30 JAN 2013

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Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, aka Widowspeak, released their eponymous debut album in 2011, drawing on a range of influences from 1950s pop to 1970s psych. For their second album, 'Almanac' (out now via Captured Tracks), the pair delved further into North and South American music of yesteryear, pulling them together and arranging them into something that makes sense in 2013. We asked Earl Thomas to put together a playlist for us more>>
Formed in 2008, This Is Head released their debut album, '0001', in 2010. It saw them attempt, mostly successfully, to blend krautrock, indie rock and disco. A generally upbeat, fun record, it had moments where the band allowed their darker influences to take hold more, such as on standout track, '0011'. Due to release their second album, 'The Album ID', on 27 Mar, the first track to appear from it, 'A B Version', sees them heading down that darker route again. At least at first more>>

- Concerns raised about AEG's expansion in London
- Ray Charles' family win legal battle with Foundation
- 50 Cent reckons Ross drive-by a set up
- Brian Welch rejoins Korn for live dates
- Jamie N Commons signs to KIDinaKORNER
- MGMT talk weird new LP, June release, alien parasites
- Eric Clapton to release Old Sock
- Wavves give new record release date
- Peace share LP info
- Smashing Pumpkins to tour Oceania
- A$AP Rocky adds $how$
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra set new dates
- Festival line-up update
- Rejigs and redundancies as Universal/EMI consolidation continues
- See Tickets faces union dispute as it withdraws from trade group
- Björk launches Kickstarter campaign to extend app availability
- Bieber accused of boob grab in fan photo
- O'Connor calls on Gallaghers to make up, claims Noel once proposed
- Styles provides cheeky message for pap's daughter
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The Office Of Fair Trading is investigating plans to award AEG the management contract at the Wembley Arena, it has been revealed.

The live music giant quietly won the Wembley deal late last year, replacing Live Nation as managers of the North London arena. But, according to The Guardian, the new contract is yet to be signed and sealed, and concerns have been expressed - presumably by AEG's rivals - that the US-owned live entertainment firm is becoming too dominant in the capital.

While in global terms Live Nation is a bigger live entertainment promoter than AEG Live, the wider Anschutz Entertainment Group has become increasingly dominant in London in recent years. Last summer it acquired one of the capital's bigger theatre venues in the Hammersmith Apollo and last November announced it had secured the rights to stage concerts in Hyde Park.

But of most relevance to the Wembley deal is the fact that AEG operates The O2 and the arena that sites under the former Millennium Dome. Once it is managing the Wembley Arena, that would put the company in charge of the capital's two main arena venues, as well as the Apollo, often the 'stepping stone venue' for bands and comedians looking to move from theatres to arenas.

The OFT investigation will look at whether the proposed Wembley deal will lead to a "substantial lessening of competition" within London's live music market. If the OFT decides there are legitimate concerns, it could refer the AEG/Wembley deal to the Competition Commission.

AEG's main rival Live Nation's growth in London caused concerns at the OFT back in 2007 when it acquired a slice of the Academy Music Group. Regulators forced the live music firm to sell the Hammersmith Apollo and London Forum (both to MAMA) in order to get approval for their AMG deal.

Commenting on the new concerns about AEG's dominance in London, one live industry source told The Guardian: "If AEG have control of the management of the two biggest venues there is of course the issue that they could look to impose ticket price increases, and exert more control over the artists and types of events".

It's not clear how quickly the OFT will rule on the matter. AEG, of course, is currently up for sale, with top man Tim Leiweke recently saying that the sale process was moving along nicely.

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The Ray Charles Foundation has lost in its legal battle against the late soul star's children, though it has pledged to appeal the ruling.

As previously reported, the heirs of Charles have issued a termination notice to the publisher of the singer's songs, Warner/Chappell, exercising a right under US law that gives songwriters the option to reclaim copyrights, previously assigned by contract to a publisher, after 35 years. It's a right that is only just coming into effect, and some legalities around it are still to be tested in court.

The main issue is what happens if a publisher claims that a song was written as a 'work for hire', ie the publishing firm hired the songwriter to pen a track, rather than the songwriter creating the work and then assigning the rights in it to a corporate entity by contract. Arguably in the work for hire scenario the reclaim option does not apply.

The Ray Charles Foundation is currently the beneficiary of its founders' copyrights, ie the songwriter's royalty is paid to the Foundation by Warner/Chappell. If the family take back the copyrights, they essentially cut off the charity's income stream.

The charity claims that the family attempting to take ownership of Charles' copyright breaks an agreement reached between the singer and his children before his death in 2004. However, they originally tried to block the family's actions by claiming Charles wrote some of his songs on a work for hire basis, so the reclaim option was not relevant. But Charles's children successfully argued that if that was the case, only Warner/Chappell could try to block their termination notice, not the Foundation.

The charity subsequently changed its position on the status of Charles's songs. Which probably didn't help their case when the specific Foundation v Family case came to court. And a court has now found in the family's favour.

But the Foundation is not giving up yet, insisting it is acting according to Charles's own wishes prior to his death. The charity's President Valerie Ervin told reporters: "The very clear and unmistakable intention of both Ray Charles and all his children [when making a 2002 agreement] was that, in exchange for a substantial payment, the children were not to raise any claims against their father's estate. The children who filed these termination notices violated the sacred promise they made. They took their father's money and now come back for more".

She added: "The law is very unsettled in these matters and we intend to seek resolution through the courts. Meanwhile, The Foundation will continue its substantial charitable works as intended by Mr Charles. Ray Charles never let anything stand in the way of his work and The Foundation continues with his legacy".

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50 Cent has accused rival rapper Rick Ross of staging the drive-by shooting that occurred in Florida earlier this week. As previously reported, Ross was seemingly targeted by gunmen as he drove in his Rolls Royce with his girlfriend Shateria L Moragne-el near his home in Fort Lauderdale.

Despite initial reports that the rapper's car had been hit, and that the attack had cause Ross to crash the vehicle into a wall, it subsequently transpired that Ross, Moragne-el and the Rolls all escaped pretty much unscathed. Though it was reported that windows of nearby buildings had been smashed by bullets, and photos showed that the Rolls had swerved into some bushes.

However, the ever sympathetic 50 Cent reckons the lack of bullet holes in his rival's car (not to mention in his rival) probably means the whole thing was a PR stunt to up Ross's street cred. Tweeting on the incident, Fiddy said on Monday: "Hahaha fat boy hit the building? It looks staged to me. No holes in da car".

Of course Fiddy and Ross have been beefing for some time.

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Guitarist Brian 'Head' Welch has rejoined Korn, at least for a string of upcoming live shows. Welch originally left the band in 2005 after a struggle with drug addiction led him to find Christianity, deciding that the band's output didn't chime with his new found beliefs. It's a reunion that has been some time in the making though. Word first reached the band that Welch wanted back in 2009, and in May last year he performed one song with them at the Carolina Rebellion Festival.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Welch said that he'd been at the festival with his daughter and happened to bump into Korn's other guitarist, James 'Munky' Schaffer, explaining: "I hadn't seen [him] in seven years, and talked with him for 30 minutes. It was really heavy. Then, ten minutes before they went on stage, [bassist] Fieldy is like, 'I'm just saying, we have a guitar set up for you'. I'm like, 'What? I just want to see you guys! Alright, I'll play 'Blind''. It was just crazy, because it was really emotional. That's what set it up. Munky called me a month after that, and he said, 'Hey, if you ever want to come back, the door's open. We miss you'".

Warming to, and perhaps going a bit overboard with his theme, he continued: "Everyone is broken in this world. There's so much divorce, hate and unforgiveness. For people to see this, I think it's just really uplifting. I never thought it would happen, and I'm not sure they did either. The fans just love it, because a lot of the fans back in the day were like, suicidal, and from broken homes and abuse. They looked up to us like their family. And to see their family split up was hard on them. To get it put back together, there is a joy around the people who care about it".

However, it's not clear at this stage how long the reunion will last, as Welch is still working with his new band Love And Death, which he formed last year. He said: "We're going slow. We're hanging out when I've got time, but I've got my [own] album out, and they're busy doing their stuff. But I'd say anything is possible right now".

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Bluesy singer-songwriter Jamie N Commons has signed to Universal in the US, via a deal with producer Alex Da Kid's KIDinaKORNER label, which is a subsidiary of Interscope. In the UK his music will be released through Universal's Fiction Records. I hope you're keeping up with this. Well, even if you're not, you'll be able to get hold of Commons' new EP this spring - there's no way they can stop you.

Says Alex Da Kid of the deal: "Every so often you are introduced to an artist that transcends time. Jamie N Commons is such an artist. I am pleased to welcome Jamie N Commons to the KIDinaKORNER/Interscope family".

A brand new Jamie N Commons track is currently soundtracking the trailer for the new series of US TV show 'The Walking Dead', having been written exclusively for the show. You can hear/see that here.

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When last we saw MGMT, they were craving the approval of baby cats by playing them their new music. Since said baby cats didn't look pleased - at all - to hear it, the band's Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden have instead played it to Rolling Stone journalist David Browne, who's apparently less discerning than a kitten.

According to Browne's RS article, Goldwasser and WanWyngarden (minus the live band they collaborated with on 2010's 'Congratulations') have been "holed up in a woodsy cabin ... cherry-picking the best parts of their free-form jams to construct tracks that reflect the Aphex Twin and house records they've been listening to". The very tentative date by which that may all be released is a tba day in June.

"We're not trying to make music that everyone understands the first time they hear it", says Goldwasser of the new record, whilst VanWyngarden adds: "There's no illusion on [our label's] part that we're going to turn into a top 40 band. That's kind of comforting".

Well, it's nice that he's being realistic re Maroon 5-style chart popularity, especially given that one of the tracks that may/may not feature on the LP, 'Alien Days', is "about that feeling when a parasitic alien is in your head, controlling things".

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Eric Clapton is releasing 'Old Sock', a covers compilation that also features a pair of new tracks of his own devising, on 11 Mar. Alongside the original songs, 'Every Little Thing' and 'Gotta Get Over', the likes of Paul McCartney, Chaka Khan, blues great JJ Cale and Clapton's ex-Blind Faith pal Steve Winwood will guest on some of his covers.

Details and a tracklisting are available here.

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Hey, the CMU Approved Wavves have illuminated us all on what their hip hop and woodblock-featuring new LP will look/sound like when it's released on 25 Mar.

The band's Nathan Williams defines the tone of 'Afraid Of Heights', thematically a less positive record than his last one 'King Of The Beach', as one of "depression and anxiety, being death-obsessed and paranoid of impending doom".

He adds: "I feel like the narration is almost schizophrenic if you listen front to back; every word is important, even the constant contradictions and lack of self-worth. That's all a part of this record-questioning everything not because I'm curious, but because I'm paranoid".

Below is its tracklisting, and here is a track it mentions, 'Demon To Lean On':

Sail To The Sun
Demon To Lean On
Lunge Forward
Afraid Of Heights
Beat Me Up
Everything Is My Fault
That's On Me
Gimme a Knife
I Can't Dream

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Alt-pop pacifists Peace have just loosed a flock of white doves (okay, a press release) to say that they're releasing their first LP ever, a ten-track titled 'In Love', via Sony/Columbia on 17 Mar.

But what does the quartet's Harrison Koisser have to say about that, and falling 'In Love' in general? Well, this, actually: "If watching thousands of romantic movies and singing billions of love songs throughout our lives hasn't left us thinking that getting really, really in love is something we want, need, hate or don't give an F ['a fuck'] about then maybe 'In Love' is about to. I guess as an album it feels like an antidote or something. I'm not sure what for but can you really be sure about anything? It's 2013 and it's time to find out".

Yes, that it is. Now, in the loving spirit of giving and sharing, please have an 'In Love' tracklisting and YouTube player featuring a new re-taping of Peace's 2012 single, 'Follow Baby':

Higher Than The Sun
Follow Baby
Float Forever
Waste Of Paint
California Daze

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Bald Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins are touring in the strange wake of their new 'LP-within-an-LP', 'Oceania', soon. Word is they'll be deploying "new technology in video mapping to create something new and previously unseen", so that's nice.

The band have just released the applicable dates for us all to look at, so, for Billy's sake, do so now. They'll go on sale Friday at 9am.

1 Jul: Manchester, Academy
2 Jul: Glasgow, Academy
22 Jul: London, Wembley Arena

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Rapper A$AP Rocky is to take his recently-released LP, 'LongLiveA$AP', for a Britain-based spin. In related news, Rocky's Skrillex-featuring new single 'Wild For The Night' will be in shops from 25 Feb.

Bypassing any additional info on that, it's straight to the dates:

22 May: London, Brixton Academy
23 May: Birmingham, Institute
25 May: Manchester, Academy 1
26 May: Glasgow, ABC

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Psych wizards of NZ Unknown Mortal Orchestra have promised to play lots of shows to coincide with their appearances at Liverpool Sound City, Live At Leeds and ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror in May. If only so they have something new to show off, the band will release new LP 'II' on 4 Feb.
This is UMO's Ruban Nielson playing one of its tracks, 'Faded In The Morning', for The Fly:

Tour dates:

1 May: Glasgow, King Tuts
2 May: Dublin, Academy 2
6 May: Manchester, Deaf Institute
7 May: Bristol, Thekla
8 May: Birmingham, Temple Room
16 May: London, Village Underground

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Several of today's FLUUs are Yorkshire-based, as it happens, so why not start with those.

First, alphabetically, is indie-fest Beacons, as has just named Django Django, Eats Everything, Egyptian Hip Hop, Floating Points and David Rodigan amid its very nice initial 'phase' of artist additions. Meanwhile, Leeds' city-central pop/rock do Live At...well, Leeds, oozes allure via guest players like AlunaGeorge, Peace, King Krule, Laura Mvula... and Darwin Deez. Likewise - in terms of being in Yorkshire, that is - this year's familial and machine-themed Deer Shed ensigns its first names; specifically Willy Mason, The Milk, solo Supergrass man Gaz Coombes... and Darwin Deez (again). The kids really love Darwin Deez.

Keeping far away from Yorkshire (and Darwin Deez) this FLUU season is Oslo's Øya, which - according to a list of its new bookings - is to host Slayer, Azealia Banks, Disclosure and Alabama Shakes alongside Blur, Angel Haze, HAIM and co.

Also worth a mention, is that Finland's Flow Festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is offering a 10% discount of tickets to UK residents. The festival announced its first run of acts last week, including The Knife, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Solange, Azealia Banks and Of Monsters And Men. More ticket details available here.

Now to a summation of all the above line-up announcements, plus new info on Turkish dance delight Sunsplash Antalya and sleepless Dutch stay-over Motel Mozaique:

BEACONS, Funkirk Estate, Carleton, North Yorkshire, 16-18 Aug: Django Django, Theo Parrish, Moon Duo, Floating Points, David Rodigan, Ben UFO, Egyptian Hip Hop, Oneman, Eats Everything, Bicep, Dutch Uncles, Machine Drum, Bondax, Esben And The Witch, Andres, Chad Valley, Channel One Soundsystem, Move D (DJ set), Jon K, Hookworms, Childhood, Temples, Drenge, Wolf Alice, Jaws, Thumpers.

DEER SHED, Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, 19-21 Jul: Darwin Deez, The Milk, Willy Mason, Gaz Coombes, The Unthanks, Public Service Broadcasting, To Kill A King, Zervas And Pepper, Kitty The Lion, Blue Rose Code, Gaz Coombes, Marconi Union, Tubular Bells For Two.

LIVE AT LEEDS, various venues, Leeds, 3-5 May: AlunaGeorge, Darwin Deez
Everything Everything, Little Comets, Peace, Rudimental, The Pigeon Detectives, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Staves, Tribes, Arlissa, King Krule, Laura Mvula, Lewis Watson, Ryan Keen, Soley, Swim Deep, The 1975, The Crookes, The Neighbourhood, Theme Park, Wave Machines, Battle Lines, Blackeye, Charles Bruno, Charlie Straw, China Rats, Dan Croll, Dancing Years, Department M, Fawn Spots, George Ezra, Happy Daggers, Harry George Johns, Hudson Taylor, Hunting Bears, Indiana, Jacob Banks, Jagwar Ma, Joe Banfi, Joel Baker, Jordan Allen, Marika Hackman, Marsicans, Nick Mulvey, Ofei, Pete Roe, Peter & Kerry, Post War Glamour Girls, Roo Panes, Saint Raymond, Sam Smith, Seasfire, Sj Bravo, Skaters, Sons And Lovers, Sweet Baboo, Swimming Lessons, The Family Rain, The Glass Caves, The Grand, The Struts, Thomas J Speight, We Were Frontiers, Witch Hunt, Yadi.

MOTEL MOZAIQUE, various venues, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 5-6 Apr: John Grant, AlunaGeorge, Daughter, Sinkane, Stornoway, Jah Wobble & The Modern, Matthew E White, Jazz Ensemble, Brasstronaut, Ethan Johns, Submotion Orchestra, Valgeir Sigurdsson, TEEN, Jaga Jazzist & Sinfonia Rotterdam, The Growlers, Daley, José James, Retro Stefson, The Broken Brass Ensemble, Rocketnumbermine, Jacco Gardner, Marble Sounds, Jagwar Ma, The Milk Carton Kids, Night Works.

ØYA, Gamlebyen, Oslo, Norway, 6-10 Aug: Slayer, Alabama Shakes, Azealia Banks, Disclosure, Jupiter Bokondji & Okwess International, Atlanter, Kvelertak, Metz.

SUNSPLASH ANTALYA, Hillside Su Hotel, Antalya, Turkey, 2-9 Jun: Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, Kirk Degiorgio, Koreless, Phil Asher, Rainer Trueby, Martin 'AtJazz' Iveson, Lefto, Ahu, Zaf Chowdhry, Djsoulprovyder.

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More rejigs, revamps and redundancies have been incoming this week as Universal Music properly absorbs the record company formerly known as EMI.

First to Latin America, and Mexico where two former EMI execs have been given senior roles overseeing the combined Universal/EMI operations in the country. Alfredo Delgadillo, formerly Commercial & Music Services Director at EMI Mexico, will become GM of the combined Universal Music Mexico company, while EMI marketing man Fernando Grediaga becomes Marketing Director for the consolidated business.

The new appointments follow the departures of the former chiefs of both EMI and Universal in the country, EMI's Robbie Lear and Universal's José Puig. The former plans to extend his education work, and also launch a new venture in partnership with Universal. The latter is said to be departing the music major for "personal reasons".

Elsewhere within the Universal Music Latin America division, Universal man Manuel Peña becomes MD of the firm's business in the Andean Region (Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru), Central America and the Caribbean, while EMI man Ernesto Vicente becomes SVP Strategic Marketing for the entire Latin America unit.

Over in Australia, the Universal/EMI merger has also come into effect this week, following the departure earlier this month of Mark Poston, Chairman of EMI Australia.

It's thought Universal will retain an EMI label within its Australian business, with some EMI A&Rs and marketers staying within that unit. Other EMI staffers may be offered roles in Universal labels, while back office functions will be merged into their equivalent UMG departments. Overall, though, it is thought around 20 EMI employees will be let go.

And finally back to the US, where the former flagship EMI label, Capitol, now a Universal division being led by Steve Barnett, has appointed long-term Universal exec Todd von Mende to the role of Chief Financial Officer.

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See Tickets, the UK ticketing company formerly owned by Andew Lloyd Webber's company but now controlled by Universal Music parent Vivendi, is facing a strike in a dispute with union BECTU over working conditions at the ticketing agency, according to The Stage.

It seems the dispute between See Tickets and the union, which represents technical staff across the media and entertainment industries, began last October. See has now given notice that it wishes to terminate its voluntary recognition of the union, and the organisation's right to negotiate collectively for its members on employment issues.

BECTU Supervisory Official Patrick Styles says that concerns were initially raised last year about the workload being placed on See employees and the environment in which staff worked. Unimpressed with the response of management to those concerns to date, Styles said last week that if no movement could be made in the near future regards the issues raised he would ballot union members about striking.

He told The Stage: "I met with members and reported the unreasonable and unhelpful stance taken by See Tickets about refusing to enter into constructive dialogue, instead giving three months' notice of withdrawing from the voluntary recognition agreement. Members were shocked to hear that their senior management was not interested in discussing the legitimate concerns they have raised, and it was unanimously agreed that I should pursue these matters further".

See's dispute with BECTU comes as the company has also decided not to renew is membership of the Society Of Ticket Agents And Retailers, the ticketing sector's trade body, that also operates a code of conduct which it says reassures ticket buyers that their interests will be protected. STAR's Jonathan Brown told The Stage: "I don't know what the reasons are for them not signing up, but it seems a real pity when the code is there to help protect consumers and they are not participating in it".

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Björk has launched a campaign on fan-funding site Kickstarter in a bid to make the apps that featured in the iPad version of her 2011 album 'Biophilia' available on more platforms.

When the multimedia version of her last album was originally launched in 2011, the singer came in for some criticism for only making the apps available via Apple's iOS operating system. However, she said at the time that because the software was open source she expected hackers to find a way to make them available on other systems (presumably because, while that's not legal, the budget wasn't there for her to do it herself).

However, that never happened and since then Björk has been promoting the apps as educational tools to teach children about music and science, and says that she now wants to extent that not-for-profit project by making the applications available on more devices. Via the Kickstarter campaign, Bjork hopes to launch Android and Windows 8 compatible versions, and also apps for use on Mac computers.

Says the lady herself: "The Biophilia Educational Programme is a new way to teach children about science and music. It has met with success in many cities, sparking interest from kids and educators from all over the world, from South America to East Asia to Africa. The most interest has come from students from low-income households and schools with underfunded art budgets, and the only way to bring the project to those people is to have Biophilia reprogrammed for Android and Windows 8. The Biophilia educational project is strictly non-profit and volunteer-based, and that's why we need your help".

Aside from the warm glow of supporting a not-for-profit educational initiative, Björk is offering those who support her scheme via Kickstarter early access to the Android apps, t-shirts and DVDs and, for those who donate more than £800, VIP tickets to forthcoming 'Biophilia' live shows.

More info here.

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Poor Justin Bieber can't do anything right lately. First there was the dope smoking photos, then he was accused of misbehaving at the gym, and then a police report was filed after he hit a security guard with a sponge ball fired from a Nerf gun. And now he's been accused of being a pervy groper after a fan posted a photo of herself with the star in which it looks like the Biebster is groping her left breast.

But the fan who posted the photo insists it's all much more innocent than some have suggested. She tweeted: "I'M DYING HAHAHAHHAHA, IT LOOKS LIKE JUSTIN'S TOUCHING MY BOOB IN THE PICTURE AHAHAHAHHA... Let me clear this up for people who can't read, NO I did NOT ask Justin to touch my boobs... I whispered that it was my second time sneaking in and he kissed me on the cheek in the picture and& it looks like his hand is there. People can think what they want but I know what really happened and Justin does too, so everyone else's opinions don't matter to me".

So, consider that clarified.

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Sinead O'Connor has claimed that Noel Gallagher, in a drunken stupor back at the height of his Oasis days, once proposed to her at a festival. The Irish singer makes the claim in an interview with Uncut magazine, when answering a question apparently submitted by Liam Gallagher.

The Beady Eye frontman's mini-missive to O'Connor read: "You've always been effortlessly cool. How do you manage that?"

O'Connor replied: "Oh, that's sweet. I've never seen myself as cool, but I'm flattered. Actually, Liam's brother Noel once asked me to marry him, just before he married Meg Mathews. He won't remember, as he was off his face at a festival in Amsterdam".

The singer continues by calling on the estranged Gallagher brothers to bury the hatchet, if only to please their mum. O'Connor: "I am so glad to hear from Liam because I, as a mammy, am not happy that him and his brother aren't getting along well, and their poor mammy must be very upset. Tell Liam I love him and his brother and I'd like them to get on with each other. Do it for mammy's sake, yer feckers!"

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One Direction's Harry Styles wrote a cheeky message when a photographer waiting outside the popstar's London home asked the 1D-er if he'd sign something for his daughter Ella.

Jovially agreeing, Styles scrawled on a piece of cardboard: "To Ella, please tell your daddy to go away. Love from Harry x". Which seems fair enough to me.

Though next time he might want to add the PS, "and please ask daddy to not flog a photo of this message to the KP Pictures agency", because that's how they end up in The Sun.

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