There is no right or wrong answer here objectively. We can look at this on a song-by-song basis. Specific genres and artists will have more of a focus on one or the other. Both are extremely important for the most part.
Lyrics And Music
It’s one of the first questions I remember being asked when I started songwriting, and still one that I hear to this day.
It’s a tricky question because there isn’t a definitive answer.
I will discuss this in detail in this article and examine where lyrics or music may be more important in specific cases.
In the end, if you enjoy one or the other more, then that’s the right answer for you.
What’s More Important, Lyrics Or Music?
This is a very subjective question. In my own life, I know people that listen to the music first and others that listen to the lyrics first. And honestly, it is a very personal thing for each person.
But if you’re objective, would the lyrics have the same feeling to them written on paper as they do when they are performed?
If you’re asking yourself what you consider most important, then take a deeper look at your favorite song. What about it gives you the most emotion, the lyrics or the music?
Are Lyrics More Important Than Music?
Certain songs and types of music lean into the lyrics category carrying more weight than the music. Not to say that the music doesn’t provide an essential part, though.
Songwriters such as John Lennon have written protest songs that included profound meaning in the lyrics.
In catchy love songs, Taylor Swift and Sam Smith often write about love and heartbreak. Their vocal melodies add to the meaning of the lyrical content. Still, it does seem that the excellent lyrics are the focal point of this music.
If you look at Hip Hop as a whole, I would say that the lyrics are typically more important. They put a lot of emphasis on how each syllable lands over a great beat.
Is The Music More Important Than The Lyrics?
Once again, in some music, for sure. Some music is meant to make you feel a certain way or even act a certain way without worrying too much about the deep meaning in the lyrics.
We Should Be Dancing by The Beegees is a great example.
It’s the groove of the drums and bassline together, with the funky guitars and that soaring melody. Honestly, with their music, I can’t even understand them half the time.
But in this case, who cares? I’m dancing!
Are Music and Lyrics Just As Important As Each Other?
In most modern music that has vocals, I would say so.
I want to point out that I think the lyrics and vocal melody are very intertwined often these days and that the vocal melody significantly impacts how the lyrics are heard.
But it does seem that most modern music does focus on both for a richer and more meaningful song.
Check out this other article to find out if you should write the lyrics or music first.
Why Are Lyrics Important In A Song?
Lyrics add another layer of depth to the emotion and character of the song in a way that nothing else can.
Looking at Billie Eilish, she and her brother Finneas have exceptional songwriting skills already. But if you look at the lyrics, it’s such a personal description of how she experiences the world.
With many of her fanbase being the same age, this adds a level of intimacy to her music.
Read this following article if you are interested in writing lyrics from the heart.
Is Music Without Lyrics A Song?
It is. There is music without lyrics because it’s an instrumental song.
There are so many different genres that have instrumental musicians.
Most of the genre of Lofi Hip-Hop/Study Beats is instrumental.
Some bands, such as Snarky Puppy and Polyphia, are instrumental unless a guest vocalist is enlisted for the odd song.
On top of that, look at all the classical music without lyrics or vocals. It’s still amazing, emotional, and complex music.
Lyrics, Or Poetry?
I think that great lyrics are poetry in their own right. Look at Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. The words are so specific and provide such intense emotion.
If you listen to Kendrick Lamar, Denzel Curry, or Eminem, you will know that what they write is pure poetry. Their command over the English language in their music is astonishing. It should be held up there as masterpieces in poetry.
Do Lyrics Have To Rhyme?
There are no rules regarding lyrics or music, for that matter. There may be particular conventions, but no strict rules you have to follow.
Many artists will use not rhyming as an effect in a great way.
Biffy Clyro and Twenty One Pilots do this well.
Using a line in the lyrics that don’t rhyme, where maybe most of the other lines do, catches you off guard. It has a certain way of grabbing your attention, and you focus on that detail.
Do Lyrics Have To Make Sense?
Not at all. Some artists just put lyrics in because that’s the social norm for a lot of music.
Furthermore, some artists write lyrics that seem to make no sense on the surface. Still, once you look deeper, the meaning is so rich and powerful that it sometimes blows you away.
A typical example of an artist that does this that pops into my mind is System Of A Down.
So, What Is The Most Important?
I don’t think you can just decide whether music or lyrics are objectively more important for every song. It does come down to each individual song.
Even with a love song or sad song, you would think this could only be portrayed through lyrics, but there is beautiful instrumental music that can portray both feelings based on harmony and melody alone.
What Will Your Criteria for A Good Song Be?
As stated throughout this article, there are no hard-set rules for what matters more in a song. Look at the music you listen to and like the most. Look at the connection between them, which will be the defining factor of a good song for you.
This transcends genre. It could be anything, but you will know once you dig deep enough and find it.
Do Song Lyrics Matter To You?
Ultimately, this is the most critical question to ask yourself. How do song lyrics make you feel? For myself, I listen to the music and melody of the vocals before the lyrics. So for me, the lyrics are secondary.
Which Comes First, Lyrics Or Music?
This entirely depends on the artist. Some artists essentially write poems first and then work the music around them. The song Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chilli Peppers started this way. However, in my experience, it is more common for the music to be written first, including for myself.
Are Singers Born Or Made?
While there are a few exceptions of people having an insane amount of initial talent, most singers work on their voices—even amazing vocalists.
It’s not just about sounding their best, too. It’s about maintaining their voice and making sure they are treating it properly. So in a way, most singers are made.
What Do Singers Drink Before They Sing?
Water is always a good starter. Hydration is vital in the longevity and performance of your vocals. There is a famous throat coat tea that some singers use. Typically this is honey, lemon, and hot water. It tastes great and has healing properties.
Does it work? Maybe for some.
Want to learn more? Check out this article looking at do all singers use autotune.