Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Taylor Swift is the best pop star

No, she really is. She really is:

She said: ''I've always been an easily excitable person and I'm also easily hurt. Let's say I'm easily moved.

''A few years ago, I realised being moved isn't necessarily normal in my line of work, or this cynical world we live in.

''There are viral videos of all the times I'd won awards and how shocked I'd looked. At first, I didn't know how to process being made fun of for being stoked about really exciting accomplishments.

''It seems like people become jaded faster than ever these days and in an effort to appear 'cool', people in my profession and everywhere else I look have taken to trying to seem bored all the time. Unmoved, unfazed, chic, edgy.

''Let me just clarify something, being a pop artist is a very exciting, incredibly fun thing to do.''
Yes, it must be, mustn't it? If you're a pop star, and not going 'bloody hell, I'm a pop star' the whole time, you should probably be seeing a careers advisor rather than a stylist.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Listen with No Rock: Molly Wilkinson

The wonderful Molly Wilkinson has just launched a new ep:


What the pop papers said: Big Hard Excellent Fish

You'll remember that we losy Josie Jones earlier this year.

Rummaging in a box of things, I found the Big Hard Excellent Fish interview from the NME...

Click to make readable...


This week just gone

Most read April 2015 stories:

1. RIP Jess Marquis
2. Mick Hucknall comes out as the Tory you'd always suspected
3. Video: Garbage - The Chemicals
4. Coachella bans almost everything
5. Daily Telegraph suggests Manilow marrying a man is "curious"
6. Toyota are terrible at social media
7. All Shook Up comes to iPlayer (it's gone now)
8. Having group sex with Leapy Lee
9. RIP: Josie Jones
10. Kate Jackson is ready to return

These were released:


Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer




Built To Spill - Untethered Moon




Passion Pit - Kindred


Download Kindred


Saturday, May 02, 2015

In Liverpool, even the nostalgia industry is nostalgic

The Beatles Story on Albert Dock (which used to be called The Beatles Story Experience) is celebrating (if that's the word) twenty five years in business.

Probably a bitter sweet day for Radio City, who just three years before The Beatles Story opened had had to close their two million quid stab at a Beatles Museum a few steps away in Seel Street. Beatles City only lasted three years - somehow, it managed to be ahead of its time while being focused on the past.

The submarine-styled building is still there, though:


Legendobit: Ben E King

Earl, as you'll be more than aware by now.

Ben E King has died - in the same month as Percy Sledge, which must be making Babylon Zoo's Jas Mann feel a little nervous right now.

King told WGBH how he wrote Stand By Me - it wasn't a struggle:

[S]omeone asked me, what was you thinking about or what was you feeling about? Songwriters just write songs. It's like an artist that paints. They paint what they feel. It's not about how many of these painting I'll sell; it's just how they feel at the moment. And that's how I wrote "Stand By Me". And the song to me as I was writing it, it was just a song, it just, personal of course with its moments

It's OK 'cause a singer has got a different attitude, they're they're so whacked out they don't know what they're doing half the time. Singers; they're spoiled too. I'm a songwriter. So I'm OK. But when I wrote "Stand By Me" as a song and to know that the song will probably be here for hundred and hundreds of years to come, it's great, you know. And it was just simple lyrics. "When the night has come and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we'll see, no I won't be afraid. No, I won't be afraid just as long as you stand, stand by me. So darling, darling, stand by me, oh stand by me, oh stand, stand by me, stand by me." It's just simple lyrics but enough to, enough to connect. And I didn't realize that when I was was writing it, it was just something that I felt like I wanted to say. And during those times like in my early years as a writer I could actually write a song in ten minutes because all of a sudden a song is writing itself, I'm just putting down words. It just seem each line that you put down flows with the other ones. It's like writing a love letter - you don't think about it, it's something from the heart. You're writing how you feel. And when you're finished you put your signature on it and you mail it off and that's it. And that's how "Stand By Me" was really.
It's worth noting, though, that King's performance of his song was as important as the words in ensuring its longevity - as the Library Of Congress observed:
Stand by Me" is anchored by perhaps the best known bassline in recording history, composed by Stoller and played by Lloyd Trotman. His upright acoustic bass is doubled by an electric guitar played an octave higher. According to Stoller, a Latin-American percussion instrument called a guiro played "... on every second beat and a triangle on every fourth." Legendary engineer Tom Dowd recorded "Stand by Me" at Atlantic Studios in New York City. Stan Applebaum wrote the soaring string arrangement, which includes a two-part invention. All these elements contributed to the song’s success, but it was King’s incandescent vocal that made it a classic.
Ben E King was 67; he died April 30th.


Friday, May 01, 2015

Russian politician finally finds something positive about U2's iTunes giveaway

Who knew? That time when the U2 album cluttered up desktops and mobiles across the world wasn't a dying dinosaur's desperate grab for relevance. It turns out it was gay propaganda all along:

In Russia, Duma deputy Alexander Starovoitov​, a member of the far right LDPR party, asked Russia's attorney general to investigate U2 for distributing "gay pornography" to minors.
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This is apparently because of the album's cover picture (by Glen Luchford) of U2 drummer Larry Mullen jr embracing his 18-year-old son, Elvis. Both were shirtless.
Now, if only Bono had thought of that line at the time, maybe he might have found some support.

Although the rantings of a right-wing jabberloon might be amusing, this is part of the hardening hatred for LGBT people in Russia, and while we don't need to take Starovoitov's U2 gay panic seriously, we need to take the witch-hunt winds on which his stench is blowing very seriously indeed.


Grooveshark finally stops swimming

After ten years of a liberal attitude to copyright, and battles with the music industry, Grooveshark has thrown in the metaphorical towel:

“Today we are shutting down Grooveshark.

We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service.

That was wrong. We apologize.
Without reservation.

As part of a settlement agreement with the major record companies, we have agreed to cease operations immediately, wipe clean all of the record companies’ copyrighted works and hand over ownership of this website, our mobile apps and intellectual property, including our patents and copyrights.”
Having spent so much time and money fighting the labels, I'm not entirely sure Grooveshark can really claim they're apologising "without reservation" - "with reluctance but, hey, what can you do" might be nearer the truth.


Salon seems thrown by the idea of a nice pop star

Does not compute... does not compute... does not compute


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Technics Pro has never heard of its competition, apparently

Some strange goings-on captured in the latest Advertising Standards Authority judgements, with a mysterious case of a competition prize.

Technics Pro, a company which sells (as the name implies) Technics kit, sent a sloppy but exciting tweet:

A competition on Twitter stated "Congratulations to [name] who is the winner of a free customized turntable! Don't loose [sic] hope as we will have alot [sic] more giveaways to come, and rthe [sic] next winner could be you!"
The winner was thrilled - a free turntable! What could be better.

Trouble is, the turntable never arrived. He complained to the ASA; they asked Technics Pro about the missing prize.

Technics Pro didn't, to their credit, pretend not to be a turntable business ("hello? no, this is, erm, a laundrette..." but they did try this response:
Technics Pro said they did not remember publishing any advertising of this kind.
Guys, that happens. How many times has a ticket holder turned up at Lotto headquarters only to be met with blank stares and someone muttering "Yew-Row-Millie-Yons? I don't think we do a YewRowMillieYons contest, do we?"

The ASA upheld the complaint - as the internet hadn't forgotten the competition, even if Technics Pro had - and warned the company to be more careful in future. It might be a moot point - the technicspro.com website has vanished and their Facebook presence hasn't been updated since Christmas.


A Courtney Love lawsuit

There was a time not so very long ago when you'd barely get through a week without hearing of Courtney Love being in some sort of legal skirmish.

More recently, there's been no need for the permanent lawyers parking slot outside her home. Which makes today's lawsuit against Love sound like some sort of revival event.

Writer Anthony Bozza has brought an action claiming that he's been unpaid for work on Love's yet-to-be-published "auto"biography:

In the suit, Bozza states that his collaboration agreement with Love guaranteed him a minimum of $200,000 from advances Love received, as well as his expenses, regardless of whether the book came out. Bozza says he has spent around $10,000 on getting his interviews with Love transcribed, an expense he claims she has not reimbursed. Furthermore, he would receive royalties up to a maximum of $300,000. So far, Love has paid Bozza only $100,000, he claims, despite already receiving $400,000 of a $1.2 million publishing advance.
Ten grand might sound like a lot for transcription services, but let's not forget that Love can ramble when she gets going.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bookmarks: Katy Perry

I missed this when it was first published just after the Superbowl - Gabrielle Korn on how Katy Perry gets away with homophobia:

She gets away with an entitled, IDGAF-what-you-think brand of homophobia while also appointing herself a spokesperson for LGBTQ rights. It's like there's this pressure to laugh at her gay jokes because she insists she means well. If you take her homophobia too seriously, it's on you for being uptight: Kind of like how I wasn't allowed to be offended when men sang it to me on the street. It was just all in good fun.


Jack from Jack And Jack makes it nice. Not actually nice.

Earlier this year, Ryan Seacrest ran a Make It Nice campaign, a well-intentioned attempt to try and raise the level of discourse on the internet. Amongst those signing up were Vine-grown rap stars Jack And Jack.

And how are Jack And Jack making it nice?

Erm, by calling people who post body positive images online sluts:

[Jack Johnson] tweeted: ‘I feel like I’ve seen a lot of girls use this “Body Positive” thing to post slutty pictures and not get called out for it [insert monkey with hands over mouth emoji]’
I think, Jack, you were probably looking for a emoji with a foot in its mouth.

Jack's career, like the Vine videos which started it, clearly has a tight time limit.


Bieber reverts to type

So, how is that teary-eyed new-look Justin Bieber - the one putting the loutish behaviour behind him - getting along?

That phase is over, apparently, and he's back to being a chaos monkey. He's gatecrashed a school prom:

A statement released to Yahoo Music reads, “The school was aware that Mr. Bieber was at the venue recording, but was assured that he would not come out to interfere with the program. His entourage pushed past the school’s security to gain access to the dance floor and was there for three to four minutes. From the students’ perspective it was a once in a lifetime experience to have him at their prom, but we were extremely concerned for the safety of both our students as well as Mr. Bieber. No student was injured while he was there.”
A kinder, gentler Bieber. Except when there's a vague possibility Groober and Spatz from year 12 might have put vodka into the fruit punch.


Joni Mitchell is unwell, but not that unwell

There are reports floating about this morning that Joni Mitchell is in a coma.

She's not, says her website:

Leslie Morris, who is with Joni in the hospital, has approved the following statement to be made through JoniMitchell.com: "Contrary to rumors circulating on the Internet today, Joni is not in a coma. Joni is still in the hospital - but she comprehends, she’s alert, and she has her full senses. A full recovery is expected. The document obtained by a certain media outlet simply gives her longtime friend Leslie Morris the authority - in the absence of 24-hour doctor care - to make care decisions for Joni once she leaves the hospital. As we all know, Joni is a strong-willed woman and is nowhere near giving up the fight. Please continue to keep Joni in your thoughts." You may add your well wishes for her at the website WeLoveYouJoni.com
Yes, that's right: somehow, a document transferring power of attorney has somehow wound up in the public domain.


Bookmarks: Lush

Under The Radar catches up with Miki & Emma from Lush. They talk about Chris' death, how horrific their management were, and - of course - about the music:

"I'm not going to say that we were trying to be Britpop," says Berenyi. "Because that's just horrendous. I think the world went Britpop, or certainly Britain went Britpop. I think we just carried on doing the same thing, actually. I don't think there's a huge amount of difference between songs like [Split track] 'Hypocrite' and 'Ladykillers' in terms of spirit."

"It was annoying," adds Anderson, "because people go, 'Oh, Lovelife, they've gone all pop.' But actually, we've always had pop songs. 'For Love' [from Spooky] was a pop song. And so was 'Sweetness and Light' [from 1990's singles compilation, Gala]. It wasn't obscure music. It was always really accessible, songs that were written in a very traditional manner. We were never an experimental sonic band."


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

America: A nation where R&B singers are underwriting the costs of cleaning senator's offices

Nathan Morris, one of Boyz II Men, has stepped in to start a campaign to help raise funds for Charles Gladden, who works in the Dirksen Senate Office but doesn't earn enough to keep a roof over his head.

Morris has chipped in ten thousand dollars and is hoping to raise a similar amount from others.

Which is the right thing to do. The other right thing to do, of course, is get angry that this situation even exists:

Instead of celebrity attention, policymakers need to put their heads together to find long-term solutions to poverty, experts say.

The campaign "might be helpful for Mr. Gladden, and God help anyone who wants to help those in need, but obviously the problem of homelessness is a multi-billion dollar problem," says Ken Stern, author of the book "With Charities For All." "This man is working in the Senate, and the Senate has the power to help millions of people. Those are the sustainable solutions that we need. There are thousands of people out there who need this type of help.”
The Christian Science Monitor there, although it's not just "experts" who say that a situation where you're relying on one of Boyz II Men to subsidise keeping your government offices clean you're kind of screwed. You don't really need any kind of expertise to see that you've got a organisation here which is fundamentally flawed. Tellingly, the senate isn't hoping that Blackstreet's Mark Middleton will organise food parcels for their security detail.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Lauren Mayberry won't be hassled

Some asshole sent a horrible rape threat to Lauren Mayberry.

Lauren Mayberry isn't taking that shit:

My band is lucky enough to have some of the most awesome, supportive and respectful fans in the world and we are so excited to be in the studio making an album to share with them. Yet, on a daily basis, we still receive communications like this. These people never learn that violence against women is unacceptable. But they also never learn that women will not be shamed and silenced and made to disappear. I am not going anywhere. So bring it on, motherfuckers. Let’s see who blinks first.
There shouldn't be a "right way" to deal with someone threatening to rape you, but while we live in this golden era for angry men with access to communication technology, it seems we need one.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Two cheers for Marina Diamandis

Oh, Marina out of Marina and The Diamonds, you are ace for calling out the 'I love the gays' demographic-box-tickers:

"When you're an artist, you giving a shit does not equate to going 'I love you guys!' five times a day on Twitter," said Diamandis during a telephone interview, "If you want to do something, you do it in action.

"I am always up for supporting anyone who has suffered prejudice or discrimination -- and I always will be," she went on to say of her LGBT following. "But it's not something I have publicly done a lot of yet. We'll see. It is important to me, because it makes up a significant part of my fan base."
Sort of aces - "it makes up part of my base". It? But let's let that one go.
"Sometimes I feel it's a little contrived," she stated, "I hope you can see what I mean by that, in terms of female pop stars going, 'I love my gay fan base' -- making that a thing. I don't believe in that.

"I would support that all of my fanbase is equal," Diamandis continued, "I hope I can support straight guys as much as I can teenage girls."
Yeah, Marina. Straight guys are under so much yoke of prejudice, you really should ensure you can support them as much as possible.

But that's quibbling. Standing up and saying 'if you really love your queer fans when they're buying tickets for your shows, what are you doing for them?' is something we've been waiting for for a long time.


Toyota: They're great at social media

Last month, Toyota launched a terrible crowd-sourced band idea that, mercifully, seems to have gone nowhere. I did a thing about it here, mainly because when I said something about Toyota recalls, the company responded by saying how they did all their recalls because they valued safety and how it was totally voluntary.

To which my response was 'what about that time when a guy ended up in prison because you hadn't recalled cars with a serious fault; you might remember having to pay a fine of over a billion dollars; what about that?'

And that was that.

Except, because it's automatic, that post also appeared on No Rock & Roll Fun's Google+ feed. (Yes, Google+ is still a thing.)

I was a bit surprised to discover that Toyota's US arm has added a comment to the post:

Hi, thanks for that link! We never heard about that campaign and hope to make more noise worldwide with #feelingthestreet! 
First of all, great news for Toyota UK's social marketing gurus that their expensive 'forming a band' campaign not only failed to make any impact amongst real people, but even the people who do the social media for the company in America apparently had no idea it happened.

More importantly, this was a post that really was about how the company had known their was an accelerator fault and not withdrawn the cars resulting in accidents and even death. Which they're thanking me for, almost as if they hadn't bothered to even click through to read the full story or something.

But even without clicking through to read the piece, the extract shown on Google+ had the words "god this sounds terrible" in it. So even if you didn't make it to the bit where - admittedly confusingly on a music blog - there's something about how Toyota let people have accidents rather than fix their cars, you can still see that I'm basically saying crowdsourcing bands is a terrible, terrible idea for a marketing campaign.

Which Toyota are thanking me for.

One further point: Given your accelerator problem saw some people being catapulted from their cars onto the pavement, you might want to rethink the "feeling the street" hashtag.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Karen O, baby

Yes, Karen O is going to have a baby.

But more importantly, this:


Madonna: What's the opposite of clickbait?

Yeah, let's just pretend that this isn't happening, shall we?

Madonna
Pop star caught eating a man's butt
The photos showing the pop star leaking a man's buttocks just leaked!
It doesn't help that Nigeria's Pulse website seems to struggle with the idea of how buttplay actually works, but... yes, you'll find things are better if you just don't think about this again.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Charli XCX appears to be answering her own Smash Hits interview in her head

Talking to Maxim, Charli XCX cuts to the chase:

"Would I sleep in a bin? As long as I've had some champagne, then probably, yeah."
That's a brilliant pop star quote, but more importantly, she's just made it a hell of a lot easier for whoever is organising the Aitchison family Christmas this year: "excellent, so we can put Aunt Gemma on the sofa bed, as Charli's going to be happy out with the recycling so long as we pop a bottle of Moet down there. And cousin Dave can spoon with the dog again as he seemed to enjoy that last year."


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mumford And Sons hate "Mumford And Sons"

There are many things that annoy people about Mumford And Sons. The name which makes them sound like a faux-artisan cheesemakers that's really owned by Tesco is one of them.

The band hate that, too:

[Marcus Mumford] said: ''I definitely regret the band name. If I'd known it was going to go this way I would have wanted to call it anything other than my last name.

''It's a ball-ache. We thought about changing it but it's a bit late now.''
It's not, you know.

It's possible that changing your name would cause your band to sink without trace, but let's not just focus on the upside.


This week just gone

April's most-read so far:

1. RIP: Jess Marquis
2. Video: Garbage's RSD release
3. Mick Hucknall turns out to have been a Tory all along
4. All Shook Up comes to iPlayer, but here's some bits not on iPlayer
5. Manilow marries; Telegraph suggest this is "curious"
6. RIP: Josie Jones
7. Kate Jackson has named her album
8. Sandi Thom insists the cheque was in the post
9. Coachella bans nearly everything excepy hats
10. Having sex with Leapy Lee


These were the interesting releases:


Slug - Ripe


Download Ripe



Wire - Wire


Download Wire - Wire



The Leisure Society - The Fine Art Of Hanging On




Calexico - Edge Of The Sun


Download Edge Of The Sun



Gallows - Desolation Sounds


Download Desolation Sounds


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Record Store Day

When you were six:

Your dad: We've got to go visit Great Aunt Marylou
You: Don't wanna. She's not got anything to play with and it's boring.
Your dad: How about if I get you a special toy on the way?
You: Maybe...
Your dad: And we won't have to go again for a whole year

Now:

Your local record shop: Please come and see us
You: Don't wanna. You've got terrible stock and it's expensive.
Your local record shop: How about if I had a special Suede album?
You: Maybe...
Your local record shop: And... I suppose we won't see for a whole year afterwards


Alice Glass isn't happy

Alice Glass has been being upset on Twitter at the idea of Ethan Kath continuing Crystal Castles without her. NME storified the tweets:

Kath, for his part, describes Glass as "my former vocalist":
"I wish my former vocalist the best of luck in her future endeavors. I think it can be empowering for her to be in charge of her own project. It should be rewarding for her considering she didn't appear on Crystal Castles' best known songs, (she's not on 'Untrust Us'. 'Not In Love', 'Vanished', 'Crimewave', 'Vietnam', 'Magic Spells', 'Knights', 'Air War', 'Leni', 'Lovers Who Uncover', 'Violent Youth', 'Reckless', 'Year of Silence', 'Intimate', '1991', 'Good Time', 'Violent Dreams' etc.). People often gave her credit for my lyrics and that was fine, I didn't care."
Now, even though true, that's a pretty shitty statement. It reeks of someone in an atrophying domestic relationship listing petty items to try and prove something that doesn't matter: "when it rained that time and the bathroom leaked, I was the one who rigged the saucepans to catch the drips. And it was always me who had to ring the pizza place. And if it wasn't for me the cats would never have been wormed ever, would they?"

It seems like even Kath realised what he sounded like, because he later revised this statement:
"I wish my former vocalist the best of luck in her future endeavors. I think it can be empowering for her to be in charge of her own project. It should be rewarding for her."
You can still hear the muttering "last summer I was the only one who even seemed bothered about flea collars" underneath, but it's a lot less douchey.


Newjackswingobit: Johnny Kemp


1980s R&B star Johnny Kemp has died.

Born in the Bahamas, Kemp relocated to New York in the late 70s as a member of Kinky Foxx, but his breakthrough came after going solo. His career peak didn't last long - a brace of albums, the same number of Billboard hits - but he had recently been enjoying a lucrative spell on the nostalgia market. (That there is a New Jack Swing nostalgia market makes everyone feel incredibly old.)

His death is apparently unexplained; he had been due to perform on a cruise but his body was found floating in Montego Bay. He was 55.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Rifles "hacked"

The Rifles - who are apparently still going - tweeted support for UKIP yesterday:

It turns out, though, that they don't support UKIP. Or so they said after a backlash:
Please ignore the tweet regarding UKIP. Someone thinks their quite funny and hacked our twitter account #wankers

We've had an issue with our twitter account, why anyone would hack us is beyond on us. thanks to those showing us the vote of confidence X
I'm guessing that "hacked" here means "someone picked up a phone or used a computer where the account was logged in" rather than suggesting that Farage has someone sat in a room somewhere trying to break into the accounts of third-string guitar bands.


Embed and breakfast man: Garbage

Garbage have teamed up with Brian Aubert out of Silversun Pickups for their Record Store Day single. This is it:


Record Store Day is an annual event where rare records are hidden in shops for people to hunt down; the winners get to sell them on eBay at huge profits.