If you wanted to know anything about pop music during the 1980’s then the best place to start was with Smash Hits! magazine. For most of the 1980’s and early 1990’s it was the first choice magazine for many teenagers, at it’s peak selling half a million copies every bi-weekly issue. A record breaking issue in 1989, featuring Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, sold more than a million copies!
The magazine covered whatever was hot in the world of pop, which could reasonably encompass anything that was lighting up the music charts at the time. It was slightly biased towards a female readership, being more likely to cover Rick Astley or some other Stock, Aitken and Waterman produced artist, which was fair enough since that was the music that was selling in the largest quantities at the time.
Inside it’s pages you would find a mix of interviews with different bands and singers, reviews of new albums and singles, competitions and most importantly the lyrics to the current hot songs. The latter is probably the reason why the magazine was so popular, as it allowed you to sing along with Top of the Pops and the radio.
Unsurprisingly a number of compilation albums were eventually released using the magazine name to pull in the crowds, but the best spin off was the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party. This was an annual event (Phillip Schofield was the host for many years) where songs, bands and artists would be honoured with awards that were voted for by the magazine readers. There were also a few not so relevant rewards such as “Most Very Horrible Thing”, which I think was normally won by spiders or something of that ilk. The party itself was usually a lavish affair with live acts breaking up the awards, being televised in its entirety, and was a fun Sunday afternoons viewing.
The first issue of Smash Hits appeared in 1978 and its popularity quickly soared as already mentioned above. Unfortunately the 1990’s saw its appeal start to diminish, but it managed to stick around until 2006 when the magazine was finally closed down. The name still lives on however in the form of a pop music TV channel.