Music Critics Are Scum (Uh Huh Uh Huh, I Like It, Uh Huh Uh Huh)

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By Mof Gimmers

Having just read the fun Why Music Critics Suck by Kelly McClure, which dissected the very notion of muso creeps who review shows, albums and write pointless thought-pieces about Uh Y’Know Stuff, I thought I’d chip in. Not that anyone asked. Why should that stop me? I’m aware that I’m just another voice vying for attention and trying to prove that I’m worth listening to.

And the above picture is my vain attempt to give credence to the fact that I’m A Music Critic. I’m needy and it isn’t beneath me to use such cheap-ass tactics as displaying myself on a TV show talking to Sparks. And shouting “needy!” isn’t a cuss. The worst thing you can level at me is, not that I’m a talentless writer or indeed, that what I’m saying is woefully misguided … any attention or affection is pretty much the point of why anyone writes anything, as each word committed to a page is always tapped out in the assumption that it will never be read … no, the worst thing to say is that I’m a ‘journalist’.

Journalists, for my money, stick their foot in the door down at city hall and uncover major scandals about the people who run our lives and take our taxes. These are strange people working under the remit of ‘I’m Doing A Good, Worthy Thing’.

But who likes worthiness?

Fact is, there’s nothing I like more than someone who utterly and completely sucks – that’s why I got into music instead of politics. Politicians don’t ‘suck’ because they’re way too chilling for that. Using intentionally deadbeat slang like ‘suck’ isn’t good enough for a member of parliament or congress … it’s a bit like saying Jeffrey Dahmer deserves the naughty step after eating his victims and polishing their skulls before placing them in the refrigerator and jerking off over the cold, hallowed eye sockets.

But we’re talking about music right? Don’t worry – these thought pieces are allowed to be unfocused and wander off into their own little dialogue because we, the music critics, suck.

And it’s great. That’s what is so gratifying about anyone writing about music. As soon as you sit down to write out the words, the split second before you stroke the first key, your psyche is flooded with the notion that what you thought was one of the most important jobs in the world is in fact, one of the most pointless.

Describing music? Why, that’s nearly as pointless as dissecting the article you’re currently writing, while you’re writing it. What kinda lame sap does that?

A music critic, that’s who.

And it’s a fun thing to either embrace or, better yet, get involved with. Like The Stooges glaring down the barrel of an audience and saying “You want this stage? You can have it. You just have to get past us first”, the whole point of the music critic is to be kinda crappy and to offer themselves up to the reader for abuse. Most negative reviews don’t say much about a buncha divs making a bad racket, rather, its a writer going in two-footed, desperate attention, vitriol, justification or most likely, a cheap laugh.

The collective you has always known that. The collective and imagined we (there is no ‘we’, as music critics, as a rule, hate each other and are riddled with professional envy and mutual self-loathing, like the most listless circle jerk in the history of humankind) has always been reluctant to say it out loud because, the second you say “I suck”, the promo albums and accreditation for shows dry up … and apart from the misguided notion that you’ll somehow lead a decadent rock’n’roll lifestyle by simply standing closely enough to musicians, getting hand-jobs from hot young musos or adulation because you’re With The Band, the free stuff is the only reward a music critic will ever receive.

And for the most part, that becomes an irritant as well, as you wade through endless arcs of musical diarrhoea that are so unremarkable that they’re not even worth a nasty diatribe in a hundred or so words.

But you knew that. That’s why you didn’t bother getting a gig as a ‘professional’ music hack. It looked like a sad, lonely job; the realm of the keyboard warrior unable to actually swing a dick in the locker room or compensate with a sports car.

The critic’s poisoned pen is the weapon of choice and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon (hell, it doesn’t even take a tree surgeon) to work out that a pen is the lamest weapon of all. Anyone who says otherwise is a writer. Or worse, a Smiths fan. The mightiest weapon is popularity and, while that comes with drawbacks, it’s more fun to have friends and hangers-on than being some sap, awake in the wee small hours jacked up on cheap smokes and spoons of instant coffee, applied directly into the corneas of your eyes, battering out words that, effectively, fall short of the target every single time.

But that is what’s so great about the world of music criticism. It’s page after page of horrible, warty hang-ups. They’re all laid bare on a page, trying to dissect the fun or absence of a good time while everyone surrounding simply has mindless fun, for which The Critic will be endlessly envious of. The resentment builds up and you chide bands for becoming popular (usually because you gave their first LP a good review and then they went and spoiled it by going stadium rock, or because you kinda had an email friendship with them but they stopped returning your calls) and all comes tumbling out in the shape of fawning articles about bands you know damn well will never get famous (and thereby, always remain your ‘friends’) or needlessly pithy rants about people who have done absolutely nothing wrong to you.

Failing that, you can always berate readers for being dumb.

So to sum up: What’s the point of this article? Well there isn’t one. We’re talking about people writing about music ferchrissakes. It’s all derivative junk and faux-intellect.

The second that changes and music criticism starts to become worthy, well, that is when we have to start worrying. This has already happened of course, but there’s some of us still feverishly clinging to that notion of being the most pathetic person you’ll ever come across in prose.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go and refer to an album with more than two harmonies as ‘Beach Boys-esque’ while throwing the phrase ‘life-affirming’ around like it means something, if indeed, it ever meant anything in the first place. [Oh cheers – life-affirming over-using Ed]

Think pieces: Thank god they don’t contain much in the way of thought, eh?

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