Author Topic: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing  (Read 3735 times)

idunnosomename

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2021, 01:15:40 PM »
Ozzy Osbourne literally cant sing in that he wrecked his voice by the end of the 70s

famethrowa

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #31 on: June 02, 2021, 01:23:49 PM »
I suspected there'd be some blowback from the Talk Talk talk, it's just always seemed that way to me. But he did make it work for him and built his music around it, so fair dos. Anyway back to the thread question:

Paul Young.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #32 on: June 02, 2021, 01:24:39 PM »
Not only his voice, he couldn't play guitar very well either. If you watch any Joy Division TV footage, he's always staring down at the fretboard, and is clearly having to try very hard at doing some extremely simple guitar lines.

There was some documentary I saw years ago in which he said how hard he found it to write lyrics and hated doing it. In spite of all these limitations he’s done alright.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #33 on: June 02, 2021, 01:44:20 PM »
Ozzy Osbourne literally cant sing in that he wrecked his voice by the end of the 70s

The fronthobbit of ACDC now sounds like a lawnmover going over a beer can.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #34 on: June 02, 2021, 02:04:20 PM »
Not only his voice, he couldn't play guitar very well either. If you watch any Joy Division TV footage, he's always staring down at the fretboard, and is clearly having to try very hard at doing some extremely simple guitar lines.
I would put part of that down to shyness and trying to look anywhere but the audience/camera. I think for a lot of the 80s, he needed a fair bit of alcoholic/chemical encouragement to get up on stage and front the band.

That said, I remember Johnny Marr saying that the thing that surprised him most about Sumner's guitar playing from their working together was the fact he never practised, so maybe it is more him trying not to hit bum notes.

buzby

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #35 on: June 02, 2021, 02:20:20 PM »
Not only his voice, he couldn't play guitar very well either. If you watch any Joy Division TV footage, he's always staring down at the fretboard, and is clearly having to try very hard at doing some extremely simple guitar lines.
Well, at that point they had only been playing instruments as a hobby for about 2 years (and Bernard's 'training' was a Bert Weedon book). Steve was the only one who had any formal drum lessons, and he knocked them in the head fairly early on.

There was some documentary I saw years ago in which he said how hard he found it to write lyrics and hated doing it. In spite of all these limitations he’s done alright.
I would put part of that down to shyness and trying to look anywhere but the audience/camera. I think for a lot of the 80s, he needed a fair bit of alcoholic/chemical encouragement to get up on stage and front the band.
He does usually find it hard to write lyrics. Early on in New Order's career LSD was a major catalyst in his writing, but all of the band members were contributing to the lyrics to a greater or lesser degree even up to Technique. On Republic it was mostly him, and they had to lock him into the studio's apartment for the weekend to force him to write lyrics for the songs. In the early 2000s he participated in a experiment on using Prozac to get past a period of writer's block.

As you say, it was the actual being a frontman and singing in front of an audience that was the greatest issue for him (a role that was thrust onto him that he never really wanted), and the only way he could do it was by getting pissed or wasted, which then led to their reputation for shambolic live performances and his acting like an arse.

Check out any video of them performing on TV prior to the Technique era - in a situation where he couldn't get pissed he always looks terrified, and usually does the entire song with his eyes closed.
Quote
That said, I remember Johnny Marr saying that the thing that surprised him most about Sumner's guitar playing from their working together was the fact he never practised, so maybe it is more him trying not to hit bum notes.
In Electronic, Marr was quite complimentary of his guitar playing and was always trying to get him to play more on the records. The reason New Order went progressively more synth-oriented was because Sumner wasn't really bothered with becoming a 'guitar genius' and found it far easier to write the music he wanted to make on keyboards and sequencers. That then led to the friction with Hook, who always sided towards a more the traditional 'rock' sound.

Paul Young.
He certainly could sing in the No Parlez era. He's another one like Ozzy where excessive touring in the 80s ruined his voice.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #36 on: June 02, 2021, 02:25:36 PM »
In Electronic, Marr was quite complimentary of his guitar playing and was always trying to get him to play more on the records.
Yes, I should have said that Marr was complimenting Sumner by saying (something like) "he's so good, even though he never practises". I think he compared him to Neil Young in some way - this would have been in a Uncut cover feature about Electronic around the time of their third album, so the details are hazy in my mind, primarily because I was in my first year of uni at the time and pretty much permanently half-cut on Brown Ale (which Sumner, of course, used to drink in the Joy Division days because he knew nobody else would nick it).

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #37 on: June 02, 2021, 02:35:25 PM »
The range from the low notes at the beginning of Sweet Thing to "It's safe in the city...." to the high "WIIIIIIIIIIIND!" at the end of "Wild is the Wind" is pretty good.

Hasn't he famously got one of the widest singing ranges in rock? Certainly in the 70s

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #38 on: June 02, 2021, 02:39:02 PM »
I was just thinking of some of Bowie's popular songs where he doesn't display much range but shows off his plummy chops, like Heroes maybe. ok he's got a good range too, I can't see how there's any basis to call him a bad singer

SpiderChrist

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #39 on: June 02, 2021, 02:39:49 PM »
I hope the Tom Jones suggestion was a joke. Nobody can top Delilah. Incredible set of pipes on that man.

No joke. The man's a big honking walrus with all the subtlety of a hangliding flasher. "But Otis Redding called him the greatest soul singer in the world or something." Well Otis was WRONG, wasn't he?

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #40 on: June 02, 2021, 04:13:37 PM »
I remember once hearing a Madonna live bootleg at a record fair circa 1990. HTF is this caterwauling clown the biggest pop star in the world?, I thought to myself as I bought an old Wreckless Eric LP.
Threw in a bit of irony there.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #41 on: June 02, 2021, 07:59:03 PM »
David Lee Roth.

Although his voice is on some of the finest rock of the late 70s and 80s, he was never very good, and towards the end of his tenure in Van Halen, he'd stopped trying to a fairly embarrassing degree (check out any live video of theirs for proof). Now, his performances in Las Vegas are the thing of memes, apparently.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #42 on: June 02, 2021, 08:03:08 PM »
Ozzy Osbourne literally cant sing in that he wrecked his voice by the end of the 70s

Yeah, I love me some early Sabbath and Ozzy's voice is integral to that sound (much like any original vocalist in a seminal band) but he's always had a really shit voice, flat and toneless.

The Mollusk

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #43 on: June 02, 2021, 08:03:34 PM »
No joke. The man's a big honking walrus with all the subtlety of a hangliding flasher. "But Otis Redding called him the greatest soul singer in the world or something." Well Otis was WRONG, wasn't he?

I get where you’re coming from here. Although I personally like it, his voice is certainly maximalist. It doesn’t neatly tick the box, it colours the entire thing in so it’s a thick filled-in square.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #44 on: June 02, 2021, 08:08:48 PM »
I get where you’re coming from here. Although I personally like it, his voice is certainly maximalist. It doesn’t neatly tick the box, it colours the entire thing in so it’s a thick filled-in square.


The cover of Burning Down the House with him duetting with Nina from The Cardigans has to be the biggest vocal mismatch ever, like pitching a fog horn against a reed warbler.

Dr Rock

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #45 on: June 02, 2021, 08:09:39 PM »
He can tone it down when necessary - Weeping Annaleah, which Nick Cave done

https://youtu.be/8HBVQRD1Pw4

kalowski

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #46 on: June 02, 2021, 08:10:54 PM »
David Lee Roth.

Although his voice is on some of the finest rock of the late 70s and 80s, he was never very good, and towards the end of his tenure in Van Halen, he'd stopped trying to a fairly embarrassing degree (check out any live video of theirs for proof). Now, his performances in Las Vegas are the thing of memes, apparently.
Yeah, I'm heartbroken when I hear how badly his voice has deteriorated. He just seems to shout out of tune nowadays.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #47 on: June 02, 2021, 08:16:40 PM »

The cover of Burning Down the House with him duetting with Nina from The Cardigans has to be the biggest vocal mismatch ever, like pitching a fog horn against a reed warbler.

I remember the video of that and she looked a bit frightened of him. He kept doing all these strange eye bulging faces and stuff.

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #48 on: June 02, 2021, 08:39:35 PM »
Bowie’s an interesting one because he worked quite hard on his singing. By the time you get to Berlin he has an absolutely amazing voice but he didn’t start out that way.

I’ve defended loads of idiosyncratic singers from the charge of “they can’t sing” by saying that if you hit the notes you want to hit you can sing. I fucking hate Neil Young though.

Dr Rock

  • The BEST of luck!
Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #49 on: June 02, 2021, 08:45:02 PM »
As mentioned before, the best voice you can have is unique. But it helps if you can carry a tune.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #50 on: June 02, 2021, 09:09:28 PM »
David Lee Roth.

Although his voice is on some of the finest rock of the late 70s and 80s, he was never very good, and towards the end of his tenure in Van Halen, he'd stopped trying to a fairly embarrassing degree (check out any live video of theirs for proof). Now, his performances in Las Vegas are the thing of memes, apparently.

But he's the best one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCIyeXn1sKQ

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #51 on: June 02, 2021, 10:19:31 PM »
Apparently Cheryl wasn't a very strong singer in Girls Aloud, so despite being the biggest celeb she couldn't vocally front the group. Nadine was the singer and Cheryl reportedly still hates her for this.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #52 on: June 03, 2021, 01:16:28 AM »
Tom Jones had a great voice he just makes astonishingly shit music. He doesn't know how to turn it off, its just a full blast. Its hideous and abrasive but in his line of work that could be plus. I'm stunned he's never done anything really great since his relationship to soul is fucking weird (for a guy who comes close to being a blackface performer his music is whiter than ABBA) and he came along at a time when rock bands were plundering r&b to create the 'heavy' vocabulary.

If he was slightly more kitsch or eccentric in a slightly different way he would've be capable of putting out a slamming LP in the late 60s. Since his love of the music is clearly real and many legends have respect for him, Tom Jones never being able to truly own at least R&B cover is a baffling thing to me. Otis might have loved him but he fucking desecrated "Try A Little Tenderness", sounds like Zap Branigan having a colonoscopy.

I remember the video of that and she looked a bit frightened of him. He kept doing all these strange eye bulging faces and stuff.

Riffing on this was up there with "and then I saw my mum had left me a cup of tea" back in the day. Usually with the lined "like being shagged by a leather sofa!"

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #53 on: June 03, 2021, 01:28:07 AM »
I think Nina probably has lovely skin. Not like a leather sofa at all.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #54 on: June 03, 2021, 08:07:05 AM »
Back to Tom Jones, in the late 80s when he had returned to the charts and British TV for the first time in 15 years, Kerrang did an April Fool's prank where they announced that he had joined Black Sabbath.  It was long before online media of course, but based on the subsequent letter pages not only did a lot of people believe it, most thought it was a fantastic idea.

buzby

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #55 on: June 03, 2021, 08:51:45 AM »
Apparently Cheryl wasn't a very strong singer in Girls Aloud, so despite being the biggest celeb she couldn't vocally front the group. Nadine was the singer and Cheryl reportedly still hates her for this.
The OG of this of course being Posh Spice. Remember the demos of that song she did with Dane Bowers and her aborted album produced by Damon Dash leaking? They turned her mic off for Spice Girls live performances.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #56 on: June 03, 2021, 08:58:16 AM »
Does anyone else find an inability to sing in tune is quite painful? There are artists with rougher voices where I find it doesn't matter to me so much as it's part of the overall sound and then there are others that I really can't listen to. St Etienne live I remember as a particularly tough experience to get through and the previously mentioned Bernard Sumner on some tracks where he holds a note that is consistently off.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #57 on: June 03, 2021, 09:17:45 AM »
I really like Bernard Sumner's voice. His lyrics, however, are laughable.

Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #58 on: June 03, 2021, 10:04:07 AM »
Ian Brown is obviously the one for me because unlike Byrne, MES, Berman et. al. his voice has absolutely no presence. Mike Mills was a better singer than Michael Stipe in terms of range, quality of voice, melodic sensibility, but Stipe had a particular personality that came through. Presence is so important.

The guy from Smash Mouth is appalling too.


Butchers Blind

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Re: Singers who (upon reflection) can’t sing
« Reply #59 on: June 03, 2021, 10:10:57 AM »
Damon Albarn needs to be mentioned in this thread. He's got by on very little in the vocal department.

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