Michael Azerrad is no stranger to writing about music. He’s the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, and he recently released Rock Critic Law. The latter is a book that includes 101 unbreakable rules for writing badly about music, as the subtitle notes. The book is an extremely quick read as the rules are presented in tweet-length format.
“There is no middle ground with intensity: either it’s “raw” or it’s “burning.” You’ll find that rule about halfway through the book and it’s just a taste of what you’ll get when you read the whole thing. Every once in a while, we need some satire in our lives. While this satirical take on rock criticism garners plenty of laughs, there is some truth behind it, too.
I’ll happily admit that I’ve fallen victim to some of these tropes with my music writing. Rock Critic Law gives me the motivation to continue to work on improving my writing (regardless of it being solely about music or not) while providing me with a good laugh.
As I blasted my way through this book, I did make a note of the wonderful illustrations that accompany each rule. Edwin Fotheringham did an excellent job with depicting each rule, and his art style has a bit of a DIY punk feel to it, which goes hand-in-hand with Rock Critic Law. It really adds to the experience of reading the book.
Rock Critic Law is a must-read for music writers and anyone who reads about music. You’re guaranteed to get a laugh out of this book, and it’s hard to argue about all of us need to laugh every once in a while these days. Long live rock criticism, no matter how predictable it can be and no matter how guilty we are of following some of these “rules.”