Saturday, December 01, 2007

1,000,000,000 free songs for the taking

Some crazy give-away madness from Amazon is being set up next year: a billion free MP3s.

Well, up to a point - Pepsi are planning a promotional push that will see five billion of their products shipping with a code; five codes will be swappable for a free mp3 download off Amazon. We'd imagine that Pepsi will be somewhat upset if every single bottletop gets used to grab a free track, even at the 40 cents that Amazon is trying to persuade the labels to accept in return for the songs.

Certainly, experience from both MyCokeMusic and a Pepsi/iTunes tie-up suggests that dentists will see more action as a result of the pop-and-pop linkage than will Amazon.

In other mp3 news: WalMart is rumoured to have told labels that if they don't start to provide them with un-DRMed tracks, they'll find won't be stocking their wares.

We think Liam means "imaginary friend"

Liam Gallagher seems to be suggesting that John Lennon was his imaginary friend, but then appears to back pedal impressively:

"I wouldn't say that he visits me [but] I had an out-of-body experience [with him] when I was about 17 or 16, and, as far as I'm concerned, that's when I started getting into music," Gallagher told

"That's when it all started going down, and I reckon it has something to do with him. He don't come and visit me - at least, I don't think he does. I wish he did."

Imaginary friend. Or possibly something to do with drugs. We like the way that Liam's not entirely sure if he's being visited by the ghost of Lennon, though - presumably it's hard to tell who's there when Elvis and the Big Bopper call round with their mates.

Feeling the Heat

I was a bit surprised when popping into the Co-Op yesterday to see that - not only are they still happily selling the current edition of Heat, the one with the "amusing" stickers that mock a woman who had been the victim of a nasty violent attack, people on medication for serious illnesses and - topping the lot - a disabled child, but were giving the magazine a pride-of-place spot by the cash registers. I suppose the Co-Op has long since abandoned its "caring, sharing" strapline.

Janice Turner in The Times has called EMAP on the stickers.

Five years ago today

Popbitch was taking a buffeting as people rushed to post a false rumour about David Beckham that had first appeared on a Manchester United message board.

Morrissey: NME toned it down, says Jonze

When Morrissey's management started complaining about NME's report on an interview he did with Tim Jonze, they claimed that Tim Jonze had emailed them saying:

"Hope you're well. I should mention that for reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it."

The implication being that NME took Jonze's work, and reworked it to make the November interview spawn a monster.

Late yesterday, Jonze posted to the Guardian's website, saying the opposite is true:
So before I continue, there's something that needs to be pointed out. Every single quote attributed to Morrissey is 100% correct, there was no provocation at all, and Morrissey was given a chance to apologise or clarify his views with a second telephone interview. At no point did he back down. Although Morrissey as a person was charming, courteous and (until this point) a joy to interview, I found comments such as "England's been thrown away" and "These days you won't hear a British accent in Knightsbridge" woefully ignorant. I wrote a piece saying that Morrissey - although liberal in many of his views - was using the language of the BNP and Enoch Powell when it came to immigration. In the piece I mentioned that his comments likening the UK to that of "going to Zagreb and hearing nothing but Irish accents" were offensive as they compared British ethnic minorities to tourists. I also said he was being overly nostalgic for a Britain built partly on empire and imperialism and that someone as well travelled as Morrissey had no excuses for such comments.

Yes, he had his name removed from the article - but because it was weakened, not because it was made stronger, says Jonze:
The piece was very critical and NME decided to tone it down, something I didn't agree with. They showed me several rewritten versions, some of which were very soft on Morrissey, one that was quite critical. None had any of my points or arguments in them and none of them were written in my voice. Furthermore, I hadn't even seen the finished version before it went to print (I still haven't seen it, as I'm currently writing this from the surreal surroundings of a beach internet cafe in Thailand). For these reasons, the byline was removed.

Jonze admits that the "byline debate" has been a "PR coup" for Camp Morrissey, although since his email to the management was the spark for that sideline, he can't really complain overmuch. There remains a mystery of why, though, of why he sent that email - as Suzanne points out in the comments on the Guardian piece, it seems a little odd to drop an email to someone along these lines:
"Hey, Merck, I would have written a piece ripping your client to shreds, but the NME is pussy-footing around with it, so I asked my name to be taken off of it. When you see the article, please remember that the NME didn't let me portray what a scum I thought Morrissey was. Have a great day."

It all makes Morrissey's threatened court case seem even more unlikely: can you really complain a magazine ripped you to shreds when the person who interviewed you insists you were being treated with kid gloves?

[Thanks again to Duncan]

Winehouse slaps Doherty

Gordon does find some space in his column for something approaching news this morning: Apparently, Mitch Winehouse slapped Pete Doherty backstage at Winehouse's Brixton show last week:

An onlooker said: “He told him to leave Amy alone, saying that he was the last person she needs at moment.

“Pete was smirking until Mitch turned and whacked him.”

Gordon - who has the air of a man who sometimes watches that cage-fighting thing - embraces this vigilantism:
IT’S high time someone taught PETE DOHERTY a lesson.

The courts have not bothered to punish him properly and he keeps leading people astray.

So I was delighted to hear that AMY WINEHOUSE’s old man has done what most of us have wanted to do for ages - and lamped the junkie singer.

Not, of course, that Gordon is happy with just a bit of a slap:
In the meantime, if I was Pete I’d look twice before crossing the road from now on.

You never know when a taxi might suddenly appear.

Is it really appropriate for a journ... well, a writer, to suggest jokily that someone should be run over?

Gordon counts down to Christmas

It's December 1st, the first day of advent. Or at least, the day on which advent calendars start. And Gordon Smart, of course, doesn't want to be left out of the fun. At home, we suspect he's got a Bratz Chocolate one, but at work - inevitably - it's the:

Xmas crackers advent calendar

Helping Gordon find his excuse to print pictures of women in push-up bras, it's a feature deftly combining the coming of the Christ-child with cleavage shots.

Behind door number - we suspect behind every door - there's a picture of Jordan. Now, Gordon's not daft; he knows that nobody is going to pay him money simply for picking 24 pictures. So he's written some, uh, festive badinage to accompany the picture:
JORDAN would roast any man's chestnuts if she slid down the chimney on a cold Christmas morning.

Forget the Queen's speech, it'll be cold turkey compared with unwrapping her presents.

Looking at a soft porn star's breasts makes the Queen's speech like quitting heroin. Of course.

Friday, November 30, 2007

2007 Comes Back: Other people's favourites

Good god, we've been doing this so long now we've started to develop Christmas traditions. One of which is the post into which we keep poking selected details of other people's best-of lists until it gets bloated and/or we get bored of doing so, thus providing a handy print off, cut out and keep guide to what some people would insist was the shape of the musical year.

Which, as that implies, means this page will be updated from time to time: Last update 5.45pm, 05-01-08 customer's favourite albums:
1 Not Too Late - Norah Jones
2 Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
3 Magic - Bruce Springsteen
4 Call Me Irresponsible - Michael Bublé
5 West - Lucinda Williams editor's best albums:
1 The Reminder - Feist
2 Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
3 Graduation - Kanye West
4 In Rainbows - Radiohead (notably, not available through Amazon)
5 Back To Black - Amy Winehouse genre-by-genre best ofs:
Alternative: Person Pitch - Panda Bear
Folk: Dirt Farmer - Levon Helm
Instrumental classical: Osvaldo Golijov - Oceana
New Age: The Silver Tree - Lisa Gerrard

Apple iTunes best-selling singles in the US [via MTV]:
1. Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal) - Fergie
2. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani
3. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's
4. Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
5. Glamorous - Fergie

Apple iTunes best-selling albums in the US [via MTV]
1. It Won't Be Soon Before Long - Maroon 5
2. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
3. Graduation - Kanye West
4. Daughtry - Daughtry
5. Coco - Colbie Caillat

Apple iTunes best-selling singles in the UK [via Discopop]
1. Grace Kelly - Mika
2. Umbrella - Rihanna
3. How To Save A Life - The Fray
4. Ruby - The Kaiser Chiefs
5. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's

Devendra Banhart's favourite records of the year as told to PopCandy:
Death Of The Sun - Matteah Baim
Kala - MIA

Berkley Place chooses the top political songs:
1. Louisiana Purchase - Akir with Immortal Technique, Mojo, and Poison Pen
2. Katrina - Black Lips
3. Windowsill - Arcade Fire

Blogglebum Cage Album of the year: Tromatic Reflexxions - Von Sudenfed

The Bookseller's best-selling music books [via Sunday Times]:
1 Eric Clapton: The Autobiography (Century) 49,085
2 Ronnie: The Autobiography by Ronnie Wood (Macmillan) 19,995
3 Barefaced Lies and Boogie-woogie Boasts by Jools Holland (M Joseph) 17,000
4 Bit of a Blur by Alex James (Little, Brown) 16,445
5 The Autobiography by Johnnie Walker (M Joseph) 15,660

Carrie Brownstein's biggest musical disappointment of 2007 [via MonitorMix]: In Rainbows - Radiohead

Christianity Today best Christian album: Salvation in Lights - Mike Farris

Claire out of CFBGoesPop picks top tracks:
1. Song #1 (Original Version) - Serebro
2. La Vie E'st Chouette - Jodie Foster
3. I've Been Searching - Gwenno Saunders Pipette
4. Theme To St Trinians - Girls Aloud
5. Hitten - Those Dancing Days

US Coalition of Independent Music Stores best-selling albums of 2007, via Hypebot
1. Back To Black - Amy Winehouse
2. Wincing The Night Away - The Shins
3. Icky Thump - The White Stripes
4. Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
5. Reminder - Feist

Daily Telegraph writers pick the top gigs of the year:
1. Prince at the Millennium Dome, various dates
2. Led Zeppelin, O2 Arena
3. Arcade Fire, Smith Square
4. PJ Harvey, Bristol
5. Mika, Koko

Heather D'Angelo of Au Revoir Simone's favourite album [via Sweeping The Nation]: Rise Above - Dirty Projectors

Decibel's album of the year: Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb

Double Viking nominate 10 Worst Songs of 2007:
Gimmie More - Britney Spears
Delilah - Plain White Ts
Buy U A Drank - T-Pain
Potential Break-up Song - Aly & AJ
New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
Young Folks - Peter Bjorn & John
Glamorous - Fergie
Beautiful Girls - Sean Kingston
Before He Cheats - Carrie Underwood
Party Like a Rockstar/Crank That/This Is Why I'm Hot - Shop Boyz/Soulja Boy/Mims

Jim Ed Poole from NPR's The Current Morning Show favourite album: Over The Hills - Lucy Kaplansky

Harp Magazine top albums, via Brooklyn Vegan:
1. The Stage Names - Okkervil River
2. Cease To Begin - Band Of Horses
3. The Shepherd's Dog - Iron and Wine
4. Future Clouds And Radar - Future Clouds And Radar
5. The Reminder - Feist

Kat from Lipstick Vogue reviews the year:
Hit: Playground Weekender festival;
Miss: Good Vibrations festival

Stephen King, author, in Entertainment Weekly - apparently "so disappointed" with this year's music he could only choose a Top 7 [via Idolator:
1 Washington Square Serenade - Steve Earle
2 Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
3 Life in Cartoon Motion - Mika
4 It's Not Big It's Large - Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
5 Black Rain - Ozzy Osbourne
6 Revival - John Fogerty
7 Countrypolitan Favorites - Southern Culture on the Skids

Lostmusic of Indiemp3's favourite music of the year:
Single: Keep It Coming ep - Manhattan Love Suicides
Album: Profit In Your Poetry - Butcher Boy
Live: Jesus And Mary Chain

Mojo top albums [via Acclaimed Music Forums]:
1. In Rainbows - Radiohead
2. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
3. Magic - Bruce Springsteen
4. Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
5. Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem

Paste magazine's Top 100 albums:
1. Boxer - The National
2. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
3. Magic - Bruce Springsteen
4. Icky Thump - White Stripes
5. The Reminder - Feist

Most-traded songs on peer-to-peer networks, according to Big Champagne:
1. Party Like A Rock Star - Shop Boyz
2. I Wanna Luv U - Akon
3. Beautiful Girls - Sean Kingston
4. This Is Why I'm Hot - Mims
5. Don't Matter - Akon

Q albums of the year [via Idolator]:
1. Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
2. Icky Thump - White Stripes
3. Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
4. The Good, The Bad & The Queen
5. Magic - Bruce Springsteen

Q songs of the year [via Idolator]:
1. Umbrella - Rhianna
2. Fluorescent Adolescent - Arctic Monkeys
3. Foundations - Kate Nash
4. Keep The Cars Running - Arcade Fire
5. Golden Skans - Klaxons

Rock Sound Top albums [via DJ Martian]:
1. Puzzle - Biffy Clyro
2. My Heart Has a Wish That You Would Not Go - Aerogramme
3. The Blackening - Machine Head
4. Ire Works - The Dillinger Escape Plan
5. Death is the Communion - High On Fire

Rough Trade Record Shop picks ten best albums:
Person Pitch - Panda Bear
Close To Paradise - Patrick Watson
The Pirates Gospel - Alela Diane
West Coast - Studio
Five Roses - Miracle
Untrue - Burial
Sound Of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
Wooden Ships - Wooden Ships
Kala - MIA
Mirrored - Battles

Robert Sandall picks his favourite music books for the Sunday Times:
ERIC CLAPTON: The Autobiography
TONY VISCONTI: The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy
HEAVEN AND HELL: My Life in the Eagles 1974-2001 by Don Felder
BIT OF A BLUR: The Autobiography by Alex James
RE-MAKE/RE-MODEL by Michael Bracewell
LONELY AVENUE: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus by Alex Halberstadt
IN SEARCH OF THE BLUES by Marybeth Hamilton

Rob Sheffield picks his favourite records not to make the Rolling Stone Critics Choice 50:
1. Is Is - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
2. Grinderman - Grinderman
3. Liars - Liars
4. Guy - Guy
5. Jarvis - Jarvis Cocker
(It's not clear if he was primarily choosing just from albums with eponymous titles; maybe it's a fetish.)

Sunday Times records of the year:
Pop and rock: Rasing Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
New act: Marry Me - St Vincent
Best-selling rock: Life In Cartoon Motion - Mika
Jazz: Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford - Basquiat Strings
Fringe: Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John - Peter Case
"World": The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street - Simphiwe Dana
Dud of the year: The World Is Yours - Ian Brown

Sweeping The Nation is counting down the 30 top albums of the year; it's still a work in progress

Uncut best albums of 2007 [via Acclaimed Music Forums]:
1 Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
2 Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
3 White Chalk - PJ Harvey
4 Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
5 Sky Blue Sky - Wilco

You'll find much more useful collections like this at Largehearted Boy; via DJ Martian and Fimoculous

Lest we forget: 2006 and 2005

Five years ago today

It was a very different world in 2002:
A talented solo artist had a bit of a breakdown on stage and flounced off leaving the crowds hollering for their money back; only in 2002 it was Michelle Shocked
while another solo artist gave an interview to a magazine, made some ill-considered remarks about the effects of immigration in changing the landscape of their home country and, when people pointed out that sounded a little racist, threatened legal action; only in 2002 it was Dannii Minogue

Wire launches XFM South Wales with word puzzle

At the end of terms when I was a kid, we'd sometimes be given a light-hearted word game where words and phrases on a theme were not-very-convincingly worked into a longer stretch of prose. See how many you could find, of course.

Nicky Wire knocked up something similar to mark the launch of XFM in South Wales, forcing in some Welsh pop titles into the sort of empty, echoing honkfest you'd expect to launch a network designed to bring the great sound of the Shine albums to FM in Cardiff:

As the great man said 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours',

Let this music speed through the geography - criss cross the
Rain ravaged rivers and wild winds of our tiny massive country.

This is a 'Liberation Transmission' this music welcomes all skins,
All voices, all languages - for music bridges all divides.
This new 'Comfort In Sound' this new beginning.
'So God Show Me Magic' - 'Thank The Lord We're Welsh'-

Creation, inspiration a new generation..
'Maybe Tomorrow' the 'Local Boys' and girls of the future will make their own 'Design for Life'.

'For the art of playing music is the art of playing and listening
- One enhances the other"

We shall be one made of many, we are making history 'U Knows It'!!!!

Into the valleys out to the cities do not go gentle into that dark night.

XFM a 'New South Wales', 'What's That Coming Over The Hill, What's That Coming Over The Hill'

'What's That Coming'!!!

We understand that the 3AM Girls are hiring right now; with these skills Wire would be shoo-in.

Jacksons children exploitation

A Jackson Five tribute band has been blocked from playing an aftershow for the Royal Variety Performance because the event starts too late for the kids to work under child labour laws:

A council spokesman said: “We have issued licences for them in the past. But the law is clear that minors cannot be issued with a licence to perform beyond 10.30pm, under any circumstances.”

Naturally, there's some muttering about "red tape" in the Echo's coverage.

Radiohead, Prince frozen out of Brits

We're sure Thom Yorke and Prince will be sobbing their hearts out at the discovery that they've been ruled ineligible for the chance to shake Sharon Osbourne's hand at the Brit Awards.

Radiohead's In Rainbows can't be entered for the prizes because it didn't qualify for the charts; Prince is barred because his album just wasn't any good. Oh, and it also missed out on chart qualification because it was given away by the Mail On Sunday.

Akon to have his day in court

Knowing Akon's habit of spinning a disaster out of the simplest tasks, the news he's going to have to appear in court over charges relating to throwing a teenager at a girl is probably simply the start in a chain reaction which will see a judge lose his trousers.

Akon denies there was "no basis" for criminal charges simply because he tossed a boy off stage into the audience and gave one of his fans a concussion.

Oberst and Ward: Together at last

Sneaked away at the bottom of a piece in the Omaha City Weekly:

Also with recording plans for the winter is Conor Oberst. Beginning in the new year, Oberst is slated to begin recording two new albums — one a solo record in Mexico (?) with Jake Bellows playing a role and another with a new band being formed with M Ward.

There are people - I can give you a list - who will be unable to sit on their seats at thought of a band featuring Conor and M.

Conor, Conor, Conor...

"Okay..." said Conor, lowering his arm, "but I wish I'd never taught you that damn safe word..."

Spice Girls in disarray, apparently

Alison Boshoff is worried about the future of The Spice Girls. This isn't based on some whim, or a desire to fill space in the Daily Mail with finger-in-the-air speculation.

Oh, no, Alison has strong evidence there's trouble at the comeback mill. She's looked at their necks:

Just before the Spice Girls officially announced their comeback, manager Simon Fuller presented each of them with a £2,500 Roulette diamond necklace from Boodles - a gold circle, to symbolise the re-making of the group into a new and perfect whole.

They put on their necklaces at the Press conference, but quite where they have got to now, it is hard to say, as they haven't been seen since.

It is ominously appropriate that each of the 'girls' has managed to misplace these symbols of harmony, for the optimism of summer has given way to the irritating grind of rehearsals, with argument after argument - including a couple of humdingers between Mel C, Geri and Victoria.

Yes. That'll be the reason they're not wearing two and a half grands worth of diamonds while they're rehearsing dance routines - it's a silent cry for help and nothing to do with that sort of necklace hardly being day-to-day wear.

Gordon Smart gurgles again

Perhaps Rebekah Wade hasn't had a chance to see what Gordon Smart is doing at Bizarre at the moment. As someone commented yesterday, under Newton it was hardly Newsnight, but at least there was some attempt to pretend there was something more to it than going "here's a person in a bikini and it's making me feel a bit wibbly in my fireman".

This morning, Gordon is bringing us Rod Stewart's daughter in a bra ad:

Ruby shows off her boobies

I’d love to be a fly on the wall during a row at the Stewart residence.

I reckon there’d be Bristols at dawn.

Well, at least he's moved on from bangers, but we're not quite sure how he thinks his pun works - does he imagine that the women who share Rod Stewart's house fight duels with their breasts? What does he mean?

Then, it's on to Rhianna, at the Bambi awards. Gordon can't find the space to say who awards the Bambis, or what they're for, or who won anything. But there's lots of room to talk about tits:
Rihanna's bust great at Bambis

RIHANNA's never one to keep her bangers undercover and what better place than to give them an airing than at a red carpet event?

The really sad thing is, the accompanying picture shows that the dress she was wearing wasn't even that revealing.

Gordon, though, also hints that he'd not mind losing his virginity to an older woman, either:
To top it off veteran actress SOPHIA LOREN made an appearance and showed she's still got what it takes to mix it up with the young wrigglers.

The young wrigglers? Do you suppose the only reason nobody with any responsibility at the Sun has taken him to one side and had a word is they imagine Gordon is using street talk?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Five years ago today

The (now late) Pope was being promised a Bryan Ferry gig;
Britney Spears quit her NYLON restaurant business before it became an embarrassment;
and Kelly Osbourne revealed some of The Osbournes was faked - without setting off a massive wave of "fake TV" stories.

Morrissey: Rumbling on

Developments in the Morrissey 'it's not that I'm racist, but...' story:

BBC News is reporting that having not got an apology from the NME, the Morrissey camp intends to sue. It's not quite clear on what grounds.

The paper, expressly, stated it doesn't believe Morrissey is racist. So there's no grounds to sue there - and even if that was the plan, who would want to go to court and argue that there's no way that a fair-minded person could construe his views on immigration as such? Is Morrissey really going to take the stand to explain Bengali In Platforms under oath?

That seems unlikely.

Tim Jonze, meanwhile, has been attempting to explain why his name was taken off the article:

Tim Jonze, the freelance journalist who interviewed Morrissey, told the BBC that he didn't approve of the singer's comments and had found them "offensive".

He said he had asked for his name to be removed from the article because it had been rewritten.

"I didn't want my name on something I hadn't written, even if some of it might have been similar to what I wrote originally," he said.

Which, of course, makes you wonder why True To You claim he emailed Mozzer's management and said the finished piece didn't chime with his "beliefs". Of course, Tim is in a very, very delicate position indeed.

Love Music Hate Racism's blog is currently featuring a post headed Morrissey promising "another statement" soon.

Oddly, this seems to have been used to replace another article which LMHR has taken down. The URL of the object includes "morrissey-needs-to-speak-out-clearly-against-racism-and-fascism", which suggests that was previously the opening salvo of the article; if you Google the URL, it brings up a page preview of the original entry, which is uncached. If you copy the preview text and Google that, it takes you to what (presumably) is the full text of the original piece on Black Information Link:
Whatever the arguments over the presentation of this latest interview, the artists’ directly quoted words are what should be criticised - and it was Morrissey himself who raised the issue of immigration in the interview. Rather than talking of suing the NME, Morrissey should be taking responsibility for those words. A wealthy man, living now in Italy and until recently in LA, he perhaps doesn’t have to think about the potential consequences of his opinions - which come across as confused and out-of-touch.

He starts with an argument that’s all too common from the mouths of racists and fascists like the BNP - that in many parts of Britain “you’ll hear everything under the sun apart from the British accent”. The ridiculous example he chooses for this scenario is London’s Knightsbridge area - hardly your typical British area. Even if this were true - which it patently isn’t - does it matter? Britain is a much better place for being such a multicultural society. When challenged that he sounds “like a Tory”- he backtracks admitting that anyone ought to have the same freedom to travel the world that he enjoys.

Later on, when it’s pointed out that it’s hypocritical for the son of Irish immigrants to scaremonger about immigration, he says “it’s different now. Because the gates are flooded … Anybody can have access to England and join in.” This is total rubbish. Around 500,000 people came into the UK last year, while 400,000 left. At the same time, asylum applications fell 8% to just over 23,000. The same year, over 73% of refugee applications were refused by the government. Many thousands of genuine refugees are also locked up in government detention centres. But when Morrissey is asked if these statements are inflammatory, he says no, “they’re a statement of fact”.

We're a little puzzled as to why LMHR took down the post. It could be because it's quirkily worded in places; maybe the organisation got cold feet - although asking for an unambiguous rejection of fascism is surely what you'd expect from the group:
Morrissey signed the founding statement of our sister campaign Unite Against Fascism - at a LMHR Libertines gig at the London Astoria in 2004, where he also signed a LMHR t-shirt. In the current NME interview he is asked directly if he supports LMHR and says “Yes .. I find racism very silly, almost to silly to discuss” - the families of racist murder victims like Anthony Walker might take issue with the idea that racism is “silly”. In the same interview he calls Jean Charles de Menezes “the face of modern Britain” and condemns Jean Charles’s murder. But if Morrissey is going to continue to make promote racist opinions in interviews - despite years of being challenged and corrected on these opinions - then he deserves to be heavily criticised. David Bowie - a Morrissey hero - flirted with fascism in the late 1970s but recanted and later gave money to an Anti Nazi League music carnival. Morrissey must similarly make it crystal clear that he’s fundamentally opposed to racism and fascism in Britain and the rest of the world today and encourage his many fans to do the same.

Well, not really, he doesn't. It would be nice if Morrissey did or said something rather than send legal threats to a newspaper which published his comments; but at the very least, perhaps he should be more careful how he words things in the first place.

Future of the Left's future plans

Future of the Left are off on tour next week, you know.

Here are the dates:

Tuesday 4th December - Manchester Club Academy
Wednesday 5th December - Leeds Faversham
Thursday 6th December - Glasgow Barfly
Friday 7th December - Nottingham Rock City
Sunday 9th December - Brighton Freebutt
Monday 10th December - London KCLSU (King's College)
Tuesday 11th December - Bristol Academy 2

And here - shot at SXSW this year - is an idea of what to expect:

Kershaw in custody

Andy Kershaw is inside again, after he admitted breaching bail conditions. He had been due in court next week following charges over a breach of a restraining order.

Warners hoped dead guy offers prospect of easy dollars

With living big stars proving to be something of a stroppy handful Warners are pinning their hopes on dead guys. They've done a deal to take on Frank Sinatra, covering his records, films, and likeness, in a joint venture with his kids.

It means we should be bracing ourselves for a range of image-destroying tat a la John Lennon toys or banana-flavoured Elvis Peanut Butter cups:

"There are very few licenses out on Sinatra besides the traditional audio and video products so the future is wide open for us to explore all possibilities in all ranges of products," Jimmy Edwards, an executive from Warner's Rhino Entertainment which will be managing the day-to-day operations.

Do-be-do-be-do shoes, perhaps.
Edwards, who declined to comment on the financial aspects of the deal or Sinatra's current worth, said Warner would continue to seek to forge deeper relationship with select artists as music companies could not survive on just CD sales.

"I think you can expect to see more deals like this, but Sinatra, a worldwide icon, is one of kind and there will never be another deal exactly like this," he said.

So, we should look out for more deals like this even although there will never be another deal like this. You wonder why Warners are in trouble, don't you?

... and ended up sleeping in the lobby

According to ContactMusic:

STEREOPHONICS frontman KELLY JONES threw his hotel key into the audience at a gig in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Tuesday (27Nov07), announcing the lucky finder was welcome to join him for a party.

It doesn't record what happened next, but we suspect an excited scramble took place amongst people keen to hoof over to the hotel and pinch Jones' suitcase and laptop before the end of the encore.

Britney: Tell me, do you like it in my hair?

In the never-ending cascade of Britney's over-the-falls-in-a-sieve lifestory, she's now accused of pulling a Winona Ryder - and, apparently, trying to pinch a wig.

The Mail's reporting of the story is a bit woolly, though:

Erratic Britney Spears has been accused of shoplifting a wig just hours after stripping down to try on a pair of briefs in an adult store in Los Angeles.

It is alleged that after an altercation with staff, the troubled singer snatched a wig off a mannequin and left without paying for it.

The incident happened in the adult shop Hustler shortly before 1am on 18 November, the American magazine Us Weekly is reporting.

But surely only the panties "incident" (although we're not quite sure that warrants description as an "incident") - presumably she didn't then return to Hustler to steal a wig?

The Mail has illustrated the story with pictures of Spears shopping at Target for some reason.

The original US magazine report suggests that, more plausibly, she stole the wig upon being asked not to try on knickers.

Geri: Have New York as a sorry

It seems that there's still a lot of bad blood in the Spice Girls camp, with Geri's screwing up of the America tour she quit before not quite fading away:

Victoria added: "When Geri left, it was really difficult for all of us. But we had the American leg of the tour to fulfil, and nothing was going to stop us from doing that. But we were devastated. The Spice Girls is about five girls."

Geri is abashed:
"I'm sorry. I'm making amends this time."

And how is Geri making amends?
"I made sure we got America in the tour schedule."

Yeah, that must have involved delicate negotiations and called for persuasiveness. Doubtless she's going to say sorry for bouncing Mel C into an eating disorder by making absolutely certain that Wannabe is on the setlist.

Brits 2008 announce plans to be "almost unwatchable"

So, the last couple of years Brit Awards have seen experienced presenters Chris Evans and Russell Brand struggling to make something entertaining out of a hotch-potch of coldcuts.

Given that it's a tough show for even sharp-witted types used to live television to marshal, it's doubly surprising that the organisers have plumped for Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne to present in 2008.

No, they really have. Since Ozzy normally behaves like he's on a ten-second delay, the wisdom of having him co-present a live TV show is debatable; presumably the bulk of the work is going to fall onto the shoulders of the unlovely Sharon. She, at least, has done some live TV work, although clearly nothing that had been seen by the people who've invited her to host this time round.

HMV embark on expensive, futile wheel-redesign

HMV is bravely pushing on with its attempt to revive its brand by building its own social-networking site, that will allow people to "connect with like-minded fans", reports PaidContentUK. This almost willful decision to ignore the existing social networks and hope that, instead, people will create new accounts on an HMV sponsored, locked-down site, would be quite touching if they weren't a public company in whose stock pension funds and insurance companies have vested your futures.

No, they really do think that despite Bebo, MySpace and Facebook all having acres and acres of chatrooms, groups, lists and widgets for people to explore all facets of their cultural life, that there's a gap in the market for an only HMV, highstreet-retailed music-DVD-games network. Heartbreaking.

Liam Gallagher explains just how relevant Oasis are to modern life

Furthering the suspicion that he might actually be living in 1968, and just dreaming that he's in 2007 - like Life On Mars, only in reverse and without the sexual allure - Liam Gallagher doesn't understand this computer thing:

"I don't get email. I wouldn't know how to do anything like that... I can get on eBay and look at things. I buy some clothes on there now and again, some instruments, bits and bobs. Nothing mad.”

Any betting he mainly buys retro stuff?

Jay-Z hides the secret messages

Jay-Z has promised that his new album is packed with all kinds of secret messages:

[The hidden references are] really for the people who like to listen like that [closely], first. And it's [also] for people to catch later.

"You know how sometimes someone says a line and you can guess the second one, where they're going? You can't guess it or can't see it [with me] - it just comes out of nowhere.

"And you might not get it ever. Or you might get it five years later."

Our expert said that he didn't spot any hidden references on the record, but he didn't have time to discus it any further as he'd been overcome with the sudden urge to go and shout obscenities at Cam'Ron.

Daily Mail misses the crux of the Morrissey interview

Of course, the Daily Mail loves nothing better than something it can call a "race row", so its coverage of the Morrissey NME interview was only to be expected. The paper, however, excels itself by managing to trample over a sensitive area without any care or attention.

You'll recall that Morrissey told the NME his main worry over the possible tone of the piece was

"I just think it could be construed that the reason I wouldn't wish to live in England is the immigration explosion."

Morrissey then went on - quite clearly - to explain there are other reasons, not least the execution of Jean Charles De Menezes, that kept him away from Britain.
So... what headline has the Mail gone with?
Morrissey 'refuses to live in the UK because of immigration explosion'

Something, expressly, that neither the NME nor Morrissey said. Good work, everybody.

Patsy Kensit is Mrs Big Leggy

Patsy Kensit has got engaged to Jeremy Healy, bringing together two 80s minor popstars in one marriage.

Here's Patsy with Eighth Wonder, doing Stay With Me at the glittery Montreux Rock Festival:

And here's Jeremy, with Haysi Fantayzee's last single release, Sister Friction:

Allen confirms 'quit' plan was false hope

The promise of Lily Allen to leave us all alone when she hits 25 has, as we suspected, turned out to be little more than a night-time puff under the duvet:

"Of course I'm not going to retire. This was the biggest joke in my life and I just cannot believe people would actually believe this junk.

"I talk crap all the time and they all know it, so how come this time they didn't get it. Silly people. I am having the best time of my life."

I don't think anyone actually did believe it, Lily. But most people thought it was "something she said and will then regret" rather than thinking it was a joke. Because... it wasn't, really, was it? Unless you have a very flat sense of humour.

Christina's pregnant pause

Talking of the naked Christina Aguilera spread for Marie Claire, we're amused by the accompanying explanation of why she didn't talk about being pregnant sooner:

"Because I hadn't said anything, people thought I was trying to keep it this big, bad secret, and that's not the case at all.

"I just wasn't commenting. I'm not being like, 'Hey, everybody, I'm pregnant!' I'm not that girl."

Which might be more convincing if she wasn't doing a calculated "look at me, I'm pregnant and naked" cover shoot for a top selling magazine.


Gordon Smart: time to rename Bizarre "Unzipped"

The growing sense that Gordon Smart's reign at Bizarre is slowly turning The Sun into a snickering back-of-the-bus read for thirteen year old boys isn't entirely helped by todasy's edition, which leads off with an "article" that consists of pictures of Jordan's breasts, headlined:

Bye to Britain's biggest bangers
Then we've got a picture of Jennifer Love Hewitt's arse - newsworthy because, um, it's a bottom, apparently.

And the Christina Aguilera naked shoot for Marie Claire has also got him all hot and sticky as well - although he does describe the shoot as "classy".

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

EMI tell RIAA: tighten your belt

We wondered aloud a while back if the new attitude brought by the motorway caterers running EMI would lead to them deciding paying a fortune to the RIAA might not be such a smart move. Well, they're not actually pulling out altogether, but Guy Hands has sent a letter to the RIAA & IFPI that would be what my father, a naval man, would call a shot across the bows.

The FT reckons that he's warned them of plans to cut the amount EMI lavishes on industry bodies by half - perhaps by merging the IFPI and the BPI.

You could save the other half, Hands, by pulling out altogether.

Lohan discovers a contract is a contract

Perhaps as if to prove the sort of difficulty that Universal is in when it comes to making shrewd decisions: They've decided to force Lindsay Lohan to deliver the third album of her contract, despite the demand for the product being so close to absolute zero it could preserve the dead back to life and the prospect of trying to handle a press-junket to promote the album being as delightful as a chance to go skinny-dipping in broken glass.

Some promises, people, it is best to just let slide.

Five years ago today

Michael Jackson said he was tired of pop;
the Backstreet Boys launched a lawsuit against their own label claiming Zomba cared more about Nick Carter going solo than making Backstreet work; and
Fred Durst came to an out-of-court settlement with the guy he hit with a micstand.

Tell 'em we're Nada Surfing

With their first date in London now sold out, Nada Surf are taking bookings for a mini-UK tour:

Tuesday 22 January – LONDON – Borderline [sold out]
Thursday 21 February – LONDON – Scala
Friday 22 February – MANCHESTER – Academy
Saturday 23 February – GLASGOW - Garage

Morrissey: the thin line between nostalgia and racism

It took many years for the NME and Morrissey to make up after the paper called him on his flag-waving, skinhead-teasing live appearance at Madstock in Finsbury Park. It seemed, though, that passing time and changes in the editorial team had smoothed over the breach. In 2004, he once again graced the cover.

So it was that Tim Jonze went off to interview Mozzer for this week's paper, expecting a fairly dull elder-statesman-of-rock-speaks piece.

That was, until Morrissey started to talk. Jonze asked about the state of the world:

"Can we help but be annoyed? Certainly in England, everyone is taxed for everything under the guise of saving the planet..."

If this sounds more like the sort of thing you'd expect to see in the Telegraph op-ed page than the NME, more is to come. Mozzer grumbles how there's "no democracy" in England, before moving on to the state of Britain:
Britain's a terribly negative place.

This from Morriseey, who has already spent three columns grumbling and moaning about everything from the way people write about him and Marr to how people carry cameras with their phones.
And it hammers people down and it pulls you back and it prevents you.

So far, he sounds a lot like those other expats who go off to live in tax exile and pretend it's a cultural rather than an economic decision, like Michael Caine.
Also, with the issue of immigration, it's very difficult because although I don't have anything against people from other countries, the higher the influx into England the more the British identity disappears. So the price is enormous. If you travel to Germany, it's still absolutely Germany [...] But to travel to England and you have no idea where you are!"


Not, of course, that he has anything against people from other countries.

He stresses that he's worried about the loss of identity and concedes that there's something "nice" about the enrichment offered by immigration ("but you have yo say goodbye to the Britain you once knew"), before worrying that, ooh, you don't hear English voices any more:
[T]he change in England is so rapid compared to the change in any other country. If you walk through Knightsbridge on any bland day of the week you won't hear an English accent. You'll hear every accent under the sunapart from the British accent.

The converstaion turns to Bengali in Platforms, which Morrissey defends again on the grounds that the song was about someone who didn't belong, "just didn't", but not because of race.

So far, then, this is what you'd expect - a rich ex-pat muttering away about immigration "diluting" a nation, complaining about how you hear funny foreign voices on the bus - it's clear that, as with Dannii Minogue's racism over lunch with GQ a few years back, although this is unpleasant, it's being offered without malice. It's the soft racism that pervaded my parent's generation - "nothing against people from overseas", it's just they're different. Xenophobia from a fear of change, and lazy scapegoating of an easy target to blame.

It's disappointing, of course, to hear this sort of hateful rubbish being trotted out - an intelligent man who complains about the British government and ruling classes and media apparently getting his worldview from the news pages of the Daily Mail. We do love, by the way, that Morrissey cites Knightsbridge as the exemplar of Britishness - hanging around outside Harrods, a shop that sucks in tourists, you would expect to hear the sound of people from overseas.

There's worse to come, though. Worried by the tenor, Jonze sought a second interview to give Morrissey room to - presumably - explain the whole thing away as a silly misunderstanding. That didn't quite happen. Explaining his reasons for accepting a chance for clarification, Morrissey starts off well:
I just think it could be construed that the reason I wouldn't wish to live in England is the immigration explosion

He does mutter on that, rather, it's the "expense" and "pressure" which keeps him away, but the mere fact that he speaks of immigration as an "explosion" rather than an ongoing, two-way process that's been happening as long as humanity have been able to build boats hints that he does see people from overseas as a problem.

Surprisingly, he then claims that the face of Britain in Jean Charles DeMenzes, and how you don't "shoot someone seven times in the head by accident". This is quite surprising - does Morrissey feel that he'd be at risk of an accidental execution if he lived in Levenshulme? Did a man who lived in LA - a place not exactly unknown for difficulties with police over-reacting - really find the prospect of Lancashire so frightening?

Sadly, the question is left hanging, as Moz is pressed on if he regrets anything he said:
In my life, my favourite actor is an Israeli, Lior Ashkenazi, and my favourite singer was born in Iraq and now lives in Egypt.

Oh, god; he really is using the "how can I be racist, I watched all of Roots and once went to see Sammy Davis Jr play" defence. Albeit slightly QI-ed up.

The NME points out that immigration helped his parents into Britain:
Yes. But once again, it's different now. Because the gates are flooded. And anybody can have access to England and join in.

Apart from being sickening - flooded? - this simply isn't true; it's the sort of ill-considered rubbish you hear BNP supporters bleating. Anybody can have access to England? Really, Morrissey? Have you ever spent any time at a immigration office? Who do you think are all those people being deported constantly?

Of course, Morrissey tries to stress that he's only being sensible - you can't let everyone come in and sit on your bed, apparently - and denies being inflammatory. He then worries he's going to be stitched up - although, if he doesn't think he's being inflammatory or offensive, why would he be worried by that?

This is clearly contentious material - indeed, Conor McNicholas feels the need to produce an editorial column to stress that, you know, Morrissey isn't racist, probably:
I'm convinced Morrissey is ultimately just a nostalgic creature who pines for the England of his youth

Oddly, though, this doesn't stop McNicholas slapping this on the coverline:
Bigmouth Strikes Again: Morrissey "The gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away" Oh dear. Not again.

- which hardly suggests that the paper sees this as just a swansong for a prewar Blighty that never existed.

Meanwhile, True To You Morrissey fanzine carries a piece by Moz manager Merck Mercuriadis, giving a Morrissey view the background to the interview. He says they'd heard NME was planning "a hatchet job":
We immediately contacted the magazine's editor Conor McNicholas who refuted the suggestion that the NME would be anything less than supportive and personally posted on the site categorically denying the "rumours and untruths."

Clearly, rather than accepting that their man wasn't hatcheted, but more slapped himself round his own head, Mercuriadis then quotes an email he claims he got from
Tim Jonze:
"Hope you're well. I should mention that for reasons I'll probably never understand, NME have rewritten the Moz piece. I had a read and virtually none of it is my words or beliefs so I've asked for my name to be taken off it. Just so you know when you read it."

And, indeed, the article does appear under a clumsy "interview: Tim Jonze words: NME" byline, which makes the first person nature of the article a little odd, to say the least.

Morrissey's management sent an email to Conor; the response - claims Mercuriadis - was deliberately delayed to avoid any legal action keeping the paper from entering distribution. The response is quoted in full on True To You, but this is pretty much the tenor:
Obviously no-one is accusing Morrissey of racism - that would be mad given what Morrissey says - but we do say that the language Morrissey uses is very unhelpful at a time of great tensions. I am - as I say in the magazine - fully confident that Morrissey's comments are simply the result of a man in his 50s looking back nostalgically on the England of his youth, but his reasoning for that change is unreasonably skewed towards immigration and as a title we think that's wrong. I think he's simply naive and doesn't understand the atmosphere here. I don't think he wishes anyone any harm but I don't think he understand the climate or the possible interpretation of his comments either.

We wonder if McNicholas actually paused to consider - given the "climate or possible interpretation of his comments" - whether running a coverline of "the gates of England are flooded. The country's been thrown away" would be helpful or not?

Mercuriadis throws himself on our mercy:
When reading it we request that you think for yourself and consider what is question and answer and what is inflammatory editorial on the part of the NME which we assume can only be intended to create controversy to boost their circulation at the expense of Morrissey's integrity and for which no journalist is willing to be credited. It might as well say "anonymous."

It's true that the NME doesn't exactly come out of this looking great - it's trying to have its 'Mozzer race row' piece while desperately stressing that it doesn't believe Morrissey is racist - but the trouble is that even if you ignore the confused editorialising in the article, well, yes, Morrissey does still come across terribly. Not calling for race riots, perhaps, but using inflammatory, ignorant language and unacceptable imagery and singling out "otherness" as being a threat to "Englishness".

It's noticeable that Mercuriadis doesn't quite have the confidence to leave it there, but feels the need to stress just how not-racist Morrissey is:
As we all know, the NME does not speak for its readership, the artists do. Artists like Morrissey. The NME also does not speak for Morrissey. Anti-racist songs such as "Irish Blood, English Heart," "America Is Not The World" and "I Will See You In Far-Off Places" tell you the true measure of the man.

Well, perhaps they do. One has that clunky bit about how we shouldn't feel racist standing by the Union flag (which sounds like the sort of thing the UK Independence Party trot out); the other two contain kneejerk anti-Americanism which - while it might be delightful to those who indulge in geopolitics by numbers - hardly is the same thing as a condemnation of racism. In fact:
And don't you wonder/ why in Estonia they say/ hey you, you big fat pig, you fat pig, you fat pig

sounds suspiciously like lazy all-Americans-are-fat stereotyping to us.

It's true, though, that he does lament there never being a "black, female or gay" president, so how could he be racist, eh?

Somewhat surprisingly, Mercuriadis signs off by publishing a letter from Mozzer's legal team to Conor - one that's covered in "not for publication"s and "strictly private and confidential"s all over it.

The legal letter insists that describing Morrissey as racist would be "malicious" - although, as we've seen, the NME bends over backwards to deny that it thinks Morrissey is racist and threatens withdrawal of planned Mozzer 7" covermount, besides other comments. It also demands McNicholas apologies to Morrissey for - apparently - having told Tim Jonze that Morrissey wouldn't want "a [black person] living next door".

It's all a bit of a nasty mess - Morrissey revealing more deeply the unpleasant side to his character and then attempting to use legal letters from this being shared; the NME trying to take two positions at the same time; and a suggestion that McNicholas apologise for something he may or may not have said in private.

No, Morrissey doesn't think he's being racist; he doesn't realise he's stirring up a hornets nest. That's what actually makes it worse.

[Thanks to Duncan for the link]

How much does it cost to adminster a podcast?

Now, we have no problems with people who make podcasts deciding they wish to be working on a commercial basis and charging a fee. What is a little odd, though, is the UK commercial radio's RadioCentre podcast pages, which offer a range of programmes charging what they call

a small administrative fee

That would be £12.75. Now, unless they're sending a bloke round your house to put the track onto your iPod for you, I'm at a bit of a loss to see how there could be £12.75 worth of administrative costs involved for every listener. If you're selling something, say so; don't pretend you're barely breaking even.

Universal CEO: The new Shmoo

Rewriting history is usually a matter for the victors, so it's a little surprising to see Universal CEO Doug Morris being given a chance to try to address the perception that the record industry didn't see digital coming.

He tells Wired that the music industry knew what was about to happen, it just didn't know what to do:

Morris insists there wasn't a thing he or anyone else could have done differently. "There's no one in the record company that's a technologist," Morris explains. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me."

The mental image - of a bunch of guys in suits gathered round a boardroom, hearing the sound of the future but afraid to do anything about it because they didn't have anyone with the skills to help, and incapable of even developing a strategy which could find someone who had those skills.

Seriously, this man is meant to be in charge of a major international company, and he's asking for sympathy that he felt incapable of popping an advert in a newspaper to hire someone to look at their digital strategy? Are we to assume that the secretarial services at Universal are still provided using Remingtons, card files and carbon paper because - you know - those computer guys could be offering "a good bullshit story."

Morris is doing the rounds to try and promote Total Music - the desperate attempt to break iTunes' growing dominance in the US music retail scene by 'persuading' mp3 player and phone manufacturers to bundle a prepaid subscription with their product. Morris only wants to see the artists paid, you understand:
"Our strategy is to have the people who create great music be paid properly," he says. "We need to protect the music. I know that."

He doesn't actually mean artists, though. He means the men in the boardrooms.

Morris believes his industry has become something of a... well, a Shmoo:
"There was a cartoon character years ago called the Shmoo," he says in a raspy tenor. "It was in Li'l Abner. The Shmoo was a nice animal, a nice fella, but if you were hungry, you cut off a piece of him and put onions on it, and if you wanted to play football you just made him like a football. You could do anything to him. That's what was happening to the music business. Everyone was treating the music business like it was a Shmoo."

The music business is, indeed, like the Shmoo. The Shmoo last appeared in 1977 and has been a fading memory ever since.

But that's not what he means:
"It was only a couple of years ago that we said, What's going on here?' Really, an album that someone worked on for two years — is that worth only $9, $10, when people pay two bucks for coffee in Starbucks?"

Now, there's an interesting question - the answer, sadly for Morris, is 'probably, yes, even more so now'.

Coffee is a product which you can only sell once - you grow a bunch of beans, you grind them, you sell the coffee - having first shipped the beans halfway around the world. Starbucks also runs a huge chain of coffee shops, with all the costs that that implies, and with - pretty much - only the sales of coffee to make the cash back on.

When you make a record, you do the work once, and can sell the results over and over again. CDs are sold in stores where they're - most often - not the main product being sold and so don't have to bear the weight of the retail network.

Looking at it from the other side, there was some research a few years back which showed the average CD in the US got played less than once. Even if we assume that things have got better, and lets say each CD is played twice before being discarded, a large coffee from Starbucks will give probably about half an hour of enjoyment; a new CD possibly a couple of hours. That seems to suggest that coffee drinkers are paying $4 an hour for pleasure; CD purchasers $4.50-$5. Seems fair to us.

But Morris doesn't just deal in coffee metaphors - oh no:
All the sharing of the music, right? Is it correct that people share their music, fill up these devices with music they haven't paid for? If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go," he says. "That's what happened to the record business."

A chilling image. The trouble is, of course, that people get water coming through their taps, and yet the bottled water industry is worth $5 billion in the US alone. A large chunk of it - funnily enough - sold by the Coca-Cola Company. You can sell a product that people have on stream, providing it's delivered in a form which offers convenience and a pleasant experience. Perhaps if Morris spent more time thinking about how the Coca-Cola company has built a sizeable business selling something that people can get for free from their taps, and learned the lessons, he wouldn't be watching his company go down the plughole.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Sitting on Kylie

Everyone these days does the pants and perfume cash in, but Kylie has her eyes on another part of Debenhams not yet knee-deep in pop-star endorsed tat - she's bringing out a range of housewares:

"I have some homeware coming out.

"Not curtains - bed linens, throws and cushions. I haven't made it to pots yet. You can have leopard-print ones. I mean, let's inject a bit of fun."

Yes. Let's inject fun. Because I don't know about you, when I find myself in the soft furnishings section of John Lewis, all I can see is the screaming misery of the ages. But why can't she bring fun to curtains as well? I mean, why can't we inject fun to the drapes, too, Kylie?

Gordon Smart: It's not all about breasts, you know

Oh, no. Gordon might seem obsessed with what he calls - with all the grace of a sexually paranoid fifteen year-old - "crackers", but he has other interests, you know.

Arses, to be exact.

His big story this morning is, erm, a pair of pictures of what he claims are the Hilton sister's butts.

Of course, you can't just print photos of bottoms. You need to have a news angle.

Who said the sisters were just a couple of bums?

Oh, apparently you don't.

Still, he's got the story about Robbie Williams going to Amsterdam. Like the Mirror had the day before.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Winehouse: That's all, folks...

BBC News is reporting that Amy Winehouse has cancelled all planned gigs and appearances for the rest of the year, after (apparently) her doctor prescribed 'complete rest'.

Presumably it's easier to refund everyone before they turn up and get angry at the box office instead of after.

Something to listen to: The Travelling Library Service

New pop thrills: The theme from Sorry, Ronnie Corbett's sitcom about a mentally ill adult being slowly smothered by his mother, has been discoed up by Kick And The Teeth.

It'll refresh memories of feeling slightly uneasy on Thursday evenings wondering why his friend with the motorbike didn't ever think to contact social services.

[via Digicreamtimes]

Don't call it a comeback... because it isn't, yet

There's been a lot of excitement over Jermaine Jackson's suggestion to 6Music that there might be a new Jacksons tour. DigitalSpy went with this headline:

Jermaine confirms Jackson 5 reunion

Really? What did he say?
"Michael will be involved. We want to tour. We want to touch the lives of everybody who’s bought our records and supported us.

"It will probably start [in America] first, but it will be sometime in 2008. That’s our plan.”

So, that would be more "Jermaine suggests possible Jacksons reunion, maybe", surely?

It's not clear who the tour will actually be touching: those who bought the records are now grown up and have children of their own, so they'll be reluctant to turn up for Michael; there would certainly be that hardcore of Jackson fans in attendance - at last, a way of Michael to shake 'em down for some cash after constantly having to turn up for PAs outside courtrooms for free. But do the rest of the boys really want to turn up to effectively stand in the shadows of the "I believe you didn't do it" Jacko show? Is the money they'd want going to be covered by the hardcore audience?

We wouldn't want to invest on that hunch.

Damon Albarn to edit Today

It's the most wonderful time of the year, when Radio 4 announces who's going to take the job of guest editor for the Today programme during the period when everyone's lying in and so nobody much is listening.

Chris Moyles, who'd have thought it?

Alright, he's not. But this year, alongside Peter Hennesey, Stella Rimmington and "members of the Dyfed Powys Police Force", Damon Albarn will be doing a stint.

They've had Radiohead, Ono and Bono, so clearly they're working their down some sort of "politically connected/pop culture figure" list. At this rate, it's going to be Tim Gane getting his turn in about 2013.

We think this makes Albarn the first person to ever guest edit both the NME and Today, which might be handy to know if you ever find yourself at an especially dull pub quiz.

Shins shillers

Nice spot by Chris Albrecht at GigaOm: apparently both the Zune and iPhone/iPod are using The Shins in a bid to attract sale. Clearly, the band were keen to ensure everyone knows their music is available across a range of platforms and devices, and aren't just, you know, like whorish or anything.

New radio ratings system doesn't work

The Arbitron system for radio audience measurement - which is being trialled at the moment in London - appears to have acknowledged that it's having trouble reflecting actual audience figures:

The Arbitron chairman, president and chief executive officer, Steve Morris, said the company remained "confident in the audience estimates that the Portable People Meter [PPM] service is producing".

"However, over the past three weeks, feedback from our customers, the media rating council and other constituencies has led us to conclude that the radio industry would be better served if we were to delay further commercialisation of the PPM in order to address their issues," Morris added.

So, erm, it's confident that the system works, but needs time to... what, exactly? Either the system provides an accurate estimation of radio audiences, or it doesn't, surely?

And the chances are that it doesn't, as the sudden drop in audiences for black stations in New York suggested. Something that Morris tacitly accepts:
"We also plan to use the additional time to work closely with community leaders to review the workings of the Portable People Meter service and to gather their insights as to how we might improve compliance among persons 18 to 34, including young adults from ethnic minorities, across the diverse communities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and subsequent markets."

You'll notice the word "compliance" there, as if - somehow - black and Hispanic listeners aren't obeying the law by refusing to wear audience-measurement devices. Given that the members of the sample are doing the company a favour, Arbitron might find they have more success in their efforts if they stopped using "compliance" in favour of "assistance", "favours" or something similar.

It's still hard to understand how a company can admit that sizeable ethnic groups are, at best, under-represented in its sampling and yet remain "confident" in its audience figures. Arbitron - or just arbitrary?

Robbie Williams is not reliably represented by RSS

Our eyebrows shot off our face when we got this through our RSS feeds this morning:

Robbie Williams gets hairy
from 3AM Girls
Grungey singer takes a trip to Amsterdam with mystery brunette - and new beard.

The story confirms that they're just talking about 'a grim facial growth'.

The pair - Williams and brunette, not Williams and beard - were enjoying the Dutch capital, home of the Rembrandthuis, site of Anne Frank's House and the wonderful collection of art in the Rijksmuseum. Or, as the 3AM Girls would have it:
the notorious sex and drugs capital of Europe.

Richard Littlejohn: It's not easy being a gay rights champion

You'll recall a couple of months ago Richard Littlejohn announcing what a big supporter of gay rights he was, calling on his unexpected love of Tom Robinson's Glad To Be Gay as evidence:

Although I draw the line at cottaging - casual sex in public toilets - it struck me as absurd that what Tom Robinson called "pretty policemen" were being sent to entrap men into propositioning them.

So, Littlejohn's position is clear: he doesn't think its right that cops be sent into toilets to entrap cottagers.

So why does he keep banging on - or, possibly, banging off - thinking about George Michael in that toilet? If he doesn't approve of entrapment, why does he keep dragging up George Michael falling victim to a pretty policeman being sent in? Littlejohn raised it at the end of his earlier piece, and today - in an article where the hateful little man suggests raping children, Fred West's crimes, consensual extreme sex and cottaging are all moral equivalents - he returns to those toilets again:
When George Michael was arrested for exposing himself in a public toilet, he made a video mocking the police. We were invited to treat it as one big joke.

It's like Littlejohn knows he shouldn't keep going back, but he just can't stop picturing it in his head, like some sort of compulsion.

Richard trots out his 'ha, see, I'm not homophobic' get-out again:
No one ever satisfactorily answered my question at the time: what if he'd done it in the Ladies?

The reason why nobody has ever answered the question, Dickie, is because it's a pointless question. What if a gay man had been caught cruising for sex in a women's a toilet? Why would he? Or do you simply mean 'what if George Michael had got his penis out in a ladies?' - but that's a totally different type of crime; you might as well ask 'what if he'd been double-parked during rush hour'. Generally, if you're a man who finds the sight of another bloke's penis disturbing, you probably wouldn't be in a public toilet in the first place, what with the tendency of blokes to get them out while in there.

The thing about cottaging is, while it might make some people feel uncomfortable - especially if you're British, having to politely murmur "it's very flattering, but... no, actually all I wanted was a wee..." can be so very awkward - it's consensual and, if you're not looking for it, chances are you'll never be aware it's going on in the first place. Which is why they have to send those pretty policemen in in the first place, Richard.

Cinema breathes again: No Spiceworld 2

Good news for the British film industry - there won't be a Spice Girls Movie this time round.

Not for the reasons that you or I might imagine, to do with how the first one turned out. Oh, no:

Mel B says: "We had so much fun, I don't think we could top it."

Also, we suspect the idea of hanging round Pinewood for hours on end - with each other - might not be so attractive.

Gordon finds his feet

Still, lets be fair to Gordon, it's his first proper day and he probably had to balance writing the column with trying to price a three-bedroom semi-detached in Ruislip,so what else does he have?

Pictures of Jordan's breasts (sorry, "bangers", a word that Smart seems determined to make his own); someone has sent him a photo of Dannii Minogue wearing a tshirt and Amy Winehouse has a secret love of wrestling.



Now, if ever a story sounds like someone ringing up the Smartline - 020 7782 4036, according to the desperate plea for stories at the top of the page - and making something up for shits and grins, Amy Winehouse's love of WWE would be it, but let's assume that it's a true story. You or I might have given it a small, Sunspot style nib at the bottom. Gordon, though, has seized it with both hands, and gone to the extent of imagining what Amy would be like if she was a wrestler. Trained by, erm, Pete Doherty.

Gordon Smart unravels Allen's health kick

Lily Allen, we discover from Gordon Smart's new Bizarre world is getting fit following a heart murmur:

"I found out about three months ago. I have been asthmatic all my life but this was really quite scary.

"When they asked me how much exercise I did, I had to be honest and say hardly any.

"Now I make sure I work out three times a week. And I don’t hold back — it’s a hardcore routine in the gym."

Well, there we are - we wondered if young Gordon was up to the job, but here he's gone out and got an old-fashioned, flat-footed scoop. Did it take you long to pull the stroy together, Gordon?
She told a magazine: "I haven’t done this because I want to be some skinny minnie."

Oh... so... erm, you read it in a magazine.


Still, the headline must be yours, Gordon?
Lily: I got fit after being so illy

Yes. We think that's probably your contribution. "Illy"?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Metalobit: Kevin DuBrow

The death has been announced of Kevin DuBrow, singer with Quiet Riot.

Born in California, but growing up influenced by British rock acts, in 1973 DuBrown joined Randy Rhoad's band Quiet Riot. The name, according to DuBrow, came from a conversation witj Rick Parfitt in which Parfitt suggested 'Quite Right' would be a great name for a band. But then, Parfitt was in a band called Status Quo.

The band didn't survive Rhoads' departure to join Ozzy Osbourne at the end of the 70s, with DuBrow forming a group which traded under his own surname for a while. The death of Rhoads in 1982 gave DuBrow the impetus to revive the Quiet Riot name - the record label suggested that it might be a good marketing move; and so it proved. Metal Health became the first debut metal album to make number one in the US.

The flaw was that the band struggled to be greater than the sum of its influences: both their key hits were covers of Slade songs, Cum on Feel the Noize and Mama Weer All Crazy Now. The frustrations of trying to coin something as memorable are sometimes blamed for DuBrow's erratic behaviour; something of a liability and with a reputation for mouthing off, eventually he was fired from his own band during a date in Hawaii.

DuBrow then launched another band, Heat, which once again morphed into another version of Quiet Riot. DuBrow was still touring with a line-up of the band this autumn.

[Update: Metal Health, not Mental Health. Thanks to - cough - Karl T's "friend" for pointing that out]

Casey Calvert: Asthma blamed

Further to the news at the weekend of the death of Hawthorne Heights guitarist Casey Calvert, Billboard are reporting that the probable cause of death was an acute asthma attack.

[Casey Calvert obituary]

Those who forget Julian Lennon are condemned to repeat the past

Paul McCartney is working to bring his son James into the music industry:

"I'm actually doing some recording with my son. We're just looking at the idea of him making an album. He's doing it all. He's writing it all, laying it all. It's sensational."

We're not quite sure what's left for Paul to do, then, apart from interest the media in the project. Playing to his strengths, then.

Simon Cowell lookalike not delighted at similarities

Adam Davies was having a quiet drink in a Welsh pub when in walked Anthony Calvert. Davies - perhaps emboldened by his quiet drink - noticed that Calvert bore a slight resemblance to Simon Cowell, and decided to point out the similarity.

It didn't go down well:

"I made a jest about him looking like Simon Cowell. I don't know why - it was just a bit of a joke.

"Then he punched me five times. I was just shocked and I didn't see it coming at all."

So, not like Cowell at all, then - he'd have made a prescripted remark first.

Actually, Calvert looks less like Cowell and more like Peter Mandelson and Ian Hislop's lovechild. But we're not going to tell him that.

Magistrates have found Calvert guilty of actual bodily harm; he'll be sentenced next month.

Evanescence send sicknote

Flu like symptoms hospitalised 'some' members of Evanescence and their entourage at the weekend, leading to cancellation of the Denver date on their current plastic-goth tour of the US.

Charmlessly, they're not going to bother rescheduling.

Wheels off Winehouse tour again

Quick, Daily Telegraph writers - you're going to be needed to trot out some more pieces about how, if you pay to see Amy Winehouse, you'd better not complain: her third night at the Hammersmith Odeon hasn't gone down entirely well:

In developments which have started to alienate even her most loyal fans, the singer:

* Locked herself in her hotel room after a 48-hour bender and refused to go to the venue;

* Was booed after a shambolic set which didn't start till 10.15pm; Slurred her way through the songs, with many fans leaving early and demanding refunds;

* Snubbed her support act.

Now, the "snubbing her support act" is one of those bits that should have been left out of the article, but we suppose once the Mirror;s unnamed journalist had put in the first two developments, he or she didn't know how to switch off the automatic bulletpointing so had to pull in the not-entirely-heinous crime of not hanging out with the support act to round off the list.

They were quite upset, though:
A member of Bryn Christopher's band claims: "Amy always throws parties backstage but we're not allowed to go. It's hurtful."

Frankly, we'd be delighted to take the opportunity to nip off home early and catch the start of Newsnight, but that could be just us.

Lily Allen quits music - eventually

The threat to quit music when she reaches 25, made by Lily Allen, apparently, sounds like the sort of insistence many people make when 25 seems ages and ages away. By 25, we had planned to running the world's first seahorse farm and that never happened.

No, what's fascinating about Allen's reported comment is that, while she intends to do three more years as a pop star, she only intends to produce one more album in that time. Now, don't get us wrong - the less work Allen does, the happier we are - but two albums in a five year-career? Tupac Shakur is more prolific than that, and he's been dead a decade. Is she worried she might not be able to keep up the quality if she did more than an album every thirty months?

Chain again: JAMC confirm new album

Not only does 2008 hold out the prospect of new stuff from the Valentines, but that other candy-and-barbed-wire outfit, the Jesus and Mary Chain, will also be flinging out a new album:

The siblings are now whittling down dozens of new songs to 12 or so for the new album. They performed one track, "All Things Must Pass," this summer on "Late Show With David Letterman," and will appear early next year on the soundtrack to the hit NBC drama "Heroes." Another, "Dead End Kids," has been a fixture in the band's recent live sets.

"I would say it's an evolution," [William] Reid says of the new material, which he and his brother wrote separately. "It definitely sounds like the Mary Chain, but I guess you evolve as a person and a writer. You can't really stand still. If you do that, you're lost."

Here's that Letterman appearance, to help you decide if this is good news, or just last knockings:

Police called to end festival

No, no, the headline isn't anything to do with the regular meltdowns of public order at the end of the Leeds festival; it's about Sting who will be dragging the now-overstaying Police reunion to offer some sort of climax to the Isle of Wight Festival next summer:

"It's a coup to get The Police," said promoter John Giddings. "We're very happy to have the biggest tour of the last two years stopping by."

That's the biggest tour of the last two years if you don't count The Rolling Stones tour. Or Madonna's 2006 jaunt.

Faulkner's mouth

Neil McCormick met with singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner for the Telegraph (apparently he hates being called a singer-songwriter, which is probably fair enough as most people only seem interested in his cover of Teardrop.

Neil was excited to meet someone who he feels came up under the radar:

Faulkner is Britain's latest word-of-mouth musical sensation. Relentless touring and a growing internet fan base propelled his debut album, Hand Built By Robots, to number one for two weeks in July.

Yes, his sales are driven by word-of-mouth: people gathering at watercoolers and saying "have you heard that bloke who's got the Sony BMG marketing department behind him on Jo Wylie's show over and over again?"

And what scoop does Gordon have first?

As Gordon admits, it's same old, same old:

ALL change on Bizarre but it’s the same old routine for GIRLS ALOUD.

CHERYL COLE with hubby ASHLEY COLE gazumped Kim with the best outfit. You can’t deny she has cracking bangers.

Now, when Victoria used to run upskirts and downtops, it was nasty but at least there was the pretense that this was a "hey, girl, you forgot your pants", girl-to-girl fashion emergency service. Gordon Smart running a picture of a woman without a bra on going "cracking bangers" has the uncomfortable feeling of a drunk uncle peering down tops at a family gathering. It's really seedy.
In the spirit of introducing myself – here’s my Girls Aloud order (no explanation needed): Chezza, NADINE, NICOLA, Kimberley and SARAH.

Oh, classy, Gordon. Will we also get the order in which you'd fuck Take That?

Welcome, Gordon Smart

And so the Sun rises on a new era, with Gordon Smart taking over the controls at the paper's Bizarre column.

Hey... he's called Gordon, and you know who else is called Gordon?

Yes, yes, the "moron" in Jilted John's hit, but you know who else?

Yes, the Prime Minister. But it's not a thought they'd push, is it?

Prime Minister of showbiz ... new man Gordon

Oh. They are.
Read Gordon's manifesto

And push it, and push it.
WE are both Scottish and called Gordon – but that’s where the similarities between the Prime Minister and me end.

Well, yes. Gordon Brown doesn't look like he's one of the guys who turn up at the end of Homes Under The Hammer saying "I would value this property at £137,000...", for a start.

Still, the slight idea of hanging his launch column on a wan joke based on having the same name as the current incumbent of Number 10 over, what does... oh, he hasn't finished with it yet:
Forget his political manifesto (just like he has) . . . here are the Bizarre foundations under the new regime.

"Just like he has!" - ha ha! You can tell Gordon's a safe pair of hands, as he felt confident to leave off the "(SATIRE)" warning.

And, yes, Gordon does then fill a page with what he believes to be a something like a manifesto:
IMMIGRATION: PARIS HILTON, LINDSAY LOHAN and Johnny Foreigner of equally limited talent are welcome on Bizarre on condition they are:

a) Little wrigglers and appear almost naked.

b) Misbehaving.

c) Making mugs of themselves.

d) Doing all the above. Otherwise, stay in rehab in America moaning about how you can’t handle your ale.

"Ale"? "Johnny Foreigner"? Where did Gordon spend his gap year - with Noel Coward? And what the hell is a little wriggler?
HEALTH: The Caners League continues. All celebrities, nonebrities and musicians are actively encouraged to get tanked up and cause high jinks.

We wonder if - while Gordon was chuckling over the thought of encouraging people to drink too much, did he bother to read his own paper? Only Rebekah's editorials seem to send out the opposite message:
It hit a nerve with decent families who worry when their children go out that they might not return alive.

They worry about round-the-clock access to strong, ever-cheaper booze and the pressure on youngsters to drink themselves stupid.

...again and again:
Cheap alcohol fuels the violence. Yet as a society we accept alcopops, booze marketed specifically at kids, and we regard binge-drinking as a bit of a joke.

Can the front of the paper really complain that young people are encouraged to drink themselves stupid and binge-drinking is seen as a joke when its showbiz editor is, erm, encouraging people to drink themselves stupid and regards binge-drinking as a bit of a joke?
EDUCATION: Hear about new bands, comedians, actors and characters on Bizarre first. The next OASIS, PETER KAY and JAMES McAVOY will be unveiled by this new regime.

That's a major break with the past, as those three would have been unveiled by the NME, The Sunday Show and Stephen Fry, of course.
PENSIONERS: Wrinkly rockers deserve respect – you are held in high esteem for your services to showbiz. The creases are a reward for riding life ’til the wheels came off. I will keep you legends alive . . .

Yes, nothing says "I respect your lifetime of achievement" like calling someone a "wrinkly rocker". We presume the "I will keep you legends alive" was a typo, and Gordon is promising to write about their tiresome antics rather than offering to pop down to give Keith Richards emergency treatment the next time he falls out a tree.
ECONOMY: I will adopt the Northern Rock approach to finance – plenty of £££s in the bank for your stories.

Aha. So, he's not like Labour - with the seedy passing of brown envelopes stuffed full of cash, the Prime Minister of Showbiz is in the mould of the John Major government.

Welcome, Gordon. Best of luck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hewitt comes to bury Weller, not to praise him

Paolo Hewitt has carved out quite a niche for himself over the years, writing official Jam biographies and collaborating with Paul Weller, but it appears that the Mod Boswell has fallen out with his Johnson. The Mail gleefully previews the latest Weller book from Hewitt - The Changing Man - which shows signs of having been written after the pair fell out at the start of 2006:

"After lunch one day, Simon Halfon (his designer) gave Paul and me a lift in his 1967 Mustang," Hewitt remembers.

"I was sitting in the back, Paul and Simon up front. Simon, who was driving, turned on the car radio. 'Turn that shit off,' Paul snapped.

"'For God's sake,' Simon shouted back, "it's you, you idiot."

"And it was. It was his song The Changing Man."

To be fair, the stripped down demos that finally got a release a couple of years ago showed that the official releases at that time had been totally overproduced - maybe it's fair that Weller didn't recognise his own works.

Hewitt appears to suggest that many of Weller's problems might be down to the drugs:
After his marriage broke up, Weller began dabbling in drugs.

"It was the beginning of a period in his life characterised by a regular ingestion of chemicals," says Hewitt.

"Until then he had steered clear of them.

"He had tried Ecstasy once - he took a quarter of a pill on New Year's Eve 1990 at a club in Paddington and nibbled on my ear for five minutes. But it was only in the mid-Nineties when, as the Blur musician Damon Albarn so succinctly put it, 'a blizzard of cocaine descended on London' that Paul really turned his attention to chemicals.

"Cocaine was his thing, as it was for many others."

... and also, erm, Malcolm McDowell:
Weller usually abhorred violence, according to Hewitt, but he was also fascinated by it.

"I remember one day asking him what he'd got up to the night before and him replying that he had watched A Clockwork Orange 'for the millionth time'. Then he added, 'I got to stop watching it,' as if he was deriving some kind of unhealthy pleasure from it.

"There is a mean streak in Paul that in part mirrors the film's main character, Alex, and his violent tendencies."

Hewitt's reluctant to reveal what the falling-out was about, but it was bad enough to turn hagiographer into character hitman.