CMU Daily - on the inside Friday 3rd February
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- Music industry presents divided front at DRM debate
- RAJAR round up
- Smash Hits closing down
- Musicians Union call for miming to be identified
- US consumer sues Apple over iPod hearing risks
- Kylie in 'full remission', says Dannii
- West tops US critics poll
- McCartney confirmed for Grammys
- Stipe and Martin team up for charity
- Radiohead speak about new album
- New Gorillaz single announced
- Spice Girls tour?
- Hard-Fi tour update
- Charlotte tours
- Paul Weller to play intimate gig
- Ordinary Boys instore
- Single review: The Whip - Frustration
- Franz Ferdinand to play Benicassim
- Will Young hates the Brits
- Britney's Will & Grace guest spot
- Pete Burns out of monkey trouble

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TOP BIT>>
So, the pop bible that is Smash Hits is no more. As you've probably already heard (and you certainly will have by the time you've read today's Daily) EMAP have decided to can the legendary pop title, which has been something of a loss leader for a while now (presumably loss leading for the benefit of the more profitable Smash Hits TV and radio outlets). The internet is being primarily blamed for the magazine's demise, with its teen demographic preferring to get their pop news and gossip (and all those song lyrics) for free off the good old internet, spending their pocket money on more intellectually stimulating things like Crazy Frog ring tones. The flooding of the teen mag market in the late nineties can't have helped either - with all those teen targeted celeb and lifestyle magazines inevitably tapping the world of pop for much of their content. And with Smash Hits going increasingly celeb focused in more recent years, it was getting harder to distinguish it from titles with less musical heritage. The magazine's decline is understandable, and EMAP's decision inevitable, but it is still sad to see another much loved music title go to the newsagent in the sky. Still, do you think all those back copies from 1986 to 1991 which I'm pretty sure are still in my parents' garage will increase in value now? That million selling Kylie and Jason copy is probably in there somewhere. Bids to the usual address.

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PRESS ROOM>>

KILL ALL HIPPIES, FEB 2006
Kill All Hippies returns again this Friday, 3 Feb, at the 333 Club in London's Shoreditch, once again presenting a mix of great live bands and great rock DJs. Headlining on the live front will be The Holloways, with support from The Kull. There will be DJ sets from Jeff Automatic and Anthony Vicious (Vicious Pink Goo) downstairs, and Gavin Nugent, Mark Beaumont (NME), Syrinx and Ed Harcourt on the ground floor. All takes place from 9pm to 5am. Tickets, £10, £8 (NUS), or a fiver if you guest list in advance at http://www.leylinepromotions.com.

Press info from Leyline, full press release at:
http://www.cmumusicnetwork.co.uk/pressroom/killallhippies

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CMU FRIDAY TIPS

VIGSY'S CLUB / ART TIP: Art of Noise at De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill-on-Sea
I lived down the road from this venue for a time last year, but I had moved on before its £8 million transformation was complete. It's now a major centre for "contemporary art, architecture, education and entertainment" and tonight hosts "an electronic music and art festival" called Noise Of Art, which should be very interesting. The work of pioneering silent film-makers Mitchell & Kenyon will be set to live contemporary music and DJs sets from rather an impressive line up of people, including Lemon Jelly's Fred Deakin, the awesome electro/techno genius that is Martin Wheeler (Mr Vector Lovers - do check out his releases via Soma Records if you haven't already), Radio 1's Chris Coco, Temposhark, HK119 and Nathan Fake (the latter giving his debut live show). It's hard to know how it will all pan out, but there's a real chance it will prove to be something special. (And for those of you London based - it's less than two hours away on the train).

Fri 3 Feb, 7pm - 1am, £10, De La Warr Pavilion, Marine Parade, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1DP, more info from http://www.dlwp.com or http://www.noiseofart.co.uk/, press info from ben.osborne2@btopenworld.com

CARO'S LIVE TIP: Big Strides at Ronnie Scott's
I saw Big Strides rocking the Barfly in Camden just over a week ago, so the fact that on Sunday they're playing Ronnie Scott's might give something of an indication as to the versatility of this blues/indie/funk/jazz/rock trio. Yes, I do find them impossible to pigeonhole, thanks very much. Anyway, they're rather good, and they're joined by The Voodoo Trombone Quartet and The Pistachios, neither of whom I've seen, but both of whom sound pretty intriguing. Several good reasons there to get booking ahead before it's too late. Doors open 7.30pm, Big Strides on around 10pm.

Sun 5 Feb, 7.30pm, Tickets £10 in advance from http://www.ticketweb.co.uk or call 08700 600 100, Ronnie Scott's, 47 Frith Street, W1D 4HT, band info at http://www.bigstrides.net

CHRIS' CLUB TIP: Kill All Hippies at 333, Shoreditch
Yeah, you knew it, but it's the first Friday of the month, which means more hippies must be killed. Tonight the live bit is headlined by The Holloways, who have been busy supporting (and often overshadowing, we've heard) Mr Doherty's Babyshambles of late, Tonight these North London boys take the headline slot themselves, and will be offering the KAH regulars plenty of energetic-shouty-ska-induced-rock. Live support comes from The Kull, while on the decks will be Jeff Automatic, Anthony Vicious (Vicious Pink Goo), Gavin Nugent, Mark Beaumont (NME), Syrinx and the lovely Ed Harcourt. All in all - as damn good as always.

Fri 3 Feb, 9pm - 5am, £10, £8 (NUS), £5 (if you guest list in advance at http://www.leylinepromotions.com), 333, Old Street, London. Press info from Leyline.

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MUSIC INDUSTRY PRESENTS DIVIDED FRONT AT DRM DEBATE
Professor Ross Anderson of the Federation For Information Policy yesterday observed that there has been "a radical shift" in the music industry's standpoint on DRM. "A year ago they would have been 100 per cent behind it," he said, "now they seem less certain". That change, he suspected, was possibly because the record labels were starting to realise that DRM was giving the Apples of this world a new dominance in the music space.

Actually, I think Anderson's observation was wrong, although his conclusion possibly right. But it would be easy to see why the FFIP man thought there had been a change in the music business' opinion on DRM given the industry's representation to the UK All Party Parliamentary Internet Group's forum on the topic. As previously reported, yesterday's 'oral evidence session' was part of the Group's ongoing investigation into the issues surrounding digital rights management - on the back of that session and some 92 written submissions the Group plans to report its findings to Parliament in March or April.

As expected (round here, anyway), the music business' representation to the session wasn't united. The BPI's Steve Redmond began by saying, simply, "we believe that rights holders should have the right to choose whether or not they protect their content with DRM. This debate often talks about DRM as if it's one thing - and suggests that it's either good or it's bad. But there are many different kinds of DRM - some to combat piracy, some to control or restrict usage. Content owners should be able to choose which kinds of DRM, or not, they use when".

However, Redmond conceded that there is "not a single monolithic record industry view on this - different companies and different people have different viewpoints. But that's fine - there's still much to be debated - legitimate downloading isn't even two years old in the UK yet".

Redmond reckons that differing opinions across the industry are not simply polarised into the 'major label viewpoint' and the 'independent label viewpoint' - and he's probably right, although the independents are generally more anti-DRM, as demonstrated by the representatives of the Association Of Independent Music at yesterday's session.

"We are content owners, and we sell music via non-DRM platforms," Beggars Group's Simon Wheeler said, giving the general indie viewpoint. "That decision hasn't affected our physical sales, in fact they're going up. We believe in customer loyalty, in treating customers well. That works. But the other music companies locking down content are hurting the business as a whole - including our business. A lot of people don't realise there is a wide range of opinions in our industry - what you hear is the loudest voice, but it isn't necessarily representative of opinion".

Which is why I think Professor Anderson's observation was wrong. The music business was equally split on the DRM issue twelve months ago, it's just that the high profile litigation being initiated by the RIAA, IFPI and BPIs of this world dominated the headlines, while the anti-DRM views of the independent sector tended to go ignored.

All that said, most in the independent sector would probably agree with the BPI's fundamental viewpoint on this issue - that content owners should be able to decide for themselves whether or not they use DRM. Indies (like we here at CMU) might think major labels are making a bad commercial decision using restrictive DRMs, but they don't think the government should force anyone to stop using it.

And of course that was the key agenda for the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group - what, if anything, should government be doing about DRM? The answer is probably that regulators should be, if anything, concerning themselves with 'communication'[ and 'accountability'. How exactly, we'll outline in our full report on the session next week.

PS: At the Consumer Electronics Show last month Sony Corp boss Howard Stringer admitted that the decision of SonyBMG execs in the US to buy in that dodgy rootkit copy protection software that caused such uproar last year was having a negative impact on Sony Corp's electronics division who, of course, have their own DRM development teams. I think he's right - pretty much everyone at the APIG session yesterday referred to the dodgy DRM as 'Sony rootkit', as if it had been made by the electronics giant, rather than just bought in by the Corp's record company. Such public perception must be irritating for Sony Electronics chiefs - especially given that rumour had it that it was former BMG execs who sanctioned the use of the rootkit DRM!

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RAJAR ROUND UP
Phew, that was a lot of DRM nonsense. Hey, how about some RAJARs nonsense? As we reported yesterday, the latest round of the slightly made up radio listening figures are out, and it's good news for the Beeb who seem to be benefiting the most from the growth in digital and online radio listening - boosting BBC Radio's over all listening share to 55.1%, which is annoying for advertisers wanting to reach that half of the radio listening public.

Chris Moyles is partly to blame for the Beeb's success - his Radio 1 breakfast show winning 160,000 new listeners in the last quarter, meaning he now has an estimated audience of 6.66 million, a 370,000 increase on 2004. Those increases helped Radio 1's overall performance which, while not quite as good as the previous quarter, was up year on year - giving the nation's favourite a 9.2% audience share, up from 8.2% in 2004. Well done them.

Of course that doesn't actually make them or him the nation's favourite. That honour belongs to Radio 2 and Terry Wogan. The Beeb's second station has something in the region of 13.25 million listeners, while Wogan has the most listened to morning show - some 7.97 million people are apparently tuning in each morning, which experts confirm is "a lot".

Back to the commercial sector, and of course all eyes at RAJAR time are always on those stations competing for the title of 'biggest in London'. GCap's Capital FM recovered a bit after last time's disappointing RAJARS, boosting weekly audience reach to 1.8 million, and audience share to 5.9%. That said, main rival Heart 106.2 held on to its status of 'biggest in London' in terms of audience share, having 6% of the market.

Breakfast shows-wise, Capital's Johnny Vaughan got his audience back up to 987,000 - up on the previous quarter but still down year on year. That said, the boost helped him extend his lead on Heart's Jamie Theakston breakfast show, which comes in second with 918,000 listeners.

Elsewhere in the GCap group, some disappointment at the group's alternative station Xfm which has seen its audience drop since it lost flagship presenter Christian O'Connell to rival Virgin Radio. It's weekly audience fell to 497,000, down from 628,000 the previous quarter and 535,000 a year ago. That means sister station Choice now has a bigger audience - 510,000.

It remains to be seen whether O'Connell can work his ratings boosting magic over at Virgin - his new show won't be rated until the next set of RAJARs. His predecessors in the station's breakfast slot, Pete And Geoff, had added 118,000 London listeners year on year, although their audience fell slightly at the end of 2005 compared to the previous quarter. Overall national Virgin listening figures were up on both the previous quarter, and the previous year.

Magic's new London breakfast show fronted by Neil Fox had 682,000 listeners, down very slightly on the old breakfast slot with Graham Dene. More importantly for Magic, the EMAP station lost its status as third biggest in London to GCap's Classic FM, which saw its London and national audiences rise compared to the previous quarter - though not to the previous year's peak.

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SMASH HITS CLOSING DOWN
EMAP have announced that top pop mag Smash Hits is to close its doors after 28 years of supplying the nation's teens with foolish interviews and cut-out-and-keep song lyrics. It's a crying shame. Ordinary Boy Preston has the dubious honour of appearing on the cover of the very final issue of the mag, which will be published on 13 Feb.

The brand will live on, of course, through the Smash Hit TV station, website and digital radio station - all of which now sit in different divisions of the media group from the magazine that inspired them. Current Smash Hits editor Lara Palamoudian is said to be moving to another project within EMAP, whilst the company are trying to find alternative positions for the magazines nine remaining staff.

EMAP Metro MD Marcus Rich described the fortnightly title as an "old favourite" whose "time has passed", and added: "The audience for the magazine was getting younger... as teenagers migrated to new platforms to satisfy their interest in music."

Rich continued: "Smash Hits revolutionised the world of teen publishing when it was launched in 1978, but 28 years later, the world is a very different place and the magazine's role and relevance on the news stand changed. The closure of the magazine allows us to concentrate our resources on developing the Smash Hits brand on these emerging platforms."

Mark Frith, a former editor of the pop publication and current editor of Heat said: "People have an incredible sentimental feeling towards Smash Hits. Anyone that grew up with Smash Hits or was lucky enough to work on it will always have a special place in their hearts for it. It has been a pioneering force in pop and we can look back fondly on the last 28 years."

Smash Hits was first published way back in September 1978, and saw its heyday during the eighties, regularly selling around half a million copies and recording its highest sales figures in 1989 when an issue featuring Kylie and Jason shifted more than a million. Previous editorial types at the mag have famously included subsequent Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant and the ubiquitous Kate Thornton.

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MUSICIANS UNION CALL FOR MIMING TO BE IDENTIFIED
The Musicians Union is launching a campaign to try and persuade broadcasters to use an onscreen logo to let TV audiences know when a band is playing live or miming. The campaign, supported by artists like Elton John, Malcolm McClaren and Beverly Knight and officially launched next month, will also put pressure on gig promoters to be clear on whether their acts are performing live or not.

Horace Trubridge, Assistant General Secretary for the Musicians' Union, told the BBC: "Just as when you buy a can of beans and it tells you what's in the beans, we think if you are going to buy a ticket for a show or watch a band on the TV, you should know exactly what it is you are buying and what you are watching."

Beverley Knight added: "What I can't bear are those who are more than capable of delivering a show live with musicians and the whole thing and who don't. Why? Because it's easy to do and they get their cheque at the end of the day."

But not all artists support the scheme. Faye Tozer, formerly of Steps, a group who mimed their TV performances, explained the decision to mime is down to logistics: "Our main reason was because you would be up at five o'clock doing kids' TV, straight away into the studio. There's no time for rehearsal, no time for engineers or getting your crew in, and then you would be on to your next children's TV at seven o clock. For a band like ours, that were very much a TV-selling band, it was great for us and we could get our product out there."

She has a fair point you know. For some bands, the singing is just one part of the show, and energetic dance routines at weird times of the day in small TV studios aren't too conducive with turning in a perfect vocal performance. I suspect many of the 71% of people (according to an ICM poll) who think it should be made clear whether a performance is totally live or is to some extent mimed probably don't realise just how much of what they know and love is, to some extent, not live.

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US CONSUMER SUES APPLE OVER IPOD HEARING RISKS
A Louisiana man is suing Apple Computers over allegations that the iPod is putting consumers' hearing at risk. John Kiel Patterson's lawsuit says that Apple do not do enough to warn their customers that using the iPod at high volumes, especially with the 'ear bud' headphones that come with the player, could result in noise-induced hearing loss.

Kiel points out that in 2002 French authorities forced Apple to limit the output of the iPod to 100dB. The computer firm complied, changing the software on iPods in Europe. However that change was not made in the US. He also argues that Apple does not do enough to warn its customers of hearing loss risks. While the iPod user manual does carry a general warning about listening to music through the earphones at "high volume", Kiel says the warning is unhelpful because it does not define 'high volume', nor does it advise on safe volume levels.

The lawsuit follows those previously reported comments made by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend last month, who said that, bearing in mind how many musician and producer friends he knew who now suffered from hearing problems, he feared the effect the widespread usage of headphone devices would have on the wider public's hearing. He wrote: "we use earphones at almost every stage of interaction with sound. My intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead".

Apple are yet to comment on the lawsuit.

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KYLIE IN 'FULL REMISSION', SAYS DANNII
Dannii Minogue has apparently posted a message on her website that indicates that her sister Kylie is officially in remission from cancer.

Previous reports which suggested that the popstar had been given the "all-clear" provoked a statement from Kylie's management refuting the suggestion. In any case, no-one is given the "all-clear" so soon after suffering from the disease; patients can only be declared in the clear after five years in remission.

However, there's no reason why she shouldn't be in 'remission' now, and though no official confirmation has been made about Minogue's state of health, the star's sister, it's claimed, replied to a post on her messageboard which read: "My best news to start the new year, is that my sister has had her "Full Remission" too! Last year was a difficult year for many people - I'm just happy that we have a close family and could all support each other."

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WEST TOPS US CRITICS POLL
Kanye West has come top in a pre-Grammy's survey of US music critics. Ahead of next week's Grammys bash, New York's Village Voice has released the results of its survey of 795 critics regarding their favourite album of last year. This is a complicated little survey - each critic gets 100 points which they can distribute to their favourite albums, giving each rated album anywhere between 5 or 30 points depending on how much they like it. Make sense? Good. West's 'Late Registration' came in at the top of the poll, though MIA's wonderful 'Arular' wasn't too far behind. Here's the top ten, with each album's points score (and US label). Full chart is at http://www.villagevoice.com/pazzandjop05/

1. Kanye West - Late Registration (Universal/Roc-A-Fella) - 2525
2. MIA - Arular (Beggars/XL) - 2418
3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (Asthmatic Kitty) - 1747
4. Sleater-Kinney - The Woods (Sub Pop) - 1212
5. Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (SonyBMG/Epic) 1117
6. The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (V2) 1013
7. Antony And The Johnsons (Secretly Canadian) - 1006
8. The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (Frenchkiss) - 980
9. The New Pornographers - The Twin Cinema (Matador) - 954
10. My Morning Jacket - z (SonyBMG/RCA) - 942

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MCCARTNEY CONFIRMED FOR GRAMMYS
Talking of the Grammy's, thirteen time grammy award winner Paul McCartney is to play at next week's awards ceremony for the first time ever. He joins the previously announced and reported line-up that includes Mariah Carey, Coldplay, John Legend, U2 with Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill with Keith Urban, Christina Aguilera with Herbie Hancock, Jamie Foxx with Kanye West, Madonna and Gorillaz, and that star studded Sly Stone tribute.

McCartney is up for three Grammys this year. Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year for 'Chaos And Creation In The Backyard' and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for 'Fine Line'.

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STIPE AND MARTIN TEAM UP FOR CHARITY
It's a marriage of MOR. REM's Michael Stipe and Coldplay's Chris Martin have got together to record a track to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The song, 'In The Sun' will premiere in the US on Sunday, on TV Drama 'Grey's Anatomy'. The following day it will be available from iTunes in a number of formats, including a live version recorded by the pair at the Austin City Limits festival last year, a version featuring the song's writer, the wonderful Joseph Arthur, and a remix by Justin Timberlake and his new production buddy will.i.am Black Eyed Peas.

Stipe says: "The news cycle has moved on and I don't want the public to forget about those who were affected by Katrina or to believe that everything is fine now. It's a unique place, not only to this country but to the world. I had to do something as a Southerner. I had to do something as a public figure. The one thing I can do is sing, and it's probably the best way to get people to pay attention."

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RADIOHEAD SPEAK ABOUT NEW ALBUM
Radiohead have updated fans on the progress of their new album again, via the band's official website, revealing that producer Mark 'Spike' Stent is working on the project, and that the group are now really, really, really working hard to get it finished, honest.

Frontman Thom Yorke wrote: "So here we are with Spike Stent in our studio which now looks like NASA. And we are being taken to task. We are having to shake the dust off. No more bullshit. Stop answering the phones and thinking of excuses to leave the building. Instead get on with it. Jonny [Greenwood] said today that since we were last Radiohead, between us, we've had six children or rather our partners have, this may perhaps have something to do with our lack of focus. But as this rock 'n' roll we ain't supposed to discuss this... deny it ever happened etc. What bullshit."

He continued: "Of course there are the other distractions, sitting in the garden with your 12 bore shotgun, large orchestras doing drum machine noises, getting suits made, puppies, canal boats, beer, modular synthesis, lego, tax investigations, global warming and the end of life as we know it, traffic, deafness, insanity, normality. Whatever."

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NEW GORILLAZ SINGLE ANNOUNCED
Gorillaz have announced that a double A side, 'Kids With Guns'/'El Mañana' will be the next single to be lifted from the 'Demon Days' album. It'll be out on 10 Apr.

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SPICE GIRLS TOUR?
The Sun claims that The Spice Girls are to reform, albeit minus Mel C, to play a reunion tour in November. A few months ago I'd've said there was no way this could be true, but given that Pink Floyd Live 8 performance, the Take That reunion tour, the Split Enz reunion tour, and the fact that All Saints are reforming, I'm almost prepared to entertain the notion.

There's been a lot of speculation, of late, that it would happen of course, and now the tabloid says that the girls will get back together next year, although they will not be joined by Melanie Chisholm, who, it's said, is unhappy with the idea, especially as she is still doggedly pursuing a solo career (and so she ought; she's not bad at all).

Anyway, this mythical or otherwise tour is allegedly set to include between ten and twelve dates, and will be followed by a Greatest Hits album (didn't they do that already?) and a DVD.

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HARD-FI TOUR UPDATE
Well, it seems there are yet more Hard-Fi dates to add to their May tour. Two more gigs, that we didn't know about yesterday, have been added at Wolverhampton and Brixton Academy. Here's the full list, for your information:

7 May: Manchester Apollo
8 May: Manchester Apollo (sold out)
9 May: Edinburgh Corn Exchange (sold out)
10 May: Wolverhampton Civic Hall
11 May: Wolverhampton Civic Hall (sold out)
14 May: London Brixton Academy (sold out)
15 May: London Brixton Academy (sold out)
16 May: London Brixton Academy (sold out)
17 May: London Brixton Academy

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CHARLOTTE TOURS
Charlotte Church has announced some tour dates, apparently, so here they are. She's also got a new single, 'Moodswings' out on 27 Feb.

18 Apr: Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
20 Apr: London Shepherd's Bush Empire
21 Apr: Cardiff St David's Hall

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PAUL WELLER TO PLAY INTIMATE GIG
Paul Weller is to play an intimate gig at the Gibson Studios in London on 13 Feb, and if you want tickets you'll have to try and win them at http://www.virginradio.co.uk.

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ORDINARY BOYS INSTORE
The Ordinary boys are set to give a free show and signing session at HMV on Oxford Street on Monday. They'll play a set at around 6pm and will then stick around to meet fans and sign copies of their current album 'Brassbound', which, not that surprisingly, is in the top ten following frontman Preston's appearance on Celebrity Big Brother.

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SINGLE REVIEW: The Whip - Frustration (Kids)
Formed from the ashes of Nylon Pylon, The Whip are yet more proof that there's more to bands in Manchester than just Oasis or Doves wannabees. 'Frustration' sounds like Tim Burgess fronting 'Power Corruption And Lies' era New Order, which can only be a good thing, really. Full of glacial synths, melodic bass, precise percussion and "Fookin' 'ave it" Northern attitude, there's also an insouciance at hand which will stand them in good stead if they keep making records as good as this. "It's cold outside" sings Bruce Carter, like a man warmed by a defiant inner glow. Issued on de rigeur limited 7" vinyl only, there's a surprisingly grungy accompanying remix from fellow Manc synth-popsters Performance, whose ace 'Love Life' was one of the singles of 2004 and are rightly tipped for big things. Good stuff. MS
Release date: 13 Feb
Press contact: 14th Floor [all]

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FRANZ FERDINAND TO PLAY BENICASSIM
Franz Ferdinand are amongst the new additions to this year's Benicassim festival line up. Alongside fellow new additions Echo & The Bunnymen and The Rakes, they join a bill which already includes Depeche Mode, Dionysos and The Sunday Driver.

The Spanish festival, now in its eleventh year, has traditionally taken place at the start of August but will this year take place from 20 - 23 Jul.

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WILL YOUNG HATES THE BRITS
Will Young has apparently told the Mirror that he hates the Brit Awards, despite the fact that he's been nominated this year, saying: "I hate them. If I wasn't forced to go, I wouldn't bother attending. It's just a strange event - so many egos in one room. I'm chuffed to be nominated but it's not my kind of thing."

He went on to say that he's looking forward more to the Baftas: "That'll be a good night. It's funny, you rarely hear actors slagging each other off but with musicians it's almost the done thing" - which really just proves that he hasn't been hanging out with actors for very long. And I speak from experience, thank you very much.

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BRITNEY'S WILL & GRACE GUEST SPOT
Britney Spears is to make a guest appearance on US sitcom Will & Grace. She will apparently appear as a conservative Christian presenting a cooking segment on a talk show anchored by the character of 'Jack' (whoever that is).

Elsewhere in Britney news, it's rumoured that the popstar has become pregnant again with indecent haste. It's claimed she shocked passers-by in a Malibu shopping centre by grabbing her tummy and announcing 'That's right, number 2'. I don't want to even think about what else she could have meant.

The most telling reason why this might be true, however, is that a 'friend' told Touch magazine: "Britney is definitely pregnant again. She's acting the same way she did when she was pregnant with her first child." Which makes it, er, conclusive, then.

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PETE BURNS OUT OF MONKEY TROUBLE
Pete Burns will not face prosecution over that controversial monkey fur coat that the singer claimed was made from gorilla skin. It has been confirmed that, in fact, the garment was made from colobus monkeys back in the 1930s or 1940s. Importing Colobus fur has been illegal since 1975, but it's not illegal to own it.

The CPS released a statement reading as follows: "The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that no prosecution should follow in relation to a Colobus Monkey fur coat taken into the Big Brother house by Pete Burns.There is no evidence to suggest that this garment was imported illegally and therefore that any offence has been committed. Mr Burns has not been interviewed by police in relation to this matter and this decision has been reported to Mr Burns' legal representative."

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