True Confessions

1 June, 2012
Rat Fink

Sometimes I have to take my temperature. Am I really a singer? Am I really a teacher of singers? If so, then why do I feel this way? Behold, the confessional:

I hate reality singing shows. Hate them. You name the latest reality singing show, and I will say, “Yep. Hate it.” I guess I hate where popular music singing style has gone. The more upper-register vocal gymnastics you can do, the better (and more marketable, which is the most important thing, isn’t it?) you are. In-tune singing has taken a back seat to “can you do licks like Xtina and Kelly?” I know I sound like somebody’s grammie here, but truthfully, it saddens me to see where things are going.

Don’t get me wrong: vocal gymnastics as a style definitely has its place. It’s like many other things I’ve noticed, though. We (Americans? Humans?) take a good thing and pet it and love it, then proceed to mass-produce it, choke it to death, and pound it into the ground.

On a lark, I watched the first 15 minutes of Duets last night. The opening featured Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke singing something, I can’t remember. Kelly had a singular apparent goal: see how loud, overbearing, and lick-heavy you can be. Forget smoothness of line, or establishment of a melody. Just get the back handsprings in there. Try to be Aretha, except unlike Aretha, scream every lyric. It was painful, and I turned it off after hearing John Legend prattle on about choosing a previous song that was too low for his duet contestant, then watching him parade her onstage with a new song that was also too low for her. Bah.

How many singing reality shows are there on the air right now? I couldn’t even guess. Can’t find a definitive list, but I can tell you it’s too long. And the networks are laughing all the way to the bank.

I hate beatboxing. Vocal percussion to those in the know, and VP to the kool kids. I love a cappella singing — and pop a cappella singing — but I absolutely loathe the spitting-in-the-microphone, gangsta-hand-gesturing, mic-choking pretentious tragically hip look-at-me-I’m-wearing-a-fedora boompa-chick crap. Always have, always will.

sigh

So am I mental? Probably. But it’s a happy place. :-)

Hey, for all you private sector fiends — it’s Finkday!

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Rae
Rae
1 June, 2012 10:23 am

Gosh! I’m old fashioned?! Loooovvvvee it! Not that I could breath/function/live without Ella, but Chet Baker’s “I’m Old Fashioned”?? Mmm… good stuff, too.

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RD
RD
1 June, 2012 10:55 am

As you are well aware, I don’t have enough musical ability to critique anything musical, but you certainly do. For what it’s worth, in my gut and in my ears, I agree with you completely! The trends you point out are not only true in music, but in other thans too: manners, civility, concern for excellence, etc. I also sound like I’m from a previous generation–O wait, I am!

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Skylar
Skylar
1 June, 2012 11:14 am

Singers may rub you the wrong way, but beatboxing flautists are entertaining.

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Suzanne
3 June, 2012 4:22 am

I blame Mariah Carey for the onslaught of high-register doodling. Blah. I know there are others before her that did it but she seems to have made it more popular.

And….you *are* somebody’s grammie, :-P

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