Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

This post is stirring up a huge amount of debate over on the I Love Music board, which is actually an entertaining and informative site (with a surprising number of well-circulated, oft-published critics posting) despite how quickly a shitstorm can be scared up.

Of course, it's the whole My Chemical Romance = Nirvana thing that has the critics (both professional and non-) on the board offering their venomous barbs smirking dismissals two cents.

I think the post is pretty pointless in and of itself and isn't the first time I've seen the whole "critics ain't in touch with the kids, maaaan" (really?). I do think that she's well off on this one point, though:
Most music journalists have no clue whatsoever what kids like. They're 35 year old men writing for other 35 year old men who think they're actually writing to 21 year old college kids.

First of all, the majority of critics don't write for mags like Blender or Rolling Stone, where broader pop cultural/musical knowledge is necessary to communicate with the readers who generally don't have a specific taste in music. I think most write for specialized mags and, naturally, listen to a particular genre of music. And quite frankly, we're better for it. I wouldn't value the opinion of someone who draws from a broad musical spectrum as much as I would someone who specialized in the genre they are critiquing. The value of the former comes when they are trying to bridge two disparate genres in order to expand the horizons of their reader. In the magazines that cater to this kind of across-the-board audience, this is the ideal writer for them. However, that should, by no means, be the standard. So, I see no reason for there to be an imperative for any writer, let alone older writers, to know who My Chemical Romance or any other hot band of the moment is. Further, unless it's their job/inclination to do so, I do not feel they need to "recognize" any band's historical relevance. Not every music critic is a historian. The essential job of any critic is to give you reasons why you should search out or avoid new music/writing/film/etc. Music reviews, no matter how artfully rendered, are really nothing more than buyer's guides in the end. That is not to say they should not be thoughtful, or avoid any sort of historical analysis if it's appropriate. They just need to remember to make sure the reader gives a damn one way or the other after reading the review, or else they've really failed.

On a tangentially related note, where the fuck is my book deal?! I mean, honestly.