of Sixties libertarianism.'

I suppose what I am getting at is that, well, he was Jewish. Didn't he find the swastika repulsive? 'Not at all. I didn't give a damn about all that. I thought it was just great.' He didn't give a damn about the Holocaust? 'Look, sometimes a younger generation doesn't want to inherit the history of an older generation, so we wanted to appropriate the swastika for ourselves. We wanted to have a clean slate. We decided that we liked certain icons from the past and wanted to reinvent them. We were trying to mix pop culture with politics and art.'

If you believe that Sid was thinking "I shall reclaim the Swastika for myself" when he pulled on his t-shirt in the morning, you're probably beyond saving. McClaren's defence runs counter-intuitive to the whole provocative nature of punk anyway - wearing Nazi iconography as fashion wouldn't have the power to shock if you didn't accept the then-recent history of the swastika; if the idea was reclaim and reky the swastika, what was the new message it was supposed to convey?

Clearly, McClaren doesn't want to say he didn't give a damn about the holocaust; equally clearly, when set against the opportunity to make money, he wasn't that bothered. And given that he's had thirty years to think up a justification that doesn't make him seem like someone who thought the death of millions upon million was somehow ripe for an ironic reevaluation, you'd have thought he could do better than sounding like he was in Kula Shaker.

Joni Mitchell lights up

So, how did Joni Mitchell come to get her distinctive voice? Twenty a day, from middle school age, apparently:

"I have smoked since I was nine, so obviously it didn't affect my early work that much."

"I would grab my tobacco and get on my bike, looking for a beautiful place, a grove of trees or a field, and go amongst the bushes and smoke and that always gave me a sense of well being."

And now the government's taken away that innocent childhood pleasure, along with working up chimneys and heroin-filled chews in the pick'n'mix.

Still, Joni's still got her smoking, and she's still got fire in her belly:
"I was mad at America, mad at the government, mad at the people for not doing something about it. They were going to be so quick to impeach Clinton for kinky sex but slow to do something about Bush and his Nazi stormtroopers. All that loss of freedom and everybody just kind of oblivious. It's dumb and it's dangerous."

We're not sure that Clinton's sex was that kinky - maybe if he'd been wearing Lewinsky's dress, it'd have been heading in that direction, but otherwise it was as vanilla as it was illicit. And we're not sure that suggesting Bush has Nazi stormtroopers is entirely helpful, either - Bush is unpleasant enough in his own, untrammeled capitalism without having to throw Nazis into the mix. But we'd rather have Joni Mitchell being political than Duran self-censoring to avoid sounding "angry" any time. Especially in these times.

Twang fears booze will lead to boos

Phil Etheridge out of The Twang is fretting about the amount he's drinking - he's worried that it's taking its toll on his throat and he might not be able to sing any more.

We know the cynical amongst you will now be sending across a double whiskey with your fingers crossed, but to be fair, it's almost unheard of to hear a blokey singer worrying about such things:

"We haven't had a chance to think this year.

"We've been on tour since January and we have been caning it. I have got to calm it down. I haven't had a night off the drink since we've been signed.

"My throat is starting to tear up now and I am worried about this next tour.

"Without being too emotional, if I can't sing I'm lost."

You'll notice, though, it's the effects on his voice, rather than his soft, lovely brains or fleshy, hard-working liver, which is what's bothering him. We'd imagine that it'd be just as hard to carry on with your organs buggered, although judging by many of the current slew of second-division acts, having perfectly firing synapses doesn't inhibit your inability to delight XFM listeners.

Grace Maxwell talks strokes

It's Stroke Awareness Week this week, and Grace Maxwell - Edwyn Collins' wife, who knows what she's talking about - gives an interview to the Daily Record about his illness, to promote a "it's not easy, but it's not the end" attitude:

"We could really do with more understanding of aphasia [ the communication disability]," said Edwyn's wife, Grace Maxwell, who has helped him battle back to health. "People think that if you have it you are stupid but it is not that at all. There is a breakdown between the connection of your thoughts and your language, so the frustration is immense.

"It would be good if people could understand it better because they tend to think you are daft but it is not an expression of what is going on inside your brain.

Edwyn has emerged with his intellect and his judgment intact."

There is, of course, a bunch of websites and phone numbers associated with the week - provides support for people with aphasia; the Stroke Association has nationwide branches and activities.

The View: what larks

It takes a special brand of stupid to decide to push duvets down toilets for a "laugh"; it's interesting when tiresome boors like The View do this sort of thing they never do it in their own homes. The sooner they're back cleaning up after other people instead of making minimum wage employees lives a misery with their larks, the better the universe will be balanced.

Next week: some sketches

Bizarre has appeared to turn progression on its head this morning:

Rihanna strips to her undies

PICTURE SPECIAL: LAST week we brought you Rihanna's new vid - now we've got snaps

Perhaps their target audience prefers stills to the moving version; maybe it makes it easier to peer down Rihanna's cleavage or something.

Winehouse tour dates under shadow

Victoria Newton is muttering that Amy Winehouse's tour is "in jeopardy", although it turns out that she's just thinking of pulling dates around Blake Chinless-Wonder's GBH trial. Newton effectively writes off the Manchester gig:

He strongly denies the charge. Besotted Amy is determined to be by his side as he tries to avoid a jail term.

But she is due in Manchester on the same night to play her first UK tour gig since recovering from her drugs overdose.

Family friends say Amy’s dad Mitch is terrified that if Blake is banged up, it may tip fragile Amy over the edge. A source said: “Blake comes first in Amy’s life — everything else comes second, including her career.

“She doesn’t care that she has a gig that night. Nothing is going to stop her being in court with him.

“They plan to spend a week holed up together to prepare for the worst."

Worrying stuff. But we're a little surprised to hear from Victoria Newton that Amy is so besotted, and how Blake comes first. It was only the start of the week when Newton was telling the world it was all over for the couple:
THERE'S trouble in paradise between AMY WINEHOUSE and her husband BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL. More like trouble in hell, really. For their love bubble seems to have burst.

Pals of Amy think they are finally getting through to her as they try to prise her from bad-boy Blake.

So, either the relationship is in its death throes, or else stronger than ever. Thank god you can rely on Newton to be right fifty per cent of the time.

Oddly, judge decides Britney hasn't improved in four days

You've got to give her something for having a crack, but did Britney really think the judge that decided the kids would be better off with Federline on Monday would have changed their mind by Thursday? Presumably all that business with getting a driving licence was intended to show a sense of civic responsibility, was it, Brit?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sony BMG chief: ripping your own CDs is stealing

In his testimony ot the court hearing Capitol Records, et al v. Jammie Thomas, Jennifer Pariser of Sony BMG's head of litigation, announced that she believed choosing to transfer music files to your own PC was breaking the law:

When questioned by Richard Gabriel, lead counsel for the record labels, Pariser suggested that what millions of music fans do is actually theft. The dirty deed? Ripping your own CDs or downloading songs you already own.

Gabriel asked if it was wrong for consumers to make copies of music which they have purchased, even just one copy. Pariser replied, "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." Making "a copy" of a purchased song is just "a nice way of saying 'steals just one copy'," she said.

Remember, of course, Parsier represents a label which was found guilty of rigging prices in the US, and which installed rootkits on its customers PCs - you might think she'd be better off looking to that sort of thing in her own company before attempting to tell a court - under oath - that she believed choosing to do what you wish with music tracks you've paid for is criminal behaviour. If she really believes that you aren't legally entitled - never mind morally entitled - to store your own CDs on your own PC, it's questionable if she's in the right job.

Meanwhile, Pariser also revealed how the record labels are pissing away huge sums suing their own customers:
The next line of questioning was how many suits the RIAA has filed so far. Pariser estimated the number at a "few thousand." "More like 20,000," suggested Toder. "That's probably an overstatement," Pariser replied. She then made perhaps the most startling comment of the day. Saying that the record labels have spent "millions" on the lawsuits, she then said that "we've lost money on this program."

The RIAA's settlement amounts are typically in the neighborhood of $3,000-$4,000 for those who settle once they receive a letter from the music industry. On the other side of the balance sheet is the amount of money paid to SafeNet (formerly MediaSentry) to conduct its investigations, and the cash spent on the RIAA's legal team and on local counsel to help with the various cases. As Pariser admitted under oath today, the entire campaign is a money pit.

Still, at least it's stopped illegal downloading in its tracks.

Oh, hang on a moment, it hasn't, has it?

Led Zep fans give Goldsmith grief

The jump-through-hoops rules being slapped on Led Zeppelin tickets by Harvey Goldsmith are having something of a backlash. Although Goldsmith likes to portray himself as on the side of fans, the need to provide identification at the door to freeze out people who've bought their ticket codes off touts has created a hive of pissed-off people.

As one points out to Gigwise, turning people away at the door actually hurts fans who were so desperate to see the band they paid over the odds, rather than touts, who have already banked their cash.

And Goldsmith is singled out for more complaints:

While in a direct letter to Gigwise, Led Zep fan Felix Carassco who has bought a ticket code, said: “I find it a disgrace that Harvey Goldsmith is going after the real fans after he is only selling 10,000 tickets for a 20,000 seater arena. I am sure that the other half will be going to his company and friends and a good few thousand ‘guests’!

“I hope that you can start to suggest that he does something about tacking those selling the codes and not those buying them!”

It's also not clear what he's going to do if everyone who turned up refused to show their ID - would he really send the fans away and make led Zep come back in an empty room?

Mel C wants to mark the Spices

We imagine this is some form of grim revenge for having been bounced into the Spice Girls reunion: Mel C is designing tattoos for the others. We really hope that it's a spiders-web face for Geri.

Eminem returns, underwhelmingly

The return of Eminem from retirement hasn't exactly set the world alight, Iodlator is reporting after playing through the snatch available:

Sonically, one of Nah Right's commenters calls it without even bothering to download it: "generic eminem production (snares too loud, moody strings)." As for Em, he's still mugging in silly cartoon accents (quasi-Spanish nonsense here, if that matters), slouching on his storehouse of meta self-referentiality (getting defensive over that infamous clip of a young Em letting the N-word slip), dropping kindergarten-restroom scatology (something about peeing, or drinking pee, I couldn't be bothered to parse it before noon to be honest), and otherwise obscuring his own technical gifts under 10 tons of shtick.

It seems that, yes, people are sick of Slim Shady. Still, since Em's business now seems to be suing rather than music-making, he probably won't be too bothered.

Once more around the Bloc

Bloc Party will bring some light to the gathering gloom of winter with a whole new single. Flux is out November 12th in the versions you'd expect.

Duran drop Iraq track

Duran Duran have left off the Iraq song from their new album because they hoped to sell some copies in the US. Sorry, because it was too angry, apparently:

Nick Rhodes says, "We've always reflected what's around us but we always tried to pick the more uplifting subjects. There was so much doom and gloom around that this record was becoming angry and political."

Good heavens, not connecting with the real world, you mean? Thank god you put a stop to that, otherwise you might have ceased to be a bunch of fading popstars burning through goodwill to your youngerselves in lieu of offering any relevance to the modern world.

After all, why just bum people out by focusing on a war that so far has wiped something in the order of 75,000 civilians? Why not focus on the positive things instead? We look forward to your album, 'Arbys Introduce Subs', with its lead-off single 'Watching kittens in boxes on YouTube', Mr. Rhodes.

Microsoft announces slightly different versions of music player

You'll probably have missed the churning excitement surrounding the launch of slightly different Zune players, unless, of course, you're one of those poor souls whose thankless task it is to hang around webpages like this one posting comments about how great your Zune is.

Still, there'd be no sense in getting too excited anyway because, whereas Apple announce a product as it hits the shops (in the US at least), Microsoft have revealed the player but won't actually put them into anyone's hands until mid-November. Presumably this is the allow the sense of mild disappointment to ferment. Oh, and there's no word at all about when, or if, they'll come to Europe.

The new machines have managed to take the hand-whittled iPod look of the old one and turn it into something even less attractive. They're not unusably bad, but sat next to an iPod, they have the air of something that might have been rustled up by a Soviet-era Russian company attempting to compete, like the chunky world-band radios and binoculars that you used to find for sale in the Sunday People classifieds.

In a bid to add some sparkle to the proceedings, Bill Gates popped up:

"Twenty years ago we bet the company on an integrated productivity suite of word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and we changed the way people work," Bill Gates said at the launch.

"Today we're making big bets on games, music, video and connecting these entertainment experiences to help change the way people play,"

Yes. The Zune: The Excel Spreadhseet of the mp3 player market.

Rodger wants to pull with Queen

There's little to be said about the prospect of Paul Rodgers planning to record a song about meditation with Queen, apart from the warning the story gives to ContactMusic about automatically assigning images to a newstory:

Whigfield: Ian MacKaye

Despite what the internet might be telling you, Ian MacKaye out of Fugazi and Minor Threat is alive and well and hasn't died after being hit by a car outside a Fugazi gig.

Robbie Williams is not getting a Huq

Konnie Huq hasn't always spent her life apologising to children for misleading them in the naming of cats, you know. She used to do showbiz interviews, and once got asked out by Robbie Williams:

"I interviewed Take That when they were starting out. Robbie asked me out, it was so funny. I said no.

In those days, they were always scantily clad in leather."

But even with it all on display, Robbie couldn't tempt Ms Huq. She's always been a smart cookie. Or possibly smart socks.

Fab wacky Macca heads a nodding

Who knew that Paul McCartney was a YouTube Titan? Victoria Newton, that's who. She breathlessly reports that the old dog has learned the power of viral marketing:

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY has kicked off a new craze among YouTube fans.

Macca should be picking up his bus pass at his age but instead he’s joined the hordes of teenagers posting home videos online.

Let's just pause a while to marvel at Newton's gerontophonia - she might also pause before suggesting Macca's at an age when people are past it, what with Rupert Murdoch signing her paycheques despite being 12 years older than McCartney.

And we're certian that McCartney himself sits uploading his promotional videos himself, and doesn't have people to do this sort of thing. But carry on, Newton:
He filmed a clip of himself and pals including KATE MOSS’s ex JEFFERSON HACK nodding along to a track from his new album called, er...Nod Your Head.

Now thousands of people have added their own versions, including shots of dogs in Canada and a class of nursery-school kids.

Let's not point out to Victoria that the video was posted four months ago, and instead wonder why we can't find more than 192 videos when we search on "Nod your head" - many of which are related to the Will Smith song.

Shalamar? Really?

They're stretching the definition of Celebrity further than ever before for this year's I'm A C-word: Jeffrey LewisDaniels, out of Shalamar.

An insider said: “Once you see him you’re taken back 20 years. Jeffrey’s full of beans, larger than life.

“He still teaches choreography and will even crank out an old Shalamar number.”

But even twenty years ago Shalamar would have had trouble getting picked out of an identity parade - and are ITV really pinning their hopes on people tuning in on the off-chance of hearing "an old Shalamar number".

Sara Nathan tries to spark some interest in him:
Jeff famously introduced Britain to body-popping — on Top Of The Pops.

Really? Or is that something he's padded his cv with?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oh... and try before you buy

Wired's Listening Post has compiled a video version of the new Radiohead album, based on live recordings and published tracklists.

"Close to retail"

It's been an interesting experiment - except when the website crashed. According to the band's spokesperson, people aren't taking the piss when ordering the new Radiohead album at the 'name your price' site:

"Although the idea is that you can decide what you want to pay, most people are deciding on a normal retail price with very few trying to buy it for a penny."

Murray Chalmers - for it is he - doesn't say if he means "retail" as in "new release in an independent high street shop" or "back catalogue in a dump bin in Tesco" sense, which offers something of a spread for how much people are offering.

Filthy lucre

In a bid to raise funds to keep releasing new records, Filthy Little Angels are flogging off some of their rarities, including The Long Blondes' Christmas Is Canceled and first ep, and a Vichy Government demo. It's first come, first served, apparently.

Courtney still hasn't discovered Facebook

Ms Love is still plugging away using MySpace, with each blog posting making that "a space for friends" strapline seem more and more like a hollow gag. Today, she's back to busily not trading off her status as the one that survived in the Cobain-Love marriage by spitting at Dave Grohl:

"As for that drummer, well he's hit on me so many times. He's just a very, very conflicted guy about me, which is why he continually writes songs about me to hear he 'hates' me more than 'anyone else'.

"Kurt loathed him more than anyone else (except a journalist). In his will he made a codicil that Grohl was no longer a member of Nirvana. I just ignored the guy and will continue to.

"Dave knows this, and he takes it out on me! Hey, it wasn't my band and it wasn't my idea! It's funny he 'hates' me since I don't think about him.

"He's just a sub-mediocre kind of (guy) who does this 'nice guy' nonsense. There isn't a word he could he say that would ruffle my feathers, honestly."

Blimey: if that's Courtney being unruffled and not thinking about Dave, we'd hate to see what she did if she wasn't ignoring him and a bit testy.

Still, we'd love to see how a "codicil" on a will could throw someone out of a band that probably couldn't have continued without Cobain anyway would have worked. And if Cobain hated Grohl that much, wouldn't he have sacked him from the band while he was still alive? What sort of person sits, silently fuming at a person they can't stand, and then goes home and writes a will which throws them out of the band after they've pegged it? That'll show 'em, eh?

Slash: I'm kind to Axl

Slash has written his autobiography, all by himself and everything. What's that? No, no, it isn't an attempt to gain revenge on Axl Rose:

"This is not a vehicle for me to vent. It's not to lambast Axl or to talk s**t about anybody else.

"It's just telling the story as I knew it."

Of course, if in the telling of the tale it emerges that Axl Rose is some sort of control-freak screw-up needledick, well, what can Slash do? He's just telling the story...

Pornographers' art refreshed

Neko Case is re-releasing her most recent three albums, including Fox Confessor Brings The Flood, which only originally emerged last year and seems a little early to be getting the shake-down. Fox comes in a new package, which includes a whole extra disc of... you know, the usual 'buy this record all over again' stuff.

The All-New Matchbox Twenty

Apparently, Rob Thomas is touting Matchbox 20 as all-new. Like the way The Flintstones and Scooby Doo did when they, erm, stopped being any good.

Although at least The Flintstones and Scooby Doo had done some being any good to stop being.

So, how are Matchbox 20 kicking off this 20 2.0 era?

Erm... a Greatest Hits album.

Look, Fred, we're all new.

Jo lie-ly

The ongoing search for slips and lies and omissions and fibs at the BBC has uncovered another instance of dubious behaviour: Jo Whiley showering a member of public with prizes while being elsewhere:

The BBC said the DJ, who hosts the late morning show, was unaware that the caller was not a member of the public.

The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, said it was "satisfied" managers were taking appropriate action.

On Wednesday, Whiley will apologise on air for the latest editorial slip-up, which happened during a pre-recorded section of her show on 20 April last year.

She usually presents her daily three hour show live, but on this occasion taped part of it so she could be at the opening of the refurbished Broadcasting House in London with the Queen.

We're a little puzzled as to how Whiley could have been "unaware" that the caller wasn't a member of the public - who did she think was calling in to a show that wasn't going out live?

And also: isn't it worse that you'd pretend to be live while heading off for a bit of nosebag and some warm white wine at an event? If you do think that being at a jolly is more important than your audience, at least have the decency to admit what you're doing. The non-existent prize is probably less irritating than lying to everyone when really, there's no reason to.

Pete Doherty doesn't go to jail. Again.

This time, there's actually some logic to the two week adjournment granted to Doherty; he's apparently tested negative for drugs over the last six weeks and the judge accepted a request from his solicitor, Sean Curran, to give him another go at post-treatment treatment:

Mr Curran, whose practice is based in Stoke Newington, north London, said: "Pete's doing very, very well, extremely well and he wants to give himself a chance.

"The court knows he's tested negative for drugs throughout his residential programme - that's six weeks now.

"The judge wants to see how he's keeping after the aftercare before he goes back for them to assess him."

He emphasised: "This was not a court application or anything to do with court bureaucracy - it was my application, which was accepted at 5.15pm last night."

That seems a little late in the day... almost as if they were waiting for the last possible moment to lodge the application, for some reason.

Ooh! John Lydon likes to swear!

Buttocks! Haircrack! Enormous, um, breasts or something!

Hello, we're swearing.

Tiggywinkles! Wee wee!

We've been inspired by John Lydon, who thinks that saying 'fuck' on stage is so shocking, it's worth warning newspapers well in advance when you're going to do it.

Pants! TenaLady! Alisha's Attic!

Glen Matlock - allegedly - asked him to tone it down a bit, but Lydon stamped his pretty little foot, said "snot" and refused:

"He's been saying that all this swearing should stop. I understand he's a father and doesn't want his son to have to hear foul language.

"I wrote in 'Bodies', ' Fuck this and fuck that / Fuck it all, and fuck the fuckin brat', and I don't think there's a clearer song about the pain of abortion.

"The juxtaposition of all those different psychic things in your head and all the confusion, the anger, the frustration, you have to capture in those words."

Bodies might be a strong song, although its adoption by both pro- and anti-choice campaigners suggests it's a little unclear in its message, and, yes, the language is justified by the context - but does Lydon really believe that there is no "clearer song about the pain of abortion"? What about, for example, Ani DiFranco's Lost Woman Song or Michelle Shocked's Prodigal Daughter?

Still, never mind about that: let's just focus on the swearing instead:

cooties! bulb-sachets! green-tabs!

More Verve

Apparently, when he insisted there be more Verve dates as part of their comeback tour, Richard Ashcroft spat "or Shed Seven will win" before pulling on a balaclava and yelling "an' I ain't gonna let Shed Seven win."

You can see the shows:
London Millennium Dome - December 13
Glasgow SECC - 15
Belfast Odyssey Arena - 17
Manchester Central - 20
although, in venues that size, you won't be able to tell if Rick Witter's head is sat on the amps.

Trapped in the closet

It's the scenario every woman (supposedly) dreams of: being locked in a confined space with Justin Timberlake.

It's also, unfortunately, the scenario every man dreads: being trapped in a box with Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.

This all happened backstage at the Brits, explains TPT:

"I was interviewing Justin but because it was noisy, I told him to move into a quieter area. "Then I discovered I'd pulled him into a cupboard and locked us in. We were panicking actually. Someone eventually let us out and he couldn't get away from me fast enough."

...which, we presume, was the real reason he had to be locked in a cupboard in the first place.

Placebo split, carry on

Placebo have announced they're parting ways with Steve Hewitt, who's been sat on a stool behind Brian Molko for eleven years. Statement:

Placebo have parted company with drummer of 11 years, Steve Hewitt, due to personal and musical differences.

Brian Molko commented "Being in a band is very much like being in a marriage, and in couples - in this case a triple - people can grow apart over the years. To say that you don't love your partner anymore is inaccurate, considering all that you've been through and achieved together. There simply comes a point when you realize that you want different things from your relationship and that you can no longer live under the same roof, so to speak."

The split is amicable and a sad time for both parties. Steve Hewitt replaced Robert Schultzberg behind the drum kit in 1996 whilst the band were promoting Placebo’s eponymous debut album and went on to record the following 4 studio albums ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, ‘Black Market Music’, ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’ and most recently ‘Meds’.

Placebo have just returned from the USA where they were part of the high profile ‘Projekt Revolution Tour’ alongside Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance. The band are now taking a well earned break.

Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal will begin work on Placebo’s 6th studio album next Spring and are in no rush to find an immediate replacement for Steve.

Of course, when Steve joined the band he was still under contract to a different label, which is why the first video he appeared in he had to have his face obscured like he was teenage hoodlum on the Ten O'Clock News.

Now, it seems, the attraction of being paid to look at Brian Molko's buttocks all evening has worn off.

[Thanks to Dora for the tip]

Hung up on the Spice Girls

It was only a matter of time before the "mobile phone company customers get tickets first" marketing campaigns ran into some backlash grief, and it's arrived this morning as many of the million who registered for, but didn't get, Spice Girls tickets discover that O2 customers were able to pick up half-a-dozen without having to register. Many of which have found their way on to eBay.

The Spice Girls people are rushing to try and move themselves away from the gathering smell of a PR dungheap:

A source close to the Spice Girls camp said that the girls had not been aware of the 02 deal.

The source said: "We had no idea the system could be bypassed in this way and fans who had registered let down."

Oh, really? Now, while we can well believe that Victoria and Geri have no intimate details of the ticket allocation mechanism, but are we really supposed to believe that nobody in the Spice's team had any idea that they'd done a deal which allowed O2 customers to get access to tickets?

Either they're telling the truth - which would suggest that Fuller's management of the comeback is in total disarray, which seems unlikely - or they're, you know, doing that thing where you say something that isn't actually true.

Here's good news for Googlers

Those people who tirelessly type Edit Bowman topless into Google will be exploding with joy this morning, as Edith has shed all her clothes to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It's slightly disappointing that the default creative idea nowadays when an attractive woman offers support for an charity awareness camapaign is to get them to take their clothes off. We don't mind looking at pictures of people with no clothes on, but it's uninspired and also sends a worrying message that all that women have to bring to social change and medical research is a bit of breast jiggling and the hint of thigh.

It's also a bit of a shame that having got pictures of Edith Bowman naked in the name of charity, The Sun then manages to get the URL of the campaign she's supporting wrong. It's

Brand awareness

So, a group called Lavender Productions have named a bunch of men that, they claim, are "Lez Daddys", the equivalent of gay men's icons. The idea, it seems, is to:

increase gay awareness across Europe.

Radio 2's Russell Brand is on the list, which is topped by David Walliams. Yes, him off Attachments:
A Lavender spokeswoman said: “David is a very open-minded individual and has been very supportive and accepting towards lesbian women in his work. He has even played a few lesbians himself.

“He is the one who makes lesbians doubt themselves – not surprising when you consider how beautiful his legs look in a skirt.”

No matter how many times you refresh the page, yes, it does appear that Lavender are "increasing awareness across Europe" by suggesting that lesbians "doubt themselves" when they come across Walliams. Which seems to be "you think you're gay, but you'll think differently when you meet the right bloke" wrapped up in a celebrity awards ceremony from where we're sitting. We're going to go and sob quietly in a corner for a minute or two.

Winehouse: Jagger helps out

In an interview for BBC News, Mick Jagger breathes a sigh of relief that Amy Winehouse is getting space to work through her problems:

What a worry, eh? It seems to have gone a bit quiet now hasn't it, the Amy Winehouse story. Everyone goes through these things when they get very famous so hopefully Amy will come out the other side with equanimity and a new lease of life.

Everyone goes through these things? Really? David Dimbleby and Tim Henman and that bloke with the umbrella who does Coast all disappeared into a drug-fuelled tube, did they?

Still, like Jagger says, the story has gone a little quiet now, giving Winehouse the chance to get better in... oh, hang on a minute, what's this splashed all over The Sun?:
Jagger: I fear for Amy

MICK JAGGER fears AMY WINEHOUSE is heading for an early grave.

The troubled star sang on stage with the ROLLING STONES at the Isle of Wight Festival this summer.

But she pulled out of her support slot on part of the rockers’ Bigger Bang world tour after her drug meltdown in August.

Now singer Mick has opened his heart on the industry’s flawed new queen. Speaking in Germany, Jagger said: “Amy is a brilliant artist who makes fantastic music. She has class.

“But I’m worried she might die if she goes down the road that she has taken.”

But, if she does die, she'll be "coming through it with equanimity", right, Mick?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Days like these

KateModern, Bebo's interactive drama (don't you love the way that soap opera on the net is still spoken of as if it's a new idea, about a decade after The Spot?) has done a deal which will see Atlantic Records' second division hoofers The Days pop up in the story:

"Traditional means such as gigging and press interviews work alongside truly groundbreaking, inventive ideas such as this one." Joanna Shields, president, international, at Bebo, says the characters in the drama had already met actor Jamie Bell and "now, for the first time, they have befriended a real band - blurring fiction and reality in an interesting and interactive experience".

It's not actually blurring fiction and reality any more than those bits of The Archers where they drop in a rapidly-recorded scene featuring whichever actors were available discussing the latest agricultural disaster from the headlines does. Much as we love those moments - like the bit where Lilian Bellamy had to pretend to be interested in some cow-threatening plague because, presumably, they couldn't find an actor who played an actual farmer to get to the studios at short notice - they don't actual make us think "it's so realistic", but, because you start to ruminate on the process which made a bit on bluetongue or hoof-and-mouth appear at such short notice, they underline the unreality.

Now, if The Days didn't know they were appearing as a paid-for advertisement in a made-up story... now, that might blur the boundaries a bit.

Sharon Osbourne: It was daytime TV's fault

The double-flopping of Sharon Osbourne chat shows on both sides of the Atlantic turns out to not be because Osbourne as a presenter is about as effective as a colander for cooking soup in. Oh, no - it was daytime TV's fault:

"My ITV (British channel) chat show was a gigantic mistake. I'd had a hard lesson when I did a chat show in America but I hadn't learnt. It was my ego getting the better of me, thinking I could be queen of daytime TV. Wrong!

"I had to be so careful what I said and how I said it. No swearing, nothing too provocative. I couldn't be confrontational or probing - two things I might claim to be good at. The questions I wanted to ask, I couldn't.

"The truth is, daytime TV is not for me. I just don't fit it. I know that now."

It was television which got smaller, was it, Sharon?

The trouble is, this just doesn't add up. After all, if "I couldn't swear" is one of the excuses for producing dreary programming, that seems less like a problem with the rules of daytime TV, more like a failure of imagination on the part of the host. Likewise, if you can't frame a difficult question in a way that will work for a family audience, then you probably have no claim to be a television presenter.

And as for the suggestion that you can't be provocative on daytime TV, that's just not true. Richard and Judy managed to get away with full-frontal male nudity and road-testing viagra - the difference being, of course, that the producers were able to trust their presenters with the material.

Spears loses the kids

Not in the sense of "forgets which bar stool she left them on" - on this occasion; rather, a judge has granted Kevin Federline custody of his children by Britney Spears "until the further order of the court." You know there's something gone seriously awry when the kids are better off with Federline than with you.

Kerry Katona: The books what "I" wrote

Kerry, you are in danger of spreading your talents way, way too thin. Coming this month, there's her first novel - if you assume that (a) she wrote it and (b) that her previous books weren't equally made up - called Tough Love: Everyone Knows You But Nobody Knows the Truth. Can you guess what it's about?

Besides making more money from the Katona-obsessed?

Amazon offers a precis:

Leanne Crompton had it all - beauty, fame, money. But when Leanne is sacked by her modelling agency, she soon finds herself penniless. With her seven-year-old daughter Kia to support, she has no option but to head north to her home town... back to her wayward family. With a brother just released from prison, another being taken for a mug by his wannabe-WAG girlfriend, and two sisters trying to escape her shadow, life with the Cromptons is a harsh reminder of how far she's fallen. Now, starting over and with an explosive secret to hold on to - the identity of Kia's dad - things start to get tough. Can she trust her ruthless mother Tracy not to sell her out to the papers? Or will Kia's dad catch up with her and silence her for good? "Tough Love" is the startling debut novel from former pop star and tabloid favourite Kerry Katona. Her memoir, "Too Much Too Young", was a "Sunday Times" top ten bestseller.

Goodness. A briefly rich-and-famous person who loses it all and winds up having to head back to a grim family in a Northern town, eh? Where does she get her ideas from?

And, yes, they're making much of her Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller status, flashing it all across the cover. But where did the vast majority of those books end up, rather quickly?
Charity shop windowStill, someone's got faith in her, as the follow-up is already on the schedule for an April publication (where does she find the time to sign-off on these books, eh?). This one is a little different:
Charly Metcalfe has a new boyfriend - Premiership footballer Joel Baldy - and a new WAG lifestyle. But when rumours start circulating about Joel's sordid nights out without her, Charly is not happy and neither is her father, ex-villain Len Metcalfe. When Joel is found murdered in his hotel suite in Manchester, all eyes are on Len. He has the motive and the dangerous temperament. But what about Charly's disgruntled ex, Scott Crompton, or his criminal brother Markie, who has a debt to settle with Len. Behind the scenes there is someone who wants Len back inside and Charly back in her council house more than anything. And that person is keeping uncharacteristically quiet. They're willing to do anything to make sure that someone else is framed for the murder; even if that person turns out to be their own flesh and blood...Rough Justice is the second novel from former pop star and tabloid favourite, Kerry Katona.

A person from a Northern town who's dragged herself up from nothing and is set to lose it all... it's like she's a plot-creating machine...

Yoko seeks to bring peace

It's a crazy old mixed-up world, with guns and bombs and tanks and all the other panoply of war that Dolores listed in the Cranberries' Zombie. Yoko Ono, though, is prepared to do something about it, and is building a tower of light to extend the lucrative John Lennon brand ("to provide a focus for world peace").

She's building this tower in Reykjavik, a city well-known for being at the heart of so-much world conflict.

It's a bit like building a monument to gay tolerance in central Brighton: sure, it's a lovely sentiment, but it's not in the place where attitudes most urgently need changing.

Heads up

After all that bloody codery and winks and nods, it all boils down to "new Radiohead album in ten days":

Posting on Radiohead's official site Jonny Greenwood's message simply says:

"Hello everyone.
Well, the new album is finished, and it's coming out in 10 days;
We've called it In Rainbows.
Love from us all.

However, MI5 believe this might, in itself, be a code for 'rise up, rise up, and put the ruling class to the sword' and so have impounded Thom Yorke.

McGee gives Tim for free

The Charlatans might be wondering about the direction Alan McGee (professor of Pop at the University of Gloucestershire) is taking them in, with the news that he's decided they're going to give away their new material. For free:

McGee said he decided to give the Charlatans' music away after they were offered a deal he considered less than satisfactory by their record company, Sanctuary. "I thought, 'well nobody buys CDs anyway'. If you talk to a 19-year-old kid, they don't buy CDs. In eastern Europe, nobody buys a CD – everything is digitally downloaded from the internet for nothing. I came to the conclusion, 'Why don't we just give it away for nothing'."

So, having identified The Charlatans' target market as, erm, nineteen year old boys in Bratislava rather than the slightly pudgy thirtysomething Madchester survivors you or I might have pictured as being at their heart, McGee is electing to make it all available for nothing.
McGee said the band "could not lose" from the revolutionary approach. "We looked at the deal we were being offered by Sanctuary and said, 'Let's just do it ourselves'. We increase our fan base, we sell more merchandise, more fans talk about the band and we get more advertising and more films (soundtracks). More people will get into the the Charlatans and will probably pay the money to see the show. I presume it will double the gig traffic, maybe even treble it."

Except, of course, McGee's nineteen year old who'd be getting the album for free now would have been getting it for free anyway, so there's no loss there, but a large number of people would have paid for the record who now will be getting it for nothing. Sure, under the Sanctuary deal, they'd have been getting buttons for their share of the cake, but a small pile of buttons will keep you warm better than a large bunch of nothing. And will the extra tshirts and extra tickets make up that pile? Especially since the band usually sell out their tour dates anyway.

In addition, making the tracks totally free strips them out of chart contention - and pulls them away from Amazon and it's recommendation system - reducing the band's visibility as much as they giveaway will raise it.

We love that McGee has shifted to try something new, but it does bother us that simply giving away the tracks is as unworkable an idea as trying to keep them locked-up. Could McGee not have had effect he hoped for, without costing the band a small fortune, by making the singles available for nothing but keeping an album package back? Just because some people will always find a way to avoid paying doesn't mean it's a compelling business argument to turn away people who want to pay.

Still, should Tim Burgess find himself on his uppers and need a place to kip, we're more than willing to offer him a duvet and a can of soup.

The Enemy realise they might need friends

We know you'll have been unable to settle all weekend, wondering if The Enemy and Alex Zane are still at war.

The good news is that The Enemy have been thinking - probably about the combined marketing push offered by Channel 4 and XFM to their target audience of not-too-fussy boys in skintight jeans - and have offered a truce:

"I'm willing to play an acoustic set on his show. We've got to move on."

Not only have they got to move on, they've also got a large pile of unsold copies of We'll Live And Die In These Towns they've got to move on out of warehouses.

We love the idea that coming onto Zane's show and playing an acoustic session is some sort of concession, though - it's like if Galtieri had offered to turn up in Plymouth and translate all the street signs into Spanish to end the Falklands War.

Spice Girls sell out in seconds

The big switch-on for Spice Girls tickets happened earlier today, with the London date selling-out in 38 seconds, almost certainly a record for selling anything to do with Mel B.

We're presuming the story in today's claiming that Bono is writing a song for the band was a last-minute attempt to dampen demand to a point where the phones could cope.

Bono? Really? Writing a pop song?

Of course, it doesn't matter overmuch, as the Best Of will sell on the backs of the good songs from the first two albums rather than anything from the point where more time was spent styling the video than writing the lyrics, but Bono.

The Spice Girls are - okay, were - a burst of over-coloured pop frenzy. Has nobody noticed that when Bono attempts to be pop, and carefree, it comes across like a headmaster joining in an end-of-term revue in a bid to be thought of as a good egg? What motivation can there be for asking someone who wrote his last decent song before the Spice Girls were formed - indeed, before they were teenagers - to provide a song for a pop band?

Or is it an RDF life-swap series, and somewhere they've got Alison 'Betty Boo' Clarkson trying to knock up a song for Rage Against The Machine?

Drink to the Mobos

Gabrielle's recent criticisms of the Mobos - she complained that they're US-centric and lack any recognition of soul - have been considered by Mutya out of the Sugababes (very out of the Sugababes), and she doesn't agree:

"I don't think any awards should be stopped.

"It's great to get drunk and have fun and not have any hate. We're all in the same industry."

Aha. So, it's not a celebration of the achievements of artists working primarily in genres with a black heritage; it's a piss-up. Although if you really just wanted to have a gathering where people got drunk and have fun, you could just put in a bus shelter and not worry about trying to create a shortlist without Dizzee Rascal's name on it.

Just fancy that

"I've never been the kind of girl who has to have the latest Chloé handbag," she insisted. "If I see a nice bag for £30, I'll get it."

- Cheryl Cole tells the News of the World how down-to-earth she is, 30th September

SEXY CHERYL COLE earns her stripes as a WAG — on a shopping binge in a zebra-patterned hat.

The Something Kinda Ooooh singer, 24 — wife of Chelsea ace ASHLEY COLE, 26 — also donned huge sunglasses as she spent big in Beverly Hills at the weekend.

- The Sun, 1st October ...presumably, she was at the Beverly Hills Target.

Gary Barlow moans about British music

Talking like a man who has already bought an extra can of Brasso to buff up the award, Gary Barlow is predicting great success for Gary Barlow at the Brits, because everything else is dull:

“I’m not sure what the Brits is going to be like this year because there haven’t been any massive British records.

“If you think about it, last year in the Best British Single category, there were loads of really strong pop records, but this year there haven’t really been any. The biggest song has probably been RIHANNA's Umbrella but she’s not British.”

How a man can say that with a straight face in the year when Ting Tings released That's Not My Name is beyond us, but we guess Barlow is just assuming that the Brits aren't going to bother themselves with anything beyond the Top Ten.

And if the major label-top 40 sector has been less than glittery this year, could that be because of the obsession with resurrecting bands instead of discovering them, with Blue and Spice Girls and god knows who else being measured up to see if they can fit in their old stage pants? And which band would have been responsible for kicking off that obsession, Mr. Gary Barlow out of Take That?

Ozzy Osbourne: will die "just like that"

David Arden is worried about Ozzy Osbourne.

Who he? He's Sharon Osbourne's younger brother. And his concern is that Sharon is working Oz so hard, he's going to die on stage:

“I have known Ozzy since 1970. He is going to do 40 shows on the bounce, starting in mid-October and he’s talking about a Black Sabbath tour after that.

“I think he’s worn out. When the cameras are off he just sits there quietly.

“Sharon will keep Ozzy on the road until, like Tommy Cooper, he dies on stage.

“Sharon needs him to work because of her exorbitant spending — although, in fairness to her, Ozzy wouldn’t know what to do if he ever retired.”

To be honest, it doesn't seem like Ozzy knows what he's doing with himself at the moment. But the vision of a man who only comes alive when the spotlight is on him sounds more like late-period Ronald Reagan than Tommy Cooper.

Arden then canters through Sharon's tales of childhood poverty and suggests that she might be disembellishing her childhood like a character in a Monty Python sketch:
“She claimed she came up from nothing but there was no way we were impoverished.

“She said she could remember bailiffs coming round every week and taking the furniture out and then having it brought back. Absolute codswallop.

“There were times electricity and phone bills weren’t paid on time.

“My dad would make sure the best steak was on the table and cashmere coats were on his children and then worry about the bills.

“We had hand-made clothes. At the age of six she had her shoes hand-made at Freed’s of St Martin’s Lane.

“We also went to private schools. My dad had a twinkle in his eye for Sharon. She could do no wrong.

“She over-sensationalises her life. When she says her father used to pull her hair ... he would never do that. She was his little Jewish Princess.

It should be pointed out that Arden and his sister have had a falling out in the summer, over their Dad's funeral, and oddly, he never seemed that bothered about how hard Sharon was working Ozzy before.

Further, Arden produced Sharon's chatshow on daytime in America which was every bit as big a success as her one for ITV, the Moribund Teatime Audience Drop-Off Hour or whatever it was called.

He seems to have suddenly noticed, though, that Osbourne isn't very nice:
David claims further evidence of Sharon’s hypocrisy emerged in her reaction to an overweight contestant on the new series of X-Factor.

Sharon and fellow judge Louis Walsh exploded with laughter when Dawn Gerrard said she used to be a jockey.

David said: “Sharon is one of the biggest hypocrites around.

“She has talked about her own struggles with weight problems.”

Even if it wasn't hypocritical, that's still just bloody nasty - and although going on the X Factor is like tattooing Kick Me on your face-parts, there's really no excuse for it.

There is, of course, no response from Sharon in the Sun's report, but somehow, this doesn't read like a feature that will heal the family rift.