Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Hughes weekend: Career Opportunities

1991, and John Hughes is about to leave forever the arena of teen movies in order to concentrate on writing family films instead. But there's one last teen movie left in him - Career Opportunities. Also known as One Wild Night. The plot revolves around people being locked in a superstore overnight - the very night that burglars choose to break in.


The strapline is "Maximum comedy at minimum wage", in a bid to make it even less attractive.

However, Betty Boo pops up on the soundtrack, so it's not all bad:

Career Opportunities DVD - not apparently in print at the moment
CBetty Boo - The Very Best of...

[Part of the John Hughes weekend]

Artistdirect crawls away from NASDAQ

Claiming it no longer has the ability to cope with the "demands" of SEC filings, ArtistDirect is pulling itself off the NASDAQ exchange.

Although the company bears the name of the quite useful music website, it also runs Peer Media Technologies. The people behind MediaSentry and MediaDefender. So, having poured investment into creating ways for major labels to try and use legal routes to close down peer-to-peer networks, it's MediaSentry itself which has ended up in trouble. Whoever would have predicted that, eh?

Punkobit: Willy DeVille

Willy DeVille, founder of Mink DeVille, has died from pancreatic cancer.

Although the band which bore his made-up name might be his most visible memorial, DeVille created more than just punk in his career. After the band ended in 1985, he went solo and explored a range of genres, including Zydeco and cajun ballads. His work on the soundtrack of The Princess Bride won him an Oscar nomination in 1987.

Mink DeVille formed in 1974, getting a slot as house band at CBGBs shortly after Billy Borsay had changed his name to Willy DeVille. The arrangement lasted for three years and cemented the band's reputation as being at the heart of the US punk scene, despite DeVille's belief that his music had little in common with the CBGBs crowd.

A slew of albums for Capitol, starting with Cabretta, built on the band's reputation and saw them win a support slot on a Costello & Nick Lowe tour of the US. A spell with Atlantic would follow, but by 1985 DeVille was keen to explore other musical avenues and the band didn't so much split as disappear when the name was dropped. DeVille had, though, revived the name in the last few years, appearing as Willy DeVille and Mink DeVille Band.

Willy DeVille was 55; he is survived by a wife and a son.

John Hughes weekend: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Not, perhaps, the greatest moment in Hughes' career - although it made such an impression on the bloke who steered our horse-and-cart ride round Central Park that he went out of his way to point out where in the park they filmed a scene. And it did include this sublime piece of music: Darlene Love, backed by the E Street Band, All Alone On Christmas:

Darlene Love: So In Love anthology

[Part of John Hughes weekend]

Folding magazines: Bearded cut

Sad to hear that independently-minded music magazine Bearded is closing. Partly because it's wobbly financially; partly because Gareth Main is finding it more stress than fun now, and partly, as he tells Stack, because labels were getting grumpy at bad reviews. Or "honest" reviews, as they're sometimes called.

[via @sweepingnation]

John Hughes weekend: She's Having A Baby

Set here, with scary, space-stalery precision, and filmed at the same time as Planes, Trains, She's Having A Baby might well be Hughes' lost classic.

It's also the soundtrack which perhaps best showcases Hughes' range - XTC, Love and Rockets, Kate Bush rubbing shoulders with classic motown; Kirsty MacColl covering The Smiths and even some Dr Calculus, Stephen Tin Tin Duffy's side project.

And this: Gene Loves Jezebel's Desire:

The Best Of Gene Loves Jezebel
She's Having A Baby DVD
She's Having A Baby Soundtrack

[Part of John Hughes weekend]

More upset for Guy Hands

As if it wasn't hard enough trying to keep EMI afloat with nothing more than a promise to do something sometime from Chris Martin, things are looking grim for Guy Hands on a personal front now.

The New York Times is reporting that HMRC is taking a close look at his claims to be a Guernsey resident for tax purposes:

[H]is lawyers hope to make the case that not only are the funds of his company, Terra Firma Capital Partners, administered in Guernsey and all the main investment decisions taken here, but Mr. Hands also has publicly vowed not to set foot again in Britain for the immediate future. If so, that should establish beyond a doubt that he is a resident of Guernsey.

But others are not so sure. Tax experts point to the fact that his wife, who owns their stately home in the Kent countryside southeast of London, runs a hotel business that is based in Britain. Three of his four children still go to British schools and the majority of Terra Firma employees, about 60 in number, are based in its London office.

While the lawyers argue about if it's legal or not, the "is it moral" question is much more easily settled, don't you think?

John Hughes weekend: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Ah, back when I was a student I once wrote an essay on the construction of Planes, Trains And Automobiles. I think that was why I flunked my second year human biology module.

John Candy. Steve Martin. A slim, but winning plot. And they had Balaam And The Angel on the soundtrack - I'll Show You Something Special is on YouTube, in a continuing-with-sound-only fashion.

There was also a good slice of Steve Earle, working with John Mandoukos as The Dukes. They did this:

Balaam And The Angel - The Chapter 22 Years
Steve Earle & The Dukes - The Hard Way
Planes, Trains & Automobiles DVD

[Part of the John Hughes weekend]

Unwanted formats: CMX, anybody?

Given the way new formats have been launched and failed like flying ants emerging into the daylight inside an aviary, you'd have thought that anyone at a record company meeting who suggested launching yet another mystifyingly-named, undemanded format would find themselves shoving their office gonks and mugs into a binliner rather than being given a budget and small team.

Not so, though, as the majors have cooked up a new, exciting, new, exciting, new, exciting format that will - they believe - stop the decline of album sales:

Sony, Warner, Universal and EMI are putting the finishing touches to an album format that will give music fans a computerised version of the sleeve notes that come as standard with a CD, including lyrics and artwork, and videos.

They're calling it CMX. Perhaps to persuade confused grandparents to buy one when the little 'uns have asked for a BMX. Or perhaps because they're hoping it'll be as successful as the MSX computers were back in the 80s.
One senior record label insider said: “Apple at first told us that they were not interested, but now they have decided to do their own, in case ours catches on.

“Ours will be a file that you click on, it opens and it would have a totally brand-new look, with a launch page and all the different options. When you click on it you’re not just going to get the ten tracks, you’re going to get the artwork, the video and mobile products.”

Thank god for that - I would have hated it if it didn't have mobile products.

Is it just me, or does that "senior record label insider" sound like he or she has been to a couple of meetings where someone's stood up and run through a Powerpoint, and everybody has come away really excited but nobody quite understands what it is. "There's this thing with a brand new look and all the different options"? That could be anything, couldn't it?

The main weakness - beside the utter pointlessness of the idea - is that people aren't buying albums online because they can get the tracks they want without having to buy tracks they don't like. It's like the major labels have seen people getting upset at finding flaming brown paper bags of shit left on their doorstep, and decided that people might enjoy it a bit more if, before it was set alight, the shit was put into a gift bag with a ribbon on it.

Embed and breakfast man: The John Hughes weekend

As a tribute to John Hughes - a man who knew how to pull together a soundtrack - let's spend the weekend in 80s teen movie heaven, plucking gems from the Hughes oeuvre.

There is, I'll tell you now, hugely unlikely to be anything from Beethovens 5th.

Let's start with the Psychedelic Furs, who found that being adopted for a title of Hughes movie gave them their biggest ever hit. Albeit, as Andy Kershaw pointed out at the time, with "one of their old ones, with the drums turned up."

This would be your Pretty In Pink, then:

And this would be the song underneath the title:

Pretty In Pink DVD
Psychedelic Furs 5 album box set [for £12]

More Hughes-related music across the weekend
Planes Trains & Automobiles represented by Steve Earle & The Dukes
She's Having A Baby represented by Gene Loves Jezebel
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York represented by Darlene Love
Career Opportunities represented by Betty Boo
Sixteen Candles represented by Altered Images, The Vapors and Nick Heyward

Gordon in the morning: Enjoy him while he's free

Announcing his plans to charge people for The Sun, Murdoch conceded that he'd have to use heavyweight legal frighteners to stop 'his' stories appearing elsewhere. Has he even read his own papers in the last couple of years?

Sure, Gordon and his team are great at securing stories nobody else has - interviews with Kasabian, set-up stories with minor celebs (which will stop happening when the audience isn't there any more and Uncle Rupert threatens to sue anybody who repeats word of the publicity stunt). But much of Gordon's content relies on recycling other people's exclusives.

Sometimes the recycling is explicit, in the case of this morning's topless Sharon Stone photos, bought-in from Paris Match (Gordon now apparently completely over that outrage that celebrities might remove their clothes for attention, then).

More often, it's not - like the other day when Smart lifted a chunk of City Life's interview with Ian Brown without mentioning its source. This more humdrum role of Bizarre - an aggregator of other people's news - led to this in this week's Holy Moly mailout:

Bit off-topic, but quite pertinent.

Rupert Murdoch has announced that he is going to start charging for his stable's online news services (Sun, News of the World, Times etc) and has accepted that there "could be a need for furious litigation to prevent stories and photographs being copied elsewhere". This will undoubtedly be a success, and will see others follow suit (the Daily Mail would salivate at the thought of being able to charge for its annoyingly good showbiz section).

This is all well and good (I make no bones about the fact that I usually take Gordon Smart's lead on the biggest story of the day and run it on HM), but let's hope the respect of copyright and content ownership is reciprocal. Will these papers return the favour and put an end to ripping stories from UK and US celebrity blogs and running them as their own without the merest hint of a link or credit back to the originators?

It works both ways, Rupert - and you have the deepest pockets in the world. x

It does raise a fascinating question - if Gordon's bulging archive goes behind a turnstile, will The Sun have to spend a fortune weeding out the - ahem - borrowed material?

Still, kudos to Rupert - he really did manage to distract everyone's attention from that pesky £2billion loss, didn't he?

Friday, August 07, 2009

The RAJARS: Not so much audience figures as a referendum

Most people see the Rajar figures as a guide - however wonky - to audience listening patterns for UK radio.

Not the Daily Mail, though. Like that bloke in Contact who can discern patterns in white noise coming from space, the Mail is able to look at the Rajar states and spy crowds of outraged middle Englanders who are waving angry pitchforks:

Radio 2 breakfast show host Terry Wogan also saw his listening figures soar, and extended his lead over foul-mouthed breakfast rival Chris Moyles.

The implication is that people are turning to twinkling Tel, having had their ears scorched by Moyles. The difficult detail that Moyles' audience is also rising seems to have somehow fallen off the final copy.

The real meat of the Mail's piece, though, is that the audience drop somehow proves that They Were Right About Those Andrew Sachs calls:
Listeners are deserting Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show in droves following the Andrew Sachs phone scandal.

The controversial presenter has seen ratings for his Saturday morning show slump in the past three months.

The presenter's average weekly audience between March and June has been 2.85million.

This is a slump, is it?
That is 180,000 below the average of 3.03million for the first three months of this year

Slightly fewer people listening to the radio on Saturday mornings in the spring than in the winter. Whoever would have thought?

And since the higher audience you're comparing with there was, erm, after Ross had returned from the post-Sachs ban, that's it's a pretty weak contention to link that fall with the phone calls. Have you got anything else?
...and 540,000 down on the 3.39million from the first quarter of 2008.

Half a million lost listeners - well, that does sound a little more slumpy. But can you really put that down to desertion following the Sachs thing?

There could be other reasons - a general shift in audience to other things, loss of listeners during the period when Ross wasn't on - but more importantly, if the Mail is really trying to prove the impact of upsetting Andrew Sachs, why is comparing the audience in January-March 2008 with today? Wouldn't a comparison of the audience before the Brand-Ross calls - immediately before, rather than half a year before - be a bit more instructive?

Gordon in the morning: A fair swap for a Ginster's pasty

Wow. Whatever will we do when we have to scrape together the cash to pay for Gordon Smart and his good works?

After all, I'm sure most of the world would rather starve than miss out on the story that Fearne Cotton is no longer dating Jesse Jenkins.

Just imagine, Rupert - if you could get a pound from everyone who cares about that, you'd possibly have had enough to pay someone to have at least airbrushed out the bit about Shakira that must have been on the cover of wherever this picture came from:

You really can see why Rupert thinks Bizarre is just like the Wall Street Journal, can't you?

Murdoch can't count on the Jackson family bailing him out, either: Jackson's kids are being banned from the internet. This is somehow going to protect them from finding out the grisly details of their father's death. I understand the RIAA is now looking to introduce legislation to save us all from the horror of finding out these details by putting a massive block on all the internet. "It's better we don't know."

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Michael Jackson name to be stuck on shitty old tat; sold big

At the record company meeting, on their hands - at last! - a dead star
But, Mr. Morrissey, it's not just the record companies who adore a corpse. It's everyone who scrambles to peel off the dead guy's face and stick on things.

Now Michael Jackson is dead, the estate is planning to brand the arse out of him. MTV reports:

A wide-ranging deal with merchandising powerhouse Bravado highlights plans to produce a wide variety of Jackson-related memorabilia, from photo books and trading cards to lithographs, buttons, live recordings on USB drives, online games and denim and high-end clothing. There are also proposals for digital clothing, tattoos and accessories for VR worlds like Second Life and Stardoll, embossed wine decanters, theme packs for the Xbox and wallpaper and screensavers for cell phones.

Virtual Michael Jackson clothes? Clothes that don't exist endorsed by a man who vanished inside himself? And people will pay for this?

It's one detail, though, that shows that exactly how much thought and care has been put into this. That embossed wine decanter.

A Michael Jackson embossed wine decanter.

Presumably it looks like a coke can and the embossing reads Jesus Juice, does it?

Digital figures all a bit confused

Even the MediaGuardian seems a bit confused as to if the 6Music and BBC Radio 7 audience figures are terrible - which the three month drop suggests - or great, as the year-on-year growth would say.

Really, it might just say that Rajar isn't any good at counting digital audiences.

In other Rajar news, Moyles is still adding listeners, but not as quickly as Wogan, in the battle for the title 'The most-listened to breakfast show by a man substantially older than his target audience'.

Warners figures

Hypebot has got the details on Warners losses for the quarter, and the position isn't pretty:

Total revenue decreased 9.3% and operating income from continuing operations declined 51%. Total losses from continuing operations swelled to $37 million from $9 in the prior year quarter.

Twelve million dollars a month? It's hard to see how Warners could even manage to be spending that, much less losing it.

But don't worry, Warners have a cunning plan:
WMG improved its financial position during the quarter with a $1.1 billion offering of secured notes which the company used to pay off previous loans. But the new new notes carry a hefty 9.5% interest rate and come due in just 7 years

So it seems that Warners is adopting the survival tactics of a desperate single parent on a sink estate, and turning to a loan-sharkey solution. We give it three quarters until they're trying to flog off their telly down the pub.

Saint Etienne have all the accessories required for that Big Match atmosphere

Set your alarm clocks and other devices to remind you at 3pm on Monday when the hugely limited edition Subbuteo edition of Fox Base Alpha. There's only a thousand, so get in early, or you'll have to wait until you can buy it on eBay to put in a drawer alongside your 1981-82 Subbuteo catalogue.

[While you're waiting: Saint Etienne videos]

Croonobit: Renato Pagliari

No, no; you're thinking of Joe Dolce. Renato Pagliari was one half of Renee and Renato, who had a Christmas number one in 1982 with Save Your Love.

The most fascinating part of the story is that the writer of the song, Johnny Edward, spotted Renato on New Faces in 1975. "He'd be perfect for singing this" thought Johnny. It took seven years, then, for the partnership to come to fruition.

There was never a follow-up hit, but Renato kept singing. Lately, at his son's restaurant, which is also called Renato's.

Gordon in the morning: Next door to Uri Gellar Doesn't Call Anymore House

Katie Holmes, according to Gordon, is a little bit broody:

ACTRESS KATIE HOLMES wants to star in a box-office smash before having another kid, she has reportedly told pals.

Or possibly not broody. Katie Holmes telling Tom Cruise "yes, we can have another baby, but I just want to have another multi-million dollar opening weekend first" is a bit like me saying that I'm not going to consider buying new curtains until, well, I've had a multi-million dollar opening weekend.

Elsewhere, Pete Samson's byline appears on the 'exclusive' on photos from what I see we're now supposed to be calling "Michael Jackson's death mansion".

You'd have thought when the realtor was showing him round, that might have set a few alarm bells ringing:
- Uh... this name plaque on the front door?
- Yes, Mr. Jackson?
- It says Michael Jackson Death Mansion
- It is a charming name, isn't it?

It's not entirely clear how this exclusive is different from the News Of The World world exclusive on Sunday. Oddly, the NOTW still hasn't run its photo online. It does seem to realise it no longer has any physical copy sales to protect, as it's removed the "buy the paper to see the picture" line at the bottom of the piece.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

NME exhibits brave editorial independence

Surely, it can only be brave, editorial independence that has led to this week's edition of the NME running a three-out-of-ten, rip-to-shreds review of The Twang's Jewelery Corner on the left side of a double-page, bang opposite a full-page HMV advert pushing The Twang's Jewelery Corner.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like... Bob Dylan?

It sounds like some sort of joke dreamed up by a sketch show nearing its deadline, but no: Bob Dylan really is making a Christmas album.

Bob Dylan.

Something to listen to: No Age

No Age, no pay: Sub Pop are streaming No Age's Losing Feeling ep, due this October. For nothing.

Since nobody would cash-in on The Beatles name, this can't be what it looks like

There's nothing in any way tawdry about the Ben Sherman Beatles shirts on sale:

The Beatles Collection of four t-shirts, four button down shirts and a Harrington jacket, a style made popular by in the 1960s and 70s by mods, will be available globally next February in Ben Sherman outlets and in major retailers stocking the brand.

The 60’s inspired range will be adorned with images of Beatles memorabilia, album covers and pop art images of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Ah yes. Beatles-themed mod-style jackets. I look forward to the Sex Pistols flares and Disco-themed bondage pants which will presumably follow in a similar 'it was all roughly the same period' style.
The licence of the Beatles brand is held by Apple Corps. Caroline Mickler Limited is implementing its brand licensing strategy in the UK.

“Ben Sherman and The Beatles are a perfect match, combining a genuine British heritage with powerful, worldwide brand recognition,” says Caroline Mickler.

I'm not sure Caroline Mickler actually got to the end of that thought - is "a genuine British heritage" meant to mean The Beatles or Ben Sherman? And is "powerful, worldwide brand recognition" meant to mean The Beatles or Ben Sherman? Do both Dollhouse phrases actually both refer to The Beatles and Mickler just never got as far as saying "... with a company that makes expensive tshirts."

Radiohead download now

The Harry Patch track is available to download from the Radiohead website; it costs a pound, but the proceeds are going to the British Legion.

It's a bloody good track, by the way.

Natasha Hamilton shutters H

Natasha Hamilton out-of-Atomic-Kitten's H nightclub has achieved a notable first: it's become the first nightclub in the UK to be closed twice because of violence.

The club, in Victoria Street, was closed down last September after a stabbing inside. According to the Echo, the latest incident was equally, if not more, grisly:

Two door staff suffered knife wounds, one to his chest and another to his hand, while a third man also suffered stab injuries after trouble spilled outside.

Merseyside Police said a customer was armed with a knife inside H Bar, although this is disputed by the club management.

A man was also kicked unconscious and was found in the street with a switch blade by his side.

You've got to love the idea that management are objecting to the idea that there was guy inside the club. "Sure, there are people bleeding all over the place, but there wasn't a guy with a knife inside."

Natasha has now decided that maybe running a nightclub which attracts the stabby set might not be such a good idea, and is going to close H and open it as something else:
Her manager Martin O’Shea told the ECHO: “H Bar is finished. Natasha can’t be associated with a place that is mentioned in the same breath as stabbings and gangsters."

Although, erm, it was being mentioned in the same breath as stabbings and gangsters back in September last year, and it reopened that time.

Radiohead on Radio 4

In, ooh, just under an hour - at 8.50 - Today on BBC Radio 4 will be premiering a new Radiohead song, Harry Patch (In Memory Of).

Gordon in the morning: Oh, look, it's women kissing

Someone - Gordon says "a movie website" but it sounds more like two blokes who don't get out much down the pub - has come up with a list of "top lesbian kisses". Obviously not actual lesbians actually kissing, but people pretending to be lesbians pretending to kiss.

Buffy top girlie kiss

Since Buffy doesn't actually develop an interest in women until season eight, a comic book embrace coming at the top of the poll might seem a little surprising. But it turns out Gordon doesn't mean Buffy - as usual, he's confusing the actor and the character:
BUFFY star SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR's snog with SELMA BLAIR has been voted the hottest ever lesbian kiss on film.

And that would be bisexuals kissing, if you wanted to get technical.

Never mind, because the whole article is really building up to the photo caption:
Lez be friends ... Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions

Lez be friends? Does Gordon realise that's one of the phrases which Alan Partridge throws at his lady lesbian guests in Knowing Me, Knowing You, as a demonstration of how cruel and ignorant he is?

Oh... and you remember Gordon tutting at people who take their clothes off in order to buttress their fame? Apparently it's not bad when Victoria Beckham does it for a pants advert, either

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cobain continues being rude after his death

A lovely idea of an unofficial park remembering Kurt Cobain has run in to trouble, as the man behind it, Tori Kovach, has selected eight Cobain quotes he'd like to display in the park. And one of them has a rude word in.

The Associated Press explains:

Aberdeen city officials are upset about the quote that says, "Drugs are bad for you. They will f--- you up." The marker contains the full F-word.

There's an interesting philosophical digression here, as to if it's accurate to say the quote says something, and then not publish what the quote actually says. But let's leave that aside.

The council will decide if such profanity should be allowed to be seen in cold, hard granite, or if it should have them removed and invite passers-by to add the fuck back in.

Local drug dealers are also said to be upset. One told us: "Hey, how am I meant to be selling my shit down here with a big sign saying they fuck you up? It's like forcing McDonalds to put a sign up saying 'will make you fat', or Pizza Hut stick a label on their boxes saying 'won't actually fill the hole in your life, you know'. Couldn't they at least tone it down? 'Some drugs might be bad for you. They might mess you up, if you're not careful and buy from an undesirable source, like that Sammy The Fish down on the Civic Square, because I know for a fact what he says is E is actually ex-lax cut with Vim.' Something like that, I could maybe live with."

AOL: Round and round goes the downward spiral

It's taken them a while, but AOL have broken off from sitting with their heads in their hands sobbing gently to launch a UK version of Spinner. I don't know if they didn't realise they could just do one version as it's on the internet, but it's done now. launched in 2007 with one simple idea - that it was all about the music. Since then, it's become one of the most popular music sites in the US, and has launched international editions in Spain, Poland and Canada. Now it's the UK's turn.

I'm not quite sure why Poland got their site before the UK did. Oddly, takes you back to the front of Spinner US, and you have to go to in order to get the Polish content. Which is splashing Michael Jackson and a lot of metal right now.

UK Editor Stephen Dowling's introduction is a little toe-curling in places - "hey, my crazy tastes must put a strain on my iTunes Genius function". But it seems heartfelt, and - hey - it's all about the music: launched in 2007 with one simple idea - that it was all about the music.

Or, as the press release puts it:
“The vision for Spinner UK is to create a destination for passionate music fans beyond the Top 40, with a global pool of bloggers contributing music news across the world.”

The front page on launch day has items about Slipknot, Michael Jackson, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Snoop Dogg and Green Day. So not very far beyond the top 40, then.

Wyclef Jean was overawed by Michael Jackson

I think the subtext here is that we're meant to read the words "even I, the mighty Wyclef Jean, out the Fugees and so on, felt this way" at the start of every sentence:

"When I knew he was coming, I went to the bathroom, put some water on my face and I was rehearsing how I would be talking to Mike," he said. "When I was in the presence of Michael Jackson, I go to shake his hand — and my whole voice box goes out. This is the kind of effect that this man had on me!"

That must have been an awkward meeting - one man unable to get his voicebox to work, the other having trouble keeping his nose in place.

Kerrang Awards 2009: Or possibly 1999

You know why they have a newcomer prizes at the Kerrang awards? It's so you can double-check you're not, actually, looking at a list of winners from a decade ago.

I'm not sure if I can quite take seriously any prize-giving where Linkin Park are hailed as classic songwriters; much less one where there is a Hall Of Fame which retains a wing to praise Limp Bizkit.

The winners in full:



BEST SINGLE: The Prodigy - Omen

BEST VIDEO: Mastodon - Oblivion



ICON: Alice In Chains

BEST ALBUM: Metallica - Death Magnetic



HALL OF FAME: Limp Bizkit

BEST BRITISH BAND: Bullet For My Valentine


Exploding iPods; exploding Liverpudlians

It was, perhaps, tiresome of Apple to put a non-disclosure agreement into a refund for an exploding iPod Touch. Because it ends up with this sort of story, where a Liverpool father is now suing Apple and bringing far more attention to the story than it would have got had they just cut the cheque.

The incident itself sounds well sci-fi:

[His solicitor] said: “On Saturday July 4, he dropped [his daughter's iPod Touch] and when he bent down to pick it up he noticed it was making a hissing noise. He could feel it becoming hotter in his hand and at this point it emitted a clear vapour.

“Mr Stanborough threw it in his back garden and within seconds, he heard a noise similar to a firework going off and saw a 10ft plume of smoke.

Then an army of angry nanobots flew out the earphone socket, intent on turning Liverpool into a grey goo. You can see why Apple would want to hush that up.

What in an iPod would cause such a reaction?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Men At Work

Quite rightly, the internet has raised as one in praise of Alan Connor's consideration of Down Under for the BBC News Magazine:

Of the two choruses (one rhymes "under" with "plunder"; the other with "chunder"), it's the one about sweat ("where women glow"), beer and vomiting that sticks in the mind. ("Chunder", meaning "vomit", was a piece of surfer slang also popularised by Humphries, who believes it started as a nautical warning - "watch under" - from those on the upper decks to their shipmates below.)

Gordon in the morning: Coldplay find their market level

The news that Coldplay tickets are going for a dollar a piece in the US is quite an interesting story.

It confuses poor old Gordon, though, who can't seem to decide if it's a sign that Coldplay are in decline:

And it seems they have flogged their horse to death.
In other words, there's no one left out there who wants to see CHRIS MARTIN and the lads.
So, it seems you CAN have too much of a good thing.

Or, on the other hand, if it's a fabulous bargain for something special:
I think the low price is fantastic. I caught the opening night of Coldplay's world tour in Los Angeles last year and also saw them in Salt Lake City and was mightily impressed.
Get a ticket - whatever the price.

Yes - go and watch the band flogging their horse to death; make sure you snap up the tickets to be one of the nobody left who wants to snap up the tickets.

Of course, Gordon can't afford to be too tart - he might not get to fly on Chris Martin's private jet in future. Mind you, the way things are going, Chris Martin might not be able to afford to fly on Chris Martin's private jet much longer, either.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Woodstock chopped

Sense has been seen, and there is to be no Woodstock 40th anniversary festival.

It's not entirely down to sense, though: Michael Lang couldn't find any sponsors willing to underwrite the attempt to revive the spirit of Woodstock. Perhaps because they remembered what happened the last time someone tried that.

Embed and breakfast man: Bat For Lashes

Not all record company money is spent suing people - they still find some cash to make videos. Obviously with the idea of the artist repaying them in the long run, but even so...

This is what Parlophone have had rustled up to promote Bat For Lashes' Sleep Alone:

[Buy Two Suns | Download Two Suns]

Jackson fakes crackdown

Apparently the Jackson estate are busily trying to crack down on the booming industry in fake Jacko memorabilia.

They're trying to stop fans being ripped off by items purporting to be Jackson-related but where the face on the items just looks like a poor-quality reproduction. Things like t-shirts, mugs, and Michael Jackson for the last ten years of his life are given as examples of this shoddy work.

Five entities with no obvious link to the Jackson family have tried to trademark the phrase "King of Pop" on everything from drink umbrellas to juggling balls since the day he died.

Michael Jackson juggling balls? There's a headline the Weekly World News would have loved to have got.

But the family have no right to the title anyway:
Complicating matters is that the phrase "King of Pop" was not actually registered to the singer, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which has some of his applications on display in a free exhibit in Washington.

He registered "Michael Jackson" as a trademark, the office said, but only on sound recordings, videotapes and movies involving music and entertainment. Jackson owned a patent on a shoe that allowed the wearer to lean past his center of gravity, as he did in the "Smooth Criminal" video, but it expired in 2005 because he didn't pay a $2,480 maintenance fee.

They gave him a patent on an orthopaedic dance shoe? Really? It's hard to see how the owner of such a patent died in so much debt. Pity he never pitched the shoes in the Dragon's Den - a nice bit of banter with Duncan; get Theo to muck about in the shoes; he'd have been quids in. The road not travelled, isn't it?

Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson! Does whatever a spider can action!

One of those stories where the headline suddenly collapses when you poke it from the Daily Telegraph:

Michael Jackson planned to star in Spider-Man movie
Michael Jackson had planned to star in a new Spider-Man movie before his death, the superhero's creator has disclosed.

Wow. That's quite a thing, but since the headline and the standfirst both claim Stan Lee says a guy in failing health had been planning to appear as Spiderman, it must be true, right?
Marvel legend Stan Lee, 86, said the King of Pop had discussed his plans to produce the flick - and believes he wanted to play the eponymous web-slinger himself.

Oh. Or possibly isn't true.
"I'm not sure whether he just wanted to produce it or wanted to play the role. Our conversation never got that far along."

So rather than knowing for sure that Jackson wanted to play Spiderman, it's just a guess on Lee's part.
Asked if he thought Jackson would have taken the title role, Mr Lee replied: "I suspect so."

... although, naturally, there is nothing at all for Lee to base that on as, by his own admission, casting never even came up.

Still, 'Michael Jackson had speculative discussions about buying the rights to Spider-Man' - who would bother to read a story if that was the headline?

God "rather keen" to be left out of Eminem-Mariah spat

Visions of the Holy Mother have appeared in Lourdes, Knock and Fatima over the past 24 hours to brief members of the press and clergy about God's response to Nick Cannon's latest attacks on Eminem.

Nick Cannon - who, you'll already have forgotten, is married to Mariah Carey - has been Bible-Tweeting to show the latest depth of his hump with Eminem:

Nick wrote: "Quote of the day, 'Never argue with fools because from a distance people can't tell who is who.' "

He later added: "Never take your own revenge, but rather give place unto the wrath. For it is written vengeance is mine, I will repay... PREACH! 'I will bless those that bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.' Genesis 12:3."

Nick's response continued: "Be patient in the moment of anger and escape a hundred days of sorrow!

"People who project negativity ultimately are crying out for their own broken souls. Trying to save a hater is like trying to teach astrophysics to a wino!"

The Lourdes manifestation of the BVM was direct: "Look, I was talking to God this morning" she said, wiping the tears of blood from her eyes. "He was pretty clear that he didn't want to get involved in the dispute. 'Mary' he said to me, 'I haven't even been asked to judge an early round on American Idol. Why would I want to come in to judge this one'"

Two hours later, appearing on the wall in a chapel in Fatima, the second vision added this: "God's been musing on this all morning, you know. He's especially annoyed that Cannon did the thing about 'vengeance being mine'. Because it is. It's his. If there's any vengeance to be done, God will be doing it. Make no mistake of that. And he'll decide where it goes, thank you very much. Because it's his. The vengeance. Not Nick Cannon's, thank you very much."

The vision then cured two of the faithful of halitosis, and one man's bunions, before de materialising.

A further appearance at Knock was apparently preceded by a disembodied voice yelling "Look, Lord, can't you just send a burning bush? Or get a Twitter account? Do I always have to be your bloody go-between?". A shimmering, but slightly annoyed looking vision of the Virgin then appeared, delivering the following statement:

"God is rather keen to be left out of this whole thing anyway. He's everywhere, remember, so had to watch when Eminem and Mariah were at it - he can't look away, can he? And he tells me it was all somewhat dull for what's meant to be original sin, though I couldn't comment on that myself, could I?

"Although what God's really annoyed about at the moment is the suggestion that there's no point in teaching astrophysics to a wino. 'Cannon seems very good at quoting me' he was fuming, 'but he doesn't seem to understand me very well'. God then went on this long lecture about how winos are no less capable of understanding astrophysics than students are, and just because he's given them a drink problem doesn't mean there's no reason why someone shouldn't clean a wino up, dry them out, and help them follow their dreams of studying astrophysics. Except then he got even more angry, demanding to know why people wanted to understand physics at that level anyway. Seriously. He doesn't like it, the astrophysics. Sees it as people poking about in his handiwork. 'It's like someone going into a hotel room, and folding back the carpet to see if there's dust been swept underneath it' - that's what God's always saying about astrophysics. I wouldn't know, myself, not having been able to get a hotel room even when nine months pregnant, but tell him that and he blows up: 'It's a metaphor... why can't you people grasp the idea of metaphor and allegory? Why are you always looking for the sodding ark like there's an actual ark?' He's a pain to live with, I'm sorry, but he is.

"Anyway... there you have it. Please leave God out of this, Nick Cannon. Unless you want to spend eternity with the other fella, teaching astrophysics to derelicts."

Joanna Southcott was unavailable for comment before publication deadline.

7Digital signs Eurodeal

If you need further evidence that the music industry is too slow to adapt, look no further than the announcement that Warners have signed a Europe-wide deal with 7Digital, allowing the company to sell their catalogue from sea to shining sea across the continent.

It's good news for 7Digital. Quite a coup. Nobody has done a deal like this before.

And there's the rub. It is 2009, and only now has a major signed a pan-European deal with a digital store.

At this rate, the music industry will be ready to fight off the Napster 1.0 challenge by sometime in the middle of 2023.

Indieobit: Andy Parle

Horribly sad news this morning, as Andy Parle, one-time drummer with Space, has died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Parle was a founder member of Space, helping the band ride a perhaps unexpected route to the charts - Female Of The Species was used heavily on ITV thirtysomethinglite Cold Feet. He left in 1998, finding life in a Top 40 act less rewarding than concentrating on the music; it's probably fair to say that his departure came at the peak of Space's commercial success.

Parle apparently fell while crossing Park Road, Dingle. Bleeding heavily, he was taken to the Royal, where he died. Police are treating his death as "unexplained" and are keen to talk witnesses who might help explain what happened.

Kyrgyzstan torrent site taken offline, the Kyrgyzstan torrent site, has been closed by the country's Finance Police. Their servers have been seized while claims of copyright infringement are investigated.

The service was primarily used for porn and unlicensed software - in a country where even Windows XP costs more than the average monthly wage - but also was used for music sharing.

Gordon in the morning: Now post-feminist

Friday morning, Gordon was showing signs of heading off for the barricades:

What a refreshing change. Many women in showbiz will happily get their kit off just to stay in the spotlight.

So, is Gordon going to stop that sort of thing happening in the future? At least on his watch?

What do you think?:
Since landing her deal with the underwear giant she's rarely been seen in clothes.

That's Katie Green, spread without a top all over an office.

But hang on a moment... What's this?
BLIMEY. Is it just me or are pop videos getting filthier?

LADY GAGA touching herself and KATY PERRY kissing girls - it's just going too far.

Really, Gordon?
Yesterday, snaps of the SUGABABES rubbing themselves up against a steamy window emerged.

And today, SHAKIRA looks like she's in the buff and doing a contortionist's act.

But don't worry... he's not really upset, just setting up the hilarious double-take punchline:
On second thoughts...

And then he runs the photos. Ho-ho-ho.

By the way, you've got to love the use of the word "emerged" in regard to the Sugababes photos, as if they arrived on his desk by some process that was part-nature, part-espionage, rather than their publicity team ringing up and asking what format he wanted the pictures of the Sugababes in.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ed Vaizey suggests Hotel Babylon is the way ahead

Also tucked into Ed Vaizey's proposals for what media might look like under a Tory DCMS was the suggestion that rules on product placement be relaxed for commercial television. Rubbing his hands together, he suggests that this might bring millions of pounds flowing in to ITV and its brethren.

Well, yes - although since that money is going to come from somewhere, it might just mean a shift from traditional advertising and sponsorship to product placement, meaning a sacrifice of editorial independence for no actual financial gain.

And the early experiences of what happens when companies gain too much control of the editorial - or think they should - are well-known. Perhaps Ed Vaizey needs to reacquaint himself with the Hotel Babylon disaster of 1996.

This was a 1996 series made by Bob Geldof's Planet 24 for late-night ITV. It was sponsored by Heineken, but they weren't entirely happy with the first programme:

Justus Kos, from Heineken's sponsorship department at its head office in Amsterdam, faxed Planet 24 demanding more "Heineken- ising" of the show. "More evidence of beer is not just requested but needed."

Part of the problem, it seemed, was not just the lack of enough beer in the programme, but the fleshy presence of the presenter blocking views of the Heineken logos and - heaven forbid - men in the audience drinking wine.

I mean, wine. Can you imagine?

If that was bad, though, worse was to come in the fax:
"The audience should be aspirational but not too much on the edge. There was a too high proportion of negroes. Although the audience group seems to be a mixture, director and/or camera crew have a tendency towards selecting just extravagant people. Also 'normal' people should be filmed."

Too high a proportion of negroes?

Yes. He did.

Bob Geldof told the The Independent of his response:
Sir Bob Geldof, a founder and still major shareholder in Planet 24, yesterday said Heineken could "go fuck themselves" as far as he was concerned. "I heard about the infamous fax and I hooted with derision. It is our programme, not Heineken's."

I'm not sure that "hooting with derision" when being told there are too many black people in your audience is quite the reaction you'd hope for. Trouble is, of course, that the programme actually was Heinekens, what with it having been bought and paid for, and designed around their branding. To paraphrase Churchill, the nature of the relationship had already been decided, Kos was merely haggling.

After the fax complaining about black faces was made public, Heineken swung into brand-salvage mode:
Last night Karel Vuursteen, chief executive of Heineken worldwide, reacted to the fax with dismay. Replying to Mr Grant, he said: "Having read the original, only one thing can be said about it: it should never have been written. I am truly shocked about the content of the paragraph you refer to, since it is totally against everything Heineken stands for. Heineken denounces all discrimination and will live up to that. I hope you can accept my sincere apology and I can assure you that proper steps will be taken to prevent recurrence."

And, to be sure, nothing like that has ever been put into writing since.

A sorry tale, then, and a warning from history about what happens when you let corporations think they can buy editorial placement. Not the model a serious politician would be suggesting for the future, surely?

Downloadable: The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut

What do you get if you cross people who like indie music with people who like railway trains? A large group of people wearing anoraks and making lists, probably.

The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut has also combined trains with jangle, offering free MP3 of Hey Dr Beeching. Sort-of free, as they/he is asking that you accompany your download with a charity donation to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway. Which is part of the rail network saved from the Beeching axe. Sort-of saved.

All Points West on hold

Bubbling around in Twitterstreams right now: All Points West have postponed their gate opening for today, blaming bad weather. They don't yet seem to have finished working through their plan B, though.

Heather finds a niche

Whoever would have thought? Heather Mills' vegan restaurant is doing kind of alright. Although it's not just the meat that had been removed, according to the Evening Argus:

Diary-free, eh? That's great news, as I can't stand dates.

The precise measure of success, though, seems a bit shady:

And it seems the former model’s new venture is changing many people’s attitudes towards vegan food, as between 700 and 1,000 vegan products are sold at the venue every day.

I've not, I think, heard of a restaurant hail the number of items it sells rather than covers served, money taken or profit made. The sense this is a bit of a rewritten press-release doesn't let up further in to the article:
The cafe’s cakes, which are transported around on a travelator similar to that found in sushi bars, are also proving to be a popular treat for those with a sweet tooth. About 1,000 are being sold every week.

A travelator? You mean a conveyor belt, surely? A conveyor belt similar to that in every supermarket in the country?
The cafe’s website has also been popular, with more than 3,000 hits on VBites’ opening day.

Hmm. This is starting to sound a little desperate now. What next?

"The window of the restuarant has been a hit, too. On opening day alone, there were seventeen and a half eyes peeking through the windows in every half-hour period."

Tories can't tell Radio 1 from Capital, plot sell-off

You have to feel a bit sorry for Radio 1, don't you? Because the Conservatives don't really like the BBC, but don't really want to be seen trying to take down BBC News, it's always Radio 1 they go for.

Ed Vaizey, shadow minister for whatever would be left of the culture, media and sports has floated an impressively confused and spiteful policy in The Sunday Times:

Vaizey also believes the station is failing to reach young listeners. “Radio 1 is not fulfilling its obligation to its audience,” he said. “Its median age is those in their thirties when it should aim much more at teenagers and [those in] their twenties. There is then a good argument for the BBC to be rid of Radio 1 and give the commercial sector a chance to use the frequency.”

It's not fulfilling its audience remit, so let's sell it off. Rather than ask it to better perform its remit.

There's an argument that simply because the median age of the audience is outside the target, that doesn't mean that it's not serving its target.

Imagine, for example, a town with 100 dogs and 400 cats, and it's a town where you want to ensure as many of the dogs in town get flea protection. To do this, you offer free flea treatment for all pets. A quarter of the cat owners turn up, and half the dog owners show up too. You're doing quite well at reaching dogs, but statistically, you look like you're doing better at treating cats.

This might explain Radio 1's middle-aged bias; it might not. I don't know, and I'm prepared to bet Vaizey hasn't got a clue, either.

Also, it could be that the more intelligent response is to ask if trying to segment audiences by age alone actually makes that much sense any more. A service aimed at "teenagers and those in their twenties" seems a bit of a strange way to describe Radio 1 anyway - isn't it the nation's pop and rock station? Do 17 year old kids flicking through UCAS offerings and 29 year-olds celebrating their children getting into good primary schools really have common ground in the way Vaizey seems to believe they do?

And if there is such an audience, who are being ill-served by the BBC, how does flogging off the frequency to a commercial entity actually address the problem?

"Hey, guys - the coat factory that is supposed to make coats for you isn't delivering the coats. But don't worry, we're going to close the factory down, so nobody will have coats. Vote for me!"

Even more surprising is that Vaizey's thinking is that the BBC has too many FM frequencies:
He said the corporation was even more dominant than its commercial rivals in radio compared with television, pointing to the fact that it held four out of five national FM licences. The only exception is Classic FM.

“There is an unfair disparity,” said Vaizey in an interview with The Sunday Times. The sale of Radio 1 would help to alleviate the imbalance. Industry experts believe the station’s frequency could be worth at least £100m.

Leaving aside the question of if the new Bauer and Global 'local' networks don't quite count as national networks, are the Tories really thinking that British broadcasting policy in the 2010s is best shaped by worrying about if Virgin can broadcast of FM? Good lord, man, you're going to be shaping the way the media works for decades to come, and your proposal to the lack of adverts on FM is to propose closing down one of the BBC stations, rather than finding a way to fund getting a national spread of internet-distributed stations into cars?

This, then, is what the Tories look like: they've gone to hear Jesus speak, and have helped collect the food. Looking at the bread and fishes, they're ignoring Jesus' offer to do a bit of miracle work and make it stretch, and instead are drawing up plans to hold an auction for the few pilchard sandwiches they can make.

Or possibly some Tories. It looks like this is one flag being run up a pole only to discover the rats deserting Vaizey's sinking ship:
Although Vaizey is shadow minister responsible for broadcasting, a Tory spokesman said last night that the sale of Radio 1 was not party policy.

Let's hope they leave it that way.

Festival stage collapse

High winds at The Big Valley Jamboree in Alberta have brought the stage down, killing one and injuring fifteen.

One of the Billy Currington band guitarists [who was onstage at the time], Doug Collins, told the Calgary Herald: "I was playing slide guitar and I have to look constantly at my hands. All of a sudden, I saw this blast coming at me and I ran off the stage.

"One amp started falling toward me and that is when it got bizarre. That's when I ran."

Kevin Costner's vanity band, Modern West, had been scheduled to be on stage after Billy Currington.

Kanye West's autocoronation... where did you hear that, again?

There has been much made of Kanye West's picking up of Jackson's crown as The King Of Pop. West is having to deny it; columnists are fuming with rage.

But where did the story come from? Sweeping The Nation's Simon T has sent us an email which unpicks it all:

This might well be unbeatable. A story is running across the online media that Kanye West has declared himself 'the new King Of Pop' - in fact he's already issued a denial on his blog - and according to the Independent the 3ams ran with it as well, as presumably will other outlets. According to Digital Spy, the source is one Scrape TV.

Simon helpfully provides a link to Scrape TV to show us some of its other current scoopage:



Actually, that last one isn't actually a spoof story.

The original piece is mostly a discussion about the mechanics of succession for the title King Of Pop, ending with this:
West made his declaration in an all caps statement issued to all major media outlets.

You'd have thought that would have made major media outlets - presumably the Mirror still counts amongst those - have a quick look through their inboxes, at the very least, to check the veracity of the story. Scrape have also published a response.

Polka News Network: The attraction of polka

The Grammys might think there's no interest in polka, but how do they then explain the crowds who waited patiently for Musikfest Polka in Bethlehem, huh?

Out in the audience sat 50-year-old Kevin Bolash, of Grafton, N.H. The Bethlehem native has made the pilgrimage from up north every August to visit family and attend Musikfest.

"I moved to New Hampshire to seek my fortune and to ski," Bolash said. "I should have had my head examined."

During the summer he's a welder; in the winter he's a ski instructor at Mt. Sunapee. He said he comes down for opening night to hear the polka beats of the Walt Groller Orchestra.

The Grammy organisers better hope all this polka love doesn't get turned into an angry mob waving accordions at the red carpet guests.

News of the World: Picture, or STFU

Today's News of the World has quite a scoop, if you like your scoops grisly and invasive:

Michael Jackson's deathbed photo
World exclusive photo in today's News of the World reveals desperate struggle to save Jacko's life

Wow... that is quite a scoop. So, what does this scene look like?


Wonderfully, in order to protect something or other, the paper has decided it won't actually print the picture online. In case it steals part of Jackson's soul, apparently.

Now, I know the theory: if the put the picture online, people with a ghoulish desire to see a rumpled bed and discarded medical equipment will look at it online. Don't put it online, and instead they'll trump over to the newsagents - in their pyjamas - to buy the newspaper.

Or wait until somebody scans it and puts it online.

So, while the News of the World preserves its exclusive for about an extra twelve seconds, and adds somewhere in the region of one extra sale to a bloke with a flatbed scanner and a blog dedicated to the beds of the rich and famous, it's reduced to describing the photo it won't show you. Like the flasher in the "it's so cold outside" gag.

Which means the paper has managed to make itself look ridiculous and heartless simultaneously. Good work, everyone.

This week just gone

Cinerama - Cinerama Holiday

download Cinerama Holiday

Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

download Minimum Maximum

MSTRKRFT - Fist Of God

download Fist Of God

Nanci Griffith - Blue Roses From The Moon

download From A Distance: The Best Of

Frankmusik - Complete Me

download Complete Me

The Twang - Jewelery Corner

download Jeweley Corner

Modest Mouse - No-one's First And You're Next

download Everywhere And His Nasty Parlour Tricks

Various - Ze30 [Alan Vega, Suicide, Kid Creole...]