Your Take: What Makes a Good Singer?
This week, The A.V. Club covered Don’t Stop Believin’, a documentary about Arnel Pineda, “the Filipino rocker whose remarkable imitation of Steve Perry landed him a gig as the frontman for the classic rock band Journey back in 2007.”
The article, written by Noel Murray, raised some interesting questions:
When Pineda was discovered on YouTube, he was singing covers of lots of different kinds of songs, and was just as credible impersonating Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, Axl Rose, and Geddy Lee as he was doing Perry. He has range and power. But is hitting the right notes with the right inflection all that’s necessary to make a singer “good?”
Perhaps the better questions to ask when it comes to the quality of a lead singer are, “Does the voice suit the task?” and “Is the task worth doing?” Consider Taylor Swift’s… [performance] at last month’s Grammy awards. Swift has long been dinged in some quarters for her thin voice, which tends to be extra-shaky in a live setting. But Swift’s bright personality and the intimate detail in her songwriting is usually adequate compensation for her weaknesses—that is, unless she’s dressed up like a circus ringmaster, singing the booming, trashy “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” in which case the paltriness of her voice is just one more thing to mock.
So: what makes a singer “good”? What makes a singer appeal to you? Do songwriting and performance compensate for shaky vocals?
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