Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's what Kurt would have wanted

Well, maybe it's not what Kurt would have wanted, but if he'd expressly not wanted it, he should have thought about not blowing his head off with a gun leaving Courtney in charge: Universal Pictures are working towards a movie of his life.

We're sure it'll do for Kurt what The Doors movie did for Jim Morrison - mark the official burial of his reputation as an outsider and turn him into a figure of fun, in other words.

Guerrilla gigs? What is this, 2005?

Okay, it wasn't quite a guerrilla gig, as it had been arranged a competition prize, but The Enemy at Loughborough Station does have the smack of that time when you couldn't pop out for a pound of potatoes without discovering a band throwing a secret gig outside the greengrocers.

It was an under-strength band, too: Andy Hopkins was laid up with grotty tonsils:

"We're really sorry Andy can't be here, but he's laid up in bed," Tom Clarke told the crowd.
"It's [tonsillitis] been going round all tour, I think I might even be coming down with it," he explained. "But fingers crossed we both should be well enough to play the two final dates. We don't want to let anybody down."

My Dad always used to insist that bands needed their adenoids removed. It turns out he wasn't wrong.

Ditto: now she's coming for Kirstie & Phil

Credit where it's due: this is quite a good gag on house prices from Beth Ditto:

"Posh and Becks even moved because they were too poor to buy a house here [in the UK].

"Do you know what the pound is compared to the dollar? No, way.'"

Of course, we're not quite clear how it fits with her downhome image to be worrying about property prices. Beth seems to suddenly realise that, too:
"I don't have the money to buy a house or the sanity, geeze-louise!"

Johnny Borrell defends his love of the other guys

There's a surprisingly pro-Borrell piece in the 3am girls column this morning:

Johnny Borrell has denied bizarre rumours that he's to quit Razorlight and go solo. The rocker told us: "I'm so tired of hearing this nonsense. It's complete rubbish and we're all working hard on a momentous third album." We never doubted you...

It's the "we never doubted you" bit that's especially odd - as if there's something almost heretical about suggesting Johnny Borrell might dump Stigsy, Plank, Boomer and the rest of the Razorlights. Although describing the rumours as "bizarre" - as if Borrell's constant centre-stage hogging and diva complex isn't a pretty big hint that he's already doing a solo career in everything but the divvying-up of cash at the end of the week - is a bit odd in its own right.

It's interesting to note that the 3AM Column is one of the few places in the world where you ever read quotes from the rest of the band.

The second Mrs Gallagher

The Mirror has picked out a special hat as it believes that Liam Gallagher and Nicole Appleton are getting married today.

Nicole celebrates by sharing a glimpse into life at the Gallagher home:

"When I see him strutting on to the stage I don't recognise him."

"He's like a lion tamer and with a crack of the whip he controls the fans.

"He can't do that to me. At home, I'm the lion tamer. Definitely."

We're not sure we'd peg Oasis' audience of beered-up men on the cusp of middle-aged spread as lions in need of taming; they're more like tapirs who need some help turning round. But we do appreciate the extravagant metaphor, even if it implies that Nicole - like lion tamers - dare never turn her back on the wild beast she shares a cage with.

Winehouse outed herself

Down in the comments section on Winehouse's arrest in Norway, there's been some speculation as to how the cops knew she was in possession.

According to this morning's Victoria Newton page, she more-or-less gave herself away:

Insiders say she was so incoherent that cops refused to interview her until 11pm. Then they kept her overnight for her own safety in a tiny cell with a concrete bed.

A source said: "They are very strict about drug taking in Norway. With her past record they thought there was more than just a couple of spliffs. When she opened the hotel room door it was obvious she was wasted. She was mumbling and no one could understand her.

"Amy and Blake were put in separate cells but Amy couldn’t be interviewed straight away because she was totally incoherent.

"She was co-operative and even let an officer in training look in her eyes so he could recognise how a person high on drugs looks."

Trouble is, Norway have now embarked on arresting anyone with a beehive as greenhorn cops have decided that spraying and backcombing must be a sign. Mari Wilson has been advised to avoid Bergen at all costs.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Indie "painfully white" shock

Some years ago now, I was talking with a friend when I made the observation - without any judgement - that their musical tastes were surprisingly, completely, white. At first, they were outraged, so I asked them to tell me which records they owned by black artists.

After a couple of minutes flicking through their vinyl collection, they triumphantly emerged with The Boo Radley's drummer.

It's undeniable that indie music has always been predominately a white pursuit - less so now, perhaps, than in the 1980s and 90s, but even so, you'd still be rummaging around for "drummers from the Boo Radleys" if you were trying to draw up a list of non-white indie stars.

Which makes it so surprising that Sasah Frere-Jones' New Yorker piece pointing this out has caused such a stink.

Although, of course, that wasn't Frere-Jones' central point: he was more moaning that indie rock isn't very rocky anymore, which seems even more pointless: it's true that the Arcade Fire aren't very much like the Rolling Stones and thus even less like Little Richard, but does that matter much?

The article is nothing more than an old man mumbling that the kids today aren't as good as the kids were when he was a kid; he even complains that you can't understand the words:

Indie-band singers abandoned full-throated vocals and began to mumble and moan, and to hide their voices under noise.

If Frere-Jones hadn't thrown in a spurious race angle, nobody would have given it a second look. Which, we heartily suspect, is exactly what Frere-Jones had in mind when he introduced this as a racial debate rather than the lament of a lost youth.

Department For Homeland Security: saving America from Death Cabs

For reasons which aren't going to make any sense - airport security never does - Chris Walla from Death Cab For Cutie had his computer hard drive seized as he crossed into the US from Canada. It had Walla's solo album on it:

It's a true story. Barsuk [Records, which is putting out the record] had hired a courier — who does international stuff all the time and who they had used before — to bring [the album] back from Canada, where I was working on it. And he got to the border and he had all his paperwork and it was all cool, only they turned him away, and they confiscated the drive and gave it to the computer-forensics division of our Homeland Security-type people. And now I couldn't even venture a guess as to where it is, or what it's doing there. I mean, I can't just call their customer-service center and ask about my drive. There's nothing I can do. I don't know if we can hire an attorney ... is there a black-hole attorney? You can't take a black hole to court."

Perhaps this is the first time anyone has ever been suspected of weaponising indie rock.

Radiohead book some flights

So, it turns out that Thom Yorke's pronouncements about stopping touring to save the planet might have fallen apart when faced with the prospect of not earning money from touring; the band are lining up a leisurely tour for 2008, says manager Bryce Edge:

"We plan to tour next year," he said. "Starting in May through to probably the end of the year, with lots of holidays in that period.

"At the moment we are talking with our agents in North America and for the rest of the world, trying to get a schedule which works for the band and works financially."

Talking to Gothamist a few days ago, Jonny Greenwood made some mumbly noises about trying to work out a way to tour ecologically, without falling into the Coldplay trap of believing in carbon-offsets as doing more than assuaging guilt:
We’ve heard bad things about that. I’m not sure that that’s enough; to buy off our guilt with money. That might not be the best way to do it. We’re kind of looking at a few other ideas. It’s interesting; we’ve had a report done on touring and how much pollution gets created and what would be the most efficient way to do it: playing small venues or big venues, playing venues inside a city or outside a city, playing a big venue and having lots of people drive a long way to get to see you or whether it’s better for us to travel to different places. There are a lot of things to balance out. Whether it’s better to play a festival. So we’ve got to factor that in as well.

We're not quite sure there's a way to play a territory like the US that doesn't involve pumping polar-bear-drowning levels of carbon into the atmosphere, unless they ship themselves over the Atlantic and power everything with windmills - but, to be honest, you wouldn't put that past them, would you?

Glitter banged; remains so

Gary Glitter's hopes of getting out of his Vietnam jail have been frustrated by child protection groups, nine of whom wrote to the nation's authorities calling for him to be denied a holiday amnesty:

Ecpat Uk, which led the call to keep Glitter, 63, locked up, said: "We do not believe he has served enough time in prison to change his behaviour."

ECPAT doesn't explain what sort of help Glitter is currently getting in his Vietnamese jail to address his criminality; nor if it really believes that locking someone in a rat-infested jail is really a way to address "behaviour" rather than merely dumping a problem out-of-sight.

Britney loses access all over again

Having briefly outraged readers of the cheaper papers by winning overnight visitation rights, Britney's blown it again, losing that hard-won access by the traditional pop star route of ignoring court orders.

It could be not taking the random drug and booze tests, or failing them; it might be she's skipped parenting classes. It could simply be that the new album isn't any good. But something's annoyed the court; until that's sorted, it's no kids for Britney.

Amy ramps up the Pete Dohertys

As she moves to become the female Pete Doherty ever more, Amy Winehouse has picked up a drug charge. She was arrested and held overnight in Norway on cannabis possession charges; she was released following payment of a five hundred Euro fine.

The curious thing is that arrest followed a tip-off - it seems Amy not might be choosing her friends that wisely.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plus ca change...

This time, surely? Pete Doherty was due in court yesterday for a drugs update; instead, he was in France on tour. He's been instructed to appear next week; surely this latest piss-taking is going to push the judge over the edge and Doherty into jail?

Kerry Katona trips over both mote, beam

Now, if you're the sort of person who rushes out news of a miscarriage to the world's press, and then sends your publicist out later to tell everyone about the miracle not-miscarriage; who turns being held hostage in your own home into a nice story to sell to the papamagazines; who will happily turn a strained relationship with their own mother into cash-generating tabloid mulch, you might think twice before labeling anyone as desperate.

Not Kerry Katona, though. She's reserving her ire for Victoria Beckham, who she reckons was "desperate" because, erm, she went to a large city for a fashion shoot at the same time as something else happened in the city:

"Sometimes I find it very hard to understand Victoria Beckham. Her walking out of the Ritz Hotel in Paris was so sad and desperate.

"It looked like she tried to steal the show at the Diana inquest.

"I can't believe she walked - with her entourage - straight in front of the world's paparazzi waiting outside the hotel to see jurors retrace Diana's final footsteps!"

Yeah. You'd not get Kerry popping out of the Widnes Travelodge at the same time as the police were investigating a fire in a skip in the car park.

Woman wears tights - shock

We're en route from somewhere to somewhere, but had to dash to an internet cafe when we heard on CNN about the exclusive story Victoria Newton has broken this morning: Nicola Roberts wore a pair of tights to a Girls Aloud photoshoot.

Yes, that's the main story.

Newton - crack journo that she is - launches into well-informed speculation about why a lady might wear tights:

Maybe she had forgotten to shave. Or had not found time to get to a tanning salon.

Maybe. Or maybe they weren't really her legs, and were actually the butchered remains of a Bernie Clifton-style ostrich. Somebody, please, call PETA for a quote.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Napster: Still going, apparently

As Pete Doherty is finding out, the worst thing about being a reformed reprobate is that nobody finds you half as interesting. Napster could tell him a thing or two about that, of course.

They've just launched version 4 which we were going to have a look at - except, if you follow the 'napster US' link on the UK homepage, it takes you to the .com site, which registers you've got a UK-based IP address, and so bounces you straight back to the site.

Apparently, then, the big change this time is that the new Napster works through a web-browser and requires no download, opening the service up to be ignored by Mac and Linux users now, as well as the current non-user base of PC owners. (Global subscriptions are a little over 750,000).

It's not all bad - the inclusion of historic Billboard chart data makes the thing a little like an interactive, US version of Guinness Hit Singles, for example, but that feels more like a feature that is going to please the converted rather than drive take-up (and we wonder if the cost of purchasing that data will recoup in anything other than the very, very long run).

But the clunks are louder than the applause. Most notably, the new Napster offers music videos. Only... erm, you can't take them with you on your mobile device.

Perhaps more socially useful than just 'giving away' your records

The Baseliners - perhaps inspired by the current belief that you can't make money out of recorded music anyway - have tossed all the take from their debut album to the Rotary Club.

Now, imagine if the supposedly-still-socialist McGee had thought of that for the Charlatans album, instead of merely giving it away... a good cause could have had a nice payday; the band would have still got the publicity (and might have not been edged out quite so swiftly by the Radiohead story) and the perception that the band's music is without value could have been avoided.

The unfriendly Ghostface

Ghostface Killah, out of the Wu-Tang Clan is annoyed, angered like you wouldn't believe: his solo album is now schedule-conflictedly, coming out the same day as the Wu Tang album. He wails that it's not fair, Mum, he had that day booked first:

"I had December 4 for the longest but the Wu album, brothers was kinda late on doing whatever they were doing and pushed it back.

"They trying to fuck around and make me push my album back and doing all this. But niggas ain't fucking around or give us money when we did them Wu-Tang tours.

"The first one, they paid us after a while, but this last one, niggas is holding onto a lot of money. And [they're] upset based on that. It's a battle right now."

He was keen, however, that MTV should note that his problem did not lie with his fellow clansmen.

"You can put this in there, I'm not [mad at] all the members. It's not based on the members, but the hierarchy at Wu-Tang Clan is on some bullshit."

Mr. Killah could, of course, blame this on the popular management handbook 'My hierarchy is On Bullshit', the follow-up to the best selling 'Who Moved My Bullshit'.

If we understand his complaint correctly, the double-date is because some mysterious bosses are trying to punish him for, erm, not being paid for some sort of album?

To be frank, given how ropey Killah's solo stuff is, he should be thankful that there might be something to tempt his fanbase into whatever record stores remain open.

Apple drops more DRM, price

Ars Technica is reporting that the US iTunes store is going to drop the price of DRM-free downloads to 99 cents tomorrow, while adding more tracks from a slew (of indeterminate size) of indie labels.

Radiohead of state

You'd have thought with the recording industry having the ear of the lawmakers in DC, everyone would be over the implications of that not-quite-historical Radiohead download experiment. The Washington Times discovered it's not so:

White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel said that while he does not own any Radiohead albums, he is an "appreciator" of their music.

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council, said he is "90 percent sure" that he has a few Radiohead tunes on his iPod.

When asked if any of those songs were from their 2003 album, "Hail to the Thief," which some consider a reference to President Bush, Mr. Johndroe said, "not that one."

And what about press secretary Dana Perino, the No. 1 mouthpiece for President Bush?

"I don't even know what that is," she said, when asked. "Is that a band?"

Surely if Johndroe isn't certain he has Radiohead on his iPod, he can't be certain he has the proper licences to own the content. Isn't it time he was arrested or something?

Drowning in Berlin

Although apparently she rallied later on, Amy Winehouse's Berlin date suggests she's still got more "personal demons" to "bring under control":

From the moment Wino tripped and staggered as she walked on stage, it was clear we would be in for a rollercoaster ride.

The Camden Caner had to stop and start again after stumbling over the opening lines of two numbers – including a cover of ZUTONS hit Valerie.

She also twitched, coughed and rubbed her face awkwardly for the most part of the gig.

This, of course, is from Bizarre, written as if Victoria was in the front row. Apart from the vague "most part of the gig" bit.

That explains a lot

Peter Andre has he and Jordan wear masks when they're having sex. It's not a kink thing, it's just would you want either of those faces gawking back at you when you're trying to get off?

Peter continues to mistake the world's lack of interest for, well, interest:

"Katie is a filthy bitch and I'm her temptation.

"Everybody has fantasies and when it comes to sexual ones, when you close your bedroom door and it's just you and your partner, anything goes."

He actually talks like a voiceover on a programme on Men and Motors, doesn't he?

Victoria Newton hails J-Lo's bravery

This morning, we have to ask everyone to take a moment to think of Jennifer Lopez and the selfless bravery Newton applauds her for:

The diva donned this tight silver dress and diamante glasses to promote new album Brave, out this week.

I guess it takes some bravery to dress like that...

Wearing a dress and being photoshopped to hell to save some drowning kittens from a burning house sell some records. There isn't a valour medal that's been struck that can do that justice, is there?

Monday, October 15, 2007

I can never remember: is it happy 50 Cent day, or merry 50 Cent day?

Notwithstanding his retirement - oh, sorry, that was just some anal-bath bubbling on his part, wasn't it? - Connecticut has been celebrating 50 Cent Day.

It's a bit of a confused message to the kids there, mind. One minute, Fiddy is warning kids not to copy him:

"I don't do drugs," he said. "That was who I was, but I changed direction. My music reflects the early part of my life."

Growing up in Queens, the 32-year-old sold drugs with his grandparents' encouragement, after his mother died. "I got shot five times. But everybody has pain, whether it is from losing a parent or being in a bad relationship. God fits our pain to each person."

So, right, don't follow Fiddy's example, eh, kids?

Only then the mayor's fawning over the size of Cent's pocketbook:
Jackson presented a $25,000 check from his G-Unity Foundation to the Hall Neighborhood House, an early childhood education program that is expanding its performing arts offerings. Director Reggie Walker accepted a large cardboard facsimile check while [Bridgeport mayor John M] Fabrizi joked, "If you add a zero, Reggie, I don't think Curtis will miss it."

So, what exactly is the message here? That Cent has changed, left a life of crime and violence and drugs behind - but he hasn't, has he, because that's what he sells; that's what has raised the cash that the mayor giggles about being in such great supply he could drop off a quarter mill without even noticing. It appears to give the impression you can do what the hell you like, and you'll come away with a few being-shot stories to soft-brag about and a bucket of money.

But it's just hy...oh

The Hype Machine has a new-look site ready to go - but it's refusing to launch until 10,000 people are logged-in at once. Yes, it's just like in Peter Pan, only instead of yelling "I believe in fairies" you have to leave a browser window open.

All they are saying is give us some peace

Plans for a peace-themed pair of concerts in Tel Aviv and Jericho have been scrapped after complaints the organisers had avoided incorporating many key Palestinian demands into the concert's aims. And also that they insisted on having Bryan Adams on the bill.

Actually, we're not quite sure how the concerts were supposed to work:

Rocker Bryan Adams was due to headline two concerts held simultaneously in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the West Bank town of Jericho on 18 October.

How was he going to headline two gigs simultaneously, exactly?

To pass the afternoon...

In honour of environmentalist Moby's happy soundtracking of car adverts, the Washington Post has developed the Moby Quotient, which allows you to quantify the size of the sell-out. There's even an online calculator. Since Moby is always happy to laugh at himself, we're sure he'll enjoy it.

Number one in some sort of chart

While it's wonderful for Crusoe George that he's become the most popular artist on, we suspect that it's far better from him that he's persuaded the Evening Argus that "bloke briefly has more downloads than other users on one of many download sites" is quite so big a news story as it appears. But full points to him for spinning some old-media coverage from a tiny new-media story.

If you have five seconds to spare, I'll tell you the story of my life

Amongst the many projects at an early stage that we can't wait for is KT Tunstall - The Movie.

And who would be so fascinated by KT Tunstall as to write a film about her?

Why, KT Tunstall, of course.

Mel C fights for alma mater

Most schools, when faced with the axe, have to assemble a few old boys who've climbed corporate polls since their departure. Fairfield High in Widnes is able to call on the might of Mel C:

“Not only did I leave with a great education, I was able to pursue my love of performing arts and sport. Both departments were brilliant – kept me busy and out of trouble.”

Without Fairfield, Melanie Chisholm might never have been a Spice Girl, in other words. Where are you lot off to with those burning torches?

Sex Pistols snubbed all over again

Oddly, having spent the last couple of weeks banging on about the campaign to get the Sex Pistols to the top of the charts, the NME seems to have gone slightly coy about its level of success.

It turns out that even the likes of Luke Pritchard insisting that John Lydon had some sort of right to be number one because thirty years ago he was less popular than Rod Stewart could only get the Pistols to number 42. This chart position somehow fails to make the NME's chart round-up:

In a fairly quiet week for singles Elvis Presley has a hit with a reissue of 'Big Hunk O' Love' at Number Twelve.

No Pistols in '07, then.

Presumably, this was all the doing of "the Man" in some mysterious way. Still, better luck in 2027, guys.

[Thanks to anonymous on the Idlewild post for reminding me!]


Rod Jones, Idlewild guitarist, nearly managed to wipe out the entire UK tour at their Liverpool show in the old L2; so overcome was he watching the support band he flung himself, Princess Diana-like, down the stairs. (Alright, he fell.)

The result? Soldiering on in agony:

"I landed on my arm, which is the worst thing possible for a guitarist, so it wasn't the best start to our UK tour.

"It was a bit scary and I thought we were going to have to cancel a whole bunch of shows. My arm was agony so we strapped it up and put it in ice. I didn't want to let our fans down so I played the gig but I can't say it was the best performance I have ever given.

"There was quite a bit of wincing from me during the show and I was pulling some amusing faces.

"We discussed pulling out of the tour because I didn't want to do my arm any more damage.

"After the gig we went straight to the hospital to get it checked out. I was told I had a hairline fracture but the doctor said I could continue to play."

Despite being in agony. Of course.

Allen plots boutique label

There's a nasty rumbling in the Daily Mirror that, having dumped her management to "go it alone", Lily Allen is plotting a record label of her own. Because artist-fronted labels have such a great track record, don't they?

3AM offers evidence of her plans that she's lined up two bands, block-booked a two-month bank of studio time and explored the terms and conditions for iTunes distribution. Sorry, that should read "their evidence is she's spoken to Kanye West and appeared as a judge on a TV talent show".

Pete Doherty and pals

That's the way to work your rehab pledge: Pete Doherty's had Amy Winehouse and Blake Cleaving-Desperate round to his place.

Meanwhile, Winehouse seems to be desperate to turn into a kind of John Gaunt figure in a beehive. Responding to a suggestion that she can't keep her mouth shut, like when she was a guest on Charlotte Church's programme:

“Why should I? If something troubles me, I speak my mind.

“That’s why they invite me.

“Church is an arrogant cow. And Bono isn’t much better. He thinks he’s God.”

Amy, love: they don't invite you to hear your forthright views - they invite you because they hope you'll turn up pissed, dance around in your knickers, and generate a lucrative clip that can be sold on alongside the Oliver Reed/After Dark and Tara Palmer Tomkinson/Frank Skinner bits.

"and The Razorlights" prepare for life as ex-backing band

The Sun reports this morning that the inevitable solo Johnny Borrell career has edged nearer this week - we're picture something a bit like the Doomsday Clock, counting down the minutes.

Victoria Newton reckons he did a solo set - with a guest slot from Lily Allen, which shows you just how Seaside Special he's heading. The greatest detail, though, was that he was:

sporting a Shakespearean moustache and beard.

Sadly, no pictures of the beard appear to be online yet. We hope he expands to wear the full ruff. And white pantaloons.

Four hundred children and a crook in the field

It's that time again, which comes round every few years, when English people pretend to be interested in rugby as there's a possibility of winning something. Hours of fun can be had asking people wearing the shirts "remind me... is this union or league?"

As part of the exciting build-up to a world cup final in a sport most people won't give a second thought to for another three years, eleven months and three weeks, there's the exciting news that, if England win, Kenny Rogers has offered to do a private gig for them. But only if they win - presumably Rogers doesn't want to associate with a bunch of losers.

It's not quite as out-of-the-blue as it might seem - apparently, the rugby players have been singing The Gambler in the dressing rooms. One of the rugby players, called Matthew, was strumming it on his guitar, when other rugby players - possibly including men called Rory, Edward and, oh, I don't know, Curly or something - took the song up as something of an unofficial theme tune.

We know that somewhere in offices in London, at least six different music business impresarios are thinking "hey... what a great idea for a single..."

The Big Brother twins: A load of rubbish

Apparently, there's a bloke who's making a living for himself flogging Sam And Amanda's rubbish. No, this isn't about their Barbie Girl single, it's a chap called Shelkeltre who's flogging thing she finds in their bins on eBay. The Sun is outraged:

A WEIRDO has been raiding the bins of Big Brother twins Sam and and Amanda Marchant – and flogging their rubbish on eBay.

Weirdo, huh? After all, what sort of person would make their living selling famous people's rubbish? And what sort of person would buy stuff found in bins? Your answer may make reference to Benjamin Pell.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Foxy Brown has trouble understanding concept of 'prison bus'

You'd think that a prison bus would be fairly obviously a mode of transport which doesn't leave room for much in the way of personal choice. Foxy Brown seems to think otherwise; her refusal to board the prison bus for a court appearance means that now, she's going to get a second chance to take that bus. Only this time in chains.

Kittie cat's cradle legal mess

Great news for lawyers: an almost pointless legal row has exploded between Kittie and producers of America's Hot Musician.

The Oxygen TV reality show - which is attempting to discover a brilliant instrumentalist for some reason - includes Talena Atfield as one of the judges. To establish Atfield's bona fides to pass judgment on musicians, the opening credits of the show featured a snatch of her in a previous life, playing with Kittie.

Trouble is, Atfield's departure from Kittie wasn't entirely smooth, and they're annoyed she's using them to create this new life in front of small audiences on cable television. It might have been better to turn a blind eye, but instead, the band sent a cease-and-desist letter.

Now, the makers of the show are countersuing:

According to a press release issued by American Youth Symphony (AYS), producers of the show, federal court documents in AYS's lawsuit against Oxygen Media LLC recently revealed that Oxygen claims to have received notice of a cease-and-desist letter on May 14, 2007 from a law firm on behalf of the Canadian all-girl metal band KITTIE threatening immediate legal action if the program aired on the network. This allegedly took place one week before AYS received a cease-and-desist letter from KITTIE on May 21, 2007, which was subsequently posted on the Internet by the show's producers.

AYS Artistic Director Gregory Charles Royal said in a statement, "If we find out that what is alleged of KITTIE is indeed true, that they tortiously interfered with our business, notwithstanding the fact that they had no claim whatsoever to any infringement of copyrighted material within our program, they will be singing for their supper for a long time."

Nobody exactly comes out of this looking good, but if AYS had cleared the clip in the first place, there wouldn't have been a problem - and to repsond with a petulant and threatening press statement means, wherever the point of law lays, it's clear to see who has the moral high ground. (Clue: not the company threatening to bankrupt a band because they objected to uncleared use of their footage.)

Nas pours some petrol

With all the subtlety of a six-year old throwing a tantrum because he wants a Fudge Bar, Nas has weighed the ongoing debate of the use of a certain word in rap, and elected to call his new album Nigga.

Yes, Nas. It'll make everyone look at you. It'll also make everyone say "he doesn't really understand the forces he's trying to use for some cheap publicity, does he?"

No Mo Cocteau

Simon Raymonde popped up on Marc Riley's Brain Surgery on Thursday evening, in his role as label boss for Stephanie Dosen; in the course of his brief chat he revealed that after the reunion for Coachella collapsed, it's now unlikely the Cocteau Twins will ever play again. He suggested he didn't have any interest in doing so; he hinted that others had even less.

I've been compared to damn Britney Spears

We wonder where Superfab Showbiz Zoe got the story in today's Sunday Mirror? A "friend of the singer" shares their worries about Allen after she dumped her management:

"Seb was a stabilising influence on Lily. Since they broke up, she's been living it up. She's lost weight because she has been putting par tying before eating.

"Her management were worried - then she axed them. She believes that she can make it alone. But she's living in cloud cuckoo land. Record execs had big plans for Lily to crack the US, but she pulled out of one tour because she was homesick. Then she lost her visa because of her boasts about taking drugs. Now she's on her own."

Why, "you had big options in the US, but you blew it yourself through your own actions, and now you've dumped the only people who could help you" - it could almost be her ex-management team talking, couldn't it?

Zoe has decided that, since both Lily and Britney have sacked their management at roughly the same time, effectively there's little to choose between them:
I hope Lily sees the error of her ways before she does a complete Britney. At least she hasn't shaved her hair off or gone out without her underwear - yet.

Yes. It's only a matter of time - perhaps hours - before Lily Allen shaves her hair off.

Robbie Williams is not diseased

It's been a while since someone who's had (supposedly) sex with Robbie Williams has told the News of the World all about it, so there's almost something nostalgic about Suzanne Copin's kiss-and-tell in the paper:

NAKED and trembling with anticipation, pretty Suzanne Coppin gazed up at the famous face hovering over her as she lay on the Egyptian cotton sheets of his king-size bed.

This is a little disappointing - do we not get to find out how many threads his sheets have?
Robbie Williams had charmed her this far. What sweet nothings would he come up with next as, inevitably, they made love?

There's nothing worse than making love inevitably, is there?

Still, what did Gurning Boy whisper to the anticipatorally-trembling pretty woman on his Egyptian sheets?
It certainly never occurred to Suzanne they would be: "Don't worry, I haven't got a sex disease. Would you like to see my doctor's note?"

Though a bit unconventional as seduction patter goes, it was typical of the brief time she spent in the pop superstar's tortured world.

To be honest, if the sex is by now "inevitable", then we're past seducation. But it turns out this was just a way to weasel out of wearing a condom anyway:
Suzanne, 31, recalled the moment on Robbie's bed when she asked him to wear a condom.

"He said he had just been tested by the doctor as he was so convinced he had got something because of all the women he had slept with and was amazed when it had come back clean.

"It was then he told me, ‘I'm not gay either, despite what everyone thinks.'

"He even got up and offered to go and get his computer to show me the letter from his doctor but something in his eyes told me he was not lying so I said I was happy to believe him."

Ah, right. The "honest look in the eyes" is a well-known protection against unwanted pregnancy and syphilis. Had we been trying to ascertain if sex with Williams was going to give us crabs, we wouldn't have been staring into his eyes.

It's almost heartbreaking that he's so concerned about people thinking he might like sex with men that he's even denying being gay while poised to have inevitable, heterosexual sex. It's like sitting in an Outback Steak House with a napkin tied round your neck and muttering that you're not a vegetarian.

Still, let's give Coppin room to share her story of copping:
Instead of flannel sheets and ripped jeans, his bedroom had the best white Egyptian cotton sheets and designer clothes.

"But none of that mattered from the moment his hands touched my body.

It's wonderful that she was able to ignore Williams' vast wealth. Well done, Suzanne.
"I didn't even care he had the TV playing in the background with a shark documentary on."

Really? Because, to be honest, that would put me off. And leave me wondering if he wasn't using the shark programme as a means of arousal. Did you shout out 'it's yours' when you came? Or 'it's Jaws'?
It was total rock star sex and everything you could imagine from one of the sexiest men on the planet.

Now, that is a surprise, what with Williams being perhaps one of the sexiest great lost Chuckle Brothers but not in with a shout for the "sexiest men on the planet" list.
"We did it in every position imaginable and at the last count I had in my head we had done ten."

If it's ten you don't have a very good imagination.
"He was on top, then I was on top, then we did it with him behind.

"At one point Robbie carried me in his arms like I was a feather and made love to me while my legs were round his waist and he stood up."

We actually make that four positions. Perhaps the other six were just imagined.
He made me moan with desire. Robbie clearly loved sex and I loved every minute of having sex with Robbie."

We always love the bit in News of the World sex stories where it starts to read like a restaurant review in a local freesheet - we always expect to see them end with "overall, the portions were great but the service left a little to be desired".
Coppin then starts to work through a list of Williams' demons:
"He says he fled Britain as he is convinced his own people hate him...

Williams, we're not "your people", we're fellow citizens. And while some of us might have a degree of contempt for your actions and find your grandstanding tiresome, I can report sadly we're stuck in a minority.
... and told me he has not had a girlfriend in years because he can't trust anyone."

You think? You mean that Williams is afraid that anyone he shags might go and flog the story to the News of the World? I wonder where he gets that idea from?

Veruca Salt weekend: All Hail Me

Not, perhaps, the sort of video which makes investment in one of those giant wall-covering web browsers worthwhile, but the tune is - from earlier this year, Veruca Salt in British Columbia, doing All Hail Me:

[Part of Veruca Salt weekend]

The shocking state of the NHS today

Can you believe they tried to make Victoria Beckham drink coffee made with tap water? It's a bloody scandal.

"I'm sorry I can't be with you, but I'm banged up"

TI added a little drama to the BET Hip-Hop Awards, managing to get himself arrested just before the ceremony and thereby turning yet another occasion which was supposed to be a celebration of hip-hop culture into one which had the taint of criminal behaviour all over it.

It didn't help that TI won two awards.

On a brighter note, Kanye West won a prize, which he accepted with modesty:

"I didn't deserve this award above them. They do instead of me," said West, who is typically known more for comments that critics call arrogant.

But Big Boi of OutKast returned the favor to West by giving him the award back saying, "You worked too hard for this. No, you deserve it."

Kanye's charming modesty might be a little more convincing if he didn't stop around like a bear with a bee in his foreskin every time he doesn't win.

Cerys: It's over

Further to our comments last week about the difference between the gentle touch of the regional press and ther harder-nosed nationals, having elected to avoid discussing the status of her marriage with the Western Mail, Cerys Matthews blurted the truth to The Independent on Sunday:

So when is Seth going to arrive? The gulls circle overhead. Cerys slumps in her chair and stares at her glass of white wine from behind huge pink wraparound sunglasses. "Well," she says quietly. "I am now divorced."

That's news to me, and I have read everything anyone has written about her recently. This split is not public knowledge, is it? "No, not really. I've not done an interview about it. What am I meant to say?"

The sun seems to have gone in. Judging by her mood we had better brace ourselves for hail stones. I am still going to ask, though, if that's why she's back. Which came first: the split or the decision to return? "Erm," she says slowly, "they both became apparent at the same time."

Even though he's from London, Cole Moreton knows when probing has gone far enough, and moves on himself.

This week just gone

A week on No Rock & Roll Fun:

The ten most-read individual pages:

1. Lily Allen undressed
2. R Kelly on video, having sex, in court
3. RIP Dainton Connell
4. Sony BMG claims ripping your own CDs to your own PC is theft
5. Heather Mills removes clothes
6. McFly get naked in front of GAY crowd
7. Ronnie Hazlehurst never wrote for S Club 7
8. Beth Ditto stripped for NME
9. Edith Bowman naked for charity
10. Britney meltsdown at Video awards

You can read the whole week on one page
or skim the previous week in one post.

Also this week:
Harvey Goldsmith had little sympathy for Led Zep fans caught when ticket rules changed; Chantelle shared her heartbreak over her split from Preston as often as she could bear; Universal came up with yet another digital strategy while Radiohead moved the goalposts again; Britney Spears backed down from a chart battle with Celine Dion and John Lydon explained how The Sex Pistols stood against Thatcher - despite splitting before she came to power.

Five years ago:
Ian Brown ruled out a Stone Roses reunion; Ben Elton threatened a second Queen musical; Slipknot wasn't a happy place to be; Ride briefly reunited; Public Enemy pulled their European tour because of terrorism - not that they were scared, of course, but they were worried for their fans; and Ryan Adams threw out a fan when he tired of the 'Bryan Adams' joke.

The Fire Engines - everything, in one package

... and a three-box near-complete Stump package

David Shrigley's album-without-music finally gets some music and becomes, erm, an album

Robert Wyatt's ComicOpera arrives with Wyatt suddenly enjoying a critical resurgence

After all the leaky fuss, at last the Beirut album for real

Band Of Horses' Cease To Begin seems to be getting an unfair 'not quite as good as...' review consensus

Of course, you don't need to buy Sugababes' Change - just cherrypick the non-dreary singles

Pet Shop Boys: Disco 4, Brighton And Hove Albion 0

There's much more to Diana Dors than a cameo in an Alan Ant video

More lush BBC archive - Dusty Springfield springs from the vaults

Every episode of Quantum Leap, including the splendid Kiss-esque band one