Saturday, July 14, 2007

They could fill their cakehole again

If the Take That Reunion was like meeting long-lost friends, and the Spice Girls comeback bumping into people you remember from school, that would make the rumoured Atomic Kitten resurrection a bit like that sinking feeling when you run across someone who you used to work with. Who smelled of carpets.

They're plotting to do a Cilla Black cover - Anyone Who Had A Heart, sadly, and no "Oh no sir, nothing tastes nicer, than Cadbury's Dairy Milk" - but, if we as a nation show even a glimmer of something other than total indifference, they're threatening to do more.

Kaisers eye Wembley

Talking of people seriously overestimating their pulling-power, it turns out that the Kaiser Chiefs are hoping for a little of that Muse action:

"Their shows are spectacular and their reputation has grown and grown," Nick [Baines] told the Daily Star. "They've sneaked up and become a stadium band. We've seen that if you've got the guts to book stadiums, people will buy the tickets.

"Muse aren't as dynamic as us - and we have more banter. People talk about Muse in the same way as U2 or the Rolling Stones - and that's what we want."

We're not sure if they're really hoping to be be spoken of as Muse are - a band who've managed to control their rise to larger venues without, yet, pandering to the perceived needs of a wider audience - or, as would seem to be more likely - U2 and the Stones, bands who play large venues because it allows them to disguise a long-dead spark with massive screens and a huge merchadinsing stall.

Duncan James: The dream is over

Can it really be true that Duncan James is giving up on music? And only a year or two after music gave up on him?

The singer became disillusioned with the music industry after his solo songs failed to sell well in the UK, and he is enjoying his current role in a West End production of Chicago far more.

It's funny that... his not-especially-good records fail to sell, and he blames the music industry rather than, say, his limited talent, or over-optimistic belief about his own attractiveness to the record-buying public?
"I'm not a big fan of how the music industry works," Duncan told Hot Stars magazine. "A lot of people who work in it don't care about music, only money. Pop music isn't doing very well, but I think the Spice Girls will change all that!"

Asked about the possibility of a Blue reunion, he said: "As it stands right now, everything about it would make me feel sick. I don't think I've got the confidence any more."

Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of this is that Duncan has dipped so far off the public's radar he was reduced to making his farewell statement in Hot Stars. Of course, it's bad news for Girl Talk, who had been hoping for the exclusive.

Curtis blows? Fiddy album shoved back again

After a lukewarm response to the lead singles in the US, 50 Cent is shoving back the release of new album Curtis.

It had originally been due in June, but now the record's new early September date has been moved back again to September 11th. Still, there's something which appeals to the nostalgic in my watching a record going backwards - the rushed-forward release to cope with internet leaks has become so common this last couple of years. It must be slightly depressing for Fiddy to discover his album is so unattractive nobody even wants to whack it on peer to peer.

Remy Ma abandons SUV, disappears after shooting

Remy Ma's SUV has been found, crashed and abandoned, by police investigating a shooting incident in New York. The suspect in the shooting has been described as "a woman in her 20s"; the 26 year-old Ma scampered away from her car a block away, and is being sought for questioning.

Snoop career reaches the twilight years

A staging post in the career cycyle as obvious as the first gold disc and the first limo to the gig, Snoop has now reached the reality series point.

The traditional way of showing an empty creative storecupboard, we are promised:

the show would be "hilarious and heart-warming" and would show the rapper balancing family duties with the world of hardcore hip-hop.

It's the Snoop Doggy Cosby Show.

Now 'Allen prettier than Cole' is an established FACT

The summer is always prone to uninspired companies carrying out pointless polls in a bid to grab some lazy newspaper coverage. Even so, did nobody at Thorpe Park stop to ask what they were doing when they paid for a survey, and then released the results, showing that a small percentage of people thought Lily Allen was more "beautiful" than Cheryl Tweedy Cole? It's far from clear what the link between the survey and their business is; some might also wonder if a family attraction should really be indulging in a "whodyaratherfuck" game in the first place.

By the end of the summer, we're going to be invited to play spin the bottle with Alton Towers.

Stunted publicity?

The happy news that Chantelle and Preston are down in Brighton, shopping with their stupid little rat-dogs under their arms is tempered somewhat by the unsettling suspicion that surely they haven't used a divorce as a publicity tool?

This sort of behaviour will require Iain Duncan-Smith to produce tax-breaks plans so that people will take divorce seriously in future.

Newton meets Blunt: The greatest fawn since Bambi

The real problem at the heart of the Sun's Bizarre column is not its shaky grip on research, or its frequently rushed pieces reading like the first draft of an Innovations catalogue. The real, screeching paradox is the column affects to be some sort of papery-conscience to the stars, calling them on their actions and exposing their wrong-doings, but as soon as Newton finds herself face-to-face with one of the people she writes about, she turns into a gushing schoolgirl.

For example, today she meets James Blunt:

[H]e’s an easy target for cool rock stars who slag him off to grab a headline.

But now, with the follow-up album to his multi-million selling debut Back To Bedlam, JAMES BLUNT is about to prove he’s much more than a one-hit wonder.

His new album, All The Lost Souls, is a collection of Seventies-inspired classic pop songs with emotional heart-rending lyrics and melodies that you simply can’t get out of your head once you’ve heard them.

It would be almost impossible to come up with an album that could mirror the achievements of 2005 sensation Back To Bedlam, which sold 11 million copies worldwide and is the second best-selling album since 2000, behind DIDO’s No Angel.

And the pressure of coming up with a better song than You’re Beautiful would surely be too much for any songwriter.

We wouldn't have thought so - the Big Brother housemates managed to come up with a better song than You're Beautiful in about ten minutes a couple of weeks ago; indeed, our cat manages to come up with a better tune than You're Beautiful when he'd rather have a pouch of wetfood instead of biscuit.

What's really strange about this, though, is that Newton thinks she's praising Blunt, but effectively she's implying that all the signs are that he's one trick pony.

Of course, when most people have had a successful first album, the second one is usually a duff affair focusing on how fame bites and how many drugs they've taken since they became famous. Surely a trap Blunt won't fall into, eh, Victoria?
[1973] looks back at James’s memories of going out and having a great time with friends

I can’t help but think this song has been inspired by spending many a night in the drug-fuelled nightclubs of Ibiza.

And in one standout track, Give Me Some Love, James makes reference to drugs with a line in the chorus that says: “Give me some love, I’ve taken ****loads of drugs.”

Same Mistake sounds a bit like a track that could have been penned by COLDPLAY frontman CHRIS MARTIN, and is the song James performed at last Saturday’s Live Earth gig.

The album also tackles the issue of dealing with fame, which James has struggled with.

His overnight global success and his penchant for bedding beautiful and famous young women has meant he’s made a fair few appearances in newspapers and magazines.

This is reflected in songs such as Annie and One Of The Brightest Stars.

James says: “Just because I’ve been given the fickle title of celebrity, it doesn’t mean I’m any less human. I go through the same things, only my mother hears about them first now!”

So, there's two about drugs, one that sounds like Chris martin and a song about the pressures of fame. The surprise, I guess, is how few sound like Coldplay.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hush, Usher

Usher has been making a bit of hash of things lately, and that has caused a little comment. But Usher just wants to be left alone. He doesn't want to make his mistakes in public, so he's decided it's time to reclaim his privacy.

By, erm, writing a piece for People magazine about how he wants to be out the glare of publicity. In People magazine:

"I am happy, excited, completely clear and independent on my direction, feelings, decisions and I am NOT BEING LED," Usher wrote. "Some media and bloggers have been totally intrusive, they have misconstrued aspects of my personal life and, because of this, my 'true' fans are not sure about what is fact and what is fiction. There is a difference in stating an opinion versus drawing a conclusion that is incorrect.

"I have NEVER threatened or harassed anyone from any media format - print, radio, television or Internet media. At this point the best thing to say to my fans is just because it sounds enticing and it MAY sound 'true,' that does not make it truth. I understand the fact that I must sacrifice some anonymity for the career I love, however, some things are personal like having a child or a marriage."

So, then, the claims that Usher threatened radio presenters must be made-up then. Surprising that three radio stations simultaneously made up the allegations, but we guess that should be put down to being like the time all the sheep around the world learned to roll over the cattle grids to get across them. Even though it wasn't possible and it never happened.

Towers collapse

We're trying to be strong, but now that The Rev and Snell have left Towers of London, we're not sure there's any reason to go on ahead.

Donny has pledged the band will continue - although, to be honest, we thought these days it existed solely in the description of "from punk band Towers of London" in gossip items about Peaches Geldof.

Mail on Sunday wants to break the album charts

The Mail on Sunday is threatening legal action if the Prince album its giving away this weekend doesn't get counted for the charts. Although they're supposedly selling a newspaper and giving away the CD, and not the other way round.

It's not that MOS managing editor doesn't have a good reason for calling for his newspaper to be treated as an album:

"We are spending a fortune on this," said Mr Miron.

Words which failed to melt the hearts of the Official UK Chart company. So he tries some bluster:
"Given our belief that this album should still be included on the official UK album charts and having responded to your issues, I would urge you to reconsider your previous position as a matter of urgency, before we engage our lawyers for legal advice to force a challenge to this restraint on our trade."

We would have thought that it might have been a good idea to seek legal advice from your lawyers before sending threatening letters - especially since it's not clear how not qualifying for the album charts constitutes "restraint of trade": is it not going to be stocked anywhere because it falls foul of the rules? Does Miron believe that having a Prince album at number one will somehow help sales of the Mail On Sunday the following week, when it doesn't have a prince album to give away? Does he think people won't buy a record because it doesn't count towards the charts?

The Chart Company won't budge:
The Official UK Charts Company has refused to enter the album Planet Earth on its chart, saying it could not prove that newspaper sales were "genuine consumer purchases" and that it could not audit sales accurately.

Miron counters that this is, erm, a human rights issue:
"It's denying Prince his rights," Mr Miron told "It will be number one in the UK chart and we think that's something that he should be able to do.

"The fact that they are referring back to rules put in place ages ago doesn't seem to fit with the way the music industry is now. I think they are mad."

Now, if you're going to throw around claims that people are "mad", suggesting that - somehow - the chart company should be enabling every newsagent, sweetshop and old bloke with a newsstand to function as a chart return shop by the end of the week might lead a few people to assume that Miron has a couple of bees loose in his processing-honeypot. And suggesting that Prince has a right to number one based on discs that will be given away with a newspaper that would have been purchased with or without the CD isn't exactly sane - does someone who sneaks CDs hidden into homes disguised as a Franklin Mint insert in You Magazine really deserve the chart position more than someone whose fans have actually, actively purchased the record?

Besides which, of course, even if you pretend that the paper comes free with the album, and not vice-versa, and even if the newsagents of Britain could be linked in to the chart return system, even then Prince still wouldn't qualify for the charts. The paper - sorry, CD - is just too cheap, coming in under £2.69 ceiling for "budget albums" and, as the chart eligiiblity rules state [pdf]:
Albums Chart: Budget Albums
Budget albums are excluded from all published Album Charts, except Classical Album Charts.

And, the provision of a newspaper and two general-interest magazines "for free" with the Prince record would seem to fall foul of this rule, too, forbidding:
procuring the sale of a record in conjunction with a non-related or excessive gift, ie which gives the consumer a product, voucher or benefit or anything else which is either unrelated to the record concerned or of a value in excess of the value of the record without that gift (value means normal retail price)

Clearly, the Chart Company aren't going to back down on this one anyway - the precedent would mean any covermount CD would become eligible for the charts, and in effect the music industry would end up underwriting the costs of auditing magazines circulations.

Missy Elliott apparently stalked by John Culshaw

We're read Missy Elliott's account of how she ended up being arrested because she had a stalker, but still don't quite get it:

"I've been put in handcuffs. I had a stalker who was impersonating me.

"He was making threats to people over the radio and they thought it was me.

"Somebody put a warrant out, so I had to turn myself in. They found out it was the stalker, but I still ended up getting in trouble."

But why would a stalker go on the radio to threaten people? And how good an impressionist would he have had to have been? And what show would allow someone - even if they thought it was a pop star - to issue threats on air? It's all very confusing.

We did wonder if "the stalker who made all the threats" was like the bad boys who did things and ran away when I was little?

Bad news for Sharon's act

Whoever lands Sharon Osbourne as "mentor" in the forthcoming series of New Faces: she's pledged to quit the show if her charges lose again.

Seriously: she could be working with a young Debbie Harry with the wits of a young Jarvis Cocker, but the thought TV could free of Osbourne is surely going to persuade the public to vote against her.

The King and the Doctor

After Dave Mustaine's UN song, here's another grudge-carrying pop star with a, shall we say, curious interpretation of facts, as Jonathan King writes a tune for Harold Shipman. In it, King suggests that Shipman was less a murderous bastard who topped the elderly as soon as they became troublesome, more a kindly, Jack Kervorkian type who was bringing a gentle end:

"Police will inflate and the law says it's fine to accommodate tabloids with a solid headline
But a real psycho monster who's killing for fame would leave notes for acclaim to establish his name

"Some people will sigh when they're waiting to die
Won't you please speed it up as I'm starting to cry
There's one thing he ain't and that's saviour or saint
But a pleading complaint didn't pass him by"

Ah... so he wasn't a monster because he didn't want to get caught killing dozens in order to become famous. It's an interesting take on the law - that you don't only have to prove a criminal had an intention to commit a crime, but also that they were only doing so to get on the news.

It's not clear if King has bothered to read any of the evidence of inquiries into the people he killed, like Winifred Arrowsmith, a 70 year-old who was in remarkably good health until a visit from Shipman where he "found her dead". We suspect he hasn't - after all, King's interest is well-documented as laying at the other end of the human lifecycle.

Of course, when pressed, King reveals that - as with everything else he's ever done - the song isn't about Shipman at all, but how hard done by he is:
"It is actually not really about Harold Shipman. It's about the tendency of the media, the police and the CPS to inflate and exaggerate in order to get convictions and headlines and circulation and ratings increases."

King has previously suggested that his conviction for having sex with fourteen and fifteen year-old boys made him a little like Oscar Wilde; oddly, now he's claiming kinship with Shipman - not the most obvious choice for lashing a bid for rehabilitation to.

The trouble is, if you're going to start raving about inaccuracy in media coverage and police procedures, you should probably start by making sure that you're at least in possession of a degree of accuracy yourself. And to suggest that the media somehow invented Shipman to boost circulations is to fail completely to understand how Shipman got away with it in the first place - because who in the media, or the police, or CPS, would even notice the quiet but unusually common deaths of old people in a corner of Manchester?

Not Feeling it: Haywards Heath fest drains council

The rather bizarre line-up for Haywards Heath's three-day Big Culture Show - The Feeling, a bloke dressed up as Bob The Builder, and Chas and Dave - didn't quite capture anyone's imagination and now locals are trying to find out who signed off on the flop, which left a £150,000 loss to be made good by pubic funds:

Organisers said they were "extremely disappointed" and have blamed bad weather for the lack of takings.

But Councillor Paddy Henry, the sole Labour representative on the Tory-led council, said the three-day event was a "total waste" and that heads should roll.

He said: "If you worked for a private company and you lost £150,000 you'd be out the door. When you're bolstered and feather bedded by council tax money it seems you can just squander it, no questions asked.

"Someone should throw themselves on their sword for this."

The organisers, though, are bullish:
Paul Squires, head of leisure and well being, said the loss represented less than one per cent of his £17 million budget.

He added: "We worked extremely hard to bring a fresh event to Mid Sussex and we are all obviously extremely disappointed with the outcome and the attendance.

"Due to the generosity and support of many local businesses we were able to keep our expenditure well within budget however the income from sales was well down on projections.

"Just like elsewhere, we suffered as a result of bad weather.

"This event was not the success we had hoped for, however the losses represent less than one per cent of our total leisure and culture business.

"As such it will not impact on people's council tax bills as the growth and management of the remainder of our business will be sufficient to ensure we continue to bring innovative, exciting - and occasionally daring - events to Mid Sussex."

Surely not that Paul Squires?

Still, we love the idea that a big gig in a field by The Feeling is what passes for "daring" now in Brett Anderson's childhood hometown.

Lavigne threatens cinemas

One of those wonderful moments when people say something while, clearly, feeling the opposite as Avril Lavigne offers herself to producers:

"I want to do more movies. If that means more auditions, then that's fine," says Lavigne, 22. "I think it's cool, as it's humbling. It's like having to start all over again and I enjoy that."

The vision of the humble artisan actor is somewhat undercut, though, by her apparent belief that it's noteworthy that someone like her should be auditioning at all.

Arctic Monkeys plan to live forever; learn how to fly

This morning, for reasons that we can't begin to unravel, Victoria Newton has invested effort "proving" that the Arctic Monkeys and Alex have changed:

[He] has always made a point of shunning the showbiz spotlight and acting like he is not affected by the fame game.

But [...] maybe it is going to the cheeky monkey’s head.

How so, Victoria? She points to two previous events:
The band have become increasingly obsessed with fancy dress and recently wore clown costumes for a performance on JONATHAN ROSS’s BBC1 chat show.

And earlier this year they wore Wizard Of Oz outfits to record their Brit Awards acceptance message — having shunned that ceremony, despite winning the two top gongs.

Now, most people - even those not keen on the Monkeys - would interpret turning up to play a song on Ross' show dressed as a clown or accepting the Brits dressed as friends of Dorothy as being a shrug at the institution rather than an embrace of fame's tender caress.

Besides, this is all somewhat old, so does Newton have some new "evidence" for this change in attitude:
“He has set up an email account in the name Aleks and now signs off with it. It’s the sort of quirky and rather puzzling thing that he does. I hope it doesn’t go too far. He’ll start replacing his name with a picture of a monkey next.”

Victoria then Googles Aleks to fill up some space ("provide some background"):
I’d love to know what Aleks’s inspiration is for his new name.
“Aleks” is an artificial intelligence system designed in the US for testing students and there’s also an obscure Mexican singer/songwriter called Aleks Syntek.

Yes... or maybe it's just a phonetic spelling like when Ashleys turn themselves into Ashlees. Because it would be a bit of a strange coincidence if Mr. Turner happened to have been so inspired by an American educational tool he decided to change his name in its honour, and it just happened to sound the same.

Newton - afraid she might have gone so far, and aware the bottom of the page is still some way off - then adds in the sort of empty flattery that Basil Fawlty would reserve for minor royals:
Alex is one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation so we’ll let him off — the Arktiks’ latest single, Fluorescent Adolescent, is an example of his greatness.

"is an example of his greatness" is such a clunking phrase it deserves to be put in some sort of museum, or at least used in journalism training courses as a warning from history.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Now Sony BMG kicks downwards

You might have thought that, having settled with the people on whose computers they installed malware on their machines, Sony BMG would write off the USD5.75million and try to move on.

Not a bit of it. They're now suing The Amergence Group Inc, blaming their technology for getting them into trouble in the first place.

Amergence say 'we're sorry, this has nothing to do with us':

In a statement, The Amergence Group vowed to fight what it described as unwarranted allegations by Sony BMG.

The company also suggested that lawsuits against Sony BMG over CD copy-protection primarily stemmed from Sony's use of another technology.

This one sounds like it's going to be fun.

Sony is looking for about USD12m in damages, which effectively would mean they'd be making a profit on the whole deal. How sweet is that, eh?

Internet Radio: three days and off

The new, unrealistically high rates for internet radio royalties are due to start on the 15th of this month. An attempt to get a court order to suspend the new rates has been rejected. Now the last hope is for a new piece of legislation - they're hoping Congress might get something passed before the weekend.

Dave Mustaine is the John Bolton of hard rock

Dave Mustaine has written a song about the United Nations. A whole album, in fact.

It's not especially positive about the body - the cover, for example, features a plane flying into the UN building. Interesting. We wonder how many other buildings in New York someone could depict being the subject of a 9/11-style attack without, at the very least, Bill O'Reilly camping out on your doorstep, demanding you be swathed in orange dungarees and relocated to someowhere south of Florida.

Obviously, Mustaine isn't in control of his facts, and UN Dispatch takes great delight in wading through the spite to show that he's basing his distrust on misundestandings, half-truths, lies and ignorance. Oh, and some Book of Revelations stuff:

The threat is real, the Locust King has come
Don't tell me the truth; I don't like what they've done
It's payback time for the United Abominations

This is where things get weird. 'The Locust King' is drawn from the Book of Revelation, Chapter 9. Mustain's decision to use apocalyptic literature found in Revelation is quite, uh, revealing. He seems to be sympathetic to a fundamentalist doctrine known as pre-millenialism, in which an anti-Christ is said to rule the world during a period of tribulation before the messiah (Christ) returns. Some modern day pre-millenialist sects believe that the United Nations (or the Secretary General), is either literally the anti-Christ, or is setting the geopolitical conditions in which the anti-Christ will rise. Mustaine seems to believe this lunacy as well.

Iran funds Hamas, and attacked the US in the seventies, there was no stinking UN

I think Mustaine may be confusing Hamas for Hezbollah, the Iranian backed militant group in Lebanon. Agents of Hezbollah bombed US marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, when the United States and other international forces were part of a UN sanctioned mission to end the bloody Lebanese civil war. Mustaine may also be referring to the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. In this case, obituaries of the recently deceased UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim noted that securing the release of 14 Iranian-held American hostages in 1981 was one of the most significant achievements of his otherwise unremarkable tenure.

What has been Mustaine's reaction to being skewered?

Apparently, not knowing what he's talking about doesn't matter, as - if we've got this right - not blowing out his backtrumpet would infringe his Constitutional rights:
"I would rather feel right and be wrong with the semantics or facts in the song and have expressed my right to free speech, than to feel wrong and be right and sit back, like the rest of the cowards of the world, not saying anything."

Right, Dave. You don't think if you're going to issue a political statement it might be a good idea to at least check your facts first? Because speaking out against things that don't actually exist makes you look a little paranoid. And a lot like Richard Littlejohn.

Fergie "didn't sell out totally"

Women's Wear Daily is reporting that Fergie is threatening legal action against the Sunday Times over the story that she was taking cash from fashion chain Candies in return for singing about them:

"It's completely false," she told WWD on Monday, adding that she is taking legal action against the paper. "I don't know where they got it from. I sing about a lot of things in my songs — from cars to Taco Bell — but not because I'm paid to!"

She is, however, taking money to endorse the brand in other ways, as the chain's parent company makes clear in its denial:
A spokeswoman for Iconix Brand Group also denied that Fergie was being paid to plug the brand in her music. "Contrary to recent reports, Candie's does not have an arrangement with Fergie whereby she will incorporate the Candie's brand into her lyrics. Currently, Fergie acts as the junior brand's spokesperson and appears in its multimedia marketing campaigns including print, national television, Internet and promotions."

It's understandable that Fergie would want to defend herself against the suggestion that her creative process is being influenced by a corporate buy-in.

Mind you, the original press release announcing her tie-up with the company shows that the line between her musical career, and her business as a corporate shill, is more than a little blurred nevertheless:
Iconix Brand Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: ICON) recently announced its exclusive partnership with 3x Grammy award-winning artist, Fergie for its Candie's(R) brand fall '07 television, print and online advertising campaign. The junior brand, available exclusively at Kohl's Department Stores, styled her current music video "Big Girl Don't Cry," which features Candie's apparel, footwear, jewelry, sleepwear, hats and bedding. The Candie's television commercial is a direct cut from the "Big Girls Don't Cry" music video and the print campaign will feature candid shots taken on set during the shoot. This is the first time a junior fashion brand has extracted their campaign from a music video. "Big Girls Don't Cry" is in the top five on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and among the top 10 most played videos on MTV and VH-1.

Commenting on the partnership, Fergie stated, "Candie's is giving me creative input and they are allowing me to bring my touch to the campaign and I love that! The clothes are so wonderful and we are tying it all together, the commercial, the print ads and my video and I am really excited about it."

This is interesting - the idea that, simultaneously, the adverts are a "direct cut" from the video and that Candies allowed Fergie an input into the campaign. In other words, she was allowed a say in an advert that was part of her video.
Dari Marder, Chief Marketing Officer, Iconix Brand Group, Inc. said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for Candie's to be able to lift our brand creative straight out of Fergie's hit video, "Big Girls Don't Cry." It further validates the Candie's brand as part of pop culture."

Julie Gardner, Kohl's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said, "The new Candie's advertising campaign marks a first for a junior fashion brand. The campaign is innovative and authentic and leverages the music video, which makes the brand more relevant to our junior shoppers."

Candie's recently announced its exclusive fashion sponsorship with Fergie on her first solo tour. Fergie's Verizon VIP Tour has a 20-city schedule and tickets are exclusive to Candie's and Verizon Wireless through give-a-ways and Kohl's in-store events in select markets, as no tickets will be sold for this tour. The tour has received amazing reviews from critics and fans. At each concert there is a live Candie's fashion show.

So, part of her gigs is an advertorial for the chain's fashion as well - presumably, that support act would be there even if it hadn't been paid for.

We can understand that Fergie might not want people to think her artistic decisions are being directed by a sponsor. At least, not unsubtly.

3AM very excited about Delia

We imagine it's some sort of technical problem, but according to the 3AM Girls' RSS feed, they've published the news of Delia Smith's return to telvision every thirty minutes for the past twenty four hours.

Eavis hits the phones to bring back the old Glastonbury

Michael Eavis has admitted that Glastonbury is middle-aged, middle-class and 'respectable' (although we're sure he's said the same thing before) and has announced plans to do something about it:

"We're trying to get the youngsters because numbers were down this year," Mr Eavis said. "People say we're getting middle class, but we're attracting more people in their thirties and forties and need the Radio 1 and NME crowds.

"These kids add so much to the flavour of it. The people who now come have the right attitude, they grin and bear the mud, but they do change the nature of the show."

So, what's the big idea?

They're going to sell 40% of the tickets via phones next year:
Mr Eavis said this year's internet-only sales policy favoured people with fast internet connections. "Next year kids will be able to use their mobile phones to get tickets," he said.

Because, of course, people in their teens wouldn't have access to broadband, would they?

Let's set aside for a moment the question of how phone sales will sit alongside the pre-registration rigmarole, and just wonder if the important part of the ticket process which might put off the younger, less respectable end of the market is not how they're sold, but how much they're sold for.

"Dead fat guy in a bath" might have been "dead fat guy in a toilet cubicle"

In a surprising and somewhat late development in the death of Jim Morrison, a former vice-president of Eurodisney has remembered that, actually, Jim Morrison died in his nightclub. Sam Bernett has written a book about it. Now, 35 years on:

In a new book Sam Bernett claims Morrison died in a toilet cubicle in his Paris club in 1971 after what he believed was a heroin overdose.

Two drug dealers then took Morrison's body back to his apartment and dropped it in his bath in an unsuccessful bid to revive him, according to Mr Bernett.

In his book The End: Jim Morrison, Bernett says he asked a doctor to examine the 27-year-old singer in the toilet of his Rock and Roll Circus nightclub on 3 July 1971.

He writes: "When we found him dead, he had a little foam on his nose, and some blood too, and the doctor said, 'That must be an overdose of heroin.'"

Right: so a doctor comes into contact with an illustrious corpse in a Paris nightclub, wipes the heroin bubbling out the end of his nose off, pronounces him dead and then wanders off, leaving two drug dealers who are so unfamiliar with death to carry the corpse back home and try to pull a Lazarus by putting the body in water.

Of course, Morrison's girlfriend maintains that he ODed in the bath after a night out - which would seem an odd lie to tell to cover up for two drug dealers who apparently rolled the body of Jim through the streets of Paris.

Not to mention how nobody would have seen the somewhat hefty corpse of Morrison being shunted about hither-and-dither, nor why a nightclub owner would have chosen to give the dead Morrison into the custody of two drug dealers. Nor, come to that, why the doctor who apparently saw the ODed pop star never reported that to the police, or even came forward during the inquest into his death. Nor how this unlikely story has kept hidden for thirty-five years. But we're sure all that will be explained in the book. Aliens, probably. Or something to do with Opus Dei.

The Coral also don't trust these carphone things, either

What are the Coral, like 75 years old or something? Lee Southall doesn't hold with all this internet malarkey:

"I don’t use it the internet, seriously! But the other lads in the bands do and they can get some good things off it and get your downloaded. It’s good if you want to use it in that way.

”It’s a magical thing when you go and buy and album, you get the album and you get the artwork and that. If people are just downloading it, then the magic’s lost.

“I hope it doesn’t turn into like, you go into a record shop and there’s no CDs, you’ve got to download it onto your iPod. That would piss me off."

In related news, Wagon Wheels are getting smaller.

Brace yourself: Ozzy has public policy views to share

Ozzy Osbourne - the 21st century answer to the Country Life buttermen - isnj't happy with olympic spending:

That thing is going to cost about nine billion pounds! That's a lot of money to watch some guy run around a fucking track.

"I could go to some gym and see that for free."

Equally, though, Ozzy, if we wanted to see some addled old wreck working from a mistake brief, holding forth about the incorrect use of public funds, we could go to the local Tory party committee meeting.

Not so Kool

Words to chill the blood: Kool and the Gang are going after a 'younger audience':

"We have a couple of younger people in the band. We wanted to broaden our audience.

"People do get surprised as they expect us to be a dance band, but we are more than just that. If you follow the history of Kool and the Gang, we were an instrumental band, but when disco came along we needed to switch to that kind of music to stay involved and current.

We did a rap album, but I don't think people want to hear their fathers rapping."

Quite what they're intending to do to make themselves "younger-sounding" we don't know. We just know we wish they wouldn't.

Winehouse favourite for no-show

William Hill are now taking bets on Amy Winehouse not turning up for gigs, although the odds of her not showing are so short - 2-1 on - that it's hardly worth the gamble.

Of course, with the likely real cause of Amy's "exhuastion", the odds really should just be 2-1. (We're now doing the jokes in tic-tac, by the way.)

Radio: mixed signals

Oddly, despite the claims of commercial radio operators that listeners couldn't care less where their programming comes from, Ed Richards of Ofcom has told the Radio Academy that the opposite is true:

Richards said the research showed that listeners believed the "quality would suffer if [such content] was not made and produced by local people."

"They see a local presentation as a bedrock to local content," he added.

So, Ofcom have decided that people want their local stations to be local. And how do they propose to ensure that people get the local content they want?

Erm... by changing the rules to allow less local content:
Speaking at the Cambridge Radio Festival, the Ofcom chief executive said the it had already proposed reducing the amount of local content stations were required to produce, and would look to reduce it for smaller stations.

Brilliant work, Ofcom. It's like encouraging rare species by handing out shotgun licences.

Chevron sidelined

The Pogues' Philip Chevron is taking a break from the band following the discovery of throat cancer. The band will continue to tour without him this autumn, but hope that he'll be well enough to rejoin them in 2008.

Jack Penate: Teenage scribbler

Strange tales from Glasgow, where the Sub Club claims Jack Penate turned up and graffitied all over the venue.

Penate denied doing it, although he did have a packet of marker pens, and it was his "tag" that had been scribbled all over the place. And he did turn up the next day with two hundred quid to help clean up the damage. But nothing to do with him, of course.

Dirty Harry

We yield to no man in our admiration for and love of Debbie Harry, but we're a little worried by her reaction to British Airways losing her luggage:

"I've been wandering around in dirty pants for five days. I'm going to have to go to M&S to buy some new ones. I'm not happy."

We're alarmed that it's not until she's tried backwards, forwards and inside-out that she finally breaks and decides to invest a couple of pounds in a second pair of knickers. And doesn't she have access to a sink in her hotel room?

For the later gigs, Streisand is going to do it by webcam

If we'd paid hundreds to see Barbra Streisand, and discovered that not only had she not bothered to learn the words to the songs, but was even, according to Mirror, reading her between-song banter off an autocue, we'd be feeling pretty hard done-by.

Not all married couple discuss percentages in bed

Chantelle Outtheordinaryboys, who was briefly married to Preston Outtheordinaryboys after they met on Family Fortunes, has denied that the whole thing was a publicity stunt:

"I did things in bed with Preston that you wouldn't do with someone if it was a publicity stunt."

It's not known if this includes just specific things - you know, fisting or whatever - or if she means that you'd have to be really, really committed to something to have sex with Preston at all.

North Korea: Not all bad, then

Of course, we realise that the North Korea ban on karaoke is actually a worrying sign of an already-isolated people being taken further from the rest of the world and not a law passed on the basis of artistic merit.

On the other hand: a nation without a single karaoke bar. Makes the smoking ban look like we have a lack of ambition, doesn't it?

This band called Steps/ they all look like they're holiday reps

We like to think it's the Verve comeback which has finally placed a full-blown Steps reunion back on the pop agenda, although in our hearts we know the "offer" Lee from Steps (but not H from Steps) have had to get back together is probably down to a magician spraining his wrist and leaving a gap on a Pontins show this summer.

Even Victoria Newton can't work up much interest in the story:

Lee confirmed he keeps in touch with his former bandmates — except IAN ‘H’ WATKINS — and that they’ve been approached with an offer.

To join my campaign to stop this possible atrocity to eardrums, email your thoughts to the following address, with the subject “Stop Steps”.

She couldn't even be arsed to get her "computer boffins" to produce a "how they might look" photoshopage, or even have a special logo put together. Even although it would only have been a picture of H with a line through it. And "email your thoughts"? Not so much as a direction to at least shape those thoughts in any direction. It's like she started writing the article and the paperclip popped up saying "it looks like you're writing a brief piece on the reunion of a pop group..."

Gonna rip up your photographs

This is one of the more offy parts of the on-off Moss/Doherty tragedy, then: Kate has been seen burning a collection of poems, letters and songs that Pete had created. To her, they represent memories of a philandering junkie who let her down - although to Orion publishing they represented the heart of their 2009 non-fiction list.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bookmarks: Some other stuff to read on the web

Nanci Griffith is being blocked by George Bush, she tells IC Birmingham:

"I haven't been able to write anything for two years. I have been so angry with my president and the war in Iraq."

Despite her 'fan club' including the legendary Bob Dylan, Nanci is not tempted to pursue the protest song route when it comes to Iraq.

"For me, I have never been the kind of person to write in anger."

David Byrne goes to the Stasi Museum in Berlin:
Maybe the intent was NOT to hide this surveillance gear too well, the idea possibly being to make people aware they were being looked at and listened to. If you’re not aware you’re being observed then you won't live in fear, so what’s the point? Sometimes buildings here in the U.S. put up fake surveillance cameras in the hopes of discouraging perps. Of course, it wasn’t all just nutty surveillance stuff — people’s lives were ruined, destroyed, their careers came to a dead end at the least suspicion, there were prison terms and torture without stated reason (where have I heard that one before?) and information and culture was heavily censored. And the food wasn’t that great, either.

The Guardian meets with Pearl Spam out of Powder, as she publishes her memoirs:
One thing she is most definitely not concerned about is the reaction of her old friends to the book - which, I can assure you, is a surprisingly compulsive read. Celebrities, particularly the celebrities with whom Lowe was hanging around, tend to be very visible in their public lives but keep their private lives protectively closeted. And although Lowe carefully avoids naming individuals - other than listing at one point that her crowd included Kate Moss, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Liam Gallagher, Jonny Lee Miller and Patsy Kensit - the book does convey just how central drugs were to her gang. "There was a general belief in our world that you couldn't have fun unless you were slightly out of it," she writes. There are anecdotes about group dinners at the Ivy, with Lowe dashing off mid-meal in someone's chauffeured car to go and buy cocaine for the group. "You're my best friend," one gushes when she returns.

Lindsay Lohan: Planning to try Campbell's diaries next

Jana K drops us a welcome line drawing our attention to the surprising post-rehab behaviour of Lindsay Lohan:

Lohan added that she always carries around 'The Prince'.

"I was going out with someone and they said I should read Machiavelli and I was like, 'nah', and then I was, 'Ok, I'll read it' and now it is always with me," she added.

It might seem odd that Lindsay likes The Prince so much, but she really does. Although she did have a little cry when Dumbledore was killed.

Commercial radio want a slice of the national pie

James P emails with the latest from commercial radio's attempts to try and shore up their collapsing world:
The top boss at the Radio Centre has unveiled
his latest tactic in the War on the BBC; If you can't beat them, ask them to

Chief executive Andrew Harrison wants the BBC to share the rights to big
events like the Diana concert with commercial radio rivals. He says
"National events like the 2012 Olympics or the Concert for Diana deserve
local and national coverage. Commercial and BBC". Quite why a concert in
Wembley would need local coverage on Radio Broadland, I'm not sure. Unless
it'll be the same sort of 'local' programming they're used to, i.e. one
broadcast syndicated to every local station in the country, which kind of
defeats the object of 'local coverage' in the first place.

He makes an interesting threat to back this up; "It's nonsense to expect
commercial organisations and their shareholders to continue to invest in
digital platforms without a coherent industry strategy and without an
end-game to get a return on that investment". In other words, "Nice DAB
platform you've got there... Be a pity if it became... Obsolete..."

I'm not convinced this is a good idea. Would the people listening to these
events really want two lots of coverage; One from an experienced
broadcaster, and one punctuated with adverts for Chatteris Windows and
Blinds every fifteen minutes? And would we really need twice as many
stations (or more) on our dials bringing us the same live footage of Johnny
Borrell telling us to boil less water?

Anyhow, Harrison makes the point that the commercial radio business model
was "close to breaking point", up against a "dominant, well-fed and in many
ways unassailable" BBC. Frustratingly, he assumes that the reason commercial
radio is getting beaten is because it can't spend one day a year beaming big
events to its dwindling listenership. He doesn't seem interested in looking
at whether it could be more to do with repetitive playlists, endless
commercials and an apparent loathing of being in the actual area to which
the station broadcasts.

What's interesting about this is that this was commercial radio's big idea two years back as well - there was a small flurry of networked programming in 2005 (the Tsunami fundraiser Radio Aid, the election special Leaders Live and Live8) but the impetus withered and, frankly, there's not been much evidence since of Red Rose listeners pushing for a hook-up with the Smooth FM audience. Oddly enough, on Saturday we were looking for Live Earth coverage on Horizon FM (we were heading off to eat a whole baked cheese) and were a little surprised to discover nothing there. Although Harrison seems to be suggesting that the BBC bullies the little guys out the way, this doesn't seem to be the case - Radio 2 didn't pick up with Wembley until the middle of the evening. The lack of link-ups seems to be as much down to none of the individual stations being that arsed than the BBC greedily hoovering up the rights.

French kicked off Sussex airwaves

For a long time now, Brightonians have enjoyed a slightly-dodgy rebraadcast of French station FIP thanks to one enterprising resident and a small transmitter. Now, though, about ten years of blind-eyes and official unconcern have come to an end, thanks to a single man from Hove, actually. Iain Smith bubbled the deal to Ofcom, forcing them to act as a complaint had been made. His reason?

"[J]ust make sure it wasn’t unfairly competing with properly licensed stations.”

How public spirited of him. Because, of course, anyone who tuned into a French station being rebroadcast in Brighton will now, obviously, turn straight to Southern FM instead.

Downloads come together

Digital Music Group and The Orchard have announced plans to merge, creating a slightly larger company which acts as a middleman between labels and download stores. It's bringing together back episodes of The Cosby Show with Fierce Panda, which can surely only be a thing. Possibly a good thing.

Mills was assaulted - verdict

Brighton Magistrates have found Jay Kaycappa guilty of assaulting Heather Mills in a city underpass last July. The Evening Argus reports:

Father of three Kaycappa, of The Hurdles, Fareham, Hampshire, was also convicted of assaulting Ms Mills-McCartney's friend Mark Payne the following evening.

The freelance photographer shook his head in the dock after magistrates convicted him of both assault charges.

In other news that will bring a glow to Heather's cheeks, BBC One is planning to pad out its lighter schedules this summer by lobbing out the last series of Dancing With The Stars on Sunday afternoons. We hope that someone explains to Victoria Newton that it's not live, otherwise we'll be in for 'get Mucca out' headlines for the next few weeks.

Kanye's Knievel case lands gently

The legal spattage sparked when Kanye West spoofed Evel Knievel in the video for Touch The Sky seems to be coming to an end: the pair have agreed to see a mediator rather than have a dignity-sapping public court hearing.

What the pop papers say: Mini-NME

We make this the fourth, or is it fifth, redesign of Conor McNicholas' reign as NME editor - he introduces the new look issue with a letter signed "The Editor", and there are two notable things from the off: the first is that it's even smaller, as the paper continues to shrink like Doctor Who on the wrong end of a laser screwdriver. It can now hide, comfortably, behind Rolling Stone.

The other noteworthy point is that it's not as disastrous as early reports had made it sound - rather than a further evisceration of content, this relaunch is more about rationalising the content. It looks quite bitty, but then the content has been bitty for a while; now, at least, it's organised like a professional buffet instead of a fumbled picnic basket.

It'll be interesting to see what it's like when it doesn't have the T in the Park, Oxegen and Live Earth coverage to give its front half some shape - there's clearly a firming up of the attempt to make photography one of the reasons for people to buy the paper (although a cover splash for "free aerial photo of T in the Park" pushes it a bit - that's a picture on an ordinary page, then, is it?) and the weekend festivals have offered a lot of stuff to fill those slots; quite how successful that'll be during the soggy-arse end of November remains to be seen.

If it's good news for photographers, it's not quite so good news for the writers - the longest article is the Kate Nash piece, there's a half-article on Bonde De Role, but that's as deep as it gets. Karen O is interviewed by readers via NME's MySpace - where you can go to put questions for The Cribs next week. As if apparently aware that sending traffic to a rival publisher's website is probably not the smartest move, you're then instructed to "keep checking to see if your question has been picked". The O interview is trailed as being "her weirdest ever", but it's not especially weird, the odd question about 'what sort of beard would you have' aside: it's all 'how would you like to die' and 'do you believe in god'? Its as weird as the Sunday Correspondent Questionnaire and nowhere near as left-field as the Smash Hits' regular quizzings.

Conor pledges "more album reviews" in his intro, which is managed by giving fifty words to a dozen records - we can figure out why Stephanie Dosen's album A Lily For The Spectre is worth eight marks, but not only a few handfull of words. The reviews are now shorter than the little puffs they used to give when they had a round-up of the best albums from the previous month.

If they needed more space to allow longer album reviews, they could free up a whole page by dropping the "reader's photos" page as quickly as they introduced it - the old "this is me with the drummer from Cud" bar has now been dropped still further, and we're treated to a full cover of someone who has had Mani write on their shoe, and some bloke in a shop "dressed as a glam rocker" (he isn't.) It's like that pointless "pleased to meet you" column which the Guardian does on Saturdays and nobody reads, only out of focus.

The other big problem with this iteration of the NME is that it doesn't have a clue what it is anymore. There's Kate and Karen, but also New Order and Morrissey bits; there's a full page marking The Verve's reunion, which is written with the apparent assumption that people might have heard of Ashcroft, but know little of him (we should point out that the 'full page' is mainly a photograph). So the new target reader seems to be someone who'd be worried about Mozzer retiring and how faithful the Joy Division movie is, but who doesn't know about the Mad Richard years. Someone who'd buy a magazine because there's The View on the cover, but not minding there's only a brief review about them inside. A person who won't count the advertising pages ratio - about 40%, as it turns out.

The revamp has gone a long way to properly organizing the magazine the NME has become, but the big worry has to be that it now doesn't look like a publication that anyone would have come up with if they'd been starting from scatch.

Happy Mondays buying drugs

Tony Wilson's cancer is under control - which is good news - but he believes its down to a drug called Sutent. That's bad news, because until its given formal approval, it's down to individual health authorities if they want to fund it or not. And Wilson's local health authority don't pay.

So for the next eighteen months, Wilson is having to fund the £3,500 a month cost of the drug himself. Music industry friends - including the Mondays - are rallying round:

Mr Wilson said his friends had been very generous and he was lucky to have the fund, "but some people needing these drugs are cashing in their life savings, some are selling their homes".

Nathan McGough, the former manager of the Mondays, teamed up with Elliot Rashman, the band's current manager, to set up the fund after they heard about Mr Wilson's plight.

Now, there's a cause worth supporting. Wilson is probably the only bloke who hasn't made a fortune out of the Manchester music scene - or, at least, the only person who should have done who didn't.

Michael's run-on racks up

George Michael's inability to finish on-time has cost him a pretty penny; his gig launching Wembley stadium finished thirteen minutes after the agreed closedown point, for which michale has had to cough up a fine for at the rate of ten grand a minute - more, even, than the waiting charge on a London black cab.

George, apparently, doesn't mind a bit:

"Wembley has strict rules that gigs must finish at an agreed time or face a GBP10,000 fine for each minute they continue. George slipped two extra songs into his set and racked up a huge bill. He was enjoying himself so much he didn't care."

It's not known how many of the audience were enjoying themselves so much they were prepared to pay the babysitters for the overrun.

Mutya warms-up Sugababes leftovers

Amelle out of the Sugababes wrote a song which she thought her band should record. The management, however, thought otherwise, and passed the ropey track on to the record company, who, in turn, gave it to - what larks - Mutya to record instead.

Buena didn't see the funny side of this, and so now the track is going out with a made-up name on the writer's credits. Although since everyone knows about it now, it hardly seems to have been worth all the effort.

Six attempts at Kevin Bacon

We can't figure out why they're bothering, but Footlose - the film that made Kevin Bacon, although only into a punchline - is about to be remade. As a musical.

In similar slightly-tangential music-related movie news, there's to be a third instalment of Bill and Ted. Without either of them:

The Times reports both Winter and Reeves were interested in reprising their roles, but the latter's agent suggested it could ruin the Matrix star's career.

Can't do much more harm than the third Matrix film, surely? And we're at a loss as to why Alex Winter isn't taking part - after all, it's unlikely his acting work - including voicing the King of the Mole Men in a cartoon and, erm, his uncredited appearance as a "subway passenger" in 1999's Fever would be set back by appearing in a movie where he would have been on-screen for a little longer.

(We know, by the way, that he did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff for Fever. We don't know anyone who's ever seen it, mind.)

Hetfield in possession of offensive beard

Life on the frontline of the war on terror: It's being reported by that James Hetfield was detained at Luton Airport for having a "Taliban-style" beard.

Although, actually, he was not given any explanation as to why he was stopped for questioning, and it's only his band mates who have decided it was because of the beard. What surprised us, though, is that Metallica were flying in through Luton in the first place. Truly, the Lorraine Chases of heavy metal.

Venuewatch: Palais burns

The Palace club in St Kilda has gone up in flames, just weeks after protests against plans to redevelop the ground it stands on. The local council - who had hoped to keep the venue functioning for live music for another twelve months - are now likely to sanction the early demolition of the building.

It's like William Hickey battling Nigel Dempster

They were always arguing in print about who had the first "scoop" on some story so far removed from the realms of interest, too. This morning, the 3AM Girls find room in their public service to provide a 'nyahnyahnyah' bit:

OH dear. Another boob from our low-rent "rivals". Last week, when we revealed P Diddy and Kim Porter's split they denied it, saying they had got him out of bed to "kill the rumour".

Sadly for the ill-informed team, Diddy's rep Keesha Johnson has confirmed they are no longer an item. Oops.


So, what's the big stories on 3AM today?
someone has created a fake Liam Gallagher profile on Facebook, and a photo of Rachel Stevens kissing Alex Leigh - woman kisses boyfriend shock - which was on the Daily Mail website yesterday lunchtime and they haven't even put on the Mirror site. Well done, everybody.

Lights, camera, no Beckham

Victoria Beckham has promised us all she won't try and make it in the movies:

Laughing as she recalled her one and only movie, Victoria said: “Have you seen Spice World? I don’t think I’m that good at acting.”

But you design rubbish trousers and can't sing, but that hasn't stopped you muscling your way into those two industries.

The "I can't act" self-awareness must be making the Ugly Betty producers a little jumpy, as they've just lined up a guest appearance by the woman in their show, The trouble is, she thinks this doesn't count as acting:
She was particular about not launching herself as an actress because she is aware that she isn't one. That's why she wants to play herself, so she doesn't have to act.

Um... she does realise that playing yourself is probably harder than playing somebody else, as if you're unconvincing as yourself it looks terrible (as anyone who heard John Peel in The Archers would agree - one of the most familiar voices on British radio, and he didn't sound like John Peel at all. They'd have been better off getting the bloke who did him on The Young Dentists in.)

Pete Doherty offered help

We wonder if there was a second plan to fill a page on Sun Money if they hadn't gone with how Pete Doherty can sort out his finances instead.

This piece, contributed by Tim Heming, worries about how Pete can get back on his feet now that Kate has kicked him out:

What a babySHAMBLES!

We love the headline. Because it's like Heming doesn't realise that the "shambles" bit of the band's name is there as Shambles. The capitalisation makes it look like a bloke who's just seen the dinosaurs in a magic-eye picture and are amazed to find them there.
The Babyshambles singer reportedly had to stay in a trailer park. He really is up the bracket.

Eh? He really is in the face?
Sticks and stones won’t break his bones, but smoking could kill him. It doesn’t help his cashflow and Pete could save nearly £2,000 instantly by kicking the habit.

He could save two grand instantly? Not over the course of a year? Either Pete has about 400 packets of fags on his person at any time, or this doesn't quite add up. Somewhat coyly, Tim doesn't make any suggestion about, ooh, other expensive habits which Pete could drop to keep a few quid in his back pocket.
Removal men also took six acoustic guitars, an accordion and an upright piano from Kate’s house when he was kicked out. We reckon there’s a good £3,500 to be made just from selling his favourite musical instruments.

Apart from seriously underestimating the value of the instruments, what sort of financial advisor would turn to anyone in hard times, and say "the best thing to do is sell the tools of your trade?"
He may not live in Pentonville yet – but there is a prison near the up-and-coming London neighbourhood and property prices are still reasonable.

If Pete’s going to have any chance of getting a mortgage on a new home, it’s not a bad place to start.

Now, there's a criteria that Kirstie and Phil haven't had to work with yet - "I want something with three bedrooms, a large garden, an outhouse for my pottery hobby I plan to turn into an ill-fated business and, ooh, it must be near a prison."

But hang on a moment - the Sun's best advice is that Doherty gets a mortgage? And how did they describe his position before they made him flog off his means of income?
The whole world may have been Pete’s playground in recent times, but with no home, no gigs, a jail tour around the corner and no über-cool (and über-rich) girlfriend to rely on...

So, no collateral, no regular income, the possibilty of being unable to earn in the near future: where does the Sun think he's going to find someone who'd lend him enough for a £200,000 single bed flat based on their assessment of his financial position?

Dreaming is free

The coming together of two of the creeping weeds choking theatre ("two of the great themes of modern theatre") as the play-adpated-from-a-well-known-movie meets the musical-based-on-back-catalogue, as someone pokes Blondie songs into Desperately Seeking Susan. Debbie Harry's even written a single new song to go with the old songs, which makes it even more like a greatest hits collection.

Coming next week: Romancing The Stone, with Carter USM songs dropped in at random points.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pink won't dip pen for Britney

Pink has turned down the chance to throw a song down the long, bleak tunnel which is Britney Spear's future career on the grounds that Britney is entertaining - although that might be being a bit overkind:

"Not because I don't like (Spears) - I do think she's crazy enough to do one of my songs. But it's very hard for me to let go of my songs and the only people I write for are real singers - not that she's not a real singer, but she's more of an entertainer. "When I mean real singers, I mean the likes of Lauryn Hill, Faith Hill - and I'd write for Amy Winehouse, because you need serious attitude to carry off the dumb stuff I write about."

In other words, we think: Britney is doing too much rehab.

Beckham gets to grips with Scientology

Victoria Beckham has publicly defended cult members Tom Cruise and Tom Cruise's wife-unit with a measured explanation of the role of Scientology in their lives:

"There's been so much made of the Scientology, the this, the that.

"They are genuinely lovely people. Wonderful family. They do their thing. We do our thing. They are a wonderful family."

So, there you are, then - people just make too much of Tom's public support for a cult and the this. And way, way too much of the that. "The that" is presumably his attitude towards psychiatry.


Mew's Half The World Is Watching Me was released in a limited edition in 2000, and hasn't been made available since. Until now: it's going to become slightly less rare with them making it slightly available, through their own Evil Office label.

Lettuce against Letterman: Morrissey fans fight Dave

You know, there used to be a belief that Smiths fans had no sense of humour whatsoever. That's something that's long been laid to... oh, hang on: Morrissey fans are calling for a boycott of the Late Show with Letterman because he did a joke with some spare ribs when Morrissey was on:

Early in the show, David Letterman was inexplicably handed a plate of spare ribs. Clearly perplexed, he asked why. His chortling producer responded, "It's a mistake."


Both Congressman Kucinich and Morrissey are vegetarians... a choice that is frequently met with derision, defensiveness and open hostility. This appeared to have been the case on the Letterman show. After the initial "confusion", Letterman set the plate of ribs aside. Then, upon returning from the commercial break, viewers watched Letterman partaking in the ribs and, later, offering them to audience members, who gleefully gnawed away at them for the cameras. Constant references to the ribs were made throughout the show (as well as an odd request for guest Shia LaBoeuf to translate his last name, which is French for "the beef"), though none of this took place while the vegetarian guests were onstage.

Now, I've not eaten meat in nearly twenty years, and I'm not entirely sure what the point of this boycoot is - it seems that the rib thing was merely a gag based on Shia LaBoeuf's name and had nothing to do with Mozzer (or Kucinich); while Morrissey might not like meat, it's not as if he's allergic to it or anything and since the joke wasn't intended as jibe at him, and he didn't have the meat put in his pants or thrown or at him, what's the problem?

Either you object to the very idea of meat being shown on television - in which case there are far better places to start your campaign (how about kids TV ads, for example?) or... maybe it is Morrissey fans do still over-react from time to time.

After all: if Stephen was that upset, to use his own words, he could have just walked away, couldn't he?

Designobit: Randy Parker Hubbard

Randy Parker Hubbard, the stepson of KRS One, has been found dead at his Fulton County home. Hubbard, a graphic designer, had been fighting depression for a long time; it is believed he took his own life.

Stars plug leak

Stars next album, In Our Bedroom After The War, had been due to get a unified release in September. However, somewhere along the line of prereleasing stuff to radio, journalists and passers-by, the record wound up online. Rather than spend time fretting and issuing blood threats, the band have just brought forward the digital download release date. You wonder if there might be some sort of, you know, lesson there.

Noel: The uninvited guest

For years now, Noel Gallagher has defended his rush to have drinks with the Prime Minister as having been what anyone would do if they were invited by Blair:

Gallagher subsequently said that 'when the fookin' Prime Minister [sends you an invite], fookin' 'ell, you've got to go."

Hmm. Fair enough, perhaps.

Only now, though, it turns out that the fookin' Prime Minister didn't fookin invite him at all. We have Alistair Campbell's diaries to thank for this:
"TB was worried that Noel Gallagher was coming to the reception tomorrow. He said he had no idea he had been invited," wrote Campbell. "TB felt he was bound to do something crazy. I spoke to Alan McGee and said can we be assured he would behave.

"Alan said he would make sure he did. He said if we had invited Liam, it might have been different.

"Gallagher arrived with his wife Meg, McGee and his girlfriend. Cherie met them and took them upstairs to see Kathryn and Nicky, who was pretty gobsmacked when Gallagher walked in.

"He said he thought Number 10 was 'tops', said he couldn't believe that there was an ironing board in there."

So, rather than a request from the PM's office, Noel got an invitation Blair wouldn't even have sent. It doesn't make up for Hutton, but at least this makes us like Ali a little bit more.

But blimey, how would you cope with the smoking ban at a party like that now, eh? How... how...

Brum do: Lauryn Hill disappoints

We're a little surprised at the clamour of disapproval from so many Lauren Hill fans at her ropey performance in Birmingham yesterday evening:

“I witnessed and experienced a first last night – the complete and utter demise of a personal hero and the worst gig of my life.

“Not only did the woman not grace the stage until 10.30 - the venue to close at 11.00 – providing the good value of about £5 per 5 minutes of music! But she looked like a cracked out, mad old bag lady that you make considerable efforts to cross the street to avoid. We are trying to get our money back for this complete and utter farce.”

but, if Lauryn Hill is your hero, surely you'd be aware that buying tickets for one of her gigs isn't even a lottery. You know she'll turn up late, looking like Pete Doherty dressed as Kate Moss, sing terribly and wobble off after ten minutes or so. It's a little like complaining that Mark E Smith has turned up drunk.

T in the Park 2008 sells out

Or at least the earlybird tickets have all gone: 40,000 gone in just over an hour.

It's curious that T are able to flog their tickets twelve months in advance, and yet there's no problems with servers melting down, or any on-selling to an extent that requires a national panic and questions in the house. Funny, that.

Nurse with wounded air

The plans of George Michael to thank medical staff for the care his mother got by providing free tickets to nurses so they could attend his gigs has run into trouble: Nurses are claiming that the tickets never got out of the offices:

The pop star gave 400 to Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and 620 to Plymouth Primary Care Trust for his city gig on June 19.

But one nurse said: "Admin snatched hundreds."

The Trusts replied that Michael, who was saying thank-you for the medical care his mum got before her 1997 death, requested the tickets "go to all staff".

Perhaps that's the case. We wonder, though, how many found their way to the cleaners, in that case.

Macca: Linda's sausages will save the planet

Paul McCartney has called for everyone to go vegetarian to save the planet:

"Livestock farming is one of the biggest destroyers of the planet.

"When you see the Amazon being cut down for hamburger cattle, that's pretty obvious.

"And it's all done in the name of something that benefits humans, when in fact it's the opposite. It's all about attitudes, no one thinks they're the one who has to change."

It's not immediately clear which of his several houses McCartney was speaking from.

Private Eye need an I-My column

It's interesting that nobody actually wanted to put their byline to the advert-dressed-as-news story in The Sun today. At a time when most of the media can't start typing without adding the word "Facebook", the Sun is excited about MySpace:

MORE than 10 million people in the UK are regularly using MySpace.

Fascinating stuff, eh? But this really is news, and in no way an attempt to try and balance out last night's bad PR for the Sun's sister when Trevor McDonald's Nighty Night show reopened the story about the teenage party advertised on MySpace which got out of hand. "Look, look... it's not like on Tonight With Trevor McDonald at all..."
The most popular page is one dedicated to Project (Red), the global fund to fight Aids launched by Bono.

See? How good they all are.
The top 10 MySpace profiles in the UK are:

1. Project (Red)
2. Gorillaz
3. Bullet For My Valentine
4. Imogen Heap
5. Lily Allen
6. Coldplay
7. Find Madeleine
8. Oasis
9. Lost Prophets
10. James Blunt

Good lord. What a dull place they've managed to make MySpace sound - although can Imogen Heap's showing be right?

Exhaust fumes

Amy Winehouse's habit of ringing in "exhausted" rather than turning up for gigs in the North has spawned a special sort of stalking, with Victoria Newton calling for her readers to send in sightings of Winehouse drinking.

It's all good sport, although as Newton reported on Saturday that Winehouse's friends are increasingly worried about her, and it looks increasingly like the woman has quite a serious problem, there's something slightly unsettling about suggesting that people should be rushing to jab cameraphones in her face. There's obviously questions about the line that her management are feeding the fans she's letting down, but setting Sun readers on her like hounds on a fox isn't really a satisfying answer.

Physical sales continues gentle decline

CD sales are down 10 per cent compared with this time last year, but - surprisingly - record shops are quite chipper about this:

The Entertainment Retailers Association, which represents chains like HMV and Virgin alongside independent record shops, said the decline in CD sales was not a cause for panic.

"To be honest these figures are much better than we had feared," said the organisation's co-chairman, Jim Batchelor.

"The release schedule in the first half of this year was very slow with few big acts delivering albums.

"The fact that, in spite of it all, we're still selling around 10m albums a month shows the resilience of demand."

Could it be that - having made themselves look more than a little ridiculous over the release of the Prince album through the Mail On Sunday, ERA are trying to behave with a little more dignity in public? Still, it's a nice change to see an old music industry body able to adjust to their reduced circumstances without demanding action to shore up the falling sky.

Meanwhile, though:
Paul Williams of Music Week magazine said: "Whether that's by getting revenue coming from artists' concerts, by merchandising, or other ways, they're having to tap into the fact that music is now more popular than ever before but record sales themselves are falling."

We're not sure that you could prove that "music is now more popular than ever before" - the inability of any major TV network to generate an audience for a regular music programme in prime time; the low viewing figures for Live Earth; the dwindling interest in the charts - all of this might suggest that music, while not in trouble, isn't quite as popular as it has been.

But even the BPI are quite upbeat:
Adam White of Universal Music] said that while the industry is experiencing increased pressure, major companies like Universal have to focus on developing unique artists and "imaginative ways to reach the consumer".

He pointed to recent success stories Amy Winehouse, whose Back To Black is the biggest-selling album this year in the UK, and Take That, who sold one million copies of their Beautiful World CD in less than a month.

"To some extent, if you give the people what they want, they will respond," he added.

Although, of course, music is at its best when it's giving you what you didn't know you needed. But you wouldn't look to a major for that.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Labels finally crack unrippable CD

After all this time, Reprise have finally come up with a review CD which simply can't be ripped by journalists. Or anyone else.

The downside is it's totally unplayable:

So in the 11 years or so that I've been writing, I've seldom had problems with Copy Protected CDs. Even in the wake of the new Watermarking system that labels have put in place, I've found ways around them so I could begin to listen to the discs for review. About a week and a half ago, I received a promo of the new Eisley album, "Combinations," which was watermarked. I didn't really see this as a problem since my promo copy of their debut, "Room Noises," was also watermarked and I was actually able to upload the batch onto my iTunes.

This morning, I decided to listen to "Combinations," so I brought in my archaic portable CD player, just in case it didn't work on my computer (it didn't). And guess what? The stupid CD doesn't play in that either. As you may have seen in a previous post, watermarked discs also don't play in DVD players and car audio systems. So I ask you, Reprise/Warner Brothers, "Where am I supposed to listen to this CD that you want me to review?"

If we were Chasing Coolness, we'd not have admitted ripping the last album - doubtless Reprise will be down to cut out the piece of his mind where he stores the memory of listening to it.

Beyonce fans burned

More pyrotechnic trouble from US gigs: Beyonce's show-opening fireworks fell into the audience at St Louis, sending two fans to hospital. In a bid to head off liability lawsuits ("in a gesture of concern") Beyonce spent forty-five minutes visiting them while they received treatment, repors E!.

Jane suck

What's the opposite of a flurry of launches? Because that's what's been happening in the US recently, as first Teen People, then Elle Girl and now Jane Magazine getting shuttered.

Conde Nast have been struggling to find a direction for the magazine for a couple of years; it's original mix of pop culture and accessible fashion had long since been given one New Coke reworking after another. Still, as Pop Candy points out, there's still always Bust.

We know how Velvet Revolver feel

Who knew that even Velvet Revolver find themselves tiresome? Duff McKagan says it's so:

"We had come off the road after touring for 18 months. I don't care who you are, if you're five guys on the road that long you are going to get sick of each other.

"So we took some time off and it was hard getting started again. We don't talk a lot."

Good lord, poor lamb. We find five minutes of Velvet Revolver more than enough; making through 18 months must take either superhuman control or bovine levels of disassociation.

Musicmatch users up for a fight

Musicmatch - one of the most venerable music services on the net - is about to disappear, as current owners Yahoo want to force all users to "upgrade" to Yahoo Jukebox.

That's upgrade as in move downwards, of course, and Musicmatch subscribers aren't happy. There's talk of a class action suit, not least because, as Yahoo's FAQs hint, the new service lacks some of Musicmatch's functionality:

What if I choose not to do this migration process? Can I stay with Musicmatch?

Musicmatch services will be discontinued at some point in the future. Many of the features you have now with Musicmatch are offered with Yahoo! Music, as well as new ones, plus a much larger library of music.

Emphasis added.

Hutz signs on for more work with Madonna

As if blowing out T in the Park in order for three minutes flunkeying to Madonna wasn't enough, Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello has picked up a bit more work from Madge: he's got a bit in Filth and Wisdom. Hutz loves working with Madonna:

"I think [Madonna] was fantastic. She's such a dynamic force. You can always measure a director by how specific he is or she is, and she was very specific.

"She had very energetic visions but at the same time there was a lot of room for me to do my own thing," he told Billboard.

"It was super fun and perfectly respectable, and it ended up being quite a collaborative project."

So, simultaneously, she's a collaborative director who has very specific ideas about what she wants. Surprising, but then since she can churn out the same CO2 as 1000 other people and be an eco warrior at the same time, who knows what other paradoxes she can power?

Did Clay run to the FBI because he got shoved?

Somehow, the FBI got themselves involved in a spat between Clay Aiken - that's American for "Gareth Gates" - and a woman during a flight to Oklahoma. It seems Aiken had shoved his feet on a woman's armrest; when she pointed out how boorish that was, a dispute occurred which ended up with Clay getting gently shoved and the FBI called to meet the plane.

It's good to know that the worst security threat you face in American airspace is gameshow losers behaving like they own the joint. This all sounds rather economy class, doesn't it?

Chrissie Hynde: We suspect she's not making the food

A few years ago, Chrissie Hynde got herself in trouble when she suggested firebombing McDonalds. Let's hope that Ronald doesn't take the chance for revenge now that Hynde is opening a restaurant in Akron, Ohio:

The long-time animal rights activist will be nixing all meat off the menu as VegeTerranean opens its doors on September 15 with a free performance by Hynde (backed by an acoustic act) followed by the grand opening of the Mediterranean/vegetarian digs. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductee will partner up with Dan Duplain, owner of the Fedeli restaurant, to keep the restaurant running while she is at her home in London.

That's lucky, otherwise it would be a bit of commute.

HMV realises unable to beat them; join them

Last week, HMV was one of a bunch of record shops wailing about plans by Prince to give away his new album with copies of the Mail On Sunday - "absolutely nuts" was HMV chief eexcutive Simon Fox's response.

This week, they've decided to turn themselves into a newsagent and flog copies of the paper instead.

Virgin are livid:

HMV's move was attacked today by rival Virgin Megastores, which "expressed disbelief" at the company's decision.

"We're stunned that HMV has decided to take what appears to be a complete U-turn on their stance towards covermounts and particularly in this case, as only a week ago they were so vocal about the damage it will cause," said Simon Douglas, Virgin Retail managing director. "Simon Fox [HMV chief executive] labelled the Mail on Sunday deal as 'devaluing music' and 'absolute madness', now they appear to have joined forces to sell more copies of the very same paper," Mr Douglas added.

"It's not only retailers that suffer; the public will suffer in the long term by restricting choice on the high street. Of course people will take a free CD by a platinum-selling artist like Prince but you only need to look at what's happened to Fopp going into administration to get an idea of the potential long-term impact."

We're surprised to hear the impact of the Prince deal was so enormous that it managed to bring Fopp to its knees a month before it even happened, but those, we guess, are the apocalyptic forces we're dealing with here.

To be honest, we don't quite see why HMV is bothering - it's not like people are going to go out their way to buy the paper at HMV - "we could stroll into the village and get the paper, but instead let's drive to town and fight our way through the crowd of goths to get it"; they may pick up a few sales from people impulse-buying the paper at the checkouts, but we're not sure how many of HMV's customer base would be interested enough in Prince to buy the Mail On Sunday on a whim. Still, it's nice to see yet more consistent and joined-up policy thinking in the music industry.

The police sent in to stop Prince

Prince's Minnesota gig at the weekend was halted when police went in and asked him to let the people go to sleep. Which we mention only in the hope that, having had police stop a Prince gig, the universe will balance this by having Charles Windsor march on stage and demand Sting and his reunited bleachblonds stop their racket, too.

They did get Al Capone for tax evasion

Pete Doherty's seeming ability to keep himself out of jail might be about to desert him, as he's pushed the police a little too far this time:

Smoking during his T in the Park set:

Councillor Alan Grant, convener of the Perth and Kinross Council environment committee, said Doherty could face prosecution.

He said: "The point of the legislation is to protect the public's health and I would expect performers not to smoke on stage, though where the stage is open it is a moot point.

"The idea is not to put other people's health at risk and I am afraid in these circumstances Mr Doherty would be doing so."

He might just get away with it, though: from the looks of Scotland On Sunday's report, he gave a cunning false name to police.

Get a date with Adam Levine

Obviously, not with him, as who'd want that? No, the Maroon Five singer has given his tips to American teens about how to get a date:

"Say or do something that's out of the ordinary... It's not about what perfume you're wearing or if your shoes are cute. If you do something with purpose that is different than what everybody else does, then it makes you stand out."

Of course, coming from a man whose band dribbles out a dirge so conservative even David Cameron's big tent would find it difficult to contain it, the advice to "stand out" is strange - and, of course, what could be better advice to teens who are already so badly in need of advice about how to get a date that they're turning to him that acting out of the ordinary is a great idea. Oh, yes, American High Schools are known for their tender embrace of the unusual, the quirky, the other, aren't they?

Paolo Nutini: A Leon Rosselson for our times

Paolo Nutini is not a happy man. Personally, if we'd managed to get so many glowing column inches despite a fairly slight talent, we'd figure the press has given us more than an even break, but Nutini feels somewhat hard done by, and has decided the best way to express his anger at a certain tabloid is to write a song about it.

You'd have thought he'd have learned by now that isn't his metier - he'd have been better off making an angry clay pot, or doodling on a pad by the telephone. But, no, song it was - titled The Sun Can Kiss My Ass:

They say things that are meant to bring you down
they put you up on your high horse and rock you til you're down
They say I hate the Pope and that I love dope
These things are meant to bring me down but The Sun can kiss my ass

We seem to have missed the coverage of Nutini's alleged marijuana-fuelled anti-Papist behaviour, but it's duly noted; we're more worried by Nutini's poor grasp of the English language, confusing "a pedestal" with a "high horse". Is it even possible for someone to put another person on a high-horse?

And, if he isn't even bovvered, why write a ditty about it?

Chris Evans and Shed Seven will save the UK music scene

Chris Evans, of course, is back on radio these days, and now - making Helen Love's Long Live The UK Music Scene a contemporary commentary once more - Shed Seven are getting back together.

Like the Spice Girls, of course, they're doing it for the fans:

[Rick] Witter said: "We have almost constantly been asked by the loyal shed heads to reform for a few gigs since the split, but we felt we needed a well earned break.

"However, after four years we feel that going out for a two week tour, playing all the hits without any outside pressure will be a great way to end 2007, plus having Paul back in the line up for the first time in eight years will make it extra special. See you down the front."

The dates:
Aberdeen Music Hall – November 27
Inverness Ironworks - 28
Glasgow Barrowlands - 29
Newcastle Academy – December 1
Liverpool Academy - 2
Nottingham Rock City - 3
Sheffield Leadmill - 4
Birmingham Academy - 6
Manchester Academy - 7
Leeds Met Uni - 8
Norwich UEA - 10
Oxford Academy - 11
Portsmouth Pyramid - 12
London Shepherd’s Bush Empire - 14

Pleas to cool global warming fail to set world alight

The audience figures for Live Earth in the UK suggest the much-touted "two billion viewers" target will need all of China to have been watching: the peak audience for BBC1's coverage was 3.1 million - about a third of the audience the piano-playing Princes managed for their Diana tribute. Or about a half of what Casualty would have got.

Indeed, they might have been better off simply running Casualty with a global warming storyline:

- "this is just the start of what rising sealevels will do to Holby, Charlie"
- "I'll pop the kettle on - but only enough for two cups..."

In other broadcast-related news, roughly six times as many people - over 600, in fact - complained about Metallica's set being cut off to show a recording of Crowded House than complained about the language.