An insta-reaction to The New Yorker’s article on the role of the music critic in the age of the ‘insta release’


Here is the article.

I’m with them on this. I do not think paid music critics should have to adapt to the changing world. I think they should remain stuck in the 20th Century, eternally quoting Lester Bangs. The fact that Bangs – with all his love of authenticity and the music critic-as-fan and championing of the amateur over the institutionalised – would have detested articles and ‘teachers’ like this seems to have escaped pretty much 99 per cent of the wankwads who end up quoting him. I am near certain Oscar Wilde would be with me and Bangs here, too. And, before you ask, yes I skim-read the article. I have better things to do with my time then listening to paid music critics (at at least $1 a word!) complain about how paid music critics have it so hard these days – better things like listening to, and writing about, and reacting immediately to music for three. Fuckturds. If they cannot do the job they are paid to do, or find a way to do it, then they should move along and let someone who can. And that goes triple for people who pretend to know how to ‘teach’ music criticism. Perhaps you should try reading your own words first next time, and then scupper the entire whinge-fest.

No one wants to be a doddering relic, squawking about the glory of olden times, when we churned fresh butter and listened to new records for a couple of weeks before bestowing numerical scores upon them.

And… full stop.

And… breathe.

And…scupper the whole article.

Oh. But then you wouldn’t get paid, would you? So, instead…

The drawbacks to precipitous, hysterical judgment are obvious. Good art often takes time to make, and it often takes time to understand, too.

THIS IS NOT FUCKING HIGHBROW ART, YA WANKBASKETS. I am not arguing that pop music should be considered inferior (on any level) to ‘highbrow’ art, just that attitudes like this serve to take art and music and so forth away from the common herd (i.e. the people who enjoy it) and elevate enjoyment of music to an exclusive (male-dominated) club whereby you are accorded entry only if you possess all the necessary qualifications, the coding, the knowledge. If you are a music critic faced with the onerous task of reviewing an album or whatever, you react according to the circumstance; if you have more time, you use more time. If you have less time, then you use less time; I fervently disagree that this lessens the value or impact of the words written in response. All it means is that the response has been framed differently. See Alexis Petridis’ Guardian review of the recent Kendrick Lamar album as a shining example of what can be achieved by those who understand the craft of music criticism.

(You can signpost too, you know.)

Academics would do well to remember that subcultural theory contains a central paradox: the idea of subcultural theory being taught by someone who is not a member of the subculture themselves is nonsensical. Obviously it is possible to teach subcultural theory in general, but not specifically.

And duh (with reference to Lester Bangs reviewing Astral Weeks a whole 10 years after it came out), music critics write articles reevaluating albums decades after their release all the fucking time. Has the New Yorker writer never read Mojo, Uncut, Rolling Stone, NME, Pitchfork and so forth? Not so much a luxury or anomaly, as a commonplace function of music criticism.

As ever, I am with Tommy Udo here. Bangs forbid that paid music critics should react to circumstance. Poor dears.

Personally, I think you should only review albums that have been out for at least 10 years. And they should be no shorter than 140,000,000 characters.

Indeed, I am so with him here, I am bitterly aware of the futility of typing a response to his words when really I need to go away and think about them for another 60 years lest they unlock another hidden layer of meaning deep inside me that I may have overlooked. As someone else pointed out on Facebook, “It’s kind of an insult to future civilisations, surely, to think we have the right to cast judgement over these artists’ work when the critics of the 35th century will surely have had an appropriate amount of time to appraise them more thoughtfully”.

Soundbite for the Twitter-heads: this article on music criticism is the biggest piece of shit I’ve read since the last one.

But what would I know? I have no qualifications.

From seeing a link on Facebook to the original New Yorker article, this response took me just 15 minutes to compose, edit, proof-read, source and publish. Just saying.

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