Listened to some Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Joe Crocker, Jeff Mangum and Joni Mitchell on the morning ride to work today. And if you’re a fan of this sort of stuff, you’ll know that these people have built reputations on the uniqueness of their voices: singing slightly off-key, cracking voices at really high (in Waits’ case, really low) notes, holding to a refrain’s line for a while longer than how it is structured, then having to sing the next line really fast just to catch up.
Realization: Today’s music is just plain bad, and I’m not saying this in a strictly nostalgia-laden sense. Everybody’s obsessing over that one person who can, in a perfectly solid, grit-less voice, sing in perfect pitch and timing, hitting all the high notes without having to inhale the moment before doing so. This, even to the point of utilizing pre-recordings and that horrible, horrible Auto-Tune.
(Disclaimer: I am not against Auto-Tune per se, as that would, at some point, conflict with my love for Daft Punk. What I am against is people using it to hide the little lilting idiosyncrasies of their singing voices *coughWithoutYouAnneCurtisCovercough*)
Music is an art, and as such, thrives on invention and re-invention. Unfortunately, technology such as the karaoke machine, and singing contests such as The Voice have shunned the artist in favor of the belter, to the point of that short-lived controversy of epic band Imago’s Aia de Leon being dropped during the blind auditions.
Maybe I’m just not listening to good stuff these days, though. If you think this is the case, recommend me a good band or two. I could use some new listening.