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Why are lyrics vapid in isolation?

Some musings/analysis on a question that's bothered me for a while. Stemmed from me telling friends about good lyrics and wondering why it felt a lot more profound in my head. TL;DR for you lazy heads at the bottom. List are albums with great lyrics that emphasise my points.
1There Will Be Fireworks
The Dark, Dark Bright

Have you ever tried to explain to someone why a particular lyric is especially profound, beautiful, meaningful and has brought you to the point of tears? You’re animated, passionate and convinced that the receiver will understand exactly the cocktail of emotions a few sung words made you feel. Only… they don’t. They look unimpressed, despite you repeating the lyrics word for word. And even when you say it out loud, it doesn’t quite ring the same; the emotional power just… isn’t there. As if it’s evaporated into thin air and occasionally you think actually, those lyrics don’t quite sound so good now that I’ve spoken it out loud.
2Enter Shikari
The Spark

Well I have and I’ve bored countless friends over the years but all this has left an important question circulating in my thoughts and comes to mind: Why do lyrics have so much more impact when sung and with the backing of music? Well here’s a non-academic analysis by some dude on the internet.
3Kishi Bashi

I think it’s safe to say that vocal communication in a void has minimal meaning, as highlighted from the above anecdote. Naturally, some information is being processed by default but on its own it may feel hollow and lifeless. This perhaps makes sense if we use the idea that only 7% of communication is verbal. By that logic, a lyric out of context without the singing or background music (or lack of) is only 7% as powerful as the memory you have in your head. This would at least explain the look of ‘… it’s not that deep, mate’ that seems a common response in my experience.
4Katie Pruitt

Sound is one of our strongest innate forms of communication, hardwired to interpret certain timbres and inflections to convey various meaning. We can certainly FEEL the weight and emotion behind vocal dynamics and similarly, the intended emotions conveyed through any instrument. The interpretation will differ between tastes and cultures but for the most part, I’d say music has a unique way of translating a feeling through empathy from artist to listener. To take away the musical element is to rob the human emotion from the message.

But hang on, instrumental music can be equally and often more effective without vocals and yes this is something I completely agree with. However, I would argue whilst the experience is equally as rewarding, it’s not entirely equal. Instrumental music can portray beautiful emotions but will be more dependent on interpretation of the listener to contextualise the mood and atmosphere. Some emotions certainly lend themselves to interpretation better, especially those that are raw and intense. I can’t see the black metal community, for instance, disagreeing with this point.

And here’s where lyrics brings its own value: it contextualises the music and vocal delivery into a less ambiguous story or concept. This still allows room for our own interpretation but in a much more focused way, with the preferred openness of interpretation dependent on listener preferences. The plot is written but you get to choose the mise-en-scene, the characters and all the minute things that your imagination allows. That smooth crooning voice I’ve been listening to is yearning… but for what? Well for that girl in the black dress and now I see my own version in my head too. Probably why when the lyrics and the music don’t match up, it can feel, for lack of a better word, cringe (too many trap artists, unfortunately).
7Touche Amore
Stage Four

Music is an inherently empathetic communication tool and conveys all the necessary feeling on its own. Lyrics provide context to the vocal delivery and backing music eliminating some of the ambiguous interpretation of what the music and vocals may infer. It assigns emotion to every word sung and crafts a story, one we can empathise with and relish in an understanding experience through our own imagination.
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