The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

Jessica Hopper (Author)


Jessica Hopper's music criticism has earned her a reputation as a firebrand, a keen observer and fearless critic not just of music but the culture around it. With this volume spanning from her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly's past, The First Collection leaves no doubt why The New York Times has called Hopper's work "influential." Not merely a selection of two decades of Hopper's most engaging, thoughtful, and humorous writing, this book documents the last 20 years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption. The book journeys through the truths of Riot Grrrl's empowering insurgence, decamps to Gary, IN, on the eve of Michael Jackson's death, explodes the grunge-era mythologies of Nirvana and Courtney Love, and examines emo's rise. Through this vast range of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music. The pieces in The First Collection send us digging deep into our record collections, searching to re-hear what we loved and hated, makes us reconsider the art, trash, and politics Hopper illuminates, helping us to make sense of what matters to us most.

Product Details

$17.95  $16.51
Featherproof Books
Publish Date
May 12, 2015
5.9 X 0.6 X 8.9 inches | 0.7 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Jessica Hopper is a music and culture critic whose work regularly appears in GQ, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and the Chicago Tribune. She is a senior editor at The Pitchfork Review and the music editor at Rookie. Her essays have appeared in Best Music Writing for 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2011. Hopper was the longtime music consultant for This American Life. Her book, The Girls' Guide to Rocking was named one of 2009's Notable Books For Young Readers by the American Library Association. She lives in Chicago with her husband and young sons.


"In this crucial book, Hopper schools us all in the art of criticism. You will be reminded, as I was, why you care to read and write about (and listen to!) music to begin with. Hopper's relationship with music is a joy to behold."
--Tavi Gevinson, Editor-in-Chief, Rookie

"Jessica Hopper's criticism is a trenchant and necessary counterpoint not just on music, but on our culture at large."
--Annie Clark, St. Vincent

"Has there ever been a person in your life whose opinion carried colossal weight regardless of the topic being discussed? Someone who changed your mind and pushed your buttons, always ahead of the curve and deeply entrenched in the scene with a scholar's knowledge of the who/what/where. For me that person has always been Jessica Hopper."
--Sara Quin, Tegan & Sara

"I read Hopper's work with a sense of bewildered gratitude. She concedes nothing to the idea that it is dumb to care so much. The excitement in her work comes from her faith that these things are worth scrapping about."
--Rob Sheffield, author of Love is a Mixtape

"Acute cultural zoom-ins, real-time reportage, and frank, funny, feeling dispatches from a woman's life lived in, for and in spite of music: Jessica Hopper serves notice of how much voices like hers have been needed."
--Carl Wilson, author of Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste

"The First Collection is a game-changer, a godsend, and a Holy Grail for those who have been forced to reside on the fringe of the notoriously "male-dominated sphere" of rock criticism and fandom [...] Hopper's work, influence, and unwavering support for the diversification of voice and perspective within music journalism have altered the landscape of rock criticism for the better. It may be the first collection of criticism written by a female rock critic, but it's definitely not the last."
--The Village Voice

"An airtight case for why the professional critic still matters, and why it is a thrill to spend time in the presence of someone whose job it is to care so much and so intelligently."
--Chicago Tribune

"For music criticism to be effectual, it has to be progressive. Hopper's been in the game for two decades, but continues to fight for change: particularly for critics and older musicians alike actively to seek out the new."
--The Guardian

"Hopper's collection explores the spectrum of popular music from garage to rap to Christian rock, transporting readers to basement punk shows where sweat drips from the stage onto concertgoers and Pearl Jam festivals where fans congregate, "numb in Vedder-ticipation." Her 40-odd essays offer both a sweeping survey of two decades of music and a microscopic examination of artists as familiar as Miley Cyrus and as obscure as the noise punk group Coughs."

"Hopper is one of the most vital and prolific music critics around. [...] The title is a mouthful, but the book brims with Hopper's lean prose and mic-dropping one-liners."

"Jessica Hopper has become a mandatory name in the world of music criticism, and this latest collection is the icing on the cake. At the book's heart, you'll find a funny, thoughtful writer whose extensive journalism career cements her as a lasting voice in the genre."

"The pieces in The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic are diverse and important in their own individual ways--everything from a fascinating look at the synchronicity between indie musicians and advertising, and the (sadly still all-too-relevant) 2003 piece "Emo: Where the Girls Aren't" to a profile on songwriter David Bazan that explores his complicated relationship with religion and fans, and to a Village Voice discussion with Jim DeRogatis that reexamined (and gave renewed visibility to) the sexual assault allegations against R. Kelly."

"A game-changing collection of writing [...] Hopper has created a bible for aspiring writers, not just music critics."
--Huffington Post

"A unique voice among a sea of male rock critics."
--MTV News

"[Hopper's] early essays remain valuable educational resources for anyone wanting to look further into the relationship between music and sexism."
--Meredith Graves, i-D

"[Hopper] seized on this opportunity to plant a flag for the cause and issue a thunderous "Fuck you!" to the embedded misogyny within rock criticism and our culture at large."