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Monday, June 30, 2003
So it's confession time: I actually sent my response to Pitchfork's Liz Phair review into Pitchfork, and I got a reply from the author, which I'm printing below. My response will follow in a bit, but I figured I'd throw it on here now for it to be chewed over. The bit at the end where he hopes to shame me with the spectre of Britney is especially good.

Incidentally, on their letters page today they print three letters in response to the Phair review, none of which are mine, and the two negative ones are, IMHO, way less coherant than mine. But, I guess, that's why I'm trying not to write in much anymore.

At any rate, here's the letter.


Hey Mike, thanks for writing.

For the record, the stuff on the front page isn't written by me, it's added
by the editor.

As for the lyric in "Rock Me" -- would you read that self-doubt into that
line if you weren't familiar with Phair's biography? The music itself never
sounds anything less than mercilessly upbeat, and the lyrics surrounding
that one particular line are anything but reflective. I don't care if she's
angsty or not -- I think the "tortured" schtick gets old very, very fast,
and I also think Liz is saying "You think I'm a genius / think I'm cool"
because "cool" rhymes with "rule." Just like she rhymes "if it's alright /
rock me all night," even though the gentleman in question is obviously quite
alright with rocking her.

I don't think "Rock Me" is an amazing song -- in fact, I think that if it
were made by somebody other than Liz Phair, it probably wouldn't have been
covered by Pitchfork at all, let alone given a 5+ rating. "Rock Me" doesn't
play with convention -- it is convention manifest.

What retro sound is Phair touching on? I don't think the album sounds retro
at all. In fact, I think that its endless drive to be comercially viable in
the present is going to result in it sounding ridiculously dated a few years
down the road.

You know, I have nothing against an artist who wants to make money from his
or her music. In fact, I don't really have anything against an artist like
Liz Phair, who junks a whole album when she's told by her label that it's
only going to go gold. But I don't think it's anything to be admired, any
more than it's admirable when some yuppie jackass rattles on about how he
LIKES his goddamned SUV's, track-lit apartment, and $300 meals. How could
she have "pussied out?" By making a half-assed pop album like
Whitechocolatespacegg? I don't care what an artist's motives are, my job is
to comment on the music. I never claimed to be a "true" fan, nor do I think
that such a concept is even remotely viable. If you enjoy the new album,
I'm happy for you -- I'm just curious as to whether or not you're a fan of
the hundreds upon hundreds of pop acts who've had the conviction to go "full
fuckin' force" as something other than a calculated style change, and
without the safety net of an established fanbase. By your reasoning,
Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Creed should've won your ass over
ages ago.