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These are five rules I generally keep to when I am reviewing a music album, I was going to do ten, but I couldn't be bothered and could only think of five. I've written a lot of music album reviews since I've joined both Ciao and Dooyoo so I thought it was about time I started to share my own advice on how to write a music review. These five commandments are inspired by a small playlist that I've listed at the bottom, but hopefully I will explain them very well.
1) YOU'RE GOING TO READ JUST WHAT YOU SAW!
This first commandment is basically talking about reading. It is a good idea to read reviews before you write so you can gather ideas and understand the criteria of what an average person is looking for. We are all consumers so the rating will be different to each individual member. If you want to know what Dooyoo want to see in a review, then check the guidelines. But if you want to know what an individual wants to see in a review, it is best to ask them. You never know you might see it in their comments and profile.
If you are planning to review an album, it is important that you listen to the album before. It is useful to read other reviews of the same album you listened to. It doesn't matter weather you agree or disagree with their opinion, but overtime you should start to see if there's anything that people are missing out on or even some good words to use in your review. Now that you've done this, you can make your review as unique as possible.
2) KEEP THE CUSTOMERS SATISFIED!
The whole idea on this one is to keep the readers satisfied and make sure they click of your review, knowing that they have decided weather the music is right for them or not. There are many ways to keep the "customers" satisfied when they are reading this. Good grammar and spelling is one of them because it makes your work look more serious. I have yet to master this. However, one thing that everybody can do is research. Tell us a little bit about the artist. Are they famous? Where are they from? What kind of music do they make? What do you think of it?
Remember that this is a review and not a essay or a tweet, so don't beat yourself about the length. If you think your review is too short or long. We'll usually tell you if we think it's too short or too long. Showing that you've done research on this by giving the extra detail shows that you are very serious writer that really wants to help.
3) DO WHAT U LIKE!
The reason why people read music reviews is because they want to know if the music is any good or not. Your reviews can be the crucial decision of weather a consumer decides the buy the album or not. Some people like short reviews, some like it long and some like it in a special format. There are many formats that you can chose from. There are no right or wrong format, but people do have their own opinion on what is good and what is bad about music reviews.
Some of these formats include Track by Track, Structured Essay, Informal or Paragraphs + Track list. All good music reviews will take some time to do. You do not have to mention every track in an album, but can if you wish. The most important thing is to chose a format that's right for you. In my time of writing music reviews, I have gone through various formats and usually go with the flow.
4) SHOUT! SHOUT! LET IT ALL OUT!
This part is all about expressing yourself. You have to be honest when you're writing a music review. Even if you hate Justin Beiber, and you thought some of his songs were very good, you still have to say that. If you think Adele's music is the greatest gift from God, express it in your review for one of Adele's albums. If you think the album you are listening to is absolutely dreadful on all accounts, then say so.
5) GET THE BALANCE RIGHT!
It's nice to have a lot of information, such as tracklists, lyrics and a biography, but the most important thing is an opinion. If there isn't at least 150 words of pure opinion, then you might be in trouble. The high standards on this websites has rubbed off on our members and some of us will expect a lot higher than 150 words of pure opinion. Because opinion is the most important part of any review. If readers can't find an opinion in your review, then they can't be as optimistic as they could be cause everything counts in large amounts.
1. Perfect Day - Lou Reed
2. Keep The Customer Satisfied - Simon & Garfunkel
3. Do What U Like - Take That
4. Shout - Tears For Fears
5. Get The Balance Right - Depeche Mode
The record shows I took the blows And did it my way!
I used to do a lot of album reviews compared to reviews of everything else, to me they seemed the easiest to write, often pre-writing themselves to around 1600-2000 words just due to the simple fact theirs often a lot to write about. In more recent reviews about music (which I've not done a great deal of) I tried a different formula and yet still found myself wanting to go back to the original way I was doing it as it felt more complete than cutting corners. Everyone has their own desires in a review, what they expect to be there for a review to be useful, very useful, or even not useful, some people don't care how the band was formed, or how many previous records they've have, whilst others want to know everything. When writing I'm usually in the "I want to tell the reader everything, they can then pick out what they need to know", the idea you can write too much in a review of an album is a bit of a false truth, you can find yourself rambling at times but on the whole as long as it's on the subject matter you can't write enough.
This could be the start of something big
So to start an album review (or a live DVD/Concert review) introduce the band, this is the foundation to your review. Not everyone knows who most bands are, no matter how big a band is, someone won't know a great deal about them, so tell us who they are. Not just "Band A if from town C in Country B and have done X songs including D, E and F", but how they formed, the history of the bands success and member changes and any other routes. Often bands have some sort of funny story behind them or their name, so let the reader learn about that too, they already feel like they know what the band are like well before you get to the bulk of the review. Tell the reader of any other releases if possible or where they might have heard certain tracks (adverts? TV shows? Movies?) and whether the band have had any decently selling singles or albums.
This may seem like a lot of effort but it'll be rewarded when you look at the complete work. Think of this section as a length prologue.
The introduction then talks about the albums (or DVD/live tour) relevance, is it a modern record? An old one? A come back tour? A best of? Things like this may again seem trivial but to some readers they want to know that this is the fourth record the band has had under the EMI label and the 6th of their careers including the independent released debut LP. This helps set the stage for the bulk of your review.
Glaciers melting in the dead of night And the superstars sucked into the supermassive
The bulk of the review will be about the contents of the product, you've told them about the band and the album, now review the album, tell them your views on the product. This will take up the bulk of the review so this is where you put your time and effort in, this is the heavily opinion based section of the review so fill it with your own feelings.
This is where you review the product, with an album review there is 3 ways to go:
1-The easy route: This sees the writer reviewing the full album quickly mentioning maybe 3 songs and it looks like it's a churn job which the writer almost seeming like they couldn't be bothered.
2-The middle route: This sees the writer mentioning a few more songs, pointing to the low points and the high points of the product. This can some times looked like it was rushed, but for multiple CD collections this is usually the best idea, as some can feature in excess of 40 tracks (or in some cases more than 70). This review format works exceptionally well with longer albums, but with shorter albums it can seem a little bit underwhelming and incomplete.
3-The whole hog: This is the route I preferred, but by far the most time consuming of any of them, this often see a track by track review of the album with the writer focusing on break the album down to it's integral parts. Some readers don't like this and I acknowledge that, but are those the readers your review is aimed at? Personally when I review an album it's got to be aimed at perspective buyers the ones who want to know about every song on the album and any hidden tracks.
Which ever option you take you will alienate some readers, but remember this is the bulk of your review and where the time should be spent to make it thorough. Reviews for tracks including things like tempo, vocals, music and lyrics as well as length and if anyone else was used in the track? If someone is doing a song by song review, it can also be nice to add a bit on each song with just a line or two from that track so show how good the lyrics are.
Last night I had me a dream son The end of the world could be seen
The ending is the easiest part conclude on whether or not the album is worth purchasing, also whether it comes in different versions to the one you've reviewed what format it's available on and whether theirs any freebies. Whether the disk comes in a clever packaging, or multiple colours, or whether there's just a simple CD case staring back at you. If you remember to write your reviews like a story you'll find it easier to write a good one and lets remember all story's have a beginning a middle and an end. Don't skip the start or finish straight after the bulk of the review as readers want to know if it's worth buying. You might have loved every track but think it's a terrible purchase due to a re-release having more on it at the same price (the Jeff Buckley album "Grace" had the Anniversary and Legacy editions out at the same price about 4 months apart, one had 11 tracks, one had over 20...).
The most important thing however is that if you don't like it, tell them and tell them why, you don't need to tell someone they should buy something a good reviewer will review things they don't like as well as those they do.
For those interested in the lyrics used in this review:
The opening one is from "My Way", infamously sung by Frank Sinatra
The second one is from "This Could Be the Start of Something" by Steve Allen
The third one is from "Super Massive Black Hole" by Muse
The final one is from "The end of the world" by The Living End
The Script- The man that can't be moved The Script are an Irish band which play pop songs with meaningful words with catchy words and tune. The Song is based on a man waiting on a corner for his (partner) when a police officer telling him to move but then he said he is still waiting, for his (partner) people think he is broke (poor) but he is only broken hearted. This song is basically like a story being told but with a good beat and with great storyline. The singers have fantastic! voices and the song flows with the character's voice, the song ends with 'Im not gonna move' but the man is still waiting for is lover on the corner of a street in his tent and his blanket. This is fantastic song and either if you don't like pop songs don't worry this one is definitely for everone and is a magical land opening your mind to a story world of songs.
Jls has has teenage girls across the UK screaming and crying over this new boy band! Girls have been crushed into barriers and crippled by swarms of fans just to catch a glimpse of the stunning quartet.
The boys were very clever, scamming people 25 pounds to buy a jumper to show there 'love' of the four, but i can't say much about the people buying the jumpers, i have one myself.
Their new song, Beat Again, is the catchy tune of the moment. Combined with cheesy dance moves, JLS have made the song to listen to this summer. If you think that JLS will be just a 'One Hit Wonder' think again, they have plans for an album. Since we haven't heard a peep out of the winner of the X Factor, i believe coming second worked out best for the four boys.
Next year, i can imagine many, many boy bands auditioning for the competiton aspiring to be like JLS. However, if this album turns out to be as bad as Same Difference's the spotlight on JLS, may be dimmed out.
Im Yours and Mraz will be ours for a long time!
The music genius, Jason Mraz has releases his new song, 'Im Yours'. This song is a combination of Reggae and pop which is a great combination if all the Reggae/Pop songs are like Mraz's. With the background music of an african drum and Mraz's voice ,this song will be stunning everytime you hear it! You could never hate this song!
Jason Mraz's fantastic voice is clearly demonstrated in the upbeat and happy song. 'Im Yours' is popular with the young and old and it will stay like that for a while, as its gentle but great lyrics show Mraz tellinghis lover her is ALL hers (How lucky!)
The song makes me want to sing it everytime I hear it ! I can't wait for future songs for the wonderful Jason Mraz and I hope you can't either. And last;y, My ears are yours Mraz!!
At least with a music review you do not have to worry about revealing the ending like you do with a book or film rview however with music reviews some people fall into the trap of thinking that they have to review wvery single track on the album in excrutiating detail.
For me what I want to read in an album review is what are the highlights and lowlights of the whole album, what are the stand out tracks that really make you want to listen to the album again and again and whether there are any weak tracks or fillers. Then again if the album is rubbish some idea of why, after all I tend to assume that if you are reviewing it then you own the album and hence have purchased it because you like the artist or at least have heard one track you like.
If the album is by an established artist or band then drawing some comparisons with earlier work is always useful and of course some description of the style of music and range of influences is always helpful especially if it is an artist or band many people might not have heard about.
Finaly I like to read about whether the album has a long play value in that whether you think you will still want to listen to it 12 months down the line or will it be gathering dust on the shelf.
Of all the categories on this here opinion site, I tend to think that music reviews are probably the hardest to write. It's bizarre, really, when you think that there probably isn't a soul in the world who doesn't like and own some form of music. This is, perhaps, the problem. When the bored and penniless reviewer sits down to write something, he/she almost certainly sticks a CD on to listen to and has the startling brainwave that he/she could write a review of that very CD. It's downhill from there.
It's easy to describe how you relate to something you can see or touch. Everyone has a perception of what "orange plastic" might look like or indeed what "strong black coffee" might taste like. But when it comes to describing or relating to the sound of music, many reviewers seem to come unstuck. I couldn't profess to be an expert in this arena, but I know what I like, and more importantly what I DON'T like and I thought this might be just the slightest bit useful. Let's see.
Cards on the table, I don't like track-by-track music reviews. OK, that's an understatement. I HATE them. I don't mean to offend anyone, but just what purpose does the writer think this might fulfil? Few people review a book chapter by chapter, a film scene by scene or a theatre show act by act, so why this insistence on reviewing an album track by track by track? For me, it's lazy, ineffectual reviewing. It's reviewing by numbers. (I can say these things. I've written track-by-track reviews in the past and I know I was being lazy and shite.) There may be exceptions; I could foresee a case for this approach with a greatest hits collection, for example, whereby the relevance and history of the track might need to be explored. But even then, I think there are better ways to do it.
There's more opinion pollution to come, too. I don't see the point of quoting lyrics either. In small doses, this can add value, for example, if there is something particularly clever, funny or moving that demonstrates the songwriter's talents. Otherwise, it's just filler, often laid down as some kind of weird testament to the writer's admiration for the artist(s). I have to say that I'm not sure that many song-writers would be moved by endless passages of their lyrics simply being copied and pasted into a random website review. Nope, there's no value here, either.
Another firm un-favourite is opinion without justification. This isn't unique to music reviews, by any stretch of the imagination, but I would argue that it's more common here than anywhere. Passages like "I love this record so much, it's so totally cool and I could play it, like, totally every morning" may up your word count, but the attention ticker's going the other way. Dare I suggest that you point out why you like/dislike something so much? It's not hard. You could consider how the music makes you feel, for starters. "I love this record so much, it's so totally cool and I could play it, like, totally every morning. It's really energetic and fast and really lifts my mood" is already a bit of an improvement and all for the sake of ten more words.
So if these things are the kind of content that turns me off, what makes me switch on? Well, here are a few ideas.
I like to understand the relevance of something. Is this a new album or a classic? Was it an early or established release? Who produced it and was this out of the ordinary? Was this released at a crucial time in the artist's career? What RELEVANCE does this album have at the time you're writing the review?
I like to understand the COHERENCE of the album. How does it all hang together? Are we talking one or two top tracks or a complete disc of classics? If the artist was trying to say something does it work? (So if, for example, somebody is trying to appeal more to a certain market, how successful is this?) Sometimes, musicians have wacky moments where they indulge themselves terribly in something that's actually not terribly good. Is that the case here or is it groundbreaking and exciting? For greatest hits collections, I'm always keen to see what you think in terms of how complete the collection is or whether it's all a bit premature.
The EXPERIENCE of music is hugely important. How does this music make you feel? Are you uplifted or depressed? When would you listen to this music and who with? Can you stand a whole album or maybe a couple of selected tracks at a time? I often buy albums where five or six songs are probably enough; and that's fine for me, but some listeners want something a bit more substantial, a longer listening experience, if that makes sense. I do think there is merit in understanding any special attachment you may have to this music also. It's useful to know, for example, that this is your favourite album from your teenaged years. That might mean I won't connect to it in the same way, you see.
If it's something that makes you tick, the COMPETENCE of the music is relevant too. How skilful is this? Don't be tempted to start getting all technical if this isn't your field, though. It's perfectly acceptable to say things in your own terms. If the music sounds tinny, disjointed and badly arranged then say so; you don't need to talk about tone, pitch and rhythm if you're not comfortable with those terms.
In the absence of the track-by-track diatribe, I'd much rather hear about your favourite/least favourite songs. I'm not saying that you shouldn't mention individual tracks at all - far from it. I tend to think that if you can consider some particular highs and/or lows, your overall perception of the album is probably that bit more rounded and therefore more useful to a reviewer. Suggestions for improvement are totally relevant, too. What could the artist have done better? What would you like to see next time? Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that Madonna is driven by what she reads on Dooyoo, but it's all good stuff, right?
And so to the final taboo. Do you tell the audience the price and where you bought the CD from? My answer would probably be no. I can't see the point. Anyone who is even remotely web-savvy can go use a search engine the same as you or I and in a few months' time I'll bet the going rate has changed anyway. I wouldn't say this information was useless but it is timebound so don't lose too much sleep about it.
That's it, really. I guess the trouble is that music is quite a personal thing, which means that writing about it is quite a personal thing, too, which is fine. So what's the perfect music to accompany navel gazing then.........?
--HOW TO WRITE A GOOD MUSIC REVIEW--
This 'How To' section of articles caught my eye on the database and as I have just written my fifth music review I feel well qualified to have a little say on the subject;) I do love a review with no research needed. -
Well I think this is going to read more along the lines of: 'How 'I' Like To Write a Music Review' and I am certainly no seasoned expert on the subject. Though I have been lucky enough to have received Crowns on all five of them. I have only actually just started writing about music although it is something that I have a real passion for. My musical taste is very diverse and I like genres such as: folk, Indie, heavy Rock, Power Pop, Classical music and just about everything else in between. But please, no jazz! (Sorry Paul! ;) Any writing is bound to be more intense when you are writing about something that you are passionate about.
So you need to harness all that enthusiastic energy and remember that the review that you are about to write about band or singer 'X', may not be known to the actual reader. So the first thing that needs to be done I feel, is to hone your knowledge of the Artist into a short, catchy opening paragraph to explain who the band/singer is; their style, influences, and a short history of previous or last releases, so that the reader, who may not know the first thing about the band learns a little more, before you begin the body of your review. It is also useful as you may want to draw comparisons between albums.-
I also like to include the line-up of the band with the respective instruments that they play. It just seems to complete the picture a little, before you launch into the album review. So the scene is set now and ready for you to go on to describe the album. Now everyone has a different writing style and also different ideas on how a review should be laid out. So I feel there is no right or wrong way of how to structure the review. It's up to personal choice really and what shape you want your review to be. The first time I wrote a music review I had the album playing and I just wrote down my observations on each track as it was playing, which turned out to be a bit messy. So I started again and played one track at a time and I took written notes which I then structured into a paragraph for each song that I listened to.
I know which tracks I want to write about after listening to the whole CD first. For one reason or another some tracks just seem to stand out for me as warranting a bit more of a mention than others. So after I have chosen about six which I feel are the ones I want to review, to give a good taster of the album, I set about describing each track. I don't personally like or believe in 'Track Listing'. That is a matter for personal choice though. You don't get a Track Listing in a professional music review such as: NME or Kerrang, it simply isn't necessary. But as I said, personal choice and some people prefer to have one. -
For the non musical person out there this can be quite a difficult task. There are certain terms and expressions that are used in music that only the experienced music reviewer will know. Terms that relate to the tempo, volume and mood of the music that can be very hard for the layman to describe. There are also terms for the sounds that the different musical instruments make, guitars, drums and keyboard, voice etc and each one has expressions that are used, that well describe the sound they are making. Drums crashing, guitar riffs, falsetto, etc and I don't know most of these and I think that this is something that you pick up as you go along.
If you're really keen you can always research musical terms or look at someone who specialises in music reviews on the site. See what descriptions they use. They write consistently and well and they also know what they are talking about and are a very good source of knowledge. These technical descriptive words and terms add to the useful value of a review for the consumer. It isn't enough to say I really like this band/artist, and their music is brilliant. This will mean something to you, but won't convey anything at all to the consumer. You have to elaborate as to why you think their music is brilliant, what makes it so and what sound the artist is producing. Also what mood is being conveyed through the music? Does it make you feel happy, sad, inspired or elated? All these things will help the consumer to make up their mind if the band/artist and album is one for them. -
Last but not least and one of the most important things I think is the title of your review. I always choose the title for any of my reviews last. Because I usually find that after writing about the product that a title springs out at me from my words. Sometimes though this does not happen and this is usually if the product isn't at all inspiring and then I will just use the product name, or in this case, the album title. But with so many title tracks, you could just choose the title of one of those, or play with the words of a track title. There are some great titles which make for a very arresting review header. Titles should be eye catching so that the reader will want to read on and your opening paragraph should reel them in. Make it strong or it won't get read at all.
Writing a music review is a bit technical but if you're passionate enough, and you picture your reader as someone who knows nothing about the band/artist and album you are about to describe, then your writing should make the artist and album shine through your words. Music is such a huge part of culture and everyday lives that writing about it I find is such a positive experience. I really enjoy writing a music review and find it a huge challenge after 'Products' and 'Films' and far more enjoyable.-
Thank you for reading
Ill get this out of the way right at the start: I like music, a lot. I have more than 600 CDs, which is far more than any human could ever hope to need. Im always listening to music, whether Im eating, sleeping, showering or writing a How to Write a Good Music Review review to the strains of some proggy overture or other.
Dooyoos Music category is nowhere near as busy or popular as the other entertainment-based categories Movies and Books, as its a little intimidating to attempt to communicate sounds the reader may never hear through a bunch of well-chosen words. Music reviews therefore have to rely, to an extent, on comparison: name-drop similar artists or influences, and have faith in the readers knowledge of what an acoustic guitar or flute sounds like, and this problem shouldnt be too much of an issue. Thats my first tip. Welcome.
The vast majority of my reviews on this site have been album reviews, something that the product suggestion facility has been most excellent for, and I was even Dooyoos music guide for some time during 2004 before the guilt of awarding myself crowns meant I wasnt earning quite so much. Im not saying Im the best at writing music reviews, thats for other people to say. But I clearly am. Only joking, there are loads of great writers on here, some who focus on music prominently, and others who dip in occasionally to give their opinion on loved or loathed records. At least I have the credentials.
The music I like wont be to everyones taste, but is at least characterised by a general devotion and skilfulness by the musicians involved in creating something worthwhile and new. I hate repetitive, soulless, conveyer-belt approaches to music that do nothing to push genres forward and are aimed solely at lining the artists pockets. That said, here is Frankingsteins mechanical process that must be followed to write a great music review and bring home those Dooyoo miles. Repeat these steps ad infinitum, and you can churn out crown-worthy reviews in the Music category for ever more.
Musical taste is subjective, and music reviews are too. But this individuality only benefits music reviews, which will focus heavily on the writers personal response to the album / artist / live performance being reviewed. This makes it easier to write a personalised review that will, hopefully, be more entertaining to read and write, as well as detailed enough to give a clear indication of what the music sounds like in a solely visual medium.
Pre-Production Step 1: Locate & Enthuse
Starting a music review is the same as writing anything else on Dooyoo: you locate the product on the site that you wish to write about, and go at it. This may be a recently heard album or old favourite you fancy a crack at, or even just something you know fairly well and feel you might as well write about as nothing else is tickling your pickle in the other categories at the moment. Enthusiasm, either commending or condemning the music, always leads to better reviews.
As with all categories, the more popular products will likely attain more reads, as more people will be genuinely interested in reading about something they either know or wish to investigate, but being damned to obscure musical taste doesnt mean no one will read your reviews. In the end, it doesnt make too great a difference whether you like Disney soundtracks, house, or funeral doom metal, and if you write a great review on anything it will be instantly crown worthy.
Pre-production Step 2: Listen & Contemplate
This step isnt always necessary, it depends on your familiarity with the music. Just as its easy to write about King Kong weeks after seeing it, you can write about a Queen album if youve heard it enough times and know the songs. Of course, reviews of gigs can only be done this way. However, if its something you dont know well, or is new and perhaps demands a second listen, its always useful to give albums a more objective listen, and to think about what youre going to say in the review. Any particular touches that stand out make for more entertaining reviews, for example the studio glitches that led to a Beatles song and a ringing phone in nearby studios ending up audible on Pink Floyd and CKY albums respectively. This step doesnt need to be tedious, and can even be performed while writing the review itself, if youre confident enough in your ability to keep up.
WRITING THE REVIEW
Step 1: Introduction
Theres no need for music reviews to follow a set pattern, but somewhere down the line I fell into something of a routine, based largely on appropriateness and a little on laziness. All good music reviews seek to enlighten the reader right from the start with a general synopsis of what the album sounds like, again through the method of comparison, and I also like to locate albums specifically within the discography of the band or artist Im writing about. This makes it clear that fans of Bowies commercial disco period wont automatically enjoy some of his more experimental offerings of the 1990s, and situates music within its historical context also.
Any and all music facts and personal musings are welcome in the introduction, which can sum up the review that follows or just whet appetites. Its best not to burden readers with things like specific song titles at this stage, unless its a simple statement that a popular single appear on the album. I regularly include information on band members, musical style, interesting general features and any personal grievances I have with the production.
Step 2: The Music Proper
The bulk of album reviews needs to describe the music on the CD, and this can be done in numerous ways. Its important to give an impression of the album as a whole, including any songs that dont stand out as much making sure to mention this fact and not just the most notable tracks.
Perhaps the most debated feature of music reviews is whether track-by-track accounts are necessary. They arent. It can get incredibly tedious both reading and writing a review that details track 1, then track 2 and so on for twelve songs, as although this strives to reproduce the experience of the listener, it doesnt give the best impression of the album, and as such is a little lazy. I do like to give details of all track titles.
What I tend to do is group songs together (assuming there are enough of them) and cover these like-minded tracks together in a paragraph. I group them either by their style, e.g. slow ballads versus fast-paced rockers, or simply according to their originality. Such grouping prevents repetition of another average song as such points can be used in an umbrella fashion, leaving more time to rate the songs against each other.
Everything thats important to the writer about the music needs to be discussed here, if only briefly, and this should always lead to acceptable review lengths. As most of the music I review prides itself on technical accomplishment and experimentation, this is what I tend to focus on predominantly, but I also try to suggest the most approachable songs for interested readers. If the music you review is more focused on the lyrics, or they are of particular importance to you, you have free reign in either quoting directly or explaining the lyrical themes. Aim to talk about everything, but only as far reader patience permits.
Step 3: Conclusion
Not as necessary as the introduction, especially as the conclusion can deal with the same issues. As the conclusion follows the detailed discussion of the music itself, theres more freedom to pin-point specific aspects, songs or musicians. Again, I like to compare albums to other releases (if there are any) by bands to see how they measure up, for whatever reasons, and bands or artists can be compared to their contemporaries or influences.
As the conclusion is a summing up, its helpful to indicate the move away from discussing the album (step 2) with an opening conclusion line that indicates the review has moved on and is about to end. A double paragraph break or other form of line break can also help, depending on your disposition, and I tend to refer back to album titles, for some reason, in making the transition more obvious. Recent examples include: The Delicate Sound of Thunder is an acceptable live album; Selling England is very nearly a concept album; Lizard was an overlooked King Crimson album right from the start and If Master of Reality is let down in one area
GO YE FORTH AND SPIN YE SOME CDS
There, in far more detail than may be strictly necessary, are my tips for writing successful and entertaining reviews in one of Dooyoos overlooked categories, and my personal favourite. If I remember any more as I continue to write music reviews, Ill add them to this review in the future, and may look over this review retrospectively with a How to Write a How to Write a Good Music Review Review review. I probably shant bother though.
Dooyoos current music guides read all of the reviews posted and Ive seen them make consistently sound judgements on crown worthiness. Similarly, review readers seem to have no trouble rating reviews in this category as fairly as elsewhere. Many of the same rules apply across the site, but there are a few issues due to the restrictive format involved when writing on CDs, live shows and artists / bands.
All comments would be welcome, especially if you have alternate views to my tripartite review structure. This is merely my method for writing reviews that I enjoy using and find the most helpful, and has led to a lot of nice crowns over the past two years.
I hope you look forward to reading more over-enthusiastic reviews from my (soulful) conveyer belt in the future. Enthusiasm is the key. Goodbye my friends.
I thought that it was about time that I put some of my thoughts down regarding the writing of one category of review. Those that know me will be aware that music is one of life's great passions and writing reviews on the subject one part of this. I have found that, like many things in life, music reviews are easy to do, but doing them well takes a lot of thought and effort, and for every good writer there are ten who seem to be missing the point of what is needed in the art of communicating musical ideas via the written page. It also seems that those ten all seem to be writing somewhat helpful Green Day reviews. I'm not writing this from some sort of self-established ivory tower, I am no more an expert than any other passionate musophile (my spellchecker says that's not a real word but then what would a machine know about music?). This is in no way meant to be a carved in stone guide or "how to
" article, as that would just be condescending, its just a few thoughts and ideas from the experience of someone who has been around here a little while. Feel free to disagree and comment to that affect but hopefully it will prove some help to some of you, maybe the newer members, and if nothing else will fill an hour or so before its time to watch Underworld and like any red blooded male, I'm a sucker for Kate Beckinsale in skin tight leather and eyeliner. Still enough of the male fantasies and strike up the band.
Firstly a word about what we are trying to achieve here. First a definition. By music reviews I am strictly referring to recorded music as in CD (that's albums, records, vinyl or even fab' and groovy waxings, to us oldies) and not instruments or videos, though some of what follows is not entirely irrelevant to those either. I will also be using the word band to cover the subject artist, but this is because I work primarily in contemporary band orientated music, the term band can be interchanged with what ever word is more appropriate in your own mind, be it singer, rapper, diva etc. Unlike many of the products that are reviewed here, music is more than a physical product. Washing machines, cars and Hi-Fi's all are pretty much purely practical devices, press a button, and get a response and so on. Music on the other hand exists on more than one level. Whilst as a product a CD can be referred to as facts and figures, names and titles, to me it exists more on a cerebral and emotional level than anywhere else. Music moves people, makes them feel happy, sad, energetic, mournful, silly, serious and every emotion in between. A helpful and honest review needs to convey this as much as, if not more so than, who played what instrument and how many awards the band or artist has won.
You should always make the general assumption that the reader knows little or nothing about the band and CD in question, even with artists as ubiquitous as Madonna, as established as Tom Jones and as over-hyped as Mariah Carey many people reading the review will be totally in the dark regarding the named person, that is after all why they are reading the review. Whether its Aunty Maud trying to find the right present for young Timmy or a serious music fan following up on a single that caught their ear on the radio, a review should be a comprehensive guide to all facets of the product at hand. Writing such lines as "I won't go into detail as there are lots of other reviews that cover that ground" automatically makes your review redundant in favour of someone else's work and also a total cop out.
So things to consider. The first decision is the title, this is not as frivolous as it seems. Like judging a book by a cover (we all do it) a title can catch a readers attention. Just listing the album title is okay at best but shows little imagination and I for one will assume that the review itself will continue in a similar unimaginative manner and therefore probably not read it. Similarly "My (insert name) Review", " My First Review" and "Great Band" all smack of a thirteen year olds schoolbook report. If you are a thirteen year old then that is still no excuse as in the real world there is no allowance for age, if a review is childish and uninformative people will lose no time in telling you. One trick that I found useful is to quote an interesting line from the lyrics or steal a quote from a professional review. You may have something suitable of your own creation, which obviously the best way to do it, short, snappy and easily quotable will sum up the very best title.
Right, so assuming that we have got their attention with a clever headline and we are going to assume that the reader knows nothing about the album its on to the review. Before we launch headlong into the tracks themselves, opening up with a bit of background is always a good idea. There are loads of angles of attack here. If this is an established band or act, a potted history is a useful start. Is there a connection with other bands; is this the first album, what is the bands style, attitude or political outlook? No need to go into too much detail as you will be able to work in loads of interesting stuff as you get stuck in, but a paragraph to set a background is always good. I've read so many reviews where the writer is so passionate and eager to write about their favourite band that they forget I may know nothing about them and even after reading the whole piece I still have no idea what they would sound like. So the scene is set, the reader has a general idea of the style, knows a bit about their history, previous albums and the fact that although they sing with American accents they are actually from Newport Pagnell. Ok now the fun bit, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war err sorry . I mean time to get stuck in.
On to the big one, the subject that causes more arguments than anything else in the music reviewer's world, Track Listings. I see these as a necessary evil and there are two basic approaches. Many people like to see a track list but when it accounts for half of your review then it is clearly padding, a cut and paste cop out if ever there was one. If you wish to then list the tracks at the end of the review but in no way do it just to up the word count. Consider this to be additional information in the same way that you would list the lesser cast of a film or the various performance data of a computer. The approach that I prefer is to work the titles into the body of the text, describing the nature of each and using selected tracks to emphasis the various aspects of the band.
When it comes to describing the music you can really let your imagination fly. I always play the track I'm working on as I write, this allows me to funnel the feelings invoked by the music onto the written page. I always try to mix some pure description, what the instruments are actually doing and how they sound with some less tangible ideas such as mood, feeling and what they may be trying to say musically, how the instruments work together and even what other music comes to mind as a comparison. Mention the rhythms, the beat and if you know about these things time signatures, most people can tell a waltz time from a straight four to the bar timing. Things that you should avoid are the likes of "this is really catchy" and "this is my favourite" which are really meaningless as far as a reader is concerned. One thing I hate to read are reviews that start with "this is the best album ever" as again this is meaningless as well as amateurish and you will find that some people start any number of reviews with the same exclusive statement thus showing a lack of originality on their part. Also be careful of the language style that you use. Just because you are reviewing the latest bad-boy gangster rapper, doesn't mean that you need to adopt the language. "Well wicked break beats","shoe-gazing" or "bootylicious" may mean something to those in the know, but remember that you are writing for a wide audience and if anyone writes in "txt spk" I'll personally come round there and kick over your garden gnomes, let that be a warning.
Lyrics are often over looked and have a wealth of meaning that can be discussed. What should be avoided is just cut and pasting whole reams of words from the bands web site. A few lines that capture the essence of the work is good but this is another opportunity for the lazy writer to pad out the review. Whereas the words are easier to convey to the reader, the instrumentation is not so easy. You will develop a language of your own which at once describes the music but also does so in a suitably musical way. For example, music that gets louder and quieter is "building dynamic" or "reaching a crescendo before dying away", similarly quiet backing vocals are "wistful harmonic accompaniment" and surely when a song really kicks in its creating "a soaring soundscape of white noise".
As I said in the opening this is just my view on what I want to read in a review. It will not be everyone's cup of java, and many people probably see my own efforts as being overblown and verbose. The point I'm making here is that music is best described in fluid musical language and should cover a whole overview of the product. I don't want to know that rapper X has been shot four hundred and seventy nine times or that the band are "well cool", I want to know how the music will make me feel and what its trying to convey. So no more comments like "this is a nice song" or "this is the best band ever" I want your music to really talk to my head and my heart and not just be a series of statistics..So it's over to you.
Just as a foot note and reinforcing the idea that these are just one persons thoughts, do read the comments below as many emminent writers have also left their views on the matter. Consider it an interactive attachment to my review and please add your own ideas. Also both the associated forums have posted threads which cover this area recently, so have a look at those if you need any further pointers, a guide will be able to show you where they are located.
My regular readers will know I write a lot of music opinions. Well, I do have over 250 albums to review you know (I?m not joking when I say I buy one a week!). I?m not sure I?m best qualified to write this, after all, only three of my album reviews have ever received crowns. That said, I don?t tend to write them for crowns these days, as I think it?s probably too much effort(!) and I have had several other music crowns (gig reviews, festivals and band in general ? sadly no longer eligible). Most of this opinion will focus on album reviews, but I?ll have a word to say on band in general and lives at the end. (Note: obviously all the normal advice, such as good spelling, applies too) The first thing to do, of course, is pick an album. Ideally it should be one you own ? reviews of ?what I heard round my friend?s are likely to be poor. I tend to pick ones I?ve listened to quite a bit and know fairly well, but obviously if you?re reviewing a new release you may not know it so well. In this case, I think a couple of careful listens (taking notes) should be enough basis for a review, but beware songs that grow on you (or vice versa)! When writing the review I think there are two obvious places to begin. Either with a bit of general info about the band ? e.g. ?Foo Fighters are a band formed by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl after Nivana?s split. Their first album was a bit raw, but they?ve become increasingly poppy and this one??. Or start with some personal experience of the band ? e.g. ?Cyclefly were the first band I ever saw live, and loving their first album ?Generation Sap? I bought their second straight away because I knew I was going to see them live again?, or ?As a fan of Weezer and Blink 182, my friend recommended Bowling For Soup?s new album and??. You see all these introductions not only lead into your opinion, but also give information on the band, such as the type of person they might appeal to. This is something I think is negl
ected in many reviews. In the old days one of the questions Dooyoo asked at the end was something along the lines of ?buy this album if you like?? and I think that?s a good idea to include in your review. Take for example: ?I think this is a really good album. The first song?s a bit of a rockier number, that will have people dancing. The second song?s a love song, and the third?s a ballad about [lead singer] missing his girlfriend when he?s away on tour?? An opinion like this tells you a bit about each song on the album, but it isn?t Very Useful in my opinion ? it could be about anything from Westlife to Metallica! Far more useful would be ?Westlife are a slushy boy band. You might like their music if you like Boyzone or Take That. Or just if you?re deaf but like good looking guys.? It doesn?t give you so much detail about the songs, but is far more helpful in making a purchasing decision about the album. After all, I?m not going to make my decision on whether or not track three?s a ballad? Admittedly the temptation is to concentrate on the album, since that?s what you?re reviewing. But don?t forget, the album is by a group, and that?s what I feel is missing in many music opinions. Speaking personally, I most often use reviews when it comes to groups that are new to me. If it?s a new album from Machine Head or Nine Inch Nails I?ll probably buy it anyway, or at least make my decision on hearing a few tracks. It?s when I hear ?album xxx is really good? but don?t know the group that I?m more likely to look for details in reviews. Even when I do know the group well, providing information on your view is still important. For example, I have Silverchair?s first three albums, and I?m interested in knowing whether fourth album Diorama is worth getting. I?ve heard mixed reports. If you begin your review ?I?ve followed Silverchair since their Bleach-esque grungey debut ?Frogstomp?. I was disappointed with ?Neon Ballroom?, but bought ?Dioram
a? anyway hoping for a change. Unfortunately I believe the band have continued down the wrong path?? then that tells me one thing. Conversely you might say ?I never liked the old Silverchair, I thought they were too raw and heavy. I heard a few songs from ?Neon Ballroom? which sounded more mature though, so I took a chance on buying their new album and like it quite a lot??. Giving your overview of a band?s care can be very useful, as it establishes a context for your review, and sets out what it is you like from the start. This is far more useful, in my opinion, than simply trying to review an album in isolation. The next question is how to deal with the album itself. I think the first genuinely Very Useful opinion I wrote on Dooyoo was on Machine Head?s ?Burning Red?. It was an album I loved (and still love) so I did it track by track ? thinking ?this?ll be great, a crown surely?. It turned out, of course, that I?d merely reached the required standard for most album reviews! After seeing that track by track reviews seemed to be the norm, this was the style I adopted (and, incidentally, all three of my album crowns came for reviews featuring track by track reviews). I soon grew tired though ? track by track reviews seem rather formulaic to me ? a good easy way for a beginner, but they can be dissatisfying to write and to read. I?ve since adapted my style, so it focuses more on general comments about the group and album, and is generally considerably shorter. It doesn?t look like this is ever going to win any crowns, but produces what I feel are genuinely VU opinions, without having to write 1,000 words plus! The best format probably combines the two approaches. I?d say an ideal is a lengthy introduction and/or outro which describes the band and album, coupled with a decent track by track commentary. For prime examples, I?d recommend miriamb?s recent op on Spiritualized or just about anything by dreamerz (note how not breaking the tracks into headi
ngs aids the flow ? it?s up to you which approach you prefer). The thing is, I think, not to judge opinions by pre-conceived notions. If it?s track by track, don?t assume it has to be VU (or otherwise) and vice versa if it?s not. Too often I find track by track reviews feature nothing but the run through of the tracks, which I now doubt is really VU, specially as the comments are often brief or repetitive. ?This is a song with a verse and a chorus. I like it but it?s not the best. 7/10? If you only have one of these elements, I think the general commentary is far more useful, but I?d repeat the best reviews normally combine both if you?re aiming for crowns. On the topic, I never think a track listing itself is that useful. I can normally see this on the album/on Amazon; it?s the opinion that informs my decision. Thinking about it (for purposes of this advice) it can be helpful I suppose if people are after ?The Terrorvision album with Tequila on? or something. I wouldn?t rate highly an opinion with little more than a track listing (as this could easily be found elsewhere, if it?s not already on Dooyoo); but where Dooyoo doesn?t list it, I might give track listings in future? When talking about the music, describe it as well as you can. It?s difficult I know, sometimes more so than others (I always find dance hard). I always find opinions that tell me only what songs are about less than VU ? as I said earlier, a ?love song? could be anything from Westlife to Metallica. By all means, if you can pick out specific technical details ? such as saying the guitars are good but drumming poor. Not everyone can, in that case just saying you find it rather guitar dominated and thrashy. Describe it however you want ? throw in a few metaphors, or stick to a fairly basic what you hear ? but try to give your best impression of the sound. As for lyrics, again they can be useful. I doubt there?s ever need to quote a whole song ? but I wouldn?t ?mar
k down? someone who did so as it?s easy enough to skip the lyrics if the reader?s not interested. A well chosen sample of each song, or perhaps just the singles or favourites, can be very helpful though ? giving an impression of the themes, or maybe even sparking recognition the title didn?t ? I only recognised ?that song on the radio? as McAlmont & Butler?s ?Falling? when I saw it on Top Of The Pops. Other useful details it might be worth giving about albums include: total running time, hidden tracks, special editions and (if possibly hard to find) record labels/catalogue numbers. I often give a rating out of ten too, as I sometimes find five stars too restrictive. Groups In General My approach to this would be to expand the above description part to make a full opinion. I think a career history, combining biography with in effect a review of each album (or significant ones in the case of groups with lots of albums) is the best approach ? see again dreamerz for good examples, or Ian Proudfoot?s ones (particularly on Frontline Assembly and Cabaret Voltaire). Again I think this approach is far more useful than looking at single albums in isolation, and it?s a shame Dooyoo no longer give crowns in these categories. If you have anything else though, feel free to offer a different approach (for example, my interview with Cyclefly). If you?ve tried suggesting a new album or live category then given how slow Dooyoo have been adding them at present, I?d fully forgive you for posting under ?in general?. Please, in this case, make the content clear in your title and be especially sure to include a fair amount of general information about the band! Live Like Dooyoo say, include details about song listings and band members if you can. Stage sets, support bands, or anything else all hope. Once upon a time, Dooyoo just listed ?Bon Jovi live?, which would draw in quite a variety of opinions over time. Now they seem to favour a
dding a year ? e.g. ?Cyclefly live 2002?. This means you can focus on one tour, so set listing and travelling support is even more useful. Don?t forget to add what you can about atmosphere, onstage banter and the like. Your experience is what we?re interested in ? obviously we?ve missed the particular gig, but try to inform us about the rest of the tour. Details about the specific venue, for example, are likely to be largely irrelevant though. Festivals Again, I?d say treat them like a ?your experience?. I like reading a kind of memory diary of the festival ? and after all, it?s not like anyone?s going to be making a consumer decision whether to go to V2001 any more is it? Tell us what bands you saw and how they were. Do try to comment on the general site and organisation though ? these details might be informative for anyone thinking of going next year. Well, that wraps up a pretty long opinion (sorry!). Hope it doesn?t sound too preachy. It?s actually given me some ideas thinking about it. It might even alter my future style a bit, and influence the basis of my rating others too! At the end of the day, write how you want as long as it?s useful.
First I would like to say that I am completely new to all of this so if I blunder please try to understand. Being one who loves listening to music I have to say that I love all types. I enyoy listening to a wide selection of Oldies, Blues, Rock, Bluegrass, Country, and Gospel. When it comes to music it would be hard for me to say what type I like best. I guess in short I like it all. I do however have a few favorite groups. One being Creedence Clearwater Revival and the BeeGees. And I have to admitt Michael Bolton isn't bad. Aretha Franklin is another one of my favorites. So is Tom Jones and Phill Collins. But seriously I do think that all music is good. I like Pop, Soul, Classical, I even have some Irish Folk music in my collection. Music is universal. And thats one thing the world can share. No matter what may be going on in the world, we can all still share one thing. Music.
How to write a good music opinion. If only it were as easy as working step-by-step through instructions for flat-packed furniture (ok, bad example!), or like following a recipe from Delia. But, particularly with a music review, it’s much more of a personal experience and therefore can be much more difficult to write about. This advice specifically applies to album reviews, seeing as these are the most frequently written. I should also point out that this is only *my* advice, it is not definitive and different styles of writing can and do get high ratings. But, more often than not, they do fit into the mold I've described. Basically, if you go to the effort of writing an opinion, my guess is you actually want people to read it. If you want lots of people to read it, it’s going to have to last longer than the time it occupies the New Opinions list. Although it’s true that most reads do come from there, if it doesn’t get good rates first off, it’s pretty much definite that it won’t get a high number of reads once it drops out of the list. So, first impressions count. Bearing that in mind, with any opinion it’s really important to make your review look good. Doesn’t have to be fancy, mind, but spelling and grammar should be correct. It should appear at first glance to be a quality opinion. So you will, I guarantee it, find it easier to write it first in Word or whichever text programme you’re used to, and then copy and paste it into the dooyoo text box on site, once you’ve read it through and tweaked it. I promise you, the extra effort will pay off in the ratings you get (even if you have to edit out the ??s grrrrr). Appearances aside, what about the content? First off it’s useful to try and give as much info about the artist or band as could be necessary. If for example, you’re writing about the Sugarcubes, it’s worth mentioni
ng that Bjork was the lead singer. If you know, it can also be helpful to inform the reader who the artist or group was inspired or influenced by – it helps to paint them in a bigger picture. There are plenty of sites of the net that can help here, I’ve listed some at the bottom for general music info that are tried and trusted. Right. Well, if you’ve gone to the bother of writing about the album, you probably have strong feelings about it, but sadly it aint enough to just say “They’re really great and I love them and I recommend this CD to everyone in the whole wide world ever!!!” It may be obvious to you but that doesn’t mean it will be to us. If you really Really love it with a passion then try to explain why. Is it the style (which? examples of similar artists? is it representative?) or maybe it’s several tracks that really make it (which ones and why?). What’s the general feel of the album? Is it upbeat or downtempo? Does it feel cold and emotionless, or warm and cosy, or maybe even sensual and seductive? What images does it arouse in you? Try to convey to the reader where the album as whole, or individual tracks, take you and how you feel after listening them. Are they uplifting and make you smile, or maybe remind you of a lost love? It’s really difficult to do this, in my opinion anyway, but try to make the sounds tangible, a sensation that can be felt and appreciated by your reader. On to the actual album – this is probably the easiest bit. When was it released? How does it compare to other releases by the same artist? Or maybe it’s similar to an album by another artist – if so mention it. Is it the first, second, third, or ninetieth release by the artist or group in question – the reader may be aware of something released previously, so a bit of info on that (if relevant) can be extremely helpful. Next: the
content. How many tracks are there? Which have been released as singles and when? Did they do well in the main/indie/dance charts? Now’s the time to maybe mention key lyrics, your reader may have heard the song you’re trying to explain but not know its name. If you tell them that the chorus has the main lyrics “(Freedom) don’t wanna let you down/ (Freedom) I will not give you up” chances are they’ll recognise it instantly (as ‘Freedom’ by George Michael or Robbie Williams). And so is the way with lyric recognition. Similarly, if something significant is introduced in the song that can be described with a fair degree of accuracy, like a violin solo at the start, or a gospel choir in the chorus, or maybe it ends with a mass of static and feedback - all these sort of things make it identifiable for your reader. Another point of reference could be the video for the single, if you’ve seen it. No worries if not, but if you have, chances are someone else has too, but may have missed who it was by or what it was called. Concerning the content – personally I don’t think you need a track by track listing, but if that’s the way you want to play it – go for it. Just remember to try to keep your audience entertained, and I mean that as loosely as possible. It doesn’t have to be rolling out one side-splitter after another, but keep the interest… not sure how to do this myself to be honest, but the longer the opinion is, the harder it gets! It’s absolutely fine to just discuss the individual tracks that you see as the high/lowlights, with your reasoning as to why you picked them and a bit of a breakdown, like how they fit into the album as a whole. It’s also massively helpful to someone who’s reading if they know what sort of music you think highly of. If, for example, you really like your guitar-led indie-pop and you rate the new Do
ves CD, it follows that if the reader likes guitar-led indie-pop too then chances are they’ll agree with you on the Doves. Likewise with any style. Because music is so difficult to explain in words, any background you can provide to your personal take on the product will be appreciated. Let us know why we should trust you - you don't have to list your musical credentials or your CD collection, but give us a few pointers. I don’t think you definitely need to describe the packaging or the format, but sometimes these are interesting. If say, there’s a particularly notable illustration or photo on the cover, and you think it adds to the “experience” then go for it. Similarly, if the inlay notes have loads of useful and interesting information, mention them. These are the little things that can add to the completeness of an opinion, but don’t feel obliged to mention them if there’s very little to say. Finally – purchasing information. If you’re writing about a red-hot limited edition import then make this clear, because what you’re reviewing may not be what’s readily available to the reader. Similarly, because the number of tracks sometimes differs from CD to vinyl, it’s a good idea to clarify which you have. You might also want to say how much it was and where you got it from, so the reader can tell whether this is standard chart or mid-price item or a more obscure (and therefore usually more expensive) purchase. So in a nutshell, Miriam’s guide to writing a good music opinion: Make it look good at first glance. Check spelling, grammar and layout in Word and read it through several times before posting. Assume nothing. Music comes in all shapes and sizes, so provide as much info as you can as to what the reader can expect. Although the band or artist may rock your world, it’s possible that we have never
heard of them! Try to explain WHY you like/love/hate the album, detailing some tracks to prove your point. Tell us how it makes you feel. Which artists are similar or related? How good an example is this album of its genre? If at all possible, try to establish some points of reference (key lyrics or a notable video). Tell your audience what else you like. Which viewpoint, musically, do you come from? Make sure we know which format you’re reviewing, how easy it will be to get our hands on, and how much it’s likely to set us back. And finally - enjoy it! Thinking about and really concentrating the music you like helps you appreciate it even more… honest. Sites you may find useful: www.allmusic.com – for everything music www.rollingstone.com – for biographies and discographies www.amazon.co.uk } www.amazon.com } – for checking availability, prices etc. www.cdnow.com } Oh and just in case you were wondering, you pedants you, any incorrect grammar contained herein was absolutely intentional :P
Well, having written a few (well actually I think most of my opinions have been music) opinions on music, I decided that I would try my hand at writing an opinion on writing a good music opinion!! I know that some of my opinions in the music category in the past have been??well, let's say shambolic??but I think that I have gotten pretty good at writing about these band thingys!! I have thought about what criteria I need for a music opinion, whether it is me who has written it, or someone else who has written it?..if an opinion has a certain something??whether I have read that certain fact, or that rumour in another opinion, if it is there, then I am definitely going to think higher of an opinion??.. Of course, when I read a music opinion, I like to read both fact and opinion. A GOOD INTRODUCTION: This paragraph is the one that is going to grab the readers attention, and determine whether they are going to keep reading, or just stop dead (well in most cases anyway). The introductory paragraph, can have any number of things to it. A bit of a past about the band/artist that you are writing about??.maybe a bit of an opinion about the band/artist??.but you don?t want to fill all of the first paragraph with this information?.otherwise you probably aren?t going to have much else to say later on!! Of course you will probably want to use the introductory paragraph to write about what you are going to be??well writing about!! This will give people a bit to go on, and a little something to base their idea on what your view of the artist/band will be?.and that can be VERY helpful!! I mean, it would probably be a better idea to write a little bit about what your opinion is going to be about, nothing in particular (pretty much what I am doing now)?.but make it at least a little interesting, so that maybe you will get a little laugh from the readers of the opinion (this is something that I seem to be very untrained in, and poor at??I couldn?t wri
te a funny paragraph about one of my favourite bands, if you gave me a year???) BACKGROUND INFO: Ok, as long as you didn?t give the whole history of the band you are writing about, in the first paragraph, then it wouldn?t be a bad idea to give a little (well the whole thing condensed) history to a band??.and the line-up (past and present) would probably be a good idea as well. In the history, I have found it is a good idea to give a few anecdotes about past happenings within a band/artists career, and a little about how said band (if you are actually writing about a band) got together. This will increase your possible rating greatly. RELEASES: This is something that I haven?t given much thought to in pretty much all of my opinions??unless they are about a band in general. I don?t really pay much attention to this factor in most of my opinions anyway. But if you add a full (well not REALLY full!) list of a band/artist?s releases, then you may just get a bit of a higher rating (wink wink, nudge nudge)??. Of course, adding a little bit about favourite tracks from each albums, and tracks to check out, will once again help your cause!! LIVE: When I write an opinion about seeing a band live (when I finally get round to writing one!!), I would consider adding the following things: *Did you meet the band before hand or after the gig? Were they friendly? Did you get to have a little bit of a conversation with them? Tell everyone about it!! *What were the conditions like inside the gig-hall? Were the band far away from you? Was there a big gap between the front-row and the stage? Did you get REAL close to the band/artist?? Tell us more!! *What songs did the band play? Did they play your favourite song? A set-list (if you can remember it) is a sure-fire winner!! *What bands were supporting the headliners? Did they play a blinding set? What were your opinions of the bands?? *What did you think of the headliner
s (probably the band you were there to see)??did they play well??.what did they sound like?? Were they as good live, as you would have imagined or hoped?? ALBUM: If you are writing about an album, then it is a DEFINITE good idea, to give a tracklisting??well it?s not the most important thing, but it sure does help!! It can help people to recognise those single tracks that they may have heard and liked, but not known what album the song came from. But of course the biggest part of writing an opinion on an album, is YOUR verdict on the tracks. You don?t have to give your opinion on every single track on the album, but it would help! Otherwise you wouldn?t really be writing your opinion would you?? But like I said, if you don?t want to write about all of the tracks, it would be a good idea to at least write about a few of them. Maybe a few of the more well known tracks, and if you really want to get someone?s attention a few that are more obscure on the album?.. THE BAND/ARTIST IN GENERAL: Another good point on writing an opinion is to give a little info about the members of the band or artist. Maybe giving some of there favourite things or some of their interesting facts??..you don?t have to give a full on biography of each single member (hell, you can if you want!!) but it would certainly entertain the reader. (I know, I know, I don?t do this???well not very often)? AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST?..: The last thing you want to write (apart from maybe an OUTRO) is your opinion in general on whatever band/artist/album/live performance you have written about. A bit like an overview??so that you can make it clear what you are trying to say, if you didn?t put it o well in the main part of the opinion?.. OUTRO: And lastly?.the outro??.I don?t have much to say here???.maybe it?s because I have said all I have to say??maybe I should finish up here with a witty comment, or a funny joke??..or maybe I should finish up by say
ing???I hope this opinion may have helped you!!
First thing let me say I don’t claim to be an expert on this, but I am opinionated and I so I’ll give all you lucky readers the benefit of my thoughts. I have written half a dozen music opinions on Dooyoo reviewing CD’s and I have received a couple of crowns so I assume I have done something right at some stage, although I’m still not quite sure what that was! In this opinion I will concentrate on CD reviews as opposed the other subcategories in Music such as concert or club reviews and musical instruments with which I’m not that familiar. Let me begin by saying that, as with any review you have to have a clear idea of who your reader might be. In this case I will try to outline how you should write a music opinion for the most important user of Dooyoo or any consumer site ‘The Consumer’. MAKING A CHOICE Imagine you have just come in to a bit of cash or a record token or maybe you just get an urge once in a while, whatever the case you are ready to buy a CD! Further imagine that you are bored listening to your old greatest hits of ‘Brotherhood of Man’ or ‘Chill-Out Advert Themes’ and want to try something different, something new (to you at least) so as any discerning consumer you naturally turn to Dooyoo for advice. Clicking on to the new music reviews list you see one that intrigues you by a group you’ve never heard say the ‘Psychedelic Temple of Goa’ (apologies if this group really exists) and here is the review you come across… ‘This record is great, brilliant. This band must be the best in the world and this record is their best ever. All the tracks are great; you can see they really know what they are saying. I would buy urge anyone to buy this even if it’s just for the hits included on it. Musically they can’t be matched by other groups, and all the controversy over the lyrics only m
ake the songs better…” (And so on) This is not an actual CD review I have seen but I have read ones on Dooyoo, which are not very different. As a consumer hitching to buy a new CD this review tells me nothing of use except that the person who wrote it thinks it is great record, but that very same person might also think that Bros. were the best thing ever or that Celine Dion is the queen of Rock! If this is the case I might be tempted not to take his/her advice so readily. With this in mind I come to the first section of a review… BACKGROUND This doesn’t have to be a complete life history of all the members of the band and doesn’t have to include an in depth discography of all they have done. What this section should give you is an idea of what kind of music you are likely to expect from this band. Fair enough you do get an idea from the category it has been placed in; Rock, Indie, Pop, Jazz ect. but these subcategories are so diverse to be almost useless as a guide to what type of music they are featuring. So if the ‘Psychedelic Temple of Goa’ is a Rock band are they Progressive or Metal? What groups would you compare them to, Nirvana or Status Quo? It might also be worth mentioning if any of the band members had belonged to other groups, for instance you might never have heard of the Foo Fighter but knowing that Dave Grohl the lead singer was once in Nirvana (a group you may have heard of) might give you a clue what to expect. You might also want to include a little of your own personal preferences. If the band is a new wave punk band (that seem to be springing up all over at the moment) and you were a fan of the original punk bands this again might be useful to know for a potential buyer who may have stopped buying punk records in 1977. Now that we have hopefully established some common ground with the reader and they have a fairly good idea o
f what kind of music we are dealing with lets’ start concentrating on the record itself. THE CD This should be the main part of the opinion and very different approaches can be taken. People tend to fall in to two camps some give a description of each track others give an overview of the whole record possibly highlighting a few important tracks and commenting generally on the music and lyrics. I must admit in the past I have ‘swung both ways’ in this regards, but I’m now of the opinion that a detailed track by track description is unnecessary and not all that useful, this is not true in every case but generally I now tend to give an overview. So how do you do this? Firstly before getting bogged down in the detailed analysis of lyrics try to describe the general themes or atmosphere that the record evokes for you. Is there a general point to the record? How does it fit in to other record trying to do similar things? Is there a concept behind the music? Maybe most of the songs are anti-war, about drugs or about love, whatever it is if you can concisely describe the essence of the music do it! Now we come to the actual songs. As I said I don’t think you have to comment on each track but a full track listing is useful. It might be the case that the few tracks you do mention are not known by the reader but that one of the tracks on the record that you have omitted to talk about is known to them and would sway their purchasing decision (remember it’s all about consumers!). If you are going to talk about some specific songs which ones should you include? The ones you liked best are a good start! Tell the reader why these tracks stood out for you. If the lyrics stood out why was this, give an example of what you mean but avoid reproducing the whole of the words from the song. It is very important to give your personal experience here as well as any relevant information t
hat would be of interest; was there something peculiar to this track, were different recording techniques or effects used that made it stand out for you, maybe this is the track that hooked you in to buying the record so how does it compare with the rest? Once you have mentioned your favourite tracks it is also worth mentioning any other tracks that have maybe been released as singles or that have been played on the radio a lot, again to try and connect with the reader’s own experience. Many times you hear a song on the radio and buy the record only to find that the song you heard is completely different in style to the rest of the album. Don’t forget to mention any musicians or singers that might have guested on the record, after all you may never have heard of ‘Psychedelic Temple of Goa’ but the fact that Barry Manilow sings backing vocals on track 4 or that Eric Clapton plays the Banjo on track 7 might convince you to listen to the rest of the CD (or not as the case may be!). GENERAL DETAILS To finish things off give the details and information about the record. As I said before I would include a full track listing and I would also include a list of all the band members, and where the CD was recorded. If you are writing about an older record that was first released on Vinyl don’t’ forget to mention any extra tracks that might be available on the CD version. Mention also the Catalogue number and record label on which it is released, which might makes things easier if the record is not widely available. Don’t forget to quote a price (remember this can vary so state where you got it from.) MORE CAN MEAN LESS And now we come to the thorny subject of length- quantity of over quality. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule about this; I have read some great music reviews that are about 500words and some dreadful ones that are 2000+. I
n general don’t be tempted to pad out your opinion just for the sake of it. Make what you say relevant to the purpose of the Opinion-giving someone the information they need to make a choice about buying the product. A lot of information about the artist is not necessary and while it might be useful can detract form the effectiveness and readability of the opinion. By the same token a detailed description of every track can have the same effect, remember that trying to describe music using written words is quite a challenge that not everyone has the ability to do effectively. Another thing to bear in mind is that Dooyoo these days are trying to be more consumer focused so if you are after a Crown making your opinion too long or top heavy full of details not directly relevant to the purpose of the review will not help. I personally tend to write music opinions around 1000-1500 words this I feel is enough for a ‘not too eloquent’ writer such as myself to write a fairly balanced review including some interesting background and relevant facts about the music product. AND FINALLY… I have concentrated of opinions about CDs but remember that the music category does include review of live performances, artists in general and musical instruments. If you stick to the general principles outlined above I don’t think you’ll go far wrong. In the end there is no right or wrong way to do a music review, different approaches can work but whichever approach you prefer the most important thing is to make it informative, personal, and if possible enjoyable to read, not just from your point of view but from the reader’s as well. Try and connect with what the reader might know or like about the record and you are more likely to give them the information they need to make an informed decision about buying the product. Thanks for reading and rating this opinion. © Mauri 2002