Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Daily Mail pre-records its outrage

Jonathan Ross has apologised privately; he's apologised publicly. Twice. He's served his time on the benches. Surely, now, the Mail is going to join the rest of the world and move on from the Andrew Sachs phone calls, right?

Is it buggery. Today, it's got the mother-of, daughter-of Kate Sachs to share her pain as Ross returns to the television:

'He's being his usual self,' declares Kate, 47, in her first interview since the scandal broke. 'He's showing that he's back and unchanged and can do as he likes. The apologetic introduction was fine, but he started sniping about the saga straight afterwards.

'Ross is reacting to the public hype rather than to my family. He's ridiculing people's reaction to the radio broadcast and the BBC for its censorship of him.

Kate Sachs was reacting to Ross' first Friday Night With... - so, she'd seen the programme, right?

Um. No:
But if reports of the pre-recording of the show on Thursday are anything to go by, the slim comfort brought by a seemingly genuine apology at the start of the programme was swiftly extinguished as Ross cracked a succession of jokes about what happened.

So the Mail is running a piece about a woman's response to what appears to be the paper telling her about what might have happened at the recording. Could they not at least have waited until Kate Sachs had seen the programme before making her all outraged about it?
At the end of his show, Ross told the audience they could 'forget the last three months has happened'. But the Sachs family will never be able to. The three months which Ross callously described as 'fun' on his internet blog have been nothing short of horrendous for this once-serene family.

If my family had been torn horribly asunder, I'm not sure I'd be happily chatting about it to the papers in order to allow the story to go on churning away, but we all react differently to grief, don't we?
In short, the incident has caused a cataclysmic rift, one which may never be healed. Georgina - who was exposed in a torrent of pornographic images as a member of burlesque dance group the Satanic Sluts during the furore - has not spoken to her horrified grandparents since.

To be fair, though, it's not entirely Ross and Brand's fault that Georgina was in a burlesque dance group, and while it might make for an awkward family dynamic, wasn't the problem not so much the original phone calls but the digging into the protagonists' backgrounds that produced the material that "horrified" the grandparents? Isn't that less Ross and Brand's fault than that of the papers?

After all, the Mail and its tabloid ilk could have still run the story about how terrible it all was without also running pictures of Georgina in her knickers. Couldn't they?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Promotional cycles

Drowned In Sound's Insider column explores how to get your band noticed in a never-ending cycle:

So, with The Brits coming in February (and now the NME Awards as well) to cheer up pretty rotten post-Christmas sales figures, an entire summer of seemingly BBC sponsored festivals taking up June to August to tie in with summer sales promotions and the last gaps in October / November now crammed with the Mercurys / Q / Mojo Awards (obviously grumpy old men buy more music in the darkening autumn months), the New Bands / New Year tie in is just part of a never ending cycle of promotion cooked up by the labels, the retailers and the media to try and remove any possible doubt from the process of selling music which also removes any excitement or scope for revelation.

Given the choice between allowing the public to discover new artists and ramming them down their throats replete with endless quotes from the Jo Whiley / Gennaro Castaldo (you know him, that HMV guy always quoted on any act winning any award as to how the album has gone up 14 billion per cent ‘in store’) axis of evil and actually allowing the fools that make up the potential ‘sales base’ (that’s you by the way) come to their own conclusion, for any marketing department there’s only one winner. It ain’t you, just in case you were wondering

Unintended consequences

Nice piece on Hypebot pointing out that Sony BMG's Google ads campaign has been turning up on isoHunt, and thus helping underwrite the bittorrent site.

It's only a financial version of what a decade of poor business decisions have been doing: the music industry helping promote an alternative they can't control.

For David Van Day, fame bleeds

Poor old David Van Day - even when people give him the adulation he yearns for, it hurts: someone jumped on him so enthusiastically, his head got ripped off its shoulders. Sorry, that should be "ripped open":

Singer David Van Day was left with blood pouring from his head after being jumped on by a female fan.

The Dollar and Bucks Fizz front man, from Brighton, fell into an aeroplane after the woman threw herself at him while he was filming a new makeover series at an airfield in Essex.

The blow opened a gash in the 52-year-old's head.

It's hard to believe that Van Day is making a makeover programme. Surely, David - apart from your unsightly gash - you're perfect already?

UPDATE: I've only just processed the slightly-alarmist headline the Argus slapped on the story:
Brighton celebrity injured in airfield accident

- which surely throws up images of the R101 rather than someone falling over under the weight of a fan?

James Taylor covers the taxi fare

Earlier this week, Chris Elliott's excellent traveller-consumer blog featured a story about a woman who was forced to give up her iPod to a New York taxi driver when his credit card machine failed.

There's a happy ending, though: James Taylor has given the victim a brand new iPod, ready-filled with his back catalogue.

It's a lovely gesture. Let's not spoilt the moment by pointing out that, actually, he's not allowed to do that under the RIAA laws and rules, and, technically, he should be taken to court.

Gordon in the morning: Seasick and buried

If only I had a range of made-up prizes to share out, like Gordon's 'Shagger Of The Year' prize, I'd be reaching into my sack to give Bizarre one today, for giving an unlikely lead story to Seasick Steve. It's unexpected, and it's quite a nice piece:

The former hobo told me: “I didn’t even know what the Brits was. My record label had to explain it to me. I thought they were joking."

That's a wonderful quote. They can add it to the press releases, right after someone from the BPI tries to claim that the Brits are one of the most impressive global events of the year.

Nice work, everybody. And putting a bloke with a beard and a check shirt at the heart of your double-page spread is surprising and uplifting.

What a pity, though, that the online edition of Bizarre has the story buried away at the bottom of the page, making vital space for stories about Caprice in her pants and Lady GaGa in her pants.

There is some breaking news, though: Universal have sent an executive out to have a word with Amy Winehouse. Sorry, I say "executive" - according to Richard White, he's actually a "bigwig":
AMY WINEHOUSE’s record label yesterday flew a bigwig to her holiday resort for a heated showdown.

Universal’s commercial director Brian Rose was dispatched to St Lucia to “drive some common sense” into the singer.

A heated showdown, eh? Is that one that you pop into a microwave for thirty seconds before using it?

For those who haven't been keeping up, there's a recap of Amy's behaviour:
The 25-year-old has been snapped crawling under tables begging for alcohol from other guests after staff at the swish Caribbean resort refused to serve her.

Guests also said the Rehab star has been blowing as much as £8,000 on food and drink for people she barely knows.

Actually, if she's been taking drinks off people, and buying drinks for people, doesn't that make her more or less square with the other guests?

So, Universal is putting its foot down, is it?
Universal last night confirmed Mr Rose had flown to St Lucia but insisted the meeting was to discuss future projects.

Well, yes - but that could take the form 'when are you going to stop crawling under tables and start making us some more money', couldn't it?

I think we know how this story ends, though, don't we?:
CHERYL COLE was looking as good as ever at London’s Zuma restaurant, where she was discussing plans with American music execs to crack the US.

We have that she was doing this on good authority because, erm, of some eavesdropping:
A fellow diner at the Japanese hotspot said: “They told her she’s in big demand.”

... before explaining that he'd dropped a bread roll on the floor, and that was the only reason he was crawling around under the table listening, you understand.

Cheryl Cole is in big demand in America, is she? Can we have some calibration for this - is it more or less than the demand for a revival of Melrose Place, for example?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The inauguration borrowed a trick from the Beijing Olympics

Ah, what could be better than to gather a million or so people in one place to listen to tapes? Okay, admittedly, the music at the inauguration wasn't the main focus, but it's still a little cheesy that Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Gabriella Montero and Anthony McGill were sort-of miming.

Not quite miming, as they played along with the tape, but their instruments weren't amplified. Which makes the official explanation - fears that the cold weather would damage the instruments - seem a little confusing.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman said "it would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way".

"This occasion's got to be perfect. You can't have any slip-ups," he told the New York Times.

Ah, yes. Perfect. Except in the actually playing sense of the word, then.

As it turns out, they might have been better off letting the musicians play live and pre-recording the words of the oath of office.

Kanye West won't do porn. Not bisexual porn, anyway.

Whoever hacked into Kanye West's accounts did a nice job, planting a public seed that West was, well, willing to plant a public seed:

“I know that people will find this as another thing to hate on, but f--- it. I’m open to doing porn. Hell, I’ll even do bisexual scenes - myself, another man, and a woman, or just me and two women. I know people will find that as some weird sh--, but I am who I am.”

Of course, there wasn't a word of truth in it. Well, probably. The real Kanye popped up - sorry, ill-advised choice of phrase - and put everyone straight:
"Yoooo, why won't you let me be great!!!" West wrote. "I had the two greatest days of my life, and when I get back from the Louie [sic] show, I read some sh-- claiming I said I'm down to do porn and some bisexual porn!!!! I can't believe the AVN [Adult Video News] would post [that story]."

He seems especially upset that he was supposedly going to do bisexual porn, doesn't he?

Assuming, of course, that this message was the real Kanye. There are a lot of impersonators - haters, if you will; impersonhaters, presumably - pretending to be Kanye:
"First people believed the Twitter/ Stephen Colbert thing, Rolling Stone even printed it!!!!" he said. "Now somebody has been hacking into my MySpace and somebody's actually hacked into my personal GMail account and has been e-mailing people from it. ... Hey, world, I no longer have GMail! I found out I had twelve unauthorized Skype accounts under my name!!! This [is] all in the past four days. Welcome to Kanye West World!"

Surely, though, someone as supposedly cool as Kanye wouldn't start a message with something so cringe-inducing as "why won't you let me be great", or sprinkle his public utterances with so many exclamation marks he makes himself read like a twelve year-old. The only logical explanation is that there is no real Kanye West any more.

Abba don't fight - Abba

The perpetual myth that Abba - especially the women - fought like a stoats in a stovepipe hat refuses to die; Agnetha and Anni-Frid have had another go at killing it off:

"A lot has been written about how Agnetha and I fought and quarreled with each other. There is absolutely no truth in that," Lyngstad was quoted as saying by tabloid Aftonbladet. "Of course we competed, but to good effect."
"No, we didn't fight. But we have to live [with] a whole lot of such misinterpretations," Faltskog said.

The pair were accepting a lifetime achievement award; it's probably they used the prize as some sort of weapon to hit each other with as soon as nobody was looking.

My firth, my larth, my everythink

Not that it's open season on the NME right now, but our delight at hearing that the former leader of Throwing Muses is playing a gig in Lancaster Library on May 23rd was slightly tempered by the surprising change in her name:

Kristin Herth?

But let's not be too hasty to rush to judgement, eh? We all miskey from time to time. It's not like the NME doesn't know the name of one of the biggest alternative musicians of the last two decades, is it?


NME admits Ronson-Winehouse story was toss - eventually

Kudos to the NME for admitting the story it ran unquestioningly about "prominent" British Jews being on a "terrorist hit list" was a pile of nothing, while The Sun, from whom they originally picked up the story, has quietly deleted it.

There is one hanging puzzle, though: it's not just why the NME simply copied a story when a more enquiring mind might have at least poked a curious finger into the Sun's claims. Even without knowing the strange, trolly background of The Sun's terrorist "expert" and the dubious nature of the original "threat" (taken to pieces deftly by Bloggerheads) a few seconds poking about online showed that there wasn't any serious threat at all.

But the really strange thing is why it's taken two weeks for the NME to get round to correcting its original story.

How goes Radio One's surgery?

A while back, Radio One took the surprising step of passing control of its Surgery 'sort your life out' show to Kelly Osbourne. She, they decided, would be the perfect person to offer a steady hand to young people struggling with life.

How's that going then? We could tune in this week and find out - although it turns out Aled "from the Chris Moyles show" is presenting this week. And, presumably, for the foreseeable future as Kelly's gone into rehab "to sort out some personal issues". Not, perhaps, the safest pair of hands after all then?

Bill Callahan will be an eagle

Good news from Drag City (via [You Aint No Picasso]): Bill Callahan's I Wish I Could Soar Like An Eagle has got plans for an April release. And we're almost already done with January, so that's not too long to wait.

Mick quits Seeds

Mick Harvey has finally fled the pod, as he leaves the Bad Seeds after quarter of a century:

"For a variety of personal and professional reasons I have chosen to discontinue my ongoing involvement with Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds.

"After 25 years I feel I am leaving the band as it experiences one of its many peaks; in very healthy condition, and with fantastic prospects for the future.

"I'm confident Nick will continue to be a creative force and that this is the right time to pass on my artistic and managerial role to what has become a tremendous group of people who can support him in his endeavours both musically and organizationally.

"It was a fantastic experience to finish my touring days in the band with the recent shows in Australia and the unique events that took place in conjunction with All Tomorrow's Parties, especially Mt. Buller, which was one of the many highlights of my involvement with the band throughout the years.

"I shall continue working on the Bad Seeds back catalogue reissues project over the coming year and look forward to the new opportunities I shall be able to accommodate as a result of my changed circumstances."

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - The terror threat of live music

On The Guardian's Comment Is Free, Sunny Hundal explains why some types of live music are being put under the cosh:

I was, until recently, a regular at a monthly club night before the police suddenly started strictly enforcing ID checks. This wasn't merely to ensure I was above the required 18 years of age. Not only was everyone required to provide visual identification, but they also had to be logged in a computer database – otherwise none of us could go in. Everyone's driving licences were scanned through a machine and recorded on a computer, with no indication of how long the police would store the information for.

When I objected, the (white) club promoter was quite frank with me. He said the police had said they were "concerned" that the venue played "black and Asian music" and hence wanted added security. Any sort of trouble is extremely rare at this night. Yet their reasoning was that if any fight broke out, they could track everyone at the event if necessary.

Form 696 explicitly singles out musical styles such as R&B, bashment, garage or styles including MCs/DJs as examples of genres that have to be stated if put on. It also required event producers to state the likely racial profile of people attending. When accusations of racial profiling were inevitably raised by the music industry, the Met changed the wording to ask who it was targeted at.

Darkness at 3AM: Answerable questions

A picture of Agyness Deyn in a denim jacket prompts the 3AM Girls to ask:

Have you ever seen anything as 80s as this?

Erm, yes: Police beating up miners at Orgreave. Ronald Reagan yelling "honey, I forgot to duck". Morten Harket wearing those strappy leather things. Madonna releasing flawless pop. Number One magazine. Trailers for Connie with Stephanie Beacham on TVS. The whole of the year 1987.

Why do you ask?

Gordon in the morning: Confusing victory with bungling

Back when Alex James was running a record label with Joe Strummer and Damien Hirst, he had a look at Coldplay, and decided not to sign them. That makes sense. Not to Gordon, though, who confuses this with an error:

THERE are dozens of ex-music bosses around the country drowning their sorrows in the boozer over how they “almost” signed a huge band.
Now ALEX JAMES from BLUR has revealed he is in the bungling music bigwig’s club for failing to sign COLDPLAY when he had a record label for a short time in the late Nineties.
If he had signed Coldplay, Alex would now be basking in the glory of being a member of one of the country’s best Britpop bands AND finding their replacement.

You can see the problem here - Gordon has seen that Blur sold lots of records, and Coldplay sell lots of records, and so they're pretty much the same sort of thing.

A more appropriate way of looking at it would be that Alex James came dangerously close to churning out soulless-but-pleasant records, but luckily avoided it.

He saw Coldplay, he saw nothing special. I don't see any bungling.

By the way: Yes, he did run a label with Hirst and Strummer - and, of course, Keith Allen. Keith was keen for the label, Turtleneck, to sign Lily. They didn't do that, either, in the end. Let's hope Gordon doesn't find out about that one, eh?

Meanwhile, Gordon has a chat with Lady GaGa:
LADY GAGA rang Bizarre yesterday to stake her claim as the figurehead for a new generation of Girl Power.

Really? Lady GaGa is comparing herself to the Spice Girls, is she?
She said: “When JOHN LENNON was talking about YOKO ONO he used to say that women possessed a wisdom that no man could have.
“[Madonna] not a bad comparison but I want to be respected as an artist in my own right.

“BOWIE, PRINCE and GRACE JONES were all famous for their style and fashion, so I think it’s a tradition pop stars should maintain.”

The one act she clearly isn't comparing herself to is The Spice Girls.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

MIDEM 2009: Empty places

Yesterday I mentioned Gerd Leonhard's guesstimate that the attendance at MIDEM was down by anything up to 20%; Bruce Houghton over on Hypebot has the official figures:

In the end, the Cannes mega-conference appears to have dodged the bullet with figures released by organizer Reed Midem showing a 12% drop in attendance to 8000 from 9100 in 2008.

Hypebot suggests these are pretty good figures in the circumstances, and points out that all the key players were there. Although it makes you wonder who the one in ten who didn't show up were, then.

Chris Moyles: he's a controversialist

Perhaps the continued presence of Chris Moyles at breakfast on Radio One is as some sort of poison pill to discourage anyone from trying to take over the network as a commercial offering.

After all, who would want to deal with the disciplinary problems unless they had to?

The funny thing is, for all the fuss over his "Auschwitz joke", it wasn't actually that offensive - it wasn't a joke about Auschwitz, it was more a poke at celebrities on Who Do You Think You Are trying to add gravitas to their image through the suffering of their forebears.

The Will Young "gag", on the other hand, was dodgy:

He also joked about Will, celebrating the singer's birthday by singing to the tune of his song Evergreen in a camp voice. He warbled: "It's my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight."

Ha ha, gay men are funny.

One observation: while the UK press has focused on the Auschwitz joke, what actually upset the public?
A spokeswoman for the BBC said no complaints had been received about the Auschwitz joke but there had been five complaints about the gag cracked at pop star Will's expense.

Perhaps Moyles' audience is more sophisticated than writers for the Daily Telegraph.

Lily Allen and gay friends

The Telegraph has sucked the guts out of the Lily Allen Gay Times interview from which Gordon sourced the twins story for Bizarre. As with most straight acts who get a GT slot, Allen is quick to clumsily stress how gay-friendly she is:

"I just feel you have no right to hate anyone because of how they're born.

"I think if you're a human being with a heart in your chest, you're the same as everyone else.

"I've grown up around gay people, black people, adulterers, drug addicts, and I don't treat anyone differently."

Did she just suggest that being gay or black is no different to cheating on your wife or having a crack problem?

One gay man she does treat differently is Perez Hilton:
"I find him quite annoying," she said, adding: "As a gay man you should be championing young girls that are going out there and doing their own thing and not slamming them for owning their sexuality ..."

Surely, Lily, that Hilton should not be an arse ought to have nothing to do with his sexuality?

The Telegraph also crams in bits from Allen's interview with chum George Lamb on 6Music and a chat she had on Absolute, which was called Virgin when people listened to it. Boy, Allen is going round giving memorable quotes all over the place - you'd have to be pretty duff to, say, get a front page feature with Allen and not pick up some free press coverage, right?

Oh... sorry, NME, didn't see you there.

Gordon in the morning: We missed the signs

Under a grim-faced David Bailey portrait (commissioned by Q, apparently), Take That share their "guilt" over Robbie Williams as part of the narrative that's going to lead up to an unwanted reunion:

GARY BARLOW has admitted there was “a series of events we should have spotted” as Robbie went off the rails before quitting the band in 1995.

He added: “That’s my one regret. I missed the signs. I think we all did.”

Well, they were fairly subtle signs, weren't they Gary?
Gary added: “Rob would go to Dublin or somewhere and get off his head. Then he’d come home and say: ‘I haven’t slept for two days.’

“He didn’t want to go home and face his mum so he’d come to me first.

Yes, disappearing off for a two-day bender and being unable to face your family - you're not a professional psychologist, Gary - how could anyone think that might be a sign anything was wrong?

Mark, at least, seems to be having trouble taking this groundwork for the group hug entirely seriously:
MARK OWEN chipped in: “Sometimes we’d joke and say we wanted to be in OASIS. But he actually did want to be in Oasis. I feel a bit guilty now that I wasn’t mature enough to hear his cries.”

This man was saying he wanted to work for Noel Gallagher. How could we not know he was in pain?

Meanwhile, professional breast-shower and occasional failed pop star Jordan is sharing her views on criminal justice:
“The way I see it is an eye for an eye.

“So if someone rapes a girl he should be bent over and the same thing done to him. I’m sorry that’s just the way I feel. I’m very strict.”

“If someone is done for drink-driving they should have their licence taken away for life.

“And if someone steals they should have to wear a dye on their skin, like a tattoo on their ear or somewhere it can be seen – like across their face! That would stop people stealing.”

Boris Johnson is probably trying to sign her up for a knife crime initiative right now.

Sadly, Jordan doesn't reveal if, in her world, there would be one State rapist handing out justice through forced anal penetration, or if it would fall to someone from Group4 to do it. Perhaps her ideas aren't entirely thought through. Which, come to think of it, might explain why they're so offensively stupid.

Still, it's nice to see Jordan marching in step with some of the more extremist religious. Apart from the porn.

Oh - and what's this?
Lily's lesbian romp with twins

A headline which can mean only one thing. Lily Allen has a new record out.
: “I did once snog identical twins in San Diego.

“I was on the sofa and I had them both. I was dancing and shoving my arse on one of them.

“That’s the only time, but I have lesbian dreams a lot.”

Rubbing your arse on a twin isn't a "lesbian romp". It barely qualifies as dirty dancing, Lily.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ms Dynamite returns

Whatever happened to Ms Dynamite? With her sort-of-alright-sounding low-demand pop with some vaguely-considered anti-crime stance, did she turn into Lily Allen?

Funnily enough, her return has been heralded by Lily Allen, who debuted a comeback track. She's got a new sound. Well, I say new, it's actually just a less over-produced version of the old sound, which suggests we should strap ourselves in for "I'm much more happy now I'm taking control of my music" style interviews. Which will at least stop people asking about her sudden disappearance back in 2006.

Venuewatch: Oxford Regal remains sealed

Odd goings-on in Oxford, where the only-just-expensively-refurbished Regal Venue has remained closed after its New Year holiday. (Actually, isn't a venue which could hold a New Year's Event not holding one a bit odd in its own right?)

Last week, partner Charlie McCreedy told the Oxford Mail it was due to a change in shareholders and he hoped it would reopen last Friday.

But the club remained shut, with planned weekend events cancelled at short notice, and neither Mr McCreedy nor manager Michael Keel were available for comment.

The team running the Regal had previously been in charge at the much-missed Zodiac; lets hope that this is a glitch rather than the end.

[Thanks to James W for the story]

MIDEM 2009 off by as much as a fifth

Having spent much of the weekend being patronised by the likes of Feargal Sharkey, it's not surprising that Gerd Leonhard spent much of his time wandering round Cannes laughing at the ashes of a once-great business:

Here in Cannes, France, at the annual MIDEM music industry conference, we have once again debated and contemplated (and wined and dined and smoked) for the last 5 days. We have noticed some 15-20% less attendance, empty restaurants and much-less-than-usual action in the exhibition halls - the music industry as we knew it is OVER. And good riddance. The organizers tried hard (and did well!) but you have to wonder: what are you (the industry) waiting for? Is it not time to VOTE FOR SERIOUS CHANGE in the music industry, and make that switch to an open, collaborative and mutually fruitful ecosystem? Like... now?

If the music industry will no longer send its top level staff for some winter sun on a French jolly, they might well be asking themselves what's the point of going on?

"An illegal download is not a lost sale"

It's been obvious since the days of Napster, but at last a judge has said in judgement a self-evident truth - that just because someone downloads a song, it doesn't follow that they would have bought it otherwise:

[Judge James P.] Jones wrote in his opinion that equating each download with a lost sale is a faulty assumption. "Those who download movies and music for free would not necessarily purchase those movies and music at the full purchase price," Jones wrote. "[A]lthough it is true that someone who copies a digital version of a sound recording has little incentive to purchase the recording through legitimate means, it does not necessarily follow that the downloader would have made a legitimate purchase if the recording had not been available for free."

Soon, the music industry will start to get behavioural reports from people who are hooked in to 'all-you-can-eat' packages which will almost certainly back this point of view: if people who download via Comes With Music are acquiring more tracks legally than they had been previously, for example, the case will be clear that being offered a free track might make you collect something you wouldn't have ever paid for.

Eminem nearing launch

Eminem's new album is just "weeks" away from completion, it seems. But the team have come up with a smart way to try and guard against the thing leaking onto the internet - they're using 50 Cent:

I will be all over the record, you kidding me? You think I won't take advantage of the opportunity for everybody to look at me and listen to me. Yes I will!

Security experts explain that to the average user, the temptation to download something new from Eminem will be tempered by the fear that their computer will end up infected by another record covered with 50 Cent honking all over it, meaning that they will resist risking sourcing it off a torrent.

Bono takes the sleeve

Perhaps understandably, Taylor Deupree is a bit annoyed that U2's No Line On The Horizon album sleeve looks a bit (i.e. exactly, except with a superimposed equals sign) like one of his records:

for those who don’t know what i’m ranting about, U2’s forthcoming album “no line on the horizon” is nearly an exact rip-off of mine and richard chartier’s “specification.fifteen” which came out a couple of years ago. both covers feature a photograph by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. “specification.fifteen” was created directly in conjunction with Sugimoto and his retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. so.. before you let people run off about how “cool” the new U2 cover is.. show them ours first…

Of course, he's now been besieged by U2 fans who seem desperate to somehow prove that U2 haven't produced an album sleeve using an idea that had not only occurred to someone else, but had even been put into action. Deupree has grown tired of pointing out he wasn't suggesting anyone had breached copyright, and so sealed his blog post to new comments.

Gordon in the morning: No That? Can't be right

Gordon Smart is not a happy man this morning, and it's the Brit nominations which have upset him.

Specifically, the "snub" handed out to Take That. And he might have a point - it's not a snub, really, because they're in the running for Best British Band - but it seems, at first glance, to be rather odd. Gordon fumes:

I’m baffled.

The Circus sold a million copies faster than any other album so far this millennium.

It deserves recognition way ahead of THE TING TINGS, who are up for Best Album.

Of course, Gordon will have carefully checked the cut-off date for inclusion in the Best Album category before fuming like this, won't he? After all, in previous years, to qualify for Best Album for any particular year has had a cut-off date of the end of November, and Circus was released on December 1st. But Gordon wouldn't be making himself look stupid by fuming about a snub to an album because it wasn't nominated for an award it didn't qualify for, would he?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Brits 2009: The nominees

It says a lot about the BPI and the Brits organisers that they're foolish enough to hold their nominations bash right at the same time as the inauguration. Even had Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd made it through to the cheese board, it was always going to be like trying to raise interest in a hand-held fan during a tornado.

Perhaps, though, the idea was to sneak out the shortlists at a time when it would do least shame to Britain's reputation:

Best British male
Ian Brown
James Morrison
Paul Weller
Will Young

Best British female
Beth Rowley

Best British group
Girls Aloud
Take That

Best British live act
Iron Maiden
Scouting For Girls
The Verve

Best British single
Adele - Chasing Pavements
Alexandra Burke - Hallelujah
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Dizzee Rascal/Calvin Harris/Chrome - Dance Wiv Me
Duffy - Mercy
Estelle Ft Kanye West - American Boy
Girls Aloud - The Promise
Leona Lewis - Better in Time
Scouting for Girls - Heartbeat
X Factor Finalists - Hero

Best British Album
Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
Duffy - Rockferry
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Radiohead - In Rainbows
The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

Best British breakthrough act
Last Shadow Puppets
Scouting For Girls
The Ting Tings

Best international album
AC/DC - Black Ice
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
Killers - Day & Age
Kings of Leon - Only By The Night
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

Best international male
Neil Diamond
Kanye West
Seasick Steve

Best international female
Gabriella Cilmi
Katy Perry

Best international group
Fleet Foxes
Kings of Leon

Critics' Choice: Florence and the Machine

Outstanding Contribution To Music: Pet Shop Boys

The slim interest here is in the international sections - the surprise of Seasick Steve making a shortlist, and the inclusion of MGMT and Fleet Foxes alongside old, clumping stadium acts for best international group. It might, perhaps, have been more exciting had the 'best international band' and 'best international album' lists not been identical, mind.

It's certainly more interesting than the UK album choices. I love the Ting Tings album, but it's hardly a great, flawless work. Elbow and Radiohead both feel like they're albums that are as old as Jimmy Saville - but you suspect that Elbow will pick up the prize in the end.

The constant applause for Duffy sounds more and more like a music industry trying to convince itself that it the 'y' isn't misplaced in her name. But - in a reverse of the old days, when Annie Lennox was always needed to top up the Best British Female category regardless of if she'd even been seen outdoors during the previous twelve months, the Best British Male listing this year seems like it's desperately in need of a rest. Ian Brown? James Morrison? Weller? Will Young? If that really was the best British male solo talent we could muster, you'd put a bet on Eggon Quim from the X Factor making the list next year. Actually, he probably will be there, won't he?

Coldplay. Coldplay are the stick with which you can calibrate the judges. Four nominations for Coldplay. The ears are cloth, but the fingers can still weigh the earning power.

Doherty's not bad, it's the people around him

You might have assumed that as an adult with a good education behind him, Pete Doherty should at least take responsibility for his own actions.

Apparently not:

"[Pete Doherty] is a scumbag magnet."

It's the people who hang around Doherty who are to blame, explains Graham Coxon, who is, erm, hanging around with him playing on the next record.

Capital of Culture download: Cooking up support

So, how did Liverpool win its place in the sun as Phil Redmond's Capital Of Culture? It turns out with a bit of sleight of hand:

In an interview with radio station City Talk, Sir Bob [Scott, who led Liverpool's bid] said: “When we offered them (the judges) a trip to Liverpool, we said ‘you can do all kinds of things. You can go to a play, movie, go on a pub crawl’”. Three of them said ‘we would like to go on a pub crawl’.

“We worked out who they were and we made bloody sure who the people in the pub were when they arrived.

“And that made quite an impact.”

Well, there's nothing too wrong with stage-managing events like this. I guess it's not like a trial.

And what became of it at last? I couldn't help noticing during one of the reports on the legacy of 2008 for Liverpool the council spokesperson started with "the Liverpool One development" - which is a big shopping centre which was already being built before the bid went in. A major boost to the cultural life of the city, if you count a branch of Debenhams as a citadel of culture.

Usher, you campaigned with Obama - you must have some crazy tales, right?

Or... perhaps not:

"The first time we met, we actually were in transit in his car... kind of rolling. And, I'm starving, 'cause I hadn't really ate.

"We had been campaigning all day, all over the place, and I kind of look around and I'm like, 'Oooh, let me eat this candy bar or whatever.

"And we both look at it, and I'm like, 'You're not gonna eat that, are you?' and he's like, 'You're not gonna eat it, are you?' I'm like, 'Well, I'm gonna eat it if you don't.'

So I grab and I tear it open - I took the man's meal."

That tapping sound? Oh, that's the hand of history on Usher's shoulder, that is.

PJ and John off on tour

Not only have PJ Harvey and John Parish got a new album out - A Woman A Man Walked By, on March 31st - but they're heading off round Europe, too:

04-15 Brighton, England - Corn Exchange
04-16 Oxford, England - Regal
04-18 Bristol, England - Anson Rooms
04-20 London, England - Shepherds Bush Empire
04-22 Birmingham, England - Town Hall
04-24 Manchester, England - Ritz
04-26 Edinburgh, Scotland - Queens Hall
05-02 Porto, Portugal - Casa Da Musica
05-04 Milan, Italy - Auditorium
05-06 Stuttgart, Germany - Theaterhaus
05-07 Berlin, Germany - Passionskirche
05-09 Stockholm, Sweden - Nalen
05-10 Oslo, Norway - Rockefeller
05-11 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
05-13 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
05-14 Brussels, Belgium - Ancienne Belgique
05-17 Paris, France - Bataclan

Jay Z believes he can fly

While, obviously, it's an exciting and historic day, are MTV really dropping their critical faculties so low when they get excited about Jay-Z's line in Young Jeezy's My President?

he borrowed heartily from a message about Barack Obama that had been circulating on e-mail chains for some time. Jay, of course, managed to make the saying all his own.

"Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk/ Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run/ Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly," he raps on the track, which he debuted Sunday at Love nightclub in Washington, D.C. "So I'mma spread my wings/ You could meet me in the sky."

Jay Z then "explains" these lyrics to MTV. Now, they do acknowledge that it's just a couple of words tacked on to an email forward, but don't seem to let that stop their fawning over Mr. Z for being ever so clever.

"It's lucky" chuckles Jay-Z, "as the original draft I wrote I'd left in the 'this email is intended for the named recipient only/ if you have received in error please destroy and/ notify the sender' piece, and that just wasn't scanning properly."

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Hari and Aino

All That Ever Mattered spends some time with Hari And Aino:

Your name sounds a bit Japanese, your album was released on a Peruvian label, your singles on an American label, and you wrote a song about Finland. I guess you're quite internationally oriented! But what can you tell us about home? Do you like living in Stockholm? Do you feel part of some sort of pop community there?

Kristoffer: I guess we know a lot of people who consider themselves to be a part of the Indie scene in Stockholm. But Hari and Aino has never really been apart of that group of 'indie' people in Sweden where everybody seems to know everybody. And there is no real desire to belong to that group either. There´s probably more people outside Sweden who listen to our music and that´s fine. Why care about what goes on in small frozen Nordic country when there is a whole world out there?

MIDEM 2009: If you can remember the internet, you hadn't logged on

Donovan has told MIDEM that the internet is the new 1960s. He has attempted to explain what he might mean:

"The dream of the '60s, of me and John Lennon and the others, was: How do we speak to everybody on the planet at the same time?

"The first answer was via satellite, but that didn't connect to everyone. Then John would say, 'How about telepathy?'

"Then we forgot about it until now we realize that the Internet fulfills that dream of communicating with everyone. I'm not afraid of the Internet because it's that the dream we had. The Internet is the new '60s as far as I'm concerned."

The use of internet rather than telepathy makes it easier, but the RIAA have already employed a lobbyist to encourage Congress to shape laws covering intellectual property rights in case people start thinking the new Kid Rock single at each other.

Amy Whinnyhorse: That explains everything

Crawling round a bar on her hands and knees? She wasn't drunk and out of control, explains Mitch Winehouse, she was pretending to be a horse:

Mitch Winehouse, who has since joined his daughter on the Caribbean island, said the pictures were misinterpreted. "They were taken before I arrived here, but she says she was just having fun, pretending to be a horse," he said.

Oh, that's alright then. It might have looked like she had temporarily mislaid her reality pot-holders, so it's reassuring to know she was merely doing an impersonation of an equine mammal. In a crowded bar.

Robbie Williams is not yet working with 50 Cent

You can imagine the disappointment on 50 Cent's little face when his plans to work work with Robbie Williams were frustrated by Williams going on holiday:

"We actually attempted to do it during the Curtis album and I reached out to him and we talked about recording in Los Angeles and then the next time I spoke to him he was on his way to rehab so that didn't happen then.

“Hopefully on one of my projects in the future we will have a chance to work with each other.”

Because Fiddy absolutely loved him in Mrs Doubtfire.

Gordon in the morning: But... but... you're meant to be pretty

Yesterday, Gordon Smart ran one of the leaked year-old pictures from the aborted Hard Candy sessions, and oozed all over it:

I wonder if Lady G will look as good when she hits 50.

Today, he runs one of the leaked pictures from the aborted Hard Candy sessions, and is disgusted:
WHEN I set eyes on this picture of MADONNA yesterday I felt for the first time that I had seen enough of her posing in her undercrackers.

It is the latest photo released to promote Madge’s album Hard Candy, but it’s how I’d promote Saga holidays for the over-50s.

The difference, of course, is that today's picture isn't retouched. Oh, and none of these pictures have been "released to promote" anything, have they, Gordon? They've been leaked. Which is why the picture you're running is un-retouched.
The boys’ observations were a bit more simple... that she looks like the terrifying Zelda from TV’s Terrahawks.

Let's hope, erm, Lady Gaga looks as good when... sorry, what did you say yesterday, Gordon?

Elsewhere, Gordon runs some pointless long-lens shots of Pink in a bikini, concluding somewhat oddly:
Her display is another reason why I’m glad I never had a sister.

Why? Because you'd be worried some creepy pervert would take sneaky pictures of her arse and then sell them to his creepy mates?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kelly Osbourne "slapped" Showbiz Zoe

In a bid to defend her boyfriend, Kelly Osbourne allegedly slapped the Sunday Mirror's Showbiz With Zoe's column Zoe With The Showbiz. Osbourne, apparently, objected to Zoe's claims that Luke Worrall was so thick he didn't know what an earthquake was. (Of course he does: it's when the ground does a burp, isn't it?)

For her troubles, Osbourne has wound up being arrested - albeit six months after the "attack".

The Source cans the sauce

The economy? Is there even still an economy in America? Isn't that why everyone is huddling together for warmth in the parks by the Smithsonian?

With the downturn now so bad the US Treasury is thinking of issuing Pogs instead of Dollars, it's perhaps counter-intuitive for The Source to be turning away adverts. But it is, taking a gamble that refusing "booty ads" (porn, escort services, that sort of thing) might make the magazine a bit more mainstream and tempt a higher quality of advertisers. Sure, it's a profit-driven principle, but at least it's still principled.

Clap Your Hands, Say goodbye?

Brooklyn Vegan has heard a rumour that the current Clap Your Hands Say Yeah dates might be the last before a rest. Or even a permanent rest:

The rumor is that they've nixed plans to go back into the studio, and that they have no further dates scheduled. I'm not saying I'm 100% positive this is the last we'll see of them, but it seems likely the show will be the last chance to see them for a very long time, if not ever.

It is just a rumour, then. But BV tends to have a finely-tuned ear for this sort of thing.

If an album doesn't get a Mercury, does it really exist?

Marc B emails with a link to this snapshot of a BBC News trailer which gets excited about the "second" Antony and the Johnsons album. Second, of course, if you don't count the one before the Mercury winning one.

It's since been updated to "follow-up", so someone at Newsbeat had their wits about them.

Brits 2009: Presenting the presenters

Much excitement over the announcement that Kylie, James Corden and Matthew Horne will be presenting this year's Brit Awards. And there's no way the excitement of today's announcement was in any way ruined by, erm, Corden having announced it all on the Sunday Night Project eight days ago.

Still, it's a good choice - even with Corden at the stage in his career which he'll refer to, in years to come, as the bit just before "I realised I was in the gossip columns every morning and the clubs every night, and I was making everyone heartily sick of me". The pair are probably the only presenters who've managed to shake off the ghost of Russell Brand on Big Brother's Big Mouth, and the self-indulgence of the musical longueurs on Gavin And Stacey are done with love. And Kylie Minogue will wear some nice shoes.

The Osbournes aren't exactly a hard act to follow, mind. If Corden and Horne manage to stand facing the right way for at least a couple of links, they'll be ahead.

MIDEM 2009: Man - the lifeboats?

The Isle Of Man government has introduced plans for a blanket music tax on broadband services. The BPI is - at least publicly - being all pleased:

"If ISPs take the position advocated in the Isle of Man, we’d be in an enormously better position," [The BPI's Geoff] Taylor responded.

The Register's Andrew Orlowski isn't quite so sure:
[M[any in both the tech business and the music business are wary of a government-imposed licence fee. A voluntary subscription scheme would provide an incentive for new services to be created - P2P service providers would compete for your custom. Such a voluntary P2P scheme is expected to be announced from a major UK ISP within a few weeks.

With a compulsory licence, ISPs would have no incentive to look after music sharers or differentiate themselves - everybody would be able to offer anything. And privately, labels are wary that collective agreements set a low floor price for music royalties.

Ah, but this is the Isle of Man we're talking about here, and it's more than likely that the music industry will see a small island in pretty much the same way the British military saw Gruinard: a place to test the most toxic stuff away from the major centres of population. If it all goes wrong, and results in the music industry losing more control, they've only lost a tiny market. If, on the other hand, it means the big four get a disproportionate chance to hoover down revenues from the licence, then that could be a prize worth the risk.

[Thanks to Mikey for the story]

Dogg wants in

James P writes with news of a would-be visitor to our shores:

After being banned from travelling to Britain following the Heathrow 'incident' in 2006, Snoop Dogg has decided that he rather misses the place, and would like to be let back in. He plans to acheive this by asking his famous friends to try and persuade the appropriate people.

"He says, 'I love London and I'm desperate to come back. I've called David Beckham, Sir Paul McCartney - hell, I want to get the whole of the Beatles to help me get back in... I'd love them all to write to the Prime Minister to change his mind.'"

(As persuasive tactics go, you have to admit "Go on, let me in and I'll bring two of your best-loved musicians back from the dead" does sound tempting).

I must've missed this particular change to the Border controls; Apparently entry to the UK is now based on the same criteria used as door policy at teenage birthday parties. If the letter-writing campaign doesn't get off the ground, expect to see Snoop at Heathrow Passport Control soon, pleading "Is Sir Paul here? That's it, I'm with him! Go and get him, he'll tell you. DAVID!!! DAVID!!! Over here! Tell them, David! How about Calvin, am I down on the list as Calvin? Just check again, would you?"

If Mr Dogg's appeal fails, he plans to return later in the year with a 12-pack of Carling and two litres of Thunderbird.

You've got to admire his plan of letter writing, though. Maybe he should think about a petition of some sort - perhaps he could get Nell McAndrew and Coleen Nolan to organise that. It's just a pity that Radio City have taken over St John's Tower in Liverpool; I'm sure a recreation of the Free George Jackson campaign's greatest moment might have just swung it.

MIDEM 2009: Placebo taken by Sam

After the digital stuff, MIDEM turns to the music, and amongst the early announcements is that Placebo are signing to PIAS for the next album. They could have had their pick of the majors - they say - but instead fell for PIAS small-scale, big-idea charms:

Placebo frontman Brian Molko said “We are delighted to be signing with [PIAS], one of the world’s most respected and successful independent music companies. We were very lucky to have so many great labels interested in signing us, it means a lot, especially after 12 years of releasing records!! But we now feel we have the right partner for Europe in these ever-changing times to continue this crazy adventure and to scale even dizzier heights with our new record".

Two exclamation marks and "scaling dizzy heights" in "ever-changing times" - let's hope that he's putting a bit more effort into the lyrics than he has into the press release.

Still, Meds was a splendid album, so let's hope a smaller, more loving environment might bring about something even better, so people stop going "what, really?" when you tell them you like Placebo.

Sell off Radio 1 and 2, say people who would like to buy Radio 1 and 2

Every so often, there's a small grumbling and mumbling from people who don't understand public service broadcasting which finds itself forming into the dunder-headed idea "why don't we privatise Radio 1 and 2?"

Here we go again, then: Marrakesh Records has apparently so much time on its hands that it's produced a report looking into the future of the music industry.

They assembled a panel of experts and fired some questions at them - surprisingly, perhaps, everyone was bullish about the chances of people still reading the pop papers this time next year - but it was the leading "should radio one and two be privatised" that has caught the eye. Even although, clearly, most of their respondents haven't thought through their ideas at all:

Dominic Hardisty [of Marrakesh Records says] It is only a matter of time
before politicians realise that R1 and R2 don’t offer any public service benefits that couldn’t just as easily be provided by commercial franchisees.

"Just as easily", huh? Like two fifteen-minute news programmes in the middle of daytime programming every day? The Organist Entertains? Rob Da Bank's show? Curiously, most commercial franchises seem to want to drop all the public service elements as quickly and as swiftly as they can; even something with a supposed blue-chip audience like Jazz proved to be impossible to sustain as a commercial service, and was thrown off by Jazz FM from its mainstream radio incarnation. How would Hardisty expect Newsbeat to be made by any organisation commercially? Or something like Radio One's Punk show?
Further, BBC Radio - with a 55% share of listenership - significantly distorts an already troubled commercial market that now faces life-threatening competition from myspace, youtube and

So, hang on: commercial radio is already struggling in the face of new media (although, somewhat surprisingly, it's not a threat to the BBC Radio audiences for some reason) - so it makes sense to set two large, national networks into the fight for audiences and advertisers. Because Capital really needs to be fighting Chris Moyles and Terry Wogan to find a sponsor for the weather forecast, doesn't it?
Privatising R1 and R2 would yield a windfall that could provide years of financial and editorial independence for other BBC services such as R3 and R4 which
could not survive in the commercial sector.

Assuming, of course, the money was handed to the BBC and not merely retained by the Government. And, assuming, of course, that there was someone willing to buy - not an obvious proposition in the current climate; and if Hardisty really believes that these new commercial entities will be doing exactly the same sort of expensive programming as the public service versions, isn't that going to drive the price downwards?

Darmash Mistry used to be with EMAP until they got sold on to Bauer, and now he's with a venture capital company. Not that the idea of buying a solid gold national asset at the bottom of the market would cloud his judgement, of course:
The BBC’s public sector objectives can be met in other ways.

He doesn't actually explain how the BBC would reach out to younger audiences in these mysterious "other ways" are, of course.
There is sufficient supply of music radio via traditional channels, digital radio, internet jukeboxes and access to global stations on the net.

That's all, of course, that BBC Radio 1 and 2 are - just great chunks of music. There's no news, or health campaigns, or anything. And if you like the live music of Friday Night Is Music Night, why, surely you can find a "global station" somewhere that does something like that?
With consumer choice being so abundantly available, the BBC no longer needs to meet this need, hence R1 and R2 should not be tax-payer funded.

If you believe that Radio 1 and 2 are funded by the tax payer and don't understand the subtle but important difference between central taxation and a licence fee, you probably should do some research before you share your opinions.

But, seriously: You don't see the value in BBC sessions, and believe that five or six new bands would be recording four or five tunes for a commercial Radio 1, for example? You really don't believe that that sort of thing is a cultural good which is worth funding in some way other than hoping Shockwaves will support it with a sponsorship deal?
Privatisation seems a credible next step.

If you accept your arguments, yes. In much the same way that if I believe that snow is made from custard, it would be credible to serve snow as a hot dessert.
NME Radio's Paul Stokes is more balanced:
We need a public service broadcaster that is prepared to shine light on new or minority talent and we have to accept that in order to gain that audience in the first place they have to compete with commercial channels part of the time.

It's interesting that a man who is trying to establish a new radio brand - and one which covers much of the ground of early evening Radio 1 - who is happy to explain the mechanics of public service radio. He does have a 'but', though:
I just wish they would stop staging concerts and events that would exist in the private sector. The Killers at Royal Albert Hall would take place anyway. It would be good to see these resources used on artists who couldn’t do that themselves.

It's a good point - although, arguably, The Killers might be happier having a straight fee agreed in advance rather than having to rely on ticket sales and hope to make a profit, and there are some interesting questions to be asked about what, exactly, Radio 1 and 2 would be doing.

This, though, isn't the place to do it, and producing a report which calls for the stations to be privatised without even bothering to ask anyone from the BBC for an opinion seems a little one-sided to say the least. And why didn't the question include 6 and 1Xtra? Shouldn't a solution include them as well?

With Channel 4 struggling to match public-service remits with commercial funding, it would be curious indeed to suggest that a public-service skewed Radio 1 and 2 would be a certain success. Especially in light of Channel 4's attempts to launch radio stations in sort-of competition - stations which couldn't be made to work in the current climate. Privatisation would mean, at worst, closure; at best, a watering-down of the things that make Radio 1 and 2 distinctive. You'd have more Moyles, and more Wogan; less Vine and less Zane. And that would be bad for commercial networks already struggling to find an identity in the networked-from-London world.

But, oh, imagine the short term piles of cash for the bankers and advisors and consultants! Oh, imagine having a stake in the kill.

6Music: Where do they get their ideas?

After their last campaign - which, for some reason, thought that showing people George Lamb would bring in a new audience - it was nice to see the latest 6Music trail that had a bit of inspiration to it - a graffiti-beast snorting up sounds in its long snout, animated on the side of a white-washed wall.

Trouble is, as Abeano have pointed out, this looks somewhat less inspired when set alongside the work of artist Blu. To which it bears an uncanny similarity...

Jonathan Ross: The Daily Mail is unsatisfied

Since the rest of the world has drawn a line under the Andrew Sachs phonecalls business, it falls to the Daily Mail to keep the flame of fake outrage burning:

Jonathan Ross is refusing to bow to pressure for a public apology for his part in the obscene phone calls scandal.

That's quite stubborn of him. You'd have thought a public apology would have been the very least he could do. He should follow the example of Jonathan Ross, who apologised publicly back in October:
"I am deeply sorry and greatly regret the upset and distress that my juvenile and thoughtless remarks on the Russell Brand show have caused.

"I have not issued a statement previously because it was my intention and desire to offer an apology to all those offended on my Friday night programme.

"However, it was a stupid error of judgment on my part, and I offer a full apology."

So what the Mail really means is that Ross is refusing to apologise every time he appears in public. Which isn't quite the same thing at all.

Songwriterobit: Clint Ballard Jr

Clint Ballard Junior - whose name would have delighted Adam Trimingham and his Department of Appropriate Names - has died.

Born in Texas in 1931, Ballard spent time in the army before entering the music business as manager of the Kalin Twins, but it was as a songwriter that he really found success. He wrote Linda Rondstadt's hit You're No Good, and also created The Game Of Love for Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders.

Since the 80s, Ballard had been making a living in the property business.

Gordon in the morning: Piles of pants

Oh, for god's sake, Gordon:

SOMEONE should have a whip-round to buy LADY GAGA some trousers.

She has run around London in little more than her undercrackers for the past week.

By "running around London" you mean "has appeared on stage in a leotard-type costume once", do you? Look, if you want to print pictures of a woman where you can see her legs, why not just do it instead of trying to think of some reason that it might be noteworthy? "Woman who does energetic dance routine wears less clothes than cabinet minister" isn't much of a story, is it? Even when you try to somehow suggest there's a trend:
The outrageous New Yorker was a huge hit with the crowd at club night GAY in a shiny metal bustier and leather gloves on Saturday. That conical bra reminds me of early MADONNA.

Do you also have some fairly undressed photos of Madonna?
Queen Of Pop Madge, meanwhile, has been flashing her undies in new promo pics for album Hard Candy.

Actually, the photos of which Gordon talk are a little more interesting than that - they're not new photos at all, but apparently photos that Madonna rejected during the gathering of promotional materials which have suddenly appeared online. Humorously, Gordon fawns over the shots:
It's a wrap ... Madge looks much younger than 50

... while most people think the photos were abandoned in the first place because she looks about 90 in them. Despite her pants being on display.

Still, having spectacularly missed one story and failed to create another, could Gordon salvage the day with a spot of lazy gay stereotyping?
And I reckon she [Lady GaGa] borrowed that leather cap and shades from her new pals at GAY.

Well done, Gordo.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

MIDEM 2009: Google regrets

PaidContent's Robert Andrews reports back on the MIDEMNET session with Google's content partnerships VP David Eun. His poorly-disguised frustration with a music industry that thinks that the internet owes it probably means he should be kept away from Feargal Sharkey:

"Lots of people 'get it'. On the other hand, there's a culture (amongst music execs) where 'these are my interests, meet them, if you can meet them then maybe you can have access to our content'. There's really not a concern for the other person's business (ie. Google's) - (they say) 'if you can't figure out how to make it work, that's your problem'. If that becomes systemic, you decrease the number of partners you can have."

He also spoke a little about Warner's current exclusion from YouTube - and sounded like a man who, while not uncaring about one label's absence from his service, isn't all that desperate about it, either:
"I think it's unfortunate. The only way a partnership works is if it works for both parties ... You can't force someone to be a good partner - you can force them to follow contractual obligations, but you can't force them to be a good partner. The way you become good partners is to give them incentives to go beyond what the obligations are. We don't have that type of relationship with everyone or with Warner Music right now ... but we hope we can find a way of working so that both parties are happy working together."

Sure, it'd be nice to have those guys on board again, but perhaps they don't want to play, said YouTube from the top of its goldmine.

Neko Case weekend: Knock Loud

Not, perhaps, the sort of footage you'd get from a professional crew at Koko in London, but worth three minutes of your time, nevertheless:

[Part of Neko Case weekend]

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Glasvegas

Variety tramps down to the Troubadour to see Glasvegas. It isn't impressed:

It's a scenario that should be familiar to anyone who has followed pop music for the past two decades: A band is hyped by the British music press, only to cross the Atlantic and disappoint. Call it the Empire's new clothes.

MIDEM 2009: Clash of the giants

Another meeting between Gerd Leonhard and Feargal Sharkey, reports Music Ally:

The most heated section saw consultant Gerd Leonhard accuse the music industry of desiring rules that are “just not reasonable”, provoking a stern rebuke from UK Music boss Feargal Sharkey.

“I don’t think that imposing one vision on all of humanity is the way to go,” he told Leonhard. “It’s slightly arrogant to come and tell two very successful industries that they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Sharkey is in charge of UK Music, who are pretty much dedicated to imposing a single vision on all of humanity wanting to use music in a digital environment; what angers him so much is that he must know, in his heart, that Leonhard is right in his diagnosis, even if you don't totally accept his solutions.

And "two very successful industries"? Well, it didn't take long for someone to point out the baselessness of that claim:
Pete Jenner, who was on the panel: “Two very successful industries? We’re talking about the record industry, which is in the fucking dumper!”

Indeed. Perhaps if you're actually at MIDEM, Sharkey isn't coming across like one of those stock thugs they have on Casualty every couple of weeks who hurls abuse at the paramedics trying to help him, but certainly from this distance he's making himself look like a petulant closed-mind. UK music needs better, even if UK Music, the organisation, probably deserves no better.

MIDEM 2009: Share in the profits

Every new development online tends to spawn a start-up which pledges to do the same sort of thing as everyone else, but to reward its users with "a share of the revenue". There were even companies which were going to share revenue with people simply for reading their email at one point.

Strangely, I can't think of a single instance of one of these start-ups turning into major players. Perhaps because they rely on advertising, and to make money from online ads, you need scale. If a user is getting a portion of the ad revenue from their limited range of online activities, then you're talking about very small sums indeed. And would you really choose to abandon, say, Hotmail or YouTube or MySpace in order to make a few cents a week?

Still, it's a business model that keeps being resurrected, and the latest outfit trying to buy users with a slice of ad money is at Midem. They're called Snowfish, and hope to attract a social networking audience with quarters and dimes:

“We don’t want to repeat what today’s social communities are already doing,” says CEO Ludvig Werner. “The launch of Snowfish will put the consumer in control. All of a sudden, everything has value!”

The company says it has a number of advertising deals in place, and will pay out users’ revenue share via PayPal on a monthly basis.

You have to wish them luck, but I suspect this is one of those ideas that won't shake the internet to its fundamentals.

Amy Winehouse discovers nepotism

The News of the World is thrilled - thrilled - this morning to report that Amy Winehouse is launching her own record label:

MEET Amy Winehouse, (the ever so unlikely) Music Mogul.

The recovering drug addict is spending a whopping £1 million to launch her own record company.

Well, that makes sense. She's done so well at managing her own affairs, why wouldn't she take on some other, younger, less together artists under her wing? I'm picturing something like putting Anakin in charge of the Younglings.

The trouble with running a record label is that you have to spend time trudging about, watching bands, listening to mp3s. How is Amy going to make room in her busy minesweeping and trapeze schedule to find acts to sign?
She’s named the business Lioness and has already made her first signing — her uber-talented 12-year-old goddaughter Dionne Bromfield.

Amy Winehouse is somebody's godmother? Supposedly pledged to protecting this Dionne from Satan? Presumably by distracting him and keeping him busy?

Yes, by a fabulous stroke of good fortune, Amy has managed to find an "uber-talented" artist for her label simply by concentrating hard to remember some people she knows.

Naturally, what parent wouldn't be delighted at the thought of their preteen being taken under Amy's protective wing and being shown the route through the potential pitfalls of the music industry?
Amy is so confident that Dionne has what it takes to become Britain’s next pop sensation she’s teamed her up with US star Lady Gaga, soul singer Lemar and X Factor finalist Eoghan Quigg to record duets.

Lemar? Eggand Quim? Short of making the poor child dress up in a Mr Wimpy costume and record a song with Michael Barrymore, it's hard to see how the kid could be any more hobbled. Perhaps Amy is approaching it like when twelve year-olds get swimming certificates: everyone knows that in the real world you won't have to rescue someone clinging to brick while wearing pyjamas, but being able to overcome the extreme disadvantage is good training.

Neko Case weekend: Deep Red Bells

Not "balls", however much it might amuse to misread for comic effect. This performance was captured at Suede, in Park City, Utah, June 17th 2006:

[Part of Neko Case weekend]

Sonic Youth: Hope late spring's Eternal

There's an update on studio progress from Sonic Youth - the new album, which might be called The Eternal, should be ready at the start of June.

Thurston Moore apparently said this:

"Our focus right now is a record replete with juicy supersonic songs!"

- which does have the unfortunate effect of making him sound like someone in an office who calls everyone "sire" or "good madam" for comic effect. Let's hope it's just all the good stuff has gone into the record.

Managerobit: Gary Kurfirst

Former manager and label executive Gary Kurfirst has died while holidaying in the Bahamas.

Kurfirst started out promoting gigs in Manhattan, and in 1969 created the New York Rock Festival, inadvertently providing one of the inspirations for Woodstock. He also ran his own record labels and publishing businesses, but it as a manager that he really secured his career. In his time, he represented The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Jane's Addicition, Mick Jones, Shirley Manson and The Eurythmics.

The cause of his death at the age of 61 is unknown; he is survived by his wife, his mother, two children and two grandchildren.

MIDEM 2009: Katy Perry takes Rihanna's prize by mistake

The traditional curtain-raiser to MIDEM (if you ignore MIDEMNET having already raised the curtains), the NRJ French music awards, managed a spot of Brits-level debacle last night, with Katy Perry waltzing off with two prizes, only one of which was intended for her. She somehow was given the award for best international song, despite the judges having voted for Rihanna's Disturbia instead. BBC News:

Perry did legitimately scoop the best international album prize

Well, she might have been the intended recipient, but as to if her claim to have made the best album in the world outside France in 2008 is "legitimate", that would be a different question altogether.

Neko Case weekend: Favourite

More Neko Case live, this time recorded at Solana Beach on February 18th, 2007:

[Part of Neko Case weekend]

This week just gone

The most popular stories published so far this year have been:

1. RIP Tommy Tee
2. Liveblog: Celebrity Big Brother launch night
3. Cheryl Cole: Exclusive to all newspapers
4. Lucy Pinder shows her talents off
5. Amy Winehouse hangs out with News Of The World
6. The first pointless stunt of 2009
7. RIP Vincent Ford
8. Daily Mail uncovers Madonna's "raunchiest ever" photos
9. Peaches Geldof tells a journalist how it should be done
10. Universal soft-launch Tunepost

Try these, we suggested:

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Download Animal Collective back catalogue

Lady Gaga - The Fame

download The Fame

Mr Oizo - Lambs Anger

download Lambs Anger

Hans Zimmer - Frost/Nixon soundtrack

download Frost/Nixon

Luke Haines - Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part In Its Downfall

Sunday, Bloody Sunday