Posts from 17th February 2003

17
Feb 03

“Guy With ‘Opinionated Personal Website’ Has Problem With Professional Music Writing”

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 199 views

“Guy With ‘Opinionated Personal Website’ Has Problem With Professional Music Writing”
No one really bothered to talk about the Pazz & Jop poll itself on NYLPM, with good reason, I guess: even Der Dean seems to lament the bleedin’ obviousness of this years winners, the kind of list that one can reply with – no matter where you stand on its contents – a resigned shrug. The ILM debate on the subject has lapsed into a regulars argument which I’m too busy/dense to bothering unpacking (although I can guess it has little to do with P&J at this point.) My problem with the list is that I don’t believe it was such an “obvious” year for music at all; if anything Pazz & Jop’s polled (at least the dissatisfied contingent, yrs truly included) failed to convince their peers (and by extension – obviously – their readers) about the specialness of the lower placing entries.

One of the “odd” side effects of this years list I’ve noticed is the amount of ire it seems to be drawing from the non-respondent contingent, esp those with blogs. Frankly, I agree – more or less – with Simon Reynolds: I don’t know why anyone who isn’t involved in the “industry” to one degree or another would give a flying fuck about what basically equals a meeting of the Royal Water Buffalos Lodge with a Dean Martin roast for those “in the know.” I care, of course, because I am involved, and I have loved the components of the list since I was in high school (geeky listmaking, the clash between the personalities of the individuals with the Master List, the unexpected upsets…basically a ghetto-ized version of the Oscars for those of us who still hold delusions about the glamour of criticism.) (Oh Pauline, whither next?)

The Blog Xplosion, however, means that their are more Music Writers than ever before (there were 1300 people polled in P&J this year…I have no idea what 2001’s stats were but I’d imagine it was markedly less. And 1300 is still a far cry from early early days of, like, 24 people.) Many of these writers enjoy the freedom of expression and low bar of entry blogging and webzines enjoy, while harboring a resentment towards the idea of Music Writing itself (exclusionary, pretentious, whatevah.) So naturally the idea of P&J – a big, semi-prestigious, semi-pretentious list-poll summarizing the entire year, an idea originally born out of gentle mocking humor or the same type of mainstream subversion which powers the bloggers or even sincerity (imagine that) that got out of the hands of its creators until it grew and grew to become something else entirely – feeds right into that resentment. And yet, and yet. Again, I’d have no idea why they’d care. Except that more and more people who have made their names in blogging or on music related webboards or the like are ending up in P&J (cough, cough), which confuses the sense of self-righteousness: this is beneath (above?) contempt but why am I/this blogger/guy who writes fro webzine A not included?? (It’s not quite sour grapes, but its certainly a cake and eating it too thing.)

The problem is that, as always with anything that matters, the mountain ain’t comin to Mohammed. Those included in the poll from the “blog community”?; I have some harsh news for you all: they asked to be included, in some cases fought for it. They are the Greatest Heroes of All, because their arguing for the value of blogging and internet-based criticism against some spurious standard of “professional” music writing has allowed – perhaps for the first time – all the internet writers you Want to See In Print (your results may vary) to actually get in there. But you still have to try. Not to come over all dad (but the weblog community seems to need a swift kick in the solipsism every now and again): get off your asses and do something about your complaints. Or quit fucking whining.