If there’s one common complaint we hear as rock critics, it’s “I could totally do your job.” First off–shhh, don’t tell anyone! Secondly, “jobs” traditionally pay better than this, so we’ll gladly go Parent Trap with you in a heartbeat.
Either way, we decided to get some measurable data on the classic backseat critic theory that we’re all a bunch of no-nothings and finks. We gave a pool of 14 rock critics one question: How many members of the Wu-Tang Clan can you name? They were given the following rules:
1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong.
[Though we will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you’ve ever heard of–from Rolling Stone, Spin and Billboard on down to random tweets. Da Capo has seen a few of these names. I’m pretty sure all of them got a Pazz & Jop ballot]
2. You can’t use Google.
[To a rock critic his is like telling Spiderman he has to save someone without using his webs]
So how did our panel of experts do? Are you smarter than a rock critic?
Out of 14 polled:
Number of critics who got all nine members: 3
Number of critics who got eight: 4
Number of critics who got seven: 4
Number of critics who got six: 2
Most forgotten Wu member: Masta Killa
The six Wu-Tang members that literally everyone knew right away: Method Man, RZA, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah
Number of critics who immediately went for completely unsolicited Cappadonna bonus points: 7
Number of critics who said “Inspector Something”: 1
Number of critics who had to imagine the “Triumph” video to help them: 1 (“There’s another important one I am spacing on flying down the building.”)
If you couldn’t do it, don’t despair. I can only name three members of the Pixies, two members of the Smiths, one member of Yo La Tengo and pretty much nobody in Stereolab.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 7, 2011