Saturday, January 17, 2015

Brits 2015: Ordinary people

On Thursday night, the Brit Awards shortlist was announced, packed full of reasonable-sounding people making pleasant enough tunes, I guess. There's so much prospect of Sam Smith waltzing away with armfuls of prizes on the night - Best Okayish Album of the Year; You Could Probably Introduce Him To Your Mother of 2014; Brightest Hope of Smiling Photo Op With Whoever Wins The Election Probably At A Youth Club Or Something; he may even get the Look There's No Soul There At All Which Equals Success prize, the big one of the night.

Here's the shortlists in full:

British Album

Alt-J – This Is All Yours

Ed Sheeran – X

George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage

Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

British Single

Calvin Harris – Summer

Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne – Rather Be

Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones – I Got U

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Ella Henderson – Ghost

George Ezra – Budapest

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Route 94 featuring Jess Glynne – My Love

Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Sigma – Nobody To Love

British Breakthrough Artist


FKA Twigs

George Ezra

Royal Blood

Sam Smith

British Female Solo Artist

Lily Allen

Paloma Faith

Ella Henderson

FKA Twigs

Jessie Ware

British Male Solo Artist

Damon Albarn

George Ezra

Paolo Nutini

Ed Sheeran

Sam Smith

British Video

Calvin Harris – Summer

Charlie XCX – Boom Clap

Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones – I Got U

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

One Direction – You And I

Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

Route 94 featuring Jess Glynne – My Love

Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Sigma – Nobody To Love

British Producer


Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory

Paul Epworth

Jake Gosling

International Female Solo Artist


Lana Del Ray


St. Vincent

Taylor Swift

International Group

5 Seconds of Summer

Black Keys

First Aid Kit

Foo Fighters

The War On Drugs

International Male Solo Artist



Jack White

John Legend

Pharrell Williams

Critics’ Choice Award
James Bay

In a statement released shortly after the announcement of the shortlists, someone from the BPI apologised for the appearance of Lily Allen, Coldplay, Beck and Damon Albarn on the shortlists. "We reused an old form for typing these things up, and I don't think we quite deleted all the old items from the word doc - we did catch Duran Duran before we hit save, which is at least something."

The Brit Awards will be presented by Joe Pasquale and Bradley Walsh sooner than is comfortable for any of us. The best we can hope is that Taylor Swift will turn up.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Black Crowes split

Upsetting news for people who never got out of 1996: The Black Crowes have split up. Guitarist Rich Robinson broke the news:

"It is with great disappointment and regret that after having the privilege of writing and performing the music of the Black Crowes over the last 24 years, I find myself in the position of saying that the band has broken up," Robinson said in a statement.

"I hold my time with the Black Crowes with the utmost respect and sincerest appreciation. It is a huge swath of my life's body of work. I couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished and deeply moved by the relationships people created and maintained with my music.

"That alone is the greatest honor of being a musician. I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100 percent of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to."
Financial markets are unaffected by the news; David Cameron claims this would never have happened if we just let him read everyone's emails.

Svengaliobit: Kim Fowley

Kim Fowley, the man who brought together Joan Jett and Sandy West to form The Runaways, has died.

Fowley had survived polio in childhood. He attempted a solo career, but it was as producer, writer and general mover-and-shaker that he made his name. He worked with everyone - Lennon, Modern Lovers, Helen Reddy, but The Runaways were his finest hour. After they stopped working together in 1977, Fowley tried to recreate the magic with a number of other acts, but never quite got the formula right in the same way.

More recently, he tried his hand in the movies as well as keeping his hand in the music world.

Clem Burke issued a statement:

"Kim was a great and often misunderstood individual. When Blondie first came to Hollywood Kim was one of the legends we wanted to meet. We did meet him at the Tropicana motel and became friends. I had the privilege of sitting next to Kim at a screening at SXSW of the Runaways film. When it ended, I turned to Kim and told him he was the hero of the film. He seemed happy to hear that."

Fowley had recently been receiving treatment for cancer. He was 75. And he co-wrote this, with Joan Jett:

Embed and breakfast man: Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great's S EP is getting closer... it's due out on the 27th. Here's one taste of it:

Davedeedozybeakymickandtitchobit: Trevor Ward-Davies

Trevor Ward-Davies, bassist (and 'Dozy') with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch, has died.

In many ways, Ward-Davies was the key member of the band, having signed up various members of other Salisbury bands to join a group that was first The Beatnicks, then Dave Dee And The Bostons, and finally Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch. The new name, and the comedy nicknames, were added to the mix by the managers - Ward-Davies became Dozy after he attempted to eat a wrapper rather than a chocolate bar. In the 1960s, that got you a nickname. In 2015, you'd just get a 'U okay hun' meme.

He suffered for his art, getting teeth knocked out during a performance on Ready Steady Go. The band enjoyed four years of solid success, including the number one Legend Of Xanadu before Dave Dee headed off for a solo career.

Ward-Davies had sometimes provided lead vocals on album tracks, so it wasn't a total stretch for the band to carry on as the slightly easier to type Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch. They continued to work and tour, splitting for a while in 1972 and reforming in the 80s, gently moving from creating new material to becoming an early fixture on the nostalgia circuit. A second wind reunion saw Dave Dee return to the fold, staying with the band until his death in 2009.

Trevor Ward-Davies was 70; he died 13th January, 2015 after a short illness.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Amputee time: First amongst others

Once again, a piece on Viktoria Modesta describes her as

Viktoria Modesta: the world’s first amputee pop star
It's still not right, though.

And not just because it might be a little early to describe Modesta as a popstar.

A letter in the current Private Eye reminds us of Victor Moulton, drummer with the Barbarians, who had lost a hand to an accident with explosives.

Ella Fitzgerald had her knees amputated below the knee in 1993, although this was pretty much after she had stopped performing in public. Sarah Bernhardt, arguably the prototype popstar, had a leg amputated after an onstage accident and carried on performing.

Over in New York, Isle is building a career which is just as solid as Viktoria's.

Tony Iommi carried on in Black Sabbath despite having lost part of his finger.

Now, you could argue all these cases are edge, or obscure, or not-quite-pop-star enough, or maybe even not amputee enough.

But... what about Rick Allen? Continued drumming for Def Leppard after losing an arm in a car crash, drumming his way onto Hysteria and selling over 20 million records.

It's great that Viktoria is doing well, and the support for her is to be welcomed. And, yes, although she might not be the first, pulling together a list of amputee pop stars shows that she's still amongst the first, nearly 100 years after Sarah Bernhardt. But if one of her main messages is about visibility, probably doesn't help to write the other pioneers out of history.

Taylor Swift rises to the surface

You might think that Taylor Swift fans registering votes for Shake It Off as best song of 2014 in Triple J's end of year poll as 'sabotage'.

Others may think it's simply a correction.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Allo Darlin

Allo Darlin went to KEXP and did a live set. It's lovely, and it's here:

Sam Smith is right

Sam Smith, talking to Chaka Khan, reveals a terrible truth about modern music:

Even when you meet them. I won’t name names, but some of these pop stars are just awful. And they have not even had half the success that you’ve had and yet you’re so humble and kind.
Yes, they're awful and arrogant and based on very short-term success, modern pop stars. You're right, modern pop star Sam Smith. You're so right.

Sarah Brightman is actually doing this space thing

There was, a couple of years back, a bit of murmuring that Sarah Brightman was going to go into space.

She is actually going to go into space:

Itar-Tass quoted an unnamed Star City representative as saying Brightman would arrive on Wednesday and start her training the following day. The training routine typically runs for weeks. Brightman is due to be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on Sept. 1 in the company of two professional spacefliers.
It's possible that I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper was a true story. Or something.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Surprise: Michelle Keegan reckons she can have a go at being a pop star

Since the length of metal pipe put paid to any chance of a return to Corrie, Michelle Keegan is considering her options and it seems like her people are testing the idea of some sort of pop career by talking to The Sun:

"A fair few record label people are interested in singing her already and she's thinking long and hard about it," an insider told The Sun.

"[People] will be surprised to hear how good her voice is," they added.
It's not entirely clear why people would be "surprised", as if 'playing a barmaid' and 'being able to hold a note long enough to be autotuned' are two states that it is impossible to imagine existing in the same person.

That doesn't, of course, make it a good idea.

After all, Keegans famous in one field trying to shift that into a chart career don't have the greatest track record, do they?

Doowopobit: Curtis Lee

Curtis Lee has died.

He had a short career, helping launch the Dunes label with the Phil Spector produced Pretty Little Angel Eyes. A top ten hit in the US, he then stalled outside the top 40 with a follow-up, Under The Moon Of Love. Five further flops more-or-less made it clear he'd be better off dropping music and heading back to the family building business.

Curtis Lee was 75; he had been unwell with cancer for some time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Justin Meh-bier

With thanks to the lovely people of Tumblr.

This week just gone

As this is the first one of the year, here's the ten most-read pieces of content for the whole of 2014:

1. RIP: Jon Fat Beast
2. That last Mark & Lard show
3. Simon Bates dumped by Smooth radio
4. KT Tunstall reckons she knows why people think she's gay
5. Video: Le Prince Miaou
6. Liveblog: Brits 2014
7. Aremnia's Eurovision entrant is kinda transphobic
8. Jo O'Meara not sorry about being boorish, racist
9. Scott Stapp gets married
10. Noel Gallagher's secret gay past

And the most popular 2014-published content:

1. RIP: Jon Fat Beast
2. Simon Bates dumped by Smooth radio
3. Liveblog: Brits 2014
4. Aremnia's Eurovision entrant is kinda transphobic
5. Liveblog: Eurovision
6. Allan Jones leaves Uncut
7. Terry Christian has interesting thoughts about disabled people
8. It's hard to believe how popular cassettes are
9. Why is there a U2 album on my computer?
10. Alfie Boe is a bit of an asshat

These were the interesting releases back in a week before Christmas:

Emily Barker - Photos Fires Fables

Download Photos Fires Fables

Various - Lead Kindly Light: Pre-War Music and Photographs from the American South