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A few days ago, Flea – known for being (most of the time) bassist for the Red Hot Chilli Pepers and (some of the time) one of the greatest heroines that humanity has known, two facets that (often) coincided – published a cryptic tweet: saying that may seem impossible, but there was a time “when music critics, when they wanted to talk about youth culture, really wrote about music”.
Not having any tool to quantify the amount of characters spent gossiping about the lives of current pop stars, or describing choreographies and videos and the meaning of lyrics or a particular Instagram post (in short: the characters spent on everything that regarding created music), I concede that, to the eye, humanity suggests that it is more concerned than ever with what is contingent on musical production – and not on music. Maybe it’s just a consequence of living in an age of data: if the numbers say that it pays to talk more about Billie Eilish’s clothes at the Met Gala, then more is published about Billie Eilish’s clothes at the Met Gala.
The hypothesis that the tweet in question is an old man’s grumble should not be ruled out: there always comes a time in the lives of most musicians when they stop being talked about, when they stop understanding the codes of youth culture, which – frankly – are no longer a part of. What usually follows is an idealization of the past, similar to the narrative process of a novel by Philip Roth, in which an idealized childhood in a peaceful America is followed by the tragic protagonist’s discovery that current life was reduced to rubble.
Yes, there was a time when writing about music was about music – in particular writing about jazz and progressive rock could be quite technical. But as popular youth culture grew, even music writing was putting aside the more technical aspects and trusting its descriptions of a song to images and metaphors that more quickly served the purpose of conveying the “feel” of a song. . Furthermore, imagery and metaphors serve to compensate for the fact that music critics have not made it past the third year of piano lessons and are barely able to read a staff, let alone discuss an augmented ninth.
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