Something that creates a soundscape; layers of sounds that create layers of moods (dark and heavy, light and dreamy, etc). There is unity in the elements of the music overall. Rhythmic (often syncopated) drum beat. Either brilliant lyrics, or without them. There is variation and contrast, yet still repetition. A unique, whimsical melody.
It really depends. Sometimes I will hear something that takes me by surprise and I immediately like it. I usually know within the first bar whether I will like a song.
Often I look for irony or quirkiness. It depends a lot on my mood, though.
In blues songs, I usually want them to sound really authentic and dirty and hard, like "fresh off the train tracks," "whiskey bottle" blues. Something about that in particular just speaks to my soul, lights it, feeds it, you know? Yeah. Mmm.
Or, I like "bridge" sounds - sounds that bridge the gap between one genre and another.
Janis Joplin - blues and rock.
Bonnie Raitt - blues and country.
Tracy Chapman - blues and folk.
Atom & His Package - synth pop and punk (seriously, yes).
I love it when more than one kind of sound entwines with another and forms a perfect kind of harmony, like strands of rope. For instance, I really liked Evanescence's Fallen CD for a while, because every track had the vocals, piano, and guitar mixed just so artfully together. It swelled up and overtook me, as music sometimes does.
My favorite genre depends on my mood at the moment.. So I don't have just one. :happy:
What I look for in music is a song that stops me dead in my tracks.. A song that makes me desperate to hear it "just one more time" over and over again... Music that becomes the air I need to breathe.. as the melody washes over me.. and feeds my hungry soul... Something I can feel intermingling throughout my being.. as though I was falling in love.. and I think to myself.. 'oh god.. this is incredible'...
First off, let me start by saying I love this topic. I love music that gives me chills, music that energizes me (the best way to describe this is a song that makes me imagine myself zooming down the highway, or biking or running very fast, or even flying. That sort of feeling), and music that makes me feel like I'm floating on a cloud (that also goes with the chills/shivers). On rarer occasions, there's certain music I love to play when I'm angry (that also energizes me, of course, but in an angrier way).
Okay, now that I've got the emotions out of the way, let me get to specifics. First of all, generally speaking, the genre of music I most often listen is classified as Adult Top 40 - Adult Top 40 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia I also sometimes listen to electronica/trance/ambient, among a few other genres I listen to now and then.
Also, I generally don't pay as much attention to lyrics as I do to the actual sound of the song. In fact, I never really paid much attention at all to lyrics until I was about 13. Then I slowly started to. And even now, it's not the main reason I like most songs, though there are a few out there that have comforting or inspiring lyrics that I love (such as my favourite current artist, Lights). Generally the lyrics have to sort of "jump out at me" so to speak for me to take note of them. Lines I can relate to or that seem insightful and whatnot.
Now, I've been trying to figure out lately what deciding factors there are in songs that I absolutely love - 5 star songs that make me incredibly happy. And I think... it seems to me... one of the biggest commonalities I've noticed among them is that most of my favourite songs seem to have quite good bass. Harmonies are also another thing I've noticed that spur emotion in me. Of course, that depends on the harmonies, but as a rule, many a time I love that. It brings a song up from being good to great. Bass does that too though. Some mysterious-sounding electronic sounds are cool too, used in moderation. Oh, and usually I'm not so cool with slow, sad songs. I don't want a song to make me depressed. Oh, and lastly, I love songs that have great memories attached to them. Gee, how could I forget that? That's always good.
My favourite song of all time is probably "Out of My Heart (Into Your Head)" by BBMak (sounds cheesy, I know, but not only do I have fantastic memories attached to it, but it has pretty much has everything I could want in a song): http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/1448898
I look for a nice hook. Something that captures me. I can't say exactly what it is, because it's many different things and it varies from song to song. I like many genres but I dislike music that's too hard and music that's too soft. I really like electro and ambient music and that's the kind of music I'm making myself at the time.
But if a song has a good theme and a good hook, it almost doesn't even matter which chords are played. It can even be the same chord throughout the song...
I look for good, meaningful lyrics. If a song has good lyrics I'm probably gonna like it. But after that, I look for, in no order, good instrument work, impressive overall songwriting and structure, good melody, good/impressive vocals, you know, all that. But I love good lyricists, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Lennon/McCartney (And Harrison as well, actually.), Jackson Browne...I love singer-songwriters. Still, failing good/any lyrics I still love music; love classical stuff and instrumentals.
I love a soundscape. I also love great lyrics, but I don't always notice them so I can end up liking bands despite the lyrics if the music is good enough (e.g. Breaking Benjamin, the lyrics are awful but I liked the atmosphere it set up and the way he sung it, until the latest album...) I tend to dislike a lot of ridiculously heavy music because it feels a bit too blatent what it's trying to get across. For this reason, bands with screaming or shouting don't often go down too well, but there are exceptions, I really like the Killing Joke 2003 album and I enjoy some Rollins band from time to time.
Generally ambient is awesome =) I really enjoy a lot of instrumental stuff, post-rock and post-metal stuff can be pretty interesting for that reason.