It is (or was) a music magazine, right? So why is it the magazine relies more heavily on celebrity-watch, supposed political expose', and that ham-fisted Peter Travers movies section? Do yourself a favor. Buy People magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Mother Jones, or Blender. You'll get just what you want and avoid all the sanctimonious crap. Hunter S. Thompson and cover photography are/were its only claim to fame.
The magazine is not what I expected. I subcribed several years ago and it is not anything I am interested in anymore. Too much sexual crap and not enough about music!
I must be getting old; I can actually remember a time when "Rolling Stone" was the best printed source for reliable information regarding music and musicians; it was timely, pertinent, and highly respected. Unfortunately, it seems to have degenerated into a sad mixture of half-baked politics, overblown hype for new movies, silly fluff about "artists" like Britney Spears, and ads, ads, ads. In fact, "Rolling Stone" is now about as relevant and meaningful as "Tiger Beat" was in its day. Do you enjoy reading about trendy "stars" who will be forgotten by this time next year? Do you like to read article-length advertisements for the latest product from Hollywood? How about some ill-informed, poorly-composed political commentary? Are you fond of being bombarded with page after page of advertisements? If so, today's "Rolling Stone" is for you. If you are seeking worthwhile material about musicians and their music, look elsewhere - "Rolling Stone" has sold out.
Remember that adorable teen from "Almost Famous," who dreamed of writing cuting-edge rock articles for Rolling Stone? No way. Not now, anyway. Once an edgy herald of music and rebellion, Rolling Stone has lurched gracelessly into its old age, filled with a mess of stars du jour and frenetic MTV coverage.
Rolling Stone keeps an eye on the music industry -- scandals, controversies, concert coverage and reviews of the latest albums. They cover quite a bit of movie stuff as well, interviewing/covering directors like Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino, as well as (always attractive and usually young) actors. And there's also political commentary, stubbornly one-sided and lacking in subtlety and brains.
Long ago, Rolling Stone was a force to be reckoned with. But now it's the magazine equivalent of a paunchy, wrinkled guy who buys a toupee and sports car, in a futile attempt to convince the world that he's still young and cool. Newer, wittier, more musically interesting magazines like Filter, Under the Radar and the online Kludge have slipped into the place that Rolling Stone once occupied.
It certainly doesn't help that Rolling Stone is having an ongoing personality crisis. Is it a music mag? A political mag? A movie mag? It tries to be all three, and succeeds at none. Their politics is ridiculously one-sided, lacking any complexity. And the music coverage is too mainstream to be terribly interesting. Yes, some of the bands covered -- like the White Stripes -- are good. But up-and-coming bands, not to mention most of the rich indie music scene, are left to languish in the shadows.
Certainly Rolling Stone can't be commended for many of their choices -- it was a welcome relief when they put rock great Jimi Hendrix on the cover. But every cover of Jimi or the Beatles is outweighed by shirtless pictures of Timberlake or Usher, or naked pictures of Britney or Christina. Even the ones wearing clothes (like wannabe-rebel Avril) seem to be appealing to fetishes. Yep, many of the covers are eye-catching mainly for the skin factor.
Even those things might be acceptable, were the writing good. But save a handful of insightful movie reviews, the writing comes across as strained and painful. Attempts at wit and jokes fall flat. And some of the "human interest" stories border on revoltingly tasteless.
Creaking and covered in dust, boomer mag "Rolling Stone" passed its prime long ago. Let the gossip and pop coverage rest. Instead, check out mags like Filter, Kludge and Under the Radar, with their rich music coverage and insightful writing.
As most of the reviewers here realize, Rolling Stone magazine is now so thoroughly decayed that it can never be resurrected. Long gone are the days of having writers who knew so much about music that they could publish intelligent articles not only about rock bands such as the Stones and The Who but also jazz musicians such as Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton, and Miles Davis. It used to be a great resource for anyone who really enjoyed serious music and wanted to read about the alternative ideas emanating from the counterculture.
The magazine has degraded into soft porn lately with a variety of sleazy covers with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilara, and Avril Lavine (sp?) either undressed, half-dressed, or sporting some schoolgirl costume, but you can tell that is just because they are targeting the adolescent male and "questionable old men" market. Instead of focusing on the music, they have headed for the ditch. Really, it isn't that tragic. There have been greater and more significant losses to culture, to be sure. On a bright side, the magazine makes for darn good TP.
It really depresses me to think that there's still an audience for this waste of wood pulp. Instead of repeating what everyone else has said about RS going completely down the tubes, I'm going to mention something Crispin Glover said in an interview with The Onion A/V Club. Basically, he believes that when the only reality represented in entertainment (e.g. movies at your local multiplex) is that of the majority audience, it is a sign of "a culture in decline". The same goes for this wretched magazine. They're afraid to go anywhere close to the boundaries of their self-imposed corporate envelope.
Continuing the above line of thought, you can bet that any band featured in their pages has sold their souls to the MTV/ClearChannel/AOLTimeWarner machine. (Add more slashes and corporations as desired.) I've tried many times to look up recent info on good, artistically important bands on RS's website, but it's futile. The only things that are worth reading there are the pre-1985 music reviews, from back when they still had at least a little integrity.  and ... mean my review was doctored.
The reviews are based on the climate of the industry more than actual substance, the covers are filled with people who won't matter 5 years from now, and their political commentary is unnecessary. Do I really want to hear from a magazine with Britney Spears on the cover as a "relevent" artist? There is no longer anything to seperate this rag from YM.
It is very hard indeed to believe that the journal which once featured Hunter Thompson's savage & cutting political commentary has devolved into the plastic MTV-driven rag that it is today. Save your money if you're looking for anything seriously intellectual or political.
Rolling Stone takes itself way too seriously. It's a magazine about the entertainment industry. At least "Us" and "People" know their limits.
Beyond that, they've turned into complete pop journalism. Their stories are stale and the topics have been covered by other magazines months or years before them.
For example, at the time of the writing of this review, Dec. 2003, the cover has Brittney on it. "Brittney Who?" I have to ask. Her career is already on the decline, and Rolling Stone features her half-nude on the cover.
Let's ignore the up and coming bands with talent, let's ignore the state of the music scene. Instead, let's indulge in pop journalism and try to write unskilled articles about politics and other things that have nothing to do with music.
When I want news, I'll read the NYT or the WSJ. When I want to read about music, I'll have to look elsewhere. For only when I want to read low-intellect pretentious crap will I pick up this full-color bird cage liner.
Rolling Stone was a bit too rough for what I wanted to use it for. I'm sticking with Charmin or Quilted Northern.