How Important Is A Great Vocalist?


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Rhyan_EG
02-29-2008, 11:13 PM
Title pretty much sums it up...

Can a band survive on mediocre vocals? Im thinking of bands like Slayer, or Venom. I have a singer ready for a band, but he's inexperienced, and not the greatest vocalist of all time, but can we still gain popularity with him, or should we start looking for a new guy?

funky_c
02-29-2008, 11:20 PM
No matter what anyone says, a singer has a very significant impact on a band's performance to a non-specific audience. The reason for this is because the untrained ear will always tune into the vocals first because people can understand words. People who like music like slayer and stuff have tuned thier ears to focus on the guitars, and thus the singer acts to emphasize the distortion of the guitar. Generally, i'd recommend having a real singer who can sing clear words/notes in order to make your band less genre-specific.

NorfIrIon
02-29-2008, 11:20 PM
Manowar, Dragonforce.
Have I said enough yet or should I go on?

Edit: Side note: Post not to be misconstrued as to imply that I suggest you keep your mediocre vocalist, just saying it's obviously possible.

Dunjma
02-29-2008, 11:21 PM
what about bands like "the offspring" and "blink 182" or (to a degree) "green day"
none of them are really great singers yet they got pretty big

SSDDPunkRocker
03-01-2008, 01:06 AM
what about bands like "the offspring" and "blink 182" or (to a degree) "green day"
none of them are really great singers yet they got pretty big

Dexter from the Offspring actually has a decent voice.

Tom Delonge, Mark Hoppus, and Billie Joe Armstrong (being a huge fan of all these bands still) have no real singing talent at all. They did, however, did what singers bands like AC/DC, Nickelback... did by finding a way their voice sounds good with music. Seriously, imagine if Killswitch Engage's singer tried out Tom Delonge's voice in a song. Yeah, no.

So if your singer isn't really all that good, just try helping him find a suitable vocal range and style to go along to your music that makes you sound unique.

axemanchris
03-01-2008, 01:43 AM
All good advice. People will perceive a mediocre band with a great singer to be far superior to a great band with a mediocre singer.

Dexter is a good singer. Blink, Green Day, etc. - right, not great singers, but they stay within their range and stay in tune. If your singer can't stay in tune, don't take him on.

Manowar and Dragonforce are great examples of what happens to an awesome band without great singers. Nobody except guitar players and what-not know who they are. Whereas *everybody* knows who REM (great example of mediocre band + great singer + great songs = huge popularity!) and Iron Maiden are.

CT

moptopguitar
03-01-2008, 01:55 AM
my advice: find a singer who's good and has something unique about their voice. the singers voice has to stand out from the rest. all the great bands has a vocalsit that stands out from everybody else, so a great lead singer helps. funky c knows what hes talking about too.

Zycho
03-01-2008, 01:19 PM
Singing makes or breaks a band. A good singer will help you and a bad singer will destroy you.

kaptink
03-01-2008, 02:55 PM
I'd say that any singer above a certain level is fine, say any competent singer. but if you want him to scream/wail or be a vocalist like Steve Tyler or Waxel Rose you're going to have to look for someone who on a higher level.

Arca301
03-01-2008, 04:07 PM
I think "unique" is more important then "good", but both are required to a degree.

rizo299
03-01-2008, 04:33 PM
Vocalist needs personality, attitude and stage presence above being a complete virtuoso. Most of those things come with time though.

Armagedn
03-01-2008, 04:54 PM
Steve Tyler or Waxel Rose
Waxel? It's spelled Axl...

And a singer can be important or can not be important. Steve Vai and Joe Satriani can't sing, and they seem to be doing alright.

Hammerzeit
03-01-2008, 06:42 PM
Technically its W. Axl Rose. First name is William i think.

A good singer is very important. Like someone said, great bands are remebered by their frontmen.

axemanchris
03-01-2008, 06:56 PM
Yeah, they're (Vai, Satch) doing alright..... but in a niche market that includes guitar players and precious little else. As a guitar player, it can be hard to step outside of our little "guitar player bubble" and recognize that these people we hold up as heroes aren't as well-known or don't sell as well as we would like to think they do.

In my experience, they are great cases of great technical skill, but also like Yngwie, Dream Theatre, etc. can't write a song to save their lives. To that end, they tend to hook up with people (like David Lee Roth, etc.) who can, and that's when popularity and universal appeal happen.

IMHO, your best bets happen with players like Nuno with Extreme, Pete Lesperance with Harem Scarem, Gilbert with Mr. Big, Slash with G'n'R, Vai with Roth, etc. where you had great players hook up with great writers to release great albums - and the playing on them was such that the songs always came first, but at the same time, were "shred-tastic" guitar albums too.

CT

Armagedn
03-01-2008, 07:04 PM
@ axemanchris:
You are absolutely right. I left out some vital information.

@ Hammerzeit:
Yeah, it is William Axl Rose. He kept his real first name so his initials would spell W.A.R. I forgot about that...

Gurgle!Argh!
03-02-2008, 09:19 AM
the singer is the thing which limits bands more than anything. the band i'm in at the moment is (in my opinion), really good. i think we're pretty tight, we're musically interesting, and the singer writes really, really good songs. but his voice just isn't great. his sense of pitch isn't perfect, sometimes he tries too much, and his tone isn't perfect. i mean, he's not bad. but he just isn't a great singer. and ultimately, thats the big limitation on our band. which is a shame, but y'know, he graduates this summer so we're on a bit of a time limit anyway etc etc so its not a massive deal.

but basically, yeah. generally, the singer is the limitation. s/he needs to be either good, or needs to know their limitations well enough to do what they can do well.

JLT73
03-02-2008, 10:07 AM
the singer is the thing which limits bands more than anything. the band i'm in at the moment is (in my opinion), really good. i think we're pretty tight, we're musically interesting, and the singer writes really, really good songs. but his voice just isn't great. his sense of pitch isn't perfect, sometimes he tries too much, and his tone isn't perfect. i mean, he's not bad. but he just isn't a great singer. and ultimately, thats the big limitation on our band. which is a shame, but y'know, he graduates this summer so we're on a bit of a time limit anyway etc etc so its not a massive deal.

but basically, yeah. generally, the singer is the limitation. s/he needs to be either good, or needs to know their limitations well enough to do what they can do well.

I'm in the same exact boat with one of my bands

Slaytanic1993
03-02-2008, 04:15 PM
Get a singer who is unique as someone posted before.
If its their pronunciation to the grain of their vocals, unique = great singer in my opinion (as long as they can stay in key)

If you can't find a unique singer, but if you can find a good singer (like say Bruce Dickinson isn't unique, but he is an amazing vocalist) go with 'em, it's better than having a horrific vocalist who cannot stay in tune

Symmetry4321
03-02-2008, 04:48 PM
Slayer survived being a bad band, nevermind having a bad vocalist, if your vocalist sounds at least bearable and the rest of you are tight, good and energetic on stage then i should think that you should be ok

godisasniper
03-02-2008, 06:55 PM
I have what I wouldn't say is a bad voice, but it's different, more nasally than most other singers. I know this and I can make it less obvious by singing as loudly as possible (that takes out some nasal qualities) and then I can take the volume down a notch and I sound completely different...it really makes my stuff sound very different from other music, and people like that.

Haunted_Devil
03-02-2008, 07:30 PM
Personally I'd say if he's not awful then he's worth keeping, as practicing with the band he's obviously improve. You could also ask him to take lessons outside of band practices too, as they'd prove very useful.

But, though there aren't many bands that apply to this, some bands get huge off singers that are awful. I'm thinking of Tom DeLonge, Johnny Rotten, etc.

stringmagician
03-02-2008, 08:46 PM
A singer needs either a memorable voice or an amazing voice. Either way they need to be able to sing well. Without that they'll only bring you down.

brucehead
03-02-2008, 10:08 PM
yea but remember it's not just his vocal talent. if a singer has an incredible stage presence and you just love watching him/her then you might not remember their lackluster vocal talent but remember when he/she hopped on the the floor tom and sang with the drummer. just keep that in mind

z4twenny
03-02-2008, 10:13 PM
how important is a great vocalist?

depends on the genre but even the most brutal of metal needs a good vocalist.

SlackerBabbath
03-03-2008, 06:22 AM
In vocals, it's not what you've got, but how you use it.
Lemmy, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Johnny Rotten... All these guys ain't exactly what you'd call great vocalists but their style suits the music that they do.

binkythefurious
03-03-2008, 06:39 AM
Was hoping someone would mention Johnny Rotten, he couldnt sing for crap but knew how to work the crowd, and now hes legendary for it in his own way.

Maybe instead of focusing on your singer's technical ability, see if you can figure out what makes his voice unique, and get him to emphasise these attributes. You could find your band having a trademark sound because of it, which can be equally as valuable, maybe even more than a technically capable singer.

BrianApocalypse
03-03-2008, 06:39 AM
I don't know about that, Lou Reed is pretty damn good. Lovely tone, I can sort of see what you mean though.

Joey Ramone has a lovely voice, it might be a little unconventional, possibly, but you're taking a quantum leap by comparing him to Lemmy or Bob Dylan.

I'd say that charisma and presence are the most important criteria. Anyone generic or bland isn't going to work

*Brian resists the temptation to say "unless it's an indie band!"*

It's fairly unlikely that an amateur vocalist will be able to do that off the hook, unless he has a very special character. I'm pretty dynamic, but it's taken me 5 years to be able to entertain a crowd (thank you, Ian Anderson!)

sheumack111
03-03-2008, 06:58 AM
Yeah, they're (Vai, Satch) doing alright..... but in a niche market that includes guitar players and precious little else. As a guitar player, it can be hard to step outside of our little "guitar player bubble" and recognize that these people we hold up as heroes aren't as well-known or don't sell as well as we would like to think they do.

In my experience, they are great cases of great technical skill, but also like Yngwie, Dream Theatre, etc. can't write a song to save their lives. To that end, they tend to hook up with people (like David Lee Roth, etc.) who can, and that's when popularity and universal appeal happen.

IMHO, your best bets happen with players like Nuno with Extreme, Pete Lesperance with Harem Scarem, Gilbert with Mr. Big, Slash with G'n'R, Vai with Roth, etc. where you had great players hook up with great writers to release great albums - and the playing on them was such that the songs always came first, but at the same time, were "shred-tastic" guitar albums too.

CT

Malmsteen and DT are crap songwriters??? What the hell??? :no: Yes they dont write Pop songs....

Id much rather listen to Rising Force then Mr Big Or Dream Theater then Extreme.

SlackerBabbath
03-03-2008, 07:09 AM
I don't know about that, Lou Reed is pretty damn good. Lovely tone, I can sort of see what you mean though.

Joey Ramone has a lovely voice, it might be a little unconventional, possibly, but you're taking a quantum leap by comparing him to Lemmy or Bob Dylan.
What I meant was, non of them have a great range, they're nothing like f'rinstance, Ronnie James Dio, and you'll never hear them doing any vocal acrobatics, but they just work somehow without having to have that ability.

I'd say that charisma and presence are the most important criteria. Anyone generic or bland isn't going to work

*Brian resists the temptation to say "unless it's an indie band!"*

It's fairly unlikely that an amateur vocalist will be able to do that off the hook, unless he has a very special character. I'm pretty dynamic, but it's taken me 5 years to be able to entertain a crowd (thank you, Ian Anderson!)
Agreed, it just takes time sometimes to find your singer's niche.
It's all a learning process.

CrazyDavey
03-03-2008, 03:53 PM
the thing is, theres a difference between a good singer and a good frontman.

I'd rather have a good frontman, I think.

Cameronrobson
03-03-2008, 03:54 PM
For mainstream appeal it's important.
Otherwise you don't even need one.

tehbensonzorz
03-03-2008, 07:10 PM
if your band is like Slayer or Venom, you ought to be good with a vocalist reminiscant of that.

axemanchris
03-03-2008, 09:03 PM
In vocals, it's not what you've got, but how you use it.
Lemmy, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Johnny Rotten... All these guys ain't exactly what you'd call great vocalists but their style suits the music that they do.

True enough, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

CT

axemanchris
03-03-2008, 09:05 PM
For mainstream appeal it's important.
Otherwise you don't even need one.

Well... I guess. But it depends on what you want to do with it. If you're playing at a bar and you want people to stay for more than two songs, you need a decent vocalist. If you have a CD and you want people to buy it, you need a decent vocalist. You get the idea.

CT

axemanchris
03-03-2008, 09:11 PM
Malmsteen and DT are crap songwriters??? What the hell??? :no: Yes they dont write Pop songs....

Id much rather listen to Rising Force then Mr Big Or Dream Theater then Extreme.

My own personal opinion, but that is exactly what I am suggesting. My Yngwie albums and my Dream Theatre album never get played. They're right up there with "The Best of Kansas." :haha When I want to listen to brilliant musicianship, I can put them on. There is no doubting their skill and artistry on their instruments, and even from a compositional angle, there is probably some value there. But the "song genre" (yes, within the broader category of musical compositions) should touch the listener in some way - typically with a memorable melody that gets put together with a good lyric. Not from a perspective of, "Holy crap... did you hear that?"

The only songs I can remember as I sit here without going back and listening are "You Don't Remember" by Yngwie and "Pull Me Under" by Dream Theatre. Maybe it is a pop perspective, but I think a good song stays with you. Everything else is gone within minutes of listening to the albums.

CT

SlackerBabbath
03-04-2008, 06:47 AM
True enough, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

CT
Oh I dunno, I see more bands with a vocalist with a small range than bands with a singer with a great range, simply because great range singers tend to just be born naturaly talented, but are rareaties.
That said, there aren't that many that you could describe as a truly great frontman, but they all have that potential to become a great frontman as they gain experience.

axemanchris
03-04-2008, 08:11 PM
Okay, fine. I was thinking more about people who really don't sing well at all - your Bob Dylans, Johnny Rottens, etc. They can't sing anything in tune to save their souls for the most part.

IMHO, a good singer isn't necessarily a Steven Tyler or Bruce Dickenson that can do practically anything and give it hell. They're great singers. People seem to be dumping on the Blink182 guy. Sure, not a 'great' singer, but by no means terrible. He knows his voice, stays within his abilities, and most importantly, stays in tune. That's what I was getting at as being especially important, and more the rule than the others.

CT

Fried Cheese
03-04-2008, 08:17 PM
Vocalists are very important. They need to be in tune and in shape. If they aren't, then that sucks for you. My band has such a horrible vocalist that we're all embarrassed everytime we make a song. That's why we only made like three songs. If you have a good vocalist, you'll have a thriving successful and happy band. You must be happy with your band members if you want to have a good long lasting band. If you don't think your vocalist is up to par, don't hire him. You'll just be unhappy if it doesn't work out then you'll regret your decision.

SlackerBabbath
03-05-2008, 04:31 AM
Okay, fine. I was thinking more about people who really don't sing well at all - your Bob Dylans, Johnny Rottens, etc. They can't sing anything in tune to save their souls for the most part.

IMHO, a good singer isn't necessarily a Steven Tyler or Bruce Dickenson that can do practically anything and give it hell. They're great singers. People seem to be dumping on the Blink182 guy. Sure, not a 'great' singer, but by no means terrible. He knows his voice, stays within his abilities, and most importantly, stays in tune. That's what I was getting at as being especially important, and more the rule than the others.

CT
Fair enough.
I think the main thing that comes out of this is that a vocalist needs to have a good sense of timing, (which Johnny Rotten always had going for him) and also needs to know how to get an effective sound out of his mouth, but doesn't neccesarily need to be Pavaroti. ;)

Sonicxlover
03-05-2008, 08:22 PM
All good advice. People will perceive a mediocre band with a great singer to be far superior to a great band with a mediocre singer.

Dexter is a good singer. Blink, Green Day, etc. - right, not great singers, but they stay within their range and stay in tune. If your singer can't stay in tune, don't take him on.

Manowar and Dragonforce are great examples of what happens to an awesome band without great singers. Nobody except guitar players and what-not know who they are. Whereas *everybody* knows who REM (great example of mediocre band + great singer + great songs = huge popularity!) and Iron Maiden are.

CT

Shut up dude. ZP of Dragonforce is an absolutely tremendous singer, not only in studio but just as much live. Don't give him **** because you don't like Dragonforce or you think his voice is too high.

But yeah, if the singer isn't great, he should at least have stage presence/play an instrument as well. But it depends heavily on who your playing to. Non-musicians listen to the vocalists, but musicians won't mind as much. Also, what genre you play is important.

axemanchris
03-05-2008, 11:17 PM
Shut up dude. ZP of Dragonforce is an absolutely tremendous singer, not only in studio but just as much live. Don't give him **** because you don't like Dragonforce or you think his voice is too high.

But yeah, if the singer isn't great, he should at least have stage presence/play an instrument as well. But it depends heavily on who your playing to. Non-musicians listen to the vocalists, but musicians won't mind as much. Also, what genre you play is important.

No need to tell me to shut up. :no: However, perhaps I judged too hastily. I've listened to Dragonforce a couple of times, and it was always the guitar that stood out - so much so that as I sit here, I honestly don't remember the vocals much. Not that I don't like them. I will contend that they are a musicians band, and once you (we) step outside the guitar-player-centric bubble and look objectively at the public consciousness, Dragonforce is a niche-market band that is virtually off the radar when it comes to the general public.

Nonetheless, you sort of build on and provide substance to my point when you say that non-musicians listen to the vocalists. In other words.... at least 95% of the listening audience focuses on the vocals first.

CT

Sonicxlover
03-05-2008, 11:39 PM
No need to tell me to shut up. :no: However, perhaps I judged too hastily. I've listened to Dragonforce a couple of times, and it was always the guitar that stood out - so much so that as I sit here, I honestly don't remember the vocals much. Not that I don't like them. I will contend that they are a musicians band, and once you (we) step outside the guitar-player-centric bubble and look objectively at the public consciousness, Dragonforce is a niche-market band that is virtually off the radar when it comes to the general public.

Nonetheless, you sort of build on and provide substance to my point when you say that non-musicians listen to the vocalists. In other words.... at least 95% of the listening audience focuses on the vocals first.

CT

Alright, cool. But they actually have become quite popular, likely because of Guitar Hero. In my school, literally everyone knows Dragonforce, and most have heard them/listen to them.

I got a bit defensive because everyone on UG gives them ****. It pisses me off.

ittakestwotokil
03-10-2008, 08:24 PM
people have to like the voice thats what really matters

AwesomeDrummer
03-13-2008, 07:25 AM
it all depends on the person

Souls United
03-13-2008, 03:48 PM
All good advice. People will perceive a mediocre band with a great singer to be far superior to a great band with a mediocre singer.

Dexter is a good singer. Blink, Green Day, etc. - right, not great singers, but they stay within their range and stay in tune. If your singer can't stay in tune, don't take him on.

Manowar and Dragonforce are great examples of what happens to an awesome band without great singers. Nobody except guitar players and what-not know who they are. Whereas *everybody* knows who REM (great example of mediocre band + great singer + great songs = huge popularity!) and Iron Maiden are.

CT
But, Billie Joe Armstrong is a great singer for his style, just like Slayer's singer is good for their style.

Just find what exactly you're going for and find someone who sounds good with that style.