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There’s an interesting trend in pop music lately, I like to call, “Style over substance.” Quirkiness is now an acceptable substitute for tone quality. 25 years ago, you could be a weird as a $3.00 bill and no one would buy your record cause you couldn’t actually SING. Today, weird is the new normal and unless your voice vaguely resembles a freak show, it’s not “artistic” enough.

Pardon me while I not so silently judge this philosophy.

Let us gaze back in time to the crooners of the 60’s. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr, Sarah Vaughan, and Dean Martin to name a few. These artists forged the style of pop music in such a profound way, we still see their impact in the conversational nature of songs today. The giant, gaping difference between them and so many current artists is that tone quality was priority, and style was the accessory; the condiment, the cherry on top… not the dress, the hot dog, and the ice cream.
Style should SUPPORT sound, not undermine it! Today, tone isn’t as valuable as being “the next weird thing” to capture an audience long enough to make a quick buck. I’m honestly mad at the microwave generation we have raised that wants quick entertainment over intellectual substance and quality. We should educate, and develop singers adequately to create artists who see value in developing work of some substance in the music industry! Want to know why we idolize Whitney and Mariah? Because they seem untouchable compared to who we have these days. Our generation will obsess briefly over Ke$ha and LMFAO….a band whose name literally stands for a phrase parents would never want their children to actually verbalize, then move on to the next shiny, sub-par amusement.

My only consolation is that these new pop sensations will leave little more than a tiny dent on the history of music. Why? Because they are annoying, self-indulgent, disrespectful, and oh yeah, they barely sing at all. It’s not that talent like Whitney Houston will never come again, but with examples of success like what we have now, some may never know they hold the voice of a generation, while they busy themselves trying only to be different from the latest weirdo to blemish the radio waves.
Ok….I may be coming across negative. Let me say this…I appreciate truly creative style. But it must come from an honest place and be a support of good tone and evidence that an artist cares more about the quality of their craft than the novelty of it.

As a coach, this is my main objective. I’m looking to release the real authentic tone and voice in my students because I know that’s the ultimate true foundation for creative and unique artistry. If you find your voice. Then you find your style. I’m going to dig into the decades of music that stand between the 60’s and today in upcoming blogs so, stay tuned…

Shelby Rollins

Author Shelby Rollins

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