Monday, March 28, 2011

Great Singers vs. Mediocre Singers

I must admit, I'm pretty picky when it comes to accepting new artists. Although, I wasn't even alive at the time when motown was popular, I have a total fascination with it. My favorite kind of music, with the exception of Norah Jones and a few others probably doesn't get more recent than the 70s. So why is it that lately I've been listening to a whole lot of Adele?

Because she's freaking fabulous, that's why! Not only is she absolutely adorable as a person (which you can easily see if you read/watch her interviews on TV or in magazines) but damn, does she have talent. She has a mind-blowing voice, not to mention a refreshingly honest songwriting style. Perhaps the reason I like her so much is the old-school tinge to her voice - so soulful and strong, yet beautifully vulnerable at all the right moments. It's nice to see that someone with real talent can still make it in the mainstream music industry, especially as a singer. Take a look at the majority of artists today: most of them are singer/songwriters, with very little focus on the "singer" part of the title. If you read my first blog post, you know that this is something I've set out to change. But it's wonderful artists like Adele who give me a little more faith that it's actually possible.

This does not mean that I think every artist has to be a great singer. Bob Dylan is a perfect example of a singer/songwriter who is such a great storyteller that his voice became secondary. However, I do find that the singer/songwriters who can really sing can sometimes tell an even greater story. First, let's define a great singer: This is not someone who merely sounds "pretty." There are many people in the world with good voices, but being a great singer is a lot more than that. The thing that separates a mediocre singer and a great singer is not just the ability to sound beautiful, but the ability to tell a story with the voice. Considering that the voice is the medium that delivers the lyrics of a song, it really can tell just as much of a story as the lyrics do. When these two things work in harmony, you get a mind-blowing vocal performance.

Adele has a strong voice, but she's also extremely sensitive. She's never sings loudly for the sake of being loud, or even softly for the sake of being soft. While she's a skilled singer, she doesn't constantly need to remind you that she can do all of these things with her voice. The most important point is that she's always genuine when she sings. She doesn't sing the way she does just to impress you, or make you think "look how pretty she sounds!" Forgive me if I sound like a know-it-all, but I really have no interest in singers who simply admire themselves when they sing. If a singer sounds pretty but isn't genuine (as in, they're thinking about how to impress the audience with their next riff, rather than what they're saying), I pretty much stop caring.

This is why Adele is fabulous. She's soulful, she's sensitive, and most importantly, she's real. The video I'm about to leave you with is "Make You Feel My Love," which was written by Bob Dylan and covered by Adele. Even though this is not one of Adele's songs, it's a great example of everything I've been talking about. With lyrics written by Bob Dylan, and heart-wrenching vocals by Adele, there is definitely a story being told here.


No comments:

Post a Comment