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What's the Most Important Thing to a Song?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BassFishingInAmerica, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. Songwriting

    23 vote(s)
  2. Musicianship

    2 vote(s)
  3. Sound

    4 vote(s)
  4. Production

    0 vote(s)
  5. Other

    10 vote(s)
  1. BassFishingInAmerica


    Jul 24, 2014
    There are several factors involved when writing a great song, but which one is MOST important?
    This is what got me thinking: Sometimes I watch the weather channel, and they play music in the background, some pretty good jazz like Spyro Gyra, Sea Level, etc. Really excellent bass work and MUSICIANSHIP, but do most people listen to this stuff?
    Then, I get in my car, and Neil Young is on the radio with Rockin' in the Freeworld. And I think, this is a great song, but any first-year bassist can play it. What makes it good? SONGWRITING.
    Then there are The Dregs, with the amazing bassist Andy West, and his SOUND is amazing (everyone has their own personal favorite bassist for sound). In the 80s, he was promoting GK amps. I went out and bought one and have been playing it ever since. Even with the incredible sound, there aren't too many "average" people who listen to The Dregs.
    Lastly, one of my favorite albums to just listen to has always been ELOs, A New World Record. I must have listened to that record thousands of times. Overall sound is not the best, bass is muddy, drums are loose. The musicianship is great, but I can name two dozen musicians who are technically better. Songs are really well written, and there have been a few top 40 hits (ELO holds the record for most top 40 singles), but IMO, the songs that are not on the radio are the best ones. What made it so good? The PRODUCTION, the way everything came together in the mix.
    So what's most important to giving a song the "wow" factor?
  2. What is the most important thing in a song? IMO - Lyrics and the story being told. Gotta have a story worth listening to. And if an instrumental the repetitive head should be something worth listening to. Everything else augments the story or the head.
  3. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    The songwriting. And staying true to song forms. I hate folks who write complicated songs just to be different. I stick to the formula that's been working for decades. Oh, and gotta have a good hook!

    "Short" Intro
    Verse 1
    Verse 2
    Short solo bridge section
  4. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I chose "other" because there is no "all of the above" option. I believe all of the choices are equally as important.
    ImNotJoel likes this.
  5. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Vibe / feel.

    What does the song do for you as a listener? How does it make you feel?

    Could be poor songwriting
    Could have nonsensical lyrics
    The musicianship could be marginal
    It could sound dated

    And could still be awesome.
    48thStreetCustom likes this.
  6. Authenticity.
  7. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    So I guess you never listen to songs in languages you don't speak? You're missing out on a lot!
    chungweishan likes this.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I don't care about lyrics, if the melody sang is boring well ... it doesn't start well. I also prefer if the music is challenging. More interesting to me than a rythm guitar filling the sound so much than nothing else as a place.
  9. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    For me, it is solid timing and groove. then, proper communication between the different parts according to the style. After that, Ithink arrangement and pacing would be next. Musicianship is definitely up there, but not a requirement. Lyrics and vocals are almost always last on my list for some reason. There are albums I have had for 20+ years that i don't even know the words to b/c I still get lost in what is going on in the music. Having grown up in a houshold where jazz and classical were the main things on the stereo at the time probably developed this....

    not that I am saying that I don't appreciate good vocals and well written lyrics, but they are usually the last thing I notice in a song
  10. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I had to vote for Other--because it can vary from song to song--and what you want to do with the song--melody is important, as is groove/feel, etc.

    A punk band would have a different expectation in many ways than a jazz trio or a symphony in some ways (Like sound & possibly production)--just as an example.
  11. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    OP, you already know the answer - it depends on the genre, the song, the performance, the performer(s), the era, the listener, the playback medium... Everything. There are no rules that tell you why it's good, or even if it IS good. A Mahler symphony has no words or repetitive hooks or simple standard song form or what most modern listeners consider groove, so by some posters' logic, it's not good music. I'd have to disagree with that.
    zontar and Jools4001 like this.
  12. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    The bassline. Isn't that obvious ?
    Howlin' Hanson likes this.
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    A bit more serious:
    I have to agree with smeet. It can be anything from your list. Sometimes a song is powerful by itself, so even played on an acoustic guitar the vibe gets through. Sometimes it's the production - a song that'd be weak otherwise gets so fat it shakes your booty. Then there's classical music. Ever tried to cover 70's funk with a bunch of kids that are new to their instruments? No groove? Right, the musicmanship lacks - while basically any hit done by the young bob dylan can be played with a few weeks hard practice and a little talent.
    Funkmabassup likes this.
  14. Funkmabassup


    Jul 16, 2013
    64's slapped , if it sounds like a typewriter going on a rampage it really makes any song good :p
  15. Dennis Peacock

    Dennis Peacock

    Mar 13, 2009
    Conway, AR
    IMHO, it is all of the selections you listed. You can write a great song but have very poor musicians playing the song and nobody will listen. On the flip side of that, you can have terrible lyrics but excellent musicianship and people will listen "just for the music" part of it. You need a good balance of it all to make a really good song.....but that's just me.
  16. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I said pretty much the same thing in more words--so I have to give this one a Like.
  17. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Songwriting. If that ain't happening all the great playing and fine production you throw at it is just polishing a turd.
    thabassmon likes this.
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Since not one of these is technique related, why don't we put this thread where it belongs?

    Off to Miscellaneous with you!
    Howlin' Hanson and Jeff Bonny like this.
  19. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    There's some songs I dig strictly because of the music, and there's some I like because of the lyrics. Some of my favorite versions are live bootleg ones where you can hear and feel the connection going on between the band ... and those versions don't always have the best sound quality or 'tightness'. So yea, I don't think there's only one answer to the question. Generally speaking, sound quality and production are usually LAST on my list (in fact, I'm wary of anything that's overproduced.)
  20. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern

    The answer is at 0:15


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