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Like a cocaine-powered, Union Jack-bedecked juggernaut, the BRITs rolled into town this week. And, for once, was occasionally in danger of actually being worth watching. Unfortunately, no one was – viewing figures for the annual back-slapping bash were at their lowest for several years. At Monitors HQ, for instance, we all had more important things to do (go to gigs/watch Arsenal get beat by Bayern Munich/rearrange the sock drawer into alphabetical order), and instead vaguely followed the whole affair on Twitter.

Which, it seems, is what most other people did too. This year’s ceremony became the UK’s most tweeted about television show of all time, with 4.17 million tweets compared to the previous record-holder (last year’s Comic Relief, on 1.5 million). Which was especially impressive considering hardly anybody was apparently watching it – ITV’s live coverage only narrowly beating viewing figures for the Winter Olympic curling semi-finals earlier in the afternoon. Cue ITV’s new celebrity curling show replacing the BRITs next year…

So what the hell was everyone tweeting about? It can’t have been the appearance of Prince – it would’ve been more of a shock if he hadn’t turned up considering his current omnipresence in London. Beyoncé was a huge draw though (she was unsurprisingly the most tweeted-about act) while the reappearance of Pharrell’s mad hat, now being auctioned for charity, was worth tuning in for alone. Meanwhile, Bastille performed a live mash-up with Rudimental, and Disclosure did likewise with Lorde and Aluna Francis, at least showing some imagination on behalf of the producers. Not least the latter, considering Lorde apparently only met her fellow performers on the day.

With James Corden hosting yet again (remind me how many millions the show’s TV audience has dwindled by recently?), it was left to Noel Gallagher to inject some wit into proceedings. Presenting the award for Best David Bowie (sorry, Best Male), he invited Kate Moss onstage to accept the award with the words, “You didn’t think he would actually be here? He’s too cool for this shit”. Meanwhile, Bowie’s acceptance speech ruffled some feathers north of the border; not so much for the guff about rabbits on the moon, but the fact it ended with the plea, “Scotland – stay with us”.


Supporters of the campaign for Scottish independence wasted no time telling Bowie to “fuck off back to Mars”, while others questioned what the hell the New York resident knew about Scotland anyway. Then again, what the hell do they know about Bowie’s knowledge of the independence referendum? After all, he may well have spent much of the last two years studying Alex Salmond’s political acumen, or building economic performance simulators to work out what will happen if Scotland are forced to abandon sterling. Let’s face it, BRIT or no BRIT, it’s not like ‘The Next Day’ (one of our most disappointing albums of 2013) can have taken that much spare time to knock out…

Enough of the BRITs, let’s talk about the Russians. It’s fair to say that the Sochi Winter Olympics have not been the unmitigated PR success story Putin may have hoped they’d be, with the country’s homophobic political stance being publicly criticised by many competing nations. In an unsurprisingly brave move, Pussy Riot duly headed to the Black Sea city to continue their protests against the government, only to be literally be whipped by Cossacks enlisted to patrol the Games. In response, the collective released a music video for their brilliantly-named track ‘Putin Will Teach You How To Love’ (below), which includes footage of the attack. We hereby nominate Pussy Riot for Best International Group at next year’s BRITs. And for One Direction to be whipped by Cossacks live onstage.

Other political protest in the music world this week came from a less likely source; specifically, from the pages of Kerrang! magazine about fifteen years ago. Yep, Eminem, Korn and Ice Cube teamed up with activist group Anonymous to produce ‘Omnipotent’, a music video released to promote a ‘Worldwide Wave of Action’ towards global change. Except, er, they didn’t. Sadly the video is just a (badly) remixed mash-up of existing songs. Is this what Anonymous thinks is going to spur people into revolution? Because a revolution of overgrown nu-metallers is not a particularly enticing one…

The big tech news this week was Facebook buying messaging service WhatsApp for an eye-watering $19bn. Indeed, the price was so high that a ‘Things That Are Cheaper Than WhatsApp’ Tumblr appeared almost instantly. Whether Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, and previously Instagram, is an attempt to incorporate them more fully into their site, or, as The Daily Digest’s Darren Hemmings suspects, simply a policy of buying the social network’s successors, remains to be seen. One obvious motive for their strategy is summed up on Pando Daily – basically, buy whichever service is responsible for processing the most photos. Facebook, remember, made its name with photo sharing…

To streaming, and the news that Spotify streams are to count towards the UK singles charts. What’s that? No one cares? OK then, let’s move onto Grooveshark, who are still subject to legal action from record labels who accuse it of being complicit in copyright infringement. Not only do the labels claim Grooveshark’s takedown system doesn’t do enough to dissuade users from uploading unlicensed music, they also allege that the company’s staff have been actively adding such material themselves. The latest accusation is even more serious – that they’ve also destroyed evidence pertaining to the case. It seems more than ever that Grooveshark is living on borrowed time, but we shall see…

The relationship between piracy and advertising companies also reared its head again, after a US consumer group published a report that estimated annual ad revenues for pirate sites at $227m. In news that may embarrass both major brands and services like Google Ads alike, the report claims that 30% of large piracy sites carry ads for “premium” brands, helping the sites achieve profit margins exceeding 80%. In other news, The Monitors will be announcing its new BitTorrent sister site next week…

Let’s end on a high. In our favourite label signing of the week, Robyn has added fellow Swede Zhala to the roster of her label, Konichiwa Records (named after her brilliant hit, ‘Konichiwa Bitches’). A roster that until now consisted of, well, just Robyn. Judging by the mental, tempo-changing rave blast of new track ‘Prophet’, taken from Zhala’s debut EP, they’ll make a mighty fine team. Sayonara bitches!

Kier Wiater Carnihan

STOP PRESS! We’ve just seen the statue that forms the centrepiece of Aberdeen, Washington’s celebration of its most famous son, Kurt Cobain, as reported on in our last Newspunch. It doesn’t disappoint:

Kurt Cobain statue

Even better, much like the Virgin Mary statue in that episode of Only Fools & Horses, it’s permanently crying:

Kurt cobain statue crying

Sculptors of Aberdeen, we salute you.

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