The Music Critics Dictionary

Translating critic-speak

Ever read a CD review and think, "What the hell does that mean?" We do. Sometimes readers need a cheat sheet to decipher the terms critics use, so we thought we'd start a Critics Dictionary. Here goes:

Artist: n 1. A term meaning a creative person, as in "The artist formerly known as Prince." 2. A term meaning a person who believes s/he is but isn't, as in "Fergie."

Blistering: adjA term used to describe guitar playing, as in "a blistering guitar solo." Once used to describe quick fingerwork, now used to describe any fingerwork.

Collaboration: n A term used to describe an unwilling pair or group of performers who are bound by the terms of their contract (or by intimidation tactics) to work together to create a product.

Death metal: nVery loud, very brash rock music that makes the listener want to die.

EerieadjMusic that sounds best on a sci-fi movie sound track.

Featured artist: nCommon on rap music albums, most often a more talented artist who performs a small role hoping to distract the listener from the significantly less talented main artist.

Gold record n Any record (single or compilation/multitrack CD) that sells more copies than can be held in the average car trunk.

Headliner:nAny artist that is from out of town.

Introspective adjA term used to describe a self-absorbed artist. Also used to describe work that is best listened to while gazing at one's own belly button.

Jazz nAn extinct form of music marked by improvisation, thought to have been abandoned because artists were unwilling to think, play or explain why they were unwilling to think or play.

Killin': n A purposeful misspelling of the word "killing," meant to convey a sense of hipness on the part of the speaker, as in "Yo, yur CD b killin'."

Lush: adjUsed to describe overproduced but tasteful pop music, as in, "Celine Dion's Las Vegas show is extremely lush." Not to be confused with the noun meant to describe an alcoholic, as in, "Celine Dion's husband is a lush."

Multi-platinum record:nAny record (single or compilation/multitrack CD) that sells more copies than can be held in the average back bedroom.

New wave:nAny variation of a musical genre that is less than 70 years old.

Opening act: nAn artist or group of considerably less talent than the headliner.

Producer: n 1. The person who supplies the money for a recording project/show. 2. The person who oversees a recording project/show. 3. The person who is married to the star.

Quasi- prefMeaning to a lesser degree, as in "a quasi-hit."

UniqueadjAnything that has not been repeated during the last 30 minutes.

Record:nA term used to describe a multitrack CD, EP or LP, a single, or ring tone.

Sophomore jinx: n What happens to artists who spend half their life writing their first CD and three weeks writing their second.

Twangbanger: n A term favored by frequent Houston Press contributor William Michael Smith, meaning a country music guitar player who plays so hard that s/he breaks a few guitar strings every show.

Undulation:nA regular rising and falling movement, often performed by female dancers in rap videos.

Video:nMini-movies costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wild:adjWhat girls have gone.

Xtreme: adjA common misspelling of the word "extreme," favored by rappers, rocks stars and Jessica Simpson.

Yikes:interj An exclamation of surprise, as in "Yikes, is that another new Tupac CD?"

Zealous: adjFilled with or motivated by zeal or enthusiasm, as in "That was a zealous performance by Hannah Montana."

 
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