An interesting question, and one I’m sure many have an immediate answer for.
Are lyrics more important in certain genres rather than others? Do they improve the song? Or are they always necessary?
It’s difficult to know where to begin but I’d argue lyrics have a high degree of importance in music.
Initially, melody is what we’re drawn to. The beat, the pace, the pitch, and the tempo are easier and quicker for our brains to process than the formed sentences which make up the lyrics. So, in many ways, lyrics literally are second best.
However, despite the words being processed second, we take more time to understand their meaning.
For those who appreciate the formation of music, I’d say it’s important to consider the various elements which make up a genre. For example, EDM and House is less dependent on good lyricism than genres like rap and instrumental based bands such as Loyle Carner or Frank Turner.
This then ties in with the different genre listeners. Everyone has different music tastes and styles. Some may enjoy the focus on the instrumental or electronic elements of composition rather than the literary, more poetic aspect.
As the listener we often prefer songs which we can relate to. Maybe you have had a similar experience to the artist or know someone who has. The lyrics suddenly hold far more meaning and importance, hence why we feel nostalgic when we hear certain songs as we are reminded of a memory.
Lyrics in music are important for both the artist and the listener as they project emotion and experience through the medium of a melody and a sense of poetry. The words create the narrative and an additional level of interest which can’t be found in only instrumental music.