14th December 2015

NME’s enemy is my friend

Now a free music publication dished out on the streets, Dominic Bennett looks back at NME’s history of landfill indie to Justin Bieber and feels no mourning

The year is 2015. The chiming guitars of ‘So Here We Are’ kick in, and a solitary tear falls down the cheek of our sad indie lad protagonist as he goes through a series of realizations: Bloc Party have truly finished making good songs; Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong will never release their mythical debut album; and worst of all, his beloved NME now has Justin Bieber on the cover and is being given away for free on the streets. For many like him, the new incarnation of NME has been a heavy blow, but we are actually years too late in sounding the magazine’s death knell. It is time to acknowledge that NME have been awful for years, and to maybe even congratulate them for making the transition to a full on piece of shit so that people can no longer pretend that they aren’t otherwise.

NME has long obsessed over and encouraged a deluge of dull British guitar bands whilst amazing music has been made all around it. The magazine is partly responsible for the so-called landfill indie era—an endless succession of lazy rock bands that had plagued the mid to late noughties. This led to the majority of the population getting tired and seeking out new styles. Pop took over the charts again and indie fans with any sense had sought out creative American alternatives like Dirty Projectors and TV on the Radio.

NME however, continued to prioritise this bland rock style. By fretting so much about the possible death of British guitar music and focusing on a narrow and reductive set of bands, it actually hammered the final nail in the coffin. NME have continually championed the wrong acts and contributed nothing to the musical landscape, from past rubbish like the Pigeon Detectives and The Twang through to thoroughly mediocre modern day acts like Slaves and Royal Blood.

It is still is dreadful, but I’d actually like to thank the magazine for making this move into a new era, think of the updated NME as a glorious act of trolling towards its former readership, whom thoroughly deserve it. I imagine a Venn diagram of people genuinely angry about the new NME and people who sign petitions against pop or hip hop artists headlining festivals in each circle. In a year where Justin Bieber really is making better music than Bloc Party, we need to stop pretending that NME was ever any good.

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