The Rating System

March 7, 2009

This page is probably really boring. Even more boring than one of my reviews. But I need some sort of page to tell everyone what my rating system is! So, here it is. I shall tell you everything you wanted to know, and didn't want to know, about this 15-point rating system.

Other reviewers such as George Starostin and John McFerrin who use the 15-point scale do so to help determine overall “band ratings.” I, unfortunately, don't particularly care to give out overall band ratings, but I still wanted to use the 15-point scale instead of the much more common 10-point scale. Simply put, it allows me to very clearly distinguish between “good” albums, “mediocre” albums, and “bad” albums without having to resort to decimal points. (Of course, wanting to get away from decimal points is an extreme move away from my old rating system, which used so many decimal points that it was enough to drive one mad!)

The 15-point system is appealingly tidy. The bad albums are rated from 1-5, the mediocre albums are rated from 6-10, and the good albums are rated from 11-15. ...There's also the potential for an album to score a 0, but considering that I haven't even given out a '1' yet, I'm pretty sure the 0-scoring album is some sort of legend like Bigfoot or Lochness Monster. But, I shall continue the search!!! (Related: Does anyone have any of those albums Michael Bolton made in the '70s? Oh, how I would love to get my hands on those. ...Ah, but with my luck, I bet they're probably good.)

And now, for a more detailed breakdown of the scores:

15 – A great masterpiece
14 – A masterpiece
13 – A great album
12 – Brilliant
11 – Good
10 – Mostly good (I generally consider this the 'benchmark' rating)
9 – Flawed, but fair
8 – Mediocre
7 – Less than mediocre
6 – Could be worse
5 – Mostly bad
4 – Bad (when the process of reviewing has become quite literally 'painful')
3 – Very bad
2 – Excruciating
1 – Considering suicide
0 – The holy grail of BAD (80 percent of scholars agree that this album doesn't exist)

My old rating approach had a very methodological way about doing things... That is, I would average up the scores of my song reviews, and assign the overall album rating based on that average (while tinkering with that score by the use of the “artist rating” and “album tilt”). I still do that. The only difference is that I no longer publish these numbers! The reason I wanted to keep using that same methodology is simply to ensure that I'm evenly considering everything in the album before I assign it that ever-important number rating. It keeps it all fair and even-handed, I think. For example, if there's an album that has a good first half that would get an 11 on my scale and a terrible last half that would score a 7, it keeps me from reacting too negatively to the badness or too positively toward the goodness, and I would be very likely to give it a 9.

[Update 1-25-2010: Now, I would think this theoretical album would most likely earn a 10, especially if it has one or two songs on it that keep me going back. Awesomeness greatly outweighs mediocrity, even if the mediocrity is a little overwhelming. That's my new motto.]

You've probably also noticed that 15- and 14- rated albums are very hard to come by on this site. Obviously, that's a feature I inherited from George Starostin along with the rating system. (Alternately, if I adopted the same rating system that I did those movie reviews, there would be *A LOT* of albums on this site that received the highest rating possible. And that's no good!) This more selective rating system makes it pretty easy to immediately distinguish between the albums I like and the albums I **really** like.

I'll also note that I oftentimes will adopt different 'tones' in my reviews in albums that have received the same rating particularly in albums rated right around 9 or 10. That's simply because there are some not-so-talented artists whose average works typically score below that, and then there are the monstrously talented bands who typically release 12-scoring albums. Obviously, the tones are all out of relativity. I will concentrate on criticizing talented artists who should have known better, and I will praise not-so-talented artists who finally did something right. I do make an effort, however, of trying to make sure that all albums that receive a particular score are equal. ...Yes, I run into the whole “apples” and “oranges” thing, but my goal is to group the extremely good apples and the extremely good oranges together.

And lastly, I want to mention something about “objectivity.” Even though I do try to make some assessment at how well-crafted and well-composed songs are and there is some number-crunching involved in assigning the ratings, “objectivity” doesn't exist on this site. I generally try to be “fair” the best way that I know how to be, but these ratings are all based on my opinion. Really, anyone who writes reviews and claims to be objective is delusional.