I chose Nylon for today's column simply because it looked like the loneliest, saddest magazine on the rack at Barnes & Noble. The stack of available copies towered over those of surrounding publications, rendering Nylon the glossily published equivalent of Little Orphan Annie. I'm nothing if not humane.

Turns out that there's a pretty good reason for this: The June/July music issue of Nylon tries so hard to link the worlds of high tunes and low style that it's basically unreadable. By focusing its coverage on fetching newbies like Be Your Own Pet, the Like, and the Tints, the mag sends the message that a band is only as good as its duds and/or bangs. The cover image - of Kelly Osbourne, who hits the celebrity trifecta of being simultaneously talentless, unattractive, and annoying - doesn't help matters much.

Silliness abounds, whether in the "bottoms up" nod to pre- and post-decadence salves like a wasabi hangover bath treatment or in the pithy blurb on ways to honor David Bowie's style (which, predictably, serves as an excuse to run another shot of an oh-so-disaffected-looking model). More mind-numbing still is the tribute to vintage Boy George, Madonna, and Axl Rose hairstyles, which slaps onto the heads of vacant-eyed models a quintet of coifs better relegated to a kitschy display of tonsorial missteps. This must've been a hell of a lot of fun for the hair and makeup artists involved, but for the average reader? Not so much.

Even when Nylon hits a righteous note, it does so in the clunkiest possible manner. Kmart's plan to sell a line of vintage concert shirt replicas is properly identified as sign number 784,673 of the oncoming apocalypse... but then why does the mag feel the need to devote a quarter of a page to it? You can't appease Kmart's PR minions and the hipster police at the same time. Passing off wack-job actress Juliette Lewis as a serious musician doesn't pass the straight-face test, nor do nods to supposedly avant-garde designers who have long since been trampled by the mainstream press.

As for the writing, well, I present you with the following story lead: "Even Bjork needs something to wear to the beach." Let's move on.

It's a shame that Nylon falls so flat editorially, as its design ranks among the most imaginative in mainstream magazine journalism. Its photographers consistently find inventive ways to inject life into the expected spreads - check out the tightly shot pair of earrings on page 36 of the June/July issue, which are cast in an almost industrial glow. Nylon positively teems with quirky artistic flourishes, like a jagged arrow directing readers from the first contents page to the next or the doodle-y illustrations interspersed among fashion and product layouts. And yet somehow Kelly Osbourne finds her way onto the cover? For those scoring at home: commerce 1, artistic/editorial cachet 0.

Maybe Nylon deserves an encouraging slap on the back and a "nice try!" sticker for attempting to shake up its formula a bit with the music issue. But it's one thing to veer a few tentative steps off the well-trod footpath; it's another to ram through the thicket simply for the sake of doing something different. Here's hoping that devoted Nylon readers eventually found their way out of the forest.

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