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Music Thread - trends, business related news, etc; -music business related news
Topic Started: Jun 6 2005, 01:02 PM (7,906 Views)
Melissa
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Evil Admin Extraordinaire™

Everybody has their favourites in music. So, I'll tell you all about mine and you can tell me about yours. ;)

While I listen to all types of music, there are some things about these artists I'm about to mention that just stand out among the crowd and appeal to me as a music lover. First up, I want to mention the two female soloists I admire:

Celine Dion -- Ok, I might get some eye rolls for this, but in my opinion she is a strong vocalist with a great range (as if it wasn't apparent that I'm a fan by my avatar :P). Even if you don't like her, you have to admit she has one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in the world today. That being said, I'm not a fan of the watered down dance-pop she's doing now (such as "I Drove All Night" and "You And I"), but I am rather partial to her Falling Into You album. That album includes the 7-minute rock epic "It's All Coming Back To Me Now", and was probably what spawned my interest in female-fronted rock bands. Her French music is also superior to the majority of her English recordings, as one can sense that little "something extra" she has when she sings in her native tongue, along with sensitivity and restraint. Some wonderful French songs she's recorded include "Le Vol D'un Ange", "Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore", "L'Abandon" and "Des Mots Qui Sonnent". The majority of her English songs leave something to be desired, but some of her better ones include "If You Asked Me To", "Love Can Move Mountains", "Refuse To Dance" and "Where Does My Heart Beat Now". Yes, I dislike "My Heart Will Go On" as well due to it having been so overplayed, but that isn't all there is to her music. So, as the saying goes, don't knock it before you've tried it. ;)

Loreena McKennitt -- A Celtic singer with a heavenly voice and a skilled pianist, she's a great stress reliever to listen to and most particularly when one has had enough of over-processed computerized pop. Her tracks are far more oraganic in nature and are usually garnished with acoustic guitar, mandolin and other string instruments. The radio remix of her song "The Mummer's Dance" was incredibly popular on the pop charts in 1997, but on her Book Of Secrets album, the song is far smoother and low-key. Other great tracks from that album are "Dante's Prayer" (which includes vocals from a Russian choir), "The Highwayman" (an adaptation the poem by Alfred Noyes) and "Night Ride Across The Caucasus". Her first album since she went on hiatus in 2000 (which was due to her grief over her fiance's death) will not be released until September 2006.

Next, there's the bands I adore:

Enigma -- The band that started the chilled-ethereal-techno-with-pop-vocals-and-chanting craze, their most popular songs are "Sadeness" and "Return To Innocence" here in the US. But they also have some incredible tracks that either didn't do so well in the Billboard charts (such as "Mea Culpa", "Silence Must Be Heard", "The Rivers Of Belief" and "Gravity Of Love") or were never even released as singles (such as "I Love You, I'll Kill You", "Knocking On Forbidden Doors", "The Roundabout" and "Light Of Your Smile"). Their greatest hits collection (titled Love Sensuality Devotion and released in 2001) is their best offering thus far and features one of my favourite tracks, the Midnight Man remix of "TNT For The Brain". I'd recommend trying to get a hold of the seven-minute Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods) remix of "The Eyes Of Truth" (it's featured on the first Matrix movie's soundtrack) and their 2004 single "Voyageur" in addition to their GH album.

Evanescence -- Although most people only heard of them once they released "Bring Me To Life" in 2003 through Wind-Up/Sony Music, they've actually been around since 1996. Before their cameo on the Daredevil soundtrack shot them to the top of the charts, they were releasing EPs of their music underground, and actually have more than 50 songs to their name. They originated as a goth rock band, and leaned more into the metal genre once they were signed to a major label. Their lead vocalist, Amy Lee, has a stunning voice full of passion and grit. Some of their best recordings are from their 2000 indie release Origin. By all means, download the songs from Origin if you're interested. Amy doesn't approve of the fakes going for hundreds of dollars on eBay, and even said she'd rather her fans download the band's pre-signing songs than get ripped off.

Within Temptation -- A gothic metal band from the Netherlands fronted by a gifted vocalist named Sharon Den Adel. They've been around since 1998, and started out with a male "death growler" in their ranks, but dropped him before they recorded their second full-length album Mother Earth (which later became a hit in Europe). They released a new album called The Silent Force last year, and have seen considerable success with the new singles "Stand My Ground" and "Memories". A lot of comparisons are made between WT and Evanescence because they're both rock-metal bands with raven-haired female vocalists and orchestral and choir flourishes but, while they are indeed similar in some ways, there's really no comparison in the sound of Sharon and Amy's voices and the style of the music backing them. They're both great bands, plain and simple.

Lacuna Coil -- Yet another female fronted goth-rock band I enjoy, but this one is from Italy. The lead singer is Cristina Scabbia and she usually trades vocals on LC's tracks with a male vocalist. As a third generation Italian, I can't help but get drawn into their Italian-language song "Senzafine" and the instrumental "Un Fantasma Tra Noi". They've recorded more English tracks than Italian ones, however, which are also excellent. "Heaven's A Lie" and "Swamped" are wonderful rock tunes, and "The Ghost Woman And The Hunter" is a heartwrenching ballad. The only thing I dislike is the lower quality of the mixing in their tracks, which has Cristina's voice sometimes deluged by the instrumentation rather than at the forefront, as it should be. I eventually intend to aquire a copy of their Comalies album, however. And yes, comparisons are also made between Lacuna Coil and Evanescence as well, even though they're absolutely nothing alike.

Queen -- An old favourite for both myself and my mother. The impact this band had on rock music goes without saying, and their music continues to be popular. Who didn't laugh at Wayne and Garth's rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the Wayne's World movie, and who can't help but grin at how fitting "Princes Of The Universe" is as the Highlander television series' theme song? Freddie Mercury remains an incredibly talented and unique vocalist, and we will never see his like again.

Tenacious D -- A two-person band made up of the comic duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass. While Jack Black has now found stardom in Hollywood as an actor (Shallow Hal, Orange County or School Of Rock anyone?) he's also quite the decent vocalist. Kyle Gass is a gifted guitarist as well, and the songs Jack and kyle perform are hilarious and filled to the brim with offbeat (although sometimes obscene) jokes about the things that make single guys tick: beer, food, women, sex and crowing about their own greatness. This, of course, makes them a perfect parody of those old pompous rock bands who got hung up on their own success during the 70s.

And, because my list of favourite music wouldn't be complete without them, there's the soundtracks I'm addicted to:

Titanic -- The movie was insipid, but the soundtrack (both volumes!) is choice classical music. Look beyond the overplayed radio hit theme song "My Heart Will Go On", and you'll find enjoyable pieces such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band", "Southampton", "A Building Panic", "Nearer My God To Thee" (the song the real band played as the ship went down), and "Come, Josephine, In My Flying Machine" (a song that was popular the year before the RMS Titanic made its fateful maiden voyage). It's good to chill to, but a little creepy at the same time.

Queen Of The Damned -- Another soundtrack where the movie wasn't all that great, but the music is superior. I hated how Warner Bros. Pictures f***ed up Anne Rice's "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen Of The Damned" novels into an incoherent paean to MTV and pop culture. But the kickin' hard rock riffs on the soundtrack (with offerings by the likes of Static X's Wayne Static, Disturbed's David Draiman, Orgy's Jay Gordon and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington) is almost enough to make me forgive the suits at the WB tower. Almost.

Chicago -- Finally, a great soundtrack to a great movie/musical. Originally a Broadway musical (and before that, a play), the movie coyly pokes fun at fame and gives a rather tongue-in-cheek look at power, greed and corruption. Most of the characters are absolute jerks, but you can't help being awed by the spectacle. The songs are infectious too. Who at some point hasn't found themselves humming the tune to or quoting a lyric from "All That Jazz" or "Razzle Dazzle" after watching the movie? Catherine Zeta-Jones (one of my favourite actresses) and Renee Zellweger are surprisingly talented vocalists. Richard Gere's voice, while not fantastic, is passable enough and conveys enough "oomph" to make you believe he really is bigshot lawyer Billy Flynn. And the man can tapdance, to boot!

Forever Knight -- The soundtrack to my favourite television show ever, this is a slice of early-90s Goth heaven. There are some truly great songs on the two volumes that unfortunately aren't very well known; such as "Heart Of Darkness", "Break The Silence", "Touch The Night" and "Dark Side Of The Glass". Canadian pop-rock singers Lori Yates and Molly Johnson provided vocals, and producer Stan Meissner wrote the lyrics and offered guitar riffs. On the instrumental tracks, Fred Mollin (one of the most critically lauded television soundtrack composers of all time) played all the instruments. This soundtrack is clearly Fred's baby, but it would still be wonderful to hear updated versions of these songs in a modern-day hard rock style.

So, now that you know what I like, how about you? Who's your favourites? ^_^
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The 1 Not Fooled
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I'm an eighties chick, especially fond of British techno-pop groups. Style-wise, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George were huge influences on me. Dorky, I suppose, but I consider them to be some of the more recent true individuals (unlike Madonna who was always copying something she saw somewhere, however obscure it may have been at the time).
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flea dip
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I have that Loreena McKennitt CD. I also bought the single of The Mummers' Dance, because the CD version was a little different from the radio edit.

I don't really have any favorites anymore. Since the 1990s onwards, I've been disinterested in most music. I tend to like singles rather than a specific band or singer.

When I was a teen ager, I loved "Heart," "ABC," "A-ha" and "The Thompson Twins," then in my later teen years I loved "Siouxsie and the Banshees" and "The Dead Milkmen."

Into the 1990s, my faves were Roy Orbison, The Mavericks, and Dwight Yoakam.

I've always liked Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash.

I remain a big fan of most 1980s pop music.

A lot of the singers and bands I listed above? I still like them and from time to time listen to their stuff, I'm just not as devoted a fan as I once was. Roy Orbison's music pulled me through some tough times. I totally related to that man's lyrics, particuarly to his fondness for dreams and day dreams.

Trivia:
Unless someone performed it before he did, Roy Orbison originally perfomed the song I Drove All Night, then Cyndi Lauper did a remake of it sometime - maybe in the mid 1990s? I remember thinking it was weird because I already had Orbison's version of it. Then some time later, Celine Dion did a cover of it.

The Dion song from the ship movie didn't bother me too much - it was just that back when I used to listen to the radio (and I listened A LOT, at least to adult contemporary stations in the 1990s), I was so completely sick of it. If the stations had not over played it, it wouldn't have been so bad. It was just absolute over-kill with that song.

I felt like screaming,
"Okay, the ship sank, get over it, get some therapy!" :laugh:

Oooh yeah, when I finally rented Titanic (I missed it at the theaters), I told the kid at the counter when I returned the rental, "I watched this movie twice. The ship sank the second time, too." He looked at me like I was an idiot. He totally did not get that I was acting stupid on purpose. :laugh:
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yahwehsown
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I love Mariah even though she made some poor choices. However she is rebounding quite nicely with her latest. I also go crazy over Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. I think that John Mayer is a quality act and I adore Ottmar Liebert's music.
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planet_rock
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At least once a week I have to get my punk rock fix with the Ramones and the Pixies. :band: Then I want to be calmed down and soothed with the melodic genius of Stevie Wonder.

On a rainy day, I start loving the sublime depression of the Smiths.

And when I'm happy, it's the Jackson Five! T-Rex! And some dance music by Amber, Technotronic, Donna Summer and Moby!

I love music. Always have since I was a little squirt.

I admire Mariah for her fabulous voice, wish she knew that she doesn't have to dress up all hoochie-mama, because she has talent! I'm prolly gonna get her new album.

Celine's music is not my style but no one can deny her powerful vocal pipes.

I love 80's new wave!

And I'm partial to Hank Williams' yodel-y way of singing a tortured love song.
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The 1 Not Fooled
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Quote:
 
I admire Mariah for her fabulous voice, wish she knew that she doesn't have to dress up all hoochie-mama, because she has talent!

This is a good point. She doesn't have to be cheesy, so it's sad when she acts that way.
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mirrorimage
Not a sell-out.

I absolutely love and admire Coldplay & The Beatles as a group or as John Lennon or Paul. I love colplay's latest album X&Y. I just love their style so much. I'm a big admirer of Annie Lennox's voice though I like her older stuff better and some club remixes of her latest songs.

Gwen Stefani has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. She has a fun style.

Alot of people don't like Mariah but I guess I do like her now looking through my cd collection. I have almost all her albums without even knowing it. I think she has a gifted voice.

I like Old Celine Dion.

Kelly Clarkson

Some Depeche, Trent R., Chris Cornell, Pink Flloyd, Queen.

Most of the time I'm listening to a shuffle of dance or electronica.

I prefer having oldies from the 60s 70s and 80s, having a specific fav singer from those times is hard cause I just love the music from those times. It had life and I'm guessing 99% was original.

This list can go on if I actually sat down and thought thoroughly.

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Mihoshi Marie
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Just a very brief list; I will edit it when I get home (at work, need to stop posting during work hours):

Garbage
Ladytron
Goldfrapp
Rammstein
Depeche Mode
Lacuna Coil
Within Temptation
Nightwish
Killswitch Engage
Evanescence

That's just bands. Hehe.
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flyingpenguin
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Shanghi-ed Away
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Hmmm, let's see.

Depeche Mode
Evanescence
Lacuna Coil
Nightwish
Within Temptation
Alice in Chains
Duran Duran
Taproot
Linkin Park
Seether
Fuel
Blue October
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MissThang
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Ultimate Madonna Hater
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My faves -

ABBA
The Smiths/Morrissey (older material)
New Order
Dusty Springfield
Kirsty MacColl
Kylie Minogue
Pulp/Relaxed Muscle
The Stone Roses
Happy Mondays...
and much more.
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Mihoshi Marie
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This doesn't mention Madonna, so that's why it's here. It is very interesting:

Quote:
 
Africans puzzled by Live 8 but hope for change
By Rebecca Harrison Sun Jul 3,10:35 AM ET

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Few Africans watched the star-studded Live 8 gigs meant to highlight their plight but many said on Sunday any bid to relieve poverty was welcome -- even faraway rock concerts performed for rich whites.


Up to 2 billion people watched broadcasts of Saturday's Live 8 concerts, performed on four continents to help draw attention to poverty in Africa and press the world's most powerful leaders to cancel debt, boost aid and scrap unfair trade barriers.

Yet in Africa where most people are too poor to own a TV, only a fraction of those meant to benefit actually saw the event billed as the world's biggest concert and those who did were puzzled by endless footage of white men with guitars.

"I don't know who Bob Geldof is," said Edward Romoki in downtown Johannesburg when asked what he thought of the man behind the concerts. "But people are speaking about poverty and there is plenty of that in Africa -- maybe a concert like this can put Africa in the news and change things."

Maxwell Shirima, a 25-year-old who makes around $5 a day selling oranges at the side of the road in Tanzania said he had no idea there were any concerts being staged to help Africa.

"I haven't heard anything about it, but anything to help us is good," he said.

ACTION NOT WORDS

Africans who knew about the concerts thought they were a good idea but wondered why their own musicians had been sidelined -- a criticism that prompted the last-minute addition of the much smaller Johannesburg gig.

"What do participating musicians know about Africa?" asked Susan Outa, a student in Nairobi. "How do we know whether half of them have even visited a single African country?"

At the Johannesburg show on Saturday some 8,000 people stared nonplussed at a giant screen beaming live footage of U2 and other western acts little known in Africa from glitzier concerts in rich countries.

But while artists said they would have loved to share the stage with international stars such as Bjork and Bono, they said the local concert offered a chance to educate young Africans about the issues behind their daily strife.

"As a young African man this gives me a chance to talk to other young Africans about the issues that are stopping them from being free," said Zola, South Africa's king of kwaito -- a version of hiphop that grew from the townships.

Between pumping tunes, Zola and other performers drew huge cheers as they preached debt relief and free trade to a crowd largely unversed in international economics.

Despite skepticism over how much a bunch of rock stars could change their lives, many Africans were hopeful a meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) richest countries next week would yield results.

"I hope the G8 will find a solution to our problems," said unemployed 21-year-old Isa Mlambo in Johannesburg. "They always promise, but I am hoping this time they will take action."

Kenyan student Phillip Khisa reckoned Africa must first fight its own battles and wondered whether even debt write-off would help a continent blighted by corruption.

"You know we have a greedy government. Even if they cancel the debt, it will not help if the government is greedy. Senior government officials should cut their salaries first."

-Yahoo.com


Much thanks to Kristen "mylittlefriend" from LiveJournal, who posted this on the community Oh No They Didn't!.
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flea dip
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Rock Star From Mars

Reminds me of one article I saw - the headline was 'Africans ask for support not sympathy.'

Be sure to see the thread I started in the "Global Outlook" forum called "Cynical About Live 8."
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MissThang
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This whole G8/Live 8 business is a HOT MESS! I just can't stand these people (Geldof/Bono and the rest of their ilk) look down at these people.

I posted these two articles at the Music-Wasteland board. They really opened my eyes more to the tatics Bob Geldof and gang use for publicity and their misson for more fame.

Quote:
 
Who saved Birhan Woldu's life?
Posted ImageLive Aid apparently saved the Ethiopian famine’s poster child in 1985, and 20 years later the UK media claims it ‘found’ her looking beautiful. Nice story - shame about the facts.


'She had 10 minutes to live 20 years ago. Because of Live Aid 20 years ago, because we did a concert in this city and in Philadelphia, last week she did her agricultural exams in the school she goes to in the northern Ethiopian highlands. She is here. Don't let them tell you that this doesn't work. Look at this beautiful woman.' (1)


So Sir Bob Geldof introduced the audience of last weekend's London Live 8 concert to Birhan Woldu, the 24-year-old agricultural student from Ethiopia, better known as the 'poster child' for the Ethiopian famine of 1984. Then, that was an unforgettable image: a three-year-old girl, eyelids flickering on the brink of death, set to the soundtrack of 'Drive' by The Cars. Twenty years on, the contrast between the starving child and the striking young woman who danced with Madonna and addressed the crowd in the name of Africa reportedly moved everyone to tears.


Which shows how effective emotional manipulation can be, if you're just prepared to tweak the facts for the sake of your own self-esteem.


It is true that Birhan Woldu was starving to death in 1984. It is true that today, her life seems immeasurably better - she is a healthy, beautiful young woman who is studying for exams, not scavenging for food. It is also true that the film of Birhan during the 1984 famine made a major impact upon the UK public; and it may even be true that, as Geldof claims, this film was 'why we did this' (2) - why Geldof and co set up Band Aid, releasing the charity single 'Do They Know It's Christmas' in late 1984 and organising the Live Aid concert the following year, which raised significant amounts of money for Ethiopian famine relief.


What is not true is the series of grandiose claims that have been made about how UK popstars and journalists changed Birhan Woldu's life. It is not true that Live Aid saved Birhan Woldu's life, as the press has reported. It is not true that she has Live Aid to thank for the fact that she is now at university, as Geldof would have it. It is not true that this miracle child was 'found' by the British tabloid press.


Above all, it is not true that Birhan Woldu is living proof that 'it works' - that a crowd of pop stars and their fans feeling good about themselves in London can transform the lives of the people of Africa. Rather, the attempt by Bob Geldof and his media fan club to manipulate this young woman's story into another feel-good tale reveals the patronising, crass and self-obsessed nature of the Live 8 message.


So what really happened to Birhan Woldu? A swift Google search throws up a lengthy feature by the prominent Canadian journalist Brian Stewart, published on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC, and originally published in The National in December 2004, the time of the Band Aid reunion (3). Stewart describes how he and his camera crew were reporting from Tigray in the North of Ethiopia in October 1984, when they arrived at a Catholic feeding centre 'that was overwhelmed with parents bringing in sick and starving children'. '[W]e began moving along the wall, talking to mothers', he writes, when they spotted 'three-year-old Birhan Woldu, cradled in her father Ato's arms'.


Stewart continues: 'As they reached the wall I noticed her slumping to the pavement and called a nurse but it seemed too late…. We left, to at least allow her dignity in death. Her grave was already being dug outside, alongside thousands of other victims. Hours later when we returned for the funeral, I was astonished to find what seemed a near miracle. The nurse, holding Birhan tells me: "Yes I think she will live now. We gave her some rehydration shots and we hope she'll come through"…. This was my last sight of her in the famine, still weak, frightened, carried by her father out of the relief centre, back into the chaos outside. Nurses thought she'd be now safe and we had to move on.'


Stewart writes that, at the time, 'I had no sense this would later become the legendary face of famine'. But his crew's pictures were broadcast across the world, and 'the world finally responded to Ethiopia' - culminating in the Live Aid concert one year later. Which indicates, to anyone with the basic ability to tell the time, that Live Aid could not have 'saved' Birhan's life at all. Her father saved her life, by getting her to the feeding station; the nurse saved her life, by rehydrating her in the nick of time; you could even perhaps argue that Stewart saved her life by calling out to the nurse. But how could anybody credit a Live Aid concert that was not even conceived of for snatching this little girl from the jaws of death almost one year previously? 


What happened next? To read the accounts in the UK press, you would think that Birhan Woldu's life was made suddenly prosperous by all that aid flooding in, allowing her to escape grinding poverty to enrol at university - only to be 'found' 20 years later by gregarious journalists from the British press. Brian Stewart's version of events could not be more different.


'I would return again and again to Ethiopia to cover relief operations in the High North', he writes (4). 'Over years, I often thought of Birhan and even grew increasingly haunted with fears of her fate. In 1988, four years after my last sight of her, we launched a major search, using photos and village contacts. The odds seemed hopeless. Then we got word, and at a feeding centre we saw the unmistakable face of Ato Woldu and his daughter, Birhan, now seven.' Three years on from Live Aid, then, and what remained of the Woldu family were back at a feeding centre. At this point, Stewart became personally involved: 'I arranged some schooling and local help.'


He lost touch with Birhan's family again during the war, and it was not until the 1990s that 'word came from Tigray. Birhan was safe. In 1995, a decade after the famine, I was able to really establish the friendship with the family that has endured ever since'. Working through the small UK-based charity A-CET (African Children's Educational Trust), Stewart has funded Birhan and her siblings through education, to the tune of around £80 per month (5). And through reporting on her progress for documentaries after the 1984 famine, he has kept her, even to a limited degree, in the public eye. This is why she 'is quietly pursuing her dream of higher education in Ethiopia' - her father, meanwhile, 'still farms a small plot of land and continues a passion for making honey' (6).



In many ways, this is a touching story - about a young girl's amazing survival in the face of death, and a journalist's evolving relationship with the subject of his documentary films. But this story has been exploited and distorted by what Stewart himself terms the 'media cyclone' unleashed by the twentieth anniversary of the Ethiopian famine, of Band Aid and Live Aid. In his December 2004 article, Stewart writes, with a degree of incredulity: 'The British tabloids, a world unto themselves, have just discovered, this year, that Birhan is "alive" and even claimed, bizarrely, to have just "found her".' (7) (The Sun's Oliver Harvey is still sporting the byline 'The man who found Birhan' (8).) Stewart continues: 'For two weeks Birhan is whisked through a celebrity tour in London. As a "discovery" she was raced to meet Geldof and prime minister Tony Blair. Then as international fame spreads, she comes to Chicago where in a surreal moment she joins me in the Oprah Winfrey show's stretch limo on the way to a taping.'


Surreal indeed - and why? Not because Birhan Woldu is desperately seeking fame and celebrity - as her friend, a translator and fellow famine survivor Bisrat Mesfin, told Brian Stewart in December 2004: 'She has no idea who Bob Geldof was or who these people are or why is she meeting them all this. She didn't have any idea.' (9) Not because remembering the famine represents some kind of healing process for Ethiopians: 'We don't talk about it', said Mesfin. 'It's something that is a traumatic emotional thing and in my generation or Birhan's generation, we never talk about it. It's very, very pain and I think we prefer to thinking about the future.' And while Birhan Woldu seems to have risen admirably to the occasion that she has been thrust into, talking about her 'responsibility' to 'fulfil the hope of [being a] symbol', as we have argued on spiked, the nauseating pop-n-politics posturing around Live 8 only obscures critical discussion of the problems with aid and the barriers to Africa's development.


What Birhan Woldu's story really symbolises, distorted as it has been by the 'media cyclone' that Brian Stewart describes, is that this Live 8 circus has nothing to do with starving children, and is really All About Us. We are shown old footage that makes us cry so that we can feel better about ourselves today; we are presented with a beacon of hope from Africa and told that all the credit should go to us. This is a grotesque insult to those like Birhan Woldu, who should have lived to tell their own story - not to have it fictionalised into a poster child for Western self-congratulation.
Spiked Online
Quote:
 
Where are the bodies, Bob?
Bob Geldof told millions of TV viewers that dead African children wash up on a tiny Italian island every day. The island’s mayor says that is 'absolute nonsense'.

by Brendan O'Neill

Bob Geldof, the tousle-haired rocker turned self-styled spokesman for Africa, is everywhere lately. You can barely open a paper or switch on the box without seeing him explain why the world needs Live 8 (the global gig he and Midge Ure are organising on 2 July), or slating eBay for allowing users to put Live 8 tickets up for auction, or encouraging people to march to Edinburgh to put pressure on the G8 leaders meeting in Gleneagles from 6 to 8 July. He has a glossy new coffee-table book out called Geldof in Africa, and his BBC TV programme of the same name kicked off on Monday. 'Africa is quite simply the most extraordinary, beautiful and luminous place on our planet', Geldof told BBC viewers.

But, for me, one comment recently made by Geldof stands out more than any other. On Friday Night With Jonathan Ross on BBC 1 on 10 June, he told a hushed studio audience, and millions of viewers, about an island off Italy where 'thousands' of dead Africans - men, women and children fleeing poverty in makeshift boats - have washed up on the beaches.

'There's an island called Lampedusa, near Sicily', he said, and recently 'the mayor of Lampedusa was asking the [Italian] mainland to send cargo ships to pick up the dead bodies of African children that were washing up daily on his beaches'. There are so many corpses, said Geldof, that the mayor of Lampedusa had 'no room left on his island to bury them - not in the graveyards, he had no room left on his island, no room left in any of the fields, to bury the mothers and dads and the children that were washing up daily on his beaches, these people trying to get to a better life, thousands of them'. The mainland authorities had started 'sending cargo ships, to fill up the ships with bodies', Geldof said.

For Geldof, this story just about summed up the tragedy of Africa. 'This can't go on', he said. 'It can't go on. It's a broken world.' Even Jonathan Ross was left speechless for once, while the studio audience applauded Geldof's passionate description of African immigrants' plight. It conjured up a powerful and shocking image, of desperate Africans tossed around by the choppy Mediterranean waters and washing up dead on an island that is an upmarket tourist destination for the Italian middle classes. But how accurate was Geldof's description? Not accurate at all, according to the mayor of Lampedusa.

A spokesman for the mayor describes as 'absolute nonsense' the claim that Lampedusa is so packed with dead immigrants that it has no room left to bury anymore. 'There are 15 immigrants buried in the Christian graveyard in Lampedusa', he says. He also denies that dead bodies wash up on the shores of Lampedusa 'daily'. There have been tragedies where immigrants have died en route from North Africa to Lampedusa, but he says the dead immigrants tend to be in boats, not washed-up corpses on beaches. 'The dead immigrants arrive in the same boats as the living', he claims. 'The worst tragedy happened a few years ago when a boat was intercepted with 15 corpses and some survivors. On that occasion the corpses were sent to Rome where mass was celebrated in their honour. The most recent case of immigrants who arrived dead was in May 2005. There were two bodies and they were sent to Favara [in Sicily] on two hearses on board a ferry.' So bodies don't wash up on the beaches of Lampedusa on a daily basis? 'No.'

He says the mayor 'categorically denies' that he asked the Italian mainland to send cargo ships to pick up dead bodies, as Geldof claimed. A spokesperson at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Rome, which oversees immigration matters across Italy, tells me there is no record of a request from the mayor of Lampedusa for cargo ships to be dispatched to recover corpses.

Lampedusa certainly has what they call an 'immigration problem'. It is a tiny island, about 20 square kilometres, and is closer to Africa than Italy - described as a speck in the Mediterranean sea, it is 113 kilometres from Tunisia and 205 kilometres from the coast of Sicily. It is a tourist resort renowned for its unspoiled beaches and deep-sea diving opportunities. And because it is one of the closest parts of the European Union to North Africa it is often also the first port of call for Africans hoping to make their way to a better life in Europe. Each week, scores of 'illegal immigrants' - from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and even some from the Middle East - arrive by boat in Lampedusa and other small Italian islands, and also in Sicily, hoping to move from there into Europe proper.

According to the BBC, between 1 January and 15 September 2004, a total of 9,666 immigrants were caught illegally entering the Sicily region of Italy, which includes Lampedusa (1). Gregory White of the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California says that the majority of immigrants who arrive in tiny Lampedusa are sent by officials to processing centres in Sicily; there, most of them are given expulsion orders that give them 15 days to leave the country, which they tend to do by moving on to the European mainland - again by taking risks - rather than going back to Africa (2). Others are kept in a 'reception centre' in Lampedusa, a very overcrowded and controversial institution. It is built to hold 200, but according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) it holds many more than that. An Italian news agency reported yesterday - 22 June - that a further 310 immigrants had arrived in Lampedusa over the previous 24 hours, bumping up the numbers in the reception centre to 866 (3). Both MSF and Amnesty International have criticised the treatment of immigrants in Lampedusa and at other holding centres across Italy.

This movement of people from North Africa to Europe, often on small and overcrowded wooden boats, can end tragically. Boats sink, or some of the immigrants die of exhaustion or dehydration before they reach Lampedusa or Sicily. Yet even those NGOs critical of the Italian authorities' treatment of asylum seekers dispute the claims made by Geldof about scores of dead bodies washing up in places like Lampedusa.

Medecins Sans Frontieres is one of few charities with a presence in Lampedusa. It has a doctor, a nurse and a cultural mediator working on the island, who have an agreement with the authorities that they will be called whenever an immigrant boat arrives in the harbour. When I asked a spokesperson for the Italian section of MSF whether the Lampedusa-based team ever reported that African men, women and children were washing up on the beaches on a daily basis, she said: 'No, we never heard about this. We have no evidence for this.' Has she heard reports of any corpses washing up on the beaches? 'I haven't heard this. Perhaps you are confusing it with something else?'

She says that occasionally the MSF team greets boats that have dead bodies among the survivors, the last time being a month ago, when two dead men were found on board a boat (which is presumably the same incident mentioned above by the mayor's spokesman). She says it is unlikely that corpses would wash up on Lampedusa because when corpses are discarded from boats, it tends to take place far out at sea. She explains: 'From interviews with immigrants, we know that if someone dies and they are still far from Lampedusa, they throw the body overboard. This might seem shocking, but the boats are very overcrowded and the journey is long. However, if someone dies near to Lampedusa, they keep the body on board, so that it can be dealt with more respectfully when they reach harbour.'

What about claims that there are so many dead immigrants on Lampedusa that the mayor has nowhere left to bury them? Again, she has heard nothing about this. She has heard reports, however, that the authorities in Lampedusa are considering extending the island's graveyard, to include a special section in which those immigrants who arrive dead can be buried. Does she know how many immigrants have been buried in the graveyard to date? 'No. I think it would be a small number. Fifty or 100, I would guess.' (The mayor's spokesman said 15.)

If both the authorities in Lampedusa and critics of their asylum policy dispute the claim that dead bodies of African children are washing up daily on Lampedusa, where did Geldof get his story from? His spokesperson tells me he saw it in the Italian paper La Repubblica while he was in Italy at the end of May. A search of La Repubblica's archives for May and June brings up a steady stream of news reports about Lampedusa - about the arrival of more and more immigrants; the sinking of a boat in the Sicilian Channel, 155 miles from Lampedusa, in which two people died, 14 went missing, and 11 were rescued; and the sinking of a boat off the coast of Libya, which was presumed to be heading for Lampedusa, in which 14 died, six were rescued and three are missing, presumed dead (that incident was dealt with by the Libyan authorities). There is no mention in the paper's recent archives of corpses washing up on Lampedusa every day or of bodies buried everywhere on the island.

Geldof's spokesperson later says that he might have read it in a different paper. 'Look, maybe the way he said it made it sound like there are thousands of bodies washing up on this island all the time, I don't know', she says. 'The point he's trying to make', she continues, 'is that we should care more. There are terrible things happening on our doorstep'.
Terrible things do indeed happen in Africa. But what purpose is served by making those things sound even more terrible than they are? By talking about the movement of immigrants in often hazardous journeys from North Africa to Europe as African mothers and children washing up daily on European beaches in this 'broken world' of ours? Is it that Geldof and others involved in Live 8 believe we will only care more if Africa is presented to us in the most lurid (and, it would seem, sometimes inaccurate) way possible? You could argue that the immigrants who risk it all to get from Africa to Europe are showing great courage and initiative, only to be thwarted by fearful European authorities at the other end. Yet in Geldof's vocabulary they become yet more African victims who need we in the West to care for them.

Who knows where Geldof got the story about dead Africans on the beaches of Lampedusa from. And perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that there seems to be little hard evidence to back up his claims - despite the elevation of Geldof, Bono and others to the status of unofficial spokesmen for Africa, these are hardly world authorities on African affairs and events. What is more worrying, however, is that nobody has challenged Geldof over what he said. The only criticism I have seen was in the Spectator, where TV critic James Delingpole bemoaned Geldof's 'lachrymose homily, which got a huge cheer from the audience unfortunately' on a TV show (Friday Night With Jonathan Ross) 'normally characterised by its flipness, brazenness and irreverence' (4). Other than that, Geldof's facts have not been interrogated and his claims that 'African children were washing up daily on [Lampedusa's] beaches' have gone unchallenged.

It seems that some see Geldof as being beyond criticism and interrogation, switching off their critical faculties and nodding along whenever Saint Bob speaks for Africa. In the report of the Commission for Africa, chaired by Tony Blair and of which Geldof is a member (indeed, some refer to it as 'Bob Geldof's Commission'), it says: 'Our starting point is to tell the truth about Africa.' Surely that means sticking to the facts?

Special thanks to Michele Ledda and Dominic Standish for assistance with translation.
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The 1 Not Fooled
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Those were good articles. Personally, I wasn't even sure if that girl really was Woldu, because Geldof could pick any vibrant, healthy young female and say, "Hey, this is the same face we saw back in 1985. Look what we've done!" and most of us would be none the wiser. :ask:
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Rock Star From Mars

I didn't care enough to watch this the first time, I doubt I'll tune in for showing #2.

After debacle, MTV, VH1 will rerun Live 8 shows
  • LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After a drubbing from critics, MTV and VH1 will rerun 10 hours of coverage of the Live 8 concert events without commercials on Saturday.

    VH1 will carry the first five hours from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., while MTV will carry the second leg from 3-8 p.m.

    MTV was roundly assailed by pundits and critics for the frequent commercial breaks and other interruptions during its live coverage of the July 2 concerts.
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MissThang
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Ultimate Madonna Hater
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I second that.

The whole thing was a Hot Mess.
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MissThang
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Ultimate Madonna Hater
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I know.
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Mihoshi Marie
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to whom it may concern
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I wanted to see Hagdonna's horrific performance, but didn't get a chance to, thanks to my traitorous computer (the hard drive crashed and failed, now I must install my new 200 GB drive and reinstall everything). I will have to try to find it on the Live 8 site.

I saw a little bit of the rebroadcast, though. Only one performance. I didn't really want to sit through it again. MTV and VH1 should have done it right the first time.
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Rock Star From Mars

Thread for songs that you think should've gotten more air play than they did, that are under appreciated but shouldn't have been - should have received more recognition.

Here's mine:

By the Georgia Satellites:
  • I got a little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling
    Want to call you on the telephone baby I give you a ring
    But each time we talk I get the same old thing
    Always no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding ring
    My honey my baby dont put my love upon no shelf
    She said dont give no lies and keep your hands to yourself

    Cruel baby baby baby why you want to treat me this way
    You know Im still your lover boy I still feel the same way

    Thats when she told me a story bout free milk and a cow
    And she said no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding vow

    My honey my baby dont put my love upon no shelf
    She said dont hand me no lies and keep your hands to yourself

    You see I wanted her real bad and I was about to give in
    Thats when she started talkin true love started talkin about sin

    I said honey Ill live with you for the rest of my life
    She said no huggin no kissin until you make me your wife
    My honey my baby dont put my love on no shelf
    She dont hand me no lies and keep your hands to yourself.
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Tonygirl
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I'm actually listening to a song I've always liked, by Midge Ure. He was singer for Ultravox in the 80s, but he (and the band) didn't hit it big here in the US.
It's from a solo CD he did, the song is called "Rising" and it's really good, but I don't think it did anything even in England.
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