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About ladyofshalott

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    Kiwamu's Bitch

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  1. ladyofshalott

    I may have gotten Toshi confused with someone else, since my recollection was very different from how his voice actually is. I can kinda see the Steve Perry comparison because they're both tenors with a slightly husky tone, but stylistically they're quite different aren't they? Toshi's tone more nasally and he actually sings much higher, while Steve Perry has a more relaxed(?) feeling to how he sings.
  2. ladyofshalott

    I agree with your statement regarding Ruki, but I’m curious if you think any of these singers are virtuosos? Because I’ve now listened to most of the singers in this discussion, and I think you could make the same statement about pretty much all of them. As @Manabu pointed out, the vocal parts in most of these songs (obviously I’m taking about the visual kei ones) are primarily built on vibrato-heavy low-mid range singing (though some groups, like Royz, seem to have less low singing) with falsetto high notes (+ metal screaming in some cases). I haven’t seen much head voice or smooth modal-high register transitions (they usually flip into falsetto). The songs don’t have particularly complicated vocal runs or much else that would demonstrate a high degree of vocal agility. And since they pretty much stay in the same stylistic wheelhouse, the singers don’t really show too much versatility (at least when discounting the metal vocals). I’m not saying they should change their music and add a bunch of crazy vocal runs just to show off, because making things difficult for the sake of being difficult is generally not the best artistic move, just that none of this is particularly virtuosic. I suppose you could ask whether they would write their music differently if they had more technical ability, but that may be a pointless hypothetical.
  3. ladyofshalott

    That makes sense, because most people find it easier to tune to a relative pitch, like a guitar or piano playing in a similar octave, rather than pull a note out of thin air. Basically it requires a good ear. That's something I think I'd generally expect of a professional musician. (A violinist shouldn't need an accompaniment to stay in tune and the same goes for a vocalist, whose voice is their instrument). However, considering the technical ability of popular musicians is often much lower than the classical counterparts, it is actually likely that many have not developed a very good ear. I think Kaya hits a few notes flat in this performance, but he also notices and corrects some of them, so I'd say I generally agree with your friend's assessment.
  4. ladyofshalott

    I didn't actually realize this forum was so dominated by visual kei. The topic I posted under just says "Japanese Music." I feel like I've learned quite a bit about the Western fandom here though.
  5. ladyofshalott

    But aren't they looking to the West just by making pop/rock music and playing pianos, electric guitars, etc.? I sort of get it though. It would be sad it everything became super Americanized. I don't think my impression was that Japan was "less developed," rather that Japanese vocalists choose to focus less on technique, because so many of the vocalists I heard seemed to be trying to make their voice "interesting" or achieve a certain style (such as cutesy girl group vocals). Basically, I had that sense that there was a preponderance of "stylistic" rather than "technical" vocalists in Japan. I'm starting to think my first impression may have been a result of the selection of what I had listened to.
  6. ladyofshalott

    @NICKT I think my original post might come off as rather pejorative. This was not my intention. I’m just the sort of person who tends to say many critical or negative-sounding things even when I really like something. It’s a personal flaw that I’m aware of, but clearly still need to work on. In any case. If I thought Japanese music was terrible I wouldn’t have bothered to join a forum to learn about it. I should also clarify that I don’t think superior vocal technique necessarily equals a better singer. Vocal technique is just one of a number of elements that go into singing and how important it is depends on what the singer is trying to do. There are certainly a lot of singers who fail to get the sound they are looking for (or damage their voice trying) because they don’t have the technical ability. On the other hand, there are also singers who may not need much technique for the sound they are going for. Personally, I have to say I tend to be biased towards singers that have some technical proficiency, probably because I come from a more classical background and it can be a little hard to go from Philippe Jaroussky to Bon Iver wannabe #5, but considering how unpopular opera is I’d say most people probably feel the opposite. I agree that the Ameri-centrism of not only the cultural sphere, but pretty much everything, is pretty ridiculous. I think you also raise a good point regarding whether Japanese singers should be held to American (or Western) standards. But I think you should also consider to what extent they are participating in a Western art form. I would never think to look for Western techniques in a traditional Japanese art form. Coming out from a Noh play and saying, “Hmm, the lead wasn’t as really as good as Edward Norton,” is completely ridiculous. But all the things you mention (TV, film, popular music) are the result of American (or Western) forms being adopted (imposed? adopted under duress?) due to Westernization. Thus, some mastery of Western techniques (filmography, Western instruments, etc.) is necessary. Of course, countries will come up with their own versions of these art forms different from Hollywood and judging them based on the expectations you have of a Hollywood production is not always appropriate. For example, something like Hana kimi is clearly a highly stylized manga adaptation (I’ve never picked up a manga in my life, but even I can tell they’re not going for realism and I can recognize elements of that style in other shoujo manga adaptations). I don’t think it could be judged from the same perspective as a serious American show, or even an American comedy, since the acting styles and comedic sense is quite different. Similarly, Korean dramas tend to use a lot of slow-mo. I think this seems quite cheesy from a Western perspective, but after watching quite a few Korean shows you realize that it’s a rather standard element of the style and get used to it. On the music side of things, the visual kei singing is definitely not something you would hear from an American band, even though they are making rock music. In this sense, I would find it hard to compare one of these singers directly to an American singer, since they seem to be trying to do something different. Do I think you can still consider Western vocal technique as one element when evaluating them? Yes, because 1) there are clearly Western influences to their singing style as well 2) some of the singers in the genre (if visual kei is a genre?) do use these techniques and it clearly affects their sound (based on some of the responses here I went and looked up an old performance by Ruki and the difference is very obvious). I’d say something similar about the handful of enka singers that I’ve heard. There’s clearly a combination of Western and Japanese influences. On the other hand, when it comes to someone like Taka, is there anything non-Western about his singing style? I feel that he would pretty much sound like an American pop punk vocalist if he was singing completely in English, hence my comparison to Gerard Way (though the “less interesting” comment is a judgement on artistry, which admittedly does not belong in a discussion of technique). One thing I don’t think I stated clearly is that I don’t think Taka is actually technically subpar to his American counterparts, since pop punk is generally not where you go to look for stellar vocal technique. Rather, it is the fact that so many people seem to think he’s a great vocalist that led me to include him. Basically, I just think his skills are overrated. The last thing I would say is that the “standard” does not necessarily have to be American. For example, when listening to Japanese ballads some of the comparisons that came to mind most were people like Lara Fabian (Belgian) or Park Hyoshin (Korean). Unlike singers in some genres, I tend to expect people singing ballads to have more technical skill, since belting/soaring vocals are some of the hallmark features of ballads (especially modern pop ballads). Though the way I wrote it (almost as an after thought) didn’t make this evident, hearing a number of lackluster ballad performances was actually one of the main things that led me to write this post. (My opinion of Japanese ballads has improved somewhat after I finding a Quora post with some good recommendations.)
  7. ladyofshalott

    So I'm about to leave on a trip and won't have internet, but I just want to say I really appreciate all the recommendations! I'll finish listening to them when I get back. I didn't expect to get so many responses and you all have definitely made me feel a bit more hopeful about finding singers that I like!
  8. ladyofshalott

    I actually really agree with this. But I also don't think there's really a downside to having more skill, which will just expand the tools the singer has to express the music. (How effectively they use those tools is a matter of the musicianship/artistry.) There's also a big element of personal taste. I remember listening so some "indie" playlist on Spotify a few years ago and every single vocalist was using the same style breathy/whiny vocals. I'm sure some people love that style and I can acknowledge that it's an intentional stylistic choice the singers were making that did work with their music, but that doesn't mean I would ever listen to it again. Maybe in very small doses I could appreciate that style, but it very quickly became grating for me. U sounds like a lot of pop punk/emo vocalists to me, but a bit more nasally. I agree it works with the music style, and it's more listenable to me the breathy indie vocals (but that's just my personal opinion).
  9. ladyofshalott

    I don't quite get what you are implying. Are you trying to say I started this topic to cause fan wars? This was really a genuine question. Perhaps I didn't phrase things well? I don't hate (or love) any of these singers. I guess I was a bit mean to Taka. I agree Asagi (I got that from the Youtube description, so correct me if I'm wrong) is good. I'm not so sure what you mean by "operatic range," though. If you are trying to say that he sings like an opera singer, I disagree. As someone who listens to opera, I'd say he sings exactly like a visual kei singer and not much like an opera singer.
  10. ladyofshalott

    I agree. I think this is a semantic argument. Technique = skill. Everyone using the same style is what makes them sound the same. A singer with very good technique will have excellent control over their voice, thus the potential for more stylistic versatility, including the ability to drop their technique to get a sound that can't be made with those techniques (such as a singer who knows how to support their voice singing breathily for style in places).
  11. ladyofshalott

    I would agree. I don't actual listen to/like much pop music (though there are a few k-idols' more ballad-y or mellow-jazzy-pop solo work I like). I think the thing with Western pop (and really most genres) is that there's a very wide range. You have Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift types, but you also have vocal powerhouses like Beyoncé. Then there are the Ariana Grandes and Demi Lovatos that fall somewhere in between. This thread is certainly showing me a lot more mid-range proficiency singers than I had previously found. These groups do seem relatively on par with Western boyband standards (though I don't really listen to any).
  12. ladyofshalott

    There's a difference between things like tone, style, and technique. Stylistically, Ruki is very similar to many other visual kei vocalists. Technically, however, he is certainly better than most I've heard (of course I've indicated that that's limited). I agree that he doesn't have a particularly wide range, but he does have control over the range he uses. In the past few days, I have heard A LOT of singers completely lacking in the basics (who run out of breath, are pitchy, strain, can't hold a note, etc.). Ruki doesn't seem to have these issues, at least not consistently. I've listened to a handful of live performances (so I'm certainly no expert on his singing) and come across maybe one pitch issue, but the rest was pretty solid. My point was not to praise Ruki (or Gackt), rather to say that after a few days of listening to Japanese music, I feel the bar for technical proficiency has been set pretty low. Listening to the recommendations on this thread has certainly pointed out many people I hadn't heard that are good/competent, but I'm still not sure I would call any of them "excellent." I will keep listening to see. I certainly don't think technique is the end-all-be-all of singing. Really a singer just needs sufficient technique to make the sounds necessary for their music without damaging their voice. I certainly can see why people would prefer a more unique vocalist without much technique to a technically proficient one. I don't particularly enjoy Beyoncé, though I recognize her skill. However, sometimes I do personally find it hard to listen to someone who is struggling with the basics, and I have to say that most (though not all) of my favorite singers are a least decent (if not very good) technicians.
  13. ladyofshalott

    I'm actually really curious how these visual kei guys get the sound that they do, because I've never heard anything quite like it. The vibrato doesn't really sound like a normal vibrato, but it doesn't sound completely forced or unnatural either, and the singers who do have some technical ability seem to be able to manipulate it pretty freely. It also kinda sounds like they are singing out of the back of their nose or something like that. Like there is a slightly nasal sound, but it's more "dark" than "bright" sounding. (This is probably a bad description.) Anyway, it's quite interesting and a pretty cool style. I will definitely listen to more by those singers. Thanks for the recommendation!
  14. ladyofshalott

    @ghostpepper Sorry I should have clarified, I was talking 100% about clean vocals. I don't really know anything about metal screaming and other extreme vocals (don't particularly enjoy it either). I'm sure it's difficult to do right and requires technique, but as explained in the video you posted, it's a different set of techniques from standard singing. After watching that video I realize that when people praised Kyo's vocals they were more commenting on these types of extreme vocals, rather than standard singing, thus I was probably looking for the wrong things when I listened to him. I can certainly see why people would be impressed by his ability to make such bizarre sounds. I'll try to listen to Ishi, Jui, and Hide. Thanks for the recommendations! I have listened to a few things by Luna Sea and while I thought the vocals sounded better than most, they didn't stand out as being particularly strong. However, I think those were all very old, so I will check out some more recent performances. I have listened to a couple relatively recent Japan X performances and was not particularly impressed by Toshi. Do you have a favorite performance to recommend?
  15. So I’m very new to Japanese music (I’ve been delving into it for less than a week), but I’ve started to get the impression that Japanese vocalists place more emphasis on style than technique. I’m not expert on vocal technique by any means, but even I can tell how lacking in technique many of the singers I’ve heard are. However, since I'm new I haven't listened to much (and some of it isn't very recent). The only vocalists who have stood out to me thus far are Gackt, Ruki, and maybe MUCC’s vocalist (have listened to very little at this point). Though I wouldn’t put them in the category of “excellent vocalists,” they’re definitely solid, especially when compared to most of what I’ve heard. Taka is decent, I guess, because at least he doesn’t sound like he’s struggling to hold a note, but he pretty much sounds like a less interesting Gerard Way to me. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing … He did appear to be struggling with his breathing in the one live performance I watched, though. With an n of 1 that could just be a bad day, but given that the comments were praising his vocals (rather than noting that he was off), it seems like it might be the norm. I Googled something along the lines of “best j-rock singers” and came up with a fan-ranked list, which placed Kyo in first place (the funny thing is that none of the comments were about Kyo's voice, rather that he should be ranked higher than Ruki). Obviously this sort of list is a popularity contest that I don’t put much stock in, but I’ve seen other comments praising Kyo as a vocalist. I’ve listened to a few Dir en Grey performances, but didn’t find them memorable (as in I literally have no recollection of them, even though that was two days ago), which is strange given that Dir en Grey’s music is supposedly really weird and experimental (I do remember the PVs, just not the music). Is he better in certain performances than others? I’ve listened to a number of ballad singers, who are pleasant, but if you put them next to someone like Park Hyoshin, they seem extremely lackluster. Honestly, even SM’s roster of idol singers outdoes them by quite a lot. I’m aware other countries have many lousy vocalists, but there also seem to be more very good ones. I've yet to be really WOWed by any Japanese vocalist, though I do enjoy a number of them. tl;dr Am I just listening to the wrong things and missing the good vocalists, or is Japanese vocal talent a bit subpar?
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