As reviews editor at a music paper, I annoyed other reviewers by banning the word "I" from reviews — one woman complained "If I don't say 'I think' the readers won't know it's just my opinion," to which I commented, "Believe me, they will, and if they don't..." [Insert shrug.]I understand what he's getting at: Hopefully readers are sophisticated enough to distinguish fact from opinion. But sometimes reviewers write as though they're unaware of that distinction themselves. As an example, here's a recent commentary from my local paper on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time:
In its list of the 500 best albums of all time, published Friday, rock's old-guard fanzine gave top props to the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and a whole lot of other overrated rock fossils.I had to stop there. Any reviewer who uses the phrase "actual best" isn't worth my time. I'm all for strong opinions, but I like them better when they're strongly supported, not just strongly worded. Or to rephrase as though Steven Grant were editing this: Strong opinions are great, but they're better when they're strongly supported, not just strongly worded.
The choice of "Sgt. Pepper's" -- followed by the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds," and then the actual best Beatles album, "Revolver" -- was utterly predictable.