Saturday, December 13, 2008

Drug dealers are OK, providing they're dealing to Amy Winehouse

The Sun doesn't like drug dealers. They're scum and something must be done:

Now defeatists are raising their hands and calling for drugs to be legalised.

That is a recipe for disaster and an even bigger explosion in drug-related death.

The only solution is a total war on importers, dealers and users.

They should be locked up and keys thrown away:
High crime rates and hard drugs go hand in hand. A few years ago, Chicago forced every deskbound cop back on to its streets. They targeted drug dealers and locked them away - and the crime rate plummeted.

It's unequivocal in its line: drug dealers ruin lives and must be dealt with by the full force of the law.

Oddly, though, when the now-convicted dealers Johnny Blagrove and Cara Burton came to the paper's offices, rather than "waging war" on them, or calling the police to have them "locked away", the paper cut a cheque for thousands of pounds.

The paper could, of course, argue that it was necessary to buy the video to expose Winehouse's drug use, and that it was working for a greater good - but you'd think, then, that the paper would mention how far deep into Murdoch's pockets it dug for the greater good. Instead, while the New York Times and the Mail happily handed drug dealers fifty thousand pounds, the paper is coy about its own role. In fact, it neglects to mention paying at all:
The pair handed the footage to The Sun but the paper later passed it to police.

By 'handed', you mean 'sold', surely?

Still, to be fair, the paper's "Staff reporter" doesn't quite duck their employer's responsibility:
The judge added that the sentence was passed solely for Blagrove’s offer to supply drugs, not for the sale of the video footage.

He told the court: “A more public spirited person would have handed it to the police, rather than making money from it.

“But it would be quite wrong to punish him for that.”

Or perhaps the staff reporter didn't register that this is as much a criticism of a world in which newspapers would be prepared to give dealers cash in return for videos of famous people on drugs.

No word on what the pair did with fifty grand of News International money, though. Perhaps they invested it in Icelandic banks, eh?

Dizzee Rascal demonstrates how to end knife crime

Now we know why Dizzee Rsacal was so keen for an end to knife crime: it makes it easier for baseball bat criminals to ply their trade.

The record company might think differently, Axl

Axl Rose has suggested that, you know, there might be a Chinese Democracy sequel in the works:

"For now we'll concentrate and keep our focus on this album but I will say I've always thought of it as a double," he said.

Given the gestation period, and costs poured in to the first record, resulting in sales in the high dozens, Axl has probably yet to float a business plan on this one.

Sony BMG help with your Christmas shopping

Sony BMG (nobody seems to have told them they're not called that any more) sent out an email yesterday with "suggestions" for Christmas gifts. It's an interesting insight into how record companies' minds work.

First up, do you need something for the woman in your life? A partner, perhaps, a wife, or a lover? Well, if there's one thing Sony BMG know about women, apparently, it's that they have rubbish taste:

Sony BMG don't, for a moment, entertain the possibility that the woman with whom you share your home, your life, your most intimate moments, might not actually be dead inside. Let's be lucky they're not helping us choose Christmas dinner, too, otherwise it'd down to some sort of liquidised mush or perhaps a big cup of Complan.

Still, that's Mum out the way. What about the rest of the family? Given that you're shacked up with a woman who would accept an Il Divo record without a murmur of objection, you might be feeling like the best of your life has passed. But, hey, you're still young, you're still down with the kids, right? Rather than give your daughter something she'd actually want, why not take the opportunity of the gifting season to try and show her that Daddy still knows what's groovy. Sony BMG can help:

Picture Christmas morning: "Hey, Dad, I thought you were past it, but by buying me a Dido album, you show you're still vaguely aware what the squarer fifteen year-olds were listening to at the end of the last century."

Seriously: getting advice from Sony BMG about what's "in touch"? Isn't that like reading the Daily Mail for tips on charity?

Your daughter, then, can be used to hold off the mid-life crisis at least until fancying Sheridan Smith on the Jonathan Creek special makes you feel a little dirty. But what about your son? What can you get him?

Let's face it, he's just waiting for you to die so he can be the man of the house, so why put any effort into it?

Yeah, buy him one of those records that has topped everybody's best of lists. That's the way to go. After all, since everyone has heard them, loved them, and bought them already, what could possibly go... hmm. Better keep the receipt.

Of course, there may be some people who feel that Sony BMG knows their family better than they do, and if you do read the suggestions and find yourself thinking that, perhaps the most magical gift you could give this year would be some of yourself?

Bloc Party: Just over One Month Off

On January 26th, Bloc Party will be rolling out a new single, One Month Off, and as is their embrace of modern ways, it's getting its first outings on the YouTubes:

Downloadable: Michael Franti drops small hint about the inauguration

Michael Franti has apparently missed the memo that we're all supposed to be really disappointed by Obama. Like, he was elected weeks ago and hasn't even bothered to move in to the White House yet - what's he waiting for? An invitation from the President?

Franti, though, is still buoyed by optimism, and has channeled it into a free mp3, the Obama song. Can we download it via the Facebook iLike plug in? Yes, we can.

Gordon in the morning: Stop it now, Gordon

What level of editing is going into the Bizarre column these days? Is the Take That Press Team sending stuff across attached to an email, or are they at least dictating over the phone to give Gordon some typing to do?

This morning, it's all about Glastonbury:

TAKE THAT desperately want to complete their all-conquering comeback by headlining Glastonbury.

The man band have never played a big festival and already have their eyes on a headline slot in 2010 as the icing on the cake for their incredible careers.

Gordon continues to push the 'wouldn't it be bwilliant if Robbie rejoined" line - even running pictures from Williams' awful hanging-out-with-Oasis Glasto experience and reminding people that, hey, 2010 could mean all five of them together:
Bosses at their Universal label have held informal talks with festival chiefs and they could even be joined on stage by ex-bandmate ROBBIE WILLIAMS if reunion talks continue going well.

There's one slight piece of grit in this well-oiled press offensive, though, which you'll find tucked at the very foot of Gordon's piece:
A whopping 89 per cent of you who called my phone poll said Take That should carry on without Robbie.

Why do I suspect if the result had gone the other way, it might have been flagged up a little more prominently?

Still, at least it gives Gordon some purpose. He's reduced to running a story about a guy on a German reality show bringing a chicken to orgasm as his third story this morning - ten years ago, that would barely have made it to a SunSpot.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Supergrass escapes

Back in April, Supergrass warned EMI not to axe people who knew about music. EMI paid no notice, and so now Parlophone no longer have Supergrass on their books.

The band are going to self-publish; perhaps they can use the money Danny Goffey selling his wedding to Hello! as seed money.

Specials reunion: Jerry Dampers

The highly-priced - sorry, highly-prized - tickets to the Specials reunion tour are selling well. But isn't it a little odd that the man who shaped the band isn't involved? No Jerry Dammers, not so Specials, surely?

Funnily enough, that's what Dammers was thinking:

According to the statement issued on his behalf: "Many people are under the impression it is the original Specials [re-forming for the reunion dates]. As was common knowledge at the time of their success, Jerry Dammers was the founder, main songwriter and driving force of the Specials. He recruited every member individually, and the musical and style direction was guided by him. He designed the 2 Tone logo and formed the 2 Tone record label. Jerry has a duty to inform anybody who may be interested, of the true situation, which is that he was not invited to take part in this proposed tour, or even told about it."

In November this year, the band announced their reunion but Dammers claims he wasn't properly considered. Or, in his words, "The prodigal sons came home, kicked me out, and have left the door open, great."

According to the statement, members of the Specials have said that "the door is still open to [Dammers]," but they "fail to mention that Jerry has been driven out every time he has attempted to get involved over the last year. He also wonders why this appears in the newspaper when former bandmates have his phone number".

It continues: "These seem to be part of a wider attempt to rewrite the whole history of the band, in order to try and justify what is currently going on. Jerry does not wish to go into too much detail at this point, except to say that for over 25 years he had dreamed that his former bandmates might come back one day, and was deeply shocked to find that when they did, for some of them, it was apparently to kick him out."

The statement also claims that Dammers turned up uninvited to a meeting about the reunion and received a "severe dressing down" for suggesting they should engage in lengthy rehearsals.

The statement concludes: "Jerry does not believe it represents what the real Specials stood for, politically, or in terms of creativity, imagination or forwardness of ideas, and he does not think the proposed venues would really be appropriate to a band of the status of the real Specials."

So, effectively, what people are currently lashing out for is closer to a Fun Boy Three reunion tour than the Specials jaunt it's being marketed as.

Last day at work: CBS semidecimates Last FM team

As CBS struggles to make money from the internet, it's using 'select all-delete' to its expensive buy-in Last FM. Twenty-ish staff are being sent to the dole queues, mostly from the London office, reports TechCrunch.

Elton John told "your skin's too thin"

Attempts by Elton John to sue The Guardian for taking the piss out of him, gently have been thrown out of court.

John had objected to a Weekend Magazine spoof diary feature - claiming it was snide and that it suggested he was insincere about his charity work.

Presumably this wasn't in the X Factor contract? Surely?

Simon Cowell has whored out two teenagers' relationship in a bid to try and get people to watch ITV on Saturday night.

UPDATE: Due to some sort of machine translation error, the original text of this post appeared in a garbled form. It was intended to read Simon Cowell says X Factor couple Eoghan Quinn and Diana Vickers are 'in love'. Apologies if the impression was given that Cowell is prepared to stoop to any level to try and bark up an audience for his show and treats the ITV tea-time audience like credulous dopes.

Gordon in the morning: Leave it Gary, he's not worth it

The continuing stream of Robbie-and-That stories coming from Wapping suggests that we're being softened up for some sort of unpleasant announcement in the New Year. Today, Gary Barlow makes encouraging noises:

He said: “Robbie will not be coming on tour with us next year because he’s got his own things to do.

“But we are not ruling out getting together with him beyond that.”

It's clear that in these difficult times, we must look to Gordon Smart for leadership. Faced with a Sun readership who are split between hating the very idea of Williams arriving late and spoiling the party with his trademark gurning, and people who have the sense of a petrol-doused reveller going to fireworks display, Smart tries to fudge his opinion piece:
ROBBIE’S return to Take That has split the nation.
For all the problems I have had with Robbie, I would love to see him do one big gig with the band again, for old times’ sake.

A one-off, televised concert is the answer. It would draw a line under the past and give everyone a nostalgia packed high.

Can something simultaneously draw a line under the past and make everyone remember the past?

And this isn't even a compromise: doing one gig? Even Smart admits it would be unlikely to be just the one:
Reading in to the mutual love-in between all the members going on now, one gig would probably open the floodgates to many more.

Of course it bloody will. Still, given that the Take That reunion has now run out of steam (you're in trouble when your Marks and Spencers adverts are more lively than your new records) it's not like Williams' return will actually spoil anything.

Elsewhere, Gordon runs a photo of Alesha Dixon getting out a cab. And what time would that be, Gordon?
Alesha parties 'til phwoar a.m

Yes. Phwoar am. Very good.

This is surprising, though:
She will have to be careful with the late nights and champers – I’ll be joining her for a trek up Kilimanjaro in February for Comic Relief

Hang about... you're going to be on the side of a mountain with a woman in two months, and you think it's a good idea to run upskirt/downshirts of her? I'd keep a careful eye on who you're relying on hold your ropes, Gordon.

New Order: And to think George Michael got ribbed over his shorts

There is absolutely no news-related reason to post this, it's here purely for its own glory. New Order, stuck in Radio One studios playing Blue Monday live for TV (see, 6Music Hub, filming bands playing live for the radio isn't all that cutting-edge). But please note, don't ring the number for the video vote - lines are closed, and you may be charged for the call:

The end of EntertainmentUK?

Robert Peston is just on, suggesting that Entertainment UK - the distribution arm of Woolworths - looks unlikely to survive the collapse of the company.

Mini Liveblog: Mary Margaret O'Hara on Today

Nicola Standbridge catches up with Mary Margaret O'Hara. This is a quick dip in what she had to say:

I kept saying I just want to mix the record I made... it took a long time to get out there.

Why didn't I do any more? I just keep writing.

I always wanted to do Christmas stuff... I didn't want to do a second album... I guess I had my back up from the years it took to do the last one.

I'm not going to write particularlrly disjointed ones... it's just out of my head... it's like 'that's right'... boomp boomp boomp - they say what kind of computer do you have in your head?

I do a lot of live improv... just sounds... whatever it is, you start and it goes. It's fun... I guess gibberish.

People won't go free because they don't hear the freedom [in my music] - some do, some go free.

This is her on stage, doing Bodies In Trouble:

[The interview will appear on the Today page in about an hour or so]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Downloadable: Cut Copy

Not one, but two slices of Cut Copy deliciousness from RCRD LBL today. First up, there's a Golden Filter remix of Far Away, which you can download and show to your friends; then there's a Hercules And Love Affair remix of the same track which is streamable.

Dead Pixels for free

Something quite nice, and just in time for Christmas: a free mp3 from The Dead Pixels [YouSendIt link, zipped file] by way of getting you excited for their forthcoming dates:

Dec 19th Islington Bar Academy
Jan 15th Cargo London
Jan 31st La Fleche d’Or Paris
Feb 3rd 93 Feet East London

Festivals on the instalment plan

James P emails, bringing news of plans by US festivals to allow tickets to be bought on HP terms:

The $120 (£82) cost of Langerado, which takes place in Miami in March, can be paid over three months. The festival features artists such as Death Cab For Cutie, The Pogues, Snoop Dogg and Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

The lineup for Bonnaroo, from June 11-14, is yet to be announced. Special pre-sale tickets are being offered until December 31 and include five instalments of $50 (£33).

James sees Carol Vorderman's First Plussed hands in this, and wonders if there's going to be other options:
The Langerado line-up currently includes Ryan Adams, Death Cab for Cutie and Snoop Dogg. Oasis haven't been approached yet, although if they are, the beer tent will presumably offer the audience the opportunity to consolidate all their urinations into one managable bottle.

Still, it's nice to see festival organisers at least realise that they've reached a point where their entry fees have got completely out of line with what the audience can afford - although if you're flogging something expensive, putting up "Interest Free Credit" signs all over the place hardly reduces the sense that you're looking for someone to make a hefty investment in something. They might have tried, perhaps, reducing the prices a little first?

Gordon in the morning: Take me back

Gordon Smart reveals that Robbie Williams is starting to think he might have been a little hasty:

ROBBIE WILLIAMS has given his biggest hint yet that he will rejoin TAKE THAT

Really? What did he say?
“I’d love to be in the band again but I’ve got some unfinished business of my own.”

Thank God we've got experts like Gordon on hand to unpick subtle hints like that, eh?

Williams bangs on about how well he's getting on with the guys again - having laughs that hurt his belly, that sort of thing, and it's all quite touching were it not for the lurking suspicion that Williams is not so much fond of his former band mates, as aware how fond the nation are of Take That.

If the prospect of Robbie Williams sniffing round his old mates wasn't surprise enough for this morning, Gordon's new intern might make your jaw a little slack. Yes, today, for perhaps one day only: Alan McGee writes for Bizarre. Sorry, that's:
The man who discovered the Gallaghers

It's a fairly bog-standard trot through the Blur versus Oasis feud, which concludes:
I think it’s great for music that both Oasis and Blur are playing gigs next year.

Is it really, though, Alan? Or is it just good for people who hire out those massive TVs and sell tabards with "Steward" printed on them?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Old mp3s for sale

The concept of digital ownership - do you own mp3s? And if you do, why can't you sell them - is getting a bit of a shaping up: a service called Bopaboo has started up, offering a 'used' mp3 marketplace.

I'm expecting the thorny question of how you can tell that an mp3 on sale is the original and not merely a duplicate will bring the pain of a thousand RIAA lawyers down on top of the Bopaboo team at any moment. Which is a pity, as it does offer an answer to the 'what do you do if you buy something rubbish by mistake' question.

American Idol contracts: Equally tight

It's not clear if the X Factor contract forbids contestants from killing themselves, but that seems to have been missing from the American Idol paperwork. Paula Abdul suggests that Paula Goodspeed's humiliation on the programme might have been constructed to create a TV moment:

In an interview with Barbara Walters on Sirius XM radio on Monday night, Abdul said that American Idol's producers knew that Goodspeed had stalked her (she maintained a restraining order against her intermittently for 18 years) and, in fact, allowed her to audition precisely for that reason. "It's fun for them to cause me stress," Abdul said. "This was something that would make good television." Abdul said that she protested Goodspeed's appearance on the show, but that the producers selected her "for entertainment value."

Goodspeed, of course, went on to kill herself; you might find yourself wondering at a TV show which cares so little about its fodder, but also so little for its supposed stars, that it would allow stalker and stalkee to come face-to-face. Walters certainly did:
When Walters asked why Abdul remains on a program that jeopardizes her safety, Abdul said, "I'm under contract."

Let's hope that doesn't give Cowell any ideas - hmm, a judge with a contract out on them...

X Factor contracts: 80 pages, little cash

If you're an X Factor finalist, part of the deal with the devil is that you're legally barred from ever criticising Simon Cowell. You'd love to see him try to actually enforce that, wouldn't you?

Everyone has to sign an 80 page document which includes the clause; the Daily Mail is half-heartedly trying to suggest this is some sort of scandal rather than the sort of over-pedantic control freakery you'd come to expect from such a franchise. It's not like anyone actually cares about the singers who are due to be spat out the system in a couple of months, is it?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Grace Jones chocolate novelties

The Creative Review blog explores the process of making life-sized chocolate figurines of Grace Jones, which certainly gives the Lindt bunny a run for its money:

“The original idea was to produce a set of images of Grace being mass-produced but with her being in control of the actual process,” says Hingston. “The crux of the idea is that she has ownership of her identity. We looked at a range of manufacturing processes, from car makers to pottery factories, but there was something about her being made of chocolate that had [the right] connotations.”

Coldplay: It was all our own work

Oh, dear: Coldplay are mildly annoyed at the allegations that they might have ripped off Joe Satriani:

With the greatest possible respect to Joe Satriani, we have now unfortunately found it necessary to respond publicly to his allegations. If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him. Joe Satriani is a great musician, but he did not write or have any influence on the song Viva La Vida. We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours. Coldplay.

"We wish him well with all future endeavours"? He isn't one of your gardeners who you're letting go because of the turndown, Martin. Still, we're sure this tersely-worded "it was all a strange coincidence" will satisfy Joe, who will withdraw his legal action and go about his business as before without a worry.

Well, it might work.

Where is the love, asks Mark Morrison

For some reason, the original Leicester Mercury story detailing Mark Morrison's feelings of alienation from his home town have disappeared, but luckily our friends at My Chemical Toilet caught it before it disappeared.

Morro, it seems, can't work out why he hasn't been clasped to the Midlands bosom:

"I showed Leicester the love and that city never showed me the love back. That place has shown me nothing but contempt."

Well, perhaps, but I suspect you're confusing indifference with contempt, Mark.

He's particularly upset that Gary Lineker and Engelbert Humperdinck are lauded by the city while he's... well, he thinks people are snickering at him, behind his back:
"I will always be the all-time musical great of your city. I'm The Beatles of that city."

Ah, yes, and 'Return Of The Mac' is Leicester's Yesterday, and... some other song by Morrison is the Helter Skelter, and... did he do three songs? If he did, the third one would be the city's Ballad Of John And Yoko, probably.

The City of Leicester has reacted to Morrison's claims that he will never visit the place again by building a massive tourism advertising campaign around the theme 'The one place you can be certain of never seeing Mark Morrison', although the Top 40 has been using the same slogan for several years.

[Thanks for the tip to Simon T]

Donnas collected

We have all lived so long that we're now seeing The Donnas honoured with a career-spanning retrospective. Yes, apparently seven albums in so far and counting.

Curiously, the plan is to re-record some of the old songs - which, given the compilation is going to be on their own label, suggests shades of Simply Red's scheme to create versions of their back catalogue which they own.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mail On Sunday launches a record label

Having long churned out covermount albums, and this year having tried giving away brand new albums, the Mail On Sunday has decided the logical next step is to launch its own record label:

Speaking to Music Week, The Mail on Sunday editor, Peter Wright, said: "With a newspaper we are used to making decisions very quickly and turning things around very quickly.

"There are some wonderfully talented people in the music industry, but I think they are a bit traditional in their thinking."

Well, that's undeniable, but I'm not convinced that 'making quick decisions' would be the key skill that you require when running a record label. Still, they're giving it a go.

They're releasing ACM Gospel Choir's Silent Night as a download this week - they really feel it's a contender for number one. A choir singing a carol in December, huh - wow, that's going to show traditionalists in the music industry a thing or two about new ideas.

The Mail will then wrap an AMC Gospel album up with the usual right-wing hate-whispering for a giveaway.

Venueobit: Elmer Valentine

Elmer Valentine, the man who founded Whisky-A-Go-go, has died.

Valentine had already had a share in a California club, PJs, but his career took off after he 'borrowed' the Whisky A Go Go name and formula from a Parisian club. The club was wildly successful, as much for the women-in-cages-dancing as for the line-up of bands who played there. Valentine opened branches in other cities, which didn't prove as resilient; he also invested in The Roxy venue in LA, which did.

Elmer Valentine was 85.

It's like Beatlemania. That was mostly made-up, too.

Oh, the scenes as JLS play a free gig at Croydon's Fairfield Halls:

X-Factor fans injured at JLS gig

Wow, they haven't even won yet and they're creating carnage and chaos and pain. What was this, then? A barrier collapse? Dozens squished as a crowd surged forward to touch the hem of the JLS garments?
The London Ambulance Service said four of the girls were taken to hospital after four ambulances, three single responders and a duty manager were called to the scene shortly after 4pm.

"We treated five patients. They were all teenage girls, all with minor injuries.

"Four of them were taken to Mayday Hospital in south London. There was one with a hand injury, one with difficulty in breathing and two who were also just taken unwell.

"The fifth was treated at the scene."

Mayday hospital? Really? If you were being rushed to hospital, getting reassured all the way, would you really want to see the words "Mayday" everywhere?

Anyway, while it doesn't exactly sound like fun, even the Telegraph realises that this wasn't one of those events where they'll be making a film in years to come:
One concert-goer told the Croydon Guardian she was helped from the crowd after suffering an asthma and panic attack.

"I'd been queuing since 1pm but when the schoolkids turned up it became so busy with them all pushing us towards the front," she said.

"There was a pregnant woman in the crowd. It was horrible. I couldn't move. I couldn't get out."

It's not clear if the person who spoke to the Croydon paper thought it was horrible because of the crush, or because there was a pregnant woman there - "get that gravid beast away from me, dammit..."

The Police just wouldn't play ball with any sort of quote claiming they'd never seen anything like it:
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "It was all over and done with by 8pm."

Young people get a bit over-excited at the prospect of seeing someone off the telly. The front pages remain resolutely unheld.

If Jim Morrison had lived

Let's imagine that Jim Morrison hadn't died at the age of 27. Okay, he'd probably have died at 28, or 29, or 30. But what if - somehow - he had lived. What would he look like today? Like Kurt Russell, reckon some scientists who have produced an computer-aged image of him. They've only done the face, though, and haven't gone as far as to stick him in a studio recording an album with Rick Rubin, or halfway down the Sunday bill at Glastonbury.

Gordon in the morning: Blurback

Who's taking the credit for today's expected announcement about Blur playing next year's Glastonbury?

It's Gordon Smart, of course:

Last month I said that if DAMON ALBARN, GRAHAM COXON, ALEX JAMES and DAVE ROWNTREE could get back together they were the men to save next year’s Glastonbury.

And it seems they’ve taken me at my word.

It's not clear what he thinks they'll be saving Glastonbury from - not the risk of having Noel Gallagher moaning on about the headliners, certainly.
Blur will headline MICHAEL EAVIS’s festival in June before staging their own show in London’s Hyde Park in July.

Great news, I think you’ll agree.

Really? Why? This says 'less time for Graham Coxon to do interesting solo stuff' which isn't especially great. And it's only been a handful of years since they broke up in the first place. And it's not like it's Elastica. And Glastonbury and Hyde Park, where you're going to have to rely on opera glasses and the big TV to even tell if they're on the stage together? If Blur really needed to reunite, couldn't they have come up with something a little less obvious?

Could it get any worse?
What’s more Damon’s pal, actor PHIL DANIELS, will be reprising his role as narrator on the band’s 1994 hit Parklife at the huge gigs.

Oh. Indeed it can.

Meanwhile, Gordon's all excited about the prospect of a naked Hermione Granger:
Emma: I will strip for a film

HARRY Potter beauty EMMA WATSON is willing to bare all in a movie.

Is she, though? Actually, didn't we all read this in The Sunday Times in the first place? When she said she might do a nude scene, but only for Bernardo Bertolucci? And was incredibly cagey about the idea? And was, perhaps, less interesting than her determination to go to university even if it means putting her career on hold?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oasis get XFM into trouble

It's a bumper Christmas special sized Ofcom complaints bulletin this month, kicking off with TalkSport's £20,000 fine for James Whale endorsing Boris Johnson for London mayor. It would have been more but Ofcom were worried that a larger fine might make it difficult for TalkSport to make the kind of programmes its known for - which, you might think, would be reason alone to fine at least into six figures.

Then, XFM gets rapped after its Scottish service broadcast a live Oasis gig at 8pm:

On reviewing a recording of the material provided by GCap Media Ltd. (“GCap”), which controls and provides compliance for the station, Ofcom noted that the programme contained the word “cunt”, as well as several instances of the word “fucking”.

XFM apologised and has bollocked the producer responsible, but did try a half-hearted defence:
GCap asked Ofcom to note, however, that listeners to Xfm Scotland expected edgier content and that very few children would be listening to the station at that time.

Why would someone seeking "edgy" content be listening to an Oasis gig?

More trouble for Global over at soon-to-be-sister station Heart, which got carried away promoting Mama Mia! The Musical at the same time as taking sponsorship money from the filmmakers:
Heart said that it is a music and entertainment station primarily targeted at women in their thirties and that it aims to provide them with interesting and relevant lifestyle features. The broadcaster believed that the launch of ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’ was “a massive showbiz event which presented an outstanding opportunity to engage with the lives and lifestyles of [Heart’s] target audience.” It added that not only was it editorially justified for Heart to have provided extensive coverage of the event, but its audience would have expected it.

Good lord - if you were running a radio station during a commercial downturn, would you really want to portray your target market as a bunch of people whose week would be wrecked if they didn't keep getting reminded about Meryl Streep lipsynching to Super Trooper?

Ofcom asked them to tone it down in future:
In conclusion, Ofcom accepts that there was some editorial justification for references to ‘Mama Mia! The Movie’ in Heart’s programming during this period. However, in this case, the sheer volume, nature and tone of references resulted in the references appearing to be contrived and in some places, gratuitous. This resulted in the station giving undue prominence to the film and also promoting it as a product. Ofcom considered that the station output went beyond informing listeners about the recent release of a film that was likely to interest them. This resulted in breaches of the Code.

I'm not sure what the sanction will be - possibly every member of the audience has to be given a bottle of Lambrini or something.

6Music's Nemone came to grief during an interview with Doug Stanhope, who called two of Sarah Palin's children "retards":
Doug Stanhope: [Ms Palin] is a 44 year-old mother of five, two of which are retarded.

Nemone Metaxus: These are your, [laughs] obviously, your views…

Doug Stanhope: One’s got Down’s Syndrome and the other volunteered for Iraq . So that’s two retards out of five.... Oh nothing. They give me nothing, nothing but blank looks.

Nemone Metaxus: Doug this is your opinion, your opinion of what’s happening back home, so obviously, if something kicks off in America …

Doug Stanhope: For Pete’s sake, don’t stare at me like that. The woman has a baby with Down’s Syndrome; how can America get behind her when even God obviously hates her. [laughs]

Nemone Metaxus: I think we’ll leave that to you. That’s obviously what you think about I’m sure there are some….

Doug Stanhope: So that’s some of the stuff we’ve been dealing with.

The only way you could make this more unpleasant would be to suggest there was something 'edgy' about calling people with Down's "retards":
The broadcaster pointed out that BBC 6 Music is aimed at an adult audience and that Friday’s edition of Nemone in particular, regularly features guests with edgier, more adult orientated material.

What does that mean? It's okay to call people retards providing the audience is over 18? Surely the point is that this is offensive - in the thoughtless, cruel sense of the word - rather than a naughty swearword?

I think Ofcom might have issued its first ever sarcastic response in this case:
Ofcom acknowledges that BBC 6 Music attracts a predominantly adult audience and that regular listeners who are familiar with the irreverent style of its presenters and guests may not necessarily find the use of words such as “retard” offensive.

... "I mean" said Ofcom, "if people are tuning in for the George Lamb show it's not like they're going to be that sophisticated in their tastes, is it?"

Finally, perhaps in the interests of political balance, Guardian Media Group's 96.3 Rock Radio had its own jaw-dropping moment:
Donald Macleod, a Scottish music industry entrepreneur and newspaper columnist, presents a show on weekdays from 18:00 to 22:00 .

During the broadcast in question, the presenter said the following when introducing the song ‘Black Hole Sun’ by Soundgarden:

“Barack Obama’s favourite song. Your Mum’s got a big black hole, son” .

Don, in his offensive, insisted that he didn't mean this to sound racist and explained that he'd been "under some pressure within the studio". And he does seem pretty angry with himself that something so unpleasant slipped out.

Oddly, nobody seems concerned that it was also unpleasantly sexist, too. Perhaps that's something for another time.

Download: Experimental electro-industrial side projects are not just for Christmas

Alan Wilder may not be the cheeriest person in pop, but he has done his bit for the season to be jolly, by making an exclusive remix freely available for online download. It's from his side-project Recoil, it's the Shotgun mix (by David Husser) of the track Play, and you can have it lossless if that's what your bag is. All they ask in return is a thank you and your email address.

No more Rage - ever

Tom Morello has either dashed your hopes or reassured you - depending on if you have an interest in the machine continuing unmolested or not by confirming that there are no plans for new Rage Against The Machine records.

At least, not unless Palin sets her hat at 2012.

Darkness at 3AM: Supporting Lily

Not even attempting to disguise that they've run an item which is just something they've read in the Observer Music Magazine, the 3AM Girls offer sympathy to Lily Allen:

With loads in the bank, worldwide acclaim and a dynamite new album out soon, Lily Allen seems to have it all going for her.

Not so. She has confessed that behind the Smile is a little girl lost - worried about jibes that she is "fat and ugly".

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course.

And the sympathetic headline for this story?
Lil: I have had my fill

Gordon in the morning: Gordon in the movies

Why on earth would James Corden have given Gordon Smart a walk-on part in Lesbian Vampire Killers?

Oh, hang on: could it be the large splash about the film in today's paper with nothing other than "I have a bit part in this" as a hook on which to hang it?

With Smart concentrating on his big film career, it's left to Simon Rothstein to try and find something to say about Katy Perry dressed as a banana:

Still we’re sure most will go bananas for Katy’s look.

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Simon Hattenstone meets Noel Gallagher

In this weekend's Guardian Weekend magazine, Simon Hattenstone got the kind of interview out of Noel Gallagher that puts most other writers to shame. It's an interview in which Noel stops playing the character of Noel Gallagher, and starts to be quite honest:

What interests me is how he managed to keep going when he thought his best work was behind him. He says maybe he shouldn't have done. After Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger became national anthems, he struggled. Paul Weller gave him the best advice when he told him that one day the songs would stop coming, and he musn't force them. He ignored him. "Between Be Here Now and Don't Believe The Truth, which spans five years, I was putting out records for the sake of it. We shouldn't have bothered, I didn't have anything to write about."

The trouble is nobody told him he was writing rubbish songs. Liam would tell him everything was great because he'd be desperate to get back in the studio and record something new. "A lot of it I listen to and think only an egomaniac would convince himself that that was worth putting on. I say to my manager, 'You told me it was brilliant.' And he goes, 'Well, you don't tell the goose that laid the golden egg that his arse is blocked up, do you?' " If he'd been really brave, he says, he would have called it a day after Definitely Maybe. "Morning Glory is for the squares... It's up there with all those great crossover albums like Thriller, and the greatest-selling albums of all time like Phil Collins and Genesis."

The trouble is, of course, that this admission of having nothing to say does mean the interview still runs out of steam, because apart from hearing the same story - TonyblairBurnagebrownRollsRoycedrugsnotdoingdrugs - again, what does Noel have to offer? It's not like he's one of the great thinkers of our age:
"I've been up all night watching the [US] election. To sit and watch all those states swing to a leftwing politician is amazing enough, but the fact that he's a black man is just mind-blowing. Wow!"

Blimey - Noel found a TV showing Nader win the election. How did he manage that, exactly?

But then Noel has never been good at politics. Let's not forget his early embrace of Blair. Although it seems Noel is starting to forget that:
Did he have any qualms about endorsing Blair? "It wasn't so much an endorsement of him as, get these fuckers out."

Really? Not an endorsement?

"There are seven people in this room tonight who are giving a little bit of hope." He named all five members of the band, the president of their label, and Blair. "If you got anything about you, you go up and shake Tony Blair's hand. Power to the people!"

That's hardly 'lets vote tactically to defeat Major', is it? A rich Democrat suddenly turning into a left-winger, an endorsement suddenly a vote against the incumbent... what Meet The Press does Noel watch, anyway?

Malcolm McLaren returns to art

It's been quite a while since anyone's taken Malcolm McClaren seriously - he's tried TV (that frightening Oxford Street thing that Channel 4 underwrote); he's tried radio (that Radio 2 thing which the BBC funded) and at every turn people seem to fail to recognise that he's, you know, visionary or whatever.

So he's now turned up pitching video art in New York:

Mr. McLaren allowed that since he had attended several art schools (and been thrown out of most of them), he was coming full circle. He also copped to being an opportunist. “I’m trying to meet the zeitgeist,” he said, “and art is the hottest cultural form around.”

Well, apart from knitting little dogs out of spaghetti, perhaps.

It would be cruel to suggest that by "the hottest cultural form" Malcolm actually means that he reckons its the cultural form where you can get away with the lamest work and still be shrouded in applause.

If that was what he thought, he was wrong:
Instead they got amateur actors anticipating sex and looking morose after sex, men in Italian suits and women in underwear wearing masks, a woman with large breasts bobbing in a pool. Each snippet was repeated, in slow motion, accompanied by mash-ups of things like William S. Burroughs talking about drugs, incongruous spirituals, and the Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together.” The kinkiest aspect was the hotel guests who wandered into the adjoining bar in white hooded waffle robes and nothing else.

The video lasted 86 minutes. Some audience members lasted less.

Ms. Rabinowitz, who had produced the evening, admitted, “Some are boring ... they are all so different.”

There were those, naturally, who came up to Malcolm afterwards and told him how brilliant it all was. Sadly, that's probably all it's going to take to encourage him.

Reuters offer advice to managers

There's a sweet, old-fashioned advice column penned by Reuters that's just appeared online, offering advice to artists and management about how they can go about stopping internet leaks of new music.

Oddly, the most obvious one - since quite often the leak is a deliberate attempt to generate publicity, don't do it in the first place - is missed off the checklist.

Is it real, or is it Memorex

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, scientists at the University of Granada have come up with a way of telling the difference between "genuine" and "pirated" CDs:

Through the new technique proposed by the scientists of the Department of Optics of the UGR it is possible to identify if a CD has been recorded using a method or a device different to those used in industrial processes, which allows to differentiate between original CDs and copies. This technique uses the phenomenon of light diffraction on a CD surface to appreciate the differences between original and bootleg CDs, as they generate different types of diffraction models.

Of course, a cheaper way is to compare if you've bought the CD from a shop, or off that bloke Dave who works with Aileen down the council depot. But you don't, presumably, find the same level of research funding for that technique.

Finding the Black Box Recorder

This is pretty exciting news: Black Box Recorder are playing live in London, February 18th, at the Luminaire. "Please" requests the flier, "dress smartly". That's me buggered, then.

X Factor: Sunday Mirror reporting live from the fantasy dome

Nobody, surely, from the "band" themselves, through Louis Walsh, to the Sunday Mirror believes for a single second that Louis and Michael Jackson are going to meet "in Ireland" to discuss X Factor rootveg JLS supporting Jacko on a tour that doesn't really exist.

So why is the paper even bothering to run the tale? They might as well add in that some unicorns have had telephones installed inside their Atlantis hidey-hole to allow them to vote for JLS, or that Dannii Minogue's skin is the same one she was born with.

Louis told us: "It's fantastic news for JLS.

"I hear Michael had been looking around for some fresh young talent for a long time.

"If talks go well then going on tour with Michael would be an amazing opportunity for JLS."

Well, we've all heard that Michael enjoys scouting round for fresh young talent, but nothing was ever proven in court, Louis, so you'd better watch what you're saying.

Given that Jackson doesn't have a flat in Granadaland, the whole story might be in danger of collapsing, so a "source" is shuttled in to try and explain how Michael might even have been made of aware of the lets-call-them-a-band-shall-we?:
"Having a potential tour with Michael Jackson isn't going to take any pressure off - it has just motivated them to push on and win the competition.

"Michael has been an avid fan of the X Factor since the beginning.

"He loves musical themed reality shows and keeps up with it on the internet."

Really? But since ITV doesn't - indeed, mustn't - broadcast its stream internationally, you must be trying to claim he's looked them up on YouTube rather than hoping we'll believe he somehow watches the programme as its going out, right? You wouldn't want to stretch a palpably false story too thinly by conjuring up the image of Jacko switching on for Harry Hill's TV Burp and then staying put for the rest of the evening, would you? I mean, that would really be treating us with some contempt.

"When JLS came on, he was immediately drawn to them because he said they reminded him of a young Jackson 5.

"They would be a perfect warm up act for the UK dates of his tour.

Of course, it's true they'd be perfect - they're a made-up band who don't really exist, and the tour is exactly the same. Perfect match.

Given that there isn't a tour for the band to not support him on, the 'source' suddenly gets quite cagey. Hey, nobody is saying this going to happen, you know:
"Michael can, and has changed his mind about touring for the last couple of years.

"But if he follows through with his word this time, JLS could be catapulted into the spotlight all over the world."

What 'word', exactly? He hasn't promised anything to anybody on this occasion. There's more than enough reasons to attack Jackson - breaking a non-existent promise to take a bunch of game-show gumballs on a non-existent tour isn't one of them.

Woot-ton: Shoe snipes ahead of Madonna money

Is Dan Wootton already flagging over in Rab Singh's big chair at the News Of The World? The paper has a splashy, never-going-to-know-if-it's-true-or-not story about the supposed Madonna-Guy Ritchie settlement, but that's given to James Desborough to handle.

So what does this leave the supposed Celeb XS column free to concentrate on? Stuff like this:

ANOTHER week, another daft oufit for POSH as she teeters about on skyscraper heels.

She fancies herself as a fashion queen—but she was more fashion scream in these monster sunnies, fur coat, and breath-sucking dress in New York.

No wonder she was in black. Must be mourning the loss of her dress sense.

I know celebrity gossip - especially Wootton's style of writing overlong captions to dull pictures - is all pretty pointless and that there's little to be gained by trying to arrange points on a continuum of pointlessness, but even so: this has about as much insight as a child yelling "duck-duck" when shown a flashcard.

Damon and Naomi: returning to Europe

Next month - which is also, of course, next year - Damon and Naomi are planning a tour:

Thursday, January 15 - London, ENGLAND - Luminaire
Friday, January 16 - Lisbon, PORTUGAL - ZDB
Saturday, January 17 - Porto, PORTUGAL - Plano B
Sunday, January 18 - Vigo, SPAIN - Vademecum
Tuesday, January 20 - Gijon, SPAIN - Casino
Wednesday, January 21 - Huesca, SPAIN - Matadero
Thursday, January 22 - Tarragona, SPAIN - Loop
Friday, January 30 - Lyon, FRANCE - Sonic
Saturday, January 31 - Paris / St-Ouen, FRANCE - Mo'Fo Festival

Get set for Saint Etienne

Good news from Saint Etienne's MySpace:

new single is Method Of Modern Love, expertly sculpted by Richard X, and it's out on February 9th. It'll be super-limited, and the initial copies will be signed. By us. Or maybe by Mal Evans.

What's more, there's a Cola Boy remix. Honestly.

Then on Feb 16th, not before time, London Conversations will finally be on sale.

Bloody hell... a Cola Boy remix after all this time? Whoever would have thought?

(Although given that Cola Boy stuff was thought to cheesy to be a proper St Et release, wouldn't that create some sort of conundrum that threatens the space-time whatnot if a Saint Etienne release featured them?)

This week just gone

Ten most-popular 'free' things searched for this year (slightly tidied up and without any searches for illegal material) :

1. Free R Kelly sex video
2. Free kittens
3. Free Swedish 80s porn
4. Charlatans free
5. Freeuse4wm
6. "digital music" "free business model"
7. The Peth free download
8. Free satellite radio
9. Whatever Happened To Corey Haim download mp3 free
10. Acid Android free download

These were the scanty interesting releases:

North Sea Radio Orchestra - Birds

Shiny Toy Guns - Season Of Poison

Julie Fowlis - Cuilidh Box Set

Glasvegas - Glasvegas / A Snowflake Fell
- buy the album again, get a free Xmas set

The Mo-dettes - The Story So Far

The New Seekers - Beautiful People / Circles

Dead Can Dance - The Serpents Egg
a slew of re-releases from DCD this week