Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Village Idiot

The Village Voice is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. I don’t know if this has always been the case, but I’d like to thank the legendary NYC alternative paper for at least the last five years of borderline-incomprehensible music writing. My feelings about Robert Christgau and the rest of the paper’s critics would require a longer post and more time, so I’ll leave it to David Segal to paint the picture. He wrote the following during an online chat with Washington Post readers a couple of years ago:

Before we open the phones, has anyone read Robert Christgau’s essay for the Village Voice’s 2002 Pazz & Jop poll? If yes, did you understand it?

If yes again, can you pretty please explain it to me?

Here’s the second sentence of Christgau’s piece:

"The year was so bad it quashed a worthier worst one-two finish and continued on to a worst one-two-three, so bad that a worse finish yet could come in a worse year yet--namely the 2003 this worst year sets up."

I think I see a point here -- Christgau is disappointed by the top vote getters, Wilco’s "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and Beck’s "Sea Change." But where a simple stride would do, the guy always leaps for the triple sowcow, or just pirouettes into a 100 mph, grammar-hashing blur. You’ll assume I dropped a word from the following quote, but it’s verbatim:

"The producer as auteur is an idea whose time has come and then some; having gotten to where what are called beats sometimes reject, sometimes exploit, and sometimes just are what are called hooks, we need figureheads with more rebop than Jeff Tweedy."

What the hell is rebop? And where can Jeff Tweedy, Wilco’s lead singer, get more of it?

"How I tell them apart," Christgau writes of the gold and silver finishers, "is that Wilco is the one I tried to hate and ended up respecting and Beck is the one I tried to like and ended up walking around the room until it could get home on its own."

Is he saying that the Beck album was drunk but then sobered up? Sure, friends don’t let albums drive drunk, but if Christgau really waited for "Sea Change" to dry out, does that mean that he ultimately enjoyed it? Or at least gave it cab fare?

Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe better. ... Pop writing should be distracting and illuminating and a little provocative and if possible it should make you laugh and maybe run out and buy an album. That’s about it.

None of this would be worth noting but for Mr. Christgau’s apparent spot at the head of the pop-scribe class. I fear there might be aspiring writers out there who read this P&J essay and assume that rock journalism is actually about pretense and convolution, rather than clarity and chuckles. He could be creating hordes of Little Roberts! Think of it!
I’d rather not.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it's been three years, but I thought I'd weigh in and say you're absolutely right about Christgau. He's a pretentious hack, honestly. The guy thinks he's a post-modern marvel, some kind of free beat writer but he ends up sounding like a bigger dork than Wolfe when he tried his hand at the genre years ago.

It's only too bad that he has no ears and no talent for writing. He could have been a rock critic.

3:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. I found your column by Googleing "Christgau is an idiot," just to express my own frustration with this self-appointed pin(head) of the class. The thing is, the guy doesn't actually engage about the music--he engages with his own neural circuitry until it reaches the proper level of self-satisfaction. Does he actually know anything about music? Music, you know what I'm talkin' about? Pretentious hack, and then some.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, found this page after googling two words: "Christgau idiot." He is horrible. I've discerned that if the song cannot be used as a jingle in a television commercial, then he doesn't like it. How else would you explain his love for Kanye West and his distaste for King Crimson?
He's no rock critic, but an inferior pop culture worshipper.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is rather amusing...I too found this blog by googling "Christgau is an idiot", hehe

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same as previous poster...

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same as previous poster also. Haha.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for speaking the truth about Christgau. I feel like my head's about to explode every time I read his drivel. Glad others feel the same way. How this pseudo-intellectual got to the head of the "pop-scribe class" is something I'll never understand.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christgau is a disgusting idiot. He gives Kanye West such high ratings but he gives Master of Puppets a B-. Yes you read that right a B-. Why is he still alive?

BTW I found this page by typing christgau is an idiot.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is amazing. I've also found this post by googleing the words "robert chrisgau" + "idiot".

Google is wise...

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Oh, shut up. You know people hate Christgau for far more than simply not liking their favorite album. It's because his writing style is nothing but pretentious, head-up-the-ass drivel.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy is the biggest retard I have ever read in my life. Is he for real?

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree, Chrisgau is the king of retards. He probably wrote his reviews hurriedly in toilet paper, it's a pity he didn't use most of them to wipe his own ass... I can't stand mere critics who think that what they womit in paper is relevant compared to any kind of creative work. This guy is the arhetypical frustrated writer, please be so kind to lose some seconds of your life checking his biography. A loser with some attitude, no doubt.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christgau is someone I loathe but also admire. I loathe him because he is a pretentious douchebag and self-styled elitist who knows next to nothing about good music, and disguises that fact with his elitist snobbery and pretentious, disdainful five-sentence writing style. I admire him because he has been smart enough to market his utter incompetence and arrogance as “stylish and cool, and has elevated himself, despite his lack of anything substantive, to superstar critic status. I have to admire a successful con man, and that’s exactly what Chriustgau is. He’s Jessica Simpson winning an Academy Award for Best Actress, thinking she actually deserves it.

11:32 PM  
Blogger larryg003 said...

LOL! I also found this post by searching "Robert Christgau" idiot.

I guess great minds think alike.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robert Chistgau is the absolute worst critic in the business today, not just because I disagree with most of his assessments, but because he's consistantly inconsistent in his likes and dislikes (with the exceptions of metal and prog which he loathes) and his writing is as clear as a San Francisco sky in summer. The haiku like reviews, which are more about Chrissgau's clever hipsterism than criticism, often leave me asking "Well what did the music sound like?"

11:23 AM  

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