Has Q magazine become the new Smash Hits?

ON THE B-SIDE: THE cover of next month’s Q magazine features a pop group, the members of which are all in their 30s. They’re locked in horseplay and look ready to lay bare their past as they talk up their new album.

But it’s not Coldplay, Kasabian or Kings of Leon (again – thankfully), the traditional Q favourites. It’s Take That. Yep, Take That. Now men but forever a boy band. Just to emphasise that point, the cover photo – taken by the rock legend Bryan Adams – captures them in what my school playground knew as a “bundle”.

This is the same magazine that, in the past 12 months or so, has put Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Cheryl Cole on its cover. It begs the question: Has Q become the new Smash Hits (the pop ‘bible’ that folded in 2006 amid falling sales)?

Pop stars generate just as lively copy as rock icons do, of course. It’s just the music: the sort of sounds that Q has studiously ignored over the years. Take That have survived where other boy bands withered and died due to personality and a clutch of good pop songs. While theirs is a good story, is Q forgetting that about 80% of Take That’s output is risible? The Robbie Williams-Gary Barlow single should hammer that point home.

I picked up some copies of Q from the early 90s last year while researching an interview. Back then it was all Eric Clapton, Sting and Bob Geldof (and U2, of course, who still reign surpreme in Q quarters). It strikes me that while Clapton et al have “moved upstairs” to Classic Rock and Mojo, Q is going through its adolescent pop phase.


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I can’t imagine Take That’s early releases – at about this time – got any sort of mention at all in Q. The band were busy rolling around in jelly, next-to-naked (the Do What You Like video, ladies).

Q is still a fine magazine, I should say. I still read it. It has pulled itself out of a malaise a couple of years ago when every issue seemed to bring a new, pointless “list” cover feature. It covered what would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon with due reverence.

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But is it casting its musical net too wide? Dare I say, dumbing itself down?

I can’t be the only one who has noticed.

Deep in the “Lennon” edition, U2’s Bono is asked to sum up the Beatles legend in a sentence. “Ridiculous question! Q should know better,” he answered. I’m starting to think that too, but it’s nothing to do with John Lennon.

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