Amanda Palmer vs the Sidebar of Shame (NSFW. You have been warned)

The musician is not a fan of the Daily Mail, it seems.

Amanda Palmer, the former lead singer of the Dresden Dolls whose crowdfunded album made kickstarter history, performed this delightful little number at the Roundhouse in Camden last night. It's called "Dear Daily Mail. Sincerely, Amanda Palmer", and is, er, very not-safe-for-work. You have been warned.

If you have neither the permissive environment nor audio equipment to listen to the video, the lyrics are below. The point isn't quite as forceful, but it still comes across clearly enough:

 

Dear Daily Mail,
It has come to my recent attention,
That my recent appearance at Glastonbury Festival's
Kindly received a mention,
I was doing a number of things on that stage
Up to and including singing songs - like you do!
But you chose to ignore that and instead you published
A feature review of my boob
 
Dear Daily Mail,
There's a thing called a search engine - use it
If you Googled my tits in advance you'd have found
That your photos are hardly exclusive,
In addition you state that my breast had escaped
From my bra like a thief on the run,
How do you know that it wasn't attempting
To just take in the rare British sun?
 
Dear Daily Mail,
It's so sad what you tabloids are doing,
Your focus on debasing womens' appearances
Devolves our species of humans,
But a rag is a rag, and far be it from me,
To go censoring anyone-- oh no,
It appears that my entire body is currently
Trying to escape this kimono!
 
Dear Daily Mail,
You misogynist pile of twats,
I'm tired of these baby bumps, vag flashes, muffintops,
Where are the news-worthy cocks?
When Iggy, or Jagger, or Bowie, go shirtless
The news barely causes a ripple,
Blah blah blah feminist, blah blah blah gender shit,
Blah blah blah OH MY GOD NIPPLE
 
Dear Daily Mail,
You will never write about this night,
I know that because I've addressed you directly
I've made myself no fun to fight,
But thanks to the internet people all over the world
Can enjoy this discourse,
And commune with a roomful of people in London
Who aren't drinking Kool-Aid like yours
 
And though there be millions of people who accept
The cultural bar where you have it at it,
There are plenty of others who are perfectly willing
To see breasts in their natural habitat
I keenly anticipate your highly literate
Coverage of upcoming tours
Dear Daily Mail,
Up Yours.
 

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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We knew we’d become proper pop stars when we got a car like George Michael’s

“That was George Michael!” we both shouted. “And he was driving the car we want!”

One of the clichés about celebrity life is that all celebrities know each other. Back in the Eighties, when we were moderately famous, Ben and I did often bump into other famous people, and because of mutual recognition, there was a sort of acquaintance, if not friendship.

There was a random element to it, as well. Some celebrities you might never catch a glimpse of, while others seemed to pop up with an unexpected regularity.

In 1987, the car we drove was a 1970s Austin Princess, all leather seats and walnut dashboard. In many ways, it symbolised what people thought of as the basic qualities of our band: unassuming, a little bit quirky, a little bit vintage. We’d had it for a year or so, but Ben was running out of patience. It had a habit of letting us down at inconvenient moments – for instance, at the top of the long, steep climbs that you encounter when driving through Italy, which we had just recklessly done for a holiday. The car was such a novelty out there that it attracted crowds whenever we parked. They would gather round, nodding appreciatively, stroking the bonnet and murmuring, “Bella macchina . . .”

Having recently banked a couple of royalty cheques, Ben was thinking of a complete change of style – a rock’n’roll, grand-gesture kind of car.

“I wanna get an old Mercedes 300 SL,” he said to me.

“What’s one of those?”

“I’ll let you know next time we pass one,” he said.

We were driving through London in the Princess, and as we swung round into Sloane Square, Ben called out, “There’s one, look, coming up on the inside now!” I looked round at this vision of gleaming steel and chrome, gliding along effortlessly beside us, and at the same moment the driver glanced over towards our funny little car. We made eye contact, then the Merc roared away. It was George Michael.

“That was George Michael!” we both shouted. “And he was driving the car we want!”

We’d always had a soft spot for George, even though we seemed to inhabit opposite ends of the pop spectrum. He’d once been on a TV review show and said nice things about our first album, and I knew he had liked my solo single “Plain Sailing”. We’d done a miners’ benefit gig where Wham! had appeared, slightly out of place in their vests, tans and blond bouffants. There had been a bit of sneering because they’d mimed. But I remember thinking, “Good on you for even being here.” Their presence showed that being politically active, or even just caring, wasn’t the sole preserve of righteous indie groups.

A couple of weeks later, we were driving along again in the Princess, when who should pull up beside us in traffic? George again. He wound down his window, and so did we. He was charming and called across to say that, yes, he had recognised us the other day in Sloane Square. He went on to complain that BBC Radio 1 wouldn’t play his new single “because it was too crude”. “What’s it called?” asked Ben. “ ‘I Want Your Sex’!” he shouted, and roared away again, leaving us laughing.

We’d made up our minds by now, and so we went down to the showroom, flashed the cash, bought the pop-star car and spent the next few weeks driving our parents up and down the motorway with the roof off. It was amazing: even I had to admit that it was a thrill to be speeding along in such a machine.

A little time passed. We were happy with our glamorous new purchase, when one day we were driving down the M1 and, yes, you’ve guessed it, in the rear-view mirror Ben saw the familiar shape coming up behind. “Bloody hell, it’s George Michael again. I think he must be stalking us.”

George pulled out into the lane alongside and slowed down as he drew level with us. We wound down the windows. He gave the car a long look, up and down, smiled that smile and said, “That’s a bit more like it.” Then he sped away from us for the last time.

Cheers, George. You were friendly, and generous, and kind, and you were good at being a pop star.

Tracey Thorn is a musician and writer, best known as one half of Everything but the Girl. She writes the fortnightly “Off the Record” column for the New Statesman. Her latest book is Naked at the Albert Hall.

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge