Top Ten Qualities of a Good Song

The Top Ten
1 Unique Element

Very good list - it finally explained for me why I like Blind Guardian and Deep Purple (because their songs have all these qualities! )
Deep Purple - Knocking At Your Back Door.
The intro is that unique element - "knock, knock" sound. Besides, this sound is reproduced by the band.

Blind Guardian - Majesty.
It opens with a barrel organ version of 'The Blue Danube' - a waltz by Johann Strauss II.
Majesty is one of the fastest speed metal songs, which is also pretty agressive and the contrast with the intro is cool. Waltz isn't common in contemporary music, let alone metal.

Edguy - Love Tyger (check out the intro! )

2 It Isn't Defined by a Genre

Van Der Graaf Generator is considered a progressive rock group, but are they even prog? they don't sound anything like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, or Yes. There aren't even any guitars, just a saxophone and organ. I guess you could call them "full prog", so much progressive that they're more of an experimental group rather than a progressive one. There is no other band or genre that sounds like them.

Example - Bright Eyes by Blind Guardian.

Nobody can say what metal subgenre it is. This song is very odd, everything is odd - music and lyrics.
I had to listen to it 5 times in a row to figure out what was going on. But now it's one of my favorite songs by Blind Guardian because it doesn't sound like any other metal song I know.

3 Vocals In Sync With the Music

I agree that music is of bigger importance in metal (music, or what Kiteretsunu calls "music" in this context). However, there are many metal bands with excellent balance "music-vocals", and vocals are outstanding.

Demons & Wizards - Path Of Glory, Crimson King
Edguy - Nailed To The Wheel, Sacrifice
Primal Fear - Diabolus, Strike
Blind Guardian - Ride Into Obsession, Wheel of Time
Iced Earth - Melancholy, Dracula
Deep Purple - Highway Star, Perfect Strangers

Neither should overpower the other. In pop and hip hop, it's all vocals and the music seems just nonexistent, while in metal it's just the opposite. Same problem with electronic music with the beats and music getting the main focus

4 Complex Beats In Perfect Sync With Each Other

I have three good examples for this one.

1. Tool - Schism - While it may not be the most complex song based on beats, it's time signatures make up for it.

2. King Crimson - 21st Century Schizoid Man - Just listen to the song, one of my favorite Progressive Rock songs.

3. Kansas - Lightning's Hand - Not their longest song, and not even close, but still a great song, with lots of complex beats, and better than Carry on Wayward Son.

A poppy song with a single tempo and pretty simple beat is boring, however catchy that maybe, While a complex song with range of beats mixed together haphazardly isn't desirable at all.

5 Meaningful Lyrics

Believe it or not, most of the metal songs have very meaningful lyrics - about society, politics, personal struggles, etc. My list of examples can be endless but check out a couple of songs:

Iced Earth - Anthem
Bling Guardian - The Bard's Song (In The Forest)
Megadeth - Peace Sells
Annihilator - Alison Hell
By the way these songs also have all other qualities of a good song mentioned on this list.

It really depends on whether the lyrics are the main focus of the song. If it is a long, complex song, then lyrics do not matter. However, a shorter, more simple song with great lyrics are also great. Just why do you think Imagine by John Lennon is my favorite song of all time?

6 Perfect Intro

A rather bland intro of a really great song doesn't make the song really great. An intro is the most important piece of music after the outro, and the quality of it most either makes or breaks the song.

A lot of listeners just define the song by intro so its important to have a good intro.

7 Awesome Aural Environment

Example - 'The Throne' by Blind Guardian.

Blind Guardian sound is very dense, full, live, rich. Vocal harmonies are not typical in metal but Hansi Kürsch does complex overlapping harmonies. Besides, his signature practice of overdubbing his own voice creates a choir effect that fills the space and you suddenly feel surrounded by many singing people. It's amazing because his voice is actually the only one you hear (lead and background vox) but it's a godly voice.

'The Throne' is a well balanced song - lots is going on per minute but you hear very clearly every instrument and vocals. And there are many instruments because it s symphonic metal.

My emotional response to this song, and Blind Guardian in general, is powerful and uplifting to the spirit, bringing a sense of excitement and grandeur. Enjoy.

8 Stunning Outro

1) Deep Purple - Child In Time (it's an anti-war song).
The most emotional and epic outro I know, which is 1 minute long.

2) Demons & Wizards - Heaven Denies
Trust me, this 2 minute long outro is the most beautiful vocal performance in the world!
Hansi Kürsch has got a powerful metal voice but in this outro he uses his softest, angelic and almost spiritual voice - the outro is a gregorian chant. Hansi does all vocal harmonies alone and his voice is the only one you hear in the song.

3) Iced Earth - Damien
This outro is pretty unusual and should be praised for not being ordinary: whispered lines backed by gregorian chanting in the background. Jon's reversed voice repeats the message that is also in the middle silent section of the song. So, if the song is played backwards, the true message can be heard.

9 Surprising Use of Musical Elements

Most AC/DC songs are just the same crap, but It's a Long Way up to the Top is better than the rest because they made a bagpipe solo, which was not expected in any rock song.

Overkill - Motorhead - Twice does it trick you into believing the song ends.
AC/DC - It's a long way up to the top - never have I seen any other rock song have a Bagpipe solo.

Unexpected elements in these songs make them awesome:

Rainbow - Stargazer, Gates Of Babylon (Arabic scales in metal songs; yes, Ritchie Blackmore is a genius)
Primal Fear - All For One (awesome mini drum solo right before the guitars solo)
Scorpions - Sails of Charon (guitar solo in the intro and not in the middle of the song)
Foreigner - Urgent (ear raping sax solo in a hard rock song instead of the expected guitar solo)

10 All Instruments Having an Equal Say

OK Kiteretsunu, check out 'A Light In The Black'by Rainbow - the best example I know.
This song stands out with lots of things: awesome guitars / keyboards interplay and soloing during a 4-minute long instrumental section, supported by crazy fast drums. The remaining 4 minutes of the song also include Dio's impeccable vox. A perfectly balanced song.

The song also features: a great drum intro, great outro, great riff, great lyrics, great speed, unmatched intensity and technical brilliance from start to finish.

The Contenders
11 Powerful Vocals

My old favorite song (Heaven In Hiding) had this, and my favorite song which technically doesn't exist has this (Wasting Time), but Tokyo Narita does not!

12 Imagination

Example: Rainbow - 'Hunting Humans (Insatiable)'

There is a unique musical dialogue between the guitar and the singer. I've never heard such a beautiful thing before. I also like the whisper at the very end "Don't cry".
I told ya, Ritchie Blackmore is a genius.

13 Memorable
14 Show a Clear and Important Relationship Between All People
15 Should Be Unusual in a Way, that Brings the Beauty in It
16 Eye Catching Song Title

No. I'm afraid the song title says nothing about the music behind it.
There are great songs with not so great titles, let alone "eye catching".
And vice versa - most of the hit songs in the mainstream music are eye catching but...

Example of an eye catching title: "Talk Dirty" by Jason Derulo.
But then listen to the song and lyrics.

I think "Heaven In Hiding" could be eye-catching, but "Slow" is not because it just sounds like it would be a song about my running speed.

17 Production

The reason why Metallica's Death Magnetic, and...And Justice for All were terrible.

18 Technical Solos and Riffs

I don't care about the speed or heaviness of the song. But I like complex solos and riffs.

19 Grasping Lyrics
20 Rhyming Lyrics

I see it mostly on good songs all the time.

21 Gripping Music Video
22 Unusual Time Signatures
23 Beautiful Melody
24 The Song Was Made by and for the Musician, Not for the Audience
25 Each Instrument Has Their on Melody
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