Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Fake background singing on live shows”)

“Many” professional groups want to put out great live shows because people will judge them on what they hear. If anyone has noticed (back in the day) whenever a singer had a sore throat he or she would just cancel the show. That “rarely” happens now, and the reasons for that are simple. Singers are singing less and lip syncing more. It preserves their voices so that they can perform that same show tomorrow. The deep part about this is that the audiences (people with untrained ears) cannot tell the difference most times. They will go home after a performance thinking that the artist (or artists) sang perfectly. However, if the background vocals sound different quality-wise from the lead vocals then there is usually a reason for that. A perfect example is the hit group “Boyz II Men.” They are great singers, even though they will rely too much on the background track to carry them through a performance. In this particular clip, you will hear the background clip at the “very beginning.” It sounds “perfect.” That’s because it was “recorded perfect.” While the “lead parts are very real in this clip,” the chorus parts (on the hook of the song) are samples (in other words, pre-recorded). Just listen to how “perfect the background vocals sound when this song first comes on.” It sounds almost too good to be true. That’s because it “is.” Also, the group used to have a “bass singer” by the name of Michael McClary who started out with them. When you listen to the background singing, the bass vocals are still on the track (even though it has been lowered in volume so most people won’t notice). For there to be 4 part harmony and only 3 vocalists says a lot. Please check this out for yourself:

Also, in order to make sure the timing of the samples fits in with the song it would be imperative for the band to play in “perfect timing.” In order for that to happen the band would have to “play along with the track.” So even if the band is actually playing, chances are that at the show you will be hearing more “track than live playing.” Please keep in mind that Boyz II Men “CAN” sing, but using a background track is helpful just in case one (or all) of them can’t hear their voices right in the monitors. If just one harmony note is off, then it will sound like the “entire” harmonies are off. I have been on programs with these guys before, and they have a great show. However, just like “most of the current groups today” some (if not all) of the vocals will be sampled to alleviate wear and tear on the voice. This is not to expose the group, but rather to enlighten you about how concerts are done these days. There are a lot of “major acts” who do the exact same thing (and even worse). Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought today, and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.

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2 thoughts on “Brett Jolly’s Daily Thought (“Fake background singing on live shows”)

  1. Murray says:

    Hi Brett,
    it is very common today. I don’t mind it if it was used to enhance the quality of the harmonys. When i was with David Christopher, he had the background vocals sequenced for Bohemian Rhapsody to thicken the the harmonies. I thinks its wrong the way A lot of lead vocalists lip sync nowadays or use autotune, as well. I feel that is just deception and it cheats the audience who paid to see a LIVE performance. Singers like Luther V. would never have done that.

    • Murray, it is a different scenario in today’s music scene. Back in the day artists used to postpone concerts whenever their voices were hoarse or strained. Nowadays they just move their mouths along with the vocal sequence and keep right on rolling. As long as the audience can’t tell and they “believe” they are hearing real singing then I guess there’s “no harm, no foul” but at some point people may get fed up with paying to “hear the tape.” Remember Milli Vanilli? They were crucified for lip syncing their songs. Today they should be considered “cult heroes.”

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