Before I get to recomendations I have some general comments about music taste. I'm a mainly classical musician so this is every day bread for my thoughts.
Lyrics are an important part of any song. Good lyrics can make a great song fantastic. When listening to a foreign language opera, for example, one can enjoy the pure music but when you know the plot and can understand what the music is based on, the enjoyment level is much higher.
As for modern songs, I tend to ignore lyrics when they are bad to just enjoy the music. If they are good then it helps, if they are bad and the music is good, I still like listening to it.
Music taste can change by several factors:
- Mood: A good piece will stay a good piece, but on different times listening to different pieces can be more apealing.
- Not everything can be grasped in the first listening. I find that, especialy in more complex classical pieces, the more you listen to it, the more you get to like it(if it's good). Any piece by Brahms is a perfect example. All of his 4 symphonies have complex rythms in them that are hard to grasp in the first time. But after I learned each one it became one of my favorites.
An even bigger factor for me is when I learn or sing a piece. The first time I heard Mozart's Requiem, I didnt get much of an impression from it. (That was before I got heavily into classical music.) After singing it I now consider it my favorite piece. My highlights from it would be the very begining (the first bars are divine), the kyrie, and offertorium (the entrance of "quam olim abrahe" gives me positive chills).
For these reasons I try to stay "open minded" about pieces that I hear for the first time and are not bad but just not very exciting either.
I don't see how objectivism can change a taste in music, unless someone had a different sense of life, or just didnt have his own taste before. My musical taste keeps expanding with time, but I can't say it was changed because of any philosophical premises, I just understand it (a little) better now.
I like many types of music (there is good and bad in almost every style).
I grew up mostly on several Israeli artists. They are not known in other countries (they mostly sing in hebrew) but they have the most wonderful songs. Three top names are
- Yoni Rechter, Shlomo Gronich and Matti Caspi. Their styles are a good mix of light rock, classical and jazz. The names probably don't say much but I just had to start with them.
Nirvana and the doors used to be my favorite bands in high school, but I dont listen to them much anymore. I still Like The Beatles, and am allways ready to listen to them. Their Style changed alot during the years they were active, but the genious stayed.
One band that I didn't see mentioned here and has the most uplifting songs i know is Queen. "A day at the Races" and "A night at the opera" are my favorite albums of theirs. They have an amazing power in all their music (especialy the songs written by Mercury) - "Dont stop me now", "Fat bottomed Girls", "somebody to love"... Freddie Mercury had an amazing voice and he knew how to use it.
Lately one of my favorite music era is the late 70's. (When Disco matured to orchestras!) There are quite alot of songs that use full orchestras along with the great rythm sections and i love that sound.
A favorite song of mine is Barry Mannilows "Copa Cabana" in the original version (from 1978, which is a single gem among other less interesting songs of his.) The orchestra, the backup singers, the bass with it's occasional twists, the percussion, it's all just perfect. There are several remixes which, as is the way of 99% of all remixes, are just plain bad, so dont confuse the original with any newer version.
I enjoy raggae alot too, but I did not hear many good artists besides Bob Marley who is also partial. In generes that are specific to a location or a country, I tend to like the originals, in the rythm aspect anyway.
There are alot of good Jazz around! I especialy like -
- Anything by Antonio Carlos Jobim (Brazilian song writer, has simple yet great melodies and harmoies). There are 2 Verve collections I recommend - "the girl from ipanema" and "wave", which include many top performers.
- Anything that Ella Fitzgerald sings
- Chick Corea and Return to Forever - Light as a Feather.
- Oldies Big bands! I have a soft spot for clean brass sound. Count Basie's Orchestras were real virtuosos. (someone here noted the canadian brass, a must for any brass lover).
And of course I cant finish the list without classical. Since this part can go on for pages I'll just try to point some highlights -
7th symphony, the finale makes a good orchestra explode!
5th symphony, 3rd movement, the moment that the horn enters with the theme in the begining.
- Mozart, besides the requiem (which deserves the second mention ) I especialy like the 3rd movement of Symphony #40 (and everything else..).
- Glenn Gould Plays Bach. He is plays very different from any other pianist. Every single note of his is fresh.
- Schubert, the unfinished symphony, (#8), first movement. His lieder are amazing ("Die schonne mullerin","wintereise", and in this case, knowing the lyrics helps understand the music even where the words are not so interesting in themselves).
- Brahms, his symphonies (hard to choose between them), A German Requeim.
- Tchaikovsky, I dont recall anybody here mentioned The Nutcracker Suite/Ballet.
- Rachmaninoff - I'll skip the obvious usual. His Vocalise is amazing. It comes in many versions (im not sure which is the original), the best I heard are either voice and orchestra or cello and piano (I played that so im bribed).
- Astor Piazzolla (he is a modern musician, can fit under Jazz too) You'd think Tango played on an accordion would be annoying
My favorite movie composers are John Williams and Danny Elfman. Listening to themes from good nostalgic movies has a huge extra positive effect, but their music is (mentally undetachable but) wonderful in itself.
Which brings me to musicals - West Side Story! or The sound of music which is not bad as a movie in itself but the music makes it grand.
I can generaly listen and enjoy most music generes, there is good and bad in everything, but there are some things I try to avoid - Modern classical music, which is all around me as a music student. There are technicaly very good composers that I sometimes cant stand (their more known pieces anyway), like stravinsky and more questionably Shostakovitch and Bartok. My problem with Stravinsky is that his music is very powerful, but in a negative way. Unlike the crap that can be just ignored, some pieces are very effective in the way they make you feel bad! (schoenberg's Pierott lunare is supposed to make you moon sick, and the sick part definately works for me...)
Some of today's popular music is a second bad spot. Most Rap, Trance (or anything with the monotonous usualy overloud bass, especialy remixes of good songs!!), and songs where the singer shouts (extreme heavy metal) or just doesn't know how to sing (this is a bad description becuase it can include Louis armstrong, who cant really sing but is a pleasure to listen to.)
I'm tempted to go on and discuss more generally what makes music good, or art, but that is for another thread. This one is far too long allready!