THE greatest band in the world today may be appearing to strike a blow for independence by releasing their long-awaited new album via their website and letting the fans decide how much they pay, but let s not get carried away here...

THE greatest band in the world today may be appearing to strike a blow for independence by releasing their long-awaited new album via their website and letting the fans decide how much they pay, but let's not get carried away here.

Several major record companies are understandably falling over themselves to sign up Radiohead, whose previous contract with EMI was fulfilled with the 2003 release of their previous album, Hail To The Thief.

Within possibly days they are likely to put pen to paper on a new deal which will probably make the multi-million pay-outs to secure REM or Robbie Williams look like a trip to the corner shop for a packet of Superkings.

A proper worldwide CD release of the new In Rainbows will follow in 2008.

So maybe it's not as "right-on" as one would think at first, but frankly, when it comes to Radiohead, I don't care.

Just point me in the right direction and I'll buy it.

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THE finalists have been chosen for this year's X-Factor live shows with the usual drama, sob stories and last-minute plot twists - all of it staged for full effect.

Betting has already stopped on what will be the Christmas number one - it's automatically assumed it will be whatever inane ballad is chosen for whoever will be this year's Steve Brookstein, Michelle McManus or HereSay.

Surely by now even the most educationally challenged Saturday night viewer can see through this facade.

X-Factor has very little to do with talent - it's all about the spectacle - and it's arguable that anyone buying into that circus deserves everything they get, whether it's ritual humiliation in front of millions or being the latest big thing for all of three weeks before finding themselves opening fetes and supermarkets.

Let's face it, we all have a laugh at the loonies who get paraded through during the auditions (some of them shouldn't be allowed out on their own and definitely can't be left near anything sharp), but the way decisions on people's futures are left hanging in the air for dramatic effect is cruel, even if we all know that act doesn't stand a snowflake in hell's chance.

Millions of us are still tuning in to this cynical tripe where the only real winners are Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh, who get to "handle" the winners and cherry-pick the best of the rest before dumping them back into obscurity months later.

For decades success in mainstream pop music has been dictated by others telling us what is good and that has never been more evident than in X-Factor.

Are we really expected to believe that this mixture of manufactured boy and girl bands, deluded menopausal housewives and northern club circuit fodder is deserving of a recording contract, nevermind the Christmas number one record.

Yet, whoever it is, with "guidance" from Cowell and co, you're still going to buy it, aren't you?


THE Tories have really thrown their toys out of the pram over Gordon Brown's decision not to call an autumn election.

But why? All this talk from opposition parties about the new Prime Minister not having the mandate to govern is rubbish.

What was the last election for? It was only two years ago, so he's perfectly entitled to stand firm until 2010 if he sees fit.

Did all the ballot papers have Tony Blair's name on them in 2005? No, they didn't.

And being called out with a "bring it on" speech from the boy David would be comical if it wasn't so pathetic.

There's enough wrong with this country that needs putting right without getting sidetracked by a pointless election.

Birmingham and my home town, Wolverhampton, have topped a poll as having Britain's kinkiest lovers.

At last a survey that makes sense.

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