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! )
Examples:
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! )

I decided that this is probably one of my favorite lists on TheTopTens for reasons. It explains what actually makes a son that good. Anyway, an example for a Unique Element, includes, AC/DC's Hells Bells. I would say Metallica's For Whom The Bell Tolls, but AC/DC's bell ringing song came out first. It just takes random things never or rarely been used in other songs, to make something great. Pink Floyd's Time is another good example.

If you hear "Never be alone" by Shawn Mendes the melody of the song is made by wristle music even the song is very nice the unique wristle sound worked good there.

Anything that makes the song stand out so that it's considered as one of a kind.

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.

I feel like most of these are things that contribute to a song being good but a song could realistically lack any of these elements and it would still be good if it made up for it with other features.

Though genres do help us in choosing the songs we know we have taste in, but when genres dictate the texture of songs itself, it becomes boringly montonous and pretty predictible. It loses its surprise element and doesn't help us in broadening in our perspective of music itself. Genres are made for convenience in categorizing music but they don't define music itself

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 Meaningful Lyrics

Which song has better lyrics? The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (a rap song) or The View by Lou Reed and Metallica (a metal song)?

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?

A lot of Metallica songs have meaningful lyrics. Just listen to Ride the Lightning, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), and One.

Baby (Justin Bieber) Is an example of a song with crappy lyrics.

4 Complex Beats In Perfect Sync With Each Other

Complexity doesn't always mean good since usually songs are much better to listen to when they're catchy and 4-5 minutes long than some 30 minute long song with mostly instrumental stuff and the rest is just boring singing.

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.

Example:
Blind Guardian - Fly

This isn't the song with the most complex beats but this list isn't only for metal fans and I don't wanna torture people with more metal complexity.

or rather just complexity. The Dance of Eternity by Dream Theater has 108 time signature changes in 6 minutes.

5 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.

Examples:
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

I don't agree with this list. Just a few of them are worthy of some mention, but there are more important elements a song should have to be good.

Dio - Holy Diver
The Doors - Touch Me
Kansas - Miracles Out of Nowhere, Lightning's Hand, A Glimpse of Home, Journey From Mariabron, Carry on Wayward Son, and Sparks of the Tempest

6 Stunning Outro

Starless by King Crimson, Man-Erg and A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers by Van Der Graaf Generator, and Supper's Ready by Genesis all have good outros.

Examples
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.

Mainly is what that differentiates a great song from a pile of good songs, and sadly most of the times is really neglected. Most of the satisfactory songs either end with a guitar jam or rapid drumming, and thus most of the times are cliche.

The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever", Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", and David Bowie's "Life on Mars? " are perfect examples of stunning outros. But then you get an amazing band like Grizzly Bear who doesn't know how to end a song.

7 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.

Tokyo Narita has an amazing intro.

The Who - Baba O Riley
Metallica - Enter Sandman
AC/DC - Hells Bells
Kansas - Sparks of the Tempest, Miracles Out of Nowhere, A Glimpse of Home
Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast, Fear of the Dark, Moonchild, Invaders

8 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.

Examples of songs with good environment : From Yesterday by 30 seconds to Mars, Fade to Black by Metallica, Strobe by deadmau5 and So Cold by Breaking Benjamin.

Basically any song from the Mars Volta's first 4 albums could qualify for this item

Cirkus by King Crimson - Mellotron + Sax help create a dark atmosphere

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 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!

Hansi Kürsch and Matt Barlow define powerful vocals for me.
It's not only the immense power in their voices that makes them powerhouse singers but also outstanding vocal technique to control their huge voices.

Hansi Kürsch:
Demons and Wizards - Path Of Glory
Blind Guardian - Time What is Time

Matt Barlow:
Iced Earth - Melancholy
Iced Earth - Damien

All Panic! at the Disco songs

The Contenders
11 All Instruments Having an Equal Say

No song does this better than Discipline by King Crimson, in which no single instrument may take the lead role nor accompany another instrument, but each instrument must play an equal role in the song without interfering with the other players. At one point in the song everyone is playing a different time signature.

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.

I have a perfect song for ya - Pictures of Home by Deep Purple, an awesome song you're gonna like. A very dynamic and energetic song. This song has: a great drum intro, 2 cool guitar solos, 1 crazy keyboard solo, and believe it or not - even a surprising bass solo! And it's not everything - you also have a great riff, flawless vocals, playful melody and rhythm. Enjoy!

Kansas - Incomudro (Hymn to the Atman) - Has guitar solos, keyboard solos, violin playing, synthesizers, and a pretty long drum solo in it. Another great example would be YYZ by Rush.

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 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.

This has nothing to do with the song. "The Thing that should not Be" is a good title for a song, but is one of the weakest songs in the album.

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.

16 Should Be Unusual in a Way, that Brings the Beauty in It
17 Technical Solos and Riffs

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

18 Grasping Lyrics

Idek any I just wanted to be involed

19 Rhyming Lyrics

I see it mostly on good songs all the time.

20 Gripping Music Video

No, no, no. It's so wrong.
Music video is the gift wrap and not the music gift.

21 Production

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

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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