The Upside of 'Generic' Music'

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When a pop music critic wants to dismiss a record or song, often times he or she will label it "generic." The accusation implies that the work is uncreative, boring or bland. It also suggests that the musician explicitly avoided breaking artistic boundaries in order to cater to a mass audience. But is there really anything wrong with that?  Pitchfork Media's Tom Ewing doesn't think so. In a lengthy musing on the concept of generic music, Ewing says it's often good when musicians hew closely to the expected norms of a particular genre:

I got this feeling listening to the new Kylie Minogue album, Aphrodite: Not one track stood out, but I never stopped enjoying the record. As an experience it felt rather like good customer service: seamless, efficient, friendly, and inobtrusive. I don't want a Kylie album to break any boundaries, any more than I want a hotel concierge to break them: It would be nice if either exceeded my expectations by doing what they're meant to do better, but that's all.

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