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Class conscious: I've always believed in a hierarchy of rock music. No Meatloaf for me

Is it snobbish to object to the star rating system by which most art forms are now graded in the press? I was reading a few star-rated theatre reviews in a paper this week, and when I turned to the obituaries afterwards, I expected to see the lives described there given a mark out of five. This will happen in the future, I guarantee, and it will generate much controversy: "Did you see that Tony Blair got only three stars in the Guardian?"

The strange thing is that this mania for marking coexists with its opposite in education. My sons will often come home from their junior school with certificates congratulating them on having done little more than remain conscious, during some course of instruction. They are praised for having "completed" a project, and I always hunt fruitlessly for a line of small print underneath, reading: "It was crap, however" or "It was the best one in the class." The other day, my youngest son came home with one of these, and I barked: "Did everyone in the class get one?" "Yes," he said, shamefacedly. "Then I'm not interested," I said, earning myself a sound bollocking from the wife.

But the phenomenon is only natural, surely. Person A always wants to know what B thinks of C, which is why I am so beholden to the star ratings, especially in the field of pop music, the one area of the arts that I follow quite closely.

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