Friday, May 10, 2002

THREE WEEKS OF POP PAPERS IN ONE GO: What with weddings and stuff, there's been three nmes come and go, and no pop papers, so - again, mainly for completeness - here's a quick overview of what's been happening...

the first post-50th issue was a lot better than the one before, to be frank. They've put "New Musical Express" back on the masthead, and they had a band - Hundred Reasons - which was more exciting than many of the covers of late. Plus, a glossy book of photos from the nme when it was good. Excellent...

the next week, it was the Hives - ironically, this came the same time as the Guardian Review which reported a French music journalist as saying "The way it is seen in France, there are 52 NMEs a year, and so - 52 Best Bands Ever." He was wrong, of course - there are only 51 NMEs in a year. There was also something dangerously close to a think piece, which was nice to see, even though the thought it contained - Pink is the new Madonna - only really constituted half a thought. If Pink really is, as she claims, more akin to Maddy than Britney, what was the Christina Aguilera collaboration all about, then?...

The issue also saw the launch of a new side project, NME- Bring It On; free on a monthly basis and also given away in bars and clubs. It's A5, glossy, and a mix of listings and half-thought out articles, sponsored by a brewery. Not anything like The Fly at all, then, is it? It's unclear so far if this is an attempt to do to The Fly what The Fly did to various local listings magazines, or if its a long term attempt to establish a spin-off. Time will tell...

this week, six pages or so given over to Eminem's new album. Now, without disputing that Eminem can turn out a good tune on occasion, we're slightly bemused at how the nme has joyfully played cock-licker to the record label's attempts to hype the new release. There seems to be a swallow-whole aspect to the nme's treatment of the whole hoopla - while you'd hope that a bystander would at least raise the possibility that the careful control of prerelease editions might be due to worries that, maybe, it won't be that good, the nme appear to have accepted the security is because otherwise The Most Important Record In The World would be tainted by having been heard before it can be paid for...

this week's new statesman, funnily enough, has a bit about the fiftieth anniversary of the nme, written by a former nme hack who still has a Kings Reach way with fact-checking (or maybe when he described IPC as the title's "erstwhile publisher", he just didn't know what it meant. Of course, it was better in his day, and the all time Top 50 artists wasn't any good - he claims that "nobody listens to the Pixies nowadays" and then lambasts the chart for being "a list of nme-ish bands" - well, birthday-duh; in short, the piece is about as useful a guide to the nme as the stagger's pieces by bitter old David Cox are accurate on the subject of the BBC. However, Quite How Bad The NME Is Now *did* get well summed up elsewhere in the issue, when a surprising amount of space was given over to a review of Steve Strange's autobiography - a title which the nme couldn't find room for if it wanted to. In the nme overview, it's suggested that the likes of Q and broadsheet rockwriters made it tricky for the nme to compete. When the current affairs weeklies start to do a better job, you have to wonder if any amount of Me Too Regional listings will save it...


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