kids like to ask why a 48-year old like me enjoys watching glee. i just tell them i like to listen to young voices, and it’s true. i think a young singing voice is one of the wonders of the natural world. the clearness and quality is a fleeting phenomenon that will eventually fade. that is not to say, of course, that people past 30 have no business singing. the greatest classical pieces, particularly soprano arias, were achieved by singers well past 30. but i see this more of an indication of maturity, training and discipline. young virtuosos can deliver as well as the carerases and pavarotis and te-kanawas, IMHO.
In general, I think young singers lack body. I don’t think of young voices as being all that clear or pure necessarily. Often, I fell that they’re too thin sounding. I think it’s Glee’s biggest turn off for me. I just don’t hear any of their songs as matching the original in intensity. (And I’m a pretty big fan of covers.)
inner makes a nice point. the glee version does sound ok but still just a tribute to the original artist. one plus to young performers is (often) good looks. in fact many performers get away with just that but it’s way off the idea to my OP.
just a quick wikying shows some of my favorite musicals and the ages of artists at the time of production:
west side story - wood 23, beymer 23, moreno 30, chakiris 27, tamblin 27
sound of music - andrews 30
the king and i - kerr 35
phantom of the opera - brightman 26
I often like thinner voices, but the problem with younger singers is that they don’t know how to do it. Their thinness comes from lack of experience and vocal techniques that would ruin their voices.
Then there are the younger singers who try to hard. They have a rich, full voice, but they constantly have to mimic the older stars, and they just don’t have the experience to pull it off. And because everyone is just so excited that they can have such a voice at a young age, they often never really improve. If they survive at all, they go the Britney Spears route–someone who had a promising but horribly untrained voice as a kid who now has no voice as an adult.
I’d say I like an adult-range voice more than a teens-twenties voice. However it depends on the performer. Example: Leonard Cohen’s voice has deepened considerably with (old) age, and IMO it’s just getting sexier & sexier.
Also, the performers on Glee playing high school students are 20-35 years old - IIRC the actors playing Puck & Finn are only a few years younger than the actor playing their teacher.
As just a vocal instrument? Without regard to the ability to sell the vocal?
Where do you put someone like a Kelly Clarkson? Young, but when she nails a vocal, she has a thick, open timbre that is almost operatic in power and very mature in delivery. She leaves a little slop in her voice - it is not nearly as polished as a Glee kid and she can handle little/no autotune.
By the way, all the same comments hold true for Adele.
So, I like someone who knows their way around their instrument, has a thick, warm timbre that they can back with power, and enough slop in the voice to give it personality. And, most importantly, they can take that voice and sell the vocal effectively.
Suddenly I find myself wondering how old I sound when I sing: if someone heard one of my recordings but had never seen me and didn’t know anything about me, how old would they think I am just based on my voice?
I would say that this is not as easy as it might seem. Sure, if you are evaluating a tape of Sinatra at 30 vs. Sinatra at 80 you would look for and hear the differences, but if you heard, I dunno, Joss Stone or that singer from The Commitments or Adele and were told that the singer was older, you’d buy it.
for what it’s worth, two of my favorite songs cannot be interpreted convincingly by anyone below 30 (IMHHHHO): “both sides now” and “donna donna.” a scan through youtube shows you what singer-type can best sing about clouds, love and life.
just by ear? libera and vienna boys choir is pretty obvious. also easy to distinguish les miz characters (especially if you’ve read the book.) it’s best to compare two artists in just one number. young singers (with new york accents) sound funny when they sing “my angel of music” and “music of the night.”
I only have a preference insofar as I like things to remain the same. I can’t really enjoy watching Iron Maiden perform anymore because Bruce Dickinson’s vocal range has lowered with age and he can’t hit the same notes he used to.