Lana Del Rey got angry with a critic. It’s not the first time an artist felt someone got them wrong, and it’s not the first time that an artist has gone public with their petty disdain, but it’s definitely time to ask… well, why bother?
Sure, it’s been a bit Striesand Effect-y, since we probably wouldn’t have cared about Ann Powers’ (positive, intriguing, thoughtful) review of the new album Norman Fucking Rockwell! had Ms DR not chosen to hit up Twitter and complain about it.
Although nice clapback from Th0rn here, making the well-phrased observation:
But all that aside, and as a music writer of longer than I’d like to admit it breaks my heart to say it, but there’s never been a time to give less of a damn about what critics think than now.
There are barely any of us working in fulltime music criticism these days, certainly compared to previous decades, and our influence is somewhere below that of a car dealership forwarding memes on Instagram. Lana getting petty at a critic just looks like punching downward.
And that’s not least because nowadays anyone can listen to the record for themselves the second of release, thanks to it being 2019. It made sense to have some trusted voice say “yeah, this is worth your time” before you dropped $30 on a CD; nowadays, who cares?
So given that the gatekeepers are less important now that access to music is less an exclusive nightclub and more a wide open paddock, and that a review is unlikely to make a tangible difference in the somewhat-reduced financial circumstances of artists, it’s never been more important for artists to just goddamn love what they do.
And getting angry with a critic for having an opinion – you know, the job – is just petty.
After all, there’s no shortage of music out there and it’s never been more accessible. You’re not just competing with the new hot things; you’re going head to head with the Beatles and Madonna and Prince and whatever else the algorithm throws up.
So surely – SURELY! – these days artists would be only making records they feel a deep personal need to make and with which they are in artistic love.
Because if you’re in love with your own album, Lana, no critic’s opinion is going to matter a damn bit.