I want to give ten thousand kudos to Jason Cherkis’ “Novelty Rock” (7/8). And this comes from one of the very people he talks about in the piece: a dilettante music journalist with only a blog to air his opinions (http://musicalguru.blogspot.com). I am a professional writer and editor in my day job, and that makes it much more frustrating for me to read music reviews by Hornby, Eggers, et al., who don’t devote serious time to the specific craft of criticism. It is indeed a craft unto itself, of course, and not everyone who (1) can write and (2) has an opinion about this or that CD can necessarily critique that CD.
This can sound a little pompous coming from an amateur with a Web page, but dammit, I’m 26 years old, and fully 17 of those years have been spent immersed in pop music, learning its evolution, its history, and thousands and thousands of its albums and songs. Those of us who spent our high-school Friday nights hanging out in record stores and our college weekends doing third-shift campus radio shows and writing four years of unread CD reviews in the campus newspaper have actually educated ourselves on the subject matter and sharpened our critical pencils…only to be nudged aside to give column inches to someone with a National Book Award.
And for those who are not mere wannabes, let me say that people specifically look for critics whose taste and opinions they accept, then use those opinions to guide them in what they listen to. That’s why criticism is important, and why it is Dave Eggers—not the critic—who misses the point. I wanna know whether the band is writing good songs and playing ’em well, Dave, not whether you lost your virginity after your senior prom while the band was on the radio. If you can’t cut to the chase, please don’t bother.
Well, that’s enough from me. (See how, once I’ve made my point, I shut up? Take note.) Thanks, Mr. Cherkis!