Monday, November 28, 2011

When Your Voice is Going and Gone...
What Choices as an Artist Would You Make?

Your multiple choice test:

A) To hire a whole bunch of dancers/strippers and bring so to speak a live video on stage to distract the audience from your singing completely.

B) To bring a huge choir, which has been chosen by your team via vigorous auditions, and which sings extremely well to camouflage your vocal inadequacy.

C) To hire a vocal technician who would not only save your voice, but assure the safety, health and longevity of your voice for life.

Please take your pick.

If you answered C, you evidently do have an above average IQ. Congratulations!

If you, however, managed to pass a fake performance for the real one, congratulations also! You fooled the public and they unfortunately took it for the real thing!

However, the times are changing and the public is becoming smarter. Not that the level of their IQ is necessarily rising, it's just they're getting fed up with lip synching, bad singing (for which they pay top dollar) and the circus or strip show, which they actually can acquire if they're looking for something to satisfy their eyes.  But if they're looking for something to satisfy their ears, they are in the wrong place.

They're simply dellusioned and "focused pocused". Houdini himself would be "extremely proud" of the so called "top" performers and singers, who are performing "magical tricks" on stage instead of singing and not any worse than himself.

How sad is that?

I remember that in 1998 and in 1999, I attended Celine Dion's solo concert. She came out on stage alone, without any dancers or Cirque du Soleil performers backing her up, like she does nowadays, and did not perform any magic tricks at the time. She simply stood there and sung "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic, "Tell Him" with Barbra Streisand's video appearance and "To Love You More" with the live virtuoso violinist standing right beside herself. And all of that was MORE than good enough. I can not forget both of those concerts, as it was a true authentic and emotional performance by the REAL DIVA - Celine Dion.

Today, listening to Rhianna, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and them alike, I half the time can not concentrate on what they're actually singing, as they are dancing, performing circus tricks and using stage props, which are superseding their voice performance. I honestly would not know if they were good or bad, as everything that is going on on stage is extremely distractive.

However, it makes you wonder how good their singing is in a real sense if they need to bring the whole "army" and their so to speak "weapons" on stage with them?

By the law of averages on that premise, you could assume that they definitely have something to hide...

However, if they or their management and/or record company chose the option C, i.e. would put some effort into research, finding a true Vocal Technician who would perfect their vocal technique to a T, so that they would not be dying 10,000 deaths on stage, like Adele, in fear that they might not even be able to complete their vocal performance with their real voice, as they simply have no direction or even an idea of how to power their voice in such a way that it would never be in jeopardy and would work in the fullest capacity possible. On that premise, they would also be able to empower their voice to perform upon their command and their design.

What price would those singers pay if they knew that it is possible?

As far as I'm concerned, I don't think you can put a price tag on something like that, when you do rely on your voice at all given times and when your voice is your livelihood.

Not striving to find that Vocal Technician, now their teams are paying the price. They're losing millions upon millions of Dollars, Pounds, Euros... as their artist can not perform live anymore and not even the Cirque du Soleil or the "army" of strippers could save them.

However, some of them are still not picking up a clue. They commanded their artists, like Adele with her bleeding vocal cords, and Keith Urban with the polyp on his vocal cord, to embark on the laser operation. Wonderful! Now what...?

Now, there could be complications like the scar tissue (Julie Andrews' case), or in the best scenario the operation will be a complete success. However, nothing really, per say, has changed. The vocal cords though are clear for now and will be for a short while.

But what brought those artists to those diagnoses in the first place?

The answer is:

The wrong application of their voices, lack of knowledge and, in a pure and simple sense, absolute ignorance on their part and their team's part.

I don't think any figure skating coach would ask their trainee to jump a triple axel without him or her knowing how to skate. I also don't think that the dancer without at least 10 years of vigorous training would be expected to do a Fouetté.

And yet, the singer, primarily without any training or instilled technique for that matter, is expected to do vocal escapades and, so to speak, "vocabatics" and also expected not to hurt him or herself in the process. Go figure... and... Good luck.

So, as a conclusion, there should be no surprise that every second so called singer is in danger of the nasty laser or knife operation with the threat of never being able to sing again or with the threat of the same conditions recurring again shortly after the nasty intervention into their vocal anatomy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

X Factor - Spot on Reality IV... Thanks to... Thanksgiving Holiday!

BIG APPLAUSE yet again to Simon Cowell!

What a BRILLIANT idea the well known MUSIC MOGUL came up with!

He tied in the whole show with the American Thanksgiving holiday!

If that wasn't timely then what is?

Mainly, it clearly helped to open up every single participant's emotions and now we've seen them in a different "limelight"!

On a regular basis, naturally, they're pretty scared, very anxious and very stressed trying not to fall out of the frame of the show and thus, not to win the $5 million dollar recording contract.

For the first time in any shows of that kind (American Idol, Canadian Idol previously, The Voice and what have you), the winning conciliation prize was always an issue. All of the participants were claiming how poor they were, how much they wanted to help their families, and how much they wanted to realize their financial dream.

Honestly, and I wrote about it before, it always left a "bad taste" in my mouth. As I said previously, I'm not against them winning big recording contracts, thus become rich and famous, but it should not be the prime focus. The prime focus should be the love for music and arts, the love for stage and the performance. And yes, of course, whichever price for the above effort will be granted, it will follow and materialize (no pun intended).

For the first time watching the Thanksgiving episode, I had a real joy, as all of the finalists were truly performing and singing their hearts and souls out. Some of them brought me really to tears! The side of some of them, like Marcus Canty, Chris Rene and even LeRoy Bell, never has been seen before.  LeRoy Bell was singing for his mother, who evidently had a special spot in his heart, like every mother should, i.e. be appreciated and loved by her child independently of both of their ages. Unfortunately, LeRoy Bell was the one who got eliminated this time.  In fact, to his credit, he left the stage as a REAL MAN, strong and with gratitude and not overly emotional. He enjoyed the ride, so to speak, and was thankful that he had an opportunity to do so.

In fact, Marcus Canty also sung for his mom and I found that this particular performance was the most emotional and touching of all. We witnessed the true and beautiful love and closeness between mother and son. I was extremely surprised when I saw Marcus next to LeRoy Bell, threatened to be eliminated. Thank God this time he was saved. He definitely brought a very vulnerable side of him and gave all in this performance. And on that ground, now his talent was truly shining.

I have to say, I really liked the group mentored by Paula, Lakoda Rayne this time. The girls looked fantastic, they sung very well, they performed superbly and they were quite "spot on" in tune and in harmonies.

To my biggest surprise, they got eliminated...!? As a music professional, the only conclusion I could come to, is that the groups are not popular any longer, not like 10-15 years ago.

It is sad though, but today's generation obviously is not appreciating the group effort, like the generation before, when a lot of groups were "popping up" one after the other.

Drew, finally, also picked up the speed, singing for her best friend.

It was nice to hear Chris Rene more singing than rapping this time and it was nice to witness his gratitude to his mentor in the rehab, who evidently helped him to "arrive" on X Factor's stage.

Josh Krajcik really opened up as a musician and singer. It was a very "feely touchy" performance dedicated to his teenaged daughter. He too now was seen in a different light, which truly made him shine.

Melanie Amaro - For the love of God!

How wonderful and emotional this performance was! Her tears, her gratitude, her love for God and her belief in God and in her grandparents who raised her, and her parents who finally embraced her! And even the mixture of the accents due to some confusion of her lifetime!

That was a True Spot On Reality!!!... If I've ever seen one!!!

And now the kids:

A cute adoption story on Rachel Crow. However, her vocal performance unfortunately getting more strained by each episode. My fear is that if she continues like that, she might experience some serious vocal problems.  She's clearly taken by $5 million dollar price and truly sings for "her own bathroom". I'm afraid, however, that the stress is taking the better of her. But I am hoping for the best. After all, she's cute as a button!

And lastly, Astro... He's clearly an Usher, Drake or 50 Cent for that matter wannabe. Nothing wrong with that, but I still think that he is not in the right competition. However, for variety, it is fun to watch.

To conclude my outlook on the Thanksgiving performances, I am immensely Thankful to Simon Cowell in particular and to the rest of the quite unique judges panel, for the fun and education they are procuring during the BEST EVER Spot On Reality Show - X Factor.

X Factor - Spot on Reality III - Participants Up Close and Personal

One more time again, I'm anxiously awaiting for the next episode of X Factor, but I would like to comment on the one I've just recently seen and heard.
Now from the colourful stages, lighting, dancers, "spacesuits" and what not, we arrived to the actual singing (big credit to Simon Cowell), but unfortunately, not necessarily in the best understanding of that word.
Whatever happened to the singers from the moment they were auditioning to the last episode which I witnessed a week ago?
All of them, when they were auditioning, were sounding quite decent and quite promising. My guess would be that they were receiving some vocal coaching in the interim between the shows. I'm sure some of them had vocal coaches before and as every one of them (me, naturally, would be included) is preaching their own techniques, styles and methods, the participants quite likely could have gotten confused, especially under the pressure, stress and last minute advice.
The question is, do they even need to have vocal coaches on the show? 
In my opinion, NOT AT ALL! As in my opinion, the X Factor structure of the show suggests that they're looking for a "diamond in the rough" so to speak. And if they are, why change it if it "ain't broken" and moreover until the show actually discovers a RAW talent? 
After the fact, once discovered, I will very much so suggest that the appointed team would seek a vocal technician combined with a vocal stylist for the artist, first of all, to ensure the safety, health and longevity of that newly found artist's voice.
Unfortunately, it is not always the case, as the majority of well known talents like Adele, Duran Duran, Keith Urban, Shania Twain, to name a few, would not then need to cancel their tours due to their bleeding vocal cords, polyps, nodules, dysphonia and what not.  
Back to the X Factor finalists now: 
Stacy Francis definitely could sing quite well at the audition and not so badly at all. Throughout the episodes leading to this one, her singing became quite noticeably worse, and finally she started singing off key, off tone and off tune, with excessive vibrato and with very overly exaggerated emotions - almost screaming! I personally felt very sorry for her, but kind of could predict that she would be one of the first to be eliminated.
Drew, a 14-year-old contestant who also looked very promising from the beginning, is lately being very subdued and practically yodelling instead of singing, which is becoming quite boring and uncalled for. She definitely possesses some natural talent and cute looks. Let's hope she will still go places.  
Rachel Crow, the youngest and the most talented contestant in my opinion, who I thought definitely would be the winner (and she just might be) has started to strain her voice quite noticeably lately.  It must not be easy for her to compete mostly amongst adults and therefore, sometimes her dress attire and her poses suggest a "little diva", which might not necessarily be so bad, however, it makes her performances look much beyond her years.
I honestly do not find anything extra special about Josh Krajcik, outside of him being a nice guy and a  maybe a little above regular, rock singer/musician.
I'm trying to remember what and how LeRoy Bell was singing. Obviously it wasn't too memorable, however, if it was a just a regular singing contest, he would definitely stand out. Needless to say, now he is eliminated, and I hope he will find a mentor and maybe even a management who will take him under their wing. 
Chris Rene is now in a new rapping mode, since he is obviously not the greatest singer I ever heard. However, the judges and the audience like him, which is good, as he needs as many positive affirmations as he can get given his recent past. 
Marcus Canty is definitely possessing some talent, but, yet again, I can not recall what he was singing. I just remember that it was somewhat decent.
Melanie Amaro (appears to be Simon's favourite), is lately sounding quite boring though, and also, excessively vibrato-ish. However, there are no doubts that this girl possesses a talent.
And lastly, Astro. It puzzles me in the first place why the rap genre was included in this competition. Him and Chris Rene are talking through music, waving their arms, touching different parts of their bodies (as rappers usually do) and not much else. Personally, the whole genre of rap does not sit right with me, as in my opinion it has nothing much to do with singing. So, if for nothing else, maybe somebody will take my advice and create a rappers competition? At least they will be in their own element and not out of place. I probably would not even mind to watch it.
I'd like to note that all of the above is my subjective opinion, which means that I'm not trying to prove anybody wrong or prove myself right. I'm just exercising the freedom of word and opinion from where I sit.
I'm also amused that first the judges and then the media made such a big deal of a barely 15 year-old child (Astro) being a little upset that he ended up in the bottom two and felt somewhat frustrated, which definitely reflected in his "singing for his life" last performance. He is still a child and not a professional artist (rapper). So please cut him some slack.
I was very happy for Paula, that she had at least saved one group in the previous episode and thus, had her triumph at the time.
In fact, the group is getting better and better every episode. I'm really curious to see how it will evolve.
I guess we shall see what comes next.
One more time again, I'd like to note that I thoroughly enjoy the show with all of its perfections and imperfections, turbulence and tribulations, and I am wishing good luck to the participants, judges and audience to find the True Star who does possess that desirable X Factor.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Artist's Team - How Open Are They to a New Reality?

Lately, a lot of performing and recording artists are experiencing difficulties (to put it mildly) with their voices. It is very sad, but it is the fact.

We're hearing a lot about bleeding vocal cords, laryngitis, polyps, nodes and nodules in Artists' throats. Some also have dysphonia and some, acid reflux, separately or along with the aforementioned diagnoses.

Now what...?

The artist is in distress, the management and record company are in loss of millions of dollars!

How to remedy the situation like that?

It should be not that difficult; find somebody who knows how to solve these types of problems, preferably non-surgically and non-invasively, i.e. somebody who knows how to change the voice application so that the vocal anatomy would not be irritated by the pressure of the sound and somebody who knows about natural herbs and remedies, which would greatly aid any human voice, and especially the singer's voice.

Find somebody, who, after the voice repair, will finally guide and coach the artist on how to do it properly and professionally, so that the nasty vocal problems will remain to be in the past for good.

As a side effect of learning how to sing properly, those artists will do a service to the public, and by not continuing to destroy their throats and thus cancelling their concerts and tours, they will also save the public's ears while singing with the proper pitch and projection.

In other words, find something that works and something which does not lead back to what did not work in the first place.

The so called Artist's Team is anxiously looking for a solution to put the artist back on stage as soon as possible and thus, not to lose more revenues, and quickly recover what has been already lost, i.e. the revenue from the concerts, tours and live performances overall.

So they make a radical decision...?

Which one, you may ask? Are they desperately looking for somebody who in a real sense could save their artist?

The answer is: THEY'RE NOT LOOKING!!!

How so, you may exclaim?

Because they're NOT OPEN to ANYTHING NEW and they're not finding anything better to do, than to use the same people who evidently, in the first place, "greatly contributed" to the problem, and needless to say, would not be able to solve it!

My representative was trying to get a fax number of the management of a well known artist, who is just about to face a polyp removal off of his vocal cord. He was trying to notify the artist's management that I, his client, could actually help this artist to solve his vocal problem NON-SURGICALLY. My representative got a reply that the artist's management is not open to receive any faxes or e-mails about anything new...?

In other words, the management companies like that are looking for a change without change. They want to cure the problem of the artist by using the same vocal coaches and consultants who clearly aided in that problem's occurrence in the first place.

How does it make sense?

IT OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT!!!

There is an old good saying, "If something doesn't work, try something else. It might work better".

But that obviously would be "too easy". Or in a real sense, evidently too hard, as it requires at least to read an e-mail or fax with an innovative proposal, which could save a lot of pain and aggravation for the artists and put back a lot of money to the management and record companies' pockets.

However, THEY'RE NOT LISTENING and thus, unfortunately for all the parties involved, their "HEARING IS IMPAIRED" and the problem still remains to be the same.

THE ARTIST CAN NOT DELIVER!

X Factor: Spot on Reality... Part II

I have to say, I am religiously watching the progression of the X Factor television show every Wednesday and Thursday on Pacific time (meaning from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. of the next day) and I have to say, it's becoming more intense by the minute, and in my opinion, any good show should possess exactly that quality.

I think about 95% of the time, it is spot on, i.e. participants are somewhat right and the judges are quite fair.

However, in my opinion, and occasionally in Simon Cowell's opinion, the show reminds me of a big cabaret: the dancing, the lights and the effects are completely camouflaging the singing and moreover, all of the above are competing with the actual vocal performance. It is just too overwhelming to watch, however, in my childhood I really liked the Russian circus and it certainly has an echo of something precious that I used to enjoy when I was 10 years old...

But then I remind myself that I'm not actually watching the Russian circus and then the question is: why do we need to see these excessive so to speak acrobatic numbers and get lost and blinded in the lighting?

ISN'T IT ABOUT THE VOICE AND THE VOCAL TALENT OVERALL...?

Also, some "costumes" (performers attire) are definitely too outrageous and some of them remind me of space suits, as one of the participants had a dress, which I'm sure would make aliens from outer space proud to embrace her onto their space ship at any given time. To me, it looked really distractive, not to mention ridiculous and it definitely took away from an otherwise beautiful young girl with the obvious talent.

But at least she's 14. But what happened with the 42 year old? Her red, shiny, space-costume-like dress was definitely not appropriate for her age and again, extremely distractive.

So I've come to the conclusion that there are the best choreographers working for the show, however the choreography can be a little excessive, as it was not meant to be a "So You Think You Can Dance" show (at least I thought so). But I can not say that they have very good fashion stylists being employed, as participants' attire, which I already mentioned about, looks the least to say bizarre.

There is a lot of talent on the show. There is also somewhat generally talented people, however with somewhat questionable singing abilities. How did they make it in the final 12? Beats me!

Obviously, they're fillers and never can be winners. But I'm surprised the judges could not find better quality fillers and had to settle for participants who had rather unusual stories behind their personas.

One is 59 years old and homeless. The other one is also well over 30 and does sound like Dracula (Simon Cowell's comment from the last episode, which I couldn't agree more with). There is one who just came back from rehab and as conciliation prize, decided to "change is his life" via dreams of winning a $5 million recording contract and hopefully not to put it back into the bad substances use.

I am pretty sure he will not win, as he can not sing to save his life, however, in all fairness he looks the part, which gives him a little bit of leeway.

So, the stories are intriguing and it is after all a "Spot On Reality" show. Not much criticism could be applied there.

The question is: What does it have to do with singing?

And in a lot of times, it sounds like singing is just an excuse to keep the show going.

It's hard to blame the participants though. All of them do have $5 million dollar signs in their eyes and because of that, they really are ready to jump out of their space ships into the open space, with or even without their space suits (lol).

And lastly, the judges competition...? I feel really sorry for Paula Abdul, as the groups which were chosen and which she was supposed to mentor, are truly terrible. So, they're getting voted out one after the other and Paula in tears, is letting them go one by one feeling like it is her fault that the people did not choose her acts.

I truly don't think it is entirely her fault. After all, all of the judges were involved in voting and it was their choices of people separately and collectively. The group choices were definitely not up to par, in my opinion. And now Paula is "enjoying" the consequences.

But even that brings the show the huge success. There is drama, tragedy and comedy all mixed into one pot. And somewhere there, as a "side order", is the singing, which is not necessarily even bad, but there is just not enough of it.

I still think that the show is a great success and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. The mix of things is a little excessive, but not that far off, and therefore, the show is quite entertaining.

On this note, I would like to wish Paula Abdul to save at least one group out of three (the girls) and for the rest of the judges, I wish them to start to concentrate firstly on the vocal talent and then on the rest of the components. This way, they will truly be able to find the X Factor in their show.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vocal Science(TM) - Vocal Invention

What does Vocal Science(TM) mean and why is it considered to be a "Vocal Invention", you may ask?  

The answer is:
  • This technique allows the voice to work at the fullest capacity possible with positively no pain or strain on the vocal anatomy.
  • It works wonders for the healthy voice, but if the vocal cords or the vocal box in general are already damaged (or pre-damaged), this technique will help to restructure the voice into a different set of muscles (facial/sinus cavities), which will play the role of the natural amplifier or resonator, while simultaneously being put to work in full conjunction and coordination with the abdominal muscles and where the latter will provide the support for the sound to be lifted off of the vocal cords and off of the vocal box, thus in turn, the use of the throat, larynx and the vocal cords will be minimized and practically eliminated.
Question - How does it compare to the conventional vocal coaching?

The answer is - IT DOESN'T!!! Conventional vocal coaching suggests to do the exact opposite of the above - i.e., the useless exercises and scales are offered, which are drowning the voice lower into the anatomy and, thus, disturbing the anatomy and inevitably causing its damage.


Those exercises are not applicable to any form of singing; and thus, nobody was ever able to figure out how to apply those useless exercises to the actual singing. 

Question - Does the Vocal Science(TM) method suggest that the artist must change their "natural" life-long adapted bad habits?  

Answer: NO, IT DOES NOT OUTRIGHT. However, the experience shows that while going through the process, the artist naturally stops not only the bad vocal habits, but also conquers bad habits like smoking, drinking and using drugs, which, no doubt, affects the flora of the throat. However, the Vocal Science(TM) technique is designed in such a way that the vocal anatomy is hardly being used during the process of speaking and/or singing.  

So, even in such scenario, where the artist smokes, drinks, uses drugs or what have you, the Vocal Science(TM) technique never fails to deliver quality sound during their performance.  

With that said, it is not mandatory for the artist to change their familiar lifestyle and feel miserable while adapting  the so called "New" conventional vocal technique.  

To conclude, I would like to point out that "THE APPLICATION OF THE VOCAL SCIENCE TECHNIQUE POSITIVELY DELIVERS THE DESIRABLE OUTCOME, IN SPITE OF ANY OBSTACLES."