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Can music be rated objectively by critics?

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Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Rock Star 6
Rock Star 6

Do you think that albums can be rated objectively by music critics? And also as a related question, do you think that it’s possible to have “good” or “bad” taste in music? Feel free to share your thoughts!

 

Cheers!

TreyAnastasioRock Star 6
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Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Moderator
Moderator

@TreyAnastasio - not afraid to ask the big questions - love it!

 

I've actually been thinking a lot about this recently. The thing I'm not quite sure about is "negative" (or unfavourable) reviews. 

 

For example, when Maggie Rogers' debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, was released back in January 2019, there was, as can be expected, a mixture of reviews.

 

What I took issue with was the fact that critics were writing snotty reviews about a 20-something artist putting music out into the world for the first time (or at least their first major full-length release, so essentially their debut on the big stage).

 

I personally feel that critics need to be conscious of their responsibility as authoritative voices who are responsible for shaping the public narrative about artists and their work.

 

To go back to your question though, I would argue that "rate objectively" can't apply to music given the infinite ways in which a song can resonate with someone. For me it's an overwhelmingly subjective exercise, but one which, in my opinion, requires exercising care over how we treat and represent a life story which is arguably not ours to evaluate in the first place.

PS In case you were curious, you can find examples of the above-mentioned snotty reviews here and here. What do you guys think?

 

https://open.spotify.com/album/5AHWNPo3gllDmixgAoFru4

PeterModerator
 
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Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Rock Star 6
Rock Star 6

Thank you for your insightful reply, @Peter!

 

I agree that music cannot be rated objectively, since the musical elements that sound nice to a listener probably vary considerably among individuals. And while reviews can be honest and reflect the reviewer’s opinion of an album, they are also biased by the reviewer’s own musical preferences and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of everyone else who might listen to the album.

 

That’s a good point that you make about negative music reviews as well; my opinion is that it isn’t for the best for critics to write negative, snotty reviews of music (such as the reviews of Maggie Rogers’ debut album that you have linked in your reply), even if their feedback reflects their honest opinion. While the reviewer may not enjoy the album, it doesn’t mean that other listeners wouldn’t enjoy it, and critics could potentially harm the careers of musicians by writing negative, snobbish reviews. I think it would be better if critics chose to write reviews for albums that they enjoy, in particular; that way, artists wouldn't feel discouraged about their music after reading negative reviews of their work, and listeners who might enjoy the album wouldn't be dissuaded from listening to it after reading negative reviews of it, either.

 

Cheers!

TreyAnastasioRock Star 6
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Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Rock Star 18
Rock Star 18

Music criticism is.. mostly for seeking out potentially cool albums to listen to. I don't really know, I rarely care to read an album review and most of the time people reviewing say things I disagree with.

"Oh sod off, that was my favourite track!"

 

What you can rate quite objectively is how well it's produced, and if a track is successful at bringing on its meaning.
Pulling back from this again because I sometimes really can't figure out why people swoon over what sounds like bleeps and bloops to me.

(and then there's this Amon Tobin record that people call bleeps and bloops and I hear everything else on. Fair enough, here listeners were bothered. I didn't read critics' takes at that point.)

 

All I feel about music criticism is people reading about the album should listen to the album free of any foreign opinion and have their own look on the album. Whether they end up agreeing with the review or not is already up to the listener.

SebastyRock Star 18
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Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Rock Star 14
Rock Star 14

Wow, @TreyAnastasio this is a good one, quoting you  "I think it would be better if critics chose to write reviews for albums that they enjoy"  Recently I start reviewing some tracks for different platforms, and this is the approach that I have if I enjoy the track I review it if I don't just pass it (If you don't have anything good to say... is better that you don't say nothing at all).

 

I can't even think of saying something negative about an artist in a review and the only times that I do is talk directly to the artist and in a constructive way, for example, sometimes I listen to some tracks that the quality audio is really bad in that particular case I let the artist know that this is a real problem and that he has to work on but this is not about his art. 

 

Cheers!!!

 

 

JpgchiefRock Star 14
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Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Roadie
I understand that music is objective and everyone has different tastes. But then again there are loads of songs out there that are universally loved or reviled by many. I think it all just goes down to style, voice, theme, melody, and quality. You can clearly tell the difference between a toddler doing an ad hoc piano tune and a trained professional, for instance.

Re: Can music be rated objectively by critics?

Rock Star 18
Rock Star 18

I was reading posts in the Amon Tobin forum that has been long gone through Wayback machine (wonderful tool), and regarding reviews, the artist said:

"good or bad they usually say more about the reviewer than what's being reviewed.. so it's not to be taken too seriously."

 

...Which is quite true, isn't it?

SebastyRock Star 18
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