Every now and then, an entire following comes to a head and starts to question its very purpose for existing – discussion often culminating in the same grim thought: is this thing dead as we know it? Though the idea may sound far-fetched at times, it’s a necessary question indeed. It was not long after I became moderately tuned in to the scraps and meme-toting mobs within the vast community of online listeners and reviewers alike that I realized I was witnessing a new era in music criticism, the byproduct of an age where music streaming sites have maximized accessibility and become the medium of the new generation. A short browsing session into this community will show that official sites like Pitchfork have largely fallen out of favor, toppled by a revolution of sorts fueled by twitter shares, Facebooks posts, and YouTube subscribers. It’s clear that what reigns is a phenomenon ambiguous in its implications regarding the state of music journalism, the written album review in particular. Dan Ozzi’s deep ass question is simple: Is the Album Review Dead?
The article begins by explaining this new age in which listeners “have access to every song, every album, and every note of music ever recorded, available at the touch of a button.” Though recognizing the benefits of this new order (using Anthony Fantano’s success story as one example), Ozzi delves into an underlying disarray starting with the overabundance of counterproductive discourse seen in the “new generation of free-to-low-wage clickjockeys, outrage-generators, and online opinionistas racing against one another to be the first out of the gate with a piping hot take.” The lack of critical depth by music critics is first suggested by the scarcity of negative reviews. While this peculiarity could be simply explained as a lack of competence, further investigation reveals a variety of underlying motives – from the common need for an influx of readers to winning favors and avoiding severe harassment from the artists themselves. According to Ozzi, this endangers not only the integrity of music journalism, but also the careers of artists who display a sense of originality. The article is structured around two key circumstances (in ascending order) which I’ve highlighted: The advanced internet age democratizing music and music criticism and reviews lacking critical depth due to rampant loss of journalistic integrity.
Eventually, the two points are combined in what is an excellent use of synthesis when Ozzi writes, “There will always be good music out there, but thanks to this democratization—and dilution—of traditional music criticism, and its creaky old warhorse, the album review, you, the listener, are on your own, left to the mercy of your own opinions. After all, if Lester Bangs could do it, so can you.” What one can learn from this is that it’s wise to structure an article with a set of concrete points for an equally firm conclusion. Ozzi, with his organized intense research, effectively answers a deep ass question.