Stuff I Like in Music, and Stuff I Don’t

October 2, 2009
By

Okay, so I know a lot about musical taste is subjective–although a lot of what makes music good is actually pretty measurable. As I look for The Oomph in the bands and artists I look at, there are a number of factors that affect how I review them. Like everyone else, there are certain musical styles I personally prefer, and I can’t promise that some genres won’t get reviewed more than others. However, I am going to try to make it so that most styles will get at least some representation here, and to be as fair as possible when reviewing them.

That said…no matter the style, there are some things I think make music good, and things that I think make music suck. Even if you don’t agree with these criteria, at least you’ll have a grid for where I’m coming from.

Here are some things that make me lean toward giving a good review:

  • Original songs–not necessarily songs the band or artist has written (there are great musicians who aren’t songwriters), but songs unique to the act.
  • Innovative sounds–not just random stuff I haven’t heard before, but what I call “controlled creativity”–something new that is still musically appealing.
  • Passion–when the band apparently believes what they are playing and/or singing.
  • Great stage presence–the ability to command and keep the audience’s attention, to engage them.
  • Chemistry–when the bandmates work well together and function as a unit.
  • Raw talent (duh)–when the band/artist is really good at what they do! Few things scratch my musical itch more than hearing a musician who has mastered his/her instrument. I love it.

On the other hand…here are some real musical turn-offs for me:

  • Musical sloppiness. I prefer tight, clean sounds and accurate rhythms, although I respect a level of looseness depending on the genre. But when it’s obvious that the music is unrehearsed, or that the band is a bunch of individuals who aren’t connected with each other, it sends a message that the act doesn’t really care about what it’s doing. And if they don’t care…why should I?
  • Excessive, needless profanity or vile content. I’m a Christian, but I’m not a prude. I respect freedom of speech, and I can even accept some strong content when it makes sense in the context or is important to the message. But when it is apparent that someone is celebrating vileness and calling it “art”–it’s just unnecessary. Express yourself all you want, but I have the right not to listen to it if you want to be crude for crudeness’ sake.
  • Unprofessional conduct. I know this frame’s certain artists’ image and gets some attention, but that kind of crap is not about music–it’s about attention. (Think Kanye.) If you have to make that much of a stink, then maybe you’re not all that talented, and you have to act like a moron to conceal that fact. If you’re a good musician, the music will stand on its own. I can smell B.S. a mile away.

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