Most of the pop punk community is aware of the (incredibly stupid) Jarrod Alonge/Knuckle Puck “beef” regarding the parody of the band’s name/merch. And although we really don’t care about it, and therefore will not mention it again, it did get us thinking about the age-old topic regarding the seriousness of music as a form of art.
Is music supposed to be fun and insignificant, or is it supposed to be something meaningful that we take incredibly seriously? For us listeners, it can obviously be both. We all can agree that the music bands like Brand New and Death Cab For Cutie make is a hell of a lot more serious and meaningful than, let’s say, The Chainsmokers’ tracks (we still stand by the fact that ‘Closer’ is their only good song). But it obviously doesn’t work that way for musicians. Whether they make a bouncy pop punk track or an emotional ballad, it’s still their baby. It’s something they have put a lot of time into creating. And because it’s so important to them, they tend to see their music as untouchable and become extremely defensive when anyone criticizes or degrades it in any way.
But let’s put a pin in that for a minute and talk about pop punk…
The pop punk genre was built upon the idea of music being incredibly stupid, immature and fun, but do us listeners use this as an excuse to mock the bands and their creative process? Especially when things like the pop punk myths come into play: pizza-lovers, wanting to leave their hometown, not being cool, loving their friend’s unreal amounts etc.
Should music be seen as this important, respected thing that should always be admired, regardless of personal taste, but never discredited or humiliated?
After all, music is a form of art. Most people don’t walk into a gallery and start pointing out all the paintings that look “generic”. So is it right to do it with music? Who’s to say? But as music journalists, we kind of have to throw around words like “nostalgic”, “generic” and “emo”, and although “emo” and “nostalgic” aren’t words we would call particularly insulting, they offend many bands. Maybe musicians are just too sensitive to criticism, or maybe society is just too judgmental of their art.
Should we not just applaud the effort, and the creative process, and just shut the hell up?
Maybe. But as music journalists, our jobs are to review: to share a personal opinion about an album/song/concert based on the facts we, sometimes subjectively, present in our article. It’s an opinion—simple as that.
We do, however, believe that most musicians (and we’ve got to go with most and not all because some stuff just can’t be considered music) deserve a level of respect just for simply creating a piece of music. After all, how many of us can say we can belt out a high note or play a bitchin’ guitar solo? Not many.
We can respect people’s art, but we definitely don’t have to like it—we can honestly say that we have never met a person who likes the Mona Lisa painting. And publically expressing an opinion or joke about a particular band or genre isn’t really the end of the world. As a musician, your job is to create music you like. What other people say about it isn’t much of your concern. They may treat your music like silly little songs to jam to, or lifesaving anthems that they will treasure always. But regardless of how they see it, their opinions are their business. And if they hate it, it doesn’t make your art is any less authentic or credible.