Saturday, June 30, 2012

Napster lives on. In Europe. For now.

Although Rhapsody had announced it was culling the Napster brand, it's decided to keep it alive for the European operation:

Thorsten Schliesche, the general manager of Napster in Europe, said that they decided to retain the Napster brand in Europe rather than use Rhapsody as it still has cache with customers.
I think DigitalSpy meant "cachet" rather than "cache", but it doesn't matter overmuch as it's not really true, anyway.

Sure, people might still remember the name, but Napster peaked in 2001. According to the World Bank, UK internet penetration was just 33% at that time, so it's hard to imagine that there's much of a nostalgic link to work with there.

And there are other choices now. Many, many more choices:
In a dig at one of the firm's key rivals, he added: "Spotify is like Napster used to be, a long list of music. They just give you the music and say, there you go."
Hang about, wasn't Napster's heritage supposed to be a big selling point? But now people are supposed to be associating with a less-than-excellent experience?

Napster has tools to suggest music to you:
Napster differentiates itself by using its user community to help people navigate the massive music library.

Every user creates their own personal profile, giving information on their background, music tastes and so on.

They can create their own playlists based on whatever theme they choose, and then share them with others.
Er... yes, that sounds totally different from Spotify. Has Schliesche ever been on Spotify? Or are things so tight at Napster that they can't afford a sub for him?

Still: the Napster brand, bravely limping on again in the mistaken belief that there's value in the brand. It's like someone pumping cash into making a Star Trek: Enterprise movie.

Soundgarden: They're unique

Chris Cornell has been chit-chatting with The Sun's Tim Nixon, to stress what a unique beast Soundgarden are:

“We stand alone outside of genres. We’re not like anybody else. We can’t be imitated.”
'Not like anyone else' is over-egging it a bit; certainly the comparisons with Nirvana were odious, but frankly, if you ordered Soundgarden and got Alice In Chains or Temple Of The Dog you'd probably not complain.

And "can't be imitated", Chris? That might come as a surprise to Jesus Christ Pose, who make a living imitating Soundgarden in New York. Or A New Damage, who imitate Soundgarden in Israel.

Then there's Audiogarden, who sound a lot like Soundgarden down in California.

And then there's this lot, Bleed Together:

Actually, they sound better than Soundgarden proper.

Gordon in the morning: Hurling insults

Like a 70s stand-up who's burned through his material and is now desperate to find something, anything, to talk about, Noel Gallagher has turned his attention to hurling:

“Gaelic football is a great game and quite exciting – but hurling? F*** that. Any sport where you have to wear a helmet is just wrong.”
He continued "am I right? And what about people who leave comments on websites reviewing toasters? What's that all about?"

Gordon, though, sniffs outrage:
Plenty of the sport’s fans hit out at the Oasis lord online over his comments – despite Noel always insisting he is proud of his Irish roots.
I'm not sure why, if something you love had been ridiculed, you'd go 'well, the guy from Manchester has ancestors who lived in the country in which my sport is popular, so I can't really argue against that, can I?'

The more pressing thing, though, is that Gordon is apparently now using "the Oasis lord" regularly when he just means Noel.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Seb Coe and chums wants musicians to work for free

Apparently there's to be a sport contest, The Olympics, in London next month. I think some of the newspapers might have mentioned it.

Anyway, it's not just about sponsors logos and running. The organisers, LOCOG, thought it would be nice to have some bands playing music to lift the audience's spirits during the dull bits (which would presumably be the sporting bits.)

Trouble is, they don't really want to pay. Music Week reports:

Horace Trubridge, MU Assistant General Secretary said: “LOCOG is saying this is ok because the bands are going to be amateur musicians, but that is simply not true. If it was school bands then it might be a different thing but unsigned bands are not amateurs - in many cases they expect, and get, paid for performing live and LOCOG is exploiting them under the guise of an unsigned band competition.

“LOCOG has repeatedly told us that all professional musicians will be paid, and this is yet another example of them breaking their word. If they want musicians to entertain thousands of people then they should pay for it. It is difficult enough to earn a decent living as a professional musician these days – where does this idea come from that musicians should be happy to work for free? Who else would be?

“This competition aside, the MU has been gathering countless recent examples of LOCOG directly approaching professional musicians to play for free. We are asking the Government and the Mayor of London to condemn LOCOG’s actions and we are also calling on musicians who have been asked to work for free at the Olympics to refuse to play.”
Ah, but we're all supposed to work for free for the Olympics, aren't we? Despite there being supposedly half a billion to spare, according to fundamentally-flawed Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt, there's a grim determination for the event to not pay for staff if it can possibly get away with it.

As far as I can tell, though, McDonalds haven't been invited by LOCOG to give their burgers away for free. Funny that.

Film Aid shares some Joy

Have you heard of Film Aid? Nope, neither had the Joy Formidable before they got contacted by a couple of filmmakers asking if it was okay that they'd borrowed a JoyF track for this:

The band were delighted, and will now tell anyone who'll listen about how great FilmAid is, and how great their work is. You can find out more, and donate - especially donate - on the FilmAid website.

Kasabian aren't lads, you know

Serge Pizzorno opens his heart to Metro, the poor misunderstood lamb:

What are peoples’ misconceptions of you?
That we’re boozy knob head lad-rock dicks – but when we release albums such as West Ryder, people are surprised. It’s always made us laugh. Those first few articles people write about you stay with your forever. It’s annoying but it’s good to surprise people. Some journalists just rehash all that stuff even if it’s not the truth.
Yeah, come on, journalists - stop giving the impression of Kasabian as being leery, beery lads. It's ages in the past that they were like that - why, it's nearly two whole months since they went on Absolute Radio at breakfast time and honked about buying porn magazines and wanking.

Another delight of the piece is the discovery that Kasabian still nurse a grudge against the now-defunct Cooper Temple Cause:
Playing with the Cooper Temple Clause in Wrexham when we first started. The gig was fine but they were miserable b******s. We were a young band and they’d had singles out – they treated us like s***. I remember thinking: ‘I’m not turning out like those f***ers.’ Musicians should try to help each other out. The ones who are too cool for that soon disappear but there are some who slip through the net and annoy you forever.
It doesn't seem to have even flitted through Serge's mind that, quite possibly, the CTC didn't warm to Kasabian turning up, Razzles under their arms, and that might have been why they didn't embrace them. And, frankly, who could blame them?

The last Word

Some grim news this morning for people who like being entertained by the written word done well: The Word is closing:

We regret to announce that the August issue of The Word, which will be published in the second week of July, will be the last.

In the nine years since the magazine launched there have been dramatic changes in the media and the music business. These changes have made it more difficult for a small independent magazine to survive and provide its staff with a living. This hasn't been made any easier by the economic climate of the wider world.
I've been lucky enough to have some things published in The Word, and some of you (lots of you) read this blog when posts turn up on their website through the magic of RSS, but it's as a reader that I'll miss the magazine.

I still remember devouring the first edition on a journey from Liverpool to Barrow - this turns out to be nine years ago - and looking forward, monthly, to each next instalment.

Many magazines vanish without leaving a ripple. Some close, and it's a pity. The Word going is a crying shame.

Thanks, everyone. You'll be missed.

Gordon in the morning: Cole's terror at, er, zero feet

Gordon leads today with a massive splash about Cheryl Cole's flight horror horror shock shock horror:

Cheryl Cole’s storm terror on private jet
The "storm terror"? Er... there was some lightning quite near her plane. Before it took off.
The bad weather was right over the grounded private jet and lightning struck the runway just a few metres from the plane.
Coming tomorrow: Sugababes experience nightmare as captain warns of turbulence and switches the seatbelt sign on.
[Cheryl Cole] said: “We were stuck in the plane and just sitting on the runway and a bright massive flash of light hit outside the aircraft. I said to my friend, ‘That’s lightning’ — then it just didn’t stop.

“I was so scared that I thought, ‘This is it. I’ve got an album to promote and I’ve got so much yet to do!’”
Yes, imagine all the lip-syncing and polite replies to inane questions the world would have missed out on.

Cheryl Cole might have taken comfort in the knowledge that lightning strikes on planes are common, but actual accidents as a result incredibly rare - a commercial plane won't get through a year without being hit by lightning. Instead, she reached deep inside herself:
“But I remembered I’d climbed Kilimanjaro, so took a bit of strength from that.”
Yes. If a lightning strike did manage to knock out the electrical system of my plane, sending it hurtling to the ground, having climbed a mountain is even better than adopting the brace position.

Stone Roses want to snaffle photographers' rights

Given the bazillions of pounds being poured over The Stone Roses on the occasion of their reunion, how disappointing they've attempted to chisel a bit more by making photographers sign rotten contracts:

Photographers are planning to boycott the Stone Roses reunion concerts in Manchester this weekend in a dispute over the use of their images.

They claim a contract issued by the band is unfair as it expects them to surrender all rights to their pictures.

The National Union of Journalists is supporting the boycott.
The band's PR man, Murray Chalmers, is quick to deny there's anything wrong with demanding photographers hand over their rights:
The Stone Roses press agent, Murray Chalmers, said it is normal for contracts to be signed and, as far as they are concerned, "there is no boycott".

"We have a complete list, a full quota of photographers who are covering the concerts," he added.
Ah yes, if someone has signed a contract then it must, by its very nature, be fair. Although if you took that line, The Stone Roses would still be releasing records on Silvertone for tuppence.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Rolling Stones unveil 'new' logo

It's come to this, has it? We're meant to be excited about a band issuing a tour logo?

According to Rolling Stone:
In honor of the occasion, the band asked artist Shepard Fairey to update their iconic tongue logo with a sleek new design.
If that was the brief, they should hold their money back, as all he appears to have done is paste the old logo in the middle of some horrible typography. It's the opposite of slick, surely?

Jessie J: Domino theory

The lawsuit in which Loomis And The Lust's claim that their Bright Red Chords sounds like Jessie J's Domino is same-old, same-old, until you get to this bit of the MTV report:

In April, Loomis uploaded a video of the band's song with Jessie's vocals laid on it, but the clip has since been removed on "copyright grounds." However, a music video for "Bright Red Chords" remains online, allowing fans to determine if Loomis has a case against the British songstress.
I know there could be a fair use argument for a stretch of the vocals being used, but isn't it undermining your own case to a 'being left open to a counteraction' extent to steal the vocals of somebody you're accusing of stealing your melody? It's a bit like breaking in to someone's house to see if you can find the things they pinched when they broke into yours, isn't it?

The brightest minds of our generation

Benga has looked around his generation, and found it is good:

Asked who the artists of this generation are, he told NME: "Us obviously, Skrillex and Mumford & Sons."
Really? God, I fear for the Young People.

Gordon in the morning: Fool One Direction fans, shame on you

A girl in Texas made herself look a bit like one of One Direction's girlfriends to sneak past security. Gordon reveals how far she went:

She copied [Eleanor Calder]’s outfit and hairdo and looked so convincing that other fans – Directioners as they call themselves – thought it really was Eleanor.
Mmm. Convincing enough to fool a One Direction fan, eh? That's not exactly placing the bar especially high, is it?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rihanna nearly burns alive (except, of course, she doesn't)

London's burning, London's burning, fetch the engines, fetch the engines:

Rihanna has been evacuated from a London hotel fire.

The 'We Found Love' singer and 300 guests were rescued from the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall Place in the early hours of the morning (27.06.12) after a blaze broke out in a lift shaft.
"Rescued", you say, ContactMusic?

As so often happens, this turns out to be 'minor incident in a place where celeb was staying; fire alarm goes off; people stand around in the street for a bit' rather than a rescue:
London Fire Brigade have confirmed that no one was injured, and Clare Durnford, the hotel's public relations manager insisted the incident was not serious, and evacuation was just a safety precaution.

She said: ''At approximately 6.30am, one of the service elevator motors at Corinthia Hotel London burnt out. There was a slight discharge of smoke and because of our robust fire management policy, the alarms were activated and a full evacuation of the building was carried out.

''As a matter of procedure, the fire brigade were called to carry out full safety checks throughout the building. All guests were safely accounted for and were allowed back into the hotel soon after 7am.''
Not only was there no rescue, then; there was no fire, either.

The Wanted's Suicide Solution

Apparently, The Wanted are catching heat for their Chasing The Sun song. Singing about staying up all night partying? That's a bad example for the young people.

I don't think anyone is actually saying this, it's more like a desperate hope from management that somebody would.

Still, we're encouraged to approach the lyrics with an open mind:

Jay said: ''I think this song, it can mean many things. To some people, it is partying all night and chasing the sun the next morning. That's what the first video is about - the girls, the teeth are there, the vampires.

''So we're all there partying away. And that's one aspect of the song. Another aspect of the song is chasing your dreams, the unattainable acorn in the distance.''
"The unattainable acorn in the distance." The what now?

Of course, the song isn't about that; it's about partying until you fall over.

Or... is it?
I'm better
So much better now
I see the light, touch the light,
We're together now
When you read the lyrics, the image is less of people partying through the night and more... well...
Until forever comes
You'll find us chasing the sun
They said this day wouldn't come
We refused to run
... it reads like the last will and testament of someone backed into a corner choosing to kill themselves rather than capitulate.
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You'll find us chasing the sun
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You'll find us chasing the sun
Obviously, not that bit.
When the daylight's fading
We're gonna play in the dark
Till it's golden again
And now it feels so amazing
Can't see it coming
And we'll never grow old again
You'll find us chasing the sun
If I didn't know better - and, really, I don't - I'd assume that the Wanted's songwriters have tricked the band into recording a suicide anthem.

Maybe the unattainable acorn in the distance is the afterlife. Who knew?

Gordon in the morning: White list

Rather an odd non-story about the Rolling Stones from Gordon this morning:

Rolling Stones open to Jack White collaboration

KEITH Richards wants Jack White to work his production magic for The Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary.
What's this based on? Apparently Keith saying
He said: “The door is wide open for Jack.”
This is Keith Richards. Are we sure he isn't just refusing to rule out drug use?

What is the point of this story? It's not announcing that White is going to produce or work with the Stones; despite Gordon's gloss there's not even much in that quote to suggest that Richards "wants" White to work with them. Just that it's possible.

But the real point of the story?

Er... to run a large picture of Georgia Jagger modelling one of the badly-designed Madonna/Lourdes outfits.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bookmarks: Autotune

Over on the Oxford University Press blog, Steve Savage launches a defence of Autotune:

As a recording professional, I see Auto-Tune primarily is a tool that allows for the occasional pitch fixing of a small part of a vocal performance. Before Auto-Tune I had numerous debates with singers about a particular phrase that I felt was especially emotional and effective but had one slightly sharp or flat element. I’d say “But the performance is great! No one is going to notice that tiny pitch issue.” Often the singer “just can’t live with that line” so we’d record it again. (We’ve been fixing pitch in vocal performances by re-recording for a long time.) However, when we’d re-record the line, invariably it wouldn’t be quite as emotional or expressive, but it would be more in tune. The singer would be satisfied and I’d be disappointed. Now, thanks to Auto-Tune, I can pitch fix the little problem and save that great performance.

Hundred Reasons split; Cable will attend

Hundred Reasons are calling it a day, but going out with something of a hurrah:

The farewell of Hundred Reasons; the return of Hell Is For Heroes. But surely the most exciting thing is Cable.




Gordon in the morning: Footballing metaphors

According to this morning's Bizarre, Chris Martin feels that Coldplay are the Manchester United of pop:

“I was talking to my dad about Manchester United — the most popular football team in the world — and when they show up at West Ham they get booed.

“I was thinking, ‘Well, it’s the same for us’.”
Surely it's not, though? Manchester United get booed by the crowd at the West Ham because they're playing in front of a crowd that, for a large part, actively support a different team. If Coldplay turned up to somehow try and beat, say, Kasabian in a competition, you'd expect the Kasabian supporters too boo the other side.

I don't really follow football, but even I wouldn't expect opposition supporters to cheer Manchester United just because they're more popular than the team that they follow.

The Manchester United comparison is apt, though: they, too, have a massive following which comprises mainly of people with no emotional connection but who, thinking they should support someone, have simply picked the winning team.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sugababes hard at work in the studio

Heidi Range has told DigitalSpy that the Sugababes are writing music:

"We're all writing in the studio anyway," she said. "It's kind of ongoing. But there's no plans to bring anything out this year."
In other words, they don't expect to have the songs delivered to them for them to add the word "gurgle" to the chorus this side of Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Golden Age Sugababes, consisting of the characters who originally played the band, say they'll have some music to listen to in about ten weeks or so.

Guardian sell up radio stations; rivals livid

The Guardian Media Group has flogged off its radio arm to Global Radio, prompting much unhappiness amongst other radio groups:

UTV Media is also "seeking urgent clarification" as to how Global Radio can claim to be holding GMG Radio as a separate business during the regulatory scrutiny period, while it has brought in two senior executives to run its new acquisition following the departure of chief executive Stuart Taylor.
A spokesman for Bauer Media said the deal will "permanently lessen" choice for radio advertisers.

"Bauer Media believes the merger of Global and GMG Radio will be fully investigated by the competition authorities as this combination will increase the dominant market position that Global already has in local and national markets and permanently lessen choice for radio advertisers," he said. "We have no further comment to make at this time."
It's not so much that UTV Radio or Bauer are particularly exercised by plurality of ownership or actual choice:
UTV Media and Bauer Radio are understood to have submitted unsuccessful bids to buy GMG Radio
So it's more foot-stomping at the reduction of choice not resulting in the increase of their market share, then.

Gordon in the morning: Flushed

Oh dear, what can the matter be?/
Jessie J's locked in the lavatory/
She'd popped in to touch up her finery/
And notwithstanding Gordon's headline wasn't actually stuck sitting on the toilet, poor thing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Madonna: Making Howard Hughes sound careless

Although it has all the hallmarks of a story based on half-understood rumour and fact inflation, and as such is almost certainly untrue, you can see why people might want to believe that Madonna is having her dressing room wiped clean of DNA:

The Winnipeg Free Press reports that, with the Queen Of Pop set to arrive in Portugal's Coimbra City tomorrow evening (June 24), [concert promoter Alvaro] Ramos confided: "We have to take extreme care, like I have never seen for any other artist. We cannot even look at the dressing room, after it is ready, or even open the door."

He added: "We can only enter after her sterilisation team has left the room. There will not be any of Madonna's DNA, any hair, or anything. They will clean up everything. In the end it is all to protect her and make her feel comfortable. I do understand it, but it is taken to extremes."

A source close to the singer, meanwhile, added: "She is a perfectionist, and expects the best. But then, at her age and with her status, why shouldn't she?"
None of these quotes really make any sense at all, do they? If we imagine that Madonna really is somehow having a room "sterilized", in what wat would it follow that an older woman who has had number one records would be having skinflakes scrubbed out of the room? Presumably, there's some sort of scale, whereby Cheryl Cole would insist on making sure the toilet seat had a bit of a wipe round; Adele could expect the carpets to be steam-cleaned and Shirley Bassey's demands would include scrubbing of all door handles.

And Ramos seems to simultaneously understand it, and not. Because if it was an understandable desire, why would you mention it to the papers? Nobody would ring up the Winnipeg Free Press to say that Kasabian have called for lagers and a bag of chips?

Still, Madonna: if you're really worried about people getting hold of your DNA, be careful using the toilets - there could be someone lurking round the ubend with a net, you know.

Weller rained off

Nothing can stop The Weller.

Except heavy rain at Jodrell Bank, which has meant his Cheshire gig has been axed:

In a statement, event director Jon Drape said: "Due to a month's rainfall in 24 hours across the North West the site is now unfit to accommodate the show. Despite the best efforts of our site crew and subcontractors overnight the main event arena and car parks we are unable to deliver the concert safely."
In other news, God, was spotted wandering around Cheshire muttering "if there's no role for Mick, let's hope Weller can float." Witnesses claim God was wearing a Merton Parkas t-shirt at the time.

This week just gone

Up until the middle of last week, I've been on holiday. Here's the most read-stuff while I was away:

1. Tatu ponder what it is that makes people go 'are they gay'?
2. Kate Nash turns around a track in a day
3. Kanye West reckons he do that architecture thing
4. R Kelly having sex forced onto jury
5. AC/DC won't be on iTunes
6. The Sun promotes the Tulisa sex tape
7. Billy Corgan blames the internet for everything
8. The last Mark & Lard show in full
9. DLT to meet Aung San Suu Kyi
10. Usher apparently has more women than he knows what to do with

These were the interesting things on sale the last time the right hand column was updated:

Japandroids - Celebration Rock

Download Celebration Rock

Dexy's - One Day I'm Going To Soar

Download One Day...

Shawn Colvin - All Fall Down

Download All Fall Down

The Walkmen - Heaven

Download Heaven

Patti Smith - Banga

Download Banga

Propaganda - Wishful Thinking

Download Wishful Thinking