Let’s say you’ve got the traditional four instruments (lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and either a piano or a rhythm guitar), a decent enough lead singer, and a nice sentiment to sing about. Add some sweet production values and voilà. You might find yourself with a catchy song.
How can we tell the good songs from the great songs, though?
Strip everything away and make a minimalist version of it.
Watch this. See how this song…
Turns into *THIS* song…
Now, of course, it’s unfair to compare any work that isn’t played by Pete Townshend to a work that is, but in stripping the song down, he’s effectively stripping the gaudy paint off of a classical statue and a good song is revealed to have a great song hiding underneath it.
As I forgot to start a fight yesterday, I’ll start one today by saying that this is the best minimalist cover and, indeed, making minimalist versions of a song is the best way to unearth whatever is lying underneath a good (if overproduced) song.
Of course, if you don’t want to fight, you can always just talk about what you happen to be listening to.