Saturday, August 09, 2014

Great (shabby) moments in pop history: Pulp

You'll recall, of course, when the now-defunct Daily Mirror ran a risible campaign against Pulp's Sorted For Es and Whizz:

Worth remembering the "journalist" who tried to bark up outrage over nothing was Kate Thornton, before her short-lived period editing Smash Hits into destruction and "inventing" Candle In The Wind as a Diana tribute.

AMP decides nobody has time for a three minute single

You hate radio stations fading out songs too soon? You might want to steer clear of Calgary's AMP radio, which has hit on the idea of paying people to edit tracks down to two minutes.

Wait, what? Why?

Steve Jones, VP of programming for Newcap Radio, which operates close to 100 stations across the country including AMP, said it is a sign that radio is finally willing to get with the times.
As we look to people’s changing habits and changing attention spans and watch people on their iPod listening to half a song and forwarding on to the next one we sort of came to the conclusion that maybe it was time to rethink why songs are the way they were.
I suppose for listeners it's lucky he watched someone forwarding through their collection; if he'd observed one of those people who find a track they like and leave it on repeat for six or seven turns, Calgarians would be facing an endurance test.

By the way, isn't there something heartbreaking about Jones' desperately trying to be all modern, and talking about iPods? Half expecting him to start mumbling about how radio has to compete with people looking up music on Yahoo! in a minute.

So, the radio people have noticed that people skip through songs and rather than thinking "it's interesting that faced with a large supply of music they themselves have chosen, listeners will rush through their tracks trying to find something that resonates with them and therefore our task is to program music which resonates", concludes that people really love fast-forwarding and try to do that on their behalf. It's like a pub noticing their best customers go to the toilet a lot, and opting to add extra diuretics to their beer.

The rest of the world has pointed that cutting songs down to two minutes is an act of insanity, but for Jones, it's all upside:
Besides, he said, half the song length means double the amount of songs AMP can play in an hour, which also equals more exposure for the musicians, for more musicians. And that, theoretically, translates to more revenue.

“The artists are generally quite receptive to having their songs heard more often by more people,” he said.
Yeah, you're getting your music in front of more people. But unfortunately they're people who are quite happy to listen to a radio that has eviscerated music.
Mr. Jones said the reaction has been “really, really positive. There’s obviously been some negative, for sure, but we’ve been really happy with the feedback we’re getting from listeners.”
Jones is happy with the feedback, but to be fair his attention span is so stunted he only reads as far as "I was listening to your station today and", so has no idea what they're actually saying.

Drumobit: Idris Muhammad

Idris Muhammad, drummer on many, many tracks but not least Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill, has died.

Blueberry Hill was the first of numerous high spots in a career which included funk albums under his own name, drumming in the original Broadway production of Hair and working with Roberta Flack, Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield.

And he got sampled to buggery, but chose to see it as a positive, rather than a chance to make money, as the New York Times observes:

Mr. Muhammad was widely sampled by hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Drake. The Beastie Boys album “Paul’s Boutique” opens with a lengthy sample of “Loran’s Dance,” from “The Power of Soul.” Asked in an interview how he felt about other people using his music, he told Wax Poetics magazine, “It don’t really belong to me, man,” adding: “The gift the Creator has given me, I can’t be selfish with. If I keep it in my pocket, it’s not going to go anyplace.”
Idris Muhammad - who before converting to Islam was known as Leo Morris - was 74; he died July 29th.

I have a collection; you are a hoarder; he is... what the hell is he?

Most people who love records have a problem, as passion turns to festishism. But however you feel about your shelves of 12 inch singles, or piles of CDs, you can take comfort that you're not as bad as Zero Freitas, a wealthy Brazilian on a mission to buy all the vinyl in the world.

How many records does he have? He's got interns trying to catalogue the collection, at 500 discs a day, but they'll never succeed because he adds music faster than they can catalogue.

It's not just an obsession, though: there is a mission, too:

While Freitas thumbed through those records, Bastos was warning of a future in which some music might disappear unnoticed. Most of the American and British records Freitas has collected have already been digitally preserved. But in countries like Brazil, Cuba and Nigeria, Bastos estimated, up to 80 percent of recorded music from the mid-20th century has never been transferred. In many places, he said, vinyl is it, and it’s increasingly hard to find. Freitas slumped, then covered his face with his hands and emitted a low, rumbling groan. “It’s very important to save this,” he said. “Very important.”

Friday, August 08, 2014

Charli XCX does care after all

Charli XCX - who is part-funding her second phase of musical domination with royalties from writing Icona Pop's I Love It - doesn't absolutely love the song:

'I Love It' is one of the most annoying songs in the world but it's kind of cool and it's the same with '90s fashion which I'm obsessed with - it's so wrong it's right."
One of the most annoying songs in the world? Not while there's still people playing Gangnam Style, it isn't. Not even close.

Shirley Manson wants the pigs to go free

Here's a headline you don't expect to see:

Shirley Manson Urges Wisconsin Church to Cancel Pig Wrestling Event
St. Patrick’s Parish in Stephensville is planning to have a pig "wrestling" competition.

They say it's wrestling. I think when we were kids, we all used the "hey, let's wrestle" line when we were interested in the grappling more than the sport, but the church do seem firm that they're interested in fighting, and not merely trying to find cover to allow themselves to get close contact with pigs in a socially acceptable way.

Joking aside, it's premium asshole behaviour:
“I am so disturbed to learn from my friends at The Humane Society of the United States that St. Patrick’s Parish is planning a contest in which pigs are punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, and thrown into a bucket. Pigs are exceptionally intelligent animals who deserve to be treated with love and care.

“Wisconsin has a special place in my heart since my band Garbage got its start there. We are better than this unnecessary and abusive activity. Please cancel the Roundup Pig Rassle immediately and permanently.”
And what does the church make of this request that perhaps they don't want to punch pigs in the face?

They've gone with the "it's not against the law and we've done it for years" defence:
St. Patrick Parish, located in Stephensville, Wis., will be hosting its 44th Annual Roundup Days this coming weekend. Event activities include Mass, dinner, parade, raffles and a live band. As part of these activities is an event called the Pig Rassle.

Pig wrestling, also known as a rassle or wrasslin', is an event that is held in various places throughout the United States. Individuals or teams are given the task to place a pig at a designated location. The challenge is typically set within a fenced area containing water and mud. The Pig Rassle is not unique to St. Patrick Parish and has taken place for many years at county fairs and other community events.

The Roundup Days have taken place for more than 40 years, and the Pig Rassle has been part of this event for several of those years. Consideration is taken to ensure that the pigs are safe and free from any abuse. After consultation with local authorities, it has been determined that there is no illegality associated with this event. St. Patrick Parish does not condone animal abuse.

Thanks to all who are helping the parish to address this situation. Greatly appreciated.
Yes, that's a Catholic Church who are shrugging and saying 'we're not going to worry about whether something is moral, so long as it's traditional and we won't go to prison.

I can't pretend to understand religion, but your statement on the pig punching party you're throwing does suggest all that's wrong with it.

Not a thought about what's ethical, not a thought about what's kind, not a thought about the right thing to do. Just a ass-covering justification.

And this abandonment of a chance of moral leadership is so they can be cruel to pigs. Hard to believe Catholicism is in decline, isn't it?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Justin Bieber to the rescue

This story suggests like it's something that a Croatian made up and is now being repeated as fact, but let's pretend it's been double-source checked. Justin Bieber saved a man's life by being awful:

The Croatian Times reports that a Russian fisherman, under attack by a brown bear, was saved when his phone went off, playing polarizing pop star Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby” as its ringtone.

Igor Vorozhbitsyn, 42, says [...] a bear pounced on him from behind and began clawing his face and chest. [...] Suddenly his phone went off, startling the bear, which took off.

Vorozhbitsyn added, “I know that sort of ringtone isn’t to everyone’s taste, but my granddaughter loaded it onto my phone for a joke.”
In a bar in Croatia, right now, a man is talking to Igor saying "you know, any loud music suddenly bursting out of nowhere would have startled the bear; you didn't have to say it was Bieber."

And Igor is looking crestfallen, and ordering another beer.

Kanye West: "I'm so very, very clever"

Last year, while being investigated for having a pop at a photographer, Kanye West (out of The Kardashians) had to give a deposition. He approached this as he appears to approach everything, with his inflated sense of self-worth hanging out his pants:

In the transcript, obtained by, Kanye said: ''I'm the smartest celebrity you've ever f***ing dealt with. I'm not Britney Spears.

''I'm in the business of trying to make dope s**t for the world. You're in the business of representing scums and trying to make as much money as long as there's this lapse in the law
If you're that smart, would you really go with Britney Spears as a comparison?

He might be smart, but he seems not to have grasped the effect of his lyrics:
{Lawyer] Mr. Goldberg then questioned Kanye on his track 'Flashing Lights', quoting the lyrics: ''Till I get flashed by the paparazzi, damn, these ni**as got me.''

Kanye hit back: ''You have to ask for a hall pass. You can't just say the 'n' word around me. It offends me because you're a white person saying ni**a.''
But he's quoting your own lyrics, Kanye. They're your words. It's a quote.

Hang on, he's off again...
The 'Bound 2' hitmaker also claimed celebrities feel like black people fighting for civil rights in the 1960s.

He said: ''I mean in the 60s people used to hold up 'Die N****r' signs when my parents were in the sit-ins also.''
Kanye, I think you better ask for a hall pass. Suggesting that incredibly rich people who undertake activities to increase their wealth by mugging for cameras are in some way the spiritual heirs of 60s civil rights activists means that 'deliberately leaking a sex tape' and 'deliberately choosing to sit in a whites only area of a restaurant' are somehow morally equivalent.

If you're really so smart, Kanye, why is the character you play saying such stupid things?

Kate Moss tries to scare Bieber straight

Elle magazine read it in The Sun, and have decided to run with the story even though they don't appear to believe a word of it:

If you can believe the British tabloids, the supermodel gave the Biebs a serious talking-to while they both were celebrating Riccardo Tisci's birthday. Bieber asked to be introduced to her at the party and expected the typical celebrity lovefest. That was not happening. "Kate had a huge go at him and told him he needed to behave,” a source told the UK's The Sun newspaper.


Even if this tabloid claim ends up being fake, we hope it eventually happens. Because if anyone can teach a big star to clean up his act, it's Kate Moss.
Yes. Yes, I'd certainly think of Kate Moss first when I needed someone to straighten out a musician. After the great work she did with Pete Doherty and all.

Jessie J heads off to crack America, apparently

Can it really be true that Jessie J is leaving, as the Daily Star says?

Jessie J moving to the U.S.
Pop star JESSIE J is moving to the U.S. in a bid to crack the American music industry.
The headline is pretty clear. Sounds like she's already deep in conversations about baseboard heating with Remax realtors, right?
She tells KISS FM's Breakfast Show, "I'm kind of 50/50 there and within the next kind of 18 months I'm gonna basically get a place in L.A. or New York. Yeah. Flying in east."
So that's less 'is moving to the US', more 'might at some point in 2016 buy a small flat but haven't even given any thought about which coast it might be near'.

Not so much with the "now or never", then.

We have a while to wait before we need to put together comfort packs of marmite and PG Tips.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Civil Wars is over

Given they've been on hiatus for a couple of years, the final act of The Civil Wars will come as little surprise:

The Civil Wars—made up of duo partners Joy Williams and John Paul White—have regretfully decided to permanently part ways. The difficult decision ends a tumultuous period for the four-time Grammy Award-winning band, who has been on indefinite hiatus since late 2012.

As a thank you gift and farewell, the band is offering a download of their rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” Recorded in 2010, the track was originally released in 2011 as a b-side to the band’s limited edition Barton Hollow 7” vinyl. This is the first time the song has been available digitally in the U.S.

Both Joy and John Paul have added their personal words on disbanding here below.

Joy Williams comments, “I am saddened and disappointed by the ending of this duo, to say the very least. JP is a tremendous musician, and I will always be grateful for the music we were able to create together.

I sincerely hope that ‘You Are My Sunshine’ will be accepted as a token of my gratitude for every single person that has supported our duo throughout the years. I’m so thankful and my heart is full.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to share the music that I am writing and recording in the midst of this difficult transition. I’ve loved being back in the studio, and have missed performing live. I look forward to seeing you soon.”

John Paul adds, “I would like to express sincere thanks to all who were a part of the arc of The Civil Wars—from the beginning, to the end, and all points in between. My deep appreciation goes out to all who supported, disseminated, and enjoyed the music. Whatever shape or form the next chapter takes, thanks for being a large part of this one.”

Full statement and "You Are My Sunshine" download at
I'm not sure you can be both tumultuous and on hiatus at the same time, but somehow they managed it.

Mercury falling

That Freddie Mercury film? The one with Sacha Baron Cohen/hold on no it's Ben Whishaw as Fred?
Starting to look increasingly like it's never going to happen. The Telegraph's Mandrake column brings the news:

So when will Whishaw actually set about the business of rocking us? “Actually, I don’t know what’s happening, it seems to be on the back-burner,” the Paddington star now admits in an interview with Time Out London. “It was going, then there were problems getting the script working.”
I'm taking this to mean the studio are going "he's being gay on too many pages", but it could simply be they're asking if Brian May wouldn't mind if his character became a wisecracking CGI badger. (I suspect Brian May wouldn't mind.)

Katy Perry: Google News would claim this was an algorithmic coincidence

I think the photo tells us all we need to know, thanks:

Ian Gillan gets all sassy with the Rock & Roll hall of Fame

Talking to Rolling Stone, Ian Gillan gently schools the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in rock:

I've heard quotes of somebody on the [Rock Hall voting] committee saying, "Well, Deep Purple can't be in it, because they were a one-hit wonder." I don't know if they were referring to "Hush" or "Smoke in the Water" or "Child in Time" or "Highway Star" or "Perfect Strangers," any of those one hit wonders that we were.
He then says he'd treat the museum with respect if they approached the band, but "it's really an American thing", which is the sort of respect you get when someone says "I hear what you're saying, but..."

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Beyonce crosses the Madonna Horizon

Beyonce has, after a period of silence, turned her attention to the most famous elevator fracas since that doctor discovered Damien's blood was like a jackal's.

That she's bothered at all is disappointing; like Thor, the mighty God of Thunder taking time out his busy schedule to explain a hailstorm in Chislehurst last summer.

But she's decided to rap about the scuffle between Solange and Jay-Z. So, what was going on, Beyonce?

We escalatin', up in this bitch like elevators
Of course sometimes shit goes down when there's a billion dollars on an elevator
First of all, as explanations go, this doesn't hold water - I'm pretty certain that if Solange had got out at the next floor, there would still have been a billion dollars in that lift, and there wouldn't have been a shin-kicking farrago.

But let's take Beyonce at her word, because this is a sad, historic moment. The point where Beyonce has become so rich and famous and powerful that she has forgotten how to be relatable. The point, then, where she crossed the Madonna Horizon.

On this side of the Madonna Horizon, Beyonce would have been rapping about families, and how you know what families are like, and what can you do, eh? But once across the Madonna Horizon, you turn into this:

Scientists believe that as you pass through the Madonna Horizon, you're suddenly convinced that the world wants to see a photo of you being taken from behind by Vanilla Ice.

So, then: now we know. If you put rich people into a confined space, there's going to be an almighty scrap. This is why you don't see billionaires on the tube, by the way: imagine if three bank CEOs got in the same carriage on the Underground. It'd be carnage before you got out the station.

Naturally, the richer you get, the further you have to keep apart. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are forbidden from being in the same state, as with all that cash just a few miles apart could trigger an earthquake.

It's our fault, people. We've given all this money to the Knowles-Z family. In effect, we're no better than medieval peasants forcing chickens to fight for our entertainment. I hope we're all ashamed.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Zoe Saldana defends Britney Spears

For reasons we can't quite begin to understand, Zoe Saldana's promotional work for Guardians Of The Galaxy seems to involve talking about Britney Spears a lot.

Saldana appeared with Spears in Crossroads, a movie so bad many assumed Britney's character was supposed to be the young Amy Turtle. And Saldana has nothing but praise for Brit:

"She was the one big, big celebrity that I met when I was starting to work in Hollywood, who literally was humble. I do believe that people and children gravitate to good energy, and she`s definitely an abundance of that," said the 36-year-old.
It's not just children who gravitate to good energy. It's people as well.

Humble, of course, has many meanings, so it's possible that Saldana is actually claiming that Britney was literally low in rank, or literally small in size. Or, equally, that Saldana meant "genuinely" rather than "literally".

It's worth noting that she doesn't bother attempting to defend Spears' acting in the movie.

Oddly, Saldana is then dragged into giving an opinion on the current round of 'can Britney sing without Autotune' chatter - because, naturally, the best person to ask is somebody who did some acting with Spears over a decade ago.
"I`m pretty sure that 80 percent of our musical artists would be mortified if they were caught singing without auto-tune."

"She was the only pop star at that time - and I can name a lot of prominent figures right now that today are more famous than Britney - that literally got to where they were at by hating on Britney a lot."

"Because it was cool at one time to really just diss her. And Britney never did that,"
I think calling this a half-formed thought would be to over praise it - presumably Saldana means that Spears didn't get where she is today by attacking other singers, but that seems to be an odd defence to accusations of 'not being able to sing' even if properly expressed. What Saldana ends up saying is that Britney isn't that famous any more, but at least she never dissed herself.

But to be fair, the whole answer has a subtext of 'why are you asking me this anyway?'

Here's Zoe in her current role:
She's on the left, playing the woman out that Chinese Girl painting everyone had on their walls in the 1970s, alongside (l-r) Wilf 'Gasmask' Grimshaw (gas mask not pictured); Pepe Le Pew; Dom Littlewood and The Singing Ringing Tree.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Eurovision activist arrested

Rasul Jafarov - who used the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest as focus for protests against the shitters who run Azerbaijan - has been arrested:

A prominent human rights campaigner in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan has been arrested and charged with economic crimes amid a new crackdown on dissidents, his lawyer said on Sunday.

A court in the capital Baku on Saturday ordered that Rasul Jafarov be held for three months after prosecutors charged him with tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power, said his laywer.
It's obviously an amusing joke on the part of the Baku government to accuse people of "abuse of power". Like a premiership footballer accusing the team's cleaners of being overpaid.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: One Direction sell a lot of records

It's been a while since we've heard from Gennaro Castaldo, former HMV think-speaker, in his new role as BPI thought-pronouncer. But the Internation Business Times has secured a few words from the great man on the occasion of One Direction selling records:

Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for the music industry trade body BPI, said: "For home-grown talent to have recorded the world's biggest selling album six out of the last seven years is a phenomenal achievement that says a great deal about the popularity of British music around the world.

"Aside from the obvious contribution to British exports, this success underlines the vital role our music and artists play in promoting the appeal of British culture around the world."
I'm not sure the contribution to British exports is that obvious. Isn't most of the One Direction crap sold in shops made overseas and, thus, the band's success is actually harming - rather than helping - the UK's balance of payments? And the CDs sold overseas aren't made in the UK; nor are the downloads normally housed on British servers. There's the intellectual property, of course, but the songwriting and production credits on One Direction are drawn from an admirably wide range of territories, so at best represent money flowing through, but expressly out, of the UK economy.

But, regardless, suggesting that One Direction are - narrowly - a British success is a bit of a fib.

Idolobit: Michael Johns

Michael Johns, an Australian who did fairly well on American Idol, had died.

Johns came 8th in the final of the 2008 season of American Idol. After the competition, he released a couple of albums - Hold Back My Heart sold 20,000 copies in the US; the follow-up Love & Sex wasn't quite as successful as that.

Michael Johns died August 2nd; the cause is believed to be a bloodclot on the ankle.

Homes under the hammer

Coming to the property market: Neverland, Michael Jackson's old home (or Six Flags Xanadu, as it'd have been more appropriate to call it).

It was once a toy town wilderness, complete with carnival rides, artificial lake and a zoo that housed a five-tonne elephant and an orangutan named Patrick.

Now Michael Jackson's famed Neverland Ranch is up for sale for the first time since it was acquired by the King of Pop in 1988 and, despite being valued at $30m (£18m) by California property experts, could sell for between $75m and $85m.

Yes, because who wouldn't want to pay nearly treble the value of an already overpriced house on the off-chance there might be skeletons buried underneath the master bedroom ("for its links to one of the most famous celebrities of the 1980s")?

The funfair has been taken out and replaced with a "zen garden", but they still reckon just upkeep will cost the new owner five million dollars a year.

But there's almost certainly no ghosts of small children haunting the place, so that's an upside.

If the idea of a place where a rich man abused kids and got away with it isn't for you, how about the former home of an angry flying man?

John Denver's Aspen home is on the market:
The main house (6 bedrooms)and the guest house (5 bedrooms)are on two separately deeded lots with separate entrances and driveways but has a lovely walking path between the two featuring the red mountain ditch gurgling along the way.
I think I'd be nervous about anything in the Colorado mountains that has a small stream gurgling away, what with how Colorado floods so easily, but it'd be worth the risk of the views.

This week just gone

Geekystatspecial: Countries which send the most visitors to No Rock & Roll Fun this year:

1. UK
2. US
3. South Korea
4. Norway
5. Canada
6. Germany
7. Australia
8. France
9. Brazil
10. Ireland

(Lets sum that up as "declining popularity in Germany…")

These were this week's interesting releases:

Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

Download The Voyager

The Bluebells - Exile On Twee Street

Loudon Wainwright III - Haven't Got The Blues (Yet)

Download Haven't Got The Blues (Yet)

Andy Bell - Torsten The Bareback Saint

Download Torsten

Anti-Flag - A Document Of Dissent