As soon as the ’90s ended, music fans were like, ‘Fuck you!’ Now the young people are taking over and are like, ‘I don’t need you to tell me what to like and not to like anymore!’ Take the choices and give them back to the kids, I say.”
When I read this quote from Drew from Broken Social Scene about Pitchfork, I got so rilled up I started writing this comment:
You would think they’d be able to make their site more readable and get better navigation after all these years. Dear lord, going to their homepage is like getting ADD all of a sudden. Oh, and the reviews are pretentious. I think we’d all be foolish to say that their writers are writing totally impartial reviews. Everything that anyone writes is somehow going to be influenced by the writer’s preception of the world, the band, the people that manage the band, etc. Pitchfork just happens to be in the mindset of “we are probably not going to talk about anything your jock friends from high school or your mom would know about.” I think I’d fall off my chair if they liked something that was actually on the top 40.
On the whole idea that Pitchfork is somehow giving power back to “the kids,” that’s a load of bull crap. It’s the bible of people who are so desperate for an “alternative” opinion to established music authorities like Rolling Stone, but then they just end up having the same exact opinions as the other idiots who definitely know they just don’t want to have a “mainstream” opinion but don’t know how to think for themselves. How is Pitchfork any different than Rolling Stone nowadays? So instead of people finding out about bands from Rolling Stone, they are finding out about them from Pitchfork. What’s the difference between being influenced by a writer from RS who happens to really like mainstream pop music and some writer who only likes bands that no one else has heard of? Just because more people are listening to you doesn’t mean your opinions are right.
Granted, Pitchfork succeeds in talking about bands that aren’t covered in Rolling Stone, but one publication can’t possibly cover all the music that’s out there. It’s simply impossible. Pitchfork is just another outlet for people to learn about music if they haven’t already heard of the bands. It’s simply just more exposure. Don’t you think that one day some other site or magazine is going to come along and replace Pitchfork?
But honestly, the real power of music is the same as it has always been–going out and listening to the music yourself, looking for new bands yourself, discovering what you like–not just going along with what other people think is good. In case no one has noticed, you absolutely do NOT have to like a band that Rolling Stone OR Pitchfork like. It is YOUR CHOICE.
Pitchfork and RS are both the same in that they are just part of the individual conversations that people have when they talk about what they think is good or bad in music. Pitchfork is just a new place kids find the bands about which they will talk endlessly on their blogs, in their homes, on IM, etc. “Ohmigod! Did you see what Pitchfork had to say about Sufjan Steven’s latest EP? It’s a collection of ‘songs’ of him farting! They said it was like the equivalent of having an aural orgasm–they said that you’d have an ‘eargasm’ listening to it because of its sheer melodic brilliance. So great!”
And I suppose for many people, people talking about you and listening to your music just to see if it’s really any good is just as valuable as people actually liking your music. If you don’t like what people are saying about a group that you like, or you want to tell more people about a great act you saw, tell people yourself. Go start your own blog/podcast/whatever. Get on your cellphone, send those emails.