I Call Bullsh-t On “Pitchfork Effect”

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.

Whatever, man.

Author: laura

I run The Modern Age.org

28 thoughts on “I Call Bullsh-t On “Pitchfork Effect””

  1. I completely agree with you. Pitchfork is the epitome of music snobbery, and in my opinion is worse than TRL. Music reviews should be read for entertainment purposes only, not to influence your opinion about what you like or don’t like.

  2. Pitchfork isn’t a place to learn about new music or competent reviews of music you may be interested in learning more about. It is a source of negativity and written by people who would rather “attack”/condescend a band or their music (+fans) rather than proide any kind of guide or gateway for people looking to expose themselves to new music. In short, it is a complete waste of time to read Pitchfork.

  3. I thought I was the epitome of music snobbery, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    I think it’s worse, it more like Music Elitism. I call them Bitchfork. Every snarky news item and review is like a creative writing project. It takes them 4 paragraphs to get to the actual review or information.

    I agree with everything you say. I love when they put a news item up like BumbleDick Tour America, Release EP. Like we’re suppose to be excited by a no-name band touring, and we’re suppose to pay attention because it’s a noname band that they are touting.

    So they gave Clap Your Hands a 9.whatever, I think they want a cookie for that.

  4. The thing that bothers me the most about Pitchfork is that they get credit for “making” a band when all they ever do is what we do. Read blogs, check out message boards, and listen to radio stations like KEXP and WOXY to find new and interesting music. Then what they do is regurgitate the new trend. I NEVER find out about something for the first time from Pitchfork. I read about something somewhere else and then find that shortly thereafter Pitchfork presents it like it’s breaking news. And poorly. Their reviews and rating system have been debunked some many times, it’s just sad. I but much more value in the reviews of CMJ NMM, Filter, and Spin. And atleast with those mags, you may actually find something that isn’t just being recycled.

  5. I hate Pitchfork’s ads too, and emailed them a few times about it. A solution is to get Firefox, and then install the adblocker filter g extension. I never see ads anymore on the internet, even on myspace.

    I think Pitchfork’s reviews have gotten worse the past few years, but my biggest problem is with their news section. They liberally lift quotes from other publications and press releases, and while any blog would link to the source, they never do. Sometimes they even have the balls to call it an “exclusive”, even though I received the same press release a few days earlier in my inbox.

    And Pitchfork does actually like things in the Top 40 now.

  6. I agree with much of what others have said in the comments, but I have things to add:
    1) Rolling Stone is a print publication whereas Pitchfork is exclusively online. I know that seems obvious, but it’s an important distinction that has to be made.
    2) Pitchfork isn’t a place to talk about music. If anything, blogs like this one are. Pitchfork doesn’t have a comments section, for starters.
    3) As Peter pointed out, they do like things in the Top 40 occasionally, but mainly singles by rap and r’n’b artists, with the exception of Kanye West’s last album, which they gave a really good score to.

  7. yah, i meant Pitchfork as a leaping off point for discussion. as we all know, many a blog has started talking about bands b/c of a pitchfork review. i shouldn’t have said it’s a place to congregate. it’s a facist state.

  8. Holla.

    I used to go there trolling for new music, but it is so unnavigatable that I gave it up. Oh, and they like the Fiery Furnaces so that ruined all their credentials in my book.

    Pretentious bullshit.

  9. i like pitchfork. maybe it is pretentious but i still think it’s a good resource overall. i guess hating pitchfork is the new black.

  10. I agree with the original post, with the creative writing bit in comment 4, comment 7, comment 8 and comment 13. They all get a cookie, which means Laure gets 2 cookies, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise since I mentioned I agreed with comment 8.

    But honestly: I don’t really care. There are too many blogs and e-zines and whatever out there anyway (which is why I agree with comment 7) and the only thing that bugs me is that there are still lots of really good bands out there that despite that – overkill anybody? – are still left undiscovered.

    Don’t hate the media, please don’t try and be the media – really, having an opinion is okay, but not everybody should flaunt it, really. Just be your own filter. Listen to what you think sounds good and spread the word. Mouth to mouth, preferably.

  11. I think it’s healthier to be pretentious than overtly commercially like Rolling Stone, at least there is critical thinking involved and people who like music usually have their own specific tastes anyways.

  12. agreed on the Stylus list. if they had a comment section i’d say “this is a load of crap.” A Grand Don’t Come For Free was one of the best albums of 2004. what the hell is up with THAT?

  13. At least it’s something. Have been waiting since “NY Rocker” passed away for some decent US music press.

    Pitchfork is way too cold & too official-sounding to ever be the crazy political party boat that was the Early Rolling Stone, NY Rocker, or Creem, but it does attract my attention now and then.

    Anything better out there?

  14. pitchfork is anti-mainstream? have you read it since 2002? it’s awesome how you berate the oligarchic music press and flaunt your NME clip on the same website. and nobody calls foul! you must have really earned that best scenester commendation. it’s nuts that as a professional writer you base your critique on such absurd propositions: that there’s such a thing as the “totally impartial review”, that any publication is obligated to cover EVERY BAND, that one music publication is somehow more or less evil than another that functions identically. really, NME, Blender, Venus … how do you distinguish these publications’ commodified packets of opinion from Pitchfork’s or Rolling Stone’s? It seems as if you’re using the latter as strawmen for music criticism in general. yet you write it. ow, my mind hurts.

  15. I agree with the ‘kanye’ poster.Most of the idiots who commented here have not read pitchfork since 2002 at the earliest, if at all. way to flaunt your nme clip and say pitchfork are snobs. not everything is so black and white. learn how to write you jackass.

  16. What bothers me about pitchfork is that they have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. Like zip, zero, zilch.

    I remember reading the new tom waits album (orphans) review, and in like four paragraphs, they noted that he quoted kerouac and liked bukowski. (which anyone could figure out by reading the booklet that came with the album, because waits said it in clear print..) there were no comments on music style, varying complexity, organization, rhythm, lyrical direction, the departure of waits into the political realm this time around, the sheer prolifically of releasing an album with 60+ songs etc etc.

    i mean, the poor scrawny shit, who no doubt “sonically orgasmed” at a clap hands EP, had no fucking clue what he was talking about. i learned absolutely nothing from the review. music snobbery is okay if you’re a knowledgeable source, but who would possibly turn to some skinny failed graphic design guy for a review about a music titan like tom waits?

    RS is at least a leg up in that its reviews (used to) be an actual source for decent music commentary. there was some semblance of authority, not this self-entitled music snobbery derived from a massive collective opinion of zombie hipsters. (see chuck klosterman…)

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