Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cerys: Looking for my Tarzan

Further to the comments section on the story about I'm Celebrity, Cerys is, definitely, on the programme. She's told the Western Mail why:

“I’m kind of trying to think I’ll be like Jane in the jungle. But I’m looking for Tarzan. My Tarzan.

“I want to have a crazy, confused fun few days or weeks. I’m energetic. I change my mind a lot, I’m definitely indecisive. I love life, I’m happy-go-lucky and curious.

“When you’re old and weary and lying there in bed I don’t think you regret doing things, I think you would regret not doing things."

When you're looking for a Tarzan, with your choices being J from Five, Malcolm McClaren and some sort of chef you might think you're looking in the wrong jungle altogether.

Prince takes war with fans to fans

The nasty business of picking on your own fans has just been raised to a whole new level. Prince, like Oasis and countless others before him, has been leaning on fans who've built websites. Now, though, he's launched a website to host an mp3 which goes a step futher, slagging off those fans - often by name, as Rolling Stone reports:

Prince registered the Web domain name “” and posted a seven-minute funk jam called “PFUnk,” alerting fans to its presence on fan site message boards. The song makes no secret of its target: “The only reason you say my name is to get your fifteen seconds of fame, nobody’s even sure what you do,” Prince sings. “I don’t care what people may say, I ain’t gonna let it ruin my day.” Toward the end, Prince tells his fans, in his famed helium-like “Camille” voice, “I love all y’all, don’t you ever mess with me no more,” before taking out all his anger on his guitar. Prince goes as far as calling one person, likely a member of the PFU, “a big fat punk,” and threatens someone called “Weemolicious” by singing “Look here Weemolicious, you and your boyfriend, lemme tell you somethin’ right now, you run up on me again with words or otherwise, I’mma knock both you punks out.” He also sings that he wants digital music to “disappear.”

It must be quite difficult for Weemolicious, clearly something of an enthusiastic completist, having to decide if he wants to include a track which threatening to take them out.

We're still unable to decide if Prince believes Weemilicious to be a woman, or if he's just using 'being gay' as an insult. It's a calibration of how much of a knob he's being, in other words.

The real sting, though, for Prince is that the reaction of the few fans he hasn't yet alienated by deciding they're his enemies, is that they're pretty much agreeing that it's a shame he can't make music as good as this when he's recording for them, instead of against them.

Courtney Love shares her views

Courtney Love has posted a new MySpace blog entry. It's as long as one of Stephen Fry's, although lacking something of his focus. And eloquence. And grasp of grammar and punctuation.

Still, we discover the "new album" she's working on is the tightest, and apparently Dylan influenced:

got the dylan songbook wich i shouldve got two mnillion years ago theres 784 songs in there looking atthe polpular songs ( ima dylanogilist) ) and went DUH
tahts how he does it
i have my little secret dylan obscure song and ive never covered him tho iwas green w envy when PJ pulled off Hiughway 61

Then - presumably remembering she's on the internet, she decides to tell us what she's wearing:
im ina robe right now Auntioe Stevie gave me its so what youd expect its mad eof a piano shawl and long whiote silk fringe, i like collecting certain little treasueres from the rock fgoddesses rthatare my elders, i got a loose 2000 year old mens white t shirt from Patti , a pair of boots from Marianne, that i had doubled for Larry Flynt and somehow i endxed uo witha pair of tan Leather Pants of Pallenbergs and mroe new 80s kieth richards paise3ly shirt from the 80s, ( wich it wa sthe 60s) maybe they ar etotems, in any case we have the mist amazing arrangement for my secret dylan song and ive never done it coew ive bnever had the band with the right chops genius or taste and by staying small just the 4 of us and chris( of chrios clasic wich we revistited last night but i dont think chris wants his song fucked with much so itllw ait til i can get to its original form it really is a tight dong the way i had it i mad eit poppier)

We got lost round about trying to work out how she doubled boots for Larry Flint, to be honest. It's slightly creepy to discover that Love goes around taking clothes from other female rock stars - it's a bit like a cross between What Not To Wear and Sylar from Heroes.

Then, Courtney moves on to business:
and i had business to do ytoday too as my best friend just mysteriously betrayed me in th emost treachourous agonising way iveever had it in the back= i agree with nothing exceptt hat we get along great aznd that creatively we might me goods together- but if i cannot trust someone - if theyve abused the thing im most angushed scared and helpless feeling about how oir why shoudl or could i do something further with them? i hope it gets fixed cos love is forver and thats why it hurts so much that this was domne to me= the probelm is this person thinks everyones GREAT and i live in fucking LOS ANGELES and i liocve is a SHGARK POOL and have scammers and rip off artists and fucking eviul a dsfuck motherfuckers ina nd ouyt of my life regularly and my protections are supposed to be rottwiler tight and if they are not then they need to change- i trust and maybe the lesson ios - too much and depend a little too much- but im an artiost so unless i go get economic tiutorials from a genius why cant i find honesty when it comes to business in some areas?

DEAMND paper on everything
legibel all sneaky bits up front
force people to signa contract of your making
so im agonised and hurt , beyond what i can express and i express it publically because imn SICK of it so sick that im not trusting anyone withjout paper paper apApr graphs and accountibility - and if you ever see a real estate or other cobntract getr some one with an mba to give you a WRITTEN cliff notes of the sneaky bits and fuckings your getting an dthen you can negiotiate-=

Perhaps, Courtney, it's because you ask for the "cliff notes" on contracts - rather than reading them - that you get fucked over? Although we love the idea of someone asking for an explanation in writing of the contract they've just been given in writing - presumably seeking a contract about the content of the contract?

Courtney wants to be more like Madonna in business, it seems:
but im icy ssad- madonna is a great business woma but come on she s weak as an artista nd we akl lknow it- i like madge - but as a relevant musician - its a joke shes singing from such a calculating thought out place all the time its never from her gut or heart or intuition so maybe it sounds great an dis slick and you can hum it -discxo n dance it but ambitionand sass and shrewd does not equal great art- hard work and major dsicipline doesnt equal great art and all of those are great things- i covet thenm i haVE great disciplne and i do work like a bionic thing.

Courtney Love accusing Madonna of being a "calculating artist". Was this the woman who once directed a video by yelling "tits, tits, tits!" at the camera crew?

And, yes, Courtney - sweet, dressing as Donald Duck, running naked down the street during a Q interview, throwing bottle-and-punches Courtney Love - did just claim she has "great discipline."

There's then a bunch of pieces about knives in her back and how she'll prevail, before we get to this:
so onto LESBIANS viva! contracts that i write zAnd create and if not obeyed there are built in penalties.if ethics are breached then i automcatrucally get to take money from your account tp the amount you took from me and its all legal.

thats the last time that happens to me, its actually greta i dont have anyone telling me to keep thieves and douchebags on my employ long after my gut says that guys a n incompetent fuck and imn never wrong

She appears to be saying that lesbians have stolen her Vauxhall Viva, and that she gets a big cash bonus as a prize. Possibly.

We hope she didn't write the contracts (zAnd create them!!!111!) during the same session she was on the MySpaces.
i have a huge pile of crytslas in this jar teh big piece of obsidian wich is supposed to reveal the evil you do not suspect in your life and it has done its job yes i am a crystal magic person.

what magazine even? i read a black book. me an dthat editor got soem shit to straighten out- i was perfectly nice to hiom an dhe hasnt been rude to m,e ...yet but i think someone told hima truly ridiculous outlandish lie and i just wanttostraighten iot outit samusing and i lik ethe city guides and read nylon - yep theres rilo dammed kiley- and a new bag designer jsut what the world needs!
of that trendy magazine collective isnt dfazed and confised and V Still the best ones?

... and Courtney will be back with a look at the other newspapers just after midnight.

Battle of the rock theme parks

Rock music had got by for half a century without any support from the theme park industry. Not anymore, though, for even as the ground is being broken on the Hard Rock Theme Park, a rival attraction is being planned for Eloy, Arizona.

This is Decades, where the rock-fun will be grouped into themed areas based around, well, decades:

Named "Decades," the park would feature themed rides and attractions nestled in decade "lands" — the '60s would reflect the British Invasion and Motown influence whereas the '80s would emphasis the music-video age.

Aha, so managing to turn the place's one possible saving grace as a fun destination for all the family - a place where generations can come together and share their music - into a place where the different tiers of family will want to go to "their" part of the park, leading to rows, misery and sulking.

All Tomorrow's comebacks: Polvo

Explosions In The Sky have, in their role as curators of next year's All Tomorrow Parties, have persuaded Polvo to get back together. Like the Spice Girls, they've not played live for about a decade; unlike the Spices, the Polvo reunification will take place in Minehead.

There's a vaguely worded hint the band might add a London date as a warm-up; oddly, the 3AM Girls haven't got space to suggest if this will be followed by a full tour.

Leading questions from 3AM

They had to ask, didn't they?

What's even better than Boyzone reforming for next Friday's Children In Need event?

Hmm... rubbing chilies into your eyes? Dysentery? a feature length episode of Birds Of A Feather? Almost anything at bloody all?

The 3AMies have a different answer:
The fact they're sticking together for a tour next year!

This is a rare example of asking a rhetorical question and then getting the answer wrong.

A Boyzone "insider" has revealed the surprising news that their "one-off reunion" was nothing of the sort:
"Originally, they were just going to reform as a one-off, but the public demand has been massive. The boys just can't believe it."

No, nor can we. Nor can we.

Mika: free to travel to Belguim

The ongoing dispute between an act who has been called Mika for twenty-five years and the pop act Mika has had a day in court: The original Mika has failed to get "Grace Kelly" Mika banned from going to Belguim.

Victoria Newton sees this as some sort of moral victory:

Reggae Mika remains adamant that the other Mika should change his name.

She said: “I am not suing him for any money, but for the principle and my name.

“I had it registered in 1983. He is ruining my career.”

I think she’s taking the Mik.

While our Mika — real name Mica Penniman — is a worldwide star, she’s not even a household name in her own country.

Interesting approach to intellectual property from Newton, there: apparently it doesn't matter if you've registered a trademark, what's important is how effective the person infringing your copyright has been. Presumably she'd have been on the side of Goliath, too, on grounds that he was so much taller.

Mills "goes it alone", supposedly

In a bid to continue the pressure on Heather Mills, The Sun is claiming she's going to represent herself in the divorce.

Well, almost claiming:

HEATHER Mills was last night planning to represent HERSELF in the divorce court after her lawyers dumped her.

Lady Mucca, 39, wants to portray her bid for a £50million payoff from Sir Paul McCartney as a “David and Goliath” battle, it was claimed.

A source said: “Heather reckons she can go for the sympathy vote by painting herself as an impoverished young woman fighting a rich old man.”

Even by the standards of a story that runs on twenty year-old porn photos and made-up friends, this is pretty weak. The paper can't even be arsed to suggest there's any substance to it by giving background for the source, lending further weight to the suspicion that it's a "source close to the person writing the story" than someone who's anywhere near the Mills camp.

Does Michael Grade know Cerys Matthews' dark secret?

The final line-up for I'm A Celebrity has been more-or-less confirmed, and, yes, Cerys Matthews is onboard.

Cerys Matthews FHM coverThat makes two bad ITV shows in a year she's done, following her participation in the Challenge Anneka 'charity-ish' album project. Now, the thing about Cerys has always been that she's done surprising things, and often pulled them off - the opinion dividing FHM cover for example, to say nothing of the duets with Tom Jones and Aled Jones. And it would be churlish to only applaud someone's 'sod it, let's try it anyway' approach to life when it results in catsuit photoshoots and surprisingly attractive cover versions.

What does irk, though, is that she's pulled a tour to go off to the "jungle" (where 'jungle' is a TV set in surburban Australia).

Also going in is Malcolm McLaren, the man who invented Johnny Rotten and J from Five. J, clearly, is hoping that he'll be able to pull of the trick of H from Steps and actually get people to realise that he's got a name rather than just a letter; McClaren, we fully expect to be honking on about how the whole thing is beneath him in a matter of hours.

The rest: Anna Ryder-Richardson (who was Wonder Woman to Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen's Superman on Changing Rooms); Rodney Marsh (footballer pundit who enjoys a chuckle at a natural disasters and not a stretch of Kent); John Burton Race (apparently in catering); Gemma Atkinson (who we only know of from men's magazines so we assume she either once kissed Callum Best or was in Hollyoaks, or both) and - somewhat winningly - Janice Dickinson and Lynne Franks, which is like Patsy and Edina but in real life.

Fielder-Civil charged

Following the raids on Amy Winehouse's London home earlier in the week, Blake Fielder-Civil has been charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He's been remanded in custody; he's due to appear on 23rd November.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Radiohead play coy on size of pot of gold at end of In Rainbows

Comscore's finger-in-the-air claims that about a third of people paid for In Rainbows seem to have become solidified as fact now, with the only debate whether getting more than one in three punters to pay cash for something they could get for free is a good result, or having nearly two-thirds of customers take your goods without so much as a spit in the spittoon is a terrible loss.

The figure is almost now gospel, despite Radiohead's attempts to deny it:

As the album could only be downloaded from the band’s website, it is impossible for outside organisations to have accurate figures on sales. The figures quoted by the company comScore Inc are wholly inaccurate and in no way reflect definitive market intelligence or, indeed, the true success of the project.

Which is in itself definitive, but surprisingly lacking on substance. Of course, Radiohead could blow Comscore out the water by releasing figures themselves, but they choose not to.

Which, of course, they're perfectly at liberty to do - although it hardly fits with the band's attempts to distance themselves from the pie charts and sliderules of the music industry.

Indeed, while Radiohead has been scrapping with Comscore, one of the big, old-style companies has turned up to hold the coats:
Warner Bros Records senior technology director Ethan Kaplan quickly savaged comScore’s methodology, which included only a “few hundred” in the study.

Oddly, Kaplan has never complained that the Grammys crown "best" artists and records based on a tiny sample, but never mind.

Comscore haven't taken this slight lying down. They've powered up their blog engine to launch a defence of their counting and stuff, and the idea of sampling in general. Who knew that Radiohead's album experiment would lead to statisticians rowing?

Linda Stein murder: Police arrest PA

Police investigating the murder of Linda Stein have arrested her her personal assistant Natavia Lowery, reports say. Lowery is alleged to have made statements "implicating herself"; no formal charges have yet been laid.

Malcolm Middleton wortha punt?

A PR mailout has reached us with the heartening news that, not only has miserablist Malcolm Middleton decided to do a Christmas song, but he's even gone out and put a bet on himself getting to number one:

Putting him in direct competition with this years X Factor winner and the Spice Girls, William Hill have given Malcolm odds of 1000/1 in what the bookmakers say is 'the longest ever odds we’ve given on a Christmas number 1!' The title of the single is We’re All Going To Die.

Which is all somewhat amusing, but also a little puzzling: Williams Hill had previously announced they were closing the book on the Christmas number one. Surely it's slightly fraudulent to take Malcolm's money when they'd refuse wagers on, say, The Spice Girls? Or is the bookies just losing track of its publicity puffs?

Winehouse: Perverting, not mind-altering, charges

A little more detail has emerged about the raid on Amy Winehouse's house - the police were investigating charges of perverting the course of justice relating to Blake Fielder-Civil's GBH court case:

A police spokesman confirmed there was "police activity" at the property on Thursday evening and said it was part of an "ongoing police operation".

He said four men had been arrested in east London earlier on Thursday and were being questioned in connection with an allegation of perversion of the course of justice.

The four men, two 25-year-olds, a 22-year-old and a 19-year-old, were all arrested in west London and were being held in an east London police station.

The spokesman confirmed the arrests related to next week's trial involving Mr Fielder-Civil, 25, and a second man, 39, who both face charges of causing grievous bodily harm.

So, that's alright then. Mostly.

John Lydon in character

Today's Daily Telegraph carries an interview with John Lydon, for which he appears to have turned up in character:

Today, he is swathed head to toe in a riot of red tartan - part shell suit, part updated bondage chic. His hair is short, orange and spikey, just like the old days. The teeth aren't looking too off-colour, although there are one or two missing.

The paper gives him an easy ride, even although the very idea of the Telegraph treating Lydon to a puff piece actually negates the whole 'he's still edgy, you know' point of the article; it's on a par with getting an OBE for services to Republicanism.

We're prepared for a nihilistic punk:
Lydon [...] fixes me with a glare which has lost none of its withering force down the years. "How do you prepare for telling the truth?" he asks, ominously.

So what's the righteous target for the 07 model of Johnny Rotten?
The first thing I saw this morning on TV," he cackles, "was a whole lot of your pop bands. McFly, hahaha. Is all that really still going on? It's all dippy and Blue Peter - done with sticky-backed plastic. And you've all rolled over for it. We didn't back then. What's wrong with you lot?"

Apparently, John, there's still a massive market for boys put into bands by controlling svenagllis bouncing through some hit songs with an air of pantomime rebellion. How many nights did you sell out again?

But that's not all he's got. New indie acts get a toothless sucking:
The Pete Doherty brigade get equally short shrift: "They're all got up like Sid Vicious, and poor Sid hadn't got a clue how to dress!"

Yes, Sid Vicious' trademark porkpie hat, nice shirt, cheap suit look. If Lydon cared, he'd have noticed that the Babyshambles look is more mod and ska than punk, but it's not like he's doing anything other than crashing through outrage-by-numbers.
He soon digresses into a lengthy tirade against the Blair/Brown axis, and the new stadium of his beloved Arsenal ("Now I have to sit with accountants and nice boys from Tring!").

Really? And whose shoulders would you expect an estate agent from California to be rubbing with, John?

The attention-grabbing refusal to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is trumpeted as a victory:
We wrote them a note, a saucy little reminder: don't vote us into your museum, we're very much alive. They're trying to bury us, and make us into a safe commodity. Not possible. Won't work."

An estate agent telling the paper of choice for Home Counties retirees on the eve of his nostalgia tour that he can't be turned into a safe commodity. Fair enough.

Most interestingly of all, though, there's an attempt to force his appearance on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, into some sort of anarchist's cv:
Then, three years ago, in a characteristic effort to wrong-foot his detractors, he appeared on the TV reality show, I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, which he walked out of after 11 days.

"I did it because it was everything wrong. I could have ruined myself. Instead I just was myself, and I won. Anything to win? No! So I left."

It took eleven days of sitting round in the Australian jungle watching soft-porn stars and failed singers eating kangaroo testicles to work out that the programme was a bit of a circus sideshow? Wouldn't just reading the title have given a hint of that?

More to the point, Lydon's suggestion that he walked out on a principle because the show was "wrong" is something of a contradiction to his explanation at the time, which insisted it was because - having narrowly escaped being blown up over Lockerbie, he had the hump when ITV refused to tell him if his wife had shown up.

This isn't, we imagine, the last time Lydon will contradict himself in order to make himself seem more like the mythical anti-establishment figure the tabloids mistook him for in 1977. Let's hope it's the last time intelligent writers collude with him, though.

Electrelane farewell: Blue Straggler

More from the now-hibernating Electrelane; this is them live in New York:

[Part of Electrelane farewell]

Alex and Alexa: It'll all end in tears

The slightly unlikely pairing of Alex Turner and Alexa Chung have been goofing around in Foyles. 3AM is on the case:

The Mardy Bum singer was seen acting out scenes from Romeo And Juliet with the TV presenter in a bookshop. A fellow shopper at Foyles in London said: "They were lying on the floor having such a laugh, acting out scenes, passing the book back and forward. It was so sweet."

Ah, yes. Very sweet. Unless they were doing the ending, of course.

A difference of tabloid opinion

We do love it when the ill-concealed dislike between sister papers the Sun and the NOTW pops into the open, like today. A month or so back, the News was telling how Kylie doesn't want to be seen with Jason Donovan:

Kylie also ordered interviews with her old Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan, 39, to be cut from the White Diamond documentary — because she can't stand him.

This morning, though, Newton knocks that one down:
IT’S the picture that pop and Neighbours fans have been waiting for years to see – KYLIE MINOGUE and JASON DONOVAN back in each other’s arms...aah.

The snap – which takes me right back to the Oz soap’s Scott and Charlene glory days – was taken for The Kylie Show, to be shown on ITV1 tomorrow, celebrating her 20 years in music.

Surprisingly, she doesn't end the piece 'this one's especially for you, Rav'.

Mills loses her briefs

According to The Sun, who don't make any great strides to not look like they're enjoying it, Mishcon de Reya are no longer representing Heather Mills in her divorce (or, presumably, the legal disputes with the News of the World). Apparently, the lawyers are unhappy she ignored their advice to go not give interviews about the divorce, and even more unhappy that she broke the court injunction on talking about Beatrice.

Meanwhile, the paper splendidly reports on Heather's latest GM-TV performance without mentioning that they're the target of much of her ranting. Indeed, rather than even finding space to at least hint their journalism is the target of much of Mills' ire, they instead have a bit of a pop at GM-TV's standards instead:

FOR a moment during last week’s GMTV Mucca meltdown Fiona Phillips seemed to be doing well.

As Heather launched into her rant, a flicker of panic appeared in Phillips’ eyes — before she realised this was top TV.

So she kept quiet and let Mucca descend deeper into her furious tirade.

But by allowing Mucca back on the GMTV sofa yesterday and refusing to question her, Phillips has given in to the ramblings of an unhinged woman.

As a journalist she had a duty to her viewers — and she let them down.

All of a sudden The Sun starts to care about the quality of journalism and thinking that it's wrong to simply hand a platform to people to deliver their publicity-seeking messages. Bad news for Victoria Newton, then.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Amy Winehouse: a bit of a mixed day

Some good news for Amy Winehouse: she's been granted a visa for entry into the US. So that'll help her building her career in the US.

Although, maybe not. As this evening, the Daily Mail is reporting that police have raided her and Blake's Camden home:

Police were refusing to comment on the 5pm raid, only saying: "It is part of an ongoing operation."

Three armed officers and ten plainclothes officers broke into the house, which was empty at the time.

Miss Winehouse had earlier fled to her father's home in Kent while her husband left the house an hour earlier.

Troubled couple: Amy with husband Blake who is due in court on Monday on assault charges

The officers left carrying several boxes.

Four men, two aged 25, one aged 22 and a 19-year-old, were later arrested in east London in connection with the raid.

Not sure she could have actually "fled" hours before the raid was coming - unless she'd been tipped off that the cops were coming. And if you had a half-day's notice, wouldn't you do something more useful with your time than running away to a place where even the Daily Mail knows where you are?

Electrelane farewell: Birds

As Electrelane announce their suspension of activities, here's Birds, from the 2007 Montreux Festival:

[Part of Electrelane on hiatus]

Blood flows no more

Another band decides it can't face 2008 together, as the Blood Brothers split:

After 10 years of making music as The Blood Brothers, we have made the collective decision that our time together has come to an end. We feel extremely fortunate to have spent such a deeply memorable and amazing part of our lives with each other. At this point, however, we feel it's best that our futures move forward on separate paths. We'd like to express our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all the bands we've played with, individuals who have helped us make our records, and fans who have come to our shows and picked up our music throughout the years. Your friendship, support and love hold such a profoundly special place in each of our hearts. We hope that the memories you attach to our music are as fond as those you have given us. Thank you and take care, we'll miss all of you.

The hardcore-punk-experimento band's individual members have a smorgasbord of hinterland projects on which to soothe the pain of not working together, including Jaguar Love, which features Brothers Johnny Whitney and Cody Votolato alongside Pretty Girls Make Graves' Jay Clark.

Costello feels he gets no respect

In a thinly-veiled suggestion that he doesn't feel he's treated well enough in the UK, Elvis Costello has said he wouldn't be bothered if he never played Britain again:

"I don't care if I ever play in England again. That [Glastonbury 2005] gig made up my mind that I wouldn't come back. I don't get along with it. We lost touch. It's 25 years since I lived there. I don't dig it, they don't dig me."

But not playing a country because you stank up the festival is a little short-sighted, isn't it? After all, the audience at an expensive festival is hardly going to be your core audience, is it; to go into a big grump and wipe an entire nation - especially one which has been enthusiastically supportive of you for so long - is a little bit crabby.

Costello then suggests that the real reason is the young folk don't treat him like a god:
"British music fans don't have the same attitude to age as they do in America, where young people come to check out, say, Willie Nelson. They feel some connection with him and find a role for that music in their lives."

Really? I somehow doubt there's very much crossover between Hannah Montana's audience and Willie Nelson's; and it's somewhat flip and dismissive to suggest that Britain's young people have a gerontophobic attitude to anyone older than them - Oasis still pull a crowd; the Sex Pistols have sold out as much to misguided young persons as to old punks; Prince and Macca generate excitement whenever they take to a stage.

Maybe Costello's really annoyed that he never got the call for Grumpy Old Men.

Power out: Electrelane on hiatus

Electrelane, one of the greatest Brighton bands of all-time, have effectively split up, they said in an announcement:

"We have decided that the upcoming gigs will be our last for the foreseeable future. After ten years of much fun and hard work, we have realised that we all need a break and time to do other things. This was a tough decision for us to make, but ultimately a positive one.

"A big thank you to everyone who has come to our shows, put on our shows, and bought our records over the years. It means a lot to us. We're really grateful to have had the opportunity to play gigs all over the world and to meet so many lovely people. This last year has been especially enjoyable and we feel happy about moving on with all these good memories to look back on. At the moment we haven't made any band plans for the future but we're going to have a break and see what happens.

"Love, Electrelane"

They're spending November on a wind-down tour, before entering into Walt Disneyesque suspended animation on ice after a Brighton gig on December 1st.

As they go west, we say goodbye with the video for To The East:

Over the next day or so, there'll be more YouTubey Electrelane goodness as an act of mourning; we'll list them here as they appear
Birds live in Montreux
Blue Straggler live in New York

Rising isn't easy for Britney

We don't know what's more surprising: that Britney's lawyers thought that telling the judge he couldn't understand her difficulty in having early-morning drugs tests because he's not a popstar, or that they got away with it:

Federline's lawyers asked for Thursday's hearing to complain that Spears is not complying with the drug testing order and is not responding to calls from the testing facility within the time frame ordered by [Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Scott M.] Gordon.

Gordon said he does not believe Spears should be treated different from other people who get calls from labs in the morning.

"I have to get here at 7:30 a.m. to read papers," Gordon said in reference to documents filed in connection with today's hearing.

Kiley said Gordon's situation is different.

"But you're not a pop star with a number one album," Kiley said.

Rather than saying "no, and nor am I a mother supposedly desperate to do everything she can to remain in contact with her kids", the judge allowed for a slightly more flexible system. He didn't grant the Spears's side demand for six hour warning of drugs tests - presumably to give her time to find her underwear before turning up for the blood sample.

Radiohead plot some kind of surprise

Tonight, at 10pm GMT, there's going to be a quicktime stream of something broadcasting at That's according to Dead Air Space.

Bloody, confused, returning

The NME reports the most solid news of a My Bloody Valentine reunion so far, quoting Kevin Shields:

"We were making a record in the '90s around when the band broke up in 1995...and I continued with Belinda [Butcher- guitarist/vocalist]. We kinda made most of an album... It's going to be this 96/97 record half-finished, and then a compilation of stuff we did before that in 1993-94, and a little bit of new stuff."

He added: "I pretty much know what the one that's going to come out this year is going to sound like because its already pretty much three-quarters done already... it sounds like what we sounded like - different, but not radically different. People will go, "yeah, it sounds like My Bloody Valentine."

Even the NME accepts this isn't entirely definitive, headlining its piece:
My Bloody Valentine reunion confirmed?

... with the get-out-of-jail-free-ish question mark.

Dragged off: Drag City quits eMusic

eMusic's pricing policy has cost it more catalogue: Rian Murphy, sales manager at Drag City, has pulled his label's material off the site, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims $7 an album is too lean a price for even an indie to stomach:

The service provides plans that can whittle the price of a song down to 27 cents — appetizing to consumers but nauseating for artists.

For artists, of course, read 'labels'.
"Keep your eye on the bottom line, and if it doesn't make sense, don't do it," Murphy said. "Things become known eventually. You don't really have to force them down people's throats."

Murphy says it's up to independent labels to resist slashing their own prices just to fit someone else's corporate business model. Drag City albums sell for $9.99 on iTunes and $8.99 on Amazon, though Murphy says Amazon is swallowing the difference.

"There are too many people out there who don't value their own exposure, who want (their music) to get to the maximum number of people and they don't care what they have to do," Murphy said. "This is the reason, as far as I'm concerned, that the industry is in trouble."

We suspect that the P-I's $7 figure might be an assumption on the paper's part rather than Murphy's figure - after all, if you can do a physical album for £4.50 at a profit on Amazon, it's hard to believe that a digital version at £3.50 would be a loss-leader, whereas about £1.50 an album could be seen to be pushing it.

Murphy, though, is only half right - you do need to value yourself fairly, but equally, you need to get your music out to be heard for it to have any value at all. Leaving eMusic is a gamble that's only going to pay off if his market moves over to iTunes - it's more likely that they're going to shift to another label's stuff on the same site.

BPI hails encrypted peer-to-peer traffic

More and more BitTorrent traffic is being encrypted, according to a 'major UK ISP' quoted by The Register.

Matt Phillips, the pretty one from the BPI, seems to treat this as good news:

"Our internet investigations team, internet service providers and the police are well aware of encryption technology: it's been around for a long time and is commonplace in other areas of internet crime. It should come as no surprise that if people think they can hide illegal activity they will attempt to."

Well, Matt, it's great that you're "aware" of the technology; and we're not surprised at your instant denigration of an entire technology as being "commonplace in other areas of internet crime".

Of course, it's also commonplace in areas of legal use - after all, peer-to-peer transport is a great way to transmit large files to multiple users without getting a massive bandwidth problem, but there are just some things you wouldn't want to send out in the raw, are there? Matt, though, leaps to the conclusion that something wrong must be up:
"When encryption is used to cloak torrent traffic it tends to be to hide something, and attracts greater attention for that reason.

Hmmm... 'encryption', 'cloaking'... yes, you're right, the use of cloaking encryption might be a clue that something is being hidden.

Your IT department excels itself.

And yes, the fact that something is encrypted might make it raise curiosity, but - since that something is encrypted, it doesn't really matter, does it? Again, though, the mere act of choosing to make something encrypted doesn't mean it's illegal - after all, Matt, when you buy your black tshirts online, your credit card is encrypted. Perhaps, yes, that might make draw attention to it. Or maybe you choose not to use an encrypted webform when shopping online - after all, encryption is pretty much pirate activity all of itself, isn't it?
If certain ISPs are experiencing disproportionately high volumes of encrypted torrent traffic we expect it is partly in response to a combination of effective ISP abuse teams the enforcement efforts of the police and industry."

So, your expensive and unpopular campaign of attack on filesharers hasn't actually done anything to stop people filesharing, but has lead to increased use of cloaking technology. You'd probably know better than me, Matt, but I don't think that was your original aim for the campaign, was it?

Presumably Peaches Geldof was busy?

Times are tough at the BBC, but not - apparently - so tough there's not money for Lily Allen to make a programme about social networking:

The audience will be made up entirely of Allen's online friends, while viewers will present parts of the show and put questions to celebrity guests.

Guests will include chart-topping bands and unsigned acts.

An entire audience of people who are Lily Allens "friends", eh?

I suppose the desperate bid to turn a TV programme out of new technology makes this the 21st Century's Buzzfax, although that Teletext-based entertprise had a slightly more charismatic presenter.
BBC Three controller Danny Cohen said: "I'm delighted... she's one of the hottest acts around and an important voice of her generation."

An 'important voice of her generation'? Really, Danny? Obviously, everyone is valuable in their own way, and everyone's voice is important, but is Cohen really suggesting that Allen is, in some way, a Che Guevara for the Heat Kid Generation they might want to ask the Secret Diary Controller to come back and suggest to Danny that it's time to step down.

Still making excuses: Babyshambles rally round

Talking to the NME, Drew McConnell knew who to blame for Pete Doherty's "relapse". Not Pete, it turns out:

"We heard they [The Sun] were going to run a picture the day before, but I assumed it was going to be dug up old footage," McConnell said.

"When you've just come out of rehab and trying to stay clean with all your might, then some cunt comes round your house with a bag of stuff and a cameraphone, it must be hard to stop yourself."

Well, yes: after an addiction, you do have to cope with temptation. But Pete had been giving interviews basking in his new-found clean status, and however cruel bringing him into contact with temptation quite so sharply was, as Bragg once said 'a virtue never tested is no virtue at all.'

More to the point, according to The Mirror, (with all the scepticism that implies) Pete has actually been enjoying an armful since he got home from court. Regardless of the presence of "cunts with cameraphones" or not.

Westlife, Newton gather for a fawn-in

There's a splendid, mighty-cringe of a photo in this morning's Sun where Victoria Newton and Westlife pose with pints of Guinness. It's like the worst blind date ever.

The image isn't helped by the awful caption:

Loife and soul ... Victoria has a pint with, left to right, Mark, Shane, Nicky and Kian

Loife and soul? I suppose Westlife should be grateful they got off with just the Guinness cliche and weren't asked to be photographed with a pig under their arms.

Faced with the prospect of Newton pawing at them, Westlife instead make it clear they've got a boyfrie... sorry, express their love for the boss:
Nicky, 29, told me: “Simon is bigger than BRAD PITT in America. Ever since he started American Idol he’s become a megastar.

“We met up with him in the States a couple of years ago but we couldn’t get near him because he was so busy signing autographs.

“We take the mickey out of him. In his office he has a mirror that says, ‘Yes, Simon, you look terrific’.

“He wasn’t famous when we first met him but he hasn’t changed. How you see him behave on The X Factor is how he has always been.”

Simon Cowell - just for the record - isn't bigger in the US than Brad Pitt, although he is marginally more famous than Craig Revel Horwood. At the moment.

Still, it's nice to hear that fame hasn't changed him - although since before he was famous he was a honking, classless bully maybe it would have been better if it had.

Shane, meanwhile, welcomes back Take That:
“Slowly but surely pop music is coming back into the charts again thanks to Take That.

“Since their massive comeback I think it’s had a knock-on effect, helping to make pop music popular again. I hope it’s going to inspire record company bosses to sign more pop acts.

“Seven or eight years ago you couldn’t move for pop acts, then guitar bands came in and pop became a dirty word.

“Now you’ve got the SPICE GIRLS back, BOYZONE are reforming and with LEONA LEWIS’ incredible single sales it feels like things could be changing.”

You mean Leona Lewis, who is managed by... oh, Simon Cowell. What a surprise.

It's not clear, though, why record labels would need to go out signing new pop acts when there's so many old ones clambering out their crypts; indeed, if we were Shane we'd be worried that all these decade-old acts cluttering things up pop is starting to look somewhat elderly?

Macca's new friend: It turns out she's evil

Blimey, it didn't take long for The Sun to fall out of love with Nancy Shevell, the woman who Paul McCartney has had breakfast, nudge-nudge, with.

From somewhere, a twenty-year-old allegation that her father may or may not have paid some money to the mob has been dredged up by the paper. There was a lawsuit in 1988, but since that was settled without anyone being convicted of doing anything wrong, the Sun falls back on this powerful piece of evidence:

[Mike Shevell] operates from his HQ in Elizabeth, New Jersey – setting for The Sopranos TV show.

Aha. From the same state as fictional mafia characters. That's pretty compelling evidence. In the same way, of course, The Sun has its offices in London - setting for The Master's psychopathic attempts to take over the world. Makes you think, eh?

Presumably at the moment someone is trying to work up something that combines Mafia with the Mucca-Macca model.

Hell freezes over; Eagles and WalMart benefit

Another one of the thousands of tiny cuts for the majors' current business model: in order to avoid the embarrassment of a high-profile, best-selling album not qualifying for the charts, Billboard have made an eleventh hour rule-change to album eligibility.

So, the old rules about records having to be "generally available" to count have been dumped and the WalMart-only Long Road Out Of Eden takes the US number one spot.

Of course, it was ridiculous to pretend that a record on sale in one of the seventy-eight squibbilion WalMarts wasn't "generally available" in the first place; but if records sold in one supermarket only can count, then it's hard to see how any other retailer's exclusive deal can be frozen out of the chart. And, of course, if you've cut a deal to have a store as sole distributor, why not get them to release the thing as well?

If Billboard apply these rules fairly and equitably, for example, those stores who do their own celebrity Christmas albums should see those being reflected in the charts.

Billboard might think its changed the rules for The Eagles; it's also shifted them for the RIAA companies.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's like the day the music died

First, it's Ray Quinn down the dumper; now, we discover, Rik Waller's quitting music because - surprisingly - it won't support him and Kelly Bliss, his wife-to-be:

“I’m tired of singing and I can’t rely on it for 100 per cent of my income,” Waller continued. “I’ve got two people to think about now and talent doesn’t always pay the bills.”

"Talent doesn't always pay the bills." Especially when the bills are large and the talent... well, not so.

Doherty: He's so very, very sorry.

That smack apology in full:

"Peter Doherty would like to apologise to the medical staff, fans and wellwishers who have helped and encouraged his progress in fighting his addiction to heroin.

"His ongoing rehabilitation was a source of such pride to him that Peter and those closest to him thought that he was close to winning his personal battle with the drug. However, Peter sadly relapsed last week and is now looking to check himself back into a rehab clinic so that he can try to continue the hitherto excellent attempts he had made to break free of heroin.

"He realises that he has not only let himself down but has let down those who trusted and encouraged his efforts and he is filled with remorse for what he describes today as 'a stupid, stupid action for which I feel only shame'."

Oddly, though, this feeling of remorse only came after The Sun published video of him doing drugs on Tuesday, and not anytime before that. Presumably he spent the weekend not full of remorse then?

As Mr. Geerts, my old headmaster used to say: You're only sorry you got caught.

We also note Doherty's only "looking to" return to rehab.

Quinn dumped

Ray Quinn is hastily being reformatted as a "West End Star" after the X-Factor bloke got the poke from Sony BMG. Still, it's nice that Chicago exists to provide a halfway house between fame and the awkward moment when the Job Centre asks you if you have any skills.

Newsflash: Doherty's sorry

BBC News is just flashing that Pete Doherty has "apologised for his relapse".

Mann in suit

Terra Firma's EMI has drafted in music industry polymath Billy Mann to try and bring some experience of actually making music onto the board.

While that's a smart move - Mann has a strong track record of songwriting, producing and even a spot of music journalism under his belt - some of the other new faces on the EMI board are a little surprising. John Birt is there, as we mentioned before, with a special brief to explore how EMI treats its artists (and, presumably, to put the fear of god in them) and so too is Mike Clasper, who until 2006 was in charge at BAA and, thus, ultimately to blame for the godawful state of the UK's main airports.

You'll have to decide how much of this one to believe for yourself

The Sun returns this morning to its pictures of Paul McCartney kissing a US Republican, telling us that it ruined Heather Mills' day:

HEATHER Mills was in a “blind rage” yesterday over The Sun’s photo of Sir Paul McCartney kissing a millionairess.

She rang Macca for a showdown, claiming their daughter Beatrice, four, recognised him on our front page with lawyer’s wife Nancy Shevell.

Really? Heather Mills, who last week was on TV on both sides of the Atlantic fuming at the way The Sun publishes misrepresentations and lies has the paper delivered, and shows it to her four year-old daughter. Someone's telling porkies; it just doesn't really matter who as all parties are erratically unreliable.

The Sun also makes room for this:
HEATHER took Beatrice to Disneyland Paris at the weekend — and saw a show about witches.

Dad-of-two Chris Owen, 28, of Derby — who snapped them with a minder — said: “They were watching the Pink Witches and laughing.

“Heather filmed with a video camera. They had a great time.”

They run a picture, although clearly they're aware this is all a little pointless, as the picture doesn't get the "Our LAWYERS ARE WATCHI1NGG!!!1!" treatment. Did they solely put this in the paper to get with word "witches" in the same sentence as Heather's name?

Mika scuppers Boyzone

Not quite getting the point of being a songwriter for hire, Mika has thrown a hissy and refused permission for Boyzone to release a track he wrote for the marketplace.

Apparently, Ronan and his besuited chums came across the track, I Gave It All Away, and thought it would be perfect for their comeback single. You know, for the comeback that's "only" a Children In Need appearance for now. They recorded it, prepping it for a "the one-off reunion was such a magical experience we thought it would be fun to do some more work" announcement. Then Mika heard it, decided it was too cheesy, and refused to allow it to be released.

Apparently, Mika doesn't realise that every song he writes sounds as cheesy as the market stall in an Amish farm and the reason why the song sounded like that wasn't the artist, but the writer.

Victoria Newton twists the knife:

It sounds like a classic Boyzone song

Of course, as she's closer to Keating than a pair of rubber knickers in a sauna, she probably doesn't realise quite how insulting that is.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cole rages at Doherty

Cheryl Cole is fuming at Pete Doherty's soft touch from the courts:

"Pete Doherty is not a poet. He writes shit. He is a waste of fresh air. Why is he such a genius? Because he went out with Kate Moss? And he gets let off from jail.

"Kids think 'Oh, he doesn't even get locked up.' More deserving people are on the waiting list for methadone every single day."

Yes, the courts do appear to treat Doherty with a gentle touch, which could be seen as sending out the wrong message to young people, giving them the sense they, too, could get away with anything. Like, you know, when famous people beat up toilet attendants and don't go to jail.

Dodgy snap; delay tour

The Dodgy reunion is off... at least until New Year. Andy Miller damaged his arm by, erm, falling out of bed, and now needs three weeks' rest to recover. The tour has been put on hold until 2008.

A new Role

Bonde Do Role are lining up a new ep, featuring a smorgasbord of remixes. Marina Gasolina is out around December 4th depending on where you are, with a tracklisting kind of like this:

01. Marina Gasolina (New Version)
02. Contaminada
03. Cagago
04. Miami Beach
05. Marina Gasolina (Fake Blood Remix)
06. Marina Gasolina (Peaches Remix)
07. Office Boy (CSS Remix)
08. Office Boy (Architecture In Helsinki Remix)
09. Solta O Frango (Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Remix)
10. Solta O Frango (Ladytron Remix)

As good an excuse as any to lob in the Office Boy video:

Metalobit: Witold "Vitek" Kietyka

Following serious head injuries received during a road accident in Russia, Witold "Vitek" Kietyka has died in hospital.

Drummer with the Polish band Decapitated, Kietyka also played for Dies Irae and Panzer X. The band's tourbus had been in a collision with a lumbertruck.

Reunion-itis: Scaffold

They've not worked together since, ooh, the mid 1970s, but John Gorman, Mike "McGear" McCartney and Roger McGough have got Scaffold back together, as one of the less-grim aspects of the Liverpool Capital of Culture year. They've done a cover of Three Lions for the Echo's number ones album. We'd love to think that David Badiel will return the favour by releasing a cover of Gorman's Bucket of Water Song... but... no, actually, we wouldn't.

Elvis: Attacked on all sides

Poor old Elvis. Not only has he been dead for thirty years - thereby missing out on Wendy's Triple Stack - but now his supremacy as the greatest pop record holder is being nibbled away.

Garth Brooks has just overtaken him as the biggest-selling solo artist of all time - and he's still alive, and still recording, giving him something of an advantage over Elvis.

To make matters worse, Jay-Z looks a shoo-in to tie Elvis' record of most number ones by a solo artist. (Z, by the way, is grumpily refusing to allow his album, American Gangster, go on iTunes because he doesn't want people to pick and choose which tracks to buy. Which, we'd suggest, is an admission by Z that there's some filler on the album that nobody would buy if it was left to go to market on its own merits.)

Oh, and the Reeses Peanut Butter and Banana Creme Elvis memorial edition was as horrible and inedible as anything late-period Presley managed. A tribute to a man who ate himself to death in chocolate and peanut butter? Fitting.

And - seemingly as a comment from the chorus - several copies of scripts from Elvis' movies were destroyed in the California fires last week. The most terrible thing being, of course, that they weren't destroyed before Elvis made them into films.

Carl Cox dj set goes badly wrong

Carl Cox's Caracas set on Sunday night came to a quick, bloody end when a gunman opened fire, killing four and injuring a further nine.

Cox has issued a statement:

"I am deeply shocked and still stunned by the events of this Saturday. My condolences go out to victims that were caught up in this horrific act. I am informed that it was gang-related, and feel so sad that anybody would act in such a manner when the event was full of 7000 people having fun."

Is it just us, or does the size of the audience being included make it sound less like a sympathy statement than a bit of a brag about Cox's popularity in Venezuela? After all, it's surely as terrible if a gunman opens fire in a room full of ten people as 10,000?

Ebony and ivory

This front cover might just show someone at Ebony magazine has a sense of humour; we believe Michael Jackson is their first white cover star in the publication's history.

Not that we should laugh, of course. As we all know, the lightening of Jackson's skin is due to a serious, if vaguely-diagnosed disease. The same condition might explain the other airbrushing, too.

Winehouse hopes "stupidity" plea might get her into US

Amy Winehouse has realised that her marijuana conviction in Norway might prove something of a stumbling block if she wants to get into the US to, you know, build an audience and stuff.

So, she's appealing. But, since she had fessed up and paid a fine, she might seem a little short of grounds to appeal.

So, erm, she's pretending that she didn't realise that paying the fine was an admission of guilt.

That raises the question of, if she didn't think she was giving the money and saying "it's a fair cop guv", what did she think the money was for? Did she think she was paying for board and lodging? Or did she assume it was a bribe?

Now she is going to appeal the fine, saying she was interrogated without legal representation or an interpreter and did not fully comprehend the Norwegian language charges she was signing, The Associated Press reports.

Hmm. Why, if you didn't know what the papers were, did you sign them, then? Of course, it's possible that there was a terrible miscarriage of justice, but the hanging question is: if Winehouse was surrounded by people speaking only Norwegian, how did she know the correct amount of cash to pay for the fine?

If the appeal is successful, she could face a full trial for possession of illegal drugs - which, if she loses (possibly on the grounds of having admitted guilt and paid a fine, for example) could see her spending up to six months in an Oslo prison. The good news for Winehouse is that, according to the EU, the Norwegian supreme court is taking a more lenient view of possession for personal use these days than it has historically. It's still a hell of a risk, though.

Carrie on blogging

Switching on the blog software for NPR: Carrie Brownstein, once of Sleater Kinney, now in charge of MonitorMix.

Kelis shake turns sour

Grim news from the shrinking world of major label pop: Jive is reported to have dropped Kelis after Kelis Was Here remained on the shop shelves. The dumping has been described as "amicable", which means it was good-natured enough for Jive to pretend it was an amicable decision achieved after negotiation.

Pete jacks back on smack, gets a Vicky attack

Oddly, Victoria Newton's cameraphone footage of Pete Doherty doing heroin "last Friday" got pushed down the Bizarre pecking order this morning; so far down, in fact, that we only just spotted it was there.

Handily, the paper provides a transcript:

The grim video — shot on a mobile phone and lasting 1min 14secs — shows Doherty crouched on the floor, holding a needle in his mouth.

He stares into the camera, “cooks up” the heroin on a spoon, and fills the syringe.

His head slumps forward as he injects it into his tattooed right arm.

Of course, The Sun has always got a bit uppity in the past when the BBC has shown people shooting up in news and drama, because it's seen as providing some sort of e-learning course. The Sun, though, has only good motives for publishing the film:
The Sun is well aware of the sickening nature of the images — and prints them only to show Doherty is not cured and is a terrible role model.

Yes. You need a one minute fourteen second video of Doherty on his knees with a head full of junk to discover that he's a terrible role model. Without that, he'd have been a shoo-in to be Chief Scout when Peter Duncan steps down.

It's not just the Pete's let the courts down, of course. It's not that he's let his friends down. More importantly, he's let Victoria Newton down:
I commended him for his lengthy stint in rehab and for his latest album, which is actually quite good.

Like others I genuinely believed, or rather hoped, that after six weeks off smack he could continue to stay on the straight and narrow.

But he had us all fooled. He is still a cliched old junkie.

You can hear her trying to undelete the obituary column she wrote, can't you?
And unless he gets serious help soon, I wonder if he will be around to provide us with another album — or whether we’ll be talking about another young talent lost.

We're not quite sure how Doherty can be a young talent but an old junkie. We're also not sure if a "young talent" would produce an "actually quite good" album, come to that.

Love Goes On sale: Tribute to McClennan

A quick mention that Love Goes On, the tribute to Grant Mclennan, has gone on sale. It includes covers by Luke Haines, The Orchids, Future Pilot AKA and - as the KTel ads would always have it - many, many more.

Tantamount to treason

Good lord, doesn't the Queen deserve a bit of a break? Don't get me wrong, I'm as Republican as can be, but even compared to what happened to the Romanovs the Royal Variety line-up this year seems a little harsh. Liz and Phil are going to have to sit through Enrique Inglesias, Bon Jovi and James Blunt. Who put that lot together? Al-Fayed?

Westlife fogged off

Heartbreaking news from the launch of the new Westlife album yesterday in London:

WESTLIFE star MARK FEEHILY disappointed fans at his band's album launch on Monday - after he missed a performance at lavish London department store Harrods. The singer was due to perform with his bandmates to mark the release of new LP Back Home, but had to pull out of the event when his plane from his native Ireland to the British mainland was delayed by fog.

How terrible: not only to be a Westlife fan in the first place, but then to be a disappointed Westlife fan on top of that.

There's news and then there's NEWS

MTV has some exciting news which popped up on its RSS feeds a shortwhile ago:

Alicia Keys recently shot a fitting video for her next single, "Like You'll Never See Me Again."

A fitting video, eh? What a refreshing change from all those artists who make completely inappropriate videos for their singles.

Meat Loaf's retirement by stealth

When Meat Loaf left the stage claiming he'd retired, his promoter Andrew Miller gamely insisted it was a 24-hour type-thing and angrily denied that Loaf had decided showbiz had gone stale.

He'd have been better off admitting that Meat is in trouble - "acute laryngitis" is now the official line - instead of subjecting his tour to a daily pitter-patter of cancellations. Another one has gone tonight.

Avid Merrion character grumbles

It's easy to forget that Craig David isn't just a comedy character created by Bo Selecta; he's also a comedy character in his own right. The Times goes to see him today:

“I eat chocolate, I am very excessive. I am crazy for clean sneakers. I try to keep everything clean.” Indeed, there’s not a thumbprint or a speck of dust. “I have a tendency to buy large quantities of chocolate so I can watch everyone else eating it. I was fat as a kid because I just kept eating. Then music replaced the eating. Now, if I eat a whole bowl of Eclairs I know I have to burn it off.”

This is part of a relaunch of David - unfortunately hanging on that bloody awful reworking of Bowie's Lets Dance which only reminds you of Samantha Mumba's Ashes To Ashes pastiche. David is trying to bury the image of the "Craig David" character on the comedy show.

Unfortunately, he can't keep from going on about it:
“During that period I was thinking, ‘I’m a caricature of myself. I’ve got my beard shaved in a certain way and putting on my beanie cap. Should I change because of it?’ ”

He didn’t want to look like he was bothered so he stayed the same, not really knowing where or how to go as he now felt he was no longer an artist but a caricature. “I thought, ‘We’ll ride it. But now you are putting me in a position where I don’t know where else to go.’ Inside it was absolutely pissing me off and hurtful beyond belief. There were times when I thought I just want to knock this guy out. And then I met him and did his show.” He had been advised that that would look cool. He knew that it wasn’t right.

“After the show I said, ‘You’re an idiot.’ No one really heard me because it was just me and him in the hallway. ‘All the laughs are on me so don’t stand there telling me I’m sorry and continuing to do your thing.’ He was all sheepish. I did the show to look PC. I didn’t want people to think, ‘Craig’s reacting to it,’ because then they would think, ‘How can we get up Craig’s nose even more?’ So I did it, but I wasn’t happy about it.”

We know that Craig seems to have confused "looking politically correct" with "showing I can laugh at myself", but let's let that slide. The tragedy here, of course, is that David seems to have fixated on Merrion making him a laughing stock, when - of course - he did that all by himself. Perhaps David ought to just ignore it.

But then, if he didn't have a "real-life version of that bloke in the big rubber face" angle upon which interviews with him can be hung, who would even bother to turn up to talk to him?

Doherty's long smack goodbye

A moment, please, to share in Pete Doherty's heartbreaking sense of loss:

"After years of entrenched drug abuse you have a mourning period. I know it's a bit sad, but I'm in mourning. I'm in mourning for an armful."

It turns out that, along with the rest of the world, Pete thinks he probably should have gone to jail:
"It's quite a lengthy probation requirement and drug-testing order," he said.

"It might have been better to do a couple of months and have it done with, to be honest."

Still, he's out now, and determined to make the best of it, although he's realistic about his chances:
"I don't want to go to jail, I've had enough of all that. But the chances of me not getting arrested once in the next 18 months are quite slim really - the way the Old Bill are."

Yes, the Old Bill and their ways, going round arresting people when they're taking drugs to "bury alongside their grandparents" or nosing about simply because some bloke has fallen to his death from a balcony at a party you then left rather quickly or stopping you driving illegally. It's like they're obsessed with crime or something, isn't it?

That's why Mum's gone to the smoking shelter

Having miscarried and then demiscarried the baby, you'd understand that Kerry Katona would be careful about the health of the foetus she's carrying. That's why she's only having the odd fag during trips to the boozer:

: "I was smoking 20 a day before I was pregnant and I've cut down to one. In the morning, I like a little puff on a fag."

She said of those who criticise her for continuing to smoke in defiance of medical guidelines: "Yeah, they're dead bloody right. But I honestly don't think a couple of puffs are going to do that much damage.

"I had a nicotine patch but it left a mark. I think I've done really well cutting down from 20 to one a day. I think the only times I really smoke is when I've had a drink."

So she only has one a day, in the morning, when she's had a drink?

Katona is still being used as the face of Iceland, although the company seems to have given up on the unlikely scenario of Kerry being a kind of Delia-Smith-on-milk-tokens welcoming grinning visitors by opening up her prawn ring. The new commercials feature Kerry as a newsreader detailing the latest bargains from the eyelids-and-batter merchants - which does, unfortunately, recall the Woolworths ads where a fluffy sheep struggled to deliver low-price headlines from a barely moving autocue.

Elsewhere, Katona has cheerfully told a magazine that she's going to get sterilized as soon as this latest kid is out. Presumably, it's easier than worrying about trying to sort out nicotine patches.

McCartney hugs a mate

The Sun has worked itself into something of a froth over a photo of Paul McCartney kissing a woman he knows. So frothy are they, they've actually made the photo totally useless, slapping a big Sun logo all over it and putting that pathetic "our lawyers are watching" into the picture.

And the lawyers, clearly, are watching, as the article which accompanies the picture doesn't actually draw its own conclusions. Sure, it hints that there's something going on between McCartney and Nancy Shevell:

Macca and the married cracker

... but the paper doesn't actually get beyond innuendo and lead-covered hints:
They chatted warmly over breakfast and shared late-night dinners and cocktails at restaurants.

Chatting warmly? Having dinner together? What could you be hinting at?
Macca was also seen shopping at an exclusive lingerie store before meeting the classy socialite.

Good lord... are you trying to tell us that Paul McCartney wears women's underwear?

Still, married, eh? So... there's some sort of homewrecking going on here, then?
Nancy is vice president of her wealthy family’s successful transport firm based in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She was known as Nancy Shevell Blakeman but has recently dropped her husband’s name.

So, she's married in sort-of the same way that Paul McCartney is, technically, married, then?

So, this story is: Paul McCartney has a female friend.

Curiously, by the way, this story is itself as estranged as its central characters, with Victoria 'showbiz editor' Newton leading with, erm, which tatty babe calendar is the "sexiest".

Meanwhile, Heather Mills has been continuing her campaign to stop the press ripping people's reputations to shreds by, erm, telling Hello what a bastard McCartney is:
“This is a man that hangs on to his money. He wouldn’t be as rich if he didn’t.

“Who needs that kind of money?”

Aha. You might have thought McCartney was rich because The Beatles back catalogue still earns him a small fortune every year, but it's actually because he hasn't spent a happorth since 1962. Perhaps when the Sun says he shared cocktails with Nancy Shevell they really do mean he ordered a Slippery Nipple and two straws.

There is something dark at the heart of Shevell's story, though:
She wed Bruce Blakeman, a commissioner of the New York Port Authority and a partner in a top New York law firm, in 1984 – and they have a teenage son, Arlen.

The couple, seen in New York society as a powerful political team, are both active Republicans and donated money to George Bush’s presidential campaign in 2004.

Ewww, Paul. How could you?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Celine Dion wins the world

The World Music Awards - older readers will remember these as an easy way for ITV to fill some of the deader night-time hours in the mid-1990s; laying claim to the "world" of the title solely by virtue of being held in a place that record company bosses fancied a tax-deductible trip to.

They're still going, you know. This year, they were in Monaco (lovely at this time of year, we understand), and they gave Celine Dion an award for "an outstanding contribution to music". And it's well deserved. She's not released an album for over 18 months, and the world of music really has been a better place for it.

Even more unlikely, Mika won five awards: new artist, male entertainer, pop/rock male artist and U.K. artist. These are, of course, awards handed out by the IFPI based on sales, so in a way you can't argue with them. But even so, let's argue with them: Mika? Are you serious?

Avril Lavigne - who, yes, we still feel has been eclipsed by the march of time - picked up bestselling pop/rock female artist and bestselling artist for the region of Canada.

Completing the comedy line-up, Akon took three prizes, although nothing for getting caught up in hilarious coincidences. Best male R&B artist, internet artist and artist from Africa were his prizes.

It says a lot about the IFPI worldview that "Canada" and "Africa" are both considered equal regions.

The other winners included:
* Pop Female – Rihanna
* Entertainer of the year – Rihanna
* Regional Award, U.S. – Justin Timberlake
* Regional Award, Australia – Silverchair
* Regional Award, China – Jay Chou
* Regional Award, Ireland – U2
* Regional Award, Middle East – Amr Diab
* Regional Award, Spain – Miguel Bose.
* Legend - Patti LaBelle

MTV launch new channel

Coming on November 8th, a new channel from MTV which is full of tatty programming rather than music shows.

We know, that actually sounds like MTV (or MTV1, as it calls it), but this is a different channel. It appears to be calling itself MTV ® - MTV Registered Trademark, in other words.

Or, rather, MTV Rated and Recommended. Although that would surely be MTV R and R?

The broadcaster said that MTV R, which launches on November 8, will offer viewers "an opportunity to enjoy the iconic shows that made MTV famous".

Sfunny, we could have sworn that the "programmes" which made MTV famous were, um, programmes showing music videos. There's no indication who exactly provides the "recommendations", but...
Content on MTV R will include the first and second series of Newlyweds, Cribs, Laguna Beach and Pimp My Ride.

After dark the channel will offer up a selection of stunt-based shows, in the shape of Jackass, Wildboyz and Viva La Bam.

Other rated and recommended programmes on MTV R will include Punk'd, The Real World and My Super Sweet 16.

... clearly not anyone who likes television.

In Rainbows: one-third paid

The first really solid information about people paying for In Rainbows are in - and that's solid as in a sand dune, which might give way at a moment's notice, rather than solid like a foundation. ComScore reckons 62% of downloaders opted to pay nothing, with - interestingly - 12% of downloaders paying half of all the monies received.

In other words, this could be seen as a socialist event: from each according to his abilities; or you might choose to paint it as a situation where some people support the others.

Radiohead have made just over two and three-quarter million dollars on these figures; but, obviously, still have the physical monies to add in to that before deciding if it's been a costly stunt or a neat moneyspinner.

Alice Cooper hates The Osbournes

Alice is keen to stress that, when he says The Osbournes made Ozzy look like a pathetic laughing stock, he's talking as a friend:

"Most fans thought he lived in a big, dark castle with skeletons in the cellar.

When that show aired they knew he was just some guy who potters around his Beverly Hills mansion.

It was meant to be some kind of comedy but the audience was laughing at Ozzy, not with him. And as a close friend, that made me very sad."

He might not have lived in a castle with skeletons, but he shares a house with Kelly and Sharon - isn't that horrific enough for you people?

The return of (one of the) Kershaws

Liz Kershaw is interviewed in the Media Section of the Guardian today, marking her return to 6Music after the made-up contestants that appeared on her show:

"If you can't be there 'live', you pre-record shows sometimes," she explains. "So when it came to the competitions [when the show was not going out live], the production staff would organise someone to come on the phone as the winner. I didn't know who they were, but I knew they weren't real listeners. We were simply reproducing a show that was really popular and our motive was that our audience would get exactly what they would get normally if the shows had been live."

The paper doesn't press her on how, exactly, it's better for listeners to be encouraged to phone in to a programme team who had long since slung their hooks, than to simply be treated like adults and told the programme is on tape. It does, however, ask her how she feels that she's been given a new job on 6Music while her producer, Leona McCambridge, got the push:
"Me and Leona have spoken to each other on a daily basis. I think I'm a woman of principle and help people and support them in their hour of need. I wouldn't dump on somebody from a great height and say 'Well I'm alright, pal'. I'm heartbroken for Leona. She's the best music producer I've ever had. She neither initiated nor formulated any of this."

So is she saying she should not have been sacked?

"I daren't comment on that," she says pointedly. "I wish I could say more. But I'm a freelance presenter and I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds."

Which is fair enough - who would willingly talk themselves out of a job - but you can't always, simultaneously be a "woman of principle" and "not bite the hand that feeds." It's also questionable exactly what principles were in play when pretending to listeners that it's worthwhile phoning in to a prerecorded show, of course.

Set against, say, Ant and Dec's fleecing of hundreds of thousands of pounds from their viewers (oh, sorry, they were merely "vanity" executive producers, weren't they?), the Liz Kershaw affair was more a misguided botch than a deliberate con, and it's refreshing that - unlike many other people at the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 who have been caught bodging, lying and conning this year - Kershaw admits she screwed up and accepts she was in the wrong.

It's just curious that once again the can is being carried by the off-air team and the presenter merely gets a reshuffle. You wonder if the daily calls and "bear-hug" from Jenny Abramsky mentioned in the article might give a clue as to why Kershaw is on 6Music again, and Cambridge is on the job market. It's never what you know, but who likes you.

Burning balls of McFly

Last time they played GAY, as our Google figures constantly remind us, it ended with McFly naked.

They kept their clothes on this time, but Danny Jones did attempt to set fire to his testicles. There was very little damage done, though. As you'd expect.

Boyzone: Won't someone think of the children?

Children In Need, eh? They've been raising money all these years, and still nobody's been able to sort out what's wrong with that bear.

They're having another go this year, and amongst the entertainmentish bits this year we're getting lumbered with a Boyzone reunion. Apparently to demonstrate that to do good, you must sometimes do a great evil.

There's a chilling sense that this is just a toe-in-the-water preparatory to a new album/full tour slog. We're thrilled, as you can imagine.

The only upside: does this mean Westlife can bugger off now?


They're describing it as a "social networking site", although really KylieKonnect is more of an old-style message board trussed up as Web 2.0 experience. It also looks horrible - like, truly, truly, horrible, considering how well-designed Kylie-related stuff usually is.

It's been launched alongside a denial of claims that she's pulled her 2008 tour. Parlophone deny there's been an axed tour, sniffing that there was never a tour in the first place.

Nine Inch show nails

We've been waiting for Trent Reznor's next digital move, and here it is: Niggy Tardust, an album by Saul Williams. It's free in MP3, $5 in higher quality and produced by Reznor.

Reznor is quick to point out he's not merely using Williams as a stalking-horse to try out the idea:

Radiohead is one of my favorite bands, and if I were sitting on a finished Nine Inch Nails record right now, I would do exactly the same thing they're doing. I think that right now, the music industry is between business models.

When Reznor says "the exact same thing", presumably that's not including the eye-wateringly expensive physical version. Presumably.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bono's friends: It's tough at the top

Rolling Stone are granted an opportunity to fawn over Bono, and naturally treat him with the sort of kid gloves he grants to his chums in Washington. The most interesting thing about the Rolling Stone interview is the subtle, early attempt to reposition himself, ready for a change in the 2008 White House. He's not a friend of Bush, he's a friend of America, you see.

So, what about Iraq, then?

There was a plan there, you know. I think the president genuinely felt that if we could prove a model of democracy and broad prosperity in the Middle East, it might defuse the situation. I don't believe that, and in the capacity I had, I told them that.


I told Paul Wolfowitz, all of them, to go ask the British army what it's like to stand on street corners and get shot at. Remember that during the British army's first years on the streets of Northern Ireland, they were applauded by the Catholic minority. Go look at that, and ask yourself how that all got turned around.

It was always going to go wrong. I remember in the first moments after "shock and awe," I was watching it at home with [my wife] Ali and I said, "These people have just hidden their guns in the basement, took off their uniforms and come out waving American flags. And they've been told to. They knew this was coming, and they know what they're doing."

So you mentioned this to Wolfowitz. Who else did you say this to? Did you say it to Tony Blair?

I said it in all my conversations. To Condi. To Karl Rove. I did not discuss it with President Bush. I try to stick to my pitch, and it's an abuse of my access for me to switch subjects. But I'm a lippy Irish rock star, and I'm more used to putting my foot in my mouth than my fist. So occasionally I'm just going to talk about it.

We're a little lost as to why Bono felt he could talk about Iraq with Rove and Rice, but not with Bush - what would make that an "abuse of access"? Or did Condi and Karl encourage Bono to chat with them on their Arabic adventure?

You'll notice Bono sidesteps the direct question about Blair.

Of course, this also contrdicts what Bono, erm, told Rolling Stone a couple of years back when he suggested that he didn't discuss Iraq on his trips to seats of government:
He said he’s made it clear that he doesn’t support the war in Iraq, but he doesn’t campaign against it because his main priority is helping the poor and disadvantaged.

“I work for them,” Bono said. “If me not shooting my mouth off about the war in Iraq is the price I pay, then I’m prepared to pay it.”

It's also fascinating that - in the current version of things, Bono suggests that he was tirelessly working against the war on Iraq, but only in secret.

But that's besides the point, of course, because Bono then goes on the endorse the lie of linking the War On Iraq with Al-Qaeda:
I want to be very, very clear, however: I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It's real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let's not pretend it isn't.

So how did a war against a country without a significant Al-Qaeda presence fit with a threat which "manifested itself" on September 11th?

Even The White House has given up on that one.

But then Bono probably doesn't live in the same world as the rest of us:
It is utterly accepted in the U.S. and Europe that you cannot live a life of peace and prosperity if at the end of your avenue there are hungry people without clean water, losing their children because they cannot access a twenty-cent vaccine or dying for the lack of drugs we have falling out of our medicine cabinets.

Really? "Utterly accepted", is it? Then why was George Bush happy to veto the bill which would have provided free healthcare to ten million children at the very end of his street, lest it upset the insurance industry?

Bono, of course, has a thing for politicians:
Just being in D.C., and meeting all the people I've met - I've now been going there for nearly ten years. They let me in their rooms and they listen to my rhetoric or invective or whatever it turns out to be. And I come away from that city not with nausea but with admiration. These people work like dogs. These lawmakers, they're trying to move between their families back home and Washington. All of them could make much more money in the private sector. Not all, but most of them are there for the right reasons. There's very little glamour. And they're listening to me, who's completely over-rewarded for what I do.

So, serving in Washington is a selfless, loss-making affair, is it?

Let's heed Bono's words, and appluad Ray Hunt, who selflessly serves on Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, bravely sacrificing time he could spend overseeing Hunt Oil's interests in exploiting the Iraqi oilfields.

Let's applaud Dick Cheney, who scraped by on his simple Vice-President's salary while his former employer, Haliburton, somehow got loaded down with Iraqi "re"construction contracts. Oh, yes, the massive hike in share price might have helped a little, what with him holding getting on for half a million share options, but let's not forget that Cheney had "forgotten" those holdings when he told NBC he'd severed all ties with the company, so effectively, he probably thought he had forsaken all that cash.

Bono, there's no shame in loving power and money and even that faint whiff of corruption. Just don't keep playing us all for bloody idiots.

Roisin reschedules

Roisin Murphy is recovering from her eye injury and will be picking up her European tour from Munich; the dates she missed have been rescheduled:

29-Oct-07 Klub Studio, KRAKOW
30-Oct-07 Stodola, WARSAW
1-Nov-07 Kesselhaus, BERLIN
2-Nov-07 Roxy, PRAGUE

Another heartbreaking story of celebrity loss

The uncoupling of Chantelle and Preston is proving tricksy, as Preston is now demanding his share of the kiss-and-tell cash:

A source close to her said: "Preston claims that without him and their marriage she wouldn't have had anything to talk about it.

"But she thinks that's ridiculous and he is being completely unreasonable. She can't believe how bitter he is being and is furious. Their marriage was miserable - now the divorce is going to be just as bad."

We reckon this story in the People will be worth another fifty quid to Preston's claims, then.

Hang on, though, Chantelle has found something to talk about that's nothing to do with Preston. Her breasts:
Before the op Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle, a natural 32B, said: "I'd love to be a cup...

That's what the People says - Chantelle wants to be a cup. Rather than a mug, we suppose. Still, at least her breasts give her something to talk about other than Pre... oh
"... Preston didn't want me to get them done. He said that fake boobs were grotesque but now I can do what I want."

Apparently, even her breasts are controlled by her relationship with Preston.

Still, she does have a life beyond him:
After splitting with Preston, whose biggest hit was Boys Will Be Boys, Chantelle dated Chris Neal who dumped Big Bruv madam Nikki Grahame for her.

But Chris, 26, a pal of Jade Goody's ex Jack Tweed, is now out of the picture.

Does everybody she know have some sort of Big Brother connection? Have these people actually been put on an island away from everyone else?

Mills: Richard Nixon in her own world?

The Sunday Mirror has a pile of stuff which either shows Paul McCartney to be a nasty, disabled-hating, wife-beating piece of scum, or Heather Mills to be a paranoid, secret-taping sneak, or the papers desperate to run anything at all about the couple, whether it makes sense or not.

And in this case, it doesn't make any sense at all. The Mirror claims that Mills confronted Macca:

The friend said: "She told him she'd been passed it by a journalist pal, who gave it to her because he was so appalled at what was said.

"But the truth was that it had been recorded in her bugging operation - but at the time she couldn't tell him that."

But, apparently, McCartney was supposed to go "oh, somehow a journalist has taped a private conversation I had in my home, and passed the tape onto my soon-to-be ex-wife", shrug it off and go about his business. We're asked to believe a thousand surprising things about this couple every day, but does the Sunday Mirror really want us to believe that McCartney is a bumbling halfwit?

A decade too late, Geri

That Geri Halliwell is having singing lessons is encouraging to all of us - you're never too old, it seems, to try and develop a talent you've never had before.

But let's take a moment to enjoy the majesty of Raj Singh's introduction to his story:

GERI HALLIWELL wants 2 Become 1 of the best SPICE GIRLS for their reunion tour.

We bet it was a toss up between that and "Geri Wannabe the best...". But "one of the best Spice Girls"? Doesn't she just need to turn up to be in the top five?

So Solid spills

MC Harvey must be feeling at least slightly ashamed this morning - when he was in the So Solid Crew, he probably expected to have a lifetime of glittery fame. Now, he's reduced to grubbing out kiss and tell stories to the News of the World because his ex-wife is on a celebrity dancing show.

The charmer doesn't just moan on about Alesha Dixon, though, finding time to complain about having got Javine pregnant, too:

"It's hard having sex with a pregnant woman," he said.

"It's challenging but interesting. You have to try lots of new positions. I go to the gym so much now because I've got to get the frustration out somehow."

Apparently he's never heard of masturbation, then. Which would explain how he got himself into so much trouble in the first place.

And so, what exactly is he kissing and telling? Very little, it turns out:
"It was fantastic with Alesha, wild and interesting. As she has said in the past we used to explore different places and take many risks. I won't deny that. I remember we had sex in a car and a ladies' room of a posh London bar."

Sex in a car? Harvey, everyone who's ever borrowed an Allegro Coupe has had sex in a car. And a toilet, come to that. This is almost akin to saying "we had an interesting sex life; we once did it in a double bed. In a bedroom."

Still, Harvey's not really here to talk about women. Because there's only one love of Harvey's life. And that's Harvey:
"I'm not going to lie. I attract a lot of attention off women. The older you get the worse I find it.

"I have to be mature about the situation. I've got to say, ‘As good-looking as you are, that can't happen'.

"I'm a strong guy—even the fans that said, ‘You are so out of order', I'm killing them with excellence. You can judge me but you can't take my talent away from me."

Not unless you have a very, very fine net in which to catch it, no.