Saturday, February 27, 2016

Twittergem: Primal Scream

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Liveblog: Brits 2016


Imagine if the Grammys took place in a room where all the air had been sucked out of it. And imagine if before the air was sucked out the room, the budget was cut by 95%. Oh, and James Bay was put at the heart of things.

You don't need to imagine that. Because it's happening! Tonight!

And we'll be there (or here) for the all-important Brits liveblog. At this URL.

So what can we expect this year? The Brits Chair says that amongst his ideal moments was Jarvis rushing Jacko's stage.

You'll recall the Brits loved that so much at the time they had Jarvis arrested.

Last year, there was a genuine talking point moment, but if your awards are relying on a fifty-something woman choosing between falling over or garrotting herself for people to pay attention, you've got a structural problem.

Ant And Dec. It's like it's bloody 1997.

There's some before-show business about not wearing capes.

Everyone has "upped their game", promise Ant and Dec. Perhaps to make up for ITV having lowered their sights?

People dressed as the "iconic" (supposedly) Brit Awards are dancing to something so-so. Bravely, they've gone out to dance amongst the nonplussed executives sitting at the tables.

Mercifully, it was a short sequence. Ant (or is it Dec?) run through the delights on offer - Little Mix, Jess Glynne. The cheers for Rihanna sounded more like they were genuine than some of the others.

Coldplay on first. Chris Martin and chums have tricked out their stage to look like they're doing a themed beach party in the 1970s. Oh, but they also have fire plumes which are set off at the less-mild bit of the songs. So that's a beach party where Dad couldn't light the barbecue and tried lobbing on some paraffin.

The Coldplay song repeats "so high, so high", like a thirteen year-old who has just had a teeny puff on his first spliff.

Having tried to enliven the plodding song with fire, they've now set off some glitter. They really are chucking everything at this performance. Well, except a half-decent song.

"Love Coldplay" says Dec (or is it Ant). Yes, you're a white, middle-aged man. Of course you do.

You can vote using hashtags for best video! It's modern. AND IN NO WAY OPEN TO #RIGGINGTHEVOTE.

One Direction are on the shortlist, so the actual voting is just a formality.

"You can only vote once" warns Dan (or is it Eck?). Yeah. There'd be no way around that, he said, rapidly deleting cookies and swapping between browsers.

We've got to an award quite quickly - the now defunct One Direction are on stage to do Best British Female. Jess Glynne/Florence/Laura Marling/Amy Winehouse/Adele. Hardly any of them are dead, too.

It's Adele! Who is at least alive! Although it's not clear she actually released anything during the period the awards cover, otherwise, you know, she'd have been nominated for that.

Adele says its lovely to come back. She supports Ke$ha, though, which floats out into the room and Ant and Dec comment on how short her speech was.

Still: Adele went there. Pity ITV didn't find any Sony execs for reaction shots.

Not entirely clear how XL had embraced Adele being a woman, exactly. They didn't ask her to draw a tache on with a burned cork?

First ad break. Sky Q remind you this programme could follow you around the house. YOU WOULDN'T BE SAFE IN THE BATHROOM.

Gary Lineker is advertising a crisp packet which "turns into a bowl of crisps". Except it doesn't, really, it's just a fiddly bag that comes between you and your crisps.

Ant and Dec appear on tape plugging their Saturday show; there's a break bumper of Ellie Goulding looking a bit awkward.

Ant has got a flame thrower. Hijinks ensue.

Oh, he's set off the smoke alarm.

There's a security guard with a "I feel so sorry for you guys, all I have to do is stop people going backstage" look of pity on her face.

Justin Bieber and James The Hat Bay are on now - by another open fire. Is this year's event being organised by the scouts? ("Akalea says it's either fire-lighting, or else we're going to have to do knots all night long.")

Even Bieber tires of the acoustic thing, so sets fire to more of the stage, and does some more traditional limp poprock with the crotch thing.

Bieber really has employed the Henery V gambit - if you're shit for ages, when you stop being shit, people will think you're really great.

He keeps grabbing his cock; maybe all that fire is making it roast like a marshmallow.

Jesus, what is all this fire stuff this year? It already feels like hell, maybe they're just going to complete the ambience.

Nearly half an hour in, and we've only done one prize. Pick up the pace, people. There's News to be done at 10.

Ant and Dec return to make more jokes about smoke alarms.

Kylie's coming on to give out the next prize - British Male.

Calvin Harris v James Bay v Jamie XX v Aphex Twin v Mark Ronson

James Bay wins.

Perhaps it's just as well the Americans are burying this on the Fuse network - can you imagine if an American audience saw us proclaim the best male artist in Britain is the man in the hat.

Bay is confused by the round stage and can't work out where he's meant to be talking. He thanks people for believing for in him. If we don't believe, does he vanish?

Ant and Dec are prowling the floor looking for celebrities. Instead, they stumble across Nick Grimshaw and wave at Coldplay.

Oh, god, and they find Alan Carr. Carr complains about the journey to Greenwich and weeing in a bottle.

It's the most glittering event of the music year.

And we're off to a second break.

There's a singing packet of cream crackers on screen now. Better than any of the acts so far on the stage.

Lidl are selling parsnips for 39p.

What's with the DJ in the Virgin broadband ad? Okay, mate, you've got somewhere else to be, but couldn't you at least have waited until the end of Chaka Khan before fucking off?

We're back again. International Group: Tame Impala v Major lazer v Eagles Of Death Metal v Alabama Shakes v U2

Probably the most interesting shortlist of the evening, albeit providing you squint so you ignore U2.

And, surprisingly - it's Tame Impala. That's a surprise - its one of the few times you could see doing the mawkish thing would be right thing as well; giving it to EODM would have been a decent statement of what we value about music. But, no, this one time they decide to give an award based on music alone.

Nobody can find the cameras.

There's a really awkward bit where a woman in fetish wear comes and waggles her ass at the camera and rub Ant And Dec. What the actual?

Jess Glynne is up to do her tunes now. I wonder if anyone will set fire to things while she's playing. Jess says she ain't go far to go, which means she, at least, won't get caught in the back-up at the Blackwall Tunnel.

At least Jane McDonald had the good grace to work a few years on a cruise ship before hitting the stage on dry land.

I keep hearing "Jess Glynne" as "Jeff Lynn".

Ant is now giving a joke award to Dec. I say "joke".

Simon LeBon has come on to do a prize. The Brits have decided a man who used to own this night needs a Snooki Waterhouse to lend him some gravitas.

Little Mix v Adele v Calvin Harris & Disciples v Olly Murs V Years and Years v jess Glynne v Ed Sheeran v Phylis George v Ellie Goulding.

Best British single goes to Adele for Hello. (Okay, turns out she did release something in the qualifying period.)

The Ellie Goulding track was better, though, wasn't it? I mean, it just was.

"I love all them songs" says Adele.

Another break. They remind us that we can vote for Video of the year. I had totally forgotten that.

Mark Ronson is going to give someone a surprise on behalf of Mastercard. (Hopefully not surprising them that he was on that Bruno Mars record.)


Oh, we're back. I was just enjoying reading Savages' twitter stream, but now Ant has "gone missing".

No! He's weeing backstage! Hahahahahahaha! Peeing!

They're trying hard, I'll give them that. More trying than hard.

Simon Pegg is now going to give out Best British Band...

Years & Years v Foals v Blur v One Direction v Coldplay.

"It could only be Coldplay" says Pegg. Well, yes, given the way the night's going, that would be right.

They take longer to get on stage than one of their songs takes to reach a chorus. "Blur was the first album I ever bought" says Chris Martin, failing to find the camera.

Chris Martin dedicates the award to people in refugee camps, which is something I suppose.

James Bay is now on live - yes, of course with the bloody hat - doing Hold Back The River.

Here's a cheeky screenshot of him backstage:

Jude Rogers says what we're all thinking:

"Come on now, Brits, come on" cries Bay. There seems to be a thing about shouting at the audience and calling them "Brits", which manages to tip the whole thing into Farage territory.

The Brits is now so dull it's being upstaged by The Grammys and Kanye getting into a slanging match.

Dec's hairline, I can't help noticing, now matches that of his TV co-star.

Major Lazer are on to dole out the next prize. They give a shout out to "all the international acts here". (The people whose labels forced them to come.)

Intl solo male:
Kendrick Lamar v John Misty v Weeknd v Bieber v Drake

Justin Bieber wins! It's almost as if he hadn't agreed to turn up and play the event, isn't it?

Bieber - dressed as a child being Eminem - tells us that life is a journey.

Ant and Dec are at a table with Coldplay. Because we haven't heard enough from them already, have we?

They literally have nothing to say. Genuinely, this is the most pointless thing to have appeared on ITV since that time the brought Bet Lynch back for five minutes in Corrie.

I don't know if Charlotte Church is watching ITV, but she's just tweeted this:

(I suspect the random bloke who replied to that saying "what's up? PM me" should at least get points for trying.)

Yet more ads.

That woman putting a door in for her pony to come into the house hasn't thought through the implications for carpets and soft furnishings, has she? Maybe she'll Amazon prime a steam cleaner next.

There's not enough ads to fill the breaks online.

Simon Cowell is wheeled on next, looking confused. The look on his face from when the overnights for last series of X Factor came in, presumably.

Rihanna is on, apparently singing behind a giant Venetian Blind.

It's nice that she's using lights rather than falling back on fire, but it's a dreadful effect watching it on TV. Instead of being a light spectacular, it just looks mostly underlit. It could be Drake who's just joined her onstage, but it's virtually impossible to see.

The dancers have gone to dance amongst the tables, but they're giving a vibe of 'Britain keeps its chin up during the power cuts'.

Nick Grimshaw and Cheryl are coming on to do the breakthrough act. "It's quite an important award" says Nick. Quite important.

Years & years v Wolf Alice v Jess Glynne v Catfish and the Bottlemen v James Bay

"We were getting distacted by Keith Lemon" says Nick before announcing Cuttlefish and The Bobblehats have won the prize. It's not often you find yourself wishing Keith Lemon hadn't given up so easily, is it?

Catfish at least keep their speech short. They, naturally, fail to find the camera.

Tim Peake is going to present an award from the space station, which is mainly done to allow Ant and Dec to do a "it's not rocket science joke".

This is the global award, which goes to Adele for being lovely and remaining human.

Tim says he wishes he could be there to present the award - bloody liar. Nobody, given the choice between being in space or sitting in the O2 watching Chris Martin gurn.

Adele is clearly swearing a bit. ITV don't really succeed in cutting out the "fuckings". I suspect she has been enjoying the hospitality this evening.

"Tim Peake - I love you and hope you're okay and not too hungry" she concludes.

Little Mix are about to go on a world tour. I'm suspecting they might be skipping some countries.

Oh, they've got dancers with flaming torches.

They've tried to rework Black Magic as a drums-and-vocals chant, which shows they have ambition if not exactly the talent to pull it off.

I think using dios de la muerte skulls to signify "black magic" shows a deaf ear for cultural sensitivity, too.

They didn't appear to have thought how to tie together the drumming parts and the pop parts so there was an awkward bit where it was like two songs fighting in a car park.

Ant and Dec apologise for Adele's swearing. Although in twenty years whoever is organising the Brits will be saying it's one his favourite moments from the awards history.

Another break. I suppose at least this year things are zipping along, or as fast as they can when James Bay is making time feel like it's slowed and gone into reverse. I've just noticed they'd already shoved the news to 10.20 even before the thing had started, though. So there's a lot more of this to go.

Meanwhile, in the outside world:

The video vote has closed. One Direction fans can now close all their laptops.

Fleur East and Craig David are coming on to give out the next prize. They're having a great time, they tell us.

International Female: Meghan Trainor v Courtney Barnett v Lana Del Ray v Bjork v Ariana Grande

The lack of Taylor Swift in this category is bemusing.

Bjork wins, but she can't (be arsed to) be there. She gives a video thank you from underneath some sort of Venusian beekeeper's hat.

Ant and Dec are trying to honour David Bowie. They can't quite manage it, so they bring Annie Lennox on.

That's Annie Lennox and Simon LeBon tonight - it's like when this was still called the British Rock and Pop Awards.

Lennox stands with a hand behind her back and delivers a nice little speech while the audience behind her looks a bit bored.

"He was truly unique" she says, before announcing he's getting a posthumous Icon Award.

Gary Oldman comes on. Oh, Christ, he's going to make a speech, too.

"How can we pay tribute to a man who, whatever missteps he made, was never boring?"
"Hey, we could slow the ceremony to a crawl for two long speeches of superlatives that never quite get to grips with what made him so special."

So they clearly thought that Bowie's death warranted a substantial segment. They just didn't come up with anything to fill the segment with.

Bowie's bit in Fire Walk With Me was more animated than this.

I think Gary said that he and Bowie were once standing in a fruit corner. Maybe it was a street corner. He's getting into some very slight anecdotes now.

They're now going to honour him by bringing Lorde on, to play the Lady GaGa role in the "we've just told you nobody could be like him, so here's someone trying to be like him" portion of the evening. At least they've got Bowie's band to do a Bowie on 45 bit.

Lorde sounds a bit overwhelmed by it all.

Oh, and she's having a sit down now.

The lighting on this is dreadful, too; washed in a red glow (because "Life on Mars", presumably) it just looks like they're trying to develop some holiday snaps while doing the tune.

If they felt they had to do something like this, getting Lorde in - a glance at a baton passing to a new generation - is the least worst way of doing it. Better than inviting a narcissist to over-emote.

The other good thing about this segment is they went straight to ads rather than have Ant & Dec doing a bit.

Apparently, in the real world, someone's being held hostage in Bella Italia in Leicester Square.

Back to the Brits. Dec has swapped to a white dinner jacket. I bet Ant comes in a dress.

Ant comes on in a dress.

Alan Carr and Lianne La Havas are now going to share the winners of the hashtag video vote.

(Meanwhile, a Bieber news account reports that Justin has already left the O2. See, guys, you shouldn't have paid him his cash until the end of the show.)

One Direction win the video prize. Even Alan Carr can't pretend to be surprised by that.

ITV cut to Simon Cowell trying to not look smug.

The remaining members of One Direction say it "really is incredible".

Another performance. It's The Weeknd. This time, the lighting's ok, but the sound is terrible.

Jesus, Lorde-as-Bowie is already on YouTube. For now.

Ant and Dec are saying they should have had smoke in one of their links. A joke or two might have been more useful, guys.

Mark Ronson has come on to do a prize giving, but instead starts by swearing about himself. This is the Best album prize.

Coldplay v Adele (the album qualified too? Oh, they fudged the dates didn't they?) v Jamie XX v James Bay v Florence

The winner is Adele. Ronson leaves a dramatic pause, but he needn't have bothered as we all hallucinated the name 'Adele' in the gap.

But the Florence album was better than the Adele one, right?

Ant and Dec are talking to that Jack Garratt who won the - what is it called? - person most likely to have gone to the Brits School prize. James Bay is also at the table. If the camera pans back, you can see they've been given colouring sheets and crayons to keep them busy during the evening.

Another break, even though there's only one performance left.

We've had a preview of Adele's dress for the final performance. It's a lovely dress.

Time for one more bit from Ant and Dec. They don't do any gags in it.

So, what have we learned?

Adele is that rare thing: a person who scoops up all the awards and, even though she might not have actually been the very best in each category, she feels like a compromise everyone can get behind. That's quite special.

Half the Bowie tribute actually worked quite well; Lorde was probably one of few artists who sat at the nexus of 'good enough to do it, famous enough to do it, not too famous to overshadow it'. The other half, though clearly well-meant, felt like something the BAFTAs would have rejected as feeling out of pace with a modern awards show.

The person who was responsible for lighting most of the performances didn't appear to realise it was going to be going out on television.

When they weren't giving awards to Adele, they might as well have burned the bloody things.

Coldplay are now never going to bloody go away, are they?

They close with a highlights package, which is effectively James Bay over and over again.

And finally... Ticketmaster appear to think Elton John had died:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Chris Moyles tries to distance 'some of my best friends' style comment by saying he's aware it's a 'some of my best friends' comment

Miranda Sawyer delivered a sympathetic interview with Chris Moyles for yesterday's Observer; she was firm with him and, for his part, he came across warmer than he has for quite a while. Although he still tried to skip the difficult questions:

I ask him about being involved in a tax avoidance scheme, and he gets frustrated again. He gives me a very long explanation that boils down to: he thought it was OK and it turned out it wasn’t and he paid it back in full.
Yeah. Because if you're claiming tax for being a second-hand car salesperson, and you don't sell cars, what possible reason for thinking it might be dodgy could there be?

Sawyer talks about sexuality, and his apparent problems with it, and as in the past he reaches for his transgender friend as proof that he can't possibly be homophobic. He's tried this tack in the past, and has been derided for such an obvious "some of my best friends are..." pitch; but he seems to have come up with an answer for that:
“I’m not homophobic, but what can I say about that?” he says. “Whatever I say sounds like ‘some of my best friends are black’. Christ almighty, one of my best friends came out a couple of years ago as transgender. Simon is now Steph, which is fine. But I don’t know what to say about that. Because if I say the wrong thing, I’ll be crucified in Leicester Square.”
The trouble is, having gay friends doesn't 'prove' that you're not gay; not really knowing the difference between transgender people and gay people doesn't entirely make the case any stronger.

Let's just remind ourselves of Moyles' Will Young joke, shall we?
During the imitation the presenter adopted an effeminate and high pitched

When singing his alternative version of ‘Evergreen’, Chris Moyles broadcast the
lyrics: “It’s my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I’ve had
a shower and I’ve shaved my legs. Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner.”

During the alternative version of ‘Leave Right Now’, Chris Moyles broadcast the
lyrics: “Oooh Will Young here, mmmmh. I’m here, it’s Will’s birthday and as the years
go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn’t know, but now I’m
the gayest fella you probably know. mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by
the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I’m Will Young and I’m gay.”
But it's okay, because he's got one friend who is a transgender person.

I think all that really proves, Chris, is that Steph is more tolerant than you are.

Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas drinks so much, he forgets himself

Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas is off on a tour of Australia right now. Although he nearly had to come back straight away after "making a joke":

“I keep drinking until I think I’m a black Australian”.
Considering there's such a serious alcohol problem amongst Indigenous Australains that it's the main cause of a horrifying death rate amongst the group, if Thomas had known quite what he was saying, that would be career-endingly shameful.

As it turns out, Thomas was horrified to discover the truth:
“I said I drank until I thought I was Australian. Then I drank so much that I thought I was a black Australian and then I drank so much I thought I was a little Australian girl.

“These were 3 things I chose at random to represent 3 things I’m not. I’m not Australian. I’m not black and I’m not a little girl.”

Thomas said that had he known there was a “connection between the indigenous peoples of Australia and a stereotype involving drinking” he would have chosen another example.

“I was so ignorant to the situation that when I heard people groan I actually thought THEY were being racist. I didn’t know until TODAY that just the phrase ‘black Australian’ was racist all on it’s own. (sic)

“I sat in my room and I cried when I found out.”

Thomas said he was “truly sorry” for how the joke was delivered, “most of all to the indigenous people here”.
That seems heartfelt, and genuine. It's what contrition looks like.

He had the grace to admit he got things wrong, and to apologise.

Let's move on.

Except... to play the Columbo 'one last thing' card...

Leaving aside the specific Australian angle, we're still left with something difficult.

In trying to conjure up something different to himself, Thomas thought of a black man.

Now, he could have said he'd drunk so much he thought he was a dragon, or Napoleon, or a teapot, or the singer in a half-decent band. There's a lot of things that are completely unlike him.

But instead, the most distant thing he can come up with from himself is a black man.

Yeah, I suspect it's true that Thomas doesn't have much idea how far the experiences of typical black men - American or Australian - differ from his life. That might be the problem, Rob.

And a quick aside: even without the awkward race angle, going on stage and talking about how much you've drunk isn't an act; it's a stag party organised by bores.

Brits 2016: James Bay hasn't bothered to check Lily Allen's arguments, but pretty sure they're wrong

James Bay - who clearly is never going to take the hat off, is he? Like a BHS version of Jamiroquai - is caught in war of words with Lily Allen.

Yeah, it's a bit like the European Union Referendum, in that whoever is in the right you're still going to end up in a group that makes you feel uncomfortable.

The story so far is that Allen has looked at the shortlist for this year's awards, and noticed that being white and being nominated appears to correlate quite closely.

James is sad she had to say such things.

He first picks up on Allen's claim that the shortlist could have been put together by Alan Partridge:

“I haven’t seen REO Speedwagon in the nominations, so I don’t know if it’s entirely Partridge."
That sort of pedantic-but-missing-the-point response is, in itself, a perfect Partridge - it's "I've got a hundred and four friends".
It’s varied nominations. It’s about music. I don’t know why she’s had to go down that route.

"I haven’t looked closely into all the nominations but it’s interesting she should bring that up."
James, there, happily claiming the nominations are are varied while admitting that he hasn't "looked closely" at them. It's like claiming all the tracks on Bay's album are wheezy half-baked nursery rhymes without having listened to closely to them.

What's more disappointing though, is that Bay's response to a not unreasonable complaint about a lack of diversity in the nominations is to say "I don't know why she's had to go down that route."

"That route", eh, James? Why's she had to point out that the shortlist seems only interested in what the white kids are doing?

James appears to believe that "it's music" is enough to explain why so very, very few black musicians have been deemed good enough to get a place on the shortlist. That's a very bad look, James. You're effectively saying "hey, if some black acts had managed to make a decent record, their music would have lifted them onto the shortlist". By trying to insist the Brits shortlist is colourblind, you're just dismissing black artists in the same way the Brits panel has done.

Still, James isn't going to get into that - he's going to attack Allen directly instead:
"I can’t think of her last album, when she last released something.”
Yeah, it's true that Allen hasn't released a record in 2015, but she did in 2014, and it went straight to number one. It's not like she's Wendy James.

More importantly, you shouldn't need to have had a hit single in the last twelve months to call the Brits out on this.

And, although Lily hasn't always been above criticism for her actions not meeting her words in the past, if the best response to 'why is this list so white' you can come up with is 'you haven't had an album out in 18 months', you might be better off shutting up.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

50 Cent might not be as broke as he claims

If you're filing for protective bankruptcy to avoid having to pay people what you owe, there are some things you might not want to be doing.

Fifty Cent's Instagram of him ironically spelling out the word "broke" using money has landed him a trip to court to explain.

I collect, I reject: A fool and his money are soon centre-parted

Someone's just splashed 24 thousand quid on a lock of John Lennon's hair.

Imagine no possessions, eh? Whatever would we have to put into auctions.

This week just gone

The most-read pieces last week:

1. Peter Gabriel on Pussy Riot
2. RIP Vi Subversa
3. Kesha reminds us what a terrible place the music industry is
4. NME Awards 2016
5. The perpetually popular last Mark & Lard show
6. Grammy Awards 2016
7. Wendy James - back back back
8. 2014 Valete
9. Pete Doherty follows Jimmy Saville
10. Jo O'Meara's not sorry about the Big Brother racism thing

These were the week's interesting releases:

Basia Balat - Good Advice

Download Good Sdvice

Lissie - My Wild West

Download My Wild West

Rokia Traore - Ne So

Download Ne So

Lacey Sturm - Life Screams

Download Life Screams