Tomorrow is the last day the NME will be trying to charge people money for their services; to mark the occasion they are inviting users to add page impressions wildly ("click through 50 best covers to vote for the best").
They've found space for Simon Cowell's 2009 cover. That's the standard we're going with.
Personally, although I always think the much-hated Youth Suicide issue was the best NME cover ever, and I have a soft spot for the Motorcycle Boy one which was a by-product of corporate meltdowns, I think the occasion should be marked with this one:
Not just the WK cover choice - or that they added a second cover because they believed him to be so brilliant. But that does tell its own story - a magazine which would have once seen through his schtick desperately trying to laugh along, hoping it would catch up with the joke.
It's the rest of the stuff on the cover - you could argue what you're looking at it is an eclectic title offering a range of delights. But it's not, is it? It's a rudderless ship throwing not-very-interesting bits of every flavour in the hope something will catch. Travis. Oasis. ODB well past his best.
It wasn't a question of who is this title for, but why is this title here? And over the subsequent 14 years, there have been fluctuations in quality - the magazine got a lot better, and more interesting, and then less so, and then more so again. But that cover - Andrew WK, so good that he needed two covers that week; so poor he never got near the cover again - feels like the point where the paper moved from making the weather, to sheltering from it.