The 1975’s Brief Inquiry

1. The 1975 “One and the same civilization produces simultaneously two such different things as a poem by T.S. Eliot and a Tin Pan Alley song, or a painting by Braque and a Saturday Evening Post cover… [W]hat  perspective of culture is large enough to enable us to situate them in an enlightening relation to… Continue reading The 1975’s Brief Inquiry

Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm

Spilled Reality, “One more on The 1975?”: The 1975 bloomed late in pop critics’ multi-decade questioning of masculine-rockist values like authenticity and edginess. In the new pop(ul)ist paradigm, entertainment value and its near heuristic, melodic propulsion, are strong arguments for aesthetic quality in themselves. Authenticity is redefined, less a matter of sheer aesthetic originality (anxiety… Continue reading Flowers in a Pop(ul)ist Paradigm

Poets are Intelligence Assets

As I understand it, the idea in Benjamin Hoffman's "Poets are intelligence assets" is that there's all this ambient information about specific cultural moments which is packed into a text unintentionally. My impression is past theorists have called this, loosely, "ideology," though the word carries deep-politic connotations. "Worldview" may be a better term, but I'm not… Continue reading Poets are Intelligence Assets

Text, Telos, and Ritual

I've been set free and I've been bound To the memories of yesterday's clouds I've been set free and I've been bound And now I'm set free I'm set free to find a new illusion — "I'm Set Free," The Velvet Underground “As time goes on... the universe becomes more and more what experience has revealed,… Continue reading Text, Telos, and Ritual

Memory of Lovers

One of my favorite pieces of Mark Richardson's writing is his 2012 essay "I Wanna Live: Two Songs About Freedom" for the now-dead column Resonant Frequency. In it, he waxes eloquent on the two-chord song, especially Bowie's "Heroes," Cat Power's "Nothin But Time," and LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends": [There] is something especially powerful about music with this harmonic… Continue reading Memory of Lovers

Generic Fit

“This makes the pop song an indispensable mirror: The way in which a listener imposes himself upon the text, or transforms the text from generic to specific, shows that listener something about himself. He learns his yearnings, his sadnesses, his loves; he recognizes an emotional life which is otherwise elusive, and solidifies in time an emotional state… Continue reading Generic Fit

“If It Sounds Bad It Is Bad”

One of the critical ideas I've found most interesting of late is a seeming contradiction: Just because it sounds like bad music doesn't mean it is bad music. "Just because it reads like a bad novel doesn't mean it's a bad novel" is also sort of true, but a bit more complicated. The tenability of… Continue reading “If It Sounds Bad It Is Bad”

Every Little Star

  I. I filled in a long-standing gap in my cultural knowledge recently and watched Lynch's 2001 noir masterpiece Mulholland Drive. That's the sensation, right? Where listening to records or watching films in an era of unprecedented access begins to feel a bit like doing homework. Except Mulholland Drive is, itself, an almost unprecedently interesting film, one capable of… Continue reading Every Little Star

Genre, Values Hierarchies, & Intentionality in Pop

I. Does intentionality matter? Critical consequentialism put to the ultimate test: David Cooper Moore's "The Scary, Misunderstood Power of a 'Teen Mom' Star's Album"  discusses Farrah Abraham's infamous pop record My Teenage Dream Ended: It's tempting to consider My Teenage Dream Ended alongside other reality TV star vanity albums, like Paris Hilton's excellent (and unfairly… Continue reading Genre, Values Hierarchies, & Intentionality in Pop