Resident Advisor Axe Numerical Scores On Album Reviews
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  • Post published:20/05/2021
  • Post last modified:20/05/2021

Our taste in media is inherently subjective; the difficulties that come with writing about film, television and music raises the question – what makes a piece of media objectively good, and how can we score that piece of media on a numerical scale?

It makes sense to be able to focus on specific categories, mark off what we believe is the correct numerical value assigned to each property (ie. music production) and add it together to get a final result, however it’s also impossible to say that in marking a piece of media numerically, any of us are able to assign a number from a purely objective point of view; it is not unlike a critical evaluation like that of a professor marking an exam.

For specialists in the areas, the evidence of the objective quality of a film, or album may be clear; yet the critical nature of these numerical views assign an aura of objectivity that would be fair when marking an exam, but with the nuanced subjectivity of music – it can make the topic a lot more complicated; with opinion making more logical sense than that of numerical ratings.

Yesterday, on Monday September 2nd, reputable online music publication Resident Advisor announced that as a part of the developing changes to their music coverage, they will be axing numerical scores from their album reviews. In a statement, Resident Advisor have shared: 

Our reviews will still be opinionated and critical—in other words, they’ll still be reviews. The difference is that, without scores, they won’t claim to grade music.”

The focus placed on opinion-based reviews as opposed to ‘grading’ the quality of a record is definitely a positive move on the part of the publication, as with the nuances that come with reviewing albums are many. A writer’s approach to reviewing media remains as objective as is possible, especially when it comes to those who specialise in a specific field or genre, yet applying a numerical score has always been a debated subject within the creative realm.

This type of criticism is widespread amongst culture and media platforms, and although it makes sense in theory; giving readers an idea of what to expect, this type of criticism can be limiting, based on subjective views of what is objectively good. Remaining honest on part of the writer from both a subjective and objective standpoint allows full insight into their experience of the piece of media, conveying to readers what they can expect from an opinionated and educated point of view – but without claiming the standpoint is solely objective like that of the previously mentioned metaphorical professor; grading the quality of media based on an arbitrary set of requirements that are relative to publications and writers.

Read the original statement here.

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