Everyone's a critic

Squarepusher's Q&A with the Guardian's music reviewers is interesting for several reasons. Firstly it reminded me how irrelevant critics are to my music choices these days. I quite often read the reviews in The Wire because they cover music that isn't really written about elsewhere but even then I'm annoyed by the pretentiousness of the writing, which is almost beyond parody.

Most new music comes to me through social tools: recommendations on blogs, from Last.fm or within eMusic's automated system and I find I'm pretty happy with that. I don't miss the critics at all.

Secondly, I was struck by the patronising statement from Alex Petridis who says that 'in my opinion' is something "something student journalists and customers who review albums on Amazon say". It seems so woefully out of touch with the democratisation of media over the last few years and in particular with the growing irrelevance of critics as mentioned above. Implicit within Petridis's statement is that it is amateurs who have mere 'opinions'. The professionals do something of greater value somehow.

I've noticed that I've been writing things like "in my opinion" with greater frequency in my posts on 26 Books. It's been quite deliberate. It takes Petridis's "implicit" subjectivity and makes it explicit in a way that I think suits the medium better. Blogs are better when the tone is recognisably human and open to engagement. For example, my Akutagawa post (I'm even hesitant to refer to them as "reviews") balances standard critic-ese - "The second set of stories [...] is less successful" - with a more emotional, personal response - "It's the third section [...] that is my favourite".

I think the post is better for it but that's just my opinion.

There's some interesting discussion of the Squarepusher Q&A at Metafilter.