The week in music: Taylor Swift 'missing the point', Springsteen's surprise show and more

Our weekly news roundup, from Taylor Swift’s Twitter climbdown to Bruce Springsteen’s Jersey gig and Eminem’s vast vocabulary

A casual tweet revealed photos from Nirvana’s first gig

Pictures of my dad and Kurt Cobain playing together back in the day😎

— Maggs❂ (@mjpoukkula) July 16, 2015

Nineteen-year-old barista Maggie Poukkula sparked some Kurt Cobain-related hysteria last Friday when she tweeted old photographs of her father playing live with Nirvana in 1987. The Washington house show was the band’s first – though Poukkula initially didn’t think the photos were that historic. For fans of the band, it’s another chance to see the kind of archive materials that appeared in Brett Morgen’s recent documentary, Montage of Heck.

Phil Rudd was arrested and held in custody overnight in New Zealand

The AC/DC drummer may not be coping particularly well with his eight-month house-arrest sentence. On Sunday, he was arrested and held in custody overnight, allegedly for owning or consuming alcohol and thus breaking the terms of his sentence. Rudd’s out on bail as of Monday, and will enter a plea in court on 3 August. He picked up the original sentence after pleading guilty to threatening to kill a former employee, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine.

Noel Gallagher stated the obvious about working with his brother

Gallagher’s turn on BBC’s Desert Island Discs did more than remind everyone that Noel is almost 50. The former Oasis songwriter and High Flying Birds frontman said that being in a band with Liam was his achilles heel, because “you know how to push each other’s buttons”. To be fair, I think we all understood that their relationship was tumultuous, but it’s always a treat to hear it directly from Noel now and again.

MTV announced this year’s Video Music Award nominees …

It’s almost that time of year again, when the US pop industry wheels out memories of Miley Cyrus quasi-twerking – oh, I mean, when MTV celebrates the cultural importance of the music video. That’s right: we’re almost in VMA season. Cyrus is set to host this year’s ceremony, and Taylor Swift led the list of nominees on Tuesday with nine award nods. That all sounds fine. Hardly surprising, but fine.

… Nicki Minaj tweeted her disappointment …

Minaj, nominated in three categories, felt Anaconda had been overlooked in the video-of-the-year category. She used the nominee news as a springboard to share her view that black women are not being adequately rewarded for their contributions to pop culture. Over a series of tweets, she implied that were she a “different ‘kind’ of artist”, her provocative video may have pulled in more nominations. Lest we forget, Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball, also provocative, and watched by millions on YouTube, won video of the year last year.

… and then Taylor Swift made it all about her

As can so often be the case when someone tries to get serious on Twitter, Minaj’s point about authorship and recognition was soon sidetracked. In this case, by Taylor Swift. The pop star replied to one of Minaj’s tweets, about nominated videos celebrating slim women’s bodies, saying it was unlike Minaj to “pit women against each other”. The Guardian has already published two articles on the problematic elements of Swift’s response, so we won’t get into it again.

Whichever side you’re on (if you even care at all, by this point), it was an interesting example of how intersectional feminism, pop music and, somehow, the VMAs can all collide in an intellectually complicated mess. At the end of it all, Swift apologised.

I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I'm sorry, Nicki. @NICKIMINAJ

— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 23, 2015

Mod-affiliated shirt brand Ben Sherman was sold. Again

Ben Sherman is synonymous with mods, skinheads and those guys who made patterned short-sleeved shirts a thing again, post-Oasis – and it’s now been snapped up by a private equity firm. The brand was first sold by its founder in the 70s, so it will be interesting to see whether this acquisition will lead to a resurgence. Perhaps the new owners can peg it to a new sub-genre – PC music? The next reincarnation of witch house? – and watch its popularity surge again.

Bruce Springsteen played a surprise gig in New Jersey

The Boss gave gig-goers in his home state an unexpected treat last weekend. He rocked up during Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers’ set, blessing the gig attendees with a rare performance and generally reminding everyone else why he’s one of Jersey’s best-loved exports. As far as stage invasions go, I trust this is one that people were happy to witness.

Some fan-shot footage from Bruce Springsteen’s surprise gig on 18 July 2015

Eminem uses a wider lyrical vocabulary than Bob Dylan

According to an analysis of song lyrics by the 93 biggest-selling musicians, four rappers use more extensive vocabularies than Dylan. Eminem, Jay Z, Tupac and Kanye West each used more than 5,000 words in up to 100 of their lengthiest tracks, while Dylan used 4,883. Predictably, some Guardian commenters defended Dylan with quality-over-quantity arguments. It seems that some readers will forever insist that rap is anti-intellectual and misogynistic, no matter what the evidence says.

Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks

It’s oddly comforting to know that there were still people willing to say no to Jackson’s ill-conceived ideas at the height of his fame. George Lucas managed to squirm out of casting Jacko as the fairly universally despised Jar Jar Binks, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Actor and filmmaker Ahmed Best said he landed the CGI part that Jackson had originally wanted to play, in Thriller-style prosthetics, in a recent Vice interview. A close shave for us all.


Tshepo Mokoena

The GuardianTramp

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