Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What the pop papers say: Cold extras

Just flopped onto the doormat is this week's NME, with Noel Gallagher staring out of the cover. It looks like the same Noel Gallagher picture that always appears on the cover of the NME these days; indeed, it might appear on the cover of the paper every week.

As you try to avert your eyes - out of embarrassment and kindness rather than disgust, a strapline catches the attention:

REM Split: The original indie icons remembered
Original indie icons? Weren't they on IRS, and a major act, from the get-go? Surely they were college rock anyway?

It's surprising that the NME, which seldom misses a chance to run a Vox-style retriospective issue these days, chooses to stick REM on a strip on the top rather than making them the focus of the issue. Obviously, someone thinks that Noel Gallagher sells copies - although the frequency of Oasis covers and dwindling newsagent sales would contradict that - but a proper farewell to REM might have been a sign of some sort of coherent thought shaping the title. Instead, it's more congealing Noel, pushing a solo career that nobody really has any interest in.

Here's Noel talking about the video for the single:
[Russell Brand] is in it now...
Of course he bloody is.
... as some sort of crazed... well, you'll see it.
I wouldn't count on that.
He wears a top hat. It's fucking ridiculous.
A top hat, you say? A top hat? Why, the very idea of a long-haired comedian doing a cameo, in a pop video, wearing a top hat, is a hill-airy-oz idea. I can't imagine why nobody has done it before.
Noel tries to avoid giving an opinion on the "state of rock and roll" because "I'm 45 next year", which is amusing, given this is a cover story for the house journal of alt-rock. He does end up giving one, though. Of course he does:
There's bands that are good, make good records, but you see them on the telly at Glastonbury, and they're just not interested in having it
"Being interested in having it" being the key criteria in judging a band, rather than, you know, making good records. Who cares if the album is brilliant if the band don't punch each other on stage, eh?

Remember back in the early days of magazines arriving on the internet, Time Warner tried a crappy paywall idea where they printed a code in the print title which they hoped people would type in to a browser? Astonishingly, NME have revived the idea with something they're calling NME Extra.

Each edition has raffle-ticket style number printed on the front page - the one I got was 277205, if you're interested - which you input at nme.com/extra to get "special" content only available to people who have bought the magazine. Or copied a number off a front page in WH Smiths. Most of the stuff appears to be old articles from NME, which you would have thought should have been on the website anyway.

Still, there is some good stuff in the magazine. Most notably, Laura Snapes attempting to triangulate Marina Diamandis - she doesn't quite manage to, but that in itself is telling. You could buy the magazine to read it, or wait five years, and see if there's a magic code to type in so you can have a look online.