The Formula To Rate Music

I have rated a number of songs on this blog over the last year or so through the Freaky Friday Playlist. I started off using a “gut-feel” approach and found myself disagreeing with my own ratings after I published posts! This gut-feel approach started seeming random and I came up with a formula for my ratings – The weighted average of ratings assigned on a set of parameters.

Determining the parameters was easy enough:

  1. Composition – How good does the music sound?
  2. Vocals – How well have the singer(s) sung?
  3. Lyrics – How evocative are the lyrics?
  4. Originality – How original is the music?
  5. Popularity – How popular is/was the song? This is applicable when I rate songs that have been heard by people for some time.

I then attached weights to each parameter. This was based completely on what I value in music:

Composition – 35%, Vocals – 20%, Lyrics – 20%, Originality – 15%, Popularity – 10%


Song Rating = 0.35 * Rating on Composition + 0.2 * Rating on Vocals + 0.2 * Rating on Lyrics + 0.15 * Rating on Originality + 0.1 * Rating on Popularity

Here are a few thoughts that went through my mind as I came up with this formula:

  • I could break down the parameters further. For example, I could break down composition to melody, rhythm, arrangement, match with the lyrics and instrument play. Better sense prevailed and I stuck to the simpler system.
  • Should I really add Popularity as a parameter? Although, popular is not always good, I ended up including it because I felt it would neutralize some of my biases. Not by a lot at 10% weight, but enough to make me feel nice and reasonable!
  • I could always override what the formula spat out. And that’s exactly how it panned out. I used the formula only as a guide. I overrode the scores on a few occasions when the relative scores of various songs on the FFP did not make sense.

I used math to introduce a little objectivity and make the ratings consistent but in the end it’s just a number to convey how much I like a song. What do you value in a song? Do you agree with my formula?

PS1: The inspiration for this post was the following thread on Twitter.

PS2: I really wanted to use Twitter’s embed feature. Could you tell?