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Music Clichés
Rock Band Cliches:

Everyone that is in a band has a drug/drinking problem

Guitar solos are meant to be long and fast and full of notes.

"Creative Differences": This is code for "I'm leaving the band/I was canned from the band because I can't stand those sons of bitches".

Despite those "creative differences", you will most certainly jump at the opportunity to get back together with the band at the sign of a huge cash payday. This means "sure, I still can't stand those sons of bitches, but I've got a ridiculously expensive lifestyle that just can't be maintained through royalties alone."

Being in a band will get you laid, no matter how ugly you are, and therefore make you cool.

"It's just a solo album. The band is still together, going strong." Examples of musicians who have said this, rather incorrectly, are Paul McCartney, Sting, David Lee Roth, and David Byrne.

It doesn't matter how bad you play, as long as you look cool playing your guitar.

Bic lighters flicked during a ballad.


Just about everyone in the band has slept with female lead singer.

Being in a band/headlining means your band is better than the other bands on the bill.

Boy Band Cliches:
inordinate use of the word girl

ample innuendo to prove they're not wimps

secondhand R&B slang

Don't play instruments, they just dance around instead.

They don't write their own music

Put together by a record label or are only appealing because they look hot to teenage girls.

Heavy Metal Band Cliches
strip clubs

naked girls

big hair

heavy drinking

a virtuoso guitarist soloing his was through each track

Long Hair


Big hair

Leather pants

unable to carry tune (just needs to be able to scream)

gets all the girls



takes longer to do there hair then there groupies

Being in a band gets you rich and famous.

Breaking instruments = cool.

Rap Music Cliches
shout-outs to various locations

use of movie dialogue in a song

money, sex and violence.

Rock Music Critic Cliches:
"It may not be ______ but if you're looking for _____..." or other variants.
(Insert artist here)'s best work since (album) - with every new release.
... in a blender
... is a tour de force...
...worth admission price alone
[Here we have a] kinder, gentler, Metallica/REM/Nine Inch Nails/Eminem/Etcetera
'[random song title]' alone makes this LP/CD worth the price of admission...
________ explosion
A return to their rockin' roots
Abbreviating words like "alb" (for album), "LP", "it s----" (instad of simply "don't like it")
After their multiplatinum debut, So-and-so hope to avoid the sophomore jinx...
all mainstream music is garbage and/or sellout
all music made in the 60´s or the 70´s is rubbish
angular guitar
Any description of anyone in music as a "genius"
Any new music described as "Ground breaking"
Any repression of thought, honesty, emotion in a story; if the singer is fat as hell and makes their guitar look like a kazoo, why not fucking say it? Everyone is thinking it already.
Anyone called a genius without a hint of irony
Anything that's discussed as being "so bad its good"
Anything with [see previous] = noise = a masterpiece
Anything with 5 secs. or more of feedback = 'noise' = crap
apparent lack of dissent - except with "popular" rock and some acquired tastes
arguably (as in as in "arguably" the best album ever made)
Artist X is 'trying really hard to be Artist Y'
Attacked his guitar (bass, drums, the mic) like a [fill in the blank with aggressive phrase]
Axe-grinding, axe-man, hewed the audience with his axe
back in the 60´s and 70´s there was only good music, now is all music junk
bay area bangers/thrashers
Being afraid to admit to the dorky or sellout artists you secretly love, like Britney Spears
Bob Dylan or, worse, Jim Morrison, was a Brilliant Poet
Breaking everything down into the tiniest sub-sub-sub genres, e.g. "post-jazz ham-and-eggs breakbeat tech-metal"
Call it (insert inane made-up genre/portmanteau here)
Calling anything 'tripe'
calling Rock "Rawk"
changing the face of (insert area here) rock
comparing any singer with pop sensibilities to Brian Wilson
Comparing every living that has ever seen a guitar, and been slightly avent-garde to the Beatles
critics who refer to themselves as "this writer" and lazy editors who let it slide
cross between.
Dance music=drugs
Describing an artist's clothing as if it is a window into his/her soul
Disturbing comparisons to the beatles
Dropped (as in "released" - Their new CD drops June 1st)
Dylan: the "Greatest Poet of the Twentieth Century"
Eclectic necessarily means good
Elvis: "the King of Rock and Roll"
Ending review with title of album. makes it read like a Steven Seagal movie title.
Essentially nonexistent genres cooked up to string a few vaguely related bands together ("Y'allternative", "Alternative Country")
Ethereal Vocals
Every woman who sings is "a siren/diva/angelic vocals"
excessive use of coarse language; "c--- rock" (heavy metal); s--- (rubbish); gratuitous f------
Fin de Siecle
fresh-faced, effervescant...
gumbo (implies the artist is either eclectic (NRBQ, Sleepy LaBeef) or from New Orleans)
hamfisted racial/sociological interpretations
Hated band's last three albums, therefore rest of band's work must suck
Hair Bands
If I've never heard of a genre, the other writers writing about it must have just made it up--no one involved in the actual making of the music could possibly think the description fits.
intricate/diverse instrumentation
It's the next [name of an obvious 'Top 100 Album of All Time']
Korn sold out
Long albums=bad
lovechild of
Lyrics as the primary vehicle for all rock meaning.
mainlining on...
Making puns out of song/album titles (e.g. "'Blow Up' made me want to blow up my Television records!")
Metal 1969-2002: Only lovable for camp value, not because you actually LISTEN to it.
Metallica sold out
Mood Music
most innovative, most influential, greatest....
No-one will remember them X year(s) from now.
Not since the Beatles!
overuse of the x-meets-y device to describe the hybridity of the music at hand
Pandering to the eclectic
Pet Sounds
Pointing out that Nine Inch Nails didnt invent Industrial
pointless cynicism
pop sensibility
poppy and folk-y
Post-punk, post-rock, post-grunge; in fact, post-anything
predictable desert-island-discs album lists
Pushing the Envelope
Putting any artist on a pedestal high up into the heavens
putting down a band on the basis of their fans at a show you saw
Rap Metal sucks man, nu metal sucks man...
re: any dance genres or artists: "taking it to the next level"
really good review.... but only three stars
record reviews with "didn't grab me at first, but upon subsequent listens it..."
Reviews need little bold-faced one-line prefaces because readers are too stupid to bother trying to understand what's being written
Rock critics that refuse to use the word "I" in a story or review, etc. Well, who the hell wrote it anyway, the magazine?
Rock-solid bass playing...
Rock-solid drumming...
rose from the ashes (i.e. luna rose from the ashes of galaxie 500)
sarcastic, wry, sardonic self-awareness
saying "sophomore release" instead of "second album"
saying a band creates soundscapes, what the hell are those?
saying that "noise" is always good; use of "drone", "feedback" about guitar sounds
screech, sneer, etc. applied to a voice
sell out
She/he/they "mean(s) it, maan"
Shock Rock
so is it good or does it suck?
so-called pop "fluff" = "inferior"
socially conscious
Songs about drugs=Good
sounds like (another band) on acid (or ecstacy, speed, your drug)
Sprawling double album
Street (level,credibility or culture)
Strokes/VU analogies
swan song
Tasteful = good, a.k.a. the Peter Gabriel/Seal/MJ Cole rule
The "ephemerality" of popular music.
The '60s were the greatest despite the fact that shockingly few of the era's vaunted masterworks outside of obvious big names really hold up that well
The assumption that anything punk-influenced is by definition unpretentious
The Beatles are untouchable because droves of gullible people still buy their records
The Beatles were the most talented, most influential, most loved, most creative, most photographed, most wanted, most...
The best Bob Dylan [or whoever] song that Dylan [or whoever] never wrote.
The best New York Band since VU/New York Dolls/Television/Blondie
The idea that popular music is akin to molecular science
the Jim Morrison comparison
The Metaphysics of Rock Criticism.
The next Bob Dylan
The next Velvet Underground
The only way dance post-house music works is in clubs and/or on drugs
The phrase "in an era when..."
the scene
the weepy sentimentalist
the word "Incendiary" or whatever
the words "flow" and "phat" (used in hip-hop reviews)
their eponymous debut
their sophomore effort
they're the new (enter name of inventive band from before 1976)
They're the next big thing!
This band combines the [blank] of the beatles with the [blank] of the Byrds
This band is the next Nirvana.. or the next anyone else.
This song is really about sex/drugs/masturbation/living in a repressive society, etc.
This year's Elvis/Aretha/Beatles, etc.
three chord robbery
Tour du Force
Transcends the genre
treating Pet Sounds like it's the work of God
trying to synthesize an artist by combining better known artists
Unabashed love of anything local
unquestioned fawning over anything scandinavian
Use of "e.g."
vinyl offering

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