Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Deconstructionism for Dummies (i.e. music critics, apparently)

An interesting review-slash-metaphor-for-the-debasement-of-music-criticism can be found at PopMatters, for the new Annie album. All things considered, I get the vague impression that the writer dislikes the record mainly on principle, but his arguments with regard to the consumerist nature of pop music and the insularity of the music journalism community ring reasonably true. Annie's ascent as a critics' darling does strike me as rather inexplicable (see especially: Pitchfork, which has been drooling all over her for the better part of a year).

The trouble with such post-modern criticism is that, as such, it doesn't provide any tenable solutions to the problems it points out. A system that champions fun-but-self-consciously-vapid music over technically-accomplished-but-self-consciously-serious music may indeed be a broken (or bruised) system, but I don't see how the situation can be changed, considering the corporate nature of the business, cultural sociology, et cetera. Or maybe it's just me.

Well, that's about enough hyphen- and parentheses-strewn writing for today. On a personal note, I'd rate Anniemal perhaps a 7 out of 10. But that might just be because it's summer time.


Blogger The Fresh Young MikeyD said...

You’re spot on. He dislikes the record on principal and took a damn long (albeit pretty well researched) essay defend that position.

But I think electronic dance music needs to be reviewed in context. I want to know if it is catchy enough to get people to storm the dance floor and if so will it stand up to repeated listens. When I’m out there on the dance floor I’m not in the mood, nor do I have the concentration to appreciate some poignant criticism on the social and political ills of our time. Give me a catchy beat and some pithy lyrics that match the fun music and you’ve satisfied me—it’s deceptively simple. That’s just what Annie’s done with Anniemal. I think that’s why she’s gotten support from not only the critics, but fellow musicians (the Rapture and James Murphy and Juan Maclean) who understand that’s not an easy task.

You also have to remember that Annie’s competing in the relatively uncrowded eurodance category, so when you compare her effort against the competition it’ll come out remarkably well than say a new entry into dancy rock new wave revival sub genre of indie rock, which is already crowded with Franz, the Bravery, the Killers, Maximo Park, Bloc Party, etc.

Although, Annie may be making “fun-but-self-consciously-vapid” eurodance music, I’d love to hear who’s making “technically-accomplished-but-self-consciously-serious” eurodance music. Not that I’d think that the latter would be preferable to the former, but I just can’t think of anybody who’s more rightfully entitled to the critical praise Annie’s been getting. The only name I hear mentioned in comparisons is Kylie and it’s not like she’s suffering from lack of exposure, plus I think Anniemal bested both Body Language and Fever.

Still you are on to something about Pitchfork. Those boys love their dance music. They aren’t afraid to say they love Britney’s toxic (which is a choice track) and they did name the Rapture’s Echoes as 2003’s album of the year. So I’d say they we’re already predisposed to liking Annie.

As per my score, Anniemal gets a solid nine on the ten scale and I have confidence that score will stand up till year’s end ‘cause I’ve been listening to the album for over six months. But then again I tend to be self-consciously vapid.

6/28/2005 12:54 a.m.  

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