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What makes a really good song?

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Many songs are written, many are recorded, many are sold. But only certain ones are loved and remembered over the decades. Do these greatly popular songs have something in common?


I really am not sure, but I have a couple guesses. For one thing, I think how the song is performed matters a lot. For example, She Loves You by the Beatles. They were great, dynamic, performers. 


My other guess is that the most remembered, most popular, songs, have mostly been relatively simple. She Loves You, again, is an example. Paul Simon, and Bob Dylan, had some long songs. But even though they were long, they were still musically simple.


How important are lyrics in making a song loved and remembered? Lyrics do matter, but probably not as much as the music and the performance. There are Bob Dylan songs, and Paul Simon songs, with lyrics that no one really can understand. For example, Sounds of Silence. I don't know what it means.


What about the message of a song? I don't think that matters too much. I personally don't like songs that have a definite message, especially if it's an advicey message. Usually the messages of the most loved songs are something emotional and universal, like heartbreak. 


Does it help if a song is poetic, and skillfully written? Sometimes yes, but it doesn't have to be. She Loves You is not great poetry. However, there definitely are songs that are loved and remembered that are poetic, for example by Leonard Cohen. 


So I don't know if there is any way to figure out what makes a great song. Maybe it's easier to figure out what makes a bad song.





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Hi Polly! This is a good question! I actually would like a thread somewhere here for analyzing songs that we think are amazing. Analyzing the lyrics and the music and how they work together. 

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