Accentuate the Positive: Why Music Critics Write So Many Favorable Reviews < Sound Affects | PopMatters

Mr. Gabriele essentially uses 1702 words to explain that because music is very diverse and subjetive, critics end up focussing on albums they tend to like. I want to highlight some ideas:

It’d be easy to say that music criticism is a broken system, perpetually in fight- or flight-mode, engaged in either rebellion or surrender to the forces that shift and shape sound. Writers try desperately not to get swept up by the throes of fashion and fancy, yet they remain unfocused when there’s no discernible zeitgeist, as there hasn’t been for about 15 years or so (at least one that your average soccer mom could name-check). Napster and YouTube may have expanded our breadth, but little has guided us in how to piece it all together or to put it into any kind of historical or social context other than what our ears can piece together.

…In film, there are myriad places where a movie can fail: lousy acting, an ugly mise en scene, a crappy soundtrack, poor lighting, a rotten or confusing script, a lackluster buildup, a hackneyed ending, a boring set of characters, a dated sensibility, a wrong pace, or any other number of factors. Any one of these things can be the death knell for the entire narrative. A good script might become intolerable with poor direction and poignant words might trip up through the wrong actor’s mouth. It’s far harder to redeem a film that fails than an album that makes mistakes. Even terrible albums can have two or three songs that you must hear, elevating a review ranking up a couple points.

As a (mostly) narrative art form, film has the benefit of existing for itself. As far as film criticism is concerned, movies don’t have to exist in relation to anything else. Each film can be a new beginning, a singularity. Though it helps, a film critic need not be a genre historian to properly critique a horror film or an animated film. The “rules” for these films become self-evident, whereas in music the mind must make abstract connections based on sound alone. The album need not have a plot, nor flow in any kind of traditional manner. Its merits may include consistency or diversity, perfect execution of a formula or total inventiveness, but overall the album just needs a decipherable aesthetic to be a success. Music criticism is a desperate attempt to ossify a subjective intuition into words, to make an analytical science out of an immersive “cool media”.

via Accentuate the Positive: Why Music Critics Write So Many Favorable Reviews < Sound Affects | PopMatters.

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