Saturday, April 17, 2004

LOVE MANAGES TO MAKE IT THROUGH MEDIA APPOINTMENT ON TIME, FULLY CLOTHED: Congratulations to Courtney Love, who managed to keep herself covered up in front of cameras for the first time since 1996 when she appeared on Leno. The highlight of her (by her standards restrained) appearance on the show was this piece of splendid self-delusion:

On Tonight, Love told the delightful story of the day a social worker came to her home to check on her 11-year-old daughter and she got all "smartass."
"You guys got to leave soon. My pimp is coming home," Love said she told the official, per Reuters. "Someone is holding my place in the methadone line."

Courtney seems to think that her smartassing may have been what lead Frances being taken into care, which is on a par with Jeffrey Archer thinking that his sloppy windsor knot was what got him sent down rather than his being a lying, perjuring scumbag.

SOMEONE FIBS TO SOMEONE AND UPSETS NAMIBIA: Frankly, if they're expected to treat him like a King whenever he turns up, we'd imagine the good people of Namibia are secretly glad that the promised Michael Jackson visit has turned out to be a hoax, or a fuck-up, or something - nobody seems quite sure how Namibia came to be expecting Jackson to be calling. They can hang on to their tax dollars and spend it on something more worthwhile than lauding Mr. Jackson. It also means they won't have to sit there through dinner pretending that they liked 'The Girl Is Mine' much more than 'Ebony and Ivory.'

"WOULD SIR LIKE THE DEVIL WOMAN SUITE OR THE MILLENNIUM PRAYER PENTHOUSE?": We don't have a problem with Cliff Richard investing in a hotel - he's a major backer of the Arora hotel in Manchester, but we do find ourselves totally puzzled at to what the "three or four Cliff-themed rooms" will be like. Two bibles in every room? No toilets? Double beds strictly forbidden. One of the greatest quotes of all time comes from Cliff's 'business partner' Bill Latham, who observes "Cliff is famous for his music, but he has business interests too which are less well known." Yeah, funny that - we bet Cliff finds it puzzling. "Everyone mentions Wired For Sound and We Don't Talk Anymore, but nobody ever comes up and says 'Cliff, we love the way you bought forty thousand non-voting shares in ContainerIncs', do they?"

HEADING BACK: The good news is, The Lemonheads are back (oh, come on, that is good news; don't be such curmudgeons.) Probably hoping to do a spot of business of the Kurt anniversary and the Pixies reunion, Evan Dando has slapped his "Mum and Dad I do drugs" sticker back on his geetar and is setting out to do some gigs. They're all in South America, mind, which we presume is a what's known as a "soft relaunch."

Throwing Muses tour by Christmas, anyone?

YOU 'USH YOUR MOUTH: So it's clear, then, that Usher didn't like the Britney Spears/ Madonna MTV kiss:

"Britney Spears. She's a fool. I'd never have kissed Madonna on national TV.
I don't care how much press she got - I think it was ignorant. I personally have a problem with it.
I don't know how Justin had the heart to keep his mouth shut, but you only had to look at his face to tell he was obviously disgusted.
If there was anything I hated in 2003, that was it. It was a really bad move."

Or so Teenmusic reckons he says, anyway. But we're not quite sure what the problem is. We'd assume he's just recoiling at the thought of women kissing women - why else would he assume that the in-on-it-all Justin reaction was "disgust"; even if it was any of his business anyway - but it seems to be more from his "I wouldn't kiss Madonna" quote that what really turns Usher's stomach is the thought of older people with sex lives. Thank god he grew up in America and didn't have to see Phyllis Pearce's singleminded pursuit of Percy Sugden.

Friday, April 16, 2004

A DIFFERENT KIND OF BLUE: We can understand Blue getting excited that Stevie Wonder has written a song for them - after all, he used to be a keynote artist; he was behind some unquestionably great records. And, we can understand Wonder not being too ashamed to write a song for the clunking boyband. After all, it's not so very far down feeding songwords to Lee Ryan from providing the music for The Woman in Red, is it? There's been a 'Will write instantly forgettable tosh for food' sign hung round Little Stevie's neck for nearly twenty years now.

YOU KNOW WHO'D BE PERFECT FOR COURTNEY? ANYONE BUT COURTNEY: So, they're going to make a movie about Kurt Cobain - Mel Gibson could direct, Everett True will be shown the final cut and utter a gnomic "It is as it was." But what about the casting? We know there's going to be an unseemly catfight between Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears for that plum Courtney role. And we suspect the reason Todd in Corrie has been growing that Banardos Charity Shop Beard might be out, then - although who's to say that Matthew Perry, now free from Friends, might not fancy bringing his perspective ("I know the pain of addiction") to the Kurt role. Jack Black for Tad, anyone?

LOOS LIPS...: As if it wasn't bad enough that the woman who cuckolded Posh ruined the Smile Hour episode of Angel by having her name and tell-all tittle tattle trailed over the top of Wesley's face everytime he stood up, her smoking gun ain't all that, either: 'I know something about Beckham's anatomy.' Rebecca, love, he's a footballer. They shower and bath together. Anyone who's ever played for Manchester United will have seen it at some point. What else ya got?

NORTH COUNTRY BOYS: He'll like that... The Charlatans are going to support Bob Dylan at the Fleadh on June 20th. Which does of course raise all sorts of questions of an "Irish in what way?" nature, but... even so. Charlatans in a sunny park*

* - sun not guaranteed

SOMETIMES THE DEMON LEAVES A MARK WHEN IT COMES OUT. YOU MIGHT NOT BE PRETTY ANYMORE: You'll be aware that the last Muse gig ended with Matt Bellamy running off stage, blood pouring from a nasty wound. Misconstrued Thoughts has got a video from the gig.

ONE DOOR CLOSES AND ALL THAT: No sooner has Just 17 rolled up its Justin Timberlake posters for the last time than 19, IPC's slightly more grown-up equivalent also decides that enough is enough.

dead at 19

It's harder for us to get dewey eyed about the closure of 19, to be honest; we can't recall ever having actually bought the thing, and to be honest we're not sure how it managed to keep going for so long when it was up against Company anyway.

But while teenage girls lose a magazine, slightly older men gain one with the planned launch of Blink, a "distinctive" coffe-table magazine aimed at people too jaded for GQ. Uri Gellar's writing for it, though, which only makes us feel even more jaded.

THE TRACKMARKS OF MY TEARS: Well, at least it makes his name a bit more apt, we guess - Smokey Robinson has been 'fessing up to his wayward years, before a bit of a pray got him back on the straight and narrow. It seems in his time he could have out-Courtneyed Courtney, even finding dope so dull he used to sprinkle cocaine on top to give it a bit of extra ooomph. Now, that's dedication. Touch the hem of his garment? It's a bloody miracle he even remembered to put on his own trousers.

SINGULAR SLOWDIVING: Coming in May: A solo CD from Rachel Goswell, late of Slowdive. It's coming out on 4AD, which makes her one of the very, very few people to have been on both Creation and 4AD.

DAMN, HEATHER MUST BE WEARING HIM OUT: Is it just us, or has Paul McCartney really aged in the last year? Look at this BBC News photo if you don't believe us:

will I look like David Brinkley?

SEND IN KIRSTIE ALLSOPP: Apparently, Jay-Z and Robert DeNiro have fallen out over a house sale in Tribeca. DeNiro wants fifteen million bucks, Jay-Z is refusing to go a cent over thirteen and a half. They should get Kirstie in to sort it out. Actually, they should just be sending Kirstie in to sort any sort of disputes. She'd have Israel and the Palestinians dealt with in no time.

WHY RECORD COMPANIES HAVE TROUBLES: We've just got a mailout from Columbia Records. Can anyone spot the logical flaw?

Read on for the details in the DAILY DISH, served up weekly by Columbia Records.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


also, might you do an item on no rock n roll fun about the fact that a bunch of loser elastica fans who haven't gotten over their split are going to petition deceptive/the band to release a dvd next year as it is the 10 yr anniversary of their first album? we are hoping for a dvd with videos though I'm more interested in live stuff and of course a 'where are they now?' style documentary would be priceless. anyway, if you think it worthwhile, please ask your readers to write to tony at deceptive and apparently he is open to considering it - there might be a more formal petition later.

A campaign we're happy to endorse, of course. In fact, we have more than a soft spot for the first Elastica album. Back, well, ten years ago, the now defunct Melody Maker had a competition to come up with a name for the record (the band, it seemed, were fresh out of ideas.) Our suggestion - Seven Xs and a Single Y (thereby combining the chromosome make-up of the group and what to us was a pleasing 'seven kisses and a single 'why?'' pun) - actually won, so we got some really nice bits and pieces, including a signed limited edition seven inch. The seven inch fell victim to cat pee, and apparently the idea was junked in favour of the slightly less esoteric 'Elastica', but we still draw comfort from a tale that we fully intend to bore either our, or someone else's grandchildren with as we watch the sun sink low over whatever remains of the British countryside forty years hence.

MORE GLASTO TICKET MADNESS: We got an email an hour or so back from John H., who reported that Glastonbury tickets were earlier available again on SeeTickets - when we went to check, there was just a sold out page again, but the way things have been, who knows?

Incidently, if you're wondering why SeeTickets isn't a name you've come across before, it seems to be a merger of Wayahead, Ticketselect, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful ticket arm. Their website expresses a desire to combine "the muscle of a big organisation" with "the values of a small one", although these appear to have become transposed while trying to flog Glasto tix...

ON YOUR BIKES: Muttering that they never got any support from them anyway, and with an air of mutual hostility, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have left Virgin, making the one-out-of-five cull planned for EMI's labels slightly easier. The BRMC posse described their departure as "one of the greatest days in the band's short history", although we suspect it doesn't feel quite as good as wiping the floor with Jack White on their cover of The Hardest Button to Button did.

SOME THINGS TO LISTEN TO: Miss Black America have got a whole heap of their sessions available to download, off one of those website things. Fill your iPods, gang.

BLOODY HELL, HOW MANY TIMES DID THAT FAKE CLEANER COME BACK?: Whoever you want to believe, Courtney Love is in a bit of a (ho-ho) hole, apparently having debts of about four millions and possibly even having been swindled out of forty million dollars. What's more worrying is that it sounds as if Frances' trust fund has been emptied, too. Talking to Maxim, Courtney blames it all on a "fidicuary organisation", which surely would make it easy to sue them for breach of faith? It's claimed, though, that her dog walker was being paid USD100,000 - although, frankly, if you own a dog and can't be fagged to walk it yourself, you probably should expect to be ripped off - and that someone put a BMW on her credit card. Now, while you can have sympathy for people who have so much money when subtle pieces of thieving are done on the edges they don't notice - up to a point, of course - when your dog walker is better dressed than you are, surely you'd notice? Unless, you know, you were wacked out your mind on drugs or something.

NO INNER PEACE: Gina Gershon probably regrets what sounded like a great idea at the time: a tour to promote her Prey for Rock n Roll flick; her singing; Girls Against Boys providing instrumentation. She wound up with a tapeworm and having to eat seven or eight meals a day. To make it worse, while she had a little fella inside her insides, the whole thing was being filmed for a documentary. It's a shit business.
prey poster

DAMMIT, WHAT'S WITH YOU PEOPLE - WHICH PART OF 'PAY OFF' DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE WITH?: Despite having (supposedly) tried to buy her silence with a couple of million bucks, and the case reaching an apparent natural end last year, Celine Dion's husband hasn't heard the last of the sexual assault case against him. Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung now thinks she can prove her claim that Rene Angelil forced himself on her in the Imperial Palace, Las Vegas, because she believes she's found his spunk all down the front of her dress. Now, that's something we'd have thought you might have spotted before, ourselves - "how embarrassing... there's dried semen on this dress. No wonder Miss Tibbs was looking at me so oddly when I wore it to the summer fete" - but a judge has given them the OK to give the dress a going over.

WHO'S FOOLING WHO?: Ozzy Osbourne was delighted to receive a letter from Paul Martin, the Canadian Premier, offering him the key to Montreal, and spent some time on the phone talking to "Martin" before realising the whole thing smelled a bit fishy. IT turns out the whole thing is a hoax, although we're fascinated by just how inept you'd have to be at pretending to be the Canadian PM for even Ozzy Osbourne to work out you were a fake. Ozzy's turned the whole thing over to the cops. Or at least he rang some people on the telephone who said they were cops, but we're not so sure about that, either, judging by what Ozzy's spokesperson says their reaction was:

"That letter and email and phone call were a hoax. The police are going to be proceeding with trying to prosecute these people because they've actually put the Prime Minister's signature on the document, which is highly illegal, and he can be imprisoned for up to 15 years. Ozzy says, "It could be an assassin or something."

Mmm. An incredibly rubbish assasin, though: what, he was planning for Ozzy to turn up at the Canadian Parliament building, done up to the nines, expecting an award and then to die of shame when he found out his error? And not even in pre-lawless Iraq was sending a spoof letter really going to attract a lot of police attention - we can just picture the boys in Montreal A Precinct, call on the speakerphone: "What, Mr. Osbourne... yes, we'll scour the nation for this guy... why, he could get fifteen years for sending a false letter to a pop star... he's just lucky it wasn't a bilingual spoof, he'd be looking at thirty years then..."

YOU MAY WANT TO GET A PEN AND PAPER FOR THIS ONE, IT'S A LITTLE BIT LIKE ROCK FAMILY TREES: But how thrilling to have a first mention of Danny La Rue on No Rock - it's that sort of a day, isn't it; they had a clip from Terry and June on the business news on 'Today' this morning. Anyway, you'll recall Liberace, of course, the gay-as-a-Bacardi-Breezer pianist who sued the Daily Mirror's Cassandra for suggesting he wasn't totally straight (yes, yes, gossip so old even Popbitch would roll its eyes); his lover Scott Thorson claims that Liberace introduced him to Michael Jackson, with whom he indulged in a passionate affair, climaxing with an hour of passionate lovemaking on Danny LaRue's bed. He also reckons they did it in Lord Montague's house; he, of course, was the chap who used to pop up in adverts for his collection of classic cars held there. "Who knows? You may even see Lord Montague" ended the ad's voiceover, although "Who knows? You may even see Liberace's other half shagging the ass of Michael Jackson" would have probably been more effective in bringing in the punters - it would have had Beaulieu stomping all over the bloody Lions of Longleat. Anyway, you might be wondering what Thorson is after ("why he's coming forward now.") Apparently, its not that he's hoping he can carve a niche for himself on the chat show circuit - we'd bet he'd cut you dead if you so much as hinted he wanted a book deal - but in case he can be of some use to the prosecution case in Jackson's current trials. (He saw Michael reading some magazines with 'young boys' in, apparently, although to someone hanging out with Liberace, Lord Montague and Danny LaRue, anyone under about forty is going to look positively schoolboyish). We're guessing from this that Jacko didn't return some calls back in the 80s. If there's a word of truth in any of it.

DARTH WHEELER?: Okay, then, why else would Ash be going for "secret" talks with George Lucas unless it's something to do with the last part of the first segment of the Star Wars trilogy? Unless, of course, Lucas is going to try and persuade Charlotte to dress up as Leia in the slave-girl outfit. Or Tim. We're not bothered. They're due to hook up with Lucas on the Skywalker Ranch next month. And we're supposing it's unlikely that Lucas is going to abandon the operatic theme tunes for an indie-rock love song, so surely we're talking cameo appearances? It might be idle specualtion, but anything that stops us from fretting on what David Beckham's penis is going have making it so distinctive, we're happy to run with it.

SOPHOMORE, MORE, MORE: Interpol are down in their studio, working away on a new album. Chances are we won't see it this side of the autumn, though - although judging by the quantities of their first album, Turn on the Bright Lights, still shifting themselves out the door, they won't be in much of a hurry.

DISPATCHES FROM THE MIDDLE AGES: Josh Homme has been talking about the brawl he got himself all muddled up in the other week. He claims that he didn't actually lose, which doesn't surprise us, but the actual cause of the fight he gives is slightly disturbing:

"The guy was talking to my girlfriend and her friend, so I asked him to leave. When he didn't, I knocked him out."

Apart from the obvious point that Brody could probably deck any guy who she didn't want attention from for herself, it kinda makes us wonder if Josh wouldn't fit in a little better down Slater Street on a Friday evening if he doesn't like fellas talking to his bird. We're sure that the guy probably deserved it, though: rumours also suggest that he "called Josh's pint a puff" and "looked at him in a funny way."

THE CRACKS SHOW: Virgin (the bits still owned by Branson and his bankers, not the record company, which is part of EMI) is having a bit of a problem with the ready cash at the moment; in a bid to get its hands on some of the folding stuff, the company is closing its Virgin megastores in Long Island and Columbus, Ohio. This will leave the chain with just 21 outlets in the US to close in subsequent cash crises.

QUEENS TAKE ON THE PRESIDENT: The state of the American bodypolitic has encouraged Queensryche to reactivate a lot of their Operation:Mindcrime album for their current tour. Geoff Tate explained that the band see a lot of similarities between the situation now and 1988, when they created the concept album. (They're talking about nutty right wing presidents, of course). He's also quick to defend their credibility:

"It just depends on what you want to do with your life," he said. "We never looked at our career or our music as a sporting event. We're not out there competing with another band or anybody musically or monetarily. We're just writing music, playing music and traveling around and playing our music for people. And it is really a simple concept."

Which makes them sound less like enormo-spectacle hair rockers and more like the Handsome Family.

EMI DENY EVERYTHING: EMI, who are currently suing hiphop label Avatar in the US has issued an angry denial of claims that the UK based major label had been claiming over-inflated sales figures. Buried in their official statement, however, is a hint that maybe someone, somewhere along the line has been massaging some sales:

"EMI wishes to clarify the nature of the false allegations made against EMI in connection with EMI's suit against Avatar Records for non-payment of amounts due. Neither Avatar nor any other person has alleged that EMI has misstated its revenues from sales and in fact EMI has never misreported its sales in its accounts or elsewhere. The allegations relate only to the behavior of certain independent marketing consultants in respect of the manipulation of the US chart position of a limited set of recordings, as determined by the Nielsen SoundScan. EMI categorically denies these allegations."

Is it just us, or is there something odd about bothering to clairfy allegations while at the same time rejecting them?

ANASTACIA: NO PATENT FOR CANCER: Obviously, we're not so cold hearted here that we're not genuinely delighted that Anastacia beat cancer - although we'd have been even more pleased if she'd taken the chance to think about a career change, or just bought some decent glasses. But goodwill is like petrol, and evaporates very quickly. So, when we see her trying to claims that Samantha's breast cancer in Sex and the City was "based on" her story, we find ourselves grinding our teeth. Because, of course, Anas, you're the only person in the world who's ever had breast cancer. And you know what else? You know that kid in Seaview? I think they pinched the idea for his stupid spectacles from you.

THE DEVIL AND MS JONES: Conspiracy, perjury, making false statements, obstuction and having really rubbish tattoos: those are the charges facing Lil'Kim (or Kimberley Jones, as her real, Guildford suburb sounding name has it in the rap sheet) after she's alleged to have lied to a grand jury investigating a shooting in New York. She's pleaded not guilty, and been released on a half million bond.

"WELL, I WAS ABOUT TO LEAVE THE OFFICE...": Now we're starting to understand why the RIAA's Amy Weiss made such a pisspoor job of attacking the Harvard downloading study - she'd landed another job and was mentally already opening leaving cards when she cobbled her response together.

ROCK SICK LIST: A bucketload of get well soons to Roman Tucker, lead singer with Rocket Science. Preparing for a Melbourne gig on Saturday, Roman fainted and wound up in a coma - in the fall, he picked up two blood clots and swelling on the brain. He's expected to make a full recovery, but even so: head injuries aren't much fun. [Thanks to Nick B]

OH GOD, THERE'S TWO OF THEM: Is there some sort of law - a quota, maybe - that insists that Southern Hemisphere pop stars have to have a sibling? Playing Dannii to Daniel Bedingfeld's Kylie is sister Natasha, who's got a debut single coming out - it's called 'Single', which we hope is a homage to PIL's 'album' but almost certainly isn't.


"If you're a celebrity and you want to marry your sweetheart for 55 hours, go right ahead. If you're J. Lo and you want to marry 18 people for six days each, go right on ahead! But if you want to marry your soul mate and make a life of it — and you just so happen to be the same sex — then no, how dare you! We'd rather you just buy gasoline and support our war and continue to consume and fear in our country so we can make money off you. But do us a favor: Don't hold hands in public."

SLEEP INSIDE BRITNEY: Oddly, a real-life Onyx Hotel has decided to invite Britney Spears in to do some interior designing for a 'Spears Suite.' The hotel's in Boston, if you want to see what Spears (and her bloody mother) think makes for a relaxing bedroom; as far as we're concerned, so long as you get some of those small packets of biscuits, we're happy.

DAISY CHAIN: We know why the Sun is getting excited by this picture of Rachel Stevens:

it's an allergy nightmare

- no, actually, we don't, come to think of it: The Sun getting in a flap about pictures being touched up? But what puzzles us is not why they've slimmed her down, but why they've slapped Britney Spear's head onto her.

BUY BRICKS FOR BB: They're proud of BB King down in Indianola, Mississippi; which is understandable, he's the most famous son from the small Delta town. But you do start to wonder if they're not, well, going a little over the top. They've just built a BB King museum, in the BB King Park, and now they're flogging off engraved bricks to raise the money to put a statue of BB King there, too. We don't know, but we're betting there's a BB King Blvd too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: 'Okay, we'll refrain from asking if you hate black people; you revoke your demand for Danny Kelly to be handed over; and neither of us mention Southpaw Grammar. Deal?' edition
There’s a really disturbing picture of the Strokes in the new edition of Word. Disturbing in that, high upon an Edinburgh hillside, they look just like Tenpole Tudor.

They also rate the new Morrissey album, track-by-track, for potential controversey. The flashpoint, it seems, is going to be All The Lazy Dykes. Although we can’t see shiftless lesbians getting up in arms about it, somehow.

Eric Clapton is constantly harrassed by a woman who thinks he’s stealing ideas from the inside of her head. So, either she’s completely mad, or she’s been responsible for Clapton’s last few records, in which case she’s dangerous. Either way, she needs help.

Nice piece compiling some the odder reviews: they’re rather harsh on Anne Frank, who “does nothing but complain”; but she gets off lightly compared to whoever bought Trout Mask Replica: “I am now perified to sleep in my own bed.”

“Keane originally formed as school friends in 1997” informs a get-by-in guide to the proudly pudgy pompadors, which seems an odd way of putting it. Drummer Richard tells a story about how he recognised the audience from Top of the Pops on the way home, which is quite sweet.

The closure of Just 17 is more than a media there-but-for-the-grace-of-god moment for David Hepworth, because he helped give birth to the magazine. He reckons the death of the title is a side effect of the death of the teenager, which makes you wonder who it is buying all those copies of Bliss.

Now, where are we up to with that 80s revival? Duran have had their reunion, Five Star have coughed up a remix, the Spands have flirted with getting back together, George Michael is confessing to being in Wham and KajaGooGoo have reunited and already kicked Limahl out again. That means about now, Martin Fry should be... why, yes, here he is. He’s got a theory about music: you can’t be any good at it without having had a miserable childhood. He’s also got a past to live down: his kids used Google to track down pictures of him during ABC’s ill-advised cartoon period.

What people like: George Michael loves West Side Story and Cabaret (well, duh), the never-actually-funny Jimmy Carr claims to be a long-term Lloyd Cole fan (so, that’s why the long face, then). Katie Melua makes the odd claim that “censorship isn’t as tight in Georgia as it is here.” Mmm.

In the report of Shaun of the Dead - Simon Pegg’s new movie - it’s revealed that they had to get permission from the artists whose records they used to decapitate the zombies. Sade said yes; Mark Knopfler refused to allow Brothers In Arms to help save human lives.

“I thought my pain was greater than yours; but the truth was I was just a junkie, so I couldn’t deal with the usual shit everybody else has to deal with. I really believed I was different.... There were points when I mistook lust for love. Like with some of the people I married. Most of them, actually.” Steve Earle, as it happens, but you just knew that it was a country singer, didn’t you?

There’s a big cut-and-come-again fruitcake of an eBay article; it’s disguised as a beginner’s guide, but the real pleasure is from the recognition of yourself in some of the behaviour.

The supposedly exhaustive guide to musical genres doesn’t have Raggle-Taggle or New Wave of New Wave. But there’s lots of headings for cover boys Franz ferdinand to choose from, although when asked they instead place themselves “somewhere between Boyzone and Joy Division.” (i.e. like everyone except Robbie Williams and X, then) Word identifies the band’s strength as being they don’t pretend to be thicker than they actually are. You might want to compare this with Blur, who did try and disguise their smarts; then, when Graham Coxon left taking the clue with him, the residue suddenly started to show off in the hope we wouldn’t notice their bottom had shot.

Clark Collis goes to see The Passion of the Christ, the film based on The Bible (I wish they’d kept the name of the book; I hate it when they do that.) He worries that Gibson’s work will look like a first shot in a fundamentalist war when viewed beyond the Christian world - if only we were still back at that stage.

Talking of those that died for your sins: What, more Kurt Cobain? At least this piece is by David Cavanagh, although you do wonder if he’d not been better off keeping it back for the twentieth anniversary rather than the arse-end of the tenth. “It all seems a long, long time ago” concludes Cavanagh, without the hindsight of all his readers who will have spent the last month feeling like they’d only just tripped over the corpse.

Next month, they’re putting the Smiths on the front, which again might look less like a good idea since it’s starting to look like by May we’ll have had enough Morrissey to bring down Mr Happy. But for now, it’s still a novelty to have him back - especially on the cover of the NME, which neatly plumps for a stripped down front-page, echoing the classic no-words-at-all cover of, ooh, years ago. After a couple of weeks of Kurt and now this, it’s looking increasing like the NME has decided that its long, illustrious past is an asset, not an embarrassment. In fact, with a Mozzer front and an advert for Prince on the back, it’s only the glossy paper that makes it clear you’ve not picked up a 1986 back issue.

But, hey, bang up to date is a small throwaway section sponsored by O2 to launch its download service. What would the stars download on to their digital music players? they ask, not apparently aware that, erm, everyone’s got a digital music player already. And the first star they ask is Conor McNicholas, the NME editor. Star? He’s not even been on ‘Today’ for the last couple of weeks, dammit. It seems this is going to be a monthly giveaway - like that one that used to be sponsored by Miller beer which disappeared without fanfare a while ago. Cameron from Jet is taken off to one side to be asked questions. He’s currently reading a book about John Lennon. Of fucking course.

In the NME proper, Nic out of Jet has been taken to one side, and given to Peter Robinson to play with. If he could put anyone on top of a mountain, he’d stick Chad Kroeger up there. Presumably because Nickelback’s rock for people who don’t like music is direct competition for Jet.

Okay, okay, one final Kurt thing, and then we swear we’ll be so over it: A fan called Natalie announced she’d come to London especially to mark the tenth anniversary. “And then we’re going to the Hard Rock Cafe to look at his guitar. He’s a huge influence on everyone we know.” Really? And yet none of them mentioned that marking his death by going to a burger to gawk at his guitar, displayed like a trophy, might be the closest you could get to pissing in his heroin and making him record Time For Teletubbies?

The big picture is Jack White and Loretta Lynn, which is just stylish.

Keane - here dubbed “Brit Pack anthem makers” (look, nobody’s using that, you know) do the CD thing: Charlatans, Radioehad and, um, Michael Jackson.

radar band are the dead 60s - they’re label mates and management share with The Coral, but they swear blind they’re not part of the Cosmic Scouser Bandwagon Zanzibar scene. Specials Meets the Clash is the verdict (although that sounds scarily like Beat spin-off General Public to us)

So, the return of the Manc, then. Firstly, we don’t want to be shallow but he’s got more hair than he had last time, hasn’t he? His quiff used to be sat like a small, silvery lemur balanced atop his skull; now, there’s a luxuriant abundance of black hair. Morrissey had been refusing to speak to the NME since August 8, 1992, when the whole ‘Are you now, or have you ever been a racist’ thing got out of hand - oh, how much could have been prevented with a simple ‘no’ - but now he recognises that “the people who are at NME now are a different breed; not the old, crusty geriatrics who were there in the early to mid 90s.” So that’s why the detente. That and because the crusty old guard are now in charge of the music pages of the national press and if he doesn’t plug You are the quarry in the NME, it’s going to be a jostle for coverage in Saga and the Oldie. But its good to have him back, you know, pointing out that Tony Blair is turning into Larry Grayson, and chatting about the whole decade that he skipped. It’s kind of how we imagine Blair and Gaddafi’s meeting would have been, only with slightly less farting . He reckons nobody has offered him so much as a pound to reform the Smiths. And just as things are warming up: end of part one. More next week. Well, we’ve waited about six hundred issues, we can wait another seven.

Karen O seems to have disappeared recently, but she’s back as well, talking up the soon-come Yeah yeah yeahs tour; going in the opposite direction are Razorlight, off doing that cracking America thing. Good luck to them, but why do bands always set themselves that goal? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just concentrate on, say, cracking Rhode Island first? Anyway, they kick off the live reviews, too, scoring 8 for their New York gigs. Then...

Kasabian, Islington Academy 2 - “edgy, euphoric, electrifying”, 8
Part Chimp - London Metro - “pain that reminds you you’re alive”
selfish cunt - whitechapel rhythm factory - “London’s finally burning again”, 10

the zutons - who killed the zutons - “waiting to pounce”, 7
syd barrett - radio 1 sessions - “sounds like its been under water for a thousand years”, 6

sotw - franz ferdinand - matinee - “is this what they mean by a win/win situation?”
Pink - last to know - “murderous, corkscrew wielding, hungary for man-blood...”

And finally, who do you reckon Dangermouse has chosen for the ‘why I love’ column? If you said REM, then curse you: you must have peeked.

CAN I DO YOU NOW, SIR?: We're not quite sure what to make of this - Courtney Love is claiming that a woman posing as a cleaner has robbed her. In an MO that presumably makes sense to Courtney, for some reason this woman was posing as a cleaner, although she sat in the lobby of Love's apartment for five hours (which, of course, cleaners do all the time and wouldn't arouse any sort of suspiscion at all.) And yet, although Courtney apparently clocked this lady as sitting around for the best part of a working day, she didn't seem to be unduly worried - odd, considering the last time she turned up late to court it was because she claimed there was a guy outside waiting to kill her; obviously, in the last couple of weeks Court's become a lot more tolerant of strangers behaving unsualy. Then, somehow, the woman got into the flat, and made off with USD600 and "a bunch of bank documents." The key word here is "somehow", of course. Now, we wouldn't want to suggest that Courtney maybe ate the money and ripped up the bank documents suspecting they might have been a plot from Steve Albini. "The bitch also put a red mini skirt in with my white tutus, and ate all the peanut butter." We expect.

WHERE'S JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS?: There's nothing like a list or two for boiling up a spot of outraged debate, and The Independent has squeezed our passion point firmly with its suggestion of the ten best movies about music, ever. For the record, it considered these to be the definitive chart:
(as selected by screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale, and we'd obviously agree with him about High Fidelity and Hedwig, and at the omission pointed out by Chromewaves - of course no Commitments, which painfully combined Roddy Bloody Doyle and Andrew Frickin Strong in one package. It was like the Oirish episodes of Eastenders set to music, and then over-emoted. But then we'll really have to start picking hairs. Anyone who knows us will already be mouthing "No Velvet Goldmine?", of course, which not only had Donna Matthews in it, but also featured Ewan bounding about with flames licking about his penis, and someone masturbating over the NME. Why choose The Great Rock and Roll Swindle over The Filth and the Fury? What sort of list finds space for The Blues Brothers but not for Slade in Flame ("I don't smoke cigarettes, but I've managed to sell a few packets in my time..."). And why include the lazy, kneejerk Spinal Tap (a film more or less ruined by the continued milking of the same gag many, many years later) when there's no space for Empire Records? It just don't make any sort of sense. [Gothamist are also worrying at these bones, as we speak.]

LET'S NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THE REAL VICTIMS: There's going to be a top-level pushing of the blame ("summit") following the debacle, shambles and shame of the Glastonbury ticket sales this year. Michael Eavis, of course, has already pointed his finger at the technological infrastructure, but now the chap responsible for trying to sell the tickets, David Blackburn of Seetickets, has said that it's not their fault, it's all those people trying to buy tickets who broke the system:

"It is a huge event with huge demand, 20 times the demand we had last year," Mr Blackburn told Music Week. In his view, it would have taken an additional "one million telephone operators" to service the massive demand, which was not financially viable.
According to Blackburn, around three million calls were logged on 1 April, the day the tickets went on sale - with some 200 million redials. "This is really a story about the huge demand for Glastonbury," said Mr Blackburn.
[Source: BBC News]

Hang about... why would it have taken all those extra telephone operators? Surely to sell even the entire tranche of tickets over the phone would only have required at most 60,000, who could have each sold a pair of tickets at eight pm and then buggered off home. Blackburn seems to miss the point here - nobody is going to mind holding for a few minutes to get Glastonbury tickets; it was the sitting up for hours on end and not even getting "You're being held in a queue" which seemed to be hacking most people off - and to avoid that, you wouldn't need a single extra operator, just a bit more investment in the technology. Presumably, on Blackburn's basis, to avoid the poor performance of the website would have meant taking on three million people with computers. Is he trying to suggest that nobody knew the demand was going to be sky-high, what with there only being outlet for tickets this year, and the absolute insistence that there was no way tix were going to be allowed to be turning up on Ebay. (We wonder how much strain it would have taken off the system to have allowed that little steam release?) And if Seeticket doesn't feel able to bear the investment required to ensure that people's calls are answered fairly promptly, are they the most fit people to be selling Glastonbury tickets in the first place? We're also curious where his figures come from - "200 million redials"? How could you possibly begin to know how many times people hit their redial button?

Is it just us, or does someone who thinks 'Glastonbury tickets are much sought after' is a news story and 'Hundreds of thousands left frustrated by failure of ticket sales process' isn't, should perhaps consider if he's working in the right industry.

HAWKINS BEATS THE HAWKERS: Sophie B Hawkins' small-claims court case against the guy selling pre-release CDs on Ebay has been heard, and they found in her favour. She got given about three hundred and fifty bucks. Can't help wondering if this could prove a more attractive way for the RIAA to sue its customers - unlike their hideous complicated, dinosaur shaped manoevures to bring people to justice, this case proceeded quickly, and the sums involved were fair restoration rather than punitive. And the money has gone straight to the artist rather than getting lost, somehow, in the deep recesses of the RIAA's back offices. Hey, if they'd tried using the small claims court instead of the full weight of the justice system, the labels might have actually clawed back some of their (alleged) losses, and not looked like a complete bunch of tiger tanks.

AVRIL LAVIGNE - CRUSADER FOR THE TRUTH: Aw, bless, Avril Lavigne's upset that someone has spun a story about her, and thinks that the media is, you know, lying:

Just so you guys hear the real story from me. Last week I visited a radio station in Boston. Evan and I pointed out that there was a really bad picture of me on the wall. The radio DJ said to me, "Oh, go ahead, take it down" So I did.
The next thing you know, everyone's bringing this up in my interviews, it's on the internet, and being printed that I went into a radio station all mad, tore up a picture on there wall, had a fit etc.. Can you say manipulation??? Somebody desperately wanted a story.
This is what people do. They manipulate, they make up stories by twisting things around, and try to make you look bad. This happens all the time and not just to me but other artists as well.
This is what we get?? Come on

Hmm. So you went to a radio station, and moaned that there was a shit picture of you on the wall. That seems to be the nub of the story to me - I'm not sure quite where the "manipulation" is here; maybe the story has grown slightly in the retelling but it's hardly, say, The Sun's coverage of Winston Sillcott, is it?

While we're on the subject of Ms Lavigne, her return has meant we've reopened our campaign to help her ensure that she doesn't get sold by getting her boobs, belly or butt out - because you know how Avril hates that sort of thing. We're guessing, therefore, that she hadn't realised in the video for her new single there's shots of her bouncing around on her bed in her nightclothes - I expect it was all some sort of oversight.

THE PIXIES RETURN: Kudos to the team for getting a report out so quickly... not so much kudos that it'll stop us cutting and pasting the set list:

'Bone Machine'
'Wave Of Mutilation'
'Levitate Me'
'Broken Face'
'Monkey Gone To Heaven'
'The Holiday Song'
'Nimrod's Son'
'La La Love You'
'Ed Is Dead'
'Here Comes Your Man'
'#13 Baby'
'Gouge Away'
'Isla de Encanta'
'Wave Of Mutilation (Surf)'
'Where Is My Mind?'
'Into The White'

LEFT OUT THE MAN, MOTHERFUCKERS: Wyne Kramer is less than pleased with the new MC5 film on the grounds that he'd taken part on the understanding that he'd get a producer credit, only to find his name won't be there to be ignored by the public. It's apparently really important to Wayne that when the film, A True Testimonial, gets shown on TV his contribution behind the scenes is acknowledged, albeit in a tiny screen shrunk and tilted to make room for a big 'coming next' box plugging the big movie. So important does he feel it that he's told his publisher to refuse to allow the MC5's music to be used in the film, thereby scuppering the producer's plans to release the film on May 4th.

DRIVE THAT FAST: New research, that old standby of a bank holiday week, suggests that driving while listening to loud, up-tempo music can be dangerous. A Canadian study has suggested that it can take a fifth as long to complete basic tasks if you've got the beats pumped up - at 95 decibels, reaction times plummet. (Good news, this, tied with the discovery that US troops are preparing for their 'only shoot the bad guys' missions by blaring out Stairway to Heaven).

I WANNA TAKE YOU TO A GUILD HALL: Electric Six have announced UK dates:
Middlesbrough Arena, (May 31)
Southampton, Guildhall (June 1)
Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall (2)
Reading, Hexagon Centre (3)
Exeter, Lemon Grove (4)
Donnington Download Festival (5)

MORE WOE FOR JACKO: (We've actually just built that headline into the template.) Another accusation of kiddie-fiddling, which Michael Jackson's people says he "expects to be proved false." Difference is, this time the accuser is an adult and is talking about events which happened - or are claimed to have happened - in the 1980s.

LET'S HOPE THE RIAA STICKS TO ITS GUNS: We're fascinated by this piece from yesterday's New York Times:

American troops arrive for duty in Iraq with a rifle in one hand, a wrench in the other and a lot of American pop culture in their rucksacks.
[...] At the Kirkush Military Training Base in the eastern Iraqi desert less than 15 miles from the frontier with Iran, an hour's wait for a helicopter was spent listening to Marilyn Manson, Eminem and Shania Twain before the Black Hawk fired up its turbines and somebody back in the barracks, as if on cue and with a dark sense of irony, cranked up Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
The songs came from a European satellite music channel and a communal computer where 12.8 gigabites of tunes had been downloaded for sharing on MP3's. The rule was simple: Take some music, add some music.
"Any time anybody on the team gets a new CD, they load it in, so we stay pretty current," said Sgt. Thomas R. Mena.

Now, we've been pretty damning of the RIAA's attempts to enforce the message that filesharing is bad, but we're almost prepared to accept they're serious about it if they send their people off to Iraq to stop this - why, it's almost as if the troops are stealing CDs, etc, etc...

MAN TO SWAP SINGING WITH BUNCH OF BOYS OVER SESSION MUSICIAN'S TRACKS FOR SINGING ON HIS OWN OVER SESSION MUSICIAN'S TRACKS?: The wonderfully thick Lee Ryan from Blue is thinking of going solo - apparently he's been "secretly" writing his own songs and wants to try striking out by himself. Which is quite a risk, as at the moment we don't think he could be trusted to go out and post a letter by himself. Ryan's solo material is "still very much R&B [or, we guess, Blue's pisspoor approximation thereof] but with more edge."

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

LAME EXCUSES FOR FAILING TO COMMIT, NUMBER 377: Johnny Depp would propose to Vanessa Paradis, really he would, but he... um, doesn't want her to have to change her surname to Depp. No, really. That's the best excuse he can come up with.

COLD WIND BLOWS THROUGH EMAP: Let's hope the thirty companies bidding for EMAP's Face pay well, as it seems the magazine section of the media company is suffering - two launches have been put on hold and the editor of Mixmag, Viv Craske, the editorial director of Mojo and Q and publishing director Madeline Ballantyne have all been made redundant. (Although we're not clear how you can make an editor redundant - which implies that the position is no loner tenable; surely the only way a magazine can exist without an editor is if it's just about to be closed?)

PEEL ON YOUR POD?: The BBC is making moves into MP3, trialling downloadable versions of this year's Reith Lectures in a take 'em and whack 'em form. If the experiment works, the broadcaster might move on to making more of its archives, including seventy thousand million billion session tracks (by The Fall alone) available for people to take away and do what they will with them. The usual riders are in place, of course, that it all depends on sorting out the copyright mess and so on, but even so: just being able to waltz off with the Archers on your Rio would be a start.

WE STILL WANT YOU: Despite having missed out on a chance to swallow Warner Music when Time Warner sold its labels off to amusing capitalist Edgar Bronfman, EMI executives are still spending time between sacking people dreaming of a merger with the American label. There'd be enormous problems to overcome, although since the biggest would involve culling a joint company's roster, EMI can at least demonstrate they're good at that.

THEY DON'T THINK THEY'LL STICK OUT THERE, THEN?: We'd probably have to suggest that 4AD is a bit of a natural home for TV On The Radio; they've signed themselves to a life of wispily designed sleeves and thirteen percent extra approval from boys called Damien with wispy beards, but only for the European side of things; back in the States, they'll remain on Touch and Go.

BET CHRIS EVANS WISHES HE'D THOUGHT OF THAT ONE: We wouldn't want to accuse Madonna of showboating her religion, nor to sniffily point out that she's apparently experienced more conversions than the calculator on the Bureau DeChange window on the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry, but if she's decided that it's forbidden under her current faith to play gigs on Friday, fair enough. Don't do it. But don't go round getting 'friends' to tell the press about it, which seems somewhat less than a pious observance, more an act of the show-off. We wonder if Kabbalah allows her to stick her name into Google News on a Friday, or if she has to get someone to do that for her?

BOM-BOM-BOM-BOM-ARRRRRGH: Paul McCartney has told an online chat at that he hopes his work with the Frog Chorus will absolve him of guilt for experimenting on frogs when he was a kid. Macca claims that he was cruel to frogs when a young boy to prepare himself for "when he'd be conscripted into the British Army." Yes, things were different back then, when Britain was at war with Atlantis. So, McCartney feels that helping some animated frogs to have a top ten hit will encourage real frogs to forgive him for the torture they endured at his hands. So far, he's not revealed what he intends to do to apologise to us for the torture we endured at the hands of the Frog Chorus.

I CAN FILL YOUR MOVE: Time was a Morrissey gig announcement would have had the whole country come to a standstill, gathered round the nearest wireless, breathless, waiting for the details. Now, though, he's just filling in his Hello Kitty Diary with such abandon even Sonya From Echobelly might find it hard to raise more than a "oh, yeah?" with another date being chalked up. Whatever, Mozzer is one of the headliners for this year's Move festival - the 'urban' festival, of course (not that Reading is that rural, is it? Ten minutes from the nearest supermarket and within yomping distance of a McDonalds. It's not bloody Wuthering Heights); this July, with other headliners including Madness and Ocean Colour Scene on the 8th - probably marked down as a dry run with a couple of bands it won't matter overmuch if the electrics are attached to the waterpipes by mistake; The Cure and Elbow on the 9th; the Pixies and The Stereophonics on the tenth, and then Mozzer on the 11th.

IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEONE LOSES AN EYE: Somehow, Matt Bellamy has managed to mangle his own face up using his guitar in the middle of a gig. During Muse's Atlanta show, five songs in he made contact between face and instrument, and reports a fan as saying that it looked like someone was pouring water down his face, only instead of water it was blood. And, presumably, instead of being cool and refreshing it was horrifying and made you feel slightly sick. Like Dasani, then. Whatever he did was so bad the band abandoned the gig, and have had to pull out of Philadelphia as well.

FOO TO PLAY NOT RIO: The almost willfully confusing Rock In Rio event that isn't in Rio has got a new headline act, with Foo Fighters replacing Guns N Roses. G'n'R, of course, say they can't play because of the departure of Buckethead, although years and years of self-abuse can't have helped, either.

MAYBE IT WASN'T INTIMIDATION... MAYBE THEY WERE JUST OFFERING TO HEAL HIS PAIN?: The Michael Jackson case continues to rumble on in a fashion which doesn't look good for him - now his splendidly named aides Tyson & Amen are to be questioned in court about alleged attempts to intimidate Jacko's accuser Gavin Arvizo. Shouldn't worry too much, Gav; the last kid to accuse Jackson of moonwalking down his pj bottoms was also (it's claimed) intimidated a bit, but when that didn't work they sent round cheques.

YOU'RE IN TUNE WITH MUSIC... BBC RADIO ONE?: So, Radio One decided to let its audience take over the station yesterday, cutting a great chunk of ten hours of airtime free from the playlist and allowing listeners to choose the tracks that got played. What the exercise shows is, given the choice, Radio One's audience doesn't want to hear the sort of things that Radio One usually plays. They've put the whole playlist online, but amongst the 'high'lights:

The Muppet Show Theme
I'm Still Standing - Elton john
9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
Trash - Suede
Love Will Tear us Apart - Joy Division
We All Stand Together - Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus
Money For Nothing - Dire Straits
I Could Be So Good For You - Dennis Waterman (the theme from Minder)
Played-a-live - Safri Duo
Running in the Family - Level 42
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
Living In A Box - Living In A Box
Living on A Prayer - Bon Jovi
Love Me Tender - Elvis Presley
Last Christmas - Wham
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Ace of Spades - Motorhead
Mmmbop - Hanson
Finally - CeCe Penis ton
Le Freak - Chic
Since You've Been Gone - Rainbow
Waiting For A Star To Fall - Boy Meets Girl
Mickey - Toni Basil
Size of A Cow - Wonderstuff
It's Raining Men - The Weather Girls
Theme from Jim'll Fix It (no indication of which version, but we're guessing it'll be the opening theme in some form rather than the "Now you've done it/Jim's fixed it for you" end credits edition)
Lets Get Ready to Rhumble - PJ and Duncan
In The Shadows - Rasmus
Making Your Mind Up - Bucks Fizz
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
Loco In Acapulco - Four Tops
We Built This City - Starship
Rock me Amadeus - Falco

Of course, there's some element of the stunt selection here - Falco and the Frog Chorus must surely be a bet, and someone did request Williams doing bloody Angels. And there were as many Busted tracks as Presley tracks. But even so - the things people wanted to hear were so different from what would have been wheeled out if the Radio One staff had programmed the day, you wonder if there's going to be a bit of navel gazing shellshock down at One FM today. Maybe they knew this all along, though: perhaps Mark and Lard were sacked not because they were too old and shy of the charts, but because they weren't old enough. Nicky Campbell for the breakfast show in '05?

Monday, April 12, 2004

THE COAST IS RE-CLEARED: Curve, who were the exact point on the scale where 'shoegaze' became 'goth', are about to reissue their eps as a single, easy to shoplift album. A 2CD set, it's going to pull together virtually all their early adventures, including the first three EPs Blindfold, Frozen and Cherry, along with the first album Doppelganger.

soccer six? No thanks.

Curve, of course, were regarded with a degree of suspiscion by indie purists because Toni Halliday had made records previously that hadn't required the application of mascara to listen to; their repuattion wasn't entirely boosted when they cancelled a gig because they couldn't fit their wind machine on the stage. This purism, of course, failed to notice they had a whole slew of slightly disturbed headfucky tunes and could have saved us from a world in which Oasis ruled, had we but noticed. Time to shake our heads and think what might have been.

GERI'S CAREER - SAVED: We're not exactly sure quite why it's crucial for her career that Geri halliwell's throat op hasn't left her unable to sing - indeed, we'd have thought that it might have helped her concentrate full-time on fucking halfwits to get in the Daily Mirror, writing dimwitted autobiographies about her dull life and sucking up to the Tories and the Palace if she stopped making an arse of herself in the recording studio - but nevertheless, that's how its being reported. In fact, so ropey was her voice beforehand she's genuinely discovered that she's a better singer now than she was before the op, which raises the tantalising prospect that if she had a spot of lobotomising, she might click a few points up the IQ scale as well.

Curiously, her press people describe the problems she had with her vocal chords as being a "result of her time with the Spice Girls." Not, then, the constant puking she indulged in, then?

THEY'RE LIKE BLOODY WARTHOGS IN A CAKE SHOP: We spend a lot of time portraying the people who run record companies as greedy idiots, and sometimes we wonder if we're not just falling back on a lazy parody. Then, of course, you hear the record companies are trying to increase the cost of downloading by as much as 250 per cent and you realise that "greedy idiots" just doesn't come close. Amongst the other ideas they're thinking of are forcing you to download shit, unwanted songs if you try to access chart hits, or having a price where tracks cost more if they're available before their albums. Not only is this going to wipe out the advantage of having a single, flat price for downloads, but it shows that the companies haven't twigged that although at the moment it's the single which is under pressure from downloads, it's ultimately the concept of the album that is dead: nobody is going to bother with a package of three singles, two so-so tunes, a cover and four filler tracks any more when they can just cherry-pick the best bits.
[Thanks to Adnan for the link, and the pointer to a response from iPod Lounge.]

HE'S THE CHAP, THEN: Further to our report on Coolio's little paddy when he was voted off the one last chance German TV talent show, Pierre's been in touch to prod our brains with who it was who bested him:

Am I to understand that you don't know what Caught in the act is (cfr your Coolio news) ? It is (was?) the Dutch boyband where Stephen Gately found his first outed boyfriend. Pretty shit but still, they made the front page of the Sun. :)

Now it all comes flooding back...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

WHELPING: It took them long enough, but the RIAA has finally got round to trying to rubbish the recent investigation which suggested that illegal downloading has no real effect on music sales. They wheeled out Amy Weiss, the "senior VP of communications" (quite a role in a little trade assocation, that) to blow the thing out the water. What have you got, Amy?

First, she dismisses it as "counter-intuitive" - in other words, it runs contrary to what the RIAA needs to believe. But a lot of people have been saying for a long time that downloading helps, not hinders, music sales, so it's not counterintuitive to what our gut instincts believe. Besides, even if it was - since when has a scientific study been without value because it doesn't prove an assumption? That's what science is for, isn't it?

Second, the report is "anomalous" because it doesn't agree with "five other studies of P2p activity." Now, we've spent some time poking about the RIAA website - it's actually online at the moment - and can't find any figures relating to this, so we're assuming that Weiss is talking about opinion poll type surveys, which aren't as rigorous as the sort of investigation undertaken by Oberholzer-Strumpf. (For example, the ludicrous BPI poll from a couple of weeks ago where a sliver-thin sample group, and a bunch of leading questions still produced "facts" that need to be spun more than buttermilk in a churn to try and help the BPi justify it's planned bullying of its customers.)

Then, there was this: "We look forward to what other academics will have to say about since it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a journal," Weiss writes. "We also look forward to understanding what the authors actually did in the study, since the text of the analysis is incomprehensible to the layman."

Um, Ms Weiss? It's a scientific article - you don't tend to write that in the sort of bright clunky language you get in, say, RIAA press releases. If you're having trouble understanding the words, why not ask the actual President of Communications to explain it to you? And if you really are too stupid to understand it, how can you claim its findings are counterintutive and anomalous? Either you're able to make out their case, or you're not. You can't say that something is rubbish if you don't even know what way to hold the pamphlet up.

But, seemingly, Weiss has managed to make out some of the shorter words:

The RIAA also says the study is skewed because the team used the fourth quarter of 2002 as a basis for its findings.
"It is not possible to examine record sales and downloading for 17 weeks and determine whether or not downloading has harmed sales over the last three years," Weiss writes.

Well, actually, you can - it's called sampling, and it's a fairly common process. The music industry uses it quite a lot when it's testing out its marketing campaigns, for example, or when it asks 1000 people about their habits with regard to downloading and then multiplies the results upwards to draw conclusions about the whole picture. I'm thinking, for example, of those surveys the RIAA released to "prove" that the first wave of lawsuits against customers had lead to a decrease in dowloading.

The study team says that a full explanation for the recent decline in record sales is "beyond the scope of this analysis," but then posits "several plausible" reasons, without providing statistical backup.
It suggests "poor macroeconomic conditions"; a reduced number of album releases; growing competition from other forms of entertainment; a reduction in music variety due to radio consolidation; the cost of independent promoter fees to gain airplay; "and possibly a consumer backlash against record industry tactics."

Not sure what this is meant to prove - they offer some possible explanations that would explain falling sales, but they're being rubbished because they don't "provide statistical backup"? But they're not setting out to explain the reasons for the fall in sales; they're explicitly investigating the effect of file sharing on the sale of music. To damn a study for not providing details about something outside its remit is at best stupid, and at worst very, very stupid.

Russ Crupnick, president of NPD Music, says several studies by his group, using multiple methodologies, have produced opposite conclusions.
"Everything we've looked at here sharply disagrees with the results" of the Oberholzer-Strumpf study, Crupnick says. A recent NPD study shows a 29% decline in units sold in 2003 due to P2P downloading.

NPD are basically a polling organisation. They might have used different "methodologies", but it mostly comes down to asking people questions. Comparing their methods with a proper scientific study is like putting a bloke holding his finger up in the wind with the Meterological Office. It's not to denigrate what NPD do, but they're an organisation designed to find information to sell to businesses. It's not surprising they find the sort of information that satisifies big businesses.

So, that's the best the RIAA has to offer - it's got big words in it, it doesn't agree with what we believe, it doesn't match what the pop science of market research says, it only covers 17 weeks. They don't, you'll notice, stand up and offer an equally rigorous set of data of their own. Because they're relying solely on their intuition. But by now, even Vice President of Communications must start to have their doubts that downloading is killing music.

DAMN, I WISH I WAS YOUR LAWYER: Extaordinary upon extraordinary. Sophie B Hawkins is still making records. Not only that, but she's got her own label. Despite that, someone somehow got hold of a copy before release date. If that sounds unlikely, they put it on Ebay, expecting a payday. If you can swallow that, can you believe someone made a bid of USD300? Sophie B-lieve it or not found out. And is now taking the guy to the small claims court to get back the cash he made from selling the CD, plus a further twenty four bucks from another two copies. But the strangest twist of all? If she wins, she's going to send the money back to the fans who bought the albums off Ebay because "three hundred bucks is a lot of money to my fans."

BLACKEN MY THUMB, SPLIT OPEN MY HEAD: Get well soons - and what the hell were you thinking? - to Dolf DeDatsun of the Datsuns, who managed to split his head open while making a video. The lamb fell over, down, and his head severed from its neck totally (this might not be true). But he did need to go to hospital, and to have stiches, and his mum to come and pick him up and everything.

EU FRUSTRATES BMG, SONY TIE-UP: Plans to have the BMG and Sony music units merged into one, even bigger, even more evil company by September have taken a kick in the guts. The European Conmission has decided the information presented by the two companies isn't in anything like enough detail, and have put their consideration of just how bad this will be for competition into freeze while they await more information. The Commission had originally set a date of June 22nd for their decision, but they're now going to be going on longer than planned - and then there's a similar investigation going on in the States as well. Even if they get a green light, they'll be lucky to be done by Christmas.

HE'LL BE SPENDING THE DAYS WATCHING SKIRMISH, A MILITARY-BASED QUIZ SHOW ON UK CONQUEST: Don't get us wrong, we like Norfolk, and have had some holidays there - the joy of the Broads, the mustard museum in Norwich; Bacton gas terminal. It's all very pleasant. Even so, we can't quite believe that David Gray has moved there; it seems almost to be a gift that the world's most boring pop star has chosen one of the least breathtaking parts of the whole of Europe in which to make a second home. We can only assume the house prices in Stevenage were a bit too racy for him.

AMERICA APPARENTLY RUNS OUT OF WOMEN: The staff at Maxim have drawn up another list of 'the 100 hottest women' and, somehow, have come to the conclusion that Jessica Simpson is the hottest star in the States right now. Jesus, even Avril Lavigne - currently reduced to plodding round shopping centres, like the scouts do when they pack your shopping (badly) for you in return for a (grudging) donation - even Avril has more star quality in her stupid tie than Simpson has in her Milky Way flipped head. They put Simpson ahead of Beyonce. These are people who have little more to do with their lives than draw up lists, you know. It's not like they had to squeeze coming up with 100 women in between a shift at the Frisco Burger drive-thru window and hitting the books for a history test. They don't spend the nights fighting evil. The maxim team are able to just sit down and spend a whole month thinking about the various merits of females of note in the continent, and even so - they put Jessica Simpson first.