Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Malawian authorities restore traditional fawning over Madonna. And it's mutual.

There's been some upheavals recently in Malawi - the former president, Joyce Banda, has vanished from the country, chased by claims of financial misconduct, and returning fire with claims that the new President, Peter Mutharika and his party have constructed a case against her by coercion.

All very murky.

But someone's doing alright out of it: Madonna, who had fallen out with Banda, is back in favour:

The Malawi government has announced the restoration of the status of ‘Very Very Important Person (VVIP)’ at the airport to US pop star Madonna.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Quentie Kalichero said the current administration cannot take over the disagreements which had existed between former President Joyce Banda and Madonna.
Mutharika is very much Malawi's Obama. In the sense that there's a huge row over his eligibility to be president based on questions about whether he's really an American citizen or not. That's as far as the similarity goes.

And he tried to seize power through a coup.

And there was that time he failed to support academics when they were being hassled by police and bungled it so much that he had to be moved from the Education ministry.

And his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, when he was president, spent $13.26 million buying a private jet which used so much of the nation's currency reserves it led to a fuel shortage for ordinary Malawians. And Bingu gifted Peter the leadership of the party - which happened despite, rather than because of, the rules for electing a leader. Those who objected to this were kicked out the party.

And what does Madonna do when getting to hang out with a guy like that?
She salutes him.

But then, he did give her back keys to the airport's luxury lounge, right?

Lewis Hamilton reckons he could have a go at music next

Lewis Hamilton, who is known for driving cars very fast, is planning to build on his fame as a fast car driver by making music. His plans are well advanced:

Hamilton says he is influenced by artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Kodaline and Jay Z, as well as by his girlfriend, pop star Nicole Scherzinger.
Oddly, Hamilton doesn't mention the influence of the Arctic Monkeys or Gary Barlow, but they share a penchant for trying to squirrel money away so they don't have to pay their share of tax.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lady GaGa: Very much 'dog bites man'

Oh, Pulse Nigera, that's not really a news item, is it?

Although some respect for their plaintive cry:
Will Lady Gaga ever dress up normal?
If you must go out dressed like a firework, Gaga, at least wear sensible shoes.

Incidentally, most people seem convinced this was 'being dressed as a firework':
... but clearly she's just bought fall-apart statue The B Of The Bang from Manchester:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What the pop papers say: Rounding up the best albums

A quick word of praise for NME's current issue, the 50 Best Albums of the Year - one of the few list-based issues that makes sense. And it's been done in a lovely way - each album given a full page, and a lovingly written piece about it.

It's also striking that, when asked to talk about the current music it loves, the NME is a very different beast from the magazine you'd expect looking at the parade of the dead and the sainted that mark the front pages.

In fact, the only record on the list which feels driven by market forces rather than genuine passion is Morrissey's World Peace Is None Of Your Business. Three writers have a crack at explaining what it's doing on the list, and even then the sense that this is a continuation of the High Court Apology to Mr Morrissey never quite goes away. "It's a return to form" - well, yes, but it's a return to disappointing mid-solo career form, which is hardly a leap forward. "It's the best thing he's done since You Are The Quarry" - well, yes, but that's like saying "no more painful than sciatica."

St Vincent comes out top, and her prize appears to be a cover feature for next week. That's quite a coup, as shockingly, she'll be the first woman to appear on the cover since the start of November. November 2013. When it was MIA. (There was a montage which had Wolf Alice, if you want to be pedantic.) That's a pretty poor show.

2014 Forever: Other people's lists

This list is a work in progress, and will be added to over the next few weeks.

Capital Xtra best house music tracks of 2014:
Wanklemut - Head Is A Jungle (MK Remix)
Duke Dumont - I Got You
Shiba San - Okay
Patrick Topping - Forget
Oliver$ & Jimi Jules - Pushing On
Zhu - Faded
Daniel Steinburg - Let Me Down (Tube & Berger Remix)
Keisza - Hideaway
Klingande - Judel
Second City - I Wanna Feel
Route 94 - My Love
Oliver Heldens X Becky Hill - Gecko (Overdrive)
Watermat - Bullit
MK - Awlays
Disclosure - Latch
Doorly & Shadow Child - Piano Weapon
Jonas Rathman - I Hope I'm Wrong
Ten Walls - Walking With Elephants

NME top albums of 2014:
5. Caribou - Our Love
4. Aphex Twin - Syro
3. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream
2. Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
1. St Vincent - St Vincent

NME top tracks of 2014:
5. Run The Jewels - Blockbuster Night Part 1
4. The War On Drugs - Red Eyes
3. Fat White Family - Touch The Leather
2. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
1. Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting On You)

2014 Forever: The uberlist

The year is almost gone and, unlike every band ever, once it's split, it's not coming back.

This post does little more than collects the pages that form the annual review.

Other people's lists - a collection of favourite albums & tracks from the year

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reading/Leeds headliners announced

The first names for Reading/Leeds have been announced, and the NME has got a photo on their page:

Blimey. Status Quo? That's a surprise.

Hang about, if I squint a bit... oh, it's not Status Quo at all. Or not quite, anyway:
Metallica, Jamie T and Run The Jewels are among the first names confirmed to perform at next year's Reading & Leeds Festivals.
I don't know how I could have confused a one-trick pony who have spent the last decade or so complaining about the music industry while churning out the same song over and over again with Status Quo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A letter to The Guardian, illustrated

Catatonia, 1999:

Storm the palace

You can stick you obe
I'll sort out your bad Feng Shui
'Cos tourism is congestion
Tourism is congestion
Cerys Matthews, 2014:
"Sorry, did I say stick you OBE? I meant stick your MBE on my lapel. And I literally meant I'd sort out your bad feng shui - I've moved your animal statues into the money corners of the palace. Which is all of them. And now we can talk about a ticketing system to ease the congestion of tourism..."

Inspired by this letter from yesterday's Guardian:
Lovely photo of Cerys Matthews receiving her award at Buckingham Palace (Medal citizen, 22 November.) Would this be the same palace which we were urged to storm in the song on Catatonia’s album Equally Cursed and Blessed, the lyrics of which included the line “You can stick your OBE”?
Jim Naylon
Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Monday, November 24, 2014

Joey Fatone is keeping himself busy

Hey, don't think because N'Sync stopped being a going concern over a decade ago that time weighs heavily on Joey Fatone's hands.

Joey's got stuff to do:

Joey Fatone Visits Brookings For Worlds Largest Pillow Fight
What this story really says is not 'Joey Fatone went to a pillow fight' but 'America desperately lacks a pantomime tradition which would mop up the formerly famous and give them something to do every few months'.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lily Allen turned down Band Aid, says Lily Allen

John Peel used to say that he'd accepted the offer of an OBE because he didn't want to be the sort of person who spends their time talking about how they were offered an OBE, but turned it down.

Which is something to think about as we cross over to Lily Allen, talking about how she turned down the chance to be on Band Aid 30:

“It’s difficult to give an explanation why I didn’t do it without sounding like a complete cunt,” she told the Mail on Sunday.

“I prefer to do my charitable bit by donating actual money and not being lumped in with a bunch of people like that.

“It’s like the ‘success club’ and I’m not really in that club. I don’t think I’m above it all – I’m way below it. But there’s something a bit smug about it.
That's true enough. But considering the turn she did alongside Kate Moss and Dave Gilmour at Hoping's Got Talent or her appearance on War Child compilations, or popping up duetting with Robbie Williams at another charity event, or the work she did for Tarka & Friends, or the video with Chris Martin for dementia care, or the Royal Albert Hall Coram gig, you might wonder why this specific success club for charity is such a bad thing. Or why, on those half-dozen other occasions Lily didn't apply the 'I do my charity by giving money' rule.

Still, it's possible that the sudden hand-waving about Band Aid is less about charity, and more about distracting attention from the closure of her vanity label ITNO. With only two acts signed, and Allen apparently drawing down a £100k salary for her work for it, you can see why she might feel better placed to give to charity directly.

No longer en vogue

Lifetime, the US network which makes the Hallmark Channel look like a Cage Fighting marathon, is airing a Christmas special:

Lifetime has "En Vogue Christmas" on its schedule this weekend ... it's a fictional movie about a family that convinces the group to reunite to save a local concert house.
I'm not sure that getting En Vogue back together is the strategy I'd have gone with - I can see that a Destiny's Child reunion might do the trick, but what cold-hearted developer is going to be impressed with En Vogue?

In real life, the builder would be going "ooh, En Vogue? Tell you what, if you can get the Honeyz back together I might leave car park untouched."

I could just be being cynical, of course. Maybe right now, getting a couple of tunes out of Sisters With Voices can be more effective in protecting an old building than a Grade II listing.

But the plot isn't what's interesting about the story. It turns out, Dawn Robinson - who quit En Vogue in 1997 - is upset that she's not been invited back to the fictional reunion, and is demanding payment. TMZ reports:
Former En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson will sue Lifetime if it dares to air a movie about the group that doesn't include her character.
"Her character" is, of course, not a character at all. It's her.

What makes it even more odd is that the film that Robinson is angry at being left out of is, in her opinion, likely to be shit:
Robinson says, at the very least, she will boycott Lifetime, telling us ... "I have no interest in watching it. It looks horrible. I'm sad for them. ... After seeing the Aaliyah biopic, I'm extremely worried that this is going to be a trainwreck."
So, yes, by her own analogy Dawn is like someone trying to sue a rail operator for not letting her board a train that subsequently crashed, killing everyone on board.

I really hope Lifetime counter-sue, demanding payment for having kept her out of it.

I really, really hope Lifetime have added in the following dialogue:

- Have all the band agreed to take part
- Well, Mommy, I still gotta call Dawn Robinson
- Oh, don't call her, poppet; she's so awful there's every chance they'd raze the whole neighbourhood, never mind the concert hall, if she was involved

How local news works, part 376

There's a contestant on The Voice from Fort Worth. Your local beat is Wilkes County, a seventeen hour drive away?

NO problem:

A singer with ties to Wilkes County has made it into the Top 10 finalists on NBC’s reality competition series “The Voice,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Luke Wade is from Fort Worth, Texas, but spent summers during his childhood in Moravian Falls visiting family there, according to his cousin, Kelly Pipes.
Person says man off television spent an unspecified amount of time over an undocumented period of years visiting?

Local boy. Front pages held.

Kelis swaps Milkshake for egg nog

It's in no way odd that Kelis' new project is a Christmas food cookery show.

No, really it isn't; she's a proper, certified chef:

“My mom had a catering business growing up, so I fell in love with cooking early on,” Rogers, a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef and saucier, tells the Daily News.

“We’d make everything from couscous to Swedish meatballs.”
- I understand that Kelis is not just a certified chef, but she's got some other skills as well
- Saucier?
- Compared with Jamie Oliver, I suppose she is, yes.

This week just gone

The most-read things this week:

1. Jo O'Meara on how she was the victim that time she said Indians don't cook their food properly
2. Ride are back
3. Even though Bob wasn't bothered, apparently Adele is wrong for not doing Band Aid
4. Video: Le Prince Miaou
5. Star-Tribune think Jimmy Ruffin was mostly someone's brother
6. Simon Bates got sacked by Smooth
7. Tony Hadley was suddenly separated from his appendix
8. RIP: Johnny Elichaoff
9. RIP: Northern Uproar's Jeff Fletcher
10. Late starting doesn't work in pop

These were the interesting new releases:

Paul Smith & Peter Brewis - Frozen By Sight

Download Frozen By Sight

Einstürzende Neubauten - Lament

Download Lament

Robert Wyatt - Different Every Time

Ariel Pink - Pom Pom

Download Lament

Fugazi - First Demo

Download First Demo

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Billy Bragg on wrong side of history, again

Billy Bragg is having a terrible year - having backed the South Bank and its sponsors against the Undercroft skaters, he's now had to apologise to Taylor Swift.

See, when Swift pulled her music from Spotify, Bragg concluded somehow that this was because she was clambering into bed with Google:

"If Ms Swift was truly concerned about perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free, she should be removing her material from YouTube, not cosying up to it," Bragg said.

"Given that this year is the first to fail to produce a new million selling album, I can understand Taylor Swift wanting to maximise her opportunities with the new record – and it worked: she shifted 1.28m copies of 1989 in the first week of sale. But she should just be honest with her fans and say “sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of You Tube Music Key and so I’ve sold my soul to Google,” Bragg continued.

"Google are going after Spotify and Taylor Swift has just chosen sides," wrote Bragg. "That’s her prerogative as a savvy businesswoman - but please don’t try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers."
There's two problems here: the first, that Swift's pulling of music from Spotify is unconnected with her selling over a million copies of her album. How dispiriting it is that Bragg assumes her sales are simply a function of a basic supply and demand curve; that it is the scarcity of supply rather than the quality of the experience that has seen 1989 fly off shelves or down wires or whatever it is records actually do now.

The second, more important problem was Bragg's accusation that Swift was acting not out of principle but greed was... well, it was very wide of the mark. Here's his climbdown:
"I want to apologise to Taylor Swift for accusing her of selling her soul to Google," wrote Bragg on Facebook. "I have learned that her music will not now be available on the new YouTube Music Key service, which launched this week."
So, sorry about that. Bragg then launches into an explanation of how he got confused, based on how he'd read in The Observer that Google had used Swift's music at the launch, and then goes into a bit of a ramble about how music being available for free on the internet made him do it.
The time will surely come when content creators have to band together to challenge deals done between rights holders and service providers, details of which are kept from artists and their representatives. If Ms Swift is going to lead that fight for transparency, she will have my full support.
I'm sure she'll be delighted to have your full support, Billy. Perhaps not in the research department.

On the other hand, Bragg did have a good joke to end on:
I would like to add that I will be boycotting the first media outlet to use the headline ‘Bragg makes Swift apology’
It's a good gag, but perhaps having accused a person of selling their soul to Google for a large sum of money requires more than a boom-tish.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What the hell, Minneapolis Star Tribune?

We need to talk, Star Tribune:

You think that being related to someone out The Temptations in Jimmy Ruffin's main claim to fame? Seriously?

Bookmarks: Elastica & Mark E Smith

The AV Club remembers that time Elastica and Mark E Smith worked together:

It’s a corker of a tune, with Frischmann spitting some abstract fatalism about there being no way out and “last chances,” which resonate even more knowing that Elastica would break up shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, Smith barks about breaking through “glass barriers/class barriers,” which could possibly be read as commentary on Elastica being held down by a boys’ club music scene that saw it as irredeemable. Or, maybe it just sounded good.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Legendobit: Jimmy Ruffin

Jimmy Ruffin has died.

Amongst his many other musical accomplishments, let's never forget that he took on Thatcher, on the side of the miners, when he joined Weller's Council Collective to raise funds for the strikers (while putting their side of the story):

(In obituaries this morning, the BBC is coyly describing this as "a charity single" rather than a political act.)

But this... this is what he'll be best remembered for:

Daily Mail & Dave apparently believes Hear'Say still a going concern

The funniest thing about Dave Cameron's embrace of Myleene Klass and her 'how can you punish me for being rich' special pleading - and the gurgling delight the Mail has shown - is that both seem convinced that Klass is still a pop star.

Hear'Say broke up on the 13th May, 2003 - so not pop for 11 years - and hasn't troubled the top 10 since 2002. So not a pop star for a dozen years.

What's strange is, if Dave had gone with the more accurate 'woman from the Littlewoods catalogue adverts', it would probably have had more sting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Back, back, back: Ride

I'm genuinely conflicted about this:

Friday 22 May Barrowland Ballroom Glasgow, UK
Saturday 23 May 2015 Albert Hall Manchester, UK
Sunday 24 May 2015 Roundhouse London, UK
Tuesday 26 May 2015 Paradiso Amsterdam, Holland
Wednesday 27 May 2015 Olympia Paris, France
Friday 29 May 2015 PrimaveraFestival Barcelona, Spain
Tuesday 2 June 2015 DanForth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
Thursday 4 June 2015 Terminal New York, US
Sunday 7 June 2015 Field Day London, UK

Ride were one of the most important bands in my life. One of the most important things in my life. Seeing Chelsea Girl on Snub TV is one of those events where my narrative changed.

But also: late-period, when Andy took over most of the duties. When they were a pre-echo of Hurricane Number One.

They changed my life.

They broke my heart.

Do I want to go back to that?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Indieobit: Jeff Fletcher

Jeff Fletcher, guitarist with Northern Uproar, has been killed in a road accident.

Fletcher was hit by a lorry in the centre of Stockport on Monday evening; suffering head injuries, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeff was a founder member of the group - arguably, rooted in bands he and Leon Meya started when they were just 11. Never quite Britpop, never quite Madchester, the band ran around the charts shouting between 1995 and 1997; they got back together in 2004 and are still a going concern, although Jeff left a couple of years back.

Talking to the Manchester Evening News, Leon Meya said:

“Jeff was a gentleman and my friend since the age of five, we grew up together and went through school.

“He was a genius and learned the guitar in six months. He was the principle song writer, he could make melodies, sing and was a good performer. He made the sound of Northern Uproar, we were a great team.

“Jeff was recognised as a great guitarist, his guitar work was amazing. He was such a lovely caring bloke, I will miss a proper friend.”
Here's the band featured on The Sunday Show in a none-more-90s segment involving ligging, The Astoria, and Loaded:

Jeff Fletcher was 36.

Band Aid 30: Act global, think local

The Bradford Telegraph And Argus knows what's crucial about Band Aid 30:

BRADFORD’S One Direction star Zayn Malik will feature on a new Band Aid song.
The term "ebola" doesn't appear until the penultimate word.

It's also uncomfortable the context in which is appears:
and is expected to raise millions to ease Africa’s Ebola crisis.
Most of Africa doesn't have an "Ebola crisis". So, in much the same way that the original Band Aid painted a picture of a continent entirely in the grip of famine (which wasn't the case), the new one is painting a picture of a continent raddled with disease (which isn't the case). Nice to keep those Imperialist traditions going, isn't it?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Band Aid 30: That song against Ebola isn't bad

No, not the Geldof one. This one:

The artists on this track are Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, Barbara Kanam and rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus (from the band Banlieuz'Arts) and Mokobe.

One of the criticisms levelled, fairly, at the original Band Aid was that Bob and Midge had failed to find any African artists to take part at all, creating a sense that this was an act of Imperialistic Paternalism.

No chance of that this time round, as Angélique Kidjo is involved. That's one African. (At a stretch, Fuse ODG was raised in Ghana and is in the chorus, but he's an English artist.) Four singles, and in all that time, she's the first African national to have got to deliver a line on the song. At this rate, by the time they get to Band Aid 50, they might manage as many as two Africans.

Late starting doesn't work in the pop industry

The i has a piece today headlined:

Women: If you are over 26, you'll probably never make it as a pop star
This is based on a data analysis of 'age at time of first number one single', and - to be honest - if you strip out Carly Rae Jepsen, who is something of an outlier, you're looking at 23 being the latest to get your career started.
But... surely the idea that the pop industry is a harsh place to late starters doesn't require a graph? Or one to show that the levels of investment in older women in the entertainment industry scuppers the chance of a launch (and we're calling 27 'older' here which shows the extent of the problem)?

In fact, given there can only be at most 520 number one artists in a ten year period, and generously, only 100 of those are liable to be debut number ones, and the population of the three countries which supply most US number ones (US, UK & Canada) is about 421 million, the headline should be:
People, you'll probably never make it as a pop star

Apparently Turkish pop stars have graduations of bad

In Turkey, there are (it appears) so many pop stars on the run from the law, there is even a "most wanted pop star":

Deniz Seki had been convicted of drug-related offences. Her response was to skedaddle:
“Instead of going to jail I prefer to be chased,” Seki was quoted as saying by the Turkish media in June.
One part Ronnie Biggs; one part Duncan Norvelle.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Band Aid 30: Uncharitable

Adele didn't take part in Band Aid 30. Which is fair enough - nobody's obliged to take part in charitable endeavours, however well-intentioned they may be; and having to get to a certain place at a certain time to record a track that seems to be happening more because of an anniversary than from a desire to help doesn't sound like much of a deal.

That's what you'd expect a grown-up attitude to be, anyway.

Instead, it's got a bit like this:

To be fair, it's not Bob Geldof who's making a fuss - he was quite fair-minded:

When asked why Adele wasn't taking part, Bob told The Sunday Mirror: "I got through to someone, not her, but she’s not doing anything at all at the moment. It’s fine, I understand it’s not for everybody and other people support in different ways.”

He insisted: "I put the call in. I didn't speak to her. I spoke to Jonathan (her manager) and he says, 'I can't speak to her. I try but she won’t pick up the phone'."
That seems understandable then - she's not doing anything at the moment, even her manager cant interest her in projects, and Bob understands that some people don't care for this sort of charity showboating and will offer their support in other ways.

Oddly, though, the Mirror headline on this isn't 'Some people opt not to take part' but...
Adele SNUBS Band Aid 30 - Sir Bob Geldof insists he tried to pin the star down for track
She doesn't just snub it. She snubs it with caps lock on.

This is one of those rare occasions where the comments on a Mail Online story are actually more measured than the article they appear under - for while the Mail goes heavily for the suggestion that Adele "ignored" Bob, the commenters - almost to an avatar - shrug and say 'yeah, she's busy, and it's not that big a deal'. The winner is CelticShady:
I love that after posting the original message, an hour later Celtic had a further thought about how Emeil Sande shouldn't have gotten involved, neither.

This week just gone

Where's your (GEOIP) head(er) at - where most readers live, in descending order, year-to-date:

1. UK
2. USA
3. South Korea
4. Norway
5. Canada
6. Germany
7. Australia
8. France
9. Ireland
10. Brazil

These were this week's interesting releases:

Tim Wheeler - Lost Domain

Download Lost Domain

Bis - The Anthology

Download The Anthology

Hookworms - The Hum

Download The Hum

Ty Segall - Singles 2

Download Singles 2

Royksopp - The Inevitable End

Download The Inevitable End

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bookmarks: Documenting purchases

Jem Stone has put his Word piece about documenting singles and albums purchases on his blog:

However, most of the agony was writing the first entry . Should I should start with numbering Call Up by the Clash (7″) as No. 1 ?
This wasn’t right given that I’d already had bought about 50 singles pre 1980 when the book began. My record buying life had actually begun on a rainy shopping trip with Mum to WH Smiths record shop, three years before, with Abba’s Knowing Me Knowing You. What about that ? So logically then perhaps the first entry should actually be numbered 51 ? Perhaps I should document the backstory (“The Early Years”) in a separate book ? Would it dilute the diary if i put all this stuff in the back ?

I genuinely used to fret hard about this stuff but went, as it turns out, with Number 1.

Back, back, back: Shanice and S Club

Obviously, we can all agree that I Love Your Smile was a lovely piece of pop music. Unless you're young and never heard it. Or have ashes where your heart once was.

But it was a slim career for Shanice, and a somewhat slim base for her to build a comeback attempt on.

You were hardly here in the first place, Shanice. You were hardly here.

This is a worrying sign that the passion for bringing back half-remembered acts from the 90s has reached a point where the supply of unreturned acts is running out.

(As an aside, how awkward was last night's S Club reunion on Children In Need? All the pep of when they were children's TV stars, but the imploring eyes of adults who thought that, by now, they'd have moved beyond this. And making Rochelle from The Saturdays introduce it was just cruel - 'hey, give it ten years, and you'll be back here, too...')

The Shanice comeback is being driven by the Oprah Winfrey Network - a network which knows a thing or two about how 90s powerhouses can slide into obsolescence - and it's going to include awkward moments like this:

In the booth, Shanice begins belting out notes like it was yesterday, showcasing a fiery new sound in the five-octave range she's known for. When the track ends, her producer's reaction says it all.

"Um, could you not be fabulous for like two minutes?" he asks Shanice. "This is too much!"
Could Shanice not be fabulous for two minutes? That's not much of an ask from someone who released one song in 1991 and, since then, has suffered financial hardship and has had to sell her house just to get to the point where the OWN will stick a half-interested camera in her face. I think Shanice's ability to not be fabulous, for periods measured in decades rather than minutes, has pretty much been established by science.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Drumobit: Johnny Elichaoff

Johnny Elichaoff, one of the dealers on Channel 4's Four Rooms and - long ago - a drummer - has died following a fall from a London shop roof.

The Mail's coverage of his death is as dreadful as you'd expect - the headline can't even find space for his name:

Tragedy as Trinny Woodall's former husband, 55, falls to his death from roof of central London shopping centre
They tell you how old he is, but not who he is.

Then, the paper gets on to his musical career:
Nicknamed Johnny Too Bad, he played in a Seventies band called Stark Naked And The Car Thieves before defecting to the equally bizarrely named Baby And The Black Spots and then playing in guitarist Robert Fripp's League Of Gentlemen.

His musical career was interrupted by a two-year spell in the Army in 1984, and he went on to help manage rock bands Tears For Fears and Fairground Attraction.
Stark Naked And The Car Thieves isn't that bizarre a name for a punky-new wave band; and even if it was, Baby And The Black Spots is surely less bizarre a name?

Then the Mail hears from a witness.
Alex Fakhre, 25, who witnessed the fall, told the Evening Standard: 'I was coming back from my girlfriend’s and the road was all blocked off. The police said a guy had fallen from the car park (roof). He looked in a pretty bad way.'
Except he, clearly, didn't witness the fall, as the paper would have known if they'd read what they were copying from another paper.

Although he never made much of a living from music, he made up for it when he went into business. Talking to Channel 4 during his spell on Four Rooms, he summed up his stance:
'When people ask me what I do, I always say 'what do you need?' I'll buy and sell anything - watches, crude oil, furniture, pictures, anything at all!'