How to Write a Music Review


How to write a good music review

This was written by a student editor for his peer group.  This gives you an idea of this kinds of materials students make up for instructing each other.



At its heart a music review is your opinion, meant to answer a simple question-is the album you listened to worth fifteen dollars of some parent's hard-earned money?  It isn't meant to be an epic-length piece on whether your band prefers boxers or briefs -that would be a music feature-but a good album or concert reviewer needs to incorporate background information and anecdotes as well as criticism of the performance in question.

A music review ought to follow the same basic formula as a news article, though a music article is allowed to bend the rules much more than a news piece.


1.    The important information should come up front-is the album good or would it make your Grandma turn off her hearing aid? (Leave the boasts about your sexual encounter with the lead singer to the last few paragraphs.) A good music review makes the reviewer's opinion absolutely clear,


2.    Don't quote more than a few choice lyrics and don't analyze every song in detail.  Make your points with one or two good examples.  Some potential points to talk about:

a.     lyrics -meaningful? inane?  A gorilla reference in every tune?

b.    quality of performance -does the guitarist sound more like Jirni Hendrix or your three year-old sister?

c.     the album as a whole -is it a bunch of slow songs putting you to sleep or is there variety in the material?

d.    originality? evidence of change since the last album? 


3.    Compare the artist's current work with past efforts (if possible) and to work by other artists in the same genre.


4.    Provide background information on the performer yo&re reviewing.  Limp Monkey may be your favorite band, but that doesn't mean anyone else has heard of them. (Background info, however, must not become the focus of a story.)


The preceding laundry list wasn't handed down to me on stone tablets, so feel free to experiment.  Many of the best music pieces incorporate a theme which runs throughout the article.  An article on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (a swing band, you moron), for example, might make liberal use of phrases like "big bad voodoo cocktail waitress," 'big bad voodoo hat" or 'hepcat.' (Note: these terms would be less appropriate in an article about 01'Dirty Bastard.) Remember, though, not to saturate your article with such novelty lines.  Our goal is not to make the reader vomit.

Said reader, after all, is the target of your article and must be kept in mind at all times.  This does not mean that you must confine your reviews to commercial radio play lists, but that you should take care not to leave the reader upset.