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josie's avatar

Who originated that very annoying singing style?

Asked by josie (30931points) February 7th, 2011

Last night, Christina Aguilera sang the National Athem to start the Super Bowl.

She sang it in a vocal style that is very common these days.

It is that style in which the singer seems to try to cram as many notes and syllables into a single word as is possible.

A whole lot of the young generation of pop singers seem to like to sing this way.

I think it is really irritating, and I sort of hope it falls out of fashion pretty soon.

But the question is, where did this style of vocalizing originate? Who did it first?

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28 Answers

Ladymia69's avatar

Grrrrrr, I hate hate hate that singing style and I think it is the beginning of the deevolution of singing as an art…

VS's avatar

The first artist I can recall hearing do that was Mariah Carey. It is very annoying and I hope that next year’s biggest sporting event will get someone who actually KNOWS the words to the Star Spangled Banner in which case we won’t worry so much about how many extra notes and extra lyrics she can fit into her few minutes in front of the camera…

deni's avatar

Dumbos like Mariah Carey and Christina Agueileireria want to be different, I think? So they butcher songs with their horrible vocal fluctuations and hilarious hand gestures (Mariah specifically) and….voila!

Seelix's avatar

My first thought was Mariah Carey as well. I don’t know that she was the first, but she’s the first that I can remember. The girl’s got pipes, that’s undeniable, but her singing just comes off as laughable to me. Same thing for Miss Aguilera.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I don’t know why that trend is still around.They don’t need to do it.Contrived BS,it is….
This is how it is done.:)

He had a beautiful voice,could enunciate the words and put inflection in where needed.He was good :)

Here is a woman who doesn’t need to embellish…

Jude's avatar

I hate it.
Mariah Carey would me my “ggggguuu…uuuue.eeessss”.

SmashTheState's avatar

I think it’s an Amerikan thing. They pronounce “Jesus” like it has eight syllables.

I once had the experience of playing a roleplaying game with someone who was profoundly stupid. He was a wizard, and had to roleplay someone with genius-level intelligence. He did this by making non-stop comments of an incredibly obvious nature, saying the same thing over and over again using different, inappropriate words: “I behold a door. I perceive the door, for the woodness is most door-like. The sight of my eyes beholds the door’s wood.” I eventually had an epiphany and realized that this is exactly what smart people sound like to stupid people. My guess is that Amerikans add extra syllables to everything because they’re poorly-educated and they think having lots of syllables in words is what makes a person smart. It’s like the Hollywood stars who wear non-prescription eyeglasses because they believe eyeglasses make one look intelligent.

Foolaholic's avatar

Like everything else in this great world of ours, the free-style slide suffers from being overused. While there are several instances where this can be a great style, I whole-heartedly agree that in this instance, she was doing it wrong. Overkill is overkill, no two ways about it.

@SmashTheState That’s a little harsh. Sure we’ve all got some bad apples in the bunch, but you’re getting a little off topic.

wilma's avatar

I don’t know who started it but I sure wish they would not do it to our National Anthem.
That sad display last night at the super bowl was right up there with Roseanne’s performance.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s got roots in the Gospel tradition, which uses it abundantly in slow songs to wring the most possible emotion out the song. Remember Aretha singing at the Obama inauguration?

ucme's avatar

Probably has it’s origins in gospel music, although it’s kind of being raped to death by the warbling clan. My guess is Christina perfected that technique whilst sucking a golf ball through a hose pipe….she’s a dirrrrty birdy!

Wine3213's avatar

I was wondering if anyone else thought about old Whitney Houston.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
wilma's avatar

Whitney sang it beautifully.

Seelix's avatar

@wilma – True, she did. But Whitney is also guilty of the style of singing we’re discussing here. My guess as to why she didn’t do that in the anthem you linked to is because she was being accompanied by a band, and so had to adhere to their tempo. I’ve seen anthem singers who make a two-minute song into a five-minute syllablefest.

wilma's avatar

@Seelix I agree, she does sing like that the way that @josie describes often, but that night she didn’t. You are probably right that the orchestra was the reason that she sang it properly. I am thankful for that performance, I believe that it was one of her best moments.

Seelix's avatar

@wilma – I don’t mean to say that she’s not a great singer. She is, or, at least, she was (I haven’t heard her in recent years). It’s too bad that so many great singers resort to that style when they can perform beautifully without it.

gailcalled's avatar

Agueileireria… speaking of adding embellishments and extra syllables…

Supacase's avatar

I have noticed that Mariah, Whitney, Christina and several others did not start their music careers doing this. They just had great voices. After people noticed or they got more confidence or something, they started doing vocal aerobics instead of singing. Not sure if it is their decision or pushed on them by producers or agents? Regardless, I can’t stand it. I stopped listening to all of them when they started doing that.

I can understand using it for parts of some songs, but this overuse makes it meaningless.

sliceswiththings's avatar

What?? Which pop artist started it? Really?
It’s an ancient tradition. Listen to Flamenco music! It’s chock full of melismas.

Here’s a Gipsy Kings song.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Here’s the wikipedia page for melisma:

zenvelo's avatar

I agree that Mariah Carey made it popular. One of my complaints about American Idol is that they actively seek out that style of singing, no matter what the song. They do allow other styles, but not nearly as many as the multisyllabic warble.

bkcunningham's avatar

It is called riffs and in America it goes back as far as Ella Fitzgerald and her famous skat singing. I think these modern singers liken themselves to Aretha Franklin’s style. Thus the riffs.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Well, thank goodness those singers don’t know Ding Dong Merrily on High. Can you imagine how they’d ruin the “Gloria” bit?

Mikewlf337's avatar

I don’t know but I am glad I’m not the only one who thought she sucked at singing the National Anthem. They should have had the Glee singer sing it. As much as I dislike the show I think she has a passionate and emotional singing voice.

downtide's avatar

Well before gospel music, this style of singing was also popular in Irish folk music. There was an old guy at the folk club I used to attend, who sang like that. We all called him “Mr Modulation”. I feel sorry for Christina though. I know exactly how it feels to botch a song on an important performance.

Austinlad's avatar

@josie, you are so right! This has been a soapbox of mine for years. “Spawn of Streisand” is what I’ve called for years women who sing like this. It’s heavily gospel influenced, this style of singing, but I think Streisand and other white singers really brought it mainstream in the ‘60s.

meiosis's avatar

It’s musical narcissism, the singer showing off their vocal range at the expense of the original tune.

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