What comes first, music or lyrics?
What do you think?
While studying the wonderful Discovering Music course this past fall and winter, my girls and I debated this question frequently.
Professor Carol comes down on the side of lyrics. For her, “song” has a specific meaning. Songs have words. They are intended to say something.
If you accept this, pop music becomes problematic. Or in any case, I feel that way. Why? Well, a lot of pop songs have lyrics that aren’t very…thoughtful? And yes, some are downright vulgar, more for shock value than anything else.
I personally really enjoy electronic dance music, of the sort that has been popular in Europe for decades now. I enjoy the disco beats, the willingness to exploit new technologies, the genre mash-ups, the sharing that happens when DJs “remix” popular tunes, the lively and typically positive, ebullient “mood.” But EDM isn’t known for great lyrics. A lot of it is repetitive, doesn’t have structure, or is not quite grammatical English (a lot of EDM composers/producers are Dutch, Swedish, German, etc.).
So what happens when you love a song and hate the lyrics? Or, is that even a thing…is that possible?
Whether or not it’s possible, it happens. And then I have to ask–how did the composer write this? And what is s/he trying to express when the words are dumb or make no sense? What if the music, to put it mildly, ROCKS? (and a related topic–what if you just love a dumb TV show despite knowing how dumb it is?
I may amble over to Professor Carol’s discussion forum and ask her for her input….
I’m obviously not “answering” this question anytime soon, but if we are enlightened we’ll be back with an update….