Darktremor's bone to pick with "Scaruffi-ism"
Piero Scaruffi is (as anyone who's been here more than a day has noticed) regarded very highly by many listologists. Lists are made about him, all of his favorite albums rate very highly across listology lists, and some even directly copy his opinions and base their entire musical listening around what he has to say. It often goes almost to the point of worship. This is ridiculous.
Now, I'm not saying he isn't a great critic. He brings an excellent perspective to music, and provides a fresh look at many (often great) albums that are all but forgotten by other critics. He looks at music in a very different way, and his lists are not carbon-copies of every other critic (for example, there is not a single Beatles album on any of his top album lists - almost unheard of in rock criticism). As a critic, I agree, he's one of the best.
Here's my bone to pick: he's one person! His lists are not canon, they are not absolute authority. They are opinons, his taste in music. While he may label them things like "the best music of all times," that doesn't make it so. It's really his "favorite music of all times." Now, whether he actualy gave his lists those titles in arrogance (something most critics, myself included at times, are guilty of), or out of something lost in translation from Italian to English is irrelevant. It's the fact that so many here actually regard his lists as the best of all times.
I've seen discussions in which listologists are told to listen to an album 10, 20, even 30 more times until they "get it." If they don't like an album that Scaruffi does, it isn't simply a clash in taste; a difference in subjective opinion, it's that the listologist isn't trying hard enough to like what is "clearly" one of "the best albums of all times." Sadder still, is that some will listen to a Scaruffi album literally dozens of times, feeling there's something wrong with them for not rating the album exactly as Scaruffi does. Even I felt this way at some points, before I realized the absurdity of the situation. It's personal taste, not canon!
Thing is, listening to ANYTHING 50 times can eventually make you like it. You eventually associate what you've heard with the positive, relaxing act of listening to music, until hearing the music alone is enough to make you enjoy it. If this happens, you didn't "get" the album, you simply learned to make a classically conditioned association. Rats can do that. This doesn't make you super-intelligent, it makes you a biological creature. In general, if one doesn't "get" an album after about 5 listens (in one time in their life, that's not to say that going back years later won't yield different results), they're probably not going to actually "get" it.
As for Scaruffi's taste, it certainly isn't perfect. Even Scaruffi admits that: his lists and rating do occasionally change. But barring that, his view of music is only one possible way to look at it. Scaruffi values originality above all else in music; I'd even go so far as to say that it's all he values. While I agree that this is a noble aim for an artist, I don't it's the full story when it comes to music. Looking at only this will make for quite a noisy and difficult list of albums and songs: which is exactly what one finds in Scaruffi's lists.
I do believe that an aesthetically pleasing aspect to music is always necessary. I personally think that the best music can be heard when one marries originality with a certain listenability, something that Scaruffi (mostly) despises, unless the listenability is an aspect of the originality (or simply present along with the originality). For example, while both artists explore some of the same ideas at times, I believe that The Orb were greater musicians than Stockhausen. Stockhausen was certainly a greater artist, but The Orb were the better musicians. There's a distinction between the two that Scaruffi often fails to grasp. Originality should not simply be there for originality's sake: it should be there to act as another medium for the musician's expression. If an artist takes a previously inaccessible musical idea and makes it palatable, I think that is a greater musician than the innovator himself.
Scaruffi's lists are so lost in the "meaning" of music, that you can't help but think that he never sits down and simply enjoys it. He's like a visual art critic who is so busy talking about the social commentary of a painting that he misses out on the fact that's it's also quite beautiful, and can't enjoy a painting that is beautiful for beauty's sake.
I know some are inevitably going to tell me that I'm simply not willing to put the effort in, but I think to say that is to miss the point of music, to forget why we all listened to it in the first place: it's there to be enjoyed!
The above is simply my opinion on music, and many will disagree, but that's exactly the point. One SHOULD disagree with other critics and understand that it's just one way of viewing music. With Scaruffi, this often doesn't happen. Many seem to feel that they have to force themselves to love exactly what he does, objectively taking opinions that are really just subjective.
We shouldn't let ourselves forget: music is NOTHING but subjective! Scaruffi just offers one view, not absolute truth.