24 July, 2008


Contacts, a.k.a. Yes, Another Music Blog. Another load of self-absorbed, pretentious articles by a wannabe and/or failed journalist, bemoaning the state of current journalistic standards and publications that won't let them write what they want to write, as ever making the mistake that journalism is a means of personal self-expression as they wait to be talent-spotted. Will this one be any different? This writer is no more funny, talented or even readable than others, and there are some extremely talented music bloggers out there. She has worked as a journalist for some prominent Dublin publications and loved it. So why Contacts? Because, she's in Boston, not doing any writing, and honestly, kind of bored.

Journalism, while by it's nature requiring some sort of personal abilities, insights and subjective criticism, is not a means of self-expression. It is a job: a journalist's responsibility is to analyse (admittedly this analysis will be subject to their own insight and understanding) and present information, whether it be an album review or war feature, to the public, and
not at every opportunity to present their own selves. Here is where the problem with modern Irish, if not international, music journalism currently lies, a problem which internet blogging is perpetuating, not circumventing.

This and more. After criticising her band in a review, I recently received an unpleasant, if not downright abusive, email from an irate singer, accusing me of ignorance and, well, general crapness, and foretelling my doomed future as a journalist and musician. Hey maybe I was wrong, maybe I simply misunderstood all her ripped-off riffs and posing, but the question I have been trying to answer since - apart from where the hell she got my address - is whether this hostility was borne of a genuine belief that her music was above honest, even adding the buzz-word, constructive criticism, or was she just so insulated from flak by the blanket positivism of the Irish media, where such criticism no longer really exists, and everybody tries encourage the "new Irish band". And this is the nub of the problem. Irish popular music journalism is almost lacking critical and analytical thought, overwhelmed as it is by personalising journalists trying to get their word in edgeways, and sometimes, just sometimes, even currying favour with their biased editors (no names please).

There has always been a divide between journalism and musicology, and probably rightly so. Most casual readers and music fans are probably not that interested in reading, say, a 10,000 word study of the ancient crumhorn, but that doesn't mean journalism, ever the priest brother to the doctor musicology, cannot learn from critical theory and analysis. A popular music or casual classical fan is entitled as much as a high-art scholar to read a proper serious analysis or critique of what they are listening to. While internet-based sites are more adventurous in this regard, print and broadcast media have still to catch up. Of course, not all music fans are interested in this critical thinking, and light music journalism, the fashion and charts and funny side of the industry, is just as necessary. The point is choice, and that is what's lacking.

is about making connections between the analytical methods of "high art" (an odious term) and the lighter journalism of pop art. The two needn't always be separate. So will Contacts be different from any of the other hundreds of music blogs lying around the internet waiting to be discovered. Probably not. Let's face it, it has already gotten off to a bad start, when the opening post is a pretentious condemnation of the standards of Irish journalism by a self-referencing wannabe journalist.

Keep reading.

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