A Slightly Intoxicating (or intoxicated) Rant: What is “Good” Music?

So, as I was listening to some music that was not to my taste *cough*Jon & Roy*cough* on an unnamed local radio station, I felt that it was my duty as a music enthusiast to phone said station to give them my “professional” opinion on the music they play.  Well, I informed them that they play good music.

A lot of good music.

I then asked how often the song Any Day Now by Jon & Roy was requested by listeners (this song had just finished playing on their station).  The DJ that answered the phone said something along the lines of, “Never”.  This gave me instant motivation to tell this DJ that this song, basically, bores the freaking snot out of me.  He told me “Thanks for letting us know! If you don’t tell us, we don’t know!”.

This response cued a few thoughts for me, which I’m now indulging.

One of which is, do they really not know a good song from a shitty one?  I mean, they are the radio station right?  I figured they would know a good song.  That’s what they’re in the business for.  At the same time as I was thinking this, I also felt a little important.

Well yea, it’s lame, I know.

But I couldn’t help but feel a little important.  The DJ actually made me feel as though my input mattered.  I knew there was a reason I listened to this station.  It’s not that I lack the feeling of importance and desperately desire this feeling, but I guess I figured that this was the radio station I choose to listen to and they didn’t give two hoots what I thought of the music they played.  I mean, it’s not like I work there, and it’s not like I spend money on advertising or pay their phone bill, so what do they care?  Obviously, if the listeners are mad, it ain’t good.  Good job, radio station in Vancouver that rhymes with “The Cheek”.

Ok, I said there were a few thoughts I was going to indulge.  That was one.  The other is: what is good music?  What defines it?  What is it about a melody or beat or both that makes one person fall to their knees in admiration and passion when another could listen to the same melody and despise it?  Perhaps it speaks more to the human condition than the music itself.

Do we adore all the music we do, all the time? Or is there something about music that evokes a feeling of nostalgia, desire, or euphoria?  Listening to Nothing Else Matters by Metallica meant something different to me 7 years ago than it does now.  So does Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind.  It represented something different in my life that I didn’t have, which I do now.

We obviously have emotional ties to music, but back to the original question: what is good music?

I think this is profound in such a way that it is a different answer to each and every person who listens to this miracle we call “music”.  To one person, good music may be a great melody.  To another it’s a good beat; and another, great lyrics.  For some, you must have all three.

To many, its much more simple: it’s what makes us revel; it’s what makes us happy; it’s what makes us feel unique.  It can define us and at the same time, confuse us.  It can evoke life-changing actions, or thoughts on suicide, just as quickly as thoughts of joy and love.  Music can eject our inner spirit by taking hold of our body and putting us in a trance of “dance” because we are so compelled to do so that not doing it would seem impossible.  Have you ever tried not to dance?

So what is “good” music?  It is whatever type of music does all, or any of these things for you.  It isn’t wrong, it isn’t bad, it is yours and nobody else’s.  It is not a genre but an emotion.  It isn’t a beat but a feeling.  It isn’t a melody but a fingerprint.  It can’t be taken from you or forced upon you.

It is you.

This is what “good” music is.  It isn’t the same for everyone, so there cannot be a definition.  There cannot be a musical jury that selects the best of the best based on opinion, taste, feeling, love, journey, because we all have walked different paths.  We have all tasted with different taste buds and listened with different ears.  Who’s to judge a person’s taste in “good” music when they haven’t been in that person shoes?

I’m at fault for this, as many are.  What is good and what is bad?  It cannot be decided, it is what we personally choose it to be.

The next time someone says that a song or music genre is “bad” (as I did regarding that previously mentioned song), don’t take it to heart, it is merely someone else’s journey and they haven’t danced in the same shoes as you.

I still don’t like that song, though.

Thanks for reading my rant about nothing in particular (after a beer or two).

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~ by whet_hopped on August 13, 2010.

9 Responses to “A Slightly Intoxicating (or intoxicated) Rant: What is “Good” Music?”

  1. haha! I am completely guilty for also having a strong opinion about good/bad music. I can be counted on to be the first person to give my opinion about a song/band/artist and what I think about them. After reading your not-so-much-about-nothing rant, I am going to try and make an effort to not judge a person’s taste in music. I totally agree with how emotion plays a huge part in the music that we listen to or take a liking to. That is what makes it personal. I really need to start keeping a soundtrack to my life, then I can go back in x amount of years and listen to it. I can listen to an old song and remember where I was, what I was doing, etc the first time that I heard it.

    So with that said I agree, whether it’s good/bad music, everyone has to pick their own. I will continue to be excited when I find someone who has similar (great, if I might add) tastes that I do! I can’t however promise not to laugh in someones face when they say they like nickleback or to not throw a fit when they come on the radio.

    • I would have to completely agree with you, Ashley! I am usually thrilled to find out someone has the same or somewhat similar tastes in music as I do, but I do find it hard not to critique another person’s taste (or judge them quietly) if I am completely opposed to it (ie. Nickelback). Oh, and you should just not listen to radio stations that play Nickelback. If you are ever at home on the computer and want to listen to a good radio station, listen to 100.5 The Peak from Vancouver. It’s my new fave, and it’s the one I was talking about in the beginning of the blog about that one “crappy” song they play too much. Just stream it live on their webpage if you’re interested: http://www.thepeak.fm/pages/now-playing.
      Thanks again for the comment! Missed hearing your two cents 🙂

  2. PS: horse feathers…..heard of them? Fanfrickintastic. 🙂

  3. Ugh…John & Roy. You said it, they are BORING! As far as “good” music is concerned, I think that it all relates to ones life and how music helps you deal with things in a way nothing else can. Music connects your life story and no one can tell you that the music you love isn’t “good” music.

    On a completely egotistical note, as a musician and as someone who appreciates all genres of music, I think that there is some music (most popular music…) that is brainless garbage and could be written by a 5 year old. Strangely some of this music finds itself in the soundtrack of my own life proving that how ever untalented the artist or unoriginal the song all music has the potential to evoke emotion.

    Great post!

    • Agreed! People can try and tell you that the music you like sucks, but if you like it and it means something to you, what they say shouldn’t matter.

      I also find myself despising and considering my own music even better than the pop “crap” that tends to get overplayed on the radio. I can see how some of those pop songs can find themselves in the soundtrack of your life, as some do for me as well (ie. Hot n Cold – Katy Perry…)

      Thanks for the comments!

  4. I will write in defense of John and Roy as someone who enjoys them…if not only to stir the pot. Although Any Day Now is not my favourite tune, I would (if I did such a thing) request many of their others to be played on the radio. For example, before Any Day Now, the song Little Bit of Love was on rotation on “the Cheek” and it put a smile on my face every time. I would take John and Roy before the over played Jack Johnson any day. And that is another issue altogether, Jack Johnson post Brushfire Fairytales (fantastic album) hasn’t done a whole lot to grab my attention.

    So I decided to read your post while listening to John and Roy’s myspace page and as of right now, I am reveling in the soft, simple eloquence that is John and Roy.

    I agree that we can all have our opinions and some are justly stronger than others (Nickelback), but I for one will stand up and defend a band that I know is making some pretty great music. Keep on keep’n on John and Roy.

    • Thanks for the comment, Adam! I appreciate a little pot-stirring 😛
      I can’t help it, but I just can’t get into Jon & Roy. After reading your comment, I felt that perhaps I was being unjust to the duo so I gave a few more listens to Little Bit of Love and Another Noon… I tried, I tried. I think it’s Jon or Roy’s voice that just doesn’t jive with me. Little Bit of Love was definitely a step up from Any Day Now, at least there was a little more percussion.
      On another note, I mostly agree with you regarding Jack Johnson; however, I do enjoy On & On as well as Brushfire Fairytales. Taylor and Wasting Time are great songs! I’m not as big of a fan as anything beyond On & On, though.

      Thanks again for the comment!

  5. I myself have a STRONG opinion when it comes to good in bad music. Maybe it’s because i’m still in Highschool where it is near to find anyone who past the top 40 for music, but I often find my self angry when others talk about “good” music. It wouldn’t bother me so much if people would look past what they are constantly told is “good” music.
    I do agree with you though, that music is totally subjective. Which is why I almost never force my opinion on other’s when it comes to music. If you like Ke$ha more power to ya. Now if you ask me my opinion on her, that’s a different story.
    Nice post!

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