Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Singles Jukebox debacle

I visit the Singles Jukebox nearly every day. Recently, I wrote this comment under the reviews of Robyn's "Dancing on My Own" which sparked some back'n'forth:

"Funny how how certain Singles Jukebox reviewers occasionally turn “rockist” or use the very same “indie scenester” logic they claim to oppose, as long as it suits their agenda.

“(…) scores two American top tens in the nineties, ignored by the rock press and Pitchfork; burrows into a studio with Klas Ahlund a few years later; rediscovered by Stylus and Pitchfork indie kids even though her American handlers treat her like she’s Amerie.”

“It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans” as Sloan once so accurately put it. Once in a while, it would be wise to hand people a little more credit when it comes to their likes (and dislikes), even if this may lead to a windfall of praise for one artist you may not “get” or deem unworthy. Or better yet, write about the god damn music."

It was the quoted passage in the middle there that rubbed me the wrong way, but perhaps I should've taken a short breath before I wrote the comment.

I've enjoyed the Singles Jukebox as a safe haven away from the worst sins of the anti-pop post-Adorno music journalism, where pop fans are treated as a herd bereft of their own opinions, a rhetoric most often associated with certain "indie scenesters". One reason why the quoted passage annoyed me, was because it used a similar argument but turned it against "indie kids", as if the recent appreciation of Robyn by that paricular group of people was a good reason to dock a grade or two.

But I have no idea what stance the author of the review has re: rockism and "indie scenesters", and Matos took me to court for that (he also wrote "writing about the music is a nonstarter to me. Music encompasses everything around it, just like any other subject." to which it would've been tempting to comment "What?!? And you write about music?!?", but I know his writing well, and understands what he meant, and if you're used to reading my stuff you know I don't treat music as if it was in a vacuum either).

So what I perhaps should have written in the comments is something along theses lines:

"It was a bit dissappointing to see a review use a (bad) rhetoric usually associated certain "indie scenesters", when I'd considered the Singles Jukebox a safe haven from such low blows"

The rest is fine, though maybe I should've added "Write about the god damn music in a social context" to avoid (deliberate) misreadings.

There's one other thing that has puzzled me recently on the SJ. One Alex McPhearson doesn't seem to enjoy much of the music he's asked to review. The last ten reviews he's done for the site are graded like this: Roll Deep ft. Jodie Connor - "Good Times" 2; Christina Aguilera - "Not Myself Tonight" 5; Joy Orbison - "The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow" 6, M.I.A. - "Born Free" 3, Robyn - "Dancing on My Own" 3, Robyn - "Fembot" 0, The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio" 4, Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Bittersweet" 3, Kate Nash - "Do Wah Doo" 2, Marina and the Diamonds - "I Am Not a Robot" 1. That's an average of 2,9 per song.

Two song by one artist apart, that's a pretty low average for what I deem to be a decent spread in both sound and quality. And only twice during the five reviews before those does he go above 6, Hole receives an 8 for their/her "Pacific Coast Highway" and Nas w/Damien Marley a 10, while tracks by Kelis (4), Titus Andronicus (3), and LCD Soundsystem (0).

Said writer also considers the opening of TA's track "A More Perfect Union" faux-desperate, comparing it unfavorably to Hole (whose singer I find to be the biggest melodrama queen of all, and lately not very convincing at that.) Chuck Eddy, on the other hand, says it sounds like "Hold Steady if they really meant it". Hmmm.

Still, I've written about the zero grade before, so go read there for further info. What I'll say for now is this: if you consider LCD Soundsystems "Drunk Girls" - a pretty dumb, unoriginal, straight forward stomper, though not without a certain silly charm - only worthy of a 0, you're living a too sheltered life.

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