We underestimate the importance of measurement in our society. Our entire world is based upon accurate and reliable measurement. Without measurement, society as we know it would collapse. Everything we do is in someway dependant on the accurate measurement of time, distance, quantity, energy, temperature, volume, sound, density, or depth.
Except, of course, music. Length has the foot, energy the joule, time the minute, and music the Pitchfork Scale. Which one of these is not like the others? Which one of these is useless, arbitrary, and pretentious? Knowing the metric system loving Commies that make up our readership, you likely answered “the foot”. Which is correct but not quite the answer I was looking for.
Explore the Cherry Chapstick Scale for Measuring Music “after the jump”
Measuring music on the scale of 1 to 5, 10, or 100 is arbitrary, pointless, pretentious, and impossible. You cannot simply assign an arbitrary numeric quantity to something so entirely intangible and dependant on emotional reaction and personal taste.
You cannot measure something intangible against something tangible. You would have better accuracy in the measurement of music if you used a unicorn or perhaps the square root of negative one as the base unit of quality. Therefore, we propose that to measure the quality of music we must use something just as intangible as the music you’re measuring: music itself. This is why we propose the Cherry Chapstick Scale.
Why “Cherry Chapstick”? Well, this Yo La Tengo song is the point at which music becomes great. Every song not quite as good as Cherry Chapstick is merely good. Every song as good or better is great. Cherry Chapstick is not the best song of all time; it’s too long and a bit to reliant on feedback but it is unimpeachably great. Our scale will therefore be based around a unit of measurement called the Cherry Chapstick (the CC).
Because we are logical, progressive, and forward thinking people, we will be basing our system of measurement on the metric system. Thusly, we will have other units by which to measure by. 1/10th of a Cherry Chapstick is to be called a Subbachultcha, after the Pixies song. If you were to rank every song ever written, Subbachultcha would rank exactly in the middle. Anything better is a “good” song. Anything worse is “not good”. Listening to Subbachultcha ten times will give you exactly the same amount of pleasure as listening to Cherry Chapstick once.
1/100th of a Cherry Chapstick is an Island In The Sun. This is the point at which a song becomes listenable. It is not good by any means but you can at least sit through it without gouging your ears out. It is 1/100th as good as Cherry Chapstick.
There are also units of measurement larger than a Cherry Chapstick. Ten Cherry Chapsticks is a Sweet Jane. This is the point at which a song goes from being “great” to “completely orgasmic”. Most normal humans cannot handle more than two Sweet Janes without losing all control over their bladder. Contemporary music rarely achieves higher than 1.5 Sweet Janes.
There is one unit of measurement higher than a Sweet Jane and but it is purely theoretical, is unnamed, and has never been observed in nature. If it existed, it would be a song by a band featuring Jesus Christ on synth, Muhammad on bass, Moses on lead guitar, Ganesha on drums, and Jeff Mangum on vocals and rhythm guitar. Any output by this band would likely cause your head to implode instantly.
So lets recap our scale here:
0.1 Sweet Janes = 1 Cherry Chapstick = 10 Subbachultchas = 100 Islands In The Sun
This scale can be used to rate both albums and songs. For instance, the a-ha song “Take On Me” is equal to 1.5 Cherry Chapsticks. It is a slightly better song than Cherry Chapstick but nowhere near as good as a Sweet Jane. The Fleet Foxes song White Winter Hymnal rates a 4 CC’s. It is approximately four times better than Cherry Chapstick. The Stooges song “No Fun” is 8 Subbachultchas (or .08 Cherry Chapsticks).
Turning our attention to albums, the Beatles’ Abbey Road is 1.4 Sweet Janes. It is about as good as music gets. The Bon Iver album, ranked by many to be the best album of 2008, scores 7.5 Cherry Chapsticks. The last Interpol album was approximately 3 Subbacultchas. The new My Morning Jacket album was about 65 Islands In The Sun.
Get it? We believe the Cherry Chapstick scale is an elegant solution to the problem of music rating and we hope to see more music reviewing institutions adopt it.
“Cherry Chapstick” [mp3]