Recent review a bit overboard?

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Recent review a bit overboard?

Postby TakeMeToManos » Sun Jun 22, 2003 6:03 pm

Hi there-

I had never really planned to post on this discussion board, as I am only an occasional vistor who enjoys reading the reviews. However, a recent review caught my eye that I felt should at least be discussed.

The most recent Yellowjackets CD (here i should add I do not go to U of R, nor have I ever heard this group), got mixed reviews from the panel. The harshest critic was Josh Diamant who called the CD various adjectives including "Lousy", "A Travesty", and ended the review by calling it a "piece of crap"!

As I said, I am not a regular visitor to this site, so perhaps Mr. Diamant is known as the "SImon Cowell" of RARB or something... To me though, it seems such a bit overboard. Perhaps such words should be saved for professional recording artists, not a group of college guys. Perhaps I'm way off, and those of you who seem to make a cappella your life can fill me in on something I'm missing. It just seems to me, clueless outsider, there may be more professional ways of getting a point across than dubbing the CD a piece of crap.
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Recent review a bit overboard?

Postby newfan » Tue Jul 15, 2003 6:29 am

TMTM, I could agree more! Not only was the review "a bit overboard" IMHO, but "got mixed reviews from the panel" is a bit of an understatement. In the End, for example, was rated a "5" by one panelist, and a "1" by another. Now, I can understand differences in tastes an all, but how can two experienced, objective reviewers come to such different conclusions? Kind of calls into question why a group should want to submit their work in the first place.

And no, I have no connection to U of R or any other group here. I'm just a fan.
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Postby Neil » Tue Jul 15, 2003 7:02 am

http://www.rarb.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=80

Read around, plenty of these arguments already ready-made for you.
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reviews

Postby jonathansears » Tue Jul 15, 2003 7:59 am

I'm probably going to regret sticking my head into such an irrelevant discussion, but the stupidity of this just makes me want to vomit.

When a group submits an album for review, they know what they're getting themselves into. It's a critique. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. Submitting groups who are interested in having an album reviewed are sent a massive email from RARB, prior to submission, stating the pros and cons to having their album reviewed. They also have the ability to read hundreds of past reviews to find out what kind of language is used and what the reviewers tend to like and dislike. It's not rocket science ... its subjective opinion.

The comments used in the Yellowjackets review were hardly the worst or harshest thing ever said about an album from RARB. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it was creative and entertaining writing. Reviews are for public consumption allowing some level of creative content and entertainment to be added to the reviews. When you call your album 'Nature's Call' and somebody doesn't like it ... well you've opened the door, they just have to walk through it.

If all of you could read the emails that we as reviewers receive from the groups that submit and get poor reviews, you'd think that what we wrote, in comparison, was nothing short of sunshine. (The Yellowjackets were no exception) I've been amazed at how obnoxious, rude, and mean-spirited the personal attacks have been in emails which have been directed to RARB reviewers after an unfavorable review was published. It really turns your opinion about a lot of groups, and it's a shame that it happens.

I didn't review this album. I don't know what it sounds like. I do know, however, that groups need to accept in advance that some reviewers <gasp!> might not like your album </end gasp!>. None of the negative comments in our reviews are personal attacks on anyone or their respective groups. It's simple subjective opinion that is written in a way that can be informative to the group and entertaining to the consumers.

It's okay to have differing opinions and controversial statements. If you don't feel that way, then don't submit your album for review.
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Re: reviews

Postby newfan » Tue Jul 15, 2003 8:54 am

>>I'm probably going to regret sticking my head into such an irrelevant discussion, but the stupidity of this just makes me want to vomit.

C'mon, Jonathan, take a Pepto. My point is, the Yellowjackets could have submitted their CD to a dozen people chosen at random from the phone book, some might have raved about it and some might have deemed abominable. But when you have experienced a capella people, a pretty well-defined rating system, guidelines to consider (yes, I know you don't HAVE to consider them), etc, I'm not sure how a rating discrepancy of 1 vs 5 can come about. Or, what value it is to those who submit the work or those who are trying to decide whether to buy the CD.
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Postby groundrounder » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:01 am

all in all i think it is a really complicated situation. when a group produces an album, they will undoubtably be immensely proud of it. that said, they will send it to rarb, believing that it will be credited and deemed a great album, as seen in their eyes. however, when reviewers listen, and don't have the hours and stress and money put into the album that the group does, it doesn't sound the same.

i don't blame groups for getting upset. it can be shocking to read a bad review, when you don't see it possible. i once told a girl in my group that her recording of her solo did not do her voice justice, as she has the BEST voice, and it doesnt show in her solo. she didn't speak to me for 2 months.. things like this are just a touchy subject. a mother wouldnt send her childs photgraph to a distant cousin, expecting in a letter "oh he's so cute", get a "this is the ugliest baby i have ever seen" and not get upset.

on the other hand, i would not be happy to be personally attacked for doing my job and giving an honest opinion. but when writing things, like those that were said in the yellow jackets review, even if it was a reviewers "creativity", a reviewer needs to expect getting flack for it.

in this regard, i do believe that the review was insensitive, and the expected level of professionalism was missing.
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Postby singacee » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:14 am

In a potentially controversial topic, I'd like to say that I also consider the reviewer him/herself when reading reviews. From some I expect vapid, glowing reviews, from some I expect searing reviews full of strangely ill-placed bile for collegiate groups, from some I expect a sort of masturbatory show of knowledge about whatever tehir expertise is rather tahn a review, and from a few I know I will be getting a good objective look at an album. And before anyone gets upset, I mean objective only in that it has no strings attached and no clear personality or taste issues that would discredit the review in my opinion.

I think RARB is great, but like anything else, you need to be a savvy consumer.
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Postby Neil » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:14 am

Ugh... I had hoped I could post the link and the thread would die of natural causes...

1) It has the inherent value of being a critique by three different people who know and love a cappella music.

2) There are discrepancies the same way a rock album reviewed by three different sources would have discrepancies. Look at reviews of movies. I've seen the same movie get between 2 and 5 stars depending on the reviewer. That's the nature of the beast. You can't (and I will say can't) tell me that RARB has decreased value because three people disagree on the listenability and quality of a recording.

3) This has been argued to death.
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Re: reviews

Postby mikey » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:16 am

newfan wrote:But when you have experienced a capella people, a pretty well-defined rating system, guidelines to consider (yes, I know you don't HAVE to consider them), etc, I'm not sure how a rating discrepancy of 1 vs 5 can come about.


this has been driven into the ground before, but people have completely differing tastes and views on what music should sound like. of all the people who are deemed musically knowledgable, some will tell you renee zellweger was suprisingly fantastic in chicago, while others from that same set will call her predictably underwhelming. siskel and ebert heavily disagreed sometimes (many times) with their reviews and they are said to be experienced movie critics.

that's why there are three reviewers. if no discrepancies existed with any rating system, you'd need one reviewer per item, no more. i've not heard nature's call, so i can't say whether i support either rating, but at least there was a 5 to counter the 1 and vice versa, regardless of how the song actually sounds.
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Postby ariel » Tue Jul 15, 2003 10:00 am

Just to clarify, the yellowjackets review was two 4s and a 2. There was no 5 or 1 in there, I think whoever wrote that was mistaken.

http://www.rarb.org/reviews/398.html
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Postby newfan » Tue Jul 15, 2003 10:08 am

>>There was no 5 or 1 in there, I think whoever wrote that was mistaken.


True, overall. I was referring to three of the individual songs.

Good advice from those posting on this thread and TK on the other thread. As a newby, I'll follow some reviewers, ignore others. Thanks!!
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Postby groundrounder » Tue Jul 15, 2003 11:51 am

i don't think the issue is of the discrepancies within the review. everyone understands that. my problem is with the way the critique was written. rude, unprofessional, and disrespectful.
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Postby Neil » Tue Jul 15, 2003 12:41 pm

GR, first off, I agree with what you're saying. TMTM's original post was asking whether people thought the language was overboard and too mean. However, since then this newfan guy has reopened the 1 vs. 5 argument, etc. and that's where everybody else piled on.

To re-address the original issue, I went back and read the review again. Since I'm not a U of R alum or anything, I didn't see the harsh words as much the first time. On the third reading, though, I think that I got the whole message, and I don't think it's as bad as you think it is. Yes, he did actually use the phrase 'piece of crap,' which is pretty caustic. However, throughout the review, he mentioned that he owned quite a few U of R CDs, and he was really writing from a place of familiarity. When a group you previously thought was doing great work turns out something 'less great,' the tendency is to assume a familiarity with the work and assume the guys on the other end know and respect you as a prior fan. From there, the criticism could be taken as a sign of care for their work.

In the end, yes, the words were probably a little rougher than you want to see for a child project of yours, but I think he was doing it from a place of concern, rather than trying to hurt these guys.

To address newfan, I think it's obvious that you're a little behind everybody else on this argument.
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Postby TakeMeToManos » Tue Jul 15, 2003 1:38 pm

Imagine my surprise to find 12 replies after my message being totally ignored for weeks!

Thank you to those who have brought the subject back to the content of the Yellowjackets review. I stand by the fact that calling an album a "lousy, piece of crap" simply isn't professional for this setting.

Surprisingly, the biggest fan of the the review was another reviewer at this site! I guess what you find "cute" Mr. Sears, I simply find rude. It's about as professional as you calling my post "stupid" and claiming that it makes you want to vomit. If that is really the truth, perhaps its time to get out of the acappella bubble and get some real problems.

You suggest that this discussion is "irrelevant". I would suggest that if the lack of professionalism displayed by some around here continues, this website is what will truly be irrelevant.
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Postby elocomotive » Tue Jul 15, 2003 2:38 pm

I have to be a total wuss here and say "you're both right."

Yes, people submitting their material to RARB do have to realize they are subjecting themselves to whatever a group or individual critic may feel about the album. But also, a certain level of respect is expected in return and while the "piece of crap" comment (written in reference to the album name, Nature's Call) was perhaps meant in jest/humor, its also unnecessary. The scores and specific criticisms earlier in the article got across the point already.

So, I guess my point is "why?"... Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

(hee hee, anyone get that one?)
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