Onetime Mercury word slave and current Parenthetical Girls (and Xiu Xiu) member, Zac Pennington has penned this excellent piece for Impose Magazine about his time as a music critic.
Is it a delightful look back at his glory days writing about local music? Um, let's just say he enjoyed his days as an ice cream man more than he did writing about music. While I don't agree with most of what Pennington says in this well-written essay, I definitely recommend you check it out.
With a few admirable, notable, and rule-proving exceptions, music journalists tend to be—in my limited editorial experience, at least—just as lazy and uninspired as the musicians they spend their time covering. They are typically underpaid, overworked, and anxious to move on to their next freelance deadline. There are those among them who thrive within this desperate discourse—writers who combat the impossibly ravenous call for content with intelligence and exacting insight. Most are simply slouching towards word count. At the end of the day, music critics aren’t paid (assuming they’re paid at all) to be brilliant—they’re paid to fill space. It’s a space that is infinite, an eternally gaping void, into which words are cast, consumed, and for all intents almost immediately forgotten by all but the people that they are written about. Faced with the choice between meticulously crafting some rich, sophisticated think-piece and just rewriting that press release with a few polysyllabic adjectives peppered in for spice, and it’s hard to feel particularly precious.
Ouch. I'd like to post a reply to Pennington's comment, but I don't have a press release to copy off of. Plus I really need to look up what polysyllabic means.