How the rankings work

A week in, and I think I should explain how I got to my ratings. Ratings are a very personal thing. It’s hard when two people are arguing over two different songs as to which is better. Now try a hundred songs, and then try ranking all of them one by one. So when I decided on this project, I decided that these are my ratings, not yours, and if you differ that’s okay. I’m sorry if your personal favorite is my tenth, or hundredth. That’s the way people are.

I decided that a particular ranking order would be too difficult, and give too little information to be worthwhile. How do you choose that song A should be number 100 and song B number 101? People like Rolling Stone may make their top 500 lists, but reality is that it’s very much a tossup as you get done the list, between say 250 and 400. You can have strong arguments about number 1 and 2, but by the time you get towards the bottom it’s really just one person saying “hey, I like that song” that lifts it fifty places higher.

I made a list of every U2 song that appeared on an album they released, from Boy to Songs of Innocence. This excludes many of their extras, many B-sides that became famous, and things like Passengers. That gave me a list of 146 songs. With that list, I decided to rank all the songs 1-10, and I specifically decided that I wanted it to be a true 1-10, not a list where you have a couple of songs making 4s and 5s, nothing lower than that, and the rest being 6s and 7s. So I forced myself to rate lower than you might think. I ended up with an almost perfect bell curve of results, and that told me I had done a pretty good job.

Now I know what you’re going to say: how can I call so many of these U2 songs average or below average? Best band in the world! But here’s my qualifier: these are rankings of U2 songs only. This is not saying that other songs would make the same curve, in fact if I made a list of non-U2 songs in the same way I bet their average would be well below 5. I know for sure there are no songs that would be a 10, and there might only be one or two that are 9s. So don’t use this list to say I think a certain U2 song sucks, because that’s not the point. Even a bad U2 song is still a U2 song, just like bad sex is still sex. The point is the two lists would not even be comparable, they’re apples and oranges.

After listing and rating all the album songs, I had a good baseline to work with. From there I started slotting in every other U2 song, those that were on the extra lists, those that have been recorded by U2, pretty much anything else. I have 365 days to fill, and they’ve done something in the order of 250 songs. I need every day I can get, so you might see some odd things reviewed here.

With the full list of songs set, I’m able to average each album. I’m able to look at different videos and compare them. And extras like books, concerts, and so on. A lot of these will get a rating, but I’m not sure how comparable that will be to the songs. If I really like a book and it gets an 8, that doesn’t means I’d like to read it as much as I’d like to listen to a song rated 8. Finally, I’ll give reviews and items without comments on anything else I can think of to fill in the days. Some things may not end up with a rating (like this page). In those cases a rating isn’t important. Others may get an automatic rating, like say if I attend a U2 concert it’s probably going to get a 10 - I’d rather go to a concert than listen to any song on my music player any day.

And after this brief interlude, we’ll be back to the reviews tomorrow.