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From Critics' Words To The Visual Music Review

Tyler-hayesBy freelance music writer Tyler Hayes (@thealbumproject).

We’re like the classic moth drawn to a flame. As humans we have a hard time resisting a new album review. We have to know whether a publication liked the music or not, whether they think the band has now gone too far away from their roots. We’re fickle people though and we also loath music reviews. We despise hearing cliché phrases to describe a guitar with a distortion pedal. The word “crunchy” can only be used so many times after all. Surrounded by Twitter, Instagram, and Vine, a mouth full of words is no longer suitable for describing music, it’s time to rethink the music review, again.

There’s several problems with reviews, of any kind, in general whether it be tech products or new music. You want to be first, you have to be first, but being first is the pitfall of any good review. Contrasted time is the killer feature missing from today’s reviews. Being able to initially review an album, have people see it, and then at any point later add a second reaction to the music on top of your existing thoughts could be a powerful and interesting thing.

So, here’s the visual music review.


Along the X axis you have the track names (or numbers) and along the Y axis you have a rating scale to 10.

The two items plotted out on the graph, the intensity and quality, serve to give an overview of the album. The intensity is essentially the song’s dynamics. Is it a fast song, a slow song, a heavy and gritty song done at a slower pace? These different scenarios can all be judged and then given an intensity rating. The quality is basically what you think of a track. Is it a good song, a bad song, or somewhere in the middle? All things that can be given a rating 1-10. When you’re done graphing out the view, I’ve found that you have a much better idea for what you really think of the music. As a whole you felt that you liked it, but half the songs are rated as a 4 in quality? You probably don’t like the music as much as you like the idea behind the album.

Of-monsters-men-my-head-animalAt a predetermined later date or just at some point when you go back and re-plot the quality of each song, you can instantly see how your initial reaction to the songs has held up over time.

Bringing the format of the music review into the current digital climate doesn’t change the pluses or minuses that come with different critics. You’re still going to have reviewers you think are biased or unfair to your favorite band, the difference is you’ll be able to spot it a lot quicker and more easily. Is the music review fixed? Probably not, but it just got a whole lot better.