Robert Christgau

Robert Christgau is a music critic known for being a bit of a dick

He judges all

Just The Facts

  1. Robert Christgau has been writing about music since before you were born
  2. His nicknames include "Dean of American Rock Critics" and "Xgau"
  3. "Xgau" sounds like an acolyte of "Xenu"

Cracked on Robert Christgau

Like him or hate him, Robert Christgau has had the opportunity to see music evolve in the 20th century. He was young and sprightly when rock n' roll took off, when it spawned bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, when it metamorphosized into hard rock, punk rock, metal, and grunge; he was around when old R&B and soul music gave way to hip hop and rap; he's been able to experience the evolution of music over the course of 50 odd years.

Youth in all its glory

You might call him venerable. But in this case, "venerable" is synonomous with "pretentious old man who thinks new music is worse than old music"

Your band sucks


Robert Christgau's grading process is dramatically different from most reviewers. Whereas most music mags use stars, and websites like Pitchfork use a numerical rating (giving them a 8.7 rating in bullshit), Christgau uses actual grades. In the 60's through the 80's, his grades ranged from A+ to E-, accompanied by a small blurb. In the 90's, Christgau switched up his grading system to reflect the times (i.e. his belief that new music was shittier than old music). He got rid of every grade below B (with a few exceptions), and put in new symbols. These included a bomb, a frowny face, a pair of scissors, and asterisks, ranging from * to ***. These ratings came with no review, and was essentially a snub towards music released after 1990.

Hey Art Brut, F**k you!

There are of course exceptions. Christgau has often given good grades to up and coming bands, most of whom are simultaneously loved by hipsters.

We meet again, Vampire Weekend

The Bias of Xgau

Over his career as a reviewer and journalist, Christgau has made more than a few enemies (er, people who disagree with his opinions). He has stated his prejudice against many genres, including metal and Irish music.

All apologies to celtic metal band Cruachan

For example, Christgau has never like Metallica very much. Their generally accepted magnum opus, Master of Puppets, was only given a B-, and that's the best grade they've ever gotten from him. He gave their self-titled album (the one with "Enter Sandman") a bomb sign.

In the mid 80's, Christgau provoked the ire of Sonic Youth by labelling them a "pigfucker" band (signalling their raw, abrasive sound), and giving them a bad live review. In response, Thurston Moore renamed their song "Kill Yr Idols". The new name? "I Killed Christgau with my Big Fucking Dick". Eventually, though, they reconciled, but there was still tension.

And Thurston's Big Fucking Dick

In 1978, Christgau gave Lou Reed's new record Street Hassle a B+. Rather than take that as a pretty good review, Reed responded by recording a rant against Christgau on his album Live: Take No Prisoners. Xgau responded by giving it a C+ and thanking Reed for pronouncing name right.


Christgau has always had an obsession with African music, which alienated him a bit during the 80's when other critics thought he wasn't being American enough. Regardless, Christgau is sympathetic to any music which is even vageuly African in nature.

You again...

Finally, Christgau got in trouble after John Lennon's assassination, when he quoted his wife, saying Paul McCartney should've been shot instead of John.

But of course Paul was already dead