Bottom of the Barrel

Confiscate their laptops: the worst writing of the year.

August Brown: "In Defense of Bad Singing"

(LA Times, December 15, 2008)

Trying to make a bomb of a performance into a moment of triumph (Kanye West’s Saturday Night Live appearance), Brown plays the race card and forgets a little thing called context: indie rock singers aren’t supposed to be on pitch, but an R&B singer, like Kanye is aspiring to be, ideally should be on point with their voice. As Huey Lewis and Dave Edmunds once noted, something bad is just bad.

David Hadju: "I Me Mine"

(New Republic, June 25, 2008)

If you crave arrogance and a touch of ignorance, this is where you can get a heaping serving of both. Supposedly, both Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead's free download experiments mean little or nothing, and the people who've remixed their tracks are all uncreative idiots. Unlike the author, who's merely a snobby contrarian. Yawn.

Jude Rogers: "Shock Value"

(Guardian, May 30, 2008)

So, basically because fans of My Chemical Romance are holding a peaceful protest about a song that allegedly caused a suicide, we can now declare rock dead and totally lacking in any rebel spirit. If this was 1971, that might be kind of an edgy proposition. If it was 1976, it would be kind of a stale statement already. But, um, this is over 30 years later, and is the kind of fluff that you see high school kids complain about all the time. The Guardian should really know better than to print this kind of crap.

Scott Plagenhoef: "Black Kids review"

(Pitchfork, July 22, 2008)

If the review wasn't embarrassing enough for them, how about the hubris behind it? Who are they apologizing to? To the readers, for having hyped up the band? To the band, for being turned into the next big thing? Should we just take Pitchfork's word that it's their fault, and thus it was their mighty writ that started this whole thing? Even worse, it was preceded by a different byline with a 0.0 rating, which Plagenhoef claimed in an Idolator comments section was just a big mistake, and which he and Pitchfork decided not to explain on their own site. Even if you want to give him the benefit of the doubt, the whole thing still stinks of shinola. Next time they might want to actually write a real review, even if the doggies are so cute.

Unknown Writer: "Popular Music Often Exposes Children to Positive Portrayals of Drug and Alcohol Use, Pitt School of Medicine Study Finds"

(, February 5, 2008)

NEWSFLASH: Swarmy researchers produce the 748th study this year that shows that popular music is poisoning teenage America, turning them into godless terrorists who are a threat to our country and national security. Which is all good and well, but the only thing that's worse are the dozens of news agencies who actually consider each of these reports to actually be print-worthy. Is it any wonder that the news business is going down the toilet?

Steven Wells: "Black Crowes' five star embarrassment"

(Guardian, February 28, 2008)

It's gotta be a contrarian joke, right? Sticking up for a writer and magazine that doesn't bother to listen to an album they review, even though Richard Meltzer did it many times long ago (though he admitted it up front)? And sure enough, plenty of the comments to the article blast Wells for being such a goddamn jerk. If he played his readers for cheap emotionalism, though, shame on him. If he actually thinks that Maxim's crime was non-existent, then he should trade in his laptop for a toilet brush. A runner-up would be Wells's savage RIP to Harp, No Depression and Resonance, which stinks of sour grapes, disclosure and all, and that connection definitely ain't coincidental (my own disclosure is that I've written for Harp and No Depression, and admired both publications before I did so). And the less said about his anti-vinyl screed the better. In fairness, Wells's "Music Hacks Attack" (Guardian, January 8, 2008) is a good chronicle of musicians trying to get back at scribes. He might want to watch his back about the Black Crowes though.

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