Saturday, May 23, 2015

Liveblog: Eurovision 2015

It's less than an hour to go until Eurovision starts, and that - on past form - means we're only about six hours of bilingual vaudeville until someone actually sings a song.

Tonight is Eurovision 60, which I find puzzling as it feels like this is at least the ninetieth Eurovision liveblog I've done - the first was when Napoleon won with Able Was I, Ere I Saw Elba which of course went on to be number one for around fifteen years.

The most recent was last year, which was won by Conchita Wurst who has enjoyed the full fruits of victory - a position as an answer on every light-hearted year-end quiz; a return for this year's performance; and the angry glowers of fellow countrypeople who are having to fund the 2015 competition from money they could be spending dubbing Family Guy into German.

It's perhaps just as well that Ireland were knocked out at the semi-final stage; given the sheer joy in the country at voting to tell the Pope to go screw himself ("in favour of same-gender marriage") if they also won Eurovision it's possible they'd never stop trilling with joy.

We'll be back as things get underway - in the meantime, there's this:

While everyone's getting excited about the appearance of Australia in this year's event - I KNOW THEY'RE NOT EVEN IN EUROPE IT'S CRAZY WHATEVER NEXT WILL IT BE LIKE MEXICO OR ATLANTIS OH MY SIDES OH MY DAYS AMIRITE? - let's instead spare a thought for the nation who'll be sat at home, flicking mournfully through the events muttering "could have been us" - Liechtenstein, who were going to debut this year but... couldn't afford it:
1 FL TV, the national broadcaster of the Principality of Liechtenstein has confirmed to that Liechtenstein will not be participating at the forthcoming 2015 Eurovision Song Contest next May in Austria.

1 FL TV informed that it has no plans to join the EBU at the moment, thus excluding the possibility of participating at the Eurovision Song Contest next year. The broadcaster did state that they are interested in competing in the Eurovision Song Contest, thus we might seen the tiny state enter the competition in the near future.

1 FL TV’s Head of Television Programmes Mr. Petr Kolben informed ESCToday:

We are interested in participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, but at the moment we have to evaluate the costs of the EBU membership. It is very unlikely we will participate in Austria next year.
Maybe they should do a gofundme for next time?

Also not taking part tonight is Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, who didn't gain enough support in the semis with this:

I suspect that if they'd made it to the wider vote tonight, they'd have done a lot better but the restricted franchise of semi-final voters are a lot less forgiving of noise rock.

Nick Knowles is doing a Who Dares Wins Eurovision special. Dana and Cheryl Baker are trying to remember as many Eurovision winners as they can - which should be easy for them as they only ever appear on TV programmes with other Eurovision winners.

There's a musical guest at the lottery draw - because one thing tonight is short of is bad music - in the shape of Rixton. Or Micky Pearce Does Pop Idol.

Gaby Roslin and Rixton very excited they "wrote for the album as well". One song. And I suspect it's a co-writing credit.

BBC trailing the FA Cup before Eurovision. Apparently the FA Cup is like Eurovision for dull people.

"With strobe lighting, this is London calling Vienna..."

Ooh, are they doing it outdoors? Or have they just shoved the classical musicians out in the tent?

"The longest contest to date" warns Graham Norton. Twenty seven acts. Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up glue sniffing.

A lot of circle-related prelude stuff right now. That's the theme of the evening. Looks a bit like a bunch of rejected ideas for BBC One idents.

"These bubbles are about to morph into a very large ball" announces Graham. We've all been there.

The ball turns out to be the giant thing that used to follow Patrick McGoohan around Portmerrion.

It's very red. Until Conchita appears from a hole in the ground wearing metallic lilac. Was this last year's winning song? Everyone remembers Conchita, but... her song? Hmm...

The Sugababes take the stage pretending to be the local hosts, while Conchita ascends to heaven. Do all Eurowinners perform an ascension on the day their year as winner ends?

And of course it's the Vienna Boy's Choir turning up now.

Someone else has popped up now. Imagine if Will I Am and Jamiroquoi had a kid. Yeah. That terrifying.

We're introducing all the countries. They do this in the Olympics, but the Olympics doesn't have to be finished in three and a half hours. DO SOME SONGS.

Not the song done by Jam.I.Am, though.

Forty countries going to vote, too. Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up heroi... hang on, I haven't given up heroin, have I? Where's my heroin?

In other news, next door are having a barbecue only it smells more like that they've accidentally set fire to their shed. Photos if the fire brigade show up.

They've done a thing on "our social media platforms" with people "building bridges". Cue two minutes of poorly-filmed, compressed to buggery Euro-optimism.

They're meant to be cute but actually look a bit violent - a Russian waterboarding a Turk; someone else throwing paper angrily across the continent at someone else. A lot of tossing of water in people's faces.

"A very good-humoured competition this year" says Graham. We'll see how good-humoured it is when Cyprus are giving twelve points to Greece.

This year the event is being shown live in China, although there it is called "Western Decadence In Its Most Extreme Ugly Form 2015".

There's an app for voting with. It's like living in the future, isn't it? If, say, you're looking from the perspective of 1998.

First song:
Slovenia Maraaya "Here for You"

She's wearing massive, ugly headphones. Dr Dre product placement.

What is with the headphones? Is she trying to drown out her own song? She does seem to be singing to a totally different tune, so maybe she's got some completely different backing track in there.

Things can only get better from here.

Nigel Kennedy on piano, also wearing massive headphones.

Good work by the wind machine people, I guess.

France: Lisa Angell "N'oubliez pas"
Don't Forget. A song named after a notepad you might stick on the fridge.

Lisa is stood in front of a backdrop of some sort of natural disaster.
The backdrop is behind some sort of musical disaster.

It's all a little grim. Like, in some alternate history, Vichy France had chosen to enter the contest.

This song actually smells of Gitanes.

A bunch of drummers have turned up wearing apparent flesh-coloured bodysuits.

Israel: Nadav Guedj "Golden Boy"
From the title is sounds like it could be a Miss Kittin cover, but we're not going to be that lucky, are we?

It's hard to tell with the lighting, but it could be Gary Barlow. Maybe his tax exile status has got out of hand?

Oh, the lights have got better and he looks less like Barlow, more like Mike and/or Bernie Winters. And if either of them did a rap, it'd probably sound like this.

Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa "Goodbye to Yesterday"
Stig is apparently a big deal in Estonia; he's got a bit of a flop to his hair. Max Beasley with a dash of former Communist steel.

Elina stands behind him, singing like a divorce is about to happen in a 1970s Play For Today.

They're a nice couple, but the song is a bit weak.

United Kingdom: Electro Velvet "Still in Love with You"
On ITV, they're claiming Britain's Got Talent. BBC One is expensively disproving that.

Remember, at the moment they have no points. This may be true by the end of the night, too.

On BBC news earlier, the bloke from the band had a look on his face like someone had just sent him a link to Jive Bunny.

I suppose if each nation has a lot of Bugsy Malone fans, there might be a chance of making it to the top half of the table.

But the stuff to make the dress light up ruined the way the fabric hung.

Armenia: Genealogy "Face the Shadow"
Possibly the worst name for a band ever. Who do they think they are?

The concierge from a budget hotel and the world's least stagey dominatrix plod through a ballad in a forest.

Hang on, there's a bunch of the S&M D&D fans. Norton suggested Game Of Thrones; it's a bit closer to fanfic Merlin.

And an angry bloke with a beard. Where did he come from?

Lithuania Monika Linkytė & Vaidas Baumila "This Time"
Monika killed all the birds whose corpses she is currently wearing.

She'd have been great, but the bloke who has turned up with her is a bit of a buzzkill. It's like you thought you were going to be on a date, and she arrived and said "do you mind, I've bought my mate with me..."

Oh, god, they kissed. I suspect this whole event might have been a plot by Vaidas to get to snog Monika.

I fed the cats during Serbia. Sorry, Serbia:
Serbia - Bojana Stamenov "Beauty Never Lies"
Sounded alright as I went through the room looking for a missing kitten.

Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett "A Monster Like Me"
What is with the girl-and-boy pairings this year? Mostly with the girl appearing over the shoulder of the boy at the end of the first chorus.

Neither of them appear to be monsters, despite the title of the song. They're probably just misunderstood.

The song itself sounds like something Lloyd-Webber knocked out quickly to bring the curtain down at the end of the first act.

An hour in. This means some people get commercials, and the rest of us get to see entertainment die. These sequences are probably the strongest argument for abolishing the licence fee.

Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw "Heroes"
No. Not the Bowie one. Although I'd like to see if you could pull off that.

Norton says "electro-folk", but doesn't make it sound like the warning it should be. Like shrugging and saying "yeah, that's horribly radioactive, maybe shouldn't be holding that..."

Oh! He's the guy with the imaginary little friend. And some fake rain.

"We are the heroes of our time" he sings. Although that's setting the bar pretty low, isn't it?

Not that keen on the song, but have a strange urge to find out if Pepsi have just launched a new variant.

Also, the first contestant to pull off wet-look trousers tonight. Or maybe he's just wet himself.

Sidenote: Mans believes that being gay is a "deviation", so he can fuck right off. (He claims it was a 'miscommunication', as homphobes tend to when called on it.)

Cyprus: John Karayiannis "One Thing I Should Have Done"
The manager of your local building society is having a go at being a pop star. The song's not great but he does have the power to grant up to 97% loan-to-value, so be kind to him.

"I broke your heart/now mine's broken too." You've only got yourself to blame, chum.

Now... Australia
Australia: Guy Sebastian "Tonight Again"
Oh, Guy's dressed like a cricketer on an early morning pre-Test series photocall.

Apparently, if they win, we don't go to Australia next year, but the Australians get to choose which country will host. That's disappointing.

There's some fist-bumps on stage; the song might work if it was being done by an S Club 7.

Belguim: Loïc Nottet "Rhythm Inside"
The son of the chair of the Governors meets The Tomorrow People.

Oh, he's having a lie-down.

This is the best song so far tonight. But it's not a Eurovision winning song.

(It might actually be a Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson song.)

Austria: The Makemakes "I Am Yours"
The home team. Or possibly Kasabian pretending to be Austrian.

I suspect we're in for something a bit Live And Let Die-y here.

"Apologies for the loss in transmission there, we hope you enjoyed that extract from Top Of The Pops 1978. Now, back to Eurovision."

Ooh, fire on stage for the first time this evening. Because the piano is on fire.

A quick jaunt backstage while they put the burning piano out.

"Why do we even have a green room?" asks Conchita.

Because otherwise the artists would have to stand outside waiting to come on, presumably?

Greece: Maria Elena Kyriakou "One Last Breath"
That sounds like it's going to be a cheerful one, right?

She's come as Ray Of Light era Madonna.

Luckily, her accompanist has found a piano that isn't burned out. I say "luckily".

Jesus, she's got long fingers. I haven't seen a finger that long that wasn't made out of foam and on the hand of a sports fan.

This is a song that should be angry and booming, but appears to have been sent to anger management and so it just sitting in the corner counting to ten.


Montenegro: Knez "Adio"
We're running out of songs, and there's been nothing truly outstanding yet. Who knew that 27 might be not enough songs?

This is starting with some pleasant relaxy-local-colour-background doodling.

Knez is an evil magician who is attempting to hide his plans to kill us all with trained magic doves by singing ever-so-gently.

You've not fooled me, Knez.

Germany: Ann Sophie "Black Smoke"
Ann, of course, is the runner-up who won default when the other guy didn't want to do it after all.

Ann is stroking herself in a way that clearly is sexier in her head than it is on screen.

I can't decide if she had a dance routine she's forgotten; if she's forgotten she doesn't have a dance routine; or if they've paid a choreographer but been ripped off.

You have to wonder what the third place song in the German qualifier was like. Poor Germany.

Poland: Monika Kuszyńska "In the Name of Love"
Poland next to Germany. That's always a recipe for disaster, if history is a guide.

Lots of drapes. If this piano goes up as well, there's going to be tragedy.

Not sure about the footage of 'before she had an accident' being thrown on screen. What message is that meant to be giving?

The song is no less floaty and formless as the massive curtains at the back of the stage.

Latvia: Aminata "Love Injected"
Love Injected could be filthy from the title.

This is like something from Bjork's spare hard drive. A slight element of 'Kate Bush goes to the Hitman And Her'. I think I like this one.

Romania: Voltaj "De la capăt (All over Again)"
I think these are like the Romanian Wurzels or something like that.

They do good work for charity, though, helping kids and that. Which is lovely. But we must be tough. Good deeds butter no Eurovision parsnips.

Oh, Ming The Merciless has turned up trying to fit into his wedding suit.

And using pictures of the children you're trying to help with your charity is just squalid. Really squalid.

Spain: Edurne "Amanecer"
One day, it'd be great if a singer came on stage and said "shall we take the dramatic, low-key opening as read and just get to the bit where it all kicks in?"

Has she paid that bloke just to hold the end of her train?

Oh, no, he's a dress thief. Blimey.

(I wonder how many times that went wrong in rehearsal. I'd like to see film of that going wrong in rehearsal.)

Hungary: Boggie "Wars for Nothing"
Wars for nothing. Because, like, war - war is stupid. Right? Do you understand?

Ooh. Off-key. I mean, I know the sentiments are fine but... you should try and hit the notes every so often.

This clearly was written for a year ten assembly about history, but somehow got overpromoted.

Felt like the Hundred Years War. About as welcome as another Schleswig War.

Georgia: Nina Sublatti "Warrior"
Georgia have gone full-on Goth.

*drinks half a bottle of Mad Dog in the park*

I'll level with you: I know this is a tribute to Ruslana, but done with half the gusto, but this year, a misfiring Ruslana tribute is the best we can hope for.

"I've been a danger for too long" goes the lyric, and clearly that's not true, but she's probably made a couple of people on the bus feel a bit jittery in case there's something living in those feathers on her shoulders.

Azerbaijan - Elnur Hüseynov "Hour of the Wolf"
Awkward moment when there was a camera pointing down a woman's shirt, which I hope to god was merely an accident.

Back on stage, there's a guy dry humping the stage. I hope to god it's dry humping, or at least someone can get a mop on before the next act.

The hour of the wolf feels more like a month and a half of a a dachshund.

Two hours down. How are we all doing, people?

Russia: Polina Gagarina "A Million Voices"
This isn't the song that Harry Hill used to say that he liked the best. Probably more 'a million voices calling out in pain'.

Russia have sent a woman off a box of hairdye. (Shade 23: Uncanny blonde, if you're wondering.)

The drummer is pulling a Steve Coogan face.

The odd thing - if they've got a million voices, couldn't they have found a better one to do the singing?

Went down well in the room. God help us all.

Albania: Elhaida Dani "I'm Alive"
Well, the good news for Albania is it looks like 1980s hairstyles have just arrived in Tirana.

Elsewhere: Philip Schofield has deployed the Irony Hashtag.

Italy: Il Volo "Grande amore"
Not only almost an anagram of Il Divo, they pretty much are Il Divo. But the good news is that they're closing off the first chunk of the evening.

Hang about. Timmy Mallett.

If you close your eyes, you could just about buy this selling liqueurs during a mid-December ad break on Channel 4.

Now, the people of Europe will spend the next few minutes voting for the songs they can just about remember through their drunken tears.

The Sugababes have changed from black dresses to white dresses. No expense spared.

"You can't vote for the United Kingdom, because you have self-respect."

I've just checked; there isn't an alternative version of this programme on Channel 4 being done by Jeremy Paxman and Louise Mensch. I think Channel 4 have missed a trick there.

Oh, fuck, it's Drum Theatre.

This is what a cry for help looks like, everybody:

So, Ed Balls thinks Serbia will win it. Mind you, he believed he'd be doing an emergency budget next week.

This just in:
Given that it doesn't take that long to make a phonecall, does this middle sequence really need to be any longer than the time it takes to dial ten digits plus, say, an extra three minutes for a wee?

They're still drumming. It's like a polite version of Stomp.

Another run through of the songs. If you've not voted yet, it's because you are refusing to vote until you can use a postcard or a sealed-down envelope.

There's only one minute left to vote.

"Europe... Australia... are you ready for the countdown?"
"What am I, chopped liver?" asks Israel.

There's a massive bang at the end of the countdown, which is either intended or that blasting through in Wookey Hole has gone awry.

Conchita Wurst on again, burning off the last goodwill like the brandy on top of a stale Christmas pudding.

"My whole album's my favourite track" reveals Conchita. Which also suggests they're all equally poor.

Here's a quick public service announcement:

I see Ugly Betty's nephew won Junior Eurovision, then.

They're counting votes in the background. Galloway demanding a recount.

And we're off to the Green Room.

More Conchita. Very much the 'hey, people like horseradish on their beef, so let's just make an entire bowl of horseradish that's how it works, right' of Eurovision.

Results at last!
Montenegro more overdressed than any of the contestants.

12 goes to Serbia.

Malta wearing a sensible sweater. There's a grudging one point (the 'dont take away the George Cross) for UK; 12 to Italy.

The scores do an annoying ping like an email coming in which is already more than we need.

Finland does a joke that requires explanation from Graham (without that, just sounds like she's a bit desperate). 12 to Sweden.

Greece has clearly been drinking. Their 12 to Italy.

UK still has a single point thus far.

Portugal vanishes from the screen so they move on to Romania.

Romania just shows off. 12 to Italy.

At least so far it's not one running away with it.

Belarus are the first nation with a bloke doing the scores. He's in a salmon jacket he picked up from a charity shop this morning.

UK still on one; Belarus give their 12 to Russia. Putin puts the phone back in the cradle and strokes his cat.

(The famous anti-boo technology working poorly now, probably overwhelmed.)

Albania's host has had to break off from serving in a Chuck E Cheese to give his 12 to Italy.

Has nobody been to check on Portugal yet?

Moldova's scores come from an Am Dram version of Dynasty. 12 to Romania, surprisingly.

Azerbaijan thank Austria for the amazing show. So they're bullshitting even before the 12 goes to Russia.

Latvia's votes come from Nick Tilsley off Corrie with a birdnest on his head. 12 to Sweden.

We still have just one point.

Graham Norton has started to get a bit Wogan on the votes commentary.

Serbia - off the shoulder dress compensated for by hair over the same shoulder.

12 to Montenegro.

So far, Austria, France, Germany and Poland all on zero. Bad days for big Europe.

Estonia vanishes before they can give their scores. Maybe Putin thought they wouldn't give 12 to Russia, and pulled the line?

Denmark are wearing a market leather jacket. 12 to Sweden.

Switzerland are dressed for a space wedding.12 to Sweden.

Belguim are a David Walliams tribute act. 12 to Sweden.

All this love for Sweden isn't helping best Russia.

France are immaculately turned out. 12 to Belgium.

Clearly the dropped ones are being pushed to the end.

Armenia are dressed like it was dark when they got ready, and too far from laundry day. 12 to Russia.

Ireland give us a grudging point. That's two grudging points. Strong votes for Sweden & Russia, so the homophobes in Ireland pulled something back. Their 12 to Latvia.

Sweden give 12 to Australia. Perhaps for a joke.

Germany have clearly broken off a bitter divorce to be here tonight.

She just called Conchita half a lady, which was... let's say misjudged, shall we?

12 to Russia.

Ooh, Australia are about to vote. Sternly.

You'll note we don't even get a grudging one from them. 12 to Sweden.

We're half way through. Looks like Russia might win this. And ElectroVelvet are dead in the water.

They're still convinced the news will be on at 11.35. Good luck with that, BBC One.

Czech Republic. Ooh, that's the first dress I'd happily wear. But I bet it leaves a pile of shit behind when you sit down.

12 to Azerbaijan.

Spain pad their part somewhat. 12 to Italy.

Austria are dressed like a vice president of mermaids. 12 to Australia.

Macedonia look like they'd pretend to forget their wallet if you went on a date with them.

12 to Albania.

UK still on 2; Germany and Austria on zero.

Slovenia praise the event for making dreams come true. They play their part by giving 12 to Sweden.

The hall now chanting for Sweden - which is odd to see a homophobic singer being given support to avoid having to go a homophobic nation.

Hungary have their entire GDP round their neck. 12 to Belgium.

Now, it's Nigella. She won't pad her part. Although she does have Zoom-Zoom on her breast.
12 to Sweden.

Blimey, we've taken Sweden back to the top.

Georgia, coming straight off the set of Blakes Seven, and then vanishes.

Lithuania dressed like a cheap choc-ice. 12 to Latvia.

Netherlands better not move too much or there'll be an incident. 12 to Belgium.

Poland have, erm, flowers on their hair. 12 to Sweden.

10 more results to go. (Unclear if that includes the ones we've had to skip).

Israel are dressed like your Dad. 12 to Italy. Which is what your Dad would have done.

Russia's bloke is trying to not look evil. The joke about giving 12 to Russia goes down like a Soviet tank in an independent state. Actually goes to Italy.

San Marino give three to ElectroVelvet - more than the rest of Europe put together. Their 12 to Latvia.

Sweden are pulling clear ahead.

Italy have stolen your watch. 12 to Sweden.

We've been watching this so long the Sky Box started to go into sleep mode.

Iceland's 12 to Sweden makes them almost untouchable.

Cyprus have their scores being done by someone who did the news on NBC in the 1970s. Probably wearing the same jacket. 12 to Italy.

Sweden have won. They've called it.

Putin is hoping he can get his deposit back on the conference centre.

Norway have sent a Manic Pixie Dreamgirl to do the scores. 12 to Sweden but it doesn't matter now.

Second crack at Portugal. They had a chance when voting meant something, you might recall. 12 to Italy.

Estonia are there again, like a bad drawing of Willow from Buffy. 12 to Russia.

Georgia - Blakes 7 lady. 12 to Armenia. And that's it for the voting.

So, Sweden win.

The UK only score five, which is probably five more than we deserved. Austria didn't get a single point in their own living room, which is just rude.

They're dragging out the closing minutes. Which, frankly, they don't need to do.

Conchita hanging about on the edge of the screen, slowly moving off the sides.

God alone knows how damp those trousers will be on the inside after four hours of studio lights and voting.

In case you were worried: the neighbours' shed didn't burn down, although there was a mysterious visit from a security firm roughly around when Cyprus was on.

Jack White. Jack White.

Of course he has.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bookmarks: Le Tigre

A photoset from Mike Evans of Le Tigre playing CBGB's in 2000

Bruce Dickinson's air business has wings

Bruce Dickinson out of Iron Maiden continues to prove his credentials as the Freddie Laker of Hard Rock (only successful), as he's expanded to help growth of an African airline:

Now he’s got a new flag carrier role – having signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Djibouti to develop a national airline for the East African nation.

Dickinson signed the deal in his role as founder of Cardiff Aviation, the aircraft repair business he helped set up in 2012. The company is now to manage a European air operator’s certificate for Air Djibouti, find aircraft and provide operational management, and offer maintenance support from its base in South Wales.
This is good news for that nation, good news for Dickinson, and good news for music hall comics:

- I flew in on that new African airline, and I've just been to freshen up
- Air Djibouti?
- No, I just washed my hands and splashed on some cologne

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Spotify suddenly obsessed with running

How can you tell Spotify has reached middle age?

It's suddenly started becoming obsessed with keep-fit and the gym.

Yes, as well as adding podcasts and video in the big announcement yesterday (or "moving on from doing one thing well to trying to do lots of things other people already do better", to use the technical term), Spotify kept banging on about running. Like that bloke from the office who had a mild health scare and suddenly started showing up in a tracksuit, thrusting his fitbit under your nose in the breakroom.

Spotify Running. Every week millions of you lace up and hit the road to Spotify.
Yes, we lace up and hit the road. But what about when we get back from travelling corsetry show? What then, Spotify?
Music is the perfect running companion but sometimes you need even more motivation to push on.
I have some sympathy for the poor sod who had to churn this paragraph out, because the announcement is little more than 'you can do something with Spotify and the Nike+ you almost certainly don't own, and we've put together a playlist of some fast songs', but they're having to try and milk a couple of hundred words out of it.
That’s why Spotify Running is all about helping you go the extra mile.
Fortunately for an announcement about keeping fit, although this announcement is packed with words, none of those words contain any calories whatsoever.
We’ve combined the best music on the planet – recommendations based on your listening history, multiple-genre playlists and original running compositions written by some of the world’s foremost DJs and composers – all tuned to your tempo and seamlessly transitioned to ensure you’ll never miss a beat.
"Original running compositions".

You know how that conversation went:
- Hi, foremost DJ, it's Spotify; we'd like you to compose something running for us
- What does that mean, even? I don't think...
- We will give you lots of money - tonnes of the stuff. Loads more than if you were a composer providing the music for our core business, ironically. Lots of money.
- Really? Hang on a moment.
Goes to Mac, drags half-finished song from Trash, renames file 'Hitting The Streets.mp3'
- Sending something across now.
Start running and Spotify will detect your tempo, matching the perfect music in time to your step – making you a harder, better, faster, stronger runner.
I don't know much about running - although I did once get to prance about wearing one of Steve Ovett's Olympic medals - but what Spotify seem to be pitching is a metronome which adjusts down or up to your pace.

Which isn't really what you want in a pacemaker, is it? The idea is that you choose a song, and try to pace your running to that song. If the song switches the pace you're running at, what is the point?

And will the music start lurching around stopping and starting? You're off like a shot and Icona Pop are I Don't Care-ing it, but you suddenly get a stitch and out of nowhere Morrissey appears? Will, should you collapse to the ground in pain, clutching your arm, Spotify notice you've stopped and lob on a Lake Wobegone podcast?

Then Spotify do this:
The new Now experience will begin rolling out today to iPhone users in the US, UK, Germany and Sweden – with more markets and platforms to follow in the near future. Spotify Running will start rolling out to iPhone users globally today.

That’s entertainment.
And, yes, "That's entertainment" links to That's Entertainment.

Spotify spend a long time making a pitch for how they're awfully clever at choosing just the right song for the right moment through algorithms and brilliance, and then illustrate this ability by showing how entertaining they are with a song that is using the word "entertainment" with an irony so bitter they could put it in bleach to stop toddlers accidentally swigging Domestos.

That's entertaining, Spotify, but not how you think.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rihanna at war with the Boy Wonder

Rihanna has put in a trademark application to allow her to launch a cosmetics range under her real name.

Trouble is, her real name is Robyn, and that's upset DC Comics:

Rihanna’s legal firm, Roraj Trade, originally tried to trademark her name on June 23, 2014, for her new magazine. DC stopped the singer on May 11, 2015. They claimed that the name “Robin” already has his own trademarked products. The company trademarked the name “Robin” in 1995 so he could have his own comic book series and merchandise. Some would argue that Robyn is typically known as a female name.
Surely there's a more pressing problem here - a woman who isn't known professionally as Robyn and a character who isn't spelled Robyn are fighting over a name which...
...belongs to someone who is known professionally as Robyn, and who does spell it like that.

Listen with No Rock: Glockabelle

Meet - if you've not already had the pleasure - Glockabelle. I think this might be the first track I've ever come across which could have the power to give syanathesia to people who aren't synesthesic:

That's the lead track from her new Wolf BBQ EP. I suspect not everyone will like it, but if you do, you'll like it very much.

She's going to be in the UK supporting The Go Team in June before doing some dates elsewhere in Europe. She also has website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Labour leadership: Not true to you

Never mind Yvette Cooper's sudden realisation that, actually, she always hated Ed Miliband and everything he said, or did, or thought, or liked, or touched, or tasted, or loved, or licked, or coloured-in, or flirted with, or smelled, or drilled, or folded, or applauded, or arrested, or fed from a packet of seed he kept in his pocket, or folded, or bought, or proposed, or endorsed, or Googled, or polished, or filed away for safe keeping, or sang to, or wrapped.

As John Rentoul has reminded us, last year Andy Burnham went cold on The Smiths. In an interview, Burnham talked about how Morrissey changed his life, but:

[But it hasn’t lasted?] I feel that. I play it to my kids [13, 11 and 8] and the only song that they will really relate to is “How Soon Is Now?” And it has a vibe, or a beat, a bit more of the reverb thing going on, but the jingly-jangly yodelling-type lyric does feel a bit trapped in Eighties indy-land.

When you see those early Top of the Pops performances it’s like a historical curiosity. Did they really do that back then? I’m also – a bit predictable again – a huge Stone Roses follower. I was younger when I liked The Smiths and then the Stone Roses came along, ‘89, ‘90, and I was 19, I was old enough to follow them around. I went to the Heaton Park thing in Manchester when they reformed last year and they’ve also got a film out recently. One thing you notice about the Stone Roses is that they are more Everyman. They are less an introverted sixth-form thing, and they are much more the lads in hi-vis jackets, they are everyone’s band in the way that The Smiths never were. The Smiths were always, I’m a student therefore – The Stone Roses [has] a more timeless feel to it, more relevant.
Also, Morrissey's position on thresholds for strike ballots is so anti-business.

Bookmarks: Joy Division

There's a short-but-lovely piece on the Liverpool Echo where Jamie Bowman suggests Joy Division were as comfortable in Liverpool as Manchester:

Warsaw made their debut in the city at Eric's (where else?) on Mathew Street on August 27, 1977, when they supported punk band X-Ray Spex - a gig notable for being drummer Steven Morris's first with the band.

Later that year they were back to play a New Year's Eve party at the Swinging Apple on Wood Street which became the band's last gig as Warsaw.

Charli XCX breaks our heart a little

I'm pretty certain that Charli XCX could write something stratospheric for Justin Bieber, but why would you want to? If you had a song that Justin Bieber could do well, why not give it to someone who could do it better?

But Charli seems to (over)rate Bieber:

"I like Justin Bieber as a pop star," Charli XCX told Billboard at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. "I think he's really, really great. I really love the song 'Baby.' I think it's awesome."

It's like that Delia Smith gave the okay to instant mashed potato, isn't it?

What do you give the pop star who has everything?

Back in the day, it was easy. You'd send George Michael a teddy bear, or a handmade card, or a shaky Polaroid of your cock, or a hat, and that'd be that.

Nowadays, if you're shopping for a pop star's birthday gift, the stakes are a little higher:

Fans give $61,000 forest to K-pop star for her birthday
To be fair, actually fans bought hundreds of trees as part of an environment project in Iu's name:
Soompi and Allkpop reported that fans who contributed to her gift managed to raise around 5 million won (S$61,000) for the IU Forest Project.

Their environmentally-friendly efforts saw them plant more than 250 types of trees since January so that they were able to give IU her very own forest.
The stakes are raised, Directioners. If you don't get Harry Styles his own estuary, you're not real fans, right?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Brandon Flowers might be slightly wrong

At least Brandon Flowers believes in himself:

"Whether the people want to accept it or not, we might be the best band in the last long time," Flowers is quoted as saying. "I'd go up any night against just about any band that's come out in the last 15 years. Not that it's a competition, but I do feel sometimes people don't have a grasp on what we've accomplished and what we've acquired."
I think people know what you've accomplished, Brandon. A half-decent album; some amusing Christmas special things for Jimmy Kimmel. In Mr Brightside, a song chosen by people who think they're being edgy when they appear on singing talent shows. A sequence of albums where the proportion of acceptability slid from 'half-decent' to 'three per cent alright'.

I think there's around nine thousand bands who could probably crush yours if you went toe-to-toe, but let's just start with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs while you nip off to pick up your coat from the hatcheck, shall we?

Pop stars in reduced circumstances: Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, once the original Pop Idol. Wonder what he's up to these days?

Playing to standing-room only crowds, that's what. Even if it's not actually the Albert Hall:

TV pop star Gareth Gates headlined a concert for holidaymakers in Burnham-On-Sea on Saturday night (May 16th). The singer, who shot to fame during ITV's Pop Idol, performed at Burnham Holiday Village during a concert as part of a nationwide Haven Holidays tour.

There was standing room only as over 500 spectators filled the park's performance area to see him sing a line-up of hit songs from the past 20 years.
For people struggling to place Gareth, the Burnham On Sea website helpfully points out that "more recently" he was on Dancing On Ice. Which is true. If you don't recall him winning Pop Idol in 2002, you might just recall him coming fourth in Dancing On Ice seven years ago. There's every chance.

The power of having Simon Cowell shape your career.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bono tries to claim he's a business person, not an arsehole

Having previously attempted to explain his 'do as I say, not as I do' line on tax as being somehow an obligation, high priest of the tax weasels Bono is now suggesting he's merely being sensible:

Asked about his position on tax, he told Sky News that just because he had campaigned for a fairer society it did not mean he had to be “stupid” in business.

Bono said: “It’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed. And that’s just one of our companies, by the way. There’s loads of companies.”
They're just being sensible. Because minimising your tax bill - or minimisering, if you'd prefer - is sensible.

The trouble with this line is that if you accept it, there's not really any way to object to a UKIP spokesperson saying that foreign aid is expensive, and if we stopped paying any foreign aid we could reduce everyone's tax burden. Because that, too, is a sensible statement. It's also fucking selfish.

When Bono said "it’s just some smart people we have working for us trying to be sensible about the way we’re taxed", what he means is "it’s just some fucking selfish people we have working for us trying to be fucking sensible about the way we’re taxed."

Because you'll note those "smart people". This isn't Bono turning up at a tax place, with one box saying '20% tax' and one saying '80% tax' and choosing the smaller figure. It is people who are working to come up with "smart" ways to avoid paying tax. Bono and U2 are actively trying to avoid paying tax. It's not sensible, it's deliberate. Different thing.

Hang about, The Edge is also keen to not be seen as some sort of rich arsehole avoid taxes:
U2’s lead guitarist, The Edge – real name David Evans – said: “So much of our business is outside Ireland. It’s ridiculous to sort of make a big deal about the fact that we operate outside of Ireland.”
Yes, that's true. A lot of your business is outside Ireland. In a huge part because you channel a lot of your business outside Ireland to avoid paying tax in Ireland. That's not a defence against the charge of tax avoiding, it's the methodology you use to avoid tax:
[T]he Rolling Stones and U2 also channel royalties through the country, and that both bands have an office on Amsterdam’s Herengracht.
It's hard to imagine how U2 could make this any more insulting to our intelligence, but Bono manages it:
Bono added: “And we pay a fortune in tax. Just so people know, we pay a fortune in tax; and we’re happy to pay a fortune in tax, people should."
Bono, when you're discussing how you sensibly avoid paying a fair share of taxes, that might not be the best time to tell people that they should be paying their taxes.

And you might pay a lot in taxes, but don't you dare come round trying to argue that you're doing the right thing by making that amount as small as possible and expect thanks for paying that smallest possible amount.

Your behaviour is legal. Your behaviour is rational.

Your behaviour is selfish.

This week just gone

What interests Facebook users? 2015's most popular stories amongst people visiting from Facebook:

1. PRS hire an investigator who sounds a lot like a sales person [2009]
2. Robin Thicke ripped off Marvin Gaye - official
3. Is the NME about to go free?
4. Of course Kanye West fans know who Paul McCartney is
5. Brits liveblog
6. Shirley Manson crushes Kanye West
7. ... but not everything she says is about West
8. Gennaro Castaldo's top ten spokesings
9. Bo Bruce could be in the papers, speculates story in the papers
10. Kasabian play to the BAFTAs; BAFTAs watch in polite silence

These releases were interesting:

Thea Gilmore - Ghosts And Graffiti

Download Ghosts & Graffiti

Joanna Gruesome - Peanut Butter

Download Peanut Butter

The Fall - Sublingual Tablet

Download Sub-Lingual Tablet

Roisin Murphy - Hairless Toys

Download Hairless Toys