Independent Thinking: The Influence of Pitchfork

Independent Thinking: The Influence of Pitchfork

As someone who listens to a large amount of music, I am always looking for something that is a bit different. Trying to find music that doesn’t sound like something I have heard before is a difficult task, but with the Internet, it has become somewhat less so.

Pitchfork Media, a website that is familiar to most independent music fans, has played a large role in influencing the type of music that I like today. The website certainly does have its quirks, reviewing albums in a fashion that many would find irritating. I, however, defend Pitchfork for a variety of reasons, even though I acknowledge much of the website’s music is too obscure for people to enjoy.

Pitchfork Media is notorious for its harsh critics; chances are that your favorite band or artist has been criticized on their website many a time. Often, Pitchfork will review an al­bum and give it a rating of 0.0. Many critics say that Pitchfork’s reviews are publicity stunts and they hold little to no truth whatsoever. The reality of it is that Pitchfork reviews contain the individual biases of the writers in addition to the bias of the site, which favors lo-fi and independent music over almost all else.

Pitchfork supports artists such as LCD Soundsystem, The XX, The Very Best and Deerhunter, just to name a few. Although I can disagree with what Pitchfork says often, I cannot deny that they love the same bands I do. My musical taste will be linked with the site for quite a while, whether I like it or not. That is not to say that I never disagree with what they put on their site, however.

Pitchfork seems to have gotten away from its exclusively independent roots. One of the reviews that received the most hits on Pitchfork of 2010 was that of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The website gave the album a perfect ten (a rarity on the Pitchfork scale), describing the album as “a blast of surreal pop excess that few artists are capable of creating, or even willing to attempt.”

The site is certainly worthwhile for those looking for new music and the sec­tion offers great videos and original content. It certainly has made its mark in an age where music popularity is controlled in large part by the Internet. As a traditional radio station, Pitchfork would likely fail because it would not play most of the popular music other radio stations play to get listeners. Instead, it would play an obscure variety of mainstream rap (Gu­cci Mane, Kanye West), alternative electronica (Animal Collective, Tanlines) and minimalistic pop (The XX), all of which have fan bases that are mutually exclusive for the most part.

Pitchfork has a way of reviewing albums in a fashion that always seems as if it is too harsh on the artists, yet they always back up their claims in a way that makes us think twice about the music we are listening to and what makes it special or likable. Check out the site and you will see things differently; I promise.