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“Spring Reading on the NME Meter: Juiced as Hell”

I was going to make this post about the concept of “love.” I mean hell, it’s spring. The birds are chirping, feelings of amorousness are rushing through people’s minds, in our fine thoroughfares of America.

There’s just one problem: hip-hop. Because the rap. Black people feel no love, so they don’t talk in full sentences (Childish Gambino named one of his albums “Because the Internet”) and Evidence makes the claim on his solid album Cats & Dogs that “I don’t need love.”
I mean hell, black people are literally yelling at us. We took away all their musical instruments from the schools in ’79, so all they had was their folks’ turntable at home… now, is anything changing? We had a black president, and you know what, he was arguably the best president since John F. Kennedy (I’m Irish, sorry). I just paid $500, total, for a $2000 visit to the hospital, without health insurance, and unemployment and gas prices are both down. It feels good to have a black president, I can’t deny it.
So about this music thing. It’s something I’ve been into for a while see, ever since emasculating myself in front of my friends with Sarah McClachlan’s Surfacing, or annoying my mom in the car with Korn’s “Freak on a Leash”… free downloading? Sure, why not! I’m a 15 year old kid, I don’t even use a computer! Down with the establishment! I hate old people, and their pet monkeys too!
There’s just one problem. A song was created that goes “It’s getting hot in here / So take off all your clothes / I am getting so hot / I’m gonna take my clothes off.” Remember, America is a free country. You are free to kill yourself and your entire family, and hope for a preferable afterlife.
Who’d have thought economics would play a part in it. You get what you pay for. All of a sudden the world is MY enemy, so I seek out others for whom the world is the N-M-E.
Freddie Gibbs, check. So in growing up in South Bend, Indiana, I discover a Gary, Indiana rapper (Gary is all of 60 miles away, mind you) by ordering a print subscription to a British magazine which will end up taking about five weeks to get to my place, whereupon it will start coming in extremely irregular spurts (some weeks I’ll get like five issues), in this little plastic sleeve… sorry, waxing sentimental here. And by the way, yeah, they are a little too obsessed with Kanye, whose level of popularity 90 miles east of Chicago hovers around that of Marge Schott.
Music. Next paragraph. Oh, and you thought you were dealing with amateurs here? Their editor in chief is even this prototypical British press looking bald dude, chiming in with a coy smile every week, maybe a bit pedantic at times, but reliable for pulp copy, for, of all things, his sheer love of music.
Love. Shearwater. Savages. Ty Segall. Kevin Morby. The Prettiots. Sunflower Bean. Animal Collective. Au Pair. Droves, and droves, and fields, and fields, of bands out there, great bands, still making rock and roll, on the strength of one thing: the love they feel, in their hearts, for this music, from the Rolling Stones through the Strokes. Are these new albums the best of all time? Not a chance. Do the songs even feature key changes and phrasing unorthodoxies? Not usually. But the sound is there. The perfection of sound (of which the bar was reset by Real Estate’s Atlas) is undeniable, and it’s clear from the crystallized twists and turns of the content itself: these guys (and girls) are making music because it is a thrilling thing to do, because in their minds writing the perfect chord progression, song structure and melody is directly correspondent to unimpeachable greatness.
Pop. Yes, there are still genre demarcations out there, I am arguing, as we track the continuing DNA of humanity as a whole. And you might not think it, but no genre is more indicative of the fact that NME is a holistic, evolving organism of various phases, and not a uniform ray of homogeneous traits along time, than pop. The epitome of the magazine’s cheeky sense of humor is its “Godlike Genius Award,” [1] which I think is inherently discursive of several things: one, the necessary component that effective artists must necessarily be humble in some way, so that referring to them as a “godlike genius” is actually complimentary, meaning not a “compliment,” necessarily, but sovereign nonetheless in humorous qualities in the fact that it represents not the truth but rather a low-life median perspective. Two, I think, incidentally, the bands that receive this award tend to be bands which everybody (especially in the States) often hates, whether they’re U2, or Coldplay, or Oasis, so that the elements of irony of the award’s presentation span not only to realms of artist mindset, but also the press’s relationship with key artists. NME realize the hopelessness of trying to actually imbue a sense of these singers, guitarists, regular initiators of veritable musical cataclysms as humble human beings, so they flip it on the haters — you can’t lose a battle that you forfeit in the first place.
Also, the term goes great with the NME Awards’ middle finger statue, as well as the title of their magazine, in the first place. Their most recent “pop” installment regarded James Bay… someone whom you SHOULD know about, and care about, if you don’t already. He’s got the song “Let it Go,” which on his album I just happened to turn directly to (look at me) and it does saunter along with the majestic gravity of a Coldplay indeed, or a The Verve, keeping it in the land of blokes. They’ve got a sharp way of letting their very selection of artist do the talking: Bay’s face on the cover alone is obviously the strong statement here, secondary to which is the content of the magazine. Still, they don’t let the content slip, and while no, I don’t NECESSARILY care what records James Bay listens to (I’m older, so naturally have had the privilege of logging more reclusive hours in record stores and online searching for the perfect voices in place of my own), but neither do they stoop to stupid human stories like discussions of the Chia Pet, or inculcations of bizarre personae, anything like that… it’s like they just know they’re a well-oiled machine. Are they? Who cares, they’re the enemy!
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[1] Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher had been known in interviews to respond to the question of how he was feeling with the simple answer: “Godlike.”

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