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Anyone else find current pop vocals fatiguing?
Old 19th July 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Anyone else find current pop vocals fatiguing?

I think it's the obsession with vocal compression, but I find most pop vocals today literally fatiguing to listen to. It's so harsh and up-front with zero variance in volume.
I'm no engineer, but up until the 2000s, vocals seemed to be placed more 'behind' the other instruments and had some room to breathe. Now it's like someone screaming right in your ear with every new pop song.

Maybe it's just me?
Old 19th July 2019
  #2
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Dan Popp's Avatar
It's not just you, Prizm.
Old 19th July 2019
  #3
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bitman's Avatar
No it's not just you and sometimes I like it sometimes i don't.
I hear pop in the stores mostly.
Old 19th July 2019
  #4
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natefrogg's Avatar
 

hate it, imagine dragons does it so much for me, i'll be in a great mood but just get enraged when i hear that guys voice
Old 19th July 2019
  #5
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A lot of mix engineers have lost their
hearing from constantly mixing too loud,
and boosting EVERYTHING, lows and
highs, adding saturation..its ridiculous.
Chris Lord-Alge is looked up to by all
these mixers but in truth, that is all he
does..boost everything, add tons of “sizzle”.
It’s messed up, I don’t like his mixes and
cant listen to them for long, because yes
they are fatiguing.

Where do most people listen to music? On their
PHONE..the worst device to listen to. Second
most common listening environment..the
car, where you are always fighting about
90db of road noise. So everyone wants their
track to “cut through”.

Sadly, I see no going back to the days
of great engineers with good hearing mixing
records. Personally, I just refuse to
mix according to this current noisy/boosted:
clipped “norm”. If people complain that
their track doesnt have “sizzle”, I tell them
turn up the volume on your phone or your
car stereo.
Old 19th July 2019
  #6
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dirtROBOT's Avatar
Don't they all have like autotuned applied to their vocals now? Voices have no character now, I think that's my biggest issue.
Old 19th July 2019
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Was Listening to Randy Newman's Rednecks today and thought about how well his vocals sat in with the rest of the band, they're lovely and subtle.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
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Praxisaxis's Avatar
 

Slightly off topic but... I don’t think it’s a good idea to mix for the worst case scenario but on the other hand it’s not great to mix for some idealised environment either. After all, we don’t mix for our own room nor just our own ears, so it’s always a matter of degree.

On topic: yes contemporary vocals are fatiguing but not across the board. There are still plenty of good records being made. Hiatus Kaiyote springs to mind. Listening diversely is an antidote for any number of musical troubles.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
I wouldn’t mind some of the auto tuning and overprocessing if it wasn’t also so homogenous. It’s not that just a few use these techniques it’s that pop radio has to use them or it’s not pop. Sadly a lot of the artists actually have some pipes but they’re hiding behind the efx. A similarly infuriating trend that fortunately seems to be waning is the lyrical cadence of
12 123 12345. Damn near everyone rapping used it and Eminem made fun of it on kamikaze. I heard a female singer use it in a hook today on the radio(maybe it was Ariana Grande, her style of music if not)
I wonder when the pendulum will swing back to nice clean dry vocals with maybe a touch of reverb and minimal tuning.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Gear Maniac
Pop music is made for people who aren’t really into music. I dunno why anyone on here would waste brain waves thinking about it when it’s so easy to find good music, past or present.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
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Synth Buddha's Avatar
You listen to current pop music?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Synth Buddha View Post
You listen to current pop music?
Sometimes you kind of have to. My daughter is in “writing camp.” They gave her a CD (kick’n it ol’ school!) of these sound-a-like style pop songs about writing. The lyrics are pretty clever, but the production is doing everything the OP is complaining about. It’s pretty f’n annoying to listen to, but when your 6 year old is dancing around singing about story structure, you go with it. The weird thing is, I can tell the guy has a good voice under all that, but man. Lay off the auto-tune.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
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chaocrator's Avatar
pop vocals, you say?
wrong.
ANY vocals — that's right.

as for me, pop vocals is even better comparing to e.g. rock, because pop singers at least don't constantly scream (with zero variance in volume mentioned above).
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prizm View Post
I think it's the obsession with vocal compression, but I find most pop vocals today literally fatiguing to listen to. It's so harsh and up-front with zero variance in volume.
I'm no engineer, but up until the 2000s, vocals seemed to be placed more 'behind' the other instruments and had some room to breathe. Now it's like someone screaming right in your ear with every new pop song.

Maybe it's just me?
No, you're right. It's very annoying.

I blame smartphones. With a lot of people only listening with cheap headphones, there's no use for a low-end, you're not going to hear it anyway.

I's one of the reasons I hardly listen to today's music. I like big, full productions, with lot's of bass, big beats, strings and melodies that sound great on a hi-fi system. Vocals are only part of it. But nowadays vocals seem to be the only thing that's important.

Also the way people sing these days. Even Mariah Carey is thinking, can't you tone it down a little?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
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Ossicle's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Polich View Post
A lot of mix engineers have lost their
hearing from constantly mixing too loud,
and boosting EVERYTHING, lows and
highs, adding saturation..its ridiculous.
Chris Lord-Alge is looked up to by all
these mixers but in truth, that is all he
does..boost everything, add tons of “sizzle”.
It’s messed up, I don’t like his mixes and
cant listen to them for long, because yes
they are fatiguing.

Where do most people listen to music? On their
PHONE..the worst device to listen to. Second
most common listening environment..the
car, where you are always fighting about
90db of road noise. So everyone wants their
track to “cut through”.
I'd guess the amount of tinnitus and hyperacusis in the world has increased because of this. Mine sure have.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
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chaocrator's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Polich View Post
A lot of mix engineers have lost their hearing
and even worse — their common sense.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
I never paid any attention to the mix (will have to observe that), but I am fatigued with any pop song where nearly every verse and chorus seems to consist of repeating words just to fill a phrase.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
Ksp
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Ksp's Avatar
 

i find 99% of All new music fatiguing as i think its made by people who lost the ability to hear the subtle nature of sound and became a bit like people who ate to much fast food and then find vegetables tasteless as they dumbed down their taste by an addition to the suger and pump of the red meat limit that **** to death sound
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
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tricera's Avatar
 

My wife listens to boy bands and the harmonics set my teeth on edge.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Or this craze for throwing in oo la la, ooh na na fifty times in a song etc drives me nuts.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

They all sing too damn loud. They should try singing like Donovan.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
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When I hear radio songs it seems like pop singers have adopted the same type of fake R'n'B accent. Hard to describe but it seems like everyone is aiming for the exact same voice, one version for men and another one for women.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Gear Nut
they might as well all be using vocoders. They pretty much all sound like robots to me.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
I highly recommend listening to Imogen Heap or the less electronic Regina Spector as a way to clear your head after a modern pop production.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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chaocrator's Avatar
i also recommend listening Meredith Monk for the same purpose.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seanc01 View Post
they might as well all be using vocoders. They pretty much all sound like robots to me.
I wish they would, I love vocoders.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Here for the gear
 

Some of these responses are cracking me up

Quote:
Originally Posted by BM0 View Post
nearly every verse and chorus seems to consist of repeating words just to fill a phrase.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pquinn View Post
Or this craze for throwing in oo la la, ooh na na fifty times in a song etc drives me nuts.
Kinda reminds me of a Christian music parody, where they all use the same chords and same types of lyrics:
How it's Made: Christian Music. Unfortunately I couldn't find a similar parody video for pop songs. Surely there must be one?


Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Sometimes you kind of have to. My daughter is in “writing camp.” They gave her a CD
Yep when you have kids, you just have to put up with it sometimes in the car, etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryDelmarva View Post
When I hear radio songs it seems like pop singers have adopted the same type of fake R'n'B accent. Hard to describe but it seems like everyone is aiming for the exact same voice, one version for men and another one for women.
Yeah, there seems to be trends for accents/inflections.. not sure if this is the kind of thing you're thinking of, but there's a couple types of female singer voices that I find really irritating at the moment:

- The sulky, mumbling female accent (for lack of a better term): Clean Bandit - Rockabye, Alan Walker - Lost Control, Alesso - Sad Song, plus basically anything by Ariana Grande.
(And honestly I could've added another 10 songs by just going through a 2019 pop playlist on YouTube, but it was so painful to go through)

- The female falsetto (again, not sure how to else to describe it): Alan Walker - Faded, Aurora - The River. (bit like the old Cranberries irish yodelling)

- And then thrown in the mix is the female guttural vocal fry, which is not only in singing, but it has infected the way a lot of females talk. Once you hear it, you can't unhear it.

You'll hear at least two of these characteristics in practically any female pop song at the moment.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Gear Head
 
rylos's Avatar
 

Don't get me started on vocal fry. I simply can't stand when women talk creaky.

And that trend that started a few years back of heavily accenting the breath intake noise.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rylos View Post
Don't get me started on vocal fry. I simply can't stand when women talk creaky.

And that trend that started a few years back of heavily accenting the breath intake noise.
There’s plugins to take out breaths. Izotope’s
RX7’s DeBreath. It works a treat!

Thank God for this thread. It’s about time
someone pointed out that what passes
for “awesome” in today’s music production
is really crap. Whether someone’s song is
a hit isn’t the point. If it’s poorly mixed,
it’s poorly mixed.

I have a mantra..you can always cut
frequencies that are there, but you can’t
add what isn’t. And yet we have mixers
adding top end to cymbals. ADDING it.
To instruments that already exhibit
loads of high end naturally.

I almost never boost, with the exception
of around 60 to 80hz on kicks. I routinely
cut highs from cymbals, snares, hats,
synths, anything that already exhibits
lots of high end. If you cut low end from
something that sounds dull, and then
boost its level, like a miracle it gets
brighter! Boosting frequencies that are
not present only adds noise. Hence
the sound of today’s hits..all screechy
noise piled on top of noise.

Go back to the Beatles “Abbey Road”.
It sounds “dull” compared to today’s
hits..but you can turn up your speakers
and it not only sounds even better, it
doesn’t hurt your ears.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 

If you listen to pop music you deserve what you get.... The bleating of sheep.

Vocal fry... the sound of the most entitled, privileged group on the planet: American college girls, "empowered".
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