Sunday, January 21, 2007

Something. Very. Disturbing.

Opinion: iPod Rating System

Part 1: Omnipotent Wisdom

One of the niftiest aspects of the
iPod is the ability to rank songs using a star rating system. You can, for instance, create a ‘smart playlist’ for all your 5-star songs. It’s a cool feature.

My own rating system is pretty straightforward and it helps me to keep tabs on my music collection by saving only the songs I really like.

5 stars = GODLIKE GENIUS. A transcendent slice of perfection, like Sufjan Steven's sublime and heartbreaking Casimir Pulaski Day. In the pop realm, Your Love is the Place Where I Come From by Teenage Fanclub is one 5-star classic which never fails to reduce me to tears of ecstasy.

4 stars = ROCKS MY WORLD. Depending on my mood, maybe I wouldn’t want to hear this song every week, but it’s still a classic. Checking my iPod, I see that the hilarious Forest Whitiker by rapper Brother Ali as well as Neu’s early trance masterpiece Hallogallo both get four stars. I’ve heard those songs thousands of times and I still dig 'em.

3 stars is where we get into dodgy territory. These songs are borderline GOOD/UNDER APPRAISAL. They might make it to 4 or even 5 stars, but could become history if they don't get their act together and start to impress me. One example is The Funeral by Band of Horses. Haven't quite made up my mind on that one yet.

Let's see now. I notice here a couple of 3-star tracks by hip-hopper Lupe Fiasco. Hmmm. These songs charmed the critics, but so far they haven't really turned me on. Actually I just decided to delete them. Heh-heh. Behold the rating system in action. Bye-bye Lupe.

Deciding whether to keep or delete songs gives you a kind of vengeful power over artists and helps overcome feelings of gross inferiority. “So Mr. Dylan, you think you’re a big shot, huh? Well, let’s press Delete and see how you like that. ZAP! You’re HISTORY!”

2 stars = PROBABLE TURKEY. It’s very unusual for 2-star songs to stay on my iPod for long, but in my omnipotent wisdom I'm willing to give the little weeds a second chance. Any song which started as a 2-star and finally made it to 5 would be a grower, a definitive slow burn like David Sylvian's wondrous Late Night Shopping.

A single, solitary star can only mean one thing: CYBER-DEATH. Having no redeeming qualities, this pathetic little shrimp is taking up valuable disk space. My feelings of personal inadequacy evaporate as I gleefully dispatch it to the great recycle bin in the sky. Hasta la vista, baby.

Part 2: 5-Star Friend

iTunes song ratings can have serious repercussions on personal relationships. Last week I visited a good friend whom I respect and admire. Like me, he’s a music fan, and always has iTunes running.

As I entered his apartment, my eyes immediately darted to his desktop. What was he listening to? Aha. Country-noir singer Neko Case. A worthy choice.

But then. I noticed. Something. Very. Disturbing.

As my eyes swiftly scrutinized his ‘My Rating’ list, I noted with disbelief that
my friend had made an awful gaffe. In his infinite wisdom, he had awarded Beatles’ masterwork Come Together a miserly TWO STAR rating.

could hardly believe my eyes. I began to feel giddy and the walls of the apartment started to close in on me.

“What’s this?” I spluttered. “Only 2 stars for Come Together?”
“Well, I don't think it's one of their best...” he began lamely.

My lip started to quiver and I began to lose motor control.

“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND!? Two stars for one of the defining tunes of the sixties!? Come Together is a FIVE-STAR SONG, man!”

I was outraged. I was personally offended. I was a tad miffed.

I tried to fathom this inexplicable howler. Perhaps it was just a temporary aberration. My friend wasn’t thinking straight, I reasoned. He was tired and overworked. Yes, that must be it. He deserved patient understanding rather than rebuke.

But then the full seriousness of the situation hit me.

How could my friend, my pal, my 5-star drinking buddy have committed such an inexplicable blunder? How could THIS be happening to ME?

I could see I was going to have to re-evaluate our relationship.


kazami said...

Your writing gets better and more interesting with every post,Shiffi!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hey,thanks Kazami,
I really appreciate the encouragement!

romperstomper said...

Hey Shiffi! Did you make up with your 5 star friend yet?

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hi Romper Stomper,

Yes we are best of friends again. I felt kinda bad for 'outing' him for bashing Los Beatles, but he took it in his stride and decided to: "Keep moving, admit nothing.