Archive for June, 2013

Top Twenty Favourite Male Vocalists (1 to 10)

Posted in Male Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

I’ve kept meaning to complete this list of my top twenty favourite male vocalists, so here it is finally. Great male vocalists these days are rare, hence why the vast majority of them in this list are not current, although there are the odd few who are really great singers. Again, these guys have made the list and been ranked according to their tonal quality, their range, techniques and live performances.

1) Stevie Wonder

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An absolutely sublime vocalist as well as a musical genius who writes his lyrics, composes his own music and plays his own instruments – while obviously being blind, Stevie is a legend to be in awe of. This man has loads of energy – especially for someone who barely moves on the stage throughout his shows – as well as lots of soul and a great voice with an incredible range – and not just for man.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTpt49GAIWM]

2) Marvin Gaye

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Marvin was the ultimate man of sexy soul. He had a rich, deep and sultry voice and sounded most comfortable his lower register but just as great in his upper register too.

3) Freddie Mercury

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The only white and British man to make it into the top ten, Freddie Mercury deserves this spot. He had a fantastically soulful, yet rocky voice that was clear and resonated well, sometimes almost quite operatic; another all-round musical genius.

4) Otis Redding

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Otis had a smooth and very soulful voice that was relaxing and pleasant to listen to, who rarely pushed his voice past its limits or too its extremes like many vocalists do.

5) James Brown

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James Brown wasn’t called the Godfather of Soul for nothing. This man had so much charisma and vigour throughout his long career and a gritty, soulful voice that made him stand out from his peers who had smoother, more refined and restrained vocals. He loved to improvise and was great at doing so, similar to Ella Fitzgerald.

6) Ray Charles

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Ray Charles, like Stevie is, was blind yet another musical prodigy with similar vocal stylings to him and James Brown, but largely stuck to a more jazz and blues repertoire and was one of the great pioneers who introduced soul music to the masses in the 1950s.

7) BeBe Winans

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With a voice and style heavily rooted in gospel, BeBe came from a very musical family, and although he may not be as well known as the others by many, he certainly should be. You’ll probably recognise him and his voice when he featured on Eternal’s single “I Wanna Be The Only One”.

8) Cee Lo Green

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The youngest singer in the top ten, Cee Lo is definitely the best male vocalist out there right now. With a great, Motown-inspired voice and sound that is very reminiscent of many soul legends that he is influenced by, Cee Lo isn’t a coach on “The Voice” for no reason, because this guy knows how to sing and is able to sound old-school whilst also current at the same time.

9) Al Green

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Al Green (not related to Cee Lo, which is not his real name anyway, but perhaps derived from Al), has another soul-enriched voice with an astounding and expansive vocal range that sounds great from his smooth, warm depths to its sweet, crisp highs. Although he had a wide vocal range, he knew how and when to unleash and restrain it.

10) Sam Cooke

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Not many people today will know who Sam Cooke is but sure as hell should. Sam had exquisite control of sweet, smooth and soulful voice that meant his abilities were comparable to that of Aretha Franklin in terms of things like dynamics, phrasing tuning it to match the style of music being sung.

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Christina’s Best Live Vocal Performances by year (1999-2013)

Posted in Christina Aguilera, Live Performances with tags , , , on June 19, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

As much as I love Christina Aguilera, as a live performer her vocals are quite inconsistent and there is always a lot of debate about her voice in many of them, whether it be the health of it or the style in which she sings. However, here I have listed the 15 best live vocal performances throughout her career so far from 1999 to 2013 – one for each year, except 2009 when she didn’t perform. Instead I have put a video of her from her MMC days to show how far she’s come. Many of them cemented her as one of this generation’s finest and most talented vocalists with a unique “mixed” style (taking different styles and genres of singing from her various idols and influences and putting them together to create her own style) that has in turn influenced a legion of other young singers after her.

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Please note, there are some performances that I haven’t included in here that some fans might consider to be good (for example her tributes to James Brown at the 2007 Grammys and Etta James at her funeral), because I believe they were emotionally great but not so much technically. I also haven’t included any performances from her mini-concert at the Time 100 Gala (pictured above) since there are still no full-length videos available, even though the short snippets did sound good, but check out my choices below:

1993 – Mickey Mouse Club

“I Have Nothing” on the Mickey Mouse Club show

Since there isn’t a 2009 performance, here’s one from 1993 when she was nearly 13, singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. It may be in a lower key and has no key change but she still does really well for someone her age – especially a song like this and shows she really had a lot of potential, talent and star power at that age. Poor Britney…

1999 – Self-titled début

“Reflection” on the Donny and Marie Show

Here she was still young and still finding herself as a singer before her first album came out. I believe if “Reflection” had been released as her début single it would have done her more justice and given her more credibility, rather than joining in with the teen-pop hype of the time.

2000 – My Kind of Christmas

“The Christmas Song” live at Christmas in Washington

Christina’s Christmas album was a mixed one – her voice was in fine form and her tone was great and pure, but it featured a lot of over-singing. This version of “The Christmas Song” however, was good and she managed to show off her voice for the President without going too overboard.

2001 – Mi Reflejo

“Pero Me Acuerdo De Ti” and “Falsas Esperanzas” at the Latin Grammy Awards

A lot of Spanish-speaking people believe Christina sings great in Spanish and sometimes better than in English. Her voice was getting better around this time and was a good chance for her to practice singing and dancing together more, which she manages to do well here. There is also some great use of her falsetto too.

2002 – Stripped

“Fever” with the Pussycat Dolls at the Roxy Theatre

Christina can sound really sexy and sultry when singing in a bluesy way using her lower register, as she does here for the song “Fever” with The Pussycat Dolls, and she does well to keep it straight and simple too.

2003 – Stripped

“Come On Over (All I Want Is You)” in London (Stripped Tour)

The test of a true artist is to see if they can take an old song of theirs and re-work it to make it sound fresh and different, which is what she does here with “Come On Over (All I Want Is You)”. She keeps the vocals clean and simple, yet playful, and her tone is beautiful.

2004 – Hiatus

“Walk Away” on Letterman

Soulful and sultry vocals, this performance had everything – perfect tone and control throughout and lots of emotion. Definitely one of her best from this era.

2005 – Hiatus

“A Song For You” on Ellen

This is not long after Christina recovered from strained vocal chords and in the build up to her next album, but her voice sounds stronger and richer than it has done before and when she proved she really excels at singing jazz-type records.

2006 – Back To Basics

“Ain’t No Other Man” at the MTV Movie Awards

Here Christina’s vocals were in top form and was probably her best first performance of a lead single from an album. Right from the first opening note through to the end, she kept the momentum going whilst moving around in heels, which is always something to be in awe of.

2007 – Back To Basics

“Makes Me Wanna Pray” in Adelaide (Back To Basics Tour)

This is when Christina’s voice was at its peak. This tour was very vocally demanding for her, especially this last leg when she was about 3 months pregnant. She really gets into the soulful feeling of this song and shows why she should do more gospel-influenced numbers like this.

2008 – Greatest Hits

“I Loves You Porgy” at the Grammy Nominations concert

A simple yet great vocal performance, Christina really shows off her lower register without showing off her voice too much. Her control is great and tone is smooth and warm, even if it does show that her voice has already begun to deepen a lot.

2009 – Hiatus (no performances)

2010 – Burlesque/Bionic

“Lift Me Up” at the Hope For Haiti telethon

Again, using her lower register where she now seems the most comfortable, this one and only performance of “Lift Me Up” had great control and technique throughout most of it. This era itself was one her weakest vocally, but this performance was beautiful.

2011 – Hiatus

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” at Disney Park Parade

After a spell of performances that were more miss than hit, this is definitely one of her best vocal performances in the past few years. Beautiful tone and great control throughout the entire song and her registers, probably thanks to the vocal training she had been receiving in the months prior to this.

2012 – Lotus

“Beautiful” at the Hurricane Sandy Appeal concert

There have been many performances of “Beautiful” that are worthy of being mentioned, but this one was really good. Again her tone is smooth and she has good control of her voice, as well as evidently showing a real connection to the song when performing it.

2013 – Lotus

“Blank Page” at the People’s Choice Awards

Unfortunately, many of the performances so far throughout the “Lotus” era have been average at best, but “Blank Page” was a gem. Her vocals weren’t perfect all the way through, but it definitely showed that she’s still got it and improvement since her other performances in the months before this one.

Vocal Spotlight: Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over) by Donna Summer

Posted in Female Vocalists, Live Performances, Music, Songs, Vocal Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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Donna Summer was not only the Queen of Disco, but during the 70s she was one of the best vocalists around (in fact, ever, really) – she had a beautiful tone, great technique, and was very versatile too. Disco songs don’t necessarily need singers with big voices but when Donna sang them, she not only cemented the title of the ultimate “Disco Diva” but also managed to bring an element of both sexiness and soulfulness to them that others couldn’t. One of her lesser known songs, but one that proved how great, yet underrated a vocalist she really was is “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over), which was released along with the bigger hit “I Feel Love”. Even though “I Feel Love”‘s popularity overshadowed this slow jam ballad and was of course amazing too, this song shouldn’t be forgotten about, so here I am to bring your attention to it if you’ve never heard it before.


The lyrics speak of not wanting a relationship to end and Summer asks her lover to, well, as the title suggests, sit down and talk it over. Her vocals are smooth, warm and full of emotion as she croons and pleads with all her heart, soaring effortlessly as she hits each and every note, both high and low, with ease. Vocally it may not be a hard song to sing but to pull it off in the same, soulful yet not “overdone” way Donna did it, is a tough thing to do. She rarely performed it live but below is a video of one time when she did and had the audition watching her in silent awe.