Back when I hung out in a tree house—before I slept in one all through college—my friends and I spent time making secret codes to ensure privacy. The easiest, and therefore the best, was the standard A=1, B=2 trick, yet, we believed, spies were among us. We opted occasionally for the backwards alphabet code, Z=1, but I’m not entirely sure we all knew the alphabet that way. Field sobriety tests have proven to me that I don’t.
Those were the times of the Olympics, where figure skaters took the ice to receive a judgment from a panel of numbers on plastic. Those numbers could mean anything, from “you fell down, and therefore can’t skate” to “I hate your outfit and I hate you.” It’s up in the air, but is certainly a surefire way to select a champion. Them numbers don’t lie.
So, for better or worse, we took a page out of the old “scale of one-to-ten” book. We’ve abandoned the “G” system implemented this past fall in favor of a ten-digit system. To assist you in comprehension, I’ve included this easy-to-read explanatory ratings guide—like, you know, what our writers are thinking about when they assign these arbitrary numbers to an inanimate object. Two thumbs way up.
10 This work is one of the all-time best in the history of art. The concept is new, the delivery is perfect, and its overall presence is instrumental in the positive evolution of the human race.
9 Take number 10 and then make it worse, right? Then say it’s a little better than that (don’t get me wrong—it was okaaaay) and write random things you liked to bulk up the review. Don’t like the album art? 9. Movie theater had uncomfortable seats? 9. Overnight robo-tripping experience led to persistent vomiting whenever you heard a certain actor/singer’s voice? 9.
8 Most of what you will see will probably receive this rating. The artist didn’t quite go the extra mile in creating this derivative, middle America, run-of-the-mill piece of work. But then again, you didn’t quite go the extra mile when you wrote the review. And hey, the hip kids are all raving about it, and you want the PR company to send you more stuff, so 8 it is.
7 “God, do I really have to write this review? Holy shit, it’s like 4:30 a.m., boss is gonna have my ass. I never went to see this political thriller/sci-fi flick/documentary because I can’t even find my way to the theater. I’ll just write a barrage of quotes from the movie and give it the most ambivalent score I can.” But other people said it was pretty good.
6 Overall, it was disappointing, but not without a great deal of guilt for what you earlier reviewed as a “promising band with the potential to become the next big thing.” This rating can prove that you aren’t a bad-hearted guy, but this is simply too lukewarm for you to have any desire to even write about it for more than a half page.
5 Can you be a bit more middle of the road? Let me guess, when you come to the U.S./Canada border, you stand with your legs on opposite sides. You make your friends take pictures. This happens every time. You can’t decide whether to eat at Chili’s or Applebee’s, so you just don’t eat. You frequently make the sound “eeehhhhhhhh” in the back of your throat when people ask you questions. Shit like, “What did you think of it?” or, “What’s your take on The Eagles?”
4 The most sophomoric, dull ideas, expressed by an artist that you’d have no problem defecating on. Preferably a sequel to a terrible sci-fi movie we got free passes to or some awful hardcore band that hails from Buffalo and has relatives at this school.
3 Reviewed in The Spectrum. It got a B-.
2 No one will listen to this CD, but will naturally form an opinion based on the notorious history of whatever crap program they watched about this artist on MTV, VH1, or E!.
1 An entire fucking dissertation can be prepared on the ways this work has negatively impacted the society in which we live. Every imaginable detail has been given to criticism—track names, the style of media used, and its utterly incoherent plot structure. Think Battlefield Earth with John Travolta or anything ever done by a member of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. The work has been meticulously investigated over a period of days to most certainly be a failed, miserable attempt at attention for the artist.
Pulse—Excellence. Integrity. Justice.