Look at Pitchfork: It’s been years since the site had the kind of cultural cachet on which it built its empire. But music fans of a certain age can still rattle off the acts that landed notorious reviews and landmark 0.0 ratings—Travis Morrison! Robert Pollard!! Liz Phair!!! I’m a music fan of that age: When I first started paying attention to Pitchfork, in the early 2000s, it was at its tastemaking peak. And when it panned you, it stung.
Not buyin' it.
Pitchfork didn't become a thing until Rolling Stone, Spin and NME had fully and officially jumped the shark. For those of you who don't remember 1995, it was the year after Kurt Cobain died, the era when "alternative" became the name they gave to college-notcollege mega-album projects cynically engineered to sound as if they were authentic. It was three years after anything made in Seattle was automatic gold and anything with power chords in it was automatic dogshit. It was the year Easy E died and Ice Cube lost his teeth; it was the year Dr. Dre and 2-Pac dressed up all road warrior so they wouldn't look like pussies singing about "California Love" through a fuckin' Heil talkbox. It was the year before the Fugees fucked up R&B for everyone forever after, the year before Candlebox made everyone holding a guitar feel dirty to be associated with such pussies. It was the ascendancy of that irritating bitch Kennedy to 120 minutes; it was the year Riki Rachtman got kicked off of Headbanger's Ball, it was the year before MTV tried to turn a buck by pretending Front Line Assembly and Chemical Brothers had anything to fucking do with each other because they both had synths PLEASE GOD KEEP WATCHING VIDEOS NO NO NO STAY OFF OF MP3.COM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
And into this vacuum, where everyone who actually gave a shit about music had long since given up on the traditional channels, stepped Pitchfork.
I know you Krazy Kids want to pretend Pitchfork fucking mattered for some reason, but the only reason it fucking mattered is because you weren't cool enough to know you needed to treat it with scorn, derision and silence. Pitchfork rose ascendant in an era capped by the soundtrack to High School Musical being the top-selling album of the year. It played a lame counterpoint to American Idol-era music publishing, a self-conscious "corporate bands suck" masque held in front of the exact same faces that gave you Kelly Clarkson but fuckin'A, son, let's not for a minute pretend that what some dorks with a website thought about Liz Phucking Phair mattered to anyone.
Pitchfork-era music was megashows in the arenas and tiny bands that didn't need press selling out clubs. This weird culture in the middle? The one everyone (everyone) had given up on? I mean, you were already dead.