Now Tumblr is giving me homework!
Which reminds me, I still have to write about Janet Jackson. (Spoilers: <3.)
Talk about music criticism, lose followers at a surprising rate.
Almost every male rock critic I’ve met is of a certain type: Insecure, introverted, sensitive, equal parts kind and bitter. Obviously, this is its own stereotype, and doesn’t apply to everyone. But I’ve met many rock critics at this point, and it’s a definite trend. And it’s obvious why male rock critics react this way, because music is the best relationship they have in the real world, and writing about it is a way to be expressive in a way the physical world doesn’t allow them to be. It’s a way to communicate.
Except for the millions of folks who buy Nickelback’s records and don’t feel the need to either excuse their taste or debate it online. The answer isn’t DOWN WITH CRITICS but MORE PEOPLE EXPLAINING THEIR TASTE.
And my answer is that I don’t see that the perpetual struggle to get people to think for themselves needs to exist. Setting aside the very real question of who are any of us to judge who is and isn’t thinking for themselves (it’s a lot simpler to assume someone has honestly come to their conclusions than to accuse them of just parroting someone else or trying to fit in), it distracts from the whole point of music criticism, which is to talk about music, not about what some people may or may not believe.
For example, if you want me to take Nickelback seriously (I’m open to all things), tell me what’s great about Nickelback. Talking about what other people think about Nickelback — or accusing me of not having come by my current opinion of Nickelback honestly (not that you were, or would) — doesn’t serve any purpose except to spur more Fighting On The Internet.
I do think it’s very important — in fact it’s part of the job description — that the individual writer work through, acknowledge, and be honest about his or her own biases, preconceptions, and received opinions. I don’t think it’s anyone’s job to make sure that others are doing so. Life’s too short.
One other thing about “Hold It Against Me”:
look feel like paradise/And I need a vacation tonight” — copy on travel brochures aside, is there really any connection between those two ideas? Do people really think that way, or is it just sloppy writing?
- Could a comparison profitably be made between Jay-Z and John Updike? I’m thinking of David Foster Wallace’s essay on Updike in Consider the Lobster, how he had become a better critic than fiction writer as he aged and his fiction fossilized into predictable patterns, and on how much better Jay seems to be at explaining rap lyrics (Decoded) than in writing new ones these days. Which, I was listening to “H.A.M.” at the time, and yeah. But someone else, someone who’s actually read plenty of Updike and listened extensively to pre-“retirement” Jay-Z should make the comparison, not me.
- The way Britney ends almost every line in the verses of “Hold It Against Me” with what I think of (possibly to my shame) as a pornstar moan creates this weird dissonance with the lameness, even the childish chasteness, of the pick-up line in the chorus. I haven’t gone back to check if that’s a regular feature of her singing, or if I just now noticed it for the first time. I mean, sure she always sings with a kind of cartoon sexual charge, but this blatant?
- Jennifer Lopez is finally returning to pop radio, and most people will probably credit American Idol. I don’t know; I think it’s because the track’s got Pitbull on it.
I will see you when I get my shit sorted out.
Am I the only one who has to switch to HTML or markup to insert links?
Discounting books I’m planning to review elsewhere (mostly because they’re all comics), it was probably H. E. Bates’ The Modern Short Story, which was written in 1942. Bates’ preface to the edition I have, written in the 70s, is kind of sad, as he rails against “pornography” — I guess he means Anthony Burgess? — and bemoans the lost art of suggestion, while in the actual text of the book he’s all for the increasing frankness and directness of modernity.
It’s good, although it mostly tells you how to write the kinds of stories H. E. Bates would approve of. I could gorge myself on that donnish midcentury British prose style forever (blame a youth spent reading C. S. Lewis), but he does make some compelling points about the art of the short story and its specific utility as a form. Although one of his big ideas — the fact that a writer can pare down all description and identifying features, leaving the reader to fill in the gaps from his (yeah, his; it’s that kind of book) own experience — is something I always find frustrating when reading older fiction. I always want to know about the texture of lived experience, even if it meanders into cliché; and his ideal depends upon a uniformity of shared experience that is simply impossible now, and undoubtedly was then, but what did middle-class white men care?
Mostly the effect of the book was to make me want to read Bates’ own stories, of which I have a collection or two around here somewhere, to see how well he lived up to his own critical ideas; but then I got a computer again and I’ve barely read anything but my various feeds and things I intend to write about since. I know; complaining on Tumblr that I never read books anymore? I might as well post up a desaturated image with a Katy Perry quote and call it a day — but maybe if I whine about it enough I’ll remember to do something about it.
I love Mecano! Or at least I love them as much as I love anyone I’ve known about for years but who always gets pushed to the “for further investigation” file. (THERE’S SO MUCH MUSIC OUT THERE YOU GUYS.)
The song I really know is “Maquillaje” (fanvid here), which has kind of a frantic Lene Lovich vibe, if any new wave connoisseurs are reading this (cough tristn cough), but everything I’ve heard is great. Hey, maybe I (or MAYBE YOU) should make a Perpetua-type sample mix to (re-?)introduce all the other music nerds around here to them.
I wish more people understood the normative, the positive qualities of silence.
(I don’t mean passive-aggressively that certain people on the Internet should shut up; I mean quite literally that I’d prefer to not have to make small talk in situations that don’t require it.)