Faith Hill
Fireflies

Warner Bros. Nashville
2005
C
Reviewed by: Thomas Inskeep
Reviewed on: 2005-08-29



Posted 08/29/2005 - 01:16:20 PM by ckramer:
 in the past few weeks there have been a brad paisley, dukes of hazzard ost, and now a faith hill reviews, do you really think these are records the people who read stylus are interested in. correct me if i'm wrong (and no, i'm not being snobbish) but there are alot more interesting records that deserve attention than oversold and overexposed country top 40 which deserve reviews in well read internet sites. so i guess my question is, why review a faith hill cd? what is the goal of stylus?
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 01:21:06 PM by ckramer:
 sorry my last sentences are screwy. i mean to say faith hill gets enough press, whereas stylus could better serve the music listeners by reviewing other things.
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 02:04:58 PM by mikepowell:
 I'm not Thomas Inskeep, but I can say as a Stylus writer (and reader), I appreciate the breadth of coverage on the site. In short answer to your question, Stylus supports what its writers are interested without bias, i.e. if Thomas (or Anthony Easton) want to write about contemporary country, they're allowed and often encouraged, as contemporary country is probably the most reflexively shunned sound by people who are professedly *into music* (i.e. the "I listen to everything but country" response). I think running country reviews on Stylus is a perfect counterattack to the "oversold and overexposed country top 40" in the sense that readers of the site would be quick to immediately dismiss that kind of music, while Stylus makes an effort to validate it and support it if it's up to a certain level of quality. I've found the country reviews useful, frankly, because I trust the site and the writers, and have come to listen to & appreciate more contemporary country as a result of its support here (rather than the obvious support it gets from major media, CMT, whatever contributes to its overexposure, to use your word). Hope this clarifies some...
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 02:06:35 PM by mikepowell:
 (I realize there are some grammatical fireworks there, but hopefully it made enough sense)
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 02:43:32 PM by mvdu76:
 I don't respond here much anymore, because I don't trust any music reviewers, and Stylus seems to have more reviews than the average that I disagree with. This album is not a masterpiece, but I see the album almost completely differently. My grade: B+
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 02:54:04 PM by Snuffleupagus:
 Give me a fucking break. No one said 'country is shit.' I'm behind those who curtly dismiss the Shania's, Faith's and Brooks' because artists like them, while country, are generic and full of every cliché I hate about the music. Us readers are more open minded than you may think and reviewing alt-country albums by artists such as Sun Kil Moon, Magnolia Electric Co or even The Society of Rockets is fair enough coverage of the genre without dipping into the lackluster commercial fair. Please don't try to credit this type of Top 40 fodder in hopes of widening our musical palette. That we do not need for you to do for us. Cause man, Kelly Osborne (and yes, Faith Hill) do not belong there. IN SHORT: Please don't bother reviewing bourgeoisie trash. Lotsa love to the Stylus writers (seriously).
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 03:00:33 PM by IanMathers:
 Who gets to decide what counts as "bourgeoisie trash", though? Because opinions on that differ much more widely than you might think. Even if we wanted to avoid reviewing that sort of music (which I'm not sure we are), implementing it would be incredibly problematic.
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 03:21:59 PM by mikepowell:
 Snuffle, I think you kinda missed the point. Did you look at the grade on this review? I mean, I understand what you're saying, but I don't think that Stylus has ever been exclusively indie or mainstream, so Sun Kil Moon is just as fair game as Faith Hill. Seriously though, the knee-jerk indie bias and use of "cliché" and "bourgeoisie trash" is kind of specious and closed-minded, don't you think?
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 03:51:42 PM by Snuffleupagus:
 This Warner Bros. country artist and Kelly Osborne along with The Dukes of Hazzard soundtrack are examples of bourgeoisie trash. Ian, I like you. You write interesting things. But I hope you don't seriously believe that the traditional Stylus reader actually cares about this type of music. They are big names making big money. They've got their cultural industry and it is a far greater and profitable one than ours. As for ignoring this music en masse and it becoming "incredibly problematic" for this website, I'd like to see if even one person sends an email to anyone at Stylus for not reviewing the new Carrie Underwood release. It is this type of bourgeois, money grubbing, consumerist trash that should be excluded from fine, reputable indie zines. This ideology is what made you guys great in the first place. It would be (and is) an insult when our finely honed and particular public sphere's turn against us by embracing the very material that we sought distance from. IN SHORT (again): Although it isn't a serious issue yet, if Stylus continues to allow such material coverage than core readers will start reading elsewhere. So please leave the commercial trash to the big wigs. (Oh, and to avoid a debate over whether all commercial music is trash, it most obviously is not. Kylie Minogue, Kanye West and The Strokes all have something special to offer. Kelly Osborne, in her frumpy quest for unwarranted stardom, does not. Neither does 99% of commercial country. Which is not ALL country. There is good independent country music being made.)
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 06:57:02 PM by ckramer:
 i was not trying to attack stylus, i'm seriously concerned that by reviewing these sort of things and giving them credibility it will hurt you by making you a less interesting place to visit. i'm not saying any music is trash but there is a line with music makers on one side and pop culture products on the other. and if you're not going to draw that line then you risk being rolling stone, or billboard...nevermind, you guys obviously don't give a shit , everytime i read any somewhat negative reader comments all the writers get all defensive and have to prove the reader wrong, instead "oh, well thanks for you feedback, maybe faith hill and jessica simpson aren't the most exciting or interesting musicians out there, well try to expose you guys to some new stuff too." it's always "you readers are such indie snobs, we're above all that scene business and expanding our horizons by listening to brad paisley "...seriously and frankly you guys have been sucking recently..i'm sorry to be rude, but i'm sure you guys will have a good comeback about how i'm an aggressive idiot.
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 08:06:40 PM by AlfredSoto:
 "i was not trying to attack stylus, i'm seriously concerned that by reviewing these sort of things and giving them credibility it will hurt you by making you a less interesting place to visit." I don't know who snuffleapagus charmingly refers to as "the traditional Stylus reader," but if this reader is interested in music he should know better than to dismiss any music because it's commercial. And if ckramer is so obsessed with "credibility," then I claim that not only is he as obsessed with marketing as any craven PR guy but is too insecure to defend any music he loves because he's afraid of what his friends might think. The same goes for posters decrying "bourgeoisie trash" when they (a) haven't read Marx; and (b) don't know the difference between an adjective and a noun; and (c) are members of said bourgeoisie themselves.
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 08:27:52 PM by ckramer:
 wow, AlfredSoto, thank you for just proving my point. Like..seriously i couldn't have asked for a better example. Is everyone else seeing this the same way. Readers voice concerns about wasting review space on coporate slime. All the sudden stylus shifts into defence mode, frustrations arise, ending up with stylus staff calling snuffle "bourgeoise" and me "too insecure to like music i love" cos i'm "afraid of what my friends would say". question to alfred soto is it possible for me to geniunely not like faith hill and similiar artists? oh and my favorite band is the chantels followed by the ronettes. s stylus, what happened?
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 08:30:08 PM by ckramer:
 oh but you're totally right, marx would totally dig the extravagance and glamour of jessica simpson and faith hill's music. seriously, who are you?
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 08:42:43 PM by JoshLove:
 I'd be kind of a hypocrite if I railed against some of you guys for your knee-jerk, biased attitudes towards commercial pop in general and country specifically, because not too terribly long ago I felt the same way. What I started to realize though was that I wasn't actually LISTENING to any of this music at all, wasn't even giving it a chance, just assuming that because it sold millions, reflected a lifestyle I didn't lead, and most importantly that it was listened to by the kind of people I generally don't like (*GASP* seriously though be honest with yourselves and tell me that's not a little bit of a factor), I just assumed it was all crap. Then I decided to actually start checking some of this stuff out and lo and behold some of it is pretty fucking great. Yes, alot of it is crap just like alot of indie bands are crap, and I don't expect that everyone who gives it a fair shot will like it, nor do I think you should *have* to like it if you give it an honest listen, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that most if not all of the commenters have probably not genuinely done so (all apologies if I'm wrong). Stylus covers TONS of below-the-radar bands every week, but I don't think anybody who writes here would agree that our primary function is an indie-band-breaking service. We write here because we all love music, we all love different kinds of music and love it for different reasons. In conclusion, listen to Keith Anderson's CD because it's really fucking good, and hey, look for my upcoming review of Jason Aldean's debut CD - he's the fellow who brought you "Hicktown" - you guys remember "Hicktown" right?
 
Posted 08/29/2005 - 10:26:40 PM by edwardo:
 Guys, guys. Read Stylus's mission statement (linked on just about every page on the site): "Stylus has always had one overriding principle and always will: to convey the truth of how a writer feels about what they are discussing. Nothing more. Nothing less.". If you want to criticise Thomas's writing, fine - I think his stuff's excellent, but that's a matter of taste. But to criticise it upon the basis of what you think Stylus should be covering is unfair, and unproductive discourse at that.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 12:30:10 AM by ckramer:
 to clarify one last time. I have nothing against popular music, i do not see this as an indie vs. country issue, but nevertheless i feel that brad paisley, faith hill and jessica simpson make lousy music that hurts the global music community. so to see stylus writing reviews that try to discuss the artistic merits of these artists pissed me off. so i tried to tell you guys.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 01:04:50 AM by edwardo:
 You have a point that may be worth teasing out here, ckramer, but I'm still unclear. How exactly does it hurt the music community? How can you, in such a blanket fashion, state that these records have no artistic merit? Does lousy indie damage the music community? FWIW, I really like a couple of Faith Hill singles, but don't care for Paisley, and cannot stand Jessica Simpson. But as long as there's someone to mount a case for, or against them, I think it's worth reading.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 01:50:03 AM by Snuffleupagus:
 OK. First off, I did not criticize Mr. Inskeep's writing. My discontent is with the motive(s) and subsequent outcome of such coverage (ie, the homogenization of my favourite online zine with an intensifying commercial culture). Second, and this is to the incorrigible AlfredSoto, I do not dismiss music because it is commercial (you would have understood this had you read my second post more carefully). I do not see how my use of "bourgeois" and your subsequent rationalizing leads you to group me in with ckramer. Marketing is of concern to me when I see it has infiltrated every part of my life, permeating even those cherished few sources of alternative information. As for my being insecure with defending the music I love, you are sorely mistaken. I stand by originality and creativity in a heartbeat when it is warranted; at the same time I also denounce fastidiously art which eschews these fundamental (and yes, subjective) qualities altogether. AlfredSoto’s flippant comments, along with his endorsement of Kelly Osborne and her worthless activities, are proof positive of his glib approach to art. I am with ckramer when he says that these artists hurt the global music community, however, I’d like to be more precise. It is not only the music which is hurting this community; it is also the way in which most of this negligible art is allowed to proliferate by way of intellectual passivity and submissiveness. It suffocates any potential growth for the less discerning music fan due to marketing and the money thrown around the infrastructure. I think we all need to be more active and responsible as listeners, especially when the clichéd and mundane (and rich for it) begin popping up around us. If I had more worth while to listen to on Top 40 radio, or better things to do with my time, I would not write such long posts. I am sorry. And I never did think of Stylus as an “indie-band-breaking” service…that’s what Pitchfork’s for.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 02:06:59 AM by edwardo:
 Fair enough, but I can't see why closing one's eyes and pretending it's not there is the best way of attacking this. Country, mainstream country, can be very good. This record, apparently, isn't. It should have had worth, and I don't see how running a review in which it's proclaimed as fairly mediocre is playing along with this process that's hurting this nebulous community that is often spoken about but seldom defined. Passivity? Submissiveness? I simply don't see these things, certainly not here.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 02:18:04 AM by Snuffleupagus:
 BTW: Snuffleupagus owns albums by Michael Jackson, Roy Orbison, Green Day, Madonna, Notorious B.I.G., Herb Alpert, Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead and The Cranberries and he loves them all. So please don't use the term "knee-jerk" ever again. It's easy to say and pretty dumb.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 02:44:58 AM by Snuffleupagus:
 How does one define a world wide music community with all of the causes and effects within? It was a general reference, for sure. I did not say that passivity and submissiveness are present in this specific case (the review, our bickering over it). I applied those terms to the general public whose intake of music is predominantly through commercial radio, what they read in major publications and maybe one or two purchases a year at HMV. I believe and agree with you that country can be good. As for the quality of mainstream country, that topic is going to dwindle into a subjective debate, so let’s not bother. It comes down to the fact that this site has chosen to engage a particular type of music that the majority of readers here care nothing about, whatever their reasoning. “Closing one's eyes and pretending it's not there” is not the best way of attacking this for those of us not interested, you’re right about that. I am fully aware of its existence and will fight to distance myself from it for as long as I am interested in music. Thanks for being cool with the debate edwardo. You too JoshLove.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 09:03:17 AM by mikepowell:
 Snuffle, apologies for being harsh, I just got riled up. Obviously you're being thoughtful here (this is the best thread taken up in the comments section I can remember), but there are still things that startle me about what you're saying. "It comes down to the fact that this site has chosen to engage a particular type of music that the majority of readers here care nothing about, whatever their reasoning." So where does the line get drawn, and why? I mean, isn't the whole point of Inskeep's (and Anthony Easton & Josh Love's) attention to country that in fact we should be paying some attention, at least to certain records? That some of these records break out of our preconceptions about a genre, however virtuous or justifiable? Look, Top 40 country's not my first pick as an aesthetically moral utopia or anything, but I've conceded some of my prejudices because some writers make a good argument to do so, even just once in a while.
 
Posted 08/30/2005 - 10:16:24 AM by AlfredSoto:
 If you like a band or an artist, it's worth defending. Period. It's irrelevant whether it hurts "the global music community." And before anyone jumps in again, let me remind you that the Faith Hill album in question got a C.
 
Posted 09/01/2005 - 12:56:49 AM by IanMathers:
 "along with his endorsement of Kelly Osborne and her worthless activities". Once again, you're setting yourself up as someone who has the right to draw the line between good and bad. Given that there are plenty of people (including, uh, me) who like some/all of her music, and we're mostly just as reasonable as you are, what makes you better than us?
 
Posted 09/01/2005 - 07:24:45 AM by holystoning:
 Posted 02/21/2005 - 05:23:25 PM by mvdu76: That's it! I'm done with Stylus Magazine for good. What an appalling thing to say! I can deal with disagreement, but this review is really, really low. Look, how many touted bands from 2003 do we still listen to on a consistent basis? 2002? 2000? "Interesting" records are in the ear of the beholder, and sometimes a Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, or Faith Hill CD says more to the reviewer about culture or nostalgia or values or challenges than a thousand Brightblacks put together. And sometimes, it might even stir them to depths of emotion that Hope For Agoldensummer could not have. Few people would complain about the Van Lear Rose review, because 1) Loretta Lynn has been given some sort of retroactive hipster pass or 2) the record was pretty decent. If you question why Faith is on Stylus, please don't. Why doesn't your record collection only hold the convulsing brave works of young global revolutionaries? Personally, there is nothing more boring than reading a rote review of a new artist/band that makes a big point of referring to the climate of hype the record's been receiving. Those reviews are nearly all redundant. It is a sad job to be the one telling 'cool' kids where their money must go next. Thank goodness for young men and women who like to poke about at corners of culture with which we think we're familiar, but upon closer inspection we see we've missed a lot of subtleties.

Look at the records today. Tony Yayo (who got a C with reservations, just like Faith), Do Me Bad Things, Nortec Collective, and Clue to Kalo. Not a bad lineup, no? If we're really lucky, Cosmo Lee brings us metal. And Burns & Co. have lots of lesser stars in the Rubber Room. Or the Stypod's a good bet for lowercase names. Not a bad week's work.
 
Posted 09/01/2005 - 07:25:28 AM by holystoning:
 "...really, really low" is the end of mvdu76's Tori Amos comment.
 
Posted 09/01/2005 - 02:07:15 PM by Snuffleupagus:
 I was finished with this post but the “what makes you think you’re better than us” remark pissed me off. When have I expressed that thought Ian? By “us” I assume you mean the lot of you on this message board. If my mind serves me correct, that jab was directed to AlfredSoto in response to a few similarly base comments that he directed at me. This is the sentence to which your strategically removed quote is from. “AlfredSoto’s flippant comments, along with his endorsement of Kelly Osborne and her worthless activities, are proof positive of his glib approach to art.” I speak of no one else and it would be wrong to deduce from that sentence that I believe just anyone to be glib for liking Kelly Osborn; “along with” holds the key descriptor, so it’s just little Alfred in this case as he is the owner of those comments. Though we should thank him as he continues to remind us of the grade which the album in question has received, even if it is of no relevance to this debate. The interesting two comments here that I’d like to address come from mikepowell and IanMathers. “So where does the line get drawn, and why?” Well that’s just it. The divisions and sections between music are amorphous; obviously no one can point and choose and have an unobjectionable opinion. My comments are not imbued with finality (unless you read it into them) and if I have come off with an air of superiority, Ian, I am sorry. But I do believe that one can voice their own opinion and argue it to extremes. In this case, I am of the extreme opinion that Faith Hill and Kelly Osborne are of the lowest rung when it comes to creating music and all of the business ethics within (we can start another thread to discuss these elements further). However, if my mind serves me correct I had taken up issue with Stylus covering such artists, not the artists themselves. I’m sorry to quote myself, but here: “My discontent is with the motive(s) and subsequent outcome of such coverage (ie, the homogenization of my favourite online zine with an intensifying commercial culture).” My main concern is that I don’t want Stylus to become PopMatters (home to the internets largest collective amount of wasted text). There’s countless other sources covering this commercial material and if Kelly and Faith are game then so are Linkin Park and Nickleback. If you are going to head down one path and scold me with indie bias then you had better go all the way for fear of similar such bias further down the axis. But we already know where the loophole lies – it’s up to the writers to write about whatever they want. Since this is the case I think the powers that be at Stylus should use more discretion, as they are employing writers who do not. And now I’m gone for good.
 
Posted 09/01/2005 - 03:21:11 PM by j_cunningham:
 A couple of you have hinted that the very act of covering this music makes Stylus akin to a shamelessly corporate magazine like "Rolling Stone," and that we should be leaving the contemporary country reviews to media outlets of that ilk. Personally, though, it's precisely *because* I share your distaste for a lot of mainstream criticism that I appreciate reading Stylus writers' take on these records. I can't always trust RS's sensibilities; I do, for the most part, trust Stylus's.