Saturday, January 10, 2009

Courtney Love - voice of reason

Who can argue with Courtney's new blog post?

i am not MAD at kelly rippa fpr gpds sake,. ' ihave okay once more,i have 98 pages pf akas,. and one of them is kelly ripa spelled in avariety of ways each one of the variances reveals a new set of addresses, kelly w ripa , kelly m conseulas, kelly IPA thats just one i thougt was funny, so ill be respinsible and send her her akas i dont quite get what it all means but hey im just a lil ole rock singer and whoever did my audio blog your a genius, except the burp[ing, cork

You'd certainly have to admit she's got a point, right?

The wonder of the internet - twenty years ago, even if you got drunk enough to come up with that sort of insight, you'd probably have been taken off the streets before you'd got past sharing "I am not MAD..."

Something to listen to: Bill Drummond

If you haven't heard it yet, there's still five days or so to enjoy Bill Drummond's lecture and question-and-answer session [RealAudio link; expires Thursday evening] from this year's Free Thinking festival in Liverpool.

Drummond races through the history of recorded music and technology, and suggests that in the future, musicians will want to make music for a place and time. He does, however, also admit that quite often he doesn't think things through before putting them into practice.

Obama propose RIAA hack for Ass Attorney General

What could possibly be better news, a couple of weeks from that much-promised Change in Washington, than that Barack has appointed Tom Perrelli as an associate attorney general. Who's he?

“Mr. Perrelli regularly represents the recording industry in cutting-edge intellectual property, technology, and anti-piracy litigation. He has represented the recording industry in a host of cases arising under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), as well as in copyright infringement and digital piracy litigation. He has also represented the record industry and recording artists in a series of copyright royalty proceedings before the Copyright Royalty Board.”

I guess Obama wants to make sure that nobody starts pirating the TV Movies about his ascent to the White House which will be hitting the networks fairly soon...

Madonna by numbers

Radio 2's recent chart of best-selling Madonna singles in the UK generated an interesting chart captured by Madonnalicious. Amongst the surprises is that 4 Minutes makes it as high as 13; that the execrable Hanky Panky outsold the supreme Dress You Up and Gambler somehow manages to be the 21st best-seller. Which doesn't sound that astonishing until you notice that Ray Of Light - the last great Madonna song, probably ever - is stuck at 25.

The top 5 are as you'd guess, although probably you'd have trouble settling on the order:

#5 - Papa Don't Preach
#4 - Crazy For You
#3 - Holiday
#2 - Like A Virgin
#1 - Into The Groove

Darkness at 3AM: Unlike people who love it...

The 3Am Girls get a scoop:

Lily Allen not a fan of bad sex

Unlike all those people who really, really enjoy a crap shag, then.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Luke Haines

Luke Haines is doing the promotional rounds as he publishes his sort-of memoir Bad Vibes: Britpop And My Part In Its Downfall

The Scotsman meets him:

As for the Britpop movement, Haines may have damned it at the time, but is even less happy with its legacy. "The worst thing about that whole period was that, with the exception of Pulp, it kind of quashed any kind of eccentricity in British music. Britpop really flattened it all out and left us with these homogenous guitar bands. Nowadays it would be a lot harder for people like Vivian Stanshall or Ian Dury to come along. You'll never get a pottymouth cripple back on stages again, it's not going to happen."

Stephen Jelbert reviews for The Independent:
Yet it's this obliviousness to his own obnoxiousness that makes Bad Vibes such an entertaining read. At one point Haines recalls hanging out with Donna Matthews, just as she was forming the fleetingly popular, notoriously toxic band Elastica. A decade later he invited the now cleaned-up guitarist to support him on tour, only to find out that they wouldn't be exchanging old war stories, since Matthews had no recollection of even knowing Haines at the time. But his description of Matthews arriving in the Big City with just enough skag to corrupt the fresh and fruity metropolitans sharply references all those heroin(e)s of picaresque novels where ingénues go bad.

The Sunday Times gets Robert Sandall to have a look:
He ends up in hospital after a drunken brawl on the night the Auteurs' album misses out - by one vote - on the Mercury. Naturally insubordinate, he gets thrown off a UK tour supporting The The. He's equally rude to underlings: his attempt to break America comes unstuck after he quarrels with the management of the Auteurs' support act. Even the people Haines professes to like stateside, he can't get along with. His tour manager Gene, for example, “claims to be employed by our US record company, but I just can't imagine anyone paying this guy money and having to see him every day”.

Naturally, Record Collector's Jake Kennedy is most interested in the music:
Likewise, when referring to an album of Auteurs remixes as “fuckawful, seizure inducing amateurish meanderings”, he’s grateful that he retained the publishing rights as it goes on to “sell well in the States”. Alex James’ A Bit Of A Blur this is not…

Somewhat surprisingly, reports that Haines is doing well amongst, erm, car part enthusiasts - many of whom, you suspect, are feeling that Haynes Manuals have lost their edge a little.

Embed and Breakfast man: Lungleg

It would have been great to have a Lungleg weekend, but, sadly, there seems to only be a single video on the YouTubes from the noisy Glaswegian wonders. So, here it is, then: Punk Pop Travesty, from the Negative Delinquent Autopsy EP

More Lungleg
Southern Records page
Lungleg on Wikipedia

Gordon in the morning: Come and see my etchings

Someone called Natasha Archdale - apparently going out with someone called James Blunt - has got Gordon all excited because of their business:

JAMES BLUNT’s latest posh bird is a former Sun swimwear model who now crafts nude portraits for rich clients out of old newspapers.

Rich clients out of old newspapers? What, like Will Lewis of The Telegraph? Does The News Of The World count as an old paper, as it has been established for over 100 years now?

Oh, hang on, Gordon seems to mean that she uses old newspapers to craft the portraits.
I’ve printed examples of her work for you to have a look at — and, as this is a family paper, this is the less raunchy stuff.

Yes, god forbid that any small child sees anything raunchy in a family newspaper. Best to make sure the tots stick to page three, eh, Gordon? Oh, by the way, how did your family newspaper poll on 'would you fuck Amy Winehouse, lads' turn out?

Friday, January 09, 2009

SanDisk talks up SlotMusic figures

Hey, who knew? SlotMusic is a hit, says the figures SanDisk released at CES:

During the time since its release, the SlotMusic version of Rihanna's ludicrously successful album Good Girl Gone Bad has accounted for six per cent of the album's total US sales.

Wow, that is pretty good - six per cent of sales of the Rihanna album on SlotMusic, huh?

Oh... hang on. Since its release. Which for the SlotMusic version was the 18th of November, 2008. Eighteen months or so after the original release of the record, an eighteen month period when, it's fair to say, massive sales of the record meant that pretty much anyone who liked the Rihanna record would have had a chance to pick up a CD.

So, looking at that sale the other way round, despite having the twin engines of appealing to those who like novelties and Rihanna completists, 94 per cent of purchasers of the record were shunning the SlotMusic version to pick up a record they'd already had a year and a half to buy in the way they eventually picked. Not that impressive at all, then, is it?
Of course, it doesn't help the selling of SlotmUsic any that WalMart's website seems convinced that it's a type of CD format.

Zune be done: Ballmer signals that Microsoft is thinking of axing player

Lost a little in the excitement over Windows 7 at the CES (and, hey, what could possibly be more exciting than a new Microsoft Operating System?) was the cold wind that Steve Ballmer wafted round the loss-making Zune division:

He said that, with the market for dedicated portable media players in decline, the future lay in more “general purpose” devices – such as Apple’s iPhone and touch.

Asked if Microsoft would counter with a “Zune Phone”, Mr Ballmer said: “You should not anticipate that.” He added that the company would stick to its strategy of developing software to support a range of mobile devices. That suggests that, if there is a future for Zune, it lies in planting the software and online service linked to the player in other devices.

What an excellent idea - instead of trying to make money on an mp3 player, Microsoft could bring its know-how to providing a service for other manufacturer's devices. Exactly like the PlaysForSure strategy which MS killed off when it launched the Zune. It's not clear why manufacturers who've already been burnt once by Microsoft would be keen to work with them on a revival of PlaysForSure, though.

Popobit: Dave Dee

Dave Dee, who was the first-named in Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, has died after being ill with cancer for two years.

Dee - under his original name Dave Harman - had originally been planning a career in the police, which had lead to him being one of the first people on the scene when Eddie Cochran died in a car crash. Shortly afterwards, though, he abandoned plans to uphold the law and instead concentrated on his band, Dave Dee and The Bostons. The group followed the well-worn path of heavy gigging, including a spell at the Star Club in Hamburg, before nearly getting to work with Joe Meek. Only nearly, though, as Dee recalled:

" He wanted us to play the song at half speed and then he would speed it up and put all these little tricks on it. We said we couldn't do it that way. He exploded, threw coffee all over the studio and stormed up to his room. His assistant came in and said, "Mr Meek will not be doing any more recording today." That was it. We lugged all our gear out and went back home.

Under the less outre production wing of songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, the band did finally get to record some music, changing their name to the eye-catching Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch. The new name was simply a melding of the nicknames of the Bostons, although it's still unclear if Dee himself was too dull for a nickname of his own, or too grand to be subsumed into the wackiness.

Their biggest hit was the whip-crack punctuated The Legend of Xanadu, a UK and Australian number one, but they enjoyed pretty solid success in the middle of the 60s. By 1969, though, the musical tastes of the nation were moving on, and so did Dave. He quit for a solo career - which wasn't really a success - leaving the others to change their name to the Scrabble hand of DBM&T. They didn't exactly thrive, either, calling it a day in 1972.

There was a Dee-less reunion in the 1980s - although he did turn up to record a single, Stay With It, in 1983 - and then a full-on, Dee-lead version of band which made a living on the nostalgia circuit. Indeed, a best of compilation managed to make the top 30 shortly before Christmas last year, one of their best album performances since their debut album back in 1966.

Dee was a founder member of the Nordorf-Robbins Music Therapy charity, and, in recent years, had returned to the law, taking a role as a magistrate in Cheshire.

[UPDATE: Promocopy's So Many Records, So Little Time has got a more personal reminiscence about Dave Dee.
And, yes, as anonymous correctly pointed out, Eddie Cochran died in a car crash, not a plane crash.]

Hit Me With Your Outrage Stick

Trouble over at the Hit Me! The Life And Rhymes Of Ian Dury, claims the Daily Mail:

West End star sacked after refusing to work with sex offender Chris Langham

As the story then goes on explain, the actor - Jud Charlton - was, indeed, sacked, but not because he refused to work with Langham because he was a sex offender, but because the producers had brought in Langham to make changes to the play with which he did not agree. So a more honest headline might have been 'actor sacked after refusing the use new script', but then, of course, the Mail might not have been able to froth up some paedophilia-screech to fill its columns.

Langham's work on the Dury play hasn't been heralded, which the Mail also treats as somehow being wrong and dirty and secret:
Paul Roffey, director of leading child protection agency Ray Wyre Associates, said producers should make Langham's involvement public.

He said: 'Why have the producers been so secretive about Chris Langham's involvement? The fact remains that he's been convicted of crimes to warrant a custodial sentence.

'He is required to state his place of employment on the sex offenders register and if his work on this play means he will be spending time at this public place then he has to declare it.'

But given that the sex offenders' register isn't a public document, Roffey has no way of knowing if Langham has or hasn't told the police about the work on the play. And you'd think someone from a consultancy (rather than an agency) might know the answer to the question 'why have the producers been secretive about Langham's involvement'? After all, despite the wishes of the Mail and The Sun, it's not yet demanded by law that people on the sex offenders' register have to have their presence in buildings announced by the painting of red crosses on the door; maybe the producers felt that by mentioning it, it might distract slightly from the play itself, and lead to it becoming to a focus for the outraged and confused?

Kanye plots to remove fans, pants

Kanye West has, rather quickly, been turning into the hip hop Elton John - still capable of the odd flash of brilliance, but mostly just grumpy and irrelevant. It turns out, though, that it's not because he's lost it. Kanye has a plan:

"I made a decision. I wanna make popular music, but I want less fans," he told writer Sean Fennessey when asked if was comfortable with fame. "I want the freedom of having less fans. It's like the freedom of having less money. If you have less money, you have less responsibility."

Wow, how lucky his fans are melting away. At this rate, by the middle of 2011, Kanye will have no responsibility at all.

Yes, you might well ask if Kanye has actually thought this through, and if the evidence of all human experience is that the more money you have, the less responsible you have to be. And, indeed, if Kanye wants to not have so much money, if he'd not be better off giving away the money he already has rather than behaving like a petulant twit at awards shows in the hope of making money less quickly in the future.

It seems, though, that once Kanye is poor enough to no longer be responsible, he's going to take his clothes off:
It's like Björk. If she wanted to pose naked, you'd be like, 'Oh, that's Björk.' But if I wanted to pose naked, people would draw all type of things into it. I definitely feel like, in the next however many years, if I work out for two months, that I'll pose naked. I break every rule and mentality of hip-hop, of black culture, of American culture."

Oh, yes - keeping fit and appearing naked in a magazine. That's never happened before in American culture.

Kanye then adds that he's aiming for 20,000 fans, although given that he thinks he's one of the greatest living lyricists of his age, losing so many followers will be a real challenge for him.

The WB rocks with laughter

In a bid to combine the skills - let's call them that - of the writers of The OC and Gossip Girl with the sound of hipster-approved bands, is launching a comedy-music series set in Los Angeles nightclub.

The bands booked for Rockville, CA do sound great: the Broken West, Lights, Oppenheimer, the Republic Tigers, the Duke Spirit, Eagles of Death Metal, Earlimart, Frightened Rabbit and Lykke Li. Oh, there is also Travis, Kaiser Chiefs and The Kooks, but at least because it's online and in four minute chunks you can always avoid them fairly easily.

Universal soft launch TunePost

Universal Music seem to be behind the latest awful catch-up attempt, with a service called TunePost. It's going to change the way you relate to major-label controlled music-style content forever, and isn't, in any way, yet another music-player plug-in widget like all the others floating about already.

The clunkiest detail of all is that the unattractive player has the words "empowered by Tunepost" etched on it. Empowered?

Basingstoke: Is nowhere safe?

It seems that running, straight-faced, stories about extremists lifted from the right-wing papers is a new habit of the NME. Hot on the heels from the non-existent Jewish hate list it saw in the Sun comes something it saw in the Mail about a radio station:

A local radio station's website was hacked into by 'extremists' because they played a song by Cliff Richard, the station's owner claims.

Radio Basingstoke was swapped for a message warning "the west" that they should not insult Islam.

Actually, the station's owner didn't really say that:
[Owner of the station Astrid] Haigh-Smith said: "I just thought maybe it was because we had commented that we hoped our troops would be safe over Christmas. We’ve also played the Cliff Richard version of 'Hallelujah', but we would never dream of running down any religions."

Astrid does offer Cliff Richard as a possible reason for the hacking, but clearly in a "I can't think of any reason we'd be targeted, apart from the odd Cliff Richard record we don't have any religious programming' fashion rather than 'Oh, God - Richard has brought the wrath of Allah down on our heads' way.

The more prosaic truth is that a small web-radio outfit like Radio Basingstoke - whose website has the cheery admission it's "designed by Low Cost Websites" - probably has less of a security infrastructure to head off hacker attacks than, say, Radio 2 might have while still sounding, to someone without an intimate knowledge of the UK media scene, to be a significant web presence to capture.

Avoid U2 tickets, says U2

Incoming news from the Bonophone:

U2 have warned fans not to buy tickets from touts for a rumoured summer tour, because they are fake.

Oh, don't be so hard on yourself, U2. You might not be authentic and gritty any more, but it's not fair to call yourselves fak... oh, you mean the tickets are fake.

Helpfully, the NME provides links to tickets at the bottom of the story. (Although, admittedly, not actually U2 tickets.)

Darkness at 3AM: Something's fishy

Sorry... did 3AM just say

Madonna to hit the fish in an attempt to beat age

Yes, yes, they did:
We're told: "It means she got a more cardiointensive gym regime and a diet overhaul. And she'll be eating more salmon as it's got age-defying properties. Her aim is to knock 12 years off."

And how do 3AM react to this palpable fish toss?
Makes us tired just thinking about it...

Now, nobody expects the 3AM team to have much interesting to say, but "ooh, that sounds tiring" as a response to a claim that Madonna is going to make herself younger by eating "age-defying" salmon? I know Ben Goldacre isn't a 3AM team member, but surely even they must spot that having a bit of salmon doesn't suddenly make you younger? Surely? It's like until the thing got to the subs nobody at the Mirror had even noticed the fish bit.

[Small Fish Balls from Flickr]

Gordon in the morning: So, what was the verdict?

You probably have been wondering - after yesterday's piece of quality journalism, where Gordon asked his readers if they'd have sex with Amy Winehouse now she's, you know, a bit more normal, how did the poll go?

Oddly - despite Gordon's promise to share the results today - there's no feedback. Almost as if even Gordon realised just how tacky the idea was in the first place. Or if someone told him.

Gordon and his team have, this week, been "celebrating" Amy's healthier, more normal behaviour on her holiday. Bizarre readers have been delighted by stories of her standing near rugby players, and singing jolly songs for people. All week, the message has been 'see? she's away from Fielder-Civil, she's away from the bad drugs, and she's just like Cheryl Cole or something'.

All week, that is, until today, when she's started throwing water over people and - oh dear - being sick over the breakfast buffet. Apparently.

Staff at her hotel on St Lucia claim she has infuriated holidaymakers with her antics during her two-week stay.

But... yesterday those "antics" were of a heart-warming seranading type, weren't they?

Have to admit, though, that Simon Rothstein did make us laugh by pointing out that the announcement of the winner of the Walkers Give Us A Flavour competition did, indeed, show that some celebrities would go to the opening of a packet of crisps.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wheels come off the Fiddymobile

Most slightly annoying comedy characters have their own trademark vehicle - Mr Toad's horn-covered sports car; Mr Bean's little car; DelBoy's three-wheeler. Sadly, though, 50 Cent is not to join them, as General Motors have decided the bruised economy just won't support a specially tricked out "sports truck" in Fiddy's honour:

"We always knew that it was going to be very low-volume," Pontiac's Jim Hopson said of the vehicle that experts predicted would likely not sell more than 5,000 units a year. "This would have been an extreme specialty vehicle. From a long-term standpoint, especially with where the brand is moving, it just didn't make sense."

You have to wonder: exactly how good would the economy be to justify some sort of ungainly Cent-endorsed gas-pisser? At the very least, surely, the US economy would have had to have discovered some way to make money from being just south of Canada and vaults filled with episodes of Moider She Wrote, but even then anyone who might have an interest in purchasing a Fiddymobile would not be able to look after their own financial affairs, would they?

And it had all started out so swimmingly:
"Partnering with Pontiac has given me the opportunity to create something truly unique — a customized performance vehicle I am really proud of," 50 said at the time the deal was announced. "The G8 is like none other, and it pushes the boundaries of what people think a car has to be."

He was right - especially that boundary of 'not being practical in any way, shape or form' and the other boundary of 'not being connected with a half-witted buffoon'.

We're given to understand that 50 Cent will be getting over his disappointment and introducing a range of stickers you can put in the window when you borrow your Mum's car, and bus pass holders with Cent's face on them.

Rigging online polls almost as simple as hacking Twitter - reports

The Alternative Press Readers Chart came in for some special attention, reports Hypebot:

Digital street team enabler Fancorps set out to offer some proof by asking members of four of its band street teams to vote for their favorite artists in the 2009 Alternative Press Readers Chart. The result? Teams using the Fancorps platform (Forever The Sickest Kids, Anberlin, Hit The Lights, and Ludo) grabbed the top four slots.

"When we learned of the AP Reader's Poll, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to motivate Fancorps members of the street teams we administer to try and truly effect a tangible outlet," said Tony Edwards, Director of Sales and Marketing at Fancorps. "When the issue hit news stands and our teams had topped the chart we were thrilled and further re-assured that our efforts and system undoubtedly can return unquestionable results."

Actually, Mr Edwards, what you've proved is how valueless and easy-to-manipulate online polls are, not the value of streetteams. Indeed, your admission that you rigged the poll - or let's say 'motivated fans to ensure they had their voices heard in the poll' - merely chips a little more away from the kudos of winning such a vote.

Lily Allen suddenly withdraws suddenly controversial remarks

A small drama, in three acts.

Act one: Lily Allen gives an interview to the devastatingly handsome Rob Fitzpatrick of The Word, which touches on the drugs:

The point is there's a lot of hypocrisy attached to drug culture – especially from the journalists who write about it as they're all drug addicts and alcoholics. The only story is that drugs are bad and they will kill you. You will become a prostitute or a rapist or a dealer. But that's not true. I know lots of people that take cocaine three nights a week and get up and go to work every day, no problem at all. But we never hear that side of the story. I have no statement to make, I just wish people wouldn't sensationalise this thing that just exists. Some people are bad at taking drugs. But some people are bad at driving and kill themselves and others that way. I don't take drugs. I used to. But I get very anxious around people who are on drugs, because it reminds me of being a kid. I can spot the signs of people being a bit gakked up very quickly. It terrifies me. That's why I took cocaine when I didn't even like it. I felt like a lonely child when everyone else was doing it and I wasn't.

(That, of course, was Allen, rather than Fitzpatrick talking.)

Fair enough, you might think. One of the problems in drugs education is that if you tell people something is bad and will kill you, whereas their experience is of lots of people of they know using that substance and not wrecking their lives, your message is immediately invalidated and ignored, drowning out the important stuff about staying safe. Naturally, you wouldn't expect The Sun to run 'journalists take cocaine; hold down day jobs' type stories, but Allen's point is a fair one, well made, and also delivered in a balanced way. If it wasn't for the UB40-in-a-boob-tube music, we might even find ourselves warming to her.

Act two: The response

Hang about: did Lily Allen just say that drugs are not, unquestionably, bad? In other words filling young girls' heads with smackheroin. Why not just put a crackpipe in your next download, Lily Allen? Or should I say LSD-y Allen? the Daily Mail swings into action:
'Drugs won't kill you', insists Lily Allen

Actually, she said drugs might not, or quite often won't kill you, didn't... oh, what's the point?

Doubtless, the Mail's Simon Cable can drum up some extremist drug-prevention group prepared to squark, can he?
David Raynes, head of the National Drugs Prevention Alliance, said: 'When someone like Lily Allen makes these remarks she is only harming young people who will at some point in their lives have to make a decision about taking drugs.

'We already have a major drug culture in the UK and she is affecting that.'

Yes - god forbid that someone should provide balanced information instead of simply trying to scare kids away from drugs.

Curiously, though, the NDPA's own website features pretty much the same information as Allen gave, only with numbers and buried in a piece. They copied a report from the Telegraph which featured a study suggesting 1.4 million take class A drugs, and that in 2005 there were 171 deaths attributed to cocaine. Although their expert says that would be under-reported, unless the NDPA believes that 1.4 million people are drugging themselves to death each year, they're running a piece which says 'a bloody huge number of people take illegal drugs; a very, very small number die.'

Could we also find an ill-considered interjection from a politician? Why, yes, here's Tory Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve:
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve told the Daily Mail newspaper Allen had been “naïve to assume there isn't human misery and suffering” involved in drug transactions.

“There is no doubt that drugs fuel crime and wreck lives,” he added.

Let's hope if Grieve ever gets to become a proper grown-up minister, he'll prove a bit more adept at reading and understanding his briefs; that someone seems incapable of following an interview with Lily Allen aspires to high office is slightly alarming.

Act three: Contrition

Today comes the statement explaining what Lily Allen really meant to say, had she only run the quote past her record company and management team before saying it:
""At no point does she say that drugs are a good thing or that she condones drug use; in fact, she says that 'I can spot the signs (of people on drugs) and it terrifies me'.

"The song itself talks about a culture of both legally prescribed drugs like anti-depressants and also illegal drug use.

"Lily Allen would like to state unequivocally that she does not condone illegal drug use and has every sympathy with individuals and families whose lives have been blighted by drugs."

She's really, really like to state that unequivocally. But, for some reason, has asked me to issue a statement with it in instead, which instantly raises the question of why this has come out in the third person rather than her voice.

Of course, it's possible that EMI are delighted with all the drugs hoo-hah, as it might take attention away from the real revelations of the interview, in which Allen expresses dissatisfaction at Terra Firma's management of EMI:
I make no money from selling records – obviously – but they're still arsey about hair and makeup! They don't understand anything. They have all these annoying people running the company who have no idea what it's all about. I look at Universal and see they're doing it well. So that's what I think of them. It's an uphill battle. I wish I could get dropped. But it won't happen. But it's not EMI that are the arseholes – it's Terra Firma. The people who work with me from EMI are brilliant.

Of course, the edge of this is taken off slightly by her moaning that the new team put her up at two star hotels in Paris rather than the Ritz - "I might get raped and murdered" she wails. Which, come to think of it, might also make her complaints about press histrionics over drug use a little weakened, too - presumably staying in a hotel that doesn't fold the cubicle's toilet paper into a point is no more likely to put you at risk of violent crime than sneaking into the cubicle to do a line?

Breaking news; Zavvi shrinks

BBC News is reporting that Zavvi are going to close 22 of their stores. Not clear how many that would leave.

Fall Out Boy through the Blender

Blender have wobbled from their usual format this month - instead of giving the cover story to a sexy young woman, they've slapped Fall Out Boy on the front instead. Trouble is, this means they've had to write a story to go with it. And Fall Out Boy are fuming, as they say it's been made up. Take, for example, the claim that drummer Andy Hurley punched a door frame in response to the Green Bay Packers doing poorly on the football:

"I never hit a door for 45 seconds. I may have been yelling, like all my friends and I do, but if I did anything that crazy, it was as a joke," Hurley wrote. "That is total bullsh--. I wound never slam my iPhone, and I never punched a metal door frame for any time. Yeah, I'm totally going to kill myself over a football game."

God forbid that anyone should portray the Boy as being overwrought and suicidey-grandstanders, eh? Actually, it seems that Hurley is more upset at the suggestion that the band might take sports seriously - presumably because that would mean that, rather than being the eye-linered sensitive souls they're marketed as, the group is nothing more than jocks wearing Cover Girl for employment purposes.

Patrick Stump, meanwhile, is fuming about being quoted out of context. Or rather, not quite:
"Did I quit the band? Did I say what appeared in the article? Of course. But followed immediately by it was something to the tune of this: I quit, until I started writing my solo songs and I realized how much I need him. My songs sucked without Pete and they were less fun to write," Stump wrote MTV News in an e-mail. "I love the guy, he's my best friend, and I realized that for all the decisions I'd ever gotten mad at him about, I likely would've done exactly the same in his position. I quit the band (as we all have, by the way, that's part of being in bands) and when I returned I resolved to keep doing this as long as all four of us were having fun."

So when Blender said that Stump quit the band, they're, erm, quoting him accurately? You can see how that would be upsetting. Perhaps the magazine took it as read that, since the band are doing an interview together for them, readers would be able to work out for themselves that Wentz unquit, and just maybe felt the "but he's my mate and I'm nothing without him" sounded like cheesy cant and was better snipped out.

If Blender made stuff up, that's unforgivable. But by editing out a large chunk of showbiz schmaltz (that, you'd be forced to conclude, is cover for 'the management pointed out we'd got contracts signed and we bloody well better get on') is more of a kindness to Stumpy. Magazines aren't obliged to print every single word of an interview. He could get a blog if Patrick wants unadulterated access to his people.

The band are also upset that Wentz is portrayed as a bit of a knob:
"As for the article, as I had hinted at before, I found it an objectively well-written (if plotless) thing ... It's an entertaining article that manages to take its hero from the heights of superstardom to the depths of narcissism," he wrote. "But it never redeems him and it does so at the cost of fact.

Surely if a person is a self-obsessed fool or some sort of sponsored-by-deodorant superhero is a matter of opinion, rather than an objective fact - and since when did a magazine piece have to have a redeeming conclusion? It's a profile, it's not a bloody rom-com.

Blender's response is best summarised as "wow - did they not realise it's a fawning puff-piece?"

Never Say Don't Look Back In Anger Again

Noel Gallagher wanted Daniel Craig to take the lead in a story of his life. Craig isn't so keen:

"Noel Gallagher wants me to play him in a movie about his life? That is ridiculous, he must have been in a very good mood to say that.

"I'm way older than him anyway, so I couldn't play him, but I love the idea, it's fantastic.

"I can play the guitar better than Noel can so I don't know how that is really going to work.

"I haven't had a call from Liam yet so I'll wait for that one."

We're filing this under 'hanging on for the key Alan McGee role'. But Noel... Bond... Bond... Noel...
... no, I'm going...

Gordon in the morning: Classy

More this morning from Gordon as he desperately tries to kindle something out of Amy Winehouse being on holiday in the same place as Josh Bowman:

AMY WINEHOUSE serenaded the new man in her life in an impromptu performance in a Caribbean hotel bar yesterday.

She seranaded him, did she?
Clean-cut JOSH BOWMAN and Amy’s pal BLAKE WOOD were among 25 guests there as she belted out hits on the piano.

Ah, so she sang a song to two dozen people, one of whom was him. Or perhaps she was seranading all 25 of them? Perhaps she's going to go out with all of them, eh, Gordon?

The article does mark some sort of new low for the column:
As you can see, Amy is looking better than she has in ages.

So come on lads – the healthier Amy Winehouse. Would you? Email me yes or no and I’ll print your verdict tomorrow.

It's hard to believe that Murdoch hasn't adopted 'would you fuck this woman' as a feature across his mighty news organisation - it'd sit well in the Wall Street Journal and in the longueurs overnight on Fox News. Perhaps tomorrow Gordon might like to ask the same question about his editor Rebekah Wade. Or maybe his own wife.

Still, it's not that Gordon is any stranger to controversy: his attempt to claim AC/DC are British rather than Australian has upset just enough people to make him feel all excited:
CLAIMING AC/DC for the UK yesterday hasn’t gone down too well Down Under.
My message board on MySun has been bombarded by overseas readers venting their spleens.

Bombarded, you say? There's, erm, eleven comments on the story. Oh, and half of those are about Coldplay and not about AC/DC at all. And actually only two comments of the eleven take issue with Smart's claim that two Scottish-born and a Geordie makes the band more UK than Oz. Is the Sun's infrastructure really so poor that two posts counts as "bombardment"?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hit40UK chart drops physical sales

The chart that isn't the only one which counts, the Hit40UK (what used to be the Nescafe Chart) is no longer going to count CD sales or airplay when totting up the chart positions. It's digital downloads all the way from now, they say:

Paul Jackson, the group programme director for Global Radio brands 95.8 Capital FM, the Xfm and Hit Music Network stations and Hit40UK, said: "Downloads have now become the driving force for record sales, as the statistics clearly show.

"It makes complete sense that the UK's most listened-to chart show reflects the changes in how people are listening to music."

Given that only 4% of the data came from physical sales anyway, it's not really that much of a change. And it's interesting that Jackson isn't keen on reflecting the way that people are, nowadays, listening to music on radio stations that aren't nasty, centrally-programmed, tightly-playlisted formats.

Courtney Love claims taken at face value

When Courtney Love claimed that "a tequila brand and female sanitary products company" had sponsored her new album, surely she was making a ho-ho reference to getting through the recording with tampons and alcohol?

Marketing Week seem convinced that there really is a $30million sponsorship deal in place. Thirty million dollars, Marketing Week? Between two companies? On one record? Does that really sound plausible?

Someone on the internet makes intemperate comment

This website will now report something another website published that it had read on another website about something which appeared on yet another website. And they say we live in age with too much information.

The NME has picked up on The Sun's story this morning which reported a pro-Palestinian website calling for protests against British Jews:

Reports have emerged today (January 7) claiming that Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson have been included on a "terror target" hit list made in reaction to the current conflict in the Gaza region.

A post on the forum apparently called for users to compile "a list of top Jews we can target", which included both Winehouse and Ronson's names.

In other words, somebody has drawn up a list of not-even-all-that-prominent British Jewish figures. Of course, it's a snide and not-exactly-considered response to the deaths in Gaza, but should anyone really be worried? Not unless a paper can find someone willing to talk the thing up.
British anti-terror expert Glen Jenvey told The Sun that the comments should be taken seriously.

"The Ummah website has been used by extremists," he said. "Those listed should treat it very seriously. Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs."

Poor Mark Ronson, expecting to be surrounded by a number of thuggish loudmouths. Mind you, he's worked with the Kaiser Chiefs so it's not like he's not used to it.

What's slightly confusing about Jenvey's response is his warning to "expect" a hate campaign, as if drawing up a list of people to be held responsible for a different nation's decision to hurl missiles isn't a bit of a hate campaign in its own right. And, in addition, the "expect intimidation by 20 to 30 thugs" seems surprisingly precise. Obviously not as precise as, say, "expect intimidation by 27 thugs", but still quite precise nevertheless.

It actually turns out, though, that there isn't even a special hit list being drawn up - the Sun story merely says that someone on the Ummah website linked to (yes, another) site which had a list of the 100 most prominent Jews living in Britain, which makes the threat of twenty to thirty thugs seem even less likely: if they can't be arsed to cut and paste the entire list onto a web forum, how likely is it that the necessary 3000 thugs are going to be mobilised?

It's silly, it's unpleasant, but not as silly treating everything that appears online as some sort of superplot.

The Daily Mail has a short memory

While getting agitated with Madonna over her suitcase adverts, the Mail screeches:

Put it away Madonna! Heavily airbrushed singer strikes raunchiest pose ever in latest Louis Vuitton ad

Raunchiest pose ever? Madonna? This would be the Madonna who not only did the Sex book showing her being taken from behind by Vanilla Ice, but also did proper porn when she was younger, would it, Chris Johnson of the Mail?

NME takes on the Skins

With Channel 4's radio dreams having been cruelly destroyed by outside forces, what will happen to the Skins radio programming produced by the channel?

Fear not, for a brave, new station is offering a berth to ear-support for the third, Skins-goes-Minipops, iteration of the show. NME Radio is launching a not-stretched-out-honest two hour daily Skins outing.

It's probably shrewd of the NME to tie-up with Skins: the last two seasons had a more exciting music policy than the magazine has managed for years. But ten hours in a single week? Isn't this an idea being stretched a little thin?

So, who's going to be in charge? Gemini-like man-twin James Theaker, to judge by the NME website:

'Skins' Radio will feature two new presenters. They are James Theaker, who is a seasoned 'Skins' DJ, having played at all the parties for NME Radio.

Both will take part in the NME Radio Forum tomorrow (January 6) afternoon from 4pm.

It's not clear from this if Theaker is two men inhabiting one body, or some sort of clone of himself. Or, perhaps, that nobody scanned the article before publishing it.

Folding paper: Radar drops off radar

The actually-quite-entertaining American pop culture magazine Radar gave up the ghost just before Christmas.

Rather than returning unused subscriptions to readers, the publishers have decided to force them to take an "alternative" title instead: Star, Men's Fitness, or Shape. Because, obviously, if your interest was in the revival of 90210 or the genesis of 'charts about entertainment', you'd really want a supermarket tabloid or gay porn for straight men.

Gordon in the morning: Also available in glossy

Unbelievably, Bizarre has carved a second day's lead story by simply copying stuff out the new edition of Vogue.

Gordon's team are still working on recycling the Cheryl Cole interview, but it's possible that by tomorrow Gordon will be working up a think piece around David Bailey's Women In Uniform photo feature.

Today, Cole's surprising hump that Victoria Beckham didn't send a muffin basket when Ashley was cheating on her is the focus of the ctrl+v article - for some reason, Cole seems to think that Beckham was expected to rush to comfort her because:

“She was in my hotel room during the World Cup — we’ve had barbecues together. So I was quite shocked by that.

“I mean, DAVID’s mum is friends with Ashley’s mum.”

Right. So you'd shared a badly-cooked hot dog and a squirt of French's mustard, and you thought that was the basis for marriage counseling - despite, erm, the family being closer to your errant husband than to you? You don't think that even if Beckham was in any way connected to you, she might have concluded that - given the mother's positions - it was wiser to keep out of it?

Punkobit: Ron Asheton

Founder member of The Stooges Ron Asheton has been found dead at his Ann Arbor home.

Before he picked up his first guitar at the age of ten, he'd already mastered one instrument - the accordion. It was an unusual choice of instrument for a five year-old, but he was under the spell of his great aunt Ruthie, a vaudevillian star, who had already tried to interest him in the violin. That experiment had ended in failure when Asheton's mum took the hand-me-down instrument off him to turn into a planter.

Inspired by the Beatles and the Stones, the 16 year-old Asheton made a pop pilgrimage to England, visiting London, of course Liverpool and, perhaps more surprisingly, Southport. He was surprised by some of the reactions:

We got more aggravation than we did here in this sheltered college town, by Rockers and Mods. English people still had prejudices against that kind of look in '65 so we got a lot of flack. We were kinda shocked that "where's Ringo? We haven't seen him yet!" We got to Southport which was a little calmer but still got into trouble with some of the Rockers there- they'd kick your ass if you didn't run fast enough.

Back in America, he and brother Scott hooked up with James Newell Osterberg to form The Stooges in 1967. The trio came together at Discount Records, where Osterberg was working. It was the Asheton brothers who started to call Osterberg "Pop", which got amalgamated with his other nickname, Iggy, to create a stage persona and theme for future insurance adverts.

If Ron was instrumental in giving Iggy his name, he was no less significant in crafting the Stooge's sound: it's his guitar which drives the first two albums. For Raw Power, he switched to bass, edged out from both guitaring and songwriting during a period of turbulence that had seen the band dropped by Elektra Records. Pop had tried to completely restaff the band and it's fair to say Asheton wasn't entirely delighted at being brought back when that ploy had failed. Ron had already struggled with being the only sober member of a band awash with heroin, and his attempts to stay straight exacerbated the splits in the band.

The Stooges finally fell apart in February 1974 while Asheton moved on to The New Order (not that one), Destroy All Monsters and New Race.

In the late 90s, when Michael Stipe was pulling together musicians for the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, Asheton proved to be the obvious choice for guitarist on the Stooges-like Wylde Rattz. It was this job that would lead to The Stooges reforming, as fellow Rattz J Mascis started to play with Asheton after a visit to Ann Arbor; the band were apparently so good as to tempt Iggy Pop over to have a look. From there, the reunion of The Stooges became almost inevitable, a process which moved from live dates to the perhaps-somewhat-ill-advised 2007 The Weirdness album.

Asheton is believed to have died from a heart attack around New Year's Day; his body was only discovered yesterday. He was 60.

[Thanks to Karl T]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Apple shed core prices

In what seems to be a trade-off to allow iTunes to flog DRM-free songs from all the majors, Apple is being reported as being about to abandon its one-price-for-all stance. Some tracks will drop (in the US) to 79 cents; some will remain at 99 cents, but things that people will want to buy in large numbers are going to cost more.

More than a dollar for a download? Hey, at long last: something that has the very real promise of being an iTunes killer.

Universal told: copyright violations not down to hosts

In a judgement in UMG v Veoh, a court has ruled against Universal's claims that Veoh should be held responsible for all copyright violations on video it hosted:

Relying on the statutory language, as well as the legislative history, the court concluded that all of these activities [such as encoding video into a different format upon upload to the site or the streaming of video] are covered by the DMCA Section 512(c) safe harbor. Lots of online service providers will greet this ruling with relief. If the court had accepted UMG's arguments, every web host would lose the safe harbor as soon as it made web pages available to the public. The ruling should also help YouTube in its ongoing battle with Viacom, which also turns on the continuing strength of the DMCA safe harbors.

It's a sane, sensible ruling - it doesn't remove the protection for copyrighted material offered by the law, but does shift responsibility firmly from the hosts to the producers.

Celebrity Big Brother: What, exactly, is a Lucy Pinder?

So, in yesterday's batch of highlights from Channel 4's rest home for the famous but confused, the producers injected a note of cruelty into proceedings by making people demonstrate the skills which made them famous-enough-for-celebrity-Big-Brother.

Poor LaToya found herself singing along to one of her brother's songs and Mutya was invited to do a Sugababes song, rather than one of her solo efforts.

At least Michelle Heaton was allowed to do a Liberty X song - although that turned out to be even crueller, given that she could no more hit a note than a double-decker bus could hide in a single-storey garage. She was given a costume, in a bid to ape the latex-clad video for Just A Little Bit; sadly, it was a cheap PVC catsuit which appeared to have been wrestled off the back of a burly transvestite minutes before Heaton clambered in to it.

Terry Christian looked like he enjoyed it, though. Christian - by virtue of having been backward in coming forward on the first night - had earned the power of judge and jury over this looking-glass Butlins' talent night, and would later have to name those who he felt had insufficient talent to remain in the house. "Ooh, you've made me the bad guy again" he moaned in the diary room, trying to look like he didn't like the attention - something which he had about as much success with as he did disguising his loinal stirrings while Heaton strumped about in the baggy plastic.

One of those who he put up for the chop was Lucy Pinder, on the grounds that he'd never heard of her before. "I've never seen her in a bikini, I've never seen her with her... for want of a better word, waps out." Really, Terry? You couldn't think of a better word? Really?

To be fair, Pinder had pretty much flunked the 'why I'm famous' round, starting off by once again calling herself "a little bit Tory" (oh, how fantastically contrary for a rich-but-dim woman to vote Conservative). "I don't really like Gordon and his team" she underlined (ah, that sort of Tory - one who doesn't like the Labour party.) She then explained that she felt Brown had betrayed what they originally believed in while in power - but since Brown once strongly believed in good, old Clause 4 values, surely someone who supported Tory values would be delighted that Brown had turned his back on all that socialism stuff? Isn't it a little like saying you hate rain and then complaining that there's a drought on?

Unless Pinder really meant that she thought Brown was betraying Blairism - she is quite young, she might think that Labour has always been a centre-right social democratic party and that, by privatisingnationalising banks, he's turning his back on all that. Unfortunately, she didn't explain further because she then started to churn on about how great her job is - "I met the Bo Selecta bear..."

You wonder if Channel 4 have told Pinder to mention her mushy-right-wing politics frequently in a bid to provide some sort of Ofcom-calming balance to Tommy Sheridan's leftist blasts. Sheridan did, to his credit, take full opportunity to condemn the Iraq war at the top of his lungs - "I speak truth to power" he roared. If Pinder is meant to be the balance to this, it's like planting carrots in the hope they'll provide a windbreak for the rest of the garden.

I'm not quite sure how Ben Adams demonstrated the reason why he's well-known: how do you illustrate 'making teenagers feel strange tinglings they've never had before'?
[UPDATED: Thanks, Gatz, for pointing out the slip]

Download tells punters: We're your bitches

Aware of its position low on the pecking order of UK festivals, Download organisers are responding to audience demands for this year's festival.

Yes, sadly, this is actual news: festival organisers listening to the people who pay their ticket prices and giving them what they want. And even that wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the recession and the over-supply of festival events:

[Vice-president of music at Live Nation, Andy] Copping admits that festivals are being forced to listen to their fans, many of whom will inevitably scale back their spending on music this year.

He added: "You can't just find a bit of grass, put up a stage, put bands on and expect people to turn up.

"They expect far more these days, if they're going be spending a hundred pounds a ticket, you've got to offer them a really good deal."

The really, really good deal - of not charging them a hundred quid in the first place - doesn't seem to have occurred to him. There's something almost wistful in his acceptance that, oddly, people aren't going to break their budgets to be treated like particularly low-standard cattle.

So, what can this year's Downloaders look forward to?
They include cutting the distance between stages and campgrounds and improving the toilet facilities.

Seriously, LiveNation needed an online forum to tell them that. That must have been an eye-opening day when the results were fed back: "Hey, it turns out that people don't want to have to piss in a small plastic box filled to the bubbling brim with other people's shit and smeared with blood and puke." You couldn't buy that sort of insight.
Live Nation claims environmental issues are top of the agenda for some fans this year and it is looking at ways to improve waste management at the site.

In other words, it's going to tell the support acts to not complain when bottles of wee come flying at them.

Leona Lewis: The book what someone else wrote and I will put my name to

Spitting in the wind, I know, but does Leona Lewis really believe she's done enough to justify an autobiography?

Pop singer Leona Lewis has signed a book deal to tell the story of her journey from pizza waitress to X Factor winner and international star.

So, since her 'rise to fame' took place on the TV and has been played out in the public gaze, this must mean the bulk of the money is for that untold story of pizza waiting.

"I trembled as I walked across the room, realising that he'd asked for green peppers and chef had put pepperoni on by mistake. Should I turn back? Should I go on? I looked for a sign."

Lennon's MBE "found"

It's not actually clear in what sense it was ever lost, but the Telegraph is reporting that John Lennon's MBE has been found, with the inevitable demands that it be taken to Liverpool:

Liverpool Beatles Appreciation Society founder Gene Grimes said: "The Palace are sitting on a unique piece of Beatles history and it should not be left to gather dust in a draw.

"The medal is a vital piece of Beatles memorabilia and should be exhibited for John's fans to see."

Um... why, exactly? Lennon returned the medal because he didn't want anything to do with it, so why on earth should it be given back to him posthumously? And even if it hadn't been returned, since when did the logic run that it must be put into some sort of Beatles museum "for John's fans to see"? Thank god the Liverpool sewage treatment works don't hold on to stuff for decades.

Gordon in the morning: That close to a superstar wedding, then

Given that Bizarre seems to have run stories suggesting Winehouse is dumping Fielder-Civil, getting back with him and getting back with that other Blake bloke, it's perhaps no surprise this morning Gordon and his team is suggesting she's going to run off with a rugby player.

This seems to hang on nothing more than a photo of her standing on a beach with some jawbone called Josh Bowman, who is friends with Danny Capriani. Who apparently plays rugby for a living.

It's all a bit vague, but that doesn't stop Gordon running a think piece:

RUGBY hunk Josh Bowman must have some balls to tackle Amy Winehouse.

Up to now she’s tossed away every opportunity to get back on the straight and narrow.

But hanging out with a decent lad on a sun-kissed island miles from the madness of Camden can’t be a bad thing.

It’s got to be better than throwing money at hopeless junkie husband Blake Fielder-Civil.

Let’s hope this new love for life inspires her to pick up a pen, write some decent tunes and do what she does best . . . sing.

Bloody hell, man: it's a photo of her on holiday in St Lucia; let's not start over-extrapolating, eh? After all, she went to exactly the same place twelve months ago, and that hardly was the opening for a golden year, was it?

Meanwhile, Simon Cowell's attempts to drive a coach and horses through US immigration policy to get Cheryl Cole working in the States, despite her recent conviction for beating the crap out of a toilet attendant - sorry, that should be "[w]hat Cheryl did [...] a long time ago and entirely out of character" - gets Gordon turning into a linguist:
If Cheryl does make it on to Oprah, it’ll be interesting to see how the Yanks cope with her Geordie twang.

Not many of them will know that “Way ayy man” means hell yeah, dude — or that “Alreet pet?” means how’s it going chick?

And fewer will know that “Canny bag o’ Tudor” is her way of saying awesome potato chips.

Goodness, you're right, Gordon. We'll really, really have to hope that Oprah Winfrey doesn't move the conversation on to Cole's opinions on bags of crisps, won't we? Or pavements, come to that. Apparently, Gordon, Americans call that "the sidewalk" - and they say tomayto, too. All the time.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Lars Ulrich offers to destroy memories, second band

Lars Ulrich has offered his services to Deep Purple, should they wish to reform:

"I know there's talk about the fact that if they got Coverdale, Hughes, Lord and Blackmore together, they would have four members who aren't in the current DEEP PURPLE — then they just need a drummer. I'll volunteer myself for that," Lars laughed. "If they need a drummer, David Coverdale has my number."

Lars, sweetheart, Coverdale threw away that napkin as soon as you left the restaurant. Oh, sure, he might pretend he lost it later - "I tried to text you or something, but it never went through, and then I ran out of credits, and... you know, I lost the piece of paper with your number on it and... really? You poked me on Facebook? I... uh, probably haven't seen that yet... um... gotta go...." Whatever you might think, David Coverdale doesn't have your number.

Florian flounces out

Florian Schneider has formally left Kraftwerk, for reasons unexplained. I think it might be because they've stopped making spares for his robot double. Ralf Huetter is now the only original Werkman in the band.

Razorlight buys I Heart NY tshirts

I really want to believe that this paragraph on is a knowing parody of Razorlight's strange worldview of America:

Johnny Borrell and company will drop 'Slipway Fires' Stateside in March 2009.

Surely, surely, that's NME taking the piss out of Borrell?

Four feet wide with razor sharp teeth

Someone has hacked into the Twitter account where Britney Spear's people pretend to be Britney Spears, and pretended to be Britney Spears:

“HI Yall! Brit Brit here, just wanted to update you all on the size of my vagina. Its about 4 feet wide with razor sharp teeth.”

The team apparently knew this was a fake straight away - probably the correct spelling was a clue; the message has since been removed.

For some reason, "experts" have decided this hackage was probably done by the same person who hacked Barack Obama's account - presumably because that time the message read "It's Barack here, my vagina is four feet wide with razor sharp teeth."

Kuti cuts

Femi Kuti has been forced to postpone his first week of North American gigs this week; he's going to pick up from the 14th in Boston and reschedule the rest. He's not well, apparently.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Twee

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I agree with the Creative Review's definition of 'twee music' (Woody Guthrie? Twee? Really?) but their interview with Dan Stevens, a director at music PR and management company, Darling Department; Parv Thind, sound designer at Wave; and Peter Raeburn, founder and creative director of music production company, Soundtree about the gentle soundtracks to current advertising is still worth a read:

Yes, it does seem like the Balls ad was the first to have that folky, acoustic sound. Actually, the ad featured a combina­tion of image and sound that together blows you away because you’d never seen or heard an advert like it. It’s really powerful and that definitely has a knock-on effect.

People saw that ad and thought, ‘what a great formula’ and when people see a formula that is clearly working it’s easy for them to say ‘let’s do something like that’. That’s the power of advert­ising! It has the power to start trends (and sell records). Before Balls, there was a trend for finding quirky old tracks from the 1930s that no one had ever heard of. The music that was on PlayStation Mountain is a great example. There was a Wrangler ad with Follow The Yellow Brick Road on there. It’s a trend that’s still ongoing.

Brits nominations announcer announced

A new round of awards ceremonies for a new year, and what could be more exciting than an announcement about the person who's going to read the autocue during the announcement of the people who are in running for the announcement of the winners of the Brit Awards?

Given that last year's shambles on ITV2 was handled by Kelly Osbourne, it was always going to be easy for whoever came next - after all, compared to Kelly, even Fearne Cotton would look halfway competent.

It's going to be Fearne Cotton.

Next year, surely, this announcement should, in its turn, be made on live TV - perhaps SkyReal Lives could bid? - with the name of the person supposed to deliver the clunky links being unveiled to a small audience of half-drunk journalists at one of the swisher branches of Costa Coffee near London's West End.

An ITV spokesperson, revealing the appointment of Cotton, looked worried for a moment and said "hang on a minute... was it her or Tess Daly that does Dancing On Ice?"

Preston goes it alone

You know what's really heartbreaking about the announcement of the completion of the solo album from Preston who used to be in Chanelle And Preston? It's the timing, oh-so-coincidentally at the same time as Celebrity Big Brother is on. Because he was on that, you know. He was the one who had to pretend he was in a band that people had heard of, back in 2006.

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Computers will save us all

It's easy to poke fun at Gennaro Castaldo's willingness to offer quotes on anything vaguely entertainment-related to any media outlet at any time of the day or night (and, indeed, I'm just about to), but it's fair to point out that you never came across a Zavvi spokesperson keeping their company's ungainly name in front of consumers. Sure, the free advertising might not have helped with the not-got-any-stock problem, but it might have meant that a year after the name change, newspapers still needed to put "the old Virgin Megastores" in brackets every time they mentioned them.

Anyway, it's with an eye on the troubles up the road that Castaldo has assured Sunday Mail readers that HMV will still be cluttering up the streets with box sets and ungainly cut-outs for years to come. It's another outing for the plans to make HMV some sort of digital hub:

You'll still find a comprehensive range of music, films and home entertainment.

"But we'll now introduce social hubs where you can access your favourite music sites or MP3 kiosks to download new songs.

"Using chip-and-pin technology you can listen to virtually every bit of music that is digitally available.

"If you like it you can keep it and the cost will vary between 59p and 79p a track."

Hang about... you're offering people the chance to go into a store, fire up the websites they usually use at home and then preview the songs before handing over fifty nine pence for them - using 'chip and pin technology' (i.e. a debit card?)

Why would you not... you know... stay at home and do the same thing?
Many young people download at home but we don't want them to be a lost generation.

Actually, the last time I went into an HMV I was the only person in there older than the next Doctor Who. But never mind that: they're at home downloading, you know they're downloading at home, so what would be the point of trudging into town to download the same tracks at exactly the same price?
"We'd like them to come into our stores and treat them as more of a social space to hang out."

Let's not recast this as a slightly ominous take on 'hey kids, why not come and use ole' Uncle Pete's house as a hangout? You can use the pool, if you like. Or maybe get a shower. Just don't tell your parents, right? A secret between us, yeah?" Let's not do that at all.

Instead, let's pretend we're HMV shareholders, and that we've just come to accept that the advantage of music going digital is that the overheads are at least a lot lower because you don't have to have expensive, physical stores for people to congregate in, offsetting the lower unit price.

And now let's pretend we're HMV shareholders being told that we're going to run some sort of youth club in expensive, physical stores which are selling music downloads for the same price they're being sold online.

Did you see visions of your retirement pot vanishing?

Still, for the kids, it's a brilliant offer - you can hang out with all of your mates, just like in a pub or a burger bar, only without the seats or food or drinks. While listening to the tracks you could have bought if you'd met with your mate in your bedroom. Except, of course, if you'd met in your bedroom you could have found exciting ways to give each other chlamydia - so perhaps that's HMV's big hope: their new stores will be a kind of guard against STDs by ensuring you at least get no further than heavy petting. Gennaro Castaldo himself might be on hand to blow a whistle if young hands sneak too far away from the chip-and-pin technology.

Sense and Sentry ability

While it's pleasing to see the RIAA dumping the foul MediaSentry snooping company from its books and not embarking on any new lawsuits, I'm not entirely sure we should be seeing this entirely as sense prevailing at the RIAA. Given the state of the economy, this looks more like an attempt to cut costs rather than an admission that the strategy was wrong in the first place.

Cheryl Cole: That sort of exclusive

Oh, fiddlesticks, eh, Gordon? The Mail has also got 'an interview we read in Vogue' story this morning. Still, it's 33% exclusive, right?

Gordon in the morning: A new year of Gordons

Given how Gordon Smart had drilled Bizarre and his minions to try and split up Cheryl and Ashley Cole, it's something of a surprise to power up the Sun's website to discover an "exclusive":

Cheryl tells how she is putting husband's cheating behind her

Why would Cheryl share this with Gordon?

The story itself answers that quite simply. She hasn't.

Not only is the piece written by Richard White ("showbiz reporter") but it's not an interview with The Sun at all - it's something White's read in Vogue:
Cheryl, covergirl on February’s edition of Vogue, told the mag how Ashley regularly double-books nights out when he attempts to treat his missus of 2 1/2 years.

How on earth do you claim an exclusive on something from another magazine? Even if the team at Vogue - and it's UK Vogue, not the proper one, as you can tell from Cheryl Cole being on the cover - shared their story only with The Sun prior to publication, it's still not an exclusive because it's appearing in two places.

So, what's Gordon himself up to when his column is full of stuff Xeroxed from other parts of the newsagents?
I PREDICT this will be the year of JAMES CORDEN.

What's especially odd about this - besides it being something that has been obvious for about nine months and is about as close to risky soothsaying as saying "I predict next year will be called 2010 and have an April 24th in it" - is that Smart says this like it's a good thing.
In 2008 I made James a Bizarre Clown Prince alongside Mat, Russ and Mighty Boosh pair NOEL FIELDING and JULIAN BARRATT.

Now James looks ready for his coronation.

Russ is, of course, Russell Brand - you might remember Gordon's boss writing about him in an editorial last year, and his:
obscene bullying of Andrew Sachs

Or, indeed the:
Brand-Ross filth

I'm sure James Corden will be delighted at being thought of as being 2008's Russell Brand by the Sun, then, if that's what being a Bizarre Clown Prince does for you.

Still, let's just enjoy for the moment Gordon's increasingly strange world, where his entirely made-up system of Bizarre honours is starting to require a Debretts of its very own. I wonder if the guy who does Big Brother's Big Mouth with James Corden is a Bizarre Clown Earl or something? Or is that title reserved only for the eldest son of a Bizarre Clown Baronet?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Woot-ton: The CBB "race row" that isn't

Oh, god, they've barely had time to unpack and already there's unpleasantness at the Big Brother house. And, for some reason, Dan Wootton's been put in charge of coverage at the News of the World:

CELEBRITY Big Brother was embroiled in yet another race row last night after gangster rapper Coolio used the racist term n****r - but was NOT disciplined by Channel 4 bosses.

Actually, Dan, it's gangsta rapper and, although it's hard to be certain, Coolio almost certainly said n***a, not n****r. But it is confusing, isn't it, Dan?
The 45-year-old, well known for his hate-filled song lyrics, had been warned by show chiefs not to use inappropriate language before entering the TV house on Friday night.

Coolio is hardly well-known for anything anymore, is he? And "hate-filled song lyrics" is hardly the first phrase that bubbles up when trying to place him.

Of course, it's hard for Dan, who is keen to suggest there's a direct correlation between the way Jade Goody treated Shilpa Shetty and a black Gangsta rapper using "nigga". Since Dan can't be as stupid as to really not understand why one is unacceptable and one disappointing, you'd have to conclude Wootton is attempting to stir a pot.
Last night a TV insider said: "It's as if Channel 4 and Endemol have learnt no lessons from all the previous incidents of racism and appalling behaviour on Big Brother.

"If he's allowed to use that word without any sort of reprimand, what's next? It's absolutely disgusting. What if another housemate uses this kind of language."

Then, presumably, Channel 4 would judge it the context in the same way they've judged this one.

So, Dan, let's get down to it: who did Coolio call a nigga? Actually, nobody - it turns out he was only quoting his subconscious:
After enquiries from the News of the World a spokeswoman last night confirmed Coolio had said the offending word and it had not been broadcast.

She said: "At around 9.20am today, Coolio recounted a vivid dream he experienced overnight in which he had been involved in a fight.

"Coolio used the N-word in his descriptive retelling to Ben. Coolio described how his imaginary adversary called Coolio 'Oh n****r'.

"This was again immediately flagged to senior production staff at Endemol and C4.

"After reviewing the footage, where Ben clearly took no offensive from the use of the word, no other housemates heard the word, the footage was not broadcast to cause offence to viewers and the context that Coolio used the word, no further action was taken.

"As always constant monitoring of any unacceptable language by any housemate is on going and Big Brother is always prepared to remind all housemates of these rules."

The real surprise here is that Channel 4 and Endemol have actually taken a cool-headed, adult and understandable approach to the not-even-quite-an-issue. Still, we'd like to see Dan Wootton go down when Coolio's evicted and tell him off for being a nasty white supremacist.

This fortnight just gone

I was bored on Christmas day: Popular searches on December 25th (not counting people looking for porn, nudity or sex):

1. Beth Ditto
2. Christmas number one 2008
3. Yontube (sic)
4. Zavvi
5. Eric Clapton
6. warners youtube xrrf
7. zavvi closes
8. +91 keli contact email
9. ah tube
=10. madonna and jesus / shelleyan orphan / michael jackson healthy / what happened to samantha mumba

(all the above were searched more than once on the 25th)

These were the new releases we plugged before Christmas, and hung around like an unused Zavvi certificate:

Sonic Youth - Anagrama

Kate Rusby - Sweet Bells

The Twilight Sad - Killed My Parents And Hit The Road

Blonde Redhead - Blonde Redhead

Comets On Fire - Comets On Fire