Is it actually cooler to be a bad singer???

Timbresmith1

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Bryan Adams is a way better singer than George Throrogood but can't admit you like any Bryan Adams songs. But "Bad to The Bone", heck yeah! Great song, he isn't an elite singer. It kinda makes you wonder how much our culture really appreciates talent when alot of the most gifted singers in pop music get thrown under the bus by society.... (Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Barry Manilow, Richard Marx, Sammy Hagar, etc.)
I would gladly throw Thorogood’s catalog under a steamroller.
 

Timbresmith1

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I'm gonna be honest with you; as a pretty well regarded singer myself Celine Dion and Michael Bolton are two of the best singers I've ever heard in terms of raw talent yet they're the most made fun of? I feel the same way about Barry Manilow. Bolton used to be in the hard rock band Blackjack with Bruce Kulick and Satriania actualy auditioned for Metallica and got rejected for being "too good". Problem with Bolton is his voice was too clean for hard rock but I still think this rocks like a mofo; check it out!


Many trained singers pick material that highlights their talent, a lot of it is garbage.
 

oldunc

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I agree with you. My favourite singer is Bob Dylan
Dylan doesn't have a pretty voice, but he's a very accomplished singer. Same thing for a lot of people- some of the very best blues singers- Elmore James, Howlin Wolf- have distinctly unpretty voices. Whereas Taj Mahal, the best contemporary blues singer, has a fantastic voice. James Booker had a voice like cats being dragged across a blackboard, and could be a wonderful singer. Singing isn't just a matter of having an attractive voice or hitting pitches, it's a very complex and subtle art.
 

ReverendRevolver

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There's this other little thing about music apart from the notes called rhythm. For singers and other soloists, there's another called phrasing. Billie Holiday's range was reportedly just over an octave. I think Billie was an incredible singer.

Unassailable:





Most of what matters falls in these lines.

The voice is the tool, it's what they do with it that's impressive.

Gloria Gainor? Power and dynamics, but not running an opera of range.

Several of the most influential singers in popular music aren't "good" singers. Several are. Even in the same time period (Cobain compared to Cornell or Staley, ozzy to plant {or Dio}, Hetfeild to Dickenson, Jett to Hynde {is Benetar unfair here}, Jagger to McCartney and Lennon, every new wave singer ever to Prince and MJ, Cher to autotune Cher ;) )

Art and entertainment aren't like contact sports, you don't get the 6-9" 360lbs of muscle guy standing over the heap that once was his 150lb opponent.

Different people succeed or fail in different ways.

Even when they could have succeeded or failed in other ways.
Mariah Carey recorded an alt rock album in the mid 90s as a coping mechanism for being forced to do one specific sound. (And apparently she might release it this year? Who knew...).

So maybe we all accept that Celine is an amazing singer but we got burned out on the Titanic soundtrack? Or Bolton is just boring? Like, I had to Google why Billy Squire didn't get bigger, and it's sad his star burned out like that, because he could've been the 80s pop rock version of Hulk Hogan had it gone different. Bolton deserved the fate that befell Billy. Because he can sing but he's boring.
That's another trend, talent lit on fire and wasted.
Kanye can write, but he lost his mind and nobody is helping the man get it back.
(Insert name here) was a phenom but died at age 27.
(Buddy/SRV/Randy Rhodes/et al) were about to soar to new heights, before they got into (insert aircraft).
Oasis could've been a huge thing if they'd have shut up and played together.
GnR could have been the next Stones but Axl.....
Elvis could've done 6 more comebacks but his heart...

Look, at least Bolton got to live, be successful, and still get mentioned, even if it's not positive.
 

RetiredUnit1

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Music is the language of emotion. Those singers you mentioned do NOT elicit an emotional response in me when I hear them.

Neil young and Bob Dylan are perfect examples of singers that elicit an emotional response with NOT the best "classic" examples of voices.

Mozart's music was beyond compare in imparting that emotion, his arch nemesis Salieri was technically brilliant and cold as a stone.

In essence, you have to FEEL the music you play and sing. If you don't, no one else will either.

 

loopfinding

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i think it's just too over the top as far as tacky factor, not really anything to do with their singing.

someone like sting or something like "kiss from a rose" or a lot of 80s/90s slow jam stuff is 100% schmaltz, but just schmaltz enough, while still being interesting or novel enough musically. plenty of people "of good taste" love stuff like that unironically and publicly, cause the terms of schmaltziness are more well-defined, and the artist isn't too garish and doesn't overstep boundaries - just does a bang-up job of delivering a solid/coherent product.

artists like bolton or dion are capable of delivering a good schmaltz product, but they're often way too garish even for the terms of the material (imagine if every rock song had like a steve vai solo), or the material is too predictable (listeners still want some semblance of a vibe even if the material is easily digestible). or in the case of a bolton, they get into some real cheap sounding things too.
 
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39martind18

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As a vocalist, I am a musician with my voice. Like a good guitarist, tuning, timing and tonality are very important. Emotion, because the human voice is the most "human" of all instruments, is an equally, or more important factor in singing. To draw a parallel with guitarists, I find a guitarist that plays out of tune all the time to be very grating to my ears, those who lack a sense of time also are grating. Tone, being such a subjective factor in a guitarist's sound, can only be judged by one's own taste. I have found that those who "frill up" a vocal performance to the point that the melody of the song is obscured, to my ears, is similar to the over-the-top guitar wanking of some VERY technically gifted lead guitarists. Technical displays for their own sake, either vocal or guitar, leave me cold. Serving the song by playing or singing in tune, and with emotion is where it's at (to use an old 60s phrase).
 

Wheelhouse

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I'll jump into this.

The thread title neatly contains the key problem. What is "cool"? What makes a "bad" singer? Those vague terms lead to equally vague contributions without allowing any real debate or concrete points.

The example track on the original post is maybe not a good example. I didn't like the mix, and the singer's vibrato was a really bad fit for the song, in my opinion.

Isn't a "good" singer one that is memorable? Isn't it uniqueness that forms a big part of what makes something memorable? The song in the original post of this thread is not the least bit unique or memorable. Lyrically, musically, the musical performances, there's nothing that distinguishes this track from a thousand other rock songs of the era (or even adjacent eras). Okay, it's possible to be memorably bad, but I think we can disregard that, right? ;)

Many posts in the thread bring this point out: it isn't being "bad" that marks a good vocalist or a popular one, it's bringing a memorable, unique voice. If anybody sang "Tiptoe through the Tulips" in a straight voice, no matter how well they did it, it wouldn't attract much attention. Tiny Tim is memorable forever with his performance because of his unique delivery, what he personally brought to that song. Millions of singers have done "Somewhere over the Rainbow," but only a few stand out. The original, obviously, but also Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole. His recording has been used in hundreds of settings and has over a billion Youtube views because he brought something unique and memorable to a song everybody already knows.

It's actually really hard to create a uniquely memorable sound. As a society, we tend to reward uniquely memorable achievements with some amount of success (though it's never a sure thing). I think the examples in this thread point that out. And back to the original post, Michael Bolton was a "good" (talented) singer, but lacked uniqueness, in my opinion.
 
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catdaddy

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Howlin' Wolf never sang off pitch in his life.
I never mentioned anything about singing off pitch, so I'm not sure why you felt compelled to post the above non sequitur. Howlin' Wolf's voice certainly has character, but it's not perfectly suite for a lot of genres other than blues.
 




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