Black Entertainment Television

Posing as a Great Singer: Examining Trey Songz’s Intriguing Success

After engaging in a close examination of Trey Songz’s discography, there has to be significant factors that have contributed to his success—other than being able to sing—because he cannot sing. Now, Trey Songz seems to be a nice young man, although I have never met him in person. He has never, from my knowledge, been arrogant and has not had any beef with other artists. Mr. Songz has encountered trouble with the legal system since he has been an artist. He just seems to be a really good guy. Unfortunately, all of those things have nothing to do with singing. Trey Songz was named the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Best Male R&B Artist at the 2010 BET Awards. Really? Trey Songz? Are we really ready to say that this man is one of the best male R&B singers? Is he really a good enough singer to be granted such a prestigious award? This article seeks to offer possible explanations about why Trey Songz has been a successful artist.

While many may assert that I’m attempting to mar the reputation of Trey Songz as a singer, this piece is purely an attempt to try to understand the factors that contribute to the success of Trey Songz.

Many women I’ve asked posit that Mr. Songz is a very attractive man with a very nice body. With many women driving his sells, one has to dedicate at least some serious thought to the idea that Songz’s success results largely from his looks. Every opportunity Songz gets he takes off his shirt or simply shows up shirtless. We are all now familiar with the reality that sex and sexy sells. Trey Songz and his marketing team comprehends this well. They recognize that his sex appeal, good looks, and nice body resonate well with the ladies. It would be imprudent not to think about how vital his physical appearance is to the way in which his singing is primarily received. One’s physical appearance is crucial to one’s popular reception in today’s music industry.

Moreover, Trey Songz has done a fascinating job of becoming an award-winning singer without proving his ability to sing. When you listen to any song by Trey Songz, you never have an opportunity to really hear him sing. On many of his songs, his voice is drowned out by the musical accompaniments and sound effects. To be frank, he basically talks instead of sings on all of his songs. He and his handlers have orchestrated a great strategy to always ensure that he has the right songs, the right musical accompaniments, and the right sound effects that prevent his inability to sing from being exposed. He gets exposed, however, when he has to sing live.

Listen to Trey Songz’s “Bottoms Up” and witness how the music operates as a masking agent to camouflage his inability to sing. “Neighbors Know My Name” is a classic example of how he principally just talks instead of sings.

The aforementioned factors that contribute to Trey Songz’s success are important for us to remember when we start endowing accolades like “Best Male R&B Artist.” The previously mentioned factors that have contributed to his success collectively divulge that his success has nothing to do with his singing. We denigrate the venerated prestige of an award like “Best Male R&B Artist” when we give it to someone like Trey Songz. There’s a conspicuous difference between talking and singing. Now, do you really think Mr. Songz measures up vocally to the likes of R. Kelly, Brian McKnight, Eric Benét, Jamie Foxx, Chris Brown, and Usher? As far as Trey Songz’s vocals go, I contend that he’s not even qualified enough to hold their jockstraps.

Critically listen to Trey Songz’s singing and don’t just look at the pretty face and nice body. If you love his pretty face and nice body, then say that but don’t anoint him to be “Best Male R&B Artist.”

I’m afraid that we are giving many contemporary artists who are posing as singers a pass on their vocals just because we love how they look. Trey Songz should thank God every day for blessing him with the good looks he has because he would not have experienced the success he has without his good looks. I guess Trey Songz offers us a new model for being a successful artist in today’s music industry: Have the right hue of Black skin, a nice body, and good looks and you can become a successful singer without being able to sing.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Open Letter to Wendy Williams

Dear Wendy Williams:

The purpose of this letter is to ask you some questions that have truly been bothering me concerning you. First, are you really a woman? I am not trying to be disrespectful or nothing, but there are serious reasons for me asking you this question. If I offend you in any way by asking you this question, I do apologize. The reason I feel comfortable asking you this query is you feel comfortable with getting into everyone’s business, so I thought that it would be fine for me to ask you a question of this type. Again, if this question is offensive, I do apologize. If you are not a man, then why does it seem like you are so uncomfortable when you close your legs with your skirts on?

What is it about gossip that motivates you in such a way that you live for it—even developed a talk show on BET that celebrates gossip? Do you ever think about how much emotional damage you do to people with your obsessive coverage and inquiry into the most personal dimensions of their lives? I would encourage you to think critically about how you might cover the personal lives of people in a much more respectful, less exploitative, and more equitable way.

Did you get breast implants? If so, are you happy with the size of your breasts?

I must say that I do watch your talk show on BET quite frequently. The reason I watch your show is not that I’m interested in it really, but because I have to stay abreast of Black popular culture in my area of expertise. I would love to see you transition your show into a more traditional talk show, instead of the crass gossip talk show it is today. When you elect to discuss the things that you do on your show, I would like for you to think about how you are negatively representing Black people on television. Is making money that important to you that you would be willing to exploit your own race?

I wish you all of the best! Have a great day!

Sincerely,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison