Can We Please Stop Using The Term PBR&B?

Can We Please Stop Using The Term PBR&B?

Truth be told, I wanted to write an article about the eye-roll inducing, writer-created “subgenre” of PBR&B (Pabst Blue Ribbon + R&B) the moment New York Mag gave it some credibility with this list last year. Thankfully, it seemed like folks had stopped throwing it around so easily and didn’t have a problem labeling the likes of the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Miguel, How to Dress Well, etc… as true R&B.

Much to my disappointment, I happened upon a Spin article earlier this week—it ran Aug. 22—that decided to give the confusing buzzword a second go. To be fair, it didn’t really receive much love by way of comments or social media shares, but it’s been referenced enough by writers on the mag’s site and other buzzword-loving writers that I felt it was finally my time to step in. Because let’s be real: when a big publication like Spin decides to rehash a term that pigeonholes new R&B acts like this, other sites will inevitably follow.

I’m all for trying to better explain music through the written language in the easiest way possible. I went to journalism school like plenty of other writers and learned that brevity is one of three essential elements of reporting. One of my favorite subgenre names ever is shoegaze because it’s devastatingly accurate for certain bands; i.e. My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive and the like. And relying on presumably antiquated terms like R&B to create “new” terms can be OK. When it works.

PBR&B doesn’t. At its core, it is simply a troll-esque new “subgenre” that does nothing more than marginalize the efforts of the aforementioned artists like the Weeknd and Frank ocean. It also tries way, way too hard to become a means of comparison to other acts. Sorry, Spin, but “Thinking ‘Bout You” sounds similar to Washed Out? That’s one hell of a stretch. Also, just because a decent amount of an artist’s fanbase happens to enjoy PBR and just might be heavy on the hipster mindset does not mean you need to generalize an artist’s entire body of work.

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  1. connor
    Dec 05, 2013 @ 21:40:00

    What about DearKarma???????????? DearKarma is a perfect example of someone that takes this genre and twists the fuck out of it!!! look him up on soundcloud or something

  2. Branson28
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:04:00

    You do know that even within popular genres like rap not all the artists sound the same? Lil Wayne sounds nothing like Tech N9ne but they’re both classified as rap. Frank Ocean sounds way more similar to The Weeknd than he does to say Trey Songz. Let people use whatever term they want for the genre of their choosing, and quit being a judgmental bastard looking for something to disapprove of. Its accurate enough, and is short and simple. Therefore, we have a winner.

  3. JohnRHealey
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 20:12:00


  4. JohnRHealey
    Aug 30, 2012 @ 20:11:00

    Oh god

  5. j*wavvy
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 17:42:00

    this has gone too far.

  6. Andrew Martin
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 14:36:00

    thank you

  7. HNH
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 14:23:00

    Hipster has become a buzzword. Meaning it has no meaning and is only used for blogs and to make asinine comparisons. Therefore, any subcategories created by “hipsters” have no meaning either. It’s a cycle. A cycle that needs to end in a violent death similar to Combo from “Breaking Bad”.

  8. Theodore Taylor
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 13:43:00

  9. Jimmy Hoover
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 13:32:00

    well said.

  10. Matt Siverson
    Aug 29, 2012 @ 13:09:00

    “Hipster” has gotten to a point where it doesn’t even mean anything anymore. To me, a hipster is someone who goes out of their way to be edgy or non-mainstream as a means to an “identity”. i.e. hating on something because it’s “mainstream”. Somewhere along the way people just started calling things they haven’t heard of as “hipster” and the term lost pretty much all meaning.


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