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I actually listen to the lyrics of songs. From what I gather, this is not as common as I thought it would be. More often than not, when I talk about a song with someone and I ask them what they think the song is saying they reply with "you know, I don't know. I just like how it sounds." I suppose this is fair, a song is a full package - music, lyrics, tone. But for me, I really focus on the lyrics. Perhaps this is why I like songs that other people don't. They may not be the most musical, but some songs just grab me because the lyrics are so amazing.

However, sometimes I love a song for no apparent reason.

Take, for example, U.S.E's "Takin' It All The Way"

The lyrics to this song are so saccharin that if I were a diabetic, it would put me into a coma.

One more day, things are going faster
One more day with you
One more day, things are getting better
I'll make time for you

When you smile, things are getting brighter
Lights are going to shine for you
Loving at night, loving in the morning
Loving in the afternoon

One more day, things are going faster
One more day with you
If you want love, I'm the one to talk to
Baby you know it's true

Not the best written song in the history of mankind. However, I LOVE this song. The beat is hypnotic and the melody is easy to sing and burrows itself into my ear like those little buggies that Kahn put in peoples' ears in Star Trek 2. But that's what a lot of U.S.E's songs are like. They are simple little ditties.

What I love about this song, though, is that I swear to god - they are SO HONEST in what they are singing. You can't help but smile. Seriously. It's just a good song because it makes you feel good. I can overlook the sugar drenched lyrics because the energy in the song and the tone of it completely overrules everything else.

The only down side is that it is stuck in my head. And it was stuck in my head all day at work. However, this wasn't too bad because it made me feel good even though I was there early.

So go have a listen to USE. I think they are fun, playful, and not too serious about things. And that's what I like.

And I totally am crushing on their drummer.
Ok, this is what I have been saying for a long time. Crush on a band member aside, music has been taken for just one facet, mostly the music above the lyrics, the lyrics sometimes above tune, tone, and intonation. The latter of which is really upsetting. For me, a song can be *good* if the music lines are done well, and the instruments AND THE LEAD VOCALIST(and all others) are in tune. The lyrics don't matter as much for a good song. Then again I am a music, not lyric, whore. Coheed & Cambria's Welcome Home: AMAZING guitar lines. Not sure about the lyrics so far. I've half listened to them, but I'm mostly immersed in the guitar lines trying to visualize them, and to play them.
But I digress.
A song is great if the all of the musical requirements are met, and if the lyrics are stunningly done. Music makes only one facet of the song. Everything has to be in tone, tune, and done well. But if a song is done great, and the singer is singing something contrary to the music line...emo can be a good example. Bright, ringing chords, and on the other end the singer is singing about murder, heartache, and everything traditionally minor. ***Keep in mind*** that if this is done well, it can be really really good. Problem is, it's sometimes hard to do that.
Good example of a great song, no matter who you are: Possession by Sarah McLachlan. Great use of suspended, major, and minor chords. As well as other varieties. The suspensions to the variations of the chords in the piano line(for example...say originally played an Amaj chord, and then the top note of the chord is raised one note to create an augmented, dissonant, and beautiful sounding chord) MAKE the song. I'm not a fan of that kind of music, but I can't help but like some of her songs, because they are SO well done. Lyrics mesh with what the music is saying, her voice is fluid with the waving piano lines, and if at all out of tune, rarely and not much.

I am such a music whore.
Perhaps it's because I'm a writer that I focus more on what a song is saying, and then the over all tone of the song, rather than just the music alone. IT is a full packaged deal though.

A song could have great lyrics, fut if the tone is off, if the music is crappy, I'm not going to listen to it. Which is sad, because some songs could be great if only they were performed better (example: I love Bob Dylan songs but only if performed by Joan Baez).

I don't like it if the tone of a song and the subject of a song are in opposition to each other. I feel cheated, like they are trying to slip something in (like slipping in the alaskan oil digging in with other bills).

Likewise, I don't like crap lyrics in general, which is why - if this song was performed with any other tune or with any other feeling, I would probably think it was some kind of teeny bopper crap instead of just a plain. good. fun. song that makes me feel good.

But then there are songs whose tone is the most over powering thing in the world. Hear: "Albatross" by Judy Collins or "That's the Way" by Zeppelin.
See...the whole great tone/bad lyrics thing can be said to be one of the problems with emo. Either that or it is the other way around. It depends on what band you are talking about.

There are times I can handle tone and lyrics being in opposition. Take Fall Out Boy's two mainstream releases from their newest album, "Sugar We're Going Down" or "Dance, Dance". I think those are two well done songs. Normally, the tone of the song would bother me, but for some reason it doesn't with these guys. Maybe I'm just hanging out with Sharkbait too much. :p

Yeah, lyrics can definitely make or break a song. Most of Adema is that way for me. Musically, Adema is...meh...average. Intonation...well, on records they are good anyways. Tone...goes well with the lyric line. But the lyrics are crap! Not to mention the guy's voice is more annoying than new-age Johnathan Davis and Fred Durst put together. Adema is one of those bands who put a bad face on "nu-metal".

Mm. "That's the Way". Also, "Welcome to the Machine", "Hey You" by Floyd, or even "Reise, Reise" by Rammstein. The chords and the bass just HIT you on the latter, and you feel like you are in a mirth of tonal soup, not to mention the tone of the song is already very minor. It can be, at least for me, if I am in the right mood, a very...oppressive song. And that's good. That's how it should be.
I guess what i should say by "tone" is more of mood. The way the lyrics are sung, the general idea of the lyrics, along with the music just great a feeling that is greater than the music and the lyrics. It's the combination of both: you're not paying attention to the music OR the lyrics, but it hits you in a way that you feel the song, rather than hear or understand it.

Overall, I would rather a song had a good meaning with mediocre music than crapy lyrics with amazing sound.
That's how I meant tone. I won't necessarily be listening to the song but then my attention is pulled towards it. And then I really listen. Feeling a song like that is just another way of listening that I hadn't addressed yet, because it is something you just get. You can't really put it into words that justify it.

I'm not sure if I'd rather have meaning or great music. As a musician, I would rather have better music. As a self proclaimed musical critic, I'd rather have lyrics that mean something. It's hard for me to call.