Saturday, January 29, 2011

Assistant four times more productive than Guided By Voices

Making Guided By Voices look like workshy lightweights, their song-a-month endeavour is trumped by the efforts of Assistant, who are/is doing a song a week every week for 2011.

Obviously, we're four weeks in and so it's still early, but the first few tracks suggest that there's enough going to on to get through the mid-September hump. Here's week three's entry:

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Ealing broadside

Wearing his black cap and a mournful expression, Gennaro Castaldo announces Ealing's HMV is closing. Tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow:

Today, spokesman Gennaro Castaldo told Ealing that the Broadway branch was no longer viable and it would shut on Sunday. He said:

"I can confirm that our store on the Broadway will close at the end of this week. Obviously we're very sad to see it go, and whilst the majority of our stores around the country will be unaffected, we're having to look at a few locations that are perhaps not as viable for us to keep open as they once used to be.

"Most of these will be down to the fact there is more than one HMV store in the area serving the same public, but there will also be some instances where we may need to take other factors into account, such as rent levels that are particularly high or where people's local shopping habits have changed in recent years."
It's really nice that Gennaro took the time to actually tailor a response that was specific to the closing Ealing store, rather than just churn out a press release that has less to do with the loss of a local store and more to do with trying to pretend that the chain as a whole is still staying afloat.

Seriously, if there's so few stores closing as you're trying to make out, wouldn't you have the time to find something a bit warmer and personal to say about the shop you're shuttering?
Mr Castaldo said all staff had been informed and HMV are hoping to redeploy as many as possibled to other HMV stores.
Oh, how generous of them to tell the staff a few days beforehand, rather than simply waiting for them to turn up on Monday morning to discover the two CDs racks had been moved out and someone was doing a golf sale in the games area.
He added:

"We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our regular customers who have shopped at this store, who we very much look forward to seeing at other HMVs in the area."
Yeah, good luck with that, Gennaro - people who won't pop down to a shop half a mile away aren't going to start hauling five miles to the next one, are they?

Gordon in the morning: Pitching for Richard Keys' empty seat

For some unfathomable reason, Gordon is leading Bizarre today with a big splash about how old Ryan Giggs feels.

Now, I know sometimes footballers go to nightclubs and shade into showbusiness and crime reporter's patches, but this is just a sports story. What's it doing on Bizarre? Is it a bit like the time The Motorcycle Boy turned up on the cover of the NME as frantic activity took place behind the scenes to keep the ship afloat?

Embed and breakfast man: Goodbye The Band

Goodbye The Band, what are you?

Facebook says:

The sound of flowers bursting out of the ground because they fucking felt like it.
Last FM says:
This is a voluptuous waif of a terrific soon-to-be money making venture. It’s erudite, like the New Yorker.
As ever, though, it's best to ask someone who knows GTB in the form of John Acquardo. KCMasterpeas, what are Goodbye The Band?
Julia and I used to live with John in Santa Cruz, CA. Now he lives in New Jersey. He goes by all sorts of amazing names like William Darkblood and Johnny American.

John once produced a video that claimed to be the long lost sequel to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Salinger supposedly authored this sequel direct-to-video. John submitted The Picture in the Rye to the Whitney Biennale.

John is a big fan of seminal avant-guarde filmmaker and Kansas City native Stan Brakhage. I think he would be a good housemate with Jonas Mekas, Ryan Trecartin and Thurston Moore. He makes real albums and fake album covers.

It's not going to get very much clearer, to be honest, as there's not much Goodbye The Band video around. Not enough to make a weekend out of. Barely enough to make a post from.

Just this, in fact:

If you're intrigued, that Last FM page offers a bunch of sampling-point mp3s, like Kalen's Trip and The Shape Of The Slope.

No more to follow across the weekend

UK ISPs consider buying coach, horses for new copyright, data retention laws

Increasing legal demands for ISPs to monitor what their customers are up to on the internet seem to be a waste of time, as some UK ISPs are planning to keep within the letter of the rules but in such a way as there'll be nothing much to record. Adrian Kennard of AAISP explained to ISPReview why use of Virtual Private Networks and Network Address Translation makes the demands of the law meaningless:

"There are, of course, a whole string of loop holes.

I doubt you need to go to VPN as such. In fact, something ISPs will be doing anyway, carrier grade NAT, will create a similar anonymity as there is no requirement to log NAT sessions.

The data retention stuff is badly drafted and only means keeping what you already process for a year, not logging and new stuff. Even then it is a very narrow set of things to log, and some are badly worded at best. It is much more relevant for telephone call logging.

The DEA is the bigger issue. So far OFCOM say it will relate to the few big ISPs, but that threshold could so easily change, hence interest from ISPs of all sizes."
Trefor Davies of Timico isn't convinced that VPN will work:
"It would be a pretty costly project for all ISPs to implement such a system. It would also bring with it risks – suddenly it becomes a lot easier for governments to start monitoring all your traffic because it all goes through a single point (or at least a few points) on the network. In the UK the Data Protection Act if applied to an ISP would also prevent them from offering such an anonymizing service because legally they would be obliged to provide the logs."
There's an obvious irony in the law designed to protect our data privacy could end up undermining our privacy, but the good news is that some ISPs, at least, are working with their customers instead of against them. As Egypt is demonstrating again this weekend, an internet which exists only to do what the government lets it is an internet that works against democracy.

6Music: Friends reunited

The reunion of Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq now takes place with such regularity on 6Music they've probably given Jo her own locker in the 6Music offices.

But here's a reunion that's a rarer thing:

Collins and Maconie were a partnership to be reckoned with in the Nineties, first presenting their Sony Award-winning show, Collins & Maconie's Hit Parade, on BBC Radio 1 and then their TV show, Collins & Maconie's Movie Club. They also presented a comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Now both well-established members of the BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 family in their own right, Stuart slips into Richard Herring's seat, for one day only, to revive the magic of their collective former radio glory.
Surely, BBC Press Office, even if you ignore their spell as twin strikers on the NME, their first work together was on the proper Radio 5?

Still, that's a quibble. This doesn't seem to be part of a larger swap - Richard Herring won't be co-presenting with Mark Radcliffe, nor does a universe balancing show bringing together Marc Riley and Stuart Lee seem to be in the offing. But this will delight those of us whose cold evenings in rented bedrooms were warmed up by Collins & Maconie in the 90s.

February 12th, 6Music, at 10am. If they can get David Quantick (now part of a double act with Roy Hudd, which I don't think anyone would have predicted) it'll be perfect.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kings Of Leon just boorish, not homophobic

Kings Of Leon at war with Glee? It's like an FA Cup Match between Nowhere Town and Barely United.

Ryan Murphy, the man who "created Glee" (and, at the same time, killed hope), had had a little pop at the Kings Of Leon earlier in the week in The Hollywood Reporter:

"Fuck you, Kings of Leon. They're self-centered assholes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It's like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music."
This might be seen as being a little extreme. Sure, some kids might discover music through Glee, but it's not like it's the only way to discover music, and you could argue that the glossy, sugary version of music offered by Glee might be as offputting to some kids as it is a turn-on. Having some music that isn't turned into a big production number is surely a good thing?

And to say that refusing to licence a song to a hugely profitable television and merchandising franchise is the same as decrying arts education is the claim of a man who has confused being showrunner on a live-action version of The Archies with being the Mahatma of Musical Education. It's a silly, self-satisfied claim.

This is terrible, though. I'm having to side with the Kings Of Leon. I hope their response is somehow douchey, to restore the natural balance.

Luckily, they don't let me down:
Kings Of Leon Vs. 'Glee': Nathan Followill FIRES BACK At Ryan Murphy In Homophobic Rant
Really? A homophobic rant, you say, Huffington Post? That sounds bad:
Here's how Nathan Followill, the drummer of the band of brothers, replied via Twitter: "Dear Ryan Murphy, let it go. See a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra. Zip your lip and focus on educating 7yr olds how to say fuck."
That's not really a homophobic rant, is it? It's just a bit petty and overstated. But you can see how it might look a little homophobic to tell a gay man to buy a bra.

It took Followill a short while to see how it might look like that.
Realizing how his comments could be seen, Followill later tweeted: "I'm sorry 4 anyone that misconstrued my comments as homophobic or misogynistic. I'm so not that kind of person. I really do apologize."
Followill's apology seems genuine - or at least as genuine as anything in Glee or the Kings Of Leon catalogue, so it's a little unfair of HuffPo to insist he was ranting homphobically. Unthinkingly? yes. Ranty? A little bit. But all in all, the Huffington Post has managed to make itself a full third partner in a story from which nobody emerges looking that good.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Queen-era lead by Queen

To mark the Diamond Jubilee or something, the Office For National Statistics has compiled a list of the best-selling singles and albums since 1956.

Yes, I know that this sounds more like the job of the BPI or the Official Charts Company, but the ONS have done it. And I know 1956 isn't 60 years ago, but... look, they've done it, alright? For whatever reason.

They put Queen's Greatest Hits at the top of the album list, and then it's the sort of things you'd expect: Abba, Oasis, Dire Straits.

Who can make sense of all this? Just as the ONS might be better off counting national statistics, you'd have thought Gennaro Castaldo would be too busy with jobsite to offer some guidance, but HMV's factopulator can't resist commenting on a survey:

Gennaro Castaldo, at HMV, the music shop, pointed out that Dire Straits's album in 1985 and Oasis's in 1996 book ended the glory years of the compact disc.

He said: "Dire Straits may not be fashionable now but they were huge. 1985 was the year of Live Aid and they were one of the stars of that event. And Brothers in Arms was the defining album of what was then an amazing, aspirational technology: compact disc."
You just know his gaze would have gone all far-away as he said that; remembering the days when there'd be a small queue at the HMV tills, people jostling to flick through the CD racks. A little sigh.

HMV used to be busy.

Back when Dire Straits were huge, and everyone wanted CDs.

Happy days.

Hacking Ke$ha off

Der Spiegel has the story of Deniz A and Christian M, two young hackers from Germany who have been vexing Sony and others by - allegedly - taking materials off the hard-drives of record company staff and pop stars and selling it on.

It's quite a sad story, because it seems like the motivation isn't malicious or greedy. There are demands for money, and blackmail, but it's all so poorly thought-out as to be heartbreaking:

In April, Deniz hacked into the computer of Jason Clarkson, the brother of American singer Kelly Clarkson. Using his computer, he managed to infiltrate the pop star's laptop and downloaded 19 new songs from the hard drive. He would have preferred Lady Gaga, he later told the police, but he couldn't get into her computer. Nevertheless, Kelly Clarkson wasn't half bad, he added. Soon afterwards, he sent an e-mail to a woman from the German Kelly Clarkson fan club, asking if she was interested in buying the next album -- the whole thing. The woman notified the star's management, negotiated a price with DJ Stolen and eventually got all the songs from him for €250. She also kept a copy of the entire chat.
I suppose it's something of a surprise to see that anyone has found a way to make serious money out of selling music online.

More seriously, if you're ripping off Kelly Clarkson, who would think the best place to start would be her biggest fan?

The use of apparently "embarrassing" photos of Ke$ha taken from her laptop to get her to record "drops" is less amusing, but reads like the actions of someone who doesn't realise the gravity of what he's doing. It doesn't make it right, but given the material is meant to be of a career-destroying degree, the demands Deniz made seem pretty small.

The real question the story raises is while the police concentrate on hobbyists who leave their digital fingerprints over their unseasoned attempts at extortion, what are the more experienced hackers getting away with?

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Mrs Blunt goes down the school to stick up for her son

Today have done a piece on the 'pop's gone posh' story this morning.

In return, they got a moaning email from James Blunt's mum, complaining that "most critics" take a harsh line on her little James "because of his background".

Up to a point, Mrs. B - given that James probably wouldn't have got past a record company door without the benefits of his privileged start in life, he wouldn't have been in the line of criticism without his poshness.

But the criticism itself is down to his droning, dull music. I don't know whether we'll ever find out if insipid balladry is down to nature or nurture, but be assured that he is being judged on his record. Literally.

Gordon in the morning: Sometimes Gordon can surprise us

Whoever would have thought that Gordon Smart would find space to cover the story about the Arkansas supermarket covering up the Elton, David and child cover?

A MAGAZINE showing SIR ELTON JOHN with his gay partner and their baby is CENSORED at a supermarket - sparking uproar.
Of course, Gordon had recycled the OK cover story a few days back, but who would have thought that he'd have chosen this as something his readers would like to read between photos of Megan Fox and lots and lots of stuff about X Factor contestants?

He can't quite bring himself to endorse the sentiments of the protests, though:
Gay campaigners were outraged at the "homophobia".
Much as the supermarket couldn't quite stomach the photo without a protective cover, Gordon can't quite talk about homophobia without the protection of a strong pair of industrial quotation marks.

The good news is that the store HQ stepped in and told the outlet to not be so bloody prissy, or words to that effect.

Although the ending isn't quite as happy as Gordon seems to believe:
Yesterday the mag was OPENLY on display at the store in Mountain Springs, Arkansas – on orders from HQ.
Yesterday, Gordon, the Elt and David issue wasn't on sale any more, what with Ok being a weekly, so the store would have been selling an issue with Brad from The Bachelor on it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Motownobit: Gladys Horton

Gladys Horton, lead singer of the Marvelettes, has died.

A co-founder of the band originally known as the Casinyets (short for Can't Sing Yet), she took over as main vocalist when Georgia Dobbins quit the group. Rebranded The Marvelettes, Horton was just fifteen when this song was a hit:

The follow-up to Please Mr Postman was Twistin' Postman, a song which attempted to have the cake of "songs about postmen seem popular" and eat the trend for the Twist. Not even the kids were going to buy that, though. Even so, he powerhouse of Motown and hook-ups with the like of Smokey Robinson kept the band in sales and the charts through the first half of the 1960s.

The band was never a fixed grouping - Georgeanna Tillman left through ill-health, as did Juanita Cowart. In a somewhat brutal move, in 1965 a new lead singer was brought in to the band, pushing Horton more to the sidelines. In 1967 she quit the group altogether to get married.

Horton never quite left the stage. Although looking after her son meant she was sort of semi-retired, she would play as Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes (Motown had sold the band name on and so no actual Marvelette was able to perform directly under the name.)

Gladys Horton died Wednesday in Sherman Oaks, California. She was 66.

Google sets out to frustrate would-be filesharers with short attention spans

The headline on the Zeropaid report is quite eye-catching:

Google Begins Filtering Cyberlocker, BitTorrent Search Results
Except, actually, it isn't. What Google has done is stopped the autocomplete "guessing" when you type the name of some sites that help people share files into the search box.

Google have also gone about drawing up the names that don't autocomplete in a very half-arsed way, too, which suggests this is the anti-piracy equivalent of telling your colleagues about a New Year's Resolution: sure, it sounds good to think it might be a positive action, but really it's just a gesture designed to look better than it actually is.

"I was going to go on Bittorrent to see if I could download every record ever made" says Fandango Gibbons, 21, "but I didn't know the address. So I went to Google to see if I could find it, but I had to type the whole name in the search box. It didn't suggest it or nothing. Keystroke after keystroke after keystroke. It was too much, you know? And even after I'd typed 'bittorrent' in, it still did nothing. Just sat there waiting for me to press 'enter' or 'return' or something. As if! Like I'm a robot. So I went into town and bought all the records ever made instead. Much better than typing a whole word."

Gordon in the morning: What are you doing, Bear?

I know that times must be tough at Wapping right now, but... what the hell is this?

Apparently, Victoria Beckham has been eating a lot of Marmalade, so "deputy Bizarre editor" Lia Nicholls has had this made. It's meant to be Paddington, but with Beckham's face. Yes.

Surely the joke when you hear Victoria is eating lots of marmalade is "let's hope it doesn't make her skin permanently orange"?

Two days running now that the main story has been written by one of Gordon's underlings - perhaps he's on holiday. Or in a back room going through paperwork for whatever reason.

"Pregnant woman allegedly has craving" is a bit of a thin story - shredless, if you like - to spread over a lead, and even putting in a photo of a jar of marmalade doesn't fill the yawning hole. Lia battles on, though, trying to hit the word count:
She is among 40 per cent of expectant mothers who list "something sweet" as their number one food craving.
But this - and even a pedantic description of "English breakfast tea" accompanying the food - doesn't quite make it. In the end, she's reduced to this:
Meanwhile Tesco is trying to revive the popularity of marmalade by selling oranges so customers can make their OWN.

Recent research shows sales are falling as shoppers turn to sweeter alternatives like chocolate spread.

A spokesman said: "We want to maintain this fine breakfast tradition."
Now, you'll have spotted that in an earlier bid to fill the page, Lia suggested Posh was having a craving for sweet things, but here, she's saying that Posh's craving isn't actually that sweet at all.

Clearly, we should be relieved that Wapping have stopped getting their stories by hacking into people's phones and are now filling their gossip columns by recycling old grocery press releases.

In other 'news':
BEATLES legend PAUL MCCARTNEY tells comic JAMES CORDEN he's too FAT to go to Africa in Comic Relief's funniest-ever sketch.
Ha ha ha - you see, because James Corden is fat. That's why it's funny.

Of course, given that amongst the charities Comic Relief support are anti-bullying groups, you might wonder if building a sketch around someone being told they can't be part of the gang because they're "a bloater", "tubby" and greedy is actually that well thought-out - isn't that just making people who bully kids who are overweight think that it's okay?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Johnny Borrell and The Borrells get new line-up, look

Of course Razorlight is more than Johnny Borrell and whoever happens to be behind him. Of course. There's a whole new line-up for the band, although nobody seems sure who they actually are.

There are suggestions that they might be spiritual manifestations of Borrell's ego; others have speculated that he had simply grabbed a couple of tramps and used some sort of machine to pump some of his spare self-regard into them.

There is a photo of the new line-up:

There aren't words. And it there were, no self-respecting dictionary would publish them.

Copyright industry lawyers complain about nasty lawsuits

They can dish it, but can they take it?

No, in the case of Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver. They've been making money as the US Copyright Group, sending stern letters to people they claimed had listened to unlicensed music or watched unlicensed films, and getting them to cough up cash to make the whole thing go away.

They sent one of these letters to Dmitriy Shirokov, claiming he'd seen a film he shouldn't have. Rather than pay up, Shirokov counter-sued. As Ars Techica reported:

[H]e sued the DGW lawyers for racketeering, extortion, and committing fraud on the US Copyright Office (among 25 total claims). Even the settlement letters were said to be misleading, since they referenced other cases like the Joel Tenenbaum $675,000 P2P verdict—but without noting that a judge has already slashed that amount as being unconstitutional. According to Shirokov, DGW's idea is merely to scare the accused into paying up.

The suit demanded that a judge stop the "scheme" and force DGW to reimburse everyone who had settled in the case so far. In addition, Shirokov asked for punitive damages.
The lawyers - who always seem so menancing when they're sending letters out - don't really like getting that sort of letter.
"Although an attorney may be accused of defrauding opposing parties, knowingly committing discovery abuses, lying to the court, or purposely and maliciously defaming another individual, if it takes place during the course of litigation, the conduct simply is not actionable," says DGW's response. Such behavior may result in judicial sanctions, but private citizens can't file lawsuits against opposing lawyers who are "simply doing their job."
They go on like this at length.

But then it gets better - they're also trying to sue Shirokov for having the temerity to sue them:
The lawyers should have known better than to bring such a harassing and frivolous lawsuit, says the motion for sanctions, and they should face financial penalties for doing so.
Blimey. A company that thinks it has the right to demand sanctions against anyone for criticising it is one that has somewhat lost a sense of perspective. Perhaps they should think about moving into the New Jersey waste industry instead?

Melanie Phillips apparently works in an Arkansas supermarket

It must be. For why else would the Elton John, David Furnish and child copy of OK have been hidden behind a Family Shield "to protect young shoppers"?

Countryobit: Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin, one of the country era-straddling Louvin Brothers, has died.

Although playing solid country, the guitar-and-banjo harmony-driven duo had an influence which leaked well beyond their genre, touching everyone from Elvis Costello to Uncle Tupelo.

He was born Charlie Elzer Loudermilk in 1927, a farm-boy with connections to the country music scene (his cousin John was a hit songwriter). He formed a duo with his brother, Ira, choosing the name Louvin in the belief that it was easier to say and spell than Loudermilk.

A number of singles for various labels were scattered around in the late 1940s never quite formed into a career; it wasn't until Charlie's return from service in Korea that the duo got the formula right. A contract with Capitol started a run of hits.

The rock and roll they were to influence at first was their undoing; a decline in popularity hit Ira particularly hard; he hit bottle hard; and his drinking hit the partnership. Charlie continued as a solo artist, but as he told NPR in 1996, he never quite got used to not working with his brother:

“When it comes time for the harmonies to come in, I will move to my left because my brother and I always used to use one microphone,” he said of performing solo. “Even today, I will move over to the left to give the harmony room, knowing in my mind that there’s no harmony standing on my right.”
Charlie Louvin died in Wartrace, Texas. He was 83.

Mullen mutters, makes mistake, miffed man makes money

Larry Mullen Jr is out of pocket after claiming in an interview that a Brazilian promoter failed to pay U2 for two 1998 gigs.

Although there were some monies still outstanding from the event, the portion due from promoter Franco Bruni had been paid. So he launched a lawsuit, which Mullen, the journalist and the publisher of the magazine have lost. Damages have been set just shy of half a million in US dollars.

Bono - who had been interviewed at the time, but hadn't been part of the claim - was acquitted. Sometimes, you see, there are stories about U2 where he's in the right.

Still, by the time Larry Mullen has paid his legal fees for the seven year case, and paid the damages, it'll be as if he hadn't earned anything at all from playing Brazil. So he's sort of made himself right, in a roundabout way.

More Pain to come

A slightly confused press release arrives, announcing that House Of Pain are getting back together:

That’s right, for the first time since their split in 1996 the duo is teaming up once again for the “He Who Breaks The Law” world tour that is sure to be one of the most anticipated of the year.
So they're teaming up for the first time since 1996? When was this decided?
“The catalyst of this whole thing was the KROQ show,” EVERLAST explains, “We left Epicenter and immediately started putting this whole thing together. We’ve been reading messages from the fans who wanted to see it; but once you see a crowd that size go crazy and sing along to every word, you know it’s time to do it. We want to give the fans what they want!”
So, at the show they did last year they decided to get back together for the first time this year? How does that work, exactly?

Still, one of the most anticipated tours of the year for sure. Who wouldn't want to see them do their one hint from two decades ago?

Gordon in the morning: It's not a secret if you know

Stuart Pink - who seems increasingly to be handling the bigger stories on Bizarre these days - files news of an engagement:

ROCK star MATT BELLAMY and Hollywood actress KATE HUDSON have got engaged in secret.
Not much of a secret if you know about it, Mr. Pink.

The Daily Mail is outraged

The Daily Mail really is outraged about the Vogue/Kate Moss/Evan Voytas pop video. Really outraged. It just can't get it out of its head:

Saucy Kate Moss flashes her bra and hitches up her skirt to show her pants in one of her raunchiest shoots ever
Two things here, I think. First: is it saucy or is it raunchy?

Secondly: as the Mail itself concedes, she pole-danced for the White Stripes. And in most of her photo shoots, the top usually comes off at some point. Jesus, one of the iconic Moss images is her, topless in dom boots clutching a teddy bear. She's on the cover of Love overheating commentator's tolerance for who we're allowed to kiss. "Flashing her bra" isn't really measureable on the Moss-raunch scale, surely?

But this is the Mail, so it's not just - uh - outraged - by the shoot, stills of which it runs just so its family audience can understand that, you know, it's not making this up, and you can see her pants and everything.

Oh, no. The Mail has other concerns:
Music obsessed Kate Moss has had one of her raciest shoots yet turned into a pop video - but it's not for boyfriend Jamie Hince's band The Kills.
You know, it's one thing to make a raunchy video for your boyfriend's band, but making one for some other act? What sort of hussy is she, anyway?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lily Allen: Enjoy it while you can

On the 19th September, 2008, someone updated the website for Lily Allen and Friends - the BBC Three series - with this upbeat message:

Thanks for watching - we hope you enjoyed Lily's show. And the great news is, she'll be back soon with a brand new series - keep checking here for more details about when it will hit your screens and how you can get involved.
I'm sure we've all been checking back daily, or twice daily, as our schedules have allowed. But despite the optimistic heading "Guests: Series One" on a side bar, nothing.

Not a word.

But we won't have many more days to check. Yes, amongst the sites being closed as part of the latest rounds of Coalition-inspired cuts at the BBC, Lily Allen And Friends is being taken off the internet. Whatever shall we do?

NME Awards 2011: Nominations and shortlists

This year, I resisted the 'Brit Awards 2012' joke. To be honest, there's no real sense of levity here at all.

Beady Eye are in the best new band shortlist - despite only one word in the category name being appropriate; and given that there's been one song to judge them properly on, it's almost as if their nomination has been built on the backs of people going "I'm sure they'll be great".

You'll be delighted to hear that, as mandated by ancient law, Muse are on the shortlist for Best Live Band.

There's a lot of ragging on Justin Beiber, which the NME readership probably views as being proof of their authenticity, but the shortlist for best track hardly yells "I have a sophisticated musical palate."

The awards are sponsored by some sort of hair product, don't forget. Shortlist in full:

Best British Band supported by Shockwaves
Arctic Monkeys
Biffy Clyro

Best International Band supported by T4
Arcade Fire
Kings Of Leon
My Chemical Romance
The Drums
Vampire Weekend

Best Solo Artist
Florence + The Machine
Frank Turner
Kanye West
Laura Marling
Paul Weller

Best New Band supported by Boxfresh
Beady Eye
Everything Everything
The Drums
Two Door Cinema Club

Best Live Band
Arcade Fire
Biffy Clyro

Best Album
Arcade Fire – 'The Suburbs'
Crystal Castles – 'Crystal Castles II'
Foals – 'Total Life Forever'
My Chemical Romance – 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'
Two Door Cinema Club – 'Tourist History'

Best Track supported by NME Radio
Cee Lo Green – ‘F*** You’
Foals – 'Spanish Sahara'
Gorillaz – 'Stylo'
Janelle Monae (feat Big Boi) – 'Tightrope'
Mark Ronson & The Business Intl –'Bang Bang Bang'

Best Video supported by NME TV
Arcade Fire – 'We Used To Wait'
Brandon Flowers – 'Crossfire'
Chase & Status – 'Let You Go'
Gorillaz – 'Stylo'
My Chemical Romance – 'Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)'

Best Festival
Reading & Leeds Festivals
T In The Park
V Festival

Best Dancefloor Filler
Crystal Castles – 'Baptism'
Kele – 'Tenderoni'
Plan B – ‘Stay Too Long’
Professor Green – 'Jungle'
Tinie Tempah – 'Pass Out'

Best TV Show
Nevermind The Buzzcocks
Peep Show
The Inbetweeners

Best Film
Get Him To The Greek
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
The Social Network

Hero Of The Year
Gerard Way
Julian Assange
Kanye West
Lady Gaga
Matt Bellamy

Villain Of The Year
Axl Rose
David Cameron
Justin Bieber
Nick Clegg
Simon Cowell

Most Stylish supported by Shockwaves
Brandon Flowers
Hayley Williams
Lady Gaga
Liam Gallagher
Noel Fielding

Least Stylish
Cheryl Cole
Justin Bieber
Lady Gaga
Liam Gallagher

Worst Album
Cheryl Cole – 'Messy Little Raindrops'
Justin Bieber –' My World'
Katy Perry – 'Teenage Dream'
Kings Of Leon – 'Come Around Sundown'
My Chemical Romance – 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'

Worst Band
30 Seconds To Mars
Jonas Brothers
Kings Of Leon
Tokio Hotel

Best Band Blog Or Twitter
Frank Turner
Hayley Williams
Kanye West
Lily Allen
Theo Hutchcraft

Best Book
Carl Barat – Threepenny Memoir
Jay-Z – Decode
John Lydon – Mr Rotten's Scrapbook
Keith Richards – Life
Russell Brand – My Booky Wook 2

Best Small Festival (50,000 capacity or lower)
Kendal Calling
Underage Festival

Best Album Artwork
Foals – 'Total Life Forever'
Gorillaz – 'Plastic Beach'
Klaxons – 'Surfing The Void'
MGMT – Congratulations
My Chemical Romance – 'Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'

Hottest Woman
Alison Mosshart (The Kills)
Emily Haines (Metric)
Hayley Williams (Paramore)
Lady Gaga

Hottest Man
Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)
Dominic Howard (Muse)
Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars)
Matt Bellamy (Muse)

You know what? Might be a good idea to drop the best book category next year. It kind of suggests NME readers don't do much of the reading.

The Tories love Courtney Love

I don't think I've ever picked up a Guido story on No Rock before, but this one is too good to miss: The Tories' big tent has now expanded to include Courtney Love,:

newly elected as Oxford University Conservative Association’s ’Non-Executive Officer for Rock and Roll’
Like Hank Hill's observation that Christian Rock doesn't make rock music better, it just makes Christianity worse, this is probably a move which reflects more badly on Love than it does for the teeny tiny Tory types.

Still, I guess embracing an out-of-control type famed for her drug use and violent outbursts is a step forward for Conservative students compared with how they were last time round, spending their days calling for Nelson Mandela to be hanged and embracing UNITA.

[Thanks to @jimwaterson for the tip]

Gordon in the morning: Dreams burn down

Gordon breaks horrifying news this morning:

CHERYL COLE might have to unpack the suntan lotion - her American dream is in crisis.
It turns out the people looking after the US version of The X Factor are worried that Cheryl might not be right for the judge's role and are looking for... checks paperwork ah, yes... looking for someone Americans might have heard of.

On the other hand, this story is sourced to, erm...
A pal of her boyfriend DEREK HOUGH
Now, that might sound like a weak patio on which to place your news barbecue, but that would be to misunderstand American television. No US executive would make a move without running it past one or other of the friends of someone who's been on Dancing With The Stars. "Is Matthew Perry right for this role? Can you get me Bristol Palin's High School BFF on the phone so I can check?"

Gordon explains the problem:
But the bottom line is simple - the producers still need convincing. Simon wields a lot of power but he has to play a diplomatic game on US soil to keep Fox, who are making the show, sweet.
God, can you imagine that, Gordon - fancy having to shape your every move just to keep a bunch of suits appointed by the Murdoch family happy, eh?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Diddy

If you haven't yet, you really must read Grace Dent enjoying P Diddy's party going to cock:

As Diddy treated the crowd mean to keep them keen, arriving hours later than planned, his guests were already on Twitter bitching about him. "This is my vision of hell," chirped one poor soul. "The cloakroom queue is three hours long. I wanted to leave an hour ago." "Sober January is rubbish," mumbled another. "Everyone here is dull." Poor Diddy – basically he was Joyce in accounts who'd drawn the short straw of running the party committee. No one had a good word to say about him. Alarmingly Diddy's guestlist was being held to public scrutiny and found sorely wanting. "Shayne Ward, Calum Best and Meg Mathews, WTF? Where are the celebrities?" tweeted one person.

Ofcom tells X Factor off; Cowell hugs money closer to make himself free better

That nice Dermot O'Leary isn't so nice. MediaGuardian reports:

Regulator says Dermot O'Leary should not have encouraged viewers to download songs by Diana Vickers and Michael Bublé
"Oh god, he shouldn't have done it" said the Ofcom findings, "especially the Bublé one - Jesus, that's more than any ear should have to endure."

Actually, the real transgression of the rules was that programmes aren't meant to flog stuff in their programmes:
Programme-makers blamed the references, which they admitted were "inappropriate", to "an unfortunate script error".

This mistake was initially not spotted in the episode broadcast on 17 October last year when O'Leary said: "If you want to download Diana's single, details at"
Okay, so that was a terrible error - I mean, how would you expect anyone at all on the production team of one of ITV's biggest programmes to know one of the most basic and obvious rules about what you can and can't do under the broadcast code. Perhaps that explains the over-bawdy performances on the final - maybe nobody on the team knew you couldn't have women flashing their undies at teatime.

So, one week it was a terrible mistake. These things do happen. What about the next week, though?
The same script was used as a basis for the 24 October programme, when O'Leary said: "If you want to download Michael's single, all the details on".
Oh, what a terrible mistake. Again.

Still, it does confirm a truth I think we'd all guessed at - week after week, pretty much the X Factor is the same but with a quick find and replace done on the script to put in the names of the songs being slaughtered and the guests being given a quick bunk-up and you're away. Indeed, some weeks, it's looks like that even the final outcome was prescripted.

Downloadable: Wire

The new Wire album, Red Barked Tree, is alright, you know. Don't just take our word for it - RCRD LBL is offering a free download of Two Minutes from the record.

PPL not exactly trumpeting the good news

An email from Paul W points out that, bar the odd mention on Today, a bit in DeHavilland subscriber's area, there wasn't much made about PPL's supposed 50% in royalties raised.

Odd - when there's pain in the music industry, there's press releases all over the place. This is pretty good news, and yet hardly a word.

There was a feature on BBC News' business programme just after 6.30pm, though, when it became clear that the headline rise of 50% in royalty take actually refers to overseas royalties.

That's confirmed by the actual press release - available as a PDF, like it's 1997, bless them.

Part of this is down to a change in the US tax regime - PPL is now allowed to take US royalties without tax being withheld in America.

It turns out, then, that by doing their job more effectively, PPL is having a better positive effect on its members' incomes than their sister organisation PRS manage through whining and bitching. While PRS hassles mechanics because people in waiting rooms can hear Radio 2 through the door, PPL seem to be focusing on making more effective collections of the cash that's there. It's a bit of a shame the news has been buried.

EastEnders take over Essex

EastEnders' bid to take on everybody with an Equity card continues with news that David Essex is joining the cast as, obviously, a long-lost relative of someone who is already in the series.

Checks paperwork

Yes, it turns out David Essex is Shane Ritchie's Uncle.

Bryan Kirkwood, executive producer of EastEnders, said: "David Essex is a brilliant signing for EastEnders.

"He is a unique talent with a legion of fans, and he will bring warmth and charisma to the role of Eddie Moon. His arrival, alongside the return of son Michael, brings a new generation of the Moon family to Walford".
It's unclear whether there was any sort of petition demanding a new generation of the Moon family.

Gordon in the morning: Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole - an apology

Hitherto, we might have given the impression that Minogue and Cole's position as judges on The X Factor to be a moral wrong, on the basis that they have never shown any nous at judging music. It turns out that isn't totally the case:

SINGER Jay Kay has lashed out at X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue again - for refusing to applaud his performance on the show.
Sometimes, it turns out, they do get it right.

Gordon's report reveals that Jay Kay is still smarting:
Jay Kay insisted The X Factor was a "TV celebrity show, not a proper music thing", and said it wasn't about picking the best singers but revelling in others' misfortune.
Kay then said "and you know what? Last Of The Summer Wine isn't anything like a true picture of old age in modern Britain. Most pensioners are struggling to make ends meet, not swooshing down hillsides in bathtubs. And In The Midnight Garden? I stayed up until past one am and there wasn't a single Iggle Piggle in my arbour..."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Byrne to Gove: Start making sense

David Byrne isn't the first person to point out that Michael Gove is making education rubbish, and he certainly won't be the last. But he is the most famous American to do so, so far:

"I think it has already been proven that arts education in schools benefits areas beyond the arts," Byrne said. "To cut in that way is narrow-minded. It is not about how many artists you produce, it is about what it does to the thinking of everyone else."

"School is how I found art," Byrne went on. "I had an art teacher who would encourage me and didn't tell me what to do. He would give me a pass to say I didn't have to go to gym class if I had something I was trying to finish. I realised it was a way to discover things about myself and a solace."
Ah, Michael Gove would counter, but can you name the consort to the third Tudor Monarch?

Something else to remember when the RIAA starts heading for the moral high ground

We hear a lot from the RIAA about stealing and right and wrong. It's already pretty hard to stomach - what with the proof that the major labels rigged markets; the way they used their punishment for that as a way of offloading unwanted catalogue; the numerous artists who have proven in court that they were bounced into signing unfair contracts and so on.

Add to this Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Junior, who has just been convicted of making millions of dollars through insider trading.

Honestly, that's just like, ooh, stealing piles and piles and piles and piles of CDs from record shops, isn't it? Perhaps the RIAA should get Britney Spears to make a little PSA trying to warn people out of it. Maybe Warner product should carry a little skull-and-crossbones with the words 'Insider dealing is killing financial services'.

Bronfman, naturally, doesn't deny the deal, but maintains that exploiting information not known to the general public in order to achieve a massive financial gain isn't wrong:

Bronfman issued a statement saying he's disappointed the judge didn't share the position of both the public prosecutor and the lead civil claimant in France, the Association of Small Shareholders. Both, according to Bronfman and his lawyer, said he should have been acquitted.

"I will appeal today's decision to the Paris Court of Appeal and continue to vigorously defend myself against this charge," he said in a statement issued by WMG.
It's not a charge, Edgar. You might win an appeal, but until then: you've been convicted. You're a criminal, Edgar, and no better than those kids downloading copies of songs without paying. Right? Because there are no grey areas, are there?

Former Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier was also convicted.

Welcome to Portlandia

Down there in some of the comments, Olive posted a link to IFC's just-launched Portlandia.

Why would this be of interest, you ask?

The 6-part IFC Original short-based comedy series PORTLANDIA, created, written by and starring Fred Armisen (SNL) and Carrie Brownstein (vocalist/guitarist, WILD FLAG, Sleater-Kinney), premieres on IFC Friday, January 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM ET/PT. Each episode's character-based shorts draw viewers into "Portlandia," the creators' dreamy and absurd rendering of Portland, Oregon.
Happily, the preview clips are embeddable, too, so we can look at it even from here:

This week just gone

The most-read things from the archive, so far this year:

1. R Kelly video thing
2. The naked McFly
3. BNP-types try to set neighbours on Billy Bragg
4. Ten years of XRRF
5. Tatu complain that people think they're gay
6. Rihanna frowns; Gordon Smart blames her hair
7. Kerry Katona removes her top
8. Liveblog: The last Mark and Lard show
9. Coming soon - the Nick Snaith chart show
10. Music industry ponders selling music to people who want to buy music

These were records you could buy, possibly even at HMV:

Robert Pollard - Space City Kicks

Download ... Is Off To Business

Heidi Spencer And The Rare Birds - Under Streetlight Glow

Download Under Streetlight Glow

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

Download The King Is Dead

Tangerine Dream - The Virgin Years

Download The Virgin Years

Marc Almond - Vermin In Ermine

Download Vermin In Ermine