Friday, January 2, 2015

Songwriters Should Understand the Human Voice

Just saw this clip of Idina Menzel not quite hitting that high E flat in Let It Go. (A sad repeat of Oscar Night) I read an article where she describes her version of success as a singer is more about staying in the moment and connecting with the audience. And I totally agree with her on that...But, when it comes to those money notes, an audience expects a professional singer to be able to hit them consistently. And even though the person writing the article blames the cold night air for her sour note, there is more to it than cold air. One of the main things I want to address is that in this case, I don't solely put the responsibility on the singer. I think songwriters (and the music producers that back them up) need to get a clue when they are writing for men and women and realize where the bridges are in the voice and write songs that comply and in turn make the songs more "singer friendly" if you will. If this song was a step lower or even a half step lower, Idina, being the amazing belter that she is, would have a much easier time hitting the note on key and it would still be just as impressive given her talent to back it up.

Here is the clip:

And here is a clip of Idina singing the night after the Oscars on the Tonight Show: (she hits the note around 3:27)

In this clip, guess what? The song is a half step lower. She hits a high D. Still impressive and beautifully done. Why, didn't the songwriters just do that in the first place? By pushing belters like Miss Menzel to sing with so much presence of chest voice up there on the brink of the second bridge is just cruel. And the poor thing is left feeling like it is okay (as she said in the article) to hit 75% of the notes in a two and a half hour musical. (referring to singing in a Broadway show). When I read that, I felt bad for her and other singers in the popular music world who are singing songs that are written with unrealistic expectations. As a result they feel insecure when they perform them. Hoping that tonight all the stars will align and the note will come out strong and on pitch. That is no way to perform a song. So, here is a plea to all songwriters and music producers (I am looking at you David Foster) that I want to put out in the universe:

"PLEASE. Understand the Human Voice and how it works and write songs accordingly. Thank you, All Singers Everywhere."

*On a side note, if Idina were a classically trained singer or had a strong mix she would have an easier time negotiating those notes, BUT, the fact remains, even for a legit soprano or someone with a strong mix. A bridge is a bridge. Songwriters still need to understand and write accordingly.

**Off my soap box