He said, "Lady Gaga can't sing"

November 9, 2010
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Today I got into a fairly heated argument with a lovely guy who believes that Lady Gaga cannot sing. I was angry not because he does not like her but because he dislikes her for reasons that are completely unrelated to her voice and musical abilities. He then proceeded to lump those criticisms into the following conclusion about Lady Gaga: she simply cannot sing, period. He fixates on her meat dress, on her "strange" clothes. The sad thing is, he doesn't even specify why he dislikes Lady Gaga as a MUSICIAN. DId he say he thinks she lacks vocal range? No. Did he say she can't sing on key? No. Did he say it's because he doesn't like her tone, the way she does phrasing or the way she handles her breath control? No, no and no. All he says is, her meat dress sucks, she's a freak, and she can't sing. He added that he ONLY listens to GOOD music by people who can actually sing, as if implying that I don't listen to music for those very same things.

Just to clarify, Lady Gaga studied classical music and Broadway for years, was accepted into Julliard for classical music/performing arts and has been writing music for big artists for years before she even put out her own album. She was a top student in the tough, private NYC Catholic high school she attended and could articulate her opinions clearly, respectfully, and coherently, unlike a certain young man I dealt with today. Suffice it to say that she is far from being untalented and dumb. Look up any live perforamnce of her singing with no back up instrumentals except her keyboard, and you'll see what I mean by her being able to sing.

My point is that saying someone "can't sing" - without even bothering to justify that statement in musical terms - just saying someone "can't sing" is vague, generic, predictable, overdone, and slightly pathetic.

Let me give a few examples. I'm not an expert in music, but I'm willing to take the time to forget about all the mean things I hear about a singer and just LISTEN. I'll detail why I feel the way I do about a few singers. Let's start with singers people like to make fun of:

1. Kesha - I think she can sing but definitely not in the conventional way. She is an expert in phrasing and shaping - yes, she uses autotune, but only for effect, and she uses it surprisingly well. I don't have anything against Autotune if it is used effectively. AutoTune is like any technology: used carefully, it can be beneficial but used carelessly and it can lead to disastrous results. The way Kesha raps and sings fascinates me - the way her voice rises, falls, falters, hesitates or pushes forward unpredictably. I don't think she's perfect. I don't like the way she dresses, for instance, but that is just me. But yes, I do believe that underneath all those party songs about drinking, yes, this is a singer who has her own thing going on and can indeed sing.

2. Jonas brothers - I don't like the way they sing, but I believe they can sing. I don't like the way they sound like they gasp in between each phrase and the way they tend to push higher notes, and I don't like their nasal tone, but yes, they certainly can sing. I don't like that their harmonies tend to be predictable but I'm not about to jump up and yell, "THESE ARE JUST A BUNCH OF F**s like some ignorant haters do.

I would go on if I weren't afraid of puttying y'all to sleep. haha

But I have some apologies to make of my own. When the guy I was talking to today said he liked Korean Pop singers, I myself made some disparaging remarks unrelated to their music, like the way they pull their tie in music videos. That is not musically related, and I'm sorry for that immature comment. Truly.

Hey, I never claimed to be perfect :)

I love discussions about music. I love when people's opinions diverge. But I wish certain people would articulate their beliefs in more specific and musical terms and not obsess over appearances.


P.S. All this from a girl who's played the piano since she was 5, has won competitions playing Beethoven, Ravel, and Ives, and still shamelessly loves pop music (and other kinds of music for that matter). I just don't think that they're all that different, to be honest.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

misstywaterfall said...
Nov. 22, 2010 at 9:01 am
THANK YOU!!! finally someone thnks the way i do about GAGA
schlage said...
Nov. 21, 2010 at 6:05 pm
Great article.Everyone out there who doesn't like lady gaga because of the way she dresses, Guess What. If you don't like the way she looks, don't look at her. It's pretty shallow to judge someones voice by the way they dress.
KrystalT said...
Nov. 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm
All I can think to say about this articli is THANK YOU!!!
youveleftmespeechless said...
Nov. 19, 2010 at 1:12 am
Awesome article!! :)
vivian78 replied...
Nov. 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Thank you!

Awesome username by the way. Speechless is such a stunning song.

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