Saturday, February 21, 2009

Buffalo wings Soldier

I suppose Bob Marley being used to flog things isn't new - but the latest plans from the Marley estate are step-up from selling posters to every student house in the UK and letting Persil use Three Little Birds:

Bob Marley drinks, luggage, stationery, hotels and video games could soon appear after the late reggae star's family struck a merchandise deal.

"We're open to licensing just about anything," said the late reggae icon's daughter Cedella. But she added: "If it is not right, we will not do it."

It's a little tricky, after you've thrown off your clothes and started rubbing dollar bills all over your naked skin, to then try and suggest you're doing so with dignity, isn't it?
Ms Marley said interest in her father was growing, almost 30 years after his death. "The things that dad spoke about are still the things that we all need to fix and work on," she said.

"Sometimes when you put on his records it's like he's talking about today, right now.

"The message is still about hope and peace and all of us coming together. That's what makes him special. All of us can relate to him."

Ah yes. The songs of struggle, and hope, that Bob was known for. How best can you capture that essential, dignified struggle?
There is already a Bob Marley Resort & Spa in the Bahamas, which could be the springboard for a string of Marley hotels.

That would be the way.


Gary Barlow's back out, doesn't back out

That Comic Relief big mountain climb is getting closer, and out-of-condition celebrities are stepping up their preparations. So much so that Gary Barlow has managed to hurt his back:

A statement on the band's website says that, due to a "hectic training schedule... the muscles in Gary Barlow's back have gone into spasm".

It adds that the singer has been "treated appropriately" and should be able to complete the charity climb.

"It was funny" said a witness, "he was clambering up a wall and doing great, and then someone just shouted 'bet you can't wait until you're sharing a small tent with Gordon Smart' and he just started twitching..."


A happy ending: AEG, NME do the right thing

It's only fair to wave flowers and give a few moments applause to NME and AEG, who have withdrawn their previous response to the collapse of Trinity Street, and are giving original ticket purchasers the tickets they'd orginally purchased:

NME.COM is extremely pleased to announce that Shockwaves NME Awards Big Gig ticket holders who bought their tickets through Trinity Street, a company that recently ceased trading, will have their original tickets despatched to them on Monday, by registered post.

The Shockwaves NME Awards Big Gig takes place at London's O2 Arena on February 26, next week. The event, headlined by The Cure and also featuring Franz Ferdinand, Crystal Castles and White Lies, will celebrate the Shockwaves NME Awards ceremony that takes place the night before (February 25) at the O2 Academy Brixton.

In light of the recent difficulties experienced by some ticket holders, NME and AEG Live have done everything in their power to ensure that those music fans are still able to attend the gig, at no extra cost.

If you are a Shockwaves NME Awards Big Gig ticket holder who was affected by the closure of ticket provider Trinity Street, please read through the following official statement carefully:

"New tickets will be despatched to you on Monday, by registered post. Please note that they will need to be signed for upon delivery.

If you have already re-purchased tickets via the link and password we supplied to you, we will automatically have these tickets cancelled and your repurchase monies refunded to you in full, including all transaction fees. If you purchased replacement tickets via any other source, or direct to the Ticketmaster site, please contact us at enquiries@aeglive.co.uk with your purchase details and we will arrange to have these refunded.

If you requested complimentary tickets this order will now be cancelled as your original tickets are on their way to you.

Please do not continue with any claims from your payment card provider, there is no need to request a refund as your original tickets are on their way to you. Please note that if your credit card company does provide you with a refund then we will need to contact you directly to re-charge for the gig tickets.

We would like to take this opportunity to offer our sincerest apologies for the inconvenience that you may have experienced. The unexpected demise of Trinity Street so close to the concert and the resultant financial issues led us to initiate a repurchase and refund process. However NME and AEG Live have been working non-stop to find a resolution and we are pleased to be able to end the week with this great news.

So please do look forward to receiving your tickets and of course we hope that you enjoy the Big Gig itself.

See you on Thursday!

NME & AEG Live"

Great news, and well done to whoever reversed the original response to Trinity's collapse.


Gordon in the morning: Oscars weekend

Tomorrow, or more precisely, as tomorrow turns into the new working week, the American movie industry embarks on its main marketing event of the year. And with a vague possibility of British people winning stuff, Gordon has pulled out the stops to lead with an Oscars story:

Dev and Freida shop for a ring

And, it turns out, on Valentines' Day, too. Not that Gordon's impressed:
On the most romantic day of the year, did Dev whisk his love off to Paris and shower her with diamonds, as any self-respecting Hollywood hotshot would expect?

No.

He took her to a High Street jeweller’s in one of London’s busiest shopping areas — and left without buying anything.

Oh dear.

Valentine’s Day saw the couple browsing in H. Samuel’s on Oxford Street.

Hang about, Gordon - many of your readers might have bought their inamorata rings at that store. And they might advertise in The Sun. Better not go overboard, eh?
Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with their goods, because there isn’t.

Phew.
But splashing a bit of cash never hurt the first flushes of a new relationship.

Really, Gordon? You think the best approach in a new relationship is to throw money about, do you? And you're accusing Dev of being the one who is unromantic.

The whole thing is, presumably, supposed to imply some sort of engagement, but not even Smart is going to try and push that one.

Elsewhere under Gordon's empire, Alex West files a story claiming that Michael Jackson is about to sign on for gigs in London.

I suppose if you run this story every few months, sooner or later it'll have to be right by chance, if nothing else.


Friday, February 20, 2009

U2 album seeps onto the internet

When albums splurge out online before the official release date, normally you could not contain the angers of the record company; even with a large metal bucket with a self-sealing lid. "We must strip naked the journalist/presser/passer-by who did this and beat them until they cry" is pretty much the line.

But what about if the it's the label itself that bungles? Let's say, for example, that Universal managed to botch the release of its biggest album this year, U2's No Line On The Horizon?

UMG’s Australian branch is being blamed for accidentally leaking the album, offering high quality downloads for purchase from their digital music site Getmusic.au. The downloads, which were being sold roughly two weeks before the album’s February 27th Irish release date, were available for about two hours before the error was noticed, Forbes reports. By then, it was too late. The album had been downloaded and passed along via P2P servers and message boards.

Hilariously, Universal hadn't even trusted journalists with review copies; at preview parties, journos were frisked for recording devices.

Universal appear to have chucked in the towel; the album is now streaming from the U2 MySpace - for anyone impatient with an audio-stream ripping program to make their own, early, cost-free version.


Popobit: Kelly Groucutt

Former ELO bassist Kelly Groucutt suffered a fatal heart attack earlier this week.

Born Michael William Groucutt, he was recruited to the Electric Light Orchestra in 1974 after a spell in The Sight & Sound. The band were already doing well, and he took over as bassist in time for the band to tour Eldorado; his first studio work - which included vocals - came on 1975's Face The Music.

As with many long-running acts, money would eventually sour relations, and Groucott quit ELO after taking umbrage at royalty arrangements. After leaving in 1983, he embarked on a lawsuit against the band management and Jeff Lynne, securing an out-of-court settlement.

He then joined the dissident, Lynne-free ELO II and the subsequent, even more dissident The Orchestra; he had also been playing with a smaller band, Session 60.


Daily Mail: Look, victims

Okay, maybe you'd not expect anything better of TMZ, who have printed post-violence pictures of Rihanna. But what the hell does The Scotsman and the Daily Mail think their justification for such an invasion of privacy would be?


INXS: Reversal of fortune

Winning a reality TV show - that's the route to fame and fortune and, at the very least, not living like a tramp in a lay-by, right?

Of course not.

JD Fortune, who won the chance to replace Michael Hutchence in INXS, is now living in a car in Canada. He says the band kicked him out with no warning, dumping him at Hong Kong Airport and he's had a bit of trouble since then.

The band, of course, deny it.

Actually, they don't:

A spokeswoman for the group said she could not comment on Fortune's sacking, as did band member Kirk Pengilly's fiancee Layne Beachley when contacted by Confidential.

You've got to love the surprised tone that "the fiance of someone in the band didn't have a comment to make". Presumably, there wasn't enough time to seek a response from the cousin of the guy who does the printing for the band's accountants, either?


40,000 people can be wrong: George Lamb's audience figures

Rajar, the audience counting people, have released some figures breaking down digital listening hour-by-hour. This reveals that George Lamb is the most-listened to 6Music show on weekdays, but his peak comes in at just 40,000; he's bested by Adam and Joe at weekends.

The numbers themselves are a little dodgy - the RAJAR sample is so teeny, and its methodology so creaky, you could assume that those 40,000 are anywhere between 5,000 and a third of a million - but what they tell about the patterns of audience for digital stations is interesting.

Old radio peaks at breakfast. Digital doesn't. BBC Radio 7 peaks after 7pm at night - which hasn't been prime time for radio since Grace Archer went back in to help the horses. Planet Rock is at its busiest at lunchtime - as is Heat. And nobody at all listens to Absolute Radio Extreme (previously known as nobody at all listens to one of Virgin's digital networks) - it's biggest audience is 8,000, which must be bloody near immeasurable.

What's missing from all these figures, though, is online, overseas and on demand listening. So we know that Gideon Coe has 12,000 listeners in the UK when the show comes on at 9pm, but not how many people will be tuned in elsewhere, or listening to the programme the following morning. Perhaps while George Lamb is on.


BNP somehow deny being anything to do with their own label

The BNP is somehow upset at the coverage of their record featuring White Cliffs Of Dover. On their website, the right wingers turn into right whingers:

A new range of music CDs acquired by Excalibur has driven the rodent-infested media into a lying frenzy, with at least two dailies publishing stories falsely claiming that the party has ripped off Dame Vera Lynn music to put on an “anti-immigration CD.”
[...]
“There is of course no truth to the stories at all,” said Arthur Kemp, new manager of Excalibur. “This is a commercially produced music CD which was issued in March last year by a well-known music publishing house. The BNP had nothing to do with the design or selection of tracks on the album.

“The CD is stocked in Excalibur’s nostalgia section, which contains other albums such as Pistol Packin’ Mamas by The Andrews Sisters; Great Music from the Court of Elizabeth 1; Café de Paris — 50 French Classics; and Canterbury Tales: Chaucer’s World in Words and Music,” Mr Kemp said.

“To allege that this CD is somehow part of an ‘anti-immigration nationalist’ campaign is untrue, invented by an ignorant, malicious and lying media rodent,” he said.

Wow. An ignorant lying media rodent. Blimey.

This does, of course, imply that Excalibur is some sort of independent entity, rather than a BNP fundraising operation - when a previous manager apparently ran off with the some of the takings, the BNP's own website described this as taking money "belonging to the members of the BNP".) It's hard to see how you can be raising funds for the BNP and not endorsing its party line. Which is blocking immigration, offering "voluntary repatriation" and so on.


Government plans for rout for touts

Ticket touting - which, apparently, is a bit of capitalist, free-market economy we're not meant to applaud - is coming under government pressure again, as a consultation is launched by the Department For Culture, Media and Sport to try and remove any chance you might ever have of unloading that ticket you bought to take your now-ex girlfriend to go and see the Wedding Present.

It's not just a consultation process, though - there's this, too:

new advice from Consumer Direct with tips on how to safely shop for tickets online.

The DCMS links to the front of ConsumerDirect, which offers no obvious link to this advice (perhaps they feel the advice is so obvious they don't need to point to it.

They do have this on the front of Consumer Direct, though:

It's not entirely clear why "women in push-up bras" are considered the obvious illustration for a story about holiday brochures - presumably someone thought they were bikinis. But even then, you do wonder if they couldn't have found an image that wasn't reliant on underwiring. Still, that's the agency who will be offering advice to keep you safe buying tickets online.

The full consultation is available as a PDF and a rich text format document; we've just published a version through Google Docs to make it easier to read in a browser.

So, what's in it?

Firstly, the DCMS has rejected the calls from promoters that they should get a slice of any money made when a ticket is sold on:
The Government does not generally accept such a moral case, which it feels is outweighed by consumer benefit.

I guess you're not going to get the government actually saying "the greedy, greedy bastards" in an official document. Not unless it's Mandelson's department.

The document suggests that what it's really concerned with is access for the consumer, and does suggest that the DCMS doesn't want to see the system of ticket distribution become too complicated. It's fairly cool on the idea of mobile phones being used as tickets, for example, noting success but - presumably - worrying that you have to have a mobile phone for that to work.

It also stresses that it doesn't really want to legislate:
The Government is not going to dictate how tickets best reach fans, but wants to see a set of clear principles that could underpin how this market works, given the ongoing concerns around consumer awareness and countering illegal activity.

... well, not more than it already has.

This all sounds generally positive - and a suggested measure that you shouldn't be allowed to sell a ticket for a free event makes sense.

As is a proposal that the decent, honest ticket resellers have some sort of code of conduct, and presumably a little symbol, to show that they're not touts, they're resellers.

Of course, that idea is slightly undermined by assuming that a bloke selling tickets he doesn't have would have qualms about displaying a logo to which he wasn't entitled, but it's a starting point.

The consultation also suggests that ticket distributors consider making more use of ballots for popular events - something I've thought would work well for the festivals (at least back when they used to sell out) and seems to be commonsense.

Another sensible observation is that putting the tickets on sale in one big lump, months and months before the event - causing an unpleasant world of "This website is inaccessible" pain for everyone - only fosters an ecosystem where people are going to be looking for resellers both honest and shady. Trading off the value of "Oasis sell out in ten seconds a year in advance" headlines for satisfied customers could be an idea.

Mimicking the list of events that have to be made available on free-to-air television for years, there's a plan to create a list of "nationally significant" events. This is surprising:
The Government is concerned that, for such events, tickets should be distributed on an equal basis enabling access at all levels and not restricted through prohibitive price levels, excessive corporate allocation or inadequacies in distribution or control.

Hang about... did Gordon Brown's government just suggest it's going to take some of the "corporate jollies" share of the tickets away? Actually, given the current economy, the accounts departments of the big companies are probably offering up little prayers of thanks right now - "sorry, Sir Oswald, but you can't take fifty people to Glyndebourne this year... DCMS rules, you know. No, even if we do sack the rest of the invoicing team to raise the cash..."

It's not actually a bad starting point for consultation at all - indeed, despite the headlines suggesting this is all about putting photo IDs on tickets, the suggestion that tickets bear the faces of the bearer is only mentioned the once, and in the context of what is being done now, rather than suggested as the way forward.

It is a consultation process: you can feed your views in directly.


Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Bono and Bob

G2 meets Dambisa Moyo, who provides one of the sharpest critiques of what's wrong with Bono I've read in a while:

Partly, of course, it's about power, and purse-strings; partly, she believes, it's a PR issue, "there are many well-spoken, smart African leaders who should be on the global stage"; very largely, given that so far not many are, it's a case of who gets to do the talking, and increasingly, it is people like Bob Geldof and Bono, the most visible representatives of what she calls, in a thrillingly withering manner, "glamour aid".

"There are African policymakers who are charged with the responsibility of creating policy, and implementing policy. That's their job. Long, long lines of people have stood in the sun to vote for a president who is effectively impotent because of donors or because glamour aid has decided to speak on behalf of a continent.

How would British people feel if tomorrow Michael Jackson started telling them how they should get out of the housing crisis? Or if Amy Winehouse started to give the US government advice about the credit crunch? And was listened to? I think they would be perturbed, and worried. I mean, they've completely disenfranchised the very people we've actually elected!"


Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Beth Ditto

Hannah Pool isn't convinced by Beth Ditto's third naked magazine cover:

Designers are notorious for claiming that only a size zero will make their clothes look good, so did Love editor Katie Grand have trouble persuading them to dress Ditto? "No one said they didn't want Beth in their clothes. Donatella Versace wanted to do it and so did Chanel, but there wasn't enough time," says Grand.

[...]
The shoot that follows Ditto's features a model whose chest looks almost concave, signifying that it's back to fashion's version of "normal" pretty quickly.


Gordon in the morning: Can I use this to buy fireworks and ciggies, too?

Yes, that is what it looks like. Someone's tricked up a fake Brits Access All Areas pass for Gordon. I think it's some guy at school's brother who makes them with his computer, and he can do really convincing student ID, too; you can hardly tell the difference.

Which is lucky, given that Lady GaGa asked him for a birth certificate:

I had an odd conversation with the pouting pop star at the Universal Music bash after the Brits.

She said: "I just wanna thank you for all your support, Mr Scotsman. Brits really are the coolest people. Can you help me forge a birth certificate so I can get a British passport?"


Asking someone for the Sun for help to be in the UK illegally? That's poor research, surely?

Yes, Gordon's back from Earls Court, where a combination of poor tube service and newspaper print cycles means he's only just getting round this morning to telling us what he didn't already know had happened on Wednesday night.

Strange world we live in, isn't it? I know that a few seconds ago Kristin Hersh was taking requests on-stage at San Francisco, but the Brits aftershow news takes thirty six hours to come out.

The Kings Of Leon were fighting at the aftershow. Matthew and Caleb. It's a brother thing. Apparently, though, serious, band-threatening violence isn't good enough for Gordon:
Mind you, with the lead singer in bed around midnight I hope they’re not becoming the Kings Of Yawn.

Meanwhile, John Kay - "chief reporter" - looks into the alleged Weller betting scam:
William Hill bosses told how seven men toured their shops in the Guildford area of Surrey — close to Weller’s Woking birthplace — backing him with bets of £20 and £25 to avoid suspicion.

Near where Weller was born? You're not implying... are you?
Hill chiefs stressed they do not think Weller, 50, placed any wagers himself.

Although having seemingly spent about four days waiting until Adele could finish the presentation video, you could understand if he wanted to make a few quid off the deal as well.

Seriously, though, the bath the bookies have taken this year does mean they're considering not doing bets on the event next year:
A spokesman said: “It was our music department’s worst night for years. It’s highly unlikely we’ll be betting on the Brits again as there is no doubt the results are circulating up to a week before.

“The fact Paul’s interview was pre-recorded suggests people had been tipped off.”

As we said when this story first broke, it's a bit unlikely that an industry that can't keep its core assets from leaking the moment recording finishes would be able to keep a hat on something like this.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taking pay to play to a new level: band offer to pay fans

Officer Roseland came up with a neat idea - offering to pay fans a dollar to listen to their new album. It wasn't really about paying fans, of course, it was about generating acres of cheap publicity. And it's worked.

Providing you don't mind the complaints - some people feel the band have devalued themselves. Or possibly music. Or maybe even the whole of creation. So now the band have tried again to explain the whole idea:

Our initial intention was to see what the general public would do if given the choice of "Give or Take" for their $1.00 stimulus payment for downloading our album. A sociological experiment of sorts. Is it gimmicky? Sure. This being our 4th release, we've learned (often, the hard way) some lessons about music and marketing. Our main objective is to gain new listeners and to help a worthy cause. Obviously, the timing of this release could NOT have been better and truthfully, this idea was spawned soon after people were receiving their initial stimulus payments from G.W. Bush, LONG before the Obama stimulus plan was even a thought!

For the "Take" portion (where the fan actually gets paid) the band will be pay $1.00 through paypal. We are funding that through our own (the bands) money. However, because no one in the band is independently wealthy, we are most likely putting a cap on the limit of "take" dollars that we pay, and from then on, the album will be FREE For life.

The "Give" portion is (hopefully) being funded by sponsors who are helping us with this cause. We do have some sponsors already, but not nearly enough to fund the entire program (At this time).

It made sense, in several ways, to contribute to a music based charity and the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation was interested in what we were doing.

(The charity will get any cash which comes from people paying to buy the record.)

So will the band end up out of pocket? Possibly. Has it been worth it? That's the wrong question - the question really is 'had you heard of Office Roseland before'?


David Van Day is not an animal, he is an 80s star

David Van Day, out of Dollar and Bucks Fizz but mainly Dollar, had to go into hiding because he was so hideous:

But the 52-year-old thought he looked so ugly after the facelift that he barred his two daughters from looking at his face.

Olivia, 16, and Amber, 12, had to wait eight weeks before they could see their father.

He said: "My head was the size of a TV and I don't want them to see what it was like."

The key word is "facelift", as this was after he went on Living TV's Pop Goes The Band, where acts for whom the nostalgia circuit work has dried up have their dignity removed on television. His normal face, and his post facelift face, was apparently acceptable viewing for his children.

You might have thought that a sixteen year old would be more than capable of understanding the after-effects of a facelift, and might be happier to see them than go two months without seeing their Dad, but all families are different.

I suppose it's just lucky Pete Burns never had kids, isn't it?


What else is in the teaches of Peaches?

Of course the new Peaches album will be called I Feel Cream. Of course it will. It's going to splatter across your faces on May 4th; before then, on April 27th, she's playing the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Ether Festival.

You could go, but she'd snap you in two.


Embed and breakfast man: Joan As Policewoman

Somewhat surprisingly being offered via Interview magazine, here's the video for Joan As Policewoman's Start Of My Heart single:


NME Awards event hit by Trinity Street collapse

The collapse of Trinity Street has taken out a swathe of the audience for next week's Cure NME gig at the Millennium Dome. Fans who'd forked out for a ticket have been getting this email:

Please read on for further information regarding your tickets for the Big Gig/The Cure at The O2 on 26 February.

We understand you have purchased these tickets from Trinity St, but Trinity St has not fulfilled this transaction and delivered these tickets to you. It appears that Trinity St has now ceased trading and, as of Monday 16th February, was very likely to go into administration. Please note that Trinity St has not accounted to us for any of these ticket monies, and therefore your ticket purchases are invalid.

You may wish to apply directly to the administrators of Trinity St for a refund of your ticket monies (we set out their address below). However, we appreciate that this may take some time and may well not be successful. Alternatively, you may seek to claim a refund of your monies through your credit/debit card company. We also set out some information on this below.

In the meantime, we have managed to make available to you for purchase similar floor standing tickets (as per your original order) which we will hold for you till Saturday 21st February at 6pm. Please use the BUY link and unique passcode, listed below, if you wish to purchase these tickets while you are going through the claims process. This passcode is unique to you and not transferable. Please ensure you use the same postal address for delivery as your original order as any other orders will unfortunately be cancelled.

If you feel you are not in a position whereby you are able to afford to purchase the tickets that have been held for you, we have a limited number of complimentary tickets in the rear seated blocks on Tier 400. We will confirm back to you by 12 noon on Monday 23rd February if your request can be fulfilled. We will try to accommodate as many such requests as possible, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate everyone. Unfortunately, please bear in mind that the location of these complimentary tickets is towards the back of the arena in the top level, seated, and not standing tickets as per your original request.

Please note that requests for complimentary tickets will not be fulfilled if you have also used the link above to purchase replacement tickets.

Both AEG Live and NME are sorry for any inconvenience that this has caused you. We would like to stress that at the time of working with Trinity Street there was no reason to believe that the company would cease trading.

This has, it appears, gone out to some 500-plus ticket holders (or, rather, ex-ticket holders); many of whom are a bit unhappy. The "sorry" at the end doesn't really seem to be especially heartfelt, and the "look, the tickets have gone, we're not giving you your money back - and good luck with that - but you can have first refusal at buying them again" offer hasn't gone down well.

To be fair to the NME, it isn't their fault that Trinity has gone down, and there is some sort of grudging attempt to do the right thing by offering the lottery for an unnamed number of crappier tickets.

But this is the risk you run when you proudly slap your brand onto other people's services and outsource fulfilment. Especially in the current climate.

And the email does suggest that the organisers are putting their financial comfort ahead of the people who had trusted them when they bought tickets. The tickets are there to be re-sold (and, presumably, offered on the open market if they're not taken up by February 21st) and AEG appear to have details of who had bought what. The only thing AEG doesn't have is the cash, which seems to have disappeared into the Trinity hole.

If you were in charge of the NME brand, you might weigh up who you wanted to take the financial hit - Time Warner Inc, or the people who buy your magazines and products, before deciding if you'll send the 'want to try buying your tickets again?' email.

The collapse isn't the NME's fault, but the way it's been handled since is.

[Thanks to Cat C and Peter D, who both contacted me]

UPDATE: 21/02/09 - There's been a change of heart, and now people who originally bought tickets will receive them at no extra cost. Kudos to AEG & NME for changing their minds


Put that fire out

Of course, the fires in Australia are terrible beyond imagination, but doesn't banning songs with 'fire' in the title from Australian radio come across less as a well-meaning measure, and more as a trivial measure which looks more like grandstanding than sensitivity?


Darkness at 3AM: Coldhearted cold comfort for Coldplay

The 3Am Girls are also signed up to the party line that Coldplay being not good enough is some sort of snub:

Coldplay snubbed at Brits as they lose in four categories

Doesn't that make them losers rather than snubbed?

The 3AMies can't understand it:
Only earlier this month Chris Martin and his band celebrated Grammy success, but yesterday at a star-studded London’s Earls Court they were snubbed on their own soil.

Their own star-studded London's Earl Court soil, no less.
In front of celebs including Duffy, Alexandra Burke, Katy Perry, Kings of Leon, Kylie and Take That, the boys looked on in disbelief as each of the main categories passed them by.

Oh, hang on. The Brits organisers hauled them up in front of celebs (and the woman who won Sing a Song For Simon) so everyone could watch their little faces crumple in distress? That would be quite a snub. Had it happened like that.
They lost out in British album, British group, British single – voted for by the public – and British live act.

Pssst... the live act one? That was also voted for by the public. Or "us", as we like to call ourselves.
And it was made all the weirder by the fact they rocked their post-awards show at Shepherd’s Bush afterwards.

Yes, fancy the voting academy not taking into account a private event they hadn't even played at the time of the prizes being given out. That's just so weird.

So, then, this year's Brits were nothing more than a farrago, designed to humiliate Chris Martin even more than his dancing does, right?

Oh... except when it was giving awards to Duffy. Then, the prizes were well-chosen, feting our new singing queen:
But it was a different story for Duffy, who was crowned queen of the night with a staggering three gongs.

The Welsh babe scooped British album and British female after quashing rivals Estelle and Adele.

Then she rubbed it in with Best Breakthrough. Lord have Mercy! One boozy record exec told us: “This is Duffy’s year. Not only was she the toast of the Grammys, she won over the tough Brits committee. That’s something not even Lily Allen could do who left empty-handed last year.”

God, how drunk was that executive? That last sentence really does sound like it was written after a George Best style celebration.

Don't you love the idea that the Brits committee is somehow "tough", as if they meet round the back of a run-down Peckham tower block and you can't vote until you've proved yourself by pinching something from Wilkinsons.

And what of Kylie? Apparently she was shocked:
Kylie shocked by James Corden and Mat Horne's Brit performance

Of course, she wasn't shocked at all. But she hasn't made a single called I Knew This Was Going To Happen, We Have Rehearsed After All, And You Should Have Seen The Negotiations With My Management.


Gordon in the morning: Snubbers

Oh, curse the Brits, and their late finish. What's a Gordon to do?

send in three writers to cover the event. Although that does end up with somewhat confused coverage:

By CARL STROUD,
JESS ROGERS
and SOPHIE BARNETT

Published: Today

SINGING sensation DUFFY last night became Britain’s new Princess of Pop — scooping three glorious gongs at the Brit Awards.

But while she shone Britain’s biggest bands, COLDPLAY and TAKE THAT, were sensationally SNUBBED.

Hang about... Take That were only up for one potential prize, weren't they?

And were Coldplay really "snubbed"? Are Gordon's three little helpers seriously suggesting that people voted to be rude to Chris Martin rather than, say, for someone they liked more? And, given that two of the Coldplay nominations - Best Live Band and Best Single - were public-voted, isn't that less of a snub, more of an indication that while Coldplay's fanbase might be very, very broad, it's incredibly shallow?

But, let's be fair, "Coldplay turn out to be liked rather than loved" isn't much of a headline.

Still, it'd be more understandable than trying to work out how we've woken up this morning with the impression that Duffy is a living legend:
Her three gongs were the biggest tally of all.

Or, indeed, what Carl, Jess and Sophie thought they meant when they wrote that line.

It's possible they weren't thinking much, given their ability to miss a story:
I Kissed A Girl singer KATY PERRY, looking sensational in a skin-tight black leather outfit, went home with the International Female statuette.

She looked sensational, did she? To the casual observer, she looked like she'd just parachuted in from a field hospital in Flanders and was about to complete her death from consumption.

Elsewhere, Toni Jones ("Associate Fashion Editor" - what does that job title actually mean? Is 'associate' a fashion term for 'don't tell her she's not actually the'?) watched the stars arrive and listed their clothes:
KATY PERRY drew gasps from fans in a pair of (way too) skin tight America Apparel trousers, a Hello Kitty encrusted corset by The Blondes and shoes by Dolce Vita.

It's horrible when your kitty encrusts your corset just before you go out the house, isn't it? Especially when you don't have time to change.

The Associate Fashion editor doesn't actually explain how skin tight trousers can be too tight - surely something is either skin tight or isn't; if a pair of trousers were tighter than skin tight wouldn't they have to be inside your flesh? No wonder Perry looked rough.

But, you're wondering, where was Gordon?

Well, while the others were watching the event, Gordon was working. Working hard to squeak some quotes out of famous people. People like Bono:
Exclusive - Bono: I want to be in Girls Aloud

Hey, Gordon, putting 'exclusive' on that must mean that's quite a scoop you've got there, and it's not just a throwaway gag that Bono was making, right?
ROCK legend BONO last night wowed the Brit Awards — and joked that his ambition is to be the sixth member of Best British Single winners GIRLS ALOUD.

Oh.

Something about Bono made Gordon feel a little funny. Can you spot what it was?
When Bono, who was wearing EYELINER, said he wanted “to be in Girls Aloud”, U2 bass player ADAM CLAYTON quipped: “Which one?”

Man wears make-up - sorry, MAKE-UP - before going on stage. That's certainly worth mentioning, Gordon. Let's hope nobody ever shows Smart footage of Billy Dainty in his pomp; it might just blow his mind.

Still, you know the great thing about Bono? If you're not really good at that interviewing lark, you can just switch your recorder on, transcribe the lot and - bingo! - page filled, job done:
“We see ourselves as contemporaries of bands like COLDPLAY, KINGS OF LEON, INTERPOL — and even Girls Aloud.

“We have been doing this a long time but I still get the same nerves about releasing an album as I did in the early days.

“The difference now is for new bands.

“They are under so much pressure to release their material for free.

“It’s different for us, we have a loyal fan base who buy our records.

“We can also make money from touring, thanks again to our fans, who go out and buy tickets.

“The danger in giving music away free is for writers.

“Where would Cole Porter be now?

“If you have to give away your work for free and you can’t play live, where do you earn the money?”

He added: “It’s an interesting time for music.

“Acts from this side of the pond are doing incredibly well.

“Tonight is a great example.”

Oh, bless: Bono not only thinks he's a young, thrusting band, he thinks that Coldplay and Girls Aloud are young bands, too.

You have to wonder if Gordon was nodding and trying to come up with some sort of response to Bono's random questions. ("Coal porter? Well... they still need coal for the power stations, so... um...")

But I know what you're wondering. Is there an awkward picture of Gordon hanging out with U2?

Funny you should ask.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Liveblog: Brits 2009

7.15pm
Of course, the rest of the entire bloody world will be Twittering their Brits experience, but No Rock is nothing if not a stickler for tradition. Our Brits coverage will be an old style blog.

Like in 2008, when they clashed with Torchwood

And like in 2007, when the Scissor Sisters were still well-known.

Still, Twitter is already bringing us the event in a way unimaginable when George Michael was alive - Holy Moly have just pushed a picture of their supper. Yum.

I'm about to have yams. See you after Corrie.

8.05
Last year, they warned in the continuity announcement that "anything could happen." This year, they warned there might be flashing lights.

8.07
It's the same bloody break bumpers of people miming songs they've been using now for - what - four years? A dull idea made ever duffer by repetition.

U2 get things under way, doing what might be a new song from the album, or possibly a pisspoor cover of Subterranean Homesick Blues.

First prize - British female - goes to Duffy. "It's lucky my mum didn't have a boy" observes Duffy as she picks up the prize.

Horne and Corden are dressed in what's meant to be lady clothes, but just looks like they've been hosing down a sausage factory.

Bloody hell, they're already on to Best International Female. Lionel Ritchie is doing the honours- literally - for this one. "British women are taking over" he announces, which sort of suggests International Female is like a consolation prize. He could try breaking the statue to make it even less of an honour.

Pink gets the most (only?) cheers of the nomination reel.

8.15
Katy Perry wins. The only possible reason for this was to allow Matt Lucas to leer into the camera.

As she picks up her prize, the audio soundtrack goes off - with a 'replay' style 'Audio muted' logo in the top right hand corner. They must have carried out swearing coverage, as they left in the bit where she basically admitted they'd told her she'd won in order to get her in.

James Corden's slathering over Kylie doesn't really come across as anything other than a bit wrong in front of Earls Court.

Girls Aloud are on, with ten male dancers in white tie and tails. The five men who don't get to dance with a Girl have to make do with a large pink ostrich feather. The Girls themselves sound rather wan.

8.20
Sweeping The Nation are twittering this - suggesting Duffy might want to, you know, prepare something for picking up awards in case she needs to do some more thanking.

Backstage, Fearne Cotton has got a caravan, Duffy and Simon Pegg. Fearne is concentrating on talking to Duffy rather than, you know, the one who might be able to say something worth hearing.

It's time for us to start the shortlist for best single - Scouting For Girls are on it. And something called Better In Time by Leona Lewis - she had another single, did she?

Fearne spends about five minutes trying to persuade us ITV aren't ripping us off with the phonelines.

Ooh... LastFM itunes app in the ad break.

8.25
What the hell is that Cheesetring advert? I haven't been more frightened since I realised there were just men inside the daleks.

Horne and Corden have now changed into suits. Their bits are going down well, at least with the bloke playing in the sound of crowd noise.

Alex James has popped in to give British breakthrough - "Radio One supported", of course. Scouting v Adele v Duffy v Ting Tings v Last Shadows. All these bands already seem as old as... well, Alex James.

Oh. Duffy has won this one, too. Although if she *is* the best female, it probably follows she'd have to be the biggest breakthrough. Good lord, if you can't admire their taste, can we at least applaud the Brits' internal logic this year?

Duffy still hasn't got anything to say. Oh, hang on... she's thanking "radio" and "airtime."

8.30
Horner and Corner do a joke about free downloads disproving the existence of God - but isn't it possible that the Christian God, who threw money changers out the temple, might approve of free downloading?

Coldplay are on now. Chris Martin is hopping about on one leg, as a one-man tribute to the Cook and Moore Tarzan sketch. They're tossing rose petals down on them. Or maybe its poppies? They could show separate confetti showers on ITV2.

8.35
On twitter, Yahoo UK entertainment is suggesting that Martin already looks like he's bored singing these songs.

Thanks to Simon in the comments for explaining that Girls Aloud were supposed to be pretending to be naked - an idea which fails completely with cameras mounted at a higher point than the Earls Court audience eyeline.

Chris Matin says thanks thanks.

Fearne has got Jamies Oliver and Cullum backstage. "Duffy won't win best British Male" snorts Cullum - a gag Alison Moyet first did back when this was part of Nationwide. The Q Dot suggest we're seconds from an ad break.

8.40
It's not even the same old idea for the break bumpers - these are the same bloody ones they were using last year, aren't they?

Twitter, as one, has splurged a "KILL THEM BOTH" rage at the Two Jamies.

Despot wins for observing "Jamie Cullum looks like a cross between Jack White and a potato."

8.42
Oh, they've given Kylie something else to do - although, again, it's mainly standing there and letting Horne pretend he can't control himself.

Natalie Imbrooglywoogly - from the 1990s - is doing international band giving. Will it go to the Fleet Foxes? Will it buggery. It'll be the Kings Of Leon, won't it? Why are they even bothering with the shortlist?

The winner is... Kings Of Leon. Well, what a surprise. How lucky they're here to play some songs.

Fearne tries to suggest that the people who vote for the Brits are "the great and the good", although actually they're the people who spend most of their time smothering music.

The KOL ask "what is going on?" and remember to thank Columbia.

8.45
A joke at the expense of Craig David. Cutting-edge stuff.

The two Jamies have now emerged from the 'tent' to give the Best British Male solo artist.

Have I mentioned how bloody annoying the Johnny Vegas bits are (he's the Alan Dedicot for the evening).

This award is the one which should have been closed because there were no actual nominees with a point to it. And on which betting had been closed because Paul Weller had won and it leaked.

Adele gives him the prize on a video, which it appears to have taken three dozen takes to get right. We're shown the outtakes, presumably because they were so poor Alright On The Night passed on them.

8.48
The BBC Ents Team (who sound like something from It Aint Arf Hot, Mum) point out that Weller is only the second person to win a proper prize after getting a lifetime achievement award - that sort of fact is worth the licence fee on its own, surely?

Duffy is now earning her four awards by singing one of her songs. You can see why she gets annoyed with Dusty Springfield comparisons - it sets a bar she's never going to quite make.

Ooh... the picture just froze. Best Moment So Far.

8.50
"Natalie, you presented an award to one of your favourite bands... how much do you love Kings Of Leon?" - Fearne. She's like Robin Day in a short skirt.

The joy of following the Twitter #brits hash is somewhat ruined by the presence of a spammer pushing junk with the hashtag.

8.55
The Hovis through the ages ad and the Heinz Beanz archive mash up in the same ad break? Are we being sucked backwards to the 1960s?

Hope and Glory aren't, at least, as bad as The Osbournes, but the constant played-in soundtrack almost makes it like they're doing a show for a totally different audience.

Some boxer called Joe has tuned up to give a prize for International album - is he the one that Noel Gallagher really, really, really loves?

Another prize for the Kings Of Leon. And they make a bloody meal of sloping down to pick it up. Come on, guys, there's a schedule to keep to here. If you take too long to get on stage, we're going to end up with credits running over the Pet Shop Boys.

Kings Of Leon thank England for the prize. Dude, there's a reason they're called the Brits, you know.

And they thank bloody Columbia again.

People are now running through the audience with lamps. Exciting! Is it a raid? Is it the police? Are Jack and the boys going to set fire to the stage?

Oh, no, it's Take That from the Marks and Spencers adverts.

9.00
Take That are wearing spectacles and floating in the air. Like secretaries who only need to be told they're beautiful and, simultaneously, rescued by the fire brigade.

Actually, that platform doesn't look too safe, to be honest. Health and safety, anyone?

9.05
CMQueen suggests that the spaceship is a dig at Robbie Williams.

Ooh, they're ascending now. Hope they don't win best live show, otherwise they're going to need rope ladders to get down.

Nick Frost presenting now - probably glad to not be forced to back up Simon Pegg, although it might be a sign they're running short of people willing to head out to give awards in return for a nasty meal and a goodie bag. This is the best live prize.

Is it just me, or does every time Scouting For Girls pop up in a nominations clip, does your belief in British music die a little more?

Iron Maiden have won this prize - they pick it up on film. "We can't be there" they explain, listing international tour dates for the overseas sales. When did Iron Maiden last win a prize, exactly?

The Maiden do a bit of business with Eddie zapping them all into smoke, which must count as the most "one for the fans" Brits moment ever.

9.10
David Hasselhoff is on now - tomorrow night, he's doing the One Show. It's all go for him, isn't it? He seems to think that we care what he might have to say.

He's only introducing the best british band prize, but he's written a speech as if it was first contact.

Wouldn't it be nice if Elbow won this? Unlikely, but nice.

Oh... well, that's a surprise. It *is* Elbow.

"It's nice to know quality music gets recognised, even if it takes ten years or so" says Fearne - i think she means Elbow's success, but it sounds like she's suggesting you only get a decent artist winning a Brit once a decade.

Guy Garvey has the air of a man who had thought all he'd get this evening would be the free beer.

9.15
Twitter applauding the Elbow win. Kings Of Leon come on. Time for a pee, I think.

9.20
You see? Dull but inappropriate personal information can thrive on long form blogs as well as it does on Twitter.

The Kings Of Leon's performance is the only straight one so far tonight - and after all the costumes, and saluting and feathers, it's refreshing to see a band who are happy to perform as a band. Pity they're just not very good.

Hasslehoff flirting with Fearne Cotton. Who knew there was a 'down' from Holmes and YoYo slathering over Kylie?

9.22
Rory Cellan-Jones is apparently using the Brits as background noise: "perfect TV to watch when doing something else(blogging about myspace), requires no concentration whatsoever".

Another Craig David joke. Perhaps not listening might work for us all.

The Critics Choice award now - pre-ordained to go to Florence and the Machine. In return, they get three seconds of a video played. "There is no machine" observes Shawndra, as ITV blank out the soundtrack again. If the critics really love them - and they should - couldn't they have a, you know, slot to play some music? Wouldn't that be a good idea?

But they have to chase Florence off, to make room for Gok Wan. "Do you look good naked?" asks Gok. It's the music industry, Gok. You don't want to picture the head of A&R fromanywhere anything other than fully dressed.

International male, is it? Do they check Beck is still alive before they pop him on the shortlist each year?

Kanye West couldn't even be arsed to find a decent place to film the acceptance video - it looks like he's in his garage.

"It's time" warns Kylie "for one of those unique collaborations that can only happen at the Brits."

Ting Tings and Estelle, then.

The Ting Tings, hilariously, in today's Guardian claim to still feel like outsiders. Estelle seems to have just been told to sing her song over the top of Shut Up And Let Me Go. they said at the start this was the first time they'd performed together - who knew that meant they hadn't even rehearsed?

9.30
How far doesn't this work? MDG27 is begging for the Klaxons and Rihanna gto come back.

Ouch - an awful crunch of gears into That's Not My Name. You'd have thought they'd at least get Estelle to do the singing bit... oh, she just has, and she's out of tune.

9.35
ChuckDarw1n pointing out Twitter is putting him off the idea of watching the Brits on TV.

Alan Carr is giving the best single prize - the only one that we're to suppose hadn't been leaked beforehand, anyway. Nice to hear a reference to High And Mighty, the bigfatbloke trouser shop.

What have the people done to us? Its... Girls Aloud, winning for Promises. "It's official" says Fearne "Girls Aloud are national treasures." Because they won an ITV phone vote? Don't they only exist because of an ITV phone vote?

You're doing a boring list of thanks. You're never having an award again. "This", apparently, "is the cherry on the cake."

9.40
"It's the one we've all been waiting for" says Kylie... has the last hour and forty minutes been nothing more than an empty sham, them? [Runs through Sky+] Oh.

Tom Jones has come on, trying to make a lewd remark about Girls Aloud but accidentally winding up sounding quite sweet.

This is album of the year, by the way.

Maiko Miyabi has it about right:
Tom Jones = hasn't it been a great night? Audience = indifferent.

Bloody hell, Duffy wins again.

Fearne puts it into context, with all these awards she's entered an exalted plane occupied by the likes of Robbie Williams and, erm, The Darkness. So: scrubbing floors and hiding from blinking lights in twelve months, then?

Duffy is trying to claim that she paid her dues - "I travelled this country playing my songs to old ladies who are probably watching this saying that they'd heard my songs"... okay, we were wrong, Duffy. Don't prepare anything. You're better winging it.

Fearne announces the next performance will go down in Brits history. Shouldn't we at least wait until it's happened before popping it into the history books?

9.44
Scott Mills off the radio is chivving the Girls Aloud: "Sarah Harding seems to be having fun anyway. May be the others could follow her lead..." Only it's not Scott, of course, he's too grand to update his own Twitterfeed.

9.46
"How many of the top ten bands are British?" asks the trail for the News At Ten. Please keep watching! Nobody ever watches us! We'll talk about pop, if you like that.

Brandon Flowers looks like Maxwell Demon as he comes on to give a prize to the Pet Shop Boys for still going. Flowers is detailing this one time he was in a record shop trying to choose between The Pet Shop Boys and The Smiths and... oh, he chose the Pet Shop Boys. Has Flowers *really* always believed Chris Lowe to be some "sort of wizard"? Really?

Oh, please just bring them on.

They're accepting a big floating heads on the screen! This is what we want! And now Lady GaGa has come out of their giant floating head. (No, not really, it's just Chris in a wig.)

if you must do gimmicks, make them great gimmicks.

Louis Walsh looks confused and a little frightened.

Unfortunately, it sounds a little less than Earls Court filling.

Suburbia.

9.50
Neil Tennant's coat looks a bit like a DIY bondage outfit. Not self-bondage; bondage with DIY equipment.

You have to wonder if they should try giving this award to Erasure next year. Clearly, nobody under the age of thirty is going to make it to the end of the event, so inviting along someone to do a bit of a Stars On 45 of their greatest, mostly forgotten hits is quite a nice way to end.

Go West has brought more marching people onto the stage - perhaps they're being drilled by U2 backstage?

9.55
Here's Lady GaGa, singing What Have I Done To Deserve This, as, erm Gordon Smart didn't announce exclusively in the Sun. Presumably, though, she'll have to come back to do more than just a couple of lines?

Brandon Flowers is now on, having a crack at making It's A Sin a little less in tune. He bought a Pet Shops Boy best of back when he was a kid, you know.

9.57
Actually... I think I'd have preferred a reminder of a couple of the truly great songs they've done, rather than being reminded of snatches of absolutely every thing they ever released.

Another shot of Matt Lucas, and David Walliams jiggling about pretending that he doesn't think he's the Chris Lowe of his double act.

GaGa back for West End Girls. Did I mention she was wearing a waste-paper basket on her head?

10.00
And there's the closing credits... is nobody going to actually say goodbye to us? That's just bad manners, surely?

So, what was that, then? Not a car-crash like last years, just rolling on, in a safe way. And even the Pet Shop Boys felt like they wound up not going anywhere - particularly with all the excitement over the collaborations turning into little more than a couple of lines being sung along. And surely Neil Tenant knows that you need to have a crescendo to end on? Some balloons or something?

Jemima Kiss tweets "The Brits is just a dirty great marketing exercise. Fifty teens at the front & the rest of the audience is suits. I prefer Dicky Atten'bro." - but she forgets to mention the fifty teens are hand-picked from the Brits school.

Actually, that was missing this year, wasn't it? Normally they throw in one or two mentions of the Brits school, to make it look like the event is a charitable bash, and to pretend the UK music industry is investing in talent - not a word this year. Why so quiet?

10.15
There's now a Brits hashdictionary entry.


Gennaro Castaldo Watch: U2 have released a record

Excitement from Gennaro Castaldo, as HMV plans to keep stores open past midnight on the first sale day of U2's album.

Presumably that's to stop customers going elsewhere to... other... record shops. Or maybe they're going to sell it at midnight so that the elderly U2 audience can buy their records in peace as the new HMV customer base will be tucked up in bed.

Gennaro, though, sees this as some sort of historic moment:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "We have had an incredible amount of interest in the new album with a considerable number of pre-orders secured recently."

Fans will be able to pick up the first copies of the recording in HMV shops in Dublin's Grafton Street and Galway as soon as they open at midnight tomorrow (Thursday), he said.

"We advise fans to come down early to be in with a chance to receive a U2 goody bag," he added.

So... getting the album early isn't really enough of a draw, you still have to bribe people with a free gift to actually persuade them to turn up, then?

Meanwhile, Gennaro has been casting an eye over his new, expanded kingdom as Zavvi sells up:
Gennaro Castaldo, chief press officer at HMV, said he was confident two HMV stores in the same stretch of road would "complement" each other well.

And he assured us there are no plans to close the original HMV.


He said: "The Croydon HMV is one of our largest but we still feel there is enough demand for a second store of roughly the same proportions.

"We will not be closing the current HMV store. Even though both stores will carry the same branding and the same name, they will have their own character."

He added: "We are very excited about our new acquisition.

"Croydon is a good site for us. It is a major centre with sufficient demand to open a second store."

How does that work, then? You've got a brand, and yet you can have two stores with the same brand but different characters?


Duff and Duffier: That Coke ad again

Sorry to return to the Duffy Diet Coke ad, but it's just appeared online:



It's even worse when you can see it, isn't it?

There's even more "explanation" of the "concept" on the Creative Review blog:

“It used to be about girls using their breaks to ogle construction workers, but now they’ve got better things to do than sit around and wait for semi-naked men,” says Jonny Ng, creative on the ad. “Diet Coke’s now about inspiring women to take control and do the right thing for themselves.”

Wow. It's not about making you a little less thirsty, then?
Duffy was chosen for the ad because “she’s the epitome of the Diet Coke girl”, continues Ng. “Aspirational, ambitious but knows when to duck out and do her own thing. In the ad she celebrates taking a moment to herself by belting out Sammy Davis Jr.’s ‘I’ve got to be me’.”

She celebrates "taking a moment to herself"? Does Ng actually listen to himself when he's saying stuff like this?

And if she's so busily "doing her own thing", how come she's caving into the demands of society by 'dieting' with a Diet Coke? Huh?

Actually, it looks like she's stolen a bicycle and is celebrating that. Diet Coke: The choice for bicycle thieves.


A love of The Smiths excuses all ills

A journalist springs into print to tell David Cameron he's got no reason to apologise for liking Morrissey:

Personally, I am tremendously heartened when a political leader actually demonstrates genuine and quite sophisticated cultural tastes, instead of getting spin doctors to compile their iPod playlists for them (with every song a political message). Or, like Gordon Brown, dropping clunking references to contemporary popular favourites such as the Arctic Monkeys and Harry Potter when we all know he is really ensconced in his study reading economic history and perhaps listening to a 'Best Of' classical compilation that his wife bought him for Christmas.

When I ran into David Cameron at the BBC once, I asked him what was the last CD he bought. Without a moment's hesitation, he named a new album from an obscure Californian band called Modest Mouse, who had been working with Morrissey's old Smiths' collaborator Johnny Marr (who played every date on Red Wedge's original tour). I am not sure what credibility it gives him to tackle global economic meltdown, but he is certainly the hippest party leader.

Of course, this applause for being "hip" - daddio - might be slightly less of an endorsement since it comes from Neil McCormick, in the Daily Telegraph. It's a bit like having your shoes praised by someone wearing socks and sandals.

And, really, does liking The Smiths make you hip? They split twenty-two ago. They ran out of steam before Thatcher did. It might mark you out as being able to spot a good tune, but it's identical to telling someone in the year the Smiths split that loving The Byrds showed you to be up to date with the hottest trends.


Economic blight: Touch & Go goes down

More bottom-line misery for the alternative music world: Touch And Go Records is ceasing to release any new material.

Touch & Go has had a thirty-year run, releasing work by a mighty army of acts - !!!, TV On The Radio, Big Black, Sally Timms and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Time Out Chicago is reporting that a formal press release confirming the collapse will be released later today.


It's what Kurt would have wanted, probably

The gentle ruffle of a PR email brings news of an attempt to cash-in on Kurt Cobain's, erm, 42nd birthday:

On Friday, February 20th, former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain would have turned 42. The iconic alternative-rock legend, who died tragically in 1994, was an innovator and trendsetter, not just musically but stylistically as well, wearing a succession of thrift-store, punk-rock or homemade T-shirts. This year you can remember Cobain wearing one of the singular, striking shirts he incorporated into his own unique sense of fashion. Choose between Kurt's ironic "Grunge is Dead" shirt; his "Hi, How Are You," shirt sporting a design from outside musician Daniel Johnston; his vintage "Motorbike" shirt, sporting the slogan "Live to Ride, Ride to Live"; his "Sounds" shirt, featuring the logo from the magazine of the same name; and his "Olympia Beer" shirt, a nod to one of the music scenes that ultimately fostered Nirvana.

Hopefully, the puzzlement at why anyone would start to treat a 42nd birthday like a bicentenary would have stopped most people reading on to through the rest of it.

The thicket of 'why not imitate his homemade-thrift shop look by, erm buying a t-shirt from a tshirt company' would probably have proved enough of a logical conundrum to claim other travellers moving wearily through the release.

Any who survived would have perished, at their own hands, at the description of Daniel Johnston as an "outside musician". Isn't an outside musician a busker?

Still, there you have it: Pay tribute to a man with a unique look by dressing like you've chosen to go as him to a fancy dress party.


The long, slow death of Zavvi finally ends

If you didn't know better, you might assume that Ernst & Young deliberately chose Brits day to tug the plug on what remains of Zavvi.

There will be a few stores with a short-term future: a further five stores have been picked up by HMV, who will rebrand them and carry on, while former Zavvi Chief Executive Simon Douglas has decided to have another go: he's formed a company called Head Entertainment and picked up five Zavvi stores. That must have been a weird experience:

- so, is this a good business to buy into?
- oh, yes. it was only mismanagement... that... sorry, difficult trading conditions that led to them to going down.

The other stores, though, will be shuttered and the Zavvi name will disappear from the high streets. It's probably not even going to make a Trivial Pursuit question.


The Great Gambo: Like Adrian Juste, only more revered

Paul Gambaccini is quickly morphing into a one-man Daily Mail, with his persistent sniping at the BBC. Admittedly, he was pretty poorly treated when he was dumped from Radio One, but you'd think he'd be over that by now, surely?

He's now calling for Chris Moyles to be sacked. Not for the sexism or homophobia, or even for being a good two years past his peak. Oh, no. It was the Who Do You Think You Are gag:

"I find his continual presence on Radio 1 unacceptable. Chris Moyles should be gone," Gambaccini said in a lecture. "His recent comments about Auschwitz involved real people and their ancestors. That is no joking matter for them. To encourage this or sit by whilst it happens is unprofessional. He has done it so many times. He has no sense of responsibility."

But the Auschwitz joke wasn't about "people and their relatives", was it? Wasn't it more a dig at the way family tragedy gets repackaged for reality television? You know, if Chris Moyles was being offered up as a pinata, I'd be breaking out the hardwood sticks. But it seems a little unfair to suggest that he be sacked for pointing out how uncomfortable turning real life into light entertainment can be. It wasn't a holocaust joke.


Duffy and duffer: Flat

Scientist reckon that apspartame can cause brain damage, although there is little evidence that drinking products which contain it - like Diet Coke - will impair judgement in human consumers.



Oh.

Yes, that's Duffy, pitching Diet Coke. Holy Moly has seen it:

[It] shows Duffy leaving an audience waiting for an encore so that she can borrow a bike and go to a supermarket to get a Diet Coke while singing the Sammy Davis Jnr song 'I've Got To Be Me'.

Coke have said that they picked the song because it "celebrates women's right to express their individuality and take control".

That's exactly what Sammy Davis Junior had in mind when he was singing it, too. That's a fact.

And how better to express your individuality by looking like a half-wit in order to sell fizzy pop, eh?


Labels try to throw weight at Irish ISPs

Because Eircom rolled over and signed up for three strikes, the music industry has now decided to push its luck and try to insist the rest of the industry falls into line:

Irish Times says EMI, Sony (NYSE: SNE), UMG and WMG have written to companies including mobile operator 3 Ireland and hotspot outfit Bitbuzz warning of legal action within seven days if they don’t follow suit. The letter also hints of further action to come regarding the blocking of torrent trackers like The Pirate Bay.

Oh, yes. Some more ruinously expensive lawsuits built on shaky half-understood legal principles. That's exactly what the record companies should be doing.

The labels seem to believe that an out-of-court settlement forms a legal precedent. Perhaps they've had to let the lawyers go and are now running their legal activities with nothing more than a dog-eared Law Made Simple to guide them?


Lil' Wayne getting legal woe

Proving that not everyone breathes a sigh of relief when Lil'Wayne doesn't turn up when he's expected, a Rochester promoter after he failed to play three gigs there.

Or, rather, one gig he failed to play three times:

Promoter Ed Strickland told democratandchronicle.com : “This is a business. I have a commitment to my investors, the public. A lot of money — TV, radio, print — went to make this thing happen.”

Although, actually, it didn't happen, did it?


Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: Ice Cube

Overcompensating records Lil' Ice Cube's Bestest Day Ever:

Two girls that I like called me. Then I went to the park to play basketball.


Rafferty: safe and well

Gerry Rafferty has responded to the "missing for six months" stories. He's fit and working again:

A statement given to Channel 4 News said: "Contrary to reports Gerry is extremely well and has been living in Tuscany for the last six months.

"At his house there, which is situated just north of Florence, he continues to compose and record new songs and music.

"He would like to send a personal thank-you to all of his fans who have expressed their concern for his wellbeing and he hopes to release a new album of his most recent work in the summer of this year."

It's nice to have a happy ending for once.


Vera Lynn takes on the BNP

There is a downside to songs coming out of copyright, then: you can't stop them being hijacked by fascists. Vera Lynn is angry that the BNP have put two of her songs onto a compilation of songs that are raising funds for their "political" doings.

Perhaps showing the slim grasp they have on history, the BNP have included White Cliffs Of Dover - although you have to admit there's a certain irony in the BNP circulating music which soundtracked the defeat of slightly better organised fascists. Let's hope it has the same effect.


Darkness at 3AM: They've got the other one

Hey, if Gordon is putting the weight of Bizarre behind one of Ant and Dec, isn't that an unfair fight? How can Dec hope to compete unless he, too, can have some awkward, badly posed photographs with clunking gossip columnists?

Phew. Thank god for the 3AM Girls, rising to the occasion with not just an awkward shot, but one that is out of focus and features a guy who we spent some time peering at before we realised he was meant to be a George Michael lookalike.


Gordon in the morning: Your cut-out-and-throw-away guide to the Brits

It's Brits day, the most important day in the year for record company executives and Gordon has published a small guide to everything you need to know.

Like Coldplay being involved, for example. That tells you all you need to know.

Coldplay are thinking of doing something nice for their fans. Chris Martin is worried about the high cost of tickets:

“What we want to do is try to giveaway a live album for free.

“We’re playing a lot of shows in the summer and I think what we would like to do is — bearing in mind the recession we are in — record the live album then give it as a gift.

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“We are just trying to work out how to do that.

“It’s obviously a bit tricky in terms of record contracts and things but it would be great.

“It’s a way of saying thank you.

“It’s a tough economy and people are paying a lot of money for tickets.

“We are trying to work out a way that, when you hand your ticket in at the door, you get given the recording.

“It would be such a cool thing to do.

“We just feel really grateful at the moment for all the support we get from our fans.”

Actually, that is quite a nice gesture, but to be honest: if you're worried that your fans are paying a large price for tickets for the gig, why not just drop the ticket price?

You know who the real losers will be, though? The poor music lovers who've been dragged to a Coldplay gig by loved ones or children who actually like the band and will not only have to sit through a show, but will have an album of live Coldplay foisted on them, too.

Coldplay's life right now? It's crazy, right Chris?
Chris adds: “We are touring until November. We fly straight to Australia after the Brits, which is crazy."

God, yeah. That's absolutely crazy. Getting into a plane and flying across to do some work in a foreign country. It's not like people in every field of business do that every day, is it?

With a straight face, the Kings Of Leon try to pretend that the Brits mean more to them than The Grammys:
Frontman Caleb says: “We always knew The Brits was the Grammys of the UK. So we basically knew that was our Grammy. It was always the biggest shot that we had."

Actually, that sounds more like they'd assumed the qualifying bar had been set lower for winning a Brit. Still, it's nice that Caleb knows to flatter the provincial audience.

It's funny that one-third of Gordon's Brit coverage is handed over to the Kings Of Leon, though - wasn't Gordon saying just the other day how there's so much major British talent you can hardly find space to fit it all in?

The Pet Shop Boys interview is palmed off to Chris Stroud - somehow, had Gordon written it, I doubt you'd have got a plug for the Friendly Fires in there. And you can't go wrong with Neil and Chris:
Singer Neil, 54, explains: “Chris never usually gets excited about awards. When we won for West End Girls, he watched the event from the comfort of his living room.

“He’s coming this time, though. If you’ve got the entire music industry saying they quite like what you’ve done over the years, you can’t be too cynical.”

Chris, 49, says: “I thought they only gave this kind of award to rock bands.

“It was a real surprise. But it’s also our silver jubilee this year. So I reckon we should stage some street parties to mark the occasion.”

Gordon, meanwhile, is sticking himself in the middle of his story about Ant and Dec releasing 'competing' charity singles for charity. The pair are trying to help out cash-strapped ITV, and raise awareness of the plight of a channel too often ignored in these days of well-crafted entertainment. "It's all too easy to turn away from ITV, especially when times are hard and you feel you've heard all their stories too many times. We just want people to give them a second chance" explained Ant.

Gordon's teamed up with Ant, or possibly Dec, to throw his support behind his record rather than Dec's. Or possibly Ant's. It's not like he's been assigned one by the PR team, though. Oh, no:
Dec is a good man, but he lost the vote of me and every other bloke in the UK when he started dating Sky Sports stunner GEORGIE THOMPSON.

"Oh, yes, I shan't be buying that young man's charity record, as he has apparently had a date with somebody I've never heard off from the football programme."
Here's Gordon and TV's Ant "at Bizarre HQ". Gordon is explaining the ancient craft of journalism to Dec - "and then you click on the little pair of scissors, and then come back here and click on the pot of glue, and change all the bits where it says 'Heat has been told' to 'I, Gordon, have been told'..."


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indieobit: Steve Dullaghan

Today's Guardian carries an obituary of Steve Dullaghan, bassist with The Primitives.

Dullaghan was a founder member of The Primitives, when the band formed in 1985. He remained a member as original singer Keiron McDermott was moved over to make room for Tracy Tracy, and co-wrote many of the band's songs. When the group was at its peak - the album Lovely had sold a promising number of copies, and they'd just returned from a US tour - Dullaghan chose to step down.

He continued to make music - partly for money, but also for pleasure. He linked-up with fellow Primitives survivor Pete Tweedie in a band called Hate. Steve then returned to Nocturnal Babies, his pre-Primitives band; later, working under the names Big Origami and Means To An End.

Away from performance, Dullaghan would have a major influence on hundreds of other musician's lives. He'd been a strenuous campaigner for the introduction of the New Deal For Musicians, an early measure introduced by the Blair government which attempted to provide a way of allowing unemployed musicians to effectively get benefits while working on their skills. (The idea being that much of the 1980s success of UK music had been funded by guitarists and drummers drawing the dole while honing their skills; New Deal had meant the next generation had been forced to spend their days 'actively seeking work'.)

It's clear from both the Guardian obituary and memories left on the Coventry Music History blog that he was well-loved, and will be much-missed.


Sirius XM keeps alive... for now

Having spent much of the past couple of days teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Sirius XM has taken a massive loan from DirecTV owner Liberty Media.

That's not the sort of loan where, having taken the money, you then find the person who gave you the lifeline sitting in your living room, wearing your robe, smoking your cigars and making doe eyes at your wife. Oh no, no, no.


Morrissey rejected

The One Show has just revealed that after Morrissey called The Blows the rough family in his street on last night's programme, one of the family got in touch, bemused and somewhat upset. "Joan Blow said she used to swing Morrissey about" (for fun, presumably.)

Morrissey is probably already preparing the "I was misquoted" response.


"Let us be rubbish, and we'll give you a national rubbish station" pledges Commercial Radio

The Radio Centre, the body which represents "the UK commercial radio industry" (which is, what, two companies and bit of the Guardian?) has come up with a nifty idea to save DAB:

The confidential report by Ingenious Consulting, seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk, said commercial radio would launch a 24-hour national news and speech station and a national music-based entertainment service on the troubled digital audio broadcasting (DAB) platform.

Blimey. That's awfully good of you, people. Investing in a solid product will certainly help DAB and, by providing a quality service, attract advertising which will enable you to make a profit.

That is the idea, isn't it?

You just see this as a commercial deal?

Oh:
In return for the extra commitment to DAB, the report urged the government and media regulator Ofcom to slash the number of hours that small commercial stations are required to produce and allow more co-locating of small-scale broadcasters.

In other words, in order to launch a product that may or may not have a commercial future, the companies what the already pissweak rules which keep local radio vaguely local to be thrown away.

Now, it's not that I don't trust these guys - but does anyone really trust them? Isn't this like when someone comes to your door and offers to clean your garden for a tenner, pockets the tenner, and then disappears? Surely not even Ofcom is dim enough to believe that the commercial news and talk station would remain delivering a premium service for more than about ten seconds after they were allowed to shed off the last of their obligations to the local areas they were supposed to be serving?

What sort of approach is it to say "hey, we can't afford to deliver a proper service in Oldham, or Hastings, or Brigadoon, but we could, somehow, offer you a top-quality pair of 24 hour national stations if you let us drop our obligations"?

Here's an idea - why not try going up to the police and offering to do a spot of forensic work for them if they ignore the law about not stealing stuff from WH Smiths?


Andy Bell's slipping a crusty cobbler to the Cheeky Girls

Andy Bell isn't just a pretty face. When he's not gyrating in a rubber-tight tshirt, he's flogging bread in Rye:

I help out at this market stall in Rye and we get the Cheeky Girls coming to buy bread. They haven't got a clue who I am, I was thinking that hopefully the penny might drop because they've seen me on TV or something. How sad I am - I thought maybe I should make them a CD of suggestions of songs that would be good for their voice. Some people do recognise me when I'm working on the stall, and they think that I'm not making music anymore and that's my new thing.

Given that David Van Day was flogging hotdogs along the coast in Brighton a couple of years back, you could start to put together a good meal from 80s pop stars if you live in Sussex. Perhaps Marilyn is offering his clotted cream up in Ditchling.


Gennaro Castaldo Watch: We owe it all to Simon Cowell

The small shedloads of albums sold by Coldplay has seen the Telegraph contacting Gennaro Castaldo to find out why British acts are apparently doing so well:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said that the success of British acts may be related to the impact of Simon Cowell in the US while the "outstanding success by Amy Winehouse has also acted as a catalyst."

He added: “The global music industry tends to operate in cycles, and right now British artists are very much in the ascendancy - both creatively and commercially. British acts dominated the recent Grammy awards, and they are enjoying the kind of influence over the US music scene that their American counterparts once used to enjoy over the UK charts.”

Poppin Corny, who brings this to our attention, points out:
Hate to disagree with HMV's "Chief Quote Executive" but not sure Coldplay, Radiohead, Adele etc would put their success at the Grammys down to Simon Cowell. That insight brings a whole new meaning to 'Britain Got Talent'.

It does also make you wonder how watching Amy Winehouse teeter about helps other British artists - is it like when you go to the seaside and the pier's closed for repair, so you go to the aquarium instead? "The Amy Winehouse is broken, kids, so we're going to try the Duffy instead"?

Still, however ridiculous Castaldo's claims might be, at least he's not the bloke from the IFPI:
A spokesman from the IFPI said: "British artists had a great year in 2008, reflecting the continued investment in talent in the UK. Acts like Coldplay, Duffy and Leona Lewis have managed to find an audience worldwide because of their first-class music and the support their labels have been able to give them internationally."

Shouldn't that be the BPI saying that, rather than the global body? And does this mean that in the leaner years in the past for British acts, it's been because the labels have been underinvesting? Does that mean labels overseas haven't been ponying up as much cash as before? Aren't they exactly the same companies?


Kanye, where's your trousers?

Kanye West is annoyed that everybody is wearing the same trousers. It's just not hip-hop:

"I see a lot of people wearing the exact same uniform and there's nothing wrong with that. But at what point did hip-hop get so many rules? Hip-hop was about breaking rules. I'm one of the most hip-hop people on earth because I say and do exactly what the f--- I wanna do and say, regardless of what type of backlash I get. The backlash I get right now — for dressing the way I dress or saying what I say or making music I do — that's the same backlash I got in high school for being hip-hop. I was always two steps ahead and I thought that was what hip-hop was. The whole baggy jeans versus tight jeans thing — Run DMC, Fat Boys, they wore tight jeans with gyms shoes and that was hip-hop. Then people started wearing big jeans and that was supposed to be hip-hop. When I first did big jeans, people said that was 'skater.' Now you think 'skater' and that's super tight jeans. ... They keep trying to label me but the labels won't stick."

If Kanye really hates the idea of everyone wearing the same clothes, isn't that going to make his mass-produced clothing line a bit of an embarrassment to him?

Still, it's almost touching to see Kanye learning the cold, hard, truth - that the more a youth subculture becomes a culture, the more rigid it will become. Like punk, or like poor, ruined Goth, if you have a movement which is defined by its uniqueness, that unique element will be watered down somewhat as more and more people seek to show their allegiance. Revolutions don't always eat their children, but they will always declaw them.

One other point: sure, The Fat Boys wore tight jeans. But they didn't have a great deal of choice, did they?


Music is better than sex

Some interesting numbers in the Marrakesh Records youth survey, the headline one being that - given a choice - British youngsters would rather go without sex than without music:

60% of 16-24 year olds would rather go without sex than music for a week. This increases to 70% for 16-19 year olds.

It's a pity they didn't pursue this line of questioning further: Kasabian, or your mate's sister? Ringtones or a handjob?

This, though, is more surprising:
Music consumption remains ubiquitous within the age group. 75% have watched a music video online in the last 3 months, 70% bought a CD, 62% listened to music on their mobile phone, 52% bought a music download and 45% played
a music game on a games console.

Seventy per cent bought a CD? Like, recently? Isn't the prevailing wisdom that young people never buy music at all, and when they do, it's digital? And yet here's a survey that sees seven out of ten people aged between 'late onset puberty' and 'too old to admit they still live with their parents' hoofing off to buy an old-style plastic disc with music on it?

Ah, but will they pay for this stuff?
61% of the age group do not feel they should have to pay for the music they listen to.

This is more marked amongst 15-19 year olds, of whom 69% do not feel they should have to pay.

Surely this doesn't automatically translate as "believe all music should be free", though? Clearly, there must be some cross-over between the two-thirds who don't feel they should pay, and the half who are buying downloads.

It turns out that the question was crucially different to 'should you pay for music' - it was 'should you pay for music you listen to on the internet' - so it's not about 'all for free' so much as 'free within certain contexts.'

There's also this confused question:
Do you feel it is morally acceptable to download music for free from the internet?

What, ever? It's perhaps more surprising that 34% said no rather than 66% saying yes - does that pious one-third really believe that there's never a moral argument? Would this not have been more interesting with the words "without the performer's permission" attached?

It's a confusion which shows itself again when the figure of "43%of music owned has not been paid for" is thrown into the mix - what exactly does that mean? That they've hoiked half the stuff off Pirate Bay, or merely careful and canny use of covermounts and tracks-for-email exchanges have kept down their musical outgoings? (It's even possible to have unlicensed music that you have paid for - if you bought a CD off a bloke down the office who does CD-Rs to orders, or got them allofmp3.com.)

Where does this age group find new bands? Mostly radio, it turns out, and YouTube. In fact, looking for new music online, YouTube is the first port of call - which, you know, would probably make you really, really sweaty if you were an executive at a label whose entire roster has recently vanished from the YouTube network.

The other online sources will make disappointing reading for their owners - only 15% of the respondents would seek out new music on the MySpace; 8% on Facebook; 4% for Last.FM and NME respectively. Still, the NME does better than Bebo, which creaks away at 2%. MP3 Blogs hit 1%. It would seem that the wider range of music available - and the better the search mechanism - the more likely people will turn up to seek new music there. That might not be very surprising.

Offline, that radio figure (67%)leads ahead of friends and music television. There's, perhaps, a crumb of comfort for NME that music magazines are valued by 17% of respondents as a route into new music - although that's one point behind "shows like the X Factor".

Apparently music blogs only help 14% of those surveyed to discover new music. That's because most of the time, we're pulling surveys to pieces.