It’s been a while since New York ran one of its “Jukebox” features, in which three “citizen critics” review current album releases. And frankly, we were hoping that the lull meant that someone had finally put the kibosh on this lazy, impossibly smug round-up, which the magazine often publishes in lieu of actual, you know, record reviews. Why does it drive us so coconuts? Let us count thee ways.
1) The smug illustrations We’re sure the “critics” here all very nice New Yorkers–people who always remember to put heavy trash on the sidewalk, and who never jaywalk when they know impressionable little kids are looking. But could their folded-arms stance look any more self-satisfied? It’s like they’re saying, “Oh, I may have a passionate opinion about this song, but I would never get too excited and gesticulate wildly about it, because that would be just so déclassé.”
2) The lack of actual criticism New York has more than a few knowledgeable music writers and critics on their staff; do they really need to fill up two whole pages just so we can find out that Lily Allen has “buzzing, blipping instrumentation with appealingly casual, potty-mouthed vocals and some super-hook-y tunes”? And why are they turning over a Lucinda Williams review to someone whose country-music knowledge consists entirely of Bright Eyes and Wilco?
3) It comes from a magazine that treats music with $300 Tiffany-engraved tongs While New York‘s blog has plenty of music-related articles and news items, the printed version only covers pop and rock sporadically, at best: Reviews will appear for an issue or two, and then disappear for weeks, and the feature well rarely makes room for long-form profiles (the only reliable places to find music coverage are the Approval Matrix and the events listings). This would be fine if it was Woneega County Weekly, but it’s New York. It’s not like the editors need a three-day editorial retreat to come up with some music-story idea memos.
Admittedly, the “Jukebox” feature was likely intended to circumvent the typical quick-capsule approach, and we recognize the value of a good franchise. But this is disservice journalism, and New York readers hoping to get even the smallest amount of music-crit insight are instead treated to some throwaway remark about fifth-graders sulking about the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record. It’s a condescending approach to the medium, and one they’d never take with film, theater or television. We realize the current music scene is not as exciting as the Upper East Side brats who are hot-knifing their prep-school days away, but would it kill you guys to acknowledge it as a semi-vital part of your readers’ lives?
Oh, and, we hate to harp on it, but seriously: Giving away that Children Of Men twist was so dickardly.