Monday, August 3, 2009

The Beyonce Bug

Disclaimer (aka a Calm-The-Hell-Down-Addendum): Below is a seemingly unpopular opinion of Ms. Beyonce Knowles. While it is not pure hatred (I don't hate the lady, she just gives me a "meh" vibe in terms of vocal ability), the term "hater" might be thrown out by a few Beyonce stans. So, for all you "Hi, Hater" responders, please take a moment and actually consider that the critique just might be valid. People are far too comfy handing out this term and they never consider that the critique may have a point because they can't possibly fathom anything being wrong with a public figure they admire. Also, don't let the negative critique completely blind you to the fact that I'll have some good things to say about her below as well. But, uh, if you still want to toss out the "hater" label at me, by all means, go right ahead...but please believe you are also a hater for hating on my hating. ;)



So. I'm just gonna come right out and say it:


Beyonce. Can't. Sing.


Ok, maybe I should change that up a bit. Maybe it's more like:


Beyonce. Can't. Sang.


That's right, folks, I have not completely caught The Beyonce Bug. She does not really impress me as much as she does a lot of other people. Now, when I say I haven't "completely" caught The Beyonce Bug, it doesn't mean I hate each and every thing she has released to the public. Her songs are very catchy and a few of them are even shelved in my iPod Playlist as I type.


However, is she the best singer of her (and my) generation? I'm gonna take "No" for 200, Alex. Folks sure act like she is, though.


Thing is, her voice is perfect for pop songs at best. I do admit that she has a good "pop" voice and her voice is probably perfect for the upbeat, not-really-complex hit singles she usually disperses. She has a "pleasant" sounding voice, but a true diva-fied sanger, she is not. So, why is she now the go-to woman for power ballads as if she can even hold a tea candle to the original singer? To name one example: the choice to cast her as Etta James in the film, Cadillac Records. Now we know damn well she wasn't primarily chosen because of her stellar acting ability. It was more about her being a "sellable" actor. She's Beyonce, she of "She's So Famous She Doesn't Need A Last Name" status. Now, the second reason could be due to her voice. Now, in terms of acting, I'd say, yeah, she's a better singer in comparison. But, that ain't saying much if you factor in her alleged acting ability. Which is "zero", by the way, for those of you playing at home.

Recently, she -- for some reason unbeknownst to me -- was chosen to do an alleged MJ tribute at the BET awards by singing "Ave Maria" (along with a cover of "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan...another song I don't think she can efficiently touch). To this choice, I say, "WHAAAA?!". Do the producers at BET know the same "Ave Maria" ballad I know? That song is probably one of the most complex songs ever in terms of vocal range and they give Beyonce a stamp of approval to sing that song? That song requires an octave range that Beyonce couldn't even reach in a pair of her 6-inch stiletto heels.

Here is the audio from the performance (I don't think BET is allowing video to be posted on YouTube):


Even with her very own song, "Sweet Dreams", I notice she tries to go beyond her range. See link below:

Sweet Dreams YouTube Video (embedding is disabled by Beyonce/Sony)

At around 2:57, she attempts to reach a higher octave with the line, "Not even death can make us part". I cringed when I first heard it because I could hear the strain in her voice. I mean, are you serious? Is it really supposed to sound like that?

Look, it's not like I'm an older woman who wants to relive "the good old days" when music was better. I'm actually Beyonce's target audience to a T. I'm a 20-something single lady. However, I'm a 20-something single lady who does know what a real singer is and who is not easily impressed by what is being distributed to my peers today. And yeah, the bulk of the "real singers" happen to be during the "good old days". Ya know, when the instrumentals were natural and they complimented an already terrific voice instead of being digitized and studio-coated in order to support an "okay" voice.

I mean, what are the requirements for diva status these days? A pretty face, a bangin' body and a great studio voice? And don't get me wrong, it's not like we don't have terrific singers nowadays, it's just that they're not at the forefront...not like Beyonce. I know for one that songstresses such as Jill Scott or Jazmine Sullivan can single circles and spheres around Beyonce, yet you don't see their faces (or better yet, bodies) plastered over every single network/cable channel pretty much covering every song known to man.

And before folks start smacking me with Beyonce's lace front wig, I'm gonna say: Beyonce is pretty. She is. Even during her no-makeup days she is a cute lady. So, trust, I'm not one of those that automatically jump to saying, "Why are men fallin' all over her? She ain't even all that" regarding Beyonce. Contrary to popular belief, a critique of a fellow woman doesn't always have to be compared to her looks. But, I have to ask:

Are Beyonce's looks blinding us to the fact that her voice ain't really all that? To put it into perspective, let me point out a few of Beyonce's singing traits that cause people to faint as if the Holy Ghost has befallen them.

Things That Don't Necessarily Mean You Can Really Sing:

1. Hollering.
2. Grunting on certain words of the song to give it that "soul" or "diva" edge.
3. Vocal acrobatics that don't really makes sense beyond adding some type of "flair".

So, I have to ask, if Beyonce wasn't the Creole, long-haired long-weaved, light-skinned, coveted waist-to-hip ratio, glamorized lady she is today and was instead, an average wholesome girl, would her voice be as praised as it is now?

This time, I'll take "Helllllll Naw" for 500, Alex.


Love ya like Beyonce loves dropping 371 singles a year,

Cheekie

13 comments:

Marc_Ellus said...

She still fine as hell though, and that's all that matters. LOL! No but really, as far as her singing goes, she's pretty good, acting, progressing, but horrible. The main thing that made me a fan of her, (besides her being sexy as HELL!) was her live shows. She's an AMAZING entertainer and can give a damn good show.

Though I am a fan of Beyonce, I agree with alot of what you said. She'll never be J. Hud or a J. Sullivan, and Jill Scott is just out of the question!
You're not hating, just stating how you feel and what can I do BUT respect that, right?

Good blog!

James said...

If Beyonce was an average wholesome girl, with a cute-enough face, scrawny body, more style than substance, limited vocal range, mediocre acting skills, and couldn't pass a brown paper bag test, she'd be Diana Ross.

Cheekie said...

@Marc_Ellus: Thanks! LOL @ "she still fine as hell though". Ya know, I've never been "honored" to attend one of her performances, but that is one thing I've heard consistently...that she gives a great live show. I wouldn't doubt it. She always goes over the top with everything from her videos to her wardrobe. :)

@James: Thanks for commenting, man! Yeah, she'd be Diana Ross...but probably not today. Maybe in the 1960s.

Shawn Smith said...

I cosign on everything that you said.

I lost respect for Mrs. Carter ever since she did the Pink Panther soundtrack and that horrid song "Check up on it".

She said she didn't even like the song and it was something that she just threw together.

What????

How as an artist you don't put forth your best effort every time? That you just do the bare minimum to have something out there and pass as "music"?

Fail.

Selah said...

iConcur with this whole thang!

I mean I'm still gon have her Get Me Bodied on my iPod playlist at the gym because it's 6 minutes long and gets me through most of my mile on the treadmill, and I'm still gon watch the Halo video to drool at Michael Ealy - however, when it comes down to it, she is not a great singer. Period. Entertainer, sure. Sanger? Naw.

Longest Run-on Sentence EVER.

Cheekie said...

@Selah,

Thanks for stopping on through! Yeah, I'm not even gonna front that she currently resides on my iPod...she has catchy/upbeat songs perfect for workouts/dancing. But is she a sanger like folks keep acting like when they book her for certain gigs? Naw. lol

Anonymous said...

Sad what a musty fat black bitch will go through to down a woman at the top of the world. You have horrible ears if you think her voice is average. Professionals who review music all the time and listen to her LIVE beg to differ with your fat ass. You need to get a lapband and shut the fuck up cunt.

sincerely,
bish

Chyna said...

Anonymous said...
Sad what a musty fat black bitch will go through to down a woman at the top of the world. You have horrible ears if you think her voice is average. Professionals who review music all the time and listen to her LIVE beg to differ with your fat ass. You need to get a lapband and shut the fuck up cunt.

sincerely,
bish

Dear BITCH, oh you say "bish" and small letters as appropriate!

First, our blog does not accept the use of of such abuse of either the authors or our contributors. We are here to have meaningful, MATURE discussion so I suggest you participate in a blog more befitting your class. BUT, since you went there...........

First, I think it necessary to point out that you posted anonymously, which automatically places you in the coward pool. I'm not sure if you are male or female (my guess would be that you are a female in a male's body)
black or white (I'd guess white by your lame ass use of the word "cunt")or just black in a white body.
Your reference to my sister as a fat bitch...well, number one, she is not and if you're a white MF you should know by now, that black women don't subscribe to the waif look or the stick-your-finger-down-your-throat bulimic diet. However, I'll bet an ovary you're no fucking looker yourself. Got a face full of acne don't you? My sister is pretty (no eighty pounds of make-up that requires four hours of application and no weave). And she probably makes more money NOW than you will all your pathetic life.

I imagine you're some pathetic loser of a BOY OR LITTLE girl who spends countless hours on the internet drooling over Beyonce (who is NO FRIEND OF YOURS! SORRY TO BREAK THE NEWS THIS WAY) because you have no social life. Would you even defend your mother this strongly? You're a pathetic little insignificant person....I know you are.
As a person quite a bit older than my sister, I can say unequivocably, that Beyonce is not a fucking "SINGER" in the true sense of the word. Now don't go and hang yourself loser, K!

I grew up on real "SINGERS" and she would not have gotten a one-week contract when talent was the criteria and not looks or light skin. Noone is saying she's not pretty, but she's not a fucking runway model, she's a ...um...singer. If we were discussing looks, well, hands down, so pay attention moron.

Neither my sister or I believe she sounds horrible. We simply have discussions about how the criteria for "singing" has greatly diminished since years past. And, not just concerning Beyonce, but many others. And, I just want to point out that music critics who are 23 years old don't hold much stock.
Now, I'm not keeping my identity secret you coward MF...I'm Black and educated (imagine that)both outside mortar and brick and inside. You can call me if you think you got it to get with me and when you do that, I'll give you my address and you can come and see me "cause thing is"....my mother didn't raise no punks, but obviously... yours did!

Cheekie said...

*hugs to my big sis for holding it down*

@Anonymous (funny how folks hide behind an anon name BEHIND a computer...lmao)

My disclaimer was custom-made for commenters like you! :)

Three things:

1. Resorting to personal name-calling automatically deems your argument invalid. Know why? Because if Be-yawn-ce is truly as great as you think she is, you wouldn't have to stoop to non-relevant attacks in order to defend her. You either defend her singing or you don't. Calling someone else "fat" is not a valid argument to my opinion. I am only left to conclude that you don't HAVE a valid argument.

2. Like I said in my post. Hollering and grunting does not equal a full-blown singer. I am not even a PART of the generation in which true singers were born and I know the damn difference. Folks, you need to up your standards. Beyonce is, at best, a great performer. She is not a soulful enough singer to receive the type of acclaim she does. Her voice is monotone for the most part unless she tricks you folks with all the hollering acrobatics that is NOT singing.

3. You don't KNOW her. You are a fan. Not her savior. She doesn't need you to attack someone who DARES to think she isn't perfect. She has her mother, family, and friends for that. You will never mean as much to her as she seems to mean to you. Don't even sweat it so much. And also, love how you say it's "sad" that I "down a woman" and then you resort to do the same thing. Except worse. Because I didn't "down" her. I criticized. Which is most definitely my right and frankly, what she signed up for as a public persona. Badda bing.

In the words of the illustrious Willy Wonka, "I said, GOOD DAY!". Oh, also, sit the hell down somewhere. You need it.

Sheera612 said...

I know this comment is so late but I'm just going to say that I agree about her not being able to SANG. She sings perfectly fine though. Her technique and breath control are PHENOMENAL, especially in an era where Keri Hilson (who is horrid - look @ her performance on those same BET awards that you posted)
Beyonce's version of Ave Maria wasn't opera enough and when I first heard it I was sorely disappointed that someone let her butcher such a great song. I still listen to it though because for some annoying reason I can't find a version of it that I want on my iPod. Other than the Ave Maria thing she does what she's supposed to do:
1. Put on GREAT performances (if you want you can stop calling her a singer since you don't think she can sing, you can definitely call her a PERFORMER)
2. Sell records and
3. Draw crowds, despite being boring as all hell in interviews

Cheekie said...

@Sheera,

Thanks for commenting (no matter how late, I'm always glad to see readers participating!).

Yes, I agree that she is a performer, as I stated in my most recent comment prior to this one (in response to anonymous). I've never seen her live, but as far as live performances on television, she does in fact give a great performance, entertainment-wise.

And comparing her to Keri Hilson isn't fair as Keri is even less of a soul-singer. Saying she's better than a "horrid" performer, as you say, isn't really saying much about Beyonce. It doesn't take much to top a horrid singer. lol

My whole point of this post was not to downgrade her as an entertainer. She is no doubt, that. I was just disputing the claim that she is such a great "sanger". Especially given she is getting the same accolades as true divas of the past. And that, is a no-no, IMO.

mateosmuse said...

Hi,

1st time checking out yr blog, and 1st time posting.

Wow@ the anonymous poster. Reminds me of those stupid Beyonce Stans commenting on mto or bossip. Absolutely brainless to just rush out in defence of Beyonce without putting together a proper arguemnet.

Personally i love Beyonce's tracks, they are poppy and fun. Her voice is fine, but she aint no Etta James, Chrisette Michelle or Jill Scott. I cringed when I 1st heard her version of "Kissing You" by Des'ree. It truly broke my heart when i heard her butcher that sound.

BUT, i was impressed by her rendition of "At Last" and started thinking that if she wants people to take her seriously as a singer she needs to change the kind of songs she's recording. I thought she really sang "At Last" beautifully. I was really scared to hear it beacuse that is my song, and I hated the idea of beyonce ruining it.

Anyway, that's my input.

Great blog by the way.

keisha brown said...

big sis WENT. IN! love the family love!

hater: the word used when you dont have an actual argument in a discussion. also the most overused word in the decade.

but alas.. i agree with you.

janet jackson doesnt have the strongest/greatest voice, but she's a phenomenal entertainer.
bey falls in the camp too.