Saturday, October 25, 2008

Supergroup is such an abused term, isn't it?

But never as abused as Nelly's plans:

Nelly reveals that he wants to create a supergroup with Akon, T-Pain, and Pharrell Williams. "Me, Akon, T-Pain and Pharrell are talking about doing a project. We got a host of things we're trying to do - possibly put together this new 2009 [Bell Biv DeVoe] type of thing," he tells MTV.

You wonder how thrilled Pharrell is with the idea of getting to work with Akon (and, presumably, the terrible misunderstanding involving flying young people and accidently dry-humping underage girls that seem to trail in his wake).

It's hard to say if Williams and Akon is more or less likely than, say, George Clooney and Brad Pitt appearing in Geri's movie; perhaps they could all get together to do the theme tune?

[Thanks to Michael M]

Columbia's war on fans

Glasvegas. Popular with blogging music fans, of course, and drawing a lot of their status from the free publicity they give. Their label must be thrilled, right?

Not quite: Columbia Records bullied Google into taking down an interview on 17seconds with James Allan because there were dead links to mp3s. Mp3s which aren't commercially available anywhere. And which weren't actually owned by Columbia in the first place.

So that's a label enforcing a takedown of an interview whose content wasn't connected to them, because you used to be able to download tracks that weren't anything to do with them, and which you couldn't even get to any more. This isn't about intellectual property; it's about control. 17seconds is clear that they don't blame the band - but Glasvegas surely should answer for what is being done, after all, in their name.

[Thanks to Simon T]

Geri Halliwell: Auteur

You know what the movie world needs? How about Geri Halliwell: Producer?

She's keen to bring her unlovable children's books to the screen and has set her sights high for casting:

“I have not met Brad Pitt so realistically he’s unlikely to take part but I am desperate to get the gorgeous George on board.

“I’ve got an actor character called Bradley Litt and a Dr. Clooney who delivers Ugenia’s baby sister in a store called Garrods. Hmm, I wonder who and what these could be based on?!”

Goodness... now you mention it, Geri... I'd not spotted the deftly disguised characters and places in your book, until you pointed them out. Doctor Clooney - of course! And Garrods - clearly, that must be the Army and Navy store, right?

But there's more:
“Crazy Trevor, Ugenia’s friend in the series, reminds me a lot of Wayne Rooney in both looks and personality.

“I am really hopeful he will agree to voice the part. I get the impression he’d be up for doing it just for fun.”

Yes. For fun. You take care of the money-making; everyone else will be in it for fun.
Geri added: “George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Wayne Rooney – how’s that for an A-list line-up?!”

Except none of them have agreed, have they? You might as well invite Fred Astaire to play a character called Fed Astare and stick his name on the proposal for all the basing in reality your plans have. Or, better yet, just put the idea back in the drawer, close the drawer, and set fire to the desk.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Weller recants: Preston is a silly pop star

Paul Weller gave The Ordinary Boys a small boost early on in what I shan't call "their career" lest people think me sarcastic. Weller told people he loved the band.

Now, though, Weller is withdrawing his support. Why he's even bothering to mention this in 2008 is puzzling - it's a little bit like saying you no longer endorse John Kerry for president, isn't it?

What's even more bemusing is his reasoning:

"What happened to them, man? I thought he was a credible character, serious about what he was doing,” Weller told the Mirror newspaper.

“Then he's behaving like a silly pop star, a total about-face."

Weller is reacting to Preston going on Celebrity Big Brother. In 2006. Is he slowly working his way through back issues of Heat or something?

New York Times plans to give new writer a chance

It's nice to see the New York Times giving a break to someone trying to make a start in journalism. It'll give heart to everyone who is currently hoping to find a way to make a living writing.

Who have they hired? Why, some chap called Bono Vox, whose only major writing gig so far has been blogging for the FT. Oh, and editing The Independent and... didn't he do Vanity Fair a while back?

It's great to see the NYT giving a platform to someone without a voice.

[Thanks, James M]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

MySpace music makes room for some indies

After a barrage of complaints about a deal which excluded independent labels, MySpace Music has signed up with IODA, one of the indie umbrella groups.

So, everyone's happy, right? Not quite - for, while the majors got a slice of MySpace Music pie for jumping into bed with MySpace, IODA aren't. The equity deal was a bit of a duff deal for the labels and the musicians they supposedly represent; the indies are getting something worse.

Contact Music welcomes Chinese Democracy

The good people at Contact Music know who the release of the Guns N Roses album is all about...

It's, erm, all about Sara Cox.

Jack White's got some neck

Can you actually cancel a top secret act? How do we know that Jack White really was going to appear at the MTV Europe awards before he crooked his neck? We could all say that, couldn't we? Like, yeah, Will Self was going to be the gorgeous secret surprise guest blogger this week, but now he isn't because... uh, he's snapped his keyboard-tapping finger.

Gordon in the morning: Or whoever's in charge

Even Madonna, you imagine, must be sick to death of hearing about her divorce right now. Not so The Sun, which completes a solid week of leading Bizarre with ever-decreasing tales about the split by running a pointless story which suggests that Madonna was haunted by Tania Strecker. Not literally, of course - although as they scrape the bottom of the divorce story jamjar it's only a matter of time before they suggest a ghost might have been involved. The paper hints around that Strecker and Guy might have had an affair, or possibly still been seeing each other when he started going out with Madonna, or... it doesn't really matter. Even if it's true, we're talking about stuff from eight years ago.

If only there was some other divorce we could focus on. Hey! What about that other famous couple - we've not heard much from them for a while, have we? How is Mucca - so called because News Corporation hates her - getting on?

HEATHER MILLS has blown nearly £10million of her huge divorce settlement in only SEVEN MONTHS, The Sun can reveal.

It's Richard White going through the receipts here. Amusingly, though, as he details her excesses, he actually forgets he's meant to be knocking her:
Mucca also donated $1million of vegetarian food to homeless children in the Bronx.

Really? Isn't that what she claimed although the actual details seemed to suggest the figure was a little unlikely? Richard, if you've got your eye on Gordon's seat, you're going to have pick up your knocking skills.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

America prepares for a massive disappointment

It's even more official than it was when Best Buy stuck it into its online store: A press release confirms that Chinese Democracy is about to fail to live up to the hype:

MINNEAPOLIS, October 22, 2008 – Best Buy and Geffen Records announced that one of the most highly anticipated albums of all time, Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy, will be available beginning Nov. 23 at Best Buy and on CD, vinyl, and digital downloads. The title track, the first single from the album, was released to radio today, October 22. Chinese Democracy is the first album of new material from one of rock’s most influential bands since the 1991 simultaneous releases of Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

Has anyone actually been anticipating it? Wasn't the fun of the wait the belief that it would never show up? Isn't the actual release of the record like the winner of the New Statesman's competition to write an ending which ruined the foregoing story - "enter Godot".

Still, even if it is by definition an anti-climax, that's not going to stop the overselling:
“The release of Chinese Democracy marks a historic moment in rock n’ roll,” said co-managers Irving Azoff and Andy Gould. “We’re launching with a monumental campaign developed by Gary Arnold and the Best Buy team that matches the groundbreaking sound of the album itself. Guns N’ Roses fans have every reason to celebrate, for this is only the beginning.”

It's only the beginning. Yes, there's every chance another album will be along in another 17 years. I'm not entirely sure 'only being available through America's mumbled answer to Dixons' is considered such a brilliant idea; perhaps they figure that Best Buy is the only store whose staff are unlikely to rip the CD to the web as soon as it turns up.
“Chinese Democracy is one of the most highly anticipated albums in music history, and Best Buy is thrilled to deliver this explosive and previously elusive release to Guns N’ Roses fans. Longtime fans will be rewarded for their patience and loyalty to this great band, while a new generation of fans will be blown away,” said Gary Arnold, Senior Entertainment Officer for Best Buy. “Axl Rose is one of the most dynamic and gifted writers and performers in modern music. Best Buy is excited to work with Axl to make the release of Chinese Democracy THE musical event of 2008!”

The guy from the shop is excited! Damn, he's pumped. Thank god someone hunted down that "previously elusive" album, discovering its hiding place somewhere between Axl's inability to work with colleagues and a general can't-be-arsed-ness.

But what's with Best Buy having an entertainments officer? I know 1980s holiday camps did; and Student Unions presumably still do. But a shop? With an officer? Does he have a whistle? Is his department rounded off by a pair of identical twins, a refugee from Russ Abbot's madhouse and a punch and judy man who hates children?
“Guns N’ Roses is THE premier American rock band,” commented Steve Berman, President, Sales and Marketing, Interscope Geffen A&M Records. “Partnering with Gary and everyone at Best Buy to release one of rock’s most anticipated and legendary albums is truly a moment in music history. We’re thrilled to be able to announce that Chinese Democracy is coming, it’s coming this year, and it’s coming to Best Buy.”

It's almost as if the label is more excited at the idea of being in a partnership with Best Buy than having the record to sell. Understandable; Guns N Roses records come round every 17 years but a chain store getting excited about selling a CD? That is something unusual.

Where Eagles dare

The United Kingdom has yet to be graced by a live performance from Department Of Eagles. That is, until now. Or rather, "now" in the sense of December 3rd. They'll be playing the Borderline in a gig promoted by Uncut. No, not the NME. Uncut.

Kerry Katona 'erratic' - hold the front page

By the time the tabloids catch up with this story, I'm guessing the phrase "jammed the switchboard" will be making an appearance, but it's nevertheless true that Kerry Katona's wobbly performance on This Morning did lead some people to phone up ITV and ask if she was alright. And others, presumably, to ask why she was on in the first place:

The former Atomic Kitten singer frequently looked around the studio calling for her husband, Mark Croft, as she was interviewed by This Morning presenters Schofield and Fern Britton.

Schofield said ITV had received calls from concerned viewers while the interview was in progress.

At one point Schofield asked her: "You don't seem right to me, you've got the body sorted but your speech is a bit slurred, how are you feeling?"

Katona glanced off camera and seemed shocked as she asked: "Is it?"

Whatever could have caused that? Licking the minipizzas before they'd properly defrosted?
She then admitted her speech may have been slurred but said it was because she was taking prescription drugs.

"That's because I'm on medication at night-time," Katona added. "I had some last night, didn't I Mark?" before trying to see her husband among the crew behind the camera.

Let's not run an eyepiece over the difference between "prescription drugs" and "drugs the doctors have prescribed for her", and just wonder why, in god's name, nobody noticed before Phil Schofield:

[The video, while not entirely NSFW, might contain moments which would make it an uncomfortable office view.]

There will be a £3.75 handling charge for delivery of the P45s

According to Fuckedstartups, Ticketmaster is about to axe over a third of their employees.

That's not my name: True stories of the Ting Tings

Who are The Ting Tings? No, really: who are they? That's the question The Idols Who Exploit Them has asked in forensic detail, entertainingly suggesting that the band's creation myth doesn't quite add up and proving - with shown working - that they're effectively stalking Art Brut:

#3.b Fan-Made 7" Custom Artwork.

‘Art Brut are the band whose single entitled Modern Art came out on 7inch vinyl in plain white sleeves, which fans decorated with paint, markers, and glitter provided at the launch party to create their own individual "artworks”.’ (Gullbuy, retrieved 01.13 21/10/08)

I should know, I bought one. It has paint splodges on it. That’s quite an original idea really, and in December 2004 the hand-painted vinyl copies and the standard CDs sold enough copies for ‘Modern Art’ to chart at number 49 in the UK singles chart.

But what’s this? Katie and Jules need a gimmick?

‘In an elaborate art hoax, they played dates in Manchester, London, Berlin and New York, inviting audience members to fashion their own artwork for the single and then trading the sleeves across countries and eventually continents. "We just have to do things our way," says Jules, "there's no point otherwise."’ (Ting Ting’s official bio, retrieved 23.58 20/10/08)

Shouldn’t that be Art Brut’s way? And if so, what's your point, Ting Tings

It doesn't take anything away from the band's music - indeed, TIWET admits to liking their songs - but it does make you wonder why anyone would go to such elaborate lengths to create a tale about how they started. It's almost as twisty a tale as George Osbourne's trip to that yacht.

Katy Perry: look out, she's got a blade

Elsewhere in the Sun this morning - indeed, all over the front page - is a photo of Katy Perry posing with a knife. The paper is fuming with rage:

POP star Katy Perry poses with a knife — an image which sparked fury last night after another teen was killed by a blade in Broken Britain.

Angry critics said 23-year-old Katy, who sold five million copies of her No1 hit I Kissed A Girl, was “out of her mind” for glamorising knives.

Now, while Perry was clearly trying to generate a bit of 'look-at-me' attention, is it entirely fair to somehow suggest she was insensitive for having a photo taken holding a knife without realising that in another country, at some point in the future, someone might be killed with a knife. It's not like she rushed out to get the photo taken in Everton Valley Park yesterday morning.

Indeed, while The Sun might enjoy condemning Katy, you might wonder if it's not more disgusting that the paper can't even report the death of a kid on the streets of L5 without finding a picture of a sexy young woman to pep up the story.

And if seeing Katy holding a knife is going to lead a surge in knife crime, why has the paper printed the photo?

Oh... and what's this?
Sources on the shoot, which was for Katy’s debut album One Of The Boys, said: “The knife picture was done to give Katy more of a sexy, harder edge.

“But in the end it wasn’t picked as a main shot for her album or website.”

So it's not even a picture that would have been widely seen had the Sun not been running it. Good work, everyone.

Gordon in the morning: Or is it?

Although is face and borrowed suit is still slapped all over the place, most of the bylines on Bizarre today are for other people, which suggests that Gordon might currently be a William Hickey like character, rather than actually in the office. Or a Smallweed.

Whoever's in charge, the struggle to find an interesting new angle on the Madonna-Bloke divorce has been lost, with Emily Smith chipping in that Madonna has "dressed" Rocco in a New York Yankees top. Smith sees this as a sly dig at Guy, what with the Yankees being Alex Rodriguez's team. This does ignore that about four billion people wear Yankees stuff, many of whose mothers will never have had a dalliance with anyone who plays for the team. It also assumes that Madonna is around when the kids are being dressed.

Someone else has written a puff-piece to advertise Kylie's calendar, which goes under the headline:

Kylie's looking 2000 and fine

2000? That's a bit harsh. Late forties at the most.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dannii hits back, like a half-defrosted haddock fillet in a high wind

Ha, you just knew that Dannii Minogue wouldn't let Noel Gallagher get away with his suggestion that she was an inappropriate choice to judge other people's talents. She's had a week (and, presumably, the ITV press office) to come up with her riposte. It's going to be a zinger:

"I think he's just looking for publicity.

"I'm hoping he said it as a joke, I hate celebrity feuding."

Wow, that's going to sting... hold up... is that it? "I hope it was a joke; he wanted people to look at him"? And you hate musicians going up against each other in public - despite appearing on a programme that is designed round that very concept?

You'd really think the Daily Telegraph had better things to do

But, apparently, not:

Katy Perry admits she has kissed a girl - and liked it

Katy Perry, the Californian chart-topping musician, has revealed she really did kiss a girl, at the age of 19 - and liked it.

Yes, they really did think it was worth mentioning both as a headline and a standfirst. And, indeed, at all. Teenage girl kisses another teenage girl? Is that really a news story in any sense of the word?

To make it worse, the story has been lifted from OK! No wonder the Barclay Brothers hide away on their Channel Islands fortress; wouldn't you be ashamed to mingle in public with people if you'd reduced a once proud newspaper to running stuff like this?
In an interview with OK! magazine, Perry was asked if she really had kissed a girl.

She replied: "Of course. I think I was 19. I kissed a girl and it was great."

She said it went no further and she did not write the song about that one experience or a particular person.

She said: "Growing up I had a friend who, looking back, I think I had an obsessive little crush on her.

"I never kissed her but she was very beautiful and she was like a ballerina and I wanted to copy everything she did. But I think that was kind of the extent of it."

So, Katy, you think you were 19, and you think "that was the extent of it"? Are you telling us you can't be certain that you didn't then get down to some mutual masturbation or indulge in a spot of oral? "I think I might only have kissed her, but this was nearly four years ago and so I can only remember it in just enough detail to pad out another article with coy references to lipstick lesbianism..."

Fancy not being able to remember. It's almost as if she wasn't even there when it happened. Oh... hang on....

Ticket 'fraud' site closed by the cops

The police. They're not just there to run around making sure you're not putting a 1979 live recording of The Selector online, you know. They've just done a raid to close allegedly dodgy ticket agency down. The NME weighs the implications:

A secondary ticket website has been shut down amid fears of fraud, leaving thousands of fans potentially out of pocket.

- although if the company was behaving fraudulently, surely the ticket holders will be, at worse, no further out of pocket because the company has been closed than they would have been had they simply not got the tickets they had requested?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

The Music Slut talks to Andy Rourke:

Back when we started, I knew Johnny quite well. I knew Morrissey. I didn't know Mike, but as we were on tour, Morrrissey kept to himself & Johnny was with wife. Consequently, Mike & me began sharing hotel rooms together. We got to know each other and became close friends. At the moment, Mike's with a great new band called Autokat comprised of youngsters. By comparison, me & Mike are oldies!

Dulli bootlegs self, officially

Last year, Greg Dulli played a set at Seattle's Triple Door Theatre; later this month, the gig is being released as an album. It's coming out on his own Infernal Recordings imprint.

LaLa tries again

Remember La La? No, not the one who hung out with Dipsy and Po, the CD-swapping service? It's not a CD-swapping service any more: it's reinvented itself as, erm, something else.

Now, you can copy your music to an online locker, and it will stream you songs that are a bit like the ones you already own. For free, unless you listen more than once. But if you do listen more than once, the ten cents you pay for each play can be set against the price of buying an mp3 file if you decide to keep it. Or something like that. But only one ten cent.

It's certainly a distinctive idea - why hasn't anyone else thought of charging for streaming songs that are a bit like the songs you already like? Apart, you know, from the obvious 'because Last FM do that for free, don't they?' reason, I mean.

La La has an answer to that:

If the goal is to get consumers to buy more music, then the existing model of how it’s priced and sold doesn’t work,” says Lala founder Bill Nguyen. “Look at subscription music. They pay for every single song that’s streamed, but they get a fixed revenue from the customer. So if you’re a big music listener, you actually may cost the service more money that it makes. Instead of a streaming access product, think of it as if it were a real product. It’s just virtual. It doesn’t have the bits, but behaves in the same functional way.”

Aha! It's better for record labels and gives people who listen to a lot of music the opportunity to pay more money. It's hard to believe that there hasn't been a clamour for the chance to pay more - certainly if there was some sort of march, I'm sure I would have heard.

Michael Nash, who oversees Warner's digital strategy, is certainly excited - hey, La La had him at the 'customers pay more' part:
“Lala is a pure transactional player,” Nash says. “They’re not supporting some hardware platform with this. Our interests are totally aligned with theirs. Part of our comfort in the model is recognizing that we have the same interests to engage consumers in a great experience that drives discovery, monetize that, and drive the value of the consumer by upselling them on downloads as often as that makes sense.”

That noise? Oh, that was the sound of Beethoven's ghost wailing that he never got the chance to upsell downloads and drive the value of a monetized consumer. Instead, he wasted his life making an ecstasy of music.

Still, to be fair to La La, they have spotted that they can throw the phrase "cloud computing" into the mix to make this seem less like a mash-up of the old and and more like something that's part of the current web-bubble-buzz.

Reduced frontiers: New Frontiers split

Bands are going out of business faster than Icelandic banks right now. New Frontiers have just called it a day in the middle of a tour:

It’s never fun to tell people news they don’t want to hear so I’ll get right to it: The New Frontiers are quitting. It’s been a priceless experience, writing music together and sharing it with all of you in our travels across America, but the time has come for us to move on to other things.

There will be a couple of farewell dates for their neighbours in Dallas.

Gordon in the morning: Has Madonna kidnapped Gordon?

Today - oh, there's going to be a lot of this, isn't there? - the desperate bid to try and make 'couple fall out of love, split' into a never-ending story sees Wheeler and Cox file another story knocking Ritchie, making him sound like a paranoid obsessive:

ANGRY GUY RITCHIE believes MADONNA is SPYING on him during their break-up.

Guy, 40, was furious that details of a private divorce “war summit” were leaked to his wife, The Sun can reveal.

He believes the pop queen is using her huge staff to report his every move.

Or, maybe, she's just buying The Sun every day. That could be it.
A close family friend said yesterday: “Any hopes Guy had of their divorce being private and dignified are out the window."

How lucky there was a close friend willing to tell a newspaper how sad it is the divorce is not being kept private any more.

Meanwhile, Alex Peake (Gordon must be having a lie-down somewhere with a Hollyoaks calendar) talks to Peaches Geldof - or rather, reads a quote by Peaches Geldof about her marriage in Heat:
“I didn’t go into it with Max thinking, ‘This is going to last forever’.

“But I did go into it thinking, ‘I love him right now and I know that I will continue to love him for a long while’.”

Heartwarming, huh? Peaches will remain married at least until she's able to divorce without the Madonna split taking the shine off it.

The piece ends with a credit, and a plea:
See the interview in Heat on sale now.

GOT a story on a celeb? CALL The Sun on 020 7782 4104, EMAIL or TEXT 63000.

Presumably they'd be delighted if you just read this week's Hello! down the phone to them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Eagles trotters

Featuring two brand new songs: Department Of Eagles have recorded a Daytrotter session - and you know that means free mp3s to download.

Ozzfest decides it's not a charity

The 2009 return of Ozzfest is not, this time, going to be a free affair, as Sharon Osbourne has made clear:

Don't you know that there's a depression on. Are you mad? We're going back to what we originally were. We've given the real good fans a free show for one time, and now, it's back to business as usual."

It's not clear how far Ozzfest attendees this year were made to go to prove they were "real good fans" - presumably Sharon did some sort of scan of their minds before they were let in - but it's reassuring to know they don't care who turns up this time providing they pony up.

Jackson continues alone

Following the Long Blondes split, Kate Jackson has announced she's going solo:

"It's the first time I've talked about it but that's my plan," she said. "I'm just beginning but I think it will reflect my personal music taste a bit more than the Long Blondes, which was a collaborative thing.

"I've only just started and a lot of the influences will overlap so hopefully fans of the Long Blondes will like what I do."

She's also told 6Music about Dorian's stroke and its effect on him abnd the band:
"It was actually two days after we got back from our American tour and we have no idea what caused that," Jackson told 6 Music.

"Obviously, it was a complete shock for all of us, something that we've had a bit of time now to come to terms with.

"It does mean that he's unable to play the guitar at the moment and we don't really know when he'll be able to do that again. Unfortunately we've had to take the decision to split up."

The quintet have released two albums and were critically praised for their latest offering, the Erol Alkan-produced Couples.

Jackson said that Cox, who wrote a lot of the music, was having daily physiotherapy and was is making "vast improvements".

The band might, apparently, reunite if Cox recovers enough to pick up guitar duties again.

... and never again

The Long Blondes have split, following Dorian's stroke earlier this year.

He posted farewell blog on MySpace;

We have decided to call it a day.

The main reason for this is that I suffered from a stroke in June and unfortunately I do not know when / if I will be well enough to play guitar again.

On behalf of the band I'd like to say a big thank you to anyone who ever came to one of our shows, bought one of our records or danced to one of our songs in a club. Thank you, if it wasn't for you the whole thing would have been pointless.

Finally on a personal note, thanks for all your well wishing messages.

Sadly - and perhaps selfishly - this is another band I'm going to have forever on my 'bugger, I never saw them live'. It's truly sad news, and the loss of one of our greatest and consistently most interesting acts.

[Singles, by the Long Blondes, is released today]

Blunt journalism

What could be better than the Metro free newspapers (only not the British ones which aren't part of the same group, the one that the Daily Mail just stole the idea and the name from)?

How about a largely news-free product edited by James Blunt?

Yes, people looking for something to do on their commute, and who have forgotten how to fantasise, will be able to pick up a free newspaper with even less journalistic input than usual, on November 17th.

Of course, with Blunt in charge, Metro International is going to have to ratchet up its usual oversight of the production process. Don't worry, though - they've got a plan:

Blunt will be guest editing from the Metro office in Rome and a website will launch today giving readers the chance to win a trip to Italy to "act as James' deputy" while he is guest editing.

That's perfect - some lucky winner is going to see what it's really like to be in a newspaper office when someone who doesn't know how to edit newspapers is in charge. This could be a promotion to rival the Bridlington Cake & Bugle's 'Win a helicopter ride with someone who doesn't know how to fly a helicopter' competition.

Why has James been "invited" to do this, you might be wondering. Actually, it's just to push his new record:
Warner Music's deal coincides with the release of Blunt's new single Love, Love, Love, which comes out on November 10, and the launch of a deluxe edition of album All the Lost Souls on November 24.

The Metro website homepage will host the new music video by Blunt, as well as exclusive additional material including behind the scenes footage of the artist at work.

So it's effectively a big advertisement.

Metro, of course, doesn't want to admit that, and so stresses the value for its wide readership:
[Editor-in-chief] Pitkanen said that Blunt's "diverse background" made him appealing to Metro readers.

Funny, because you might have thought that Blunt's posh army parents and public school upbringing, entry into the army, guarding the Queen Mother's coffin and military-related ski-ing trips gave him something less than a diverse background, but I suppose he's the only posh bloke ever to have attempted to sell his new single by editing a freesheet.

MySpace remains Murdoch's space

More grim news for the major labels. When MySpace Music launched, the labels gambled against taking a big cash payment upfront, settling instead for an equity share. They believed that News Corp would swiftly spin-off the service through a share deal, and suddenly the equity slice would be worth massive money.

Trouble is, News Corp has thunk again, and is thinking that the messy business of trying to sell MySpace Music as something distinct from MySpace is too much effort and, with a billion tracks already streamed from the service, there doesn't seem to be much point in flogging off a goose when they don't need any help getting it to lay golden eggs.

Sure, labels still have their equity stake - but if they were expecting to be able to cash it in for massive sums, they're going to be disappointed.

Someone else who won't be too thrilled: Facebook, who are currently trying to cook up a Facebook Music service. It seems unlikely the labels will be keen to play the same, cheap hand a second time; not while their fingers are still burning. Music on Facebook is going to cost the company a big wedge.

The things that dreams are made of

The Human League are putting together a new record - without a label, as Joanne Catherall explains:

"We've always been supported by record companies and that's not really happening to as many groups anymore. We'll have to find another way of getting it out to the public.

"We're all keen to put out new music, our only problem is, the way we have traditionally put out music is not available to us anymore.

"It's quite scary having to think about it, because someone else has sort of run, we make the records, and someone else does everything else for us, and now we've got to do it all ourselves, and as everyone knows we're incredibly slow, and lazy!

Even the last time the band made a record - back in 2001 - the very idea that a big name group might start work on a record without a label underwriting and shaping everything would have seemed, at best, futuristic. In 2008, it's interesting but not extraordinary. By the time of the next Human League album, it's going to be commonplace and the labels will be jostling with other release routes (retailers, gig promoters, radio stations) at the end of the recording process to be involved, rather than controlling from the front.

You can't even be trusted with your own copyright

Jeff Rosenstock - from The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches - has a web label, Quote Unquote records. It's just had its site yanked by the webhosts because they discovered "copyrighted music files" on the servers.

The label's own copyrighted music files.

In order to solve the problem, Jeff would have to send his copyright registration forms to the host by mail, to prove he held the copyright, a problem in itself, explains Jeff:

“I called the company to explain that a lot of this material was NOT in fact registered with the US copyright office, instead we did the ol’ poor man’s copyright. The music that was copyrighted was done so under a Creative Commons License, which is a digital copyright that cannot be viewed if the website where the files are posted is down.”

To make matters worse, Jeff has lost the originals in a system crash. Still, at least the webhosting company has saved him from the horror of being pirated by himself, eh?

Gordon in the morning: Dropping the Guy

Hilarious: Bizarre is cutting Guy Ritchie adrift, then, as even Gordon Smart runs a knocking piece about his former hero:

MADONNA’S friends have nicknamed her husband Material Guy because of his alleged cash demands ahead of their divorce.

Even Gordon knows his readers are going to spot that this is a complete swivel from his line of last week, and does at least sort-of-take-it on the chin:
The Sun told last week how British film director GUY RITCHIE informed lawyers that he wanted “not one penny” from his mega-rich missus as their eight-year marriage ends.

Ah, but you'll have spotted that Gordon isn't saying he was wrong, just that Guy has changed his mind and "keeps upping his demands".

In a surprising long quote attributed to Madonna via "a friend" but which smells surprisingly like a briefing dictated by a press spokesperson, even the couple's beloved cult gets a look-in:
“Kabbalah philosophy teaches that you don’t take what you haven’t earned. Well that’s exactly what Guy is doing. He hasn’t earned a penny of it, yet wants to take, take, take."

The thought of a cult which charges a small fortune for ordinary water and ten dollars for bits of red string suddenly having a line about not taking what you haven't earned is surprising, but I can't pretend to understand mysticism.

In what's apparently another piece placed to knock Ritchie, Madonna's wails that he didn't think adopting David Banda was a good idea also pops up in Bizarre. Although that actually is probably the wisest thing he ever said.

Still, with David, Lourdes and Rocco to consider, at least we can rely on Gordon and The Sun to be responsible in the coverage of the divorce, recognising that, really, there are no winners. Can't we?
IT is the biggest divorce since Mucca V Macca, so who do you support — Madonna or Guy?

If you want a Team Madge or a Team Guy badge, we’ve got 100 of each for the first readers to tell us.


John Peel The Tank Engine

Radio One seems to have totally abandoned its John Peel memorial programming, so it falls this year to Merseytravel to honour the man. A train on the Merseyside rail network is to be named after Peel. Which is appropriate, because having traveled on Merseyrail a lot, they usually leave the station at completely the wrong speed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is why we're not selling much chickpea salad these days

An email arrives, bringing worrying news:

Hello, my name is Chuck Stewart and I am an internet marketing specialist. I was looking at websites under the keyword vegan food and came across your website I see that you're not ranked on the first page of Google for a vegan food search.

I'm not sure if you're aware of why you're ranked this low but more importantly how easily correctable this is.

There's no reason you can't have a top three ranking for the keyword vegan food based on your site structure and content. You have a very nice site.

You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks. If you're interested I can help you with this...

I'd assumed my poor positioning on searches for vegan food might have had something to do with having posts about Meat Loaf. But maybe Chuck - who runs a company called Linksqueue - really knows something I don't. Clearly he understands the links between a meat-and-dairy free diet and snarking about Noel Gallagher that I'm missing...

Oasis or mirage?

Over in the album charts, meanwhile, let's not snigger at the mighty Oasis album slipping off the number one position after a single week; especially not at the Brothers Gallagher being unseated by Keane.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Who's laughing now

Confusing times we live in: Leon Jackson releases a single at the same time as Peter Kay launches a spoof single in character from last week's leaden X Factor spoof. Kay beats Jackson. Who can explain it?

Well, yes, there's the obvious detail that people like Peter Kay and nobody much can even remember which one Leon Jackson was. But beyond that, who can explain it?

Step forward, HMV's Gennaro Castaldo, pop music's answer to ever-present Independent Travel Editor Simon Calder:

Commenting on Kay’s latest hit, Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, said: “It’s actually not a bad pop tune . . . Millions watched his [TV] show and are obviously playing along with the spoof.”

What does that mean, Gennaro? That people are buying the record in character as the sort of easily-swayed saps who buy a record because they've seen it on the television? Because that starts to sound almost as if they're making a cameo appearance rather than playing a character.

Twitter. Now with Spears.

Microblogging. Now it's, like, OMG, official or whatever, as Britney Spears comes to Twitter. And not just some bloke in his late thirties trussed up in a red pleather catsuit pretending to be Britney, this is The Real Britney. It even says so:

Bio: Yes! This is the real Britney Spears! We've got updates from her team, her website and yes, even Britney herself!

Without wanting to be too pedantic, if the updates are mostly coming from flunkies and people employed by flunkies, isn't the account, at best, more "The Real Britney from time to time".

This Tweet is slightly scary, too:
Welcome to the new! We're taking you where no paparazzi lens ever could with pics, vids and news from Britney herself

There are a couple of places we can think of that a paparazzi lens hasn't yet violated - although even then, given that she's dated a photographer, we're not sure about that - but surely nothing that she'd want online? It's not like she's Paris Hilton, is it?

Shiny new band: Natalie Portman's Shaved Head

Meet - if you haven't already - Natalie Portman's Shaved Head:

They're from Seattle - yes, exactly, the very same place where Marty Crane got shot. Being young and American, you can find out more about them on their MySpace.

Moistworks dries up

There's a scent of the cease-and-desist about the sudden and upsetting disappearance of mp3 blog Moistworks from the internet. Let's hope things get sorted soon.

Burns gets a million

Pete Burns is going to be granted compensation for the botched lip job which turned his already surprising mouth into a source of pain and weeping. The Mail is confidently predicting it'll be a million quid, before, at the bottom of the story, admitting it's guessing:

[T]he exact value of Mr Burns’s claim, will be decided at a High Court hearing next March. A spokesman for Mr Burns’s solicitors Irwin Mitchell said: ‘We do not wish to comment at this stage.’

Burns is claiming that the botched operation harmed his career as well as his health, although that might be a bit of a stretch - how many series of Living TV fly-on-the-wall shows did it cost him, really?

[Recommended: Clive James on Pete Burns from Radio 4's A Point Of View]

Charlotte Hatherley weekend: Siberia

You'll have to make up your own 'stop Russian around' style joke for this one. Or perhaps not:

[Part of the Charlotte Hatherley weekend]

Madonna divorce: The deleted scenes

According to The Sunday Mirror, the breaking point in the Madonna-that bloke divorce came when he rebuffed her investment in his career:

Exclusive: Madonna wants money invested in Guy Ritchie film back

The singer handed over the cash for him to make a film but was furious when he announced he was suspending the project because of his troubled relationship and she demanded the money back.

Surely nobody in their right minds invests in a Guy Ritchie film expecting their money back?

Although, according to the News Of The World, the breaking point was because Madonna spent so much time exercising the couple haven't had sex for eighteen months:
And on the rare occasions when they did make love, he has told pals it was like “cuddling up to a piece of gristle”.

Having said that, though, the Mail On Sunday confidently informs its readers that, rather than a film investment or no gristle-like sex, it was religion which did for them:
Madonna's obsession with the Jewish-based faith is said to have been the final nail in the coffin of her marriage. Guy is still a follower, but feels his wife made it a circus.

'Guy has actually come out all the better for his commitment to Kabbalah,' a close friend said.

'He has found peace. For Madonna, Kabbalah is about having her own cult. He thinks she follows it for all the wrong reasons.

You could almost get the impression reading the UK press that nobody really knows what happens inside a marriage to bring it to its final act. But that probably wouldn't fill a paper half as interestingly.

Last night a Bee Gee saved my life

It turns out - according to the University of Illinois, anyway - that Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees has the perfect beat to train people to do CPR:

The study by the University of Illinois College of Medicine saw 15 doctors and students performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on mannequins while listening to Stayin' Alive. They were asked to their time chest compressions with the beat.

Five weeks later, they did the same drill without the music, but were told to think of the song while doing compressions.

The average number of compressions the first time was 109 per minute; the second time it was 113 - more than recommended by the American Heart Association, but better than too few, according to Dr Matlock.

"It drove them and motivated them to keep up the rate, which is the most important thing," he told the Associated Press.

Sadly, though, a similar experiment by the Illinois Fire And Rescue Department using New York Mining Disaster 1941 resulted in the death of seven coal miners.

This week just gone

The ten most popular Bono searches bringing people to No Rock this year have been:

1. Bono
2. Bono is a cunt
3. Bono praises Bush
4. Bono King of Ireland
5. Bono caricature
6. Bono Davos
7. Bono is god
8. Bono's friends
9. Bono Must Die
10. Go away Bono

Bubbling under is 'Bono is the toilet attendant' 'bonoisation' and 'is Bono wanking hold me kill me'

The recommended releases this week were:

Lucinda Williams - Little Honey

Tilly And The Wall - O

Those Dancing Days - In Our Space Hero Suits

Eugene McGuinness - Eugene McGuinness

Shelleyan Orphan - We Have Everything We Need

Saint Etienne - London Conversations (Best Of)

Nitin Sawhney - London Undersound

Julie Felix - First, Second And Third