I generally don’t write about music because, to be honest, I’m always too intimidated to try.
To put it bluntly, I don’t want to seem like an idiot talking about a creative practice that I have practically zero technical knowledge of. Unlike other writers, I don’t feel comfortable dropping phrases like ‘electro-pop dubstep’ or criticising the mixing in the last thirty seconds of a track.
(Quick digression: isn’t it curious how popular culture separates those who like to talk about music and profess some expertise in it, from passionate fans of the artists who are instead widely mocked and satirised by the media as ‘fangirls’?)
I have no issue with critiquing music; I think that all critique of art is incredibly valuable and worth both writing and reading, within moderation. I can value a piece of music criticism written by someone with knowledge of what goes into making music, as they may pick up on certain elements unnoticed by others.
It’s important to distinguish between critics who can profess an opinion while respecting the fact that others may hold different ones, and ones who would unfriend you on Facebook if you happened to mention to them that your favourite song was ‘Friday’.
The idea of an individual giving an album a seal of approval strikes me as ridiculous; just because they liked it, it doesn’t mean that you have to.
The very point of music is that everyone listens to a song differently and gets different things out of it. Therefore, everyone’s criticism is valid, no matter what your level of musical ‘expertise’ is.
Some people listen for the lyrics, others for the singing, and still others for the instruments, or the production, or the aesthetic of the music video or any combination of the myriad elements that go into making music.
If it has the almost magical power to make someone happy, then why should you care what they’re listening to?