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Vocal cover medley - would really appreciate any critiques

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Musickiks
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and will give feedback on whatever you would like as well.

I've been working on vocals, trying to hit a "professional" level for about 5 years now (but have been singing all my life), I just turned 24. My goal is to one day be a singer in a touring/professional indie rock band. Numerous teachers and studying, never have I come across anything in my life so insanely frustrating! I just came across a new breathing technique, and singing towards the soft pallete, instead of using so much pharyngeal resonance, which has really seemed to help, but I would love to hear others critiques and input...

Some others on a certain band's forum, have said I'm absolutely awful, but I don't hear it :(:(

Am I really that far off from sounding good? or even relatively ok?

I know sometimes when you get in your little box, you can lose perspective on how you ACTUALLY sound, which makes it so difficult...

But yeah, I mean my band luckily has some songs licensed in LA, and I feel I've gotten to a somewhat commercial level, but then I have all these people on this other forum that are just laughing their heads off...is it really that bad?

I'd really appreciate any and all critiques and will critique back. Please help if you get a chance...

0:00 - Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

2:45 - Gorillaz - Broken

6:20 - Gorillaz - Empire Ants

10:05 - Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill

13:07 - Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.

16:50 - Muse - Starlight

19:12 - Marcy Playground - Sex and Candy

21:15 - Radiohead - All I Need

25:08 - Radiohead - Pyramid Song

Link:

https://soundcloud.com/mb-vocal-covers/vocal-covers-october-2013

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Hi Sleepdeprived,

I posted a response to your post on Harmony Central, but I copy and paste it here too.

First things first... No. It is NOT bad. Not bad at all.

Secondly - Johnny Cash was the wrong choice to start off with, and here's why. Because JC has such a distintive voice and his range is MUCH lower than yours. So when you try to sing his tunes it almost comes off as a parody. And that's not your fault. Almost ANYONE who tries to mimic another singer that is beyond their range risks coming off like that. My only other negative critique fo the JC cover was that you were almost OVER-pronoucing some of the words, which only added to the parody flavor. I love JC's music, but it is certaily something I would not attempt myself. It's just too easy to pick apart because he had such an iconic sound. And I think we can all agree that JC wasn't that great of a singer, but he had a great sound.

On to the other tunes covered. So, I am only mildly familar with The Gorillaz and with Muse so it is difficult fo rme to speak to those covers. However, I thought your cover of Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy" was pretty spot on. The only real critique I can give you is that there was a bit of a "flat" feeling to it. When I say flat I am not referring to your pitch, but to your delivery. It's hard to pinpoint. Otherwise, I really liked it.

Finally, the Radiohead covers. Again, here is a very iconic group with a very distict sound. And with a rabid fanbase. Add all of those up and you're sure to get some negativity back when covering this band. Having said that I thought your covers were very good. I think your voice suits their style of music. And I think that is where your primary issue may lie. When covering songs you should always consider whether or not the tune you've choosen suits your voice and vice versa. There are a lot of songs I would LOVE to cover but I know that my voice and singing style is not suited to them. So I don't do them. Every now and then I will tread out to the deep end and try something out of my comfort zone but I always try to keep it within my range, i.e no Johnny Cash songs.

Bottom line: You have a good voice that comes off with a very clean sound. Look for tunes and styles to compliment that. It might not always be the songs you love or the style you're accustomed to, but we sing for the love of singing. At least I do.

Good luck with your endeavors and try not to take the comments of internet know-it-all's to seriously. ;-)

And get some sleep!

Eric

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Well, see, that's the "danger" of doing cover songs where others are expecting a sound like the original singer. I liked the "Ring of Fire" cover. And I have sang out my range, as well. Well, I mean acoustic range. I did JC's version of "Hurt" and may have done a few notes below the original. Though I don't sing that low all the time. I am more comfortable a few octaves higher.

I also liked the "Sex and Candy" cover. Agreed, spot on. I am not as familar with Gorrilaz, Muse, and I have not listened to much Radiohead.

Technically, I think you sang well. Anything else, to me, is style or aesthetic consideration. I have re-arranged melody and lyrics all the time.

I guess it depends on salability. Though there are famous artists who have covered songs in a different arrangement and vocal line than the original. Like Ronnie James Dio covering "Dream On" by Aerosmith. How come no one gives RJD, even posthumously, grief for NOT singing it like Steven Tyler?

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Hi Sleepdeprived,

I posted a response to your post on Harmony Central, but I copy and paste it here too.

bernie, thank you so much man! And thank you so much for listening...What a breath of fresh air to read...things were feeling very dark for a good day or two...you've instilled some more faith in what I can accomplish I think, hopefully, haha.

And one thing I've seeing from across the board is this "lack of passion" or "flat" sound without actually being flat. Gah! What could be causing this? I've heard I have an almost monotone tone at times...what could be causing this? Still not proper breath control? or thinking too much? A host of things? Perhaps just cause I'm covering songs and not singing originals? I think it probably comes across in our studio stuff a bit too...definitely something I want to sort out!

And yeah sleep, about that...

Well, see, that's the "danger" of doing cover songs where others are expecting a sound like the original singer. I liked the "Ring of Fire" cover. And I have sang out my range, as well. Well, I mean acoustic range. I did JC's version of "Hurt" and may have done a few notes below the original. Though I don't sing that low all the time. I am more comfortable a few octaves higher.

I also liked the "Sex and Candy" cover. Agreed, spot on. I am not as familar with Gorrilaz, Muse, and I have not listened to much Radiohead.

Technically, I think you sang well. Anything else, to me, is style or aesthetic consideration. I have re-arranged melody and lyrics all the time.

I guess it depends on salability. Though there are famous artists who have covered songs in a different arrangement and vocal line than the original. Like Ronnie James Dio covering "Dream On" by Aerosmith. How come no one gives RJD, even posthumously, grief for NOT singing it like Steven Tyler?

Really appreciate the critique! I agree singing out of your range can be dangerous. I guess I just don't want to set limits for myself, but I suppose there are physical limits no matter how much training you do...

Thank you both again! :cool:

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Bernie wrote:

"Bottom line: You have a good voice that comes off with a very clean sound. Look for tunes and styles to compliment that. It might not always be the songs you love or the style you're accustomed to, but we sing for the love of singing. At least I do."

So, take that advice, and heed it well.

While I may think there are limits in the structure of the voice and that, for example, I really do have the structure of a high tenor, that is not a limit to what a singer can do, per se. Although I would say not to worry too much about sounding like another singer. For example, on "Sex and Candy," I can hear some tonal differences between you and the original singer. But you sang it with the right feel, the right attitude, to where it was as good as the original. And by good, I mean salable, as in, if you recorded an album and wanted to have this cover on there, have your business manager pay a blanket fee to ASCAP for copyright lease and go for it.

So, how could a high ranged singer like me sing a low song like "Hurt"? Because for me, a low note is like taking the G or D string and tuning it down. The string can make a lower pitch, though it may lack volume and full resonance because it's just not the right amount of mass vibrating. But in my world of acceptable pop singing practices, I go right ahead and tune that D string down. Because I do not have to do the note like a baritone in the opera, carrying it over the footlights and an orchestra. I can be right up on a microphone, which is what I was doing.

Same with you for singing high. Or for singing style, though, I might add, choose a style you are comfortable with.

In a recently shared interview here, with Steve Vai, the god of guitar gods, one of his secrets to success is to work on your strengths and not obsess on your weaknesses. Now, others will say that you need to work on your weaknesses, too, and make those strong, so that you have no weaknesses, anywhere. Rule number one to success is practice, but most importantly, practice what you want in a way that strengthens you. And Steve Vai has been eminently successful, by any standards. People really started to notice him when he was in DLR Band. And side projects. As well as when he started composing classical music. And now, he is coming back to avant garde rock.

Usually, what I try to do, is find out what successful people do, in whatever field it is, and then, the hard part, do what they do. Which usually means defining a focus or specific goal. Believe it or not, the goal of being the greatest singer ever, of any and all styles, is not specific. And is part of why such an quest is doomed to failure.

Every pro singer I have read has said the same thing that Vai said, though specifically for singing. "Do what it is your voice can do, don't do what it cannot do." Of course, it helps to know what those "limits" are. But I am talking about singers that had pro careers spanning 30, 40 years or more. As professionally known singers. People such as Ronnie James Dio, Ron Keel, John Bush, Geoff Tate, Rob Halford.

And I know some others want to dismiss my mention of that book and that process. Or to disagree with these fine and famous singers who, by the way, never spent as much time covering songs as we do. They do what their voices do best at, and nothing else that you will get to hear. But it does not change the validity of their points.

And I am not saying that because you have a low-centered voice that you cannot sing high stuff a lot. You can. A number of famous singers are actually baritone but singing a lot in most parts of the tenor range. Though there is a difference in texture, I think, between the voice types. There are some pro singers that don't mind not being labeled a "tenor" in rock. Scott Stapp, for one, admits he is a baritone. And sold millions of records.

Phil's answer was the best, succinct, to the point. And I would also bring up the advice of Jens in another thread. Don't worry about how you describe the sound. Just make the sound that you like and roll with it. That is how I do low notes. I just go ahead and do some low notes, whether they are acceptable by other standards of technique or not. If it worked for the song, fine. If not, do something else (for the song.)

And of course, there will be the advice of how do know what your voice can do unless you try this or that thing? Also true. However, just remember some rasp or effect that sounds neat in another singer, natural, even (because it usually is), is not always something your voice can do in a healthy way. Some might ask me how do you have an A4 that sounds so solid and easy, as if you were just speaking it on pitch? And I could reply, well, it helps if you are 6' 6", about 225 lbs, that you were born in California and then spent a good chunk of your life in Texas. And that your voice never cracked. And that you still have your tonsils and adnoids. Basically, to have my exact sound, you need to be me, a fate I would wish on noone. :lol:

But the serious answer to that is, generally, practice, but practice with focus. Whether with scale or song, just don't do it mindlessly. Like Phil mentions, and I have done this before he showed up, take a troubled passage and wear it out. Practice just that part until it is as "easy as speaking," as it were.

Again, Phil said it best, you already have a good voice and the basics of a style. And I think you have the right voice to be a pop sensation, making politically incorrect amounts of money. Especially if you stick with the pop stuff. Yes, you have the voice for the more ethereal stuff and you can do that, too.

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