Today I’m going to address a topic that is a personal pet peeve of mine. I personally don’t like labeling artists as either “Good” or “Bad”. That goes for anybody that creates a work of art including painters, writers, musicians or any other person that creates something from nothing. Art is subjective and what’s beautiful to one person, may seem ugly to another. But, my real pet peeve is the labeling of something as unique as an individual human voice as either “Good” or “Bad”. The sad thing is that I hear comments from the crowd about good vs. bad singing every time I watch a live band play.
The reason this bothers me so much is the fact that no two individual voices are the same. Your voice is the one truly unique instrument you possess. There is no possible way to sound “exactly” like someone else. This has been proven by computer voiceprint analysis. Voices are unique and this presents a huge problem in the labeling of a “Good” or a “Bad” singer.
The only way to even begin to label a singer as either good or bad is to have a pre-determined set of criteria that would define a good singer. For example let’s say the criteria for a good singer would be the ability to sing in tune, hold the pitch, have proper pronunciation of the lyrics, and project their voice at a certain volume level. Using this criteria we can say that Bob Dylan is a “Bad” singer since he does none of the aforementioned criteria. Yet he has sold millions of recordings and his singing has evoked an emotional response directly as a result of his singing.
I’m not trying to make the argument that Bob Dylan is a good singer but I am saying that his singing is touching millions of people. One of the reasons he is successful is because his voice is unique and he is using that uniqueness to deliver his songs. I say it’s at least unfair to label Bob as a “Bad” singer when he is only being himself. The key is getting an emotional response from others when you sing.
Let’s take a look at the American Idol phenomenon which represents the dregs of the Good Singer Vs. Bad Singer debate. It’s fascinating to watch season after season as some very unique singers get trashed to pieces because of their “lack of talent”. Take William Hung for example, he is technically not a good singer at all. But William is a case of a “he’s so bad, he’s good!” style singer. I think that in some weird way, his honesty comes through on his album that he is trying his best to sing from his heart.
In the end, even American Idol voting comes down to which individual voice the voters prefer. The final singers all have the ability to sing at a level that would meet the technical criteria of a “Good” singer. The winner is the person that draws the biggest emotional response from the voters. That’s all Bob Dylan does when he makes an album sale but I doubt Bob would win American Idol.
My point is, don’t be afraid to use the most unique musical instrument you will ever possess. Nobody will ever have your voice so you may as well sing the best you can and get out there and share it. One of the most important things I looked for when putting my band In Stereo together is that everyone in the band was not afraid to sing. We all sing and it really makes our band more unique than the rest. Even if you aren’t the lead singer, singing backup can completely change the sound of your band for the better.
If someone tells you that you’re a “bad” singer then just shrug it off. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about obviously. Just keep singing and working on your pitch and the ability to sing in tune. Working on your ability to harmonize will serve you well when you play in a band. It’s your voice, use it!!