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Music journalism (or music criticism) is media
criticism Critique is a wikt:method, method of disciplined, systematic study of a written or oral discourse. Although critique is commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgment,Rodolphe Gasché (2007''The honor of thinking: critique, theory, ph ...
and reporting about music topics, including
popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.Popular Music. (2015). ''Funk & ...
,
classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consis ...
, and
traditional music Folk music is a music genre that includes #Traditional folk music, traditional folk music and the Contemporary folk music, contemporary genre that evolved from the former during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be cal ...

traditional music
. Journalists began writing about music in the eighteenth century, providing commentary on what is now regarded as classical music. In the 1960s, music journalism began more prominently covering popular music like
rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemical composition and the way in w ...
and
pop Pop or POP may refer to: Places * Gregorio Luperón International Airport (IATA code POP), Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic * Pop, a tributary of the river Jijia in eastern Romania * Poppleton railway station (station code), York, England People ...
after the breakthrough of
The Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the Cultural impact of the Beatles, most infl ...

The Beatles
. With the rise of the internet in the 2000s, music criticism developed an increasingly large online presence with music bloggers, aspiring music critics, and established critics supplementing
print media Mass media refers to a diverse array of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication Mass communication is the process of imparting and exchanging information Information can be thought of as the resolution ...
online. Music journalism today includes reviews of songs, albums and live concerts, profiles of
recording artists A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. A musician who records and releases music is known as a recording artist. According to the United States Employment Service The United States Employment Service (USES) is an ...
, and reporting of artist news and music events.


Origins in classical music criticism

Music journalism has its roots in
classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...
music criticism ''The Oxford Companion to Music ''The Oxford Companion to Music'' is a music reference book in the series of Oxford Companions produced by the Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of University of ...
, which has traditionally comprised the study, discussion, evaluation, and interpretation of music that has been composed and notated in a
score Score or scorer may refer to: *Test score, the result of an exam or test Business * Score Digital, now part of Bauer Radio#Score Digital, Bauer Radio * Score Entertainment, a former American trading card design and manufacturing company * Score ...

score
and the evaluation of the performance of classical songs and pieces, such as
symphonies A symphony is an extended musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melodies for a new song, which means that they only need to provide a chord chart to guide improvising musicians. Musi ...

symphonies
and
concerto A concerto (; plural ''concertos'', or ''concerti'' from the Italian plural) is, from the Late Baroque (music), late Baroque era, mostly understood as an instrumental composition, written for one or more solo (music), soloists accompanied by an orc ...
s. Before about the 1840s, reporting on music was either done by musical journals, such as the ''
Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung The ''Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung'' (''General music newspaper'') was a German-language periodical published in the 19th century. Comini (2008) has called it "the foremost German-language musical periodical of its time". It reviewed musical eve ...
'' (founded by
Johann Friedrich Rochlitz Johann Friedrich Rochlitz (12 February 1769 – 16 December 1842) was a German playwright, musicologist Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis an ...
in 1798) and the ''
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ''Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ''(; en, New Journal of Music) is a music magazine, co-founded in Leipzig by Robert Schumann, his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke. Its first issue appeared on ...
'' (founded by
Robert Schumann Robert Schumann (; 8 June 181029 July 1856) was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic music, Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to p ...

Robert Schumann
in 1834), and in London journals such as ''
The Musical Times ''The Musical Times'' is an academic journal An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which Scholarly method, scholarship relating to a particular list of academic disciplines, academic discipline is published. Academic journ ...
'' (founded in 1844 as ''The Musical Times and Singing-class Circular''); or else by reporters at general newspapers where music did not form part of the central objectives of the publication. An influential English 19th-century music critic, for example, was
James William Davison James William Davison (5 October 1813 – 24 March 1885) was an English journalist, known as the music critic of ''The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in ...

James William Davison
of ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its si ...
.'' The composer
Hector Berlioz Louis-Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer and conductor. His output includes orchestral works such as the '' Symphonie fantastique'' and ''Harold en Italie, Harold in Italy'', choral pieces ...

Hector Berlioz
also wrote reviews and criticisms for the Paris press of the 1830s and 1840s. Modern
art music Art music (alternatively called classical music, cultivated music, serious music, and canonic music) is music considered to be of high aesthetic value. It typically implies advanced structural and theoretical considerationsJacques Siron, "Musiq ...
journalism is often informed by
music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human soci ...
consideration of the many diverse elements of a musical piece or performance, including (as regards a
musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melodies for a new song, which means that they only need to provide a chord chart to guide improvising musicians. Musical composition can refer to an Originality, orig ...
) its form and style, and for performance, standards of technique and expression. These standards were expressed, for example, in journals such as ''
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ''Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik ''(; en, New Journal of Music) is a music magazine, co-founded in Leipzig by Robert Schumann, his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke. Its first issue appeared on ...
'' founded by
Robert Schumann Robert Schumann (; 8 June 181029 July 1856) was a German composer, pianist, and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic music, Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law, intending to p ...

Robert Schumann
, and are continued today in the columns of serious
newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most ...

newspaper
s and journals such as ''
The Musical Times ''The Musical Times'' is an academic journal An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which Scholarly method, scholarship relating to a particular list of academic disciplines, academic discipline is published. Academic journ ...
''.Bujić, Bojan (n.d.), "Criticism of Music" in ''The Oxford Companion to Music'',
Oxford Music Online ''The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'' is an encyclopedic dictionary Title page from the 1894 four volume version of Robert Hunter's ''The Encyclopædic Dictionary''. An encyclopedic dictionary typically includes many short list ...
.
Several factors—including growth of education, the influence of the
Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of that era ** Romantic poetry, of that era ** Romanticism in science, of that er ...
movement generally and in music, popularization (including the 'star-status' of many performers such as
Liszt Franz Liszt (; hu, Liszt Ferencz, link=no, in modern usage ''Liszt Ferenc'' ;Liszt's Hungarian passport spelled his given name as "Ferencz". An orthographic reform of the Hungarian language in 1922 (which was 36 years after Liszt's death) cha ...

Liszt
and Paganini), among others—led to an increasing interest in music among non-specialist journals, and an increase in the number of critics by profession of varying degrees of competence and integrity. The 1840s could be considered a turning point, in that music critics after the 1840s generally were not also practicing musicians. However, counterexamples include
Alfred Brendel Alfred Brendel KBE (born 5 January 1931) is an Austrian classical pianist A pianist () is an individual musician who plays the piano. Since most forms of Western music can make use of the piano, pianists have a wide Piano repertoire, repertoire ...
,
Charles Rosen Charles Welles Rosen (May 5, 1927December 9, 2012) was an American pianist and writer on music. He is remembered for his career as a concert pianist, for his recordings, and for his many writings, notable among them the book ''The Classical Styl ...

Charles Rosen
,
Paul Hindemith Paul Hindemith aged 28 Paul Hindemith (; 16 November 189528 December 1963) was a prolific German composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European lang ...
, and
Ernst Krenek Ernst Heinrich Krenek (, August 23, 1900 – December 22, 1991) was an Austrian, later American, composer of Czech origin. He explored atonality and other Contemporary classical music, modern styles and wrote a number of books, including ''Music H ...
; all of whom were modern practitioners of the classical music tradition who also write (or wrote) on music.


Classical

In the early 1980s, a decline in the quantity of classical criticism began occurring "when classical-music criticism visibly started to disappear" from the media. At that time, leading newspapers still typically employed a chief music critic, while magazines such as ''Time'' and ''Vanity Fair'' also employed classical music critics. But by the early 1990s, classical critics were dropped in many publications, in part due to "a decline of interest in classical music, especially among younger people". Also of concern in classical music journalism was how American reviewers can write about ethnic and folk music from cultures other than their own, such as Indian
raga A ''raga'' or ''raag'' (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic languag ...

raga
s and traditional Japanese works. In 1990, the World Music Institute interviewed four ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 130 Pulit ...
'' music critics who came up with the following criteria on how to approach ethnic music: # A review should relate the music to other kinds of music that readers know, to help them understand better what the program was about. # "The performers houldbe treated as human beings and their music houldbe treated as human activity rather than a mystical or mysterious phenomenon." # The review should show an understanding of the music's cultural backgrounds and intentions. A key finding in a 2005 study of arts journalism in America was that the profile of the "average classical music critic is a white, 52-year old male, with a graduate degree". Demographics indicated that the group was 74% male, 92% white, and 64% had earned a graduate degree. One critic of the study pointed out that because all newspapers were included, including low-circulation regional papers, the female representation of 26% misrepresented the actual scarcity, in that the "large US papers, which are the ones that influence public opinion, have virtually no women classical music critics", with the notable exceptions of
Anne Midgette Anne Midgette is an American journalist and classical music critic. Biography Midgette is a 1986 graduate of Yale University Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American coll ...
in the ''New York Times'' and Wynne Delacoma in the ''Chicago Sun-Times''. In 2007, ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 130 Pulit ...

The New York Times
'' wrote that classical music criticism, which it characterized as "a high-minded endeavor that has been around at least as long as newspapers", had undergone "a series of hits in recent months" with the elimination, downgrading, or redefinition of critics' jobs at newspapers in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and elsewhere, citing ''
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
'' magazine's Peter G. Davis, "one of the most respected voices of the craft, said he had been forced out after 26 years".Wakin, Daniel J., "Newspapers Trimming Classical Critics", ''The New York Times'', June 9, 2007. Viewing "robust analysis, commentary and reportage as vital to the health of the art form", ''The New York Times'' stated in 2007 that it continued to maintain "a staff of three full-time classical music critics and three freelancers", noting also that classical music criticism had become increasingly available on blogs, and that a number of other major newspapers "still have full-time classical music critics", including (in 2007) the ''
Los Angeles Times The ''Los Angeles Times'' (abbreviated as ''LA Times'') is a daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a wh ...

Los Angeles Times
'', ''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is ...

The Washington Post
'', ''
The Baltimore Sun ''The Baltimore Sun'' is the largest general-circulation daily newspaper based in Maryland Maryland ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, ...
'', ''
The Philadelphia Inquirer ''The Philadelphia Inquirer'' is a public-benefit corporation Public-benefit corporation is a term that has different meanings in different jurisdictions. In some cases it is the technical term used for a traditional nonprofit charity or religi ...

The Philadelphia Inquirer
'', and ''
The Boston Globe ''The Boston Globe'' is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publications that a ...

The Boston Globe
''.


Popular


20th century rock criticism

Music writers only started "treating pop and rock music seriously" in 1964 "after the breakthrough of
the Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the Cultural impact of the Beatles, most infl ...

the Beatles
". In their book ''Rock Criticism from the Beginning'', Ulf Lindberg and his co-writers say that rock criticism appears to have been "slower to develop in the U.S. than in England". One of the early British music magazines, ''
Melody Maker ''Melody Maker'' was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest. It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester- ...
'', complained in 1967 about how "newspapers and magazines are continually hammering .e., attacking
pop music Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms ''popular music'' and ''pop music'' are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all m ...
". From 1964, ''Melody Maker'' led its rival publications in terms of approaching music and musicians as a subject for serious study rather than merely entertainment. Staff reporters such as
Chris Welch Chris Welch (born 12 November 1941) is an English music journalist, critic, and author who is best known for his work from the late 1960s as a reporter for ''Melody Maker'', ''Musicians Only'', and ''Kerrang!''. He is the author of over 40 music boo ...
and
Ray Coleman Ray Coleman (15 June 1937, Leicester – 10 September 1996, Shepperton) was a British author and music journalist. Career Coleman was the former editor-in-chief of ''Melody Maker'' known for his biographies of The Beatles. Besides ''Melody Make ...
applied a perspective previously reserved for jazz artists to the rise of American-influenced local rock and pop groups, anticipating the advent of rock critics. Among Britain's broadsheet newspapers, pop music gained exposure in the arts section of ''
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its si ...
'' when William Mann, the paper's
classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consis ...
critic, wrote an appreciation of the Beatles in December 1963. In early 1965, ''
The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper Sunday editions, published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers ''The Guardian'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', whose parent company Guardian Media Group, Guardian ...

The Observer
'', the country's highbrow Sunday newspaper, signalled a reversal of the establishment's cultural snobbery towards pop music by appointing
George Melly Alan George Heywood Melly (17 August 1926 – 5 July 2007) was an English jazz and blues singer, critic, writer, and lecturer. From 1965 to 1973 he was a film and television critic for ''The Observer'' and lectured on art history, with an emphasis ...
as its "critic of pop culture". Following
Tony Palmer Tony Palmer (born 29 August 1941)IMDb: Tony Palmer
Retrieved 24 September 2011
is a British film direct ...

Tony Palmer
's arrival at ''The Observer'', the first daily newspaper to employ a dedicated rock critic was ''
The Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gua ...

The Guardian
'', with the appointment of Geoffrey Cannon in 1968. ''Melody Maker''s writers advocated the new forms of pop music of the late 1960s. "By 1999, the 'quality' press was regularly carrying reviews of popular music gigs and albums", which had a "key role in keeping pop" in the public eye. As more pop music critics began writing, this had the effect of "legitimating pop as an art form"; as a result, "newspaper coverage shifted towards pop as music rather than pop as social phenomenon". In the world of pop music criticism, there has tended to be a quick turnover. The "pop music industry" expects that any particular rock critic will likely disappear from popular view within five years; in contrast, according to author Mark Fenster, the "stars" of rock criticism are more likely to have long careers with "book contracts, featured columns, and editorial and staff positions at magazines and newspapers". Author Bernard Gendron writes that in the United States "the emergence of a 'serious' rock press and the rock critic" began in 1966, presaged by Robert Shelton, the
folk music Folk music is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and ti ...

folk music
critic for ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 130 Pulit ...

The New York Times
'', writing articles praising the Beatles and
Bob Dylan Robert Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author and visual artist. Often regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Dylan has been a major figure in popular culture during a care ...

Bob Dylan
, the last of whom had just embraced rock 'n' roll by performing with electric backing at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Paul Williams, an eighteen-year-old student, launched the pop journal ''
Crawdaddy! ''Crawdaddy'' was an American rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, developing into a range of different styles in the mid-1960s and late ...
'' in February 1966; in June, Richard Goldstein, a recent graduate and
New Journalism New Journalism is a style of news writing and journalism, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, that uses literary techniques deemed unconventional at the time. It is characterized by a subjective perspective, a literary style reminiscent of long-form ...
writer, debuted his "Pop Eye" column in ''
The Village Voice ''The Village Voice'' was an American news and culture paper, known for being the country's first alternative newsweekly. Founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher, John Wilcock, and Norman Mailer, the ''Voice'' began as a platform for the cre ...

The Village Voice
'', which Gendron describes as "the first regular column on rock 'n' roll ... to appear in an established cultural publication". Rock journalist
Clinton Heylin Clinton Heylin (born 8 April 1960) is an English author who has written extensively about popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and style ...
, in his role as editor of ''The Penguin Book of Rock & Roll Writing'', cites "the true genesis of rock criticism" to the emergence of ''Crawdaddy!'' Lindberg et al. say that, while Williams is widely considered to be the first American rock critic, he "nevertheless looked to England for material". According to Gendron, Goldstein's most significant early pieces were a "manifesto" on rock 'n' roll and "pop aestheticism", and a laudatory assessment of the Beatles' ''
Revolver .357 Magnum The .357 Smith & Wesson Magnum, .357 S&W Magnum, .357 Magnum, or 9×33mmR as it is known in unofficial metric designation, is a smokeless powder Smokeless powder is a type of propellant used in firearms and artillery that produc ...
'' album. Published in late August, the latter article provided "the first substantial rock review devoted to one album to appear in any nonrock magazine with accreditory power". Whereas Williams could be sure of a sympathetic readership, given the nature of his publication, Goldstein's task was to win over a more highbrow readership to the artistic merits of contemporary pop music. At this time, both Goldstein and Williams gained considerable renown in the cultural mainstream and were the subject of profile articles in ''
Newsweek ''Newsweek'' is an American weekly news magazine '' 2512'', a monthly news magazine published in Réunion. A news magazine is a typed, printed, and published magazine, radio or television program, usually published weekly, consisting of art ...
''. The emergence of rock journalism coincided with an attempt to position rock music, particularly the Beatles' work, in the American cultural landscape. The critical discourse was further heightened by the respectful coverage afforded the genre in mainstream publications such as ''Newsweek'', ''
Time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existence and event (philosophy), events that occur in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component qua ...
'' and ''
Life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have Death ...
'' in the months leading up to and following the release of the Beatles' '' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'' album in June 1967. Within this discourse,
Richard Meltzer Richard Meltzer (born May 10, 1945, New York City) is a rock critic, performer, and writer. He is considered by some rock historians to be the first to write real analysis of rock and roll and is credited with inventing "rock criticism". Biograp ...
, in an essay for ''Crawdaddy!'' in March, challenged the highbrow aesthetic of rock proposed by Goldstein. The latter's mixed review of ''Sgt. Pepper'' in ''The New York Times'' was similarly the subject of journalistic debate, and invited reprisals from musicologists, composers and cultural commentators. Among other young American writers who became pop columnists following Goldstein's appointment were
Robert Christgau Robert Thomas Christgau (; born April 18, 1942) is an American music journalist Music journalism (or music criticism) is media criticism and reporting about music topics, including popular music, classical music, and traditional music. Journal ...

Robert Christgau
(at ''
Esquire Esquire (, ; abbreviated Esq.) is usually a courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of nobility, the titles used by children ...
'', from June 1967),
Ellen Willis Ellen Jane Willis (December 14, 1941 – November 9, 2006) was an American left-wing Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political phil ...

Ellen Willis
(''
The New Yorker ''The New Yorker'' is an American weekly magazine featuring journalism Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the "news of the day" and that informs society ...

The New Yorker
'', March 1968) and
Ellen Sander Ellen is a female given name, a diminutive of Elizabeth Elizabeth or Elisabeth may refer to: People * Elizabeth (given name), a female given name (including people with that name) * Elizabeth (biblical figure), mother of John the Baptist Ships ...
('' Saturday Review'', October 1968). Christgau was the "originator of the 'consumer guide' approach to pop music reviews", an approach that was designed to help readers decide whether to buy a new album. According to popular music academic Roy Shuker in 1994, music reference books such as ''
The Rolling Stone Record Guide ''The Rolling Stone Album Guide'', previously known as ''The Rolling Stone Record Guide'', is a book that contains professional music reviews written and edited by staff members from ''Rolling Stone ''Rolling Stone'' is an American monthly mag ...
'' and '' Christgau's Record Guide'' played a role in the rise of rock critics as tastemakers in the music industry, "constructing their own version of the traditional
high High may refer to: People with the name * High (surname) Science, technology and economics * Height * High (atmospheric), a high-pressure area * High (computability), a quality of a Turing degree, in computability theory * High (technical analy ...
/
low culture Low or LOW or lows, may refer to: People * Low (surname), listing people surnamed Low Places * Low, Quebec, Canada * Low, Utah, United States * Lo Wu station (MTR code LOW), Hong Kong; a rail station * Salzburg Airport (ICAO airport code: LOWS ...
split, usually around notions of artistic integrity, authenticity, and the nature of commercialism". These review collections, Shuker continues, "became bibles in the field, establishing orthodoxies as to the relative value of various styles or genres and pantheons of artists. Record collectors and enthusiasts, and specialisation and secondhand record shops, inevitably have well-thumbed copies of these and similar volumes close at hand." In the realm of rock music, as in that of classical music, (citing many examples of insults in both directions) critics have not always been respected by their subjects.
Frank Zappa Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American musician, singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader. His work is characterized by wikt:nonconformity, nonconformity, Free improvisation, free-form improvisation, ...

Frank Zappa
declared that "Most rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, for people who can't read." In the
Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1985. When they signed to Geffen Records in 1986, the band comprised vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash (musician), Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, b ...
song "
Get in the Ring "Get in the Ring" is the fifth song on the Guns N' Roses Guns N' Roses, often abbreviated as GNR, is an American hard rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1985. When they signed to Geffen Records in 1986, the band comprised vocali ...
",
Axl Rose W. Axl Rose (born William Bruce Rose Jr.; raised as William Bruce Bailey; born February 6, 1962) is an American musician, singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for being the lead vocalist and lyricist of the hard rock Hard ...
verbally attacked critics who gave the band negative reviews because of their actions on stage; such critics as
Andy Secher Andy may refer to: People * Andy (given name), including a list of people and fictional characters * Horace Andy (born 1951), Jamaican roots reggae songwriter and singer born Horace Hinds * Katja Andy (1907–2013), German-American pianist and pia ...
, Mick Wall and Bob Guccione Jr. were mentioned by name.


Critical trends of the 21st century


2000s

In the 2000s, online music bloggers began to supplement, and to some degree displace, music journalists in print media. In 2006, Martin Edlund of the ''New York Sun'' criticized the trend, arguing that while the "Internet has democratized music criticism, it seems it's also spread its penchant for uncritical hype".Edlund, Martin
"Not All They Were Blogged Up To Be"
''The New York Sun''. June 6, 2006.
Carl Wilson (writer), Carl Wilson described "an upsurge in pro-pop sentiment among critics" during the early 2000s, writing that a "new generation [of music critics] moved into positions of critical influence" and then "mounted a wholesale critique against the syndrome of measuring all popular music by the norms of rock culture". ''Slate (magazine), Slate'' magazine writer Jody Rosen discussed the 2000s-era trends in pop music criticism in his article "The Perils of Poptimism". Rosen noted that much of the debate is centered on a perception that rock critics regard rock as "normative ... the standard state of popular music ... to which everything else is compared".Rosen, Jody
"The Perils of Poptimism"
''Slate'' magazine. May 9, 2006.
At a 2006 pop critic conference, attendees discussed their "guilty pop pleasures, reconsidering musicians (Tiny Tim (musician), Tiny Tim, Dan Fogelberg, Phil Collins) and genres (blue-eyed soul, Elevator music, Muzak)" which rock critics have long dismissed as lightweight, commercial music. Rosen stated that "this new critical paradigm" is called "popism" – or, more evocatively (and goofily), "poptimism". The poptimism approach states: "Pop (and, especially, hip-hop) producers are as important as rock auteurs, Beyoncé is as worthy of serious consideration as Bruce Springsteen, and ascribing shame to pop pleasure is itself a shameful act." In 2008, Ann Powers of the ''Los Angeles Times'' argued that pop music critics "have always been contrarians", because "pop music [criticism] rose up as a challenge to taste hierarchies, and has remained a pugilistic, exhibitionist business throughout pop's own evolution".Ann Powers, Powers, Ann
"Bratty by nature"
''Los Angeles Times''. July 27, 2008.
Powers claimed that "[i]nsults, rejections of others' authority, bratty assertions of superior knowledge and even threats of physical violence are the stuff of which pop criticism is made", while at the same time, the "best [pop criticism] also offers loving appreciation and profound insights about how music creates and collides with our everyday realities". She stated that pop criticism developed as a "slap at the establishment, at publications such as the hippie homestead ''Rolling Stone'' and the rawker outpost ''Creem''", adding that the "1980s generation" of post-punk indie rockers had in the mid-2000s "been taken down by younger 'poptimists,' who argue that lovers of underground rock are elitists for not embracing the more multicultural mainstream". Powers likened the poptimist critics' debates about bands and styles to a "scrum in rugby", in that "[e]verybody pushes against everybody else, and we move forward in a huge blob of vehement opinion and mutual judgment".


2010s

Music critic and indie pop musician Scott Miller (pop musician), Scott Miller, in his 2010 book ''Music: What Happened?'', suggested, "Part of the problem is that a lot of vital pop music is made by 22-year-olds who enjoy shock value, and it's pathetic when their elders are cornered into unalloyed reverence". Miller suggested that critics could navigate this problem by being prepared "to give young artists credit for terrific music without being intimidated into a frame of mind where dark subject matter always gets a passing grade", stating that a critic should be able to call a young artist "a musical genius" while "in the same breath declaring that his or her lyrics are morally objectionable." Reacting to the state of pop music criticism, Miller identified a major issue as critics' failure to "credit an artist with getting a feeling across", specifically pointing out critic Lester Bangs as "a ball of emotion at all times", who nonetheless "never really related to his favorite artists as people who develop a skill of conveying feelings. You don't feel that he comfortably acknowledged being moved as a result of their honest work. Artists in his writing were vaguely ridiculous, fascinating primitives, embodying an archetype by accident of nature." ''Jezebel (website), Jezebel''s Tracy Moore, in 2014, suggested that one of the virtues of writing about how music made one feel, in contrast with linking it to the sounds of other artists, was to avoid excluding readers who may not have musical knowledge as broad as that of the writer. In contrast, Miller believed that analytical readers would appreciate "more music talk in music criticism", suggesting that "sensitively modest doses" of musical analysis would provide helpful support for a conclusion "that great melody writing occurred or it didn't". For example, Miller noted that critics rarely "identify catchy melodies as specific passages within a song", in the way that working musicians might discuss "the A-minor in the second measure of the chorus". Stevie Chick, a writer who teaches music journalism at City University London, said, "I think more than any other journalism, music journalism has got a really powerful creative writing quotient to it." Tris McCall of the ''Newark Star-Ledger'' discussed his approach to music criticism in a 2010 interview, stating, "Most of us [critics] begin writing about music because we love it so much. We can't wait to tell our friends and neighbors about what we're hearing." According to McCall, even over the course of a long professional career, the enthusiastic impulse to share "never fades". McCall expressed his interest in "examining why people respond to what they respond to. I hazard guesses. Sometimes I'm wrong, but I hope I'm always provocative." In the 2010s, some commentators noted and criticized the lack of negative reviews in music journalism. Saul Austerlitz from the ''New York Times Magazine'' noted that unlike other art forms, "music is now effectively free. Music criticism’s former priority — telling consumers what to purchase — has been rendered null and void for most fans." He argued that this and "clickbait, click culture" causes music critics to act as "cheerleaders" for existing stars. The 2010s saw a rise of music critics who used YouTube and social media as their platform. According to ''Vice (magazine), Vice'' magazine's Larry Fiztmaurice in 2016, Twitter is "perhaps the last public space for unfettered music criticism in an increasingly anti-critical landscape". In 2020, ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''NYT'' or ''NY Times'') is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership. Founded in 1851, the ''Times'' has since won List of Pulitzer Prizes awarded to The New York Times, 130 Pulit ...

The New York Times
'' described YouTuber Anthony Fantano as "probably the most popular music critic left standing."


Gender and race theory

Applying critical theory (''e.g.'', critical gender studies and critical race theory) to music journalism, some academic writers suggest that mutual disrespect between critics and artists is one of many negative effects of rockism. In 2004, critic Kelefa Sanneh defined "rockism" as "idolizing the authentic old legend (or underground hero) while mocking the latest pop star". Music journalism "infected" with rockism has become, according to Yale University, Yale professor Daphne Brooks, a challenge "for those of us concerned with historical memory and popular music performance". Simon Frith said that pop and rock music "are closely associated with gender; that is, with conventions of male and female behaviour".Frith, Simon, "Pop Music" in S. Frith, W. Stray and J. Street, ''Cambridge Companions to Music, The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock'' (Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 226. According to Holly Kruse, both popular music articles and academic articles about pop music are usually written from "masculine subject positions". Kembrew McLeod analyzed terms used by critics to differentiate between pop music and rock, finding a gendered dichotomy in descriptions of "'serious,' 'raw,' and 'sincere' rock music as distinguished from 'trivial', 'fluffy,' and 'formulaic' pop music". McLeod found that a likely cause of this dichotomy was the lack of women writing in music journalism: "By 1999, the number of female editors or senior writers at ''Rolling Stone'' hovered around a whopping 15%, [while] at ''Spin (magazine), Spin'' and ''Ray Gun (magazine), Raygun'', [it was] roughly 20%." Criticism associated with gender was graphically discussed in a 2014 ''Jezebel (website), Jezebel'' article about the struggles of Women in music#Music critics, women in music journalism, written by music critic Tracy Moore, previously an editor at the ''Nashville Scene''. Moore described how another female music blogger, an "admitted outsider" who threatened no stereotypes, was greeted with enthusiasm by men, in contrast with Moore's own experiences as a self-described "insider" who was nevertheless expected to "prove" or "earn" her way into a male-dominated journalism scene. According to Anwen Crawford, music critic for Australia's ''The Monthly'', the "problem for women [popular music critics] is that our role in popular music was codified long ago"; as a result, "most famous rock-music critics – Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, Nick Kent – are all male". Crawford points to "[t]he record store, the guitar shop, and now social media: when it comes to popular music, these places become stages for the display of male prowess", and adds, "Female expertise, when it appears, is repeatedly dismissed as fraudulent. Every woman who has ever ventured an opinion on popular music could give you some variation [of this experience] ...and becoming a recognized 'expert' (a musician, a critic) will not save [women] from accusations of fakery." Daphne Brooks, in her 2008 article "The Write to Rock: Racial Mythologies, Feminist Theory, and the Pleasures of Rock Music Criticism", wrote that in order to restructure music criticism, one must "focus on multiple ''counter''narratives" to break away from racial and gender biases as embodied in "contemporary cultural fetishizations of white male performative virtuosity and latent black male innovations". Brooks focused on "the ways that rock music criticism has shaped and continues to shape our understandings of racialized music encounters, and what are the alternative stories that we might tell". Brooks pointed to Christgau's statement that, after the Beatles' arrival in America, "rock criticism embraced a dream or metaphor of perpetual revolution. Worthwhile bands were supposed to change people's lives, preferably for the better. If they failed to do so, that meant they didn't matter." Unsurprisingly, according to Brooks, "the history of women who've been sustaining a tradition of writing about rock since the 60's" has been "largely hidden in American culture". Brooks theorized that perceptions of female artists of color might be different if there were more women of color writing about them, and praised
Ellen Willis Ellen Jane Willis (December 14, 1941 – November 9, 2006) was an American left-wing Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political phil ...

Ellen Willis
as a significant feminist critic of rock's classic era. Willis, who was a columnist for the ''The New Yorker, New Yorker'' from 1968 to 1975, believed society could be enlightened by the "ecstatic experience" of visions expressed through music's rhythm and noise and that such joy would lead people to different ways of sharing.Ann Powers, Powers, Ann
"Spy in the House of Love"
/ref> Brooks wrote that "the confluence of cultural studies, rock studies, and third wave feminist critical studies makes it possible now more than ever to continue to critique and reinterrogate the form and content of popular music histories". In Brooks' view, "By bravely breaking open dense equations of gender, class, power, and subcultural music scenes", music journalists, activists and critics such as Ellen Willis have been "able to brilliantly, like no one before [them], challenge the intellectual and political activism and agency" of the entire music industry.


See also

* List of chief music critics *Music criticism *Musicology *Musicology#Popular music studies, Popular music studies *List of writers on popular music


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Music Journalism Music journalism, Occupations in music