This Just In… The Decline of NME deplored

Spot the difference…



When Ozymandias were a lad, back in the ’70s, he could take his pick of three “quality” music weeklies. New Musical Express, authoritative and sarcastic, was the market leader. Melody Maker, which it had supplanted in that role, stumbled along in its wake like an embarrassing uncle dancing drunkenly at the party, clumsily jumping on band wagons that were about to run out of steam. Sounds flung itself headlong into whatever fad was flavour of the month, revamping itself to look like a primitive fanzine (even though it was being published by United Newspapers) at the height of the p*nk craze. All of them punked out in their turn, pretending that the music industry’s latest profit maximisation wheeze was some kind of radical grass roots movement and playing along with the facile “Year Zero” narrative. Musical merit became less important than the ability to sport stupid haircuts and spout swear words on TV. And the new music got the new journalism it deserved. I stopped reading these comics when one of them (Sounds, I seem to remember) told me I was personally responsible for the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis (oh, just go and fuck yourself!) Predictably, Sounds and Melody Maker folded in their turn. I was recently reunited with NME, decades after having bought my last issue, by a guy handing out free copies in the street. It’s now a glossy, skimpy tip-sheet informing  trendy-bearded, skinny-jeaned hipsters from Spunkbridge Unversity exactly what they are expected to consume this week in the fields of fashion, movies, video games… oh and there’s even a bit of music, or what currently passes for it, too. You get unfunny cartoon strips, an unfunny column from “comedienne” Katherine Ryan, “features” such as the one in which random vegetables plucked from the streets reveal what they’re listening to on their i-Pods… and page after page of adverts. They’re charging too much for this thing by giving it away free! So far, so pitiful… but the bit that will really set Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and co spinning in their graves is their former mouthpiece’s recommendation that we all rush out and purchase the new Justin Bieber record on account of “his shift from bubble-gum teen-pop to ass-shaking EDM” (whatever that is) and insistence that we “need (said platter) in our life” because “we’re all Beliebers now.” Hand me the Boot Room bucket… I think I’m going to be sick!

This rant previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog.

Categories: Random Rantings | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “This Just In… The Decline of NME deplored

  1. Philip Broomhead

    I too remember purchasing and reading NME, Melody Maker and Sounds (on a regular basis), in the seventies. Although they weren’t the best of ‘rock’ journalism they at least had the occasional ‘interesting’ interview. Pity I got rid of them years ago – wished now that I had kept them!


  2. progcroc

    Regrets, regrets… the stuff you wish you’d kept hold of! Several address changes ago I had a Lamb Lies Down programme from one of Genesis’s three Liverpool shows on that tour. Where the hell is that now? But Phil, we’re always moaning about lack of space… consider, if you went through the expensive business of rebuying all those music papers on eBay, how much money and space you’d be sacrificing. Both of which would be better deployed on the 5.1 re-mixes and amazing box sets that are coming out on what seems like almost a monthly basis these days. Don’t forget also that a lot of vintage NME and Melody Maker reportage is currently being re-packaged and re-issued in glossy magazine format. The recent Pink Floyd special must have been right up your alley.


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