Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eurovision 2013: Liveblog


So his name was Reg, then. Fancy that.

Status Quo are currently describing their "caper" movie on the National Lottery Draw. It's Eurovision night - and, inevitably, we're liveblogging.


Status Quo are "playing us out live with their new single" which appears to be called Ebola Bowl of Quo. Can that be right?


"Expect flashing images" warns continuity. That might be the best offer we get all night.

Ah! It seems that there's going to be a caterpillar theme for the evening. But... hey, what if it turns into a beautiful butterfly? WHAT THEN?


Is that the bridge that all the murders happen on it? That might make things go with a bit more of a swing. (I tend to assume that all Scandinavian countries are nothing but blood baths. Blame BBC Four.)

Oh, a full choir. It's like a mid-1990s Tory party conference.


Is that Clara from Doctor Who? She really has been blue-screened in everywhere, hasn't she?

I hope they make all the contestants do the opposite walk at the end of the evening when they're done. Might be a little less chirpy by then.

Ooh! Frank from Shameless. That's a surprise.


Our host, Petra Mede, this year is a comedian. That's a bit of a claim that'll come back to haunt us in the long hours to come.

Did she just have a go at "doubting queens"?

She tells us this years contest is bigger than ever. Er, despite all those countries which elected not to take part, presumably.

We're being run through the voting rules for the night. For some reason, people in the UK can't vote by text. Why is that? Is it the threat of a text meltdown.

Tonys Hatch and Blackburn are on the panels judging the songs. That's the level we're aiming for.

Song one!
France: Amandine Bourgeois - L'enfer Et Moi

That's quite a dress. That's quite the smokey eyes.

While she's been distracted having her existential crisis, three shady blokes have snuck up behind her. They might be backing singers. They might be stalkers.

Apparently this is a bookies' favourite. Possibly a great song, but not one that people will be whistling. Might be forgotten by the time voting comes round.


Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis - Something

The little film before the song is someone heading off home to see their grandparents before playing an acoustic guitar.

"I have to tell you something. You've been on my mind" starts the song.

This sounds less like a song, more like a conversation you really don't want to have to have with an ex.

Two acts, two distressed leather outfits. Ooh, and a surprising regeneration sequence.

I quite like the little tapping heart gesture there. It's not quite a dance, but at least it's like he's remembered to do a performance.

Why is he dragging up this old relationship? "Because of my shoes, I'm wearing today" he explains. Aah. I see.

Moldova: Aliona Moon - O Mie

Introduced by someone riding a small pony. Only on the film, not actually on the stage although...

Ye gods... what the hell is that hair? What's that outfit? It's like La Roux has exploded...

There's lightning and fire. Lots of a drama. The song doesn't quite rise to it, but the 'my dress is on fire' thing looked kinda cool.

Finland: Krista Siegfrids - Marry Me

Graham says Turkey apparently won't show the event because of this song. I'm expecting at least double-fisting in the words, then.

So: a genuine attempt by Krista to get engaged. Protip, Krista: turning up in a kinda slutty wedding dress might not quite put your beloved into the relaxed position you'd want to be in for a proposal.

Although the backing singers are in horrible, horrible dresses, which would at least make them accurate bridesmaids.

"Marry me, a real Queen Bee." Yeah, that's going to tempt anyone, isn't it.

Oh, it's a faux lesbian kiss. Like the MTV awards. Every year.

Spain: ESDM - Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End)

Bagpipes. Watch out, Spain. You've seen what happens to Farage when he tries to pinch Scottish votes. You're from further South, and they value their bagpipes more.

John Bishop, oddly, playing guitar here.

Wisely, they dropped the bagpipes quite quickly.

I'm rating this 'not quite as good as the French entry'.

Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa - Love Kills

Mighty, Mighty Belgium. Except co-written by a Brit, so that's a Eurovision kiss of death.

Roberto comes across like a kid in the suit his mum bought him in the hope he'd get a nice job at a building society after his O Levels.

Those backing dancers are doing the most dismissive dance routine I've ever seen. Sometimes hiding behind him out of shame; more often wafting their hands at him like they're passing bad wind and hoping to rush him off the stage.

He looks a lot like that guy who was in Teenage Health Freak and the Yellow Pages advert. He might be him, actually, as he's not done much elsewhere for a while.

Estonia: Birgit - Et Uus Saaks Alguse

Rather dull intro film of people walking along backstage. That suggests they've run out of ideas and we're in for a long night.

Ah, this is the Clara. And starting out in black and white, because, you know, life's about death and deep thoughts, right?

This song sounds it's desperately hoping nobody will notice it's "It could have been love, but it's over now..."

Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya - Solayoh

Alyona might be doing a cheap Ruslana knock-off, but if you can't do that in Eurovision, who can? Plus, she climbed out of a glitterball.

This is what we want.

Except we don't want to have to hold next year's contest in Belarus, do we? Because that's going to be awkward.

Fact: Her dress is made out of the stuff they used to hang in the doorways of bookies so you couldn't see who was in having a bet.

Those flames aren't meant to be there, you know. That's light bouncing off the glitterball causing combustion.

Just nipped over to let a cat out, and it sounded like Graham Norton was promising Husker Du later on.

Malta: Gianluca - Tomorrow

Given it's a song contest, putting the lyrics at the heart of the performance by flashing them on the screen is a good idea. But, equally, given it's a song contest, you might have wanted to write a song.

Still, nice to see Paul Whitehouse is still able to come up with new characters.

Quick look at Twitter, where George Galloway is in the middle of grimly retweeting any tweet that mentions him.

Russia: Dina Garipova - What If

Dina Garipova is going to set one of XKCD's scientific enquiry columns to music, is she? I hope its the one with the massive weapons.

Oh, no. It's "Could have been love, but it's over now" again. Sung by one of the younger cast members of Coronation Street.

What colour is that dress? Peach? Puce? Polonium?

Last year, the Russians at least did live baking on stage. They've gone backwards.

Have to say: I like the little lamps bobbing up and down in the sky. That's what you get when you're able to call in favours from IKEA.

Germany: Cascada - Glorious

I think Graham Norton just said that Peter Mannion is involved in this one as a DJ. Bloody Tory modernisation programme.

Apparently stage dressing for this involves moving a wobbly shelving unit from the garage onto the stage and, er, that's it. At least they took the lawnmower out first.

She's now picking her way down the stairs, for all the world like a woman who was expecting a bunch of dancers to carry her down instead.

Armenia: Dorians - Lonely Planet

This is the Tony Iommi one. It's not his finest moment.

I'll bet the guy who drew the marker-pen beard and tache on the singer while he was asleep on the tour bus this morning is unpopular.

"Dave, for fuck's sake, I'm doing Eurovision tonight. This isn't going to come off, is it? Jesus, Dave, you're such a dick. It's not funny, Dave."

Some knockabout comedy here. The rest of Europe is watching commercials. I suggest we stare at our carpets until it's over.

It's safe to look again.

The Netherlands: Anouk - Birds

Anouk is in the intro video doing some boxing stuff. Punch, punch, punch.

Unfortunately, there's not actually any punch to the song. It's like something from an indie funeral.

Just to be clear: "something from an indie funeral" isn't acclaim.

Hang on, this is Dawn's Lament from the Buffy musical, only without the kidnapping goblins to cut it short.

Yeah, Netherlands aren't going to be bothering the scoreboard operators.

Romania: Cezar - It's My Life

Cezar is shown getting dressed and plinking away on a piano in the warm-up video. But then he comes on stage...

Watch out, everyone; Ming The Merciless is here, and he's got naked minions. Who have snuck in under the dress from Moldova's singer earlier.

If this is his life, you have to worry what his dreams are like.

United Kingdom: Bonnie Tyler - Believe In Me

Oh, no; they didn't have a shot of her gold and silver discs in the intro video have they? That's a little like yelling "do you know who I am", isn't it?

This sounds pretty dreadful, actually. I mean, it's a weak song to begin with, but she's delivering it with all the confidence of a newly promoted mid-manager trying to sack an older colleague.

Bonnie's trying to breathe some life into the performance, but it's too late. The golden hour has passed.

Sweden: Robin Stjernberg - You

While the BBC breathes a sigh of relief that it won't have to spend the Dr Who budget hosting next years' event, the home team come on.

This one isn't bad - it sounds like it could be plausibly advertising mobile phones by mid summer.

Hungary: ByeAlex - Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)

How, exactly, do you do a remix in a song contest? And what does a Zoohacker do? Splice together the zebras and pandas?

Alex thinks deep thoughts. He writes his lyrics in a Moleskine notebook. He's kissing boys and girls these days, because he doesn't want to close down his options, yeah?

The guitarist, meanwhile, has a hairstyle that got escaped from a lost episode of Imperial phase Neighbours.

Oh, there's a song in there somewhere. It's hiding pretty well, though.

Denmark: Emmelie de Forest - Only Teardrops

Emmelie forgot to bring a chair. That's the sort of situation the Apprentice types were warning us about this week.

She seems a bit bemused by the presence of a pipe and drum act on stage during her big moment - and, to be frank, I think we're all wondering what they're doing there. It's like the boss wanted a full-on Riverdance but the budget didn't quite stretch to it.

Music for horses to run across plains to.

Iceland: Eythor Ingi - Ég Á Líf

I often wonder why Iceland don't do better in Eurovision. But they seem to have got Mitch Benn doing their song for them this year, so they might be in with a chance.

Hang about, I think I just worked out why Iceland don't do better. They're trying a song in Icelandic this year, which means they could be singing about just about anything; and Eyhtor's face is giving nothing away. His beard, perhaps, is dropping hints about what he had for lunch.

"Egg a leaf, egg a leaf". Anyone?

Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov - Hold Me

We're firmly into the Pointless Answers portion of the evening now, then.

Another young man with the sort of grin that you force if you discover you've been cast as Deirdre Barlow's toy boy.

The song starts with him balanced on a perspex box, for all the world like an expensive watch in a shopping mall jewelry store.

Jesus, there's a man in the box. He's getting Rob Brydon's routine all wrong.

There's a human carpet approaching now. What's going on? Is one of them a cyberman?

Oh, it's grab a grand. Presumably the regular episode of the Azerbaijan's Noel's House Party was happy to yield its slot to Eurovision, but only if they could keep some of their usual features for the evening.

Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis - Alcohol Is Free

Oh, Greece. Don't stand up in front of Europe boasting about free alcohol when Merkel's still giving you the skunk eye over the bailout. It's like Stella supping bubbly in the Bistro when her cheques are bouncing all over Weatherfield.

Nice to see a role for Hank Kingsley's Macedonian cousin on balalaika, there.

Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich - Gravity

As if we needed another song to focus on stuff dragging us down.

Hmm... starts out like it could be a Bond theme. And that bloke carrying her on stage could be Jaws, I guess.

This is really unpleasant. It's plinky-plonky crossed with sweeping torch song. Like having Meat Loaf spat out by a ZX Spectrum.

The Love Theme From Jet Set Willy.

Italy: Marco Mengoni - L'Essenziale

Apparently this has been number one in Italy for eight weeks. Mind you, that's in a country where Berlusconi was Prime Minister for years, so that might not tell us much about quality.

Marco seems to have been expecting to be presenting the National Lottery Draws tonight.

Really? Eight weeks at number one? You'd have to wonder what the Vienna-style-stuck-at-number-two better songs are, and who the acts cursing Marco's name are.

"Much better than he was at rehearsal" says Graham Norton, which makes you wonder how there could have been a lower-powered version of that performance. Maybe he did it sitting down?

Norway: Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love

Apparently rave has finally reached Norway, then.

Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani - Waterfall

This pair are apparently on the way back from their wedding, and have dropped in to do a song. The wedding doesn't seem to have gone well.

Oh... hold on, there's been a reconciliation. They've made up. It's a happy ending. Let them get off to the reception and we shall detain them no longer.

Ireland: Ryan Dolan - Only Love Survives

We're nearly there, everyone. Be strong.

"Only love survives" is probably a fitting song for the end of Eurovision, although to be honest after this bunch of songs I'd be surprised if anything much beyond venom is going to make it through to Sunday.

Ryan is trying to sing his song, but someone's double-booked him with the graeco-roman wrestling.

Those are the nastiest, cheapest leather trousers I've seen this side of Norris Green market. It's not calf leather, is it? What is it? Roadkill badger?

This is the very working definition of "bringing up the rear" in so many senses.

"That could win" says Graham Norton, although he doesn't actually say what it is he thinks it could win.

Jean Paul Gaultier's there, is he? If we win, next year it'll be that Hillary woman from the Telegraph and George "George by Asda" Davis.

They're telling us how we can vote, although mostly focusing on the ways we can't vote, so Graham's shouting over the top about how we can actually vote.

In London, someone's shaking Tony Blackburn to ask him for his views.

"Okay, Tony... tell us your favourite country."

"Can you think of any country, Tony?"

"No, Tony. 'Blue' is a colour. Try again."

"Okay, just point at the map."

"Jesus, that's the carpet, Tony. Point at the map. The coloured thing with all the countries. Could someone ring Malmo and tell them we might need to give our votes a few minutes late, please?"

The traditional 'can you remember what last year's winner sounded like' slot, with Noreen being wheeled out to remind us why we're in Sweden.

And, hey, how many times is it that we've heard this song since this time last year, eh? Thousands I bet.

Noreen has apparently spent the last twelve months following her dream of becoming the first singing human/bird hybrid.

Is that the entire Swedish army dancing in the background?

She can fly. All that time having heron wings spliced onto her back paid off.

Is the catwalk actually shaped like a clef? That's quite clever.

"Remember, you can't vote for the United Kingdom" Graham reminds us, disappointing precisely nobody. Except maybe Bonnie Tyler.

Over on Twitter, Loreen reaction is in:

Voting is over. We are now in the hands of God, and the Eastern European power bloc.

I presume it's only UK viewers getting a little film of Bonnie Tyler ruining her voice day-by-day over the last week, is it? Or did the BBC insist that unless we get a chance to say "look, this is why we weren't very good" they wouldn't sign any cheques?

This is Sweden is showing it can laugh at itself, although nobody else will.

I love the idea of Moose/Woman hybrids, though.

Hahahahahah, Swedish men are either drunk or insane. Haaahaaahaa.

(The international press corps make a mental note to check their doors are deadlocked tonight.)

Seriously, though, can you imagine the faked outrage if the BBC did something like this while the UK were hosting? "The so-called state broadcaster held our dearest traditions up to mockery in front of 100 million people."

"Yeah, Mum? I've got a part in Eurovision. No, it's not singing, but I'm dancing... What? The costume? Erm... it's... a national outfit. What? No, not quite... um, I'm going to be a meatball. But... it's happening at last."

Kim Wilde's called it for Denmark.

Did she just pronounce Celine Dion "Seeing Donk"?

This year's green room comedy interview is called Eric Saade. Saade by name... "I love hashtags" as his idea of a joke by nature.

Sweden now paying tribute to both their and Eurovision's greatest gift to the world, Abba. It's a reaction to a gift on a par with taking it back to the shop to see if you can get a refund, and leaving it on the counter when they say no.

We're into voting. At last.

San Marino, in a natty bowtie.

12 to Greece.

At the end, Britain is on a firm zero. I suspect it might stay that way.

Sweden's votes are coming to us from the future. One to Bonnie (ha! I eat my previous sentence); 12 to Norway.

Albania haven't bothered to dress up tonight, then. This is their first time back in for years. Maybe they forgot the need to hire a suit. 12 to Italy.

Netherlands votes are given by a Gary Lineker puppet. 12 to Belguim; the camera crew awkwardly pointing at the Danes by mistake.

Austria briskly give 12 to Azerbaijan.

Scott Mills getting his one night out a year to do the UK votes. We've given 8 to Greece, but we'd always vote for Alcohol being free. 12 to Denmark.

Israel now, the traditional point at which half of Europe yells "they're not even IN Europe". Their 12 goes to Azerbaijan.

UK not quite solidly on the bottom, but one point after seven juries doesn't actually bode well.

Serbia 12 to Denmark.

The bloke from Toploader is giving the Ukraine votes to Belarus.

Hungary 12 to Azerbaijan.

Backstage, Bonnie Tyler is starting to look a bit like she wants to break her agent's fingers.

Romania 12 to Moldova.

Moldova and Romania not only give each other much love, their presenters appeared to be wearing the same dress.

Their 12 goes to Ukraine.

Azerbaijan's presenter wants to do a bit of a business before giving the scores. They're trying to move her on.

Bonnie Tyler now asking the Russians if they know where she can score some of that polonium.

Azerbaijan's 12 to Ukraine.

Norway explains that Malta is a very warm place as they give their scores. Yeah, pal, we don't need a weather forecast.

12 to Sweden.

Armenia is the first presenter to try singing tonight. I think he's been told he's auditioning for Glee. 12 to Ukraine.

Backstage, Bonnie Tyler is wondering if she can sneak out the country using Shakin Stevens' passport.

Italy have a nice dress from Monsoon, give 12 to Denmark. Denmark have pretty much got this sewn up, making the next 23 results a bit of a waste of everyone's time.

Finland try some light bisexual joshing. Doesn't go down well. 12 to Norway.

UK now last-but-one, just above Ireland.

Spain: Look, she's used tape. Can we move on? 12 to Italy.

Belarus give their 12 to Ukraine.

Latvia are clutching flowers to their breast. 12 to Russia.

Bonnie Tyler sidling up to the guy with the drawn-on beard and moustache, asking him if his mate with the Sharpie is still around.

Halfway through. Much of Europe has gone to the toiletadverts.

They've got about thirteen minutes to do 19 votes, give the prize and do a run through of the Danish song.

Whoops - threw to the next judge before the top three package.

Graham Norton desperately trying to pretend that Denmark haven't won yet.

Bulgaria have spent their remaining national reserves on a necklace for their presenter, which presumably would deliver an electric shock if she tried to sing.

12 to Azerbaijan.

Zoe Ball's Belgian cousin is live from Brussels. 12 to Netherlands.

Russia give 12 to Azerbaijan.

Bonnie Tyler has called ahead to her hotel: "no, not refilling my minibar. Just put the actual bar into my room."

Malta 12 to Azerbaijan. It's very warm there, you know.

The bloke from Estonia loves himself, doesn't he? It's going to be a struggle for him not to award himself the 12 points. He gives them to Russia, but intends to pop next door and see if he can charm them back later.

It's raining in Germany. Everyone's a fucking weatherman.

Oh! She screwed up her big moment. She's wrecked. First genuine emotion of the night.

Iceland's 12 goes to Denmark.

Bonnie Tyler is going from dressing room to dressing room, shoving the complimentary fruit bowls into her haversack.

France do their scoring from in front of a picture of the Eiffel Tower. Really.

12 to Denmark.

Greece, where alcohol is free; 12 to Azerbaijan

Ireland have sent a Victorian policeman to deliver 12 points to Denmark.

Denmark give 12 to Norway.

Montenegro have got the TV on in the background, and really bad blue screen technology. Because if she wasn't in front of that, er, landmark, we'd never know she was in Montenegro.

Slovenia are trying to make us think he's got GoogleGlasses. 12 to Denmark.

Bonnie Tyler is now shoving green-room apples into the exhaust pipes of the complementary hire cars parked out the back.

Georgia are perky for someone who's been waiting for half the evening to get on TV. 12 to Azerbaijan.

The news is now running late.

FYR Macedonia give 12 to Denmark.

Bonnie Tyler is caught on CCTV throwing the free sugar packets around in a branch of Burger King.

They're calling it for Denmark; they seem to not be bothered that there's more countries to give their votes. Rather makes Cyprus votes even less interesting than normal. The Cypriot looks pissed at having his big moment ruined.

Croatia are next to grind grimly though their pointless votes. Their 12 goes to who the hell cares.

And Switzerland might as well have remained neutral.

Lithuania finish the voting by giving 12 points to Azerbaijan.

"Next year we get to visit beautiful Denmark, just 20 minutes away." That's handy, assuming you're starting from Sweden.

Bonnie Tyler is on the shore, yelling "come back, you sodding ferry, or I swear I'll swim this bloody sea..."

So: what have we learned?

There are no lessons.

But I reckon we should make Fraser Nelson choose our entry next year. Just to see how he does. Actually, we should make him sing the entry next year.

Thanks for joining me. Now, let's instantly forget the winning song so we can be puzzled when we hear it during the judging next year.

Eurovision 2013: You'll have been wondering what The Spectator thought

It must be so hard for the Spectator: do you attack Eurovision because it's Europe, or do you attack Eurovision because it's the BBC?

They've gone with a go at the BBC, presumably because the swivel-eyed loons are doing a good enough job of destroying the EU elsewhere at the moment. Fraser Nelson - yes, the editor, no less - contributes his thoughts as to why the UK doesn't win:

Rather than defend the BBC, Mr Bishop confirmed our suspicions. The corporation is useless at entertainment, he said, and no longer has anyone in its hierarchy who understands it. This is a self-reinforcing problem, warned Mr Stockselius, because the BBC decides how Eurovision is presented in Britain. If it sends dreadful acts to compete, and then holds the entire contest up to ridicule, then our successful singers will not be seen dead on a Eurovision stage. Katrina [out the Waves] wanted to know the name of whoever chooses the BBC’s Eurovision entries, ‘so we can slap him’.
It's a plausible point, except it relies on Nelson's view of the BBC rather than fact, history and evidence, to stack it up.

How can we hope to win if people don't take the contest seriously?

Sorry, did you see Lordi? Who won it? Or any number of other more-successful-than-us entries which seize the opportunity for a jolly romp? Or Ireland, constantly sending Jedward, presumably in the hope that they won't come back.

It's a song contest, and people watch it because it's a big old stage of stupid. Fraser Nelson thinks that it'd benefit from a hushed Dimbleby voiceover in place of Graham Norton.

How can we hope to win if our song is chosen by a faceless BBC bureaucrat?

Good point. Let's go back to having a popular vote. Hang on, though, that method ended up with us sending Scooch to Helsinki. We came last-but-one.

In the end, Nelson suggests that maybe ITV or Sky gets the contest instead. (Not Channel 4, you'll note, because this is really yet another Spectator attack on public services disguised as 'giving a shit about a song contest'.)

Preusmably Nelson hasn't seen how terrible the Brits have become since they moved to ITV. Or maybe he really doesn't care.

[Tonight: Eurovision live bloggage. I'm not sure if Huw Edwards will also be doing a more reverential one for the Spectator, but I hope so.]

Rihanna takes on Philip Green

There's a confusing court case gathering in the wings as Rihanna sues TopShop over a tshirt with her face on that the Tory sacking advisor Philip Green (sorry, I mean "Philip Green's wife", don't I?) was flogging without her permission.

The oddity is that in a rather detailed unattributed source briefing to the New York Post, Rihanna's team more-or-less admitted that she doesn't have much of case:

The source said, “Rihanna’s management asked Topshop a number of times to stop selling her image and were told, ‘We do what we want.’ They buy the pictures from a photographer, but they do not pay the artist licensing fees. Unfortunately, UK law does not protect the artist.

What is most offensive for Rihanna is that they basically told her, ‘Go to hell. We don’t care; we are going to continue selling you.’ Topshop is now in the United States. They set up in Manhattan and Nordstrom, but they know better than to do this in the US because they would get in trouble,” our source continued.
I'm not a lawyer, but I think admitting there's no law which protects artists from having their faces splashed on tshirts might weaken your case somewhat.

Why is she pushing ahead?
“Even though the UK laws don’t protect the artist, she has decided to move forward and sue Topshop. She has spent almost $1 million in litigation at this point. She says it’s the principle, and wants to make a statement about it. They are taking advantage of artists. It is just exploitation. What they are doing is wrong.”
Yeah, when you go into TopShop and see the tshirts made by people earning pennies, it's really the exploitation of multimillionaire Rihanna that you should be focusing on.

Still, burning through a million dollars to make a point isn't a bad way of spending the money you have and don't know what to do with. It's not like you're creating bigger problems for yourself, is it?

Sorry... what were you saying, New York Post?
We’re told the case is now in discovery. Rihanna has handed over details of her fashion deals with Armani and River Island, a competitor to Topshop in the UK.
So in order to pursue a case you admit is likely to not go anywhere, you've handed over top-secret details of a deal with a competitor to a company who you believe are exploitative?

Who on earth is advising you?

What does a stalled career look like?

Providing the song which people will ignore as they tramp through discarded popcorn at the end of a Smurf movie sequel. That's what a stalled career looks like.

Brown Bird needs some help

Dave Lamb (out of Brown Bird, not Come Dine With Me) is dangerously anaemic. Which would be bad, but for a jobbing band in a country without adequate healthcare for its citizenry, is a bit of a nightmare.

Brown Bird are asking for your help:

On Friday night, May 10th, Dave was admitted to a hospital in Houston, TX with complaints of fatigue and shortness of breath. After an initial blood test, we were told he was severely anemic, with dangerously low red blood cell levels. Dave had been fighting and been treated for flu-like symptoms for the past six weeks, but until now we were unaware of the seriousness of his condition. Since admittance into the hospital, he has had several blood transfusions, which he is responding to well, and has undergone several tests to determine what is causing his illness. As of yet we still do not have a diagnosis, but are maintaining optimism.

We will be able to fly home on Saturday to pursue treatment in RI, and will be canceling a large percentage of shows until Dave is well enough to get back on the road. For us, canceling shows means not only disappointing our fans and missing out on what we enjoy most, but also going without income. Since the 10th we’ve already accrued over $29,000 in medical expenses and losses, and will be faced with ongoing expenses once we’re home. We love being full-time musicians, but it can be a financially challenging lifestyle, and without health insurance or day jobs to fall back on, our situation is dire.

We humbly ask you to help us out in any way you can. We set up this fundraiser to help us pay for the medical expenses we've already accrued, and for the projected cost of treatments. There are unknowns ahead of us and the possibility for needing more is very real, but we promise to keep you updated and are eternally grateful to the support our friends, family and fans already give us. There's nothing we want more than to be back on the road, and with your help, we could be back out there very soon.
Here's Brown Bird on WBUR a year or so back:

If you don't want to donate directly, you could consider buying the album Fits Of Reason.

Gordon in the morning: Rolling Stones told they're old

At last. Someone's suggesting that maybe The Rolling Stones glory days are behind them by quite a distance:

“I think there’s a point when you’ve got to say, ‘Enough’s enough’. I just think they’re old, they’re old f*rts. I just think they ain’t rock ’n’ roll any more."
It's a good point - although arguably they might very well be rock and roll, and it's just rock that has got old and slow and tired.

Tell us, Gordon, who is this young buck calling for the old guard to roll over and let the kids through?
POP loudmouth PETE WATERMAN has blasted THE ROLLING STONES as “old f*rts” who are too ancient to tour.
Oh, yes. Young Pete Waterman.

Gordon Smart, of course, is not going to entertain the idea that once creaky old figureheads who've lost their vim should not be allowed to hang around making vast sums of money for subpar performances. Not with his boss.

So he sets about taking apart Waterman's grasp of facts:
The former Pop Idol judge, who managed RICK ASTLEY, ranted: “I’m 66 and I wouldn’t go and play. They’re 76. Them at Glastonbury – not for me."
Gordon presses his big red button.
Pete needs to get his facts straight. None of the Stones are near 76.
Charlie Watts will be 72 by the time Glastonbury starts, which is fairly near 76. But, to be fair, Ronnie Wood is actually younger than Pete Waterman.

What else you got, Pete?
“You wouldn’t see ANDY WILLIAMS at Glastonbury, would ya?”
Gordon, I see you have an objection.
And you’re unlikely to see Andy at Glasto – he died last year.
That's a good point, but unfortunately it's the wrong point. Andy Williams was supposed to play Glastonbury in 2010 - when he was 82, and thus older than any of the current Rolling Stones by a good decade - but (presumably due to his failing health) never made it.

And also: seeing Andy Williams play would have been more exciting and vital than the Stones' tax-balanced schtick, surely?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rajars: Grim figures

The new bunch of Rajar figures out today are showing there's been a drop in the Radio One breakfast show audience.

That, presumably, the network was expecting with the departure of Chris Moyles. The size of the drop, though, might come as something of a shock - a million have gone elsewhere.

In effect, the audience has reverted back to where it was before Moyles took over, as MediaGuardian explains:

The 28-year-old presenter, who took over from Moyles last September, shipped 900,000 listeners compared to the final three months of 2012 and was nearly a million down on Moyles' last quarterly audience of 6.7 million.

It is the lowest audience for the Radio 1 breakfast show since it was presented by Sara Cox in 2003. Cox had 5.5 million listeners in her last three months in the job before she was replaced by Moyles, who fashioned himself as the "saviour of Radio 1".
Radio One are making noises about how their focus is on the demographic, not the absolute numbers. Which is true - they're under orders to make their audience younger, and presumably this helps - but it still can't feel great to lose so many, so quickly.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gordon in the morning: Going off at half-cock

Bloody hell, this pre-pubic punnage is harder work than going up the Shard by stairs:

In other news, how is The Saturdays' attempts to break America through the medium of reality TV series going?

THE Saturdays’ TV show following the girls trying to crack America has been canned — leaving their hopes of US stardom in tatters.

The singers failed to secure a second series of Chasing The Saturdays during talks with execs at channel E! in LA.

Insiders said bosses pulled the plug after viewing figures slumped to 100,000.
That rather understates how far the series shed viewers - it opened with nearly a million and dropped a third by week two; by the time the series limped to an end it was being watched by fewer people in the US than were sticking with it in the UK. Not that there were many of them, either.

Not only did the fail to break America; they couldn't even beat Disney's kid's puppet show Crash And Bernstein in the ratings.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sony Radio Awards 2013: The winners in full

I think this is the first time Wickes has ever won a Sony Award, isn't it - for a sponsorship thingy with Absolute Radio.

And great to see Cerys Matthews getting recognition for her radio work.

Here's all the winners:

Breakfast Show of the Year (10 million plus) – Today Programme (BBC News for BBC Radio 4)

Breakfast Show of the Year (under 10 million) – Sam & Amy (Gem 106)

Best Music Programme – The Dermot O'Leary Show (Ora Et Labora for BBC Radio 2)

Best Entertainment Programme – The Danny Baker Show (Campbell Davison Media for BBC Radio 5 Live)

Best Speech Programme – Witness (BBC News for BBC World Service)

Best Sports Programme – 5 Live Olympics with Peter Allen and Colin Murray (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Best News & Current Affairs Programme – BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat (BBC News for BBC Radio 1)

Best Coverage of a Live Event – London 2012: The Olympic and Paralympic Games (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Best Community Programming – Ciaran's Cause (Real Radio North West)

Music Radio Personality of the Year – Christian O'Connell (Absolute Radio)

Music Radio Broadcaster of the Year – Cerys on 6 (BBC 6 Music)

Speech Radio Broadcaster of the Year – Eddie Mair (BBC Radio 4)

Radio Journalism of the Year – John Humphrys (BBC News for BBC Radio 4)

Best Use of Branded Content – The Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show with Wickes (Absolute Radio)

Best Promotional/Advertising Campaign – The Gothic Imagination (BBC Radio 4 & 4 Extra Presentation for BBC Radio 4)

Best Competition – Coca-Cola Fan Reporter (TalkSport)

Best Station Imaging – BBC Radio 2

Best Music Feature or Documentary – The Story of Ed Sheeran (BBC Radio 1)

Best News Feature or Documentary – The Bombardment of Homs (BBC Radio Current Affairs for BBC World Service)

Best Feature or Documentary – Bruising Silence (Just Radio for BBC Radio 1)

Best Comedy – Isy Suttie: Pearl and Dave (BBC Radio Comedy for BBC Radio 4)

Best Drama – The Resistance of Mrs Brown (BBC Radio Drama London for BBC Radio 4)

Best Use of Multi-platform – Radio 1's Review Show (Somethin' Else for BBC Radio 1)

Station of the Year (under 300,000) – KL.FM 96.7

Station of the Year (300,000 to 1 million) – BBC Radio Humberside

Station of the Year (1 million plus) – Metro Radio

UK Station of the Year – BBC Radio 5 live

UK Radio Brand of the Year – Classic FM

The Special Award – Steve Lamacq

The Gold Award – Richard Park

The Sony Golden Headphones Award – Dan & Phil (Radio 1)

Gordon in the morning: Robbie Williams is not happy

1990s pop star Robbie Williams - check your grandma's Wikipedia edits if you don't recognise the name - has finally joined Status Quo and Cliff Richard in the day room to moan about the young people at Radio One:

He branded the Breakfast Show host a “b******” for not playing his tracks – because the singer’s too old.

During his set at London’s Grosvenor House, Robbie said: “I did the Brits and started singing, ‘Hey-ho, here we go’ to a bunch of industry people and they were all just like, ‘F*** off, you’re fat and you’re old. And Radio 1 don’t play you no more – you’re fat and you’re old’.”
He then looked at Nick and said: “Isn’t that right Nick, you b******?”
It would seem his beef would be more with his peers rather than Radio One itself, but... oh, hang on, there's more:
After the singer performed Candy, and filmed himself on a punter’s phone, he returned to ribbing Grimmy, saying: “That’s Candy. How four-year-old do you want it, Radio 1?”
Yes, nothing makes your argument like pointing out you're an old man singing a nursery rhyme.
Leaning on his microphone stand eyeballing the DJ, he then popped a piece of chewing gum in his mouth and said: “Those aren’t drugs by the way. Nah, Radio 1’s not something that keeps me up at night, not at all.'
That doesn't make any sense.

He even tried a Yewtree joke:
Rob said: “I came here and looked around and thought, ‘I’m the only person I recognise here tonight’. It’s like looking at the cast of Operation Yewtree 2014. Ooh – too soon, too soon?”
Why would being too old to recognise anyone at a Radio Awards mean that everyone there would be arrested for sexually abusing children next year? It's not "too soon", it's just meaningless. You could do the Yewtree joke without the lead in; or you could use the lead-in of "I don't recognise anyone here" to do a "I guess that's the risk you take when your radio event clashes with the Yewtree staff party" or "presumably the old guard like to get an early night in case Yewtree wakes them up at four in the morning".

Robbie Williams is 83.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gordon in the morning: How does one become an American star?

As you'll know, JLS have split into a million pieces. And now America is calling.

Gordon reports that Aston is getting ready:

FORMER JLS singer prepares to launch his new career in the United States by...
Learning all the State capitals? Converting pounds into dollars? Investigating taking citizenship?

No, silly. That isn't how you prepare to launch a career in America.
FORMER JLS singer prepares to launch his new career in the United States by eating a super-sized candyfloss
Yes, that's right. Perhaps Homeland Security have introduced a candy-floss eating element to getting a green card?

Or maybe his management are just expecting Merrygold's American career to peak at taking part in eating contests?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nielsen will count plugging your iPhone in as an iTunes visit

Back in March, writing about the IFPI's response to the EU study finding that unlicenced filesharing might lead to a small rise in sales, I asked if it could possibly be true that Nielsen counted plugging in an iPhone to recharge as a visit to iTunes.

The IFPI were polite, but fundamentally unhelpful when I asked them about what they were basing this claim on; happily, Nielsen were a bit more forthcoming and confirmed that iTunes data does include plugging in the phone:

After some internal research, I can confirm that IFPI's description of the NetView methodology is correct. How Nielsen looks at iTunes: anytime the app is active in focus, which can include any iTunes activity from listening to music to purchasing movies to synchronizing devices etc, which would include purchasing music but not limited to this activity.

I don't think this is quite the game over for the EU study that the IFPI thinks it is, although it weakens the strength of the research. The study had expressly ignored Amazon data because it was impossible to tell 'purchasing music' from the other activities one could do on the site; it might have been wise to exclude iTunes for the same reason.

However, the survey did find similar results for other services - it wasn't relying solely on iTunes data - so while it's not quite so solid as it appeared at first, it's still valuable if approached with caution.

This week just gone

Nerdy chart: Browsers used by No Rock visitors, this month:

1. Firefox
2. Chrome
3. Safari
4. Internet Explorer
5. Opera
6. In-app Safari
7. Blackberry
8. Amazon Silk
9. Playstation 3
10. Seamonkey

These were the interesting releases:

Savages - Silence Yourself

Download Silence Yourself

Little Boots - Nocturnes

Download Nocturnes

Public Service Broadcasting - Inform Educate Entertain

Download Inform Educate Entertain

Noah And The Whale - Heart Of Nowhere

Download Heart Of Nowhere

Alison Moyet - The Minutes

Download The Minutes

Thea Gilmore - Regardless

Download Regardless