OD BLESS HER, Mariah Carey's got a great voice. But now everyone coming on the pop scene for the last decade, and I mean everyone, feels the need to sing Mariah-like. How do we break this terrifying pattern?
First, we must learn what are the hallmarks of Ms. Mariah's performance style. An unnerving education, yes, but one that will prepare us for our transformation.
Then, we will build a foundation of Carey-free vocal techniques. With diligent practice, some of you will learn to sing in your very own style, and maybe even reduce your number of notes per syllable down to what a horse could count hoofwise without collapsing from exhaustion.
It has been confirmed that Ms. Carey is physically unable to sing without the following conditions present:
- A fan must always be blowing on her. I mean an electric fan, not a naughty human fan.
- As a result of the electric fan, her hair is always getting in the way. She is forever pulling large chunks of it out of her mouth. I would find this a bit distracting, seeing how singing generally emits out of the mouth. Perhaps her vocal skills rise to a challenge. Or, perhaps that high-pitched screaming she sometimes indulges in is just what we would do if hair were tickling our own personal uvulas.
- Her clothes are continually falling off. Oops, there goes another strap, another dress, another pair of underwear, another wedding dress, another wetsuit. Perhaps her people could put her in the right sizes of things. The strap is the only article of clothing other women can relate to falling off of one so readily. The rest really does stay on if we're not a complete slut.
- She is constantly holding her open palms in mid air. Maybe the delightful breeze from the eternal electric fan is drying her fingernail polish. Maybe she was a mime in a previous life. Maybe she thinks she's two of the Supremes and is signalling us to Stop! in the name of love. Before we break her heart.
- When she's not busy with all of these other activities, she's thrashing her head about in various demonstrations of emotion, often what appears to be some kind of nagging distress. Maybe she's upset with her clothes for continually falling off. Maybe she'd like a haircut, but her publicist won't let her. Here comes that screaming again. Get off of my uvula! Amen, sister.
- Melody is the musical needle in the Carey haystack of Extraneous Notes. See Mariah crowd a musical phrase like mall rats to a close-out sale. Watch the melody disappear like sale items in the close-out event just alluded to. Feel hopes dash, like waves against the cruel rocks of Mixed Metaphors, that you will ever hear the melody reassert itself, for it has been whisked away by the minivan of overkill to the exurb called Beyond Melody.
It's not too difficult to see where our tips are going.
Wear suitable, well-fitting clothes.
You won't be distracted by items slipping off during auditions. And if your singing career doesn't fly, you're already dressed appropriately for a job interview.
Do not embellish with Extraneous Notes or Lyrics.
Let us use a classic children's melody, "London Bridge," to illustrate our point.
Here is "London Bridge" as performed by a singer employing the use of Extraneous Notes and Lyrics:
"Lon, I say, London Bridge, it ain't a freeway, I say, London Bridge is fallin', fallin', I mean it's a f-a-a-fa-a-a-a--a--a-li-ii-i-i-i-ii-n' way down, yes it is, it's the London Bridge and it's a fallin' down on me."
Please simplify to:
"London Bridge is falling down."
If you wish, you may remove the "g" from "falling" for that down-home feelin'.
Think of all the time left over in your set for additional material.
Tone down the motion.
Not that many of you remember Peggy Lee, but this famous chanteuse used to stand stock still, save for the snap of a finger or a glint of the eye. I realize this is referred to as "death" in some circles, but I promise that you can make sounds come out of your mouth without simulating a nervous breakdown.
Think of all the energy you'll conserve for mingling with your groupies.
Turn off the fan.
I don't think I need to mention that a performance is hardly the time to be doing your nails. We pay good money to hear you sing, and we deserve a song, dammit, not the tail end of a manicure.
Additionally, as I hark back once again, classy lady singers used to hold a handkerchief, or a swath of material matching their dress, and lightly dab themselves from time to time to remove perspiration. This little choreography actually added drama to their performance and emotion to a song.
Think how your hairdo will retain its lovely style throughout your entire performance.
And think of the uvulas.
© 2005 Kate Heidel