And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #287: The Year In Beefs

By | Published on Friday 18 December 2015

Beef Steak

Yes, it’s that time of year again. We’ve hit the festive season, where everyone’s being so happy and nice to each other that there’s no possibility of filling this column with a new story of anger and slurs. Shush, you. That is a fact. No one is angry at Christmas. And so, it just leaves me to spend my last Beef Of The Week column of 2015 looking back at the year of musical disputes just gone.

I think you can tell a lot about a year by the arguments people had throughout it, and this year we had some corkers. It really was a great year for people being comedically upset with each other, and I’m not sure what else we can ask for in life. So, here we go, the review of the year in beefs…

January: UKIP briefly becomes party of the music industry
The year started strong, with our first beef seeing Alcopop! Records going head-to-head with comedy fascists the United Kingdom Independent Party. In a new attempt to take the UK back to the 1950s, UKIP allowed the domain of their official website to lapse just after New Year. And in a moment of quick thinking tomfoolery, Alcopop! boss Jack Clothier bought it for himself. Sadly, plans to turn it into a website for the United Kingdom Indie Parties Party were scuppered when the domain was mysteriously returned to the ownership of the ineffectual racists.

February: Katy Perry and Madonna against nature
I’m still not sure what the Super Bowl is, but people seem to take it very seriously. And this year was considered very important because Katy Perry was going to do a turn in the middle of it. But afterwards, all people would talk about was some shark. Thankfully, this eventually led to what regular CMU readers will know is one of our favourite things: a tedious exchange of legal letters. Also big news this month was Madonna’s unsuccessful battle against gravity.

March: Nice brand partnership, shame about the budget
With March comes South By Southwest, once a beacon of independent spirit, now (a bit like the Super Bowl) a shrine to consumerism. This year’s big brand in town – after the Dorito’s Lady Gaga vomit party the previous year – was McDonald’s. The billion dollar flavourless burger pusher wanted some of those cool indie bands to play at its party, but sadly it didn’t have any spare cash knocking around to pay them. This policy changed after alt-rock duo Ex Cops called the company out on its no-pay-for-artists policy. Honourable mention this month: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon.

April: The polite beef
The key to relaunching your career when you’re several albums deep is to distance yourself from everyone you’ve ever worked with previously, preferably making them out to be sub-human haters of all decency. And to be fair, Leona Lewis gave it a good go as she launched her first album with Island Records. Her problem was that at heart she’s a nice person, so qualified every veiled diss with a reminder that she loves everyone she’s ever met.

May: The Zayn saga takes hold, Grooveshark makes way
By May we were getting on for two months from Zayn Malik’s departure from One Direction. But it still hurt. Emotions were still running high. And Naughty Boy really wasn’t helping anything. But the big beef development in the music industry that month was the major labels’ triumphant defeat of the once bullish Grooveshark. Actually, it happened in April, but, fuck it, this column comes out on Fridays and does not respect immediacy.

June: Ferries, ponytails, musicals and taxis
June was a big month for beefs. A big month. And it kicked off with one of 2015’s finest: Ariana Grande and her mother pitching themselves at David versus the Goliath of P&O Ferries. Even after that, June played a hard game, with Elton John pushing a security guard to tears, Deadmau5 suing a musical very loosely based on his not actual life, and – in a quite stunning turn of events – Courtney Love becoming involved in the French taxi drivers’ big Uber dispute.

July: The ascendance of Taylor Swift
This month saw the first two of a quick succession of beefs involving Taylor Swift, only one of them featuring accusations of racism. She kicked off by forcing live photographers to sign agreements so restrictive that freelancers and entire publications refused to cover her tour. Then Nicki Minaj made a valid point about the MTV Video Music Awards only honouring women who fit a certain mould, and Swift tried to make it about herself. Meanwhile, it was Neil Young’s turn to moan about streaming music, and that whole One Direction/Zayn Malik thing was still going on.

August: Taylor hates Apple. Or loves. Yeah, loves
Neil Young had his say, so in August it was Taylor Swift’s turn to shout down streaming services. She was continuing to claim that her falling out and almost immediate making up with Apple over royalties (or lack thereof) paid during the trial period on Apple Music was a win for the little guy, rather than mainly her and Apple. Then she spent a bit of time kicking Spotify, because she would apparently prefer it if Apple maintained something close to a monopoly on digital music.

September: Racism, homophobia, lies and erotic fiction
Oh what, Taylor Swift again? Yes, although this time we were back to accusations of racism. She made a video that seemed to depict “a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa”. Great work. Then Sam Smith turned out to be a massive liar, some Russian TV presenters tricked Elton John into thinking the country’s president might be becoming less homophobic, and Morrissey published his Bad Sex Award winning novel.

October: Of course Mya
In October the Beef Of The Week column delved into something that may or may not now be known as ‘factfic’ – basically taking a tiny non-story and stretching it out to 1000 words by building it into a short story about those involved. So we had a heated meeting between Adele and Apple, and a nice little adventure with Rita Ora. And Iggy Azalea, And Miley Cyrus. And Charli XCX. And Christina Aguilera. And Lil Kim. And Pink. And Missy Elliott. And, of course, Mya. Of course Mya. Of course.

November: I am done with this industry and its bullshit
There are few certainties in the music industry, but one of them is that you’ll never have to write about Sandi Thom. And fuck me, if that wasn’t proven to be untrue in November. Because you should never underestimate the power of a “leave Britney alone” style video on YouTube. Also, we saw an increasing trend of Jimmy Iovine saying something completely idiotic. Oh, and Taylor Swift went to a foreign country and offended people. Again.

December: Have the taxi drivers explained themselves yet?
A short month, and one with only two proper Beef Of The Week columns. One proved that even if you can’t find an actual beef, it’s possible to twist anything roughly into the correct format. The other saw Drake’s big 2015 defining single left out of the Grammy Awards because his label forgot about it.

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