Lyrics are everything to me. Of course, if I don’t like the music or beat, I probably won’t like the song. But I’m more willing to compromise with music if I relate to the lyrics. The Smiths, for example, were initially too slow for me. But the lyrics hit home so I listened to a few of their songs, and started to find them catchy.
With some bands, I do listen more for music. Like Skindred is cool because it’s reggae plus nu metal, which is awesome, but the lyrics don’t hit home for me. But for me this is rare.
I'm a huge music lover, but I never pay any attention whatsoever to lyrics... zero, zip, zilch. You could change the words for a song I've heard a thousand times and I wouldn't notice. For me, music is all about the "texture" of the sound.
The music is the most important thing to me. If a song has great lyrics, but I hate the way it sounds, I'm not going to listen to it. (How I feel about all pop Christian music...)
The lyrics are still part of the music. The artist could write evocative lines of pure poetry in there, and I want to hear that! Lyrics give me a reason to listen to a song more deeply and thoughtfully. I think a lot about music while I listen and after the fact, so I like music that has a lot of ideas to toss around! Please stump me with your prog rock metaphors—what is a Child in Time anyway??
So yes, I play close attention to the lyrics!
And the more you pay attention, the easier it becomes to understand what words the person is saying in the moment. That skill has taken me years, and I'm still not very good at it!