Originally known as the New Musical Express, the NME is one of Britain's best known and most divisive music magazines. Launched in 1952 as a newspaper, the NME picked up many fans by being one of the earliest proponents of bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. While slow to follow musical trends, the paper acted as a vanguard for punk and later socialist movements under the Margaret Thatcher government, and released several influential mixtapes for then-underground acts such as Scritti Politti.
In the 2000s, the magazine focused mostly on the indie and dance rock scenes. However, it became notorious for hyping nearly every band featured in its pages to near-messianic levels (especially British indie rock bands) whilst in comparison despising all "mainstream"/pop artists (with some "cool" exceptions, like Björk). Sometimes the bands that it hypes become stars (like Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs), other times they don't (anyone remember Shitdisco or Pull Tiger Tail?). It also had extremely close ties with youth television — most notably, The Mighty Boosh and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. And its own spinoff music TV channel.
From the 1980s onwards, the magazine was frequently accused of being narrow-minded, "rockist", and by implication racist in its concentration on white-made guitar music and relatively limited coverage of more multi-ethnic or black-dominated genres like hip-hop and electronic dance music. Multiple editors defended themselves by sadly pointing out the low sales figures of issues which had prominent coverage of hip-hop or dance artists.
The general decline in the print magazine market, and the decline in popularity of indie guitar music, its traditional main focus, led to the magazine becoming a freesheet in 2015, with a much broader music policy. However, print publication ceased in 2018. The nme.com website continues, but with much less cultural prestige and with increased coverage of film, TV and video games in addition to music.
The magazine provides examples of:
- Award Show: The NME Awards have been given out since 1953. Naturally, the categories focus on music, though they have given a out a few awards for other mediums. They also Troll those on their list of acceptable targets by giving them less than desirable awards like "Worst Band", "Worst Album" and "Villain of the Year".
- Double Standard: In 2008 the magazine nominated Amy Winehouse for villain of the year, whilst at exactly the same ceremony nominating Pete Doherty hero of the year, even though Doherty's band The Libertines' original run ended under circumstances more messy than any controversy Winehouse would run into.
- Fun with Acronyms: The fact that it's an acronym that sounds like the word "enemy" has been lampshaded often.
- Print Long-Runners: In publication since March 1952. Since 1996 it also has an online version.
- The Rival: Melody Maker, a fellow British based music magazine had been a rival with NME for decades. While NME was directed to towards a teen audience, Melody Maker tended to aim for slightly older readers. Melody Maker would end up merging into NME in 2000.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The NME's review style often uses the same colourful, pseudo-Dickensian style that Russell Brand would later be famous for.
- Shout-Out: The NME is often mentioned in songs (almost always as a Take That!), from the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" from Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols to Scroobius Pip's "Thou Shalt Always Kill".