In 2007, the Canadian music critic Carl Wilson published a book-length experiment in extreme aesthetic sport: a sincere and shockingly comprehensive study of music he had already decided he hated. That book, Let’s Talk About Love, named for the Celine Dion album it studied, has become a cornerstone text in the school of criticism known as “poptimism,” because it treats seemingly disposable pop music as worthy of serious thought.
Last month, Let’s Talk About Love was reissued with a set of new essays by writers like Nick Hornby, Krist Novaselic, James Franco and NPR Music’s own Ann Powers. The timing couldn’t have been better. In 2014, nothing starts a fight more quickly than a huge pop song. Ann and Carl exchanged notes on why.