Friday, August 4, 2023


 The Spectator (Australia) has wondered out loud if rock criticism, an intriguing and snarking subcatagory of journalism is all but spent. They cite no less an authority than Ed Sheeran to suggest the waning days of music opinion mongering are in the late stages.  Even so, this is more a matter of wondering what the interest in announcing something as officially deceased and irrelevant? These are the sort of pieces that get written late at night because they can be very light on hard facts supporting the assertion, can be allowed to be vague and irritatinging in their collective inability to really take a stance. It's a race against deadline and the assured result is sloppy thinking. Now and then a writer decides to pad his required number of articles he has committed to submit to his editor by taking the pulse of a cultural expression and opining whether the activity is dead. Is theater dead? How about rock and roll? Or jazz, really, is that still a thing? And painting, Christ, painting is as dead as a boot, no? Cinema is dead, we know, and movie theaters are going away?..You get the idea. Some things do, of course, seem to vanish, such as vinyl records and eventually CDs, though they have not completely been eradicated: both have made a comeback among noticeable consumer subgroups. But both things were quickly supplanted when digital formats and the internet trampled the established ways of acquiring music. We know, however, that declarations that specific art forms, from literature to the visual arts, are dead seem more wishful thinking , a hot take of cultural trends that often enough begins with provocative headlines but towards the end of the various squibs that take this tack end up with no conclusion other than sighing “…we will see.” What we have are areas where newer ways of expression, getting news, advertising , expressing oneself poetically , et al, have new ways of coming into being, something that does not mean a death sentence for whatever came before. So this issue as to whether rock criticism is dead or dying? Death and dying are strong and sloppy terms to apply to anything that is ongoing, and I would think that as long as people buy music, they will want to read about it and talk about it and have disagreements about musical artists and the relative qualities involved in ones preferred measures of the Big Beat. Someone will write about a new album or a concert and someone else will read it and the dynamic continues anew. For the diminished role critics play in influencing consumers, well…we will see…

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