Reviews and Scoring

My review system is…a little weird. I really have issues with most scores; they don’t give as much information as most people would like, and they allow for too much gradation for perfectly awful stuff. Scores themselves are often frustrating, but they let me express my general feeling about the album/song/movie/video game/book/pizza despite my mood at the time I write the review. Still, I prefer something a little tighter-knit that has more outlined purposes, and I think it’d be good to share it as a post before I write any “reviews.”


My scoring system operates on a simple 1-5 scale, with no half-points, few exceptions, and some pretty basic descriptors. It’s also often a lot harder than what most review sites use, and is based less on “recommendations” and more on my personal evaluation. There’s a lot of gradation even within each score, so the text will always be more informative that the score. Here’s ROUGHLY what each means.


5 – A must-experience piece without compromise, either due to incredible ambition or quality. The kind of thing you should expect to see on a best-ever list, even if it’s never as high on the list as you think it should be. 5’s are a rare score, and so I haven’t necessarily given enough fives to give my own examples. Common album examples include Rumours, Thriller, The College Dropout.  Common movies would be Pulp Fiction, All The President’s Men, or Manhattan. And common games would be Uncharted 2, Shadow of the Colossus, or Journey.


4 – A quality experience that I think of highly. Though there might be bad songs, frustrating scenes, or a lack of cohesiveness, it’s absolutely commendable; there’s a good chance it’ll be one of the “best of the year.” I gave this score to Frank Ocean’s channel orange, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.d. city, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Secret of Monkey Island.


3 – A decent effort. It might be a disappointment, or it might be better than what you expected. “Genre fans” will maybe find it commendable, but in the general scheme, it’s kind of unremarkable. I gave this score to Lamb of God’s 2012 album, Gangster Squad, Sukiyaki Western Django, and Temple Run 2.


2 – Uninteresting. It’s usually not totally unpleasant. It’s either a failure to deliver on ambition or a complete lack of ambition whatsoever. At best, this score represents a failed experiment; at worst, it represents something totally polished and totally boring. I gave this score to Maroon 5’s “Overexposed,” Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, The Adjustment Bureau, and Half-Inch Heist.


1 – On fire. It’s something absolutely without merit. Very, very occasionally, this kind of thing might be “so bad it’s good” (a phenomenon for another day) but it’s really more about being totally dull. I’ve never given one. Examples include Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” and the film “About Cherry.”


I hope that serves as a moderately decent guide to start with. I’ll be writing reviews soon, so this’ll help people understand better. And, of course, some things might read like reviews but not carry a score, and my opinions on a piece may change over time even if the text never does.

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