NPR logo Pitchfork Explains The 'Black Kids' Backtrack


Pitchfork Explains The 'Black Kids' Backtrack


These dogs have bad news for Black Kids. Image: Pitchfork Media hide caption

toggle caption Image: Pitchfork Media

Very early this morning, before we did the show, the music website posted today's reviews, leading with the debut album, Partie Traumatic, from the Florida band Black Kids.

When I logged on at 6:30 a.m., the site's front page showed a link to the review with the curious tease "Everybody makes mistakes." The review itself was sharper. The site gave the album a lowest-possible 0.0 (Pitchfork scores records up to 10.0) along with a photo of two small dogs and the caption "Sorry :-/" as the only written commentary.

Slightly funny, slightly mean. Then things got interesting. Some time between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., the review, which is credited to Pitchfork editor-in-chief Scott Plagenhoef, got a facelift. The front page tease now reads as follows:

"After a well-received EP, Jacksonville's Black Kids release a Bernard Butler-produced debut that surprisingly hit the top 5 in the UK."

The score was changed from 0.0 to 3.3.

I couldn't find a screen grab of the original post, but you can see discussion of the double zeros at Drowned in Sound message boards.

I e-mailed Plagenhoef to ask about the change. He writes that the first score was "simply a regrettable computer error," and that the review "was accidentally up when we woke and it was changed asap."

Pitchfork has a history of using the reviews on its site to prank bands — this review of the first album by the Australian band Jet is memorable — and they have dished out perfect zeros in the past.

Last November, Pitchfork writer Mark Hogan gave an 8.4 to the Wizard of Ahhhs EP that Black Kids released on myspace, calling the band "good natured pop-cultural sponges" who "make catchy, tightly executed songs that put a memorable stamp on pop's classic themes."

Pitchfork's number scores are determined by the individual writer who does the review, so it's possible that Plagenhoef just disagreed with Hogan. It certainly wouldn't be the first time a young band didn't deliver on its promise. Or maybe it's just that the site's editors were still in recovery mode after this weekend's Pitchfork Festival in Chicago and really just didn't catch the error.



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Plagenhoef is basically a douche lord. Just because the album didn't vibe with his over inflated sense of musical worth, or maybe because some hipster girl that dumped him loved the album, he thought it would be HILARIOUS to trash it without providing any explanation whatsoever. Probably because there is no justifiable review that would give it such a meager score.

Sent by par | 11:42 AM | 7-22-2008

this is interesting... mcmgonnical of yeti recently reviewed the eat skull album and give it a 9.0 but pitchfork bumped it down to an 8.3...
here's a screen shot of his facebook post about it...

Sent by bp baggins | 1:39 PM | 7-22-2008

ironically, the band will get so much hype just from this incident, they should thank p'fork

Sent by damian | 1:41 PM | 7-22-2008

I absolutely agree with your statement, "Probably because there is no justifiable review that would give it such a meager score." I don't get it. It's good pop--plain and simple.

Sent by S. Business | 2:00 PM | 7-22-2008

Pfork scores first come from the writer, then the editors/staff "take stock" of the album, if you will, and re-asses the rating. This is BS. Let the writer have a voice, not what the editors decide should be the next Pfork-approved bestseller or flop.

Sent by Lars Gotrich | 4:21 PM | 7-22-2008

gotta say i think black kids' music is generic, though.... i'd say it's not interesting enough to justify a 0.0 more like a 2.1 haha

Sent by bp baggins | 4:59 PM | 7-22-2008

Pitchfork Media is probably the most annoying, self-indulgent elitist nerd cabal on the internet. However, I would visit them regularly if they had more pictures of pugs in their articles. Maybe a crossover with BeeDogs would work? Think about it, guys!

Sent by iheartbeedogs | 11:45 PM | 7-22-2008

That is one smart computer that can put itself in the mindset of a site that hyped a crappy band and then subsequently generate content! what an outrageously transparent lie. Did Plagenhoef get an angry phone call from someone at Columbia Records this morning? Or maybe a tearful one from one of his brosephs in Black Kids?

Sent by Erik | 12:46 AM | 7-23-2008

It's just another sad attempt for publicity from Pitchfork. Another silly stunt in a long line of them. Can't imagine why anyone takes them seriously.

Sent by Robert | 9:09 AM | 7-23-2008

How would that be publicity? It's probably like any other journalism staff, cranking stuff out like mad with little time to be conniving, as you perceive. Silly public.

Sent by Sarah | 6:09 PM | 7-23-2008

Has anyone mentioned that when the review originally went up with the 0.0 score, it was credited to Ray Suzuki, not Plagenhoef?

Sent by Shaun | 6:16 AM | 7-24-2008

"How would that be publicity?"

Uh, kinda obvious. Notice how you all are now talking about Pitchfork. Same on a bunch of music blogs. Become the story, get the attention, drive more page views. NPR writes about you = credibility and free publicity.

Sent by Robert | 9:12 AM | 7-25-2008

As we witness the decline and fall of the major label, we are seeing sites like Pitchfork take thier place as taste makers. While the elitist thing is pretty much an indie rock staple, it is sad that they can't even post criticism or explanation of the "review". This is sad from a "respected" site.

Sent by TheCeleryStalker | 9:08 PM | 7-26-2008