Super Bowl

Beyonce: Occasionally Sloppy Vocally

Beyonce

Unquestionably, Beyonce is one of the most phenomenal performers in history.   She’s also a very good singer.  During live performances, however, she sometimes devotes more focus to performing than she does to ensuring she’s giving her best vocals.  While one will never view a live Beyonce performance and honestly come away from it saying it was not crunk, one can sometimes come away from her live performances and say the vocals were not her best.  Because she’s so invested in her dance moves, she does not realize she occasionally screams instead of modulating with skill.  The most recent example of this was during her halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.  Although Beyonce had an amazing halftime performance at Super Bowl XLVII, her singing suffered from her dominant concentration on her dancing.

It’s not often that Mrs. Knowles-Carter is sloppy with her singing, but it shouldn’t be overlooked when she is.

Beyonce

One of the unusual times when she did a horrible job singing in the studio is on the “Halo” track.  While she’s not even close to declining as a vocalist as Alicia Keys is, it’s important for those who support her, as I do, to offer her fair criticism about the times when she does not meet the standard of excellence she has set.  On the “Halo” track, the critical listener has an opportunity to hear Beyonce sounding throughout the song like she’s simply talking.  Instead of relying on her great vocal prowess, she’s vocally lazy on this song.  While some artists sound really good using their natural speaking voice, her natural speaking voice is not one of her strengths.  When she, therefore, relies too heavily on her natural speaking voice, the song will not be a quality one; “Halo” is the classic example.

Even though I assert that “Halo” is Beyonce’s worst song ever, it has been tremendously successful (as evidenced by just one “Halo” video on YouTube having over 158 million views).  In examining her oeuvre, I have not discovered any songs where she’s as sloppy vocally as she is on “Halo.”  This speaks to her greatness, considering the same cannot be said for the majority of the current celebrated singers.

Do you like Beyonce’s “Halo”?  What is your least favorite Beyonce song?  Do you disagree with my assessment of Beyonce?  Why or why not?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Alicia Keys: Beautiful Lady and Horrible Live Singer

Alicia Keys(Photo Source: Hip Hop Weekly)

Alicia Keys is a beautiful lady and has enjoyed a successful career.  Unfortunately, when she has to sing live, you wouldn’t think she’s an accomplished singer.  Her success as a vocalist emerges from her ability to sing much better in the studio.  Many recording artists cannot sing live and Alicia Keys is a representative example.  If it were not for her beauty and the reputation she’s built from her studio album sells, she would be one of those artists who quickly fade away.

Although her gorgeous face and breathtaking body are contributing factors in her enduring success, her success in more recent years has resulted from her ability to understand how to create songs that connect to larger phenomena than herself.  Her song, “Girl on Fire,” shrewdly connects with numerous women.  One of the most important ways it resonates with many women is it’s a song they can use and sing to express their self-confidence and celebrate their accomplishments, physical appearance, independence, and/or any other thing that gives them joy.  In her collaboration with Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind,” she not only forms a bond with New Yorkers by singing a song that can be viewed as an anthem for New York, but also connects  with millions of Americans who love New York, especially in a post-9/11 America.

Those responsible for managing and marketing her must advise her to be more selective about the live events she elects to sing at.  If Keys is going to sing at live events, she needs to avoid high notes.  Her voice cracks entirely too much when she’s singing live (especially when attempting high notes).  In the studio, she has opportunities to correct errors she often makes when she’s singing live—without anyone ever knowing she made any errors.

Alicia Keys will not continue to be successful if she keeps having horrible vocal performances at prominent events like the Super Bowl and The Grammy Awards.

Keys shouldn’t allow her ego to fool her into believing she’s having amazing live vocal performances—when they’re really atrocious.  Whether she knows it or not, she’s beginning to develop the wrong reputation: “she’s not a good singer” or “she cannot sing at all,” which are frequent statements made by numerous individuals on Facebook and Twitter in response to her live performances.

In “Posing as a Great Singer: Trey Songz’s Intriguing Success,” I wrote about the horrendous live vocal performances of Trey Songz.  His managers and marketers, however, are more discerning about how many live performances he does and the type of events he performs at.  During live performances, they sell his physical appearance more than his vocals.  Keys would be better served by highlighting her physical appearance more than her vocals when performing live.

Are you a fan of Alicia Keys?  Do you think she’s a good live singer?  Why or why not?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sometimes You’re Going to Finish in Second Place

Recently, my Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. This game caused me to reflect on how sometimes people do things better than others. It’s just a fact. You can be great and others can still do things better than you. It’s vital to understand that you are not going to come in first place at everything. The Steelers’ defeat in the Super Bowl also made me think about how important it is to recognize how thankful you should be to be in second place. In most situations, second place is not an awful place to be in at all. For example, many other teams in the National Football League (NFL) didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. They would have loved to have had an opportunity to be in the game. The Steelers finished in second place overall but first place in the American Football Conference (AFC). The Steelers are the reigning AFC Champions! You should not overlook the greatness in your second place to someone else on certain aspects in life. We all come in second place to someone on something. There’s no need to become frustrated with this or to try to fight against it.

When someone can do something better than you, acknowledge that he or she can. People will admire you for recognizing what others can do better than you. I’m not suggesting for you to simply desire to come in second place all of the time—not at all! Even if you don’t try to come in first place at something, you will because some aspect of your life is far greater than that same aspect in others’ lives. You can do something that’s better than others. You simply have to acknowledge, discover, and embrace your first place things.

You don’t have to become envious of those people who finish ahead of you. When you do the best you can do, learn to accept this. Always strive to improve yourself but know that with even all of the striving to become better in the world someone is still going to be better than you in something. You’re not a failure when you finish in second place. Sometimes second place is where you need to be to help you to grow to where you should be in not only that specific area where you finished in second place, but also to buttress and burgeon other areas of your life that don’t even qualify to finish in second place to anyone.

When you come in second place, you don’t have to let us know that you’re in second place. Don’t let your actions communicate that you’re saying, “I know you’re better than me at this, but I’m in second place to you and please know that!” The person in first place does not need to see and/or hear you communicate this. The first place person will simply see that there’s something larger going on with you and something larger wrong with you that is causing you to act in such a way.

I come in second place to many people on many things but I don’t envy them. I have a firm understanding that I cannot do everything, be everything, know everything, and control everything. Life will be much more enjoyable when more people learn that there’s always going to be someone better than them at something. I might not have offered any real novel knowledge in this piece, but what this piece does is call all of us to improve, learn, know, do, be, and control the things we can and don’t worry about those things that we cannot. Don’t live your life chasing and concerned about finishing in first place in areas of life you already know you cannot.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison