Saturday, April 05, 2008

Brown: It was all Whitney's fault

There have been some self-serving autobiographies, but Bobby Brown's book is so full of self-service it's like a restaurant with a buffet bar, a salad cart, and a help-yourself desert trolley that also expects you to bus your own table:

In a new book, Brown, best known now for his frequent run-ins with the law rather than his onetime Grammy-winning music career, writes that Houston fueled his appetite for drugs and used him to tidy up her image.

Well, if that was the plan, that worked really well, didn't it?

Brown insists that he never used cocaine before he got together with Whitney, and that Whitney used him to try and dampen down stories that she was gay. Yes, even his tell-all book makes him sound like a Family Dollar Ike Turner.

According to E!, Brown also tells stories against himself:
According to the tome's blurb copy, it notes he dated Janet Jackson and Madonna, "sle[pt] with thousands of women," and nearly died from a drug overdose. For boy-band completists, it promises to reveal "the real reason he left New Edition." And for fans of author and music-video star Karrine "Superhead" Steffans, it offers this critique: "Yes, I've spent several nights at her house," Brown writes. "But she was only good for what her nickname stood for."

It does sound as if every segment is going to end "needless to say, I had the last laugh."

Gordon in the morning: Boyzone sex shocker

Despite the inescapable fact that they now look like the cast of Auf Weidersehen Pet, Gordon Smart buys Boyzone's claims that they're going to "sex up" their reunion tour, quoting a source:

"They've held audition for super hot female dancers in a bid to outsex the ones that Take That danced with on stage. I've heard they will be writhing around in their underwear.

"They're also worried about singing live. They came from an era when nobody used to sing on tour so they got away with it. Think of S Club and Steps. But now it's all changed."

Eh? But Boyzone weren't a Steps style band in the first place, were they? Steps could get away with it because they were, effectively, a band designed to wear jump suits and dance, but since Boyzone were supposed to be a vocal group, not singing would be quite a major problem. You'd have thought.

Shane Lynch is apparently curious to see who's going to be coming:
"I have no idea if it will be our old fans or if it's a new young crowd. When I go on stage I'm going to look into the audience and see who's there."

Here's a clue, Mr Lynch: Don't expect too many of a "new, young crowd". You hardly appealed to a new young crowd before you were old enough to be dads and uncles.

Gordon gets a little hot under the collar watching the new Madonna video (although even he admits that it's "new" in the sense of "if you ignore its very obvious debt to the Rock DJ video - when you're ripping off Williams, it really is time to give up, surely?)
POP royalty MADONNA has proved she’s still the Queen when it comes to getting tongues wagging.

The queen of getting tongues wagging? What sort of title is that? Better than being Duchess Of Causing Irritated Tutting, presumably.

But 'getting tongues wagging' is hardly the same thing as 'getting things raunchy' - you can wag a tongue saying "good lord, we can understand what she's trying to do, but why would Justin Timberlake want to get involved?" just as easily as making a Smart-style "I'm feeling moist", can't you?

Meanwhile, if we tell you that Gordon's headline for a story about Geri dating a man is headlined:
Geri: Ivan new man

... can you guess what his name is?

Gordon does redeem himself by pointing out that 'musicians dating their backing dancers' is a bit of a bad way to meet men, based on Mel B, Britney and J-Lo's track record.

A year is a long time in music

If you remember back to last year, Sean Wright embarked on an album-a-month project.

If you've been wondering how it went: well, he delivered album number 12 in March, completing the cycle. Congratulations all round.

Ms Ono goes to Liverpool

One of the attractions of Liverpool's year as one of Europe's two capitals of culture was a visit from Yoko Ono.

Well, we say "attractions", it was certainly on the diary.

Yoko loves Liverpool so much, she often pops back. Sometimes twice in a decade. This time, she was thrilled:

“I’m sure John would have been totally proud of it and I am too.

“I hope it will be a contribution to Capital of Culture in the sense that I wanted to give some love and encouragement and inspiration to people while doing this.

“I think Capital of Culture is so grand and just the thing to make the next generation very different.”

Although since the supposed point of the Capital of Culture is to celebrate the cultural contribution of a place, shouldn't the aim be for the next generation to be exactly the same (as in, equally creative and that.)

We love the contention that Lennon woulde be "totally proud" - given that he hardly set foot in the place after Love Me Do came out, it's hard to see exactly what he'd be proud of.

Talking of former Beatles, Ono attempted to defend Ringo's reputation after he laughed at the very idea of the place on Jonathan Ross' programme:
“Ringo loves Liverpool. If someone said anything bad about Liverpool he would punch them.

“I suppose he just didn’t want to say the predictable, you know, when people are asked if they love their mother and of course they say yes. It’s his sense of humour.”

We've rubbed our eyes a couple of times reading this: Is she suggesting that a hollow laugh when asked what you miss about the city is a joshing response? And since when did Starr ever try to avoid doing the predictable?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bboyobit: Frosty Freeze

Wayne Frost, former member of the Rock Steady Crew, has died after a long illness.

Working under the name Frosty Freeze, Frost joined the second iteration of the Rock Steady Crew, centred on Manhattan. In 1982, the Crew danced at The Ritz, sharing a stage with Bow Wow Wow and Afrika Bambaataa. This provided them with a valuable connections which would turn them from a New York sideshow into, briefly, one of the most prominent names in hip-hop - they were taken under the wing of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation and propelled to international fame: a top ten single in the UK, a major part on a package tour of Europe. And a part in Flashdance.

It went a bit sour after the UK record deal, though, in which the group were first shafted by Charisma and then - after Virgin bought Charisma - they saw themselves dropped. The fall-out split the Crew; Frost would not participate in the 1991 revival. He did join with some of his former colleagues in 2004 for a VH1 awards ceremony.

Wayne continued to appear at Hip Hop events in his home state of New York, up until he fell seriously ill at the start of this year. He died yesterday at the age of 44.


With a shake of a designer's wand and a spot of coding in the background, Radiohead's website sprouts a social networking add on.

Just like Fifty Cent has.

We're still puzzled as to the marketing value of this, though: don't you want your uber-fans elsewhere spreading the word? Evangelising on Facebook rather than locked in to your cathedral.

What, no Professor Shorofsky?

Peter Paphides constructs an interesting Top 20 in the today's Times, nominating the Top 20 starmakers of our rock and pop age.

It's been inspired by a desperate push from the Music Producer's Guild, who are trying to persuade the Brits to include non-performers in the categories as well. Yes, that would work brilliantly - after all, it's not like everyone used to hit the pause button to cut the now-defunct Best Producer category out their VHS of the prize ceremony in the past, is it? Of course, it's possible that they could have their own Brit Awards - like the Craft BAFTAs - and we're sure if the terms of the deal to transmit the Brits forced ITV to take it, a slot on the alarm-clock side of midnight would be made available on ITV3 one Wednesday to put the highlights out.

But for now, those who also help get Adele records into Woolworths must rely on the glow of the Paphides' list.

It's a fairly resilient list, too, although we're not sure that three people can take the responsibility for Arctic Monkey's success. Although it is refreshing that none of them are MySpace-related.

It's right and proper that George Ergatoudis' Radio One role, and its power to make taste, is recognised. But not if you really believe that his biggest contribution to the UK music scene is promoting The View.

Melvin Benn feels misplaced; and his key success is listed as "Reading and Leeds", although that's a festival rather than an actual pop star, and surely Glastonbury is more influential anyway? Benn's role in Somerset is more Royal Corps of Signals than ENSA, which means that Emily Eavis should have his slot, if anyone, and on that basis, alone, Benn should be disqualified.

Worryingly, Conor McNicholas is absent - worryingly for him, of course; and there's almost nobody from the music press and almost nobody from the Internet. In fact, Peter Robinson is there as the only person representing both camps.

That's not quite true, to be fair: Luke Day is there. Who he? Stylist at Attitude. Apparently, having tarted up the Scissor Sister's image puts him ahead of people who don't make the list - everybody at 6Music and Radio 2, for example. The people who pick the music for Skins. The advertising agencies working for Apple and all the mobile phone companies.

Which is quibbling, to be fair. The 20 in full:

Chairman, Universal
President, Syco Records
Managing director, Fiction
President, Live Nation UK
Head of music, Radio 1
Record producer
Head of marketing, Polydor
Television producer, Later… with Jools Holland
Record producer
DJ, Radio 1
Audio engineer
Rough Trade supremos, mentors to Duffy
Director of festivals, Mean Fiddler
Senior A&R manager, Universal/Island
Editor of Popjustice
Director, EMI Music Publishing
Purple PR
President, Domino Recordings

The Yoko Factor

Yoko Ono has found the time to put a sympathetic hand on Heather Mills' shoulder:

Ono has urged Mills to 'stay strong'. She says, "It's not very easy for a woman to be associated with the Beatles. I think all the wives did suffer but suffer quietly and endured." Yoko also says the mother-of-one "needs to do her very best and try to survive."

Ono's "quiet suffering" includes lawsuits against EMI, cutting deals with Nike to use Instant Karma on adverts for plimsoles, flogging Lennon's artwork to create a range of baby clothing and signing off on using his face to promote Speke Airport. The suffering mostly involves having to look at the large cash sums in your pocketbook without whooping out loud.

Let's hope Mills can somehow figure out a way to "survive" on twenty five million, eh?

It might seem odd that Ono - who has always portrayed herself as a diligent widow tending the flame of the her husband's legacy - might offer so much support to Heather, although 'pursuing a vendetta with Paul McCartney' might suggest an element of common cause.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Woah, Columbus? Kooks cock snooks

There's a chance to look at the inside-head-thoughts of Luke Pritchard and The Kooks in today's Guardian music and film section.

There's his view of America:

Ask if they are prepared to do anything to break America and you are told: "But that makes it sound like a bad thing to drive around playing shows in all these crazy little towns you'd never get to see otherwise - how could that be bad?"

"Crazy little towns", eh, Luke?

Their first tour of the US was in 2006:

Los Angeles Safari Sam's (September 24)
Club NME, Los Angeles Spaceland (25)
San Francisco Pop Scene (26)
Brooklyn North Six (28)

Here's their 2007 American tour itinerary:

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 29)
San Francisco Slim’s (30)
Portland Doug’s Fir Lounge (May 2)
Seattle Crocodile Café (3)
Chicago Metro (5)
Columbus The Basement (7)
Toronto Government (8)
New York Irving Plaza (10)
New York Irving Plaza (11)
Washington DC 9:30 Club (12)
Boston Paradise Rock Club (13)

And here's where they're playing next month:

5/18 San Diego, CA - House of Blues
5/19 Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern
5/22 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore
5/24 Vancouver, BC - Commodore Ballroom
5/26 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom
5/28 Salt Lake City, UT - Avalon Theatre
5/29 Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
5/31 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Café
6/01 Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall Ballroom
6/02 Chicago, IL - Vic Theatre
6/04 Toronto, ON - Kool Haus
6/05 Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore @ TLA
6/06 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
6/07 Washington, DC - 9.30 Club
6/11 New York, NY - Terminal 5

Good lord, you've really gotten off the beaten track there, Luke. With the possible exception of Columbus Ohio, there's nothing that an pensioner's whistle-stop tour of the States wouldn't have visited. And Columbus is hardly "a crazy little town": it's the state capital of Ohio, 15th biggest city in the US, population of three quarters of a million.

Could Luke be trying to romanticise his band's "struggles"?

He bridles when the Sophie Heawood suggests they might be posh:
But suggest they are posh, and there is a murmur of dissent - their frontman may have boarded at Bedales, the liberal school in Hampshire, but, he says, he felt out of place there among the offspring of millionaires. And they didn't all go to private schools, they protest - new bass player Dan Logan was home-schooled - and what does class matter anyway?

You have to be quite desperate to try and live down your well-connected, fluffed-pillowed roots to offer "being home-schooled" as an example of a tough background. It's right up there with "I'm not posh; my chauffeur doesn't wear a cap".

The band try and fight the accusations that their music is a bit limp, but actually wind up demonstrating exactly what the problem is:
"The thing is," says Pritchard, "talking to other friends in bands, whether they're signed to indies or majors, they seem to have a lot more meddling from their label. But because we deliver pop songs - in their terms, songs they can work with - they always leave us to it. Our A&R guy only came to the studio once while we were recording the album."

Now, that could be a sign that the label have such faith in The Kooks that they don't need to worry about what they're up to. On the other hand - actually, the same hand - the label have such confidence that the band are going to deliver something so commercially attuned, they don't need to worry. If a cow learned to cut its own arse up into steaks and to make beefburgers with its own eyelids, you wouldn't need a slaughterman.

Daily Mail: When headlines disappoint

This, we must admit, did sound exciting:

Viva La Diva! Mariah Carey's outrageous demands for a dog chauffeur, 100 pairs of shoes and a £1,000 throne

But it turns out she wanted someone to drive her dog around, not to have her own car driven by a labrador in a peaked cap.

Darkness at 3AM: When headlines fib

This morning, there's an eyecatching headline on 3AM:


Although, actually, a more honest headline would be 'Liam behaves like an embarrassment at the Rolling Stones film so Nicole didn't stand next to him'.

Which, actually, is 'wife stands in different part of room to husband'.

Still, the report of Liam at the movie is almost endearing:
An onlooker said: "It was hilarious. He was really getting into it and at one point stood up and started clapping and cheering."

Ah, bless. He probably thinks Mick Jagger is really twenty feet tall, as well.

Gordon in the morning: Jennifer Aniston breasts shocker

In a picture special, Gordon reveals a shock for all of us: Jennifer Aniston has nipples. You can even see them if you squint a bit. Obviously, not the actual nipples - it's not like she's topless or anything - but the vague outline of them under a top.

Yes, Gordon has resurrected his "Smarties league", which, erm, is somehow trying to quantify having nipples and turning it into a competition. As if, somehow, pointing at a woman because her nipples are slightly erect in a photo becomes slightly less the work of a prepubescent mind if you make a list while you do it.

One of the bigger boys told Gordon a secret about what ladies have down there during morning break yesterday; it can only be a matter of time before he organises some sort of Fuzzy Lady Garden knockout cup.

Meanwhile, Smart hears news that Adele and her boyfriend have split, as teenagers often do. Gordon's upset:

I was chuffed when the teen songstress finally found a fella [...]
now the larger-than-life singer has been DUMPED for a stick-thin model

Yes, Gordon's tears are little more than a chance to trot out some 'Adele's fat' references, while having a pop at people with funny names:
Bassist Slinky — who I would love to see introduce himself with a straight face — is now dating the equally crazily named Burberry model MORWENNA LYTTON- COBBOLD.

We've been looking at Morwenna's name, trying to work out exactly what is so "crazy" about it. It can't be Morwenna, which while not common isn't exactly unusual, and the surname isn't of the Spacemonster-Spaghettihat sort of made-up silliness. Could Gordon have been thrown by the idea of a hyphenated name? I'm picturing him sitting in the office yelling "look, guys, this girl's got a minus sign in her name..."

Carphone Warehouse: We won't be music cops

Carphone Warehouse, despite having one of those Kid Jensen style names that looks more and more ill-chosen as time goes by, has told the BPI that it's not going to be bending over and watching its customer's filesharing.

Charles Dunstone says TalkTalk won't SnoopSnoop:

Mr Dunstone, whose TalkTalk broadband is Britain's third biggest internet provider, said the demands are unreasonable and unworkable.

He also said his firm will refuse to cooperate with the BPI, despite threats of legal action.

The BPI, of course, is belligerent and threatening in response:
But the BPI said internet firms need to educate their customers not to steal music.

It also claims that if they do not help with the fight against music piracy, then the government will bring in legislation to make them cooperate.

Obviously, this isn't a direct quote from the BPI but even so - "make them co-operate". How co-operative is one being if compelled with threat of legal action?

It's possible that TalkTalk is more worried about the cost implications than the privacy concerns, but at least someone is telling the BPI a firm "no".

Thursday, April 03, 2008

MySpace is all about the music

There's a couple of interesting pieces on the announcement of MySpace Music, a joint venture between News International, Sony-BMG, Warners and Universal. First up, Hypebot weighs the winners and losers - EMI being a prime loser. It seems that getting a new digital overlord onboard hasn't come a moment too soon for EMI, although it might have been a few moments too late. There's no structural reason why they're not part of the joint venture, which suggests that the team running EMI's digital strategy simply made a bum decision.

As Hypebot points out, they're going to join sooner or later. But not being part of the first wave makes them look like they've not quite got their act together.

More worryingly for EMI, their eventual elevation will be like the UK joining the EU - you can never, ever, quite make the place your own when you turn up when the party has already been running for a few hours. You're always on the backfoot.

Amongst the winners for Hypebot, perhaps surprisingly, is Facebook - the theory being that as this is a non-exclusive deal, there's now a model for them to use and precedents set. It makes Facebook Music a much, much easier sell.

Over on PaidContent talks to Chris DeWolf, MySpace CEO. He offers some reasoning as to why Universal woke up this morning as a company suing MySpace, and goes to bed as a business partner:

We went out and talked to our users, with focus group, polls and determined what was the optimal online music experience, especially in a social environment. Modern music is all about letting users define their own music experience. So we mapped that up, put that together, and then went to the labels, and said: ‘Here where we think the future of music industry should go, and here’s how it should look. Lets do this together.’ We spent the next few months putting together the business plan that made sense for us, labels and the artists. And we got the deal done fairly quickly, in music industry terms. I think they are all thinking the same way, and out of the box. CD sales are down 20 percent over last year and how do they replace it. We showed them a viable model.

We're not sure that a group of people thinking the same way can be thinking "out of the box", but let's not let a mixed metaphor drown out the sound of a penny dropping.

Caveats, though: This isn't the first trumpeting of a major MySpace music initiative: Snocap? MySpace's record label?

And, more to the point, it's not entirely clear this is doing anything more than finding a way to charge for the music that's already all over MySpace like a Geldof girl over a skinny-legged guitarist. It's certainly interesting, but we'll wait until the boom before we'll know if the world has shattered.

Acceptable in the airports

Calvin Harris claims to have lost his new album in the Heathrow turmoil:

The dance musician, from Dumfries, in the south of Scotland, was returning to the UK from America when the bag containing his laptop went missing.

A spokeswoman for his record company confirmed it contained the only copy of work on Mr Harris' second album.

"They have offered about £750 in compensation," said the spokeswoman.

"You can't really put a price on something like a new record."

Well, presumably you could, if you wanted to - after all, that's what record companies businesses are all about, isn't it?

More to the point: who on earth would check a laptop - never mind one which has your only copy of your new album on? And, without wanting to sound too harsh: if the album was worth a whole lot more than £750, wouldn't it have been worth making a back-up copy?

Jay-Z goes to LiveNation

So, all those predictions about Jay-Z joining Apple to launch a record label: Not true. It seems that he's instead going to join LiveNation instead, in what describe as:

a deal similar to those already signed by Madonna and U2.

Although since the U2 and Madonna deals are quite different - one a recording contract, the other a merchandising one only - it's hard to see how it can be similar to both.

The NME report also suggests that LiveNation is going to help fund Jay-Z's other business interests, as well, which proves that even although the banks have decided to stop pissing away money on crackpot schemes, there are still people who will fund any old whim providing it's got a shiny brand name attached to it.

Madonna and Guy go to bed for a quick RIM push

Yes, it's true: Madonna and Guy Thingybloke both take their Blackberries to bed and love their Research In Motion mobile devices.

Madonna apparently needs hers in case she "remembers something during the night" - presumably like how her career isn't what it once was, her creativity has been worn out since the end of the last millennium, her credibility has been shot ever since she became a spokesperson for a cult and that Swept Away is still available on DVD. If she remembers all that, a quick check on her First Direct account balance will always calm her down.

A little glimpse into how divorced from reality she is:

"It's not unromantic, it's practical. I'm sure loads of couples have their Blackberrys in bed with them."

Besides practicality being the sworn enemy of romance, does she really think lots of couples go to bed with Blackberries? It's not like they've got cameras in them.

Meanwhile, Madonna has also told Elle in the same interview about life with Guy:
"I had to marry someone as tough as me. Guy's definitely tough. I had to marry a challenge, otherwise I would just get bored," she said.

"Whatever else Guy is, he's never boring."

She had to marry a challenge? What, was there a Rubik's Cube sat in the back row of the church sobbing "it should have been me"?

And while we hate to take issue with her claim that Guy's never boring... well: Layer Cake.

It's on a par with, say, Will Young joining UKIP

Some nervousness over in Kuwait where, apparently, pop star Hussein al-Ahmad has quit the industry. Not for him, though, the usual afterlife of the failed popstar - he's not going to make two poorly-received movies, try his hand at writing an autobiography and then booking a comeback tour with Kim Wilde and Bananarama.

Oh, no: he's supposedly joined Al-Qaeda.

The trigger-happy terrorists are delighted, of course, hoping that fans will buy into the concept of jihad in the same way that Britney Spears fans will happily buy her perfume because it's got her picture on it.

They're making a video to celebrate their new signing:

Al-Ahmad's friend, Miftaf Lughzi confirmed this in an interview with the Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera.

"I believe that a video has been produced by al-Sahab [the television production arm of al-Qaeda]," said Lughzi.

"He should have given an interview which will be released on the Internet in three months," he said.

In three months? Bloody hell, the Stone Roses could make a video faster than that. Even EMI would suggest that in the digital age, you might look at a slightly faster turn-around between recording and distribution.

Al-Ahmad became famous through a local Pop Idol-style programme, Star Academy, although clearly the offer of a large number of virgins in paradise forever seemed more attractive than the number seventeen slot in the Kuwaiti download chance and the opportunity to have your life shaped by the closest thing Al Rawdatayn has to a Louis Walsh.

It might seem strange to us to exchange a pop career for a life in armed struggle, but who has seen Alex Parks recently?

Wasn't there meant to be a virus wiping all mention of him off the internet anyway?

Despite it having been an April Fool's Joke, the NME's 'Winehouse to appear in Doctor Who' story is looking set to have as much of an afterlife as the Bob Holness saxophone line: Fark is reporting it as close-to-fact this morning. It's now April 3rd.

More to the point, though, is the question of why, when Harriet Jones voted against the Iraq War, she didn't pull the UK out of Iraq when she was PM - as, clearly, the Torchwoodentops were watching news coverage of it the other week. Doesn't make any sense, does it?

[Thanks to Michael M for the tip about Fark]

The Word is sorry

Morrissey has had his day in court over the NME story from last year, and has won an apology from a magazine. Although it's The Word that has apologised in the High Court, for a piece by David Quantick that referenced Tim Jonze's original NME report and, according to Morrissey's legal team, could, in the words of the MediaGuardian report:

have been construed to suggest that he was a racist, held racist opinions or that - as the child of migrant parents - he was a hypocrite.

The magazine offered its sincerest apologies to Morrissey.

Morrissey himself issued a statement reiterating his intention to pursue the NME and Conor McNicholas.

Venuewatch: The Point goes to court

One of the UK's premier circuit venues, The Point in Cardiff, is having to go to court to fight a 'keep the noise down' notice that had been issued after neighbours complained.

Of course, when the Point opened, there were no neighbours, but now part of Cardiff's share of the oversupply of posh flats have appeared round the corner. You have to wonder why the venue is being forced to bow to the will of people who moved into flats by a nightclub and then realised it could be noisy. It's precisely the urban equivalent of those idiots who move to the country and complain about the tractors.

Apple at the top of the tree

Although it's as much down to WalMart cutting back its CD ranges as growth in the iTunes store, last month Apple became the biggest music retailer in the US. According to Ars Technica, nearly one out of every five songs sold in America comes through iTunes.

Asinine headline of the week

Did the Daily Mail really find it necessary to ask this question:

So why was Corinne Bailey Rae so deeply in love with her husband found dead in a drugs den?

Aside from being a pointless question in the first place - because the heart wants what the heart wants, Alison Boshoff - the second half is clumsy and a little cruel. Presumably, when Bailey Rae fell in love with Jason he wasn't, at that point, dead in a drugs dead?

Darkness at 3AM: Who is the enemy?

This is actually from yesterday's 3AM column, the latest one available online. The Enemy have been planting trees as part of a volunteer initiative - which is admirable. We had our eye caught by Tom Clarke's quote, though:

"Giving up a bit of our time opened our eyes to the difference volunteers can make to ordinary people's lives."

How nice that - despite hitting 41 with their latest single - Clarke can still find some time to help out the ordinary people. It's expected he'll also help the poor folks and the little guys in other initiatives later this year.

Just a side note, though: hats off to whoever added the words "The band have never heard any records by The Jam" to the Enemy's Wikipedia entry. Twice.

Gordon in the morning: Some things hurt more, much more than cars and girls

Lewis Hamilton and Dannii Minogue are having a secret date. It's on May 25th, in Monaco.

Admittedly, that's not very secret, is it?

It's also not very much of a story - despite a hopeful headline:

Get a vroom will you Lewis!

... the pair are still almost two months away from their first date, never mind touching. So there's a surprising amount of padding. We discover that Dannii "knows a lot" about cars - although there's no mention of how much Hamilton might know about second-string sibling pop. Of course, Dannii has breasts, which is always good for a line or two:
Nice to see she’s playing her cards close to her ample chest.

And, of course, Gordon needs to share his forecast for this relationship:
Lewis clearly knows his way around shiny bodywork and Dannii is in pole position. I reckon this pair could burn some serious rubber together.

Yes, they might screw each other, Gordon. Thanks for your insight.

But if 'couple arrange tentative date' is the big news, what does that imply about the rest of Gordon's work this morning?
Sexy stars and their lucky dogs

Yes, Gordon spends some time looking at photos of people with their dogs and tries to introduce a slightly disturbing sex angle:
IF I get reincarnated, I want to come back as a dog - they grab the attention of some of the world's sexiest stars.
So I'm praying it's a dog's life for me next time round.

But, Gordon, you know it's not like Jennifer Aniston has sex with her dog, or that Rhianna's dog doesn't think "waa-heeey" - because it's a different species. You do know that, don't you?
RIHANNA's lucky hound looks hot under the collar after being held tight by the singer when she stepped out in Hollywood.

Apparently not. The thing is, the dog in the photo doesn't even look like it's anything other than slightly scared, never mind "hot under the colour".

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Krautrockobit: Klaus Dinger

Co-founder of Neu!, Klaus Dinger, has been buried in a private ceremony in Germany.

Briefly taking the drummer role in Kraftwerk in 1970, he appeared on debut album Kraftwerk before leaving to concentrate on other projects. With fellow Kraftwerk escapee Michael Rother he founded krautrock touchstone Neu! and with it, the Motorik sound. Although considered the creator of the genre, Dinger never succeeded in getting his preferred term, Apache Beat, to stick.

By the time of Neu! 75, the very different approaches of Dinger and Rother was tearing the band apart - in effect, the album was a shared record by two separate bands. A hiatus became, in effect, a split disc by two separate groups, and Dinger set off to create a band in which he would hold more sway.

The result, La Dusseldorf, carried much of the Neu fanbase with them, and although not perhaps causing the McCartneys and Bonos much concern in terms of competition, the band managed sales into seven figures.

An attempt at a Neu! reunion in 1985 managed to reignite the creative spark of the band, but also regenerated many of the conflicts; the band fell apart again after a few months, although they had recorded enough for an album's worth of material, Neu! 4, which wouldn't see a release for almost a decade.

After the failure of Neu!, Dinger moved on to what was almost a Krautrock version of the Bucks Fizz/Dollar hybrid - La Neu, fusing Neu with La Dusseldorf; he was given a sub-label by Captain Trip record to try out ideas which saw about eight albums of varying invention and quality. The label, Dingerland, and La Neu both ceased to work in 2001.

Dinger suffered a fatal heart failure on March 20th.

Merrill clinched: Google man leaps to EMI

EMI's Terra Firma bosses might be showing a lack of care with its music and A&R staff, but their hirings for the technology side at least shows a determination to try and understand the web. A bit. Douglas Merrill has been poached from Google to take the responsibility for the company's digital strategy, encompassing:

“leadership responsibility for all of the company’s digital strategy, innovation, business development, supply chain and global technology activities.”

Given that their CD sales are disappearing, that's going to be pretty much all of what EMI does in five years. If they asked him to put a damp cloth round the washrooms every couple of days, he'd be the only member of staff they need.

Talking to PaidContent, Merrill was clearly a man who isn't quite in a position to talk about specifics:
I think the industry as a whole has got some really interesting experiments in what the future world is. I think EMI has done some really terrific things like their recent move to DRM-free. But, as for me, I always start with principles. The first principle is simple: Fans want to experience art and artists want to create. What the roles of the music labels are in connecting artists, helping artists create, to fans, helping fans experience, I think it’s TBD. ... I think there are some interesting experiments but what I want to do at EMI is a whole bunch more experiments. We don’t yet know what the real business model is going to be. We have to do more experiments, try more things to see what works. Artists want to create and they want to sell, fans want to experience those things. What’s the role of the labels? I don’t know.”

Considering EMI must have offered a lot to him to tempt him away from Google and his "ideal" CIO role, the good people at Terra Firma might be a little concerned to hear his plan is, uh, you know, to try stuff. It's the sort of approach that works well in tech companies; it might go down less well in a 100 year-old business that has been fading for the last few years. The Messiah turning up and asking for a year or two to fiddle with test tubes and bunsen burners might prove a disappointment for those who are left there.

Thirty years of straight lines

Coming soon, according to stuff leaking onto the internet, a 30th anniversary celebration tour of Parallel Lines. Whitney Matheson suggests this could be why Debbie Harry hadn't been doing Blondie stuff on her recent jaunts; presumably, also, the UK festival dates will be a chance for the band to get their grooves sorted before kicking off on the birthday dates.

Gym Class Heroes: henceforward performing in pants and vests

The Gym Class Heroes actually end up with more clothes than they start with by the end of their live sets, what with the girls and boys throwing their nethergarments at them. So they're going to scoop them up and donate them to charity. They're probably letting us know so that, in future, fans will thrown more warm coats, fewer unwashed gussted-items.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Leeds Festival has riot before it happens

Yes, it's quite a feather in the cap of the Leeds Festival: while its reputation for sometimes ending in riot and disturbance is oft told in tale and song, this year it's managed to generate a mini-riot before anyone had bought a ticket.

HMV in York opened early to flog tickets, but the queues which started to gather were a little unruly, reports the York Press:

The area outside the HMV store in Coney Street "looked like a bombsite" after rock fans arrived in the early hours to secure their places at the Leeds Festival.

They took tables and chairs from nearby bars, as well as pub umbrellas to shelter them from the rain, before leaving them littering the street along with piles of other rubbish.

Some urinated in doorways and lanes leading to neighbouring shops, while city centre street-cleaning teams endured a torrent of abuse and had to dodge cans and plastic bottles hurled at them as they tried to tidy up - leading to police being called in to calm the situation yesterday morning.

Gennaro Castaldo - who else? - rides to try and smooth the ruffled feathers of traders and abused street sweepers:
"It was unfortunate and regrettable that a small minority of people queuing for the tickets showed a lack of consideration and respect for most of the other fans there, and also for the environment they were in," said spokesman Gennaro Castaldo.

"All we wanted to do was give real music fans a chance to buy tickets for this great event rather than missing out online or having to resort to touts. If anybody was upset or offended by the behaviour, including our immediate trading neighbours, then on behalf of HMV, I offer our most sincere apologies.

"We're also very grateful to the council and their employees for being on the case so promptly to clear up the litter - they did a great job."

You'll note that Castaldo seems to have asked if there was any way that HMV could perhaps help to cover the costs of the extra cleaning and the police being directed from their every day work - after all, the money made from flogging 200 sets of Leeds tickets must leave something in the kitty for HMV to make amends.

[Thanks to Ben H for the link and tip]

DABhands: The Register takes on digital radio

There's a curious piece about DAB radio on The Register this lunchtime, in which Steve Green suggests that the answer to DAB's problems is technological. Well, of course he does, he's writing for a tech audience. And there's some merit in his prescription - better quality, more stations, DAB+ instead the current DAB would be nice, even desirable, and it is unfortunate that Ofcom have barred Channel 4 Radio from using DAB+.

But is that really the sort of thing that is causing a problem for DAB? Is GCap really quitting the platform because it's worried about the audio quality? Or is it just the transmission costs were too high for a station which had little in the way of programming or promotional budget and so attracted tiny audiences? It's worth noting that a push for TheJazz had only just started when Hazlitt pulled the plug on the station in its entirety. GCap's problem with DAB isn't a technological problem - it's the same problem which pairs Van Outen with Vaughan (again) on the breakfast show and can't decide if XFM should have daytime djs or not.

Green also shoots his own argument down quite convincingly:

There are a few DAB+ models on sale today, and the manufacturers will be releasing a wide range of receivers later this year in time for new markets in Australia, Switzerland, and Germany, who are all starting to use the new standard. But it's unlikely that there will be any DAB+ stations launched in the UK before 2010 to 2011, and even then it will take a few years to complete the transition. By which time DAB+ will be as outdated as DAB is today.

Yes, Green does seem to be arguing that we should rush to adopt DAB+ before it becomes, inevitably, and swiftly, obsolete:
, any such 4G broadcast standard would inevitably make DAB+ look ridiculously inefficient in comparison. And this in turn would raise serious doubts over the economic viability of DAB+. Ofcom's decision to delay using DAB+ will be seen in years to come as a mark of technology tragedy.

Uh... yeah. Just think how much money we could be pouring into a technology that will be obsolete before Pip Archer is old enough to spend time with the young farmers without worrying her Dad.

DAB has had for a while the feeling of a middle technology - everything will be streaming from the heavens before too long, in wifi or wimax or music-rain - and there's a good argument for admitting that, perhaps, the wrong horse was backed at the end of the 90s but there's little point in an expensive switchover for a system that will be the subject of comedy routines in Student Unions in Olympic Year ("remember Bagpuss? He used to have a DAB radio...")

The more curious question, though, is whether DAB is in crisis anyway. Green sets out to paint a picture of a technology that is in decline, firstly by posting a graph showing a long, slow tailing off of DAB set sales.

But hang on a moment - this is a graph showing a decline not in sales, but in increase in sales. So, the lowly bottom end of this "failure" chart still shows sets being sold in 10% greater quantities than twelve months before. Yes, it's not as impressive as the 200% sales rise back in 2004, but that was, of course, back when hardly anyone had ever bought a DAB radio. If you sell 1000 radios in year one, 2000 in year two and 3000 in year three, your rate of increase of sales is dropping off alarmingly but your actual sales are doing rather well.

Green then points to the promotions for DAB on the radio:
Successful formats don't need free adverts on BBC TV to prop them up.

Really? Then why do they trail EastEnders?

Half-chewed Lennon song offered as a bone

The NME picks up on the Sun's story this morning that suggests that Ringo Starr and Macca might get together to turn some of Lennon's unfinished work into yet another lost Beatles song.

The scrap, called Now And Then, is being mooted as a possible tribute to Neil Aspinall. As a man who dedicated his working life to trying to stop there being too much silly exploitation of the Beatles brand, what could be a greater tribute than to undo all his work by another stunt Lennon song from beyond the grave?

Will Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr get together to finish the song?

asks the NME.

No, guesses everyone else.

Embed and breakfast man: Los Campesinos

Let's just put things on hold for long enough to look at the new Los Campesinos video, shall we?

It's called My Year In Lists, by the way.

Ted Nugent loves his guns

We do love that people keep giving platforms to Ted Nugent to talk about gun rights as the more the pro-gun lobby parades violent, ignorant, paranoids to represent them, the better the 'why do you need an assault rifle' side looks.

Nugent had gone to Western Michigan University to speak up for guns:

"Nothing makes me happier than idiots attacking me," he said. "I take crowbars with self-evident truth on the end of it and whop liberals on the head every day."

Not, of course, that there's any link between violence and gun-ownership. It's just unfortunate that Nugent seems incapable of debating his point without lurching into violent imagery.
Nugent said Michigan needs leaders "who are absolutists, uncompromising of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Michigan Constitution."

Is Nugent sure that he wants leaders who are uncompromising on the Constitution? Only the right to bear arms wasn't in the original constitution, was it? It was, in itself, an ammendment and presumably an absolutist view of the constitution would refuse the possibility of any amending?

Rap songs: It's all about the drugs

The Mail is excited this morning to discover the Denise Herd's study from Addiction Research & Theory that suggests that the number of references to drugs has increased:

Dr Herd, reporting in the journal Addiction Research & Theory, found that, of the 38 most popular songs between 1979 and 1984, only four - or 11 per cent - contained drug references.

By the late 1980s, that number had increased to 19 per cent.

After 1993, 69 per cent of rap songs mentioned drug use. Mentions of cannabis and "blunts" - marijuana-stuffed cigars - doubled between 1979 and 1997.

Yes, the study only runs up until 1997, so effectively the Mail is running a story about how bad rap was eleven years ago.

Not that that stops the Mail from illustrating "bad" drugs raps with a chunk of lyrics from an Eminem track from 1999. Mind you, they also illustrate "good" (i.e. anti-) drug songs with a chunk of White Lines (Don't Do It), whose credentials as a crusading track are somewhat undermined by it having been written as a love song to coke with the meaning flipped to ensure radio play.

The use of "percentage of rap songs mentioning drugs" is also a bit of a weak measure - couldn't the story here be less about how now more songs talk about drugs, and more about a general shift of rap from being a form of political and social commentary to being a hymnal for the joys of capitalist consumption?

The report itself seems to suggest so:
Recent songs with drug references were three times more likely to have themes related to glamour and wealth than earlier titles, and seven times more likely to emphasise drug use as recreation or as an accompaniment to sex.

Is the increasing linking of drugs and money a sign of a more drug-positive culture in rap - or merely that, by the mid-90s, rappers had moved from the underclass to Business Class?

Gordon in the morning: IMDB shocker

We're a little puzzled about the excitement over the "discovery" that Dita Von Teese has made some blue movies. Leading off Gordon's column this morning, Brian Flynn gets all panty:

Dita has a secret porn flick past

This is, apparently, an "exclusive", although how exclusive "something listed on IMDB and in her Wikipedia entry" can be is questionable.
BUSTY new Wonderbra model DITA VON TEESE has a secret hardcore porn past, The Sun can reveal.

It's neither secret nor particularly hardcore, to be honest:
In one scene the former wife of goth rocker MARILYN MANSON romps with a leggy beauty with a sex toy. In another she cavorts with two stunners in corsets.

Goodness. You wonder how many times Mr Flynn had to watch this to make sure. Perhaps he was so riveted with the, uh, shock he wasn't able to check with this "secret past" really was as secret he seems to believe.

If you went down the adult book shop, and asked the guy behind the counter for "something hardcore", and got home to discover a DVD with someone "cavorting" with "two stunners in corsets", you might feel a little short-changed, mightn't you?

The Sun tries to suggest that Wonderbra are going to be shocked and upset to discover that VonTeese has these items on her cv and tries to work up some outrage:
Dita’s burlesque show had previously been seen as so high brow she was even interviewed on Radio 4.

But - and let's assume that anyone has ever thought her act highbrow - why would a few films she made years ago suddenly make what she's doing now any less artistically valid? If it turned out Damien Hirst used to be a strippergram when he was 18, it doesn't suddenly change the stuff he's done since, does it?

We've observed before that the Sun - a paper which, effectively, is built on topless girls - has a strange attitude to the women who actually make the sort of material upon which it thrives. Can either Gordon or Brian explain exactly what it is that's supposed to be the problem here? Or are they merely working their way through the early movies of everyone currently working in showbiz?

It's worth noting that while the Bizarre column is having a little fume at Von Teese for having made a film - for adults - on the top left, on the top right Smart is running a picture looking down Kelly Brook's top at her tits. Isn't that sort of thing - in a "family" newspaper - much more sleazy than a adult movie, made for, and watched by, adults?

And - having condemned Von Teese for appearing in movie where she cavorts with women in corsets - right underneath, here's a piece by Gordon, right underneath, with a photo of Abbey Clancy:
HERE’s ABBEY CLANCY cavorting in hot pants and a corset for a new ad campaign for lads’ deodorant.

Boyfriend PETER CROUCH must think he has scored every night going out with such a gorgeous lass.

See more shots of Abbey by clicking on the link below.

So... that's Gordon Smart running hardcore porn, then, is it?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Krazy House fined

Liverpool Crown Court have fined the owners of the Krazy House £50,000 with £30,000 costs after a club-goer fell down a liftshaft. Leanne Shearer mistook a goods lift door for an exit and fell onto a hard floor on New Years Day, 2006 - she has since recovered.

Supergrass: Save the suits

You don't often hear this: a band arguing for a record label not to axe the management. Gaz Coombes tells Gigwise that EMI needs to be careful:

“I think as a company there’s no reason why it can’t just carry on but our only wish I suppose as a band is that they don’t get rid of too many Tony Wadworth’s,” the band’s frontman Gaz Coombes said.

“He knew about music and had a good approach and wasn’t too biz about the whole thing.

“I think it’s good if you keep those people around.”

Yes. "People who know a little about the business the company is in" can, quite often, be valuable.

This sort of joke always goes wrong

Every year, it seems, some radio station will announce a secret surprise show by a cool band as their April Fool's gag.

Every year, it goes terribly wrong as too many people turn up and it all gets a bit ugly.

This year, learning the lesson of forgotten recent history: Rock FM in Auckland, who were surprised when people started canceling work and booking flights for a 'surprise acoustic Foo Fighters gig'.

Lily Allen: Stay-at-home Friends

Lily Allen has been thinking, and come up with a "plausible" reason for Lily Allen and Friends being so dreadful: the, erm, studios.

Apparently, then, it was the studios which made the programme an ill-conceived rag-bag of bits of stuff downloaded off YouTube strung together by awkward interviewees and embarrassed silences. Somehow.

Lily explains:

"The type of audience that loves me will travel to a club in London but won't travel all that way outside of London to a studio."

Pinewood. It's hardly Taunton, is it?

Besides, an audience who loves you, but not enough to take a thirty minute train ride isn't exactly showing the deepest love, is it? "I would do anything for love... but I won't do Denham station."

It's also not clear why the programme being filmed in Pinewood meant the "type of audience that loves" Lily somehow couldn't be persuaded to make the journey to the BBC Three button to watch the programme at home. Perhaps the viewers were all stuck on Chiltern Railways?

Holy Fuck do over Radiohead

The highlight of the Radiohead Nude remix contest so far: Holy Fuck's workover [MP3]

Industry shutters

Captains Of Industry - the label-home to Gay For Johnny Depp, Hell Is For Heroes and 21 Gun Salute amongst others - has called it a a day:

Captains Of Industry record label announces dissolution.

To celebrate our 5th anniversary record label Captains Of Industry is ceasing trading as of April 1 2008.

Captains Of Industry began life as a collective in 2003. Outlined in a series of communiqués we detailed a ‘5 Year Plan’ (“to release some cool records”). Those five years have now passed and the circle is complete.

Captains Of Industry exit just as they entered – with dignity and health intact. No bitterness, no bankruptcies, no falling’s out.

The recently launched Captains Of Industry Books imprint will continue.

Entirely self-funded and existing for its duration in a time of major transition for music, without so much as an office, phone-line or ‘fruit and flowers’ budget, from 2003 to 2008 Captains Of Industry have released over 40 singles, EPs and albums by bands from the UK, USA, Australia, Iceland and Switzerland.

Captains Of Industry could not have existed without help from Cargo Records, James Sherry at Division Promotions, Justin Schlosberg, Chay Woodman and many great bands and supporters.

Captains Of Industry were Lee Milmore, Ben Myers, Richard Myers and Gary Robson.

They will, of course, be sadly missed.

You have to hope this is a gag... but it isn't

No, the announcement of another collaboration between Weller, Gallagher N and Gem from Heavy Stereo is not a gag.

James P wrote to tell us about DigitalSpy's spoof: Fearne Cotton being made head of ITV Entertainment:

Cotton said: "It's amazing. I can't actually believe it, it's brilliant. Wicked.

Sadly, though, DSpy have taken the page down since. Perhaps it was someone spoofing them rather than an idea that originated in their own offices.

Talking with a mouth full: Warners in all you can eat talks

The music industry looks dead set on adopting a potentially calamitous piecemeal approach to all-you-can-eat pricing, with one label talking to a single ISP here, another cutting a deal with a mobile outfit there.

Warners, the Times is reporting, is talking to British mobile companies to bring a compelling 'as much music as you want, on tap, providing the artists were on Warners at the time they recorded it' proposition to the table.

Can anyone suggest if £3 a month for all of Sony-BMG's back-catalogue is a better deal than, say, £1.50 a week for EMI and Warners?

Winehouse 'looks bigger inside than on the outside'

Nice try, NME, but who do you really think is going to fall for your Amy Winehouse to star as The Rani in Doctor Who story? You'd have to be pretty damn gullible to...

Oh, hang on: Contact Music are reporting it as a fact. Come on, Contact - everyone knows a Doctor Who story isn't genuine unless Russell T has issued a denial.

Friends reunited: Allen gets second series

So, it turns out that Knowing Me, Knowing You wasn't all that realistic: if Lily Allen and Friends can get a second series, then surely Alan Partridge would have?

Turbonegro pull more dates

Turbonegro cancelled their European tour; now they've pulled the April US tour as well. Euroboy is quite badly unwell:

"It is with great further regret that we will now have to cancel our trip to the U.S. in April to play the west coast shows, most regrettably the Coachella festival.

"A huge apology to the U.S. fans and to the promoters. I'm sure that all will understand that this decision wasn't taken lightly, but it is the right decision for Euroboy. He is in good shape, all considered, but his treatment makes it impossible for him be away for long periods of time and certainly not to be taking long haul flights.

"We are keeping the European shows from May 2nd forward in place, as this schedule works within the boundaries of his treatment.

"It's a delicate situation we find ourselves in. Our first priority is Euroboy's health; we'll look at everything else when we know that he is well."

I suspect that a doctor might be able to pull together an on-the-hoof guess at what is actually wrong with him based on the information in that statement.

Darkness at 3AM: What's wrong with our local strippers, eh?

Yesterday, the 3AM column page on the Mirror site was tidied up with proper headlines and teasers and everything. This morning, though, we're back to headlines like this:

Milton Keynes

This did, at least pique our interest, what with us being in Milton Keynes and all. It turns out it's a warning that parking is going to be difficult in June:
Jay-Z is to play with Linkin Park in Milton Keynes in June - and will then head to an after-party at Europe's largest strip club. Apparently, For Your Eyes Only in City Road, London, is the only strip joint which stocks Jay's favourite drink, £600- a-bottle Armand de Brignac bubbly. Classy.

Jay-Z, if you want to pay a ridiculous sum of money for a drink while a bored-looking woman takes her top off, there's any number of places in London you can do that. Just don't hand your credit card over to the doorman as you go in, okay?

Keith Richards: Autobio... what was I doing again?

Keith Richards is having a problem writing his life story. He does so much dope these days, he's having trouble doing that thing, the thing where your brain does that bit and thinks about, you know, what stuff you did back when it wasn't now:

"I can't even remember yesterday. I'm trying to put together an autobiography and it's coming along.

"You have to drag things out of your memory. Some of it you don't even want to remember and others you've totally forgotten, so you end up trying to put your life together again.

"And since I didn't keep a diary, it's a bit difficult."

He probably did keep a diary. Hundreds of them, probably; mostly with just one entry on before they got lost.

Richards has been lecturing younger musicians about drucks a lot recently. He's not actually taking his own advice, though:
"I smoke my head off. I smoke weed all the damn time.

"But that's my benign weed. That's all I take, that's all I do. But I do smoke, and I've got some really good hash."

Ah. Keith's drugs are only benign. But how does he know that Amy Winehouse wasn't doing positive crack?

Gordon in the morning: Kylie sniffs the Stars and Stripes

A perfectly workmanlike piece from the awkwardly-suited one today, reporting Kylie's latest attempt to crack America.

Supposedly, Robbie 'not that he'd be eaten up with jealousy or anything' Williams has been trying to warn her off:

A source revealed: “Kylie has spoken about it with Robbie. He told her he loves being largely unknown when he’s at home in the States, while cash rolls in from the rest of the world.

“Robbie thinks she should keep the US as a place she can go to escape the spotlight. But Kylie doesn’t agree and has decided on one final push.”

Unfortunately, merely typing the words 'Robbie Williams' distracts Smart, who spends the last quarter of the article running through the David Icke/UFOs stories again. In fact, he even forgets to reach any conclusion about Kylie at all.

Meanwhile, the quality of headlines hits a new low this morning. That picture of Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell on the beach?
I do like divorcee by the seaside

It doesn't even scan.

Now that Heather Mills is firmly outside the McCartney organisation, the Sun has hardened its stance against her. Out goes "Mucca" and coy references to "her porn past", now she's:
ex-porn model Heather Mills

Clearly, being a porn model is a bad thing. Erm, unless you enter one the Sun's repeated 'become a Page 3 girl' competitions, in which case being a porn model is a desirable career move.

Gordon also throws in another Amy Winehouse story, suggesting she wants to move house for the third time in a year. Which, erm, is quite odd for a recluse, isn't it?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, Slash: Long slow public suicides are so cool, aren't they?

Slash has woken up and decided to share his perspective on Amy Winehouse's career. He gets a little confused as to whether he thinks it's rock and roll, or tragic:

Amy's cool. She's carrying the torch for rock 'n' roll. I think she's great, not so much because of her personal choices, but because she's a great singer with a unique sound and style. And she doesn't take any shit.

"She's on the verge of greatness, but it would be regrettable if her talent was overshadowed by her extra-curricular activities. She's at a crossroads. I hope she makes the right decision."

Yeah! Rock and roll! But, erm, not rock and roll. Uh... um... shall we do Lily Allen now?

Ofcom clears the Osbournes

Ofcom has weighed up the slew of complaints generated by the Brit Awards - and, in particular, the bit which consisted of Sharon Osbourne screeching obscenities at Vic Reeves - and decided that it's alright, really:

The Brits is an established pop music awards ceremony with a reputation for controversy.

Ofcom noted that, although this show is aimed at a mixed audience rather than children specifically, it was aired during half-term for many schools. However, over the years it has not attracted large numbers of the youngest viewers. As with previous years, this year’s coverage was also scheduled later in the evening, bridging the 21:00 watershed.

The incident between Sharon Osbourne and Vic Reeves, which many viewers highlighted, occurred around 21:35 . During the presentation of an award, which Vic Reeves was having some difficulty announcing, Sharon Osbourne turned to him and said: “Get on with it, you pisshead”, and shortly afterwards, “Shut up you’re pissed, piss off! Piss off you bastard. . . piss off”.

While we understand that this language may have been offensive to some viewers, it was broadcast after the watershed and in a programme with a particular reputation. We believe that regular viewers would have been aware of the likelihood of this kind of material. Further, Ofcom research indicates that the examples of language quoted are generally considered quite mild.

To which we can only say: piss off, surely?

Admittedly, the swearing did come after the 9.00 watershed, but (as far as we know) Ofcom has never formally rejected the ITC's 2002 advice that particular care should be taken with programmes which "appeal to children but start before the watershed" - which, with children's entertainers like Mika, and Sharon Osbourne off tea-time television on board, this would seem to fall into that category like a round peg into a well-lubricated round hole.

Not to mention that ITV had taken its strange step to censor the earlier outburst of bad language before nine o'clock; parents should take responsibility for their children's viewing but how are they supposed to know that ITV will send the bloke with the beeper home as soon as nine o'clock comes round?

We don't think this is a case where books should have been thrown at broadcasters, but we'd have thought that at least Ofcom could have managed a bit of a tut. Yes, the show has reputation for disarray - although not bad language - but simply because ITV tries to promote the show as a crazy, lawless place doesn't mean that it should be allowed to allow such sloppy and pointless coarseness without even the meekest protest from the regulator. That the unbridled swearing came from the host, rather than a guest, surely should make Ofcom a little uncomfortable? No?

GCap falls: An ever more superdense radio company forms tonight

After GWR and Capital merged, there was a lot of excitement about what this powerhouse in local radio would do.

Lose audiences, mostly, it turned out. Now, after a will-they-won't-they that made Niles and Daphne from Frasier look like bed-crashing bone-jumpers, GCap has, in turn, been swallowed up by Global. This is great news for people in London, who can now safely ignore Capital, XFM, Heart, Galaxy and LBC as they'll all be owned by the same company. Ofcom must be thrilled at having managed to maintain plurality in media ownership so effectively.

When Capital and GWR merged, the company was worth about £700million. This deal puts the value of GCap at about £375m, so any claims that the management team had managed to destory half the value of their portfolio isn't quite true.

Brown, Rhianna: not together, just looks like it

Chris Brown and Rhianna aren't a couple, they say, but they can see how it looks like they are:

"It's actually funny, because I know the truth when I see a picture, but when they write a note with it, it's so crazy because people read it — of course they say that about a picture," Rihanna said. "I always try to read things from a fan's perspective. It's so believable, I just give up."

"I think we've got the worst luck with pictures. I think that's the thing," Brown added.

Especially the one with Rhianna in a white dress and Chris in a tuxedo cutting a cake in front of all their friends and relatives. That one was really, really unlucky.

Specials re-brew

There's every chance that The Specials could reform, according to Terry Hall. He's not entirely sure, though:

"Well we're still trying to put dates together, but hopefully September/ October time. We need to spend the Summer rehearsing... I think it's taken me 30 years to realise we could do it really well."

It's thought that, ideally, they'd like Nelson Mandela to go back into prison, although to be honest it doesn't look like Jerry Dammers is going to be around for this one. But it's not going to be a Fun Boy Three reunion, whatever it might look like, okay?

Stanmer harks

The man who rescued Stanmer Mansion from decay and dereliction is expressing concern at plans to share the park with an extreme sports and rock festival. Mike Holland claims he was only told one month ago about the event, which combines snowboarding, skateboarding and other children's games with a festival entertainment. He's worried that weddings booked for the weekend might be rather destroyed by having youths in big shorts sliding all over the place.

Holland should have known there was a chance of festivals in the park - Essential used to be a fixture in Stanmer until foot and mouth forced it to relocate to Hackney, where it died.

Return to Guyville: Phair reorders affairs

Having badly misjudged her embrace of Avril Lavigne's writer-producers, Liz Phair is regrouping. She's signed to ATO and is starting to try and rebuild an audience that vanished in the search for "promotional dollars".

First move: bringing Exile In Guyville back into print, with the requisite extra-bits-and-pieces.

The smart before the hoarse

Assuming that (a) they're let in and (b) that Liam turns up, Oasis have signed up for a Canadian and Washington State tour. Ryan Adams and The Cardinals are opening, which is surely all wrong.

Still, the next time Noel goes on and on about Knebworth, we'll all be able to pipe up "yeah, and what about the Pengworth Saddledrome, eh?"

Kasabian discover a social conscience

It's not quite going out canvassing for Sian Berry, but it turns out that it's not all beer and Oasis bootlegs for Kasabian: They're passionately opposed to the battering of defenceless seals. Tom says so:

"I think it's just common sense really. I mean, of course I don't think it's OK to smash a baby seal's skull. I don't wear fur; it's such an ugly thing to do".

No word yet on if this new rejection of all-things ugly is going to impact on the band's music, or use of a Manson-connected name for a pop group, but it's early days.

Reading, Leeds announce headliners

Presumably the motivation of announcing The Killers as headliners for Reading and Leeds shortly before the 7pm switch-on of the ticket sales is to try and dampen demand for them and stop servers from falling over?

It's not that there's anything inherently rotten about the Killers - alright, there is - but as a handy rule of thumb, festivals should steer clear of signing bands that seem to exist purely to headline festivals. The Killers are a bit like chemical toilets - you might put up with them in a field, although paying a hundred quid or so for them might make you feel a bit duped, but they're not really much of an attraction in their own right.

U2 hands over website to LiveNation

U2 have signed a deal with LiveNation, passing over pretty much everything bar records and publishing to the company.

That includes, which in future will be worked to make money pour out of every pixel.

Hush, now: Mr. Bono speaks:

"We've been dating for over 20 years now, it's about time we tied the knot. With regards to we feel we've got a great website, but we want to make it a lot better. We want a closer, more direct relationship between the band and its audience and Live Nation has pledged to help us with that."

Curious that the band is, to Bono, an "it" and not an "us", don't you think?
Paul McGuinness, U2's Manager said, "U2 are doing their best work right now, on record and in concert. The opportunity to integrate U2 and Live Nation's vision of the future is a great extension of our established business and of our working relationship with Arthur Fogel and Michael Cohl, which started back in 1980 at the El Mocambo in Toronto."

We do agree with McGuiness that U2 is doing its best work in concert right now. Especially since they're not played a proper gig since September 2006.

Virgin offers to take three strikes for BPI - perhaps

Last summer, Tiscali attempted to be handmaiden to the BPI by introducing a "voluntary" agreement whereby it disconnected customers when told to by the music industry. It dropped the scheme quite quickly when it transpired that although the BPI is happy to pay lawyers it wasn't prepared to put its hand in its pockets to cover Tiscali's costs.

Now, Virgin is offering to try another pilot for the BPI:

In a statement today, Virgin Media said: "We have been in discussions with rights holders organisations about how a voluntary scheme could work. We are taking this problem seriously and would favour a sensible voluntary solution."

A spokesman promised that customers will be told when any trial begins, but couldn't say when that will be.

Although, to be fair, that sounds a little like 'ISP makes willing-sounding noises in a bid to keep the pretence of voluntary system alive' rather than a desperate desire to rush ahead.

And why would they want to rush ahead? B2fxxx reports that the recent European Court of Justice ruling in the Promusicae case suggests that throwing people off the web to protect copyright holders is almost certainly a breach of European Law.

No Gnarls

Gnarls Barkley's London date this week is off; there's an illness in the family.

Darkness at 3AM: Slagging the PR machine

Surely, for a tabloid gossip column to start slagging off the PR industry for telling fibs is a working definition of 'lack of self-awareness'?

It's what the 3AM Girls are up to:

Today we launch the Porkie Pie award for PRs and celebs not overly committed to the truth.

Coming in the Mirror - home of the British troops pissing on Iraqis photos and Arthur Scargill's Mortgage story - it's a bit rich; it might also prove to be a little self-defeating as they name and shame:
The first winner is Silk PR which insisted Madonna and Guy would be at a book launch at a glitz-free do in Shoreditch House. They didn't show.

No, really? This seems to be more about having the hump at having been gullible enough to believe the story in the first place.

You wonder if PR companies will be so keen to feed stories to 3AM in the future if they're running the risk of getting a public ticking-off.

Gordon in the morning: Kensit moves on again

The wedding of Jeremy Healy and Patsy Kensit is off, according to this morning's Gordon Smart column, but it's not a story that Smart himself dirties his hands with. Oddly, though, there are two bylines:


It seems a bit heavy for a 'story' which is little more than an unsourced quote and a list of her ex-husbands.
Patsy had reportedly asked film star friend LIZ HURLEY to be bridesmaid. The pal added: “She must be devastated.”

The pal isn't actually Liz Hurley. And it isn't clear if "the pal" is suggesting that Kensit will be devastated, or if Hurley will be upset at not having to wear a bridesmaid dress.

It's very kind to call Hurley a film star - even if you count films that nobody saw, she's not troubled a trailer since 2004.

In the paper, Gordon's big story is about Amy Winehouse's new album, a story he splashes despite having run it last week:
The troubled star has almost become a recluse since contracting an ugly skin condition and friends are terrified about her negative state of mind.

'Has almost become a recluse'? How do you "almost" become a recluse? Only venturing outside covered in a tent? Since Gordon was reporting at the start of the weekend she was turning up at Pentonville wearing a large, look-at-me badge and last week on trips to kebab shops, you'd have to ask exactly where the almost-reclusedom is showing itself.

Meanwhile, Gordon has some sexy snaps of Sarah Larson. They're clearly mucking-about-on-a-night-out shots, and they're being run because she may or may not be dating George Clooney:
I always knew Sarah was a great catch, and these pics of her...

Yes, Gordon, what do "these pics" do?
...just confirm what I already thought.

We're scratching our heads as to what Gordon means when he says that he "always knew" Sarah was a great catch? Does he mean 'since I heard she was going out with Clooney'? Or has he really always thought she was a great catch and has been working diligently behind the scenes to set her up with someone? Or is it merely he had some vaguely raunchy out-of-focus photos he wanted to print and was just going to write any old blurb to make it look like there was reason for them to be in a newspaper?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Piracy is bad, isn't it, Sony BMG?

Piracy. It's a terrible thing. Unauthorised sharing of music? Rotten. Ruins lives. It's like gouging out the eyes of a shopkeeper, downloading an mp3 track you've not paid for.

We know, the RIAA keeps telling us so.

So, then how come Sony BMG has apparently been caught running unlicensed software in its operations.

Perhaps they could make a video with Britney Spears in to teach them the error of their ways?

Ward seeks creative control

Having released two albums of pointless froth that the people who shape his career have successfully predicted will fly off the shelves of Asda, Shayne Warne has decided that album three should have more of him in it. He wants to write:

"When you come from a talent show and you're signed by a record label, you're in no position to say I want this or that," Shayne told the Liverpool Daily Post. "It's about respect and showing them I'm on the same wavelength as them, and on the third album I'll be writing the songs as well."

But if you're "on the same wavelength", then what's the actual problem? "I want to write so that I can do things, erm, exactly the same way they've been done so far."

Ward, it seems, is a little worried he's not getting enough respect:
"I've had huge sales in Asia and South Africa and Australia, and they're not easy markets to crack," he explained. "Australia is on board. I toured Asia before and after Christmas.

"People need to realise that I'm not just a UK name. I'm more international. I've spent eight months in studios in the US and Sweden. Now I'm preparing for a UK tour and before then I'll tour in Scandinavia."

Why, exactly, do people "need to realise" that, Shayne? And are you really sure you're a "UK name" anyway?

Best of all, though, is the way that Ward thinks that "spending time in studios" in a place is, in someway, akin to "being a household name" in that place.

We wish Shayne the best of luck in taking more control of what he clearly thinks of as some long-running global career. A brave move in an economic downturn when plan B (or rather, Plan job-at B and-Q) might not be quite as strong as it once was.

Cheryl Cole wants community centres for all

Oddly, none of the national papers picked up Cheryl Cole's remarks about the need for community centres when she helped launch the new KitKat. Luckily, the Newcastle Chronicle was there, too:

The singer said: “Kids have no opportunities in some areas.

“Kids want to be involved in boxing but haven’t got a boxing school nearby, or they’re not privileged and can’t afford £10 a week for boxing or swimming or whatever it is. Every community should have a community centre where kids can do stuff.

“I have actually spoken to people about it, getting somewhere in Newcastle, so instead of hanging around on the streets kids will have somewhere to go.”

Brilliant. So, what are you going to do, Cheryl?
“If and when I do it, I want to be quite hands-on.

“At the moment I’m too busy with the tour.”

Well, never mind. It's the thought that counts.

Cerys Matthews naked cheeks

No, no, her face cheeks - Cerys is heading a campaign to encourage women (and, presumably, men) to go a day without make-up:

“We’re so used to all these images of perfection that we’re at the point where we don’t go out without make-up, which is ridiculous,” she says.

“I’ve got a daughter who’s four and she’s make-up mad. She’s into Shakira in a big way. It’s spooky how quickly she’s jumped aboard the ‘sexy painted lady’ look. I want her to grow up knowing she’s absolutely perfect just as she is.

“I like Tilda Swinton not wearing make-up on the red carpet and I hate it when people make fun of that. I think we forget how beautiful we can be without make-up, when you’ve been for a walk in the country and you’re glowing naturally.”

It's somehow - although the Wales On Sunday doesn't quite explain how - meant to raise money for the British Skin Foundation and, somewhat less nobly, to sell bottles of mineral water.

Does Rav have a relative inside or something?

Yet another story in Rav Singh's News of the World column about Blake's time in jail - apparently he's been beaten up or something now. Even people who read Rav's stuff are getting fed up with the never-ending stream of contradictory tales, judging by the comments box:

This is really boring news now. It's like the George Best story with constant news of rehab, falling off the wagon, more rehab, more booze/drugs, more rehab.

At least this story has some content in it. This is the second story in Singh's column this morning:
Hollywood rocked by gay star shock

By Rav Singh

AN A-lister star of Hollywood will be outed next week, I can reveal.

This particular actor is known as a bit of a ladies man but in fact, he really has a secret eye for the fellas.

My man in LA told me: "This guy is not married. He's been out with many women but has been seeing men too.

"A US mag is revealing it next week which will send Hollywood into overdrive."

So, Rav has a "source" telling him that, erm, there's going to be something in a magazine next week. Hold the front page!

Heather Mills on the wheels of steel

From somewhere, the News of the World has got hold of a rap track it claims Heather Mills made to raise awareness of the plight of disabled children "forced" to rely on the NHS. It's called Disability Rap, and while Heather clearly thinks its political, it actually turns out to be a really patronising insult to the staff in British hospitals:

"So you go to the NHS and they do their best with the limited budget they have. They make her limbs but she can't wear them — they're painful.

"And every step you watch her take is even more painful to you. So you thank them because it is the best they can do. Or is it? No Mr Minister, it's not. And you know it."

McCartney is supposed to have persuaded Heather to not release the track - on the grounds of, while it's the best she can do with a limited talent, nobody can bear it - it's painful.

The highlight of the NOTW's report, though, is this bit:
we spoke to someone who REALLY knows a hit from a stinker, music supremo Louis Walsh, and the X Factor judge was not impressed.

That's the only mention of Louis Walsh and his opinion - clearly, the man didn't want to get involved in the story at all.

Words to chill the blood

Since the Spice Girls reunion did little more than to tarnish the memory - oh, and pay for some extra geegaws - you'd have thought that Mel C, who stood against the endeavour in the first place, would have had enough.

Sadly, no. The People quotes her:

"There's plenty more to come. Don't rule us out."

Perhaps she just despises the others so much now, she wants to make them suffer, and the best way to do that is to force them to spend time in confined spaces, together.

Showbiz Zoe reports on the party from hell

The prospect of the Moss-Hince nuptials is clearly going to keep the gossip columns busy for a few weeks. Sunday Mirror's showbiz section, Showbiz Zoe with the Showbiz by Showbiz Zoe, announces that plans are already being made:

Kate Moss plans gypsy wed party over curry

That's quite a clumsy headline, with its mix of tenses. Luckily, there's a subhead to clarify matters:
Kate plans gypsy wed party over curry


It actually turns out that the curry was another party, at Davina Taylor's "mansion" - with Lily Allen and Sadie Frost in attendance. Do these people only ever hang out with each other? They're kind of like a version of the Corrie factory girls only with more money and roughly the same level of education:
It turned into a lively night - hostess Davinia laid on an Indian feast followed by cupcakes at the do at her mansion in St John's Wood, North London.

So, someone called for a takeout from the local balti, then.

That'd be the curry dealt with, but what about the "gypsy wed party". It turns out this isn't - as you might have expected - the actually wedding party, but, says a "friend":
They are thinking about having the actual wedding in September, so the plan is to hold an engagement party in August to give them both enough time to recover before their stag and hen do's.

But don't you have the engagement party roughly when you get engaged, and not... oh, never mind. Let's just try and work out the gypsy bit?
. Kate asked all her mates for ideas for the engagement and Lily Allen suggested a gypsy-themed party. Kate got really excited and star ted talking about what dress she could wear for that."

So, although Kate was planning a gypsy-themed party, she was planning in the sense of "if we did that, we could do this" rather than actually going out and buying caravans. Let's hope she abandons the idea, because the idea of Moss, Allen, Taylor, Battersby and Frost trying to have a party themed around a persecuted minority has the potential to challenge Prince William's Out Of Africa bash for levels of sensitivity.

This week just gone

Ten most-read individual pages this week:

1. RIP Jason Rae
2. They call her Heather Mills because of her porn past
3. The world remains obsessed by R Kelly's sex video
4. People are even commenting still on the Lily Allen costume change story
5. McFly naked. Who would look?
6. Robbie Williams' secret love
7. Beth Ditto's naked NME stunt
8. RIP Neil Aspinall
9. RIP Joaquin Tavares
10. Pete Doherty cancels gig shock

These were interesting releases:

The Whip - X Marks Destination

Guillemots - Red

Foals - Antidotes

Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy

Supergrass - Diamond Hoo Ha

A Toys Orchestra - Technicolor Dream

Joy Division - Best Of Utterly pointless yet-another best of

Robyn Hitchcock - Sex, Food, Death and Insects DVD with Hitchcock and friends

Mark E Smith - Renegade The book what he wrote