An article in today’s Guardian lightly skims the surface of the idea that music bloggers have developed an almost indecipherable way of writing. Here’s an excerpt:
“So, I could now sit down for coffee with a friend and, quoting liberally from New York’s Village Voice blog Status Ain’t Hood, written by Tom Breihan, opine: ‘Pillowy drama-nerd indie-rock is nothing new. And another thing: the Decemberists don’t always sound like coffee-table NPR fare. The first song they played at Webster Hall was a Crampsian swamp-gurgle, something maybe approaching the same neighbourhood as metal.’ I’d sound pretty cool, but would either of us have a clue what I’d meant?“
The answer to the question would probably be “no.” I can’t tell you exactly where this proliferation of bombastic writing really stems from. It’s probably a combination of a good number of bloggers having lax editing practices (especially if you’re someone who writes and publishes your own blog with no support staff), no formal training in writing or reporting, the desire to create an elitist, TrackBacking society, and being a victim of having the unfortunate disposition of being an asshole.
I do believe there is such a thing as being artfully creative in your writing, but I do get a headache when I end up reading 10 multi-hyphenated adjectives in the course of only 2 sentences. A lot of the times I have no f-cking clue what people are talking about…as if it even makes a difference. I have to agree with a salient argument of article my friend Mediaeater pointed out to me: “It’s as though it doesn’t matter what’s being said about the act, as long as the act is mentioned constantly and in favorable, if nigh-on indecipherable, terms.”
It’s a shame that so many of the people vehemently championing up-and-coming bands via their blogs are using this self-referential way of writing. A lot of times I think the vague, overly descriptive writing results in reviews and articles that are no longer about music, but more about the writer showing the reader how they are so hip and happening. It’s as if they don’t even care about telling you whether or not a band is good as they care about telling you that they were the first person to write about them. Sometimes I can’t even figure out if someone even likes a band based on their descriptions, or if they really just want to make sure they are keeping up with the
Jones Joneses (this is a perfect example of the aforementioned “lax editing practices”).
MORE: You know what? Who knows, maybe the majority of blog writers are genuinely interested and excited about the music which they are discussing. Sasha Frere-Jones does dish out a very smart comment about the free-form nature of Web writing, “Nobody’s paid to read my blog…so if I sometimes write in an unfiltered way, it isn’t likely aimed at other critics, but is simply a reflection of how I think when no one is watching.” But I think we all know by now that not everyone’s intentions are quite as pure as the one Sasha stated. For better or for worse, blogging has become a money maker for many people, or a launching pad to some greater goal. Writing about every single crappy band that has a mild amount of notoriety results in the possibility of more web hits, more ad impressions, more dollars in the pockets of the blogerati, and more invites to “secret” shows marketing peeps organize to “create buzz.” This brings me to the whole “are you keeping it real” argument. Which gives me a headache because I can understand the justification for “selling out” or “working for the man” as I can for “staying street.”
I’ll leave it up for you to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. I can’t wait to get crucified in the comments to this post. Hah!