Robert Christgau

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"Christgau" redirects here. Robert Christgau_sentence_0

For other uses, see Christgau (disambiguation). Robert Christgau_sentence_1

Robert Christgau_table_infobox_0

Robert ChristgauRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_0_0
BornRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_1_0 Robert Thomas Christgau
(1942-04-18) April 18, 1942 (age 78)

New York City, U.S.Robert Christgau_cell_0_1_1

OccupationRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_2_0 Robert Christgau_cell_0_2_1
Alma materRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_3_0 Dartmouth CollegeRobert Christgau_cell_0_3_1
PeriodRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_4_0 1967–presentRobert Christgau_cell_0_4_1
SpouseRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_5_0 Carola Dibbell ​(m. 1974)​Robert Christgau_cell_0_5_1
ChildrenRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_6_0 1Robert Christgau_cell_0_6_1
WebsiteRobert Christgau_header_cell_0_7_0

Robert Thomas Christgau (/ˈkrɪstɡaʊ/; born April 18, 1942) is an American essayist and music journalist. Robert Christgau_sentence_2

One of the earliest professional rock critics, he spent 37 years as the chief music critic and senior editor for The Village Voice, during which time he created and oversaw the annual Pazz & Jop poll. Robert Christgau_sentence_3

He has also covered popular music for Esquire, Creem, Newsday, Playboy, Rolling Stone, Billboard, NPR, Blender, and MSN Music, and was a visiting arts teacher at New York University. Robert Christgau_sentence_4

Among the most revered and influential of music critics, he has been described by CNN senior writer Jamie Allen as "the E.F. Robert Christgau_sentence_5 Hutton of the music world – when he talks, people listen." Robert Christgau_sentence_6

Christgau is best known for his terse, letter-graded capsule album reviews, composed in a concentrated, fragmented prose style featuring layered clauses, caustic wit, one-liner jokes, political digressions, and allusions ranging from common knowledge to the esoteric. Robert Christgau_sentence_7

Originally published in his "Consumer Guide" columns during his tenure at The Village Voice from 1969 to 2006, the reviews were collected in book form across three decade-ending volumes – Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), and Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s (2000). Robert Christgau_sentence_8

Multiple collections of his essays have also been published in book form, and a website published in his name since 2001 has freely hosted most of his work. Robert Christgau_sentence_9

In 2006, the Voice dismissed Christgau after the paper's acquisition by New Times Media. Robert Christgau_sentence_10

He continued to write reviews in the "Consumer Guide" format for MSN Music, Cuepoint, and Noisey – Vice's music section – where they were published in his "Expert Witness" column until July 2019. Robert Christgau_sentence_11

In September that year, he launched a paid-subscription newsletter called And It Don't Stop, published on the email-newsletter platform Substack and featuring a monthly "Consumer Guide" column, among other writings. Robert Christgau_sentence_12

Early life Robert Christgau_section_0

Christgau was born in Greenwich Village and grew up in Queens, the son of a fireman. Robert Christgau_sentence_13

He has said he became a rock and roll fan when disc jockey Alan Freed moved to the city in 1954. Robert Christgau_sentence_14

After attending a public school in New York City, he left New York for four years to attend Dartmouth College, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in English. Robert Christgau_sentence_15

While at college his musical interests turned to jazz, but he quickly returned to rock after moving back to New York. Robert Christgau_sentence_16

Christgau has said that Miles Davis' 1960 album Sketches of Spain initiated in him "one phase of the disillusionment with jazz that resulted in my return to rock and roll". Robert Christgau_sentence_17

He was deeply influenced by New Journalism writers such as Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe. Robert Christgau_sentence_18

"My ambitions when I went into journalism were always, to an extent, literary", Christgau later said. Robert Christgau_sentence_19

Career Robert Christgau_section_1

Christgau initially wrote short stories, before giving up fiction in 1964 to become a sportswriter, and later, a police reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger. Robert Christgau_sentence_20

He became a freelance writer after a story he wrote about the death of a woman in New Jersey was published by New York magazine. Robert Christgau_sentence_21

Christgau was among the first dedicated rock critics. Robert Christgau_sentence_22

He was asked to take over the dormant music column at Esquire, which he began writing in June 1967. Robert Christgau_sentence_23

He also contributed to Cheetah magazine at that time. Robert Christgau_sentence_24

He subsequently became a leading voice in the formation of a musical–political aesthetic combining New Left politics and the counterculture. Robert Christgau_sentence_25

After Esquire discontinued the column, Christgau moved to The Village Voice in 1969, and he also worked as a college professor. Robert Christgau_sentence_26

From early on in his emergence as a critic, Christgau was conscious of his lack of formal knowledge of music. Robert Christgau_sentence_27

In a 1968 piece he commented: Robert Christgau_sentence_28

In early 1972, Christgau accepted a full-time job as music critic for Newsday. Robert Christgau_sentence_29

He returned to The Village Voice in 1974 as music editor. Robert Christgau_sentence_30

In a 1976 piece for the newspaper, he coined the term "Rock Critic Establishment" to describe the growth in influence of American music critics. Robert Christgau_sentence_31

His article carried the parenthesized subtitle "But Is That Bad for Rock?" Robert Christgau_sentence_32

He listed Dave Marsh, John Rockwell, Paul Nelson, Jon Landau and himself as members of this "Establishment". Robert Christgau_sentence_33

Christgau remained at The Village Voice until August 2006, when he was fired shortly after the paper's acquisition by New Times Media. Robert Christgau_sentence_34

Two months later, Christgau became a contributing editor at Rolling Stone (which first published his review of Moby Grape's Wow in 1968). Robert Christgau_sentence_35

Late in 2007, Christgau was fired by Rolling Stone, although he continued to work for the magazine for another three months. Robert Christgau_sentence_36

Starting with the March 2008 issue, he joined Blender, where he was listed as "senior critic" for three issues and then "contributing editor". Robert Christgau_sentence_37

Christgau had been a regular contributor to Blender before he joined Rolling Stone. Robert Christgau_sentence_38

He continued to write for Blender until the magazine ceased publication in March 2009. Robert Christgau_sentence_39

In 1987, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of "Folklore and Popular Culture" to study the history of popular music. Robert Christgau_sentence_40

Christgau has also written frequently for Playboy, Spin, and Creem. Robert Christgau_sentence_41

He appears in the 2011 rockumentary Color Me Obsessed, about the Replacements. Robert Christgau_sentence_42

He previously taught during the formative years of the California Institute of the Arts. Robert Christgau_sentence_43

As of 2007, he was also an adjunct professor in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University. Robert Christgau_sentence_44

In August 2013, Christgau revealed in an article written for Barnes & Noble's website that he is writing a memoir. Robert Christgau_sentence_45

On July 15, 2014, Christgau debuted a monthly column on Billboard's website. Robert Christgau_sentence_46

"Consumer Guide" and "Expert Witness" columns Robert Christgau_section_2

See also: Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies, Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s, and Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s Robert Christgau_sentence_47

Christgau is perhaps best known for his "Consumer Guide" columns, which have been published more-or-less monthly since July 10, 1969, in the Village Voice, as well as a brief period in Creem. Robert Christgau_sentence_48

In its original format, each edition of the "Consumer Guide" consisted of approximately 20 single-paragraph album reviews, each given a letter grade ranging from A+ to E−. Robert Christgau_sentence_49

These reviews were later collected, expanded, and extensively revised in a three-volume book series, the first of which was published in 1981 as Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies; it was followed by Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990) and Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s (2000). Robert Christgau_sentence_50

In his original grading system from 1969 to 1990, albums were given a grade ranging from A+ to E−. Robert Christgau_sentence_51

Under this system, Christgau generally considered a B+ or higher to be a personal recommendation. Robert Christgau_sentence_52

He noted that in practice, grades below a C− were rare. Robert Christgau_sentence_53

In 1990, Christgau changed the format of the "Consumer Guide" to focus more on the albums he liked. Robert Christgau_sentence_54

B+ records that Christgau deemed "unworthy of a full review" were mostly given brief comments and star marks ranging from three down to one, denoting an ", records which Christgau believed may be of interest to their own target audience. Robert Christgau_sentence_55

Lesser albums were filed under categories such as "Neither" (which may impress at first with "coherent craft or an arresting track or two", before failing to make an impression again) and "Duds" (which indicated bad records and were listed without further comment). Robert Christgau_sentence_56

Christgau did give full reviews and traditional grades to records he pans in an annual November "Turkey Shoot" column in The Village Voice, until he left the newspaper in 2006. Robert Christgau_sentence_57

In 2001, robertchristgau.com – an online archive of Christgau's "Consumer Guide" reviews and other writings from his career – was set up as a co-operative project between Christgau and longtime friend Tom Hull; the two had met in 1975 shortly after Hull queried Christgau as The Village Voice's regional editor for St. Louis. Robert Christgau_sentence_58

The website was created after the September 11, 2001 attacks when Hull was stuck in New York while visiting from his native Wichita. Robert Christgau_sentence_59

While Christgau spent many nights preparing past Village Voice writings for the website, by 2002 much of the older "Consumer Guide" columns had been inputted by Hull and a small coterie of fans. Robert Christgau_sentence_60

According to Christgau, Hull is "a computer genius as well as an excellent and very knowledgeable music critic, but he’d never done much web site work. Robert Christgau_sentence_61

The design of the web site, especially its high searchability and small interest in graphics, are his idea of what a useful music site should be". Robert Christgau_sentence_62

In December 2006, Christgau began writing his "Consumer Guide" columns for MSN Music, initially appearing every other month, before switching to a monthly schedule in June 2007. Robert Christgau_sentence_63

On July 1, 2010, he announced in the introduction to his "Consumer Guide" column that the July 2010 installment would be his last on MSN. Robert Christgau_sentence_64

However, on November 22, Christgau launched a blog on MSN, called "Expert Witness", which featured reviews only of albums that he had graded B+ or higher, since those albums "are the gut and backbone of my musical pleasure"; the writing of reviews for which are "so rewarding psychologically that I'm happy to do it at blogger's rates". Robert Christgau_sentence_65

He also began corresponding with dedicated readers of the column, named as "The Witnesses" after the column. Robert Christgau_sentence_66

On September 20, 2013, Christgau announced in the comments section that "Expert Witness" would cease to be published by October 1, 2013, writing, "As I understand it, Microsoft is shutting down the entire MSN freelance arts operation at that time ..." Robert Christgau_sentence_67

On September 10, 2014, Christgau debuted a new version of "Expert Witness" on Cuepoint, an online music magazine published on the blogging platform Medium. Robert Christgau_sentence_68

In August 2015, he was hired by Vice to write the column for the magazine's music section, Noisey. Robert Christgau_sentence_69

In July 2019, the final edition of "Expert Witness" was published. Robert Christgau_sentence_70

In September 2019, at the encouragement of friend and colleague Joe Levy, Christgau began publishing the newsletter "And It Don't Stop" on the newsletter-subscription platform Substack. Robert Christgau_sentence_71

Charging subscribers $5 per month, it has included his monthly "Consumer Guide" column, podcasts, and free weekly content like book reviews. Robert Christgau_sentence_72

Christgau was skeptical of the platform at first: "Basically I told Joe that if I didn’t have enough subscribers to pay what I made at Noisey by Christmas I was going to quit. Robert Christgau_sentence_73

I wasn’t going to do it for less than that money. Robert Christgau_sentence_74

I had that many subscribers inside of three days." Robert Christgau_sentence_75

By May 2020, "And It Don't Stop" had more than 1,000 subscribers. Robert Christgau_sentence_76

Christgau was ambivalent about the platform at first, but has since found it "immensely gratifying", explaining that, "A man my age, who is still really intellectually active? Robert Christgau_sentence_77

It is tremendously flattering and gratifying that there are people who are ready to help support me." Robert Christgau_sentence_78

Pazz & Jop Robert Christgau_section_3

Main article: Pazz & Jop Robert Christgau_sentence_79

Between 1968 and 1970, Christgau submitted ballots in Jazz & Pop magazine's annual critics' poll. Robert Christgau_sentence_80

He selected Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding (released late in 1967), The Who's Tommy (1969), and Randy Newman's 12 Songs (1970) as the best pop albums of their respective years, and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (1970) as the best jazz album of its year. Robert Christgau_sentence_81

Jazz & Pop discontinued publication in 1971. Robert Christgau_sentence_82

In 1971, Christgau inaugurated the annual Pazz & Jop music poll, named in tribute to Jazz & Pop. Robert Christgau_sentence_83

The poll surveyed music critics on their favorite releases of the year. Robert Christgau_sentence_84

The poll results were published in the Village Voice every February after compiling "top ten" lists submitted by music critics across the nation. Robert Christgau_sentence_85

Throughout Christgau's career at the Voice, every poll was accompanied by a lengthy Christgau essay analyzing the results and pondering the year's overall musical output. Robert Christgau_sentence_86

The Voice continued the feature after Christgau's dismissal. Robert Christgau_sentence_87

Although he no longer oversaw the poll, Christgau continued to vote and, since the 2015 poll, also contributed essays to the results. Robert Christgau_sentence_88

"Dean's Lists" Robert Christgau_section_4

Each year that Pazz & Jop has run, Christgau has created a personal list of his favorite releases called the "Dean's List". Robert Christgau_sentence_89

Only his top ten count toward his vote in the poll, but his full lists of favorites usually numbered far more than that. Robert Christgau_sentence_90

These lists – or at least Christgau's top tens – were typically published in The Village Voice along with the Pazz & Jop results. Robert Christgau_sentence_91

After Christgau was dismissed from the Voice, he continued publishing his annual lists on his own website and at The Barnes & Noble Review. Robert Christgau_sentence_92

While Pazz & Jop's aggregate critics' poll are its main draw, Christgau's Deans' Lists are noteworthy in their own right. Robert Christgau_sentence_93

Henry Hauser from Consequence of Sound said Christgau's "annual 'Pazz & Jop' poll has been a bona fide American institution. Robert Christgau_sentence_94

For music writers, his year-end essays and extensive 'Dean's List' are like watching the big ball drop in Times Square." Robert Christgau_sentence_95

The following are Christgau's choices for the number-one album of the year, including the point score he assigned for the poll. Robert Christgau_sentence_96

Pazz & Jop's rules provided that each item in a top ten could be allotted between 5 and 30 points, with all ten items totaling 100, allowing critics to weight certain albums more heavily if they chose to do so. Robert Christgau_sentence_97

In some years, Christgau often gave an equal number of points to his first- and second-ranked albums, but they were nevertheless ranked as first and second, not as a tie for first; this list collects only his number-one picks. Robert Christgau_sentence_98

Robert Christgau_table_general_1

YearRobert Christgau_header_cell_1_0_0 ArtistRobert Christgau_header_cell_1_0_1 AlbumRobert Christgau_header_cell_1_0_2 PointsRobert Christgau_header_cell_1_0_3 Ref.Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_0_4
1971Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_1_0 Joy of CookingRobert Christgau_cell_1_1_1 Joy of CookingRobert Christgau_cell_1_1_2 24Robert Christgau_cell_1_1_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_1_4
1974Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_2_0 Steely DanRobert Christgau_cell_1_2_1 Pretzel LogicRobert Christgau_cell_1_2_2 21Robert Christgau_cell_1_2_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_2_4
1975Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_3_0 Bob Dylan and the BandRobert Christgau_cell_1_3_1 The Basement TapesRobert Christgau_cell_1_3_2 24Robert Christgau_cell_1_3_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_3_4
1976Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_4_0 Michael Hurley, The Unholy Modal Rounders, Jeffrey Frederick & the ClamtonesRobert Christgau_cell_1_4_1 Have Moicy!Robert Christgau_cell_1_4_2 15Robert Christgau_cell_1_4_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_4_4
1977Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_5_0 TelevisionRobert Christgau_cell_1_5_1 Marquee MoonRobert Christgau_cell_1_5_2 13Robert Christgau_cell_1_5_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_5_4
1978Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_6_0 WireRobert Christgau_cell_1_6_1 Pink FlagRobert Christgau_cell_1_6_2 13Robert Christgau_cell_1_6_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_6_4
1979Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_7_0 The ClashRobert Christgau_cell_1_7_1 The ClashRobert Christgau_cell_1_7_2 18Robert Christgau_cell_1_7_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_7_4
1980Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_8_0 The ClashRobert Christgau_cell_1_8_1 London CallingRobert Christgau_cell_1_8_2 25Robert Christgau_cell_1_8_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_8_4
1981Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_9_0 Various artists (Sugar Hill Records)Robert Christgau_cell_1_9_1 Greatest Rap Hits Vol. 2 [label compilation]Robert Christgau_cell_1_9_2 19Robert Christgau_cell_1_9_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_9_4
1982Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_10_0 Ornette ColemanRobert Christgau_cell_1_10_1 Of Human FeelingsRobert Christgau_cell_1_10_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_10_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_10_4
1983Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_11_0 James Blood UlmerRobert Christgau_cell_1_11_1 OdysseyRobert Christgau_cell_1_11_2 18Robert Christgau_cell_1_11_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_11_4
1984Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_12_0 Bruce SpringsteenRobert Christgau_cell_1_12_1 Born in the U.S.A.Robert Christgau_cell_1_12_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_12_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_12_4
1985Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_13_0 The MekonsRobert Christgau_cell_1_13_1 Fear and WhiskeyRobert Christgau_cell_1_13_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_13_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_13_4
1986Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_14_0 Various artistsRobert Christgau_cell_1_14_1 The Indestructible Beat of SowetoRobert Christgau_cell_1_14_2 18Robert Christgau_cell_1_14_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_14_4
1987Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_15_0 Sonny RollinsRobert Christgau_cell_1_15_1 G-ManRobert Christgau_cell_1_15_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_15_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_15_4
1988Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_16_0 Franco and RochereauRobert Christgau_cell_1_16_1 Omona WapiRobert Christgau_cell_1_16_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_16_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_16_4
1989Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_17_0 PůlnocRobert Christgau_cell_1_17_1 Live at P.S. 122 [bootleg recording]Robert Christgau_cell_1_17_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_17_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_17_4
1990Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_18_0 LL Cool JRobert Christgau_cell_1_18_1 Mama Said Knock You OutRobert Christgau_cell_1_18_2 22Robert Christgau_cell_1_18_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_18_4
1991Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_19_0 Various artistsRobert Christgau_cell_1_19_1 Guitar Paradise of East AfricaRobert Christgau_cell_1_19_2 24Robert Christgau_cell_1_19_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_19_4
1992Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_20_0 Mzwakhe MbuliRobert Christgau_cell_1_20_1 Resistance Is DefenceRobert Christgau_cell_1_20_2 18Robert Christgau_cell_1_20_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_20_4
1993Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_21_0 Liz PhairRobert Christgau_cell_1_21_1 Exile in GuyvilleRobert Christgau_cell_1_21_2 13Robert Christgau_cell_1_21_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_21_4
1994Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_22_0 Latin PlayboysRobert Christgau_cell_1_22_1 Latin PlayboysRobert Christgau_cell_1_22_2 14Robert Christgau_cell_1_22_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_22_4
1995Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_23_0 TrickyRobert Christgau_cell_1_23_1 MaxinquayeRobert Christgau_cell_1_23_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_23_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_23_4
1996Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_24_0 DJ ShadowRobert Christgau_cell_1_24_1 Endtroducing.....Robert Christgau_cell_1_24_2 19Robert Christgau_cell_1_24_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_24_4
1997Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_25_0 Arto LindsayRobert Christgau_cell_1_25_1 Mundo CivilizadoRobert Christgau_cell_1_25_2 15Robert Christgau_cell_1_25_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_25_4
1998Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_26_0 Lucinda WilliamsRobert Christgau_cell_1_26_1 Car Wheels on a Gravel RoadRobert Christgau_cell_1_26_2 23Robert Christgau_cell_1_26_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_26_4
1999Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_27_0 The Magnetic FieldsRobert Christgau_cell_1_27_1 69 Love SongsRobert Christgau_cell_1_27_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_27_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_27_4
2000Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_28_0 EminemRobert Christgau_cell_1_28_1 The Marshall Mathers LPRobert Christgau_cell_1_28_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_28_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_28_4
2001Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_29_0 Bob DylanRobert Christgau_cell_1_29_1 "Love and Theft"Robert Christgau_cell_1_29_2 20Robert Christgau_cell_1_29_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_29_4
2002Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_30_0 The MekonsRobert Christgau_cell_1_30_1 OOOH!Robert Christgau_cell_1_30_2 14Robert Christgau_cell_1_30_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_30_4
2003Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_31_0 King Sunny AdéRobert Christgau_cell_1_31_1 The Best of the Classic YearsRobert Christgau_cell_1_31_2 20Robert Christgau_cell_1_31_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_31_4
2004Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_32_0 Brian WilsonRobert Christgau_cell_1_32_1 Brian Wilson Presents SmileRobert Christgau_cell_1_32_2 22Robert Christgau_cell_1_32_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_32_4
2005Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_33_0 Kanye WestRobert Christgau_cell_1_33_1 Late RegistrationRobert Christgau_cell_1_33_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_33_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_33_4
2006Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_34_0 New York DollsRobert Christgau_cell_1_34_1 One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even ThisRobert Christgau_cell_1_34_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_34_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_34_4
2007Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_35_0 M.I.A.Robert Christgau_cell_1_35_1 KalaRobert Christgau_cell_1_35_2 N/ARobert Christgau_cell_1_35_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_35_4
2008Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_36_0 FrancoRobert Christgau_cell_1_36_1 FrancophonicRobert Christgau_cell_1_36_2 18Robert Christgau_cell_1_36_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_36_4
2009Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_37_0 Brad PaisleyRobert Christgau_cell_1_37_1 American Saturday NightRobert Christgau_cell_1_37_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_37_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_37_4
2010Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_38_0 The RootsRobert Christgau_cell_1_38_1 How I Got OverRobert Christgau_cell_1_38_2 16Robert Christgau_cell_1_38_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_38_4
2011Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_39_0 Das RacistRobert Christgau_cell_1_39_1 RelaxRobert Christgau_cell_1_39_2 12Robert Christgau_cell_1_39_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_39_4
2012Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_40_0 Neil Young and Crazy HorseRobert Christgau_cell_1_40_1 AmericanaRobert Christgau_cell_1_40_2 15Robert Christgau_cell_1_40_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_40_4
2013Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_41_0 Vampire WeekendRobert Christgau_cell_1_41_1 Modern Vampires of the CityRobert Christgau_cell_1_41_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_41_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_41_4
2014Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_42_0 WussyRobert Christgau_cell_1_42_1 Attica!Robert Christgau_cell_1_42_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_42_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_42_4
2015Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_43_0 Laurie AndersonRobert Christgau_cell_1_43_1 Heart of a DogRobert Christgau_cell_1_43_2 25Robert Christgau_cell_1_43_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_43_4
2016Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_44_0 A Tribe Called QuestRobert Christgau_cell_1_44_1 We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your ServiceRobert Christgau_cell_1_44_2 19Robert Christgau_cell_1_44_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_44_4
2017Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_45_0 Randy NewmanRobert Christgau_cell_1_45_1 Dark MatterRobert Christgau_cell_1_45_2 25Robert Christgau_cell_1_45_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_45_4
2018Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_46_0 NonameRobert Christgau_cell_1_46_1 Room 25Robert Christgau_cell_1_46_2 17Robert Christgau_cell_1_46_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_46_4
2019Robert Christgau_header_cell_1_47_0 Billie EilishRobert Christgau_cell_1_47_1 When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?Robert Christgau_cell_1_47_2 N/ARobert Christgau_cell_1_47_3 Robert Christgau_cell_1_47_4

Style and impact Robert Christgau_section_5

"Christgau's blurbs", writes Slate music critic Jody Rosen, "are like no one else's – dense with ideas and allusions, first-person confessions and invective, highbrow references and slang". Robert Christgau_sentence_99

Rosen describes Christgau's writing as "often maddening, always thought-provoking ... With Pauline Kael, Christgau is arguably one of the two most important American mass-culture critics of the second half of the 20th century. Robert Christgau_sentence_100

... All rock critics working today, at least the ones who want to do more than rewrite PR copy, are in some sense Christgauians." Robert Christgau_sentence_101

Spin magazine wrote in 2015, "You probably wouldn't be reading this publication if Robert Christgau didn’t largely invent rock criticism as we know it." Robert Christgau_sentence_102

Douglas Wolk said the earliest "Consumer Guide" columns were generally brief and detailed, but "within a few years ... he developed his particular gift for 'power, wit and economy', a phrase he used to describe the Ramones in a dead-on 37-word review of Leave Home". Robert Christgau_sentence_103

In his opinion, the "Consumer Guide" reviews were "an enormous pleasure to read slowly, as writing, even if you have no particular interest in pop music. Robert Christgau_sentence_104

And if you do happen to have more than a little interest in pop music, they're a treasure." Robert Christgau_sentence_105

Writing in a two-part feature on music critics for Rolling Stone in 1976, Dave Marsh bemoaned that such was the elevation of rock journalism, "Many critics ... superimpos[e] their own, frequently arbitrary, standards upon performers." Robert Christgau_sentence_106

He cited Christgau as a "classic, sad example" of this phenomenon and added: Robert Christgau_sentence_107

Fans of Christgau's "Consumer Guide" like to share lines from their favorite reviews, Wolk writes, citing "Sting wears his sexual resentment on his chord changes like a closet 'American Woman' fan" (from Christgau's review of the 1983 Police album Synchronicity); "Calling Neil Tennant a bored wimp is like accusing Jackson Pollock of making a mess" (reviewing the 1987 Pet Shop Boys album Actually); and "Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home" (in a review of Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind). Robert Christgau_sentence_108

In 1978, Lou Reed recorded a tirade against Christgau and his column on the 1978 live album, Take No Prisoners: "Critics. Robert Christgau_sentence_109

What does Robert Christgau do in bed? Robert Christgau_sentence_110

I mean, is he a toe fucker? Robert Christgau_sentence_111

Man, anal retentive, A Consumer's Guide to Rock, what a moron: 'A Study' by, y'know, Robert Christgau. Robert Christgau_sentence_112

Nice little boxes: B-PLUS. Robert Christgau_sentence_113

Can you imagine working for a fucking year, and you get a B+ from some asshole in The Village Voice?" Robert Christgau_sentence_114

Christgau rated the album C+ and wrote in his review, "I thank Lou for pronouncing my name right." Robert Christgau_sentence_115

In December 1980, Christgau provoked angry responses from Voice readers when his column approvingly quoted his wife Carola Dibbell's reaction to the murder of John Lennon: "Why is it always Bobby Kennedy or John Lennon? Robert Christgau_sentence_116

Why isn't it Richard Nixon or Paul McCartney?" Robert Christgau_sentence_117

Similar criticism came from Sonic Youth in their song "Kill Yr Idols". Robert Christgau_sentence_118

Christgau responded by saying "Idolization is for rock stars, even rock stars manqué like these impotent bohos – critics just want a little respect. Robert Christgau_sentence_119

So if it's not too hypersensitive of me, I wasn't flattered to hear my name pronounced right, not on this particular title track." Robert Christgau_sentence_120

Tastes and prejudices Robert Christgau_section_6

Christgau has named Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the New York Dolls as his top five artists of all time. Robert Christgau_sentence_121

In a 1998 obituary, he called Frank Sinatra "the greatest singer of the 20th century". Robert Christgau_sentence_122

He considers Billie Holiday "probably [his] favorite singer". Robert Christgau_sentence_123

In his 2000 Consumer Guide book, Christgau said his favorite rock album was either The Clash (1977) or New York Dolls (1973), while his favorite record in general was Monk's 1958 Misterioso. Robert Christgau_sentence_124

In July 2013, during an interview with Esquire magazine's Peter Gerstenzang, Christgau criticized the voters at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saying "they're pretty stupid" for not voting in the New York Dolls. Robert Christgau_sentence_125

When asked about Beatles albums, he said he most often listens to The Beatles' Second Album – which he purchased in 1965 – and Sgt. Robert Christgau_sentence_126 Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Robert Christgau_sentence_127

Wolk wrote: "When he says he’s 'encyclopedic' about popular music, he means it. Robert Christgau_sentence_128

There are not a lot of white guys in their 60s waving the flag for Lil Wayne's Da Drought 3, especially not in the same column as they wave the flag for a Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard/Ray Price trio album, an anthology of new Chinese pop, Vampire Weekend, and Wussy ..." Christgau reflected in 2004: "Rock criticism was certainly more fun in the old days, no matter how cool the tyros opining for chump change in netzines like PopMatters and Pitchfork think it is now." Robert Christgau_sentence_129

Christgau readily admits to having prejudices and generally disliking genres such as heavy metal, salsa, dance, art rock, progressive rock, bluegrass, gospel, Irish folk, jazz fusion, and classical music. Robert Christgau_sentence_130

"I admire metal's integrity, brutality, and obsessiveness", Christgau wrote in 1986, "but I can't stand its delusions of grandeur, the way it apes and misapprehends reactionary notions of nobility". Robert Christgau_sentence_131

Christgau said in 2018 that he rarely writes about jazz as it is "hard" to write about in an "impressionistic way", that he is "not at all well-schooled in the jazz albums of the '50s and '60s", and that he has neither the "language nor the frame of reference to write readily about them"; even while critiquing jazz artists like Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins, he said "finding the words involves either considerable effort or a stroke of luck". Robert Christgau_sentence_132

Christgau has also admitted to disliking the records of Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, noting that the latter's classical background, "default gravity and depressive tendencies are qualities I'm seldom attracted to in any kind of art." Robert Christgau_sentence_133

"Dean of American rock critics" Robert Christgau_section_7

Christgau has been widely known as the "Dean of American rock critics", a designation he originally gave to himself while slightly drunk at a press event for the 5th Dimension in the early 1970s. Robert Christgau_sentence_134

According to Rosen, "Christgau was in his late 20s at the time – not exactly an éminence grise – so maybe it was the booze talking, or maybe he was just a very arrogant young man. Robert Christgau_sentence_135

In any case, as the years passed, the quip became a fact." Robert Christgau_sentence_136

When asked about it years later, Christgau said the title "seemed to push people's buttons, so I stuck with it. Robert Christgau_sentence_137

There's obviously no official hierarchy within rock criticism – only real academies can do that. Robert Christgau_sentence_138

But if you mean to ask whether I think some rock critics are better than others, you're damn straight I do. Robert Christgau_sentence_139

Don't you?" Robert Christgau_sentence_140

"For a long time he’s been called the 'dean of American rock critics'", wrote New York Times literary critic Dwight Garner in 2015. Robert Christgau_sentence_141

"It's a line that started out as an offhanded joke. Robert Christgau_sentence_142

These days, few dispute it." Robert Christgau_sentence_143

Personal life Robert Christgau_section_8

Christgau married fellow critic and writer Carola Dibbell in 1974; they have an adopted daughter, Nina, born in Honduras in 1986. Robert Christgau_sentence_144

He has said he was raised in a "born-again Church" in Queens, but has since become an atheist. Robert Christgau_sentence_145

Christgau has been long, albeit argumentative, friends with critics such as Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, and the late Ellen Willis, whom he dated from 1966 to 1969. Robert Christgau_sentence_146

He has also mentored younger critics such as Ann Powers and Chuck Eddy. Robert Christgau_sentence_147


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert Christgau.