Learn how to write an album review.

Reading text

Want a job as a music journalist? Here's your chance. We're looking for a new lead reviewer for Hot! Magazine but we're not interviewing for the job. Instead, write a review of your favourite album ever. We want to know why you love it and why you think everyone should listen to it. Convince us and you've got the job!

I'm certainly not alone with my choice of favourite album. In fact, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA has sold 30 million copies worldwide since its release in 1984. Nearly 30 years later, in 2013, Springsteen performed the complete album in concert to the delight of some of his many die-hard fans.

A fast-paced, foot-tapping rock album, Born in the USA's lyrics nevertheless carry emotional weight. Behind the catchy rock melodies that drive these powerhouse classics are stories of the dark side of the American dream. Many tracks deal with the struggles of hard-working ordinary people and the bitterness and anger they feel as life doesn't bring them riches or glory. The song Glory Days, for example, is about people in a small town looking back at when they were young and had the world at their feet while Downbound Train tells the story of a young man whose life is ruined when he loses his job. It's not hard to imagine that the artist is channelling real people he knew and the life he might have had if he hadn't become a star. The album will leave you in no doubt of the unique and extraordinary talent of the Boss.

Unlike many other best-selling album artists, Springsteen is still releasing chart-topping, stadium-filling new music and remains at the top of his game in his late 60s. It doesn't surprise me at all. This is a man who tells us our most fundamental stories about ourselves and, when you listen to Born in the USA, those stories are as relevant today as they ever were.

Tips

  1. The first paragraph should be a general introduction to what you're reviewing. Include the title, artist, and an interesting fact about its success or how it was made.
  2. The main body of the review needs detailed observations. Use specific vocabulary (e.g. lyrics, fast-paced, catchy melodies) to comment on particular songs and parts of the music.
  3. It is also important to give context. Link the music to the artist's life, or what inspired them, and the political or social context of the album.
  4. Try to make the review interesting and relevant to the reader. You can relate the artist's work to real-life experience (yours or that of people in general).
  5. Use compound adjectives (e.g. fast-paced, foot-tapping, best-selling) to make your writing highly descriptive.
  6. Finish off with a summary of why this album/concert, etc. is important.

Discussion

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Language level

Advanced: C1

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.