This is part three of a blog post discussing what makes a good song. Melody was discussed in Part 1 and lyrics were discussed in Part 2. In this post, we discuss several other elements of a song and how we can judge, for ourselves, if a song is good.
Outside of melody and lyrics, people consider several other song elements important. Perhaps the most polarizing part of what makes a song good is the vocal performance. How many times have you heard someone say, “I just don’t like their voice”? It’s difficult to argue against something so subjective. Another element of making a good song is skill. Skill speaks to the technical proficiency of a musician, vocalist, or engineer. The interesting thing about skill is that more skill isn’t always better. Though I probably don’t want to hear sloppy prog rock tracks, I don’t want to hear a perfectly in-time, technically proficient version of my favorite folk song. But perhaps I overstate this a bit. There is certainly a skill in creating something organic or raw in a good folk or singer/songwriter song.
Finally, there are choices that are made about music production, instrumentation, and many other factors that go into making a song good. Traditionally, melody has been considered the most important element of a good song. It’s the part of the song that you sing, hum, or whistle. The remaining elements, lyrics, vocal performance, instrumentation, and production all work within the structure of the melody and each can have room to shine once a good melody has been created. Ultimately, what makes a song good is any combination of these variables that come together to create an emotional response from a listener. Once we have that then we can share and discuss the songs that we think are good songs with others and see what they think (or feel).