20 DEC 2012

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Pop's grey post-Guetta colour-scheme was given a neon do-over this year by one Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, whose third LP 'Visions' was (and just ask any fan/critic compiling an end-of-2012 shortlist for confirmation of this) one of the annum's most notable releases. 'Visions', when it was unleashed in January, came affixed with a 'post-internet' Post-it more>>
Chlöe Howl - her real name is Chlöe Howells, you see? - currently has but one song online and no biog to speak of, as is the way with so many new pop acts these days, scrubbed of back story for their 'official' launch. It's like she didn't exist until a week ago. Anyway, she's signed to Sony/Columbia and that lone track of hers, 'No Strings', went online last week more>>
- Lostprophets frontman accused of conspiring to rape one year old girl
- Government publishes copyright reform proposals
- Pirate Party UK shuts Pirate Bay proxy after legal challenge from BPI
- MegaUpload extradition hearing now postponed until next August
- Kraftwerk win very long running sample dispute
- Tom Odell wins BRITs Critics' Choice, new BRIT Awards announced
- Hillsborough charity record now leading in Christmas chart race
- Adele tops Forbes' 30 Under 30 musical influencers list
- Work on new Tool album continues to progress slowly
- New Wavves LP to feature hip hop and a glockenspiel
- Jamie T and Rancid collaborate
- Flaming Lips releasing freaky live film
- Second Villagers show in London announced
- Roots Manuva to play live following new EP
- Summer Sundae to take a year off in 2013
- Festival line-up update
- Fabric launches new label
- Deezer launches freemium service
- Tulisa lawyers reportedly stop ex appearing on Big Brother
- Ke$ha says she was "forced" to sing Die Young
- Women find Obama's Gangnam Style dance too embarrassing
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Lostprophets frontman Ian Watkins was refused bail and remanded in custody yesterday after appearing at Cardiff Magistrates' Court to face those previously reported child abuse charges, which, it was revealed, include the allegation he conspired to rape a one year old girl.

As previously reported, Watkins' identity was made public by police ahead of his court appearance yesterday morning "in order to assist their investigation". Media were initially told that the musician had been charged with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a female under thirteen and the possession/distribution of indecent images of children. Though the court itself was told that Watkins is specifically accused of conspiring to rape a one-year-old girl, as well as conspiring to engage in sexual touching with two young children, possessing, making and distributing indecent images, and possessing "extreme" animal pornography.

All the alleged crimes are said to have taken place between May this year and Monday this week, which is when Watkins was arrested. A 24 year old woman also stands accused of the same, while a 20 year old woman is accused of five of the same charges, though not conspiracy to rape.

The senior officer investigating the case, Detective Inspector Peter Doyle, said in a statement: "I want to encourage anyone who has any concerns or information which they think may be relevant to contact us. Safeguarding children involved in such cases is always a high priority and as such measures have already been taken".

Watkins' lawyer has said that the singer will deny all the charges made against him. He and the two women will now appear before Cardiff Crown Court on 31 Dec, and in the meantime the singer will be held in custody over Christmas after being refused bail.

Having announced on Monday that upcoming tour dates in Russia and Japan were being cancelled due to an "illness in the family", the rest of Lost Prophets issued a short statement on their official website yesterday expressing shock at this week's events. The statement reads: "Following charges made today against Ian Watkins, we find ourselves in a state of shock. We are learning about the details of the investigation along with you. It is a difficult time for us and our families, and we want to thank our fans for their support as we seek answers".

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Just in time for Christmas and everything. The government has published its proposals for amending the UK copyright act in response to the much previously reported review of intellectual property law led by Ian Hargreaves last year.

Many of the changes expand fair dealing exceptions (what would be called 'fair use' in many other jurisdictions), ie circumstances where users can make use of copyright material without licence. This includes private copying, or so called format shifting, without compensation, and a parody right similar to (but probably not as wide-ranging) that which already exists in the US.

Many in the music rights and other copyright industries oppose the extension of fair dealing rights, and will not like the new parody right or the idea of a private copy right being introduced without compensation to rights owners (ie the sort of private copy levy that exists in other European countries).

The music and other copyright industries pre-empted the report earlier this month with their 'Licensing UK' document, which argued that rather than expanding the number of fair dealing exemptions, a simpler licensing system could enable users to make use of copyright material in those circumstances identified by Hargreaves without the existing complications, but without content owners giving up rights.

The government's plan is to now make the proposals set out in today's report law through secondary legislation next autumn. No more formal consultation will take place, except on 'technical matters', though the content industries lobbyists will presumably be hoping to reduce the scope of the fair-dealing reforms in parliament.

You can read the report here.

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Pirate Party UK has disabled its proxy that provided access to The Pirate Bay, following a legal challenge from UK record labels trade body the BPI.

As much previously reported, earlier this year the BPI secured injunctions forcing all of the major internet service providers to block access to their customers to The Pirate Bay, after a judge ruled that the controversial file-sharing service was liable for authorising infringement. However, web-users who know what they are doing can circumvent the block. And one of the easiest ways to do that was to click on the proxy button on the Pirate Party's website.

Last month the BPI asked the political group to stop operating the proxy link, and when the request was refused the trade body announced that it would launch legal action. Pirate Party chief Loz Kaye initially said he was taking legal advice on the matter, and launched a campaign to raise funds to cover legal costs. He also hit out at the BPI when it indicated that legal action would personally target him and five other party members - though the BPI told Wired that this was because the Pirate Party UK hasn't been set up as a standalone legal entity which can be sued, so personally naming its leaders was the only option.

Either way, it seems likely that the case will not now proceed, because the proxy has been taken down. In a statement, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor told CMU: "We asked Pirate Party UK to remove the proxy because The Pirate Bay is an illegal site that is undermining the growth of legal digital music services. We believe its executives should respect the law, and the basic right of creative people to be paid for their work. There are many fantastic digital music services that make it simple to get music legally online. This outcome will help ensure that this new digital sector in the UK can grow, continue to innovate for music fans, and create more UK jobs".

Responding, Frances Nash of legal firm Ralli said on behalf of the Pirate Party yesterday: "Despite attempts by elected members to resolve this situation, the law at present is clear and makes any decision to continue hosting the proxy untenable. This is not the outcome the party wanted, however any challenge to this proposed action would make it financially impossible for the party to deal with other issues for which they actively campaign on a daily basis. The Pirate Party strongly believe that site blocking is both disproportionate and ineffective and will continue to lobby for digital rights and their wider manifesto".

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Kim 'Dotcom' Schmitz will be running his new Mega venture, recording terrible pop songs and merrily tweeting jibes at Hollywood studio bosses and American politicians until at least next summer, following news that the MegaUpload founder's extradition hearing is to be postponed yet again.

As much previously reported, the US is trying to extradite Dotcom and three other former MegaUpload execs living in New Zealand to face charges of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement in relation to their involvement in the now defunct file-transfer business.

The extradition case had been originally due to reach court last August, but was pushed pack into spring 2013 after it was revealed that New Zealand police raided Dotcom's home using the wrong kind of permit, that they broke laws by letting US officials take evidence seized in that raid back to America, and that the country's intelligence bureau spied on Dotcom and his colleagues before the raid without the required clearances from the powers that be.

Legal reps for Dotcom told reporters yesterday that the extradition hearing had now been postponed again, and would not take place until August 2013, a whole year on from the original hearing dates. No specific reasons have been given for the latest delay.

Dotcom et al deny the charges made against them and, while occasionally indicating a desire to be vindicated in the American courts, have also had their lawyers play with various legal technicalities which, they reckon, mean the US government should not be allowed to pursue its case against the Mega company, or extradite its former bosses. Meanwhile Dotcom plans to launch an all-new Mega service next month, a year to the day that the US authorities took the original Mega offline.

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A twelve year legal battle over a two second sample has come to an end in Germany. Kraftwerk sued songwriters Moses Pelham and Martin Haas over a decade ago, claiming that the two men infringed one of their sound recording copyrights by sampling, without permission, two seconds of their 1970s track 'Metall Auf Metall' in a 1990s song the defendants created with rapper Sabrina Setlur called 'Nur Mir'.

The case has bounced around the courts system for years, with a lower court siding with Kraftwerk, then an appeal court with Pelham and Haas, and then Germany's Supreme Court ordering the Hamburg courts to reconsider the case a new.

According to The Economist's coverage of the final stage of the dispute, the big debate wasn't whether or not Pelham and Haas had used a snippet of a Kraftwerk track without permission, but whether or not that constituted copyright infringement under German law.

The Economist says that, in the end, the German court decided that the unauthorised sample should constitute copyright infringement providing it could be proven that the songwriters sampling the original track could have created the desired sounds in another way, so nicked the sample out of laziness rather than artistic necessity. Cue experts from Team Kraftwerk showing how, by crashing metal on metal, or employing a 1996 Akai Sampler, Pelham and Haas could have made a new sound equivalent to that they nicked. And so the court found in favour of the electro legends.

It's an interesting development in German copyright law that could set a legal precedent in the country, albeit one hindered with the rather grey area that is "could the accused have reasonably been expected to recreate the sound?" Though we are reliant on The Economist's interpretation of the German court hearing for now, until a full written judgement is published in the new year.

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Tom Odell has been named the 2013 BRITs Critics' Choice, beating the two other shortlisted artists, AlunaGeorge and Laura Mvula, to the prize. He's the first male to win the honour since its introduction in 2008.

Says Odell of winning the journalists-voted award: "I'm thrilled and honoured to win the BRITs Critics' Choice Award. I genuinely can't believe it. Thank you so much. Looking at the list of amazing female artists who have won the award already, I just hope I don't let the boys down!"

Elsewhere in BRITs news, and another new prize. Awards organisers announced last week the launch of a new Special Recognition Award, with the first being given to the War Child charity. And this morning another new category was announced, the Global Success Award, which will be given to the British act with the highest international sales achieved in 2012 (ie sales excluding the UK). The award for Best British Live Act is also being reinstated, appearing for the first time since 2009.

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Within an hour of us reporting yesterday that 'X-Factor' winner James Arthur was ahead in the Christmas number one chart race, the Official Charts Company did some more counting, taking into account the very latest sales data, and revealed that as of yesterday lunchtime the all-star cover of 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother', released under the moniker The Justice Collective and in aid of the Hillsborough families' legal fund, was now in the lead.

As of this morning 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' has sold 146,000 copies so far this week, whereas Arthur's 'Impossible' has shifted 132,000 units. This puts the Justice Collective 14,000 sales ahead, a considerable boost from the gap of just 3000 yesteday.

Nevertheless, OCC boss Martin Talbot told CMU: "This really is the closest number one battle we can remember - even closer than the legendary 2009 battle between Rage Against The Machine and Joe McElderry. The poll concludes at midnight on Saturday night, so there is a long way to go yet - but this one looks like going down to the wire".

Chancellor Of The Exchequer George Osborne yesterday announced that he was waving the VAT on the Justice Collective release, meaning there will be more money to go into the pot to help pay the legal fees of the families who lost family members in the 1989 Hillsborough Tragedy.

The Chancellor's announcement came as the High Court in London quashed the controversial verdict originally reached in 1991 of 'accidental death' for the 96 Liverpool fans who died at the Hillsborough football ground in 1989. Home Secretary Theresa May also announced a new police investigation into the causes of the disaster, given the recent report that debunked some of the original claims made by authorities in relation to the incident.

Confirming the VAT break, Osborne said: "These families have been campaigning for justice for almost 24 years. It's been a long journey so I'm pleased to be able to say the government will effectively waive the VAT on sales of the Hillsborough single, ensuring that as much money as possible goes towards helping these families".

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Forbes has compiled its annual lists of people younger than 30 years old who are influential in various fields. The list of the 30 most influential people under 30 years old in music is, perhaps unsurprisingly, topped by Adele. Avicci is in second place, ahead of Justin Bieber in third.

It's also interesting to note that, apparently, Marcus Mumford on his own is more influential that all of One Direction put together. The list is mainly dominated by artists, but there are some business types in there too, led by Spotify CEO Daniel Ek at number six and Matt Jones of Crowdsurge at ten. While Sam Tarantino and Josh Greenberg of Grooveshark are at 28 - well, they've certainly done their bit keeping the music industry's lawyers nice and busy this year.

The full list is as follows:

1. Adele
2. Avicii
3. Justin Beiber
4. Benny Bianco
5. Drake
6. Daniel Ek - Spotify
7. Lady Gaga
8. Skylar Grey
9. Calvin Harris
10. Matt Jones - Crowdsurge
11. Ke$ha
12. Wiz Khalifa
13. Adam Kluger - Adam Kluger PR
14. Kendrick Lamar
15. Mahbod Moghadam, Ilan Zechory, Tom Lehman - Rap Genius
16. Bruno Mars
17. Mac Miller
18. Marcus Mumford
19. Frank Ocean
20. One Direction
21. Katy Perry
22. Delta Rae
23. Rihanna
24. Elias Roman, Peter Asbill, Elliott Breece, Eric Davich - Songza
25. James Sider - BandPage
26. Skrillex
27. Taylor Swift
28. Sam Tarantino and Josh Greenberg - Grooveshark
29. Alex White - Next Big Sound
30. Sara Winter - Messina Group/AEG Live

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Work on Tool's fifth album, the follow-up to 2006's '10,000 Days', continues to progress slowly, and the band may now be as far as halfway through the writing process, according to the latest edition of their email newsletter.

In a message to fans, the band's webmaster wrote: "Something that might be encouraging to some Tool enthusiasts is that while riding with Danny [Carey, drums] to Chili John's yesterday, I heard a lot of new Tool music (sans Maynard [James Keenan, vocals]). This was the most new material that I've heard so far, although a few of the riffs and arrangements were familiar. So, what did I think? Dare I say that it sounded like... Tool (some of it reminiscent to earlier Tool stuff, with other parts pushing the envelope), and I assume that it will sound even more like Tool once the vocal melodies, etc have been added".

He added: "To answer your next question, I cannot say how far along in the writing process the band is. If I had to GUESS, I would say more than half way (and keep in mind that in the past, at least, the writing went faster once the first few more complex songs were finished)".

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The recently CMU approved Wavves' new LP will - unlike the band's others, which are more "lo-fi noise-punk" (or so says Rolling Stone) - feature traces of the experimental rap genre, with added glockenspiel and cello. We know this because of chatter from Wavves' Nathan Williams, who also revealed that all this musical experimentation is giving him chronic liver poisoning. So that's nice.

Talking about incorporating a hip hop 'sound' into his still-untitled new record, Williams says: "The idea of that was interesting to me, to see if it could mix. Just make it seem like it should be there".

He adds: "Every time that we record something I want it to sound different than previous efforts. It's definitely a different pace than anything we've ever put out before".

And: "This past year has ruined my liver. I drank more during the recording process than I've ever drank".

Nice. According to RS, the LP is tentatively set to be released on 25 Mar 2013.

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That Jamie T is back doing things again, and features as a guest voice on a new version of American punk band Rancid's 1998 track 'Wrongful Suspicion'.

Rancid say this of part-time rapper T, who's apparently making a third studio LP of his own at the moment: "When we were in London, we asked our good friend Jamie T to be our guest on this version of 'Wrongful Suspicion'. It's always fun being with Jamie, and playing music together, whenever we are lucky enough, and the planets decide to line up".

Hear the track now, if you like.

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So, the Flaming Lips want to release a "freaky" new concert film, and who am I to say 'no'. The band are set to share feature-length footage of the free 'Freak Night' show they played at the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre, so watch a predictably freaky and NSFW preview clip of that in the meantime.

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Having announced February 2013 tour dates back in October, Conor O'Brien, aka Villagers, has now added a second show at Village Underground to the end of the tour because he is just so flippin popular with those Londoners. As well as playing at the Shoreditch venue on 20 Feb, he and his band will now also play there on 21 Feb too.

The second Villagers album, 'Awayland', is due for release on 14 Jan. You can watch a live studio performance of second single 'Nothing Arrived' here.

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The great Roots Manuva is to play a single live show in honour of his new EP 'Banana Skank', as will be released by Big Dada in January. He and his Banana Klan entourage will appear at London's Koko on 16 Mar.

Buy tickets to see the Koko set via this page, and listen to 'Banana Skank' peel 'Natural' here.

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Following the news that the No Direction Home festival will take a year off in 2013, the longer running Summer Sundae event in Leicester has announced that it will do the same.

In a statement on the event's website, organisers said: "After much consideration we have decided it's best for Summer Sundae Weekender to take a year off and as such there will be no Summer Sundae at De Montfort Hall in 2013".

They continued: "We have taken this decision against the backdrop of a very difficult year for festivals in 2012. The Olympics, the recession and the weather have created a perfect storm leaving many independent festivals struggling to survive. We feel it's a good idea to take the next year to look at different models and fresh ideas to bring the festival back for 2014 and beyond".

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Finland was announced as the focus country for the 2013 edition of Eurosonic in The Netherlands way back in May, and now export agency Music Finland has announced seventeen acts it will be taking to the festival next month. It's an excellent selection too, featuring CMU approved acts LCMDF, Rubik and Siinai, plus Sin Cos Tan, Phantoms and former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe, amongst others. A playlist of all the acts is available here.

Also in announcing mood is the Isle Of Wight Festival, which has just added Emili Sandé, Ben Howard, Laura Mvula, Lianne Le Havas, Palma Violets and more to it bill, which, as previously announce, is to be headlined by The Killers, Bon Jovi and The Stone Roses.

EUROSONIC NOORDERSLAG, Groningen, The Netherlands, 9-12 Jan 2013: French Films, Acid Symphony Orchestra, Death Hawks, Phantom, Eva & Manu, Lau Nau, LCMDF, Mesak, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, Satellite Stories, Sin Cos Tan, Siinai, Michael Monroe, Rubik, Disco Ensemble, Huoratron, Don Johnson Big Band.

ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight, 13-16 Jun: Emeli Sandé, Ben Howard, Laura Mvula, Newton Faulkner, Palma Violets, Lianne La Havas, Willy Moon, Young Guns, Kids In Glass House, Tracer, The Levellers, Hugh Cornwell, Steve Forbert, The Blockheads, Stackridge.

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Fabric has announced the launch of a new record label offshoot, Houndstooth. The company will be run by the same team as the company's existing label, Fabric Records, with Electronic Explorations founder Rob Booth in charge of A&R. The label's first release will be an EP from Call Super, with releases from Δkkord, Al Tourettes, _Unsubscribe_ and King Cannibal's new project House Of Black Lanterns also planned.

Booth told FACT: "We felt like we're in a position where we can offer a great platform for artists, just like we have done for DJs over the years with the Fabric label. There's a real wealth of musical knowledge and enthusiasm that surrounds the people and the day-to-day running of the club and the Fabric label and now, having joined the team myself back in September, it feels like we're all motivated to take things in a new direction".

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After a year of undeniably rapid expansion, streaming music service Deezer has today launched a new ad-supported freemium service in 150 markets, which will offer access to the platform's large catalogue of music for free.

Previously Deezer offered a fifteen day free trial of its premium service, and 30 second song clips beyond that, but has not previously attempted a full-on freemium offer in the Spotify mould. Unlimited free listening will be available to new users for a year, after which a two-hours-listening-per-month limit will be put in place. Throughout users will also be able to try out the full ad-free mobile-compliant premium version for a month for free.

The all-new freemium Deezer seems likely to be primarily a promotional platform through which to upsell the premium product. While Spotify initially positioned its ad-funded offer as a standalone service and, ultimately, revenue generator, in reality it has become a suck-it-and-see component through which the company can try and persuade users into upgrading to a proper subscription. And while freemium can be costly to run, it has helped Spotify grow its premium user base at a much faster rate than most of its competitors.

Confirming the launch of free-to-use Deezer in the UK, the company's MD here, Mark Foster, told CMU: "This is an extremely exciting development for Deezer which puts us at the forefront of music discovery for all music fans in the UK. It will offer an incredibly easy to use service that encourages everyone, everywhere to enjoy music legally, to explore new music and discover new artists from across the globe".

Deezer also announced this morning that its service now has three million paying subscribers worldwide, who each listen on average to about 60 hours of music per month. The company has also launched a new initiative called Deezer4Artists, which will make it easier for artists and labels to control their presence on the streaming platform, to upload extra bits of content, and to access analytics related to their content.

Artists will also be encouraged to use the recently launched Deezer App Studio to make their own apps for use on the Deezer platform, while plans are afoot to follow the lead of another rival, Rdio, in offering incentives to artists who help sign up new premium users.

Commenting on his firm's latest round of announcements, Deezer CEO Axel Dauchez said: "Deezer has a proven track record of profitability and sustainability. Now we're embarking upon the next stage in our journey towards becoming known to households around the world. Our ad-supported service is a necessary trigger to drive global change by bringing music subscription to mass audiences worldwide. Our aim here is to encourage music fans to try us, driving ad-supported service listeners to switch to paid subscription over time. Once they have properly experienced Deezer, people do not go back".

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Part of the settlement one time N-Dubber Tulisa Contostavlos reached with former boyfriend Justin Edward, in relation to his publishing a sex tape featuring the couple, was that he was not allowed to appear in reality TV shows, according to The Sun.

As previously reported, the sex video surfaced online in March, via a website selling the six minute recording for $5.99 a download, but was quickly taken down after the singer and 'X-Factor' judge gained a court order. Edwards initially denied involvement, but later admitted responsibility in court in July. Details of the two parties' subsequent settlement were not revealed at the time, though it seemingly included no financial payment to Tulisa.

The Sun reports that Tulisa's lawyers recently became aware that producers of 'Celebrity Big Brother' had asked Edwards to take part in the next series, and got in touch with them to point out that he was prohibited from doing so.

A spokesman for Edwards did not comment directly on the claim but told The Sun that "reality TV is not his bag and it is not something he would want to do".

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Ke$ha has claimed that she was "forced" to sing recent single 'Die Young'. The song plummeted out of the charts and was pulled by many US radio stations last weekend following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Discussing the song and its new found controversy, Ke$ha said in a series of tweets this week, some of which have been deleted: "I understand. I had my very own issue with 'Die Young' for this reason. I did NOT want to sing those lyrics and I was FORCED TO. It's beyond words what has happened ... I'm so so so sorry for anyone who has been affected by this tragedy and I understand why my song is now inappropriate. Words cannot express [what I feel]".

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If there's one dance that will be remembered long after 2012 has shut up shop and gone to sit quietly in a corner, it's Psy's horsey dance from the 'Gangnam Style' video. Everyone's been doing it. Even Barack Obama. Except he's had to stop now, because the ladies can't handle it.

In a recent interview with US radio station WZID FM, Obama said: "I just saw that video for the first time... I think I can do that move. I'm not sure that [next month's] inauguration ball is the appropriate time to break that out. Maybe do it privately for Michelle".

It seems he did, and she wasn't amused, because Psy, who recently met the president at a charity event in Washington, told The Hollywood Reporter: "He told me he's good at 'Gangnam Style' but that the ladies at his house are embarrassed when he's dancing so he's not doing it".

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