Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bad Vocalists Who Front Good Bands

Today is dismally humid, which makes for a very sleepy me. In lieu of anything original or creative, I bring you yet another topic ripped off from the SomethingAwful forums to list some of my own personal choices since I'm too lazy to create and moreover upkeep an actual SomethingAwful account.

Bands who have really good music and loving terrible singers. When I first read this topic, Dream Theater instantly came to mind because I know most people would automatically list them as probably the worst. They came in probably second to Rush in nominations, but somehow Geddy Lee seems to fit with Rush's music. Maybe it's because I've grown immune to his voice. He looks like a Tolkien character, so it seems natural that he should sound like one as well. Actually, what I can't stand the most about Rush is Neil Peart's drum sound, which carries over to his Dream Theater understudy Mike Portnoy, so I guess the bass and guitar work are the strongest things Rush has going for them.

Dream Theater — James LaBrie is essentially Geddy Lee on steroids since it can be argued that the entire band is just Rush taken to the next level, and there have been reports of rumors that James LaBrie was specifically selected due to his ability to sound a lot like a heavy metal version of Geddy Lee. However, as nasal and whiny as you might consider James LaBrie to be, he's a virtual Pavrotti compared to their first vocalist, Charlie Dominicci, who was perpetually off-key to the point of sounding like Goofy got kicked in the balls just prior to singing in his junior high musical.

Faith No More — Probably the worst singer to ever grace rock music had to be Chuck Mosely, the original singer before Mike Patton. Inexpliccably, he only had one mention with no seconds to the motion on the SomethingAwful thread, but he is the epitome of terrible. Chuck Mosely sounds like he got punched in the nose directly before singing into the microphone on every single song.

Bloodhound Gang — Yeah, they're a novelty act to begin with, but for all of his lyrical prowess, Jimmy Franks couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. Even when attempting to be emotional, his unenthusiastic monotone still falls flat, particularly at the end of the lines, when it's apparent he's run out of breath.

Mekong Delta — I'm surprised no one listed them, but it could possibly be because almost no one's heard of them. The guy can do a mean
late Seventies Phil Collins, I'll give him that, but when he's trying to sing any of their original material he makes me embarrassed to be listening to the band. Musically speaking, Mekong Delta is hands-down one of the most talented thrash metal bands to ever spring up, comprised of some of the best musicians in the European metal community given free reign to write and perform the songs they want in the fashion they want, but as much as I generally don't get into instrumentals, I'd be willing to listen to Mekong Delta without vocals if the alternative is this guy. The instrumentals they have done have been mind-blowing, which makes them worth the listen. Their upcoming new album will feature a different singer, and hopefully he'll do a better job than the previous one.

Genesis — Speaking of Phil Collins, he's another prime example of a bad singer for a good group. I'll give him that he's emotionally engaging, but when you examine his entire vocal career you have to wonder what the Christ happened to him. When he started with Genesis in the latter half of the Seventies, he sounded incredibly close to Peter Gabriel, but then in the Eighties, it's like he stopped trying and his voice just went flat and got pushed straight through his nose. Of course when you consider that during the Eighties the entire band seemed to stop trying as hard, he was probably a good fit.

Simple Minds — I don't mind Jim Kerr past 1982, but his voice on their first several albums was embarrassing to the point of making one's fanboy pride want to curl up on the floor and cry itself to death. Even Jim has admitted that he didn't like his voice back then and said that he never really came into his own as a singer until 1995's Good News From The Next World. Granted, some of the band's most creative work came from this period, but between his voice and the acidic synth tone it's almost entirely unlistenable. I'd be pleased if they would go back and rerecord their first five albums note-for-note using modern engineering, keyboard technology, and Jim's current singing style.

Vanessa Carlton — I've commented on her
before. Tremendous skill in writing catchy pop songs, but she's one of the worst female singers I've come across as a popular artist. She can't carry a tune in a bucket and sings exclusively through her nose. She's perpetually off-key with the vocal lines she has written. I wish she would just write the songs and let someone else sing them. Imagine what the combined might of, say, her instrumental talent and Christina Aguilera's voice might accomplish.

The Cult — Ian Astbury may belt out some catchy, soaring choruses, but otherwise his deep voice and nearly constant failure to enunciate makes him sound like a screaming retard. The Doors' choice to replace Jim Morrison during their 2002 reunion tour with Ian Astbury perplexes me to this day as they sound absolutely nothing alike, and it shows in the songs they performed together. Travis Meeks of Days of the New would have been a much more effective choice had he not been hooked on meth at the time. The only possible explanation I can fathom for the choice of Astbury, other than that he wasn't addicted to a dangerous and volatile drug at the time, is that he was always a huge fan of Jim Morrison, but that alone shouldn't have a bearing on the choice. Ozzy Osbourne has always been a huge fan of The Beatles, but I wouldn't want to hear him butchering any Beatles songs.

Ozzy Osbourne — Ozzy has put out some kickass heavy metal, both with Black Sabbath and on his own, but he is a piss poor singer, and he is getting worse the older he gets. I've heard cuts from his upcoming album, and he almost sounds like he's just wailing out one incessant moan through each song. There were only two albums he sounded even somewhat decent on, Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 and his own The Ultimate Sin. On the former, he simply forewent singing and screamed the entire album and it actually sounded good. I can't explain The Ultimate Sin except that I think he didn't have to try as hard to be heard over Jake E. Lee's particular guitar tone. He sounds his absolute worst with Zakk Wylde, probably because he has to push hardest to overcome Zakk's over-the-top guitar wall.

It's getting late and my computer is running a bit sluggishly, probably also due to the humidity, to the point of only displaying two letters for every sentence typed, so I suppose that's all I need to submit for now. I may have more later on if I can think of some more annoying vocalists who front good bands, (which excludes such performers as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, who are annoying vocalists, sure, but they key is that they have to front good bands, and both Britney and Justin barely front themselves, let alone an actual band by any definition of the word).


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