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

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…… 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”

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

Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out of This Country

Camera Obscura’s breakthrough Let’s Get Out of This Country was released ten years ago this June. Had I known of the record at the time, it would likely have been relegated to the category of guilty pleasure: something to be listened to but not shared; something enjoyable but not worthy. Rock music, especially after a nineties-alt makeover, was still…… Continue reading Camera Obscura’s Let’s Get Out of This Country

Regarding Rockism Pts 2 & 3: The Progress of Poptimism and the New Rockism

Part One explored the origins and evolution of different authenticity models in American popular music criticism, breaking apart contemporary constructions into essentialist and personal models stemming, respectively, from European-American and African-American cultures. Now, in Parts Two and Three, poptimism’s rise to near-hegemonic acceptance is examined through the lens of Lana Del Rey and her shifting reception at Pitchfork…… Continue reading Regarding Rockism Pts 2 & 3: The Progress of Poptimism and the New Rockism

Regarding Rockism, pt 1: Black Truths, Noble Savages

Daniel Johnston, “Some Things Last A Long Time” I. Introduction Controversy over Lana Del Rey has centered around everything from her singing ability and views on feminism to her interview last year with the Guardian in which she opined on musicians who have died young. (“Glamorous?” she was asked. “Ummmm, yeah.”) But within music criticism circles, one…… Continue reading Regarding Rockism, pt 1: Black Truths, Noble Savages