Justin Bieber? Taylor Swift? Who really has the voice?

Hi everyone,

I was speaking with the mother of a student yesterday, and the subject of Justin Bieber’s voice came up. She was going on about how he couldn’t sing well, and how annoying it was to listen to.

I didn’t interrupt her but let her finish and go on with her day. However, here is what I was thinking at the time.

Let’s face it, everyone’s interpretation of who is a good singer is going to be different. For example, most singing coaches in the classical world might not consider anyone singing on contemporary radio to be a good singer. Technique can be a crucial indicator to singing coaches, but not even a consideration to the general public.

I want to share with you what I classify as a good singer.

A good singer is someone who can sing in their mix, or in their head voice, or in their chest voice as they choose. And a good singer is someone who can make me, the listener, believe them when they’re singing.

If someone isn’t able to sing in their mix (which is the middle voice of chest and head voice combined), then straight away I don’t believe them. In general, my ears cannot enjoy a voice that is strictly in chest voice, or only head voice. I prefer the sound of using the entire registration.

Justin Bieber does that just fine. No, I don’t want to buy his CD’s, but my daughter certainly does!  I can relate to what this mother might be feeling as she listens to the same songs over and over and over. However, from a technical point of view, Justin Bieber is a very talented singer and will only get better and stronger as he goes through puberty.

On the other hand, I can think of many voices on the radio who can’t sing well in their mix. Let’s take Taylor Swift for instance. She has definitely made her mark in the world of song writing, but she is bad news for all those young girl singers out there trying to copy her. It’s these young girls who buy her CD’s! They love her stories about heartbreak and boys.  But, the bad news for these singers is that her songs are easy to imitate. By that I mean, these young girls don’t have to sing in their mix. They can sing any of her songs in their chest voice alone. This is extremely detrimental for young singing voices.

I imagine you will start to notice Taylor Swift’s range increase in the next album or two as she learns how to mix her voice better with the help of Brett Manning. He is, as I understand it, one of her vocal coaches. As her middle voice strengths she will be able to sing higher notes, but most likely this will present in her songs as a chest belt. This is typical of many singers in contemporary radio music. That happens to be the type of voice that music producers love to record, because they sell lots of CD’s!

I can think of some great singers who can belt well in their mix. Celine Dion is, of course, the master. And, let’s not forget Kelly Clarkson, and Adam Lambert. Oh my, how we love to listen to the mixed belt!

Style of music is a definite indicator as to the type of voice you may be listening to. Let’s take the beautifully-controlled and balanced voice of Barbra Streisand. Wow, is all I can say. This is “mixing heaven” to me, lol.

And, what about the voice and style of Leanne Rimes. Why do we love her so much? Well, she has a unique voice that is not only well balanced in the mix, but she can also do this fabulous flip (yodel) between her chest and head voice. This yodel is sooooooo smooth that it has really become her signature, and it really sets her apart from most other singers.

Well, that’s it for today. I want to thank the mom I spoke with yesterday for inspiring me to blog on this topic today. I welcome your comments. Bye for now. Susan

11 thoughts on “Justin Bieber? Taylor Swift? Who really has the voice?

    • Hi Fiona, Thanks so much for posting. You know, I forget that most people don’t know the difference between their head voice and chest voice, let alone what is actually their mixed voice. Stay tuned and we’ll sort that all out!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Justin Bieber? Taylor Swift? Who really has the voice?Speech Level Singing » Bee Music Studios -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Susan:

    Thank you for that. I actually have not heard Justin Bieber sing but have heard lots of negative about him personally. Probably starting from jealous kids in the Stratford area. I didn’t know about the chest voice or head voice, you didn’t ever explain that to me when we sang together many, many years ago. I wonder where I sang???

    • Hi Wendy, Nice to hear from you. Can’t say I knew about my head voice and chest voice when I was 13 either! My students start at the age of 6 & 7, and everyone of them knows what their head voice and chest voice feels like. Singing is all about “feeling” the resonance as it shifts from the low notes to high notes. Some singers won’t let this happen naturally. Instead they try and control the high notes with too much chest voice, which can get them into a lot of trouble. Stay tuned, I’ll talk about the differences soon.

  3. I think the kid is fantastic, to be so driven and accomplished since a tot. We all should be inspired by him, not be haters. I think he sounds good too.

  4. Brett Manning is not a certified Speech Level Singing instructor, he is not a speech level singing teacher. I have no idea why you would mention him in the same sentence as Seth Riggs.

    Not only that but his product is just an imitation of Seth Rigg’s product which is much less expensive and much more trustworthy.

    I’m concerned that you are bringing the reputation of Speech Level Singing down by promoting Brett Manning.

    • Hi Daisy, Your question is very relevant and a very good one. Let me explain my personal opinion. First some supporting information.

      Have you been to Brett Manning’s Singing Success website? http://www.singingsuccess.com/about-brett If you read the About Brett you will see he talks about an old man who introduced him to a fabulous new singing technique. He then goes on to say how he tweaked and embellished the exercises, and this is how Singing Success was born.
      Brett Manning studied with Seth Riggs for years. I don’t believe they had certification levels at that time, but I’m not sure. Brett took it upon himself to take that information and build from it. He now probably holds the #1 rank in online singing technique orders with Singing Success, but I don’t have stats to prove that.

      Brett is, in fact, competing with his much-regarded mentor, Seth Riggs. I basically have no opinion about it. I believe it is up to the consumer to make their choices about who they believe, who they trust, and where they spend their money. Now, upon saying that, I’m not sure that I could spend years mastering a new singing technique from my favourite singing teacher who actually developed the technique, and then turn around a few years later, make some embellishments and sell it as my own. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Seth Riggs has since trade-marked the term Speech Level Singing, and as you probably know, his certification process makes sure that coaches are teaching EXACTLY as he would…..no changes, no embellishments, no style, no nothing….strictly SLS technique with only the exercises he recommends.

      I have all of Brett Manning’s material along with every other online singing product I can get my hands on. To me, it’s very useful to hear at least once, as a singing coach. However, for the general public I think it can be confusing, a waste of money, and even damaging for the voice. You see, NOTHING replaces an actual one-on-one lesson with a good coach or teacher, irregardless of the technique.

      Singing Success is indeed a speech level singing technique. Notice I didn’t capitalize the letters. The Seth Riggs trademark is Speech Level Singing(R), and Brett Manning is a master in his technique.

      There are good and bad singing teachers all over world, irregardless of the technique. Brett Manning is a good singing teacher. What defines good? To me, good is open-minded, always learning, and one who possesses “GOOD EARS”. A singing coach/teacher has to be able to understand what he hears, mimic what he hears, demonstrate what it should sound like, and possess the tools to get the student to make this sound correctly and quickly.

      This is just my humble opinion….I welcome anyone else’s thoughts and concerns. Susan

      p.s. Did you read my post about why I chose Seth Riggs over Brett Manning? I believe it’s an earlier post than this one.

  5. Dear Susan:

    Please let me say, your blog is absolutely awesome!
    I had never read one like this before, so thank you for taking
    the time to write.

    I will say now that i have just read an article about not going to
    College or university for a voice study and it has kept me thinking.
    You see, I’m a 18 year old boy who took a gap year and I’ve been
    working with singing success for almost two years. I recently discovered SLS
    with Seth Riggs and it’s made realize a lot of things. I even ordered
    “singer’s advantage”.
    The thing is that i took this year off, because i didn’t know what to do.
    all careers i had in mind depended deeply on my constant passion for singing.
    I’ve been singing forever, and just now it came to my mind: you will never be fully focused on any other carreer, cause singing is going to be always there. and I have to be honest, I’m not good when i do several things at a time.
    So i had decided to throw myself into life, and ask for talent scholaships on a JAZZ INSTITUTE in my country, and start giving myself completely to this wish for singing- Even with my parents against it, and not helping me. However when i read your article, many things have confused me now.

    I desperately need an advice, and I have just found you, but the way you write has captured me. please!
    I would apprecciate it so very much.

    Thank you

    • Hi! Don’t be confused! Instead, think of all this different information as an opportunity to continually learn, continually ask questions, and know that it’s OK and it’s necessary for you to grow as a person and as a singer. I think the fact that you want to go to a Jazz Institute is absolutely fabulous! Don’t misunderstand my point in telling singers to be aware of some universities. You see, we cannot generalize about all universities and schools not modernizing their programs and updating their teachers. I am simply suggesting that singers need to be aware of such possibilities.
      Do you play a music instrument? Have you studied history and theory? I think a jazz institute sounds like a fine way to increase your education. Just keep an open mind, and learn, learn, and learn more!!!
      There is no doubt that being a singer, and trying to find the right avenue to help you make a career, can be a bit daunting. Use your instincts. Surround yourself with singers and musicians and teachers you admire, and you can’t help but learn from them.
      Also, know that having a good singing voice isn’t necessarily going to get you a “career”. The music business is very challenging and competitive so try to have a plan that will let you keep your love of singing and music, as well as a plan that will “pay the bills” if you know what I mean.
      Thanks so much for writing and good luck!! Susan

  6. We are talking about two products, one originator and one imitator. One by the originator is reasonalby priced, one by the imitator costs more than three times to buy.

    The imitator is not a certified speech level instructor.

    The originator has my vote and my trust. If I buy a product I will buy it from Seth Riggs.

    I don’t want to give my money to somebody who takes someone else’s years of hard work and talent and tweeks it a little bit and then promotes it as his own.

    You of course are welcome to your opinion on this but I do not believe that the speech level singing organization would endorse and promote this opinion. I could be wrong but it wouldn’t hurt for you to check with them and see what they say.

    Thank you for your patient and thoughful response, I appreciate that.

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