Is there a name for this hyper-annoying singing style?

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 - Nataly Dawn
Example - Nataly Dawn annoying me again
Example - Wild Belle
Example - 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.


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.”

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.

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.

The Wild Belle was the least annoying of them, and is something I could actually like if she weren’t singing that way.

Simple indeed. Almost too simple and a bit unfair to indie singers who don’t engage in this silliness.

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.

Cat Power?

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.)

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.

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:

To my untrained ears, it kind of sounds like the result of people, who imitated people, who imitated people, who imitated Rickie Lee Jones.

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

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.

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”

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.

Very annoying. She’s on my list. (Not the good one.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

Ted: Look at me, I’m every singer in the 90s! Thay’er’s nuthin’ I can doooa, I oahnlea wanna beah with youaieiai…

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

Nelly Furtado

The Weepies

Colbie Caillat

and so on.