Stop Criticizing Musicians

Seriously. Stop.

I see it all the time: “[insert artist name here] is so good! This is real music. Not like the trash that’s on the radio today.”

News flash: It’s all real music.

Are there silly, meaningless songs on the radio? Sure. There have always been songs like that, even before the radio existed. There has always been at least one popular song floating around in the ether with bad lyrics and a shoddy tune. It’s not unique to this generation–the ratio of good to bad music is the same as it’s always been, simply because of this little fact: personal taste is relative.

Shocker.

People listen to music because they want to enjoy themselves–no more, no less. Some can only enjoy a song if it has an intricate composition or meaningful lyrics; some prefer to ignore the words entirely and focus on the beat. Some prefer the sounds made by computers; some prefer to stick entirely with instruments that don’t require any form of electricity whatsoever.

Any style of music requires technique, practice, and the confidence to perform. That’s it. That’s all you need to create enjoyable music.

Want meaningful lyrics? I could write an essay on Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait”. Want technique? Don’t knock electronic compositions: some professional soundtrack producers compose their music almost entirely via the computer, these days, and it’s no less beautiful–and no less admirable–than a hand-written piece.

It’s especially egregious when fans of a popular artist call other artists “talentless” in order to make their favorite look good.

Here’s the thing: there’s a good chance your fave actually likes that person you just insulted.

To them, that is a colleague–and I can guarantee you that every single person in the spotlight has worked their tush off to get to that point. It may look like a lucky break from your perspective, but most artists struggle for years before making it big. Even if they don’t, they put a lot of effort into their work: practicing choreography, voice lessons that probably started when they were around six, sacrificing friends and family and even their hometown for the sake of their career.

Here’s the other thing: most famous artists are workaholics.

Disappear from the public spotlight, and your career is in the pot. It takes a metric frickton of time, work, money, and content to generate the sort of income usually associated with being famous, and at least half a metric frickton of the same just to make a decent income.

That is their job. That is their work. They get on a stage, they speak in public–something many people are scared to do, to the point where a fear of public speaking is generally viewed as something that is common, or at least understandable, to the point where almost everyone is familiar with the advice ‘picture the audience in their underwear’–on a regular basis.

They deserve your respect as human beings. Even apart from the work, even apart from what they’ve accomplished, they are human. They do not deserve your put-downs.

And no, I’m not talking about constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is not “Music today sucks! I miss the old days!” Constructive criticism is not, “[insert artist here] can’t sing!” Constructive criticism is actually, y’know, constructive. It doesn’t tear people down. It doesn’t belittle or invalidate them, their hard work, their choice of medium, their techniques, or their life choices.

So unless you have something constructive to say, please– don’t say anything at all. Because the belittlement of artists–especially musicians–especially anything that has to do with this current generation–is a pervasive toxic mindset that has infected a good portion of this earth’s population.

And it needs to stop.

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