Seminal Syntax

Before our year-end best-of lists, we confess our worst-of writing crimes

Let us now discuss the labyrinthine, in-your-face, introspective, esoteric, head-bobbing, fist-pumping, booty-shaking, genre-defying mélange of the Rock Critic Cliché milieu.

Like any other, this profession suffers from ridiculous, impenetrable jargon. I am certainly not immune to this disease, but perhaps I can diagnose specific viruses and prescribe medicine for lousy metaphors. (Gotta knock it off with the lousy metaphors too.)

As we behold 2005's shimmering, hypnotic, melodic close, I pledge to you: Every bolded word in this article, I will never use again after this week.

Angular:Frequently describes guitars that sound, well, pointy. Sharp, unpleasant, as opposed to "circular."

Coruscating:Really, really angular.

Listenable:"I didn't like it."

Unlistenable:"I didn't listen to it."

Seminal:"I sold it back for $5 without listening to it, but then everyone else wrote about it, so I had to buy it back for $12 and pretend I liked it."

Minimalist:Describes any song that does not employ a full string orchestra. "Hall & Oates' 'I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)' is a seminal, coruscating slab of minimalist pop."

Slab:Indeed.

Danceable:"I couldn't dance competently if my pants were on fire."

Radio-ready:"This is the only song I remember."

Anthemic:Really, really radio-ready.

Drops (e.g., "Tone Loc's new album drops January 25"): Knock it off, whitey.

Wheels of steel (as opposed to "turntables"): White, white, white.

Lush:Boring.

Soundscapes:Pretentious.

Swirling:Conjures lush soundscapes of boring pretentiousness.

Cinematic:What--like Meatballs?

Eclectic:"From polka to bluegrass to bailefunk to death metal! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!"

Wanton Hyphen Overuse:An ordinarily calm friend of mine flies into a rage whenever this technique is employed. He refers to it as "I-can't-think-of-what-to-write-so-it's-time-to-say-'fuck-it'-and-hyphenate-a-mess-of-words-that-might-come-close-to-an-accurate-description-of-something-that-I-might-be-able-to-work-out-myself-if-I-read-real-books-instead-of-Spin-while-I-go-poo-poo." He'll be fine, honest.

Wanton:Not yet. I still really like wanton.

____ Yet ____:Increasingly common. Angry Hyphen Guy particularly chafes at the "Retro Yet Futuristic" tag: "What--like Barbarella?"

Wanton Capitalization Overuse:Such as, oh, say, Angry Hyphen Guy. I still love this one too. Let's save it for '06.

 
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