Thursday, December 01, 2005


Curious goings-on over at Londonist, where a post yesterday claimed to have had sight of a list which suggested the NME Top 50 albums of the year had been manipulated for dark and not entirely clear purposes.

To be honest, we're not quite sure what Londonist's point is, entirely: the list seems to be a pretty solid relfection of what the NME's position on most of these albums has been over the year - if, say, a Fabulous re-release had appeared at number one, there might have been a raised eyebrow or two. The curious thing is that Londonist say they've seen a mysterious "real" list, which they refuse to publish or even give illustrative examples from:

We notice, for example, that Babyshambles appear at #9 in the published poll, despite fairing particularly badly in the 'genuine' poll. Dare we speculate that Mr. Doherty shifts too many papers for him to be outside the top 10?

But is number nine in the year-end chart really such a crucial position that PR people would be on the phone going "look, if Pete's at number 13 rather than 9, that's going to ruin his Christmas."

These entries might be excused on the basis that they are relatively recent albums that might have been released after the votes were counted. But hang on, the Brakes album came out back in July, did it not? So why do the Brakes now find themselves at #40?

So... an album really low down the list is a few months old which proves the list isn't genuine?

While Londonist seems to want to organise an indie version of the Orange Revolution, its comments section went insane, with everyone in the world logging on pretending to be Conor McNicholas and asking why Londonist just didn't publish its list?

Londonist eventually responded:

Regarding the issues which have been raised in the comments section - we will not be publishing the list we referred to and we won't be revealing how we came about that information either. This is simply because we were asked not to. This site does not have a history of printing lies in order to pursue personal vendettas and we're not about to start. There's no reason for us to attack the NME specifically (in fact, if you scroll down you'll see we plugged their tour yesterday), we're just stating what we've seen and posting our thoughts on it. If you don't want to believe it then that's fine.

Also, if that is the editor of the NME posting comments here (we're aware other commenters are posting under the same name and have deleted those comments) then he needs to email Londonist directly to prove it and address his concerns over what we've published directly with us.

At this stage, the electoral commission have not become involved demanding a re-run. We have no idea if the list was manipulated or not, but we'd be more surprised, to be honest, if any magazine didn't do a spot of statistical manipulation to its lists of things like this. Ultimately, these lists exist for three reasons: one, to fill space as the year starts to peter out; two, to provide an overview of the year in a fairly dynamic format (they could just do the list as an A to Z, but that would be slightly less fun); three, to give people something to grumble about.

We were delighted to spot in the comments that someone has already decided this whole story has been cooked up by Londonist and NME to boost each other's profiles. If the entire NME staff was cut down by gunfire and Kings Reach Tower set aflame, there'd be someone on the internet going "well, that's just because the new ABC figures are coming out soon, isn't it?"

We've just heard that Londonist has unearthed a memo which suggests that the number 73 and number 74 in ITV's 100 Greatest Commercials may have been swapped by a malevolent researcher. More on that as it develops.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the testing for the Cool List wasn't carried out in proper ratified laboratory conditions either.

Tara said...

what's most interesting to me is that it suggests that there's a dissatisfied nme staffer who's leaked something to londonist. interesting because it suggests dissent in the ranks, and also that someone considers londonist a viable outlet for their rage. the list itself... eh.

Anonymous said...

You've missed the point completely. Even if something seems like common knowledge, it doesn't mean if should carry on unexposed. We, as music fans, consumers and writers, are fed up with these kind of shenanigans - as I'm sure most people will confess to be - but why should we just shrug our shoulders, having found proof of it happening?

As for the Brakes - the point is, they don't appear at all in the list we've uncovered. But as if by magic, they make it into the published poll. We just want to know why, and what could have influenced these odd discrepancies. That's all. We have no other agenda.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Londonist... ah. The Brakes thing I did completely misunderstand - from the way you wrote it I thought you were using them as evidence that people had remembered albums from before Halloween.

And I don't think you should have shrugged your shoulders... but I'm just amused by the whole deep throat attitude to all of this - it's a bit of fun in a Christmas issue, and certainly nowhere near as scandalous as the appearance of Sharon Osbourne's awful book in the top ten music books of the year.

I'm not sure who's actually been hurt here.

Anonymous said...

Er, what Simon said. What is it that Londonist are trying to say? That NME staffers falsified their own opinions? Or that the editorial staff falsified the opinions of their staff?
Oh, and that 'Cool List' last week- just how 'Heat'-ish was that (granted that might,at least partly, have been intentional)? Loved the way that Coca Cola made the 'not cool' list because they'd apparently debased Jack White...

Anonymous said...

Omg don't even joke about the NME staff being gunned down we would CRY they are HOT.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we believe from what we've seen that the opinions of the staff have been...well, not exactly falsified...but certainly misrepresented.

Journalists are paid to tell us what they think - so why can't the NME just publish their thoughts uncensored? Do they not have the strength of conviction? Or do commercial interests possibly take preference? And if the latter is true, isn't that enough for us to kick up a fuss about?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

If this is what's happened here - and, of course, that's still quite an "if" - what you have is a story that might have been an interesting Media Monkey Guardian online diary style item. I think you've overplayed this one a bit - maybe if it was the reader's poll, maybe if there was a large cash prize, it might be slightly more outrageous but really "Brakes album appears at number 40 in in-house poll it possibly shouldn't have been in" isn't the bloody Zinoviev Letter, is it?

The thing is, if changes were made, it was probably more a case of tidying up the chart and making it read better - perhaps Arcade Fire were unable to supply an interview, Bloc Party could, maybe they were switched. Of course, we've not seen your ghost chart, and it might be genuine and it might be stuffed with desi beats and opera albums, which would be quite a scandalous situation. As it is, shuffling a few broadly-similar blokey bands about a little in an entertainment feature in a commercial publication only falls short of being a victimless crime by its not being a crime.

Seriously: what commercial god is served by putting an Oasis album at number 24 or whatever?


You don't think this could be the work of a shadowy Far Eastern betting syndicate, do you?

Anonymous said...

You've missed the point. "Ultimately, these lists exist for three reasons" - no, just one reason, which is to get some good PR. Look how many times Mojo's piss-poor "50 greatest albums since Bing Crosby" gets a half-page in one or other broadsheet. I'm still ashamed that I once edited a magazine whose list of "the 50 greatest Britons" was reproduced by the Daily Mail under the headline "Maggie is greatest living Briton". :( :( :(

Anonymous said...

Let's not lose sight of the most important thing, which is that I am still writing for the magazine, and continue to bring my genius to you all, in 2006 and beyond.

Pete Cashmore

Anonymous said...

Yeh! Listen to him! He's a hottie!

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