Saturday, April 30, 2005


Apparently, the young Gwen Steffani approached the still-not-that young Sting and asked him for an autograph. Sting rebuffed her. Since that time, she's become famous and met Sting again, and when she reminded him of this meeting, his response was "Oh man, I was such a dick back then.". At the time of the first meeting, Gwen was - in her own words"fat and puberty-stricken"; nowadays, of course, she's a successful singer and considered to be attractive and sexy. It's clear how she's changed; we're not sure why Sting thinks he has.


In some sort of crazyheaded British pop merger madness, Tim Burgess played a solo set with Starsailor as his band. Part of the general musical milling about prior to Coachella, his Viper Room gig was apparently attended by Robbie Williams, who was probably picking up ideas. We expect him to announce a new image - pretty boy with decent songs - any day now.

He takes his shirt off in the Jesus Hairdo video, you know:

You know you want one...


There might have been a time when the singles chart meant something, but on both sides of the Atlantic anomalies demonstrate that they're hardly talking sense anymore. So, while it's astonishing that Coldplay have beaten the Beatle's record for the highest new entry in the US singles chart (Speed of Sound has gone in at 8; the only other UK single to debut top 10 was Hey Jude at ten), does that actually mean that Coldplay are better than the Beatles?

Still, if we were Chris Martin, we'd be phoning up Noel to ask him if he's seen the Billboard listings this week.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Bad news both for Britney Spears and, well, the world, generally. In some sort of survey paid for by AOL, American preteens decided that of all the celebrities, Jessica Simpson would be the coolest Mum, and Britney the least cool.

Presumably there's an allure in a parent who'd snap "You're not going out dressed like me, young lady."


Uh-oh: the only musical remnant of the Spice Girls project is in trouble: Mel C has had to pull more dates on her tour. She's suffering from a throat infection which is, apparently, getting worse. The venues decided to cancel rather than calling Mel B in to cover.


You might recall that last year the big labels were discovered overcharging consumers in the US for CDs (this stealing, of course, was in a country where CDs are cheaper than in Europe, especially in the UK), and that as part of the settlement, RIAA members were supposed to donate CDs to libraries and other noble institutions. You might also recall that the labels responded to what was effectively being given a slap on the wrist by abusing the system and dumping any old shit they had stinking the place up on the libraries receiving the first tranche of CDs. But having been caught out, they'd not carry on thumbing their nose at the people of the US, right?

Wrong. They've just delivered CDs to California and you can see they're still seeing this as an opportunity to dump slurry.

Sure, there's the odd grudging gift of something nice, but on the whole, the pdf documents are like a listing of the least sold records of the last ten years. So A K Smiley Public Library will find itself trying to loan out nine copies of the Atlantic 50th Anniversary album, and the same number of Samantha Mumba's place-stinker Gotta Tell You. Everyone's getting shedloads of ill-considered Christmas albums - the Alameda Public Libraries are to be gifted no less than forty-eight copies of Christmas with Yolanda Adams and forty-one Michael Crawford's Christmas Album. And so it goes on.

It's not clear if the major labels also sent empty soda cans and discarded tampons, but it wouldn't surprise us. They're meant to be being punished - instead they're just flytipping.


Okay, we're sure the Queen probably dumped her holding in Poptones ages ago, but anyway: Poptones is about to release a compilation:

And The Cassette Played Poptones
(not, actually, available on cassette). The surprising thing is that it's taken Alan McGee so long to get round to knocking a compy out - back in the Creation days he'd usually stick a couple of back catalogue collections while waiting for his teapot to warm every morning. But as he points out, it's been four years before this debut Poptones gathering:

It's remembering why we put out records and where we come from. This is the first Poptones compilation we have done. We are 4 years old. Just about to go to school in human terms. The music we have signed recently excites me a lot. I always sign what I am into musically I always have done. A joy and maybe a flaw but that's the way Poptones Records works. Poptones work with artists we like and admire rather than fit the media's idea of popular culture. Sometimes you doubt whether people even care then you hear The Paddingtons or The Others and you realise none of that matters. All you want out of it is that this music exists.'

There's a tour in support, too:
May 12 - Paris The Others, The Paddingtons, DJ Alan McGee
14 - Glasgow The Others, Boxer Rebellion, Kain, DJ Alan McGee
18 - London Death Disco, Notting Hill Arts Club DJ Alan McGee + Special Guests
20 - London Queen is Dead, Borderline -- DJ Alan McGee + Special Guests
31 - Berlin The Others, The Paddingtons, DJ Alan McGee

The Others in Berlin? Why does that strike us as very, very appropriate?


With most of the pro-Howard press splashing with the Attorney General's advice, The Sun does its best to try and take people's attention elsewhere to the two great distractions of the age: the stabbed mother and the Beckhams. The attempts by Victoria and David to try and prove whatever it is they think we care about have now got so desperate, Posh is trying to dress like she works for easyJet to stop us looking at the stories about her former nanny:

The Mirror, meanwhile, decides to stay with the nanny (and, in passing: we know the 'Blair plane nearly hit by thunderbolt' is meant to try and make him seem brave and strong, but doesn't it just give the impression that God is trying to get rid of him as well?):

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


What the seasoned Victoria and David watcher will note is that the Beckhams are responding to their former nanny selling tales of their marriage being in trouble to the News of the World by suing the nanny. For breach of contract. Rather than suing the NOTW for libel. (They're suing the NOTW for libel over the Rebecca Loos business, of course. It's interesting they're taking a different approach over this one.)


So it turns out that most people wouldn't buy a used car from George Michael - his online auction of his black Range Rover (registration J5 STUD) raised only GBP11,600 for charity.

The car on offer was the same one which George was driving when he went out on a date with Linda Evangelista, notoriously getting clamped in the process. George later admitted that he'd seen all the warning signs, chose to ignore them but wasn't really surprised when he wasn't able to get anywhere at the end of the night. Linda Evangelista apparently said the same thing about going on a date with George.

We think we need to keep on the record, though, the humble way George pitched a slightly wonky old car when he put it up on Ebay:

"This is a unique opportunity to own a car owned by one of the most talented singer/songwriters of modern times.

"It is without question a one-off, as this gentleman's vehicles never see the private ad columns and would normally be handed down to family or friends."

George Michael, of course, would never to be so tacky as to try to use the the small ads. He really does prefer to hand things off to people he's met face to face. Seems he's exactly the same when it comes to selling cars.


Here's some cheering news: the Black Eyed Peas are going to shut up after the next album. And that's coming out on June 7th, so it could all be over by the end of summer.

Something to look forward to for the autumn, then.

Oh... apparently they're all going to do solo stuff instead. Nuts.


Brian Harvey's people are rushing round to make it clear that he didn't attempt suicide; he was merely taken to hospital "by a worried friend" after he took "one or two" sleeping tablets. In fact, according to a spokesperson:

"I spoke to him this morning and he is finding the story of his supposed suicide attempt quite amusing."

So amusing, in fact, Harvey laughed all the way to a clinic.

"Reports of Brian attempting suicide are totally untrue.

"On Friday night, he was feeling depressed and his dad came round to see him.

"His dad gave him one or two sleeping tablets which knocked him out big time.

"Later that night, a friend went round to his house, saw him out cold and thought something was wrong, so took him to hospital."

Hmm... but if a friend comes round on Friday night and sees you looking groggy and so automatically assumes you must have topped yourself, it hardly is a sign that everything's alright, is it?

Apparently the clinic Harvey has gone to is the same one he attended for depression in 2004 before he went on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. Presumably because it was so successful that time round.

Buy one and cheer up a friend:

The Best Of... plus many other tracks


At this stage, it's only allegations, but two large US promoters are suing Universal for "forcing them to submit fake invoices". The companies - National Music Marketing and Majestic Promotions - say that when they refused, Universal told radio stations not to do business with them.

So far, Universal haven't responded to the claims of fraud, racketeering, trade libel and breach of contract; the promoters' lawyers, though, are being quite gabby:

"What [Universal] was doing was defrauding their artists - some of their biggest artists.

"I'm sure Nelly is not going to be too happy that they were taking money out of his promotion budget to pay for promotions for other artists - money that he had to pay back from his royalties."

We're sure it'll all turn out to be a terrible misunderstanding - after all, Universal is part of the RIAA, who constantly lecture us all on how downloading music is stealing from their artists. Unless... it couldn't be they don't want us to steal off their roster because it leaves less for them to plunder, could it?


While not minding too much that South Mendip Council has decided to allow an extra 3000 tickets for the Sunday at Flastonbury this year, we can't quite see the logic. Yes, they're being sold to locals, and they're being sold in aid of the tsunami charity, but surely either the site can take 115,000 people, or it can't? The fact that the extra thousands are donating their money to a fine charity doesn't mean they take any less space, arrive in any fewer vehicles - or does it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


She'll punch the next person who suggests "try, try again" - Caroline Marcil screwed up the Star Spangled Banner twice on Friday during a US-Canada hockey match in Montreal. But, pluckily, she set out to have one last try, and slipped over onto her ass. (Did we mention it was ice hockey?)

This time, she'd had enough and ran off in tears.

There was a happy ending, though, as Canadians don't really care about the US anthem anyway. Oh, and she went on Good Morning America to prove that she did know the words after all.


We're not really surprised that Mariah Carey has a wardrobe dedicated to underwear. It's not like she wears anything else, is it?

It's amusing that she's now given up all pretence of being a serious artist and has embraced her role as the softest of softcore porn star. Even the quotes she gives in interviews are starting to read like they're being liften verbatim from fanfic:

"I like lingerie that's lacy and normally white. But then I also love dressing up in pink lingerie - and black is hot too. I have everything laid out in colours so I can pick them out quickly. It's right off my bathroom so rather than going down to my main closet soaking wet, all dripping and nude, I decided to make a nice lingerie closet. That way I can jump out of my tub, run naked into the next room and put on a nice little number."

Later in the interview, she announced she was getting hot and asked if anyone minded if she removed her knickers and played with herself a little.


We don't know if she played her banjo through the birth, but Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks has given birth to twins.

First came a girl, Julianna Tex (yes, "Tex" - do you have something to say about that?) - six pounds 10; then a boy Henry Benjamin (pity it wasn't Arkana; that's what we'd have done) who weighed in at 6-14. Everyone's doing very well, apparently.


And the shockwaves from the Beckham Nanny's gabbing in the papers continue to... well, smear themselves over the front page, but really it's managed to be somewhat squibby: the tabloids have really overplayed this; banging on about the rotten state of the Posh and Dezza marriage for so long there isn't really anything about another bunch of claims to make even the worst celeb-whore raise anything more than a half interested eyebrow. Not that the tabs are that bothered:

Mind you, the Daily Star's taking no chances, shoring up the appeal of a Beckham splash with a picture of Tina O'Brien in a bikini and 20% off at CarpetRite.

- and even the Sun relegates David to a tiny corner of a page; upstaged by some gnomes. (Overseas readers might like to take the opportunity to enjoy the quality of election coverage in the UK). Actually, is it us, or has it been ages since the Sun last had four proper news stories (okay, stretching the definition, but items other than 'win a car'/'fhm pictures') on its front page?

But it's not all about the end of the Beckham marriage. The Mirror, indeed, suggests that it's stronger than ever:

And, of course, the Mirror has the biggest splash on Elton's wedding news...

... but oddly, the Independent also finds room on its front page for the news.

While we're on the papers, is there anything sinister in the way The Times chooses to advertise itself on the TV at the moment? Being (wrongly) convinced it's too posh for one of the standard newspaper ad front page mock-ups (where, for example, the Daily Mail will trail Free Seeds with a false front page 'FREE SEEDS FOR EVERY MAIL READER' rather than show a proper front page - 'BLACK MAN SPOTTED IN NICE NEIGHBOURHOOD - House Price Shocker' for example), the Times is using a real front page to push its giveaways. (It was once a paper of record, now it's a free ticket to see The Wedding Date). The story they've chosen? The one about the BPI suing its customers - "Internet Pirates Told To Pay Up' or words to that effect. Is Murdoch trying to subliminally help out his mates at the bigger record labels?


It's been a long, long wait, but we're finally about to get Ladytron's first major label album, and their first proper work since 2002. I mean, I know they were always going to see us in the future but we didn't think they meant that literally. There's still a little spot of hanging about, though - single Sugar comes on June 13th and the album Witching Hour follows August 29th.

We like Danny's hair.


Ladytron's Softcore Jukebox collection on Emperor Norton

Monday, April 25, 2005


We wonder how Billy Corgan copes, waking up every morning knowing that he's only here on Earth to provide a spare in case Bono is suddenly incapacitated. Reading his self-regarding interview in the Chicago Tribune almost gives you wish you could be spending your time listening to Bono: at least Bono has given us Sunday, Bloody Sunday. Corgan has offered us - well, opinion varies, but let's be honest: Smashing Pumpkins were no Drop Nineteens, were they? Not that Corgan would agree.

"What would my musical legacy be if I kept my mouth shut?"

Well, it'd be exactly the same if you keep banging on; the only difference with you talking about it is it saves a lot of people the effort of having to listen to Melon Headed and The Ongoing Sadsacks to start hating you and wanting to draw pee-pee and wee-wees on your poetry books.

"I'm a religious person, and when God decides to push me off a cliff, I don't want to think as I'm going over that I didn't try hard."

It's a pleasing image, isn't it? God and Corgan recreating the Janine and Barry moment from EastEnders. (Apparently, at the same time, God was giving an interview to the effect that when he pushes Billy Corgan off a cliff, he doesn't want to think as he's walking away that he didn't shove that hard).

"I'm just a realist," he says. "A kid e-mailed me last night because he appreciated the blog I was writing. He told me a story how he was at somebody's house when he was growing up, and a guy was showing off a shotgun and pointing it at another kid's head. The kid tried to brush it away, but the gun went off and the kid's head got blown off in front of his friends. That ended their childhood."

But the story doesn't end there. The e-mailer tells Corgan he isn't a Pumpkins fan, but that his late friend loved the Pumpkins' song "1979."

"A few years later, he heard `1979' and it reconnected him to that friend, it healed something in him,"

Now, we don't doubt the story - that's what music does; that's what music is for. What we find slightly distasteful is Corgan retelling the tale in an interview to push his latest projects. Nobody expects a rock star to be self-effacing, but there comes a point where, surely, people would stop and say "What do I hope to show about myself by talking about this?" But then, Corgan isn't just the centre of his universe; he's all it has to offer. For example, he was asked about how he goes about making his new record:

I had a mantra: "I just want it to be exciting." I already know how to make alternative guitar rock. So how do I make something new that's exciting? I looked at different periods of music, examined the transitional points where new things come in. The first reaction is, "What the hell is this?" The next reaction is, "Oh, that's kind of interesting." And the third reaction is, everybody wants to do it. Whether I've done that, I don't know. But I wanted to do something where people didn't instantly say, "Oh, that's great!" Because you're probably backdated already. The audience is not necessarily sophisticated enough to always be on the tipping point. And that's not their fault. That's why they pay you the big bucks. You're supposed to be on the tipping point. But new rock 'n' roll tells you to stay in the warm part of the circle, don't go too far out, make sure the choruses are loud, and the verses are mournful and down, i.e., what you used to do.

Now, we agree with him that there's a lot of rock now that does try and stay with what people know and expect, but even Corgan seems to realise he'd taken his superior attitude a little far with that "the audience is not necessarily sophisticated enough..." - but then makes it worse by suggesting, of course, that he is "on the tipping point."

And on the break-up of the Pumpkins?

I'm not in the Smashing Pumpkins right now, but for me it's an everyday thing, I'm still wrestling with that. Every day I think about, "Where's D'Arcy? Is she OK?" and [exasperated voice] "Frigging James [Iha]." Jimmy [Chamberlin] and I still talk twice a week. The bonds are still there. There is also a lot of [domestic] abuse in my past. Hostile, reactive, self-abusive behavior. People from the outside would look at me, and say, "What's his problem? Why's he such a jerk?" I feel if I tell the whole story, most people will understand why I did what I did. A child protects his parents from what they're doing to the child because he thinks he can fix the parents. It applies to families, bands, relationships. It's taken me 30 years to realize that doesn't work. Telling the truth will open me to criticism that I haven't been open to before. But it will release the black ball that has been sitting in my stomach.

Even when he's trying to admit he's been bad, he can't stop dressing it up. (not, of course, that he's ever just been an asshole... it's always been because of what's happened to him).


...indeed, we had a really nice sit down and a quiet drink at one of their gigs once. But that was so long ago. We can't really think of any reason at all why Turin Brakes would want to release a new single. Apparently it's going to be called Fishing For A Dream and there's to be a new album JackInABox. And they're doing a tour as well (Birmingham Academy June 9th; Glasgow Barrowlands 10th; Manchester Ritz 12th and the Shpeherds Bush Empire on the 13th). And it'll all be well done, and polite, and clean and friendly. But we can't see News 24 having to run a breaking news aston announcing the world of music has changed forever.


Normally, we'd be delighted to hear that someone has been arrested shortly after winning a TV talent show, but it seems a bit unfair on Hisham Abdel Rahman, winner of Star Academy. His crime? Not releasing pisspoor cover versions of 60s hits, not even muttering that he'd have made it without the contest. Oh, no. He's in trouble because men and women rushed forward to shake his hand and kiss him when he won:

Male and female fans had spotted Abdel Rahman, 24, strolling through Kingdom Tower Mall on Wednesday and rushed to shake his hand and bestow congratulatory kisses, a police official said.

Members of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the formal name for Saudi Arabia's religious police, doing their regular mall patrol were offended by the scene, which they deemed "improper," the policeman said on condition of anonymity.

The religious police tried to disperse the crowd and told Abdel Rahman to leave the mall, according to local newspaper accounts confirmed by the police official. The young star, however, reportedly refused and started squabbling with the enforcers of virtue.

Abdel Rahman was forcibly escorted out of the mall and taken to religious police offices for questioning. He was held briefly before a senior government official intervened and ordered him freed, the police officer said. The Arab News, an English-language Saudi daily, reported that the intervention was a telephone call from the office of Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman.

Excellent work, religious police. Without your sharp eyes, Saudi Arabia might be in danger of moving towards modernity.


Shar Jackson continues to not look at all obsessed with the woman her partner dumped her for, turning up at MTV News to pronounce herself "unsurprised" by Britney's pregnancy.

See, that's the sort of insight you can only get when you're as close to the couple as Shar is. The rest of the world - bar the few who read tabloids, own television sets or have ears - were totally staggered when Britney announced that, yes, all that time she'd spent banging on about turning into a mother, and hanging around in maternity wear shops was because she was pregnant.

Tomorrow: Shar Jackson: "You mark my words, Britney's going to look plumper quite soon"


How difficult is it going to be shopping for a wedding gift for Elton John and mypartnerdavidfurnish? Elton's already bought everything, ever, twice, and anything he hasn't bought yet is either rubbish or doesn't go with any of his curtains anywhere. Maybe we better play safe and get some book tokens or something? Or towels with "Elton's" and "Also Elton's, but David can use it" on? The reason for this speculation is that Elton and David are going to get wed, before Christmas and "probably in Windsor". We guess Windsor has been chosen for the numerous jokes involving the word "queen" that will be offered to the tabloids.


We're a little sad they aren't going to put the supreme court into Somerset House now; it had the perfect look for a serious court and we loved the idea they could continue to hold the regular music events there. Imagine the joy of Charles Clark storming out of a court after a judge has said "Yes, but shouldn't there be some sort of evidence?" and having to pick his way through a bunch of kids there to see the Mars Volta.

Anyway, it isn't going to happen, but (apparently) these are this year's Somerset House bands for July. As far as we know, only Bloc Party are totally confirmed:

05th - Beth Orton
06th - Doves
07th - Queens Of The Stone Age
08th - Super Furry Animals
09th - The Mars Volta
10th - Sigur Ros
11th - Bright Eyes
12th - Bloc Party


PC Pro magazine have carried out a huge survey into attitudes amongst legal downloaders - and its them the music industry should be worried about, rather than chasing the illegal downloaders. People who are trying to do the right thing are pissed off to discover they can't move their files, are tired of being told what to do with the tracks they've paid for, and think they're all overpriced anyway.

If the major labels want to make a success of legal downloading, it's dealing with their customers worries rather than pouring millions into vindictive legal campaigns that they need to concentrate on.


Both ends of the market are fascinated by the latest round of "Are David and Victoria Beckham splitting up?" The Sun, of course, is blatant about its fascination:

The Telegraph, on the other hand, trie to pretend it's merely worried about the privacy implications (understandable, given the paper's owners and their obsessive attempts to hide from any form of public view):

For the Star, though, it's all about the scrapping:


Interestingly, Bono has finally found a politician he doesn't wan't to keep cosying up to; he's attacked Canadian PM Paul Martin for not boosting foreign aid:

"We were looking for Canada to lead rather than be a laggard," [said Bono] adding that it felt like "business as usual".

"This is no time to just turn inward. I know there are problems here at home. But don't lose your focus, prime minister, on how history will remember this moment."

It's curious that Bono has never taken Bush to task for his failings to actually deliver his promises on, say, AIDS in Africa; nor did Bono seem able to think of anything but good to say about the recently deceased Pope. He surely wouldn't be kicking Canada to try and prove that he's not in awe of power (without upsetting anyone too much), would he?

Sunday, April 24, 2005


The Glasgow date on Kasabian's tour came to a rather blunt end on Friday night when Serge Pizzorno got hit by a bottle lobbed from the crowd. Pizzorno fell to the ground, and the band took what they said would be a "two minute break." reports:

After a heated five-minute wait which saw the crowd directing football chants in the direction of the culprit, however, a member of the production crew took the mic and informed everyone that the bottle had cut Pizzorno’s head, that he was in need of medical treatment, and that the gig was over, before chastising the bottle-thrower.

Eyewitnesses are divided as to the nature of the bottle which hit Serge; if Kasabian become one of the biggest bands on the planet, it's expected the number of eyewitnesses to the bottling will grown to several thousands.