Friday, March 19, 2010

review rant

My question of the day is the following? Why are there some reviewers who seem to HATE singers so much? It's like they are personally offended by what they deem our shortcomings, and are really mad at us for them. I read one review recently where the reviewer seemed SO PISSED that he couldn't hear the singer. As if it were the singer's fault. I mean, dude - we're singing as loud as we can! We aren't purposefully whispering just so you won't be able to hear us!! I'm not saying that reviewers shouldn't criticize what people are doing, but there are some that do it gracefully and fairly. I happen to think Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times is a good example of someone who is a very fair reviewer, and who I think genuinely seems to like singers. I never get outraged on any singer's behalf when I read his reviews, even if he didn't particularly like something. There was one reviewer who left the New York Times who used words liberally like "shriek" and "screech". I mean, come on - that's a little dramatic, don't you think?

I used to literally have panic attacks before I would open up a newspaper and look at a review about myself. That is totally ridiculous - it's one person's opinion, and I shouldn't care so much. But I felt this very visceral fear about the unknown of what might and could be said about me, regardless of how I felt I had sung in the performance. And the funny thing is, I've gotten very few horrible reviews, but somehow I developed this fear- like waiting for the other shoe to drop. And the more successful you become, the more likely it is that there will be reviews that completely rip you to pieces. I've always wondered if people like Renee Fleming are bothered by bad reviews or not, since they have so little impact at this point on her stellar career. And now with all the blogs that exist, there are more people telling the world their opinion of you than ever before.

I had a boyfriend once who refused to read any reviews about himself at all, period. We were actually in a show together once, and happened to be on an airplane flying across the country when we saw that someone had a paper with a review of our show. I read the part about myself out loud to him (and it was one of the few really terrible reviews I've gotten) but he didn't want to know what it said about him. I thought that showed remarkable self control - I don't think I would have been able not to look. But poor him - because the review of me was so bad, I spent the last three hours of the flight crying on his shoulder. As far as I know he never looked at the rest of it to see what it said about him (the reviewer pretty much crucified everybody, so it was probably for the best) and as far as I know, he still doesn't look at reviews. My mom always says. "what you think about me is none of my business" and if you take that advice regarding reviews, I bet you'd be a much happier person. Unfortunately, I'm overly curious and can't seem to do that. Maybe some day my self control will improve and I'll lead a calmer existence. But until then, I'll just have to stick to; "What you think of me is none of my business. But quick, tell me anyway."


Anonymous said...

screechin' good rant.

Anonymous said...

Love your mom's adage! Reviews honestly end up being somewhat arbitrary, though of course if there are enough of them on one performance you can ascertain some consensus, usually. But more often than not, they can either seem overly-generous - as in giving certain singers a free pass - or overly critical. I find often that my own opinions and perceptions of a particular performance are at complete odds with what I am reading, so I just shake my head, shrug my shoulders and move on. Certainly singers shouldn't get too worked up about critics' opinions. They're just opinions after all, and as you probably know unless they can stand up there in your shoes they don't have a real clue about what you're dealing with, anyway. (Not saying they aren't knowledgeable, they just lack that extra understanding that you, in fact, possess.) And this goes for great reviews, too. Buying into your own hype is a very risky business. We've seen it time and again.