Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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An A+ is a record of sustained beauty, power, insight, groove, and/or googlefritz that has invited and repaid repeated listenings in the daily life of someone with 500 other CDs to get to.

An A is a record that rarely flags for more than two or three tracks. Not every listener will feel what it's trying to do, but anyone with ears will agree that it's doing it.

An A- is the kind of garden-variety good record that is the great luxury of musical micromarketing and overproduction. Anyone open to its aesthetic will enjoy more than half its tracks.

A B+ is remarkable one way or another, yet also flirts with the humdrum or the half-assed.

A *** Honorable Mention is an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure.

A ** Honorable Mention is an likable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well enjoy.

A * Honorable Mention is a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like.

A Neither (Neither) may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't.

A Choice Cut (Choice Cuts) is a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money--sometimes a Neither, more often a Dud. Some (Choice Cuts)s are arbitrarily personal, others inescapably social. Sometimes one is so wondrous you'll be tempted to spring for the high-priced package anyway. More often it would fit sweetly onto a compilation you can only pray will include it.

A Dud (Dud) is a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought. At the upper level it may merely be overrated, disappointing, or dull. Down below it may be contemptible.

A Turkey ({Tu}) is a bad record of some general import, although no artist should be saddled with more than two in a decade. What distinguishes a {Tu} from a Dud is that it's reviewed and graded. I'm aware of no {Tu} lower than D, and a few even get a B, a grade reserved for Voice Dud of the Month, whereas the annual Turkey Shoot works down from B-. But such distinctions are, as the saying goes, academic. In this age of grade inflation, all of 'em flunk.

Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s, 2000

Introduction Acknowledgments