Friday, March 01, 2002

INTEREST PEAKS: XRRF has had its most popular twenty-four hours - not because of our overview of the Grammys or the Brat awards, but because people are looking for any information on the R Kelly shagging video. Obviously a large number of people are keen to "prove it's not him".

IF IT GETS US ON JUST ONE CHAT SHOW, IT'LL BE WORTH IT:Curious that couple emerge with pictures of their dead, drug raddled daughter the day after Leah Bett's parents suddenly made a random attack on Travis - surely la famille Bett couldn't have been trying to keep their position as the nation's number one drug tragedy family, could they?
Anyway, here we go again: Bright, happy smart girl, "if it could happen to her it could happen to anyone" - really? is that a fact? To *anyone*?, "challenging stereotypes of drug users" - hidden message being "Dammit, this is serious - Middle class children are dying"
Oh, and there's this:
Mr Holcroft said: "There'll be a point in a child's life when someone says 'try that'. They'll be put into a circle where they are encouraged to try things and experiment."
Drug offers being as common as Richard Scarry books, of course.
What's happening here, and with the Betts, of course, is an interesting reaction to grief. The parents try to keep their kids alive by starting a crusade in their name, while simultaneously trying to offload their guilt - it can't have been anything *we* did, it must be something that could have happened to anyone; there must have been a point at which Our Daughter was signed up to become Drug addict.
It's very sad, of course. And as a warning to future drug users, it's pointless. No heroin user is ever going to end up dead with a needle in their arm. Sure, it happens. But it happens to other people.
BBC reports - Don't take drugs, kids - your parents will make a public show of your corpse if you do...

Thursday, February 28, 2002

DO YOU THINK I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE GRAMMYS?: Well, for a start I do wonder why the plural isn't Grammies. And why are they 'Grammys" at all? Why not the Grams? Anyway, let's look at what won:
Record Of The Year: Walk On - U2
Hmmm. Well, I'm sure my opinion on Bono doesn't need to be repeated here. Oh, fuck it, I can't help myself - he's a twat, and this is an obvious mistake. As in, it's a mistake to laud U2, but the reasons for doing so are obvious - it allows the US industry to pretend that they're still a radical bunch of outsiders, even although they've gone for the equivalent of an Independent leader column.
Album Of The Year: O Brother, Where Art Thou? - Soundtrack
Curious choice, and suggests something of a cultural-field cringe. Let's take soundtracks seriously - we might make some money from them. Crossover potential. Bridget Jones Diary 2 has to be a favourite for next year.
Song Of The Year: Fallin' - Alicia Keys, songwriter (Alicia Keys)
What can you say? It's a nice enough song, although if this was the best song written in 2001, it suggests that Anita Baker was the emperor queen of the twentieth century...
Best New Artist - Alicia Keys
She writes all her own songs, too. At least you can see what the Grammys are getting at here - unless she overpacks her plane or suddenly starts to smash up her house, it's like Ms Keys has a long career ahead of her. So, while there mayn't be much novelty about her, and she may be a "oh, yeah, her" type of act, she's got potential to still be around in 2022. Mind you, they probably though that about Mariah until she bought the first bikini top.
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: I'm Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado
Smelly Fartdildo gets her first award. This is an interesting category - less about being able to sing, more given for showing off, and Nelly is an apt winner. Her "vocal performance" was the aural equivalent of Anya's floor-hogging grandstanding dancing in Once More With Feeling
Best Male Pop Vocal Performance : Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight - James Taylor
Haven't heard this, but I do feel like I have. There really are no mass-appeal solo male artists worth the oxygen, are there?
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of - U2
A second trip to the rostrum for U2. Craftsmanship rewarded. All right with the world. Dull as a shit, but right with the world.
Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals: Lady Marmalade - Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink
Do they always have this award, or has it been invented purely to give a prize to this bunch? If it has, good work the Grammy people. Other category titles you could have considered would have been "Idea that looks bad on paper makes ace monster prize" or "Award for persuading Christina to dress like the little whore she undoutably is"
Best Pop Instrumental Performance: Reptile - Eric Clapton
I have never heard this, but then I have only got an estimated forty more years on earth, and that's not enough time to waste on the pocket Enoch and his noodling. Hey - noodling. U2 noodle too, don't they? This must be what the Grammys are set up to award. Nelly Furtardo is a noodler - like Queen of the Singing Noodling, Whitney. It's starting to make sense.
Best Dance Recording: All For You - Janet Jackson
There have been, approximately, sixty five thousand dance tracks released in the last twelve months. This isn't the best of them. Its not even the best Janet Jackson release of the last twelve months. And you can't even swing your booty to it. Its not often I'm prepared to suggest that Fatboy Slim was robbed, but...
Best Pop Instrumental Album: No Substitutions – Live In Osaka - Larry Carlton & Steve Lukather
Best Pop Vocal Album : Lovers Rock - Sade
"Sade's back"
"Quick, hide the smack..."
"No, she's clean. She's made a new record. She sounds exactly like she used to."
"Oh. Wasn't that meant to be incredible?"
"Yes. Blimey, she must still be the best pop vocalist around, then, mustn't she?"
Traditional Pop
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Songs I Heard - Harry Connick, Jr.
What is this category all about? Is it some sort of joke at Frank Sinatra's expense. Interestingly, Songs I heard echoes the title of Waste's album, Songs you've never heard. Maybe they should do some sort of swap-cover-tribute deal?
Best Female Rock Vocal Performance: Get Right With God - Lucinda Williams
Excellent. Someone we love wholeheartedly gets an award. Go, Lucinda.
Best Male Rock Vocal Performance: Dig In - Lenny Kravitz
Normal service resumed quickly. Lenny Kravitz is another one of those people, like Sade, who exist solely to win awards, don't you think? Have you ever met anyone who actually likes him? Thought not. If it wasn't for the secret ballot, he wouldn't exist. Imagine that world for a moment.
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: Elevation - U2
Is this the third award so far for a film tie-in? Look, maybe we could co-hire a hall with the Oscars next year, couldn't we...?
Best Hard Rock Performance: Crawling - Linkin Park
Actually, I must admit of all this sort of band, I have the least-hard spot for Linkin Park. Whereas Durst and the boys come across as chancers who are filling a gap in the market, at least the Park sound like they'd be doing this even if it wasn't for the naked fourteen year old sub-breasts they get to sign. This is probably why Crawling does sound like a hard rock performance, rather than an impression of a rock band. Plus, I like the idea of Durst sitting there going "It must be me... must be..."
Best Metal Performance: Schism - Tool
A strange sub-category that honours both Lucinda Williams and Tool, don't you think?
Best Rock Instrumental Performance: Dirty Mind - Jeff Beck
Blimey, are you still going?
Best Rock Song: Drops Of Jupiter
A song by Train, apparently. The band took their name in umbrage when the Bunnymen suggested there was nothing romantic left in America - apparently they thought the train was. Long, lumbering, stuck to a predetermined route, dirty but not in a good way? Strangely apt, isn't it?
Best Rock Album: All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2
No, no it wasn't. Did the form have "U2, or other on it?
Alternative Music
Best Alternative Music Album: Parachutes - Coldplay
Surely the Americans can see that there is nothing alternative about Coldplay? Except, perhaps, in the unlikely sense the award is given to "an acceptable alternative to Travis." I know a British victory should be something to make me smile, and that the fact that had it not been for an incredible amount of patience and rebuilding on the part of the team at Parr Street, the album would have been unlistenable, but for the only alternative prize to go to something so flat, so mainstream, so devoid of ambition or experimentation irks. It's like going to a zoo to see the dangerous cats, and being shown three tabbies climbing bookcases that haven't quite been fixed to the wall.
R&BBest Female R&B Vocal Performance: Fallin' - Alicia Keys
Still, I hope the musical purists have got over the re-assignment of the term "R&B" over the past few years...
Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: U Remind Me - Usher
Oh, Jesus. If I cast my mind back to when this was on the radio every bloody two minutes, I spose I could be honest and say it was well performed. Maybe "Biggest waste of a voice on a piece of paper-light nothingness" instead?
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: Survivor - Destiny's Child
Again, while its only right that the Child win some sort of award, its curious that this is the one that they've given Beyonce the bunce for. Maybe that Charlies Angels track fell outside the time frame in the US. Maybe the only other option would have been the Christmas album.
Best R&B Song: Fallin' - Alicia Keys, songwriter (Alicia Keys)
all her own songs, you know. Every one. Like Oleta Adams. Okay, bad example. Let's try Tracy Chapman... opps...
Best R&B Album: Songs In A Minor- Alicia Keys
Tanita Tickaram? I know, how about Sade?
Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album: At Last - Gladys Knight
Probably what Gladys said by the time they got to her award, too...
Best Rap Solo Performance: Get Ur Freak On- Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott
Quiet... shut your mouth... Okay, she's no Roxanne Shante, but she's still impressive as hell.
Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: Ms. Jackson - Outkast
I'm not sure I'd have called this rap - wasn't most of it sung? Certainly the hook was. The rappy bit ("forever ever ever ever") was ill-conceived and lightweight. A good pop song, but giving it this award is like praising Mr Kipling for his presentation.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Let Me Blow Ya Mind - Eve Featuring Gwen Stefani
Curoously, the Grammys panel seem to be on safer ground when they're awarding prizes in what they clearly think of as the 'black' music categories. Either that, or my tastes are as painfully white and co-optive as the awards teams...
Best Rap Album: Stankonia - Outkast
Probably just pipped pink to the post, don't you think?
Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Shine - Dolly Parton
Best Male Country Vocal Performance: O Death - Ralph Stanley
Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: The Lucky One - Alison Krauss + Union Station
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow- Dan Tyminski, Harley Allen & Pat Enright (The Soggy Bottom Boys)
Best Country Instrumental Performance:Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Earl Scruggs, Glen Duncan, Randy Scruggs, Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Gary Scruggs, Albert Lee, Paul Shaffer, Jerry Douglas & Leon Russell
Best Country Song: The Lucky One - Robert Lee Castleman, songwriter (Alison Krauss + Union Station)
Best Country Album: Timeless – Hank Williams Tribute
Best Bluegrass Album: New Favorite - Alison Krauss + Union Station
Hmmm... you wouldn't exactly know we were in the midst of the biggest country paradigm shift since New Country, would you? The sort of list of prize winners which wouldn't have looked out of place in 1973, on the whole...
New Age
Best New Age Album: A Day Without Rain - Enya
Much as I dislike Enya, I have to feel sorry for her being poked away in the New Age category - and also for all those Pan Pipe versions of Eminem tunes which would have been in with a shout here otherwise

Best Musical Album For Children :Elmo And The Orchestra - Sesame Street Characters) Ed Mitchell, producer
Apparently Big Bird has just recorded a cover version of I Still Havent Found What I'm Looking For. This is not a joke, either.
Best Spoken Word Album: Q: The Autobiography Of Quincy Jones (Quincy Jones)
Unlcear if this contains the story of him kicking the shit out of Michael Jackson to stop him going "wooo" during the recording of Billie Jean
mposer & lyricist (Original Broadway Cast With Nathan Lane & Matthew Broderick)
Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media : O Brother, Where Art Thou?- (Various Artists)
Probably a safe bet, as it had been peppering the other categories, and it was, of course, a fine OST. In fact, there have been so many delicious soundtracks recently, there should be a proper awards ceremony for movie music. There probably already is, but, you know, it should be on TV.
Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media : Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- Tan Dun, composer
Joss, get OMWF out soon; if you can't crack the Emmys, there's always the Grammys...
Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media :Boss Of Me (From Malcolm In The Middle)- John Flansburgh & John Linnell, songwriters (They Might Be Giants)
... and if this is the level they're expecting, you should waltz away with this category in 03, too...
Best Recording Package : Amnesiac (Special Limited Edition)- Stanley Donwood & Tchocky, art directors (Radiohead)
Wake up, England... the nice library book style box wins a prize. So, at the Brats, Radiohead get a video award, and at the Grammys, it's the CD box prize. Doesn't say much for the quality of the music that they win prizes for everything but...
Best Historical Album: Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday On Columbia 1933-1944
"historical" here is a euphemism for repackaging/re-releasing. You can't quibble with Billie Holiday getting a prize, of course, even if you dislike the euphemism...
Best Short Form Music Video : Weapon Of Choice - Fatboy Slim Featuring Bootsy Collins
Dancing Christopher Walken, of course. While it's a good video, it's a bit of a slight idea to award some sort of prize to, don't you think?
If you want to see the full list of winners, including the ones we couldn't hope to have commented on, check out the official site

TRAVIS DROPS ONE, DROPS BOLLOCK When the odious Betts woman has a pop at Travis, you wonder which side you should be cheering for, don't you? Leah Bett's mother has apparently got on her soapbox to attack the blandscots for saying that they'd experimented with virtually every drug. Apparently unable to understand what "experimented with" means (and this woman has spent the last seven years trying to influence drug policies in this country?), she told the Scottish Daily Record "I hope they've stopped taking them." Yes. Experiment means try; Using means regular use. Understand?
But why would anti-drugs campaigners object to Travis saying they take drugs anyway? Surely the thought that you might end up a whey-faced pigeon-chest like Fran Healy is enough to put anyone off the Mitsubishis for life...
NME reports - but they've never done heroin or glue. What sorts of Scots nationalists are they?

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

R KELLY? NOT ON YOUR NELLY... So, apparently the internet is chock full of videos of R Kelly having sex with a fourteen year old girl. What's great about this story, though, is the reasons people are giving for having the film - "journalistic purposes", "to prove it isn't him", 'we wouldn't care if the girl was 50 - people only want to see it because it's him" - creating the interesting possibility that a film of a person shagging a child isn't kiddie porn providing the person is more interesting than the child...
NME reports - I'd rather not see him with his trousers off at all, ta

FOR ONE WEEK ONLY: Usually, if you want bothsidesnow's What the Pop Papers Say review, you have to be subscribed to the list. But because I wanted to say some things about the Carling Awards, this week I'm folding the mail into XRRF, too. And you can't stop me.
Time magazine's cover this week: Bono. Headline: Can Bono Save The World? Answer: Don't be so fucking stupid. If anyone worried that the cobbling together of the AOL Time Warner megalith would mean that standards at Time would slip, there's your proof. More worrying is the way this gives more puff to Bono's self-importance balloon...

Having closed L&K, BBC magazines are about to launch It's Hot, a junior Heat. Not to be confused with Monkey, the junior Heat being developed by the Heat team, or Hot Stars, the attempt to appeal to the Heat generation that comes with OK! Or, of course, with Star, which was an attempt to make a junior version of Hello, closed by the BBC. So, having closed a junior version of Hello, the BBC are trying to launch a junior version of Heat, which was... um, a twentysomething version of Hello...

This month The Face has Shaggy and Ali G on the cover. What is The Face now? What is it for? Why? Why?...

The nme has The Strokes (or the nme's Jordan) on the cover. And a little picture of Lostprophets saying "move over Linkin Park, we're the zeitgeist" - look, two are giving two fingers, and one is giving one finger. Ooooh, mummy, the zeitgeist is rude...

so, do you know what time of the year it is, janice? It's poll time... here are the winners from the Bra... opps, the Beer-supported NME poll:

Band of the year: The Strokes
Album of the year: Is This It?
Best New Act: The Strokes

Interestingly, though, W**K didn't register in the 'new act' poll. Clearly, the readers aren't DOING AS THEY ARE TOLD.

Best solo artist: Ian Brown

They're taking the piss, aren't they? Ian Brown? What scale are people voting on here - "Hmmm, there's Kylie, PJ Harvey... no, Ian Brown. He's the one..."

Musical Event of the Year: The Carling Weekend

This is what used to be called the Reading Festival, before Vince 'Glasto is safe in our hands' Power sold it as a pot to piss in. The sponsors of the nme awards are... oh, Carling. Strangely, the rival Tenents sponsored T in the Park didn't even make the shorlist

Best Live Venue: Brixton Academy

Is it just us, or does it seem that the NME tends to review more events here than anywhere else?

Best Radio Show: Evening Session

Strange that Christian O'Connell, who was so pisspoor he almost killed Juice singlehanded, was a runner-up

Single of the Year: Ash - Burn Baby Burn

Well, you can argue, but you can't complain

Best Dance Act: Basement Jaxx

Dance you can think to, of course. nmeland's distance from dance illustrated by the appearance of Fatboy Slim in the runners-up

Best HipHop/Rap act: Missy E

Well, duh...

Best Pop Act: Kylie

Also known as 'Smash Hits Poll Winners Party' category

Best Music Video: Pyramid Song - radiohead

No, no, there must be some mistake - radiohead don't make videos, do they? Surely you mean 'Best culturally guying blipvert', don't you?

Best R&B/Soul Act: Aaliyah

"Unfortunately, aaliyah can't be with us..."

Best Metal group: Lostprophets

Two single fingers and vagina symbol in the accompanying photo. No Dursty in sight.

Best film: Moulin Rouge

American Pie II was shortlisted. Does anyone remember when NME readers, um, read?

Godlike genius award: Nick Kent & Pennie Smith

Nick kent must have been delighted to get this. Its like awarding the Nobel Prize for Literature in the middle of the Ronald McDonald Colour-Me-Clown competition prizegiving

Villain of the year: Osama Bin Laden
Hero of the year: New York Emergency Services

By numbers, isn't it?. The album of the year, of course, includes a searing condemnation of New York City Cops. Hmmm.

But we've saved the best 'til last -
Best website:

stick it up your fucking arse, nme. Any self-respecting organisation would have put their raffle ticket back in the box and insisted it got drawn again...

still, respect to Matt Lucas and David Williams for their indie-piss takes. Lucas as Meg White is uncanny...

other news: nme trumpeting sales rise - "best for five years", they trill. The rises were less than one half of one per cent over six months, and point six percent over the year as a whole. This being a year in which they had no direct competition at all, of course; glasto goes on - strangely, Eavis says he's in charge of the music, and Mean Fiddler in charge of security. Hmmm, but who's in charge of the stuff in between - the markets, the sponsorships, the bits that make money?; Oasis are going to play a gig in some parks in London. Other parks are available, so don't worry; The Doves are the latest band to try to pull the "single available for one day only" scam - no it won't be, deleting it on the day of release merely means that once the large piles left around on shop shelves are finally flogged off, there won't be any more pressed. That is all...

gossip which the hacks couldn't work out who it was about when they read it on popbitch: dance star proposed to his girlfriend cause he didn't want to be left out; welsh stadium rock band writes letters to Teletext when his band are slagged off (gotta be one of the Manics, surely?); over-sized singer smells...

and who do we have in on? american head charge - more nu metal. how splendid; timo maas - some sort of german dance act; jetplane landing - punk climbs from ruins of cuckoo. No women. Kylie, you'll still be needed for next year's awards...

Lostprophets think POD being on CD:UK is evidence of people "coming round to our way of thinking" - which would be, what? We need something to throw to the pack while Fred The Flowerman Durst blows in the wind?...

In the midst of all this, there is Cornershop. A nice piece, they lament the lack of good bands and sound like people who are enjoying themselves. For a moment, you remember why you love music, and the people who make it...

Princess Superstar does the ten-tracks for a CD thingy. She says music should be free, which means you're free to go and pinch bad babysitter from the shop. She also chooses Karma Police and Station to Station. Can she come to tea?...

How do you make a perfect animated group? Asks the NME. How do you fill two pages on a slow week? asks the readers...

"New" section alert - it's The Critics. Which is, um, the reviews section with a slightly different layout. It looks crisper, but - oh, I dunno - somehow more suited to an A4 magazine format than a tabloid. Oh, and they have less words than ever before in them. What do we have, then?

Albums: ...AYWKUBTTOD - source tags & codes ("killing can wait for another day. For now, we dance", 8); Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair - words of wisdom and hope ("a throwback",6)

Singles. Strangely, the nme are now getting lots of people to do the singles, and they cover two and a half pages. This is very, very wrong. Lots of singles is good, but what value is a single of the week (Hundred Reasons - If I could) when it's been chosen at some sort of random, rather than by someone working their way through the pile of new things? Plus, it means that when two single reviews are linked together, they're actually split up. There is, however, a worst single prize now, and this week it is Jennifer Lopez's remix thing...

live: strokes at leeds uni ("for now, no-one can touch them"); kittie in camden ("it's dark and hell is hot"); Pet Shop Boys at the Astoria ("pedestrian") Um, nothing at the Brixton Academy. Oh...

there are four fanzines in the classifieds - signs of a resurgence (Ok, one is True To You, but...)

I'll bet thats our sean in angst, you know.

SEATTLE: GOOD AT MOPPING UP?: Interesting piece from The Stranger about a singer in a marginally well-known Seattle band (and, before you ask, I have no idea who) who's been accused of rape. The writer Kathleen Wilson details how the local music scene has rallied to close ranks and protect the accused, but in order to raise the question as to why such community is never shown before things have spun out of control. I guess this is true of pretty much any local music scene - there's very little support on offer for people who are heading off the rails (and there are always a lot, music being an industry with an enormous amount of room for failiure, fucking-up and fears, with the added extras of public humiliation and easy-find drugs). Maybe this is something the organisations who attempt to develop music on local or regional bases could usefully be employed to do - rather than buy drums and undermine local promoters by putting on free showcases, why not work on providing some sort of "pastoral" support structure for local musicians? If, say, Merseyside is going to establish itself as a sight of musical talent, it might be a good idea to try and help that talent before it gets banged-up, bonged-off or bundled-up.
Community? [The Stranger] - for once, "no names" is used for some purpose other than the frission of "I know something you don't know"

ALL YOUR DATA IS BELONG TO US: If you're using Windows Media Player, everything you run through it - CD tracks, DVD movies, MP3s - is being noted down, and can be reported back to BillGatesCentral in Seattle. Right now, Microsoft say they don't have any plans to do anything with the data - but they would, wouldn't they? Even if they don't sell it, this information is worth tonnes to them. You might want to try some other players...
Intelligentx reports - while Bill Gates snort derisively at your Incubus habit
Alternatives discussed - we use i-tunes, but then we love Macs...

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

QUOTE: Laurence Robinson, salesman-turned-tenor: "There are similarities between selling and singing, because as a singer, you're obviously selling yourself..." Especially if you're Danni Minogue, of course.

VIDEO SAVES THE ROCK STAR AT KILLING?: Hmmm, so Fred Durst is now offering to testify at the inquest into the Squished Bizkit fan death in Australia. Only, of course, he's too busy to actually go to Australia so he's offering to do it over videolink. Nice, Fred - no danger of perjuring yourself through a videolink, is there? And, of course, if you sit firmly at home chatting down an ISDN line, you can keep up the pretence of giving a shit about your fans while simultaneously keeping yourself safe from being served with a private prosecution for your part in the tragedy.
Of course, maybe you have nothing to worry about from such a private prosecution - perhaps the allegations that, despite having concerns about the safety of the security of the event, you encouraged the audience to bait the front of house guys trying to sort out the problem are little more than tittle-tattle. After all, a friend of the girl who died has defended your behaviour as "trying to communicate with the audience on their own level." Is your schedule really so busy that you can't find a week to help get to the truth behind the death of a fan - one of the fans you claim to be the sole motivation of what you do? And, whatever the truth is, it's clear there was a serious problem with safety at the event. Don't you feel a duty to get involved with trying to make sure that never happens again?
Are you really too busy, or are you just trying to cover your ass?

durst defended at inquest [NME] - How do you communicate with Bizkit fans on their own level?
durst slammed at inquest [dotmusic] - but maybe he was too busy to get to the hospital, too?
durst slams inquest [dotmusic] - and the way people keep reporting it
contemperaneous report says Durst stopped concert "frequently" to encourage crowd to move back [BBC] - if true, Fred is getting a pretty raw deal in the inquest
Durst offers to testify via video [BBC] -Let's hope its more convincing than his bit at the start of the My way video...

Monday, February 25, 2002

EPITONIC FOR THE TROOPS: Having stopped to snigger at the description of indie on the epitonic site the other day, I was going to go on to praise what is a wonderful trove of musical-shaped gems, but didn't get the chance as Italian food intervened. If I thought I was going to forget, I was forced to think again at gunpoint this morning when my inbox contained a mailout announcing that Jane Pow has been added to their already impressive roster of acts. Jane Pow, Southampton's finest, toast of the turn of the last decade, and - and this is important - a band endorsed by a tshirt worn by Marguerite (her wardrobe ran from Ride to Whipping Boy, and was never proved wrong.) They've also got 14 Iced Bears stuff available, which is even better.
Epitonic - more than merely a quick wank gag

CAUGHT IN A PRISON OF THEIR OWN MAKING: You wonder if the record industry are starting to wish they'd left Napster alone, since the fall-out from their initial attempts to silently unplug the service just keeps smearing their faces with more and more chocolate mousse.
Firstly, of course, the initial attempts merely publicised the service. Driven on by Metallica's moaning, what had been until then a quiet little backwater on the web suddenly became a main street. By the time the mainstream press picked up the tale, it was clear that the response to the label's "Do you realise these sites giving away free music are costing us money?" question was not "Blimey, that's awful; we'll stop" but, more frequently "What's that you say? There's free music?" Napster relied on word of mouth; the industry's over-reaction was a scream.
Then, with the number of users shooting up, the labels started to make themselves look ridiculous. To hear the industry that will never use a shirt if a bra-top will do, the people who embrace the cred of "Parental Advisory" warn that using Napster may bring you into contact with pornographers was like Snickers raising the dangers of peanut allergies for people eating Fruit & Nut.
By the time the law managed to nail two planks over the door of Napster, enough people were switched on to file-swapping to make any subsequent peer-to-peer service successful; having seen the points where legal pressure had been placed on the old service, new models of working were created to route round them.
Obviously, the labels did succeed in separating many users from file-sharing, but what good did it do them? In the year that Napster was plugged in, record sales rose. Since the service was banned, sales have fallen. It seems that maybe there was something in the claim that creating communities of people excitedly swapping tracks, names and recommendations had a knock-on effect upwards on sales.
And now, there's another snake crawling out of the basket. Even as labels are in one court trying to force the likes of Courtney Love to stick to contracts the artists think unfair, a judge in their action against Napster has tapped a pencil on his teeth and said "You know, I'm not so sure you guys actually do own the copyright on these tracks anyway." It all hinges on whether artists are considered to be employees of the labels, and as such obliged to surrender copyright automatically to their labels. Since most artists aren't contracted in that way, there's a very plausible legal theory that while the EMIs own the actual sound recordings, the songs themselves should really be considered the property of the artist - and since, as any fule kno, that its the song, not the sounds, where the money is, this could have considerable implications for the music industry. Wouldn't it be so Alanis if, in trying to stop a few hundred college kids swapping Blink 182 alums they'd probably have wound up buying on CD anyway, the record companies had simply managed to destroy the only thing that they actually had to work with?
One other effect of Napster: Believe it or not, the record labels were shocked to discover that when people looked for tracks online, they typed the name of songs or bands into the search engines. Bemused that nobody looking for a Cranberries record typed 'Island" into google, the labels suddenly realised that their precious brands didn't mean shit to anyone - which, of course, meant that once they got their online act together, there'd be little value in those brands. Hence, it's as direct consequence of Napster that when Universal records advertise on TV now, they carry little "Universal" logos at the start, in the way their film division products always have. The changes wrought by technology are not always seismically cataclysmic.

SPOOKIER YET: Meat is Murder just cropped up in Round Britain Quiz. I am being stalked by Mozzer.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

THE DRESS YOU SO FESTIVELY TRY: Spooky pop-related things, number one in a series: Yesterday evening, I'd been dancing round in the kitchen and I suddenly realised, while singing Meat is Murder out loud that the line "It's death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder" was fantastically inaccurate. Even although I'm vegetarian, I can see the reason for cattle slaughter - it's to make yummy burgers and pies, isn't it? - which would make it not murder. Equally, a lot of murder is incredibly motivated - to stop an uncle from changing a will, to stop Ruby taking her love to town, and so on. Anyway, a couple of hours later I'm picking up that day's Weekend Guardian, and there's pretty much the same opinion being expressed. Anyway, all of this is by way of an introduction to an article taking the not-quite-so-groundbreaking-as-it-likes-to-think angle of examining the band from their visuals rather than their lyrics - ironically in the same edition as a five-page lament for the lot of the meat packer, which Mozzer would probably appreciate. Some nice touches include the observation that Morrissey is one of the few true indie stars whose face adorns tshirts, but it all comes unstuck, as all Morrissey retroshots do, on the issue of Nationalism/Naziism. Apparently, the National Front Disco and the Finsbury BNP Rally were alright, because there was grown-up thinking going on behind them, and it only got out of control because Moobo never explained where he was coming from. Not quite true, as he did attempt to wriggle off the hook with statements such as "England for the English is in quotes" (and how do you know that when it's sung anyway); unsatisfying in the context of a man smart enough to know that people will bellow along with any chorus, however ironically counterpoising the verse, if it seems pleasing enough to their ears to do so. This was a trap the Manics fell into with "We only want to get drunk" a few years later...
That piece in full - Most bands would try and keep quiet about having a deaf fanbase...