Saturday, March 08, 2014

Crimean separatists get their own pop star support

You'll recall a couple of weeks back Eurovision winner Ruslana got a role in the new Ukraine government.

That doesn't mean that the entire world of Eastern European pop is supporting the smaller nation. Oleg Gazmanov, a Russian pop star, has appeared at a Moscow rally supporting the campaign to attach Crimea to Russia.

This is Oleg:

Looks more like one of those doctors who appear with their shirts off in airplane in-flight magazines: "Dr Smith is sixty but still takes his shirt off in magazines".

Oleg's official biography says that he likes his music to "unite people of different nationalities", although it turns out he's just as okay with that being done at gun point, too.

This is the song that Oleg performed at the rally, with what the uploader insists is an English translation of the lyric...

Gentleman Offices
Under the taut nerve chord of faith
I sing this song to those who give up careers
Life is not regretting his chest substituting for Russia her!

Those who survived in Afghanistn, his reputation did not make a muck of thsoe who did not make a career of Soldiers' blood.

I sing the offices who took pity mothers, returning them back to the living sons!

Officers, offices, you heart is under the gun!
For Russia and freedom to the end!

Officers, the Russians, let freedom shine,
forcing in unison sound of the heart!

Gentlemen, Offices, both to save your faith?

Dug graves on your souls wheezing!
What are we brothers have done - could not save them, and now they are forever in my eyes we look!

Once again the guys go, dissolving into the sunset
Russia called them both happened more than once

And once you leave, may, directly at the sky, and from above forgive us!

So where are you going? May, directly at the sky and from above forgive us!

Officers, officers, your heart is under the gun!
For Russia and freedom to the end!

Officers, the Russians, let freedom shine,
forcing in unison sound of the heart!

Officers, officers, your heart is under the gun!
For Russia and freedom to the end!

Officers, the Russians, let freedom shine,
forcing in unison sound of the heart!
I'm sure if you lobbed Paul Hardcastle's 19 into a machine translation it'd seem just as odd, but I really do love the way Oleg makes it clear that he's only endorsing the guns under the hearts of Officers (Russian), just in case there were any Officers (Polish), say, who were drawing strength from this.

Nice to see, by the way, that Russian popular TV not above forcing veterans of war into studios to provide a bit of backdrop for a musty old song.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Tina Barrett: Oh no, she isn't

Are Easter pantomimes even a thing? Apparently in Blackpool, where former S Club 7er Tina is about to play the Wicked Witch in the Wizard Of Oz.

Is The Wizard Of Oz a pantomime, come to that?

Anyway, the Blackpool Gazette sees this as quite a coup:
Barrett is a well known figure to millions, after becoming one of the biggest names in pop music during the late 90s.
A well known figure to millions, and yet...
Pop star prepares to turn all wicked
... not so well known that the Gazette is going to take the risk of using her name in the headline.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Factsmackdown: Is Radio 3 more expensive than BBC Three?

With BBC Three the latest service from the corporation to be led to the knackers' yard, there's a little campaign growing to close Radio 3 instead, on the basis that it has a smaller audience and is pretty expensive, too.

Is that fair?

Well, BBC Three costs £121.7million a year; BBC Radio 3, £54.3million. So if you're looking for a cost-saving measure, the TV station potentially saves more.

And if you take into account that Radio 3 has to support orchestras and the Proms out of its budget, while BBC Three is spending a chunk buying not-as-good-as-King-Of-The-Hill American cartoons, you might start to look at the value for money proposition here slightly differently. (I know, it's unfair to put the Late Junction sessions up against Seth MacFarlane and ask 'where would YOU spend the money', but that's pretty much what the 'close Radio 3 instead' campaign is doing already.)

Ah, but Radio 3 is enjoyed by far fewer people than BBC Three. (Judging by letters to Feedback and the Radio Times, Radio 3 might not actually be enjoyed by anyone.)

So, who is more expensively serviced?

Radio 3's annual £54.3m is spent pleasing an audience 2.2 million. That's £24.60 a person.

BBC Three's annual £121.7m brings delight to 13.2million. That's £9.21 a person.

On this measure, BBC Three is much, much cheaper.

Okay, classical music heads, I can hear you murmuring that a large chunk of that BBC Three audience is just tuning in for the EastEnders repeat.

And that 13.2million suggests that a portion of the audience tuning in are from outside the slice of 'young people who otherwise would be having sex or doing computer games or doing computer games in which they pretend to be having sex' that the channle is supposedly targeting.

But, on the broad measure of happy person per pound, BBC Three is much better value than Radio 3.

Game over?

Not quite. Because a Radio 3 listener listens for six hours and 25 minutes a week; a BBC Three viewer only watches for one hour 47 minutes every week.

Multiply this up over the course of a year, and you get BBC Three costing 0.17p per minute of audience engagement.

BBC Radio 3 costs 0.12p per minute of audience engagement.

In other words, the two channels, arguably at different ends of the BBC waterfront cost roughly the same, and it's peanuts, but depending on when you want to stop doing division you could argue that either is more expensive.

[Sources: About the BBC audience information, January-March 2013; BBC Annual Report expenditure 2013]

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

50 Cent to play live, broadcast event

Here's an inappropriate use of the word 'history' from ContactMusic:

50 Cent is set to make history at the South By Southwest festival in Texas next week (11Mar14) by streaming his concert on a mobile app he has invested in.
"Man streams gig over internet using proprietary technology". Remember where you were when you heard the news.

Steely Dan: Palmer wants more

David Palmer, who - up until 40 years ago was singer in Steely Dan - is suing for money he believes he is owed:

Palmer claims his work on the band's early tracks helped to give the act its signature sound, but insists he has been paid just over $8,000 (£5,000) in royalties from radio play.
Curiously, Palmer only sang lead on the two tracks he did because ABC records executives insisted; he also provided some of the high notes and backing vocals on other tracks. It's not clear how much he's after.

Eurovision 2014: A Sash for Europe

Carrying the UK's hopes of a place in the lower tenth of the board at Eurovision is Molly Smitten-Downes (and really, you must take a cottage on the Smitten Downs this summer, they're relatively unspoilt).

The BBC is keen:

A BBC statement described Children of the Universe as "an anthemic, uplifting track specifically written with live performance in mind".
Oddly, having watched the first performance yesterday on the BBC Red Button, I'm not sure I'd recognise the song from that description.

To be frank, despite having heard it yesterday, I'm not sure I'd be able recognise the song again.

Smitten-Downes isn't entirely new to the limelight:
Had a top 10 hit in 2008 when she sang on Sash's Raindrops (Encore Une Fois)
Yeah. 2008. The slightly dodgy and pointless remake that seemed to exist purely because it was a pun.

She also sang with Basshunter. On an album track.

Anyway, here's the song:

Warning: you won't be able to get it out your head now. But don't worry, you won't even notice it's there.

Monday, March 03, 2014

R&Bobit: Duffy Power

Duffy Power, one of Larry Parnes' stable of first-wave British rockers, has died.

Power was born Raymond Howard - the stage name was half Parnes' coinage, and perhaps not quite as on the spot as the monickers he came up with for Tommy Steele and Billy Fury. (It was an attempt to meld Duffy's existing nickname onto a fame halo from the recently deceased Tyrone Power.)

Power marked himself out as different from the others in style, as shown when he joined in the BBC's Pop Goes The Beatles project in 1963:

The story doesn't have a happy ending - alcoholism, drugs and mental health problems rather than a long career of success - although there have been rediscoverings and even, belatedly, an album of new material in 2012, the first for around 40 years.

Duffy Power died 19th February 2014; he was 72.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Brits 2014: Corden's defence

James Corden was on Channel 4's The Last Leg on Friday and, while perhaps his shaky grasp of judicial proceedings needing to take place in public is forgivable, his attempts to defend this years Brits deserve a closer bit of attention.

First, he was asked about Alex Turner's toe-curling speech at the end. Corden - as ever - was upbeat and positive; last year, he pointed out, the Monkeys picked up a prize without a word, and everyone complained about that. "You're damned if you do..." reckons James.

Up to a point. That point being if you assume that there's only a binary position between making no noise, and making a noise. On this basis, if Turner had come on stage and had a yodel, Corden would have been satisfied.

Actually, it might have been better if Turner had yodelled. Because it's not that he had said something, it was that he had nothing to say of any value. Sure, the NME might have thought we were being summoned to the ramparts, but the rest of the world just saw some drunken rambling where the lights were on, but flickering in a way that suggested a rewiring was due soon.

Secondly, James tried to parry the claims that it was all a corporate bunfest by pointing out that there was that Billie/B*Witched/Steps Abba medley thing a few years back. He seemed to be suggesting that if you used that as a measure, this year's event was hardly corporate at all. Which was an interesting argument, although one fundamentally undermined by there having been a special award invented this year to persuade One Direction to turn up, and that the sole criteria for the award was 'having sold a substantial number of units in key overseas territories'.

On the plus side, he did seem to indicate he won't host again.

This week just gone

The most-read stories from February:

1. Liveblog: The Brits
2. NME circulation figures continue to struggle
3. Brits 2014: Afterthoughts
4. NME mistakes drunken ramble for call to action
5. Beck kind of a dick about being called a dick
6. Some tiny royalty cheques
7. When Benny Hill met Michael Jackson
8. Buzzfeed quiz tells Shirley Manson that she's Kim Gordon
9. Chris Moyles surprised to find pretending to be a car salesperson is illegal
10. Panic At The Disco cause venue collapse

These releases were kind-of interesting:

Wild Beasts - Present Tense

Download Present Tense

Suede -European Tour Live

Reverend And The Makers - Thirty Two

Download Thirty Two

Notwist - Close To The Glass

Download Close To The Glass