Category: Journimalism

Music critics: Mindless sheep or sheepish twerps?


Most of the time, reading about "the future of music criticism in the Internet age" either makes me want to cry, throw something or slip into a catatonic state so I don't have to think about it any more. But our sister blog, Jacket Copy, has a sassy take on the issue from Henry Owings, the founder of Chunklet, the cranky, inspired zine that once provoked lots of industry gasps with its "Biggest A-holes in Rock" issue. Zines were what bloggers did before the Internet, by the way, and honestly, most of them took bigger risks than your average indie-rock kid posting MP3s in exchange for concert tickets.

It turns out Owings agrees (more on that in a sec). The Atlanta-based Renaissance Man has a book out, "The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture for Fans and Bands," which Jacket Copy describes as "a snarktastic set of hundreds of music-related 'commandments,' all bound in scripture-esque fake leather. (Sample: 'Few singers are allowed to drape scarves on microphone stands. You are not one of them.')"

Bad news for all those Stevie Nicks copycats out there.

Owings, in the interview with Christopher R. Weingarten (who's masochistically reviewing 1,000 albums on Twitter), explains his problems with bloggers:

My biggest gripe with online journos is their false sense of importance when they're oftentimes just regurgitating press releases and tour dates. Of course, that mindless mentality is what many labels love. Me? I just find there to be a negligible amount of talent in what passes as a blogger in this modern age. What ever happened to attitude? What ever happened to opinions? What happened to pissing off advertisers? What happened to alienating readers? What happened to having fun? Sadly, I believe that the new boss is the same as the old boss. I just wish and pray somebody would be out there stirring things up instead of following the herd of mindless sheep. But then again, when you have publicists that just needle you all day to write about their clients, it makes a blogger's job easy.

Fret not, Internet scribes; your print brothers and sisters don't get off so easy either. Read the full interview here at Jacket Copy.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Henry Owings. Credit: Ryan Russell

Quincy Jones in conversation with Pop & Hiss' Geoff Boucher

Quincy140 Will Quincy Jones be the first U.S. secretary of the Arts? The music icon has been a big proponent of adding a cabinet position to promote, preserve and protect the culture and arts of America, and last Sunday night , at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, the president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, called on President Obama to create the post.

Our very own Geoff Boucher, also of the fanboy blog Hero Complex, will ask if Jones would be interested in the job, and other questions, at a chat Thursday night at the Borders in Westwood. Jones will also be signing his book, "The Complete Quincy Jones."  We can't imagine this conversation will ever lag, but if so, just hum the "Star Wars" theme and that'll get Boucher pepped up again.

--Margaret Wappler

Boucher and Jones in Conversation at Borders, 1360 Westwood Blvd., Westwood. (310) 475-3444., 7 p.m. Thursday. Free.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Billy Joel and boomer critical hysteria

The worst singer ever?

The race for 2009's prize for Weirdest Piece of Music Writing already has a clear front-runner, courtesy of the ordinarily reasonable Ron Rosenbaum's attempt at a scorched Earth takedown of Billy Joel in Slate. In this 95 Theses of derision on the pride of Long Island, Rosenbaum breaks the tape at just under 2,000 words in parsing the fine hairs of why, exactly, Joel is the worst artist in pop music. OK, fair enough; he obviously hasn't heard Brokencyde yet, but that's a supportable barroom argument. Yet rarely has such a lengthy piece of criticism warranted such a tidal, nay, tectonic shrug of confusion as to why the essay needed to exist at all.

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