So I bagged on two songs yesterday, Fergie’s “London Bridge” and Joanna Newsom’s “The Book of Right-On.” Given that “London Bridge” is the more popular of the two by far â€” it’s Number One this week on Billboard’s Hot 100 â€” and that I referred to it as a “runny piece of shit,” you might think I’d have caught more hell for my Fergie post, but you’d be wrong.
Music’s a funny thing, especially on the Web. The stereotype of this whole mp3-blog scene is one of a mindlessly cutting-edge herd â€” a group of music geeks so desperate to discover the next cool thing that they’ll jump on any bandwagon, no matter how rickety. And there’s some truth to this. You really don’t read about a lot of music on the Web unless it’s hip (a la Joanna Newsom), niche (there are some great niche music blogs out there), or invites easy irony (a la the TRL stuff). What’s funny about this (but not actually funny) is that mp3 bloggers were supposed to shake up the fuddy old corporate-owned print music journalism monolith; they did, to an extent â€” otherwise I don’t think you’d be seeing a headline for Panic! At The Disco on the cover of the latest issue of Blender â€” but all the same, the coverage between the major music blogs can be almost as frustratingly lockstep as what you read in the major music mags.
Whether this represents promise unfulfilled or is simply emblematic of the way human beings listen to music is up to you. Personally, I suspect it’s a little of both. It seems ridiculous to suggest that any critic or blogger has a responsibility to alter his or her coverage simply for the sake of avoiding a bandwagon. On the other hand, as bloggers, we don’t have to worry about the same limitations as print critics; we’re never going to run out of pages, after all, and are therefore theoretically free to cover the waterfront. So to speak. Most of us are only willing to devote the time and energy to the stuff we’re passionate about, which makes sense. Maybe I just question the notion that so many of the folks doing the blogging are passionate about the same damn stuff.
That passion is sort of the point of this post.
I’m passionate about music. So are you; otherwise, neither of us would be surfing the Web for music or writing about it. But for me, for a pretty long while now, that passion has been for music in general, and not for any particular artists or albums. Sure, there’s stuff that will always move me, and you’ve read about a lot of it here. But my days of feeling an artist, or a piece of music, so deeply that I take it personally if someone else thinks he/she/it sucks? Those are long gone. So long ago, I guess, that it’s always an unpleasant surprise when fans of an act or album I’ve slagged act as though I’ve insulted them directly. I don’t understand this point of view.
I guess I should point out here that I know I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of trolls and/or flamewars; aside from one Kate Bush fan and the managers of Big Country and Survivor, the feedback here has been generally encouraging â€” and this is despite the fact that I tend to review a lot of stuff I don’t particularly like. I’m aware the environment here could be a lot more hostile than it is. But at the end of the day, it’s just music, and we should be able to debate its relative (and 100% subjective) merits without having our feelings hurt.
(I am periodically made aware of threads started on other sites regarding my stupidity, et cetera â€” the best of the recent bunch is a post on some Debbie Gibson fansite in response to Monday’s look back at Jobeth Taylor that calls me a “wannabe music critic” and says I obviously don’t like ’80s pop music.)
I don’t need, expect, or even particularly want you to agree with the things I say here. I don’t think my opinion is any more or less valid than yours, and that’s kind of the point â€” this is a discussion forum, after all, albeit one in which I start off every discussion. I’m just a guy talking some shit. About music. And you’re welcome to disagree with me all you want:about the music. (Just ask Billy K., who is quite possibly my favorite frequent commenter here, and who disagrees with me all the time.) Let’s talk shit about music together, eh?