Why Radiohead are rubbish, Justin Timberlake isn't a sex god, and Ocean Colour Scene might be good after all

As Radiohead pick up five NME nominations, Caroline Sullivan reckons it has more to do with their politics than their music. Plus: why Justin Timberlake isn't a sex god, and Ocean Colour Scene might be good after all

The shortlist for the NME Awards was announced yesterday. You'll no doubt be amazed to learn that Radiohead top the list with their customary thousand nominations. Is OTR alone in wondering, also for the thousandth time, just what it is about this group that has installed them as the noughties' sacred rock cows? Let's cut through the customary excuse that their "articulate" and "outspokenly politicised" stance makes everything they do worthwhile. (To OTR's disgust, even the Today programme fell for this, inviting Thom Yorke to be guest editor for a day between Christmas and New Year.) Why does no one ever address the fact that their actual music is lumpen, ponderous and unlistenable? Like those leather-bound Shakespeare sets most people buy their CDs not to play but to leave on display to impress friends. (And before the peevish emails arrive - yes, I have the sensitivity of a rhinoceros, and wouldn't know a good song if I fell over it. Obviously.)
News: Radiohead top NME Awards nominations
NME Awards nominations
Radiohead
Radiohead: At Ease
Today programme: Thom Yorke as guest editor

That said, OTR's NME-nominations bile isn't reserved solely for Yorkey, as nobody calls him. There's also Justin Timberlake, who's up for Best Solo Act. It's not his relative skill with a tune I'm disputing, but his elevation to sex-god status - an inexplicable shift in the way this geeky little chap is perceived. In Timberlake, I think, we have the perpetuation of the Barry White Myth: the allegedly sexy crooner who's actually manifestly unsexy. Here's the test, Justin fans - suppose your dreams came true and Timberlake were advancing on you, hot-handed and face like a slapped ass. Would you succumb, or, more likely, run screeching? Ha - I knew it.
Justin Timberlake
Net Notes: Barry White

The Divine Comedy, aka dandyish Ulsterman Neil Hannon, are back with their first album in three years, Absent Friends, on March 29. And about time, too.
The Divine Comedy

Classical "crossover" has been tarred by association with pop turns such as ex-Hear'Say singer Myleene Klass, who was recently relaunched herself as a pianist. So how will the new violin duo Duel fare? The pair, who met at the Royal Northern College of Music, have boy-band looks, which is damning enough, but what will really raise classical hackles is the fact that they were discovered by Pete Waterman. A long-time classical fan, apparently, he produced their debut album (out February 16), which is aimed at the Charlotte Church/Hayley Westenra audience.
Duel
Myleene Klass
Charlotte Church
Hayley Westenra

Franz Ferdinand's majestic Take Me Out deserved its number-three debut in the singles chart, and the Glasgow band are the stars of the NME Awards tour, which got underway on Monday. (The Von Bondies, The Rapture and Funeral for a Friend are also on the bill.) But even as they're being proclaimed the princelings of a grand guitar movement, OTR can't help thinking they sound very much like Ocean Colour Scene. Think about it - those beefy male vocals, the sense of heaving masculinity, the grinding chords - who'd have thought that the Scene, butt of years of cruel jokes, might be finally vindicated?
Review: NME tour
Franz Ferdinand
Von Bondies
Rapture
Funeral for a Friend
Ocean Colour Scene

In your dreams, love: heralding the release of the new album by Emma Bunton (now rebranded as simply "Emma", as if the public automatically associates that name with the droopy ex-Spice Girl), a press release draws attention to "her astounding success in 2003". Really? What was that, then?
Emma Bunton

The GuardianTramp

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