‘One’s taste in music

By on February 27, 2008

I have never read a more offensive editorial than Matt DeMello’s piece in the previous issue of the Chronicle entitled “A&E Review ‘Illegitimate’.”

In the article, DeMello criticizes Leigh Maneri’s review of a Michael Buble album printed a few weeks prior. He launches into a thousand-word tirade about Buble’s inferiority to his influences with an almost unbearable amount of pretention, but this isn’t what bothered me most about the piece. Instead, what truly frustrated me were DeMello’s final two paragraphs in which he basically calls out the Arts & Entertainment section of the Chronicle for not being more discerning with the articles they print, citing that “anyone of no certain qualification can assume some greater music authority” and give any album whatever score they please.

Herein lies the dilemma with music criticism. Like all forms of art, one’s taste in music is entirely subjective. While DeMello makes his views on Buble’s album explicitly and overbearingly clear (his article is close to a thousand words long compared to Maneri’s 130), in no way does this change the fact that Maneri still found something to enjoy in this album.

To put it simply, not every student at Quinnipiac is as culturally learned as DeMello claims to be. Were he at the meeting in which Maneri volunteered to write the Buble review, he would have seen a somewhat nervous freshman at her first Chronicle meeting ever, offering to write anything so long as she could help contribute. Seeing that the Arts & Entertainment section needed an album review for the week, she timidly explained that while she doesn’t listen to a whole lot of music, she enjoyed the new Michael Buble album and would write a review of it if it would help get the paper out.

Editors Meghan Driscoll and Alexandra Capotorto had been pushing for stylistic diversity within the album review section for weeks, and coupled with always-exciting prospect of a new writer, they emphatically assigned her the piece.

I may not agree with Maneri’s review either, but for DeMello to criticize the entire Arts & Entertainment section over a freshman writer’s first article ever is a sweeping generalization that I simply cannot stand for. If anything, this entire debate brings to light the crippling lack of participation that the Chronicle suffers from.

Contrary to what DeMello may think, the A&E section does not sit atop an overflowing bank of album reviews that are selected each week. In fact, album and book reviews are usually the last to be assigned. The fact that, at her first meeting, Maneri stepped outside of her own comfort zone and gave an album review the old “college try” so that the section could be completed on time should be applauded, even if that content wasn’t all it should be.

It’s unfortunate that the rest of us aren’t blessed with such a gift for critical literature like DeMello is. Surely he is the messiah of the genre, sent to Quinnipiac to teach us his wise ways.

Oh, what fools we have been to not heed his teachings! Instead we have thrown at him whatever stones we found lying at our feet, much like Chronicle writers throw five-star reviews at their favorite artists.

The whole point of college is to learn a specific skill, and then hone that skill with years of expert instruction so that we may present the working world with something useful once we finally are forced to enter it. The majority of the first year of college is spent on general studies courses, so it’s expected for freshman writers to be far from their creative zeniths.

Still, I encourage all new writers to join and write for the Chronicle!

There is no better teacher than experience!


About Mike Farrell