Saturday, 26 June 2004

Ars gratia artis

I seem to have struck a nerve with my (admittedly off-the-cuff) criticism of critics of popular music.

I think Jay gets to the heart of much of my critique, but there’s another component of it as well. One often hears that “band X is a ripoff of band Y.” Band X need not have covered any of band Y’s songs—all they have to do is “sound like” band Y. This has always struck me as something of a silly critique; if people like what Pearl Jam sounds like, and Pearl Jam isn’t making any more songs, why should we complain if Creed makes some songs that sound like something Pearl Jam might have performed? I could understand the critique if Creed went out and covered every song on Ten, or if Pearl Jam were still releasing new albums, but the critique as it stands seems rather odd.

There is one other point I should clarify from my previous post; I made a point of including “NPR listeners” among the group of similarly-afflicted snobs. I actually have no problem with NPR listeners in general, although I do have a problem with NPR listeners who make a point of telling everyone they meet that they listen to NPR. (The classic quote on NPR is, alas, missing from the memorable quotes page for NewsRadio in the Internet Movie Database.)