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ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

How important are the lyrics when you're listening to music?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25184points) October 3rd, 2011

I’ve rejected music that has a good sound, simply because I hate the lyrics. Lyrics are extremely important to me. However, I have met people that will come right out and say that they don’t care about the lyrics at all. Or, that the lyrics aren’t very important to them. I’ve always found it to be very powerful when an artist has put into words something that I’m feeling, and it’s as though I’ve been given a way to express what I’m feeling, while I also appreciate that someone can relate or validate my feelings.

Are the lyrics important to you? Or is the melody or rhythm more significant to you when choosing music you like?

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36 Answers

GabrielsLamb's avatar

They are somewhat important pertaining to the song itself and the reason I enjoy it. I enjoy plenty of music that moves me just as deeply with absolutely no lyrics at all. So, if I am into a song FOR the lyrics or they are a vital part of the mood that’s one thing, if it is about the song itself that’s something else. It’s a bad answer really, but it’s true in this case, it just depends.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Depends on the music. Some make or break the deal. Some don’t matter.

tom_g's avatar

I don’t even listen to the lyrics most of the time – that is, I hear the voice as an instrument, but do not listen to the actual words.

Soupy's avatar

The lyrics are reasonably important to me. I do listen to a lot of instrumental music, and foreign music, so I don’t necessarily need lyrics to like music, and when there are lyrics I don’t need to be able to understand them in any meaningful way to like the song. However, If there are lyrics I can understand, and they detail things I am unable to relate to, I find myself unable to enjoy the music. It just puts me off, and I can’t fully immerse myself in the songs.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@GabrielsLamb ooh, touche. Excellent example. :)

dreamwolf's avatar

I’m more into the art of sound. Lyrics come second to me because I really don’t care for “knowing” how they feel compared to the sound translating how they probably feel.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@tom_g *GASP! I have always wondered about that. Although of course it is your preference, I have never understood it when people say “I never listen to the lyrics.” I could faint straight away!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m thinking of three songs right now. Two are made by the lyrics, one doesn’t matter. Blue Oyster Cult, Harvestor of Eyes and Astronomy, and then Godzilla.

dreamwolf's avatar

@tom_g I’d say I’m on the same boat. Most new songs I listen to these days, I can’t recognize all the lyrics like I could when I was a kid, listening to pop songs, even now a good pop song can stick in my head, but my gf on the other hand (we listen to the same music) she is still retaining lyrics even from vocals drowned in reverb and other effects.

Hibernate's avatar

Important enough. The song needs to have a message or I won’t bother listening to it. Some don’t have to have lyrics but only classical/opera/drum ‘n bass etc

tom_g's avatar

@GabrielsLamb – Yep, I think I’m in the minority here. I think it has to do with a couple of things:
– I am probably not smart enough to understand lyrics, or I take them way too literally.
– I can best express myself artistically through creating music. When I try to translate that into words, I fail.
– When I hear someone else’s music and it does something to me, it becomes mine in the sense that I interpret the emotions behind every muted guitar string, discordant break, etc. Even the voice (tone, cadence, etc) becomes an instrument that is expressing or bringing out in me certain emotions. To focus in on the lyrics would bring me out of the place I enjoy. It would be to turn the emotional/creative into something literal. Plus, the lyrics most likely have nothing to do with my interpretation of the song.

erichw1504's avatar

Not very, especially since I listen to a lot of techno (dubstep) where there isn’t usually much lyrics to begin with. But, if I am listening to some rock or something and I’m not fond of the lyrics, I probably won’t like it.

AmWiser's avatar

For me it’s the voice and the music. By the time I actually grasp the gist of the lyrics, I’m sometimes disappointed that I like the record.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@tom_g Somehow I highly doubt that my dear… You seem rather astute actually and I believe that intelligence as a self observed condition is likened to the old saying about crazy.

“If you think you are, you’re not.” Only it’s reversed in the case of intelligence, usually if you think you’re not you are. I see no problem there… *Smiles.

Some lyrics are just tedious and confusing… What I think that makes you is Left brain dominant. myself being completely linear in one aspect and completely right brained in another, I understand, but I just can’t feel ya on it….

CWOTUS's avatar

Sometimes I listen to foreign language music (Andrea Bocelli and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with its German chorale, to name two favorites) and I can’t do much more than imagine what the lyrics say – although I have a good idea: Con Te Partiro has been translated into English into “Time to Say Goodbye” and anyone with a passing command of English can figure out the meaning of “alle menschen verden Bruder”.

I hate rap ‘music’ as much as I do because I can understand the lyrics. Although the ‘poetry’ of it is often pretty good and imaginative – certainly evocative.

Cruiser's avatar

Not very. For me lyrics take a back seat to the music.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@erichw1504 LOL… I just recently found out what in the heck “Dub-Step” actually means. It drove me up a wall for the better part of a year!

DrBill's avatar

The words are very important to me, some of the “crap” that is around talk about discrimination, hate, and other subjects I do not support. when they sing about hate for hate’s sake, I turn it off no matter how good the tune is.

TexasDude's avatar


I take great pleasure in interpreting lyrics and finding ways to apply them to my own experiences. The more artfully cryptic, the better.

ucme's avatar

It’s like receiving a greeting card (birthday/christmas etc) without any message written in it. Pointless, incomplete & mildly irritating. Unless it happens to be an instrumental of course.

picante's avatar

The lyrics are very important to me, and the Internet comes to my rescue all the time when I need to find the lyrics (not understanding a passage after repeated listenings). But I certainly appreciate instrumental music, as well. And I hate the lyrics that have glaring grammatical errors, though I try to factor in some poetic license sometimes ;-)

OpryLeigh's avatar

They are very important. If the lyrics are bad the voice, melody and arrangement has to be stunning for me to be able to enjoy the song. This would explain why I am not a fan of Cheryl Cole!

I think Jim Steinman’s lyrics are usually incredible.

Jude's avatar


I’m more for the melody, though.

marinelife's avatar

Very Important.

tko7800's avatar

For me, a good song can have a good melody and bad lyrics but not vice versa. That said, good lyrics definitely enhance a song. A great part of the appeal of liking the Smiths for example are the lyrics.

Blackberry's avatar

Not very important, which is why I started listening to a lot of music genres that don’t have lyrics (chill out, lounge, electronic). I still think lyrics are important, but only if they’re really good.

Even the lyrics of some of best songs in history are pretty lame, in my opinion.

stardust's avatar

I like various genres, including tunes without lyrics. In terms of most songs that have lyrics, they’re quite important to me. However, if I just feel like dancing around the house, getting ready for a night out on the town, etc, lyrics aren’t always as important to me.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf THanks… That piece of music played by those two genius men gives me to the geese! Totally! That is REDONKULOUSLY awesome I agree. and yet… no words!

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t like lyrics at all. They are extremely annoying and usually get in the way of my enjoyment of the music. Part of the problem… maybe most of it is that I cannot understand the lyrics—singers usually don’t enunciate very clearly.

Chicken and egg here. Maybe I don’t understand lyrics because that’s not what I want in music or maybe I like melody and sound better because I can’t understand the lyrics. I tend to like to do things while listening to music, and if there are words I do understand, it is very distracting.

Music works on a different level of my mind. It does not work at the linguistic level, but at a more subconscious level. It helps me settle into a meditative state when my focus can be quite strong. Lyrics ruin that.

Ellis1919's avatar

It depends on my mood. Sometimes I like to listen just for the lyrics because I love them so much and other times I just need a certain sound to get me through.

glenjamin's avatar

I posed a similar question a while back. Usually this depends on my mood, sometimes I look for songs with a certain style of lyrics to fit my mood, other times I prioritize the sound/energy of the track. If I really don’t like the lyrics of a song I won’t listen to it, but this doesn’t happen too often (I usually stay away from music with those types of lyrics anyway). I like to know the lyrics but sometimes it is hard to decipher some artists, in which case I will still listen if I like the music. For most of what I listen to the lyrics are pretty abstract anyway, so alot is open for interpretation. The music usually takes the most precedence for me in most cases, and lyrical style seems to be similar within genres. i.e. a dance song can have the most brilliant lyrics, but I won’t listen to it because it’s dance music. The same with country, R&B, and a host of other genres I simply won’t listen to.

flutherother's avatar

I really prefer instrumental music but lyrics add poetry to the music and each draws strength and meaning from the other. At least this is how it seems to me when the lyrics are good; the words seem charged with meaning however trite they may appear when written down on the page.

DrBill's avatar

I knew a girl who loved a song, I ask her if she ever really listened to the the words, and she said “well kind of” I told her to listen to the whole song, and pay attention to the words, she did, now she refuses to ever listen to it again.

Scooby's avatar

So long as I can bang my head, tap my feet to the rhythm, words aren’t that important….. I’m partially deaf anyway so the louder the better, Which will probably drown out the words for me anyway………… :-/ so long as it’s not Rap music I can pretty much feel all other music…

Blackberry's avatar

I was just listening to Jane’s Addiction’s “Been caught Stealin’” Even though it sounds great, the message isn’t very great, so I just listen to the tune lol.

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