Ban These Words from Artist Bios

Over the years, I have, on occasion, been hired  by labels or managers to write (or ghost write) official bios for an artist. These are among the toughest writing assignments I’ve ever had.

Why?  Because it’s all been said before.  No matter what language I come up, it’s been said before by someone else about some other band.  It’s nearly impossible to find something original to say.

I’ve also read many official artist one-sheets where five hundred words are used to say absolutely nothing at all. It’s cliche after cliche and platitude after platitude using overly florid language that, in the end, signifies exactly jack shit.  

Writers at The Village Voice have read their share of these bios and obviously feel the same way.  This is why they’ve performed a vital public service in proposing that certain words and phrases be forevermore banished from the bio writers’ vocabulary. Here are but five.


  • Cathartic
  • Cinematic
  • Epic
  • Psych-[intesert term here]
  • Swirling synths


To this I’d like to add the following:


  • Bathed
  • Blissed-out
  • Brooding
  • Fuzzed-out
  • Miasmic


Anything else?



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Ban These Words from Artist Bios

  • March 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    How about "passion." Do we really have to hear about how passionate the artists is about music?

  • March 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    "fuses elements of…" followed by a list of 8 genres that the artist sounds nothing like.

  • March 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    "Epic" is useful to this reader as a warning sign. Oh, your songs go on for too long, do they? Thanks for the heads up.
    Finding a new approach to creating these things is a very tough challenge indeed, though. Band photos are worth another post all to themselves. "What'll it be, guys, the alley or the railroad tracks? Of COURSE it'll be black and white."

  • March 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    @Garnet… Ha! perfect description of the band photos..

  • March 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    How about banning the much over-used word "awesome" from spoken and written language in general?


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