What Makes Music Good?

Exactly what qualifies a song or band to be "good"? Here's what I think, and I'm sure to find out what you think as well.

Ultimate Guitar

If you ask someone, "What's the best music out there?" Nine time out of ten they'll give you an answer in the form of a genre name, or a band name. However, that other 10% and sometimes even less, will give what is probably the correct answer. And just what is the correct answer? Well let's just say that it doesn't involve naming your favorite band, or your favorite style of music.

Contrary to what many people will tell you, there are a lot of good bands out there. There are also alot of bad bands as well. But what seperates the good from the bad? What makes one band, a bad band? Well I'll tell you that it doesn't involve their style of music. Anyone who is narrowminded enough to tell you some kind of music is bad because they don't "like" it is not hitting it on the head. What makes a band bad is a lack of thought in the words they'll write, or a lack of freshness to their music. Whether you like a band or not, you can listen to one and tell if they're constantly racking their brains for new ideas, new riffs, and new sounds in general. Of course, a band will fit into some genre one way or another, but if they never try and change a little here and there, and if they never move to find compelling ways to tell the stories in their songs, that's when you've found a bad band.

3 Doors Down is a band I happen to like, but I don't think they're all that good. The songs "Here Without You" and "When I'm Gone" are almost entirely based on the same exact chords and and different variations of the same riffs. And I even tend to like some of their lyrics. (note: SOME) This is my point here. I like the way these songs sound, but I also can see they didn't try real hard to make either of the songs very unique. Jack Johnson is another artist who I kinda like, but again, he's doing the same thing with his very, very similar guitar riffs. I like his lyrics alot, but his ability to create a fresh sound to his particular style of music doesn't seem to be there.

Now, on the other hand, what makes a band good? Well, it's just the opposite of what makes a band or song good as you might guess. When someone or some group can come up with fresh, though provoking lyrics, and new and unique sounds for most if not all of their songs, you've got something special. I'm not a hige Nirvana fan, but Cobain was an excellent writer and creative in his music writing as well. He found a way to stay in his particular style of music, but keep everything he was doing all his own, and kept everything from being repetative. The package that makes a song good is a well rounded mix of well-written lyrics and fresh sounds. To be honest, I don't even think that a song needs to be all that hard to play, for it to be good. If you've found a fairly simple chord progression to go with something you've written, and that something you've written is a good piece, you can put the two together and make a "good" song. Maybe everyone won't like it, but it'll still be good because it's yours, and it didn't sound, or feel like anyone elses. Making good music doesn't make you popular. Making easy to figure out lyrics, and catchy sounds is what will make you famous.

Now some musicians are dead and are extremely famous, but I think alot of their fame came with their death. There are however, alot of exceptions to that though, but that's another story. The point here is, the idea of "good" music isn't neccessarily something a majority of people will like. Making good music is when someone who doesn't even like your style can say, "Hey, I didn't like it all that much cause it's not my thing, but it was pretty damn good for what he was trying to do." Talen is an overused word nowadays, but even with that, there are alot of talented bands around. But there are equally alot of untalented bands who are into music to make the "Anthem" or "Hit Me Baby One More Time" songs. Can you look past your taste in music and find the people who are truly good artists?

45 comments sorted by best / new / date

    John Alexander
    Thanks Friggin'Jerk, you pretty much hit it on the head. I didn't want everyone to start ranting about how good or bad their favorite band was. I wanted to see how many people would be in that 10% who look at music and try to find the good in it, rather than look at what they don't like about it and simply throw it out.
    ok i'd just like to say to the narrow-minded people that say Led Zeppelin rocks and MetallicA sucks or the other way around, i like both. especially MetallicA by the way. I agree to the fact that music is a matter of personal opinion, however, i think pop music is purely commercial and almost never has meaning at all, i think many people will agree. it's all about being open-minded enough actually, open-minded people don't listen to or make pop, except if they're not really interested in music of course. A song doesn't have to be complicated at all to be good, but to make a simple song of riff that's really good is harder and therefore these songs become very famous i think, just listen to Smoke on the Water(Deep Purple) or Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)for example... oh yeah, does anyone else think R'nB, Hiphop and Rap are becoming more and more pop music? if you know what i mean...
    hey again alright i respaect yalls opiniion i really dont like metallica i believe led zeppelin pink floyd nirvana aerosmith acdc skynyrd and dave mathews are really good and o respect yall who disagree with me i juss cant get into metallicas sound oh and great article and 3 doors down is ok my best freind saw them and i saw aeroemith and kiss great show everyone go ge ttickets the experience ia amazing aerosmith had a great set list and also kiss had awesome stage affects
    The article was well written, but it didn't address its own issue. The topic was "what makes music good" not "what makes an artist good or bad"
    Well, the problem is that this is an untouchable topic. You can't make an article on it without your own byast in every point. It's all opinion. Nothing makes music good or bad. People like certain music, some people don't. Maybe some people don't care about lyrics. Maybe some do. Perhaps some people see talent in Good Charllotte, perhaps some don't. People should be able to listen to the music they like without having people tell them it's not "good music", like this article is doing. We all have our own taste. That's all that matters.
    Well, you can deny them all you want, yet its true. I don't believe I put it up to stop everyone flaming eachother. I was pointing out the irrelevant nature of the article. So, perhaps now you should be thinking of a redneck grunting, "I'm gonna kill you if you don't shutup, yeh faggit."
    Brand Nizzle182
    No. Guitar doesnt make music good. lyrics dont make music good. difficulty doesnt make music good. none of that shit matters. You just have to go with what you like and what sounds good to you. nothing in this article matters. METALLICA EATS FUCKING USED DOUCHE BAGS
    How can anyone say metallica aren't good? based on everythin frigenjerk said they are good. based on fame they are good. based on anything they're good. how much of their suff have u jackasses heard anyway?
    Mostly agreed. I belive that innovation is a real important thing, and a principal atribute of a good band. Besides, saying god or bad about a band is not big point, but it is when you say it about a song( a band with many god songs is the real god band)
    a good band can come up with new ideas and can grasp the audience, their lyrics arnt about an sort of trash but about something that has happened to them or what they have seen. thats what true music is all about.
    Great music evokes one's feeling. One can relate to its message/story. It's hard to theoretically re create a great song/recording just applying common good traits. There's something magical about a great song. I'd love to know how to write great music. So Practice Practice and more practice for me. Good luck everyone. Josef Horhay. Mixing Engineer. www.acoosticzoo.com
    I think people are lookin way beyond Music. Lets not delve right down into how Kurt Cobain had only got so many hours of sleep which caused to write these lyrics... coz that's whats goin on. You like a genre - you dont like a genre, people have different opinions, understand?
    for frigginjerk, i totally agree.though i think led zeppelin IS one of the greatest bands ever, not because they sound awesome, but their music is incredible, the riffs, drums, you name it.but their are many great bands out there right now too, i tell you what.
    nice1, that makes sense. i think radiohead(my favourite band) are like that cuz they are always tryin 2 make sumthin differnt so that every1 else cant sound the same as them. they are a great influence 2 me but im just worried they will b to big of an influence and my band will end up sounding like them.
    This is exactly the way I feel about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have had a totally unique and maturing sound their whole careers, from their funk-metal roots to their mellow current sound. Oh, and for the 'Tallica bashers: regardless of what their fans may think, I think Metallica is one of the best bands ever. Despite the fact that, yes, they strayed away from their roots, they still excersize good songwriting and are all phenomenal musicians.
    this is usualy what i always think sort of...but u shouldnt think of it 2 much it will just end up with being sad...and...if u want 2 be really famous u have 2 make music that mtv likes:/
    I disagree somewhat. I think the music you make should reflect yourself. I think your music should be different only if you need to create something new in order to express yourself. If you can express yourself by just using a standard 12 bar blues progression then I think you should stick to that.
    good job. i think that good music is music that you like, but that's just good music for you, not for everyone.
    I think that the one single thing that makes a song good or not...is meaning... If music has no meaning, it seems so pointless... For example... Music with meaning...Queen, Led Zep, Aerosmith etc Music with not so much meaning...Nickelback, Linkin Park etc Music with no meaning...Anything produced by Simon Cowell, or anything to do with him, teen 'punk' and pretty much all pop music.
    i think whether music is good or not should be based on personal opinion. personally i htink all this pop punk stuff is shit and i listen to mostly classic rock like led zeppelin.
    in my opinion every song ever made makes the artist good, providing they hav wrote the song and made the music for it in some way even if its sum1 else playin how they want it 2 be. this really applies 2 everyfin but pop which is more about how they look than sound and is just a way for record companies 2 make money. myself i only like punk, heavy metal (not nu) and rock n roll but respect other artists who prefer 2 make different music except tose guinea pigs
    i personally can't stand metallica, but i do have a respect for them as artists. i just cannot get into there music. i know everyone is going to be pissed at me for saying this, but i feel no emotion from their music. there is no energy, at least for me. other music i can feel the emotion the artist puts into it.
    i'm glad that all of you seem to be focusing on the main points of this article. That really makes me.... glad
    turt cobain
    ug u dont have to compar metallica with nirvana coz in the early 90tis nirvana was rulzzz and till now man cobain is the most genuis man in the world god blessed him
    This article is VERY incomplete, it accomplishes nothing for the reader, nor does it inform them of anything, what's the entire point? That certain chord progressions suck because they are used twice? That repetitivity is bad all the time, that Cobain was good because everyone said he was? A good deal of musicians ie long after their career is over, and it restarts their sales, and some die at the height of it, but they are only famous for what they do while they are alive. I found no point to this article, but keep it as you will.
    Weather music is good or not depends on opinion, I like metallica, AC/DC, and of course Zepplin, but that dosen't meen their good. I think they are good. You think they are bad. Guys its all about opinion. But your article was very good be cause you supported your opinion well. But I don't agree with it. Sorry its just my opinion.
    you know what gets me? this article was totally correct. and yet, everyone posting here is doing exactly what the article said was narrow-minded. YOU'RE ALL LISTING YOUR FAVORITE BANDS AND SAYING THEY ARE THE BEST!!! music that is original, and that evokes a positive emotional response to the listener is GOOD MUSIC.
    i agree there are a lot of good bands that never make it, and many good musicians too, but it seems arrogant to me to say that what makes a band good is the freshness of its music. so much crap music gets written by people trying to write "fresh" music. so much crap art gets made by people trying to create something "fresh." there are musicians who are good but nobody knows them. there are bands who play together well but nobody knows them. there are writers who write well but nobody knows them. financial success and skill are two different things. if you write something "fresh" for freshness' sake then your music probably stinks. if you write something true to your heart it might sound new even though it is rooted in the music of the past.