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Five Reviews For One Album?!?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Reviews For One Album?!?

So, by now, many of you are probably thinking something. That thought may or may not be related to JFH. If it is not related to JFH, I won’t even venture trying to guess what that thought is. However, if it is related to JFH, I have a very strong hunch I know what you are thinking. I’ll bet is falls something along these lines

  •  “WOW! Switchfoot has FIVE positive reviews!”
  •  “I didn’t think Fading West was that great."
  • “Of course JFH would post five great reviews of Switchfoot, they’re all biased fanboys."
  • “What is a 2-cents review?”
  • “Why does Switchfoot, or any album for that matter, have five reviews in the first place?”, or possibly
  • “I can’t believe JFH gave Nine Lashes a positive review! They usually hate modern rock!”

If your thought was more along the lines that last bullet point, that is a topic for a different post (and probably a different person). However, if it was along the lines of the first five bullets, then this post is for you.

Longtime readers may recognize “2-Cents Reviews” as an appendage onto a reader review, like on this review of the Newsboy’s Take Me To Your Leader, or this review of Demon Hunter’s self-titled debut, or even this review of DC Talk’s 1989 debut. Their original purpose was to give an official rating to albums that otherwise would have none (either due to the fact that they came out a while ago, or no one on staff ever got around to writing a full review). But a reader had to write a review of the album first in order to get a 2-Cents Review.

Recently, the staff was having a discussion, and after going through a variety of different topics, somehow it came around to our current review format. That is, that albums, if they are reviewed, have a main opinion and a second opinion, and if not reviewed, a reader (ie, you guys) can send in their own review that might get posted if it is fair enough (and written well enough), and might get a 2-Cents Review as well. In any event, someone on staff (actually me, but I digress) suddenly came to realization that, well, why not have more than two staff reviews? We’re not bound by any strict “Music Website Code,” that firmly states, “Thou shalt not review an album more than twice!” Plus, with more reviews comes either more diversity or a stronger consensus, so the readers can get a clearer idea of what the staff as a whole thinks, not just one or two people on staff.

But then, as soon as I thought that, I also realized, “…but then someone would have to actually write those reviews.” And I can tell you, writing reviews can be a very tedious chore. Not to mention that it is a chore for a reader to read them all. But then I thought about those 2-Cent reviews: Those are easy enough to write. They are about a paragraph long. Easy to write, and easy to read. Diversity of opinion is offered, readers are more interested, it makes our site even more unique, and since 2-Cent Reviews were already offered in some capacity, it would not be hard to implement. Everyone wins!

As such, Fading West is the first album to receive this treatment. Not because we are biased fanboys of Switchfoot and just want to keep gushing out praise for them, but because, well, they were the first truly “big” album of the year that many staff members have heard and wanted to offer their thoughts on, and hopefully the first of many. Simple as that.

Hope you guys like the idea. Let us know what you think!

- Mark Rice

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1. Gabriel Jones said...

I like this method a lot. One of my biggest beefs with JFH over the years has been having a person who has their interests (Project 86, Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, Norma Jean, etc.) reviewing an album that is not in their field of interest (Passion, Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, Jesus Culture etc).

As a disclaimer, I realize it is possible to like both styles of music (because I do like both myself). But I also think that some people are better equipped to review certain albums than others...

Having said all that, JFH is my favorite and have always appreciated the job they do.

2. John DiBiase said...

Hey Gabriel, thanks for the kind words! I understand what you're saying but *please* understand that if a metal head is reviewing something else, they've requested to review it. I don't force anyone to take projects they don't want to because it's not fair to the writer or the artist.

But it is possible to like varying styles. I LOVE Project 86... And Steven Curtis Chapman. Haha

3. Roger Gelwicks said...

For the record, I don't think writing reviews is always a tedious chore (well... not usually, at least), but I'll be interested to see how this experiment goes on. Writing a short ditty for an album is easy to do, and giving more perspectives is usually valuable. I liked that Fading West got generally positive marks from the staff, and now readers can see that, too!

4. Tim said...

I think the other thing that hasn't really been mentioned is that people have short attention spans these days. I personally just look at the stars rating and skim the review. Then listen to the album on Spotify and decide for myself.

So I think the idea of consensus reviews is a good concept.

And as someone who used to write music reviews on a semi-professional basis, it definitely can get tedious. Still miss it sometimes though :)

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