It’s bullshit; entirely and utterly bullshit. No, I’m not talking about the compost B&Q currently has on offer for £4.37. Though I have to say, that’s some pretty cheap shit. Nope, what I’m actually referring to is the rotten shitty state of the Music Press in this country. And one publication in particular has caught my ire. At least compost is good for something; my Nan’s Roses look amazing, but I have a headache from reading such shite. The following 1000 words or so isn’t just another silly rant about the walking talking preening posing self-image obsessed prepubescent hair-gel adverts that I spoke about in my last article, but is instead a pointless comment on how annoyed I am at the willing purveyors and champions of image obsessed hair-gel adverts. It’s actually saddens me to see how much actual hair-gel marketing there is in these magazines.
I won’t name names, that wouldn’t be fair. Naming and shaming any particular magazine would be just like shooting tinned fish in a barrel. It’s a gratuitous act. The fish are already dead, it’ll make a bloody big mess and everyone will just stare at you because you’re a massive twat. The most obvious of targets is a well-known, pretentious and badly written indie magazine. We’ve all read a copy at some point but we must be clandestine. For the sake of reticence let’s just call it the MNE. Now, due to ongoing poor circulation the MNE recently relaunched as a free publication, with its readership falling from 15,830 in spring 2014 to around 15,000 in 2015. All things considered, the loss of those 830 readers must have really stung!
The quality of writing in the MNE has been terrible for years, like, notoriously bad. And before you comment, yes I know all about people in glass houses; they’re a voyeur’s best friend. It’s great you can see everything. Anyway, my researcher friend Wiki tells me that even the Guardian got stuck in a few years ago when the MNE published the 500 greatest Albums of all time. The list featured four albums from the band ‘The National’; a band that is so depressing they make Morrissey look like Mr Tumble. The vapidly lazy regularity that they champion mediocrity is astounding. This, in addition to the MNE’s reputation for using the wrong artist photos, consistently print factual errors and once even claimed that ‘The Cribs’ are a good band. (The Cribs are in fact merely Jeremy Beadles last practical joke, his one last ‘fuck you’ to society. Thanks Jeremy!)
Without wanting to work my friend Wiki too hard, I also did a little (and I mean little) research of my own. When the MNE relaunched as a ‘Music, Film and Style’ magazine they featured Rihanna as cover artist and leading story, an obvious indication of intent from the ‘genius’ at the MNE. Indulge me, but if you will think about this laterally for a moment… You have a publication with declining sales, poor content quality and questionable allegiance to shit indie bands from the north/midlands… their solution? Go for a mainstream audience and load the magazine up with (even more) advertising to cover the cost of giving it away… Wait… What!? What the actual fuck. Instead of correcting the obvious mistakes and improve the actual content they go for the disinterested mainstream demographic (which isn’t known for its reading habits) with a famous hip-pop singer (who is everywhere anyway). So far, so bollocks. Still, if you load it up with more and more adverts, it’s free. Who needs quality written content when you have adverts and pictures of knobheads who have lovely hair? Fucking hell, just who is the audience here? Who is the target demographic? Who cares what Rihanna thinks of Taylor Swift? Christ, even if I wanted to know I’d google the answer anyway. Or kill myself for being such a vacuous cretin. Either/or.
Taking this research thing to a whole new level, I took a quick look at the magazines new direction. I’m actually astounded that it is even possible to be any worse than they ever were before, but you have to hand it to them. It’s almost impressive. The three headlines on their news page today are as follows: “Flava Flav fined £2300 for speeding while driving”; “Selena Gomez says ‘uncomfortable’ talking about lupus” and the pièce de résistance “Miley Cyrus to play gig while naked”. I’m so done… Just fuck this. I’m out.
But, back in the late 70s and 80s the paper was often a figurative crutch for Music fans. The informative writing of Nick Kent, Danny Baker and Charles Shaar Murray provided a reliable and personable music guide to many a young audience. And that is exactly what is missing from the modern music press. There is no personality. No enjoyment or passion or opinion, just a small army of bellends with coifed hair, skinny jeans and laptops. Most of us didn’t notice when the magazine relaunched, and the sad fact that the changeover was so easy for the MNE is because most people just don’t care anymore. I sound callous, but it wasn’t us who ruined the MNE. It was the magazine themselves who had long given up on decent alternative music, which is strange because it could have been their saving grace. We all clamour for fresh new music, but when was the last time MNE hit upon a new band which then went on to something really special? When was the last time they championed a band that wasn’t in the thralls of the biggest labels and the marketing money? The sad truth is that it was probably before you and I were born.
Music needs a strong independent press to really thrive. Bands need it because it provides exposure to an audience they wouldn’t otherwise. The audience needs it because we as human beings need to be part of something, a special something that (however small or innocuous) makes us one, even for a moment. We’re in this together and our passions should be shared and loved together. The MNE forgot that. They forgot that it was about the music. The MNE chased the cash and got lost along the way, started listening to the Cribs and is now fucked up beyond all recognition. I have no doubt in my mind that the next time you hear about them it will likely be because they’ve ceased to print completely. I go on, but it’s depressing just how transparent it really is. If you look at where you can now pick up a copy of the MNE, at 140 Topman stores and 121 HMV stores, suddenly the change to being a free “Music, Film and Style” magazine makes sense. Nothing is sacred anymore. Veni, Vidi, vēndō. Bollocks.