I’ve always had a problem with iTunes ratings.

That sounds a lot like a confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I know, but it’s true. I love the program, don’t get me wrong, and I use it a hell of a lot, even going as far as purchasing music with it, despite the (admittedly lax) DRM. But there’s this thing, this littler irritant that’s always niggled me about it.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like a song more or less depending on its context, making assigning ratings very difficult. Say if I’m feeling happy, I don’t want any songs that’ll bring me down. Likewise, if I’m angry I either want to listen to happy songs to make me feel better, or smoulder for a bit in my angry songs.

I intially thought tagging was the answer: I’ve been on a flat hierarchy trip lately, Gmail and del.icio.us have been rockin’ my work world so much I’ve installed a similar system on my Mac with the aid of spotlight comments. But on further investigation, it may be easy to tag a song with iTunes by sticking a word in the comments, but there’s no way to append to these comments as far as I can tell, which is what I can do with Automator. I considered seeking an Applescript solution, but then I thought, hey, what if I’m out on the road with my iPod, find a new (ish) song, and want to categorize it on the fly?

So I chose to use ratings as a tagging system.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This isn’t ideal as I only have five categories for all of my music, meaning they end up as wider, emotional categories rather than the traditional narrow playlist. But then again, maybe that’s a good thing.

Incidentally, that ‘Baleetable” playlist is for any songs I want to delete. I’m not a completist about album listings, and I’m more than willing to sacrifice track 4 of an album even if it means things aren’t all neat, like. But I guess I could jsut use it as an ‘Unplayable’ playlist.

So, if you’re finding you’re not using Ratings as much as you’d think, why not give this a try?