Saturday, June 07, 2014

Radio 1 launches cull that Owen Paterson might think a bit much

There's been the sort of cull of Radio 1 presenters which, in the past, would have triggered a thousand 'whither pop radio' think pieces but seems to have slipped by without much comment at all.

There's some big names going, too:

BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra are to axe DJs including Edith Bowman, Rob Da Bank and Nihal in a schedule shake-up driven by the need to cut costs.

Controller Ben Cooper admitted that the cull of presenters – which includes Mike Davies, Jen Long, Ally McCrae, CJ Beatz, Crissy Criss and Robbo Ranx – have been driven by cuts across the corporation introduced after the last licence fee settlement.
This boils down mostly to Huw Stephens being asked to pick up a lot of the slack, with him getting a programme that sounds a bit like Colin Murray's post-Zane Lowe slot.

Da Bank going is something of a hit; and in terms of losing interesting people do worthwhile things, Davies' punk show has been a quiet gem in the Radio 1 schedule.

Difficult times at the BBC, of course, but it's a pity that the savings are coming at the cost of the diversity which makes Radio 1 worth keeping.

World Cup of Soccer: Theme time

The great thing about the World Cup being in Brazil is the massive range of options this offers the BBC for choosing a theme tune.

Who have they gone with? Seu Jorge? Nação Zumbi? Maria Rita?

Oh, man, I bet they've gone with Maria Rita. Imagine kicking off every Match of the Day with this:

But it's so difficult to choose. So many great local artists. So many distinctive local genres and sub-genres. How do you choose one to drench your Brazilian soccer coverage in a sense of place?

What have you chosen, BBC?

Stevie Wonder's song Another Star will provide the theme tune for the BBC's Fifa World Cup coverage.

The song, with its Latin American vibe, will be used as the opening sequence for all of the BBC's World Cup programmes for Brazil 2014.
Ah, yes. How better to get a "Latin American vibe" than by approaching someone from Michigan?

I suppose Brazil only has itself to blame. If just one of its artists had ever produced a single track which sounded even half-way as Latin American, they'd probably have been in with a shot of providing a tune for the event.

Perhaps it's elaborate social commentary from BBC Sport, reflecting how the World Cup has seen Brazilians shoved aside to make room for multinational brands to make money off of soccer.

The BBC is keen to stress the sort-of-historic significance of 'man licences track to broadcaster':
It is the first time the musician, 64, has given his approval for one of his songs to be used in this way.
Perhaps that's true, but this is the man who supplied the entire soundtrack for The Woman In Red, so let's not pretend opening with a Wonder song is automatically a blessing for all involved.

Glastonbury 2014: The BBC headcount

It's now a fixed point in the summer season; newspapers who dislike the BBC getting all overheated about how it takes people to do broadcasting of a music festival.

Because this is a year divisible by two and not four, that means the comparison must be made with the World Cup of Soccer, which is going to happen in the next week or so:

BBC sends 300 staff to cover Glastonbury Festival - that’s 28 more than its Brazil World Cup crew

This compares to 272 who are heading to Brazil for the World Cup
I'm sure the Daily Mail will, elsewhere on its website, be clearing space amongst the upskirt shots of teenage girls to complain about the number of BBC staff covering the World Cup as well, but for now that's the comparison they want to go for.

How can it be, then, that it takes a larger number of people to cover a number of stages running simultaneously for about a dozen channels across TV, radio and digital, than it does to cover a football event where the match coverage is provided by somebody else and which plays out languidly over the course of what feels like an entire month?

Oh, hang on. The question has answered itself, hasn't it?

We'll see you back here next year for "the BBC has more people covering Glastonbury than turned up for the defenestration of Nick Clegg".

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Pharrell upsets Native Americans

The July edition of Elle UK is dubbed a "special collector's edition":

One for collectors of culturally insensitive artefacts, apparently, as Native Americans aren't thrilled with Pharrell playing dress-up with their image:
Taino Ray: How can you do something so stupid and disrespectfulll.. you are not a Chief Pharrel.. The eagle feathers are sacred... Even if you are part Native the headdress is off limits... Its for Warriors and people of the plains culture.. You don't have the right to wear that Pharrel... neither does Cher or Emerson Windy... You guys don't get it.... You will learn the hard way by us Natives telling you so...
"Pharrell" has issued a statement through his publicist:
"I respect and honour every kind of race, background and culture. I am genuinely sorry."
How genuinely sorry you believe Pharrell to be is probably going to be a function of how far you believe the words to be genuinely his. It's such a slight 'sorry about that' it suggests more a damage control than actual contrition.

Fortunately for Elle, the magazine comes with a choice of covers this month, and fortunately they didn't get Keira Knightley to do blackface for hers.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Humperdinck pursued by the Palace

Albany's Palace Theater has issued proceedings against Engelbert Humperdinck, claiming he failed to show for a show:

Humperdinck was scheduled to perform at the Palace on June 29, 2011. The theater provided him with a $20,000 deposit, spent nearly $10,000 on advertising and $632 for transportation. Also, 668 tickets were sold for a total of $31,549.

The Palace, represented by Hinckley, Allen & Snyder, is looking to be reimbursed for a list of costs totaling more than $70,000, including the $20,000 deposit, advertising expenses, transportation funding, ticket sales and attorney fees.
You can understand the Palace being upset - although it sort-of looks like the event was going to be a financial hit anyway.

And given what happened when Engelbert does show up - like in Baku, in 2012 - you might consider they had something of a narrow escape.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Glastonbury 2014: You might be able to hear the sound of slaughtered animals

Remember when Glastonbury was a lovely, earth-positive sort of place to be?

That's obviously long since become a memory, but they cling to supporting causes like Greenpeace as a memory of the good times.

But they will let anyone play these days - hence, the 2014 event is going to be headlined by Metallica. That means James Hetfield will be taking time off from working on a documentary about the not-quite-humans who get their kicks killing animals. Bears, in this case. Kodiak bears, the near cousins of the polar bears that Greenpeace are trying to keep alive.

Perhaps the Eavises just like the irony of that.

BPI use 'right to be forgotten' to bang familiar drum

Oh, here's the BPI, taking the European 'right to be forgotten' and using it as a platform to remind us about piracy again. And again. And again.

That removing links to a specific piece of information is different from blocking piracy sites doesn't seem to occur to anyone:

Critics say that Google drags its feet over carrying out measures such as stripping pirate websites from its search results, yet the move to allow users the "right to be forgotten" proves it can take serious action if it is forced.

"It's 'Don't be Evil' 101," says Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the music industry's trade body, the BPI. "The principle at stake here is when you know someone is acting illegally, you shouldn't continue helping them by sending them business."
That's kind of the point, though, isn't it, Geoff? Because Google does take action when you ask it to:
The BPI made 4.6m requests to Google to remove pirate websites from its listings in the past month alone.
And Taylor even seems to understand that unlicenced music sites are a moving target...
Dealing with Google is often a fraught process, Taylor adds, and the illegal websites reappear in the same, or a slightly different, guise almost immediately after they are taken down.
... but not enough to process that he's expecting Google to know to take down a site before its brought to their attention somehow.

Maybe he should have checked the Google right to be forgotten form before talking about this, as he'd have understood then that all you can do is point to a URL you want quashed and provide a reason why. It's not having a whole category of things (for example, 'anything about Mike Smith') dumped from the index. So wailing 'why can't they treat "pirate" sites they way they treat embarrassing facts from the past' is a wail of a digital ingenue - because they're actually treating those facts based on the way they treat "pirates".

Jack White creates the worst plentyoffish profile ever

There was a big interview with Jack White in Sunday's Observer, which found a man struggling to balance the weight of his self-created mythos:

A lazaretto is a medical quarantine, traditionally occupied by contagious sea dogs returned from voyage. White is so busy these days that the idea of such a place has become almost exotic: "I fantasise about living in one-room apartments and being in a work camp somewhere, where there's absolutely nothing around me but a cot and a teapot and a sink."
Of course, it's not all as bad as that.
Lazaretto is dedicated to three feminist pioneers: Florence Green from Norfolk, the last surviving veteran of the first world war until her death in 2012 [actually, Tim Lewis, her death didn't stop her being the last surviving veteran]; the American anarchist and writer Voltairine de Cleyre; and "Amazing" Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and rear admiral in the US navy.
That actually sounds quite interesting. So, has this album been informed by those women's experiences?

Er, no:
White admits that he barely knows more than a paragraph's biography of each of them, but he jotted their names down at various points in the recording process. He says: "So, just another way to provoke thought, I guess."
If he'd picked up a different page of his notebook, the album might have been dedicated to 'set PVR for Game Of Thrones' or 'potatoes/washing up liquid/half pound of bananas'.

Maybe not the PVR, though:
White is doing his own bit to turn back the clock: at his gigs, he enforces a strict ban on the audience shooting pictures or video; at home, he only allows his children – Scarlett, eight, and Hank, six – to play with mechanical toys. "There's romance and beauty in that in a real physical way," he says, "and that's more important for them than to just quickly cop to video games and iPads."
Mechanical toys? Mechanical toys? Isn't clockwork a little too fast-pace-of-modern-life for you, Jack? What's wrong with a chunk of wood and a whittling stick?

I feel for his kids. Going to his house must be like when I had to visit a great aunt who only had powdered milk and one chair.

There's one bit, though, where I think the real Jack White peeps through:
"I'm incredibly complicated, incredibly full of energy, incredibly busy and I never stop thinking, I never stop creating. Sitting next to me in a room or laying next to me in a bed, it could be a lot of work. To be friends with me, have breakfast with me, have coffee, is a lot of work, too. It's like you're going to lunch with Larry David, Alan Partridge and Chris Rock all in one person – maybe with a little bit of Woody Allen mixed in there. And some people might not think it's funny!"
Basically, White is a chilled-out entertainer entertainer. I'll bet he does funny voices, too.

But, oh, what work to keep up with a man who channels so many sharp wits! No wonder poor Meg got so tired out.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Staind take a stand

Kudos to Staind's Aaron Lewis for taking time out of a festival set to berate molesters:

n the middle of a performance of the track "Something To Remind You", Lewis took a break from singing to exclaim: "Alright, listen up, you fucking assholes. That fucking girl right there is, like, 15 fucking years old and you fucking pieces of shit are molesting her while she's on the fucking crowd. Your fucking mothers should be ashamed of themselves, you pieces of shit. You should all be fucking beaten down by everyone around you for being fucking pieces of shit. If I fucking see that shit again, I swear to God, I will point you out in the crowd and have everyone around you beat your fucking ass."
This was at the Kansas City Rockfest. It'd be great to see other bands calling out similar behaviour by their fans.

Kylie Minogue discovers nobody on The Voice sells any records

Apparently Kylie has left Parlophone after Kiss Me Once struggled to sell more than 60,000 copies.

Or, possibly, Parlophone has left Kylie. For the same reason, though.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Jack White explains why his disdainful comments aren't disdainful

Remember Jack White? Nice kid, interesting music. Haven't seen so much of him since he went off on that big journey he made. Where was it he was off to again? Oh, yeah. Up his own asshole. That's where he went.

Last week, there was dispatch from his fundament, where he took time out of his busy preening ritual to slag off the Black Keys and Meg White in the pages of the Rolling Stone. He's now attempted to row back on the comments, while still explaining how he was right all along.

So, Meg, for example - Jack's former wife and someone who has, in the past, had anxiety problems. In the original piece, Jack laid into her:

"She's one of those people who won't high-five me when I get the touchdown," he said. "She viewed me that way of 'Oh, big deal, you did it, so what?' Almost every single moment of the White Stripes was like that. We'd be working in the studio and something amazing would happen: I'm like, 'Damn, we just broke into a new world right there!' And Meg's sitting in silence."

White recalled a quote from Ringo Starr that rang true to him during those moments. "I remember hearing Ringo Starr say, 'I always felt sorry for Elvis, because in the Beatles we had each other to talk about what it felt like. Elvis was by himself.' I was like, 'Shit, try being in a two-piece where the other person doesn't talk!'"
Oh, how frustrating for Jack not to have someone constantly high-fiving him. And him being so very very clever, too.

Now, though, Jack is keen to stress that he didn't mean anything by that:
"Meg White, who I also talked about to Rolling Stone about our working conversations, or lack thereof, is, of course, a musician I’ve personally championed for 15 years," he wrote in the statement. "She is a strong female presence in rock and roll, and I was not intending to slight her either, only to explain how hard it was for us to communicate with our very different personalities. This got blown out of proportion and made into headlines, and somehow I looked like I was picking on her. I would never publicly do that to someone I love so dearly. And, there are mountains of interviews where my words are very clear on how important I think she is to me and to music."
"Hey, what are you complaining about? I've said elsewhere she's important to me, so why does the fact I painted a picture of her being a closed-off, cold-fish hermit suddenly become a problem? In what way is saying she sat in silence when I'd been brilliant a bad thing?"

The Black Keys White took to task for being copyists:
"There are kids at school who dress like everybody else, because they don't know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too. I'll hear TV commercials where the music's ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's the Black Keys," White says. "The other half, it's a sound-alike song because they couldn't license one of mine. There's a whole world that's totally fine with the watered-down version of the original."
The White Stripes did the same thing, and in our absence, you're gonna find someone to fill that. And you get a band like the Black Keys, who said they never heard of the White Stripes? Sure.
It looks like what really irks White is not that the Black Keys supposedly sound like a watered-down White Stripes, but that they, too, refuse to high-five him by admitting his influence on their work.

Still, full marks for his clarification on this, which manages to be more snide than the original remarks:
"I wish the band the Black Keys all the success that they can get," he said in the new statement. "I hope the best for their record label Nonesuch who has such a proud history in music, and in their efforts to bring the Black Keys songs to the world. I hope for massive success also for their producer and songwriter Danger Mouse and for the other musicians that their band employs. Lord knows that I can tell you myself how hard it is to get people to pay attention to a two piece band with a plastic guitar, so any attention that the Black Keys can get in this world I wish it for them, and I hope their record stays in the top ten for many months and they have many more successful albums in their career."
"Yeah, good luck guys, and all those other people who are doing all the work for you. I hope your children are beautiful, and your grandparents long-lived, and your fingers remain supple into what will be a long and active old-age, and that you're too stupid to notice that this reads like a piece of douchey sark."

Oh, White also found time to slag off most women artists working at the moment, too:
Some people will hear that and say 'Oh, Jack White thinks he's the first person to play the blues.' But certain acts open up a market for a certain style. Amy Winehouse: Did she invent white soul? Wearing a beehive? No. But she did something brand new and fresh, altogether as a package, and you see who's in her wake, from the Duffys to the Lana Del Reys," he says. "Adele selling 20 million records? That would not have happened if Amy Winehouse was alive."
Adele's two albums were both released during Winehouse's lifetime, actually. But this isn't about facts, it's about Jack. And Jack knows what he thinks.

Although, er, maybe he's going to clarify that, too:
White also apologized to the artists he appeared to dismiss in his explanation of how "certain acts open up a market for a certain style." White said that he attempted to avoid giving a "no comment" answer to Rolling Stone because he thought it would sound petty, but ended up making comments that should have been reserved for "shop talk" among producers, engineers and managers.

"I wish no slight to the talents of Winehouse, Duffy, Lana del Rey, and Adele," he explained on Saturday. "All of whom are wonderful performers with amazing voices. I have their records and I hope for more success for them all as the years go on. They deserve all they’ve gotten. And, I also would love to state that I personally find it inspiring to have powerful, positive female voices speaking out and creating at all times in the mainstream, and all of those singers do just that, so I thank them."
There's a couple of things here. The first is that he seems to have noticed that he wasn't even apparently slighting Amy Winehouse, so maybe even Jack White starts to tune out and not listen properly when Jack White starts banging on.

Secondly, saying that Adele wouldn't have sold records if Amy Winehouse was alive - even if factually incorrect - is clearly saying that Adele had got success she didn't deserve.

So that's White's apology saying sorry for something he didn't even do (slagging Winehouse) and claiming he hadn't done something he had (slagging Adele). This is the most ham-fisted thing White's done since his last record.

But what really galls is that bit about "shop talk" - the sweeping imperiousness of the idea that the little people who read his interviews and (albeit in decreasing numbers) buy his records can't be trusted to understand such complex ideas as how Adele wouldn't have sold records if she'd had to compete with someone else without thinking he sounds like an arse.

Unless what Jack means is that he should only really talk to the sort of people he's paying, rather than people who aren't being paid to agree with his every shining insight.

Bret Michaels isn't doing very well

Bret Michaels has put a hold on his solo tour due to health issues. How bad are they? Guitarist Pete Evick reckons they're pretty bad, and takes time to calibrate the measurement he's using here:

As I've stated before, I have stood with Bret for over nine years and have been around the world with him. I was there when his appendix burst, was there through the brain hemorrhage and watched him re-learn to walk and talk, not to mention countless blood sugar scares, but nothing like this. The complication of this brutal flu virus and how it has affected his blood glucose levels has been awful to watch. The perfect cocktail of such a virus along with diabetes and a high temperature is to be taken very seriously.
Still, Pete's sure the band will be picking up the tour next week, so perhaps not quite as bad as the brain haemorrhage, then.

John Lydon's Herod slaughtered while still innocent

Whoever booked the Jesus Christ Superstar revival with John Lydon as Herod, one of Incubus as Judas and a random N'Syncer as Pilate seems to have sobered up. The tour has been axed.

It turns out their collected draw - even with the addition of that bloke who won the being Jesus on ITV last year - just wasn't enough to interest anybody into shelling out for tickets:

The next morning, Mr. Forster and Mr. Chasez were rehearsing with Mr. Connor when the company’s general manager entered the studio.

Describing what happened next, Mr. Forster said, “He was like, ‘Guys, take a break. We need to chat. It’s not going to happen.' ” At this point in his recollection, Mr. Forster simply gasped.

Mr. Boyd, who has no previous musical theater experience, suspected he was being hazed. “I thought it was like a prank that you pull on the new guy,” he said. “But no.”
Unsurprisingly, John Lydon has reached for his default "knew it all along" setting:
“I had a run-in with the alleged promoter [Michael Cohl] in New York,” Mr. Lydon said. “I didn’t like him and I instinctively didn’t trust him.”
Of course, John. Of course.

Cohl was also involved in the U2/Spiderman thing, so at least this time he's stopped things before anyone got hurt. Physically hurt, anyway.