Top Ten Worst Things AllMusic Does When Rating German Language Music

Martin_Canine
You know, I initially liked AllMusic very much. Mostly because unlike the biggest German critic website Laut.de, they are not so quick on the lowest ratings, and often find a spark of positivity in albums that are widely panned. I like this attitude.

But every once in a while decide to review German language albums - or even worse, give them ratings without any review.

People who come from German language countries can sometimes only shake their heads about how the website sees their big stars. This also includes me.

Here's what some of the biggest problems with those reviews and ratings are.

The Top Ten

1 Ignoring the album's or the band's impact and standing in their home country

Stop treating Rammstein like a nostalgic relict of the 90s, and don't write about Die Toten Hosen like a bunch of dudes pretending to be punks. In fact, they have both wtitten music history, and sold multi-platinum for three or four decades respectively, with acclaim raining down on them in Germany. They are legends. - Martin_Canine

2 Giving acclaimed, influential and highly respected cult classics lukewarm or bad star ratings without any review

Nina Hagen Band's self titled album is one of the most essential albums every muaic loving German household owns. Its impact on German language music is that it has paved the way for both punk and Neue Deutsche Welle, which would essentially be the 80s in Germany. Both Hagen and her former band which would later be re-named Spliff are highly respected stars that have released praised masterpieces every German music website will award 5 stars, including this record.
AllMusic awards it 2 stars without any review. - Martin_Canine

3 Treating the German language like a gimmick

"The German lyrics, the prog rock tendencies, the classic metal guitars, and the ridiculous basso profundo vocals"
AllMusic in their review of Rammstein's "Mutter"

You do realize that the German language in their music is just like English language for American artists, don't you?

Also: the "ridiculous" vocals? Are you kidding? They are in the tradition of old German schlager chansons. - Martin_Canine

4 Not caring about the lyrics

If you read into Rammstein's advanced and intelligent poetry which still has entire websites dedicated to analyzing each one as detailed as possible, you wouldn't think they offer "nothing but the basics". - Martin_Canine

Since I dug deeper into Xavier Naidoo recently, and came to the conclusion that as a singer and songwriter he is great but his beliefs in conspiracy theories go to extremes that are dangerous, I wanted to see if AllMusic reviewed anything by him. Yes, they reviewed one album, "Alles kann besser werden" from 2009, and gave it 4 and a half stars and more praise than I have seen ln most 5 star reviews. They acclaimed the variety if styles, moods and the overall musicality - nothing about the lyrics. The album is a 3 disc set, two "bright" sides and one "dark" side. The bright sides are harmless. Their lyrics are poetic, spiritual, and about universal topics everyone can relate to. The dark side however... is basically a full album length soul version of B.O.B.'s Flatline and even worse threatens explicitely named individuals.
But I must give credit to Naidoo, as he put the conspiracy theory tracks on a separate disc and even warns the listener on the first track of said disc that they ...more - Martin_Canine

5 Letting the international success of one single song or album overshadow the long lasting national career of the artist

Mostly Rammstein again... AllMusic claims that after "Sehnsucht" nothing by them managed to be equally hyped and exciting.
Each of their albums except for their debut "Herzeleid" topped the German charts including live albums and compilations, was released to universal praise and spawned a handful of hit singles. - Martin_Canine

6 Ignoring the cultural differences

AllMusic doesn't know that in Germany albums that have a certain humor, self-irony and wit (often in addition to serious sociocritical content) are usually considered very intelligent and great, not filler material. Especially when the humor is kind of random, as with Die Toten Hosen or Die Ärzte.

Rammstein however are far from being humorous even though AllMusic doesn't seem to realize that. To them, their overall appearance is funny, while for Germans they are dark yet highly poetic.

They awarded lukewarm to bad star ratings to almost all albums by Die Fantastischen Vier, probably because they are white dudes making light pop rap. But obviously the website doesn't know that they were what German hip hop in the 90s looked like, that they were huge and that they are as important to German rap as Dr. Dre was to the American one. AllMusic probably thought of the reception of Vanilla Ice in the US, but forgets that German rap was neither street nor migrant based until ...more - Martin_Canine

7 Comparing it to American music way too often

The German music industry has a completely different evolution and even if it sometimes sounds like a US genre, it is different. Falco and Nena aren't synth pop, they are Austropop and Neue Deutsche Welle, respectively. And Rammstein are Neue Deutsche Härte. Sido may have some common traits with Eminem as both use a very raunchy abd intwlligemtly tasteless alter ego, but the fact that he is white is one nobody ever talked about, as that is normal. Also, German music artists being gimmicky is nothing unusual and nothing to be hated for. Pop rap still is hip hop, and German punk was never really simplistic. - Martin_Canine

8 Looking down on German music and often belittling national music legends with a god-like status

When reading their reviews of Die Toten Hosen they treat them like some little band trying to sound like a big one. They even awarded one of their albums only 1.5 stars.
They are a legendary punk band that have a very big legacy and released classic albums every music loving household owns and that receive 5 stars on all German music websites.
Also I have a feeling they hesitate giving German music artists that aren't Kraftwerk very high ratings, even though they have had maximum impact, high acclaim and are simply very good. - Martin_Canine

9 Thinking it's all just fun music

That German artists are regarded as legendary, have something to say and are respected in Gernan speaking countrues in the same way some great American artists are in the US doesn't come to AllMusic's mind. Falco is a legend in Austria much like David Bowie or Michael Jackson, that Die Toten Hosen have a huge legacy of infamous albums and that Rammstein are megastars and acclaimed lyricists in Germany is obviously unknown to AllMusic. - Martin_Canine

10 Incorrectly assuming the content of some songs to such an extent that you wonder if they even bothered researching

Jeanny by Falco is not about prostitution. Like, not even mentioning or implying it. Itbis about a psychotic man's obsession with a 19 year old woman called Jeanny that leads to her implied killing as a crime of passion.
And Augen auf by Sido is definitely NOT an ironic take on his standing as a bad role model that amusingly makes use of a children's choir, it is a serious song addressing the issue of child neglect, and the children in the song sing about how they don't want to die in because they try to compensate their lack of parental attention with dangerous and self destructive behavior.
What leads AllMusic to think the songs were about something entirely different? - Martin_Canine

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1. Ignoring the album's or the band's impact and standing in their home country
2. Giving acclaimed, influential and highly respected cult classics lukewarm or bad star ratings without any review
3. Treating the German language like a gimmick
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