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My take on the Susan Boyle phenomenon May 28, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

Everyone by now has seen replays on the news or watch the YouTube videos of the Scottish woman, Susan Boyle, singing on that British talent-search show. She has the classic singer voice and style. That style has lost favor in the past two decades to the diva image of modern pop and contemporary music.

Today’s diva must be slim to average build because a diva must be sexy and sultry in the classic sense. The singing style, however, is not classic. Instead of having a wide vocal range, divas compensate by increasing the volume. Louder has replaced a wide range in key. Singing that requires training and work to make notes last through breathing and lung capacity are no longer done. Instead a diva just warbles or flutters the note, ending up with a wavering sounding series of tones instead of one continuous one or a steady increase in pitch.

So Susan Boyle comes along and makes a splash by reminding everyone what used to be accepted as great singing. That is one reason for the splash. People, including the judges of these types of shows, just got used to the inferior quality of singing from divas.

The fact that Susan Boyle is large and frumpy looking should also give pause. People expect that diva now, forgetting that singers like Kate Smith and Ethel Merman were popular in the US and so was Sophie Tucker in England. There must have been many more singers of that past era and style, but that was neither one of my parents’ nor mine favored styles of singing.

This splash over Susan Boyle is just a nostalgic reverting back. Refreshing, but not surprising. It used to be that quality mattered more than flash.



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