Saturday, 5 March 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day Four... Your favourite male singer

How do you define a "favourite singer" ? Ability, range, studio work, live work, charisma ? Or is it merely a numbers game that defines "favourite", meaning the person you listen to the most who sings and is male ? (In that case, it would tie between Jeff Healey and Gary Moore for me, but they are better known as guitarists obviously.)
I don't tend to listen to female singers much, looking at my most played items in iTunes, and I think there are two main reasons for this.
One is, I like the sound of a gee-tar, and I like the blues, and there are not many women around playing guitar and singing the blues (Joanne Shaw Taylor being one exception I can think of however).
The other reason is, I tend to listen a lot to the tracks I am singing in bands (either because I'm learning them or I like them and have suggested we do them), and usually they are rock / blues tracks, which don't have female singers, or at least, the well known hit versions don't have female singers. In fact, looking at the set list for our recent gig , only one of those songs is known for having a version with a female singer (Tina Turner's version of Proud Mary) that was a hit.
So I've got a lot of male singers to choose a favourite from. Being a singer myself I'm going to have to plump for vocal ability and performance being the main criteria for my choice, although as some of my female friends have pointed out "I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating biscuits" is also valid reasoning, though not applicable (IMO) with regards to any of the people I whittled my choice down to, incidentally.
Choices were-
Nat King Cole. I like that genre, those songs which have now became standards, much to the surprise of my dad, who thinks I only like "that nasty rave music" ;). When he heard I had bought an Ink Spots cd, he almost fell off his chair in surprise.
If I want to stop right in my tracks and be immediately transported to a more civilised and glamorous time, Nat King Cole's recording of "Stardust" is guaranteed to do it every time.
Paul Rodgers. One of the few people who could even look at Freddie Mercury's shoes, let alone attempt to wear them (notice I didn't say "fill".)
Will Young. The boy's got pipes, imho, alright ?
And finally, the person I chose as my favourite male singer - Freddie Mercury. He had it all - style, ability, charisma, and was someone who never let go of life even at the end of it. When I heard "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the first time as a very young child, probably aged about four or five (in the car, very likely on tape, probably travelling to the supermarket on a friday night I imagine), it made me cry. Even at that young age. So I asked for it to be played again. And again. And again. And once more, with feeling ... And so began my fandom.
Watching Queen at Live Aid on tv - blown away. Utterly blown away. By the time I was old enough to be going to big gigs in far flung places (anything outside of Norwich was far flung according to my mum), Freddie was dead and I had missed out on going to a live gig by one of the greatest performers of my lifetime. I wish I had gotten the chance.

So - what track to pick to link this day's post to ? As we're talking about a favourite singer, rather than one single track, I'm having two choices (so, sue me !) that I personally believe to give an inkling of the sheer scope of the great man's talent.
The first is "Take My Breath Away". From their album "A Day at the Races" and recorded in the days when Antares Autotune and Melodyne didn't exist, and what a better world that was too. This performance always gives me goosebumps.

The second is "Somebody To Love", also from that album. If you're talking about sheer vocal range, this really shows Freddie's talent. I love this song and would like one day to record it, but I fear it is a pair of shoes far, far FAR too big for me to ever put on ! I respect the singer and song far too much to do a cover and make a total arse of it, that would be shameful. This version is from their 1982 concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl. In my opinion, this illustrates a perfect example of how to take something that was extremely complicated in the studio with masses of production, and do it live.

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