Precious and moribund. I first noticed how much I hated it when a Pomplamouse video covering Beyonce’s Single Ladies went viral in 2009.
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.
Somebody on the SDMB got me hooked on a podcast called Coverville, 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’s “Get Lucky” by Daughter. 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.
I think of it as a “Yodel” and yeah it can be annoying…
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
Does Regina Spector’s “All You’ve Got Time” (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.
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.
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.
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.
She has traces of it, but isn’t over the top annoying with it. I’ll let her live.
I hate this style of singing. I call it the “I’m just a girl” voice. Makes me nuts.
Regina Spektor sometimes sounds close to that, to me…maybe in Fidelity?
Anyway, if she qualifies, her Wikipedia entry says her music is associated with the “anti-folk scene,” although that seems to be about ironic content, not sound per se.
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.
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 and Samson. 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.
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:
The term “vocal fry” has already been mentioned, but let me give a video illustrating it:
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.
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!”
There’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.
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!”
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.
Interesting. I definitely don’t think of her as being someone who epitomizes this sort of singing. Affected yes, but breathy and waify, no.
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”