The First Collection... by Jessica Hopper

This expanded edition of Jessica Hopper's collection of music journalism remains an essential read

Book Review by Kristy Diaz | 01 Jul 2021
  • The First Collection...
Book title: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic: Revised and Expanded Edition
Author: Jessica Hopper

Originally published in 2015, The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic was an unrivalled masterclass in music journalism. The anthology documents Jessica Hopper’s two-decade career from self-started fanzines fuelled by righteous anger to becoming a heavyweight influence at major publications, pushing the envelope of what music writing could be without sacrificing a shred of integrity.

Through career-defining profiles of some of the world’s most prolific artists (Kendrick Lamar, Björk), deeply personal storytelling and dogged interrogation (including seminal essay Emo: Where The Girls Aren’t), Hopper observes and defines music culture through a resolutely feminist lens. Her writing is revelatory, unfaltering and underpinned by an expanse of cross-genre understanding. That's what makes it believable – only can someone of the culture critique it in the way Hopper does, her 'inextricable soul entanglement with music' embedded and evident in every beat. 

This revised and expanded edition adds several new dimensions. With a foreword by bestselling author and blogger Samantha Irby, the addition of more recent works and a carefully curated reordering, The First Collection... enters the turbulence of 2021 as furiously edifying as ever. It ends on a breathtaking afterword that proves, while this might not actually be the first collection of its type, for a generation of punks and radicals – especially those of marginalised genders fighting for their place in the world – it remains the most essential.

MCD X FSG Originals, 6 Jul, £12.75