A few years ago, we discovered a fledgling, semi-regularly updated music blog called Stereogum. Written by VH1 employee Scott Lapatine, it quickly became a daily read: Earnest, easily digestible, and charmingly low-fi–much like the music it covered. We loved it. Scratch that–we [hearted] it.
So what happened? (Or, in the parlance of newly “fuck”-obsessed Stereogum, “What the fuck happened?”) In the last few months, the site has undergone a none-too-subtle transformation that’s converted it from a subtly funny one-person operation to a noisy, overcrowded echo chamber. The writing has become abysmal: Yesterday’s post on Norah Jones wouldn’t have made it past even the most inexperienced college-paper editorial desk without being buried in red-pencil marks (“bland as milquetoast”?). The attempt to incorporate hip-hop–rarely, if ever, covered in the past–is transparent to the point of patronizing; no matter how hard they try, they’re still going to be the site that only two months ago asked, “Why does hip-hop hate melody so much?” And the constant Apple-shilling is embarrassing.
Maybe this is the inevitable result of Stereogum getting paid. In October, they teamed up with Internet investment firm the Pilot Group. But Lapatine doesn’t strike us as the kind of guy that would take the money and run off to a desert island (though perhaps he has, as we have no idea who’s actually writing the site nowadays). The fact is, Stereogum’s next few years will likely foretell the fate of all music blogs that outgrow their initially small readership, and while we’ve always hoped that their ascent would mirror the independent-press boom of the early ’90s, Stereogum seems to be turning more and more into a radio station: You can check in for some new music, but you’d better be prepared for a lot of boneheaded chatter.
And so we plead: Scott, come back to Stereogum. No one’s going to blame you for cashing in (we celebrated the Pilot deal, in fact). But you are missed, and something needs to be done to return the site to its former Stereoglory.