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Your word against theirs: critics or quacks?

Editorial Staff

How do you rate songs? Like exams?

Just how much attention do you guys pay to movie reviews, restaurant star ratings and your class rank? In my case, I usually check out movie ratings online before I go out to watch it, just to see whether I’m wasting my time or not. Critics, for the most part, have been pretty consistent with giving bad movies low ratings and good movies high ratings. I don’t care how “cool” you thought the special effects were but “The Last Airbender” definitely deserves its six percent approval rating from the critics of the movie review site RottenTomatoes. Movies can be scored based on their overall appearance.

Music reviews, though, are a much stickier surface to tread on. Music tastes run on a very broad spectrum. Also, it’s just harder to judge a four and a half minute song as good or bad because, unlike movies, the song really doesn’t have time for character development or have climaxes and beautiful scenery to distract the audience from the poor plot line. Songs give themselves up and we take it how it is.

I don’t get how you can rate a song on a scale of A to F as if we’re grading math papers in high school. Does a rating of A mean that you can listen to the song one hundred times but you gradually lower it to a C after you get tired of it? Would you give a song a D if it was sung in German and you didn’t understand German? What if you thought the German language just didn’t sound attractive; would you still give it a low grade even if you had no idea what it was about?

So what would a song have to do to get zero stars? For me, even if I popped it in the CD player and it sounded like a cat fight, I couldn’t give it an F because maybe that sounds good to someone else. But how does a song “fail”? Where’s the rubric sheet?

Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame sung quite sweetly, in my opinion, to the song “American Honey”, but an online music critic awarded her a D. No, she wasn’t run over by a bus halfway through the song and her voice didn’t let out an ungodly screech that resembled a duck getting stepped on. I thought the song was quite fine, but how do you grade it like you’re grading a French test? Minus ten points if you use the word “I” more than three times and another six points off if your duet lasts longer than forty five seconds? No, I don’t understand how you can rate music like you would rate anything else.

Sometimes I would watch a movie that I thought was great and go online to read some reviews. If the movie was poorly received by critics, I would always wonder why. With their comments in my conscience I would watch the movie again and sometimes realize that they were right. No, the plot isn’t developed enough. You’re right. Yes, the cinematography should have been more impressive considering the big budget. But can we have this attitude towards music? No. That would be too technical. You can’t take off points just because the snare drum in the background was too loud. I don’t think it should work that way. Rating music is not a perfect system but there has to be some way to improve it.

Do you agree with this writer’s viewpoint? Share your ideas by commenting below.

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