Saturday, January 03, 2009

Songwriterobit: Vincent Ford

The death has been announced of Vincent Ford, reggae songwriter.

Ford is credited with writing No Woman, No Cry, although some claim that the tune was written by Bob Marley with the credit gifted to Ford. Whatever the truth of the creation, the money raised by the song did a lot of good - Ford used the regular royalty cheques to keep a soup kitchen in Trenchtown, Kingston, afloat.

Ford was 68; he died of complications related to his diabetes.

Slightly fewer other music blogs are available

It closed (almost) before Christmas, but I'm only now getting through a massive pile of RSS stuff: Farewell, Indiemp3, you will be missed.

Jennifer Ellison offers the benefits of her experience

Don't put your daughter in the Jennifer Ellison stage school, Mrs Worthington.

Yes, Ellison is bringing her showbiz know how to the good people of Liverpool:

The theatre star hopes to have The Jennifer Ellison Fame Academy, “where stars are born”, up and running in 2009.

Modules taught at the school are expected to include "Loaded or Zoo - which one's for you?", "Knowing when it's right to take your bra off - and when to keep it on" and "how to turn a role in Brookside into some sort of career".

Ellison is filling a gap in the market:
"There are not many academies for people like me who do everything – dancing, acting, singing and modelling – and I do not believe there is anywhere catering for young people who want to do it all in the north west."

Perhaps there's a reason why not many academies - sorry, stage schools - are designed to turn out jack-of-all-trades; it could be the same reason that there isn't a school in Manchester which is dedicated to training the softball-playing botanist tuba stars of the future.

Stefani: Gonna make toilet water out of your culture

Gwen Stefani has long attempted to bolster her credentials as being in touch with young people by marching bands of pressganged Harajuku girls round behind her.

Now, she's decided she's going to milk some cash out of them, too by launching a range of perfumes in caricatured bottles branded Harajuku Girls.

Which, by implication, means that she's gone one step further from merely appropriating a youth culture that existed quite happily without her, and turned it into a brand name. I await her explanation of how she intends to share the money she's making out of this project with the original Harajuku - perhaps she'll use the cash to fund some more meekly walking in silence behind her.

[Thanks to Eleanor G for the story]

Springsteen: Superstore On The Edge Of Town

Karl T emails with news of Bruce Springsteen's plans for his Greatest Hits album:

It's a while since I've listened to any of his stuff, but I'm sure that Bruce Springstein has written at least two albums of dirges about big business muscling mom-and-pop operations out of business, and the death of small town America that follows. It's heartening, therefore to hear that he's taken a stand and is refusing to allow his greatest hits package to be released through Wal Mart.

Oh, wait. Hang on, that should read 'his greatest hits package is only going to be available through Wal Mart'. The fucker.

And that girl he pulled out of the crowd during the Dancing in the Dark video? Total set-up.

Having heard his Santa Claus Is Coming To Town once too often during the festive season - which, actually, could be just once - being condemned to WalMart might just be too good for the man.

Zavvi gift cards: the gift that just stops giving

There's some rumours circulating about strange goings-on with Zavvi gift vouchers; even talk of a mysterious secret account into which gift voucher sales were diverted.

As with most rumours, there's a slight element of truth: there was a protected account, but it wasn't secret:

As soon as the Directors became aware of the problems with EUK (27th November 2008), zavvi's main supplier, they sought to protect customer interests by lodging funds into a trust account. Until this time the Directors had no reason to believe there would be any issue regarding the sale of Gift Cards / Gift Vouchers from their stores. The sale of Gift Cards / Gift Vouchers was terminated on 4th December 2008. It is hoped that customers who purchased zavvi Gift Cards / Gift Vouchers from 27th November 2008 will receive a refund in respect of these Gift Cards / Gift Vouchers.

So, from the 27th of November, the money that people spent in good faith on Zavvi gift vouchers was being protected. The wider question, though, might be why - if the adminstrators were nervous enough to think there might be a problem on the 27th, it wasn't until the 4th of December that they actually stopped selling the vouchers at all? How is it "protecting customer interests" by selling a product they had good reason to suspect might be worthless?

Still, if you bought the vouchers in this period, at least you'll get your money back. Older Zavvi voucher holders will just have to join the queue with all the other unsecured creditors.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Managerobit: Tommy Tee

Tommy Tee, who managed New Model Army and The Almighty, died shortly before Christmas.

Tee had worked his way up in the NMA organisation, starting as the band's driver back in 1982. He became their tour manager, a role he filled until 1990, when he quit to concentrate on managing The Almighty, but returned to manage the Army from 1996.

His instinct was to bet the band's future on the developing internet, and quickly set about reorganising the group as a full-service team, owning all aspects of their work - a modle that, twelve years later, is starting to become the norm. It was this self-sufficiency, and freedom from label "guidance", that has enabled the NMA to continue to thrive while actually enjoying what they do.

Justin Sullivan of the NMA said:

"Tommy's death leaves a huge hole in all our lives, not just professionally as the man who organised every aspect of the band's life but most especially as a friend and the best kind of road companion. And this sense of loss increases rather than decreases with each day that passes."

Tommy Tee was 46; he died after a thoracic aortic dissection on December 23rd.

Downloadable: How I Became The Bomb again

Just made available for free-for-email downloads: Foremost Sentinel, a second collection of stuff by How I Became The Bomb.

Friday, January 02, 2009

I collect, I reject: It's not the turboprop which carried him off, but the coffin they carried him off in

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Nope? Well, why not treat yourself to get the New Year under way, huh? How about, for example, the Big Bopper's coffin. They moved him to a new one last year, and so his son has decided it's the right time to stick Dad's original permanent resting place onto eBay:

"I have no personal use for the casket," he said. "When you get down to it, it is just a metal box. More important is what this particular metal box represents.

"In another 200 years, will people care about rock 'n' roll?" Jay asks. "Who knows? But why would I want to destroy it? Even though it was Dad's resting place for 48 years, it's also a unique opportunity to learn more about the early years of rock 'n' roll."

Did I not mention he was originally buried in a steel coffin? Turns out to have been a prescient move - after all, if he'd been put into a wooden box, there'd be precious little to flog to Hard Rock Cafe by now, right?

Liveblog: Celebrity Big Brother

The cost of inviting O'Meara et al on two years back: This year, not only is Celebrity Big Brother sharing a sponsor with "prime time on ITV3", but they're even using the same break bumpers. Oh, the shame.

So, Davina - dressed in an ostrich with Freak-from-Cell-Block-H gloves - is here to detail which C-Listers are prepared to risk everything for a chance to get invited back onto the B-List. Brought to you by Dreams, who must also be quivering alongside the collapse of MFI and the difficulties of their sofa-pushing brethren. Who do you have, Davina?

First: Latoya Jackson. Or possible a marionette Michael Jackson. Endemol could have been cruel, and given her the task of pretending she was her brother for the first couple of days, but they don't.

She claims the luxury bedroom, without even a second thought. Her intro tape is actually quite poignant: "I don't really know the world." She's hoping that Celeb Big Brother will teach her about it. Clearly not been sent tapes of previous years' programmes, then.

"I used to be in a girl group" - yes, it's Mutya, who tries to stress that there's more to her than "ex-Sugababe", but really knows there isn't. "There were a lot of rumours that we didn't get on" she observes, before effectively confirming them.

Her diamond tooth has the unfortunate effect of making her look a little Bugs Bunny when shot half-smiling. Still, at least UK contestants know they're expected to keep up a monologue as they go down the stairs and into the living room. LaToya was like a mime.

Vern Toyer was in Austin Powers, you know. Not that he goes on about it very much. (To be fair, he doesn't really want to drag up Shasta McNasty, does he?). He's got a plan. It's an evil plan. Like, you know, Doctor Evil out the film Austin Powers. Which he was in.

As he goes in - the back way, with a woman who tried to pretend she wasn't there even while he was asking her questions - Davina gushes: "how cute!" Not, of course, that she's be condescending in any way. Oh no.

Is "friend of George Galloway" a new political euphemism? It's used of Tommy Sheridan, who seems convinced that he's famous for his Poll Tax work rather than the nasty business with the News Of The World. Davina is called upon to add a bit of voiceover work to try and keep the legal team happy when he gets to that.

Sheridan seems convinced that he's entering the series "on my terms"; actually, he enters on a sea of boos.

Cut to the house, which is currently attempting to earn its entertainment corn by streaming live pictures of semi-famous people reading off laminated sheets.

Goodness, a woman who is famous for showing her breasts in tired magazines insisting that, hey, she's not like the stereotyped blonde airhead. Lucy Pinder proudly describes herself as "a bit Tory", which must be why she's adopted the free market in looking down her blouse.

"Don't put me in with a bleeding heart liberal" she pleads. Well, nobody has ever accused Sheridan of liberalism, I suppose.

Aaah! Ben from A1! Puppy eyes and... what's this? He's dissing his floppy curtain hair? Thinks it now looked awful? Bah, Ben. So, what have you been up to since you adjusted your hairstyle to fit the thinning at the back, exactly?

"I'm now known as a songwriter and a producer", he claims, bravely.

Adams tells us that he doesn't like going to celebrity hang outs - the people are arrogant, apparently. And, of course, it gets annoying being told that your name isn't on the clipboard.

Time is getting short for the programme - Ben is virtually manhandled through the doors.

Tina Malone lists her cv - "fat, Scouse, funny, bipolar, OCD". Oh, and ex-Brookside. It's cruel to put someone suffering from having been in Brookside into such an environment, surely?

"She's lost four stone seven pounds so far this year" trills Dav excitedly - which is really sticking to a new year's resolution with a vengeance. It turns out Malone has had a gastric band fitted, which sits awkwardly with her proud "I'm fat and healthy" claims on her intro tape.

Don't call it a comeback. Okay, Coolio - how about "a last brief grab for the spotlights before obscurity rolls in to reclaim its own?"

While lisiting his desires to be fanned by a naked young girl - "over eighteen" - he also details his wonderful career. I'm not sure, though, but if you're feeling the need to mention a World Music Award, you could look a little like you're desperate to pad.

He goes in wearing a mask on the back of his head - so it looks like he's walking backwards, if you ignore the mask being a bit crappy. It does have a tattooed tear, though - do you get tattoo tears for being in Big Brother?

At one point, Coolio compares himself to God, in a "I'm not really saying I'm like God, but - hey - you could see how people might get confused, right" tongue-in-cheek way.

Bloody hell, did Liberty X really drag on for six godless years? Michelle 'ooh, I were right fat back then' Heaton is next up. "I was married to Andy Scott-Lee for..." (insert your own 'contractual reasons' punchline here). It turns out that marriage was difficult because of the press interest - presumably in that once the press interest dried up, the marriage ceased to exist, like a light going off as a fridge door slams shut.

She took advice from Jordan and Peter about being on reality TV. It's not recorded if Jordan pointed out that her entire bloody working life has been being on reality TV, but since Lucy Pinder has previously implied Jordan is as thick as a kitten with glue on its paws, probably not.

As Heaton enters, Coolio immediately slides a glass of champagne into her hand. He really is slick.

So, all that vitriol Terry Christian got when he was presenting The Word? That was because all the media commentators wanted his job - which he suggests was "interviewing Sharon Stone and introducing Nirvana", rather than stumbling over the autocue, throwing to Hufty's OB from a nightclub in Goole and inviting people to eat maggots. He does, however, suggest the Word was a "septic T4", which only really underlines that he's not been on television for an age and most teenagers couldn't be blinking in "who's he" bafflement any harder than if Alvar Liddell had been clambering up the scaffolding steps.

He bounds over to Coolio and says "a long time ago, you were on a show of mine". Like he was Lew Grade.

"I guess most people will remember me from Ulrika, the pilot comedy show that somehow the BBC were persuaded to make for me," explains Ulrika, "although I'm also well known for my part in the John Leslie business a few years back." No, alright, she doesn't. Actually, she says that "people still shout 'ka-ka-ka' in the street" - and, sometimes, "look out, there's a bicycle behind you". Ulrika's main job in the house will be to be taller than everyone else, thereby providing a reference point in turmoil.

A quick trip back outside for Davina to run through the names again. Crowd reaction suggests BEN TO WINNN1111!!!; however, when the cameras return to the house, he's stood watching Coolio reading out the rules looking for all the world like an unmarried uncle at a children's party: desperate to be having fun, but with the creeping suspicion that he's made a terrible, terrible mistake.

Still, early days. There's 22 days of this to go.

Lest we forget
Ofcom verdict on CBB 2007
The celebrities enter the 2006 house

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year: The first pointless stunt of 2009

Oh, God, can't we at least allow 2009 to unpack before we have to splash mace into its hopeful little eyes?

Lauren Harris has decided to try and claim one of those world records that isn't a world record by releasing a record everywhere at one second into the New Year:

The single, Your Turn, was lined up for digital release in places including Auckland, New Caledonia, Sydney, Tokyo, Singapore, Jakarta, Dhaka, Karachi, Baku, Moscow, Paris, London, Santiago, Indiana, Mexico City, Arizona, California, Alaska, Hawaii and Samoa.

Ah, that all important Samoan market. As if the marketing stunt wasn't enough of an admission that there's nothing within the record to recommend it, there's also some muttering from the people behind the marketing ploy:
The marketing team supporting Miss Harris, Quite Great Communications, believes it is the first time such a venture has been organised on this scale and a first for worldwide distributor The Orchard which was co-ordinating all the digital downloads.

Joe Arditti, chief marketing consultant, said of the release: "The recent global success of American female rock/pop artists such as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Pink has opened up the rock genre to a far more mainstream market. More importantly, there is a gap in the British market for our very own Rock Goddess.

"What better way to bring in 2009, than with a new star born at midnight!"

Well, a bucket of white wine and a dance with a mysterious stranger, perhaps? Or a firework display and a fondue party?

Did Arditti actually mean anything with his confused suggestion that Miley Cyrus is somehow a rock/pop crossover rather than just rock? And the belief that it's somehow hard for not-ugly women to sell singles to people because they have drums on?

Still, what better start to 2009 than the discovery that the year is going to be every bit as besmirched as 2008 was by duff ideas being sold with the stench of desperation. Happy new year, everybody.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old Zunes struggle to make it into 2009

You really have to hand it to Microsoft: it might not have managed to make the Zune as popular as the iPod, but it's certainly managed to make it as reliable as Windows. Every 30G model of Zune has stopped working. The reason?

It doesn't believe that today exists:

On Wednesday evening Microsoft said it had traced the problem to a software bug “related to the way the device handles a leap year.” Apparently the Zune was expecting 2008 to have 365 days, not 366.

So, hey, it's only a problem which is going to occur every four years, so where's the drama?
The company said the internal clock on the players should automatically reset by noon Greenwich Mean Time on Thursday (7 a.m. Eastern time). Microsoft is advising Zune owners to allow the player’s battery to fully drain and then turn the devices back on on Thursday.

In other words: Your Zune won't work on the 366th day of a year, so wait until the year ticks back over to day one.

I try not to use Zune as a punchline, I really do. But a music player that won't work on New Year's Eve? It's like it wants to be laughed at.

Rate 08: 2008 overview

If you only read one post a year, this one shouldn't be it... but it acts as a guide

This year just gone:

Review of the year, month by month

Other people's reviews of the year

Music: watch our selected videos

Valete: This year's obituaries

The key events of the year:

Now Thats What I Call 1983

Q awards | MTV VMAs

Michael Stipe on The One Show


First night: Madonna Hard Candy tour

Kerrang! Awards

T in the Park


Mandela at 90

Mojo honours

Sony Radio Awards

UK Asian Music Awards

NME nominations

NME award winners

Brit nominations

Brit Awards Liveblog





The ten most popular stories published this year:

1. Daily Mail discovers Jools Holland's New Year show isn't live
2. Miley Cyrus shows off her bra
3. Salford Lads Club pushes Smiths to reform for Christmas Number One
4. Robbie Williams abandons pop for UFOs, golf
5. Even the dead: Hendrix punts a sex tape
6. RIP: Jason Rae
7. RIP: John Stewart
8. Video: Brett Anderson - Love Is Dead
9. The Shins get mixed up in allegations of domestic violence
10. Binki Shapiro joins Strokes side project


Dec 28
Dec 21
Dec 14
Dec 7
Nov 30
Nov 23
Nov 16
Nov 9
Nov 2
Oct 26
Oct 19
Oct 12
Oct 5
Sep 28
Sep 21
Sep 14
Sep 7
Aug 31
Aug 24
Aug 17
Aug 10
Aug 3
Jul 27
Jul 20
Jul 13
Jul 6
Jun 29
Jun 22
Jun 15
Jun 8
Jun 1
May 25
May 18
May 11
May 4
Apr 27
Apr 20
Apr 13
Apr 6
Mar 30
Mar 23
Mar 16
Mar 9
Mar 2
Feb 24
Feb 17
Feb 10
Feb 3
Jan 27
Jan 20
Jan 13
Jan 6

Rate 08: The review menu

January - Robbie Williams on strike
February - Liverpool hits number 77
March - Shed Seven sneak into Parliamentary debates
April - Miley Cyrus isn't wearing any clothes
May - Duran Duran rejected by Deustche Bank
June - Ricky Martin dumps Bush, endorses Clinton
July - James Blunt goes to war with the Athenians
August - Mike Batt insists downloading music is like stealing bread rolls
September - Bestival barely blown out to sea
October - Pussycat Dolls off Sarah Palin a chance to join another clapped-out old party
November - System of A Down draw on their fans
December - Woolworths sinks the Zavvi ship

Plant Pine, Queen told

Amongst those getting the chance to mumble "of course, it would be rude to turn down such an honour" in this year's prizes from the Queen for doing a job you're already well-paid for: Robert Plant, John Martyn and Courtney Pine.

Martyn scores an OBE, Plant and Pine get CBEs. Nobody is quite clear why there'd be a difference, but clearly there is, as there's nothing in any way random about the way these things are decided.

As the year clambers to a close...

Just a quick message to everyone who reads this, and especially sends tips, comments or generally wades in: thanks so much for being around in 2008, and all the best for 2009. May the year to come bring you everything you would wish for yourself. Unless, you know, you're wishing for vertical jiggling with Gordon Smart. Unless you're Mrs Smart.

Rate 08: Valete

Those sadly missed during the year:

Rod Allen - founder & frontman, The Fortunes
Neil Aspinall - "fifth Beatle"
Jeremy Beadle - presenter and promoter
Joe Beck - jazz guitarist
Bill Belew - stylist to Presley
Michael Berniker - producer
MC Breed - rapper
Ola Brunkert - drummer, Abba
Dorival Caymmi - bossa nova pioneer
Paul Cole - cover star, Abbey Road
Arcani Crosswords - rapper
Paul Davis - songwriter
Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley
Klaus Dinger - drummer, Neu! and Kraftwerk
Mikey Dread - engineer and dj
Ronnie Drew - singer, The Dubliners
Syke Dyke - Trouble Funker
Richey Edwards - Manic Street Preacher formally presumed dead
Danny Federici - organist, The E-Street Band
Jerry Finn - producer
Steve Foley - drummer, The Replacements
Frosty Freeze - Rock Steady Crew man
Aaron Fuller - singer, Plan 9
Gidget Gein - bassist, The Spooky Kids
Drew Glackin - bassist, The Silos
Isaac Hayes - singer
Robert Hazard - songwriter
Jeff Healey - bluesman
Don Helms - guitarist
Jesse Helmes - censorist
George 'Wydell' Jones - songwriter & doo-wop artist
Mahendra Kapoor - playback singer
Miles Kington - jazz musician and humourist
Eartha Kitt - actor and legend
Tony Kostrzewa - distributor
David Lander - manager
Brian Lourie - drummer, Slaughter
Ray Lowry - cartoonist
Robert Lucas - singer, Canned Heat
Humphrey Lyttelton - jazz artist
Miriam Makeba - singer & campaigner
Alex McCulloch - guitarist, Me Vs Hero
Mitch Mitchell - drummer, Jimi Hendrix Experience
LeRoi Moore - saxophonist, Dave Matthews Band
Bryan Morrison - manager
Marc Moulin - experimentalist, Telex
Adam Nodelman - experimentalist, Sunburned Hand Of Man
Earl Palmer - drummer
Rob Partridge - PR
Jason Rae - saxophinist, Haggis Horns
Lita Roza - singer
Ruedi Rymann - yodeler
Nick Sanderson - drummer, Clock DVA, Jesus & Mary Chain and The Gun Club
Noel Sayre - violinist, The Black Swans
Mike Smith - singer, The Dave Clark Five
John Stewart - singer, The Kingston Trio
Shakir Stewart - executive
Levi Stubbs - singer
Chase Tatum - manager
Artie Traum - folk figure
Elmer Valentine - founder, Whisky A Go-Go
Jerry Wexler - executive
Norman Whitfield - songwriter
Eric OG Woods - rapper
Richard Wright - keyboardist, Pink Floyd
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - self-appointed guru

Rate 08: This year just gone: December 2008

Mark Morrison turned his back on a cruel Leicester and Barack Obama can apparently do without an iPod. Boy George was convicted of keeping an escort chained in his house, and may yet go to jail. The brief prospect that we might get shot of Coldplay soon was snatched away by Chris Martin.

There's a dreadful threat that next year might bring with it a new Sex Pistols album and a Stone Roses reunion. The Specials reunion turned out to have already turned acrimonious, with Jerry Dammers unhappy at being sidelined.

Festivals are now so overpriced, they're selling tickets on the drip. The collapse of Woolworths looks like it might bring Zavvi down - there was still some money about, though, as it was revealed in court The Sun had made a fifty grand payment to Amy Winehouse's drug dealers and the Mail On Sunday went into the record business.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bjork steps in

When Iceland's economy froze as part of the global panic, the witty thing to say was that now the country only had Bjork to rely on. As is often the case, this turns out to be nearer the mark than you might have thought: Audur Capital's attempts to regrow the Icelandic economy have called in Bjork for some heavyweight celebrity endorsement.

Rate 08: This year just gone: November 2008

System Of A Down revealed that a true fan will permanently scar themselves to prove their devotion. The Manics dusted down some of Richey's old lyrics and Genesis started to sound out Peter Gabriel about a reunion. Which isn't as frightening as the Vanilla ice comeback. Or as surprising as KajaGooGoo bringing back Limahl.

Almost certain to upset new best friend Gordon Smart, Coldplay at Knebworth was off - after the band discovered you had to book the venue and couldn't just turn up and play. New Order finally gave in and recalled the bungled remasters of their catalogue - Tony would never have let them out in the first place.

The University Of The Solent gave Craig David some sort of honorary award, just to shut him up about bloody Bo Selecta for ten minutes. Brian May boldly took his bits being left off Chinese Democracy on the chin, but did think it worth mentioning he'd done them.

After Californians voted to ban gay marriage, Elton John seemed quite alright with it but Melissa Etheridge voted to not pay her taxes. Not a single penny, which, by coincidence, is the same amount of profit this year's Glastonbury made.

Gary Glitter was painted - or, rather, chiseled out of Cavern Club history for well-intentioned but confused reasons. Similar intentions to those which somehow made it wrong to ask students to study Glitter Band lyrics. Equally well meaning but ill-judged was Sheffield Arena's attempts to stop Cliff Richard fans queueing up outside in the cold.

Bauer announced it was closing Mojo Radio and thought about rebranding Kerrang. Nokia launched Comes With Music properly as MySpace stole Mobile's URL for their mobile service.

Woolworths and some of its friends invented a logo to tell people what mp3s are. "What's a Woolworths?" was the mp3's puzzled response.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Celebrity Big Brother: You can never accuse Guardian readers of being ill-informed

A vague couple of words speculating that LaToya Jackson might be this year's Jackson in the Big Brother house unleashed an enormous monster of a Jackson fan in the comments:

You would only have to bother Googling La Toya Jackson to know that she too is representing the pop world, with 10 albums released since 1980, a Grammy nomination for her songwriting. A few people out there may also know her recent US club chart hits Just Wanna Dance and Free The World under her alias 'Toy'. She was also part of USA for Africa - We Are The World too. Her last UK releases were 1988's You're Gonna Get Rocked single with hip-hop superproducers Full Force and the accompanying LP with tracks by Stock Aitken Waterman amongst others. She's a best-selling author, actress, and her Playboy issues are still the biggest sellers of all time. It'll be great to see her back. Last time she was over here was in 2005 on Frank Skinner, supporting Michael and talking about her life. It should be a great 3 weeks of top telly with Toy on board.

Wow... more people wanted to look at her naked in Playboy than anyone else, huh? That's quite an, erm, achievement (outselling Debbie Gibson's vagina? Who wouldn't be proud?). Still, it's actually quite sweet to see that Jackson still has fans so proud of her that they'll submit a biography to counter any suggestion she might be less famous than Mutya from the Sugababes. I say "fans"; jumping to the conclusion that the press handout might have come straight from the PR team who have got her into this mess in the first place might be uncharitable.

Amongst the others being tipped for a place in the programme which is part handbasket, part tumbrel, are Terry Christian (recently lost his unfair dismissal claim against the BBC on the grounds that, erm, he didn't work for them); Michelle Heaton out of Liberty X (sort of undermining Popbitch's belief that they somehow beat Hear'Say in the long run); Ulrika (getting GBP175,000 - more than anyone else, according to Wikipedia); Lucy Pinder (apparently not owning a shirt now constitutes 'celebrity'); Malcolm Gladwell (hoping to discover exactly where his tipping point is); Verne Toyer (as part of his bid to appear on any reality programme that will have him); Tina Malone (off of Brookside); Coolio (wearing a tshirt reading 'self-parody? what does that even mean?') and Ben from A1, who will spend the three days before he's evicted wandering around showing off his nipples.

Rate 08: This year just gone: October 2008

Santana has, you know, started to have a dream of quitting music and opening a church of his own, but Beyonce was more interested in a little self-worship. Sarah Palin was offered a role in the Pussycat Dolls where, at least, she could lip-synch. No Age slightly overplayed being asked to remove an Obama shirt before going onto Craig Ferguson while the Foo Fighters told McCain to not play their stuff at his rallies. Bravely, Fall Out Boy cancelled their album so as not to distract attention from the US elections. Or perhaps from Ross and Brand's phone calls to Andrew Sachs.

The individual memebrs of Limp Bizkit decided that their inability to attract attention since their split was a problem which could only be tackled by reuniting and Dirty Pretty Things went in the opposite direction and, after Dorian's illness, The Long Blondes split.

No more fan mail: Read Ringo Starr's lips.

Plans for a variety show based on The Osbournes wobbled when the Writer's guild told members to not get involved. The Featured Artists Coalition created something a bit like the Musician's Union with some digital savvy. The music industry, meanwhile, hoped that Nokia's Comes With Music might save them, at least from iTunes. Apple's lead, though, was massive and growing. Universal's Doug Morris admitted he didn't know if the RIAA suing strategy was going to work.

Graham Gouldman moaned that nobody loved 10CC and Cliff Richard fans complained that Oasis had ripped off their idol - and not just by getting old and embarrassing. Also a little embarrassing was Guy Ritchie's dad, who felt the need to stand up for his son in the face of beastly Madonna, thereby crimping his gangster stylings. Thank god Geri Halliwell is going to start making films to save the UK film industry.

Channel 4's glittering digital radio plans were axed in the face of the impossibility of turning Hollyoaks into The Archers; to try and make the company think of something other than "oh, shit, we're all going to be sacked", Andy Burnham attempted to bring back Top of The Pops although he might have had more support trying to stop Parkinson launching his own record series.

U2 took a step closer to world domination of evil corporations by taking a chunk of LiveNation stock.

After 17 years, Guns N Roses finally announced a release for Chinese Democracy, turning a rather good running joke into a crushing disappointment.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A different kind of Blue

Blue, it seems, aren't letting Duncan James' coolness to the idea of getting back together and playing to tiny rooms stand in the way of a reunion. Antony Costa says they're pushing ahead:

"Everyone said Take That wouldn't work without Robbie Williams but they were so wrong. The fans want it and we're up for it. It could be Duncan's loss but we're planning something for the New Year."

The fans want it, and it would be a shame to let down seventeen people by not sort-of-reuniting.

It's true that Take That did work without Robbie, but isn't Blue without Duncan James more like a Take That staffed entirely by Jason Oranges?

Rap: It's from Scotland

No, actually it isn't, but Professor Ferenc Szasz suggests that old Caledonian Flyting battles are a little bit like rap battles.

Szasz suggests there is "a clear link" between the two:

According to the theory, Scottish slave owners took the tradition with them to the United States, where it was adopted and developed by slaves, emerging many years later as rap.

He has uncovered a previously overlooked version of Tupac, Where's Your Troosers by Puff Daddy which he insists proves his point.

I was going to finish this by suggesting that it's only at Christmas that the Sunday Telegraph would stoop to publishing this sort of made-up guff, but I'm not confident that's the case any more.

Rate 08: This year just gone: September 2008

Travis Barker and DJ AM survived a horrible plane crash; sadly, the rest of their party didn't.

Akon threw a fan off the stage, Bestival almost blew straight into the Solent and a church in Ohio predicted that Katy Perry would go straight to hell. But could Paul McCartney manage to negotiate the difficult waters of a Tel Aviv gig without resorting to trite cliches? No. Still, Ted Nugent promised he'd look after him if there was any trouble.

After a rotten year, British Airways finally did something to cheer everyone up by losing Pete Doherty's hat. Jon Anderson was a little annoyed at Yes going on tour without him and Jack White got all angry with Coca-Cola for playing the tune he'd written for James Bond on an advert. Bill Bailey finally tired of being part of Buzzcocks and MTV decided it had had enough of TRL.

James Hetfield was proud at being US military's torture music maker of choiuce. Annoyed that he was playing their music at all, John McCain got a cease-and-desist from Heart while Rage Against The Machine got police attention after annoying the RNC. Russell Brand's MTV awards mockery of absitinance pledges was, insisted the Silver Ring People actually a good thing for them, as a matter of fact. Perhaps a silver ring might stop George Michael from getting into trouble in toilets, although this time it was drugs, not sex, so maybe not.

Corey Taylor suggested that new music was mostly rubbish, but still required a chart recount to steal the US album list from The Game. Talking of number ones, Gordon Smart announced there was "a good chance" of Status Quo being number for Christmas. U2, though, won't be in contention - they're taking time to achieve greatness for their next album. Or, rather, Bono was off blogging for the FT.

Out Magazine listed the gayest albums ever - in the good, late 20th century sense of the word - but this would be of no interest to Cliff Richard and his former Priest friend. "I knew all along" announced Simon Cowell as Clay Aiken came out - well, yes, we all did, but that's not the point.

Not heeding the fuss that caused Yahoo and Microsoft to abandon the idea, WalMart tried to switch off its DRM server. Best Buy bought Napster, but at a deep discount

That's what the wrath of Danny Baker can do: download store Wippit folded. Virgin Radio became Absolute Radio instead, but they made sure neither of the listeners were confused. Virgin DJs JK and Joel quit, to spend more time fruitlessly pitching TV projects. Although given the arrival of Dave Pearce at 6Music, they probably shouldn't have ruled out a return to the BBC. Anyway, why would they want to appear on TV? Lisa Maffia did, and it turned out to be all made-up. George Lamb's interview style didn't make friends with Ray Davies.

After Noel Gallagher got pushed over on stage, fans started to get the ball rolling on vigilante justice before quietly letting it drop.