Saturday, July 21, 2007

I don't think we're in Kansas any more...

While some Universities are trying to protect the interests of their students in the face of ever-increasing copyright tightening, others aren't.

The University Of Kansas falls firmly into the "other aren't" side, threatening its students with a 'one strike and you're out' policy:

"If you are caught downloading copyrighted material, you will lose your ResNet privileges forever," reads the notice. "No second notices, no excuses, no refunds. One violation and your ResNet internet access is gone for as long as you reside on campus."

That this is a bit of a short-sighted kneejerk reaction is probably given away by how sloppily the threat of removal of internet access is - if you buy a track off iTunes, you are downloading copyrighted material. Kansas probably means illegal copyrighted material, but even there, the wording is sloppy. No excuses? What if a student believed they were downloading a legally-released mp3 which turned out to be illegal? Any law which doesn't allow the accused at least a vestige of explanation for their actions would seem to be a bad law.

If you're looking for a university this year, and are considering Kansas, you might want to weigh the merits of an institution which puts the interests of record companies ahead those of its students.

The past's future: 1981 - 7. Modern Romance

Even Smash hits couldn't quite muster up any enthusiasm for their reader's decision to predict a glorious future for this bunch of David Hamilton-friendly smoothies, managing just a "funky outfit" to describe them.

Here, take Ay Ay Ay Moosey - note the sort-of-rappy but at the front, a clanging attempt to inject something modern into a song which could otherwise have been playing when Glen Miller crashed into the sea:

[Buy - or don't: The Platinum Collection. I'm not sure they ever actually achieved platinum status. Platignum, perhaps.]

The countdown will continue across the weekend

Hook off - New Order sail on without Peter

Peter Hook's recent announcement of the end of New Order came as a bit of a surprise to the rest of New Order, who hadn't decided to throw in the towel. And still don't intend to:

Sumner and Morris said they were surprised.

"We would have hoped he could have approached us personally first," the duo said in a statement.

"New Order have not split up," they added.

"Whatever happens musically or otherwise, New Order have not split up, they continue to exist," the statement continued.

Exist, albeit in a diluted form that would make the current Four Tops seem like the real thing.

The past's future: 1981 - 8. Bow Wow Wow

Smash Hits points out that Bow Wow Wow actally been 1980's 10th most promising act, pointing out tartly that going up one place is

not much recompense for the all the fuss that's been made about them over the last year.

Still, they did better than the blokes' subsequent incarnation as Chiefs Of Relief; Annabelle Lwin is still recording, although nowadays with a Buddhist sensibility rather than the original Ants and the Sex Pistols manager.

C30 C60 C90 Go is on YouTube, but unembeddable, so here's the video for Louis Quatroze instead:

[Buy: Aphrodisiac, which somehow manages to not include Sexy Eiffel Towers

Borrell returns to dust; returns to Dunst

What can be more romantic than a man deciding he'd like to move in with you because, erm, his old house has fallen down. We're not entirely sure how one of the walls in Johnny Borrell's place collapsed - perhaps people had just banged their heads against it listening to him talk one time too many - but as the house has collapsed anyway, he's decided he might as well move in with Dunst.

The past's future: 1981 9 - ABC

Continuing our countup of Smash Hit's Brightest Hopes for 1982, Martin Fry's then-still-bright-eyed ABC. Described by SH as "scintilating", nobody knew the future held a brief period channelling the ghosts of the Archies before returning to hoofage on the 80s revival circuit.

A slightly blocky recording of a festive reworking of The Look Of Love:

[Buy: This year's ABC compilation Never More Than Now

Mariah perfume panic

As if the bad boys wandering past queues outside bookshops yesterday evening saying "oh... this is the one where he dies in the end, isn't it?" wasn't cruel enough spoilerage fun, it seems that someone has taken to faking Mariah Carey perfume ads and scattering them online, just to spoil the, ah, fun of a celebrity-endorsed bottle of very, very expensive water. Elizabeth Arden are having beautifully scented kittens:

An image of Mariah Carey with her fragrance bottle photoshopped in the corner is being featured on several blogs today, and is categorically not the advertisement for her new fragrance, nor is it even remotely close. The real ad for M by Mariah Carey will debut exclusively on TMZ during the second week of August."

Other celebrities might wonder why Carey is giving an exclusive to TMZ, a website not noticeably fond of treating the famous with the dignity and respect they might hope for. We wonder if TMZ have any 'not mentioning the whole going a bit off the rails' thing in their side of the deal?

The past's future: 1981 10 - Orange Juice

This weekend, we're revisiting the Smash Hits Reader's Poll 1981 "Most Promising New Act for 1982" results, counting down from 10 to 1. We're still debating if we should skip over number 5.

What's really interesting is that, with probably just one or two exceptions, the ten bands chosen by Smash Hits readers to shine in 1982 all feature band members who are still doing quite nicely for themselves in 2007, which might be a warming thought as to the wisdom of crowds (or Smash Hits readers, at least) or perhaps unsettling that bands tipped 25 years ago are still hanging around now.

So, without further ado: Number 10 - Orange Juice. This is Simply Thrilled Honey, from the 1986 Dada With Juice video. Which they're doing in an Orange Juice factory:

[Buy The Glasgow School, 23-track Orange Juice best-of]

The Dave Pelzer of pop

There's an interesting piece in today's Mirror exploring how Kerry Katona has managed to amass a three million quid fortune despite an expensive drug habit and no visible talent.

She has, in effect, flogged the only thing she has - misery:

"Kerry has enduring appeal because her life has all the key elements that make a great story - love, tragedy and betrayal," says one magazine executive, who has paid Kerry for a string of exclusives.

"Unlike many stars, Kerry is happy to lay bare every facet of her life and admits she is flawed.

Triumph over tragedy sells - and Kerry sells lots."

So, in effect, when her house was broken in to, the raiders were helping her to open up a new revenue stream. And the treatment for "bipolar disorder" at the Priory? That'll be a new gazebo or something right there.

The paper, sadly, never gets round to considering if it's entirely helpful to pay someone with a miserable life in eturn for sharing that misery, and what the psychological effect of knowing that your lifestyle can only be comfortable if you continue suffer is.

Madonna mafia movie mumblings

Also according to Newton's column this morning, Madonna is supposedly talking to Chris Paciello about buying the rights to his life story.

Madonna used to date Paciello, as Newton reminds us:

She was introduced to the tough guy, who looks as though he stepped straight from a Sopranos script, by her best pal INGRID CASARES and started a passionate two-year relationship.

It all fell apart after he was jailed for murder following a burglary in which a woman was shot dead by an accomplice.

Yes, that whole being a murderer thing - it really puts a wrinkle in your dating life, doesn't it?

Even Guy, supposedly, thinks this whole making-a-movie-about-an-actual-gangster (rather than Vinnie Jones pretending to be one) is a slightly stinky idea, and while Paciello might have served time for the murder of a woman, that he emerged from jail desperate to become some sort of celebrity gangster hardly speaks much of contrition.

And, frankly, if Madonna's attempting to convince the good people of Malawi she's the right person to raise David, how does making a film glorifying a thug fit in with the values she'll be teaching him?

Victoria, Victoria: When minds meets

In years to come, this will be seen as the twenty first century's own Frost-Nixon. Yes, Victoria Newton has flown to Los Angeles to meet Victoria Beckham. The extra carbon burned through was worth it, as this sort of fawning simply can't be done over the telephone:

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Victoria, 33, said: “We’ve loved every minute so far. I can’t see us going back.”

She opened her heart on life away from Britain and Spain as Becks prepared for new team LA Galaxy’s game against Chelsea today — although his own debut was in doubt due to an injury.

She also told how she and David got so steamed up during a recent raunchy photo shoot they had to take a break and slip away for a ROMP.

Victoria said David, 33, was not bothered about swapping Real Madrid for Galaxy, a team branded no better than a pub side. And sons BROOKLYN, eight, ROMEO, four, and CRUZ, two, are thrilled with their new home.

Does Victoria N point out to Victoria B that she did a very similar round of interviews when she relocated to Spain? Does she suggest that perhaps LA is still something of a novelty and that - after they've been there some time, experienced a few downs to go with the ups - it might start feeling less like a long holiday and more like an empty place a long way from home?

Beckham, of course, is keen to stress how normal she is, while namedropping as much as possible:
“The fact is, David and I are very boring people.

“We don’t go out much. A lot of the time we are at home watching telly and putting the kids to bed.

“I had to laugh recently. We were at DEMI MOORE’s house with ASHTON KUTCHER and PENELOPE CRUZ for dinner. We ended up playing dominoes — hardly rock and roll.”

Look how everyday my life is, playing dominoes with filmstars.

You know who else is normal and down-to-earth? Tom Cruise, that's who - did Victoria mention that she knows Tom Cruise out the movies, by the way?
“Tom and Katie are ordinary people who just happen to be famous. We also have friends here who aren’t famous. That’s why I know we’ll be happy.”

Oddly, she doesn't bother listing any of those lucky people who get to be Victoria's friends without being famous, but we imagine they include that woman who comes in with the mop everyday, that bloke who makes the barrier go up and down when the car gets home, and Mel B.

But all of this is little more than a prelude to the big issues of the day. Victoria Newton is afraid to tell the truth to power. And the truth is that Beckham is fabulous:
Photos yesterday seemed to show Victoria with cellulite on her legs. I couldn’t see the slightest trace. And she said: “Everyone has cellulite, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

Thank god we got that one sorted. Seriously, let's not leave it decades until this one is turned into an opera, people.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Horses neigh to filming

Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell has had enough of being filmed from 17 angles during gigs. But asking fans to stop hasn't gone down well with them: Rosemary of SDDialedIn feels she's been singled out unfairly:

At first I took a few pictures, among the many people taking pictures. There were a few songs I recorded thinking I’d stick them on YouTube and whatnot, like I have with so many other bands before. About 8 songs into the set, BoH finally played “Funeral” which all the bros from Mission Beach and PB kept calling out for.

So there I am with my tiny Sony digital camera, capturing the song, and suddenly I realize I’m getting flipped off by the singer. While playing the super emotional song, “Funeral”, he flip me off and mid song yells, “I see you recording me.” I look around and at least 5 other people are taping him and he calls me out. Fuck you. I duck out and I am fucking outta there. There’s nothing worse than a fucking whiny baby onstage. It wasn’t bad enough that earlier in the set he complained about the sound and the mix, asking his band, “Should we keep playing?” Now he’s gonna be a whiny bitch about me recording his shit. Fuck him. I was outta there.

It's interesting that Rosemary's response - which continues at some length - is hugely defensive. She says that she's taped other bands, put them up on YouTube, and even had "thank yous" from bands for the support, which is fine.

What's not fine is her response to being asked not to do it. If some people don;t mind you filming them, that doesn't mean that everyone is obliged to let you film them, and if you say you're doing it because you love the band, then surely you should respect their wishes if they ask you to stop. Rather than rush onto the internet and start calling your hero "a whiny bastard".

What's interesting is the way that, in the last decade, people have gone from trying to sneak cameras and tape recorders hidden in false penis pouches past bouncers, to viewing the recording of video and audio at gigs as something of a right.

You might suggest that, having paid for her ticket, Rosemary had every tight to tape the set if she wished. Ah:
Andrea and I scored free tickets to the show (Thank you, Owen!) and I sold off the ticket I had paid for, minus the service charges.

Bridwell has put his side:
"It was just scratching at the surface of what's happening to shows lately. Everybody's got a camera in their pocket, and they turn it on… it's become a little bit ridiculous, and it was just a bit unnerving, and [with] the situation with the show and everything, all the stars lined up and I got pissed off."

He added: "I don't know, is there no sanctity left for live performance with going to a show and seeing it with your own eyes and remembering it? Do you have to tape every second, or even just your favorite song? I understand it, but it's becoming annoying."

At the very least, you'd hope fans might exercise some discretion.

I still like trucks, big trucks

Somewhat incongruously, the heavy rain has led the organisers of the Truck Festival in Oxfordshire this weekend to ask festival goers to turn up on foot this weekend:


2. If possible, take public transport. There are hourly buses from Oxford and Didcot. We are still working on an alternative car parking plan as the parking fields are likely to be very muddy or even underwater.

3. Get dropped off in the village and walk up.

4. We do not recommend that you bring camper vans as they are likely to get stuck in mud.

It's the "or even underwater" which really suggests they're not mucking about, isn't it?

Iggy: I did say it, and I'm sorry

Despite some fans arguing that he'd meant "packie" shop, in the American sense of a takeaway, Iggy has confirmed he did use the phrase 'paki shop' during the BBC's Glastonbury coverage:

“I’m sorry. It was one in the morning... that was a phrase I learned from English people while I was living there.

“But it’s terrible. More fool me. Shame on me.”

We're not quite sure that it being one in the morning counts as an extenuating circumstance ("come on, we all get a little bit racist after midnight, don't we?") and you wonder what the people he was living with in England where he could pick up the phrase and not know it was abusive, but at least he's had the balls to admit he was in the wrong, and apologise for the slip. Unlike, ooh, Jo O'Meara, say.

What would Beth Ditto do?

Earlier in the week, the Guardian had a special edition of G2 marking the 50th anniversary of Guardian Women. It was a little clanging that, while other decades were marked with extracts of reportage from Greenham Common, the abortion debate and reclaim the streets marches, 2007 was represented by an extract from What Would Beth Ditto Do.

Today's column, as KarlT points out, Beth is dealing with the problems of being a have-not in a land of haves. In a fascinating attempt to both have her cake, and pretend she doesn't have any cake, Ditto attempts to side with the underclass while, simultaneously, stressing her fabulous life:

I highly recommend being one of those people such as Dolly Parton, who embrace the dirt under their fingernails, flip that blue collar right up and let all the haves know how a real person lives and behaves. Remember that in the wider world there are far more of us than there are of them, and that alone is empowering.


Once you've mastered that you should be able to have more fun with the culture clash - I had an amazing moment recently when I was standing with the head of Sony and my crusty punk best friend. My friend was talking loudly about scabies.

Now, I know Beth is trying to show how success hasn't changed her - look, I still have my old friends - but once you start even arranging in your mind that your best friend is somehow a total opposite from the head of Sony Records, never mind using her as an example of that in a newspaper column, you start to look more than a little smug. Look! I'm so street, I bring people who talk about scabies to stand front of my important business contacts.

We might just have had some respect for her if she'd phrased the anecdote the other way round - the other night, I was hanging out with my best friend when a business guy from Sony came over and started talking about market shares - but however much Beth might claim the poor is an 'us' rather than a 'them', her attitude shows otherwise.

Hang on, she's about to share another anecdote from her amazing life:
That last piece of advice is really important, as I found out recently when I took my first first-class flight. I was so ready for it - my laptop was primed for the comfort of a full desk, I had my fash mags in hand and I was ready to spread out like a picnic with the best of them. We boarded first and were escorted through security - proof right there (as if you needed it) of the class system.

I reclined happily in my lazyboy chair. There were nuts, champagne, good food. And space for everything! Then a bout of turbulence sent the honest-to-god silverware shaking. I am not usually afraid of flying - and the turbulence ended as fast as it had begun - but this time I was freaked out. Out of the whole first-class section, Hannah (Gossip's drummer) and I were the only women, and we were also the only ones awake - the men were still laid out like babies after warm milk.

Meeting Hannah's eye, I saw the real world, right there and the reason I felt so upset hit me. I didn't wanna die with these other people! If this plane went down I didn't want what parts - if any - were found of me to be entwined with them. At that moment I missed the crying babies, the mums juggling their kids, and the tiny Twix that comes with a prepackaged meal too small to satisfy a kindergartner, in my usual section of the plane. I missed my own.

We're a little confused - the fast line at airport security is nothing to do with class, and everything to do with money. And while we can't prove Beth is lying, we bet she is. Nobody would choose economy over business or first - there's a very real truth in that Seinfeld episode where he tells Elaine "you can't go back behind the curtain". Having family on both sides of the Atlantic has meant, over the course of half a decade, we just about managed enough airmiles to allow a transatlantic upgrade coming home after last Christmas. Only to business - it wasn't being paid for by the head of Sony Records - but I can't imagine that anyone, much less someone for whom the standard airline seat would prove something of a squeeze - would ever, honestly, choose to be wedged in next to a mewling toddler for six hours simply to make a half-considered point.

Karlt, meanwhile, says of the 'my friend and the Sony man' anecdote:
Did your ever so punk friend say "boo", "botty" and "wee wees" in front of the big important man in the suit as well? And is this the same Beth Ditto who was banging on about being 'underground' and complaining about her audience not having heard of the Ramones?

Usher tries to screw his fans

Imagine if someone was happy to work, without reward, building a massive shrine to you and your work. You might be happy to think of all this promotion going on, not costing you a cent.

But what if that person then disagreed with you - perhaps pointing out that you were making a bit of a fool of yourself?

It would probably be wise to take advice like that as well-meaning, even if you chose to ignore it.

Not so Usher: After fansite called his open letter to bloggers "petty", Usher then got pettier, sending a legal demand that the site's URL be transfered over to his record label.

Apparently he believes there may be some sort of precedent which ensures only people who agree with him absolutely are allowed to be his fans. The claim is that people might get "confused" and think the site is an official one - oddly, when the site shared the same worldview as the celebrity, the possibility didn't seem to be of concern. Now, though, as the webpages are starting to carry entries which make it clear that they're not part of the Usher empire, Usher believes people might think they're his views. Very confusing.

Sorry turns out to be a fairly easy word after all

Elton John has trouble standing by his bitchier comments, because he usually ends up working with the people he's slagged off. It's lucky the man can be a diplomat when needed, like playing with Hear'Say. Kym Marsh remembers:

"He'd called us the ugliest band he'd ever seen.

"Then we did the Variety Performance and he was a guest. He said, 'It was really immature of me.'

Then he looked at Danny and said, 'Any chance of a date?'"

Good lord, there's making up and there's taking one for the team.

Doherty: Violence breeds violence

The whole concept of putting up a YouTube video, Revenge of the Bilo, showing you setting your mates on a photographer is a curious one - especially since Pete Doherty seems to be with giggling with delight. It doesn't show him in a very good light, and the slightly confused attempt to slather the ugliness in a Clockwork Orange-meets-Tarantino style wrapping only makes it worse.

But the biggest puzzle of all is, if Doherty is sending thugs to rough people up when they try to take shots revealing the reduced circumstances in which he's living, don't you then defeat the object if you then post a video of yourself in the flat on the internet?

Still, not everyone seems that disturbed by it - Pete's video has been rewarded with a big laugh from someone styling themselves "Jack The Raper". Charming.

Presumably it was a male chef

Can it really be true that Sting and Trudie Styler took their own chef when they went out to eat at Miami Beach's Casa Tua?

If we decide to take the story in today's Bizarre at face value, it's even more astonishing than that, as they decided that while the restaurant's own chef wasn't good enough for them, the people they were eating with could take their chances with them.

Perhaps Trudie was just really scared there might have been a slightly pregnant sous chef or something behind the swinging doors.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

When the music stops...

The mainstream music industry is worried, seeing its revenues being eaten away and a future in which the companies who've carved up publishing and recording between themselves for generations in danger of being sidelined.

So, you think they'd be delighted if someone turned up, offered a new revenue stream and all they needed to do would be saying yes?

Thats what Interactive When The Music Stops thought. They've invented a mobile-phone based game a bit like that last round of Buzzcocks, where they'd send players a snatch of music, and ask them to say what lyrics come next.

Now, of course, lyrics are intellectual property so, as well as licensing the music, the company also needs to licence the words. Warner Chapel, though, wasn't having any of it:

Warner told the content provider to go off and get various licences which it duly did. Having done so, Warner just turned around and told Iwtms to wait for another six months while it thought about it.

Think about it? For half a year? Presumably they've got a But It Must Be A Trick Department to consider the request. It's hard to see the justification for the delay - since Warner Chapel can't really believe that people will somehow start gathering illegal copies of songwords ten words at a time, the suspicion has to be that they're hoping to strangle IWTMS at birth, by keeping it unable to function for months and months.

Then the music industry wonders why companies launch first, and negotiate the rights later.

For twenty bucks, you can ride Kurt's corpse

The ongoing commercialisation of the Nirvana back catalogue reaches a new low this autumn: A Very Special Cold Case, where the soundtrack will be Nirvana, Nirvana, nothing but Nirvana.

Leaving aside the dubious taste of using Cobain's music on a programme about a made-up grisly end, this next step on turning Nirvana into just another oldies band shows a process which has, probably, gone a little too far now. We imagine that whatever integrity Cobain hoped to preserve through his misjudged suicide is now so dissipated that Fox could announce a screwball comedy based on his life with Courtney and even people who felt uneasy would be able to quite remember why.

Bon Jovi has a red cow

Jon Bon Jovi out of the Bon Jovis is flicking his legal muscles in the direction of MiJovi energy drink, claiming that the company is trading off his name.

Marcos Carrington, who flogs the kick-in-a-tin, maintains that the drink is named after his girlfriend, who is called Jovita. But then maybe he just tapped off with her so he could steal a portion of Bon Jovi's name. Presumably if he'd been dating a girl called Rose, we'd be seeing Axl wielding a lawsuit.

Besides, why would anyone want to append Bon Jovi's name to an oversweet concoction that is intended to make your heart race a little but actually just winds up leaving you feeling a bit shaky and empty... oh...

Fugees split. Again.

The promise of "new Fugees" stuff has run out of steam trying to get over Lauryn Hill, reports Pras:

"Me and [Wyclef], we are on the same page, but Lauryn is in her zone and I'm fed-up with that shit.

"Here she is blessed with a gift with the opportunity to rock and give and she's running on some bullshit? I'm a fan of Lauryn's, but I can't respect that."

Of course, it's actually quite a while since Lauryn Hill was converted to run purely on bullshit. It's eco-friendly but terrible if you're around while she's filling up.

Scott Weiland: It was all a spat

Back in March, Scott Weiland and his wife had a bit of a public-falling-out. You might remember she burned all his suits.

Now, though, Weiland's got a record to try and push, and so the line of the day is: all that? It was just a little lover's spat, that's all, and it's a sitcom perfect marriage:

"We get our kids to bed at 8 p.m., we tuck 'em in, we lay down with 'em at night. There's three square meals and the whole shebang. But we also have the ability that we can take them on the road with us and allow them to see other cultures and experience things that other people don't have the opportunity to experience."

Yes. Not everyone has the opportunity to watch Mummy burning Daddy's suits in the front garden, and it's that sort of golden moment they'll have to share with their own children, assuming they're able to form stable relationships, when the time comes.

ITV still having trouble with its response

Talk of charity reminds us... it's now a month and eight days since we first wrote to ITV to ask if the network was topping up the rather disappointing £2 per album being given to the Association of Children's Hospices from the Challenge Anneka album by handing over the money it made selling advertising on the programme. We suspect that if the answer was a 'yes' we might have heard by now. But we're still waiting to be surprised.

A lot of good work for charidee

Let's just preempt the comments box and say: Yes, we know Annie Lennox's Band Aid style single is in a good cause and, yes, it will raise a bit of money.

However, wouldn't it be better all round if Shakira, Joss Stone, Dido, Celine Dion, Pink, Fergie, Gladys Knight, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, KT Tunstall and Madonna all released a proper single - one that they might have released anyway - and gave the money from that to Nelson Mandela's 46664 Aids charity instead? Wouldn't that raise more money and, indeed, mean that the artists involved could feel a sense of actually contributing to the cause by redirecting some of their royalties, rather than just spending an hour or so making a record that nobody would really want for its own merits?

Thom smashes hotel room

Well done, Sandi Thom: smashing up a hotel room and throwing wine around. That'll show people how rock and roll you are. If we're using "rock and roll" in its strict sense of "not giving a shit about the minimum wage slaves who are going to have to clean up after your few minutes of fun", of course.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Lots of Potts

James P writes to point out Gennaro Castaldo's latest public pronouncement, on the sales of Paul Potts:

'HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "It's incredible how TV can take a complete unknown artist and catapult him to overnight chart success."'

As James suggests:
Yes. Yes, it is. It's incredible, amazing and previously unheard-of that if a man sings quite well on a TV show watched by over 10 million people, some of those people might want to buy an album which that man goes on to release. Thank you, Gennaro.

Presumably Gennaro is still astonished that clouds can make electricity, and it's possible - by simply cutting off the crusts at the factory - to make a loaf without any crusts on.

Astonisnging times we live in. Slightly more astonishing, though, is that ITV news, the Western Mail, and even the NME have felt that the original comment to BBC News site was worth repeating.

Elsewhere, Gennaro has popped up in the Herald to enthuse over the prospects for Mercury-nominated bands:
Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the music chain HMV, agrees: "The publicity that will be generated from now through to the awards ceremony will ensure that all the nominated artists get a lift in album sales, and lesser-known nominees have the platform to introduce themselves to a new and wider audience. Whoever wins can expect a significant boost to their careers. Previous winners such as Ms Dynamite in 2003 and Antony and the Johnsons in 2005 recorded five-fold increases in sales of their nominated albums."

We'd have thought Castaldo would have been able to tell the difference between "a short-term boost to sales of the nominated album" and "a significant boost to their careers", or at least would have had the wit to have picked a couple of acts who have had any sort of profile-enabled post-awards career.

Across the Atlantic, and Gennaro was sent to explain to Americans why HMV did its u-turn and started stocking the Mail On Sunday. He told Time:
"We decided we could either get marginalized or we could get right in there," says spokesman Gennaro Castaldo. "With whatever reservations, our motivation was to give our customers the choice and access to the album."

Ah. This, then, would be a different HMV from the chain which pulled all Rolling Stones albums off its Canadian shelves in a strop when the band did a deal with another chain.

Tool breaks rock

Having done his own bit to squeeze any interest or life out of the genre, Maynard James Keenan of Tool has announced the death of heavy rock:

[His new band is] "my attempt to make music to inspire people. Heavy rock is sinking, the industry is dying. This is definitely not thinking man’s music.”

By a staggering coincidence, his new band don't play heavy rock (it's called Puscifer - no, really - and finds room for Lisa Germano in its big tent.)
“In a way, I feel like I’m standing in two places at once. I have my right foot in then, and my left foot on to the next stage. The industry needs an enema.”

We're not sure that giving an enema to a dying man is such a good idea - although, doubtless, there's an episode of House where this is done to spectacular effect.

Puscifer. Really.

European ISPs not obliged to turn you in

In a note of advice provided to the European Court, Advocate General Juliane Kokott has clarified the current law applying to information your ISP holds about you. Kokott has advised the court that there is no compulsion on the part of ISPs to provide client details to record companies seeking to pursue civil cases. There would be compulsion if a criminal case was being pursued.

The request for information came via the European Court from Spain, where local ISP Telefonica is in court after refusing to hand personal details to Promusicae, the Spanish RIAA client organisation. Although the European Court has yet to make a formal ruling, it would be unusual for them to diverge from formal advice.

Alex James follows Myleene Klass and Simon Bates

Alex James has signed up to present a programme on Classic FM, the radio network which is a bit like being put on hold during a phone call to a company which considers itself a bit blue chip.

James is going to present a programme which is an important addition to its schedules and not simply an invention designed to allow Classic FM to promote themselves off the back of. It's called 'When Classic Meets Pop':

When Classic Meets Pop will feature classically inspired songs such as Barry Manilow's Could It Be Magic, Eric Carmen's All By Myself and The Farm's Altogether Now.

If they hoped hiring Alex would give a breath of fresh air to the station and help break down the impression that classical music fans are a bunch of haughty snobs, they might be a little worried:
"Why would I want to listen to Hard-Fi piffling around when there is Rossini?" said James. "Bring me cellos. Bring me French horns. Bring me a choir. And some cannons, maybe, for the end."

The question might equally be phrased "Why would I want to listen to the man who helped create Naughty Christmas (Goblin In The Office) detailing what music is and isn't acceptable to enjoy", of course.

At last! Lily Allen discovers something unique

Lily Allen has never seemed to have anything much which set her apart. Until now. She's become the toast of YouTube by flashing her third nipple on last week's 8 Out Of Ten Cats. [EDIT: Oh, it turns out there are two programmes on Friday night on Channel 4 besides Big Brother, and this was on the other one, The Friday Night Project. The original joke would still work if you replace Jimmy with Alan.]

Presumably she felt it was safe to share the third nipple on the programme because, on a show with Jimmy Carr hosting, you're never going to have the oddest physical features in the studio.

Victoria Beckham, our greatest living comedian

As the prospect of the Spice Girls tour sends the newspapers into a flurry of activity, you can smell the fear in their nostrils that anything other than total surrender to the women might result in missing out on some juicy exclusive access. Yes, we're in for months and months of the tabloids rushing to try and wipe out five years of coverage suggesting that Geri was a weight yo-yo fuck-up, that Mel B was a loud-mouth nympho fuck-up, that Victoria was a humourless bitch, that Mel C was queen of the dwindling audience and that Emma had virtually disappeared.

It's like the government is about to change and everyone wants to be in with the new administation.

Which is the only explanation for David Lowe's bemusing review of Victoria Beckham's Coming To America in the Sun:

Victoria Beckham certainly has a way with words.

Posh proved she's Queen of the Quip in the recent telly documentary about her move to the States, Coming to America.

Really? Who knew that Beckham was the Dorothy Parker of our times?

Lowe illustrates his point, with 'quips' like this:
After a party with some LA wives: "They were fabulous, they were glamorous, they were gorgeous, they were well dressed. The lipstick was just major, major red lipstick. I'd never seen lipstick like it. As soon as I walked in that room I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, pass out or get on the next flight home."

'The women had lipstick on' - maybe that one's just gone over my head. Let's try another:
Speaking to her new personal assistant: "We'll get on well together. Of course, everyone has a fat friend. No offence or anything."

That would seem to be ignorant rather than witty.
After hearing Lionel Richie had laid the floor in her rented home: "Lionel Richie laid the parquet floor while he was dancing on the ceiling!"

Well... we can see that that has many of the ingredients you'd look for in a bon mot, but it doesn't actually make any sense. If there had been a lovely chandelier, then saying "I hope he didn't bump into that while he was dancing on the ceiling" might be worth it, but otherwise, this is little more than nodding and saying "I have heard of him."
Giving some serious advice: "Always keep shoes by the bed, preferably nice ones because the emergency services may be on their way and you want to be looking good."

Trouble is, while this is amusing, it's in a laughing at her way.
Responding to professional gossip Perez Hilton when he asked her to eat a cookie: "I can't. I don't want to ruin my image. I don't want to be seen smiling, eating or having fun. Perish the thought!"

That's actually mildly amusing, but again, we're not entirely sure she was attempting to be funny.
While sunbathing in LA: "To think that this is what Paris Hilton does every single day."

Far from being witty, that's one of the most heartbreakingly sharp insights into how empty her life is, surely?

John Hegley reported himself "unworried" this morning.

Winehouse: Back in action

Well, Amy Winehouse has started turning up at gigs again, although - at least according to The Sun - not totally successfully:

after two songs Amy suddenly dashed off, leaving the crowd and her band bemused.

After she returned to the stage, everything went downhill fast.

She slapped herself in the face and hit her head repeatedly with the microphone.

She forgot the lyrics to her own songs and mumbled swear words in between them.

She even spat into the crowd, who had paid £33 each to watch her.

Then halfway through her last song, she just dropped the mic and walked off.

But you know what makes it worse for Victoria Newton?
All this on the day she was named favourite for this year’s Nationwide Mercury Prize.

How can she behave like this when a building society has said it likes her album? How? How?

Newton, god help us, has one of her "Newton's theories", although it's not actually a theory at all:
AMY is getting a reputation as the female PETE DOHERTY because of her wild behaviour and gig no-shows.

As great as it is to have a star with so much personality and excitement around them, it is starting to turn sad.

This is more an opinion than a theory, which would be an explanation of the behaviour. But do carry on, Victoria:
You can’t help wondering exactly what else is going on – besides drinking.

Well, yes. If you had a theory, that's exactly what you would be doing. And what Newton doesn't do:
Amy is entitled to do what she wants but when it comes to letting down fans who have paid good money to watch her perform, it’s simply not on.

On the other hand, you could argue it's like buying a cricket ticket on an overcast day - surely by now you know it's at the risk you might only see a few overs and a lot of men scrambling to get back in the pavilion?
You only have to look at BABYSHAMBLES’ dwindling ticket sales to see what can happen if fans get fed up with being messed around.

Aren't Babyshambles currently selling tickets for much larger venues?
Amy needs to sort herself out before she ends up wasting the phenomenal gift she has been blessed with.

It's not just the building society you're letting down, Amy, you're throwing God's sweet gifts back in his face.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lily Allen does her bit

It's only a few days since Lily Allen called for the police to sort out teeange problems:

"They said give young people more of a stake in communities and give us more opportunities. The number of teenagers who will go off the rails is a problem for us all and instead of helping them only after they are in crisis, we need to stop them getting into trouble in the first place."

Of course, one of the many different factors which feeds into youth crime is poverty, and the gap between haves and have-nots. The elevation of expensive trainers, for example, into must-have items, and marketing's push of self-esteem through material possessions creates dissatisfaction, resentment and can, ultimately, lead to young people going off the rails.

So, while we wouldn't go as far as to suggest that Lily Allen's limited edition Nike Air Max trainer is going to lead to the breakdown of society, we do wonder if she thought she might do more good promoting something without an expensive logo instead of adding to the hast du was, bist du was society.

P Diddy's competition: More suspect than a Liz Kershaw phone-in

P Diddy, it's safe bet, is unlikely to be called in to help the BBC with their quiz show problem. (Incidentally, what are they going to do about Smile this Sunday? It's all well and good "restoring the foundation", but at the cost of Nev's Pie-Jamas? Is that a price worth paying?)

Pro Hip-Hop raises it eyebrows at Diddy's claims of 10,000 entrants for his online video 'become my PA' contest:

When I first saw that video I checked the personal assistant YouTube submission group and it only had about 40-something videos posted. Here are the current stats according to YouTube:
Videos: 409 | Members: 590 | Discussions: 159

Which is reassuring - the thought that there were 10,000 people were so desperate to be Diddy's "24/7" slave might well have been more than hope could stand.

Some more formats! Yes, a confused marketplace is a healthy marketplace

A couple of weeks after Warners unveiled the MVI disc, which is effectively a CD with some watchable stuff lobbed on top, comes Disney's Hollywood Records with their brand-new CD-VU format. Which is, effectively, a CD with some watchable stuff lobbed on top.

Some grudging respect to the label for trying to interest an audience with something extra for their money, even if it is an uninspired idea to simply add in "digital magazine extras, song lyrics, band photos and other extras to boost fan loyalty" and hope that will do it. And since the bloody labels spend so much time coming together to plan how to shake down their customers for cash with legal threats, is it really beyond their wits to get together to co-operate before launching a range of similar-but-different new formats?

Oh, and while we're on new formats: Scratch and sniff CDs. We can't begin to guess what a Smashing Pumpkins album would reek of.

Liz Kershaw sinks the bloody ship

We're presuming the first inkling that there might have been something fishy about competition entrants on Liz Kershaw's 6Music programme - surely there weren't that many people listening in the first place? Now, as part of Mark Thompson's wobbly rolecall of dishonour, everybody knows that she managed to get callers to a pre-recorded programme by, erm, getting the production team and their mates to ring in.

Danny Baker used to manage to get around the problem of needing callers for a pre-recorded show by telling people when he'd be recording, and getting them to ring in then. But it sounds like Liz was doing the prerecords a lot more frequently.

You have to have some sympathy for WhiteLabel, the World Service's music show - sure, making up names of winners in weeks where nobody sent in a winning entry isn't strictly speaking honest, but it comes across more as a face-saving measure than a deliberate intention to mislead.

And what of the Comic Relief scandal:

In a section of the appeal programme, viewers were invited to donate money to Comic Relief and were informed that by calling in, they could win prizes that belonged to a famous couple.

The first two callers taken on air gave incorrect answers. The other waiting callers were lost and a third caller was heard on air successfully answering the question. This caller was in fact not a viewer but a member of the production team.

The "famous couple", of course, was Buttery Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Were the calls really lost, or was it simply that nobody who knew whose things they were wanted to try winning them?

ThedrummerfromBlur aims to become the member from West Derby

Having so far managed a record of standing, once, for public office, and losing that council bye-election, the Liverpool Daily Post is reporting that Dave Rowntree is considering running for adoption as Labout Party Candidate for the Liverpool West Derby seat.

Currently, the seat is in the comfortable hands of Bob Wareing - Wareing is currently fighting bids to deselect him on the grounds that he's a bit too much like a Labour MP used to be. Even if Wareing is kicked out, the prospect of a rock-solid safe Labour seat has attracted about a dozen other potential candidates busily trying to find some sort of connection with Tuebrook to help their case, including Stephen Twigg and Tristram Hunt.

Rowntree - perhaps hoping to catch the Party eye with the inability to give a straight answer to fair question - responded to enquiries about his plans with a tart:

“It’s the wrong time to be talking about that.”

[Thanks to James McCabe for the tip]

Presumably, this will be the gospel album?

Despite having been humiliated by coming out on top of the 'hype in inverse proportion to sales' charts with the first one, and despite having pledged to have quit music for good, there are worrying rumours that Paris Hilton is planning a second album.

She can't let down the dozens of fans, I suppose.

Turin Brakes out

Turin Brakes - and, please, if you must say 'are they still going, then?', at least try and whisper so they won't hear - have just announced a UK tour:

4 September- Falmouth Pavilions
25 - Exeter Phoenix
26 - Bristol Bierkeller
28 - Glasgow Oran Mor
29 - Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
30 - Cambridge Junction
2 October - Manchester University
3 - Birmingham Academy
4 - Sheffield Leadmill
7 - Nottingham Rescue Rooms
8 - Norwich Waterfront
9 - Oxford Academy
11 - London Forum


Popjustice are deservedly quite sharp with the new Natalie Imbruglia video, a clip so uninspired as to embarrass a Lambrini advert. However, they do forget to mention one key point: It seems that Imrbuglia is so ashamed of the whole thing she's persuaded Kym Marsh to turn up and do her bit in it instead:

Corgan: I'm mates with Paris

Billy Corgan has been explaining how Paris Hilton wound up on the cover of the new Smashing Pumpkins single and album.

No, no, not "cheap publicity" - that's the why, not the how:

“The original idea was we were gonna see if Lindsay (Lohan), Britney (Spears) and Paris would all shoot..(but) Paris I knew personally and hung out with her a few times, and so I asked her...and God bless her, she came, she showed up at 10am on a Sunday morning, sat in the chair, got made up and (I) shot her."

For some reason, we're mentally filing this alongside Ricky Gervais' 'I only did the Diana concert because Wills and Harry asked me personally' and that bit in Prick Up Your Ears when Joe Orton says "I met Paul McCartney".

EMI remains up in the air

Terra Firma have extended their deadline for EMI shareholders to accept their offer for the third time - it might be a private equity firm, but its inability to stick to a final line suggests it would be a rotten evil genius. Can you imagine Darth Vader wheezing "alright, one last chance, then we'll destroy your home planet if you don't comply."

The new deadline is Thursday, and reflects a rather poor take-up of TF's offer. Only 3.82% of EMI shareholders had said yes to the approach, which is quite a way short of a takeover. TF believe that other shareholders were holding off to see if there was to be a counter-offer from Warners, who have now ruled themselves out of the race - although with a hint that if the Terra Firma bid flops, they'd still be interested.

Which means although the EMI board is now formally suggesting their future should lay alongside the German Motorway network, even as the vows are about to be exchanged, everyone will be wondering if they're doing the right thing.

Kasabian: A stalking horse for their parents

We've always wondered what, exactly, the point of Kasabian is - after all, if they didn't exist, nobody would say "what the world really needs is a sort-of-midway point between the Kaiser Chiefs and Oasis", would they? Unless they worked for a record label.

Now, it turns out, the whole band might be little more than a ruse on the part of Tom's parents to date celebrities:

"One of the best things about being famous is making our parents so proud. They swap press cuttings about us and my dad even got to chat up JAMIE LEE CURTIS."

We suspect there may have been a distinct lack of success with that one.

No, no: You're beautiful

Talking of James Blunt, it seems that Victoria Newton is still in full-on fawning mode, as this morning she declares the sleeve for his forthcoming album:

the best I’ve seen for years

Really? It's one of those montages of small photos making up a bigger picture that were quite modish about a decade ago - I believe you can even get Winne The Pooh posters made up in the same way, if you rootle around in the back of the Disney Shop.

Still, chances are it'll be a Magic Eye picture for album number three, eh?

You're Beautiful, turning ugly

The long-running dispute between James Blunt and former producer Lukas Burton is almost certain to end up in court, as EMI and Blunt seek a High Court judgement on Burton's claims that he wrote a bunch of songs on Blunt's first album. Burton is claiming responsibility for writing You're Beautiful, but then who would?

Burton is sharing his side of the relationship with Blunt with anyone who'll listen:

"His stuff was crude, occasionally laughably direct, and betrayed his relative lack of musicianship or discernible influence," he wrote. "But I kind of loved the guy. He was great looking in a short-arsed Tom Cruise-y kind of way and he had this girlish singing style that brilliantly offset his back story." He added: "It would probably be an overstatement to say that in terms of his professional musical aspirations James had nothing going on, but he definitely had next to nothing going on."

Burton goes on to describe the moment when Blunt took the songs he'd buffed to a new management and cut him out as a moment of "abject treachery".

In public, team Blunt are doing little more than confirming the existence of the claim.

[Thanks to Jim McCabe for the link]

And they say romance is dead

The man who is currently seeing Mel B must feel a warm glow as he reads her warm words about him:

“He’s the love of my life and I’m going to marry him.”

Aah. There's no sense at all there that this is a rebound thing designed as some sort of high-profile two-fingers to Eddie Murphy or anything:
Mel is in sensational shape following the birth and told a pal: “Stephen’s been a godsend.

“Eddie hasn’t been in touch once since I had the baby, it’s unbelievable. But Stephen has been a tower of strength.”

And Mel put the knife in to Eddie saying: “Stephen’s got a much bigger cock as well!”


Mrs Gallagher sells off her stuff

Those of us who enjoyed reading about Noel Gallagher's fabulous life as a glittering celebrity in Meg Matthews' Sunday Times diary back when they were married - a Jude Law teaparty here, a wax and Malaysian mud bath there - might want to grab a memory of that happy time when he completely lost control of his public image. Meg Matthews is selling off some of her stuff on eBay - apparently as a life-cleansing ritual after coming out of rehab, and not the attempt to raise funds it might look like. (Of course, you could equally cleanse your life by simply giving the stuff straight to charity.)

Oddly, we can't actually find any of the items the Sun insists is being offered on eBay.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

People can't bear to look

Well, we suppose that seeing as nobody liked it much, it's probably a good thing that Victoria Beckham's Coming To America didn't attract many viewers. It hit 4.9 million, trailing a rerun of Wife Swap and - oh, the humanity - CBS sitcoms. And nobody watches CBS sitcoms.

[First night: Beckham Coming To America]

Visa can't block

It might seem to be a moot point with currently switched off, but a Russian court has ruled that Visa has no right to refuse to process payments for Allofmp3 or similar sites. In what appears to be the first legal ruling on the legitimacy of AllofMP3, the court found against Visa's claims the site was illegal as it was paying royalty rates to ROM, a Russian rights agency (although, crucially, not part of the RIAA-IFPI global grouping).

The court did allow that rights holders were free to pursue actions against AllofMP3, but since neither Visa nor the IFPI hold any of the rights they were "protecting", they had no legal basis for their complaints, according to reports from Russian IT site Cnews.

Beth Ditto's maddening inconsistencies

So, we've got 'supermodels bad, unless they're Kate Moss', and 'bisexuals aren't real lesbians'. Now we can shade in some more squares on the Beth Ditto matrix:

Meg Ryan = Good:

BETH DITTO has hailed actress MEG RYAN as her ultimate Hollywood fantasy woman.

Amy Winehouse... well, she's a friend, too. Now:
"I really like Amy Winehouse - she's the sweetest girl and her voice is amazing. I used to be scared of her until we met, she was a doll."

Brown in fear of Bin Laden

Despite Bin Laden probably being dead, and if he isn't, being hooked up to cranky old dialysis machine in some sort of cave somewhere, Bobby Brown is in fear of Osama, god help us, because of the claim that OBL loves Whintey Houston:

Come on, if anyone is threatened by al-Qaeda they’d take it seriously. I figure if Bin Laden wants me, and everybody is looking for him, it won’t happen. But if he wants to try and find me for something so stupid, then he can if he wants. I have to leave it in the hands of a higher power.”

Brown seems to have missed that if Bin Laden really wanted to get close to Whitney, he'd have an open run at her, what with Houston filing for divorce. And that if Osama did fancy a romp with Whitney, the existence of Bobby Brown might prove to be less of a stumbling block than his part in the nasty deaths of thousands of people.

Voxtrot: our ears are burning

Voxtrot have suddenly realised that they don't like the internet. Oddly, when their first EPs were released, and they were getting well-reviewed, they somehow forgot to mention this. Come their new album, though, and reviews placing them in the middle of the field instead of at the vanguard of new pop, and all of a sudden, they've remembered how much they hate bloggers:

"The internet is a very dark place to be," [Ramesh Srivastava] wrote. Addressing bloggers, he said, "You may think that you deserve to download an album at no cost, store it in your iPod, pass your particular judgement, and then immediately dispose of it or hype it at will, but you actually don't deserve that."

But Srivastava says the album is not one that you get immediately, and he has urged listeners to spend some time with the music, to get to know it before writing it off. It's unlike Voxtrot's earlier music, released on three short EPs and rich with hooks, melodies and sharp lyrics - in other words, perfect for immediate gratification.

As the band moves in a new direction, Srivastava hopes his young fans will be patient. He's not optimistic. He says when he was a teenager, he would buy albums at a record store and really labor over them because he had spent his money. Nowadays, he says, teenagers have no such investment.

"People in the 18 to 19 range don't understand why you would ever pay for music," Srivastava said in a phone interview with The [Baltimore] Sun. "The younger generation has never lived in that world. It's not like they're doing something intentional to degrade music. ... But everybody wants to download and everybody wants to be a music critic."

In other words: now everybody builds them up to knock 'em down.

Obviously, there is some truth in what he says - downloads don't have the same emotional impact and investment, but at the same time, suggesting that the world would be a better place if you had to invest a larger chunk of your income into each record because then you'd be stuck with it and have no choice but to play the bloody thing as you can't afford to move on. (Is it just us, or is this also the thinking behind the Tory Party's policy of giving tax breaks to married couples, so people who hate each other have to stay together because they can't afford to split up?)

The other reason why the argument is self-defeating lies at that concept of having to save up to buy a record. How wide would Voxtrot's audience have been had they had to rely on people willing to take a massive risk on investing in their EPs, unheard, as would have been the case two decades ago - to say nothing of the ease with which they've been able to find people who like the depth and angle of their singular furrows because the internet, and bloggers, have helped get them in front of audiences around the globe? Would they really have been better off trying to slowly grow an audience out of their neighbourhood, then through their city, and across the state, hoping that they'd get their discs into shops and be able to tempt enough people to take a leap of faith, with fingers crossed that they might find a sympathetic college radio or two to play their music?

There is also, of course, the possibility that people aren't warming to their music because the album isn't as good as everyone hoped.

RIAA shovels out money

In another story about people being ordered to hand over cash, the RIAA has been made to settle the legal bills on behalf of Deborah Foster, the woman who it wrongly accused of illegal filesharing.

Of course, adding another $70,000 to the costs of pursuing the music industry lawsuits won't worry them overmuch - after all, they can just frighten a few more people into topping up the fund again under the threat of having to pay out more. What's telling, though, is that even when given this slapping by the courts (that legal systemwhich the RIAA insists we all must respect), the RIAA doesn't say "sorry":

"We respectfully believe that this ruling is in error and is an isolated occurrence."

Like so many large organisations, the RIAA believes in the rule of law, except when the law is ruling against itself.

Jackson quarter of a million down

Michael Jackson is finally having to pay up for getting off on the child molestation charges. Ayscough & Marar had done work for Jackson trying to keep sensitive data out the public realm. Jackson has eventually agreed to settle with the lawyers in order to draw a line under the potential losses; a judge has set the level of damages at $216,837 plus interest.

We're a little lost now as to if Jackson actually has any money or not. We suspect "not", but with some deft shuffling this shouldn't prove any problems.

Stefani sues

Gwen Stefani, or the part of her organisation that deals with the fashion designs, is suing Forever 21, who they claim have ripped off the LAMB line.

Obviously, they need to protect their intellectual property so they can sort out some sort of payment to the teenage Japanese girls whose ideas most of the broad themes were in the first place.

Mr & Mrs Sting must pay for discrimination

The chef sacked from Sting and Trudie Styler's employment for the sin of being pregnant has been awarded nearly £25,000 in damages. The tribunal commented that Jane Martin had surprised them by seeking a low level of recompense:

In his judgment, the tribunal chairman, James Simpson, stated that the level of compensation for Miss Martin's hurt feelings was set after that amount was requested by her legal representative Michael Norman.

He said the tribunal panel had expected the claim would have been much higher.

Mr Simpson added: "The tribunal was therefore surprised when Mr Norman, for the claimant, suggested the figure of £10,000 and that the claimant was not seeking aggravated damages or costs."

Lake House Estate, the company through which Sting and Trudie had employed Ms Martin until she had been so maddeningly female, have been given leave to appeal against both the judgement and the level of the award.

First night: Victoria Beckham in America

It was meant to be a series, launching her 'career' in America. Then it was downgraded to a single special, and given the title Coming To America. Even before she attempted a high-profile feud with Eddie Murphy, the choice of sharing the title of his film about a rich but naive figure bumbling their way through a world in which they can't coast on fame alone was a suggestion that NBC were setting her up for a fall.

And fall she did. Before transmission, the Searttle Post-Intelligencer sounded upbeat:

Tonight, NBC will air Victoria Beckham: Coming to America (8pm ET/PT), a behind-the-scenes look at Posh Spice's move from England to Los Angeles. She'll go house-shopping, hang out with friends, and give interested Americans a sense of who exactly these Beckhams are. Despite their name recognition, the essence of the Beckhams is still a mystery to most of us here. After watching some of the leaked segments from tonight's special, I think viewers are going to be delighted by what Victoria Beckham brings to the table. She has more personality than a thousand Paris Hiltons.

And after the programme, E!Online managed a kind word, but I suspect that Beckham might be less than thrilled at their tone:
Granted, it was a carefully planned and manipulated peek into her life, but I found it hysterical none the less. I mean, who wears heels and makeup to tan by the pool? I had many favorite moments from Posh’s hour-long special. I loved watching her get glam for her driver’s license photo, and proceeding to ask about retouches. It was funny when her new assistant told her that David’s “not ugly.” I love that after she was pulled over, she was more concerned with her footwear than her driving. It was hilarious when she dressed a blow-up doll to fool the paparazzi. It was also fun to watch her confront Perez Hilton, who felt her chest in the middle of a coffee shop.

That's going to be a hard "they're laughing with you" spin for Mr. Fuller.
Rotophonic didn't even enjoy laughing at her, calling the programme a "trainwreck":
Having to restage the show from six half-hours down to one hour must have been challenging for the 20 editors and AE’s assigned to this project, but thank heavens someone at the network caught a look at one of the dailies and sought to minimize the misery for the audience, while still giving the Beckhams their big appearance on American TV. Even the staged vignettes throughout this painful hour were so obvious that I had to force my wife to continue to watch. Reality editing lesson one: if the subject is being shot at dusk, don’t cutaway to a reaction shot in broad daylight. Sorry Tommy Lasorda.

The New York Times is simply puzzled:
There must be a reason NBC chose to lavish an hour of prime time tonight on “Victoria Beckham: Coming to America.”

But conspiracy theorists will be hard put to connect the dots. It’s not clear what links Philip F. Anschutz, the billionaire who agreed to pay David Beckham $27.5 million over five years to play for his soccer team, the Los Angeles Galaxy, to General Electric, the conglomerate that owns NBC. At first Google-glance, there appears to be little overlap between the corporations. If anything, their film divisions are competitors.

It could be a plot by the Trilateral Commission and Opus Dei, though some paranoids may prefer to point a finger at the Church of Scientology because the Beckhams, Victoria and David, are new best friends and neighbors of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. That’s just plain silly. Mr. Cruise has been on chilly terms with NBC ever since he excoriated psychiatry and Brooke Shields’s postpartum depression on that network’s “Today” program.

Unless, of course, the Beckham special is Mr. Cruise’s well-plotted revenge on the network.

The New York Daily News was also puzzled, as to how anyone could be so dull as to not rise to the challenge of US summer television:
The petite Brit known internationally as Posh Spice stars in an hour-long show (tomorrow night at 8 on NBC) that seems squished together from ages of tape. Rumor has it that Posh wasn't interesting enough to warrant a whole reality series.

I'm sorry, have you people seen this summer's crappy filler TV? "So You Think You Can Dance?" "Hey Paula?" "Pirate Master?" And Posh couldn't fill a few hours? If she could frown, she should.

They didn't even buy the Posh and Becks love story:
Her soccer star husband, David Beckham, distractingly hot, opens the show, participating in ordinary spousal tasks with his praying mantis wife: They get their hair done together and pose for a W magazine photo shoot in the desert. He, glistening and shirtless; she, wearing a strapless pouf with a violently pointy bodice. It's love, all right, only set in an alternate, creepy universe

Had we been Mr. Anschutz, investing a small fortune in the hope David could inspire interest in soccer in a market beyond the teenage girls who currently are the US football world, we might be a little worried this morning. Victoria might not have landed a fatal blow on brand Beckham in the US, but she's let daylight in on how very little magic there is.

Mercury shortlist announced. Oh.

The shortlist for this year's Mercury Music Prize has flopped out into the world, for all the world almost impossible to tell from a 'two new albums for a tenner' list you'd see in HMV, with a non-rock album tacked on as a treat:

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
Dizzee Rascal - Maths and English
The View - Hats Off to the Buskers
Maps - We Can Create
Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
Jamie T - Panic Prevention
The Young Knives - Voices of Animals and Men
Fionn Regan - The End of History
Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford - Basquiat Strings
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom

Dizzee Rascal? Again? I suspect that he now only releases albums so the Mercury panel can feel they're doing right by young black music. There are some acts we love on the list, but can't help but feel they're diminished by being lobbed into this lumpen mix.

The Guardian blogged live from the announcement of the list. It's interesting that Nationwide make much in their ads about how they don't take cash from customers to buy stuff for shareholders, yet quite happily sponsor the Mercurys, taking cash that could have been spent on savers to buy musicians and music journalists booze.

And you thought Geri Halliwell had no skills

Apparently, Geri has lifeskills to impart. Like this one, she offered to Victoria Beckham:

"One of the things Geri taught me... was that just before you get out of the shower, you should turn the temperature down and get a blast of freezing cold water. It makes your skin look really taut and smooth... and it's great for the circulation."

We presume the other things Geri taught her were too trivial to mention.

Free Prince as good as dead Princess

The circulation report for the Prince giveaway by the Mail On Sunday suggests the investment was worth it for the paper:

More than 3m copies were printed and sales were more than 2.8m, close to the 2.84m achieved after Princess Diana's death in 1997.

And there are words from the paper's managing editor, Stephen Miron, to chill the blood of record shops:
"We have seen a big increase in advertising revenue … and we have attracted some big international artists who have now got in touch with us [about similar deals].''

There are a slew of the albums cluttering up eBay, although only the ones that offer to ship to America are getting much interest. The paper might find there are fewer speculative buys for similar future promotions.

Blunt: Proud to be annoying

James Blunt has received the award for You're Beautiful being the most irritating song of all time, or something, with good grace:

"It's a huge honour to be recognised in this way," he said. "I am not going to take offence at the result of the poll - unless of course I came second. That would be desperately offensive".

Of course, the hundreds of thousands of pounds might help smooth the way.

Rhianna blamed for the summer

You'd have thought there was plenty enough news around at the moment - floods, Russians, enormous Homer Simpsons on the hillsides of Dorset - that newspapers wouldn't have to resort to simply making up flim-flam.

Not so. The Sun runs a claim that Rhianna's Umbrella is "responsible" for the rainy weather. No, really:

And now experts are wondering if clubbers who have been partying to Umbrella have unwittingly been doing a RAINDANCE.

"Experts", eh? Experts who believe it's possible to control the weather by dancing.

Surprisingly, The Sun somehow manages to neglect to name these scientific experts.
Looking back, Umbrella seemed destined to bring bad luck.

The video to the track was shot on Friday, April 13.

Before the single was released on May 14, Britain had been basking in sunshine.

Erm... yes, that really proves how it was destined to bring bad luck - a whole month of sunshine.
But just one day after the song hit the shops, severe weather warnings hit the headlines.

Oh. Well, that proves it.

It's somewhat surprising that any newspaper - even one as slight as The Sun - would hold its readership in such contempt that it would print this guff with a straight face. They might as well have run a page with a drawing of a cheese pie on it.

Pete 'Two Hats' Doherty

Seemingly afraid that his Old Man Steptoe hat is a look that's been copied by too many others, Pete Doherty has raised the stakes: he's taken to wearing two hats instead.

Somewhat surprisingly, he also managed to get himself fined for littering in Regent's Park despite having checked in to the court-mandated Harrogate rehab the previous evening. His team assure The Sun he hasn't broken the latest terms of his sentence, though:

His solicitor Sean Curran said the detox would start next Monday. He added: “Pete has been in Harrogate, but I believe he is back in London.”

Because what's the rush? It's not like he's an addict or anything. We're not sure why you'd head up to Harrogate a week early - it's not like he's got any choice about going there, so he wouldn't need to have a look around first. All rather odd.

Yes, by the way: littering. Odd that someone who's constantly banging on about how he feels such an affinity with Old Albion treats it with such little respect.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"People are calling me the Elvis Rock Lady"

It's clearly the height of summer in Colorado - There's room in the news for the story of a woman who has found Elvis in a piece of rock:

Alexander said she was cleaning the rocks before putting them in her yard when she saw the image and called her husband, Lynn Alexander, 63.

"I was about 20 feet away and the first thing I said was, 'That is Elvis,'" said Lynn Alexander.

It looks more like Disraeli to us, but we guess the market for Benji-tat on eBay is less lucrative than the Elvis market.

Rockobit: Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson, guitarist with rock legends Girlschool, has died at the age of 49.

Enfield-born Johnson joined the band as they morphed from Painted Lady into Girlschool, turning what had been a bit of fun into a serious proposition. Taken under the wing of Motorhead following the release of 1979 debut single Take It All Way. The patronage of Lemmy and the boys saw them develop a formidable live reputation, and, in the split 1980 EP The St Valentine's Day Masacre, a significant, if specialist, market for their records.

Johnson quit in 1983, as the band embarked on something of a lean period, becoming one of those acts seemingly on permanent tour, trading more off past glories than current inspiration, and even trying out new names and some stunt casting (She Devils, with Toyah on lead vocals and Strange Girls). But it was Johnson's return in 1993 that gave the band a new life. While never recapturing quiet the peak of their early 80s heyday, they moved beyond filling a role as their own tribute band.

Kelly had spent the time between her stints in Girlschool living in LA - she spent a couple of years in a band with former Go-Go Kathy Valentine. Her taste wasn't restricted to heavy rock - she cited Elastica as a favourite band, for example - but it's the genre she'll always be associated most strongly with.

Johnson's time with Girlschool came to an end in 2000 when she quit the music industry altogether; shortly afterwards, she was diagnosed with cancer of the spine. The last six years, she had fought the disease; sadly, she lost her battle sometime yesterday.

Rare occurence: Pop star falls over through not drinking enought

The unfortunate soul in question being Kelly Rowland who fell down, all dehydrated like, during a Lagos festival. She spent some time in hospital but is all fine now, apparently.

Pumpkins seek to reunite conjoined twins

We suspect there's an element of - let's be generous - press-friendly stuntery with the supposed search for the girls from the front of Siamese Dreams. We're not sure why they'd be seeking them - it's not like Billy Corgan needs a kidney and they'd be the only match, is it? - but good luck to them anyway. They can then join with Spencer Eldon to enjoy their walk-on part in rock mythology.

Steve O plots new career

We had been going to suggest that Steve O was plotting to add a second string to his bow, but then we realised we're not entirely sure he's got a single string yet. "Star of Jackass" isn't really a job description, is it? It's like suggesting that there's a career structure for not having a sense of shame.

Anyway, now he's getting musical on us: he's releasing a rap album. Oh, and, almost as if he's aware that it's a ridiculous idea, he's tried to pre-empt "idiot makes album to try and parlay his fifteen minutes into thirty" critcism by suggesting that will only sell albums for him:

To anyone that chooses to be critical of my decision to make this rap album, I've got bad news for you, it's a great album. I've been recording it with the producers of the one and only G-Unit and it is, indisputably, incredible, and made by the most talented people in rap music. So, since there's no criticisizing the quality of my album, anyone who chooses to will do nothing but sell units for me-- if that's what you're into, let me thank you ahead of time. Thank you.

If only Maureen From Driving School had thought of that one.

We do love the way he refers to "G-Unit" and "G-Unit staff" throughout what is a rather lengthy post - almost as if he's not prepared to name names. We'd imagine if you were learning football skills from Wayne Rooney, you wouldn't blog about it referring coyly to "Manchester United players", would you?

We haven't heard the album. It might be brilliant. However, we've seen Steve-O's idea of what makes good television, and if that is the standards he'd bringing to the once-proud genre of rap, even having Michael Franti and Sugar Ray Dinke on board to do everything bar pose for the cover photo might not be able to salvage this one.

In the Glastonbury trough

We suspect the BBC haven't revealed this information out the kindness of its heart, and is probably braced for criticism over the £68,000 it spent on entertaining people at Glastonbury this year. Including five buckshee tickets for MPs. Perhaps, if Eavis is sincere in his desire to make the festival less middle-class, he could cut out free tickets for corporate jollies as a useful starting point.

Pure delight

The lovely people at Too Pure - and we still think of them as being Th' Faith Healers label - are launching a singles club. Thirty quid will get you a year of seven inch singles, delivered to your door, still hot from the oven. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? There's a download option, too, but we suspect that might not come in a limited edition of 500.

This sort of thing never happened in Warrington

However much you might find Kerry Katona's celebrity existence perplexing and upsetting, you wouldn't wish an armed raid on her and her family.

There is a public service element to this, though, as we discover that the habit of giving interviews about where you're moving to, and what witty personalised number plates you have, and so on might turn out to make you a bit of a sitting duck when men with crowbars are looking for someone to turn over.

Charlie, Chaplin?

Trying desperately to cling to the few days last year when he was vaguely interesting, Tom Chaplin says that he still falls off the wagon from time to time:

"I still have long manic phases followed by terrible lows and I'm acutely aware that the whole thing could fall apart at any time.

"I've had a few relapses, but not for a few months now."

I suppose we should at least be delighted that he's not sharing his lumbago with us.

Suddenly, I see

KT Tunstall's strange relationship with music has been explained: she didn't listen to it as a child:

"It's luck I became a musician. I was a complete musical ignoramus as a kid.

"My parents don't listen to music. They're real outdoors types so we just went camping. And my younger brother is profoundly deaf so it was very unhelpful to have music on in the house."

While we can see that extraneous background noise would be awkward for someone trying to understand conversation, surely she didn't spend her entire childhood in the same room as her brother? And since when did 'going camping' preclude you from listening to music as well? "Put that mouth-organ down, Katie, I intend to fashion it into a rudimentary tent-peg."

It explains why she makes music as if it was a second language - not, of itself, a bad thing; indeed, the passion of a late convert could have made for some interesting, sharp-edged stuff. It hasn't, of course, but it might have done.

Rachel Stevens plans to park cars and pump gas

Rachel Stevens looks set to mess with a good thing as she's decided that, rather than being a pop singer (something she's rather good at), she wants to be an actor. In Hollywood. Like that Kate Beckinsale.

Don't do anything rash, Rachel, like sell up and move to LA on this whim...

Too late:

"Everyone knows me as a singer but my heart is in acting. "I am taking lessons because it is the best way to improve. I'm really serious about having a career in America and I am hoping to be signed to an agency soon."

Stevens, of course, is not well-known as an actor because, erm, she isn't very good at it. Two years ago, admittedly, she was in Deuce Bigalow II. A non-speaking part as "the dirty girl". And, let's not forget... erm, 2004's M&S advert and the bit part in a Comic Relief Spiderman spoof. At least it's not going to take casting directors too long to watch her show reel.

Rhianna: Somebody notices

At long - and we mean long last - someone, the Daily Record, in fact, has elected to mention how long Rhianna's been stinking up the top of the chart. Trouble is, it's not clear they can work up much enthusiasm for the story:

RIHANNA wrote her name into the record books last night with the biggest selling single of the year.

The R&B sensation's nine week reign at the top of the singles chart is the longest time an artist has stayed at No.1 in the past 10 years, only matched by Gnarls Barkley's Crazy.

In other words, it's... um, the longest-lasting number one since last year. Oh.
The 19-year-old Barbados-born starlet's smash hit Umbrella has sold an incredible 350,000 copies.

That is incredible - but only because Rhianna's been holding the number slot with an average sale of less than 40,000 a week.

Talking of implants...

According to the 3AM Girls, with all that implies, Kate Moss is still underwriting the cost of Doherty's heroin implants. They cost a small fortune, so Pete will be in with a shout at the moocher of the year awards.

Kate Moss attacked for bad example

“She is meant to inspire young girls, but how can a walking skeleton inspire anyone?

“Considering she’s a supermodel she looks more like Kate Fungus than Kate Moss. Her body actually looks like it’s eating itself.”

Who is speaking his mind on how Kate Moss presents a bad body image that will inspire young women to put their body through unnatural practices?

Peter Andre. Who is famous for being married to a woman whose breasts are made out of plastic.

We do love the way he's trying to be clever with the "Kate Moss? More like Kate Fungus" thing, even though it's totally meaningless. Pete could be confusing fungus with bacteria. We have visions of him getting home, slapping his head and saying "god, I'm an idiot - I said Kate Fungus and I meant Kate Necrotizing-Fasciitis. I'm always getting those two muddled up."

Shouldn't this have happened first?

What a wonderful idea - somebody from the Malawian Ministry of Children's Welfare is going to visit one of Madonna's many homes to decide if Mr and Mrs Ciccone are fit people to bring up David Banda. The cynical amongst us might wonder if the time to weigh up the appropriateness of a home is before the child is ripped from his birth family and flown halfway across the world; and, indeed, if an official from a ministry whose staff have received the benefit of one of the prospective parent's largess and - possibly even been promised more. With a decision as important as this one, surely the inquiry should be above suspicion - a third party could have been asked to do the meeting on the Ministry's behalf. Last year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Queen, storms, off

The Ashton Court Festival in Bristol was forced to pull its second day because of heavy rain:

The festival site is unsafe for the public due to the treacherous ground conditions, which have made it impossible to guarantee emergency services on-site.

"After taking advice from health and safety officials, emergency services and licensing authorities at a meeting this morning, the organisers took the difficult decision to cut short the event."

Today's headline delight was to have been the Good, the Bad and the Queen.

McGee loves Lennon

Something interesting from earlier this week in Alan Mcgee's Guardian blog - a stout defence of Sean Lennon as musician. McGee thinks he's the "most underrated musical talent on the planet".

No, he really does:

America has accepted him as an artist - a consummate muso, in fact - and he regularly plays to more than a 1,000 people a night over there. Here in the UK, he's just a Beatle's kid.

Of course, it doesn't occur to McGee that the reason why he can play to 1000 people in the US may just be because he's a Beatle's kid, and not despite it.

In fact, McGee then goes on to sound like Michael Caine and any one of those people who feel they don't get enough respect in their home land:
The UK in general inspires people to fail. I blame the weather.

Hmmm. Really? The UK inspires people to fail. That'd be why the Beatles fell flat on their arses, would it?
If he can keep putting out albums of this quality he will be quite rightly accepted as one of the modern-day greats along with Noel Gallagher, Elliot Smith, Damon Albarn and Rufus Wainwright.

Interesting, in fact, that two of the artists he cites there are from the UK. Where we're busily inspiring people to fail.

(And Jim McCabe - who sent the link to me - points out the irony in comparing Noel Gallagher and the offspring of John Lennon.)

If we were Sean Lennon, before we print this one off for our cutting library, we might suck a thoughtful tooth and weigh McGee's measure of genius. Perhaps using Baby Amphetamine as a control.

Remy Ma turns up

Following on from the events of the last 24 hours, rapper Remy Ma has handed herself into police. Her legal team is now preparing a stout defence in the face of charges of attempted murder:

Her lawyer, Scott Leemon, asked fans to "keep an open mind" and said "things are not always as they seem".

We'll let you know if they come up with anything.

The Prince and the poor-push

If the Official Chart Company really wanted to piss off the Mail on Sunday, it should have made the Prince giveaway eligible for the album charts - as, of course, it would also have had to have given the same treatment to the News of the World's spoiler Prince album (made up of bits of ropey old off-cuts). And since the NOTW sells more than the MOS, it would have comfortably beaten the official CD into second place.

EDIT: It turns out the NOTW was pulling even more of a flanker: it wasn't a covermount - they simply gave away 1000 copies of Purple Rain on a dial-in phone number, reports the Housequake Prince forum. I'd only seen the front of the paper in the store and hadn't been able to take a closer look...

Showbizwith Zoe grovels

Good lord, what did Patsy Kensit threaten to do to the Sunday Mirror's Showbizwith Zoe to get such a swift and cringing apology in this week's piece?

OOPS, silly me... it seems Patsy Kensit and Nicole Appleton are much better pals than I made out last week.

She's been in touch to say there's no friction at all between the pair.

Patsy and her ex Liam Gallagher have an eight-year-old son, Lennon, and Nicole and Liam have a six-year-old son, Gene.

After last week's Live Earth concert, they all went back to Liam's for a family barbecue. I'm told Patsy and Nicole even have lunch together.

Good on you Patsy!

We especially love the last line - the "good on you Patsy" for no reason whatsoever other than to hope it'll finally persuade her to take her stiletto off Zoe's foot.

Beckham tries to raise profile

In a desperate bid to try and get herself noticed in America, Victoria Beckham is trying to start a high-profile feud.

By threatening to cut off Eddie Murphy's penis.

We're sure the soccerman's wife having a go at one of the more bankable Hollywood names will be a great help to her in establishing her career, and isn't the most ill-judged piece of fake-controversy-stirring since I'm A Celeb booked John Lydon.

Acrimonious divorce... on holiday?

The somewhat two-dimensional coverage of the McCartney-Mills divorce in the press is struggling to cope with the suggestion that, erm, the pair are going to go on holiday together with their kid. The News of the World tries to imply McCartney must be out of his head by the least-subtle means ever:

A source close to Paul, 65—whose classic Beatles hits include Fool on the Hill, We Can Work It Out and Help!—said: "Incredible as it may seem the idea looks like a goer.

I suppose it's lucky that The Beatles never included the track "Fucking hell, you old twat, the one-legged woman is evil" on Revolver.

Then the paper goes a step further:
Multi-millionaire Paul has told aides he's willing to give Heather a chance, despite her branding him a booze-fuelled, drug-taking wife-beater.

Our source added: "That was last year. Macca's on a high now—all his troubles seem so far away."

The source said that, did he? You've got a source who delivers his leaks in Beatles couplets, do you?