Whilst sifting this weeks potential new music contenders we found ourselves discussing the purpose and validity of negative music reviews. When we say negative review we mean anything scoring less than 6/10 or 3/5, which if you scan the various print and online music publications you’ll notice it is still quite a prevalent activity. Why take the time and energy to write a well articulated and eloquent piece of literary discourse when all you are doing is deriding another persons work?
As a society we are pretty much governed by brand and perception with our highly institutionalised beliefs dictating how, where and what we will spend our money on. These beliefs have built up overtime through word of mouth, advertisements, endorsements, review sites and publications. As time passes we learn to trust certain brands believing them to have the same perceived integrity and honesty of an elderly couple. However even with this well defined set of governing principles we as humans are an insecure bunch and we still like to seek reassurance that our perceptions and preferences are not misguided and ultimately socially acceptable. Ever really liked a particular song only for a close friend to randomly state that they hate that same song? Reviews can be a positive source of information, especially when investing a large sum of money, they give us reassurance that we are not wasting our hard earned cash. However we now live in a society where in most instances we can try before we buy and this is particularly applicable when it comes to buying music. We no longer, as we did in the pre-internet days, need reviews to let us know what is good and what is not, we can effectively decide for ourselves by streaming the music in question. So do we really need negative reviews, what purpose do they serve?
A negative review technically serves as a warning against a substandard product. However as we alluded to above with music we can now reach that conclusion ourselves by streaming the record online. Therefore if a negative music review is no longer required as a warning, what is it doing? Well it can only be doing one of four things, 1) Unnecessarily drawing our attention to an unfit product, 2) Colouring our opinion of something that we can judge for ourselves, 3) Sensationalism or 4) Highlighting a Personal agenda.
What do you think, are negative music reviews a thing of the past or do we still need them?