The Method to the Madness: Album Ratings

2PM Grown Album

I’ve been one to avoid giving album ratings because I can’t ever make up mind about anything. I basically start second guessing myself like a maniac and wondering whether I’m too harsh or too lenient and getting stuck there. While I was writing up the reviews for Juniel and 2PM‘s latest releases, I went through a lot of thought about how to rate something such that it reflects the quality of the album, provides insight on whether someone should spend time listening to it, and is inclusive of my personal opinions and taste. Even though the eventual process is a bit arbitrary, I think it’s important for people to know why I rate albums the way I do before they go around and make assumptions.

Here is what I do when I go out to review an album:

  1. I find the album on YouTube.
  2. I listen to the WHOLE album.
  3. I go off and do other things.
  4. I listen to the album AGAIN.
  5. I start writing my review, while listening to each song AS I REVIEW it.
  6. I give a rating AFTER I write my review.

Number 6, 2, and 4 are key.  6 is important because I need to let the review dictate the rating, not the other way around. 2 is there to ensure that I base the majority of my opinion on the collective, not my opinions on any one song. 4 makes sure that I don’t let a first impression dictate what I write.


Now to the actual rating process:

I tend to have a particular perception of several rating ranges within the scale of 1 to 5. Ratings of 1-2.9 usually lead to people skipping the album or they go in expecting not so great things.  3-4 ish People will listen, coming into the album with the perception that it’s average or above average (3.9-4.4). 4.5-5 Tend to be reserved for truly exceptional albums.  (In retrospect, I might have pushed the 2PM album on the high end. But that’s okay).

First, I try to place the album in one of the aforementioned categories.  Then I take into account my perceptions of the album as a whole: How cohesive is the album? Does it go somewhere/have an end? Has the artist improved and/or evolved in his sound? Will all that in mind, I try to place the album within that particular range (and in the case of 2PM, this is what pushed the album up for me). Finally, I take into account the intangibles, like particular songs that I immensely liked or disliked.

At the very end, I write down the “objective” rating, and then mess around with the plus or minus .1 based simply on how I “feel” about the rating.  Once I subjectively am okay with the rating, I stop. If I keep hovering ad nauseum, then I just go with the so called “objective” rating. Honestly, this isn’t meant to be rocket science.

So to all of you Hottest (Those on Twitter, I see you!) who think that I was super nice for a Seoulbeats writer and only respect me and Seoulbeats because I gave a “high” rating to your bias, I’m not a happy writer.  I’d much rather you appreciate my comments on the album and not the rating itself.  Also, I wasn’t trying to be nice to 2PM…. wait, am I really that nice?  Oh gosh, maybe I should be tougher….LOL. No.

I write what I think folks, and that’s that.

(Images aren’t mine, and as usual, credits to respective owners!, JYP Entertaiment)


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