NME at the gate

Cassette tape

Only recently I wondering what future the NME had. Today it was announced that its print edition will close down.

For some reason, copies of the NME can be found in the staff area at my work. One day I picked one of them up and had a quick leaf through.

I didn’t understand a single thing that was going on. This is only right and proper, given that I am over 30 and therefore no longer young.

One thing that leapt out was that it was no longer primarily about music. It was about films and fashion as well.

But the thing I didn’t understand the most was why it still existed.

For a very brief period in the mid-1990s, when I was about 10, I bought a few issues of the NME, and its sister title Melody Maker. I was heavily into Pulp and a few other Britpop acts, and the NME seemed like a natural place to gravitate to.

But I did not become a loyal reader. It wrote about bands I liked, but in a way that I couldn’t connect with. I was probably too young for it, because I definitely bought many more issues of Smash Hits.

By the time I hit my mid-teens, I should have been prime NME audience. But its primary mission seemed to be to generate hype for the Strokes, whose album I remember finding so derivative and monotonous it actually gave me a headache.

To me at that time, it seemed to be everything that music shouldn’t be about.

I realise that griping about my own experience of reading the NME 20 years ago is missing the point somewhat about the NME. Many people rather older than me have been reeling off the list of writers who worked there during its glory days in the 1980s.

But in a way, it is the point. The glory days were long gone.

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