Since it was founded in 1952, the New Musical Express has never quite lived up to its name. Back in those days, the press reacted with all the speed of a tired sloth. The paper has often gone through periods of concentrating on "yoof" issues, and the novelty wore off some time ago.
In spite of the rise of general interest monthlies, and the fixation the paper has with being hipper than thou, it has survived into the present day, and marks its 50th anniversary this April. It's not for everyone. The crowded pop market has its own press, concentrating on the colour of Shane Westlie's socks (or something like that.) The mature market has its organs, too, and very interesting is the piece on Rod Stewart's underpants. In between lies the NME.
With the tradition of being the longest established music paper in the free world comes a certain kudos from being the cover stars. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when this week's edition came with an action snapshot of Tom Linton, guitarist with Mesa four-piece Jimmy Eat World. For any band to make the cover of the NME is an honour, and a significant step to the conclusion: We've Arrived.
The purpose of the cover is to sell copies of the paper. It's got to be hard hitting. It's got to be obvious. It's got to be arresting. It's got to sell something the reader knows, or something that will entice them to buy. For an act that has had a decade of success, this is passe. For an act that is making its debut, this is a fantastic rite of passage. For an act that has had one very minor hit single, and whose album is still bubbling just outside the crucial top 75, this is a show of confidence.
It's slightly annoying that the NME deems the group to be part of a Scene - in this case "EMO" (emotional hardcore, apparently) - but one remembers that Blur had no place in the infamous Shoegazing debacle of 1991. Scenes are hooks for the media to hang their coats. No one who has actually heard Jimmy Eat World will doubt that this is a band that is Going Places at a speed faster than Concorde.