Thursday, September 27, 2012

On Music Criticism: A Sprawling Rant

Last night I was extremely bored. Having absolutely nothing to do after I finished writing a script, I decided to putz around on the YouTubes. I sifted through some Needle Drop reviews and ended up watching the entirety of Anthony's lecture at Wesleyan, well, listening. Tt's a good listen -- not to visually appealing, which is ironic because Wes's film program is one of the bests in the country. Anthony ran through the gamut of the Needle Drop - history, why, how, when, Cal's origin story - and he finally touched on the topic of criticism. Fantano mentioned that his negative reviews receive more attention than his positive ones: an extremely interesting observation, I found.

A couple of weeks back, I wrote on negativity in music and how I saw no place for it. But in my rant, I guess I missed the facet of a review that provides entertainment. Although most of the time I feel as though I am just drafting up arguments and practicing my writing on this blog, there also has to be some entertainment value. Whether it be a picture, video, or comedic point, there has to be something that draws the reader back. And this is what makes the plight of Flatted Third true; I am not saying this to brag, only to further justify my reasons to continue writing.

Reading is difficult. I have studied extensively on the subject of reading and writing's effect on the brain. It expands your vocabulary, allows clearer thinking, and increases your intelligence. While someone can "waste" this ability on fad reads that don't offer good examples of writing, it's still a healthier activity than perusing the internet for naked pictures of your ex-girlfriend on Reddit -- I am not speaking out of experience, just for the LULZ. So this is where I found Fantano's most interesting point was brought to the foreground. In so many words, he stated how he used to write about music - much like we do here - but found an overabundance of typed reviews, so he decided to forge new ground with a video blog, "vlog."

Fantano has found increasing success in this area, as videos are prone to go viral on the internet. His videos are entertaining, insightful, and well-informed, although Fantano refuses to admit how vast the scope of his musical knowledge. There were a few moments where the magician showed too much in the lecture, but I did listen to all of it and was thoroughly entertained. He has worked extremely hard to get to the point where can almost support himself with his work, giving many people hope to try the internet for future, self-made careers.

Fantano outlined his change in musical taste with a story about a friend of his who introduced himself to punk. I feel as though we all had this friends, for me it was my older brother, until I became obsessed and expanded past his tastes. This is why I continue to cover music. The best thing about having this blog is when my friends submit posts and I get to see what they think about music. I love hearing opinions mostly rooted in a pathos; a pathos that is heavily informed and intelligent. You try to establish a logic in your argument, but due to music's subjectivity, this proves difficult and a personal schema is implemented. So where The Needle Drop offers a different medium in its message, Fantano contributes heavily to the constant conversation about music in a original, entertaining way. The Needle Drop was even cited on Metacritic, adding to the vlog's validity. I would love to one day add to that aggregate, providing an extra voice.

One of the best points Fantano brought up is how a view can change with the reviewer over time. This adds not only mood and fads into the equation of how a reviewer will decide how good a release is but an epochal viewpoint. One can later argue with his or herself about how good a record is. I have often flip-flopped on bands and I believe that's a true sign of just how subjective musical criticism is; you can even argue with yourself.

So I would like to thank Anthony Fantano for questioning why I continue to update this blog and allowing me to rediscover why I love to criticize music. He is an inspiration to DIY bloggers and vloggers everywhere, even in the depths of /mu -- I ain't dick riding, and to prove it here is a picture of me not dick riding. I hope that whoever is reading this continues to read Flatted Third, and also check out The Needle Drop, so that his or her taste in music never becomes stagnant, the plight of this blog -- except we love reading and writing!

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