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With Katy Perry and Led Zeppelins recent judgments reversing previous rulings, musicians dont know which way to tread

Have you written a song? A song so memorable that everyone who hears it starts humming it? A song so good it feels as though it has been around forever and you simply plucked it from the ether? Then a word of advice: get an expert to listen to it. Because somewhere, someone is going to be sure your song was copied from theirs.

An old music industry adage holds that where theres a hit, theres a writ. It was true in 1963, when the Beach Boys released Surfin USA, and Chuck Berry duly noted that the song was simply his own 1958 hit Sweet Little Sixteen with new lyrics (Berrys publisher, Arc Music, was granted the publishing rights, and from 1966 Berry was listed alongside Brian Wilson as a writer of the song). And its especially true now after several recent cases.

March alone saw two important judgments about music theft in appeals courts in California. First the ninth circuit court of appeals ruled that Led Zeppelins Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Then a federal court overturned last years jury verdict that Katy Perrys Dark Horse had stolen from the song Joyful Noise by the Christian rapper Flame.

Katy Perry performing Dark Horse in Los Angeles in 2014. A federal court in March overturned a 2019 verdict that the song had stolen from Flames Joyful Noise. Photograph: Youtube

Whats important, though, is not whether anyone was plagiarised, but whether a copyright was infringed. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are related but they are distinctly different, says Peter Oxendale, who has been a professional forensic musicologist someone who offers expert analysis of compositions for legal purposes for more than 40 years.

Copyright, for example, does not protect ideas but rather the fixed detailed expression of those ideas. Copyright infringement is a legal matter known as a tort, he says. Plagiarism, on the other hand, is an ethical matter and occurs when someone uses the ideas or works of someone else in their own work without giving the appropriate credit to the original source. The cases that come to court are not about plagiarism; theyre about infringement of copyright.

Members of Led Zeppelin pictured in 1970. A US appeals court has found the bands Stairway to Heaven did not crib from Taurus by Spirit. Photograph: AP

The Zeppelin and Perry cases have been hailed as important because they appear to offer songwriters the latitude they seemed to have been denied by a crucial earlier trial. In December 2018 the long-running and highly controversial case involving the song Blurred Lines came to a close, when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, two of the songs writers, were ordered to pay just short of $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye, for Blurred Lines similarity to Gayes 1977 song Got To Give It Up.

Blurred Lines certainly stirred up the music community, says Joe Bennett, a forensic musicologist based at Berklee College of Music, in Boston. The reason it had so many musicians concerned is that the two songs are demonstrably different in their melodies, lyrics, and underlying chords. It hasnt set a legal precedent exactly, because every plagiarism case is judged on its individual merits, and every comparison is different, but it certainly has shifted the culture among songwriters, and made many worried about unintentional similarity leading to unfair accusations of copyright infringement.

What the Blurred Lines case did was to allow something previously unheard of: the notion that the feel of a record could be copyrighted. Given that the musician who didnt want to replicate the feel of a beloved record, if not its chords and melody, has yet to be born, the verdict sent shudders through the industry.

Much of the feel of a song is created by instrumentation, production techniques and other elements that many people consider to not be part of the song itself, says Peter Mason, a music law expert at the solicitors Wiggin LLP. The difference is starkly demonstrated by comparing Blurred Lines to the Stairway to Heaven case, in which the jury was limited to considering only the notes of the composition, as registered at the US copyright office.

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams performing at Miami Beach, Florida, in 2013. A court in 2018 ordered them to pay $5m to the estate of Marvin Gaye. Photograph: Startraks/Rex

Taking away the similarities in sound, feel or playing style reduced the similarity between the compositions. Importantly, much of what remained was commonplace and therefore not protected by copyright.

Nevertheless, says Oxendale, We are aware of a number of well-known clients who have been told to never cite the source of their inspiration in public or in print. This, in my view, has resulted in the stifling of creativity to the extent that inspiration is now being confused with appropriation.

Conversely, we are also seeing a growing number of instructions from clients who wish to pursue claims for infringement of copyright based on the use of nothing more than similar musical or lyrical ideas. I believe the Blurred Lines verdict has had a significant impact on the music industry as a whole and this is reflected in the number of cases coming into our office.

For all the high-profile court cases, though, many music copyright infringement claims never see the light of day. One major star who must remain nameless employed a musicologist for the specific purpose of listening to new releases in order to note any resemblance to their own works. The writer of any offending song received a polite note expressing the desire to avoid any embarrassment, and suggesting the whole matter might be resolved by a payment, without the need to shame the writer by going public or forcing a change to the songwriting credits.

Since the Blurred Lines case, notes Mason, other songwriters have pre-empted litigation by adding writers who might conceivably have had a claim to writing credits famously, Mark Ronsons worldwide hit Uptown Funk ended up with 11 writers. The average number of writers on hit songs has increased dramatically over the last five years or so, Mason says, and part of this is due to composers agreeing to add the authors of past songs that are somewhat similar.

Why, though, do all the best-known copyright infringement cases come from the worlds of pop and rock? After all, one rarely hears of classical composers fighting it out in court, or jazz players arguing furiously about whether one has ripped off the others saxophone solo.

I think there are two reasons, Bennett says. First, popular song is a constrained art form, with a palette of statistically predictable phrase lengths, song forms, scale and chord choices, lyric tropes and song durations. These norms are largely defined by market forces, through massed listener preferences over time affecting the kind of creative decisions that songwriters are likely to make.

Beyonc presesnting the award for record of the year, Uptown Funk, to Mark Ronson during the 2016 Grammy music awards. To avoid litigation, the song was credited with 11 writers. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Its a type of cultural Darwinism, in a sense, but thats not to diminish the songwriters art writing a world-class hit is incredibly difficult, and needs everyone in the artists production team to excel.

Second, pop is where the money is. A plagiarism lawsuit is a financial matter party A is pursuing party B for compensation, so theres little point in going after someone whose work has not generated significant income.

You might think, of course, that musicians and songwriters are pinching from each other all the time weve all listened to songs and been reminded of something else. There are some artists, in fact, who seem to have made careers out of sounding like someone else: neither ELO nor Oasis would deny their respective debts to the Beatles.

Sometimes, though, musicians dont even realise they are borrowing. On a recent edition of the Reply All podcast, Princes longtime recording engineer Susan Rogers remembered him sitting at the piano and picking out a melody. He liked it, he noted. But had it already been written?

Subconscious recollection is called cyrptomnesia, and it has been responsible for some notable copyright infringements: in the 1976 case where George Harrison was sued for the similarity of My Sweet Lord to the Chiffons Hes So Fine, the judge described the similarity as an example of unconscious copying. Sam Smiths Stay With Me ended up getting Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne added to its writing credits, because of its similarity to their song Wont Back Down, and Petty observed, without rancour: All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by.

As Bennett puts it: Most melodic similarity is coincidental, and most accusations of melodic plagiarism are unfounded. In the rare cases when the similarity is so striking that it appears to be evidence of plagiarism, then yes its usually unintentional. Songwriters have almost zero incentive to copy melodies verbatim, and enormous economic disincentives to do so.

The miracle, perhaps, is not that there are so many accusations of musical copyright infringement, but so few. Consider that thereare just 12 semitones in an octave. Or think about how many songs that derive from the blues use the 1-4-5 chord progression (Twist and Shout; Blitzkrieg Bop; Louie Louie and Wild Thing and thousands more). What makes a song special is not its chords, or its top-line melody, or its lyrics, or its feel. It is how it combines all those elements.

Listeners dont hear songs as simple linear sequences of pitches they hear everything all at once, and its that combination of elements, in a recording or at a live show, that produces the powerful emotional response that we find so intoxicating, Joe Bennett says. If the cultural value of a song subsisted only in its melody, the world wouldnt need performers, lyricists, producers, or artists.

And, as everyone sitting in their living room gazing at the empty world outside knows, the word really does need all those people, for the sake of its sanity.

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Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, 89, was locked in legal battle over sale of Los Angeles site to pop star

An 89-year-old Catholic nun who has battled pop star Katy Perry for years over the sale of a Los Angeles convent has collapsed and died while attending court proceedings about the case, according to media reports and supporters.

Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, one of two ageing nuns who were fighting the sale of the eight-acre (three-hectare) convent, died on Friday in Los Angeles county court, Fox affiliate KTTV reported.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary property in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles that pop star Katy Perry is buying Photograph: Nick Ut/AP

Holzman had earlier told KTTV as she entered the courthouse with Sister Rita Callanan: To Katy Perry, please stop. Its not doing anyone any good except hurting a lot of people.

On Saturday a website set up to back the nuns legal battle carried a picture of Holzman with the caption Rest with the angels our most precious treasure.

A spokeswoman for Perry, one of the worlds top-selling pop stars, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Los Angeles county medical examiner and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles did not respond to queries about the cause of death.

At the center of the legal dispute is the property Holzman and other members of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had once lived in.

Holzman and Cullanan, among five nuns who had lived at the convent, had sought to sell the property for $15.5m to restaurateur Dana Hollister, who wanted to convert the property into a hotel.

The archdiocese sued to block the sale in 2015, arguing the nuns did not have authority to sell the property to Hollister.

A judge ruled in 2016 that the sale was invalid, paving the way for Perry to buy the site from the archdiocese.

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Also this week: Katy Perry gets deep, MIA spots something about Barack Obamas name and Sia forgets to write lyrics for once

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If you believe Taylor Swift is a satanist, Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer and Hillary Clinton died in September, this was your year

If 2016 was the year facts didnt matter, when Oxford Dictionaries declared we went post-truth, it makes sense that conspiracy theories flourished. These are some of the most outlandish (and, we feel fairly confident in saying, all untrue).

The Earth is flat

B.o.B (@bobatl)

The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this

January 25, 2016

You might think that this one was put pretty conclusively to bed around 330BC, but it persists into 2016, championed by the radio-friendly rapper B.o.B.

The Atlanta musician resurrected the argument that the Earth may, in fact, be flat with a storm of tweets in January that seemed to lean heavily on the fact the horizon appears straight in photos (where is the curve? please explain this).

Neil deGrasse Tysons public putdown prompted B.o.B. to release a diss track, which was not very good, but did show how far the bar has fallen when it comes to prompting diss tracks these days.

That was about the last time anyone spoke of B.o.B. in 2016.

Taylor Swift is a satanist

Taylor Swifts similarity to the daughter of Anton Lavey, the founder of the Church of Satan, delighted social media this year, coinciding as it did with the pop stars downfall.

MAX IM A KOOPA (@meakoopa)

Taylor Swift is probably NOT the secret scion of America’s foremost Satanist family but like how can we be sure

January 5, 2016

Katy Perry is JonBent Ramsey

This theory dates back to 2014 but resurfaced this year alongside a CBS documentary about the girls murder.

In a video posted to YouTube, a truther refers persistently to the Katy Perry character (You can see that thats just an older JonBent Ramsey, right? You can see that) and puts forward the physical similarity between the two sets of parents as evidence (same people).

He then laboriously and not entirely successfully, on a technical level morphs Perrys face with Ramseys.

Embed endorsement.

Never mind that Perry, born in 1984, would have been 12 when Ramsey died aged six in 1996. Other YouTubers taking up the theory have pointed out that, in photos, their eyebrows look similar.

Perry has done nothing to address the rumours but did go paddle boarding with her new boyfriend, Orlando Bloom.

Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer

Griffin (@NotGriffinNope)

Wake up America #ZodiacTed

February 2, 2016

The traction this got evokes a simpler time in the 2016 US election campaign.

Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn)

Remember when we would say Ted Cruz was the Zodiac killer and laugh and laugh? Remember laughing?

November 6, 2016

The theory meme, joke, whatever that the aspiring Republican presidential candidate was, in fact, the unknown killer operating in northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s was inescapable on social media earlier this year, and eventually made its way into the real world.

Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson)


October 9, 2016

In February a poll of 1,012 registered voters found 38% of Florida voters thought it was possible Cruz was the Zodiac killer. From the press release:

10% say he for sure is, and another 28% say that they are just not sure. Cruz is exonerated from being a toddler serial killer by 62% of the Sunshine State populace.

Jim Young (@jimography)

@pattymo @tedcruz This is pretty damning

January 16, 2016

But not all of the evidence adds up, BuzzFeed noted astutely: Cruz was born in Canada in 1970. The earliest confirmed victims of the Zodiac killer were murdered in 1968.

Kylie Jenner is secretly fronting a pop band

The singer of the US pop trio Terror Jr is known only by the alias Lisa Terror, and hides her face behind her hair in promotional images. The only account the band follows on Twitter is that of Kylie Jenner: the teenage socialite/makeup mogul, a Kardashian by any other name.

Terror Jr (@terrorjrmusic)

So close

September 8, 2016

In March, Jenner featured a song by Terror Jr in a promotional video for her lip glosses; that same day, Terror Jr launched its social media presences. (As far as conspiracy theories go, this one is admittedly low stakes.)

Jenner has denied being Lisa Terror on Snapchat, but then came the smoking gun: a Twitter user apparently found her listed as a performer on the track 3 Strikes by a music licensing organisation.

The entry has since been amended, and when Teen Vogue put the theory to the band, it replied only with its trademark grape emoji. But lets be honest, its not like a Kardashian to shy from the spotlight.

Terror Jr (@terrorjrmusic)

u kno wat it iz

October 24, 2016

Fidel Castro is Justin Trudeaus dad

Josh Centers (@jcenters)

Forget pizzaghazi, the best conspiracy theory going is that Justin Trudeau is Fidel Castro’s biological son.

December 9, 2016

This theory emerged on Reddit after the Canadian prime minister raised eyebrows with his obituary for the remarkable leader on Twitter.

User George_Rockwell said Trudeaus parents had visited Cuba on several occasions, pointing to a photograph of Margaret Trudeau happily allowing the tyrant to hold her four-month-old baby as evidence. (The baby was, in fact, Justins late brother Michel. Details, details.)

Dionysos (@arlaqin)

HOW DID I NOT KNOW OF THIS EARLIER. This is my fav conspiracy theory atm, justin trudeau is fidel castro’s son.
Face swap:

December 8, 2016

The Redditer also remarked on the similar appearance between the Canadian prime minister and the now-deceased Cuban leader, with a photograph morphing their two faces presented as DAMNING EVIDENCE.

Trudeau subsequently defended his initial remarks on the passing of a former head of state but did not say whether or not he was his father.

Hillary Clinton is dead and was replaced by a surrogate

The theory that Hillary Clinton had died was the logical extension of rumours of her ill health, and beloved by her detractors during the US election campaign.

YouTube user Confederate Marshell presented 100% PROOF that Clinton had been dead since at least 11 September this year and replaced by CGI and multiple body doubles.

Again, the Guardian does not endorse the views expressed in this video.

Hillary Clinton is running a child abuse ring from a pizza restaurant

You might want to be sitting down for this one: the Democratic presidential candidate and her campaign chief John Podesta are running a child sex ring from the backroom of the Comet Ping Pong restaurant in Washington.

A dinner party or a possibly satanic ritual, depending on who you believe thrown by the performance artist Marina Abramovi and a napkin with a pizza-related map on it are also involved.

Homeboy Chris (@TheHomeboyChris)

@johnpodesta this Russia conspiracy ain’t gonna get you out of explaining your “map that seems pizza related” on a handkerchief. #PizzaGate

December 12, 2016

Given that the fact the restaurant has the same initials as child pornography is put forward as evidence by believers, the truly shocking detail of this completely baseless conspiracy theory is that even one person believed it.

Yet in early December, a 28-year-old man was driven to self-investigate the reports, wielding an assault rifle at a employee and firing it inside the restaurant. After his arrest Edgar Welch said he wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way. I regret how I handled the situation, he added.

That outlandish allegations posted to the online message board 4Chan and Reddits The Donald thread for Trump supporters could translate into real-world aggression exacerbated anxiety over the impact of fake news.

DJ Pop A Titty Out (@PizzaPartyBen)

The medias reaction to #PizzaGate made me believe it 10x more

December 8, 2016

Certainly theres no subject its more vital that you self-investigate only on trusted news networks. Google Pizzagate and youll find websites such as Truthlibrary.Info that promise all the facts in one spot with the user-friendly advice: WARNING: Turn away now if you do not want to be incredibly disturbed. This is real. Pay attention to pizza and cheese references throughout, as these are highly likely to be code. (No, Im not linking to it.)

If you feel strong enough to venture further down this rabbit hole, the Reply All podcasts summary is excellent.

RAMZPAUL (@ramzpaul)

The same people that call #PizzaGate fake news sure seem to push the #RussianHackers conspiracy. The former actually has more evidence.

December 10, 2016

Climate change is a hoax engineered by China, or maybe the UN

The president-elect of the US seems to subscribe to this one.

In 2012 Donald Trump tweeted that global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

November 6, 2012

He later said this was a joke. If so, China didnt seem to think it very funny.

In Australia Senator Malcolm Roberts has suggested that climate change is in fact the work of the United Nations and called for an Aus-exit.

Donald Trump is a Democratic party plant

This one, at least, we can safely disprove.

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Singer earned $170m in the last year according to Forbes, more than twice as much as Adele, while 2015s highest earner Katy Perry drops down to fifth place

Taylor Swift has topped Forbes magazines list of the highest-earning female solo artists in music, with more than twice the income of the second-placed artist, Adele. The US business magazine estimated Swift earned $170m (137m) between 1 June 2015 and 1 June 2016, compared to Adeles $80.5m.

Forbes notes that most of Swifts earnings came from her 1989 world tour, which sold more than $250m worth of tickets, while Adele is unusual in that the bulk of her revenue came from album sales. Adeles most recent album, 25 which was released in November 2015 became the fastest selling album of all time in the UK, selling 800,307 copies in its first week. In the US, it became the first album to sell more than 3m copies in a week, with 3.38m sales within seven days of release, and was the best selling album of 2015.

While Beyonc seems low on the list, in fifth place, with $54m, she is likely to be higher next year, when sales from her Formation world tour are taken into account.

Touring is the biggest generator of income for artists these days, and its noticeable that last years highest earner, Katy Perry, has slipped to sixth place. In 2015, her Prismatic world tour sent her to the top by generating $135m. This year, without that cash machine, she earned $41m.

The bottom four of the top 10, however, did not have to crisscross the world to make money. Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Shania Twain and Celine Dion all took on lucrative residencies in Las Vegas, where casino owners shell out huge sums for marquee acts to draw in gamblers.

Forbes said the figures were calculated using information from Pollstar, which tracks tour revenues, Nielsen, which measures music sales, Recording Industry Association of America, as well as interviews with those involved in the inner workings of business.

The full top 10:

1. Taylor Swift $170m
2. Adele $80.5m
3. Madonna $76.5m
4. Rihanna $75m
5. Beyonc $54m
6. Katy Perry $41m
7. Jennifer Lopez $39.5m
8. Britney Spears $30.5m
9. Shania Twain $27.5m
10. Celine Dion $27m

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A flurry of concerts, headlined by Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z and others, will take place before election day

As the presidential election approaches and worries linger over whether millennial voters will turn out in key swing states, the Clinton campaign has turned to the unifying force of celebrity. A flurry of get out the vote concerts, headlined by Katy Perry, Jennifer Lopez, the National and others, will take place between Saturday and 8 November.

On Saturday, the same day early voting begins in Florida, Lopez will appear with Hillary Clinton in Miami. But the biggest act will hold court in one of the most crucial swing states on 4 November. Four days before the final vote, Jay Z will host a concert in Cleveland, Ohio.

According to the Clinton campaign, he will do so to encourage unity and urge Ohioans to support Clinton by voting early or on election day.

For a campaign that has faced headwinds in its efforts to motivate young voters and African American voters and which according to a Real Clear Politics poll average trails Donald Trump by 1.1% in Ohio the Jay Z concert will present a key opportunity.

According to campaign sources, the concert will feature multiple special guests, with Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, a Clinton endorser, a possible addition to the program.

Jay Zs concert will be the penultimate event in a series under the title Love Trumps Hate, following Lopez in Miami and the National in Cincinnati on 2 November. On 5 November, Perry, a longtime and vocal supporter, will perform in Philadelphia.

This is not the first time the Clinton campaign has recruited entertainment industry powerhouses. At the conclusion of the Democratic national convention in July, Lady Gaga and Lenny Kravitz performed for Democratic delegates in a thank-you concert held in Camden, New Jersey.

In August, Clinton appeared with Cher in Provincetown, Massachusetts, at a private fundraiser in the gay vacation destination. That appearance was marred slightly when Cher compared Trump to Adolf Hitler in front of a semi-drunk audience.

But, by and large, celebrities have put their wattage to good use. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake and Scarlett Johansson are just a few of the stars who want to help get Clinton elected, whether through Instagram posts of ballots or earnest advertisements extolling the virtues of voting.

The concert program draws a sharp contrast to those celebrities who have made appearances on behalf of Trump.

Although the businessman vowed before the Republican convention to host a winners circle of movie stars and sports heroes, and has enjoyed support from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the candidates celebrity surrogates have largely been tarnished glitterati.

Among them have been former underwear model Antonio Sabto and Natalie Gulbis, who is currently the 597th-best female golfer in the world.

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The singer is not the first powerful woman to use nudity to raise awareness. But note that men simply dont feel they have to behave this way

The singer Katy Perry, a Hillary Clinton supporter, has produced a Voting naked video, urging people to vote in the US election. Madonna responded with her own Voting naked photo on Instagram, showing her bare shoulders, also urging people to back Clinton, saying that women need to support each other. Women Run The World now they have to get out and start supporting one another. No more misogynist feminists! No more misogony [sic]. Get out and vote, wrote Madonna, with good intentions, albeit bad spelling.

The image was later deleted, along with the one where Madonna had photoshopped Clinton between her legs. (Stay classy, Ms Ciccone!) Both singers efforts did the job by causing a media flurry. Were their actions successful in a deeper feminist way? In my view, quite the opposite.

Its obvious what they were trying to do; in fact, Perry says that her whole aim was to be click-bait. In fairness, Perrys video is ditsy-humorous rather than sexualised. Her breasts and genitals are blanked out with dark, modesty-style strips; her hair is styled as a rats nest with lollipops sticking out of it. While it was still up, Madonnas image merely gave the impression of nudity.

Theyre not the first to use nudity to raise awareness. (Famously, there was the Peta campaign Id rather go naked than wear fur, featuring various supermodels, one of whom, Naomi Campbell, went on to rather let the side down, by, you guessed it, wearing fur.) Moreover, they were doing it for a good cause, not out of a sense of the now-routine monetised, sexualised exhibitionism. (I dont know about you lot, but, as a heterosexual woman, Im officially bored with Kim Kardashians constant updates on the state of her tits and arse.) Compared with that, its pretty cool that Madonna supported Perry supporting Clinton.

However, theres something worrying, something distinctly non-feminist about these naked voting efforts. In that, with the semi-exception of the actor Mark Ruffalo, a fellow Clinton supporter (whod previously jokingly promised to go naked in his next film), there were no prominent males opting for the nudity-equals-attention option.

There were no equivalent men running around butt-naked with modesty strips and lollipops stuck in their hair or provocatively leaning their bare shoulders into the camera lens. So why did these incredibly famous, successful women do it?

To an extent, wheres the harm? This is an era where revenge porn verges on an epidemic and there have been wretched attempts to shame celebrities with their own stolen explicit images. Its arguable that by exploiting their own nudity, Madonna and Perry are subverting the global sexualisation of women.

The logic here is that theres a constant scrabble to look at famous women naked, to reduce them and all other women to body parts. Well, these famous women can play this game on their own terms and youll listen to their message too.

At which point, the argument frays and disintegrates. If a woman feels that the only way she can command attention is by taking her clothes off, then her message is a scream lost in ahurricane.

However good the cause, it doesnt make up for the core rationale that the quickest, easiest way for a woman to get attention is to disrobe. Men simply dont feel that they have to behave this way they think the quickest, easiest way to get attention is to open their mouths.

The fact that both these successful women performed their well-intentioned ethical striptease on behalf of a female candidate just makes it seem even more skewed and desperate.

If, among other things, Clinton is fighting for respect for women beyond their worth (or lack of it) as sexual/post-sexual objects, then Id wager that the very last thing she needs is for even her supporters to peddle sex.

Foxhunting? Call the dogs off for good

Members of the Holderness Hunt in East Yorkshire, as a new poll found that any attempts to repeal the Hunting Act would be deeply unpopular among the majority of the British public. Photograph: John Giles/PA

When are people who oppose the foxhunting ban going to accept theyre beaten? An Ipsos Mori poll says that any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act would be deeply unpopular with 84% of the British public. The poll was commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports, which could hardly claim no bias, but the findings are clear enough. There was also huge opposition to hare coursing (91%) and deer hunting (88%).

So by a huge majority, the British public would prefer that the hunting ban stay in place. Whod have thought it? Well, actually, most people would. Common sense dictates that the only people who oppose the hunting ban are the relatively small number who hunt. Normal people are unlikely to say: Well, I dont hunt myself, but I still feel very strongly that they should repeal the law banning the practice of live animals being chased and ripped to pieces by hounds, pursued by horse riders in fancy dress costume.

However much the pro-hunt lobby tries to frame this as an issue of personal freedom, most people are quite rightly repulsed by the idea of animals being made to suffer and die for what iseffectively just a niche sporting pursuit. In 2016, the vermin control argument is also becoming silly. There are quite a few urban foxes these days. Should we start insisting that competitive cyclists chase them around the streets, followed by packs of braying hounds? Perhaps skateboarders could join in?

Polls such as this make a mockery of environment secretary Andrea Leadsom saying that she intends to take a fresh look at the foxhunting ban. Heres your fresh look, Ms Leadsom 84% against, and not likely to go down much in the near future.

Sooty and Soo: greatest glove story ever told?

Matthew Corbett with Sooty, Sweep and Soo. Photograph: FremantleMedia Ltd / Rex Feature

Readers of a delicate disposition, please look away now there is news of a Sooty-themed sex scandal. In the 1960s, there was a row when Sootys creator, the late Harry Corbett, suggested Sooty should have a girlfriend, Soo. Some people, including the shows producer and a BBC governor, were scandalised, saying it would introduce sex into a childrens programme. The issue generated so much controversy the director general, Hugh Carleton Greene, had to intervene.

All of which has been revealed by Corbetts son and Sooty-heir, Matthew, in the documentary, Sooty Ungloved, which just enjoyed its, ahem, world premiere in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, where the Corbett family lived for 35 years. Ive yet to see Sooty Ungloved, but Im imagining a Watergate-vibe, featuring Sweep interviewed with his face in semi-darkness.

In the end, the DG ruled Sooty could have Soo, but that the puppets must never touch (what sordid practices was Carleton Greene envisaging?). What a wonderful story, amusing, but also a bittersweet comment on the lost innocence of a nation. A lost opportunity, too; given the chance, Sooty and Soo could have achieved great things, enlivening school sex-education classes.

Comments will be opened later today

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Britneys new tune, plus Katy Perrys Olympic anthem, confirm that the days of frantic BPM are truly over and a more mellow tempo is taking over the charts

The last time Britney Spears aimed for the pop zeitgeist on 2015s ill-advised Iggy Azalea collaboration Pretty Girls (essentially a poor mans Fancy), the results were so heavy-handed she inadvertently derailed Azaleas career. The songs lack of success resulted in the pair exchanging barely repressed digs at each other, with Azalea now languishing in pop purgatory, aka the judging panel on The X Factor Australia. So its with slight caution that we approach Make Me, the lead single from Spears as-yet-unannounced ninth album, just released. Once again it takes aim at a current pop zeitgeist that of the mood-drenched, slowed down sex jam but this time walks away a clear victor.

There was a time not so long ago when pop stars were contractually obliged to release lead singles that ramped up the BPM, smacking the listener about the ears with tales of head-spinning nights out in various clubs or simply singing about being indestructible over something David Guetta or Calvin Harris found lurking at the back of their laptops. Pop music seemed to only know one tempo and that was PANIC! Thankfully for everyones nerves it feels like those days are over, with Make Me riding the crest of a very patient and mood-laden wave.

In the last 12 months, Selena Gomez whose previous discography saw its fair share of bass drops has slowed things down with the tactile Good For You (a US top five hit, and the lead single from her album, Revival). Recovering EDM addict Rihanna followed Work with the mid-paced Needed Me (a current US top 10 hit) and Ariana Grande launched her recent album with the sensual, resting heart rate BPM of Dangerous Woman (yep, you guessed it, another US top 10 hit). Also out now is Katy Perrys Rise, a spacious, atmospheric mood piece (with an admittedly huge chorus) that categorically avoids creating anything you could ever hope to dance to.

Not bangers, but not ballads either, these mid-paced songs have also dominated US radio, highlighting in America at least a trend towards something at least approaching subtle. Make Me is by far the slowest and most restrained Britney lead single her last one, the frantic Work Bitch, brought together the talents of house overlord Sebastian Ingrosso and subtlety-free zone, Make Mes brilliance is a slow caress to the face rather than a sweaty slap. Even EDMs golden child, aka Taylor Swift collaborator Calvin Harris, seems to be calming things down a bit. His two most recent productions This Is What You Came For (featuring Rihanna) and John Newmans Ol both resist the urge to bludgeon the listener into submission one heavily sign-posted drop at a time, favouring something more slow-burn instead.

Obviously no ones suggesting this is the death of the banger. Or that pop stars are forever going to favour sensual moodiness over a quick aural fumble, but its interesting to see the tempo shift steadily bubble up to pops top tier. Make Me, however, does come with a superfluous guest rap, this time for cut-rate Drake, G-Eazy, proving that actually some things in pop never change.

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