How important are rock critics?

Tony C

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A broad question, I know.

Like many kids I was about 15 when my music obsession kicked in. This was 1972, obviously way before the internet age and in order to become acquainted with anything other than chart/mainstream radio music - and to make sure that all my weekend job money was spent on albums that would make a difference to my life - had to dig. Finding rock critics I could trust was vital. So guys like Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and Pete Erskine from New Musical Express or Andy Childs from ZigZag became pivotal guides to my musical development, and all were found to be pretty trustworthy. I fully understand that I may represent an older demographic here on CR and that the role of the critic has been diminished in the online age but I’d be interested in members’ response to these questions. Is rock criticism important to you in the streaming age? Who are your favourite rock critics and why? Do you still buy records based on their recommendations?
 
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Slipn

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A educated man eh?? :cool: I'll just say to me rock critics, news casters, sports casters, hall of fame judges, are no help to me. I won't even listen to radio stations anymore and that has been my thing for many years. Blah blah blah is all I hear.
This forum IMO would be a good place to find new bands if your looking. Most of these members are seasoned older and helpful when it comes to the knowledge and research they do to spotlight bands they know.
 
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I WAS a Rock Critic and I can tell you that Critics ARE NOT important. Artists are important. At least, some of them. Critics have a place, but it's not being critical. The people that pass judgement on an artist's work, say it's good or bad, are out of line. When I reviewed albums I tried to understand what the artist was trying to do, explain that to readers. But critics have no right to pass judgement, say a work is good or bad.
 

Tony C

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Yeah, I have to say that while I do do still read some hard copy music mags - an odd edition of Uncut or Classic Rock here or there - I don’t hang on to the words of critics like I did fifty years ago. I don’t need them now but I did then. I had to get my info from somewhere. Now it’s everywhere.
 

dr wu

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I will read reviews now and then....mostly on prog rock these days on Progrock Archives ....but I dont pay attention to 'critics' on music. I used to read Rolling Stone in the late 60's and into the 70's on reviews but stopped in the mid 1980s or so.
 

Magic

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I also began my music adventure, and music is an adventure, when I was about 13….which would be 1973. I depended upon the radio, my older brothers, my friends, and what was being played at the roller skating rink for my music interests & discoveries.
Music magazines back then were not of much interest to me. At that age I couldn’t waste my money on magazines.
As I got a little older, I enjoyed Rolling Stone and MAD magazine. Did I take anything the critics said as reality? No. Most of the critics had totally different tastes in music (and movies) than me during that time period.
However….MTV…..became a huge influence. (That’s a whole new discussion, though)

I don’t depend on any critic to make my music choices. I like reading what critics say, though. One thing I will say about critics is they usually will not form opinions regarding music they don’t like or are not familiar with. There is always a bias.
I enjoy writing album reviews and first impressions, when I have the extra time to do so. I am not a published critic. I am not even able to sing, play an instrument, or read music and I know nothing about production. I just like to listen to music. All kinds of music. I like to tell people what I “feel” about the music and its listening pleasure for ME.
Review writing is time consuming. I will listen to an album 3 - 4 times, back to back. Then listen again AFTER I search for & read other reviews, to see if I hear what others say they hear. Then I listen again, while I write.
I appreciate & respect a critic & reviewer, but I will never choose my music based on their subjective views.
 

Nai Noswad

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Good subject matter, the question can be divided into several parts.
First it was /is a generational thing, right upto the Internet-the world and it's connections were huge, only people with power, money or privelage of position were able to connect globally - whereas now at the click of a mouse... Armenian rap(if it exists!) can be seen and heard. I recall how much weight the written word carried, say in the 1970's. Critics and music press wielded a pretty hefty pen and their column in the music press could potentially make or break a single or album. Radio DJ's were like God's back in the day. Having worked in radio, I saw first hand how the promo wheel turns. Runners from Universal, EMI etc... would call up and send freebies and goodies to get you to play a song (at peak times) and basically plug it within an inch of it's life.
Back in the 70's we hung on every word in the NME, Rolling Stone, Sounds etc.. the litmus test was seeing the sleeve(most important)... entering a pinholed booth in Woolworths or Boots Chemist and listening to the darn thing. If it rated... you shelled out yer' £2.49p and hoped the gang at school or college felt likewise.
YouTube and the Internet have bred a million reviewers and diluted that curiousity process in a sense. Though Joe public is more savvy these days and respects the 'Street Word' as opposed to the corporates. Critics can lead you to the pool of music.... but where you and what you listen and Rate is purely personal.
Did /do critics serve a purpose? ... in many ways they are the first step in an onward journey.
However as I no longer read, view the TV or listen to woke drenched radio... my inner ear and eclectic antenna are tried and trusted.
 

Magic

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That is what today’s world has become, with the internet, anyone can potentially be an influencer if you have enough viewers/subscribers.
Youtube is loaded with “influencers” promoting and reviewing the freebies they received and the paid promotions. Positive reviews = more freebies.
I use to read a very popular heavy metal reviewer’s articles. Now he speaks of the “promo dump” he receives. He now has a full staff. I realize everyone has to make a living, but when you take what you started out enjoying & loving, and pump out reviews at the rate this guy puts them out, it be comes a job. You lose that ”believable” quality the music reviews once had.
Like I said earlier, a review is time consuming. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a first impression.

If I see a pair of Louboutin High Heels, my first impression is going to be “They’re a 10”. After I wear them a while, I realize they are pretty and all, but uncomfortable as hell. I now give them a 5…..and that’s because they look pretty on display.
Music is the same…..you have to try it for a while and then form an opinion.
I trust the people here on this forum and what they think of artists and bands much more than any critic who gets paid for their biased opinions.
 

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