Home > Blog-related, Ramblings > What’s in a review? That which by any other words would sound as sweet…

What’s in a review? That which by any other words would sound as sweet…

So, for the past week, my Internet decided to cop out on me. Also, WordPress ate this post several times over.

Okay, excuse for not posting over.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been entirely unproductive, though. (Insert kaomoji of any sort.) I have completed four decks for the 5×5 Arashi TCG. I have mixed 12 voices into a karaoke track mercilessly (though to no actual result) and attempted to record as many songs sung in a range too high. I have grinded my way through a number of casual games and leveled my characters’ jobs in Final Fantasy III after a long hiatus (no word on time for continuing NAMCOxCAPCOM or money for Persona 3: FES, unfortunately). I have been laughed at for failing to recognize a KinKi Kids song immediately (though it was warranted, seeing as I did buy the single). I have paid back a friend for ordering AAA’s ridiculous waste of money ATTACK ALL AROUND set, and am now currently hounding for Dream “A”live (If you don’t know, so much better for you, yes.) I have gone to see Cai Guo-Qiang’s exhibit at the Guggenheim and become facinated with the indoor river exhibit.

Oh, and I wrote a review or two, too.

But lately I’ve begun to wonder what’s the point of having them? Everyone’s going to have their own opinions on music, and they may not necessarily agree. (For example, there are certain virtues I could speak of on Matsumoto Jun’s Yabai-Yabai-Yabai – which, despite failing greatly as an example of good singing, still makes for a good cheer-up song. And an even better alarm when I’m late for class. YABAI. But his fans would probably kill me for even beginning to expound on that thought.) That’s a good thing – actually, no. That’s a great thing. Who cares if Raid doesn’t share tastes in mainstream pop with most people he comes across (actually, he does), or that some of my closest friends adore visual kei as much as or even more than I abhor it? (Really. I can only handle roars of “ONE DAY I WILL FUCK YOUR PARENTS” into my face at karaoke for so long. You try it, dear reader, and then you’ll see why I insist on my boyband pop more and more. It’s a self-defense mechanism.)

The variety in tastes is what gives us the variety in the music market. And really, no one should tell anyone else what to listen to unless the opinion is deliberately asked for. Which brings me to my point, I suppose. What’s the point of a review blog?

This isn’t to criticize such blogs – I enjoy reading review blogs, and in fact, I’ve joined various music communities on LiveJournal for the sole purpose of reading uploaders’ reviews, rather than pouncing on the downloads. If I listen as I read the review, sometimes I’ll come across elements that I’d skipped over or develop a newfound appreciation for a track because I’ve had the chance to see the other person’s opinion. And there’s the undeniable fact that they make for spectacular filler when I don’t post ramblings like this one.

But while it may seem like I’ve answered my own question, I haven’t. Or at least, not as far as I’m concerned. To me, a blog is for sharing information and ideas, to toss them up for discussion. It’s like a forum but with a focus on one person’s thoughts. Reviews consist mainly of opinions, and on top of that, there’s really no point on discussing them. You either agree or you don’t, whether by a lot or a little, and that’s all there is to it. By their very nature, they’re final – and while a person’s opinion can certainly change over time, you don’t edit a review. You just write a new one with the new opinion or you forget about it. Usually the latter. People are lazy, let it slide.

Or perhaps a better explanation – people just don’t care.

I mean, take a look at the focus of our blogosphere. Music – and Japanese, not the first language for most, if not all of us at that. While we have a variety of interesting writers who work reviews into their repertoire of posts in addition to blogs that focus solely on reviewing music – there’s little we can really type that isn’t a review – whether it’s criticism or praise; whether it’s about the composition, image, clothes, personality, marketing style – it’s usually going to be a look at some aspect of someone’s career and our opinion of it. As a potential market that just isn’t being paid attention to, we have little chance of actually affecting what’s being done or used. All we can offer is what we think. The Japanese companies, while keeping an eye out for download blogs with their copyrighted pieces of data, don’t give a damn about the content. (Though it’s rather nice to say avex is stalking blogs and just obstinately wearing down vocal fans into mindless money machines.) We’re not their intended market nor audience, though we have a chance at taking away their chances to earn money from said market and audience. But they’re not our intended audience for our reviews either. (Or so I’d hope.) Who is?

So to the… 8 readers total I have on this blog. (I guess we can up that number to 12 if I mention Arashi. Hi guys, 5×5 review will be coming soon eventually.) And anyone else who stops by from anywhere, regardless of the linking page. What do reviews do for you? Whether it’s over something that millions of bloggers will touch upon regardless of who cares or doesn’t (*ahem*Hello!ProjectorHamasakiAyumi*ahem* – thanks for offering, but I’ve got my own cough drops) or a review on something no one else seems to care about… do they actually affect you as the reader in any way? Or do you just get a personal ego kick in knowing someone has the same opinion and move on?

To the bloggers; why post a review? Is it just to get your words out, to make a name in what’s fast becoming a popular blogosphere? (Well, mostly H!P blogs.) To spite all those writers whose opinions you disagree with, or perhaps in spite of the fact that there are no opinions over the subject of your review? Perhaps to spread the name of an artist, or defame them. Do you just post because you want to? Do the same “what’s the point?” questions plaguing my mind ever bounce across yours?

Lastly, to those of you who think this post is a way to get out of posting yet another trite review as I return to fangirling without the analytical bullshit pretense I use here… you’re totally right we’ll pretend there’s not an ounce of truth to that statement.

Categories: Blog-related, Ramblings
  1. March 21, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Personally I have nothing against review posts which isn’t particularly surprising as I like to write them myself, too. Reviews (non-H!P ones) can be very useful for me because I wish to constantly seek out new Japanese music to listen to, because honestly, my taste in j-music is quite limited so far. I hope that’ll get fixed one day. So basically, the reason I like to do (non-H!P) reviews is to hopefully get even one person to get interested in the band, download a song or an album and go “wow, this is good stuff!” Whenever someone comments on my post, saying they’re really liking what they’re hearing, that makes writing the post totally worth it for me. :)

    Now, answering why I do H!P reviews is a little bit more difficult, even though my blog is first and foremost a H!P one. I have a pretty good idea why though. Writing about the music is basically the only thing I can do. Maybe it’s the mindset of a metal fan or maybe it has nothing to do with it (because as you know, musicians in metal are ugly and boring as hell so it is unnecessary to talk about how they look or act – ever), but I’m just not comfortable to really talk about their looks, their personalities or anything like that in-depth. Admittedly though, lately I’ve began to accept it more for what it is – idol music – and I have posted a few little notes about their looks and so. But really, while I do admit to both reading and enjoying such things, writing full, drawn out posts about the girls themselves, PV reviews, etc… That’s just not for me at all. At least not for the time being.

    This was a good post. I enjoyed reading. :)

  2. March 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I like reading reviews because it gives me a lot of views on the same thing.

    Personally, I don’t think that what I place in the review page of my blog is even a review. I don’t know how to make one. I usually just place there the things I love. If its not there, it usually just means that it didn’t have too much impact on me that lead me to even writing about it.

  3. March 21, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Inerestingly enough, I’m actually working on a term paper that looks at music criticism and what a good piece of music criticism does. To sum it up, I think what a good music critic does (and what I try to do in my own reviews) is look at it in terms of 1) how a piece functions in the midst of its contemporaries, 2) how innovative it is in its chosen genre, and 3) how strong it is in relation to its own work (trickier with debut albums). What’s important to remember is that evaluation is different from subjective predilection…to a certain extent. Looking at how a piece is technically executed, exploits a variety of elements, organizes movements, and creates balance is different than saying ‘This album did nothing for me.’

    Unlike other music journalism (teleivision and print), I think music blogs have potential to be the future (or maybe it already is the future) because they enoucourage feedback and discussion. Above all else, a good review will excite someone with new information, ideas, or perspectives on looking or listening to something. I, personally, rarely read reviews of things I haven’t heard yet as I don’t go looking at music criticism to recommend anything to me, rather, I’d like to engage in a dialogue where I might not have another outlet to.

  4. March 21, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    “Who cares if Raid doesn’t share tastes in mainstream pop with most people he comes across (actually, he does)”


    I dare the next male person to say the same truthfully.

  5. sharin
    March 22, 2008 at 2:52 am

    erm.. Jun’s my favorite but I totally agree with your comment in Y-Y-Y! My stomach hurts from laughing whenever I hear that song xDD

    Looking forward to your 5×5 review. ^^

  6. Siria
    March 25, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Why writing reviews… I guess “Because I like reading yours” isn’t a good enough reason? ^^”
    I understand why you can feel that a blog should be a place for discussion, but things are that it often isn’t the case: lurker are the biggest specie on the Internet, I fear.

    Personnal point (can’t give any general one):
    Reviews provides a new look on things I already know, and some basic knowledge on things I don’t know yet, or even on things I don’t think I’ll ever listen to. Knowing about them, that they exist and grosso modo what they consist of is important to me.
    Answering to it is… hard. Actually, even though I’d like to discuss more about music, I don’t think I’d be able to do it in any other language than my mother one. Especially in front of the walls of text most reviews are: I’m often to tired when I finish to read it, to be able to write anything interesting (or even understandable -_-)

    But I do think about what you’re writing, and consider it while listening to the songs later.

    To end it… I’m a Matsujun fan, but I like the way you’re talking about him and “his” songs ^^ At least, it makes me laugh – isn’t it a good reason to write, to make some smiles bloom on earth? =D [/cheesy lines]

    Ah… -_- that was way too long, too vague, too gramatically approximative and a bit too cheesy. Anyway, have a good day! =)

  1. March 21, 2008 at 8:42 am

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