Sunday, May 22, 2016

Apparently it was the FA Cup Final yesterday

When did we start having people pop up to sing the national anthem at sporting events? It seems that's a thing now; and yesterday at Wembley they got someone off the X Factor - Karen Harding - to do the honours.

Trouble is, she missed her cue and had to skip a bit of the first verse.

The Independent might be overselling what happened a little:


This week just gone

We've been on holiday and not updating these on Sunday mornings for a short while - this was the most recent collection of then-new releases:


Guided By Voices - Please Be Honest


Download Please Be Honest



Wire - Nocturnal Koreans


Download Nocturnal Koreans



Sandy Denny - I've Always Kept A Unicorn


Download A Unicorn



Rufus Wainwright - Take All My Loves


Download Take All My Loves



We Are Scientists - Helter Seltzer


Download Helter Seltzer


Monday, May 16, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Russia aren't happy

The victory for Ukraine at Eurovision on Saturday night hasn't gone down well everywhere. And by "everywhere", I mean "at the Kremlin".

Russia really isn't happy:

“This is partly a consequence of the propaganda war of information that is being waged against Russia,” claimed Russian MP Elena Drapeko. “There is a general demonisation of Russia – that we are all evil, that our athletes are doping, that our planes violate airspace.”
Nobody in the west believes that, Elena. Well, not the "evil" bit. Well, not that all Russians are evil.
Konstantin Kosachev, the top foreign policy official of Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the vote had not been about the quality of the performances: “Music lost, because victory clearly did not go to the best song, and the contest lost because political attitudes prevailed over fair competition.”
The trouble with this is that if Ukraine hadn't won, Australia would have won anyway, and Russia would still just have come in second. I think Elena Drapeko might want to add "the west thinks we're really whiny bad losers, too."

Perhaps the loudest independent voice to chime in was Neil Clark, who ventured a scorching attack on Eurovision:
RIP Eurovision, 1956-2016
"Independent" in this sense is "in a piece he wrote for RT, the Putin-sponsored Russian news channel.

You might be wondering who Neil Clark is:
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger[...] He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia.
Iran's Press TV. Putin's Russia Today. Murdoch's Sky News.

His biography also proudly states:
His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com
And it certainly can - and let's not suggest there's anything a little desperate about trumpeting "award winning" when that award was the UK category in the 2007 weblog awards. It shows that Neil is not a stranger to the world of public acclamation, thereby making him the perfect expert here.

So, Neil, why is this the end of Eurovision?
Mark the date. Saturday May 14, 2016, the day the music died and a song contest whose well-intentioned original aim of national harmony has become the latest front in the Western elite’s obsessional and relentless new Cold War against Russia.
Letts have confirmed that next year's diaries will include those words printed next to May 14th.
A blatantly political song by Ukraine - which should not have been allowed in the contest in the first place as it clearly broke the European Broadcasting Union’s ‘No Politics’ rules - was declared the ‘winner’ of the Eurovision Song Contest, even though the country which got the most votes from the general public was Russia.
Winner in quotes, there, because it wasn't the real winner simply because the rules stated that the general public and jury votes were equally weighted in deciding the winner.
What helped Ukraine ‘win’ were the ‘national juries’ panels of so-called ‘music industry professionals’ who were given 50 percent of the votes and who only put Russia in joint fifth place, with 81 fewer points than Ukraine.
The juries were made up of such puppets, you'll note, they don't just have to be put into quotes, but also require the stress that these are so-called music industry professionals.

The trouble is, the list of jurors shows that they are actually music industry professionals - in that they have jobs where they make a living connected to the production, promotion or distribution of music. Perhaps Neil meant to deploy his condescension against the idea that the jurors were independent, or successful, or well-known, or respected. Those are matters of debate. That they are music industry professionals, though, is a fact.

Still, Neil doesn't have time for that pesky fact-checking. We're talking about something as serious as a stolen election here:
What we saw last night, as some on Twitter have commented, was a replay of the 2000 US Presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, when Gore got the most votes, but the neocon-backed Bush made it to the White House. The Establishment may give us plebs a say, but it has mechanisms to make sure that it gets the result it most desires.
Neil's whole piece seems to be based on the idea that Eurovision had a desperate desire to haul the show out to Kiev for next year. If the "establishment" had really wanted to rig things, it would have engineered an Australia win which would have allowed the site of next year's contest to be picked to give a less inconvenient and expensive show.
The prospect of a Russian Eurovision win and next year’s contest being held in Moscow certainly seems to have caused great panic in Western Establishment circles.
Sweetie, we've established that David Cameron needs someone to whisper Rita Ora song titles in his ear; the thought that he's sitting in a COBRA meeting panicking about the bookies' favourite for Eurovision is a bit of a stretch.
We’ve already got the next football World Cup scheduled to be held in Russia in 2018- an event which has come under attack from Russophobes who are calling for boycotts or for the tournament to be transferred; having Eurovision in Russia as well would clearly be too much for them.
These angry Russophobes, you'll recall, ensured that Russia didn't get to host the 2009 contest. Except, of course, they didn't, and the official Eurovision write-up of Moscow's last contest is suitably breathless:
They organised one of the biggest contest in the history as for example, a total of 1/3 of the world’s LED screens were at the arena during the event!
For Neil, though, this isn't about Eurovision. It's about Syria. Yes, Syria:
For daring to resist Western regime change plans in Syria and elsewhere, Russia should be sanctioned and isolated and not be hosting international events watched by millions of people around the world!
An unnamed "Eurovision source" told the Daily Mirror that the EBU was worried about a Russia victory, and that's good enough for Neil:
We heard earlier that the European Broadcasting Union was very worried about Russia winning Eurovision 2016 and by jove, they did everything they could to prevent that from happening. It wasn’t just the voting system – with ‘national juries’ used to skew public opinion...
Except the changes to the voting system were announced long before it became clear that Russia had a half-decent entry.

But what other sly tricks did the EBU have to hand?
it was also the running order, in which Jamala, the Ukrainian contestant, was given a prime Number 21 slot to sing ‘1944’.

In modern Eurovision contests, in which there are so many countries taking part, singing towards the end of the show is usually a major advantage.

Would Jamala have done as well if she’d been asked to go on fifth? I very much doubt it.
Russia, then, had their chances ruined by performing at 18th, finishing a full seven minutes before Ukraine began.

It's worth noting that if going on later meant a massive advantage, the UK - who played last-but-one - should have done better than trotting in at 24th.
In the end, the EBU got the result they wanted. But in doing so they have destroyed the contest. Eurovision has for long been plagued by bloc voting - in which countries vote for their neighbours - but what we saw last night was something different altogether. The contest has never been so blatantly political and the agenda so obvious.
So, Neil appears to be relatively sanguine about the idea that countries may vote strongly for their friends next door, but outraged if there's a friendly leg-up given to a country with which no borders are shared.
Genuine Eurovision fans, who believe the contest should simply be about voting for the best song regardless of what one thinks of that country politically, are appalled at what happened.
Are they, though, Neil? Are they? Genuine Eurovision fans spend the contest comparing contestants to morphed members of the XX. When Russia were doing their thing, our Eurovision party was too busy giggling that he appeared to be singing while pooping in a giant ice toilet to have been assembling a critique of Russian policy on EU expansion.
Take the voting of the UK ‘national jury’. Britain’s ‘music industry professionals’ gave 10 points to Ukraine, but none to a Russian song which the general public liked best. Bias? Perish the thought, old chap ! I’m sure Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond heartily approved of the panel’s conclusions.
If the UK was really trying to rig things, why would they have given their 12 to, erm, Georgia?

The idea of Philip Hammond sitting up late on Saturday, waiting for a call from Sean McGee to confirm that the judges had done their bit for The Queen; replacing a telephone receiver with a satisfied smile is delicious, isn't it?
As I’ve noted on OpEdge before, the British public doesn’t share the elite’s anti-Russian prejudices and this was reflected in the results of the public vote - in which Russia came fourth - ahead of Ukraine.
Yes. There's no reason why a popular vote would reflect that of an expert panel. That's why they use a mixture of the two, Neil.
The disconnect between national juries and the general public was seen in many other countries too.
Yes. That's not unusual, Neil. Have you ever watched... well, have you ever watched television? Have you ever, for example, seen the way the judges on Strictly award sets of results that aren't matched by the results of the telephone voting? It's not because Len is part of a massive conspiracy against minor EastEnders cast members; it's because professional judges are watching out for different things compared with people on the sofa.

Hang on, Neil's gone over to the chalkboard. He's writing numbers up:
The Serbian national jury gave 12 points to Ukraine, but the Serbian people voted for Russia. Israel’s national jury gave no points to Russia but 12 to Ukraine, the Israeli public by contrast put Russia second. It’s also worth pointing out that Ukraine public also put Russia first- showing that anti-Russian hostility is in the country is very much elite-driven.
But, hey, you don't have to take his word for it. He's got an independent witness:
Those who thought Eurovision was about voting for the best song were left scratching their heads after last night’s conclusion.

Paddy Power – who in common with other bookmakers had Russia as the red-hot favorite, spoke for millions when he tweeted

How did this song win? Rubbish
Sweetly, Neil appears to not only believe that there's a person called Paddy Power, but that Paddy Power himself sits composing tweets deep into the night.
The answer to Paddy’s question was provided succinctly by Dan Eccles ‘Politics init’.

While Russians will understandably feel cheated – in one way what happened last night was good as it shows to everyone the limits of democracy in the West.
Yeah, up until that point everyone thought democracy was perfect, but then suddenly they went "hey, if a hybrid system of a jury panel and a popular phone vote where anyone can dial in as many votes for as many participants as they please, how can we still have faith in our Parish Council elections?" and went out to smash up the graves of all the Chartists.
People have to be seen to be given a voice – but to make sure the result is not one that elites don’t like ‘blocks’ have to be put in place.
Oddly, Neil doesn't seem to be that bothered that for the vast bulk of Eurovision history, the people had no voice at all and it was all decided in smokey back rooms.

Hang about, though, he's about to make this about, erm, the US Democratic party:
In the US, the peoples candidate Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary Clinton in the race to get the Democratic nomination, but even if he does catch Hillary the Hawk, the candidate of Wall Street and the military/industrial complex, there’s the unelected ‘Super Delegates’ - of whom Clinton is said to have the support of 524, compared to Sanders’ 40.
Yeah - take that, Hillary. Except currently the number of votes cast for Hillary is 12,524,845 and for Bernie is 9,426,517, so she's ahead on the popular vote, too. Maybe the Dems let her go on and do her song second, though, Neil?
Last summer in Britain, the antiwar left-winger Jeremy Corbyn swept to victory in the election to be Labour leader, having been supported in large numbers by the party’s ordinary members and supporters. The party’s Blairite Establishment though were clearly rattled by this outbreak of genuine democracy and plans are afoot to change Labour’s leadership rules to give MPs - who are far to the right of the membership - more say in electing the leader
Yeah, that nasty old Labour elite, who brought in the rules which allowed one member one vote in the first place.
What elites in ‘democratic’ US and Europe are terrified of is people being allowed to decide things without any undemocratic ‘blocks’ being in place.
Neil, sweetie, this is a piece about the Eurovision song contest. The only people who care about who wins the Eurovision Song Contest by the following Monday are compilers of trivia questions, people who book guests for reality shows, and - it turns out - Putin.
If the plebs, after all the brainwashing and pro-Establishment propaganda, do happen to vote the ‘wrong way’ then they’re told they simply have to vote again - as the Irish were told when they refused to support the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in 2008. And does anyone seriously doubt that if the British do decide to vote for Brexit on the 23rd, the EU won’t try to get the result reversed?
Even Neil, it seems, has lost interest in the Eurovision by this point, and has instead gone into some sort of Rik From The Young Ones/Nigel Farage mash-up.
Perhaps David Cameron - if he watched Eurovision last night - will actually change the terms of a referendum so that an appointed ‘national jury’ of ‘experts’ will have a 50 percent say in the result.
Ha ha ha. Do you see? WAKE UP SHEEPLE.
If Eurovision had been decided by the popular vote alone then Russia and not Ukraine would have been crowned winner last night. Thank god for the super delegates, oh sorry, ‘music industry professionals’, who made sure that a ‘nightmare’ result for the Russophobic Western establishment was avoided. It may ‘only’ be a song contest but the result was clearly of great importance to some people.
Yes. Had the vote been decided in a way that it never has been during the 60 years of its history, the outcome would have been different. In much the same way that if the 'Premiership' was decided by a public vote instead of 'scores' on the 'pitch', Manchester United would be going to Europe next season.

The real problem with Neil's piece, though, is that the number of points awarded to winner of the popular vote wasn't predetermined. It would have been possible - quite easily - for a large enough vote on the phones to have powered Russia from its position to the top of the poll. (You only have to look at how Poland bounced up the list when the public votes were added in to see how that works.)

Still, someone writing for the Kremlin-funded Russia Today should be taken seriously when they suggest a vote has been rigged. Judging by the Crimea referendum, it's an area the Kremlin knows a thing or two about. And that vote was rather more significant than a pop beauty parade.


Azealia Banks issues half-apology written by her PR team

You'll recall that last time we came across Azealia Banks, the Zac Goldsmith of pop had taken to Twitter to call Zayn Malik a "curry scented bitch".

Well, her PR team have found enough space between updating their LinkedIn profiles to get an apology of sorts out via Instagram.

Instagram might seem an odd choice, but it's one of the few social networks Banks is welcome on at the moment.

How has it taken so long for this apology to appear? It turns out being racist and homophobic is something you have to spend some time thinking about:

Now that the immediacy of the infamous incident has worn off, I've had some time to decompress & take a more rational assessment of things.
You just know you're being set up for a bullshit empty apology-shaped hole when the person won't even mention what they're supposedly sorry for.

But, yeah, you've had the best part of a week to "rationally assess" attacking someone using racist and homophobic language. What did you come up with?
I want to extend my sincerest apologies to the world
Not specifically to Zayn, the man she insulted, you'll note, but - hey - he's part of the world, right?
Employing racial/sexual slurs/stereotypes in attempts to make fun of or degrade another person or group is not fair or fun for anyone
To be honest, Azealia, you did look like you were having a lot of fun doing it while it was happening.
Allowing my anger to get the best of me, I’ve managed to insult millions of people without reason. And for that I give my deepest apologies.
Ah, so it wasn't Azealia's fault, really; it was just that she got angry she turned into a racist homophobic shit. She's kind of a Hulk/Trump hybrid, it turns out.

And the whole "curry-scented" thing? Why, that wasn't meant to be insulting at all. It's just good old fashioned humour:
She said she was repeating a joke from her native New York – where nearly half of cab drivers were born in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan – that taxis smelled like curry.

“I feel compelled to clear the air with curry itself because that’s a bridge I don’t want to burn. I still want to be able to enjoy it freely without guilt or judgment,” she wrote.
So, during this heartfelt apology to the world in general, the only entity which got a direct sorry was a foodstuff. Maybe she meant it was heartburn apology.

Trouble with this is that the "joke" that taxis smell of curry is racist in itself, so you're only saying that you were being derivatively unpleasant rather than creatively unpleasant. And as Zayn isn't actually a taxi, neither the joke nor the explanation makes sense anyway.

Doesn't really work as an apology, does it?


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Tumblr speaks

http://amywiliams.tumblr.com/post/144390517611/welovesandalwood-idgafoskitten-so-far


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Eurovision 2016: The liveblog

It's that time of the year again, with an additional element for the liveblog in 2016: I'm jetlagged to hell. We've already had the first broken glass of the evening.

But, if I stay awake and manage not to cut myself to ribbons, we'll be back in about half an hour to try and make sense of whatever's happening in Stockholm.

7.50pm
If tonight's show doesn't start with a ten minute interpretative dance in memory of Terry Wogan, I'll be vexed. ("And there's the dancers representing the Eastern bloc, dancing together while the UK dancer dances alone, at the edge, unwatched and unloved."

8.00
"Scenes of repetitive flashing lights" - the least of the threats, surely?

The sound seems a bit scrappy already.

Hand-folded flags. Never let it be said the Swiss don't make an effort.

8.02
They're coming out on stage like a mix between the finals of Next Top Model and the Olympics opening ceremony.

What are these people wearing? It's like sex meringues.

The guys at Fuze who have brought this to the US must be sitting at home now wondering if they'll have jobs in the morning. "Nobody warned us that they'd be shopping for costumes at Lady GaGa's outlet mall, boss."

8.05
It's time to meet the hosts. Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede. The former last year's winner, the latter "a comedian and dancer". Not entirely sure needing a second string to your bow is the mark of a great comedian. Especially if that string is dancing.

8.10
China AND the US are watching. That's a warning, rather than a statement of pride.

Mans is wearing a wine-waiter's uniform - come from his main job, then. Petra is wearing a glittery curtain. She expresses the hope that this is an event which will bring everyone together. I expect Leave.EU is already sending an angry letter claiming BBC bias.

UK viewers cannot vote by text, for some reason. Presumably because the new voting system is complex enough without also needing 26 short codes as well.

8.11
Mercifully little pre-show business before we get to act one.

Belguim
Laura Tesoro
What's The Pressure

Ooh, the onscreen graphics are brilliant this year.

Laura appears to be doing Another One Bites The Dust.

In fact, this seems to be an as-yet-undiscovered Robin Sparkles track. I hope the robot comes on.

I am always a sucker for space-age silver shorts, though.

There's a speaky bit in the middle, too.

For some reason I'm getting the urge to pop down to the mall.

8.16

Czech Republic
Gabriela Gunčíková
I Stand

The first time they've ever made it through to the Grand Final, apparently.

Ah, they've gone with a mid-80s Bond Theme.

Did she just sing "perky android standing there, you're the one who always cares."

Jesus, this songs already feels like it's been going for three hours.

I can't work out if she's wearing a bustle or I'm being incredibly mean to a woman with a large butt.

8.20

Netherlands
Douwe Bob
Slow Down

Railing against the modern world, says Graham Norton. Judging by the way he looks like just-post-Take-That Robbie Williams, the "modern world" is anything post 1995.

This is the sort of music you'd hear if they tried to make Loretta Lynn into a Disney Princess.

I thought it was mercifully short. But it was just a pause in the middle.

The pause in the middle was the best bit.

8.23

Azerbaijan
Samra
Miracle

Wasn't Samra one of the characters in The Lion King?

She's gone all-out with a nude-look bodysuit that makes it look like she's being attacked by golden snakes, but the song's so forgettable that I can't even remember what it was like and it's still currently playing.

Her backing dancers look like they've made their own costumes with gold spray paint and some old sports locker equipment. Bless.

"Mirror-mirror-miracle". Seriously?


8.28

Hungary
Freddie
Pioneer

Freddie looks like he could be cast as a bad boy in Neighbours.

Oh, there's a massive drum on stage. Chekhov warns us that it's going to be hit before the song is out.

There's also whistling.

Not entirely clear if the high notes are meant to be there, or if Freddie is wearing tight undies.

He sings of the hopes of a million people. A million people are hoping he'll just go away.

He couldn't decide if he was going to tuck his shirt in or not, so it was half-and-half. Kind of a metaphor for the song.

8.32

Italy
Francesca Michielin
No Degree Of Separation

Francesca is 'the slightly alternative one from a US sitcom', but for some reason is doing her song live from Tracy Barlow's flower shop.

Jesus, the shop's flooded. Todd must have left the tap on. Or maybe Phelan broke in and switched all the taps on to frame Todd. That's what's happening.

This is one of those songs which no amount of firm hand-waving can disguise is a bit lightweight.


8.36

Israel
Hovi Star
Made Of Stars

Hovi is also a bit gothy. Not quite Fall Out Boy, more like Background Radiation Kid.

Nice glittery glove-things. Lovely lips. Ponderous, triumphalist emptiness for the song, though.

"We are made of stars. We are. We are. We are." It's like Mrs Doyle crossed with Moby.

8.40

Bulgaria
Poli Genova
If Love Was A Crime

Oh no, she's got something on her teeth. Are there no mirrors backstage?

Outfit is very much second-string Batman villain.

"If love was a crime" this would be community service at best.

This is the best song so far, which shows how thin the field has been so far.

8.43

Sweden
Frans
If I Were Sorry

Graham Norton's just done a sweet thing about Terry Wogan. There was even a catch in his voice.

George Ezra lite. #sorrynotsorry.

A salutary reminder that there are still branches of C&A trading on mainland Europe.

Frans has just used the phrase "the devil in disguise", which is the complete opposite of his outfit, which is more "junior manager on dress-down Friday".

The audience have clapped along, though.

8.50

Germany
Jamie-Lee
Ghost

Tim Burton's The Late Show. Clearly, they're hoping that the elaborate hat will stop people noticing the kinderwhore dress. I swear that hat can pick up shortwave radio.

It feels like something Chvrches might have come up with in a rehearsal room, and probably left there.

8.52

France
Amir
J'ai cherché

We've had a Neighbours bad boy already; Amir is more a Corrie type - the sort of person who'd menace Roys Rolls for two episodes.

I hope he's not going to do the whole thing in a squatting position.

Although for some reason 'a squatting position' suggests how the song might have been written.

I'm sure this has been used to sell mobile phones already, and often.

I think he said he's been looking for us "like a manatee on my soul".

8.56

Poland
Michał Szpak
Color Of Your Life

Ah, it's a Nickelback tribute act. Albeit dressed as a Janet Jackson backing singer.

Sadly, Michal, there's no prize for largest epaulettes in Eurovision.

How's the song? So dull, I'm going to mention instead that the cut of his coat would mean he could poop without taking it off.

"What colour is your life?" he asks, presumably because it intends to drain it.

9.00
Only two and a half hours to go, everybody.

They're doing a 'while the others are watching ads' bit. Mans says it's like being at a football game, "but with more champagne." What football games is he going to where there's any champagne?

9.02

Australia
Dami Im
Sound Of Silence

Australians appeared last year as a one-off, but now aren't leaving. I think we've all had Australian house guests like that.

Let's hope 'sound of silence' is a promise, not a title.

Her dress is a reminder that I need to buy a new large roll of bubble wrap.

Dami says her heart beats with the sound of silence. So, it doesn't beat, then.

She's now being menaced by floating ghostly faces. I'm assuming they're missing kids she's cut off milk cartons.

"Seriously impressive lungs" says Graham. If only it was an offal contest, though.

9.07

Cyprus
Minus One
Alter Ego

Your dad still plays in a rock band with his mates from the post office, then.

Here's a tip: unless you're absolutely sure your track isn't derivative, don't include the line "I've heard it all before" in the lyrics of your Eurovision entry.

The band name isn't miles away from a fair estimate of what their final score will be.



9.12

Serbia
Sanja Vučić ZAA
Goodbye (Shelter)

So this is *serious face* about issues. Which is a bit like turning up at a barbecue to discuss global warming - sure, Al, it's important but we're trying to have a nice time tonight.

They've just mimed a sexual assault as part of the performance. It was even more awkward than the key-change that followed.

9.15

Lithuania
Donny Montell
I've Been Waiting for This Night

A mini-trampoline is promised for this one.

Actually, Al, come back, let's hear some more about the ice caps.

I see Donny has borrowed the white jacket for tonight.

The good news is that Lithuania has finally received copies of Smash Hits from 1982. Maybe they'll get some tapes from the 80s delivered soon, instead of trying to guess what the haircuts sounded like.

9.19

Croatia
Nina Kraljić
Lighthouse

Nina looks a little too pleased with herself. Like someone who carries a book everywhere because "I don't watch too much TV, I like to get my ideas from the source, yeah?"

She's come on stage now. Apparently got tangled in the shower curtain backstage and just had to accept that.

Underneath the shower curtain was some more shower curtain.

This is less lighthouse, more outhouse.

9.23

Russia
Sergey Lazarev
You Are The Only One

The phrase "poodle strudel" might be the best thing that has happened so far this evening.

Bookies favourite, so I'm expecting a lot.

Well, not a lot. It's not a place where you expect a lot.

There's some strange shadow puppet stuff going on behind him, but, oh the lyrics - "thunder and lightning, very exciting". Isn't that Queen?

The interaction with the screen behind him is clever. But there's not as much thought gone into interacting with the screen in front of him.

Sergey has the air of a cheeky chappie. Approach with caution.

9.27

Spain
Barei
Say Yay!

Say yay suggests not too much overtaxing of the lyricists by Spain.

Barei (or is it Kylie from Corrie) does a faux-fall, which might have been more effective if Graham hadn't mentioned it before the song came on.

She feels like a broken mirror. Seven years' bad luck, then.

That was alright, actually.

9.31

"You are watching the Eurovision Song Contest" says Petra. In case you thought this was BBC Two and you were sitting through a modern-dress Shakespeare.

Latvia
Justs
Heartbeat


Justs... no.

He sings like Tina Turner, but with his knob caught in a zipper.

9.36

Ukraine
Jamala
1944

About Stalin's treatment of minorities in the Soviet Era. "Look, Al, just put the pamphlets down there and have a beer. Honestly, we'll read them after the guests have gone."

You can't argue that it's not heartfelt. And to be fair to Ukraine, they don't get many Europe-wide platforms to remind people what cocks Russia are to them.

Worth voting for just to annoy Putin.

9.40

Malta
Ira Losco
Walk On Water

They've sent a pregnant contestant. What's the maternity leave provision like in Valetta?

She looks like a Scouse Mariah Carey tribute act.

This song makes no sense - she can't get enough of our love because she feels like she can walk on water? And she can't get enough of our love, but she can't get us out of her heart? But why would she want to get us out her heart unless she'd had enough of our love?

9.44

Georgia
Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz
Midnight Gold

It's My Sharona in a James Bay hat.

Hold on, one looks like the lead singer of Nowaysis.

I wonder how long they had to beg the director to use mid 70s Top Of The Pops split screen and multiplication techniques before he agreed?

9.48

Austria
ZOË
Loin d'ici

Presumably not the Zoe who did Sunshine On A Rainy Day?

She is so smiley. Look at that smile. She's smiling. SHE IS SO HAPPY. You know like a dog where they've photoshopped a smile on? She's like that. She has a big smile. A massive smile.

Clearly, she's crying inside, like the mother of a thousand children tortured in a war that never ends.

But outside, she has a big smile.

Horrible flesh coloured dress. Something even the cruellest Bridezilla wouldn't have forced on her least-favoured bridesmaid.

The song? Something played during a chase scene in a romcom.

9.52

UK
Joe and Jake
You're Not Alone

Graham says they might be dancing on his face by the end of the song.

I daren't even check the Urban Dictionary for that one.

You'll know this - Ant And Dec doing a theme tune for ITV coverage of the European Cup-Winner's Cup.

Providing Katy Perry doesn't turn up with a lawsuit halfway through, this isn't the worst thing we've done in Europe.

"I feel like I'm dancing in the sky". Over to you, Elton Welsby.

9.56

Armenia
Iveta Mukuchyan
LoveWave

LoveWave sounds like a product that exists solely to be bought as a joke gift for hen nights.

It's Kiss Of The Spiderwoman!

No, scrap that, it's B-and-Q-once.

Armenia very much exploring how firm the softcore porn can be before someone pulls the plug.


10.00
On the button, we're at the end of the music. "Swedish song contest" the new "Swiss watch".

That Jacobi/McKellen bit would have worked better if any of the 200 million viewers had ever seen an ITV sitcom.

10.02
Graham Norton still halfway through explaining the new voting rules, and George Galloway is already filing an official objection with the Electoral Commission.

10.05
Meanwhile, in the real world:


Boris and the Brexit twits are convinced we don't have a voice in Europe. Mate, the EU isn't what not having a say in Europe looks like. THIS is what that looks like:


Although maybe we're being given a subliminal message:


10.10
We're in the green room now. It feels "like a lovefest" says Mans.

Justin Timberlake has arrived. Remember, when asking 'how did Timberlake end up here' he's a man who invested heavily in turning MySpace into the music force it is today.

Mans asks Justin if he's heard of the show before. Justin says he's seen the last two. I'm interpreting that as "my PA sent a DVD with the last two on."

Sweden now mentioning that Abba came from Sweden.

10.15
A four minute guide to 42 years of Swedish music. It's brave enough to include Roxette. Like a truth and reconciliation committee.

10.19
Justin Timberlake. They're clearly thrilled to have him. It's like when your nan gives you a Christmas gift that she thinks is perfect, but it's actually related to a hobby you had five years ago and have long since outgrown.

The reaction isn't great:


It's like a Harry Enfield's self-righteous brothers sketch:
"Timberlake might have won our hearts by emerging from the crush of an imploding boyband with his dignity intact, and his talent undiminished, but if he was to turn up at Eurovision trying to flog his new album, I'd yell OI - TIMBERLAKE - NOOOOOO."

10.25


The lines are still open. Why are they taking so long? Is everyone in Crimea having to share a phone to vote?

10.28
This is the best thing tonight:


10.31
They've got the winner of last year's Junior Eurovision on. Nope, me neither.

10.32
Petra's done a costume change, and is trying a bit of Merkel style scripted sterness.

It's some 'ultimate Eurovision winner' schtick.

This is unprecedented - it's a comedy bit that actually is mildly amusing - "having a DJ s actually thirty years old, but in Eurovision it'll give you a contemporary feel".

I'm going to shift my vote to Sweden. They can be trusted with this shit.

10.38
Hang on a moment, they're doing another comedy bit. It's unwinding a bit.

10.40
The lines are still open. Was there a vote by post option?

Oh. A third comedy bit.

There's a reason why "treble dipping" isn't a thing.

10.44
Petra's just done a gag about her own mortality. Things are getting a bit grim.

The votes are, at long last, closed.

10.45
Mans is now here in his role as last year's winner. It's a bit awkward, coming ten minutes after he'd just sung a song pointing out every cliche in the Eurovision book, that he now is using every cliche in the Eurovision book.

10.49
They've counted the votes. It's about to get real, people.

Petra is talking about "history", like this is going to change the prices of coal and steel in continental Europe.

10.50
Even they bloke in charge seems confused by the new rules.

National jury votes first, them.

Austria - Lorraine Chase apparently dressed in bathroom tiles gives 12 to Australia. Presumably slightly illiterate voters thinking they were voting for themselves.

Iceland has brought a dog. Petra flirts clumsily. 12 to Netherlands.

10.53
Azerbaijan have sent a Butlins hypnotist. 12 to Russia.

San Marino appears to have got Dappy to give their score. 12 to Ukraine.

10.54
Czech Republic's woman has a massive bun on her head. 12 to Sweden.

Ironically, the point of this new voting system is meant to make the outcome less obvious, but this seems all over the place anyway.

Ireland vote for Belgium.

Georgia has just climbed out of her crypt, and mutters something vaguely threatening about Justin Timberlake. 12 to Ukraine.

10.56
Some elaborate hair from Bosnia, and 12 points to Ukraine.

Malta's guy has taken time off from selling real estate. Petra trying to desperately hurry him along. He's not buying. 12 to the UK.

It shows how shit we are at Eurovision that just coming top in one country's votes is treated like a win.

Spain give 12 to Armenia.

Finland's jury vote is delivered by a low-budget Pee Wee Herman tribute act. 12 to Sweden.

Switzerland are fucking whistling. Petra's pissed off. Australia get the 12.

(Sweden didn't think through having the sting played after every jury vote when they're rushing through the votes like this.)

Denmark give 12 to Ukraine.

11.01
France is wearing the H&M version of Jennifer Lawrence's dress from last week. 12 to Italy.

Moldova nail it, though - she's come dressed as Imperial era Timberlake. Nice bit of crossplay. 12 to Ukraine.

(It would help if the sting wasn't constantly threatening to break into Psycho Killer).

Armenia bloke wearing same outfit as Moldova, but not as well - 12 to Ukraine.

A game show host from 1970s Cyprus gives 12 to Russia.

Bulgaria has a red suit split at the shoulders. 12 to Armenia.

11.04
Is that velvet being rocked by The Netherlands? I think it's velvet. 12 to Australia.

Latvia has sent a tourist punk. 12 to Ukraine. He might have been doing fake sign language.

Israel next. But they're not there. Petra tries to fill - "anything can still happen". There's a note of rising panic in her voice.

11.07
Australia are leading at this stage - so, a tiny Union Jack is at the top of the scoreboard, which hasn't happened this century. That's something.

11.08
NOW it's Israel. Bill Nye doing their votes for them, by the look of it. 12 to Ukraine.

The voting, clearly, is just to piss off Putin.

Belarus... what are you on, Belarus? I think he's high. 12 to Russia, of course.

Germany have come as a 1970s air hostess. 12 to Israel. Ken Livingstone's piping up "that's interesting, of course, because..."

Russia have the best dress so far - your Gazprom dollars well spent, Putin. 12 to Armenia.

11.11
Norway have had a little wine, haven't they? A small wine. Just to take the edge off. 12 to Italy.

Australia have got their head stuck in a lightshade. 12 to Belguim.

Belguim, represented by The Great Soprendo. 12 to Australia.

11.14
Richard Osman. 12 to Georgia. Doesn't even explain what he means by a country.

Croatia give 12 to Australia.

Greece are just kicking back and just enjoying things, yeah? 12 to Russia.

Lithuania have the largest hair ever seen on television. 12 to Australia.

Graham Norton starting to suggest that the new voting system might not have preserved the surprise.

Serbia 12 to Ukraine.

Macedonia haven't bothered to get dressed up, then. 12 to Ukraine.

Albania talks about people who love Albanian music. Not the largest of markets, I suspect. 12 to Australia.

11.18
Estonia give 12 to Sweden.

Ukraine HAVE dressed up. Dressed up as Christopher Biggins, but at least they've dressed up. 12 to Lithuania.

Italy were cruel to you in High School. 12 to Spain.

Poland's massive earrings can't distract from their 12 to Ukraine.

11.21
Slovenia does some DJing at weekends. 12 to Ukraine.

Hungary, severe in canary yellow, like an Anglia Tonight host from 1983. 12 to Australia.

Montenegro is possibly voting through Moby's less successful brother. 12 to Malta.

Final jury is from Sweden. She's popular. 12 to Australia.

11.24
So probably Australia have this in the bag, but there's still the popular vote. Which might change things. But almost certainly won't.

11.26
Now, they're going to split open the popular vote.

The Czechs got bugger all.

The UK got 6.

So that's all over for the UK, then. Not the worst result, not the worst of recent years, but still... pretty shitty overall.

It's already clear that it's possibly Ukraine but probably Australia.

It does show that the juries don't really share the taste of the popular audience at all, I guess.

It looks like the presentation is falling apart a bit, judging by the rictus grins on the faces of Man and Petra.

11.32
They're looking a bit more relaxed now. Have over-run already, though.

Hasn't stopped them dragging out the four highest scores.

Ooh, Australia have only come 4th in popular vote. That's interesting.

Poland, who were hard bottom on jury votes, comes third in popular vote. Really?

Ukraine v Russia in final two for popular vote.

11.36
Ukraine come second in pop vote but overhaul Australia.

Russia win popular vote, but just end up in third.


Okay, then - the scoring system didn't seem that interesting until the very end.

It's a pity, though, as if Australia had won you know we'd have got to host this year.

Tin hats on, then, we're off to Ukraine next year.

11.40
Let's not forget who the real winners are tonight: data journalists:



Jamala a little bit Colin Welland with her bellowing of "UKKKKRAIIINE".

Petra says it's the greatest week she's ever had, although during the jury votes she appeared to age about three years.

The disparity between popular and jury votes does make us more convinced than ever that the juries are selected from people spotted buying CDs in motorway service stations.

Finally, though, here's a selfie from a Eurovision fan:


Do you know the way to Knotty Ash?

The Dionne Warwick biopic sounds like it might be, erm, singular:

[It was] announced at a Cannes Film Festival press conference this morning; with Warwick herself confirming the project. The soul icon also revealed to the crowd that [Cilla] Black – who died last August – “stole” her music, and was her “nemesis”.
Yeah. Cilla Black as the evil genius in a movie. I suppose at least she has a name that sounds like a half-arsed scriptwriter would give to such a character.

Can this project sound any more like something which will never see the light of day?
Lady Gaga has been cast as Cilla Black
Yes. Yes, it can.


The passing of the days is captured in art

From the equally soon-to-be-gone Our Valued Customers:


Twittergem: Spandau Ballet

They don't do it while you wait; it's stictly an Only When You Leave business.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Yacht: coming last in the boat race

Surely the weakest link in Yacht's tiresome sex tape hoax was the fundamental problem that - for their story to have worked - you would have to have believed there was a market for a Yacht sex tape in the first place?


Azeailia Banks: Pretty unpleasant

It's not simply that Azeailia Banks managed to cram quite so much racism and homophobia into her tweets to Zayn Malik; it's the way she discovered to double-down on them:

Throughout the day Banks has continued to argue with people on Twitter about her rant adding even more offensive content to her stream of tweets.

The rapper even went live on Periscope where she continued her heavily racist rant against Malik, saying how he had been kicked out of One Direction for being a "brown b****".
It's to Rinse's credit that they've uninvited her from the Born & Bred festival:
After increasing calls upon the festival's organisers to remove Banks, who was due to headline the festival's second day, from the bill, they have now responded with a statement saying: "We have decided to cancel Azealia Banks' appearance at Rinse | Born & Bred Festival. Rinse | Born & Bred is a celebration of rave culture and has been created for EVERYONE. We celebrate inclusivity and equality."

Her name has now been removed from the festival's website and replaced by a blank space.
After the over-crammed suitcase of shit Banks has been pushing into the crowds this last day or so, a blank space has never been more welcome.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eurovision: NME tumbles over Timberlake

Oh, NME. Oh, NME. Your story on Eurovision is poor:

Justin Timberlake will become the first ever act who isn't a competitor to play the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm on 14 May.
.

Every year, they have guest performers. Conchita Wurst, for example, wasn't a contestant last year but still performed.

I'd advise you to stick to what you're good at but... not entirely sure what that is anymore.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Beyonce: Turns out Houston police sirens go waaaah, waaaah, waaaah

So Beyonce played a gig in Houston last night, and protestors turned up.

Did the police take steps to ensure the protest remained peaceful?

Well, not really. It was the police who were protesting:

Members of the Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (Cops) stood a mile away from the NRG Stadium and shone a blue light towards the venue.

They were protesting about Beyonce's Formation video, which they claim is "anti-police".
This is "anti-police" in the sense of "how dare you criticise the behaviour of any police anywhere", of course. There's a lot of that about, and it doesn't really do anyone any good. If COPS (seriously? That's the name of your protest gang?) want to ensure that the police get the respect they deserve, they might want to think about shining their blue light in the other direction.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Science explains Freddie Mercury

Science doesn't just listen to old Queen records. Science tries to understand old Queen records.

Science has decided that Freddie Mercury was basically like those Tuvan throat singers:

Those guys are so flamboyant.

Science doesn't say that Fred ever quite matched them for subharmonics, but science says he came close:

Subharmonics help "in creating the impression of a sound production system driven to its limits, even while used with great finesse," write the Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers in the Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology journal. "These traits, in combination with the fast and irregular vibrato, might have helped create Freddie Mercury's eccentric and flamboyant stage persona."
I think the outfits might have helped a little.

Science is now working on trying to fathom out Brian May.


This week just gone

The most popular Prince posts of all time:

1. That time Prince played KoKo in 2007
2. That time in 2010 when he said the internet was pretty much over
3. That time he released a record as a Mail covermount
4. That time he told Sinead O'Connor to not swear
5. That time he took on the apparently huge Prince handbag counterfeiting industry
6. That time Prince closed down his ahead-of-its-time online music service
7. That time the now-defunct News Of The World stopped hacking dead children's phones long enough to try and spoil to Mail On Sunday Prince giveaway
8. That time Prince reinvented himself as Willy Wonka
9. That time he won a Webby
10. That time the Mail found a Prince giveaway was almost as good a circulation boost as a Princess' funeral

These were last week's interesting releases:


Cate LeBon - Crab Day


Download Crab Day



Sam Beam & Jessca Hoop - Love Letter For Fire


Download Love Letter For Fire



PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project


Download Hope Six


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bookmarks: After Prince

The Open University's OpenLearn Live service has pulled together a collection of some of the more thoughtful responses to the sudden death of Prince.

Also worth your time: New York Mag on how Prince helped editors when he changed his name to the symbol:

Prince did the only thing you could do in that situation: He had a custom-designed font distributed to news outlets on a floppy disk.

The Prince font substituted his symbol for what would otherwise be a capital P. In addition, the font was also made available for download on CompuServe. It was accompanied by a stern letter featuring both usage and installation instructions.
You may have heard a lot of the tribute radio programmes that were broadcast on Friday night. But if you haven't caught Radio 4's The World Tonight, it's worth it for the interview with sound engineer Susan Rogers. You can listen to that here.

On the other hand... not everyone covered themselves in glory.

The Daily Mirror should be ashamed of its "Prince found dead in party mansion" headline on Thursday night online - nothing factually incorrect, but the inference was clear and unwelcome. Not as bad as Fox News, though, which spoke loudly about how the mansion was being treated "as a crime scene". The story, surely, was big enough to not need extra nudges and winks.


Hey, want to know how to destroy festival experiences a little bit more?

A PR message aimed at festival goers arrives digitally.

There is no doubt that experiencing the Stagecoach Country Music Festival is an extraordinary and memorable experience
The Turnpike Troubadours are on the bill, which - to be honest - gives me doubts. But do go on.
But, the driving and traffic can turn an amazing experience into an unforgettable hassle.
This is a California festival, so maybe they've got a point. Perhaps we should think about getting public transport? Are you a bus company?
Freeways getting out of LA and San Diego will always be congested on Friday afternoon and getting out of the festival area on Monday can back up the 10 Freeway for hours.
You're not going to suggest a bus, are you? Perhaps this will be about not being a twit and turning up just before the thing starts and leaving as soon as it's over?
The best option to ensure an overall amazing weekend is to...
Yes?
book a private jet to Stagecoach Festival.
Yeah, as if festival costs haven't already run out of control enough, you can burn through cash and the planet by chartering a plane to fly.

To a country music festival.

It's what Loretta would have wanted.

But hold on a minute... the festival doesn't take place at an airport, does it?
When you fly with Pacific Coast Jet, we land at Bermuda Dunes Airport, just minutes from Stagecoach Festival grounds.
Fifteen minutes. When there's no traffic.
We can also arrange ground transportation to conveniently deliver you right to your hotel or other accommodations.
Ground transportation. That kind of sounds like you'll be going on roads.
On Monday morning, we'll arrange pick up on your schedule and you'll fly right over the massive traffic jam on the freeway below.
The massive traffic jam which, somehow, you will have magically been able to get through in order to get to the airport.

Still, it's a useful warning: if you go to the Stagecoach Festival, you'll be rubbing shoulders with the sort of entitled dicks who try to buy their way out of traffic jams.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

RIP: PRInce

Bugger.

Bugger that, and bugger this year.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Let's not inflict Wireless on Finsbury Park

Last year's Wireless Festival was a bit of a nightmare. For two weeks, a huge chunk of Finsbury Park was put behind a massive fence. Ironically, this meant local people couldn't use their park, but didn't mean that Festival goers couldn't use the local area.

And use it they did:

The fence of a local school playground had to be wrapped in protective plastic as festival goers were urinating through it while children were in school.
The Friends Of Finsbury Park don't mind the idea of a festival taking place in the park, they just don't want such a huge festival.

They're trying to raise money to bring legal action against their local council:
We want to stop Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park. We understand that council budgets have been slashed so there is less money to spend, but the Park already makes income for the council from smaller events such as the circus and funfairs, and location filming. We’d like Haringey Council to be open and transparent about how much the park costs to run and maintain, what income it generates without large scale events, and work with us to find alternative, more imaginative, streams of income which are more appropriate in type and scale for our wonderful Park, and inclusive of the local community.
You'd have to wish them luck. And maybe throw them a quid or two.


Is there any way Ticketmaster could become any more Monopolyesque?

Yes, yes there is.

As if the Ticketmaster behemoth hadn't rolled over enough of the music industry, they're teaming up with similar monolithic control block Facebook:

“At Ticketmaster, we’re continuing to build our platforms to make it easier to get tickets into the hands of fans. Ticketmaster integrates with key partners that make the buying experience simpler for fans and are complimentary to our artist and venue clients,” said the Live Nation-owned company.

“We recognise that Facebook delivers on scale and discovery. At Ticketmaster, we have the security and convenience of mobile verified ticket transaction technology. Together we are able to provide a seamless experience allowing the fan to purchase at the point of event discovery.

“Fans can discover an event and purchase a ticket within one experience.”
In future iterations, Facebook will just bill you and deliver the tickets without waiting for any interaction because IT KNOWS BETTER THAN YOU WHAT YOU WILL LIKE.

By 2019, Facebook/Ticketmaster will have the process down to a point where it will remove money from your bank account in return for automatically posting a message about how much you would have enjoyed the concert, without the need for you to be involved. A ten per cent fee will be levied on top for this service.


The police don't listen to Lily Allen

Lily Allen's story about being stalked is enough to make anyone sit up and take notice:

“This guy came steaming in and I didn’t know who he was. I recoiled and he ripped the duvet off, calling me a ‘fucking bitch’ and yelling about where his dad is.”

The man had an object stuffed inside his jacket that Allen is convinced was a knife. She believes he was caught off-guard when he found she was not alone, and her friend was able to shove the man out of the house as she ran to check her children were safe. “There was this second outside my kids’ room when I was terrified to go in, in case of what I might find.”
I say make anyone sit up. The police - who were already aware that Allen was being stalked - were surprisingly relaxed:
The police told Allen the intruder was probably someone who had stumbled into the wrong flat after too much to drink. “For me, it was too much of a coincidence that the only night I had left the shutters up, this man came in. I believe he had been spending a lot of time out there in my garden, watching.”

Calling the police back the next day, Allen told them she thought the intruder could be the same man who had been threatening her. “But they were uncomfortable with the idea. Then I realised my handbag was missing and the change in atmosphere was palpable, it was like a sigh of relief: ‘now it’s burglary – we understand that’.”
Yeah. "The shutters". Lily Allen was living a life where she was having to lock herself in her own home behind metal shutters.

She'd had a bunch of letters that she'd previously passed to the police, which you might think would be useful evidence when prosecuting this sort of crime:
“I wrote to the police and asked why they weren’t using these letters going back to 2009, and then I got a short note saying they had been destroyed ‘according to police protocol’. No apology, no explanation.”
Allen - as she points out - is neither low-profile, not backwards at coming forwards. And she knows the man who tormented her needed help, not punishment. Eventually, the stalker was brought to trial. The uncomfortable question is: what would have happened if it hadn't been Lily Allen? Someone without the strength to push through a system which appears to just be confused by the nature of the crime it's being asked to investigate.


This week just gone

The releases from the Friday before last:


Future Of The Left - The Peace And Truce Of...


Download The Peace And Truce...



Teleman - Brilliant Sanity


Download Brilliant Sanity



Ben Watt - Fever Dream


Download Fever Dream



Misty Miller - The Whole Family Is Worried


Download The Whole Family Is Worried



The Associates - The Very Best Of The Associates


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rock sick list: Prince

Prince had to get his private jet to make an unscheduled stopover in Illinois after he felt ill onboard.

He'd apparently been ill before getting on the plane, which kind of makes me feel glad he flies on private jets and doesn't wind up disrupting lots of people.

It's exciting for the people of Moline - the airport where he touched down - as it's the most exciting thing to have happened there for... well, possibly forever. It used to have a slogan "Joined together, as the boroughs of New York City", and when your region's motto references a more exciting place elsewhere, you know you're in a quiet town. ("Tamworth - where people bleed, just like they do in London"; that sort of thing.

Sadly, though, the local hospital wasn't planning on becoming a sideshow:

The TMZ report said a private plane carrying Prince landed at Quad-City International Airport in Moline early Friday, and the performer was taken to a hospital.

But Blake Long, marketing manager for UnityPoint Health's Illinois region, would not confirm that late Friday afternoon.

"Prince is not currently listed as a patient," Long said, adding the hospital system had no other comment.
You have to respect a place where the marketing manager for a hospital, handed his biggest opportunity, declines to get involved.

Meanwhile...
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Friday night that two sources close to Prince told the paper that he was at home in Chanhassen, Minn., on Friday evening. One said he had been suffering from “bad dehydration” but that “all’s good.”
Well, which is it? Is everything good, or is the dehydration bad? Which is it?


Sunday, April 10, 2016

This week just gone

The most read 2016 (& NYE 2015) stories so far:

1. Jedward take on ISIS
2. Avalanche to close
3. Liveblog: The Brits
4. First homophobe of Eurovision 2016
5. James Blunt's heart is in the right place… but...
6. Beyonce confuses the right wing
7. Cameron gets a briefing on Rita Ora
8. Radio X listeners really love Oasis
9. RIP Vi Subversa
10. RIP: Mark B

Last week's interesting releases:


Laura Gibson - Empire Builder


Download Empire Builder




Trembling Bells - Wide Majestic Aire


Download Wide Majestic Aire



The Burning Hell - Public Library


Download Public Library



Mogwai - Atomic


Download Atomic



Bleached - Welcome The Worms


Download Welcomes The Worms



Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness


Download The Wilderness



Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye


Download Amen & Goodbye



Melanie Martinez - Cry Baby


Download Cry Baby



Shonen Knife - Adventure


Download Adventure


Saturday, April 09, 2016

The Spectator listens to Lily Allen

The Spectator, trying to make things easier for the Establishment, isn't going to let Lily Allen try and land a blow on David Cameron:

Making clear her opposition to Cameron, Allen claimed on Twitter that he has been ‘stealing’ from the public and needs to resign:

Our Prime Minister has been stealing from us. It's very important that he resigns.

Alas Allen has failed to offer up any evidence to back up her claim. Given that offshore does not automatically equal tax avoidance, Blairmore itself does not appear to have been used specifically to reduce Cameron’s tax bill. In fact, when he sold his shares, he paid income tax on the dividends.
Except the prospectus for Blairmore did explicitly state it was being set up in such a way to minimise tax payments for the company in the UK; and obviously, if a company sits out of the country to avoid paying tax in the UK, it means that the Camerons are cashing in from profits inflated at the expense of UK taxpayers. All legal, of course, but the very fact that Dave has struggled to keep the pile of cash out of sight suggests that even he knows it's not entirely moral.

The Spectator thinks it has a winning argument, though:
Still, given that Allen is taking such an avid interest in Cameron’s family’s tax affairs, perhaps it’s worth reminding readers of some her father Keith Allen’s comments on tax avoidance. In 2011, the comedian came to U2’s defence after the Irish band were accused of tax evasion over their offshore affairs:

‘That whole thing about getting U2 to pay their tax and whatever… I don’t actually hold with the argument.’

What ever would Lily say?
Ah, yes. You should be judged based on the standards of your fathers' behaviour. Although, oddly, when people try to suggest that Cameron senior's tax avoidance somehow throws his shade on Dave's behaviour, that's wrong.


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Rolling Stone decides its not Miller time

Back, then, to last night's inductions to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Over at Rolling Stone, you can read dispatches from the night.

You can read, for example, Deep Purple's acceptance speeches.

You can luxuriate in every detail of how Lars Ulrich introduced them.

You can spend some time with the text of Kendrick Lamar's introduction of NWA.

You can read NWA's acceptance speeches.

You can pore over every detail of Dan Auerbach's introduction to Steve Miller's induction.

And of course, you can read Miller's acc... oh, hang on. No, you can't. The Steve Miller acceptance speech, which - as we heard earlier was the only interesting thing of the evening.

Why, you wonder, would Rolling Stone neglect to run a speech which attacked the very idea of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and called out its management? I wonder if Wikipedia might have a hint?

Jann Simon Wenner (born January 7, 1946) is the co-founder and publisher of the popular culture biweekly Rolling Stone, as well as the current owner of Men's Journal and Us Weekly magazines.
[...]
Wenner, who was made a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation in 1983, has endured controversy during his career as it relates to his involvement in the organization.
That noise? That's the sound of Wenner's part in the Berkely Free Speech Movement being erased from history.


I think we need to send someone to go round and check on the BPI

The BPI is involved in a scheme called Get It Right From A Genuine Site. It's well meaning, kind of like a Sunday School teacher getting you to colour in pictures of Jesus holding a lamb and believing that this will stop you from becoming a bad person when you grow up. It's not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just it's so disconnected from how the world works.

Reg sits in front of his computer, about to torrent a dodgy Taylor Swift album.

"Hold on" thinks Reg, "before I do that, I should check the BPI's Get It Right From A Genuine Site site, just to check it is okay."

He checks the site.

He realises he is doing wrong.

He goes to Spotify.

He can't find 1989, so he sighs and goes back to the torrents.


There's a site to promote the campaign at getitrightfromagenuinesite.org - snappy, eh? - but this is where the BPI suddenly froze in panic.

What if someone started a site at getitrightfromagenuinesite.com? And they could fill that site up with things that aren't genuine at all. And the people of the UK, who have come to trust getitrightfromagenuinesite.org wouldn't realise, and MUSIC AS WE KNOW IT WOULD CEASE TO EXIST.

TorrentFreak has discovered that the BPI has binge bought all the domains it could find:

UK music group BPI owns the GetitRightFromaGenuineSite.org domain but to be doubly sure there are no imposters the group has also bagged at least 17 others, including the .audio, .band, .biz, .com, .digital, .email, .foundation and .net variants.
But what, worried the BPI, if people decided to try and parody our lovely campaign? What then?

And so, they fired up the registration site again:
TF discovered these domains while trawling through WHOIS records this week but it was more of a surprise to see that the BPI had also grabbed a bunch of ‘pirate’ versions too. As can be seen below, the BPI has secured the opportunity for people to GetitRightFromaPirateSite too.
Now, you could say there's wisdom in buying up a domain name that could work against you, but this is a pretty specific wording.

At time of writing, these domains are still available:

getitrightfromagenuine.site
getitrightfromagenuinesite.uk.com
pirateitrightfromagenuinesite.com (and all other variants)
getitrightfromatorrentsite.com (and all other variants)
getitfreefromagenuinesite.com (and all other variants)
getitrightfromaginuwinesite.com

You get the idea.

What makes this slightly less funny is that you're paying for this - despite the BPI being a cartel run by some of the largest businesses on the planet, the getitrightfromagenuinesite cybersplurge and the related activity is being paid for by the government.

Additional fun fact - you can still register a domain under the name BritishPornographicIndustry.


Steve Miller less than impressed with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Steve Miller has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He's not entirely thrilled by it all:

Asked to expand on his criticisms of the organization, which was founded by industry heavyweights like Jann S. Wenner of Rolling Stone and has its museum in Cleveland, Mr. Miller said, “The whole process is unpleasant,” suggesting that it be “changed from the top to the bottom.”

“They need to respect the artists they say they’re honoring, which they don’t,” the singer continued, making references to issues like licensing agreements between the show and its honorees. (Friday’s ceremony will be broadcast by HBO on April 30.)

Mr. Miller, 72, then turned to the ceremony itself. “When they told me I was inducted they said, ‘You have two tickets — one for your wife and one for yourself. Want another one? It’s $10,000. Sorry, that’s the way it goes,’ ” he said, adding, “What about my band? What about their wives?”

When a publicist for the Rock Hall tried to interrupt him, Mr. Miller persisted. “No, we’re not going to wrap this up — I’m going to wrap you up,” he said. “You go sit down over there and learn something.”
The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame organisation tried to put a brave face on it by pretending that being condemned by the people they seek to celebrate is somehow very on brand:
“Rock ’n’ roll can ignite many opinions,” the hall responded in a statement. “It’s what makes it so great. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was honored to induct Steve Miller tonight and congratulates him.”
Not so honoured they didn't try to shake him down for asking for three tickets.

What's lovely is the way they try to suggest that Miller is angry at rock and roll - "yeah, people get so animated about rock and roll" - rather than the museum they've built around it.


Countryobit: Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard has died at the age of 79. There are, of course, any number of obituaries online already.

Perhaps the best story about Haggard is that his musical career had its inspiration in one of Johnny Cash's prisons gigs. It's a great story because it shows what treating prisoners like people can do, but it's also great because that whole 'here is a man playing guitar, I can do that too' storyline in effect makes Haggard a punk hero as well as a country one.

I first came across Merle Haggard thanks to the NME - younger readers might need to be told there used to be a music magazine with that name. Back in 1988, the paper produced an album of Vietnam related pop, rock and soul called Feels Like I'm Fixin To Die. It's pretty good, and on it was this:

He came to regard the song as a bit of an albatross:

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t written Okie. Not that I’m ashamed of it. I’m not sure but what bothers me most is the people that identify with it. There is the extremity out there. I don’t know. It made people forget that I might be a much more musical artist than they give me credit for. I was indelibly stamped with this political image—this political, musical spokesman, or whatever.
And although it's a great song, based on the lyrics I might have not bothered digging much further into Haggard's back catalogue when I was 18. But this song made me give him a second look:

There's a moon across the border in the Louisiana sky
I smell the Pontchartrain,
I hear Silver Wings
Then, away Merle Haggard flies
If Nanci Griffith was giving him a verse in a song, equal billing with Loretta Lynn - well, he had to be worth a second look, right?


Sunday, April 03, 2016

This week just gone

The most-read March stories:

1. Avalanche closes, and how Record Store Day played a part
2. Daily Star misreports Viola Beach crash
3. Cameron gets Rita Ora briefings
4. Radio X listeners really love Rita Ora
5. Fan "humiliated" by Madonna refuses to be humiliated
6. RIP: George Martin
7. RIP: Keith Emerson
8. Paul Van Dyk falls off the stage
9. Cornwall: home of rock
10. Somebody wrote on Bryan Adam's guitar

These were last week's interesting releases:


The Joy Formidable - Hitch


Download Hitch



Kiran Leonard - Grapefruit


Download Grapefruit



K Michelle - More Issues Than Vogue


Download More Issues Than Vogue



Johnny Moped - It's A Real Cool Baby


Download It's A Real Cool Baby



Bob Mould - Patch The Sky


Download Patch The Sky