01 November 2007

New bands and the paradox of the music mags

Say this for British music mags Q and Mojo: they love a good myth.

In fact they sometimes appear to love mythology more than music itself. Mojo has all but exhausted the Beatles individually and collectively. There can't be an album, a period or a member left who hasn't gone under the microscope. While the amount of detail on offer is fascinating it can occasionally be depressing since the events chronicled are 30-40 years old.

Oasis were a godsend to these mags - a quintessentially British band with enough humor, menace and top-shelf songs to generate dozens of stories, news items and covers.

For the last few years Mojo and particularly Q have taken to slagging their former heroes off whenever the opportunity arises. Celebrity questionnaires (as if we're bothered what Noel Edmonds is listening to) include snarky items such as "Oasis: do you still care?"

Of course the British music press have been looking for the next Beatles since 1965 and naturally they have come up empty. Their MO is to find just-signed and even unsigned bands and build them as the next big thing. If the band complies via record sales and live appearances then the mags go along for the ride, hype machine in full effect mode. Those bands who fail to meet the high standard set by Oasis, Arctic Monkeys or the Stone Roses are thrown out with the rubbish a year or so later only to appear in mocking "What went wrong?" retrospectives a few years down the line. It's all great fun but do the mags really understand that their no-stone-unturned approach has the potential to interfere with the organic rise and fall of bands? In other words, a scriptwriter can't be a historian simultaneously. Bring on the details but give these poor lads a chance to breathe.

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