Don’t Write Mean Things About Kings of Leon
Their feelings are very, very sensitive.
The big media news story this week involved MTV News firing their talented writing staff so the company could focus on generating more easily monetizable video content rather than creating short and long-form written pieces. This Spin article by Jordan Sargent does an excellent job of explaining the full story and showing how your corporate digital media sausage is made. The entire article is great, but one detail stuck out to me more than any other.
Sargent reports that in 2016 an MTV News writer rubbed popular American rock band Kings of Leon the wrong way by publishing a brief, lightly critical piece about the band’s new single and lamenting the artistic direction the band had pursued. In response, Kings of Leon pitched a fucking fit with their team and demanded that the offending article be deleted.
…the band became aware of the article and threatened to remove itself from the MTV Europe Music Awards. The complaint over the article went straight to executive-level corporate management, and an agreement was reached that MTV News would, at least temporarily, cease the publication of reviews under 500 words. This was because executives at MTV associated those kinds of blog posts with snarkiness and criticism, both of which were deemed detrimental to the network’s broader ability to work with artists who may be the subjects of such posts.
Kings of Leon were not alone in using their industry clout to silence mild criticism of the outlet. Chance the Rapper and DJ Khaled also reportedly demanded that MTV offer them glowing coverage or suffer consequences. It’s a sad indictment of corporate media that in 2017 artists are able to throw their weight around to avoid being told that their shit may, in fact, stink.
Thankfully, the internet is rife with independent media channels that don’t have to comply with the childish demands of emotionally stunted manchildren. Because there are no financial interests involved, a smaller outlet is free to write open and honest music criticism. For example, Kings of Leon is a band that started their career as a Joe Dirt ripoff of The Strokes before morphing into a white trash ripoff of U2 and eventually becoming their current incarnation of audio saltine crackers designed to be grey, inoffensive radio fodder. The most interesting thing the band ever did was release a hilariously overpriced fashion line that included a $300 fedora, a $100 bandana, and a silver coke spoon necklace. The band reached a level of uncomfortable ubiquity by virtue of legions of post 2000s music writers desperately trying to make this band a thing and the strength of one single that was best performed as a “Shreds” video.
It’s a terrible shame that any band, especially one as utterly inconsequential as Kings of Leon, is able to silence honest criticism by throwing a tantrum. Fortunately, independent media is still free to speak honestly. And honestly, fuck Kings of Leon.