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Lorde and Iggy Azalea Seem to Misunderstand Music Journalism

Lorde

Lorde has recently taken to her Tumblr blog to write a short post complaining about the music press. To explain her point, she posted an image of Complex’s October/November 2013 issue with Iggy Azalea on the cover next to Complex’s recent review of Iggy’s debut album titled “Iggy Azalea’s ‘The New Classic’ Isn’t Really.” Underneath she wrote:

bugs me how publications like complex will profile interesting artists in order to sell copies/get clicks and then shit on their records? it happens to me all the time- pitchfork and that ilk being like “can we interview you?” after totally taking the piss out of me in a review. have a stance on an artist and stick to it. don’t act like you respect them then throw them under the bus.

Iggy later chimed in on Twitter with her support, saying:

I agree @lordemusic media LOVE to flop about, But when you’re completely spineless Im sure its hard to stick to even ur own opinion #GoGirl
— IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) April 27, 2014

The media will beg for free tickets to your show just so they can write about how much they hate it etc etc, I wish you could all see it.
— IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) April 27, 2014

Lorde in particular seems to want to bite that hand that feeds her. For a complete unknown to beat Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” for the Number One spot is no small deal. Her first EP The Love Club was free on Soundcloud and did so well only because other people shared her sounds in such massive quantities. And yes, that includes media organizations, the music press and the blogosphere — the place’s whose endorsement means the most. Because of them, her rise from obscurity to international fame has been at light speed. She has achieved in months what thousands upon thousands never achieve in years.

I scratch my head when I hear sudden complaints in the media department from two pop newbies like Iggy and Lorde when artists have endured more or less the same principals of music journalism (hell, all journalism) since the practice began.

In layman’s terms, what magazines like Pitchfork, Complex and others do is provide information and opinion as a service. Information about artists that you’ve never heard of before, coverage of ones you know already with rundowns and recommendations of the latest releases. No shock there, most music journalism follows a similar pattern. But Lorde fails to separate out the information and the opinion, or at least disagrees that you shouldn’t cover any artist with a black mark in the reviews section. Because that’s spineless.

So if a writer takes on either Lorde or Iggy’s next album for review and finds it’s not as great as they thought it might be, or maybe that they thought it was good but had a few general criticisms — there should be no further coverage of that artist until they’re deemed worthy. No interviews, no insight, no opinion pieces, no lists, no nothing. Not until something happens that generates a similar response to whatever it was that you wrote last about her. “Have a stance on an artist and stick to it” is Lorde’s position.

It’s a much easier thing to say when you’re sitting on a recent Number One and a pile of awards from the season just been. Asking people that might write about you to “stick” to a position when you’ve nothing but an acoustic guitar and a Bandcamp account is somewhat less of a good idea. Phrases like the “dump” and “thrown under a bus” present this picture of a music press that maliciously deploys it’s schizophrenia to wreck havoc on artist’s careers just for the hell of it. Or if you’re more media suspicious, to increase traffic to their websites at a time when sales of print have never been lower.

But the picture that’s painted of a shady character who goes around throwing people under buses every time it doesn’t like an album is laughable. Reviews in mainstream outlets are rarely aggressive, antagonistic attacks. And if there’s jokes made in bad taste, they’re exactly that — jokes. That’s not to excuse everything ever that’s ever been written about a pop star. There are lines. But I don’t exactly see COMPLEX Magazine rubbing its hands together toasting Azalea’s demise. In fact, quite the opposite: “We still think she’s interesting, we still think she’s worth covering, we just don’t think her album was very good”.

Publications, bloggers – people – have the freedom to reevaluate their opinion of you when you release an album, and to do so is not spineless or nasty or uncalled for. I don’t think Lorde, Iggy, Grimes or any other musician that comes out in favor of this really truly favors the idea that in order to interview them you must be a fan, or at least view them semi-favorably. Because that’s what this is in practice, a kind of celebrity strain of North Korea-syndrome, if you’re coming in you better be writing something good or you’re not coming back. To ask for that is to misunderstand the mutually beneficial transaction that music journalism is. Both seem to think that the music press and their backstabbing ways is the equivalent to eating out buffet-style at their celebrity credentials and not leaving a tip. As if both are completely unmarketed, un-written about, entirely self made pop stars who have risen hidden away from and unaided by the keyboard class. This is delusional.

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