The Czech Republic is entering Eurovision next year, after previously having entered in 2007.
This is interesting because as Eastern Europe opened up, the free (and sometimes new) countries used the competition to showcase themselves to the rest of Europe. Except the Czech Republic didn't enter until 2007 (compare with Slovakia who first entered in 1993). The theory is that the Czech Republic was generally a lot stronger and more confident than other former communist countries (all the cool kids were in Prague already!) so it didn't feel the need to do the Eurovision thing until 2007, when the country was under political scrutiny.
So now they're back again, in time for the competition's 60th anniversary. I wonder what is behind the decision this time.
The other thing that happens today in the local music business is that for the first time, the official New Zealand singles charts will include audio streaming data alongside retail sales.
I just had a look at this week's chart and there are no big surprises.
* There are four new songs, but they're all new releases from popular artists.
* There are three reentries, and they're all songs that have recently been in the charts.
* There's a new number one, but it's a new release from Six60 who are hugely popular.
So nothing unusual. No weird old songs suddenly recharting after 25 years (that happened a couple of weeks ago with "Ice Ice Baby" - the result of a media campaign).
At a glance, it looks pretty much like a top 40 that's logically following on from last week's one, though I'm sure there are subtle differences in chart positions. I guess this means what people are listening to is roughly the same as what people are buying.
He joked to me that he was thinking of turning his exquisitely-crafted Excel doc into an “interactive rock star accountant” – you put in the contract terms and it spits out net income. I reckon there’s a video game in that.
As long as it doesn't end up like the painfully awful NZ Music Manager game.
Earnings ... are comparable with her winning Lotto’s Powerball last year, and then guaranteeing a first division prize annually.
This was the best part of the article. $11 million is a lot of money, but it suddenly becomes real when put in big-money terms that average NZers can relate to - it's like winning Lotto, every year.
BTW, an article like this is going to trigger all sorts of people wanting Lorde to pay for their mortgage/medical procedure/perpetual motion machine, as if Lorde just has a bank account with $11 idly sitting in it.
But who cares about money, honey, when the "Yellow Flicker Beat" video is so good. Because I am a music video nerd, I counted eight different locations (all beautifully shot by Emily Kai Bock) and 50 extras. Not many (if any) NZ music videos have that, unless the extras are all friends and fans doing it for free. It is super to see Lorde's creative vision continuing to thrive.
In this post-Lorde year, all three finalists were solo artists with minimal or no accompaniment.
About five years ago, when Lady Gaga was at her peak, pop became very extravagant, all about lavish costumes and complex performances. Now it seems to be going the other way, fully embracing minimalism, both sonically and visually. Kanye West went for that style on his Yeezus album (he didn’t invent it, though), and that style continues with Pure Heroine and Lorde’s performance style. And as well as being on trend, it’s always going to be a lot cheaper touring with a two-piece band than a giant entourage.
Sometimes, he’s like a wild 13 year-old boy, and it’s honest and appealing, even unto the culturally-acquired American accent.
Whoa! I had always assumed that Randa was American- or Canadian-born. His accent sounds so authentic that it didn't seem possible it was just a performance gimmick. His speaking voice sounds mid-Pacific, kind of like Rachel Hunter.
How much does this have to do with the revelation earlier this year that some staff in the Maori and Pacific unit were doing campaigning for the Labour Party using company resources, on company time?
Are TVNZ wanting to remove the possibility of anything like this happening in the future? If it's an external production company with misbehaving staff, that's a lot less sticky than an in-house unit.
The news vans - some of them - have their own links, for those precious 'live' moments (where the reporter gazes earnestly at the camera, standing in front of something faintly news-worthy clutching their ear-piece and trying to stop the wind whipping their hair in their eyes, while the studio presenter asks them simple questions : 'Where are you now, Lindsay? Can you hear me?")
My fave live cross location - on the balcony of the TVNZ cafeteria, chatting to the news presenter several floors below. I actually haven't seen this happen lately, but they used to do it a lot.
You know what's cool? The upcoming soundtrack for The Hunger Games 3 that Lorde has curated. Just look at the track list:
1. "Meltdown" - Stromae ft. Lorde, Pusha T, Q-Tip & Haim
2. "Dead Air" - CHVRCHES
3. "Scream My Name" - Tove Lo
4. "Kingdom" - Charli XCX ft. Simon Le Bon
5. TO BE ANNOUNCED
6. "Lost Souls" - Raury
7. "Yellow Flicker Beat" - Lorde
8. "The Leap" - Tinashe
9. "Plan The Escape" - Bat For Lashes
10. "Original Beast" - Grace Jones
11. "Flicker" (Kanye West Rework) - Lorde
12. "Animal" - XOV
13. "This Is Not A Game" - The Chemical Brothers ft. Miguel
14. "Ladder Song" - Lorde
It's 100% fab, a combination of current alt pop kids, legends from olden times and brand new artists of whom it's perfectly reasonable to have a "never heard of them" reaction. And the best bit - Lorde coordinated the whole album after hours on her American tour. Her mum wrote a sweet post on Instagram about seeing Ella working away into the night, in the back on the tour bus, hunched over her laptop. How many 17-year-olds do you know roll like this?
I'm most excited about track one. Not only is it a new track from Stromae, but it also features Pusha T, Q-Tip, Haim and Ms Yelich-O'Connor herself. Hurry up, 17 November!
Maybe someone needs to approach Nga Taonga Sound and Vision to see if they can supervise the cull?
Isn't that exactly what's happening? The old TVNZ Archive is now under the guardianship of Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, so it's not TVNZ doing the culling, it's Nga Taonga. I'm interested to see what the culling process will involve. I mean, if they're just removing duplicates that are also in the old Film Archive, that's not such a terrible thing.
I know there was quite a bit of discomfort with the way Shona Laing was treated by the crowd last year -- she deserved her time for a speech, but by that time at the Music Awards, people are getting boisterous, and there's not a lot you can do about that. There's some feeling that the legacy part deserves its own time and space.
Supergroove are a fab band and are worthy of recognition,, but their induction in 2014 seems like a crowd-pleasing casting choice more than a genuine reflection that their time has come.
The awkward thing is that as well as being an awards ceremony, the VNZMAs are also a television programme that has to keep viewers entertained. Supergroove would do that, but viewers might be less impressed with some older singer that none of the kids recognise.
Random other thought: sooner or later the Feelers are going to have to get inducted into the Hall. And that's going to be very interesting.