Lyrics

I think we all have agreed that music can entice some sort of emotional reaction and that reduced listening often associated with music does not equal listening void of meaning.  My question is, to what extent does lyrical poetry enhance or take away from a musical composition. Also, although lyrics are part of our semantic interpretation of music, are individuals that listen to music actually semantically understanding the words or are they really just listening to everything in the reduced way that music seems to be interpreted.  I did a little research into this topic and what I found is that, in reality, every individual listens to music in a different way.  Some individuals have favorite songs that they really don’t even know all the words to, others can recite song after song without a problem.  In my opinion, the lyrical work is just as important as the musical piece.  Just like the composition of the song, the lyrical poetry is an art form.  And with the two working side by side, the purpose of the piece is enhanced.  Artists without well written lyrics, just don’t have the same weight to there songs that well written poetry brings.  I also found that often an individual can know all the words to a song but still not be thinking about what the words actually mean.  For example a song can have an upbeat tempo but a really dark message that people don’t catch the emotion to because they aren’t actively listening to the lyrics.  I think it is interesting that one can listen to words of a song and know what every word is but still fail to see the meaning behind the words because they are focused on the dynamics of the song and understanding the emotional content that way.  An example of this is Outkast’s song “Hey Ya”.

The song is an upbeat and catchy which masks the underlying message of the lyrics overlooked.  In reality, although Andre 3000 may ask you to “shake it like a polaroid picture” the message behind the song is about a broken relationship with a woman.  So it is really an artistic choice that individuals often use to mask heavy emotions with “happy sounding” music.  And this choice works because people often don’t really think about the lyrics but the lyrical content is often the hardest part of a song to make work for a lot of reasons.  Another example of this is the song “White Winter Hymnal” by The Fleet Foxes.  The artist states that he wanted to create a song that people would hum along to but the lyrics offer a sort of vague darkness that was also a purposeful artistic choice.

So in my opinion, it is important to recognize the lyrics of songs as an important piece of the artwork.