Saturday, December 20, 2014

Madonna releases new music; the world tries to sound interested

Of course. Of course, Madonna's new stuff is working with Nicki Minaj. It fits the pattern of the last couple of decades where she appears to have a six-month old copy of Billboard delivered (perhaps she has them sent to her via Yodel) and she hooks up with whoever was hot back then.

She couldn't look more like a desperate tourist if she films the video using a selfie stick.

One of the songs is called Bitch I'm Madonna, which does at least manage to release Robbie William's She's Madonna from the long-held shame of 'the worst record with Madonna's name in the title'.

These songs are being released now because of the leak earlier in the week - you'll probably have heard her describe this act as "artistic rape" and being like "terrorism", showing that she's still got the power to be outrageous, just not in a positive way any more. It might seem odd back then these tracks were dismissed by Madge:

She dismissed the leaked versions as "unfinished demos stolen long ago" and thanked fans for their "loyalty" in "not listening" to the unfinished material.
... because now she's describing the same songs as a gift. Apparently they've been finished:
"I was hoping to release my new single 'Living For Love' on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the Spring. I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift."
They're not actually a gift, as to get them officially you have to preorder the album, so it's more of a fire sale. And if they're finished, it's puzzling how many of them don't even have a title.

2014 Forever: January

Starting a presumably twelve part look back over the last year in music.

MTV published a piece about how to pick up women at gigs, because, obviously, that's the only reason there'd be a woman at a gig, right?

Madonna got cross when people suggested kids and gin might not mix. Lady GaGa got cross when people suggested working with R Kelly might have been a mistake. Madonna got even crosser when she used the n-word and people objected.

Lorde told people not to come up with a pun-based nickname for her fans. She also spoke about how she felt having become a public commodity, which Telegraph readers used as an excuse to kick her around a bit.

Alex James attempted to register Britpop as a trademark. He was going to use the brand to sell lemonade. I'm afraid this is true.

The inevitable appearance on Madonna in Miley Cyrus's shadow happened. As did Robbie Williams Day in Stoke.

Tom Morello reckoned his new album is as good as Hendrix. James Arthur reckoned he's not a homophobe any more. Lily Allen reckoned someone offered her nearly all the Bitcoins in the world.

Duran Duran objected to their music being used in a yoghurt ad, but the track was pulled because of its links to a grisly murder anyway.

Ricky Wilson revealed that even he'd been bored shitless by the Kaiser Chiefs.

Brit Awards nominations included Bruno Mars, and that's all you really need to know. The NME Awards shortlist had Palma Violets on it. Daft Punk won all the Grammys. All of them.

Justin Bieber was going through a rough period. Luckily, massage-loving UKIP MEP Roger Helmer was on hand to stick up for him.

Last FM started to look for another business model

Somehow, Kym Marsh found herself having a music career relaunch masterminded by David Gest. Nobody noticed. Probably not even Kym.

Did the world really need a Beatles cover album with Mick Hucknall and The Stereophonics? Not as little as it needed a Hee Haw musical.

TripleJ killed Australian music, apparently.

Liam Payne sent a cheery tweet to the Duck Dynasty gun toting homophobes.

In something of a highlight this year, Alfie Boe fans piled in to explain why his humiliation of people whose phones go off isn't humiliating at all, despite both he and his manager revelling in the poor victims' embarrassment.

Splitting up: Vivian Girls
Launching: Beats streaming service

[Part of 2014 Forever]
[Next: February]

Friday, December 19, 2014

Parklife texts from beyond the grave attract huge fine

The organisers of Parklife Festival came up with a beezer markeing wheeze: why not send texts to people who went last year, warning them that this year's event was selling out fast?

And, hey, why not pretend that the text is coming not from Parklife, but from a trusted source like your mother?

What could possibly go wrong?:

The text was sent to 70,000 people who had bought tickets to last year’s event, and appeared on the recipients’ mobile phone to have been sent by “Mum”. It read:

“Some of the Parklife after parties have already sold out. If your (sic) going, make sure your (sic) home for breakfast! Xxx”.

Many of the 76 people who complained about the message which was sent three weeks before the 2014 festival, suffered substantial distress as a result of the marketing campaign.

One complainant said that their mother had recently passed away and they still had her number saved in the contacts, so to receive a text was extremely distressing – they described the message as “unprofessional and disgusting”.

Another person reported that they had recently lost their mum and were shocked when 'Mum' flashed up as a notification on the mobile screen. They felt so strongly about the situation they sold the tickets and refused to attend the festival.
Parklife have been fined £70,000 for the poorly-conceived stunt - although that's only a quid per text, which seems a little light. Especially since their original response to complaints was to double-down with an equally ill-conceived tweet:
”So this is what it feels like to be a jar of Marmite #LoveItOrHateIt”.
The difference between Parklife's campaign and Marmite being, of course, that some people actually do like Marmite and Marmite has never tried to send messages to people pretending to be a recently deceased relative.

Eventually, the company apologised. And managed to do it without pretending the apology came from your great-grandfather, or the ghost of your first pet, so they are getting better.

Pirate Bay hopes for a full flotilla

Possibly not the Christmas Present the copyright industry was hoping for: The Pirate Bay has released its source code into the open so anyone who fancies running a mini Pirate Bay can do so.

It's a response to Swedish police - acting on behalf of the private companies which control copyrights - closing the site down last week and, therefore, something like the 795th time the music and film industry have learned the lesson that file sharing isn't something you can just send policemen and lawyers to fix.

Listen with No Rock: Karla Adolphe

Here's a small, twinkly piece of Christmas beauty - Karla Adolphe's version of Do You Hear What I Hear. This is one of the Christmas songs that hasn't been done to death, probably because it's not an easy one to sing well. Which makes Karla's version even more brilliant:

If you like Karla Adolphe's voice, there's a whole album's worth of free download magic at her website.

SXSW: Not that America's overly litigious or anything

The death of a person you love because of a drunk driver is a terrible thing. And it's one of those rare occasions when it's easy to apportion blame - the person who got wasted and drove a car into a crowd, right?

Apparently not.

The family of one of the victims of the drunk driver at SXSW is suing, erm, the festival organisers for not making their festival dickwad-in-a-car proof:

Among several wrongful deaths lawsuits was one by the family of Steven Craenmehr, a Dutch music executive who was riding a bike when struck. His widow and mother allege that SXSW organizers skimped on traffic safeguards while packing people downtown to hear more than 2,000 bands.

"A festival organizer or traffic design consultant of ordinary intelligence would have anticipated the danger," the lawsuit says.
Oh, yeah, they're also suing the City Of Austin for not making its streets able to cope with tanked-up drivers.

The courts, naturally, will decide on the validity of this case, but... seriously? Somehow SXSW and the City Of Austin has to wrap the event in so much bubblewrap and prophylactic that they should be able to guarantee that nothing bad will happen there ever?

To lose a relative in awful circumstances is unimaginably horrible. Spitting out a bunch of lawsuits at anyone who happened to be vaguely connected to the death doesn't do much by way of legacy, though.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

On the streets with Bieber*

Apparently, Justin Bieber is to sleep rough to "raise awareness" of how badly his career is going. Although the claim started as a story in UKIP house rag the Daily Star, so probably isn't true.

According to the Daily Star, Biebs' manager Scotter Braun has persuaded him to spend the night outside in the California streets, in aid of homeless charities.

"[Scooter] has been trying to come up with a plan to give Justin's career some longevity," a source told the newspaper.
Aside from the toe-curling aspect of a rich person spending a few hours on a pavement knowing they have a soft, warm bed to return to in the morning - a stunt even pulled by Grant Shapps back when he was still sometimes called Michael Green - it's not entirely clear how 'doing some good work for charidee' is going to offset the erosion of Bieber's career. Unless seeing Bieber sleep under cardboard will somehow stop girls reaching puberty.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kasabian make some plans

For a moment, I thought there was at last a Kasabian statement I could agree with:

Kasabian: 'The next step for us is Wembley'
"They must be at Finchley Road", I thought. "Or possibly Neasden".

Then I read the line again, and realised it was step, not stop.

Ashanti gets cross-examined by her own stalker

In a 'oh, Justice, you have some explaining to do' event, somehow the New York courts allowed Ashanti to wind up being cross-examined by a man already convicted of stalking of her in a trial to see if he was violating the order of protection put in place after that conviction.

So: in order to get the courts to uphold the rules stopping another person from contacting you, the courts decide to give that person a chance to ask you questions under oath in an open court room.

Oh, Justice. You have some explaining to do.

Snapchat gets into music

So if I were to say to you that Snapchat was thinking about getting into the music business, you'd probably do what I did.

Nod your head, and think of something akin to its photo product, where the photo "disappears" after you've shared it. (Of course, it doesn't, because nothing digital leaves no trace, but in theory, anyway.) And you could picture that appealing to record labels, with their constant fear of pirates, pirates everywhere and limited understanding of the digital world.

But you'd be wrong. I was wrong. Snapchat's ambitions are more Empire-building than a mere app:

Mobile messaging service Snapchat could be formulating plans to launch its own music label, according to information in leaked Sony emails.

Reported correspondence between Sony's president of global digital business, Dennis Kooker, reveal that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has dreams of being a curator.

While a music service isn't on the cards, a record label "so [Spiegal] could focus on the artists that he wants to use the platform to promote," could well be.
Yeah. Snapchat don't want to launch a service, they want to launch a label.

What a terrible idea. But perhaps, at last, Spiegel has found a way to create something digital that will vanish almost instantly, leaving no trace at all.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Noel Gallagher: Class act

Noel Gallagher - you'll remember him, he used to appear in that glitzy gossipy Sunday Times column written by his then-wife Meg Matthews about their life in whatever part of London it was - is complaining that there aren't enough working class types in the charts these days. He blames other people:

"Music is very middle class, I’d have eaten Bastille alive in an afternoon in the '90s, one interview, destroyed, gone, never to be heard of again. Easy, had ‘em for breakfast. My bass player summed it up, we’re constantly saying, 'Where is the next band coming from?' and he rightly says, 'Never mind the band, where are the people?'

"When I first started I wanted to get in the charts and wreck it, like stamp Phil Collins out and Wet Wet Wet, they've got to go, and all that '80s gear, we don't need that anymore. I don't see anything from the working class, I just don’t see it."
Ah, yes. Gallagher's war on Wet Wet. So successful that was that, after just three Oasis albums and three years of Gallagher activity, Wet Wet Wet's 1997 album 10 only managed to limp to, erm, number two in the album charts spawning just two top ten singles. And the destroyed Phil Collins only managed to sell a million copies of 2002's Testify so much damage had been inflicted upon him by Gallagher's sharp tongue.

Apparently, this is all the Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian's fault:
"Well you only have to look at the charts, what happened at the end of the '90s, all those bands used to be in the Top Ten, like us, Manic, Pulp, The Verve, Suede and Blur, and I think bands like that have been marginalised and side-lined," he replied. "There's X Factor and all that kind of thing, can you name me the last great band that came out of this country? There's not really been any great bands in the last 10 years."

When it was put to him that One Direction might be considered great in terms of their global success and fame, Gallagher added: "They're not a band, they’re a group and good luck to those lads. Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian, that's ten years ago now and shame on those two bands for a start because they didn't inspire anybody else. The working classes have not got a voice anymore, there doesn't seem to be a noise coming from the council estates, you know what I mean?"
It doesn't seem to enter Noel's head for a moment that there are other possibilities - that for kids growing up now, making fifth-wave Beatles echoes might not be inspiring because there are other, better uses of their time; or that there's always been a talent-show-to-fame path that working class people have followed and the X Factor isn't really anything new in that respect; or there's actually a really vibrant music scene full of people of backgrounds less comfortable than Gallagher's which he doesn't think is there because it's neither about him, nor for him. (Clue, Noel: it's the latter.)

The saddest thing - and were he not such an anal chapstick you might even feel a bit sorry for Noel - is that he's sat on his comfy sofa, reliving the war on Phil Collins, blissfully unaware than for a a kid turning 16 this year, he's their Phil Collins.