Monday, January 8, 2007

Book6 - A Musical Rating System

Many of you out there in the great wide world may enjoy listening to and discussing music, but find yourselves constantly asking: "How can I compare one song to another? One album to the next?"
This is a good question, and one that should be asked. It is also a question which has many implications. Can a 2 minutes and 6 second Ramones song be compared to an 11 minute Jackson Browne ballad? Isn't that like attempting to compare apples to oranges? The answer, in this case, that it is more like comparing oranges to rotten apples, because Jackson Browne is a boring, uncreative artist. But the point remains -- how can one honestly compare music that originates from different eras, countries, styles, etc?

Well, the good news is that the question has been settled, because I have developed a Musical Rating System called Book6. Like many musical enthusiasts do, I would imagine, my computers music system (MusicMatch Jukebox) offers a rating system for the purpose of sorting one's catalogue which I have spent hours carefully keeping up to date with each new album I purchase and copy onto my Dell DJ (no joke).

For the purpose of clarity at the outset, Book6 is only designed to compare complete albums to each other. Now, you could take your rating system offered by MusicMatch or iTunes (MusicMatch uses a 1 to 5-star system) and judge an album simply by averaging the number of stars by the number of tracks, but this would be wrong. This method does not properly punish an album for having terrible songs (1- and 2-stars), or, conversely give enough reward for containing a rare gem of a 4- or 5-star song. In addition, it does not take into account the time length of an album. An 11 minute 2-star song should not be compared without prejudice for its unfortunate length to a 3 minute and 30 second 2-star song.

Book6 Musical Rating System solves all that. Book6 is a mathematical equation to establish an album's rating taking into account all these factors and more, and is so named because when it was first created it was the 6th new Workbook open in my Excel program. From here on out, I will not mention any albums on the blog without posting its Book6 Score.

To introduce you to the system, I have run the analysis on each the albums that has been thus far introduced onto the blog - one from each contributing member.

Jack the Rabbit:
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America

Book6 Rating: 3.273
You can read my full review for all my thoughts on this one.

Little Gun:
Josh Ritter - The Animal Years

Book6 Rating: 3.769
Despite Little Gun's insinuations that I wouldn't have the spiritual depth to understand an album like this, it is actually an album I have owned for some time and my appreciation for it grows with time.

Little Dynamite:
Ray LaMontagne - TTSTB

Book6 Rating:
Though this album is, in my opinion, no where near as brilliant as Trouble, it is an excellent album from a soulful guy who I would pay good money to see anywhere, anytime. And that is a very high compliment.

So far, Little Gun has posted on the best album. The Book6 formulas are, at this point, proprietary information that I will not reveal (and are of course under constant review). I may reveal the secrets in an appendix if Gun and Dynamite want to take a stab at calculating scores using their own opinions on a song/album's merits on the 5-star system, or if I get so much flack for this that I am forced to disclose the methodology.

As a final point, you may be wondering how to assess this information. What does at score of 2.818 really mean? Similar to the Quarterback Rating, maybe it is easiest to gauge an album score's merit by comparing it to the Holy Grail of studio recordings.

Astral Weeks from the insurmountable talent of a twenty-something Van Morrison checks in with a Book6 Rating of 7.516.

Damn right, Van.

Two 4-star Tracks for your Enjoyment:

Bob Schneider - Lorena

Jeff Tweedy (wilco) - I Shall Be Released (Live at Vic Theatre, Chicago, March 2005)


Little Dynamite said...

I don't know if I can trust anything that gives Ray LaMontagne a 2.something -- is 0 the lowest? Because there's gotta be a lot of bunching between Ray at 2.8 and 0.

Jack the Rabbit said...

Good point -

I've tweaked the system. Now the ratings are following:

Boys and Girls...


The Animal Years

Astral Weeks

In addition, the lowest you could possibly get is indeed a zero (though very unlikely. The highest score you could get, with say 11 tracks and 52 minutes of music, is 1,212.

Rock on. Album Rating Reviews are $15 an album (enough for me to purchase it).