Sam Brown

5 Star Ratings in iTunes are a pain in the arse

With the latest version of iTunes, 7.4, came the ability to give albums ratings as well as individual songs. Brilliant I thought! However, it has been the complete opposite, now some of my old playlists no longer work or are completely borked. Why has Apple made a seemingly obvious blunder?

I have a lot of Smart Playlists in iTunes, everything from “New Albums (in the last 30days)”, Genre Playlists, and “Older Music (not listened to in 6 months)”. However, one of my most beloved Smart Playlists has seen better days; Latest 15 songs to get 5 Stars.

Album Ratings

When 7.4 came out one of the most talked about additions was Album Ratings, where users could not only give their tracks a rating but you could give an album a rating also. I loved the idea initially myself, creating a new Smart Playlist: “5 Star Albums” that syncs to my iPhone.

Alas, I soon realised it was flawed. When you give an album a 5 Star rating it gives all of the songs within that album a 5 star rating also. Each individual track is given a 5 star rating with a star that is unfilled (to help identify if you gave it 5 stars or the album 5 stars).

Why on earth would I want it to do that? Just because I think the album overall is a 5 star album, does not mean to say I think every track on the album is 5 stars, and I am not the kind of person that has the time to rate every single song on an album! So every track on the album now gets this ‘album-induced’ 5 star rating.

My poor broken Playlist

Now, for example, with my “Latest 15 songs to get 5 Stars” playlist it includes all of these extra songs that I did not want to give 5 stars to, but because the album rating is 5 stars they are listed.

I have limited choices, I can spend hours changing the individual rating of each track in the album, or I could just remove the album rating (not what I want to do), or I could set the Smart Playlist to not include songs from 5 star rated albums. Albeit this last idea then removes any legitimate 5 star songs from that album from my playlist.

A solution… please!

I am sure I have confused you trying to explain my problem, so I will simply explain a solution that would solve the problem.

When you give an album a 5 star rating, do not then give each individual track within that album a 5 star rating (coloured in star or not).

I mean.. does that not just make sense?

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.