Friday, May 16, 2008

Now, that's what we call a chart battle

Squaring up in the download booths and Asda CD racks: The Ting Tings, number one in the midweeks, and Madonna, whose single The Candyman Can is apparently still selling strongly enough to threaten to take back the honours.

Quick mention: The Ting Tings were on Janice Long's Radio 2 show this Tuesday just gone - and thus you can still enjoy their acoustic session through the magic of Listen Again.

Whitesnake deny Led Zep claims

David Coverdale is furiously denying he ever said anything about Whitesnake supporting Led Zeppelin and, you know, that the band are far too busy to have even considered joining such a tour:

"What fucking world tour, we ask ourselves? We're already out on our Good To Be Bad world tour, thank you very much," he wrote.

"I have no idea where this started, Geoffers. But, with the wildfire of the internet, my poor ol' German publicist is fighting them off with her rusty, but trusty, Luger.

"I assure you there is no… (of course there fucking isn't) …any foundation in this.”

The whole world, David, knew that it wasn't true. The question, of course, is who said it was in the first place.

Credit crunch claims new victims

Hah- you think you've had it hard, what with your house being repossessed, your job vanishing and your children being handed to the Inland Revenue in something to do with the 10p tax rate that you didn't quite catch.

Think again.

Duran Duran are really suffering. They'd lined up a job playing to senior executives from Deutsche Bank for an easy half-a-million pounds, only now that someone's found out the entire world banking system was based on a mortgage on a single trailer-park home in the middle of Texas and that's only worth half what it should be because it's going an unshakeable smell of wet dog in the bedroom, the bank have decided not to go ahead.

Duran have got the hump. Apparently. They're supposed to have re-routed their entire world tour in order to play the gig and everything. We've been trying to work up some sort of sympathy for the thought of people who were so willing to effectively dance as rich men threw coins, but we're finding it difficult.

Instead, here's Cate LeBon, doing Shoeing The Bones, on the grounds that she's got the same surname as Simon LeBon, but is more fun to listen to.

Stipe is haunted by Kurt

Michael Stipe has trouble shaking off the blues when he tries to listen to Nirvana records:

"He had reached a point where he was about to push through to something that was so phenomenal and so beautiful.

"It was all written, it was all right there and it was so obvious where he was going, and then he didn’t make it.

"I still have trouble - I can’t listen to an entire Nirvana record."

Similarly, these days most people have trouble making it all the way through an REM album.

Perhaps he's got some special floaty shoes

Mike Skinner has set himself a tricky challenge, according to NME:

The Streets' Mike Skinner has announced his intention to walk from Britain to the south of France.

Perhaps he's just very good at holding his breath.

Gordon in the morning: Down and out with Paris and someone

Gordon gloats this morning that his good buddy Victoria Beckham out-performed Paris Hilton:

AHHH diddums! Poor PARIS HILTON was baffled by a lack of snappers waiting for her at London’s Dorchester hotel yesterday.

Every man and his dog had gone to see VICTORIA BECKHAM launch her new denim range at Harrods.

Really, Gordon?

Or was it because the paparazzi had got all the photos they wanted at the Selfridges launch of her Paris' new perfume? The Evening Standard certainly saw things differently:
Paris Hilton upstages she stops traffic in London's busiest street for her fragrance launch

Still, let's give Beckham her moment in the - ahem - sun. She's kind of like Janice Battersby now, heavily involved in making unconvincing clothes. Or, as she puts it:
“I’m getting a chance from really cool, credible people in a cool career. If you work really hard it happens.”

Harrods? Cool? Credible? Not unless you're selling there in 1974. It's mostly overpriced tourist tat these days, sold in a brand which has been flawed by its nasty little airport shops.

Still, it's probably not important that the piece is a bit idiotic - these days, Gordon's little more than a newsagent offering softcore jazz mags. Today, it's Agyness Dean's tits that are hung on a "story" which seems to be little more than "here is a photo of Agyness Dean's tits.

Jammie Thomas may get another day in court

The RIAA won the first file-sharing case that went to court - but now the judge involved is suggesting it might need to fight the case all over.

Jammie Thomas was convicted quite quickly - in law, she didn't have much reasonable doubt to call on - but even so, she might get another chance. Judge Michael Davis has admitted he wrongly told the jury that copyright infringement happened when the track was uploaded to networks; he's since realised it doesn't happen until the track is downloaded by someone else.

But, warns Wired:

One of the cases Judge Davis cited in his order Thursday is also something of a double-edged sword for the defense. In that April decision, Atlantic v. Howell, an Arizona judge said that merely making a copyrighted work available for downloading wasn't infringement. But the judge also held that the RIAA's own investigators can effectively turn it into an infringement just by downloading a copy from the share folder involved.

Can it, though? If the RIAA represents the copyright holders, how can they illegally download a copy of the copyrighted material? And what sort of law is it where the police can turn a suspect into a criminal by the act of observation? (Oh - sort of like when the pretty policemen go into toilets to solicit gay sex.)

They call them virals because you feel a bit queasy and probably shouldn't pass them on

We do like the XFM Scotland video for 'what happens when a song is played on XFM', but to be honest, it's because of the soundtrack - Black Kids I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You, which could make a reel of footage from a tax office look like the greatest place in the world to be.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the red 'on-air' light isn't on in the studio. It would have been cooler if they'd done it while the song was really playing.

Of course, if GCap had its way, when music is played on XFM Scotland, this is what would be happening in Scotland, while the track plays out from London:

Leave Amy alone, says "family member" again

If Sue - who called up Five Live and asked that the media leave Amy Winehouse alone - claims to be a family member, then we should take her at her word.

But if you want the press to stop talking about Winehouse, wouldn't it make more sense to have a word with Mitch Winehouse - who appears in the tabloids talking about her on a regular basis - rather than the Five Live audience? Or, perhaps, suggesting to Amy that she at least tries to stop wandering down public streets apparently smoking weed?

Whitehall Tax Disaster 2008

It stretched credibility when Gordon Brown claimed he woke up to the Arctic Monkeys. But not so much as the claim that Gordon Brown listens to the Bee Gees every day.

Mind you, we've only got a Bee Gee's word for that anyway:

“He listens to our music every day,” Robin Gibb tells The Times today. “He said, ‘Your music is absolutely timeless’. Gordon likes our music and I like Gordon.” Gibb, 58, in whose Miami home Tony Blair stayed last summer, said that Mr Brown liked the songs — which include Stayin’ Alive, Tragedy and How Deep Is Your Love? — “because they talk about human relationships and human experience, and reach out across the decades”.

Expect lame gags about the Prime Minister "Staying Alive" and facing a "Tragedy" and trying to find out how deep the electorate's love is and so on to be getting knocked out in Tory Central command's senior common room within the hour.

Of course, the idea that Brown likes songs about human relationships makes it all sound unlikely - perhaps Robin has re-recorded the songs to feature fewer lines about love and a bit more about the accelerator theory and non-endogenous growth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dennys, champions of the world

US pancakes and burger chain Dennys are throwing their slightly-over-normal weight behind small bands, with an initiative called the Dennys All Nighter. This allows webusers to vote for a band from a list of six to receive all the food they can eat, while out on tour, providing they eat at Dennys.

Meanwhile, we're given to understand that several bands are running a campaign designed to help out Village Inn by voting to eat at any remaining branches of that chain while they're out on tour.

Back at Denny's, they chain have also invited Taking Back Sunday to create a signature dish. Considering that the last time we were in a Dennys, their one concession to pop culture was a small photo of Elvis and a 45 nailed to the wall, this is quite a leap forward. Although we're not sure we'd want to eat in a place that lets Taking Back Sunday into its kitchens.

We've had a Taco Bell gig, now Dennys feeding touring bands: Perkins, we're waiting.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

There's an evocative end-of-an-era photo-essay on the Creative Review website. Spencer Murphy trails round Soho's independent record shops, recording the last gasps of a corner of culture:

“Actaully another thing happened a couple of months ago,” adds Augur. “You know the bottom of Berwick Street, opposite Somerfields? That bottom corner has been demolished. It’s gone. We’ve got some photographs of that building but it’s completely gone now. So while the project’s about six years late, it’s incredible to think that since we took the shots, two of the shops have gone and the bottom of Berwick Street has disappeared. I’m really glad I finally got round to doing the project.”

Razorlighter struggles with concept of 'solo'

Good lord, so much control does Johnny Borrell exert over his minions that even when one breaks out of His Magnificence's shadow to do a solo show, Borrell puts in an appearance. It must be like trying to shake off the unpopular kid in school when we - sorry, they - attached themselves to you.

Alex Turner, we salute you

Can you still nominate people for OBEs and so on? Only, surely, Alex Turner deserves one for his brave attempts to save us all from the Kooks. Luke Pritchard reveals all:

"We've had a weird relationship with the Arctics since we first met. I had to kick Alex in the face because he was trying to pull the leads out of my guitar pedals while we were on stage."

Next time, we're sending Alex Turner out with wirecutters.

RIAA big fans of Limewire

Who's that on the Limewire network there, then? Could it be the RIAA? An RIAA rep who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of nasty emails (from the music industry or fans, it's not clear) has admitted that the RIAA is busy on Limewire, tracking what's going on.

The rep claims that they don't download tracks, just "check the watermark", but surely they'd have to listen to at least bit of the file to make sure, wouldn't they? And if the RIAA are downloading even a portion of a supposed illegal file, what would the legal position on that actually be?

Other music blogs are available

A quick mention for new-one-on-us My Chemcial Toilet, which does music news with a snarky undertone. Well worth a look.

But come back afterwards, alright?

Noel accepts Robbie's cast-offs

So this, then, is where all that feuding gets you in the end: Oasis reduced to poaching Robbie Williams' drummer to make up the numbers.

Chris Sharrock, congratulations - if that's the word - on your new job.

Morrissey owns this town

The eye-opening thing about the story which saw Conor McNicholas being made to move hotels when he found himself booked in to the same one as Morrissey is not the NME's "well, he got a better room out of it anyway" response, but the cheerful admission by Morrissey's team how niggling and pathetic their man is:

Merck Mercuriadis, Morrissey's spokesperson, says, "I have a very good relationship with the hotel, and when I explained the situation they agreed it would not be appropriate for Conor to stay."

Now, we can understand that, perhaps, Mozzer might not want to swan into the breakfast room and see Conor shoving his Wheaties into his mouth. But having him ejected is the work of a small man - the appropriate behaviour is to move yourself.

Love dumps Perry

Not that she's desperately casting round in a bid to try and make something, anything, saleable or anything, but Courtney Love has scrapped the entire album's worth of work she's done with Linda Perry out of Four Non-Blondes in order to work instead with...

... sorry, this appears to say Micko Larkin out of Larrikin Love. Surely that can't be right?

Gnarls Barkley's connection drops; hangs up on Vodaphone

If we're to believe the Daily Star, disappointing album sales have led to Gnarls Barkley dropping their Vodaphone TBA gig in Edinburgh in order to, erm, go out and promote the new album.

Mystery illness

The Mystery Jets have suspended their tour due to that old standby, "illness". The dates will be reorganised.

Gordon in the morning: Journalism

We're sure that - once his hands were both free - Gordon Smart punched the air as he took delivery of topless pictures of Lily Allen. He even created a new euphemism for the occasion:

Lily got something off her chest and peeled off her shirt to reveal a couple of chart-toppers.

Meanwhile, Gordon has been carrying out a poll. An online poll. He publishes the results without any warning that the respondents were self-selecting and, therefore, not scientifially accurate. But it might not matter:
2 out of 3 men fancy Posh Vic

He has done a pie chart, though.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Everclear heading for Git-Mo

Even though we can be harsh in our judgements, when we heard that Everclear were going to Guantanamo Bay, we thought that was overdoing it a little.

It turns out, though, they're playing a gig for the US troops there:

“These two (shows) are important to the band,” said frontman Art Alexakis.

“There are folks in uniform all over the world, and at home, looking out for us -- and to play for them is an honour. Not a bad way to spend the holiday weekends.”

Yes. Poor old troops down in Gitmo, eh? Obviously, it's not quite as bad as being held there without charge, without any indication of how long you'll be there, and without any actual basis in law to your detention.

Some of those being held at the prison were herded into confined spaces and made to listen to very bad rock music played very loud. At least after the Everclear gig, the audience might have some understanding of what that feels like.

Madonna on parenting

Madonna - not that anyone asked her - seems to be blaming Britney's parents for the mess she's in now:

"She didn't get to grow up and make mistakes privately and try things out and just be a kid and be innocent. She's been watched, judged and been under a microscope since she's been a teenager. It's hard to evolve that way."

Had she not been being watched, Britney might have evolved differently - gills, perhaps, or the ability to provide clunking monologues to the opening of TV programmes.

But what of Madonna's own parenting skills? Her kids, it seems, wish she didn't work so hard:
She said they actually protest her rigid work schedule. "[They say,] 'When are you coming home?' 'Why are you always working?' 'Why can't you just be like a normal mom?' " Madonna said. "I just remind them about all the things that they have, and that if I didn't do what I did, they wouldn't have those things."

Curious. For all her yakking on about spirituality, it turns out Madonna's answer when the kids say 'why don't you come home?' is 'I'm out getting money'.

What the pop papers say: Week two of the bravest new world

Let's cut Conor some slack, shall we? Okay, last week his vision of a post-boy guitar band NME would have been scuppered by the Coldplay exclusive.

This week, of course, was the chance to show what a magazine turning away from the lads' bands would look like. Indeed, heavily trailed in last week's edition was what we should expect this week: Scarlett Johansson. Should be fascinating - a chance to try and get to grips with her surprising album, to see Hollywood royalty being up-front about their attempts to try and turn themselves into a left-field pop act. There are many questions to be asked. Much to be said. And at least it's not one of those bloody guitar-blokes we see so much of.

But what's this as the magazine falls to the floor? Big picture of Pete Doherty on the cover, under a white stripe promising Noel Gallagher banging on about those Oasis leaks.

Business as bloody usual, in other words. There's even space found for more some pages of Pete's latest prison diary. Where his last book was self-indulgent me-wank, the next one looks to be so half-arsed and so clearly just knocked up to have something to tout around the publishers, it makes those Christmas books that parody Harry Potter novels look like Ulysses.

Still, Conor slaps himself on the back for the "overwhelmingly positive" feedback to the new look magazine, and they're promising Scarlett J again for next week. Holding over such a big scoop to give the cover to Doherty's latest mea culpa seems to be a fatal decision, though.

Turning the wheels of justice - slowly

The Sun-Times is watching the R Kelly child porn trial with more attention to detail than, frankly, many of us could stomach, but it's turning up some rare gems.

They're still at the jury selection stage, with one otential getting himself excused through his grasp of reasonable doubt:

"Child pornography is immoral, people. R. Kelly may have led the Taliban to attacking us on 9-11, but you can't prove it."

For this reasonableness, he was allowed to go home.

[Thanks to Jack B for bringing the blog to our attention]

Amy Winehouse going to court? They say no, no, no

There is to be no further action taken against Amy Winehouse over the video of her apparently smoking crack. Not entirely surprising as the video would be difficult to use as evidence in court and it's not likely her dealer would be keen to appear as a witness.

The Winehouse line is let's all move on now, shall we?:

"The Crown Prosecution Service has now reviewed the case and no further action is being taken," a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

"Amy is pleased to be able to move on," her spokesman said.

"She particularly looks forward to seeing her fans again at eagerly-awaited festival performances this summer."

The spokesperson seems to be confusing 'not being prosecuted' with 'that whole nasty drugs business being all over and done with'.

Nate Dogg: Whigfield

Nate Dogg has had to issue a statement to make it clear that he's not actually dead.

Apparently people had confused "Nate" with "all of DMX's".

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: HMV takes on Carphone Warehouse

With the wafer-thin excuse that 'you can play music on phones nowadays, you know...', HMV decides that it's actually a telephone business:

HMV spokesperson, Gennaro Castaldo, said: ‘We’ve had so much interest in the music mobile area and are expanding our range. It has engaged with our customers and we feel that it’s an opportunity to build on. Mobile will be one of the technological areas within our Next Generation stores.’

Translation: We've managed to sell some phones, so we're going to try and sell a lot more.

There will still be room for music sales in larger branches of HMV, we're given to understand, with as many as five CDs being available in the flagship London store.

Local Radio Company given permission to make company name ironic

Because, it seems, it's been decided to let local radio go to hell in a handbasket Ofcom has set a dangerous precedent by telling the Local Radio Company that it no longer needs to have its station based in the place to which they are broadcasting.

Creating a situation akin to the days when stations in Luxembourg produced programming aimed at the UK, Ofcom says it couldn't care any more if Arrow FM abandons its audience in Hastings to broadcast from Sovereigns' studios in Eastbourne instead. Likewise:

Similar co-location arrangements have been agreed for Mix 96 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire with Mix 107 in High Wycombe; 3TR FM in Warminster with Spire FM in Salisbury; and Vale FM in Shaftesbury with Wessex FM in Dorchester.

The company won't be packing their belongings into tea chests just yet, though:
LRC chief executive, Richard Wheatly, said that although the group had been given permission for the relocations by the regulator, it had no immediate plans to go ahead with the moves.

"We have no plans to co-locate, but it gives us the flexibility," Wheatly added. "Most people feel there's an element of common sense in it."

Yes. What could be more commonsense than radio by the people of Hastings, for the people of Hastings, from the heart of a totally different town? Local radio is fond of talking about the weather, so it should be interesting to see them attempt that: "It's a beautiful day in Hastings, probably... judging by the weather in Eastbourne..."

Once again, Ofcom has totally ignored the rationale for the stations it and the Radio Authority brought into being - these were meant to be local stations for smaller communities. Now, they're distant and not even providing any financial benefits for the audience they're supposed to be serving - why should a local service for Hastings be buying its sandwiches, getting its windows cleaned, having its milk delivered in Eastbourne? A shabby deal all round.

I blame Gok Wan. I really do.

We're sure that it's with one eye on the traffic the BBC pulled in with a birds in the environment tale ("Great tits cope well with warming") that led the Times to slap a headline on an interview with sculptor Clive Barker that will probably attract a wider audience:

How Marianne Faithfull's nipples became a work of art

UN calls emergency session - planet 'unprepared' for new Slipknot album

Corey Taylor has been busy making a new Slipknot record. Apparently this time it's different:

"It's going to rip your face off," Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor tells with confidence. "I don't think the world will be ready for this album."

I hope that they take care to make sure it doesn't rip off the faces of small children - perhaps there needs to be some sort of safety guard on the disc?

But he's right. The world isn't ready for a new Slipknot record. If we all live for another thousand years, we won't be thinking "we could really do with a new Slipknot album right now."

Darkness at 3AM: Beckham picks at her taco

The 3AM Girls have, like Gordon, got to have a chat with Victoria Beckham - they seem to think theirs is somehow exclusive, presumably in the sense that nobody else actually was talking to her at that precise moment.

Victoria, sadly, has been reduced to name-dropping:

"I was like, fuck that's Julia Roberts!

"Incredibly, she knew who David and I were and we got on really well. She's very down-to earth. We're both mums with young children, so we had a lot to talk about. We've swapped numbers and I'm looking forward to catching up with her again.

"Most of my friends in LA, like Katie Holmes and Kate Beckinsale, all have children so we get together and do very normal things.

How incredible that the shy, retiring Victoria Beckham would have come to Julia Roberts' attention. Just fancy.

But don't get carried away that Beckham spends all her time going through OK! Magazines, playing a kind of Bingo where she ticks off the people she's met. Oh, no:
"It's not just celebrities I hang out with though. I've become really good friends with the mums from my sons' school as well."

She often waves at them, we'd imagine.

The talk then turns to vaginas, after she went to a Mexican restaurant:
"It was called Pink Taco. My friends told me after we'd been that it translates to pink vagina, which is not ideal."

Up to a point, Victoria - taco has become a slang term for vagina, but it's a bit like going to Super Sausage and coming away saying "but that translates to massive cock". If Beckham thinks that Taco is Spanish for vagina, what does she think when she sees a sign for Taco Bell? Does she think it's a place offering extreme body modification?

Gordon in the morning: Confusing sexuality

A meeting of minds, as Gordon meets up with Victoria Beckham.

Posh observes that (at least in her mind) she's popular with gays:

“All the men that like me are gay. It’s true. I have a really strong gaydar. I do love gay men though.”

Oddly, this is her response to a fawning opening gambit from Gordon. So Smart told Beckham how much he liked her, and Beckham replied "only gay men like me, ooh, I could pick out a gay at five hundred yards, I could." It seems to have flown over Smart's head, though.

Indeed, it flew over by quite a distance, as Gordo headlines his scoop:
Posh: Only gay guys fancy me

Now, Gordon, let's go through this again, shall we? Gay men. Woman. Do you think that headline might have a bit of a flaw built into it?

But then Gordon does managed to get himself even more knotted. Having thought he heard Victoria say that she was only sexually attractive to men, he remembered she was married to a man:
I could argue that BECKS boils beyond metrosexual from time to time.

Is Gordon suggesting that he thinks that David Beckham is kinda gay?
He isn’t shy of a spot of nail polish, the occasional sarong and a bit of body waxing.

Is Gordon really sitting in 2008, confusing wearing make-up and body waxing with sexuality?

As if suddenly becoming aware of what he was saying, Gordon pulls back:
But he has fathered three more children than me.

Is Gordon really unaware that many gay men are fathers? And is he suggesting that only parenthood is a sign of heterosexuality? And did he really sit down thinking about his 'is Becks gay' fantasy before thinking 'nah, hang on - he's got kids, hasn't he?'

Never has the phrase 'Gordon Smart's Bizarre' been apt.

Gordon, Gordon, you seem to have spent an awful lot of time dreaming about the possibility of David Beckham being gay. You'd better re-establish your blokey credentials quick. Have you got something to say about the new shots from the James Bond set?:
[Daniel Craig] looks good in his signature 007 whistle but even better sporting his rugged gear...

... so I’m told.

So you're told.

Quick, Gordon, get some tits onto your page.
HERE’S MEGAN FOX proving precisely why she was recently voted the sexiest woman in the world.

That's the Gordon we know.

The picture is a still from a new movie:
[Diablo Cody] describes it as "Juno but with cannibalism and evisceration" and Megan’s cheerleader character as "a girl who eats boys".

Eating boys, eh, Gordon? Can you imagine such a thing?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are there enough people left to fill EMI's latest job loss programme?

As Guy Hands continues to try and make sense of EMI's finances - a job we're sure he actually wanted this time last year - the Telegraph is reporting he's going to be cutting even more jobs than he originally planned to. Of the 4,500 staff he started with, he could be left with just 2,000:

People familiar with the situation said Mr Hands was looking to cut more jobs at the company because, even after the round of redundancies announced in January, the business will still have more employees generating less revenues than its competitors at Warner Music and Universal.

Of course, he could have tried to balance that out by raising revenue rather than reducing staff, but apparently sacking people is easier than making music people want to buy.

Marling in the eyes of the Lord

Laura Marling has announced a brief tour of churches:

Glasgow: Gilmore Hill (June 9)
Manchester: St Phil's (June 10)
London: St James (June 11)
Birmingham: St Paul's (June 12)

For whom the Taco Bell tolls

Not so long back, Taco Bell was struggling with reports of rats running riot in the kitchens and a problem with food poisoning being added with the lettuce. Now, they've got a new sort of problem to cope with: Girl Talk went do a gig there using vouchers they'd won in an earlier Taco Bell competition, sharing $500 worth of Taco Bell stuff with the audience. That's a lot of tacos.

The Dead want it all

Carrie Brownstein was putting together an online mix for her NPR blog, and wanted to include a Grateful Dead track. She politely asked permission. And the response?

they refused unless we promised to do a piece on them on All Things Considered. In addition, we would need to run a feature on The Dead on the site. Here's a sentence I've never written: Someone needs to take a bong hit and chill out. Just a simple "no thanks" would have sufficed. Are The Dead really in need of publicity? Because I swear there's a dancing bear sticker on every third car I see in Portland. And now I've written a paragraph on them anyway, for free, not even in exchange for a song. Doesn't that count?!

You don't even have to scratch a hippy very hard to find the hard-nosed pigopolistic pig underneath, do you?

Back from the brink: Chicago abandons plans to destory live music

Chicago came within an ace of passing a new "promoter's ordinance" which, amongst other things, would have required promoters to have nearly a third of a million dollars' worth of insurance, have a licence which would require fingerprinting and a background check, and for the police to have seven days' notice of all events.

We figure the police were just trying to save on the cost of a copy of the local listings magazine, but even so - it was tantamount to telling people not to bother coming to play music in the city.

The good news is the outcry has had the proposal put on hold - but only for now. Alderman Eugene Schulter has withdrawn his plan for "fine-tuning", which suggests he sees it as slightly damaged, rather than fundamentally flawed.

Affleck wishes he'd kept off the block

Ben Affleck, surprisingly, has regrets about the body of work he produced in his short period of stepping out with Jennifer Lopez.

And it's not Gigli.

No, no. He wishes he'd never appeared in the Jenny From The Block video:

"If I have a big regret, it was doing the music video. But that happened years ago. I've moved on."

We're not sure how far you've moved on from something if it's such a big regret. And, frankly, that video sucked so much, it'd be take the thrust of three air forces to move on from it.

Towers of London still around, apparently

We're a little surprised to discover Kristian Marr still being described as being a member of Towers Of London - hadn't that all, you know, just finished? Proving the power of prayer and birthday wishes?

Anyway, Marr somehow managed to get himself arrested breaking into Amy Winehouse's garage after... oh, it was after drinking too much. It's not clear who called the police, or why the police arrested Marr. Or what it was he was actually doing wrong. It's also very, very hard to care.

Weiland makes Doherty look like the Birdman Of Alctraz

Considering the way our papers spluttered when Pete Doherty rolled out of prison after a couple of weeks, how would they react to Scott Weiland's ten-hour stretch?

Weiland is taking advantage of those rules which allow some US criminals to more or less timeshare their chokey, doing a few hours here and there. At this rate, he'll have finished his 192 hours sometime around the time of the 2012 Olympics.

Q retunes

Q Radio - which has up to now been a fairly successful bunch of records played back-to-back - is about to have an exciting, extensive, expensive relaunch:

Q Radio programme director Ric Blaxill, the former head of programmes at BBC 6Music, said Q Radio would be a "living, breathing version of Q magazine - and some".

"We are working with a variety of established and new artists to provide us with exclusive content which is testimony to the power of the Q brand.

"There will be exclusive live sets which only Q could secure, alongside unique opportunities for the audiences to interact with our presenters and the bands themselves."

Now, it's a launch statement, so we'd expect a certain amount of hyperbole - and we shan't be cruel and ask why Blaxill doesn't believe that Q magazine is a living, breathing version of Q magazine - but "exclusives which only Q could secure"? Come on, Ric, the magazine might be competing with Clash and Uncut, but Q radio is competing with the BBC. Are you really saying there are artists who'd turn down a Radio 1 or Radio 2 slot but would jump at a chance to broadcast on Q?

And unique opportunities to interact with presenters, eh? Given that most stations can't get more than two seconds without a slew of emails and texts, we're presuming Q presenters will deal with incoming telepathy from the audience.

Ofcom takes on the pirate

Pirate radio. It's still a major problem, as far as Ofcom's concerned, in this world of iPods and digital and streaming music leaking for every pore. Ofcom insists its actually getting worse:

"In 2006 Ofcom's field operations team responded to 70 safety-of-life cases (a significant increase from the 41 such cases reported in 2005)."

These, we'd guess, include pirate radio pumping from emergency service radios and cutting into tower-to-plane communications. Curiously, though, while Ofcom has these seventy violations, there's no evidence so far that anyone has actually had their life terminated by pirate radio.

The regulator paints a picture of modern pirates as cash-hungry, gun-toting thugs - in much the same way that the record labels insist the people who don't play by their rules are outlaws who'd cut your throat soon as look at you - which might well be true in some cases, but seems a bit far-fetched. Ofcom's response is to call for more stringent punishments, although you might have thought that if there's a demand for these programmes, it might make more sense to supply them legally than pour resources into trying to close down a dangerous, shifting, lucrative illegal operation that will always return while there's a profit to be made.

In effect, this is like the argument that you'd be better off legalising hard drugs, but without the awkward 'won't the government then be selling heroin' ethical problem.

Of course, ancestor-regulator the Radio Authority tried to do just this - legalise pirate formats, not sell heroin - by cutting a deal where pirates could apply for a full-time, proper licence in return for no longer popping up illegally. Unfortunately, the RA dropped the ball awfully after taking this brave step, and failed to protect the new, legal stations, with the result that former pirates XFM and Kiss both got swallowed up by conglomerates, ridden into the middle of the road and abandoned their key audiences. Thereby creating demand for the new pirate stations.

How about - instead of issuing licences - creating a radio service where you can buy airtime? The chances of a pirate turning itself into a successful, legitimate 24-hour a day radio network competing for advertising with the big groups seem slim; the chances of hundreds of DJs being able to pull together the wherewithal to hire three or four hours a month on an FM transmitter (or even DAB) seem much happier. It's worth a try.

They could fund it by selling heroin.

Oh! What a feeling! When we're dancing on the ceiling

Ha ha, will the crazy Glastonbury craziness never, ever end? Ha, ha, this year they have a house in a field to dance in. Only it's all upside-down inside!!!1!!!

Just pure crazy. Whatever next - hip-hoppers on the pyramint stage?

A slice more lamb

MediaGuardian reports more deeply on George Lamb's victory as a "rising star" of radio at last night's Sonys:

Announcing his win, the Sony Radio Academy praised Lamb's blend of "surrealist humour, irreverent interviewing techniques and tongue-in-cheek antics".

"Although attracting listeners with his engaging banter and quirky approach to presenting, George's diverse music tastes form the heart of his show, taking in dancehall, rap, rave and beyond," the body added.

The trouble is, this sounds like someone desperately trying to explain why something won rather than a description of the programme. Unless we've missed the redefining of "surrealist" to mean "fifth-generation copy of late period Vic Reeves". And "tongue-in-cheek antics"? Antics? Are they hoping to have Nev The Blue Bear co-host?

It's the "irreverent interviewing technique" that's the real problem, though. Okay, if you're talking to Paul Daniels, fair enough. But a lot of his interviews are with the bands who play the Hub sessions - who, yes, are well chosen and probably account for much of the show's audience (doesn't everyone just spool through to 1 hour 43 and listen for ten minutes?). Why do I want an irreverent interview with a young band who I might not yet have heard an interview with? Okay, you might not want The Ting Tings interviewed as if they were senior clergy, but it would be nice to find out something about them rather than hearing Lamb's piffle-panted queries. And even if you like his line of questioning, his style is poor - he'll ask a question, get a reply, which he'll then repeat back slowly to the interviewee like a confused Brit asking for directions in central Luxembourg, before clucking and doing a Lee Green style "Awwwright".

Sure, there's a time and a place for George Lamb's style of presentation, but it's not on 6Music. The sooner his spiritual forebear Steve Wright retires and Lamb can move off 6, the better.

Not that it matters. You can just put last night's Gideon Coe on the listen agains.

Darkness at 3AM: What and the city?

It must be great for the 3AM Girls having an early-evening world premiere on their patch - no need to hold the mighty Daily Mirror presses; they can just slip the red carpet gossip into the paper before the sun sets.

So, what went on, 3AMies?

Oh. Lindsay Lohan is going to sell her tights? Kelly Osbourne had a Subway sandwich? Did nobody tell them about the premiere? Or are they just waiting until it comes out on DVD?

What the pop papers say redux

Here's a further curiosity from this week's NME: a full-page advert for Loaded. Fair enough, they're sister publications, you might think. But what's odd is that the advert solely promotes this month's Loaded giveaway - what the advert calls "World's funniest fridge magnets."

If you go and look at Loaded in the shops, though, the fridge magnets are clearly described as "pornalike" magnets - drawn from Loaded's long-running feature where readers send in photos for flick-mags that look like famous people.

What we're trying to understand is why the NME advert doesn't mention that this is what the magnets are. Does IPC think it's inappropriate for the NME audience to print the word "pornalike" in the magazine? But if so, why is it okay for the words to appear on the front of Loaded, being displayed in Tesco for all passing boy scouts, church wardens and strict teetotalers to see? More to the point, if the word "pornalike" is considered inappropriate for the NME readership, why are you advertising the fridge magnets to them in the first place? And if you know that the content of the gift is going to be offensive to some people, shouldn't you mention that in the advert, rather than not?

Gordon in the morning and the city

It was the glitteringiest showbiz occasion ever, ever seen in London, as the feature-length movie Sex And The City Ride Again premiered in London's busy Central London. In the movie, the famous characters from the programme - the one with the horse face and perfume range; the one from the tea advert; the other one; Eva Longoria and US hard rock band Mr Big - are all back together. We wouldn't normally do this sort of thing, but here's an exclusive promo clip:

You could almost feel sorry for Gordon this morning as he attempts to cover the premiere, which he does mostly with pictures. And by sending someone else to deal with the, uh, merchandising:

Now there's a Mr Big vibrator


Jonathan, bless him, goes to sex toy company LoveHoney, and knows exactly who to get a dildo quote from:
Head buyer Bonny Hall

There is, though, a pretty good story in Bizarre this morning, as Gordon has managed to get a response from Jay-Z to Noel's remarks:
“We don’t play guitars, Noel, but hip-hop has put in its work like any other form of music.”

He went on: “This headline show is just a natural progression. Rap music is still evolving.

"From AFRIKA BAMBAATAA DJ-ing in the Bronx and RUN DMC going platinum, to JAZZY JEFF AND THE FRESH PRINCE winning the first rap Grammy, I’m just next in the line.

“We have to respect each other’s genre of music and move forward.”

It's true, we checked: there were absolutely no rap records made between Jazzy Jeff's Summertime and Jay-Z's debut. None whatsoever.

By the way, you're not meant to answer the 'what happens at the end of the Sex And The City movie', but between you and me: it ends with a Hollywood producer barking into a phone: "LeBlanc's in, Schwimmer'll do it for a director's credit, Cox is in and if Kudrow won't play ball, we could get the woman who played her twin to do it..."

No sauce for Lamb: Sony Radio Awards

Last night the Sony Radio Awards - the radio industry's chance to claim "they're a bit like the Oscars" - were handed out at a glittering occasion that was only nearly entirely overshadowed by the Sex And The City premiere.

The good news - having somehow got onto the shortlist (why, yes, controller of 6Music Lesley Douglas did help choose the names), George Lamb didn't win anything.

Chris Moyles won the best breakfast show prize, a recognition he accepted with his trademark good grace:

Moyles was presented with his prize by his parents, Vera and Chris, who said: "Eight million listeners know he deserves it."

Despite winning, the DJ dismissed the Sony awards as "rubbish" and "boring".

Accepting his prize, he said: "Radio 1 won nothing until now. I should get a pay rise.

"Before all of us got together the Radio 1 breakfast show... oh, it was dreadful."

Was it? Was Sara Cox's programme really so much worse? Or is it just that when the competition is now Johnny Vaughan and Dr Fox, it's a bit easier to get the audience in, even with a honking narcissist in charge.

Station of the year went to Radio 4; in what we're choosing to interpret as a bitchslap, GCap Global's threatened Planet Rock was handed the Digital Station title. That won't save it; only someone with money can do that.

The winners in a list which doesn't look quite full:

Breakfast show Chris Moyles, Radio 1
Music programme Dermot O'Leary, Radio 2
Specialist music programme Friday Night Floorfillers with Krystle, 97.3 Forth One
News & current affairs Newshour, BBC World Service
Speech Saturday Live, Radio 4
Entertainment Russell Brand, Radio 2
Music broadcaster Andi Durrant, Galaxy
Music radio personality Jonathan Ross, Radio 2
Speech broadcaster Simon Mayo, Radio 5 Live
Comedy Down the Line, Radio 4
Digital station Planet Rock
Station of the year Radio 4

Update: Thanks to Simon T for pointing out that, actually, Lamb did win - it's just neither the Guardian nor the BBC reports mentioned his "rising star" award.

Monday, May 12, 2008

She said you don't know shit, because you've never been there

I am so old, I can remember watching Neds Atomic Dustbin back when they were technically too young to be playing in licensed venues.

This Christmas, they're coming back with a one-off gig at the Astoria on December 9th. We're sure, should tickets sell, there will be more of this sort of thing.

The Hard Rock make hard work

In the real world, if you had a desire to see Ronnie Wood's shin pads or Rod Stewart's hatbox, you have to go to a Hard Rock Cafe, and go through the pain of eating one of their overpriced burgers.

They've now launched an online "museum", but that, too, has a price: You have to install Microsoft's Silverlight to be able to see Elton John's crockpot or Jim Morrison's fatal washcloth. I'm not sure that it's worth it.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

The Word talks to Thom Yorke about Radiohead's departure from EMI:

How did Yorke feel about being briefed against as if he and his management were rival CEOs?

"It fucking pissed me off," he snaps. "We could have taken them to court. The idea that we were after so much money as stretching the truth to breaking point. That was his PR company briefing against us and I'll tell you what, it fucking ruined my Christmas. I was so angry, I decided I'd go for a walk, come home, write something on Dead Air Space [Radiohead's blog] and that would be it, it's over, the end. There was a certain satisfaction in knowing that I could redress it on our own website, but it was a clear indication that the relationship was over."

Sandi Thom, it's been too long

Thanks to David E for bringing Sandi Thom's interview in today's Metro to our attention.

When the question about those webcasts comes up, Sandi doesn't blink:

Some people have said the stories about your webcasts are overhyped. What do you make of that?

I just try to remember the good times. When we were doing those webcasts we were all staying in the same house. I don’t pay attention to the mean things people have said, I just think of the fun we had doing it.

Well, yes, you probably did have fun doing it, and you might not want to think about the "mean" things people said - which, of course, boiled down to the supposed DIY webcasts being actually part of a PR blitz; that the spikes of interest came after the stories circulated to the press about the supposed popularity of the shows; that she'd already signed a publishing deal before being "discovered" singing into a webcam from her basement, and so on. "We had fun, people are mean" is hardly much of a defence of the Thom camp's position.

Sandi also makes clear her position on Scottish politics:
Scotland should be its own country in the European Union. We’re not going to tow Scotland away in a tugboat; I just think Scotland should be more independent than it is now. I think it’ll happen one day. I’m very proud of being Scottish.

We're delighted to have the big question on Scottish independence clarified - we had always assumed that should Scotland secede, there'd be men with chisels along the north edge of Cumbria and Northumberland chip, chip, chipping away while the tugs were steaming.

Mind you, of course Sandi's not going to be tugging Scotland off anywhere. As she's just revealed, she loves the country so much, she's made her home in, erm, Brighton.

And who would Sandi talk to if she could speak to anyone who had passed over to the other side?
JFK. I’d want to know who shot him. He may not know but I’m sure he’d have a better suspicion than we would. I’m not convinced it was Lee Harvey Oswald.

Clearly JFK's instincts on his assassination should be trusted. Although they weren't so sharp that he put the car's roof up when he went to Dallas, were they?

Oasis split

Not entirely - but one of the hired hands has fallen out with Noel Gallagher and gone into internal exile. And - oh, sweet pain - it's the most Beatley of them all, drummer Zak Starkey.

We're given to understand he left, but not before sliding a message "I'll get help and come back for you" under Andy Bell's door.

Eurovision boss seeks some love

As the contestants start to gather for the latest bout of Eurovision, contest supremo Bjorn Erichsen has called for Terry Wogan to, well, shut the fuck up:

"Terry Wogan is a problem because he makes it ridiculous. I know he is very popular and maybe that's the reason a lot of people watch."

He claimed that the UK should follow Sweden's approach and show some "love and respect" for the competition.

Yes. It's Terry Wogan who makes the show look ridiculous.

Terry Wogan does that.

Jenny Frost seeks friends for her breasts

Jenny Frost - you'll recall her from such initiatives as that attempt to send Atomic Kitten back to number one early in the Capital Of Culture year - is pushing a campaign to encourage young mothers to breastfeed their babies. She's backing the Breast Buddy scheme, which:

hopes to encourage young mothers in Liverpool to nominate a buddy from their circle of friends and family, to provide practical and emotional support while they breastfeed.

We think by "providing practical support" while mothers breastfeed they don't mean literally.

It sounds like a worthy idea, although we're not entirely clear why you wouldn't just ask one of your mates for a hand rather than go through this bizarre buddying scheme:
Mums-to-be can register for the Breast Buddy initiative by texting BUDDY to 60022.

They will receive a Breast Buddy pack which will also include a text number for them to give to their nominated buddy, so they can receive texts of encouragement to help their friend with breastfeeding.

We're sure that the Echo must have horribly mangled that sentence - presumably the friend to text support to the mothers while they're breastfeeding rather than the other way round? And what exactly would you put into a text encouraging a breastfeeding mother? You Suckle?

Still, it is a great idea. Jenny is presumably texting encouragement to former colleague Kerry Katona as we speak ("try the other one, it might not have so much gin in it.")

Not fair, cry Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention and other bands who played last year's Isle Of Wight Folk and Blues festival claim they've not been paid yet. So, they've done exactly what you or I would do. No, I mean exactly. They complained to You and Yours. Dave Pegg told the programme:

"We did a concert there which was sold out. I personally travelled all the way from France where I was on holiday and took three days out of my life.

"The audience were great. We had a really good night. We may appear to be a big name but this is our livelihood and we really do need to get paid."

Rather missing the point, the organiser admits she hasn't yet sent out any cheques but has paid other musicians:
Geri Ward, who organises the Folk and Blues festival and the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, says performers will get their appearance fees.

"The jazz festival musicians from last year have been paid. The majority of this year's are already paid," she said.

"The folk and blues festival is a big problem to us because we do have to find reinvestment and find sponsors.

Perhaps the idea of not paying the blues performers was that, at least, they'd be able to get some more songs out of their predicament, but we're not quite sure that saying you've paid off the jazz guys is all that reassuring. It's like Peaches Geldof saying 'yes, but I paid for the shoes, didn't I?" and hoping that will be an end of the matter.

Smashy and nisi

So, that's almost it: The decree nisi has been issued in the McCartney-Mills divorce, moving the marriage into its final stages. If nobody objects, the pair will be divorced in six weeks.

Neither Paul nor Heather were in court today, but we're given to understand that Fiona Shackleton had brought a sou'wester with her. Just in case.

Universal seeking Miley

Never one to create its own way when it can just someone else's train, Universal is launching a search for its own Miley Cyrus. With a twist: she's going to be Canadian.

Hmm. A Canadian Miley Cyrus, eh?

Universal, your search is over.

Darkness at 3AM: Off to Maidstone

The 3AM Girls seem a little more fond of One Big Weekend, although it seems their access was limited to little bands complaining about the bigger stars, like The Fratellis, who had a point about Madonna's arrival:

Singer Jon Fratelli told us: "Who does Madonna think she is?

"I'm not into all this - we're all here to perform together. What happened to rock 'n' roll? Why is she even here? Everything has been changed around just for her and her ridiculous entourage.

"That's why we brought our own security team of midgets to look after us - and they're doing a great job. If she has an entourage then we're going to have one, too. Those people also ate all the food, so we had to order 18 pizzas from Domino's.

How very Live TV of them.

Meanwhile, The Kooks were wailing that Kylie wouldn't let them go to her party last week:
Luke, 23, (below) told us: "We heard she was having a party so asked if we could come." But Kylie moves in her own way - and said no way!

"We were gutted. I like her and her songs. I won't give up. "We'll try again next time we're in the same city."

We love the way Luke thinks there's something mysterious about Kylie saying no, as if that's just the kind of strange response you'd only expect from her, rather than the default position for anyone offered the chance of spending time with The Kooks.

So, did the 3AM Girls get any big story?
The Hoosiers frontman Irwin Sparkes has hired a bodyguard for his scared girlfriend - after she freaked out about an online fans' forum that went on about cooking and eating her!


Gordon in the morning: Madonna gets all sweary

Bizarre this morning is leading with Madonna's One Big Weekend performance. You might think Gordon is in charge when you read the opening paragraph:

BUSTY MADONNA causes a sensation as she almost pops out of her top

but, no: this excitement at almost seeing a nipple is the work of Sara Nathan, the paper's TV editor. But here main order of business is Madonna swearing. Twice:
The singer used the f-word twice during the Radio 1 Big Weekend gig live on BBC3, BBC HD and Radio 1.

On BBC 3 and BBC HD and Radio 1. As if it was being simulcast?
Holding an S&M-style cane, she introduced her song Hung Up to fans at the concert in Maidstone, Kent, saying: “You guys are going to have to start fucking it up out there ’cos I need to feel some love. I’m going to do an old song. But not too old. Fuck the present. Let’s live in the past.”

Now, most people would think the confused 'not too old - let's live in the past' time paradox was the closest thing to something interesting here, but for the Bizarre column, it's outrage at the f-word:
The BBC was rapped when Madonna, 49, swore at the Live Earth gig last year.

Now, if you or I were the "TV editor" of a national newspaper, we might - at the very least - have added the words "and many others" to that sentence, what with how it was the repeated swearing which earned the BBC censure, not because of Madonna alone. And you might feel obliged to point out the difference between a high-profile, teatime appearance by Chris Rock throwing round "motherfuckers" on BBC One, and a post-watershed, properly-warned appearance on BBC Three. But maybe not.

It's hard to take seriously a column on a "family newspaper's" website which now regularly runs photos of women with their tits out masquerading as entertainment journalism being a crusader for a less crude nation. Especially in an article also rubbing itself because Madonna had bouncy breasts.

Gordon, while this is going on, continues to develop his stalkery obsession with Jennifer Aniston. We don't know if he runs every single snap of Aniston that comes across his desk:
ASK any bloke to say which bikini-clad bird he’d most like to join him for a swim and the odds are JENNIFER ANISTON’s name is going to crop up in the top three.

... but it's starting to look like it. Wonder why Gordon is so enamored of a woman whose main success was playing a character who had an unlikely relationship with a slightly awkward, odd-looking bloke who had a teenager's dream job.

Oh, and, yes: He really does run a little cropped-out photo of just Aniston's breasts. So you can see the shape of her nipples. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel their skin crawl?

Elsewhere, Gordon straight-facedly (very, very straight-faced) uses the word "lez":
Hayden 'lez lust' for Angelina

It turns out that Smart thinks this is an acceptable word to describe lesbianism. But does Hayden Panettiere really have lesbian passion for Angelina Jolie, Gordon?
TELLY Heroes beauty HAYDEN PANETTIERE has claimed she would happily bed Angelina Jolie.

Has she really said that, Gordon?
The 18-year-old — who plays indestructible Claire Bennet in the BBC2 sci-fi hit — has been dogged by rumours she is a lesbian.

She said: “That’s fine with me. If I’m going to be linked with someone, I could do an affair with ANGELINA JOLIE, JESSICA ALBA or CHARLIZE THERON.

“And KATE BECKINSALE is gorgeous. There are so many beautiful girls.”

We've given up on expecting Smart to be able to write properly, but surely a basic grasp of English comprehension should still be required before being put in charge of a newspaper column? Clearly, Hayden is saying that if there are going to be lesbian rumours, at least make them with someone top-drawer, not that she has "lez lust" for anyone. Since Smart would never deliberately mislead his readers, we have to assume he's just unable to understand a joke, don't we?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Don't believe the Hype Machine hype... quite

Something seems about to happen to Hype Machine - although, apparently, not a $10million sale to Viacom. That is "not very accurate" according to HM's Anthony Volodkin. Not, you'll notice, completely wrong.

Just not very accurate.

The Spectator will be all over this one, then

Having decided that Gordon Brown can't help but tell lies, doubtless the Spectator's ongoing list of Prime Ministerial fibs will swell to include Brown claiming that a Briton invented the iPod. It seems obvious, though, that Brown has confused "designed" with "invented". Which might not say very much for his ability to remain in control of facts, come to think of it.

What the pop papers say: NME new all over again

How many relaunches has Conor McNicholas overseen now? He surely must have signed off more new designs for the paper than the title has had editors, with this week yet another relaunch hitting the shelves. To be honest, though, if it didn't tell you it was a relaunch and it didn't have a "new-look NME" welcome letter from Conor, you wouldn't notice overmuch. The hope is that they didn't spend very much money on it, because it's such pointless fiddling it's unlikely to add a single sale. It's unlikely to stop the audience ebbing away, either.

A couple of weeks ago, Conor announced through his editor's letter that the era of the samey-sounding guitar band was over, which makes the decision to relaunch with a deadly dull Coldplay cover, complete with eyewatering interview and free seven inch single of their new stuff. This, Conor says, "sounds eerily like The Stone Roses" - it doesn't, of course, but it's interesting that the way forward for the NME in this age of new, exciting different music is to put a decade-old band on the cover and talk of them in terms of a two-decade old band.

We've argued in the past that the NME should be less obsessed with chasing teenaged readers who don't care that much about music and focus on readers of all ages who love music, but the idea of just hammering together an obvious canon and dressing it up as heritage isn't what we had in mind - the constant churning of Sex Pistols/Clash/Roses/Oasis/Coldplay/Beatles seems less like a magazine which feels comfortable with pop history, more like a title that is clinging to a catechism. There are some hints of a smarter magazine trying to find its way out. Hamish McBain, at least, has a good stab at trying to write about music in a way that escapes the day trip to Mount Rushmore in the Roots column, turning in as strong a defence of Graceland as anyone could manage in fifty words; Jaimie Hodgson reports on the "return of riot grrrl", co-opting Heavenly into the original version - arguable, but at least there's a mention of Heavenly in the NME for the first time in a decade. It'd be nice to think we'll see more of this in the future, although probably not.

New features? Not so much - indeed, the "new" ideas are just old ones resurrected. To be honest, we're not sure if the 'article by pop star/article by writer' pairing of topical pieces had been dropped before, but if it had, it's been revived; Thrills' throwaway That Perpetual Motion has been dusted down and reborn as 12 Steps. The design has been tweaked, slightly - much, much more of the yellow that marketing departments believe people want.

But the real problem is the value. The magazine is £2.20 a week now. Two pounds twenty. That's more than the bloody Financial Times. At the weekend. Or The Obserber, which one a month comes with a better music magazine.

There's also about 34 pages of advertising, if you count plugs for other parts of the NME empire. Out of 76 pages in total. So, you're paying five pence for each page of content - hardly a compelling option for the casual buyer. Maybe the logical thing to do would be to abandon charging - perhaps except for subscribers, who could pay to ensure their supply - and try to build the readership that way. It might make more long-term sense than another relaunch every six months.

The onward, slow march of the Zune

Great news on the Zune sales front - assuming, of course, that you work for Apple or Sandisk: the two millionth Zune has just been sold, almost a year to the day after the first million was passed. Not terrible sales, but not picking up much speed, either.

Of course, two million units isn't bad, and Microsoft has now got four per cent of the portable music player market, cementing its third-in-the-sector place. The lack of an appearance on the European market suggests - for the moment at least - Microsoft's priorities lay elsewhere.

Peaches Geldof: The one-woman Richard Madeley tribute act

James P emails with a link and an assurance that it's not a repeat. Well, it is, but not in the sense that it's a story being re-run, just history repeating itself, as Peaches Geldof's people again explain how her leaving a shop with items unpaid for was a terrible coincidence and nothing to do with incipient kleptomania:

Geldof's lawyer said: "The correct facts are these; our client was shopping in an east London retailer trying on clothes with friends. She bought a number of articles of clothing from the retailer. One article she tried on and discarded was picked up by a friend in the mistaken belief that it belonged to our client.

"Some time later, when our client and her companions were at another shop, the friend who had picked up the item was approached by the shop owner - [from] whose stock it came - and she explained that she had taken the item in the belief that it belonged to our client.

"When our client explained that it did not belong to her, her companion apologised for her mistake, and the item was returned to its owner."

It happens to us all. As James observes:
Hang on, let me check the official term from her legal people here... Ah yes, 'Trying on clothes in a shop and then discarding a garment which a friend thinks is actually hers and so helpfully puts in her bag for her, only for her to be accosted later on by shop staff who had to explain that it hadn't actually been paid for'. They might want to come up with a name for that, considering how often it seems to happen. Still, kudos to the shop staff who managed to resist the temptation to shout "Just give us yer fucking money"

It makes me wonder if she actually leaked that drug-deal video herself, on purpose. You know, just to prove that she does pay for stuff sometimes.

Red Rhino weekend: Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

Last time it was Red Guitars, now Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. There wasn't, actually, any compulsion to incorporate the word "Red" (or, indeed, "Rhino") into your band name to work with Red Rhino. This bunch - who played Leeds on Friday, apparently - were signed to the Red Rhino label; this track is Spinning Around from 1985:

[Buy: The Best of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry]

[Part of the Red Rhino weekend]

Trouble dogs DMX again

The last time police popped round to one of DMX's houses, they found a number of dead dogs. DMX's people scratched their heads and expressed surprise, claiming that he was a big animal lover, the 2002 conviction for animal cruelty notwithstanding.

What a surprise, then, to hear of a raid on another of DMX's houses, where police claim they found more evidence of animal cruelty, and drugs, and guns. Last time round, DMX tried to blame it all on the caretaker; this time, as he was in residence, he might need to think of something else.

Indeed, he tried to give himself some thinking time:

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Mr Simmons had initially barricaded himself in his bedroom when officers arrived at his home at 0300 local time, but eventually surrendered without offering further resistance.

His lawyer, though, is pretty bullish about his client's innocence. Not pitbullish, of course, because that would probably end with his body being found in a shallow grave out the back of the house:
Mr Simmons's lawyer, Murray Richman, said he believed evidence did not support the charges of animal cruelty, which has been a major focus of Sheriff Arpaio.

"I think that the animal cruelty is not going to be able to be established and I think that this is Sheriff Joe's moment," he said.

We're sure there's nothing to be read into Richman's decision to say the charge couldn't be established, rather than denying any animal cruelty took place.

Justin Timberlake is the Jeremy Beadle of pop

Justin Timberlake has got involved with a new MTV gameshow:

Justin Timberlake is set to put his music career on the back burner and produce a new reality game show for MTV.

Somehow, we're finding it hard to believe that Timberlake's production role is going to be so hands-on that it might stop his music career from flourishing.

The gameshow is basically that old local radio stand-by, ringing a phone, seeing if someone picks it up and then asking them answer a question and win a prize. The only slightly modern twist is that instead of calling a phonebox, they'll be callling a mobile phone instead.

MTV is excited, of course. MTV are always excited:
Speaking about the show, MTV executive vice-president Tony Disanto said: "Reinvention is at the core of what we do, and The Phone does just that. Each week will be an action-packed mini-movie.”

We're not sure that flinging on a game show is a reinvention of MTV, which has been showing flim-flam that has little to do with music for years and years.

Guess who's Gus: The gay secrets of hip-hop

Whoever would have thought that, beneath all the macho posturing and crotch-grabbing and bitch this and ho that of hip-hop, there's a lot of closeted homosexuality in the rap world?

Oh, you'd guessed?

Terrance Dean used to work for MTV, and he's now published a book revealing what he's seen. Although he's not actually naming names. Some of these guys have guns, you know:

That gay hip hop subculture certainly seems to be thriving. Dean's book describes a world where many industry executives and some artists are leading secret gay lives, which are often obvious to everyone but rarely talked about. And, despite using some false names, the book contains enough information so that it will undoubtedly spark off a frenzy of speculation as to who some of the characters are in real life.

For example, Dean describes 'Lola', a singer who is a lesbian and had to keep her sexuality secret. And 'Gus', a male rap artist who appeared on television in typical 'gangsta' style yet hid a secret gay life. Then there are the other hints of big-name celebrities close to the hip hop business who are also gay. They include 'Lucas', a married A-list movie star, and 'Kareem', a leading sitcom actor.

Dean claims his motives for publishing the book are pure, and not merely an attempt to sell books off the back of a "guess who this is meant to be" style guessing game:
Dean hopes that by bringing out his book he will allow a leading hip hop figure to come out as gay and thus pave the way for the notoriously homophobic industry to come to terms with its secret side. 'Within the next year I believe a major artist will come out. They are going to have to be brave but I think they can do it,' he said.

It's a bit of a hope - an artist comes out as gay and all of a sudden Eminem's going to be comfortable around gay men who aren't Elton John? Good luck with that one, Terrance.

Adele's tangled web

To be honest, we don't think Adele has ever said that she won't lose weight, ever - although her comments about her body shape tend to get reported as if that's what she's said, if you read what she actually said was she wouldn't lose weight because other people tell her she should:

'The press are always trying to bring it up,' she says, regarding me balefully, 'but I really don't give a toss. If I wanted to be on the cover of FHM, then of course I'd be, like, fuck, I need to lose weight or, I need some fake tan or I need to get my teeth fixed. But I'd rather be on the cover of Q for my music.'

Likewise, although Zoe Zoe Showbiz in today's Sunday Mirror heads her story:
Adele wants to lose weight before heading to America

Adele is shortly heading off to the States - so has decided to slim.

the only quote Zoe offers suggests that, actually, all that's happened is Adele is drinking less and the weightloss is a side-effect:
"I haven't had a drink for 20 days and I've noticed the effect."

Which isn't quite the same thing as obsessively slimming in order to please the Americans.

Red Rhino weekend: Red Guitars

The Red Guitars' label, Self Drive, was distributed by Red Rhino, whose contribution to the UK independent music scene we're celebrating this weekend. This is another homebrewed video, for their debut single Good Technology:

[Available, but eye-wateringly expensive: 1986's Tales Of The Expected album]

[Part of the Red Rhino weekend]

Rav Singh: live from Maidstone

Rav Singh slyly drops the name that Gordon Smart didn't have to hand this week, adding a name and picture of the woman who may or may not be the mystery blonde Smart is convinced that Fielder-Civil will run off with. Actually, she turns out to be a brunette, called Sarah Thomas, and Singh offers nothing to suggest that she's going to be the next Mrs. Fielder-Civil beyond a quote from his Mum who says that she's told Blake that's what he should do. Not, you'll note, that that's what he is going to do.

Rav, meanwhile, reports back breathlessly from Radio One's Big Weekend:

I was backstage to bring you all the goss

And what does he have to tell us? Erm, that Usher was there, and Duffy played some songs onstage.

Worth the return rail fare to Maidstone, then.

News of the World asks, answers its own question

As Madonna performs the 975th "spontaneous" faux-lesbian kiss of her career to date, the News of the World runs a page of semi-famous women kissing semi-famous women and asks:

Why are so many showbiz babes obsessed with kissing girls?

The answer, of course, is because then the News of the World will run pictures of them kissing each other.

Although that's not what the paper's expert Pam Spurr believes:
"In fact it is the most common, male fantasy: being able to watch two women together and then hoping they'll get to join in."

No, Doctor Pam. You're wrong.

This is the most common male fantasy. It's just they never tell sex surveys.

This week just gone

The ten-biggest non-search referring domains from the last twelve months have been:


These were the interesting releases:

The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby

Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

Sebadoh - Bubble And Scrape Reissued, expanded, returning

Various - Early Girls US teen girl pop from early 60s

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Mexican Institute Of Sound - Mejico Maxico

Zombie Zombie - A Land For Renegades

Ray - Death In Fiction

Hadouken - Music For An Accelerated Culture

The Shortwave Set - Replica Sun Machine

Delays - Everything's The Rush

Various - Strange Pleasures - Further Sounds Of The Decca Underground Triple disc set of lost proggy and soft-prog classics