Musical Musings (Part II – Reviewing the Review)

In my previous post I spoke about how my taste in music developed. One of the things I tried to point out was, though it was briefly hibernating, I have a genuine love of music, with many and varied influences. I may have made it sound like I have thousands of CD’s, the reality is that I have around 200. That’s still a fair amount, as far as I’m concerned, but the point I really want to make is that I don’t treat music like a consumable, in the sense that once I’ve heard something it’s time to move on to what else is out there. When I make a purchase, it’s (usually) because I’ve heard and loved songs from the album/artist and I want to hear it continually. (I say usually because on the odd occasion I have bought CD’s on the basis of reviews by people that I have come to trust in terms of their own taste). So, in this post, I’m going to touch on a few things other, primarily the reviewing process, because that’s what I’ve taken to doing here. After that, I’ll take a more estensive tour of my own taste in music – mostly because I like raving about what I love – but also with the hope that anyone reading posts that refer to music will hopefully be grounded in this history, and be able to tell with great probablility whether or not they will like the music I talk about in the future.

When it comes to music reviews, what I don’t trust, nor particularly appreciate, are attempts on the reviewer’s behalf to speak about the music with detached objectivity, in order to appear like they are giving a fair and balanced review. It is, as far as I’m concerned, the most ridiculous thing you can do when reviewing music. I think music has to be a completely subjective experience, because it’s a sensory experience, and relates directly to what we alone see, think and feel, just as much as what we hear. This means that a million different people listening to the same song will each have a unique experience with it, even if many are similar. Reviews, I think, should reflect that to a degree – or at least acknowledge it. I think it achieves little to do otherwise, and is actually considerably unfair on the music being reviewed. Just like me, people in general love their music, and will – or should – be subjective when it comes to personal taste.

I’m quite sure there are technicalities that any seasoned reviewer, or someone with extensive knowledge in the craft of making music, can use to enhance the avaerage music review – give it greater depth and possibly more validity – but ultimately I just want to know three things when I read a review: 1. Do you like it? 2. Why? 3. What else do you like? (That last one is a little more general, usually gleaned by reading several reviews from the same writer, which serves to give me a sense of how in sync with my own tastes the reviewer is).

Further to that, I don’t believe discrimination in terms of music taste is all that useful. Why be hesitant to like something, based on personal biases? I have a few genres that I don’t get much out of (country, reggae, hip hop, jazz, R n’ B and novelty acts), but they’re not hard and fast rules and I like several artists that typically get classified in those genres. Along the same lines, you will very rarely see or hear me proclaiming that a band/artist/song ‘sucks’, and I get greatly frustrated when others equate not liking something to it being no good. (Again, there are always exceptions – I’d like to have a few words with some ‘artists’ about the “products” they have created or attached their name to – music which the sole purpose of seems to be as a consumable – get it out, appeal to as many people as possible, sell as much as possible for as long as possible. I realise that’s a basic goal for a music release, but it shouldn’t be the driving force behind the writing of a song, when whoever actually performs it wouldn’t even matter).

Whenever anyone tells me that something I like ‘sucks’ I have a standard answer, designed to be fair, but similarly as insulting as their comment “It doesn’t suck, you just don’t have the capacity to appreciate it on the same level as I do.” It can also serve as a great response in the reverse, when someone is raving on and on about an artist that just doesn’t do anything for you: “Sorry, I guess I’m just not able to appreciate it on the same level (or in the same depth) as you.” This generally leaves them still feeling positive about their taste in music, instead of defensive and therefore argumentative. Let’s face it, my taste vs. your taste arguments are just plain futile. (Therein lies the advisement that if anyone ever feels it necessary to leave a comment merely stating that my taste in music is terrible, it really isn’t going to matter to me one bit, nor will it be responded to – why some people feel it necessary is beyond me, it’s not like someone proclaiming what I like sucks is going to make me suddenly see it in a whole new light and not like it anymore).

So that, in a fairly large nutshell, is where I’m coming from when I write about music. I am passionate about it and I have deep respect – to the point of envy, at times – for musicians who have created something which evokes that passion.



About Satellite for Entropy

My thoughts are fish, all swimming about and prone to scattering swiftly. Some of them are pretty but not all of them are gold. Some have teeth; some travel in gangs and with a single school of thought; some are haphazard loners, darting about the place randomly and to no obvious purpose. But they're all slippery little suckers. Sometimes, I get lucky and find myself with a good grasp on one, long enough to remember what it looks like before releasing it back into the wild. View all posts by Satellite for Entropy

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