Saturday, May 10, 2014

Liveblog: Eurovision 2014

Welcome, then, to the 2014 version of the annual Eurovision liveblog, where I attempt to get the maximum enjoyment out of an event by typing all the way through it.

As a warm-up, we're having a run-through the Pointless Eurovision special - which, I think, confirms that Pointless has ousted Mastermind as the Corporation's go-to show for thematic evenings. The Cup Final Pointless, with David Moyes struggling to come up with the Central African Republic, can only be a matter of waiting for the BBC to regain the cup.

Mike Nolan looking daggers at Cheryl Baker when she describes her successful career in kids TV.

Dana has reverted to being known as Dana for the purposes of gameshows, it turns out.

Rather sweetly, the BBC have provided a downloadable file which you can print out and use to show your support for Molly Milly-Downturn. If, indeed, you are supporting our underpowered entry this year. I'm suspecting there's no rush on inks at your local PC World.

Here's tonights runners and riders, although I should stress that nobody is going to be asked to either run, or ride. Well, no riding, anyway:

Ukraine Mariya Yaremchuk "Tick-Tock" —
Belarus Teo "Cheesecake" —
Azerbaijan Dilara Kazimova "Start a Fire" —
Iceland Pollapönk "No Prejudice" —
Norway Carl Espen "Silent Storm" —
Romania Paula Seling & Ovi "Miracle" —
Armenia Aram MP3 "Not Alone" —
Montenegro Sergej Ćetković "Moj svijet" (Мој свијет) My world
Poland Donatan & Cleo "My Słowianie - We Are Slavic" Us Slavs - We Are Slavic
Greece Freaky Fortune feat.RiskyKidd "Rise Up" —
Austria Conchita Wurst "Rise Like a Phoenix" —
Germany Elaiza "Is It Right" —
Sweden Sanna Nielsen "Undo" —
France TWIN TWIN "Moustache" —
Russia Tolmachevy Sisters "Shine" —
Italy Emma "La mia città" My city
Slovenia Tinkara Kovač "Round and Round" —
Finland Softengine "Something Better" —
Spain Ruth Lorenzo "Dancing in the Rain" —
Switzerland Sebalter "Hunter of Stars" —
Hungary András Kállay-Saunders "Running" —
Malta Firelight "Coming Home" —
Denmark Basim "Cliché Love Song" —
Netherlands The Common Linnets "Calm After the Storm" —
San Marino Valentina Monetta "Maybe" —
United Kingdom Molly "Children of the Universe" —

Alexander Armstrong is asking Johnny Logan if there are any Eurovision Annals anywhere. Logan looks like he might have misheard.

Elsewhere, Graham Norton has been saying that he hears Tel every Eurovision night:

Eurovision presenter Graham Norton has revealed he still hears predecessor Sir Terry Wogan's voice in his head when he is commentating on the song contest.
Given how sozzled Wogan used to get by the end of the big occasion, its possible that Norton is actually hearing Wogan's actual voice yelling 'it should have been me' as security drag him away.

If you think this is building up the tension, you should look at Scott Mill's Twitter:

There's a Eurovision liveblog over at The Guardian, too.

Sonia's just been knocked out of the Eurovision Pointless, so it's Bucks Fizz versus Dana & Logan trying to solve anagrams of Chip Shop items.

Elsewhere, here's a picture of Molly Systemofa-Down at the British Embassy in Copenhagen earlier this week:
It's hard to say what's more uncomfortable there - the look in her eyes, or the clunking "Entrepreneurs are great" on the wall behind her.

Dana and Logan have won it through to the final of Pointless and are now trying to come up with countries with crosses on their flags.

Elsewhere: this is the first round of Eurovision since Marta Blangiardoa & Gianluca Baiob published their research, Evidence of bias in the Eurovision song contest: modelling the votes using Bayesian hierarchical models. This found that there is a bit of a bias in the voting - neighbours supporting neighbours - but... well, not that much:
The event is televised live across Europe. Each participating country presents a song and receive a vote based on a combination of tele-voting and jury. Over the years, this has led to speculations of tactical voting, discriminating against some participants and thus inducing bias in the final results. In this paper we investigate the presence of positive or negative bias (which may roughly indicate favouritisms or discrimination) in the votes based on geographical proximity, migration and cultural characteristics of the participating countries through a Bayesian hierarchical model. Our analysis found no evidence of negative bias, although mild positive bias does seem to emerge systematically, linking voters to performers.
So, a little bit of a positive effect, but nowhere near enough to justify the hours of moaning Wogan did over the his time in control of the show.

The excitement is mounting. Look at the excitement mounting:

In case you're looking for alternative entertainment tonight, BBC Parliament is re-running Lord Myners' evidence to the Treasury Select Committee from May 7th. (Spoilers: it's not pretty.) ITV4 are showing some motorbike racing from Oulton Park. Eurovision may very well be your best bet.

The BBC are running a trail about how great they are at music. This might be the worst possible programme junction to be doing that in.

The Eurovision fanfare. We should play that outside Nigel Farage's house every night at 3am.

Denmark choosing to start with a 'previously on Eurovision' sequence. A chance to relive the poor hat choices of last year's international panelists.

Here's last year's winner coming from Malmo to Copenhagen using a ridiculous amount of transportation methods given that there's a ferry.

I know I shouldn't, but whenever I see people in wetsuits I can't shake the knowledge they'd have pissed in them earlier.

Lots of people running about with flags on the stage now, in case you don't get the whole idea of Eurovision being countries competing.

The set looks like it's the new Celebrity Squares studio as a work-in-progress.

They're doing an Olympics style contestants coming onstage before the event. This could take a while.

In a deviation from the norm, there's three hosts - I suspect the same amount of talent on the stage will be the usual level, just spread out even more thinly than we're used to.

This year's theme is Join Us.
That's not disturbing, then.

Oh, they've already done the fireworks. We've seen all the contestants and the fireworks. There's not much left to look forward to.

One of the three hosts - the one with the large chin - seems incredibly thrilled that this programme is being watched in China.

They've buggered with the voting again - the national panels have already cast their votes, based on the dress rehearsal performances. Apparently these are all sealed away somewhere safely, for Putin to alter before they're announced.

Ukraine Mariya Yaremchuk "Tick-Tock"
Some business here with giant hamster wheels - possibly that's the way the power the country when the gas is switched off.

This is a sort-of-okay song, and presumably there's a potential for a massive sympathy vote, which could mean we'd be looking at a Eurovision first of a final next year being held in a country which might not exist by the time it happens.

"My heart is like a clock" explains Mariya, which suggests its sitting on the mantelpiece.

Belarus Teo "Cheesecake"
To be fair to the Danes, they're really keeping things moving here.

Teo has gravity-defying hair, and a song that sounds like it was pinched off a Honeyz b-side.

Neither of these things are bad in themselves.

"Do-do-do, uh-oh-oh." This song isn't really about cheesecake at all.

The band are prancing down the catwalk, dangerously close to audience members waving paddles about.

Azerbaijan Dilara Kazimova "Start a Fire"
A direct contradiction of Billy Joel here, then.

The song seems to be a very, very long stitching together of the first verses from Roger Moore-era Bond themes. Just the ponderous first verses, mind. No Bassey-style choruses.

The dancer for this one is on a trapeze. I suspect they mistook it for a rope ladder and were trying to disassociate themselves from the song on the stage.

Start a fire? I've seen disposable barbecues in hurricanes more likely to ignite than this.

Iceland Pollapönk "No Prejudice"

Oh, Jesus. Bowties and vibrant, multicoloured suits.

Tip: if you want to fight against prejudice, don't come on stage daring people to hate you on sight.

They're dancing like they're in the 1950s. Oh god.

Twitter, as one, cry "The Wiggles"


Norway Carl Espen "Silent Storm"

Carl looks like one of those guys who gets cast as a biker, but the biker who will turn out to be - surprise - a lovely man who keeps kittens and cries at romantic movies.

His song, though, wouldn't be cast as anything, unless it was cast firmly into the sea.

Romania Paula Seling & Ovi "Miracle"
I went to feed the cats, taking a punt that a song called Miracle wouldn't live up to its name. And, indeed, it turns out to be David Gest and a woman from Emmerdale working through a very basic song.

Armenia Aram MP3 "Not Alone"
So this is the guy who's transphobic, or was "misquoted", depending on how much leeway you want to give him.

Rather: he's either transphobic, or else just pretends to be transphobic for yuks.

Either way, he seems like a tosspot.

The top of his head is Jeff Goldblum; the bottom of his head is David Schneider. Maybe there's some sort of The Fly remake in the offing.

His song, by the way, is a pub singer doing Jackson's Earth Song.

Montenegro Sergej Ćetković "Moj svijet" (Мој свијет) My world
The first entry to be singing in their own language.

The rollerblades looking like ice skates thing looks pretty cool, actually.

Sergej, on the other hand, looks like a 1980s Look North host. And not one of the regular ones; he's one who'd normally do the lunchtime bulletin, and only appear on the main programme during holidays and flu crises.

The song is so slight it doesn't even deserve pretend ice skating.

Poland Donatan & Cleo "My Słowianie - We Are Slavic" Us Slavs - We Are Slavic
I'm getting a sense of some sort of Slavic themes to this, then.

It's full of Slavic attitude. Like if B*Witched came from Warsaw rather than Wicklow.

There's a lot of bosoms and buckets. It's like B*Witched have been fiddling with The Laughing Cow.

I think I like this. The part of me that would stop me from ever being allowed to run Radio One likes this.

Sidenote: first washboard on stage since Lonnie Donegan retired.

Greece Freaky Fortune feat.RiskyKidd "Rise Up"

RiskyKidd? Really?

More like DodgyKebab, surely?

To be fair to Greece, this is the first song that sounds like it has been written this century.

To be honest, though, that reflects badly on the 21st Century. And the guy on the right needs to tuck that shirt in. You're on television, laddo.

"Tourney Corny Lakers" seems to be the refrain here. They're singing in English.

Austria Conchita Wurst "Rise Like a Phoenix"

It's the lovechild of Russell Brand and Dita Von Teese. Visually, very much a "this is the sort of thing that does well in Eurovision" act, which makes all the suggestions there's something boundary-pushing going on here seem a little wide of the mark.

And if it'd been me I'd have steered well clear of the gold dress.

Imagine if all this had been topped with a great song, though. Or even a performance that didn't make the lyric sound like it went "hush my Phoenix".

Sometimes a beard is not enough.

That applause makes it sound like a winner, though.

Now, across the border to Germany:

Germany Elaiza "Is It Right"

Oh, Germany seem to have sent Pink by mistake.

Hang on, there's a squeezebox on stage. Presumably that's to reassure us that it's not Pink at all, like the way they made Chris Morris look silly when he was pretending to do a newsflash on Channel 4.

Actually, it's like Pink if she was a character in EastEnders.

The song repeats I can't go on, ironically as it seems like its going to last forever.

We've reached the point where lucky nations get the adverts. The big-chinned presenter explains what hashtags are, so we can use them on our favourite social networks.

I'm going to totally load hashtags into MySpace right now.

They're padding with a bunch of records, like the highest note. It makes me wish I knew more about Croatia's 1996 entry.

Oh, look, here it is. Isn't the internet brilliant?

They're back now.

Sweden are making a flag out of lilos, probably to intimidate the rest of competitors with the power of Sanna's lungs...

Sweden Sanna Nielsen "Undo"

It's Ulrika Johnson trapped in a wigwam of lasers.

It turns out that 'Undo' is a bad word to try and sing repeatedly over three or four notes. Uhhh-huh-naaaa-naadooo.

So, Sweden have sent out a single blonde woman.

France are about to rise to that challenge...

France TWIN TWIN "Moustache"

Congratulations, it's twins. Or at least a pair of twins, plus a bloke with Eraserhead hair, and a man who normally spends Saturday night in a leather bar, and one of Haircut One Hundred on his way back from a bad facepainter;s, and Frank Zappa, and a single blonde woman.

They started with a demand for Europe to make some noise. Eraserhead hair has just taken a selfie and winked at us.

The Channel Tunnel is being filled in as we speak.

Russia Tolmachevy Sisters "Shine"

The Russians have twins, too; they come on stage with their hair all matted together.

Hang on, they've tugged themselves apart. Well, if you will buy cheap hair extensions from that market by Gorky Park, what do you expect?

By the way, they're standing on a seesaw, which represents the lurching between democracy and dictatorship that is so popular with Russians.

Given that Tatu couldn't win when Putin wasn't snaffling territory, they don't stand an earthly.

Italy Emma "La mia città" My city

MMM. Mozzeralla flag. Mmmm. I have been sat here too long.

Oh, Emma's dress has been made by people sending bottle tops in to Blue Peter.

This is actually pretty good; certainly by the standards of tonight, this sounds like the best song ever.

Emma is prowling round the stage like she's going to kick the shit out of someone. I wouldn't say anything bad about her city, people. Not if you want to keep your teeth.

This should win.

We're not even halfway through the programme. And the iPlayer feed is now about three days behind the Sky feed.

Slovenia Tinkara Kovač "Round and Round"

Tinakara is making her nation's flag out of books.

I think it's the first sound of flutes we've had tonight.

The policewoman from BBC Three's lesbian soap Lip Service standing in the middle of the time vortex.

Let's take a pause from the dull song for a cat intelude. This is, after all, the internet:

Finland Softengine "Something Better"

Calling your song Something Better is a hostage to fortune, isn't it?

Softengine are dressed like they're first-version cybermen. But without the heads.

They should have done the heads.

This could pass muster as the music for one of BBC Three's 'we gave Glastonbury virgins a camera to make a film of their first festival' packages that they show when they could be showing a band instead. And it's just as annoying in this context.

The singer looks like a young Hugh Dennis.

Spain Ruth Lorenzo "Dancing in the Rain"

Graham informs us that Ruth wrote this song as well as performing it. He doesn't mention her great asymmetrical haircut, though.

She has gone for a themetic wet-look, though. I think that's meant to be sexy, but it just gives a sense she's had to pop out the shower to answer a phone call from a PPI insurance claims company.

She's reaching for the song, though - "the rain! The RAIN! THE RAIN! DANCIIIIIIING.

A for effort, but meh for the song.

Switzerland Sebalter "Hunter of Stars"

Good news, everyone, Sebalter's here, and he's bought his guitar! We'll get him to do a song before we read some scripture, yeah? Oh, and do help yourself to some organic munchies.

Oh, you've bought your fiddle, too? We're truly lucky tonight, everyone. Oh... you're all leaving? But he hasn't done his little jig yet...

Hungary András Kállay-Saunders "Running"

Andras is sitting down to deliver his song. In the way you like to ensure people are sitting down before you deliver bad news.

Now he's stood up, though, to do the running bit.

More of an amble than a run, though.

Very much from the 'I am singing from my heart but straining to not do a fart at the same time' school.

A dancer comes on, does a high kick and Andras appears to do a gyno exam at the same time.

"Keep on running". No, for god's sake, use a hanky.

Malta Firelight "Coming Home"

"Mumford and Sons crossed with Gary Barlow" warns Graham Norton. A nation heads for its safe rooms.

I didn't know Malta had a Grand Ole Opry.

"I ain't gonna leave till you know my name". It's Asshat O'Hoedown, isn't it? You can go now.

They've got faces of people being projected onto the set. I think it's meant to be populist but it makes it like The Judds are doing Crimewatch.

Denmark Basim "Cliché Love Song"

The home team, always sent out with the words "for fuck's sake, if you win we're going to have to cancel all our sitcoms next year so just don't" ringing in their ears.

It is very much like Bruno Mars had been jilted at his own wedding but still felt he had to do a couple of songs with the reception band.

Something almost exciting just happened, and they had to wheel on a present to fill while the stage was fixed.

Netherlands The Common Linnets "Calm After the Storm"

The Dutch also going for a country-tinged song, too. I say "tinged", it actually looks like it was written on the night Hank Williams came to town. But not by someone who went to see him play.

San Marino Valentina Monetta "Maybe"

San Marino are, very much, the pointless answer on tonight's finalists. They're such a small country they're reducing to painting their flag, rather than squandering cash on making it out of melons or ice or electricity.

Actually, are we sure this is San Marino? The song is so duff, I suspect we might be watching something written by Dan Marino.

United Kingdom Molly "Children of the Universe"

Looks like they were a few people short of doing the blue on the flag, there. Perhaps they weren't sure if Scotland would have gone by the time it was airing.

Molly has gone for a Game Of Thrones look tonight.

This does feel like it has something there, but it just doesn't quite have the oomph. It sings out to the universe, but has such low power to it it'd struggle to get past Neasden without the need for the AA to help it.

Imagine if this had been a bit more Ruslana-ly.

And a little less 'mobile phone advert'.

So, that's the songs, then.

We can, apparently, listen to these songs as often as we like if we download the Eurovision app. But we've already heard a few of them more often that we'd like.

They've just glitterbombed Graham Norton.

We've still got ninety minutes to go.


The fate of the continent lies in our hands, people.

We're having the 'life flashes before your eyes' recap of the 294 acts we've just seen, if you need to remember which people whose headlights you want to put out later.


Russia's excerpt in the recap, by the way, makes the song sound a lot more like Dancing Queen than it did when they played it all the way through about an hour ago.

This is the longest recap ever. I think they're going to need a recap of the recap at this rate.

So, I'm going for Italy and then Poland.

And I reckon Molly will do alright - eighth or ninth, probably. Not a Humperdink.

Some half-time entertainment which appears to be crushing your head man from Kids In The Hall doing Ode To Joy while two men climb a ladder.

Now, Dara O'Brian and Carol Decker have also joined in the climbing up ladders.

And... Ming The Merciless.

Well, I feel better for that.

Now chin man is going to play something on the piano.

It's a parody Eurovision song. Which is a bit like doing satire about Nigel Farage - you can never skewer the subject more than it skewers itself.

They've got the winner of Junior Eurovision on now. "Do you dream of competing in the Eurovision?" she's asked, before being given a chance to show why she won't.

Now we're into that recap of the recap I was afraid of.

Twitter seems split on whether the host's recurring Chinese jokes are vaguely racist, or very racist.

Spoiler: they're very racist. The theme tonight is very much 'we're all one big world', except for China.


The lines are closed. Our chance to influence history is at an end. Unless, you know, we go out and do something good.

A bit of comedy business now about a museum of Eurovision. It's possible that they might through this without offending the Chinese.

Johnny Logan has popped up. Twice in an evening. And yet Lordi is wheeled in for the 'scaring children' bit.

How long does it take to add up a few phone votes, for crissakes?

Instead, we're getting some more business about breakfasts. The Maltese guy has been given a full English; and Molly is now being forced to have something called a Curly Wurly cake. I think it's got pubes on it.

Seriously, haven't you finished adding the numbers up yet? Can we help?

At least we've made it to the encore performance of the song from last year.

There's some stuff happening on stage now with a drummer with his drums under water.

Actually, pretty sure one of the contestants did this song this year, too; hoping we wouldn't notice.

They're now doing a recap of the recap of the recap.

We've still got one side of a C-90 to go, but at least we're going to start getting some votes in.

Azerbaijan's votes. I think she's a bit drunk. And might have fallen over before she came on camera.

12 to Russia. (= please don't invade us.)

Louise Redknapp's waxwork turns up to give 10 to Russia, unleashing a storm of boos. Then 12 to Austria, which brings cheers. Fickle crowd.

I think this is the woman who does the local news show on Parks & Recreation. Their 12 goes to the Dutch.

The guy from Albania is too old to dress like he's an 18 year old. 12 to Spain.

The UK is still on zero.

San Marino:
A CBBC presenter gives the UK five points, so that's a little less national soul-searching for tomorrow then. 12 to Azerbaijan

Denmark's votes given by the ghost of an opera singer. 12 to Sweden.

They could only afford on earring for the presenter, apparently. Or a very good presenter.
12 to Hungary.

Very wide-open voting this year.

Horrible orange dress. Like Guantanamo couture. 12 to Sweden.

Russia's votes now being delivered over a sea of booing. Putin's taking names, you know. ALL THE NAMES.

12 to Belarus. In effect, they think they're getting them back before the end of the year.

A talking male grooming product here. 12 to Austria, but that's the Dutch for you.

Maltese 12 goes to Italy.

Hahahahahaha she's wearing a moustache. Like the song they did. Which is currently on zero. I bet they had a little spat before she went on about if she'd have the 'tache on her face rather than round her neck. 12 to Armenia.

Scott Mills not as excited as he was three hours ago. "Come on Molly" he cries. Not the first Radio One dj to say that out loud. 12 to Austria.

He's wearing a sodding football top. You're on TV, man, At least get a top that fits you.

12 to Netherlands.

France are still on zero. Never was a nul point so well deserved.

She is trying to kill us all with her eyes. Smize set to kill.

12 to Montenegro, who I'd forgotten were even on the programme.

They've sent a twelve year-old in a suit. 12 to Netherlands.

That's 16 of 37 votes down.

FYR Macedonia has got some Buggles glasses on. He's not sure he's made the right choice.

12 to Monetnegro, which he pronoucnes "moistness"

Sweden have a band called Alkazar deliver their votes. They do a song, which is still not the worst of the evening. Austria get 12, which puts Austria at the top.

Belarus also do a song. Please stop doing songs now.
Belarus give their 12 to Russia. The world is shocked.

Graham seems to imply the German host is a sex worker. Twice.
12 to Netherlands.

We're about half way through the votes, and so they've gone to adverts. We get some more records. The most La's. Not Lee Mavers singing about heroin, unfortunately.

Hardly anyone using the 'official' #joinus hashtag. Because it's doesn't say anything about the event.

Back to the scores...

Oops. Everything's crashed. The votes are coming through in sound only.

Hang on, he's popped up. Should have left the camera off.

12 to Austria.

I think the Portugese woman did the Montenegro votes as well.

12 to Austria, who are running away with it now. UK sinking down towards the bottom.

Very much Kym Marsh pissed off with Steve in Corrie presentational style. 12 to Netherlands.

He's wearing his jam-jams. It is late there. Or possibly 1974.

12 to Netherlands.

Hungary's 12 go to Netherlands. There's an actual competition here. Albeit one Austria will win.

"It's a truly fairytale" tonight, apparently. 12 to Romania.

Nicky Boyzone-O'Westlife shouts the votes. 8 to the UK (first time anyone has actually said a UK vote out loud). 12 to Austria.

Booga Benson giving the votes. And doing a little rap, too. The very model of ill-advised. 12 to Austria.

He seems to be praying prior to his piece. Presumably for strength in the face of not giving 12 to Russia. 12 to Netherlands.

hahahahahahahahahahaha she has a beard like their contestant does. Did they think that though? 12 to Albania.

Spain is the 29th jury rep who is a thin woman in a red dress. 12 to Austria.

It's Ruby Wax on a ladder. 12 to Austria.

They appear to have the Italian equivalent of Kenneth Clarke in to do the scores.

12 to Austria, who surely have it in the bag now.

Their judge is out on the street, which seems quite brave in the circumstances.

12 to Sweden, who had been doing quite well at first.

They've called it for Austria.

We still have to do the rest of the votes, though.

The picture in Roger Moore's attic gives 12 to Austria, trying not to sound too disappointed they've just told Europe his votes are meaningless.

Two presenters with no charisma between them. 12 to Armenia.

Finally, here's Slovenia, wearing a crash helmet of daisies. 12 to Austria.

So... the most Eurovisiony of the entrants has won, then. Despite the song being... instantly forgettable.

The UK managed 40 points, which isn't quite as good as it could have been but hopefully will be enough to stop too much in the way of bemoaning our stature.

Conchita gives a great speech. But the song isn't any good.

We're now over-running, aren't we?

Still, Vienna or maybe Salzberg next year. That's something to look forward to...

The hosts miss the chance to take the piss out of Chinese people one last time.

So, in all, it's a victory for plurality and all that. But not the best night for songwriting.

Italy was robbed. That's clearly the take away.

So... see you in twelve months, then.

It's Eurovision day

So, later tonight, there'll be a liveblog.

Last year there was a liveblog
The year before there was a liveblog
The year before..., oh, you get the point.

Now, if you excuse me I have to spend the rest of the day labouring on jokes about Ukraine. See you back here at eight, if you're keen.

That nice Gary Barlow has all our money

Ah, Gary Barlow. Isn't he lovely? Isn't he a lovely, lovely man? Isn't he just lovely, lovely, willing to help everyone?

Except when he, Howard Donald, Mark Owen and That manager Jonathan Wild are avoiding £20million worth of tax.

But he's lovely, isn't he?

In the past he has been praised for raising millions for charity in the UK.

Barlow’s fundraising efforts for BBC Children in Need included concerts with star names playing for free. In 2013 they raised over £1.7 million and were described by the BBC as “amazing”.
You see? He's lovely. Happy to help society by getting other people to give their money to try and patch up the holes created by people like him failing to fulfil their responsibilities. He's not a monster.

Lovely, lovely, Gary Barlow OBE.

Jason Orange hasn't avoided tax, although HMRC report that Gary Barlow's insistence that Orange is paid solely in mangelwurzels and turnips has always made it difficult to fix a rate at which he should be charged. Tax records show in 2012/13, Orange received a small tax refund in the form of three parsnips.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Apple sniff around Beats

Beats headphones - the universal signal to shopkeepers that someone easily separated from their money has entered their store - are about to be bought out by Apple.

It's unclear if they're interested in the streaming or the headphone part of the business.

UPDATE: Rory Cellan-Jones is currently on Today suggesting they're interested in the streaming bit of Beats. That makes the three billion price tag seem expensive; unless there's a motivation to acquire a more solid Android user base.

Glastonbury 2014: Metallica are those mystery headliners

The creatures outside looked from Glastonbury to Reading, and from Reading to Glastonbury, and from Glastonbury to Reading again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Misfits (Trademark)

There's an almighty battle between Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only over, erm, who has the rights to licence The Misfits logo to Hot Topic:

Earlier this week, details surfaced from an April lawsuit Danzig filed against the Misfits. Reports say the lawsuit surrounds Misfits merchandising and Danzig's claim that the band's trademark had been registered by Jerry Only behind his back, maliciously preventing merchandisers (like Hot Topic) from doing business with him.

Danzig is seeking a portion of proceeds, which we are now learning from the band, he apparently has no rights to per a 1995 agreement.
Punk's not dead.

It's just spending a lot of time with its lawyers right now.

Money for nothing: Vulfpeck try to game Spotify

Vulfpeck thought they'd come up with the perfect crime: upload an album featuring ten tracks of silence to Spotify, ask fans to put the album, Sleepify, on repeat overnight, and wait for the royalties to roll in.

It nearly worked, too:

Vulfpeck racked up about $20,000, according to reports. At the half-a-cent per play rate the band says it gets from the service, that's 4 million plays.
Trouble is, Spotify isn't keen on subsidising the sound of silence, and told the band they'd violated the terms of service.

So Sleepify vanished. But Vulfpeck aren't ones to turn away from running a good joke into the ground. CNN:
It bounced back with a new three-track album called "Official Statement."
On the first track, "#Hurt," Keyboardist Jack Stratton spills his guts about the situation.
"The gist of it was that, while they enjoyed 'Sleepify' and thought it was funny and clever, that it violated their terms of content," he said.

"So I don't know what's going to happen with it -- it's very uncertain at the moment. And in light of that uncertainly I want to take 30 seconds silence to ponder the uncertainty."

That ushers in the second track, "#Reflect" -- 31 seconds of silence.
It actually looks like Sleepify outperformed Vulfpeck's more traditional work, which gives an awkward impression that their fans prefer to listen to the band when they're being quiet.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Bookmarks: Now That's What I Call Music

The American edition of Now That's What I Call Music has reached its fiftieth edition. The Washington Post has a spreadsheet listing every track, from Janet Jackson to American Authors.

Benjamin Wheeland has a Spotify playlist that so far has the tracks from the first 49 albums; I suspect the 50th album tracklists will be added in the near future.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Frank Turner now only a pony short of a show

Who would you call upon to judge a dog show?

Yeah, not sure I'd have gone with Frank Turner, either, but an event in Winchester thought he fitted the bill.

Is he a passionate dog owner or something?

“I love dogs but because of my job I can’t have one. I would like to spend all day with them,” he said.
I don't think any of us would mind very much if Frank decided to quit the day job and spend all day with dogs instead. In fact, I think everyone involved would see that as some sort of a result.

There is a serious element to this, though - the site of the show, North Walls Rec Ground in Winchester, is under threat. The Tory council wants to build a leisure centre on the green space - cunningly, removing a free, outdoor sports facility in exchange for an indoor one that you pay to use.

Find out more about the campaign to save North Walls.

Greg Allman wants his life back

They're making a film about Greg Allman. Or maybe they're not.

Things are going grimly - during a first shoot, the crew were hit by a train, killing camera assistant Sarah Jones and injuring six others. Making it worse, the railroad claim the movie company, Unclaimed Freight, hadn't sought permission to film on its property.

Shortly after this, William Hurt - who had signed on to play Allman - quit the project.

Greg Allman now wants to stop the film altogether. He's suing to get the rights back. ABC explains:

Allman's attorneys say "Midnight Rider" producers lost their rights to the singer's life story when they failed to start principal photography by Feb. 28 and came up $9,000 short of an unspecified sum they had agreed to pay Allman for those film rights. The lawsuit says both those conditions were spelled out in Allman's contract with Unclaimed Freight.
The producers are keeping quite, but apparently believe the footage they got before people died counts as principal photography, and intend to plough on with the film.

Because there's nothing like a film based on an autobiography where the subject doesn't want you to make it, is there?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Boy George never dissed Madonna or Kylie. Not recently, anyway

Tetu, a French magazine, recently carried an interview with Boy George which included a quote from him saying, in effect, that he would never be like Madonna or Kylie, chasing every trend to keep hold of their positions in pop.

He never said anything like it though. And he's getting a cheque to prove it:

Smashed in the face by Britney Spears

Poor Dawn Noel. She was a dancer for Britney's Work Bitch video, but it didn't work out. She claims that Britney's poor sense of rhythm led to her getting injured and, this being America, she's suing:

Spears proved to have a challenging time getting the dance moves and at one point reportedly twirled around while off balance. At that point, Noel, who stood beside the award-winning singer, got hit in the face hard.

The impact of Spears' hand hitting Noel's face was supposedly so loud that everyone in the room heard a cracking sound.
It's been quite a while since anyone at a Britney recording reported having heard cracking sounds, isn't it?

Apparently, Noel was promised she'd have her medical expenses repaid, but so far: nothing. Hence, the call to lawyers.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Twittergem: Faint Lines

The camera never lies. Something to remember if you ever appear on BBC Three Counties Radio.

Brazilians charged £400 to stand quite near Avril Lavigne

Ah, Avril Lavigne. A one-woman Hays Code in action.

She did a meet and greet in Brazil, charging £400 a photo.

That's quite a lot of money right there. But the money only bought you access to be nearby.

Apparently there was a strict no-touching rule. Although, if Lavigne touched you, that would be okay. She wasn't going to touch you.

I can kind-of see why you might not want strangers hugging you, smelling of stranger, and putting their stranger skin onto you skin.

But presumably the best way to avoid that happening is by not opening a booth where you charge £400 for people to meet you.

In some of the pictures, she's barely even in the frame.

This week just gone

The most-read April stories:

1. Terry Christian calls for state to test couples to ensure disabled children don't become a burden
2. Bodyguards who protected Michael Jackson's privacy reveal his secrets
3. Aston Merrygold plays prank; ruins man's day
4. Jessie J withdraws bisexuality, clumsily
5. You won't believe how many cassettes kids are buying. No, really, you won't.
6. The downside of Record Store Day
7. Writing about suicides, and the death of Kurt Cobain
8. RATT man quits
9. Is vinyl actually all that good?
10. Whatever happened to Menswear?

These were this week's interesting releases:

Brody Dalle - Diploid Love

Pink Mountaintops - Get Back

Download Get Back

Wye Oak - Shriek

The Delines - Colfax