A quarter century ago I bought the single of “God Save The Queen” by the Sex Pistols – it came wrapped in a brown paper bag. I hadn’t heard the song because it wasn’t played on mainstream radio. It had seized my imagination partly because of the way that new wave music journalists like Paul Morley had made punk sound so exicting in their writing in the New Musical Express. This morning Paul and I were talking on camera about Kylie Minogue as a cultural icon for a documentary he is making for Sky about a new Kylie exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. And that tells you just about everything you need to know about where popular culture and journalism has gone in the last 25 years. It’s gone to a museum of frocks and wallpaper.
My point is not that things have gone downhill. Kylie is a true delight and there’s plenty of other great stuff around for old rockers to enjoy like The Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers and The Arctic Monkeys. It’s just that in this post-modern world people like Paul and myself spend too much time thinking about a princess of pap like Kylie.
Does a paper like the NME have any influence anymore? My son is an enthusiastic subscriber who reads it far more thoroughly than he does his homework. But there’s been an explosion of blogging about pop music by fans, musicians and commentators. So is that changing the nature of pop music journalism and possibly the ipod culture itself? I’ve asked Paul to report back.