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Friday, February 06, 2004
Alright, this poptimism business is getting a bit ridiculous now; I can't shake the feeling that both sides are just chopping away at straw men divided by a large stone wall. If indeed Joe misrepresented Mark's original point, and fair enough, then Mark's not exactly doing justice to Joe's, either. I don't think Joe was saying that pop isn't particularly good right now, nor was anything he was saying conditional to the formulation that if pop right now is worse than any other point in its history, then it is Not Good, which is the line of argument Mark seems to be trying to use. (Given the above sequence of misrepresentations, though, I am probably misrepresenting his point.)

The main thing I'd take issue with is this bit:

What's odd about Poptimist position two is that it seems to be out of step with the experience of being a fan: the ups and downs, the expectations and the disappointments are part of the masochistic reel/real of being a popfan, subtracted out by the sunny side-up, 'you can always find a good record if you look for it' enlightened connoisseurship of the Poptimist.

You can find 'good records' in any year. But that doesn't make every year a good year for Pop.

Look, I've said it before: it doesn't matter because we don't care. This statement only matters if you care if 2003 was better than 2002, and the people whose critical philosophy generally seems to run parallel to mine just don't give a rat's ass about that as far as I can tell. As I say in that post, we might care if these three months seem like a dry spell, but given the massive amount of music put out in a year and the number of people sifting through it for our enjoyment, it's highly unlikely we'll actually go 12 full months without finding stuff to enjoy. My post immediately below this one clearly demonstrates that I'm interested, as Mark seems to be, in ways that pop could be better, but really, that just means I have to work a little harder for my own personal enjoyment.

It comes down to this. Is Timbaland better or worse than he was 7 years ago? I don't care. (I care that there's stuff he did 7 years ago that's good, but that's it.) Is "Pass That Dutch" good? Yes! I enjoy it! If he isn't doing anything good, well, then I don't care about him. It's not even an issue. I don't care about lists, I don't care about ranking, I don't care about who's better who's best; I care about what's good and if I enjoy it, thank you very much.

The idea that we're somehow losing out of one of the key experiences of being a fan by ignoring pitfalls is ludicrous. Just because we think a genre's doing OK doesn't mean we don't care about our favorite artists putting out shit records. Does it pain me that Tori Amos' latest haven't been good? Will that make her great comeback album (please, please) all the more sweetly enjoyable? Yes to both, although I wouldn't have minded an unbroken string of masterpieces, mind you.

The problem I think folks like me have with what we're apparently calling anti-poptimists is that they seem too eager to dislike something, that, in their need to rank, the fact that Under Construction isn't as good as Miss E...So Addictive makes that album less worthwhile and less enjoyable. Just because something's not a masterpiece doesn't mean it's not good, and just because you think something's not as good as a previous effort doesn't make it worth listening to, and indeed, it might actually indicate that you haven't got the proper method of appreciating it nailed down. I think we're saying: why waste time worrying about 2003 being a bad year for pop when you could be tracking down good pop? What's the fucking point?