Music Criticism (The Lack Thereof)

It’s been almost a year now since I had my last music review published. I feel pretty good about that fact, actually . . . . since lately I’ve been having a hard time even reading other people’s reviews. For instance, I saw one article that used the word “tropes” in analyzing an Outkast song. I love Outkast, and I’m a pretty literary and intelligent guy, but I don’t know how “tropes” fit into the picture.

I recently went back and skimmed through some of my own work on my web page and cringed a lot: there are some good pieces in there, but a whole lot of hack work is buried in there as well. I may go cull the dead wood at some point and leave that portion of my web page in a more skeletal, but high quality, form.

I am also utterly aghast and appalled at my critical breathren for embracing The Darkness as the next coming of something or other, having finally heard that “hot” English band today for the first time. Ugh. Teddible, teddible, but the critics are falling all over themselves fighting over which one of them spotted this next big thing first. I’m glad not to be in the scrum.

Not writing reviews totally changes the way I’ve been listening to music over the past year, in that I can do it for enjoyment and enjoyment alone, not having to worry about finding an angle or making a pitch or turning a clever phrase or rushing through it to get my review out before Rolling Stone or Spin or one of the majors, so I could say I said it first. Whatever it was. I’m not worried about getting new things as soon as they’re available, either, as an extension of that same lack-of-rush. I can listen to old stuff for a month if I want to, and not feel like I’m “missing” some scoop or another. I don’t have to explain why I like something. I can just like it, and nobody else needs to know why.

I originally thought that I might do the poetry project this year as a way of cleansing my palette and then get back to writing music reviews. I don’t think that’s likely any more, though. Feature work I enjoy, creative work I enjoy, but I’m not sure that I ever want to write a review of anything else ever again. Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship . . . and while I may not be a craftsman yet in fiction or poetry or feature writing or whatever, and while I may well never become one, I sure am enjoying cutting things up and hammering them together and painting them funny colors and otherwise playing in the creative wood shop at the moment.

And I’d hate to have to re-learn how to pretend that I was excited by something as tired and retro and ridiculous as The Darkness.

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