My peoples, do you remember a time when your favourite female R&B singer used to sing? Or would it hit home a little harder if I said sang?
When I speak of the latter, y’all immediately know the type of singer I’m referencing. You’re envisioning someone who could grab a mic and obliterate it to smithereens à la The Voice, Whitney Houston. Or with a snap and a growl, take it all the way back to the old school like Vesta. Or maybe start belting out about ‘raining men’ like the unforgettable Martha Wash of The Weather Girls. I know that you know, what I know—they just don’t come for the jugular like they used to. And don’t come for me on socials or via email. There is a huge difference between complaining about how music isn’t the same versus vocal technique not being at par. Music isn’t the same because it’s not supposed to be. Like life, music evolves. We just hope it’s for the better. I’m presently discussing the void of vocal agility.
Where are the vocals?
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Some of today’s singers could never. Or even try.
Now, before you decide to rake me over hot coals, hear me out.
I know I went back to a time that many may argue isn’t really relative anymore. However, I disagree. Giving legendary icons their flowers at any given time in history is a must. It should go without saying. I’m not saying that they have to be emulated. I’m disputing that the vocal consistency that we were once accustomed to, even with one-hit wonders, has lost its way.
We are the reason it sells
It’s one of the many reasons I took a few steps back from writing solely about music. The pitches that were hitting my inbox were thin, airy and had no heart or gusto. And I’m still hearing it. Through the bare minimum of a whisper or mumble, songs are delivered nonchalantly and without prowess. The production would go harder than ever, but the vocal ability fell flat.
For me, a bonafide and self-proclaimed music snob (do you remember what my first handle was when I started blogging?), it was painful to listen to. It still is. Of course, we have to take into consideration that what sells and who the public rallies behind is who eventually ends up with a record deal. In this day of TikTok sensations and how many likes create a singer, the public has more influence than ever to make the most flatlined, one-dimensional song a bona fide hit. So if mediocre singing is pushed, that’s exactly what we’re going to consume. And that’s a whole other topic of discussion.
But there are some diamonds in the rough
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some standouts from the crowd who come with the real: Coco Jones, Snoh Aalegra, Jorja Smith, ZeneSoul, Aqyila, Ari Lennox, Shantel May, Mikhala Jené and the list goes on. There are some fine sangers out there using their gifts and creating the sounds we love to flock to. They’re carrying the torch proudly. Listening to their albums gives me the feels. It’s that ‘I need to listen with my eyes closed and sway to the melody to feel it’ vibe. You know what I’m talking about. Yet on the other hand, let’s be real, a good percentage of the ladies out there today need to come correct or not at all.
Is that asking too much?
Until next time…