Thieving Thursday: I Love to Sing-a

>> Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now, here's something I haven't done in a while, a thieving Thursday where I expand on a comment I made on another blog. This week's lucky winner? JD on I Do Things with her blog on loving Karen Carpenter. She bemoaned the fact that many of today's singers can't sing.

She ain't lying. Between the obvious digital manipulation or the breathy this and that, many of the most popular singers wouldn't last ten seconds on a stage without a microphone. Much of today's music has the vocals more like background noise to the beat and melody of the instruments. You don't have to have a good voice, under those circumstances. You just have to be able to carry a tune, or at least not butcher it. Even harmonizing, once a mainstay of popular music, is frequently butchered.

Oh, there are still some good singers out there, but you have to look for them. And listening to the radio, at least for me, is an exercise in frustration, which is why I have my tunes with me where ever I go, carefully chosen from my husband's 8 GB stash of music.

See, I always respected people who could actually sing, could emote with a voice, manipulate sound, really use their voices like an artist uses oils. When I had my stint as a Nelson Eddy fanatic (and took a few lessons from an ex-opera professor), I learned a few things about singing, really singing.

The down side is that some voice I used to like bother me now. And I'm a snob. I like good singing, damn it. People who are emulating the great singers but don't have the voice or skills for it, make me sad. I can spot it, like Madonna knocking down some of the passages so she could sing Evita.

But, when I find a voice that really can sing, can harmonize, can really make the most of their voices, I often enjoy myself hugely, even if they don't necessarily sing the stuff I like. After a while, I find I DO like their music (example: Evanescence).

Good singers still exist, of course. You can find some on Broadway (though not all on Broadway can sing). You can find them singing in Disney movies. And sometimes, when you least expect it, you might even stumble on one on the radio because they're out there, readily recognized by a discerning ear. You'll find, in fact, that you can pick out their particular voices, even in a crowd or an unfamiliar group; they'll have that something special that makes their voices unique.


  • The Mother

    There are some good singers. There are some singers who can write songs.

    And then there are the cheap acts who bonk and grind and don't actually have any musical talent at all.

    I'm a sucker for a big voice.

  • Relax Max

    And thank you for using a picture at the top of this post of someone who can REALLY sing! Zowie!

  • Stephanie Barr

    Told you I could identify them. Just watching how she sings "My Man" in Funny Girl is enough to really understand how someone can USE a voice.

  • Jeff King

    It's all an opinion, we probably only agree on half the time on who is good or bad. Like for example—Barbra Streisand… even though I think she got the most out of her voice, and I do like her, but I don’t think she really has a great voice—merely a good one.

    Now Karen Carpenter, she can sing… I love anything she has done.

  • Project Savior

    Just one thing, you said today's "singers" need to have the ability to carry a tune. There is a program called autotune that makes that unnecessary. With todays audio processing programs (and enough technicians)someone can pretty much speak the lyrics and the computers can do the rest.

  • Anonymous

    I don't have a trained ear for music so I wouldn't necessarily know who is "technically" superb but I do enjoy singers who can sound good with minimal accompaniment.  Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole come to mind.

    Mike H.

  • Shakespeare

    I am totally with the Nat King Cole. Unforgettable.

    And I like Streisand, too... though she has a distinct voice that some do not find so appealing. I am that way with... dare I say it?... Judy Garland. I simply hate her voice...

    I love a good voice, but I tend to be really picky about the SONG. A great singer singing a lame song? Blecch.

    Andrea Boccelli--yum. Josh Groban--double yum.

  • Poetic Shutterbug

    A good example is Taylor Swift. Can't sing, play guitar or act. Yet, she's got more awards than I do cash. It's scary.

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with Bocelli and Groban, along with Charlotte Church and my favorite Canadian soprano, Loreena McKennitt (I have 3 of her CDs).  Although Groban gets some airtime, these are more 'PBS special' singers.

    I find it very difficult to pick out radio pop/rock singers with similarly amazing voices.  Perhaps David Blatt (aka Jay Black of Jay & the Americans) singing 'This Magic Moment' and 'Cara Mia,' or mezzo-soprano Pat Benatar singing, well, just about anything (she turned down Juilliard to get into rock).  Hmmm.. who else?

    Mike H.

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