Are lyrics important in a song? While you won’t see a lot of people discussing this issue, this is probably a question that comes up every once in a while. The question is not as stupid as it sounds-many actually claim that lyrics do not serve any important function to a song. After all, a song is music; and while the sound would be different without the lyrics, the experience shouldn’t be any different. There are people who listen to music for the sake of the sound, considering the lyrics as an exterior, an addition, instead as an integral part of the creation. But is this entirely true? Are lyrics really important?
Many would say yes for several reasons. For one, many listeners of music find the appeal of songs in the lyrics and not in the music. This is because they find the song lyrics “relatable.” By this, it means the listeners can connect with the song, perhaps because they have experienced the sentiments and narrative delivered by the lyrics. Lyrics as something relatable are usually applicable when the song lyrics are in the form of a narrative; or when the song lyrics tell a story, regardless if it is complete or incomplete. An example of this is Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” If the title itself doesn’t imply that the song is a narrative, the lyrics itself should make it very clear. For instance: “My daddy left home when I was three / And he didn’t leave much to ma and me / Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze. / Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid / But the meanest thing that he ever did / Was before he left, he went and named me ‘Sue.'” Of course, the lyrics of the song can be relatable even if it isn’t an all-out narrative. As all as the lyrics provide sentiments, anyone can relate to it.
One factor why people say lyrics aren’t essential in songs is dance music. Dance music has lyrics, of course, but their function isn’t as important as the sound of the song itself. For instance, there have been a number of dance songs that have lyrics in the foreign language. The lyrics of dance songs aren’t exactly nonsensical, but it is not given primary importance.
Lyrics also aim to inspire. This is essential true in gospel music and country music. Here, the sound doesn’t take a backseat-although the lyrics are given more importance. Gospel music, for instance, is a genre defined by the lyrics of the song since it is described as a genre that expresses Christian beliefs. Of course, lyrics also provide additional entertainment, especially when songs are performed in karaoke.
In short, lyrics make it easier for a song to express emotions and sentiments, feelings and intent. Music can provide and express emotions, but adding lyrics to a song definitely adds depth and texture to what would otherwise be plain and repetitive.