Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More things for female pop stars to worry about

There's a bizarre post appeared on Vox which has managed to find a new way to be oddly unpleasant.

It's titled thus:

It's not just Ariana Grande; female pop stars are becoming terrible dancers
So, this piece is about dancing and how - apparently en masse - women have become bad at it, right?

Um... no. It's about hair. Alex Abad-Santos has a theory about hair, which I think is meant to be tongue-in-cheek but comes across awkwardly. Alex is aware of the context, observing:
It's been established that the music industry can be a sexist place.
"Can be". In the same way that Atlantis can be wet.

So, having established this, Alex then spends the rest of the column exploring how length of hair is related to ability to sing. No, really. There's even a graph:
You'll notice that Beyonce is an outlier, which is - apparently - what makes her great. There's then a diversion into Britney cutting her hair and the sort of 'we're losing our edge to the Far East' wailing that you'd expect to see in The American Spectator:
K-Pop stars train at a very young age and are often put together by record labels, making them just as manufactured as American pop stars. But as part of that training, they are actually taught to sing and dance.
Yeah, we should force children to spend hours and hours and hours training to ensure that in that brief couple of years before their career crashes that they can at least dance for our edification.

Yeah, by the end it does become a bit more about dancing. But mostly its about hair. Hair flipping being at the heart of that particular venn diagram, you see.

It's probably the oddest thing you'll read all day; it's certainly the best example of something probably intended to be humorous misfiring you'll come across.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kate wants her light hidden under a Bushel

Kate Bush has a small request:

I have a request for all of you who are coming to the shows
And what is that request, Kate?
We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium. It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iphones, ipads or cameras. I know it's a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.
There's three reactions to this.

First, obviously yes about the iPads. Why would you use an iPad? It's not like you're going to be at the gig by surprise and only have an iPad to hand. Why? Why would you do that?

Secondly: it's a fair request. It's not much to ask, is it, that you live in the moment, and enjoy the gig, and take away the memories rather than some jpegs?

Third: Or is it, actually? Leave aside the fact that the cost of the tickets and booking fees would buy many sandwiches for many days, this is something a lot of people are really excited about. Why is grabbing a few photos so bad? I've been to a lot of gigs in my life, and have a lot of memories. I really, really wish I had photos for a lot of them, too. And not just because it would mean I'd have an awful lot of pictures of Mark Gardener's fringe to keep me warm during the cold nights at sea (although that's part of it); but also a lot of the memories that don't fire directly into my synapse would probably be sparked by the odd photo. Also I really wish I had pictures of the bouncers beating the crap out of that guy at Nottingham Rock City back in the 90s because, well, evidence.

I'm giddily excited about going to see Kate Bush. I'm disappointed that apparently there's an approved way to enjoy the experience.


Darkside falls

Darkside are going on hiatus, says the 405:

They took to Twitter to share the news, saying "darkside is coming to an end, for now,” before sharing information for their final shows. They'll be performing at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn on 12 September and they'll be at the sold out FYF Fest this weekend in Los Angeles.
They dropped off two songs at the same time:


Making movies: David Thomas Broughton

It's starting to feel as if you can't go near Kickstarter or Indiegogo without someone throwing an indie music documentary at you. And quite often, they're being built around acts who might not have the most interesting stories.

That's not the case with the Ambiguity Of David Thomas Broughton, though.

The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton (video pitch & teaser1) from Greg Butler on Vimeo.

Broughton is self-aware enough to link from his own website to a review which ends like this:
Then it stops. And there’s nervous laughter and a shuffling of feet from the audience, until somebody realises that now you’re supposed to applaud.
Now you're supposed to applaud.

There's 48 hours (roughly) left, and about five grand to go. Why not chip in?

[Thanks to @coldbrain for the tip]


Monday, August 18, 2014

Linda Rondstadt is pretty much right

Linda Rondstadt grew up in Tucson, Arizona. But she doesn't feel at home there any more:

"There wasn't a fence running through the Sonoran Desert when I was growing up. In fact, when I moved back to Tucson, there wasn't even a fence running through it.

"While I was there, it was building; we just turned around and all of a sudden it was there, this horrible thing that destroyed economies on both sides of the line. I know my own father's business was very dependent on the goodwill and business and trade from people in northern Mexico. We knew their families and went to their weddings and baptisms and balls and picnics, and we had a great time with them. Because my dad had a huge hardware store, and they came up to Tucson (to) do their shopping.

"We regularly shopped in Nogales. It was a wonderful place then, and had beautiful things in the stores and had wonderful food. And when they put that fence up, they cut all that commerce off and that's what creates understanding and awareness of each other and good trade relations."
The thing that will really sting is when she says she likes going to Mexico because, these days, it's more like Tucson than Tucson is.

She also calls out those hollowed-out asshats who gathered to scream abuse at children who had crossed the border:
"We allow Cubans to come in and say that they're refugees. Well, in Cuba — I've been there, you know — people are fed, people are housed, people are clothed. There isn't violence in the streets. Here, people are coming from places where there's just terrible violence. Parts of Mexico that are incredibly violent, and Honduras, which is just unspeakably violent right now.

"These children are just fleeing for their lives, their parents are just sending them out because it's the only way that they have of living — into a terrible, dangerous journey and an uncertain future in the United States that is populated with people that seem to hate them — that's how desperate they are."
Linda Rondstadt: she was right when she suggested Mr Plow might be both a loser and a boozer; she's even more right now.


Sufiobit: Barkat Sidhu

Sufi singer Barkat Sidhu has died.

Sidhu was something of a sufi purist, insisting on a firm classical base to his compositions. It won him praise, but, as The Hindu pointed out in a 2004 profile, it didn't make for a glamorous lifestyle:

The present day economic situation of singers like Barkat Sidhu, responsible for keeping an entire art form alive, is however an unfortunate tragedy. His earnings are low, forcing him to lead a simple lifestyle. His living is in direct contrast to the world of pop music, steeped in glamour and ostentatious wealth.

``These days it is very disappointing to see that singing has become a fast exercise rather than a melody. In fact to create a real singing atmosphere we need peace and lot of time. It is applicable to every kind of music but now the tradition has been changed very much and nobody is paying attention towards nuances. Pop music has also affected the culture adversely,'' he says.

Barkat Sidhu was 68; he had been receiving treatment for cancer.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the pop papers say: Legacy and stances

In a week when it's been announced that the entire NME readership is lower than the average home gate at Portsmouth, it's time to take one of our semi-regular dips into the magazine.

This week, it's another backward-looking issue - 20th anniversary of the Holy Bible, which is covered in depth, and actually feels like there's something still to say about a record. It helps when the LP has some depth to it. And as a one-off, irregular thing, why shouldn't you mark two decades since a band released something so rich?

Trouble is, they're trailing that next week will be a 20th anniversary issue again. This time of Oasis. The trailer line for that is a quote from Noel in 1994 saying that the album would be what will be remembered in 20 years' time, "not incidents on ferries or drug busts or whatever". Yeah, good luck with that, Noel out of Wibbling Rivalry.

It's not just the Manics' legacy that the issue has explored. There were other questions of history to be addressed, not least the NME's cover this week:


Price - understandably - was upset that there wasn't even mention of the Melody Maker's contribution to the history the one-time rival was rifling. He suggested a though experiment:

A point well made, although... not everyone seemed to grasp it.

Who knew, though, that the MM-NME war would still be raging this long after one of the flags was lowered for the last time? Even British communists would be surprised at the longevity of ill-will emanating from IPC veterans.

With this week's ABC figures suggesting that the print edition of NME might be reaching an event horizon, you'd have thought the team on the magazine would be taking more care about how they look after the work of former associates, lest one day an NME.com team thinks it's okay to, say, pass off the Brett Anderson and David Bowie photo as their legacy.

Elsewhere, there's good things for readers to explore - Laura Snapes uses a response in Sounding Off to raise the question of why Radio 1 didn't playlist La Roux on grounds that there's a lot of "female-fronted pop acts" competing for airtime. Yeah, 2014, and apparently there's still a quota for women to get onto formidable One FM.

Equally strong is Dan Stubbs call for Insane Clown Posse to either own or condemn the Juggalos:
If Juggalos behave like a gang, then Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are their de facto leaders, whether they like it or not. And if violent crimes are being committed not just in their name, but in their honour, they need to issue a decree to the faithful telling them that it's simply not cool.

There's also a great piece on Howling Owl and how they've worked round a ban from Bristol venues. I'd have liked some more around how The Louisiana had ended up on the wrong side of scrappy pop history, but otherwise Hazel Sheffield had delivered a celebration of DIY culture that could have graced Maximum Rock & Roll. Or Punk Planet, at least.

There's a lot of heart and vibrancy in the NME at the moment, even though it's starting to get lost again in a sea of Uncut-lite jubilee articles. If they can channel that voice, and find a way to celebrate the past without just getting a Google alert that it's 20 years since X and choosing a cover based on that, there's a magazine worth fighting for there.


Listen with No Rock: Wildhoney

According to their website, attempting to sum up Wildhoney with an easy blog tag is impossible. But on that page, they mention the Swirlies so that's good enough reason to sample them, don't you think?


This week just gone

Most popular August stories so far:

1. Beyonce crosses the Madonna horizon
2. Morrissey parts company with his label
3. AMP decides three minute songs are way too long
4. That time Kate Thornton tried to slam Jarvis Cocker
5. That guy trying to buy all the vinyl in the world
6. RIP: Michael Johns
7. RIP: Mike Smith
8. Kanye West believes he's smarter than you
9. Who's the worst pop star: Bieber or Jackson?
10. Co-op experiments with new music; customers beg them to stop

These were the interesting releases, or a subset thereof, this week:


Grumbling Fur - Preternaturals


Download Preternaturals



Engineers - Always Returning


Download Always Returning



Sinead O'Connor - I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss


Download I'm Not Bossy...



FKA Twigs - LP1


Download LP1



John Foxx - The Virgin Years


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stevie Nicks has a competition

I suspect 'Design a shawl for Stevie Nicks' might be the first ever rock/shawl crossover competition. It's not just designing a shawl; it's claiming a place in history.


It turns out the Sachsgate swings backwards, too

So, Jonathan Ross is going to do shows on Radio 2 again. I wonder how long it'll take the Mail to ring up Andrew Sachs asking him to be outr... oh, hang on, they've already done it, of course. What's that? He wasn't in? Never mind, his wife will do. Providing she's upset. Is she upset? Is she upset enough?

Melody Sachs said it was a ‘slap in the face’ to give the disgraced presenter a job on the same station on which he insulted her husband six years ago.
Oh, yes. There's some froth there.

The Mail isn't just outraged that Ross is intending to slap Andrew Sachs repeatedly in the face, live on air, as he sits in for Steve Wright for a few sessions. But this man - this monster - is going to be paid for doing so:
He will be paid an estimated £4,000 to host four three-hour programmes between August 26 and 29.
Obviously, though, that will double with every national treasure he can make cry.

The Mail offers no explanation for how they have arrived at this estimate of £4,000; perhaps they got a builder in to tell them how much he'd charge for a similar job.

But, sorry, Mrs Sachs: you were telling us how it's awful.
Mrs Sachs added: ‘I’m so surprised that the BBC has welcomed him back. I’m amazed that they could do such a thing. It’s like a slap in the face for us, especially after Andrew spent so much of his working life with the BBC writing, acting and directing. It’s very sad and thoughtless and disrespectful.’
She continued "it's like they don't care about the time he spent pretending to be Spanish to make people laugh at how stupid foreigners are for not being able to speak English. Did that two years of borderline xenophobia count for nothing?"

You know, Mrs Sachs' outrage is fine, but she's not an elected representative. It's not like the Mail is going to be able to find an MP willing to dredge up... oh, hang on, they have?
Last night Tory MP Philip Davies also criticised the decision to allow Ross back on the airwaves. He said: ‘My view is that what he did was completely and utterly unacceptable. He doesn’t appear to have accepted that, and until he does I don’t think the BBC should employ him.’
You might be having trouble placing Davies. He's the charmer who suggested that disabled people should earn less than other people, and that society was "standing in the way" of "less productive" people with learning disabilities by insisting they earn the minimum wage.

Winningly, when people pointed out that he sounded like an amoral asshat for even thinking this was a positive thought to share, Davies dismissed it as "leftwing hysteria". Which makes it all the more surprising that he should want to fan the flames of this empty hysteria.

Alright, I'm not surprised.

Anyway, back to the Sachs and their grim determination to not move on, not in the slightest:
Although Ross, 53, has said he feels ‘immense regret’, the Sachs family have refused to forgive him and claimed he used the publicity to advance his career.
Given at the time, Ross had the key BBC chatshow, his own radio programme and was regularly invited to MC high-profile events like the BAFTAs and the British Comedy Awards, and now I think he might be doing a chatshow on ITV and does holiday cover for Steve Wright, I'm not entirely sure how they think that works.

Given that it allowed Sachs to sell his memoirs to the Mail for serialisation - and guess which bit they extracted - you might suspect that the Sachs family are doing quite well out of the mini-outrage industry that the Mail has built around the incident.

The pranks were cruel, and unfunny, and childish; yes. But perhaps it wouldn't be so raw, so ever present in your thoughts if you didn't keep talking to newspapers about it every time Jonathan Ross steps outdoors.


Manics grounded

The Manic Street Preachers won't be at V in Chelmsford; their plane refused to leave Budapest. They still hope to be at the Staffordshire leg tomorrow. If they can find the Ted Danson plane.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Bunch of arse

I'm sure Idolator would defend themselves against claims that their lazy collection of pop star's arses isn't sexist because there's a couple of male bottoms in there.

I'm sure they would. Of course they would. It's probably the first time Olly Mur's butt has ever been deployed as cover.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

*insert usual disappointing NME sales headline here*

More gloom for the NME in the latest ABC figures, as sales of the print edition slide below 15,000. MediaGuardian reports:

Music magazine New Musical Express has suffered another slump in its print sales, falling more than a quarter to fewer than 15,000 in the first half of this year.

The 62-year-old IPC Media title had an average weekly sale of 14,312 in the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures published on Thursday, down 28.5% on the same period in 2013. Including digital sales, its circulation rose to 15,830.
The figure of just over 1,500 digital sales is probably the one piece of joy - fairly pitiful, but a massive improvement on the three figures they were reporting last time round.

But something has changed. The usual positive talk from the publishers has shifted direction:
Jo Smalley, publishing director of IPC’s music brands, said NME’s total reach across all platforms was now 3.6 million, “bigger than it has ever been” despite its decline in print. In its print heyday, the magazine sold more than 300,000.

Traffic on the NME mobile website grew 85% year on year, with nearly 40% of its total online audience now reading on mobile.

Smalley said: “We are also continuing to explore how NME can further expand its international footprint. This builds upon the launch of NME.com in India and Club NME in Brazil.

“These are just a few of many examples revealing how the NME business model is changing to pursue new opportunities and grow new revenues.”
Now, maybe MediaGuardian just chose to not report it, but it does sound somewhat like IPC is describing a world in which NME is not more than a magazine, but post-magazine. With the news today that Company is abandoning its print edition from next month, who would bet on a weekly, paper NME having that much of a future?

In other sales news, Q is down to just over 46,000; Kerrang also slumped by still manages over 33,000 copies a week (a resilience NME can only dream of); Uncut is down to 50,000; Mojo to 70,000.

We're putting our plans to run a kickstarter to buy and relaunch Sounds on permanent hiatus.


Bobi Wine put back in the bottle

Ugandan pop star Bobi Wine has been refused a visa to play the UK because he's a homophobe.

Of course, he's one of those homophobes who even lack the courage to own their hate, explaining in a tortuous Daily Monitor op-ed why he was actually on the side of the angels:

I am personally not out to threaten the life of any individual based on their sexual Orientation, I just DO NOT agree with them.
See? He's got this image of being intolerant, but he doesn't want anyone to be killed for having a relationship; he just doesn't "agree" with them.

I'm not quite sure the queer community anywhere is looking for people to "agree" with them, as if your sexuality is a suggestion.
This is my opinion and happens to be that of 99 per cent Ugandans/Africans basing on our culture, religion and Constitution.
Yes, he did say that 99% per cent of African's opinion is that they don't agree with homosexuals.

Why, Bobi straightsplains, its not even that the (then yet to be struck down) Ugandan anti-gay laws are looking to kill gay people:
It's a misinterpretation to say that Uganda wants to kill homosexuals because the biggest section for the offenders (aggravated homosexuality with a minor where the offender is HIV positive) is life imprisonment and not death.

The intention of the Act is to stop promotion and exhibition of homosexual practices. In fact, degenerate passions can be regulated by discipline and the benefit of the law is to create standard behaviour for us Ugandans.
You see? What could be more reasonable than a piece of legislation which only calls for death for some people who have same-sex relationships? If anything, Wine's crime is being too liberal.

Oh, hang about a moment, Bobi doesn't want this generous not-killing-ALL-the-gays to make him look like he might, god forbid, in any way agrees with them:
Homosexuality may be a phenomenal that has lived in the nooks of society and as humanity requires, I sympathise with the victim, in the confines of the word victim and most definitely sympathy should not be misinterpreted as endorsement.
The Phenomenal Homosexual Nook is, of course, Barnes & Noble's best selling e-reader.

I love the idea that as he was pounding his keyboard, Wine read back the first three-quarter of his rant and worried "ooh, don't want anyone to think that I'm promoting homosexuality here. Better make it clear that 'I don't want you to be killed' isn't a marketing slogan."
How be it, I completely fail to understand the pride and why the gays are so happy about it. If my opinion makes me third world, then I am happy to be.
"You know, if the gays think that this whole gay thing makes them happy, they should try chuntering on with inane, hateful viewpoints. Then they'd know what happy is."
As a role model in this dear country, on matters of public interest, I'm expected to air out an opinion that is not manipulated by sycophancy, fear or favour. And as far as this is concerned, I hope that the proponents of homosexuality who pride themselves in their liberalism and support for human rights, will allow me my right of expression much as they may not be comfortable with my opinion.
Absolutely, Bobi Wine. You are allowed your opinion - and an opinion, unlike a sexual orientation, is a thing which other people are invited to agree or disagree with. Nobody is trying to shut you up. They just wish you would.
The bottom line is that we should struggle to better our selves and it's not fair when one tries to "arm-twist" society to legalise bad habits just because they have a sponsor.
Homosexuality is brought to you by Vauxhall - driving your bad habits all the way home, and Nike - sponsoring homosexuality to stop Adidas from doing it.
We just can't compromise our Values and Dignity.
Your values and dubious, and you have no dignity. Enjoy your staycation, Bobi.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This is not what he would have wanted

Too soon? The Barron Knights' not-quite-a-cash-in (it was a b-side) take on Mork & Mindy which shows, if anything, that what appeared to be a simple character to write for was pretty difficult to write well:


Don't let them get me

Strange times in Suffolk County, New York, where drumming attorney Charles Bonfante III is suing Collette McLafferty for doing a Pink cover act that he wasn't drumming for:

McLafferty is named in the suit, filed in Suffolk County, N.Y., along with bandmates Rik Nevone and John Rodriguez, for performing with their band, Funhouse (named for Pink's fifth album). The suit was filed by drummer/attorney Charles Bonfante III. In the suit, Bonfante, who did not return a request for comment, goes after McLafferty's looks, saying in the suit, "She didn't look the part, or at least contribute to the overall aesthetics of the band," an angle played up by the New York Post in their coverage.

"The Post and everyone is playing the angle that she's too old and ugly to sing, but it's really about stealing [Bonfante's] idea. But he has no right to his idea. Only Pink does," said Martin Kera, McLafferty's attorney, calling Bonfante "insane." ("Who writes a 112-page complaint?")
You'd also suggest that "being in a lookalikey covers band" isn't an original idea; and that, given Faux Pink were going in 2009, even being a Pink tribute act isn't much of an original idea.

Oh, and the lawsuit?

He's looking for ten million dollars. There's barely that much cash in being actual Pink.


The Vogue is over

Slate points out that, with the death of Lauren Bacall, all the icons namedropped in Vogue have now passed.

(Unless you count the first person personal pronoun as including Madonna in the list of icons. It's probable Madonna does.)


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Morrissey 'parts company' with his label

It's been a great summer for Morrissey, right? The new album was given massive support, and garnered a lot of applause (although the record itself wasn't really a leap forward). Even the NME, forever outside the circle now, had to swallow it and produce an entire issue inspired by the release, in a "lots of interviews with people who were involved apart from Morrissey" style.

He must be thrilled.

His label must be delighted.

Oh... hang on:

Three weeks after the release of Morrissey's World Peace Is None Of Your Business (#2 UK, #14 US), Capitol Records/Harvest have ended their relationship with Morrissey, as directed by label boss Steve Barnett.

Morrissey is once again in search of a record label.
Got to love that line; painting Morrissey as very much the Littlest Hobo of indie pop.

It seems there's been a falling out. Morrissey appears to believe that the label hadn't made enough of a splash:
I am indebted to three sources that have placed their own well-crafted videos on You Tube for the song World peace is none of your business. The three individual sources are named as Sharon Jheeta, Héctor González and wpeace123456. These videos fully understand the intent of the song, and I am relieved that these films exist. Yes, a similar document ought to have been harvested by the record label, but please understand that the pop or rock industry can be as dedicated to perpetuating public deception as the world of politics itself. God bless social media!

Liberty, equality and fraternity are the essence of the song; no monarchic rule, no political hierarchies, no bought-and-paid-for government thugs, security forces no longer beyond prosecution, and an end to megalomania, repression and corruption. Meat consumption is climate change, and if ever there were a self-evident lost cause it is the British so-called "royal family". Societies have never been so nervous; Pan Am Flight 103 differs not a jot from Malaysian Flight 17. The United Nations failure to imprison Tony Blair and George W. Bush for war crimes against Iraq has told us all that there can never be enough bloodshed, and the world is suffering its worst nervous breakdown. Do not feel powerless!

Many apparently powerless causes have succeeded in shifting political stupidity and greed. You are intellectual sanity. It is possible for nonviolent change; there are more people than there are aging despots; there are more people than there are world leaders. In truth, the world is leaderless. Please stop watching Fox News; anti-monarchial Britain has given up on the BBC – we know that every slot is paid for. We know that the number 1 position on the pop charts is "bought"; this is not 1955.

Thank you to all of my friends in Israel, Chile, Sweden, Poland, Argentina, Hungary, Romania, Finland and Italy who bought World peace is none of your business. It is 30 years on since The Smiths album entered the UK chart at number 2 with zero airplay and zero promotion, and the struggle for the airwaves remains difficult. Yet, I am writing this to you now, and you are reading it.

In answer to many people who have asked, I should like to finally make it clear that I have not received any television invitations – worldwide! – to either discuss World peace is none of your business, or even to sing any songs from the album.

Thank you for reading this. We have our first World peace is none of your business concert booked in Lisbon (Portugal) on October 6th.

All we have is each other.

for the animals, for intellectual sanity ...
Pssst, Mozzer. If you're going to point to the number two position for your album as a good thing in one part of True To You, you might not want to insist that every position in the charts on the charts is bought.

But then, there's no coherent logic to this post at all - indeed, had Courtney Love published it, the internet would be rolling round snurkling at the crazy rant. But because Mozzer is a bloke, it even gets a respectful write-up on the BBC, despite how Britain (or maybe just the anti-Monarchial bit of Britain) has given up on them.

Where do you even start? The suggestion that The Smiths got zero promotion - true, if you ignore night-time Radio One, and the four music weeklies (still a big deal at the time); the offensive attempt to try and draw a line from 'not having a video made for me' with the murders of Lockerbie and Ukraine. The almost touching belief that he and Fox News would share an audience.

Maybe the standout moment is the 'it's not 1955' bit - it's not, Morrissey, which is why nobody much cares what the number one (or number two) album record is in the charts; much less how the piddly sales figure was arrived at.

And, oh, the Partridgesque "I wanna be on the telly" cry at the end - having suggested that television is just death-wank designed to keep the supine in their place, how painful to then complain that you don't get asked on. (The tendency of Morrissey to speechify along these lines might be the reason interns are not often sent to dig out his phone number; a history of saying awkward things, and then complaining when those things included are in the interview might also be an explanation.)

Perhaps all these things will be ironed out in the next episode. Until then, though...


How can you fund your pop career?

For artists unsupported by a label, the costs of starting up your pop music career can be prohibitive. Is there a different way you can cover those expenses?

If you're Sun Ho, you could just get your husband to fund it from church expenses. That might sound kinda embezzley, but it's fine, honest:

Embattled pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest Church in Singapore has insisted before court that the millions spent on his wife Sun Ho's pop star career were necessary for the growth and expansion of the megachurch, explaining that his role evolved from that of a "shepherd" to being a "rancher."

"If not for the Crossover, we would be just another neighborhood church. The Crossover Project doubled, tripled our congregation size," he told the court, according to Channel News Asia.
Prosecutors in Singapore take a contrary view; which is why Kong is in court explaining the transaction.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Who's the worst pop star?

We've got something of an asshole-off this morning.

In one corner, Justin Bieber, insulting the entire disabled community, according to Tom Turner:

I want to share my disappointment and utter disgust at pop star Justin Bieber for his lack of judgment when he was caught using a wheelchair to get past the crowds at Disneyland last month.

The disabled community recently celebrated the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and his actions where a blatant slap in the face to the disabled community.
That is pretty bad sounding, although something should have alerted Tom that maybe there's more to this story than it seemed on original reports.

Because, first, it's Justin Bieber. Generally, in the fawning Kingdom of Disney, if you have that sort of name recognition, you don't find yourself standing at the back of a two-hour queue at Splash Mountain.

Secondly, as everyone knows, when Bieber wants to cut a queue at Disneyland, he pulls the old 'dressing up as Goofy' ruse.

It's possible that Bieber had a genuine injury. Or, equally, that he was insulting the entire disabled community by using a wheelchair because he's an entitled tit who's too grand to walk around a theme park. We may never know.

But in the battle for worst pop star, there comes a challenge from beyond the grave. It turns out the the corpse of Michael Jackson has more stories to share, as the New York Post has been talking to his former maids:
“Michael sometimes ran around where the animals were, and he’d track . . . poop throughout the house and think nothing of it,” Maid No. 1 recalled. “Then, if you said something, he’d threaten to make doo-doo snowballs and throw it at you.”
The doo-doo snowball, by the way, is the third most popular cocktail at Wetherspoons right now.

So, not wiping his shoes at the door. That's bad. But, like in some sort of Blind Date - Blind Dirt, if you will - there's another maid who wants to share. Maid No. 2, how disgusting was Michael Jackson?
When Oprah Winfrey visited the Los Olivos, Calif., ranch for an interview in 1993, it was pristine. Floors were waxed, walls scrubbed and windows power-washed.

It was after she, guest Elizabeth Taylor and TV crews left the next morning that the real Jacko appeared.

“He literally peed on the floor of the entryway, right where you saw Oprah walk in. It was surreal. He just stood there, unzipped his trousers and watered the floor,” Maid No. 2 said.
That sounds bad, but to be fair, after Oprah has been on your territory, you do need to remark the boundaries. Maybe that's what Jackson was doing.

Maid No. 3 - do you have anything to... oh, you do:
“Any of the children he played with who hit the bull’s-eye would get extra ice cream or anything else they wanted,” said Maid No. 3, who worked from 1996 to 1999. “He hated those guys with a passion. He was surprisingly very anti-Semitic. He’d lead some of the kids in chants: ‘Kill the bastards,’ and ‘Kill the bloodsuckers.’ ”

The maid said Jacko watched in disgust as Spielberg got a Los Angeles Film Critics award in the 1990s.

“It was crazy. He turned into his favorite ‘Twilight Zone’ character, and his eyes kind of bugged out, and he went into this crazy trance, pointing his finger at the television screen and saying, ‘You’re a bad man, a very bad man,’ ” she said, referring to the famed TV series’ character of Anthony Fremont, a boy who “wishes away” anyone who displeases him.

“At first, I thought he’d bust out laughing or something or that he was playing around, but it changed his entire mood. He was dead serious.”

Instead of banishing his foe to a cornfield, as Anthony did, Jacko would wish Spielberg into “Jew hell,” the maid said.
That IS pretty awful, as everyone knows that Shatner's Bob Wilson is the best Twilight Zone character.

It's fair to say that, on the scale of assholery, 'encouraging kids to chant anti-Semitic rants' does knock 'cutting in line at Disneyland' very much into the second division.

Of course, had Bieber been ten years sooner, there's every chance that he would have got an invite to try the white-knuckle rides at Neverland. What a loss to humanity we never got such a crossover episode.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Michael Jackson loved Gloucestershire

I've read this story, about how a song Michael Jackson wrote about Gloucestershire has leaked onto the internet. I've read it twice. And I'm still not convinced it's anything other than a fantasy Points West item made real:

According to reports, Michael Jackson visited Gloucestershire while he was in The Jackson Five, and apparently said the time spent in the county was among his fondest memories.
Presumably, if the band spent time in Gloucestershire it would have been around the time of the 1972 UK tour?

Coming next week: Aaliyah's passionate love of Dawlish Warren; the Big Bopper's song about Little Rissington


Blur might not have a future

This may have been shocking news if it had come in 2001, but in 2014 it's not quite so jaw-dropping: Alex James doesn't know if Blur has a future:

He shared: ''To tell you anything other than 'I don't know' would be completely misleading.

''Getting back with the guys has been emotional each time because fundamentally we all really get on and there were never any major problems between us. I love them all like brothers. But our lives have moved on. We're all busy. That's the great thing, we all found new things to do. So to do it as and when works for us.''
It's not entirely clear what Alex James is busy doing, although it's possible that playing go-karts with Jeremy Clarkson eats into the day.

James was talking to Hello, by the way. Hello.


This week just gone

The most-read stuff from around the site over the last month:

1. RIP: Jon Fat Beast
2. The ever-popular last Mark & Lard show
3. KT Tunstall has a theory why people think she's gay
4. Simon Bates dropped by Smooth
5. Nivea: I was unsaleable, because I was unfuckable
6. Allan Jones leaves Uncut
7. RIP: James Govan
8. Manics versus Major
9. Beyonce crosses the Madonna horizon
10. Why it hurts more when the Monkeys swerve their taxes

This week's interesting releases:


Hyde & Beast - Keep Moving


Download Keep Moving



Nurse With Wound & Graham Bowers - ExcitoToxicity


Download ExcitoToxicity



A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Sea When Absent


Download Sea When Absent



Angus & Julia Stone - Angus & Julia Stone


Download Angus & Julia Stone



Adult Jazz - Gist Is




Puss N Boots - No Fools, No Fun


Download No Fools, No Fun


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Great (shabby) moments in pop history: Pulp

You'll recall, of course, when the now-defunct Daily Mirror ran a risible campaign against Pulp's Sorted For Es and Whizz:

Worth remembering the "journalist" who tried to bark up outrage over nothing was Kate Thornton, before her short-lived period editing Smash Hits into destruction and "inventing" Candle In The Wind as a Diana tribute.


AMP decides nobody has time for a three minute single

You hate radio stations fading out songs too soon? You might want to steer clear of Calgary's AMP radio, which has hit on the idea of paying people to edit tracks down to two minutes.

Wait, what? Why?

Steve Jones, VP of programming for Newcap Radio, which operates close to 100 stations across the country including AMP, said it is a sign that radio is finally willing to get with the times.
[...]
As we look to people’s changing habits and changing attention spans and watch people on their iPod listening to half a song and forwarding on to the next one we sort of came to the conclusion that maybe it was time to rethink why songs are the way they were.
I suppose for listeners it's lucky he watched someone forwarding through their collection; if he'd observed one of those people who find a track they like and leave it on repeat for six or seven turns, Calgarians would be facing an endurance test.

By the way, isn't there something heartbreaking about Jones' desperately trying to be all modern, and talking about iPods? Half expecting him to start mumbling about how radio has to compete with people looking up music on Yahoo! in a minute.

So, the radio people have noticed that people skip through songs and rather than thinking "it's interesting that faced with a large supply of music they themselves have chosen, listeners will rush through their tracks trying to find something that resonates with them and therefore our task is to program music which resonates", concludes that people really love fast-forwarding and try to do that on their behalf. It's like a pub noticing their best customers go to the toilet a lot, and opting to add extra diuretics to their beer.

The rest of the world has pointed that cutting songs down to two minutes is an act of insanity, but for Jones, it's all upside:
Besides, he said, half the song length means double the amount of songs AMP can play in an hour, which also equals more exposure for the musicians, for more musicians. And that, theoretically, translates to more revenue.

“The artists are generally quite receptive to having their songs heard more often by more people,” he said.
Yeah, you're getting your music in front of more people. But unfortunately they're people who are quite happy to listen to a radio that has eviscerated music.
Mr. Jones said the reaction has been “really, really positive. There’s obviously been some negative, for sure, but we’ve been really happy with the feedback we’re getting from listeners.”
Jones is happy with the feedback, but to be fair his attention span is so stunted he only reads as far as "I was listening to your station today and", so has no idea what they're actually saying.


Drumobit: Idris Muhammad

Idris Muhammad, drummer on many, many tracks but not least Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill, has died.

Blueberry Hill was the first of numerous high spots in a career which included funk albums under his own name, drumming in the original Broadway production of Hair and working with Roberta Flack, Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield.

And he got sampled to buggery, but chose to see it as a positive, rather than a chance to make money, as the New York Times observes:

Mr. Muhammad was widely sampled by hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Drake. The Beastie Boys album “Paul’s Boutique” opens with a lengthy sample of “Loran’s Dance,” from “The Power of Soul.” Asked in an interview how he felt about other people using his music, he told Wax Poetics magazine, “It don’t really belong to me, man,” adding: “The gift the Creator has given me, I can’t be selfish with. If I keep it in my pocket, it’s not going to go anyplace.”
Idris Muhammad - who before converting to Islam was known as Leo Morris - was 74; he died July 29th.


I have a collection; you are a hoarder; he is... what the hell is he?

Most people who love records have a problem, as passion turns to festishism. But however you feel about your shelves of 12 inch singles, or piles of CDs, you can take comfort that you're not as bad as Zero Freitas, a wealthy Brazilian on a mission to buy all the vinyl in the world.

How many records does he have? He's got interns trying to catalogue the collection, at 500 discs a day, but they'll never succeed because he adds music faster than they can catalogue.

It's not just an obsession, though: there is a mission, too:

While Freitas thumbed through those records, Bastos was warning of a future in which some music might disappear unnoticed. Most of the American and British records Freitas has collected have already been digitally preserved. But in countries like Brazil, Cuba and Nigeria, Bastos estimated, up to 80 percent of recorded music from the mid-20th century has never been transferred. In many places, he said, vinyl is it, and it’s increasingly hard to find. Freitas slumped, then covered his face with his hands and emitted a low, rumbling groan. “It’s very important to save this,” he said. “Very important.”


Friday, August 08, 2014

Charli XCX does care after all

Charli XCX - who is part-funding her second phase of musical domination with royalties from writing Icona Pop's I Love It - doesn't absolutely love the song:

'I Love It' is one of the most annoying songs in the world but it's kind of cool and it's the same with '90s fashion which I'm obsessed with - it's so wrong it's right."
One of the most annoying songs in the world? Not while there's still people playing Gangnam Style, it isn't. Not even close.


Shirley Manson wants the pigs to go free

Here's a headline you don't expect to see:

Shirley Manson Urges Wisconsin Church to Cancel Pig Wrestling Event
St. Patrick’s Parish in Stephensville is planning to have a pig "wrestling" competition.

They say it's wrestling. I think when we were kids, we all used the "hey, let's wrestle" line when we were interested in the grappling more than the sport, but the church do seem firm that they're interested in fighting, and not merely trying to find cover to allow themselves to get close contact with pigs in a socially acceptable way.

Joking aside, it's premium asshole behaviour:
“I am so disturbed to learn from my friends at The Humane Society of the United States that St. Patrick’s Parish is planning a contest in which pigs are punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, and thrown into a bucket. Pigs are exceptionally intelligent animals who deserve to be treated with love and care.

“Wisconsin has a special place in my heart since my band Garbage got its start there. We are better than this unnecessary and abusive activity. Please cancel the Roundup Pig Rassle immediately and permanently.”
And what does the church make of this request that perhaps they don't want to punch pigs in the face?

They've gone with the "it's not against the law and we've done it for years" defence:
St. Patrick Parish, located in Stephensville, Wis., will be hosting its 44th Annual Roundup Days this coming weekend. Event activities include Mass, dinner, parade, raffles and a live band. As part of these activities is an event called the Pig Rassle.

Pig wrestling, also known as a rassle or wrasslin', is an event that is held in various places throughout the United States. Individuals or teams are given the task to place a pig at a designated location. The challenge is typically set within a fenced area containing water and mud. The Pig Rassle is not unique to St. Patrick Parish and has taken place for many years at county fairs and other community events.

The Roundup Days have taken place for more than 40 years, and the Pig Rassle has been part of this event for several of those years. Consideration is taken to ensure that the pigs are safe and free from any abuse. After consultation with local authorities, it has been determined that there is no illegality associated with this event. St. Patrick Parish does not condone animal abuse.

Thanks to all who are helping the parish to address this situation. Greatly appreciated.
Yes, that's a Catholic Church who are shrugging and saying 'we're not going to worry about whether something is moral, so long as it's traditional and we won't go to prison.

I can't pretend to understand religion, but your statement on the pig punching party you're throwing does suggest all that's wrong with it.

Not a thought about what's ethical, not a thought about what's kind, not a thought about the right thing to do. Just a ass-covering justification.

And this abandonment of a chance of moral leadership is so they can be cruel to pigs. Hard to believe Catholicism is in decline, isn't it?