Why Isn’t the Winner Always the Best Singer?
My uncle and I love to nerd out about wine. The majority of our text conversation over the past 12 years or so has been about the wine we’re drinking and what we love or don’t love about it. When I visit my aunt & uncle in Kansas, everyone else is prepared for the fact that there will be lots of wine, lots of discussion of wine, and at least one trip to our favorite wine store. We always make sure to invite others to join us in our trip to the store which is typically received with a chuckle and a firm “NO, THANKS!”, likely because they know it’s not going to be a quick trip to the liquor store; we’re going to be there for a few hours discussing a variety of bottles of wine with the store’s sommelier and staff, asking for recommendations and pairings, showing each other different things we want the other to try. Plus, we might visit more than one store and go through this process at each one.
And it’s not over when we get back from wine shopping. Then, we go down to the basement where my uncle keeps the bulk of his stash. I drool over all the bottles and we discuss the wines he’s been keeping on his “Katti shelf”. These are typically wines he has set aside because he thinks I’m going to love them or because they have a story he is dying to share with me.
And then, of course, we have to taste and smell and talk about each one we open.
Visits with my uncle are typically a highlight of my year.
One time, we were tasting a delicious bottle of wine when he asked me, “if you had to choose between only smelling wine or only tasting wine, which would you choose?” I answered without any hesitation, “smell!” He smiled in agreement saying he’s the same way.
Even though we both would choose to smell wine over tasting it if forced to make a choice, the interesting part of that is that smell is the key ingredient to being able to taste. It’s why when you have a stuffy nose, you can’t taste any of your food.
This reminds me of auditions and singing competitions and top 40 lists on the radio. The best singer is rarely the one who books the role, wins the contest, or makes the #1 spot on the list. It’s rare because it takes more than just being the best singer. Being the best singer in the room is kind of like eating food with a cold – you KNOW it’s good, but something is missing.
To go back to wine for a minute, I would add that all the time my uncle and I spend studying the wine, smelling the wine, talking about the wine, and so on, ADDS to our abilities to appreciate the taste of the wine and the experience as a whole. In fact, frequently, we will gush on about a wine and all we’ve discovered about it, pour someone else a glass, and be surprised by their indifferent “it’s good” review of it.
Similarly, when I hear a singer that is fabulously talented but who is showing off ALL her vocal skill in one song with her eyes closed as she relishes in the sound of her own voice (something I call vocal masturbation), I have the same kind of apathetic reaction as my other relatives have to an amazing glass of wine, “sure. It’s good.”
How many times has your favorite singer – the one you thought was THE BEST – been eliminated before the end of the competition? It’s emotionally exhausting, right? I still haven’t seen it, but social media was all abuzz recently at the so-called “injustice” of the outcome of American Idol.
There are so many factors that go into who wins these things and who just comes close to winning. But one thing I know for certain: singing ability IS important. But if it’s all you’ve got, you’re at a major disadvantage.
Why is this a thing??
Because we need MORE than just a display of incredible skill, especially when it comes to music. Music has the ability to deeply and dramatically move us in very personal ways, and when someone is very skilled, but they fail to move us, we’re underwhelmed. We’re left wanting something more.
About 18 years ago, I remember talking to a singer (not a client of mine) who was passed over for a role they wanted by someone else who wasn’t as good a singer. I remember thinking to myself that I would 100% of the time rather watch someone play a role who is an incredible actor and only a mediocre singer than to watch someone play the role who is an incredible singer but only a mediocre actor. Why? Because good acting/good storytelling is captivating. It includes me as the audience. It gives me something to relate to, to identify with, and to feel. Good singing is… well, just good singing; it’s kinda boring.
It’s why I decided at the beginning of my career to do more than teach “just good singing”. It’s why, in addition to learning seemingly superhuman, limitless technique, my singers also learn:
- Strengths: how to identify who you are at your core, what your biggest strengths are, and how to maximize those so you are a walking billboard of it all
- Style: how to make a song completely your own instead of sounding like a copycat,
- Stage presence: how to connect to your song in a personal way and present it to an audience so they are captivated and moved by your performance, and
- Strategy & mindset: how to achieve your goal and get in the required frame of mind in order to achieve it
Even though I’m about as nerdy about vocal technique as I am about wine, I don’t want singers to invest in coaching that is only going to show them the mechanics of singing, when I know full well that there is sooooo much more that goes into a powerful performance than just good singing.
Right now, I’m accepting singers into No Limits Academy who are looking to become fabulous singers that achieve their goals because they are empowered with ALL the necessary tools to do so, not just singing technique.
Sound like you? Join my Academy! It’s full of singers who achieve incredible goals and, as a sidebar, are the most supportive community of singers I’ve EVER encountered. It’s the best place to be to accomplish BIG goals.
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