Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Village Voice Pazz 'n' Jop poll is out today, and the results are unsurprising. I am pleased that they printed my comment, though, which is reproduced below. (Disclaimer: You've heard or read me making all these complaints before, in this and other spaces - if not, most annoyingly of all, in person.)


Metal had one of the best years in recent memory - metal's been having a pretty amazing 21st century, frankly. But you'd never know it from year-end lists not published in metal magazines. The Onion A.V. Club completely ignored metal, except for making fun of one of their critics who voted for Opeth on his ballot. Pitchfork's year-end list was also totally metal-free, choosing to focus instead on albums (to quote their write-up of Titus Andronicus's The Airing of Grievances) "about spending your twenties . . . overeducated and underwhelmed." These sites, along with Popmatters and a few others, are nominally the new zeitgeist, shaping pop discourse - and, in the process, defining the canon for the future. And as far as they're concerned, the canon is guitar-based pop music that runs the gamut from folk to soft psychedelia. Token hip-hop and/or r&b acts are permitted, as long as they're stoners (Lil Wayne) or hippie-ish (Erykah Badu). But the rock genre that can actually claim commercial successes this year (not that sales are an aesthetic yardstick)? Nah, no need to bother with that. Pitchfork et al. have broadened their coverage quite a bit - they do a good job of writing about metal during the year. But when list-making time rolls around, the need to fake broad-mindedness goes out the window, and it's time to close ranks in the Short-Haired White Guys With Guitars Club.

I edit a metal magazine; I'm not required to listen to Fleet Foxes or Vampire Weekend when putting together a year-end list. But editors who want their site, magazine, or whatever to represent the full spectrum of rock/pop music, or want to convince people that's the goal, should be willing/able to admit that good albums were made in 2008 that were not limp indie-pop. Or they could just admit they are who their detractors have always said they were.


Joe Victor said...

Good letter, pdf.

I agree with everything but "limp indie-pop." I listen to my share of indie-pop, and MY WANG IS MASSIVE AND HARD!!!! YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Tony Renner said...

what magazine do you edit, phil...?

(in my original post i typoed do as "to")

Phil Freeman said...

I'm the editor-in-chief of Metal Edge, as well as a regular contributor to the Village Voice, The Wire, the Cleveland Free Times, the SF Weekly, Jazziz, Alternative Press, the St. Louis Riverfront Times and other outlets here and there.