Thursday, March 31, 2011

What the pop papers say: Cold, dead eyes

There's actually a pretty good NME this week - there's unapologetic coverage of the March 26th march, a long interview with Metronomy and stuff on Cat's Eyes and The Naked And The Famous. You could almost think it was a feisty, curious publication.

There's even an attempt to review Katy Perry live which is positive, in a pop-loving, spectacle embracing way, although Emily Mackay does get one factual point wrong:

[Perry] has tunes as well as image, from the supercharged motivational firepop of 'Firework'...
Nooo - however much the rest of her catalogue might shimmer in the sunlight, Firework is a dud, a patronising sentiment delivered like a horse falling downstairs. Bloody hell, at one point - "boom boom boom" - it starts quoting Baldrick's war poem with a straight face. And if Perry keeps returning to it, it'll go off in her face.

But apart from that, Mackay manages to turn in a fair-and-cogent piece while being assailed by candy floss smells and exploding glitterballs, a lovely piece of writing in a magazine that feels like it is at heart of a vibrant, interesting music world.

Except you can't tell that by looking, because the cover - the bit not given over to promoting the 479th free Muse and White Stripes poster - has got the simpering blankness of Liam Gallagher peering out of it. Beady Eye. Again. All this good stuff inside, but the front of the NME chooses to make it look like a magazine which stopped buying new records in 1999, around the time it got that job in the regional office and secretly switched to buying the WeightWatchers meals for one.

It's not just that they give over so much space to the band, but it's the rapt attention to a group that would have struggled to get a Wednesday night pub booking if they hadn't familiar faces. Over seven pages, a bunch of men who deserve at best understanding pity get treated like emissaries from the Lord himself:
Did you get a sense, in the build-up to these gigs, that certain people wanted you to fail?
Liam: "Yeah, without a doubt. People going 'Oh, it's going to be fucking shit'. It's like, are you tripping or what? I'm insulted that people think that Noel Gallagher has been carrying this band for the last 18 years."
An interview that was less keen on pleasing the press officer might have found much to think about here - Liam's belief that people thought Beady Eye would be rubbish, when really it's more about the utter irrelevancy; the use of "this band" an unconscious admission that, new name or no, Liam is really ploughing on with Oasis in his mind; that people don't think Noel was carrying Oasis for 18 years, but rather than the first two years of Oasis carried the band for the following 16.

Instead, it drifts on to talking about The Strokes. Liam Gallagher having a pop at Julian Casablancas. Most of the paper knows its 2011; why does it present a face to the world like it thinks Blair is still in Downing Street?


Neil Comfort said...

Great to see WTPPS back again - always a great read. I actually want to read this week's NME now which is a surprise! Katy Perry article sounds refreshingly broad-minded; don't totally agree about Firework (though California Girls is just IMMENSE) but it's a perfectly valid opinion, and good call on the Baldrick poem! Can't wait for KP's anti-war album now - "Hear the songs I sing"...

H. said...

Be fair: the NME can't survive on regular readers alone, it has to pull in the passing trade, hence Liam. Whether or not Gallagher jr is still enough to put bums on seats in this day and age is probably open to debate, but Gordon Smart seems to think he still sells papers, and the NME can only wish it had Sun-numbers so his cover story makes perfect sense.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

True up to a point, H, but this is the second time in six issues that Liam has been on the cover.

And I'm not entirely sure it even sells magazines - the NME has been running these, shall we say, road-tested stars on covers week-after-week for years now, and the figures drift further and further south. Is having your Dad's favourite from when he liked music on the cover off-putting to the next generation you need to get into the NME buying habit?

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