RIP NME MAGAZINE 1952 – 2018
So, that’s that. Another one bites the dust – after 66 years, the New Musical Express, the era-defining, generation moulding music magazine of its time, ceases to print. For some, it was an inevitable outcome, marred by double-page hair gel endorsements and the harrowing presence of Justin Bieber on the cover and yet, for some, like me, it’s a heavy-hearted farewell to a publication that, for what it’s worth, defined some part of the British population’s youth.
Some will joke saying that they have nothing to wipe their arse on now or no kindling for their fireplace, but in its prime, you only need to look at the reel of tributes flooding in to know that the NME was a lifeline for many and every Wednesday, we would wait for that genuine connection to a world we could easily have been oblivious to coming from small provincial towns. Pocket money or wages would go on a magazine that shaped interests, political beliefs and tastes whilst a towering stack would pile up on bedroom floors with pages stuck hastily to walls. Sadly, that concept seems rather quaint now.
Once upon a time, NME had a borderline religious following; it was your own little secret where hundreds of underground bands lived beyond its pages, eagerly awaiting discovery. At best, the writing was witty, funny and intelligent, introducing us to a plethora of celebrated music journalists including Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and Tony Parsons, whose personal lives were just as infamous as some of the bands. The covers weren’t bad either, from a mud-drenched image of all-female punk group the Slits in 1979 to a paint-splattered baby-faced Stone Roses in 1989, right up to THAT naked Beth Ditto cover in 2007. It defined moments in musical history and gave us a few godlike geniuses to boot.
It’s hard to think who I’d be or what I’d be doing had I not picked up a copy of the magazine all those years ago. Hailing from Birmingham, I discovered bands such as Peace, Swim Deep, JAWs and Superfood, who unbeknownst to me, were practically on my doorstep. I got involved in the music scene. I made friends with identical ideologies to me. I began to write about music. I was essentially a living prototype of the ‘NME effect’. It had its fair share of triviality too, with its never-ending rotation of ‘Best Albums of all Time’ lists that seemed to pop up every week and the endless stream of ‘what does Noel Gallagher think, though?’ jokes that began to pepper its Facebook comment section. It was transparent to all that NME was clinging onto the coat tails of scenes and bands from a bygone era with covers dedicated to older rock stars, a lot of them deceased or no longer in their respected bands. Ultimately, NME lost focus of their core audience and in the end, they couldn’t even give them away.
Now is the time for a shake-up. We have innovative publications at our fingertips, with So Young, DIY and Foxes gathering pace and documenting subcultural pockets that are existing and happening and defining youth, right at this very moment in time. It’s by no means ‘the end’ if people really want to discover outside the realm of the Internet. It’s less about industries knowing what drives youth culture and more a stark signifier of the times we live in.
So, thank you NME. Thanks for the bands, the words and the absolute joy you brought so many of your readership. Your soul went a while ago, but it’s still sad to see the body go.