Whatever happened to Rolling Stone?

The magazine, not the band. I know what happened to the band: they got old (really old) died then mummified themselves so that they could continue performing.

But the magazine?! Rolling Stone used to be a respectable magazine, essential reading for aspiring musicians and writers, and for anyone with even a passing interest in music. The monthly publication served as a backdrop for Cameron Crowe's stellar Almost Famous in 2000. There was an element of naivete and wonder that kept a mysterious edge to the rock and roll lifestyle. Most importantly, it focused on the music. You could tell that the people who wrote the articles were fans themselves.

Those days no longer exist. Gone is the mystery as Rolling Stone now takes a tabloid approach to the lives of its subjects. There is less focus on music and more on fads with more emphasis on what's cool for the moment, catering to the teeming masses. The pages are filled with sexual sleaze and political slant. The cover photo is less provocative with musical innovators and more so with shock value. From the cover to the feature story, phenomenal musicians and movie stars are transformed into sex objects as how they look becomes more important than what they've accomplished.

Their album and movie reviews are awful. The current writers have no interest in movies or music and it shows in the way that they give every new movie and new record a horrible review. (Unless of course the subject of review is also their cover story, in which case they have to play nice) The people who review horror movies prefer romantic comedies and those that review romantic comedies prefer non-stop action flicks. The same in music. The writer who most hates rap music is the one who write reviews for rap albums. And the country albums are given to those that can't stand country music. You will never get an accurate description of anything new because there is no objectivity, the cardinal sin of media.

And worst of all, politics dominate every issue. Small human interest stories have been replaced with pages and pages of liberal propaganda, enough to make Michael Moore seem conservative by comparison.

Rolling Stone is not the leading music magazine it once was. It is now a publication of what's wrong with the world today, peppered with eye candy. I just can't take it any more. It's been over three years since I've bought an issue. Periodically I'll thumb through an issue at a newsstand to see if there's been any improvement, part of me hoping there is. I want the old Rolling Stone back, but I fear it is gone for good.

Now I turn to Spin, Rolling Stone's irreverent little brother, for my reading enjoyment. Spin throws a wrench into to system by shunning the spoiled starlets that constantly grace the cover of that other magazine. They poke fun at themselves and pop culture and give attention to artists, musicians, books, and movies that would otherwise go unnoticed. Their editors care about music, and that in itself is refreshing.

The latest cover of Spin boasted the 100 greatest albums of the last 20 years with Dr. Dre, Bono, and Beck standing side by side, dressed in black. I couldn't resist picking it up. Being in my mid 20's, this is the music that I grew up with and the music that helped define my generation.

I have an opinion as well. So, over the next couple of weeks I will be picking apart Spin's choices for the top 100. I will be doing one of two things, validating those choices or ripping them to shreds. Like I said, I have an opinion, this is MY music.

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