InternetDJ Guide to Rating and Writing Song Reviews
This is the start of InternetDJ's guide to rating and writing song reviews. The intention here is to provide a base point for discussion and enhancement. Post your comments in this article and we will revise via collective wisdom.
The art of review rating takes a minute to comprehend, however, to truly become a master of the process you'll need to practice and thoroughly understand the subject matter under scrutiny. If you are not schooled in the subject, it is more difficult to accurately write a review or provide a rating, however, taste is subjective and judging the overall effectiveness of a song is possible regardless of the reviewer's experience.
When asked to rate a track (from 1-10) and provide a review based on your rating, take the following notions into consideration:
Relevance: How well does the track relate to other tracks within the genre? Does the overall sound measure up when compared with others? Is it memorable?
Presentation: How well is the song mastered? Is this a final product? Or on its way to finality? Do all the parts work together to present a finished piece? You may want to hold off on a final rating if the author is just putting up a work-in-progress song. More times than not, the artist just wants to get some information on a specific phrase or level-check.
Originality: Does the song use old samples, with no customization? Are the phrases "borrowed" from other tracks or have they been created from scratch? Many young producers get caught up in the technique of using electronic music tools, rather than the theory behind creating a song. As most composers would agree, a course on music theory will be the most helpful in developing a unique structure for a song. The old saying fits here, "you have to know the rules, in order to break them." When reviewing a track for originality, take note if the song fits into a known structure or if the author has taken formal ideas and expounded on them to develop something truly unique.
Correctness: Yes, there's something to say for whether a song has been constructed correctly. Specifically, if the songwriter intends the song to follow a consistent beat, does it keep the tempo throughout the song? Do the parts fit in time with each other? If the artist builds a chord progression, does it hit all the right keys? In some instances this is relative to the originality of the song, but the listener knows when something is just not right with the chords, the phrasing or the tempo.
Overall: Finally, the first-impression subjectivity of a group of listeners is generally correct. You just know if a song is "good" or if it doesn't cut the mustard. Like on those quizzes back in high school, does the track pass or fail. Think like a consumer. Thousands of songs are released each month only 10 make true hits. Is this track one of them? This answer should play into your rating, but should not totally dictate it.
When providing a rating for a track, take all of these points into consideration, and think about what a track should receive. Remember, reserve 9s and 10s to those tracks that TRULY DESERVE it, that should be played on radios throughout the world. Same goes for 1s and 2s. A "7" is a GOOD score.
When you write your review, you don't have to write a book for it to be effective; touch on the answers the above points might question. Most people would be thrilled that their track was considered GOOD by fellow producers. Giving everyone 9s and 10s is kind of embarassing, as it means your standards are pretty low and you really haven't taken the time to place the track in a firm spot given the entire spectrum of songs that are out there. Save your best ratings for the best tracks.
Examples of Strong Reviewers
This list is merely a tiny sample of the hundreds of great reviewers on this site. I can't include all of you, but you know who you are. Look to these examples to help in your review writing.
· Farace - Not only is he the #1 reviewer in quantity on InternetDJ, each review is thoughtful, to the point and very accurate. A master composer in his own right, Farace's commentary is welcome to many artists.
· Twelve652 - Twelve652 is another long-standing member with a wealth of composition and production experience along with critical mention under his belt. Look to Twelve652 for insight that others may miss.
· DJStino - Stino is a professional trance producer and is a wizard with music production. Stino is highly critical and highly accurate. Stino will tell you everything that's wrong with your piece with the purpose of extracting perfection from artists.
· Oceanseeker - Widely regarded as the most critical reviewer on InternetDJ, Oceanseeker will stop at nothing to tell you what you are doing wrong. If left unchecked, he will disassemble every second of your track and demand you fix it before re-uploading.
· Morningstar - Contrary to some of our other reviewers, M* concentrates on providing feedback and assistance for the strong aspects of a song, ensuring that the best is exemplfied in all. Many composers need to know that what they are producing actually works. M* is also a wizard of technology, he can debug any production problems artists may have.
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