The esteemed music journalist and author of Our Band Could Be Your Life and Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana offers an illustrated guidebook for unambitious writers of music reportage and criticism.
Being a music journalist or a music critic comes with its ups and downs like any job, and you sometimes find yourself falling back on what Azerrad calls 'shortcuts, lazy metaphors, and uninspired prose' because writing about music is hard to begin with—but if you aren’t excited about it, it’s even harder. As with anything in life, being able to criticize your own work is very important, and Rock Critic Law is a book that helps us have a light-hearted laugh at ourselves while also thinking about ways to improve. Being young and being in the music industry is fun and exciting, and even if this book began as a lark, I have a feeling a handful of these rules are going to stick with me as my career continues.
With seething sarcasm, Michael Azerrad has catalogued a plethora of music-critic clichés ... Some of Azerrad's pet peeves mirror my own while others come off as picayune beefs that sometimes seem derived from taking a phrase too literally ... Mediocre music almost always begets mediocre criticism. That there is a superabundance of both is a truth that will always be with us. There is nothing harder in music criticism than to write something interesting about music that elicits neither elation nor derision ... Maybe—just maybe—lackluster music receives the shabby criticism it deserves.
...a fun & illustrated skewering of his own field. Rock Critic Law is not detailed histories like much of Azerrad’s output, but a ‘list of tweets turned into a book,’ a kind of book that Azerrad even admits he doesn’t like. With a sentence every two pages, it can be read in a single sitting. But pretty much each sentence is funny, at least if you’ve read music criticism, especially rock music criticism ... Each 'rule' also comes with an illustration by Edwin Fotheringham...that likewise skewers the field’s self-seriousness.