Wednesday, April 9, 2014

STARCHILD: Chuck Klosterman with a brief (by his standards) essay appraising Kiss's career and justifying its induction into the Rock and Roll Non-Country Popular Music of the 1950s and Beyond Hall of Fame, based on the following standard for entry:
[T]here is at least one metric that makes sense to me: the sheer number of people who really care about an artist, demonstrated over time. This does not privilege the taste of an exclusive class of people who get to decide for everyone else, nor does it mechanically reflect a raw numeric census of anyone who once purchased an album or once attended a concert. I’m referring to the long-term accumulation of people who are exceptionally invested in a particular artist’s existence; essentially, I’m referring to the kind of people crazy enough to care whether a few musicians they’ve never met are inducted into a mythical society that serves no nonsymbolic purpose. Certainly, every major artist has a handful of fans who fit into this category. But some have way more. And if an artist’s career output fosters that kind of following on a mass scale for multiple generations, they’ve obviously done something right. They’ve created art that validates itself, and which doesn’t need to be validated by anyone else.... 
As a counterexample, take a band like Boston: The first Boston record has more good songs than any Kiss record, and Tom Scholz is more talented than all the members of Kiss combined. The eponymous 1976 Boston LP sold 17 million copies, which roughly equates with the aggregate sales for all Kiss studio records involving the original members. I’m a big fan of Boston, as is much of middle-aged America. There are more reasonable people who like the music of Boston than there are reasonable people who like the music of Kiss. But Boston are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and very few listeners care. Nobody feels betrayed or outraged. And this is because there aren’t enough humans who love Boston for nonmusical reasons. Such creatures exist, but they are few and far between.


  1. The Pathetic Earthling8:31 PM

    I think that's really a rather comforting analysis. As terrific a band as Blue Oyster Cult -- my favorite band, hands down -- really is, and more influential than most give them credit for. Even though many would say -- "More Cowbell" SNL bit aside -- that they're a good 1970s rock band with a handful of really seminal tracks, very few people care about them very much.

  2. The KISS Army took crap from peers when shouting their praises. This bonded them together like no others. However, Klosterman's metric certainly applies to other bands, such as New Kids On The Block, and Hanson. Are they Hall-worthy?

  3. Tosy and Cosh10:09 AM

    That's what I find interesting about his metric though - "the sheer number of people who really care about an artist, demonstrated over time." I'd argue neither Hanson or NKOTB qualify. But are there other artists who do where the "critical consensus" is even worse than it is for KISS? There has to be right?

  4. Adam B.10:32 AM

    Where is Jimmy Buffett in the critical consensus?

  5. Fred App10:51 AM

    I admit that despite this article's "relative" brevity, I lost interest after about three self-indulgent paragraphs so I did not read it closely, and maybe I missed something. But it seems that Klosterman is stating as fact that there are a sheer number of people who really care about Kiss, as demonstrated over time, and I just don't know that that's true, and I don't see compelling evidence that it is.

    There certainly are some people who care about Kiss (to an unnatural degree, perhaps), and Klosterman is clearly one of them. But it's a longstanding flaw of his writing that anything he believes has to be universally true, and I think this is an example of that kind of illogic.

  6. Nigel from Cameroon2:55 PM

    I agree strongly with your points regarding Klosterman. I will go further and suggest he has become an unbearable hipster.