The Riff - January 2008

Tuesday's Snoozy Music News Day

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 2:36 PM EST

News Jan 15

  • Surprising no-one, record label EMI announced that it would cut up to 2,000 jobs in an attempt to cut costs. Trouble with EMI's roster of artists continues to foment: Coldplay and Robbie Williams may leave the label, and The Verve may be "withholding" their next album "until they receive assurances about marketing and the company's financial health." Well how about Richard Ashcroft give us assurances he's going to eat something?
  • Bjork Attacks, Part Deux: Apparently the Icelandic singer had just arrived at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand, and went after a photographer when he ignored her request to stop taking pictures. As the photographer put it, "she grabbed the back of my black skivvy and tore it down the back. As she did this, she fell over." The best part of this story is "skivvy": most stories are saying "T-shirt" but the New York Times insists "sweatshirt." I say: female domestic servant.
  • Ever wonder how 50 Cent and Timbaland got so buff? No? Me neither, but now they've actually been named as part of an Albany, New York-based steroid investigation. The report indicates the musicians, along with Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige, received performance-enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in Orlando. Well, jeez: those microphones are heavy.
  • Barack Obama gets two, ahem, "important" endorsements from the world of rock music: Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, who says he's been an Obama supporter "from day one," and Win Butler of the Arcade Fire who says Obama is "the first candidate in my lifetime to strip some of this bullshit away." Wait, aren't you from Canada?

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If a Golden Globe Falls in the Forest and Nobody's There to Watch It...

| Mon Jan. 14, 2008 1:21 PM EST

mojo-photo-goldenglobes.JPG…Are they more likely to give them to deserving shows? Answer: kind of. Honestly, I'm being a bad journalist here since I didn't actually see any televised reading of the winners; apparently Nancy O'Dell and Billy Bush chuckled their way through a list of winners on NBC and the E! network featured a half-hour reading at some point. When I was flipping through the channels last night, my Comcast program guide showed a "Golden Globes Pre-Show" leading directly into a "Golden Globes Aftershow," giving the impression that the event had been compressed into a single point like a black hole. And when Time Magazine headlines their article: "The Golden Globes – Who Cares?" you know things are bad.

Friday's Sly Music News Day

| Fri Jan. 11, 2008 3:35 PM EST

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  • Okay, I knew that pneumonia story was suspicious. It turns out Eminem wasn't just in the hospital for a cough. The rapper has apparently ballooned into a "fat Elvis," this according to his mom, who's quoted in a gossip blog saying the 5 foot 7 rapper now weighs over 200 pounds and was hospitalized for possible heart problems as well as the pneumonia. Apparently the rapper is "depressed." But it feels so empty without you!

  • Following in the wake of Radiohead's post-EMI success, both Coldplay and Robbie Williams are reportedly considering leaving the label as well. Well if you have a "pay what you want" internet site, please do it in dollars so I don't screw it up again. Oh wait, I don't buy music from either of you.
  • Soulja Boy has set a digital sales record. His irrepressible hit "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)," whose eponymous subtitle confuses and infuriates me, has become the first track to sell 3 million downloads. The music videos have been viewed over 50 million times on YouTube. Soulja Boy responded to the news by saying, "Yuuuuaaaa!!" Seriously.
  • This year's Coachella music festival near Palm Springs is set for the weekend of April 25-27, and now Idolator has what they call the "first fake line-up" for this year's festival, although Stereogum posted one back in November. Nothing, however, beats the one you can see after the jump:
  • Writers' Strike to Cancel Grammys?

    | Thu Jan. 10, 2008 6:28 PM EST

    mojo-photo-grohlgrammys.JPGHow will we know if Carrie Underwood has made the song of the year? Variety's Set List blog is speculating that if the writers' strike is still in effect on the planned Grammys ceremony date of February 10th, the list of musicians who might show up will be missing some big names:

    People Actually Buying In Rainbows

    | Thu Jan. 10, 2008 3:02 PM EST

    mojo-photo-inrainbowscover5.JPGHey, so there was this band, they put an album out on the intertubes? You might remember it: they'd send you the album through the tubes, and then you'd take the album out of the little truck and put in as much money as you wanted and send it back to them through the return tube. It was a lot of fun. But that was months ago. So, nine days ago, Radiohead's In Rainbows materialized in actual stores on actual CDs (and vinyl!) and there was some question over how it would sell, seeing as how the kids have had unfettered access to 160kbps mp3s for a while. Turns out they needn't have worried: In Rainbows landed at #1 on the Billboard album charts in the US, achieving the same feat in the UK.

    However, like most pieces of news from the music industry these days, this is mostly just a sign of how bad things have become.

    Bored With Rock and Roll? How About Shock and Roll? Now You Can Taser With a Beat

    | Wed Jan. 9, 2008 3:40 PM EST

    leopard%20taser.jpg

    Ever feel like shocking people just ain't what it used to be? Like your self-defense experience is a little bit...boring? TASER International, whose 50,000 volt "electronic control technology" has helped redefine "trigger-happy," knows what you're missing: a new leopard-print stun gun, and an mp3-equipped holster to put it in.

    Yes, for just a shade more than $450, you can own not just a weapon, but a personal protection experience. So says TASER head Rick Smith. "Personal protection can be both fashionable and functionable," Smith elaborated in a press release announcing the company's plans to "unleash" the new weapon and holster. Weapon, you say? Thought TASERs were nonlethal? Well, they are—as long as you don't suffer from over-exhaustion, a heart condition, a back condition, or "excited delirium," and avoid the perils of "Sudden In-Custody Death Syndrome," which according to TASER "results from a complex set of physiological and psychological conditions characterized by irrational behavior, extreme exertion, and potentially fatal changes in blood chemistry." Symptoms include "extreme agitation" and "sweating profusely."

    The company claims that these conditions, and not the device itself, account for the more than 150 recorded deaths of people who were for the most part perfectly healthy before receiving (often repeated) shocks from the device. But whatever: Seizures are such a buzzkill. Ditch those squares, rock on to your own soundtrack, and don't forget: shoot early and often. Ain't no party like a TASER party.

    —Casey Miner

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    Watching the Primary: Stone Temple Romney?

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 8:35 PM EST

    mojo-photo-str.jpgCNN just went live to Romney headquarters in New Hampshire where everybody is looking pretty morose since McCain has just been projected as the winner. But to keep everybody feeling good, they've got some entertainment on stage: a guy playing acoustic guitar, singing a little tune for the assembled Romney supporters. What's he singing? Hey, it's Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush"! Could there perhaps be a somewhat ironic couplet in that tune as regards the Romney campaign?

    Where ya going for tomorrow?
    Where ya going with that mask I found?

    The "mask" thing is a bit of a stretch, maybe you can think of it in terms of a flip-floppy, "who's-the-real-Romney" kind of thing? Anyway, one wonders what the audience thought of the next few lines:

    And I feel, and I feel
    When the dogs begin to smell her
    Will she smell alone?

    Video for the original song after the jump, for no reason.

    Stewart and Colbert Return Without the Prompter

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 4:59 PM EST

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    As the writers' strike continues, Comedy Central stalwarts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's returns to the screen without their scribes last night were highly anticipated. Would they be able to talk, or would they just stare wide-eyed at the screen and stammer helplessly for 30 minutes? Well, both shows were entertaining (if slightly off) and definitely strike-focused, which in the current moment of political frenzy seemed kind of weird.

    Tuesday's Bemusing Music News Day

    | Tue Jan. 8, 2008 3:56 PM EST

    News

  • The Kinks' Dave Davies is denying rumors that the band may reunite; his brother and ex-bandmate Ray had told the press that the band members were considering "getting back together." Dave told NME that he and Ray "haven't even spoken in over 6 months… a tour hasn't even been discussed." Dave suffered a stroke four years ago but has continued a solo career.

  • Rappers Lupe Fiasco and Rhymefest are exchanging a war of words over support for Barack Obama, and of course it's all on their MySpace blogs. Fiasco told hip-hop news site SOHH.com that Obama "doesn't impress me" because of "his agendas the bombing of Iran and all that stuff." When confronted by Fest, Fiasco expressed cynicism about the democratic process: "I have no faith in it."
  • The former Jamaica Broadcasting Corp seems to have lost a "massive collection" of 1970s music, including original recordings by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh as well as videos of historic concerts and events. The archive was apparently stolen, with a former program manager for the JBC calling the theft a "national disgrace."
  • Eminem was in the hospital over the holidays due to complications from pneumonia. Huh?
  • Michael Stipe Murmurs He's Charmed By Huckabee

    | Mon Jan. 7, 2008 3:39 PM EST

    mojo-photo-remhuck.jpgYeah, I know, that was the best R.E.M. album-title pun I could come up with, it's Monday. Lead singer Michael Stipe, known lately for painting weird crap on his face as well as, uh, being gay "queer," has told a Sirius radio station that he finds rapidly fading presidential candidate Mike Huckabee "charming" and "funny":

    "I can't think of probably a single issue in which I am even remotely in the same universe as that guy ... and yet, he was kind of charming and ... self-deprecating," Stipe told Jane Radio host Jane Pratt, a day after watching Huckabee's Thursday appearance on CBS' "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson." "He was actually kind of a good sport, and funny, and I don't know what that means. Maybe it's a good thing that's he's being lauded right now by the right. He's an evangelical. May God bless all living creatures but my god ... how weird."

    Hey, don't forget that hi-LAR-ious bit he does about how homosexuality isn't as bad as necrophilia, it's just on a continuum with necrophilia. He's a riot. Anyway, Stipe may just be trying to get R.E.M.'s name back in the press (look, it worked!) since the band have a new album coming out April 1st called Accelerate, recorded last year with U2 producer Jacknife Lee.