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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.
For me there's an emotional component to my labeling a track that I like as outstanding.  There's something I feel whenever it comes on that is somewhat of a deeper, reactive emotion that doesn't require any sort of intellectual analysis to achieve that.

Sometimes a track will be one that I consider outstanding immediately and other times a track will grow into that category after multiple times listening to it.

There are certain qualities in a track that will make it more likely to make my outstanding list.

1. Female vocals or dual female/male vocals
2. Strings, cello, violin or viola
3. Clever or interesting lyrics
4. Really interesting interplay between the vocals and the instruments

Sometimes it's the story the track tells that kicks it up into the outstanding category for me.  Other times the the intonation, phrasing or a certain something in the vocals will kick a song up into the outstanding category.

Although I can appreciate the artistry and talent in some tracks that others consider to be outstanding, if they don't resonate with me I won't consider them outstanding as well.

I've got a list of 292 songs that I consider outstanding from both well known and popular artists (The Beatles, Fiona Apple, Elton John, etc...) to obscure and lesser known artists (Vomit Launch, Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer, Please Do Not Fight, etc...)
For me, its the message and how its written and vocally and musically delivered.

God bless you always!!!

Listen to my most favorite singer here sometime, James Otto that is!
What in your opinion makes a piece of music an outstanding track ?
Being longer than one track usually helps.
The Human Race is Insane.
many things:

could be lyrics that I can personally relate to from my own experiences

can be lyrics that are intelligent, or at least have something to say (Dylan, Neil Young, Billy Bragg)

can be music that takes me on a journey (Knopfler is a master of it IMO)

could just be something monotonous and catchy (Kylie's "cant get you out of my head" as an example)

could just bring out emotions/feelings (George Jones' "he stopped loving her today" for example)

could just be something totally original/unique (Bowie)

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