Signs of Sucky Singers

Let’s face it: some singers can’t sing. Like, really, they can’t carry a tune. If it weren’t for the auto-tuner, their 15-plus minutes of fame and flames would’ve been snuffed out long before a record was released. And yet, everyone treats singers with the same respect as an honest politician. Most people know what Lindsay Lohan was doing last night, but what was that national policy that passed for Americans?

If you know that Lindsay’s back with her girlfriend (or not) and you have no clue as to what a healthcare policy is, don’t worry, I’m talking about you. The real issue here isn’t whether you know anything about politics. It’s about these people that are so-called singers and who can make it while their fans pretend that their voices only make sounds, not music.

How would you know if a real singer came along, not just some poser? So far, the best singers aren’t pumping out records like a factory. The best singers take their time trying to make their studio albums little gems of music. Singer-songwriter John Mayer was in no rush to record his soulful songs when he took 2 years between each of his 4 studio albums. Songstress Alicia Keys also took 2 or more years to complete and release 4 successful albums. Even diva favorites,¬†Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, and Christina Aguilera had a few years between each chart-topping album.

Of course, the show here isn’t about the vocal royalty. It’s about the dunces playing dress up. Sucky singers use whatever fame and drama they have to release studio albums. Britney Spears churned out the albums when she was at the peak of controversy or tabloid publicity. Baby, Hit Me One More Time (1999) and the following two albums were all released within a 3-year period. That’s an album a year. Actress Lindsay Lohan released her only 2 studio albums consecutively, Speak (2004) and A Little More Personal (2005), when her booze days started making headlines. Ashanti, the former lap-girl to Murder Inc., reached the height of her career between 2002 and 2004 with 3 albums, but her 2008 album, The Declaration, was her lowest-charting release. Ashanti didn’t have any newsworthy stints in 2008. For crooners, it’s up to drama to keep them afloat.

The time it takes for an album to be released is more of a minor sign to finding a true artist. Talented singers are artists, and artists of all natures always experiment, using every opportunity to expand their art. They cross boundaries, and in music, those boundaries are language barriers and genres.

Many great singers have sung their songs or joined forces with a native singer in a different language. Celine Dion partnered with Japan’s aspiring pop star, Yuna Ito, on a ballad in Japanese. Alicia Keys was the female vocalist to her and Alejandro Sanz’s English-Spanish duet, “Looking for Paradise”. Former Destiny’s Child member, Kelly Rowland, was featured in Tiziano Ferro’s song, “Breathe Gentle” in Italian. Real talent can defy the boundaries in language. If you listen to international sensation Leona Lewis sing in accent-free English versus speak in her native British tongue, it’s quite surprising that her singing voice sounds like an American singer’s voice. The lesson? If a singer has vocal talent, that talent won’t deter in a different language.

Besides crossing languages, talented singers can easily jump between music genres. Kelly Clarkson, the first winner of American Idol, has gone between rock, pop, and punk within 3 studio albums. Her presence on American Idol did the best in showcasing her talent. Every week, the American Idol contestants sang songs in different genres. If the contestant could sing well in most genres, they were likely to progress in the singing competition. Though the contestants were better suited for a certain genre or two, the best singers were the ones with limitless possibilities in music. No boundaries equaled no genres.

As for posers, they stick to one genre, and it shows. Do you see Ashley Simpson rocking out in R&B or soul? Not really, but her sister, Jessica, can really lay down some vocals in the pop and country genre. I don’t see Avril Lavigne putting a punch into neo-soul or anything other than rock. However, some of Adam Levine’s stuff can get downright soulful, especially with his Alicia Keys team up for their “Wild Horses” duet.

The funniest–and probably, the most ironic–part of being a singer’s fan is just having a small part of your body working; the ears are an amazing anatomical structure. Now, if the person on stage isn’t singing very well live, it should be as clear as a bell that this person can’t sing! But some fans don’t demand for their money back–they buy their albums and get on a soapbox called Youtube to whine about why people say their idols can’t sing. The only thing I can say to fans of Paris Hilton, J.Lo and Heidi Montag is this: the ears are an amazing anatomical structure.