Another week bites the dust and, surprise surprise, our nation’s popstars have been just as outspoken as ever. Here are 15 things we learnt from them over the last seven days, starting with Lily Allen, who agreed with a fan who described her new songs as "docile pop rubbish".
Continuing the former child star’s car crash fall from grace, footage of Justin Bieber’s recent court testimony was leaked online this week showing Biebz giving the verbal finger to former mentor Usher. “Usher? Yeah, that sounds familiar,” he said. “I was found on YouTube. I was instrumental in my own career.” What a gracious, charming fellow he is.
Meanwhile, over in Camp Gallagher there’s some good news at last! An exhibition of rare photographs and memorabilia from 1993-’97 is set to open at the Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch on April 11. Worth heading down to, if only to imagine Noel’s complete disdain for every mustachioed hipster that walks past the entrance. “Bunch of daft bastards”.
Proving that being dead need not necessarily inhibit your hit potential, the first fruits of Michael Jackson’s posthumous album emerged online this week. Produced by Timbaland, the taster section of ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ is taken from a forthcoming full LP. Rumours that it will include an updated reworking of old hit ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’ are as-yet unconfirmed.
It was a bad week, however, for Johnny Marr who broke his hand while running, thereby putting a string of imminent live shows in jeopardy. “I’m hoping it will be OK, it's a bit up in the air at this point. I may have to start drinking heavily," he explained. Not sure that’s exactly what the doctor would order, Johnny, but who are we to argue with a Godlike Genius?
Neil Young also launched his new digital music service Pono (Hawaiian for ‘righteousness’) at the festival. The veteran Crazy Horse legend has designed a player and a streaming service designed to allow listeners to hear records at “the highest audio fidelity possible” instead of the lower sound quality of standard MP3s. Righteous, indeed.
“OOooOOooOOHH YEAHHH! I been feelin’ roooown tooownnn/ Ver’s a roooma baby/ Yer plannin’ to brin’ me dowwwwn.” The Kooks are back! And they’ve seemingly invented a new strain of English on new single ‘Down’. The return of the seaside-loving quintet might be a surprisingly R&B-inflected one, but it’s those first five seconds that’ll really grab you. But hey - The Kooks just move in their own way.
Coldplay used their SXSW show to debut new material from forthcoming sixth album ‘Ghost Stories’. New tracks included ‘Another’s Arms’ and ‘Always In My Head’, while, ever the masters of minimalism, the band still managed to squeeze in a few confetti cannons and a rainbow-coloured, light-activated theremin despite the venue being roughly the size of an average living room.
Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore were announced as co-headliners at Reading and Leeds this year, providing the summer’s ultimate Battle of the Gingers. Artists also joining them over the weekend include Vampire Weekend, CHVRCHES, Peace, Temples, Drenge and so many more we want to time warp into the future and head straight there now.
In other exciting festival news, The Rolling Stones have confirmed two European appearances this June at Holland’s Pinkpop and Belgium’s TW Classic Festival. After last summer’s triumphant Glastonbury stage headline, it seems that once you start them up, they’ll never stop… well, at least until Autumn.
In a controversial, shock new release tactic, David Bowie has revealed substantial plans for a new single before putting it out. The chameleon of pop is set to release two limited edition picture discs for Record Store Day on April 19 – one featuring his 1974 cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Rock n’Roll Suicide’ and the other featuring the single ‘1984’.
Dave Grohl and Billy Corgan have lent some star power to a Kickstarter campaign to fund documentary ‘The Smart Studios’ – a film about the studio run by Garbage’s Butch Vig and Steve Marker. With the combined forces of The Nicest Man In Rock™ and A Slightly Unhinged Frontman Who Could Definitely Take You In A Fight then, frankly, who could (or would dare) resist?
He’s not Jesus Christ, though he’s got the same initials… And it may not quite be Easter yet, but the second coming of Julian Casablancas the solo artist was in full swing over in the US. The Strokes man debuted a host of new tracks alongside backing band The Voidz at two shows this week, leaving us chomping at the bit for the New Yorker’s forthcoming second record.
And leaving the most ludicrous ‘til last, Frank Ocean was embroiled in a meaty row this week when he told Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle to “fuck off” following a dispute involving a track the singer was supposed to record for the brand. Next week: Azealia Banks tells Wagamama to “do one”.
Lady Gaga played her most extreme show ever at SXSW. Tied to a spit, Lady Gaga was rolled on and rotated, as leather clad men 'tenderised' the singer, by grabbing her bottom and thighs as she sang 'Aura', the opening track from her third album, 'Artpop'.