A treasury and a place to meet people of all ages with various interests from all over the World
Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: How should an album be evaluated?  (Read 831 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Ovi

  • Global Moderator
  • A Thousand Pages
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 1092
  • Tonight, I'm a rock 'n' roll star.
How should an album be evaluated?
« on: June 19, 2012, 07:48:58 PM »

I found a Rate Your Music user who has this very weird voting criteria, which though trying to VERY objective, ends up more like robotic, in my opinion.

Here it is :
Catchiness, aesthetic appeal
Lyrics, topical focus and originality
Vocal expressiveness
Musical originality, creativity
Songwriting, movements, layering
Variation over the album
Structure, pacing and strength over the album
How does it compare to the canon?
Cover art
Personal bias

Each category gets a 1 to 5 rating.
I think some of those categories are really bizarre. Will you dock off a point from your favourite album just because it has a bad cover art? And how do you judge a cover art anyway? You end up almost analyzing pictures, rather than the music. And what about the "How does it compare to the canon?" ? Does it matter how the album stands among the band's previous work? But the voting system is terrible anyway, I'm not even going to get furtherer into analyzing it. (Vocal expressiveness - poor Miles Davis)

But what are the most important things to keep track of, when evaluating objectively an album, in everybody's opinion? Sure, there is the influence, the production, the song-writing, the lyrics, the accessibility and of course, its impact upon the listener and whether he likes it or not. But do other things matter? Like say... its structure. Can you knock off some points from an album if the songs' orders are not the one you consider it to be right? And what if, the album was supposed to be something different? Like in The Beach Boys story. Everybody was expecting SMiLE, but then 'Smiley Smile' came out. Can you knock the latter for not being the album you expected? After all, you can say that it could've been better if released that way. Just as you can say that a song would've been better if a different version of it would've been used. But what about others?

Hope any of these makes any sense whatsoever.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 07:55:53 PM by The 5th Beatle »
Logged
http://tangledupinmusic.wordpress.com - yet another music blog

Joost

  • That Means a Lot
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 5063
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 06:48:46 AM »

My only criterium:

Do I enjoy listening to it?
Yes -> good album
No -> bad album, or just not my cup of tea
Logged

tkitna

  • That Means a Lot
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 7028
  • I'm a Moondog,,,,,are you?
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 01:11:25 PM »

My only criterium:

Do I enjoy listening to it?
Yes -> good album
No -> bad album, or just not my cup of tea

Thats really all there is to it.

peterbell1

  • Getting Better
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 690
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2012, 08:58:25 PM »

My only criterium:

Do I enjoy listening to it?
Yes -> good album
No -> bad album, or just not my cup of tea

That approach works on a personal, subjective level - an opinion on whether or not YOU like an album.
But I suppose the method being proposed in the original post, which 5th Beatle has quoted, is attempting to be a bit more objective - so that you can give an album a rating which could be used by another person.
Obviously, there is always going to be some personal opinion and subjectivity in any review or rating system, but that "robotic" approach, as 5th Beatle puts it, might be useful for an outsider to come along and get a handle on an album before even hearing it.

So, things like "how does it compare to the canon" could be a useful pointer for an outside reader who knows some of a band's work but doesn't know the album under discussion - is it like their early work, for example, or is it the same as their last album?
Logged

nimrod

  • Guest
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 11:42:25 PM »

Here it is :
Catchiness, aesthetic appeal
Lyrics, topical focus and originality
Vocal expressiveness
Musical originality, creativity
Songwriting, movements, layering
Variation over the album
Structure, pacing and strength over the album
How does it compare to the canon?
Cover art
Personal bias



I actually think thats really good, it covers all points imo,
Logged

Joost

  • That Means a Lot
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 5063
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2012, 09:11:37 AM »

That approach works on a personal, subjective level - an opinion on whether or not YOU like an album.

Music (or any other art form) can't possibly be judged with a checklist. A good album is an album that sounds pleasant and interesting (which can be either from a personal or an objective point of view, or a combination of both) and any musician has a carte blanche on how to make one.

Catchiness, aesthetic appeal
That would make Britney Spears a much better artist than Radiohead.

Lyrics, topical focus and originality
Which would give a song like 'Love Me Do' something like zero stars on a scale of one to five?

Vocal expressiveness
Some music asks for vocal expressiveness, some music doesn't. Whatever works, works.

Musical originality, creativity
Which would make an album made with, say, pots, pans, twelve bass guitars each tuned in a low C and a motor saw as the lead instrument better than an album that sounds like it could've been a lost Beatles masterpiece.

Songwriting, movements, layering
"Songwriting" is entirely subjective. "Movements, layering" suggests that whoever made this checklist automatically rates a complex composition higher than a strong three chord pop tune, something I most certainly don't agree with.

Variation over the album
One word: Ramones.

Structure, pacing and strength over the album
Which raises the question if an album with 12 good songs is really by definition better than an album with, say, 8 excellent and 4 OK songs. Something I'm not sure I would agree with either.

How does it compare to the canon?
If you want to place an album in a context, that's fine. But I think that besides the canon you should also consider the musical environment (time and place). The early Beatles (or Beach Boys) albums for instance were weak compared to their later work, but excellent for the time they were released in.

Cover art
What does this have to do with the music?

Personal bias
Nice... Create a checklist to judge an album as objectively as possible and then close it with the most subjective criterium possible...
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 10:31:33 AM by Joost »
Logged

peterbell1

  • Getting Better
  • ***
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 690
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2012, 11:18:27 AM »

Music (or any other art form) can't possibly be judged with a checklist.

I totally agree with you.

But just taking your Britney Spears vs Radiohead argument a step further, even if Britney's album scores highly for catchiness it is likely to get a low score for the other categories, whereas Radiohead may not be so instantly accessible but an album of theirs will contain greater lyrical depth, more musical originality, a more dynamic approach across the whole record, and will doubtless have had a lot more thought gone into the cover art than the average Britney album.
So using that system (and I'm really generalizing here), the Britney album may get a rating of 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, and that would tell another person that this album is a lightweight pop album.
Radiohead, meanwhile, might be more like 1, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5. It will be obvious that it is an album to be enjoyed on a much deeper level.
The Beatles, of course, would score 5's across the board  ;D

But, just to reiterate here, I am just playing "devil's advocate" and I do agree that art is to be enjoyed subjectively and shouldn't be reduced to figures in a spreadsheet or whatever.  :)
Logged

nimrod

  • Guest
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2012, 11:37:07 PM »

I totally agree with you.

But just taking your Britney Spears vs Radiohead argument a step further, even if Britney's album scores highly for catchiness it is likely to get a low score for the other categories, whereas Radiohead may not be so instantly accessible but an album of theirs will contain greater lyrical depth, more musical originality, a more dynamic approach across the whole record, and will doubtless have had a lot more thought gone into the cover art than the average Britney album.
So using that system (and I'm really generalizing here), the Britney album may get a rating of 5, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, and that would tell another person that this album is a lightweight pop album.
Radiohead, meanwhile, might be more like 1, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5. It will be obvious that it is an album to be enjoyed on a much deeper level.
The Beatles, of course, would score 5's across the board  ;D

But, just to reiterate here, I am just playing "devil's advocate" and I do agree that art is to be enjoyed subjectively and shouldn't be reduced to figures in a spreadsheet or whatever.  :)

I agree with you Peter, thats a good post and says what I was thinking, as to you playing devils advocate, what were talking about here is not subjectivity ie not whether you like it or not, therefore to objectively rate an album one must look at it in different categories ........no unlike the list in the OP
I dont particularly like the idea of giving just stars out of 5 but maybe a few explanatory notes under each category and maybe a star rating as well.
If you were giving this review in some sort of publication I can think of worse ways to describe an album......maybe at the end giving your own opinion on it just as a by the by.
Logged

TomMo

  • A Beginning
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Gender: Male
  • Posts: 224
  • You Can't Do That
Re: How should an album be evaluated?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2012, 04:14:02 PM »

I found a Rate Your Music user who has this very weird voting criteria, which though trying to VERY objective, ends up more like robotic, in my opinion.


I agree with you on the "robotic" part. Delbert McClinton, who is often credited for teaching John Lennon some of the finer aspects of harmonica playing, once said: "There's only two kinds of music: Music you like and music you don't like."

When I evaluate an album, I go strictly by what I like or dislike about it, whatever criteria I myself may choose.
Logged
"Beware of soft shoe shufflers"
 

Page created in 1.28 seconds with 27 queries.