Tag Archives: sing better english

What’s in a Name?

Imagine this: you’re the vocalist in The Pink Phylloid psychedelic tribute band.  Tonight’s gig? A chateau near St Tropez. The usual dressing room routine: paisley, kohl, crushed velvet, hot thyme. DSC00841

Your manager bursts in. Le Twitter’s aflame. Not as you’d planned…

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It’s Hard to Sing Reggae When Your Head is Full of Strawberry Jam

She wasn’t a bad singer. She hit every note. But the word Jamming just didn’t sound convincing. Then I realised – she wasn’t thinking of jam in a Bob Marley sense. She was thinking of this:

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No Milk Today – in the Eternal Present

What’s the difference between the way you say the word today and the way Peter Noone sings it in No Milk Today? Does he sound angry with his milkman, happy or sad?

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I Said, ‘I’ll See What I can Do’

The best singers and songwriters cram a world of subtle meaning into tiny words like do. How?

Listen to the Pulp song Common People. Near the beginning, you’ll hear Jarvis Cocker sing: Well, what else could I do? / I said, “I’ll see what I can do.” Repetition and exact rhyme of simple words can sound amateurish and boring. Jarvis wrote the song. Why repeat do here? Choice or necessity? Does it work?

How does Jarvis invest each do with a different feeling when he sings? What’s the effect?

If English isn’t your first language and you’re struggling to hear a difference between the two do’s, let’s backtrack a moment: listen to the two o‘s in Common. Can you hear the difference between them?

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Hamlet or Tarzan? The choice is yours.

Verbs bring language to life. If you don’t pronounce English verbs when you sing, your song will be as dead as an ex-parrot.

“Ha!” you retort. “Do you think I’m stupid? Of course I sing the verbs, all the verbs: do, love, fall, believe, sigh, echo, sparkle. Any verb a song requires. Name a single verb that I’ve missed. Speak.”

Easy. The M verb.

Continue reading Hamlet or Tarzan? The choice is yours.