Friday, August 08, 2008

Ditto naked, Gallagher in bed: Best fronts ever?

The Periodical Publisher's Assocation has decided to celebrate the diversity of magazines - that's what they said - by organising a poll to find the nation's favourite all-time magazine cover.

They've drawn up a shortlist, which includes a Nova and an Oz cover; a Private Eye front page that seems to have been chosen more-or-at-less at random (although a random choice are removing the funny-but-controversial ones); two with Victoria Beckham on (a Heat and an OK) - because that shows the variety on the newstands, doesn't it.

The shortlist also includes a Radio Times - a Doctor Who cover, because all Radio Times front pages have to have Doctor Who on by law and two Vogues.

There are a couple of actually inventive covers - Empire's breathing Darth Vader and Take A Break's scratch-n-sniff bloke's armpit - and Loaded's scribbled on Keegan, which was quite a brave move at the time and exactly the sort of inspired wit which the magazine stopped doing after about issue three.

But what's this? Vanity Fair's "London Swings Again" shot of Gallagher in bed with Patsy Kensit. This has been chosen by Mother & Baby's Miranda Levy:

For me, it has to be Vanity Fair's 'London Swings Again' cover. It's March 1997, Tony Blair is two heartbeats away from Number 10, and here are Liam and Patsy, swathed in a Union Jack bedspread, giving us buckets of contempt and attitude. This was the age of Blur v Oasis, Geri in platform boots at the Brits, Damien Hurst's formaldehyde sheep. A cover that sums up an era.

March 1997 was nearly two years after Blur versus Oasis and Damien Hirst's Away From The Flock was from 1993. And while the original Time "Swinging City" piece was important, as it was praise from elsewhere, Vanity Fair UK's lumbering jump on the bandwagon looked more like an attempt by a few London party-goers to convince themselves they were at the centre of things, and misjudging quite badly.

Even more surprisingly, the awkward Beth Ditto nude cover has made the cut, with a nomination from Decanter magazine's Guy Woodward:
Attitude, impact, humour, relevance and courage. Demands attention, and shows brilliant powers of imagination and persuasion, along with the courage to go off-brand in terms of content while remaining absolutely on-brand in terms of message.

Putting a naked woman on the front of a magazine isn't really much of an act of imagination, and persuading Beth Ditto to remove her clothes doesn't take much persuading. Indeed, that this was a tired, over-sold retread of the PJ Harvey cover from years back (and the snarky Silverfish one that followed it) suggests that it wasn't that far off-brand.

And what was the message? That the only way a female singer could hope to get a cover of the NME is by getting her tits out? That - goodness - larger women can remove their clothes too? But if it was humorous, is the joke meant to be that it's a fat woman on the front of the magazine? If it was a statement, why was the picture airbrushed? We don't think the NME really knew what it was doing when it ran the cover; perhaps we should vote for it to win in a bid to finally find out?


3 comments:

Olive said...

along with the courage to go off-brand in terms of content

How exactly was it off-brand for the NME to feature the singer of an indie band on its front cover?

simon h b said...

It wasn't Noel, Ashcroft or Pete. That was quite a surprise.

Anonymous said...

And what was the message? That the only way a female singer could hope to get a cover of the NME is by getting her tits out? That - goodness - larger women can remove their clothes too? But if it was humorous, is the joke meant to be that it's a fat woman on the front of the magazine? If it was a statement, why was the picture airbrushed? We don't think the NME really knew what it was doing when it ran the cover; perhaps we should vote for it to win in a bid to finally find out?

In answer to your first question there, the message was, of course, that to the modern rather bourgeois NME she is "free-spirited", while the rest of us knew she is just a show-off who has little self-respect and is naive enough to be exploited by the magazine.

Yup. Pretty confident that whatever the hell they were trying to do with that cover is still lost on me. Still according to them I'm probably just jealous or boring or something like that.

Post a Comment

As a general rule, posts will only be deleted if they reek of spam.