There is a good and a bad way to critique music, especially if you are trying to be a professional music journalist. The bad way would probably mirror the conversation you had at the pub slamming the untalented musician you are definitely NOT a fan of. While it’s okay to vent in this way at the pub, in a formal music review, you might be catchy and creative but not crude.
I hope the following serves as a decent and professional proclamation of why I detest the modern rock band, Nickelback.
I want my nickel back. I didn’t even pay that for an album or a single on iTunes. But I want my nickel back because I am not even remotely a fan of your music. First, the vocal strain your front man is putting on his vocals might shorten the life of your career. A travesty for you, a blessing for me. There is a proper way to achieve the grunting and straining “I’m trying to sound like a bad-ass rocker” without sounding like you’re in need of some Phillips Milk of Magnesia. Consider Axl Rose’s whine, for example. Doesn’t sound forced at all.
The backing instruments in your crew are not bad. Some people listen more to the music than the words, but as a poet and writer, for me, it’s impossible to turn away from the words. I value both with the same volition but even if the music is good and the lyrics are crappy, you’ve lost my attention.
Consider your track, “Photograph.” Granted, it’s not your fault that the radio has overplayed this until the speakers are begging for mercy. But I have to hand you the blame for writing a sappy, cliche, and wholly unoriginal song. “…and what the hell is on Jimmy’s head?” You may have thought people can relate to this, but you mislead us. What the hell is on Jimmy’s head? We don’t know and we don’t care. You’re bringing your listeners (God bless them) to a platform where they cannot SEE your sentimental life in a photo album. You’re telling us about what you see but not giving us any specific image to cling to. Give us something concrete, at least!
I can see where the retired cheerleader might hear your tune and think fondly on her days of shaking pom-poms now that she is the divorced mother of three, thanks to her high school sweetheart’s wandering eye. But to who else does this song find a place in their lives and hearts?
(I’ll take the long beat of silence as an answer.)
Further, the song goes on way too long without real any variation. People crave variety in a song, at least in a difference between chorus and verse. Throughout, the song just sounds the same: tired and cliche. Listeners want something fresh and new.
“In my day,” rock ‘n roll could encompass anything from Aerosmith to Cinderella to Blind Melon and R.E.M. The “new” rock shouldn’t really even be classified as such.
Do we always need fresh and unique lyrics in our songs? No. Sometimes you just want to bop your head or tap your steering wheel to something as nonsensical as “Oh-Bla-Dee, Oh Blah-dah.” Even there, the non-words trumph your tired and poorly written lyrics.
This is how you remind me that quality rock ‘n roll is harder to find these days.
You want a good song about a photograph? Consult Def Leppard.
A True Rock Fan
P.S. The author of this post would like to apologize to her readers. She usually likes to keep a positive vibe in her writing; however, she positively dislikes that band.