I focused on research again this week, specifically how people respond to different reviews. I started with Rolling Stone since I know people can leave comments on their pages. I looked for a variety of reviews and tried to find something from every part of the spectrum from the rave reviews to the 2/5 stars. I couldn’t find anything that was 5/5 stars, so I looked at the titles of the reviews that were 4/5 since the reviewers seemed to like the albums. The most noticeable thing was that if the review was positive, the writers got more positive feedback from the commentators. On a review for Joanna Newsom’s album Divers that got 4/5 stars, the comments were positive and showed support for the reviewers’ opinion and even pointed out how they appreciated that the review wasn’t just a paragraph, as a lot of Rolling Stone reviews have been recently. This was a longer, in-depth review and the comments reflected positively. On another 2/5 star review for Mac Miller’s GO:OD A.M., the reviewer wrote a very negative review and people had very strong reactions to the writer’s claims. Some argued that the reviewer didn’t appreciate Miller’s previous music and therefore lost out on some of the meaning of this album. Overall, the comments were negative and disagreed with the reviewer. I think that this is a common theme, not just in music reviews but across the internet. It’s very easy to be anonymous and defend something you’re passionate about if someone says something contrary to you opinions. I think this is a “negativity breeds more negativity” situation.
I think that showed the most on the review of Pentatonix’s debut, Pentatonix. There were 53 comments on this 2.5/5 star review that defeated the a cappella group’s creativity and hard work. The commenters seemed to think that the reviewer glossed over the fact that the group made the album without other instruments and didn’t properly credit them for their work. A lot of the comments actually questioned the reviewer’s qualifications for writing reviews and insulted their opinions saying, “The people in the comments UNANIMOUSLY agree that this review was in fact amateur, immature, and most likely written by some 20 year old nobody who can’t comprehend truly remarkable talent even if it slapped her in the face.” (a comment from a user named Quinton). I was actually shocked by how aggressive some people got and it made me grateful that WTGR doesn’t have a comments section and barely posts any negative reviews.
I think my biggest takeaway from this was that reviews aren’t what they are now in the digital age as what they were when people first started writing reviews. In the days of vinyl-only music, it made sense to review an album since people wanted to know if it was worth their time and money. Now, I don’t think reviews serve that purpose anymore since it’s so easy to go on SoundCloud or Spotify and listen to an album then buy it or just forego the whole purchase and continue to stream it. I think reviews should highlight good new music and showcase artists that they think are good and deserve recognition. It doesn’t make sense to spread negativity, especially online where people are more prone to retaliate, when writers could uplift songs that they enjoy and share them with people. I don’t think we have the problem of “should I listen to this whole album” since most people I know don’t consume music that way. Most people my age listen to just single songs that they really like and I think that music reviews should follow that to appeal to people. There’s so much music that’s so easily accessible that it makes more sense to just praise and share the music that people like instead of talking about music that reviewers didn’t like. I’m glad that WTGR focuses on music that its writers like instead of just reviewing everything that it is sent from PR people. I feel that is a more effective way to share music and stay positive. I think it benefits both the artists and the writers more than writing about things they don’t like.
Rolling Stone Logo. Digital image. Wikimedia Common. N.p., 3 July 2010. Web. 1 Nov. 2015. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rolling_Stone_logo.svg>.
Hermes, Will. “Joanna Newsom’s New Album: Divers.” Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/joanna-newsom-divers-20151020>.
Weingarten, Christopher R. “GO:OD A.M.” Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/mac-miller-go-od-a-m-20151015>.
Spanos, Brittany. “Pentatonix’s New Album: Pentatonix.” Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC, 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 24 Oct. 2015. <http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/pentatonix-pentatonix-20151016>.