Saturday, May 03, 2008

Racist Justice?

French TV is shunning the current video by Justice, for the Stress single. The promo's depiction of youths running amok in the streets has an apparently racist tinge to it. The ensuing controversy, and YouTubing of the video, has sparked some life into Justice's career. We're sure, of course, that there's nothing in any way cynical about the whole operation. No, no, no.

American idles: Is the steamroller running out of steam?

This week's edition of American Idol - the one where Paula Abdul provided a critique of a song that didn't exist - was notable for another reason; the show dropped off 1.2 million viewers week-on-week; its worst performance in a half-decade. There is a season for all things - could, at last, Cowell's behemoth be entering its autumn?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Jeff Jarvis on the Decade Delta:

iTunes is 5 years old this week. The seb internet turned 15 yesterday. The decade delta between those dates is the generous amount of time the music industry had to save itself from the fate that overcame it … and didn’t. In these five years, iTunes has sold more than 4 billion songs. Think of how many songs the music industry could have sold us if only they’d gone with the flow of new opportunities and given us the chance instead of persecuting us and resisting reality while trying to preserve outdated business models based on outmoded technology.

Organic pop sales

Following on from the success - or, perhaps, not quite so much success - of Starbucks' CD sales, now the US supermarket chain Whole Foods is launching a 'discover new artists' campaign, flogging CDs from acts starting with Greg Laswell.

Laswell does, at least, have the beard-and-sweater of the type of person who happily shops at Whole Foods, paying the shocking mark-up on produce accounted for by some sort of woolly-lovely idea that driving to one massive store is, somehow, more kind to the planet than driving to your nearest supermarket and buying the same stuff at lower prices.

Rod Stewart's son: cleared of bricks

Rod Stewart's Son, Rodstewart'sson Stewart, has had charges against him dismissed. Sean Stewart, who makes his living as Rod Stewart's son, had been accused of assault with a deadly weapon, but his attorney argued that it wasn't clear he'd been involved in the throwing of missiles following a dispute on the road:

His attorney Dana Cole said: "Over the course of time, it became apparent to the district attorney's office that it may have been mistaken identity. There were a lot of people on the street at the time and he was a recognizable face."

We love the idea that his defence rested on his supposedly famous face, but it's worked. A civil case relating to the incident remains to come before the courts.

Venuewatch: The Lomax revives

For one night only, the Liverpool Lomax is being celebrated with a reunion on the 28th May at, erm, The Cavern. Ticketmaster are flogging the tickets, and the line-up is quite good:

Ian McNabb and the Dead Gratefuls
The Aeroplanes
Man From Michael
China Crisis
Phil Jones
Frank Sidebottom (full Beatles set)
Eddie Shit

It's probably inevitable that Eddie Shit is on the list; he seemed to be something of a regular at the old Lomax. Although on nights when you'd never leave Old Man's Pub across the street.

Lindsay Lohan becomes a poster child for drunk-driving

Several states in America are currently pondering legislation which would make convicted drunk drivers install a device in their vehicles which would make their cars incapable of starting if they try to drive drunk.

The drinks industry is, for some reason, confused by this - it's decided that while drunk-driving is bad, it's also some sort of human right. And so it's running adverts with photos of Lindsay Lohan. No, really:

The full-page black-and-white ad appeared in USA Today on Friday and was paid for by the American Beverage Institute, a trade group that supports the interests of the alcohol industry. The ad reads "Ignition interlocks are a good idea for" above Lohan's mug shot from her July 24, 2007, arrest and "But a bad idea for us" above smaller photos of people drinking.

We're not entirely sure if they're suggesting that Lindsay Lohan - and Lindsay Lohan alone - should be breath-tested every time she starts a car, and that everybody else should be free to drive while intoxicated lest it interfere with their business, but it does seem like that.

Lohan's people, meanwhile, have suggested that she thinks the ignition interlock might be a good idea all round:
USA Today is idiotic to run such an irresponsible advertisement suggesting that drinking and driving is some kind of American 'tradition' we should protect," Lohan's lawyer, Blair Berk, said in a statement. "Not identifying that this ad was paid for by the liquor and restaurant industries is profoundly reckless.

"Drunk, white businessmen, drunk housewives out for girls night out and drunk wedding parties should be kept off the roads of America," Berk continued. "Lindsay Lohan fully endorses ignition interlock devices, which have been well-proven to save lives."

The US drinks industry seems to miss the reason why people are upset by the idea that some Americans should be allowed to drive drunk as if it upholds a tradition:
The American Beverage Institute stood by its use of Lohan's image.

"People magazine, Smoking Gun and a lot of people have republished this mug shot," said Longwell. "It was publicly accessible. We're not using it for any kind of commercial gain. So we're well within our rights to use it."

It's not that you used Lohan's picture, you idiots, it's that you think it's a good idea to campaign against the measure in these terms in the first place.

Does Diddy know what he's saying?

We're sure P Diddy-Wah-Wah didn't quite mean to make the surprising announcement he slipped out in Hollywood:

"It's also like my coming-out party here in Hollywood," Combs told AP. "I don't have nothing to hide about that. If I'm going to come someplace, I'm going to make some noise, and you're going to know I'm here."

So, that would be Diddy being out and - with nothing to hide - proud. We feel as if we should send some sort of card.

Darkness at 3AM: We bet Jessica's relieved, too

We're suspecting that she hasn't actually been asked, but 3AM heard on Heat Radio that Ashlee Simpson won't be playing Jessica's wedding to whoever she's getting married to.

Yes, the 3AM Girls have now replaced research with "listening to Heat Radio". Still, it does allow them to discover that Pete Wentz has some sort of pet's passport:

She missed Pete so much on her trip to London she had him flown over.

He'll be reunited with her just as soon as he's out of quarantine.

Not stirred

So, after more packing in more flip-flops than a busload of British tourists heading to Orlando, it turns out that Amy Winehouse won't be doing the new Bond theme. Because - surprise - she's too screwed:

Speaking to Sky News, Mark [Ronson] explained: "We tried to work for a little bit. I'm not sure she's ready to work on music yet."

Asked if the track would ever be completed, he replied: "I don't think so unless by some miracle of science it gets recorded and someone sings a vocal on it so probably not. We did work on it but we never finished it so that's about it."

Amusingly, Winehouse's people have countered the project foundered on "muscial differences". Like Ronson wanted to make some, Winehouse wanted to just score.

Stop honking your mouth out

There's another story on Gordon's page this morning which is also picked up by Stop Crying Your Heart Out, a pro-Oasis news site. Michael Eavis has expressed his disappointment at Noel's attack on Jay-Z:

“Why did he need to get involved? It was a bit weird, to be honest.

“He should give someone else a chance. He needn’t have said that and I was disappointed he did.

“He said it’s a place for guitar bands — but there are loads of guitar bands playing.”

Why did Noel get involved in something that he understands little about, and has nothing useful to add? Because he isn't dead, presumably.

SCYHO, though, isn't going to let Eavis get away with a moderate exasperated tut:
However, I reckon Noel has every right to make his feelings known and was only saying what most music fans were thinking.

Well, yes, he does have a right to make this "feelings" known - even if they're so ass-headed they were communicated in fart-sounds - but that doesn't mean there was any real need for him to do so.

And "what most music fans were thinking", eh? I'd love to see some empirical evidence for the belief that "most music fans" dislike Jay-Z more than, say, Noel Gallagher.

Gordon in the morning: Fashion advice shunned

Poor Gordon isn't happy: Lily Allen has ignored his fashion advice, prompting that what-is-he-thirteen "look you can see her nipples" "She's hiding Smarties down her top" joke that he does every time.

Elesewhere, he reports on some sort of battle amongst people who have sex with footballers. Fiona Barratt (who is girlfriend of Sol Campbell, apparently in lieu of a career) moans about Victoria Beckham on what appears to be grounds of being less than famous than her. People tried to take pictures of Beckham during the world cup, it turns out. Just fancy that.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

James Cridland went to the Guardian's Radio Reborn conference earlier this week, and took notes:

Paul Brown, DRDB: is fed up of the radio industry ’staring up our own fundements’. I do like Paul. Points out listener figures, and set sales, are high. Says commercial radio isn’t very good at selling ads on digital radio, interestingly. Very bullish about radio in the future. Says that radio has been hampered by ‘indecisiveness’ because of being owned by shareholders. Says that commercial radio doesn’t crosspromote enough. Mentions that PlanetRock had more Sony Radio Academy Award nominations than any other national station (not entirely sure that’s right, but it did get quite a few).

The comments are great, too:
I like how Fru had to say that GCap were bigger than

A few years ago it would be obvious that a commercial radio group would be bigger than an internet station. Now it’s become notable. How the internet changes things…

James Taylor afternoon: Her Town Too

Continuing an afternoon with James Taylor, JD Souther turns up for a run through Her Town Too:

[Part of James Taylor weekend]

Xfm goes networked

The geniuses running XFM have decided that, in future, much more programming on the regional stations will be networked during the day.

Great news for the Manchester branch of the network, then - having managed to increase its share of all listening in its region from 1.2% to 2.30% in twelve months, it's now going to have dump lots of its programming to make way for stuff coming from London, whose share of all listening fell from 1.80% to 0.90% in the same period. Apparently this is somehow going to help "the financial viability" of the brand.

Hives "let gorillas choose set list"

The Hives are playing some sort of festival at a zoo, and according to are letting the animals choose which songs they'll play:

Speaking to NME.COM, The Hives' singer Pelle Almqvist said he was letting the zoo's animals influence his choice of setlist for the gig.

"We're a bit scared that the gorillas will start a riot if we don't play the right songs," he explained. "We've never played a zoo before you know? Once we played at a festival in (hometown of) Fagersta in a field and their were cows there. Did they like our music? Well cows are pretty chilled out generally aren't they? So yes, I think so."

Given that the Zoo Thousand and Eight festival at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park also features Chas and Dave, we shouldn't expect The Hives would need to worry about what the animals think of their set; they'll clearly be at the other stage.

James Taylor afternoon

Back to 1977, and James Taylor is joined by Carly Simon to sing Close Your Eyes:

[Part of the James Taylor afternoon]

Non-existent record attempt made by Beth Ditto and, erm, Pearl from Powder

We don't like to be snarky at charities, we really don't, and Crisis do brilliant work and we suggest you support them. Give them some money. Go on.

Having said that, what on earth is point of the thinking behind the "bid to break the world record for number of downloads of a charity single on a single day"? We know it's supposed to create a bit more interest around the Enemy/Beth Ditto/Paul Weller/Supergrass single, but how is making up a record which nobody would ever have even thought of really going to help?

They've got Pearl Spam from Powder involved:

Ambassador for Crisis, Pearl Lowe, said: "Before everyone goes off for the bank holiday, we want them to think about giving something back and helping us to set this world record."

But it's not a world record, is it? It's just quantifying something that's never been measure before, like me deciding I'm going to break the world record for the most embedded James Taylor videos in a music blog on a Friday. Good cause, terrible half-arsed marketing idea.

Beware of the Dogg

Despite the appeals judge pointing out that the great Snoop Dogg Heathrow fight consisted of him trying to entertain some kids while the police and British Airways staff went in heavy-handed, the government has announced it intends to appeal over plans to let Snoop Dogg come back into the UK. Probably because Brown desperately needs one policy to remain unchanged week to week:

"We maintain that the immigration judge in the initial hearing made a material error in law.

"We will continue to oppose the entry to the UK of individuals where we believe there may be a risk to the public."

Curious they should insist it was an error in law, rather than in judgement, as we're pretty certain the appeal by Mr. Dogg was upheld because the judge didn't think there had been any risk demonstrated, not because of some clever, Alan Shaw style legal arguments from the Snoop team. Does the Labour government really feel that British people would sleep less soundly if Snoop was allowed to take rooms in Hounslow or Havant? Are they that far out of touch?

Kylie knight

The French government who, frankly, seem to hand out membership of the the order of Arts and Letters like a commercial radio station hands out signed photos and goodie bags, has decided to honour Kylie Minogue by awarding her the title:

Minogue, who will collect the honour at a ceremony in Paris on May 5th, has been given the award for her “contribution to the enrichment of French culture”.

Blimey, she must have done wonders for Olivier Martinez, musn't she?

Kylie is thrilled, too:
“French culture has influenced me greatly and I have always had colossal respect for the arts and people of France,” Minogue added.

Well, she did have a hit with a French title, didn't she?

Embed and breakfast man: James Taylor afternoon

BBC Four is having a James Taylor night this evening from nine, with all manner of Tayloresque programming. Never having any shame at hitching our bicycle to ride in the slipstream of a bigger bus, we're going to sprinkle some Taylor over the afternoon.

This is You've Got A Friend (the theme from the AA advert, as I suppose we're meant to think of it now) live in 1971:

More James Taylor this afternoon:
With Carly Simon doing Close Your Eyes in 1977
With JD Souther doing Her Town Too

[Buy: One Man Band CD-DVD greatest hits one-two]

Darkness at 3AM: Somewhat in the dark

Gordon might have made himself look a little silly by trying to pretend that his review of the Madonna gig in New York was an "exclusive", but compared with this morning's 3AM Girls, he looks like a man in control of his brief. Mirror readers are told to ready themselves this morning:

Madge will also launch her assault on the US media this month to promote Hard Candy.

Did nobody even send them a press release?

Erm, yes, apparently, as at the same time Mirror readers are told about Madonna flying to New York to promote Hard Candy. Although, surely, that must have been on Tuesday?

Gordon in the morning: A new meaning of exclusive

You might have enjoyed reading reviews of Madonna's New York gig over the last day and a half. Apparently, Gordon hadn't, as he seems convinced that his review was somehow "exclusive". Although, to be fair, his fawning piece is the only one which didn't mention her falling over at the end or the vocal track screwing up, so it's exclusive in that sense.

Mind you, Gordon didn't only have eyes for Madonna. He was very excited by Justin Timberlake, too:

He’s a complete Lord, JT. The man simply oozes charisma, dances like MICHAEL JACKSON and he spread a smile across Madonna’s face with his cheeky performance.

While Gordon is over in New York, someone credited simply as "online reporter" is holding up the nipple count in his column:
Desperate Jay sinks to new low

IF there was a letter after Z in the alphabet, that’s the list JAY NICHOLS would be on.

The desperate glamour 'model' - a veteran of the capital's party circuit - pulled her oddest stunt yet by turning up at Chinawhite wearing this number.

Hmm. Oddly, having rolled eyes at how desperate Nichols (who she?) is, the paper then obliges by running pictures of her. And giving her a load of coverage. Surely that makes Gordon's column much more desperate than the woman? Calling "look at me" is one thing, but rushing over yelling "look at the woman calling 'look at me'" must be worse.

Meanwhile, Pete Samson again delivers a proper exclusive - which may or may not be true, of course - claiming not just that Pete Doherty is going to be released on Tuesday but will then spend the next three days "getting smashed". You can tell it's a serious story, as they actually source a quote. Admittedly, only this one:
Ex-Home Office minister ANNWIDDECOMBE [sic] declared: “Nobody should ever come out that early.”

The real surprise, of course, is that Pete's planning a three-day boozy celebration - didn't the Sun tell us he'd become Muslim during his time in jail? Why, it's almost as if that wasn't true.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Only Guy Hands would invest so much in a dying business

The guy who tried to cash a $360 billion cheque claimed that his girlfriend's mother had given him the money to start a record label. Presumably she was only investing for ten per cent of the stock...

XFM: The great switch-off

Bloody hell, no wonder the team at XFM panicked and brought back daytime presenters: the experiment of dumping DJs has caused the station to tank, mislaying 40% of its audience year-on-year, according to today's audience stats.

The trouble for XFM is that its audience is younger, smarter and more plugged in to the web - having persuaded a couple of hundred of thousand of them to look elsewhere for entertainment, it's going to be virtually impossible to tempt them back.

Still, at least the hollowing out of the XFM audience has spared its 'flagship' sister station the humiliation of being overtaken by the indie-snits down the corridor. Capital is continuing to do badly - the Vaughan-Van Outen breakfast show now languishes behind Magic and Heart. Capital MD Paul Jackson is insisting that it's still "early days" for the new schedule, although since Van Outen popped up on the station back in February it doesn't really seem all that early in the day. Perhaps Jackson has a different concept of "early" to the rest of us. Maybe he thinks getting up at Noon is "early to rise." If he does get up at midday, it would explain why he thinks the Vaughan-VanOuten breakfast show is a good idea, I suppose.

More worryingly for Capital, it's now having its arse kicked by Kiss:

Kiss had 1.58 million listeners, the first time it has had a bigger audience than Capital [on 1.56m], although its audience share of 4.3% is behind the GCap Media station's 4.6%.

Nationally, both Moyles and Wogan had record audiences at breakfast and Radio 1 has broken the 11 million barrier - the first time since back when Sara Cox was doing breakfasts.

Darkness at 3AM: A little behind deadline

Perhaps the 3AM Girls really do stay up to 3AM writing their column, which would explain why (a) it reads like it's been written by people who desperately want to be asleep and (b) it sometimes doesn't come spuming out of the TrinityMirror RSS machine until lunchtime.

Now they're live, we can all enjoy what sort-of-passes for wit amongst the Spice Girls:

Geri Halliwell has taken a pop at Eddie Murphy, who still hasn't seen his baby with her fellow Spice Girl Mel B. Asked to name her favourite Murphy film, Geri sneered: "Daddy Day Care."

Well, yes, that'll show Murphy.

They also find room fro this:
Kelly Osbourne certainly doesn't have the luck of the Irish. She tracked down digits for Danny O'Donoghue, of Dublin rockers The Script, so she could call for a meet-up - but he was in LA working.

Woman discovers man she doesn't know isn't in when she phones him! Hold the front page! We do, however, enjoy the implication that while Osbourne might lack the luck of the Irish, it certainly didn't desert O'Donoghue. If, of course, he really was working in LA, and not merely hiding behind the sofa mouthing "tell her I'm in LA" when Kelly rang.

Elvis in London

The latest Word podcast had some fun with the claims that Elvis Presley came to London and hung out with Tommy Steele without anyone noticing, suggesting it's a tale with the stamp of something that someone once said in passing that got passed around and more-or-less backed Steele into a wall of having to claim it was all true.

Now, someone who was with Presley on his trip to Europe has officially squashed the tale:

"My apologies to Tommy, but it did not happen," said Mr Fike, who was in the US army with Presley in Germany.

"I was with him the whole time," he told the BBC News website. "I got there two days after he got there. He was confined to base."

Presley did visit Paris and Munich during his 18 months in Germany, Mr Fike said, but added: "Had he gone to England, I'd have been there."

Steele has previously tried to play down the tale:
In a note to the Daily Mail newspaper, Steele said he "swore never to divulge publicly" what took place and "regrets" that news leaked out.

"I can only hope he [Presley] can forgive me," he said. "It was an event shared by two young men sharing the same love of their music and the same thrill of achieving something unimaginable."

Elvis achieved the unimaginable of inventing fame and turning Rock and Roll into a mass-market commodity; Tommy Steele managed the unimaginable of persuading ITV to make Quincy's Quest. We imagine they would have had an awful lot to talk about. Had the meeting ever happened.

We're expecting Tommy to send another note to the Mail in a couple of days saying "Did I say Elvis? I meant I showed Hans Lohmmann, my German penfriend, round London. I always got those two muddled up."

Quincy's Quest? Oh, you do:

Mojo Awards: They like their Duffy

The annual Mojo awards, which they call the Mojo Honours (slogan: 'Every bit as important as the Q Awards') have issued their shortlist for 2008. It's come out now so you can manage your expectations down.

The nominations in full:

Breakthrough Act
1 Duffy
2 Foals
3 Pete Molinari
4 The Last Shadow Puppets
5 Bon Iver

Best Album
1 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! (Mute)
2 Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino)
3 Radiohead – In Rainbows (XL)
4 Duffy – Rockferry (A&M/Rough Trade)
5 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand (Decca/Rounder)

Compilation Of The Year
1 Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan (Ace)
2 The Very Best Of Ethiopiques: Hypnotic Grooves From The Legendary Series (Buda/Manteca)
3 Cries From The Midnight Circus: The Ladbroke Grove Scene 1968-1971 (Sanctuary/Universal)
4 From The Motion Picture Control (Warners)
5 Juno OST (Warners)

Song Of the Year
1 LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends (DFA/EMI)
2 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!! (Mute)
3 The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age Of The Understatement (Domino)
4 Richard Hawley – Tonight The Streets Are Ours (Mute)
5 Duffy – Mercy (A&M/Rough Trade)

Best Live Act
1 Arctic Monkeys
2 Rufus Wainwright
3 Seasick Steve
4 Led Zeppelin
5 Neil Young

Actually, it's easy to mock the Mojos (go on, have a go) and, yes, of course it's got Alex Turner running through it like a rust-stain on a public lavatory wall, but at least there are a couple of names on the shortlist which mark it out as having a slightly different intent to the others. We love the idea that Bon Iver is an act which has, in some way, broken through something in the last twelve months.

Of course, they'll wind up sharing out the prizes between Turner and Duffy and, thus, turn themselves back into a simulacrum of every other awards ceremony. But at least they've tried.

You can trust the music industry

All those guys in the record labels - they're pretty straight kinda guys. You can trust them.

Up to a point. The Australian RIAA client has got an only-slightly-sinister-sounding Music Industry Piracy Investigations unit which has produced a video for kids to teach them about copying being bad. It turns out, though, that they got some musicians to take part by lying to them:

Frenzal Rhomb guitarist Lindsay McDougall, also a radio presenter at Triple J, told the Herald he was furious at being "lumped in with this witch hunt" and that he had been "completely taken out of context and defamed" by the Australian music industry, which funded the video.

He said he was told the 10-minute film, which is being distributed for free to all high schools in Australia, was about trying to survive as an Australian musician and no one mentioned the video would be used as part of an anti-piracy campaign.

The MIPI Unit denies that anyone was duped:
Sabiene Heindl, general manager of the music industry's anti-piracy arm, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), which partly coordinated the film and is pushing for it to be included in school units related to copyright and file sharing, said all of the feedback she had received so far from other artists and their managers had been positive.

She questioned whether McDougall had actually watched the film and said only 1-2 minutes of it discussed the issue of downloading and how it impacted musicians.

- although it seem strange that a Piracy unit would be making a film which wasn't actually about piracy, and push for it to appear in schools when teaching about copyright if it wasn't about copyright. We love the way they're saying "well, nobody else complained" as if that somehow disproves McDougall's complaint.trip

Songwriter's payday: AOL, Yahoo, Real told to dig deep

A Federal Judge in the US has settled the long-running debate about how much the major internet companies should be paying to songwriters. The judgement could be backdated to the start of the millennium; sample figures suggest that AOL will have to find six million dollars, for example, to cover 2006 alone.

Hendrix "sex tape": Kerry Katona not involved

The sudden appearance of a grainy movie which may or may not feature Jimi Hendrix having sex has upset the Hendrix estate. Which is perhaps unsurprising; they get upset whenever anyone (other than themselves) turns a few quid off the Hendrix name:

"On behalf of both the Jimi Hendrix Foundation and Brave New World, I want to address the despicable news in regards to the Jimi Hendrix 'sex tape.' Regardless of the tape's authenticity, it is obvious that this is an intentional means to profit off of the exploitation of the greatest musician of our time. This by no means is a reflection of the contribution he's given to us all through his talents and therefore we will aggressively pursue any and every legal course of action to protect the integrity of his legacy."

An obvious attempt to profit, you say? Why, yes, it would be.

Of course, half the potential interest in the tape disappeared when one of the key market segments discovered the tape was filmed while he was still alive.

Weller, Gallagher: Echoes beached

The press people are very optimistic about the Weller-Noel Gallagher collaboration Echoes Round The Sun:

Weller co-wrote the song with Oasis' Noel Gallagher. The song is brilliant, a shimmering blast of pure energy, destined to join The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" and The Chemical Brothers' "Setting Sun" as an instant anthem of British rock.

Well, you can certainly hear how that's what they were trying to do - trouble is, what they've ended up with sounds more like one of Weller's slow songs fighting with an early Ash track. Don't take our word for it: It's on Stereogum.

Gordon in the morning: Have you had sex with Amy, too?

Although there doesn't seem to be very much evidence for any of it - like a jealous husband, Gordon seems to assume that Amy Winehouse is sleeping with any man she talks to - Smart claims he's uncovered "lover number three" this morning:

Now it’s BABYSHAMBLES guitarist MIK WHITNALL who has been telling pals he’s bedded the Rehab singer.

So, he's told you, has he?
A pal revealed: “He says they’ve slept together a couple of times. He told a few people after that stuff about her and ALEX HAINES came out."

Ah. So some person - we have absolutely no idea who, or if they even exist - says that he says that he slept with her. Oh, and someone's mocked up an image of Amy with lots of men's names written on her thorax, so it must be true then.

Elsewhere, Gordon's descent into self-parody continues with a headline about a visit to a DIY store by Lily Allen:
Lily gets new some knockers

Yes, I'm afraid this is a gag about door knockers:
She spent ages in a DIY store in London hunting for perfect door knockers.

Although she appears to actually be looking at door handles in the pictures.

Gordon chides Allen:
Take some advice from me Lily – consider buying some less revealing tops to cover up your own...

Although, since the photo of her in the hardware store shows she's wearing a sweater, it's hard to see what he means.

Still, buried on the page, Gordon does have a good story - Keith Duffy's put the Boyzone comeback at risk, because he's got blood poisoning. He was having a tattoo when he picked up the disease. His life is really turning into a bad episode of My Family.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shouldn't there be a charity to help Cliff

Poor Cliff Richard - the man is on his uppers, he says:

Cliff: I have to sell trinkets on my website to make money because ageist record bosses won't play my records

Actually, the story that appears under this headline on the Mail website isn't quite that cut and dried: they've cut and shunted two stories together. The first is Cliff moaning on that they don't play his records on the radio anymore - comments, erm, he's made on a Radio 2 show dedicated to celebrating him and his music; onto the end of this was tacked something else entirely:
And a glance look at Sir Cliff's own website today paints a rather depressing picture of where much of his new income is coming from.

Mail order items for sale include T-shirts, sweatshirts, concert brochures, mugs, pens, keyrings and even a "Cliff" diamante belt buckle and official 50th anniversary pendant are for sale. Other items include signed calendars, 'official teddy bears, a miniature gold juke box and an embroidered ski hat celebrating his recent tour.

His Vida Nova rose and tinto wine is also for sale there, Cliff tells us, as it is in Waitrose on-line.

While his four different perfumes - Miss You Nights, Dream Maker, Devil Woman and Summer Holiday - are all now currently on sale on-line too.

Sir Cliff's former producer Clive Black added: "These projects are all hobbies of his. He loves tennis and gardening too and I wouldn't be surprised if he bought a nursery. He's just lucky that he is able to make a living from them.

"He has a strong army of believers in his fan club and he doesn't want to be at the beck and call of anyone except himself. He doesn't want his career dependent on record labels."

But isn't this less that Cliff is being "forced" to flog tat to make ends meet; more that he's churning out a load of old gubbins secure in the knowledge that he's got a massive army of fans who'll lap it up by the caseload?

After all, it's the prime minister who taps Cliff for the free holidays, not the other way round. Not getting a slot on Horizon FM can't be hitting him too firmly, can it?

What's that smell?

Adding to the increasingly unlikely range of celebrity smells: Tim McGraw, a fragrance for men who probably don't really feel comfortable wearing fragrances.

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Oh, cheers, brother. With Ali Campbell bounced out of UB40, the band have drafted in his own brother, Duncan, to fill the gap.

Duncan is something of a musician in his own right, you understand:

Duncan, a former professional spoon player, will join his other brother, guitarist Robin Campbell, in the group.

It's not clear if Duncan might be persuaded to pick up the spoons again. We'd quite like to see Red, Red Wine with spoons.

Too Pure bands: Stereolab

One of Too Pure's bigger hitters: Stereolab, with Cybele's Reverie.

[More Stereolab videos]
[Part of Too Pure's last hurrah]

Macca: Thank you

Paul McCartney turns up in the Liverpool Echo talking about his Anfield gig:

SIR Paul said his Capital of Culture Anfield concert would be a personal thank-you to his home city.

“I’m doing a decent length of songs,” he said, denying earlier rumours that he was singing only four numbers.

“I know we’ve also got a few guests. But I’m not sure of exactly who. It’s still a bit up in the air so I wouldn’t get anybody’s hopes up.”

“It’s going to be interesting.

“But it is basically my tribute to Liverpool.”

A personal thank-you - although a curious sort of thank-you which the people being thanked are having to foot a two million quid bill in order to be thanked. I wonder if - given the choice - most people in Liverpool would rather spend the cash on something other than getting a thumbs-up from Macca.

Pop will save the childrens

Sugababes have worries about our nation's soft-headed children. They grow up too fast, because pop doesn't save them:

Keisha told the Daily Star: "What I really want is to see more pop bands. I want it to go back to the days of Smash Hits, when we’d tour with Blazin’ Squad and Girls Aloud and have a blast.

"Even the Saturday shows where we dressed up and got gunked don’t exist.

"I know I’m sounding like a granny, but kids today are growing up way too fast because they don’t have those things to keep them young anymore."

Ah, yes. If we don't have the Sugababes singing about their sexy assess, and Girls Aloud making fetish videos singing "sexy no no no" and Blazin' Squad trilling "I just like tight butts on ladies who play rough 4 ages and nuff love comes in stages", children might just grow up way too fast.

Yorke: We won't do that again

Thom Yorke has decided, on reflection, it might be a good idea to not let people take albums for free in the future:

"It was a one-off in terms of a story. It was one of those things where we were in the position of everyone asking us what we were going to do. I don't think it would have the same significance now anyway, if we chose to give something away again. It was a moment in time."

Apart from anything, that any free album promotion online is now referred to as "doing a Radiohead", the prospect of "Radiohead do a Radiohead" headlines must create a risk of the universe crashing into itself and ripping open portals to other dimensions, like when Dawn's blood splashed in the wrong place.

IFPI aims for children's soft heads

In its pointless battle to try and persuade kids not to use illegal sources of music, the music industry is now burning through money it could be investing in credible business models on an educational booklet aimed at 21 nations' schools and colleges.

We've tried to draw up a list of 21 nations whose cultures are identical enough to make a single booklet viable across all of them. We came up blank. Still, we guess the IFPI is trying to use up all its money before it closes down.

Too Pure Bands: Future Of The Left

More from the Too Pure bands - Future of the Left, doing adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood at SXSW2007:

[Part of Too Pure last hurrah]

Buy: Curses

Won't someone please think of the ordinary Chinese?

Interesting watching those banking large cheques from the Chinese government trying to justify taking part in their marketing campaign. Latest to flap in the wind is Will.I.Am, who clearly isn't going to turn down a big payday just because the money is coming from a repressive government:

The star called the recent crackdown in Tibet "messed up", but asked whether it was right to "punish a whole country".

"If America really wants to make a difference, it should stop importing China's products and pay back its debt," he added.

Aha. So, it would be wrong to "punish" a country by not letting them hear his music (is the whole country going to his gig, then?) but it'd be better to not buy their stuff - presumably, then, forcing ordinary Chinese out of work is, in Will.I.Am's crazy world less of a blow to them than not getting to hear about the super-rich in one city turning out to hear a Black Eyed Pea gig.
"They have all this Chinese boycott stuff - they want to boycott the games," he said, "but do the people get punished when they have nothing to do with what's going on?"

He hasn't quite understood how cultural boycotts work, has he? The idea is to remove legitimacy from a regime by stopping treating it like it's a normal nation doing normal things. We don't know if Mr. Am wants to spend some time reading about the powerful effects of the sporting and cultural boycotts of apartheid South Africa, if he ever gets a chance between balancing his pocketbooks.
"If you boycott China, when do they boycott America for what we're doing in Iraq?" he added.

Well, yes. That would kind of be the point, wouldn't it?
People killing people dying
Children hurtin you hear them crying
Can practice what you preach
Would you turn the other cheek?

It turns out, yes, Will.I.Am is delighted to turn the other cheek.

Robbie Williams is not that fat

A couple of papers run pictures of Robbie Williams today with observations like this, from the Mail:

Robbie Williams recently claimed that he was to give pop to become a full-time ufologist (someone who studies UFOs) - but he has clearly found interests closer to Earth.

Fatty food, by the looks of his expanded girth, and a brunette called Suzanna.

The paper then calls him "portly" which seems a bit unfair - he's carrying a few extra pounds but it's quite a few Dunkin Donuts short of being fat.

The woman, though? We're not so sure about:
Swing when you're winning: the pair, who clearly share an interest in golf, have been dating for about four months

"Who clearly share an interest in golf"? Why, because you've got a long lens shot of Williams carrying a golf bag and, erm, her in check trousers?

Darkness at 3AM: Madonna amongst the moo-cows

Oddly, while Gordon is reporting that Amy Winehouse and Alex Haines are busily creating a music imprint, the 3AM Girls are insisting she's dumped him by text message. They can't both be right, although it's possible for them both to be wrong.

Apparently unaware that the line-up has been announced, the 3AMies are still speculating about who the headliners might be:

[Madonna] is just the latest name to be mentioned in connection with the June 27-29 festival.

Other rumours centre on Coldplay - back with new album Viva La Vida - and Oasis.

Well, yes, Madonna is the latest name mentioned in connection with Glastonbury. But look: now we're mentioning the late John Lennon in connection with the festival. See?

Apparently, Chris Martin couldn't bring himself to listen to the new Coldplay single yesterday. He's sick of it already, then.

Too Pure Bands: The Rogers Sisters

Continuing our trawl through the bands who lit-up the now-closed Too Pure back catalogue: The Roger Sisters, with Check Level:

[Part of the Too Pure last hurrah]

Buy: The Rogers Sisters - Three Fingers

Gordon in the morning: More nipples

Gordon Smart appears to have given up totally on the journalism and thrown his weight behind softcore porn instead. For the second day running, the big Bizarre story is nothing more than an excuse to run a topless photo: Keeley Hazell has released a single. Her day job is being a Page Three girl - although she's not very good at that, either and, clearly, even Gordon can't find anything to say other than 'she has breasts and has made a record':

PAGE 3 favourite KEELEY HAZELL is already top of the peeps

Eh? Peeps?
Naturally, it’s in the Kee of see

What? What on earth are you talking about?

This is, remember, Gordon's big story today, at least online. In the paper, more space is given to claims that Amy Winehouse is thinking of dumping Island, supposedly with Alex Haines in charge:
“She’s been planning it with Alex, who has a bit of music know-how from working as her manager’s assistant."

Ah, yes. A manager's bagman. That'd be the perfect person to be in charge of a major recording artist's record label.

Elsewhere, Gordon has sneer at Coleen McLoughlin for going to McDonalds:
You can take the girl out of Croxteth know the rest.

COLEEN MCLOUGHLIN couldn’t resist a slap-up meal at McDonald’s on the last day of her hen week.

Either Gordon has joined London Greenpeace, or this sudden dislike of fast food is somewhat puzzling - is McLoughlin only allowed to eat lobster and larks tongues now or something?

And, we all feel a little dirty: he's got a story about the Ting Tings, albeit the deal they've done with Apple that everyone else had a couple of days ago.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guyana a little more like Brighton now

The Jamaican dance hall artist Bounty Killer has been banned from Guyana. Although known for promoting the killing of gay men, he'd been doing that before he played Georgetown; it was more the gunfire which broke out during his set that made the government decide they could do without him. Movado has also been banned, presumably because they had the book out anyway.

Too Pure Bands: Electrelane

Continuing our celebration of the now-virtually-defunct Too Pure roster, here's Electrelane with Film Music:

[Part of the Too Pure last hurrah]

Buy: The Power Out by Electrelane

Bowling for a pig

How everyone laughed and pointed when Roger Waters set free a pig during his Coachella set. The pig floated above the sun-burnt heads of the gig-goers. And then floated off.

Which was a bit of a bugger, as Waters had spent a lot of money on that pig, and hadn't expected him to disappear. So he's now offering a reward for its safe return.

CMJ prints some details of how to identify the pig, presumably in order to help you distinguish Waters' pig from any other floating porcine balloon you might come across in California.

Football? Is that still going?

It seems the people who own Manchester City aren't that happy with Sven Goran-Eriksson, and have told him they're going to sack him over the summer. God alone knows why they're so upset he's got to go, but not for a couple of months. Perhaps they're deciding if they'd be better off playing cricket instead.

Anyway, the most famous Man City supporter isn't happy, either. Noel Gallagher, who lives just a step or two from the Man City ground in London, Manchester has started honking:

"To get rid of him [Eriksson] after the best season I can remember is ridiculous. It can't be for any footballing reasons.

"For a club that's been going nowhere fast for the last 25 years, with a manager who's the best out there bar Jose Mourinho… he turned it around and gave us a bit of style and dignity and grace. He bought some great players. The fans have got pride back in the club… I just think it's beyond a joke.

"We've got a manager who's got style. If the owner thought they could come in and qualify for the Champions League straight away then he's tripping. It'd be like sacking David Moyes at Everton or Martin O'Neill at Aston Villa because they didn't qualify. It takes more than one season.

"Eriksson is a graceful and dignified man. This guy Shinawatra has come in and he seems like a bit of a nutcase. The only thing that will get him off the hook is if he's got Mourinho lined up. Apart from Mourinho Eriksson's the best thing out there.

"I'd be amazed and appalled if I met a City fan who thought getting rid of Eriksson was a good thing. They all love him up there. I'd give him a big kiss and say, 'You know what, you take them to the cleaners.'"

Sorry, we would have edited that down but couldn't actually find any bit worth saving. We did, however, find some pretzels we'd forgotten about in the bottom of the bag. Delicious.

Embed and breakfast man : The Too Pure bands

So, with Too Pure being mothballed, what better time than to enjoy some of their stars?

First, here's the Voodoo Queens doing Supermodel, Superficial from 1993:

More videos to be listed here over the next day or so
Electrelane - Film Music
The Rogers Sisters - Check Level
Future of the Left - adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood
Stereolab - Cybele's Reverie

Beggar my neighbours: 4AD swallows sister labels

As part of the crazy, new-frontier world of music labels, Beggars Group have decided to thin out the number of imprints they operate under, shuttering the venerable Too Pure and Beggars Banquest labels and transferring across artists under those banners to 4AD.

It used to be quite hard to get onto 4AD; now it turns out all you had to do was sign to Beggars and wait.

The Too Pure singles club, it seems, is going to continue, though, as they sent out a press release after the announcement of the mothballing of Too Pure. This Spring, they'll be launching limited-edition singles featuring Kaputt, Electricity In Our Homes, Die! Die! Die!.

Ne-Yo said No to Spices

Ne-Yo was approached to write a song as part of the Spice Girls reunion, but turned down the offer:

“Spice Girls asked me to write some songs but I couldn’t find time,” he told the Daily Star.

“They wanted something to put on their comeback album but I never got round to getting it done.

“I was recording songs for Rihanna at the time."

Odd, that, that you might choose working with Rihanna over knocking together something for the returning warhorses. And it's not like anyone involved in the Spice comeback spent that much time working on the songs they supplied, is it?

Annie gets her gun

Having taken pictures of a half-naked child, Annie Leibovitz misses the point slightly:

"Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little make-up, and I think it is very beautiful."

You hear? It's not like she's caked Miley's face with make-up like a whore or something.

Leibovitz misses (or pretends to be missing) what might be upsetting people - it's not a question of if the image is beautiful or not, it's the extent to which an adult should be printing sexualised pictures of children in a national magazine. Perhaps the picture is being misinterpreted, but Leibovitz is not an idiot. She knows exactly what sort of reaction a sexy picture of a child is going to get - fluttering your eyelids and saying "gosh, but it's pretty" is no kind of explanation at all.

NME: We didn't intend to support LMHR

The tangled web gets a bit more tangled. Last week, Morrissey's people issued a press release which implied that NME had been the major sponsor who pulled out of Love Music Hate Racism:

“Love Music Hate Racism got in touch and explained that the NME had pulled support, possibly as a result of their association with me, and asked if I could help as they had not been able to replace them."

IPC, though, have now countered that this simply isn't true, and they were never supposed to be a sponsor in the first place, reports Drowned In Sound:
Well, it turns out that major sponsor wasn’t NME - in fact they got in touch to “categorically confirm that NME is not the ‘major sponsor’ which Love Music Hate Racism alludes to.

“While supporting Love Music Hate Racism on a number of fronts in the last year,” the statement continues, “including giving away a themed covermounted CD album… NME had no planned commercial participation in this weekend’s Carnival.”

Let's hope that the NME is more forgiving of Morrissey's mispeaking than he is of their reporting of his views on immigration.

Now Trent Reznor takes on Ticketmaster

Having had a bit of chip away at the record labels, Nine Inch Nails are now trying to shake up online ticket sales. Or at least make them a bit more fan-friendly. Yes, you have to be registered to gain access, but unlike Glastonbury, where the registration confers upon you nothing more than the right to compete with everyone else to buy tickets, being registered with NIN comes with benefits: presale access, mostly. You pick up your ticket on the door, and go straight in - supposedly bypassing the risk of scalpers.

It'll be interesting to see how it works - and also what happens to the tickets which don't get sold this way. Will it mean genuine but unregistered NIN fans end up having to pay more for touted tickets in a tighter market?

Adele: My struggle

There's a rather sweet interview with Adele in the Telegraph, one of the highlights of which is her snorting when asked about Estelle's complaints about white soul singers; the suggestion being that it's not like Estelle is Lauryn Hill or anyone important. But we were amused by this bit:

'I was the "critics' choice" all the time, not the public's,' she says, pursing her lips, 'and people naturally back the underdog, not the person who's shoved in their face the whole time. So, I guess, to me, the success is sweeter because of that.'

Oh, yes, the near-insurmountable odds of being lauded by all the people who put together TV shows and write long glowing profiles in the public prints. How difficult it is to come back from such setbacks...

Chicago papers seek unzipping of Kelly papers

With R Kelly's child-porn trial finally getting within spitting distance of a court, the Chciago papers have clubbed together to try and persuade the judge to let them run details from the sealed court papers. In, you know, the public interest and not simply to try and flog some papers with a bit a underage slap-and-tickle.

Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Darkness at 3AM: Oh, god, here comes autumn

It was funny watching Tonight Without Trevor McDonald Anymore last night, wailing about how rude and ill-mannered everybody is these days, when the only programme anyone watches on ITV any more consists of Simon Cowell and that simpering balloon-head who used to edit the Mirror being paid millions to be rude to people.

And, while Britain's Got Talent has only just got underway, the other half of the never-ending Cowell story is already preparing in the wings, with Dannnii Minogue getting space in 3AM to stoke the choreographed "feuds" between her and the other judges:

Referring to her run-ins with the pair, she adds: "I just kept my mouth shut through all that. I found it somewhere between funny and disturbing.

"There were some moments when I felt like I was back at school. It was distressing but I'm prepared for it this year."

Like being back at school? Well, yes, if you used to be part of a very lightly talented amateur dramatics troupe in your class.

The 3AM Girls are a bit hard up for copy today: they've got a story about the Queens of Noize's rider for a TV promo event. The Queens Of Noize? Even their mums would have trouble placing them, surely? What next: Sean Keavney's holiday plans? So obscure, indeed, are the DJs that the Mirror manages to spell their name incorrectly.

Gordon in the morning: It's all about the breasts

Poor Gordon. Pete Samson's not delivered him anything substantial for his column this morning, so he's reduced to getting Emily Smith to file something about the Miley Cyrus pictures you'll have read about yesterday and running topless photos of Nereida Gallardo, who apparently is going out with a footballer. Oh, and in the paper David Backham's Sesame Street appearance from last week. Presumably Gordon has some news about people you've heard of who are actually doing things now, but he'll be keeping those back for Wednesday.

Monday, April 28, 2008

... and, presumably, a card at Christmas

The Rolling Stones aren't exactly bosom pals, says Keith Richards:

"If we aren't working then we probably only talk around once a year. A few faxes, drawings and notes here and there. If you are stuck on the road for two and a half years together, you've said just about everything you've got to say to one another."

"Pass the Rizlas... have you got the accountant's number?... Can you change a fifty?" Yes, there's probably little more left to be said after a couple of weeks, we'd guess.

Bon Jovi gig turns into confused people standing around waiting for loud noise

Bon Jovi's Florida date this weekend was disrupted when a bomb hoax was phoned through to local police. Well, actually, it was a bomb threat that was phoned in - you wouldn't bother ringing the cops up to tell them you were pulling a hoax, would you?

The venue was evacuated, but police found nothing of any interest during a search; afterwards, the fans were allowed back in and still nothing of any interest happened.

Free Free Kittens

Thanks to the lovely people at Ecstatic Peace, enjoy Seasick, a free mp3 drawn from the new Free Kitten stuff.

Wake up and smell Eric Pulido

For reasons we're having trouble understanding, Midlake's Eric Pulido has turned himself into a coffee brand:

The guitarist commented: "Coffee has become a huge commodity in our culture today, and supplying it in a fair and quality manner was something I wanted to take part in. With Cappulido I am able to offer a coffee that I personally know supports the farmers that grow it, and provides the consumer with a freshly roasted, excellent bean."

Well, yes, that makes sense. I mean, you could look for a Fair Trade symbol, or a Rainforest Alliance logo, but it makes it far simpler to seek the endorsement of a member of Midlake when seeking ethical beverages.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the drummer from Sparklehorse has just turned up with our vegetable box.

Nokia seeks music fans who don't like music

There's a lovely Pearls Before Swine strip where Rat takes revenge on a restaurant who upsets him by attending their All You Can Eat buffet and eating everything on it. The joke being that nobody actually expects someone to turn up for an All You Can Eat service and actually eat everything in sight.

Nokia must be hoping that their customers aren't going to turn out to be like Rat, as it seems they've cut the world's worst deal with Universal and Sony BMG. The handset manufacturer pays a fixed rate to allow its customers to download as much music as they'd like. We've been saying for a few weeks now that sounds like a poor deal for the labels, but what we didn't know was the labels thought so, too. With visions of Rats emptying their libraries, the labels told Nokia it must pay wholesale rates for any downloads beyond a certain number.

That number was ruinously low thirty-five tracks. Yes, if their customers choose to download more than a couple of hefty album's worth of songs, Nokia are going to have to start paying out. And, since it's not costing them anything, chances are their customers will think "I don't really like U2, but I might as well download everything they've ever done." Nokia have left themselves horribly over-exposed. Ed Averdieck, , Managing Director of Nokia Music has been given the chance to seek out new opportunities in the business world while Tommi Mustonen is being forced by his bosses to try and negotiate the company's way out of the mess. That should be easy, Tommi. The RIAA are known for their reasonable behaviour.

Miley Cyrus drops the bra

Poor old Miley, eh? People got upset when the internet was awash with a photo of her showing her bra; now, she's taken the bra off and are people happy? Nope. It's not clear quite what Annie Leibovitz and Vanity Fair thought would happen when they ran topless photos of Miley Cyrus, but we suspect the phrase "this will create a magazine-selling hoo-hah" wouldn't have been far from the process.

Miley, for her part, seems to have confused Leibovitz with some sort of God:

Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie. I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way.”

You can, actually, "say no to Annie" - what's she going to do? Not take your photo?

Still, Miley has now realised that not being skanky isn't enough, and issued an apology:
“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

She never intended for people to say "there's that wholesome fifteen year-old kid off the Disney Channel in a shot that looks disturbingly post-coital"? Fancy that.

The photo crew are quick to stress that - although it looks like she's naked, she wasn't actually naked at all. Oh no. Although:
Originally, she was in a flesh-colored tank top but was asked to remove it."

To be fair, anyone wearing a flesh-coloured tank top probably should be asked to remove it, although it could be replaced with something less disgusting.

Calm at the disco

Have you ever wondered what Panic At The Disco think they're doing?

Now we know:

I think, especially for your website because we go on there and we read the comments and stuff, more than anything, there's a lot of preconceived notions about us. But the truth about our band is that we are a group of young 20 year olds that are on our second album of many more to come.

We're sure that, if they'd really wanted, they could have come up with a description of the band that was more workmanlike - but probably not much more workmanlike. The truth, the heart of the group is that it's some blokes who've made an album? Why, how do they contain such passion?

Geri Halliwell: Wrapped up in books

Given that she's become an "author", by which they mean she's had a children's book published, The Sun has made Geri Halliwell a "reading ambassador". God alone knows why The Sun has decided it needs a reading ambassador; it's like Bernard Matthews appointing a spokesperson for vegetarianism.

Still, Geri is delighted by her new role as book-learning-spokesperson:

“Books have had a massive influence on me. Through the power of reading and education I feel like I’ve done alright in life – I’ve empowered myself.

Yes, you've empowered yourself through "the power of education and reading". Like all the reading you did when you were in the porn magazines, and the time standing by prizes on a Turkish game show. And The Spice Girls, of course. How the crowds would gather at what we now realise was a late 20th Century reimagining of the Workers Education Assocation.

Geri, you see, loves books. She says so:
“I love everything from The Kite Runner to Oscar Wilde, but my favourite book is The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

“It’s got such poignancy and heart. I cried when Aslan died. I love it that a book can make you cry."

It's true, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe can make you cry. When you're six. It's funny that Geri doesn't seem able to think of a book that she's connected emotionally with since she was that young, isn't it?
“We have lots of plans, but what we would love first is for kids from eight to 12 to email a review of their favourite book of between 100 and 150 words to The Sun, so we can get an idea of the books you love.”

It's not entirely encouraging that the "reading ambassador" doesn't seem to have a clue what children like to read; nor that she can't speak English - what books are 100 to 150 words long? The Mister Men? Or did she mean "a review of between 100 and 150 words" rather than the book?

It turns out that Geri's not very good at maths, either:
“I’m a single-parent mother,” she says matter-of-factly. “I’m a statistic. I’m like half of Britain."

One out of every two people living in Britain are single-parent mothers, are they? So, since every single parent mother must, by definition, have a child, that would account for the other half. So there are no men, no childless adults, no married families in Britain. No wonder the kids are having trouble with reading.
“I’m more privileged than most so it would be an insult and hideous to compare myself to those who are really struggling, but I guess I’m like most working mothers in that I have to juggle everything.”

Having realised just how insulting and hideous it is for a multimilionaire to compare herself with a single mother in Oldham struggling on benefits or minimum wage, she does so anyway.

Still, is the book any good? The signs aren't encouraging:
“I know there is prejudice against celebrity authors but if you read my stories you’ll know they’re not ghost written — only I could be that bonkers!” she says, self-mockingly.

Oh, god.
“It was so natural,” she explains. “I am very childlike and silly and I found children relate to my wackiness. I have a language they respond to. I’ve always been driven by books, even self-help ones.

“As a girl I’d be writing little stories beside this outside toilet at school when I was waiting my turn to go. I’ve got collections of diaries. It was a way of expressing myself.”

Oh, god, god, god.

The Sun helpfully provides the first chapter of this "bonkers wackiness":
It was Tuesday morning.
Ugenia leaped out of bed with even
more enthusiasm than usual. She couldn’t
wait to get to school! This was because it
was Valentine’s Day next week and Ugenia
had been chosen to be the class Valentine’s
Disco Coordinator, which made her feel
very important.
Maybe this year is going to be different,
thought Ugenia, remembering how last
year she didn’t get even one Valentine’s card
from any secret admirers.
Surely being Valentine’s Disco
Coordinator would mean that this year
she’d get heaps of cards through her letter
box; or maybe even mountains.
Although Ugenia was delighted to be the
Valentine’s Disco Coordinator, she hadn’t
quite worked out what the job involved.
At morning break Ugenia recruited her
best mates – Rudy, Crazy Trevor and
Bronte – to help. Ugenia hadn’t known
Bronte for very long, but she was becoming
Ugenia’s NBF (new best friend). Bronte was
one of the cleverest girls in the class. She
wore square black glasses, she always had
her nose in a book and she was very well

Yes, the "clever" girl reads books and has "square black glasses".

Inventive, there, Geri.
‘As it’s a disco, Ugenia, will there be
dancing?’ asked Bronte.

Eh? Are we supposed to believe that this "clever" girl - who wears square black glasses - would need to have it confirmed that there would be dancing at a disco?

The chapter carries on in this style, of course: the way that adults who think they're still "young at heart" write - simpering half-witted stuff that assumes children are more like brain-damaged adults than individuals in their own right. Does Geri really think this is on a par with CS Lewis?

Gordon in the morning: Pete in the morning

The, shall we say, generosity of Gordon in allowing his deputy Pete Samson to write the big stories knows no bounds. While Gordon writes a James Blunt needs finger surgery non-story, Pete Samson ("and Lucy Hagan") tries to make some sense out of Amy Winehouse's life. The paper is convinced that she's about to dump Blake and marry Alex Haines instead. Indeed, the Sun is thrilled by what it claims is the "favour" it's done for Amy:

But she had been unable to face telling the junkie about her affair with ALEX HAINES — her manager’s aide. A source said yesterday: “In all honesty they think The Sun has done them a favour.

“It was getting harder to keep the affair under wraps.”

But - if there is an affair - surely the reason why it would be hard to keep it under wraps would be the likes of the Sun constantly hanging about outside, peering in through the curtains? It's like being delighted the guy who's broken your legs has thrown your body out a car into a hospital car park.

The paper also resurrects the "other" Blake, claiming that the days of innuendo back then were spot-on:
She was just out of rehab and staying at London’s Park Plaza hotel when she began romping with American BLAKE WOOD — dubbed Blake II by her chums.

One said: “You could hear them down the hall. Her thing with Blake II lasted a few weeks. The pair barely left their room.”

"Dubbed Blake II by her chums", rather than Gordon, eh?
The friend said: “It’s funny how she bedded the last two people who have been helping to look after her. Amy is sex-mad — and she gets what she wants.”

For prurient hacks, the Sun doesn't really understand sex at all, does it? Isn't Amy's (alleged) sex-life going to be like the rest of her life, characterised by an awful lot of empty, destructive, addictive consumption?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How much for your catalogue?

Nokia has denied that it's paying $35 a handset to Universal to allow its customers access to their back catalogue:

"That is not true. We are not paying that amount to any record label," said a spokeswoman at the Finnish phone giant.

So, it's going to be paying less, then - and, that it feels the need to deny that figure, we can only conclude that the actual amount is some way shy of $35. Twenty bucks, perhaps? But if Nokia is only pay ten quid for every song in the catalogue, how much will the artists - who, remember, are the people the majors say they care about the most - see from the deal? They'll be no better off than if the tracks were just sucked off the peer-to-peer networks, surely?

Portishead at Coachella

Bits and pieces from Coachella are starting to turn up online - for example, Deaf Indie Elephants is currently hosting the Portishead live set.

Starbucks quits the music biz - sort of

Starbucks have moved backwards from their attempts to run a music business alongside a coffee shop, announcing that it's going to pass all day-to-day control in its HearMusic joint venture to partner Concord Music.

It seems having all those demo tapes on the kitchen table was getting in the way of brewing coffee:

"As part of our ongoing transformation, we are committed to examining all aspects of our business that are not directly related to our core," said Howard Schultz, chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks. Citing the eight Grammy Awards the label's artists have received, he continued, "now is the appropriate time to restructure our entertainment business to better align our efforts with our overall business strategies."

In other words: put down that bloody guitar and make some coffee, will you?

FreeSat? Attorney Generals propose free satellite radio

As part of the cost for allowing XM and Sirius to merge, the Attorney Generals of four US states have proposed the new company should offer free bandwidth to some form of public-service radio. The idea being that if people who've paid out for an XM or Sirius receiver no longer wish to pay money to the united company, this way they'd still have something to listen to. Kind of like the channels which broadcast in the clear to Sky digiboxes, then.

It's actually a good idea for the Sirius-XM corporation, too: easier, surely, to persuade people to buy kit if they know that they'll still be able to tune in if they decide the cost of subscriptions is too much of a drain on the family pocketbook some time in the future.

The Cure in small doses

That the Cure have a new album coming out isn't much of a surprise. The attempt to drum up a sense of excitement, though - that is. a single a month, every month, on the 13th, in the four months running up to the new album in September.

The 13th, presumably, because they're Goths. And there isn't a 666th day in any month - except February in leap years - so they've had to choose the 13th.

Venuewatch: Luna Lounge shut

Shortly before it was due to host a benefit event for Common Ground on Friday night, the New York Public Health Department shut down the Luna Lounge, citing public health concerns. It's not clear what this pressing risk to the soft heads and lovely flesh of New Yorkers actually was.

Metallica realise the internet is an opportunity

It's difficult to remember that there was a time when the music industry wasn't that bothered about the internet, and - had Metallica not thrown their weight around - it's possible the offices of the RIAA companies would still be happily ignoring the threat to their business.

Having kick-started a war on the web, it's amusing to see Metallica now happy to leech off the work done by others:

"We want to be as free a players as possible," they continue in the interview."We've been observing Radiohead and Trent Reznor and in twenty-seven years or however long it takes for the next record, we'll be looking forward to everything in terms of possibilities with the Internet."

So, having done so much to try and close down the possibilites of the internet, now they can sniff a few bob, Lars and the boys are changing their minds.

So, taking after Courtney rather than Kurt, then

Someone who won't be wearing the awful Kurt Cobain training pumps: Frances Bean Cobain. She's being lined up to be a new muse for Karl Lagerfeld. It's almost certainly what Kurt would have wanted. Or possibly isn't, but if you blow your brains out you can't actually complain if nobody listens to you, can you?

Dogg and Willie Nelson

Snoop was joined on stage at the Melkweg by Willie Nelson:

First they did My Medicine...

... and then they did Super Man.

David's Dad: still not seen his son

Having first suggested that David Banda was an orphan, Madonna's now working to try and make it a bit like he is, effectively: Yohane Banda says that promises he was made have been broken and he's been cut out of his son's life:

“I was promised by Madonna that I would be able to see my son,” he said. “The government people that were coming to see me also assured me that they would facilitate my meetings with my son. I miss him so much because he is my only son, the only gift of life from God – all others have died.

“I told her [Madonna] that although I was giving her my son she should look after him well . . . I told her that she should raise him, educate him and make sure that he does not forget me and Malawi.

“Now I fear that my child will never know his roots and will not know me. He is the only surviving child I have and I regret the whole thing now. It’s so painful sometimes to realise that I have been forgotten.”

To be fair, The Sunday Times didn't offer Madonna any chance to respond to the claims in its story this morning, so perhaps it's all a terrible misunderstanding. Perhaps.

Not that she's the cut-price Kate Moss, or anything

What a surprise: Agyness Deyn has made a record with a small indie band. The Five O'Clock Heroes, in this case.

No wonder Pete Doherty had himself locked up.

Rav saves Girls Aloud

With Sarah Harding's back gone a bit Stan Ogden, there was a shadow hanging over the Girls Aloud tour. Actually, we'd imagine that if her back was that bad, she'd have just been given a chair at the side of the stage and invited to sing along anyway rather than the whole tour being dumped. Still, Rav Singh reveals Sarah's back will be fine anyway:

But now the bubbly blonde has been given the all-clear from docs — and I was the first person she told the good news to.

Really? Before her family, the band, management, or drunken bums in the street, eh?

Rav also brings his curious inability to actually commit to anything to the possibility that Beyonce might be pregnant:
ONE of my trusted LA sources tells me JAY-Z and BEYONCE are planning to make an announcement very soon.

Well, after secretly getting married, I reckon there's only one other bit of news they can be keeping from us— that the Baby Boy beauty is pregnant.

Singh does this a lot - he doesn't seem to have any confidence in his own scoops, so instead runs endless pieces about how, at some point in the future, someone might say something. Given that much of what runs in the News of the World is made-up anyway, why is he so reluctant to commit himself to his own stories?

It's terrible when a parent has to speak the words that condemn their own child

It's not the first time, but Mitch Winehouse is once again telling the tabloids that he wants Amy sectioned.

And, let's face it, if you thought your child was suffering so much she could no longer cope with looking after herself, you'd make your first call to the News of the World, wouldn't you?

"I've told them she is a danger to herself. There is evidence of self-harming and she's a danger to other people because she's attacked someone."

Although since the police released her with a caution, they clearly don't view her as a danger to others - and, really, the test for sectioning a person has to be stronger than "might give an irritated slap to a person", surely?

Mitch then reveals - who'd have thought - that Amy is a bit headstrong:
"I don't feel Amy is beyond help. But unless she wants it, you can't force her to do anything against her will."

Which is a strange thing to say since you're talking about sectioning her which is, by definition, forcing someone to do something against their will.

This week just gone

The ten most-accessed individual stories this week have been:

1. R Kelly's sex video - is he ever going to come to trial, by the way?
2. Miley Cyrus shows bra; internet feels compelled to look
3. Heather Mills and nudity should never mix
4. McFly, put some clothes on; we can see your penises
5. Beth Ditto removes her clothes for NME
6. Why does Robbie Williams love Keira Knightley?
7. RIP Joaquin Tavares
8. Is KT Tunstall a lesbian?
9. Underwater sex with Amy Winehouse
10. RIP Paul Davis

We flogged these for two weeks solid:

Forward, Russia - Life Processes It really is a cracking week for new releases

Blood Red Shoes - Box Of Secrets ... a cracking, cracking week

Tift Merritt - Another Country

Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw Brand new Tindersticks stuff, bringing miserable joy

Long Blondes - Couples Out last week, of course

Accidental - There Were Wolves

Jim Noir - Jim Noir From the Late Junction favourite

Dawn Kinnard - The Courtesy Fall

Soda Mountain Rag - It's Rag Time And I'm Maggie

Pete Moliarni - A Virtual Landslide

Kid Creole & The Coconuts - The August Darnell Years Compiling the bit before Mr Creole became so well-known Ronnie Barker impersonated him