Elitism in Pop Music

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Got put in touch with my inner elitist today. Tortoise on Warp Records....mmmm. The smarmy little bore inside me, the one who listens to the unlistenable, indulges in the incomprehensible, revels in the rare, had palpatations. This got me thinking. You know? I dont actually like this stuff *persay* and yet I buy it and let dwell on my shelf, so all the great unwashed who pass through my door dragging their muddy, debased feet through my abode can stand and stare in awe, as I sneer in contemptive disgust at their lack of knowledge on Herr Pop. So here we are peeps, what is, and take note, the most elitist pop moment in your life's back catalogue? It can be a record you've bought, an arguement youve initiated, a myth making lie you've spun etc. Be creative. Be truthful. Looking down all the way.

Stephen, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

i had a brief foray into the world of the dead c and their various side projects(gate, a handful of dust, russel/pieters/stapleton). thankfully, for me, their records garner large sums of money upon trade, especially the sun stabbed ep and hell is now love. i could not, now or ever really, admit to liking them but i thought the name was great and they were from new zealand and i loved the fact that everyone i played them for hated the dead c instantly.

keith, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Thinking that "... Baby One More Time" was a sign of increasing illiteracy in the culture. Yes, really. I must have been a Telegraph reader on the side two years ago :).

Robin Carmody, Friday, 23 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Deciding in 1991, when Cud managed to get a single into the top 75, that Indie was too popular and not obscure and kudos generating enough anymore, then vowing to get into obscure Belgian Techno. All motivated by that elitist need to like stuff no-one else has ever heard of.

willhelm casper, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Two basic problems:

i) I can't personally separate liking a record and thinking it's 'cool'. If I like a record, or the idea of a record, I tend to feel cool and smug about liking it, but the liking comes first.

ii) If somebody visits my house and starts looking through my record collection I make a mental note not to invite them back. It's boring.

That said there was a moment recently when I felt like a smug white post-liberal twat when listening to DJ Assault. But then the next time I played him I didn't, so that's OK.

I'm really interested in this whole elitism thing that's cropped up. What makes FT elitist? Do people really think we are? What does being elitist mean anyway? If you're buying records you don't actually like that strikes me as more 'foolish' than 'elitist'. I sometimes buy records which I think might be 'difficult' - is that what you're talking about? But that's not to show off, that's more to try and expand what I'm into, challenge my ears a bit. It's for me, not anyone else.

Tom, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

There's nothing elitist about liking 'Difficult Records' or even 'Obscure Records.' There's probably not even anything elitist about liking 'Difficult Records' or 'Obscure Records' BECAUSE they're 'Difficult Records' or 'Obscure Records'. (Though that does make you a twat.) Elitism only begins when you think that you're BETTER than someone else who doesn't like 'Difficult Records' or 'Obscure Records' or when you think that there is something intrinscally BETTER about the records.

Two further points: This means that everyone is to some extent an elitist, in a weak sense, simply by virtue of liking the records they like and not other records (or even by listening to some records, not other records) -- ie. 'taste' or 'preference' is a kind of a priori elitism. In other words, I don't think it's possible to not think the records you like aren't better than other records, because if you didn't, you wouldn't listen to them. QED. That said, it would also be important to distinguish this kind of passive or systemic elitism from an active elitism as suggested above.

Secondly, there is sometimes an assumption that liking 'Difficult Records' or 'Obscure Records' rather than (or as well as) 'Popular Records' makes someone an elitist per se. This seems to be a far more elitist argument, since it implies that 'Difficult Records' cannot be popular because most people cannot understand them. (Usually excepting the person making the assumption, who understands the records, but claims not to like them in order to make the other person appear elitist...)

alex thomson, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

This one happened just last night; I was walking down the hall and there was a couple walking towards me muttering and chatting... I overheard the guy ask who the lead singer for the Talking Heads was.

*tsk* David Byrne... Duh... *tsk*

And I just kept walking away shaking my head.

JM, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Elitism is when you use your musical preferences as a pedestal to stand on - or a stick to beat other people with. My sister's boyfriend enjoys Britney Spears (unironically) and he gets no sense of superiority out of it - in fact, I get the feeling that he's mildly embarrassed about it (he calls it "chicka-boom music"), though he shouldn't be. FT contributors, some of 'em, enjoy Britney Spears, and feel superior to people who listen to Travis (who I've never heard, BTW) as a result. Moreover, why one is fundamentally better than the other goes entirely unexplained ("Travis is pants" doesn't really count) - if you're uncool enough to ask, you'll never understand. Ergo, elitism. Replace Britney Spears with Godspeed You Black Emperor or Dismemberment Plan, and Travis with, say, Kid Rock, and you have your average indie web site, which is usually far more guilty of elitism than FT is.

Patrick, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I agree with the general aforementioned idea - it's not elitist to like something, no matter the reason, it's elitist to like something and then think that someone who dislikes it is stupid.

About that Britney Spears / Travis thing: I see what you mean, it's a lot of glib statements, generally. "Britney Spears new single beats the shit out of Travis's" is about the gist of it. So let me try to explain why *I'D* rather listen to Britney Spears. Travis are, to me, unconcionably dull. Dreadfully dull. They always sound like Oasis, a few years too late, gone through a complete dad-rock blender (maybe an Ocean Colour Scene blender? I haven't worked out which band it is yet). It's all very predictable and unsurprising and just not very good. Now, mind you, that being said, I can still grin at All I Wanna Do Is Rock (or whatever that song is called) because it's quite goofy. More of that, less of the dirgeyness...Also, keep in mind that I have a VERY UNFAIRLY PUT UPON label as anti-rock around here ;)

I'd really sooner listen to most any of the Britrock bands before Travis. At least Kula Shaker have some vaguely interesting touches. Travis is just very...oh. To me at least. They sound like every other English rock band. It's something that seems bland to my ears. Now someone else might come on and explain to me why it's not bland, and that's fair - different things for different people, etc. At least they're not Coldplay ;)

Britney, on the other hand, is equally unsurprising in terms of songwriting (though she does tend to have cleverer writers than her competitors), but it's the other little things in her songs: her vocal tics, the odd production values. Those make her songs interesting. Plus, her songs, while unsurprising, are generally a lot more "fun" to my ears plus I can dance to them, so I'd generally rather hear that. It's sort of like Eminem, if you don't like the voice, you won't like the song.

Ally, Saturday, 24 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Thanks, Ally. After giving enthusiastic props to Bruce Springsteen, I think you're no longer in any great danger of being labelled as anti-rock. Watch out for that dad-rock label though !

From what I've read about Travis, I get the impression that they would sound a little like Manic Street Preachers' This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours: very sincere in a U2 kind of way, anthemic and kinda dull.

Patrick, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

RE: Travis, that's a very good description except I'd describe their sound as less "full" than the Manics circa This is My Truth, i.e. less stringy bits, less "extra" touches besides the basics of guitars and drums. But yeah, anthemic, bad U2. That's the general vibe of it. Very dad-rockish, to use your term ;)

Ally, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

About the Britney/Travis thing (& I'm not saying I'm not elitist)

i) Travis did a cover of "...Baby One More Time" so a lot of the comparisons are based on the two approaches to the one song.

ii) Elitism of this kind is often based on a kind of oh, you listen to X and you've not even heard Y model. So for instance how can you like Elastica when you have not heard Wire. How can you think Green Day are good when there is the (unheard) Fugazi to contend with. Nu- Metal fans are fools who do not like old metal. etc. etc. It's a non- obscure trumped by more obscure model.

The Britney/Travis thing reverses this. There are likely to be very few people who haven't heard or formed an opinion on Britney, and so attacking people for not liking Britney is more attacking them for their tastes (which I think is an OK form of elitism if it is one at all) than for their ignorance (which I think is not).

Tom, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

The new Tortoise album is such a good example of this elitist argument . . . I've seen it on the shelves and thought to myself, "Even only three years ago, you would have been rushing out to buy that on the day of release." Now, I look at it and think, it's going to be all obscure wibbling and not a good melody in sight, isn't it? I'm on a melodic kick at the moment, which probably says more about me reaching a certain age and frame of mind than anything else. But I'm just not in the mood to be elitist, and I don't want the Tortoise album just to appear musically knowledgeable. No doubt I will buy it in a few weeks, when I've heard more tracks and suddenly it all makes sense.

Having said all that, if you want to appear elitist without getting a music collection of expensive rarities and non-entities, here's how to do it. Get yourself a friend who had a very sheltered and secluded childhood where they rarely got to see Top of the Pops, went to church a lot, and heard little more than Mozart and Beethoven. They'll take one look at your record collection, and think that your Travis CD is 'elitist' and the height of musical experimentation. You will then get to introduce them to stuff you consider to be mainstream, they'll be introduced to new music, and you'll feel very superior. Simple.

Vaughan, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

To me elitism always meant not liking the bands that were popular, going off a band once anyone else had heard of them, or being involved in musical oneupmanship. I think most people once they get past about 20 grow out of it...but then I don't have friends who are really that passionate about music so showing off my new favourite obscure band is really pointless. And plus it's pretty fun to go to a record store and buy Europes greatest hits and think you are sticking your fingers up at elitists! I wouldn't get the new Tortoise album now because they've always striked me as one of those bands that people should like, similar to Beck and Stereolab...So am I being elitist in my anti-elitist stance? Damn it! I'm totally confused now!

jel, Sunday, 25 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Does being out of touch make you elitist? I have heard these *Travis* and (less often) *Britney Spears* characters on occasion in the past, but not lately. I'm surprised that anyone is discussing them. When and where do you get to hear them?

I kind of liked the 'analytic' approach of the geezer Thomson. His sentences above are like tweezers.

Except not made of metal.

the pinefox, Wednesday, 28 February 2001 01:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

sixteen years pass...

nothing but eyerolls for all the people who championed musicians like Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake suddenly collectively determining that they're terrible people who make terrible music

(the blues version in his Broadway show) (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 05:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i dont even care about whether or not someone likes or hates their shit, on a personal level; i just hate the clear opportunism in their willingness to roll completely with the flow for their social media posts & "criticism," its just flat reflection of the status quo for handclap emoji praise

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 05:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It's unreal

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 05:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

like w so many of the people getting "angry" at justin on prince's behalf i just think i dont believe you. They clearly don't actually care! there's just no way. these ppl weren't buying prince albums before he died; even his beef w jt, while it made for a strange super bowl choice in some sense...Prince spent over a decade basically saying rap was not music, hes not infallible

i know there are ppl who are authentically feeling opprobrium and ppl who are feeling validated but 99% of what i see online feels more like ppl bending like a reed as trend winds shift

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 05:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Imagine what Twitter would do if Justin performed a halftime show in Minneapolis not even two years after his death and just didn't acknowledge it at all?!

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 05:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

How would he know?

Evan, Monday, 5 February 2018 05:25 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I also love someone who was on Star Search at age 11, was groomed and trained by both Disney and Lou Pearlman, and has a music career that spans nearly 20 years is now being held up as an example of "white mediocrity"

Like even if you think his music sucks Fatone's fat ones, it's pretty undeniable that he can, like, sing and dance on a purely technical level.

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 05:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I was actually just thinking earlier that back in like 2011-2013 Justin Timberlake was seen as this amazing, forward-thinking pop star by mainstream critics hopping on the poptimism bandwagon and overrating the shit out of futuresex/lovesounds. now he gets dragged all the time

(For the record fs/ls is really good but come on people it falls off in its second half)

josh az (2011nostalgia), Monday, 5 February 2018 05:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

its not FS/LS that was overrated circa 2013 it was 2020 experience which was EVERYWHERE and overrated

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 05:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

justin, taylor... they're no mark e smith

sleepingbag, Monday, 5 February 2018 05:51 (two weeks ago) Permalink

p4k review is hilarious

How much of his career should we chalk up to fortune, privilege, and an essential malleability?

niels, Monday, 5 February 2018 07:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Instead of surging forward with a new vision for pop music, it leans on the sounds and genres that have become American comfort food: country, soul, funk, disco, gospel.

niels, Monday, 5 February 2018 07:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

"What's the deal with this pop life and when is it gonna fade out?" –poptimists

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 07:51 (two weeks ago) Permalink

When you skate through your life unscathed, you accumulate hubris.

niels, Monday, 5 February 2018 07:53 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Elitism in reactions to reactions to celebrities

Alderweireld Horses (darraghmac), Monday, 5 February 2018 08:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

can you please find a better album to wage your displaced /pol/ ethics in music journalism campaign over than this one

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Monday, 5 February 2018 15:31 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Real poptimists don't change their opinions on anything.

self-clowning oven (Murgatroid), Monday, 5 February 2018 15:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between poptimistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of poptimism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down — they are truly down.

drugs don't kill people, poppers do (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 February 2018 15:58 (two weeks ago) Permalink

your displaced /pol/ ethics in music journalism campaign

fuck off with this shit

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 16:11 (two weeks ago) Permalink

sorry. that was rude of me. but I don't appreciate being called a fascist/gamergater. i don't give a fuck about the new JT or TS albums, it just doesn't seem to me like their music or personalities have actually gotten worse. deej is otm re: the clear opportunism in their willingness to roll completely with the flow for their social media posts & "criticism"

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 16:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

deej otm, this whole thing has been v depressing

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Monday, 5 February 2018 16:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

yep

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 5 February 2018 16:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

haters gonna say it's 'gate

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 16:27 (two weeks ago) Permalink

crut otm

Algerian Goalkeeper (Odysseus), Monday, 5 February 2018 16:30 (two weeks ago) Permalink

sorry. that was rude of me. but I don't appreciate being called a fascist/gamergater.

I don't appreciate thinly-veiled "music criticism was great when only reasonable men like me did it and terrible now that the SJWs who don't care about music have taken over" commentary, so I guess we're even

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I don't know if I'm helping, but it sucked then too

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 17:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

1. I am not a music critic 2. the exact same people who propped up these artists are the ones who are suddenly jumping ship 3. I support social justice; you are apparently confusing me with someone else

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

and Whiney otm, rockist music critics suck too

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i just like how buying Tortoise on Warp apparently made you a top tier savant in 2001

drugs don't kill people, poppers do (Noodle Vague), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

People are jumping ship. Hmm, let's see herE:

People dislike the new Taylor Swift album. Which is the most likely explanation?

A) Taylor Swift has radically changed her sound in the past decade and fully embraced the most purposefully dislikable tabloid version of her personality.
B) They don't care about music, unlike me.

People dislike the new Justin Timberlake album. Which is the most likely explanation?

A) Justin Timberlake has made three albums in a row that are loudly, embarrassingly terrible at worst and retreads at best.
B) They don't care about music, unlike me. And they're not REAL Prince fans. I bet they can't name three of Prince's albums.

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

point taken.

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Yeah Katherine ... that’s not at all what’s happening here.

i dont even care about whether or not someone likes or hates their shit, on a personal level; i just hate the clear opportunism

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:36 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Taylor Swift embracing her tabloid persona in that one video really affects how the music sounds

Whiney G. Weingarten, Monday, 5 February 2018 17:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I don’t like the Timberlake albums either! This is selective amplification of what a lot of ppl see as the new woke, not some new genuine engagement w politics

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:38 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm definitely not a music critic, and I don't seek out music criticism anymore, but I follow the big pop event album threads on ILM and the discourse surrounding the Swift album at least was hostile from the moment the first single was released. As katherine put it on the Swift thread:

the near-unanimous hatred for this is baffling and if this were by anyone but this pop season's designated critical villain I suspect people would love it

― sick, fucking funny, and well tasty (katherine), Friday, August 25, 2017 5:58 AM (five months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

& that is how it's turned out. I find it baffling. & at least that thread let me know who on ILM should be ignored (that def doesn't mean you, katherine, who got it right from the start)

droit au butt (Euler), Monday, 5 February 2018 17:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Add to that the context of being invited back to the Superbowl stage after what happened the last time he was there, the Grammy awards ceremony last week where barely any non-male pop artists were given any notable recognition, and the ugly nature of the music he's just released, and you have everything required to provoke a lot of people into getting mad online and letting themselves quickly forget about "My Love" or whatever.

― monotony, Monday, February 5, 2018 5:06 PM (eleven minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i dont think anyone is saying its happening for no reason but its not like hes more of an idiot now than he was when he was younger, people just care more. like half the shit you're complaining about is super "who gives a fuck" when people like the music, or if he was on the upswing ... cardi b said transphobic shit but its not slowing her roll

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Monday, 5 February 2018 23:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

are these sorts of critical pile-ons knocking previously respected artists down a peg even that unprecedented, or is the unusual thing here that we've had ~two in a fairly short period? (the 'pile-on' for taylor was also not nearly as uniformly negative as this conversation would suggest.)

has the nature of #content changed so fundamentally that this is something to remain worried about for the foreseeable future? like yes, i would say there are certainly worrisome recent developments in how information in general, including criticism, reaches its audience and is expected to resonate in a manner that induces shares/virality/etc., so while i do get the sense that things are not quite right i am also failing to understand what is specifically objectionable about the situation discussed here. i would not guess it's especially related to 'elitism'.

given the context of reactionary backlash that katherine has patiently* delineated i am not eager to add to the chorus of " ______ otm"s, as lovely as it feels to do that here on the ilx.

dyl, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:02 (two weeks ago) Permalink

* and gently too btw, despite the 'omg you're calling me a fascist/4chan' pushback

dyl, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:03 (two weeks ago) Permalink

oh and also were the 'poptimists' of the stylus mag era even that uniformly supportive of jt's work at the time? i seem to recall some scathing reaction to "sexyback"

dyl, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:10 (two weeks ago) Permalink

xps: the tolerance for Timberlake's brand from pop culture critics was always going to turn south when the songs became as unpalatable as they now have - without any distraction all the corniness is much harder to ignore. His conventional presentation of manhood is also all so dull and wearying, at least to me personally. This is something I felt lex explained well in his review of the album:

In some ways, Timberlake is a victim of the rapidly changing zeitgeist – though surely it is a pop star’s job to have their finger on its pulse, if not actually create it. His aspirational masculinity is the same story he has been peddling for his whole career – and when he and his collaborators were young and fresh, it resulted in genius. It is also the narrative that pop culture as a whole has sold us for a good half-century – which is why it is increasingly feeling so familiar and so tiresome.

Cardi B's circumstances are not really analogous here so I don't know that she provides a helpful comparison, though I certainly wouldn't say that her comments have passed unnoticed by the same people who have recently piled on Timberlake.

monotony, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:11 (two weeks ago) Permalink

are we man of the woods yet are we man of the woods yet are we man of the woods

I will finish what I (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

what is the 'aspirational masculinity' he is describing there? does he go into more depth than those two words?

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

though I certainly wouldn't say that her comments have passed unnoticed by the same people who have recently piled on Timberlake.

― monotony, Monday, February 5, 2018 6:11 PM (eight minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

hmmmmmm isn't the difference between those who *did* notice them and those who (appeared to) not notice them exactly where the me vs. katherine argument is breaking down here

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:20 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I missed the Super Bowl and halftime show and showed up at my friend's party late. My friend showed me the clip of the half-time show, and we both responded similarly ("that was bad!") and then he made a show of playing "Cry Me A River" one last night before deleting it from his iTunes.

I remarked that I had a soft spot for that song and the 'dialogue' it held with "Everytime" by Britney, and he said "oh no, I don't fuck with Britney. Let me show you how much I don't fuck with Britney," and began playing "Toxic". It was the instrumental version. He had four Britney songs and they were all instrumental. "I don't need Britney when I got this," he said.

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:25 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Anyway I disagree with most of the sentiments of this thread's revival

Timberlake had mega-bangers

That half-time performance felt like literal erasure of Prince and Prince's own legendary halftime show

I googled "Prince halftime show" after it was over to cleanse my brain from Justin's bullshit and all that came up was "Justin performs with Prince at the halftime show"-- it was literal, functional erasure

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:27 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Here's lex's full review for context. At least for me, the aspirational masculinity Timberlake presents on this new album is one which conflates manliness with working on the land, having your woman wear your shirt so she feels like she's yours, serving as protector to wife and child, etc etc. Whether it's an overly dramatic shift from his previous work is up for debate I guess. IMO he's probably just been looking at some different Pinterest boards for inspiration as to aesthetic.

I'm not too sure what the argument is anymore and haven't been keeping a list of who has and has not called out Cardi B, but I can understand why people are less willing to disparage her personally when there are other factors like race, gender and class to consider that aren't relevant to Timberlake or, say, Ed Sheeran when he writes songs like "New Man", or Charlie Puth when he favourites Mark Dice tweets.

monotony, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:42 (two weeks ago) Permalink

And a big congratulations to Britney on one year with her hunky instathot boyfriend. https://www.instagram.com/p/Be1Ht6wF4Lj/?taken-by=britneyspears

monotony, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Ugh, instahot?

Video reach stereo bog (Tom D.), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:44 (two weeks ago) Permalink

uh insta-not

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 00:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the way ~algorithms~ engage in the erasure of the past fgti outlined is very upsetting

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 01:24 (two weeks ago) Permalink

* and gently too btw, despite the 'omg you're calling me a fascist/4chan' pushback

― dyl, Monday, February 5, 2018 7:03 PM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

yeah it was shitty of me to react the way i did to that b/c i revived this thread with inflammatory and flippant commentary and katherine was only responding in kind. i'm glad the popism 2.0 thread got started because, even though i harbor so much irrational bitterness towards the post-max martin/lou pearlman/iheart/livenation pop landscape, i was basically raised by ILM so seeing people talk out why this evolution in thinking happened is genuinely interesting and insightful to me. it was stupid for me to broach the subject in such a hostile way.

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 01:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i got pretty shook by the 4chan reference because i think i do have that bitter-white-guy-who-got-bullied-in-middle-school thing going on. in my case the bullying was soundtracked by *NSYNC and Britney, so there u have it, katherine otm

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 01:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i'm sorry i got all "fuck you!!!" about it

vicious almond beliefs (crüt), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 01:46 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Ugh, instahot?

― Video reach stereo bog (Tom D.), Tuesday, February 6, 2018 11:44 AM (five hours ago)

no, instathot

Haribo Hancock (sic), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 06:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Well, I never!

Video reach stereo bog (Tom D.), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 10:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I remarked that I had a soft spot for that song and the 'dialogue' it held with "Everytime" by Britney, and he said "oh no, I don't fuck with Britney. Let me show you how much I don't fuck with Britney," and began playing "Toxic". It was the instrumental version. He had four Britney songs and they were all instrumental. "I don't need Britney when I got this," he said.

― flamboyant goon tie included, Monday, February 5, 2018 7:25 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

with friends like this etc

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 15:00 (two weeks ago) Permalink

xp: apology accepted.

I think what bothers me the most about this discussion, every time it comes up, is the constant sense of talking about one group of people while meaning another. When I think of legacy media critics -- the few remaining who haven't gotten laid off -- I don't think of people writing hot takes for Twitter likes. I don't generally think of politics being mentioned at all unless they're absolutely unavoidable. These are all things I associate with writers in their 20s, who given the shifting demographics of media* are more likely to be women and more likely to be people of color. The most derided piece of the Justin Timberlake album cycle thus far ("Justin Timberlake is Rebranding as a White Man") was not written by a white male critic for legacy media, but written by a woman of color for a startup (The Outline). The pieces I've seen most praised, among my followers at least (a non-representative sample, but fairly representative of ILX probably) are by legacy media critics: the WaPo review, Lex's piece, etc.

I'm not saying the former pieces are beyond critique (although I do think the former piece is not as bad as many people thought, and that if you're commissioned to write a piece on the trailer for an album that, AFAIK, isn't getting promo copies widely distributed, you are inherently gambling on its sound). But it often feels like what is being criticized is not the substance of the piece but its existence, the very temerity that someone we haven't vetted** is allowed to write! and write about racism! And now they're hiring people from Twitter instead of people we vetted! Whatever will become of real music journalism? And then those exact criticisms get transplanted onto legacy media writers, and the arguments no longer make sense, because that's not who they were originally about.

* there's definitely a glass-cliff component to this, but that's for another thread. what's the analogous term to "glass cliff" for non-executive roles? glass floor?

** I haven't seen it here, but I have seen elsewhere an underlying bitterness: why are *those* people getting hired, and not me? Which, of course, also mirrors reactionary "they're taking our jobs" sentiment exactly.

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 15:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The Outline piece was (rightly) criticized for being a piece of fan fiction. Or anti-fan fiction, so it assumed the worst motivations on behalf of the artist. That type of criticism – what I refer to as stone soup – is endemic to the internet because of the ever-growing need for "content," endemic to younger writers because they are in less of a position to push back at editors with bad ideas, and endemic to this age because things like promo trailers for albums that didn't even have a single attached barely existed in the old days. (Not to mention that The Outline's self-branding as "So smart, we've made ourselves downright impossible to navigate" should have killed that piece before it ever got drafted, and the editor who looked it over should have probably looked past their own biases during the process of reworking it.) Obviously the lockdown of promos, particularly for writers at non-name outlets, hasn't helped much on that front, either.

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:42 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The same critiques would be, and have been, made to pieces that posit how awesome something is going to be based on bread crumbs as well.

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:43 (two weeks ago) Permalink

legacy media critics: the WaPo review, Lex's piece, etc.

damn lex is a legacy music critic now
*dies of old age*

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the thing about the piece is absolutely none of this is incorrect, or "fanfiction"; the closest is "heavy country influences," but the album does in fact have that; the latest single (and, it looks like, its highest-charting song) has Chris Stapleton on it! the marketing of the album also absolutely plays into the whole "Younger Now"/"Joanne"/"Rainbow" narrative, by design.

White colonialist fantasies aside, there’s something very familiar about this pivot in Timberlake’s style. We saw it from Miley Cyrus in her hasty rebranding around her 2017 pop country album Younger Now, as well as from Lady Gaga who took to wearing cowboy hats with the release of her 2016 album Joanne. Authenticity is quite marketable now, and for white pop stars that means shifting away from the hip-hop and R&B-influenced sounds that made them famous, and toward the sounds of Southern and country rock. For Timberlake, the pivot should be sonically natural: Originally hailing from Tennessee, Timberlake has never been shy about celebrating his Southern origins. And considering Pharrell and Timbaland are both producers on the album, Man of the Woods is likely to retain some familiar influences. But with his insistence in the video that this album will be his most personal yet, Timberlake is indulging in the inexplicably popular fallacy that music with heavy country influences is somehow more profound or emotionally acute than music that is electronic, lyrics that are rapped, or songs that inspire listeners to shake their asses. Most recently, hip-hop artist Post Malone pushed this narrative in an interview where he said, “If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to Hip Hop.”

Timberlake has a long history with hip-hop and R&B, genres invented and dominated by black people. (And to be clear, without African-Americans, there would be no rock or country music as we know it either — but I digress.) His first single as a solo artist featured legendary hip-hop duo Clipse and was co-written by The Neptunes. The success of his second studio album FutureSex/LoveSounds was in no small part due to hip-hop producers like Timbaland and Rick Rubin. There’s nothing wrong with a white artist expressing black influences in his music; still, the ease with which Timberlake can pivot to and away from blackness certainly raises some questions. Pop music is about reinvention, but only white artists are allowed the freedom to leap between racialized identities, depending on the whims of the market. Timberlake can escape his past much more easily than Janet Jackson, whose nude breast at the 2004 Super Bowl — which popped out thanks to Timberlake’s planned pull — directly kicked off the decline of her career, which has yet to recover. (Timberlake, for his part, has never fully atoned in public, though his upcoming performance would be a good place to start.)

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:52 (two weeks ago) Permalink

xp -- by "legacy music critic" I'm using it a bit broadly here, as is everybody else, to refer to "people who started writing before 2010 or so"

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 16:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

no i figured, and it's true! just crazy to me to think of lex like that but time moves on

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

it's still fanfiction because it was not based on a listen. that it was correct is a (happy?) accident.

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:31 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I mean, if you're going to complain about writers "who started writing before 2010 or so" being held up as more important than others, you have to talk about how most of them have have held onto their staff positions at big-name outlets, while other similarly big-name outlets that would also be taken seriously because of their URLs being reflective of some sort of legacy* have ditched full-time music critics because of budget cuts and attrition and layoffs. (the new york daily news, the boston globe, etc.) christgau is an exception to the "people take outlets more seriously than writers" argument but probably the only one.

*i am convinced this is why examiner.com was taken seriously at all; its name had the air of a place where copyeditors and fact-checkers were at least thought about, if not employed.

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:40 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm not complaining about their being held up as more important (although virtually every big-name music outlet has seen a lot of turnover at basically every level of the editorial ladder, voluntary or otherwise). What I'm pointing out is this thing, which happens like clockwork, of displacing one's complaints about one class of writers by attributing them to a different class, about whom those complaints don't make sense. And the more of the following exist, the more likely this is to happen: women writers, writers of color, writers taking progressive stances.

also, "you're right, but you still shouldn't have written anything" is a stance I'm never going to be on board with, sorry. The piece isn't pretending to be an album review.

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

sorry accepted, and sorry back, but i'm not going to be on board with pieces that are making a lot of assumptions about art based on a too-small-to-even-be-thought-of-as-cursory sample. wait it out or look for cheap bumper-sticker traffic elsewhere.

maura, Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:54 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Authenticity is quite marketable now, and for white pop stars that means shifting away from the hip-hop and R&B-influenced sounds that made them famous, and toward the sounds of Southern and country rock

Katherine... this is NOT accurate. He didn’t shift away from hip hop and r&b sounds. And he worked with the same black songwriters and producers he has for ages.

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:56 (two weeks ago) Permalink

my sense lately is that whole of popular cultural criticism, which includes pop music criticism, has changed in the past several years (imo paralleling the rise of twitter, but this is conjecture) to more clearly foreground issues of social justice, anti-racism, intersectionality, etc... for people who look like me (white guys, which includes many of the initial posters in this revive), we're probably a little more likely to see the gears moving, so to speak, in some of the lazier essays (that much-discussed outline article on JT being an obvious example) the new movement produces, because unlike the women and POC who are doing more and more of the writing (a good thing), these ways of thinking do not come as naturally to us. but I think it's important for me, and other white guys, to consider that this is probably how music criticism read to non-white guys for basically the entire history of the craft, and, you know, open our minds to new ways of looking at the world

so I'm not really mad at that outline essay because while it's bad, a certain percentage of essays are always going to be bad, and this is just what bad essays are going to look like increasingly now I guess.

part of me is also just glad that I am at the point in my life when I have the least use for pop music criticism, so I feel very uninvested in any of this

k3vin k., Tuesday, 6 February 2018 17:57 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I mean, it isn't a sneak preview of one track off a tracklist, it's an album trailer, conceived and released as a deliberate piece of marketing meant to convey a particular message, and conveying it with the subtlety of a lumberjack's axe. (I can't find anything about who directed it, what agency, etc., but given the caliber of personnel Justin Timberlake got for every other video this cycle, I doubt it was done on the cheap.) It's valid to write criticism about what that message might be, the same way it's valid to write criticism about any other type of advertisement.

(Trailers are also increasingly large parts of album roll-outs in general, with as much if not more deliberate label and creative attention paid to them as the album itself. Where is the line beyond which something becomes superficial and not worth commenting upon? Would it be inappropriate to write about Kanye West's 20-odd minute "Runaway" film, for instance?)

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

It is valid is an argument / backpedal I can agree with, I suppose

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I can’t help but feel like part of what people are reacting to is a white tendency to treat certain ideological positions as inherently fixed, as authentically representative of say young black women without acknowledging the multiplicity and contradictory perspectives generated by a group that is *not monolithic*. And what ends up happening is white people and sometimes nonblack POC jump on board to one POV without realizing how by parroting the arguments of say a black woman there’s a big context shift, and that it does not mean the same thing coming from them that it did for the people who first drew attention to it. And also do not realize that one person’s perspective is not a stand in for all the perspectives of the wider group. That amplification effect is unavoidable of course, but it still has a distortive effect on conversations around lots of subjects.

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Katherine... this is NOT accurate. He didn’t shift away from hip hop and r&b sounds. And he worked with the same black songwriters and producers he has for ages.

It'd be inaccurate if it said he completely abandoned it. He did not completely abandon it. He shifted toward it. Even if you discount the general Americana influence as present in Timberlake's music all along -- I don't particularly agree with that, but just discounting it for argument's sake -- putting the most critically acclaimed person in country music, Chris Stapleton, on an album where, previously, your albums did not have Chris Stapleton (emphasis on "albums," I know he cut tracks/live performances) constitutes a shift to country. The fact that "Say Something" is likely the next "official" single (AFAIK it hasn't been officially sent to radio yet, or at least doesn't show up on the list of upcoming pop radio songs, but given that it's charting so well, the one he's performing on TV, etc., I would be surprised if it weren't) corroborates that shift. (Stapleton also co-wrote more than one track on the album, so it's not some isolated gimmick.)

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:12 (two weeks ago) Permalink

s/"it"/"hip-hop" and "country" respectively

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

putting the most critically acclaimed person in country music, Chris Stapleton, on an album where, previously, your albums did not have Chris Stapleton (emphasis on "albums," I know he cut tracks/live performances) constitutes a shift to country

What kind of shift did Tim McGraw putting Nelly on his album constitute? What kind of shift did Brad Paisley putting LL Cool J on his album constitute?

grawlix (unperson), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:15 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I agree there was an overlay of country but the premise everyone is mad at is the idea that he shifted away from r&b. It’s a damn r&b album. Aren’t most of the Songs are written by James Fauntleroy? Cmon. It was a premise that reflected a broad twitter consensus. I’ve liked other things that writer has done and don’t think I’m above having bought into some bs consensus at one time or another but the article was a good example of what happens when we let the script in our heads write our pieces for us

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

tim mcgraw wanted to be an honorary st. lunatic

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:19 (two weeks ago) Permalink

A) A shift from reality into fantasy, because Tim McGraw never put that single on his albums
B) A shift into the following: genre crossover appeal of the sort he did a lot during that album cycle; accidental racism

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Putting a cowboy hat on is not the discursive equivalent of Miley Cyrus shitting on rap music in the press after exploiting it for an album cycle. The piece’s thesis was frustrating for drawing that comparison. Justin Timberlake has made r&b for two decades and one album cycle ago he was cast among hip hop royalty, performing songs about wearing suits and ties with jay z. The comparison was silly and lightweight even if the writer is not

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:49 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the cowboy hat was a reference to Lady Gaga, whose album cycle included more than cowboy hats

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 18:51 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I didn’t follow that at all but replace it with stood next to a tree or whatever superficial marketing led everyone to believe justin was abandoning the genre that made him

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 19:05 (two weeks ago) Permalink

If the album is mediocre it’s mediocre we don’t need to invent objective reasons it was mediocre... I do not think this is he main reason politics has come back to the forefront (generally speaking I think it was overdue, fwiw) but I do get that feeling that some of the leaning on politics is that it creates a more objective lens through which to view an artist’s success or failure, a sense of certitude in a world slowly recognizing the subjective nature of its interactions

Listen to my homeboy Fantano (D-40), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 19:08 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I guess (to me) Gaga -- though she def had elements of modern r&b and hip hop -- felt pretty apart from that? (much moreso than JT or Miley), like she's so jazz hands drama kid at heart, she always had a sort of old school showbiz thing to me

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 20:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

(so i guess her playing with whatever dressup she's doing on a particular album always feels subservient to her Lady Gaga pop, kind of like Madonna could embrace house music or w/e but it's still Madonna music)

It's not delivery, it's Adorno! (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 20:24 (two weeks ago) Permalink

yeah Gaga was more disowning dance-pop than disowning R&B; "Rainbow" is Kesha doing the same thing (her case is a lot more complicated for the obvious reasons, one of which being she genuinely did hate some of the music she was making). It's the same sort of authenticity move, however -- and to the people they're aiming that authenticity at, dance-pop and hip-hop might as well be interchangeable shitty music, etc.

algorithm is a dancer (katherine), Tuesday, 6 February 2018 20:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink


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