He has a rather unique singing voice, no? Have many people attempted to sound like him since he started recording, or did he actually draw his influence from someone who sang the same way perhaps? And, is there actually a name for his style of singing? Overall, what was the main motivation behind such a voice?
The main motivation behind such a voice? A swollen tongue.
Contributing factor? An inability or unwillingness to open the mouth fully.
Compounded by? Tone deafness of considerable magnitude.
Yep. It’s called “background.”
For further info, see Steely Dan’s album Aja, on which McDonald’s voice was used to its best advantage the only time ever.
Many moons ago, there was an SCTV sketch about Michael. It starts off with Christopher Cross recording “Ride Like the Wind” (in which Michael sings “…a long way to go…” as backup). Apparently Michael oversleeps and fights his way through traffic and gets to the studio just in time to sing his only line.
Michael McDonald was invited by Steeley Dan’s Donald Fagen to be one of the lead singers for The New York Rock and Soul Revue, released as an album in 1991. From Fagen’s liner notes:
Add “touring” before “band” above. Thanks.
This is only vaguely related to the OP, but I had to share.
Late Night with Conan O’Brien ran a skit that contained children attending a Michael McDonald camp rather than a Ronald McDonald camp. Pure genius. Particularly funny was the guy singing in that distinctive Mike McDonald way to a group of kids as he handed them cookies.
“…I have chocolate chip for you, and David, I know you like oatmeal…” I think it was to tune of “What a Fool Believes.”
I snorted up my beverage because of that skit.
“Milk and cookies, here’s a chocolate chip; I know [name] likes oat-meal…”
That was actually to the tune of “Sweet Freedom”. “Taking It To The Streets” 's tune was used for the Buddy System lecture, and I can’t remember what “What a Fool Believes” was used for. I thought I was the only one who thought that was funny.
So, I’m guessing ol’ McDonald devised such a singing style?
OP reminds me that my younger sis used to hate Michael McDonald’s voice. And everytime she’s say so I’d immediately annoy her with my best impression of “Shine sweet freedom…”
Heh heh, and that’s what big brothers are for…
There was a soundalike singer with the song “Steal Away.” I can’t remember his last name, but I think his first name was Robbie.
Why don’t we steal away?
Why don’t we steal away into the night?
I know it ain’t right…
In all fairness, the singer who you might best describe as a Butterscotched Bobby Darin did make one valuable cultural contribution: the very funny, self-parodic “Eyes of a Child” for the South Park movie closing credits.
He has a whiny quality to his voice at worst, but he does great melodies. I’ve generally enjoyed his music DESPITE the whiny edge, which says quite a lot, since normally I find whininess quite annoying.
I stand corrected, Joe K. I wish there was a place where I could see all my favorite Conan bits and get them right. That one was right up there with “puppets rubbernecking.”
He’s a great talent. Maybe sounds a little to much like the great Boltonious on the new Sing Sealed Delivered cover.
I like Michael McDonald’s voice…but it’s hard for me to listen to him now.
Waaaaaaaaaaay back when Running Scared came out and stupid “Sweet Freedom” was inescapable, I saw the video several times…and near the end of it, there’s a scene where he’s singing and spit flies out of his mouth. It bugged the heck out of me then, and the memory bugs the heck out of me now. “Did no one NOTICE that? Couldn’t they do that scene ONE MORE TIME?” So now every time I think “Michael McDonald,” I think “AGH! Sloppy lip-synching! Bad video directing! Agh!”
…was a singer with Jefferson Airplane, I believe I had heard? Is thsi correct? (and/or, one of the group’s many resurrections thereof) - Jinx
Part of what accounted for McDonald’s unique singing voice was his technique of singing as if he was having oral sex with the microphone. Half the time you couldn’t tell where the beard stopped and the mic started.
Huge fan, though. And I can’t believe this thread has gone on so long without a mention of the famous Doobie Brothers episode of “What’s Happening!”…
…or Yah Mo B There.
They’re not related…but they do be brothers.
I understood the intent of the song, but what the hell does “Yah Mo B There” mean, anyway?!
Funny you mention that- I bought a bootleg of that show just a little while ago. Unfortunately all I could hear was a fat kid eating popcorn and someone singing “Fly Me To The Moon”…