Good old Q magazine, without you we may have never have witnessed Jonny Borrell’s saucer eyes bulging out from the front cover turning every newsstand into a fish mongers.
Whereas Mojo and Uncut favour the safely dead, Q was the place for lads that grew tired with the NME and their grime obsession. A place where they could read about ‘real music’, the last bastion of the Kasabian fan, a refuge for those interested in a mumble-fest interview with Kings of Leon or another article about how really-really nice Dave Grohl is. It’s for the fifty-quid bloke who still buys CDs, a medium size bar of Whole Nut and the latest Top Gear DVD for weekend consumption.
Perhaps sensing that the tired format needed a bit of direction and focus Q tried to steer their way out of the indie landfill, adding some sparkle in amongst the dirge by employing John Niven to vent his bilious spleen in free prose pieces and having the mighty Sylvia Patterson work her unique magic in a column about her past pop experiences. Alas, they disappeared just as fast as they arrived, swallowed up by the dredge of the average. Q seemed back to its white bread worst.
Thankfully, change is now upon us. Having deposited with former editor Paul Rees, Q has had a much needed make over under ex-Select boy Andrew Harrison. Yes, it still has the nerd boy articles of old, this month featuring a silly ‘catch all’ best of ‘hip hop and dance music’ (because y’know it’s easy to just lump ‘em all together not like rock music eh?) and a sycophantic interview with the Mod Grandad himself that almost amounted to the journalist cooing ‘Oh Mr. Weller how do you make your hair so shiny?’ but there are also clues that its gotten a bit good.
Clue 1: It’s got a Caitlin Moran interview in it
This is interesting for a number of reasons, mainly that the old Q didn’t really like to talk to the wimmin unless they were cute and folksy or pop stars willing to show a bit of skin. It also manages to expunge the memories of that truly appalling Kasabian cover that featured two naked models (in place of the other less photogenic/memorable band mates one would assume) draped over Serge n’ Tom, a front cover that Ms. Moran had been very vocal in her disgust at on Twitter. Now she’s treating the very same magazine to anecdotes about vaginas, which has to be a good thing.
Clue 2: Pop is not a dirty word
Dorian Lynskey writes about Madonna’s back catalogue. He writes about her in a way that is usually reserved for the canon of crankies (Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen) sharp, analytical and insightful. There’s a page long review of the fantastic Disco Discharge compilations rather than a postage stamp sized one. There’s a deconstruction of the pop heads behind Rihanna’s Umbrella. The Ed outlines his favourite/most important Pet Shop Boys songs. Ex-Smash Hitter Sylvia makes Goyte sound interesting. There’s a five star review of the millionth re-issue of Dare by the Human League. The review of MDNA doesn’t mention age or hot pants once. That’s right, pop music being taken SERIOUSLY in Q…AT LAST.
Clue 3: It’s funny
It’s managed to re-ignite its knockabout, breezy sensibilities with an illustrated piece on music tribes, the kind of silly bit of fluff Select was bursting full of. A bright slice of nonsense to make that train journey go a little quicker, causing a bout of head nodding recognition along the way. It also features a ridiculous Q & A with Lionel Richie where he talks about how shit the head sculpture in the Hello video was, and how he can only write songs when he’s wearing a hat, try and find that line of questioning in Mojo eh?
Clue 4: It’s a bit modern
Q was the place where unlike its retro magazine cousins you didn’t have to be dead to be important but you did have to be male, white and on a major label. They specialised in the cosy tete a tete with their favourite superstars, greasing the promotional wheel with gusto. Edgy was not in Q’s vocabulary. Apart from the old style Weller interview, there is hope that things have begun to change, kicking off with the scabrous, intense interview with Tyler the Creator and the rest of the Odd Future bunch, dragging them kicking and screaming out of the youthful world of the internets into your Uncle’s living room so they can’t be ignored.
With its new fun injection, pop-style reinvention and move away from the man-centric music n’ boobs tone Q may no longer be a shameful impulse buy but one of the only music monthlies worth spending your hard earned cash on….unless there’s a Razorlight reunion obviously.