Yesterday, Hill posted a note about “The Perfect Song.” Her rules make a certain degree of sense: The songs have to played on the Radio and there must be a balance to the lyrics, music and quality of the singer’s voice.
It’s a combination of catchy melody, a great singer, a balance between vocals and music, and lyrics.”
Given these rules, I have to argue that NPR, KEXP and college radio stations cannot be used to justify a songs level of perfection. While these radio stations–or programs–do have a significant audience, I am not sure that the level of significance approaches the criteria that Hill established. Sadly, radio markets are saturated with crappy commercial radio, so we do not get a wide variety of artists.
The rules provide boundaries for finding awesome songs, so it is not worth challenging the rules (even though I want to soo badly). What I want to do is provide a few ideas on how to recognize if the song is Perfect. Let me be clear: Just one of these criterion does not make a song perfect. The more criteria the song connects with, the chances that a song is perfect increase.
1) Does it get stuck in your head?
If you hate a song, but it is catchy enough to stay in your head, the song may be perfect. Just because something is catchy (like the flu, a cold or an STI) does not mean it is good. However, when it comes o music, a catchy tune implies that there is something to be said for the music.
2) Does a good cover exist?
For just about every successful band, there is a less-than-successful cover band. Additionally, for every brilliant cover of a song, there is a shitty cover of the song. Being “covered” does not cut it. Sometimes, a cover out shines the original. Don’t believe me? I trump your disbelief with Johnny Cash and Sinead O’Connor:
3) Does the song end up on a lot of playlists/Mix CDs
If you consistently add a song to a playlist or for a Mix CD, that song probably has enough qualities to warrant a consideration. For example, I added Nightswimming by REM it to a number of playlists and Mix CDs over the years. After a number of deliberations, I have concluded that Nightswimming hits the all of the rules Hill listed: the music, Michael Stipe’s vocals and the bands lyrics synthesize into a beautiful song.
4) You heard the song on a REAL Jukebox
Prior to the 21st century, juke boxes were full of records or CDs. Given the physical constraints of the Jukebox, each one was filled with music that the patrons of a given establishment might enjoy. Today’s flash Internet Streaming Rigs do not have the same level of carefully selected artists. Real ones, while hard to find, might just be some of the Greatest Mix Albums Ever.
5) Music Snobs use the phrase, “that band used to be cool…” or “I liked that band when…” when describing the song.
I admit, I do that frequently. I typically talk about how I used to “love band X” when I was “In highschool/college/before they made it mainstream.” Sometimes the songs were overplayed (like Led Zepplin). Sometimes the songs were contextual (like my love of the Doors–it lasted until the third week of college). Sometimes, it is straight out petty bullshit (like my early love of BNL). Again, this doesn’t make a song perfect–but if a Music Snob has moved “past” the song, the song may be perfect.
The love of music is subjective. I have been trying–albeit with varying degrees of success–to just respect that a person loves music. The world has enough troubles of its own, it doesn’t need me being an asshole about music.
That being said, you have go to hear this song….