Re the placement of "Hyph Mngo" relative to other "post-dubstep", I guess combo of:
That song was in the Pitchfork top 20, was made a big deal of on Pitchfork, etc. 30% of its voters are Pitchfork staffers.
Also, two of the seven all-metal voters are Pitchfork's primary metal writers the past few years. (The others voted 7/10 and 5/10)
And six of the nine people P&J asked to write essays have written for Pitchfork in some capacity, including the two primary editors of the whole thing.
So to blame us for just the indie stuff ignores that, again, most of our non-indie selections are also the same ones picked out here; and to blame us for crashing the gates is silly since the two top names on the masthead of pazz and jop are p4k vets.
* in general, I don't see why it's weird to anyone that nominally indie rock is at the top of this. Rock music made by 20s and 30somethings presumably *always* was pretty well at the center of this stuff. Today almost any of that stuff that gets any critical traction is under the pointless tent of 'indie', whether its yyys or lcd or spoon or hold steady or some tiny band in williamsburg - or hell even electronic (v acoustic/electric) artists like mia or hot chip or anco. The change is with rock music more than it is with critics. This is what rock music made by and for adults looks and sounds like now.
* e.g. I don't see anyone here riding for radio-ready modern rock and complaining about Kings of Leon. I don't see them plumping for Flo Rida or BEP whatever either. In fact in all the hand-wringing I see very few realistic alternatives that people "should" be making, which makes me wonder what people thought would place high on this thing instead of what actually did.
* "stuff pitchfork covers" isn't just an indie diseases here-- take any music not made by boomers, performing in any genre, and it matches up well with our publication. (e.g. a full 30 of the top 34 songs also made the pitchfork list; exceptions: BEP, Kings of Leon, Avett Bros., and a Lady Gaga song that was tossed because she already had two spots on the list)
* more examples: the four metal lps in the top 50 here are the same as the four in our top 50/hm; five of the six hip-hop lps in the top 62 here are the exact same ones on the pitchfork list as well; the two r&b lps in the top 50 are the same; The *whole thing* matches up with our sensibilities, so long as we cover that genre)
* Which is another way of me saying for the 100th time: we cover a lot more than the indie stuff, and I think we can direct people to more than that too. If anything, with our readers, it's safer to say they'd have found Phoenix regardless and what we do more than anything is expand their POV, which I've said previously as well: For all the shit we get, I think our coverage of pop over the past seven years arguably did as much for "poptimism" as anything else. certainly more than the one time the NYT published an article on it, or whatever gets credit for that. (e.g. I assume joy o and shine blockas weird placements are more due to us than, say, phoenix or yyys)
*last thing, which amazes me is almost never brought up in these handwringing threads, is everyone says "it's too bad there aren't more crits who want to write about x, y, z" and I would guess there are plenty of them-- but there aren't many readers who want to read about that stuff.
In the internet-era, when there is way less guesswork about what readers want from critics, I don't see much evidence from consumers or whomever that people want to read analytical or intelligent writing about, say, R&B or modern country, or even most metal. Maybe I'm wrong and there is some sort of place for discussion of this stuff, but I've seen us and RA and Stereogum and some other places thrive and/or get a foothold while the old VV, Blender, the thing CNET tried to start, Maura's Idolator, Stylus (which was about 5% less indie than p4k anyway) drift away and I feel like by now everyone complaining about that or missing them are people, say, posting in this thread. Don't get me wrong: And I say that regrettably, it's an awful state for music criticism to be in, but after watching this happen for five years I have a pretty realistic and less romantic view about it than I used to. This is the way it is and unless you turn the people who do want to discuss and read about music online (i.e. who many of you would call "indie fans") into R&B fans too, I don't see where the audience for this stuff comes from.
And, so, it's possible, just possible, that it was *always* like that-- and a lot of outlets were publishing a lot of words about a lot of things their readers cared zero about, and now that we have fairly direct metrics to sort out what readers do like, that is being exposed.
don't mean to sound either confrontational or triumphant, just feel a little defensive in the face of some of the finger-pointing and I think a lot of it is a matter of scapegoating us for the things one doesn't like but never giving any credit for things that you all do like about these results.
― scottpl, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:08 (thirteen years ago) link
hell, I'm sure there are a lot of typos there, which is what I get for hastily tossing thoughts off the top of my head and not re-reading, anyway..
― scottpl, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:11 (thirteen years ago) link
re: the first bulleted point up there, I didn't close my thought, but shit like spoon or yyys or THS is only indie these days by default; it's basically just "rock" but since there is no place in the marketplace to validate rock music that isn't utter lunkhead third gen grunge or made for pre-teens, it's all called "indie" and it appears that "indie" is growing when more to the point "rock" is contracting
― scottpl, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:13 (thirteen years ago) link
Are you just referring to the boycott of P&J by voters who defected to Jackin' Pop?
The boycott (and in some cases just plain lack of interest after the firings at the Voice) was a part of it, but generally I just meant the participation drop from about 800 critics in '05 to 500 in '06, the lowest number of critics polled since at least the 90s (not sure which year participation was comparably low).
― a coffee machine in an office (dabug), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:20 (thirteen years ago) link
I don't know that anyone is "blaming" Pitchfork for the indie stuff, or claiming that indie stuff is the only thing Pitchfork covers, either. (And I do agree that the genre "indie" is really vague now -- in the top 10, for instance, do YYYs or Flaming Lips or New Pornographer Neko Case even fit the genre? I honestly have no idea. Which was one reason I didn't try to quantify indie vs not-indie in my essay.) What I tried to get around in my essay was (1) the unprecedented overwhelming domination of a single aesthetic, or what is perceived to be a certain aesthetic, at the top of the poll; (2) the poll's unprecedented overlap with a poll published by a website largely dependent on that aesthetic (i.e., my problem isn't that Pitchfork exists, but that P&J voters suddenly seem so reliant on what it's already decided counts as good music); and (3) most dumbfoundingly for me, the overlap between the singles and albums results, only with records that people associate with that aesthetic. Maybe that really is "just the way it is" now. But it wasn't always. It's something new, and it's worth figuring out.
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:29 (thirteen years ago) link
scott: all great points, as usual! my only question would be: why do you think P4k, Stereogum, and RA are "thriving" while those other publications you listed aren't? because the former are writing to a large audience that wants to read about indie and related music and the latter were more esoteric?
― kshighway (ksh), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:30 (thirteen years ago) link
(i read what you posted twice, just trying to think it through a bit more.)
In the internet-era, when there is way less guesswork about what readers want from critics, I don't see much evidence from consumers or whomever that people want to read analytical or intelligent writing about, say, R&B or modern country, or even most metal.
Is this also your reasoning for dropping the reggae/dancehall column? Monthly grime column ok, ocassional cd reviews of Afropop and r'n'b and metal and and reggae reissues ok, but nothing more.
― curmudgeon, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:30 (thirteen years ago) link
Do Tim Finney's ocassional reviews of R'n'b on Pitchfork get less internet hits?
― curmudgeon, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:34 (thirteen years ago) link
curmudgeon: well the main reason was that Dave Stelfox moved and that coincided with us moving from five/features a week to three -- something had to go. You could blame the economy as much as anything else.
― scottpl, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:36 (thirteen years ago) link
I actually tried going back to previous P&J Top 10s, fwiw, and counting the number of indie artists in each. But it was basically impossible, because there are so many grey areas in the definition -- where do you put Portishead, Santogold, Nick Cave, Radiohead, M.I.A., Danger Mouse, White Stripes, Drive By Truckers, Modest Mouse? So I put that piece of paper away. Thing is, no matter how stringently or liberally you define the genre, no Top 10 came close to 2009's in terms of artists that people somehow associate with the genre. And by my count, there are at least five, probably six (Phoenix?) artists this year where there's no grey area at all. As far as I can tell, that's never happened before. And the singles Top 10 is way beyond any previous year's total; again, I'd be more comfortable if it at least had different indie artists on it than the album list. As is, it just looks retarded.
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:37 (thirteen years ago) link
19781. Elvis Costello: This Year's Model (Columbia) 2. The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (Rolling Stones) 3. Nick Lowe: Pure Pop for Power People (Columbia) 4. The Clash: Give 'Em Enough Rope (Epic) 5. Talking Heads: More Songs About Buildings and Food (Sire) 6. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness at the Edge of Town (Columbia) 7. Ramones: Road to Ruin (Sire) 8. Neil Young: Comes a Time (Reprise) 9. The Cars: The Cars (Elektra) 10. David Johansen: David Johansen (Blue Sky)
Since I'd argue most of these albums come from what can easily be perceived as a "single aesthetic," does anyone know if this is basically what Rolling Stone was praising at the time? There's no singles chart for P'n'J yet so I don't know how much overlap there would have been.
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:38 (thirteen years ago) link
look at all the white ppl
― call all destroyer, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:41 (thirteen years ago) link
oh to return to those unpredictable days when top 10s looked fresh and unusual
― ('_') (omar little), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:42 (thirteen years ago) link
Well, 1978 is also the year that Christgau wrote his essay about "new wave hegemony," right? He was worried then that one aesthetic was coming to dominate the poll. (Black artists did really shitty, too, as I recall, partly in the wake of "disco sucks.") I'd say that Top 10 looks more homogenous in retrospect than it did then (I'm not sure; I wasn't writing about music yet.) But his 1978 essay was to some extent in the back of mind when I started thinking about the 2009 results.
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:44 (thirteen years ago) link
(3) most dumbfoundingly for me, the overlap between the singles and albums results
Singles used to have a somewhat objective definition - something you could hear on the radio or see a video of on MTV. Now any artist can make a video and upload it to YouTube, hence the explosion of what qualifies as a single. I think the old pattern was that critics would vote for their less mainstream favorites under albums and then the mainstream stuff would go under singles. Now the mainstream is whatever you want it to be, so there's less need to go outside your musical comfort zone for singles picks.
― o. nate, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:45 (thirteen years ago) link
xp And right, there wasn't a singles poll until a year later. But in 1979, the only Top 10 single overlapping with the album Top 10 was by Donna Summer. (Not a white ppl.)
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:47 (thirteen years ago) link
FWIW the 'research shows the readers don't want that' doctrine pretty much destroyed the NME, in terms of both readership and quality.
― Space Battle Rothko (Matt DC), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:48 (thirteen years ago) link
There were always plenty of "non-mainstream" singles in the poll, though. (In fact, the singles poll was the first place that indie label rock -- the Brains, Robin Lane & the Chartbusters, Bush Tetras, Pylon -- actually placed. None had an album that did comparably well.)
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:50 (thirteen years ago) link
Since I'd argue most of these albums come from what can easily be perceived as a "single aesthetic," does anyone know if this is basically what Rolling Stone was praising at the time?
Best Album• Some Girls - Rolling Stones
Runners-Up• Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Bruce Springsteen• Running On Empty - Jackson Browne• This Year's Model - Elvis Costello• Road To Ruin - Ramones• Misfits - Kinks
Best Single• Stayin Alive - Bee Gees
Runners-Up • Life's Been Good - Joe Walsh• Miss You - Rolling Stones• Because The Night - Patti Smith • Rock And Roll Fantasy - Kinks• Werewolves Of London - Warren Zevon• Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty• Just What I Needed - Cars
― Hoisin Murphy (jaymc), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:51 (thirteen years ago) link
If "singles" were limited to songs heard on the radio and seen on MTV it would definitely be a consensus, what with shrinking playlists everywhere.
― you gone float up with it (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:51 (thirteen years ago) link
I definitely think the singles homogeneity is more concerning (i think that the "no reason to go outside musical comfort zone" has a lot to do with it) than the "homogeneity" of the album choices. The top ten is always about forming a canon, and since no one can really come up with some obvious LPs being ignored, I'd just say it was a year where you didn't have a lot of canonical LPs coming from pop, r&b, etc. But "hipster shit" tends to dominate whenever there aren't a lot of undeniable popular works outside of it - as Scott notes nobody's screaming "where are the black eyed peas???" - and this year just had fewer pre-indie canonical fogies of note to make the list look less pitchforky.
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:54 (thirteen years ago) link
I don't think it's research so much as dollar votes and actual measurable metrics (i.e. hits)-- and I do think there is a lot more history of quality music writing in the UK tbh. There were far more music mags of note there, despite the smaller population.
(more defensiveness: fwiw, we don't trend toward embracing the lowest denominator anyway-- we write often about what we want to cover instead of waiting to sort out what readers might like, and we print lengthy reviews while everyone else is doing the opposite.)
― scottpl, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:56 (thirteen years ago) link
There were always plenty of "non-mainstream" singles in the poll, though
Sure, there were, but they were usually limited to tracks that had a physical release as a single, like on a 7-inch. Since not every band released stuff on 7-inch, there was an upper limit on how much overlap there could be with the albums.
― o. nate, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:56 (thirteen years ago) link
top 5 selling albums of 1978:1 Saturday Night Fever - ost2 Grease - ost3 Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (#1 seller of 77!)4 Billy Joel - The Stranger5 Steely Dan - Aja
― ┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:56 (thirteen years ago) link
btw, for anyone who followed my attempt to review 1000 2009 releases over twitter, here are the 10 highest ranking records on Pazz And Jop and why I didn’t end up reviewing them. dunno what some of these exactly say about my "worldview" or "how I hear music"
43. Allen Toussaint – The Bright MississippiN0nesuch hasn’t sent me an e-mail in five years. I literally have no concept whatsoever of what’s happening over there at any given time. I literally didn’t even know this record existed until today. I saw Allen at Bonnaroo and he was amazing. What can I say?
50. Vijay Iyer Trio – HistoricityEveryone was raving about this record around September. I tried at least five times to steal a leak on the internet but “universally acclaimed jazz record” doesn’t exactly get as many Rapidshare hits as 'important' stuff like “Japandroids demos.” I literally tried but COULDNT FIND a leak of this record. Jazz nerds need to step their internet game up. I probably should have reached out to the label, but I had like 300 other records to hear and it got lost in the shuffle. I ended up hearing a copy in laaaaate December as i was in the home stretch and didn't really have room for it.
72. The Black Crowes – Before The Frost… Until The FreezeIt’s the Black Crowes. I promptly judged this book by its leather fringe, patchouli-soaked cover and avoided it entirely. Is this good? I don't believe it.
73. Loudon Wainwright III – High Wide And Handsome: The Charlie Poole ProjectI respect his legacy and all but this dude’s stuff is like the Paste magazine jams that are just totally off my radar.
87. Buddy And Julie Miller – Written In ChalkThem too.
90. Built To Spill – There Is No EnemyBuilt To Spill make some of the most boring, uninteresting music I’ve ever heard. After hearing hundreds of bad indie rock bands that rip them off in 2009, the prospect of sitting through an album by them literally disgusted me. I was praying it would be just some probly-6.0-on-Pitchfork nineteenth album by some band people don’t care about anymore. But instead I was wrong and here we are.
94. Nellie McKay – Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute To Doris DayI was bored just reading the title. What the fuck
103. Vic Chesnutt – At The CutR.I.P., dude. I still have no idea what your music sounds like.
115 Lee Fields & The Expressions – My WorldI bet I would have liked this. I never heard of it until now.
122. Franco & Le Tout Puissant OK Jazz – Francophonic, Vol 2I need to hear more jazz apparently
― Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:57 (thirteen years ago) link
1978 music consumers >>>>>>>> Pazz Joppers imo
more like Nick LOL
― ┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 19:58 (thirteen years ago) link
quick think of 10 critically popular bands that broke after 1989 that aren't remotely "indie"
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:00 (thirteen years ago) link
xxp 43, 50, 72, and 90 are all over 140 characters.
― Hoisin Murphy (jaymc), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:01 (thirteen years ago) link
Green Day, System Of A Down, The Roots
― Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:03 (thirteen years ago) link
and with RATM you have 4
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:04 (thirteen years ago) link
― Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:05 (thirteen years ago) link
oh wait, scratch that
pretty sure they broke before 1989
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:05 (thirteen years ago) link
― Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:06 (thirteen years ago) link
― that sex version of "blue thunder." (Mr. Que), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:07 (thirteen years ago) link
yeah, she's folk, right
― da croupier, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:07 (thirteen years ago) link
nah she's blues
― that sex version of "blue thunder." (Mr. Que), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:08 (thirteen years ago) link
i guess she's not a band, though
Do Outkast, Wu Tang, etc. count as bands?
― EZ Snappin, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:09 (thirteen years ago) link
PJ Harvery is a band whose lead singer is Polly Jean Harvey, kind of like how Sade is a band fronted by Sade Adu.
― Vajazzle My Nazzle (HI DERE), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:09 (thirteen years ago) link
― that sex version of "blue thunder." (Mr. Que), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:09 (thirteen years ago) link
saying Green Day (or RATM) are not remotely indie reeks of massive revisionism.
― ┌∩┐(◕_◕)┌∩┐ (Steve Shasta), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:10 (thirteen years ago) link
― ('_') (omar little), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:10 (thirteen years ago) link
idk wtf is wrong with my typing today
― Vajazzle My Nazzle (HI DERE), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:10 (thirteen years ago) link
*crosses fingers in the hope that this thread devolves into a crazy bunch of posts about what is and isn't indie.*
― that sex version of "blue thunder." (Mr. Que), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:11 (thirteen years ago) link
Mastodon, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dixie Chicks (or, if they're too early, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Or Tinariwen. Or Kings Of Leon.)
― xhuxk, Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:11 (thirteen years ago) link
those nu metal and post grunge bands that sold shitloads arent remotely indie.Hootie as well.
― Pfunkboy (Herman G. Neuname), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:11 (thirteen years ago) link
My Morning Jacket
indie - guitars, distortion, bad singingnot indie - a vagina
― Vajazzle My Nazzle (HI DERE), Wednesday, 20 January 2010 20:12 (thirteen years ago) link