Sunday, July 31, 2011

What the pop papers say: We [Heart] Pop

Before it launched, I suggested the pink colorscheme and promise of "boys uncensored" would probably make new pop monthly We[heart]Pop an unlikely purchase for any stray boys; the issue comes with some really cheap make-up, too, as if to ram the point home that this is pop, for girls, unlike football, which is for boys. Unless there's a mini-Nicky-Wire demographic they've identified, too. Ooh, I hope there is.

So the title has a manifesto, of sorts - "don't bore us, get to the chorus", which dates back to Berry Gordy. But even if it's being used as a reference to the Roxette greatest hits from a decade and a half ago, it's still a rare suggestion that pop might be in any way older than five minutes or so. Which is fine, in a pop magazine - a world where the name "Cher" can appear, by itself, on the cover and the readership know to expect Lloyd and not Bono.

Inside, it's a little unsure of its tone; there's a few touches will feel a bit like an attempt to capture some of the "love of pop expressed through smirking" that Smash Hits made its own:
But it's very hard to get that sort of thing right - if you try to pull it off and fail, you don't come across like Smash Hits, you come across like you're Number One. So far, because it's done without confidence, We[heart]Pop is about 75% Snabber
to 25% Black Type.

When it's not trying to be Smash Hits, there's a nasty overtone of Heat to the title:
Really? In a magazine for young teens?

There's a couple of good bits, though - a nice "which Lady GaGa are you" flowchart, and a section called "We've Got Issues" which this time asks if pop videos are too rude.

It's a nice idea, rendered slightly pointless by most pop stars saying "hyuk hyuk, they're not rude enough, nyuk nyuk". And, oddly, Patrick Wolf pops up, a bit like seeing Frankie Saturdays turning up in The Economist.

Patrick, if you're wondering, is just worried that pop videos these days are like commercials.

Maybe he's not so far out of place after all.
So it's not a bad magazine. It doesn't love pop, but it's quite fond of popstars, and it does have the gumption to ask One Direction if, given we've already got JLS and The Wanted, the world really needs them.

That's it's real problem, though: JLS. The Wanted. One Direction. Cher Lloyd. It's not that the pop magazines got smaller, it's just the pop stars have become so flat the idea of a musician like the girl or boy next door sounds edgy. There's a Rihanna interview, which has the potential for a bit more interest, but the chat is conducted in trembling awe of its subject.

With record company money pumped into the title, We[heart]Pop is never going to drag the big names into the real world. Even if it hadn't had funding from Universal, it would need a bit of time to build the audience large enough to have a healthy, honest relationship with the pop it says it loves. And - sorry - I don't think it's going to be around long enough to get to that point.