PDA

View Full Version : Is there a name for this hyper-annoying singing style?


Pages : [1] 2 3

MeanOldLady
01-02-2014, 09:55 AM
I'd like to be able to more easily dismiss it.

It seems every indie/faux-indie singer-songwriter girl under the age of 30 is singing with a remarkably annoying, breathy voice with an unnecessary twang in it that is at times punctuated with scratchiness. They sing softly and every vowel sounds like "ow," as though the singer is suffering as much as I am every time I hear it.

Example (www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKbMRVFyjW8&t=30s) - Nataly Dawn
Example (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4jVVpHfvRE) - Nataly Dawn annoying me again
Example (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j6qLdx0dmk) - Wild Belle
Example (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s34bnIM-rcs) - Kat Edmonson

If it has a name, I'd like to know so that next time someone attempts to recommend one of these types of songs to me, I can just wave my hand and say "I will not listen to [blank] singing style." A friend of mine tried to recommend to me yet another white girl with a guitar singing in this highly infuriating style, and I had to explain to him what precisely about it irritated me. I'd like to save time.

Thanks.

Inner Stickler
01-02-2014, 10:08 AM
Hmm, I don't know if there's a single word that encapsulates all of that, or if there is, I don't know it. (And to be honest, I thought Wild Belle was rather different and much more interesting to listen to.) If you pressed me, I'd say, "Quirky white girl with an acoustic guitar and too much vocal fry."

RickJay
01-02-2014, 10:11 AM
This appears to be almost universally referred to simply as "indie singing style." It's very widely remarked upon.

Copycat singing styles are a pretty common thing in pop music. A lot of pop-punk singers imitated Billy Joe Armstrong's unusual vowel shifts; listen to the way Avril Lavigne pronounces "you" as "yeaou," as if she was from Nebraska instead of Ontario. It's a direct connection to the style Armstrong started.

Indie singers are just imitating the accepted indie style - and it helps that it's a very easy, narrow-range style so anyone can do it.

If you want to come up with a specific name for it it'd be a good thing to figure out who most popularized it. Not sure who that'd be.

Amateur Barbarian
01-02-2014, 10:13 AM
It's the companion style to "I'm going to drone over a 3-note range that's slightly out of my own range for 3:25 and call it angsty."

Why so many performers today have to act as if they're bored, deeply depressed or afraid someone will shoot them for using a fourth note is beyond me.

MeanOldLady
01-02-2014, 10:47 AM
(And to be honest, I thought Wild Belle was rather different and much more interesting to listen to.)The Wild Belle was the least annoying of them, and is something I could actually like if she weren't singing that way.

This appears to be almost universally referred to simply as "indie singing style." It's very widely remarked upon.Simple indeed. Almost too simple and a bit unfair to indie singers who don't engage in this silliness.

If you want to come up with a specific name for it it'd be a good thing to figure out who most popularized it. Not sure who that'd be.Hmm, if I could figure out who started it, that'd be an easy way to describe what I'm talking about. Also, so that I can send them hate mail. No, I jest. I'm sure it wasn't so bad when just a handful of imitators were doing this, but now that it's the default of indie folk singers, or whatever, it is driving me beyond nuts. It's gotten to the point where the term "singer-songwriter" is a bad word to me when used to describe young white girls. Before I even hear them, I know what they sound like and just cannot deal with it.

Trom
01-02-2014, 11:18 AM
...

Hmm, if I could figure out who started it, that'd be an easy way to describe what I'm talking about.
...

Cat Power (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS614A5GzEw)?

Ferret Herder
01-02-2014, 11:24 AM
No idea, but I'll nominate Nellie McKay as another perpetrator. It only took the episode of NPR's "Ask Me Another" (shouting out to another thread here) where she was the guest star for me to really not like listening to her speak and sing. (Maybe it was the format or something, but her interview seemed to turn the breathy up x10 and bring out an awful lot of "golly gosh! personality" in her.)

LC Strawhouse
01-02-2014, 11:30 AM
How about "waify"? (aka "I'm a poor helpless orphan in a harsh world") College aged folks seem to find that style extremely attractive, though.

aruvqan
01-02-2014, 11:46 AM
Hmm, I don't know if there's a single word that encapsulates all of that, or if there is, I don't know it. (And to be honest, I thought Wild Belle was rather different and much more interesting to listen to.) If you pressed me, I'd say, "Quirky white girl with an acoustic guitar and too much vocal fry."
Same reason I avoid a lot of 'celtic' music that copies Enya - weak unsupported drifty wispy voice. Would it kill her to take a good breath, stand up straight and belt out a song? I want to do the poke the stomach thing and mention 'breath support'.:rolleyes:

wedgehed
01-02-2014, 11:54 AM
To my untrained ears, it kind of sounds like the result of people, who imitated people, who imitated people, who imitated Rickie Lee Jones.

Son of a Rich
01-02-2014, 12:00 PM
This appears to be almost universally referred to simply as "indie singing style." It's very widely remarked upon.

Copycat singing styles are a pretty common thing in pop music. A lot of pop-punk singers imitated Billy Joe Armstrong's unusual vowel shifts; listen to the way Avril Lavigne pronounces "you" as "yeaou," as if she was from Nebraska instead of Ontario. It's a direct connection to the style Armstrong started.



I had no idea Greenday was so influential. But then, I'm old.

wolfman
01-02-2014, 12:01 PM
I've always thought of it as "Lilith Fair wannabe" style. Like it seems a hell of a lot of the Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Loeb etc. crowd songs use it for intro and coda(sometimes bridge), to wrap the more dynamic stuff.

But these lightweights have no dynamic ability to build to, and just meekly let the whole song leak out of their vocal cords that way.

Diceman
01-02-2014, 12:18 PM
A lot of pop-punk singers imitated Billy Joe Armstrong's unusual vowel shifts;
He's the Green Day singer, right? So, what do you call his (also annoying) style of singing? I swear it sounds like his tongue has swollen up. Any time I Walk Alone comes on the radio I think, "Dude! Isn't there a medicine you could take for that?"

Flywheel
01-02-2014, 12:22 PM
A lot of pop-punk singers imitated Billy Joe Armstrong's unusual vowel shifts;

He's the Green Day singer, right? So, what do you call his (also annoying) style of singing? I swear it sounds like his tongue has swollen up. Any time I Walk Alone comes on the radio I think, "Dude! Isn't there a medicine you could take for that?"

"Hunger dunger dang" (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Hunger%20Dunger%20Dang)

MeanOldLady
01-02-2014, 12:27 PM
Cat Power (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS614A5GzEw)?Huh, this might be the oldest example of this that I've seen. This nonsense started cropping up like weeds (or at least I first heard it) a good decade ago, and then it became unbearable several years later. I'd hoped people would grow sick of it, but it appears to be getting worse.

No idea, but I'll nominate Nellie McKay as another perpetrator.Very annoying. She's on my list. (Not the good one.)

How about "waify"? (aka "I'm a poor helpless orphan in a harsh world") College aged folks seem to find that style extremely attractive, though.Heh, I like that and what's funny is if I said "She has that damn waify singing voice," I'll bet most people will know what I'm talking about.

RickJay
01-02-2014, 12:31 PM
He's the Green Day singer, right? So, what do you call his (also annoying) style of singing? I swear it sounds like his tongue has swollen up. Any time I Walk Alone comes on the radio I think, "Dude! Isn't there a medicine you could take for that?"
I just call it "pop punk," there being no particular word for it.

It's basically a subset of the modern "unaffected" rock/pop singing style in which the singer sings in as clear and, well, unaffected a style as is pretty much humanly possible, the impression being one of rawness and simplicity; Weezer is a famous example of this. The punk thing adds the weird Midwestern diphthong thing Armstrong popularized.

've always thought of it as "Lilith Fair wannabe" style. Like it seems a hell of a lot of the Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Loeb etc. crowd songs use it for intro and coda(sometimes bridge), to wrap the more dynamic stuff.
Lisa Loeb's a good example but Sarah McLachlan, if you meant her personally, is a terrible one. Sarah McLachlan has a very unusual and distinctive singing voice and she sounds very, very different from the examples provided this far. I'm not a fan of her music but I'll give her this, she sounds like no one else.

velomont
01-02-2014, 12:37 PM
I know exactly the singing style you're referring to. I call it Feist-lite (no offence to Feist intended btw). A classic example is the Prius ad with the song "A Prius for Everyone". There's an "Ads I hate" site that has a discussion about that ad and its "breathy baby" sound. There does seem to be a lot of it out there unfortunately.

Peanuthead
01-02-2014, 12:53 PM
I noticed this style several years ago and there is no way I can distinguish one from another. They all sound the same. I call them "sleepy girl" singers.

That Wild Belle song doesn't seem to fit the category. She's more of an Amy Winehouse clone. (at least in that song. I've never heard anything else by her)

Bryan Ekers
01-02-2014, 01:15 PM
Ted: Look at me, I'm every singer in the 90s! Thay'er's nuthin' I can doooa, I oahnlea wanna beah with youaieiai.....

Tangent
01-02-2014, 01:36 PM
I don't watch anymore, but several years ago it seemed that about half of the female American Idol contestants (including those in the tryout rounds) were singing in this overly affected style. Very annoying.

Here are some more examples:

Corinne Bailey Rae (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWQl00LWEwE)

Nelly Furtado (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roPQ_M3yJTA)

The Weepies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzmJrYUtvjE)

Colbie Caillat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWGqoCNbsvM)

and so on.

drastic_quench
01-02-2014, 02:43 PM
Precious and moribund. I first noticed how much I hated it when a Pomplamouse video covering Beyonce's Single Ladies went viral in 2009.

Missy2U
01-02-2014, 02:52 PM
I hate it with a passion. It's one reason I won't watch singing competitions on TV anymore. I end up with a freakin' headache.

Ponch8
01-02-2014, 04:50 PM
Somebody on the SDMB got me hooked on a podcast called Coverville (http://coverville.com/), in which the host plays cover versions of various songs (some well-known, others not). Generally I enjoy listening to the podcast, but it seems like every other song they play fits the OP's description. The host goes on and on about what a marvelous version of the song it is, what a beautiful voice the woman has, etc. All I'm thinking about is how much the singer sucked the life out of each song.

A perfect example: the host's 5th-favorite cover of 2013 was a cover of Daft Punk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I)'s "Get Lucky" by Daughter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Cp55MvX54). Listen to the bridge (starting about 0:31 or 0:33 in each version). The cover artist makes no attempt whatsoever to sing "we've...come too far...to give up...who we are" with more than one note. It completely destroys the spirit of the song.

Quimby
01-02-2014, 05:08 PM
I think of it as a "Yodel" and yeah it can be annoying...

Jophiel
01-02-2014, 05:27 PM
Thanks to all these YouTube links and the Google Omnibus Account thingie, Google Play is now certain that I want to buy a bunch of mp3's through Google Music by breathy pixie-cut indie waifs :p

you with the face
01-02-2014, 06:44 PM
Does Regina Spector's "All You've Got Time (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hAyFRgdjKU8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhAyFRgdjKU8)" (theme from Orange is the New Black) fall in your category, MoL? I really really want to like this song, but I find it impossible to do so because of her singing style.

Simplicio
01-02-2014, 07:01 PM
Eh, I like it, but it is kinda over-used.

The breathiness presumably is just a fairly natural way to sing a slow song with little instrumental accompaniment.

But the affected accent thing is pretty interesting. Can anyone come up with an earlier example then Cat Power?

I guess it isn't really any different then Country singers taking on a strong southern twang when singing, or Irish folk singers dialing the brogue up to 11 when singing. But in those cases the origin is obvious. Not so much here.

MeanOldLady
01-02-2014, 07:38 PM
Precious and moribund. I first noticed how much I hated it when a Pomplamouse video covering Beyonce's Single Ladies went viral in 2009.God, yes, this is a perfect example! It was this shitty cover that made me officially declare myself sick of this trend that needed to stop yesterday. An already stupid song covered in this whiny-ass singing voice. Great.

A perfect example: the host's 5th-favorite cover of 2013 was a cover of Daft Punk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I)'s "Get Lucky" by Daughter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Cp55MvX54). Listen to the bridge (starting about 0:31 or 0:33 in each version). The cover artist makes no attempt whatsoever to sing "we've...come too far...to give up...who we are" with more than one note. It completely destroys the spirit of the song.Ugh, I wish I hadn't clicked on that. Truly annoying, and now like Jophiel, my YouTube thinks I want to listen to more of this waify crying into the microphone.

Does Regina Spector's "All You've Got Time (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hAyFRgdjKU8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DhAyFRgdjKU8)" (theme from Orange is the New Black) fall in your category, MoL? I really really want to like this song, but I find it impossible to do so because of her singing style.She has traces of it, but isn't over the top annoying with it. I'll let her live.

Saintly Loser
01-02-2014, 07:45 PM
I hate this style of singing. I call it the "I'm just a girl" voice. Makes me nuts.

Sailboat
01-02-2014, 07:49 PM
Regina Spektor sometimes sounds close to that, to me...maybe in Fidelity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM&list=SP45FE615740733CF8)?

Anyway, if she qualifies, her Wikipedia entry says her music is associated with the "anti-folk scene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-folk)," although that seems to be about ironic content, not sound per se.

MeanOldLady
01-02-2014, 08:02 PM
Regina Spektor sometimes sounds close to that, to me...maybe in Fidelity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM&list=SP45FE615740733CF8)?

Oh dear god, that is annoying. I didn't know that song had a name or a singer. I thought it was something created by marketing geniuses to be played in commercials or whatever. Like they just blended literally every damn song by every woman over the past decade. But no, there's a person singing it, and she is terrible. I was going to let her live, but I've changed my mind. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

Jophiel
01-02-2014, 08:56 PM
Regina Spektor sometimes sounds close to that, to me...maybe in Fidelity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM&list=SP45FE615740733CF8)?

Anyway, if she qualifies, her Wikipedia entry says her music is associated with the "anti-folk scene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-folk)," although that seems to be about ironic content, not sound per se.
Regina Spektor frankly seems to make an attempt to sound differently in every song she sings. The same woman singing Fidelity also sings (from the same album) Apres Moi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbeHq1CLqJ8) and Samson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p62rfWxs6a8&list=SP45FE615740733CF8). I don't love everything she does (mainly because she changes so much there's bound to be a good number of songs that don't click with me) but I don't think she can be accused of purely having a breathy three-note range like the previously mentioned singers.

Equipoise
01-02-2014, 09:55 PM
I think of it as a "Yodel" and yeah it can be annoying...Say what? How'd you get that from breathy, tremulous, fake-scratchy singing? THIS (http://youtu.be/UXpvvZ_QIvM) is (http://youtu.be/B00nfVc4FPI) Yodeling (http://youtu.be/oBap800E8Lw)! (even when non-flashy, it can be georgeous (http://youtu.be/4GSOw7YhvDc)!)

Ellis Aponte Jr.
01-02-2014, 11:54 PM
I agree it's an annoying style. I think of it as "people who can't really sing pretending they can sing."

As far as the Green Day singer goes, though, I always thought he basically copied the singer of The Dickies, a band which predated Green Day by about 15 years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c37GdAzgQo

Wendell Wagner
01-03-2014, 07:09 AM
The term "vocal fry" has already been mentioned, but let me give a video illustrating it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsE5mysfZsY

It's a vocal characteristic of some young American women in recent years. It overlaps with the various indie singing styles in the videos given here. As you can see from the video, this way of speaking irritates many people.

velomont
01-03-2014, 12:02 PM
It's almost as though they are trying to sing with the minimum possible expulsion of air. The most effort they put out is probably in producing the mandatory "oh oh oh oh" line in the song.

From the "Commercials I Hate" forum about the Prius ad there is a great quote: "HATE this trend of breathy baby singing by grown women. I imagine the singer looks something like Zoey Dechanel and puts bird silhouettes on everything imaginable in an attempt to look whimsical and artsy. STOP IT AMERICA!"

MeanOldLady
01-03-2014, 12:53 PM
The term "vocal fry" has already been mentioned, but let me give a video illustrating it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsE5mysfZsYThere's definitely vocal fry in it, but it's not just the vocal fry that makes up this irritating style. It's also the out of breath soft whining and the completely ridiculous twang.

From the "Commercials I Hate" forum about the Prius ad there is a great quote: "HATE this trend of breathy baby singing by grown women. I imagine the singer looks something like Zoey Dechanel and puts bird silhouettes on everything imaginable in an attempt to look whimsical and artsy. STOP IT AMERICA!"
Yes! This person is oh so very right on. We need to start a strangling campaign to end this. I'll bet they'd try to record a song during the strangulation. "These constricted airways are doing wonders for my singing voice!"

RickJay
01-03-2014, 02:07 PM
Of course, using a particular method of singing to hide one's lack of talent is not exactly a new thing or restricted to Indie Voice. Men have been using the Frank Sinatra/swing voice for decades - a voice that allows you to sing passably well within a range of about three, maybe four notes. A kid made it to like the final six or seven contestants on "American Idol" one year solely with that gimmick.

Inner Stickler
01-03-2014, 02:19 PM
From the "Commercials I Hate" forum about the Prius ad there is a great quote: "HATE this trend of breathy baby singing by grown women. I imagine the singer looks something like Zoey Dechanel and puts bird silhouettes on everything imaginable in an attempt to look whimsical and artsy. STOP IT AMERICA!"Interesting. I definitely don't think of her as being someone who epitomizes this sort of singing. Affected yes, but breathy and waify, no.

GargoyleWB
01-03-2014, 02:59 PM
As far as the Green Day singer goes, though, I always thought he basically copied the singer of The Dickies, a band which predated Green Day by about 15 years:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c37GdAzgQo

This is what I noticed immediately when Green Day came out. To a tween generation that missed The Dickies (and John Lydon of P.I.L.), Billy Joe probably sounded fresh and distinctive as a vocalist. To me, they have always felt too deliberate and manufactured to me, "Hot Topic" punk.)

As to the OP, I've always thought of the waify singing style as "Grey's Anatomy Soundtrack Filler"

BurnMeUp
01-07-2014, 05:11 PM
A friend of mine dubbed it Twee-tarded

PK58
03-25-2014, 07:58 PM
I call it just off the boat from Ireland sound lol Drive me nuts!!

Trick Rider
03-25-2014, 08:27 PM
This is one of the many things I hate about a lot of indie music. It's always sounded to me like the singer has a throat full of phlegm.

installLSC
03-25-2014, 08:32 PM
Regina Spektor sometimes sounds close to that, to me...maybe in Fidelity (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM&list=SP45FE615740733CF8)?

Anyway, if she qualifies, her Wikipedia entry says her music is associated with the "anti-folk scene (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-folk)," although that seems to be about ironic content, not sound per se.
Well early in Regina's career hear recordings were almost all piano and voice, and her singing style had much more range. Check out this song. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiGLex6jcDg) (By the way, what genius produced "All You've Got Time"? Where did he get his backing track from, rejected Toto sessions?)

Lukeinva
03-25-2014, 09:20 PM
They are compensating because they can't sing. Country music twangers use a similar technique.

wonky
03-25-2014, 10:22 PM
Annoying as it is, I think I'd still take it over the nose singing. You know, the ones who sound like they are doing impressions of Pee Wee Herman.

Gestalt
03-25-2014, 11:30 PM
I call it Starbucks music

gwendee
03-26-2014, 12:03 PM
Heh, I like that and what's funny is if I said "She has that damn waify singing voice," I'll bet most people will know what I'm talking about.

Sign me up! Down with waify.

I watch The Voice, and whenever a contestant sings like that one of the coaches will say she (it's invariably a female singer) has a "quirky" voice. They'll often also say that "there's no one out there like that right now" which makes me want to throw something through the TV screen.

Dale Sams
03-26-2014, 12:47 PM
As long as you all leave Kristin Hersh out of this convo, no one will get hurt.

Jamie Douglas
09-29-2014, 12:23 PM
I'd like to be able to more easily dismiss it.

It seems every indie/faux-indie singer-songwriter girl under the age of 30 is singing with a remarkably annoying, breathy voice with an unnecessary twang in it that is at times punctuated with scratchiness. They sing softly and every vowel sounds like "ow," as though the singer is suffering as much as I am every time I hear it....



Hahaha! I found this forum by doing a Google search about "folk girls sound the same" to try to get a similar answer! :D

Wile E
09-29-2014, 01:15 PM
Since this thread got revived I will post this link about a song in a commercial that I hate that uses this singing style.
http://tvcommercialssongs.com/fancy-feast-cat-food-love-served-daily/

The most annoying thing about it is that it's a commercial so it plays constantly, although I admit I am seeing less of it lately. It's not so much the breathiness but the mispronounciation of words that drives me nuts. Here's the lyrics:

I must confess when I wear this dress
I feel like dancing the whole night with you
‘Cause you are the one I could see having fun with
Not just for the night but for the rest of my life
Doo doo doo…

On "confess" and "this" she stretches out the "s" sounds so it sounds like she's a singing snake.
Then "dress" which normally rhymes with "confess" is pronounced "drey-ess".
"With you" is more like "wit-oo"
And the "of" in "rest of my life" is more like "o" and then "life" is drawn out.

Also, I just feel like the song is a weird choice for a cat food commercial.

Ellis Dee
09-29-2014, 01:20 PM
A perfect example: the host's 5th-favorite cover of 2013 was a cover of Daft Punk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I)'s "Get Lucky" by Daughter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Cp55MvX54). Listen to the bridge (starting about 0:31 or 0:33 in each version). The cover artist makes no attempt whatsoever to sing "we've...come too far...to give up...who we are" with more than one note. It completely destroys the spirit of the song.No joke about that being a perfect example. It's so over the top as to be indistinguishable from parody.

GrumpyBunny
09-29-2014, 01:24 PM
I hate this style of singing. I call it the "I'm just a girl" voice. Makes me nuts.

Ok, now I know exactly what you mean. (I refused to listen to any of the clips because, well...)

I can't decide if this annoys me more or less than the mini-divas going "whoh-oooh-oh-oh-ooaaaah-oh" in their songs. Also, "I'm so Fancy", because it's stupid and an earworm.

Oops, sorry. Back to the Breathy Sad Girls.

You know, as a legit asthmatic who took vocal lessons to try to not sound breathy, those breathy chicks annoy the crap out of me.

GrumpyBunny
09-29-2014, 01:28 PM
A perfect example: the host's 5th-favorite cover of 2013 was a cover of Daft Punk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NV6Rdv1a3I)'s "Get Lucky" by Daughter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5Cp55MvX54).

That version of the song makes me want to throw myself into a well.

She made "Get Lucky" depressing, which is quite a feat.

dropzone
09-29-2014, 09:57 PM
Very annoying. She's on my list. (Not the good one.)You have a good list? ;)

Vashbul
09-29-2014, 11:50 PM
The style has deep roots. You could say Barbara Mason (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JGPcOkebXc) and Julie Driscoll (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXH56hotLSA) were predecessors, though neither leaned on this trick exclusively.

Listen to Dusty Springfield (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyCVxPEPx5Y) demonstrate how to sing like a sad girl but also like a real singer.

koeeoaddi
09-30-2014, 09:35 AM
I dunno, I don't love this singing style, but it's almost a relief coming on the heels of all the melisma girls. What I want to know is how Kat Edmonson got ahold of the dress my gandmother gave me for Christmas in 1966?

I cried for a week.

MeanOldLady
10-02-2014, 09:29 AM
The style has deep roots. You could say Barbara Mason (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JGPcOkebXc) and Julie Driscoll (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXH56hotLSA) were predecessors, though neither leaned on this trick exclusively.I see what you;re getting at, but I would never describe these women as singing like Sad Breathy Girls.

Alessan
10-02-2014, 09:48 AM
Wait... does Suzanne Vega (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0df0racc3vk)also count? Because I like Suzanne Vega.

Cara mel
10-02-2014, 10:23 PM
I hate this style of singing. I call it the "I'm just a girl" voice. Makes me nuts.

I will call it this from now on. Thanks!

I used to listen to ABC Radio National (Australia) every morning, loved everything about it, but the "musical interludes" exclusively became "I'm just a girl" type songs. It's as though they were seeking out the most bland, inoffensive and generic music for people who don't really like music, but still attempting to be hip in some way.

I started dreading when Fran Kelly would introduce a song. Sometimes it would even be a boy singing. Always with the lone guitar, or even worse, a ukelele. Eventually I switched to News Radio - no music at all.

And to banks and insurance companies, please stop using these songs to make you seem all floaty and whimsical. It's so irritating.

The style has deep roots. You could say
Listen to Dusty Springfield (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyCVxPEPx5Y) demonstrate how to sing like a sad girl but also like a real singer.

I don't think this is really the genre - this is a beautiful sad song by a top singer , with violins and piano.

Thank you OP, for giving me this chance to vent. :)

The Chao Goes Mu
10-04-2014, 07:34 PM
I liked this style the first time I heard it back in the late 1990's when I saw Erin McKeown live. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmAde0kLYVs
Now I hear so many women sing like this that I can't tell them apart and it drives me batshit nuts. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Elephantfarts
10-22-2014, 12:01 AM
Just listen to this travesty: https://soundcloud.com/musings-2/help-beatles-cover-with-ally-subak

It shouldn't be legal to do this to the Beatles.

Ponch8
10-22-2014, 07:56 AM
Just listen to this travesty: https://soundcloud.com/musings-2/help-beatles-cover-with-ally-subak

It shouldn't be legal to do this to the Beatles.

That's so bad, it's a parody, not a cover version.

Elephantfarts
10-23-2014, 12:19 AM
Yeah it really would be perfect parody of this style of singing, but unfortunately it has been made unironically. I heard it and it was last straw for me, prompting me to Google "indie girl singing," which led me here. Had to share.

MeanOldLady
10-24-2014, 06:34 PM
Ha ha, yes, Elephantfarts. Share the hate!

b_t_
10-27-2014, 08:55 PM
I also got to this forum via a google search - a search for "annoying style of singing" got me to this thread, and it was exactly what I was trying to figure out! I think I've sort of noticed it for years, but tonight my wife is listening to "the voice" and hearing one of the contestants made it click. I too associate it with Grey's Anatomy. Not only does that show feature these kinds of singers, the contrived writing seems a good match with this affected singing style.

MeanOldLady
10-28-2014, 07:00 PM
I absolutely love that people share my hate. :) I especially love that people are irritated enough to Google "what the hell is this annoying shit called anyway?" Makes my smile

People here have (unnecessary) attitude about bumping old threads, but every time I see this one bumped, I think with glee "YES! Another hater."

Saintly Loser
10-28-2014, 09:28 PM
Just listen to this travesty: https://soundcloud.com/musings-2/help-beatles-cover-with-ally-subak

It shouldn't be legal to do this to the Beatles.

That is an obscene profanation of a piece of actual music.

And of course there's a ukelele involved.

squeegee
10-28-2014, 10:14 PM
the weird Midwestern diphthong thing Armstrong popularized.Wait, what? Green Day started in Berkeley CA, and Armstrong's vocals sound very much urban-Californian to me (though a different strain than Moon Zappa's older LA take). A slacker-California accent. What here is "midwestern"?

Ranger Jeff
10-28-2014, 11:36 PM
I can see "waify" used to describe this vocal style. It strikes me that they're not belting a song out, they're singing at a speaking volume and letting the microphone do the work, which may not be a wonderful thing. But on the other hand, the vocals sound clean, they're not over processed or auto-tuned or compressed. You'll never hear Britney Spears singing into a clean mic.

I'm not crazy about the popping up a 5th or so in the middle of a measure for one note and then dropping back down to where they were before, but I guess that's just the style.

Ellis Dee
10-29-2014, 12:14 AM
Just listen to this travesty: https://soundcloud.com/musings-2/help-beatles-cover-with-ally-subak

It shouldn't be legal to do this to the Beatles.My head just exploded from the awfulness.

Ranger Jeff
10-29-2014, 06:49 AM
My head just exploded from the awfulness.

Slowly rocking the volume pot on the lead singer's mike for a lousy tremolo effect? Didn't Tommy James and the Shondells teach everyone about tremolo on lead vocals?

shuckslbj
02-25-2015, 02:55 PM
Holy shit. I'm so glad people are noticing this fucking coy, misophonia-inducing STD of a vocal style. I started picking up on it about 7 years ago. My girlfriend and I call it the "sick cat" voice. The "Help" cover on soundcloud might be the best (worst) example I've ever heard, so props to whoever found that.

It kind of gained steam via Cat Power and (to a lesser degree) Erin McKeown, who've been mentioned, and fucking Colin Meloy from the Decemberists. The worst offenders I've found are Laura Gibson, Keaton Henson and Lorde. Lorde is a little different from the breathy, wispy style we're mostly talking about, but she does a lot of the same ass-raping of vowels, and it has nothing to do with being Australian.

It drives me insane to see shit like that Get Lucky cover (posted above) getting widespread acclaim. I'm thinking "NOBODY THINKS THIS STYLE IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT OR EVEN NOTICES THE TREND?"

I know I'm late to the party, but I have a few names to contribute.

Colin Meloy - Crane Wife 2
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes - Mother
Goldbloc feat. Solei - Days Are Dreaming
Kate Davis & Postmodern Jukebox - All About That (Upright) Bass
Keaton Henson - To Your Health
Laura Gibson - La Grande
Laura Gibson - Spirited
Lorde - Team
Sylvan Esso - Coffee (great music, but the voice gets to me)


I am king hater of this nasty shit. I could get cancer of the ear canal just thinking about it. Anyone is welcome to hit me back with more hate. If you despise it as much as I do, let's be friends - www.facebook.com/shuckslbj

stillownedbysetters
02-25-2015, 07:25 PM
I kinda hate to say this, because I like both of these singers, but you can hear early iterations of this style in Joni Mitchell and Suzanne Vega. Obviously both of these ladies could actually sing, but they both could and did use a breathy delivery for effect in a fair amount of their output.

So for my two cents on the subject, I think this all got started when some girls that couldn't really sing decided to amp up the breathiness that they heard in these previous singers. Then when one of these non-singers got popular somewhere along the way, others picked it up and did it intentionally in imitation of the non-singers, not the original singers.

In any case, it should leave town on the next train. Like many of the rest of you, I find so much 'twee-ness' exhausting.

Askance
02-25-2015, 09:06 PM
Lorde is a little different from the breathy, wispy style we're mostly talking about, but she does a lot of the same ass-raping of vowels, and it has nothing to do with being Australian.
Indeed, nothing whatsoever, as she's from New Zealand.

WOOKINPANUB
02-25-2015, 09:16 PM
Though she does more upbeat, dance style tunes, as opposed to slow, folky stuff, I'd like to add Ms. Ellie Goulding to the list.

Next up, let's talk about singers who sound like braying asses. Rhianna(and Madonna before her) I'm talkin' to you girl.

Stringbean
02-25-2015, 09:29 PM
Breathy-pretentious-waify-shit

bartenational
02-26-2015, 02:14 PM
1. fauxsoul
2. plastic despair pop or P-D-Pop
3. annoy-o-sound
4. "I am faking it like a whore faking an orgasm" pop,
5. whore-tone

MeanOldLady
02-27-2015, 01:07 AM
Whore-tone, yes!

Man, every time I see this thread bumped, I am filled with glee knowing someone Googled "What the fuck is this bullshit, anyway?" and I rejoice. Rejoice, brothers and sisters. Feel the hate!

bucketybuck
02-27-2015, 04:06 AM
I call this style, "silly little girl singing in her bedroom with her eyes closed, wiping her bangs from her eyes and dreaming that shes singing in a coffee shop with a hundred hipster fuckwits hanging on her every word".

Broadway Baby
03-01-2015, 04:12 PM
I am so happy I have found people who understand how terrible this genre is. It makes me so angry when I hear it. People often praise people who 'sing' like this by saying they're voice are so wonderfully 'unique'. It's not! It's all over the place!

I have a friend who does this and sings in dingy bars with her portable keyboard where we live. Everyone praises her. It sounds like a cat dying, slowly, painfully...

I will never understand this style of 'vocal's.

What happened to legitimately trained singers?

swazzyswess
03-01-2015, 05:51 PM
I found this board by googling "annoying twee girl singing." I've developed an irrational hatred of this singing over the last few years. I can't take it anymore! Combine this singing with a "ohh ohhhh ohhhhh" group singalong chorus, maybe throw in a glockenspiel or something, and you've stumbled upon the perfect formula for faceless commercial music. except some people actually listen to it on their own for enjoyment. these are dark times.

Octarine
03-01-2015, 06:29 PM
Well early in Regina's career hear recordings were almost all piano and voice, and her singing style had much more range. Check out this song. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiGLex6jcDg) (By the way, what genius produced "All You've Got Time"? Where did he get his backing track from, rejected Toto sessions?)

Yep - Regina Spektor is a prime example of an unusual artist who, after getting big, was pop-ified. I actually like most of her stuff, old or new, but I agree that her early stuff is far more sit-in-your-dark-bedroom-and-take-it-all-in than later pieces. Pavlov's Daughter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7mPppJYUwI), Daniel Cowman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhk_S0HyQp4), and, to a lesser extent, Us (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzrC72Xv6pE) are all far more anti-folk than songs like Fidelity.

MeanOldLady
03-02-2015, 10:54 AM
I am so happy I have found people who understand how terrible this genre is. It makes me so angry when I hear it. People often praise people who 'sing' like this by saying they're voice are so wonderfully 'unique'. It's not! It's all over the place!They're clearly using some definition of "unique" that I'm unfamiliar with, because they insist on using this term while referring to something irritatingly ubiquitous. Maybe their definition means "every goddamn place and totally fucking stupid."

It sounds like a cat dying, slowly, painfully...A cat dying would be more enjoyable to listen to.

Helena330
03-02-2015, 01:16 PM
I listened to that Beatles travesty and immediately thought "dying animals".

outlierrn
03-02-2015, 01:22 PM
I call this style, "silly little girl singing in her bedroom with her eyes closed, wiping her bangs from her eyes and dreaming that shes singing in a coffee shop with a hundred hipster fuckwits hanging on her every word".

Not bad, but I'm gonna go with waif pop, for the sake of brevity.

Azurenex
03-12-2015, 08:42 AM
Goddamn, it feels great to find a thread of people hating this style as much as I do. I started to think maybe the similarity was just in my head.

I gotta add though: I dont think its just girls singing like this. I Think there are guys doing exactly the same rubbish.

Passenger
Hozier
Woodkid
Greg Laswell

and probably tons of other trash.

Chefguy
03-12-2015, 09:57 AM
Breathy-pretentious-waify-shit

This music isn't waify. This (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KULqX2UqYg) is waify. Claudine Longet was annoying people back in the 60s and 70s with her breathy bullshit.

Groobus
03-15-2015, 10:07 AM
I hate this crap!! It seems every advert on tv these days has some annoying girl murdering a classic tune in this super-twee-asthma-girly-pop style. Its like a female version of hunger-dunger-dang.

There are so many of them out there these days but Diana Vickers has to be the worst perpetrator of this style, she took it and turned it up to eleven

Tangent
03-15-2015, 02:19 PM
Man, this thread attracts new posters like flies to honey.

Boyo Jim
03-15-2015, 11:04 PM
...
If you want to come up with a specific name for it it'd be a good thing to figure out who most popularized it. Not sure who that'd be.

There'd be no point unless you could go back in time and kill them.

Boyo Jim
03-15-2015, 11:05 PM
This music isn't waify. This (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KULqX2UqYg) is waify. Claudine Longet was annoying people back in the 60s and 70s with her breathy bullshit.

Now I know why she was shot!

foolsguinea
03-16-2015, 12:38 AM
Is this, "Ladies who sing like Duffy"?

bucketybuck
03-16-2015, 03:28 AM
There are so many of them out there these days but Diana Vickers has to be the worst perpetrator of this style, she took it and turned it up to eleven

Don't tell me she is still around? I remember her from the X factor but that was years ago now and I assumed she had fucked off back to obscurity. She was definitely the poster child for this, with bonus points for always holding a hand up by her face while trying to squeeze words out her nose.

foolsguinea
03-16-2015, 03:51 AM
Wait, no, I was misled by one of the OP's links, and I thought this was the Duffy/Winehouse/MarkRonson axis of soul. Lot of sorta-soundalikes there, too.

This is the Regina Spektor wannabe brigade, and the not-actually-singing-because-we're-folky part of it, and the bit of how you can take any composition and redo it in generic indie style and people might praise you for making it sound...generic and coffeehouse.

OK.

No, Suzanne Vega sang, kids. But I can see how you get from Vega to Spektor to this trend.

With some decent arrangements, you can make breathy work. Sóley does all right, I think, though she's not everyone's cup of tea. But that's in doing more interesting instrumentation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqH-q-u-zZQ

CGav8r
03-16-2015, 08:50 AM
I don't mind a *teensy* bit of breathiness every 5 or 6 songs on your album, but I don't want it to be 95% of your style. Same with vocal fry.

But I don't know why so much of this stuff drives me freaking batty. Perhaps it's cuz I'm in my mid-40's and it's generational, but every time my 22 year old niece posts a Pamplamouse video on Facebook, I find a rising irritation as I watch it. I'm not even sure why the style gets under my skin.

Now, I enjoy some of Ingrid Michaelson's music ("Won't Die Alone" is a catchy l'il earworm that I'll turn up when it comes on Pandora), but her version (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCAQyCkwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D5sQeQC4hT10&ei=Rt4GVd3FEoHggwSf3YDoCQ&usg=AFQjCNHb3Wiap9OwGDdvral2hP6BtOD8gQ&bvm=bv.88198703,d.eXY)of "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" will make my usually-ice-cold blood boil, (she plays with a ukulele fer Chrissakes!)

I will say that there are plenty of singers mentioned that I enjoy (I've been known to go on a Cat Power trip), but there are others who get under my skin with that quirky stuff. And I'd put the breathy waifs at an even tie in irritation-inducing with the melisma-istas that are all over "The Voice".

Equipoise
03-16-2015, 01:43 PM
Now I know why she was shot!I think that was a joke, but just in case others take it seriously, she wasn't shot. She shot and killed her boyfriend (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudine_Longet), Olympic Skier Frances "Spider" Sabich, and totally got away with it, paying a small fine and spending 30 days in jail. People love you and don't think you're a raging maniac when you're adorable and sing adorably.

foolsguinea
03-16-2015, 04:04 PM
I think that was a joke, but just in case others take it seriously, she wasn't shot. She shot and killed her boyfriend (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudine_Longet), Olympic Skier Frances "Spider" Sabich, and totally got away with it, paying a small fine and spending 30 days in jail. People love you and don't think you're a raging maniac when you're adorable and sing adorably.Spider's mother was named Frances. His name was Spider (or Vladimir Peter). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_Sabich

Equipoise
03-16-2015, 04:32 PM
Spider's mother was named Frances. His name was Spider (or Vladimir Peter). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_SabichYou're right. I read it too fast.

Monkeywrench
04-04-2015, 08:19 PM
First, thanks for introducing me to Corinne Bailey Rae. She does the voice a bit, but it's minor and only for a line or two a song, and she uses it as a technique among a huge range of technique. She is awesome in my opinion.

I think that cover of Help is the best example. It's more the accent that these girls are singing with that bothers me so much. I don't mind a little vocal fry. It's the cutesy scary white girl version of a black jazz singer with an English accent teenage cat lady accent that bothers me so much. It's just so overused. I go to open mic nights and its seems 90% of women sing like this, especially if they are pretty and not especially talented. It works on people who think "oh she sounds like the girl who is on the car commercial so that's valid. also she's hot."

What is with the male version of this, that's not so quiet but still has the accent and overused vocal style? Mumford and sons, Avett Brothers, Fleet foxes, M ward, Tallest man on earth (some of who are awesome, but fit in this example). I don't mind the male version as much for some reason. Look both these guys are doing it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j38NBRvhDGI

Octarine
04-05-2015, 08:25 AM
What is with the male version of this, that's not so quiet but still has the accent and overused vocal style? Mumford and sons, Avett Brothers, Fleet foxes, M ward, Tallest man on earth (some of who are awesome, but fit in this example). I don't mind the male version as much for some reason. Look both these guys are doing it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j38NBRvhDGI

Even though guys doing the waif-y thing aren't as irritating, I think there's a parallel for them. Although it's not the same, the "annoying overused vocal style that takes no talent" for men would be what I call monotoning. It's used a lot in indie/emo styles, and it's basically writing a song that has two or three notes, then droning badly written "look at my SADNESS" lyrics over them.

BwanaBob
04-06-2015, 12:24 PM
Would the opening theme song from the British crime drama "Luther" count as an example? I loathe that singer with a passion.

mamalama
04-13-2015, 06:40 AM
I hate this singing style as well, it literally drives me completely mad. I found this forum by doing a google search. I wish there were a name for it too. They always a let a bunch of them in on American idol, and praise their "unique" style. There is nothing unique about it, because every young girl singer is doing it! No one sings like that naturally, it is all put on! For awhile there, everyone was copying Kelly Clarkson's singing style, and now it is this. Can't wait until fad goes away, I hate it!!!

Gatt
06-13-2015, 11:33 PM
I got here by Googling "female singers today all sound alike."

And I too cannot stand this type of singing...especially any semblance of vocal fry which is so popular with girls today.

IMO, this singing style mirrors the lazy, passionless way that young people go on about their lives these days and it comes out in the music of "artists." And since it's popular, the record company whores have no intention of fixing something that's not broken.

This style of music annoys me to a point way beyond just having to hear it in the supermarket or a restaurant. It defines a generation of young people that I cannot understand as they are so different from Generation X. I know I'm making a blanket statement here by calling this Millennial generation lazy and passionless, but that's what I feel when I hear this crap. It may not define everyone in this age range, but I feel it's a fair generalization.

I miss music that feels genuine; music that had emotion, power, feeling to it. These days, I'm not hearing that.

drad dog
06-14-2015, 12:13 AM
Good thread.
My feeling is that in the beginning of these things it's always someone with real talent. The imitators make a sham of it. Cat Power is great, to me. No problem.
Nelly McKaye: I was ready to like her. Seems a shame that something so smart could be that annoying on second listen. Weird.

I've been a fan of Juliana Hatfield since she started. Saw the Blake Babies half a dozen times. I noticed over the years that chick singers were reminding me of her. I even once heard a beer commercial with Juliana chords and vocal style. Anyone else hear it in relation to this sound? We're going back to late 80's here.

How about Dave Matthews and David Gray? Off topic or just as annoying? Did I touch a nerve?

Here's a chick who does NOT sing that way, to cleanse your palate perhaps: liz Phair. First LP is a monster IMO.

Sid Krinkle
07-18-2015, 12:03 PM
Hi folks first post here...%^#%@$#

I was googling this affectation -trying to zone in on what it is and found you guys. Trying to figure out if there were others that found this thing to be annoying, pretentious and downright baffling.

..I have a friend, a girl, who has an amazing voice. But. She started singing in this affected, annoying style in the last year and it kills me to hear it.

I don't have the heart to jump out and tell her to stop fuckin' doing that!

I think a certain amount of imitation is healthy for young singers but after awhile I want to hear a person in their own voice.

I think a lot of this comes from some sort of melding of pop that's, like.."oh man that's poppy but jazzy isn't it?"

I always hear a copping of Billy Holiday and a few other old school jazz singers in there..thrift some clothes and kick it old school or some shit.

The OP posted examples of singers who clearly have decent gifts...the affectation murders it though.

Sid Krinkle
07-18-2015, 12:08 PM
Precious and moribund.


YES!!

thank you.

Sid Krinkle
07-18-2015, 12:22 PM
I wanted to edit my previous post to include some thoughts after reading this whole thread..couldn't edit??

Anyhow, saw some great names for this style in this thread..hilarious.

-waif girl
-precious and moribund
-twee girl
-fucking coy
-Starbucks music

Sure I missed a few and happy to know that I'm not alone in despising this tread shite.

GrizzyLyn
07-20-2015, 11:59 AM
The Taco Bell ad with a cover of "Mad World" is what finally sent me over the edge. The original version by Tears for Fears along with the beautiful cover by Gary Jules are enough. To have this song literally insulted by Halsey makes me so sad.

SlackerInc
07-29-2015, 05:05 PM
Can anyone come up with an earlier example then Cat Power?

I'm clearly a sucker for this affectation, because I love Cat Power and most of the others cited (including some I hadn't previously heard, so thanks for helping me expand my music library).

But doesn't this singing style (or a precursor of it, anyway) go back at least to Blossom Dearie (https://youtu.be/A0r63K_wYu4?t=98), nearly a half century before Chan Marshall entered the music scene?

drad dog
07-29-2015, 06:05 PM
I'm clearly a sucker for this affectation, because I love Cat Power and most of the others cited (including some I hadn't previously heard, so thanks for helping me expand my music library).

But doesn't this singing style (or a precursor of it, anyway) go back at least to Blossom Dearie (https://youtu.be/A0r63K_wYu4?t=98), nearly a half century before Chan Marshall entered the music scene?

I can't see cat power being part of this. She seems to have some artistic integrity thats missing in it.

Evil Captor
07-29-2015, 07:12 PM
I came across the thread (not by Googling) and I recognized the style. I have always thought of it as "Whiny-Ass White Girl singing." I was sorry to hear Nataly Dawn and Pomplamoose cited but on further listening, she fits in. However, the arrangements of the songs in Pomplamoose takes it right out of the WAWG territory. I dare you to listen to their cover of Telephone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vEStDd6HVY) and declare it pompous and moribund.

Ecstatictruth
07-30-2015, 12:49 PM
I came across this thread today (by Googling) and had to join the forum out of excitement.

Daughter were mentioned, who I initially liked, but have since become a huge ear repellent. Nataly Dawn, who I hadn't heard of until now, typifies it very well. That rising, slightly croaky 'why' at the 00:34 mark (first clip) is a particularly wince inducing affectation. It's the trying too hard to be subtle that grates.

It was definitely popularised by Zooey Deschanel in Elf for me and has become the vocal equivalent of 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl'. It is very moribund in some cases as mentioned, but also vaguely jazzy. It seems to come out of the West Coast of America a lot, but is rife in the UK too. There are examples of it that I'm drawn to and enjoy (Sylvan Esso being a recent example), but we have definitely reached critical mass for these types of singers.

I should note that I listen to a lot of female vocalists which is why I'm sensitive to it. Absolutely no mysogynist undercurrents.

As a contender for earliest example, I'd offer Astrud Gilberto and even suggest she was the pioneer on The Girl From Ipanema.

PhosphorusReclamation
08-11-2015, 10:40 AM
Glad I found this thread after a simple search!

Questions for anyone in the social sciences: has there been any ethnomusicological research on the persistence of this style? Anything to do with 'authenticity'? Has it eclipsed hyper-melisma in popularity?

SlackerInc
08-11-2015, 05:41 PM
Interesting questions! Can even the haters acknowledge that it is far easier to listen to than hyper-melisma?

Noogah
08-13-2015, 04:17 PM
Hello fellow haters of what I will now call the 'waify' style (thanks LC Strawhouse for this very descriptive correlative).

I made an account just for the purposes of reveling in our mutual ire at this atrocious fad, and to offer a theory I have regarding its nature. I first noticed this style with Regina Spektor and Pomplamoose; then yesterday at work, I heard something that absolutely drove me crazy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0bS-YnLf4s

The amount of irritation I feel listening to this song is not rational. Not only am I irritated by the selfish, flippant lyrics, but the absurdly childish manner in which the song is sung. We have an adult singer, in an adult body, singing in a whiny style that is reminiscent of toddler-speak. If you bother to watch the associated video, you will note that the singer is also engaged in a number of childlike behaviors - like sitting on a kitchen counter licking a popsicle.

It is evident to me that there is an association with this style, and a kind of child-like vulnerability on the part of the singer. I do believe the 'waify' style is a western incarnation of what the Japanese call 'burikko' (ぶりっ子). Burriko is a disposition adopted by many Japanese females, which involves speaking and singing with an affected pronunciation in order to evoke pre-adolescence, carrying oneself with childlike posture, and misusing honorifics in a manner that imitates schoolchildren.

This may not be the primary reason that artists choose to sing in this way. I do agree that many have adopted it only because it is popular - but I also think it is an underlying aspect of this style, and it is certainly the primary reason why I hate it.

I don't understand why someone would want to sing with an accent and stress that does not resemble the way anyone speaks in real life, including the artist. It seems like an attempt to easily develop an original 'style', when it's really just sloppy pronunciation. It also feels very disingenuous, and not like a real expression of feeling on the part of the singer, because of course, everyone knows the singer doesn't really sound like that.

Everything the 'waify' style touches turns to ash.

drad dog
08-13-2015, 04:27 PM
Yeah that last one is apotheopoetic.

Does anyone here dislike Gwen Stefani and her singing as much as I do? I have felt like I was in an alternate universe ever since she became (Popular?) I find it hard to write that.

SlackerInc
08-14-2015, 04:07 AM
Thanks for posting that video, Noogah. I was starting to wonder if I was completely knee-jerk contrariwise to everyone else in this thread, a sucker for anything with this vocal style. But that song is boring, and the singing doesn't fit with the electronica accompanying it. Total fail.

MeanOldLady
08-17-2015, 02:08 PM
Noogah, I like you. I feel like we should go on a date.

Himezakura
09-29-2015, 12:58 AM
Oh boy. Before I found this thread, I thought I was the only one who felt this way about these singers! I listen to Korean and Japanese music, and a couple singers have made it big with this style... Sometimes (and depending on the artist, often times) I like the song itself, but the singing just creates a terrible itch in my nerves, and I start hunting through the interwebs for people who agree, so I can validate that I'm not the only one who is aggravated by this.

Now, I can understand an occasional wispiness for stylistic effect, but these people sing, all day long, for every song in this way. The thing that just puts me over the edge? People who say how "unique" that singer's voice is. In fact, today someone I know remarked how a certain singer's voice "is so unique, that once you hear it once, you'll never forget it." Uh huh. Riiight. So unique. So unique that I couldn't even remember what she sounded like, just that she sounded really generic. When I passively commented, "Really? I don't really think her voice is that unique...," I got a cold stare. I'm sure other singers could sing in this way too, if they wanted, but they actually know how to sing to preserve their voices and breaths. In fact, many of these girls sound just AWFUL live because they're basically leaking air and can't breathe well.

What's more, these girls are often accompanied by looks. If these girls were the opposite of attractive and young, nobody would listen past the second measure. When googling this phenomena, it appears that studies have actually been conducted about peoples' preferences(http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062397), suggesting that breathiness is associated with softness and gentleness.

It seems that this singing style combines with a small, delicate frame to provide an image of gentleness and weakness some people like.

A Korean singer, er pop idol IU sings like this, and people LOVE to talk about how unique her voice is blahblahblah, but when she accidentally posted a photo if herself with a half-naked guy, suddenly they didn't like her voice so much anymore.

Also, YUI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGYj5F1OD9w I'm sure there are others, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

Not too familiar with male singers, so I can't really comment. Sorry.

bucketybuck
09-29-2015, 02:44 AM
The Rugby world cup is currently taking place in England and the channel ITV are showing most of the games. Which is a shame because this is the fucking travesty that they are using as the intro/outro music before the show and around the ad breaks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0m-YnH0j78

Paloma Faith absolutely butchering "World in Union", every time I hear a clip it makes me want to rip my ears off and bolt some sound deadening pads in their place. Nasally waify bullshit that takes a great song and makes it unlistenable, who the hell thought that was a good idea. :mad:

amanset
09-29-2015, 03:57 AM
Maybe it is that I grew up listening to Shoegazing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoegazing), but I seem to have always liked this sort of stuff. Slowdive, for example, employ it for both their male and female singers. Take this track (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRYAOAd6iJQ) from 1991 or from a completely male take, this one (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eR3sv_RgBE) from 1994.

I'd take it over the vocal masturbation of the types you get on TV "talent" shows any day of the week.

SlackerInc
09-29-2015, 10:23 PM
I love me some shoegazer music too, although I wonder if this is the kind of singing meant by the OP.

McDoogins
09-29-2015, 10:37 PM
I love me some shoegazer music too, although I wonder if this is the kind of singing meant by the OP.

Only shoegaze music I know is Explosions in the Sky and M83.

Chicken Fingers
09-29-2015, 11:53 PM
I think Suzanne Vega (now in her 50s) was the original annoying waif voice for me. Loathe her, loathe her less talented waif-daughters even more.

caligulathegod
09-30-2015, 12:25 AM
But doesn't this singing style (or a precursor of it, anyway) go back at least to Blossom Dearie (https://youtu.be/A0r63K_wYu4?t=98), nearly a half century before Chan Marshall entered the music scene?

THAT'S who I was thinking of. I was trying to find some School House Rock videos that she did to demonstrate it was much older than the 90s but I was having no luck.

I do have to admit a cheesy affection for Donna Lewis, who did the same style.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqdWTeXWvOg

SlackerInc
09-30-2015, 02:09 AM
Whoa, that is a pop song I had long forgotten existed but now recall that it was indeed a guilty pleasure of mine as well.

Glad to hear someone agrees about Blossom Dearie! It's fun, kind of like researching the origin of slang words, to feel like you've found the earliest cite. :)

amanset
09-30-2015, 04:26 AM
I love me some shoegazer music too, although I wonder if this is the kind of singing meant by the OP.

It was more the very breathy style. Not all shoegazing is like that, but the likes of Slowdive were. In my opinion.

amanset
09-30-2015, 04:28 AM
Only shoegaze music I know is Explosions in the Sky and M83.

Explosions in the Sky are post rock. Quite different.

SlackerInc
09-30-2015, 04:31 AM
It was more the very breathy style. Not all shoegazing is like that, but the likes of Slowdive were. In my opinion.

Without speaking for the OP, my sense of the music s/he posted is that the style involves spare instrumentation and a kind of meandering, almost halting, vocal style. Shoegazer is very flowing and far from spare.

Novelty Bobble
09-30-2015, 04:50 AM
The Rugby world cup is currently taking place in England and the channel ITV are showing most of the games. Which is a shame because this is the fucking travesty that they are using as the intro/outro music before the show and around the ad breaks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0m-YnH0j78

Paloma Faith absolutely butchering "World in Union", every time I hear a clip it makes me want to rip my ears off and bolt some sound deadening pads in their place. Nasally waify bullshit that takes a great song and makes it unlistenable, who the hell thought that was a good idea. :mad:

Oh yes, this. A thousand times this. She seems a lovely young lady but I fear I might happily kill her with fire.

It is a modern pestilence that needs stamping out. There is no song that is actually improved by covering it in this fashion. Jose Gonzalez dig a decent job with a waify-style cover of "heartbeat" but the original was far better.

But possibly the worst example, and I hesitate to inflict this on you all, is this (http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/nov/08/renault-zoe-thats-entertainment-advert) fucking travesty.

Paul Weller created one of the greatest songs of misery, despair, hopelessness and urban decay. Possibly the most sarcastic title of any song ever and it gets turned in a helpless, gutless little ditty to sell a Renault. I get the feeling that when that came out and Weller saw it, he spent some considerable time just staring into space, clenching and unclenching his fists with his eyes twitching occasionally. I know I did.

bucketybuck
09-30-2015, 06:25 AM
But possibly the worst example, and I hesitate to inflict this on you all, is this (http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/nov/08/renault-zoe-thats-entertainment-advert) fucking travesty.

Oh for fucks sake, thats just awful, I'd rather not have known about that. :mad:

Novelty Bobble
09-30-2015, 06:41 AM
Oh for fucks sake, thats just awful, I'd rather not have known about that. :mad:

I am truly sorry, but it is better that you know such things exist, sunlight is the best disinfectant and all that.

SciFiSam
09-30-2015, 07:34 AM
But possibly the worst example, and I hesitate to inflict this on you all, is this (http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/nov/08/renault-zoe-thats-entertainment-advert) fucking travesty.



That one really needs the word "not" added before entertainment. Or maybe after a la Wayne's World.

Tangent
09-30-2015, 08:08 AM
This thread has got to be in the lead for 'Most times resurrected by someone who joined SDMB just to post in this thread.' Will that fit on a trophy?

amanset
10-13-2015, 03:02 PM
This popped up recently in my Facebook timeline:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/reggieugwu/what-is-indie-pop-voice#.kiNvNYwRg

SlackerInc
10-13-2015, 03:25 PM
Great article, amanset--thanks. Interesting to me that those examples seem more "pop" than "indie" to me, whereas most of those offered earlier in this thread are more toward the other end of the spectrum. Wouldn't be the first time a trend has worked its way in that direction.

AHunter3
10-13-2015, 03:36 PM
I sympathize but it's not like affected singing styles is something new to the world of pop. The first trend to get on my nerves (about 45 years ago if you're curious) was the ersatz-countrified pronunciations by rock and pop artists. Sexxeh for sexy, singin' for singing, sugaah for sugar,
that sort of thing.

Lex1
12-01-2015, 08:40 PM
Yet another person who found this thread by Googling. In my case I used "annoying little girl voice." Bingo.

Thank God I am not alone in despising this hellborn affected style. I draw strength and consolation from my fellow haters.

I have no clever rationale to explain its popularity. I can only share more examples.

First, a song I thought I liked. The Cowboy Junkies cover of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4XVJj4jER4

My excuse for liking it is that it was years ago and I'd never heard the style before. The CJ's were virtually alone at the time in using it.

Then about a year ago I watched an iPhone ad entitled Parenthood. The combination of cloying video and a little girl voice singing in the background nauseated me. My first thought was that Steve Jobs was going to rise from his grave and rip off the head of Tim Cook.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9q_61anHk

And finally, at the start of this Christmas season Dick's Sporting Goods started running an ad featuring a cover of the Beatles From Me to You.

http://www.popisms.com/TelevisionCommercial/116836/Dicks-Sporting-Goods-Commercial-2015-pres.aspx

Effing awful.

SlackerInc
12-02-2015, 05:55 PM
The second and third links are perfectly serviceable examples of the style (although I don't hate them since I am one of the only dissenters on this thread). I am at a loss to understand, however, where you are getting the idea that the Cowboy Junkies cover fits. :confused:

WOOKINPANUB
12-03-2015, 09:48 AM
The second and third links are perfectly serviceable examples of the style (although I don't hate them since I am one of the only dissenters on this thread). I am at a loss to understand, however, where you are getting the idea that the Cowboy Junkies cover fits. :confused:

I lovvvvve that CJ cover, and even I must admit that Ms. Timmins is waifin' it up. I also think that, like Lex 1, that was the first song that I remember hearing the singer using that style and it was new and oh so sexy (and I'm a straight chick). Sadly, if I were hearing it for the first time today, I might not like it as well.

Lex1
12-03-2015, 11:10 AM
I lovvvvve that CJ cover, and even I must admit that Ms. Timmins is waifin' it up. I also think that, like Lex 1, that was the first song that I remember hearing the singer using that style and it was new and oh so sexy (and I'm a straight chick). Sadly, if I were hearing it for the first time today, I might not like it as well.

That's the way I feel about it. The song gets a pass because of when I first heard it.

That song in the Parenthood as, is especially vile. You only got to hear 60 seconds of it in the ad. The full song is much, much, worse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XepF45x_Lbk

Julie Doiron, waif singer.

Abner Ravenwood
12-03-2015, 12:54 PM
How about indie-riffic?

Monkeywrench
12-19-2015, 09:39 PM
https://vine.co/v/OTg0nO2mFKU

Watch this guy make fun of what I call the Indie Witch-Girl singing style. It's when girls think they sound like an old timey jazz singer but actually just sound like a dying cat or a cutesy old british woman.

And how about Daughter? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzI_GrBP2HM

SlackerInc
12-19-2015, 11:48 PM
Another good song! Regardless of the intent, I have added a number of good tracks to my Apple Music playlists thanks to this thread. :p

And yes: that Vine guy is clever, and funny. But just because something can be parodied does not inherently make it bad.

pulykamell
12-20-2015, 12:39 AM
That's the way I feel about it. The song gets a pass because of when I first heard it.

I just heard this on the radio the other day again, and it doesn't quite have the same kind of overly affected singing style that I associate with the music mentioned in the OP. It's whispery and sexy, but doesn't having the annoying idiosyncratic inflections and vowel contortionism that I associate with the "indie chick" vocal styling. Margo still sings it pretty straight, but in a whispery register.

SlackerInc
12-20-2015, 12:44 AM
Yes! Thank you. I thought I was losing my mind, with everyone claiming it fit.

BigT
12-20-2015, 04:30 AM
And finally, at the start of this Christmas season Dick's Sporting Goods started running an ad featuring a cover of the Beatles From Me to You.

http://www.popisms.com/TelevisionCommercial/116836/Dicks-Sporting-Goods-Commercial-2015-pres.aspx

Effing awful.

Wow. That one is especially vile because of the people singing with her. The guy tries to harmonize with her whisper and can't even stay in tune. And then the full "choir" comes in and absolutely cannot blend with her voice.

I mean, while it's not my usual cup of tea, I can appreciate that voice when it's used for an appropriate reason. But it just sounds awful here.

BigT
12-20-2015, 04:34 AM
I just heard this on the radio the other day again, and it doesn't quite have the same kind of overly affected singing style that I associate with the music mentioned in the OP. It's whispery and sexy, but doesn't having the annoying idiosyncratic inflections and vowel contortionism that I associate with the "indie chick" vocal styling. Margo still sings it pretty straight, but in a whispery register.

I concur. That's not the style at all. She's just using a bit of whisper to add a smokey quality to her voice. It's not high and thin like the indie-girl voice. It's airy to add a bit a sexiness, not a wistful tone. The upper harmonics are still present, and she's got a bit of a speak-sing tone.

In short, she still sounds like a strong woman, not a waif.

shuckslbj
01-29-2016, 09:27 PM
Although Father John Misty doesn't sing in the sick cat voice, I find him annoying as a person. BUT - I'm pretty sure he's talking about what we're talking about in his song "The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment":

We sang "Silent Night" in three parts which was fun
Til she said that she sounds just like Sarah Vaughan
I hate that soulful affectation white girls put on


A lot of people who sing like this seem to think they're doing a jazz thing, like a Billie Holiday style. Let's not demonize the accidental godparents of this style, though – Mr. Bungle shouldn't be blamed for Korn, for instance. Ya dig? Just wanted to highlight that someone in the world whence most of these singers spawn is aware of, and dislikes, that style.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.