What Makes Us Classify a Song as “Good” or “Bad”?

There are quite a few things in this world that I am violently passionate about, and I am sure you all know that music is one of them. Playing it, listening to it, learning it, writing it, the whole nine yards. With this obsession has come sort of a music superiority complex, that is almost completely unwarranted but cannot be suppressed. I mean, I am a complete douche about it. The type who will make you a playlist just to prove that your music could use some “spicing up”. It is my worst quality. Anyways, I only say this so you have the context to the absolute mental breakdown I had this past weekend.

I went home briefly, which I know is a recipe for a mental breakdown alone, and ended up hanging out with my younger cousin for a bit. He is now a freshman in high school and has an interesting taste in music now. Like his favorite artists are currently Michael Jackson AND KSI. We were sitting there, heatedly arguing about each other’s “terrible” music taste when he asks me a question that I think broke something in my brain.

“Well, what makes a song a ‘good song’ then?”

This song is the blueprint for all ‘good’ songs.

I stared at him, dumbfounded, as he waited for an answer. I simply shrugged, stating some bull crap about how it’s not as simple a question as that. But truly, it is. Or rather, we like to think it is. We all think that we have the best music taste, or that it is a simple black or white scale of good or bad. I mean entire careers are based around this very mindset, so it must be true. Right?

This question has been lingering in my brain, making me step off my connoisseur soapbox and try to rethink things. I don’t know how, but the 14-year-old I practically helped raise just completely checked my ego. I had no right to tell him his music taste sucked. I mean it makes him happy, so to some degree, it is good.

There is the glorious answer. The thing that critics and grumpy old men will argue until the end of time. The literal only thing that qualifies a song to be good is if it has brought comfort, or joy, or whatever it was that they were searching for.

I have always thought that the best songs “scratch an itch somewhere in your brain”, and it turns out that phrase went a lot farther than I expected in the grand scheme of things.

This song is one of my all time favorites ever. Objectively it is going to make you smile.

This was a whole lot of introspection and overexplaining for that simple answer, but that’s all there is to this. Does a song make you smile? Great, it has officially checked the box of ‘good song’. Onto the next one. Not even one of us is universally qualified and unbiased enough to determine the quality of any song. Obviously, there is the music theory and the textbook musical masterpieces, but the mere question of “good or bad”? Absolute hooey.

I can’t promise this means I will reign in my music superiority complex; it has become pretty vital to my personality by now. But I can promise I will reign in my judgment of what kind of music makes other people happy. I mean I have had the same favorite band for almost 10 years, who am I to judge?

(All of this being said, here are some songs that scratch that itch in my brain 😉 )


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