and this is a case of a me (the reviewer) reviewing the work of another reviewer, Carl Wilson.
Carl Wilson is Slate's Music Critic and the author of the new, standalone edition from the Let's Talk About Love series by Bloomsbury
In the book Wilson considers both the world-wide popularity, and, on the flip-side, the mockery that has surrounded Canadian Mega Star/Pop Star, Celine Dion, but the book is really a case study of what we deem to be cool or uncool, and what is good music taste, and what is bad. Even more, it is a blueprint about reviewing music and music culture with a professional eye. Recommended.
I ask what is it that makes a reputed reviewer. I'm sure Wilson would agree with me that the answer, in short, is that it is down to being as objective as you can and not being swayed by populist opinion, and then being a stickler for those principles over time. You should have some knowledge of your subject; not just prior knowledge, but academic knowledge (on a level). Being insightful is useful, and, in a peculiar sense, be non judgmental - it helps.
I have been a theatre critic for seven years now. Reviewing stage, as with reviewing anything professionally, means you have to be discerning, but when it comes to reviewing music, well you still have to be discerning, but it is a little more complicated than that.
There is a pull, in youth music culture, to be part of the ‘in crowd’, and, then, as time passes, snobbery sets in because music that is more lasting, eventually achieves critical acclaim as a matter of course, largely because of the ‘in crowd’ loyalty surrounding it.
Growing up with two Metal loving brothers meant my love of Glam Rock and Disco was often ridiculed, whereas my aversion was to Country music. I’m still not a fan but I have learned to appreciate it (I’m expressing my sensibility with this comment), but, yes, it is funny how tastes shift.
Take the music of Burt Bacharach for example, if his songs were ever riding o’er the airways or performed on TV it would be enough to send teenage me in to a state of sustained boredom while it played. Yet, I hear only this week, on the radio, that Burt is touring the UK this summer. They play a couple of sound bites…“Walk on By” and “The Look of Love” and I’m suddenly two feet deep in awe. I look up the main man's back catalogue and can do nothing but admire the genius.
Photograph of Burt Bacharach Source: The Dusty Springfield Network
Yet, I’ve never learned to love Opera, nor Deacon Blue or the Manics as it happens, and I’m not, on any account, being anti elitist, anti-Scottish or anti-Welsh when I say that.
“Hell is other people’s music” is the first line of the book I mention above by Carl Wilson entitled ‘LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE Why Other People have such bad taste’ arguably, no truer words have ever been spoken!