Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Vocally Speaking... "Music Menu" Singing is the last plate on the menu?
It never ceases to amaze me when people are only talking about the actual songs, i.e. how good they are, how original they are, how well produced they are and how catchy they are...
Very rarely, you hear the comments about the singer, for example praising him/her about the strong vocals, about their vulnerability, original interpretation, perfect pitch, and overall perfect vocal performance delivery. How so you may ask? It should be two different commodities-the greatly written and produced song and well and professionally delivered vocals.
Once upon a time, I had a meeting in a Sony building with a prominent producer and a manager to be for one of my clients. After we discussed my client, they told me a story which happened a day before my meeting with them. They, apparently, flew a so called artist from Vancouver, BC in anticipation to record the perfect original tune composed by that artist and then put it on the market. Little did they know...
The so called artist could not sing to save his life. Both producer and manager apparently were ripping out whatever was left of their hair, (LOL), trying to pull out some coherent vocal performance from the person who they brought from the west coast and paid for his flight, hotel, food etc.
"Why did you bring him here in the first place if he couldn't sing?" I exclaimed. They said "but he had a very good song, therefore, we thought we got it all made with him. Too bad you did not visit us yesterday. It would be so much easier with your expertise to extract some decent sound out of him".
Obviously, their objective was a good original tune, but singing was secondary on their menu, if even at all. In my opinion, the singer is the one who is in the driver's seat. The singer, figuratively speaking, is the locomotive of a train, which pulls the whole train wagons forward. If the locomotive does not move, the rest of the train, evidently, are going nowhere. Also, when we go to a venue to listen to a band, usually we only know one name-the name of the lead singer. Very rarely, people know the rest of the names of the band members, unless they're close friends.
That said why the music industry is always concerned about the songs and never about the singer performing those songs? My presumption is when they are talking about even a mediocre singer; they are praising him/her anyways on the grounds of a good song. In Russian language, we have a saying "Don't mix the scrambled egg with God's gift".
The song should be a song, but the singing and the performance of that song is however related, but altogether a separate matter. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a popular belief that the singer must write his/her own songs. On that note, I could say that I could drive my car very well, but I have no idea how to fix it or how to teach somebody driving for that matte In this instance, those things also related and somewhat inter-connected, but all those skills require separate expertise.
So if somebody could sing well, might not necessarily know how to write the songs and/or produce the songs for that matter. It does not however diminish those artists as vocal performers. Now 20-30 years later, the music industry became more liberated and I think more understanding.
They took the age bracket away due to the live TV reality shows and they allowed singers to show their talent via cover tunes, however demanding them to be sung in their originality. That said I want to believe that the music industry professionals and humanity as a whole, do still have a hope to be able to separate the inter-related skills and fairly address each and every one of them separately, collectively and in absolute fairness.