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Thread: 4 Stars (or: The reviewing of art vs. the art of reviewing)

  1. #31
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    this thread has just reminded me but I take it everyone has seen the Paul Ross print on amazon?

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damien View Post
    I was pointed towards a recent Terrorizer article in which they previewed the most recent Morbid Angel album. Now this album is beyond terrible and has been universally panned.

    In this preview they gave glowing praise and made all the bad points of the album seem good ie the quotes I used above 'this band don't care what anyone thinks, they do what they want etc)

    This is clearly a case of either

    a/ a magazine being payed to praise a crap album

    b/ a magazine trying to double guess it's audience

    either way, I find this unforgivable and I am glad I stopped reading a long time ago
    Double guess its supposed market I think. They changed editor and any semblance of being an alternative metal mag went out the window, havent seen it in quite a while now.

  3. #33
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    The Gentle Art of Making Enemies by James Abbott McNeill Whistler is a great book and very pertinent to this discussion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_A...r#Ruskin_trial

  4. #34
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    Probably one of the worst reviews i've ever read! My favourite bit of this is when he name drops Source Direct in order to appear to have some credibility.

    I read interviews more than reviews to be honest - I often find reviews stop me hearing something without pre-conceptions, I know it shouldn't be like that but I can't help it sometimes!

  5. #35

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    i wouldn't read vice if i wanted informed opinion on anything....


    Going back to the original post I agree with a lot of it but i think your idea of a cliche is a bit off the mark. i'll give you the 'on acid' one because that is utterly useless, but 'if you like x then you'll like y'? that's a probably one of the most simple and effective ways of communicating to the reader the information they want/need - it's essentially just contextualisation...

    But if you actually meant that specific phrase 'if you like x...' then yeah you've got a point, but i think that would come under bad writing rather than bad reviewing

  6. #36

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    oh yea and i think gumdrops already said but 3 stars is the real average. you see 4 star reviews on every average movie's poster because every average movie has some generous reviews, for whatever reason.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by computer_rock View Post
    But if you actually meant that specific phrase 'if you like x...' then yeah you've got a point, but i think that would come under bad writing rather than bad reviewing
    I very much meant that specific phrase. I'm all for "this is comparable to..." (with justification as to why, of course) but just plucking the first vaguely similar example and saying "you'll like this too" is presumptuous and lazy.

    It's entirely possible that 3 stars is the average score given across all publications (it should be, certainly, if we assume a normal distribution, though as I've said upthread, very few publications use the entire range in any meaningful way and seem to mark from 3 upwards) but my point with the thread title is that '4 stars' is absolutely ubiquitous, quoted on every film poster, cd sleeve and book jacket. It is the visual short-hand for "not shit", in the eyes of the entertainment industry and public.

  8. #38
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    I'll be the radical one, then, and say, that it's not just the phrase 'if you like x...' which is problematic, but the whole point of basing a review on comparisons. A review should point out what is unique and original about a piece of art, not what is familiar and old. Yeah, it's an easy way to tell the reader what he wants to know, but the whole problem with reviews - and kinda everything in these consumerist times - is that they focus too much on giving people what they want as easily as possible. This is the opposite of everything art should do.
    Cynicism VII: Niall Ferguson and Pankaj Mishra: The Centrifugue

  9. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor XIII View Post
    I'll be the radical one, then, and say, that it's not just the phrase 'if you like x...' which is problematic, but the whole point of basing a review on comparisons. A review should point out what is unique and original about a piece of art, not what is familiar and old.
    I don't think comparison necessarily precludes identifying uniqueness. A thing's brilliance could be what was absent in something else...

  10. #40
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    You're right, good point. Yeah, just saying that 'comparisons' are problematic is too simplistic, often times reviewers do point out why this record is different from this other, mostly similar record, i.e. it being 'on acid'. But still, I would say that most comparisons used in reviews are used to point out similarities, and even when they actually point out differences, the point could have been made better by engaging more directly with the object under review.
    Cynicism VII: Niall Ferguson and Pankaj Mishra: The Centrifugue

  11. #41
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    "I'll be the radical one, then, and say, that it's not just the phrase 'if you like x...' which is problematic, but the whole point of basing a review on comparisons. A review should point out what is unique and original about a piece of art, not what is familiar and old."
    Of course, that relies on there being something brilliant and original about the art-work in question. Some might say that the increasing number of reviews that draw primarily on comparisons is inversely proportional to the number of original ideas you find in the average work these days.

  12. #42

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    The Gentle Art of Making Enemies by James Abbott McNeill Whistler is a great book and very pertinent to this discussion.
    As is Oscar Wilde's The Critic as Artist. And, come to think of it, Walter Pater's The Renaissance. I certainly used to keep these texts in mind when reviewing All Saints and Ultimate Handbag House CDs for Leeds Student paper.

  13. #43

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    Criticism only really raises its game when it believes it is at least as important as the work in question.

  14. #44
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    I hate to say it (on here especially) but most of the time I see a music review I'll go and listen to it first and then read after if I like it. If I cant find a way to hear it easily its generally not the number of stars or descriptions that help me guage whether i'll like it but the knowledge of the reviewers tastes compared to mine.. and the comparisons to other music.

    I do enjoy reading a well written review though, I think it'd be really interesting to do some data mining on the words used to try and describe a song. It seems that as more technology is involved descriptives almost get less abstract and more physical. From things like rich, fluid, lively, melanchony etc to sludge, metallic, cold, liquid.
    Last edited by muser; 06-09-2011 at 04:05 PM.

  15. #45
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    although I guess thats more to do with people trying to describe the pure sonics as opposed to the song. still its interesting how things can sound like unrelated physical objects or sensations. Its like a kind of universal synesthesia

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