I’m at Starbucks playing around with my iPad Pro, writing blog entries, and doing some general people watching. Before I dive into the original intent of this blog entry, I’m confused by a woman using a MacBook Pro nearby. There’s like little feet on the bottom of it and there’s no Apple logo on the lid. I can easily tell it’s a MacBook. It’s Rose Gold, when I glanced at her screen I could see the familiarity of Mac OS, etc., but for the life of me I can’t figure out what model of Mac she’s using.
Starbucks pipes in music to maintain a certain vibe in their locations. Because everything integrated through magic, one can check the Starbucks app to see what song is playing at your particular location at any given time. It’s a generally nifty thing.
The app revealed the song was called “Friends” by Big Gigantic featuring Ashe. Being old and out of touch I know nothing about Big Gigantic or Ashe, however, I can speak to her vocal stylings. In the Fox-run American Idol days in the earlier 2000s and first half of this decade, screaming and trying to sound like Whitney Houston (above or below water, didn’t matter), Mariah Carey (New Year’s Eve notwithstanding), or Christina Aguilera (where the stars are reaming) was the expectation of the time. Pop music has apparently shifted to a phase where singers now kind of keep their mouth closed, don’t project at all, and sort of mumble or warble. Since starting this blog entry a couple of different songs have cycled through the playlist and they all have this warbly, nasally, whiny, uninterested quality to their voice. Honestly, it’s hard to tell if there’s emotion because there’s so much technological crap thrown onto the production it barely resembles anything a human could naturally sing. However, the robotic yodeling has this “I’m not trying hard” quality to it that to me seems really contrived.
I’m starting to sound cranky.
I’m 51 years old, and despite the amount of cosmetic surgery being overlaid onto Gen X, I’m not a young guy who’s suppose to groove on the latest tracks on the local Kiss-FM station. I’m not in the target audience. When I was in radio in my younger days, we would guess the age of requests coming into the studio and rate accordingly. Part of the formula for a 44+ male request at a Top 40 station was worth half a point. A female was always worth at least a full point, but if they were in the coveted 18-34 range a request could be worth as much as eight points. To put it in perspective, I would have to request The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” 16 times in a week for me to have the same impact as one request for the same song from a 30-year old woman named Maria.
So I get that the warbly, disinterested vocal quality isn’t aimed at me.
What I’m curious about is whether the record companies are trying to get these performers to sing this way on purpose, or if they’re all copying each other, or if there’s been some Evolutionary Shift in the throat construction of Generation Z (apparently dubbed “Generation Z” because they’re the last generation).
Thankfully we’ve moved to a different type of vocalist by this point in the blog entry. This music is called “Neo-Disco”, but in my day we called it “Disco”. I guess using software instruments and auto-tune requires the prefix “Neo”.
Now get off my walkman.