Oh, to be a critic.
We here at Radio Exile pride ourselves on being fanboys (case in point here, here, and, uh, well, generally speaking, here). The impetus for this site (along with the thousands of other music blogs across the internet) is just that; our profound, obsessive love of all things music. Even if we hate what we hear, we still love it for being music. And while most of you understand what that means (the same impetus drives our readers to visit our site with some frequency), there is a minority that exists to anchor our love, mixed bag that it is, and assume that our opinions count less if they do not match others’.
I haven’t written a review since this one. I like to tell myself it’s because I’ve been too busy, or I’ve been suffering from writers’ block. But that’s not true, because I continue to fill my own obligations here and, in my new found love of Twitter. The fact is, I’m honestly afraid to continue pasting my opinion on other people’s music, should that opinion be categorically mistaken for anything other than that: my opinion. I was unaware that my position as a lowly music critic on an independent music blog assigned some weighty responsibility to promote artists or a certain type of music outside my own taste. I mean, God forbid I ever become a food critic, though, to be fair, I’m not as picky when it comes to stuffing my face hole.
Read more “after the jump”
I’m sure you’ve noticed the underlying dichotomy I’ve posed in these first two paragraphs. On one hand, we love music. On the other hand, we criticize the work. If only I had a third hand… not only would my love life be more interesting, but I’d be able to fend off the other fanboys who share that love, but not my criticism.
A few months ago, we got in trouble for writing about artists we’d love to punch. Admittedly, most of the artists are ones that we all listen to and often have enjoyed. The ‘punching’ thing was satirical, it was that fanboy id we wear on our sleeves… “Why is Amy Winehouse a vapid, drug addled whore? And why do I love her for it?” No, seriously. You think we don’t know all the words to Joshua Tree? Come on. You think an indie site is devoid of Amanda Palmer fans? I know we can’t please everyone, but really, guys, think about it. Axl Rose is the Howard Hughes of rock music, how can we not be inspired to love what he is while simultaneously wishing we could punch him in his face? Like it or not, the dichotomy of being a fan and a critic is an impossible obstacle we have chosen to embrace.
In an email our editor Shawn received last week from a reader, I was slandered as unprofessional. This person thought the review in question was a critique of a genre. I was even called a “troll” (which is ironic, given the tone of the email and comments posted to the review). I will not further defend my opinion of the artist or the work in particular, but I never attacked a genre. In fact, the record was devoid of any singular attachment to a popular genre, and if it was the artist’s intent to flagship a sound, and now a genre does exist in which squelches, beeps, and white noise constitute ‘music’, then fair enough: I’m not a fan of the “genre”. And, even if I associated this artist with those of a more electronic fare (Tricky, Massive Attack, Portishead, to name a few), said artist still wouldn’t meet the mail.
Tell you what: I’ll stop reviewing music I don’t like. Everything will come out golden. “Artist of the year!” “Record of the summer!” “How DO they do it?!” I’ll even start incorporating a star-based rating system, where every record gets one star, like some sort of musical Special Olympics, where everyone loses because we’re too busy trying to make sure everyone wins. The system will negate any criticism, and hopefully, make everyone happy.
Or, we can all continue to listen to our music, and know that some is simply better than others… and that, oh, by the way, our taste, like yours, is completely subjective. See, that’s how this whole ‘taste’ thing works. I hear it’s sort of how art works, too.