We are all critics. The thing is, some people actually call themselves such, and/or are paid to. This post is about the latter.

Why do we listen to critics? Unless someone is genuinely qualified in the field and have actually done what they critique, I feel they have little to no validity to cut others down.

Let me be clear: I believe there’s a stark difference between a journalist and a critic. A journalist tells a story, a critic is nothing but a monday morning quarterback. Yes, journalists often disclose their own opinions on the subject, but at least in the context of telling a story.

I have never understood the way Rolling Stone Magazine shuns Billy Joel, and have most of his nearly 40-year career.

If I only listened to what the “experts” at Rolling Stone had to say, I would have missed out on conjuring up my (hopefully someday) fantasy concert. I would have missed out on the music of the man who nearly single-handedly changed my view of music eighteen years ago, thereby changing my life.

On a related note, if I picked my music based on what nearly every single person around me thought, I would not be enjoying the music of The Hold Steady.

Go with what you love. Only you know what it is.


2 thoughts on “Critics

  1. I totally see where you’re coming from here (mostly because I can’t stand Rolling Stone either) but I think you’re being a bit melodramatic. Yes, critics are “know-it-alls” that we listen to because they put their opinion in some sort of print which gives them some sort of “legitimacy”. But, where would most of us listeners be without them? We all disagree with them at one time…or several others, but we also have found countless bands/artists through their positive opinion.

    Just because a critic has never played any instrument doesn’t mean they have no taste or understanding of music, does it? The generic music fan or casual listener would have no direction beyond what their other generic music friends tell them to listen to (or the radio) without the music critics of the world. Sure, we can miss out on hearing a life-changing artist based on a bad rating but eventually that artist will be heard if they’re good enough and close enough to the general style that the particular listener tunes into most of the time.

    If you don’t know music and its world too well then all most people have is the opinion of another who does it for a living. If you DO know music well and you simply listen to one persons opinion without seeking your own opinion or several others as well…then you’re just lazy.

    • Mike, many thanks for your reply. Great points you make here, no question. I just personally get really tired of hearing people that have no background “in the trenches” from which to fully understand whatever situation they are critiquing. Like when I’m watching ESPN, I want to listen to talking heads that have either played the game, or been deeply involved with it in some way or other.

      Either way, you are right. A lack of background does not equal nothing intelligent to say.

      Thanks again for reading.


      John Clore

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