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Mini music genres: UK music press

A few years ago I wrote a post about a “mini music genre”, songs about “famous exes”. I didn’t get round to writing any others, but given the closure of the NME’s print edition it seems a good moment to write up this list of songs that reference it and other now past British music magazines.

If you know of any others, do let me know via email or Twitter.


  • 8 March 2018: Added Anarchy in the UK.
  • 9 March 2018: Created a YouTube playlist of most of the tracks.
  • 9 March 2018: Added Over the Border, New Art for the People and The Great Pub Rock Revival.
  • 4 January 2019: Added Anthologised by Cherry Red.
  • 23 April 2019: Added Are You Feeling Fashionable.
  • 4 March 2020: Added Jools and Jim.

Steven Wells (He was the Greatest) – Akira the Don

This song’s the first track on that 2011 mixtape on Soundcloud.

Before w w… WH Smiths
Was the place to read stuff about those hits
There was Q which was quite boring
There was Select which was ace
There was Kerrang, there was Raw and there was the Melody Maker
But above all the others
There was the NME
For that was where I got to read the words of…
Steven Wells
He was the greatest
Of all time
A force replaceless

Excitingly enthusiastic nostalgia to kick things off. Lyrics from the archived version of Akira the Don’s site. Surprisingly this track is apparently also a thing on Rock Band.

Best British Band Supported By Shockwaves – Pete Green

I was 21 when I last bought the NME
And that’s so long ago that it’s obscene
From what I gather now most of its readers
Outgrow it at the age of 17
But the other day upon an online forum
I read about the NME Awards
They were sponsored by a range of leading products
And the most prestigious winner will be called
The Best British Band Supported By Shockwaves

Not so much nostalgia as bemoaning the commercialisation of the modern-day NME, with its empty flash, back-handers, sponsorships. From the 2008 EP Platform Zero, available on Bandcamp.

Long Live the UK Music Scene – Helen Love

Hey, Johnny Cigarettes and Steven Wells
Don’t get upset, your paper will still sell
Chris Evans and Shed Seven will save the UK music scene

As the band said in a tweet yesterday, “…your paper will still sell…the only bit of the song we got wrong.” From 1998. The video on YouTube.

Kaputt - Destroyer

Smash Hits
Melody Maker
All sound like a dream to me
All sound like a dream to me
All sounds like a dream

I have no idea what this 2011 song is really about and that video does not clear things up. From the Kaputt album.

Hamster Baby – Bikini Kill

Where is your next show?
Oh, in Honolulu
Do we get to go there for free?
Oh yes we do
But not with you
Oh Everett True
Where are you?

I was a Melody Maker reader (because my local library got it in) and so a sense of loyalty compels me to include this otherwise slightly-tangential track given it mentions the MM journalist. Otherwise indeciphrable lyrics via Genius. From the 1993 Pussy Whipped album. The video on YouTube.

Keroleen - Bis

Got a smashing smile
But you can’t have her
You can look but don’t touch
Her cute little curves
She’s not skinny but proud
She posed in the nude
She is her own self
Like Everett True

Maybe Everett True-mentioning tracks should be their own mini genre? Again, lyrics via Genius. From the 1996 Heavenly/Bis Trophy Girlfriend/Keroleen split 7″ single. The video on YouTube.

Anarchy in the UK – The Sex Pistols

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best, I use the rest
I use the NME
I use anarchy

Somehow I completely forgot this one. So thanks to Fraser Lewry for pointing it out. 1977. The video on YouTube.

Over the Border – Saint Etienne

I was in love, and I knew he loved me,
because he made me a tape.
I played it in my bedroom.
I lived in my bedroom, all of us did.
Reading Smash Hits and Record Mirror,
Paul Morley and the NME,
Dave McCulloch and Sounds,
Modern Eon and Modern English,
Mute, Why, Zoo, Factory.
Cutting them up, sucking them in,
Managing the story on our own.

Thanks to Matt Sheret for reminding me of this nostalgia-fest from 2012’s Words and Music by Saint Etienne album. The video on YouTube.

New Art for the People – The Indelicates

Under the covers forever
Everything well within reach
A small price to pay for our freedom
And for our celebrity
Such ornaments and gorgeous things
Like string lights at the beach
Intensive care and conditioned air
And our faces on TV
And it’s so sad but they’re so glad that you’re so bad for me
The dark days ahead and the blood on the bed and the cover of the NME
They gave us a cheque and took us by our necks and swore undying loyalty

Another thanks to Matt Sheret for pointing out this one from 2005. The video on YouTube.

The Great Pub Rock Revival – Denim

And there’s some sex and drugs on the ocean
A whole wide world on the sea
Everybody believes what they’re told to
Everybody believes what they read in the NME
Everybody but me
Everybody but me
Everybody but me

Thanks to Kate Connolly for reminding me of this track from Denim’s 1996 album Denim on Ice, packed full of earworms. Synthesizer solo! The video on YouTube.

Anthologised by Cherry Red – Spray

Once I was done over by the NME
All now reprinted and given out for free
Gary Crowley liner notes and a play from Guy Garvey
They’re gonna be sniffing around for me to play Glastonbury

The video on Youtube and the EP/album on Bandcamp.

Are You Feeling Fashionable – Help She Can’t Swim

Give me a rock’n’roll slogan to scream
And put me on the cover of Bang magazine
And do you sell more copies than Melody Maker?
Do you sell more copies than Melody Maker?

God bless the music press
‘Cause they made you believe that the Strokes are the best
And no, you’re not bored of it yet
I can’t believe you’re not bored of it yet

The video on Youtube, and the band on Wikipedia and on iTunes.

Jools and Jim – Pete Townshend

But did you read the stuff that Julie said?
Little Jimmy with his hair dyed red?
They don’t give a shit Keith Moon is dead
Is that exactly what I thought 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

On YouTube. Originally titled Jools and Tony (but retitled because Truffaut) after Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, the NME journalists, because of this story:

Shortly after [Moon’s death, Townshend] read a newspaper interview in which Burchill and Parsons were promoting [their book] The Boy Looked At Johnny. In it, the subject of Moon came up. “Tony brought up Keith and said: ‘Fuck Keith Moon, we’re better off without him. Decadent cunt driving Rolls-Royces into swimming pools. If that’s what rock and roll’s about, who needs it?’”

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