In response to Ater, from the People who think music has to be popular to be good node, i think it would be good to evaluate what people actually value in music.

  • Skill

    - Skilled musicianship is well crafted & can be easily discerned from that which is not. It is usually very easy to tell if someone spent a lot of effort programming a song on a computer or learning a skill on a physical instrument such as a guitar, drums or voice. On, it is obvious there are a lot of people who are trying to express themselves with little skill but often rich in enthusiasm. If a song can emote the feelings of the artist, then skill can be looked at less in favour of ideas. New ideas can also make music good, or too obscure to be accessable to the majority of people such as in abstract forms.

  • Presentation

    - Music performed live can really make or break musicians. Sometimes music that may not be completely cerebral or with great skill can become intensely good when performed live with energy and presence. A music video has nothing to do with whether or not a song is good, it is only a marketing tool. Sure the video can be engrossing and cool, but it makes the music rely on other sense input to enhance the music itself. Like a live performance, it can add extra certain energy, but also limits the strengths inherent in music and the energy is co-opted into a cubbyhole instead of a wide open cultural interpretation and integration.

  • Popularity

    - Popular people often make popular music, this tends to rely on more than just the musicians for success in terms of propagation of product to market. There may be a few cases of bands being popular naturally, but today this cannot happen without the entourage of PR people, massive record labels with unbelievably deep pockets, and people with indescriminate tastes for what they listen to. More or less that describes the 'Top 40' or 'mainstream' music, but there is also popularity in specific genres of music that do not cross over to what is in vougue at the moment.

    Good music requires someone who cares about what they listen to, to be able to be seen. Otherwise it may remain forever invisible to them. Like someone who has never left their hometown, opinions on what makes music good or bad are meaningless and perhaps bigoted unless the person travels to other genres of music and at least attempts to feel what the music is saying. Of course it also goes without saying that the ability to listen cosmopolitively goes a long way to respecting if not liking the music or expressions of a people or culture.

    If you are going to pass judgement on what is good or bad music, i suggest you go out of your way to listen to obscure music (obscure to you) and find ways to appreciate different elements. For myself, i prefer electronic music generated on keyboards and computers. But i also explore & listen to Dub, Reggae, Japanese Noh & Shakuhachi music, punk, brit-pop, alternative (such as The Smiths, Bauhuas, Joy Division), Latin Jazz (like Tito Puente and Cal Tjader), Experimental Jazz (such as John Zorn), Contemporary Classical (like Philip Glass, Nicholas Collins & Steve Reich), Soul & R&B.. these are just excluding the techno arena of genres that i could write about for a long time.

    I even enjoy some country music, and i am always heard saying how much i hate it. Why is that? I can hear some songs that actually have some feeling and good use of sonic technique. I may not enjoy it as part of my culture and in many ways it polarizes my ideology and look at life, yet it does set an ambience that i can recognize. I actually do not hate music, i just have preferences, and in many cases i do not have the time to research a certain type of music, but i do know i have the ability to take chances on things i've never heard before and make up my own mind.

    Developing a wider palette for other ideas and cultures can open more worlds to you and gives you more to talk about when meeting people with any similar tastes. What makes music good is more than subjective, even though it relies on the listeners experience and courage to hear new ideas. If you don't understand it, then claiming it is bad is not intelligent, it would be more apt to claim you don't quite understand it. Unfortunately commercial music has killed most peoples interest in other ideas and cultures.