Music is said to be the universal language of love – and I couldn’t agree more. But, while I find the clichÃ© to be prominent, I must admit it’s annoying to see the latest string of aspiring white singers mimic the tone and texture of soul music on reality shows such as “American Idol” and “The Road to Stardom.”
The world is aware that the sound of soul is indisputably linked to the roots of black people’s vocal chords and singers such as Jojo and Justin Timberlake dare to make the connection. The sound of soul isn’t a neat tool that is to be characterized with the production of syrupy and lyrically inept songs.
Mainstream music labels have gone rabid with shoddy A&R recruits. It isn’t enough that these songs are being publicized and put into rotation, but they are later compiled into mixed CDs just as whack.
All NOW volumes – whack, corny and bogus. The record industry is making an abundance of U.S. “greenbacks,” all to the disadvantage of the white children of American society who buy into the gilded glitz of what is currently hot. It’s like abuse to those children who will one day aspire to be entertainers, musicians or singers. It seems unfair that they should be greatly exposed to the distinguished vibratos and crescendos, the baritones, tenors, altos and soprano voices manipulated by black people.
Even worse are the videos that accompany some of the most redundant bubble-gum songs. Imagine being given $500,000 to produce a music video that will most-likely struggle to climb aboard the top 10 video countdown. The super-sized gold nameplate earrings, the shell-toe Adidas, the cornrows and the background dancers have to stop. I almost twisted my ankle watching Lindsay Lohan get “loose” in her video for “Rumors,” and I was sitting down.
I’m so sick of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin and yes, Whitney Houston being credited as the inspirations of singing performances. But, who am I to contest their dedications? While all eyes appear to be fixed on the style of black folks, a great portion of attention to some white singers is being overlooked.
It’s not so bad a deal to reach into the crates of the 70s music. In it, timeless songs by white artists are sure to be found.
No, Patti LaBelle isn’t white – but Carly Simon is. Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway aren’t white but Michael McDonald and The Doobie Brothers are.
Young, white Americans, there is (believably) a wealth of great music to borrow from other than the music of black folks.
Music is great, it is enlightening and it all can’t sound the same or be attempted to sound so reminiscent to blacks. The white singers who attempt to become more “soulful,” can only earn proper respect by rummaging into the music files of white artists with their own brand of soul defined.
Some may find this article to be offensive and that’s quite possible and OK, but I like to view it more so as a music appreciation lesson. And, as Pink believes herself to be misunderstood, I imagine that I will sometimes be as well.
However, in the lyrics of Bonnie Raitt, I’m reassured that it really doesn’t matter because, “I can’t make you love me,” one way or another if you don’t.
Jarrell Douse is a senior public relations student from Miami. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.