How many times have you read an interview with a musician that started with the words “I caught up with…”?  Are musicians so elusive, or is the interviewer admitting to stalking their subject over a period of years and finally running them to ground backstage at Shepherds Bush Empire or Rock City?  It sounds like it’s really difficult to get an interview with a musician but anyone promoting a new album will offer body parts on Ebay to get a bit of publicity for their masterwork.  If a journalist opened a piece by saying that they’d caught up with Usain Bolt or Mo Farah, I’d be impressed, but a chain-smoking, nocturnal  guitarist isn’t quite in the same league.

So it’s journalistic shorthand, isn’t it? Or maybe journalistic laziness, but you wouldn’t find it in the quality music press, would you?  Just have a look at any recent copy of NME or Q.  How about the phrase “long-awaited”? You see it all the time, but what does it really mean?  It means that the minders finally got all of the band members together at the same time, relatively clean and sober, and persuaded them to knock off a dozen songs to cobble together a follow-up to their critically-acclaimed first album released 3 years ago.  Long-awaited by a multinational media company desperate to recoup their initial investment before the talent dries up or dies.  After waiting nearly 3 years for the follow-up to “Hotel California”, Asylum Records sent the Eagles a rhyming dictionary to help them with the album that became “The Long Run”.  What a waste of 15 dollars.

“Long-awaited” also has 2 illegitimate siblings, “comeback” and “return to form”.  A comeback is the last-chance saloon before doing the package tour nostalgia circuit and shouldn’t be confused with the contractual obligation greatest hits album and tour which is designed to wring out every last bit of revenue before the fanbase grows up or moves on to the next phenomenon.  A return to form means that the artist is out of rehab/a psychiatric institution/prison/the clutches of an anorexic junkie supermodel or any combination of the above and has managed to wring out a couple of songs which are vaguely listenable.

Another pair of journalistic siblings are “-indebted” and “-influenced”, as in Beatles-indebted or Smiths-influenced.  This is really simple; the songwriter has absolutely no original ideas and shamelessly rips off riffs and lyrics which have already been successful for other bands.  The second Duffy album might or might not be an example of this kind of opportunism, I couldn’t comment.

And what about those old favourites,” idiosyncratic” and “experimental”?  These words are journalistic code for the unlistenable output of artists investing all of their royalties in recreational substances or the latest musical version of the Emperor’s new clothes.  You’ll probably see “challenging” make an appearance as well, as the journalist implies that only an insider with outstanding musical taste can fully understand the genius of the artist being dissected.

And what about tributes when someone dies?  Why is it we always get a flood of tributes?  Shouldn’t it be a gush?

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