Friday, 9 March 2018

My Top Twenty NME Songs

It seems nobody will mourn the NME, and all those whose careers were ravaged in its pages will have the last laugh at what it became - a free supermarket ad-sheet they couldn't even give away. Two album reviews a week and they still had the nerve to call it the New Musical Express! Yes, it had its moments, and yes, it brought fame to bands that might otherwise never have crawled out of their parents' basements, but it also wallowed in the pathetic press culture of "build 'em up then knock 'em down" and groomed journalistic egos that were bigger than many rock stars'. As a magazine, it should have been put out of its misery years ago - long before far more worthy music papers breathed their last.

Its legacy? It'll always live on in these fine songs...

(Plus ones by Ed Sheeran and James Blunt... believe it or not!)

20. A - For Starters

Remember A? No, the NME probably don't either. But A remember the NME...

Hey, it's another day in 'A'
I'm proud to be myself
'Cause rock made me this way
I said hey, I've got plenty more to say
So let me clear my throat
'Cause I'm not cool Britannia,
Not getting any younger
They hate me at NME
I don't care where you've been,
I don't care for your scene
You make me feel like an amputee 

Yeah! I've got something for starters
Throw it up in the air, and we really don't care
We're getting louder!

19. Thunder - On The Radio

Great old school rock n roll... no wonder the NME weren't interested!

I know I never went to art school
I was never in the NME
I got no chance of sleeping with Kate Moss
What the hell is wrong with me?

18. Noise Addict - I Wish I Was Him

Ben Lee's original band. How did he get his NMEs in Australia? There's a clue in the song...

It may sound stupid when I say it out loud
Like I'm just jealous of his silver cloud
He looks real good he drinks diet Coke
He gets his NME's sent by air, not boat
I wish I was him
He gets the women at his feet
With all his cool friends
He gets his records for free
I wish I was him
He has no enemies
I wish I was him

17. Thee Headcoats - (We Hate The Fuckin') NME

With thanks to JC.

16. The Levellers - 100 Years of Solitude

The fact that the Levellers don't like the NME is about as surprising as the fact that the NME didn't like The Levellers.

No solutions built to last
Just petty scores to settle fast 
The N.M.E. was nothing to you
And the Maker, well the Maker of who?

15. Australian Crawl - Unpublished Critics

Another Aussie band with an axe to grind for the NME... from 1981!

The singer in the band, he sweat on a pose
And he's really such a jerk
Thinks he can call me stupid
Because he gets a lot of work
I'm standing in the background, got my arms on the fold
And every dog's gonna have it's day
The New Musical Express and my own 4-way P.A.

14. Butch Walker & The Black Widows - Synthesisers

Everybody's writing songs with synthesizers
But I don't have a synthesizer... a pretty great opening couplet for any song. But this gets better...

I don't have friends at Pitchfork or NME
No sexy heroin addiction plaguing me
But I can still get down like
Frank Poncherello on a motor bike, that's right

Plus they've got Matthew McConaughey in their video. Somehow.

13. Pete Townshend - Jools & Jim

Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, during their tenure at the NME, wrote a rather vicious little book about the music industry which Pete took offence to...

Anyone can have an opinion
Anyone can join in and jump
Anyone can pay or just stay away
Anyone can crash and thump
But did you read the stuff that Julie said?
Or little Jimmy with his hair died red?
They don't give a shit Keith Moon is dead
Is that exactly what I though I read?
Typewriter tappers
You're all just crappers
You listen to love with your intellect
A4 pushers
You're all just cushions
Morality ain't measured in a room
He wrecked.

12. Adam & The Ants - Press Darlings

When Nick Kent claimed Adam Ant was a Nazi, this was Adam's response...

And if evil be the food of genius
There aren't many demons around
If passion is in fashion
Nick Kent is the best dressed man in town

11. Joe Jackson - Out of Style

Joe Jackson never wanted to be cool...

All the world's so full of problems I just don't know what to do 
Should my jacket have three buttons? - am I out of style with two? 
Is my hair too long? - 'cause I think I feel a change 
I guess I should be ready for it, I look younger than my age 
And I think there's something stirring in the corner of the page 
Of the NME - and I let them lead the way 

10. Morrissey - Journalists Who Lie

Not Moz's finest hour... but then, neither was his various run-ins with the NME. Yes, they had it in for him... yet they also knew they wouldn't have kept going as long as they did without him. The greatest abusive relationship in the history of pop music?

Here's a tip, Morrissey... if you stick your hand into a crocodile's mouth and it bites off your finger, how about not sticking your hand back in there over and over again and getting upset when the same thing keeps happening to you?

Journalists who lie 
The truth is, it happens 
Praise, then crucify 
Just follow this pattern 
And see how:
They're only trying to make their name 
By spreading sickening lies 
About the ones who've made their name 
Mate, give us the knife 
Give us the knife

9. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Gamma Ray

I'm sure Joe had something stronger to say about the NME than this... but if he did, he kept it to himself. Great tune though.

When Alan McGee went to Dundee
He caused all the rock groups to flee
Yeah, I read it in the N.M.E.
It was the gamma ray
8. Destroyer  - Kaputt

Not sure how Vancouver-born Dan Bejar, lead Destroyer, ended up singing about a bunch of British music papers... but he made a great tune out of them.

Smash hits
Melody maker
All sound like a dream to me

7. The Kinks - Top of the Pops

I really should do a Top Ten Top of the Pops Songs at some point...

Now my record's number 11 on the BBC
But number seven on the N.M.E
Now the Melody Maker want to interview me
And ask my view on politics and theories on religion

6. The Cure - Desperate Journalist

In which Robert Smith takes umbrage at Paul Morley's review of Three Imaginary Boys and rips into him in a BBC session... while quoting much of the very review that caused him so much ire.


5. Shame - Lick

The last great song to be written about the NME while it was still in existence?

From Songs of Praise, the debut album from Shame. First great album of 2018?

Not sure. This is definitely the best track on there...

So why don't you sit in the corner of your room
Sit in the corner of your room
And download the next greatest track to your MP3 device
So sincerely recommended to you by the New Musical Express
You can pick it up
Plug it in
And have it ready for free-roaming material before you know it
Then you can stroll on round to your friend’s house and play it loud and proud
As you sit around in a circle and skip one minute and thirty seconds into the chorus
So we can all sing along and gaze and marvel at the four chord future
Cause that's what we want
That's what we need
Something we can touch
Something we can feel
Something that's relatable not debatable
Relatable not debatable
Relatable not debatable
Relatable not debatable
Salutations are in order
To welcome forth our sweet disorder

4. Half Man Half Biscuit - Used To Be In Evil Gazebo

I’m sitting in my Ladbroke Grove

Waiting for the NME
They’re coming down to interview me
But I haven’t told the others, ‘cos they’d mess around and burp, 
And tell the truth and laugh at me for drinking a classic red bottled by a medal-winning estate on the banks of the Garonne...

In which Nigel Blackwell plays the part of a pretentious arsehole musician getting interviewed by the NME...

So then Ben, it seems every track on the EP involves death, drunkenness, desperate poverty, diabolical dealings, incest, murder and abandonment. Does this reflect your current state of mind?

Well you know I have days.

Priceless... and now the chorus...

Oh, I’ve been in a mental hospital
I’ve been in a mental hospital
But I don’t like to talk about it – all the same.

3. George Harrison - Cockamamie Business

The best Beatle. No debate.

Bust my back on the Levy - broke my strings on the BBC
Found my chops on Eel Pie Island - paid my dues at the Marquee
Slagged off by the N.M.E. - lost my stash and my virginity
In this Cockamamie Business

2. Art Brut - Bad Weekend

Eddie Argos wrote my favourite song about the NME...

Haven't read the NME in so long
Don't know what genre we belong
Popular culture, no longer applies to me

How much do you feel that last line? I'm thinking of making that the strapline for this blog too.

Yes, that was my favourite NME song. But this had to be Number One...

1. Sex Pistols - Anarchy In The UK

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best, I use the rest
I use the N.M.E.
I use anarchy!

Or did the NME use them? Symbiosis defined.

Apologies if there were any typos in this post... I threw it together rather quickly before it fell out of fashion. And I'm sure I'll have missed loads of songs as a result... your suggestions welcome.


  1. Very impressive Rol
    And again there could only be one number one

  2. Yes, very impressive! Nice choice with Adam & the Ants too. I would also have to include Saint Etienne 'Over The Border' (coincidentally just quoted the lyrics over at my place but not because of the NME bit - however it would fit!)

  3. Some very dodgy lyrics in that lot. I only bought NME for the Ray Lowry cartoons.

  4. So much work here. Impressed you recalled Destroyer. Another related list could be a best of the ‘80s cassettes or songs from the cassettes... c81, c86, Dancin’ Master, etc.


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