If there’s one thing that journalists within the dance music press know, it’s how to write a puff piece. It’s what most dance music journalism has been since the beginning of time, to be honest – but these publications were occasionally capable of dishing out criticism in the past.
The great irony is that they operate in a genre made possible by advances in technology – yet the dance music press have adapted to this digital age very badly. And what’s the result of all this? More puff pieces, more sponsored articles, and even less chance of seeing any decent journalism.
Therefore, if you’re looking for someone to identify if something is a puff piece, there are few better people to ask right now than Annabel Ross – truly the dance music press doyenne. This week, she managed to correctly identify that a Rolling Stone interview with DJ Khaled was journaliatic puffery – observing “there are zero hard questions asked” in it.
Ross comments that DJ Khaled – real name Khaled Mohammed Khaled – is one of the biggest DJs in the world with Palestinian heritage. She is correct in this – his parents were both Palestinians who’d emigrated to the USA. But given the ongoing Israeli-Gaza war, Ross wonders why Khaled has nothing to say on it in the subject…
Ross is, of course, being disingenuous here. Working in journalism, she would know full well that many of these puff piece interviews are recorded weeks, if not months, before they end up in printed publications. And even online, there can still be a long delay between conducting an interview and actually publishing it.
There’s also the fact that people, even in this overly opinionated day and age, are still entitled not to comment on matters if they so choose. As country music’s Dolly Parton said in a 2019 podcast, “I don’t do politics. I have too many fans on both sides of the fence. Of course, I have my opinion, but I learned years ago to keep my mouth shut about things.”.
So does Ross ask “hard questions” in her own interviews and her own articles? Regular readers will already know the answer to this question – but judging by her nauseatingly gushing review of Movement Festival in Detroit, the answer is an emphatic no.
It could have been an interesting article, but Ross somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – at no stage did she elaborate on what it was like to be back at Movement after allegedly being banned from the festival by Carl Craig the previous year.
But then again, Ears To The House has received categorical denials that Carl Craig was involved in the decision. So why does Ross choose to write in such sycophantic terms in her own job, yet brazenly demand that others in the same industry ask “hard questions”?
Part of that answer might lie in long-running suspicions that Ross is hoping to get into DJing herself – an accusation she has never denied. Back in July, she claimed that those accusing her of bias in her writing were “trolls”, and eloquently told them to “give me a f***ing break and eat a d**k”.
This kind of tirade does little to dispel such suspicions – but might something else be at work here? A dance music press source says “Annabel is a nice person, but is prone to having ideas above her skill set. She’d probably take a job with Rolling Stone if she was ever offered it, but I think she might have messed up her chances here.”.