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I was looking up some albums on amazon.com when I saw that Nas' Illmatic had a five star rating, out of 490 reviews (!). Similarly, I looked up Miles Davis, which expectedly, had also garnered five stars, despite being reviewed almost 600 times. My question is does anybody know where I can find a list of the highest rated album on amazon.com. If these two albums, which are among my personal favorites, have such high ratings, what other albums are out there in amazon universe which I am missing. Seems to me, amazon.com should be highlighting these five-star feats, as they are so rare. The Beatles, after all, don't even have a single five album. Even classics like OK Computer have only 4.5.
These are customer ratings. And half of those reviews are half-assed anyway and have not a clue what they are talking about. Plus, what difference does it make anyway? The Strokes' Is This It? only gets a 3.5 star average and it is widely considered to be the most acclaimed album of this decade.
System of a Down's Toxicity has a 4.5 star rating, even though it's completely gash. Most of the reviews are by 13 year olds.
It's undeniable that within any sort of acclaim, there exists a dichotomy between the professional critics and the public at large. What fascinates me about the amazon ratings is how it can show how large a discrepancy exists between a "people's classic" and that of the critic's. "Kind of Blue" particularly is fascinating because it represents a masterpiece that is not only the most acclaimed jazz album (just read Robert Palmer's liner notes to see what its fans will attest to) but also the most popular one among jazz fans and aficionados.
It's easy to dismiss they public as not knowing anything. However, they are also the best indicators of whether an album has been able to entertain as well as progress a musical genre. After all, when the Beatles came out, few of the musical critics took their innovations seriously. Only in retrospect do we find that even in their early pop tunes, the "And I Love Her" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" there was a brilliance overlooked.
Dima, good point. But I also believe that critics often make their opinions on what seems cool or gives them indie-cred. Perhaps the best example of the dichotomoy would probably be Oasis' Heathen Chemistry, which was very well received by fans, but backlashed by critics, unsurprisingly. The critics all make the same comments about Oasis not being able to scale the heights of Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory) and there are literally hundreds of reviews slandering the band for its "cocaine fuel excess" of Be Here Now, which was released in 1997, along with U2's ill-fated Pop-which also got similar backlash. Nothing new, just lazy journalism to fit the standard. Oasis will forever get panned regardless of the quality of its albums. The critics jumped on the bandwagon for the ever so slightly overpraised OK Computer, which took the luster away from a lot of acts that year. Basically what I'm saying critics only herald albums based on a general consensus among them. Going against the grain will cause them to suffer. Like this year, Sufjan Stevens is getting entirely too much glory as Franz Ferdinand and The Arcade Fire got similar reception. And that's not because they are great albums (although they are), it's because it's the accepted norm.