It’s true that the world of music criticism can be a clubby place, not simply as a means of social exclusivity but also as a measure of what’s considered good. This isn’t a new revelation in any sense; people have complained about Pitchfork for this very reason almost since its inception.
In a compelling piece for the Times, however, Jon Caramanica finally builds on this idea, offering a zoomed-out look at the “unimaginative groupthink” and concern for posterity’s approval that possibly informs the institutions that largely shape opinions on music today.
Perhaps more compelling than his thesis, though, is the biting tone he uses to deliver it:
“More vexing were some of the ratings, with outlets falling over themselves to grant Mr. West a top score: a rare 10.0 at Pitchfork, a slightly less rare 5 stars at Rolling Stone (which also gave that rating to his second album, “Late Registration”), an A from Entertainment Weekly (in fairness, a not infrequent grade at that magazine). And so such reviews are bones dropped for approval by tail-wagging puppies.”