We’ve all read them. On Facebook, on Twitter, on blogs, on wherever. It’s usually a top ten worst things list or a review of something. Music hate blogs are rife and nothing in our musical heritage is sacred. If you look, not very far, they’re all there, The Beatles, The Clash, The Stones, The Stooges, The Cramps, whatever and whoever. All against the wall, all facing the vitriolic keyboard stroke squad for one crime or criticism or another. Some of it valid, well thought out judgement but most of it done with the largest of shitbrush strokes. Sample quotes - “I hate all reggae because of UB40”; “The Smiths were rubbish because Morrissey is a miserable twat”; “Tom Waits growls too much and is shit”. My issue isn’t with the right for people to be able to express these views. That’s the beauty and the beast of the internet. I just yearn for less black and white thinking.
For example, I recently read a particularly spiteful blog where someone described ‘That’s Entertainment’ by The Jam as “Sixth Form pseudo-poetic dross, typical of all of Weller’s samey wallpaper music that has come since”. Now, I’m no Weller fanatic and the line about “tranquillity of solitude” on ‘That’s Entertainment’ has never sat well with me but it’s a perfectly good, very popular song written, at the time, by a talented young British songwriter. Being fair also, you’d have to admit that The Style Council sounded very different to The Jam, which was the point wasn’t it? And if you’ve ever heard anything from the unreleased Style Council house album you’d also have to admit that it’s pretty far removed from Weller’s later solo stuff.
We all have our own personal gripes with cultural icons. Hell, I’m no Bob Dylan fan, I can’t get beyond his whiney nasal voice and perceived self-importance but I do recognise that he was a big influence on Bruce Springsteen, who I do like. Subsequently, Springsteen was then an influence on Mike Scott and also Damon Gough, both of whom I happen to think are great. The knee jerk bone is very much connected to the thigh bone and I have Dylan to thank for certain aspects of my music collection. Without him it would still obviously exist but wouldn’t necessarily be as rich. Likewise, I happen to think Stevie Wonder is a bit overrated and don’t own any of his music. I’ve still danced to ‘Superstition’ enough times to justify not sticking the boot into him during a whimsical grumpy keyboard stabbing session.
David Baddiel wrote an article a few years ago in which he claimed that there were certain things in our culture that were socially unacceptable to dislike. He cited The Simpsons as an example of this before quickly positioning a protective “I’m actually a big fan” caveat on his point. Despite not going the full hog and outing himself as an anti- Groening pariah his point seemed very relevant at the time. You could argue hate blogging is a backlash to this sense of cultural straight jacketing that Baddiel was alluding to. Personally I think this gives it a slightly too glamorous, counter culture cool that it does nothing to deserve. As if railing against the mainstream machine is the focus of these rants. I don’t think it’s that brave. An all too familiar form of instant, online attention seeking that always yields results.
Provocation is the currency, administered from the hi-jacked ethos of the music critic generation. Designed to enrage, engage and impress upon readers that the author is edgy, insightful, popular and/or relevant. The selfsame bloggers who would be petrified occupying the vulnerable position of penning a positive review of their precious Mogwai back catalogue or the new Metronomy album or whatever they’re hiding behind. The baying mob of keyboard critics that they helped to perpetuate would show the requisite amount of mercy as they pulled apart the influences and failings of each and everyone of their beloved acts until they too join in their own massacre and throw their hard drives down the toilet in a red faced tantrum fuelled by betrayal, spittle, self loathing and humiliation.
More likely it’s the crushing realisation that writing something positive is hard work and fragile when completed. Instead, they find it much easier to take the building up to break down cliché and only employing the breaking down part. Hopefully from the rubble of this self-indulgent blitzkrieg there will emerge an understanding that not everything has to be categorised in one singular defining description or category. That Joy Division can be both peerlessly brilliant and slightly dreary all within the same album, or track even in the case of ‘New Dawn Fades’. Music doesn’t have to be just be shit or miss. Shades of grey do exist, especially when put down in black and white.
Click here for more stories about Life
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook