When the idea was first floated of an issue celebrating the most influential acts in music today, one question was paramount: where do you put The Beatles? Obviously modern music wouldn’t exist in its current form without them, virtually every facet of NME’s world can be traced back to ‘The White Album’, they’re clearly the most influential act in rock history. End of argument, right?
But how many bands today turn up to a rehearsal room plastered with posters of Ringo, neck a load of brown acid and plug in planning to write a 21st Century ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’? Far fewer, we reasoned, than want to write their own ‘Seven Nation Army’ or ‘Crystalised’. Ditto Dylan, The Stones and The Who, et al. These are acts whose influence is written in stone, the very bedrock of the form, but who aren’t necessarily directly informing the music being made today any more than Chaucer is influencing Buzzfeed. Influence is a fluid concept, so rather than simply tipping our caps to the legends (again), we set out to quantify which are the biggest influences on today’s music scene.
There was a certain amount of science to it. An entire week of work experience students left the office thinking that cutting-edge music journalism in 2014 mostly involves calculating which bands have been mentioned most in NME in the past two years, then hunting out references to the bands that influenced those acts online and finally adding up the number of times each influence came up. This gave us a rough list which our editorial team – heads swimming with all of the bands that Wolf Alice (or whoever) have raved on about over 4am ciders – then took to the pub, tore into shreds, fought and shouted about and finally reconstructed in the rundown of 100 you see in the mag today. The Beatles didn’t make it. Sorry.