“Every ass wants to stand with the king’s horses…this may explain why there are critics” – Solomon Short
Every year, my family and I have a Christmas tradition, namely attending concerts in our area by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a group that does Christmas songs infused with elements of rock, metal, R&B, Broadway, jazz, and classical, all set to a stage show that is delightfully over the top with smoke, lights, lasers, elevating stages, fireworks, and other pyrotechnics. There are two different TSO touring groups, and even though it costs a bit of money, we make the effort to see both bands every year.
After this years’ shows, I went online to see what other people were saying about the tour, checking out reviews on viewpoints.com, where you can rate something from 1 star, (very bad) to 5 stars (excellent), and I noticed something, every review of a TSO show either ranked 5 or 1, meaning people either loved them or hated them. So I began poking through the 1 star reviews, just to see how people could see the same show I did and walk away with such a different opinion.
Now people are free to like or dislike what they choose, but it was amusing to read many of the reasons that they didn’t enjoy TSO. Comments like “it was too loud”, or “the guitarist’s hair was too long” or “the production was over the top”, or “big and bombastic”, or my personal favorite “every 80’s cliché’ thrown into the mix”……..all of which are tenets that TSO prides themselves on. Just listening to their music on CD should give you some idea of what the live performance is going to be like. Criticizing TSO for being loud or bombastic or over the top is kinda like criticizing a Cadillac for driving too much like a luxury car.
Not that I haven’t been on the receiving end of this sort of thing myself….I did music for over twenty years, and can still recall one review that blasted me with negative comments like “there was only one person onstage” (Hello? I was a solo artist, and billed as such), “doing original songs” (Memo to the reviewer, I was also a songwriter, and billed as such), and “sharing personal stories” (doesn’t pretty much every artist do this?). Hmmmm, maybe if I had blown something up, they would have liked it better….
I don’t want to be accused of making too much sense (heaven forbid), but it would seem to me that if you are going to offer criticism of something or someone, then offer it based on the merits of the subject being criticized. If Trans-Siberian Orchestra promoted their shows as an intimate, quiet evening of traditional Christmas music, then you would be well within your rights to criticize them if you showed up and got your face rocked off. Kinda like if I had billed myself as the biggest and greatest show you’ll ever see, I would deserve any tomatoes thrown at the stage or going out the door with daggers in my back at the end of the night.
At the risk of stating the incredibly obvious when the merely obvious will do fine, criticize people or events for what they are. I was a one man performance of original music and personal testimony of events in my life and how God had worked through them to bring me where I am today. The question becomes….did I do that well? Was I effective at it? Was I good? Did I have talent or should I have kept my day job?
Trans-Siberian Orchestra promises Christmas music with a twist, influences from virtually every musical style, a band without limits, with the biggest, most in your face light and sound production in this world or any other. Did they deliver? Did they do it well? That is the basis for your criticism, not whining about the fact that they added power chords to “O Holy Night”.
I’m not saying you can’t choose to dislike a band or a movie or whatever, but I am saying that we should do it for all the right reasons. I’ve read more than one review of horror movies that get trashed because they were (get ready) too scary, or comedies for being too silly, or dramas for being too dramatic (I’m not kidding). As if they are somehow supposed to be anything else. I’m left scratching my head and wondering what it takes to impress some people.
So memo to those writing the reviews out there……try putting some substance to your reviews and maybe more of us will start caring what you have to say.