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Just a commentary on Adam’s voice

September 30, 2010

By guest blogger jesha84, re-posted with permission from her Live Journal blog

I wrote a response to a segment of a review written by a professional opera singer from the UK (@Starlight8AL) after the NOLA show. Here’s the segment, followed by my response:

Pullayup, by SistaGlam

“Of course, we all know that Adam can sing, but he REALLY sings. By that I mean he doesn’t fool around with falsetto trickery, sloppy diction and lazy breathing, which so many pop singers do. He sings with a full head voice into his falsetto range and he never lets go of a seamless legato line. Like many great opera singers, he not only sings a musical legato line, but also a lyrical one and extends the line beyond the phrasing. This is particularly obvious in a song like ‘Soaked’ which is technically difficult because it ranges through his passaggio (register break), but you’d never know, because his voice is incredibly well-trained and he negotiates his passaggios so well. And like all the great tenors of the opera world, he knows how to milk every phrase for emotional content. And talking of phrases; not only does he keep his phrasing interesting and fresh, he is clearly hiding a third lung in there somewhere, because he sings some marathon phrases, along with those mad coloratura type passages, which he always infuses with meaning and purpose, whilst gyrating, strutting and jumping his way through the concert, all with perfect support and breath control – I defy any opera singer to do that! Another hallmark of a great singer is the fact that his diction is so perfectly clear and seemingly effortless in every song. And his pitching is another amazing feat of genius, because even great opera singers sometimes hit a bum note, but I had to wait for a fraction of a note in TCB for that to happen and he corrected it instantly, which shows not only impeccable professionalism, but also how aware and how in touch with his instrument he is. On top of all that, Adam performs with incredible sophistication and finesse, something which is not always immediately obvious when watching the videos on You Tube. Yup, he wasn’t kidding when in his audition he said “I can seng”!”

This is my far less professional take and I’m sure it’s nothing I haven’t said before, but when it comes to comparing talent, I have never heard anything like Adam, and I believe that if I searched the globe I would never find one. There were/are singers with beautiful voices and great talent, but almost all of them have a specific sound, or a specific genre that they fit into. It’s hard to imagine them singing operatically and then delving almost into a pop/hip hop sound. It’s hard to imagine them going from singing with sitars in front of a screen with flames and a sultry vocal flair, to sitting on a stool crooning in an alluring falsetto, to belting out rock wail glory notes while dressed in leather and vigorously stroking the mic stand between their legs. Few artists have the ingenuity to strip down a motown, disco, or even their own song to its bones and focus on the words, the voice. And if and when they do, rarely is it so stirring, so deeply poignant as to move people to tears from the beauty and raw emotion in the performance. Few can change characters so flawlessly, to go from a hungry, sexy beast ready to ravish the first person he sees, to a vulnerable, broken-hearted victim of a failed romance, back to the sweet, humble, boy-next-door with the winning smile and charming charisma.

I have never seen someone who can sing anything. We use that phase a lot, but when I really think about it, it is mind-blowing. If there’s one thing that Idol deserves credit for, it’s for giving us different themes every week, and during season 8, it was an open door for Adam to show us exactly what that voice is capable of. It’s powerful yet tender, stunningly beautiful, has the ability to move us to tears, make our jaws drop, and make us feel sexier than we ever have in our lives. Name one other artist who can do that.

Adam Lambert has shown us, again and again and again, that his musical and vocal prowess know no bounds. A creature of novelty, he is always ready and willing to try something new. And what fascinates me is that such a move is as impulsive as it is thought out. Acoustic WLL, Mad World, and TCB did not come about without forethought and what must have been a good amount of consideration and effort. But find me two performances of ANY of those songs that are the same. I’ll save you the time: YOU CAN’T. It’s that innovativeness, that impulsive improvisation that keeps us coming back for more and more. You never know if you’ll get back bending or floor writhing, or just how many hip gyrations you’ll get, or whether there will be priceless Tommy interactions. You never know if he’ll slow down the beginning of Fever and draw it out with some sensual and erotic vocalizations, or if he’ll change up the end of Aftermath and sing high instead of low, or what the encore itself will be. Always surprising us, we beg for more and more.

In today’s autotuned and, in my opinion, generally untalented musical industry, I am so happy someone like Adam came along. He has successfully fit into today’s young pop world while simultaneously creating something new. At the same time, he’s showing people what true vocal talent is, and I think we need that more than ever now.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Monika permalink
    September 30, 2010 3:11 pm

    This is a great article. I greatly appreciate the point of view from a professional singer who understands the brilliance of this young man. I for one adore him, as does my husband, my mother, my 81 year old grandmother, my 20 something twin cousins. We all love him. His diverse appeal, beautiful demeanor and of course brilliant voice are truly unique.

  2. magsmagenta permalink
    September 30, 2010 3:46 pm

    I also read Starlights blog and my reply is there somewhere, I’ll just agree with everything said here, I don’t have any technical words to express it, but I can hear all the extra qualities that Adam has to his voice and it just astounds and frustrates me when there are reviewers and commentators who can’t hear how exceptional he is. I just feel like screaming at them ‘Just LISTEN, can’t you hear THAT’
    And also the Multi-Genre thing is one of the major factors which impressed me from the beginning, The main Genre that I’ve been listening to for the past 30ish years has been Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, and we Metal Heads can be a very insular lot, and are very loyal to our Genre. The fact that Adam can sing Rock and Metal convincingly, and then the next minute croon If I can’t Have you or Tracks of their tears, and make me of all people listen, and top that off with the u-tube versions of Come to me, Bend to me, and My Conviction, and two entirely different versions of Change is gonna come, took me totally by surprise.
    How there are still people claiming that he isn’t that great a singer really must have something wrong with their hearing or even their brains. And those who insist that he needs to choose a genre and stick to it to avoid ‘confusing’ his fans simply don’t know what they’re talking about and have no place in the music buisiness. One thing he has taught this Metalhead is that genre is a really unimportant and outdated concept which has been imposed on us as a marketing tool by the Music industry and promotional media.

  3. Niamhcat permalink
    September 30, 2010 3:48 pm

    I haven’t convinced my opera snob sister-in-law there’s anything to even hear here. I sent her a couple of songs but she sneered at his “popular music” voice without even listening to them, in my opinion. *gnashes teeth*

    • September 30, 2010 4:09 pm

      Has she listened to his Brigadoon? That’s the one that convinced my professional classical soprano friend that Adam had a true talent. The pop stuff drives her crazy because she feels it doesn’t do justice to his voice, but Adam has to sing what makes him happy. – J

      • October 1, 2010 6:51 am

        It’s been ages since i made any comment adn had to stop and make one here…
        Come to Me, Bend to Me is almost (i say almost because the absolute favourite changes daily) my favourite song.. when i want to listen to pure crystal i listen to this one…
        I have made other people listen to this as well, those who just think he is all hype and i get them to listen and watch their faces… they are always surprised.
        I loved the comments at the top by the opera person and those following.
        As an untrained musical person myself i love to try to vocally copy what i hear…. Adams sound is so clear that it is nearly always easy to find myself actually harmonising with him while he hits notes i can never get near.
        I’ll finally get to stand in the presence of his greatness in Auckland. It will be a day i remember all of my life.. I will have to remind myself to breathe…
        Listening online, watching youtubes, hearing reviews from fans all over the USA has been wonderful… now in 2 weeks i will experience the phenonemon of Adam Lambert for myself. I am sooooooooooo excited.

  4. Mary S permalink
    September 30, 2010 3:55 pm

    It is so delicious to read such incredible words about Adam’s VOICE! It’s so easy to forget that the voice is beyond amazing because there is so much else about him that sometimes distracts us. *ahem* But the voice–oh the VOICE!!! These descriptions themselves are beyond amazing and totally, completely, dead-on accurate!!

  5. Barbara Van Dyke permalink
    September 30, 2010 6:37 pm

    thanks for all the inside info on Adam’s voice. If you listen to other singers today, you realize, NONE OF THEM CAN CARRY A TUNE IN A BUCKET!!! For example, last night on Glee, they spotlighted Britney Spears. Britney has a very weak voice, however she can move and shake her butt. I’m sorry, she has some catchy tunes with alot of electric guitars and rythms, but seriously, no phrasing, no holding notes longer than 1/4 of a second. And she’s not alone.
    One of the many reasons we love Adam is because he sings from the heart and his incredible voice carries emotion and heartbreak and loneliness, then redemption. He carries us to a magic place.
    Your expertise and training recognized immediately his incredible training and passion and whatever else magical that he possesses. It’s really fascinating to hear a professional opinion and informative as well. Thanks so much for letting us in on the inside info. Enjoyed this very much.

  6. Louanne permalink
    September 30, 2010 7:26 pm

    One line from wikepedia helped me understand legato:

    “In classical singing, legato can be defined as a string of sustained vowels with minimal interruption from consonants.”

    Makes a lot of sense when you think of songs like “Soaked”. Now I have to go listen to Adam with a different ear and probably become even more obsessed.

    I can’t get anyone I know to listen to his music, so it’s a lonely enterprise. It’s difficult not to be able to talk about him, and I must listen to him alone. It’s very strange considering my group of friends are educated and liberal.

    I know many or most of you are younger, but 61 is not too old to appreciate the beauty of the human body and voice. Adam is a gift from the universe, wrapped in stunningly beautiful colors I will always find captivating.

    My friends know not what they are missing.

    • September 30, 2010 8:11 pm

      You are in excellent company here. And you are never too old to appreciate a once-in-a-lifetime talent! – J

    • Barb permalink
      October 1, 2010 9:41 am

      I only have a two friends who admit they listen to his music as well. The key word here it “Admit” I live in a conservative area where folks are slowly warming up to the idea. I gave a cd to a friend I work with and she said oh my I did not know his music was so good. Little by little I plant my seeds of discovery on those I think might come aboard. As his music comes on the radio more and more I think those still in social shock over the AMA’s will come around. I know so many do not want to admit this but that did have an impact(first impression) on what alot of people thought they were going to get from him. Not to bring up the past however it is true; it was a water cooler topic for weeks where I work I know. It fell into the laps of those who were not so comfortable with his sexuality. Enough said about that. Just so you know you are not alone..Millions agree with you and I and blogs like this make me so happy to share my thoughts about our amazing Adam!!

  7. Shannon permalink
    October 1, 2010 2:48 pm

    I love to see professional classical singers fawn over Adam’s fabulous voice. It proves what originally attracted me to him– his incredibly virtuosic use of his both amazingly lucky gift and impeccably trained instrument. Lots of people comment, “I don’t care how he does it, I just love to listen,” which is a fair enough commentary. But to know a little (or a lot!) about what it takes to create those fabulous sounds just makes me more and more a fan. His voice really does light up all the pleasure centers of my brain. He is a walking, talking, singing serotonin overload. And the fact that it’s all wrapped up in that sweet, smart and sexy package is like icing on the cake.

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