Rant #14- English Singers’ Ability (mostly lack thereof)

Ok, I’ve been complaining about this for a long time, so I think it’s finally time I ranted about it.

The English music industry is supposed to be one of the strongest and most profitable in the world. So why is it we keep bringing up people who CAN’T SING LIVE?!

As many of you know right now I’m studying in South Korea and I have to say this music industry beats the US on two key points: the singers are more fun to watch (I’ll rant about that in #15) and THEY CAN SING LIVE. Honestly! A singers entire career around here is built on their ability to sing live with no computer enhancements or Auto-Tune. If a singer can’t sing live they’re dumped by their fans and mocked. Why doesn’t the US do that??? Why do we keep letting people skate by on auto-tune instead of songwriters finding actual singers to fill their place? Sure, image sells, but there are almost 7 billion people in this world- I’M SURE SOMEONE CAN SING AND LOOK GOOD.

Let’s get organized, shall we? I’m going to go through some of my favorite English singers and look up live performances they did to see if they get classified as good or bad singers. It’s kind of tough- if they can’t sing I just can’t listen to them anymore, it’s as simple as that. So keeping in mind my iPod is about to get a lot lighter let’s proceed, shall we? Oh, but first we do the singer who ruined my faith in music (I wasn’t her fan or anything, but I started thinking about it)


This guy I had a lot of hope for. He placed very high in American Idol, which means he can at least sing a little, right? WRONG. Honestly his live is about at the same level to my ears as a bad ensemble member in a high school level musical. He’s pitchy and puts WAY too much emphasis on his appearance and trying to put on a shocking show. And I don’t know what it is with him and sequence, but it’s never your friend: NEVER. You can really tell who he’s going for: Lady Gaga. Well, hate to break it to him but he’s just kind of creepy.


I really loved this group when I was younger. Now their only song I like much is “The River”. They do too much fanservice in the shouts (apparently every city is the best on the planet) and it really borders on horrifically cliché (Special thanks to reader Mr. Kelly who let me know how to put the thing above the “e”!!!). You can tell from the MP3’s that the singer uses a pretty standard monotone, his range is horrible, but live is something you would expect to hear at a town fair maybe? Not as broadway as Lambert, but totally making up his own key. At least he doesn’t stick to any note long enough to go out of pitch… He also sometimes forgets small parts of his own lyrics… Again, not as far off his MP3 as you tend to see, and he would probably be a great singer if this was how he RELEASED the song, but compare it to the recording and you’ll see.


Another group I tend to favor. But once again the singing is off. The MP3 sounds rock, this sounds almost like Nickelback. He forgets the pitch half the time and then suddenly tries to jump back to it and misses. Also he keeps changing the pace of the song and the lyrics. More than once he starts one phrase and finishes another. I know- it’s his song he can do what he wants, but he can’t keep on pitch and goes between shouting and singing uncontrollably.


Ok, I still have *some* faith in English singers thanks to Nickelback. There is a certain range in which live can differ from a song and still be considered good, and this song is well within that range. The only difference between the MP3and the live is that there is an echo in the live you usually hear. Just enough that you can tell it’s live without so much that you wonder who really sang the MP3.

Ok, first I want to show you something:

They tried to sell this as a LIVE performance. *death glare at the producer until he withers and vanishes* I’m not an idiot. And I hope none of you fell for that. Either she’s singing and has been run through an auto-tuner or (more likely) this is a direct rip from her MP3 with a lot of the synthesizer reduced to create that slight gap between the vocal pitch and the music to mimic live performance. Guess what? I’m looking and looking and I can’t find ANY true live performance of hers. Concert footage shows that even THERE she’s being run through an auto-tuner (it isn’t like it’s hard- all you need is a laptop rigged into the sound system). Someone give her a real microphone and THEN let’s see if she can sing. I’m doubting it though, every song she’s ever sung live has a trace of that auto-tune in it, you can always tell when they used it because even when they speak and scream everything is in the same range- that isn’t how human voices work.


Even though some of her stuff is a bit odd (I think that’s the idea) and “Alejandro” was basically soft-core porn I think she is the best live singer English has to offer. You can definitely tell it’s live, and it’s just as close to the MP3 as Nickelback’s was- closer even. She misses the note a few times, but you know what? Every singer does that in live, that’s how you can tell it’s live. And it isn’t like she flings past it- she just hits the note directly under or over it.

That’s all I feel like doing for now, I can always update this rant later, but listening to my favorites sounding like crap makes me sad.

Oh, and don’t forget if a singer messes up it doesn’t necessarily mean they suck. And because I’m now depressed that I know of like 2 real singers in English here is a cute clip that proves that sometimes the good singers can mess up spectacularly, and that the show and the group were honest enough with that mistake that they decided to show it.

During this group’s live (at the end of the song) one of their lead singers had a rather spectacular miss of a sharp note (the guy who falls on stage laughing is another lead singer for this same group, and a LOT went wrong when they were filming that show). Just because I think it’s funny, here is a clip of them singing acapella earlier on. The guy in the middle is the same who later fell on stage laughing.

  1. #1 by Alan Kelly on September 14, 2010 - 11:31 pm

    This won’t hurt a bit. I visited your page at …


    and read your comment/complaint… “…the thing above the “e”” in the word, e.g., “cliché”

    On Windows, just use type in ALT-130 (hold the Alt key down while you tap 130 only on the number keypad.

    So, hope that helps.

    On a daily basis, I produce interview transcripts so writers can … write.

    Thanks for reading — more at http://www.VerbatimIT.com

    Alan Kelly

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