Thursday, February 02, 2006

"She Gets All Her Facts From The Latest Smash Hits"

"She Gets All Her Facts From The Latest Smash Hits"

If I never expected to end up on the business end of fully blown fandom (lightweight stalking in other words) then this is not to say that there weren't signs of what would happen when I had the time and - almost - resources with which to follow my pop affections to their logical conclusions. And during those teenage years if we put to one side all the Take That posters that littered my room, Boyzone's entire back catalogue and forget the signed Ant and Dec CD (and everything else) the biggest sign was probably my unadulterated love of Smash Hits. Because my relationship with that magazine was love. It was a love for the music it featured in all its pop glory, but it was also a love for the magazine itself. When I was asked at 15 what I wanted to do when I grew up there was one simple answer - be Editor of Smash Hits.

I got my first issue somewhere around the time of Jason and Kylie's prominence, carried on through the momentous years when pop music was in such a state of disrepair that SH famously had to put Sonic the Hedgehog on its cover, passed through Take That and pop's resurgence to be greeted by Britpop and those Blur and Oasis covers. Then came more pop, more boy bands, Mark Frith's departure as Editor, The Spice Girls, new glossy pages and finally when I was about 17 and had to concede that I was no longer reading it, just buying the magazine for nostalgic reasons, came the inevitable parting of the ways. But for five or six years in the middle of that Smash Hits was my magazine, I defined myself a little by it. It made me listen to music, it made me want to write.

Given its current state which - last time I read it - seemed to have been watered down to such an extent that I couldn't reconcile it with the magazine I'd enjoyed it might be a surprise that SH made me want to write. But it did. Because when it had thin pages and a proper Editor at its helm, it was witty and irreverant and intelligent. Yes they wrote on pop, printed songwords, asked people what they would be if they were a type of biscuit but they did so in a knowing - but wonderfully affectionate - way. To this day one of my favourite articles - and it was an article not a interview - was when they sent a writer who didn't like boy band pop out to spend a week in Australia with Boyzone. It was a culture clash that was wonderful in its ridiculousness, a piece of writing that didn't play to the lowest common denominator or pretend that all the bands they featured were innately wonderful. At its best SH suggested that, hey, people with an IQ of more than 90 might like pop music. And even if you liked pop, you might not like it all.

The last couple of times that I bought SH was because Griffin was in it and if I was proud that he'd made it into one of the markers of my childhood then I was also a little dissapointed at the interviews it contained. Because there was little residue of anything ironic, anything even affectionate. It seemed no different to any other magazine.

Now the spot that SH once filled in my life has been replaced by Heat [how many Heat addicts were former SH readers, I wonder] and, to a lesser extent, Pop Justice. But I was still saddened this morning to discover that SH is soon to be no more. And because of the affection which I hold it in, for the years of rushing out to buy it, of watching Mark Owen win every award possible at the SH Awards screened on BBC1, of pulling out those song words and posters, of saving - to this very day - those large cardboard 'Cult of Ant and Dec' masks that came free with one issue it seems right that I should dock my hat to its passing. Because it is an icon. And on the 13th, when its final issue comes out, I will once again make the pilgrimage to the newsagents.

And for old time's sake, if I were a biscuit I would be a chocolate digestive*.

*Thank you to Nik for providing me with the answer ("you have a dark side!") after much soul searching.

6 comments:

cat said...

Smash Hits was part of my life from the late 80's, it cost 47p then. front cover stars were Bros, Yazz, Brother Beyond, the SAW stable and, my own boyband obsession, NKOTB. and if anyone doesn't know what NKOTB stands for then I'm really not sure if I can speak to you.

I never binned them either, just pulled out the posters and stashed the mags in the drawer under my bed, until the weight of them broke the drawer. years later, when I bought a house and moved out, my mum finally forced me to consign them to the wheelie bin, but I spent an afternoon sat on the floor of my childhood bedroom rereading them and laughing out loud.

did you ever manage to complete the sticker album? I once swapped three quarters of a big Jason Donovan for one small Stefan Dennis, but that's just the kind of girl I was, and still am I guess...

Nik said...

I know what it stands for so you can continue talking to me, yay. I think all my old magazines are still confined to under my bed, which my mum keeps on at me to tidy.

Val said...

I know what it stands for too, but was more of a Wham girl myself - even though in my 20's I remember buying the Live Aid issue - given my tendancy for hoarding stuff, it could well still be in a cupboard somewhere.

gayle said...

Blimey Val, dig it out and get it on eBay! I'm thinking of digging out all my A-Ha stuff to sell, it's going for a bomb at the moment thanks to their revival.
Sorry, gone off-topic there, back to Smash Hits...sob. Didn't it used to be out once a fortnight? I used to love the song words section.

bex said...

in the essence of smash hits .. you've got it... yep that'll be the right stuff

The right stuff
The right stuff
First time was a great time
Second time was a blast
Third time I fell in love
Now I hope it lasts
I can see it in your walk
Tell ’em when you talk
See it in everything you do
Even in your thoughts

You got the right stuff, baby
Love the way you turn me on
You got the right stuff, baby
You’re the reason why I sing this song
All that I needed was you
Oh girl, you’re so right
Said all that I wanted was you
You made all my dreams come true

Chorus:
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
The right stuff
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
The right stuff

Your first kiss was a sweet kiss
Second kiss had a twist
Third and your fourth kiss
I don’t want to miss
I can see it in your walk
Tell ’em when you talk
See it in everything you do
Even in your thoughts

You got the right stuff, baby
Love the way you turn me on
You got the right stuff, baby
You’re the reason why I sing this song
All that I needed was you
Oh girl, you’re so right
Said all that I wanted was you
You made all.... every one of my dreams come true


The right stuff, girl, yeah baby, yeah
You know you got the right stuff
And girl, yeah, baby
You know, you know you got it, girl

In my life, you’re so right
You made all.... you know what you did

with the small exception that smash hits never really turned me on that much, despite my unadulterated love.

cat said...

hmmmm, Jordan Knight, prrrrrrrrrrrr