The following is a guideline to the numerical ratings I tend to use. I hope this will help prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Furthermore, within posts, I tend to elaborate the numerical ratings themselves. I use these numbers to help readers who prefer a visual aid to better grasp concepts I might discuss within reviews.
Finally, it is worth remembering that all music reviews are subjective; reviews here are not to be used to bash artists but rather, are meant to be used to elicit thoughtful, engaging discussions.
0 – Horrendous.
It is almost impossible for songs I review to fall this low. But, indeed: the bottom of the rating pit exists at this level.
1 – Very weak.
Whether it is due to exceptionally simple lyrics, a poorly organized song via its sections, or vocals that are barely worth labeling as “singing,” this rating is to indicate a very weak performance level.
Generally, this rating is rare and the worst aspects of songs tend to fall around a two (2).
2 – Struggling.
This rating is to indicate a feature that is noticeably or even significantly struggling. For example: song sections that have a foreseeable direction and concept, but completely lack in execution, would receive a 2. Or, for example, an artist’s vocals have an explicit goal–such as being melodic and slower–and yet she/he/they absolutely fails to deliver such the said goal.
This rating, while generally rarer, is definitely a plausible outcome.
3 – Below average.
This rating is the usual lower end of where weaker songs will fall. This rating is to indicate a feature that is–as the rating title implies–below average; in other words, the feature at hand is reasonable but contains a few critical flaws. An example might include an instrumental that not only fails to accommodate the vocals, but equally is chaotic in of itself and lacks a purpose in the song at large.
4 – Slightly below average.
This rating is similar to 3 (below average) but the critical flaws are slightly more forgivable. To recycle the example above, an instrumental that is chaotic and lacks a general purpose in the song but at least accommodates the vocals might earn a 4 rather than a 3.
5 – Average.
Many songs will have a majority of its features if not all of them at this rating level. Average here indicates that the feature that is being discussed is fulfilling general roles necessary–such as having cohesive song sections and satisfactory vocals–but are lacking the extra means to go further.
Because many pop songs will “play safe”–in other words, not take major musical risks in composition or vocal execution–that leads to many 5 ratings. These features are not bad, but neither are they compelling.
6 – Slightly above average.
This rating is when a feature finally moves towards having more compelling aspects involved. For example, an intricate use of vocal layering or a creative use of a rap section might bump up the score to a 6.
7 – Above average.
Songs that receive a 7 in one of its features or perhaps even all of them is always desirable. This rating indicates either excellent execution or ideas–or perhaps even both. 7 is when songs start having compelling factors involved: Very melodic, powerful vocals; lyrics that vary at every section and contain a memorable plot; an instrumental that perfectly aligns with vocals and helps guide the song in its entirety; and so forth.
8 – Excelling.
As of lately, this is generally where most songs will hit their maximum height. An 8 is as the prior rating but to an even stronger degree. Songs that have an eight for a feature is to signify how outstanding the said feature is.
9 – Very strong.
This level, like a 1, is highly unlikely. Songs will seldom reach this level of amazement likewise how most songs do not tend to fall that low.
10 – Perfect.
Realistically, this is impossible to earn. I doubt any composer and artist will help produce a song that is perfect; after all, is there even a perfect song given how subjective music is? My personal answer is: No; there is not any perfect song and there will never be one. Even if a song was made and catered to my entire personal preference, it would be hard to critically claim a song is perfect.
Nonetheless, this standard is the true limit to the rating system I have–even if impossible to get to.