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The In-betweeners: My Favorite Artists Who Make Singing Look Easy

Updated on January 22, 2012
Old School Microphone
Old School Microphone | Source

Almost, But Not Quite

On the heels of my other hub about singers who don't really sing, I was in a conversation with one of my loyal readers and we started discussing other artists. And one of the main points of interest were awesome artists who are not the best singers but because of their combined skills and talents, are not maligned as the folks in my other hub.

I am going to preface my argument by saying that I enjoy the work of all of these artists but when it comes to a down and out singing contest, they probably couldn't win. I couldn't either but then again my livelihood doesn't depend on me singing for my supper.

So enjoy the fantastic voyage of my favorite in-betweeners in music.

Katy Perry in Concert
Katy Perry in Concert | Source

Katy's Pop Fireworks

I think Katy Perry is one of the great pop artists to emerge in the last few years. She does not take herself seriously, has a quirky image, and is only out to make fun, entertaining pop ditties. That being said, she has made the science of being an okay singer into an art.

Her first single, "I Kissed a Girl" is admittedly one of my least favorite songs in history. I have never understood why some artists only adapt a persona or an identity of real people just for hits. Granted, it was a real experience for her, but I just didn't understand what it was supposed to do other than be an introduction for her into the pop world.

From there, it was looking up as "Hot N Cold" quickly burnt up the charts talking about what most women know to be true, male moodswings. I enjoyed the honesty in the lyrics as well as her general sense of humor that was prominently on display through the video.

What was obvious though, was that even though Katy was cute and sweet, her voice wasn't the thing setting her apart. Her persona, which relies heavily on vintage clothing made of food and an almost cartoon like charm- draws you in and somehow through her songs she manages to convey real emotion.

Now please don't get me wrong, just because I think Katy Perry doesn't have the most mind-blowing voice doesn't mean she's not a great artist. I just think she plays to her strengths and smartly uses what she knows works for her career.

The Purple One at Coachella
The Purple One at Coachella | Source

Prince's Purple Reign

I will admit that Prince is probably one of my favorite short famous people ever (sorry, Napoleon) and I will also admit that Purple Rain Soundtrack is one of the best grooves of the 1980s but I will not say Prince is a great vocalist.

Why? It's easy. His voice may be what we call "unique" or "cool" but it's far from being as layered as Stevie Wonder's or Smokey Robinson's and that's okay. Because Prince wouldn't be Prince if he was not himself.

My earliest memories of listening to Prince would definitely be as a kid while I helped clean my house. And I never failed to start jamming to "Let's Go Crazy" so hard that I forgot to sweep the porch but after awhile I realized something, Prince is not a master vocal technician.

What he is a master of is complete and utter musical genius. How many artists could possibly play most of their own instruments, produce themselves, and dictate all of their arrangements? Not to mention he has helped nurture and produce several artists through the years.

And really, if Prince was an awesome singer, I would not want to listen because it's hard not to envy someone that talented.

Taylor Swift in 2007
Taylor Swift in 2007 | Source

Taylor's Lyrical Teardrops

As many people know, the past few years we have been willfully living in Taylor Swift's world. What is it about this girl? Well, for starters she's a refreshing departure from most people in pop and country music. She's not the most classically sounding country artist and she's also not the most three minute hook-friendly pop starlet. She somehow managed to fit herself in the middle.

And I have to give her credit. She's always been good at writing her own stories and expressing them in gut wrenching fashion without a gut wrenching voice. But like Prince and many others, she has mastered the art of being a good musician opting to play the guitar on tour.

The first time I heard Taylor was one random day hearing "Teardrops on My Guitar." I don't remember where I was but that song got stuck in my head and didn't leave for the longest time. And then I was totally taken in by "You Belong with Me." Not that I've had those experiences but for some reason it seemed like she read the diaries of millions of teenage girls.

Taylor continues to do well by somehow mixing pop sensibility with country simplicity. How does she do it? Well, that's a multi-million dollar secret I'm sure we'd all like to know but I think it has something to do with her appeal.

She's not onstage breathing fire or wearing a little more than her grandmother's tablecloth but she's also open about her personal life. I'm sure we can all assume that at least one of her many famous exes inspired some of those hits along with that poor guy Drew from high school. Either way she's laughing all the way to the bank.

JT back in 2007
JT back in 2007 | Source

Justin Rocks Our Heartstrings

I'm not taking a trip down memory lane, but I remember when Justin Timberlake sang and not just on SNL during the open monologue, I mean actually sing instead of doing all this other stuff. And by other stuff I mean acting. I saw Friends with Benefits but come on, I would rather be listening to his new album. ( I don't mean to be harsh Justin, it's just the truth- give us fans what we want or at least a variety special.) I digress but really I miss Justin Timberlake, the musician.

I'm not going out on a limb by saying Justin was not the best singer in *NSYNC. He's even said that JC was the soul of the group and while I love hearing JC sing, he's no Justin. (Sorry, just stating the facts.) Justin not only was the youngest but had the most ridiculous head of curly hair since Art Garfunkel and still made us girls howl. That's special.

And when he went solo, we weren't surprised. By the end of *NSYNC's run it was more like Justin and the other four singing back up. He cut the cuteness and the hair and turned up the swag. No, I'm not talking about all those ridiculous Trousersnake rumors, I'm talking about the jams.

I remember when "Like I Love You" coming out and actually being optimistic and then he dropped "Cry Me A River" and I'm sure that's what alot of *NSYNC fans did. He managed to make up for a lack of powerful vocals by playing up his musicality and emphasizing his falsetto. It definitely worked.

And by the time "SexyBack" came on the scene, he was off and running. And we ran with him. Now if we can only get that new album out of him instead of yet another movie, we'll be in business. Now who's lovin' it?

Make Your Choice

Who's Your Fave?

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    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Jools,

      I agree- they have personality and charm which takes them further than just having a voice. Not to mention these three are also songwriters which means they know how their voices should sound. And they know how to reinvent their sound. It is interesting to see how Katy Perry started- in Christian music then more alt-rock then finally to pop. But there's no denying she's talented. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Alecia, great hub, really enjoyed it. I think what most of these singers have in spades is 'charisma' and that is something you can't fake. Katy Perry began her career much closer to Alanis Morrisette in style but there's not a lot of room for that type of singing in the upper echelons of music making. Justin Timberlake has recreated himself successfully and at least does songs which son't sound typically off the shelf. Taylor Swift shocked and surprised me and made me rethink her singing after her theme song for The Hunger Games; I thinks she may have a few more surprises in store. Shared, voted up etc.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Okay I will.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      you're welcome. let me know when u do!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks for the tip Justin!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      alecia, you should see Black Snake MOan. Great soundtrack, too...

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Kelly,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! So Katy was the one acting crazy that you mentioned in the T-Swift Hub? I figured. I think she in some way is trying to make up for lost time that she didn't have during childhood/adolescence. I've witnessed the exploits of several Preacher's/Pastor's kids and while most of them are well-adjusted, it's hard to transition into a regular life when your parents have said no to things most kids learn and express when younger.

      But I agree that Taylor Swift is super gifted musically even though she doesn't have the most powerful voice. I'm definitely looking forward to her next project. Thank you again for coming by and commenting!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Hey Alecia - You got that right! lol I second you (or 13 or 14th you I didn't count the comments:) lol

      I took my daughters to see Katy Perry (and Taylor Swift) recently in concert here. Katy even had moments during the show that were WEIRD! At one point she was trying to get the whole audience to do the "flip my hair back and forth thing" and she was whipping her hair around and like 1 person from the audience followed suit. Hilarious!

      Swift had a lot more musical talent for her show in my opinion:) Excellent idea and hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Singersnurse!

      I must admit that I didn't like Katy Perry's early material because it seemed to laden with the obvious cliches about sexuality to attract controversy. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Sunshine,

      I like Katy Perry as well and hope she makes a great album after the whole divorce fiasco. I like T-Swizzle's slow and fast songs, it just depends on how overly romantic she gets in them. And I think I'm about to go on a rant if I hear JT isn't making an album and Prince'll always be the man! Thanks as usual!

    • thesingernurse profile image

      Tina Siuagan 6 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      I am happy to see Katy Perry here. I especially love her song "Ur So Gay". :D It sounds different for me. Not the usual pop song... :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I went with Katy Perry. T-Swizzle needs to stay away from slow songs but I love her Tim McGraw song. JT just rocks. Prince is the man! The hub is da bomb!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Audrey!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 6 years ago from California

      What an entertaining hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I agree rasta. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 6 years ago from Jamaica

      All the young r&b singers of today copy some style from Prince.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks alocsin for stopping by and commenting!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      The only one I'm not familiar with is Katy Perry, so I appreciate the video. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I haven't seen BSM but I keep hearing it's good and you're right Bye Bye Bye never fails as a karaoke classic.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Tammy,

      Thanks for stopping bye and commenting. I agree that Prince has made the most of his talents considering his limited vocals. And I can't stand Ke$ha either. Her voice grates on my nerves! Thanks again!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Alecia... i think JT's best role as an actor was in Black Snake Moan and, of course, I perform Bye Bye Bye at karaoke with frequency.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hey Alecia,

      This is another great hub. You have a talent for picking music and musicians. I love Prince. He probably has the best chops of everyone on this list. I am not a pop fan but I think the rest of them on here are winging it most of the time. The worst singer I have heard latley is Ke$ha and I don't understand why she is at the top. Great points for discussion!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Missolive for stopping by and commenting. I agree that Purple Rain is timeless. And I'm interested in what Katy'll do next. Thanks again!

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 6 years ago from Texas

      Alecia - what a nice critique. These artists are my favs for different reasons. I went ahead and voted for Justin. I also miss seeing his true musical talent. Prince's Purple Rain will always be a personal favorite of mine. You are right - Katy is fun and lighthearted. Taylor may not be the absolute greatest vocalist, but she is a well rounded musician.

      Thanks for sharing - great hub - voted up! :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks PDX for stopping by and voting! I agree on JT :)!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Prince and JT are two of my favorites. Very talented men. I voted for JT

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Jools, I agree with you on back in the day Prince. And I also concur about Katy Perry. She's very funny and I think that will help her get over her heartbreak.

      I love Adele's voice but unfortunately I think she's overshadowed Jessie J even though she got a stateside endorsement from Justin Timberlake. I just think her songs didn't catch on as much as Adele's but "Price Tag" is great.

      I have to remember Lissie. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Alecia, An interesting hub. I absolutely loved Prince back in the day and that led me to liking Wendy And Lisa who I still listen to now. I like Katy Perry, I think she has a great sense of humour and that will stand her in good stead for the future, shame about her marriage being over but she's young ans she'll recover. Here in the UK we have Adele and Jessie J doing great things. In the US, I quite like Lissie who has lots of stuff on You Tube but may get to be mega very soon.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Yeah I agree on Adele, thanks weestro.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 6 years ago from Virginia

      I don't listen to many pop artist, but I would have to say Adele, that girl can flat out sing. Great Hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Cogerson! Yeah I think Prince is awesome but his problem is he keeps coming back too soon with music and since the 1980s, he hasn't really impressed me. And I totally agree with Justin Timberlake as well, he can do another movie after he does an album. I hope after this Coen brothers flick he gets the message or maybe I'll just send him one. Thanks again for stopping by!

    • Cogerson profile image

      UltimateMovieRankings 6 years ago from Virginia

      Wow what a diverse group of singers you have listed...I would say my favorite would be Prince...although I have to admit I like Justin T. as well...I think it is about time for him to make some more music....movies can wait. Kudos on such a great hub....voted up and awesome.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Millionaire Tips,

      Thanks for stopping by. If I had to pick a favorite here, I wouldn't know where to go either. I have the same relationship to music as well so depending on my mood that's where I'll go. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      I really enjoy listening to music, and enjoyed the music you presented here. I'm not so good at picking favorites though - since different things attract me depending on my mood. Voted up.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image
      Author

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Ebower, I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. I agree Taylor Swift may not be the best vocalist but she knows how to use what she has along with her amazing songwriting skills. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 6 years ago from Georgia

      This was entertaining and I agreed with most of this. I definitely think that Taylor Swift doesn't have the best voice, but she is a talented song writer. I voted this up and awesome.

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