04 June 2004

Over and out... 

Well, guys... the end is nigh. I'm off to Sydney tomorrow to become an Uncle (finally!!) and really start knuckling down on assignments without the distractions of home. Yeah, sure... you could say Sydney may offer more distractions (babies, alcohol, long-time-unseen friends...), but shhh... I'm tryin' to think positive here!

I'm not sure the thoughts in my brain have really translated well to my Blog in regard to actual research and the precise focus for my essay, but I suppose the lack of online academic resources on music fan reviews and criticism has kind of held my sharing ability back a little. I've read a few articles and kind of know where I'm headed (in my mind) but I regret not being able to share that fully with you all.

Anyhoo... Good luck to everyone with the assignments (both MSTU2000 and others) and enjoy your holidays!

Stay tuned for afterthoughts... Trust me, I always have afterthoughts.


01 June 2004

Example of Fan Criticism (and criticism thereof...) 

I was just doing a search of old fan review threads posted on the Kylie Minogue fan community (SayHey) and thought I'd share a little gem with you all. It's a review of Kylie's Body Language album, written by a fan just one day after joining the forum back in November. It can be viewed in full here, but you can get the general idea from this excerpt:

"...overall the album is very much average, lacking a very much needed killer stand out track. the album doesnt progress well from 'fever', you get the impression this should have been released in 4 - 6 years time, and there is an album in between it and 'fever' that is missing. Kylie fails miserably to convince you its actually her on the album, it just screams a very laid back and somewhat medoicre attempt at a follow up 'fever', with the US market written all over it. 'fever mark 2' would have gone down a treat."

It's hard not to see the attempt at a "professional" review here (despite the lack of grammar) but what is interesting (read: hilarious) is the single, blunt response the poster received:

"You don't know how to review this album. I'm sick of hearing people's instant reviews of BL, here and in the papers. It's a grower stupid."

It's little wonder the reviewer's time on SayHey didn't continue past a single day - it seems he was scared off by someone much higher up in the food chain.


26 May 2004

Fan Critics - Interesting Quote... 

I was reading through Henry Jenkins' Textual Poachers today, and thought I'd share an interesting quote with which he introduces a chapter on Fan Critics. It's about Star Trek, but I think the underlying point is clear and without a doubt related to the way that online pop music communities criticise artists and musical directions.

"Many of us who are fans of Star Trek enjoy Star Trek despite its faults, not because we think Star Trek is perfect and not because we do not think it cannot be improved. To criticise Star Trek, then, means that we enjoy Star Trek enough to want it to be the best it can be, and we wish to point out flaws in the hope of improvement (that is, to learn from mistakes, rather than to pretend they do not exist). If we didn't care, we wouldn't criticise." (Joan Marie Verba, quoted in Jenkins 86)

It's hardly rocket science, but the quote definitely articulates a common trait among music fans - it's personal opinion that creates the tension among individuals in these communities, but is this such a bad thing?

By the way, I can't stand Star Trek - I'm a Star Wars geek myself.


Dammit, now I'm addicted to Quizzes... 

Thanks to my last entry, I'm now in "quiz mode" and thought I'd share with you all which Transformer I am. Nothing whatsoever to do with music, but hey... I'm back into Transformers big time, and Mum always told me to share.

You Are Ratchet!

You are caring and compassionate.

Which Transformer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


"An Appreciative Fan" 

Well, since I don't appear to be attending this morning's lecture due to the unfortunate balancing act required in the last two weeks of semester (and impending unclehood, for which I'm travelling to Sydney), I figure I should at least do something...

...so, I did Triple J's quiz ("What Sort of Fan are You?"), found on Andrew's Blog.

As it turns out, I'm an "Appreciative Fan":

You've got nothing to prove. You like exploring new music. Your remarkably creative point of view lets you enjoy all sorts of tunes - whatever makes you move and groove. You're passionate about music but you like to have a life outside of it. You don't chase fame but if you do meet a band you can easily charm them with your open, personal style. You're the kind of fan that bands love buying them beers. Hell, they might even spot the odd one back your way. Just don't tell them about your passion for plaster casting private parts and you'll be fine.

I like that answer. Suits me well, I think... although I'm not so sure about the plaster-casting. Curious idea, though. Maybe I'll ask the Live boys next time they're in town.


25 May 2004

New Media & Popular Music Criticism  

For anyone interested in new media and music criticism (as I am), Steve Jones has written a fantastic - and extremely readable - piece, titled "Popular Music, Media, and the Written Word". As an introduction to a collection of essays titled Pop Music and the Press, the piece looks at attitudes toward rock music criticism and touches on a number of issues concerning new media and online fan communities - noting that new media "may be a proving ground for aspiring critics.... [where] the boundaries between fans and critics are blurred as never before".

If anyone's interested, here's some reviews and chapter information as well.

Attention: All students doing the Film & TV major... 

Just another little side-thought (since I'm kinda good at those):

I have just one course left in my Film & Television major, now that Scriptwriting has been added to the list (nice surprise, as I did it last year), and I'm keen on doing more creative electives for my final semester. As such, I need to choose between From Buddha to Bruce Lee and Film & History (which, I must admit, sounds a tad boring).

Has anybody studied either of these and, if so, what were the pros and cons, in your opinion?

I could always give Australian Cinema a go, but I won't for two reasons: my opinion of Australian films is pretty low in general; and no more Alan McKee! I'm really cut about that today, aren't I?

Anyway, I've studied enough enjoyable courses (and done better in them as a result) to know I don't want to waste my last semester with dry, uninteresting ones.


And off I go... 

Thanks to Jean, I've come across an academic I can almost guarantee is going to whet my appetite for fan theory surrounding "popular" culture. For anyone who misses Alan McKee's brilliant teaching style now that he's abandoned us for the "real world" university (as opposed to our "ideal world" one... and the other, "Coles New World" one...), Henry Jenkins seems to have much the same approach to ideas of popular culture and the academic snobbery that often accompanies it.

While I've only scanned the page so far, I was attracted to Jenkins' style of thought by this quote:

When I first began studying media in graduate school, I was enormously frustrated with academic representations of media consumption, because their vision of isolated, passive, and ideologically vulnerable consumers were so at odds with my highly social, engaged, empowered, and creative experiences as a fan.

I look forward to reading more and hope this may be of use to anyone else studying popular fan cultures.


20 May 2004

Everyone's a critic... 

Going over my rather heated online discussion with Kylie fans on the SayHey fan forum (discussed previously), and after continued consideration of my initially difficult essay focus, I thought I'd share the following gem with you all. It's written by a fan, yet it articulates an important aspect of online music communities and one which I want to look at more closely for the assignment: the idea that global access to media and each other has made everyone a critic.

"Since people start[ed] reading about and discussing music on the Internet, it seems that everyone thinks he's a rock critic. Certainly, much of this comes from the fact that we have easy access to virtually everything that real critics say about music, but it also has to do with the fact that we're exchanging views with other people just like us: laymen. This tends to give people the impression that they know and understand both critical and consumer consensus.

Think about it: how many times have we seen people on the Internet, and in particular on this site, bickering with one another over the critical or public reception of a music project? Often, people make bold sales predictions, cite statistics or use cliches from the world of contemporary music criticism. Ten years ago, can you imagine a normal person describing a new pop track as "uninspired," "forgettable," "her latest effort," or "Britney/Christina/Kylie/Janet in top form"? Certainly, these terms reflect sentiments that are not new, but the casual use of "critic speak" is a more recent development.

Similarly, concepts in pop music that were once considered fairly advanced are now the domain of laymen. I'll hurl if I hear one more person going on about how an artist is a "brand" rather than a person, or speculating that some minor action on the part of an artist of label is a publicity stunt. In many cases, people discussing these ideas use identical language, such as "millions of dollars in free publicity" or "keeping her name in the papers.""

If anyone has any opinions on this, or knows where I might find more academic evidence of this kind of fan criticism, let me know.


14 May 2004

Ah, John Mayer... ya gotta love him... 

As much as this post is in no way related to my essay research, I just could resist linking you guys to this article, looking at John Mayer's upcoming first music column for Esquire magazine.

I dunno what it is about this guy, but he's fast become my favourite artist of the moment. Maybe it's his unashamed honesty that appeals to me, as evidenced in his brilliantly visual lyrics, but saying he's "missed too many episodes to follow the plot" - regarding The Beatles, of all people - is just classic. Besides, he's kinda stupid-looking, so that makes his opinions "credible", right? Erm... right?


12 May 2004

Off to a slow start... 

Well, with a few little bumps in the road so far (as mentioned in "What a difference a change in genre can make..."), I'm happy to say I've at least gained some responses from two people that might be considered quite high up in the heirarchy of Kylie Minogue fandom.

While it doesn't seem that the somewhat... how should I say... emotional Kylie fans have a great deal of influence upon her marketing and image, the responses so far have been interesting nonetheless.

From ex-Festival Mushroom Records employee, Lawrence, I've learned that "a certain Austereo personality uses [SayHey] for her on-air stories", as well as some logical reasons why these fans might be a little too involved to have much impact.

From Limbo webmaster Neil Rees, I got this great quote regarding the use of the community:

"To my knowledge most people who work directly with Kylie know about SayHey and have checked it out - to differing degrees - but they don't 'use' it directly to form decisions. There seems to be a general opinion about 'the infamous SayHey' - that it's really hardcore, and great entertainment, and if you want strong opinions then this is the place to check out. But they all know that its also best to steer clear if you want a 'general view' of something!"

On the other hand, Neil suggests that there have been the odd "low key releases" that have been influenced by the online community. These have included reissues of older - somewhat 'cultish' releases such as Kylie Minogue (originalled released in 1994) and Impossible Princess (1998). In cases such as these, he says, "people who actually use this board [have been] involved in [the releases, and] obviously had a much greater influence".

Now, how I'll use this information and where it might steer me in terms of a direct focus is beyond me at this point. Any suggestions would be great... Jean?


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