If you’re the kind of person to get into lengthy and heated debates about music, then you’ll be used to someone interjecting with a comment along the lines of “Music is an art form, it’s all just opinion and personal taste”. It’s the kind of remark that requires some thinking time and possibly some more lengthy discussion. Saying that it’s all based on opinion does then pose us with the question as to whether there’s even such thing as good or bad music. Short answer? Yes… but It’s not quite so simple as that.
I think music quality and personal taste are two different factors that contribute to how good music actually is, but facts and opinion aren’t mutually exclusive. Jimi Hendrix was the best guitarist in the world; but he’s not my favourite guitarist by any means. The Beatles were the greatest band in the history of music; but I’m not really a fan. Just because something is good doesn’t mean you have to like it and just because you like something doesn’t mean it’s good. Opinion plays a big role but it shouldn’t take away from the facts. Aretha Franklin is better than The Wombles, but that doesn’t mean I have to stand stoically every year and resist the urge to dance to ‘A Wombling Merry Christmas’.
Not everything is as black and white as that though, it’s in the subtle shades of grey that opinion plays it’s part. Who’s better, Judas Priest or Motorhead? Who has a better voice, Adele or Florence Welch? There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s open for discussion! Sure, some people will have generally better music tastes than others but there’s no crib sheet, no perfect formula for music and just because someone has a different taste doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better or worse. Your music taste isn’t perfect if you listen to nothing but Bach and Beethoven and it isn’t hopelessly tragic just because you enjoy that one cheesy pop song. Most of music is about taste but opinion can’t alter things that are seemingly set in stone. It may be an art form, but they don’t hang just anyone’s paintings in the Louvre.