Everyone likes what they like. They don't know why they like it. They assemble reasons to explain their affection after the fact. It's a weird form of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Because things happened in sequence, the first caused the second. With pop music, it's a sequence of one thing. I like it. Fire up the confirmation bias furnace. Unroll your cart-building plans after the horse steps on your foot. He couldn't do that if he had a cart in front of him.
I mentioned pop music, but music is no different than any other topic in this regard. Everyone works backwards. It goes something like this:
- I like it
- If I like it, it's good. No way I could like something bad
- If I like it, there must be a good reason
- I am wise, so the entity that produced the thing I like must be important
- Liking important things makes me more important
- If you do not like what I like, it's because you're a philistine
- You're right, it is dreck. I can't like dreck, so I can't like it any more. I hate you for ruining my fun
- It's not dreck. [Insert name of person with no talent here] is a genius, and [insert name of magazine here] says so.
So, to make things easier, I've invented the Sippican Cottage Musical Acid Test:
If you're from Liverpool, and your composition is played Santuario-di-Madonna-di-San-Luca-skiffle style by five Bolognese men a half a century after you wrote it, you're on to something with your approach to songwriting. That's as far as I'll go.