A Poetics Of Pop

Amateurist asks for more technically informed analysis of music: you can guess the discussion that ensues (at least if you’ve spent any time on ILM). For what it’s worth I’m with Michael Daddino – great idea, totally outside my abilities to actuall do but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it.

Anyway some interesting points do emerge, what caught my attention was Ams’ suggestion of “non-evaluative language”. This interests me – not because I’m a touchy-feely relativist, I just change my mind a lot, but because I think there’s definitely room for criticism which lets the reader make a judgement rather than follow one.

Where Amateurist and I might differ is in my belief that the toolkit of traditional, non-technical pop writing allows this sidestepping of evaluation too. There was another, long-lost thread on ILM which asked if any adjective – aside from synonyms for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – was inherently judgemental when applied to music. Think how easy it is to reclaim ‘pretentious’, for instance. From what I remember of the thread words like ‘bland’ or ‘boring’ were the most problematic but it wasn’t impossible to think of situations where they could be value-neutral.

There’s room for fiery judgement too, naturally. But I like the idea of a review which would give the reader a very good idea of what they might think of a record while leaving them gently baffled as to what the writer thought.