Like Clichés on Acid 

A lush soundscape of Rock Critic Jargon I will never use again.

Let us now discuss the labyrinthine, in-your-face, introspective, esoteric, head-bobbing, fist-pumping, booty-shaking, genre-defying mélange of the Rock Critic Cliché milieu.

(Riffage. Let us also discuss riffage.)

Next time you spot one of these doofuses at a party (riffling through the host's CD collection, pilfering all the Cheetos, sulking despondently in a darkened corner), ask him/her/me to describe a band, a song, a genre. Verbally. In actual, human, face-to-face conversation. Then prepare for an onslaught of meaningless nonsense. Like any other, this profession suffers from its own unique lexicon of ridiculous, impenetrable jargon. I am certainly not immune to this disease, nor can I suggest a foolproof cure. But perhaps I can diagnose specific viruses and prescribe medicine to -- lousy metaphors. (Gotta knock it off with the lousy metaphors, too.)

As we behold 2005's shimmering, hypnotic, melodic dawn, I pledge to you: Every bolded word in this column, I will never use again after this week.


Frequently describes guitars that sound, well, pointy. Sharp, unpleasant, of or like Fugazi. As opposed to "circular," which is a whole other can of corn.

Can of Corn



Really, really angular.


"I didn't like it."


"I didn't listen to it."


"I sold it back for $5 without listening to it, but then everyone else wrote about it, so I had to buy it back for $12 and pretend I liked it."

Rewards repeated listens

"Though I haven't yet listened to it, I assume it will be seminal."


Describes any song that does not employ a full string orchestra. "Hall & Oates' 'I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)' is a seminal, coruscating slab of minimalist pop."




"I couldn't dance competently if my pants were on fire."

Four on the Floor

Intended to mean "Inspires raucous dancing." Actually means "Induces vomiting."

Nervous Funk

Attempted dance music that inadvertently induces vomiting.


(Fires rocket launcher at head.)


"This is the only song I remember."


Really, really radio-ready.


Fate intertwined with R.E.M. Adios.

Drops, e.g. "Tone Loc's new album drops Jan. 25"

Knock it off; you're white.

Spits, as opposed to "raps" or "speaks"

White white white.

Wheels of steel, as opposed to "turntables"

White white white white white.






Conjures lush soundscapes of boring pretentiousness.


Yes, sir: Brian Eno is smarter than you.


What -- like Meatballs?


"From polka to bluegrass to baile funk to death metal! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!"


Sounds nothing whatsoever like jazz.


White white white white white white white white.


"Dude, I gotta finish this: Aqua Teen Hunger Force starts in twenty minutes."

Like _____ on acid

"Dude, that giant bag of fries totally just said 'Crunk.'"

_____ Meets _____ with a Tinge of ____

"Dude, this show is like Bugs Bunny on acid."

Wanton Hyphen Overuse

An ordinarily calm writer friend of mine flies into a rage whenever this technique is employed. Specifically, he refers to it as "I-can't-think-of -what-to-write-so-it's-time-to-just-say-'fuck-it'-and- hyphenate-the-shit -out-of-a-whole-mess-of-words- that-might-come-close- to-an-accurate -description- of-something-that-I -might-be-able-to-work-out-myself-if-I- read-real-books-instead-of-Spin-while-I- go-poo-poo." He'll be fine, honest.


Not yet. I still really like wanton.

_______ Yet ________

Increasingly common. Angry Hyphen Guy particularly chafes at the "Retro Yet Futuristic" tag: "What -- like Barbarella?"

Wanton Capitalization Overuse

Such as, oh, say, Angry Hyphen Guy. I'm still enamored of this one, too. Let's save it for '06.



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