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What in your opinion makes a piece of music an outstanding track ?
A complex question with such a diverse variety of responses... great question gryphon! My 2 cents on it is that music is very subjective and is always going to provide different emotions depending on the mood and timing that it's heard. As for what makes a great song or an outstanding track... I'd have to say that a meaningful reason for putting the song down has to be number one. I mean the state of music today is at times great and yet sometimes comes in the cookie cutter variety. Can't stand the latter...

For a track to be outstanding it's got to carry weight in it's meaning and the rhythms need to move you. For me it's a very emotional vibe. If it takes me somewhere emotionally I don't think I care whether it's rock or folk or reggae or whatever... it's really all about vibe. Doesn't matter if it's a huge guitar riff or a slammin' drum beat it's really got to hit me on an emotional level to matter.

I know that's not a very technical answer but hey... music is an emotional vehicle and I seem to be moved more by how my emotions feel when listening to a track as opposed to the technical skills or composition of a song. Anyway that's my take on greatness in music whether it's Billie Holiday crooning or Jimi rockin' out the strings. To me it's all about the vibe man...
An outstanding track... I like this thread!

There are so many things can make a song outstanding. As some of you have said, it's a personal matter and depends on the listener.
Thinking back of the times I first heard the songs that have become my favourites, some things that made them so intriguing are, for example,
- an appealing intro
- An unexpected, sudden change of melody, rhythm or style in the middle of the song
- beautiful or extraordinary vocals
- lyrics that meet the soul or challenge me to think over my views, or just make me feel good
- a collection of noises, rhythms or spoken words in the background that have made me listen to the song again to make sure I have really listened to it all
- a good cheer; simply an atmosphere that makes the song enjoyable

Even a simplest song can be really amazing.
Of course many songs grow to be outstanding, I mean that they develop with every listening, which is also a quality that can make them so great: A good track never gets old.
Melody, the rest is just clutter.
I was going to say a memorable melody, but Penny beat me to it.
i have to agree with what some others said.. the Hook (even tho it's really a bad way to think of things) is what usually will make you listen just that little bit harder. wow tho, it's a hard thing to look at for that 1 thing that makes a song outstanding.

i love vocals but i love Andy McKee, Stefano Barone, Red Sparrowes, and Mogwai among many others.. and i'd say just the hook/clever use of scales/harmonies in the instruments but i love Janis Joplin, Mama Cass, Joni Mitchell, etc..

so yea if it all comes down to it it's just a hook.. that one clever series of notes be it instrumental or vocal that keeps you interested and wanting more. (my answer sucks, lol.. but it's really all i could think of)
A good melody, an inspired performance & meaningful lyrics.
And the ability to put all three together in a cohesive package.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.

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