OK. The title of this blog is How NOT to write about music.
These days, there is a constant and seemingly endless supply of new music at our fingertips. If you work as music journalist, you get thousands of emails a day alerting you to impending releases or sending you dozens of albums months away from entering the world. You can never sift through it all, but you explore as much as you can, figuring out where everything fits together. There are often surprises, not just in albums dropping out of the sky but in the gratification of an artist you’ve long loved and supported coming out of left field with a stunning new sound or leveling up to the next tier of success and notoriety. There is always something to react to, and in the ever-changing music landscape of today, it often feels like our job to try and make all the scattered pieces cohere into something legible.
Some questions: how does the above add to the dialogue about music? How does it pull readers into wanting to read about the music under discussion? Is it entertaining? Informative? It reads like the author’s notes to himself, dulled and disinterested by too many nights of insomnia and days of grey. Why is it the opening paragraph? Do sub-editors exist on the Internet? If so, then why aren’t they challenging the writer? If not, then why has this blog got any traction whatsoever? Do word-counts mean for nothing these days? What about the waste of the reader’s time? Reading the above is like staring at the Piracy Warning Screen on a new DVD – are Stereogum obligated by American law to include an opening paragraph of humdrum ‘observation’ in place of insight or entertainment on every new album review, lest they rile up the reader’s blood too greatly?
More questions: Also, thousands of emails? Ever-changing? It often feels like our job to try and… how else do you view what you do? Why has this entire paragraph not been cut?
There was a simple rule, easily applied, back when I was an editor at Melody Maker where space was at a premium and words were accordingly treasured – if you can begin an article without any loss of sense or momentum or insight or whatever by cutting the first paragraph, cut the fucking first paragraph.
Aside from the opening line, the second paragraph could easily have been cut as well.
Another rule: do not include sentences that do not entertain or add to the general dialogue around music.
INVIOLATE RULE forgotten by a generation of music critics: If you’re going to do hyperbole – and that is all this Stereogum review is, simple hyperbole – then at least be entertaining. The review is interminable. It is also counterproductive: why would you listen to music that inspires such dullard journalism?