Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poor Soulja Boy insists he's misunderstood

Soulja Boy is worried we'll get the wrong idea about him:

"They've got it all wrong. People like to say my songs are sexual and that really gets to me," he told Hot TV magazine. "That could hurt my reputation and affect the future of my career. People are just misinterpreting the lyrics."


Here's the first verse of Soulja's Blow My Booty Hoe. We shan't pass any judgement, lest we skew your opinion one way or another:
im lookin fo misses supa sweet
im mr booty meat i wanna sket sket sket (oh)
between yo teeth hoes call me soulja boy cause my dick so large
i can fuck you from da back
in da middle of da yard hoe
im fo real naw dis shit aint fake
happy birthday bitch
come get yo bithday cake
i know what i mean
i aint make no mistakes
let me hit it from da back
den we head to da place

It's absurd that people might think "I've got a massive cock and can fuck you from the back of the garden" could be interpreted in a sexual way. How twisted people can be, eh?

Soulja also worries that the whole calling women "hoes" might reflect badly on him, making him look like a prick or something:
"That's how I was raised, but it's not something I'm proud of," he explained. "Since I've been in the music industry I've learnt from older people that it's not good to talk like that. I'm more careful now."

Oddly, though, having learned that calling women hoes is deeply unpleasant - and you can see why it might take a while for that to occur - Soulja has yet to have any regrets about the second verse of that tune, and in particular this bit:
i will rape dat hoe man
we ready to go satrt da car
and we gon go bitch wanna
go den she can go
when she get to my house
imma fuck dat hoe

Presumably he's yet to meet someone old enough to explain that promising to rape women isn't anything to be proud of, either.

Catatonia Bank Holiday: Lost Cat

An early promo video now:

[Part of the Catatonia Bank Holiday]

Manson tries to hide how much he's taken fans for

He might like to shock people with, ooh, his eyeliner and stuff, but there's one shock that Marilyn Manson doesn't want to spring on people: just how much cash he's made from dressing up like a Target Halloween demon every day.

He's trying to stop the legal team representing disgruntled former goth-in-arms Stephen Bier from forcing financial details into the public realm as part of their bid to claw back some earnings:

"A protective order is necessary to protect the confidentiality of that information against competitors and from the media and to preclude the plaintiff from using Manson's confidential information for improper purposes," the motion states.

Bier's response misses the point a little:
"Manson lives his life in the public eye," a filing opposing the defense's motion states. "He communicates frequently with the press regarding his personal affairs, openly discusses his frequent drug use, his failed marriage with burlesque model Dita Von Teese, his current relationship with actress Evan Rachel Wood, and his wild, rock 'n' roll lifestyle."

He also drinks absinthe and openly discusses his friends' and band members' sexual proclivities, as well, Bier claims.

We've not quite been able to puzzle out why drinking absinthe means that everyone has, automatically, a right to see your bank statements.

Not-Jello quits Kennedys

The never-quite-satisfying post-Biafra Dead Kennedys have got a problem this morning, with Jeff Penalty quitting the band.

Although we've never really thought much of his attempts to be mimic Jello, we have to be honest: his departure is every bit as bitter and noisy as Biafra's original split with the group:

It's likely that, if asked, the band will attribute my departure to scheduling conflicts brought about by my documentary work, but in reality it's a tediously long story involving personality conflicts, creative differences, arguments about splitting money equally, arguments about how the band should be run, arguments about the wisdom of hiring a band manager whose other star client was a Christian folk artist, arguments about whether we should or shouldn't go on MTV, and arguments about many other wretched things.

"I thought about quitting numerous times over the past year, but I officially did so on Thanksgiving when I found out that the band had been recruiting a new singer behind my back and had even played a secret show with one at a bar in my neighborhood.”

It's that last little detail - not just playing a show with a replacement, but doing it round the corner from his house - that we think really shows the Kennedys in their warmest, truest light.

Houseparty mum no longer blames Tong, Mail grudgingly admits

Considering all the trumpeting the press made when Pete Tong was being blamed for the Bovey Tracey gatecrashed party, it's surprising how little attention has been given to Rebecca Brooks realisation that the problem lay elsewhere. You have to scroll quite a way down the the Daily Mail's latest story to discover this:

Rebecca says: "I did blame Pete Tong at first, though now I realise that it was internet social networking that is the real culprit. It's incredible. I am struggling to comprehend the power of it."

Of course, there's a suspicion that the Mail is running the story again for one reason, and one reason only. Can you spot what it is?
Her mansion was trashed and her daughter paraded as a dominatrix
Standing there in her PVC dominatrix dress, thigh-length boots and whip, Sarah was completely helpless.
Rebecca dismisses criticism of Sarah dressed as a dominatrix, saying it was only a 'costume'
Sarah has been stung by comments that she is attention-seeking (that dominatrix outfit)
"I wore a nun's habit at my 16th party, so it seemed a nice contrast to dress up like a dominatrix," she explains.
"As for dressing like a dominatrix, it was a costume for goodness sake. I thought she looked great."
It was all too much for Sarah, who was feeling the full weight of responsibility on her scantily-clad shoulders.

Not, of course, that the Mail is obsessed with an 18 year-old girl dressed up as a dominatrix or anything. It runs a picture of her in the outfit, too, just so that readers who might have missed the mention that she was wearing a PVC outfit in the article itself.

Darkness at 3AM: Mika at risk

Worrying news from the Mirror:

[Mika] has been forced to step up security after receiving some dodgy death threats from over-zealous fans.

Yes, it's worrying. Mika still has fans? Surely his career has gone off for a bit of a sit-down with the Scissor Sisters and The Darkness, hasn't it?

We know about this because Mika is assuring us that earth weapons cannot harm him:
"I'm absolutely fine - don't worry about me - I'm not scared."

That's good. We can all sleep a little more safely now, then. Although increasing security would suggest you're a little scared, wouldn't it?

Meanwhile, 3AM's obsession with treating former members of Blue like they're actually part of the pop world continues. Simon Webbe is preparing a third album by, erm, not eating individual fruit pies:
"It's all about the Mr Kiplings for me. They rock my world. But I've got to give them up."

Man stops eating fruit pies prior to promoing unwanted third album. Hold that front page.

Catatonia Bank Holiday: Nothing Hurts

It's still the Bank Holiday weekend, so a spot more Catatonia. This is Nothing Hurts, from the 1998 Hootenanny. (Note to Daily Mail: this isn't streaming live.)

[Part of Catatonia Bank Holiday]

Gordon in the morning: The new sudoku

It's interesting to note that the Sun's Heather Mills coverage over the last couple of days, which has historically been co-posted under the Bizarre heading online, hasn't been shared with Gordon's column. Which is odd, you'd have thought he'd have liked having something about a person with a porn past on his part of the website.

In the paper, the lead is claims that Lily Allen got asked to not sing Fulham songs in the West Ham director's box, after having had a bit too much pre-match hospitality. Gordon's source tuts:

She was singing Fulham chants really loudly and her language was not suitable for a football match these days.

These days. As in 'since football became too expensive for the riff-raff', presumably.

Gordon also has a probably-baseless story about Blake begging Amy for money for drucks via some sort of third-party bank account - although, unusually for the Bizarre column, there's actually a sourced comment to back this one up:
Pentonville’s security chief Andy Watts has written to Blake’s solicitors warning: “There is strong and supported intelligence he is involved in attempting to smuggle drugs into the prison.”

Goodness. We bet they had to send someone off to the reporter's desk to ask how you phrase it when you're not making up keeping the source of quote anonymous.

No word of how Gordon has become privy to a letter from Pentonville to a solicitor, you'll note. Perhaps the security of the prison isn't all it should be.

For the Bank Holiday weekend, though, there's a special online feature:
Match star to the push-up bra

No, really.

We're pretty certain number five is Gordon himself, but we didn't want to look too closely.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Velvet Revolver: You're all fired

There's a possibility that Velvet Revolver might be calling it a day: Scott Weiland told the Glasgow audience last night that this was the last tour - shortly before having a hissy fit. A blog posting by drummer Matt Sorum today didn't add very much beyond alluding to Weiland's bad mood and some hopeful Bad Newsisms:

"Everybody could see who was unhappy last night, but all I can say is let's keep the rock alive, people!!!! In this life, you just pick up and keep moving. And don't ever let anybody stand in your way."

Four exclamation points, you'll note. That's convincing, that is.

You'll be seeing a lot of Beth Ditto on MTV

Thrilling news in a press release from The Gossip - who seem to have dropped the 'the' definitively now. They're hooking up with MTV:

Gossip has been selected as a featured artist in MTV's "52/52" campaign in conjunction with the release of "Gossip - Live In Liverpool." "52/52" is a brand new way for the channel to give unprecedented exposure to unsigned artists, indie bands, and established acts on major labels in a completely new and innovative way.

And what does that mean, exactly?
MTV handpicks one band/artist per week for the entire year and gives them the equivalent of roughly 11 hours of on-air commercial time per week on the channel. Performances, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage with Gossip will air throughout the group's "52/52" spots.

So... that would be like advertising, then, would it? Is that entirely so innovative? Didn't choosing bands and playing their stuff used to be the mission of MTV?

Yes, this does all hang around the release of a live album, which does give the impression that they have run out of ideas completely. It's got Standing In The Way Of Control on it, you know.

Call the cops: Policewoman reveals first glimpse

Some more Good Friday joy over on MySpace: Joan As Policewoman is streaming the first single from this summer's new album.

Catatonia Bank Holiday: I Am The Mob

More Catatonia; more festival footage - this is I Am The Mob from the 1999 Reading Festival:

[Part of Catatonia Bank Holiday]

Daily Mail reveals 'woman looks slightly older than when she was younger'

We're not quite sure why it surprises the Daily Mail that people get older, but it does seem to think that it is worthy of comment. Today, the paper sneers at Kim Wilde for not coming up to their exacting standards:

she doesn't look quite as glamorous as she did back in her chart-topping the Eighties

Apart from being gratuitously unpleasant, it's not even true: Kim carries her age with as much grace as she carried her youth; you can even tell that in the side-by-side photos the paper has helpfully captioned:
The rock chick looked virtually unrecognisable from her days as a popstar as she stepped out without make-up, compared to her edgier look in 1983

What the caption doesn't point out is that the 'today' shot is a snatched long-lens shot while she was out shopping without make-up and the 1983 picture is a studio portrait with, we suspect, a spot of post-production run over it.

Kim Wilde deserves a bit more respect, Daily Mail.

Catatonia Bank Holiday: What Have I Done To Deserve This?

Glastonbury, 2000. Pet Shop Boys on stage. Clearly, they're not going to bring out Dusty Springfield - so who will be doing the female vocal on What I Have Done To Deserve This?

Obviously, it's going to be Cerys Matthews, otherwise it wouldn't be here as part of a bunch of Catatonia stuff, would it?

It's also a rare chance to enjoy the UK Play dog from when the channel was (a) still on and (b) branded in the same way as the rest of the UK TV family. If, erm, you like that sort of thing.

[Part of the Catatonia Bank Holiday]

Pumpkins choose Muse-route over Elbow

The future of the album as a coherent piece of work is hanging in the balance, and not all self-proclaimed sensitive artists are lining up behind Guy 'the public must be forced to buy our filler tracks' Garvey: Jimmy Chamerlain says that Smashing Pumpkins are going to be turning to the tracks-as-they-come model:

"I think what we'll do is start releasing songs," Chamberlin continues. "The record or CD format places too many limitations on your piece of art. People just don't buy records anymore. Anyone under the age of 24 just buys songs. It's just in our best interest to release blocks of songs. And I think what we'll do – not to let the cat out of the bag too much – is to create the framework where we can release a number of songs and maybe create a title. We can gather three or four songs, but it will all flow up to a larger body of work. But to call it [a] record in the traditional sense would be anachronistic."

It's debatable if anyone under the age of 24 buys Smashing Pumpkins stuff regardless of the number of tracks on offer at any one of time, but at least the band are paying attention to what's happening.

Borders invites offers

The UK leg of Borders was thrown off by the parent chain last year; now, they're looking for a buyer for the US stores, too.

This almost doesn't quite concern us as a music blog, though, as last month the chain unveiled its new-look stores, which have replaced the CD section with a digital kiosk. Although judging by the CD section in the DC store round the back of the White House, even the ones which do still flog CDs don't do so with very much enthusiasm.

Everyone loves a happy ending. Apart from lawyers.

The long-running dispute over which remnants of the Beach Boys are able to call themselves the Beach Boys has been settled:

Al Jardine and Mike Love reached an agreement after a two-day conference in Superior Court, attorney Lawrence Noble, who represents Jardine, said Thursday. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Although, presumably, you'll be able to work them out when you see who tours under which name in the future.

One month to go

One month from today, The Kabeedies will be releasing the mighty 'Lovers Ought To' single for you to buy and cherish. Until then, you can enjoy them on MySpace.

Darkness at 3AM: They also enjoy chocolates

The 3AM Girls also have a story about Girls Aloud making an advert for chocolate bars. They even have a quote from Sarah Harding:

"I loved doing the ad but I had to eat so much chocolate that, in the end, I asked for a cup to spit it out in. I was eating it from 5am to midnight."

So, she spits and doesn't swallow. Whoever would have thought?

More surprisingly, they reveal that Gordon Brown had marked the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War by... discussing Amy Winehouse with gossip columnists:
"I'm a big fan. She may be troubled but as much as anything I think she's simply misunderstood.

"She is as talented as she is misunderstood."

In what way, Gordon, is Amy misunderstood? Unless she's actually a drug-free scientist, isn't she perhaps the best-understood of all artists?

Embed and breakfast man: Catatonia

It's with some surprise that we realised we'd never spent some time trawling through YouTube to find stuff by Catatonia for your visual delight. So, what better way than to embark on the Bank Holiday weekend than looking at Cerys Matthews when she wasn't mentioned in the same breath as Matthew Bannerman.

Let's start, paradoxically, at the end, with the last Catatonia promo - for Stone By Stone, the only track that the label bothered releasing off the slightly underwhelming Paper Scissors Stone:

More videos across the next day or so
What Have I Done To Deserve This - Cerys joins the Pet Shop Boys at Glastonbury
I Am The Mob - live at Reading 1999
Nothing Hurts - live on the Hootenanny
Lost Cat
I Keep A Close Watch with John Cale
Bleed - live on Later with Jools Holland
Mulder And Scully - on Top Of The Pops

Buy some stuff
Way Beyond Blue - essential
International Velvet - desirable
Equally Cursed And Blessed - formidable
Paper Scissors Stone - forgivable

Gordon in the morning: The homecoming queen's got a gun

It's hard to believe, but Gordon is returning to the filming of a KitKat advert for the second day running. He's clearly having a break.

Today, it's an article built around a single throwaway line by Cheryl:

[W]hen catering staff, who were trying to feed skinny Cheryl, asked if there was anything else she needed, she replied: “A shotgun.”

Gordon happily fills some inches speculating on who she might want to shoot - happily, another chance for him to mention that Ashley Cole business, almost as if it's the one scoop he's managed since he took over from Newton and he can't let it go.

Sarah Harding is not without her problems, either:
“I’m in loads of pain with my back. It really hurt during yesterday’s long day of filming.

“And all the oversized bags that are fashionable these days don’t help.”

We've consulted some top doctors who suggest that, if you're having trouble carrying a large handbag, you might want to consider carrying a smaller bag. But I should stress that is general advice, and you may wish to consult your own doctor before downsizing your handbag to one you can actually carry.

For some reason - alright, to pad - Gordon also carries an advert for an E! programme about Amy Winehouse's life. It's meant to be a news story, but "here is a photo of Amy at school that has been given to me by a TV company" doesn't quite count, does it?

Still, it's better than Gordon's rationale for running a model has haircut story:
OH my word! Supermodel CLAUDIA SCHIFFER looks like the slightly better-looking twin sister of actress KATIE HOLMES in this short dark wig.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Entertainment Weekly: Indier than thou (well, than Q, anyway)

Entertainment Weekly - who, frankly, wouldn't have been our first choice for advice on life beyond the mainstream - have compiled a list of the best independent releases, one each, for the last 25 years. Apparently, EW loves its indie:

Why do we love indie rock? Because it shuns everything that is prefab, safe, typical. It's about freedom, expression, passion — no rules, man!

No rules, man. Oh, lord.

It's not actually a bad list:

1984: The Replacements - Let It Be
1985: The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
1986: R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant
1987: Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me
1988: Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
1989: The Pixies - Doolittle
1990: Fugazi - Repeater
1991: My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
1992: Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
1993: Built To Spill - Ultimate Alternative Wavers
1994: Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
1995: Archers Of Loaf - Vee Vee
1996: Belle And Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
1997: Modest Mouse - Lonesome Crowded West
1998: Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
1999: Sleater-Kinney - The Hot Rock
2000: Yo La Tengo - And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
2001: The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
2002: Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
2003: The White Stripes - Elephant
2004: Arcade Fire- Funeral
2005: Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
2006: The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
2007: Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
2008: Radiohead - In Rainbows

[listing assembled by Stereogum], but you can sort-of spot the point where indie went so mainstream that EW started to actually notice it, around the start of the century and thus were able to move from picking actually respected albums to ones that achieved enough commercial success to have been plausible subjects for their magazine. Were EW really dedicating much page space to Fugazi in 1990?

Yes, again, now

In case you've forgotten that punk lost: Yes are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary with a tour.

Ryan Adams, blogger

Joining the blogging massive - with a Tumblr, no less - is Ryan Adams. He's posted a video of himself playing something back in 1986 - or so he says - and a tribute to Morrissey:

my god. I never touched a penis (i mean, besides my own) but he sure made it sound interesting. Neo-Classicism at it’s finest. Also, great content thief. Lovely.

You've never touched a penis, Ryan? Really? Ever?

Monkey business finished

How labels build artists' careers, part 379: Universal imprint Interscope has dropped Simian Mobile Disco (they were their US label). Still, they did persevere with them for almost eight months, so nobody could say they hadn't tried, eh?

Pete Wentz cries for attention

We wouldn't wish suicide on anyone and wouldn't make light, even of Pete Wentz's shovelling down of anti-anxiety pills, which we are sure he's sharing with us because he feels the need to and not to try and shore up his emo image.

But exactly how much danger was his life in?

"I got in my car. I remember I was listening to Jeff Buckley doing Leonard Cohen's ‘Hallelujah’ and sat there and took a bunch of [anxiety pill brand] Ativan in a Best Buy parking lot.

“I called up my manager because I was, at that point, completely out of my head with Ativan. And I was talking to him and I was slurring my words, so he called my mom and my mom called me and she came and got me and we went to the hospital."

Ativan is a brand name of lorazepam, and tablets contain one milligram of active material. The fatal dose of lorazepam is 1.8 grammes. Or 1,800 tablets.

Wentz might certainly have overdosed, but unless he had swung by a Sam's Club en route to the car park, it's unlikely he would have been at any real risk.

The key question, though, is: why is Wentz telling MTV this?

Nada Surf the web

Nada Surf - who are, the press release tells us, a


have done a MySpace Transmission session, which is a vast improvement from the last one, at least. That was James Blunt.

Seven songs, in audio and video formats, along with an interview.

Here, as a taster, is the sublime Always Love:

All the lot over on MySpace Transmissions

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now

Poor Heather Mills. She hasn't got enough money.

No, it must be true - Jennifer Howze says so on The Times' AlphaMummy blog. We poor folk, it seems, just don't understand what it's like:

Former model-campaigner-ex-McCartney muse was awarded £35,000 a year for her daughter Beatrice, with Sir Paul agreeing to pay up to £30,000 for a nanny. And while I know many will scoff, in the scheme of things this is just not that much money.

Now, those of us who earn considerably less than one hundred grand a year might find it hard to sympathise with this contention, the suggestion that servicing the needs of a child will take, by the time you factor in Heather's fifty per cent, is quite so high. Howze attempts to try and make this about how shocking it is that we pay so little for our childcare:
Do we really still think that these are low-skilled jobs or as a society are we just looking to get as much as possible out of the people who provide services for as little as possible?

Hmmm... could capitalism be a system under which people will receive the lowest possible wage for the most possible work? There's a question that will never have troubled an economist before.

What's crushing about the piece is that it's written from such a lofty perspective - without any realisation that the reason why most people don't pay much for childcare is because they don't earn very much to begin with; that for the vast majority of households the very idea of having a paid servant - regardless of the level of reward they receive - is just impossible; and giving more money to Heather Mills isn't going to change a thing. You think child care professionals are underpaid? Campaign to increase their wages, which would make a real difference - don't suggest that an extra few thousand passing from one obscenely rich person to another is going to improve things for anyone else.

Howze ends with a suggestion for Heather:
she could always use that age-old nanny budgeting trick used in our neighbourhood: Give the nanny a generous weekly food shopping budget and let her keep the change.

Can you imagine anything more patronising? Having suggested that childcare workers are underpaid and undervalued, Howze praises a system whereby instead of being properly rewarded for their work, they get the chance to "keep the change"; like children being allowed to buy sweets when they run an errand.

Gordon in the morning: You can't sing, you can't play, and you look awful

Bizarre leads this morning on a very, very slight story - Girls Aloud film chocolate bar advert. Even with Smart's obsession with the state of the Tweedy-Cole marriage, it's a strange thing to build your column around. Even odder is the headline:

Girls Aloud babe is Cheryl cold

We wondered if this was because KitKat were going to be emulating the Mars Cool 'Em campaign from way back (oh, you do:"Mars Cool 'em/ Cool 'em in the fridge/Mars Bars and Milky Way/ Cool your Bounty for a summer's day/ Ice-cool Topic/ Marathon too/ Cool 'em the whole summer through.... Yes, as a nation, we needed an expensive marketing team to tell us that if we put our chocolate in the fridge, it wouldn't be melty when it got warm.) But, no, it turns out that the headline just relates to how nippy it was outside for filming yesterday - something that we suspect Smart only mentions in the first place so he could do the Cheryl Cold joke in the first place.

Gordon almost spots the irony of the wafer-stick-thin band pushing chocolate, but not quite:
They must have felt the chill in their skimpy outfits – and with none of them having much meat on their bones.

Smart also covers the announcement of the new Coldplay album title:
The Spanish phrase — which means “long live life” — was influenced by the late Mexican painter FRIDA KAHLO, one of MADONNA’s favourite artists.

Now, we know Gordon is writing for Modern Painters, but surely he could have come up with a nice, spoon-feeding explanation of who Kahlo is without saying "I don't know anything about her, but Madonna likes her" - you'd have thought some reference to the Oscar winning film with Salma Hayek might have hit the spot.

Especially since Gordon is filling a little:
Coldplay album titles have always been slightly unconventional.

The lads called their first collection Parachutes and their last CD was X&Y.

In what way, exactly, is 'Parachutes' unconventional? And 'X&Y' is hardly 'Jesus Egg That Wept', is it?

Gordon also finds space for Sarah Nation's piece about Kerry Katona checking into the Priory, as filming a programme about how 'crazy' she is has started to harm her state of mind.

Queen is dead, surely?

Blissfully unaware that the value of Queen lay, in its entirety, in the frontman, the remaining members of Queen are going to release a new album. The BBC is somewhat generous:

The album will feature Paul Rodgers, who replaced the late Freddie Mercury as frontman in the band.

"Replaced" is an awfully sweet thing to say, but I think everyone knows that all Rodgers has been doing is trying to fill the gap left by Mercury.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

eMusic already crying foul over Apple's all-you-can-eat

The vaguely worded possibility that buying an iPod might, at some point in the future, come with some sort of music subscription ready bundled has caused a big, flashing red light and a honking great alarm to go off over at the headquarters of eMusic, as they voluntarily raised their status from 'struggling' to 'beleaguered':

Apple's reported plan to bundle unlimited iTunes music store access with iPods could bring antitrust allegations similar to those faced by Microsoft for its bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, according to David Pakman, CEO of iTunes competitor eMusic.

"They're basically saying, 'Let's give a piece of every iPod sale to the record labels in exchange for bundling in all the music you can eat with every iPod'" said Pakman. "That's classic Sherman Antitrust Act behavior. It's called tying, and it's where a company with a monopoly position in one market uses that monopoly position unfairly to compete in another."

Pakman does, however, stop raging for long enough to suggest that Apple is making this move because they've got an eye on eMusic:
"We've been successful at now convincing the rest of the music industry ... that consumers want to buy music in a universally compatible format. Who's the winner and who's the loser? Well, the winner is the consumer, because you get a whole bunch of other retailers that can sell music that works on the iPod or any other device. That puts some pressure on Apple. There's no question, I think, that iTunes market share will diminish as a result of that over time."

It's a nice sentiment - and it's true that the general spread of DRM-free tracks must be nibbling at the very, very bottom line of iTunes, but we suspect it's more Amazon's music store than eMusic which is alarming Steve Jobs.

All the Apples you can eat

Reports over on The Register and the FT suggests that the long-expected iTunes killer might be... iTunes itself.

Apple are in talks with labels about introducing an all-you-can-eat subscription service - of the sort where you keep paying for music and own nothing at all - and it could be as close as just debating about how large the figure will be.

Obviously, the tracks under such a service would have to be wrapped in something to stop the (for the music industry) nightmare of people sucking down the lot in month one and unsubscribing.

God alone knows why Apple would want to get into such an unsatisfying deal - presumably it's a bid to offer the same sort of deal as Nokia are lining up for their customers.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Download delights

Matador Records are currently offering a niftily-zipped downloadable version of their annual sampler album. Including Cat Power, The New Pornographers, The Jicks and - as they'd say if they were flogging it on the telly - much, much more.

Mills takes the cash: Some of the fall-out

The Sun - having laboured under the "Lady Mucca" yoke for so long - finally managed to turn in the sort of headline for which it was famous this morning, with the judge's dismissal of Heather Mills' ability to keep a story straight generating the headline:


The trouble is, this surely would have been a better headline for a story that actually involved some porn or - at the very least - about someone who the public associates with porn. Despite "her porn past", I don't think even Sun readers think of Mills as a glamour model first and foremost.

The Mail is outraged at Mills' next plan:
Now the woman a court says you can't trust is appointed a judge herself

Goodness - that does seem strange. What part of the criminal justice system is Mills going to be presiding over?
Respected American news entertainment show Extra revealed today she is set to help pick the beauty most deserving of the Miss USA crown.


Even more strangely, the Mail thinks this is going to upset Paul:
In a move sure to rile her former husband Sir Paul McCartney, the 40-year-old plans to hold court again.

Do you really think that McCartney is going to be any more or less bothered at the idea of Mills striding into the world of the sideshow and VH1 special?

Even odder coverage of the courtroom antics in the Guardain, where the usually-sound Marcel Berlins suggests that Mills did a valuable public service:
Mills has, though, perhaps despite herself, contributed to an important debate. The government's policy on legal aid, which has resulted in a drastic decline in the number of people eligible for aid in civil cases, has resulted in thousands of litigants being forced to act for themselves.

He does allow that she didn't actually go unrepresented because of lack of funds, and that she had had a legal team which did a lot of the work for her (and, indeed, has had a solicitor popping up issuing statements on her behalf all week). But somehow this is meant to throw a light on the plight of ordinary people without a brief.

Although since she clearly was judged to a liar and unreliable, she came out of court with twenty five million quid. You might argue it was something of an advert for not needing solicitors - which is hardly a useful contribution to the legal aid debate.

Limewire tries its hand at legit business

Like Arthur Daley opening a proper shop, Limewire is attempting to clean up its image by opening a properly licensed store selling proper, DRM-free, MP3s.

Going straight! Just like Jeffrey Archer. It warms your heart, doesn't it? The store has half a million songs to choose from - including the new Dolly Parton album - and looks to be charging 99 cents. It's only available to those in the US, though - hey, this is Limewire, remember, they're not the sort of guys to laugh in the face of tightly-worded licensing agreement, are they?

There doesn't seem to be anything much to turn the Limewire store into an iTunes killer, though. It's a basic, no-frills store, only with the same prices everywhere else on the street.

Aint that a Songkick in the pants?

Hypebot are profiling a new service calling itself Songkick, which is yet another recommendation-and-widget outfit, but one with a USP:

Based on the songs you have in your music library, your location and the bands you’ve asked Songkick to track, Songkick is able to recommend shows in your area, including gigs that you might not know about but would probably enjoy. Suddenly your Friday nights don’t seem so empty anymore.

Never miss another performance! Songkick informs users by email whenever their favorite bands come to town. A downloadable plug-in will scan the user’s music library and add all artists to the tour tracker instantly.

Hmm. I think I might be a little less than thrilled if a service suddenly decided I needed to be emailed when any one of ten thousand artists come anywhere near my town - and I imagine if I lived somewhere with a more vibrant gigging scene, like London, that could get a little out of hand.

But the idea of a Last FM style recommendation, but for live gigs, is a strong proposition. So strong, in fact, you'd put money on it being swallowed into the belly of Last FM in the next half hour or so.

Coldplay name album. Calm yourselves, children.

According to Rolling Stone, the next Coldplay album is going to be called Viva La Vida. Which is probably something tattooed somewhere on David Beckham.

It's long live life in Spanish, which is a fair enough name - certainly, each new Coldplay album does make us feel that life is incredibly, incredibly long indeed.

What could be worse than a full Led Zep reunion tour?

How about a Led Zep reunion tour with Velvet Revolver as the opening act?

That's what the Revolver's bassist, Duff McKagan, reckons is going to happen:

"I understand that we have it, although I imagine there will be plenty of bands prepared to kick and punch us out of the way for the privilege."

To be honest, I'd imagine there's a large number of people who'd be happy to kick and punch Velvet Revolver just because.

Indeed, if they have just lost the slot of their careers because their bassist told 6Music about what are presumably meant to be confidential negotiations over a secret tour plan, they could try opening up a 'kick Velvet Revolver' stand on a travelling fair to make up the money.

Well done, the British education system

Holy Moly reproduces an exchange from London Lite:

LONDON LITE: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama?
SUZANNE SHAW: I'm going to be honest with you, I've never heard either of these names before.

You might have hoped that at least 'Clinton' might have rung a very, very faint bell somewhere in her mind.

It's not even the all-you-can-eat ignorance buffet of not recognising two of the most-talked about names of the year; it's the lack of the ability to be able to formulate a quick face-saving response along the lines of "really, is there any difference?" or "faced with that sort of choice, I'd rather eat my own shoes".

Brighton: Relentless on self-promotion

Sure, superclubs which hire troops of people to hand out thousands and thousands of glossy fliers can create a terrible mess of litter. Surely, though, there has to be a better and less throttling-small-venues-and-freedom-of-speech way of addressing the problem than a blanket ban on handing out free leaflets right through the centre of Brighton?

Meanwhile, at the Daily Mail office

- Look, we've just had these pictures of Suzanne Shaw in her knickers
- Brilliant! Let's run with them
- Hang on a minute, we're a newspaper. We're not The Sun. We can't just run a picture of a half-naked woman because she used to be in Hear'Say. There would have to be a proper news angle before we can put them all over the paper
- Is 'woman wears white knickers, matching bra' a news angle?
- No, not really
- Hey, look at this old picture of Suzanne Shaw...
- What?
- That bit there...
- Oh yes...
- Is that news?
- It's near enough... scan 'em in...
- I've got the headline: Woman has tattoo airbrushed out in advertising photos!
- How about:

Makeover magic for Dancing on Ice winner Suzanne Shaw as her tattoo is airbrushed out for sizzling lingerie shoot

- If we can find a way to blame this on the BBC, we might get the front page...

Darkness at 3AM: Knives and drugs

We're puzzled - when 3AM first reported the meeting between Noel Gallagher and Jeff Conaway, it was clearly just a little bit of backstage mucking about.

Today, though, it's been upgraded to "the showbiz fight of the year". Oh, and it's over:

Trying to stir up more trouble, Russell Brand invited Noel on his radio show and surprised him with a phone call to Kenickie.

But Jeff told Noel: "You need protection growing up in New York.

You need some kind of weapon. There are very dangerous characters on the subway."

Well, yes, there are dangerous characters on the subway - mostly broken down ex-actors waving knives around.

We love that the Mirror team are running this story on Wednesday - doesn't Russell Brand's show go out on Saturdays?

Meanwhile, Bryan Adams has written a song for Amy Winehouse. Apparently:
With lyrics such as, "Amid the stars and the bars, the pimps and pills" and "the picture faded and the day was done, went home to nothin' but a loaded gun," it's clear Bryan, 48, fears for Amy.

Or, possibly, for Phil Spector.

Gordon in the morning: Tell'em about the Honey Monster, Mummy

A few days after everyone else did the 'look, the new Sugar Puffs advert is a bit like something off the Mighty Boosh', Gordon catches up, claiming there's going to be legal action now that the Honey Monster is crimping.

Which would be a great story, if he had anything to back it up more than a folksy, off-the-record, possibly a quote or possibly not:

A source said: “A pal of the Mighty Boosh boys was lying in his pants watching daytime telly and saw the advert.

“He rang the Boosh and congratulated them on their work for Sugar Puffs.

“They were baffled and checked it out on the internet. They hadn’t been asked permission to use the style and are speaking to lawyers about getting the Honey Monster’s crimp removed from the airwaves.”

Indeed, so little does Smart have to back up the central claim of legal action that he's reduced to padding the piece out with stuff cut and paste from fans on the internet (Boosh fans, not Smart fans) rather than anything from Barratt or Fielding. Or someone with any legal knowledge.

You never got this with Jeremy The Bear.

Gordon slaps his own byline on some story about Lily Allen's supposed new romance, although he seems a little unsure about how far it's gone:
Lily moves in with a new man

LILY ALLEN is getting over her split from CHEMICAL BROTHERS DJ ED SIMONS — by dating ANOTHER musician.

Are they dating, or are they living together? Which is it, Gordon?

If only you had a source with some creepy insight into what happens in Robertson Furze's bedroom. Oh, you do:
“She moved in with him a few weeks ago and they have been sharing a bed. It started off innocently but they are doing more than just cuddling now.”

'A few weeks ago' - wasn't she still with Ed Simons a few weeks ago? And "it was innocent but it's not any more" - what does that actually mean? They're doing something evil?

The real oddity is that, with all the images of Ed Chemical that are available, Gordon chooses a long-lens, murky paparazzi shot of him to sit on the story - presumably this is meant to be an implication that it was a photo of Ed, last night, not laughing with Lily Allen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nice work if you can get it

The labels rush around telling us that only severe action and constant rewriting of copyright law can save the music industry. That, and dropping of acts and sacking of staff,

And yet Warners Edgar Bronfman has managed to arrange himself a payment package that could be worth up to $65million over the next five years. Hardly the behaviour of a man whose business is collapsing, surely?

Bronfman, of course, is worth every penny. Why, his shrewd purchase of Bulldog managed to wipe out all $18m in profits made by the company in the last quarter. Worth every last penny.

Great moments in popular culture, number 378

Yesterday, one of the break-bumper puzzles on Countdown was the word 'DODOLAWN' with the clue 'Get this festival on your computer'.

The solution was Download. A reference to the Monsters of Rock lite on the teatime stairlift quiz? Such times to live in.

Bjork attempts to clear up Tibet

It's perhaps escaped her notice but the Chinese repression of Tibet story has moved on quite a bit since Bjork muttered 'Tibet' onstage in Shanghai. Or perhaps it hasn't, as she's decided to provide some, um, elucidation as to what was running through her mind:

"When I said 'Tibet, Tibet', I whispered it three times. There was no fuss in the room. It happened afterwards on websites. It shows more than anything that China has become the next superpower in the world. And the issue is: how are they going to deal with Western moral issues like freedom of speech?"

Actually, watching the Chinese shut down web access and send troops rolling into the markets of Tibet, I think we can guess what their response is to that issue.

We're a little bit puzzled as to why she stresses she only "whispered it" and that the "fuss" came afterwards - was it meant to be her striking a blow for free speech, or was it not?

Mariah Carey asks us to look beyond the image

The AP cuts to the key issues of the day, starting with what the world thinks of Mariah Carey:

Mariah Carey knows her indisputable talent clashes with her sexed-up image as a "ditz."

"It's a dichotomy, I understand," the 37-year-old Grammy winner told Allure magazine. "I understand that people think I am a ditzy moron."

We can see the ditzy moron, jiggling around in a bikini in videos for lightweight pop-fluff; surely, though, to be a dichotomy there'd have to be some other thing in opposition to that?

Sorry, did you say 'tribute'? We heard 'nasty marketing campaign stunt'.

Converse - with the full blessing of Courtney Love - are to launch a Kurt Cobain plimsole. We say full blessing, clearly it could only have been given one-handed as the other would have been counting the money.

In a press release, Converse said: "To honour Cobain, in May, Converse will debut their Kurt Cobain collection of shoes featuring artwork and scribbles borrowed from Cobain's personal notebooks.

"It will mark a central part of the year-long 100th Anniversary 'Welcome to the Converse Century' celebration."

Aha. It's an honour for your corpse to dug up, and your personal diaries ransacked in order to help sell some overpriced training shoes. An honour right up there with 'having someone piss through your letterbox'.

Candy nobody wants

Depending on if you're a Madonna is half-naked, or a Madonna is half-dressed sort of person, you might choose to react to the news that Vodaphone has got the rights to launch Madonna's new album a week early as an indication that Vodaphone has got more money than sense, or there wasn't much of a battle for the rights.

Vodaphone is creating a special portal on its Vodaphone Live mobile site (no, us neither) to host the track-by-track reveal:

Beginning on 21 April, one track will be released each day of the week and will remain live for 24 hours for download before it is replaced by the next track.

Again, you could see this as a way of building excitement across the week, or you could see it as a dribbly, ill-conceived idea that puts too much weight on some of the flabbier album tracks (and there will be some, we're sure). This is probably supposed to somehow frustrate piracy of the tracks, although removing all legal existence of track one on day two seems designed to create more, not less, illegal rummaging.

Mel B keeps her child on-brand

You or I might see Mel B putting her daughter into a "Spice Baby" tshirt and think "what a cloying and slightly heartbreaking idea."

This is why we don't work for Hello magazine. They see it, and think:

Mel B's girl Angel Iris proclaims her Spice Girls heritage

Angel Eyeball is eleven months old, and thus, we'd suggest, fairly incapable of proclaiming anything much beyond 'hungry' or 'poop-covered', much less choosing a wardrobe in order to ride on her mother's coat-tails.

Although, we fear, come 2022, we'll start to see that happening.

Made of brickbats

Kate Nash is delighted she beat Leona Lewis at the the Brit awards:

She went on to say “it was really good I won it because I started this myself. I’m not a manufactured, size-zero pop artist who is going to bring out her own perfume and clothes range.”

This might be slightly more convincing were it not for Nash having gone to the Brits school. And to be insisting that you're real, while seeing the receiving of an award from the BPI on a live TV show presented by the Osbournes as some sort of high-water mark for riot grrl seems to be pushing it a bit, too.

Jam tomorrow

Some nice work in today's Guardian, where John Harris asks leftist popstars how they feel about the endorsements they're getting from Cameron and chums:

When I put in a call to Paul Weller, he mentions Cameron's alleged fondness for his old songs, and expresses a fatalistic puzzlement. "It's like, which bit didn't he get?" he says. "It's strange, but the whole nature of politics has shifted, hasn't it? The stark contrasts of Thatcherism and socialism have gone: you can't really tell who's Brown or Cameron or anyone else. I don't know what Cameron's for or against, really. Even with that div who's running for mayor - Boris Johnson - there's some things he's said that I've found myself agreeing with, like bringing back the Routemaster buses. You sort of think, 'Hang on - I'm agreeing with a Tory twat.'"

When I mention his residual feelings about the long years of Thatcherism, however, out it all comes. "I think they were absolute fucking scum - especially Thatcher, who I think should be shot as a traitor to the people. I still think that, and nothing will ever change my opinion. We're still feeling the effects of what they did to the country now, and probably always will: the whole breakdown of communities, trade unions, the working class - the dismantling of lots of things."

It's hard to see how anyone who believes what Cameron believes could really have enjoyed the Jam - especially since, back at that end of his career, Cameron would have still been in The Bullingdon Club, still Thatcher supporting. It's hard to shake the suspicion that liking The Smiths and The Jam has been arrived at by back-projecting 'what would the man I'm meant to be now have been listening to then?'.

Otherwise, we have to believe one of three things - one, that Cameron enjoyed the music, but ignored the politics. But take the politics out of The Jam, and there wasn't a lot left.

Two, that Cameron enjoyed the music and approached the lyrics as a dialectical, maintaining some sort of dialogue as he pogoed: "Ah, when Paul Weller sings of thugs having attended "'too many' right-wing meetings", he is falling into the trap of portraying agression as being rightest, whereas, of course, with his money and take-away curry and a bottle of wine, the protagonist is, in fact, truly the right-winger in the tale, enjoying the economic benefits of twelve months of Tory rule, turning round the economy after the stagflation of the wasted Callaghan and Wilson years." But this seems unlikely.

Third, that Cameron was just too stupid to understand what the songs were about. This isn't impossible - indeed, it turns out to be true of one his colleagues, as Harris discovers:
On this score, my favourite story concerns the Cameroonian Tory MP Ed Vaizey, who recently appeared on Michael Portillo's BBC4 Thatcher documentary, The Lady's not for Spurning, talking about the Birmingham-based 80s band the Beat, whom he claims to have "adored", despite being an "ardent Thatcherite". "They had a song called Stand Down Margaret," he marvelled, before telling Portillo he assumed that everyone in Britain admired Mrs Thatcher in much the same awestruck terms as he did, so when it came to the song's target, the penny never really dropped. "I couldn't work out what they had against Princess Margaret," he said. D'oh!

In a recent Guardian webchat, Cameron was asked how he felt about Morrissey's Margaret On The Guillotine. His response?
"The lyrics - even the ones I disagree with - are great, and often amusing."

Now, it is possible to enjoy a song with whose politics you diverge - Robert Wyatt doing Stalin Wasn't Stalling is a great piece of music, even though is somehow manages to ignore the actually-quite-stalling Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. But could an ardent Tory really listen to a song suggesting that right-thinking people would enjoy the execution of one of your party's touchstone leaders and think "well, that's a well-written tune. The calling for what would amount to a regicide is very amusingly phrased"?

Surely only if you didn't believe in anything very passionately could you make such a claim?

Fergal Sharkey: Music industry dove

Into the conference of the ISP Assocation at the weekend strode Feargal Sharkey, in his current iteration as head of British Music Rights. After the BPI's 'three-strikes' bad cop, Feargal came in with a cup of tea and kind words:

He offered an olive branch to the embattled British ISP industry in his speech: let's make lots of money.

"For me, the business model of the future is one where music is bundled into an ISP or other subscription service and the revenues are shared between the distributor and the content owners," he told the audience.

"This is the debate we need to get back on track: how to unlock [the] insatiable demand for music, and in a way that grows both of our businesses. Surely the bright and brilliant minds in this room can help figure this out?"

Sharkey is a lovely man, isn't he? And you've got give him kudos for attempting to recast the situation in a more positive glow - they're trying to "unlock" the insatiable demand for music, rather than the more honest description of current activities, which are attempting to put locks and constraints on that desire; holding out the prospect of everyone making some money off music, turning the role of the ISPs from protecting other people's revenue streams to protecting their own.

It doesn't make the idea of private corporations having people thrown off the internet on their say-so any more attractive or acceptable, but you've got to admire Sharkey's attempts to make it more pleasing for the ISPs.

CNN runs knock-down of Gordon

As is always the way, whenever anyone runs a story about trouble in the Madonna-Ritchie wedding, the couple issue some sort of denial. And, to be fair, after a solid couple of years of gossip sites saying "it's only a matter of time", they are still together.

Today, though, the denial has made CNN:

The news media and blogosphere have been speculating on the couple's status; on Monday, the British newspaper The Sun published a gossipy article on its Web site with the headline: "Madge's marriage `hangs by a thread."'

Rosenberg explained that, until recently, Madonna, 49, and Ritchie were living in separate countries: The Material Girl toured the U.S. to promote her upcoming album "Hard Candy," while the director was stationed in England putting the finishing touches on his new film "RocknRolla," filming a Nike commercial and "working on several scripts."

Today, the Ritchies are "joyfully back together at home in London. All is well and wonderful in the Ritchie household," Rosenberg said.

"Working on several scripts". The blood runs cold.

All this must be annoying Rav Singh, who actually started the story in Sunday's News of the World. We wonder if he's screeching "hey... I made the story up, not Gordon" down a phone to Atlanta.

Faust attempts to renegotiate

We wonder what, exactly, Kerry Katona thought that her Crazy In Love series was going to be like? When, for example, MTV persuaded her to wear a straitjacket for the promo shoot, did she really imagine she was going to be portrayed like, say, she was Ruth Badger or Delia Smith?

It turns out she's not happy, reckons the Daily Mail:

A source said she is devastated by the criticism she has received for drinking and smoking on the show while pregnant, and is furious with MTV for the way that they have depicted her and husband Mark Croft, according to Star magazine.

The source said: “She is so appalled at how she and Mark have come across that she wants to stop filming, but she knows she can't because of contractual obligations. Whether they'll have a break to sort this out, only time will tell.”

Aha. It's the programme's fault for criticism of her drinking and smoking while pregnant, rather than, perhaps, her own problem?

The one piece of soothing balm for Katona is that nobody's watching the programme anyway, so it's only like she's making a holy show of herself to an empty room.

Hey - you don't suppose this 'source' is leaking a story about how upset Kerry is at being such a circus sideshow to try and get people interested - or at least gawping - do you? Surely not.

Gordon in the morning: LA Ink

Does David Beckham really watch Prison Break, Gordon? Does he really?

DAVID BECKHAM’S tattoo addiction has struck again.

The LA Galaxy midfielder looks more and more like his hero, the heavily tattooed character Michael Scofield in US TV drama Prison Break.

Beckham's latest tattoo is a long one, suggesting that he's not got much else to do bar sit around having people write on him. This one means "death and life have determined appointments; riches and honour depend upon heaven", which is lovely, isn't it? It implies that he and his wife aren't obscenely rich because of a mixture of luck and talent, but because God wanted it so.

Gordon is worried that Beckham is getting too many tattoos:
I’ve got a Chinese/Scottish proverb for Becks — which he should keep in mind from now on.

Becks, who grew up in Chingford, could keep it on a Post-it note in his undercrackers for the next time he finds himself lying down for an inking.

It reads: “Essex geezer who has too many tattoos will regret the body ink when he gives up the footy and becomes a fat lad.”

We're not entirely sure why Gordon wants David to put this on a piece of paper down his knickers - surely a post-it in your underwear would imply it's stuck on your cock? What can it all mean?

Let's move on, to this wholesome Harry Potter story, shall we?
Quidditchy bum for Ron and Co

HARRY Potter star RUPERT GRINT says the cast need a magic potion — to soothe their NUMB BUMS.

It turns out this is about the problems of filming Quidditch scenes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How connected is Heather with the world?

Much, much to consider following Heather Mills' extraordinary performance on the steps of the court, but perhaps the place where we shall place the tape measure to see the gap between her world and the one the rest of us live in is her reaction to the thirty-odd grand a year she'll be getting in return for providing bed and board for Beatrice:

“Beatrice gets £35,000 a year. She is meant to travel B-class when her father travels A-class."

Aside from the suggestion that a kid is going to suffer with an income that's above the UK average for, you know, a grown up who does a job, it's interesting that Heather is so used to traveling up the front of the plane she doesn't know what 'first class' and 'second class' (or, perhaps, coach or standard) are actually called.

Starbucks turns out to be money-making business

There's a curious piece in the New York Times which bemoans Starbuck's increasing range of CDs for sale, and the consequential mainstreaming of taste:

[T]he ardor for Starbucks has gone the way of yesterday morning’s grounds. Critics in the music industry say the company squandered its cachet by mismanaging the effort to broaden its music mix. The choices that reflect its early taste for the offbeat — like an album from Lizz Wright, a torchy pop singer — are now squeezed in with offerings not unlike those at Wal-Mart, including the latest releases from Alicia Keys and James Blunt. The shift has not been lost on some customers.

Poor old James Blunt, eh? Even The New York Times pokes him with a stick.

Is it really surprising, though? Starbucks is so keen to shore up its bottom line its exploring the idea of a 'value' blend of coffee - if it's happy to sell undrinkable coffee, is it really surprising the chain will also sell unlistenable music?

Still, there's some interesting statistics included in the piece, not least this:
Despite adopting a broader musical approach, Starbucks on average sells only two CDs a store each day at company-owned shops, according to people briefed on its business. Starbucks disputed that figure but declined to provide a different one.

We're not sure that's so surprising - after all, it's primarily a coffee shop, and we'd imagine that a lot of the stores sell no CDs at all (the ones which are sited to serve the grab-and-glug market) - and it's got over 30,000 stores, which still translates as a lot of CDs being sold. We'd actually like to see how well its free track-of-the-day download promotion at the end of last year did.

Reggaeobit: Mikey Dread

Mikey Dread, one of the leading reggae djs and engineers, has died at his Connecticut home.

Born in Port Antonio with the slightly less headline-terrific name of Michael Campbell, Dread first made a name for himself in the mid 1970s, presenting for the Jamaican Broadcasting Company and recording music. This at a time when those in charge of the state broadcaster were reluctant to allow their network to carry anything as common as reggae music - it's a tribute to Drea'd tenacity that he not only managed to get on air, but slowly forced a change in policy at the station. His earliest success as an artist came with Barber Saloon, but as well as performing, Dread was learning how to drive a studio. In 1981, he travelled to London to study at the National Broadcasting School, where he honed his natural talents. Shortly after graduation, he produced Bank Robber for The Clash before going on to co-write five tracks on the Sandinista album.

Central TV took him on to present Deep Roots Music, an early Channel 4 production on the history of Jamaican music; it was the start of a run of British TV projects that included creating Rocker's Roadshow and appearances on BBC2's Ebony. More surprisingly, he found himself producing a Japanese rock band - Anarchy.

A spell as opener on a European tour with UB40 may have perhaps persuaded him to try his luck on the other side of the Atlantic; he started to have success in the US from the mid 1980s, touring with Freddie McGregor and the Roots Radic Band.

Interestingly, Dread would constantly return to study during his career - he was the original lifelong learner. In 1996, he graduated the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with honours in music/video production, for example. It's possible that he was doing this to atone for having produced for Izzy Stradlin on his post Guns N Roses single. By 2000, he was graduating again - this time from Lynn University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Communications.

Studying didn't seem to eat too badly into his performance time, though, and well into this century he was a regular on-stage, playing everything from spring breaks with Ja Rule to Slovakian festivals.

Mikey Dread was 54. His death was reported as being due to a brain tumour.

Venuewatch: The end of the Rainbow

It's not actually played host to a gig for 20 years - it's been a branch of Walgreens since it closed in 1988 - but it's still sad to hear that the Denver Rainbow Music Hall is to be demolished.

Amongst the bands who passed through during its time as a venue were Devo, Pat Benatar and U2 before they became unbearable, The Clash, The Fixx and Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.

The building had been converted to house the Walgreens, but now the company needs more space and is going to build anew. They have promised to keep the historic sign, though.

Harp acquires harp, halo, wings

Guthrie Inc, the owners of Harp Magazine, have pulled the rug from Harp Magazine, closing the title. Magazine Death Pool makes that an average of one alt-rock title a month shuttering in 2008.

Brits 2009 venue confirmed

Despite a story in this morning's Sun suggesting the Brits are to decamp to the Millennium Dome, organisers have confirmed they're staying put:

“The BRITs Committee and the BPI would like to clarify that The BRITs 2009 will be staged at London’s Earls Court.”

Presumably having all the atmosphere sucked out of a venue is expensive, and having done it for Earls Court, they want to get their money's worth.

They say riot, we say morons

We're a bit bemused as to why people gathering to dance at a gig is being described as a riot, exactly.

Certainly, getting 1000 people onto a bridge and then making them jump up and down is - perhaps - one of the most calamitously stupid ideas we've heard for a long time, but this doesn't mean it was a riot, does it?

The band, by the way, was Fucked Up; the bridge Lemar Pedestrian Bridge in Austin:

Mike Haliechuck, Fucked Up's guitarist, said he feared the bridge was going to collapse.

"I could feel the bridge going up and down - it was crazy. The police couldn’t do anything, so they just had to wait."

Maybe I'm just getting old, but this sounds like the most pointlessly dangerous thing to occur in rock in a long time. Isn't there some law against endangering lives in Texas?

Dolly Parton might have met Gordon Smart

Dolly Parton. Yes, talking about her breasts, again:

"When I talk to a man, I can always tell what he's thinking by where he is looking. If he is looking at my eyes, he is looking for intelligence. If he is looking at my mouth he is looking for wisdom.

"But if he is looking anywhere else except my chest he's looking for another man."

This kind of implies only gay men seek intelligence and wisdom. Or perhaps that only gay men seeking wisdom would think to ask Dolly Parton to help on the search.

In these shoes? Paolo Nutini's feet bought by Puma

Wasn't this supposed to be an exciting world of cross-media brand synergy deals funding musicians? Only we fail to recognise any of that sort of thing in the news that Paolo Nutini has signed a deal to promote Pumas.

Puma, the plimsoll company formed when the slightly-more-enthusiastic-about-the-Nazis Dassler brother Rudolph split from his brother Adi; not Puma, the big cat. Although we'd actually pay good money to see Paolo Nutini sharing a stage with a large feline. It wouldn't have to be a puma, either. We'd be quite happy if it was a clouded leopard, really.

It's hard to see what's in it for Puma:

In the new Puma campaign, Nutini will appear in advertising around the world performing the song New Shoes from his multi-platinum debut album, These Streets, across television, mobile, radio and online campaigns. He will also be featured in Puma stores around the world, and make a documentary for the brand and personal appearances.

A documentary about pumps presented by Paolo Nutini. Perhaps they're hoping that we'll all buy shoes to throw at him?

Breaking: Finally, a figure we can believe in

BBC News is reporting that Heather is going to pocket £24.3 million, a figure she's "agreed" to.

Now that the divorce is settled, we wonder if she'll carry through with her threat to pursue legal action against the News of the World...

Abbaobit: Ola Brunkert

Spanish police have discovered the body of Ola Brunkert, Abba's session drummer.

Born in Örebro, Sweden, in 1946, Brunkert was the only person outside the four regular members of the group to appear on every Abba recording. His background, though, was not pop, but jazz - he'd been a member of Opus III (not to be confused with the British Techno act of the same name)in the 1960s before starting work as a session man.

He went on to provide the drums on some of the biggest-selling hits of the 1970s, and joined Abba on tour on several occasions.

His death was macabre, but - according to Spanish Police - nothing more than a terrible accident; he appears to have bled to death after cutting himself on a broken plate glass door.

Darkness at 3AM: Breasts

Uh-oh... has Gordon infiltrated the Mirror?

Paris Hilton parades her new puppies in LA - and we don't mean the furry type.

The 27-year-old seemed totally spellbound by her, ahem, natural charms.

Reuters welcomes Curt Smith's solo career after 17 years

You've got to love the depth of Reuters' research, as they welcome the emergence of Curt Smith, solo artist:

Curt Smith has been one half of Tears For Fears, a radio show personality, MTV host and commercial songwriter. In May, when Smith releases "Halfway, pleased," you can add solo artist to that list.

You could have added it back last year when the album was first released - although perhaps because it was in France it doesn't count. You could also have added it back in 1991 when Smith released Soul On Board, but that was only in the UK so perhaps that doesn't count.

Oddly, Reuters is aware of the Mayfield album, but not - apparently - the reworking of some of that project's album as a solo EP under Smith's own name.

Still, they at least get some gnomic utterance from Smith about the future of Tears For Fears:
We've left it open. The thing is, neither of us wants to plan that far ahead. We're probably sick of the sight of each other after four and a half years of recording and touring. But we didn't say like we did in 1990, 'I don't want to work with you again.' We're still decompressing."

We're not quite sure how, if you've not got any plans to come back together, there's a "that far ahead" for which you don't want to plan.

WalMart and Target turn Pepsi blue

The link-up between Pepsi and Amazon to give away squillions of free mp3s has hit a problem: US Retailers have taken the hump at giving shelf-space to a promotion for a company they see as a competitor.

This is bad for Pepsi - in-store pushing of the free mp3s has been scanty at WalMart and Target - but worse news for Amazon who have been airbrushed out of the picture to keep retailers happy:

In an apparent response to retailers’ concerns, Amazon’s name has been banished from the front of Pepsi bottles carrying the promotion – rendering it invisible in supermarket aisles to passing shoppers.

Similarly, Amazon’s logo is on the back of cardboard multi-pack cartons of cans that are stacked on the shelves of mass discounters and supermarkets, next to the product’s bar code and nutritional information.

Considering this was Amazon's big push to trumpet its new download service outside of the Geekosphere, that's got to be a big let-down. No figures yet on how many tracks have been given away.

Gordon in the morning: On the town

Having had a (relatively) good week last week, Gordon is back to his usual form this morning: stalking Cheryl Cole. Having failed to break up her and the footballer bloke, Gordon is determined to get some sort of scalp, so he's chipping away somewhere else:

Skinny Cheryl left cheating hubby ASHLEY at home to join NICOLA ROBERTS, SARAH HARDING and KIMBERLEY WALSH as they celebrated Kimberley’s sister Amy’s 21st at London’s Burlington Club on Saturday. NADINE COYLE was absent – again.

If he can't end the Cole marriage, he'll have to make do with splitting up Girls Aloud.

Although 'person doesn't attend workmate's sister's birthday party' isn't, surely, that surprising?

During the last couple of weeks of the Spice Girls reunion, Gordon seemed to turn on Mel B. Is there, you wonder, something Mel could show Gordon to stop all the negativity?

It turns out there is:
Mel B? They look more like DDs to me.

We know you've seen breasts before, Gordon - you write about them everytime you see them. How can you still behave like you're a thirteen year-old chancing past an open window at the nurse's house every single time?
MEL B wore a lifejacket to go jet skiing but she needn’t have bothered — she’s got ample natural flotation devices if you ask me.

What do you suppose it's like when he returns to his wife after a busy day coining single entendres?

"Hard day at work dear?"
"Phwoooaar! Funny you should say that."

In what must be an awkward moment for Gordon, he's forced to effectively run with Rav Singh's 'Madonna split' story, instead of The Sun's usual way of knocking down it's sisters stories on a Monday morning:
A newspaper claimed yesterday Madge intends to move to New York with their kids while Guy will remain in London after a split.

Is there any other newspaper group in the world where the daily wouldn't credit the Sunday sister with a scoop?

Surely they'll have read it in the Evening Standard?

Who knew? Despite the press having insisted they know what the figure is all weekend, the McCartneys are going to discover what the divorce settlement will be this morning. If you were the judge, and had decided on twenty five million quid, wouldn't you change it now just to piss off the Standard?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Curve weekend: Acid Android

More from Toni's adventures post-Curve. This is her vocals appearing on Acid Android's Faults. Acid Android was a side project by L'Arc-en-Ciel's drummer Yukihiro; this dates from 2003:

[Part of the Curve weekend]

Daily Mail blames BBC for out-of-control party

To be fair, Pete Tong did mention on-air a party somewhere in the region, but it seems a little extreme of the Daily Mail to blame him for the party careering out of control and the house getting wrecked.

The parent of the girl responsible for the party, Rebecca Brooks, says she's considering "suing" the BBC:

Mrs Brooks, 54, said someone called the BBC with details of the party and is threatening to sue.

"I blame the BBC for this," she said, adding: "We are considering our options."

Except Radio One didn't broadcast anything more than a vague mention of the party, and it's hardly as if the party had been kept secret beforehand:
Sarah, a pupil at Torquay Grammar School said she had put up a poster in common room but word had leaked out.

We're not sure the 'but' fits in that sentence. You put up a poster in a public place. Lots of people turn up. Why would that be Pete Tong's fault, exactly?

Of course, the Daily Mail's hatred of the BBC is now so poisonous it's a miracle they can bring themselves to publish listings for BBC One on the TV page - the decision by the corporation to broadcast an in-depth version of the Passion, having robbed the Mail of its usual moan that there's nothing religious on at Easter, has instead provided the paper with the chance to condemn the way the crucifixion has been shot.

Baby got a gun and gone

In what clearly wasn't a bid to generate a little extra publicity, James have designed an album sleeve and had it banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, because it has a baby and a gun on it. Larry Gott explains:

“We talked at length about hitting a problem with the Advertising Standards Authority, but it’s such a strong image we decided it go with it anyway.

“The scale of the reaction has been a surprise, but we kind of expected there’d be some ripples. We were looking at lots of ideas with the designers and they came up with an image of a baby and a gun that related to a story in America of a ten month old child that had been issued a firearms certificate.

“Firearms are dangerous, they’re not to be taken likely, and we as a society are becoming over familiarised with the image of gun and gun culture.”

If we wanted to be over cynical, we might wonder if choosing a cover that would run into a little eye-catching trouble might be a better way of marketing a James album than a few hundred poster locations.

Is SXSW mired in the past?

What with its shiny Interactive curtain-raiser and everyone twittering and blogging and uploading to YouTube, SXSW seems like the very model of a modern music festival.

Is it, though? Bob Lefsetz isn't so sure:

Can an unsigned band get noticed? And, do we even bother to use that term anymore, "unsigned". Do you want to get signed?

I mean what are the chances that the cognoscenti are going to care about your band when R.E.M. and even Van Morrison are shilling for attention. Oh, it makes you feel good, to rent a U-Haul, sleep four to a room and perform a set no one cares about. The same way it makes you feel good to send a CD to me! It’s amazing what people will do to make themselves feel good, make them believe they’re making progress.

The new music business isn’t at SXSW. Why should it be?

It's a fair point - we were reading something about SXSW which pointed out that it was being used to try and restart A Flock of Seagulls' stalled career twenty years ago. But SXSW has adapted itself beautifully to the modern world. Perhaps this has lessons for the incumbent major labels about how to make yourself seem a little less tatty in the internet age - after all, if you can make a Music Industry Showcase seize the attention of half the internet for a week, you must know what you're doing. The embrace of the possibilities of the the web has helped - the massive bundles of free mp3s and the encouragement of streaming gigs and sponsorship of blogging-related activities has all helped. The key word, of course, is "embrace", compared with the label's stiff, reluctant courtship.

And it's that reluctance that Lefestz points to when suggesting that, however web 2.o compliant the organisers of SXSW might be, they're still running an event which relies for its existence on businesses that don't get it, still, yet, perhaps never, and bands who hope that leaping into bed with them might be an easy route:
All you bands playing SXSW, you abhor Top Forty radio, but that’s all the majors are interested in. And chances are if you’re a good-looking automaton, ready to go the Jessica/Paris/Lindsay route, you’ve already got handlers in New York or L.A. with a pipeline to the old guard, you don’t have to go to SXSW to get noticed.

Or you could go to the panels at SXSW. To learn that fewer people have jobs at less money. I’ve debated Net monetization at these conventions for NINE YEARS and nothing has happened. Everybody’s just reacted to what some college student, not in attendance, ultimately has done.

Everyone’s looking for a shortcut. Everyone’s looking for answers. Everybody wants to get PAID!

The big threat to SXSW is not that people will listen the Lefsetz, but that they'll come to a similar conclusion from their own calculations - if you're going to go somewhere to get noticed, the chances of standing out are somewhat decreased when you're heading there with half the bands currently existing.

Curve weekend: Original

Something from Toni Halliday's CV and its 'other interests' section now, then: This is her adding her voice to Leftfield's Original:

[Part of Curve weekend]

Miss Moss to Mrs Hince? Wince

The Sunday People claims that Jamie Hince has asked Kate Moss to marry him. Oh, and that she's going to say yes.

They know because "pals" say so. Well, that's good enough for us, then. We'll nip down to Debenhams and see if they've started a wedding registry.

Peaches Geldof gets another job

The announcement of an MTV show is always a time for sadness. In the US, they're busily playing off the children of the famous one against another. Here in the UK, being a smaller nation, we have a tighter supply of celebrity and so MTV is forced to use a single celebrity child to play the rest of the nation off.

Yes, brace yourself for an MTV series in which Peaches Geldof edits a celebrity magazine:

A source close to Peaches, whose 19th birthday bash I attended on Thursday, said: "She has always loved the world of glossy magazines. But aside from the showbiz parties and celebrity interviews, there will be serious work to be done." MTV viewers will see Peaches, currently dating Faris Badwan from The Horrors, interview and then pick a team of writers on the weekly show - produced by her dad Sir Bob Geldof's TV company Ten Alps.

This might sound familiar, as it's effectively the barely-noticed ITV2 series Deadline, only with the barely-famous faces doing the writing replaced with the public, and the editor who knows what they're doing replaced by a celebrity. Which seems to cause a bit of a problem - it's like doing the Apprentice, but having the Alan Sugar role filled by Lily Allen. What, exactly, does Geldof Junior know about running a magazine? Isn't this a little like having a pro-am golf tournament, only with the pros replaced by amateurs as well?

NOTW jibes at Doherty

There's a pointless space-filler from today's News of the World - Stars At Their Worst. This purports to be "pictures they want banned" but they consist of things like Amy Winehouse looking a bit wobbly and Britney Spears wearing ripped tights, which hardly is their "worst" and, you imagine, not the pictures they'd have had banned first, given the opportunity.

There's also one of Pete Doherty, but it's the caption rather than the close-up of his nails that catches the eye:

Former Libertines guitarist Pete Doherty is mostly famous for being Kate Moss's druggy ex boyfriend.

The second half of the sentence is, you'd have to admit, probably fair, but it's a little bit ungenerous to boil him down to 'former Libertines guitarist', isn't it?

Curve weekend: Ten Little Girls

Continuing our plough through Curve's back catalogue, here's the video for Ten Little Girls:

[Part of the Curve weekend]

Rav returns to the pub

The 'Madonna to buy a pub' story resurfaces this morning on Rav Singh's column this morning, with a suggestion that the earlier reports jumped to the wrong conclusions:

I can also reveal director Guy splashed out on Mayfair boozer The Punchbowl with pals GUY PELLY and PIERS ADAMS INSTEAD of his missus.

The source said: "Guy decided to make the move for the pub without her because he loves it and can't wait to put his sense of style into it."

Singh then extrapolates that Madonna and Guy are calling it quits, but adds a rider:
Pals fear things have cooled between the pair and they'll go their separate ways—but will hold off announcing the decision for 18 months.

Now, obviously, he's added this 18 month thing because everyone will have forgotten the story if they're still flying round the world as a couple, adopting childrens, come Christmas 2010, but it makes for an uncomfortable phrase - their pals "fear" they won't announce it for 18 months? Eh?

This week just gone

The ten most-searched on terms bringing people to No Rock this week:

1. Lily Allen Naked
2. No Rock And Roll Fun
3. Darkobit
4. Beth Ditto
5. McFly naked
6. Amy Winehouse sex
7. McFly nude
8. Mariah Carey in Playboy
9. Sperm for tickets
10. R Kelly sex video

If we were Gennaro Castaldo, we'd have been arranging delivery of point of sale material to promote these new products:

The Kills - Midnight Boom Oh, please spare them the curse of Kate Moss

MGMT - Oracular Spectacular Just about avoiding falling into 'overhyped' box

The Monochrome Set - The Independent Singles

Hercules & Love Affair - self-titled

Various - Late Night Tales Picked by Groove Armada including Finley Quaye, surprisingly

Colour & City - Bring Me Your Love

Dirtbombs - We Have You Surrounded

Various - You Don't Know Three discs of Ninja Tune stuff

The Alps - Something I Might Regret enabled fan-funded release

Young Knives - Superabundance We suspect the time for the chances of TYK hitting it big have passed a little and they're now doomed to be 2008's Gomez

Squeeze - Frank 20th anniversary re-release package

Various - NME Classics Ill-conceived mix of punk, mainstream indie and late period Depeche Mode (Did NME really like Enjoy The Silence at the time?)

Landscape Mysteries Aubrey Manning gets to grips with the real mystery of Glastonbury