“That’s one of the great things about music. You sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”
This is one of the most debatable topics. We cannot impose our choice of music on others. We need to understand that different people enjoy different things. People have different moods. There are literally hundreds of music genres and thousands of note combinations that can sound good to the ear.
Music cannot be judged. Good or bad music is all relative. If I like Classical Rock and someone else likes Punjabi Rap, I cannot say Punjabi Rap is bad music and that everyone should only listen to Rock. Every musical piece created is captures some emotions or feelings- love, anxiety, excitement, happiness, sadness, courage, strength, confusion. We should be looking to expand the horizon. It’s ignorance if not arrogance, to insist on our own taste or even the collective majority’s preference in this art.
Technical proficiency and skill is an impressive aspect, but is not a measure of the quality. A piece that is harder to play or took more creativity and effort to compose is not always better. When I come across a musical piece that involves a high degree of skill, I may appreciate the complexity and the talent displayed, but I can’t say that this makes it a better work. If I feel a certain connection with the song or if it ‘moved me’, I’m more likely to listen to it again. Whether the song was auto-tuned or composed using a hundred instruments cannot decide this.
Humans have this urge to quantify and qualify every single thing, which is a desperate need to control all aspects of the universe.
While it may not be possible to compare music across genres, it is possible to compare within the genre. Now the problem is how exactly do you define a genre. Comparing becomes easier the more specific you get. The high level genres of pop, rock, classical, jazz, etc. are too general and inclusive for this, especially considering how the definition of these genres changes over time.
If a ‘Good’ piece of music makes you feel better, and if the same piece of music does not have the same effect on everyone, it can be said to be objectively ‘good’. When you say ‘this song is good’, you are only saying ‘I like this song’ and nothing more.
Music should make you feel something. We don’t have clear definition of music. Some music disturbs, shocks us, calms us, some music makes us happy, some music makes us want to call people and tell them things we have never said to them before. Music is much more than mere mixture of sounds. It means something different to everyone.
No one song is ever going to mean the same thing to everyone. It connects to people on different levels and is something that will always be subjective. When you have knowledge about the workings of music, you can appreciate the process, but the real connection is only made through how it makes you feel. No amount of study can prepare you for that or give you the ability to judge its power over people.
Stop comparing! Start exploring!