Thursday, November 13, 2008

The new fantastic Q

The legendary music monthly joins the fight against dumbing down with an improved new format

We must admit Q was starting to get on our nerves. Like most publications in Britain, the most prestigious music magazine too was quickly turning into an overpriced cross between Heat and a shopping list. The articles were getting shorter, the photos bigger, and their "best of" lists too many to mention. Also, NME-style, the topics discussed in interviews amounted to: a) drug addiction b) getting pissed. Nowt else.

However, praise when it's due. Last month, Q re-invented itself with a new format which is not just new fonts and the makeover undergone by every magazine every so often. This time, they've made a conscious effort to reverse the general dumbing down trend and the galloping infantilisation of society.

Not only does it look great, but for the first time in god-knows-how-long, a magazine makes the assumption that people may have an attention span longer than that of a goldfish. They may not all suffer from ADHD. They may wish to read something longer than a tagline. They may like a page that stimulates thought and debate. And anyway, for trash and big photos of Paris Hilton your newsagents shelves will leave you spoilt for choice.

The new Q features more meaningful, longer articles and better interviews. The review section has been completely revamped and a hefty portion at the back has been allocated to cinema, including interviews with legends such as Oliver Stone or Martin Scorsese. "Meet the audience" has also returned. After years without it, the reader can also find out about what type of person went to see a certain band and what they made of it.

Most amazingly, Q has now the equivalent of 'columnists'. Under the heading 'Insight', scattered throughout the magazine are entire pages written by guest writers such as David Quantick, John Harris or Billy Bragg tackling thought-provoking subjects or debating issues such as 'the meaninglessness of awards', 'rock and the credit crunch' or 'guitars and the PSP generation'. In November there were even four pages about a politician. Sure, it was Barack Obama, but in no way that would have happened any time in recent years.

Normally Q would make an embarrassingly big deal out of their yearly award ceremony. Out of 12 issues each year, at least three (before, during and after) were a feast of self-celebration and back-patting. Not this time. Of course the December issue features a large report of what went on at this year's awards, but for the first time it's done with taste. You don't get the impression the world actually stopped while Chris Martin was handed over a statue with the letter 'Q' etched on it.

Music can stimulate brain cells. This is the concept the new Q is centred around. We couldn't agree more.


Anonymous said...

I agree, the new Q looks good!

pete tong said...

why don't they leave it alone. On avergae every six months Q comes up with a 'new improved format'. Why?