Ideas from last year... 2016
After having spent much time obsessed with music, taking a step back has granted me the ability to see what is important.
I'll be as straight to the point
This is what I believe to be important in *ANY* popular song
Rhythm -- groove, bass, foundation... this is the literal fabric by which all of music is built from. Arhythmic is still rhythmic... (but remember, we're talking about popular music)
Melody + Rhythm (or the rhythm of the melody -- whatever you want to call it)
Ostinato -- this is where the 'hypnotic' vibe is created
Repetition... can never have enough
Blend of consonance and dissonance - - this is where beauty is created. this is the contrast. this is the color pop in the room (metaphorically speaking)
Voices -- we connect so strongly to voices. YES, there are instrumental 'chart hits'... but that represents a minority and is also a cultural artifact (if you were to argue for EDM). Majority of popular music has voices; they are the focus; they are stacked and harmonized.
Tone / Pitch -- this is non-negotiable. It has to be on. This akin to fashion, interior design, architecture, art.. there is a first-impression that you establish with your listener where tone and pitch are essential for the feeling of the track on a sub-conscious level.
First impression -- the audience knows what's going on in the first 5 seconds... use this to your advantage and give them another 5 seconds of magic... then another... and another... until you've said your story.
Audience -- knowing your audience is key if you're taking on "that" kind of approach. The main idea being that all audiences simply want a good beat and the ability to dance to your music (not always literally, but moreso on the rhythm being solid). Audience does not care about technical bullshit. they don't care what studio, mic, approach, etc. That's all technical bullshit. What you should give them is the most emotionally compelling piece of music that is well recorded, well performed, and has all the rhythm/pitch/tone in place. Keep in mind that your 'mix' engineer can't save you from a bad performance, bad pitch, tone, and rhythm (don't get me started....)