CMU Daily - on the inside Monday 14th February

yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- It’s Ray Charles’ night at the Grammys
- Led Zeppelin get lifetime achievement Grammy
- Artists line up to pay tribute to Wilson
- Is Stone urban enough to be Best Urban?
- Love let off jail, but gets three years probation
- Janet sued over bodyguard allegations
- Single Review: Aberfeldy - Love Is An Arrow
- T In The Park line up
- Oxegen line up
- Scissor Sisters on their limited appeal in America
- Another tsunami aid single in the pipeline
- American Recordings back with Warners
- Wu Tang Clan record ODB tribute
- Chart update
- Elvis recording on sale on eBay
- Distillers drummer confirms he is quitting the band
- Seattle firm launch legit mobile P2P
- Apple double up shares
- Album Review: Engineers - Engineers
- MWC showcase highlights
- Breakspoll gets closer
- Encompass line up
- Aguilera announces engagement
- Jessica and Nick just fine - OK?
- Britney and Kevin just fine - OK?

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IT’S RAY CHARLES’ NIGHT AT THE GRAMMYS
While Kanye West led the nominations race for this year’s Grammy awards appearing on no less than ten shortlists, on the night it was the late great Ray Charles who dominated, winning awards for Gospel Performance, Pop Collaboration, Pop Vocal Album, Album and Record of the year, all relating to his final work, the ‘Genius Loves Company’ duets album. Collecting the gong for Best Album Charles’ longtime manager Joe Adams told the Grammys audience: "I'm going to thank all of you people on behalf of Ray Charles, who is with us. I'll simply say it again: Humbly we accept this wonderful, wonderful award. And we offer a humongous thanks to you individually and collectively from the bottom of our hearts. Very sincerely. We love you madly. Passionately. And continuously."

Keeping in with the theme that the night belonged to Charles, Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx, the latter having picked up the BAFTA for Best Actor for his portrayal of Charles in the movie ‘Ray’ on Saturday night, took part in a musical tribute to the man performing his signature hit ‘Georgia On My Mind’. Later in the evening Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston also performed a musical tribute to Charles.

Alicia Keys herself had a good evening winning four awards - she got Best R&B Song for ‘You Don't Know My Name’, Best R&B Album for ‘The Diary of Alicia Keys’, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for ‘If I Ain't Got You’ and Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo for her duet with Usher, ‘My Boo’.

Usher too was a multiple winner - also winning awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his track with Lil Jon & Ludacris - ‘Yeah!’.
Other multiple winners included U2, Norah Jones and Kanye West, all of whom took home three awards each. The latter, however, did not win the prestigious Best New Artist prize, as many expected him too. That award went to Maroon 5.

Elsewhere, Britney picked up her first ever Grammy for ‘Toxic’, which was named Best Dance Recording. Other established acts getting their first Grammy recognition included Rod Stewart, who picked up Best Traditional Pop Album for ‘Stardust... The Great American Songbook: Volume III’, and Brian Wilson who got the award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for ‘SMiLE’ track ‘Mrs. O'Leary's Cow’.

Not a huge night for British music. Aside from Stewart, Brit Grammy winners were Annie Lennox for her track from the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, good old Motorhead who got Best Metal Performance and Basement Jaxx, who proved that British dance music is still big on the global stage by taking Best Electronic / Dance Album. Other UK nominees like Elvis Costello, Joss Stone and Franz Ferdinand all left empty handed.

As you’ll remember, there’s about 3917 categories at the Grammys (including a Spoken Word Award, won by two-time Grammy winner Bill Clinton for the audio version of his autobiography ‘My Life’). The full list, should you want it, is at http://www.grammys.com/awards/grammy/47winners.aspx

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LED ZEPPELIN GET LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT GRAMMY
The Brits were represented, however, in the Grammy’s lifetime achievement awards, with Led Zeppelin appearing alongside Janis Joplin and Jerry Lee Lewis on the list of ten acts that the US Recording Academy reckon "changed the face of rock music".

The Zepp celebrated that award at an party in LA on Saturday night. Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and the children of late drummer John Bonham were all on hand to pick up the award itself, while Robert Plant, currently rehearsing for an upcoming tour, sent in a video message.

Bonham’s daughter Zoe, who was only five when her father died in 1980, said: "It's totally overwhelming. The whole crazy thing about it is that it's a lifetime achievement award, and he's not here. The legend lives on."

Joking about his bandmate’s video message, Page added: "It wouldn't have taken much just to pop over here and meet everybody, would it really?"

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ARTISTS LINE UP TO PAY TRIBUTE TO WILSON
Talking of Grammy related tribute events, the great and good lined up to pay tribute to Brian Wilson on Friday night at the pre-Grammys MusiCares dinner in Hollywood. The fundraising event, which raises money for musicians in need, this year chose to celebrate the work of the former Beach Boy following his comeback with the long awaited release of ‘SMiLE’ last year.

Although the other surviving Beach Boys were notable by their absence, Neil Young, Jeff Back, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Backstreet Boys, the Barenaked Ladies, Earth, Wind & Fire, John Legend and Jamie Cullum were among the artists who joined the tribute event by performing one of Wilson’s songs.

The Chili Peppers kicked off the event with a rendition of ‘I Get Around’, while the Backstreet Boys performed ‘When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)’ and Earth, Wind & Fire sang ‘Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)’. Young dedicated ‘In My Room’ to both Wilson and his late brothers Dennis and Carl. Meanwhile Cullum and Back received standing ovations for their performances of ‘Sail On Sailor’ and ‘Surfin USA’ respectively.

The evening ended with Wilson performing a number of tracks, including ‘Love And Mercy’, ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘Good Vibrations’.

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IS STONE URBAN ENOUGH TO BE BEST URBAN?
Staying with awards, but back to the Brits, and a debate has been rumbling since last week’s Earls Court bash over whether or not Ms. Joss Stone - a white girl from Devon - was truly worthy of the title of Best Urban Act. Some music biz insiders reckon the award should have gone to either Jamelia or Dizzee Rascal, both of whom left the Brits empty handed and, some would argue, better fit the definition of ‘urban music’.

However, a quick random survey of media types by the BBC found general support for Ms Stone and her Best Urban victory. Chris Blenkarn, Deputy Editor at Touch magazine told the Beeb: "She [Stone] makes soul music and that definitely comes under the category of what we describe as 'urban'. The fact that she's from Devon is the interesting thing because most of the music we cover is made in large cities and she's literally rural."

Jordan Kensington of the Urban Music Awards said that Stone’s win could be good for showing that in a multi-cultural Britain no one music genre is ‘owned’ by any one ethnic group: "If Joss Stone can be accepted within the urban music community, I think acts from other ethnicities doing classical music and rock should be accepted too."

Mark Sadler, Head Of Music Programming at MTV Networks - whose MTV Base viewers ultimately voted for the Best Urban award at the Brits - said: "Joss Stone is a soul artist. Her first album was called ‘The Soul Sessions’. So urban is a very broad brushstroke that is the umbrella over the top of sub-genres, and there are offshoots of all of those."

Mercury-nominated Ty however wasn’t so convinced. Pointing out that the ‘urban’ tag is kinda made up anyway, he told the BBC: "If Joss Stone is the closest thing that they feel comfortable championing because of what she looks like and how she sounds and who she's signed to, then so be it. It's got nothing to do with what's really going on."

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LOVE LET OFF JAIL, BUT GETS THREE YEARS PROBATION
Back to the pop courts, and the Courtney Love legal saga is at an end for the time being as her two pending court cases reached their conclusion at two back-to-back hearings in LA.

Having pleaded guilty over that disorderly conduct charge in New York last year, the charges on the table this time were assault (reduced from an ‘assault with a deadly weapon’ charge relating to the time Love attacked a woman with a whisky bottle at her boyfriend’s house) and illegal possession of the drug oxycodone and of a forged prescription (relating to that time she was found behaving erratically outside an ex-boyfriend’s home).

Love pleaded no-contest and guilty to the two charges respectively, but her lawyer told the court that the singer had "turned her life around" since the two incidents adding that she was now "clean and sober".

Because of those pleas the judge decided to forego any prison sentence, instead putting Love on three years probation, with a compulsory one year course of anger management and drugs rehab, plus 100 hours community service and a $1000 fine.

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JANET SUED OVER BODYGUARD ALLEGATIONS
Staying in the pop courts, and a 39 year old man from the Bronx has filed a lawsuit against Janet Jackson - but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those mad Nipplegate lawsuits (do you know one TV viewer reportedly complained to the FCC after this year’s Superbowl about still being shocked by last year’s half time show?).

According to the New York Daily News, in the new lawsuit the claimant alleges that he suffered "pain, injury and permanent damage" at the hands of one of Janet’s security guards. Leonard Salati claims the incident took place at a Manhattan night club last week. Salati’s cousin was acquainted with Jackson from back in her Fame days, and through that connection he was invited to the party by Jackson’s people. He alleges that when he tried to rejoin the group after leaving for a short time Jackson’s security guards ‘tasered’ him, locked him in a choke hold and then dragged him down the stairs.

Janet’s people are yet to comment.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Aberfeldy - Love Is An Arrow (Rough Trade)
Charming, adorable, cute beyond words - all these are terms which could quite rightly be used to describe ‘Love Is An Arrow’ - a Valentines Day release by Aberfeldy, a Rough Trade signing who make label-mates Belle and Sebastian sound like Slayer. The most recent single from critically acclaimed and pretty damn lovely debut album ‘Young Forever’, this is one of those tunes that is hopelessly, unrelentingly twee. And it shimmers too - like heat on a Summers Day. Certainly not the kind of thing to play to bitter old spinsters who are spending this Valentines Day on their own, wondering why nobody loves them and praying to the great God of relationships that they won’t be left to die on their own, then to be eaten by their 23 cats. One for the couples. Pass the Slayer please. CMD
Release date: 14 Feb
Press contact: Wild [CP, CR] In House [RP, NP] Anglo [RR, NR]

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T IN THE PARK LINE UP
T in the Park have announced details of their 2005 line up, and it’s looking rather good. Green Day and The Foo Fighters will headline, with The Killers, Ian Brown, Kasabian, Prodigy, Audioslave, Embrace, Keane, Razorlight, Biffy Clyro, The Streets, Beautiful South and The Coral also on the bill.

Announcing this year’s line up, T in the Park man Geoff Ellis told CMU: “It’s fantastic to welcome back Green Day to the event - this time in a headline slot. Anyone who saw them live last night at the SECC will tell you that they are one of the hottest and most compelling live acts around today. In addition, we have already secured some of the biggest and best acts of the moment, including 2005 Brit award winners Keane and The Streets, with many more to be announced over the coming months. The incredible success of the last two years of T in the Park has really placed the event as one of the best in the world. The line-up, the organisation and the beautiful surroundings enable us to compete with other festivals internationally, but it is the enthusiasm and passion of the T in the Park audience that sets it apart from all of the rest, and helps us to organise an event that Scotland can really be proud of. We look forward to seeing you all in July!”

T in the Park takes place on 9 and 10 Jul at Balado by Kinross. Press info from Material on 0141 204 7979.

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OXEGEN LINE UP
Line up news from Ireland’s Oxegen Festival too - which also takes place over the 9 - 10 Jul weekend and traditionally shares chunks of its line up with T in the Park. They have added The Streets and Kasabian to their bill which already included Foo Fighters, Prodigy, Ian Brown and The Killers. As always, the Oxegen Festival takes place at Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Co Kildare.

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SCISSOR SISTERS ON THEIR LIMITED APPEAL IN AMERICA
Bearing in mind that half of middle America turned out in their droves to vote for Bush not because of the incumbent’s foreign or economic policies, but because they believed the Republican Party would be tough on gays, and tough on the causes of gays, it is perhaps no surprise that three time Brit winners Scissor Sisters are not enjoying the success at home that they have had over here (1.6 million copies of debut album sold in the UK, 150,000 in America!).

Having received hate mail after the band’s appearance on US TV show Saturday Night Live, the band’s Jake Shears has been talking to the Sydney Morning Herald about the problems Americans often have with openly gay performers: "People in the UK, more so than in the United States, realise that music transcends sexuality. I think people in America think that we've got an agenda or something up our sleeve. Y'know, people suspect that you're not honest about what you're doing. That's just not the case. I think people in the UK and, from what I know, in Australia understand that we are coming from a really honest place."

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ANOTHER TSUNAMI AID SINGLE IN THE PIPELINE
Another charity single for the post-tsunami relief fund is in the making. The project is being led by Sharon Stone and songwriter Denise Rich and the song in question is called ‘Come Together Now’. Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Wyclef Jean, Peter Gabriel, Patti LaBelle and Lionel Richie are among the artists reportedly involved.

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AMERICAN RECORDINGS BACK WITH WARNERS
Producer Rick Rubin has reportedly inked a deal with Warner Music which will see his label American Recordings (which counts Slayer, System Of A Down, The International Noise Conspiracy and the late Johnny Cahs on its roster) moving back into the Warners fold. American began life as a joint venture with the Warner group - but has since had relationships with Sony and more recently Universal’s Island Def Jam. The new deal, reported in the New York Post last week, will see Rubin working again with Lyor Cohen who originally crafted the Universal / American deal when he was running Island Def Jam.

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WU TANG CLAN RECORD ODB TRIBUTE
More from the world of Wu-Tang - and RZA has confirmed that the Clan has regrouped to record a tribute to the late Ol Dirty Bastard who died, of course, last Nov. In that interview with Billboard we reported on last week, RZA says the new track, believed to be called ‘I Go Through Life’, will most likely appear on the final ODB album, which is likely to be released posthumously on the new joint venture label between the Wu Tang Clan and Damon Dash’s new music company.

Obviously getting all Clan members together at one time would have been more or less impossible, so most members have been adding their bits individually. All but Ghostface Killah have now recorded their bits. RZA told Billboard: "Method Man was the first guy to do his verse. Raekwon and GZA did their verses pronto. I had to take some time with U-God. Cappadonna is on it also. All I need is my Ghostface verse and it will be one of the first recordings in three or four years with every member again."

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CHART UPDATE
Well, where were those potential Keane fans when they needed those crucial last minute sales to maintain their hold to the title of Best Selling Album of 2004 title?

Obviously they were too busy buying Scissor Sister albums. Well, presumably aided by their Brits wins, Keane are back at the top of the albums chart this week, with the Scissor Sisters just behind at number two, pushing Athlete’s new album back to 3. No new entries at all on the album chart this week - instead a plethora of re-entries from last year, presumably a combination of Brits exposure and some cut-price bargain bin promotions running in some of the major record stores.

Singles wise, and it was very close this week, but in the end U2 managed to keep Elvis away from the top for another week with their new single 'Sometime You Can't Make It On Your Own'. Eminem was pushed back to 3, followed by Destiny’s Child with a new entry at 4. Other new entries this week come from Doves at 6, Raghav at 7, Noise Next Door at 11, Daniel Bedingfield at 12, The Kills at 23, The Duke Spirit at 25 and The Beautiful South at 36.

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ELVIS RECORDING ON SALE ON EBAY
Talking of Elvis, and what is alleged to be the last remaining unreleased / unpublished Elvis track is up for auction on eBay with a minimum $10,000 bid. The successful bidder will get a “controlling interest in the Elvis Presley-Terry King Copyright PAu-1-810- 413 as recorded in the United States register of copyright and patents office”, which is for the song ‘If I'd Only Bought Her Roses’. By ‘controlling interest’ they mean 50% - the other half is owned by New York based media mogul Robert FX Sillerman.

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DISTILLERS DRUMMER CONFIRMS HE IS QUITTING THE BAND
The Distiller’s drummer Andy Granelli has confirmed he has left the band. In a statement he said there was no conflict between him and the rest of the band, rather he was quitting so he can drum with another band called Darker My Love, which he helped to get off the ground with friend Tim Presley. The statement runs thus: "This has been very hard for me, and I am going to miss Brody and Tony and Ryan very much. None of this comes from any ill will. The four of us are still close friends. I am stepping down so that I can return to my friend Tim Presley, to continue playing with him. I started Darker My Love with Tim during [his former band] The Nerve Agents as an outlet for us to play exactly what we wanted to without compromise. So, I feel now it is my time to go back to that."

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SEATTLE FIRM LAUNCH LEGIT MOBILE P2P
A Seattle based company has announced details of a new mobile phone based peer-to-peer network they are developing that they reckon could be the next big thing in the digital music space. The new technology allows music fans to transfer music tracks from their phones to those of their friends via Bluetooth - bypassing the network bandwidth issues that some reckon will hinder the growth of mobile music downloads.

The system developed by Melodeo is a legitimate P2P - users will transfer a thirty second preview file to their friend’s phones which that friend can then choose to upgrade to a full track by paying a small sum of money via their phone. The company hope that the system will win the support of the music industry by providing a legitimate P2P solution before any illegal mobile file sharing networks have a chance to materialise.

The company’s VP, Don Davidge, told reporters last week: "We expect that as the service grows it will not only be a significant source of revenue for artists, publishers and labels, but will also bring music to new audiences. Ultimately, we anticipate that sending a song will soon be as common as sending a text message or making a call."

Whether a Kazaa-style P2P file sharing system that bypasses the record labels could be developed for mobiles remains to be seen. The mobile companies, as yet, have tended to control their customer’s access to the world wide web much more than an internet service provider does to those accessing the net via their PC. However, as the phone firms try to push up the usage of the mobile internet they are likely to relax the way you access the net via your phone. Some argue the ISPs turned a blind eye to illegal music sharing online because P2P networks provided an incentive for people to invest in broadband internet connections. It will be interesting to see if the mobile companies do the same.

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APPLE DOUBLE UP SHARES
Apple has announced a two-for-one split on its common stock bringing the company’s total shares to 1.8 billion. Each shareholder will this week receive an additional share for every outstanding share held. No idea what that means, but consider yourselves in the loop.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Engineers - Engineers (Echo)
On this follow up to their excellent mini album ‘Folly’, Engineers continue to prove themselves adroit sound fetishists as much as gifted songsmiths. Commencing with the sweeping, grandiose ‘Home’, ‘Engineers’ soon recalls the dreamy ambience of Air’s ‘Moon Safari’ (on ‘Waved On’ and ‘New Horizons’ particularly) plus the epic trip-hop grandeur of No-Man's ‘Wild Opera’ album at times. There are also nods to early 70s Floyd, folk, psychedelia, Massive Attack, Talk Talk, The Verve and 90s shoegazing (think Slowdive, ‘Going Blank Again’-era Ride, or, on ‘Said And Done’, a cleansed and purified snow-white My Bloody Valentine), all of which makes it all the more impressive that Engineers ultimately manage to sound like no-one but themselves. Vocals are delicately blissed-out without ever sounding twee or soporifically drugged up, whilst the music just ebbs and flows to gorgeous effect, never appearing garishly overblown despite the breathtaking vistas of sound. This is music that could only have come from the North of England (The Open might’ve ended up sounding like Engineers if they stayed in and got stoned more, warming their guitars up in blankets by the fire) and, as such, Engineers are rightful heirs to kindred Mancunian spirits like Doves and Elbow. Time to pray at the new sonic cathedral of sound. MS
Release date: 7 Mar
Press contact: Coalition [CP, RP, NP] Echo IH [CR, RR, NR]

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MWC SHOWCASE HIGHLIGHTS
With the Miami Winter Conference getting closer now (it takes place 22 to 26 Mar) details now of some of the showcases being planned.

First up, Robbie Rivera’s Juicy Party will precede the Conference by one day - taking place at Amika on Miami Beach from 11pm to 5am on 21 Mar. Admission is $15, free for WMC badge holders - Tom Stephan is among the DJs on the bill. More at http://www.amikamiami.com

Fatboy Slim, Yousef, Frankie Knuckles, Timo Maas, Xpress 2, Layo & Bushwacka, David Guetta, Medicine 8, Mutiny, Radio Slave and Mr C will all be on the decks at the Circus Miami all-nighter on 23 Mar - more at http://www.circusclub.co.uk

And Pacha will be hosting a night at the Opium Gardens on 25 Mar featuring Bob Sinclair, Wally Lopez, Bodyrockers (live), Francesco Farfa, Sarah Main, Jaun Diaz, Kiko Navarro, Willie Graff, Andy B, Luis Lopez, and Aldrin and DJ C from Zouk. More at http://www.pacha.com

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BREAKSPOLL GETS CLOSER
Talking of dance music events getting closer, this year’s Breakspoll takes place later this month and voting for the annual breakbeat gong fest has now closed.

The awards will be presented at Fabric on 24 Feb at a night that will feature no less than the Plump DJs vs Stanton Warriors, Rennie Pilgrem & BLIM (ft MC Chickaboo), Freestylers vs Deekline, Krafty Kuts vs Atomic Hooligan, Meat Katie vs Elite Force, DJ Hyper vs Danny Mcmillan, Soul of Man vs Lee Coombs, Evil 9 (live), Atomic Hooligan (live), Si Begg vs Kosmikneil, Will Saul vs Ali B, Jay Cunning vs Smithmonger, Splitloop (live), Santos vs Madox, NAPT & The Breakfastaz (ft MC Ken Mac), Son of the Electric Ghost (live), Kraymon (Dex n FX), Lawgiverz (live), Influenza (Dex n FX), LBJ (live), and Steelzawheelz vs Western allstars - phew. Tickets are a tenner from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/ ?region=uk&query=detail&event=116286

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Breakspoll people are staging an after-show the next night at the Egg. Running from 10pm to 5am this one features Radioactive Man, Splitloop and Son Of The Electric Ghost all live, plus on the decks Remix Favourites Evil9, Atomic Hooligan vs Jay Cunning, Danny Mcmillan, Phantom Beats (Drums & Dex Set), Hexadecimal (Spectrum / Heavy Disco), Pete Jordan (Spectrum), Steelzawheelz vs Western Allstars (West Records), Electrosluts (Fuse), Mike Hogan (Breakspoll), J-Me (Vestax / Allstars), Dirty Habit (Mofo / Liability), Steelo (Chew The Fat!), Pete Samplers (Unstable / Downbeat) and Sanders (Breakfish). Tickets are ten quid a piece from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk, Vinyl Addiction, Know How Records, Silverback and eukatech.

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ENCOMPASS LINE UP
Staying with cool dancey events in London - Encompass - that new London-based music festival that will take over the Old Truman Brewery and surrounding clubs on the May Day weekend have announced more details about its programme. As previously reported, this event will include bands, DJs, panel debates, workshops, audio-visual displays and lots lots more, this is an all encompassing celebration of cutting edge music (which is presumably where the name comes from).

Artists confirmed so far include: Goldie, Speedy J, Hacker live, 20:20Soundsystem, Billy Nasty, Vitalic , Platnum, Cristian Vogel, Stendec, Dub Kult, Ralph Lawson, Jose Gonzales, Cathode, Richard Davis, Loxy, Agoria, Dorian Paic , T.Raumschmiere, Sons of Slough, Social Security, Mr Velcro Fastener, Dylan Rhymes, Badmarsh, Dub Taylor, Junkyard Production, The Electric Press Boogie Corporation, Maximilian Hecker, Tristan Da Cunha, Klute, Orson, Benny Sings, Terry Toner, Pellarin, Total Science, Andy Whittaker, Efterklang, Elite Force, Lontano, Aktarv8r, Jay Haze, Kitty Yo DJs, MC Moose, Vicknoise, Micatone, Nobody Beats The Drum, Tunng, Undo, Raconteur and Herr Arter.

Labels on board include: K7!, Lex, Kitty Yo, Kingsize, Sonar Kollektiv/Warm, Static Caravan, Electrix, Leaf, Platform, Peacefrog, Metalheadz, Diesel U Music, Novamute, Different, Electronation, 20:20 Vision, Prototype/Grace, Supercharged, Factor City, Nasha and Samurai FM.

It all runs over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend from 29 Apr to 1 May. Industry tickets, including access to a number of industry only events and spaces, are £60 a day or £150 for the whole thing. Punter tickets are £95 for the whole three days or £35 for a day.

More info on it all at http://www.encompass-london.com - press info from ePM.

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AGUILERA ANNOUNCES ENGAGEMENT
Gossip time - and with a Valentine flavour too!

First up, Christina Aguilera has announced she will marry music executive Jordan Bratman, which is just as well given we started reporting on rumours of an engagement last Mar.

Aguilera’s agent confirmed the engagement to reporters over the weekend, but added: "No wedding plans have been set yet”.

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JESSICA AND NICK JUST FINE - OK?
On the other side of marriage, Nick Lachey has been hitting back at accusations he has been cheating on wife Jessica Simpson. Rumours about Lachey were circulating in the US press last week, firstly relating to allegations the 98 Degrees singer asked a bodyguard to approach a girl in his audience on his behalf, and secondly after he had lunch with an ex-girlfriend.

Backing up her husband’s denial of anything untoward, Simpson told reporters this weekend: "We are committed to our relationship. There are always people who want you to fail. But we can handle anything that comes along. I've always been judged from a young age. I just can't take anything head on."

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BRITNEY AND KEVIN JUST FINE - OK?
And finally for Valentines day, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline have been busy denying rumours of a rift, telling reporters: "We're going to be together for ever. We know that, and that's the only thing that matters."

Federline, meanwhile, has told Details magazine: "I could be sitting at home doing nothing. I could be playing video games. Britney's more proud of me than anyone has ever, ever, ever been in my lifetime."

All of which is just as well, because any rift between the couple wouldn’t help with the marketing of the clothes line the duo are planning. Federline has revealed that they might call their fashion brand Pair Of Dice in recognition of the fact the couple have matching dice tattoos - which is just swell. Just in case there was any confusion, Federline also told reporters: "I'm going to design the men's and she'll design the women's."

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