Responding to Maura Johnston’s Fall Out Boy-inspired remark about the “deadliness” of “teen girl adoration” for any guy band that wants serious consideration over thirteen, Scott Woods reminds her of rock critics who:
…took for granted, mostly, not just that “teen girl adoration” was acceptable but that in many ways it was a crucial part of the story, with some critics going so far at times to even suggest that rock lost something when the Beatles “progressed” from screaming-girlism to capital-A you-know-what.
There’s a lot going on here. What does Johnston mean by “males above the age of 13″ — male fans? rock critics? male rock critics? male fans who turn into rock critics? If she wants to diagnose another case of Duran Duranitis, then it’s all of the above unless you’re Rob Sheffield. As for Scott’s observation, it matches the experience of a boy shipwrecked in marshland whose radio stations played Nolan Thomas (“Yo Little Brother“!) Noel, TKA, Stevie B, Timmy T, other first names with capitalized single letters, and Linear around the clock, and those are just the male-fronted acts; I need only mention Debbie D, E.G. Daily, Miami Sound Machine, Cover Girls, Sweet Sensation, Company B, and on into infinity, like the British royal line from 1066 onwards. We were so steeped in pop that it is entirely possible a posse of iconoclasts thought they could outdo the names listed above in rhythmic impact, vocal lunacy, and lyrical wackness.
Secondly, I didn’t have to read Pazz and Jop polls in the mid to late nineties (and didn’t; they were inaccessible until I got AOL) to write a hermaneutics of pop based on the likes of Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton Jennifer Paige, and, at the peak of the Bill Clinton economic boom, New Radicals, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Hanson, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna rediscovering the throwaway with “Beautiful Stranger” — the era of the diamond certification. When Napster made it easier to download these baubles, snobbery looked even more ridiculous. This was the era when you could borrow a friend’s home computer and find Diana Ross’ “Muscles” and several singles from Heart’s Bad Animals alongside tracks from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (I was downloading obscure Al Green gospel and Mick Jagger’s “Ruthless People”).
In short, I don’t know who Johnston has in mind. The only contemporary recidivists, I suppose, write for Pitchfork, and perhaps it’s a symptom of the degree to which the mag dominates rockcrit that I look to blame them without recent evidence (Beyonce and GaGa got full reviews). On Stylus Magazine‘s message board, as lively as ever, PFM’s Ian Cohen used to shake his head with amused indignation around 2009 at our defenses of Ashlee Simpson; he thought we were joking. We weren’t and he wasn’t, but here we are, still lively, still amused.
The real answer to Maura’s question is “our friends.” You know what I mean. When asked about our favorite albums or singles of the year and we say The Killers, Drake, or Justin Bieber, we get the is-he-kidding? smirk.