Let's rewrite misogynistic rock'n'roll history please

Suedey

Elle
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I am specifically referring to the '80s and more so the '90s rock music journalism wankery like Q magazine which saw the likes of U2 and Oasis receive 5-star reviews for shitty albums whilst Queens of Pop regularly had 2/5 reviews for 'opaque' lyrics or whatever.


You might think this is random but it's not. I decided to listen to some U2 the other day to see how reslistenable some of their back cat was and I was shocked! Dismayed! Nay - horrified, really, to find out that most of their albums are shit shit and shit beyond 3-4 singles. And I say this as a former fan boy.

Discuss.

And no this is not a poll.

And yes this may go down in history as another Straw-type thread I suppose.
 
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Ellie

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I think it was more anti-Pop and definitely sometimes racist against non-white, non-Rock/guitar based music than misogyny.
 

octophone

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People like to see themselves in music. The critical favourites reflect who the critics were and the lack of representation, particularly in the 'glossy' music mags.
 

octophone

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Also, U2 were only good fun in their Achtung Baby/Zooropa period. The rest is pretty thin gruel. They were always good for a single or two but were always felled by their own pseudo-profundity otherwise.
 

Ellie

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People like to see themselves in music. The critical favourites reflect who the critics were and the lack of representation, particularly in the 'glossy' music mags.
Is it this weird white straight man syndrome thing about “seeing yourself” in things? I know there’s definitely an unconscious bias in most of us, but surely not with everything. How fucking boring would life be?
 

octophone

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Is it this weird white straight man syndrome thing about “seeing yourself” in things? I know there’s definitely an unconscious bias in most of us, but surely not with everything. How fucking boring would life be?
Pretty much. I mean, the shallowness of needing the person to look like you in order to see something of yourself within it is pretty sad. I don't think it precludes enjoyment but it does seem to limit endorsement i.e. the type that the music press regularly bestowed on any collection of white blokes who turned up with a guitar or two.
 

Kratz

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I think there was a huge anti-pop vibe to the point where it was questionable why rock publications even bothered covering / reviewing pop releases - the reviews for even otherwise acclaimed pop releases were often predictable (and it was completely tedious).
 

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The homophobia of the 80s shouldn't be ignored in the debate. It was probably the worst it had ever been in the UK. Racism was standard too.

Of course straight white men were centre of critics praise, when that's what they perceived the audience wanted. It was easier to ignore the elements of the audience perceived as undesirable. That's the way it had always been. Pop music was gay and female and that as we know well creates discomfort in insecure types.

Of course that's not the whole picture. Plenty of pop music, particularly from the continent and US divas dominated at the time.

And let's not forget Freddie Mercury, one of the most flamboyant homosexuals in life was celebrated at this time, while Nirvana were pushing a gay rights narrative years before it was fashionable.

Thankfully there are way more gay, female and non white journalists, reframing the story these days. Who is singing U2's praise these days?
 
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Suedey

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And yes the anti-pop sentiment was/is rooted in misogyny, sexism, racism and homophobia.

Basically.
 

Ag

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It's not that U2 were consistently terrible. For me they out stayed their welcome, with permission from the elevated praise they received from the music press. That's not to say they were always universally beloved, I seem to recall 90s NME being fairly scathing.

It was jarring the way they got a free pass, with whatever shit they were churning out, whereas female, black and queer artists were rarely afforded such privilege.

The U2 free album on iTunes seemed like a real turning point. Not just against them, but the old guard in general enforcing their prejudices on all music fans. In recent years we've seen Kylie at Glastonbury and Mamma Mia 2 get 5 star reviews, something which would have been impossible just a decade ago.
 

lolly

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I'm certainly not cancelling U2. They at least had two excellent albums (as quoted by octy) and some great singles outside of those. There are plenty worse who were average pretty much from start to finish who critics consistently wanked over.
 

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I forgot to add U2 have just become the popular face of the problem. There were many others. But Bono is just too easy to hate.
 

lolly

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I forgot to add U2 have just become the popular face of the problem. There were many others. But Bono is just too easy to hate.
And that's pretty much due to the longevity, as you say. Fuelled of course by being fawned over by the same narrow demographic of critics who could never look outside of their tunnel vision or begin to consider there was a whole world outside their own parameters.
 
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Suedey

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I'm certainly not cancelling U2. They at least had two excellent albums (as quoted by octy) and some great singles outside of those. There are plenty worse who were average pretty much from start to finish who critics consistently wanked over.
I mean didn't EMBRACE get great reviews or something?

I still remember that 5-star Be Here Now review from Q. It was disgusting!
 

Ag

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Do You Know What I Mean and Freed From Desire were both released around the same time.

WHICH OF THESE STILL GETS REGULARLY PLAYED?
 

funky

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It does feel that at the time music was run by middle aged white men but it carried on until very recently, not just 80s or even 90s.

What always annoyed me more was the people who were deciding what music was good and what wasn’t. The awards shows were dominated by rock music for a long time. All of the industry lists and polls were white heavy and male heavy.

I would get very tired of the greatest artists / albums / songs lists that would feature the same old names - Radiohead, Beatles, Clash, U2, Nirvana, and then somewhere down the bottom a smattering of Marvin Gaye and Steve Wonder. What the fuck. Even industry darlings like Wilco and King Crimson and The Pixies who had barely registered a hit or known outside of their circles would feature higher than life changing records by Aretha Franklin, The Supremes or Otis Redding. It was such an echo chamber. A total circle jerk.

There have been definite shifts in recent years. I loved the most recent Rolling Stones greatest album poll. Still flawed but to see so many black and female artists in amongst the obvious names was a massive change and step in the right direction.
 

Ellie

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I would get very tired of the greatest artists / albums / songs lists that would feature the same old names - Radiohead, Beatles, Clash, U2, Nirvana, and then somewhere down the bottom a smattering of Marvin Gaye and Steve Wonder. What the fuck. Even industry darlings like Wilco and King Crimson and The Pixies who had barely registered a hit or known outside of their circles would feature higher than life changing records by Aretha Franklin, The Supremes or Otis Redding. It was such an echo chamber. A total circle jerk.

Yes, all of this! They’d reduce hugely influential and popular black artists down to whatever their most well known or best selling album was, but reserve at least 5 spaces each for a group of Beatles/Bowie/Radiohead etc albums. Actually even the likes of the Bee Gees and George Michael would barely get a mention.

I will also never forget one initial review I read in a mainstream publication (maybe NME?) of MJ’s HIStory album, calling Stranger In Moscow a “schmaltzy love ballad”. If that’s not proof the reviewer barely even pressed play on the CD before putting pen to paper, I don’t know what is.
 
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Yes, all of this! They’d reduce hugely influential and popular black artists down to whatever their most well known or best selling album was, but reserve at least 5 spaces each for a group of Beatles/Bowie/Radiohead etc albums. Actually even the likes of the Bee Gees and George Michael would barely get a mention.

I will also never forget one initial review I read in a mainstream publication (maybe NME?) of MJ’s HIStory album, calling Stranger In Moscow a “schmaltzy love ballad”. If that’s not proof the reviewer barely even pressed play on the CD before putting pen to paper, I don’t know what is.
Yes it happens. Caitlin Moran admitted to not having a record player at the start of her career so would just write a review based on what she thought it would sound like and wrote some savage reviews without hearing a note because she thought it would be funny. Hopefully things are much different now. I’m sure record labels in the past paid for good reviews which is why the same old faces kept getting great ones though to be fair some of my faves Polly, Kate, Tori and Bjork have always been well received.
 

Suedey

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Sinead O'Connor's "Three Babies" review from 1990:

Daily Vault's Michael R. Smith described the song as a "somewhat dull, slow and creaky number"


Misogynistic PRICK!
 
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Sinead on her own is a case study of consistent horrible attempts at sexist, religious and nationalistic bullying throughout her career. Courtney Love is up there too in terms of unnecessary constant vilification and to a lesser degree Madonna who now seems to be targeted for daring to have aged.
 

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