Saturday, December 31, 2005


Now available for your streaming pleasure: It's A Hit, the video which will accompany the We Are Scientists single this February. (It does, we should warn you, take a lifetime and a half to load in).


The RIAA is quick to claim that when it enforces copyright law that it's got nothing to do with their desires to protect profits and comfy boardroom seats, and everything to do with "protecting artists." So, what are they doing sending threatening letters to, erm, recording artists? David Byrne - yes, that David Byrne - has had an RIAA warning because one of his online radio shows featured on Missy Elliot. Dave is not impressed:

In my case the law forbids streaming “radio” that features more than 4 tracks by any one artist in a three-hour period. My guess is that they may have confused streaming with downloading — in the same way that people often confuse downloading with file sharing. They are afraid that even if it’s not downloadable somehow if a fan knows there will be 3 Missy songs at a given time they can prepare their gear and tape them. The assumption being that sale is lost. [I’ve been informed that the fear is less sensible than that — it is that if you know you can hear a specific artist whenever you want, then the reasoning is you would never buy their records.]

Back in the day I used my boom box to tape things off the radio all the time — that’s how I found out about music I didn’t know about, and eventually I not only bought those records, but ended up promoting them, too. Which made a fair amount of money for some record labels — but not for me. Not complaining, though.

Byrne then goes on to point at one of the insanities of the current situation: at the moment, he's covered by a single paid-for license which allows him to stream music over the net. If he had wanted to obtain licenses which would have allowed him to feature more than four tracks by the same artist in a three hour period, he would have had to licence each song individually. He quotes Lawrence Lessig's estimate that, should a web radio station win 10,000 listeners for a 24 hour a day station, they'd have to pay a million dollars a year. With this sort of stupid position for people who want to be legitimate, you can see why non-cooperation prospers.

[Thanks to Mark Savage for the tip on this one]


Although we're diligently updating our overview of year-end overviews, we think the Decemberist business over at Sweeping The Nation deserves some of your time, either as you prepare for an evening waiting for the midnight bongs or while you do your plink, plink, fizz tomorrow morning:

Meanwhile in Britain we had another year of UK hip-hop being talked up as about to break and then never doing so, Lady Sovereign lost to her own Save The Hoodie publicity stunt, Roots Manuva politely ignored once again and M.I.A. earning acres of press attention completely at odds with a highest charting single position of 77. Pure Reason Revolution do better than that.


This time, it's one of Eminem's little buddies who's been on the wrong end of a gun: Obie Trice was shot at on Detroit's Lodge Freeway just after one this morning, local time. State Police are investigating, but don't know where to start looking.


More from the RIAA, and its attempts to create a Last Days of Rome vibe in the US. According to a deposition filed in Michigan, a couple who had been targeted by the RIAA are seeking redress for unreasonable and vexatious litigation. The sworn deposition claims that the RIAA lawyers instructed a fifteen year old girl to commit perjury in order to make one of their cases stick:

Q. What other areas do you feel that Mr. Krichbaum put words in your mouth?

A. I don't remember any specifically. Just trying to get me to say that Angie and Jim or I had ripped the music off.


Q. It wasn't true. And you felt that Mr. Krichbaum was trying to get you to say something that wasn't true?

A. Yes.

Q. And did he get you to say something that wasn't true?

A. From the statement I read, yes.

Ms. Granado went on to testify that Mr. Krichbaum had urged her to provide false and inaccurate testimony with regard to the entire portion of her original testimony implicating the Nelsons.

Q. Did he tell you why he needed you to stick with your original false story?

A. Because he said he didn't have a case unless I did.

No wonder the RIAA has concentrated its efforts on dead people and kids - so much easier to make them bend to your will, of course. At least when Jonathan Aitken forced teenage girls to lie in court, he kept it in the family.


Also in the "stuff we've sat on for too long" pile is the email from Towerofsong's Twangfreak bringing the AmericanEdit controv to our attention.

The story is a familiar one - a Green Day fans created a mash-up of their American Idiot, and were rewarded for their efforts with - of course - a cease-and-desist from Warners. In response, "dean gray" organised a day of protest which saw hundreds of websites hosting the tracks, spilling out 15 terrabytes of data to about a quarter of a million people. (A terrabyte of data is about the size of a dinosaur, so that's a lot).

In other words: rather than thinking "oh, that's nice that someone is so keen on one of our bands they'd do something like that to build their fanbase up", Warners went legal and turned what would otherwise have been a small website sharing music with a few people into a global phenomenon; and managed to make Green Day look less like the anarchesque rebels they've been trying to shift their image towards so painfully for the last couple of years, and like just another bunch of corporate shills. Did nobody - anybody - at Warners not think "this is the sort of action which could so easily blow up in our faces, like with the Dangermouse record?" Isn't it about time the major labels started hiring people who understand a little about the internet to help shape their reactions to it?

What has also emerged as a response is that Warners have also been handing out the C&Ds to fansites for using pictures and even album artwork on the web. It's never a good thing when a company is so stupid as to try and close down what are effectively free advertising sites for their products; but doing it in the name of a band who have been supported and shaped through difficult years by the sort of passionate fan who might want to spend time building a site about them in the first place? Shame on Warners, but also shame on Green Day for letting their bosses behave like that in the first place. Green Day have sold handsomely because of, not despite, fans like that in the first place. Without that fanbase, Billie Joe would be in a similar position to Lee Harding.


Quite a shameful while before Christmas, we got an email from Claire at CFBGoesPop detailing the collapse of the Australian Idol series into one bubble of controversey after another - not least the splendid and probably unsustainable rumours that the winner, Kate Dearaugo, won with the help of her Dad ringing her voteline thousands and thousands of times. And this chap, Lee Harding. Yes, yes, we know the only punks who dress like that nowadays are the ones who stand on Westminster Bridge charging tourists for photos, but it seems nobody has told Keith that. Lee, it seems, takes it all seriously.

But not so seriously as he didn't pause for a moment before releasing his debut single, Wasabi, which features the opening couplet "She's like a tsunami, could wipe out an army." Did he think that might, you know, be a little insensitive?

"When I first read the lyrics, I was like, hmm.

"It has settled down enough for people not to sort of jump on that I think and ... it (the word tsunami) is not made out in an offensive line."

C'mon, guys... that third of a million people drowned, like, months ago, and he did think "hmmm" - time to move on now, surely?

Lee is aware that a solo comedy punk might not last long, so he's putting together a band. He hasn't got a name for it yet:

"I am tossing up ideas," he said.

"I am looking at band names with two words in it, something punchy that jumps out at you, something that rolls off the tongue nicely."

Hmm... how about Safe Rebellion? Mummy's Shocker? Discount Mascara?

Claire reports that when he was asked "as you're wearing a Motley Crue tshirt, what are your five favourite Motley crue songs", he was only able to come up with two. One of them? Anarchy In The UK.


If you're feeling a bit gloomy at the ending of another year, and thinking that you might have failed a bit in trying to make something of yourself in 2005, why not cheer yourself up by spending some time enjoying Kevin Federline's Official Website?

The most amusing thing is that - despite all the denials that he's riding on the back of Britney - the site appears to be loaded in from He's had the site built in Flash 8, despite it being a static page of text with one photo on and a small pop-up window where you can subscribe to his email list.

Kevin, you see, wants us to know who he really is:

I don't think we've ever been formally introduced. My name is Kevin Federline. I'm 6 feet tall, have brown hair and brown eyes. I enjoy horseback riding, long walks on the beach and the wind whipping through my hair. Ha ha ha. On a more serious note, there's going to be a lot more information and updates on here in the coming weeks and I think this will provide you with the opportunity to get to know who I really am.

I think we've got a pretty good handle on who you really are, Kev - Britneyspearsspermdonor, isn't it?

Kevin has given up trying to find a proper release for his - cough - music, and is going to put it live this very night. Yes, forget the other joys of the new year: at midnight PST, Federline Becomes Music.


According to today's Sun (which means it might be true), Gary Glitter had been plotting a jailbreak; using a sixty thousand quid bribe and a faked illness to get out of Vietnam and off to South America. Clearly, he'd had dreams of being a latter-day Ronnie Biggs.

The interesting thing is the difference between the few quid he was apparently prepared to toss at the kids he's accused of shagging, and the handsome sum he was prepared to pay to get himself out of prison.

Of course, there is a chance that if he's caught breaking out of prison, he could wind up shot.


The LongcutLots of lovely Longcut action - if you pop over and subscribe to their mailing list, you'll be rewarded with what they call a download of the LFO remix of A Last Act of Desperate Men - although actually it appears to be a stream to us, but who's quibbling.

And, next month, they'll be playing gigs in the UK and America and then back in the UK in February:

Fri 6 Jan London Club 333 (Kill All Hippies)
Tue 10 Jan Los Angeles Cinespace
Wed 11 Jan Los Angeles Silverlake Lounge
Thu 12 Jan San Francisco Popscene
Sat 14 Jan New York Tiswas (Reopening Party)
Mon 16 Jan New York Mecury Lounge
Friday 27 Jan Koko Camden Club NMW
Friday 17 Feb Cargo London XFM Remix
Friday 24 Feb Hammersmith Palais London NME Brats

The New York Tiswas? The Tiswas? Surely that can't be a coincidence. We wonder if there's any other US venues named after ITV kids shows - we'd love to hear of Oasis playing the Las Vegas Saturday Banana, or the 22-20s turning up for a support slot at Raleigh's The Mersey Pirate.


Apparently, Q has been going for twenty years and to mark the anniversary, it's organised a poll to find the best album of all time. Confusingly, it's elected to not put the list online, which means instead of directing you to the Q magazine site, we'll have to point you in the direction of The Sun - who seems to think that the heavy presence of many 1990s records shows that that was the best decade ever for music, rather than the relative age of Q magazine readers.

The Top 20 are:

1. Radiohead - OK Computer
2. Radiohead - The Bends
3. Nirvana - Nevermind
4. The Beatles - Revolver
5. Oasis - Definitely Maybe
6. The Stone Roses - The Stone Roses
7. R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
8. Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
9. U2 - Achtung Baby
10. Radiohead - Kid A
11. U2 - The Joshua Tree
12. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
13. Jeff Buckley - Grace
14. The Beatles - Abbey Road
15. Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon
16. The Verve - Urban Hymns
17. The Beatles - The Beatles
18. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
19. The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
20. The Clash - London Calling

Man, that's a lot of Radiohead in there, isn't it? Perhaps the surprises, though, are that a lot of people are actually putting their votes where their mouths are, floating Jeff Buckley up to 13 - we'd always assumed people just pretended to like him - and the surprising persistence of Urban Hymns, a record which, by now, you would have expected to be sitting largely forgotten at the back of smaller record collections.

Having worked out the best album of all time, now the magazine is moving on to the Greatest Song.


Ah, the chimes of midnight marking the start of New Year's Eve and the lifting of the embargo on the New Years Honours list - although both the Daily Mirror and the Evening Standard seemed to be happy to jump the official publication of the gongs today. Clearly times are so hard at the Trinity Mirror group the closest they can offer to groundbreaking journalism these days is that Bruce Forsyth has been given a CBE - a "scoop" they get by reading a list of names they've been sent.

Amongst the other names listing people who'll be sidling up to the Queen (if they're lucky) or making do with one of the Princes are Tom Jones, who gets a knighthood.

Roger Daltrey has been given a CBE; Pete Waterman - who is listed as a "Doctor" has picked up an OBE for services to, we don't know, late-night television or something. Irritatingly, the official Number 10 briefing for these handouts don't describe them as being part of the entertainment industry, but instead of as "the cultural economy." Johnny Dankworth also gets a knighthood, to add to his status as being the first musician to have his work aired on Radio One.

Hilariously, Vivienne Westwood has been made a Dame (not that that will stop her pretending to be such a challenge to polite society) and, more fittingly, Jonathan Ive, designer of much of Apple's recent product line has been given what we fully expect headline writers everywhere to describe as the iOBE.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Anastacia has always had a bit of an odd relationship with her glasses: she never seemed entirely sure if she should embrace them as a trademark, wave them as if they were some form special equipment or pretend they weren't there at all.

She told Pause and Play, for example:

"I wear glasses because I need them; I don't wear them to be the fashion victim," she said. "I have to have them because I have a stigma in one eye and I'm blind in another. But I make it fun, I make it acceptable to fit in society; I've always worn crazy, goofy glasses, it's just what I do. This is who I am. Love me or leave me."

Yes, pause just a moment and think about that: Anastacia makes "wearing glasses fun" and "acceptable to fit in society." Before Anastacia, of course, nobody would wear spectacles in public - leastways, not without a sense of shame; after her, why, even the woman at the bakers came out as slightly shortsighted, parading her glasses on a chain round her neck, of all things.

But now, Anastacia has had an operation on her eyes to improve her eyesight (we don't know quite how one improves an actual blind eye). It hasn't sorted out her confusion, though:

"I wanted people to see my eyes and also wanted to wear make-up, so I had surgery."

But the US star, who beat breast cancer in 2003, will not ditch her trademark eyewear.

She told Now magazine: "I wear glasses because there are some wild styles around now."

You had surgery to be able to wear make-up... and you want to let people see your eyes... but you're going to wear glasses because they are "wild"... and... but... and...


As we vaguely promised in an airy way before we disappeared off for Christmas, we've topped up the collection of other people's picks of the years; doubtless, we shall do so again.


It's that time of the year, when you catch up with old friends and make prank calls to Mel C yelling "just sign the papers, you cow, Take That did it wivout Robbie you know."

We did consider running a caption competition to solicit suggestions as to exactly what was going on in Victoria Beckham's head to lead her to make that face, but we don't want to know. We really don't.


The RIAA's determined push to punish all Americans, young and old, dead and alive, has managed to build up a tidy sum of payments (although nothing even starting to cover the cost of the operation), mainly because their targets have been too scared to challenge their claims in court.

Until now.

The music industry has slipped up and issued a threat against someone who knows his way round the court system - and John Doe Number 8 is fighting back. Number 8 has challenged the terms of the actions against him in ways which, if succesful in court, could bring the process of legal action grinding to a halt. He claims - amongst other factors - that his ISP should never have given up his identity to the music industry body, as they failed to provide any evidence that it had a case against him; that the MediaSentry investigation which turned up his name in the first place was flawed; that the RIAA hadn't provided any solid evidence of copyright infringement in its communications with him, and, crucially, that the RIAA's habit of bundling together large numbers of cases was itself unlawful, as there was no connection between the various John Does.

This last one is perhaps key - the RIAA has been behaving like it's bringing a class action in reverse. But while there is sense in, say, 200 people who have been hurt by one corporation banding together to bring an action, there's no logical or (apparently) legal basis for a single corportation to bundle up 200 different arguments into one.

If he's successful in all his claims, the RIAA have got a serious problem if they really wish to continue with using the courts to punitively punish random file sharers. Having to file each case separately will slow down an already crawling and expensive process; being asked to prepare a case demonstrating the copyright infringements to a higher standard of proof before the ISPs can give up details of RIAA targets would further frustrate the process. A sensible organisation would probably call a halt to this actions if that happened; but then a sensible organisation wouldn't have started out suing its customers in the first place.


Having seen the 2005 event push the cumulative bill for local council tax payers over the million pound mark, Liverpool City Council is getting to grips with the Summer Pops by, erm, suggesting that the 2007 event should perhaps be put out to tender. They're still going to ahead with the organisation which ran it last year at a spectacular £350,000 loss - "because of time constraints" making it difficult to change the organiser. The really good news for the people of the city is that the council has agreed to underwrite up to half a million quid's worth of losses this year. Hmm... telling a company "You're being thrown off the job the next year, but if you run up hundreds of thousands of losses this year, don't worry, we'll cover you..." - what could possibly go wrong there?

Talk of Liverpool City Council stirs memories - we're still waiting to hear from Flo Clucas about the mystery of Ringo Starr's house. We've sent her a little greeting just to make sure she's not forgotten us:


Please accept the best wishes from No Rock & Roll Fun for the New Year. We hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Did you, perhaps, have a spare minute over Christmas to draft a reply to our questions for you? We have been waiting quite a long time for even a basic acknowledgement.

We're sure she's just been waiting for a moment to explain how a report was commissioned recommending the bulldozing of Ringo's house, and then a day or two after she announced her acceptance of that report she suddenly decided to dismantle the house brick-by-brick; and what exactly is going to happen to those bricks.


Wasn't Lisa Scott-Lee supposed to have been giving up on all hopes and plans of a pop music career? Obviously, trying to be the UK representative at this year's Eurovision is barely a step away from languishing in obscurity, but it still feels a little like cheating on the part of the ex-Steps pony.

Meanwhile, her former nemesis, Jo O'Meara out of S Club 7 isn't having a much better time of it - not only did she find herself playing a gig in a Pizza Express (lovely dough balls they do there), but nobody knew who she was and she was reduced to doing a couple of S Club tracks to get any sort of reaction.


Okay, she might have fallen for Gillian McKeith's play-doctor routine and all, but we think there's something sweet about Michelle McManus setting her cap at Ricky Wilson - what with the way she's lost so much weight and the way he's putting it on, they're going to wind meeting in the middle:

"I saw Kaiser Chiefs, got pissed and stalked Ricky Wilson because I fancy him."


Our invite seems to have gone astray in the post - but we know how it is over Christmas, things can spend forever sitting in the sorting office, so it's surely only a matter of time. Eminem has set January 14th for his reunion with Kim. Shortly after the couple remarry, they will rehoneymoon; following that, he'll relock her in the boot before redriving off a bridge, as is the tradition.

The invite reads, in part:

"This day I will marry my best friend, the one I laugh with, live for, love."

There's no indication of if he intends to marry Dre at the same time as Kim, or if that will be a separate ceremony.


Elton's wedding certificate - click for a larger imageWell, we always knew that Elton John was a musician, and it's mildly amusing that it turns out he chose the middle name of Hercules (with his hair problems, we'd have thought Samson would have been the more apt mythological reference point), but the most fascinating thing about Elton and David's wedding certificate is that it finally reveals what David Furnish is actually for - he's a "film-maker", apparently. And you thought his only role in public life was a Elton's husband.

IMDB lists two films we've never heard of from 1999, and two in production - one due next year, one in 2008. He's not exactly prolific, is he? Amazon has no record of Desert Flower, but does have copies of one, Women Talking Dirty, for sale:


Heartbreaking tales from Christmas Day in Keeaumoku, Hawaii: a young boy opens his iPod gift only to discover the box has no Apple inside; just an unidentified meat. The discovery that they'd have to wait until the next day to return the product and get the one they had paid for is perhaps a little overplayed by the mother, Rachel Cambra:

"He went from joy, really happy joyful, then to discover this just angry and hurt," says Cambra. "I'm devastated."

It's unclear if the unidentified meat carried a Microsoft Plays For Sure sticker.
[Thanks to Karl T for the link]

Thursday, December 29, 2005


With the Fixx about to release a "greatest hits" collection next month, there's a challenge for journalists asked to knock together a story to go with the announcement. All we really remember about them is they made an appearance in a short-lived kid's puzzle magazine edited by Gyles Brandereth - there was a photo of them at one end of one of those mazes you sometimes get filling space, and you had to find the route to whatever they would have been hoping to get together with. The page was headlined "The Fixx Get In A Fix"; we never did the maze puzzle. But despite such a lack of highspots, the Associated Press have made a game job of trying to pull something out the hat, and we bring you it in its entirety:

One of the iconic images of the 1980s is Cy Curnin's jacket opening and closing in The Fixx's "One Thing Leads to Another" video.
He blames that on a lack of space. He says he was in a tunnel in a church hall and he had no space to move his arms, so he just moved his shoulders.

That's what made the jacket open and close. He says the video was supposed to portray "the linear motion of life." He says he doesn't have that suit any more, although he has one like it in a different material. The Fixx will release a two-C-D collection of their hits on January 24th.

Yes, that's "pop star has similar jacket to one he wore in a largely forgotten pop video". More details at 11.


The death of James Hall has been announced. The 57 year-old pianist had worked with Elton John and Kiki Dee in the 1960s and 1970s - John is believed to have described him as "the best pianist he'd ever worked with."

Hall was killed by raiders at a bar he was builidng in Sai Khao, Thailand on Christmas Eve. He'd only moved to the beach resort a few weeks before; Thai police report three men who had previously worked as labourers for him have been arrested in connection with the death.


No, no, not in any filthy way. He just really likes saveloys from his home town of Sunderland. According to the local paper, anyway:

Generations of Wearsiders have been brought up on the savoury treat ? and despite being the singer of one of Britain's most successful bands, Alex still harks back to his favourite fare.

Alex's favourite is the famous saveloy dip with "everything on" ? strong mustard, pease pudding, sage and onion stuffing and then the smoked saveloy the end of the sandwich being dipped into the rich saveloy stock.

"It's immediate and reassuring, rich and revitalising. I like fast food this way."


As far as we can tell, Robbie Williams hasn't made the journey to a German court requested by Conny C. C was called a stalker by Williams last month, who got a restraining order against her. As a result of the publicity, C lost her job and is now attempting to sue Williams for damages.

Conny had sent Williams emails and faxes warning him he would be abducted by aliens if he appeared on German TV, which led Williams to think she was a deluded fan. If you ask us, she was actually a music lover with a cunning plan. We intend to start bombarding Williams with letters warning him if anyone ever plays Angels again on the radio, he might find himself caught in a giant, genetically-modified venus fly trap. It might just work.


In a move which might make public service broadcasters around the world a little nervous, a group of listeners to Detroit's WDET FM are taking the station to court demanding it either restores local, eclectic music programming or returns the money they donated to keep the station afloat:

"This is a public radio station, and their decision just completely disregarded the public and the community that is loyal to the station and financially supports it," said Kevin Ernst, the lawyer representing a group of listeners. "People contributed for those local programs, not national programs."

Louis Lessem, vice president and general counsel at Wayne State University, which owns WDET, said he has "no interest in litigating this in the press. ... We're sorry the plaintiffs choose to do that."

"We understand the disappointment of the listenership, but we do not believe it [the lawsuit] has any merit and we will fully litigate it," Lessem said.

The station's general manager has issued an open letter telling the listeners that, although they might not like the all-talk national service, it's much better for them than the music programming they paid for:

"Regardless of how you feel, know that these decisions were painstakingly difficult," Coleman said. "The rationale for the changes were very straightforward--to save and strengthen this important public radio service."

But, of course, if you "save" a service simply by throwing away everything that people value about it, you might wonder what the point is.

The first signs of trouble at WDET came with the sudden departure of Martin Bandyke, the afternoon show host who had been with the station for over twenty years.


It's hard to imagine why Sean Lennon is single, isn't it? Obviously, there is the horror any likely squeeze would have to face of going home to meet his mother, but other than that... well, it's not like he's asking for very much, is it?:

"Any girl who is interested must simply be born female and between the ages of 18 and 45. They must have an IQ above 130 and they must be honest. They must not have any clinical, psychological disorders ... and a kind heart. Clearly beautiful - beauty on the inside is more important - but no deformities, third legs, fifth nipples. I'm completely alone and I'm miserable."

We do love the "beauty on the inside is what's important, but you musn't, you know, be anything other than completely clearly beautiful" disclaimer.

The trouble Sean's facing is that he wants a woman with an above-average IQ, and yet any woman that smart would read his list of demands - "don't even bother getting in touch if there's anything even slightly physically or mentally non-standard about you" - and sense that he's only interested in what they can do for him. And not call.


Noel Gallagher, a man of the world, has looked around and decided that he doesn't like British people who go abroad:

"OK, the British like to travel, but they don't have to carry a Union Jack with them. I'm embarrassed when I see Brits in Australia, they act so... English. They have their tops off, wear flip-flops and shout at the tops of their voices."

Yeah, they go to bars, drink too much, get into fights and... hang about, isn't that what the Gallaghers tend to do? (Munich and Barcelona spring to mind, for example).

And as for moaning about British people carrying the Union Jack with them... on the left, if we're not mistaken, is the limited edition Noel Gallagher Official Guitar based on the one painted by Noel a few years back. What would that design be again?

After having had a go at people for behaving like Oasis, Noel then complains about Liam wearing shorts ons... hang on...


Last time the record labels were investigated in the US for illegally fixing prices artificially high, they were found guilty and came to a deal to get out of trouble; the deal involved paying back some of the cash but was mainly designed around the labels donating music to public libraries. Trouble is, the labels took the opportunity to dump unsaleable product on the public sector - presumably they took the view that all they had to do was keep to the letter, if not the spirit, as it was unlikely they'd ever find themselves in the same position.

Their decision to have played the scofflaw that time, though, might be about to bounce back on them: Elliot Spitzer, New York's Attorney General, has launched an investigation into the wholesale prices major labels charge when they sell to download services such as iTunes.

Spitzer stresses that he is only doing preliminary investigations at the moment, but he was responsible this year for unearthing the label's involvement in a criminal payola scheme so his decision to root about in this field will be causing alarm at many label offices over the New Year. It comes at a time when Warners head Edgar Bronfman has been leading a charge to try and force iTunes to abandon its one-price-fits-all structure. There's a battle developing between the labels and Apple over the issue, but it seems that the only way the record industry could force Steve Jobs and Apple to abandon the 99cent model would be by acting in concert - not, presumably, something they'd want to be seen to be doing while being investigated to see if they force prices in the market by acting in concert.


Two guys who were apparently trying to flog J-Lo's wedding video back to her current husband Marc Anthony have been arrested in a sting operation. The splendidly named Tito Moses and the slightly less impressively named Steven Wortman had been trying to get a million dollars from Anthony for the return of the tape. A New York cop, who obviously has been through soundbite training, observed:

?They thought it was pay day ? instead they got the surprise of their lives.?

Perhaps what might disturb Jennifer Lopez most about this entire affair is that they were only trying to sell the tape back to her because nobody else had been in the least bit bothered about buying it. When not even a local UPN affiliate can be arsed to invade your privacy, you might be in a bit of career trouble.


We can't even bring ourselves to name the telephone company we've barely heard of who has decided to carry out a poll to find - of course - the greatest phone-related song of all time. We don't know how much these things cost, but clearly it's regarded as cheap publicity. In case you care:

1. Hanging On The Telephone - Blondie
2. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
3. Call Me - Blondie
4. Call On Me - Eric Prydz
5. Ring Ring - Abba

Eh? No Rah Band? No Hello, This Is Joanie? None of ELO's telephonic songs? And surely Call On Me isn't about telephoning?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Eleanor G writes to us with a spotting of our favourite HMV spokesperson in a new setting - perhaps buoyed up by the start of a new year, Gennaro Castaldo has brought his talent for adding very little beyond getting his employer's name in a news story to the field of classical music. Responding to Radio 3's decision to not run a back-to-back Mozart session like this year's Beethoven and Bach splurges, Gennaro fretted:

Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, said: "You're not going to have the 250th anniversary of Mozart every year. If you can't do it then, when can you do it?"

That was in the Telegraph. But he was also quoted at more length in The Independent:

Gennaro Castaldo, head of press at HMV, said that playing the complete works of Mozart would seem "a more natural fit, because there's been more raised awareness among the public of Mozart and his work that the BBC could have optimised".

What does that even mean? That more people have heard of Mozart than Bach or Beethoven? On the basis that there was a movie about Mozart 21 years ago? And how does one set about optimising a raised awareness?

Luckily, Gennaro was able to get back onto safer ground when the Mirror wanted a quote about Shayne Ward getting to number one on Christmas Day:

Gennaro Castaldo, of HMW, said: "That's My Goal is the fastestselling Christmas number one in recorded chart history. It has flown off the shelves this week."

Depressingly, by the way, Shayne now has the third best selling UK single of all time, bested only by Elton John's song about that posh woman who died when her car crashed and Will Young's debut single.

Indeed, it was Will who Castaldo thought of when the Daily Mail called for a quote:

Gennaro Castaldo of the music chain HMV said: "Shayne's sales figures are incredible. We haven't seen anything like this since Will Young.

"It seems that reality shows can generate sales that traditional artists can only dream about, because the fans are motivated by the fact they rang and voted for their favourite and feel a sense of ownership towards them."

Although, like kids with Christmas puppies, they forget about them a few days later and abandon them on the side of road.


As a multi-millionaire businessman, it's only ever been a matter of time before Bob Geldof completed his drift rightwards and started to work for the Tory party.

Geldof - at least since making his first pile of cash - has always had a conservative streak (you'll recall, of course, his outrage that teenage girls magazines talked to teenage girls in a language teenage girls would respond to, for instance) but it's surprising to see that a man who claimed he wasn't getting too close to party leaders has made such a blatantly party-political move.

Of course, you could accept his argumen at face value when he maintains that "I don't care who I have to go to to try to make this agenda work", but this isn't simply about sitting down and making suggestions. He's joined a policy group determining policy for a political party, and been at least complicit in allowing his joining to be press-released at a time when it would receive a disproprtionate amount of coverage and play into the portrayal of David Cameron as the coming man of British politics.

Jim McCabe sent us this take:

Simon, spin doctors on both sides will, doubtless, make much of Geldof's "non-partisan" status. The Tories will revel in securing an "endorsement" of Cameron's new reign, while Geldof's office will be savvy enough to know that this alignment risks alienating the Guardian/Independent element of the Live8 support, so will stress Geldof's "individuality".

Of course, it would never have happened under Thatcher, a woman who would have been much happier with Geldof outside the tent pissing in. Now, though, he's going to be in the mess hall, tucking in. We're waiting to hear how Cameron intends to increase aid levels to a point which can make a difference while cutting domestic taxes, and exactly what the party of choice of the CBI will be prepared to give up in terms of foreign trade to help others. Without wanting to sound too cynical, we suspect that Cameron's entire developing world policy might have been 1. Sign up Geldof; 2. Parade Geldof; 3. Erm, that's it.


We'd imagine that the motivation for paying the families of the children he's accused of shagging a couple of thousand dollars was less about clearing his name and more about getting them to have the charges that could have got him killed dropped, but it does look a little like what we'd think of as conspiring to pervert the course of justice. It's depressingly reinforcing the message that rich Westerners are able to do what they want to the world's poorer people, providing they leave behind a cheque.

Glitter's lawyer Le Thanh Kinh basically admits he's buying his client's way out of trouble:

"If we pay the money for the two families, when this case goes to court, maybe Mr Gary will receive a lighter penalty," his lawyer told the AP news agency.

"After receiving the money, they informed the investigation bureau that they don't want to go to court and they want to drop the case."

Glitter denies all the allegations that he molested the girls.