How to Rate your Music

You will have read off to the right hand side how I choose these tracks - at sort of random.

Sort of.

I use various playlists in iTunes, and when you have 60 thousand tracks in your music collection, you ought to give it some rules to play to.  I'll go into playlists and logic in iTunes at a later date, as well as slag it off a bit, but first we ought to look in to rating songs.

Rating songs is really very helpful when setting up playlists, but you need to set your rules for rating before you start playing with it.
If you right click on a track you will see one of the options is Rating - 'None' and then one to five stars.
I would prefer zero to ten stars, but I have to work with what we have.

None - Lets get the most important one out of the way first - what does 'No stars' mean? Does it mean 'I don't like this'? Does it mean 'I hate this song'? NO.
It means "I have not rated this song" - It means absence of rating.
This is really important and when you understand all that this can define when moving onto playlist generation.

***** - 5 Stars - This means as close to musical perfection as possible. No higher praise for a track, this is for the 'Desert Island Discs'.  Out of my chossen 60 thousand tracks only 900 (and dropping) tracks are worthy of 5 stars. Examples include; Bombtrack - RATM, The Grand Wazoo - Zappa and Toy Box - Portishead. Imagine a track so good that you would not grow tired of hearing it 30 times in a row. It has to be that good.

**** - 4 Stars - This means in my mind "A Great Track". Something above the ordinary, but not the best. In my library there are 1,321 songs with 4 stars.
Not something you would have played at your funeral, but something you wouldn't mind played at the disco to your wedding. Examples include; Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh, Timeless - Goldie, Day Tripper - Jimi Hendrix at the BBC.

*** - 3 Stars - A pretty darn good track. Not something to live your life by or listen to three times in a row, but you wouldn't mind hearing it twice in a week. It might be worth learning it on guitar and you might sing it in the car.  There are 2,341 songs with 3 stars on my hard drive from Ohio - CSNY to Changes - David Bowie.

** - 2 Stars - A reasonable track. Nothing stand out about it, but also nothing too awful. You would like to hear it again, but probably only after a month or so. When I filter "Good and Bad" tracks, three stars and above is good, two and below isn't. Think of Mettalica's version of Breadfan - a pretty good track, nearly a three, but the production is weak, the song itself isn't really to my tastes (a bit vile) and I would be annoyed if I heard it twice on my journey to Scotland. Other examples would be Status Quos version of Wild side of Life - a great song, performed badly by boring farts.

* - 1 Star - Shit.  Awful. Kill it with fire. You want to make sure this track doesn't turn up on your iPod ever again - mark it as crap. If you have a way of marking the song as 'Crap' you can add it as a fliter on your Playlist to stop it turning up again. Now, I quite like the Beatles, but some of the tracks are pretty poor - In My Life is sappy crap - one star, 5 Piece Chicken Dinner on the Beastie Boys otherwise excellent Pauls Boutique - one star. Nightvision - Daft Punk? Over-mellow sub-standard mood killer on an otherwise superbly paced album - one star.  Phil Collins? Oh yeah, he gets it too.

The point of this is not about being super anal and marking all your songs rating them for 'musicianship, recording quality, sonwriting and diction'.  It's about helping iTunes discriminate between music you like and don't like.  When I next write a bonus it will be about Playlists and how we can get decent filters working to make the music played on your iPod a better choice.

One final thought.
You can and should change your opinion on a song at any time.  I do - a track comes on and I see it is 3 stars, but I hate it suddenly - take it down.  Whilst writing this I saw a few tracks on 5 Stars that just don't deserve it - hands up Tupac's California Love - that bad-boy is a 4 Star now as is Led Zep's Bron-y-Aur Stomp.