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It's just pop music dude, get over it Part One. Never Forget. Never Forgive. I Am Just Following Orders.

Firstly, two ground rules. One - just because someone complains about the present doesn't mean they yearn for the past. I remember the past. It was shite. It is why I mistrust myths of progress. Two - I am just following orders. I was asked to write this. It's not good for me, and it's unhealthy, and provides no catharsis but I must undignify myself cos I can't stop. This is my process. Truth and shame. 
That said - it's some achievement for The NME to engineer an even shoddier demise than the Melody Maker's. Or should I say, spiritually akin demise - the same moneymen and chuckleheads are behind it all but seriously, looking at the latest issues I think I can say they're now, impossibly, even worse than we ever were, and Jesus, that's going some. The Melody Maker was fucking terrible when it died, went out not with a bang but a whimper of whacky (i.e fucking appalling) feature ideas, free stickers and sex-issues and panicky shit covers and general twattish underestimation of the readership. A Gorky-esque  tragi-comedy, but with alot less laughs. My particular low-point of pride was taking Ultrasound to Legoland, me in a permanent cramp of apology, they incredulous that this is what promo now meant. No hilarity did ensue. Anyhoo, one day our readership was down to barely twice as much as NME was in its final months so that was that. The guilty got jobs elsewhere, we got the heave-ho and a lasting sense of shame and anger. I remember going to the office one last time to pick up the mail and goggling at the upturned desks, the history in boxes soon to be destroyed, 70-odd years of work packed up and ready for obsolescence. I remember a final issue being passed to me by a tearful production editor. I remember reading it on the way to Waterloo. And dumping the fucking thing in the bin because it was such a tawdry stain on my memories.Throughout this process of demise and deterioration at the Maker, the predominant feel was that its editorial inability to stop underestimating its readership, and its increasingly desperate flailings to try and get itself out of the mire of not being the 'brand leader' meant it needed putting out of its misery, the bullet better delivered sooner rather than at some point in an unimaginably squalid future that surely beckoned. The NME dodged any such bullet but is now a whored-out corpse of a music-paper - the final fossilised conclusion to a process that's been going on since the birth of the internet. Seriously, pick up a copy, read it. It won't take you long to glaze over, see it purely as paper, not soft, not strong, not even highly absorbent.

 Fit for the litter tray if your cat's not fussy. Been seeing alot of music press in bins of late. Almost as if they're being dumped en masse. I ain't getting my boot in there, I like these boots. In no mood to kick a terminally-ill dog. 
From 'Actually Don’t Know WTF I’m Doing, Kulkarni' by  Eve Barlow 
Of course, for a bitter and twisted malcontent on one level it's absolutely fucking hilarious, delicious creamy Schadenfreude to sustain you as the cold nights draw in. On another level it's like watching something autopsy itself. I know I know - PROPER music writers don't talk in print about music writing. But what the fuck, the inkies are both dead now. This is no time for politesse. I've been dumbfounded by what people have said to me over recent years about it. I don't want my silence to allow lies to harden about myself although it might be too late on that score. What I will say, being as adult as I can be is that

No, YOU started it. 

Oh I realise the moment to 'care' about anything is long gone but I've been prodded, a wound reopened, a graze freshly touched by a sharp pang of memory. I've been asked, and that's the only reason why I'm doing this, to add an addenda to that Peace blogpost I wrote, about what kicked off afterwards and what's kicked off recently regarding the music press in the UK. This is a commission - otherwise I wouldn't be doing it cos my god it's unhealthy and against the advice of my doctors. Like a twat I'd written what I thought in that Peace blogpost. Professional suicide 'pparently. Just because someone has problems with the present doesn't mean they're yearning for the past (you could just as likely be agitating for a different future) but the current rictus of optimism insists so. Don't moan, especially not if you're old. If you're old, well, we pity you, we faintly wrinkle our nose at your non-death, but you better be happy and optimistic or you're harking back, you're decrepit. And truth be told, looking back over that Peace piece I wonder what the hell I was clinging on to any way. Music journalism? FFS why? A minority concern. Minority concerns might as well be dead now that economic heft is all that matters.
Like my detractors, I am just following orders.

Might as well be dead. I am well over 40 years old and do not work in the music business and do not have any friends with columns in national newspapers, in fact, sorry, I don't actually live in London at all. If you feel any of this precludes me from having an opinion, please stop reading now, you have calls to make and pop to patronise and cupcakes to bake and a future to win.

OK are those people gone now?
Y'know those people.
These people.
Who mis-read and caricature. WTF. It's been two years but I'm going back in. These fucking people. I read these old old old things and my anger is undimmed. How fucking DARE they.


These nice ostensibly liberal/left-wing people who think that because I'm 'old', and have a 'proper job and shit', I should just shut up. A pat on the head that drips condescencion, the way a facade of liberalism/leftism can slip so quickly when people get together for a good ol' bitch. I know this well, the words spoken behind someone's back, what the hell do I expect?

You know what I expect? Some fucking respect. I've changed lives. They have only 'manoeuvred'. This para ill-fits me but I'm doing it anyway. I loathe compliments, self-boosting, positivity, feeling good about yourself. But fucking hell - at times, to keep your sanity and perspective you need to remind yourself that you have done things you should be proud of. And that those tearing into you have insecurities just like you. Oh dear oh dear. I know what regrets might be sewn by an ill-judged word now all walls have ears but these people surely can't be proud of these exchanges. People who will presumably/probably publically love and defend the welfare state, a caring society, egalitarianism in all kinds of racial/sexual issues - but who when stung feel entitled to laugh at a fellow critic because said critic is poor and older than them and rather pathetically thinks he's allowed to still criticise. What a wonderful set of hypocrisies to juggle. Because if someone's angry with the media they can only be expressing their bitterness at being excluded, bitterness at writing themselves out of work.

Those people who know how to write tight good copy and get ahead, and are faintly embarassed that I still persist in thinking I can write too. Hahahahaha.Sad old fucker eh? No wonder he’s suicidal so often! I would be too if I was that much of a  loser with a 23 yr-old’s prose and a ‘proper job and shit’. If ONLY he'd get over the fact that he's not a music journalist anymore and stop moaning and remain silent. What a sad old cunt, having mouths to feed. What a sad old cunt getting angry about pop. He's not one of us anymore, he's one of them, the punters. It's undignified the way he throws on his old shtick again and again, throwing off his bib and spoon when he needs to accept that he is, like all our readers, there to be spoonfed by us, just like anyone with a proper job and shit. FAZZACKERLY! If you don't like something, just don't listen to it. SIMPLES! Hahahahaha.

(BTW - have no idea what kind of music critique I should be engaged in now I have a 'proper job': "this track will appeal to your stakeholders and can accompany a summer barbecue or a nervous breakdown in an Asda carpark with equal effectiveness" Those people who would balk at taking a selfie with someone homeless, but love ganging up and telling a pathetic old grandad to just fucking get over it.)

Those winners, whose own motives are so clear, they can't understand why anyone would be angry unless they were deservedly being ignored. Career is the only point, the only justification, and where you are on the arc, how 'influential' the algorithms and metrics decide you are, ultimately decides & determines not just your worth, but your right to speak. 

The 5p coin gag I dig. The rest of it - man these fuckers were stung. And so they lie - my Peace 'review' got alot of 'response' and I'd be daft to think it wouldn't. It wasn't just a record review. It was about music and criticism.  A minute before clicking 'publish' I panicked - that's usually a sign something will garner some reaction. I used to take that as a sure sign that I was on the right track- that if I found myself saying 'you can't say that' then it was a sure sign that I must say that. Increasingly those doubts become a little more paralysing as you grow older. What surprised me back in 2013, what struck me dumb, beyond the ageism and poor-baiting is the hint of a drawing in of a professional circle whose etiquette I've broken, even though I'm simply another powerless reader and a powerless writer. Right now I can't make a living solely from writing - to use that as a way of dismissing what I say, and insinuating that I can't turn in copy to word-counts and deadlines, is a low, low desperate move utterly at odds with the experiences of those I've worked for. Ask them. I'd suggest, perhaps, that you don't keep writing for print media for 20+ years if you miss deadlines and wordcounts.  The idea that cos I’ve got a ‘proper job’ I’m not allowed to critique culture anymore or that if I do I’m somehow raging against my unemployability & powerlessness I suspect only reveals what a lot of those journalists really think about their readership, and what they really think about themselves. It simply wouldn’t ever occur to me or anyone I know to criticise someone cos they’re poor, or take the piss out of someone cos they’re not getting as much work as you, or not listen to someone cos they’re too old. But then, the people I know don't need recourse to Nuremberg defences and Tory-lite sneering to justify themselves. I know the wrong people I guess. It's just pop music?  Get over it?  No Rob Fitzpatrick. It's my job not to get over it. If you work for fucking Spotify, yeah, I guess it is just pop music, more capital to wring dry, more workers to leave bereft, more shareholders to enrich. Prick. Almost as soon as that Peace blog was published loads of pro writers were telling me it was indigestible and needed an editor (true probly, d'you know any decent ones willing to work for fuck all?) and other variants of the tl:dr consensus. Noticeable that the fact I never set my blog's clock properly so it looked like I published these pieces in the wee smalls was picked up on also - as a way of adding to the 'mad old bastard' image, slinging my shit at people like an irate gorilla,  a way of yet again swerving what I actually said. I write at night, after work, if I can, but have to be up at 7 to get the kids ready for school. Can't imagine the kind of mindset you'd have to have to actually have a PROBLEM with a writer writing in the small hours, or allow such a 'fact' to enable a colossal snobbery towards said writer. Actually, I can imagine that kind of mindset. It's the mindset of winners
    Winners who think I'm some kind of sandwich-board toting lip-diddling loon touting this shit around as if it'd ever be in print - there's a REASON these things are blogposts. I would never dream of pitching articles like the Peace blog to anyone, or hoping for a commission or payment for them, let alone proffer them as some kind of writing model. 20 odd years of pitching - do these fucking twats think I'm simple? Both the Peace article and my piece about the NME are what they are – blogposts on my blog, my own black little garden. I feel I should be allowed to tend that blog as I see fit, ignoring some constraints, pruning according to other strictures I choose to impose myself. As repeatedly and joyfully confirmed by my detractors, I can't pay myself a wage so why should I count words or watch my lip? Not all of us are fully signed up to the future of content-provision. And if we don't 'provide content', because we WRITE, which is a process that involves the body and soul and not just the brain and the wallet, we must be laying down some kind of template or blueprint for others? Fuck's sake. I'll do my thang. You do yours. We'll see who gets remembered. None of this grief was surprising. I've heard similar over the years. Britpop's official curator and Wiggins/Weller twatalike John Harris fucking hates me. RESULT. John Mulvey, who I've never worked with but have been assured by people I love is a cast-iron cock-end also expressed his distaste. CASHBACK. All of this ensures that I'll doubtless never be welcome in the world of mainstream magazine publishing again. Persona non-grata/slightly embarrassing old blowhard, so be it. Eve Barlow, deputy-ed of the NME at the time wrote this piece in response to this 2012 piece and I commented underneath. While I thought we'd engaged in a rather polite exchange of views (I even, sensitively for me, deleted the names of those NME writers she was defending with her 'we got rent to pay' schtik) clearly the Peace review was enough to make me an enemy again. Never mentioned her name but under the comments under her own, now-deleted blogpost (the trifecta of entitled twattery that was her 'WTF is WOC - Weapons Of Colour?' post - handily archived here ) a chap called Neil pipes up in the comments and Barlow thinks its me. Paranoia, perhaps, either from her, or me - anyhoo, in order to confirm I hadn't dreamt this, went to her blog and found her latest post about the new NME freesheet. Check it out here.  

Now, personally, I am not some bellyacher about ‘passion’ missing in music writing at the moment – I just miss laffs and mind fuel – passion shouldn’t be used as a mask for inexactitude or wooliness. But Eve's post is heartfelt, and touching. I can understand that kind of upset because as a young writer I went through it as well when the mag I loved, the mag that raised me, turned to shit. And just as then, you felt daft for caring, so now I partly find myself agreeing with those sad to see the demise of the NME, yet partly think of alot of the moaners - YOU LAID THE GROUND FOR THIS. By reducing critique to cheerleading, to the lubrication of commerce. Something I said in that NME piece needs reiterating here . . .  

"Faced with new technologies that enable everyone to be a critic what do you do? Make criticism look like everything else, or emphasise its unique posture, its antique desire not just to reflect but to CHANGE the way pop is thought about?"

The thing I'm not allowed to say is that the lubrication of commerce's total take-over of the mentality of a critical music culture is enabled by the steady populating of that critical culture with the needy and mediocre, folk willing to sing from a hymnsheet, button it, blind themselves, people like me in the late 90s, nails in the wall, clinging to a dying thing to survive. The people in charge of the NME for the last two decades have surrendered critique to commerce entirely. Cuntbubbles like Conor McNicholas and current corporate shill Mike Williams are who I hold responsible but those publishing and managerial staff who were complicit also have fingers I wouldn't smell. Capital has entirely won and even saying so deems me an old crank. I find alot of things I say dying in my mouth these days. Because belief is out of style. When you talk about music, and media, 'belief' is an old-fashioned, out-of-touch word, a little embarassing in a world now controlled by SEO specialists and other assorted wankshafts. I don't like kicking a dying dog. I feel, looking at the recent 'sponsored-content' articles in the new NME freesheet, that the auld enemy is now just very very sad, a 'tribute magazine' to the idea of a print music magazine, trading purely on the name, sharing nothing else with its old self, the print equivalent of a Primark Motorhead t-shirt. It's difficult to feel inclined to administer a kicking to something so seeming self-destructive. But let's do so anyway. I mean ffs. Look at this. 

One of the most powerful voices in pop writing for nearly 70 years. Now, an irredeemable shitrag and only a fucking shillcunt like McNicholas/Williams would deny it. Do I blame the above mentioned chuckleheads for this? No, not entirely, much as you can't blame every Tory voter for our current hell, but perhaps if someone in power had fucking listened . . . ah well. How the fuck did we get here?  I'll tell you next week. 


  1. Irony - the music journalist saying he can't write things in public without people reading them.


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