Music or Lyrics? (in Off-topic)

Lochnivar April 15 2009 4:40 AM EDT

Ok... so this came to mind because I have the lyrics of "Mad World" stuck in my head...

Anyway, this is the question I pose to you:

Do you listen to the music (beat, rhythm, etc) or do you listen to the lyrics?

My brother and I will often discuss songs and while I know almost all the words he knows very few... nor has he ever tried to learn them.

I am kinda curious about how my fellow CBers perceive these things.

... at very least it could be fun.

Ernest-Scribbler April 15 2009 4:48 AM EDT

Lyrics, almost 100% though i do like arcade fire and you can really tell English is not there first language in places.

Messbrutal April 15 2009 4:49 AM EDT

I listen to music mostly and often perceive the singing to an instrument more then actual lyrics.

I listen to metal mostly and it's pretty hard to distinguish whatever they try to say at times, this might play a big role in the way I listen to my music.

blackshadowshade April 15 2009 6:16 AM EDT


Daz April 15 2009 6:19 AM EDT

I listen to the lyrics more than anything.
People tell me they like a song and I wonder how, since it's about X (Killing kittens, etc).

The beat/tune is always very important, but the Lyrics make a song.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] April 15 2009 6:40 AM EDT


MonkeyMandate [Wasting Time] April 15 2009 7:50 AM EDT

Depends. If i am listening whilst doing work then the music is more important as i just use it as background noise. Other times then i listen to them both and when its a personal favourite then lyrics are the most important

TheHatchetman April 15 2009 11:23 AM EDT

Lyrics make good music better. Great music combined with horrible lyrics will wash out into a decent song, but great lyrics to horrible music will always suck :P

AdminTal Destra [C and S Forgery Lmtd.] April 15 2009 11:36 AM EDT

both, if they lyrics don't sound good with the bass beat or the drums, or the guitar solo is off, then whats the point?

Flamey April 15 2009 11:36 AM EDT

Lyrics mainly.

Wasp April 15 2009 11:40 AM EDT

I enjoy music for just how it sounds. If my ears find it pleasing then I listen to it. Mad world is a song I really like, the lyrics are great and the tune is great.

Some rap songs I find to be just noise pollution that makes me angry when I hear it : /

[P]Mitt April 15 2009 11:54 AM EDT

Music. Hatchy's right though; Lyrics + Music is the best.

Banesar April 15 2009 12:03 PM EDT

As a musician who writes music and lyrics I can tell you right now, music is much more important to a song than lyrics are. Lyrics are the tool to get the music listened to. If a song is strong musically and weak lyrically it's still a decent song. But often times I've written lyrics that I thought were amazing, but the music I tried to write to it (that was my first mistake, lyrics should always follow music) wasn't up to par, so the song sucked. Lyrics are not nearly as important as the music it is tied to.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] April 15 2009 1:24 PM EDT

music catches my ear first, then the lyrics come later.

Daz April 15 2009 1:43 PM EDT

See, if a song has terrible lyrics and awesome music, I'll get the song stuck in my head, then go, "Hey, No. I hate that turd of a song!" And then start singing Greensleeves to erase it from my brain.

On the other hand, I also listen to a lot of International music that has lyrics I can't understand. Whether I like a song I can't understand can be very hit and miss based on a lot of things. Classical and Instrumental music are also high on my listening list.

AdminLamuness April 15 2009 1:59 PM EDT

Music first, lyrics second.

BadFish April 15 2009 2:37 PM EDT

Music- but lyrics are part of the music.

Thak April 15 2009 2:39 PM EDT

Music over lyrics here.

Adminedyit [Superheros] April 15 2009 3:36 PM EDT

both,lyrics without music is speech, if you don't believe me read the words to lyrics to Come Together by The Beatles....

RedWolf April 15 2009 11:09 PM EDT

I care very little for lyrics. In fact, most of the music I listen to is lyric-less, or the lyrics are sung in a foreign language, or there may be singing but no words (i.e. sung on a neutral syllable like ah). In other words, I prefer vocals as an instrument/supplement rather than words telling a story or singing a song.

Someone once said:
"Music without lyrics is still music; lyrics without music is just poetry."

Admiralkiller [Cult of the Valaraukar] April 15 2009 11:23 PM EDT

I like all of it but sometimes lyrics can make or break a song, that being said i like banging on my guitar, so often i find myself listening more to the instruments. Like i said i do listen to the lyrics because they often have meaning or are very nice on the ears.
I do listen to all kinds of music.

Tyriel [123456789] April 15 2009 11:45 PM EDT

I'm fairly odd, I'd say.

Usually I'm attracted to a song/band/sound because it's unique, or a part of it is. That's the part I focus on first. Most often it's the vocals that piques my interest (Priestess, Muse, etc.), but on some occasions it's the guitar (Disturbed, Slipknot, a select few songs).

Then I usually either listen to the lyrics, or look them up. If they seem 'acceptable' to me (no excessive swearing, stupid messages and the like), then I'll start tuning in the other parts.

So, to answer the original question: Music (more specifically, a piece), followed by lyrics, followed by the rest of the music.

Admin{CB1}Slayer333 [SHIELD] April 16 2009 12:00 AM EDT

As long as the lyrics "flow" with the music of a song, I don't pay much attention to them.

Some songs of course, I actually listen to the lyrics, after the music kind of fades into white noise because of how many times I've heard the song.

three4thsforsaken April 16 2009 12:01 AM EDT

Music! I feel that words should be treated as notes purely for their sound quality. I don't care much for their languistic meanings.

idiotz April 16 2009 12:40 AM EDT

/me listens to the music!

songs like Cliffs of Dover ftw? :o

kevlar April 16 2009 12:45 AM EDT (I thought Mad World was by REM when I first heard it. Then I found this guy on youtube who shows you how to play it and has other cool tutorials)

Music usually catches me first and then I sing with the song for months then eventually find out some of the words I thought I was singing right were actually wrong.

Colonel Custard April 16 2009 12:49 AM EDT

Music first, lyrics second. If I hear a song enough, I tend to learn the lyrics without really trying to. However, there are some musically-mediocre songs that I wouldn't listen to if I didn't think the lyrics were funny (whether they were intended that way or not).

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] April 16 2009 6:39 AM EDT


I'm drawn to both haunting melodies (and instramental music with no lyrics) and strong vocal lyrics. It really depends on the strength and emotion of both. sometimes a powerful voice can make a track, sometimes it's the beat.

I do find myself picking apart lyrics that could have been so much better.

Like "Cut my arm, bleeding" should have been "Carry on bleeding", or "Burn me alive inside" should have been "Barely alive inside" for some off the cuff examples. ;)

Ernest-Scribbler April 16 2009 7:13 AM EDT

Funnily enough, that version of mad world is a cover. The original is by tears for fears. Here it is:)

Colonel Custard April 16 2009 1:07 PM EDT

Rofl at those "off the cuff" examples, GL. Emo music, much?

But yes, I do the same thing at times. There are albums that I used to enjoy that I've stopped listening to altogether once I realized how much their lyrics suck. Granted, I may also have progressed a little bit in my musical tastes as well.

Lord Bob April 16 2009 1:12 PM EDT

I'm in the "Both" category.

GoLDeNGaTE April 18 2009 10:50 AM EDT

You can have both...and more!-->Thursday - You Were The Cancer

Great Band, Great Song!

Canibus April 18 2009 11:21 AM EDT

It depends, when I listen to rap then lyrics count for near everything, the beat can be horribly done for what I care, infact I miss those simple beats from earlier, nowadays its too much synthetic sound. Some may think thats quite normal, but I doubt it, considering the crap which most mainstream rap have been the last years.
When I listen to metal and metal-ish music then I don't care too much about the lyrics, while the whole sound counts for some, and how skillful it is counts for the rest.

Thraklight Resonance April 18 2009 5:45 PM EDT

Bass solo.

j'bob April 18 2009 6:00 PM EDT

"lyrics without music is speech"

So a cappella would be what? Just singing? So singing with out instrumental accompaniment isn't music? I'm a music lover and can see how the two sides (3 sides?) shall never meet on this one.
Too much music now days is getting "re hashed" what with sampling and what not. In that aspect I think it gets left to lyrics to keep you from vomiting from boredom. I've always felt that on many people, the voice is as much if not a better instrument than has ever been made by man.
The right voice can make music out of the alphabet... no other "instruments" required.

Eurynome Bartleby [Bartleby's] April 18 2009 7:28 PM EDT

The two need to be good for me. Crap music with good lyrics is just speech with an annoying background noise. Kinda like trying to phone in a construction zone.

Crap lyrics with good music are just a mindless stimuli. I don't enjoy that. Makes me feel stupid. (I'm looking at you, almost every band since 1990.)

This being said, I can enjoy some rap songs. (Lyrics WITHOUT music, or only with a primitive beat) I don't consider that music though. It's just ''rap'' to me. Different but still good.

j'bob April 18 2009 11:44 PM EDT

Ahh, now we're getting dangerously close to an interesting question...
What is music and how long has it actually been around?

The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature
by Daniel Levitin

An excellent read as far as learning about how far back primitive music can be traced and what effects it has had on the evolving human.

Soul Eater April 19 2009 1:15 AM EDT

I listen to the Lyrics, I listen to only Christian Music.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] April 19 2009 7:14 AM EDT

I'm a Christian myself, and I cannot stand "Christian" music. ;)
But, to expound: It depends on what I'm listening to, really. Like, if I'm listening to Nightwish, it's both the lyrics and the music. If I'm listening to, say, Metallica, it's mainly the music. And if I'm listening to Andrea Bocelli, it's mainly the lyrics.

WOLFMOTHER April 29 2009 4:15 PM EDT


Music is like the raw emotion and energy you feel when you first meet someone.

Lyrics is like the story and personality behind the person, like getting to know them.

Therefore, Music = Sex, Lyrics = Pillow Talk

SimplyNic April 29 2009 4:36 PM EDT

Y'know that's a fairly tough question... But I listen to both. Its... Hard to explain really how it works... But I hear the music and I hear the lyrics.

Invader Sye April 29 2009 4:39 PM EDT

lyrics and beats stew music for me.
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