Music critic: How well an underground rock group's recordings sell is no mark of that group's success as an undergro...

meisen on May 30, 2018


Can you diagram why A, C, D and E are wrong and B is right?

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Jessica-Killeen on January 22, 2019

Yes, can you diagram why A and D are wrong and why B is right? I was torn between a and d and do not understand why B is correct.

Ravi on February 13, 2019

@meisen and @Jessica-Killeen,

Great questions. The stimulus basically says that if an underground
rock group's recordings sell well, they might not necessarily be an
authentically underground group. However, if a recording of theirs
sells poorly, they may simply be really bad at music.

The argument is all about how success for an underground rock group is
defined. The argument makes the assumption that at least some of an
underground rock group's success is dependent upon remaining
underground (which is why the critic mentions why it isn't desirable
to have huge record sales), but it also says that it's also bad if the
record sales are in the toilet because then, just as if the records
sold too well, the band could be really bad and be unsuccessful at
being an underground rock band.

We have these concepts in the argument

sell well could mean popular

and sell poorly could mean really bad

and then unsuccessful at the end.

The problem with this argument is that it is simply assuming that if a
band sells really well (and is too trendy) or sells really poorly (and
is just really bad) then it's unsuccessful at being an underground
rock band. There is no conditional statement that links up popular and
bad with being unsuccessful. However, given how the music critic has
stated her points, we still have the possibility in either scenario
(being really trendy or being bad) that a band could still be
successful at being an underground rock back because the critic has
assumed that if a band is too trendy or really bad, then the band is

This question is essentially a strengthen with a sufficient premise
question. What we need is an answer choice that allows us to fill in
the critic's assumption that she's making in the argument. We need an
answer choice that bridges the gap between being a band that's too
trendy or really bad and that leading to the band being unsuccessful
as an underground rock band. In other words, we need to put in a
conditional statement that takes us from popular or bad and helps us
conclude unsuccessful.

popular or bad - >unsuccessful

Now that we have an idea of what we're looking for, let's look at the
answer choices.

(A) says, "If an underground rock group is successful as an
underground group, its recordings will sell neither especially well
nor especially poorly."

This can be diagrammed as

successful - >not sell well and not sell poorly

sell poorly or sell well - >unsuccessful

(A) has two problems. For one, "especially well" and "especially
poorly" could mean different things from "well" and "poorly," which
means this doesn't exactly match up with the stimulus. The bigger
problem, however, is that this answer choice is failing to link up
popular/trendy and bad with being unsuccessful, which is the link we
need. As it stands, the link (A) is making between selling really well
and selling really poorly would actually go against the critic's
conclusion because her conclusion says, "How well an underground rock
group's recordings sell is no mark of that group's success as an
underground group." If (A) were true, this conclusion wouldn't follow
because sales would be tied to the success of the group being
underground, and this goes against the critic's conclusion. We can get
rid of (A).

(B) says, "An underground rock group is unsuccessful as an underground
group if it is incompetent or if any of its music is too trendy to be
authentically underground, or both."

This can be diagrammed as

Incompetent (bad) or too trendy - ->unsuccessful

This is exactly what we're looking for. This answer choice gives us
the bridge we're looking for, which is the bridge from popular/trendy
and bad to unsuccessful. This is the bridge that is missing in the
critic's argument, and if we put (B) into the argument, the critic's
argument would be helped more than any of the other answer choices.
This answer choice matches our anticipated correct answer choice
almost exactly, so it's the correct choice. We can pick (B).

(C) says, "Whether an underground group's recordings meet criteria
that many underground musicians consider desirable is not a mark of
that group's success."

(C) links the portion of the stimulus that says, "Accordingly, many
underground musicians consider it desirable for a recording not to
sell well." But what about weak sales? What about incompetence? The
problem with this answer choice is that it doesn't link
incompetence/being bad and being popular/too trendy to being
unsuccessful. As a result, we can get rid of (C).

(D) says, "An underground rock group is successful as an underground
group if the group is competent but its recordings nonetheless do not
sell well."

(D) gives us one way that a group can be successful (being competent
and having poorly selling records), but the problem with (D) is that
it leaves open the possibility that incompetence or being really
trendy could still mean that a band is successful. Because it leaves
open these possibilities, it doesn't help the critic's conclusion at
all, so we can eliminate it.

(E) says, "For an underground rock group, competence and the creation
of authentically underground music are not in themselves marks of

The problem with (E) is that even if we accept it as true, this answer
choice doesn't help us link being popular/too trendy and being
bad/incompetent with being unsuccessful, which is the link we need to
help justify the critic's argument. As a result, (E) is incorrect.

Does this make sense? Let us know if you have any more questions!