Saturday, August 01, 2009

Simon Webbe saves the day

Somehow, it doesn't surprise us that Lee Ryan is the sort of person who needs to be saved from being hit by a bus.

But what on earth is Simon Webbe thinking of? Spending his time saving Lee Ryan when there are ELEPHANTS DYING? God, Ryan is going to be so angry.

U2: We probably wouldn't understand the tax implications, would we?

Disappointing, although not surprising, to see U2 getting a pitifully soft ride from The Guardian's Film & Music section yesterday. The headline promised much:

Ego warriors: U2 speak out on rock-star hypocrisy

But underneath, Dorain Lynskey failed to deliver. "Speak out on"? It was more "moaned a little bit about" or, perhaps, "tutted and shrugged".

U2 were not going to wrestle with the issue, but instead just muttered how unfair it is for people to point at multi-millionaire property developers and ask about how they seem to be shaping poverty policy:
"A little information can do a lot of harm," [Bono] says, his voice hoarse from the previous night. "A lot of people don't know what I do so they think, 'He's just turning up in photographs with starving Africans or some president or prime minister.

Let's take this as being honest - that Bono thinks that the detractors of his activism are doing so because they only have "a little information". Here, surely, is a platform for him to expand on the information we have - perhaps to tell us how his ideas are shaped by many hours spent studying data from the UN and WHO, or to offer a more detailed defence of Project Red's claims that it is primarily for the benefit of the poor, rather than the brands involved.

But oddly, Bono doesn't seem to want to expand the weight of information upon which we are to make our judgements.
We don't like that. Rock stars telling elected officials what to do, and then they run back to their villas in the south of France. Fuck 'em.'"

You have to respect Bono a little for his use of language - "we" don't like that. As if he's not part of the rich and powerful, Bilderburg-and-Gleneagles gatherers. He's one of us, isn't he? We all of us own hotels, don't we?

Is it even true that "we" don't like rock stars behaving that way? People using their fame to dress down power is a glorious thing: Geldof facing down Thatcher was pretty much widely applauded; Martin Bell routing The Hamiltons; even Esther Rantzen riding Margaret Moran out of Luton South has been accepted as a good thing.

The difficulty is the shift from standing outside offering advice, to being inside making policy. And that's where anyone - rock star or not - taking up an unelected position of power has to be worrying. Surely?

Bono, though, is still not actually explaining why there's anything to be worried about:
But, he insists, "if you look into it you think, 'This guy works two-and-a-half days a week at this, not being paid for it, and at cost to his band and his family, and doesn't mind taking a kicking.'"

The cost to U2? Given they still seem to be churning out music and banking ticket receipts from increasingly bombastic tours, there doesn't seem to be too much of an impact. The price his family pays? That, of course, I can't comment on, and since - again - Bono provides no elucidation of what he means, it's hard too.

But spending two and a half days on voluntary work? Apart from the slightly distasteful waving of receipts meant for the recording angels, are we supposed to be impressed that a man who can make an income simply from waiting for the bank to deliver interest received statements spends half a week doing something else? We'd all... alright, many of us would spend time doing more voluntarily if our living could take care of making itself.

And even then: what is this supposed to mean? Effectively, Bono's argument is "people criticise my apparent influence on international development issues because they distrust my unelected status and don't know what it is I do. But if they knew I spent two and half days influencing international development - unpaid - why, that would make things different."

That doesn't really work, does it? It's like Ming The Merciless saying "look, people don't realise I put an awful lot of the day-to-day work to one side to develop my death rays. I'm putting in the hours" when asked what he's doing with death rays. It misses the point a little.

Notably, when the interview touches on being Irish during the end of the last century, the answers become clearer, considered and touching. Even more notably, it's the bit where Bono is silent and the others get to talk.

Before too long, though, the interview is back to asking Bono about his pumping hands while Iraq was having depleted uranium scattered over its children.

It's not too difficult to understand how this could happen; a defence of how his influence was never deep enough to stop the powers pushing for the Iraq war, and that it was important to chase an impossible end at the cost of what could be achieved elsewhere. The slippery, soul-burning trade-offs of power.

Instead, Bono first tries to suggest he was somehow conducting secret operations against the invasion, before then waving his hands around and saying "ach, you know, we'd all be waging an illegal war if we'd been them":
"It's very hard for me to keep quiet about anything," he says, smiling. "I'm more used to putting my foot in my mouth than I am biting my hand." He says he was known "quietly" as an opponent of the war but refuses to demonise its architects. "There are people who will be walking differently for the rest of their lives because of their decision to invade Iraq," he says. "Remember, 9/11's not far behind. They really are nervous about that. And Blair, too. He doesn't want to be Chamberlain – the guy who says everything's going to be fine. They see this darkness on the horizon and they make a really, spectacularly bad decision. I did say to Condi [Rice], 'Think about what happened in Ireland. The British army arrived to protect the Catholic minority but when you're standing on street corners in hard hats and khaki you very quickly become the enemy.' But I wasn't there for that. I had to keep my focus. You're asking, 'Don't you speak up? Don't you get out on the streets?' I gave up that right once I was in a position of voicing the desire to stay alive of millions of people who had no voice."

So, then: Bush and Blair had to, you know, because of 9/11, and I told Condi 'ooh, that's going to blow up in your face', but I'm the voice of the voiceless so I couldn't say anything'.


You'll recall that earlier this year Larry Mullen had some choice words for his partner about hanging out with such people. Oddly, he seems to have piped down now:
Mullen, however, admitted his unease, earlier this year, over Bono consorting with "war criminals", a moment of candour that now makes him wince. "My only regret is that I might have made it easier for his critics to throw some more stones at him, which was really not my intention," he sighs. "There's no question of rolling over in my views; it's just looking at the bigger picture. You can argue it up and down but in the end you have to stand up and go, 'This works.'"

When Bono wasn't in the room, his views were quite simple and clear. Simplistic, perhaps, but unequivocal. Now, it's regret for having helped the critics, apologies for doing so, and some gritty fudge.

Lynskey pretty much sits back from doing much more than transcribing this far through, but as the question of tax turns up, he does offer a hand to the U2 team:
Bono may be U2's self-appointed flak-catcher but he worries his activism opens his bandmates to criticism. "They're getting part of the kicking because they have me in the band. So I feel for them. I do." An example: nobody gives a damn about, say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' accountancy practises, but U2's tax move was roundly slammed as rank hypocrisy.

But Dorian, given that the Chilis aren't attempting to direct how governments spend their tax take, there's no reason for people to get so exercised over them. But when Bono is influencing decisions being made by governments over spending, the decision to organise tax affairs to minimise the amount you share is fair game.

When you lecture others on how you must do your bit, employing accountants to ensure you do as little as possible is rank hypocrisy.

But, come, let's give Bono the chance to explain:
Bono rubs his temples and sighs. "It's very difficult. The thing I probably regret is not talking about it more but we agreed in the band not to. Which is annoying. What bothered me was it's like you're hiding your money in some tax haven and people think of the Cayman Islands. And you're campaigning for Africa and transparency – of course that looked like hypocrisy. People whom I've annoyed, people who wished us to fail, they finally got what they thought must have been there in the first place. It was a hook to hang me on." He claps his hands forcefully and points. "'We got him!' You could, if you wanted, get … y'know … it could get you going. You look at it and say, 'Well what have you done?'" His flash of annoyance passes. "People are just trying to do the best they can. You can't do everything."

It's not clear if by waffling about how it's the Netherlands and not the Cayman Islands and the Palinesque "ooh, they just wanted something to throw at me" self-pity is intentionally designed to try and make it look like he's giving an explanation of why the U2 tax regime is designed to take cash away from the exchequer of the country which raised him, educated him and now provides the roads and infrastructure that allows his businesses to thrive; or if Bono actually thinks it really is an explanation.

Meanwhile, in a school in Dublin:
-Sorry, it's one book between two, because Bono is paying his taxes in Amsterdam now
-Well, at least he's not paying his taxes in the Cayman Islands. That would really make the book we don't have a book we can't afford

So: it annoys you when people point a finger at your tax arrangements. But you still haven't explained why it's wrong for them to do so?

But you know what? Bono still thinks he's his own worse critic:
U2 chose more interesting targets than other bands. Your own hypocrisies. Your addictions, but not to the obvious. Your ego." He emits a hoarse chuckle. "I think we made our enemies very interesting."

Well, interested, perhaps. But it's still more by your actions than your music, Mr. Vox.

There's no room in the interview for questions of planning regulations in Dublin or Los Angeles, nor for the environmental carnage wrought by lugging a giant claw-type stage around the planet. But then U2 are busy people, and only have time to not answer so many question.

Tenenbaum fine: USD675,000

The jury in the Tenenbaum case has decided he must pay $22,500 for each track he used contrary to the terms of the licence, which tots up to a 675,000 dollar bill.

There's to be an appeal - given that the judge passed a summary judgement which stopped any discussion of fair use - but it's still not clear how the jury wound up at this figure in the first place. There's a maximum amount allowed by law - $150,000 per track - and a morally justifiable amount of about 99 cents a track. Where are the jury coming up with their figure from? Is there anything scientific about their deliberations, or is it simply a case of a number which sounds right?

Because it's not clear how an arbitrary fine really helps anyone, is it?

Gordon in the morning: If you have sides, prepare to split them now

Believe it or not, in the print edition of Bizarre this morning, this is the lead:

OASIS have had a few insults hurled their way over the years but CRISTIANO RONALDO has delivered the best one yet.

The ex Manchester Utd ace, an unpopular lad in the sky-blue half of the city, reckons the band aren't a patch on Latino pop singer RICKY MARTIN.

The lead story. In a newspaper's flagship column. A newspaper which people pay money for.

Okay, it's a faintly amusing thing to say, if you're still interested in an overpaid footballer and an over-rated musician having a long-distance dryhump in the newspapers.

But for Gordon? It's like the Punch Lunch has been arranged for the Algonquin:
I have nothing but respect for Ronaldo for playing ball by chipping in yet again with a put-down Mr Big would have been proud of.

To be fair "I bet Noel Gallagher wishes he'd said that" is hardly overselling a joke, I suppose.

I can't wait for James Murdoch's pay wall. Imagine: we get all this, and we get to throw coins, too.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - lyrics

Meet Awesomely Bad Lyrics, which... well, you can guess, can't you? But it's more than just finger-pointing. There's annotation as well:

I picked up the cash flow / Then we played bones, and I’m yellin' domino / Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A., today was a good day

I have played dominoes a few times and have never heard of yelling "DOMINO!" but apparently it is a thing.

I don't know how this last line is supposed to be punctuated: He could be saying that people he knows got killed, just not in South Central L.A. ... or nobody he knows got killed, and it was a good day in South Central L.A.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Madonna explains her obsession

What, you may have wondered, led Madonna to sign up to the pretend-version of Kabbalah?

She's answered that question:

'There was something missing in my life'

Yes, yes, there was. The ability to spot a charlatan selling water and ribbons at inflated prices to the gullibly miserable.
Life no longer seemed like a series of Random events,' she writes. 'I also began to see that being Rich and Famous wasn't going to bring me lasting fulfillment and that it was not the end of the journey.'

Oddly, though, she didn't seem to worry about no longer being rich or famous. Even as unfulfilling as all that money is, she does seem to have come to terms with the emptiness.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Pope plans pop push

It's not entirely unprecedented for an announcement of a Christmas release of stuff by the serving Pope to be flagged up as a potential festive number one: after all, there's a lot of Catholics, and if they all go out and buy a record by the Pope, their heft alone should get it to the top of the charts, right?

It never actually happens.

Well known is the current Pope's opposition to rock music - it's Satanic, he reckons, and he's one of those people who has to pretend he believes in Satan like there really is one, so that's quite serious. Perhaps he'll be prepared to put in the hours to defeat rock in the Christmas charts, then. You know, popping up on Jonathan Ross' sofa; doing a couple of liturgies in session with Marc Riley, that type of thing.

Hating rock must make it hard for Benedict to find a label, though? Who's putting this one out?

Oh. Geffen. So, rock music is a force of Satan infiltrating the world's youth... but, hey, happy to work with the people who distribute it nevertheless. Nice to see moral certainty still as solid as ever at the Vatican, isn't it?

Meanwhile, the Times calls on an expert to provide a quote which straight-facedly pretends Benedict is in with a chance of the number one slot:

A spokesman for HMV said: “Besides a sizeable Christian community that will be interested in this recording for reasons of faith, it could potentially also tap into a wider audience drawn to its spiritual and calming content, especially in these rather turbulent social and economic times.

“Albums of monastic chanting were quite popular when they came out a few years ago, and just last year a CD of hymns and sacred arias by The Priests made it into the top ten - so there is definitely a market out there for religious-based content.

“A precedent was set by Pope John Paul II, whose voice was featured on the Abba Pater recording of prayers and meditations, which made it into the top 100 in March 1999.

“Coming out so close to Christmas this album could well prove a popular purchase among shoppers looking to for an ideal gift for their gran or aunt, although His Holiness Pope Benedict may well have to compete with the likes of Jay-Z, a rumoured Robbie Williams release and Susan Boyle for the Christmas No 1.”

An HMV spokesman? Has Gennaro now become like Yahweh himself, a name that cannot be uttered?

Peter Andre has a big payday

Of course, it's a bit of a shame that Peter Andre is still relying on his connection with Jordan to make a few bob, but he seems delighted to accept "substantial" damages from the Sunday People:

Peter Andre accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages from the People newspaper in the high court today over a false claim that he made inappropriate sexual advances to a woman who looked like his estranged wife Katie Price.
Speaking outside the high court today, Andre said he was "pleased" the People had accepted that the story was "untrue and hurtful".

Yes. What could be more hurtful than being accused in public of being the sort of man who would have sex with a woman who looked like Jordan?

Oh... no, hang on:
"I have never been unfaithful to my wife – not with this girl, or any other girl," he added. "This story has led to a lot of speculation about whether I was faithful to my estranged wife which even led her to mention it on a breakfast television show last week.

"If anyone slanders my name I will not hesitate in taking action against them. Now, hopefully, this will bring these rumours and lies to an end and let me move on with my life."

Interesting. So Andre will take action against anyone who slanders his name. And this story is libelous - as shown by this legal action. And Jordan repeated in on a broadcast programme. So... presumably Andre will be bringing a libel action against his own wife now?

Gordon in the morning: Keeping it covered

Gordon Smart has heard - you suspect in a phonecall from N-Dubz management - that Tulisa has been made an offer she has refused:

N-DUBZ star TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS has turned down a £250,000 offer to appear starkers in Playboy.

Now, given that Gordon's job is underwritten from a newspaper that has built its position on printing photographs of women with no shirts on, and Gordon's daily cavalcade of nipslips and pap tit snaps, you might think this would outrage Smart. Fair exchange is no robbery, after all. But it turns out Gordon is the first on his feet, applauding:
What a refreshing change. Many women in showbiz will happily get their kit off just to stay in the spotlight.

Who would have thought? Thank god that's something that Gordo would never be part of. He's a man with strong, feminist pr... what was that, Gordon?
My exclusive pic of her in leopard print gear proves there's no need to strip.


The Kershaws never leave quietly

If you ever find one of the Kershaw siblings sat in your prebooked train seat, it might be wise to find somewhere to stand, as the vortex thrown up by their departure is more uncomfortable than the other option.

Liz Kershaw has just been asked to step aside from the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire breakfast show. She hasn't taken it well, circulating an email to all her colleagues (yes, colleagues, as she's still got a show on the station):

"New era eh? How sensitive to someone's feelings after 4 years of dedication and professionalism.

"I think a presenter who has put in so much and has been so publicly humiliated already by the BBC deserves better. Among their colleagues. [sic]

"Good job the listeners are wise to what's going on and more sympathetic. Watch your back Cath. Beware the Ides of March etc. Could be your turn next. Will tell you more when we meet in September. Liz."

"So publicly humiliated by the BBC"? Is that a reference to how she was prerecording 6Music programmes with faked competitions, and yet somehow managed to keep her job while all around her were losing hers?

Let's hope she never teams up with Marilyn Manson to form a revenge force.

Something to listen to: Cambodia

On iPlayer for a few more days: Khmer Rock and The Killing Fields, which tells the story of what happened to Cambodia's rock scene under Pol Pot. Given that he didn't tolerate glasses, you can probably conclude that it's not a pretty story.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

EMI gets the chance to burn through more cash

The FT is reporting that investors in EMI have agreed to Guy Hands' injection of £300million into the group:

Mr Hands is understood to be working with Barclays, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley on a plan to raise £200m-£280m from a high-yield bond issue that could repay some of the debt EMI owes to Citigroup.

Repaying debt with more debt. All very inventive.

Perhaps they should just stick to mucking about with financial instruments and forget the whole making records thing? They seem much better at the one than the other.

Even dead, Michael Jackson is generating lawsuits over money

The LA City Attorney is currently buying pencils and post-it notes in order to find out how it is that AEG pocketed large sums of cash for boxes at the Jacko memorial, promising the cash would go to the LA Police Foundation, only for no large cheque to appear:

A rep for AEG told TMZ there were 18 suites that went for $5,000 a pop and AEG did indeed promise the money would be donated to the Police Foundation. The rep said AEG is still doing a final accounting of the event and "We have every intention of making this donation."

AEG says the city is trying to get way too much -- 7 figures -- out of them for the event. But the City Attorney believes AEG is on the hook for expenses including sanitation, transportation, street services and LAPD protection -- and that does indeed go into the 7 figures.

They were selling boxes? To a memorial? Classy.

Twittergem: Solange Knowles

Following Solange Knowles is a gift that keeps on giving:

Ever had to wipe yourself with coffee filters. It's not so bad.

If filesharing prevention is done to protect artists, why don't they see any money

The Guardian asks a pertinent question: what happens to all the damages handed over by unlicensed music users who get shaken down by the RIAA and similar organisations?

Obviously, in most cases, the legal costs far outweigh the gains to be made, but sometimes there is a profit. What then?

Well, of course, the moneys raised are shared with the artists whose work has been "stolen", isn't it? Because that's what it's all about, right? Protecting the artist?

Oh, don't be so silly:

A spokesman for the IFPI responded to my questions with the following statement:
"Tackling music piracy is anything but a profitable activity for the music industry. Any compensation received as a result of the cases taken by the industry is unfortunately a tiny drop in the ocean when set against the enormous cost of illegal filesharing and other forms of piracy in terms of lost sales. Generally, when IFPI receives money from actions taken on behalf of rights-holders, this is ploughed back into our anti-piracy operations."

You'll have spotted the usual music industry tactic of throwing a red herring in there:
- when you get money from filesharers, what happens to it?
- the money we get from filesharers is nothing compared to the money we've lost in sales, you know

But then, when an answer is offered, it's the suggestion that money paid in response to lawsuits is spent on more lawsuits. Confirming that, whatever the original intention of suing, it's now become a little side industry all on its own. No wonder it's so hard for the record companies to abandon the strategy.

Still, surely someone must have questioned the morality of wailing "you're stealing royalties from the artists which is wrong", only to spend the reclaimed royalties rather than passing them on to the artists?

Michael Jackson: Won't somebody think of the souffle?

Surely by now, everyone who was tangentially connected to the Jackson household has told their tale?

Not quite. For we have yet to hear from Kai Chase. Chase is, erm, the chef, and so had a not-very-central role to play in the kitchen while Jackson was taken ill:

The chef recalls, "You could feel the energy change... It was a happy home, there's music playing throughout the house, fireplaces roaring and beautiful laughter... It just felt still, it just felt like a distant feeling."

A distant feeling you could feel, albeit distant. One of those feelings.

Hang about... roaring fireplaces? In Los Angeles? In June? It was twenty degrees outside the day he died - what were the roaring fires for?

Still, she'll never forget where she was when she heard the news that Jackson was dead. She was listening to the news:
She adds, "I'm driving in my car and I hear... 'Mr. Jackson's pronounced dead.'
"I had to pull over... Who knew? I panicked. I was devastated and started crying. This was a lovely man. This man was sensational... He was a fabulous father of his children."

Who knew? Well, if it was on the radio, it's a fairly safe bet that anyone who was near a computer would have known at that point.

Still, she does paint a lovely picture of dinner at the Jackson's place:
"In the day times he would have, maybe, some of the art he enjoyed, that he collected, and he'd have it around the dining room, so the kids would have an impression they were eating in a museum."

... because they would be told not to touch anything and to keep quiet. And have to fill out a quiz sheet before they could leave.

Still, this would all make for a great episode of Supersizers, wouldn't it?

Embed and breakfast man: Lacuna Coil

This is Survive, played live by Lacuna Coil at Slims in San Francisco on the Monday night just gone:

The whole concert is chunked up and punted into YouTube for you to enjoy.

Something to listen to: Echo & The Bunnymen

Off over on the Bunnymen website, a stream (QuickTime, would you believe?) of a new track, Do You Know Who I Am?

[ta an' all to YANP]

3Am to take on TMZ

Oh, bless their little shoes. The Daily Mirror has decided that it wants some of that TMZ action and is spinning 3am out into a website.

Obviously, it already is a website, hosting the poorly-conceived ramblings of the current Mirror gossip team, but now it's going to go 24 hours a day.

Well, yes, it is already 24 hours a day. Because even Trinity Mirror haven't started switching off their servers when they go home for the night. But this is different, right?

The launch of the website marks the first time that 3am content has been spun-off as a standalone brand. Until now it has only been available on the website under its "Celebs" section., which has been six months in development, will provide 24-hour celebrity news, video and blogs.

I guess it'll be handy when James Murdoch walls up Gordon Smart behind a tollbooth.

Still, nice to hear that 3AM is going to save the Daily Mirror. Just like back in 2004 when it was a 3AM magazine that was the future:
The launch of 3am Magazine this week was the first salvo produced by a 50-strong magazines unit established by Trinity Mirror to help reverse the sales decline of its three national titles.

Journalists in the new "centre of excellence" have been encouraged to dress down, listen to the radio and "get out and about" in order to encourage a creative atmosphere.

The two-page 3am gossip column, launched in April 2001, has been identified by Trinity Mirror bosses as the newspaper's most identifiable brand and a major selling point.

Daily Mirror Circulation - January 2004 - 1,919,125
Daily Mirror Circulation - June 2009 - 1,330,301

Well, that worked well, then.

Phil Hall, who created the magazine division left in 2005; the division was closed in 2007 and I don't think anyone even noticed when the 3AM Magazine vanished.

Quite a powerbase to start taking down TMZ from, then. No word on if the 3AM ranks will be swollen to include people to actually file stories 24 hours a day, or if the UK really has enough celebrities to keep such a site going. Even TMZ is reduced to filling the longueurs between dead singers by running "you won't guess what a woman you've never heard of from a 70s sitcom you've forgotten looks like now... oh, older... oh, you did guess then".

The Tenenbaum trial: People say the funniest things under oath

So, the Tenenbaum trial is now basically about how large the "damages" should be, as Judge Nancy Gertner granted a summary dismissal on the fair use defence. Because, hey, why should we even bother listening to the arguments properly, right?

Now the trial is burrowing into the issue of losses sustained by the music industry, which led to this surprising claim:

Turning to the critical issue of harm, plaintiffs called their expert Stanley Liebowitz, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, who opined forcefully that file-sharing has harmed the market for recorded music. Liebowitz displayed a graph that showed the revenues from recorded music rising fairly steadily from 1973 until 1999, when they dropped dramatically and continued to fall through 2008, the last year for which he had data.

The cause of the sudden turn for the worse in 1999? Napster, testified Liebowitz. Recorded music revenues dropped from $18.5 billion in 1999 to $8.5 billion in 2008 (both in 2008 dollars). Liebowitz explained how he considered various explanations for the drop in revenue: overall economic conditions, change in prices, and consumer shifts in entertainment purchases away from music to DVDs and videogames. But, he said, the data simply didn’t support any of these explanations, leading him to conclude that the real culprit was consumers’ newfound ability to obtain music on the Internet without paying for it.

Now, I can see that you might be able to construct an argument that unlicenced file-sharing harmed the recorded music industry. But to suggest that there's no data which supports other theories as to cause of the decline is flabbergasting. The shift of CD sales from specialist stores to supermarkets, and the consequent repricing of the highest sellers from luxury purchase to impulse buy can't, in any way, explain the drop in value of music sold? Seriously? The rise of the DVD, combined with the end of a golden age of people repurchasing their vinyl records as CDs - that isn't apparent in the data Liebowitz has seen?

To say nothing of his apparent - fallacious - assumption that the music industry would naturally carry on selling more and more, year on year. Is it not possible the CD and the lure of buying your collection over and over again disguised what would otherwise have been a drop in sales from the start of the 1980s? After all, if you look at sales, Thriller is the one to beat. That came out in 1983, just as CDs were becoming commercially available. Could it be the decline in sales is more because the industry became obsessed with repackaging its old shit instead of focusing on fresh?

Apparently not, according to Liebowitz's testimony. Napster, and Napster alone, broke five multinational companies.

The case continues.

To say nothing of not even consider

Blink 182 afraid of being heard

Blink 182 have written a brand new song. Well, I say "brand new"; experience suggests it'll be the same song with a different name. Although I could be being unfair - it might be a seven minute mock-rock-opera. They're too afraid to play it in public, so nobody knows:

Bassist Mark Hoppus explained: "We might possibly play it, but probably not, though. finished recording it yet, and we really don't want the first time that people hear our new song to be a YouTube version of us playing it live. We want it to be the actual song, and we haven't gotten the chance to finish it yet, so we'll probably leave it out of the set until we actually release it."

"We don't think anyone will want to buy the song if they get to hear it first. And, besides, it's unfinished. And if people hear the half-finished thing, they might, you know, conclude it's the same song that we've been churning out for the last oh-god-is-it-really-17-years and not buy it when we have 'finished' it in some way. No, we'll just keep it over here. There is too a new track. There is. You just can't hear it. It's like a kitten. You can't touch the kittens before they're ready. Mother would tell me that. 'Don't touch the kittens' she'd scream. 'Leave those kittens alone'. At the top her lungs. Then she'd drag me down the street, calling all the neighbours to look: 'Look, look, Mark touched the kittens and now their Momma is going to reject them. Because Mark couldn't follow the rules. I should reject him, the way the momma cat will reject the kittens'. Only... uh... on YouTube. Can I have a popsicle, please?"

Twittergem: Tim Westwood

Breakfast time. Time to check in with Westwood:

These all inclusive hotels mean you eat for 10 people cos its free food & I'm a greedy muthf#ka. If I was here for 2 weeks I'd explode & die

Death by Coco Pops, eh? Should we start a whip-round for a nice holiday voucher for Tim?

Copyright industry shrugs and says 'nobody lives forever'

Listen to the charming words of Steven Metalitz, one of the lawyers getting fat off the record and movie industry attempts to sue the modern world out of existence:

"We reject the view," he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, "that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so."

But on the other hand, Metalitz, obody expects books or CDs to simply stop working because the person who sold you them suddenly decides to stop "supporting" the "format".

Cory Doctrow's response is neat:
It's hilarious that the same yahoos who argue for perpetual copyright (implying that copyrighted works have value forever) also argue for time-limited ownership (implying that people who buy copyrighted works should be content to enjoy them for a few weeks or years until the DRM stops working).

And if that is the deal, then the term in which the product will work should be made clear before purchase. because who would rent a holiday home if the landlord said "I might turn up one night and just throw you out, by the way. Won't tell you when."

Gordon in the morning: Curran affairs

According to the current edition of Wired UK, James Murdoch has said with a straight face that he believes that the Sun's showbusiness coverage will drive people to subscribe to the paper's website in the same way that the business information published by the Wall Street Journal persuades people to fork out for

No, seriously.

Some sort of tailspinning around Alex Curran's people making New! "clarify" a comment she made about Liverpool is apparently on a par with the latest stock prices.

James believes that Gordon copying a couple of tweets from Lily Allen and Liam Gallagher and adding some stuff about them drinking on an aeroplane is pretty much the same as having an expert in the petrochemical industries provide an overview of the day's trading in energy futures on the Far East exchanges.

Murdoch Junior is betting his digital farm on people being willing to pay for something about Jude Law possibly having another kid with a "mystery woman".

It's a lot of faith to put in Gordon and his team.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Marilyn Manson doesn't take criticism well

Apparently confusing himself with Jeanette Winterson, Marilyn Manson is threatening to visit music journalists at home:

"If one more 'journalist' makes a cavailier statement about me and my band, I will personally or with my fans' help greet them at their home and discover just how much they believe in their freedom of speech.

"I dare you all to write one more thing that you won’t say to my face. Because I will make you say it. In that manner. That is a threat."

Manson - who is a bit like Gene Wilder playing Lord Voldermort - doesn't exactly say what he considers to be a "cavalier statement". Would "desperately trying to plough a furrow despite having hit the rock beneath many years ago" upset him, for example? Or "a sense of style which suggests a funeral director who arrived late at the jumble sale" be the sort of thing to set him off.

Still, interesting to see the man who ran into the streets screaming "please don't blame me" post-Columbine is now suggesting his fans might want to beat up people who have different tastes in music. Sure, Manson is just blowing hard on his blog, but his audience is pretty suggestible and not exactly the brightest fanbase around. for their hero to suggest that people be attacked until they are happy to cede their free speech sits oddly with his suggestion that he stands against the bullies of society.

Downloadable: The Mountain Goats

Thanks to Daniel B for the good news about The Good News, a new collection from the Mountain Goats. The record has a theme - "twelve hard lessons the bible has taught me" - and you can get a sample of those lessons from the free download, Genesis 3:23.

I'll save you the effort:

So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

They're talking about Adam.

There's also a song about this one:
Then she said, "Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family."

We'll have to wait until the album arrives on October 6th.

Bloc Party tease us by hanging round the door

Kele Bloc Party shrugs as he looks into the future:

"We don't know what the future holds," he said. "It's weird, we're out of contract now so... we might take a year off, we might take three years off.... we might never make a record again or we might head straight back in and do a record. We'll see how we feel come the end of this touring cycle."

The trouble with dropping this sort of hint is that it's like stagediving - you really need to be sure the audience is there to catch you when you leap.

The noise you can hear? It might just be Okereke landing on the ground.

Young Jeezy desperate to see dog-slaughterer playing ball

You can forgive Young Jeezy a little, as it's clear he's never quite had a fully-formed thought complete a journey all the way along a synapse - but is he really so keen to see animal-torturing git Michael Vick back as if nothing happened?

"That's my dude.I just talked to Michael Vick. Welcome back. I'mma just be real. I'm not saying this to be funny. I know 'em all, from Pacman Jones to Michael Vick. Sometimes keeping it real becomes keeping it dumb. It's hard enough in that position that they in. You can't keep a good dude down. He bounced back. We gonna wish him the best and tell him to stay out the strip club unless you're rolling with me."

Is Jeezy really suggesting that it's somehow the pressure of "keeping it real" that led Vick to spend six years torturing animals for money?

Perhaps sensing that splashing about in the blood of dead dogs might be a bad look, Jeezy attempts a soft backpedal:
"But you know what, I got dogs, so I feel the pet owners,"

Perhaps Jeezy is hoping that by implying he assumes that Vick's crimes were on a par with leaving a dog in a hot car on a warm day for a few minutes, the world won't conclude that he's got the empathic powers of a sun-baked rock.

If that was the plan, he then blows it by trying to suggest that making dogs fight for money, and slaughtering those that fail, is something to do with background:
"But sometimes we as a people, we come up harsh and rugged and we get excitement out of things like that, and it might not be the right thing. I don't think it was worth him losing everything he had and not being able to take care of his people around him. He was punished. He went to jail. A lot of cats don't even go to jail. But he went to jail, did his time, he's home. He paid his debt to society. Give him a football and some Gatorade, and let's get it."

A lot of cats don't go to jail. Nor do a lot of dogs, although a lot of dogs do end up dead under Michael Vick's patio.

Let's not give him a football, eh? Let's make him try and do something that can give some value to the world instead of showering him with money and pretending that he didn't kill a lot of dogs.

Luckily, it seems the people who run NFL football teams have higher standards than Jeezy, and nobody is rushing to pick up the contract for the dog-murdering Vick.

Or we could just make Vick and Jeezy play football together. In a large field of hungry, angry dogs.

On the downward spiral

Could there be a more thankless task than trying to keep HMV afloat, by means of putting a backwards-baseball-cap on Nipper and inviting kids in to hey, chill or whatever?

It turns out, yes: HMV chief executive Simon Fox is being talked of as the favourite to replace Michael Grade at ITV.

ITV is the one that has Coronation Street on it. You remember.

Gordon in the morning 2: Crossed lines

Here's some unlikely news - Ian Brown not only writing songs for Rihanna, but deciding that they're too good for her? Gordon Smart has the scoop:

He was snapped in his native Manchester filming the video for new song Stellify - which was meant for RIHANNA.

Ian, who releases sixth solo album My Way in September, said: "As we got to the end of writing it I thought, 'You know what? I'm gonna keep this for myself.'"

Gordon doesn't seem in any way surprised that Brown would be writing songs to provide a follow-up hit to Umbrella.

And, to be fair, the City Life interview which Smart just ripped off without crediting also seems less-than-surprised that Brown is providing songs for top-flight US R&B stars.

But could it be that Stellify was actually intended for Rhianna, rather than Rihanna? Given that the Rhianna has provided back-up vocals for Brown's albums in the past?

Breaking news: New NME editor

MediaGuardian have just tweeted that Krissi Murison is the new editor of NME. Which is nice to see that they're promoting from within, and also ignoring the 'GURLS KEEP OUT' which had been scrawled on the editors desk since the start of time.

Sandi Thom: Condensed

James T emails with exciting news:

I hope you're as excited about this as I am. Sandi Thom is finally releasing her Greatest Hits! I'm surprised they managed to condense it down to just *one* CD, but I'm glad they're giving it a summer release to prevent a witch-hunt after she beats the inevitable 15 Jackson compilations to number 1. Full story (just as tongue in cheek as this email) at Popjustice.

They've managed, somehow, to find 18 tracks for the album. Actually, 17, because the only song that anyone remembers is on there twice (I Wish I Was A Punkrocker - no, the one you were thinking of was probably KT Tunstall).

They've got a "live from the basement" track in the mix - you'll vaguely remember that Thom was launched as some sort of internet powerhouse who was self-made in her own basement with a webcam, until the story started to unravel and it turned out to be a PR stunt, so it's nice to remember that happy time.

There's also a song called When Horsepower Meant What It Said - which, erm, would be ever since the term was invented, as it's a measure of the amount of work a horse could do and only makes sense as a comparison figure for machines.

Still, the upside of all this is it sounds like a recording contract being tidily finished up, doesn't it?

The occupied Empire

It's lovely to see Sneaky Sound System's Donnie Sloan get credits on the Empire Of The Sun stuff.

It's just a pity it appears to have taken the threat of lawyers for his involvement to be acknowledged:

Sloan, based in London, used a UK legal team to get writer, performer and producer credits. He says: "It did not quite get to the legal stage.

"But I had to threaten it in order for them to recognise my contribution. It has been a bittersweet experience. But I have worked hard to move on."

It turns out that Sloan hadn't actually been expecting EOTS to be using his music in the first place:
Sloan claims he gave the tracks to Nick Littlemore, of electro-pop duo Pnau, for remix consideration.

"I told Nick I didn't want him to use the tracks. I was hoping to save them for my own project," Sloan says.

Two years later, Littlemore formed EOTS with Luke Steele and Sloan's songs resurfaced.

Sloan said Steele, Littlemore, and his Pnau partner, producer Peter Mayes, planned to use the tracks for EOTS.

It's all a bit disappointing. Even the supposedly happy ending doesn't sound that happy, does it?

Gordon in the morning: George Sampson can never go home

Having slagged off Simon Cowell in the press, George Sampson has now turned his attention to his hometown, as Gordon reports this morning:

He told me: "I'm getting complaints at the moment about not getting back to my roots. I've not been back to Warrington in months.

"Why would I want to go there? It's boring, there's nothing to do. It's like a ghost town.

"All people do there is hang around outside shops."

Unlike elsewhere, where teenagers fly about on spacescooters having special-touching parties.

I guess that, compared with Skins, Warrington might look a little pedestrian. But Imperial Phase Rome looks a little pedestrian compared with Warrington.

But if Sampson thinks it's dull right now, he should have seen it before Eileen Bilton worked her magic.

So, how is George's ahem career coming on? Apparently, he's tiring of life on the stage:
George - in London to launch new toy Battle Strikers this week - has signed up for his first major role in 3D film Street Dance, due out in 2010.

Yes, yes, he was launching a toy. You can see why after attending the launch of some plastic kids toys, Warrington must seem so quiet.

Anyway, George, tell us about this film. Street Dance, eh? What's that about, then?
He said: "It's all about street dancers. I play a character called Eddie.

"I like acting. It's a real challenge. I'd like to do it full-time. I like film and TV more than stage."

Ah yes. Playing a dancing bloke. That must be a real stretch for your acting talents.

There doesn't seem to be any reason at all for the Michael Jackson and "his" children at home video. Surely, Gordon, there must be some reason for this invasion into the privacy of children at such a raw time in their lives - especially one which appears under your byline?
The intimate home video gives a moving insight into the King of Pop as a parent to son Prince Michael, 12, and daughter Paris, 11, at his Neverland Ranch in California.

Um... no, don't think that quite justifies the invasion of privacy. Do you want to try again?
The video, available exclusively here on The Sun website, is a reminder of how close the star was to his young family.

Again, Gordon, that doesn't seem to be a reason for publishing a private video of the kids. Perhaps the explanation of why it was okay to ignore the Press Complaints Commission rules on children fell off the article?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Maybe they wanted to check Jackson was still dead

Interesting statistic tucked into the LA Times piece about how the coroner's office has been leaking Jacko information like a cryogenics facility in a powercut:

In the days before Michael Jackson’s death certificate was made public, only a few people had legitimate reason to view the file in the state's password-protected database.

Even after the document was released, access was supposed to be limited toauthorized staffers.

But by the first week in July, the pop star's records had been viewed more than 300 times, said Craig Harvey, the chief coroner's investigator.

Which isn't even near as the number of times people have run round the offices with his brain on their head, pretending to be Monty Burns pretending to be Davey Crockett.
[Spokesperson Ken] August said it was too early for him to say how many people inappropriately viewed Jackson's death certificate or where they worked, but said he had no indication of "widespread, inappropriate access."

Sure: in California, everyone's death certificate gets passed around like an especially piquant New Yorker cartoon.

It's what he would have wanted, as well

In a bid to try and make "Michael Jackson fan" look perpetually like a euphemism for needing a bit of extra help to do everyday things, some of them are pushing for Michael Jackson to appear on the shortlist for this year's Nobel prizes.

Now, you could perhaps see a case being essayed for a physics prize - moonwalking defies all the laws of the physical world; or at least sort-of looks like it might until you slow down the video.

Physiology? He certainly broke new ground there.

Even literature would have a slim case - there was an autobiography, wasn't there?

But no: they're going for the peace prize.

The peace prize.

One of the letters, written by Los Angeles student Anneliese Nichole Brown, pleads: "Michael's message for humankind has always been rooted in compassion and kindness.

"He has succeeded in a lifelong dedication to the well-being of humanity. Moving beyond all political, social and economic borders, Michael Jackson consistently spread a positive message of global unity, healing and love."

Well, he was consistent in his message, in a "give me a couple of months and I'll get together some sort of tribute act to help in the face of a natural or man-made disaster. Or a few months. I'll be in touch, honest."

But has his message for humankind really "always" been rooted in compassion?

Billie Jean is not my lover; there are zombies crawling up my leg; here, young man, take this large sum of money and never again mention that I may or may not have touched your winkle; I'm bad, I'm bad, I'm really, really bad; I am going to play your gig; oh, I am not going to play your gig.

It's not a totally convincing cascade of a compassionate message, although he did do the song to the rat which Esther Rantzen used to soundtrack a campaign about a sick kiddie.

But I can't help feeling that the Nobel people might be looking for something a little more solid.

Didn't you use to be Cornershop?

Aidan Smith goes to talk to Tjinder Singh for Scotland On Sunday; doesn't exactly get off to a good start:

I AM STANDING outside the Tube station waiting for one of pop's forgotten men. Embarrassingly, I have already approached two likely suspects and been met with blank looks and, in one case, a flurry of sign langauge. As the appointed hour comes and goes, I lose all confidence in my ability to remember what Tjinder Singh looks like and start collaring white faces. Well, it's been a long time.

If you're just heading up to random Anglo Asians and asking them "are you that bloke out of the Cornershop?", you should, perhaps, expect a flurry of sign language.

The trouble is Smith seems to think of Cornershop as the band that had a number one hit and vanished, whereas, really, Brimful Of Asha was more of an aberration than the subsequent radio silence.
It was way back in 2002 ,that Singh stuck a "Back in 10 mins" sign in the Cornershop window. If his band was a real shop, how could it possibly survive? I am imagining it alongside assorted comedy emporia – the one holding the last remaining copy of JR Hartley's Fly Fishing, the best place to buy fork handles, the Stella Street grocer's with a zonked-out Keef Richards behind the till – when finally he shows.

More to the point, what if the band really was a corner? A corner that went missing for seven years? Where would people turn?

Luckily, Tjinder does turn up and offers some particularly bitter words about their treatment at the hands of Beggars Banquet. And the interview is a great read, once it gets to the interview and past the padding.

And stops going back to it.
But while their film may be a fine thing – similar to another lost project, a reggae album – we should focus on Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast, a conventional release from a defiantly unconventional band. It's fully stocked with familiar Cornershop wares, not least Singh's elusive lyrics.

It's a conventionally unconventional album from them, because they conventionally don't have a sound, but somehow they sound like they always sound: the unconventional convention. If they were a convention, though, I wonder what sort of convention they might be? A convention of corners, or perhaps squares. Maybe, for some reason I can't quite explain, it'd be like that convention addressed by Alan Partridge where he gave everyone a complementary Daily Express.
Although Singh admits there were low points when he thought he was going mad and even his wife stopped listening to Cornershop, he isn't as bitter as a lemon about the band's time in the wilderness.

He's not as bitter as a lemon, but the new record is certainly a tonic. With a twist. A twist of an unbitter lemon... and... can I go home now?

It's what he would have wanted

An ordinary Sunday in Paris? Or a flashmob mourning Michael Jackson in his own style - i.e. by making a holy show of themselves in public as horrified and confused onlookers stare:

If they'd waited a little longer, they could have pretended it was for Merce Cunningham.

Darkness at 3AM: Shiny things

They really did this:

Simon Cowell's clearly a big fan of the Daily Mirror. Why else would he send out invites to his 50th birthday bash in October - in mirrored envelopes? We can't think any of his beautiful guests need to check themselves out ...

Yes. His invites were inspired by the Daily Mirror. Because the outside was as eye-catching as possible, but the contents proved to be nothing more than a disappointing attempt to persuade people to spend some time marking the passing of time in unpleasant company.

Gordon in the morning: Bunch of DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is apparently still in London. Or, as Gordon would have it:

THE Titanic pulling efforts of LEONARDO DiCAPRIO are giving my Bizarre Shagger Of The Year competition an unexpected Hollywood twist.

Leo The Lady Slayer has been going through a seriously impressive purple patch with the opposite sex during his time in London.

What is Leo The Lady Slayer meant to mean? Is Leo meant to sound like Buffy? Is The Lady Slayer a pun on DiCaprio? What does it mean?

Apparently Leo's purple patch - let's not - is because he went for a drink with Ashley Roberts out of Pussycat Dolls. Or:
Leo has worked his magic with ASHLEY ROBERTS from the naughtiest girl group in pop.
After a few pleasantries Leo invited her to join him at West End club Whisky Mist - and just hours later he had the Pussycat purring along with his wisecracks.

If you take a few hours before someone will laugh at your jokes, you're having an uphill struggle - and not like that - surely? Come to that, though, how do you "purr along with a wisecrack" in the first place?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let's not start a fight, Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys aren't impressed at The Ting Tings winning an Ivor:

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders has started a potential war of words with The Ting Tings.

He declared: "The Ivor Novello Awards used to feel like the most meaningful ones but I think they’ve been cheapened.

“I don’t want to be horrible to The Ting Tings but they won it and it’s supposed to be for songwriting. There’s a lot better songwriting ability out there.”

The ability to write a great song isn't always measured in how many puns you can cram in to the tune; being able to lodge in the brain must count for something. Otherwise Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine would have had the Novellos named after them.

And you will know us by the hail on head...

The Jelly NYC Pool Party came to a sudden halt yesterday when heavy storms swept in. Trail Of Dead fled the stage, although given it was a pool party it's hard to see why some more rain would constitute a serious problem.

Oh. The lightning. Yes, that might be risky.

Something to listen to: Wild Beasts

Streaming over on right now: Two Dancers by Wild Beasts. Highly recommended.

QTrax: another launch to come, then

It's possible to start feeling a little sympathy for QTrax, the perpetually launching-then-delayed online music service. The company's head, Allan Klepfisz, has posted a monster blog entry promising that the sun will come out, tomorrow:

So why is Qtrax unique & uniquely powerful? Because of its licensing contracts, certainly. But also, because of its business model. Refined over the 7 years we spent in the wilderness. Working on the licenses and thinking. And thinking. And thinking some more. Let me make a few reflections in this regard although I must ask you to forgive me if we don’t reveal every aspect of our “secret sauce(s)”.

He just sticks out his chin, and grins...
[Y]ou need to make the site attractive to advertisers. Obvious, you might say. Well, not obvious enough to be a priority to so many sites including most that offer music. They are sinfully unattractive. Especially to advertisers. And user-generated content doesn’t help either. It often makes advertisers nervous. And most of the big sites to date, are based on user generated content. Which gives us a massive opportunity. Because advertisers need to come online to find our demographic. But they want to do it in a predictable environment.

...tomorrow, tomorrow, he loves you, tomorrow...
Fourth, you need to be mindful of your costs. Something that streaming services are discovering. And they account for all of our free music legal competitors. And you need to find a way to make your licensing costs bearable. Something we’ve worked very hard at.

(Not streaming anything would, inarguably, keep your costs well under control)
... tomorrow, tomorrow, you're always...
We are nothing if not dogged. And stubborn. And determined. And God willing, our reward & that of our large number of stakeholders, is that we are very soon going to launch a powerfully attractive music service, with leading internet & media companies as marketing partners. That have existing substantial users. And we’ll progressively roll it out throughout the world.

You're always a day away.

We don't have to pay our loans off

Here's an interesting spin on memorabilia auctions - you buy a framed geegaw, and get a slice of publishing royalties, too:

SongVest, the company that reinvented the music memorabilia business by offering the ultimate fan collectible -- the songs themselves -- has announced their next major online auction will take place August 15-22 at and will include Billboard Top 40 hits "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" performed by Jermaine Stewart, "Miss You Like Crazy" performed by Natalie Cole, and the international hit "Clothes Off!!" performed by Gym Class Heroes.

You're getting to bid for 25% of writer Preston Glass's royalties on the songs, so it's probably more akin to buying one of those handsome Russian railway share certificates than, say, investing in a company that makes green energy.

It's going to be stuck in your head now anyway, so you might as well:

Coldplay: They'll be all yellow

Given that The Simpsons has already featured cameos from Bono and Tony Blair, the standard for getting onto the series has been clearly shifted towards "being well-known", so it was probably only a matter of time before Coldplay turned up.

Yes, more than ever confirming that "a cameo in The Simpsons" has become so prevalent that it's known as "following in the footsteps of Ed Begley Jr", Chris Martin and... uh, the others - is one of them called Tomsk? - will be drawn with overbites:

Chris Martin will play himself in the episode in which Coldplay perform a private show for Bart and Homer, after Homer wins a million dollars in the lottery.

Long-running sitcom featuring blue collar family winning big on the lottery resulting in a meeting with bizarrely popular English entertainers? What could possibly go wrong, eh?

Bhangraobit: Mani Singh Sangra

Sorry to hear of the death of Mani Singh Sangra of Sangra Vibes.

The Leicester-based production team of brothers Mani and Gopi first broke through with the 2005 album Unleashed, and landed some production work on Manak-E's Paisa album. More recently, they'd teamed up with Manak-E again to help out with Aaja, and were working on a new record at the time of Mani's death.

Gopi has issued a statement:

"My brother sadly passed away on July 25th. He was in the hospital for 3 weeks he was suffering from a disease named Encephalitis which he was being treated for, but sadly yesterday we had the very bad news that he passed away due to very low blood pressure which his heart couldn't cope with it. Thank you to everyone for their kind messages and wishes in this sad time."

Mani Singh Sangra died from encephalitis; he was just 21 years old.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - (brackets)

Does that make sense gives the deepest consideration of the bracket in popular song title since Jimmy Saville hung up his hologram:

Reason 3: It's a new version, honest!
This allows for remixes and second releases and so on to be duly credited as such, either with the basic word - (Remix), (Medley) (Re-Issue) - or something far more pretentious, such as I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording), which was released with typical pomposity by Tears For Fears, even though the song bore no difference to the unbracketed version on the album.

Spotify opportunity: iTunes app

This, then, might finally drive some business to Spotify's premium sign-up page: The much-rumoured Spotify iPhone app. Premium users only need apply.

Apple: The cocktail nobody wants

The drop off of interest in albums - and in particular, being forced to buy filler tracks because albums used to come in a specific size, and that's the way it should be, dammit - has worried the RIAA labels. And, naturally, rather than try and adapt to the way technology has changed their business, the response is to try and find ways to pretend its still 1972.

Apple, bless them, are helping, conspiring on a project with the supersecret name Cocktail. What's cocktail? The FT explains:

Apple is working with the four largest record labels to stimulate digital sales of albums by bundling a new interactive booklet, sleeve notes and other interactive features with music downloads, in a move it hopes will change buying trends on its online iTunes store.

Ah yes. Sleeve notes. That'll make it worth paying for 12 tracks when you really only want the decent song.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to the labels that if they want to sell songs in batches of a dozen, or a half-dozen, the easiest thing to do would be to make all those songs worth having. No, no: Let's give people a little essay about the songs they don't want. That'll reel 'em in.

Apple, clearly, don't view this as lobbing a bunch of old rubbish into the deal in the hope of flogging a few extra units:
“It’s not just a bunch of PDFs,” said one executive. “There’s real engagement with the ancillary stuff.”

Oh, yes. I can't get enough of that, erm, ancillary stuff.

It doesn't make track seven any better if you're able to listen to it while reading that the middle vocalist thanks God for his help on it.
Apple wants to make bigger purchases more compelling by creating a new type of interactive album material, including photos, lyric sheets and liner notes that allow users to click through to items that they find most interesting. Consumers would be able to play songs directly from the interactive book without clicking back into Apple’s iTunes software, executives said.

So... instead of simply buying the tracks you want, you spend more, get some sort of proprietorial locked-up thing which you can work your way through to find a way to hear the tracks you want. I really hope we can also queue up to buy these at the Apple Store, perhaps in the rain, as it doesn't sound inconvenient enough already.

Maybe this is why the project is called Cocktail, presumably after the Tom Cruise movie which also made anyone near it want to smash things until the pain went away.

She hit me, and it felt like a writ

It wasn't, you'd have to say, the greatest courtroom victory when the judge in the Amy Winehouse assault case said he couldn't be sure if Winehouse had meant to hit the dancer and set her free. It was the first time "aw, bless, she's so far gone she doesn't know what she's doing" has ever been a verdict in a British trial.

Meanwhile, what of the hit-ee? She's worried:

Rex Features

A woman who claims that she was punched by Amy Winehouse has admitted that she fears for her career and reputation after the star was cleared of the charge.

Winehouse was yesterday found not guilty of assaulting burlesque dancer Sherene Flash following a trial at the City Of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

A burlesque dancer called Sherene Flash? Presumably Peekaboo Nopants was already taken.

Flash is worried that she'll now have a reputation as a troublemaker which might stop her being invited to take part in music industry jobs. Although that's never been a problem for Amy Winehouse, has it?

Jackson's finances

As various lawyers and accountants sort through the details, a clearer picture of Michael Jackson's financial hole is starting to emerge:

Michael Jackson provided full financial support to his mother when he was alive and his estate should continue to do so after his death, the temporary administrators of the pop star's affairs plan to argue at a hearing next week.

In court papers filed Thursday, the administrators asked for approval to pay a monthly allowance to Katherine Jackson, 79. The specific amount requested is under seal.

"The special administrators are informed and believe that Mrs. Jackson has no other sources of income currently available other than Social Security income," lawyers for administrators John Branca and John McClain wrote in the filing.

Obviously, you wouldn't expect Tito to have any cash to spare to help out his mum, but you'd think Janet might be able to chip in with a few quid, wouldn't you?
Although Jackson owed creditors at least $400 million at the time of his death, his assets outweighed his debts by more than $200 million and the value of his estate has grown daily with the posthumous popularity of his music.

It does make it easier when you can liquidate the estate, doesn't it? Jackson is turning out be be worth more dead than he was alive, and by quite a distance. Although after the administrators have had their slice of fees, it's not clear by how far that actual positive will stretch.

Here's some extra cash for the pot, though:
Additionally, the estate received $5.5 million last week from Tohme R. Tohme, a businessman who advised Jackson in the final years of his life.

In an interview Saturday, Tohme said he informed Branca shortly after Jackson's June 25 death that he was holding the funds.

He said the money came from record royalties and was going to be used for sprucing up a "dream house" for Jackson in Las Vegas.

There is nothing, in any way, odd about millions and millions of dollars being "looked after" by a vaguely-titled "businessman".
Jackson told him not to tell anyone about the money, he said.

"He said it was something private between him and me, and I honored those wishes," he said.

He honoured the secrecy right up until, ooh, he started to talk about the money. But it was secret, right? That's why it'll look like nobody knew that he had five million of Jackson's money, right? Because it was a secret. That will be why. And it was - can we just stress - resting in his account.

Tohme R Tohme is a great name, though. I bet his parents were Chuckle Brothers fans.

Gordon in the morning: Under the influence

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Leona Lewis is feeling kinda antsy about having to carry a massive global tour on her shoulders. This may or may not have led to Paul McKenna being called in:

The Bleeding Love star has turned to the mind expert to overcome crippling confidence issues.

Leona is undergoing a series of therapy sessions ahead of global gigs to ensure her nerves are kept at bay.

Gordon helpfully illustrates what this might look like with this photo:

Now, this might look to you as if someone has grabbed a photo from her performing some song or other. But, to Gordon:
THIS is the kind of zoned out expression LEONA LEWIS could have once she's told to "sleep" by world famous hypnotist PAUL McKENNA.

Apparently, if McKenna can't help, there are plans to bring in the evil hypnotist from Big Train:

Elsewhere, I've looked at this headline from all angles:
It’s Friel nice out

- and I'm not sure what the pun is meant to be. I know the point is that you can see the right hand side of Anna Friel's left hand breast and they might as well just run with "tits! tits!", but... Friel nice out? Free-all? Real? It can't be real, can it?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mariah Care-y

It's hard to tell if this is a joke at her expense, or, just possibly, being done with a straight face:

Mariah Carey’s new single, Obsessed, has just fallen from number 11 to number 20 in only its second week. This looks to be the biggest flop for Mariah since “Loverboy,” which we lambs made a hit by gathering together and buying several copies. We can do the same for “Obsessed.”

I am asking you to make a donation to [address redacted]. I will spend my time buying several copies of the single. I have already collected $80 from one fan. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, we are setting Saturday as “Obsessed” download day. Please download at least five copies! By the remixes! Mariah needs our help!

Fans effectively paying for their hero's marketing campaign? Oh, please don't put ideas in the RIAA's head; NPR funded by telethons is one thing, but Mariah Carey? That might be stretching charity.

Spector gets a letter

If we're to believe any of it, Charles Manson has been sending Phil Spector letters suggesting that - since they're both being held in the same prison, they should make some music together:

Spector's wife Rachelle Spector told a US newspaper: 'A guard brought Philip a note from Manson, who said he wanted him to come over to his [lockup]. He said he considers Philip the greatest producer who ever lived. 'It was creepy. Philip didn't respond.'

Creepy? God, I'll say. 'One of the best producers' maybe, but to claim he's the greatest whoever lived? That's some serious creeping.

I'm tempted to see if we can get Pete Waterman thrown into the same jail on some trumped up charge to test if Manson approaches him, too. For something other than "do you have Mike Stock's phone number?"

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet: John Foxx & Gary Numan

It's a pity it doesn't end with Gary Numan saying to John Foxx "me, I disconnect from you", but other than there's much glorious about Thatcherite flying ace Numan talking to Foxx from the 'vox John Foxx in a Drowned In Sound brokered Electronic Pioneer meet-up:

GN: Why did you record Systems Of Romance in Germany?

JF: England was all Alf Garnett punk. It had gone from squalling brat to grumpy old man with nothing in between. The scene in Europe was much more rich and interesting. Held far more potential. No one in Britain at that time was making anything resembling the sort of sound I wanted, so Germany was really the only choice.

Twittergem: Camera Obscura

From @camera_obscura_:

Have smuggled a cornetto into the Ben & Jerry's festival. Don't tell anyone. K

News of the World has decided that's enough mourning

The strain of trying to temper Jackson coverage to keep it respectful following his death has taken its toll on the News Of The World over past weeks. It's given up altogether now, splashing Jackson's nose all over today:

THIS shocking picture backs claims that Michael Jackson's nose FELL OFF after being ravaged by plastic surgery.

The picture - taken only weeks before the star died - shows him wearing his trademark shades and mask.

His facial contours are strangely flat and there is only a shadow where the tip of his nose should have been.

It's the News of the World, so it doesn't care that the picture doesn't show any such thing, and that there are plenty of other pictures which show the opposite, and if he had a false nose that worked well for that high-defintion final rehearsal, why would he go out with a mask rather than the nose in the shown photo, and... oh, maybe we should just let them get their stories from stealing people's private data. It might be less embarrassing to watch.

This week just gone

The most-read stories about the Jackson family since the start of 2007 have been:

1. Janet Jackson's diet secrets - just four meals a day
2. Michael Jackson's "victim's diary"
3. Janet Jackson's nipple - half a million dollars cheaper
4. Michael Jackson re-records The Girl Is Mine
5. Michael Jackson album to be sold using modern advertising methods
6. Morrissey is the Michael Jackson its okay to like
7. Michael Jackson to be embalmed, according to a totally-made-up Mail story
8. US tabloids claim Jackson marries his nanny
9. Twitter tracks ticket sale meltdown in real time
10. Everyone wants the Jackson corpse

These were the interesting releases:

Naomi Sommers - Gentle As The Sun

download Gentle As The Sun

Kid British - It Was This Or Football

download It Was This Or Football

Earthling Society - Sci-Fi Hi-Fi

download Sci-Fi Hi-Fi

Billy Childish - Archive From 1959

download Archive From 1959

Seasick Steve - I Started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left

download I Started Out With...

Torchwood: Children Of Earth

Perfecting Sound Forever by Greg Milner

In The City: A Celebration Of London Music by Paul Du Noyer