On a rainy afternoon in November of 2016, a copy of the latest NME announcing it’s album of the year to be from the 1975 is trodden into the puddle-laden streets of North London.
During the last 12 months we’ve lost many of greats - David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Prince just to name a few – but we also, finally, lost the NME. Its decline has been steady and coming since Arctic Monkeys fuelled indie scene started to crumble. Yes, the company bigwigs have declared the magazine to be back from the brink but the magazine that had been championing new music for generations has, amongst music fans at least, finally come to rest. NME is still trundling on however (I am sure their shareholders are still making a profit) it’s spirit and its essence is long dead. Despite the fact that the magazine is now free, the magazine is dwindling into insignificance. After almost 40 years, the NME is no longer cool and that is the final nail in its coffin.
Since becoming free, cover stars have included Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift, the two biggest commercial artists in the world. Artists who churn out hit after hit, all created for the purpose of making money for major labels. These are the ‘artists’ who NME should be slating not celebrating. NME have failed new independent artists by shining their fading spotlight onto the ‘artists’ who have to wear factor 50 to protect from all the media attention.
All of this comes from the magazine that once produced the iconic c86 tapes and dominated the 90’s by building artists from the ground up and making them stars. They told you what was cool, what records you should blast from your room at all hours and which ones you should wipe your arse with. It was rebellious, confrontational, and didn’t care what anyone else thought. Its award was a big middle finger for god’s sake. But now you’re more likely to see it cowering the corner afraid to have an opinion brown nosing Matt Healy or Zayn Malik so they’ll appear on the cover again, its fall from grace complete.
As we all gather around as their paper-mache coffin, made from interviews with The Strokes and The Libertines, are we crying or are we ambivalent to NME’s demise? To put it bluntly no one gives a fuck; the collapse has been met more with frustrated humour than sorrow. As they post interviews with Justin Beiber and the evolution of Alex Turner’s hair, the reaction is one of subtle laughter at the joke they have become.
It’s not just the quality of the artists featured by the magazine that has declined but also it’s journalism. The NME have forgotten what it is to write a great piece of music journalism or even do a decent band interview. The journalism that once made them the make or break magazine in the music world has disappeared, the hype of NME will no longer help you make it and neither will NME slating you prevent you making it. Its opinion is insignificant and this can be contributed to the fact that all NME appear to be interested in now, is click-bait and major label arse kissing.
The real music journalism has moved on to the independent blogs and magazines such as Smashed Vinyl, DIY or Stamp The Wax. Diverse and ‘edgy’ music journalists are as far away from NME as possible, with those working they’re either careerists or middle-aged white men desperately pretending to cool and relevant. They have been left buried by the turning tide of the music world and not a single tear to be shed.