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RE: Why I'm starting to loath news paper music critics

--- "Hartung, Kris" <kris.hartung@hp.com> wrote:
> I bet you would have been really irked if I had
> said): 
> "The backdrop in the beginning of the song is
> decent, but somewhat watered down as if the artist
> is attempting to emulate Robert Fripp's Soundscapes,
> but unsuccessfully so...and the bass groove that
> eventually comes in is tasteful, but too low in the
> mix.  Not too bad. The song has too much inside
> melodic work for this particular genre."

I dunno, most of those criticisms would have probably
been more accurate* (except for the Fripp part; if I'd
been aping a Soundscape, I would have had to do a lot
more whooooshing sounds...:)) *Definition of
'accurate': "In accordance with my OWN opinion."

 But I think what many of us object to most about
certain critics is the way they posit themselves as
the Voice of Authority, as you point out, using their
opinion as a substitute for objectivity and possibly
tainting/coloring the experience of listeners who've
read their comments. "It MUST be true; I read it in
the  newspaper." One of my old bands was once reviewed
by a critic who complained in a magazine about our
vocalist's "phony British accent"; it wasn't until
about a year later that we found out that his
assessment hinged on ONE misheard word in ONE song.
(He thought the word 'glossy' [as in a photographic
print surface] was actually 'glassy' pronounced a la
Greg Lake...) But a number of people at our shows
who'd read the review afterwards made comments like
"You know, I'd never noticed that before, but he DOES
pronounce some of his words like that!", and he ended
up being a bit self-conscious about it. It's one thing
if the reviewer is slamming the artist for poor
musicianship or shoddily crafted songs, but it's
another story altogether if their opinion is informed
by ignorance or through (mis)interpretation of things
often having little to do with the music itself.

> Your juxtaposition point below validates that those
> claims which contradict each other are likely
> subjective claims about one's emotive response to
> your work, rather than a factual claim about the
> work itself.

Absolutely. The strategy we took by including the bad
ones alongside the good ones in the press kit
addressed the natural curiosity that controversy stirs
up. If the opinions of Critic A and Critic B differ so
substantially, there's a natural tendency to want to
hear the album/see the band's show to find out for
yourself what all the fuss is about. As no less a
pundit than Gene Simmons once said (something like):
"I don't care WHAT the critics are writing about me. I
just care that they ARE writing about me."


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