It's funny that the things I think are really clever in my music - an interesting chord or whatever - are never the things that people notice.
Some do, or at least us musicians do. I have always appreciated great musician ship in an artist and I guess this is large put of why I like a lot of funk/soul/jazz crossover music. Even in EDM, deep house funky house and and soul house have tended to be my thing just because the chord progressions tend to be more interesting.
I think those of who have been involve in some way all or parts of the entire chain (musician/DJ/recording mixing and mastering engineer for me) have a different level appreciation (and perhaps sometimes a lack of tolerance for poorer work) because we get highly attuned to certain things.
I guess its a similar thing for critical listeners vs casual listeners - they get attuned to certain things too.