Saturday, January 16, 2010

RIAA pushes against net neutrality

Net neutrality - the idea that American ISPs should have no interest or control over what happens on their lines - is a vital principle. It's the only way to make the internet fair.

Even the RIAA gets that.

Except, of course, if the net is actually neutral, it would mean they could never get ISPs to police unlicensed file-sharing. So, in response to the US Federal Communications Commission's open enquiry into what net neutrality rules should apply in the US, the RIAA has suggested that the FCC come up with some sort of not-quite-net-neutrality.

Sure, the major label cartel knows this would look like self-interest, so it's tried to come up with a plausible reason of why it would be in the public interest to leave a bloody great hole in the back door of net neutrality:

Illegal filing sharing and congestion are closely related, said the RIAA, which was among the dozens of groups that filed comments in the net neutrality/open Internet proceeding before a midnight Thursday deadline for the first round of comments. P-to-P networks make up about 20 percent of Internet traffic, the group said.

"Piracy, particularly piracy conducted by high-volume users, notoriously hogs bandwidth," the RIAA said. "Piracy wastes scarce network resources and crowds out legitimate uses of the network. It costs more to bring broadband to additional areas because of this inflated bandwidth usage."

Now, the RIAA claim that every track pirated is a sale lost - which means, clearly, that they believe if there was no piracy, the same amount of material would be being shipped around on the networks, except with a bit of extra ecommerce floating alongside. So a piracy-free network would actually be carrying more traffic (and, indeed, it would have to be even more secure and expensive). So, either your public statements don't actually add up, or you know you're telling fibs to the FCC. Or you're suggesting that ISPs should be given a slice of each transaction covered to support the costs of the legitimate traffic. Which would it be?

Liquidation changes top floors

Liquidation has seen some changes in the time it's been delighting the prettier, more discerning end of Liverpool. Hard to believe, but the night it started, there wasn't a Ted Baker or a Nandos in the city.

There are changes afoot, though. Or, more accurately, ahead. Overhead. Long-serving top floor flavour Uptight is being stood down:

After many years of faithful service, Uptight has been put out to pasture, and upstairs every Saturday night from January 16th we'll be hosting Adult Books and the music policy is: GLAM/PUNK/ELECTRO/NEW WAVE/NOW

They say "Adult Books is an all out glitter-orgy of really quite glam-licious proportions, for the great and good in Liverpool to get out and go crazy to!" and who are we to disagree?

"If we'd had a third dancefloor in Le Bateau, Adult Books would have joined the party on Saturdays a long time ago, so it's great to finally have them on board."

In Uptight's absence, downstairs Liquidation will be playing a selection of 6Ts big hitters alongside the usual blend of sonic guitars, dirty disko and lost classics.

There's also to be a resurrection of the live acts that punctuated Liquidation back in the day, starting from February 6th. And drinks specials but use alcohol wisely, yeah?

Reverse Dotty weekend: Downloadable

One last bonus from the bucket of Reverse Dotty: Master Sr, an mp3 to download for free.

[Concluding the Reverse Dotty weekend]

Blur heroin story has no distance left to run

Yesterday, you might have spotted, the press were all over a story about Blur and drugs which took references Damon Albarn makes in new Blur movie No Distance Left To Run and inflated them to make it sound like it was heroin what did for the band.

Today, if you try to visit those pages - such as the Daily Telegraph page at - you'll just get a 404 error page. If you try the 3AM Girls' story which was yesterday at​damon-albarn-heroin-tore-blur-apart-115875-21968690, you just get dumped at the front of the Mirror website without any explanation.

Surely it wouldn't take a stiff legal letter before editors untangled their confusion at a man talking about the subject a song he made up in 1997 with the causes for a band splitting in 2003?

Wyclef Jean: Haiti donations might have been hasty

You can't deny Wyclef Jean's good intentions - he's down in Haiti right now, helping the relief effort.

Slightly less laudable, though, is his pushing of his Yele Haiti charity. It's been shady in the past, explains The Smoking Gun, and Gawker reports that it's not the best placed organisation to be picking up donations right now:

[L]arge first-responders usually have the resources to move money quickly to where it's needed, either by virtue of prepositioned disaster fund, large pools of money that they can shift among accounts as circumstances warrant, or access to a bridge loan to get money flowing. Yele Haiti, which as of 2007 had no paid staffers and currently, according to the source, has one employee who works out of the kitchen in Jean's Manhattan recording studio, has no such capacity. So it can spend whatever money it has on hand—at the end of 2007, it had roughly $500,000 in cash and liabilities of more than $900,000—but after that it has to wait for any donations made over the last three days to actually clear and show up in its bank account. And again, because it is a small player and uses a small firm to process its online donations, the source says, that process can take "two weeks to a month."

It might not be such a major problem - after all, there will still be needs for reconstruction in Haiti in a month - was Jean not pitching Yele Haiti as part of the instant relief effort. According to MTV, Jean has managed to bark up a million dollars from his campaigning - that's a million dollars that the larger groups could be using right now; a million dollars redirected to the wrong place at the wrong time.

Oh, and there's more:
Yele Haiti is will be one of the beneficiaries of George Clooney's "Hope for Haiti" telethon to be broadcast next week, and "there's no reason for that," the source says.

Yele Haiti claim that their connections in Haiti make them better-placed to distribute aid in a hurry - which isn't implausible - and say that they have achieved success in the 2004 Tropical Storm and 2008 food crises.

They even try to explain away the dubious financial organisation, including this:
Another strange Yele Haiti expense—$100,000 to Platinum Sound in 2006 as a performance fee for Jean playing a fundraiser in Monte Carlo—included payments for musicians and production costs, Locke says. Only $25,000 or so, he says, accounted for Jean's fee.

Ah, right. So Jean only pocketed twenty-five grand for playing for his own charity; not four times that amount. That's... alright... then.

Reverse Dotty weekend: Break It Off

This is the last video shaking from the Reverse Dotty tree: Break It Off, in a similar style to the previous 'performance with album version overdubbed' effort:

[Part of Reverse Dotty weekend]

I collect, I reject: More Beatles tat for sale

Given how sniffy they are about putting their music onto digital platforms, The Beatles are really happy to let any other old shit be flogged off their backs. Here's an example:

MusicSkins Secures Worldwide License to Market Personal Device Skins Featuring Iconic Beatles Images Including Seven Best Selling Albums Cover Art

In other words, they're selling some stickers you can stick onto your phone with pictures of Beatles records on them.

Of course, you might be more familiar with the world of high-quality, wipe-clean vinyl decals than music, so here's a helpful explanation:
“The Beatles are the biggest rock band of all time, and they are still as hot today as ever – the recently released re-masters of their CD’s shot to the top of the charts, and ‘The Beatles Rock Band’ game was the most anticipated game release in years,” commented Jed Seifert, MusicSkins LLC Executive Vice President.

He's right, you know. If by "top of the charts" he means "quite near the top of the charts, for some of them, although others struggled to get out of the lower reaches, and then they all dropped out faster than the bottom of a cardboard bucket" and, on the computer game, if you add the words "ignoring Call Of Duty 2 and Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil 5 and that arcade game they put into SuperPoke Pets."
“We couldn’t be more excited about offering skins that showcase the Beatles logo and the iconic cover art from some of the most important albums that helped shape the whole rock music genre.”

No, I'm sure you couldn't. I really couldn't be any more excited about it, too. Even if something happened to make it actually exciting.

Reverse Dotty weekend: OMD

The album version of OMD, laid on top of a live performance of the song:

[Part of Reverse Dotty weekend]

Gordon in the morning: Silence in Church

For no apparent reason, Gordon decides to kick Charlotte Church around a bit this morning:

It will be a while before we hear an album from her as she is looking for a new record deal. But I hear she has been writing songs in LA and is touting them around.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 have shelved The Charlotte Church Show. It was last aired in 2008.

None of these three things really seem to be 'news' as such. Gordon only seems to be bringing them up now so he can share some his of his acute, insider's eye to explain this situation:
I reckon the problem can be summed up in two words... KATHERINE JENKINS, her sexy Welsh chart rival.

Yes. Yes, that would be it - you can picture the scene at Horseferry Road:

- Shall we recommission the Charlotte Church show?
- No, we'd better not, as there's another welsh female singer in existence

Elsewhere, Gordon reveals that Journey refused to let Simon Cowell give Don't Stop Believin' to whoever was going to win last year's X Factor.

(Pop quiz, hotshots - can you remember the name of the 2009 X Factor winner? That's showbusiness.)

Gordon sees this as the fatal flaw that cost Joe his number one:
The Geordie lad performed the 1981 ballad twice on The X Factor. And I'm not alone in thinking it could have got him the Christmas No1 if he'd released it.

Although Gordon doesn't say who it is who makes him feel unalone in this strange belief.

Billy Bragg: Not talking with the taxman

Billy Bragg is mad as hell, and not taking the RBS bonuses lying down. In fact, he's decided to not pay his taxes until it's "sorted out" - which seems a bit vague as a campaign slogan: ("What do we want? The bonus situation at the RBS to be sorted out! When do we want it? As soon as practicable but certainly before the next budget, assuming the election isn't called in the next couple of weeks...")

Actually, the campaign's main aim is for no RBS bonuses at all; and Bragg's NoBonus4RBS Facebook is calling for an old-fashioned letter writing campaign. On the basis that the citizens of the nation are, effectively, shareholders of RBS. Because they play taxes. Only Bragg isn't going to pay his taxes until it's sorted out. So he won't be an effective shareholder... um...

Embed and breakfast man: Reverse Dotty

So if Sleater-Kinney spent too long hanging out with David Byrne, you might end up with something a bit like Reverse Dotty. I'm thinking this is effecting an introduction, but they've been going since 2007, and are currently plotting their third album for this summer. So it's more catching up.

Let's start at the start, shall we? Pregnancy-rejecting, pizza-themed fun with Egg Room from the first album:

Reverse Dotty on the internets - official site
Reverse Dotty on Last FM
Reverse Dotty on MySpace
Reverse Dotty on Facebook
Reverse Dotty on Twitter

Buy Reverse Dotty
Reverse Dotty downloads on Amazon

More to come...
OMD - half-live
Break It Off - half-live
Master Sr - mp3

NME want to know what you reckon

NME is doing another one (actually, another three) sessions where they invite you to go to their offices and come up with ideas to save themhelp shape the future of the magazine. Everyone's invited, but please: if your idea of the future is ten year-old Liam Gallagher interviews, please don't go.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Alan Ellis: Oink man not guilty

The not guilty verdict in the case of Alan Ellis, found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud in charges relating from his Oink website, isn't entirely comforting news for the music industry.

The Crown Prosecution Service and the Police are also trying to put a brave face on things:

Chief Superintendent Mark Braithwaite, head of crime operations for Cleveland Police, said: "This has been a fair investigation.

"The jury has been presented with all the evidence and we abide by their decision."

The Crown Prosecution Service defended the decision to prosecute Mr Ellis.

"We believe we were wholly right to bring the prosecution against Mr Ellis and that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that evidence was put before the jury," a spokesman said.

Perhaps someone should be asking why the public purse was funding this case, and not the copyright industry. This seems to be the sort of thing that civil courts are set up for. If EMI and Warners want to piss away their own money trying to shore up an outdated business model, that's their choice. At a time when public spending is facing a big squeeze, I don't see that the State should be joining in the cash-pissing.

Record companies still face price-fixing allegations

The American courts - Second Circuit Court of Appeals, to be precise - have reinstated a class action against the majors alleging price-fixing in the early days of download sales in the US.

The complainants point to how downloads were the same price across the two favoured legal services; the defendants insist that's just how markets work. The case had been tossed, but now it's back, and heading for a proper hearing.

Price-fixing? The record labels? It's not like they don't have form for it.

Kelis will kill animals with her bare hands if she has to

PETA sent a letter to Kelis, asking her not to wear fur.

Kelis responded like Dappy might:

There is no humane way to kill anything, let me start there. It’s unfortunate but it’s part of life. With that being said, I would eat pterodactyl if you found some and you told me it was meaty and delicious. And after doing a very minimal amount of research....... I found out that the founder Ingrid Newkirk is completely batty. I had a feeling but she far exceeded my expectations. I mean certifiably insane! Lol this chicks will is nuts, google it – it’s a riot! Beyond the fact that I think she's a diabetic, which means she needs insulin, which is taken from lab pigs (I know this because my sister happens to be in veterinary school), which would be completely hypocritical. It’s like don't abuse animals unless it can help me.

I feel very strongly about a lot of things such as the sweatshops that spin cotton and the blood on their hands. Btw it’s not just the look of fur. It’s warm as hell and feels glorious, ever rubbed faux fur on your body? Nothing luxurious about that. Then the letter proceeded to name artist and designers who don't wear real fur. Great! More for me! I don't judge them, don't judge me.

If I started wearing endangered animals like polar bear or orangutan then talk to me. (Which btw for the record I would not - I do believe in the preservation of endangered species) But the minks and chinchilla that quite honestly are rodents and if weren't in the form of a coat I would demand they be put to death anyway are not an issue to me.

The death of high fashion. Ugh.

I eat meat, and in fact my mouth salivates as I type the word meat! And the paint throwing that's just ridiculous! What if I was hurling Loubitons and Pierre Hardy's at every sad poorly dressed person on the street? As right as I may be it’s just fanatical and crazy. And people have the right to feel as they please. What about art? Survival of the fittest. Natural selection? No let's just let all the rodents run free and over take our cities. Oh wait they have, NY and LA in particular are infested! Why don't u save them all from scavenging on the streets and ruining my evening strolls, take them home. Make them pets! Get off my back! Pun intended!

Underpaid minorities picking your vegetables, now that's fine for you right? Please, fight for their rights. How about the poverty in the communities of brown people around the world. She had the nerve to say (and I quote) "get over it" talking of the issue of black people and slavery in this country verses cows being slaughtered. Is she kidding me? Lol yes she must be. Actually, she's lucky most black people have real issues to worry about in the U.S and don't give a crap what her delusional privileged opinions are. But she should try saying that again just for kicks n giggles on the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Blvd in Harlem n see how well people "get over it" lol.

If u want to preach do it about something worthwhile don't waste my time trying to save the dang chipmunk.

Find a worthwhile cause like the women being maimed in these Middle Eastern countries. Or female circumcision. Or women's rights here in America, we still get paid less for doing the same jobs as men. Quite honestly if you hate the world so much go live in the forest where no one else has to hear you complain about the perfectly good food chain the good Lord created. Everyone has the right to an opinion, and that's mine on that! xoxo

Kelis - perhaps unsurprisingly - is a little bit confused and all over the place - moral relativism and the question of if a pterodactyl would constitute an endangered species notwithstanding, she seems to believe that if people didn't make them into coats, the country would be overwhelmed with mink.

It's not entirely clear why Kelis thinks that wearing fur has anything much to do with the food chain (perhaps she enjoys a nice mink burger every now and then), and she does appear to be suggesting that she has a God given right to wear fur. And a vet might quibble with the suggestion that there isn't a humane way to kill things. But you've got to admire the decision to engage with PETA on their ill-thought-out, stunt-happy home turf.

I think this means that I'm allowed to knit myself a scarf from any hair Kelis might discard. But it is a bit of a moral grey area.

Dappy not so thick as he seems: 'able to use phone' - official

Earlier in the week, N-Dubz were on the Chris Moyles programme (apparently this was to balance out BBC Radio broadcasting In Our Time); during the course of which, a woman sent in a sarky text criticising Dappy:

complaining that he was "vile" and "a little boy with a silly hat".

Now, what's the best way to demonstrate that you're not vile?

How about stealing the woman's number, and sending a series of semi-literate death threats. By text. From his own phone:
"Your gonna die. U sent a very bad msg towards Ndubz on The Chris Moyels show yesterday Morning and for that reason u will never be left alone!!! u say sorry I will leave u alone u ****."

"u dum f****** ***head u can call me names over the radio but when I call u direct u chicken out u punk!nana f****** niii, Dappy."

Wendy Cope, I know for a fact, is kicking herself she never thought of that last line.

Chloe Moody, the unlucky recipient of Dappy's ire, is unhappy:
Moody told the newspaper: "It's terrifying when anybody sends you a death threat, whether it's real or not. Somebody of a fragile mind would be worrying what they were going to do. His behaviour is unprofessional. I'm considering going to the police."

It's unpleasant, certainly. But I'm not sure "unprofessional" is a word that can really be flung at Dappy - 'idiot in a hat' isn't really a profession in any meaningful sense of the word; it's not even a job, in the sense that if he wasn't doing it, you wouldn't exactly rush to put an 'idiot wanted: must have own hat' card in the window.

Newsround 2: Myleene and the knife

The non-story about Myleene Klass being "warned" by police about "defending herself" with a knife didn't stand up even the first reading. However, that's not to say there isn't a story here. Marina Hyde has done some digging, and what turns out is not a tale about the woman out the bikini advert being threatend with the law, but... well, something else entirely:

Lost in Showbiz discovers that the initial call to police was not placed by Myleene but by a man believed to be her agent or publicist, to whom she was naturally on the phone at the time. Truly, the fourth emergency service. It was one or other of these men who called the Met in London, who then passed the matter on to the Hertfordshire force who attended Myleene's address in the small hours of Friday, by which time she had also been in touch with police. As for the story's appearance in the Sun the very next day, Hertfordshire police state: "We believe the media found out about the incident following a phone call from Ms Klass's publicist to Emma Cox from the Sun."

So, Myleene was in such danger she felt the need to ready herself to stab someone's face off, but rather than calling the police, she got somebody else to ring a force in a different county entirely. You wonder when the Tory-happy story about being warned off stabbing people was generated.

Newsround 1: Liam Gallagher's on fire

Take a close look at this picture. What is it of? Yes, yes, someone doing a tourist-friendly fire routine. That much is clear.

But look closer. Do you see anything else?


That's not what the Telegraph sees, though:

A fire-eater has mastered the art of blowing out balls of flame in the shape Liam Gallagher's head.

You might have thought the Telegraph would have been kept busy what with the thaw, the looming election and the earthquake, but no: it seems their need for news is so great that no morsel of something that doesn't quite stand up will be turned away.
John Brigden, 50, a lorry driver from Alcester, Warwickshire, who photographed the spectacle, said: "I was just watching the procession and clicking away taking photographs.

And then when I looked at it later, I was a little bit spooked looking at it initially. With the long hair and things, it bears a hell of resemblance to Liam - I couldn't believe it."

Isn't Tom Jones the pop star with the bright orange, funny-shaped face?

If the Telegraph is interested, I saw an estate agent who looked a bit like Gail off Corrie on one of the property programmes earlier today. The front page should be held.

Jay Reatard investigation

BBC 6Music are reporting that, according to Memphis media, police are investigating Jay Reatard's death as a possible homicide.

House Of Commons hired out to promote commercial radio

While you can understand Absolute Radio celebrating its first year after throwing off the Virgin brand and a large portion of its listeners - "we're still here" - I'm a bit surprised they got to promote themselves in Parliament. With a gig by Biffy Clyro.

This, it seems, is a way of politicians "reaching out" to the public:

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, said it could be the first of many similar concerts, as part of his efforts to help Parliament ''reconnect'' with modern Britain.

Oh, yes. After a couple of years in which MPs have been castigated for lining their own pockets and doing very nicely for themselves, how better to reconnect with the people than by turning the building over to host corporate jollies. Perhaps they should ask RBS if they want to do a management paintball team building event in the Committee Rooms?

The Telegraph describes this as "the first gig in parliament", before then clarifying the claim:
Parliament has witnessed a few musical performances before, including appearances by Alicia Keys, the R&B star, Ralph McTell, the folk musician, and Commons rock band MP4 – made up of four MPs – has played in the terrace pavilion.

But Thursday night's Biffy Clyro show is believed to be the first full-scale gig by a mainstream rock act.

Except, as the Telegrpah's own report says, the band played a half-hour acoustic set, so it wasn't actually a full-scale gig at all. But 'band play latest in series of gigs at Commons' isn't quite as eye-catching.

What the pop papers say: A looking ahead

This week's NME runs a few letters which would suggest that most people thought an issue totally dedicated to re-running old Oasis interviews was the best thing that ever happened, rather than a low point in the magazine's recent history. There are a couple of dissenting voices, but they're batted away with a suggestion that because the Christmas issue trailed the Oasis special, and it said "collector's special" on the front, you can't really complain.

"I told you I was going to shit on your face, so what are you complaining about?"

To be fair, this week's edition - the 2010 album preview - is much closer to the sort of magazine you'd hope for from the NME. Even if the cover is rotten, there's a nice mix of chunky, interesting mini-interviews with people you might have forgotten totally existed (Kate Nash) and not too much about people you're sick of (although Liam Gallagher is still given a platform - presumably so they've got something to cut and paste into the next "collector's special".)

NME is stuttering at the moment - there's bits and pieces which hint at the possibility of a title reinventing itself as something engaging and valuable, but it feels like there's too much of the sort of stuff that's been clogging the arteries of the paper for years being allowed to remain, and too much by-numbers material. Literally by numbers, because they do love a list.

Decline is not inevitable, then, but at the moment they're trying to relight a fire with wet matches in a strong wind.

Gordon in the morning: Suede back

You could call Suede getting back together, but without Bernard Butler, a reunion. But it's a bit like restoring a classic car to the state it would have been if it had been left at the bottom of a lake for six months. Yes, it's still the same thing, but it's not what you'd really want.

There's no official confirmation that Suede are coming up again - just rumours - but that hasn't stopped Gordon running the story as fact:

BRITPOP legends SUEDE are reuniting - for one night only.

The quartet, who injected a dose of elegantly wasted glamour to the 90s indie scene, will play a headline gig in March. And the rockers, who split in 2003, can't be accused of doing it for cash - it will be for charity.

Gordon doesn't say when, exactly, the gig is happening. Or where. Or who the charity will be. In fact, you could have written this piece solely drawing on the rumours online from over the last 24 hours.

Gordon is reduced to explaining Suede to his readership. Smart writing about Suede. It's like hearing your daughter is going to be at an event where Ronnie Wood is attending. It doesn't have to end badly, but you just can't help worrying.

Tell us about Suede, Gordon:
Led by backside-slapping frontman BRETT ANDERSON, they crushed grunge's chart domination when they emerged in 1992 in a riot of smeared lipstick, greasy fringes and turbo- charged glam rock.

Their lyrics picked over the grittier side of life, influenced by industrial-sized drug use.

The drugs eventually caused the band serious problems. Singles Animal Nitrate, Trash and We Are The Pigs have stood the test of time, and founder Brett went on to have three solo albums.

Jesus. It's like Wikipedia filtered through someone who can half remember a few front pages of Select and Melody Maker but never read the stories inside. Shouldn't Gordon at least point out it was his own arse that Brett would slap?

[You might actually enjoy: the Suede weekend]

Twittergem: Lady GaGa pulls gig in real time

You can't argue that @ladygaga wasn't keeping her customers informed:

I've been crying for hours, I feel like I let my fans down 2nite. An hour before the show, I was feeling dizzy and having trouble breathing

Paramedics came to take care of me, and told me my heart-rate was irregular-- a result of exhaustion and dehydration.

can't apologize enough for how sorry I am. I could hear my fans cheering from my dressing room, I begged everyone to let me go onstage.

My stage has complicated mechanical elements,everyone was concerned I'd be in danger during the 2hr show, since I had passed out earlier.

I am so devastated. I have performed with the flu, a cold, strep throat: I would never cancel a show just based on discomfort.

I hope you can forgive me. I love my little monsters more than anything, you are everything to me. I will make-up the performance on Jan 26.

Do not operate heavy machinery while drowsy and wearing a dress made of mirrors and monkey paws.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perez Hilton and Simon Fuller come together to create something

Perez Hilton is trumpeting all over his website about big news. Sadly, this isn't that he's about the merge with Whizzer And Chips:


The Boy Band for the Next Generation!

The next generation - we can see them from here - is looking a bit confused and saying that they hadn't really asked for a boyband, thanks, while this generation is saying that perhaps, if the next generation did want a boyband, couldn't they knock one up themselves, as it's not that difficult. It's like having a contest for the cheese sandwich for your flatmate.

Anyway, Hilton pads his part extensively:
As entertainment power players with tremendous influence over today’s music marketplace, Hilton, King and Fuller are determined to form the next great Boy Band!

I know modesty isn't Hilton's strong suit, but fancy writing a piece of puff about yourself that auto-felating. Even an Apprentice contestant might think that was overdoing it a bit.
Says Perez, "I am beyond thrilled and honored to be working with Jamie King and Simon Fuller, both legends. We are looking for the best, brightest and boldest! This is a boy band unlike any other before. ALL of the members will sing. ALL of the members will dance. Finding our talented group won't be easy, but the end result is going to be soooooooo worth it. I can hear the screaming girls already!"

A boyband like none other before, on the grounds that they'll all sing and dance. We're looking forward to the launch of Hilton's range of socks unlike any socks ever before, where both socks will be worn on the feet.

By the way, "I can hear the screaming girls already" is a direct translation of the phrase "how hard can it be to separate an eight year old from her dollar bills?"

Jamie King, he's involved, too:
"Now is the moment for the creation of a full-throttle, high-octane boy band! There's a huge opportunity for the next generation of performers to create spectacle, both musically and physically, with kick-ass dance moves, amazing voices and mind-blowing concert skills," says King.

How did King decide "now is the moment"? In the past, he would have had to sacrifice Jason Orange and inspect his entrails to tell if the time was auspicious, but nowadays they can do it with computers. Simply plug in the date you'd expect your main singer to check into drug rehab, and the software works out the back trajectory to the point where you'd have to start hanging round gyms.
Simon Fuller says, “I’m delighted to be working with Jamie and Perez. Boy bands have always been at the heart of pop culture with huge potential to excite a massive audience both here in the States and the rest of the world. With Jamie and Perez at the helm we have a real focus on what we are looking for. Together we will do everything to ensure that whoever is discovered becomes one of the most successful groups in recent years.”

Boy bands have always been at the heart of pop culture. If you assume that there was no popular culture prior to New Edition. Or The Monkees, at a stretch.

Fuller's quote seems honest, if puzzling. The other two are honking away about how they're looking for people who have all these astonishing talents - dancing asses, voices, the ability to carve likenesses of Michael Jackson out of butter - but, really, Fuller admits the success or otherwise depends not on how pretty the band is, or how well it sings. They're running a competition to find some flesh to push into an already-constructed marketing plan.

The plates are warming, the table laid, the ketchup and pickled eggs are already open. There's going to be a fish supper - who really cares if it turns out to be a piece of coley or a bit of haddock that gets picked up from the chip shop? It's only going to be battered, consumed and then shat out the next day.

Bono's musical refunds cash

More U2-related news, as the ill-starred Spiderman musical which Bono and The Edge have been involved with starts to pay back ticket holders before a song has been sung or a single web slung.

Not that the towel is being thrown in, oh no no no no:

Producers said the show was "moving forward" and an opening date, for later in the year, would be announced soon.

It turns out that finding a singer willing to be bitten by a radioactive spider is proving difficult, and the producers can't really think of any other way to create a man/spider hybrid on stage.

BBC: We went U2 far

That eye-watering slew of U2 programming across the BBC back when No Line On The Horizon was released has been ruled as being frankly bloody embarrassing (I paraphrase slightly) by the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit:

The use of the mathematical symbol for identity in the graphic "U2 = BBC" gave an inappropriate impression of endorsement.

A pre-recorded interview between Zane Lowe and Bono of U2 was for the most part appropriate, but a reference to Radio 1 being "part of launching this new album" was not.

It turns out, though, that the ECU is only worried about the detail, and not the way that Bono's face loomed out of every screen and channel for what felt like three years:
Complaints about an edition of Jo Whiley (Radio 1, 27 February 2009) and a News Online report of the U2 concert on the roof of Broadcasting House were not upheld.

It's also worth pointing out that despite this blanket coverage and implied endorsement, U2 still only sold the record in disappointing quantities, so nobody came out of it well.

At the same time, the ECU has ticked off Radio 1 for providing links to ticket websites when promoting Coldplay gigs.

The complaints came from RadioCentre, the commercial radio body, who have probably ensured nothing like the U2 blitz will ever happen on the BBC again. Not quite sure if I ran a commercial radio station I'd be spending my time trying to make the BBC much more attractive, but it's quite generous of them.

Soulobit: Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass, who had been ill for some time, has died, his son has confirmed.

Pendergrass' breakthrough came as one of the Blue Notes, stood behind Harold Melvin. In 1975 he went solo. A string of R&B hits followed, including this, Love TKO:

He was the first black artist to have a run of five platinum albums, but his run of good luck was cut brutally short when, in 1982, he suffered a major car accident. Paralyzed as a result, Teddy would return to music just a year later. His comeback was crowned with a stint as part of the American leg of Live Aid, but this would be a rare live performance. It wasn't until 2001 that he would appear on stage with a full show and, while the accident didn't stop his creativity, the after-effects were enough to prevent him properly promoting his work. The result was a late career which never quite lived up to the pre-accident promise.

Pendergrass had had colon surgery eight months ago; his recovery had proved difficult. Teddy Pendergrass was 59.

Gordon in the morning: Guy Ritchie's record label gets worse

Gordon should probably just put Guy Ritchie's name on the masthead, don't you think? Today, he returns to Ritchie's vanity record label and plans for his pub band to stick a record out.

A terrible idea, but one which Ritchie has managed to find a way to make even worse:

The landlord of the Punch Bowl in London has mastered the vocals to his fave song and is lining up for a guest appearance for himself on the next album by The Punchbowl Band, his first signing.

You have to feel sorry for people who use NewsNow as their starting point for internet news. With The Sun now missing from the NewsNow index, will they know to run hide?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Punkobit: Jay Reatard

Spinner is reporting that Matador and Goner Records have both confirmed the death of Jay Reatard.

There's an announcement on Goner Records board, but that's fallen over under the weight of people trying to confirm the story.

If the story is true, it's a cruelly early death. Reatard was twenty-nine; he'd been an active musician for fifteen years.

Born Jimmy Lee Lindsey, The Oblivians were to inspire both his sound and his stage name. His first band, The Reatards, was at first a one-man deal, eventually expanding to enough members to allow a tour of Europe. There would follow a mix of side-projects and spin-offs, before Jay finally went properly solo in 2006. A deal with Matador, and fans in the music press built his reputation.

Amongst his last material, during the summer of 2009, was working on tribute to Chris Knox. Knox had been due to collaborate with Reatard, but suffered a stroke before the partnership could get off the ground.

Goner Record's statement reads:

"It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our good friend Jay Reatard. Jay died in his sleep last night. We will pass along information about funeral arrangements when they are made public."

Jedward... oh, they're still here. Isn't that enough?

Last year, Vanilla Ice teamed up with MC Hammer in what seemed like the lowest point in his career.

It seemed so. But now he's sinking even lower, as Ice teams up with Jedward to cover his own record:

"Ice couldn't wait to work with the boys after seeing their performance.

"He thought it was genius and now sees the chance to bring his record to a much younger audience.

"The boys even look like he did back in the early days."

To be fair, I've still got a box of Mince Pies that have passed their sell-by date which I still intend to enjoy later tonight, so you can understand why Jedward haven't yet been sent back to wherever it is they came from, but taking a joke which wasn't funny and coupling it with another joke that wasn't funny doesn't suddenly make a worthwhile project. Sometimes, if the bowl doesn't flush, you should think about calling the plumber instead of adding more to the mix.

[Thanks to Michael M]

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: By the book

If there's one thing that Gennaro Castaldo knows about, it's... uh, pop-up book stores at interior design shows. Apparently:

The Ideal Home Show Book Club will take place during the whole 17-day event, in Earls Court, at which some 250,000 visitors are expected. The Club is being organised by former Cassell publisher Mathew Clayton on behalf of the show's organiser's Media Ten, and run in conjunction with HMV.
HMV spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo said: "The pop-up shops we opened around the country for Christmas attracted a great deal of interest, but we have also been trailing smaller entertainment-based formats that are more suited to exhibition events, and we are very pleased to bring our entertainment offer to the Ideal Home Show."

It's not entirely clear why HMV are doing this under the HMV badge, when you'd have thought their Waterstones brand would have been a better fit. Perhaps they've got the HMV signage sitting round and don't want to lash out for Waterstones signs too?

Swans return, attempt to self-finance return

Swans have been apart for over a decade, but are just about to re-emerge, like phoenixes. Only using MySpace instead of fire, and looking for a bit of help from their fanbase:

The song “Jim” recently added to the playlist is an acoustic demo (solo at home) recording by michael gira. this, and many other new songs recorded in the same way comprise many of the new (rough versions) of songs under consideration, to be fleshed out on the coming new swans album. a cd of these acoustic versions, as well as a live (2 shows) dvd of m.gira will be for sale very soon as a hand made (by gira) package called I Am Not Insane (CD/DVD). this package – in a limited edition of 1000 - will be sold in order to raise money for the swans recordings/offset the huge costs involved.

They've not yet announced how you can give them money, but keep an eye on their MySpace.

BPI decides to try directly writing laws

Seemingly forgetting its position as little more than a trades group, the BPI has taken it upon itself to start drafting UK legislation.

Surprisingly, they've gone with something designed to tighten up planning legislation in areas near, but not part of, national parks with regard to buildings of more than three stories.

No, no, they haven't. It's an attempt to sneak DCMA style rules in through the backdoor. Just being helpful, you understand:

“Clause 17 [of the Digital Britain bill] is an essential component of the Bill since it provides a mechanism to deal with the increasing threat of illegal downloading from non-P2P sources and other future threats. In light of the ongoing debate on the current draft of Clause 17, we thought it prudent to propose possible alternative approaches, including a straw-man s.97B. However, Clause 17 remains our favoured approach to address forms of online infringement other than P2P filesharing.”

Aha. "Son, I'm delighted that you're thinking about marrying Mary. Mary is my first choice for a daughter-in-law. However, you're wavering, and so - while I really, really want you to marry Mary - I've set you up on a series of blind-dates with all of the Sugababes. Just, you know, to help you make up your mind."

The proposal from the BPI would shift responsibility for policing rights from the people who benefit from the rights to the publisher. You know, like in the way the BPI are trying to shift the costs of policing peer-to-peer material from themselves to the ISPs.

If you drive a taxi, I'd advise you never to pick up a fare from the BPI - you'll arrive at your destination only to be told that you should underwrite the cost of the journey, being as how you've arrived at the location first.

Penk flaps about Chris Evans

Steve Penk is the man bought and broke/fixed Oldham's 96.2 The Revolution, depending on if you think this sort of playlist offers variety and choice or not. (Note the 'wacky' pictures on the playlist replacing some of the artists, by the way. Hilarity in shoes.)

Now Penk is moaning to the BBC Trust about what he sees as "excessive" coverage of Chris Evans' debut on breakfasts at Radio 2:

In a statement from The Revolution he says of his decision to write to the Trust: "Under the BBC’s Charter, the Trust is required to have regard to the competitive impact of the BBC's activities on the wider market. The Trust has adopted a Statement of Policy on this.

"Last weekend’s unashamed promotion of the new Radio 2 Breakfast Show flies in the face of the BBC’s own cross-promotion codes.

"In developing its code, the BBC Trust made reference to Ofcom's Cross Promotion Code and also Chapter 10 of Ofcom's Broadcasting Code (Ofcom's Codes).

"Ofcom's Codes outline principles for ensuring that cross-promotions on television are distinct from advertising and that promotions on television, including cross-promotions, do not prejudice fair and effective competition”.

He also noted that he saw the 'placement' of Evans on various BBC shows - including Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, The One Show “and, bizarrely”, according to him, the Sunday morning political programme The Andrew Marr Show - as unacceptable.

“I was half expecting to see him on Songs of Praise.”

Hahahahahahaha. Songs Of Praise. You kidder, Penk. You should be on the radio, you really should.

Man with new programme appears on some shows doing an interview: is that really so odd, Penk? Given that every national media outlet in the country thought that the changing of the guard at Europe's most popular radio programme was worth covering as a news story, is this really something that surprises you?

Interesting that you didn't get upset about the amount of Tenant on the telly around the Christmas Doctor Who. Almost as if you don't really give a hoot about the principle, except when it might lure one or two listeners away from your own programme.

Penk's apparent lack of understanding of what he's talking about is revealed by his description of Evans appearing on Andrew Marr's programme as "bizarre" - yes, how could someone involved in light entertainment be on a programme sharing screen time with, erm, Maureen Lipman? Marr's programme has always had the greasepaint and popcorn crowd nudging alongside the politicians.

Still, Songs Of Praise with a radio DJ on it? That's a crazy idea, right? (Although, actually, if Penk had watched this week's programme, he'd have seen Richard Coles, former presenter of Radio 5's Fabulous, doing the honours. You couldn't make it up, could you, Penky?)

Courtney: Hands off, it's my Hole

Courtney Love isn't bothered that the rest of Hole are objecting to her using the band name on her new project:

"It is Hole, yes of course," she said. "How do I do this? It is just because it is, and it is because we just negotiated our thing and it'll be fine. Everyone has good lawyers."

Let's hope those aren't the same good lawyers who dealt with licensing Kurt Cobain to Activision. Or have been in any way associated with Courtney's finances over the years. Or taking care of the issues over who has custody of Frances Bean.

Darkness at 3AM: It was all a dream

It's sometimes said that there's nothing worse than a friend trying to tell you their dreams. Those who believe this are wrong, though. They clearly haven't come across the Daily Mirror telling you about Martine McCutcheon's dreams:

Martine McCutcheon has been spooked by a nightmare. The Ex-EastEnder said: "Tarantulas have taken over the world. They were up the walls, on the stairs and attacking me with their black and orange legs and claws."

How would this even end up in a newspaper? Did Martine wake up and call the 3AM team straight away? Was the Mirror desperately trying to get Martine to say something they could put in the paper and this was the best they could manage?

And then Hugh Cudlip woke up, and had all been a terrible dream...

Gordon in the morning: Kings Of Leon duller than we thought

Oh, prepare yourself for Gordon created mirth:

WHEN I heard KINGS OF LEON were struggling to get off the green, I thought they'd been at the recreational drugs again.

But the ex Tennessee caners have put back recent studio sessions because of a far more sensible addiction - golf.

Oh, yes. Golf. That's a sensible addiction. You can't over-stress how sensible golf is.

Gordon then goes on to churn out exactly what you'd expect - references to Tiger Woods, puns on swinging, "birdies", and a self-satisfied ending:
Fine wine, golf, urinating on posh fairways? The boys would have fitted in perfectly at the Bizarre Masters last summer.

Yes. That sounded dull, too, as I recall. Although given that the Bizarre golf thing was won by a mate of a indie band, perhaps their actually being famous might have made them stand out a bit.

Elsewhere, Gordon tries to find something to say about David Beckham's latest tattoo. (Yesterday, you'll recall, we met Beckham's latest tattoo, depicting a man who is permanently confused and desperately trying to make a mess look better by expanding the spread of the mess.)
DAVID BECKHAM's addiction to inkwork is getting tricky to keep track of.

So hard, in fact, that the Bizarre "tat nav" has been called into action.

Sadly, the device doesn't have sound but if it did speak, it would sound like his missus VICTORIA.

Yes, not only is there a pun, a bit of shoddy photoshop, but Gordon's even making up what the sound would be like if it had sound. I wonder what it would smell like, if it had a smell.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Napster wails that free music is terrible

It's like watching a genie trying to wedge itself back into a bottle. Thorsten Schliesche, Napster's vice president for sales and marketing in Europe, is upset.

(Hang about: has Napster got any sales in Europe? Apparently there's a and a .de site, and it's all at the very forefront of the digital hyperroadway, proudly proclaiming to be "recommended by 4Radio." Channel 4 pulled its radio experiment at the end of 2008 - why on earth would Napster be proudly proclaiming the support of a now-defunct but once modish digital adventure?)

Anyway, Schliesche doesn't like free music:

"New business models are arriving, amongst which the ‘freemium' service model has been naturally and powerfully adopted by consumers. Yet the ongoing momentum of that model does not have longevity and my greatest fear is that there are now too many 'free' messages to keep music truly valuable, as it should be, in the eyes of the consumer," he warned.

Like so many people, Schliesche's worry about people not "valuing" music doesn't really mean anything of the sort. What he means is he's worried about people not wanting to pay cash for music. Cash to him and his company.

The value of music doesn't exist solely, even primarily, in pounds and pence. That song that you slow-danced to at the school disco, or the one you lost your virginity to, or was playing when you fell in love - you value that song. In a way that doesn't require a signature or PIN code. A far, far greater threat to music come from people like Schliesche who see enjoying music as valueless unless it is part of a comodified system of exchange than people who value music, but perhaps don't put a cash amount on it.

Still, Schliesche - whose business and job is based solely on a service which used to give away music it didn't own for no money - is at least vaguely aware that he might be coming across a bit Bono:
"As a business Napster has been at the forefront of that change. In its original form, it was the first service to create a platform online that allowed people to search and find music, engaging millions of people. We don't deny that free music was part of that story," he explained.

Free music was a part of the story. In a similar way to, say, how a giant monster made up of used body parts and disappointment was part of the Frankenstein story. Or the Son of God was part of the Christmas story.

To be fair, he makes no attempt whatsoever to try and jump across this awkward gap in his thinking, and instead reaches out to people to, you know, do something:
"If users no longer believe in the need to maintain the ecosystem that is required to inspire and support new and existing artists and labels because they are getting something that they perceive to be free, somewhere along the way something extremely valuable may be lost. This discussion is one that must be addressed by all parties in the coming 12 months to ensure that the value of music is recognised and prolonged."

The trouble is, the music industry ecosystem isn't designed to support artists and music; it's designed to support the music industry ecosysten. If people never paid a penny for any song ever, there would still be songs written, tunes sung, tracks recorded and music shared. The only difference would be that there wouldn't be a structure of major labels and accountants and lawyers floating on top.

Adieu, La Roux

Somewhat oddly, La Roux has pulled their album and mostly everything else from Spotify. Except for the very few premium subscribers. Music Ally, which spotted the move, reports the tracks have also gone from We7, too.

The working-against-Spotify stance is puzzling as La Roux has helped promote the service in the past.

We7's Steve Purdham suggested to Music Ally that this might be an attempt to try and work out what impact the move will have on the market. Perhaps, in the same way that tugging wings off flies is a useful experiment to find out if flies enjoy being dicked around with.

299 proposed amendements to the Digital Economy Bill

Currently chuntering through committee the House Of Lords, the Digital Economy Bill has attracted nearly 300 amendments of varying quality. Most notably is an attempt to value infringement:

[One of Lord Lucas'] proposal would validate the belief of some record labels and movie studios that one illegally downloaded song or film amounts to one lost sale. Amendment 105 states that the process by which copyright holders would alert ISPs to alleged piracy should “value ... an infringement on the basis of the benefit that would have accrued to the owner had the copyright material been legally acquired from an ordinary internet retailer”.

Given that it's virtually impossible to prove that something you've uploaded has been downloaded at all, this kind of implies - should the ammendment stand and the bill pass - that record labels will find themselves chasing the odd 79pence here and there.

There's more, though:
—Illegal downloads of as-yet-unreleased material (ie. leaked albums or films) would be subject to a 10x valuation.
—A zero valuation must be used if the material has been illegally downloaded in a format the copyright holder has not made available legally

That's quite a radical proposal: the idea that simply by using a different format, the cost of the losses would be reduced to zero is fascinating. You could argue, though, these clauses cancel each other out - has an unreleased album (ten times valuation) actually been made available in any format? (zero times valuation).

808 4 for 2010

In the studio getting polished up all nice for a re-release right now: The 808 State albums 808:90, ex:el, Gorgeous and Don Solaris.

Actually, most of the polishing has already been done, as these were due to come out in 2008, but got lost when Pinnacle distribution fell over - quite a long wait for a comeback.

You might as well hit play. It's going to be swooshing round your brain in five minutes anyway.

Peaches Geldof wins libel case

The BBC is reporting victory for Peaches Geldof in a libel case against the Daily Star:

Peaches Geldof, daughter of Bob Geldof, has accepted substantial, undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper claim that she had worked as a prostitute.

The claims by the paper were a terrible slur on Peaches' image. Imagine implying she's ever worked.

Seriously, though, there is more to this story than just the headline - whatever you think of Peaches (or sex workers, come to that), to make that sort of claim about a person without any proof is an awful way for any newspaper, even The Star, to behave. A retraction and apology - at the very least - were required; and with more prominence than the paper managed.

They'd splashed the made-up story on page one; they tucked the correction away inside on page two.

What's really interesting, though, is that a complaint from Geldof's people to the Press Complaints Commission about the handling of the correction decided there was no problem with this behaviour. Understandably, Geldof's team didn't accept this - hence the legal action today.

This isn't, then, so much a story about a nasty paper making an ugly allegation, as a further indication that the Press Complaints Commission is broken beyond repair. When the PCC is being dismantled and its remit handed to Ofcom, Peaches Geldof will have played her part in helping to make that happen. And the papers will only have themselves to blame.

Factory offices reopend

Because there's no end to the ways to lose money in Manchester, the old Factory offices are being reopened as a nightclub.

The club is being named FAC251 - or renamed - and has Factory-related backers including Ben Kelly and Peter Hook. Hopefully one tradition of the old company - that of spunking cash up the wall - won't be getting carried forward into the new one.

Stop tittering, The Ting Tings

Like someone finding a street called 'Willy Road' and sending a photo to Your Crazy Signs in the Sunday People, The Ting Tings are naming their album after an awning outside a massage parlour:

Katie White and Jules De Martino's next effort, which they have been recording in Berlin, is set for release later this year – with the pair telling NME.COM that the title was inspired by a massage parlour near their studio.

The parlour was called Massage Kunst, and so the album is going to be called Kunst.
"Just round the corner to our studio there's a massage parlour, it's called Massage Kunst," De Martino explained. "It's Massage Art, basically. We took a picture of that and sent it to our label, saying this is the title of the album. They went berserk."

The label's cow probably came from the name sounding like a bad word for a good thing, but perhaps they were also a bit worried about how it would sound to the German market, calling your album 'art'. Doesn't really do much to blow away that sense of pretension that some reckon they can smell on the Ting Tings' breath, does it?

There's also the problem that Laibach have been using Kunst for years, and as part of a much wider, more challenging philosophical approach to art. Calling a Ting Tings album by the same name is a little like Joe McElderry calling a record Kid A.

Gordon in the morning: Did we say he was sick? We meant reliable

Back when the Georgi Dochev told the News Of The World he'd been at the house where Stephen Gately died, Gordon's team was quick to provide a platform for Boyzone to rail against him:

Boyzone slam 'sick' Gately sex stories

The source said: "Everyone is just sick that this man is profiting from Stephen's death."

Yes - thank God the Boyzone boys can rely on The Sun to see through this Georgi's sick, twisted, sickness and won't entertain his tacky, tawdry revelations.

What has your team got today, Gordon?
THE gay model present at the death of Stephen Gately has admitted having a two-year relationship with the Boyzone singer.

Yes, this morning Lynsey Haywood files a story which goes further. And, erm, repeats those "sick" claims that he was there when Gately's body was found.

Perhaps Boyzone should try telling The News Of The World how sick this all is?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Man swaps job for a similar job

I don't think a set of calipers have yet been made which open wide enough to measure the self-regard oozing out of Simon Cowell's words of comfort for America as he quits American Factor to launch X Idol:

"We did talk about me staying on both shows but when we looked at the practicalities of that, it was impossible," Cowell told the press. "In my opinion, it's like having a good player and a good football team. The two have to be OK together. I believe it's not my show, but it's still very close to me. We made sure when we did this, that I would be protected. I'm confident it will continue to be the #1 show. Everyone is committed to keeping it that way

They did toy with the idea of having a cardboard cut-out version of Cowell on American Idol, barking out prescripted, pre-recorded insults but that just sounded like a punchline.

Flea to become the Kwik Save of the bass market

There's any number of rubbishy products with famous names and large price tickets attached, so it's surprising to see a celeb product which is trying the reverse. Flea is doing his own range of basses, but he's producing high-quality, low-price instruments:

"I found that a lot of the kids I was teaching were coming in with inexpensive basses, which were pieces of s---," Flea explained. "The necks were warped and were falling apart. They were like toys. I wanted to make something that kids could afford but were quality, play well and last a long time."

It's like Britney Spears decided to try and make a perfume which smelled nice instead of starting with the mark-up and trying to work backwards.

France can't wait to start slapping down there three strikes

The CNIL - the French equivalent of the Data Commissioner's Office - have yet to approve the French 'three strikes' legislation, but that hasn't bothered newly-minted intellectual property agency Hadopi from setting up things; indeed, Hadopi is getting to ready to send out its first letters sometime between "April and July".

Not that there's any way that they're jumping the gun by organising themselves before getting CNIL approval. Not at all.

Kano bids to be the new Grange Hill Kids

It must have seemed a brilliant idea when it was first floated - "why don't we get one of these rappy chaps to do a pop music video to promote diplomas?" - but it's impossible to hear about Kano doing a spot for the Education Department without the need for five minutes work to uncurl your toes.

Mind you, I suspect the Telegraph might have taken a bit of licence here:

Ed Balls, the Education Secretary, has hired the British rapper Kano to promote the diploma, the Government's alternative to GCSEs and A-levels.

"Hello? Is that Mr. Kano? It's Ed here. Ed Balls. No... no this is not a prank phone-call, why would you think that? Yes, Balls. No, no, not head, it's Ed. Ed Balls... hello? Hello?"

Gordon in the morning: That's the week ruined already

Once again, Smart turns his column into a fawning-field for treating Guy Ritchie as if he was a genius. Ritchie has decided movies alone are not enough to provide his talents with stimulation and is now coming after us:

SHOOTING blockbuster films and running a pub isn't enough for GUY RITCHIE.

Now he's throwing all his efforts - lock, stock and barrel - into launching his own record label.

Running a record label? Isn't that going to be quite time consuming, what with the need to travel all over the nation, hanging out in small venues, listening to new acts and...
And he is keeping his first signing close to home - his pub's resident outfit, The Punchbowl Band.

Oh. So it's yet another vanity project, then?

But some pub band? Sure, they might be great in context, but who'd really want to start a collection of their music, eh, Gordon?
I've heard them in the bar and at the afterparty for Guy's latest movie, Sherlock Holmes, and I'd buy their CD.

But maybe I'm being too cynical. It sounds like they've managed to impress someone enough to land quite a major slot on a Hollywood Movie soundtrack. Can you guess which?
Guy has got his debut signing off to a flying start.

He had them perform on the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack with Oscar-winning composer HANS ZIMMER.

Wow. That must have been a difficult job for Ritchie, persuading the producer of that movie to take on such an unknown band. Must have called in a few favours.

Hang about, though, Gordon - have you done enough to please Guy? Is the article fawning enough?
I'll be raising a dram to their debut album, Journey, out on March 1.

That's better.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Decade Null: 2009 - Client

Rounding it all off, then, from last year's album Command, here's Client, live, doing Don't Run Away:

[Concluding Decade Null 2009]

Decade Null: 2009 - Pet Shop Boys

They're still quite good, you know. Yes. Pet Shop Boys live in Moscow, doing The Way It Used To Be:

[Part of Decade Null 2009]

Yoko Ono suggests she might want to sell copies of her memoirs

You don't say, Ms Ono:

Yoko Ono has hinted that she may write about life with The Beatles and her late husband John Lennon in her memoirs.

Well, yes. Assuming she wants to be given a cheque by a publisher in return for writing them, you rather think she would.

Crow protects wild horses

As Obama and Salazar try to cut the number of wild horses in the West, they're starting to pick a battle with Sheryl Crow. She wants the horses left alone:

Crow said the romantic symbols of the American West are being sacrificed, in part, because of ranchers' drive for land. She disputed the government's position that booming mustang numbers are threatening the horses with starvation, and harming arid rangelands and native wildlife.

"I think there has to be a better way than taking them away from their native lands," she said by phone from New York. "I feel so passionate about the issue because wild horses are one of the last remaining ties to the land as it was and our history in America."

It's possible that Susan Boyle's recent Rolling Stones cover was part of Crow's campaign, showing how distressing it is when somebody, however well-meaning, takes Wild Horses to a new place.

Decade Null: 2009 - The XX

Before they split, of course (sort of), The XX's Crystalised:

[Part of Decade Null 2009]

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Ross loss upsets boss

The music industry - yes, the very music industry - is crying like a kiddie with its fingers trapped in a car door as the disappearance of the Jonathan Ross show sinks in. Head mourner, of course, is HMV's Panther Of Fact, Gennaro Castaldo:

Among those who are sorry to see the demise of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross are many in the music industry. Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, said: “The loss of this show will come as a blow. It was one of the few shows that still showcases music and new releases to huge family audiences.

“Jonathan was particularly great at championing the kind of new artists and leftfield talent that don’t get much of a look in on TV.”

Because it's not like there's going to be a similar show, in a similar timeslot, having the same sort of 'book Bono, but if Bono's busy book someone who has had a couple of NME covers' approach to filling those all-important three minutes at about ten past eleven on a Friday when everyone is already switching off.

Look out! Myleene Klass has got a weapon

Curious story about Myleene Klass waving a knife at a couple of people she saw in her garden.

The Telegraph has an interview with her spokesperson which makes it sound like she was being chastised for her actions:

Jonathan Shalit, Miss Klass's agent, said that had been "shaken and utterly terrified" by the incident and was stepping up security at the house she shares with her fiancé, Graham Quinn, who was away on business at the time.

He said: "Myleene was aghast when she was told that the law did not allow her to defend herself in her own home. All she did was scream loudly and wave the knife to try and frighten them off.

"She is not looking to be a vigilante, and has the utmost respect for the law, but when the police explained to her that even if you're at home alone and you have an intruder, you are not allowed to protect yourself, she was bemused.

"Her questions going forward are: what are my rights, and what are you actually allowed to do to defend yourself in your own house?"

The report, however, misses out one crucial fact which The Guardian does include:
A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said no reference was made in the Klass incident report about a weapon.

So it sounds like the police who attended merely pointed out that you probably shouldn't threaten to stab people who stand outside your garden shed, which for some reason Klass has blown up into an incident.

Decade Null: 2009 - La Roux

How can you not love someone who does jokes during interviews where Hadouken is the punchline? Trapped in a small glass box by Jo Whiley, it's La Roux doing one of the fine tracks off the self-titled debut:

[Part of Decade Null 2009]

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Bands as dates

Qcjeph presents bands-as-dates:

• High On Fire is the really hot girl you have sex with occasionally if you're both single and it's always rad and there's never any drama

• Gojira is the amazing guy/girl you dated during your semester abroad but none of your friends believes any of your stories about

• Metallica is Lars Ulrich jerking off onto an original Van Gogh forever

Decade Null: 2009 - Little Boots

Yes, yes, it's nearly over. One last year to get through.

I say 'get through', but look at this: Little Boots, off of Hands, out on Jools Holland.

[Part of Decade Null 2009]

This week just gone

The most popular Decade Null videos so far have been:

1. Kate Bush - King Of The Mountain
2. Emmylou Harris - Boy From Tupelo
3. Rachel Stevens - I Said Never Again
4. Carl Barat - Can't Stand Me Now
5. Pink - Don't Let Me Get Me
6. PJ Harvey - The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore
7. Ladytron - Seventeen
8. Explosions In The Sky - With Tired Eyes...
9. Princess Superstar - Bad Babysitter
10. Tanya Donnelly - The Night You Saved My Life

New year, new books:

Philip Ball - The Music Instinct

Patti Smith - Just Kids

Will Birch - Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography

Gary Mulholland - Popcorn