Music Genres With the Most Intelligent Lyrics

The Top Ten

1 Heavy Metal Heavy Metal music is a sub-genre of rock music that originated in the late 1960s-70s, featuring more distorted and heavier instrumental work and darker lyrical themes. Heavy Metal broke into mainstream success with bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Metallica. more.

All metal genres have a band which takes lyrics to a high level. In heavy metal you have Iron Maiden, in thrash you have Metallica, in groove you have Lamb of God, in death metal you have Cannibal Corpse (yes cannibal corpse songs are all gory but they are well written and don't all seem the same) (Slayer also can be put in death metal as they are the pioneer of this genre even if they are thrash. I mean songs like angel of death or altar of sacrifice sounds more death than thrash.), in nu metal you have Slipknot (and maybe Limp Bizkit, no I'm kidding), in death grind it is Cattle Decapitation, in Deathcore it is Acrania, Whitechapel and Suicide Silence, in progressive death it is Gojira and Opeth, in progressive metal you have Dream Theatre and Tool, in post-hardcore it is Asking Alexandria and Bring Me The Horizon, in Metalcore it is As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage, and it goes on and on for the endless number of bands and genres that can summarized to heavy metal.

"We have the power make our lives what they are to be
Reconnect with our humanity
Transcend to a higher place, accepting reality
You are the key to the life that you seek"
(Iced Earth - Anthem).

Iron man, Paranoid, Enter Sandman, Master of puppets...

If only the music was any good.

2 Progressive Rock Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s.

Not ALL artists. There are many prog artists with excellent lyrics, and then sometimes they just try too hard. Thick as a Brick, Dogs, and Time, for example, are songs with brilliant lyrics, but in songs such as Tarkus, for example, I feel that it's not very sincere, or maybe trying too hard? I would say that some prog lyrics sometimes lack real substance behind their crypto-poetic nature. I know it's a very unpopular opinion, please don't kill me, I love progressive rock. I just sometimes have the impression that some lyricists jsut write something plainly cryptic and people will try to interpret it and call it a piece of genius.

Thick As A Brick By Jethro Tull

'The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have all gone into service
and are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master - thoughts moving ever faster -
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.
And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run.'

Just go and have a look at Echoes by Pink Floyd or Starless by King Crimson. Bloody brilliant.

Especially lyricists like Neil Peart

3 Rap

Kudos to rappers : It's not easy to do. Prog lyrics (and I love prog lyrics) have wide possibilities. Since they don't hold the song together, they don't have to be perfectly rythmical and in the same meter. Plus, most songs have only a few short verses.
In rap, verses are long and lines have to be held together by cohesive elements of assonance and alliteration. Or else, it's weak, it doesn't hold. This puts a lot of constraint, yet pushing creativity : rap is the definition of a lyrical genre.

Don't knock this genre because of some of the idiots who represent it, because every genre has those. If you listen to rappers like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, J. Cole, etc, there is a lot of skill and meaning behind what they do and it's impressive. From the messages they try to send to fit in with what was happening in the world during that time to the deep stories of their personal life and the delivery they are able to paint the picture with, it's a brilliant form of music if done correctly.

Aside from the studio gangsters rapping about perpetrating and promoting self-indulgence; once you dig deep into real rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Tupac who KNOWS what's really going on in their hellish ghetto and shed light to it. Not these bustas tainting rap as some kind of "degenerate" genre of music.

Rap should be number 1. Nas, Eminem, 2Pac, Biggie, Big L, Big Pun, Andre 3000, Jay Z, Rakim, MF Doom, Immortal Techniques, the list goes on, those rappers have lyrics that are lightyears superior to any metal genre artist or any genre.

4 Progressive Metal

Listen and read the lyrics for bands like opeth and try and comprehend some of them you'll find it very difficult the lyrics are intelligently written. This song black rose immortal for instance and anything else in their discography.

Listen to tool

I got 2 words for ya

I'm sorry, but as brilliant as Tool are, they are alternative metal, not progressive metal.

5 Psychedelic Rock

Some of the best songwriters of all time made Psychedelic music such as Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett, John Lennon, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Jim Morrison, Grace Slick, etc.

6 Alternative Alternative rock is a style of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular in the 1990s. In this instance, the word "alternative" refers to the genre's distinction from mainstream rock music.
7 Power Metal

Most of the power metal lyrics are also close to poetry:

"Just hand me my harp, this night turns into myth
Nothing seems real, you soon will feel
The world we live in is another skalds
Dream in the shadows".
(Blind Guardian - Skalds And Shadows).

8 Thrash Metal Thrash Metal is a Heavy Metal subgenre developed during the early 1980s and an early precursor of Extreme Metal. Thrash Metal features a faster and more aggressive guitar work than Traditional Metal with shredding and double-bass drums and can range from melodic singing to loud shouts. more.

"Brother will kill brother
Spilling blood across the land
Killing for religion
Something I don't understand

Fools like me who cross the sea
And come to foreign lands
Ask the sheep for their beliefs
Do you kill on God's command?

A country that's divided
Surely will not stand". (Megadeth - Holy Wars)

Slayer skeletons of society. “Minutes seem like days since fires ruled the sky the rich became the beggars and the fools became the wise. Memories linger in my brain from burning in the acid rain of pain I never have won” that is so true. Reply if u agree

Slayer has some very complicated lyrics like World Painted Blood. Also many of their songs are about intelligent topics like history, religion and mythology. And Slayer isn’t the only thrash metal band with intelligent lyrics. Other examples are Metallica’s Sad But True/Master of Puppets and Megadeth’s Symphony of Destruction/Holy Wars...The Punishment Due.

Damn,I'm stupid
I should have vote for that

9 Opera

To be very honest, I don't know what they're saying half the time in the songs, but I know that the songs do have good life meanings to them. I did see one opera show back when I was like 15. Thought I was going to hate it but it actually made me cry because of the ending.

To be honest, the reason you don't know what they are saying half the time, is because the lyrics are not in English.

Very underrated but opera rock should be here too.

10 Blues Blues is a music genre and musical form originated by African Americans in the Deep South of the United States around the end of the 19th century.

In the words of Bluesman Albert Cummings: "Oh well now some people say that the Blues makes you feel sad, hah! Best damn feelin' I musta ever had; I said the Blues makes me feel so good."

You really don't need big words or have a degree in psychology or philosophy to be this clued-up; you just need to know what you're talking about. This man sums up things pretty well, methinks.

The Contenders

11 Conscious Hip Hop

Needs to be number 1.

12 R&B
13 Neo-Soul
14 Folk
15 Gospel

For God fearing people's choice.

16 Nu Metal

This makes more sense then rap metal, they are completely different.

17 Punk Rock Punk rock is a subgenre of rock music. It usually has rebellious lyrics and down stroked power chords played on guitars. Bad Religion, Sex Pistols, and Green Day (actually pop-punk, which is still punk in a way) are a few punk rock bands. The subgenre influenced thrash metal because of it's down stroked more.

Definitely one of the most lyrical genre. Just listen to the Dead Kennedys or Bad Religion.
Most artists in this genre say : "We just wanted to uplift the lyrics in music. Talking about what was happening in the real world."
I remember a guy from a famous anarcho-punk band saying (something along the lines of) : "Venom was even singing about Satan! I don't wake up in the morning and see Satan. I hear about wars, famines, disease, corruption..."

Most of the time, punk is a political statement. That’s the whole point of the genre. Expressing one’s own thoughts on subjects instead of mindlessly agreeing with the popular opinion.

Anybody who knows anything about music should know #20 is way too low for punk. Absurdly ridiculous.

"Yeah like the last time we went through this" I'm not sure what you mean by this do you just mean what I said here? I never said that there is no one on TheTopTens who doesn't know much about music. I was simply disputing the idea that "anybody who knows anything about music" would say that Punk has more intelligent lyrics than say rap.

18 Art Rock

Radiohead : A hear that filled up like a landfill
bruises that won't heal

Pink Floyd:Time (The dark side of the moon)
The sun is the same in the relative way but you're older
shorter of breath, and one day closer to death

19 Grunge Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is a subgenre of alternative rock and a subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s.
20 Blues Rock Blues rock is a fusion genre combining elements of blues and rock. It is mostly an electric ensemble-style music with instrumentation similar to electric blues and rock: electric guitar, electric bass, and drums, often with Hammond organ.

What are all these greater genres doing behind rap?

21 Reggae
22 Country

Only classic country not modern.

Country, not country pop

23 Melodic Death Metal

You can't really understand most of them so it's kinda pointless (at least in my opinion).

24 Folk Rock
25 Post-grunge
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