Like Punk Never Happend: Smash Hits! Online! 3 decades later!
June 14, 2011 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Smash Hits! was a UK music magazine, first published at the end of 1978. It charted the progress of pop styles, including the rise of 2-Tone, and included a number of freebie discs, first as flexi discs, and later on CDs. The magazine faltered in the 1990s, and closed shop in 2006. Since then there have been a few one-off "special editions," first a 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson, and then a Lady Gaga special in 2010. 30 years after the first issue went on sale, a fan posted the first issue online. So far, new scans have been posted fort-nightly, following the original release schedule. 73 issues are online to date, each three decades after they first were sold. (via MetaChat)
posted by filthy light thief (20 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Oh how I loved it. I remember that when Heat first appeared it had some of the same spirit of Smash Hits. It was light, witty, kind, original.

Heat was then eviscerated and became that strange combination of vacuousness and viciousness that seems to be the hallmark of all modern gossip mags. The journey from Smash Hits to Heat has made me despair of our future more than any other cultural development.

I still remember seeing the 'like punk never happened' caption next to a picture of John Taylor. I also remember the review of the Pet Shop Boys' 'West End Girls', saying something like 'it's actually not shit!' (Neil Tennant wrote for SH at the time).
posted by Summer at 8:02 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I hated Smash Hits back in the day but still ended up picking up more issues than I'd like to admit because they covered many of my favorite bands. Apparently I wasn't getting enough Echo & the Bunnymen and Gary Numan info from NME, Melody maker, and Trouser Press. I've been surprised at how enjoyable it's been to give these another look 30 years later.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2011

I went on an overnight field trip when I was about ten and my mom bought me a stack of magazines for the bus ride--Bop and Tiger Beat and the like, but also a mysterious magazine full of men in eyeliner called Smash Hits. It absolutely changed my life. I read it until it fell apart, trying to work out who these people were (aside from Duran Duran and Howard Jones, with whom I was familiar) and trying to imagine the music that went along with the lyrics printed in the issue. I had, at the time, no resources to explore further. I just had this magazine to study, and patience and the hope of finding out more, some day.

When I was twelve a left-of-the-dial radio station debuted in my hometown and I was off and running.
posted by padraigin at 8:07 AM on June 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

My sister used to read Smash Hits but I never really did and can't really remember anything specific about it. For some reason I have never forgotten this slightly rubbish cartoon that was in one the Smash Hits Yearbooks that we had in the 80s, though.
posted by dng at 8:09 AM on June 14, 2011

Awesome. Must dig out my flourescent green socks.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:09 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some of the ads are fantastic! It was so easy to be a punk thanks to the ability to mailorder punky Ts and bondage socks (and of course "bumflaps with adjustable fitting").
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2011

The comparatively short-lived American version, Star Hits, was easily the highlight of seventh through ninth grade for me. The fact that you could buy it in my semi-rural Colorado hometown still seems somewhat amazing to me. The snarkiness of the writing seemed so different from the earnestness of other teen media, and probably helped lead me down the pointed path to smartassedness that I still suffer from today. However, all the men with eyeliner depicted herein (and the fact that I mainly wanted to dress like them, rather than date them) made my parents and teachers extremely, extremely nervous.
posted by heurtebise at 8:32 AM on June 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Dear Black Type...   (in white on the blue here)

Why did you never ever publish my letters ?

Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot's wobbly sideboard.
posted by Webbster at 9:10 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to by Star Hits regularly. I might even still have some files of old clippings from it somewhere. At one point in high school my closet doors where a massive collage of photos and lyrics cut from Star Hits issues.
posted by dnash at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh no, it'll be years before he gets to 1984 when I started perusing Smash Hits... How cruel to make me wait!
posted by Dragonness at 10:35 AM on June 14, 2011

Oh man, Star Hits. Basically the internet of my adolescent years (at least until 120 Minutes started airing). I am 90% certain that Neil Tenant was on the masthead as an editor of Star Hits (possibly because of recycled content from Smash) because I recognized his name when PSB hit, but I can't find any proof of that now and my mom threw away my giant box of heavily cannibalized issues some years ago.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:55 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Lyn Never: ... heavily cannibalized issues ...

This makes me think of sentient magazines that are crafted like ransom notes.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2011

Definitely a key component of my adolescence. I mean, sure Kerrang! and the others had their place, but having the stars review the week's releases was gold and I am sure that no other magazine asked the truly important questions, such as "What's in your fridge?" and "Have you ever seen a ghost?" or "What would you name the Smash Hits fruit bat?"

(Kate Bush gave the best answer to the last one: "Squidge. Because that's what goes into them and that's what comes out")
posted by geckoinpdx at 12:26 PM on June 14, 2011

I was always an NME man myself, but wasn't it Smash Hits that first came up with The Spice Girls' nicknames? Full marks for cheeky wit and a sense of fun there, I think.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2011

@Lyn Never - yes, Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys started as a writer/editor for Smash Hits.
posted by dnash at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2011

I was always an NME man myself, but wasn't it Smash Hits that first came up with The Spice Girls' nicknames? Full marks for cheeky wit and a sense of fun there, I think.

I think that was the Top of the Pops magazine.
posted by dng at 3:34 PM on June 14, 2011

I firmly believe that you can draw a direct line from the demise of Smash Hits! magazine in 2006 to Broken Britain in 2011.

There's no Top of the Pops any more either.

Won't someone think of the children?!
posted by Helga-woo at 4:18 PM on June 14, 2011

Oh, Smash Hits! My Nana used to have an order in for me at her paper shop so that in my boarding school in the back of beyond I was the only one who knew all the words to all the SAW songs, but also to songs by the Cure. I could have told you that Paul Weller once said that he'd vote Tory but no one else I'd ever heard of would have done, and that 'para bailar la bamba' definitely translated as 'to dance the goat' or maybe it didn't. I think that '85-88/9 would have been the years I was reading it so there's some way to go before the issues I'd remember as well.

Why did all the music magazines I loved leave me here alone with Q and The Word?
posted by calico at 4:32 PM on June 14, 2011

I still have many a Smash Hits clipping in my creepily-obsessive (hey, I was in middle school, what did you expect?) Depeche Mode scrapbook! It was so much better than the US music mags, it was more or less the only one I read except for super-bonus-weeks where my dad would snag me NME from the import record store across town!
posted by at 8:01 AM on June 15, 2011

I have contacted the curator, Brian McCloskey, and with his assistance I have now mirrored the collection at
posted by jscott at 2:30 PM on June 22, 2011

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