Music

Jimmy Barnes calls for children to be removed from Nauru: ‘It’s not the Australian way’

The Australian rock musician Jimmy Barnes had some strong words for the Australian government ahead of a rally on the Parliament House lawn in Canberra to remove children and their families from indefinite detention on Nauru.

Tuesday’s rally saw the delivery of a petition of 170,000 signatures to the government by the newly elected member for Wentworth, independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps.

Barnes pointed to his own heritage: “I’m an immigrant,” he said.

“I came to Australia in a boat. We were running away from poverty and violence in Scotland, and what we fled was nothing compared to what these people have tried to get away from.

“We should be helping them. Taking these people and sticking them on an island, indefinitely, is not the Australian way.”

ASRC (@ASRC1)

We are with @drkerrynphelps and @JimmyBarnes for #KidsOffNauru pic.twitter.com/ohOQ5Pw7WK

November 27, 2018

Since the launch of the Kids off Nauru campaign three months ago by refugee advocacy groups, around 110 of the 119 children and their families had been brought to Australia after five years in detention on the island.

The Asylum Centre Resource Centre estimated only 40% of Australians were aware children were being held in detention at the time the campaign was launched. Many had spent their entire lives on the island.

That figure has since been raised to 80%, boosted by medical professionals including Phelps and international charity organisations World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam.

A woman and her daughter hold up a sign during a rally demanding the resettlement of kids held on Nauru.

A woman and her daughter hold up a sign during a rally demanding the resettlement of children held on Nauru. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

A statement from Save the Children, which was contracted by the Australian government in 2013 to provide education and welfare services to children on Nauru before its workers were removed and its role taken over by Transfield in October 2015, said the organisation had “seen first-hand the distress and hardship endured by children languishing indefinitely on Nauru”.

“One day in effective detention for a child is unacceptable; five years is a disgrace,” the statement said.

Barnes, one of 65 ambassadors for Kids off Nauru, said he had reached a point where he felt he had to stand up.

Jimmy Barnes (centre) with his wife Jane Mahoney.

‘I hate fear politics’: Jimmy Barnes (centre) with his wife Jane Mahoney at Tuesday’s protest. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

“You can’t blame governments because we’ve allowed this to happen. The government represents us,” he said.

“I am ashamed that our government has allowed this to happen. And I’m ashamed of myself, because the government represents us, and that’s all of us, and we have to stand up and demand that this be changed … This has to stop.”

Asked how he responded to the view that ending offshore detention risked putting people smugglers back in business, Barnes said: “I think that’s rubbish.”

“There’s got to be better ways to stop that. Let’s tackle that problem on the ground in Indonesia, or wherever. But holding people up as hostages to stop people smugglers, that’s not the way to do things. That’s like two wrongs making a right … This has to stop.

“Politicians have been spreading fear, saying if we’re letting in refugees we’re letting in terrorists. It’s not the truth. We’ve got to recognise the difference between terrorism and people who are refugees; people who are struggling.

“I hate fear politics. And if you look at the Victorian election, that didn’t work and I think the tide is turning, people are changing and they’re not going to fall for that one any more.”

Protesters hold up signs during the Kids off Nauru rally on Tuesday.

Protesters hold up signs during the Kids off Nauru rally on Tuesday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Barnes has become active in humanitarian causes in recent years, especially since the release of his memoirs Working Class Boy and Working Class Man.

“I had enough of my own problems before,” he said. “I can see a lot clearer now, and I just don’t feel comfortable sitting around not speaking out and saying what I want to say. These are kids, these are families, and they’re people who need help … I can’t sit by any more.”

Asked how he would respond to those – hypothetically, home affairs minister Peter Dutton – who might tell him to stick to singing, Barnes said: “I wouldn’t give Peter Dutton any of my time. It’s a waste of time speaking to someone like him, because they just spread lies and propaganda. He doesn’t represent me, he doesn’t care about people, and I wouldn’t give him the time of day, to tell you the truth.”

Threatin: band creates fake fanbase for tour attended by no one

One of the greatest art rock pranks of all time – or a hugely expensive exercise in vanity? That’s the question some music venues across the UK are wrestling with after US-based “band” Threatin came over to Europe to play a string of gigs in well-known venues – to absolutely nobody.

Jered Threatin, the creative force behind Threatin, had an online presence that suggested an active fanbase, and that his act had toured extensively in the US. Venues also appear to have been informed that large numbers of tickets had been pre-sold, which turned out to be untrue.

Venues on the tour included The Underworld in London, Trillians in Newcastle and the Exchange in Bristol. The Underworld posted publicly to Thretin’s Facebook page, saying “What happened to the 291 advanced ticket sales your agent said you’d sold? THREE PEOPLE turned up.”

Artists who have unwittingly been drawn into the story as support acts have been boasting about being part of the experience – Bristol-based artist Sasori, who also drums with the band Kamino, said on social media that he was “feeling pretty special, not everyone gets to say they played on the same bill as Threatin at his sellout show in Bristol”.

But the band themselves made a more serious point in a Facebook post, pointing out that Bristol’s Exchange venue was “fully staffed with two bouncers on the door expecting to deal with a queue”, and that the stunt “has done nothing but fleece several UK venues out of money and time that would be far better spent on genuine artists. People like this deserve to be outed for who they are. Or aren’t.”

As people began to become aware of the story over the weekend, there was briefly a glimmer of possibility that Jered Threatin’s rock star dream might come true. People began to say they would be going to the gigs out of curiosity – but sadly for the would-be rock star, the tour has seemingly now collapsed.

Sunday night’s scheduled Threatin appearance in Belfast was cancelled at the last minute, without explanation. The evening went ahead with appearances by the two support bands who had been arranged to appear locally. The venue said that the booking had been pre-paid by Threatin, and their social media manager couldn’t help having some fun at the band’s expense, tweeting “If you purchased tickets for tonight’s Threatin show, both of you can get refunds from the point of purchase”.

Belfast Empire (@belfastEmpire)

If you purchased tickets for tonight’s Threatin show, both of you can get refunds from the point of purchase. pic.twitter.com/hR0FHHFR0L

November 11, 2018

According to another Facebook post, Threatin paid for the booking in cash at the Exchange in Bristol to reassure the venue so that the gig could continue when none of the people who bought the supposedly 180 advanced sold tickets pitched up. Reports now suggest that two of Threatin’s backing band for the live tour – the guitarist and drummer – have left the band.

Threatin’s video for “hit single” Living Is Dying

Threatin’s Facebook page has now been deleted, alongside most of the artist’s website. He had amassed around 38,000 likes on the social media platform, but the suspicion now is that they were all paid for. While his official Twitter account has now been locked and made private, a fan club Twitter account is still active, and disputing the version of events being reported in the media. “Threatin rockin’ a soundcheck before the gig” is how they have responded to one image of the band performing in front of two people.

According to other social media posts, one person was spotted buying a Threatin T-shirt because they felt sorry for the band playing to just a couple of people.

Aonia (@Aonia_Band)

Oh hey, that’s me (Mel) and my keyboardist (Tim). ‘Promoter’ sent us free tix so we came. Actually bought a T-shirt b/c I felt bad they’d come so far to play to 2 people. Didn’t know about all the fake stuff til the next day. Fab venue though. I’d never been and will come again. pic.twitter.com/kjN1SMda9O

November 11, 2018

The extent to which Threatin had faked the act’s history have gradually become apparent the more and more people have looked into it. As well as the band itself, research by Vince Neilstein at the Metal Sucks website showed that the bookings appear to have originated with a faked promotion agency, StageRight Bookings, who boast of having many acts on their roster, none of which seem to exist except Threatin.

In addition, Threatin’s music has been released by “Superlative Music Recordings”, a record label whose website claims they have existed since 1964, even at one point tredily re-branding to SMR in the 1980s before return to a fashionably retro look in the 21st century. The label doesn’t exist anywhere outside the logo appearing on Threatin products.

It’s this intense attention to detail which threatens to elevate the whole affair from the slightly tragic, to an absolute work of art. Yet, just at the moment when Jered Threatin could capitalise on this new-found interest, he has disappeared. Attempts to contact him have been futile.

The events have left a bitter taste with some though. Adam Gostick, drummer with The Unresolved who were booked to support Threatin in Birmingham told Discovered Magazine: “It really annoys me that someone is able to do this. As a band trying to get around and play gigs it’s difficult if promoters feel you have no pull. But then Threatin tours the UK and plays, and has no real following. It annoys me from a promoter point of view too, as I work with a small promotion company, so I know how hard it hits having night’s where nobody comes.”

Having parted with thousands of pounds to play to nobody in the UK, it seems though that there may be some hope for Threatin yet. With all the attention since the story broke, on Sunday someone uploaded a guitar cover version of the “hit single” Living Is Dying to YouTube, and someone else posted a vocal cover version, a sign that social media notoriety may ultimately bring the fame to Threatin that a fake tour could not.

Threatin are beginning to attract YouTube cover version videos.

Spice Girls announce reunion tour – without Victoria Beckham

When five become four (again): the Spice Girls have announced a 2019 tour without founding member Victoria Beckham.

Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton and Geri Horner (née Halliwell) will commence a six-date UK tour on 1 June 2019 at Manchester Etihad stadium with support from Jess Glynne.

In a video announcing the reunion, they made no mention of their missing bandmate. A press release stated that Beckham – who has often displayed a self-awareness about her lack of natural musical talent – is concentrating on her fashion label, a career that has arguably given her the greatest post-pop success of any Spice Girls member.

“Being in the Spice Girls was a hugely important part of my life and I wish my girls so much love and fun as they go back on tour,” Beckham said in a statement. “I know they will put on an amazing show and the fantastic fans past and present are going to have a wonderful time!”

Spice Girls (@spicegirls)

Breaking Spice news… Tickets on sale Saturday 10.30am ✌🏻#GirlPower #FriendshipNeverEnds pic.twitter.com/QmWrXOWLMd

November 5, 2018

Brown recently attended a Halloween party dressed as Beckham, holding up a sign that read: “No I am not going on tour.” She was joined by boyfriend Gary Madatyan dressed as David Beckham, who held a sign that said: “Please, please, please do it for the Spice Girls fans.”

It will be the second time the band has toured with a reduced membership. Horner quit the Spice Girls in May 1998 prior to the group’s first North American tour, which they completed without her. She rejoined the group in 2007 for their first reunion tour and a greatest hits collection that contained one new song, Headlines (Friendship Never Ends).

The five-piece reunited for a one-off performance at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Further reunion tours have been rumoured ever since: in February 2018, the five held a meeting and indicated that they intended to work on new projects together.

Mel B and boyfriend Gary Madatyan – dressed as Victoria and David Beckham – attend Heidi Klum’s Halloween party in New York, 31 October 2018.

Mel B and Gary Madatyan – dressed as Victoria and David Beckham – attend Heidi Klum’s Halloween party in New York, 31 October 2018. Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

In May, Brown said that all five original members had signed on to work with former manager Simon Fuller. They began working with Fuller in 1995 after firing the father-son management team of Chris and Bob Herbert that put the group together in 1994. The group fired Fuller – who co-ordinated their many lucrative commercial partnerships – in November 1997 and took control of their affairs.

The band’s members have pursued a variety of projects since going on hiatus in 2000. Each of them has released solo music: Beckham had the shortest-lived musical career while Chisholm continues to release music under her own name. Brown has been a judge on the British version of the X Factor, among other TV talent shows. Bunton is a presenter on radio station Heart London and was recently announced as host of the US version of the Great British Bake Off. Horner has written children’s books and been a judge on Australia’s Got Talent.

The news of their reunion has provoked a mixed response. “Last time they toured, it felt as if there was unfinished business to sort out, particularly as it was the full lineup,” said Popjustice editor Peter Robinson. “But after that massive tour and the release of new music a few years ago, I wonder what really remains unfinished in 2018.”

The Spice Girls at the Cannes film festival in 1997.

The Spice Girls at the Cannes film festival in 1997. Photograph: Neil Munns/PA

Robinson suggested that the best way for the group to have sustained their legacy would have been an international TV talent search to find the new Spice Girls. “I’d assume, with Simon Fuller involved, that this will be part of the rollout in the coming months.”

Broadcaster and author Miranda Sawyer suggested that the group’s ages (between 42 and 46) could be a motivation for the reunion. “They’ve hit middle age and that’s when you question the whole of your life,” said Sawyer, who wrote a book on middle age called Out of Time. “You look at your ‘legacy’ – and this happens to everyone, the Spice Girls or not – and think, what have I done with my life? And if the biggest thing you ever did was in your 20s, you may want to revisit that period.”

That, said Sawyer, was the likely reason for Beckham’s non-participation. “The biggest and most important thing in her life is her family and her career – she has absolutely moved on and is having another life.”

David Sinclair, author of the biography Wannabe: How the Spice Girls Reinvented Pop Fame, agreed that the group might want to relive former glories. “There must be a terrible feeling of loss that they were such a global phenomenon at a certain moment, but it didn’t last that long. They were in a little bubble for a few years and it really was just whipped away. There must be a very strong urge to go back and recover that.”

On the red carpet for the premiere of Spiceworld the Movie, 15 December 1997.

On the red carpet for the premiere of Spiceworld the Movie, 15 December 1997. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

Lauren Bravo, author of the new book What Would the Spice Girls Do: How the Girl Power Generation Grew Up, said she was not surprised by their comeback. “It takes 15 or 20 years for things to come back around again: the shops are full of revived 90s trends. Nineties kids had the feeling that all the important radical pop culture had happened before we were born – we were told that everything we had was a pallid rehash of the 60s and 70s – so it is nice to look back and think, that was important.”

BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo often plays Spice Girls songs on her mid-morning weekday show and said they always receive a positive response. She welcomed the tour. “Do I think they should bring out a brand-new album and singles? I lean towards no. It’s all about celebration and nostalgia – I don’t think they’re coming for Little Mix’s wigs. They know they’re the elder stateswomen of the pop sphere.”

Many of today’s pop musicians who were children during the Spice Girls’ heyday have cited them as an influence, from Adele to British avant-garde pop star Charli XCX and Danish singer MØ. The Spice Girls’ “girl power” message has also been cited as a cornerstone of many millennials’ grounding in feminism.

“The band are relevant in the sense that girl power lives on in a generation of women who were introduced to a very basic interpretation of feminism two decades before books on the topic became the ultimate middle-class stocking filler,” said Robinson.

Kicking off their reunion tour in Vancouver, 2 December 2007.

Kicking off their reunion tour in Vancouver, 2 December 2007. Photograph: Lyle Stafford/Reuters

Sawyer acknowledged that some people are “snotty” about their conception of feminism. “I understand why, but I think if you are a young girl and someone says ‘girl power’ to you, that is very important. Their idea that your girlfriends might be more important than the boys you were meant to be attracting is still quite a fundamental point really.”

Said Bravo: “They gave us permission to be outspoken – ‘gobby’ was a word that was often flung around – and angry, and have an opinion whether or not we were considered qualified. That’s something we’re still struggling with today: who’s doing it right, who’s doing it wrong? They were criticised for being too brash, too commercial, but the fact that they were commercial and successful meant they reached a young audience, and that was their power.”

Dazed digital editor Aimee Cliff questioned whether the Spice Girls’ “Thatcher-endorsing brand of girl power” would hold up. “Their patriotism and Union Jack-waving would feel hollow and Brexit-esque. Their unrelenting optimism would be at odds with a more cynical audience, and a bleaker time for the UK in general. Relevant? Maybe not. But the bangers are forever.”

 Tickets for the tour go on sale at 10.30am on 10 November. The Spice Girls will perform at:

1 June 2019: Manchester Etihad stadium
3 June: Coventry Ricoh stadium
6 June: Sunderland Stadium of Light
8 June: Edinburgh BT Murrayfield stadium
10 June: Bristol Ashton Gate stadium
15 June: London Wembley stadium

Hookworms split after abuse allegations against band’s singer

The Leeds band Hookworms have announced that they are splitting after allegations of sexual and mental abuse made against the band’s frontman, Matthew Johnson.

The five-piece posted a statement to the group’s Twitter account stating that all upcoming shows had been cancelled and that they “can no longer continue as a band”.

A statement from Johnson, also known as a producer in the UK DIY scene, is said to be forthcoming. The band’s label, Domino, have not commented.

HOOKWORMS (@HOOKWORMS)

pic.twitter.com/QXaX2rUOij

October 31, 2018

On 30 October, Alanna McArdle – the former frontwoman of Welsh group Joanna Gruesome – posted a statement to Twitter on behalf of an alleged victim identified only as L, detailing the alleged “horrific abuse” that L suffered from Johnson during a relationship they had in 2016.

McArdle described L as a “survivor of sexual and physical abuse”, a situation that Johnson allegedly mocked. “Over the course of numerous interactions he made jokes and the specific details of L’s past experience, joking about raping her, mutilating her body and punching her in the face,” McArdle claimed. “He sexually assaulted her, triggering her PTSD, and at the time remained unapologetic for his actions.”

Lan (@alannamcardle_)

TW: sexual, physical, emotional abuse. Concerning Matthew Johnson (MJ from Hookworms) pic.twitter.com/GulQcqDrEp

October 30, 2018

McArdle alleged that in the two years following his and L’s relationship, Johnson had “pursued an emotionally abusive love-bombing campaign towards L in an attempt to reframe his actions”. She claimed that Johnson had recently texted L admitting to the alleged abuse. Johnson’s bandmates said they were previously unaware of these allegations.

Johnson is a well-known member of the UK independent music scene: Hookworms released three critically acclaimed albums, two via leading UK independent label Domino.

He has been open about his experiences with depression and has previously taken vocal stances against musicians who have been accused of abuse. McArdle cited Johnson’s politically progressive public stance as a motivation for sharing L’s allegations.

Can’t always get what you want: why artists struggle to stop politicians using their songs

Incensed by Donald Trump’s use of his 2013 song Happy at a rally in Indiana on Saturday, Pharrell Williams has threatened legal action against the president. In a cease-and-desist letter sent by Williams’ lawyer, the demand specifically took umbrage at the use of the song for political purposes just hours after a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist’, you played his song Happy to a crowd at a political event in Indiana,” the letter said. “There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”

Williams joins a lengthy list of artists who have asked politicians, most frequently conservatives, to stop using their music. Abba asked John McCain to stop playing Take a Chance on Me during his run for the presidency, while the Dropkick Murphys were more characteristically blunt when Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, took the stage to their Shipping Up to Boston.

Dropkick Murphys (@DropkickMurphys)

@ScottWalker @GovWalker please stop using our music in any way…we literally hate you !!!
Love, Dropkick Murphys

January 25, 2015

Bands protesting against politicians is nothing new, but the lineup of musicians who have asked Trump to stop playing their songs alone is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its own.

Trump ends almost every rally with the Rolling Stones song You Can’t Always Get What You Want. The band has repeatedly ask Trump to stop playing their music, but so far have had no success in getting him to do so.

Neil Young, who also asked the campaign to refrain from playing Rockin’ in the Free World, eventually relented, saying: “Once the music goes out, everybody can use it for anything.”

Katie Rogers (@katierogers)

Barbra Streisand’s music is used to pump up the crowd at MAGA rallies. “I’m just so saddened by this thing happening to our country. It’s making me fat. I hear what he said now, and I have to go eat pancakes now, and pancakes are very fattening.” https://t.co/nBONQBfjpp

October 30, 2018

Michael Stipe of REM voiced his distaste for Trump a bit more directly after the band’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – which critics might think is a fitting choice for the administration – was used in 2015 at a campaign stop.

“Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you – you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign,” Stipe responded.

Adele likewise made it clear she did not give permission to the campaign to use her music in 2016.

Jim Acosta (@Acosta)

The scene in WV before Trump’s rally. Aerosmith’s “Livin’ on the edge” playing. pic.twitter.com/HW1qr9TBgE

August 21, 2018

This summer, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sent a cease-and-desist of his own, objecting to the use of Livin’ on the Edge at a campaign rally, following a similar complaint three years earlier that the campaign ignored.

“By using Livin’ On The Edge without our client’s permission, Mr Trump is falsely implying that our client, once again, endorses his campaign and/or his presidency, as evidenced by actual confusion seen from the reactions of our client’s fans all over social media,” the letter said.

“This specifically violates Section 43 of the Lanham Act, as it ‘is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person’.”

The Lanham Act refers to “the confusion or dilution of a trademark (such as a band or artist name) through its unauthorized use”, Ascap, one of the major publishing groups, explains.

The confusion stoked by politicians’ use of music for political purposes carries over into the question of whether artists can actually do anything about it. Often in the case of campaign rallies held in the type of venues where Trump appears, there will be an overarching license through the major publishing companies that allow for the use of songs, said Gandhar Savur, senior vice-president for legal affairs at Rough Trade Publishing.

“If the venue that is holding a political rally has a ‘performance rights organization’ blanket license in place, such as, for example, through Ascap or BMI, then a politician can get away with having a particular song playing in the background.”

However, if the song becomes a regular soundtrack for a particular politician, that might give the artist, label or publisher, more leverage to stop them.

“This is largely unsettled law, and has definitely come to the forefront with the current administration, but the common way to attack repeated use of a song by a politician is to make a right of publicity claim,” Savur said.

Generally speaking, rights of publicity, under state law, protect individuals from having their likenesses, including their voices, used in connection with a commercial purpose, “which can include exploitative and promotional uses”.

“Artists would argue that the politician is creating a ‘false endorsement’, ie giving the public the false impression that the artist endorses that politician or his or her campaign, by the repeated use of their song and voice,” Savur said.

Often a politician will simply comply with the request because the negative attention from a popular band is more trouble than continuing to play a song is worth. But as with everything else, Trump seems to be playing by his own rules. He still finishes almost every rally with You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Sinéad O’Connor converts to Islam, taking new name Shuhada’ Davitt

The singer formerly known as Sinéad O’Connor has converted to Islam, changing her name to Shuhada’.

She made the announcement on Twitter, saying her conversion was “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey. All scripture study leads to Islam. Which makes all other scriptures redundant.”

She has since documented her new faith, writing that she was “very, very, very happy” after being given her first hijab, and expressing thanks to “all my Muslim brothers and sisters who have been so kind as to welcome me to Ummah”, meaning the Islamic community. She also posted a YouTube video of her making the Islamic call to prayer.

Shuhada’ Davitt (@MagdaDavitt77)

Happy pic.twitter.com/VkJsj2IFAi

October 23, 2018

Her full new name is Shuhada’ Davitt, using the surname she gave herself when she changed her name to Magda Davitt in 2017. She said at the time that she wanted to be “free of the patriarchal slave names. Free of the parental curses.”

Davitt has candidly documented her struggles with mental health in recent years, posting a Facebook video in August 2017 in which she admitted to suicidal thoughts. “I am one of millions … people who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on earth, we can’t take care of ourselves, you’ve got to take care of us,” she said in the video. “My entire life is revolving around not dying, and that’s not living.” In a previous update in November 2015, she said she had “taken an overdose”, and a police search was launched for her in May 2016 after she briefly went missing in Chicago, sparking fears for her wellbeing.

Earlier this week, she claimed on Twitter that a healthcare assistant working with her was fired “for spiking me with crystal meth”.

She was ordained as a priest in 1999 by the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic church – the group are not officially affiliated with the Catholic church, who do not allow the ordination of women as priests.

She became disillusioned with Catholicism in the wake of child abuse scandals in the church, describing the Vatican as a “nest of devils” in a 2011 newspaper article. In an open letter published in August this year, she asked Pope Francis to excommunicate her, and said she had made similar previous appeals to Pope Benedict and John Paul II.

Also in August, she released her first new music in four years, a song called Milestones made with Northern Irish producer David Holmes, whom she met at a birthday party for Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. She is preparing a new album called No Mud No Lotus, which, she says, won’t be out before October 2019.

Lady Gaga fans credited with negative Venom buzz

The embargo for Venom, a new Marvel movie starring Tom Hardy, lifted on Wednesday morning. And while the overwhelmingly negative critical reaction is unlikely to please distributors Sony, it seems likely to gladden the hearts of those Lady Gaga fans who have identified Venom as chief competition to Gaga’s new film, A Star Is Born.

On Tuesday, negative Twitter reactions to Venom – which have been charted by Buzzfeed – raised suspicions about their motivation on account of their similarly phrased critiques:

Nobody In California (@NobodyInCali)

Okay, something is up. The negativity around the #Venom movie is looking very artificial. pic.twitter.com/f5LWF3z7Xd

October 2, 2018

Atomic (@AtomicSpidey)

Sooooo there are BOTS attacking the #Venom movie. LMAO pic.twitter.com/CNXAtRtEd8

October 2, 2018

Others combined attacks on Venom with plugs for A Star Is Born. One read: “Just got out of a #Venom⁠ ⁠preview. Thankfully it was free. Worst two hours of my life. I will be taking my wife to see Lady GaGa’s new movie #AStarIsBorn with Bradley Cooper on Friday. Their song Shallow is great.”

Another said: “Just got back from seeing #Venom in theatre. So disappointed. Lots of democrat nonsense, pushing LGBT agenda down throat too. Disgusted. I can’t believe I am saying this but I might have to take the kids to see #AStarIsBorn tomorrow to make up for the terrible night. Very sad.”

A Marvel fansite flagged the possible campaign:

Marvel Mania™ (@marvel_maniac_)

Beware of fake #Venom movie reviews. There are people trying to promote Lady Gaga’s #AStarIsBorn and are fabricating negative reviews. Look out for bots and only trust proper and regular reviewers. pic.twitter.com/v9xznuN5R7

October 2, 2018

However, the power of Gaga fans to leverage change at cinemas was thrown into question earlier this month when the film failed to win the People’s Choice award at the Toronto film festival. This coveted prize, considered a barometer of future Oscars success, is voted for by audiences, theoretically as they exit the cinema after a screening. But a new facility allowing for online voting raised the concern that Gaga fans who hadn’t seen the film would flood the digital ballot box.

The top prize was awarded to Green Book, a road movie starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma as runners up.

Nonetheless, A Star Is Born is considered a strong Oscars favourite and goes into this year’s race the frontrunner to take best picture.

In his review, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw dismissed Venom as a “clumsy, monolithic and fantastically boring superhero movie-slash-entertainment-franchise-iteration”.

Scott Morrison ‘definitely keen’ to attend concert by US rapper Fatman Scoop

The prime minister Scott Morrison has deleted a social media video using a sexually charged song, but the song’s artist, Fatman Scoop, has questioned why, saying it’s a “fun party song that has no negativity or harm”.

The rapper tagged the prime minister in a Facebook post, inviting him to come backstage at a concert on his upcoming tour of Australia. To which Morrison responded on Twitter that he was “definitely keen” but “send me the PG version next time”.

Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP)

Definitely keen for R&B Fridays, @fatmanscoop.
Btw, probably best to send me the PG radio version next time. pic.twitter.com/B3RPnc7GRx

September 14, 2018

The 11-second clip from question time in parliament showed MPs raising their arms sound-tracked to the 1999 club banger Be Faithful by the US rapper.

The suggestive lyrics were not included in the brief video, but the full song contains expletives and strong references to casual sex.

The clip was posted to Morrison’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts on Thursday and had thousands of likes and comments before being taken down.

The PM told reporters on Friday it was a “bit of fun” and he will stick to listening to Australian singer Tina Arena.

“It’s quite clear that it’s not a song that’s on my playlist and I think I might stick to my regular playlist,” Morrison said.

Fatman Scoop

US rapper Fatman Scoop has invited Scott Morrison backstage to discuss politics after his song was used in a now deleted video by the prime minister. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/PA/PA

“We’re just trying to connect honestly with people and some of the narcs will get a bit worked up about this sort of thing.

“I think people think politicians can take themselves a bit too seriously at times.”

Fatman Scoop appeared to agree, writing on Facebook on Friday that the video was “a fun PARTY SONG that has no NEGATIVITY or HARM in it” and was clearly “an attempt to reach out to a younger audience”.

The rapper said he had to remain apolitical but was humbled to have his voice “rocking in the highest offices of the Australian government”.

Fatman Scoop then invited the prime minister to be his guest at his next Australian show and discuss politics with him.

“I don’t have to agree with your policies but we can have spirited DEBATE about them and you can attempt to walk me through why you think like that,” he wrote.

After deleting the video, Morrison sent out another tweet close to midnight apologising for posting it following puzzled and critical comments.
Despite the video being deleted from all of Morrison’s accounts, social media users retained the clip and it’s still easily accessible on Twitter.

The original footage came about following Morrison asking Liberal Party members in question time if they had worked in small businesses or the private sector.

The bizarre use of the song could deliver invaluable promotion for Fatman Scoop’s tour of Australia in November where he will play shows in five capital cities.

Willie Nelson upsets fans with plans to perform at Beto O’Rourke rally

Country music legend Willie Nelson has enraged some of his most conservative fans by announcing plans to play at a huge rally on behalf of Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic insurgent threatening an election upset in Texas.

The 85-year-old star will headline a free outdoor show in Austin, Texas, in support of the Democrat who is pushing to unseat the Republican senator Ted Cruz in November’s midterms.

“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a press release announcing the event, which his publicist suggested was his first-ever rally on behalf of a politician.

“Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”

The move seems to have surprised and upset some of Nelson’s fans – even though he has a long record as an activist on a range of liberal issues.

One Texan wrote on Twitter: “Someone buy my Willie Nelson ticket for Friday, November 16. I am no longer willing to watch that hippie guitarist who supports that damn socialist running for Senate.”

A woman wrote on Nelson’s Facebook page: “Just cause you can write a song, sing a song, play a guitar and smoke weed – doesn’t mean you know what’s right for this state!!! Entertainers should stay out of politics & stick to entertaining.”

Another disgruntled fan said: “You should stay out of politics. I’m a lifelong fan this is not a smart move.”

That fan was quickly shot down by a Nelson supporter, who replied: “Lifelong fan unaware of Willie’s decades of political activism.”

From campaigning to legalize marijuana to supporting the LGBT movement, Nelson has scarcely hidden his progressive credentials during his long career.

As well as being co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Nelson was a critic of the Iraq war, an advocate of biofuels and a supporter of animal rights campaigns.

Peter Blackstock (@Blackstock360)

So @BetoORourke not only stuck around to sing with @WillieNelson, he played guitar with him. pic.twitter.com/HZdod0WLqr

July 5, 2018

O’Rourke, who was once a member of a punk rock band, joined Nelson on stage at the singer’s Fourth of July picnic, playing guitar and singing harmony on songs including Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.

O’Rourke has been accused by Cruz of running from the “hard, hard left like Bernie Sanders”. But Cruz, who was the last man standing against Donald Trump in the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination, is feeling the heat. A rash of summer headlines have asked whether he is facing an upset defeat. Latest polling suggests his lead is down to 3.2%.

Last week the New York Times reported that Trump’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, had told donors Cruz could lose because he is not “likable” enough.

More than 20,000 people have already signed up for Nelson’s outdoor show in support of O’Rourke, which will be staged at Austin’s Auditorium Shores on 29 September.