Review: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic – Jessica Hopper.

As someone who grew up reading collections of music articles growing up, it took until seeing Jessica Hopper’s that I realised I had literally never read one by a female. As she’s quick to point out, despite the title, she isn’t technically the first, but that doesn’t mean that they were commonly available.

So, we start with Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t, which was penned just as I was the demographic she feared for, the teens whose introduction to music was the genre she’d tired of in it’s narrative of one-sided heartbreak. By the time you get to You Know What?, which calls older rocker ladies decrying the attempts of those in future generations as unproductive, I’m pretty hooked on the book. From these hallmarks, it’s a book unlike one I’ve read in music, it deals with the female experience through articles in a way I’ve never seen in a collection; probably, you’d gather by now, because it’s written by a female. But there’s also a mix of general critique that’s interesting to read.

There are some articles I’m less involved in than others, and others I wasn’t as keen on, but the moral case of R Kelly stands out, putting the outcry of lack of coverage at the fore. Then there’s the monetisation of Warped tour, how it’s designed not for teens to immerse themselves in bands so much as to waste great amounts of time and spend loads of money. I may never have been to Warped, but I have been to an American rock festival and could see the reference points.

See, I was going to say ‘my musical culture’, but that seems odd. I’ve never seen my music documented like this in a book. I’ve seen the classics that I grew up with critiqued and interviewed until there was nothing new, but these articles are my teenage years, broken down for topics I hadn’t considered at the time, but on reflection can see a mile off.

It might not be the technical First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, but it was for me, and more so, it was the first that felt like I wasn’t reading history, but my own teenage years in many of the pages.

May 2015 | Featherproof Books

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