I am a layman when it comes to music. I don’t pretend to know any more than I do. I used to “coach” people, and by that I mean help people sing a little better by saying, “no, breath like this,” among other things. I don’t know much about notes. I can’t read music. Compared to the rest of my family, I am not very talented. They can all play every instrument you can name, sing, read music, write songs, etc. I got a pretty decent singing voice, but lately, it’s not very good. I’m aging and combine that with smoking for years, and I sound like Tom Waits on estrogen.
That being said, I am a very harsh critic when it comes to television singing competitions. It takes a lot to please me. I will nitpick the hell out of people’s singing, when truly I haven’t much room to talk. In fact, it’s pretty rare when I watch things like The Voice and truly get floored by a contestant. That has only happened ONCE in the past three years.
Cody Wickline. Jesus Christ, that boy is good. Seriously, he picked a song so many people try to sing (and usually fail) and practically channeled the artist. It was phenomenal. If you somehow missed it, here you go.
Most country fans will tell you, that was phenomenal. I have no complaints about that. I may have become his biggest fan, and I’m not a huge country fan. I listen to everything, but country isn’t on the top of my list.
That being said, there are some songs you just shouldn’t do, and if you do them and fail, I will have a pretty big bone to pick with you. I like it when the contestants take risks, but if you’ve got a vocal range like mine (F2-C5), even if you sound good, don’t go in trying to sing “Alone” by Heart. For God’s sake, just don’t. You will fail, and it will piss me off. To me, this is one of the hardest songs to pull off. You have to have the right range, the right weight, the right type and then on top of that there’s all of that belting.
Now, I will leave out all opera songs in this list. ( Did I say list? It’s not really a list.) It’s just me bitching, as usual. That’s a no-brainer on you have to have just the right vocal talent in order to do it.
Then there are the people who come in wielding any Whitney Houston song in history. All I have to say to that is YOU are not Whitney. You do not sound like her. Even if you had the range, and the weight, I doubt you have the control over the belting that she does (I’m a layman. I never claimed to be a pro). I’m not even going to link a Whitney Houston song, because you all know which one I am talking about. (Here’s a hint: Dolly Parton was the original singer, and she did quite good. Excellent in fact, but you aren’t either one of them. Besides, Dolly has a very unique voice.)
Or people come in thinking they can do Celine Dion. You may be able to do the song (why would you want to though) but you don’t have that power.
But that’s not even the hardest Celine song to do. I tell you, I heard someone try this next one at karaoke one night, and Jesus. I nearly left. I nearly threw a bottle of Jack Daniels at her head.
Here’s another singing tip, alcohol doesn’t do you any favors. It doesn’t. It only helps if you’re Tom waits, which if you have somehow missed out on him, give him a listen. He has several interesting songs, and a terrible voice, but it somehow works. See, I’m not saying you have to have a perfect voice to do any singing. That’s not true at all. You just have to know what works for your voice, because you can’t sing everything.
No, that’s not the cookie monster. That’s actually Tom Waits singing. I just thought the video was less creepy than Tom walking around a weird fun house on paint stilts with bubbles and emu’s running around.
Again, these songs are ones that I fully believe you must do correctly. You best nail every aspect of that song or people like me will point at you and say mean things. Your voice isn’t perfect, but with the right techniques and the proper songs, you can sound great, and you don’t have to tear your voice up.
I leave you with two songs by one group and that group is JOURNEY! Believe it or not, Faithfully is pretty hard to sing along to, but they have ONE song that it doesn’t matter how shitty your voice is, everyone sounds just fine singing. In fact, every single one of you have belted this out in strange places when it came on.
I was in the car once with three men, and these guys are pretty big guys. Think big, bearded bikers. Anyways, this song came on, and of course we all start singing. Even when we stopped at the light, we kept singing. The people next to us? They started singing.
I think Journey could be the way to end all wars. Just put it on a gigantic loudspeaker. Everyone will stop to sing.
I blame Glee.
EDIT: I forgot about being floored by Collabro’s audition on Britains Got Talent in 2014. My eyes got a little misty, it was that good.