- Jayson Greene
(b New York, NY, April 18, 1942). American rock critic. Known as “the dean of American rock critics,” Christgau first emerged as one of the trade’s earliest professionals. Beginning in 1967 as the music columnist for Esquire, Christgau worked briefly at the Village Voice and Newsday as a critic before beginning his 37-year tenure as music editor of the Village Voice in 1974. During this time, Christgau mentored dozens of critics and established the Voice as a widely acknowledged home for serious rock criticism. He also inaugurated, in 1971, the annual Pazz & Jop music poll, which compiles the “top ten” lists submitted by music critics nationwide.
Christgau is perhaps best known for his capsule reviews, which have been published since 1969 in his Consumer Guide columns. Dry, witty, terse, and densely packed with allusions and asides, Christgau’s blurbs, accompanied by assigned letter grades, promoted a persuasive style of serious, incisive criticism of rock music; many of his reviews have been reprinted in popular book-length compilations. He was an early supporter of the hip-hop and riot grrrl movements and an avid proponent of African popular music. Few rock critics have established such a national presence and identity. Rock musicians ranging from Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground to Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth have name-checked him in song....