The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Thursday, February 8, 2001

What The Critics Agree On

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: That Radiohead's Kid A topped the Rock & Rap Confidential Fourth Annual International Music Writers Poll is no surprise. When a band that everyone likes gets obscure (think Springsteen and Nebraska), rock critics go crazy. What's shocking and disappointing is that Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP charted at #5, with some 67 music writers putting it on their Top 10 list. What you have to take into account about polls such as this one and the Village Voice's poll (which doesn't have as many participants) is how few people actually have to vote for a particular album for it to chart in the Top 30. Kid A landed at #1 with just 111 votes. It took all of 42 votes to land Coldplay's Parachutes at #10, 31 votes for Aimee Mann's Bachelor #2 to share the #19 position with Common's Like Water for Chocolate and 25 votes for Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun to grab position #30. Not that there's anything wrong with that. As far as I'm concerned, it only takes a favorable review by one music writer whose critical judgment I buy into for me to listen up. Music criticism should have nothing to do with popular taste, even if the community polled is music writers. Rather, it's all about the reaction to an album by one person whose working life has been devoted to evaluating and writing about music. The way the poll worked was that you submitted your Top 10 albums for 2000 list with each album on your list equally weighted — thus even if all the writers placed Kid A at the bottom of their Top 10, since it appeared on more writers' lists than any other album, it ended up as the chart topper. And even though 111 music writers think Kid A is one of the ten best albums of the year, that doesn't mean it is. I certainly don't think it's the best album, not by a long shot. I would argue that Cat Power's The Covers Record, which charted at # 77, is a far better album. Still, it's interesting to see what music writers can agree on in this age when it seems that we typically agree on almost nothing. Outkast's Stankonia got votes from 103 of us; 82 are enthralled by P J Harvey's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, and 73 still think U2 have what it takes. It's encouraging that such relatively new and/or not particularly popular artists as Jurassic 5, Coldplay, Badly Drawn Boy, Jill Scott, Queens of the Stone Age, At the Drive-In, Grandaddy and Modest Mouse made it into the list's Top 40, 'cause it tells us that the music writers who participated are keeping their ears open. That's a good thing. You could do worse than to give a listen to just about any of the 100 albums that made the list. And if you want to see every one of the 1818 albums that got a vote (many just one) head over to the Rock & Rap Confidential site at

Datastream: Joining an already ambitious lineup for the ninth Noise Pop fest are Blonde Redhead, The Aislers Set, The Orange Peels, Action Slacks, Damien Jurado, Vue and Preston School of Industry (with ex-Pavement singer/songwriter Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg). Artists previously announced include Fastbacks, Minus 5, White Stripes, Girls Against Boys, Spoon, Mark Eitzel, Superchunk, Young Fresh Fellows, 764-Hero, Zen Guerilla, Beulah, Oranger and the Bell Rays. Grandaddy, originally scheduled to perform, have had to cancel. According to a Noise Pop press release, the cancellation is "due to recuperation time needed for a recurring knee problem suffered by lead singer Jason Lytle." You'll find the schedule of who's playing where and when at the Noise Pop site.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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