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04 June 2010

Which singer do you wish you could sing like? [More:]Mrs. B. asked me this the other day and I gave it a lot of thought.

For wooing one's special lady, nothing could be better than to sing like Johnny Hartman. And my opera fantasy is singing like Gary Lakes in Act I of Die Walkure.

But for day-to-day pleasure, I think I'd be able to sing like Robert Plant.
I mentioned today on twitter that I am currently nursing a man-crush on The Tallest Man on Earth and I think it's partly because I wish I could sing like him.
posted by richat 04 June | 20:28
Oh, and I've always loved Levon Helm's voice. Seems I'm not inclined to sing too smooooothly.
posted by richat 04 June | 20:30
Somebody like Shelby Lynne or Martina McBride.
posted by LoriFLA 04 June | 20:37
Lisa Gerrard.
posted by crush-onastick 04 June | 20:41
Roy Orbison.

Kurt Cobain.

George Jones.
posted by BitterOldPunk 04 June | 20:57
I'd be happy if I could sing as well as Bob Dylan or Joe Strummer. I can't sing a note.
posted by octothorpe 04 June | 21:00
OMG.... Richard Butler.
posted by BoringPostcards 04 June | 21:22
Linda Ronstadt.
posted by Savannah 04 June | 21:32
Marisa Monte

If I could sing like her I would be a much happier person.
posted by msali 04 June | 21:34
I'd be happy if I could sing as well as Bob Dylan or Joe Strummer. I can't sing a note.

Yeah, that's me.

I guess Levon Helm would be cool. But I'll pick Cindy Lauper. Since I'm a guy, if I sang in her voice I think the freak show aspect of it would insure I'd always be able to make a living singing.
posted by Marxchivist 04 June | 21:35
Ok, barring that, maybe Richard Hawley.
posted by BoringPostcards 04 June | 21:45
Sam Cooke
posted by Hugh Janus 04 June | 22:07
Ok, seriously, I can't Sing sing. But as close as I get to Sing singing, I sound like a Carny Cher. So, I would like to sound like Cher. Because that is as close to something I could grasp and aim for and possibly, with a magic pill or operation, get to. She does not have one of my favorite voices, but I can't consider the question out of the context of things I could never possibly do, just only appreciate,

I mean, secretly, I would like to sing like Diamanda Galas, but that is so far away, I'll just listen, you know?
posted by rainbaby 04 June | 22:14
You can't really sound like Levon Helm unless you were born on a cotton farm in Turkey Scratch Arkansas during the depression and then lived on bourbon and cigarettes for the next fifty years.
posted by octothorpe 04 June | 22:23
And had throat cancer.
posted by LoriFLA 04 June | 22:32
Al Green.
posted by netbros 04 June | 22:44
Sarah McLachlan
posted by deborah 04 June | 22:45
OMG YES! Richard Butler!
posted by MonkeyButter 04 June | 23:12
William Elliot Whitmore or Jon Snodgrass for pure vocal aesthetics.

John Doe for sheer badassery.
posted by ufez 04 June | 23:17
But I'd need somebunny to be my Exene.
posted by ufez 04 June | 23:19
For 20 years the answer has been the same for me: Chris Isaak. I love his whole catalog, but "the Lonely Ones" is one of my favorite vocals ever.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 04 June | 23:34
Tossup between Roger Daltrey, Axl Rose & Joan Fucking Jett.

If I were female, Stevie Nicks.

posted by Ardiril 04 June | 23:42
Probably John Lennon. I do sound like Neil Young, to the extent that people think I am trying to emulate him. Which I'm not.
posted by danf 05 June | 00:04
Aretha. I can sing like her when I'm in the car or the shower, with no audience.
posted by Senyar 05 June | 01:18
Senyar, I'm with you. Or maybe Ella Fitzgerald.

I was a singer for years, and although I like my own voice, I always felt that there was a big black woman inside me trying to get out.
posted by Specklet 05 June | 03:20
I was just going to mention Aretha.

Why oh why did I have to be born with a soft little white girl alto.
posted by Orange Swan 05 June | 08:23
Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlisle, or Neko Case.
posted by Miko 05 June | 09:36
Van Morrison, the '70s version (I had Saint Dominic's Preview on vinyl so many years ago). But I'd leave out the 'total crotchety bastard' part of the VM persona.
posted by hangashore 05 June | 10:07
Axl Rose is a good choice. Unfortunately I'm a bariton while rock singers often are tenors. Also, being middle aged, I have to struggle harder to reach the high notes. It seems my chords are less flexible. In highschool I was able to sing a baroque opera entirely; both the parts of the tenor and the soprano. "Non, je ne te crois point! Quelque secrète chaîne te retient et s'oppose à mes voeux les plus doux."
The upside is that I now have a bit more of gravel in my voice which benefits soul and pop.
It's easiest for me to sound like David Bowie. Or Phil Oakley (Human League), Dave Gahan (Depêche Mode). (What happened to dramatic baritons? Did they go out of fashion with the 80s?)

I recently discovered a great way of practicing: during my commute drive I'll have the in-ear phone of my mp3 player in one ear. That way I can sing along, but also hear my own result clearly with my other ear. That works great. As a result I've been practicing singing for two hours every day recently.
I like to sing along to women. Men in pop often sing a bit too high for me. Which is interesting practice if not very euphonious.
I wish I had the voice (translated to a man) of a young Dusty Springfield. There's an effortless, very expressive resonance to her voice in all registers. I like Natasha St Pier as well.
I've been practicing I started a joke. Which is quite a challenge: "I looked at the skies" needs such resonance in the sinuses and such sustain.

Orange Swan, I think a lot of dilettante singers like you and me have soft voices because of practising quietly in our bedrooms as a teenager. The boon of practising in the car is that nobody hears you so you can take more risks. It has been a bit of a revelation to me what I can do as a result. There's an element of 'jumping' in there. You have to just try out some things and see how it works out. At high volume and a fully opened larynx you have less control so there's a risk of sounding awful. But after a bit of practice you learn which things work. And then it can turn out quite powerful.
I guess a lot of singers in soul, but also for instance Jacques Brel, started out singing in pubs with a rowdy audience. So they really needed to crank it up. And that really adds to the passionate expressiveness.
I also would like to sound like Marvin Gaye, or Sam and Dave.
I get pretty far with Marving Gaye. But the shouty powerful way of singing of Sam and Dave is beyond me.
I also fail to sound like Jacques Brel unfortunately.

Also some singers just have an amazing resonance to their voice apart from technique. It seems that Randy Crawford was never succesful back home in the US while quite a few of her songs are staple romantic hits here in the Netherlands.
It's pointless to try to sound like people like her. Because it's just a genetic gift.

Anyhow; it's fun talking about singing with you people. Singing is the one thing that has never failed to make me happy. From the age of 5 on up, through the hardest times.

When I look at my musical preferences I guess I should be gay.

Sorry for the verbiage.

posted by jouke 05 June | 10:12
Also I'd like to have the bass-bariton voice of Thomas Quasthoff singing Erlkönig.
posted by jouke 05 June | 10:13
It's pretty old-hat to say, but:

Ella Fitzgerald. I always wished I could sing like she does: the quiet nuances, the big bold belting-out, and everything in between.

More than anything else, she made it look easy, and like a dummy, I thought that meant it was easy, so for a lot of my young life, I really thought it was possible that I'd grow up to sing like her, with enough training and practice.
posted by Elsa 05 June | 11:20
Freddie Mercury. Which I do, on occasion. The only problem is that, unlike Freddie, I don't usually have a sequencer on hand and can't sing four-part harmony with myself.
posted by Madamina 05 June | 13:04
Lucinda Williams.
posted by mygothlaundry 05 June | 14:37

Patsy Cline
k.d. lang
posted by deborah 05 June | 18:44
Stevie Wonder

Chris Cornell

Paul McCartney

posted by Jaltcoh 05 June | 19:39
Sarah Watkins, formerly of Nickel Creek, has one of my favorite voices. Like an adolescent angel. Again, this voice is so far from my own, I can't even think about having it, but man, I love that voice.
posted by rainbaby 05 June | 21:38
Top spot goes to Big Bill Broonzy for the clarity and strength and warmth.

Harriet Wheeler for the beautiful precision (and that vibrato). Plus, cute and British.

Jim Morrison for the popular power.

Liz Fraser because yeah Liz Fraser.

And I'll admit for a couple years there I wanted to sing like some bastard child of Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder.
posted by fleacircus 06 June | 00:26
Marilyn Horne or Delphine Galou or maybe Diana Damrau.
posted by notquitemaryann 06 June | 16:24
Billie Holiday

Sheryl Crow

Eva Cassidy

Grace Slick

Joan Baez

Ladies, I love you all.
posted by bearwife 21 June | 19:50
All of them.
posted by aniola 24 June | 18:56
Justice: || I stumbled across this today and it made me laugh.