Archive for female vocalists

5 reasons why Beverley Knight is awesome

Posted in Female Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2014 by Ain't No Other Tan

Adele, Amy, Leona, Joss, Duffy… Just a handful of the UK’s most famous neo-soul singers who have all achieved international recognition and success. And while they’re all good in their own way and to an extent, there’s one woman who blows them all out of the water when it comes to a combination of soul, technique, power, range, versatility and musicality – Beverley Knight. Bev hasn’t had a whole lot of mainstream success, even in the UK, but has received critical acclaim by many and while Bev herself may not mind or want it, it is a shame that she doesn’t have it and so many people love these other ladies so much more and believe because they’re so popular, they must be amazing. Well, here are 5 simple reasons as to why I believe Beverley is better (in my opinion but I’m also using facts and provide evidence, in case you still remain delusional) and shouldn’t be as underrated as an artist as she is:

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5) Gurl got SOUL.

Soul, like tone, is subjective – some people believe some singers have it and can connect emotionally to a song, and others could think the same person doesn’t. However, surely you can’t argue that Beverley, who grew up listening to and singing soul music and gospel all her life, doesn’t have soul? She can connect to practically every song she performs, both her own and others.

4) Gurl has RANGE!

People argue that Leona has a huge range and must therefore be better than Beverley, but here’s the truth – both their ranges span about 3 octaves but Bev has a strong, even and well-connected range from bottom to top and throughout all registers (Leona’s lower register is like breathy air whereas Bev’s is solid and well-supported, and she can go lower) and she can belt a lot higher – with consistency and ease (up to Bb5 or B5, taking on a more dramatic timbre) and even though her head voice hasn’t gone above a C#6 from what we’ve heard from her, it’s all pretty impressive.

3) She has practically perfect technique

Very few pop singers have perfect technique, but there are a handful who do have practically perfect techniques – and Bev is one of them. From her low notes to her upper belting and into her head voice her voice is strong, powerful, resonant and healthy. Adele, Amy and Leona have quite good techniques, but they have bad vocal habits and the former two were well-known to have had smoking and/or drug or alcohol addictions, meaning the more they sang while smoking and doing drugs, the more they damaged their voices.

2) She can sing Whitney songs – and sing them brilliantly

She was recently cast in the lead of “The Bodyguard Musical” as Rachel Marron and is the perfect person to sing Whitney Houston songs. She once said she wasn’t worried about singing the songs but more so about the acting – and she doesn’t have anything to worry about due to her amazing voice and her ability to sing them just as well as Whitney did – something hardly anyone can do. While her tone isn’t the same and might not be to everyone’s taste, she is in fact a superior technical vocalist, enabling her to have no trouble whatsoever with these songs.

1) She is a consummate musician

Beverley writes or co-writes 90% of the music she records, with only a handful being covers or written by other people, and she is an accomplished pianist (though doesn’t play it live that often). Check the video above of her performing the song “Gold” that she wrote and playing the piano with flawless vocals – even while clearly tired and slightly out of breath at the beginning when talking. Her technical skills of lyrical phrasing, riffs and runs and interpretative abilities when singing other people’s songs (which she usually injects with a bluesy, soulful or gospel twist – see second video below) is second to none, making her vocal ability and musicianship right up there with Annie Lennox as one of the top two female musical virtuosos in Britain.

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Vocal Spotlight: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Christina Aguilera

Posted in Christina Aguilera, Songs, Vocal Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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To celebrate both Christina Aguilera’s 33rd birthday and Christmas next week, this Vocal Spotlight focuses on her blues-inspired version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” which she recorded for her “My Kind of Christmas” album in 2000. Christina performed this holiday standard – written by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin and first introduced by Judy Garland in 1944 – a lot during her time promoting her Christmas album. On the majority of the album she shows off her vocal ability a great deal more than she did on her début and her tone throughout is light and pure and it is very much so on this song, in which we hear her voice span 3 octaves (Eb3-Eb6).

A lot of people criticised Christina for oversinging a lot on this album (or just in general really) but her vocals here are relatively restrained and controlled with minimal unnecessary inflections or runs. In 2000, she performed the song live with R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight, which made for a very beautiful and soulful duet between the both (though perhaps vocals are quite a bit more over-the-top than in the recorded version).

Christina also performed the song again just over a decade later in 2011 at Disneyland where her vocals are back to being more restrained and controlled than before (she was reportedly having vocal coach lessons around this time) and singing techniques showed signs of improvement, making it one of her best live vocal performances in recent years.

5 reasons why Nicole ain’t a “shit singer”

Posted in Female Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

Over the years many people have passed off Nicole Scherzinger as either not being a very good singer (dubbing her Nicole “Shitsinger”) or completely overlooking her vocal abilities – probably due to her more sexualised image she portrayed during the time she was in the Pussycat Dolls. However, recently some people have just come to finally realise that not only can she sing but she can do so VERY WELL. She’s probably the best current female vocalist out there right now when it comes to range, power and technique and can even blow Christina Aguilera (who trumps her in tone, versatility and artistry – in my opinion) and especially Beyoncé out of the water. And here are five simple reasons why:

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5) She can take on Whitney Houston songs

You should never attempt to sing a Whitney Houston song (especially “I Will Always Love You”) if you can’t sing very well, let alone at all. Here is Nicole spontaneously belting out the chorus on the US X Factor, displaying control, technique, power and dynamics in a very similar way that Whitney did and probably only Jennifer Hudson’s version has been just as good as this in recent years.

4) She can sing Britney better than Britney can sing Britney (not hard…)

Britney used to be able to sing quite well and had a alright voice (nothing special, but she was once far better than she is now, believe it or not) but here is Nicole imitating Britney (out of “flattery” apparently, but seems to be a hilarious pisstake instead) better than Britney herself can sing. Note the “Britney voice” is Britney’s fake voice that she employs to sound girly and whiny, while her real voice is lower. Even though she’s only singing a small part of this basic song, she shows control over her voice that Britney simply does not have (well, she doesn’t need it since she rarely sings live anyway).

3) She has RANGE!

Nicole has so far displayed a vocal range that spans 3.5 octaves and while her lower register is weak (because she’s a soprano), she makes up for it with a very powerful belting range that can go up to a B5 with consistency and ease (far higher and better than Bey) and a beautiful head voice that can reach the mid-6th octave (comparable to Xtina, though used more frequently than her).

2) She is classically-trained

There are very few popular singers out there who are brilliant technical singers but Nicole is one of them and here she is showing how her classical training (which a lot of people didn’t know about) has helped her become a voice to be reckoned with; her range, tone, control and technique here are flawless.

1) She can overshadow even the so-called “best” vocalist on The X Factor

A lot of people have hyped up about Sam Bailey from The X Factor being a great singer (and she is, don’t get me wrong) but in comparison to true vocalists such as Whitney and Céline (she attempted to sing their songs earlier in the show and they came off as sub-par karaoke versions) she isn’t that amazing. In fact, she reminds me of Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke on the show – poor wannabe imitations of Whitney and Mariah. Many people scoffed at the idea of Nicole being teamed up with Sam to sing “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls without knowing Nicole’s real talents and abilities but when it came to, Nicole not only proved them wrong and stunned everyone, she stole the show. Sam was taken to singing school and eaten alive, just as she did to Jahméne Douglas last year when they sang Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All”.

Take a listen to… Emily Jardine

Posted in Female Vocalists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

This is a post I thought I’d do about my best friend, Emily, who has been singing pretty much all her life, that I think all of you reading this should a take a listen to. She’s classically-trained although for most of her professional singing career she has sung pop, rock and jazz songs with cover bands as well as with a gospel choir to improve her skills in harmonies and her coloratura abilities (fancy word for the technique of being able to execute complex riffs, runs, trills, wide leaps, etc. with ease).

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Voice type: Lyric soprano

Range: Approximately 4 octaves

Emily’s musical and vocal inspirations are varied across many genres – from pop and R&B, to rock and jazz and from gospel to opera – and include Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Céline Dion, Beverley Knight, Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, Adele, Leona Lewis, Emeli Sandé, Queen, The Killers, Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé, Yolanda Adams and various other gospel singers, among others. With a vocal range that spans over 4 octaves, Emz possesses the ability to belt into the lower sixth octave (a la Patti Labelle-ish) and use whistle register (though rarely does or needs to do either) but through her great technique manages to maintain the same gorgeous, warm tonal quality, good support and resonance throughout each register and her whole range, particularly her head voice. Check out the video below of her singing her first solo with the Reading Community Gospel Choir for the “Sister Act 2” version of “Joyful Joyful”, as originally performed by Lauryn Hill.

Also take a look at her profile on StarNow for more information and a small selection of other clips that show off her voice and versatility as well as give you a taste of her large repertoire, from singing “Ave Maria” to “Skyfall” and from “Sweet Home Alabama” to “I Have Nothing”.

Vocal Spotlight: Dreamlover by Mariah Carey (20th anniversary)

Posted in Mariah Carey, Songs, Vocal Spotlight with tags , , , , , , on July 27, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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20 years ago, one of Mariah Carey’s most popular and biggest hits, “Dreamlover” (her 7th No.1 single in the US) was released. It was the first single from her third album, “Music Box”, which went on to sell an estimated 30 million copies worldwide, making it her most successful album to date. “Dreamlover” – which is more “pop” than any of her other singles she had released before, with a bit of soft soul and R&B elements – showcases Mariah’s softer, more carefree and less showy vocals but at the same time still manages to showcase her wide range (over 3 octaves), unique tone and great technique.

The song may not be a huge vocal challenge for Mariah herself, but her soaring, sweeping voice rides along nicely with the instrumentation and is still enough to make you feel in awe of her talent. Mariah is known for adding in the use of her adept whistle register in practically every other song, but on this one she doesn’t overdo it and reins it in tastefully, only doing it at the beginning and along with the hook at the end of the chorus. She performed it many a time live during promotion of the single and album and has done since then, but rarely added in most of the whistles. I tried to find a good live version of the song to post but since some were dubbed over, I instead chose the David Morales Def Club Radio Edit Mix because I really like it. Mariah re-recorded another version of the song and made it more upbeat, funkier and more vocally aggressive for this dance remix, which although has no whistle notes, it does give her the chance to show off her brilliant use of melisma (without going overboard again). It’s a shame she never performed a live version of this song!

Fifteen songs by Christina Aguilera that should have been singles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

A lot of Christina Aguilera fans have in the past, not always agreed with what singles she (or the label) decide to release – or don’t release, as the case may be in many cases. So here is my rundown of fifteen songs (1-2 from each album), which I think would have made great singles and done well on the charts, going by how popular they are with fans and critics, and how good they are when you look at them from a commercial point of view. Let me know below if you agree with my choices or what your picks would be!

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Self-titled début

So Emotional

Christina performed this song quite often during this era and it has that soft R&B sound that was popular in 90s to it that could have appealed to many.

Obvious

I read somewhere that Christina said this was her favourite song from the album, but I don’t think she ever performed it live, which is a shame because vocally it’s great and would have been another ballad to show off her talent and potential at the beginning of her career to further separate her from her lessor contemporaries (*cough* Britney *cough*). Although, admittedly, musically the song is a tad boring.

Mi Reflejo

El Beso del Final (“The Final Kiss”)

A beautiful song with beautiful vocals, although quite similar to the single “Pero Me Acuerdo De Ti”.

Cuando No Es Contigo (“When I’m Not With You”)

If you don’t know Spanish you’d probably be mistaken for thinking this song is a happy one, but apparently it’s not. I love the music that is quite good to dance to, very reminiscent of Shakira’s song “Objection (Tango)”.

My Kind of Christmas

This Christmas

On this album Christina began showcasing her blue, jazz and soul influences and her version of “This Christmas” was a good example of that. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” would also have been a good choice, since she performed it quite often.

Stripped

Impossible

Christina wanted this song to be the fifth single from the album instead of “The Voice Within”, but the label’s influence finally won and while that song is great as well, the Alicia Keys-penned “Impossible” could have helped her get into the urban market after the popularity and success of “Can’t Hold Us Down”.

Soar

Always a firm favourite with pretty much every fan out there, “Soar” is similar to “The Voice Within” but with more soul and gospel influences.

Back To Basics

Slow Down Baby

The jazzy, R&B track “Slow Down Baby” is one of the album’s standout tracks, particularly on the first CD and its very urban feel would have gone down well. The gospel-influenced “Makes Me Wanna Pray and funky “Here To Stay”, which was used on a Pepsi commercial would also have been good choices.

Nasty Naughty Boy

“Nasty Naughty Boy” continues to show Christina’s passion for sexually-charged songs in this era, although from the second album there weren’t many other songs that could have done as well commercially. The bluesy “I Got Trouble” and the gorgeous “Save Me From Myself” would have helped show off her softer side, especially when it comes to singing.

Keeps Gettin’ Better: A Decade of Hits

Dynamite

In my opinion, “Dynamite” was a better song than “Keeps Gettin’ Better” – the whole beat and sound, production, the lyrics and the restrained and relatively unprocessed vocals were, well, dynamite.

Bionic

Desnudate (“Get Naked”)

The Euro-pop sound of “Desnudate” had a lot of commercial appeal, particularly beyond just the US, where Christina didn’t venture out to to promote the album. It also showed her singing parts in Spanish, which a lot of people love her doing. “Prima Donna” and “Vanity” would also have been great choices, though their “boastful” lyrics may not have sat well with critics.

Stronger Than Ever

To be honest, there aren’t a lot of great ballads that would have suited being singles from this album but the emotional, rock-tinged “Stronger Than Ever” would have been the best contender. Unfortunately, it was only included on the deluxe edition of the album on the second CD so didn’t really stand a chance of being recognised  as much as others. The Linda Perry-penned track “Life Me Up” and the honest “I Am” may also have worked.

Burlesque soundtrack

Show Me How You Burlesque

Probably her best song on this album, this song was leaked months before the film was released and was an instant hit amongst fans who loved the music and the vocals. It charted in a few countries despite no official release, and actually performed better than the promo single “Express”.

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Army of Me

“Army of Me” screams “classic Xtina song” and was immediately a favourite of many fans and critics who hailed it as a follow-up to “Fighter”. Other good choices include “Sing For Me”, “Blank Page”, “Best of Me”, “Light Up the Sky” and “Empty Words”, though unfortunately the latter two were only included on the deluxe version.

Let There Be Love

A far better song than “Your Body” (although it wasn’t bad), “Let There Be Love” has again, been critically acclaimed. It’s a shame that despite the fact the song hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard Dance and Club Songs chart (a great feat when she hasn’t promoted it since November), the song was still left untouched. “Make The World Move” and “Around The World” could also have been decent singles.

Vocal Spotlight: Come As You Are by Beverley Knight

Posted in Female Vocalists, Live Performances, Music, Songs with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by Ain't No Other Tan

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Beverley Knight has always been one of my favourite female vocalists with her amazing voice that could put the likes of Adele and Leona in their seats and a strong gospel-influenced sound and soulful flavour to her music. It’s always baffled me at how she is still so underrated and relatively unknown throughout even the UK, let alone the world, compared to them and others.

Of her many songs that feature elements of pop, gospel, soul, funk, jazz and blues music, 2004’s “Come As You Are” (no, not the Nirvana song) – from the album “Affirmation” – is one of my favourites and is probably her biggest hit to date (it peaked at No.9 in the UK) alongside “Shoulda Woulda Coulda”, “Keep This Fire Burning” and her version of Erma Franklin’s “Piece Of My Heart”. This upbeat, rock-tinged soul and funk song, co-written by Robbie Williams’ right-hand man Guy Chambers, is reminiscent of old-school James Brown, with a more modern feel to it that fitted well, commercially speaking. When you listen to the song you can’t help but want to sing, clap and tap your feet along with it, particularly the middle eight, which has gospel shouts that hark back to Knight’s roots, and she really gets into it and gives it her all when she performs it live (see below). “Summer’s begun” the lyrics say, and yes, it really is a brilliant, soulful summer track. However, it’s her vocals that really shine throughout and prove her prowess and talent as one of Britain’s best – I mean, check out the G#5 she belts out with perfect technique, a great tone, as well as clarity, resonance and a lot of power that even Jessie J would be in awe of, for proof of her abilities.

And lastly, check out this amazing remix with a new vocals that she did and hits an effortless A5. Need I say or show you more?