Pandas are Cute!

Baby Pandas…eh, not so much…

currently playing: Kylie Minogue – Made Of Glass

RIP TOTP

And in the end, it never even got to go out in the slot it has occupied for the last few years; instead, Top of The Pops was tonight quietly taken out behind Television Centre, and shot through the head.

You could argue that it went out fighting, with a strong final line-up. But the top draws were Crazy Frog and James Blunt, so we’ll discount that, shall we?

Excuse me, Pan’s People are dancing to the Crazy Frog’s new single. I’ll be out back with my shotgun. Oh, and Pan’s People 2000 don’t seem to like clothes. Skirts and tops in particular…

I wonder part of the decline in TOTP over the past how many years (10? 15?) is due to the other crisis in Pop that reared its head in yesterday’s chart. Yes, I’m talking about how Rachel Steven’s So Good only managed to make it to Number 10 this week. Both Popjustice and Sweeping The Nation have covered the issue in greater depth than I will, but to sum up: there are very few pop stars that sell records. And that led me to think - the most recent UK female pop star who can still have guaranteed hits is Kylie Minogue (yeah, yeah, I know, but despite not actually being British, she is a British-made act). Which is a little depressing. For the men, you have Robbie Williams; but having little to no new stars with staying power in the past ten years is very worrying.

But what can be done? Some might say that the internet can come to our rescue, by building up new acts and fulfilling a role previously occupied by the music press (c.f. the last post on the NME, and Smash Hits). And to be fair, people are giving that a shot. Unfortunately, the internet is all hype and no trousers itself at the moment (ask the eight people who bought Annie’s Anniemal, for example).

I might be a music fascist, but there is no place in any just world for Heather Small.

Popjustice is heartened by the departure of Radio 1’s music head, Alex Jones-Donelly, but I wonder whether how much power Radio 1 has anymore, with the rise of Radio 2 and the increasing power of the music channels on digital satellite. I don’t think one station, channel, or paper is as important as it used to be, and perhaps the big fads and followings of the past will never happen again.

TOTP is dead. And maybe it’s just as well.

currently playing: Dexy’s Midnight Runners — Come On Eileen

Penman/Morley Is Where I Want To Be

The most telling thing about BBC4’s Inky Fingers and its look back on the past 50 years of the NME, is how little they dwelled on the present. Conor McNicholas was given two minutes to dismiss critics of the current era as ‘granddads’, and the Steve Sutherland era of the 1990s wasn’t even mentioned. A shame really, as Andrew Collins’ recollection of Sutherland’s appointment is fairly amusing:

1992. Popular, rotund, football loving NME editor Danny Kelly leaves for pastures Q. Various NME staffers publicly apply for job - in name of continuity at what was a great time for the NME - Steve Lamacq, Stuart Maconie, Andrew Collins, Gavin Martin, James Brown and Brendan Fitzgerald (the people’s choice, non-nonsense Antipodean Deputy Ed). None of whom even got the courtesy of a second interview - instead we were all shocked to find that MM deputy ed Steve Sutherland would be “crossing the floor” from Melody Maker to be our new boss - just weeks after a pathetic live review in MM which he wrote saying that Suede were all that MM stood for (grace, glamour, originality) and Kingmaker were all that NME stood for (lumpen, crappy stude rock). It was typical of his useless writing style and his imagined “feud” between the papers - both owned by IPC and one floor apart in the same building. We at NME did hate the MM, but mainly because they all crossed an NUJ picket line that very year, despite our pleading of solidarity. So we were going to be run by a scab who’d tried to turn NME vs MM into column inches for cheap effect. And we’d heard he was a tosser.

For an hour-long documentary, it did its job fairly well, although as expected, events had to be compressed and details left out; the programme covered the ‘hip-hop’ wars of the 1980s in a rather jaunty tone, neglecting to just how serious it was - rumour has it that the police got involved over anti-editorial graffiti sprayed onto the office building.

As expected, it left me nostalgic for a time I never really knew. Danny Baker says that the best era of the NME is whenever you started reading, but I know that’s not true for me. During the 1980s, IPC found itself publishing a music paper that reviewed music from a philosophical point of view, a New Pop point of view, and all the others it could find, never compromising in the face of label pressure. When I was reading the NME, Be Here Now was passed around the office; the requirement of taking the album was that you had to write a positive review.

Admittedly, there was still interesting bits and pieces throughout the 1990s, as issue-based features crept back into the paper, and yes, I used to find Steven Wells entertaining at times (far too in love with Hunter S. Thompson, but his review of Sleater-Kinney’s The Hot Rock made me rush out to a Manchester record shop and buy the album, so I do have a little soft spot for him, although I imagine he wouldn’t approve).

As for ‘granddads’, well, sure Conor, if you say so. It’s not that we’ve too old for your paper. It’s that the NME is now little more than a multimedia brand, designed only to cosy up to record labels and rubberstamp their new acts (while at the same time, blackmailing the labels not to talk to any magazines). The quality of the writing has plummeted, with the reviews section in particular being a pale shadow of even its 1990s self. It was better; even accounting for the most rosiest of lenses.

One final note: Charles Shaar Murray’s TEETH! MY GOD!

currently playing: Orange Juice – Rip It Up

The Greatest Briton

Tim Westwood on Pimp My Ride, taking the mickey out of somebody for their use of slang.

Tim then went on to use the phrase “you’re packing crazy heat”. The man is a national treasure…

currently playing: Goldfrapp – Ooh La La

Fox News: Fair, Balanced, Accurate!

A Sky News feed of Michael Howard is playing. Then, a cut back to the Fox & Friends studio:

“That was Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, looking more depressed, obviously, than he was yesterday in Singapore”

Also, earlier: “Well, the English don’t have any experience with terrorism…“

And…

KILMEADE: And he [British Prime Minister Tony Blair] made the statement, clearly shaken, but clearly determined. This is his second address in the last hour. First to the people of London, and now at the G8 summit, where their topic Number 1 –believe it or not– was global warming, the second was African aid. And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it’s important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world’s advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

currently playing: The Clash: White Riot

Oooh!

Archery in Bow Street, anybody?

(I’m so, so sorry)

currently playing: Vitalic – No Fun

Last Night I Dreamt That Neil Tennant Married Dusty Springfield…

…but then I looked again, and it was Paul Morley.

(I may have a problem concerning music journalists from the 1980s. Perhaps)

Live 8 wrap-up!

Looking at the audience figures for last Saturday here in the UK, it seems that Live 8 wasn’t quite the crowd-puller that we all thought it would be. A peak of 9.6 million people pales into comparison with important footballing events, Diana’s funeral, and probably the original Live Aid concert (I can’t find real figures, but I’ll be amazed if the peak audience in 1985 was anything less than 15 million). This can be partly explained by the decline in TV watching generally (and the effect of multi-channels on the terrestrial five), but it only just beat the first episode of Doctor Who!

Meanwhile, HMV is rubbing its hands together as the acts that played Live 8 experience a huge sales increase (except for Mr. Doherty, who gets sent home with a “Must Do Better” note). Hurrah for Dave Gilmour, then, who throws a Geldof-like spanner in the works. I’ve also heard a rumour that Pink Floyd have turned down a $150m offer to tour America…

Also, the concert organisers are trying to clamp down on people selling bootlegs of the concert. As ever, I have a few semantic games to play with this: I take it that giving bootlegs away is okay? Seeing as how no money is lost (as the performers weren’t compensated for their time), and all it could possibly do is raise awareness about Live 8? Hmm? Also, if Universal ever stop giving the proceeds of their digital download of U2 and Paul McCartney to Live 8, I trust that they will be branded as scum too (also, why is Universal credited with the copyright? Sure, U2 are on Universal, but Apple Records/Northern Music/Sony Music/Michael Jackson should also share the credit, right?)

And finally, Lexicon of Love by ABC is £2.99 in HMV. If you don’t have a copy of this, beg forgiveness from the gods, and get to your local music emporium post-haste…

currently playing: ABC – Tears Are Not Enough (12” Mix)

I Meet You In Links

George Bush: My scientists tell me that global warming is actually caused by a concentration of midichlorians!

Sail 8! Umm, well, yes, Bob, it was a dumb idea…

New Top of The Pops being engineered to be the worst chart show since The Roxy, complete with Jeremy Clarkson guest presenting.

Woohoo! Aren’t you looking forward to EDS building the ID Card system?

Jackanory is coming back! Plus a call for more drama on CBBC! Excellent! (And moving to Manchester too!) Time to try and come up with another proposal, I think…

currently playing: ABC – Many Happy Returns

You Don't Really Need To Read The Previous Entry. It's OK.

Simon Sweeping The Nation (apologies, but I’m adopting the Smash Hits naming technique, which appears to be a little unwieldy for blogs, I’ll admit, but a running gag is a running gag) sums up Live 8 in a more concise and correct manner than my ramblings yesterday. (Number 2 is so true…)

currently playing: The Dresden Dolls – Missed Me

Live Blogging Live 8: Have Nothing Better To Do

Starting off with highlights from Live Aid: Message from the BBC: It’s not going to be half as good, suckers!

Boo! I was expecting U2 and Thumbs Aloft Macca (doing my bit to relive old Smash Hits catchphrases) to be dressed up as the Lonely Hearts Band…a few instrument players don’t count!

BRING BACK THE QUO!

“The sun always sshinnnneees on TV!” It’s a good thing A-Ha are playing in a different venue, Bono…

And now…for a very special message…

Warren Ellis is offering cash money for an air strike.

Sting’s wife sounds like Paula Yates…which gave old flashbacks when not paying attention to the TV.

OOoh. Time for Coldplay. Hold me. Yawning for Africa, with After Effects fractal lines in the background. Chris tries to bring the Quo, but the crowd either doesn’t recognise it, or are getting ready to bottle him off…

OH FOR A GUN. YOU ARE NOT FREDDIE MERCURY.

The best song in the world has a Rolling Stones sample? Who knew? (But at least the presence of Ashcroft means that Chris Martin is thrown in the background for a while)

The greatest thing ever organised ever apparently. The UN, the invasion of Normandy, the eradication of polio, the Magna Carta, all pale into comparison when set against a rock concert (honest, I’m not this cynical normally, but I resent being called stupid because I don’t buy into something without question). And Kenickie’s “I Would Fix You” is approximately 12,345 times better than “Fix You”.

HAHAHAHA. I love the BBC. I hope the engineers cut away from that on purpose; just to dent Chris Martin’s insufferable “If the BBC switch this off, they’re not doing their jobs properly” speech

Andrew Marr for the new TOTP! Or at least a duet with Snoop Dogg!

My sister: “Philadelphia gets Brad Pitt and Will Smith, and we get Little Britain???”

Elton John looking fairly reserved, which is a shame. We could really do with a silly wig or two to liven things up. But don’t worry! Keane are on later!

Marchers in London’s Gay Pride asked to think of Africa by Bob Geldof. He won’t be happy until he’s overshadowed every political event in the next two weeks, will he?

OH GOD, Pete Doherty has made it on time! And not looking like he applied his make-up while out of his mind on heroin. No, not at all. Good God, he looks absolutely terrible. Back on the drugs again, it seems.

YAY BJÖRK! BOO! NO MORE BJÖRK!

We were hoping for Bruce Springsteen, but all we get is Bob.

BILL SODDING GATES? BILL —— I…I

oh sure, a convicted monopolist! That’s a good spokesman! In charge of a company that imposes heavy trade restrictions on companies shipping its products, that campaigns for absurdly restrictive copyright laws, and does its utmost to undermine free alternatives to its expensive products. Just wonderful…coming up next, Pope Benedict XIV on birth control! Although the payback is that he has to introduce Dido. Which is a fairly worthy punishment for restricting us to 8.3 filenames for fifteen years.

Luckily, Dido is drawing all the rage out of me. She’s a great soporific…

Youssou N’Dour is designated Official African Music Talent of Live 8, it seems, and he, one of the biggest selling African artists ever…is doing backing vocals for Dido. Nice one! Aha, 7 Seconds now, so he gets a bigger part.

And now we’re going across the world! Zucchero! Katherine Jenkins in Berlin (crowd wanting her to do 99 Red Balloons), Thomas Mapfumo in Eden (which doesn’t sound bad, actually), Duran Durah living it up in Rome (Spandau forever!), and that’s it.

Either the G8 drops the debt or Stereophonics play FOREVER! At this point, we’re making an executive decision to watch the Women’s Final at Wimbeldon, as Kelly Jones is not welcome in this house. Why couldn’t they get the Manics? I’m sure Nicky Wire would have enlivened the event somewhat.

Oh look! Celebs didn’t have to go through a text-message lottery!

Back to the tennis because Ricky Gervias isn’t funny, and Lindsay Davenport is fighting with an umpire! Much more exciting!

Michael Stipe is auditioning for the Blue Man Group! I think he’s going to win today’s make-up prize, doing an impression of Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in a rather low-key version of Imitation of Life (lots of stray feedback and mic pops).

R.E.M. at Live 8

I really don’t like Everybody Hurts. But everybody else seems to be having a good sway, so I can deal with it. Plus it’s the first time today that the crowd sounds excited.

WHAT? Cut back TO R.E.M., I don’t want to see Razorlight! WHO PUT COLIN AND EDITH IN CHARGE OF THE VIDEO AGAIN!?? R.E.M. are doing Man in The Moon for crying out loud!

Ah, that’s better. anger levels subside

Meanwhile, in Japan, Björk begins to devour Tokyo:

bjork.jpg

KOFI! KOFI! ANNAN!

Ms. Dynamite is suffering from more sound problems. And the crowd not joining in.

(erm, what happened to Kofi Annan? Bob Geldof all but goes down on his knees for Bill Gates, but the leader of the UN just gets to shuffle on and off? Nice!)

Graham Norton tells us that the Kaiser Chiefs are amazingly calm. Well, a world breathes easier with that knowledge…

Meanwhile, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais make condescending comments about acts all over the world, while Hyde Park gets ready for Keane. Ah, Keane. A band that makes you yearn for the hard-edge and dangerous sound of Sarah Records.

Venus Williams v. Lindsay Davenport is 2-3 in the final set, by the way.

Oh look, it’s Bob. And WILL SMITH! Yay! Working all the crowds. Because he can. DUDE! HE’S GOT THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ONSTAGE! Best Prop Ever!

Do we have to go back to London? Philadelphia looks quite fun! But no, Travis is doing their “We were like Coldplay first, dammit!” act, comprising of Sing, Side, and Why Does It Always On Me. Oh, for the halcyon days of U16 Girls.

Fran, you can’t sing Staying Alive. You let us down, you’ve let Britain down, but most of all, you’ve let yourselves down. And nice juxtaposition with African desert scenes during Rain on me!

Oho. “Only The Biggest Acts Can Apply!” That would be Bob Geldof onstage, then. Where are the rest of the Boomtown Rats, Bob? And not a shameful attempt to recreate the 1985 performance, oh no…and back to Midge Ure. Who seems a little annoyed, but then recovers when talking to Fearne Cotton, although somewhere Annabel Giles is warming up her boxing gloves.

Oh, Brad Pitt is in London! Could he possibly mention pharmaceutical companies and generic drugs? Probably not.

It’s Brits’ Best Female Artist Annie Lennox! Yawwwwn.8-7 Venus in final set, Or. Venus wins!

Going to take a little break for dinner. Back soon.

I was a bit mean to Annie Lennox; she turned in an impressive performance. But the highlight of the whole concert so far has got to be Snoop Dogg showing how cool it is to go on BBC1 at 18:30 and spend fifteen minutes going through all the swear words in his little rhyming dictionary. Top class entertainment! Plus, the sight of Paul McCartney getting down to Drop It Like It’s Hot was wonderful.

Meanwhile, Will Smith is performing with DJ Jazzy Jeff in Philly! We laugh at the Americans, but their line-up seems much more diverse, plus they’ve got over 1.5m people there, which is a damn site more than the 200,000 or so in Hyde Park…(warning, I have a huge soft spot for Will Smith, so I loved the whole Switch / Fresh Prince / Summertime triptych)

Natalie Portman still has no hair! Evey Evey Evey! And the ‘Drive’ video that I mentioned a few days ago. And then, the girl in the video on stage, all grown up and looking well. An example of what Live Aid did. Of course, as Bob continues to point out, Live Aid was a completely different affair to this one.

MADONNA IS GOING TO EAT HER SOUL!

Okay, the girl has her translator with her now; she looked a little lost while Madonna was calling for a revolution.

MORE SWEARING! That quiet sobbing is the poor sap who is manning the BBC Duty Log tonight…

(I hope this continues to the point where Sir Macca decides to cover an NWA song by the end of the night)

A fairly average (although Ray of Light was nice and fast) set by Madonna, although she’s now get a cast of about forty on stage to liven things up a little. Oh, Jacques Lu Cont!

Boo! More Pet Shop Boys! Come back!

An interesting running order at London. No harm to Snow Patrol, obviously, but above Madonna? Arg. Forgetting the words to your song to an audience of 5 billion is probably a little embarrassing.

Pet Shop Boys an BBCi allows us to escape Jimmy Carr. We turn over at the exact point where their set ends. Wonderful.

Meanwhile, in other wonderful feats! My favourite part is that he lost his place three hours in, and had to start all over again. That man has stamina.

The Killers! For one song! Somebody got a raw deal…but they’re making the best of it. Although, if Bob Geldof hadn’t done I Don’t Like Mondays, they could have done two! Boo to Bob!

Or…we could have skipped Joss Stone’s set. We’re switching over to Alicia Keys, perhaps you might join us…although she’s not too interesting either.

Wow, the Philly concert looks like bunches of fun; poets, beach balls, pyro, and sun!

Erm, Peter Kay is either drunk, or incredibly pissed-off with Jonathan Ross. The look he gave Ross when he mentioned Amarillo was deathly.

Boo! Jake is dressed! But a stylish cowboy outfit nonetheless. And Ana Matronic’s microphone isn’t working. Grrr. Oooh! New song! I do think we should adopt the Sisters as artists in residence, especially since the Americans aren’t that interested. They’d make the VJ-Day celebrations more enjoyable, for a start.

Peter Kay is drunk. Highlight: “You will burn!” to Joss Stone, after accusing her of selling her soul to the Devil. It’s all coming apart.

Velvet Revolver - doing the camp Nazi thing?

Kieron should have started a campaign to get Daphne & Celeste to reform…

Slash never gets older. He’s like Cousin It; there’s too much hair to determine even an approximate age.

Scott Weiland is shirtless. We wanted Jake topless! Not you!

DJ in Philly: “Put your hands in the air for Michael Jackson!” Response: Silence.

John McEnroe on stage! Put us out of our misery, John!

Hyde Park Must Die For Halifax Dropping.

Sting on next. There is no way this is going to end by ten. Especially since we’ve got Pink Floyd AND The Who still to come.

The background video effects are very Peter Saville-y tonight, aren’t they?

Sting is worryingly becoming a Jeffery Archer lookalike. But thank goodness that the Spitting Image puppets rumour seems to have been just a gag (the world leaders during Every Breath You Take are on video screens instead)

He’s the M-A DOUBLE R! Andrew Marr! Talking sense.

Mariah Carey, going back to her first album, of all things for tonight. Meanwhile, in Philly, Sarah McLachlan is bringing everybody down. CHOIR ALERT BACK IN LONDON! Mariah is also looking quite uncomfortable in those shoes. Oh dear. Oh dear. Embarrassing Mariah speech about THE CHILDREN. Watch those notes, Mariah!

John McEnroe is STREET.

David Beckham has THE FEAR in his eyes. And now, Robin Williams. With Queen. Oh how we laughed. If he was going to do a cover, then why not “Could It Be Magic”, eh? (And notice how he’s not actually singing half of his songs?). I’m conflicted over Robbie; I want to like him, but his performances make it very hard (plus, the whole swing era made me want to beat him to death with a microphone stand). And attempting to be 1984’s Bono doesn’t win any points either. But at least he mentioned Midge Ure!

Oh dear. Peter Kay is walking. Just. And now for an a cappella version of Amarillo. And no, we don’t want to see the Hairy-Toed She-Beast interviewing George Michael.

And now, the MOR part of the evening! The Who look better preserved than The Roling Stones, but, ah, they’re showing their age a little (but still, who’s hoping for a CSI medley?).Won’t Get Fooled Again isn’t bad, though. Time for a quick drink during the instrumental, Pete!

The Cure are on in Paris. Boy, Robert Smith has filled out a little!

And now! Appropriately in the dark! It’s Da Floyd! With The Scissor Sisters! (a-ha!) Pig sighting! And we still have a Beatle to go, remember! Okay, I promise to refrain from using exclamation marks for about ten minutes. Not too much to say really; I can’t claim to being a big Pink Floyd fan. But they’re not doing anything wrong here. Aho, I have heard Wish You Were Here though, and that was quite good. BIG HUG AT THE END!

Only Sir Paul to go now - looks like they’re going to overstep their licence by two hours, although I doubt that Westminster Council will complain too much. Sucks if you had to make the last train!

And here he is - I take it that he’s not playing the Spector arrangements tonight, though? First special guest is George Michael on Baby, You Can Drive My Car. Well, I would tell you more, but it’s been switched over to Stevie Wonder. Apparently though, I missed him stealing Helter Skelter back from Bono. Anyway, back to The Long And Winding Road, always one of the lesser Beatles songs (and not improved by Paul junking Phil’s work, either). And hey! Hey Jude singalong! (just the end though, which is a bit of a cop-out)

(who knows what Paul whispered into Mariah’s ear. And Jake is gazing longingly at Fran Healy (Woo!))

Something of a damp squib ending, I thought. But don’t worry! Here come the Kaiser Chiefs! (secretly ironic, of course)

Just mopping up now. Best bits of the day? Probably R.E.M., Will Smith, and Snoop Dogg enlivening tea-times all over Britain. And that they didn’t show a new soundtracked video of Africa like ITN said they were. Hurrah!