Friday, May 31, 2013

Demi Lovato Vs. Ariana Grande

These two teen stars have not only been slaying the charts recently, they have been causing a stir in the world of vocals. Essentially, its Teen Kelly Clarkson Vs. Teen Mariah Carey. But which one comes out on top? Take a look.

Vocal Range and Profile: Adele

Vocal Range: C3 - E5 - C6 (D6)
Voice Type: Dark Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves)
Vocal Rating: C+
Recommended Listenings: Hometown Glory, I Can't Make You Love Me, Someone Like You, Rolling In The Deep

Positives: Adele is known for two things: Power, and Emotion. Though her belts don't stretch incredibly high range wise, they tower over most competitors in terms of sheer force (see Rolling In The Deep). Her emotions conversely, are just as moving. She plays scornful ex-girlfriend, wallowing-in-heartbreak ex-lover, and sweet-wife with gut wrenching ability. 

Her lower register is weighty and full, (see Hometown Glory). The mid-range and belting register loses weight as it ascends, meaning that lower belts are more powerful than upper ones. Though not often used, Her falsetto is airy and used with great expression (Someone Like You), while the head voice is fuller, though not quite operatic. Excellent, natural vibrato.

Negatives: Adele uses improper, damaging technique to achieve the resonance of her upper belts. She also opts not to use her falsetto/head voice very often live, though this could be an artistic decision. 

C3- E5 - F#5

(Bb2)C3 - Eb5 - C6

Monday, May 27, 2013

Vocal Range and Profile: Michael Jackson

Vocal Range: Eb2 - Bb5 - F#6
Vocal Type: Lyric Tenor (4 octaves, 1 note, and a semi-tone)
Vocal Rating: Star

Positives: What made Michael Jackson stand out as a vocalist was his distinct voice. His vocal "hiccups" (somewhat like gulping for air or gasping) and breathless stutters were legendary. His grunts were achieved with good technique, and added to an already impressive vocal delivery. His vocals could be fierce and demanding (Smooth Criminal), or mellow and heartbroken (Earth Song).

He had the ability to sing both staccato (Smooth Criminal) and legato rhythms in perfect timing. His vocal runs were never overkill and were rapidly fluid. He had the ability to hold notes for extended periods without heavy fluctuation in pitch.

His lows were the darkest part of his range, being heavy and ever-so-slightly smokey. His mid-range gained brightness as it ascended, and his belting range had almost a chameleon edge to it, it could adopt different timbres and tones. It could come with a rock edge, a softer, mellow tone, or a light or heavy timbre.. This allowed for vocal versatility and transitions through different genres.

Contrary to popular belief, he did NOT solely rely on his falsetto register. Of course MJ used it frequently, but it was not an indication of his inability to sing in full voice. In fact, if you listen to the "Butterflies" acapella, you can hear that all the high notes are sung in full voice and not falsetto.

Negatives: Voice lacked power and was naturally androgynous. Sounds child-like on many recordings instead of like a full-grown man well into middle age. Often sacrificed diction for feeling.

Note: There is a lot of flack on the Internet about his range and the counting of exclamations above C6. I'm counting the exclamations in his range because 1) they're not strained 2) They're not unintentional 3) They're clean. And for the Eb2, he has sung down to an F#2 in a 1994 vocal warm-up and the Eb2 is years later in 2001. I don't have a problem putting it in his range, since in 7 years he could have expanded his range. Either way, he still has a 4 octave range. Finally, I scrapped this profile together by combining info from DivaDevotee, BarkBiteBlog and my own notes.

Vocal Range and Profile: Lea Michele

Vocal Range: Eb3 - A5 - D6
Vocal Type: Lyric Soprano (2 octaves, 7 notes and a semi-tone)
Vocal Rating: B+

Positives Mixed belts are where she shines, the sounds are produced with great resonance and support. She has the stamina and technique to keep these belts going for extended lengths, such as a concert, without fatigue.

Her tone is clear and cutting, it can slice through even the thickest instrumentation  with ease, and without being forced (See Halo/Walking In The Sunshine). Her diction is very accurate.

Negatives: All of her performances have a theatrical feel to them, though this could be because she has only sang Musical Theatre stylings and has yet to venture out of them (AKA Glee and Broadway). Her belts are achieved without vibrato and are overly piercing and more recently lack stamina.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Live Review: Demi Lovato - Stay

Chances are, if you've breathed in the last 3 months, you've heard Rihanna's Stay. And if you're a fan of this blog, you may have noticed that the Demi correlated posts get the most views. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, so here is another Demi plug. And you don't want to miss this post.

Vocal Range and Profile: Lana Del Rey

Vocal Range: F#2 - F5 - E6 (G6)
Voice Type: Dugazon (3 octaves and 5 notes)
Vocal Rating: C+
Recommended Listenings: Brite Lites, Heart-Shaped Box, Young and Beautiful

Positives: Lana has adopted a unique style of phrasing, combined with her unique vocal type, that makes her voice instantly recognizable. Her voice compliments her darker musical styling, but can also adopt a much happier style (Compare Born To Die to Off To the Races).

Her low notes are her most identifiable feature, developing an impressive lower register. Though initially (and still somewhat) foggy, they have grown over time to become heavier and darker.

Her midrange brightens and it ascends, gaining a youthful timbre, compared to her dark lower register. She rarely uses her upper chest voice (B4-E5), instead she opts for her head voice and falsetto. Her falsetto is incredibly light, and Del Rey has no issues staying in this register for extensive periods. The head voice is fuller and almost operatic (Brite Lites). Though not utilized often, her upper chest voice is projected well.

Overall her voice starts off very dark at the bottom, before becoming remarkably bright at the top.

Negatives:Though her phrasing is unique, it can percieved as 'hollow' or 'icy.' Her live performances have drawn heavy criticism for being unpolished in terms of phrasing, leading to off-key runs and intonation issues. Lower notes are also hit with a low larynx, and her voice is often nasal.

B2-D6 (Eb6)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Vocal Range and Profile: Kesha

Vocal Range: C#3 - G5 - G6 (B6)
Voice Type: Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves, 3 notes)
Vocal Rating: C
Recommended Listenings: The Harold Song, Last Goodbye

Positives: A voice that can be sweet and gentle, or full of attitude and vigor. Her phrasing is top-notch, she can portray heartbroken with deft ability, have a comical approach, and also give a 'bad girl' attitude with the same deft ability. She is skilled at register transitions.

Her lows are generally comfortable, but are the weakest part of her range. Her mid-range is full and can be held for extended periods without wavering in pitch. The belting range gains resonance the higher it ascends, up to an F5.

Her voice can transition from several genres, such as Rock, Balladry, Country, Electronic, Pop, Rap and Musical Theatre. She has even developed a distinct 'Yodel' characteristic. 

Negatives: Her use of auto-tune has drawn heavy criticism, though she has stated that this is an artistic choice. Her intonation in upper reaches is inaccurate in live settings. Her breath control could use some improvement, and her tone isn't to everyone's taste.

C#3-E6 (B6)

Vocal Range and Profile: Usher

Vocal Range: D2 - G5 (Bb5)
Vocal Type: Leggero Tenor (3 octaves, 2 notes)
Vocal Rating: B

Positives: Agile voice capable of rapid melismas in falsetto and chest voice. The falsetto can be used for extended amounts of time without fatigue (See Climax) and is remarkably piercing. Though the voice is at it's home in R&B stylings, it can adapt a rock edge, that allows for mixed belts up to G5.

His vocals almost drip with sexual energy, which adds to the last R&B comment. His chest voice is powerful in all extents, and his low notes are thick and velvety. His breath control allows for rigorous dance routine without sounding tired or with random breaths thrown into the song. Excellent diction which allows for powerful emoting.

Negatives: The voice can sound shrill or nasal at points. After leaving the R&B field for pop music, his voice no longer carries his distinct sexual tone, and he sounds 'hollow.'


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Covering Big Voices Goes Wrong... Or Very Right

Judges in the big singing competitions like The Voice, The X Factor, and especially American Idol have advised its contestants to stay away from some big voiced singers. So what happens when they try to pull it off?

Let's start off with the success, so we don't cringe in agony for too long.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vocal Profile and Range: Kelly Rowland

Vocal Range: C3 - F5 - Eb6
Vocal Type: Lyric Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves, 1 note and a semitone)
Vocal Rating: C+

Capable of complex vocal runs and melismas. The head voice is bright and solid, and gains a stronger ring the higher it ascends. Belts from Bb4-Eb5 are thick, resonant, and decorated with a lush vibrato. The pitch of held notes does not waver.

Her breath control in recent years has improved drastically, allowing for more rigorous choreography that does not come at the cost of vocals. Growls can be executed properly even in higher extremes.

Low notes are achieved by lowering the larynx, and are often breathy. The upper chest belts lack resonance, and lower head voice notes are airy like a weak falsetto.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Live Review: Nicki Minaj - High School @ Billboard Awards

Nicki Minaj, ahem, 'performed' her newest single last night at the Billboard awards, but of course, Nicki couldn't make headlines by her talent alone.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RIAA Adds Streaming to Sales Certifications

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), has decided to add streaming to Platinum and Gold certifications, and a certain song is now the most certified song in history because of it.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

5 Lady Gaga Demos To Tide You Over Until ARTPOP

As the music world continues anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lady Gaga's LP ARTPOP, some of us need some new music to munch on until the album drops. Here are some demos you need to keep your sanity:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Vocal Range and Profile: Selena Gomez

Vocal Range: Bb2 - F#5 - C#6
Longest Note: 10 seconds
Vocal Type: Lyric Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves, 1 note and a semi tone)
Vocal Rating: D

Positives: A light, girlish tone can be found throughout Gomez's voice. A sweet, airy head voice combined with dark, healthy lows. Her chest voice gains a slight edge as she ascends, with ease in the fourth octave and ability to phrase in the fifth. The voice is cutting throughout each register.

Negatives: Lack of vibrato makes the notes sound harsh, and the chest notes carry little to no power with them. Her stamina live is sub-par, and the voice can become nasal and whiny at points. Intonation proves to be a struggle as well, as she lacks solid support and connection throughout her voice.

Bb2 - F#5 - C#6

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Live Review: American Idol Finale - Mariah Carey Vs. Jennifer Lopez

Tonight's American Idol finale comes in the wake of media speculation that the entire judging panel will be wiped clean for a new set of judges, that may include bringing back former judge Jennifer Lopez. In all reality, Mariah is a better vocalist than JLo and Rihanna combined, but where she lacks (or lacked tonight) was being a better performer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is Demi Lovato the Voice of the Next Generation?

Demi Lovato certainly rings a few bells in the world of vocals. Her fans/stans constantly cite her powerful lungs as being Grammy worthy. But is she really all that great?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vocal Range and Profile: Eminem

Lowest Note: D2 (C2 spoken)
Highest Chest Tone: F5 (Not Afraid)
Highest Note: D6 (Kim)
Vocal Type: Tenor (4 octaves)
Vocal Rating: C-List

Positives: Thought not a professional singer, throughout the years he has used a singing voice. The voice ascends high with surprising ease, while low notes are still very comfortable. The lows are thick and dark. His pronunciation and diction allows for rapid fire verses. He also employs the use of growls and grunts, neither of which are used with bad technique. 

Negatives: Eminem cannot make his voice come off as anything but angry.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vocal Range and Profile: Gwen Stefani

Range: D3 - D6 - Bb6 (B6)
Longest Note: 10 seconds
Vocal Type: Mezzo-Soprano (3 octaves, 5 notes)
Vocal Rating: B-

Positives: Instantly recognizable tone. Incredible ability to mix belts up to D6, and sustain them for short periods (1-3 seconds). Everything in her range sounds easily accessible, meaning that she is only singing in her true range. Her lows are full and supported, while the belts come with a coarse, rock edge.

Her voice has remained in the same condition for years, a rare quality for most pop singers. Her head voice, being light and agile, can transition to and from a chest belt with ease. Her voice can move from Pop to Rock sounds with ease.

Negatives: The thin, nasal quality of her voice can become overwhelming at points. Her belts tend to be placed in the throat, and her unique vibrato may not be to everyones taste.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Track by Track Review: Demi Lovato - Demi (Album Review)

Demi Lovato's long awaited 4th album. The album has been premiered on Youtube for her eager fans, but expect for its retail arrival on May 14th. The album is expected to land at either #2 or #3 on Billboard, with her best first week sales of 120,000.