Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Brit Awards Shortlist is out

You can understand Adele getting a bunch of shortlist slots. But, really, British music industry? James Bay gets nominated in four categories?

Although, technically, Adele shouldn't have been in the lists at all - her album came out in December, and traditionally the Brits have covered a year running November to November. But a swift rewrite of the rules has ensured she'll turn up.

Here's the full list that people call moribund:

British male solo artist
Aphex Twin
Calvin Harris
James Bay
Jamie xx
Mark Ronson

British female solo artist
Amy Winehouse
Florence + the Machine
Jess Glynne
Laura Marling

British group
One Direction
Years & Years

British breakthrough act
Catfish and the Bottlemen
James Bay
Jess Glynne
Wolf Alice
Years & Years

Critics' choice
Winner: Jack Garratt
Izzy Bizu

Brits global success award
To be announced

British single
Adele - Hello
Calvin Harris & Disciples - How Deep Is Your Love
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental- Bloodstream
Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
James Bay - Hold Back The River
Jess Glynne - Hold My Hand
Little Mix - Black Magic
Olly Murs ft Demi Lovato - Up
Philip George - Wish You Were Mine
Years & Years - King

British album of the year
Adele - 25
Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams
Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
Jamie xx - In Colour

British producer of the year
Charlie Andrew
Mark Ronson
Mike Crossey
Tom Dalgety

British artist video of the year
Adele - Hello
Calvin Harris & Disciples - How Deep Is Your Love
Ed Sheeran - Photograph
Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
Jessie J - Flashlight
Little Mix - Black Magic
Naughty Boy ft Beyonce & Arrow Benjamin - Runnin' (Lose It All)
One Direction - Drag Me Down
Sam Smith - Writing's On The Wall
Years & Years - King

International male solo artist
Father John Misty
Justin Bieber
Kendrick Lamar
The Weeknd

International female solo artist
Ariana Grande
Courtney Barnett
Lana Del Rey
Meghan Trainor

International group
Alabama Shakes
Eagles of Death Metal
Major Lazer
Tame Impala
There are odd moments of joy in the list - I think the thirty seconds of Courtney Barnett we get when they run through the international female shortlist is going to be the highlight of the ceremony.

But, ultimately, it's the presence of Amy Winehouse which makes this so frustrating. No offence to Amy, but... she's not exactly had the most creative 2015, has she? Yes, there was a movie about her, but the message "to be an exciting female star in British music in 2015, it helped if you'd been dead half a decade" isn't exactly making much of a claim for the scene, is it?

Although if the message to women artists is "you're better off dead", that's probably more encouraging than telling the men that they should be aspiring to be James Bay.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Goodbye, Spaceboy

That's been a hell of a day. You could hear Shaun Keaveny on 6Music trying to keep it as light as possible, but also trying to keep it together. The Today programme was noticeably less interested in the other stories it had to cover; the Archbishop of Canterbury's appearance to talk about the death pangs of the Anglican Communion was cut down.

Twitter - for a while, at least - was united in positive memories. (Tumblr, being Tumblr, less so).

And it's not that Tumblr didn't have a point, it's just that its timing was off - there's time to sift through the Nazi stuff, and the China Girl video, and Tin Machine and the period when he perhaps became detached from a sense of humour. But let's have a moment to fill out the pro column first, shall we?

Here's a quick round-up of some of the coverage from today that you might have missed:

OpenLearn remembering the Banc, the Bonds and the ISP

The Western Daily Press on Bowie at Glastonbury

Vox on Bowie's part in ending the Cold War

The Local (German news in English) takes a photo tour of Bowie's Berlin

The Evening Argus on Bowie's live album recorded in Falmer

Liverpool Echo on alteregos in pop, and 1977 gig photos

The New York Times on Bowie's impact on fashion

Atlas Obscura remembers The Laughing Gnome

Billboard catches up with Peter Schilling, who had a US hit with a "sequel" to Space Oddity

Bustle collects the best Bowie lyrics

Legendobit: David Bowie

The radio alarm clicked on this morning to the words "it's been announced in the last few minutes that David Bowie has died."

So the new album turns out to have been like a bush doing one last fruiting; a coda, not a rebirth.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bookmarks: Pop music

Jude Rogers has done a great piece for The Pool on why pop music is brilliant:

Pop music provides emotional links back to our earliest memories and experiences, for starters. Speaking personally, it takes me, The Mum, back to me as A Child, straightaway. (My first memory? Being allowed to wash the dishes with Grandma at two-and-a-half, singing along to ABBA's Super Trouper on the radio.) It also takes me back to my parents as parents, fitting my feet into their shoes. Oh, the times I'd tell my dad what was No 1 in the charts (like The Flying Pickets' cover of Yazoo's Only You in Christmas 1983 – probably the first Christmas I can blurrily remember). Oh, the times Mam would make car journeys better by playing her Sounds Of 1963 cassette (me wiggling my shoes to The Swinging Blue Jeans' Hippy Hippy Shake as we headed off on holiday). Music soundtracked my first impressions of these important people, and it's not a coincidence. It's the way we are wired.

Djobit: Ed "Stewpot" Stewart

Ed Stewart, known as "Stewpot", has died.

One of the many who made the leap from pirate radio to the starting line-up of Radio One, Stewart wound up doing Junior Choice for years, playing Nellie The Elephant and the like.

Ah, Junior Choice. It's become a cliche to cough the word "yewtree" when writing about any DJ from this era, but his own autobiography - reviewed by Danny Baker for Rocking Vicar - did leave "Junior Choice" seeming somewhat appropriately inapproiate:

"I met my wife when she was 13, in 1970…" P.146 (He was 34 at this point)

"…my wife started on my stomach – and nothing else! – when she was 13…" P.147

"I arrived (at her parents) at 7pm and was greeted at the door by what I can only describe as a 13 year old apparition! She was simply stunning." (P147)

"…(the following year, so 14 now) I travelled to Italy to see her. I had just split from Eve Graham of The New Seekers and so, as the song goes, I was "Free Again"! P153

He marries the poor girl when she is 17. Elsewhere –

"We played a charity football match at a girls' school in Lingfield. After the match we visited some of the boarders, who were mostly epileptic. The pupils had just reached puberty and the girls wouldn't let us out of the dormitory. We had to be rescued by the staff!" (P 177)
But it's not all schoolgirls and cheeky winks. Stewpot also finds space to record his contributions to British culture, as Baker records:
And consider this. When you or I get to 66 years old and might, in a drunken orgy of self congratulation actually toy with penning something for the ages about our brief flit across these shifting sands – how much space shall we allow to that one edition of "Celebrity Weakest Link" we pitched up on. A line? A mention in the fulsome notes at the back?

Try NINE FUCKING PAGES! Nine fucking pages in a large print volume devoted to who said what on an edition of "The Weakest Link". That's a full life examined alright, Stewpot!

I swear I got through two complete highlighter pens. Wendy had to call me five times for dinner. Me! For dinner! Five times!
At Christmas 2014, the Daly Express caught up with him for a 'where are the now' piece:
I’m in touch with some of the old faces, including David Hamilton, Paul Burnett and Tony Brandon. We’ll either meet socially or at a convention, such as the tribute to pirate radio in Zurich five years ago
Not entirely convinced that people you saw at effectively a works do half a decade count as people you're in touch with.

He was alright on Crackejack, though. His role was presenter, effectively a headmaster whose idea of dress-down-Friday was to wear a blazer rather than a suit jacket. But somebody had to prove

This week just gone

The most read 2015 stories, in case you're curious:

1. Brits liveblog
2. Eurovision liveblog
3. Suede at Glastonbury
4. Grooveshark finally sinks
5. Emily Ratajkowski can't see why all the fuss about Blurred Lines happened
6. Guido Fawkes is incensed that Charlotte Church has an accountant
7. The NME gives Noel Gallagher the cover again
8. The music industry's poor mental health record
9. Conor McNicholas: The post NME years
10. NME stops charging

These came out just before Christmas:

Jennylee - Right On!

Download Right On!

Grimes - Art Angels

Download Art Angels