Two phrases I’d like to abolish from the discussion of music.
1. Self-indulgent. Pretty much any creative endeavor is self-indulgent to some degree, isn’t it? The other option appears to be, “I made this music because I wanted to use my gift to touch others. My goal is just to inspire people.” Next thing you know, you’re on a televised talent competition and you’re singing “I Hope You Dance” and Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and “Jesus Take The Wheel” and you’re bathed in white light and reaching out to the camera all Christlike and a sizable portion of the nation is looking at you and thinking, “Jesus, this guy’s a tool.” You get some people thinking that if you go the other route, sure, but you probably have more fun along the way.
Often, from the words surrounding self-indulgent, I suspect that what the speaker/writer means is, “Yeah, I didn’t get this.” But there are times when an alternate phrase might be valuable. I believe that phrase may be: “Frankly, this artist has his head way up his ass.” Try it – see how it works. (I should note that the offending term has been misappropriated by TV’s own Simon Cowell as “indulgent,” which I take to mean the singer has allowed the performance to eat far too much candy and also bought it a puppy.)
2. Emperor’s New Clothes. When you take your turn in a music discussion and announce that, oh, say the new album by Of Montreal is “a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes,” if I recall my fables correctly, the opinion you’ve introduced is something like: “All of you who’ve been talking about how great this is? You are BLIND. That’s right – BLIND. I ALONE am able to see the truth!”
And really, is that polite?
(This applies to other art forms as well, but I didn’t want to have to use ninety slash marks in every sentence. I’m lazy like that.)