Had a friend ask why I wasn’t assigning a grade on the reviews I was writing. It’s a fair question I suppose, which I thought I might share. The answer comes down to a few basic thoughts.
1) Reviews by their very nature are subjective. What I walk away with may be very different from what someone else does… and that’s cool! Honestly, I’ve never understood King Crimson, I find them indulgent. On the other hand I’ve had friends tell me they are genius. Still, it’s all just rock ‘n’ roll, and there’s room for everything at the table.
2) The question of why isn’t this an A+ or 10/10. Again, I’ll answer with “subjective” but with a little more context. I love the Posies Frosting On The Beater.
In my eyes it is an outstanding record. However, when I initially reviewed it back in 90 whatever, I gave it a B+ review in the Ontarion. Later when I interviewed them I was asked why. After a pause I answered…
“Well, it isn’t Sgt Peppers.”
What a dumbass answer! Let’s use a hockey analogy. Someone asks me why I don’t think Patrick Roy is the greatest goalie of all time and I answer with because he isn’t Wayne Gretzky (not a goalie), you would think I was both stupid and insane. Well creating a grade based on a comparison of those two records is not exactly the work of a genius.
Critics know that if they say everything is A+ that they will soon lose, or never have credibility. The same applies to negative reviews. However, if the criticism does its job properly, you’ll know what a reviewer thought without the need for a mark. So, if I think you should hear an album, you’ll read about it, and hopefully be intrigued enough to give it a spin and judge for yourself.
3) It’s a blog. My blog. If I’m working for a publication and they want a grade, fine – here’s a grade (And believe me, if you want to pay me to write for your publication – I’m available). However, a blog is basically a self publication where you make up your own rules – so, no grade. I’m still responsible to stand behind the words. If people have complaints, I’ll happily answer them, but I enjoy reviewing records without the marks, so that is just what I will do.
Now, as for The Posies… you should listen to them, they’re pure power-pop at its finest… and… well, I really want it on vinyl…
One thought on “B+ / 4 Stars / 8 out 10 / Green Light… whatever! or Why I Don’t Grade Records In My Reviews?”
I have found when reviewing for an editor, they’ll have a mark in mind and override my thoughts, so have often left the score blank. My words are my mark, I describe the record to give people a feel for it, not a score.