Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lazy Song Lyric Tropes - 'Critics'

F*** critics, you can kiss my whole @**hole
 -Jay-Z, '99 Problems'
One of the most patently absurd lyrical devices that musicians seem addicted to is their constant war against unspecified 'critics'.

If you listen to song lyrics, the 'critics' hate everybody. They spend all day just slagging off musicians in print, and apparently there is sufficient demand for this service to provide them with a lucrative living. At least I assume there must be, given how many times these musical curmudgeons feature in song-writing.

Reader, have you or anyone else you know of ever read anything by pop music critics? Why would you? These days, if I want to find out whether a musician is any good or not, it takes me 5 seconds on youtube to pull up their most popular song and decide if it sucks. If I want suggestions of music that I haven't heard of, I open up Pandora  and plug in a musician, and out comes similarly themed music that matches my tastes surprisingly well.

The only critic I've ever read is Jay Nordlinger, and that's for his non-music writing. More to the point, Nordlinger is drawn (typically, in my limited exposure) from the one category of music that does still have significant numbers of critics, namely classical music. If I go through the list here, maybe a third of them seem to relate primarily to classical music. Yet you don't hear Gustavo Dudamel ranting mid-concert because the New York Times panned his latest performance.

Musicians are famous for being lazy and uncreative on average in their choice of subject matter. My guess as to why 'critics' feature so prominently, especially in rap songs, is that
a) these clowns have nothing really to say, and this fills at least 10 seconds of ranting,
b) the main point of most rap music apparently is to bignote oneself, and setting up a strawman army of imaginary 'haters' is a great way to make it seem like you're generating a buzz and some controversy.

And they are imaginary. The surest sign this is all a fantasy by the song-writer is that the critics are never actually named. This is like the musical equivalent of the 13 year old boy bragging to his friends about that totally hot French chick that he hooked up with while on holiday with his parents. Serious You Guys, she totally dug me! What's that? No, I forgot to get a photo. Why do you ask? Whaddaya mean, nobody's ever personally witnessed me get any attention from a real-life female ever?

If you call out a critic by name, I'll make an exception. So when KRS-One decides to rant about C. Dolores Tucker, at least you know there's an actual person there. (Whether it's interesting or not is another question). Otherwise, assume it's all nonsense.


To slightly modify Juju from Jurassic 5:
Homo I'ma hurt ya feelings
Name brand talkers...pretty ass earrings
Where are all your critics about which you obsess?
The only one I know of shares your IP address.
F*** critics? No, f*** you Jay-Z, think up something remotely original to talk about.

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