Everyone's a Critic... and it sucks!

One of life's many inevitabilities is criticism, and that applies whether you're a musician or garbageman; at some point in your life someone will criticize what you do and how you do it. It doesn't matter if the person offering up the critique is actually knowledgeable or not, virtually any comments section on the Internet should let you know that without any doubt.

I'm not sure when virtually everyone on YouTube became a sound engineer, but if you buy into what they're saying, just about everyone's new album sounds horrible. I mean, how dare these musicians think that they could possibly make music without the approval of masterful sound technicians like “JuggaKnotHead666” and the entirety of registered Metalsucks users?

While it's true that there are scads of online commentators ready to scoff at the tone of your drummer's kick or how loud your singer's vocals are, the truth is the majority of these people have never heard music before MP3s, much less ever stepped into a studio. In short, they don't have a clue of what they're talking about, but such is Internet anonymity.

Every time I read some slack-jawed, derp-tacular statement regarding guitar tone or songwriting prowess, I'm reminded of my own pursuit of what more-or-less passes as music journalism. As you may remember, I've mentioned how I don't want to ever be considered as a “real” music journalist. Not to say that there aren't plenty of intelligent, thoughtful writers out there speaking on music; it's just that most of them come across the same as any comment section, except with bigger words and slightly less typos.

Why do we even continue to bother with things like album reviews when most people just stream single songs from the Internet anyway? I've noticed a lot of people will just use their social media feed to find out whether they want to bother with downloading (legally or otherwise) someone's latest effort. The most accurate review in most people's minds is when a friend of theirs says something like “yeah, it's pretty good” or “terrible, don't bother”.

I have a feeling that most professional critics are fully aware of how relatively useless their opinions on music are so they basically just pump out a few hundred flowery words amounting to “it's not as good as their first one”. Then of course there's the mind-fuck of reading several paragraphs of a writer completely skewering an album only to get to the bottom and find that they gave it a seven out of ten. 

There's not much of a way to tell who is getting paid to write a good review and who's getting paid to be objective and honest. However, there is a plethora of writers who are just as passionate about music as any musician and spend hours fine-tuning every sentence in order to fully illustrate how good or bad an artist's latest attempt at artistic glory is; it's just too bad a lot of those people aren't getting paid. 

Ultimately, I'm not sure music should even really be criticized at all, that's right, even the really bad stuff. After all, the concept of a great album is purely subjective and furthermore, no matter how good or bad someone's music is, there is an audience for it. There's no honor or glory in taking a proverbial dump all over a collection of sounds that someone probably put a part of their soul into.

So I say to hell with criticism unless it's there to inspire positive change and I can assure you that no one in those comments sections and very few music journalists are actually attempting anything even remotely close to something positive. Besides, most musicians I know are self-critical enough without the barbs of strangers fresh out of music appreciation class tearing at a skin already worn thin by disapproving friends and relatives.

However, the only way to avoid criticism is to never create anything, and never strive for greatness in any endeavor. This is just short of impossible for someone who is passionate about their chosen medium, whether it be highly-sophisticated musical theater or Crust Punk. The hardest and perhaps most important part of putting your music, and part of yourself, out there under the watch of the public eye is learning to not only accept criticism, but not let it bother you. Society in general loves to nit-pick, criticize and ridicule; it's important for us to recognize and respond accordingly to what's done for the sake of being constructive and what's essentially just pointing and laughing.

No comments:

Post a Comment