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Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I don't know if this topic's been covered or not, but here it goes...

I was wondering if there's any real difference between someones favorite album/song/etc. and what one would consider to be the best album/song/etc.
For example, "Astral Weeks" might be your favorite album, but "Unknown Pleasures" is the album you'd rank the highest.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

IMO, there is no difference.
If an album is my favorite, it is the best I know. For instance, when doing a poll on this forum I always rank my personal favorites.

Doing otherwise would mean that when making a list, you take other people's opinions into consideration.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

An album could be considered an artists "best" based on what the album accomplished, but it still might not be my personal favorite. For instance, the Velvet Underground and Nico is widely considered the Velvet Underground's best album. It was an extremely important album that was the first of its kind in many ways and the music on it is phenomenal. I can acknowledge that and still say that their s/t record is my "favorite" if it's the one I might enjoy a little more for various personal reasons.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

It depends on what you consider 'best'. If it is associated with creativity, originality, importance/influence, than I would say there is a difference. An album can have all these characteristics, but if it fails to hit you emotionally, than it will never become your favorite.
nicolas, I think you call an album 'best' if it has more than only the associations above, you also need that emotional part.

Think I've posted this here before about a year ago, but I used to classify music on 3 pilers: 'goed' (that's Dutch for good), 'mooi' (beautiful) and 'leuk' (funny), where the combination of the three determines if it becomes a favorite or not. associations to these 3 categories are:
1) good -> creativity, originality, importance/influence, etc.
2) beautiful -> harmonious, goose bumps, etc.
3) funny -> happy making, hoppy boppy, good mood, etc.

Does that make any sense?

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

So, to me, Astral Weeks and Unknown Pleasures are both not 'funny', but both 'good' and 'beautiful'. I favorize Astral Weeks, because it is more beautiful

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I can definitely agree that there is a difference between best and favorite. There's no way I would argue that Kylie Minogue is "better" than the Beatles, but I sure as heck like her more.

Examples based on artists I like:

I like Prince's Controversy more than Purple Rain, although I know that Purple Rain is better.

I like The Curse of Blondie more than Parallel Lines.

I like Earthling more than Ziggy Stardust.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I must respectfully disagree with nicolas. There’s a big difference between “best” and “favorite.”

To use a personal example that I’ve used before: whenever I make a list of my personal top artists, the top three are always the Beatles, the Clash, and R.E.M. If I decide #1 based only on which is my favorite, that’s R.E.M. Now, are they *really* better than the Beatles?

I listen to R.E.M. probably ten times as often as I listen to the Beatles. If I had to choose this second between hearing “Maps and Legends” or “A Day in the Life,” well, pop Fables in the CD player. But if I’m honest, I have to acknowledge that the Beatles were a better band. Sometimes I acknowledge that, and I go with the Fab Four, as I think I did the last time we had a poll (and if I’m too conflicted to decide, the Clash makes a good compromise). Sometimes, you have to get outside your own head, and even your own heart, and recognize that your opinions may be limiting you.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Most people tend to use 'best' and 'favorite' interchangeably. It's a tough distinction to make, because while there is no objective 'best', you can't really say there's no quality difference between the Beatles and the Backstreet Boys beyond subjective taste.

I think in order to use the word 'best' you have to qualify what best means. Does it mean, most technically skilled? Most difficult to write? Most influential? If you don't say what you specifically mean by 'best', the word either gets substituted for personal taste, or devolves into quibbling about definition.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

"But if I’m honest, I have to acknowledge that the Beatles were a better band."

Are they? I don't think the Beatles are even in the top 10 bands as far as skill goes...

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

- I do use "best" and "favorite" interchangeably quite often, but that is because an album's aesthetic value is also an important factor in deciding what is the "best" and "favorite." After all, there is still a certain amount of subjectiveness in deciding what's "best" in an artistic field such as music.

- That being said, however, I still recognize the difference to a degree. To use the Beatles as an example (because I don't think anyone's ever done that before), I truly believe that Sgt. Pepper's is their best album because of it's accomplishments in addition to how good the songs are. But when it comes to the Beatles albums I listen to most for pure pleasure, the White Album and Rubber Soul finish just a hair ahead of Sgt. Pepper's.

— Now it's time to shamelessly shill myself. I think I mentioned once before quite some time ago that I write music reviews for the newspaper I work for. I wouldn't call myself a critic because a) some of you have this irrational hatred of critics, and b) because it's only about 10%-20% of what I actually do for a living. Do to the burn out of pumping out four rev,iews every couple of weeks for the past five years I'm slowing down a little this year and only doing five reviews per month. But to fill the space, I'm also doing a monthly feature that is a list of the month sort-o-thing. If you'd like to check it out, here is the link. Thanks, and the more hits the better.


Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Maybe we put different things into these words. To me, they mean something like
best = the piece of music I admire most
favorite = the music I most often listen to

Like schleuse, this can be different things for me. I consider The Beatles as the best/greatest band in music history, but if I search through a record collection I get happier if I find a Depeche Mode album.

Moonbeam, although I don't think that you would use the same translations as me above (I don't think you admire Beatles more than Kylie), it's interesting that while I make my lists mostly in terms of 'best', you make lists your based on your favorites, which admittedly sounds more fun.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"


I definitely make my lists based on favorites! The major reason for this is that I do not feel that I have any authority whatsoever nor the background and scope to make a claim of what is "best", except perhaps within the scope of certain artists' discographies. I've also got huge biases that shape my opinion. I have a thing for icy cold synth pop, delicious funk bass and the overall sound of the 80s that irrevocably shapes my opinions. Plus, I can't really say something is the "best" unless I've heard all of the other eligible candidates.

As for the definition of best and favorite, Henrik's is a pretty good one, although it doesn't always fit.

I probably do listen to Ziggy Stardust more than Earthling, but the idea of a 50-year old dying his hair bright orange and unleashing a synth-industrial album tickles me pink (or orange, hehe).

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Favorite = The music that is best for me, considering sentimental factors and my own individual quirks (i.e., Tom T. Hall, The Kinks).

Best = The music that I believe has earned the most acclaim, objectively speaking, considering musicianship, creativity, historical context, influence, originality (i.e., The Beatles, Bob Dylan).

I could make a list based on either standard and the list would be different, but I feel a lot more comfortable listing my favorites, because I am an expert in that category only.

Also, there is a good deal of overlap between the two.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I understand the distiction between objective and subjective (although it is philosophically questionnable). Let us say the difference between your opinion and the common standards.

But I still disagree. What the majority (or the intellectual "authorities") think is not what I call "best". It is what Henrik called in a very appropriate way, "acclaimed".

It is a very important difference, and I second Dumbangel when he says "be your own critic". that's my approach on musical writing. In my reviews on the net, I only write about my "favorites" (except this year I did the Portishead album and another my editor asked me to write about). Ask me about my top 10 of 2008 and you'll end up with something that sounds like you're back in 1970 !!!
If you say what's best is what others find best, what's the use ?

Now, when I make a list, like a top 100 or somthing, the only "compromise" I make now is to limit the number of albums by the same artist. Or there would be 6 Springsteen albums, 5 Beatles, 5 Brassens, etc..

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

"Sometimes, you have to get outside your own head, and even your own heart, and recognize that your opinions may be limiting you. "

That doesn't stop me from doing this. Or else I wouldn't spend a lot of my time on a forum with a majority of indie-Radiohead-Pixies-TVOR fans !

and I doscovered fine things, like The Cure, Eminem, that are now.. part of my favorites.

PS : I'd love to know how to get outside of my own head and heart... Well, I don't know in fact... Rising above yourself and seeing your own body from above... (I'm kidding of course)

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Didn't we have a similar discussion about a year ago? And like then, when I posted my opinion, I did not get any reaction. So, I can assume I'm writing nonsense, as usual ...

Talking about going out of your head and heart, as a mathematician, I right away have to think of Gödel and his incompleteness theorems. The basic idea there is, you sometimes need to go outside a 'system' to be able to prove (or understand) something inside the system. The system is limiting you. Out-of-the-box thinking, to name a popular management slogan related to that.

But to get back to the point ... I second BillAdama that it is all about how you define "best".

nicolas, writing reviews or voting in polls without compromises keeps you authentic!

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I remember now this 3-factor analysis of music. It is pretty interesting.
Interesting. Makes me thing of Plato's theory of tri-partition of the soul, with (basically)

- the head (nous): spirit, intelligence, reason
- the heart : feelings, courage
- the underbelly : desire

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

And I found the discussion about a year ago.

It is in this thread (you have to click on next and start reading as of "Jan 24th, 2008 - 4:56 PM". jonmarck (we really lost him during Survivor, right?) started a discussion about whether we "enjoy" or "appreciate" songs and make our votes based on that. Quite interesting to read that again ...

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

God, after reading that I feel like an old guy who keeps on repeating the same things, or an old couple having the same argument year after year

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

For me personally, "Best" is music that's well-crafted and usually without lyrics that don't look embarrassing on a page.

"Favorites" are songs that I might have irrational love for because I associate them with a period of time in my life (Bad English's "When I See You Smile") or just a genre fondness quirk (my love for 70s cheese pop means I own more Osmonds than anyone should.)

That's not to say there isn't a wide degree of overlap between the two. But they are different IMHO.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

If there's a difference between favorite and best to anyone, all it tells me is that he/she is insecure about his/her favorite album.

Either that, or that person merely has an idea of what the majority of people SHOULD deem their favorite album (and therefore, best album).

But who the heck am I to decide what album should be everyone else's consensus favorite?

Disintegration has been my favorite album for many years now, and therefore, it is the best album ever made as far as I'm concerned.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

at last someone with sense !

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

If there was no difference between best and favourite, then the term "guilty pleasure" would not exist.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

and if that guilt didn't exist ?
it is just the fear of what other people will think etc
I guess the older I get the less guilty I get about my tastes

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

The pitfall of just calling 'best' what has the most aesthetic value to you though is that you do like like all sorts of music equally. I'm not as big a fan of rap as I am of other genres, but who am I do say that all rap is objectively weaker than the best rock?

Then there's classical. The all time greatest classical is objectively better than the all time greatest rock, but I like listening to the rock a whole lot more because it speaks much more to me personally. I see classical music sort of like Roman statues in a museum. While their aesthetic value doesn't communicate with me much, I can still appreciate their greatness.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

no difference, imo

i've said before that i don't believe in guilty pleasures. i don't feel "guilt" about anything that i like...a strange concept...i think of it like this: i'm cool, therefore anything i like is cool

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I'm sorry. I enjoy Tom T. Hall more than I enjoy The Beatles, but I KNOW that The Beatles are objectively more important and accomplished artists than Tom T. Hall.

Should I change my mind about what appeals to me and start liking The Beatles more than I like Tom T. Hall?

Should I go around like a jackass telling everyone else that Tom T. Hall is "better" than The Beatles?

Or should I be able to recognize the individual quirks in my peculiar taste and make a distinction between "favorite" and "best"?

The third option makes the most sense to me.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Ok we need some SERIOUS word defining here before we can go on any further with this discussion.

Already I've seen the term "best" interpreted a million different ways, including:

- most technically skilled
- most mass/universal appeal
- most inventive/influential
- most emotionally stimulating (the one I go by)

...and on and on and on.

But there's a basic and major point that needs to be made. What is the ultimate point of music? Why are all of us so invested in it?

Is it not because of the emotional response we get from it? To those who answer yes, why would anyone judge music by any other scale?

So to me, there's not any way to distinguish between best and favorite, UNLESS we're talking about any other factor than individual emotional response. Then you have an argument, but I'll still disagree with the perameters.

And I absolutely cannot STAND when people point to consensus opinions on art. So what if Bob Dylan is praised to no end by countless critics and fans alike? What does he do for YOU? Following opinions like sheep just results in circular thought and doesn't allow for progression.

I can think of countless artists and bands I think of more highly than Bob Dylan, and I'm not about to concede the point just because I'm in the minority. That's cheating the world of an honest opinion, and when that happens over and over again, all you get is a completely false and made up "consensus best."

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Let me put it another way:

I can make an argument that Bob Dylan is "better" than Bruce Springsteen.

I can't make an argument that somebody does (or should) favor Bob Dylan over Bruce Springsteen.

If we eliminate the distinction between "best" and "favorite" everything would become a matter of personal taste and there would no reason to critcally examine the relative merits of various artists because nobody would have any basis or authority for claiming that one artist should be more favored than another. All of music nerdom would break down.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Paul, I understand your point, but I don't have this problem : my second or third favorite artist (after Springsteen, of course, and maybe Brassens)are the Beatles , and if you look at AM's top 20, they are all part of my favorite .
The first group which is not part of my favorite is U2 (and i have reservations about Radiohead)
Maybe that's why I make no difference, but whatever ? I fully second Musictoad who doesn't favor Dylan.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I mean I love Dylan but I can understand somebody doesn't love him and doesn't have to have Dylan waved at his face by evrybody tellimg him he's the best artist of all times.
We were talking about critics in another thread, and i really like this French guy named Ungemuth who's not afraid of saying he doesn't like Pink Floyd, radiohead or Steely dan. He even made a list of the worst bands of all time, that included a lot of "best". That was a charge against the politically correct, and that was sane I guess.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

There reason there needs to be a distinction between "favorite" and "best" is that nobody has any business discussing what is a legitimate or appropriate favorite of another person.

But we can have a reasoned discussion about what parameters should be considered in attempting to make an objective evaluation of an artist.

- most technically skilled
- most inventive/influential
- etc.

And we can have a reasoned discussion about how each artist rates under these various standards.

When we are discussing the relative merits of various objective factors, we are necessarily speaking in the realm of "bests" rather than "favorites." (I don't want to give that up in favor of a touchy-feely world where emotional responses are the only valid currency of critical discussion.)

You might not agree that Dylan is better than Springsteen, but I want to live in a world that lets me make the argument.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

"All of music nerdom would break down."

I disagree wholeheartedly. Music nerdom would turn for the better. I would love to live in a world where at least one popular list of all-time music artists didn't include The Beatles, VU, Bob Dylan, or even Radiohead as much as I love them.

Basically, I think people are sheep, to put it bluntly.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Music nerds are people that are "cooler" than the rest of the world because they like "better" music than the ordinary slobs. They "know" what the reson of us are missing.

Music nerds could not justify their existence based solely on having superior emotional responses. There is no such thing as a superior emotional response.

Music nerds need the sense of objective superiority to sustain themselves.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Typo: They "know" what the REST of us are missing.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

You say "I would love to live in a world where at least one popular list of all-time music artists didn't include The Beatles, VU, Bob Dylan, or even Radiohead as much as I love them."

Why? If all we are talking about are people's favorite artists based on their subjective emotional responses, what difference does it make?

Do you think the rest of the world should share your emotional responses? Or could it be that you feel some deserving artists are under-appreciated?

If the latter, what makes them "deserving"? Surely it can't be anything subjective. Could it be that they are, in some way, "better" than the more popular artists?

There would be no such thing as "deserving" acclaim/popularity in a world where the ony valid metric is subjective emotional response.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I would love to live in a world where at least one popular list of all-time music artists didn't include The Beatles, VU, Bob Dylan, or even Radiohead as much as I love them.

You're welcome.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

That's the problem. I don't believe those artists (Beatles, et al) make every list because of subjective opinions. I believe they are up there because objectivity plays waaay too much of a role when critics rate music. That's been my point all along.

In fact, sometimes it's not even objectivity. I know that all major music publications, even Pitchfork, are ruled with an iron fist and reviews and ratings are changed and edited to conform with the gernal agenda of the publication. Individual opinion be damned.

Let me ask you a question.

Do you really believe that most critics have either The Beatles, VU, or Bob Dylan as their most favorite artist?

I highly doubt it.

I think this phenominan has permeated the general music snob, too. Look at RYM, compare the charts with the message boards, and tell me they are consistant.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I don't think it is the job of a critic to list their "favorite" artists as the "best."

I might try to explain why I like the unusual artists that I like (using objective terms), but if I were a critic ranking the 100 best albums, I would not list my 100 personal favorites.

Anybody can list their favorites. The skill of a critic is being able to make and communicate a more objective assessment.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

By that rationale, some critic could declare Sgt Pepper a better album than, say, Abba's The Visitors even though he detests the former and the latter is his all time favourite album...
To my mind, that has nothing to do with applying the 'skill' of the critic. Attempting to 'communicate a more objective assessment' to something as fundamentally emotional as musical appreciation is not only patronising and self-defeating, but also suggests a lack of any genuine passion for music.

Just for the record, The Visitors is not my all time favourite album by any stretch of the imagination.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

i don't see any point in anyone (critic or not) trying to list the "objective" 100 best albums. in fact, i don't even know what that would mean. i guess it would look like the acclaimed music list...or is that your point? that consensus approaches objective whereas individuality leads to, i dunno, solipsism?

a critic, or a good critic, has heard more music, or more of a certain type of music, and studied its context, genesis, evolution, etc., than your average listener (and also is able to write not just competently but engagingly). but still this doesn't remove him/her from his/her own social circumstances - language, sexual preference, (ir)regularity of bowel movements, etc. - that create his/her personal taste, consciously or not. and i rather not have this critic try to suppress those. i don't know what's wrong with an emotional response. is it somehow more conditioned than a, um, intellectual response? when it comes down to it, i'd rather listen to music than talk about it...

i hope that everyone here, and elsewhere, when creating a list for the purpose of this forum or otherwise, lists his/her personal 100 favorite albums (i don't care if they're influential, critically acclaimed, technically accomplished, etc.). please let me know if you don't so i know whose lists to ignore...

there are greater philosophical implications at stake here, that probably needn't be discussed on this forum, but as nicolas has implied, the subject-object relation is no longer the sturdy thing it once was...

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Never mind.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Sorry for my bad attitude, but are you telling me that I now have to go around telling people that Tom T. Hall is a better artist than The Beatles because I, personally, enjoy his music more?

Am I not allowed to acknowledge my own odd tastes and concede that The Beatles' accomplished more, artistically, while still preferring Tom T. Hall? If I can make this concession, am I not distinguishing between a "favorite" and a "best"?

Or are you telling me that there is no such thing as "best"?

If there is no such thing as "better" and "best," then why have I been wasting my time with Bracketology, Survivor, and the Hall of Fame? Were those just pointless exercises in comparative feelings?

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

This is my last post on this topic, I promise.

The result of eschewing objective criticism in favor of an entirely subjective view of the world (where everyone just lists their personal favorites without resort to any artistic standards) would be to abandon, altogether, the concept of artistic value.

This is necessarily so because artistic value, by definition, is an objective concept.

While it may offend the sensibilities of the modern, politically-correct world, I find discussions about artistic value to be enjoyable and thought-provoking, and I do not let them interfere with my own subjective enjoyment of the music I like.

In my opinion, the existence of the concept of artistic value--and the debates surrounding what does or should constitute artistic value--make for a richer environment in which to enjoy popular music (and all art forms).

I guess I just wasn't made for these times.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I figure I should add my two cents.

Let's say that there are two hypothetical bands.
Redwater and Greenwood. Redwater are the most talented in their respective instruments, most creative, influential, and revolutionary band of all time. Yet you despise their music. Greenwood are mediocre in everything Redwater excel at, yet they're your favorite band. Now which band is better?
I'd say Greenwood because they posses a certain subjective quality that makes you like their music more. One that Redwater simply does not have.

I believe this quality is the ability to incite an emotional response from you. Something that for whatever reason, Redwater cannot do.

To me my favorite artist and the one I call the best are not only the same, but the one that I like the most. That artist is the one I get the strongest emotional response from, whether or not that response is aided by technical ability, or any other objective quality.

Sorry this was so long.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

But how would you back up your argument that Greenwood is the better band? Would you simply say, "Greenwood is the best because I like them the best." (Which is basically what you're saying boiled down to one sentence.) That's a circular argument.

I don't think it's impossible to distinguish between "best" and "favorite," but I do think there is some crossover. i.e. they are not the same, however, they are not mutually exclusive, either.

I agree that a person's emotional response to a band is part of the equation, but it's not the whole story.

As someone already pointed out, you CAN'T argue "favorite." For example, "Purple Rain" is my favorite album of the '80s. That's it, end of discussion, you can't argue with a statement that is fact.

You can, however, based on other criteria, argue "best." For example, "Playing With Fire" is the best album of the decade so far. Now we can have a debate. And that's part of what makes this site so much fun.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

P.S. Although I do truly believe "Playing With Fire" is the best album of the decade, it's actually only my fifth or sixth favorite.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Paul and Rocky, I understand your point : you think there should be objective standards by which we could judge an artist, album , song, so we could discuss it and noy only say "I like" or "I don't like". A kind of natural law of rock'n roll analysis.

i think there is not one answer. There are people who don't like to rely on their own opinions, and there are some who think music is mainly a questional of personal response and hasn't got to be trapped by "objective" thinking.
How am i gonna say an album is the best if it's not what I think (but other people) ? ANd it is not true that our "opinion" our "favorite" are the sole results of emotional response.

ANd let us not forget the meaning of art. It is not an exact science, there is no result in the end (unlike sports or the Stock exchanges).
But of course everyone tries to separate the wheat from the chaff, or there wouldn't be an Acclaimedmusic site.

It is I think a question of personality. Some people (and critics) are more prone to "objective thinking", some not. LIke newspapers : you have newspapers of informations, newspapers of opinion.

I think that what I can bring to this site (and to the people who read me from time to time on my blog or on etat-critique site) is my own sensibility to a certain approach of music (which is, by the way, kinda emotional). What I'm interested in in music is personal expression (that's why I love blues and folk)and how it reaches your inner being, something that is far beyond the range of words and reason.

But that doesn't stop me to discuss the merits of artists. we are not islands. But we are not clones and there is no musical Big brother to decide what's "best" for us.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

At the risk of sounding painfully ignorant, I've never seen the point in giving a song/ album praise unless that song/ album evokes a strong emotional response. To me, it doesn't matter how skilled the artist is if they can't evoke that response. You can admire the songs qualities, and the artists skill, but I'd never put that song on any "best of all time/decade/year/etc." list. But for the most part, skill and ability to evoke a response go hand in hand. For the most part.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Sorta, nicolas. I think we agree closely on this, but are just coming at it from different angles.

I'm saying personal taste DOES play a big part in what a person believes to be the "best" and should be a large part of that argument. After all, a person obviously has reasons why something is his or her "favorite." And for people who actually think about the music they like, those reasons go beyond merely saying, "It's my favorite because I like it."

You yourself gave reasons why you like folk and blues. They're damn good reasons, and reasons why those types of music can be among the "best" in the hands of masters. But I'm also saying that just "liking" a band is not the only criterion for deciding if it's the "best," whereas it is the only criterion for "favorite."

That said, I don't think there should be hard and fast rules for deciding what's "best." Each person makes his or her own judgments based on aesthetics, quality, influence, innovativeness, uniqueness, so on and so forth.

To sum it up, I would say there is a difference, but the two are also closely related. Especially for those of us who love music, listen to a lot of music and obviously think a lot about it. Otherwise, you'd just be the average radio listener who just wants a diversion with music and nothing more.

I hope I'm clear and not just long-winded.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

that's crystal clear and I agree with you

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

we reach an agreement after overday and overnight negociations... it's like Camp David her !

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Excellent debate everyone. I love these philosophical threads!
Like any debate, everyone participating is partially right (so this means that is partially wrong too). But as the Camp David analogy we can reach an agreement…
I understand perfectly that “best” and “favourite” is not the same, and probably Henrik’s definition is the most accurate, although I could define “best” as the “collective” choice (the consensus choice) and “favourite” as the “individual” choice (the personal choice). In my case, I always name my personal lists as “favourite” and never “best”. Who am I to say what’s best?
From the previous posts it’s obvious that there’s no objective measurement of goodness in music, like (and sorry for the analogy) there’s no objective measurement of pain. In medical studies about pain in a given surgical procedure (for instance) the patient is asked to “rate” his/her pain in a scale from 0 to 10. Just like our polls and our lists, you see.
So, having demonstrated that it’s impossible the “objective” approach, I’d like to introduce a new point to the debate. The “subjective” approach is even more inexact. I mean, tastes are not congenital, are always acquired. At the end, “I like it” and “I don’t like it” is not enough. Everyone needs education for their tastes. One simple example can illustrate this: probably you remember the first time you tasted whiskey. I’m sure that no one said “hmm, delicious” but probably “aaargh, that’s disgusting”. Try to remember this when you’re having a chat with some friends with the splendid savour of a Scotch (or a Bourbon) on your mouth.
So we all need education and culture to fully appreciate music. At least people like us that care about music. The vast majority of people do not search actively information about music, and this passive approach is the responsible of all the crap in the charts (remember that Rune’s thread about what’s hot in your country?, believe or not, the actual number one in Spain is Raphael, probably the most ridiculous singer ever, please, please, don’t click on the link, damn, you’ve done it!).
So we all need information to shape our tastes. That’s the importance of the critics, channel the flood of music that’s out there to stand out what’s relevant to this shaping. And where we must look for this kind of information? What a question! On Acclaimed Music, of course.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Holy smoke, only gone for a day to see that a huge intensive discussion has evolved here!

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

thank you, Doctor Honorio, for concluding the debate.
See you next year for the next session (when we have forgotten, Alzheimer is not very far.. )

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

No, please, don’t consider this interesting debate over. Please.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

ok, of course, I didn't want to close it if somebody has something to add

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I's my favorite because I like it, I like it because it evokes a strong emotional response, and it evokes this because of (list any subjective quality you can think of) that's how I rate my music.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

If you want to continue, I'll continue...

I said before that there's a difference between "best" and "favorite" for me, and that I make my personal list based on what's "best". I'd like to clarify that "best" here means "best in MY EARS" (which has little to do with overall acclaim, otherwise my personal lists would be AM copies).

When I think more about this, "best" and "favorite" almost go hand in hand, but if we're talking about "what I personally think is best" and "my personal favorites" (this is what we're talking about, right?) I still think that there is a difference, and I'd like to explain this once more, using an example with film ratings - my wife and I always rate every film we see and while her ratings are more favorite-based my ratings are more best-based.

1. Let's say that we have seen a film that became a personal favorite to both of us because it had a story that we could really relate to and therefore moved us a lot. The acting was also above average but not superb. Then it's likely that she would rate it 5/5 ("I was really moved by this film") while I would give it 4/5 ("Personally, I was really moved by this film, but in a broader sense I don't think it was a masterpiece").

2. Now say that we have seen a film that we both thought was extremely well-played. We weren't particularly interested in the film's subject, although we both thought the story was well told. However, we felt that the film was a quite "heavy", not one that we would like to see once again. In this case, she would probably rate it 3/5 ("I realise that this is a very good film but I wasn't personally moved by it") while I would give this film 4/5 as well ("a very good film although I can't say I was personally moved by it").

Does this make any sense? Who are you, my wife or me?

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I was and I'll be always the or, Henrik... (courtesy of Funny Bones... somehow)

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I think we can have differing opinions and still be right. A wiser man than me once said (paraphrasing) "Proverbs contradict one another, that is the wisdom of mankind."

Who is to say which of these is right? They are opposites but both true.
"He who hesitates is lost."
"Look before you leap."

I'm probably even contradicting myself right now.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I think I'm a little bit more like your wife.
I rate almost every album I've heard (see my
RYM page). My overall lists are based on those ratings.
I guess that if I rated like you, I'd probably given TV On the Radio a 4 or something (well executed but not moving)
On the other hand, i realize that I'm rarely moved by something that's not well crafted or well executed. I may be moved by albums that are not very original or new (like on my page Al Green or Olson/Louris).
Looking at my all-yime top 200, I 've realized that the main criteria for me is not originality in the form.
Moreover, i can love very simple things (Nebraska), but my favorite album is a jazz-rock-avant-garde-progressive album rather complex in its making.
No, the main criteria is that evry one of this records has a strong emotional or lyrical delivery.

I think it's intersting to try analysing your own tastes so to correct your excess (god, i have no time checking on my English). Sometimes it helps me correcting my excess : for instance, I've corrected my 200 lists, allowing quotas per artists : Springsteen has only 8 albums (based on my ratings, it would be more).

(the smilies were chosen by my 4 year old daughter CYANN (she wanted to type her name also)

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

"for instance, I've corrected my top 200 list" and not my 200 lists (God, if I had I made 200 lists, I don't think my wife would still be there

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Does this make any sense? Who are you, my wife or me?

Yes, makes perfectly sense, and I'm rating films and music like your wife.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I rate my own personal lists like your wife, but I want to read critics who rate them the way you do.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I guess you need all kinds of critics, and that the same person can use different angles depending on who or what he or she is writing for.
I mean if I wrote something with a historical perspective, like a book on history of rock, i would rate like henrik, historically, as in the HOA game.
When I make a review of sthg I don't realliy like (like I did with the new Portishead)I don't say it sux don't buy it I don't like it. I begin by saying how skilled the musicians are, and then I explain their, new, darker direction, more indie-rock than pop, and i say it might be less original and too full of self-pity.
And last, on my blog, which is more personal, i guess I'm more radical and can express my opinion in a more straightforward, whole hearted way.

I think you need all those kinds of critics. I like "serious " critics for their almost scientific expertise, but I confess that if I buy every month the new issue of Rock'n Folk, it is because i want to read Ungemuth's new chronicles, very radical and funny. like (about Peter Green) : "Among those who didn't die with the 2003 heat-stroke, there might be some people left who still appreciate English blues from the late sixties. "...

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I rate my music like your wife does. I guess for me, emotional impact weighs the highest on my rating scale.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I actually take back what I've said before in this thread. From now on "best" and "favorite" are the same to me. And apparently they always have been the same because I said that I make my personal lists based on what I think is best, but my RYM lists are titled "My 100 favorite albums of..."!

I have previously mentioned two examples of differences between "best" and "favorite":

The Beatles vs. Depeche Mode
I said that The Beatles was the better band and Depeche Mode my favorite band, but this was because I feel that Depeche Mode are vastly underrated and The Beatles aren't underrated at all. If The Beatles and Depeche Mode were equally acclaimed I would probably favorize The Beatles.

Me vs. my wife when we rate films
We had a long conversation about this, which brought me to the conclusion that we just have different opinions on what makes a great/favorite film.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

Good points being made here.

The rating movies thing brings up an interesting point.

The other day my wife and I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For those of you who haven't seen it I won't ruin it.

The movie kept my interest pretty well and it didn't seem like almost three hours had passed by. However, I left the theater realizing it didn't really affect me in any way whatsoever. I didn't feel attached to any of the characters, nor did it make me feel any emotions because I didn't feel like the main character showed any sort of emotion. The phrase "I don't care" describes perfectly how I felt about the whole movie and it's characters.

On a strictly observational level, I would say the movie was pretty good. It was written well, the plot was interesting enough, and the way it was shot was great. Based on these things alone it was a very very good movie.

But in the end, if I didn't come out of it feeling anything, I can't help but say that the movie failed. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone based on my experience. And I don't ever think I'll want to see it again.

Again, I just don't understand how I could possibly rate that movie objectively any differently if I weren't lying to myself. It's ok to realize that others may disagree and like it, but as far as how I feel, there's only one way to see it from my point of view.

Music is the same way to me.

Re: Difference between "best" and "favorite"

I've been avoiding Benjamin Button because although it seems beautifully crafted and produced, it's the sort of movie where the entire plot is dictated by the premise.

It's interesting how different people rate movies. Going back to fun movies vs great movies, I would say fun movies are something I could watch more often, but great movies are something I enjoy more the rare occasion I do watch them.

But there are so many different perspectives. Milk gets overrated because homosexuality is such a huge current issue (Just like Brokeback Mountain), Dark Knight gets thought of as deep when I see all it's attempts to comment on human nature as abject failures, but nobody appreciates the beautiful set design, direction and character design of Hellboy II.

Also, long meandering narratives where the whole point of the movie is that everybody is completely amoral and the bad guys always win (Traffic, Syriana, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, Mad Men, Damages) are so critically in fashion now it's hard to even safely criticize them.

But even with all these critical trends I disagree with, most of my favorite movies are ones that get critically acclaimed, like Slumdog Millionare, which incidentally, deserves every award anybody has ever conceived of this year.