The Stool Pigeon Guide to Music Journalist Bullshit lists a lot of bad clichés that aspiring music writers really ought to avoid. Unfortunately there are one or two in there I have a horrible feeling I’ve used in the past. Oh dear.
Bastard lovechild — Is sex out of wedlock still considered edgy? So why would anyone still be writing that albums ‘sound like the bastard lovechild of X and Y musicians’? I mean, there’s a good chance your parents hadn’t gotten round to tying the knot by the time you were conceived. But so what? It doesn’t make you a latter-day Edmund from King Lear. Hell, it doesn’t even make you Jon Snow off Game Of Thrones.
Uh-oh. I’ve used that one. But not in a musical context; I think I described American conservatism as the bastard love-child of Cyrus Schofield and Ayn Rand. The wingnuts are probably still capable of being offended at being called bastard love children. So I’ll let that one stand.
Songstress — As opposed to what, ‘songster’? Reading between the lines, this faintly kinky usage is a subliminal reflection of male music hacks’ rampant castration fear. See also: chanteuse
If I dared used such a word, I can guarantee that the songstresses or chanteuses would lynch me.
Sophomore — Ridiculous, US collegiate term used as a stand-in for “second” when describing albums, e.g. “The Stone Roses’ second album The Sophomore Coming was a let-down for many”.
If there is one word guaranteed to set my teeth on edge in a review, it’s this one. It implies that either the reviewer’s frame of reference doesn’t extend beyond American student-indie, or they’re a semi-literate hack who doens’t even know the meaning of the clichés they parrot. Either way it’s strong indication not to take the writer’s opinions seriously.
So, if Anne-Marie Helder ever releases a follow-up to “The Contact”, I had better not write “The chanteuse’ sophomore album is the bastard love-child of…”
There are lots of other bad ones in that list, and the whole thing is worth reading. What really bad music writing clichés do you think really need to die?