What do you look for in a song?

Sometimes, we just don’t understand why we like a music group or artist. There is something that makes us want to listen to there music.

But if you could pinpoint why, what is it?

Do you listen to them because you think their lyrics touch you? Is it because you enjoy the beat in the background? Or do you like their voice.

And to help other dopers out, name someone (or group) that fits the reason why to a tee. I am always looking for new people to listen to, and I’m sure others are also.

For me, it is the voice. I don’t care what your singing about, hell, it could be just ramblings, but for me, if they have a beautiful voice, I am just lost in it. Whenever I look for a cd, I always wonder if it could put me to sleep, and if it can, I will buy it. There is nothing more relaxing that a nice, soothing voice. A perfect example, for me, would be Jason Mraz.

Although I do not like the stuff he puts out on the radio, if you listen to his accoustic performances, you can here the talent. Preferably accoustic “You and I both” and, one that’s harder to find, “Halfway Home.”

It’s a gestalt thing to me. You can’t break it down into its components… its just how everything blends in to make the music. A great song is more than the sum of its parts.

An example? Tool.

Interesting lyrics. Be creative with your words and topics. They don’t ALL have to be love songs. Break away from the verse/chorus structure.

Interesting musical structure. An inventive melody. Unexpected chord changes.

Good work on your instruments. Guitarists who can only strum bore me to tears.

All the rap I’ve ever heard is the exact opposite of what I like in music: it has a simple, repetitive beat; there’s no song structure to speak of; and the focus in on the lyrics rather than the sound of it.

Give me the opposite of those three, and I’m pretty happy. Right now I’m listening to Finntroll’s “Fiskarens Fiende” off Nattfödd, which is a most excellent album, IMO. Check it out.

I once noticed that, among my favorite groups, the vast majority have more than one lead singer. (Example: the Beatles, in which John, Paul, George, and occasionally Ringo handled lead vocals—and songwriting for that matter.) So then I tried to think what else my favorite bands had in common, and I came up with…

They have to be interesting both musically and lyrically, with a good variety in the way their songs/albums sound. The music is catchy and melodic, and they try new things instead of having all their songs sound the same. The lyrics are completely worked out (i.e. not just a few simple phrases repeated over and over) and cover a variety of subject matter (they’re not all just about sex, drugs, and rock & roll) and emotional ground. Their albums tend to be more than the sum of their parts, a satisfying listening experience from beginning to end. They have to be both serious and fun: they have to take their work seriously, write songs that matter, and have a high level of craftsmanship; but they also have to be fun to listen to and to have a sense of humor.

I feel very disappointed. When I saw the title, I thought it was asking what I look for in a SNOG.

Technical ability on musical instruments is pretty important to me : Yes, Pink Floyd, Primus, Dream Theater, Rush.

Thought-provoking lyrics are also pretty good, but not totally necessary: Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Metallica, Dream Theater, Rush.

A bass guitarist not afraid to step forward and play parts that sometimes border on the obnoxious: Les Claypool of Primus, and Geddy Lee of Rush.

A guitarist who sometimes sounds barely in control of his instrument, and can also pull it off live: Eddie Van Halen, Neil Young with Crazyhorse, Vernon Reid with Living Color, Alex Lifeson of Rush.

A guitarist who can also play very simple, beautiful, melodic lines: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Eric Johnson (well, not so simple), Alex Lifeson of Rush.
Oh, you were asking about a song. Try The Pass by Rush.

It’s all about the lyrics for me. They don’t have to be poetry or that deep, but they better not make me roll my eyes. For example The Beatles’ Birthday isn’t exactly thought provoking or philosophical, but they don’t make me roll my eyes.

Depth. I wish I could define this better. To me, many of the pop sensations just don’t have any depth to them. All their music sounds shallow and brittle to me. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be thought provoking, but it has to have substance.

Right now, I’m really enjoying Ben Jelen, Wilco, Gary Jules, and Katie Melua. They have great talent, obviously, but I can really dig the lyrics.

Ditto. I’m partial to dark subversive lyrics in light-sounding songs. My last few CDs played were:
They Might Be Giants

It has to have a good beat, and I should be able to dance to it. :smiley:
I know I’m a freak but I couldn’t care less about lyrics. I don’t even know 50% of the words to the songs in my band.

I like to think I’m pretty open when it comes to a song. It just has to be good according to its intentions.

I’ve enjoyed the big sounds and not cared what the lyrics are like. Rick Wakeman (keyboardist for Yes) did a number of solo albums on King Arthur and The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and I grooved more on what he was playing than what he was singing. You could say that about Yes from that period as well. I’ll listen so long as the lyrics didn’t make me roll my eyes (and I have a pretty low standard hearing lines like “In and around the place/Papa’s come out of the sky/And they stand there/25 before my love and I’ll be there” – that’s my guess about “Roundabout”).

Jeeze, I even like “Horse With No Name” even though it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

But I have my limits. I stopped listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “American Dream” CD last night because the lyrics were driving me up a wall. Can’t remember the song, but it was a love song, a guy pleadin’ for his girl to stay with him, and that was it. Intermitable and dull.

But I really, really like clever songs, which puts me more in the “They Might Be Giants” category. “Istanbul” is a clever reworking of an old, old song; “New York City” is so evocative it could be my song, if I ever went to live in NYC as a young man; “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas” is hilarious.

its easier for me to say what i dont like in order to say what i do - i hate 4 of these chords then 4 of those , followed by 8 of those played louder etc. -
Some avoidance of cliche - if the lyric starts thus -‘she looked cool, calm and’ and the next word is ‘collected’ - I’m off. ( I confess to writing a lyric that says ‘cool, calm and uncollected’ for this very reason)
Willfully obscure words and music is a no no, they need to sound like they mean it whether the song is about strangling animals or a boring journey in a transit van from scotland to london ( such as Yes’s ‘Roundabout’ - ‘In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there, 24 before my love and I’ll be there’ ) I live in the Lake district and see those mountains every day. The roundabout has long gone, and it takes a lot less time to get to London.
What I look for is a spark of musical, or (and moreso) lyrical ingeniuty. Take Rufus W. singing ‘Why did you have to break ALL my heart?’ Or Andy Partridge’s Desert Island, or the Temptations ‘Just My Imagination’
If they groove too, well I’m happy.
I know this is all about opinion and that mine means as little as anyone else’s, but here’s what I think makes a good song.
If it can be played on a guitar/piano with one voice and sound good - it’s a good song . If it needs bagpies and a flugelhorn or it doesnt work… it was shit anyway.
Thank you for your time.

I hope this won’t put you to sleep :wink: but I’m interested in knowing what you think.

You Wanna Fly

Great thread topic btw :slight_smile: