Simon Reynolds

Last updated
Simon Reynolds
Simon Reynolds.jpg
Reynolds in 2011
Born (1963-06-19) 19 June 1963 (age 56)
London, England
OccupationMusic critic, author
ResidenceLos Angeles, California
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford
Spouse Joy Press

Simon Reynolds (born 19 June 1963) is an English music journalist and author who began his professional career on the staff of Melody Maker in the mid-1980s, and has since gone on to freelance and publish a number of full-length books on music and popular culture, ranging from historical tomes on rave music, glam rock, and the post-punk era to critical works such as The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'n' Roll (co-authored with his wife Joy Press, 1995) and Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past (2011). [1] He has also contributed to Spin , Rolling Stone , The New York Times , The Village Voice , The Guardian , The Wire , Pitchfork , and others.

<i>Melody Maker</i> historical British weekly pop/rock music newspaper  (1926-2000)

Melody Maker was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest. It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester-born composer, publisher Lawrence Wright; the first editor was Edgar Jackson. In 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.

Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter. Glam artists drew on diverse sources across music and throwaway pop culture, ranging from bubblegum pop and 1950s rock and roll to cabaret, science fiction, and complex art rock. The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been described as playing with nontraditional gender roles. "Glitter rock" was another term used to refer to a more extreme version of glam.

Post-punk is a broad type of rock music that emerged from the punk movement of the 1970s, in which artists departed from the simplicity and traditionalism of punk rock to adopt a variety of avant-garde sensibilities and diverse influences. Inspired by punk's energy and DIY ethic but determined to break from rock cliches, artists experimented with sources including electronic music and black styles like dub, funk, and disco; novel recording and production techniques; and ideas from art and politics, including critical theory, modernist art, cinema and literature. These communities produced independent record labels, visual art, multimedia performances and fanzines.


Biography and career

Reynolds was born in London in 1963 [2] and grew up in Berkhamsted. [3] Inspired by his younger brother Tim, he became interested in rock and specifically punk in 1978. [4] In the early 1980s, he attended Brasenose College, Oxford. After graduating, in 1984 he co-founded the Oxford-based music journal Monitor with his friends and future Melody Maker colleagues Paul Oldfield and David Stubbs along with Hilary Little and Chris Scott. [2] In 1986, Reynolds joined the staff of Melody Maker , where his writing was marked by enthusiasm for a wave of neo-psychedelic rock and hip hop artists that emerged in the mid-1980s (including A.R. Kane, My Bloody Valentine, Public Enemy, Throwing Muses and The Young Gods). During this period, Reynolds and his Melody Maker colleagues set themselves in opposition to what they characterized as the conservative humanism of the era's indie rock, soul, and pop music, as well as the unadventurous style and approach of most music criticism. [5] Pieces from this late Eighties era would form the remixed collection Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock, published in 1990. [1]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Berkhamsted Town in Hertfordshire, England

Berkhamsted is a historic market town close to the western boundary of Hertfordshire, England. It is situated in the small Bulbourne valley in the Chiltern Hills, 26 miles (42 km) northwest of London. The town is a civil parish with a town council within the borough of Dacorum, based at the much larger town of Hemel Hempstead. Berkhamsted and the adjoining village of Northchurch are surrounded by countryside, much of it classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Brasenose College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

Brasenose College (BNC), officially The King's Hall and College of Brasenose, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1509, with the library and chapel added in the mid-17th century and the new quadrangle in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1990, Reynolds left the staff of Melody Maker (although he would continue to contribute to the magazine until 1996) and became a freelance writer, splitting his time between London and New York. In the early 1990s, he became involved in rave culture and the electronic dance music scene, particularly that of the UK, and became a writer on the development of what he would later conceptualise as the "hardcore continuum" along with its surrounding culture such as pirate radio. [1] During this time, he also theorized the concept of "post-rock", using the term first in a Melody Maker 1993 feature about Insides and then in a more developed form in a May 1994 thinkpiece for The Wire and in a review of Bark Psychosis' album Hex , published in the March 1994 issue of Mojo magazine. [6] In late 1994, Reynolds moved to the East Village in Manhattan. In 1995, with his wife, Joy Press, Reynolds co-authored The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'n' Roll, a critical analysis of gender in rock. In 1998, Reynolds published Energy Flash: a Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture , a history of house music, techno and later rave genres like jungle music and gabber. The book was published that same year in America in abridged form, with the title Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture. In 1998 Reynolds also became a senior editor at Spin magazine in the US. In 1999, he returned to freelance work.

Rave Dance party

A rave is an organized dance party at a nightclub, outdoor festival, warehouse, or other private property typically featuring performances by DJs, playing a seamless flow of electronic dance music. DJs at rave events play electronic dance music on vinyl, CDs and digital audio from a wide range of genres, including techno, hardcore, house, drum & bass, bassline, dubstep, New Beat and post-industrial. Occasionally live performers have been known to perform, in addition to other types of performance artists such as go-go dancers and fire dancers. The music is amplified with a large, powerful sound reinforcement system, typically with large subwoofers to produce a deep bass sound. The music is often accompanied by laser light shows, projected coloured images, visual effects and fog machines.

Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by disc jockeys who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. In Europe, EDM is more commonly called 'dance music', or simply 'dance'.

UK hardcore is a genre of music which evolved from and incorporates sound elements from happy hardcore. UK hardcore has a characteristically "harder" style by its "thicker" harsher bassline, as well as less of the breakbeat associated with the happy hardcore music of the 1990s.

In 2005, Reynolds released Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 , a history of the post-punk era. [7] In 2007, Reynolds published Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing about Hip Rock and Hip Hop in the UK, a collection of his writing themed around the relationship between white bohemian rock and black street music. In 2008, an updated edition of Energy Flash was published, with new chapters on the decade of dance music following the appearance of the first edition. In 2009, a companion volume to Rip It Up and Start Again was published, Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews, containing interview transcripts and new essays.

In 2011, Reynolds published Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past, a critical investigation into what he perceives as the current situation of chronic retrogression in pop music, with a focus on the effects of the internet and digital culture on music consumption and musical creativity. [8]

In 2013, a second expanded update of Energy Flash was published, with new material on the rise of dubstep to worldwide popularity and the EDM or Electronic Dance Music explosion in America.

Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in South London in the late 1990s. It is generally characterised by sparse, syncopated rhythmic patterns with prominent sub-bass frequencies. The style emerged as an offshoot of UK garage, drawing on a lineage of related styles such as 2-step and dub reggae, as well as jungle, broken beat, and grime. In the United Kingdom, the origins of the genre can be traced back to the growth of the Jamaican sound system party scene in the early 1980s.

Reynolds's eighth book, a history of the glam rock era, Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, was published in October 2016. [9]

In addition to writing books, Reynolds has continued freelancing for magazines, giving lectures, writing liner notes, and appearing in music documentaries. He also operates a blog, Blissblog along with various satellite blogs such as the book-focused outlets Energy Flash, Retromania and Shock and Awe, and the drivel blog Hardly Baked. Reynolds also maintains an archive for his writing, the blog ReynoldsRetro. He resides in Los Angeles. [10]

Critical style

Reynolds' writing has blended cultural criticism with music journalism. [11] He has written extensively on gender, class, race, and sexuality in relation to music and culture. Early in his career, Reynolds often made use of critical theory and philosophy in his analysis of music, deriving particular influence from thinkers such as Roland Barthes, Georges Bataille, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. [1] He has on occasion used the Marxist concepts of commodity fetishism and false consciousness to describe attitudes prevalent in hip hop music. [12] In discussing the relationship between class and music, Reynolds coined the term liminal class, defined as the upper-working class and lower-middle-class, a group he credits with "a lot of music energy". [13] Reynolds has also written about drug culture and its relationship to various musical developments and movements. [14] In the 2000s, in tandem with fellow critic and blogger Mark Fisher, Reynolds made use of Jacques Derrida's concept of hauntology to describe a strain of music and popular art preoccupied with the disjointed temporality and "lost futures" of contemporary culture. [15]

Year-end critics' polls

Reynolds has voted in a number of year-end critics' polls, most often for The Wire 's Rewind and for The Village Voice 's Pazz & Jop. Since 2011, when The Wire renamed its year-end poll from Records of the Year to Releases of the Year, Reynolds has cast several votes for songs rather than album-length releases. Reynold's full voting ballots and year-end commentaries for a variety of magazines, going back to the late 1980s, can be found at Reynolds's Faves/Unfaves blog.

1991 World of Twist Quality StreetReynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [16]
1994 Tricky "Aftermath"Reynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [17]
1995 Tricky Maxinquaye Reynolds's blog (ballot for The Wire) [18]
1999Position NormalStop Your NonsenseReynolds's blog (collecting writings from The Village Voice and Uncut) [19]
2000 Isolée RestThe Wire [20]
2001 Pulp We Love Life The Wire [21]
2002 The Streets Original Pirate Material The Wire [22]
2003 Dizzee Rascal Boy in da Corner The Wire [23]
2004Dizzee Rascal Showtime The Wire [24]
2005 Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Worn Copy The Wire [25]
2006 Scritti Politti White Bread Black Beer The Wire [26]
2007 Black Moth Super Rainbow Dandelion Gum The Wire [27]
2008 Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend The Wire [28] and Pazz & Jop [29]
2009Tie: Micachu and the Shapes / Dirty Projectors Jewellery / Bitte Orca In Pazz & Jop, Reynolds allocated equal points to both albums. [29] In The Wire, which does not allow tie votes, he voted for Jewellery only. [30]
2010Tie: Rangers / Ariel Pink's Haunted GraffitiSuburban Tours / Before Today In Pazz & Jop, Reynolds allocated equal points to both albums. [29] In The Wire, he voted for Suburban Tours only. [31]
2011 Metronomy The English Riviera Pazz & Jop [29]
2012Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Mature Themes The Wire [32]
2013 Sage the Gemini featuring Iamsu! "Gas Pedal"The Wire [33]
2014 Tinashe featuring Schoolboy Q "2 On"The Wire [34]
2015 Future "Fuck Up Some Commas"The Wire [35]
2016eMMplekzRook to TN34The Wire [36]
2017 Travis Scott "Goosebumps"The Wire [37]
2018 Migos Culture II The Wire [38]




  1. 1 2 3 4 ReadySteadyBook - Simon Reynolds Interview
  2. 1 2 Rock's Backpages - Simon Reynolds
  3. Worth Their Wait | Features | Pitchfork Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  4. Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984 . London: Faber and Faber. ISBN   978-0-571-21570-6.
  5. Reynolds, Simon (1990). Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock. Serpent's Tail. ISBN   1-85242-199-1.
  6. Reynolds, Simon (March 1994). "Bark Psychosis: Hex". Mojo . Retrieved 8 July 2008.
  7. The A.V. Club, Inventory: 17 Essential Books About Popular Music
  8. Adam Harper, "Record Recollection", Oxonian Review , 2 June 2011
  9. Faber Social. Shock and Awe by Simon Reynolds. 18 July 2016.
  10. M3 - Simon Reynolds Interview
  11. Berman, Judy. "From Bowie to Gaga: How Glam Rock Lives On". Pitchfork Media . Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  12. Simon Reynolds: Review of JAY-Z, Vol. 3... Life and Times of S.Carter / DMX,And Then There Was X / JUVENILE, Tha G-Code /THE LOX, We Are The Streets Uncut, May 2000 (online copy at Reynolds "Bring The Noise" blog)
  13. Perfect Sound Forever: Simon Reynolds interview on post-punk
  14. Simon Reynolds: High society - Irvine Welsh's film 'Trainspotting'. Artforum, Summer 1996
  15. The Guardian - Hauntology: A not-so-new critical manifestation
  16. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1991". Blogger.
  17. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1995 - End of Year Comments and Votes". Blogger.
  18. Reynolds, Simon (14 December 2008). "The Wire, 1995 - End of Year Comments and Votes". Blogger.
  19. Reynolds, Simon (16 December 2008). "Faves and Unfaves of 1999". Blogger.
  20. "Rewind 2000: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 203. London. January 2001. p. 43 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  21. "2001 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 215. London. January 2002. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  22. "Rewind 2002: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 227. London. January 2003. p. 55 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  23. "2003 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 239. London. January 2004. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  24. "2004 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 251. London. January 2005. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  25. "2005 Rewind: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 263. London. January 2006. p. 51 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  26. "Rewind 2006: 50 Records of the Year" . The Wire. No. 275. London. January 2007. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  27. "2007 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 287. London. January 2008. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  28. "2008 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 299. London. January 2009. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  29. 1 2 3 4 McDonald, Glenn. "Pazz & Jop Statistics: Simon Reynolds". Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  30. "2009 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 311. London. January 2010. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  31. "2010 Rewind: Records of the Year Top Ten" . The Wire. No. 323. London. January 2011. p. 49 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  32. "2012 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 347. London. January 2013. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  33. "2013 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 359. London. January 2014. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  34. "2014 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 371. London. January 2015. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  35. "2015 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 383. London. January 2016. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  36. "Rewind 2016: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 395. London. p. 35 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  37. "Rewind 2017: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 407. London. January 2018. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)
  38. "2018 Rewind: The Electorate" . The Wire. No. 419. London. January 2019. p. 37 via Exact Editions.(subscription required)

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