Day 157: The Rolling Stone on John Legend

by Tom Noonan

In the September 12 issue of Rolling Stone, critic Jon Dolan begins his review of John Legend’s Love in the Future with this:

John Legend’s fiancee, model Chrissy Teigen, recently said she never wears underwear. And who can blame her: Undies fly away like silken doves when the reigning king of hip-hop soul is in the general vicinity.

That change you just felt, the squirming in the pit of your stomach, the curling of your toes, was the health of our dear friend music criticism declining suddenly from an often beautiful and genuine extension of art to, essentially, the practice of recording then printing something your mother said about the genre of music you happened to be writing about that day.  This is to say that where once we looked for a point of entry into Jeff Mangum’s inscrutable B-sides, we will now only find clarifying questions about the most recent episode of Scandal and tupperware containers brimming with leftover macaroni and cheese.

With such a brutal blow to her well-being, music criticism skipped right over in-home nursing care and landed in an assisted living facility.  And soon, when we cry in the candlelight of her 7-day vigil, we’ll only be able to ask how, how could Jon Dolan do this to her?  He could’ve spared her, we know that.  All it would’ve taken was a simple, “Love in the Future is Keith Stone-smooth”, just something hyphenated, anything, like “Jay-Z”, it might’ve worked, and we could have saved her from this whole ordeal.  It might’ve even been like the end of The Matrix, when you think Neo is dead but he was just pretending to be an emotionless failure the whole time and is actually really pretty good at jumping into people and making them explode from the inside.  Music criticism could’ve come back stronger than ever.

But Mr. Dolan used the word “Undies” with a capital “U”, and now music criticism is decaying in a hospital bed somewhere in Newark.  If only Wesley Morris reviewed albums.

Listen to Legend’s “So Gone”, which samples The Dwells, below: