Farewell to NME: a rock’n’roll riot that petered into silence

This week marks the final print copy of NME, once the engine of the hype and heat around the music industry. But its narrow musical focus in its later years doomed it to irrelevance

  • News: NME to close print edition after 66 years

On one hand, the demise of NME’s print edition seems inevitable. For all the title’s loud touting of its increased circulation figures since it became a freesheet in September 2015 – they were apparently better than they had been since 1964 – the paper was an irrelevant shadow of its former self.

The kind of things about NME that had once been hot topics had long ceased to be discussed, even within the music industry. Who was on its cover that week? Who was it hyping as the new saviour of rock’n’roll? Which unfortunate had been dealt a kicking in the reviews section by one of its bolshy star writers? If it was mentioned at all, it was in tones of bafflement and pity.

The last big furore NME caused wasn’t over an album it had slagged off, nor a sacred cow it had taken to task in an interview, nor a band it had praised to the point that said band was clearly doomed, incapable of fulfilling the expectations heaped on their shoulders. It was when its online wing inexplicably ran the news story: “M&S to stop selling £2.50 vegan ‘cauliflower steaks’ following complaints.” You didn’t have to be one of those misty-eyed nostalgics for the paper’s glory days, ever ready to trot out the impossibly well-worn stories about Nick Kent’s testicles hanging out of his leather pants or Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons putting barbed wire round their area of the office – stories we’re going to be given umpteen opportunities to enjoy yet again in the coming days – to think this was a terribly depressing way for NME to go out.

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