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A new list from the NME, and some thoughts about pop-hackery

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Oasis Wonderwall fans

If the writers seem indifferent as to whether their words mean anything or not, then why should the readers give a monkeys if their own comments rarely extend beyond wank list, not enuf Oasis why isn’t wonderwall in there. Idiots have always writ to the music press, it’s the way I started, and when I used to edit the letters page in the half of the inkies I worked for yup there were plenty of numbnutted barely-literate cunts telling me to take my black hip-hop shit elsewhere or complaining about writers going OTT on something they thought was just wank. Ever thus – trouble is now, no model’s being provided by the writers of possible ways of thinking and writing about pop – just an endlessly banal slew of platitudes, dying metaphors, meaning approaching absolute zero. Comes from talking down to the readership, the seeping middle-class assumption that any group as wide as a ‘readership’ needs things dumbing down, simplifying to the point of irrelevance. Where is the writing that speaks across to the readership, across the table, across the room, across the tracks and divisions to illuminate new ideas? Spiked, knocked out, or worse – not even thought of anymore. Reason? Because the WRONG FKN PEOPLE want to be music journalists, beavering hustlers and networkers, passionate ambassadors for their own needy inclusion in da biz, people so damn obsessed with getting their foot in the door they haven’t figured out if they have anything more than fuck-all to say, and couldn’t care less how revoltingly commonplace is the way they express that fuck-all. Style-less automatons of triteness and humbug and horseshit that criminally WASTE your time, and don’t even give you a laff in doing so.

e.g. read this interview and then this interview with professional wanksnap, Hamish McBain, who works for the NME

Two quotes sing out here:

It makes it more challenging, to see how you can still make it exciting. It’s challenging for everyone – it’s a transitional period. It’s exciting in that nobody really knows what to do, and it’s exciting at the NME going to a meeting and instead of saying “right, who are we going to put on the cover?”, it’s “how are we going to put them on the cover?”. How do you make it interesting?

And

Tenacity is the key, really.

“How do you make it interesting”? For starters let’s end the age of the pitch, the angle, the wacky juxtaposition, the let’s take (insert band) to (insert incongruous location) lazyness of modern editorial. If your writers are interesting and freakish enough (not gonna happen if the people hiring are dull-as-fuck themselves or even worse yesmen to the marketeers) THEIR thoughts are the hook, the fact THEY love this band should be enough for an editor to TRUST there is a story beyond fkn celebrity endorsements or YouTube hits. It’s not really a writer’s job to give a fuck about ABCs or give two-shits about what some jumped-up little cunt wielding a piechart has to say about ‘what the readership wants’. EVERY writer is ALSO A READER, what do YOU want from pop writing? Fkn get on with it then, and if you’ve no answer fuck off out of it until you get one, or even better, just fuck off for good. Let writers get on with writing about pop stars as if they’re pop stars even if they’re not pop stars because the things they make make them STARS to US. Let’s unleash something entirely banned from pop writing these days – IMAGINATION – to give pop writing, and pop itself, its full magical and mysterious pull on our time again.

Hats off Hamish, y’ve nailed the key to getting a job in music writing. ‘Tenacity’ as the sole modus operandi of the writer. Career career career career – if there’s something I can say has been common amongst every great writer or editor I’ve ever worked for/alongside it’s been none of this. They’ve all, basically, been music HEADS – seekers of new stuff on a constant basis, diggers of crates, record-shop ghosts, teenage-years wasted in libraries and racks with radios and players and books. They’ve also loved literature, loved writing almost as much as they love music. The impetus and motivation behind their writing was always clear, to say the unique thing they had to say in the unique way they had to say it. Tenacity? FUCK OFF – these loons were convinced that what they had to say DESERVED hearing by the planet, NEEDED expression or they’d explode. Tenacity, fkn tenacity FUCK TENACITY UNTIL you’ve actually figured out if your message is worth tenaciously trying to get out there. And if you have no message, fuck you and fuck off y’gap year cunt, get yr fkn backpack and go see the world. I hope you drown in a disused well before you fkn ever ‘write’ ever again. Because instead of writing what you think, you write what you think other people want to read. And as soon as you start doing that, you’re fucked in the soul, heart and head.

#30 It was no coincidence that this track was chosen to soundtrack a key moment in Trainspotting. Penned on a drunken night as Karl Hyde got bleary-eyed in Soho, the fragmentary lyrics are mirrored by the music, which hurtles between speeds and moods, perfectly echoing the state of inebriation one needs to get to before belting out “lager, lager, lager” to passersby.

Secretly, what modern mainstream pop-hackery confirms is that there’s a fundamental sadness to the role of music writer, or at least there is if you let it take hold – you are employed to basically be a hanger-on, an eavesdropper, a spod, a geek, someone who won’t shut up about something the rest of the world just get on enjoying. To a certain extent this is all true, but the people taking on the role these days seem massively cowed, almost apologetic about being critics, fatally and stupidly too dim to realise that EVERYONE who listens to music THINKS about it deeply, has a whole barrage of prejudices and assumptions they call their ‘taste’, even if they don’t necessarily write it all down all the time. Writers gotta realise – YOU ARE AN ARTIST TOO. Language is your medium, infinity is your potential, MATCH or even SURPASS the music you’re writing about, you’re just as good as those fkn musicians and writing about pop is a vital artform that actually contributes to the health, and the potential for surprise and intrigue, of a musical culture. You are not a fkn hanger-on (and spods and geeks and fans are important  in any culture – remember fans are not disciples, fans can be betrayed) you are part of an argument, a battle.Pick up yr arms and yr pens and yr paper and yr brains and fkn fight. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.

There is still, and always will be, a world to win.

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