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If there's such a thing as a music nerd equivalent to total nuclear apocalypse, then Saul Austerlitz's recent New York Times Magazine piece on the detriments of "poptimism" was a DEFCON 2 alert. (That's the one just below "hope you've seen Mad Max a few times.")
To condense a confused, under-sourced, strawman-filled article into its summarized form, Austerlitz claims that music critics' wider enthusiasm and advocacy for mainstream pop music -- as seen in a number of pieces that treat stars like Lorde and Beyoncé with something more respectful than retching contempt -- is "pernicious," "wildly distorted," and "really weird."
If Austerlitz's mission was to irritate the hell out of these poptimist critics, then a cursory scan of music-journalist Twitter feeds over the weekend proves he did a bang-up job. But if he meant to engage with the actual reality of pop-friendly music criticism as it exists right now, he might as well have finished every sentence with a "" -- that's how much of a misreading it was. And here's why.More »