NME decides Dizzee Rascal ‘greater’ than Beatles : Fergal Kinney disagrees

NME decides Dizzee Rascal ”Ëœgreater’ than Beatles

In this week’s NME, in a list designed to judge the 100 best recordings released during its own lifetime (1952-present), the NME asserted that Dizzee Rascal’s 2003 hit ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ is the ninth greatest recording of the last sixty years. Such lists can often be stultifyingly predictable and there’s merit to the madness of throwing a curveball in, but is ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ by Dizzee Rascal really a wise track to deem in the top ten songs recorded since the inception of rock’n’roll to now? Was ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ even one of the top ten tracks of its own year of release?


In citing ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ as the ninth greatest release since 1952, the NME are making what can be described in the mildest of terms as a massive statement, and are quite knowingly declaring ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ as greater than ANY offering from the Beatles, Elvis, Motown, Bob Dylan, and all of the usual suspects and whichever unusual suspects you want to add yourself. Of course, one cannot and should not downplay the significance of ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ on breaking the UK grime scene to a new audience and doing great things for British rap ”“ but to be seven rungs of the ladder above the list’s first whiff of the Sex Pistols? Even the choice of ”ËœLove Will Tear Us Apart’ as the best song of the last 60 years will certainly raise a few eyebrows, and the idea that ”ËœA Day in the Life’ is the greatest Beatles song and ”ËœWonderwall’ the greatest Oasis song is dubious.


Obviously there will be many who will celebrate the NME’s inclusion of ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ into the canon of all-time greats ”“ usually the stomping ground of ones Dylan’s, Beatles’, Stones’ etc ”“ but many have been quick to criticise the NME’s inclusion of ”ËœFix Up Look Sharp’ smacks of a misguided ”Ëœright-on’ culture often seen as typical of the NME.



Are these kind of lists ever a wise idea? The wholly subjective nature of music firstly makes such lists redundant, and secondly leaves the list in question either dull or completely disagreeable. Similarly, how does one define ”Ëœgreatness’ anyway, let alone rank those who espouse it? This writer would see it as some sort of vague term to describe the crossover between musical merit and sheer size and impact.


The full top 100 is published in this week’s NME but the top 20 is:
1. Joy Division ”“ ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

2. Pulp ”“ ‘Common People’
3. David Bowie ”“ ‘Heroes’
4. The Beach Boys ”“ ‘Good Vibratons’
5. New Order ”“ ‘Blue Monday’
6. The Stone Roses ”“ ‘She Bangs The Drums’
7. The Smiths ”“ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’
8. The Specials ”“ ‘Ghost Town’
9. Dizzee Rascal ”“ ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’
10. Oasis ”“ ‘Wonderwall’
11. The Rolling Stones ”“ ‘Sympathy For The Devil’
12. The Ronettes ”“ ‘Be My Baby’
13. Michael Jackson ”“ ‘Billie Jean’
14. Sex Pistols ”“ ‘God Save The Queen’
15. The Beatles ”“ ‘A Day In The Life’
16. The Cure ”“ ‘Boys Don’t Cry’
17. Bob Dylan ”“ ‘Like A Rolling Stone’
18. The Beach Boys ”“ ‘God Only Knows’
19. Madonna ”“ ‘Like A Prayer’
20. The Stone Roses ”“ ‘I Am The Resurrection’

What do you think? Are the NME spot on in their decision? Were they merely putting a cat amongst the pigeons and instigating a debate on the essence of ”Ëœgreatness’? Is the insinuation that anything by Dizzee Rascal is greater than any of Elvis’ seminal records foolish or even downright blasphemy? And if the Beatles were bigger than Jesus”¦.where does this leave Dizzee Rascal?



  1. It would seem to me that NME were instigating debate rather than being spot on in their claims. As you observe, greatness is subjective, and thanks for posing some great questions!

  2. Have you read the NME these days? While I think the list is fair enough (I mean, its not like its over populated by The Drums or The Vaccines is it), that paper is an absolute joke. The writing is beyond substandard and produced by a bunch of King’s Road wankers who don’t give a rat’s ass about music or music journalism. Considering its the only music paper left, you’d have thought they’d be more aware of their legacy.

    • Bought an NME the other week(Ramones cover)…the pits! More in common with gossip mags like Heat etc…more photos than writing. Oh,how I miss the days of 4 page in depth interviews with bands who had attitude.

  3. Without a doubt, there are some great classic tunes on that list, But, its a subject that is difficult to take on, “How longs a Piece of string?” …You will always open a can of worms with a list like that..For the past decade or so the NME as stumbled on stoney ground and struggles to make interesting press, I find sites like LTW etc much more interesting to read plus there is a lot more variety to choose from…..

  4. Token hip-hop track to try and look cool. Failed miserably. Eric B & Rakim ‘Follow The Leader, Public Enemy ‘Bring The Noise’ or NWA ‘Stright outta Compton’ were all sonic grenades that would grace any Top 20.

  5. Isn’t it a bit sad that when it’s taken years and years for the music press to finally shake up the tiresome official canon of white male “golden oldies” that always used to be trotted out for these lists, all that’s really changed is that the likes of Joy Division are the new Beatles-Stones-Floyd-etc with Dizzee or whoever the new (“look, a black person!”) Hendrix, and it would be considered similarly sacrilegious not to have them at or near the top. As if the old old guard have simply been displaced by a slightly younger old guard. And two Stone Roses songs in the top 20 is just ridiculous (I speak as someone who did like them back in the day and will be at Heaton Park etc etc).

    That said, I’ve never been particularly sure exactly what the point is of most list features anyway. An exception would be for the occasional “greatest albums you have never heard” kind of thing they sometimes do, because somewhere some fifteen-year-old will have discovered something that blew their mind, but listing a bunch of obvious stuff everyone has heard countless times is a pretty poor way to fill pages. They could have run decent features on five new bands in the same space, or indeed five old bands that aren’t already on the covers of the glossy retro music mags every other month. I’d feel pretty ripped off if I’d paid cash for a magazine and three pages of it was this toss.

  6. Cath, your statement is ridiculous. I assume you have never heard of Moon
    Black artists have been well respected for many years

  7. If anything it’s shocking how little black music there is here. It’s true that NME don’t put black artists on thier cover for fear of not selling as many copies as a white cover. You could call it capitalism, I’d call it racism. Dizzie is a contempory black artist with near universal appeal to all audiences. I think it is truely a great song (subjective though that may be) but seeing as it’s the sole hip hop track on a list that features two Stone Roses track (in time for thier reunion, so a popular topical choice) and two Beach Boys tracks is beyond belief.

    I think NME is making it clear that it really dosen’t care about music, may it exist on the pocket money of its audience of high schoolers and never again be a respected magazine.

  8. I think that if anyone on the nme staff is old enough to remember sixty years of music then they may have a valid point with the list, if it’s all young journalists who are always going to be influenced by what others say then the list is just another indication of their cool list. I like all the songs in the top 20 but my list would change daily according to who I thougth about what I was doing and so on. The thing it does is make us think about our favourite music and where it would stand, you know who would be a good indication of the top 60 songs of the nme’s lifetime – Lemmy, he was there when it started and he’ll probably still be here when it folds. That list I’d like to see, get on to it John

  9. I meet with some Children last year it was a media launch for a new artist with free food and booze. Some of these children told told me they worked for the NME? Surly not I thought the NME is the demon of child labour? No they told we a staff writers one was quite cocky and a cheeky little money he told me “Yeah we run the fucking show” He proceded to ask me what I thought of the prodigy? He also advised me to get stuck into the beer trolly as it would be rude not too! Why else would you be here?

  10. Whoever compiles these lists is merely playing devil’s advocate; just looking through this list makes me think did the hacks who compiled it look historically at these songs in the development of the music either sonically, technologically or in context to events in the world surrounding the song? Context is all. Anyhow, that is my opinion and therefore only an opinion…..


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