What is the most important part of a song?
There, is one question that’ll see the last generation of music enthusiasts. There is an uneven divide between which amongst lyrics and melody, overrides other components in a song. Melody gets higher preference for its ability to stick to one’s subconscious even when lyrics are appalling. Lyrics is celebrated for its ability to put into words that which music it’s too shy to express. For most music professionals however, the debate is unnecessary; every component of music is important.
When I hear a song for the first time, four things capture my interest: instrumentals, vocals, melody and production. The fifth is what determines whether the song will be lodged in my memory or not. And this could be called a singer-songwriter’s disease- the fifth being lyrics, that is. I understand that music without lyrics is still music (think Yanni), and lyrics without music is just poetry; yet for a song, nothing unravels its essence like meaningful words.
“Words make you think… music makes you feel…but a song make you feel thoughts”
(Yip Harburg, popular American song lyricist)
There is something good music does to me: it makes me think. After the melody, vocals, instrumentals and great production have effected their magic in my heart, lyrics seem to whisper to my senses: “hey babe, let’s go over this again.” In one stride, my instincts take a seat. They adjust their glasses and analyse every word in the song. When the analysis is done, they instruct me to do either of these: love, or ignore the song. And this is why:
My mind is a like a market place. Thoughts auction ideas from morn to dusk, leaving countless voices in my head. When unregulated, they turn my mind into a battlefield; each voice, a dart on my convictions. Confusion encamps about me till I’m left with just two options: fight back, or stay miserable. I have chosen the path of war. Daily I grace the battlefield, armed with words.
Music could be just entertainment. But for someone whose mind is always at war, it’s got to do more. It’s got to team up with every scripture, every motivational/inspirational words, every counsel…. and take captive every thought at odds with the truth about me. My Playlist is an armoury. Each song is a weapon combating fear, depression, confusion, blurred vision, boredom, carnality, mediocrity, lust, insecurity and a host of issues.
Music has fought and won many battles against me in the past. Years ago, after listening to one of aunty Beyoncé’s songs, my body started ministering to me that it is not good for babe to be alone. For a believer called to a life of purity, that was war. There’ve been songs that suggested my physique isn’t qualified to enter the 21st Century Chic’s Hall of Fame. This made me feel the need to show a little skin. I’ve had cause to doubt, and even abuse God because some lyrics said it’s fine. And I didn’t feel awful because even “the best of us” sang along. Now I know better. I do not give every song undue importance. I allow my instincts do their job.
Lyrics speak. It’s irresponsible to wilfully ignore what they’re saying. Even if all we crave from a song is entertainment, nothing changes the fact that words are seeping into our subconscious. With time, they’ll form our convictions and birth actions that’d astound us. Lyrics don’t have to be deep to speak. In simplicity, they feed the soul. If we believe the power of life and death lies in our tongues, thus, we control the words spoken over us; why do we then allow some random artist breathe ill over us with insane lyrics? Every word consciously or unconsciously stored in our minds will fight for or against us in the day of adversity.
So dear, before you sing that song you just heard, before you transfer one more thrash to your playlist and subject your heart to war, before you shed off yourself in bits till you’re unseen… think! Think beyond the dexterous vocals seducing your ears, the beats unshackling your feet. Think creativity and beyond… beyond flawless production, skillful composition and professional presentation. Think beyond sensational melodies, mushy harmonies and horny hooks. Think beyond the argument for what is the most important component in a song. Think…. for the health of your soul….
Before you sing that song.