Now that the star system has been established, it’s on to what I believe Plato dubbed “The Nitty Gritty.” At least I think it was Plato. In any case, the next level of filtering is driven by one’s listening habits. I am of the persuasion that if the artist went to the trouble of assembling an album, painstakingly selecting the seconds-worth of silence between numbers as well as the overall trajectory of the record, track-by-track, then it is my duty not to surgically stitch together a playlist. I listen top to bottom.
Here lies the quandary: am I rating each track against the other tracks on the album, or against all music since the genesis of recorded musical history? “Shake Your Rump” from the Beastie Boys 1989 album Paul’s Boutique receives a solid five stars because it compels me to what I call “dance,” and what others generally refer to as “have a grand mal seizure.” Can those be the same five stars that are awarded to Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic as they absolutely destroy with the overture to Tannhäuser, sending feverish chills up and down my spinal column even on the 103rd listen?
We have entered a territory in which the Twitter and Facebook trolls do dwell. Suffice it to say, genre-comparisons are a futile exercise, and when all is said and done, late-80’s NYC hip hop can be every bit as glorious as mythic Gesamtkunstwerk. It just depends on the hour of the day.
That’s the brilliance of this rating effort, though, isn’t it? We don’t have to defend our choices, or justify why Harry Nilsson’s “Without You” is one of the most wonderfully tortured love songs of all time. There exists no table of be-Zinfandel-ed dinner guests trading blows over where The Stooges self-titled LP stacks up in the punk hierarchy.
Next week: Results (Part 3: Conclusion)