Afraid to Criticize…

I’ve noticed a trend on social media of music journalists and other musicians in Ireland who seem to be afraid to criticize other bands, albums or the music business in Ireland.

Every town has an “amazing” scene. Every band is “amazing”. All albums by Irish bands are “amazing”.

I notice this in Limerick, as that’s where I’m from. Limerick has been unfairly battered by the┬ánational media over the last 20 to 30 years, so you could understand how people from Limerick would be on the defensive when anything Limerick related has been criticized.

It went into overdrive last year for the City of Culture festival in Limerick. Everything was amazing. Right across the board, the arts scene was amazing. Everything was great. The circle jerk went on for the entire year. Smoke blown up arses and so on. Amazing. Everything. It was a great thing for the city, but everything doesn’t have to be amazing. It’s ok to be critical. Can things be “ok”, “alright” or “not great”?

But I can’t recall reading a review of an album by an Irish band by an Irish journalist where they’ve just said: “It’s shit.” I read a live review of a new Irish band called The Academic recently where the journalist tip toed around the conclusion that the band weren’t that good. At least that’s what I got from the review.

Is it because the music scene in Ireland is too small? Is it because journalists who go to gigs in Ireland knock around in the same scene as the bands they are reviewing? They’re possibly friends of friends of the bands in question. They probably know guys and girls in many of these bands on the scene currently. Because Ireland is small and the scenes in each region are small, chances are they’ll be having pints in the same bar as a band they’ll have to review.

Maybe nobody wants to upset the apple cart, or upset their chances of moving up the musical ladder?

If you criticize anything these days in Ireland, you’re seen as a begrudging person. Maybe that’s it too. People are afraid to call out a new local band as muck, when we know the reality that for all the bands knocking around Ireland, they can’t all be “amazing”.

At the same time, to contradict myself, I could say that Ed Sheeran is shite, but that’s only my opinion and millions of people do like him, so more power to him. I’ll just listen to music I do like.

But, as a music journalist, if you’re paid to give your opinion, should you stick the boot in and tell it like it is, if that’s your opinion?

U2 always seem to be fair game for criticism. Is that because the people knocking them know they’ll never meet them?


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