I’ve been reviewing hundreds of 3’s lately and am demoting them in bunches. Has my taste changed, or my ability to discern quality? Not necessarily. When originally classifying these songs as 3’s I may have been particularly lenient and now I’m being stricter. If some element of a song wasn’t that strong I may have overlooked that if there were other strong elements. Now I’m being tougher.
But there’s an intangible at work here in long-term liking of the song. If I had left the song at a lower rating to begin with, I might feel ok with it now. But having made it a higher level than it ultimately deserved and then demoting it leaves a taint. It’s like a trial jury being asked to forget some line of reasoning or evidence that has later been stricken from the record. Not being in the mind at all is not the same as having been in mind and then released, perhaps imperfectly. Some trace may remain.