How to Write a Music Review

If you decide to order a song via the Internet or an album released by a particular musical group, it is possible to form an opinion of the item beforehand by reading various reviews. This is especially useful if you are unsure whether your purchase is right for you or not, and when it is in digital format, it is good to know what you are paying for. Music reviews are a popular form of writing in the media industry; they help consumers make the right choices, and they can determine whether a musician or group thrive or not. This guide explains how to write music reviews.

The Steps Involved in Writing Music Reviews

  • First, it will be necessary to listen intently to the song or album you intend writing a review on. Indeed, it is best to listen to it three or four times at least with breaks in between.
  • When listening to the music you are reviewing, make notes about its bad and good points, what you were impressed by, and what you were not impressed by.
  • When starting to write your music review, you will need to include a little background information e.g. the musical group 's name, the genre of the music, the track list of the album, release date, etc.
  • Once the background information has been written, you will need to evaluate the musical piece and write your thoughts on it, generally devoting one paragraph to each of your categories. The latter are often based on the piece 's lyrics (e.g., whether or not you found it meaningful), the instrumentation element, the vocal performances, the quality of the performance, your overall impression of the song or album and whether or not you thought it original. If the subject of your review is an album you could concentrate on specific tracks, but you need to ensure your review spans the entire album.
  • When the evaluation part is written, you can sum-up any impressions you had and allocate a rating. It is usual practice to use a five or ten-point rating, e.g., you might give a rating of 8/10 to the “New Kids on The Block” group.
  • Upon completion, your review will need to be edited a number of times to ensure any facts you provided about the group and/or its music are accurate.
  • In the event you are not a musical expert or do not work in the profession, providing an opinion on a piece of music you have recently heard can be rather difficult. It is for this reason you need to listen to the music a few times at least to absorb it. Once you have heard it a number of times, you should be able to recognize different nuances, and you may discover a special quality in each song (of course, you may think the music has nothing noteworthy in it, which can also form part of your written review).
  • When writing a music review, it is best to choose the language of feeling and emotion instead of hard facts. If, for instance, you describe the guitar playing as reasonably good, no one will take much notice. But if you say the guitar had a surreal and heavenly quality, you will create a more vivid and lasting impression.
  • Quality is more important than quantity. Music reviews are not a type of writing that needs to be long. A 250 word to 300-word review is sufficient. Just remember your writing should be good quality.
  • If it happens you especially like or dislike the music of the group or artist you are reviewing, you should try not to show bias. Such feelings are easy to spot, and this could detract significantly from the credibility of your work.

Things to Do and Not To Do

What You Should Do

  1. Write to the best of your ability so that your review is, if possible, outstanding. Writing reviews requires a unique way of expressing thoughts, feelings, and impressions. Otherwise, it may make boring reading.
  2. Try and make your review a persuasive piece of writing. If it is the case you liked a song or album, try and persuade your readers that it is worthy. If you did not, then try and get them to dislike it.
  3. Because comparison is sometimes the best way of illustrating something, compare the song or album you are reviewing with other music that is equally or more popular. However, this technique should not be over-used.
  4. Examine reviews that other people have written before starting your own because the experiences of others can be of great value. But make sure you are not too influenced by other opinions.

What You Should Not Do

  1. Do not demonstrate bias towards the subject of your review. To say you have been a fan of a particular band since you were a child because they are brilliant suggests you are biased and reduces the credibility of your work. Operate as an objective analyst and not as a member of a fan club.
  2. Do not forget you must make a main point. Should those reading your review buy a song or album or not? Would they be better listening to the live band? Make sure the conclusion you write is logical.
  3. Do not nit-pick too much, particularly if you were not keen on the original work. If the review you write is entirely negative, readers might again feel your bias. Bear in mind it is impossible to create perfection, so be kind to the subjects of your review.
  4. Do not write huge amounts. It is best to be concise and to-the-point than writing a text about nothing in particular.

Frequent Mistakes in Music Reviews

  • It is a mistake to display bias instead of critical objectivity in a music review.
  • Writing reviews that are too long and not specific enough is a mistake.
  • Another mistake is not checking the facts in your review after you complete it.
  • Making a review almost wholly positive or negative is not recommended.

Music Review Sample

Femi Kuti is one of the veritable superstars popular for his native Afro-beat which is a blend of the American Jazz and funk. This style was pioneered by his father Fela Kuti during the early 70s. A brief history of Kuti is that he was born in London in the year 1962 but raised in his native home in Lagos Nigeria. Kuti started of singing at an early age and later age and later became the leader of his father 's band. However, Femi went on to form his own band following his father 's afro beat traditions while incorporating more modern sound techniques such as hip hop soul and modern dance.

Just like his father, Femi Kuti 's music has always been seen to spark a lot of controversy since the main themes in the songs are such as politically charged commentaries, corruption, international neglect of Africa and African suffering as a result of poverty. As a result of this, Femi has taken a different perspective in life particularly after the release of his first album Africa for Africa. In this, Femi articulates a raw and forceful call to the long tradition of afro beat. Kuti was previously a member of the Cool Cats specifically as a singer in the highlife band. This led to the development of his style of music known as the highlife band. Within a short period of time, Kuti 's music had been promoted in the almost all the states in the US. Kuti has always admitted of having been influenced by the America Jazz style the reason why his music takes the approach of afro-jazz.

I attended a recent live concert of Femi Kuti and the Positive Force at Bimbo 's 365 Club in San Francisco, CA, US. From the beginning, one could tell that this was going to be a magnificent performance and I dint want to be left out. The live band was met with cheers from the ecstatic crowd. Fela Kuti 's band largely comprise of singers, dancers, saxophonists, trumpeters, drummers, and percussionists as well as numerous guitarist blending African rhythms and jazz horns. His type of music is that of afro-jazz blending in African traditional contemporary with modern sound techniques. During the concert, Kuti used the contemporary polyphonic approach where the harmonic progression of music was secondary to the progression of the relatively independent voices from the rest of the band. The development of the polyphonic technique of contemporary jazz is such that the effect is a simple imitation where one voice states the melody and the rest of the voices echo back the same. I quite loved the performance as it reminded me of Josquin Des Pres who is arguably one of the most influential individual in the world of polyphony.

Modern day jazz is slowly incorporating polyphony contrary to the previous years. Kuti particularly during the specific concert had a way of combining independent melodic lines without the concern of exact concordance. Some of the songs that were performed by the band during the concert were such as the famous; why black man dey suffer, stratavarious, open & close, Confusion Break Bones, Just Like That, Underground System and Coffin for Head of State. The music performed by Fela is one that incorporates jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional African chants and rhythms. The result of this is a string of jazz-like rhythms characterized by African-style percussion and vocals. Fela has also his own way of adding to the sound effects as seen throughout the concert through the use of various music equipments such as the drums, shekere, muted guitar, bass guitar and others. This goes well with African influenced music styles. One of the most notable characteristics throughout the performance is that of the call and respond used by Fela and the rest of the band to actively engage the audience in the music. Most of the songs were performed for a period of relatively ten minutes or less. However, most of the unreleased tracks were performed for up to forty five minutes during the concert.