Saturday, November 24, 2007

Babyshambles split... again

As Babyshambles head out onto their arena tour, the line-up has already shifted, with returning guitarist Patrick Walden quitting again without playing a note.

He got as far as the Manchester MEN arena, but didn't make the stage:

Speaking exclusively to NME.COM, guitarist Mick Whitnall said that "complications" caused Walden's sudden change of heart.

"He came up to Manchester on the tourbus with us, he was going to come out and play on a couple of songs, but there were complications and he had to go home. Personally, I just found it all a bit strange," he said.

If you're in Babyshambles, and things appear strange to you, they must be very rum indeed.

No more Stone Roses ever - pledge

Ian Brown has insisted that there's not enough money in the world to tempt him back to reunite with the Roses:

"I've got offers to play in 15 different countries [as a solo act]. I really enjoy collaborating with whoever I want and going round the world.

"I know the Roses mean a lot to people, but I haven't really thought about it much in the last ten years.

"We get offered a lot of money to do it. I know they say every man his price, but I'm not for sale."

Of course, anyone who really loved the Roses wishes they'd actually split before the second album, rather than hopes they'd reunite in early middle age.

Last FM attempts to fix Christmas

In the seasonal rush for a Christmas number one - Cliff Richard, whatever bag of spuds is spewed up from the X Factor, something supposedly funny - a new paper-hat-from-a-cracker has been hurled into the ring in the shape of Lucky Soul's Lips Are Unhappy. This has been chosen by the CBS-funded Last.FM community to be the target for a campaign designed to show the power of online hitmaking. The idea being that everyone on Last.FM buys a copy, it takes the seasonal number one position and everyone in the music industry quakes in front of the power of the new hitmakers.

There's a couple of problems here. First, as the NME's embarrassing attempts to propel God Save The Queen to number one demonstrated, it's not actually that easy to rig the charts in this way.

The second is what, exactly, is the motivation for Last.FM members meant to be here? Admittedly, they were invited to participate in a vote to chose the record that would be pushed by the campaign - but presumably the people who voted for Lucky Soul would be interested in buying it anyway; those who preferred another track would, surely, rather spend their money on buying a song they liked rather than one they didn't?

And it's the purchase price that is key here: sure, the download is priced at a reasonable 49p, but that's still an actual payment. Why would anyone want to spend half a quid of their own money on what is, in effect, a marketing campaign for a company owned by one of the biggest media organisations in the world? If CBS want to push Last.FM, can't they use some of the Viacom outdoor poster sites rather than shaking down the userbase to chip in to cover the costs?

Mills' infiltration plans fall apart

Heather Mills' super-secret plans to infiltrate the powerful and rich to make everyone do her bidding seems to have hit a snag. While GM-TV were happy to run interviews (more like pieces-to-camera, to be honest) when she was sobbing about her nasty divorce, it turns out they're less keen to let her use the sofa to promote her vegan interests.

The Mirror's Nicola Methven is relieved:

She'd only urge everyone to drink rat's milk. Yuck!

Not, surely, for a vegan campaign, Nicola?

Borrell dates shopkeeper's daughter

According to what's left of the 3AM team, Johnny Borrell is currently dating Camilla Al Fayed, daughter of the more rich ("more famous") Mohammed Al Fayed.

Al Fayed, of course, owns Harrods and spends most of his days dictating the front page of the Daily Express. Unfortunately, Borrell has just played a solo gig at Harvey Nichols.

Apparently, that wasn't very good, either:

"It wasn't a very good place to give a performance as no one was really interested and people stayed in the bar."

We love the way the implication is that the audience is somehow lacking something, rather than the performance. Whoever knew that drinking would be preferable to listening to a Borrell solo show?

Newton leaves with a five year-old story

Yes, just because she's leaving doesn't mean that Newton hasn't got time to bring forward the big stories today. She's running a piece on Kylie's bum-in-the-air waxwork:

Kylie shamed by saucy waxwork

The admission came as the pop princess was immortalised with the unveiling of a brand new statue in her native Australia.

Actually, Victoria, the "admission" that Kylie didn't like the statue came when she spoke to the website about it back in August 2002.

The end of an error: Newton takes her leave

If you have tears, pretend to shed them now. Victoria Newton is taking her leave of Bizarre, dedicating the lion's share of her column today to herself. So, no change there, then.

Like everything else, it doesn't make any sense:

THIS is a sad day as I’m giving up the best job in showbiz - editing Bizarre.

Really? So being entertainment boss of the entire paper is a worse job than editing a page? Why on earth would someone leave a job for one that's worse?
The time has come, after almost five eventful, fun and hangover-packed years, to finally grow up and try something new.

Did she mean to imply that the past five years have only been "almost" fun and eventful? Still, it's nice to see her suggest that she's not been writing like an adult for the time she's been at Bizarre.
I’m hanging up my designer heels to take an important new job as a Sun exec.

"Important new job"? I think you missed a "self" at the start there, Victoria.
But I’ll never forget my time in the hot seat experiencing some of the best moments of my life during my reign as The Sun’s Queen Of Showbiz, including being drawn by the people behind The Simpsons.

The woman who wrote this sentence has been promoted, giving her charge over other writers. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
There's a bunch of photos of artists pretending to like her, and some craven cowards have even sent "messages", like she'd died or something:
Some A-list names have sent messages wishing me well with my new gig - even though I’ve been a constant menace digging up stories for my loyal Bizarre readers, including many that ended up on the front page.

In other words, some hapless junior hack has had to ring around press offices to gather some quotes from PRs who care more about getting space in the tabloids than the quality of journalism in the UK.
My biggest idol and favourite pop star of all time, Madonna, said: “From the Queen Of Pop to the Queen Of Showbiz — good luck.”

Madonna, of course, has long since ceased to be Queen of pop; it's like getting a leaving present from ex-King Constantine of Greece.

At least Bowie's contribution wasn't fawning - in fact, it sounds like someone mentioned her name to him, and scribbled down the response without the "oh, yeah, I remember - that one from The Sun, isn't it?" at the start:
He sent me this rambling message: “The last time I met Vic I had just given up smoking and I mentioned making the casual decision to start smoking at 13 years old as being possibly one of the worst moves of my life, though the artwork on some of the packets was brilliant and kept me buying them just to flash the pack around.”

Coldplay - in what is surely the final abdication of any credibility they may have had left - go for a full-out fawn:
Chris, GUY, JONNY and WILL took time out at Coldplay HQ to draw the brilliant goodbye picture. Needless to say it will be framed and put in pride of place on a wall in my house.

And so, you might wonder, what has Victoria decided to be her major contribution to the profession of Woodward and Bernstein, Cudlipp and Foot?
I take great pride in having given HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY her nickname of LADY MUCCA after exposing her as a former porn star.

Good luck with the divorce settlement, Mucca, I don’t think.

Well done, Victoria, you came up with a nickname that nobody else uses, based on a "revelation" that had already been in papers back before the McCartney-Mills wedding; you're vilifying a woman for appearing in sexual poses in a newspaper supported by Page Three. What a glowing achievement. We'll miss you.

And that's all the thanks they get...

What has been the main beneficiary of U2's intimate charity gig? Well, obviously MENCAP will do well from it. But doing rather better was an old story on BBC News about how ropey some of Bono's lyrics are, which experienced something of a bounce:

More people reading about Bono's "living like a mole" than their super secret surprise set.

Friday, November 23, 2007

... and then there was 1 am

The 3AM Girls column has been looking a bit ropey for a while, what with only two AM Girls writing it; now, sole survivor of the original line-up Eva Sampson has quit. She's off to work on thelondonpaper, which appears to be a Rupert Murdoch sponsored initiative to cover the pavements outside railway stations in London with paper. Presumably it's to hide the chewing gum or something.

The other 3AMie, Caroline Hedley, is stuck in America as Victoria Beckham correspondent - possibly the smallest job in showbusiness - and is said by the MediaGuardian to be in talks about her future, too.

Newton gorn from The Sun, possibly no 3AM in the Mirror? If we didn't expect the vacuum to be filled with new forms of vacuity, we'd be secretly thrilled.

France threatens to cut pirates adrift

Whoever would have guessed that if you put the head of a record shop in charge of a copyright review, the end results would be fixated on trying to preserve the status quo?

That's what's happened in France, where Nicholas Sarkozy's government has adopted suggestions from a review run by Denis Olivennes, head of the FNAC chain, that will see tight punishments for file-sharers. A proposed government body will demand ISP user details, with heavy users being investigated on the assumption that they might be up to something wrong.

We're not quite sure how the presumption of guilt sits with the usual way things are meant to work.

If you're "caught" three times, you'll be cast off the internet.

It's not just Olivennes' financial interest in eking out the sale of physical products for as long as possible which suggests he might not have been the most impartial chap to carry out such a review: he wrote Free is Theft which, according to the FT:

accused ISPs of exploiting an abundance of pirated material on the web to recruit new subscribers. "It is a little like . . . big store chains putting out free stocks of stolen CDs and DVDs to attract new customers into their shops," he wrote.

Even although, of course, it isn't.

50 Cent sends his respects

At first, it looked like 50 Cent's condolences to Kanye West on the death of Donda were going to be somewhat muted:

”That's really an unfortunate situation."

Yes, there are few "situations" more "unfortunate" than the untimely death of your mother.

But, to be fair, 50 came through and actually delivered quite a touching tribute to the mother of his nemesis:
"Kanye's relationship with his mom had a lot more depth to it than a lot of people's. He was really close to his mom.

"I hope that he can work his through his way through it. If you're active, you'll find reasons to smile, reasons to be happy."

Take That upset the MAD

Howard Donald's fairly balanced suggestion that the legal provision of mild cannabis would be more beneficial than the availability of strong alcohol has created a storm of squawking from anti-drug campaigners.

Donald observed:

"Cannabis should be legalised. I know it's a touchy subject. But if more people went out stoned than drunk - which a lot of people are on the weekend - I think there would be less fighting, less trouble and less violence."

Which, you'd think, would be an interesting viewpoint to engage with.

Not, of course, for Mothers Against Drugs:
Spokeswoman Gail MCCann says, "Anyone who tells you cannabis is perfectly safe is talking rubbish. It can cause psychosis and paranoia.

"I'd like Take That to see the work we do and ask if they'd like to donate some of the millions they earn to drug treatment."

But Donald didn't say that cannabis is perfectly safe - he said that having legally available cannabis might lead to less alcohol-fuelled violence on British streets. Which is, of course, a totally different proposition.

Missing logo costs Sony BMG five million dollars

Having been ordered by a court in a previous settlement to properly credit Cleveland International on Bat Out Of Hell, Sony "forgot" to pop the smaller company's logo onto the CDs.

An expensive oversight: having had to pay the label $6.7million in the original lawsuit, they've now been forced to hand over a further five million.

Have we wasted money on these 'Bono go home' placards?

U2 are firmly denying any plans for London dates at the Millennium Dome. They're urging fans to not buy any tickets for their gigs they might see advertised, which is the best bloody advice Bono has given out in years.

Secret stripes

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller - former head of MI5 - is on Desert Island Discs. She's just chosen The White Stripes cover of I Don't Know What To Do With Myself, which is perhaps a little surprising. Maybe she liked the Kate Moss poledancing video.

Yoko makes some more Penneys

Over on the Guardian music blog, Andrew Purcell launches into an almost spirited defence of Yoko Ono's decision to allow a John Lennon song to soundtrack JC Penney's Christmas advert:

The second most common criticism, is that she has betrayed her husband's legacy.
As a director of Apple Corp, however, Yoko has been incredibly protective of the Beatles image. She would certainly never have allowed a gruesome bar band cover of All You Need Is Love to sell nappies offering "leak protection for less." But she doesn't own the publishing rights to that song - Sony does. Harrison's fear that "unless we do something about it, every Beatles song is going to end up advertising bras and pork pies" may well come true, but it won't be Yoko's fault.

We're not quite sure how "someone else selling a Beatles song for a nappy advert" has any bearing on whether Ono was right or not to flog a different Lennon song to a different company - it's kind of like Alistair Darling trying to defend the HMRC loss of those CDs by saying "it was a totally different company which published its customers' credit card details onto the web."

Purcell rightly points out that a lot of the criticism of Ono is little more than thinly disguised racism and sexism, and that she suffered a terrible, terrible experience:
[A]s someone who witnessed the love of her life and the father of her child being shot, she deserves understanding, not abuse.

But that's hardly a valid argument: flogging the song to JC Penneys is a cold-headed business decision, not some sort of emotional catharsis, and it's patronising and belittling to suggest that Ono is incapable of being judged as a businesswoman because of her husband's death.

So, it comes down to this: Ono is keen to stoke the myth of the Imagine Lennon, the "no possessions, we've given our clothes to charity" Lennon while simultaneously flogging his music to the American equivalent of Debenhams to flog Christmas sweaters and candle holders. At least Kevin Barnes admits he's embracing capitalism when he does so.

Andrew Purcell suggests that "maybe" Lennon would have been happy with the deal; we don't doubt that he would have been - that's kind of the point.

Ono doesn't need the money, so, as we can comfortably rule out the Of Montreal "the cash helps keep me creating" defence, this just comes down to the question of the endorsement. And it's fine for Ono to endorse JC Penney. Providing we stop pretending that she and her husband are part of some sort of anti-materialism counterculture.

Girls Aloud are a little shaky

The imminent implosion of Girls Aloud has been predicted before, of course, more than once, but the problems are usually smoothed out by selling a few more records, making a bit more money. But today's Daily Mail interview sees them so humped with the whole business, you wouldn't place bits on there being a band much longer:

"We'll see how this album goes then sit down and have a conversation about the next stage," says Cheryl. "All we can say for definite is that we'll be together up to the end of the tour."

- not exactly a ringing declaration of "five more years", is it?

Reunion in 2011, then, anyone?

GCap prepare to drop the pilot

Ralph Bernard, who's been running GCap since the merger between Capital and GWR, is believed to be stepping down from the Chief Executive position.

He's known as the father of the UK commercial radio industry, but remember, it's really unfair to blame parents for the sins of their children.

Fru Hazlitt is likely to take over, riding high on the - uh - success of dumping presenters from daytime XFM and taking Capital to the number four slot in the London commercial market. Admittedly from number one, but still...

Tim Kash has arrived in 2007

Good lord, apparently Tim Kash, presenter on The All New Top Of The Pops (he was kind of the Crazylegs Crane of the deal) is still hanging about the not-very-entertaining end of the entertainment industry, resurfacing as some sort of bagman for Puff Daddy.

According to 3AM:

"I was out part ying with P Diddy and a fight broke out between him and this other guy... I was in the middle and had to separate them. And all this commotion was over a girl!"

A girl, eh? Fancy that. Rather than, say, a bejeweled egg or arguing over suppy side economics.

We think Mr. Kash must be some sort of butler or something.

Kate Moss drug shock: They're legal

It takes two people - "THOMAS WHITAKER and BEN ASHFORD" - to bring a report about Kate Moss taking drugs at Davinia Taylor's "30"th birthday party at the weekend back to the Newton entertainment bunker, which seems a surprising level of manning for a story which cheerfully admits it involved nothing more taxing than copying down something off the internet:

House DJ Eastwick, 34, said on a internet forum: 'Kate Moss spent all night in the booth — I did poppers with her.'

Perhaps it took two people to try and work up the suspense in the piece - from the headline through the byline, it's forty-eight words before you discover they're talking about poppers, which, as the paper admits in the end, aren't actually illegal to take:
Poppers — known as amyl nitrate — are legal to take but illegal to supply.

Indeed, the paper actually uses the word "cocaine" (which is illegal, and she wasn't using) before it gets to "poppers", and then concludes with a not-entirely relevant reminder of something Kate Moss did ages ago:
Kate was pictured in September 2005 taking lines of cocaine.

Which isn't, of course, relevant but is just there to make Kate Moss look like she might be a bit shady. Fancy dredging up shame from the past to end an article on a 'can you trust them' note, eh?

In 1987, The Sun paid a million pounds to Elton John following false allegations that he had his guard dogs silenced so their barking didn't disturb him.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Liam Gallagher offers benefit of experience to Amy Winehouse

Liam Gallagher has given some advice to Amy Winehouse:

"I'm sure she's a big girl and she fucking knows what she's doing. I couldn't give a fuck mate about any of them. I'm sure they couldn't give a fuck about me, so no. She plays with fire, you get burnt. That's the way it goes. That's what happened with me. I'm in a fucking great place at the moment, so I don't think it does you any harm."

"If she's knows what she's doing's fuckng not good, then she needs to sort of back up a bit. But she's young so I'd be probably doing the same thing, except for twice the drugs. I'm sure she'll grow out of it."

Amy, if you understand a word of that, it's a sign that you've taken too many drugs and should lie down straight away.

Celine Dion: a little picky

Celine Dion had announced a gig in Halifax, and was somewhat surprised that - rather than declare a Celine Dion day - the people of Halifax were a little disappointed. Or, rather, a newspaper columnist was.

Celine, however, threw a big fit and pulled the gig. Not quite grasping that people weren't that arsed about her coming in the first place, her husband-manager Rene Angélil suggested that Halifax should feel itself scolded:

"I'm gonna tell you something and I hope everyone is listening. Don't try to find any reasons for cancelling the concert. There's only one reason and you know what it is," he said.

"I'm not saying that all people in Halifax are negative, but … this is a question of feeling. We're humans. If you would go to a city and you read day after day … 'This is not the place for you, you shouldn't have come, I expected someone else,' I don't know how you would feel about going there."

Now, considering some of the things that people say about Celine Dion - references to her horse-faced honking, suggestions that she could play a role keeping shipping off rocks in thick fog, that sort of thing - this might be considered a little touchy.

It gets a worse, too:
Angélil, who said he monitors worldwide media response to Dion on a daily basis, said he's astonished at the response from the Halifax media.

"We get negative reactions all the time when they review her records or shows. I mean, this is part of the game. But we never got negative reactions before an event," he said.

"Wait until she performs and then you can say whatever you want about Celine."

Now, leaving aside the image of a woman so vain she's got her husband up tapping her name into Google News on a daily basis, is it really necessary after her surprisingly long and drawn out career to actually wait for the gig to happen to have a pretty good idea what its going to be like? It's not as if people come away from Dion gigs saying "blimey... spunkrock... you never know what you're going to get, do you?" It's surely fair enough to hear a woman who has been turning in the same performance for a decade or so is coming to town and to say "her music is insipid so it's a bit of a shame."

Still, it's good to know it only takes a negative preview in the local paper to keep her out of town. We know what to do.

Zombie rock

Forty years ago, the Zombies recorded Odessey & Oracle. To mark the anniversary, they're playing the whole thing live, three nights running, next March. Shepherds Bush Empire, March 7th, 8th & 9th.

Five years ago today

The Daily Express got all excited expecting the "raunchiest" Top of the Pops ever;
Bill Wyman backed down in his embarrassing attempt to stop another Bill Wyman using his own name;
Westminster City Council brought legal action against a pub because they saw customers swaying in time with the jukebox;
and, in one of the more surprising twists in NME history, Mel Myers from the Star's Bitches column was hired to be head of news. Briefly.

Ooh! Scary Manson

Goodness, will Marilyn Manson ever stop freaking out the squares. You'll never guess what he's doing now:

He's got a microphone shaped a bit like a kitchen knife.


Although, it actually looks a little more like the plastic cleaver I got in a play kitchen set when I was about five. But, still, scary, huh.

Meanwhile, former member of the Spooky Kids Stephen Bier is pushing forward with his complaint that Manson ripped off his bandmates. He's now filed papers in LA alleging that Evan Rachel Wood got:

the "highest salary ever paid to any actress in any music video in history" for starring in his "Heart Shaped Glasses" music promo.

Ms Wood is also Manson's partner, of course.

Bier also claims that Manson misused funds to have his copies of Alice In Wonderland shipped about.

XFM debut album shortlist listed

The not-entirely-neccessary Debut Album Award being punted by XFM has revealed the shortlist voted for by listeners:

Air Traffic - Fractured Life
the Enemy - We’ll Live and Die in These Towns
Frank Turner - Sleep is for the Week
Kate Nash - Made of Bricks
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
the Maccabees - Colour it in
the Pigeon Detectives - Wait for Me
the Twang - Love it When I Feel Like This
the View - Hats Off to the Buskers
the Wombats - Proudly Present… a Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation

Is it just us, or has music actually felt a lot more exciting this year than that list would suggest?

XFM flatter their listener's choice, for all the world like a guest at an ambassador's party:
"We've always known that Xfm listeners have excellent taste and here is more proof," said Xfm music chief Mike Walsh.

"This is a very strong list of 10 great British debut albums and Xfm is proud to have been associated with all of them. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the judges decide is the overall winner, it will not be an easy call".

... although clearly, it's either going to be Kate Nash or the Klaxons. After all, they're not going to all the time and money and expense to give it to, say, The Wombats, garnering a small mention on page thirteen of the broadsheets when they could give the prize to Nash, and get at least a photo on the entertainment pages of the tabloids.

Heather Mills murdered

Oh, hang about, she hasn't been; it's just another squawky over-reaction from the one-woman self-pity machine. "Murdered by the media." She's now decided that she's no longer like Kate McCann or Diana, instead she's more like Sydney Cook:

"I don't think anything can prepare you for being treated worse than a murderer or a paedophile when all you have done in 17 years is charity work."

She does seem to have forgotten the celebrity dancing contests, the high-profile marriage to a Beatle and, erm, that she didn't start her charity work until after her accident 14 years ago.

But she's still lying about the Kate McCann comparison:
I never said I compared myself to the McCanns and they (the Press) said I did," she said.

Perhaps someone should gently sit her down and play her her own GM-TV appearance, where she said:
I am trying and I am being pushed to the edge. Eighteen months of abuse. Worse than murderers and paedophiles. 4,400 abusive articles. Look what they’re doing to the McCanns. The woman and the poor father have lost their daughter. What are we doing as a nation? What are we doing persecuting a woman that is devastated behind closed doors and trying to hold it together as I have for eighteen months.

To try and deny you said something on national TV - twice - seriously undermines your case if you're setting yourself up as a critic of false reporting.

Mills then suggests that her mauling at the hands of the press is because she's some sort of revolutionary hero of our times:
"I'm a woman who puts fear into men who want to control women," she said.

"If you look at every single person in the history of the world who has tried to make a difference, you'll find a very long section of their lives where they were treated horrifically by the government or by the media."

But since Mills' campaigns have been strictly limited - a well-meaning but woolly spot of vegetarianism here, worthy but hardly radical work for landmine clearance and disabled people - it's hard to imagine that there's a secret bunker in Whitehall where civil servants are quaking at the very mention of her name. Indeed, a more fitting comparison for Mills, rather than Sylvia Pankhurst or Rosa Luxembourg, would be, say, Paul Danan. Or maybe it's part of the conspiracy that Danan has been dumped from panto in Preston after swearing at the Christmas lights switch-on. Oh no he didn't. Oh, yes, he did.

Meanwhile, Heather has been expressing her disgust at rich people:
"Sadly, you have to mix at a certain level of people to raise the level of funds you need to bring about the greater good," she said.

"Because people are very snobby - these people who have lots of money, they're either snobby or they're stingy.

"If you have lots of money you have to be stingy because why would you that amount of money."

See! She's only rubbing shoulders with the wealthy because she's gone undercover on our behalf to change the world. God, how she hates the constant fine dinners, the stream of exquisite wines, and the laughter of the rich. Really, she's just waiting for the time when she can bring the whole edifice crashing down with TRUTH and a few well-placed tears.

Now, this might make her seem rather two-faced, and one does wonder how, the next time she's sneaked her way into the belly of the aristocracy the rich and powerful will feel about her knowing she's told the world she only pretends to like them to milk them dry.

So where does Dancing With The Stars fit in? And her attempts to scoop up large piles of divorce cash?

It's all part of the plan:
"But you have to be able earn a certain living and be able to mix in that arena to influence those people and kind of drag that out of them to actually make a change and make them realise that's what's really exciting about life."

See? She has to be rich, otherwise she couldn't get into the palaces and castles and manors, and sleep on their Egyptian cotton sheets, and eat their organic scrambled eggs, and play deck quoits with the sons of Earls and sisters of novelists and... sorry, what was she doing it for again?

Indeed, if we can raise ten million quid for her, she might be able to infiltrate their luxurious country piles deeply enough to bring about a proletarian revolution by Christmas. Send money now.

Extra CSS functionality

On sale, today, online: tickets for an extra CSS Christmas date: a late show at the Coronet on December 15th.

Preston and Chantelle: the end

The divorce of Preston and Chantelle, ending a kind-of-romance that bloomed on Celebrity Big Brother, has been ended.

Chantelle divorced Preston on grounds of Preston's "unreasonable behaviour", which - from press interviews she's recently given - seems to have consisted of reading the odd book and having conversations about politics. Why isn't someone building a refuge to save partners from this sort of intolerable behaviour?

Nadine foiled

You'd have to have a heart of stone, etc: Nadine Coyle was about go on again with the tedious on-off publicrelationship she has with a man whose first names do seem to be Desperate Housewives Hunk Jesse, only to discover that you need to have a visa to go to India. Who knew, eh?

Beyonce goes west

Beyonce is, apparently, working on an album of country & western music - a shrewd move, as it's a huge market. But who would you call if you wanted to crack into that particular niche?

Amanda "You're Beautiful" Ghost, apparently. Which, given there are hundreds of people working in country who know exactly what they're doing, seems to be a strange move - like deciding to do a rap album and calling in Noel Gallagher to help. Still, it does allow entertainment uberfuhrer Victoria Newton to give the story a headline:

You're Bootyful, Beyonce

- which puzzled us for ages, as it sounded more like she was going to be helping out Bernard Matthews and his brutalised turkeys.

But Newton's got more where that comes from:
I DIDN’T have it down as her destiny, I must say.

Destiny, you see. Like Destiny's Child.
It looks like dancers will be soon shaking their booty to her hits at line-dancing clubs rather than nightclubs.

And I’m sure the chaps will be Crazy In Love with the idea of Beyonce in cowboy boots and tiny denim shorts. Yeeha!

Crazy In Love... you see? That was one of her songs. You notice the way it got wound in so subtly?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

One hit-wonders sue due to derivative sound

The Romantics - if you're American, you'll know them from What I Like About You, apparently - are suing Activision, makers of that Guitar Hero game, because the cover version of their hit sounds quite a lot like them.

This could be the first time anyone has ever sued because they're clodhoppingly workmanlike.

Spears family Thanksgiving checklist: turkey, cranberries, pumpkin, ropes of love

What better way to spend Thanksgiving than holding a second intervention in your daughter's life?

Apparently, the Spears family are hoping that the holiday spirit will persuade Britney that it's time to try to kick... well, everything. And, of course, they might be able to pick up a bargain twelve-step session in the Thanksgiving Sales.

Mathew Street cancellation: who knew what when?

An email which appears on the Liverpool Subculture blog, apparently from Chris Green at the Liverpool Culture Company, suggests that plans to axe the Mathew Street Festival were being laid back in February, and that the key figures in the city knew that Mathew Street wouldn't be going ahead long before the public announcement. Such curious goings-on in the city.

Donda doc bails on King

Jan Adams, the doctor whose cosmetic surgery has been linked to the death of Donda West, walked off a live Larry King interview yesterday, claiming the West family had asked him not to take part.

Which might be true, but there's something a little showy about starting up a live TV interview before "remembering" the family of a woman who died shortly after you operated on her had asked you not to appear, isn't there?

Virgin cuts digital networks

Virgin Radio is - depending on your viewpoint - scaling back its digital operations or focusing its firepower with the announcement of the closure of Virgin Radio Groove and the axing of plans to bring a female-focused station, Virgin Radio Viva, to DAB.

This leaves Virgin with a slightly more coherent soft-ish rock portfolio, with Virign Classic Rock and Virgin Xtreme. A curious eyebrow might be raised at the survival of Xtreme, which - with just 82,000 listeners a month - was even being outperformed by the euthanised Groove's 94,000.

Five years ago today

A few years too late, and in a tiny gesture, Universal launched a small portion of its catalogue online, while the RIAA launched a website which compared having your music shared on a peer to peer network with being raped, while in China many of the RIAA companies accepted that piracy had won and started looking for other revenue streams;
China Crisis got a gig at the JobCentre;
Ministry of Sound denied they were in crisis;
and the rapper whose song had been adopted by the Countryside Alliance as an anthem announced that, actually, he didn't like foxhunting at all.

PRobit: Paul Wasserman

The death has been announced of Paul Wasserman.

Wasserman is considered by many to be the ultimate rock PR man, building the Rolling Stones into a force in the US, and sealing the fate of U2 by talking Time into giving them the cover.

His entry into the PR industry came when Bob Hope's management was impressed by a story he filed on the golfing crooner for United Press International. His time on Hope's staff was short, though, as he quickly was taken on by Jim Mahoney, handling accounts including Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and Apple Records.

Mahoney made Wasserman a partner, renaming his business Mahoney/Wasserman Public Relations; before eventually going alone in the 1990s, Wasserman also launched a PR wing for D'Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles advertising agency.

The ability to generate a buzz about very little served Wasserman well in a parallel career, as a fraudster. He used his connections and position to shake down friends and acquaintances for investment in a share scheme that didn't actually exist. After being caught and given a six month jail term, a repentant Wasserman told the LA Times a desire to live up to his myth had brought about his downfall:

I wasn't as important as I thought I should be. In the back of my mind, I was going to be famous, whatever that means. I'm this 'legendary' person [in entertainment publicity] with this great reputation -- so where am I? Where's my $20-million deal?"

Wasserman suggested the desire for more, now, was the same impulse which had led him into booze and coke addiction; having sobered up in the 80s, he went on to become "an incredible advocate" for the AA programme. As with everything else, once he got clean, Wasserman bought his salesman's technique to selling sobriety.

Although best known for his work in the music industry, Wasserman also handled the PR for a range of movies, including Star Wars and Annie Halls, and the representation for actors including Jack Nicholson.

Wasserman, who was 73, died from respitory failure.

Bad Headlines

The Spice Girls' comeback single is achieving the dubious distinction of shaming both them and Children In Need. Indeed, it's managed to pull of the feat of being the lowest-selling CIN single ever, which - considering its antecedents include Shane Richie doing I'm Your Man and Johnny Vaughan singing with Denise Van Outen - is quite a thing.

On the other hand, nobody really much wanted anything new from the Spices anyway, and the single sounds like an offcut from the disappointing third album.

Next year, get John Simm in to do something from the Spices back catalogue in character as the Master. Stop, perhaps.

Madonna Generation 2

Despite all the honking Madonna did a couple of years back about how she protects her children from publicity's glare, Lourdes is apparently being lined up for a bit in the next Harry Potter .

Equally surprising is the quote from a "source" run by new uberfuhrer of Suntertainment Victoria Newton:

“After all her recent public appearances, looking more like a sophisticated teen than a child, the attention on her is really growing."

Is it just us, or is there something a little disturbing in talking about eleven year old kids in this way? Especially from a paper that makes such a fuss about other forms of child exploitation.

Anyway, we're delighted to hear that Lourdes is picking up some acting jobs, and are certain that it's based entirely on what she can do rather than who she is.

Pete and Amy: who will be the worst influence?

Pete Doherty, now he's merely Kate Moss' ex, has found a new way of keeping the papers interested in himself, by chatting about his good mate Amy Winehouse:

“I speak to Amy almost every day.

“She just wants her man back for Christmas. They are desperately in love.

“One good thing is that Blake has got clean since he has been in prison. It’s been quite an awakening.

“Amy stopped doing everything since he went in. "

Ah, yes. The cleaning-up powers of British prisons. You'll recall how Pete Doherty successfully kicked drugs during his time inside, of course.

Funnily enough, Doherty was in court himself yesterday, explaining away how he was busily doing drugs while on a court ordered clean period which, of course, he managed to do.

Britney Spears: she lied to us

Eric Ervin, who used to be Britney's lawyer, has popped up to breach client confidentiality in a US magazine interview. Apparently the usual rules of respecting your client's privacy don't count if you can sell the details.

His big reveal is that, back when Britney was telling everyone she was a virgin, she wasn't. Fancy that. He'll be telling us she never went into outer space for the Oops video next.

Regardless of whether he feels the truth is something that should be in the public domain, does he really feel comfortable making his living talking about the sex life of a fourteen year-old girl?

Bill Drummond's "Look at Bill Drummond Day" declared a success

Bill Drummond's latest wheeze, a no music today, has been taken up by BBC Radio Scotland, who have replaced music in the schedule with a surprising number of programmes featuring Bill Drummond instead. Which, we're sure, wasn't in any way Drummond's motivation in the first place.

Although since Drummond owes his success and position to music, shouldn't he be also barred from the day? Otherwise it could be argued that instead of removing music from our lives, we're just living off music at one remove.

Couldn't we have a no sport day, instead?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Led Zep tour prospects brighten, darken simultaneously

A Led Zep tour next year seems to be almost certain; the bad news for the band's fanbase is that we know this because Ian Astbury reckons The Cult will be opening for them.

That's handy - gives you a bit longer to sort out the babysitter and get the car parked, doesn't it?

CBS swallows MusicMobs

Musicmobs, the LastFM-alike service which never quite managed to outstrip the Scrobbler, has capitulated and run to the arms of its rival. Toby Padilla has said goodbye:

Over the last couple of years things have begun to change. Musicmobs continued to grow to its current state thanks to all of our passionate users and the excellent help from Maribel, Chris and Jeff, but I knew this wasn't going to be enough. Many competitive services were launching and our own costs were starting to grow beyond our ability to support them.

I ended up spending less and less time developing the site and more time looking into ways we could survive and grow into a service everyone could use. This led to much soul searching about the direction Musicmobs should take and where I wanted to be in the future.

I explored MANY options. Some were to go it alone as a startup, others were to join a large company or larger startup and continue to innovate with a greater pool of resources.

Late last year I started talking to to see if the most obvious fit was also the best. Those conversations ended up getting put on hold as they went through their sale to CBS. Shortly following the acquisition, reached out to see if I was still interested in the possibility of joining them.

A couple of flights to London later, it was pretty obvious that we should be working together. Not only was their vision nearly identical to my own, but we all got along extremely well and I was thrilled to hear that they were big fans of Musicmobs!

Toby suggests the work he does with LastFM will be, actually, Musicmobs version 3; it does seem that both sides admiration for each others work is quite genuine and this isn't merely a 'buy the rivals, shut them down' move.

No more Ne-Yo

Having lost a PR person earlier in the week, R Kelly is now a support act down, too. Ne-Yo has been kicked off the tour several dates in; apparently some sort of contractual wrangle is at the heart of it all.

SpiralFrog still croaking

Yes, it might surprise you that SpiralFrog is still a going concern - just about. The ad-suppported music download service made just over $20,000 in the third quarter. Not surprisingly, it made a loss, but the scale of the loss - $3.4million across the quarter - is eye-catching.

Still, the company is keen to press on - presumably until every last dollar in the US has been burned - and is cheerfully optimistic of finding some chumps willing to throw another $25million in over the next twelve months.

It's got a plan, see:

“Execute marketing campaign in the United States aimed at 13-34 year olds, through one or more of the following approaches: hire gorilla (sic) marketing firms for unconventional promotions; consumer targeted press releases; advertising on some of the youth community sites; or hiring ‘bloggers’ to attract attention to us on the internet.”

Gorilla marketing - that'd be what Cadburys did with that monkey-on-drums advert, presumably. We especially love the idea that - nearly two years in - they've suddenly thought "hey, why don't we do some marketing to young people?"

Full disclosure: this blog entry is happy to attract attention to SpiralFrog without any financial reward. Isn't it amusing that a company trying to persuade people it understands the internet uses quotation marks round "blogger", like it's a crazy term people might not have heard of.

Record shops tell record labels "lighten up on piracy"

It's not just music fans who think the record labels are going over the top in their war on piracy: the Entertainment Retailers Assocation in the UK have suggested that digital sales are being destroyed by the obsession with DRM:

Incompatible proprietary technologies, aimed at defeating rampant piracy in the digital music era, are instead “stifling growth and working against the consumer interest”, said Kim Bayley, director-general of the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

Recorded music companies had been “quick to complain” that the slide in CD sales had not been offset by growth in digital music, Ms Bayley said, but their embrace of digital rights management (DRM) systems “might have added to the slow take-up of legal digital services”.

So, the customers don't like it. The stores don't like it. Most of the artists - who've expressed a preference - don't like it. Will the labels finally get the hint?

[Clue: No]

Zune outstrips iPod... sort of

Good news for Duncan: the Zune is outselling the iPod on Amazon in the US.

It's true. Up to a point. If you cast your eyes at the chart on, you do indeed discover that the Zune is at the top of the chart. However, the iPod in its various formats sits at number 2, 3 and 4; there's a SanDisk Sansa at number 5; before iPods again at 6, 7 and 8. The next Zune is down at number 9, before another run of variants of iPods until a Sansa player at 15.

So, yes, the Zune is having a moment in the sun, but it seems unlikely that the Zune range is outselling the iPod range; or, indeed, anywhere close to doing so.

Universal pulls NIN remix site

Plans for a Nine Inch Nails fan remix site have had to be pulled, as Universal records had a legal panic that it might torpedo their case against Google, as Trent Reznor wearily explains:

My former record company and current owner of all these master files, Universal, is currently involved in a lawsuit with other media titans Google (YouTube) and News Corp (MySpace). Universal is contending that these sites do not have what is referred to as "safe harbor" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and therefore are in copyright violation because users have uploaded music and video content that is owned by Universal. Universal feels that if they host our remix site, they will be opening themselves up to the accusation that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing these companies for. Their premise is that if any fan decides to remix one of my masters with material Universal doesn't own - a "mash-up", a sample, whatever - and upload it to the site, there is no safe harbor under the DMCA (according to Universal) and they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing. This behavior may get hauled out in court and impact their lawsuit. Because of this they no longer will host our remix site, and are insisting that Nine Inch Nails host it. In exchange for this they will continue to let me upload my Universal masters and make them available to fans, BUT shift the liability of hosting them to me. Part of the arrangement is having user licenses that the fans sign (not unlike those on MySpace or You Tube) saying they will not use unauthorized materials. If they WERE to do such a thing, everybody sues everybody and the world abruptly ends.

While I am profoundly perturbed with this stance as content owners continue to stifle all innovation in the face of the digital revolution, it is consistent with what they have done in the past. So... we are challenged at the last second to find a way of bringing this idea to life without getting splashed by the urine as these media companies piss all over each other’s feet. We have a cool and innovative site ready to launch but we're currently scratching our heads as to how to proceed.

So, rather than embrace the chance to try and do something new, Universal have been forced to cling to the legally unworkable belief that the hosts are responsible for the use made of their site in the hope of getting a few quid out of Google. It's all a bit pathetic.

Sweet Caroline: now we know who she is

After four or so decades, Neil Diamond has revealed the identity of Sweet Caroline. It was inspired by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late president. She was wearing horse-riding gear in the photo that Diamond was looking at when he felt inspiration strike, which may or may not tell you all you need to know about Neil Diamond.

Here's a 1976 performance of the song:


Proving they're up to date with all this internet stuff, Dave Allen from Gang of Four runs a rather fine MP3 blog, Pampelmoose. There, amongst much else, you'll find two new Gang of Four tracks, called Password and Second Life. Which proves even more how up-to-date they are.

Five years ago today

The world was asked, and replied that We Don't Talk Anymore was one of the ten best records ever, anywhere;
Louis Walsh called a book which suggested he told Westlife "I'll show you your fans" and opened his carboot "well researched";
the first rumours of ITV's Reborn in the USA reached our ears and
Michael Jackson dangled a baby over the edge of a balcony in Berlin.

Spears dashed off

In one of the more surprising lawsuits of a legally-obsessed age, Louis Vuitton have won a French legal battle against Sony BMG and MTV over the Britney Spears Do Something video.

The over-priced suitcase firm had taken umbrage at a car dashboard decorated to look like it had been made by them; the French courts decided that, yes, this was indeed counterfeiting. Even although nobody was actually selling fake Louis Vuitton dashboards.

Of course, the idea that one of the RIAA members should be found guilty of pushing pirate products is wonderfully toothsome, and a poetic spot of justice in a world they've helped bring about, but that doesn't make the judgement any fairer in a direct sense.

Alex Turner: Rock and roll - or MOR

Naturally, the Sky Showbiz team are excited by the story of Alex Turner gatecrashing a party. 'What a rock and roll bad boy he is', they trill, for all the world like residents of a cyberCranford.

But is it really so iconoclastic to gatecrash Sharleen Spiteri's 40th birthday bash? Isn't that a bit like stealing cash from your gran's electricity money jar - neither very difficult, nor especially anything to be proud of.

Thom Yorke rips off Thom Yorke

Amongst the people who paid nothing for In Rainbows was Thom Yorke. Presumably this is because he knew for certain how much effort had gone into making the record, and thus what it was worth...

RHCP say "that's our bad pun"

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are unhappy with Showtime, and in particular the network's use of Californication as a programme title.

Yes, we're seeing a struggle for parentage rights to a really lame pun:

"For some TV show to come along and steal our identity is not right," said the band's singer, Anthony Kiedis.

He described Californication as "the signature CD, video and song of the band's career".

They want Showtime to stop using the title - which, okay, could be fair enough; they also want all the profits the programme has made, which seems a little much. After all, it's not like people are tuning in expecting to see a RHCP video, is it?

It doesn't help that David Duchovny is playing a character called Dani California, of course. [EDIT: He's not; someone else in the show is]

Even so, the band might not have any sort of claim to the word, as show creator Tom Kapinos says he pinched it from a 1970s bumper sticker:
"Apparently in the 70s there were bumper stickers that said 'Don't Californicate Oregon', because Californians were coming up there, and I just thought it was a great, great title for this show."

Both sides will now be sued, of course, by bumper sticker manufacturers.

NME: Coming to your television

Oh, such exciting times of convergent media we live in. The NME is launching a TV channel, to be run by the Chart Show team. We're not sure, but we understand the idea is that it'll run the old Carry On Disarming video over and over again.

Or maybe not:

The NME publishing director, Paul Cheal, said the NME channel would be useful addition to and the weekly magazine, which has an average circulation of 68,511.

"Increasingly our mantra at NME is that our audience of 15- to 24-year-olds are incredibly promiscuous when it comes to media consumption so as a media owner you need to have an offering on every platform," Cheal said.

From a business point of view, that makes sense, but it's hardly a very compelling sell. "Watch this - we're expanding our offerings onto every platform". Mmm.

There's also, of course, a counterargument that, in a promiscuous age, spreading the brand ever thinner in such a clunky way waters it down still further to nobody's benefit. After all, Q TV hardly has any sense of identity at all and can't really do much to help flog the magazine, can it?

There's also a bigger question as to if there is any demands for NME on the telly - after all, The Amp and VH2 have both vanished, largely unmourned (except for round here) and we suspect that their proud guitar pop will probably be echoed on NME TV.

Getting into visual stuff makes sense for the NME - we're not convinced that means a 24 hour pop video station on traditional direct broadcast TV.

Virgin signs more people

After all this time on the air, and Virgin Radio is still behaving like it isn't quite sure what it is. Having seemed to be rolling inexorably down the direction suggested by Tony Hadley presenting old songs, the station has now picked up JK and Joel - adding to the signing of Iain Lee last week.

Programme director David Lloyd tried to explain how they'll fit at the station:

"I have long been an admirer of these two guys - they are natural communicators and really radio people," said Lloyd.

"I think commercial radio can do a lot better at weekends. So much of the time it seems to be an area that we don't spend too much time worrying about, but we want to put the energy back in weekends in a number of ways.

"Iain Lee was the first salvo fired, and JK and Joel are the second. When you are up against Jonathan Ross you need to do something more, and we are putting significant investment into weekends."

Since JK and Joel managed the task of taking the chart show and making it into something unloved, and because this is reminiscent of the enthusiasm Radio One showed when they started there - indeed, they were the new Ant and Dec.

The pair themselves say the sorts of things that DJs say when they join new stations:
"No longer are we hauling our arses out of bed at 3am looking like crap, instead we are really looking forward to doing weekends.

"It'll be great to go up against our old mate Vernon at 10a. That's if he can be bothered to turn up - his random game show schedule is demanding don't you know!"

Which would be amusing, if it wasn't tinged with bitterness - the couple, of course, have flirted with the idea of being on the television themselves, only TV doesn't seem that interested.

Britney finds some peace

The Mirror struggles to decode Britney Spears' jewelery:

The bangle on Britney Spears' wrist spelt out Imagine Peace.

But is it a personal plea for calm in the pop star's stormy life or just another slogan?

Erm... it's just another slogan. In fact, it's the slogan Yoko is using to try and leverage some more mileage out of the John Lennon brand. You might have read about it in the papers.

Take that and baby

Who knew that seeing a Take That gig was so exciting it could cause spontaneous birth? Well, not quite spontaneous, but a seven-months pregnant woman Louise Morris, went into labour while waiting for the band to come on stage in Birmingham.

The gig was held up while Louise was helped to an ambulance; two hours later she gave birth to a girl. The child has been called Clementine, presumably after Jason Orange.

Not one of the better days for Heather Mills

It probably seemed a great idea - get Heather Mills out to do some simple campaign work, help her image a little. A campaign to discourage people from eating meat to reduce the gases which contribute to global warming generated by cows.

What could go wrong? Everyone loves being kind to angimals, and hardly anyone is fond of global warming.

And, at first, the Sun seems to be struggling to find something to pick on her about:

Not ONE member of the public turned up to see her launch a campaign by vegetarian group Viva!

- which, considering it was a press launch rather than a public event, isn't that surprising.

The paper also tuts over the (supposedly) sexy poses in advertising campaign:
Passer-by Mark Clews, 25, said of the raunchy poster: “It looks like one of her porn poses. I can’t believe she does this and then moans about being in the spotlight.”

Mark Clews, you'll notice, is simultaneously a passer-by without being a member of the public; for The Sun to try and get annoyed by a picture of a woman in a swimsuit - even a woman dubbed Mucca-because-of-her-porn-past - seems to be so obviously hypocritical that it must be self-parody.

So, Heather could have won a moral victory. Instead... well, she managed to do both herself and the animal rights campaign look stupid and self-defeating:
She said: “There are 25 alternative types of milk.

“Why do we not try drinking rats’ milk, cats’ milk or dogs’ milk?”

Oddly, though, although there are many grounds on which this statement could be ripped to shreds - surely, there are as many types of milk as there are mammals, isn't there?; the idea of drinking rat's milk, what with their famous connection to plague and rubbish, is a commercial dead end - The Sun seeks out a "milk production" expert, Ben Mepham, who offers the weakest ever objection to splashing rat lactations on your Frosties:
“It sounds ludicrous to me. How on Earth would you get the milk out?”

... and where would you find a milking stool low enough, eh?

Trouble is, Heather makes a David Cameron sized mistake. When offering advice on curbing global warming, you need to set a good example:
Heather arrived to make her green appeal in a two-car convoy. She kept the engine running while she gave a string of interviews in a £35,000 black Mercedes 4x4.


And then she decided to tell a bare-faced lie:
Mucca also yesterday denied comparing herself to Kate McCann as she clashed in an interview with LBC radio presenter Nick Ferrari.

Heather, you did it on television. This was a deep-cover unattributable briefing, you were on a breakfast sofa. As the Telegraph transcribed it at the time:
Comparing herself to Kate McCann and Princess Diana Ms Mills McCartney continued: “Look what they’re doing to the McCanns.

"The woman has lost, and the poor father, have lost their daughter. What are we doing as a nation?

“What are we doing persecuting a woman that is devastated behind closed doors and trying to hold it together, as I have for 18 months."

A whole string of PR disasters; you wonder if she's ever thought that, perhaps, withdrawing from the public eye might be better for her image.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Radiohead attacked by Tool

Maynard James Keenan, out of Tool, isn't entirely convinced by the In Rainbows experiment:

"I love RADIOHEAD. They're a great band, but I do think — and I'll go on record now as saying I'll probably be wrong and time will tell — what they did is a one-trick pony in a way, 'cause it might work for a publicity thing to allow people to download it, but it's very comfortable for them to be able to do that. They're going to make lots of money touring and they've already made lots of money selling records."

Well, yes. That's not so much commentary as observation, and there's a key difference between the two.

Nobody, surely, would think that because Radiohead made a couple of million off the pay-what-you-feel-it's-worth model that a new band from Cheltenham would be able to sell their debut record for the same sort of cash - but then, they wouldn't make as much from a traditional release as Radiohead could have done. It's more than possible that a tipping-system based on artists retaining ownership of the music could mean most acts make more money from their music than if they'd signed to a major and had to work to pay back the advances. Indeed, it's more than possible that this sort of system would prove more lucrative for the vast majority of bands - the ones who never bother the Top 40 - than they'd make under the traditional system.

But then Keenan doesn't have a very positive view of musicians generally: he effectively suggests they're basically so stupid they should all be made wards of court - or at least of the RIAA:
"One thing that I see the musicians wanting is more independence and, you know, more control over their destiny," he said. "The one downside to it is that for the most part, the reason they make music is because they're damaged goods and they're generally not that bright when it comes to making business decisions. So eventually the vampires that survive the aftermath of the industry collapse will figure out a way to get their fingers back into these guys."

We think the phrase here is "speak for yourself".

Keenan then demonstrates some of this "damaged thought" by parroting the old "if you make some records available for free, then nobody will ever get paid" line that even the RIAA companies have started to move away from:
The people it will affect are those in-between bands that all of a sudden got a catchy song and people start passing it around for free. Well, if the people that got it would actually have paid for (it), these guys may have been able to afford another record 'cause guess what, there are no more labels."

But this misses the point that the Radiohead album wasn't given away for free; it was a purchase for a fair price deal which pulled in hundreds of thousands of pounds.

It's interesting that the sort of acts who are quick to say "let's not rock the boat" as Radiohead try the experiment are the ones who have done very nicely indeed out of the status quo, like Lily Allen and Tool. Allen's career owes a lot to record industry nurturing and - for all the talk of her MySpace - a massive inpouring of marketing spend; Tool have sold a shedload of records for pretty much the same reason - there are hundreds of bands of similar levels of talent who didn't have the benefit of Sony BMG's Zoo records backing them. In a different system, everyone could have got their beaks a little wet. But Tool wouldn't have made so much. No wonder Maynard doesn't want a different system.

Whigfield: Travis Barker

Travis Barker isn't, contrary to the Whigfield doing the rounds, dead. He's nowhere near as interesting as that.

Queen's university

There aren't many jobs which could see Brian May replacing Cherie Blair. The chancellorship of Liverpool John Moores University (the Poly as was) is one such job, and the Queen will replace the PM's wife heading up the ceremonials from now on. It's an extra bonus for those who matriculate from JMU: not only do you get to graduate in the Cathedral, but you get a warm handshake from Mr. May, too.

Deerhunter play last round... for this season

In a post to their blog, Bradford has announced that Deerhunter are going into deep cover:

We are all exhausted now and ready to be home. I would like to announce that the show we are playing at Primavera in Barcelona (I hope to god i spelled that right) will be our last for quite some time. It will also be the last time we are ever playing the Cryptograms set we have been playing for the last two years. After that the band are going on hiatus. We all need some time to organize our lives. Thanks to everyone who has helped us out. This has been a crazy year that I will always remember.

It's not a goodbye forever, then. But it's quite a long goodbye.

Hold your horses: BOH turn down Wal-Mart

While Of Montreal has brazened out criticism of their T-Mobile campaign by saying red-blooded capitalism is great, Band of Horses have had second thoughts after they did one deal with WalMart and turned down a much larger deal:

"I called my family, talked to my girlfriend about it, talked to the guys in the band and decided it's no big deal," [Ben] Bridwell said of the initial decision to license the song. "We tested it with that Web site thing that I figured nobody would really even see. But in the Internet age, you can't do anything without someone catching wind of it.

"Some fans, they don't even give a crap. They're like, 'Whatever, bands got to get paid.' But at the same time, I was reluctant to do it in the back of my mind, and some fans reminded me there is a reason to feel that way about it.

"So once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"

Arguably, dealing with Wal-Mart, a body who have happily censored the music they're prepared to sell in the past, is a lot dodgier than doing a deal with T-Mobile, who have at least poured a lot of their sponsorship into music directly. Even so, turning down a large cheque for a small band is still a big decision to take. Principles in 2007. Whoever would have thought?

Larry Lessig: Cry freedom

This is quite a lengthy video, but it's worth setting aside twenty minutes to watch Larry Lessig delivers a TED (Themes, Entertainment, Design) session on copyright, and why it's bad for creativity:

Five years ago today

Billy Guy of the Coasters died;
ITV revealed it has made £3.75million from text votes on Popstars: The Rivals (it was a lot prouder of its premium-rate numbers back then, for some reason);
in the aftermath of that kidnap-plot-that-wasn't, Victoria Beckham's mum suggested she go for counselling;
Robbie Williams pretended he wasn't arsed about America
Philips suggested they might sue labels who sold copy-protected recordings while claiming they were CDs as
the first recorded incidence of music piracy in space was revealed.

Queens of the Stone Age push cartoon guy

You might think the Queens of the Stone Age are cartoony enough without the need to make an animated feature, but they're pushing ahead with an extended cartoon based on their lightbulb character. The one with the imaginative name Bulby.

The most interesting aspect of all this is Liam Lynch is involved. Yes, Liam Lynch. What did that Whatever song ages and ages ago, having spent time hanging out at Liverpool's LIPA with Paul McCartney.

Let's hope that, you know, there are no other anthropomorphised lightbulbs who might be upset by the idea...

LiveNation builds the new world

In a move which sees its tentacles wrapping ever more tightly round the live music experience, LiveNation has bought up Signatures Network. Signatures is a memorabilia manufacturer which holds rights to 150 artists' collectable tat; as promoter of live shows, LN is now in a position to make a larger share of profits from the t-shirt as well.

Scott Weiland to sign off on autobiography

Scott Weiland has been invited to write his memoirs. No, we can't understand why, either, other than Slash and Nikki Sixx and everyone else seems to have had a go. Naturally, he's not being asked to write it himself, and David Ritz, the man behind "auto"biogs of Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, will do the difficult bit of changing the 'uh... and then... uh' into something approaching prose of the quality such a book deserves.

McCartney battles to save a Post Office

One of the Post Offices near one of Paul McCartney's homes is to close, and Macca - and his brother Mike "McGear" McCartney aren't happy:

Paul's brother Mike McCartney is to read a message from the former Beatle outside the post office in Lower Heswall, Wirral, which could be axed.

Mike, 63, said: "We have both had our homes here for over 40 years. This is the local village and post office."

Mike doesn't find time to address the irony that a lot of villages are losing their amenities like pubs and post offices because rich people buy up houses and only live there for a few weeks a year, if that, while the local community - who would have used the services regularly, year-round - are priced out by the second and third home owners.

We imagine Paul's going to be sending a letter addressing this subject, just as soon as he can find somewhere to buy a stamp.

Women in rock in 2007

Here we are, on the cusp of 2008, and the Daily Telegraph is running a 'women in pop' piece.

It's flawed as well as hackneyed, hailing a phenomenon that doesn't quite exist:

What's intriguing about this new wave of female singer-songwriters is that they are not fringe acts - they are firmly in the mainstream. While the folk, rock and jazz scenes have always provided a home for maverick solo females, from Kate Bush to PJ Harvey and Björk, the mainstream pop industry has rarely invested in girls with guitars: it has always preferred them dressed-up and dancing. A figure such Joni Mitchell, until now the epitome of this kind of artist, may have been many things, but poptastic she wasn't.

Now, we're not sure the artists they're pointing to - Kate Nash, Lily Allen, Remi Nicole, Amy Winehouse - are exactly mainstream pop; they're doing well in the charts, yes, but then so does Bjork and Lennox and Blondie.

And, yes, mainstream pop might not expect the women to play instruments on their hits - Girls Aloud, Sugababes, Leona Lewis - but then Take That, Westlife and Robbie Williams seldom turn up with Fenders slung over their shoulders, either. And Winehouse doesn't turn up with a guitar, come to that, and yet the Telegraph reckons she's part of this 'movement'.

Remi Nicole, pressed into this article as evidence, actually undercuts the paper's thesis by making it clear that she's not influenced by mainstream pop at all:
"In the past, if you wanted to be a pop star you had to go to Pineapple studios and audition with your jazz hands to be in some Spice Girls-type band. You would never have been able to write your own songs. Then bands such as the Libertines came along and you could see them playing their own instruments like the old days. Now you can get an instrument and just record a song and get going. The scene now embraces anyone who wants to tell stories about their own life."

Yes, this is, if anything, actually a 'resurgence of rock' article rather than a 'women in rock' piece.

Bernadette McNulty even manages to contradict herself in the course of the think piece. At one point, it's all sisters are doing it for themselves:
Ajax Scott, publisher of industry magazine Music Week, suggests that specialist music courses are producing savvier young musicians.

"It used to be that girls would have to wait for a Svengali to pick you up and learn the business. Now if you are into music and you are lucky enough to get into a music school, you get to learn the business so you enter the industry slightly less wide-eyed and naive."

So, Svengalis are out, then?

This month Remi Nicole releases her first album, produced by the team behind Lily Allen.

So sisters are doing for themselves, just organised by the team behind Lily Allen.

We're bitterly sorry that Remi Nicole has found herself caught in such a woolly and half-assed article. There is much that is interesting her about her, but the fact that she happens to share a chromosome make-up with KT Tunstall and Kate Nash isn't it.

Buried in the article, though, is a more interesting one trying to get out: it touches on how Nicole, Nash, Winehouse and Melua have all been to the record industry funded Brits School; this raises all sorts of questions about the extent to which this gives young musicians an advantage and - more importantly - if the turning out of a large numbers of acts which can be marketed to the mainstream as 'slightly edgy' is choking off the chances for talent who don't have the music industry paying for their education to get access to the top table.

Heather Mills new PR regime kicks in

The world snickered slightly when Heather Mills announced that, henceforward, her public image (between bouts of stage-school sobbing on the GM-TV sofa) would be in the hands of Comtesse Michele Elyzabeth, a "self-styled French aristocrat".

But she's already working wonders already, telling an American paper that, erm, Heather was unhappy with the discount Stella McCartney gave her in the shop:

Michele said: "Stella told Heather she'd give her just 10 per cent off at her London boutique. And they were related."

This seems to be an attempt to deliver on Mills' claims that Stella did "evil, evil" things. Oddly, though, it might seem to fit more with the negative view of Mills as a grasping woman who was out for ever ten bob note she could make from her marriage.

3AM Girls: They're like chart visionaries

The 3AM Girls are proud of themselves this morning:

As we predicted, Leona Lewis's debut album Spirit went straight to number one, beating the Spice Girls' Greatest Hits.

Yes, what an out-on-a-limb prediction you made there, 3amies. With nothing more than every retailer issuing a "Leona outselling other bands sixty-trillion to one" press release every fifteen minutes to go on, you called it correctly.

Oddly, though, they don't find any room to mention that Lewis blew the Arctic Monkey's fastest-selling debut record out the ocean, too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Radio City, Clyde under threat?

Some of the strongest local radio stations in the UK could disappear if Charles Allen buys EMAP's radio portfolio, according to Scotland On Sunday.

Allen's plans are, apparently, to wipe out what individuality remains in the "Big City Network" by changing all the stations to the Heart branding owned by his Global Radio group.

Amongst the stations which would disappear are... well, as you've probably gathered from the headline, Radio City in Liverpool and Clyde 1 and 2 in Glasgow - radio brands which have over thirty years of history and a strong local identity.

Javine-Harvey-other one: round we go again

Now, we know that everyone pretends to not be interested in most items of celebrity gossip, but when it comes to the Javine-Harvey-Alesha love triangle, is there anyone at all in the world who is still interested really? Especially since for the last six months nothing new has happened and it's just a constant churning over of the same not-especially-fascinating breakdown.

Even as the Sunday People churns again this morning, it admits this is the third to-and-fro. When the paper stretches and yawns half way through the article, it's probably a sign the story should have been spiked.

News values with the Sunday Mirror

According to this morning's Sunday Mirror news webpage, the biggest story currently is that, erm...

... Frank Skinner told a couple of jokes about Heather Mills at the Brighton Dome.

Much of it seemed to be pretty low stuff, too, having a push at Mills' missing leg, but apparently, the audience were okay with that:

Johnathan Richard, from Worthing, who was in the audience, said: "Some people were shocked, but I didn't see anyone walk out or anyone disabled."

Ah, so it's alright to take the piss out of physical disabilities providing there isn't any inconsiderate amputee in the audience to spoil the fun.

Five years ago today

Bill Wyman sent a cease-and-desist letter to another Bill Wyman demanding he stop using his name;
Was it too soon for Live Forever, a lookback at Britpop?;
The BPI attempted to rewrite Massive Attack's 100th Window as an anti-piracy album;
Radio London dropped most of its specialist music shows;
and we discovered that U2 ensured quality control by telling each other how fabulous they are.

Ah... so THAT'S why Mum's gone to Iceland

Kerry Katona is probably hoping that something terrible happens to her in the next couple of weeks, because she could do with flogging another "My [insert cause of misery here] misery" story to a mag pretty sharpish.

The News of the World has done some number crunching and reckons that, with the Inland Revenue chasing her for a couple of hundred thousand in back taxes, she could be out on the street by Christmas.

The Screws quotes an OK insider who claims that she's now only being paid two grand a week for her column - only! - and another who reckons that Iceland have cut the cash they give her for flogging batter to the hapless. Keeping the Iceland contract has had a bonus, though: apparently she's able to get all the frozen food she wants for free. An Iceland freeloader. Classy.

This week just gone

A week on No Rock and Roll Fun:

The ten most-read stories were:
1. RIP Donda West
2. R Kelly's "underage sex video" will be shown in court
3. Heather Mills naked
4. Lily Allen naked
5. McFly naked
6. Beth Ditto naked
7. Stereolab live on YouTube
8. Las Vegas residents outraged by Beyonce advert
9. Nelly Furtado turns down Playboy
10. Boy George denies kidnap (this was the May 2007 story turned up by people Googling following the laying of charges against O'Dowd

These were the shopping suggestions:

The Ravonettes: Lust Lust Lust Back to basics - by which we mean sex, of course

The Brunettes: Structure And Cosmetics New Zealand 60s-indieish proper pop

The Slits: The Return of The Giant Slits 1981's album not entirely made better with a bunch of dub remixes

Girls Aloud: Tangled Up Apparently, mercifully light on the dreadful ballad count

Gorillaz: D-Sides Christmas-friendly semi-rarities round-up

Sonic Boom Six: Arcade Pefect Still nothing to do with Mr Sonic Boom, apart from sheer volume of aural arse-kicking

Vanessa Paradis: Divindylle It's okay to like her, she's like 30 or something now

Johnny Panic: The Good Fight Like a pre-Severn Bridge Manics, supposedly

The Korgis: This World's For Everyone End-of-career European-only release gets a trip out of the dumper

Oliver! DVD I'm re-viewing, the situation, I'm a villain and a villain I must stay...

Grange Hill Series 1 & 2 Leave it out, Tucker - the first two series come to DVD