Defend Your Ballot: Steven Hyden, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor

Categories: Pazz & Jop

Andrew Youssef
Rush. Steven Hyden asks, "Have you heard this Rush record?"
You can't really know where you're headed unless you know where you've been. For that reason, we're taking a look back at Pazz & Jop 2012 to drill down into the ballots of contributors and voters who participated. Maybe amongst the rubble we'll find clues about what lies ahead for music lovers in 2013. Here, music writer Steven Hyden defends his ballot.

See Also:
- Pazz and Jop 2012 Table of Contents

Okay! So. Steven Hyden. WHO ARE YOU and why should we trust you?

I'm a staff writer for Grantland and a contributing writer at Pitchfork. I used to be the music editor at the A.V. Club. Are you asking why people should trust me in general, or just when it comes to musical opinions?

Maybe a little of both.

I'm loyal and true, like a basset hound. Also, I've never misquoted myself in a review.

I'll take that. How many times have you voted in P&J?
This was my second time voting.

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We're thankful for your participation. Let's talk about your ballot. A couple things immediately jump out to me: The first is no Kendrick. And the second is... Rush?

I liked the Kendrick album! Obviously not as much as a lot of other people. And obviously not as much as the Rush record. Have you heard this Rush record?

To be honest, no. But it's still surprising to see on a ballot! I'll listen to it right now, as we do this interview, and as you tell me why Rush rules. Because people really love to hate that band.

One of my favorite musical subgenres is melodic hard rock, which when you think about it is probably the most popular rock subgenre in rock history. Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and, yes, Rush are all melodic hard rock bands. Generally, this branch of the hard rock/metal tree doesn't get a ton of dap in critical circles. As far as indie rock goes, it's all either black metal or quasi-ironic Iron Maiden rip-offs. But 2012 was actually a really good year for catchy, metallic rock records. I loved the Torche and Baroness records that lots of other rock dudes loved. And I loved Rush. The Rush record absolutely belongs with the cream of this year's best hard rock/metal albums. It's epic, muscular, just awesome, awesome stuff. Rush is one of those bands that critics just have to get over not liking. Because history shows us that critics were wrong about this band.

That's fair. How often do you think that type of "one opinion critic thinking" happens?

It happens all the time, especially with older artists. There's a phony narrative about who's relevant and who's not that too many critics lazily follow. Look, I love Scott Walker. I definitely think that whatever he does is worth writing about. But why does he get reviewed by hip music publications and not Rush? Rush is at least as influential on contemporary bands as Scott Walker. And Rush is still making really great records and playing for arena's full of people. I get that lots of people might not like that Rush record. But it wasn't even reviewed by many places that wrote about the new Scott Walker the week it came out.

I guess my point is that scores of artists are ignored by critics because somebody decided that they don't matter for totally arbitrary reasons.

See Also:
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Top Albums
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Top Singles
- Pazz and Jop 2012: Critics' Ballots
- Pazz and Jop 2012 Table of Contents

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