Sunday, February 26, 2012

The NME at 60

There's a nice piece in The Observer today looking at the sixty years history of the now-defunct NME through editor's favourite covers.

I say sixty years; there isn't anything from before 1979. And, somewhat oddly, there's no contribution from Conor McNicholas. They don't quite have the current editor, either:

As you can see, Krissi Muriso(n) has picked her Simon Cowell Christmas double from 2009 as her best front page.

It was certainly a provocative choice for an NME front, but to be honest, what else would she have gone with? The last couple of years of fronts of the NME have felt like a constant rotation of Noel Gallagher/long dead pop star/list issue/Liam Gallagher.

In fact, just how out of sorts the NME front page has become is shown by the choices of the other editors of what was 'of their time'. All the previous decade's choices have featured in the last quarter of the magazine as well.

So, Alan Lewis picks The Stone Roses cover from November 1989; They got two front pages in October 2011 (and, I suspect, will be on there again before the year is out.)

Steve Sutherland picks the Blur v Oasis battle, a clash that still rumbles on with Noel having last shown up on the front page last week and Blur, erm, this.

Neil Spencer has picked a punk cover; next week, unbelievably, the NME is putting the Sex Pistols on the cover. (Spencer's choice, incidentally, is the Slits nude-mud cover, which was genuinely challenging and part of a debate, rather than Lydon banging on like a pantomime dame again.)

Murison, whose editorship started well and has spiralled down noticeably over the last year or so, ending up with a Beatles front page at the turn of the year, attempts to sum up the current editorial stance of the paper but unfortunately ends up sounding like a letter to Smash Hits, circa 1986:
I started just as dubstep had gone from underground to overground and artists in whatever genre were generally being more experimental. People always say to me that such-and-such is an NME band but that doesn't mean much to me. There are two types of music, good and bad, and genre doesn't come into that.
Looking at the list of acts who have appeared on the front pages, or in the lists of best albums, that starts to ring a bit hollow. A magazine that genuinely believed that would be something to behold - jazz rubbing against interesting noise against folk.

But that's not what the NME is - in fact, what seems to be the definition of an NME band in 2012 is 'was it an NME band in the last century'?

1 comment:

Frankosonic said...

Crazy to think that in the 80’s the NME was so confident in itself that it could put Barry McGuigan on the front cover, leading with a story about a boxer and no one batted an eyelid! Imagine now if they put Derek Chisora on the front cover?

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