I put it to you that the thousands of internet blogs devoted to finding new music, such as this one, are killing music criticism. The days of paying the seasoned rock critic for their opinion are over, because all we need do now is enter the blogosphere to find out what anyone thinks about a new band, gig or album. Is this tidal wave of free-criticism shining a light on the cream of the crop, helping us choose only the best and most worthy bands to listen to, or is it creating a whirlwind of undeserved hype around new bands?
The thing is, in this post-Arctic Monkeys world in which we now live, we expect any band getting a lot of attention on the internet to replicate what few bands can do, which is release a definitive and trend-setting debut album, like the Arctic Monkey’s debut. And the blame for this lies with the blogger. With everyone so keen to find the ‘best new band’ and to be the one that found them first, a blogger will tell us that this band is the ‘new’ whatever and the music journos follow suit. Unfair predictions of grandeur and comparisons with previous successes risk the destruction of a band at the first hurdle.
Look at The Twang, once hailed as the new-Stone Roses by the NME and looking likely heirs to Oasis’ throne at the top of the lad-rock kingdom in 2007, now damp-squibs at the bottom of a tired and tedious scene, releasing a second album last year that went by unnoticed. Some bands, however, do deserve the hype that they get, and this shows largely in the reviews. The XX, Wild Beasts and These New Puritans have all been hyped to high heaven, but justify it with distinctive and forward-thinking albums.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to rubbish a band that clearly doesn’t warrant the hype that engulfs them. But it’s not really the bands fault that they’re a blogger’s wet dream is it? Look at new internet-darlings The Drums, dubbed by NME as ‘New York's official Coolest New Band... the most contagiously energetic NYC band of the past 10 years’… ridiculous hyperbole certainly gains attention, but how can a band be expected to live up to that kind of introduction?There’s no doubt that the internet means bands can get their music out faster and to more people than ever before, and we’re the ones that benefit from this. And maybe the hype being spread through the blogosphere is helping great bands get noticed and exposing the shit bands for the pretenders that they really are. But we should start taking the blog-hyperbole with a nice handful of salt and, in the words of someone who has survived the blogger’s curse, Alex Turner, make sure, whatever happens, we ‘Don’t believe the hype’.