America-centric thinking is far too easy a habit for us stateside music fans to adopt, but the influence of our brothers across the Atlantic in the great United Kingdom should not be overlooked. Join us as we dig into the best that Britain has to offer.
Does anyone really care who wins at this month’s NME Awards bash in London? Little more than an annual opportunity for the flailing print magazine to hype the bands it hopes will sell copies, it’s long lost the aura of importance it once had. In the era of blogosphere-fueled success stories, the very notion of an awards ceremony feels painfully dated. We already know who everyone rates. We read the blogs, subscribe to the feeds, chat on Twitter and hook up on Facebook. By the time the “Best New Band” are drunkenly clutching their statuette we’ll have already moved on to the next.
So what about this year’s candidates? In the aforementioned “Best New Band” category, The Big Pink, Bombay Bicycle Club, Mumford & Sons, The xx and La Roux feel like they’ve been around for ages. In the case of The Big Pink and Bombay Bicycle Club, it’s hard to appreciate that their debut albums are only a matter of months old, such has been the extent of online hype surrounding them. Between the two of them, The xx and La Roux have dominated the last year in British music, hitting heights far beyond anything that could have been achieved before the advent of the internet.
The speed with which blogs can build bands is staggering. Newcomers Frankie & The Heartstrings and The Chapman Family already look to be great bets for next year’s award and neither have anything resembling a full-length available yet. The NME needs to move with the times or risk being superseded by the digital hype machine that now dominates the international music industry. The sole survivor from the days when the only sources young British music fans (myself included) could rely on for news of the hippest new music were the Wednesday weeklies, the NME is very much a relic of a simpler age.
Diversifying through its television, radio and internet outlets, the NME is desperately trying to keep up with the likes of Drowned In Sound, Pitchfork and Stereogum. But how long can its awards ceremony really survive as a worthwhile barometer of UK music trends? When one of the outfits nominated for “Best British Band,” Oasis, has been defunct for the better part of the last six months, is any of it even relevant at all?
Photo modified under a Creative Commons license. Original by wonker.