Monday, May 29, 2006

“Dada kraut psych mindblowing conscience expanding sublime acid oriented arcana coelestia weirdness”

Well, so much for my favorite Google whacking string.*

Innocently, this all started with Geoffrey Pullum’s puzzlement over the syntactic nature of certain entrees and the in-depth report on music-discovering tools by Chris Dahlen. Then Eric Bakovic had to go introduce the two. The end result?

Ultrahypermegamonstaheavy over the top mammoth freakin mind exploding destroyer psychedelia from the deepest void of neverness and Geoff Pullum’s troubles with young people and parsing their damn Last.fm tags.

What’s my point? It’s a small one, but it boils down to this: The problem isn’t young people, it’s pretentious people who write about music.

You see, it isn’t just any sort of young person who describes music in terms like those above: It’s hipsters. Let’s not beat around the bush. The average young person, even the one’s interested in music don’t talk about songs with such ridiculous labels. It takes the gall of a twentysomething-but-don’t-call-me-a-twentysomething-creative-writing-workshopping-postmodernism-worshipping-art-school-dropout-but-ive-got-a-band-and-heres-my-zine-but-I-don’t-really-do-that-anymore-because-it’s-all-on-my-blog-self-righteous-tut-tutting-socialist-leaning-hipster to turn out the kind of ridiculous garbage described above.

This isn’t a new or unknown phenomenon. UNC has a Facebook Group that’s been around for some years called “Pre-post-modern-arkane-antidilluvian-anachronistic-semi-hardcore-quazi-screamo-joint-thinkcore-emo,” which parodies this tendency towards complex (ab?)use of attributive modifiers. I assume and pray that it is a parody at least.

How did it come to this? Overwrought music writing. Plain and simple. Hipsters, who have never gotten around to writing their Great American Novel (preferably stream of conscious), need an outlet for their unspeakable talent and so try to combine this with their cutting-edge knowledge of music to write music reviews for their local independent weekly or, more likely, their blog.

Unfortunately, bad music writing is part of an infinite feedback loop because the only thing hipsters like more than listening to music, is reading about music. They are the kids in the class who would never dare read Finnegan’s Wake, but eagerly devour all the companions and criticisms. The result is that hipster opinion and the bulk of music criticism exist in a giant echo chamber, where style is just as likely to be copied as substance (and which is really most important to the hipster oeuvre anyway?).

Perhaps at first millions were inspired by the masturbatory writing of Rolling Stone, but there is no question that the gold standard of the present day is Pitchforkmedia.com, a fact brilliantly skewered by David Cross in an article in which he parodies the Pitchfork review style. His article is clever, though undercut by the fact that his parody has a hard time measuring up to the absurdity of the actual reviews. After reading a a few samples, and appreciating the influence of Pitchfork for the young, hip, and musical, it’s not such a huge leap to see how the teeming masses (I meant the elite few) might be led into thinking that tons of attributive modifiers, literary references, gimmick formats, and arcane descriptors are not only one way to describe music, but are actually the standard conventions.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that if Geoffrey Pullum wants someone to blame, he should spare the kids and instead take it out on the guy who first described guitars as sounding “angular.”

(Google “Angular guitar”. The first hit? The Last.fm tag. The scary part? 50,000 other hits. (Fuck. Maybe this really is the standard. Someone needs to tell me what angular means in this context))

*I know that this term is not technically eligible for an "official" Google Whack, so let's assume that we are playing by the house rules.

1 Comments:

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12:25 PM  

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