Debate: lyrics vs music… which is most important?

I can’t remember where I heard this from but a while back I heard (or possibly read… sorry, I should have been paying more attention) a discussion as to whether lyrics are more important that a song’s tune or vice versa.

Obviously songs vary wildly – take Kylie’s ‘Can’t get you out of my head’ for instance. According to http://www.elyrics.net/read/k/kylie-minogue-lyrics/can_t-get-you-out-of-my-head-lyrics.html there are 12 (mostly four-lined) verses. Four are repeated choruses, four are the ‘la, la…’ refrain leaving four unique stanzas. So in this case the music must have the upper hand. But take someone like Bob Dylan and he would doubtless win on his lyrics before even taking one of his songs apart.

So who wins? Despite being a writer, I vote for tune but I’d be interested to know what other people think.

4 thoughts on “Debate: lyrics vs music… which is most important?

  1. Diane Stephenson says:

    I agree with you – the tune. I much prefer to listen to instrumental music, though that doesn’t mean I don’t like to hear the words sometimes. But my favorite music is classical – Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, etc. So definitely the tune is more important to me.

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    • morgenbailey says:

      Thanks Diane. I also love classical (it’s the best thing to listen to when writing as there are words to distract). I love Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata, Fur Elise etc) but found Erik Satie a few months ago and he is now my favourite… just. 🙂

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  2. Diane Stephenson says:

    I love Fur Elise both to listen to and to play on the piano. Moonlight Sonata has long been a favorite, too, though I can’t play much more than the 1st movement and that is only on a mediocre level. I don’t know Satie except by name, though I do think I may have heard him occasionally a few years ago when I used to listen to CBC FM radio. I’ll have to Google him and see if there are any videos of his music.

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  3. drwho7freak says:

    I vote lyrics and being able to hear them. I love bands that manage to rhyme their lyrics too. A lot of Beatles lyrics I prefer as poetry rather than having to listen to the music. Of course it does depend. Pop music has to depend on a beat filled tune to make people hear it – because the lyrics are useless. A good singer helps too. One that makes my spine shiver or sound different. A good marriage of Lyric and Music for me is Paloma Faith. Just listen to her and you see what I mean.
    But, unlike you, as a writer I go for the lyrics all the time.

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