Pop Life: Inside Smash Hits Australia 1984-2007 by Marc Andrews, Claire Issac & David Nichols

A quick rundown… The inside story of the hit magazine dealing with all things pop and asking the big questions: have you ever grown cress in a gum boot?

Strengths: Fun to look back at the pop bands of the 1980s through to a few years ago and to read all the inside goss.

Weaknesses: Apparently the print version has a very cool colour section just like the magazine. The ebook doesn’t L

Why I read it: I was a TV Hits purchaser, but I occasionally bought Smash Hits because TV Hits was rubbish at songwords and music.

Pages: 165 (ebook)

Published: 2011

Publisher: Affirm Press

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

If you liked this, try: reading the biographies of your favourite pop stars from that era, like Jason or Dannii

When this book was released, I was immediately interested. After reading the autobiographies of some of my favourite pop stars of the 80s (Jason Donovan and Dannii Minogue), I wanted to find out more about what was happening in pop when I was too young and innocent to guess. One problem though: I hardly ever read Smash Hits as a magazine. I bought its rival, TV Hits because I was a firm believer in Home and Away. I read my friend’s copy instead.

No matter. I still got the in jokes and memories of this magazine as well as knowing the majority of the pop groups (I was too young for some of them). The book is written in the same easy style that the magazine was – but mainly without the comments of the ominous ‘Ed’. Three of its former writers detail the uprising and eventually downfall of Australia’s pop magazine. I didn’t realise that the Australian version was an offshoot of the UK one, nor did I know that Smash Hits was still in publication when Take That became big. (I was an uber-cool JJJ listener by then). The book also captures the vocabulary unique to magazines of this era, ‘cor’, ‘blimey’ and other oldish-English words.

Another thing that the book reveals is the change from smaller publishers to bigger corporations and how things are controlled much more tightly these days. One of the writers was the guardian for a lucky fan meeting pop stars (definitely wouldn’t happen today!) and the way that the magazine started very small, continued with a fairly small staff and then was dropped as music tastes changes. The 2000’s also brought with it a lot of change – song lyrics on the internet (I used to cut out and collect these from magazines – I didn’t know it was the writers listening and writing down the lyrics), Napster and other file-sharing programmes, iPods and more diversity in music tastes. Poor ol’ Smash Hits couldn’t keep up.

Still, it seems like it was mainly a lot of fun while it lasted. Marc, David and Claire sound like they had some great times (swimming with Robbie! Talking to INXS!) It’s a pity there’s not another magazine to fill what was a staple for my friends and I.

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