Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What makes a good song

What makes a good song?

One of my metrics – from a “pop” songwriting perspective – is whether a song runs through your head when you’re driving, in the shower, etc.  That is, its “stickiness”.  If it sticks, it’s a good song.

Another measure of a good song is whether it has an inherent sense of familiarity or “inevitability” – as though it’s already existed or you’ve heard it somewhere before.

Broadly speaking, my view is that there’s two types of “good” songs.  One type fits clearly within an existing genre.

The other type is “genre-breaking” – catchy and interesting, but also unusual.  These **don’t** sound like anything you’ve heard before.  Three examples (all YouTube-able) are Information Society's “What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)”, Devo’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, and Devo’s “Jocko Homo” (which I believe is in 4/7 time…).

Oh yeah:  and the B-52s “Rock Lobster”…

Nine Inch Nails "Head Like a Hole".  And others.

Partly it’s a distinction between the melody line and the backing tracks.  IMO the backing tracks are what tend to be unusual:  within the broad ''pop'' realm, the vocal melody still tends to be fairly accessible.


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