A rock critic's exit interview

Tom Jackson
Jul 6, 2010


Robert Christgau — maybe the best-known, best-respected rock critic in the United States — has decided to end his influential monthly Consumer Guide column, which provided capsule reviews and letter grades for pop albums.

Christgau's Web site provides a massive database of his reviews, searchable by the artist's name. You can't really substitute somebody else's ears for your own, and I've found his reviews vary in usefulness. I often disagree with his views on rock music, but I've found his reviews of country music albums nearly infallible, and he's been very useful in pointing me to good Afropop albums.

Go here for an exit interview, where he reveals which kinds of music the average listener should be paying attention to these days.




Christgau was a reading staple of mine for the better part of two decades.  During that time his musical tastes complemented my own in that he liked much of the stuff that I enjoyed and helped turn me on to music that I otherwise would not have investigated.  That changed around 1990 when he became more enamored with the evolving rap/hip-hop genre.  I tried it and simply found little attraction.  I never held it against him that he seemingly never embraced progressive bands that I was wild about since I will never begrudge someone their own individual musical tastes.  While I would still refer to him over the years my allegiance to him gradually waned, although I could always get a chuckle out of his writing style.

I still use his database and wish him well.  If making people think about musical choices can be used as a measure of success he was certainly successful in my case.