Top Ten Qualities of a Good Song


The Top Ten

1 Unique Element

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

I may use this list to rank songs... I have ideas

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.

Example: Ayreon - Age of Shadows (2008).

A prog metal masterpiece. The whole song is unique with many unique elements - you have sounds in the intro, part of the lyrics use ASCII codes and 8 amazing metal singers sing it (males and females). Pure eargasm.

Also a unique story - an alien race needs help and sends the ASCII code:

01101000 - H

01100101 - E

01101100 - L

01110000 - P


Jørn Lande, Hansi Kürsch, Floor Jansen, Daniel Gildenlöw, Anneke van Giersbergen, Jonas Renkse, Steve Lee, Tom Englund. - Metal_Treasure

V 1 Comment
2 It Isn't Defined by a Genre

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. - Metal_Treasure

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 - Kiteretsunu

I don't really know a lot of songs like this, but I guess Iron Maiden has some of those songs.

Bohemian Rhapsody

V 4 Comments
3 Meaningful Lyrics

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?

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. - Metal_Treasure

Using "whoa" or "oh" every now and then doesn't make the song look any better, however fantastic the music and vocals are. - Kiteretsunu

Wasting time, lost in love
We can go when no one will ever find us
So let's waste time
While we're young
We can drive til the morning sun comes up

We've got no place to go
But we can make it all on our own
We're drivin' slowly, down a country road
We can keep on through the night
If I got you by my side
I see the stars reflecting in your eyes

Think we got something special
Living life like we are rebels
You know we've got potential

Wasting time, lost in love
We can go when no one will ever find us
So let's waste time
While we're young
We can drive til the morning sun comes up

If the road gets tough
Being with you is enough
We're singing all the songs we used to love
We've got nothing to lose
And we're out with something new
But it all feels like home when I'm with you

V 4 Comments
4 Complex Beats In Perfect Sync With Each Other

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. - Kiteretsunu

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.

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. - Metal_Treasure


V 1 Comment
5 Vocals In Sync With the Music

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 - Kiteretsunu

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. - keyson

Well, there is a difference between a song that becomes a hit and a song that is great for a specific person in general. So as this list is so subjective, it would be weird if our opinions were exactly the same on that matter. Of course different parameters make a song great for different people - Kiteretsunu

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 - Metal_Treasure

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

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. - Kiteretsunu

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. - PetSounds

I would like those last couple beats to be perfect! - funnyuser

Like high hopes,the great solo with backing orchestra music. - zxm

V 2 Comments
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. - Kiteretsunu

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

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

V 2 Comments
8 Awesome Aural Environment

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. - Kiteretsunu

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

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. - Metal_Treasure

9 Surprising Use of Musical Elements

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)

- Metal_Treasure

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.

10 Powerful Vocals

All Panic! at the Disco songs

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 - Metal_Treasure

The Contenders

11 All Instruments Having an Equal Say

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! - Metal_Treasure

A song full of solos, and where each instrument isn't masked by others is the one that stands out. - Kiteretsunu

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.

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. - Metal_Treasure

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. - Metal_Treasure

13 Memorable
14 Eye Catching Song Title

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.

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. - Metal_Treasure

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.

15 Show a Clear and Important Relationship Between All People
16 Technical Solos and Riffs

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

17 Grasping Lyrics

Idek any I just wanted to be involed

18 Gripping Music Video

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

19 Production

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

20 Should Be Unusual in a Way, that Brings the Beauty in It
BAdd New Item

Related Lists

Top Ten Qualities of a Good Video Game Top Ten Qualities of a Good TheTopTens List Qualities of a Good TopTenner Top Ten Qualities of a Good Teacher Top 10 Qualities to Have to Live a Good Life

List Stats

20 listings
3 years, 202 days old

Top Remixes (7)

1. Imagination
2. It Isn't Defined by a Genre
3. Perfect Intro
1. Unique Element
2. It Isn't Defined by a Genre
3. Awesome Aural Environment
1. Surprising Use of Musical Elements
2. Powerful Vocals
3. Stunning Outro

View All 7

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.