My theory concerning music critics:
A music critic cannot like anything that is popular.
Reason 1: They have set themselves up as “experts” on popular music culture, and as such, have assigned themselves the task of advising the rest of us about what is “cool and hip” and letting us know what new band is going to be the “next big thing.” They also have the self assigned task of letting us know what is relevant.
Reason 2: To justify their jobs, they have to “find” new artists before the public does to justify their job and quantify their hipness.
Nobody ever seems to be keeping score to determine how many times their “next big thing” ends up working at a fast food restaurant within a year!
In his latest book, Chuck Klosterman, in my opinion the best popular culture writer working today, while talking about a journalist questioning ABBA’s relevance in the world in 2001:
“I suppose it is true if you use the word relevance like most people who regularly write about music, but it is false if you think about how the world actually operates. As a rule, people who classify art as “irrelevant” are trying to position themselves above the entity; it’s a way of pretending they’re more in step with contemporary culture than the artist himself, which is mostly a way of saying they can’t find a tangible reason for disliking what something intends to embody. Moreover, the whole argument is self-defeating: If you classify something as “irrelevant,” you’re (obviously) using it as a unit of comparison against whatever is “relevant,” so it (obviously) does have meaning and merit. Truly irrelevant art wouldn’t even be part of the conversation.”
There was a time when music critics had a pretty good track record in finding and exposing good new bands. There was a large quantity of publications, both local and national, who assigned a lot of column inches to new music. That era seems to be disappearing. Seems that most new music is discovered on the internet. Column inches are getting harder and harder to come by, and are mostly taken up by superstars and the “flavor of the month.”
More next week.