Saturday, February 20, 2010

This doesn't often happen

Broadly, Simon Heffer and No Rock And Roll Fun are more or less in agreement on something:

Yet it fills one with sadness that so great a recording studio may soon be frozen in time as a museum. What will happen to our fine living composers – and we do have one or two – when they wish to be recorded? On the steps of what building will today's Elgars stand with their young prodigies? At this rate, we shall soon have to revert to the old wartime morale-boosting practice of having recordings of what are deemed to be important works made under the auspices of the British Council. Otherwise, a whole chapter of our culture would close.

If Abbey Road has any value, it needs to be a working recording studio and not a recording-studio-themed visitor attraction.

Darkness at 3AM: Lady GaGa behaves oddly

The 3AM Girls are confusing Susan Boyle and Lady GaGa:

Lady GaGa's "weird" behaviour at photoshoot increases speculation she is finding life in the spotlight difficult to deal with

Lafdy GaGa behaving oddly? Oh, yes, that's totally out of character.

Happy birthday, Allan Williams

A heartfelt happy birthday to former Beatles manager and Aigburth legend Allan Williams, who turns eighty tomorrow.

Kasabian: Internets ruined music

Why did rock music stop being sexy and underground and become so humdrum.

Here's a thought: Kasabian.

No, no: not that Kasabian ruined rock; I mean Kasabian have a theory. The NME has the details:

The outspoken frontman claims there are no iconic musicians left because artists reveal too much about themselves on blogging websites such as Twitter.

He said: "It's not like what it used to be like in rock 'n' roll. In the 60s and 70s you had the likes of David Bowie and Marc Bolan, and then in the 80s you even had shit acts that were rock stars. Then in the 90s you had the Britpop revival."

Yes, I think I remember the Britpop revival. That would have been when, erm, everyone harked back to the days of Britpop while they were still having.

You'll note that Meighan's theory manages to find no room for punk or new wave at all, and also seems to be lamenting an era when "shit acts" were treated as rock royalty. It's a bit like someone trying to form a viewpoint about 20th Century history without including the Second World War and trying to treat Vietnam as the sort of thing America really should be doing now.

Anyway, in the past it was all unlocked doors and smiling policemen, and now it's not. What went wrong, Tom?
"I think - especially in the last three or four years - the internet's taken a stranglehold and killed off the myth of the rock star now."

It's the internets! Of course. Only since about 2007, though.
"You know when you used to buy the records and there was the myth behind them?"

Yes, who can forget the complex myth-making of Britpop; the elaborately constructed backstory of Menswe@r, for example? It was like a Norse legend.
"There's too much on blogs now and I think it's killed it off. Nobody's surprised by an interview anymore or anything. It's quite tragic."

Well, nobody's ever surprised by anything in a Kasabian interview. Except if they were ever to say "actually, Hard Fi were miles better than us."

It doesn't seem to have occurred to Tom that the problem is not blogs and the internet, but more that rock has moved so far from the edges to the centre, and bands are pushed by their labels to make themselves so available. The supply is the problem, not so much the distribution.

Nor that, perhaps, the reason we don't have a Bowie now is that we're quite happy to settle for so much less. If we're giving prizes to Kasabian with a straight face, isn't that sign that - as a culture - we're getting the rubbish pop stars we deserve?
He also said blogging has taken away the spirit of rock 'n roll'. He told Bang Showbiz: "There are so many rock stars writing these self pitying blogs and it's not in the spirit of rock 'n' roll, it's like 'Wow, what rubbish'."

There is, naturally, a document which details exactly what behaviour is acceptable from rock and roll stars, and 'writing self-pitying blogs' is banned. Turns out 'sounding like you're seventy years old and waffling on as if you were Michael Parkinson about how rotten popular culture is' is fine, though.

Dead White Air: Another Brighton festival folds

Brighton-based music festivals have something of a blotchy history, and now there's another entertainment Athena B washing up on the pebbles. White Air, which arrived in Sussex last year after a successful run in the Isle Of Wight (hence the name), isn't happening this year.

The Evening Argus explains why:

Organiser Nigel Howell said: "White Air will not be happening this year in Brighton. It was a fantastic festival in 2009, but due to lack of investment this year we cannot run the festival."

White Air combined extreme sports with music - perhaps the only time that the Red Arrows and The Cribs have shared a bill.

Gordon in the morning: Unfinished monkey business

Gorillaz are planning to do another live appearance. Or maybe not, if you read Gordon's column:

CANER SHAUN RYDER could derail the live comeback plans of GORILLAZ.

He could detail them, could he? How? Might he claim to own a patent on drawings playing guitars? Is he threatening to run amok with one of those Ink Killer pens that wipes out drawings? Has he simply eaten Simon's magic chalk so the pictures won't come alive?
The tubby rocker has been asked to rejoin DAMON ALBARN's gang at America's Coachella festival in April.

The animated outfit play their first concert in four years at the Californian bash on April 16, but the former HAPPY MONDAYS singer said: "The cheeky b******* want to fly me coach class over to the States then do a show directly. C'mon stingy. Cheeky b*******."

"Tubby rocker", Gordon? Really?

So, it turns out 'guest for one song moaning about having to travel like he was no better than Nicholas Winterton' is enough to derail a live performance. Let's hope Damon Albarn doesn't get a papercut, or that'll be it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roky Erickson jumps in the Okkervil River

This sounds like it should be, at the very least, interesting, and possibly unmissable:

Legendary musician Roky Erickson triumphantly returns with the release of True Love Cast Out All Evil, his first new album in fourteen years. Produced by Will Sheff, with his band Okkervil River providing the musical backing, the record is largely comprised of unreleased material penned by Austin, Texas, native Erickson throughout the course of his decades-long career.

In the UK, it's coming out on Chemikal Underground on June 7th. Some way off, but it's never too soon to pick out what hat you'll wear down to the record shop to buy something like this.

Downloadable: Broken Social Scene

We're a couple of months off the release of the new Broken Social Scene album, but they're giving out a sample now. It's a seven-minute free mp3, so it should just about keep you going until May:

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Mary Lou Lord

Picked up from Mary Lou Lord's Facebook page, and then repeated via Oh No They Didn't, Lord has finally spoken about what happened between her and Kurt. It seems she saw that it was the main topic focused on by her Wikipedia entry, and, understandably isn't thrilled by that. So, she's filled out the backstory - via Shawn Colvin and the Teenage Fan Club to playing Kurt's songs for Kurt. It's a lovely slice of a musical story, and reclaims a friendship from the prurient gossips.

Having said that, and because, at heart, indie fans are just like JLS fans, but just with better taste, this is probably the sentence that most people will focus on:

This was a fuckload more than a fictional BLOWJOB (No, sadly (should have for all the shit I took about it anyway) I didnt go there)..that Courtney MADE UP!!

... but that isn't the key part.

[Thanks to the divine Becky B for the link]

UK Music object to other points of views

UK Music - Feargal Sharkey's bunch of the self-appointed portraying themselves as the voice of UK music - have had an incredibly easy ride from the press so far. Nobody ever asks them who, exactly, appointed them, or how much support they have, or where their money is coming from; instead, the media tends to just copy down what Feargal says, puts the words "John Peel's favourite song" into the article, and then run it whole.

So when they come across someone who files a report - Mark Thomas, for BBC2's Culture Show - which takes a more sceptical tone, they react like vicars suddenly discovering that some people use their butts for more than just pooping.

A formal complaint has gone in, which includes this little gem:

In reference to the lack of impartiality, UK Music pointed out that The Culture Show's 10-minute DEB report only afforded one minute and 40 seconds to those who didn't support presenter Mark Thomas's viewpoint.

Jesus, Feargal, even the Daily Mail understand that a balanced report doesn't require that each different viewpoint gets exactly the same amount of airtime; it's important to acknowledge that there are other opinions on an angle, but if we adopt your stopwatch-driven foolishness, every time there's a piece on the Six O'Clock News where an anti-Fascist campaigner gets two minutes, we'd have to balance it out with two minutes of the BNP being foul.

Sharkey also claims the report was "inaccurate":
In the report Thomas also stated that the bill "gives the film industry and the music industry the right … to actually seek a court order to get you cut off from the internet with a bare minimum of evidence being presented".

Another contributor to the report, Cory Doctorow, said the bill meant copyright holders could submit "three false accusations and then taking bolt cutters to someone's internet".

However, Sharkey said Thomas was presented with evidence in advance of the broadcast that the DEB proposal suggests a person suspected of infringing copyright will be sent approximately 50 copyright infringement notices before being considered to be a "serious repeat infringer". Rights holders will not know the person's personal details at that time.

Perhaps - although that isn't written into the bill at all, and even if it was, there's nothing to stop fifty simultaneous notices being sent. And however many notices may need to be sent, the level of evidence required is still "the bare minimum". Indeed, it might actually be more than that.

Still, it's nice that UK Music have found something else to whine about. Anything which keeps them busy and away from lobbying government.

Sometimes, the saviour is worse than the fate

Who is this offering to save Abbey Road? No, not the National Trust, but that other doughty British institution, Lloyd Webber:

His spokesman said: "Andrew Lloyd Webber is very interested in buying Abbey Road Studios. He first recorded there in 1967 with Tim Rice. "Andrew has since recorded most of his musicals there, from Jesus Christ Superstar to his new musical Love Never Dies."

BBC News was reporting this morning that an offer of £30million for the studios has already been turned down. It must be strange for Terra Firma, discovering that EMI actually does have something to sell that people actually want.

Elton John claims Jesus. Just claims him.

It's really great that Elton John has used an interview with Parade to raise the terrible situation for lesbians in the Middle East. It's a serious and important issue, and one that really needs an airing in the Western press.

Let's just hope Elton doesn't blow the moment by saying something that will just cause a bunch of sillies to get all upset, eh?


"I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems," he said. "On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving.

"I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East ­ you're as good as dead."

But, of course, by the time he got to the point, it was already being drowned in howls of protest.

And so it is that instead of 'lesbians killed in Middle East', the headlines are all 'Elton says Jesus is queer'.

Gordon in the morning: Please Rob Me

Splashed all over Bizarre this morning is a report from the Sun's newsdesk:

RAIDERS tried to steal Cheryl Cole's £310,000 wedding rings yesterday by breaking into the mansion she shares with cheating husband Ashley.

Good lord! Perhaps these devious thieves discovered Cheryl had left the country and left those expensive rings behind through Twitter.

Or, perhaps, they'd read the piece in Gordon's column yesterday, detailing Cheryl's exit, helpfully providing details of the two rings left behind, complete with valuations and photos. All that was missing was the code to switch the alarms off.

The Sun: It's a chummy's best friend.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ministry Of Sound under threat

If the National Trust have the time and the energy after dealing with Abbey Road, they might have to move on to protecting the Ministry Of Sound. There are Homes Under The Hammer types measuring up to put in flatlets and modern-style bedsits over the street:

The dance club, which has been running for 18 years in Southwark, is in danger of losing its license if proposals are approved by Isle Of Man developer Oakmayne to build a residential building opposite the club.

It would seem a bit of a cheek to put homes opposite an established nightclub and then block the club's licence because it might disturb the sleep of people who moved in there. MOS ain't happy:
Ministry Of Sound Group CEO Lohan Presencer said: "When Oakmayne told us that 'nightclubs come and go', we were horrified.

"Ministry of Sound is not just any nightclub, it’s the most famous nightclub in the world and the heart of a global entertainment business. We must do everything in our power to save our club and our business."

It's not the most famous club in the world, you silly, but it is quite well known. And, frankly, the existence of the club hardly seems to connect in any way to the rest of the business - which is about releasing tatty compilations and workout DVDs.

Even so, it seems totally unfair that new neighbours can move in and close a club down. You'd have to support Ministry Of Sound on this. Unless the whole protest is merely a ploy to try and persuade the developers to buy the MOS building too.

Vancouver Sun kills Gordon Lightfoot, kills story

The URL seemed quite certain:

The page, though, seems less sure:

Sorry, this story is not available.

It seems that the paper might have run the Gordon Lightfoot is dead story a little prematurely.

Abbey Road looks to a saviour?

With EMI plotting to flog off Abbey Road to stave off collapse for a few more weeks, what will happen to the studios? They're iconic, don't you know?

There's a push coming for the National Trust to buy them.

To be fair, the Trust haven't said no:

A spokesman for the National Trust said: “It’s not often that the public spontaneously suggests that we should acquire a famous building.

“However, Abbey Road recording studios appear to be very dear to the nation’s heart, to the extent that we will take soundings as to whether a campaign is desirable or even feasible.”

There is a bit of a question over how the studios would remain as a going concern under the Trust's ownership - it wouldn't be fair to say the NT pickle their properties in aspic, but it's hard to imagine their approach would allow the necessary updating of kit and studio layout which a working studio would need. And is turning Abbey Road into a heritage/music industry museum a better fate than letting it go?

Oh, dear: Emii

If you really wanted to create a poorly-targeted, toe-curling PR message, throwing this sentence in is going to help:

Coming off a major splash at Sundance where guests such as Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood, Adam Brody and Mark Ruffalo were in awe of her performance, Emii will be releasing her debut single, “Magic” via iTunes on April 6th.

Emii? That's perhaps the worst name in the history of recorded music, apart from late 90s rap act Sonyi-BMGi.

In case you want to know what excited Katie Holmes, Emii is, we're told:
the latest rockin pop female on the scene

And what does she have to offer?
With her stunning looks, sexy and charming personality, Emii is dazzling everyone she meets!

Sexy and charming. That's quite the full package.

And the music?
“Magic” is a fun, sexy song that begs the timeless question: “Is he the right one for me?”

Begging the question is a phrase which trips up the best writers, but here it's not only tripped the writer up, but pushed them down the stairs and hit them with a tyre-iron. I think they mean "asks".

In short, Emii is Avril Lavigne's older sister, and aimed pretty squarely at the market which thinks that getting a tattoo somehow makes you an outlaw.

Twittergem: Tracy Thorn

Exciting news from @roughtradeshops:

Had no idea tracey thorn had signed to merge (via @wichitarecs) new 'indie' album on the way....

Gordon in the morning: Staring hard at Cheryl Cole's ring

Richard White picks up the Bizarre baton for dealing with the minutiae of Cheryl Cole's life, and reports on her flying to LA:

BETRAYED Cheryl Cole jetted to Los Angeles last night - after swapping her wedding ring for a DECOY.

Yes, she went through Heathrow wearing a fake duck on her wedding ring.

Oh... apparently not:
She wore an enormous gold ring as she arrived at Heathrow yesterday, suggesting she was ready to forgive cheating hubby Ashley.

But the rock was NOT from her wedding - or even the second gem the footballer bought her in 2008.

To you or I, this might sound like she was wearing a different ring; to a hack from The Sun, it's a decoy.

We should call in an expert opinion, don't you think, Richard?
And one family friend said: "Cheryl's most treasured possession is her diamond wedding ring.

"She is refusing to wear it.

"The fact she has replaced it with a decoy is a big two fingers up to Ashley.

"To onlookers it looks like she's a married woman - but to Ashley it's a clear sign that she feels their relationship is in big, big trouble."

Yes, it'll fool outsiders. Except journalists, anyone who has ever bought a copy of OK!, anyone who reads people who spend their lives watching Cheryl Cole - in other words, anyone who might even give half a hoot.

If it was supposed to be a decoy, it's a bloody awful one.

While his people are stood staring at Cheryl Cole, Gordon busily mops up backstage at the Brits. And already the question is 'how can next year's be even worse than this years?' Here's one idea:
JAMES CORDEN wants a crack at hosting the Brits on his own next year - to try and better PETER KAY's effort on Tuesday.

To be fair, even James Corden could probably better Kay's effort. Although Kay was probably only about as bad as the previous hosts. Who was that again?
The Gavin & Stacey star had a go last year with MAT HORNE and KYLIE MINOGUE - but believes he can do better flying solo.

Ah, yes. Horne and Corden stank the Earls' Court up in 2009. But it turns out it was Horne holding Corden back - and not the lack of talent and rotting-cabbage of a script.

Meanwhile, it's interesting to see that even Gordon seems to have tired a little of Liam Gallagher's antics. While honking with delight at Kasabian and Noel's aftershow party (they drinked vodkas with Freddie Flintoff), he's less than impressed with what Liam did next:
IT looks like Brits host PETER KAY was spot on.

LIAM "Knobhead" GALLAGHER was thrown out of the backstage VIP bar minutes after making a fool of himself on stage.

Yes, it turns out his tiresome behaviour continued after he'd shambled offstage, pushing over a woman who had been painted silver to look like a Brit award. Another model intervened - he was spray painted gold (there's enough money sloshing about the music industry to pay people to humiliate themselves for the enjoyment of the rich, it turns out).

Liam faced a hard-hitting interview with Nicole Appleton on ITV2 shortly afterwards. Yes, one of All Saints, who you happen to be married to, on ITV2. It's hardly Face To Face, is it?

But even his wife wanted to know why he was attacking the hired help:
"I have been silvered before. I have been pushed over. But I got up and f****** carried on. He is sitting there going, 'Hey, you pushed my bird over!'

This might make a bit more sense if (a) Liam wasn't trying to justify attacking a woman and (b) we hadn't all seen the footage of the guy pushing Noel over and Liam running off to hide.

Liam has also been pushing buttons on his My First Computer to tweet about Kay calling him a dickhead:
"Listen up fat fuck. As a real northerner I was brought up to say shit to people's faces, not behind their back."

Liam, he didn't say it behind your back. He said it into a microphone, broadcast to the room you were standing in and six million people on TV. Perhaps you're such a "real notherner" (i.e. tiresome caricature) you don't understand how electricity works?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

However awful Jan Moir might be, she's not criminal

The Channel 4 Newsroom Twitterfeed has just published this:

Jan Moir's Daily Mail newspaper column about Stephen #Gately's death offended some readers but did not break the law - CPS ruling.

Which seems to be a fair ruling, and does make you wonder why public funds were spent considering the bleeding obvious. She's a homophobic affront to public decency, but if that was a crime... well, actually, the idea of Moir being shut in a cell refusing to watch the television and spitting in her own food to try and stop herself from feeling like she was in a holiday camp is an appealing one. But only a fantasy.

Alexisonfire too hot for the Olympics

Of all the likely security nightmares for Olympics organisers, who'd have thought a gig by Alexisonfire would be the point where it all broke down?

They'd been supposed to play a gig last night as part of the cultural events tied to the games - it's the winter Olympics, so clearly the definition of "cultural" is as loose as the defintion of "sports".

7,600 people turned up to watch; more than anyone was expecting. Result? The barriers gave way:

The Vancouver Sun reports about 20 people were injured as a result of the pushing and barricade collapse, with nine people taken to hospital.

The band pulled the gig. The audience responded with boos.

This would be the aftermath:

This Is Fake DIY go all papery

Who would be as mad as to launch a paper publication into this economy? Besides The London Weekly team, of course, who are probably already certified.

This is Fake DIY aren't mad, but they are joining in with a paper frenzy in the shape of a half-newspaper, half-fanzine, half-freesheet affair.

Issue 0 is available in a limited run, read-and-pass-on format on the streets of London; issue 1 proper is due soon.

(Sidenote: Underground, the much-missed Sounds & Record Mirror semi-fanzine sister monthly, also launched with an issue 0 - distributed free with Sounds. I seem to recall this was the home of The Shend On The Run. It had a limited but lively life, before closing and reappearing-sideways as the glossy Offbeat.)

Glastonbury 2010: Licence approved

One from our 'last with the news' file this, as it dates back over a week, but still interesting: Glastonbury has had its licence approved through to 2016, with plans for 2012 to be a fallow year.

The really interesting part, though, is that for the first time in forty years, there were no local objections to the licence application. On Saturday, the Independent suggested this was a sign that the locals had learned to love the festival; it's more likely an indication that those who objected have passed on or moved on, leaving only those who either didn't mind in the first place, or have moved in some time in the last four decades knowing what was on the doorstep.

I mean, it's possible that old lady who used to have the giant cross in her field next to the site, warding off the evils of Billy Bragg in the folk tent, has changed her mind and now spends the weekend roaming the site selling legal highs. Possible, but unlikely.

We aren't the world

So, with all those a-list stars reworking We Are The World, a load of press coverage, a plum launch spot during the Olympics - that's got to mean We Are The World will debut at number one in the US, right?

Oh... maybe not:

'We Are The World' Debuts At #2 On Billboard Hot 100

But it must have taken something quite special to keep Richie, Jackson (deceased), Jackson (Ms), J, Jean, and the gang from number one? It's not like such a pack of esteemed artistes would have been bested by some clapped-out beast, is it?
The song, a remake of the Michael Jackson- and Lionel Richie-powered original, was only bested by Ke$ha's "Tik Tok," which tops the chart for the ninth straight week.

Doubtless there's going to be angry scenes behind the scenes. Insiders claim they've heard Lionel on the phone hissing "I told you we needed to dig him up and use some sort of ropes to have him dancing around..."

It'll still raise a fair sum for Haiti. And that's the main thing, right? Not the fact that if you pull together all those famous faces, they still can't shift a song which everyone in America must have already bought three times in the last three months.

Giant Drag defeat the illness

Yesterday in America, and at Amazon, Giant Drag released a new ep.

They'd have been going sooner but Annie Hardy has been having problems from her fibromyalgia:

"For me, it's a dull pain that's always going through my body, but mostly in my shoulders and neck. I also have scoliosis, which could be why it's centered there. I feel like I'm 80 years old. Every time it's going to rain, the pain gets worse. It's really brutal. Another symptom of fybromyalgia is chronic fatigue and feeling tired all the time. It makes doing things a lot slower."

Being dropped by their label hasn't helped, either, though.

Downloadable: Bettie Serveert

A first taste of what Pharmacy of Love is going to sound like: Deny All, by Bettie Serveert.

Sounding good for the album, I think you'll agree.

Downloadable: Uber Glitterati

Yes, sometimes all it takes is to hide the word 'glitter' somewhere in your name.

Meet Uber Glitterati: a boy, a girl, a keyboard. They come from Belfast, they know which bits of the 1980s weren't rancid, and beyond that, you don't need much further introduction. Oh, apart from this:

Uber Glitterati - Mail It Overnight by Uber Glitterati

You can pledge to have and/or give them babies over on MySpace.

Gordon in the morning: On the Brits 2010 front line

The make-up of the Sun website means there's two goes at coming up with a headline to mark Lady GaGa's victory.

At first, on the Bizarre homepage, they go with

It's Lady Ga-Gongs

which is a bit weak.

On the main report, though, somebody's come up with this:
Laden GaGa

- which is better.

Gordon explains what happened for those of you who missed her performance:
She changed to a skimpier white outfit to perform her song Telephone and her wacky hairdo made her look a bit like BARBARA WINDSOR in Carry On Doctor. She then sat at a piano to play her little-known number Dance In The Dark.

Funny, I could have sworn it was the other way around. These things look different on the TV, don't they?

Obviously, Smart was writing against a tight deadline but some of his report is just really weird:
JLS delighted their female fans when they were lowered from the rafters at London's Earls Court on CABLES before launching into their hit single Beat Again.

Why would being lowered from the roof "delight female fans"? Is there something especially sexy about hiding in the rafters? Did Gordon have a thing for Swap Shop's Eric?

Of course, JLS weren't the only of Gordon's obsessions to win:
Introduced by host PETER KAY as Leicester's answer to Aswad, rockers KASABIAN cemented their place in history as Best British Band.

Yes, their place in history. Like the way the Stereo MCs secured their place in history in 1994.

Good lord.

It turns out, though, Gordon may very well have been at a totally different event:
PETER KAY's quickfire quips had the Brit Awards crowd in stitches.

This is under the headline "Host of laughs". Really.

In fact, Smart seems to believe that the clunking presentation, dull performances and appearance by a Prince for no reason whatsoever was some sort of near-triumph:
Kasabian's thundering rendition of Fire and Dizzee Rascal with Florence & The Machine proved Brit music is in rude health.

Then there was Peter Kay calling Liam Gallagher a "knobhead" - a priceless moment.

Other than that, the awards were a perfect reflection of what is popular in the UK right now.

Where on earth would you be sitting to think that awards which missed The XX, LaRoux and Little Boots did that?
Dizzee Rascal, JLS, Kasabian, Lady GaGa and Lily Allen were all big winners and deservedly so. The Sun has been behind them from day one.

The Sun has been behind Dizzee Rascal since the start, eh?

Oddly, the year Maths + English came out, 2007, the Sun's online archive reveals they wrote about him precisely... no times at all.
Then there was Peter Kay calling Liam Gallagher a "knobhead" - a priceless moment.

A man with nothing to offer collecting an award that meant nothing showing no interest in his surroundings being chided by a host with nothing witty to say. It probably was the defining moment of last night, but I'm not sure "priceless" is the word I'd go for.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Liveblog: Brits 2010

It's the 30th anniversary of the Brits, if you count oddly and don't look too closely at the details, and in tribute, No Rock is going to be bringing you a liveblog. For younger readers, liveblogs were incredibly popular back in 1977, when the Brits launched. They might have fallen out of favour since, but who can forget Jean Rook liveblogging the silver jubilee?

It's presumably in this spirit of looking back that Peter Kay has been invited to host the event this year, as there's no earthly reason why he should be doing so in 2010 otherwise.

If they'd invited him when he was doing The Sunday Show, he might have been a feisty chrome://foxytunes-public/content/signatures/signature-button.pngchoice. During Phoenix Nights, he'd have been at the height of his popularity. In 2010, he's just a bloke who has a large pile of one-autobiography-too-far waiting to be pulped.

Anyway, bring it on, Mr. ITV. Bring it on.

It's already falling apart. Sound cutting off for no reason. Long pause. Two of the lesser Spices come on the pick up the rememerable prize.

It's B and Halliwell. Geri claims they're the "most naughtiest" Spice Girls, and threatens to swear. But instead goes into an "I can remember when it was all trees here" speech. "We've come home" she says. Go home, more like.

Next award: Andy Serkis ("he's played the lead in Sex Drugs and Rock And Roll: The Susan Boyle story" says Kay. Hopefully he's not paid a scriptwriter for this.)

Serkis is giving out the British Male Solo artist. Could it be Nutini?

"I used to eat extremely sour yoghurt" says the advert. But nobody made you, did they? Nobody made you.

In the run up to the event, NME tweeted that JLS are backstage trying to tell people that they're a proper band and not just a boyband. I sometimes try to tell people that I'm a traffic cop and not just a confused man standing in the road waving my arms around. Doesn't make it so.

At least they've got some new Mastercard break bumpers this year.

Oh, starting with Lily Allen, an airraid siren and a big flag. Lily's entering astride a massive bomb. Which is a metaphor for the next album.

She's doing the one about how terrible it is being famous. Good lord, what the hell is going on with her hair? Did she take pity on Amy Winehouse's stylist for having nobody to pull backwards through a hedge?

Women dancing with prams. Well... it's a first, I suppose.

"I don't know how I'm meant to feel anymore." Which is kind of the relationship the public has with Allen now - is it still okay to like her?

You can tell this is an audience who don't really like music by how few cameras there are being held up to tape her.

Peter Kay has marched on stage. They've already cut his microphone.

He appears to have come wearing that fat suit he had for Doctor Who.

First award: most memorable performance of thirty years.

They've brought Sam Fox on to present, which is a better joke than any Kay has had so far. Let's hope he's having that airhorn inserted in his arse backstage right now.

"The most remememerable performance in thirty years", apparently.

Bollocks - managed to delete the Spice Girls piece entirely. Needless to say, they sent two lesser Spices - Halliwell and B - with Geri at first threatening to swear before collapsing into an "I can remember when it was all trees round here" speech. "We've come home" she finishes, before - thankfully - going home.

Andy Serkis comes on next to do best British Male, with Kay suggesting he's been the lead in "sex drugs and rock and roll: the Susan Boyle story". Let's hope that Kay isn't paying a scriptwriter for this.

Dizzee Rascal is playing tonight. Sorry, has been judged the best British Male.

JLS have come dressed like Action Man has launched a sexy dustman line.

Fearne Cotton is doing her awful interviews with winners piece - or "let's see if we can make people thankful for the adverts arriving". She tells Dizzee that his prize is "the at-last award", as if he'd somehow done enough for it in - when, exactly? 2008?

Over on Twitter, Conor McNicholas:

Can't believe Dizzee won Best Male Solo. There's one in the eye for the major record industry. And the minor industry. #britawards

In some way. Except for the major record industry having, erm, voted for to give him the prize in the first place.

Also over on Twitter, Popjustice:
Backstage, someone is currently telling Peter Kay that it's all going fine and to just relax and enjoy it

It has been a bit fall-apart so far - Kay really hasn't got a script to work with, the sound keeps muting like the audio guy is having flashbacks to when Ozzy was hosting, and there have been gaps... like... this...

Kay does a joke about Holby being on the other side. You can hear Archie Norman hissing "don't remind them".

Is Kay going to say "I'm Northern, I don't do both sides" every time a woman comes on?

Mel B is handling best international male bloke.

The winner is... Jay Z.

See? We say the Brits never move on, but if this was 20 years ago, they'd have gone for Michael Buble.

Funny thing, Jay Z is playing live here tonight. What a staggering coincidence.

How long did it take him to walk to the stage?

God, he's gone 'wassup' like a ten year old Budweiser advert. Now he's rambling about playing Glastonbury - imagine, a place that's had a dance tent and a world music stage for decades embracing hip hop, eh?

"Viewers of Razzle" - Kay can't even get his rubbish joke right.

Noddy Holder - who might have made an interesting host - is doing Best British Album Of Ever. "They put the ten biggest sellers in a hat..." says Nod, before correcting himself that it was a vote by Radio 2 listeners and in no way a random choice from a bunch of tatty old albums.

Oasis, according to this poll, have won.

John Lennon's here to pick up the prize. Liam might have pointedly not thanked Noel Gallagher, but as ITV cut the sound, we might never know.

"What a knobhead" says Kay, getting something right.

And no sooner has Liam shambled off, than they bring on Kasabian.

They've got a naked Gordon Smart stapled to a giant, burning cross in the middle of the stage.

Oh, no, they haven't. Just the fire bit. Plod. Plod. Plod. Carthorses dreaming they're doing dressage.

Over on the Twitters, former host of Naked City Ms Caitlin Moran:
It's dragging like a fox with its leg caught in a trap

Kasabian are still going on, by the way. They might drag this song out until the middle of next week. The cast of Corrie are making emergency plans to do the discovery of Joe's body at the side of the stage during one of the choruses.

Fearne Cotton is interviewing Mel B. Think Frost/Nixon, but with a bottle of Archers sloshing about inside both of them.

Cotton has just called the place B lives "la-la land". Luckily, the Pet Shop Boys break bumpers crashed in before she could go much further - I fear an "across the pond in the US of A" was heading towards us.

Kudos to the anonymous commenter who pointed out that Kasabian have got the night off from Minehead Butlins, by the way.

Mel B managed to use her Cotton interview to thank the rest of the Spice Girls who she had "forgotten" to thank while picking up their award earlier. That's going to make negotiations about the next bankruptcy-verge reunion tour a little awkward, isn't it?

I wonder how they persuaded the Pet Shop Boys to do these break bumpers.

Peter Kay: if you're planning on doing a presentation routine which is based on undercutting the whole event, you might want to make sure you're not presiding over a painful shambles.

"Do you think Peter's doing a good job" asks Geri. The audience stares at their feet.

Geri's now doing the 'sorry, I've just checked Wikipedia and found out I wasn't the only person in the band' apology. And picking on Kula Shaker, which is fair enough.

Although she does ask 'where are they now' - well, their time passed, Geri. But they realised it.

Breakthrough act time, and listeners to radio one are evil. They've given it to JLS.

Instead of La Roux.

JLS have removed their kidnapper-at-C&A dance outfits and got into 'starting new job at Halifax' suits.

Apparently they never ever thought this would happen. Neither did we. It turns out the god they pray to must be stronger than the one we pray to.

"She's flown halfway round the world" says Kay, ignoring that Love has been in Britain for over a week and did the Oxford Union at the weekend.

Courtney Love has come as Meryl Streep doing a Cher impression. She's giving the prize for Criticky-expect-to-do-well thing, which isn't just another Best New Act.

Ellie Goulding (for she is the best criticky new act thingy) says that she was going to take her shoes off to get the award. Courtney is thinking "in Britain you only have to take your shoes off?"

Kay tries an edgy joke about Michael Jackson's doctor, and honoured the scripted pause for "". Unfortunately, the audience didn't.

Lady GaGa isn't doing it in a leotard; instead she's come on like 1970s Elton John had turned up at Lady Di's funeral.

Located, located, located on Twitter (you see?) Kirstie Allsopp is feeling cheated:
Where's the real Courtney Love? Or have I fallen for what the trash mags tell me & she's really Snow White?

Oh, GaGa's stood up now and the cameraman is entertaing himself by trying to read the tattoo on her arm.

It's like she's decided to compromise between doing a big, blousy performance and the low-key McQueen tribute she wanted to do by falling between two stools. Uncomfortably. With the wrong sort of bruising.

"Absolutely mesmerising" says Cotton.

"I would have liked it if she sang something I knew" says Halliwell.

Then - oddly - Courtney Love agrees with Geri.

You know what? I think I'd rather be at that Pet Shop Boys gig you only get ten seconds of every commercial break. It looks like more fun.

Tigerboy in the comments has suggested that ITV are actually staging this as a tribute to the 1989 show. At this rate, if they're going to find anything to use a hook to hang the trails for next year on, they'll be hoping for a gang of thugs to burst in and start stealing jewels. Otherwise it's gong to be "do you remember how crazy 2010 was? The year that as soon as anyone said anything vaguely interesting, we turned the sound off."

They've even got a cat at the Pet Shop Boys advert.

Peter Kay does a joke about garlic bread, supposedly being caught in the middle of a train of thought when the broadcast resumes. Unfortunately, he's been caught in the middle of an aimless twitter (old sense) every time they've come back from the ads.

What's this? Best band in London? Idris Elber seems a bit confused, to be honest. He also seems to be suggesting so many people watched the Superbowl because they had a British band on at half time.

Kasabian are getting the award for Best British Group. No, seriously. God, they look terrible. Like Oasis if they lived in a static caravan.

ITV have cut the sound again. What's the fucking point in doing it fucking live if you switch the fucking sound off every fucking five fucking minutes, you tossgibbons?

"You cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs" conclude Kasabian.

Oh, god, Kay has just mentioned his awful X Factor "satire". It's like he wants us to hate him.

Half way through. Steady, everyone.

Cat Deeley is on hand to present the MTV's best international breakthrough.

Let's just ponder for a moment why the set is a giant clock.

Cat tries to take responsibility for GaGa's succes - "her first major US TV appearance was So You Think You Can Dance" ("I made you, GaGa, and I can destroy you" goes unsaid, but she means it.

GaGa, then. "You'd forget other international artists exist" trills Fearne as she trots up. Well, yes, if - like you, Cotton, you can only hold one thought in your head at a time.

Saying Lady GaGa came on a motorbike, or Dizee Rascal comes from Newton Abbot is not being satirical, Kay. It certainly isn't enough to base your entire show on.

Has to be said, Dizee and Florence pair up better than the usual surprising collaboration slot. But that's mainly because Candi Statton's You Got The Love is the sort of song you could strip down and set up at any travelling show you care to name.

They're throwing the confetti round like they've found the quarter of a million on Deal Or No Deal.

Prince Harry has shown up - only on tape, which is funny when all the winners have at least been arsed to show up. Whoever edited the tape left in the awkward face he pulled at the end. Of course, he had nothing useful to add, but it did mean one less slot for Fearne to do interviews, so for that we must thank him.

Citroen appear to be using footage of John Lennon telling us to do something different and new to promote their new car. Once again, Yoko remind us of the 'when you have a pig as great as that, you don't eat it all it once' Ronnie Corbett joke.

I'm prepared to give up a kidney if they start the ten o'clock news now.

Jonathan Ross is doing a prize? Dressed up as one of Run DMC? Shouldn't he be presenting this? After all, Ross is doing some comedy which is falling flatter than a kipper experiencing g-force, so he ticks the boxes.

His gift to give is best international female.

Lady GaGa has won this one, too. Newspaper editors breathe a sigh of relief, as they can at least run those "Brits go GaGa for GaGa" headlines. And pictures of her in a skimpy outfit.

"I love my fans so much" says GaGa. She actually sounds genuine, which just makes Peter Kay come across as even more of a cock.

Shirley Bassey is wearing an animal-print dress, but the sort of animal which has a pelt made from pure gold.

Her job is to offer a small statue to the best British female, from a not very tempting field.

Lily Allen wins - she has also performed tonight, you know. But it's just a coincidence. It's in no way a fix.

Her hair has turned orange since she was on stage. Perhaps a tribute to Annie Lennox who owned this category for 47 years. She comes to the stage so slowly you suspect she was just waiting until the PRS would decide enough of The Fear had been played to deserve a payment.

Allen then delivers a dull speech of thank yous which goes on for too long. Like a firecracker without a fuse.

Jay-Z has decided to make his act better by adding Alicia Keys to the performance. Which is like making a apple pie better by hiding a dead hamster in it.

Still, nice of Jay-Z to capture the spirit of an evening celebrating the best of British music and entertainment by singing, erm, a hymn to the spirit of New York.

If you told one half of the audience this was Alicia Keys with a guest rap by Jay-Z, they probably wouldn't be surprised.

"Concrete jungle where dreams and made, there's nothing you can't do" trills Alicia. Oh, yeah? Can you rustle up a Greggs pasty at 9am, New York?

That was alright, actually. Certainly better than what comes next - Ferane fawning over Lily Allen.

With a cold, clammy hand on my heart, I've suddenly realised they're building to Robbie Williams, aren't they? That's this year's Macca moment. Maybe that's why they've set the bar so low for the rest of the evening.

They've put the snowboardcross on hold because of the weather. If you were thinking of seeking your kicks elsewhere.

More rightness from Twitter: Chris Rubery:
Dear Jonathan Ross - this was funnier when RICHARD MADELEY did it. Think on that. #brits

Peter Kay hasn't been killed during the break. A fine advert for the power of British tolerance.

Mika tries to stop us hating him by mentioning Haiti and charity. That only makes us hate him a bit more. Apparently one of the shortlist for best international album he actually wants to win.

Lady GaGa takes it, though, which feels - unusually for the Brits - like a prize going to the right person. At least as far as the major labels patting themselves on the back goes. It was never going to be Empire Of The Sun, was it, and it would feel like seeing your daughter marrying Peter Kay if they had.

In order to mock Cheryl Cole's shampoo adverts, Peter Kay has just uttered the words "weak, limp, lifeless." A nation of TV reviewers praise the lord, and finish their copy.

Cole in wearing a white mac and big boots. So are her dancers. Is she going to rip it off during the dance routine?

I thought ITV had dipped the sound again, but no - the song is just so weak it failed to make it out the speakers.

Oh, look: she's taken the mac off to reveal something skimpy and sparkly underneath. I am literally speechless with surprise at such a thing. Lucky old Ashley Cole, being banned from having to watch this.

According to Wikipedia, this Cheryl Cole appears on TV critiquing other people's singing.

Alan Carr has come on stage, trying to pretend he hasn't spent the last two months laying awake chanting "please don't come back to channel 4, Jonathan Ross". Still, if your star is on the wane, Alan, you can look forward to hosting this in 2014.

Is this the best single prize? Zattoo stuttered and leaped into the shortlist, and from that it could be anything - a list of records left in Asda's dump bin after Christmas.

Yes, best single, and JLS have won. Fearne thinks this is "controversial" rather than the sort of thing which makes even stone lions cry blood tears.

JLS can't believe it. Peter Kay does his 'their name sounds like a sofa shop' joke for the second time tonight. Truly, he couldn't think of two funny things to say about JLS. Actually, he couldn't think of one funny thing.

Tom Ford is going to do... what... something? "How amazing did Lady GaGa look"? Is he going to suggest we try the chicken?

Oh, it's best album time. Now, since she's performed, and hasn't won anything, surely it'll be Florence and The Machine, yes?


A halfway decent album winning the best album prize - albeit one that didn't contain quite as many sweetmeats as we'd hoped for this time last year, and requiring a hefty cover version to keep it aloft. But at least it isn't Kasabian.

(As she leaves Earls Court, Florence Welch picks her coat up from Kate Nash in the cloakroom, and feels a chill)

Fearne asks one of JLS what's going through his head right now. Has she discovered satire this late in the day?

That Blackberry advert with the band who look like The Libertines-dressed-as-Orson doing the Beatles cover? When the great delirium happens, and our bodies become playthings of Satan's evil hordes, it still won't feel as awful as watching that does.

Outstanding contribution to music - this year, of course, going to Robbie Williams to mark the years when he didn't release a record.

Williams starts with one of those mock-pompous self-agrandising pieces which he hopes will make us think that he's sending himself up. Even though he knows, and we know, he really means it deep down.

Then he launches into Let Me Entertain you. Which is exactly like Peter Kay doing his garlic bread line: a man whose ship has long since sailed showing off pictures of his younger self, when he was treated by respect rather a sympathetic smile.

So, what have learned?

In fairness, this year wasn't as awful as last years - Jay-Z and Flo & Dizzee would have made excellent guests mid-way through a Jools Holland programme; Peter Kay was dreadful but at least there was only one of him, unlike The Osbournes; the Pet Shop Boys break bumpers were tantalising glimpses, reminding us that British music isn't actually a fetid swamp, whatever the rest of the programme might lead you to believe.

But JLS? It might have been funny making Rage Against The Machine a Christmas number one, but that doesn't mean we should spend all our time making inappropriate choices for titles, does it?

And Robbie Williams is still a smug lightweight; like Mickey Rooney has butchered Frank Sinatra and is running round with skin pulled over his head.

And so, as Williams gets the stage school kids and expense account execs to sing along with Angels, let us slip away quietly from Earls Court. Oh god, Ellie Goulding is bellowing along. Let's run.

His Sharona

Among those making tributes to Doug Fieger, there's Sharona. His Sharona, as was:

. “I spent the entire weekend with him, with his body [at the services],” she told EW today over the phone. “It was beautiful to see the people who paid him respect on his deathbed — the people who he was the biggest fan of. It was absolutely sinister.” Alperin, who had kept in touch with Fieger until recently, commented on the frontman’s undying zeal for his genre up to the present. “He was so devoted to rock and roll — a walking encyclopedia,” she said. “He would know the b-sides of every single in the day. Just a real fan.” Fieger, who died after battling cancer for several years, “was too young for sure,” said Alperin. “But I’m grateful that he’s out of pain."

Sharona Alperin is now a real estate agent; shrewdly, she sells her houses through

Guy Hands: If I can't have EMI, I'll smash it to pieces

As he struggles to try and stop Citi taking EMI from Terra Firma, a document emerges showing that Guy Hands proposed breaking up EMI late last year.

His vision? Split off the bit that makes money (publishing) from the bit that sucks out the cash (records).

Though Citigroup rejected the proposal, Mr. Hands wrote that "we believe that we are in agreement in relation to a number of the key components of an acceptable solution including the need to separate the two businesses."

Mr. Hands's proposal focused on fixing the financial structure of the two divisions, and didn't discuss operational strategies.

"So one of your kidneys is totally broken, our plan is to rip out the good kidney and give that to someone else. That way, at least your good kidney has a chance."

Still, all this interest in the future of the business must make interested parties delighted? Citi and Terra Firma suggesting strategies? Two heads are better than one, right?

Eh, Wall Street Journal?
A filling last week from Terra Firma shows the harm the tug-of-war over the business and the bad publicity surrounding the deal is causing. In an email to Mr. Hands in early October, EMI Music CEO Elio Leoni-Sceti wrote that in the first nine months of 2009, counterparties' concerns about EMI's stability caused the company to lose distribution deals that would have gen rated income of $13 million a year. "Not only are artists and artists' managers raising concerns but morale within the company has reached a low point," he wrote.

The guys at the Brits tonight in a sealed plastic tent? That'll be the EMI table.

Gordon in the morning: That crazy Lady GaGa

Ha! Lady GaGa. She's ker-azeeeeeee, right, Gordon? What crazybonkersbarmy idea is she cooking up for the Brit awards? Do tell:

LADY GAGA has thrown the Brits ceremony into chaos by ditching her performance plans at the last minute.

Her plans? What had they been?
In her original plan she was due to drive on stage in a beaten-up car packed with musical instruments, wearing a "water dress" - which no one has seen - to perform a medley of hits including Poker Face.

Absolutelyblimmingweeweewoowoomorkfromork, eh?

But she's thrown the organisers into chaos - how come? Is she plotting to ride in on a unicorn with Ronan Keating's face, before turning herself into a giant pancake and flopping down on to the front row while playing Oomp-Pa-Pa on a noseflute?
[S]he has used hours of rehearsal time - which should have gone to other artists - working on a stripped-down set.

GaGa is threatening to appear on stage alone in a black leotard to sing acoustic versions of Telephone and lesser-known album track Dance In The Dark.

Cra... oh. That sounds quite sane, actually. GaGa wants to tone it down as a tribute to Alexander McQueen, which is fair enough, isn't it?

It seems a bit strange that asking to do something a bit low-key would throw the Brits organisers into a tizzy - if she'd gone from standing on a stage to demanding a magic car, you could see the problem; the opposite journey isn't really all that difficult.

Unless the Brit organisers don't think GaGa is capable of entertaining the audience without a hat shooting fireworks and a midget hidden in her britches. In which case is she good enough to be invited in the first place?

Gordon, of course, ends on a watery nothing to hedge his bets:
I think the last-minute drama only adds to the appeal of the Brits.

Really? "I can't wait to see that show as apparently there were some discussions behind-the-scenes yesterday."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kittie have something in common with Mary Bell

Neither, it seems, can live down what they did when they were children.

Kittie, you'll recall, were pegged as a bit of a novelty when they first exploded, all eyeshadow and shouting. Too young to be a proper band. And they've grown since - not to the extent that they've embraced being demure and started to play covers of Judd songs, but... well, they're not 14. But people won't notice:

think slowly, but surely people are starting to understand and appreciate the fact that we are not going to give up. We continue to get better and it's just a matter of time before people see the validity and merit in what we are doing. Obviously, we have our fans. We have fans that have enjoyed the band for ten plus years. And we have a rapid following when it comes to our diehard true fans. But I think, we still have yet to crack that idea, that bias that a lot of people have about the band. With every new CD, the old KITTIE that people remember and slag on, kind of fades away because we are not that band anymore. We shouldn't be judged now on what we did when we were fourteen.

It must be frustrating - in the time they've been pegged at fourteen in the popular imagination, Melisa Joan Hart, Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus have all been allowed to grow up. Perhaps it's time to let Kittie at least nudge forward to their sweet sixteen?

Newwaveobit: Doug Fieger

He's been unwell for quite a while, but still a shock to hear of the death of Doug Fieger.

Fieger was lead singer of, and co-writer for, The Knack, one of the few bands who managed to broaden out the appeal of New Wave to the bar-room without knocking too many of the edges off.

Their peak was My Sharona, a 1979 hit in America and Britain; President Bush was revealed to have stolen an mp3 version of the song to keep on his iPod for when he was keeping himself busy at the White House.

E Online reports something Fieger said in a Detroit News interview just last month:

"Everybody knows they're going sooner or later. I don't know any better than anyone else when I'm going. I've had 10 great lives. And I expect to have some more. I don't feel cheated in any way, shape or form."

In a busy life, Fieger played briefly for German progrock band Triumvirat. This might sound like the sort of thing a wag appends to a recently-deceased person's Wikipedia entry, but it's true. The Germans had spent some time in LA - partly to avoid the West German draft - and recruited Doug. When the band relocated to Europe, Fieger grew tired of their disorganisation and quit, going on to join The Knack.

Fieger produced other acts, and provided guest vocals for Was (Not Was) and others, but it's this song which will always be playing whenever he's remembered:

BBC Trust report: Radio 2 must better serve older people

So, alongside the report from the BBC Trust which was heartening about 6Music there was a separate report (well, a connected one) into Radio 2. This one, in short, agreed with complaints of commercial radio that Radio 2 isn't doing enough to serve older listeners.

Naturally, commercial radio doesn't really give a honk on the traffic helicopter's horn about whether older people find stuff on radio which they like or not. If commercial radio was bothered about that, it would make programmes for people over the age of ten. But it does feel that the more time Radio 2 is tending to the 65+ age group, the less time it will be playing newer music, and thus the less competition there will be for Heart.

This does sort-of fall down a bit in the assumption that you lose interest in new music as you get older - as if it vanishes with your hair.

Still, the BBC Trust has bought the argument:

Radio 2's under-35 audience had "grown significantly over the last 10 years, albeit from a low base, but since 2004 this growth has stabilised", the trust report added, with 82% of Radio 2's listeners now aged over 35 and an average audience age of 50.

But the report warned that the number of over-65 and "in particular" over-75 listeners had fallen. "Radio 2 should investigate the reasons for the decline" and "consider whether its range of music continues to meet this audience's expectations", the trust concluded.

There is a possibility that, since people who are 75 now would have been 18 just as rock and roll was bursting out, and so might be more likely to listen to the Beatles and Stones of Gold networks than be found gathering round a bunch of old 78s. Radio 2 might have a lower percentage of over 75 year-olds than they had a decade ago because over 75 year-olds are more confident at moving between media outlets and less easy to pigeonhole than their parents were.

Downloadable: Hugh Cornwell

Hugh Cornwell has been quietly interesting since The Stranglers proved too small for his desires. He's been solo for twenty years now. I did say quietly.

His most recent album, Hooverdam, has been produced by Liam Watson, engineer for the White Stripes' Elephant (released back in the 'when they were interesting' era). Oh, and you can download it for free from his official website.

6Music saved for a delighted nation

The BBC Trust report into the future of Radio 2 and 6Music has just been published. Much to explore in there, but the headline is that the Trust aren't suggesting 6Music be closed. Indeed:

The station must raise awareness and grow its audience. In doing so it should also seek to attract enthusiasts of alternative popular music from audience groups which are currently less likely to listen, particularly older listeners.

Audiences believe that 6 Music offers something which is not available on other radio stations and analysis shows that there is very little song overlap between Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio 1 and commercial radio.

The challenge for 6 Music will be to grow its audience without changing the aspects which currently set it apart from other radio stations. One of the ways the station should do this is by ensuring presenters are not only popular but also have musical credibility to act as trusted guides for alternative music enthusiasts.

In other words: even the BBC Trust didn't think George Lamb was right for the station.

Marc Riley for breakfasts, then?

iTunes: All bill, no songs?

Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency is investigating claims that iTunes customers are being charged for downloads they say they never made:

"We have seen such cases increasing, notably since autumn last year," said an official with Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency.

"The damage in those cases seems to range from a few hundred yen to several hundred thousand yen (from several dollars to several thousand dollars)."

This would seem - with the figures involved - to be less about iTunes making up downloads, and more about fraudulent use of iTunes accounts. Curious that it only seems to be happening in Japan... for now.

On the other hand, after years of people downloading music without handing over money, maybe the music industry has now decided it'll redress the balance by taking money without people downloading tunes.

Gordon in the morning: A record of sorts

Sun single breaks charity record

Well, yes, although (as we observed last week) not quite the record they were originally aiming at:
THE Sun's Helping Haiti single sold 350,000 copies in just FOUR DAYS - becoming the fastest-selling charity single of the millennium.

That's very careful wording indeed. Not biggest selling, not even biggest selling charity single, but fastest-selling charity single in the last ten years.

Obviously, it's put about a third of a million quid in the pot for Haiti, and so it's not a bad thing, and it's selling alright. But even with the combined weight of The Sun, ITV, Simon Cowell and Gordon Brown behind it, it's been something of a stutter. You can't help wondering if all those rich people involved, with all that time, and all that coverage, could not have come up with something a little more imaginative than yet another charity sing-along.

Still: selling a bit faster than the X Factor single for Great Ormond Street. There's always a positive angle.

Back in Gordon's normal realm, and - after a spell where he seemed quite happy with their sticking together - Gordon's returned to last year's attempts to persuade Cheryl Cole to liquidate her contract with Ashley. Today, he's using the rest of Girls Aloud as sock puppets:
A close friend of the group said: "As far as they're concerned Ashley is holding Cheryl back. He doesn't deserve her and she doesn't deserve any of this worry."

Gordon! Are you calling yourself a close friend of the group now?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brits 2010: The element of surprise

You know one of the great things about the Brit awards? It's that moment where you discover the supersecretsurpise duet.

Admittedly, they always turn out to be something of the nature of Mika and The Gossip slapped together like the front of '78 Escort cut and shunt on the rear end of a '87 Metro. But at least it's a surprise, right?

The last thing you'd want to do would be issue a poorly written press release detailing who, and what they'll be doing and... oh...:

As the most thrilling night in music looms, UK record labels’ body, the BPI can reveal that Dizzee Rascal and Florence + The Machine performance at the BRIT Awards 2010 with MasterCard will be made available for download on the iTunes Store ( For the first time in BRITs history, audience members and viewers watching LIVE on ITV1 will have the chance to download their very own souvenir of the 30th anniversary show, and a donation will be made to the BRIT Trust from every sale of the single until 18 March 2010.

The most thrilling night in music? It's not even the most thrilling night in industry awards shows held at Earls' Court.

Still, I'm sure all the labels who pump a fortune into advertising albums during the ITV show will be delighted that the bloody organisers are going into competition with them.

Oh, it's going to be a mash-up called You've Got The Dirtee Love. I'd have held out for Bonkers With A Hit, myself.

Valentine's Day love advice to Cheryl Cole

Hello Cheryl. Just a hint: Telling Ashley Cole that he doesn't have to go and sit in a chilly Earls Court for hours watching Peter Kay introduce the cast of Hollyoaks to present an award to Pixie Lott is rewarding bad behaviour.

In what way is the phrase "that's it, you're not going to Earls' Court now" ever going to be a punishment?

Nitzer Ebb weekend: Once You Say

Recorded live at the 2007 Gothic Festival at Waregem:

[Part of the Nitzer Ebb weekend]

Love at the Union

If you're following No Rock through the various distributed outlets these days, you might not get to see the comments. Which would mean you'll have missed Jim W's account of Courtney at the Oxford Union. Which would be a shame.

This week just gone

The most-read February stories so far are:

1. Josh Groban growls 'don't complain, it's for charity'
2. EMI's Guy Hands puts not paying tax ahead of visiting parents, kids
3. Grammys results: Victory for the sort of people who do well at these things
4. What killed Jay Reatard?
5. RIP: Johnny Dankworth
6. MTV redesigns logo. For the first time ever.
7. Google shuts down mp3 blogs
8. Le Tigre come out of hibernation to work with Christina Aguilera
9. Lil'Wayne fans desert him in large numbers
10. Men At Work hear the legal thunder

There was a heck of a lot of new stuff out:

Husky Rescue - Ship Of Light

Download Ship Of Light

Los Campesinos - Romance Is Boring

Download Romance Is Boring

Race Horses - Goodbye Falkenberg

Download Cake

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

Download The Courage Of Others

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Download One Life Stand

Jessca Hoop - Hunting My Dress

Download Hunting My Dress

Chew Lips - Unicorn

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Various - Rough Trade Counter Culture 09

Tom McRae - The Alphabet Of Hurricanes

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The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack

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The Sunshine Underground - Nobody's Coming To Save You

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We Are The Ocean - Cutting Our Teeth

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The Mary Onettes - Islands

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