The NME has been having, if not a golden age, at least a run of shiny chrome lately. Sure, you still get ones where it's Kasabian chuntering about football, but that's balanced by some lovely coverage of The Drums. There have been more nice things said about the Field Mice in the last month than ever there was when they were a going concern.
There was a weakness with The Drums edition, though: apparently concerned that simply interviewing a band might not be an idea, it came wrapped in a 'special issue' bit of blather about how America has lots of bands. Or it might have been 'Bands named after instruments' special. But it was themed.
The idea of a themed issue can work, but not if every bloody week there's a theme. And this week, we get a stinker of theme. It's another one of those pointless lists that have been bedeviling the NME for over a decade, but this week's sets the bar lower than ever before.
The 50 Most Fearless People In Music
By a lucky coincidence, the most fearless person in music turns out to be Kele Okereke, who is the big interview this week.
Most fearless people? Seriously? What does that mean? With Kele at the top, it turns out that the measure of lack of fear is 'making a dancey record after having made some guitary records'. If that's the true measure, then surely Bobby Gillespie would have to be braver than Kele for the sheer distance leaped by Primal Scream from I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have to Loaded?
The rest of the list clearly was come up with by throwing darts at a list of anyone who's ever made a record with more to it than The Archies. To adapt an old saw, NME use these lists as a drunk use lamposts - more for support than illumination.
Number 35, by the way, is The Population Of Greenland. So this is actually, the 56,377 Most Fearless People In Music. If everyone in Greenland counts as people in music.
Elsewhere this issue, this Shockwaves advert appears for what feels like the 600th week running:
Isn't that the sort of one-note 'use this product and women with big tits will be yours for the taking' clunker of an promo that more-or-less died of shame in the 1980s? I was surprised the NME ran it in the first place - hell, I was surprised any advertising agency would have come up with it in the first place - but can't believe it keeps going in, week after week.
Obviously, Shockwaves underwrites the NME awards so perhaps nobody wants to upset them, but really: this ad treats the female side of the NME readership with contempt and the male side with a different sort of contempt. It's ugly both creatively and socially. Is this how the paper sees the people it wants to buy it?