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Unleashing Your Inner Music Nerd, One Album at a Time

by Courtney E. Smith

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-50223-6
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Music writer Smith narrates a melodious road map with much autobiographical detail interwoven.

Despite its title, the self-taught “music obsessive” author’s debut is not a guide book; nor is it aimed specifically at female readers. Instead, it’s a hybrid: part collection of loosely related essays on the music industry, female rock stars and pop music in general; and part memoir, focusing on Smith’s particular tastes in music and how that music affects every aspect of her life, most specifically her dating life. The author’s experience in the industry, however overblown and self-aggrandizing (“I’ve been shaping the music you’ve listened to for a decade,” she declares), makes her extremely confident and knowledgeable about popular music, and there is much here that is both interesting and informative. But some of Smith’s material is disconcerting, such as defining people and events solely through the lens of pop music. Those who share similar tastes will enjoy the book; readers who don't will find the author aggravating (particularly while making sweeping generalizations about music she doesn't like) and boring.

Too many intricate details of Smith’s past relationships and boilerplate clichés (e.g., why she won't date a man who listens too often to The Smiths) make for an uneven collection of essays, ostensibly about music.