Thursday, February 26, 2015

Brits 2015: Cloaking dragged her

It was the thud that was heard around the world, and the music industry of the United Kingdom is waking up to the realisation that everything it has to offer was upstaged by pratfall.

That's except for readers of The Times, though:

There's something of an ethical conundrum here. She is a woman in late middle age who had quite a heavy fall, which isn't funny. But on the other hand, Madonna clearly doesn't want the world to think of her as a woman in late middle age, which might make it okay to giggle a little bit.

Thank god she wasn't doing one of her great songs when it happened, though.

That panic in her face as she tried to shrug off the cloak was clearly less about falling hard, as looking a bit of a twit on live TV. ("Kanye had flame throwers, he was safe. Paloma mixed water and electricity, she was safe. And I've got a glorified pacamac and it's going to bring me down.")

She might take some comfort, though, in the first thought of some - as BBC News reported - was of the impossibility of this being a mistake, because, well, she's Madonna:
Well, sitting way up in the balcony seats among some of Madonna's biggest fans - the type who know and sing along with every lyric - the initial thought was that it may have been a particularly well orchestrated dance manoeuvre.

Consider the evidence - she fell on the lyric "I let down my guard, I fell into your arms" and was back on her feet to sing purposely "now that it's over, I'm going to carry on".

The truth later emerged but credit to the showbiz trooper for carrying on. In the words of those other Brit Award history-makers Chumbawamba "I get knocked down but I get up again".
There is one other upside: eleven years on from Janet Jackson at the Superbowl, now we finally know what a wardrobe malfunction really looks like.

Bookmarks: Public Service Broadcasting

The New Yorker has done a lovely profile of Public Service Broadcasting. Although it doesn't start brilliantly, to be fair:

In 1985, Paul Hardcastle scored a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic with “19,” a song that combined dance beats with spoken-word samples from an ABC documentary about the Vietnam War. The song’s title came from the film’s voice-over narration: “In World War II, the average age of the combat soldier was twenty-six. In Vietnam, he was nineteen.” Hardcastle stuttered the latter number to make a memorable chorus, “N-n-n-nineteen. N-n-n-nineteen.” An uncanny combination of protest song and dance music, “19” was Hardcastle’s biggest hit by far, and also a departure from much of the rest of his work, which hewed more closely to traditional club music. (Hardcastle has since reimagined the song for the war in Afghanistan.)

Three decades after “19,” Hardcastle’s formula is being taken up by the British band Public Service Broadcasting. P.S.B. is the brainchild of the pseudonymous J. Willgoose, Esq., a multi-instrumentalist from South London, who started performing in 2009.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Brits 2015: the liveblog

Unquestionably today is the best day of the year for music on British TV.

That's because at 7.30, Sleater-Kinney's set from the 6music festival is going to be on the BBC Red Button.

Sadly, most of us are going to be watching the Brits instead.

Here's the thing - why not let us take the strain of watching the Brits while you go an enjoy Sleater-Kinney. That way, everybody will be happy.

I'll level with you - I'm still in Pizza Express right now. I'll get the check, and see you back at this page in a few minutes.

They're interviewing Sam Smith on BBC News. That's the sort of night we're in for.

So this is the first night of the post-Corden era. Ant And Dec return to hosting duties.

It might not seem a totally absurd choice - after all, they did once present a music chart show on ITV. But that was back when Mark Goodier was doing the charts for Radio One.

They're such an old-fashioned act, aren't they? The perfect faces of Morrisons, a store which seems to sell nothing but luncheon meat shaped like teddy bears, tripe and haslet.

Mastercard sponsoring again. They'd have been better off doing a product placement deal like Visa have done with Corrie.

And we're off. There's a comedy sequence of Ant and Dec preparing the food in the kitchen with all manner of pop people roped in for it. And the bloke off of the Knorr ads.

Oh, jesus. Dancing waiters. With Ant and Dec doing that thing where you lift a big silver lid off a platter, and they're underneath it. Told you they were old-fashioned.

Taylor Swift doing first performance, which isn't food-themed and makes the opening seem even odder. (Perhaps it was a reference to that time they tried to drop the tables from the hall to make it more of a spectacle for ITV and it died on its arse.)

Taylor Swift is ace, because it's Taylor Swift. Peaking too soon.

She does have dancers in bowler hats, though. Because it's England, guv, innit?

The long catwalk into the audience works really well for her. I suspect it's going to be a less useful feature when it's Sam Smith.

First glitter shower of the night. Yes, the Brits have peaked already.

The catwalk has now shown its weakness, as it took about six years for Ant and Dec to reach the place where they're supposed to do the talking.

Ant (or is it Dec) tells us this is the year British music has gone global. Wasn't that a couple of years back?

There's a joke about Kanye being in the building - haahahahahah he might take your award and give it to Beyonce, they say. You can tell they're hoping.

First short list: Video artist of the year. This is the one the oh-so-discerning viewers at home can vote for, with a hashtag. At least they've worked out that just using the act's name might not work entirely well as a voting mechanism.

Tracy Emin grimaces when they show her award.

Rita Ora off The Voice and Orlando Bloom off the Pirates Of The Caribbean come on for a prize. Orlando Bloom calls Rita "darlin'" and comes off like a bit of a perv.

This is best male artist - Damon Albarn v Paoloa Nutini v George Ezra v Sam Smith v Ed Sheeran.

God, is that really the best men can do?

"This is a hell of a line-up" says Rita. Yes, it does feel like hell.

Ed Sheeran wins.

Apparently Ed is one of the nicest people in pop. He's doing a reminiscence about the first time he ever came to the Brits, way back in 2011.

And they're already going to a break. Blimey.

It seems they've officially dropped the "The" from the awards - like Kanye or Beyonce, just relying on the one name now.

As they were going to the break, Dec (or was it Ant?) said "one down, ten to go", but it seemed almost heartfelt.

Still, they have managed to do something astonishing - the prize going to Sheeran actually manages to create the sense that Sam Smith has been unfairly robbed.

This has nothing to do with Brits, but there's an hour-long Thrush Puppies live video on YouTube, you know.

The ITV livestream doesn't appear to have sold all the ad slots in this break, which is a bit ominous.

Ant & Dec are now amongst the "celebrities", threatening to chat to them.

Second award - Jimmy Page is introduced with a joke about throwing TVs out of windows. Page's job is to give out Best British Group.

Royal Blood v Coldplay v Alt-J v Clean Bandit off the Windows Phone ads v One Direction.

Royal Blood have won. You can hear a million preteen girls screaming abuse at their televisions. I fear there will be much blood on the streets tonight.

Lovely self-effacing speech from the band. (Worth noting they're playing the show, and One Direction aren't; not that that's the criteria at all.)

Sam Smith is doing his live bit now. He's keeping the theme of the kitchen staff dance from the start of the show going, because he's come dressed like a lad dropping off a delivery from the grocers.

Oh, hang on, that's how he always dresses is it?

He obviously hasn't attempted to fill the whole of the O2 on his own; he's turned up with a full string orchestral backing. Because he is a Serious Artist Who Sings From The Heart.

He's now bellowing, presumably because he can't hear himself above all those fucking violins.

He's got a lot of head at the back of his face, hasn't he, the Sam Smith?

We're down amongst the tables now. Ant and Dec chatting away with Ed Sheeran.

This would be disappointing television even if you were Ant and Dec's mum.

Unlike Corden, Ant and Dec are asking 'proper' 'serious' music questions. How did the record come to happen, Ed?
("I just filled in a music-by-numbers chart, and there was the album.)

We're getting another reminder of the video vote hashtags now. I implore you to use #reopennominationsbrits

The Clean Bandit Windows phone ad is on. "We are stiff because we are posh; we are also stiff because we are not actors. Isn't that right, Cortana?"
"Yes, there's no place I'd rather be."

Quick look at the twitter:

ITV drop a Keith Lemon trailer into the proceedings, to remind us that things could have been a lot worse.

The boys are doing jokes about mismatched presenting teams. It flops. They're doing a bit of business with a bingo ball machine.

It doesn't help the punchline is Lewis Hamilton and Ellie Goulding. Although from here is looks like it's Eva from Corrie.

Lewis is proud to be here tonight. He makes a joke about Ellie's dress, which she clearly doesn't like. "That's a good one" she grits out.

Beyonce v Lana Del Ray v Sia v St Vincent v Taylor 'in the room' Swift for international solo artist.

Taylor Swift wins. Which would be right and proper. Even if she hadn't already done a turn for it.

She lets herself down a little by starting by thanking the record labels.

She also thanks Ed, and some models, and British fans. And, just as she's about leave, she slips one for Ellie. Lewis doesn't get a thanks.

Ant and Dec do the Kanye stealing awards joke again.

Royal Blood live. I doubt if any One Direction fans will be going 'yeah, actually, this is better, fair play' but it's amusing to think that this is probably only going to be the second time a large chunk of the audience have come across the band; and the first time would have been back at 8.23.

Royal Blood are accomplished, but they could have done that at any Brit awards since the 70s and fitted right in.

Time for a chatty chat chat with Rita and Ellie. Ellie Goulding looks like she's got scratches on her face, but on closer inspection it's just a lipstick kiss.

Another reminder of the video nominees; another bunch of commercials.

One of the complicated Mastercard break bumpers features Paloma Faith ordering an unsuspecting couple of head for a bank vault. It's a bit sinister. The best that couple can hope for is they're going to discover the corpse of a favourite pet; chances are it's going to be Faith doing a song in their faces.

A quick reminder there between the difference between 'doing a song at the' and 'being nominated for an' Oscar.

Ant and Dec have found Simon Cowell, who loves the Brits. It's like a bloodthirsty warlord marching through a field strewn with corpses.

'Who you listening to at the moment, Simon?"
'Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, One Direction...'

He's so cutting edge.

He's also wearing Max Clifford's glasses.

"Collaboration is his middle name" say Ant and Dec. "Here's Mark Collaboration Ronson". Ho-ho

Paloma Faith v FKA Twigs v Lily Really Allen v Jessie Ware v Ella Henderson for British female. Lily Allen?

Paloma Faith has done a lot of work for the spons... sorry, has won the award.

She is delighted, though: "it's been a long time coming". It's hardly Jean Rhys' "it has come too late" though, is it? Faith warns us that she's going to do a long speech, but everyone else has done short speeches.

She's talking about flyposting, though, which is a reminder that not every musician starts out with Syco backing them.

Yeah, you're going on a bit now. Lucky they'd already shifted the news back to 10.10.

Trying to work up an Una Paloma Blanca joke. Failed.

Ed Sheeran's playing live now. Time for a toilet break, then.

He's gurning like he's on a toilet break, too.

For a song so devoid of any emotion, he's certainly emoting like crazy. With the sound down, you might think this was an impassioned performance.

Ant and Dec are now asking Sam Smith about how he enjoyed the Ed Sheeran song. There are rental properties on Homes Under The Hammer which are less bland than that moment.

Oh, another ad break.

Perhaps if they'd done a few less ad breaks, they might have filled all the slots on the online stream of the show.

From Twitter:

There's now a trail for Ant And Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, reminding you how bad things really are.

Ant is staring into the middle distance, now. Not sure if he's wishing it was over, or desperately hoping to see an autocue with some new material.

Kim Kardashian is here for the global success award, and probably as part of the contract negotiations to get Kanye to play live. She introduces a small reel of why Sam Smith is so brilliant. You know the sort of thing - "he has made some records! Inoffensive in 12 languages! Comes with his own toothbrush!"

They remind us he won Critics Choice award last year, so this is a Brits first - bullshit non-prizes two years running. Well done, Sam.

Ant and Dec are kissing Kim and saying they're "thrilled to have you here". She's getting more screen time than Smith did.

And they're doing a taking a selfie routine. Can the MySpace jokes be far away?

Kim introduces Kanye, which does nothing to dispel the impression her appearance was negotiated.

West is having so much of his performance muted it's like he's doing it on RealAudio over a dial-up line.

The 'riot and fire and cops' staging might have been edgy, had it not been done in 2011. By Plan B. And also by Take That.

Nice shot of Lionel Richie looking impressed as someone uses a flamethrower indoors.

(They do know the fire brigade are on strike today, right?)

Hang on, maybe there's no cops in the melee - it was hard to tell as ITV kept pulling back.

Sam Smith reaction shot - he was ashen faced.

And a third Kanye interrupting awards joke.

International Male solo artist:
Jack White v Hozier v Beck v John Legend v Pharrell Williams

Who will it be? And what the hell Hozier?

Pharrell Williams wins, but he can't be here tonight. Luckily for him, neither could any of the others. Williams does a little speech via the magic of video. He couldn't be arsed to do a second take, though, clearly.

Another break. Another reminder to vote in the video prizes.

Spotify's social media team are busy:

So... if you're watching a programme on TV, why not look at an unconnected organisation's twitter stream to find out the latest about what you will have already just seen?

Just seen that Sex Criminals - the freeze-when-you-fuck comic - is going to be adapted for TV. That's made me more excited than anything so far at the O2.

Realised that when I thought Ant had said Kate Nash was going to be playing live next, he actually just said Take That, didn't he? That's disappointing.

Now a bit of business about which end of the runway they're meant to be at. Clearly the Chuckle Brothers have shared their writing team for the evening.

It's all in the cause of introducing Take That. Look, George Osborne had no way of knowing what they were up to, right?

Mark Owen now looks like that guy who used to play the cardboard guitar outside What Everyone Wants in Liverpool.

It must be depressing for Gary Barlow, knowing that everywhere he goes, and everything he does, will be met with a barrage of 'pay your taxes'. Did he ever release the results of his investigation in how he came to be avoiding taxes?

Looks like Josh Widdecombe is in the background on guitar there.

"Let in The Sun" they sing, aware that News International also had an interesting approach to paying their taxes, too.

British singles awards. Oh, they're doing the bingo machine thing again. Flogging a horse that was already dead.

Lisa Snowdon and Lionel Ritchie. Edward Snowdon and Lionel Blair would have been a more interesting choice.

Rather Be v Thinking Out Loud v My Love v Ghost v Nobody To Love v Stay With Me v I Got U v Budapest v Uptown Funk

That's a lot of very posh people. Mark Ronson wins for having pretty much shagging the corpse of James Brown for the enterainment of people who don't really like James Brown.

Ronson thanks the Commodores, which I bet he wouldn't even have done if Lionel hadn't been standing right there.

John Bishop has come on to do a prize. Really? I mean, I like him well enough but he played a dad on Skins... who is this aimed at now?

Best International Group: Foo Fighters v Black Keys v First Aid Kit v The War On Drugs v 5 Seconds Of Summer

Of course Foo Fighters win; the other names were just padding out the list to try and get a few more NME readers to tune in.

Dave et al pick up their prize via video. They're proud. They sound bored as paint.

James Bay is at the table with Ant and Dec, wearing his hat and exhibiting all the personality we've come to expect from these empty chairs. Sam Smith gives him some advice, which i didn't catch but assume was 'sit down and don't make any unexpected moves'.

George Ezra is now playing his guitar. He's got his name up in lights, like Elvis doing the comeback special.

Just think of that.

Ezra is trying to make us think of him in the same way as Elvis Presley.

Let's hope he starts on that high fat diet quickly, then.

Clearly, Ezra is incapable of growing a hipster beard, and so has hired a backing musician to do that bit for him. He's probably going to leave the stage riding a penny farthing.

We're going to have another break? Jesus, how many more times do Lidl want to berate us this evening?

Some poor sod has been made to play maracas with Kaiser Chiefs in the break bumpers. I'm going to go and cut up my Mastercard just in case this sort of thing could happen to me next year.

Kevin Bacon still making ads for EE, then. Now with people from Gogglebox. I'm not sure why EE are making adverts just to alert us that Gogglebox has become too knowing to be of any interest now, but they are.

The British Breakthrough act. Ant and Dec are reminding us they were beaten in this category by Oasis many years ago.

Fearne Cotton and Charli XCX are doing the presenting. Charli has come dressed as Santa.

George Ezra v Chrvches v Royal Blood v FKA Twigs v Sam Smith

Sam Smith wins it. Did they know he was going to win this before they gave him the bullshit made-up award they only invented for One Direction last year?

Smith makes the sort of dull acceptance speech you'd expect him to. I do like the colour of his jacket, though.

Ant and Dec now pretending they hide under tables during live music bits. If only they'd hidden during the links as well.

Paloma Faith is now playing live. THIS IS UNCONNECTED WITH HER AWARD IN EVERY WAY. Her stage act includes a mime dancing in the rain.

There are now a lot of people dancing in the rain. I wish they'd switched this rain effect on when Kanye was doing his riot bit. That would have been worth turning up for.

I hope Paloma didn't get nervous waiting, although if she'd not done a three hour acceptance speech earlier, she'd be in a cab on the Westway by now.

Oh, Lord, she starts doing more thank yous at the end of the song.

Now, let's see if One Direction fans can still rig a vote - we're at the video award point.

Jimmy Carr - has anyone here paid any tax at all ever? - and Karlie Kloss. Carr does a CD:Uk joke - one for the teenagers there, then.

Carr does a joke about separate toilets for men and women which goes down like a Royal Blood tshirt at a One Direction party.

#whathashtaghaswon #icannotwaittofindout #whyaretheydoingtheshortlistagaintheyhavedoneit10timestonight

One Direction win. Surprise, everyone! Surprise!

Cowell goes up to pick up the award because One Direction can't be arsed with shit like this these days.

Cowell makes a speech, apparently thinking we'd appreciate that.

"I'd like to thank the boys for being amazing". Britain's got talent, although not any of those talents able to write a script, it seems.

There's an interview with Royal Blood and Alt-J. There seems to be a table that clearly the BPI thinks is the circle of credibility. George Ezra has been sat at it, which suggests some sort of terrible mistake.

They're going to have another break. Of course they are.


"Okay Google, show me pictures of beef stew... oh, god, no Google, I don't mean that as a euphemism... jesus, my girlfriend's here... stop playing that video, Google. I didn't even know that was a thing..."

Boots has now got the women in the Number 7 video to lip synch to Jessie J, which is actually quite a clever pun for its service matching lipstick to skintone, but might be a bit too clever for its own good.

Apparently ITV Be is still going.

Last award - British album. Russell Crowe is giving it out, so there's a bit of Wolf from Gladiator themed jokage. Seriously, what year are we in now? (I'd have applauded if they'd done a Romper Stomper joke...)

Crowe now less Gladiator, more 'it looks like he ate her'. We can all do it, ITV. We can all do it.

sheeran v ezra v alt-j v royal blood v smith

Who will it be?


That's the message of this year's Brits. It's more middle-class than Escape To The Country.

Oh, what's that rattling? It's the sound of Madonna approaching. But first they have to try and bark up interest in the backstage party on ITV2. Given how ker-azzzy the main event has been, who know what hijinks there will be on ITV2? People using cheese knives in the butter dish, no doubt.

Madonna is now rolling on to close things off.

Still doing the matador thing, then. Go on, do Borderline.

Wow... something actually happened - she got tugged on her cape, and fell backwards down the stairs. She looked so pissed off as she climbed back up the stairs...

To be fair, those long housecoats can be a nightmare on the stairs. Something similar happened to my nan once, but it wasn't on live TV.

It's ironic she's singing "I'm gonna carry on" when if this had been recorded they'd have gone for take two. Still, shows she's still a trouper.

Presumably the twerking was meant to be a little more energetic than this.

I suppose its possible it was an intentional move to distract attention from how weak the song is. You wouldn;t have to do a pregnant Diana down the stairs if you'd done Borderline.

And she only did one song? They've been building to Madonna's big performance all night, and all they let her do was a single, flat track? Barely worth her getting back up off the floor for that.

ITV News do their bit for this magic evening for British Music by leading on the latest 'Cliff Richard is a nonce' allegations. Thanks, ITV News. You know how to make a party special.

Watching Madge on the steps, it's clear that she was starting to panic that she hadn't got the clasp of her cloak undone before the guys downstage were going to tug it off.

So, that's the summary of the great job the BPI have done this year: the only thing we'll remember is when a woman in her mid 50s was pulled over as she tried to climb the stairs.

British music. Best in the world, isn't it?

Thanks for sharing the evening with me.

Brits 2015: It's come around again

That noise you can hear? Oh, that's just Sam Smith feasting on the massive insects prior to his ascension.

There'll be a Brits liveblog later tonight. I genuinely can't remember the last time I watched a programme presented by Ant And Dec all the way through. I liked it like that.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Noel Gallagher puts a price on an Oasis reunion

Is an Oasis reunion out the question? Not as far as you might hope, as Noel Gallagher has terms:

Noel Gallagher recently sat down for an interview with Vulture, stating he would reform Oasis for a fee of “half a billion”. Gallagher readying the release of his new High Flying Birds album ‘Chasing Yesterday’, which is out Monday 2nd March.

Asked about a possible reformation in the future, Gallagher added: “If somebody puts that on the table, I’ll pack my bags in the morning and say, “How many gigs do you want?”
To paraphrase Churchill: we know what sort of man he is, now we're just haggling about the price.

Rita Ora talks about herself in the third person

So, Rita Ora was at the Oscars last night (she didn't win), and obviously, E! wanted to know what she was wearing. This is how Rita answered:

"In the dress world for Rita Ora, there are two things you have to do: what hasn't anybody done [and] what could I do to make myself feel as sexy as possible," she said. "I'm really lucky to be in a position where I have an amazing team who can design custom from real incredible designers like Vera Wang and Marchesa and so forth."
In dress terms, that answer is something that got chewed up in the washing machine.

"In the dress world for Rita Ora"?

I know it must mush your brains to mush-mush to be performing at the Oscars - look what it did the Neil Patrick Harris last night, whose hosting was so off-note that he'd be lucky to get a casting call if they decided to bring back Doogie Howser. But who gets so confused they start to talk about how they chose a frock with the phrase "in the dress world for Rita Ora"? Especially if they're Rita Ora.

Still, how did what hasn't anybody done work out for you, Rita?
Yes, a white/silver/reflective floor length gown - that's a fresh look for this awards season, Rit... oh, sorry, that's Taylor Swift at the Grammys, isn't it? In 2014.

Here's Rita, then:
Still, you can tell how her designers have designed custom out of what real incredible designers have done there, can't you?

The way is still open for Ozzy to have a crack at the Parish Council

Metal star to politician isn't a typical career path, but it looks like it might work for 林昶佐 Freddy Lim out of Chthonic.

He's seeking power. In Taiwan. Taking on the Chinese state makes bands who think wearing scary masks on stage is dangerous look a little weak, doesn't it?

But then, Chthonic aren't quite a typical metal band - Freddy Lim has been chair of the Thai branch of Amnesty for a while now; they use traditional Thai instruments in their metal endeavours; and their lyrics have a political aspect to them.

That's like a party political broadcast, that it is.

Oh, and Lim formed his own political party, too. Not in the style of Bez. A proper political party. The New Power Party (I think the echo of Prince is unintentional) has been going a month, and already has persuaded two prominent human rights lawyers to stand under its banner for city elections this year.

Lim is running for the national legislature next year, and his 'not the two party system message' might sound familiar to British ears:

Lim has rejected the traditional bipolarization of the electorate into pan-blue and pan-green camps, saying that such polarization should no longer be considered effective, as Daan, like any other electoral district, is plural in nature.
“Daan is home to a heterogenous population, which includes people like me — a founding member of a minor party — and the Chinese Nationalist Party’s [KMT] Taipei mayoral candidate in last year’s elections Sean Lien (連勝文),” he said.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nicki Minaj covers herself with dead things

Not just the coat made from skinned corpses; the boots are animal skins as well. Class act.

Bookmarks: The Uncanny Avengers

Meanwhile, over at Every Day Is Like Wednesday...:

Caleb takes issue with leather clad mutants' understanding of indie...
Also, The Decemberists may have been "indie" in 2001, when they self-released their first album, but they've had four fucking albums with Capitol Records by this point.

This week just gone

The most-read stories this week:

1. That last Mark and Lard show in full]
2. Tony Hadley being hospitalised in 2006
3. Simon Bates dropped by Smooth
4. The perenial 'do people think I'm gay because of my braces?'
5. Somy dumps Omnifone for deal with Spotify
6. RIP Steve Strange
7. One of Westlife selling coffee in a lay-by as a "side project"
8. Kasabian die on their arses in airless BAFTA performance
9. Kasabian win big at the NME Awards…
10. ... and soon they might have to give the NME away

These were this week's interesting releases:

Darren Hayman - Chants For Socialists

Download Chants For Socialists

Idlewild - Everything Ever Written

Download Everything Ever Written

Manic Street Preachers - No Manifesto DVD

Charli XCX - Sucker

Download Sucker

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tiresome, The Creator to launch a TV network, apparently

Exciting news from America, where noted homophobe and misogynist Tyler, The Creator has announced plans for a TV network.

Yes, a TV network. This is in no way just a website being launched. Be clear about that.

"I'm creating my own MTV or my own Cartoon Network," said Tyler Okonma — better known as Tyler, the Creator — from the stage at the Code/Media conference in Dana Point, Calif.
It's not actually "his own", as it's just a deal with another company, Whalerock. But, hey, having half shares in an MTV. That'd be a thing, right?

Unless it's just a website. But it's not, is it?
The network, which will launch before the end of June, will allow Okonma to bring content directly to his fans, bypassing traditional media companies and social networks that served as the launching pad for his fame. Other details about the service were scarce, but Okonma will charge a subscription fee to access a mix of both exclusive and licensed content.
That might sound like it's a website rather than an actual TV network, but it isn't, okay? Because the important difference is a website would be accessed through a browser, and a network broadcasts over a Tv distribution system. And Tyler TV is going to be going to set top boxes from the off, yes?

Isn't it?
Braun founded Whalerock as BermanBraun but rebranded the company after he bought out his former partner Gail Berman last year. He said he plans to create as many as 12 channels for performers or brands in the next three years. In the future, those channels could be bundled together and distributed via cable or over-the-top platforms such as AppleTV.
Oh. So, erm, we're getting very excited about 'man launches website which may one day appear on TV'.

Blur are back, back, back (although we didn't realise they'd actually stopped being back)

So, much excitement earlier this week, with Sky News taking up the fact trumpet:

@SkyNews: Blur have announced they are going to reunite for the first time in 12 years
I'd love to share the actual tweet with you, but it has vanished from the world as, with one voice (and I suspect it was the voice of Phil Daniels) Twitter yelled 'they did Glastonbury in 2009, and had a single out in 2012, and it seems like they've never actually stopped working together.

Sure, from the news source which once declared that the entire eastern seaboard of America had been decimated by a terrorist attack, messing up a tweet about Blur is a step forward, but it's a pity that they're so thin-skinned they attempted to rewrite history rather than admit their error, correct it, and move on. An organisation which attempts to wipe out its mistakes isn't one to be trusted.

Still, Blur are having a comeback. Or, rather, Blur are still around. Although they have let themselves go a bit:
The album might be great - but it does come with trigger warning:
Initially conceived in Hong Kong, during downtime following a cancelled show in Japan, the band spent five days laying down ideas.
Now, the band say they've had time for perspective to develop, and look at the tracks with a cold, hard, eye.


But let's just approach this record with the awareness that this is a project born of being bored in a hotel room.

And so it's on a par with this sort of thing:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

NME Awards 2015: Kasabian, Kasabian, Kasabian

Last night was the NME Awards, which a few years back had become quite a thing; even getting televised. This year, they don't even seem to have bothered putting people picking up the prizes on the NME YouTube channel, although there's some video on the NME site.

The lack of a livestream seemed to upset some people on Twitter last night, but looking at the list of winners, it might have been wise for the magazine to try and do it in secret:

Godlike genius award Suede
Rock’n’roll soul award Jimmy Page
Best British band Kasabian
Best international band Foo Fighters
Outstanding contribution to music Teenage Cancer Trust
Best solo artist Jake Bugg
Best new band Royal Blood
Best live band Royal Blood
Best album 48:13 by Kasabian
Best track Zombie by Jamie T
Best video Zombie by Jamie T
Best festival Glastonbury
Philip Hall radar award Dean Blunt
Best TV show Game Of Thrones
Best film Northern Soul
Best music film Pulp: a Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets
Reissue of the year The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers
Dancefloor filler Fancy by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
Worst band 5 Seconds Of Summer
Villain of the year Nigel Farage
Hero of the year Alex Turner
Music moment of the year Jamie T’s comeback
Best fan community Muse
Small festival of the year Liverpool Psych Fest
Book of the year Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine
Best band social media Liam Gallagher’s Twitter
Best lyric “I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair/There’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere” by Happyness
Best quote “Five records, ten years. We’ve earned our shot” - Sergio Pizzorno of Kasabian talking about headlining Glastonbury
Let's just take a second to look at the full name of one category, shall we?
Best International Band supported by Austin, Texas – The Live Music Capital Of The World®
Sponsored awards? Well, that's probably unavoidable. The sponsor's crappy slogan? If you must. But a registered trademark symbol as part of the prize name? Jesus wept. Or rather Jesus wept with the King James Bible copyright the Bible.

(Incidentally, the NME 'full list of winners' doesn't actually list all the winners.)

There's a lot of Kasabian and Jamie T there. Could the prize giving be any more awful?

Oh, hang on. Yes. Yes, it could. Added Gervais:
A special video, featuring the band's former manager comedian Ricky Gervais, was also shown - watch the video above. "I did help this band out a little bit in the early years," he comments. "When I told them I couldn't manage them anymore, there were no tears, they didn't beg - and that's when their career really took off."
At least he didn't do it in character as Derek, I guess.

Let's celebrate the good news here: Liverpool Psych fest; Viv Albertine; respect for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

But then... look at that "quote of the year"" - Serge out of Kasabian suggesting that they've paid their dues and it's now buggin's turn. Look at the belief that the best thing that happened in music during the whole of 2014 - the whole of 2014 was Jamie T's comeback (to a world that hadn't even noticed he'd gone in the firts place. The way that Muse still won a fucking prize.

Good lord. A magazine that has set its sights so very low might struggle to even give itself away.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Venuewatch: Saving The Lomax

With its future shaky following a police drugs raid, Liverpool is rallying round to save The Lomax:

Following the closure of Liverpool's best independent music venue, The Lomax, we are staging a peaceful gathering of support outside of the venue on Saturday 21st February.

This is all about the venue and the music community which surrounds it. The Lomax's ethos has always been kindness, family, and peace. Therefore we insist that anyone taking part in the gathering acts according the the way of Lomax people.

We will meet from midday until 12:30pm outside the Lomax. Please do not bring alcohol or PA systems. Banners are welcome but this is not a march but a show of support so we will congregate outside the venue only. Bring banners, instruments, voices and most importantly memories and testimonials of the Lomax. If you can print these all the better.

NME heading for free?

There's growing rumours that NME's print edition might be turned into a giveaway. MediaGuardian reports that staff have been told it's an option, but not a done deal:

It is understood that staff were told at an editorial meeting on Wednesday that nothing is set in stone about the future of the magazine but that it will continue.

It is thought that there have been talks with retailers such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters about possible partnerships.

Despite speculation, it is understood that an announcement will not be made at the NME Awards on Wednesday evening.
There's a fairly huge question about how a free NME would be distributed; they may or may not be dumped on a shelf at Urban Outfitters, but unquestionably it would make the magazine much more of an urban plaything.

And can free work for a music magazine? Less than twelve months ago, The Fly threw in the towel; a free NME would need a solid advertising market to sustain it and a global meltdown rerun of 2008... well, that might put a wrinkle in the numbers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Partyobit: Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore, teen pop star, has died.

Gore had the original hit with It's My Party at the age of 16; she was smart enough to know what the music industry was like and decided she'd be better off getting an education, as the Washington Post remembers:

“The record company wasn’t thrilled, my agent wasn’t thrilled — but I sensed very early just how fickle this business is,” she told the Sacramento Bee in 2006. “I had a good brain in my head and I saw it as an opportunity to cloister myself.”
She was wise, in the long run: by the time she graduated, music had moved on and her last hit was in 1967.

She released little since, but continued to play live. After 30 years, she released a new album - 2005's Ever Since - but was shrewd enough to know what people really wanted to hear:
“If I’ve learned anything in this business,” she told the New York Times[...] “how stupid would it be not to do ‘It’s My Party’ when people come to hear it?”
She was one of the ever-changing hosts for PBS's LGBT series In The Life. In 2005, she spoke with After Ellen about her experience of coming out. She didn't realise she was gay during her years at the top of the charts:
AE: Would you say that people knew you were gay back when you were first performing? You were pretty young, about 17, right?
LG: Well, I didn’t know until I was in my twenties, so if they knew it, they knew it before I did. [Laughs] You know, maybe someone did think that. I don’t know, but I certainly didn’t know it until I was in my twenties.
AE: Once you did know, did you have to go to lengths to conceal it in the music industry?
LG: Well, I don’t think I went to lengths. I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do. I didn’t avoid anything, I didn’t put it in anybody’s face. Times were very different then, so, you know, I just tried to live as normally as humanly possible. But as truthfully as humanly possible.
Gore died February 16th of lung cancer; she is survived by Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Riders and the storm: Jack White rolls the guacamole story one more time

Once again, we find ourselves returning to the vexed tale of Jack White's rider. Apparently, White is annoyed about the attention his demands have been getting. So, erm, he's decided to put the story to bed by writing an open letter about it.

Yes, because when you want to calm down a story on the internet, the best thing to do is whip up a dozen paragraphs about it. It's like trying to calm down a fire by pissing on it, only your urine is made out of diesel.

Jack headlines his missive "for god sakes", thereby dragging religion into the mix.

dear journalists and other people looking for drama or a diva,

even in the age of the short attention span internet article, it’s still hard to believe you are STILL writing about this
If the internet has a short attention span - and it does - that would suggest that it had moved on from your avocado dish rather than still being interested in it, surely?

Jack then links to an NPR piece, which is actually about making good guacamole using the story as a hook rather than being about him as such. But it seems to be what's pushed him over the edge.

NPR ends with this:
"If you bite into that, then you're also kind of biting into little explosions of flavor, and that's what Jack White's recipe has."
- but even that endorsement just gets a "wow. classy." from White.
seems like there’s a new rule number one for up and coming journalists: don't let the facts get in the way of click bait.
Now, that's a good point - that is a problem with online journalism. But NPR are using your actual recipe, which is both factual and good story.

I'm sure that somewhere there's a story which claims White insists his guacamole has kitten blood (or worse, sour cream) in it, which might deserve that sort of disdain, but this isn't it.

It's like he's desperate to moan about his mistreatment, but can't be bothered to find an example of what's really upsetting him. Still, why let the facts get in the way of a good rant?
at the risk of incurring even more of this hoo haa (and i’ve definitely turned my cheek more than once lately)
Jack, someone printed your rider. It's not a thing that even requires "turning cheeks". I know you're worried that it gave the impression you're some sort of a diva, but asking for things backstage isn't really diva-like behaviour. Trotting out a few hundred words about why it's rotten for people to read your rider - that's quite rotten.

He makes the fair point that the recipe is actually his tour manager's rather than his personal recipe. And he makes a rather good joke about not being able to make Kool Aid. Trouble is, Jack, the rider is the "Jack White" rider, and although it might not be your personal guacamole, it's the corporate Jack White guacamole. You can't say 'not in my name' when it's guac in your name.
i take with me what i need, and that ain't much. anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. this "guacamole recipe" is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t know because i’ve never had it.
So, from Jack's point of view: making the people at a venue fanny about making guacamole as a "joke" is fine; but people writing about how venue owners are being made to make guacamole for a laugh is a terrible thing.

Imagine if the rider had stipulated that when the tour manager plays a flute everyone backstage must drop what they're doing and dance a little jig for the crew's amusement and a secret competition. That might seem to be an imposition on people doing their best to run a venue and put on a show. Making them fanny about with deveining serrano peppers is no better.
bananas: did it occur to anyone someone on the tour might have an allergy to them? no?
Probably not, as I guess the sort of person with such a serious intolerance to bananas that even their presence, unzipped, in the same backstage area was a risk to their health - well, that's not the sort of person you come across every day. It does happen though - it's happened at the BBC.

But if the reason for the banana ban is a serious issue of health and safety, might be a good idea to mention that in the rider, especially if otherwise it'd be chucked alongside instructions to squirt lime over avocados as part of a humorous in-joke.

Jack then moves on to the vexed question of how this wound up in the paper in the first place:
one day some fantasy journalist out there will call someone in the biz and actually have a rider explained to them, maybe none of them have ever been on tour.
(Again, in passing: the NPR story White links to explains what a rider is.)
oh well, let’s move on, first amendment issues: i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and a some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely) and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall.
Jack's memory must be failing him. In 2005, a White Stripes rider did the rounds. (Back then, bananas were essential items.)

But even if White doesn't recall his own rider turning up, someone who is so steeped in rock history - the sort of person who knows the names of the woman in the factory who packed the valves used by Sun Studios - that he finds the idea of rider being leaked so unusual.

White then explains what a rider is, and comes to this:
what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint.
Jack, you're writing a long screed about who actually came up with the sodding guacamole recipe. You are being that guy. You're being that guy right now.

Is White going to go back to Oklahoma? Sure he is.
i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money.
Also the guacamole in Atlanta is rubbish.
our booking agent warned the college that other artists might not book shows there? of course they did, it’s bad business what that school paper did and really rude. of course they are going to tell them to wise up.
Really? It's a school paper which published some details that are in the public domain, and you think that your agency pulling gigs from a different part of the university is proportionate? I suppose if you think 'look at this about bananas' is "really rude", maybe that would be the case.

White then goes on to take issue with some of the reporting of the gig itself - where what he says were jokes about the situation were reported as him being thin-skinned and ranting. If that's the case, you can understand him being upset with this, and putting the record straight is fair enough:
i got pissed during my show and berated the crowd? no. sorry, didn’t happen. i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned? they have freedom of speech but i don't? at my show? ok. i guess the rules change for different people.
It might be better to say 'look, I was making a few jokes but I wasn't being thin skinned about it' before the six paragraphs of being thin skinned about the story.

There's also a bizarre chunk about whether student photographers (or possibly just students, or possibly just photographers) tried to take pictures of his amps or something. White sees this as an imposition, but - again, in the context of man who clearly understands and values the impact equipment makes on the sound of a performance - seems a bit odd.
i know it’s a fun thing for people to try to turn me into a jerk and a diva, but in this case it’s pretty ridiculous and has almost nothing to do with me.
Thing is, most backstage riders look a bit doofy when stared at hard; I don't even think the original tone of the story was really suggesting White was Carey - but for the recipe, I doubt if anyone would have given it a second glance. It's this sort of response, the desperation for the audience to know that it wasn't a personal recipe - that's what looks a bit jerky.

White does have a pay-off:
i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is.
You know, if you'd just done that joke, you might have closed the thing down. All you've done right now is pick at something that had scabbed over.

There's no hope for the Mail, is there?

The Mail has become so obsessed with women's bodies, it can't even write a headline about a man buying a lot of Dolly Parton memorabilia without popping its favourite word into the headline:

Dolly Parton super-fan obsessed with the curvy country singer spends £10,000 on memorabilia... but insists his CDs and life-size cutouts are 'priceless'
Is this part of the house style at the Mail now? "Headlines: when writing about women, remember to include an indication of whether the woman is curvy or worryingly thin."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Noel Gallagher knocking on heaven's door - or perhaps just in the area

An eye-popping headline from

Noel Gallagher told he would 'drop dead' if he came off medication
That's quite serious, then - so he was told he'd die if he didn't take the medicine, right?


"Then I went on holiday with the kids. And I was getting out of a swimming pool with one of them in my hand and did my back in. Then my doctor put me on these tablets – I won’t tell you what for – [and] told me that if I didn't take them I would virtually drop dead."
So that's 'Noel says doctors told him he'd be quite unwell without taking medicine', then.

Yahoo adds download button to Tumblr; adds trouble to users

As Yahoo struggles to remember why it bought Tumblr, and shakes it to see if the previous owners left any money down the back of it, it's tried a new idea: since the start of the month, it's popped a little download button on audio posts, to allow visitors to not merely enjoy audio on the page, but to take it away with them, and put it on their devices.

Hey, that's wonderful functionality. Right?

There's a bit of a problem, though. The music industry has never been happy with people posting copyrighted stuff to Tumblr; adding a download button has turned a small transgression into a major problem.

Sure, it's always been a violation of the terms and conditions, and posting music you don't hold a licence too has carried a threat of account deletion, but apparently not coincidentally linked to the download button appearance, the music industry has started to get militant with Tumblr abuses. Stewardessme sums up the situation:

For years, Tumblr allowed us to upload music (up to five audio posts a day) because it substantially increased Tumblr’s user base and user “activity,” therefore increasing Tumblr’s value to its eventual buyer, Yahoo, and to the advertisers Yahoo is so eager to court. Now Yahoo/Tumblr is letting us take the DMCA fall for it, reminding us yet again that we aren’t the customers, but the product being sold to advertisers.
And, of course, because the music industry is using an automated machine, the sort of mistakes we've seen all over the internet are happening:

If Tumblr is good at anything, though, it's good at forming support groups. And the community is coming together to help people who might be worried that having stuck a couple of Imagine Dragon tracks onto their blog could result in their entire Tumblr existence being wiped out. So there's a lot of activity like this going on:

The lack of clarity about what's happening from Yahoo has generated a massive rumour mill, making things worse - people whose blogs are based on song titles or lyrics are panicking that they might be wiped as a result. That seems unlikely - a douchebag too far even for the copyright industry - but it'd be nice to see someone confirm that. Because, ah, it would be no rock and roll fun if that happened.

Lowe goes; Mac moves up: Radio One shuffles the evening

I never really thought Zane Lowe would stick around long at Radio One. I was wrong - he's been doing what-was-the-evening-session for twelve years now. That's as long as the entire Goodier/Whiley/Lamacq version lasted.

Not bad for a man who until then had been shouting on MTV2 for a living.

He's off now, though, into the wilderness ("to join iTunesU radio").

The good news, though, is that Annie Mac is going to take over the slot - which is an excellent decision.

The handover comes at the end of March.

This week just gone

Geek-friendly chart - ten most popular referring networks over the last twelve months:

1. Naver
2. Blogger
3. Facebook
4. Twitter
5. Topix
6. Reddit
7. Tumblr
8. WordPress
9. LiveJournal
10. Netvibes

These were this week's interesting releases:

The Wave Pictures - Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon

Download … Burning Moon

The Do - Shake Shook Shaken

Download Shake Shook Shaken

Atari Teenage Riot - Reset

Download Reset

The Unthanks - Mount The Air

Download Mount The Air

Two Gallants - We Are Undone

Download We Are Undone

Steve Earle & The Dukes - Terraplane

Download Terraplane

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Venuewatch: Liverpool Lomax packed with drugs, closed down

I'm not entirely sure if the current version of the Liverpool Lomax is officially the second or third iteration of the venue - third, strictly speaking, if you consider the time the original venue closed and moved in with its bigger sibling the L2 round the back of Lime Street.

Whether you consider it Lomax v2, or v3, or v4 if you think of the L2 as actually being v2 is irrelevant now, as the police are asking magistrates to shut the police down.

They raided the place early today and... well, they didn't like what they found:

After closing the premises officers carried out an extensive search of the four-storey premises and found 10 bags of cannabis and some cocaine.
It's been a grim week for turn-of-the-century big names in Liverpool: Garlands was also raided and closed down.

Friday, February 13, 2015

NME circulation does what NME circulation does

Down again, down again: print sales have now gone below 14,000 with 13995 copies finding their way into people's hands in the second half of last year.

Topping up with digital sales brings the number up to 15,384 a week, but even digital sales aren't offering much joy: 8.5% of digital readers in the first half of 2014 had vanished by the second half. Digital was never going to take the circulation back to six figures; it's starting to look like it might not keep it above five figures.

All together, NME is down another 23% on the same period in 2013.

Q is now selling 50,161; Mojo 70,693. Kerrang - once the nip-and-tuck rival to NME lost 13.7% of circulation but remains outstripping NME by nearly two-to-one.

And the gloomiest view of the figures? MediaGuardian reminds us:

But [NME] now has just half the sales of its now defunct sister title, Melody Maker, when it was closed in 2000.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Romobit: Steve Strange

Steve Strange: Faded to grey.

His agent, Pete Bassett, said he would be remembered as "a hard-working, very amusing and lovable individual who always was at the forefront of fashion trends".

"Up until last year he was putting together a book of fashion styles based on the New Romantic movement and it comes as a great shock.

"We understood that he had certain health problems but nothing we knew was life threatening.
"His friends and family are totally shocked, we had no idea anything like this was likely to happen."
Fifty five years old; taken by a heart attack.

There will be a lot written about the New Romantic years; about Visage; about the demons and theft of teletubbies.

But lets not forget Steve's sweet re-emergence into public life when he appeared on BBC Three's Celebrity Scissorhands. It sounded like a terrible idea - a man who had clearly not long since left a bad place doing haircuts for charity - but he was the revelation of the show. Much of his work showed how creative he was, and how he could bring people together. But a silly little programme tucked away in the early evening on a digital channel showed what a lovely, lovely man he was.

Ellie Goulding is from round these parts, sort of

A whole bunch of Gloucestershire parish records have been put online, and the Gloucestershire Echo is excited:

More than three million historic Gloucestershire parish records have been published online for the first time, offering unique insight into the history and people of the area – including the relatives of pop star Ellie Goulding.
Yes, having gone through three million births, marriages and deaths, the most exciting thing they can find is that Ellie Goulding's great gran lived in the county.

Given that Goulding was only born 45 miles from Gloucester, it's not even that surprising, surely?

NME Awards 2015: Godlike, in that they're unknowable

Congratulations to Suede, winners of this year's NME Godlike Genius Awards.

You can tell that NME considers Suede to be geniuses, given that they're always on the cover.

Oh... that they have had the cover as recently as, erm, 1996.

To be fair, last year's winners, Blondie, hadn't got a front page from NME since 1986, but normally the genius being celebrated by awards is also celebrated by being given cover features - Johnny Marr had been on the front cover two weeks before he picked up the prize in 2013; as had Noel Gallagher in 2012. 2011's Dave Grohl had been part of a shared cover on the first issue of the year - but it had been four years since the Foo Fighters had got a stand alone page one. They did get two further covers in 2011, though.

It'll be interesting to see if we're about to be hit by a wave of Suede pictures on the newsstand. I'm not holding my breath, mind.

Album charts apparently still going; intend to add streaming

The addition of streaming to the singles charts gave a headache to the Official Charts Company - how do you weight a listen to a tune against the purchase of a CD?

They're now adding streaming data to the album charts, and that's created an even more Sheldon Cooper style twisting of data to make sense.

They've rejected the model used by the Billboard charts:

In the US, the Billboard chart equates 1,500 streams of any song from an album to one sale.

However, that leads to situations where the popularity of one song pushes the entire album up the chart.
(Additionally, and surely more worryingly, it means that the effort of one song is going to be counted for both the singles and album charts, which seems odd.)

So what have the UK chart counters come up with?
The Official Chart Company says it will weight its data to avoid similar situations.

It will look at the 12 most-streamed tracks from each album, then down-weight the two most popular in line with the average of the next 10.

These streams will then be added together and divided by 1,000. This "stream factor" will then be added to the physical/digital sales of the album, to produce an overall "sales figure" that determines an album's position in the countdown.
Louis Walsh was last seen heading home to see if he still had his log table.

There's nothing like a completely transparent system to make the list of best-selling album, is there?

You might ask why it's only streaming albums which get adjusted if people access them but only want to listen to two tracks? Why shouldn't physical CDs be marked down if the purchaser only makes it through the first couple of songs, or rips it to their PC but only ever plays the hits?

The album chart, like the singles chart, will ignore YouTube data completely so won't even reflect what people are really listening to.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Eurovision 2015: Canberra, can we have your v... hang on, what?

It's never been a condition of entry that your nation is in Europe to be part of the Eurovision Song Contest. You just have to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union.

So the announcement that Australia is going to send a competing song to Eurovision isn't quite as unlikely as it sounds.

Australia is an associate member of the EBU, and given that that's enough to qualify for entry, it holds out the prospect of other associates turning up. That could mean Brazil; Japan; or even a Cuba-USA head-to-head.

Participation leads to voting privileges, which means Terry Wogan is trying to work out which European country is closest to Australia so he can start complaining about block votes.

Kathleen Hanna is a monster

Well, she's actually pretending to be a monster - she's voicing the lead character in the Myrna The Monster cartoon about an alien coming to terms with growing into adulthood:

“I think just that [Myrna]’s so awkward and she seems kind of like, you know she really wants to be a part of things but doesn’t really know how,” Hanna says. She also says she can relate deeply to Myrna on that level. “I’ve always been a person who like, I make friends by doing projects. If I need friends, I start a basketball team or a band, some kind of project that involves other people. I don’t really know how to just straight-up make a friend, you know what I mean? I’ve always felt socially awkward.”
Not entirely sure how successful you could be at forming a basketball team while being socially awkward, but you get the point.