Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Black Type black armband

Not back, back, back any more, as Smash Hits is closing - not that anyone over 14 can have read it for a good five years or so (we've heard the last consumer report had its average reader age at 10, which is older than when we first saw it but at least we expected most of its readers to be much older), but those of us between, let's say, 22 and 36 are entitled to feel shocked and not a little saddened that that masthead won't be on the shelves from the middle of the month. Anything launched by Nick Logan and driven by David Hepworth and Mark Ellen must have something going for it, and what it did have was finding the niche market through remembering what pop music is supposed to be and selling it to kids disenfranchised by a 'proper' music press caught between the punk devil and the post-Paul Morley seriousness deep blue sea, bringing lyrics and posters to the masses. To quote from The New Republic: "In 1981, Smash Hits editor David Hepworth sent a memo to record company press departments that read: "It is my intention to reverse the entire direction of [popular music publishing] in favor of entirely trivia.... We want to know the colour of your artists' socks." And he succeeded. In the first six months of 1979, Smash Hits drew an audience of 166,000 to NME's 202,000; but by the end of 1984 Smash Hits' readership had swelled to over half a million, while NME's had dwindled to 123,000", a number which famously included Antony Hegarty via airmail in California. May we put our name down for the funeral march to 52-55 Carnaby Street, and hope we're joined by Fab Macca Wackythumbsaloft, Dame David Bowie, Ken, Dick Spatsley, Ver Spands, Ben Vol-Au-Vent Parrot and all points west.

Morten Harket's Purple Right Sock, Leicestershire


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