Saturday, February 07, 2015

What the pop papers say: Toffs

The New Statesman which, erm, went off the newstands yesterday (No Rock & Roll Fun - last with the news) splashed the Blunt/Bryant 'posh people in the arts' story all over the cover, with contributions from Stuart Maconie and Robert Webb, and - more interestingly - some actual people who make music giving their perspectives.

Johnny Marr actually tried to shift the debate from background to the actual music world; record companies no longer sign up young bands with a view to long-term investment, and:

The worst part of this is the 'pay to play' culture [which] means bands have to hand over cash for 50 or more tickets or pay for whatever tickets they haven't sold, leaving many of them lose heart.
This is what's happening to young musicians all over the UK, and it doesn't matter what school you went to or what your parent's background is.
Marr is furiously committed to this idea - that background isn't important; it seems partly driven by a desperation to prove that his success wasn't aided by coming from a working-class background when that was supposed to open doors at record company offices.

But it misses the point by a Morrissey and a half - if the only way you can get gigs when you're 18, 19, 20 is by effectively bribing the venue to let you play; if your time 'paying your dues' also involves paying out hard cash, of course the family you come from is significant.

It's not just that coming from a cosier background means a parent might feel willing to dip into the Spanish villa fund to make up shortfalls on ticket sales but also the amount of time families can invest in, say, driving young musicians to rehearsal or a gig. Come to that, if you're growing up in a house which has a large garage to rehearse in, you might have a brick-built advantage over a kid with same amount of raw talent living in a two bed maisonette with neighbours who pound the walls the third time you try to work out a new song.

In sport, there's a suggestion that nurturing the success of a talented youngster can consumer about 12% of family resources; there's no reason why auditions and guitar strings are any less onerous demands than competition and racquet restringing.

You ain't no Shirley Bassey

Is there anything more likely to turn your whole body in on itself than the sight of those adverts movie companies place trying to get votes from Oscars judges?

Oh, hang on, there is. A new level of cringe:

I don't think they choose the Bond theme that way, Paloma.

Rule of thumb: If a medium won't work when you post 'OMG HARRY STYLES MARRY ME', it probably isn't the best place to audition for a high profile job. Except that time Mark Carney did '@georgeosborne I could so be Bank Boss have got new calculater ;)'

Friday, February 06, 2015

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Looking at Kim Sears' chest

The appearance of Kim Sears at Andy Murray's Australian Open final wearing a Parental Advisory shirt (following being caught on camera swearing like a Gamergater spotting a feminist) was a good joke.

And what do you do with a good joke? Why, you analyse to death. Hence, the BBC used the shirt as a leaping-off point for a piece about the Parental Advisory logo.

And who better to share a thought or two about something music-related than Gennaro Castaldo, once HMV's homme de pensee, now installed on the South Bank as BPI's thought monarch:

But Gennaro Castaldo from the BPI admits that the label can undermine its own purpose. "Yes, there is that badge of honour aspect to it," he says. "The impulse behind it is to make parents and consumers aware of the content but it does have a dual effect - after all we've all been teenagers driven by a need to be anti-establishment and anti-parents. That's not going to change."
It makes you wonder what Gennaro's anti-establishment teenage years were like - sticking out press releases without notes for editors, perhaps. "Screw you mom, screw you dad, I'm not going to indicate where more follows and there's not a thing you can do about it."

I'm not sure Gennaro's statement makes much sense - if parents are seeing a sticker and going 'ooh, this is a rude record, I shall not buy it' and teenagers are seeing a sticker and going 'ooh this is a rude record, I shall buy it', I don't think that's a dual effect; it's alerting both sets of passers-by that there is a rude record on sale.

Obviously Gennaro knows in his heart that most teenagers will see a CD carrying a parental advisory sticker not in a shop as they go about making music purchases, but as they go through their parent's record collection going 'so you had to put these in, what, a BluRay machine? Is that how it worked?'

To be fair, not all youngsters wouldn't recognise a disc if it was sharpened to a point and used to slice their modish beards off. There's the subset of The Kids buying vinyl, and it was this "trend" thatsaw the Telegraph seeking Castaldo's counsel. What's going on, asked the Telegraph:
Vinyl-record sales are booming, too. Last year they hit an estimated 1.2 million – the highest for 20 years, and a five-fold increase since 2008. Threatened by seemingly superior technologies, the old discs seemed headed for extinction, but – as with books – it is the “soul” of vinyl that has been its salvation.

In particular, fans like the covers – once an art genre in their own right and now being rediscovered by a new generation. “They are one of the key reasons people are buying vinyl again,” says Gennaro Castaldo of the British Phonographic Industry. “They help to transform a record into an artefact fans like to own and collect.”
Yeah. What Castaldo doesn't warn The Kids is that when they come to move out of their parent's homes, the purchase of vinyl is going to add boxes and boxes of weight to every time they shift from house to house in the future. Good luck with that, The Kids.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Katy Perry surprised to discover nine year-old doesn't have much idea about music industry

Katy Perry always dreamed of being a brand releasing celebrity-endorsed perf... hang on, I mean pop star, don't I?

Katy Perry always dreamed of being a pop star. Yet, she tells Elle with a note of wonder, it's not like she thought it would be:

On being a pop star in today's society: "It is a hundred times harder a dream than the dream that I dreamt when I was 9 . . . You think you signed up for one thing, but you automatically sign up for a hundred others. And that is why you see people shaving their f*cking heads."
Whoever would have thought that a nine year-old might imagine an adult world that isn't quite aligned with how the world actually works. There's probably a bunch of people stood in train cabs this morning going 'when I was seven, I'm pretty certain I expected trains to have faces and pretty much I'd spend my time shovelling coal into a hole'.

Perry also talks about the Superbowl:
We love this opportunity, but once you decide you're gonna do the Super Bowl, you're gonna have no f*cking life for six months. It is the biggest thing. Anyone that's ever done it has been scared sh*tless. You stay off the Internet for the five days afterward.
The Super Bowl was, actually, five days ago and, given the lead times for Elle to publish, it's surprising she's able to say what she did for five days after an event which wouldn't have happened at the time she was talking.

By far the strangest thing though is Perry's suggestion that Adele might not know how many Mexican restaurants there are in London:
"Adele is so real and couldn't care less about the trappings of fame. She came to a show at the Hammersmith Apollo in England and stole my after-show burrito. She's like [heavy British accent], 'How the f*ck did you get a burrito in England?'"
Wahaca? Chipotle? Cantina Laredo? Daddy Donkey? Benito's Hat? Or maybe someone just bought a tortilla, beans and some cheese from any supermarket anywhere?

Thank Christ Perry wasn't eating a cactus taco; Adele would probably have assumed she'd been kidnapped and woken up in Cabo San Lucas.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Azealia Banks: Having a vagina makes it impossible to be a homophobe

The second story in a row about a straight person explaining why their apparent homophobia doesn't count. It is still 2015, right?

This time, its Azealia Banks - the most-successful pop star with a name that sounds like a dementia care home - who got caught in a Twitter row with a Vice writer. The whole thing is rather grim, but boils down to this:

You gay bloggers try waving the homophobia flag like at me like women are not the original source of all things fabulous feminine and clever. I own all this.
Hidden in there is an argument that suggests that it's alright to use "twink" as a term of abuse, if you're a woman, because they're feminized men and so that femininity belongs to women.

Yes, I know. I know. But here's where what is merely incoherent becomes quite incredible:
do you know that I am woman and I invented everything feminine? Including giving birth to gay men?
I've checked wikipedia twice now, and can't see the names of Azealia Banks' gay children, and I'm pretty certain her given age of 23 makes the invention of everything feminine unlikely.

Look, I don't think any of us have the energy to raise the questions about the confusion of gender, the stereotyping of gay sexuality, or even the suggestion that possession of a vagina makes it impossible for charges of homophobia to stick.

Anyway, Banks has now moved on to a spot of whiteface, and some more considered thoughts on modern queer politics:
Gay media has to stop using homophobia as a means to try and victimize itself and scar the names of its opponents… Phobia would imply that I am scared of gay men or dislike them because of what they choose to do sexually… I promise, no one gives a f*ck what u decide to do in your private lives. But I also promise, that no matter how bitchy and clever you think you are.. That I will out-bitch you… But I’m just going to ignore yall from here on out cause YALL are really just reaching and looking for any reason to insert ur selves In the Azealia Banks story.
No, Azealia. Nobody is trying to insert themselves into your narrative. They just wish it wasn't constantly entwining with their own.

All That Remains: There's no reason for anyone to worry about 'faggot'

All That Remains, very much the part of the late-era dwindling Limp Bizkit clone scene (now well into its Carry On Columbus years) is led by Phil Labonte. He doesn't understand why people have a problem with him chucking the word 'faggot' about:

Wiederhorn asked Labonte about his use of homophobic slurs, specifically, his use of the word “faggot” in 2011 and his 2005 declaration that PC, or political correctness, “is for faggots.”

“I have nothing against gay people,” Labonte said. Referring to the f word, he said, “It’s just a word.” The singer, who is white, said he believes no one besides African-Americans has a right to complain about slanderous language.

“Honestly, I think the only people that have a legit grievance when it comes to any racial slurs is the black community,” Labonte said. “I know the homosexual community has problems with it and I understand their hurt feelings. But homosexuals were never property. They’ve had a rough time and I’m not trying to minimize that, but I think the black community has a whole lot more room to be upset about a word than the LGBT community.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘This guy said something and it hurt my feelings and it bummed me out and it sucks.’ Okay, that’s a good perspective. But I don’t know that you need a whole social movement.

“When it comes to the shit that black people have gone through I think it’s okay to be like, ‘Well you know, that was seriously fucked up.’ We need to do something about this.”
It's always nice to hear a white, middle-class, straight man taking time out of his busy career to draw up a list of which marginalised groups have legitimate grievances and which don't.

A spokesperson for all the gays, lesbian, bi, pan and genderqueer people issued a statement in response: "It's obviously disappointing that centuries of violent repression isn't enough to get us approved as having a genuine grievance but obviously Labonte's opinion is compelling. If, for him, the extermination of gay people in Nazi death camps; incidents such as the beating to a slow death of gay men like Ritch Dowrey; 54 countries at the UN having officially signed up as being against LGBT rights; and the findings by Amnesty that lawyers and other supporters of equality are routinely hassled - if all that isn't enough for our grievances to be valid in his eyes, well, fair enough."

All gay pride marches have been cancelled in favour of All That Remains gigs for the foreseeable future.

Speedy Ortiz: This is how you launch an album

New album from Speedy Ortiz is called Foil Deer, and it's out at the end of April. But - more importantly - their press release takes the form of a comic from Michael DeForge:

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Ukrainobit: Andriy 'Kuzma' Kuzmenko

Andriy Kuzmenko, leader of Ukranian band Skryabin, has died following a car accident.

Starting his first band at the age of 15, Kuzma brought Skryabin together in Novoyavorivsk in 1989. They were the pioneers of Ukranian electronic pop (although across their career they would dabble with darkwave).

It's impossible for anyone with a profile in Ukraine to avoid being political. Kuzma was firmly on the side first of the Green Party, then of the Winter Generation Team. He would later explain away his support of Viktor Yanukovych in 2004 as having happened under duress.

More recently, Kuzmenko played in support of the EuroMaidan movement - although he attempted an awkward position supporting "the people but not the opposition".

Andriy Kuzmenko was 46; he died Frebruary 2nd.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Placebo cuts Forrest

Placebo have - somewhat close-by the upcoming UK tour - parted ways with Steve Forrest, who has been drumming with them since 2008.

It's an amicable split (they say) and he's going to pursue his own musical projects (he reckons); the drum stool will now be occupied by Matt Lunn, late of Colour Of Fire.

Music popular-ish on YouTube

MusicAlly has done some analysis of what's popular on YouTube:

The headline stat is that music accounted for 62 of the top 250 channels ranked by annual views in 2014, with 43 of those falling under the Vevo banner.
In other words, music doesn't dominate YouTube, but it is mostly significant, but what really thrives are channels run by the big labels.

This is quite interesting:
Also notable: the low ranking for some of the traditional stars of social/digital media: Justin Bieber had the 43rd most popular YouTube channel in 2014 – admittedly a quiet year for him musically – while Lady Gaga was 158th and Britney Spears 203rd.
Although I think that says more about what MusicAlly thinks is happening on social media (All three stars are long past their buzz stage, surely?)

The Daily Mail tells you all you need to know about the Superbowl

In the Mail's rss feed this morning:

Katy Perry's Super Bowl half-time performance leads to Internet memes
The words "with crushing inevitability" were excised for brevity.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Good news for Sly Stone

A court has awarded Sly Stone five million dollars in lost royalties.

Let's just hope his former lawyer and manager held on to the cash so they can give it back...

Tom Araya tells Fucking Slayer Gang to fuck off

You know what? When you're bullying the wife of the leader of the band you claim to be supporting, you might have lost your way a little:

"Hi. This is Tom Araya, and I'd like to talk to you about something that has recently spiraled out of control.

"I hate to blame an entire group for the actions of a few.

"There is a group on Facebook that associate themselves with my band, SLAYER, Claiming to be fans, they made up a sign that they use to represent themselves as SLAYER fans. They call themselves Fucking Slayer Gang, [or] FSG. They came into existence about eight months ago and had approached my wife, Sandra, under the guise of a family asking for support and if she would ask me if I would also show support by throwing the SLAYER hand sign that they had come up with.

"After a few months had passed, my wife did not like how this group was managing their Facebook page and decided it was best to leave their group and all other groups she was part of. The conduct that this group was showing, and has shown, is distasteful, rude and disrespectful to all SLAYER and metal fans.

"Now, I [flashed] this sign [for a photo] in support for my wife, who later told me that it was not a good idea to associate with this group or sign, that they were cyberbullies and that they would attack anyone who questioned their motives, and have even gone as far as attacking my wife publicly on SLAYER fan pages and metal fan pages.

"It has come to our attention that they have taken liberties with the photo of myself and my wife [throwing] the so-called 'SLAYER sign' by posting these pictures and claiming our support. Well, I'm here to say that it's not true. We do not support this gang or such behavior.

"The metal community is a growing community of loyal fans, not only to the bands that they support, but to each other.

"Thank you."
This is Tom from Slayer saying that you're overstepping a line. It's a bit like the Krays suggesting you tone down the violence,

This week just gone

The most-read stories from last month, and therefore also most-read stories from the year so far:

1. Brits 2015: The shortlist
2. Dears force Deers to become Hinds
3. RIP: Kim Fowley
4. Spotify coming to your Playstation
5. America refuses entry to Girl Band
6. One of Westlife now sells coffee in lay-bys
7. Sara Lowes has a limited edition
8. Michelle Keegan is going to have a go at being a pop star
9. Calvin Klein is now your grandmother
10. RIP: Yao Beina

These were this week's interesting new releases:

The Charlatans - Modern Nature

Download Modern Nature

Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass

Download Natalie Prass

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis - The Third

Download The Third