Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This week I have been mostly listening: to singers who can't sing

Now, here’s a question for you, if you found out that Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of Eternal Reccurrence was actually fact, and we do live our lives over and over again in the same sequence an infinite number of times, would you watch the new series of X Factor?
X Factor inexplicably starts again in Australia next Monday, so if I sit down and watch it, according to Eternal Reccurrence I will inescapably have to sit down and watch it at the same time and place in my life for eternity. The stupefying blithering of the Quadrangle of mediocrity (or the judging panel as its otherwise known) of Ronan Keating, Mel B, Guy Sebastian and Natalie Bassingthwaighte will echo in eternity for me, and that is a truly terrifying thought.
It must be said that I spend far too much of my time contemplating the rancid boil on the buttocks of musical entertainment that is X Factor, and I always arrive at the same conclusion, a large portion of my favourite singers would never get past the audition stage of the show. Why, because they can’t actually sing to the X Factor polished gold standard.
Let’s take Dave Berman from the great but sadly defunct ‘Silver Jews’ for instance. His bored sounding monotone drawl wouldn’t cut the mustard in the X Factor world.

That was ‘Random Rules’ arguably the Silver Jews best song which features the greatest opening line I’ve ever heard. ‘In 1984, I was hospitalised for approaching perfection’
Then of course there’s Tom Waits, who sounds like he’s smoked every cigarette ever made in history. I love his experimental circus swamp horror blues but you can’t beat a Tom Waits ballad. This is from his classic ‘Swordfish Trombones’ album.

Finally, here’s a song from Wu Lyf, a British band who are making waves at the moment with their rabble rousing epics. This is my personal favourite from their debut album ‘Go tell Fire to the Mountain‘, it’s called ‘We Bros’. The singer doesn’t sing, he grunts incomprehensibly like a disgruntled ape dying from terminal flatulence.

All these singers plus many more (Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, Mick Jagger, Wayne Coyne, Neil Young etc.) would fall at the first X factor hurdle because they aren’t technically good singers, but they have something indefinable, something special that makes their voices distinctive, visceral and emotive, something it’s hard to put your finger on, if only there was a word or phrase to sum up what they possess....oh yeah, that’s right, it’s called the X Factor.


  1. So true! They're not technically great singers...but still their voices are irresistible.
    I love Wu Lyf btw :)

  2. The Wu Lyf album shows a lot of promise, it'll be interesting to see what they do next. I did watch X factor in the end by the way. It was truly shocking.