by Julian Spivey
I had never heard the name Jonny Whiteside before today. And, then upon reading two pieces of his music criticism he instantaneously became the first music critic I’ve ever wanted to punch in the face.
Whiteside is apparently a veteran music journalist out of Burbank, Calif. who has authored books on Rose Maddox and Johnnie Ray and writes articles for L.A. Weekly. I can’t speak for his books, but based on the two listicles I read on L.A. Weekly today, one published this morning and the other in mid-2014, prove to me he has no business in the music criticism world. The fact that he’s a “veteran music journalist” just makes it all the more worse.
Today’s “The 10 Lamest Americana Acts” made quite the hubbub in the world of Americana music websites and fans, many of which I follow on Twitter. When I saw one of these sites retweet the listicle I considered skipping it altogether, but it included with it a photo of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, my absolute favorite Americana act, so already pissed off I decided to see how bad it would get. This was a major mistake.
The list included many of the Americana genre’s most regarded and critically-acclaimed artists like Lucinda Williams (who topped the list), Gillian Welch, Shovels & Rope and some more of my favorites: Jason Boland & the Stragglers and Robert Ellis.
The list was so bad that it had some thinking it was just an April Fool’s Day joke one day early, which I might have believed had I not done some research on Whiteside and saw another bullshit L.A. Weekly article from mid-July 2014 entitled “The 10 Biggest Classic Rock Douchebags.”
That list included legends like Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty and Jerry Garcia. In the listicle, Whiteside said all of these artists “seriously screwed up rock music.” Seriously? Without these artists, there might not be such a thing as rock music. Bob Dylan’s music has won a freaking Nobel Peace Prize. What has your writing accomplished, Jonny Whiteside? Who hates John Fogerty? That stick must be so far up Whiteside’s ass that his throat tickles.
The one thing all the writers ever run down by Jonny Whiteside have in common is they are all infinitely better writers than Jonny Whiteside. I wonder how much jealousy plays into who he includes on his lists?
Many more on social media were calling his listicle, which I refuse to tag here, “trolling” or “clickbait.” I can agree with these terms, but typically clickbait and trolling aren’t as thought out as Whiteside’s piece. More likely Whiteside is just a cranky old music curmudgeon who believes he and only he has his finger on the pulse of what is truly good in the world of music. Forget all the other music critics who love artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Jason Isbell. Forget all the fans that have made these artists the leaders of their respective genres. Forget the numerous awards they have won for their legendary output. Only Jonny Whiteside gets to dictate what’s cool and what’s lame or douchey. That’s the absolute worst kind of music critic. The one who feels he can only get his viewpoints out in the world if they’re so vastly different from everyone else’s as to piss the masses off to be noticed. It really makes you wonder if he even believes half of the tripe he’s writing. He can either only be making it up for the web clicks or he’s simply the utter worst in his field at recognizing terrific music.
In the last few minutes Whiteside changed his Twitter avatar to an image of the late, great Merle Haggard wearing a sweatshirt that says “I Heart Haters.” This would seem to be a good sign that he merely writes crap to intentionally piss people off, rather than to actually inform. Anyway, I’m sure L.A. Weekly lost themselves many more potential readers today than they have gained.