When I was working as editor for purple SKY magazine, I oversaw all the reviews (CDs, DVDs and live reports) submitted for publication. Many of these early draft submissions started from the same misinformed place in that hey insisted on informing the reader what they would or would not enjoy with language like, “you’ll love it” or “fans of BLANK, will like it.”
I was reading Roger Ebert’s Blog and he did a great piece on the rules that should govern critics, the very first (and only one really relevant to my point) of which is, “Advise (not Inform) the Reader.”
From his entry
No, we must tell the readers what we ourselves love or hate. If we work for employers who think we should “like more movies like ordinary people like,” we should make a donation in his name to the Anti-Cruelty Society.
And this is why critics get such a bad rap. People think a critic needs to consider their needs when writing a review. The truth is, a critic should only consider an audience’s needs when putting the film in context. For example, if he or she is reviewing a scary movie, a responsible critic will first and foremost answer the question, “Is it scary?” Similarly, as much as it pains us to do so, a critic cannot dismiss High School Musical outright based on its genre. A critic needs to go in there and see if it works as a musical first and foremost. A review without that is usually just bitching and moaning.
If you adequately describe the experience of the CD, movie or show that should be enough to let the reader decide if it lives up to their personal standards.
I know it drives people nuts when a CD from a band they like gets a bad review. Purple SKY received our share of hatemail for bad reviews. The problem Ebert uses his common sense to point out is, if everything is good all the time, what’s the value of a good review worth?
Something to consider if you write for any of the overwhelmingly positive jrock review websites out there.