I got such a kick out of this humor(?) article by Roughstock’s Matt Bjorke that I wanted to quote it in its entirety, but copyright law being what it is, I decided to do us both a favor by offering an abridged version of it instead. Great for the busy professional who wants to be infuriated on the go.
MATT BJORKE ON MUSIC CRITICISM
I was going to do an article about how cold-hearted music critics write from “an ivory tower of callous snarkiness and backhanded compliments,” then I thought better of it.
For some reason, I’m still writing about the topic I just claimed to have rejected.
Rhetorical question? Yes please.
People like the mainstream, so you shouldn’t criticize it. Because a lot of people like it.
The mainstream is called the mainstream, not Left-of-Centerville or Backhanded Compliments R Us or… oh look I just said the SH word. I’ll bet you think I’m cool now.
I like McDonald’s, but not Republicans.
I don’t like it when people think they know it all.
People who disagree with my take on country music should pack up and move on. (I think I know it all.)
I don’t like clever writers, as you might guess from my “Left-of-Centerville” coinage a few paragraphs ago.
In-depth music coverage offends my sensibilities. Country music doesn’t merit serious discussion.
Let me wrap up by trying to endear myself to you. Also, let’s throw in a nonsensical (and quite belated) George Bush jab, and one more “ivory tower” reference for good measure.
A few quick points in response:
1) I don’t see much gratuitous meanness in music criticism, and on the odd occasions when it does crop up there’s often reader backlash (especially visible on blogs). As long as the criticism is music-based, I’m all for putting it out there and seeing what people make of it. They are, of course, welcome to reject it.
2) I like discussions, but they don’t just happen by themselves; one opinion emphatically stated often serves as the catalyst. ‘Reviews’ that read like press releases are less likely to get people talking, since they have the appearance of cozying up to the artist rather than trying to engage an audience of discerning music fans.
3) Loving something well means comprehending its weaknesses, so the “love it or leave it” argument doesn’t hold much water for me in relation to a musical genre (or, for that matter, anything else).
4) Country music merits as much thought as people are willing to devote to it. Some of the most important and telling truths about the form hide in “simple little goofy songs” so easily dismissed.
Since Bjorke’s article did not include a comment section, feel free to discuss it here. You’ll probably want to read the full version before doing so.