Tuesday 1 March 2011


I was thinking about singing last night after having watched an actress warble through a song during the Oscars telecast. I had to hand it to her for trying to be a singer; then again, she’s an actress, so I suppose she was ‘acting’ like a singer. To her credit she held her own considering it is not her day job so to speak.

Of course it got me thinking what constitutes good singing, and not just from a technical standpoint because there are many great technical singers out there. They hit every note, they have great breath control, they know just where to add the vibrato and where not to. But to me, I’ve always defined a great singer by their ability to perform, and moreover, their ability to let go within the moment. I mean truly let go.

I know, it sounds so simple. And trust me, I’m sure Yoko Ono has let go in her time and lost herself in her crazy squawking cat ramblings (seriously, I'm not even sure you can call what she does singing, can you?) so there are exceptions to this rule of course. But when you think about the greatest performers of our day, they are the icons that they are because they can do just that, perform. They don’t just sing. They connect to the song on a deep emotional level and translate in a way that only they can, usually with unbridled abandon. This isn’t always pretty – you know the types that make those crazy ugly singing faces - and sometimes they even look like they’re in some drug induced parallel universe. Then again, a lot of them probably are.

I used to sing – in my family I suppose it was genetically predisposed. And whilst I loved it, and definitely think I had a lot my moments where things just aligned and the notes sailed out and went exactly where I wanted them to, there was usually always thought involved. I was younger, more unaware of myself and even more problematic, more aware of everyone else. Hence, when I sang, I would critique myself as I went along, my head was a script of ‘oh lord woman, you’re sharp, rein it in for god sakes!’ I rarely had that outer body experience where the song is being sung, but you are not really aware of doing it. When it happens you know it, trust me, and it feels better than just about anything out there.

So who lets go? The list is pretty long: Mick Jagger, Aretha, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix (to name a very few)....Milli Vanilli. Just kidding. And, well, I know I’m biased, but that dude that wrote My Way :-). The man can sing the heck out of just about anything and never hits a wrong note. In all the years I’ve seen him perform, I don’t think I’ve ever heard him phone it in. It’s just unabashed, sing till the veins on your head pop. When I was little I used to go to his shows and get very upset watching him cause I was convinced he would sing so hard he'd have a brain aneurysm. Then I’d spill my Shirley Temple all over my sisters and me and the focus would shift to the stink eyes I was getting from across the table. God I miss Shirley Temples.

So next time you’re shy about singing in front of your friends, husband, kids, bus driver, own it and sing that song like it’s got legs. Really long kick ass Elle Macpherson legs. Trust me, you’ll be surprised at the reactions you’ll get….

Um, actually you may not want to sing at your bus driver as you might get sectioned. Just a thought.
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