Planet Sound is a Teletext music page on ITV and Channel 4 in the UK. It is broadcast on analogue Teletext from page 340, and on digital Teletext from page 820. Since May 24, 2007, Planet Sound is also available to read online via the Teletext website. The pages are all simultaneously updated daily at 10pm.
Planet Sound (named after the Pixies song Planet of Sound) began in 1997, when its chief writer was Stephen Eastwood. An early champion of Belle & Sebastian, Eastwood had an album named after him by The Cuban Boys, who had a novelty hit with Cognoscenti Vs Intelligentsia, aka The Hamster Dance, during Christmas 1999.
Other past writers for Planet Sound include Jacqui Swift, now a music writer for The Sun's Friday entertainment supplement Something For The Weekend; Alistair Clay (who is also singer with an unsigned band and Andy Panos.
Its chief writer since January 2001 has been John Earls.
The most regular freelancers are Ian Gittins, who also writes about music for The Guardian; Colin Irwin, the former Planet Sound editor and folk music expert who is regularly a judge on the Mercury Music Prize; Ric Rawlins, who is also Reviews Editor of online music magazine Artrocker; Kat Lister, a freelancer for NME; Innes Weir, who also contributes to music magazine M8, and Natalie Shaw, a freelancer for Gigwise, Clash and Notion.
Planet Sound also helped to discover the band Hope of the States (now split up), via its weekly demo page. Others to receive favourable demo reviews include Maxïmo Park, Nine Black Alps, Kubichek!, Luxembourg, Komakino, Shady Bard, Calvin Harris, The Twilight Sad, The Strange Death of Liberal England, The Coolabahs and The Others.
Other acts that have been promoted at the earliest stage of their careers include Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight, Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Editors, Snow Patrol, Klaxons, Kasabian, HARD-Fi, Elbow, The Magic Numbers, The Feeling, Scissor Sisters, The Killers, Guillemots, iLiKETRAiNS, The Maccabees, The Twang, Jamie T, Liam Frost, Amy Winehouse, Dizzee Rascal, Little Man Tate, The Courteeners, Patrick Watson and The Metros.
Planet Sound rates albums, singles, demos and live performances out of 10. Usually this can be explained as such:
Live acts have rarely received 10/10.
The first 10/10 rating was awarded for a Hope of the States gig at Camden Verge in 2003. Other gigs to receive 10/10 since are:
The Polyphonic Spree can claim the greatest credit - 24/10 - referring to the number of people in the band for a gig at London's church venue Union Chapel in 2002.
The lowest ever mark for a gig was awarded to London-based indie band Rocket for their gig at Hoxton Bar & Grill in 2006, who not only received 0/10, but were specifically identified as the worst live band Planet Sound had ever seen.
----Champs of The Week----
This is a section that gives cheers to two people who did something of brilliance in the last week.
Winners of this accolade have included:
----Chumps of The Week----
Also run at the same time is Chumps of The Week which gives jeers to someone that has done something rubbish in the last week.
"Winners" of this accolade have included:
Both Champs And Chumps of The Week were discontinued in 2005, but returned on January 31, 2008. It was revived once during its hiatus, in June 2006.
In mid 2002, when Leeds-based band The Music were coming into the scene, a Voider wrote saying they were a Stone Roses karaoke band. The Music's singer Robert Harvey saw the letter, and wrote to Planet Sound. His letter was printed, with Robert offering the Voider free tickets to any of their gigs so he could say his views to the band's faces.
In March 2006 Paul Heaton of The Beautiful South wrote in to mention "Why do bands go on about Myspace, when they can promote themselves here for free? Buy our Album!" The reply from the writing team said "Damn. We forgot to ask for a bribe."
In March 2007, Heaton was revealed on The Void to be have been the cause of Simply Red getting an 8/10 album review. Earls wrote an apparently sincere review of their album Stay but, after a letter asking him if he'd gone deaf, Earls replied he'd only written the review after losing a game of bowling to Heaton.
Other musicians to have written in include Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen and Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, who corrected one Voider's assertions that said band ran a Glasgow metal night purely as an exercise in irony. At the height of their fame, Travis singer Fran Healy told Planet Sound that his Aunt Babs read PS, leading her to write in regularly for several months.
On 19 August 2006, Simon Ratcliffe from Basement Jaxx wrote in to say hello to his grandad, who tells the band about any time they are mentioned on Teletext. The letter also mentions that if there was a Basement Jaxx Radio station, Simon's grandad would be the first to DJ, despite being 93.
In December 2007, Maximo Park singer Paul Smith wrote to praise the blues musician Jandek as part of a debate on "What is the world's heaviest music?", initially inspired by a Voider's letter about Sunn O))).
Since his return, Pinsent has regularly had letters screened, with Halliwell inevitably dominating his missives.
Some say Pinsent is actually Geri Halliwell herself, writing in under an alias to get her back in the public eye. This is without foundation - a letter by then-regular Voider Tony Satan in 2004 revealed that Pinsent was a former bodybuilding champion from his native Pinner, Middx.
One reader parodied Pinsent under the anagram alias Pennie T Spert, which many readers assumed was a pseudonym of Pinsent.
Many of the people who write into The Void become regulars, such as Rebecca Nahid, Robbie Mavis Vornstar, Tony Satan, Tyler Durden, Mark de Sade, Big Fat Flying Bloke, DJ Rhimes, DJ Gordy, Fluffy the Evil One, Baby Firefly, Simon Ellis, Brian The New Rave Snail, Tracey Bousfield, Kirkland Ciccone, The Doc, Bradders and Matt Robgret.
Past winners of Album of the year:
Past winners of Single of the year:
On reviewing Viva la Vida by Coldplay, John Earls mentions how "Other than wanting to give a thick ear to whichever colleague gave Barenaked Ladies a near-perfect score, it's a list we'll defend to the hilt. Except X&Y by Coldplay - our version of those five-star reviews for Be Here Now. Apologies for getting over-excited about a 7/10 album, one the band too recognise had its faults." Although the Wikipedia article on the album, states Barenaked Ladies got a 9/10 mark, there is a possibility the album gained a mark of 8/10, and so has been removed from the list until a reliable source can be found. Coldplay's A Rush Of Blood To The Head and Muse's Absolution both only received 8/10 and have also been removed until a reliable source can prove otherwise. John Earls has also said at one point that the 5/10 given to Illinois by Sufjan Stevens when it was released was a mistake, and that he would now give the album 8/10.
Planet Sound's editors had said that no single or album would ever get a 10/10 rating. However, on the October 29 2007 Launchpad, new freelancer Kat Lister gave The Cinematic Orchestra's single To Build A Home a 10/10 review while John Earls was on holiday and at the time unaware of the error. This shouldn't be considered an official 10/10 mark. Incidentally, the song didn't even make the Top 50 Singles list of 2007.