Episode Information

CMS: The Art of Great Songs
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In this episode:

What makes a great song great? Is it the melody? A memorable chorus? The instruments?


Episode Audio

49:33 minutes (23.79 MB)
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The idea for this show came from several different moments.

One of them was the culmination of the one and only season of American Idol I watched all the way through.

On the final episode, Fantasia Barrino was the winner with, oddly enough, Jennifer Hudson finishing pretty far back in the pack. Barrino stepped up to sing what is called, in the AI world, her coronation song. It was called "I Believe." It immediately went number one, and let me assure you that you've heard it before even if you've never heard of it. There was nothing terribly wrong with it. It was just an averaging of about eight musical cliches.

My reactions to Fantasia came flooding back to me this year when I watched the Grammys. There were so many talented performers -- Beyonce and Pink, for starters -- and so little memorable songwriting. But what exactly, does that mean. What's a "Good song?"

You can join the conversation. What makes a great song? Why is your favorite song your favorite song? Leave your comments below, e-mail [email protected] or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

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Listener E-mail from Mike

I greatly enjoyed today's show about what makes a good song. i had been thinking the same thought myself that there just doesn't seem to be many good songs anymore and most performers seem more interested in vocal histrionics than in just singing. It also seems to me that producers are getting in the way good music. I did want to mention one of my favorite songwriters, Laura Nyro. She was a tremendous talent but most of her success came from other artists covering her song particularly in the beginning of her career. I doubt that many people today are much aware of her but amongst musicians she is highly regarded. on the Elvis Costello show with his guest Elton John, they both admitted to holding her in high esteem. keep up the good work.

Listener E-mail from Karl

Great subject. I've been listening only since 1:30, but I hope you didn't leave out "Skylark".

Listener E-mail from John


i'm a professional musician, i play many styles of music. billy strayhorn is about as good a songwriter as ever lived, and lush life is pretty much IT. endless harmonic interest, gorgeous melody.

what do your panelists think? is this my favorite because i'm a musician, and really love the changes...or does it translate to everyone?