Saturday, November 12, 2005


National anthems are touchy things, and it's a brave man or woman who takes on the duty of singing one before an international sporting event. It's almsot certain to blow up in your face, as you'll be accused of not being serious enough, or too beligerant, or simply not up to the job.

But you'd have thought that Donnie Munro, who during his time with Runrig was so nationalistic their singles sold south of Berwick were stamped as "Import" would have been on safe ground. But now, Member of the Scottish Parliament for West of Scotland Campbell Martin is calling for him to banned from ever doing the duties again after he apparently sang the "wrong" verses.

Apparently, Munro sings verse one and two, rather than the more traditional one and three (we don't know what sort of anthem it is where you pick and choose bits anyway - "we'll not send her victorious, but we will call for her to reign over us."):

Martin said last night: “I could not believe it when the scoreboard at Hampden displayed the words of verse two rather than verse three. Verse three, with the inspirational line referring to Scotland rising again, is the verse everyone sings, everyone except Munro.

“Verse two, which he sang, reflects on defeat and Scottish loss — hardly what the team or the fans want to hear immediately before a game.”

But there's more to this than just a bit of silliness over a sing-song before a kickabout. It's the still bleeding issue of the Act of Union we're talking about here:

the MSP said he had raised the matter with the SFA because he suspected Munro’s “British unionist prejudices” were being exerted on that body. “I understand Munro refuses to sing the verse that includes the line that Scotland can rise and be a nation again.

“If that really is the case, he is not the man to lead the Tartan Army in the singing of Flower of Scotland. The SFA should tell Donnie Munro his services are no longer required and, if I were him, I would be too ashamed to show my face at Hampden.”

Munro counterclaims he merely took an artistic decision, and the SFA say that funnily enough, Munro wasn't going to be singing again anyway. Carolyn Dobbin will be doing the duties at the Scotland team's next match.


We're delighted to hear that Christina Aguilera is ding her bit for the charity United Against Hunger, but more delighted still that IDontLikeYouInThatWay offers its take on her events:

Apparently her new album has some sort of 1920s theme to it, so that explains her choice in costumes ... well, not really. When I think 1920s, my first thought isn't an homage to the drag queens on stage doing Fosse, Fosse, Fosse in The Birdcage.

IDLYITW is lavishly, and in this case slightly alarmingly, illustrated.


We're sure the recent stillbirth of her own hagiographical musical about Lennon didn't influence Ono's decision to wave lawsuits at a rival musical. Ono has always been mean, so we're certain she'd have threatened Lennon: A Day In The Life with lawsuits anyway.

Winningly, pressure was also applied by Sony, taking time off from breaking people's computers in order to somehow force the producers to remove Lennon's name from the title. And cut all the dialogue. And take any pictures of Lennon from the publicity material. And the show. And pull a tour.

In effect, then, the show has gone from being a musical about Lennon into being, erm, some songs he wrote. Personally, since Ono will make money out of those songs, we'd have told her to go screw herself and just done a bunch of McCartney songs instead.


Back last January, Georgeann Walsh Ward issued a writ against Gene Simmons and Vh1 for apparently describing her as unchaste in a 2004 documentary,

Ward's case is based around the appearance of photos of her and Simmons while Gene bragged in voiceover that there were no women offlimits, and so on. Her lawyers insist the juztaposition gives the impression that she was "unchaste".

New York State Supreme Court Justice Rosalyn Richter let stand Ms Ward's two claims that she was depicted as unchaste or promiscuous during the documentary, even though she admitted she was in a "romantic" relationship with Mr Simmons.

The judge added that while social mores regarding sex between unmarried persons have changed, US law still says calling a woman unchaste is defamation.

When we covered this story at the start of the year, it generated a comment from an anonymous reader who got a bit overexcited and missed the point a little - yes, you could certainly argue that Simmons' attitudes towards women is little better than neandertahl, but that's not what is at issue here - the question is, does the appearance of the photo around the same time as that part of speech reflect on the character of the woman in the picture in any way? We'd say it doesn't - Simmons is clearly the dick here, and the only inference from ther photo is 'this woman is amongst those who shagged him' - something which Ward herself admits is true. If the picture had been accompanied by a voiceover saying "some women would shag anyone at all in a band", then that would have implied she had sex with a lot of men, and if you're the sort of person who feels that it's wrong for a woman to enjoy sex when she wants with whom she wants, then you might think less of her. But there is an important difference between "I have had sex with lots of people, and this person is one of them" and "I was one of the people who had sex with this person."

The release of Simmon's rock school on DVD might prove timely to help with legal costs


Fame is a crazy business - before you know it, a nomination for a Smash Hits award can see you running down the high street with a submachine gun firing at random into butchers shops. In order to stop fame being a problem for him, Will Young has hired a psychologist to help him cope with the pressures of fame.

Which is one way of doing it, Will, but if fame is such a problem for you, the cheaper option is to sack your publicist rather than hire a psychologist.


Train-operating company Pete Waterman has revealed that - and this may shock you - Pop Idol was fake. In a diatribe which will come as a shock to nobody, apart from Sharon Osbourne, Pete fumes:

"For me, after Pop Idol 2 finished, that was it. It's just television - it's not about music."

Which is quite sweet, really, like complaining that the agricultural elements of Emmerdale Farm don't really give any indication of what it's like running a dairy herd.

"I caught a glimpse of The X Factor and I just thought 's**t, I'm glad I'm not doing that', because everything I hated about that whole thing came back to me.

"I hated the fakeness of it all. The producers telling you you've got to put certain people through."

Goodness, all a fix, you say? However could that be?

It's the treatment of Michelle McManus, who won one of the series, that - well, let's not pretend it's keeping up awake at night, but shall we say troubles him?

"I think what we did to Michelle was appalling. We should have been taken off the air.

"She didn't have a great voice and she was grossly overweight. But we made her believe that she was talented enough to win, when she never was.

"That makes us guilty of lying to the public."

Pete, I don't think the Nolan committee are going to be resurrected to deal with this one: you were a talent show on ITV on Saturday teamtimes. You didn't take us into an unwinnable war on a bunch of lies and distortions about the possibility of weapons of mass destruction. Aside from anything else, everyone else on the show was rubbish, too. It's like the current season of Britain's Next Top Model, where even the host seems so devoid of model magic that she must be kicking her heels in the long gaps between Grattan catalogue shoots.

Besides, she might not have become a pop idol, but that's surely not what people who go on the programme are interested in - they want to be famous. And you surely can't get more famous than being able to publish a book about having a woman poke about in your shit and tell you you need to eat less pies? For it's true, next month we get Michelle McManus' You Are What You Eat diary. Wouldn't you love to give that as a gift, just to see people's faces?

In this book, Michelle records her time having her life bossed about for Channel 4's diet show, hosted by Gillian McKeith. (If you want to see what really lying to the public looks like, Pete, you might want to consider what it means to announce someone is a doctor, when really they just own a white coat and have done a correspondence course.)

Pete has other concerns, too. Like Charlotte Church not wearing appopriate clothing:

"Charlotte has an amazing voice, but have you seen her in a basque? Rachel Stevens can wear a basque. You expect to see her in one, looking sexy and singing a frivolous song. Charlotte Church you don't - it's not what she does. If you're going to do something completely different, by God, you've got to do it well."

But Pete, why should we listen to you when you've just told us you're quite happy to spout any old opinion just to keep people happy?

Friday, November 11, 2005


It seems the scramble to take down posters for 50 cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin wasn't fast enough. The posters - criticised for being a little too heavy on the 'rah rah guns are great' side of tactless - have been pulled, but the film itself has been pulled from Homestead, Pennsylvania cinemas following a shooting there. A man was murdered after seeing the film; he'd got into an argument in the toilets.

If some of the early reviews of the movie are to be believed, you might prefer to be shot before going in rather than after you come out - the film is already being slammed as "the worst hip-hop movie ever made."


Apparently the plans for Pharrell Williams' release schedule has slipped a little: the album In My Mind is now being sent back to December 12th.


One of Johnny Cash's children is fuming at the way her mother, Vivian Liberto Distin has been portrayed in Walk The Line:

Kathy Cash said the film's depiction of her mother, who died earlier this year, was "not true".

"My mom was basically a nonentity in the entire film except for the mad little psycho who hated his career," she said. "She loved his career and was proud of him until he started taking drugs and stopped coming home."

It's an interesting case, though, as John Carter Cash, son of Johnny's second marriage, admits the criticisms are valid:

"I'm compassionately understanding," he said. "The point of the film is my parents' love affair."

Likewise, Kathy doesn't let her dislike stop her from praising some of the performances. It's upsetment, but very balanced upset.


Raplord Beanie Sigel saw the inside of a jail cell yesterday, although not for very long. Sigel was banged up while somebody sorted out the sixteen grand in child support he owed two of the mothers of his children.

Despite having sold over a million records, and the cheap lifestyle option of being jailed, on remand, in rehab or under house arrest for much of the past year or so, Sigel reckons that he'd had trouble keeping up with the payments.


As a way of thanking her most insane fans (like the people who built the fansite for her dog), Mariah Carey has written messages to them on the walls of the set for her new video:

She said: "It'll be interesting to see if they can figure out what they mean. It's a sort of thank-you to my fans."

And here's an exclusive shot of Mariah preparing that video set:


Although we bet the disappointing truth is that he was too busy/too expensive/too far up his own arse to take part, the lack of Robbie Williams on the re-recorded Take That song Today I've Lost You is being played as a snub. Rather than a sane, welcome decision. Now, if they could start to digitally remove him from all the other Take That records...

You could stick the price sticker over him, too


You'd have thought that with everything else he's misplaced recently, a lost passport would have been the least of Pete Doherty's worries, but apparently he's going frantic because the missing document is all that stands between him, a tearful reunion with Kate Moss, and some of the good shit you can get if you send your people down to the right part of the Bronx.

The Sun's Victoria Newton has "launched an investigation" (in other words, they've stuck a policeman's helment on her byline photo and started calling her a DCI, even although CID don't actually wear helmets.) Amongst the "suspects" are, apparently, Jefferson Hack and Sadie Frost. It's worth noting the Sun are strong supporters of the police's demands to keep innocent people locked in cells for 90 days on untested suspiscion - if the paper is really able to convince itself that Hack or Frost are pinching Pete's passport, you can see how they've managed to get themselves into such a state of paranoia where they'd think that neccesary. In fact: what if Al-Qaeda have stolen Pete's passport? What if Osama Bin Laden is slipping into Primrose Hill right now, disguised as the Babyshambles singer?

Victoria apparently wants to hear your ideas and theories as to where the passport might have gone, and helpfully prints a phone number: 0207 782 4036. You might want to suggest that he lost it while he was off his cake on drugs.

Oh, and Pete? If you've got an urgent journey to make, you can get a replacement passport in a week. Unless Sadie Frost has stolen your phone, too.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


The first live virus which exploits Sony BMG's clumsy music disc workaround has been found on the internet. Sophos has announced it found Stinx-E trojan circulating in email messages.

Thanks, Sony.


The news that Paul McCartney is to have a set on board the International Space Station is slightly de-edged when you discover that it's only the music, and not his holiness himself, which is going into space. To make matters worse, he's playing Good Day Sunshine but then doing "something off me new album" for the two cosmonauts Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev this coming Saturday.

Which means it is true that Macca is having his songs beamed into space, but our understanding of radio waves means that anyone who's ever had a song on the radio or television has also had their songs beamed out into the galaxies, too. Even Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

Here's what Lord Paul had to say:

"I was extremely proud to find out that one of my songs was played for the crew of Discovery this summer. In our concert we hope to repay the favour," he said in a statement.

That doesn't make any sense, does it? Surely the repaying of that favour would be astronauts playing to McCartney - isn't the phrase he's after "repeat the stunt"?


The rushing about to come up with a Re-Genesis/Lazarus/Revelations joke have got more desperate in the newsroom of Britain, as Peter Gabriel indicates that he's prepared to pull the lawnmower back onto his and clamber together with his old school chums in Genesis.

Gabriel has hedged his bets a little:

"The odds are better now than before, we're going to have the conversation... I wouldn't put money on it, yet... When we got back together in 1982, I don't think we rehearsed. To really do it properly, we'd have to take more time. It's quite a commitment."

Peter, people who love Genesis will be so misty eyed at seeing you all standing together, they wouldn't notice if you were playing like Ivor the Engine. And the people who hate you will assume it's all a heartless and cynical attempt to squeeze some cash out the people who do love you and wouldn't notice if you sound like divinity itself. I shouldn't worry too much about the commitment.

However, if you could see your way to attacking Collins with a sock full of wet sand - that might be destiny.


kd lang is all set to take her former manager to court, accusing Annabel Lapp of helping herself to Lang's cash.

It's believed that if Lang hadn't had money embezzled away, she might have been able to fix the caps shift button on her PC. /veryoldjoke


It was inevitable, following the discovery that Sony-BMG CDs used virus-like root kits to conceal it's heavy-handed anti-piracy programs from the PC owners upon whose machines it was installed unrequested, that the law would become involved. And so now Sony-BMG are facing three lawsuits.

In California, Alan Himmelfarb is petitioning for a ban and damages for any Californians who've installed the stuff by mistake. That, potentially, could mean Sony-BMG having to pay for the removal of the malignant software - which, because it's hard to take it off without ruining the CD driver software on some PCs, could be enormously expensive.

Meanwhile, in New York Scott Kamber is getting together a class-action lawsuit. And the Electronic Freedom Foundation is also talking of action.

In Italy, the local digital rights lobby Electronic Frontiers Italy, is calling for a government investigation.

It's all starting to shape up to be expensive for Sony, if only in the costs of having to co-operate with all these investigations across the globe, and in the effects of the bad publicity. And has this stupid, stupid software actually saved them any single sale? It seems unlikely, and even if it has, compared to the millions the botched job of copy protetction is going to burn through for them, it certainly won't have been a profitable decision.

This is, remember, more than just a copyright story. Sony-BMG is a public company, which means its got investors who could include your pension fund, for example. And yet its got a board which is sanctioning this sort of costly mistake time and time again. These aren't just culturally blindsided decisons being made - they're astonishingly poor business decisions as well. A company which can wade itself into this sort of a mess probably isn't the place to be putting your life savings to work.

The company hasn't even had the good grace to make public a list of the albums which break PCs, but there is a partial list being pulled together by other people:

Trey Anastasio - Shine
Celine Dion - On ne Change Pas
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
Our Lady Peace - Healthy in Paranoid Times
Chris Botti - To Love Again
Van Zant - Get Right with the Man
Switchfoot - Nothing is Sound
The Coral - The Invisible Invasion
Acceptance - Phantoms
Susie Suh - Susie Suh
Amerie - Touch
Life of Agony - Broken Valley
Horace Silver Quintet - Silver's Blue
Gerry Mulligan - Jeru
Dexter Gordon - Manhattan Symphonie
The Bad Plus - Suspicious Activity
The Dead 60s - The Dead 60s
Dion - The Essential Dion
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
Ricky Martin - Life


Signs that Eminem is starting to lose control: he's recorded a song attacking Richard Gere.

Richard Gere.


Right back at the start of the year, U2 got themselves into a load of silly bother when people who'd paid a premium price just for a chance of buying tickets for a tour found the site couldn't cope.

Now, exactly the same thing has happened to Robbie Williams fans - who duly forked twenty five quid over to the gurning dancer drawn mainly by the promise of first dibs on new tour tickets, only to discover as soon as a tour was announced, their money was no good. The site fell over after ten minutes.

A post on the Portal Forum tracked the troubles faced by people who tried to buy:

I was ready at 9am, with my personal link to his ticket shop, ready to purchase the 4 tickets allowed per person. I was still at my PC queuing on the website at 11 am. I was still there at 1 pm. In fact I was still there at 3 pm!

By 5 past 9 this morning I knew we were in for trouble. I selected UK and proceeded to the queuing page. The page refreshed every 30 seconds and warned us that if we refreshed our browser ourselves, we would be put to the back of the queue. The page refreshed 3 times for me and then I got the dreaded message "page cannot be displayed". I started again clicking my personal link to the ticket shop.

Another time, I managed to queue for 2 hours, with 4 browser windows open and finally I got to the log in screen to purchase my tickets. It wouldn't accept my password!

I started again, and got right through to selecting my tickets. They informed us all venues were sold out. Another time, I got right through to the payment area and it timed out on me.

I started again! But they had closed the site :( We all got emails explaining the situation and were told they would be up and running again by 2.30pm. I got ready....I entered my wouldn't accept it. I started again!

By 3pm I got password worked, I bought my Wembley tickets and everything went smoothly.....but it had taken 6 hours.

These are people, remember, who've forked out a lot of money for the opportunity to buy these tickets - which would be just a breathtaking way of squeezing more cash out the credulous if the system worked. You could argue that Robbie Williams fans probably deserve all they get, but remember: they are people too.

Williams (and his people) must have known how many people had signed up for the "inner sanctum" (because he would have had a big sack of money) and he knew when the tickets were going on sale. There's no excuse for the infrastructure not being up to the job - especially since it seems there wasn't that much of a demand in the first place:

A spokesman for Robbie explained: "The system did get overloaded and crashed, but the problem's been fixed and there are still tickets on sale."

Well, yes, there may be - but you took a huge cash sum off punters in return for the promise they'd get special access to tickets. That clearly hasn't happpened. We expect to hear details of your repayment scheme soon.


For some reason, Victoria Newton thinks that a Charlotte Church cover of The Man With The Child In His Eyes will "raise hackles among Kate Bush devotees". Because...?

If anything, Kate Bush fans seem to take a pride in the range of covers generated from the Bush back catalogue - and it's not like Charlotte is Geri Halliwell...


Former Sunday Show co-host Peter Kay is being drafted in to try and restart the stalled career of Texas (although, clearly, these days Texas is Sharleen Spiteri and shadowy figures in the middle distance behind her). He's going to direct the video for the next single. Sharleen is excited:

“I have had a giant cheesy grin for weeks knowing Peter will do the video.

“We have been putting it together and he keeps phoning to tell me his mental ideas. He is such a talent. He said he wanted to do our video and we jumped at the chance.

“I can’t tell you all the gags because Peter will kill me but I can tell you there will be lots of snow.”

Sharleen, there hasn't been a pop video made since the Grange Hill Kids which hasn't had loads of snow.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


What's not disputed is that Kanye West did some recording with Eric Miller before he was 18. What is disputed is virtually everything that comes next. West filed a lawsuit against Miller and his Focus Music label back in August, claiming that he'd never given them permission to sell the work.

Now, Miller is counterclaiming ten million dollars worth of damages from West. He believes, clearly, that Kanye had passed the rights in the recordings over to him.

Somewhere, there's a bunch of judges drawing straws to see who gets lumbered with this one.


There can't really be any reason other than the Dogg-dog pun which has persuaded Snoop Dogg to launch his own range of hot dogs.

He may also start a small business selling magnifying glasses.


Madonna has been yakking away about her new movie (although, of course, as no distributor was interested, it's actually a TV Special now), and revealing the big idea:

“It sort of circles around three families: the family of the people I work with, the family that I live with and the family of man, the world that I live in.”

Madonna thinks she lives in the "family of man", then - although that's curious, seeing as she had the maps of Britain redrawn to keep us all off her land. It's also going to be interesting to see how she manages to stop herself from exploiting her children in the interests of pushing her career while showing her family off in a TV special.


The National Geographic - or "what preteens did for porn before the internet" - has hooked up with Nikki Sixx. Yes, that Nikki Six. He's going to take pictures of the "natural beauty of Thailand" for a forthcoming issue. Apparently, he's quite an accomplished photographer and this isn't a publicity stunt at all.


Apparently, Vanessa Carlton (or was it Michelle Branch) could only finish the New York Marathon by imagining burning down her house:

"I've never run beyond 18 miles so maybe I'll start thinking about burning down my house at mile 20 or, like, some violent thoughts... Physically, running is something that's really calming to me and kind of helps me get out of my old dark, funky moods."

If she's at her calmest when she's imagining torching her home, we really don't want to make her (or Michelle Branch) angry.

We can understand her position though - she imagines burning down her house as the only way she can get through her 26 miles; we find picturing ourselves torching her house is the only way we can get through when someone plays her One Thousand Miles.


It's not entirely news that Michael Jackson will probably never live again in the US - his lawyer had already said as much - but now his Dad (and Kevin Federline's business partner) Joe Jackson has confirmed the move, and it seems that some American's squeamish about a forty year old bloke having pyjama parties with strangers' kids in his bedroom is to blame:

"They didn't treat him right here. I know if I was him, I wouldn't come back," his father said

Apparently, Joe is keen to get his belt out and whoop the whole Jackson clan back into making music together:

However, the elder Jackson said he expects Michael to return to his music career — and hopes it would include a reunion with his brothers.

"I'm trying to motivate them to go ahead and do this record," he said of his other sons. "They want to do it, but they're too slow. They'd rather do it with Michael."

We bet they would - on past form it'd be Michael who got the brunt of the beatings when things went bad.


Channel 4 has had a bit of poll in a bid to determine what the greatest gig of all time ever was. It turns out that it was Queen at Live Aid - which, at least, there's a chance most of the 60 "experts" had actually seen, unlike the second place (Hendrix at Woodstock) and third (Sex Pistols at Manchester Free Trade Hall). Somehow, though, Oasis have made it into the list.


Steve Wallace might be licking his wounds today: his claims to have written Britney Spears' Sometimes have been thrown out of court. Wallace claims that he wrote the song back in 1990, but only had a poor mans coyright from that time - he'd sent the song to himself in a sealed envelope; he'd got a proper copyright on his song in 2003; unfortunately, Britney had already recorded the song and got her own copyright in 1999.


We're not even going to start to speculate how Justin Hawkins found out that the Australian Ebay site was flogging a pre-release copy of One Way Ticket To Hell... and Back, but as soon as he heard, he swung into action, and forced the price up to a point where he paid £350 for his own album:

"I've bought our own album back off this character who's selling it on eBay," the singer told the BBC News website. It cost me £350 and it's going to be a tenner when it's in the shops - with artwork.

It's encoded so we'll have a name and a number - so we'll know which disc it is, who distributed it and who they distributed it to. And that person is going to go down.

He is either going to get some sort of legal intervention or he certainly won't receive an album from our record company ever again."

We love the idea that "that person is going to go down" like he's a nark or summat and this is Cell Block H. We're unaware of the supposed encoding of pre-release discs ever being used to track someone before, so this should be an interesting test case.

Drummer Ed Graham added that the culprit "should really be sacked" if it is someone in the music business.

Lacking, perhaps, some sense of proportion here - but then he is a drummer, we guess.

The BPI is jumping on the story to refresh its banging on about Ebay being full of evils:

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which represents UK record labels, said the scale of counterfeit and unauthorised selling on eBay had got "out of hand".

"Time and again, we have seen eBay being abused by individuals seeking to make a quick profit on the back of our members' copyrights," a BPI spokesman said.

Of course, the real beef the music industry has with Ebay is the perfectly legitimate selling of second-hand records on the site. It suits the BPI to suggest that discs for sale on there might be in some way dodgy.


Idle moments over the last decade have been spent wondering "whatever happened to FMB:, the likeable but shambollically doomed indie band who brightened up Sunday afternoons in Channel 4's Next Big Thing fly-on-the-wall getting nowhere not especially fast.

Well, it turns out one of them has won £1.8 million on the lotto, and now Richard Griffiths from the band intends to bankroll a re-release of their first single:

"We tried hard but the music industry wasn't ready for us. We were one of the first acts launched on TV but we were just before our time."

Richard, the band flopped not because you came ten years before Will Young and other TV bands; you flopped because you came two years after Neds Atomic Dustbin and the other bands you sounded like.

"Now I'm a millionaire we are going to produce this great single. It is going to be massive."

But the other act in the series - Diana Ross' stepdaughter, if memory serves - was a millionaire (or being bankrolled by one) and she disappeared, too. It's not just about the money, Roger.


What do we learn from Liam Gallagher comparing Alex Kapranos to Richard Fairbass of Right Said Fred?

"I don't hate them [Franz Ferdinand]. I just don't like the music and I think he sounds like the guy out of Right Said Fred.

"And that's it. If that's what you call a slagging off, then fuck me. You don't want to know what I really fucking think of them."

This is the second time in a couple of weeks that Gallagher has attempted (with limited success) that his attacks aren't motivated by spite or jealousy, but merely based on musical differences. It's like he feels that age should be mellowing him, but it isn't.

Surprisingly, they had enough to make a double CD. Or so they thought.


Can't help feeling a little disappointed that Green Day have announced they're going to make a "Tommy-style" movie based around American Idiot - rejecting our script we sent them, in which Billie-Joe would have played a rubberwear model who gets caught up in a honey-smearing scandal, and the other two appeared as the voices of talking dogs. But we're sure they know best.

We do love this strange little piece of attention to detail from The Sun's report on the plans:

American Idiot, which features a fist holding a heart-shaped grenade on the cover, tells the story of Jesus Of Suburbia.

We do look forward to lots more descriptions of album covers padding out articles in the future.


Even with the cost of constantly having to reprint his business cards every couple of months, it seems P Diddy has still got more money than sense: he's just spent £200,000 tarting up the inside of his van. Most blokes find they only need to stick a mattress in the back and keep the heater on, you know, Sean.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


If you have tears, prepare to shed them for Bob Geldof - for he is sad and downcast. He really just wants to make a living from music, see.

Instead, he has to scrape together the tens of thousands where he can - sitting on boards of media companies here, doing lucrative after-dinner speeches there; producing coffee-table books of picturesque Africans instead of making CDs. It must be terrible for the poor lamb.

“I would dearly love to be able to make a living out of music, but I can’t. It doesn’t make me sad or anything. Also if I just did music it wouldn’t occupy me enough, that’s the truth. Even though I find it without question the only thing I truly enjoy doing.”

Well... here's a thought: why not stop running media companies and driving to after dinner speech engagements and make music?

On a related point: we can't help noticing the poster campaign and the TV ad campaign for the Live8 DVD doesn't mention Make Poverty History at all - surely if the idea was to raise awareness, all this media buying should be used just a little to put a message (other than "Buy this DVD and help EMI") across? It seems a little bit like an opportunity wasted, and at worst an exploitation of the few artists who went into the event in order to try and raise awareness that all these prime poster sites and TV slots are being used for nothing other than flogging some music.


R Kelly throws his legal weight around a lot for a man still under investigation for making kiddie porn; he's now filed papers that go back to that time he got pepper-sprayed while on tour with Jay Z. Because he reckons Jay-Z sent the bloke who did it to, erm, do it.


Has Gennaro Castaldo quit? Has he fallen ill, with bird flu or shingles? Has he taken a holiday, like lesser men? The world of Gennaro Castaldo watchers are shocked to discover, in BBC News' report on the Kate Bush versus Il Divo chart battle, that HMV have sent someone other than Gennaro Castaldo to state the bleeding obvious:

"It's not surprising that their new album looks set to get off to a chart-topping start," said HMV's head of music Phil Penman.

"Despite 'crossing-over' from a classical background, I suspect they'll be taking on the likes of Eminem, Madonna and Robbie to be the biggest-selling artists of the Christmas period."

Despite "a massive day one rush" on Monday, HMV did not expect Bush's album sales to exceed those of Il Divo.

Nevertheless Mr Penman said: "I can see this album becoming yet another classic, which, despite being a double-CD, will sell consistently well in the coming weeks."

Nevermind the empty statements, what has happened to Gennaro, Penman? What have you done with our hero? If we're going to be told stuff that we could work out for ourselves, we want to be told it by Gennaro, not you, you Phil-come-lately.


Aw, poor old 50 Cent has trouble even pretending to have sex. He was all uncomfortable filming the sex scenes for Get Rich or Die Tryin':

"I got comfortable working on the other scenes, then when we got to the love scene, it was a little different.

"It's almost like being in a room naked with a bunch of people around you. In that case, it was 34 people on the set, it was tough."

Clearly, then, there was one thought: "34 people... I bet one of them spots my tiny pee-pee..."


Frustrating news for Vanessa Carlton - people still can't tell the difference between her and Michelle Branch. Or is it the other way round?

When paparazzi at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards shouted "Michelle! Michelle!" as Carlton was getting out of her Toyota Prius to walk the red carpet, "she got p-d and said, 'I am NOT Michelle Branch,' and turned around," says a Lowdown spy. "Her escort said something to calm her down, so she turned back around and flipped the paparazzi the bird with both hands!" Yesterday, Carlton's rep dismissed the story as a "fabrication."

This means there's a photographer somewhere who's convinced Michelle Branch has flipped him off.


We know there's rumours circulating that nobody in the US wants to be part of the celebrity turn-out for the Madonna album launch, but can the situation be so bad in the UK that she'shaving to restrict to herself to playing a gig at the Camden Palace next week?


That's the way to do it: while Madonna spends every waking moment removing her trousers and marching about in the interests of her new album, Britney Spears has got within two weeks of releasing a new-ish collection without anyone knowing a thing about it.

Sure, it's a remix album, and it has only one new track on it, but even so: for someone with such a profile to do this sort of thing without anybody spotting what she's up to is quite a coup. Of course, it was probably an idea dreamed up by a chap with a flipchart - "the marketing campaign will be the lack of a marketing campaign", and we're being suckered into seeing restraint where, in fact, it's all meticulous planning.


We're feeling ever more relieved that we're not paying council tax in Liverpool any more, as the bloke in charge of the City's resources Phil Halsall has reacted to criticism of the Summer Pops crashing through losses of a third of a million quid has been to snort derisively and telling the council to get its wallets out:

"Without being too harsh, if the council has problems spending £300,000 attracting some of the biggest names to Liverpool, the Capital of Culture is going to be a real shock for you," Mr Halsall told the [tourism select] committee.

He told the council's culture and tourism select committee at a stormy meeting that in Capital of Culture Year the city would be spending between £15m and £20m on events.

The Summer Pops - where old pop stars are paid fantastic sums to play in a tent by the river - has apparently, quietly, consumed nearly two million quids worth of public money in the last four years.


How can it be that it's taken until 2005 before we have a asteroid named after a Transvestite Bulgarian folk singer? Azis, in this case.


If Nicky Campbell ever decides to step down as consumer champion, his fellow countryman Rod Stewart could happily step into his shoes, as Rod's Which? Magazine style report on cocaine shows:

"I don't know why anyone would want to take coke now," says Rod, almost wistfully.

"It was different in my days because it was all so much purer. Now these dealers mix it with salt, washing-up powder, anything they can get their hands on. Kids just don't know what they're taking.

"It used to be a great novelty. Now it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry can get their hands on it because it's become so widespread. Every day I read in the papers and hear about so many people whose lives are ruined by drugs - cocaine, ecstasy, the lot.

"Just the other day I discovered that someone who used to come round to our house regularly, a friend of the kids, had died. We thought he had got himself straight, but he had a couple of beers, took ecstasy and that's him dead. Makes you think."

It does make you think. Think "so is the problem that coke's too common and every oik is doing it? Or that it's not very good quality these days? Or that it's dangerous?"

We're not sure if Rod really believes that ecstasy mixed with beer kills you, either.

The best thing about this, though, is it's clear that Rod views cocaine as being a bit like the South of France - it used to be great until the prices came down and it got really busy. There's a huge market for someone who invents a new, expensive drug for the sort of people who holiday in the bahamas.


Good god, we should have worked harder to keep Blue together - as if it wasn't bad enough having Lee Ryan and Duncan James all over the place, Simon Webbe is now pushing himself, fretting his single (his second, apparently) is going to struggle this week because it's on sale at the same time as Madonna's.

Simon, your single is going to struggle because its on sale at the same time as butter toffees and baked beans.

"The single has just come out and normally I'm good at channelling all the negative vibes, but the first one did so well and I do really want to top that."

And you have, Simon - people have actually heard about this one.

But it's not just music. Oh no, he's doing acting as well:

He recently achieved high critical acclaim for his part as a hip hop artist in the new film Rolling With The Nines, which won Best Feature at the Raindance awards.

He describes the movie, released here in February, as being like Brit flick Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, but "without the jokes".

There were jokes in Lock, Stock? Whatever, it's heartening to hear that there is no end in sight to the churning production line of unlikeable gangster movies. Not that Simon is always going to restrict himself to playing, erm, himself:

"I wouldn't fancy myself as the new Bond," he joked. "Who knows, maybe in years to come? I'm an actor and acting is acting, so never say never."

That was almost so meaningless as to be meaningful.

Back to the music, though: there's an album to come next week:

"There are no album fillers on it. If you want an hour to yourself, it's perfect for chilling out to. Trust me, it will do the job."

Hang about... if you want an hour without anyone else around, it'll do that? So it's the sort of record you put on when you want to clear a room, then?


We're not sure how it's happened, but Robbie's gone and upset those who communicate with those who have passed. No, not Howard Donald's manager, the television psychics. Robbie has apparently been calling Derek Acorah a fraud after Derek "spoke" with Robbie's old gran.

Of course, Robbie doesn't really understand what goes on between the dead and the psychics in a seance, but then he doesn't really understand what goes on between a man and a woman in a bedroom, but it's never stopped him expressing an opinion. Acorah's mate Angus Purden, however, has decided to step in and defend the honour of the bloke whose TV show he presents:

"I heard that originally Robbie was very impressed by Derek. The thing is it's easier not to believe than to believe. "I admit I was sceptical before I did the show. But Derek's levels of accuracy are just really fascinating."

Angus is right - it is easier to not believe. In the same way that it's easier to believe that cheese doesn't talk, water isn't made from glue and sequins and Hilaire Belloc is dead. It must be alarming, though, for someone to realise their schtick is so ropey even Williams can see through it.

Good god, we're agreeing with Robbie Williams on something. We feel so dirty.


In another step towards the total domination of everything by computer games, Electronic Arts has announced that the theme from Medal of Honor is going to be made avaialble on iTunes. There is even, god help us, talk of a music video.

With Apple promoting the new video aspect of its iPods and iTunes service, it seems natural to wonder if EA would expand its deal and release the material as music videos. "I think it's a great idea," [EA Head os music Steve] Schnur said. "I don't see why we wouldn't take advantage of iTunes and their latest initiative and create little mini-movies." He said he could picture game footage being married to game music, with the EA music videos being released through the likes of iTunes or even for cell phones.

Hang about... wouldn't that mean you'd effectively be watching someone else play a videogame for four or five minutes? It's the luxury of being down the arcade, without any cash, wherever you are.


We're fascinated to hear that The Corrs have picked up "honorary" MBEs for their contribution to something or other - yes, even the bloke. We can only presume that the queen heard so many people saying that it was time the Corrs got what they bloody deserved and misunderstood.

The whole thing, apparently, is a puzzle, according to Sharon Corr:

"It is very surprising. When we were called we were given no hint what the call was about."

What does that mean? Did they get a call from the palace which went "well, you know, how would you feel about ahem ahem?" Were they just told to turn up at the amabassador's residence "and wear something smart, but we can't tell you why"?

Monday, November 07, 2005


Another pyrrhic victory won today by the RIAA, as Grokster announces its plans to close its peer to peer network and pay fifty million dollars it probably doesn't have to the entertainment industry; it's Grokster's first step toward launching a legal service. The Grokster site suggests it's rather surprised at its own actions:

The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal. Copying copyrighted motion picture and music files using unauthorized peer-to-peer services is illegal and is prosecuted by copyright owners.

There are legal services for downloading music and movies.
This service is not one of them.

You know how it is: you wake up, and suddenly realise everything you believe in is wrong. Then you grow a beard and try to go legit.

Mitch Bainwol is thrilled:

"This settlement brings to a close an incredibly significant chapter in the story of digital music," said Mitch Bainwol, chairman/CEO of the RIAA. "This is a chapter that ends on a high note for the recording industry, the tech community and music fans and consumers everywhere. At the end of the day, this is about our ability to invest in new music. An online marketplace populated by legitimate services allows us to do just that."

We're not sure why he thinks is the close of any particular chapter - it's more like someone's gone back and added a fullstop to a sentence that had run out of steam some time ago. But if it makes him happy, then let's not spoil his moment of joy by asking "so, what are you planning to do about bittorrent, Mitch?"


During Stevie Wonder's 5pm press conference this afternoon, he was bubbling over with love. Wonder loves Jay-Z and Beyonce. He was honoured to be at Live 8.

He also claimed to like Maroon 5 and Train, which finally disproves the popularly held belief that blind people have more acute hearing than sighted people.


A little piece of Elvis history disappeared this weekend, with the exploding end of the Memphis Baptist Memorial Hospital. The hospital provided a bed for Elvis on a regular basis in his later years, and after he died on his own toilet, it was to the Baptist Memorial that his corpse was hauled for the final confirmation that Elvis had left the building once and for all. We're not sure we can explain this bit, though:

Loudspeakers blared Presley's All Shook Up as some loyal fans shed tears and others lounged on lawn chairs yesterday, sipping champagne mimosas and bloody marys.

(That was while the hospital was being blown up, not while Elvis was being prodded for vital signs.)


Well, at least nobody can call him for playing with other people's kids this time - Michael Jackson is supposedly making a record with children. His own children.

Oh, good.

No word yet on where the Katrina benefit record is at, mind. Still, at least his kids can't refuse to take part in a recording session with him. Although they might whine a bit.


The surprise, really, isn't in drummer Steve Gorman leaving the Black Crowes; more that there is a still a band for him to quit.


It's impossible to watch the ongoing life of Ashlee Simpson without a slight sense of awe - does she really plan her actions, or is it all spontaneous? Her latest bit of action has been to behave like a spoiled child in a McDonalds:

Footage of her outburst — caught on camera and video at 1.30am on Wednesday, November 2 — is sure to cause her fresh embarrassment in the wake of her recent humiliating lip-syncing scandal.

The blonde-haired star could barely stand up as she repeatedly demanded to see the manager of the restaurant in downtown Toronto, Canada.

As she pathetically clambered onto the counter she shouted: "Oh please get the manager, I would love to talk to the manager."

When a McDonald's employee asked Simpson to stop sitting on the service counter, the singer called her a "bitch" while her male companion tried to calm her down.

Her male friend tried to diffuse the potentially explosive situation and said: "She's okay, it's cool…don't worry."

Simpson then said: "I promise your manager will be nice to me."

The employee replied: "I don't think so."

"I bet you he will," she replied. "I bet you five million dollars!"

Before she could lip-synch her teeth into some French fries she had ordered, Simpson was also heard telling a customer "fuck you".

Presumably, though, it'll all turn out to be the drummer's fault, won't it?


A couple of weeks back, you'll probably recall a small spat between Jon Bon Jovi and Madonna. Jon pointed out how Madonna was happy to drag her kids around - he suggested she took them to film premieres, but was clearly suggesting that she was happy to trot them out whenever there was a business advantage. (We've not forgotten the kids book launch, for example.)

However, Madonna's publicist was outraged on Madonna's behalf:

Liz Rosenberg says: "Madonna has never brought her children to a film premiere. I'm delighted to hear what an authority Mr Bon Jovi is on Madonna's talents as a mother."

Odd, then... who is this turning up at last night's Harry Potter premiere?

Image hosted by

Why, yes, it's Madonna not bringing Lourdes to a film premiere. Presumably that's an animatronic child she's got there?

No, it couldn't possibly be Lourdes, could it? Because with a parent as strict as Madonna, it'd be unlikely she'd be taking a nine year-old kid to see a movie with a 12 rating, would she?


The troubled tale of a controversial tshirt: Rapper Young Jeezy produced a snowman t-shirt for his team to wear; they've quickly become (apparently) a shorthand way of advertising coke dealers. Now, anti-drugs bodies are freaking over the thought that kids might be wearing a tshirt which has some sort of drug connection:

"This is part of a phenomena in which parents have no idea what their children are exposed to. There is a code that children are aware of but not parents," says Sue Rusche, president and CEO of the anti-drug group National Families In Action.

Because wearing a tshirt is, of course, the same as taking drugs. We'd better find out if David Cameron has got one in his wardrobe.


In yesterday's pop papers, we touched on how the vibrant music culture of Liverpool was being literally pushed out by property development off the back of the City of Culture win which, of course, was built on that selfsame culture.

It turns out things are worse than we thought, as one of major beacons of Merseyside creativity, the Parr Street Studios, are being threatened with closure. The studios - where, amongst other albums, Coldplay's Parachutes, X and Y, and A Rush of Blood To The Head were recorded - are facing the axe because the landlords want to turn the buildings into expensive flats.

Who are the landlords? Hit and Run. Who they? Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks. Yes, Genesis are threatening to throw the only decent studio in central Liverpool out of business, along with the management, design and other companies that have found a home in the complex.

Among the other businesses based at the Parr Street site is Porcupine Music, a management company which looks after legendary Liverpool band Echo and the Bunnymen, among others.

Company director Peter Byrne said: "It would be disastrous coming up to Capital to Culture if there were no studios of this standard in the city.

"This is a genuine piece of Liverpool history here. People are really angry but how can we tell the people who own the building what to do with it."

Well, for a start, the council could make it clear to Collins and his chums that there's no way they will ever be allowed to build flats on the site. Perhaps the council could do something to take control of the building? After all, they're happy enough to slap compulsary purchase orders onto buildings when its making their friend the Duke of Westminster happy - perhaps its time they did something for the people who actually live and work in the city?

[Thanks to John D for the link]


Good lord, that's all we need: Phil Collins is saying he wouldn't rule out a Genesis reunion. Even with Peter Gabriel:

"I'm open for it," said Collins, 54, "I'm happy to sit behind the drums and let Peter (Gabriel) be the singer. If (a reunion) happens, I'll be there. If it doesn't happen ... it would just be because there are too many things in the way," Collins told reporters in Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv? Oh, yes, Collins is playing in Israel. But he's aware that - as the first major Western star to play there since the intifada - he needs to make some comment about the conflict:

"I wish it wasn't like this," Collins said of the conflict. "I sit and watch stuff on the television, I think, 'Why, why, why.'"

Funnily enough, we sit and watch Phil on the television and think much the same thoughts.


Only a little, mind: the disaster-area country singer had been looking at criminal charges over something to do with a stolen pick-up truck in Arizona: now, those charges have been dropped by the prosecutor. We imagine Arizona were worried she might be a bit of a high-maintanence jailbird.

POPOBIT: Mana 'China' Nishiura

DMBQ and Shonen Knife live drummer Mana "China" Nishiura has died after a three-car pile-up in Delaware. The other members were also injured.

Originally intending to become a guitarist, China claims she became a drummer instead due to financial constraints (she could just about afford drumsticks when she started out). Inspired by Moe Tucker and Yo La Tengo's Georgia Gubley, China wasn't exclusive about whose stool she would sit on. Besides her work for DMBQ and Shonen Knife, who she joined in 2001, she was also playing for Rashinban, Jesus Fever, Teem, Music Start Against Young Assault and Cel.

The other members of DMBQ have been, or are expected to be, released shortly. Michelle Cable, the Panache Magazine journalist who was tour-managing, was also injured in the accident and is expected to be detained in hosptal while she recovers from head surgery.


Come February 2006, we'll find out if all those emails and petitions and marches pleading with Bobby Gillespie to return to the days of Sonic Flower Groove have had any effect: Primal Scream return with a new album.

We're not expecting very much indiejangle, to be honest.


Everyone's favourite tail-wearing pervpopster Alison Goldfrapp has launched one of the more amusing attacks on Madonna of the last few weeks - and, we suspect, Alison's jibe that Madonna is a musical sheep will probably sting much more than Sharon Osbourne describing her as a whore:

"She's always got her eye on what everyone's doing and she's always nabbing people, the latest DJ or whatever, to get them to put their thing on her thing, you know. I think it's quite clever, but I don't know if that's creative."

Meanwhile, Madonna is getting her ladypants in a twist because all her label's attempts to secure the new album (watermarking every prerelease copy, only letting people listen to it inside the record company offices, ensuring that only Vicki "brilliant" Newton reviewed it in advance, making it horrible) came to nothing.

Newton is, herself, first with the news:

But last night I was contacted by Madonna fans who had ILLEGALLY downloaded the album for free.

Yes, Vicki - it's been online for about a fortnight, dear. What Vicki - and more importantly Madonna - don't seem to understand is that nobody is much interested in the record; this time next week it's going to be all over the filesharing networks anyway. All the extra security for pre-release copies does is create a challenge for people to find a workaround. In effect, unless you can guarantee your security is watertight - and you can't - you're just pissing money away.

Besides, Maddy - you might want to worry less about people ripping your CDs, and try and find whoever it is who stole your skirt:


There seems to be some puzzlement why Coca-Cola spokesperson Jack White announced that, for the duration of the band's UK tour, he wants to be known as Three Quid. Much as we'd like to think it was as in "bent as a three quid note", it does seem to be a rather mild joke at Fifty Cent's expense. Although we doubt 50 will be sobbing into his pillow at the jibe.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Annie Lennox is equally grumpy when it comes to this modern music - she doesn't like the X-Factor, which is "just Tescos" and isn't fond of anyone else, much:

Eurythmics star Annie Lennox has criticised the state of today's pop music, saying many acts are like sheep.

She said: "What concerns me is that people follow like sheep ... that's the dross.

Yeah... bands who have little more about them than a pretty singer, some styled clothes, and a cheapy cover version to cash in as quickly as possible? Remind us, Annie, what was the song that gave you the break in music? Would it have been a cover of I Only Want To Be With You?


Roger Daltrey has had a bit of a Sharon Osbourne in all directions during the launch for a new Who DVD - even indulging in a spot of the fashionable sport of tutting over Pete Doherty's antics:

"It's a waste of a life really - because he's got talent. He seems to be feeding off it - now he's become infamous for his drug addiction he seems to think: 'That's what I do so I've got to do it.' It's very sad."

Perhaps Pete just hopes he dies before, you know...

Roger isn't that fond of Heather Mills, either:

"She was at Live 8 with a camera...scary.

"I looked down the barrel and saw her face - and I thought: 'This is the coldest human being I have met in my whole life.'

Roger, remember, played John McVicar in a movie once, so he knows cold fish when he sees them.

Mind you, he doesn't think much to her husband, either:

Roger and Macca have known each other for four decades, but Roger does not believe he has ever really known the real Sir Paul.

He said: "Paul acts like what is expected of him. I find it very strange - but it's how he deals with his life. Everything, though, becomes The Paul McCartney Show."

Although marrying the coldest person in humanity, presumably, wouldn't have been in the script, would it?


We're contacted by Karl T to bring the forthcoming Limp Bizkit best of to our attention. Fred Durst isn't happy about it:

Although he was hardly short for words and completely candid, Durst said he was only talking because his record label was making him promote Limp's new Greatest Hitz, a compilation he's not too excited about.

"A lot of times that throws the wrong signal out there," Durst explained. "That's sometimes a cash-in time for any artist out there, and they always come out at Christmas. So I don't think any of us were ready for a greatest-hits record at this time, but it is what it is."

As Karl points out:

Er, that would be a greatest hits album released on
Interscope, would it? The Interscope that has a company director called Fred Durst? You'd think he might have had some sort of say in it, wouldn't you?

Ah, but we imagine that having insisted on the excerable "flashmob" campaign for The Unquestionable Truth, and the resulting poor sales, he may have lost any credit he had built up in the boardroom.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Kids, Kabbalah and Kate Bush

There comes a point where you have to ask if a magazine is in the publishing business, or if it's in the record industry. Q isn't the first magazine to pull a two different CDs with the same issue stunt, and the two 'best of 2005' CDs are pretty fine items - well worth buying two copies of Q for. But you do find yourself wondering how this sort of circulation boosting idea is viewed at the ABC - surely a large number of Qs will be discarded unopened once the second CD has been pulled from its gummy sticker?

Meanwhile, there are five variants of FHM this month, all substantially the same inside, but each with a different Girls Aloud lady on the cover. The most ardent GA-fan FHM reader will thus be forced to buy ten copies of the magazine this month - one of each to keep clean, and one of each to enjoy without worrying about the risk of spillage.

Kate Bush wanted to make it clear she wasn't some strange reclusive hermit, locking herself away from public view. She chose to do this by granting a solitary interview to Mojo, which is hardly disproving the allegations. Indeed, it seems that everything we've come to believe about Kate is apocyphal: 'There was a story that some EMI execs had come down to see you and you'd said something like: "Here's what I've been working on," and then produced some cakes from your oven. True? "No! I don't know where that came from. I thought that was quite funny actually. It presents me as this homely creature, which is all right, isn't it?"' Next week, we'll discover Kevin Sheilds has actually got a job working at a B&Q and does, actually, cut his fingernails.

What is interesting, though, is Kate's viewpoint of what the real world is like: "Friends of mine in the [music] business don't know how dishwashers work." Everyone's baseline, we guess, is slightly different.

The Times took a trip to Liverpool to see how preparations for the Capital of Culture are going, and met up with Jayne Casey. We've a lot of respect for Jayne, and are impressed with the work she's done to try and recreate a kind of music zone for the artists who've been forced out of the area they used to be found in. But it's ultimately depressing - the actual, real vibrant musical culture which used to thrive in the city centre, the sort of thing that was supposedly at the heart of the COC bid has been effectively run out of its own neighbourhoods to form a ghetto while their old haunts are turned into the "Rope Walks Partnership Area", and converted into poncey flats, overpriced and overdesigned bars and boutique hotels to cater for the people attracted by the artistic bohemian buzz that's just been relocated. Reading the interview we Casey, in which she enthuses over the idea of a former industrial area some distance from the city centre being converted into a safe area where unconventional businesses are allowed to thrive in order to service the entertainment needs of the tourists we kept thinking "where have we heard this before?"

Then it came to us: it's exactly the same plan as Liverpool City Council came up with for hookers - their prostitution zone of tolerance.

The Guardian meets up with Will Young, and decides that he's actually "credible" enough to be thought of as the new Robbie Williams. And no, we don't think they were being sarcastic, either.

Madonna has a new record out, and that means two things - first, the Kabbalah Centre management will be putting in a call to get some brochures from luxury car dealers in expectation of a nice little payday, and second, Maddy has been hitting the interview round. USA Today chose to sum up her current position as "Madonna at a crossroads" - what, there's a possibility she might find a new direction, then?

But a more accurate headline "Madonna fudges about on Kabbalah" would probably have been less tempting. It was this interview where she claimed that she'd spent eight years studying a faith and had never come across anything about the man whose teaching the faith was based on; she then started to fume about "religious thinking":

"But I've never heard that it's blasphemous for anyone to mention the names of catalysts. That's just a religious organization claiming ownership of something. 'This is our information; you're not Jewish and you can't know about it,' or, 'You're female and you can't know about it.' That's religious thinking ."I like to draw a line between religion and spirituality. For me, the idea of God, or the idea of spirit, has nothing to do with religion. Religion is about separating people, and I don't think that was ever the Creator's intention. That's just people's need to belong to a group and feel good about themselves."

So... what is the Kabbalah Centre, then? With its flogging of little pieces of string that (apparently falsely) are supposed to have been wrapped around the tomb of the Matriarch; pieces of string you're supposed to tie around someone else's wrists. Isn't that a little bit like a thing you're joining? And if there's a power structure of command there - and there is - then it's a religion, too, Madonna. Otherwise there wouldn't be a pricelist for its wares.

Madonna continues: "Just about every war that's ever been started has been started in the name of God. It's, 'I belong to this group; my group's better than your group, so if you're not in this group, we're going to kill you.' For me, religious thinking is synonymous with tribalism. You're not thinking for yourself; you're doing things because that's what somebody else did, orit's how your family taught you to behave and think."

Just about every war has been started in the name of God - really? The Crusades you can have; but other than that virtually every war has either been fought in order to extend territory and gain access to what that territory had to offer, or to further a political ideology, or both. Even supposed religious conflicts only ever used the faith angle as a way of selling the war to the public - most European conflict in the last millennium used religion as a fashionista would. Or do you really think Ian Paisley would really go "oh, that's alright then" to a united Ireland if Eire suddenly became Protestant?

But poor Madonna suffers for her cult... sorry, religion, sorry, pay-per-pray spirituality. She wailed just how much she suffers to the New York Daily News (you'll notice she's sticking to the softer end of the interview circuit, of course): "It would be less controversial if I joined the Nazi Party."

Um... no, no it wouldn't, you silly, silly woman. We can see what you're trying to say - "ooh, all I'm doing is trying to do is bring a little spiritual joy into people's lives and I'm treated like a pariah" - but that's rubbish. You might want to try joining the nazi party and see how villified you become if you don't believe us. But apparently, our constant calling of Madonna for promoting a religion which attempts to part believers from their cash for magical items and pointless expensive conventions isn't because we think its despicable for a public figure to promote a dubious cult. Oh, no, it's because we're afraid:

"'What do you mean you pray to God and wear sexy clothes? We don't understand this.' It frightens people. So they try to denigrate it or trivialize it so that it makes more sense. "I find it very strange that it's so disturbing to people," she continues. "It's not hurting anybody."

The people who are sold bottle of water, being told it's a cure for illness, at four quid a pop might disagree. The people who are told that charitable giving outside the cult "doesn't count" might disagree. The people who slave for the Kabbalah centre and get paid just $35 a month for their work might disagree. The woman who told her Kabbalah teacher that she'd dreamed about her dead grandfather, only to be told this was a sign to give twenty grand to the Kabbalah Centre might disagree. The parents separated from the kids, they might disagree.

It's not like joining the Nazis, Madonna - it's like becoming a spokesperson for racketeers.

Probably doesn't really help that Madonna reaches for Tom Cruise in her plea to be cut some breaks: 'On that level, she relates to Tom Cruise, who has taken endless flak for being a Scientologist. "If it makes Tom Cruise happy, I don't care if he prays to turtles," Madonna says. "And I don't think anybody else should.' Indeed, nobody should care about who Tom Cruise prays to - but if his "church" decides to underwrite its activites by parading him, and Travolta, and that woman who used to be in a sitcom, and the other woman who was in a sitcom before to promote their activities, then it becomes fair game. Basically, Madonna, if you wrote your cheques and wore your strings and didn't talk approvingly about Kabbalah in public, then it would be your right to continue to practice in complete anonymity. But you promote this bunch constantly, you publish books under your name based on their "teachings" - damn right people are going to call you on your associations with such dubious people. You become a cheerleader, you have to stay on the pitch whatever happens to your team.

'The accusation that her participation in kabbala makes her part of a cult irks her even more. "We're all in a cult," Madonna says. "In this cult we're not encouraged to ask questions. And if we do ask questions, we aren't going to get a straight answer. The world's in the cult of celebrity. That's the irony of it."'

Aah... clever... do you see what she did there? Except, of course, the world isn't in a cult of celebrity at all - if you decide you're not going to watch any more programmes with Jordan in, you don't get dragged into a backroom and asked questions about 'why' for ten hours. Nobody makes you break contact with your family if you want to watch a programme where Ewan McGregor goes off on a motorbike. Robbie Williams, for all his faults, doesn't expect you to give him all your money. Not all of it. And if Madonna thinks we're not prepared to ask questions of our celebrities, who is it who's giving her all this grief and treating her like she's joined the Nazi party?

Talking of signing up to a money-making machine, Jack White is in NME admitting he's going to take cash from the Coca-Cola company - but, hey, it's not a bad thing because he's written a special song for them and wrote it really quickly, and the commercial is "interesting" and 'I'm getting a message across in a way that I'd never normally have the means to accomplish". The message being, of course, that he doesn't really mind about Coke's grubby fingers being found over the deaths of trades unionists in Colombia, contaminating the water supply in Kerala, or taking 75,000 litres of water every day from the people of Tamil Nadu, or the pressure put on schools in Colorado Springs to increase sales of Coke beverages to kids and trying to force headteachers to allow the stuff to be guzzled during lessons. Because he's getting a big cheque. White tries to draw a parallel between his paid work for the Coca-Cola Organisation, and the Beatles' playing All You Need Is Love on the first worldwide satelitte broadcast. We were going to run a 'can you spot the difference' competition on this one, but it's so simple even the cat got the answer.

In a for-and-against, Daniel Martin suggests that White's increasingly desperate attempts to try and make this sound not like someone bending their arse to corporate greed shows that even White knows this one stinks; Eddie Smack, however, thinks that it's a great idea because it does allow White to get to an audience who otherwise woudn't hear his music. Smack doesn't explain, though, who this audience would be, and why Coke would pay top money to secure an artist only to use the advert in front of an audience who doesn't know who he is. Does Smack watch Beyonce doing her stuff in a Pepsi advert and really think that she's there for her singing rather than her profile?

This week, the NME has got Elton John and Pete Doherty on the cover. Or, actually, it's Matt Lucas and David Walliams, you see. A while back, Vic Reeves got his first NME cover before any of his TV programmes had ever aired, which made the paper feel quite rushing edge; putting commedians on after they've already been on the front of Radio Times feels slightly less ahead of the curve. In interview, Davod describes Sharon as like "a sexy older auntie", which might be funnier if it wasn't in the context of rubbing her feet during one of Elton John's white tie charity balls. Even David Badiel never sunk that low.

The Strokes are coming! The Strokes are coming! Apparently, there's a secret Euro tour in the offing. Of course, playing live one of the few things a band can do these days without it being available online before they're ready.

Peter Robinson takes on Sarah Dallin out of Bananarama - play nice, now. She says she'd be terribly worried if she was Pete Doherty's mum, and reveals she once ended up sharing a hotel room with Dave Lee Roth - "he kept going to the bathroom every fifteen minutes and talked for hours."

Radar trumpets with delight at the Spinto Band - they claim to have a pet dragon: so they might sound like Pavement, but they think like the Zutons.

Lightning Bolt, we're told, are the last great Underground Band (although an underground band these days just implies they don't have a MySpace page.)

"I have the musical tastes of a thirteen year old girl from San Diego" says Dev from test Icicles. Ah, but if only you had her wardrobe too...

The archive moment is May 22nd, 1995 - "Pulp gatecrash the charts".

A glossy poster pull-out section commemorates the NME Rock n Roll Riot tour - most of the posters show the Kaiser Chiefs, oddly enough.

comanechi - camden barfly - "leading the raging pack of gutter-rock twosomes"
white stripes - paris zenith - "every song is greeted like an encore"

the paddingtons - first comes first - "even within its 33 minutes there's a certain amount of predictable punk retreads", 7
mars volta - scab dates - "Buck Rogers guitars", 7
nirvana - silver - "seek out the Greatest Hits instead", 3

totw - the automatic - recover - "a deceptively funky, fat low-end"
the rakes - 22 grand job - "jerky re-release"
regina spektor - carbon monoxide - "would be fatal in large doses"

and finally, we're indebted to Zeinab M for pointing out the description of Pete Doherty's bedroom from what the Guardian described as a "rare" interview:

"After 40 minutes or so, we are told that Doherty has tidied up and is ready to receive us. God knows what his room looked like before, because it's in a pretty shocking state now. Drug paraphernalia and CDs are scattered across the bed, and there are rows of blackened, broken miniature bottles of alcohol from which he has been smoking, a trunk full of junk, a motorcycle by the bed, and the words "ROUGH TRADE" daubed on the wall in fresh, dripping blood."

"Imagine," writes Zeinab, "that on Through The Keyhole."

The other interesting thing about the interview was the sudden discovery that there's more than one mini-Pete running about:

"Is it true that he and Moss are hoping to have children together? "I've got two," he says. Two, I say, baffled - I knew that he had one. He repeats that he has two children, and that he sees one of them. "Poor little fucker. My sister sees him all the time, so there's affection as a family for him. I don't really want to go into that because it's not fair on the kids or the mother. It's enough for me to say I love them and would do anything for them."

"would do anything for them" seems to be ensuring that their aunt pops round to see one of them from time to time, although even "ensuring" might be overstating it. Apparently even his press handler was surprised by the second kid, which makes you wonder quite how a kid who he'd do anything for could be such a well-kept secret. The more you hear about Doherty, the less he seems like indie music's great skinny hope; more like British pop's Jackson family all rolled into one.