Post by The_Cake_of_Roth on Oct 19, 2018 7:10:49 GMT
I just had a discussion with a friend about how we engage with popular music very differently. She's very verbally oriented and is super attentive to lyrics - like her enjoyment of a song is based on the lyrics just as much as the instrumentals and the integration of the two. If one aspect is lacking, it pulls down the other.
I, on the other hand, don't usually focus that closely on the lyrical content, so it plays a very small role in my enjoyment of the music. If a song has great lyrics on top of great instrumentals, then it's sort of just the icing on the cake for me. I kind of see it like this: if a song has, say, very little variety in terms of harmony, rhythm, timbre, etc., but has deeply poetic lyrics, it's not enough to make me like it and I will probably be bored (if I want poetry... I'll read poetry). For songs with great instrumentals and seemingly nonsensical/ambiguous/generic lyrics, they can often still achieve an emotional resonance for me because I'm more attuned to the vocal gestures and their integration with the accompaniment than I am to the words themselves if that makes sense. There's obviously meaning to be interpreted that can enhance the experience, but I almost never take lyrics at face value in terms of their meaning, and so the words could almost be anything because the melodic gestures, harmonic accompaniment, and overall sonic properties help me intuit an expressive musical performance that doesn't necessarily require a semantic dimension rooted in words to resonate (maybe that sounds kind of hippyish.... but I don't think privileging sound over words when it comes to enjoying music is that unusual).
Post by urbanpatrician on Oct 19, 2018 7:38:58 GMT
I personally care the least about voices than lyrics or sound. But if I had to rank them, sound is definitely first, lyrics 2nd, and voices 3rd. Not that the stuff I listen to is sung by awful voices, they're sung by great voices actually. A great sounding thing has usually all 3. Some stuff barely even has voices and lyrics. But to songwriting oriented music, usually great ones have all 3.
I don't see lyrics as the icing on the cake, I see it more like... if something sounds good musically, lyrical power is enhanced. There are lyrics that have blown me away, but I probably wouldn't say they do it by themselves. Without the great sound coming forward, I don't know how I'd take to the lyrics. Just saying, a boxer has two arms to punch with, to punch with one arm is powerful, but the combination of both arms back and forth is lethal and destructive.
And while this might be a bit unrelated, I'm probably more influenced by what people say about things than anything. If enough people deem it as cool or among the elite stuff, my interest level has double the inclination. Obviously there are times where I won't fall right in, but I do have the inclination to explore the obscure, and through listening to enough obscurity I'm able to form niches and genres, and... I dunno, it's all a matter of experience if you ask me. Typically I don't like rock. That list we just made was way too rock and roll big bands and old famous pop and guitar guys. Can't really find a whole lot I was interested in.
I don't play an instrument but I can read (me read and talk good too!) so to me a lot comes from lyrics - if there isn't an entire sensibility conveyed to a song lyrically, I'll usually pass on it or dismiss it.
That's not to say "poetry" exactly but a kind of poetry, the "truth" rather I would say......when I was a little boy I saw Sinatra singing a song about having his heart broken that was very beautiful and in my head that registered as fake because even then, never having had my heart broken it didn't register as believable. But I'd hear Howlin Wolf singing an entirely different song on the same subject and it was painful in a way - it sounded like what your heart must have felt like - what he was saying tied into how he said it too.
Now that's a generalization, - I love Jeff Beck's guitar playing for what words can't express - but in general I need a way into a song and lyrics are often the easiest entry point.
Post by Johnny_Hellzapoppin on Oct 19, 2018 16:08:06 GMT
Overall, the musicality is more important, but the lyrics do matter a lot to me too. You can come up with the greatest tune any man, woman or child ever has, but if you're singing about some old cliche or nonsensical shit over the top of it, then I'm probably out. Some examples:
"If I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double." Really....I think the answer is pretty clear in that case, no song required.
"Are we humans? Or are we dancer?"...Thank god you're pretty Brandon.
"I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier."...Still though Brandon, when is pretty not enough? You're getting close I think.
"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Saturday, Saturday and Sunday."...That you're song lyrics are naming the days of the week is bad, but that you think there are two Saturdays .
"My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps."...more phenomenal insight from one of the most appalling groups ever.
Honestly, I think I take it on a case by case basis. You can't have a great song without great music, but lyrics can make or break that great music and turn it into a masterpiece or even make it crap, if your lyrics are bad enough.
Post by mikediastavrone96 on Oct 19, 2018 17:46:16 GMT
I'm pretty flexible and can enjoy songs for either, though obviously a combination of a great sound with quality lyricism is preferred. I probably lean towards sound a bit more and have little to no problem with songs where the lyrics are silly or meaningless (ex. "I Am the Walrus" by The Beatles) but there are also artists I love where I care much more about the lyrical content and prefer their sound to be more stripped-down (ex. Leonard Cohen).
Lyrics are very important for me - they can be super simple, super dense, personal, abstract, mean spirited, beautiful, even "nonsensical", I'm really down for whatever as long as they're...good (I'm sure there's a much better way to word this, lol). I have a hard time enjoying listening to songs that I think are terribly written. It's just rare that a song manages to evoke something in me if I feel the lyrics don't work. Sometimes the music is so good that it speaks for itself, though.
I definitely agree that the overall sound of the song is very important too. You need both for a truly great song.
Also, sometimes the way the lyrics are sung is vital.
I'm sort of like you, if there are great lyrics it's sort of a bonus, but I'm way more into the music. To me the sound is where the feeling comes from, not just the lyrics as a separate written thing. Even specifically the vocals, I'll pay more attention to just the vocal melody and the way they sound than to what is actually being said. There have been times with songs I really like where I've finally paid attention to the lyrics after listening to the song many times and been disappointed because the song isn't about what I thought it should've been about based on the feeling I got from the song. Sometimes I appreciate lyrics just as fragments, a particular phrase matches the music perfectly. For example I think that's why I enjoy punk rock sloganeering so much (Pretty Vacant, No Time to Be 21, exc). It's not about whatever real significance those lyrics do or don't have, it's about them encapsulating something in the moment the song is playing.
Generally I think that lyrics is a bonus, though it's slightly dependant on which genre it is. I listen to a lot of heavier music in which I do not really care one bit about the lyrics, whereas I guess sometimes in more indie-popish music I would care slightly more about it. I definetely pay more attention to lyrics sung in Swedish though. Overall instrumentation is far more important (which is what would catch my ear initially) as well as that the singer sounds good and is pleasant to listen to (it wouldn't matter one bit that it's incredible lyrics if the singer sounds bad). In typical (radio) pop music, vocal melodies is what I look for the most.