Monday, June 8, 2009

You're Only As Cool As Your Favorite Blog

Hey, remember our youth?

Doesn't matter how old you are, 'cause if you're young enough to use the internet, this will probably apply to you. I'm talking about the days when we only had a few channels (figuratively) to receive pop culture. The one radio station in your town that played the stuff you like, or in the case of my generation, MTV. We had a few ways to find out about the new cool thing, and since everyone in our sphere watched/listened to the same outlet (that's what made us "of the same sphere"), we all had access to the same material, specifically music.

2009: Radio's a lost cause, unless you live in a heavily college-oriented town, in which case you might pick up a good college station. MTV's a joke, since when they do squeeze in a video between episodes of The Real World and My Super Sweet 16, it's crap that somebody is paying a lot of money to hype. I don't mean that to be snarky, it's just the way things work anymore. So we've turned to other outlets. For most, it's the internet. What, you expected something else?

Now that everyone has limitless avenues of exposure to music and culture, one has to trust their outlet to keep them in "cool," if cool is what they're chasing. But since this isn't a unified outlet that everyone is tuning in to, they'll most likely be getting slightly different information, unless their blog is getting it's info from a bigger, more popular, and "guaranteed cool" source.

[Note: Not every blog on the internet is guilty of this offense. I'm merely speaking in generalities to illustrate a point.]

Now, there are a couple of problems with this model. Number one is the idea that there may be an "indie rock mother blog" that begins a trickle-down effect. If this is the case, we have to find it and kill it. Pitchfork, I'm looking at you. But this network keeps to it's own yard and is so afraid of being outré, that what you essentially get is a case of a million bloggers scrambling to be different just like everybody else. I don't care how many blogs post about them, I think that The Knife, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Joanna Newsom SUCK. But wouldn't you hate to be the one voice of dissent in the blogosphere? Suddenly you're uncool, and nobody trusts your validity as a tastemaker anymore. It's tantamount to badmouthing Nirvana in '92, after they get a new video into rotation. More than a few "what's WRONG with him?" glances have been shot for less grevious offenses.

[I do, by the way, understand the irony that I'm badmouthing those acts on a blog, thereby negating any credibility I might have had with their fans. I just don't care.]

So where does that leave things? Well, as stated much better elsewhere (and forgive me, Mr. Shelley, if I appear to be misconstruing any of your meaning), the music-based blog world is turning into a more technologically advanced version of the British music press. Why go to blogs? Sensational "I got here first" scoops, and "free" samples. Once you run out of good bands, however, you're forced to give "scoops" that don't necessarily deserve it, just to keep yourself reputable as a scoop-source. And it's easier to back up your case when you're posting new songs that sound like other songs that have previously been approved - how else can you explain electroclash? By that point, you've lost the point (and the plot). Once people realize that what you just fed them is crap (please see the electroclash reference), they'll spit it back out, a backlash will ensue, and then you'll have to come up with something new-but-not-too-new, and the cycle will continue. The build-'em-up, smack-em-down frequency builds up speed, and then you're just swimming in crap.

But you've gotta trust your blog. If not, you don't know what everyone else says that cool is. And if you don't know what define cool as being, how are people gonna respect you? Your taste?


  1. I'll never understand what people see in Joanna Newsome. That shit is awful. That's the kind of stuff that's so far up its own ass that Pitchfork seems to really enjoy. Why does it have to be completely unlistenable to be considered good?

  2. Agreed, and that question is seconded. It's like there's some sort of transferrance property that seems to state "excellent = challenging = difficult = dissonant = unlistenable = awful". I wish Pfork would shut down their site for a day, and cut out the middle man with a huge JPEG that just says "excellent = awful". It would do their job a lot faster.