What is it about a song that gets us hooked?

Hi all,

I can never put my finger on what it is that makes me think a song is amazing… I think I’m drawn to a song by the melody, soundstage, instruments, and vocals… and the lyrics are probably one of the last things I pay attention to.

Is this common?

After all musicians are predominantly lyricists/poets (exc. instrumentalists of course!).

Anybody have any thoughts/views on this?

I’m always open to new ways to learn to enjoy music!

Thanks, Carl


Opposite for me. A fan of singer/ songwriters so lyrics are important. Music has to match though, as does the performer. There have been some cracking songs ruined by poor performers.

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I think there are far more musicians who are not singers/lyricists than are, in which case your ‘predominantly’ is wrong!

And of course what catches different people may be quite different, as there are many different tastes in music, and what one person may fall in love with instantly another may be indifferent to, or even strongly dislike.

If anyone could answer your question for pop music, they’d be able to make their fortune writing pop hits!

For me the lyrics are usually the least important - after all, I like instrumental music as well! I think it is firstly the overall sound, of which a part is melody, and the emotional connection it may make. Lyrics can cement the emotional connection. But sometimes it is just a lyric and melody that catches me, so not always the same. Unlike what seems common on the forum, rhythm doesn’t convey any emotion or engagement to me, though in some music it may contribute to the overall soundscape.

Interestingly when I first got into music seriously lyrics were completely irrelevant (fortunate, perhaps, as sometimes the psychedelic music of the day had less than comprehensible lyrics!). By a decade or so later I started to appreciate the words, and some of my favourite music combines poignant lyrics, typically reflecting either my own life experiences, or expressing views and hopes and concerns about society and the world that echo mine, layering with the music to paint an image of life and its delights and depths of despair - one that can be different every time I hear it because it interacts with my mood, or different memories or recent experiences.


Then again there is the earworm phenomenon.
According to research done by the American Psychological Association, there are certain characteristics that make songs more likely to become earworms. Earworm songs usually have a fast-paced tempo and an easy-to-remember melody. However, earworms also tend to have unusual intervals or repetitions that make them stand out from other songs. Earworms also tend to be played on the radio more than other songs and are usually featured at the top of the charts

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Well damn me, certainly some of the most common earworms resonate with me …

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Hmmm, only one in that list for me…

Different things trigger different people (and in different ways). Witness the recent discussion on liking/not liking jazz on another thread.

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I’m surprised that there are so many Lady Gaga … but I’m not tempted to listen.

It’s Boogy Woogy…the umami of music.

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