Rolling Stone is still the best rock n’ roll magazine in the world. They just celebrated their 1,000th issue and they show no signs of slowing up. In fact, they only seem to get better. Rolling Stone is great because they are the perfect blend of mainstream and underground. They’ve morphed into a completely modern version of themselves without sacrificing their political edge, their semi-allegiance to whatever’s popular and their keen eye for the next big thing.
They’ve seen a million other music publications come and go as they’re own circulation has grown. I’ve been a subscriber since high school and I can say without a doubt that Rolling Stone is the only magazine that I have read front to back for the better part of the last decade (and I read a lot of magazines).
One of the best parts (in my opinion) of Rolling Stone is their hard-hitting political coverage. Admittedly, their writers lean to the left, but their content is so strong that I often forget what “side” they may or may not me “advertising”. They have been one of the few mainstream publications to harshly criticize the Bush administration (as is evident from their recent cover story on Mr. Bush- “The Worst President in History”).
One of their greatest voices is the scathing Matt Taibbi. A cross between an intelligent everyman and a pissed off postal worker, Taibbi comes through with his column “Road Rage”- a semi regular piece which follows in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson. Taibbi is often thrown into situations like some over (or under) publicized court case, a neglected natural disaster or a Republican fundraiser. His insights are often as funny as they are frightening.
Although Rolling Stone can be seen as an edgy political magazine, they have managed to keep one foot firmly planted in what’s popular at all times. So while Rolling Stone’s coverage of the new Britney Spears comeback (I for one, am waiting patiently) may seem slanted and sarcastic, it’s still coverage; and, as they say, any publicity’s good publicity. Actually, this is perhaps the best part of Rolling Stone. I can read about a scandal in Iraq while staying on top of the new Justin Timberlake album (see if Spin magazine can do that).
And don’t get me wrong, I like Spin. Spin has two of the best rock n’ roll voices in Dave Eggers and Chuck Klosterman, but as whole they lack the political coverage and mainstream appeal that makes Rolling Stone what it is. Spin seems too caught up in A) telling me what the Strokes are doing and B) trying to persuade me to buy some Strokes-rip off band. Plus, they’re only a monthly mag; Rolling Stone is bi-monthly, motherfuckers.
Also, the number of new bands I discover from reading Rolling Stone consistently surprises me. In David Fricke’s section “Fricke’s Picks”(formerly “Out There”- a much cooler name), I either have my musical tastes broadened or substantiated. Rolling Stone is a win-win kind of magazine.
I keep renewing my subscription to Rolling Stone, and even though they don’t give me presents like Sports Illustrated, I don’t think I’ll stop anytime soon.