Q: “Is Pazz & Jop Critically Ill?”

So asks Mark Kemp.

A: Yes, indeed, but this is not a new development (the patient’s condition has been worsening for years), nor does it (in my view) have anything (or anyway, very little) to do with the records the critics chose. Having said as much, I’m now obligated to come up with better reasons for its demise — and eventually I will.

3 thoughts on “Q: “Is Pazz & Jop Critically Ill?”

  1. For all the complaining I did every year—some years, it just seemed impenetrable to me—the absence of Christgau’s essay seems key. It was like an anchor for everything else. I also don’t like the idea of commissioned pieces nearly as much as the wide-ranging assortment of voter comments they used to have (admittedly speaking out of self-interest there)—that part shrinks every year, and this year was down to two computer screen’s worth. Some other obvious reasons:

    1) Polls and lists everywhere. Polls of lists, lists of polls. Starting in February.
    2) Nothing like that could possibly be as important to you when you’re 50 (or thereabouts) as when you’re 25.
    3) The decline of the Voice in general (in fairness, this is just second-hand conventional wisdom—I don’t read it now, and I haven’t really read it since the early ‘90s; I know most people think it was strong through Chuck’s tenure…It certainly looks a lot uglier now, and Hoberman’s gone).
    4) There’s too much stuff out there to keep track of. The world is a confusing place now. I’d expand upon this, but I’m tired.
    5) It used to be therapeutic to get all angry when dumb pop stuff got shut out to make room for Midnight Oil. Now the dumb pop stuff does really well.

  2. I get bombarded with press releases, links etc, and seek out more, but still there’s always something I don’t find out about ’til I see other ballots (how’d I miss Matana Roberts’ post-avant-roots, for lack of a better term Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile–?) Also, the whole lifeboat triage of Top Tenning gets me thinking harder about what I really value in the stuff I like (basically, has to be something that satisfies in a way that no other Year X release quite does—and the basic “Hey Believe It Or Not I’m Still Alive And Making Good Music!” no longer makes for the automatic Top Ten shoo-in; geezer fortitude is always good news but not too terribly rare, so far…).
    All of which requires the agony and ecstasy of closer listening and closer reading as well: a hard squint at my Real writing, ILX impulses, notebook scratchings—-with this year’s ballot, like several previous, posted as “I’ve Seen Rootage!”, comments: “I’ve Seen Bootage!, here: http://thefreelancementalists.blogspot.com

  3. I guess my feeling about all this is that, as much as all of the downslide feels inevitable and beyond any publication’s or individual’s ultimate control (I agree with most of Phil’s reasons, but gather that Don still sees value in it?), the Voice still has the forum, and the readership (at least for this singular yearly moment) to do a way better job with it — to make it more readable and engaging. And yeah, honestly, just do away with the sidebar essays altogether and go with reams of voter commentary instead — something that can never be duplicated anywhere else (whereas, every music publication in the world runs essays at year end). I just don’t believe there’s a reason this thing had to be as nondescript as it is. I’m sure a lot of interesting, funny comments were submitted.

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