CMU Daily - on the inside Wednesday 21st November
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- ERA says down with DRM
- iPhone deals may fall foul of European laws
- Jerry Springer opera back in court
- KLF man stages No Music Day
- West surgeon pulls out of Larry King interview
- TI tries to have evidence against him dismissed
- Winehouse's mother glad Blake is inside
- Universal pull plug on NIN remix promotion
- Yorke found solo project dull
- Last.fm get behind Lucky Soul for Christmas number one
- New Tupac compilation upcoming
- White and Dylan "cut from the same cloth"
- Reed pens new songs for war documentary
- Ne-Yo dropped from Kelly tour
- Astbury makes Led Zepp tour claim
- Nokia sell new Kylie first
- Pandora adds classical
- Billboard partner with AEG on new awards
- EMI set for indie purchases
- NME launch TV station
- Brian May becomes chancellor of Liverpool Uni
- Fall Out Boy not going all folk
- Murphy refuses to even meet Spice daughter
- Bullet for my tonsils

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TOP BIT
So, interesting statement from the Entertainment Retailers Association yesterday, calling for the major record companies to drop DRM once and for all. The retailers want SonyBMG and Warner to follow EMI's lead and start selling their music as MP3s without DRM, and for Universal to turn their "experiment" in DRM-free music into a full time policy. It remains to be seen how the majors respond. As previously reported, word has it SonyBMG will soon drop DRM leaving Warner Music the last major out in the cold cold world of digital paranoia. I really do think we are now in the last months of DRM in music, and hurrah to that.

That said, while we've been advocating the dropping of DRM for a long long time, it would be unwise to assume that, as some are implying, moving into MP3 will dramatically increase digital music sales, and better compensate for the decline in CD sales. The end of DRM does allow the likes of Amazon to offer much more user friendly iPod compatible download services, and that's a good thing, and may well lead to boost in digital sales, which is also a good thing, obviously. But that boost is not guaranteed, and is not the reason why the majors should be dropping DRM.

The majors should drop DRM because it is expensive, unpopular and just doesn't work. By insisting on DRM record labels have spent ridiculous sums of money on technology which doesn't actually protect their digital rights (all DRMs are easily hacked with a quick burn to CD and re-rip by anyone who wishes to illegally distribute music), and which has left them record industry dependent on technology companies who are only interested in how music can help them shift more computers and music players, and not the development of new music itself. It also furthers public perception that major record companies are anti-consumer, which makes mainstream consumers feel less guilty about stealing their music.

That is the reason why DRM should have been dropped three years ago, and why SonyBMG and Warner need to fall in line with their competitors asap. But the majors shouldn't expect a change in DRM policy to automatically reverse their fortunes. That still depends on the much previously discussed diversification - ie record labels finding new ways to generate money through their catalogues of music and artists relationships. Hopefully, with less time and money spend on silly DRM, the labels can start investing their time in finding those new ways.

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ERA SAYS DOWN WITH DRM
I think we all know restrictive digital rights management technology is a thing of the past, but let us not forget that two of the major record companies are still living in the past. Although, as reported yesterday, word has it SonyBMG are about to get up to date and drop their insistence that their music is only sold with DRM protection - which would leave just Warner Music hanging on to the expensive, ineffective, redundant and unpopular technology.

But either way, the Entertainment Retailers Association, which represents most of the UK's high street and online music sellers, has weighed in to the debate by calling on everyone in the mad world of recorded music to drop DRM once and for all, and to sell their music in the user-friendly MP3 format, like what EMI and Universal now does. And what more or less every indie label has done for a long time.

In an open letter, seen by the Financial Times, to those still advocating DRM, ERA Director General Kim Bayley says that by only selling their music in rights-protected formats, which only play on players compatible with each format, the record labels are "stifling growth and working against the consumer interest". Everyone in the record industry is concerned that the growth of the digital music market is not yet matching the decline in CD sales but, Bayley argues, the major label's DRM policies, which make digital music less consumer friendly "might have added to the slow take-up of legal digital services".

The ERA chief goes on to cite research which says that consumers are almost four times more likely to choose an MP3 file over a DRM-protected track if both are available. Recognising that EMI has made its catalogue available with DRM, and that Universal was now experimenting with dropping DRM, she said that she felt ERA still needed to make a stand because while "there are certainly experiments" the association feels "there's still a certain element of resistance within the music industry" and that "just puts consumers off".

The all-on assault on DRM by ERA is quite a landmark in the recorded music sector, marking the first time the retailers have so openly and widely criticised the record labels for their digital music policies. Asked by Music Week why they decided to speak now, ERA chairman Paul Quirk says the association's members felt it was time to be more proactive in this domain at their recent AGM, adding: "That was one of our objectives, to give the consumers what they want, how they want it, when they want it."

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IPHONE DEALS MAY FALL FOUL OF EUROPEAN LAWS
Of course, as the online download platforms slowly become more user-friendly in terms of interoperability, by becoming MP3 centric, the growing mobile music market remains pretty damn un-userfriendly, with different tel cos, phone manufacturers and IT firms offering rival services which often tie customers to certain handsets or networks.

Market pressures will no doubt force the mobile music firms to become more userfriendly in the long term, but in the meantime the European courts are doing their bit to reduce the restrictions. The French courts recently forced Orange, the exclusive provider of the iPhone in France, to reduce the commitment customers have to make to the phone firm in order to buy the much hyped Apple mobile phone/iPod device, meaning customers can buy an iPhone from Orange, but then continue to use it with a rival network. And now the German courts may make similar demands on Apple and their partners in Germany, T-Mobile.

This has come about because of some sneaky dealings by Vodafone, who failed to secure an iPhone partnership with Apple in any territories. They have taken T-Mobile to court arguing that the commitment iPhone customers have to make to the phone firm is unprecedented, and that they suspect it may not comply with German laws on such things. Vodafone Deutschland boss Friedrich Joussen told German newspaper Handelsbatt: "These are new telecom business models that are not usual on the market. It's a radical change of practice. This is a fall from grace. We want to have a decision on whether this complies with German law".

And the German courts seem to share Vodafone's concerns about the Apple/T-Mobile arrangement, issuing an injunction ordering them to make the iPhone available without the current two year commitment to the mobile network. T-Mo disagree that their iPhone deal is entirely unprecedented in the German mobile market, and now have two weeks to appeal the court's ruling.

All of which is possibly bad news for Apple, who had hoped to replicate in Europe their deal with US mobile firm AT&T where they reportedly earn from the revenues the tel cos make from iPhone users on an ongoing basis, and not just from the initial sale of the actual phone. Such an arrangement may not now be possible in most European countries, accept here in the UK, of course, where it seems consumer rights laws do little to protect you from having to sign a long term contract with O2 in order to secure yourself an Apple mobile.

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JERRY SPRINGER OPERA BACK IN COURT
Isn't all this a bit late in the day? A 'Christian activist' has launched a High Court battle to bring a private prosecution for blasphemy over that 'Jerry Springer - The Opera' show, even though the whole thing peaked in 2005.

The Stewart Lee/Richard Thomas penned musical has courted controversy for some time, of course, most notably when a production of it was screened on BBC 2 back in 2005, leading to a record breaking 63,000 complaints from people who objected to various allegedly blasphemous elements in the show, most notably the portrayal of Jesus in a nappy proclaiming he was "a bit gay".

Stephen Green of the Christian Voice group tried to launch a private prosecution against the producers of the West End production of the show, and against BBC Director General Mark Thompson, on the grounds the show broke blasphemy laws back in January. But judges at City Of Westminster Magistrates Court refused to allow the case to proceed.

The whole thing is back in the news this week because Green is now appealing that decision. That means three judges are considering anew Green's claims that the musical contains images that "vilify God and the Bible", and that the show is "an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief" that "crossed the blasphemy threshold".

Green also argues that a show mocking any other religion, and especially Islam, in a similar way would never have gone ahead, adding: "No theatre would have produced it ... neither would the BBC have broadcast it". He's right on that matter, of course, though that has nothing to do with blasphemy laws. Moreover, even if Green does has blasphemy laws on his side (which most experts seem to doubt), you can't help thinking he's not doing the wider Christian church any favours pursuing the case. One would think turning the other cheek would be, well, more Christian.

We put in a call for comment to God, but alas nothing has been forthcoming. As usual. Yeah, I know, old gag.

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KLF MAN STAGES NO MUSIC DAY
KLF man Bill Drummond, having done everything he can think to do with music, has now decided to stage No Music Day. Today. Yes, it's a day with no music. And he has persuaded BBC Radio Scotland to shun music for the day as part of the venture. The radio station will feature discussions on the role of music in society where they would normally have music content.

It should be noted that Drummond isn't staging the day in any kind of anti-music way, rather he wants us to "fast" on the beats so that we appreciate them more tomorrow - what happens to be St Celia's day, she being the patron saint of music.

Drummond told the Beeb: "There seemed a logic that we fast from music on the day before we may traditionally have celebrated and given thanks for music. [Two years ago] I decided to have one day without listening to music to give myself some space".

Radio Scotland's Head Of Radio Jeff Zycinski explained his support for Scot Drummond's initiative, saying: "Radio Scotland broadcasts more live music than all the Scottish commercial stations put together. Bill's idea was to show how important music was to people by taking it away. The day will also prompt the question - 'What kind of music do we want?'"

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WEST SURGEON PULLS OUT OF LARRY KING INTERVIEW
The surgeon who carried out cosmetic surgery on Kanye West's mother just hours before her premature death has said Dr Donda West may have died by taking too many painkillers after the procedure, and not because of any negligence on his part during the operation.

Dr Jan Adams has told reporters: "When she left this office, there was no problem whatsoever". Asked about the painkiller theory he continued: "That's one speculation on my part, yes. I believe I know exactly what happened to her, but I will not comment on it until I see the final [coroners] report".

Adams had been expected to give a more detailed interview about West's death on the Larry King US TV show yesterday, but in the end he all but pulled out of the programme (even though King had come back from holiday to present it). Apparently the West family requested he not comment on the case, and the doc complied telling the TV presenter simply: "What I really want to say is I want to thank you for this opportunity. Basically I had come here to [address] things in the press that aren't accurate about me, but I have a tremendous respect for the West family. They don't want me to go on. I have a side, they have a side and I am going to respect their wishes ... I will not be on the show and address any of that. I am going to honor their wishes".

The coroner's office will not rule on the cause of West's death until the results of toxicology tests are known. Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Adams dismissed reports that the Medical Board Of California was planning on revoking his licence, amid those other reports of malpractice suits that have been launched against him and settled out of court. Adams says: "There have been some malpractice suits, but 99 per cent of them are what we in this business call nuisance suits. There's nothing going on here that represents malpractice".

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TI TRIES TO HAVE EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM DISMISSED
TI says evidence collected by the prosecution in the much previously reported federal weapons case currently being pursued against him was collected illegally. He also claims that some statements he gave the police should not be used in court because officials did not follow protocol when they arrested him back on 13 Oct.

Lawyers for the rapper have filed a motion to the US District Court requesting that some of the prosecution's evidence not be allowed in court, because they claim some of it was illegally seized from a vehicle (ie no warrant had been issued to search the car) and some was gathered when the hip hopper was arrested in October, during which lawyers say he was not detained properly, and the defendant's rights were not honoured.

A judge hasn't made a ruling on the claim, and TI's people are expected to provide the courts with more information on their allegations.

TI faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty of illegally buying weapons while on probation.

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WINEHOUSE'S MOTHER GLAD BLAKE IS INSIDE
Amy Winehouse's mother Janis has said she is glad her daughter's husband has been jailed, blaming him for Amy's increasingly raucous lifestyle. Despite reports that Blake Fielder-Civil's arrest has made Winehouse even more dependent on drugs, Janis says she hopes being apart from her other half will help Amy turn away from her druggy lifestyle.

Speaking to First magazine Janis says: "I step back, look at life and think, well, they've put him away. I can see life taking care of the situation. I was more worried when they were together. It's a sense of fate. Thank God he's gone inside. Because it's also a case of now he's going to learn".

As previously reported, Fielder-Civil has been jailed following charges of perverting the course of justice in relation to GBH charges against him.

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UNIVERSAL PULL PLUG ON NIN REMIX PROMOTION
Universal Music has pulled the plug on plans by Nine Inch Nails man Trent Reznor to launch a website where fans can upload their own remixes of NIN songs. The site was designed to promote the new Reznor remix album, being released by Universal's Interscope this week. But Universal fear that if fans upload mash up mixes of NIN tracks sampling other songs they don't own they may make themselves liable for copyright infringement charges, just as they are suing other sites for allowing such infringement. So they have put a block on the whole promotion.

Writing on his website Reznor explains: "Universal feels that if they host our remix site, they will be opening themselves up to the accusation that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing [YouTube and MySpace] for. Their premise is that if any fan decides to remix one of my masters with material Universal doesn't own - a 'mash-up', a sample, whatever - and upload it to the site, there is no safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing. This behavior may get hauled out in court and impact their lawsuit".

Reznor's relationship with Universal is already pretty poor, of course, mainly because he keeps telling fans to illegally download his music. Though moving forward the NIN man is now outside his recording contract and is considering ways to release his music himself without major label support - making future fan based remix projects more viable.

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YORKE FOUND SOLO PROJECT DULL
Thom Yorke has told Radio 1's Zane Lowe that working on a solo project - ie last year's 'The Eraser' - was a bit dull. He says of the solo venture: "It was kind of dull. It was deeply unsatisfying because you weren't sharing much of the process but then I got back with the band and it was like 'Oh my God, there's all these other people I have to work with now'".

He also spoke about the new Radiohead album 'In Rainbows', and in particular how little promotional work was required for the download release given how much media coverage the 'pay what you want' promotion garnered. He remarked: "It's very eye opening, liberating. But extremely strange. The day people were downloading it I sat at home and did nothing".

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LAST.FM GET BEHIND LUCKY SOUL FOR CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE
Ah, its nice when things we love come together as one - music recommending social networking thingimy Last.fm, soulful Greenwich based-popsters (and long term CMU favourites) Lucky Soul and, erm, the Christmas number one spot.

That is all to say, Last.fm have decided to try and use its huge membership of music fans to try an influence what song secures the UK Christmas number one spot this year, and they've decided to try and use that influence to get Lucky Soul's 'Lips Are Unhappy' to number one Christmas week. Of course they have their work cut out, with another X-Factor winner no doubt set to go for the Christmas top spot, though with millions of users they might just do it.

The track will be released on 17 Dec, and will be bundled with a new Lucky Soul cover version of classic Mud Christmas song 'Lonely This Christmas'. You can preorder it now via http://www.indiestore.com/luckysoul for a mere 40 pennies, with all profits going to charity.

Commenting on the promotion, Last.fm co-founder Martin Stiksel told CMU: "Lucky Soul have worked hard to make a success of their music on their own terms, and that's the kind of attitude Last.fm encourages. Together we reckon we've got a great chance to give Simon Cowell a run for his money".

Press info about all things Lucky Soul, including details on how to get access on a press promo download, from Seb & Fiona (seb@sebandfiona.com). Press on all things Last.fm from christian@last.fm

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NEW TUPAC COMPILATION UPCOMING
Details of a new Tupac compilation have been announced. The two CD collection has been exec produced by Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur, will be out on 3 Dec, will include two previously unreleased tracks, two remixes and eighteen classic releases, and a portion of the profits will go to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. The tracklisting of the two CDs are as follows...

CD1 - Thug
So Many Tears
Trapped
California Love (Original Mix)
How Do U Want It
I Aint Mad At Cha
2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted
Hail Mary
Changes
Unconditional Love
Resist the Temptation (Previously Unreleased)
Dear Mama (featuring Anthony Hamilton - New Mix)

CD2 - Life
Definition of a Thug Nigga
Brenda's Got a Baby
Keep Ya Head Up
When I Get Free
Until the End of Time (RP REMIX)
Never Call U Bitch Again
They Dont Give a Fuck About Us
Still Ballin (NITTY REMIX)
Ghetto Gospel
Dopefiend's Diner (Previously Unreleased)
Thugz Mansion Acoustic Remix (New Remix)

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WHITE AND DYLAN "CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH"
Following the news last week that Beck has been collaborating with The White Stripes, news this week that Jack White may be collaborating on new work with Bob Dylan, though it does seem to all be a bit speculative at the moment. Basically White has been involved in a Dylan coordinated project to finish some unfinished Hank Williams songs, and one of the other people involved in that project - Domini Suchyta, bassist with American folksy bluesy outfit Steppin In It and a long time friend of White - has been talking about the similarties between the two. Suchyta told Paste magazine: "I wouldn't put it [a collaboration] past either of them. They seem to be cut from the same cloth, sort of misplaced Midwestern brothers. I do know Jack has joined him [Dylan] on stage quite a bit and joined him for his radio show. When we were high school teenagers, we recorded quite a few Dylan tunes on our old four-track reel machine. I remember having a nice version of 'Masters Of War' on some cassette somewhere. Jack played drums and guitar, I played bass and guitar". So there you have it.

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REED PENS NEW SONGS FOR WAR DOCUMENTARY
Lou Reed has recorded two new songs for a documentary about the Japanese invasion of the Chinese city of Nanking in the early part of World War II. The documentary combines first hand accounts from survivors and archive footage with staged readings of letters and diaries relating to the invasion read by the likes of Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, Jurgen Prochnow and Stephen Dorff. The two new songs penned for it by Reed are called 'Gravity' and 'Safety Zone'. The film will premiere in New York on 12 Dec.

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NE-YO DROPPED FROM KELLY TOUR
Ne-Yo has been dropped from the current R Kelly US tour, officially because of contractural issues, but according to Ne-Yo because Kelly was pissed off people liked his support act's set better than his own.

In an official statement via his label Def Jam, Ne-Yo said somewhat unpolitically: "I am disappointed that I won't be able to perform for my fans. I love being on stage in front of fans because of the immediate feedback you get. You know right away if they are feeling you; and they were really feeling our show".

But he got down to basics in an interview with BET.com, saying: "Let them [Kelly's label Jive] tell it that I was removed from the R Kelly tour because of contractual agreements not being met, but that's absolutely false. I believe it was because the first few reviews of the show, people were talking more about my set than his and I don't think he liked that too much"

But Kelly's people are sticking by the contractual issues story, telling reporters their man is a big fan of Ne-Yo and would love to tour with him. A spokesman said: "Ne-Yo is a terrific talent and R Kelly is certainly confident enough in his own abilities to be happy to share the stage with enormously talented people. The more talented, the better. We're sorry it had to end this way".

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ASTBURY MAKES LED ZEPP TOUR CLAIM
The Cult's Ian Astbury has reportedly told an audience at a US gig that his band will be supporting Led Zeppelin on tour next year, which is news because Led Zepp have so far been tight lipped on whether more live shows will follow their much hyped reunion gig at The O2 next month. When I say Astbury told his audience, what happened, according to MTV.com, is that he told his audience "We'll be back next year because we're opening for a band you may have heard of ... the name starts with an 'L' and has a 'Z' in it". An audience member then shouted "Led Zeppelin" and Astbury nodded. No word from the Led Zepp camp either way, though there have been indications that a more full on reunion hasn't been ruled out.

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NOKIA SELL NEW KYLIE FIRST
Nokia are selling the new Kylie album ahead of everyone else following an exclusivity deal with her label Parlophone. Nokia's recently launched mobile/online download store will sell the new long player from today, five days ahead of Monday's official relase. So if you're anxious to hear it, you better get on and go check out Nokia downloads.

Commenting on the deal with Nokia, Parlophone MD Miles Leonard said: "Our partnership with the Nokia Music Store enables EMI to reach music fans in new ways by giving them instant access to great music direct to their mobile phone or PC".

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PANDORA ADDS CLASSICAL
Personalised online music set up Pandora last week added classical music to its US service which, of course, we here at CMU have never used, because they are only licenced for US use, though we are happy about the addition of classical nevertheless. In fact I think a 'hurrah' is in order. Here's what site founder Tim Westergreen had to say about it: "We think classical music enthusiasts will be delighted by the ability to explore any and all parts of the classical music universe in ways that have never before been possible. At the same time, we hope to make classical music more accessible and relevant to everyone". Though not those of us in the UK, who they're not licenced to service. Which is why we never use it. Even though it's a brilliant service. Not that we'd know, us not using it.

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BILLBOARD PARTNER WITH AEG ON NEW AWARDS
US trade magazine Billboard has said it is developing a new music awards show with live music conglom AEG Live which will launch next year. The event is the result of a recent strategic alliance forged by Billboard's parent Nielsen with AEG.

The new show will replace the annual Billboard Music Awards, which was produced in association with and screened by the Fox Network, and which awarded artists based on the trade magazine's end of year retail and radio play charts. That event is not being staged this year - with the end of year charts simply being published in the Billboard magazine without any accompanying event. Exactly how similar the new event will be to the old Billboard Music Awards is not yet clear.

Commenting on the alliance with AEG, Billboard's Group Editorial Director Tamara Conniff told reporters: "We have been working closely with AEG Live to identify new opportunities to expand and deepen the Billboard brand and our broadcast awards shows. Leveraging our considerable combined strengths, we are excited to work with AEG to launch a new Billboard Music Awards show in 2008 that takes full advantage of the benefits of our partnership".

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EMI SET FOR INDIE PURCHASES
The all new EMI has reportedly set aside $100 million to buy up a string of indie labels, presumably in a bid to compete with Universal's recent buying spree. More on that when we get it.

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NME LAUNCH TV STATION
NME are launching a TV channel tomorrow, and it's going to be "the essential channel for real alternative music enthusiasts", apparently. There'll be music videos, chart round ups, interviews and music news, it's all ground breaking stuff. It's a joint venture between NME publishers IPC and CSC Media, who also run The Chart Show, Bliss and The Vault music channels. NME Publishing Director Paul Cheal says this: "Launching a linear television channel is a major new development for the UK's leading alternative music brand. NMETV will add an important new strand of content to our existing platforms". The new station will go on air tomorrow on Sky channel 377.

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BRIAN MAY BECOMES CHANCELLOR OF LIVERPOOL UNI
Queen's Brian May has been named chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University which might sound a bit mad, though he's taking over from Cherie Blair, so the college is clearly moving up.

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FALL OUT BOY NOT GOING ALL FOLK
Those Fall Out Boy boys have denied rumours on the net that they were thinking about going a bit folk with their next album, which is a crying shame, because I was quite looking forward to some Fall Out folk.

But here's what frontman Patrick Stump told MTV recently: "There was something that got misconstrued. [Guitarist] Pete [Wentz] was saying something about folk music, and I was saying something about folk music... We were kind of thinking about folk music lyrically and I think a lot of people assumed that meant acoustic guitars, which it doesn't".

Stump adds that other net rumours that the band's fifth album is almost done were also untrue, saying: "We need a next breath in before we take the next breath out, I always think of that total cliche that a record is like a child or a pregnancy even. There is a point where you're just going to have a record, like, 'Oh! It's coming!' And we're not there yet. I don't even know how far along it is. First trimester, maybe".

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MURPHY REFUSES TO EVEN MEET SPICE DAUGHTER
Eddie Murphy has reportedly refused to meet his daughter by Spice Girl Melanie Brown on account of him being a bit of a cunt. As previously reported, Murphy has distanced himself from his child with ex-girlfriend Mel B ever since she announced she was pregnant, initially questioning if he was really the father. But a DNA test back in June proved he was definitely Angel Iris' father and the two stars' legal teams are currently in court thrashing out maintenance and visitation rights - or they should be, but Murphy has refused to submit an offer forcing the case to be postponed for three months. But while the actor come comedian is unwilling to commit on financial support for his daughter he has been clear on what visitation rights he wants - none. A source told The Sun: "Mel was furious. She had been planning to take Angel to the courthouse to meet her dad for the first time".

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BULLET FOR MY TONSILS
Bullet For My Valentine frontman Matt Tuck has been talking about recording his band's upcoming second album, and more to the point doing his singing even though he desperately needed his tonsils removing. Tuck: "My tonsils had started to go a bit wrong in summer 06. But by the time we got into the studio, they'd gotten so big, there was no room left in the back of my throat. I tried for a couple of weeks to get things down [on tape], but every day was like banging my head against a brick wall... The tonsils were constantly making me feel like shit as well, so they had to come out". The good news is that the tonsils have since been removed.

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