Arts and Entertainment Trailblazers: The Spice Girls in 1997

The Eurythmics star told the girls to 'ham up' their individual personalities

Pappy's / Idiots of Ants / The Penny Dreadfuls / The Real MacGuffins, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Sketchy collection fail to deliver a knockout

Album: Best Coast, Crazy for You (Wichita)

Any album which opens with a line as simple, and fundamental to what rock'n'roll is about, as "I wish he was my boyfriend" is on the right tracks, and Best Coast never falter thereafter.

Different For Girls by Louise Wener

Louise Wener, a Britpop sensation (with her band, Sleeper) turned novelist relates her first career, which lasted through the 1990s, to a "one night stand", albeit it, a great one.

Girls Aloud's Nadine to tackle fashion taboo

Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle said today she wanted to help "smash the taboo" that surrounded people who have to wear colostomy bags.

She & Him, Koko, London

Clap-happy Zooey's in a dream duo

Album: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way (Dap-Tone)

The best retro-soul band in the world gets back to top form with a sassy collection of 1960s-style songs. (Think Back to Black with added authenticity.)

Sex sells: The girl band that changed pop forever

Under-age, under-dressed, and over-the-top, The Runaways were the first girl rock group to make a global impact. Now their story is a movie. Chris Salewicz recalls his times with Joan Jett, Cherie Currie and their band

Album: 'Sugababes', Sweet 7 (Island)

Heidi, Amelle and Jade were recently asked whether, if you buy a broom then replace the head and the handle, it's still the same brush.

Album: Sugababes, Sweet 7 (Island)

With the departure last year of final founder member Keisha Buchanan, Sugababes finally slipped from being a band to a brand.

Nexus to deal with Nasa hackers

Nasa has turned to Nexus Management, a London-listed technology group, to defend its against internet attacks. The deal, which Nexus is expected to announce t as early as tomorrow, will see a subsidiary, Resilience Technology provide firewalls to the US space agency as it takes on hackers and computer viruses.

Album: Solex vs. Cristina Martinez & Jon Spencer, Amsterdam Showdown, King Street Throwdown! (Bronzerat)

What I particularly like about Amsterdam Showdown, King Street Throwdown! is the way it defies simple categorisation, shifting shape and direction with virtually every track, and constructing weird, contradictory combinations of sounds which balance, as the poet once said, like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine.

Album: Laura Nyro & Labelle, Gonna Take A Miracle (Rev-Ola)

Singer-songwriter Laura Nyro was renowned for blue-eyed soul standards such as "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Wedding Bell Blues" when, in 1971, she decamped to Philadelphia International studio to record this album of soul covers with the PI production team of Gamble & Huff, taking along her new friends Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash.

Album: Tori Amos, Midwinter Graces (Universal/Island)

For a festive album with a difference, it's time to vote Tori

Caught in the Net: The heart of darkness

There are plenty of people, myself included, who will argue (far too long into the night) that alt-country icon Will Oldham (left) was at his very best on the first album to utilise his Bonnie "Prince" Billy pseudonym; 1999's "I See a Darkness". A standout on the record was the blackly comic and brilliantly brooding "Death to Everyone". Now he has revisited the track in a live recording – reimagined as a rip-roaring bluegrass meets mariachi meets Hasidic jaunty work-out. Once again it is majestic. The track arrives as an exclusive out-take from his new live album, this time released under the name Bonnie Billy, alongside Kentucky bluegrass band the Picket Line. The track is a free download from dragcity.com. It precedes the LP 'Funtown Comedown', which features songs from Oldham's back catalogue (and monikers), as well as a few covers of some country music classics. The record is released on vinyl and digital download only on 15 December. As the final line "Death to Everyone" declares, "It makes living almost seem fun". Indeed.

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