Week three of the car-crash that is Free NME looking for an identity, and it manages to make last week's Robert Pattinson cover look like a wise choice. For staring out of the front page this time round, it's Chris Moyles.
Now, a Chris Moyles cover by itself doesn't have to be bad, if it was leading into a piece about Chris Moyles written out of curiosity. Instead, it just waves off four pages of fawning.
Moyles kicks off by announcing he's a feminist; he underpins this by listing the women he works with and muttering about tax on sanitary products. They ask about the whole "offering to fuck Charlotte Church now she's 16" thing - Moyles' defence is that he "said it once. I moved on." And how does NME counter this? Er, by just moving on to the next thing.
The next thing is his homophobia and racism. Unbelievably, Moyles uses the human shield defence - "one of my best friends is transgender".
Does the NME point out that this justification - don't judge me on what I do, judge me on who I know - is incredibly weak? No. Just write it down, type it up, print it out, move it on.
His continuing beef with Radio 1 is given paragraphs of space - which could have made for some interesting commentary; Moyles at Radio X suggests a man who's still obsessed with his Radio Ex, using the platform to try and convince Radio 1 that he's having a great time and he's really glad that they split up. Is there any attempt to quiz him on his obsession with Ben Cooper? Nope.
His tax arrangements? Mentioned just to allow Moyles to trot out a "I didn't break the law, and I paid it anyway" line before moving on. Yes, given the chance to ask him about his second hand car business, the NME blinks. Any opportunity to explore the question is gone.
Even on the reformatting of XFM as Radio X, which you think the NME would have once cared about, is treated in a way that will have Global Radio PR purring:
Don't expect to come to Moyles to find obscure new grime artists or cutting-edge psych-rock bands. Radio X has retained new-music champion John Kennedy's late-night X-Posure show for that. Moyles is here for the express purpose of entertaining people as they battle hangovers, get ready for another mind-numbing day in the office or peel out of bed before going to college.That radio station which was supposed to be the home of alternative music on British radio? Don't worry, they've kept a tiny rump of that late at night - presumably when the 'real' audience is out building up those hangovers for the morning.
Back when Radio One was shunting John Peel ever further into the night, NME called the BBC on the bullshit claim that you can support new music best by putting it where nobody is listening.
Why on earth would NME give such a free pass to the new Radio X?
Clearly, in part, because the idea of taking something that used to be a distinctive, alternative voice for new music and pissing it down to yet another chart-and-chat platform might resonate with NME. The token music piece this week is a very, very, very short feature on Wolf Alice. They're dubbed "the best new band in Britain". The NME first wrote about Wolf Alice three years ago. The proper NME did. If they're pretending that Wolf Alice are a discovery now, no wonder they'd think John Kennedy is more than enough of that cutting-edge stuff.
The more prosaic reason for the free passes handed to Moyles and Radio X is probably the two page advert that appears immediately before the interview.
One other sign that the NME has lost its mojo quite badly - the person who used to maintain Wikipedia's list of NME covers hasn't bothered to update the list with the new ones. You can see why.