Yes, I am a big fan of the “good old days” when all vocals were performed live onstage. When it comes to the current usage of tape and voice samples it cheapens the authenticity of the show for me. However, I do know that promoters lose money if they have to cancel shows (and the human voice is a fragile instrument… It can wear out from over usage). Background vocals are important, but often they are difficult to match up EQ-wise with the recorded versions of the song. When you hear a recording certain effects are placed on vocals to give it that spice. Trying to add them for live background parts and then trying to subtract them when one of the background singers switches to the lead part can be exasperating for a sound engineer. So welcome to the world of “tape.” As long as the audience cannot tell then “no harm no foul.” Let’s look at an example:
On this particular song ALL lead parts are sung live. You can tell because of the differences and imperfections of some notes. However, the background parts “sound way too perfect” and that is because the backgrounds are “canned.” It may not be very noticeable at first but when you get to the 2 minute 7 second portion of the song you will hear background parts that sound “way too great.” That isn’t because they are singing them that way. That’s because they are lip syncing (or singing along with the track). If these guys tried to actually sing those parts live while moving like that they would probably be close to passing out. A prime example is at the end of the song when they take a bow. They start to bow before the very last note is sung and yet you can still hear the notes “supposedly through the microphones.” Your head can’t be down and yet still be heard perfectly through the microphones. One thing I didn’t like about this song rendition is Michael Bivins’ performance with the guys (He is the one doing the rap in the song). He is talking over the other vocals through certain key parts of the song and to me that is a distraction. Bivins is the one who actually discovered the group (He is from the group New Edition). I am happy for the group’s fame. They have done well and I don’t want to cast any negativity on their show. By no means are they the only group using voice samples. I only used them as an example today because it was easier for me to show what was going on. I have been on programs with these guys before and they “can” sing, so please don’t get the wrong impression from me. Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The late Gerald LeVert in concert with Brett Jolly on bass guitar