Saturday, July 05, 2003

HOLIDAY WEEKEND ENTERTAINMENT: Except if you're not in America. The web is a confusing place. Maybe we should standardize bank holidays worldwide?

Anyway, if you're bored, and fancy one of those Excel-based lyric quizzes which has a slightly more indie-feel to it than the usual ones (i.e. guaranteed No Yazz And The Plastic Population) No Rock would like to issue you a tiny challenge:

Click here to download the questions [Requires Excel 97 or later, or compatable spreadsheet program]

Feel free to share it around if you like. We reckon if you make it above fifty percent, you're going to have to come to dinner with us some time.

ADDICTION: We were raving earlier in the week about just how good the new Janes Addiction stuff is; oddly, we've been sent a copy of the artwork for the new album which shows, I think, how much they need you to buy the new album because, well, they're a wee bit gaunt...

janes addiction cover

There's also a whole heap of Lollapoolaza dates coming up, too - tonight they're in Indianapolis, we see...

They'll be coming to Colorado - Greenwood Village - on August 13th...

IF YOU'RE IN THAT THERE LONDON: TheHotBedFellows, the djing ofshoot of exRental, is splitting into two next Friday [July 11th]. Sean's going to be doing the honours either side of the Human League gig at Ocean, while Lucy will be performing duties for the snaregirl night at the slightly less glorious Enterprise pub in Camden. Four live bands, too.

We realise if, like us, you're not in London, this information isn't much use, and we might as well tell you how much Aldi is charging for baked beans.

SOULOBIT: Barry White, the - ahem - walrus of soul, has died. He's been looking for a new kidney for quite some time, but it looks like time just ran out for him.

The lovers of the world are on their own from now.

Friday, July 04, 2003

THEY GET THE LYRICS WRONG, BUT...: The greatest of the best news about the Ride BBC sessions album is that it includes their cover of the Pale Saints' she rides the waves. This has me feeling so happy, I'd probably buy Robbie Williams a cup of tea right now.

WAS IT WORTH IT?: So, the first week sales of nuLizPhair with added pop!, and how has she done? All that spit, all that polish, and she sold 4,000 fewer than whitechocolatespaceegg did in its debut week. Now tmftml suggests that set against the context of falling record sales, that's not that bad, but really - oh, it is. This album came into town riding on an elephant's back, shouting "I'm here"; it's been crafted and designed to appeal to a much broader demographic, and yet she's failed to even match the sales an album launched with much less hoopla and aimed at a tiny segment of the Great American Public. We know that some Phairophiles have been holding off buying the album until they know if its any good or not, but the suggestion that now they can download it, play it through and aren't exactly beating a path to Tower crying "Liz, we're sorry we doubted you" bodes ill for future sales.

In a record company meeting, three suited men look at a sales graph. After a long time, one of them speaks:
"Okay, we suggest the leather chaps and bikini-top for the next video. But I'm not going to tell her."

And NYLPM wasn't impressed with hot white cum much, either

FIDDLE, FIDDLE, FIDDLE: "Hey, why don't we let them make three copies from CD to computer, but not for filesharing?" ponders BMG. Or, hey, how about taking the millions you're pissing up against the wall footling about trying to stop us using the music we've paid for in any way we see fit, and investing it in some decent bands whose CDs might be worth trumping down to the shops to buy? Might that not be a better way to keep your company profitable?

ABBA REVIVAL: Duran, The Stooges... now Abba reunite for one song only. Oh, go on, do a proper tour. If only to give people who march to Mama Mia and Bjorn Again events the equivalent of proper coffee after years of subsisting on coffee-and-chicory instant.

TATU'S MOST VITAL MEMBER SERIOUSLY INJURED: Because where would Tatu be without their PR?. Beata Ardeeva - who once said her job was to make sure that news about the duo were 'as interesting as possible' (but I'm sure she tried her hardest anyway) - has been in a coma in Turkey since a carcrash earlier this week.

ONE COMES BACK... ONE GOES OUT: It's not merely that The Stooges have reunited, but the surprise that there's anything left of them to get back together. Can you imagine the odds you'd have got on that in the 1980s?

Meanwhile, the reunified Inspiral Carpets are going to split up again. Shockingly, the Manchester Evening News coverage of this bombshell was illustrated with a photo of Noel Gallagher ("former roadie") rather than one of the band.

GREAT VENUES OF OUR TIME: The Morville Hotel in Rhyl booked singer Heidi McGeough to play on Christmas Day. Then they found out that she had a guide dog, muttered something about - oh, yes - a guest having an "allergy" and pulled the booking. She, unsurprisingly, took 'em to a tribunal and won her case.

Oh, but it doesn't end there. Phil O'Dwyer, the managing director of the hotel, has said that he's going to appeal and sue Heidi for, um, something. One of the reasons the hotel lost the case was because, erm, they didn't offer any defence. Talking to the Daily Post, he said ""We didn't know about the legal case." And, with the next breath says "We had letters threatening us with this and that but we took no notice." Righto, then. There's your grounds for appeal right there, then. What sort of court finds against a person simply because they couldn't be arsed to read their mail? Are we living in Italy or something?

KYLIE MINOGUE CHANGES HER CLOTHES: Kylie's stylist has announced that she's abandoning the sex kitten look for something more gallic inspired because airbrushing the cellulite out of pictures of her in hot pants was getting to be a five-person job ("its time for something sophisticated.")

THE CASE CRUMBLES BEYOND DUST: You know which artist has joined the group moaning about how they don't want customers to pick and choose the tracks they want because it ruins their 'artistic vision'? Kid Rock. Kid Rock. Yeah, it'd be a shame if someone, like, dude, perverted his... whatever... vision.

Seriously, we should take Kid's worry that people buying only the tracks that were listenable would render his entire back catalogue worthless - erm, unappreciated. Here's the Kid himself describing his music, to show us just how important every single word, chord and even every pause is: "Music today is in a big fog. A haze if you will. No one’s sure where it’s going, but I like that I’ve got the best set of fog lights out there." You wouldn't want to switch off some fog lights, would you?

MAN! I FEEL LIKE A CANUCK: We're guessing it might have been a small field, but we're still surprised Shania Twain carried off the sexiest Canadian title. And even more surprised that she and Bryan Adams were picked as the sexiest vegetarians alive title from PETA. Bryan Adams? BRYAN ADAMS?

BACK FROM THE DUMPER - POSSIBLY ONLY TO VISIT: "This isn't some revival band, these guys had very successful records in the 1990s" brazens Roger Taylor, talking about the Duran revival. Yeah, like... um... all those songs... like... [coughs].

Of course, when any band reunites, it's hardest on the old fans who've moved on and wanted to keep their memories intact and perfect. But instead of having the Duran of Polaroid-coffee-table-books, perfect cheekbones and the sunlight glistening off the tight leather pouch of Simon LeBon, we've got the comeback kids - Nick Rhodes claiming he's taking hairstyling pointers from David Beckham (akin to Charlie George announcing he's going to learn how to play football by watching Damon Albarn in a soccer six) and the horrific discovery that John Taylor had a part in a Flintstones movie. The second one.

Sometimes, it's best to just let them get on with fannying about with yachts, isn't it?

Thursday, July 03, 2003

ERM... COMING SOON: If you've thought that what the UK lacked was an S&M fetish radio station, you're about to have that need filled. We're not sure what the playlist is - a lot of Ultra Vivid Scene, we'd imagine - but we're just wondering how all that PVC is going to be stopped from screeching and squealing over the top of the programming.

VAST AND LOVELY: We actually and genuinely can't thank Ade Rixon (who lives online at for the following:

VAST are offering a rough mix of songs from their next album in MP3 format for $2.99 (via Paypal) at They were dropped by Elektra last year and appear to be making a fair stab at going it alone. Minor irony: who said that their first album was "one of the best debut albums in a long, long time"? Why, that'll be Lars Ulrich of Metallica. Wonder if he'll be downloading the latest one?

POST-DEBATE POST: Couple of perspectives on the Great British Music Debate have arrived during the day. First, Ian Pointer (of writes:

I listened to the debate last night, and you'll be happy to know that both Knight's hazy-eyed revisionism and the Tomcraft singles sales were both rebutted by the panel.
Also interesting: the bloke from EMI seemed to cast doubt on Robbie's £80m contract, saying that it was nowhere near that much...

That in itself is interesting - almost as if EMI are slowly starting to cool on Williams. At the time of the deal, they seemed happy enough to allow the idea of him being an eighty million pound man be reported - presumably figuring that it was all good publicity. Now they're taking baby steps away and trying to stress that there was never that much on the table. I wonder why...

Next up, Ade Rixon - who's also brought us that thing up there about VAST - coughs politely at the showcase line-up:

Re. A Heated Debate: Peppercorn isn't even a new act. Her album was released as "Free Love" back in 2001 (check Amazon). Her record company appears to be trying to relaunch her (by self-titling and re-releasing the same album), following a deafening lack of interest the first time round. I don't blame them for trying again; it's acoustic pop-rock with a sassy R'n'B attitude, exactly the sort of thing that normally sells fine and gets plenty of airplay on Radio 2. Perhaps it got lost in the glut of similar acts (Norah, Vanessa, Natalie, etc). Not my bag at all, but my wife loves it.

Which is, perhaps, another reason why the record companies are so happy in the New Labour environment - Tony is quite fond of re-launching old policies dressed up as if they were new, isn't he? It's the plague of the age...

THAT DEBATE: There's a smattering of coverage at mediaguardian of last night's Radio 2 debate - they focus on Paul Weller moaning on about how he wouldn't be where he is today if the record companies had been like they are now, then, or something. Now, there's a great topic for debate: would you gladly throw away Eton Rifles and Long Hot Summer if it meant that there was no Wild Wood or Stanley Road? You might also want to ponder for a moment the extent to which record companies are tying up their resources in making Not Very Good Albums by people like Weller purely so they can keep 'em sweet and hold on to the more lucrative back catalogue rights. (What did Macca get for the last album? Too bloody much.)

And while we feel sympathy for Beverley Knight's position, we're not convinced: She told the Radio 2 audience that records topping the charts were mediocre efforts masterminded by marketing men. Back in the day the chances were that, unless it was a novelty record, it was a really good song. It's hard to sit at home and watch bands you know have been put together by a TV show. It's mediocrity dressed up as greatness."
Because, of course, marketing never played a part in the past - those stories you might have heard about people buying Rod Stewart records, taking the free addidas tshirt and leaving the vinyl on the counter weren't about marketing, it was purely on the merits of the tshirt. We're hoping that people took the opportunity to shout down the historical revisionism in the statement as well. Some of the songs that have been given to the manufactured bands are pretty good, even if woefully delivered - Pure and Simple, Whole Again, for example. Likewise, whatever you think about Christina, there's no more artifice there than there was the first version of Sheena Easton, say, or Kim Wilde. And while we all remember the peaks of the 1970's, to suggest the ones that weren't so great were all 'novelty' is to cherrypick the chart listings - Mull of Kintyre? David Soul's career? The later Cliff Richard stuff?

Meanwhile, the Guardian laments "In May, dance act Tomcraft sold just 36,000 copies to go straight to No 1. It is a far cry from the singles' 70s heyday, when records would often sell more than a million copies to hit the top of the charts after working their way up over a period of weeks."
Again, this is slightly hazy nostalgia. Between 1992 and 2002, thirty-two singles achieved official status as selling a million copies. Between 1972 and 1982, only 16 managed it. [Source: awardmill] So, yeah, the singles market is a bit of a mess, but it's not in the worst condition its ever been, despite the best attempts of the record industry and the chart rules committee to bugger it up.

SECOND PRIZE: TWO DAYS IN THE STUDIO: There's an interesting sounding (by which we mean the track itself seems to be interesting, not that the actual track when played sounds interesting, although it might well) free download of new Echoboy stuff online at the moment; be warned, though - downloading it will enter you into a competition to win a day in the studio with echoboy, thererby condemning you to sit in a small, windowless block watching the same thing happening over and over and over, with the extra chance of being blamed as a negative presence if it's all going badly. Being invited to "come down the studio" is a clear indication that while your co-operation is needed, it's not actually required so instead of meeting you in a place where interaction might be required, you're going to go down to their place of work and hang around them when they're going to be too busy to speak to you. Bear this in mind, by the way, groupies...

AN OVERHEATED DEBATE: Blogcritics imitates the Church of England, ripping itself to shreds over homosexuality. A disturbing number of participants in the debate seem to have a 'they can't help it, poor dears' attitude, and we're still not sure what Eric Olsen is trying to say: "I, unlike you, do not equate attitudes toward homosexuality with attitudes toward race. I believe it is in society's interest to be "totally neutral" regarding race, I believe it is in society's interest to be legally neutral regarding homosexuality but to maintain a general preference for monogomous heterosexuality - it already has this, no need to do anything to further encourage monogomous heterosexuality. We still need to do more to discourage unequal legal treatment and to discourage discrimination against individuals." Maybe they should drop the 'A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, and technology - updated continuously' strapline and replace it with 'Not that there's anything wrong with it, like, it'd just be better for everyone if they didn't do it, wouldn't it?'

A HEATED DEBATE: We actually managed to not hear much of the Radio 2 Great Music Debate, though it's available on the listen again feature of the Radio 2 site. There's also a pretty nifty microsite featuring the main contributors and their main arguments, plus a message board where, of course, the debate can filter out into a bunch of ill-considered ranting by people without any knowledge of the subject of which they speak ("continue long after the show is over with contributions from A&R people pretending to be ordinary people").

If going into the debate you had any doubts that the music industry was in trouble, you only had to look at the artists put forward by the Majors for the showcase event (hey, this really was like a little In The City of the air, wasn't it, except without Tony Wilson or the free copies of music week):

CLARKESVILLE Melodic pop-rock with a hint of electronica.
EMMA HOLLAND She's written songs for Moby and makes her debut soon, strongly influenced by Annie Lennox and George Michael.
PEPPERCORN A female singer songwriter described as a 'kick ass blend of folk rock and seamless pop melodies.'
ROB REYNOLDS He's described as having gritty emotion and solid soul, and he's getting ready to release his latest album
SPEEDWAY: 'Specialising in lasting melodies and rousing lyrics,' this Glasgow band are out for U2's stadium crown.'

Do any of those descriptions make you want to rush down to the record shop? This might be being unfair on the acts - I can't help but feel that maybe Speedway have no interest in U2's stadium crown, but have been told they really should be trying to do that; and I can guarantee you that had they been signed three years ago they would have been billed as "bigger than Texas"; likewise, I'm sure there's more to emma Holland than her label have lumbered her with, but dropping the words "Moby" and "Lennox" into a microbio is only one step away from running black and yellow tape round her records, swamping the area in men in full-cover white body suits and gasmarks, and opening fire on everyone who approaches.

THERE ARE MORE USERS ON THE LINE: Who knew that closing off one download service would just drive people elsewhere? asks the Guardian, rhetorically of course. It wouldn't be as wrong as to provide links to the next generation of filesharing services, but hey, a list of names and google a click away is pretty tempting, yeah?

Meanwhile, looking at the pending courtcases, the paper quotes a record industry executive as saying: "The message up to now has been, 'No, no, no, no, no - be good kids, don't do it,' and everybody laughs at us, saying, 'What are you going to do, sue me? Are you going to risk the bad press?' I think we're at a moment where maybe we need really bad press" . So they're actively seeking opprobrium.

Is there a way to fight back? Maybe there is. They want to scare music users, so maybe we should all act scared. Perhaps we should all set up template files in our email programs, and whenever we're about to play a track on our computer, we should email the record label, copying it to the RIAA, asking 'Is it okay to play this track?' We'd suggest wording along the lines of:

"Hello. I'm about to use my computer to play [track] by [band]. Bearing in mind how you're now taking people to court for copyright violations, I just thought I'd check that was alright with you?"

A few hundred thousand of those everyday might cool their ardour a little.

Meanerwhile, if you're worried about gettign caught using Kazaa, there's some hints on how not to get caught on metafilter. then there's some other alternatives. Then it starts to talk about Linux, which is where we gently make our excuses and leave.

But, hey kids: (And we mean this seriously) If you like music, go out (or to Amazon) and buy some music. Seriously. CDs are nice things to have, and you can make trousers out of them.

HEY, WE'RE IMPORTANT, DONTCHAKNOW?: Seriously, there's a zeitgeisty-touching piece in Exclaim (Canada's music authority, no less) about how vain, silly and (perhaps) essential music blogs are becoming. At the same time, Online Guardian is jibbering about the attempts to overhaul the US political process. They're dreaming of the first blogging US President; really, we'd just be happy with one who could string a sentence together in any medium.

ELSEWHERE IN OZZYLAND: Jack Osbourne also has the famous kid blues. Explaining why he checked himself into rehab he says "I took myself out of the picture for a second and I looked around at every single person in the room - at who they were, how old they were and what they had going on in their lives. A lot of them were near 30, unemployed, living off their parents. There were heroin addicts - there were the world's biggest couch potatoes. I don't want to be like that. I don't want my life to be controlled by a drug." Interesting that he looked at these people hooked on drugs and sponging off their parents well into their fourth decade, and decided he didn't want the drugs part of the deal. But you'll note he booked himself into rehab, and didn't at the same time book himself into his own place.

STELLA STREAK: Stella McCartney is sick of being asked about her father, and worries that people might hate her because she's MaccaWaccaLaccaDooDacca's kid. No, Stella, you don't need to fret about that, although we do admit that we can't touch Linda's Burgers anymore because you're her daughter.

POP DOT COM PAPERS: breaks an amazing story this morning - Kelly Osbourne is going to try her hand at acting. If anything, this confirms that not even the new media bods at the place read their own papers - as we mentioned on pop papers, the nme itself had a story about her acting ambitions back in May, so it's not entirely unexpected. She's going to appear in a movie called Malice In Sunderland, a contemporary retelling of the Alice In Wonderland story. You'll note the subtle play on words in the title, which gives us really, really high hopes that the script will be right up there with them Doritos adverts.

POP PAPERS PLUS PLUS: And so, what's this we're hearing about the editor of the NME going down on his knees in front of Justin Darkness at Glastonbury? No, not in a Bowie-Ronson way; apparently he wanted to apologise for the damage done. Hmmm. Justin's reaction is not recorded.

POP PAPERS PLUS: It appears that Mel from the Daily Star left the NME almost as soon as she arrived, and this may or may not be connected to her not really having much love of music (if you recall the tales the Peel used to tell in the dark days of Radio One about certain djs not even owning record players, you'd be in the right ballpark, we're lead to believe). The job is wide open again - good news for if the Mirror's 3AM girls ever fall out with each other, there.

Meanwhile: the nme obviously thinks its readers are a bit lame. Last week, there were flyposters for the magazine with the strapline "all the sex, drugs and rock and roll you need" - the r&r might have been, indeed, knee-deep, but apparently all the drugs a nme reader needs is an odd-tasting guarana bar and all the sex? TWO condoms.

Although that might be overstating their sexual appetites - the Glastonbury survey (we told it we'd climbed over the fence - teehee) asks 'when did you have sex?' and instead of checkboxes allowing multiple occasions to be recorded, has radio buttons implying they expect if any noodling or furtling went on, it was on one occasion and one occasion only.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: With free poster of some tents from very high up

"Actually" The Thrills tell the Guardian Friday Review "we don't understand the whole misery thing. Morrissey is pretty funny." Once again, with the orthodox unorthodoxy on the Moz.

In Punk Planet Jello Biafra interviews Greg Palast - the scourge of capitalists meets, um, the scourge of the rest of the Dead Kennedys. Palast suggests that Gore wasn't really bothered about the election result, as long as it was one of them, which seems to be a bit of an odd pronouncement. Even if the political gap between Gore and Bush isn't that great, if we accept that the main attraction of the White House is the power to rig the economy in your favour, why would any man not mind if even if his closest friend bested him in the battle for that?

Elsewhere, Everett True meets Wire. Intrestingly, he tells a tale about how Wire thought that taking adverts in Careless Talk Cost Lives would guarantee good coverage. Almost as if that's how it usually works...

Drugs... the Guardian [Saturday] Review - which we now see can be subscribed to as a stand-alone publication - takes a look at a book on the US E scene, which is ultimately depressing; unlike in the UK, where rave drugs had a good period of time to grow their own plastic gangsters, in the US it was Proper Goodfellas from the off. The prism through which all of this is viewed is the sad tale of Michael Alig, as you might expect.

More drugs... the New Statesman's green special reports on the environmental cost of drugs, which is high in terms of the land given over to the secret production of cocaine, the production processes and the latter day agent orange type sprays used in the US's war on drugs. Tom Burke's solution is to just say no, of course, but it just looks like one more argument in favour of decriminalisation to us.

Yet more drugs... today's Daily Mail splashes on a 'shock report' on the Cannabis Timebomb. Apparently all that temporary monging is going to make us all permanently monged at some unspecified point in the future. We shall see. Or, perhaps, won't quite see, but just giggle inanely.

Meat Loaf claims that Sony deliberately under-reported his album sales, diddling him out of eight million quid in the process. He warns Guardian Jobs and Money readers "If you sign with a record label, be prepared - you won't get all your money." These are the people who lecture you on your bad evilness of Kazaaaing...

What on earth would possess Q to give its cover over to a topless Robbie Williams? Is it really so desperate to go after the more readers? As reported elsewhere, Robbie moans that we don't give him enough support and that he's going to give up casual sex. One way to get people going out at nights again, I guess.

"More coverage for less" trills the NME front page, perhaps remembering its shyster antics last year when they stuck the cover price up for the Glasto report edition. There's also space made for Thom Yorke on the cover, too. Interestingly, there's an acting news editor listed - does anyone know what's happened to the Daily Star Bitch (that was her strapline, we're sure she's very nice).

50 Cent is coming back to the UK; he really liked it here when he played with Eminem. He only had to do a ten minute set and got paid in full, so why wouldn't he love?

Ateaseweb, the greatest of the radiohead fan sites, has managed to save itself from the threat of closure over the lyrics on its pages, but now faces closure because of crippling bandwidth demand. They're looking for a white knight.

80s Matchbox B Line Disaster called in some topless wrestlers and midgets for a live date - not the most inspired way of attempting to draw attention away from lack of ideas.

Interesting but false headlines: 'UK File sharers face lawsuits' says the nme. Except, the news report underneath merely says the BPI can't rule out copying the RIAA. Which is 'we're not going to, but we're not going to say we're not going to.' The BPI hasn't copied very many of it's American cousin's actions, so why would it start with this risky avenue?

"Aids is the biggest weapon of mass destruction I can think of" says Fran Healy, which, while we know what he means isn't quite true - the point about Aids being its not mass, but picks its targets off one by one - at least has its anger in the right place. Maybe he could write a song about it, instead of pisspoor lovey stuff?

'Leeds safer than ever' promises another headline - which isn't saying very much considering the last couple of events, is it? They're also going to have a supermarket on site, which, without any local competition, will presumably have an interesting pricing policy.

Eminem's security was better than the Royal Family's - which isn't saying much, considering how lax royal protection is. On the other hand, it shows Eminem up for the wuss that he is. And not in a cute wuss way, either.

New trend watch: Punk Rock Aerobics. I see.

Lise Marie Presley does the CD thing - Radiohead, two Jeff Buckley and Rage Against the What, I Can't Read My PR's Writing here.

He's shaken off being associated with Minty, and he wears a kind of sackcloth, but there's something still cute about folkie-electro Patrick Wolf.

What does it take to get a two page spread in NME these days? Releasing 11 albums never cracked it for Holly Golightly, but being friends with Jack White did. Just in time for her 'up' album: 'Heartbreak is everywhere. I've done a lot of stuff that made my friends cry, so this is me doing a pop record. I only talk about killing somebody once.'

According to the Bandits piece "in 2001 the Liverpool indie circuit was an amorphous tangle of skunkhead schoolmates signing deals like the premiership on crystal meth." We'll have to check our notebooks, but we're pretty sure it wasn't. Anyway, they do get to grips with why The Bandits managed to break the moribund mould of merseymope: unlike everyone else, when Lee Mavers tried to make Gary join yet another resurrected Las, he said no. And actually made his own myth instead of sitting in a basement waiting for Lee to have his ear-accupunture and letting time gather dust.

the coral - magic and medicine - "often their wackiness obscures the band's real gifts", 8
dot - dot - "three aesthetes playing clever music for kicks", 5
beyonce - dangerously in love - "frustratingly inconsistent",5
matt elliot - the mess we made - "magnifique", 8
cosmic rough riders - too close to see far - "toning down their faux-Beatles cod mysticism", 7
the darkness - the darkness - "heavy metal karaoke", 7

sotw - beyonce featuring jay z - crazy in love - "single of the century"
madonna - hollywood - "preachy hypocrites? give us a break"

young heart attack - camden barfly - "on the verge of kicking off one almighty party"

front cover of crowd? check. picture of drunk guy? check. people in bad hats? check. pointless poster of festival site from the sky? check. yes, its the glasotnbury review, which attempts to be comprehensive but is slightly hobbled by the need to give each act some sort of award. So we have:

most inspirational band - REM
most incongrous act - audio bullies
god vibes - primal scream
feelgood band - the thrills ("made for festivals" apparently)
best outfit - goldfrapp
cleanest shoes - sugababes
you get the drift.

And, finally: welcome a new nme feature: "Look, it's Avril not using her body to sell records." What a cracking idea.

THE F-WORD'S HERE AND THE F-WORD'S BAD: While DMX makes a bad situation worse by refusing to apoloogise for breaking St Kitts 'no swearing' law - indeed, he's demanding somebody apologise to him now, we hear, Twisted Sister are happy to drop the cuss-words in order to get some desperately needed work at any price ("in order to be able to play to their faithful fans in G-rated venues")

THE BRITISH AVRIL: Jennifer Ellison, the one-woman Atomic Kitten has decided that the outfits she used to wear were too tight and revealing, and has now decided that she won't do that sort of thing anymore. We'll certainly be watching to make sure she finds the transition easy.

IT'S NOT JUST PIRATES AND BIG FILE SHARERS WHO SHOULD WATCH THE STREETS NERVOUSLY: In Australia, they're kicking down the doors of bedroom mix CD makers. Shouldn't the record labels be showering contracts on these people rather than thrusting lawsuits into their hands?
Story shamelessly pinched from the null device.

THERE ARE USERS ONLINE: File-sharing services to set up presence in Washington, the better to lobby Congress with their side of the story. It's arguable whether the hearts and minds mission will be able to counteract the millions pumped into congressmen's pockets by the entertainment industry, however.

AN UNFITTING END: We used to love Record Mirror, and were sad when it closed down. Although we'd ceased to view it as a must-have purchase by that point. It's only looking back at the last ever 'best singles of the year' chart that they produced that it becomes clear why the title had to die:

1 Soul II Soul Back To Life
2 The Stone Roses Fools Gold
3 Lisa Stansfield All Around The World
4 Beloved The Sun Rising
5 Tone Loc Funky Cold Medina
6 Shakespears Sister You're History
7 The Bangles Eternal Flame
8 S'Express Hey Music Lover
9 Black Box Right On Time
10Madonna Like a Prayer
11Lil LouisFrench Kiss
12Guns'n'RosesSweet Child O' Mine
13=The Wonder StuffDon't Let Me Down Gently
13= The Sundays Can't Be Sure
14 The CureLullaby
15 Nenah Cherry Manchild
16 LL Cool J I'm That Type Of Guy
17 Tears for Fears Sowing The Seeds Of Love
18 De La SoulMe Myself And I
19 Hue & Cry Violently
20 808 State Pacific

... although there's some good tracks in there, and the pop stuff has stood up pretty well, it's virtually impossible to see who this title was being aimed at there. People too old for Smash Hits but who were afraid of Q? Or was the editorial team just hoping to pick up readers when the People's Friend distribution network broke down?

Anyway, this list - and many, many others - can be found at, an absolutely insane but wonderful repository of year end critics lists and readers polls. They're looking for help filling in the gaps, too.

"JESUS WORE THE 'THORNY CROWN' OF AMERICAN PIE": Oh, you thought you could rely on pub quiz staple answer 'Buddy Holly' when the question 'what is American Pie all about, then?' comes up? Tut. How little you know. It's actually a prophecy about America's role in the coming Armageddon, don't you know? So this bloke reckons, anyway. [Via metafilter]

IT'S NOT JUST POP IN CRISIS: A couple of weeks ago, the Classical Brits gave awards to Chloe Hanslip, amid the predictable predicitions of how she was the new Charlotte Church (so, that would be a car-crash career by the age of 17 to look forward to, then). This week, she's been dropped - as much because of the retreat from making proper new records by the classical music industry as because of slightly too-big-for-boots demands from Hanslip pere et mere. In addition, as she's just fifteen, Warners Classical weren't really able to thrust her into a wonderbra and split skirt to try and chase the Bond/Vanessa Mae crowd.
We wonder if Sanctuary would be interested in doing something really risky...?

MATHS PUZZLE: Melvin B runs a music festival. In year x, a miniriot by festival goers (including the son of a Labour MP) causes gbp250,000 worth of damage. In year x+1, to avoid similar incidents, Melvin B spends gbp250,000 on extra security.
Question 1: Calculate: (i) How much extra damage that would have occured without the extra security would need to be expected before the investment in increased security pays off?
(ii) The average cost per festival-goer of the increased security
Question 2: If we assume that only 200 people caused trouble at the festival in year x, and the size of the troublemaking element remains constant how much will extra security cost per trouble maker?

YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND... WE'RE ARTISTS: Missing the point of the whole download revolution, Linkin Park, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, (sadly) Garbage and (of course) Metallica are refusing to join the new legal download services because they don't like the idea of people just buying the tracks they want. Rather like the way Lou Reed demanded that fans listen to New York all the way through at a single sitting (we always used to skip 'last great american whale' on principle), they don't want people to just pick up the songs they like but to recognise the completeness of the work of art. (Funny how the RHCP and Linkin Park's artistic visions always manage to clock in at roughly the average length of a CD, innit?).

So, what we're faced with here is Metallica refusing to take part in a legal download system. So how can they whine if their declining audience decides to seek out the tracks from the backstreets? If they deliberately turn their back on a way of selling tracks over the web, choose not to exploit that revenue stream, how can they say that they're being deprived of cash by downloaders?

IT'S EVEN LEGAL IN TEXAS NOW, SURELY?: Time was when MTV was seen as some sort of cutting edge threat to the mainstream. Now, they're reduced to banning videos because of men in drag and 'intermingling legs'. We think there's quality issues with the Foo Fighters video, but to ban it because of content? This surely marks the start of MTV's move into Middle Age.

YOU'RE FULLER IT: A long crawl around the mind of Simon Fuller by the good people of Reuters offers warning of the semi-evil one's next plans:How about an animated show for preschoolers based on music? A putative teen show that Fuller describes as a singing, dancing version of "Moulin Rouge?" Or "I Love Music" -- a weekly magazine-style TV show expected to debut in Britain next year. We're especially looking forward to the teenage strippers concept. That's going to go down well, isn't it?

Fuller opines that "the music industry is too one-dimensional. They need to step back and instead of saying it is dying, acknowledge that music is hot and happening." And he could be right. Nothing like that for Fuller, who's got loads of ideas, everyone of them different:

An all girl manufactured group chosen by mass auditions like the Spice Girls
A boy-girl manufactured group chosen by mass auditions like S Club 7
A boy-girl manufactured group of preteens chosen by mass auditions like S Club 8
A boy-girl manufactured group chosen by mass auditions on the telly like HearSay
A boy manufactured group and a girl manufactured group chosen by mass auditions on the telly like Girls Aloud and One True Voice...

Oh, yes, if only the music industry would be more like Simon Fuller and embrace difference.

THE SONG REMAINS THE ZANE: We don't remember Zane Lowe being quite as... shouty or American-ish when he was on XFM (we're about twenty minutes into his new evening session show, thanks to the Listen Again function on the Radio One site), and it's possible that his style - closer to Wolfman Jack in delivery; nearer to Doctor Fox in content - might get a bit wearing after a while, but it makes a change to hear some excitement over both music and doing a radio show for their own sakes. The show's relaunch wasn't hurt, either, by an early exclusive from Muse - Stockholm Syndrome, which will be available for download from their site on the fourteenth of this month. It's quite an extraordinary beauty, too - as much operatic as anything. We'll remind you when you can go and scrape it off the web for yourself, of course.

Anyway: For now, a massive improvement over Colin; we're reserving judgement on the comparison with Steve. (Interestingly, Zane started the show thanking the previous incumbents of the slot - Jo Wylie, Colin and Steve. We didn't expect a mention of Liz, Kid or Janice, but... somewhere, Mark Goodier must be sobbing into three thousand undistributed Wise Buddha brochures).

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

PUMPKIN GOES CIRCULAR: Apparently, James 'the good looking one' Iha has joined A Perfect Circle. Okay, it's a little bit like Third Division transfer news, but we thought some people might be interested.

GLASTO: IN SHORT: BSN's Gary uses the minimum words needed to review Glastonbury from TV:

WHY DON'T WE BELIEVE THEM?: Countryside Agency deny Madonna was treated any differently from anyone else when it agreed to close a footpath by the house they don't actually live in very often. Oh, yeah?

MUZIK SILENCED: The tides running away from the Dance Boom claim another bunch of victims as the ailing Muzik magazine gets taken to the great chill-out room in the sky. Desperate attempts to try and make the magazine relevant to people in a world where Big Dance Clubs have all but vanished have failed, and the good people at AOL Time Warner have decided the IPC title must die.

DULLEST HEADLINE EVER: Nickelback's Label Explains Santana Single Change

OOH, YOU ARE AWFUL... BUT WE LIKE YOU: Ah, Ben at Silent Words, we have no wrath for you. We just wish you'd have got your Glastonbury tickets for a few quid less. Our issues with the Festival lead to us desperately hoping they'll have a bit of a rethink about things like ticket distribution and trying to have the sponsorship and pretending they don't issues. We certainly wouldn't suggest that anyone going to the event be shunned from popular company and forced to live in a tent for ever. Apart from anything, if nobody went to Glastonbury, who'd provide the amusing atmosphere for the TV coverage?

Talking of the festival, what's this we see in the Guardian
"Mr Eavis conceded, however, that the ticketing restrictions - the full allocation of 112,500 sold out in 18 hours - meant that many Glastonbury regulars had been excluded. In particular, he said, he was considering ways to boost the numbers of teenagers and students among a crowd that seemed slightly older than usual, and was overwhelmingly white and middle-class. "

Didn't he say in an interview last year that he was happy that the higher price of tickets had kept out teenagers and the sorts of people who would cause trouble?

COURT OUT: As we've mentioned before, Boston are suing their label for not promoting their last album enough. Except it turns out they'd shot themselves in their own feet by promoting their record under a totally different name to prove some dismal point about student radio or other. As BlogCritic James Russell points out, this might not be the best strategy for promoting a newe album...

SHUT UP NOW. JUST SHUT UP. DON'T MAKE US DRAG YOU OUT OF YOUR CAR AND BEAT YOU ABOUT THE HEAD WITH TINS OF SOUP: Robbie Williams wants us all to know he's given up casual sex. Yeah, and I have given up accepting large cash sums from strangers who approach me in the street. He's worried that with soulless sex comes self-hatred, which makes it sound to us like he really should have a lot, lot more unhindered shags so that he can join the rest of the world in hating him.

METAPHOR HITS ICEBERG: Lisa Marie Presley - a singer in her own right, lets remember - has been talking about her ex husbands. Oddly, on the subject of Michael Jackson, she has this to say:

"I will just say that at one point I did say: 'This is like I'm on the Titanic and it's sinking.' And I wanted to help, because I could see certain things happening.
"But I said: 'I'm either going to jump now, or I'm going to go down with you. So I'm going to get out.' He said: 'Am I sinking?' I said: 'Yeah.' And then I walked. And he is sinking.
"I didn't know how long it would take, I didn't know when. I just knew there was going to be a karma situation. You can't possibly conduct yourself a certain way and get away with it. I knew the karma police were coming. Do I feel guilt that I left him? On the contrary."

Well, which one of us can truly say we've not dumped a partner because of an approaching iceberg shaped liked a karma situation. Or maybe a karma situation that looks like an iceberg. But we hope if our head ever gets so screwed we start to behave like Jackson, our wife would do more to help than to just mutter a tortured metaphor. But then we imagine we'd be more likely to go down like the Belgrano, to be honest, so maybe it won't be an issue.

Worryingly, Lisa Marie says she's not got a man-go-dating-boy at the moment because it would be a distraction from her work. Apparently she has to choose between making bad records or having destructive sex with inappopriate husbands. Let's hope she joins FriendFinder soon, eh?

FORGET THE EAST SIDE-WEST SIDE - IT'S THE NORTH ISLAND-SOUTH ISLAND YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR EYE ON: New Zealand rapper beats the crap out of two fifteen year-old boys. The New Zealandy element is in the court report where he "saw the boys outside a dairy" rather than - had this been in New York or LA - a pimp joint or a crackhouse.

CROW CROWING STICKS IN CRAW: We've had this email from Neil Comfort:

I just had to pick up on this - I find much of your rantings fabulous reading, but this stuck in my craw;
"Grammy-winner Sheryl Crow said, "Music fans cannot expect their favorite musicians to continue to produce quality albums if they are not willing to pay. People, including musicians, expect to be rewarded for a job well done. It's all about supply and demand. If there is not demand, there will eventually be no supply."

Is Sheryl saying that if the record is done badly, then we shouldn't have to pay?"
Well... no, she isn't. She says that if they're not willing to pay, then they shouldn't expect quality albums - which logically implies that if they expect quality albums, then they should expect to pay. What you suggest is completely different, ie. if they pay then they should expect quality albums - but I'm afraid your argument is not substantiated by her comments.
Sorry, but as you normally pay stringent attention to detail, I thought it only beneficial to point out when you're plain wrong.
Which we probably have to agree with. We'd been aiming more at the 'expect to be rewarded for a job well done' part but... yeah, set against the first sentence we're probably being unfair. But, hey, we did like Stay In The Sun, if that helps any?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JAMIE THEAKSTON'S SHOW?: Cat Deely and Dermot O'Leary to join Radio One. We presume to do this sort of thing:

Simon Tyers suspects the top level meeting prior to the announcement may have gone something like this:

"So, gentlemen, the news is we've agreed two new signings - the by now irrepressible (well, have you seen T4 since he left?) all-action star of yoof TV and the increasingly orange yet still oddly likeable Next Big Thing Of Prime-Time. Now, what to do with them?"

"Well, how about we give them a really shitty, commercial network-esque showbiz party-themed magazine show in the Sunday afternoon throwaway slot, kind of like that Top Of The Pops show we used to give Jayne Middlemiss in the hope she wouldn't notice how fast the oil was draining from her career, along with carefully planted tabloid stories telling Sara to ship up or piss off even though Scott Mills will probably replace her if/when she goes, god help us?"

"Fantastic idea! And what's more, we can really piss off Edith, who might have been hoping to resurrect her Capital partnership with her, y'know, best mate, but instead will now have to spend twice as long listening to Colin making jokes about tits!"

"Brilliant ideas all round, gentlemen - that'll really get the puntersflowing back. Now, point 4, Mark and Lard's contracts..."

Monday, June 30, 2003

THEY RETURN FROM SOMERSET, IN THEIR ONES AND TWOS: Naturally heading for a good hot shower first, No Rock regular Gareth Jones offered us this chunk of review as a teaser for his fuller thoughts, which are to follow:

briefly: best glasto i've been to (97, 98, 99 and last year),  weather managed to be alright. a bit too hot for the fair-skinned likes of myself, as my neck and right arm testify. it was even 'roomier' than last year; there must have been more blaggers than ticket holders before 'the fence' came in last year. very quiet on the whole. highlight was probably the flips; and  they could've been even better, but what can you do when you've got a huge main stage crowd, bathed in sunshine, and half of them can't even be bothered to sing along to happy birthday, let alone she don't use jelly. and wayne always sounds 'strained' live.

TWO BLUE: They've done an out-of-court settlement on the two bands called Blue problem; the end result is that both bands, erm, will continue to be called Blue. Interestingly, Old Blue have agreed to pay costs, but are only going to have to if they cause a commotion over the names in the future. Which seems to us to suggest that they've realised they didn't have a hope in hell of winning (when even a High Court judge is taking the piss out of you, you're on a loser) and the team behind the younger, more gay Blue have been very generous in victory. Avanti, as Black Type used to say.

MOVING, KEEP ON MOVING...: The Dandy Warhols' new site, called the odditorium, has come up with an irritating gimmick ("is trying out an interesting experiment") by moving around the web, which probably makes it the twenty-first century equivalent of an old style freak show carnival thingy. At the moment it's on the 'standard pretty girls, but with red hair and pierced lips so that'd be alternative, then' porn site suicide girls, but will then wheel about the www until it lands under its own URL permanently. Curious, in all sorts of ways.

OVER-OPTIMISTIC PUBLIC PREDICTIONS: A NEW OCCASIONAL SERIES: Peter Richmond, in 2000, talking about Geri Halliwell: "Shes got an incredible voice and I predict that in 5 years she will be selling millions of records. I cannot wait to turn round to people and say "I told you so!"
Well, there's still eighteen months to go, I suppose.

CLEAR CHANNEL SPREADS: They've stitched up the radio in the US. They've sucked up the music promotional business in the states, and are doing it in the UK, too. They've quite a bunch of performing venues. You thought that IPC sub-editors dictated our youth? In the States, it's almost impossible to like a band without the approval of Clear Channel, at least at board level.

And now, inevitably, they're making a step towards the music press with a giveaway magazine. Of course, if we were incredibly cynical, we might ponder if giving away a magazine was a way of undermining independent paid-for titles to a point where they'd need to sell out to some cash-rich media corporation like, oooooh, Clear Channel. But only if we were cynical, mind.

MUSIC PEOPLE LINE UP TO PRAISE THEIR MASTER'S CAMPAIGN: For various reasons - as part of contract renegotiation, or trying to bury remarks about George Bush once and for all, and maybe even because they're not very bright - people from the lower reaches of the Top 40 are lining up to throw thier weight behind the unseemly campaign of dragging individual file sharers into court:

Grammy-winner Sheryl Crow said, "Music fans cannot expect their favorite musicians to continue to produce quality albums if they are not willing to pay. People, including musicians, expect to be rewarded for a job well done. It's all about supply and demand. If there is not demand, there will eventually be no supply."

Is Sheryl saying that if the record is done badly, then we shouldn't have to pay? It's lucky she's chosen to release blousy music rather than enter economics as a career, since the problem here has nothing whatsoever to do with supply and demand - indeed, the problem is that there's too much demand, surely? Still, interesting that her music only exists when it sells - if nobody wants it, then it will cease to be, she's explained. Whatever happened to art for arts sake, eh?

Mary J. Blige said, "If you create something and then someone takes it without your permission, that is stealing. It may sound harsh, but it is true."

Well, if we're going to get philosophical, then no it isn't stealing, quite. You don't have to seek permission to buy a record every single time - quite often there's not even any implicit permission from the creator (for example, when the record label sells tracks to the Now franchise, that's usually done without reference to the creator of the track at all). The issue was about payment, not permission, surely?

According to the Dixie Chicks, "It may seem innocent enough, but every time you illegally download music a songwriter doesn't get paid. And, every time you swap that music with your friends a new artist doesn't get a chance. Respect the artists you love by not stealing their music."

Nope, not the case, Dixie Ladies. If you make an illegal download, yes, the songwriter doesn't get paid. But that doesn't mean they're losing anything - it's only if you download a track you would otherwise have bought that the songwriter makes any sort of loss. And in many cases, swapping music is the only way new artists get a chance to be heard - especially what with Clear Channel closing down the radio to newcomers. Banning filesharing outright will do more harm than good to new artists. How many bands did you discover because friends made you mix tapes?

Actually, you know, Vanessa Carlton surprised us by showing a little more understanding of the complexities than the others:
"I'm all for getting a taste of something before you buy it, but when it becomes more than a taste and people begin hoarding the entire work, it becomes piracy which results in a system in which artists are not being rewarded for their works."

And, yeah, we'd say yep to that. How did the RIAA let through a statement which allows that some downloads aren't totally, inherrently, irredeemably evil? Heads, we're sure, will roll.

UNDER A BLOOD RED SKY: Bono has been getting death threats. There's a lingering suspiscion we're being told this so we can realise just how important he is, but even so - it's kinda sucky that it's happening. What's wonderful is quite how fantastically stupid his scary threatening person is - sending letters from London, the green-inker insists Bono should forget foreign people and help 'his own'. But Bono, of course, is foreign from the perspective of someone living in London.
Still, it's not all doom and gloom - Bono doesn't seem likely to let what appears to be a fortnightly letter put him off appearing in public with likes of George Bush and Tony Blair and other honorable men. Oh, hang about - it is all doom and gloom, isn't it?

SELF-DESTRUCTION IS SO UNATTRACTIVE: Tatu even manage to piss off Japan, quite remarkable since it's a country that usually falls for that sort of thing.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

GLASTONBURY - LIVE FROM THE SOFA: Ridiculously, BBC Three are going to piss off not only for 24 but the chinnywagging about 24 Pure 24 show in a moment, and so there's a slight sense of rush in this evening's programme (although not so rushed that they couldn't find time for yet more of David Gray's Friday evening set - what is this? Some sort of pain to make us pay for our pleasure?). The tightness of time was a pity, as the producers had suddenly woken up to life beyond the Pyramid and Other stages, inviting The Bandits up to represent everybody on the New Bands Stage and crossing to see the Roots on the Dance Stage live.

Among the bits recorded earlier was Dave Gahan's first ever appearance at Glastonbury. He told ColinEdith he 'couldn't remember' if he'd ever been to Glastonbury as a paying customer; in most people this would be trying too hard to earn cool points, but with Gahan you can safely chalk it up to most of his weekends having been lost, mislaid or otherwise displaced from his memory. This is the first time we've had a chance to see what Gahan is up to these days, and his hard-won independence from Martin Gore was trampled on a bit when they picked Personal Jesus to illustrate his set. For some reason, Gahan and his band had reinvented this in a style that smacks more of the Glitter Band than the original; the feeling that we're at the end of some pier is increased when Dave starts yelling "Glastonbury - I can't hear you!" like he was Ted Bovis. It's not easy to judge from one song, but the impression is: Martin Gore's main role in Depeche Mode wasn't as songwriter, but as the one who kept the cheap vaudeville in check.

The Manics play a new tune - so new it doesn't have a name yet, and so dull it doesn't have a hook, either. The band were seemingly stuck in a chug-through gear until they hit Take The Skinheads Bowling (a better cover choice than James made earlier for BBC2), after which it was as if they'd been reminded that music was, you know, supposedly the thing they loved so much they made it their lives. Just as they were picking up, of course, BBC Three moved away.

BBC 2 have taken up the baton - Phil Jupitus and Lauren Laverne in the much nicer studio (why does BBC 2 have different titles and onscreen captions, by the way?) but they've been hobbled from the off by having Moby on closing things off with the advert jingles we all know and love. Still, as I'm listening to this, I know I'm fourteen stairs away from my soft, lovely bed and two steps from a kettle - the poor sods stuck down the front still have to plod up that bloody hill through the village before they can even start the journey home. All in all, it's been a great weekend from a coverage point of view, a mix of the so-so and the schweet, and probably the best Glastonbury I haven't been to.

I know some of you out there will be reading this after having made the Great Plod Home - how was it, then? email us and let us know.

FIELD OF DREAMS - MORE GLASTONBURY LIVE: From where we're sitting, we have to admit that it does like the best Glastonbury in years - well organised, happy, and quiet, although we're not sure we're able to judge the cost to the feel of the festival here. What's amused us greatly is that for the entire length of the festival and the run-up weeks, there's been no mention at all of the role of the Mean Fiddler in the event. Curious.

Last night's headlining band was Radiohead, who both live on BBC Three and in the little clips shown on BBC 2 this afternoon looked spectacular; Thom Yorke was grinning like a loon, especially when he thought nobody was looking, and there's nothing sexier than a band enjoying themselves. Even an angst-band. It seems to have been that sort of festival - one which even makes Radiohead smile.

John Peel was showing off bleeding legs, having somehow fallen into some barbed wire (and he wasn't around on BBC2 this afternoon, so we hope TGM* is alright), but his contributions have been exactly what you'd expect - chatting to the cast of the Archers (how old is Fallon now? We just ask because... you know...) and generally being John Peel.

The Sugababes this afternoon looked a bit underwhelmed, and the crowd responded in the same underwhlemed fashion - probably because singing on a stage in the sunlight to a big crowd is pretty much the natural habit of the 'babes, with the circuit of Radio City-style party in the parks these days, so for them it probably felt like just another PA. They seemed to believe that just turning up would be crowd pleasing enough; it wasn't really, and having heard them sing earlier this year at Top of the Pops, we're not sure if they've either had a massive amount of singing tuition, or if they've merely got lip-synching down pat.

What's with the BBC's fetish for Supergrass? Again, with all those performances to choose from, the early evening news chose the 'grass as their illustrative clip for teatime. Is it just the newsroom is full of people of that specific age? But even then, surely they'd have chosen a spot of Radiohead instead?

Away from the stage footage, BBC2 had a strong line-up for its afternoon package - Cerys Matthews (who despite being six weeks away from confinement) looks as thin as a stick, and James Dean Bradfield, who, ahem, isn't, shall we say? Both the Welsh turned in a song - Cerys doing Stuck in the middle, and James, unwisely, picking Art Garfunkel's bunny-hymn Bright Eyes. I think by the second chorus everyone had realised that not enough thought had been put into this choice - the viewers, the production team, and especially James. Let's hope it doesn't dent his confidence too much before the manic street preachers go on tonight.

* - The Great Man

I WANNA TAKE YOU TO A KARAOKE BAR: It's interesting - perhaps - that some radio station survey has found that Robbie Williams and Christina Aguilera are the top choices of voices for karaoke singers. While neither are actually flat, neither are actually what you'd call good singers - if you want the proof, listen to Fighter - a great song which calls for a delivery like the Bodyline tour, but all Christina can manage is shouting like Cher with a nipple clap and a finger down her throat; likewise, you only have to play William's self-deluding swing album to see that his talent is incredibly limited. So maybe this is their appeal - they offer hope to those people who gather round the vidiscreen in Terryspoons to belt out I Will Survive or My Way with the scant diregard for register usually only shown by perpetual truants that they, too, could have a top ten hit. They're not stellar singers, they don't sound as if their voices were taught to them by the king of the birds; they can just knock out a song and carry a bit of a tune. They're alright singers. They have an attainable status.

PHAIR ENOUGH?: We've been keeping an eye on the Liz Phair goes Avril saga - obviously, you know, it's her choice, yada yada. Now the album - co-created with the likes of the Matrix - is out, and the critical reaction is rather like what happens when British actors go to Hollywood - you know they're going to get a chilly reception, but the level of critfrost always comes as a surprise.

Liz says she wants to keep her indieness, do highbrow and lowbrow, but that seems kind of naive and over-hopeful, what with The Rules of Indie being what they are. She could have come from the Top 40 world and been given a special pass to credibility - taking a Kylie Minogue route, who spent a couple of years hanging around with the likes of the Primals and managed to keep hold of her indie-darling status when she decided she'd rather actually sell records again, thank you very much. Depeche Mode also managed to turn their Woolworths-favourites status inside out. But going in the opposite direction - to be a 'proper' indie artist, to make a Big Glossy Record - and try to keep your indie position is far, far trickier to pull off. We'd imagine that she finds that ridiculous, and so do we, to be honest, but, hey, we don't make the rules. And if her gamble pays off, and she does sell bucketloads of 'Liz Phair', we'd imagine that not being held in the same high esteem by the people who think "MTV2? too mainstream" won't cause her many sleepless nights. (If the gamble fails, mind you...)

It's also worth noting the eponymous title for the album - the standard self-titled release is the first, where the album's name serves as a calling card as well. It's almost like she's restarting from scratch.

******************: DMX has been arrested for swearing. While this seems as unfair as detaining a country singer for bringing down the mood in a concert hall, he was warned that St Kitts and Nevis had a law forbidding bad language. His manager seems to have a bit of a misunderstanding how laws work, saying that although he was told about the law he never said he was going to tone down his act and - besides - his fans would expect swearing. Yeah, because that's what laws are like. If someone says "Don't steal that teapot, it's against the law", you have a valid defence if you don't actually say out loud you're going to obey that law. I see.

And let's ponder for a moment how shit a rapper must be to be scared his audience would demand a refund because he didn't say Motherfucker. He believe his audience haven't come to hear him being able to deliver funny and clever spontaneous rhymes on a range of subjects, but merely the novelty of a guy swearing? Does this mean if he'd come on, said "Fuck, bollocks, cunt, wank, shitter, poke, anus, titties, fuckity fuck", then everyone would have gone home happy after those few words? (It does work for the never-funny Roy 'Chubby' Brown, doesn't it?)