"Good" Jewish Music
Yossel Kvetch commenting on Trapped In The Lower Levels - Jewish Heavy Metal:
Another question should be asked: What constitutes "good" Jewish music as opposed to "bad" Jewish music?
The beauty or shvachkeit could be in the "Jewish" aspect, or in the purely musical aspect.Good Jewish music should be "good music" by any standard, just as l'havdil good Irish music or good Indian music or good American folk music should all have the creative ingredients that move people deeply.
Another possibility: you could have well-performed expressive creative music with well-sung Jewish lyrics, but if the music does not have any shaychus to any Jewish musical tradition, Chassidic / Klezmer / Andalusian/ Baghdadi / Yemenite, etc. -- it is still open to criticism.
Kol she'kein, if the instrumental and compositional aspects are mediocre imitations of American pop tunes, have no shaychus to authentic Jewish musical mesorahs, AND the Hebrew lyrics are really just cliches that have nothing to do with the feelings expressed by the song... l'moshul "Ben Bag-Bag Ben Bag-Bag Omeeeeeer..." or the fifteen year old driven-into-the ground hack rock fiasco "Mashiach Mashiach Mashiach" featuring its syncopated Las Vegas arrangement still performed nightly by out of work club date musicians at frum weddings.
The very fact that such low music ever became popular in our communities is a bizayon, even if the entrepreneurs with the diamond pinky rings are mostly to blame.
But the "real" Jewish music defies death and despair.
Just enter any Chassidishe shtibel on Shabbos, when instruments are forbidden, and hear the olam sing!
PS: After that article in the Jewish Observer a decade ago, things only got worse. The real problem is that frum culture became so superficial and materialistic, and this is why our music today sounds the way it does.
It is a portrait of our matzav ruch'ni b'ikvasa d'meshicha -- just as the music created in the heyday of Chassidus was a portrait of the Jewish spirit of those generations.
Our music reflects our values, and even more our state of mind.