Saturday, January 28, 2006


In the end, the most watchable series of Big Brother ended in the most appropriate way - not only did the victory of Chantelle feel pleasingly British (the triumph of the have-a-go amateur over the well-drilled professional would fit in any Victor comic storyline or Enid Blyton storybook), but also served as a pretty accurate summation of how easily we give the celebrity title to anyone these days: celebrity is pretty much granted to anyone who stands up and says "I'm a celebrity, check me out over here." And it would be a hard heart indeed that couldn't feel some joy at Chantelle asking "are you sure" when told she'd won twenty-five grand for beating those with a slightly higher public profile.

Normally, having an interest in a series of Big Brother leaves you with that feeling you get when you dash on to the dance floor when they play the Kula Shaker song which sounds like the Charlatans at the start: horrified, ashamed, and like you've let everybody down. But the presence of George Galloway - who really, really shouldn't have been there, and who was still trying to brazen it out last night ("my constituents were attacking the press with their umbrellas") - and Pete Burns - who was born to paddle the celebrity shallows leaving a slick of hairdye and putdowns actually gave an interest beyond the prurient; while Barrymore's Poe-style actual secret and actual sense of being on the last throw showed up the Les Dennis and Vanessa Feltz experiences for the Heat-pointing self-obsessions they actually were.

It was even possible to warm to Maggot - in fact, we were watching him last night thinking "why did our heart sink when he appeared on the first programme?" when he mentioned how he hoped that being on the show would sell a few more Goldie Lookin' Chain records. We hope that when Davina asked him what he'd learned about himself during the programme that in his mind he was thinking "I can't actually say 'that my future is no longer in making 2006's answer to Rat Rappin', but it's time to see if there's more than one-fifth of a joke in me." If Chantelle's friends tell her that being on the TV has changed her, that would be a shame. If Maggot's bandmates don't tell him that it has, that would a tragic waste.

Preston, of course, has done pretty alright for himself out of the show - the re-released single is sitting in the Top Ten on the midweeks; the tour dates were pushed with a full-page ad in the NME this week, and it's hard to imagine the magazine would have been trailing an interview with "Preston from the Ordinary Boys" next week quite as enthusiastically as they are one with "Preston from Big Brother"; most astonishingly of all, though, he's become a one-name star. Like Madonna, Morrissey, or... alright, or Bez. But he's done it keeping his dignity almost entirely intact. If not his relationship, to judge by the way his girlfriend was looking at him when he was busily denying there was anything between him and Chantelle.

It's Pete Burns, though, who perhaps has got the most out of his time in the house, although - to judge by the weary response he gave to discovering You Spin Me Round is being released all over again - he might not be entirely sure that his shift from child-scarer through Cruella DeVille to a stand-in Queen Mother might be all he'd hope for. His hug, though, when reunited with his boyfriend was one of the warmest, loveliest, most genuine things we've seen on TV in ages - and that's not a thing you expect to be saying when Celeb Big Brother comes up in the listings guide.

God alone knows how the mess of broken relationships, things spoken that were best left unsaid, cringey cat impersonations and robotic dancing, arrested coats and ghosts of dead swimming pool boys will play out now the Endemol team is no longer around to smooth things over; and we guess we'll never know exactly what Barrymore was doing dressed up as a Frenchman shouting "ong-youngs" while Galloway was trying to read the Communist Manifesto. But for three weeks - briefly - Big Brother did pull itself a little away from the mobile-phone sponsored trip to Bedlam it's allowed itself to become. We couldn't have been more surprised if we'd heard Paris Hilton was trying to get work as a Chantelle Houghton lookalike.

CBB Posts start-to-finish:

Some people go into the Big Brother house
George Galloway gets some sleep
The government gets wrapped up in Pete Burns' coat
Big Brothers stars show a sales bounce
Jodie Marsh's parents complain their girl is being made to look stupid
What's Pete Burns' face worth?
Enter Jimmy Saville
Preston shares tales of his popped cherry
Hertfordshire police arrest Pete Burns' coat
Herts Police concede: it's a monkey, but it's no gorilla


It's hard to imagine why people don't take the Darkness seriously, isn't it? There is a sector of the music world who see them as little more than the Wurzels with catsuits and a bit of a laughing stock. But all that will change on the band's next tour when Justin Hawkins takes the stage on a chariot shaped like a pair of enormous comedy breasts. Nobody will be laughing then.


I guess if you are going to have a rap beef war, the best you can hope for is that it happens with a degree of dignity, so we should be thankful that Cam'Rom has called a press conference to have a pop at Jay-Z rather than driving by and firing bullets at him. If only Notorious BIG had hired a conference room instead of a heavy assault weapon.

Cam'Ron (who interestingly shares his titular punctuation with Hear'Say) explained:

"Sources I don't want to reveal, which are very, very good sources, that know both parties, was telling me [Jay] was in the streets trying to get old information on us. Goin' reaching and looking for Catholic school pictures and footage of times me and Jim [Jones] was in fights and got jumped. When you're looking that hard, I can't ignore it and sit there and ignore everything. I did say that [I would not be going at Jay], but then street speculation kinda forced me to do it."

Good fucking lord on a hoverpod, you're how old, man? You're afraid that Jay-Z is going to find your own school photos? Why on earth would two rich, successful men be wasting their time with what would be the sort of rubbish plot Corrie would give to Roy Cropper when they realised he hadn't done anything for a couple of months. Pull your bloody selves together.


Throbbing Gristle are set to make their first new contribution to popular culture since they provided the name of the greyhound in an episode of Only When I Laugh. There's been no album from them for a quarter century, but Mute has confirmed they'll be back with Part Two in the middle of March. The release is slightly complicated by coming in five different versions - one standard, and four which come with a totemic gift made from copper, bone, wood or - excuse us if we purr just a little - rubber. They could probably have got an album out ten years earlier if they'd not been sourcing the free gifts.


Clearly, the days when Audioslave and leader Tom Morrello were raging against the machine are now well past, and they're happy to look at the machine and admire its fine lines, and how smoothly it runs. In fact, Morello's partner in noise-lite Chris Cornell is happy to trade on his Audioslave connections to help flog a luxury clothing brand, Varvartos. Surely it's only a matter of time before the band turn up doing a Cinzano Christmas ad?


One in the eye for those of us who thought James Blunt wouldn't know what to do with a music industry award if he won one - he's using his NRJ prize as a weapon. It turns out shortly after he got the prize in Cannes, he woke up to find a strange man in his hotel room looking for money. Pausing only to think "I bet this never happens to Robbie Williams", Blunt picked up his trophy and whacked the intruder with it. Challenged by Blunt, the burglar ran onto the balcony and jumped. Pausing only to think "I bet Robbie Williams doesn't have to beat off a bloke in his hotel room and then watches him go onto the balcony to toss himself off", Blunt called security.


Poor Lee Ryan; he can't find a girlfriend no matter what he does. And he'd really like a girlfriend, because that would be so cool. He's afraid its his image which is putting them off:

"Nice girls don't approach me because they think I'm a pig", says the 22-year-old. "I was only 16 when I started in Blue and there were lots of stories but I was only doing what any lad would have liked to do."

Ah, bless: he thinks his image is one of a womanising swine. You don't think, Lee, that perhaps your image as being the sort of person childproof locks are designed to keep out might be the bit of your image that puts grown-up women away. Women sometimes fall for a man's inner-child; it's less common for them to do so when the child might or might not have an inner-man.

Still, Lee has a plan:

"I met Sienna Miller and she's cool. I might send her my new single - it's pretty romantic."

First of all, Lee, you might want to stop sniffing round the a-list; if you feel you must have a girlfriend in the entertainment industry you'd be better off buying a three year-old copy of Spotlight and scanning the small ads in the back. Secondly: you think sending someone a copy of your single is going to make them want to know you? There's a reason, Lee, they call them singles.

Friday, January 27, 2006


There's often rumours about a Smiths reunion, but if and when it happens the chances of Mozzer persuading Marr to do a few of his solo numbers seems slim: Marr doesn't rate Morrissey's solo business:

The guitarist, who walked out on the legendary British band in 1986 after a bust-up with the singer, insists he isn't interested in Morrissey's new material because he has lost his creative spark.

He added: "I always think I'll probably know what they'll all sound like - and when I get around to hearing them, I'm usually right."

To be fair, though, Marr's kids don't much like what he does, so perhaps Morrissey should just tour with them.


What, we wonder, is so great about the Police legacy that Sting is fighting to protect? Stuart Copeland asked Sting if he could do some remixing of the Police back catalogue. Sting said no.

Presumably, the thought of anyone making a laughing stock out of De Do Do Do De Da Da Da would be too much for Sting to bear; and Copeland daring to remix Don't Stand So Close To Me would be too much for him; ruining the cherished memories people have of the time Sting flogged it to be used in a deodorant advert.


Pete Doherty is spending this weekend inside - he pleaded guilty to possession of heroin and was refused bail. He's going to be sentenced on February 8th; it's fairly safe to assume there won't be many Babyshambles dates before then.


It's worth remembering when he roll our eyes at how insanely self-destructive the RIAA policy of using lawsuits to, erm, persuade people to download legally or whatever it was they were doing, that not all record labels and music industry groups think its such a good idea. Indeed, it's mainly the big ones that think its splendid. An opposing view comes from Nettwerk Music Group, who have taken up the case of David Greubel. Greubel is being sued by the RIAA after it claims to have found him offering songs for sharing, one of which was Avril Lavigne's Sk8r Boi. Now, Netwerk's involvement is interesting because Lavigne is one of its clients. The RIAA always bangs on about how it's acting in the artist's interests, so what does the company actually paid to represent them feel about her song being used as part of the case?

"Suing music fans is not the solution, it's the problem," stated Terry McBride, C.E.O of Nettwerk Music Group. "Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," insisted McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests." Nettwerk Music Group has agreed to pay the total expense of all legal fees as well as any fines should the family lose the case against the RIAA.

So, not only do some artists and their representatives not agree with the RIAA action, but they're prepared to fund defence cases fighting the organisation while it claims to be protecting them. That can't exactly be right, can it?


The threat hanging for months over central London is being lifted today. Parts of the city had become virtual no-go areas following the scenes of horror in the West End when a shadowy group called El Benton, and their affiliated organisation Br'yianmae, launched their terrifying dirty Queen musical.

Tourists in the capital have been dragged into the Dominion Theatre by the force of the attack, where they have been subjected to scenes of awful brutality; a series of copycat events have followed in the wake of the original Queen attack - Madness, Rodstewart and PicketyWitch have all been implicated.

"These shows are especially sick coming so soon after Mamma Mia," said a police spokesperson at the time of the first curtain. "People have been happily lulled into a false sense of security by the jolly Abba one, only to find themselves tricked into enterting a theatre to be subjected to a poorly conceived storyline packed with dreadful songs and wooden linking dialogue."

Now, though, the reign of terror is coming to an end: We Will Rock You closes on October 7th.


There's just been an interesting little meeting on Radio 4's Today featuring Steve Redmond of the BPI, talking about the first court victories against filesharers.

two people who refused to settle with the BPI have been ordered to pay by a civil court. It's interesting that although the BPI want us to think of filesharing as a crime, they chose to take the easier route of a civil action rather than calling for a criminal prosecution, isn't it? One of the guys - who has to pay £1,500 straight away and will have to pay more in the future - is a postman with two kids; he didn't share a single file but is being held to account for the alleged actions of his kids. Still, we're sure he accepts that with Madonna having two London town houses to furnish now, and Coldplay only scraping thirty-odd million last year, these people need his money more than he does. And he lives in Brighton, so after the BPi has taken all his money, he can always eat fish, can't he?

Anyway, Redmond - who appears to get quite a buzz from leeching cash from poorer families - was on to talk about their famous victory. And let's not take it away from the BPI, they have conclusively proved that a cartel comprising four multinational corporations can, indeed, afford better legal representation than a postman from East Sussex; that's a landmark to note.

What was interesting was that Redmond parrotted the IFPI line from earlier this week that filesharing was being "contained" - we really don't recall this being an RIAA aim when it set out to start suing people that it merely wanted to "contain" filesharing; this attempt to disguise an admission of failure of their unpopular legal action strategy to turn the tide at all is fascinating; almost as if the record companies are starting to realise that they're not being harmed by filesharing in any significant manner. Because if they were, why would they be implicitly accepting the existence of millions of files swooshing about all over the place?

If, for example, a shop was being hit by shoplifters, and they spent tens of thousands on security cameras and guards, you wouldn't expect to hear the manager saying "well, we still can't keep the Viscount biscuits on the shelves, and the booze aisle still gets stripped bare as soon as the teachers from the school opposite come in, but we're happy we've contained the problem." They'd actually be more likely to view their security as having flopped, sack the guards and either upgrade the cameras or try something different. In effect, all this talk of a problem "contained" by the BPI-RIAA-IFPI is a tacit admission that, actually, filesharing isn't like stealing physical items in any way, shape or form.

The other curious shift in position came when Redmond was asked about the Arctic Monkeys who, famously, used the internets to give away music for free and then had the biggest selling debut album in all of time and space. Naturally, this very simple working example of the flaw of the BPI line (the album is selling massively because, not despite the music having been available for free on the internent) was something Redmond was keen to sidestep, so instead he fell back on that old favourite of the Thatcherite, choice.

The Monkeys had chosen to put their music online for free, he explained, and the BPI wanted to ensure that it was always the artists and labels' choice to put the music online for free, if that was what they chose to do. Which sounds reasonable, but can this be the same record industry who explained a while back they had no choice but to pour millions into closing down filesharing networks because it would be fatal if people came to believe the internet was a place where music was available for free. Now, it seems, they've come to terms with the idea that the internet is a place where you can get music for free. Another one of the planks for the legal campaign appears to have gone, then.


The people organising the Brits seem to have hit a bit of a fatal flaw in their attempts to get Paul Weller and James Blunt to play together at the awards: they didn't ask Weller first.

Had they done, they might have discovered that Weller feels the same about Blunt as every other music lover in the country:

"I'd rather eat my own shit than duet with James Blunt." [...]
[V2 added]: "James isn't exactly the coolest singer around at the moment - he's the last person Paul would sing with."

Although, to be fair, he did hang out with the Gallaghers quite a bit, so he's not that fussy.


We would like to apologise for an item we ran yesterday suggesting that Pete Doherty had been arrested twice in twelve hours. At the time we published the feature, we believed the facts to be correct but we have since discovered the story was incorrect, and we would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Pete Doherty for any embarrassment our error might have caused him, his friends and family.

We now understand that Doherty was arrested three times in ten hours. We'd missed the formal arrest on charges relating the incident where the fan was allegedly hit by a microphone stand.


We're surprised Madonna has gone to the million-quid expense of buying the house next door to hers: isn't her usual way leaning on the government to get them to redraw boundaries and just include the house in her property?

Still, the motivation for buying a new house in the same street is curious: the official line is it's for staff - yes, she now believes she's so regal she's providing grace and favour homes for her people, just like the Queen. But we do wonder if she's just getting ready for a 21st century update on the classic sitcom My Wife Next Door, where a newly-divorced couple live in adjoining houses.
Imagine the lucrative income from a reality-TV makeover of that, eh?


It's a generational change - Noel Gallagher has progressed from Dadrock to Grandad rock, complaining about flaming kids today. Waving fingerless gloves about the pub where he was nursing a half, Noel, 68, said:

“They are idiots are they not?

“They’re fucking idiots... they’re small, noisy, smelly, small, devil brats!

“They take too much time and they cry all the time.”

A spokeschild said they were unworried by the Oasis assault, and said it was typical of the sort of half-considered rubbish you'd expect from the Gallaghers:

“They are idiots are they not?

“They’re fucking idiots... they’re small, noisy, smelly, small, devil brats! With large eyebrows.

“They make too many records and they complain all the time.”

Still, kudos to Noel for noticing that three year-olds tend not to be quite as smart as Liam. Obviously, once four year-olds have mastered the Very Hungry Caterpillar, they start to pull away.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

SUMMER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER: Reading, Leeds rumours start

Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it seems fairly certain that the 2006 Reading and Leeds Festivals are going to be headlined by marauding youngsters burning, smashing and setting fire to stuff like The Lord of The Flies. There might also be some music, and rumours suggest that it'll be Muse and Franz Ferdinand rushing for their busses yelling "Just drive... leave the equipment... my god, they're eating out backline engineer..." this time round.


Bloody hell - they could at least give us a chance to do a flash on Pete Doherty being arrested the first time before they pick him up again.

Tonight's planned date at Newcastle has been axed as Pete got arrested twice in about twelve hours.

Last night's Leeds gig didn't happen as Doherty didn't turn up; at 5.40 this morning he was stopped driving wobbily up and down Laburnum Street in London. He was arrested for possession of class A drugs; and released sometime later on in the morning.

Since it's unlikely he wasn't given the stuff back by the cops, he must have made a beeline for a dealer, as he was stopped again - this time in Whitechapel - at five past three this afternoon. He was arrested again.

There are people who think that his meeting with The General in Pentonville and the subsequent track on the album is amongst the best work Babyshambles has ever done. It looks like Pete is going to get a lot of time to interview talent for the second album at this rate.


Bono - who managed to amass a few tens of millions dollars last year himself - has popped up at Davos to launch an initiative to raise tens of millions pounds brand awareness for some companies ("tens of millions for AIDS campaigning.

The product he was launching was a brand (called Red) which will be stripped across other companies' products (Converse, Gap, American Express, and so on). The companies involved will make lots of cash, and get positive publicity through being involved with Mr. Bono and ticking all sorts of corporate responsibility boxes. Oh, and some money will go towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. But, of course, if the companies were really that interested in that, they could just direct some of their enormous profits straight there without trying to turn an extra buck for themselves out of compassion.

Still, it marks some sort of new low-water mark for humanity: they've created a brand image for humanitarian aid.

Bono was launching the thing at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos - an event when the shape-shifting lizards who run the world let their scales down. It's perhaps indicative of just how cosy Bono is at the top table these days that nobody is going to double take finding out he's there.


We had been planning to pop out and try and collect a few quid for Coldplay this weekend - we'd even got the stickers for the collecting tin made ("Save the Martin") - but now we hear that they're going to be playing the Grammys as well as the Brits, well, we reckon they should be able to make it through to next payday.


Eminem on the cover of Hello

This is not a spoof.


How could the BBC do this? They're going to broadcast a Madchester-themed version of The Passion this Easter, including, as part of it, Jesus being crucified while he sings Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.

That's just insulting - he was a spiritual leader who gave hope to the weakest of society, who was betrayed by those closest to him but continued to deliver his message; a man who knew suffering and pain but could still speak of love. And now they're going to have this Jesus chap sing Morrissey's holy words? There's going to be outrage.

Seriously, though, it's hard to see the point of this - they've cast Bez as a disciple and everything. Presumably, the idea is to make the story (and, oddly, classical music) relevant to the young people - although, to be honest, using The Stone Roses and the Buzzcocks as the soundtrack is probably going to resonate with the not-quite-so-hard-to-reach thirty and fortysomethings more than the teens. Leaving aside the obvious anger that's probably already pouring out of the more oversensitive Christian's ears like black smoke from a Vatican chimney, the whole thing seems to be sorely lacking a point. Did we learn nothing from tha Malcolm McClaren Ghosts of Oxford Street debacle?


Because they're keen to make you buy their magazine to find out, the web-puff for the OK Rich List doesn't actually say how much money Coldplay made in 2005. However, we do know its more than U2, and they made £35million quid.

So that's Bono and Chris Martin having a seventy million quid cash boost in just a single year. Something to think about the next time they start to lecture us about poverty. Because, you know, it might just be possible one of the root causes of poverty is a few people taking much more than their share.


Although we could understand the logic behind teaming Weller and Oasis up when the crumblemod goes to pick up his lifetime's achievement award at the Brits. But since Oasis aren't going, are the Brits team thinking "well, we're giving him an award because, presumably, we think he's great, so let's give him four minutes on his own?"

Oh, no. In order to keep the kids interested, they've decided to make Weller play with James Blunt. Eh? Why? There's no musical justification for it, surely - even Weller at his overproduced worse has never sounded as poor as Blunt; and it's hardly giving the guy much of a tribute to say "we don't think you're strong enough to play without being shored up with a very second rate bloke whose career is already showing signs of stopping after just five minutes." Why not go the whole hog and make him play with the Crazy Frog?


The news that Victoria Beckham has had four stars tattooed on her back is interesting - is she just accepting that she's a ****? Did she want to have the name of kids tattooed but didn't have the space? Or could it be that she's indicating she will remain fresh for three months in the icebox?

Beckham tattooActually, it looks to us that she's just a huge fan of the now defunct Southern Television and has chosen their old onscreen identity as a decoration. It might also explain why her husband has started to look more and more like Worzel Gummidge.


Everyone wants a slice of the Arctic Monkeys right now (in fact, Unilever should be marketing a special Arctic Roll with a monkey face in it - they'd clean up), and the organisers of the Brits wanted them, too.

"Play our event" they begged.

"Get lost" snapped the band.

The official line seems to be that the event is too uncool and "they have enough hype already" - which is true on both counts. But from a purely careerist point of view, let's hope they don't come to regret the early introduction to foreign markets through the international TV screening. The internets can only take you so far.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


The BBC-assembled panel of the finest minds in the music copyright industry have answered a slew of questions about filesharing; the one we were especially interested in came from a Simon HB in Milton Keynes - hmm, he sounds an interesting chap:

The music industry is throwing itself wholeheartedly into the prosecution of people it perceives as "stealing" music. Can all of the panel place their hands on their hearts and insist, honestly, that they never taped a song off the radio, or from a mate, in their youths?

# John Kennedy, IFPI:

You simply aren't comparing an apple with an apple.

When you use an unauthorised file-sharing service you are effectively acting as a 'mass distributor' as whenever you're online, every other user around the world has the ability to access your hard drive and take what's on it. Not quite the same as making a compilation for your girlfriend on Valentine's Day...

As it happens, I never did copy music off the radio - I was lucky enough to have a great record collection thanks to my brothers and sisters.

# Peter Jamieson, BPI:

There is a misconception that p2p file-sharing is somehow similar to home taping, but there is a world of difference between recording the Top 40 onto a C90 and distributing perfect digital copies of songs over the internet to millions of people - and that's exactly what file-sharing is.

I've certainly never risked a legal bill for thousands of pounds by distributing my music collection to millions over the internet - to do so is to rip off artists and everyone involved in making music.

# Steve Knott, HMV:

I'm sure many, if not all, of us have taped a song from the radio or burnt a CD. But that's fine - and it's not an issue when people make small numbers of copies for their own use. It's those people who abuse the process by engaging in serial downloading and particularly 'uploading', where they are giving away thousands of tracks that are not theirs to give, that are effectively cheating on everybody else, including other music fans, who possibly have to pay more for their legally acquired music as a result.

# Brad Duea, Napster:

Simon, for years I have made compilations - initially vinyl to cassette and now purely digital. Compilations allow me to create my own personalised playlists for all sorts of events. Also, I used to listen to radio and jump to my stereo to record a hot new song.

Today, technology has made this issue a bit more complex and has turned the recording industry on its head. To address the file-sharing issue, we have been working hard to provide a "carrot" - attempting to attract people from file-sharing networks by providing a better experience.

An interesting range of responses. Remember, of course, that back when the cassette tape first became a consumer item, the music industry declared that widespread use of it would kill music, covered their records with warnings that taping music was a criminal activity, tried to instigate legal proceedings against manufacturers of radio-cassette machines on the basis they were sanctioning theft, lobbied for a levy on blank media to be passed direct to music copyright holders.

And yet, John Kennedy says that to compare home taping with people using digital recording methods isn't comparing an "apple with an apple."

Napster's Brad basically admits that he was quite happy to ignore the (I believe) 1956 Act which regulated what we could and couldn't do with other people's copyrighted broadcasts. It's simply ridiculous to pretend that because the technology is now digital and two-way that all of a sudden the law becomes any more significant. Duea can either obey the law, or break the law. You can't sometimes obey the law.

HMV's Knott tries the "nobody minds anyone making small numbers of copies for their own use" approach - oh, really? Then how come the BBC isn't allowed to broadcast its music shows with the ability for people to rewind their player? If "it's not an issue" apart from people uploading their files to internet, why is the industry keen to see a "broadcast flag" to stop people taping from a digital radio stream - effectively, what Brad Duea used to do?

If the idea is simply to stop people mass uploading and sharing, then how come there are limits to what I can do with the music I purchase that have nothing to do with that? Why do CDs have clodding DRM to stop them playing on PCs, not simply preventing downloading but doing as I choose with them?

And if John Kennedy is so relaxed about people making "valentine's CDs for their girlfriends", how come the DRM his organisation's paymasters at the RIAA do everything they can to stop people from making compilation CDs for their girlfriends?

If it's all about stopping uploading and sharing, then where does the push for extended copyright periods come in?

It's wonderful that the panel confessed they have happily ignored the letter of the law in the past, because they knew the rules were stupid. They might like to think through the implications of what that means for their industry.

[Thanks to both Ian Pointer and Zeinab Malik for bringing this to our attention, by the way - we've been moving house all day and offline.]


Yesterday - actual yesterday, not when love was such an easy game to play - we discovered that Heather Mills has made Paul McCartney promise never to smoke dope again. Today, we find out he's built a huge timber cabin in the grounds of his estate in Peasemarsh. Because, of course, a man needs a timber lodge to just pop out to of an evening - we bet he returns carrying three Snickers and a bag of Cheetos and smelling of Febreeze.

Although, sadly, it seemed to slip his mind to ask for permission to build the thing, and now the whole thing has got to come down. Macca's got six months to explain why he should be allowed to leave it up. "Every man needs a shed" might not cut it.


Pop stars are just like you and me, you know. Except they can't help trying to turn their everyday life into something astonishing.

So, for example, Christina Aguilera doesn't like pissing in a dirty toilet. Who does? But she thinks we want to hear about her experiences in a dirty cubicle. It's almost as if she finds a wonky seat and leaky handle an excuse to try out some improv observation:

"You know, one pet hate I do have is that whenever I go out and I need the loo I'm like 'Well hold on, is it clean?'. I can't help it!

"Before I sit down I have to make sure everything is spotless, I wipe the seat like crazy. And people that don't flush the loo after they've used it. What's that all about?"

Yeah, Christina... and what about that book they bring you at the end of the meal with the check in it? Is this the story of the bill...? What's the deal with that?


Is it a fashion faux pas that has led Michael Jackson to start to wearing an abaya robe, usually worn by women? Or is it just a man finally starting to come to be comfortable with who he is?

Before Christmas, he found himself in women's toilets - again, at the time, this was meant to be a "mistake", but perhaps Michael has just worked out where he's been going wrong all this time.


We wouldn't, ourselves, choose to try and make ourselves smell like Puff Daddy - his aura suggests a smell of lavanders and talcum with the slightest hint of pork chop - but that hasn't stopped Este Lauder getting together with him to make a range of Diddy fragrances. Este Lauder and P Diddy? It's like Shirley Williams and Goldie Lookin' Chain working together, isn't it?

Anyway, it's all run into some trouble, as the promotional material was quite racy - it featured Diddy in bed with two women - and department stores and politely electing not to have the ad on display. Especially those with restaurants in the building, we should imagine.


The Arctic Monkeys popped up last night on BBC One's Ten O'Clock News, which reported they use the internets to sell records; and with shops predicting their debut album will sell out (82 copies a minute supposedly sold on Monday), everyone wants an Arctic Monkeys story for their newspaper.

The Daily Record has got an exclusive story about the theft of Andy Nicholson's trainer during a stage dive, and the lengths the band are going to to try and stop it appearing on eBay. (Why? It's not clear - they can probably afford a new pair by now, surely?)

Ex Monkey Glyn The Sun, meanwhile, has tracked down Glyn Jones. Who he?


He was the singer with the band three years ago. (We know, the existence of the band in 2003 hardly fits the "instant success" storyline, but let that one go.) He's not bitter at what happened after he left:

“I’m really proud of them all. What they have done is amazing and I doubt if I had stayed in the band they would have got this far. What the Arctic Monkeys are now is completely different to three years ago, when it was just a gang of mates in a garage.

“My mum and dad are more upset I left the band than I am.

“I just didn’t have the dedication to be in a band so I don’t get jealous when I see them on MTV.”

We love the idea that it's parents who are upset - we picture them clipping him round the head: "Why couldn't you have wasted your time in a stupid band, young man, with a head full of dreams? Oh no, you had to be sensible and get a job as a marketing assistant. Why couldn't you have tried to make less of yourself, eh?"


It must be the recent not-actually-near-death experience on the runway that has led Bon Jovi to apologise to Madonna for accusing her of exploiting her kids (even though, of course, she has paraded them around at film premieres and book launches).

Madonna's publicist is generous as you might expect for someone apologising for something he was right about:

Liz Rosenberg says, "Now that's a gentleman - unlike Elton John, whose favourite pastime is trashing Madonna."

Yes, it's quite right of Liz to have a go at Elton for constantly launching context-less attacks on somebody else. That sort of thing is so unattractive, isn't it, Liz?


Here's a warning for all parents who want their kids to leave school and embark on an early career of stardom: missing all the school does have an impact later. For example, Charlotte Church's comprehension skills are somewhat poor:

“Everyone is too PC but I think people like me because I’m quite ballsy and say just what I think.

“No one ever says anything interesting apart from Robbie and Liam. The rest spout boring rubbish and are nicey-nicey about everyone.”

Obviously, our toes curl as soon as anyone uses the "politically correct" phrase, which is empty and meaningless. But if we take it to mean here - as it seems she thinks it should - polite, we're not quite sure why that's considered a bad thing. And when did Robbie Williams ever say anything interesting - unless, of course, you're interested purely in him, as he appears to be. By the same token, doesn't Liam's perpetual knee-jerking, lazy putdowns of any other band he can think of get every bit as dull as, say, Chris Martin calling "save the planet" from the front seat of his SUV?


Billy Brooks paid twenty quid to see Babyshambles in Whitechapel last week. And having been clobbered on the ticket price, the 17 year-old was then, he claims, clobbered by Pete Doherty.

Brooks says he passed out after Doherty smashed a microphone stand in his face and - as you might imagine - isn't that happy about it. He's complained to the police, and the Met's special Doherty Investigation Unit is going to add this one to the list.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Breaks Co-op, a New Zealand band who haven't released a record in nearly ten years, are getting back together to record a new album. Why are we interested?

Partly because Dennis and Barrymore have started arguing about who holds on to the cigarettes again; but mainly because the band features Zane Lowe off the radio. He really is a Jimmy Young for the 21st Century, isn't he?


We're not quite sure how they know, but Time Out magazine have discovered that Antony and the Johnsons sell far, far more copies of their albums to rich people than they do the poorer people. Nationwide, I Am A Bird Now, was the 132nd best selling album last year. In Islington, Richmond and Hampstead, it made the top ten. I Am A Quail Now, then.


Of course, if anyone starts to talk dreamily about their time in convent school and enjoying the uniform and hanging out with nuns, you'd start to think "they're sounding a little kinky". But then you realise it's Alison Goldfrapp, and it just seems a whole lot more normal:

"I loved those nuns, I saw them as really strong. I loved saying 12 Hail Marys in the morning and wearing the striped uniform. I was always a bit of a drama queen so convent school fitted my romantic little fantasy world. I thought I was in The Sound of Music."

She doesn't say if the nuns wore the pre-Vatican Two style habits, or the more modern, lighter sort; nor does she mention if they pranced about on giant glittering horses with false tails attached.


We're a little surprised that Victoria and David Beckham have got a payday from the photographer who flew over their property and took a snap of their garden - they agreed to settle in April for £6000 damages, but quibbling over costs has left the Beckhams having to pay both sides costs from that point. That could be up to £60,000.

What's curious, though, is the idea that Victoria and David's house cannot be looked at from the sky - does this just apply to them, or do us ordinary people have the right to stop pictures of our back garden being taken when the Easyjet from Luton to Malaga goes overhead?

Even more curious, though, is that the photographer Nick Stern could have claimed a public interest defence - his photo revealed that the Beckhams were building a giant "playfort" for the kids in the garden. So giant, they should have got planning permission. Which they'd forgotten to do. It was only the photos which alerted the local council to the transgression.


Perhaps sensing they're starting to look a little ropey getting on stage and pretending to be teenagers, Good Charlotte are plotting a move into the movie business.

Their joint venture with Nylon magazine's Marvin Scott Jarrett won't actually stop them making another album - one is apparently in the pipeline - but will give them another string to their bow. A broken bow it might be, and the strings might be a bit manky, but it's a bow nevertheless.


You might recall that back in September, Flo Clucas stood up and told the world she had, in her hand, a piece of paper which proved that Ringo Starr's first home wasn't of any historical significance and should be torn down; then, a couple of weeks later, she announced that it was of such little historical significance, it would be taken down brick by brick and stored somewhere for safety, for reasons she never really went into. You might also recall that we've been trying to get some simple answers to a couple of basic questions since then.

Well, sadly, it looks like we'll not get the answers from Flo: as part of the rearrangement of the Lib Dem cabinet in the city, she's got a new job, caring for economic development and Europe, and her role at the head of housing has been taken over by Marilyn Fielding. So we thought - before Marilyn's in-tray gets filled up with other, more pressing matters, we'd see if we could find out exactly what happened. We've sent her an email:


Congratulations on your new role in the reorganised Liverpool City Council cabinet.

We had been hoping to get a response to some questions about the proposed demolition of the Ringo Starr house from your colleague Flo Clucas, but she hadn't found a moment to respond in the last few months and - as we believe you are taking over her portfolio as far as housing goes - we wonder if we could redirect them in your direction?

Councillor Clucas announced the findings of an investigation into the bulldozing of Ringo Starr's childhood home in Madryn Street at the start of September 2005 [source:]

What form did the original investigation into the merits of retaining Ringo's house take, how much public money was spent on it, and how did such an investigation manage to leave Councillor Clucas telling the world that Ringo resided in a place for three months when he lived there twelve times as long?

A couple of weeks later, Cllr Clucas announced that the house was to be saved after all. [Source: Liverpool Echo, 25th September 2005]

After an investigation paid for from the public purse and a public announcement that it had recommended demolition, what new information had come to light showing this house was of historical signifance after all? Why had this information not been uncovered by the original investigation?

The plan now seems to be to take the house down brick-by-brick, and store it somewhere - is this still the case?

How much will this cost, who will be paying, and what is the long-term plan for the bricks?

And finally - and really, this is just out of curiosity - are the council making any cash out of the levelling of the neighbourhood the house stands upon?

Fair questions, we think - and besides, how can the people of Liverpool know what sort of people are running their city if they don't have the facts?

Just as a side note, the rejiggling of the Lib Dem cabinet has been forced upon the city by the resignation of Mike Storey. (The Liberal Democrats aren't having a very good time of it at the moment, are they?)

Storey was found by the Standards Board For England to have broken the Code of Conduct in a way that went to the heart of the proper relationship between members and officers by seeking to improperly influence an officer of the authority. The report also concludes that Councillor Storey’s conduct had brought his office and authority into disrepute.

The investigation related to allegations that Councillor Storey had encouraged a paid officer of the authority to undermine the council’s chief executive.

Don't cry too much for Mike Storey, though - although he resigned, he's already been given a plum job by Warren Bradley, who replaced him at the top of Liverpool City Council. Storey is now in charge of the celebrations of the City's 800th birthday next year. We're not sure we'd have put a man who had resigned in shame and been found guilty of what was called an "extremely serious misconduct" in charge of a high-profile event; apart from anything the inability to find someone to do the job who hadn't just resigned in ignomy suggests the talent amongst the Lib Dems in Liverpool must be pretty thin at the moment.


We hadn't really had many rumours that Madonna's marriage to Guy Ritchie, the man known for, erm, being married to Madonna, was in any sort of trouble, but now that we discover both her American and British spokesteam are busily issuing statements denying it, we certainly have now:

Madonna's US spokeswoman, who has been on the London set of her new video said: "Guy came to the set to visit - once with the children Rocco and Lourdes, and once without.

"Mr and Mrs Ritchie seemed perfectly comfortable and adoring of each other. My sense is that they're quite a happy, content couple."

The singer's UK spokeswoman added: "There have been a lot of silly stories which are all untrue."

Hey, if two highly-paid spokespeople are rising up quickly to put down silly rumours that are totally untrue and not worth the time of day, that's enough to convince us.

Neither of them, incidently, seem to have found a chance to get Madonna to respond to that chap from the Kaballah Centre saying that the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust brought it on themselves. Madonna, you'll remember, was "too busy" back in the Winter of 2005 to say how she felt about that; she seems to have been too busy ever since. We will, however, keep returning to this if she ever gets round to explaining how comfortable she is a high-profile donor and spokesperson for the organisation knowing that its paid staff hold such views.


It might not quite be the teary reunion with Kate he ("the tabloids") hoped for, but for someone to return to Pete Doherty's side after a high-level walk out is still rare enough to merit a mention: Pat Walden appeared onstage with the band ninety minutes into their Cambridge gig. Presumably he'd have been with them at the start but nobody had told him that the band try and get going on time these days.


One of the moments in the compelling but depressing documentary The Corporation, which records how far down the transfer of power from society and state to private companies we've got, is some idiot burbling away about how great it is that you might hear people talking about something cool in the street, and not realise they've actually been paid to have the conversation to be overheard by you. That man, if he hasn't yet realised how skewed his moral compass has become and decided to make ammends by doing something more useful to the planet (shoving kohlrhabi up his own ass, for example), will doubbtless be thrilled to hear that Sony-BMG has been paying buskers £40 a throw to play Johnny Cash songs to promote the soundtrack to their Cash biopic.

(If you're wondering how the film came to be made, let's just say walking into a Hollywood studio and saying "Would you like to make Cash?" is probably the easiest pitch in the world.)

Obviously, if you were a busker you'd be in hard place trying to turn down a guaranteed payday, and you can't really blame them for it. And, while it's hardly as huge as some of advertising's stupid plans (firing a massive light into space to plug something, the Sheila's Wheels commercial, and so on) it feels like another little bit of ground being lost to the corporations.

The real surprise? This isn't the first time it's been done. And guess who came up with the plan?

Travis are credited with dreaming up the idea, which was then used to promote the Hugh Grant film Love Actually.

We're not sure how it was used for Love, Actually - perhaps they made the bouncers dress up in suits and mutter "I can play other roles, you know, didn't you see About A Boy, do I look too bored in this?" under their breath.


You only get a hug from Molko's mugPlacebo are going to be in town tonight filming a video for their soon-released (and slightly disappointing) new single Because I Want You and they're appealing for people to turn up to play the part of the crowd. Tonight, at the Koko in Camden. You might get in, or be turned away, and can't take cameras or stuff; have to be over 16 and should be there at 6.30pm.

Don't wear a tshirt saying "Why is the European release single better than the one we're getting?", and although we'd never accuse Placebo of being shallow, we reckon you'd stand a better chance if you're pretty and wear eyeshadow.


The world is abuzz with the belief that Jennifer Lopez might have a baby inside her belly what has been put there by Marc Anthony, on account of someone seeing the couple out buying lots and lots of baby clothes.

On the other hand, they are equally likely to have just decided to dress their cats up as children, so they can post pictures to the internet.


The long-rumoured Massive Attack best-of is going ahead - the release is scheduled for some time in March and you can have fun today trying to see how many tracks people can guess. That game, by the way, is called the "well, Unifinished Sympathy and, erm, that one about looking at you to see you looking at me and... can you give me a clue? game."

The answers would be:

Inertia Creeps
Butterfly Caught
Unfinished Sympathy
Future Proof
Five Man Army
What Your Soul Sings
Live With Me

- although, god love them, there's going to be a "special" "limited edition" version which adds another 26 tracks. Let's hope someone includes Jo Whiley telling indie band after indie band that she's surprised they've chosen Unfinished Sympathy as a favourite track.


Apologies if you're eating for the mental image: Will Young reckons Judi Dench thinks he's got a great cock:

"She gave me 10 out of 10 in the nudity department."

Well, he's taken that as a endorsement of how lovely his penis is, although it sounds a bit vague to us; more like Judi was just surprised and delighted he could take his clothes off on his own.

"Sometimes you feel fab and sometimes you feel atrociously ugly. It depends on the company that’s around. On the whole, I think I’m comfortable with my body."

If Will's self-image depends on the people's he surrounded by, he must have felt like Adonis on a Charles Atlas workout when he was sharing the stage with the rest of the Pop Idol freakshow turnouts.

3AM INFERNAL: They predict a riot. Again.

Presumably because Robbie Williams and 50 Cent never had the fight in Cannes they were predicting, the 3AM Girls in the mirror have a gap on their pages today, which they've filled by speculating on just how the NME award organisers are going to have to avoid Kate Moss and Pete Doherty and Peaches Geldof meeting at the prizegiving - apparently:

A music industry insider tells us: "Pete and his band have vowed to make it this year after failing to turn up last time. Kate has also been invited so organisers have been forced to rearrange the seating plan to ensure they are at opposite ends of the room.

Let's hope they haven't spent too long redrawing that seating plan, what with Pete possibly going to be in prison before the prize giving, and Kate - as the 3AM girls might have read in their own paper - isn't exactly hanging out in the UK at the moment. And if the pair of them did turn up, why on earth would putting their tables at opposite ends of the room be of any use at all?

- Eh, Pete, that model who dumped you is here, you know...
- Wassat? Eh, I've got some stuff to say to that cow... where is she?
- She's sat on the other side of the room
- Is she? Oh, I'll leave it then; I'm not going to cross a small hall to talk to her

Which just leaves the question: Why is Peaches Geldof on the guest list for the NME awards in the first place?


Having been sentenced following the slapping a policewoman incident last week, Sarah Ilori, the woman who claims Ms Dynamite hit her, is calling on police to have another look at her case:

Ilori claims she looked at a clock behind where the singer was sitting when the star asked her: "What the fuck are you looking at?"

Sarah, from North London, added: "I turned around and said, 'Who the hell are you?' and she got up and punched me."

Dynamite's spokesperson is dismissive:

"These allegations have always been vehemently denied and charges were never made."

An interesting choice of words, because had charges been made, or if the allegations had been accepted, there'd be no need for the alleged victim to call for police to reopen investigations.

Monday, January 23, 2006


They're the awards that aren't like the other awards, very much. They're the NME awards, and the short list is out now. Surprisingly, for the awards which are supposed to be cooler than the Brits, Oasis are well represented during the list. And the Arctic Monkeys are on the Best British Band list as well as the Newcomer award, although surely by the time nominations closed for these awards they'd barely plugged in their keyboard?

Here are the nominations in full:

Best British Band - supported by ShockWaves
Arctic Monkeys
Bloc Party
Kaiser Chiefs
Franz Ferdinand

Best International Band - supported by T4
Arcade Fire
Green Day
The Killers
The Strokes
Foo Fighters

Best Solo Artist - supported by E4 Music
Antony And The Johnsons
Richard Ashcroft
Ian Brown
Graham Coxon
Kanye West

Best New Band - supported by Radio 1
Arctic Monkeys
Magic Numbers
Maximo Park
We Are Scientists

Best Live Band - supported by Carling
Arctic Monkeys
Franz Ferdinand
Green Day
Kaiser Cheifs

Best Album - supported by HMV
Babyshambles - 'Down In Albion'
Bloc Party - 'Silent Alarm'
Franz Ferdinand - 'You Could Have It So Much Better'
Kaiser Chiefs - 'Employment'
Oasis - 'Don't Believe The Truth'

Best Track
'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor' - Arctic Monkeys
'Fuck Forever' - Babyshambles
'Do You Want To' - Franz Ferdinand
'I Predict A Riot' - Kaiser Chiefs
'The Importance Of Being Idle' - Oasis

Best Video - supported by MTV2
'Do You Want To' - Franz Ferdinand
'Dare' - Gorillaz
'I Predict A Riot' - Kaiser Chiefs
'The Importance Of Being Idle' - Oasis
'Juicebox' - The Strokes

Best Event - supported by
Carling Weekend: Reading And Leeds Festivals
T In The Park
V Festival

Best TV Show
Little Britain
The Mighty Boosh
Peep Show

Best Radio Show
Colin And Edith
Steve Lamacq
Zane Lowe
Chris Moyles
Lauren Laverne

Best Film
Batman Begins
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
King Kong
Sin City

Best Music DVD
Green Day: Bullet In A Bible
Kaiser Chiefs: Enjoyment
Morrissey: Who Put The M In Manchester

Best Website

Best Venue
London Brixton Carling Academy
Glasgow Barrowlands
London Astoria
London Koko
Manchester Apollo

Hero Of The Year
Carl Barat
Pete Doherty
Liam Gallagher
Bob Geldof
Alex Turner

Villain Of The Year
Tony Blair
James Blunt
George Bush
Pete Doherty
Justin Hawkins

Best Dressed - supported by Topman
Pete Doherty
Brandon Flowers
Liam Gallagher
Alex Kapranos
Ricky Wilson

Worst Dressed
Pete Doherty
Justin Hawkins
Chris Martin
Jack White
Robbie Williams

Worst Album
'Down In Albion' - Babyshambles
'Back To Bedlam' - James Blunt
'The Bravery' - The Bravery
'One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back' - The Darkness
'Wonderland' - McFly

Worst Band
The Darkness
Son Of Dork

Perhaps the most wounded band will be The Bravery, who might feel being lumped in with James Blunt and The Darkness for worst album is a little unfair; and while we might roll our eyes at Geldof appearing on the hero of the year list at least we can work out why - what the hell is Liam Gallagher doing on there claiming heroism in 2005? What did he do that was so heroic?

And which NME readers really feel that Live8's DVD was worthy of an accolade? Was it the Velvet Revolver bit that made it so worthwhile, or the U2 section? Surely two minutes of Pete Doherty acting like Emily Bishop on two pina coladas doesn't a classic video make?

Anyway, you're invited to vote online if you want a say. Use your votes either wisely, or in a totally inappropriate fashion.


The family of the Notorious BIG are to receive USD1.1million following the discovery that the LAPD withheld evidence during the trial of two policemen believed to be linked to the killing.

The cash award is intended to cover the legal costs of the family, and the "security costs" for the family's attorneys and witnesses.

COUNTRYOBIT: Janette Carter

The death has been announced of Janette Carter, the last of the children from the Carter Family.

It was when her father, AP Carter, died in 1960 that Janette followed his dying wish and picked up the reigns of the family "business", preserving her family's music and the wider Apalacian folk and country traditions. She explained "it's good for younger people to know this kind of music. There was a time when music told a story; it wasn't just some beat."

Although Janette had recorded with her mother and father in the 1950s - her particular acomplishment was the autoharp - because she dedicated so much time to developing the Carter Family Fold into a performance hall, she seldom found time to build her own recording career as a musician. In 2004, a 31-song collection on Bear Family pulled together some of her sporadic recordings.

Last September, her forty years of preservation work was recognised by the National Endowment for the Arts, which presented her with the Bess Lomax Hawes award.

It was the Carter Family Fold and the live performances there which really motivated her, though - in July 2005, the night before her 85th birthday, she fell and injured herself, but still insisted on returning to the Fold in a wheelchair to sing Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

Following the deaths of Joe Carter in 2005 and June Carter Cash, Janette was the last survivor of the original Carter Family children. Her daughter, Rita Forrester, intends to keep the Fold going.


KT Tunstall was planning on capping a triumphant year selling weak songs and hanging about wearing braces in what seems to have been accepted as a vaguely bohemian way by playing a hometown gig.

Trouble is, the people in her hometown of Anstruther were afraid that all that noise might keep them awake. (You'll note, of course, that they decided that if KT was going to be playing a gig down the street, they'd head straight for bed early that night.) So the gig's off.


All that legal action against customers is really paying off, according to the RIAA in its various client guises around the world. But is it? While the latest Nielsen survey of web usage reports that the successes of iTunes and the iPod has seen Apple replace Wanadoo in the top ten most visted online brands in the UK, more interesting is that in the year where the BPI started suing people, "Music filesharing site Limewire's audience has increased by 666% to 2.3 million, making it the most popular online destination of the top 10 of fastest growing internet sites last year."

A 666% increase in traffic for Limewire, which has already been surpassed as download haunt of choice? Presumably the BPI would argue "ah, but if we hadn't taken that action, then we'd have seen a 777% increase in traffic."


The reports we've seen frustratingly remove the swearing, but apparently when Ray Davies was picking up the CBE, the Queen swore her head off:

Kinks frontman Ray Davies says he was shocked when Britain's Queen Elizabeth told him, "I hope they catch the (expletive) who shot you."

Wanker? Bastard? Motherfucking cocksucker? Mimsy? What did she say? And does this mean that the Queen is a big Kinks fan? Come Dancing, like at the Palace on a Saturday?


The death has been announced of Tara Devi, the singer known as the "Nightingale of Nepal". Her career started at the age of five, and that early start helped her build the largest repertoire of any female artist in her field: over 4,000 songs. She had a long association with Radio Nepal, singing live for the state network for thirty years.

In 1996, she withdraw from the entertainment industry following the twin blows of of the death of her son and her husband; a long illness had silenced her singing altogether - at the launch of a collection of her work a couple of years back she had been unable to sing the songs herself; her contemporary Koilee Devi performed the live versions.


One of the benefits of getting older - besides people actually treating you politely in hotel lobbies - is that you get to experience supposedly rare events repeatedly occuring. Like ITV pondering if it really ought to have its own answer to Top of the Pops. It was a rubbish idea back when the Pops was at the top of its powers - as various attempts, most notably The Roxy demonstrated; but that isn't stopping ITV flying a corporate flag and entering into talks with Chris Cowey's company for a new show:

"Music television has become one of those things that it's easy to make badly. I want to do for music television what the Premier League did for football," said Mr Cowey, who spent six years in charge of Top of the Pops from 1997. "Top of the Pops seems to have been abandoned. Maybe it has got too much baggage. They seem determined to treat music as an offshoot of light entertainment rather than a genre in its own right."

What exactly does he mean by "doing for music television what the Premier League did for football" - push it away onto a subscription ghetto, make the economics so insane that people who supported for years become priced out of the event, over reward a few top -line acts at the expense of the smaller groups thereby creating a stagnant experience where the same four or five names dominate while the rest struggle to keep afloat? Or simply bring in a couple of new camera angles? At the same time, of course, as relying more and more on expensive foreign talent which comes to dominate the scene leaving the national side incapable of competing at interntaional level?


Shakira at the NRJ AwardsWe've been trying to puzzle out the rationale behind the NRJ Music awards, France's main prizes of the season. It seems they choose the international winners carefully - big names, but past their prime. It brings a degree of glitz, but doesn't upstage the local acts. So, this year, Robbie Williams picks up Best International Male, despite his home country not even shortlisting him in that category; Madonna picked up Best International Female; and Shakira waltzed off with Best International Song for La Tortura. Yes, that's the best song of 12 months not made by someone from France.

Bob Geldof, the little wag, praised the organiser's "good taste" in presenting him with a prize for Live8, an event he put together last year to boost his value on the after-dinner speech circuit.

The winners, in full, then:

Best album: Myelene Farmer - Un Homme Sans Racines
International: Black Eyed Peas - Monkey Business
Best female artist: Jenifer
International: Madonna
Best male artist: Raphael
International: Robbie Williams
Best song: M Pokora - Elle me controle
International: Shakira - La Tortura
Video of the year: M Pokora - Elle me controle
Group of the year: Le Roi Soleil
International: Black Eyed Peas
Revelation of the year: Gregory Lemarchal
International: James Blunt


There's always been something more than a little Daily Express leader page about Heather Mills, and her attitude to Paul McCartney's love of cannabis seems to underline that. She made him quit the drug:

"I would not get married to him if he was taking drugs. I hate it. I counselled people on drugs," she told the magazine.

"I could not have him lying to our child about not taking drugs and then going out for a sneaky puff."

Heather, how could you assume that Paul would be so low as to take advantage of someone who wasn't as bright as he is, by telling them he'd given up then going off somewhere else for a quick roll-up. We're sure he wouldn't do that. Where is he, by the way? Just popped out to "walk the dog", has he?

What's puzzling here, though, is exactly what Heather thinks she's achieved. McCartney, famously, smoked a little every day for about thirty years, so if the aim was to make him able to tell the kids "just say no", how is that going to work anyway?

Paul: Don't do drugs
Kid: Why?
Paul: It's bad - look, I don't smoke them, do I?
Kid: But you did, every day for thirty years, and it didn't do you any harm

The other curious thing here is that Heather assumes that Macca would lie to the kid about smoking hemp as his default position - although a man who has happily and healthily enjoyed a drug for a third of a century seems to be unlikely to want to join in the whole drug hypocrisy and we'd have thought McCartney would have been more likely to be honest with his children. In fact, McCartney might have been in a wonderful place to talk with the kids about the risks involved in any sort of drug use, able to explain the difference between a bit of home-grown and a pipe full of skunk.

When Heather says she's "counselled", she means "lectured", doesn't she?

Anyway, he's given up now:

Asked by the interviewer if Sir Paul had problems giving up, she replied: "He says he had a good incentive."

Heather doesn't need cocaine to give herself the false impression she's the greatest thing in the world.


It's been a cold time for the Blue boys since their band was dissolved by the merchant bank and three pension schemes who owned them, or whatever it was that led them to decide to call it a day. But now, Antony Costa is on the way back, being invited to be the first guest on a new chat show.

Yes, yes, it might be in The Dandy, and he might be being interviewed by Korky The Cat, but it's a comeback, isn't it?

The Dandy artists had trouble turning Costa into a two-dimensional figure for the comic - it took days for them to find a second dimension to him. Korky, meanwhile, is delighted to be given the chance to interview celebrities: "How many people have been doing this as long as me?" he asked before launching into an attack on younger stars without his journalistic training who get given their own show: "You have to have some understanding of what it takes, and ask questions and listen to answers. If you go into a studio equipped only by questions given to you that are all over the studio, like suicide notes on the wall, that isn't going to happen. I've been in the game long enough. I don't like his careless attitude because I enjoy being a journalist. It is like going to the editor of the newspaper and telling him: Melinda Messenger is going to do your job - and for twice as much as you earn. He'll tell me not to be daft. It's all about being professional in our business and knowing your job." *


When someone reaches a degree of success, all sorts of people come out of their past, claiming that it's all down to them. But with Arctic Monkeys, they're so young, they can't be expecting that. I mean, who's going to appear saying "I made you" - their sixth form music teacher or someone?

Yes, actually.

Richard Tolson, who teaches music at Barnsley College, helped the band make their first recordings - recordings he still has. The Sun reckons owning those early tapes is the musical equivalent "of a lotto jackpot", which seems to be slightly overstating it - even on a lame Wednesday you'd expect a couple of million from a jackpot, and without the rights to actually release the thing, you'd probably have something closer to the musical equivalent of matching three and the thunderball.

Still, it's really nice to see The Sun saying nice things about teachers rather than suggesting that there's a good chance most of the teachers in nearly all schools are child-touching perverts.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Anne Rice has been so wrapped up in writing her books about Jesus that she seems to have let the quality control on her Vampire empire go out the window, allowing Elton John and Bernie Taupin to turn The Vampire Chronices into a musical. It's opened in San Francisco, and it sounds like it might need some work before it gets to Broadway. Indeed, it sounds like the light of day might be as bad for the show as it would be for the characters.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Robert Hurwitt called for the garlic: Didactic, disjointed, oddly miscast, confusingly designed and floundering in an almost unrelentingly saccharine score by Elton John, "Lestat" opened Sunday as the latest ill-conceived Broadway hopeful in the Best of Broadway series.

Did the SF Examiner like it any more? Not much, Tiger Hashimoto reports: "After Lestat is “made” as a vampire (without any warning or motivation), he mostly kills men in grisly, on-stage murders that had me cowering and wincing — and I’m a martial arts fan... Claudia epitomizes what is wrong with this show dramatically and morally. At first she appears as an innocent blond twinkee. Then she sings a foul song about blood called “I Want More.” Just as you think this over-the-top raunch is good for the plot, Claudia switches to a saccharine ballad, “I’ll Never Have That Chance,” about how being a vampire precludes walking down the aisle and having babies."

Inside Bay Area's Chad Jones sees a slight glimmer of hope, though. Only a slight one, mind, although the idea of killing the whole thing to see it reborn might have some vampiric appeal: "The biggest problem in director Robert Jess Roth's jumble of a production— and the one that isn't likely to change anytime soon — is the score. John's music borrows heavily from "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Jekyll and Hyde" to create a pop-classical hybrid that is rarely less than dreary and often devoid of pleasurable melody.

Taupin's lyrics are labored, overly complicated and seem to rhyme only when convenient. Simplification is the order of the day from beginning to end.

First on the list to cut should be "The Origin of the Species," a confusing production number that attempts to explain the history of vampires. And the song "To Kill Your Kind," which features pseudo-choreography straight out of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, is unintentionally hilarious.

There are only four times when the score breaks through its ponderous lumbering, and in a nearly three-hour show, that's not enough."

Does nobody have a kind word? Karen D'Souza of the San Jose Mercury at least isn't totally repulsed by the saccharine: The score is likewise bland, a collection of same-sounding, easy-listening anthems that should please Sir Elton fans (they'll especially like ``Sail Me Away'') but that do little to move the story forward or give us any insight to the characters. "Welcome to the New World'' is so chirpy it's jarring. The choreography in the To Kill Your Kind number feels vaguely reminiscent of Michael Jackson's Thriller video with its twitching ghoulies.

Only rarely, as in the child Claudia's songs, does the musical hit a vein. I Want More mixes shades of comedy and horror with a macabre zest the show mostly lacks, and I'll Never Have that Chance strikes a genuinely touching chord.

So, not everybody is rushing for the vomatorium all the time, and at least John restrained himself from throwing Candle in the Wind into the mix.

And, to be fair, Lee Hartgrave of BeyondChron describes the experience as "visually rich", although a musical where you come out whistling the back projections still sounds mainly flawed to us - "As for the music by Elton John – it is O.K, but not great", reckons Hartgrave.

For Backstage, Jean Schiffman also warms up a little - praising the "fitting" decision to open it in San Francisco, which is good news if the Tonys have a category for Best Itinerary; but even she can't find anything much to make the prospect of an original cast recording sound like a good idea: "[a]nd while Taupin's lyrics range from overblown to gratifyingly sharp, John's compositions mostly sound alike, are generally slow-paced, and fit into a generic musical-theatre mold. How wrong this seems for a story about blood, eroticism, and the macabre!"

The show is Warners (not anything to do with the label anymore, of course) first attempt to try and get some of the Disney action, staging not-very-good musicals that rely on spectacle and familiar characters to make up for the lack of quality on stage. Warner Theatre Ventures' Greeg Maday told the New York Times he was learning from the reviews: "You always like good notices, but we are in a creative process," he said, adding that he believed that the first act, in particular, needed help. "The reason we came out of town was to get audience feedback."

Hmm. The weight of the audience feedback would suggest that you'd be better off dousing the whole thing in holy water.