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So let's find out why we choose one singer over another

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I thought it might be fun to do another poll to find out why we choose one singer over another. Is it their range, the key, their looks (or the lack of them) their "technique" or how they made us feel....what is it?  Are we conscious of why we chose one singer over another?

This is not about finding out who we think is the better vocalist.

It's not a poll to find the best singer, but an exercise for all of us to get in touch with our inner selves and discover why one is considered liked the most by each one of us.

Here are 4 guys singing the classic tune "Unchained Melody" which, if I were a voice teacher, would make every student of mine learn to sing.  It's a beautiful tune.  I purposely left all of the original and well known vocalists out, including Bobby Hatfield who most likely made it the infamous tune that it is.

So listen to all 4 guys covering this classic, and think deep, deep within you about why you are choosing one over the other.  Then please share your thoughts as completely as you can.  I think this might be very interesting. 

Folks, please don't piggyback off another's reply..as in "Yes, I agree with" .....or a plain "Me too."

Commit to giving us a real good idea, a well thought out, comprehensive explanation of why you picked who you did,  AND why you didn't pick the other 3 . We're looking for more of an explanation than "I just didn't like the others."

Each person please provide their own perspective. 

Here we go:  4 talented singers, 4  different voices, 4 different (live) performances......

#1.  Jonathan Jackson

#2.  Harrison Craig

#3. Johnny Robinson 

#4. The late Johnny Maestro

Thanks very much for your complete involvement and participation. I think this will be very interesting! We might even learn something about ourselves that can make us even better singers!




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#2.  Harrison Craig

by a country mile.

The song, itself.

It has a weak energy. Inherently plaintive and beseeching. The worse thing that can happen to such a song is for a singer to whimper through it.

The worst whimpering was by #3. Johnny Robinson, with  #1.  Jonathan Jackson, hot on his heels. Then there was the non-descript version by #4. Johnny Maestro.

#2.  Harrison Craig manages to turn a weak song around, and sings it with more authority. He doesn't sound as if he is whinging about life or his plight. He sounds more as if he is communicating wisdom about his feelings to the woman. #1 and #3 sound as if they are whining to the heavens, rather than speaking to their loved one.

Harrison Craig is the only one who convinced me he was speaking to his love.

If you are going to serenade a woman, #2 is the only way out of the four, in my opinion. It is a no brainer. I have yet to know of a woman who gets serenaded by whimpering, lol.

So, for me, it is always about energy of the singer, and I don't mean physical energy, although energy of the singer feeds into the physical energy and sound energy.

Physical energy and sound energy are no guarantee of singing energy.


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I have not heard the original (gasp) or any other recordings until now so I'm coming in with a clean slate.

Personally I liked Johnny Maestro the most because I thought he put the most soul/depth into it. I have to admit though, the song sounds like a 1950s/1960s piece and since he's from an older era, I may be unconsciously picking him for the fact that people who belong to the song's generation often sound better than others who come a lot later. His version was the only one that had the harmonies too, and that definitely enhanced the song.

Second choice would be Harrison Craig. Although his voice may not be as developed as the others', I think he puts meaning and intention into every note. Overall he seems to be enjoying himself too.

Third choice would be Jonathan Jackson. I liked the middle section because he was more bold and authoritative. The beginning was too light for my taste, and I thought he was holding back. As for technicality, my only complaint is that his low notes were weak. 

Finally, Johnny Robinson's version is the only one I didn't like. For whatever reason, it sounded like a cartoon character and I couldn't take it seriously. A cartoon nasally voice isn't inherently bad--I just thought it wasn't appropriate for the mood of this song. 

So those are my thoughts. Really nice melody by the way!

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  4,2,3,1.  The first singer seemed to be singing for effect and it came through in the singing. No connection to the song. The second singer was strong and consistent throughout the song. What brought him down in my opinion was the accompaniment. It just didn't give me the right feel. The third singer was strong but the nasality and changing of words bugged me a little. The final singer seemed to really feel the song and was strong and consistent throughout.

   Unchained Melody always seemed to me to be about a loved one who passed on. The wimpery feel and longing for someone seemed appropriate. I never considered it to be a serenade.

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19 minutes ago, MDEW said:

Unchained Melody always seemed to me to be about a loved one who passed on. The wimpery feel and longing for someone seemed appropriate. I never considered it to be a serenade.

Well, that's art for you. it is a perspective that I didn't think of. It makes sense.

I don't even know if I've heard the song before, or whether it simply didn't register with me, and I have forgotten I have heard it.

The lyrics made me think of a someone trying to rekindle the flame of a long unrealized passion.

Just looking at the wiki interpretation...


 Instead, Zaret chose to focus on someone who pines for a lover he has not seen in a "long, lonely time".[12] The 1955 film centered around a man who contemplates either escaping from prison to live life on the run or completing his sentence and returning to his wife and family.[12]

So, yet another way of looking at it.

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I wasn't much of a fan of any of them. The first starts with constant glottal attacks in the introduction that felt irrelevant to the singing. There was no momentum or context for me.

The second seemed vanilla. Like it didn't step outside the shadow of the Righteous Brothers version. The singer looked seemed maybe a bit eager to please for my tastes.

The third was an interesting take on nasality and adding a harsher edge and could maybe work within another context, but combined with the 'traditional' arrangement' it sounded gimmicky.

The fourth was most polished vocal and probably the best but I didn't get a strong vibe of character from the singing.  

My favorite version outside the most obvious might be Sam Cooke's:

It's melancholy, with a lot of push and pull in the phrasing, which communicates conflicted nature of loving someone who at minimum is 'currently' out of reach and maybe permanently so. It's conversational, no nonsense sounding to me, direct, yet carries the melody well and isn't overly 'singy' or showy. I like the contrast between the delicacy and harshness in his vocals. It hits a raw nerve while also having a hint of beauty without explicitly intending to sound 'beautiful.'

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1 hour ago, Danielformica said:

i think they are all POOP!!!!


This was a good choice in that it offers something different, but it sounds a sounds a bit showy to me like maybe more about the singing than the emotional message.

I was actually thinking about the topic title a few weeks ago, what the key ingredient is for me. It's when I feel like I can hear and detect unique psychological states by the timbre of their voice. I think for me that might be the number one thing that attracts me to singers. So my favorites can all sorts of psychological states with their voice in the context of music and have it sound 'good.' It's usually has qualities more like these:

moaning, groaning, sobbing, shouting, hooting, hollering, wailing, crying, seething, muttering, whispering, snarling, cooing,  murmuring, roaring, barking, biting, pondering, interrogating, cheering, joking, mocking, praising, celebrating, confronting, yearning, hoping, challenging, testifying,  yowling,  sneering, smirking, howling,  faltering, slurring, raving,  Taunting, Rallying, Jeering, Asserting, observing, empathizing, sympathizing,  pleading, reflecting,

Sam sounded pondering, moaning, sobbing, cooing, reflecting, pleading, faltering, slurring, yearning, mourning and conflicted to me just from the sound of his voice.

I don't know if I could really detect Benson's emotional states if you took away the words but I think I could pick up some of Sam's. Benson's  was pretty singerly in that the vowels and the vocal tract supported the singing quite well. I think hearing their state of mind is the number one thing for me.

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I listened to Jonathon for 14 seconds and went on to others. My favorite is the low tech clip shared by Mivke. He had the right tone, for me, and not affected. It seemed "genuine," which can also be an affectation.

I also liked Harrison Craig's version. And I want to use him to illustrate I have made and certainly find in my own experience. Notice that he has a significant stutter when speaking. As does country legend Mel Tillis. But either one can sing clear as a bell. Why? Because you do NOT sing as you speak. Everything you do with singing is different. Exhalation, phonation, resonance, articulation. 

So, if you sing and you think, "well that doesn't sound like me," great, you are off to a good start.

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