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What is this feigned accent I keep hearing in singing called?


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I have heard this when watching The Voice as well in a few songs on the radio (sorry, I can't remember any specific song).  It is not a British accent or an accent of a particular ethnic group.  It is mostly used by young women and when I have seen it on The Voice it was used by women who had pretty standard American accents when speaking.  The coaches on The Voice would comment that the person was very unique but I never heard a name for it.  Maybe it doesn't have a name because it is a fairly new thing but if you know more about this please explain it.  It seems like a trend.

I don't know how to describe it except that it sounds like the person is saying some words sideways.  If you have heard it you would probably know what I am talking about.

 

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I can think of a few different accents (not really accents, but I'm not sure what else to call it) that fit what you're saying. Some people sing with sort of a lack of enunciation, and others over-enunciate. I'm not sure how else to describe it, though.

We need a link to a video so we can dissect this properly.

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I’ve noticed something, too.  A 20-something woman in our church sings in the choir and I hear her use a strange accent.  But she also has a babyish speaking voice, so I thought it was something she did personally as part of her own way of speaking.

But now I’m hearing a lot of other young women (teens) in our church sing that way, too.  I thought maybe they were just mimicking this 20-something that I know.  

But now that you post this...maybe it’s a thing everywhere.  I found a FB post that one of the girls’ mom’’s posted (I won’t link it here—the girls are only 12/13), and it’s a sort of over-enunciation that almost makes me think of an Irish accent.  It’s hard to pinpoint just what it sounds like.

 

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I know exactly what you mean. It’s been a popular thing for several years. I was just commenting to my kids the other day that I wondered how long it would last and if eventually it would date singers to this particular decade. I actually quite like it much of the time, but it is reaching a point where it’s so commonly done that it’s no longer unique. It’s almost refreshing when a young female singer just sings a song straight with no added effects like that. 

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1 minute ago, kand said:

I know exactly what you mean. It’s been a popular thing for several years. I was just commenting to my kids the other day that I wondered how long it would last and if eventually it would date singers to this particular decade. I actually quite like it much of the time, but it is reaching a point where it’s so commonly done that it’s no longer unique. It’s almost refreshing when a young female singer just sings a song straight with no added effects like that. 

Do you have an example?

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I think I know what you are talking about. My husband and I always call them the girls with the 'affected' voices.  It can be quite pretty.  I feel like the Maddie James character in Nashville has a bit of that in her voice, especially when she sings the verses and not the chorus.  It's almost like they have an accent when they sing. I think I remember on one of the Voice seasons that they compared a singer using that technique to a famous singer but I can't remember who. Lorde maybe? Or Sia?  They are from New Zealand and Australia.

Here is a clip of the Nashville character.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=nashville+maddie+songs&&view=detail&mid=8355A8C8183E2BA7CCF78355A8C8183E2BA7CCF7&&FORM=VDRVRV

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7 hours ago, CaliforniaDreamin said:

I think I know what you are talking about. My husband and I always call them the girls with the 'affected' voices.  It can be quite pretty.  I feel like the Maddie James character in Nashville has a bit of that in her voice, especially when she sings the verses and not the chorus.  It's almost like they have an accent when they sing. I think I remember on one of the Voice seasons that they compared a singer using that technique to a famous singer but I can't remember who. Lorde maybe? Or Sia?  They are from New Zealand and Australia.

Here is a clip of the Nashville character.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=nashville+maddie+songs&&view=detail&mid=8355A8C8183E2BA7CCF78355A8C8183E2BA7CCF7&&FORM=VDRVRV

Yes, this is the sound I am hearing.

Like, she sings the word “out” but stretches it out and it almost has an exaggerated sound (when you stop and break it down), like a wolf howling at the moon. Instead of ‘out’ it’s ‘ow-oot’. 

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22 minutes ago, seekinghim45 said:

I don't know that it has a term for it, but I've noticed a lot of young Christian singers do it.  My daughter and another girl that leads in my choir do it, and it drives me nutty.  It isn't pure.  It isn't good singing, but it is very, very popular and they all want to sound like that. 

 

Yup. This is what I’m hearing, too. That’s the sound.

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1 hour ago, seekinghim45 said:

I don't know that it has a term for it, but I've noticed a lot of young Christian singers do it.  My daughter and another girl that leads in my choir do it, and it drives me nutty.  It isn't pure.  It isn't good singing, but it is very, very popular and they all want to sound like that. 

 

 

In our house, we call that “singing while on Novocain” because the singer sounds like they have just had major dental work done and can't speak properly yet. In the above example though, the thing that really makes my skin crawl is the massive autotune/ vocoder effect. Ugh! Ick! Bleh! You know how some people can't stand the sound of people slurping while eating apples or crunching crackers or chips? That's how I feel about autotune.

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48 minutes ago, I talk to the trees said:

 

In our house, we call that “singing while on Novocain” because the singer sounds like they have just had major dental work done and can't speak properly yet. 

Yes!  Conversation in the car while listening to dh's playlist:

Me:  So, what's her story?  Does she have some sort of neurological problem?  Or maybe she's on painkillers?  Because she sounds drunk.

Dh:  You've just ruined this song for me forever.

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2 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

It actually sounds a little like Amy Winehouse.  In her case I think it was just her style.  But young women are usually top of the heap for picking up language and vocal fads.

Oh I think you hit upon something here!   Was she the first?   Also Adele has a unique sound many has tried to emulate.   There is a reason she  has damaged her vocal chords.   I am not a fan of this copy cat vocal damaging thing at all and it’s way overdone these days.  Learn how to sing with healthy technique first, then develop a unique sound if that’s your thing.   

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1 hour ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Oh I think you hit upon something here!   Was she the first?   Also Adele has a unique sound many has tried to emulate.   There is a reason she  has damaged her vocal chords.   I am not a fan of this copy cat vocal damaging thing at all and it’s way overdone these days.  Learn how to sing with healthy technique first, then develop a unique sound if that’s your thing.   

 

I think she might have been, and now there are quite a few of the smokey-voiced singers who were promoted after AW became popular.  Adele did have a somewhat similar accent, in fact I think she hired a coach to lose it - kind of a Essex accent, maybe?  Ed Sheeren has it as well, but that's actually his regular accent too.  So perhaps it's kind of a Brit-pop thing that has been picked up.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

It’s a very broad sound with a lot of y and ow added to vowels to lengthen them, instead of just singing the vowel purely.  I adore Bastille but they do this a lot too.

 

 

I'm still curious to hear it. Is it like Adele? Amy Winehouse? Or something completely different. The two links don't seem to be what the OP was asking about but she hasn't returned to say one way or the other.

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25 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

So you can hear Madilyn do it especially at the beginning of this song.  It’s using a lot of y’s to link together words.  Weird syllabic emphasis, and it tends to involve slurring/de-emphasizing others.  Y and E become broad and overdone and you get a lot of dropped consonants on the end of words, and a lot of schwas.

 

I love love love her and this song, but the pronunciation and even the styling is very heavily done.  No straight singing these days.

 

Hmm. I don't hear anything really different here other than some vibration. The OP called it a feigned accent so I'm listening for an accent and don't hear one.

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Dd says Dua Lupe talks oddly in real life.   

Mostly seems like her lips are numb, but her tongue, etc., seems to work normally, unlike some of the above.

 

She also votes that the others above are trying to be Ruth B. singing Lost Boy.

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I have to admit my bias comes from the fact that I've been listening to teen voice lessons for years and in turned listened to many teen singers.  So many young female singers are going after this kind of sound.  I also know a few that ended up with vocal nodules and no ability to sing at all later.   My throat starts to hurt listening to this type of thing.  LOL.   Plenty of music directors in MT do forced belting with young developing singers too which might sound good through a show but can really hurt a developing voice if they don't know what they're doing.

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Another thing is that singing can be different than speech at the neurological level. I have severe speech impairments (articulation, constructive verbal dyspraxia, and fluency disorder) and can make sounds correctly in singing that I completely or partially lack in speech, even though I have had far less time spent in 1-1 voice lessons for singing over speech. The part that is wiring, as opposed to motor, is wired differently for singing. 

I also imagine formal instruction or the lack thereof makes a difference. I spent a lot of time learning to sing vowel sounds in isolation in children’s choirs, and had a vocal teacher in my teens who did not want me to use vibrato yet because my voice was not fully changed and mature enough-she wanted a straight, pure, uninflected tone and diction. It has come in handy as a general music (Orff/Kodaly)based  teacher. 

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2 hours ago, GailV said:

Dd says Dua Lupe talks oddly in real life.   

Mostly seems like her lips are numb, but her tongue, etc., seems to work normally, unlike some of the above.

 

She also votes that the others above are trying to be Ruth B. singing Lost Boy.

Ruth B Lost Boy was exactly what I was going to link. She does a more mild version of it than many I hear, but it’s the kind of sound Im thinking of. It’s almost lilting wth the vowels altered. I don’t know how to describe it. It seems popular in current singer/songwriter songs. 

Sia does kind of a similar thing. 

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4 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

So you can hear Madilyn do it especially at the beginning of this song.  It’s using a lot of y’s to link together words.  Weird syllabic emphasis, and it tends to involve slurring/de-emphasizing others.  Y and E become broad and overdone and you get a lot of dropped consonants on the end of words, and a lot of schwas.

 

I love love love her and this song, but the pronunciation and even the styling is very heavily done.  No straight singing these days.

 

She sounds like she’s clenching her jaw a bit....very forced sounding 

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20 hours ago, CaliforniaDreamin said:

I think I know what you are talking about. My husband and I always call them the girls with the 'affected' voices.  It can be quite pretty.  I feel like the Maddie James character in Nashville has a bit of that in her voice, especially when she sings the verses and not the chorus.  It's almost like they have an accent when they sing. I think I remember on one of the Voice seasons that they compared a singer using that technique to a famous singer but I can't remember who. Lorde maybe? Or Sia?  They are from New Zealand and Australia.

Here is a clip of the Nashville character.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=nashville+maddie+songs&&view=detail&mid=8355A8C8183E2BA7CCF78355A8C8183E2BA7CCF7&&FORM=VDRVRV

 

It's not this video.  It's more the way they change the pronunciation on some syllables than what they do with their throat.

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5 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

I'm still curious to hear it. Is it like Adele? Amy Winehouse? Or something completely different. The two links don't seem to be what the OP was asking about but she hasn't returned to say one way or the other.

Very different from Adele and Amy Winehouse.  I will try to find a video.  I am very bad with names.

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5 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

I should say I never liked Winehouse and don’t listen to much Adele either, by the latter doesn’t really do what I’m talking about.  It’s more something you’d in breathier pop and folk.

 

I thought of another great example - Tristan Prettyman. She has a normal speaking voice but this kind of vocal styling.

 

https://youtu.be/93nYW_wbNY8

Maybe it's like this a tiny bit but much more dramatic.

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4 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I have to admit my bias comes from the fact that I've been listening to teen voice lessons for years and in turned listened to many teen singers.  So many young female singers are going after this kind of sound.  I also know a few that ended up with vocal nodules and no ability to sing at all later.   My throat starts to hurt listening to this type of thing.  LOL.   Plenty of music directors in MT do forced belting with young developing singers too which might sound good through a show but can really hurt a developing voice if they don't know what they're doing.

The thing I'm talking about does not hurt the throat at all.

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I was thinking you meant indie hipster girl sound (which is not about throat gymnastics but about, yes, some kind of weird vowels or something).

Like Joey Cook from American Idol (esp. on her audition before they made her cover pop songs), or Grace Van der Waal from America's Got Talent.  Or Joanna Newsom.  I will admit to quite liking these singers, but if too many people copy it, it isn't really original anymore...

 

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22 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

I still don’t get it. 

Maybe they are trying to sound cute as in little girl cute? I don’t hear an accent at all.

I think you’re right: it 100% sounds like little girl cute.  The only “accent” is in forming the words in a way a little girl would.  So, it’s an accent, but not a real accent like Irish or British or Russian.  It’s forming the words slightly differently that normal, so it’s a new “accent.”  

Like that “you’re gonna miss me when I’’’m gone” song, she doesn’t just say gone. She says goahwn.  Like a little girl would say gone.  

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15 hours ago, dmmetler said:

Another thing is that singing can be different than speech at the neurological level. I have severe speech impairments (articulation, constructive verbal dyspraxia, and fluency disorder) and can make sounds correctly in singing that I completely or partially lack in speech, even though I have had far less time spent in 1-1 voice lessons for singing over speech. The part that is wiring, as opposed to motor, is wired differently for singing. 

I also imagine formal instruction or the lack thereof makes a difference. I spent a lot of time learning to sing vowel sounds in isolation in children’s choirs, and had a vocal teacher in my teens who did not want me to use vibrato yet because my voice was not fully changed and mature enough-she wanted a straight, pure, uninflected tone and diction. It has come in handy as a general music (Orff/Kodaly)based  teacher. 

Slightly off topic for the thread, but I have to post this ted talk. It’s one of my all time favorite ted talks. 

This gal stutters. Badly. But she sings perfectly. 

One really cool thIng is that she has an “interview” voice where she’s speaking flawlessly. But that’s not her real self.

 

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Trained, classical vocalists do use specific vowel and consonant sounds as they learn to sing in many different languages. There is an International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) that they learn. These vowels sound pleasant and help the listener understand the lyrics in whatever language they sing in. Most pop singers aren't using these vowel sounds, and they also don't seem to care if the lyrics are well heard by audiences or not. I don't listen to pop music much. Too little emphasis on quality and too much on a "unique sound." 

There are a lot of amazing vocalists out there, though. Their repertoire may be a slightly different area than radio stations are pumping out, but they can definitely be found.

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There seem to be two ways of singing that I hear in young women these days...  One is more professionally-learned, when they sing with wider mouths and more open-sounding vowels, so that words can be understood better.  In those women, I actually hear it transfer over to their speech as well.  Not in a phony way because for them it has become real.  They just have a very nice, articulate, wide-vowel way of talking.

The other way seems to be a voice that I hear girls slide into when they aren't as professionally trained, even though they might naturally have a lovely singing voice. It takes on more a winy sound almost -- but not quite that.  It's hard to describe.  I guess "little girl cute" touches on it, as others have said. 

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12 hours ago, DesertBlossom said:

We saw this guy in concert. Full orchestra and choir and everything. The overall sound was amazing but by the end I was so frustrated because I could understand so little of what he sang. I have no desire to watch him again. He does not have an accent when he speaks. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qbhB4RLl4Ig

 

I don't have any issue hearing the lyrics but this sound sprung up with a vengeance shortly after Ed Sheeran hit the music scene (who does have an accent to American ears). It is just the pop sound of this decade I believe. It will certainly date the musical generation. There is a similar gutteral slur "accent" when you go back and listen to grunge rock of the 90s. They had their own sound as well. Eddie from Pearl Jam didn't appear to open his mouth much for an entire album. :) 

The current female singers do seem to sound more "cute" but I think they also go for a deeper, throatier sexy sound. Lord tends to do it when she sings, Adelle, many others. It is different from the more traditional pop driven clarity of say Taylor Swift. Someone who did it a bit before her time was Cher, especially on her 90s albums. Again, I don' think it is unique to this decade. I feel like the 80s and 90s female singers tried to give their voices a higher, more cutesy girl sound alot of the time. Obviously Elvis gave himself a unique "accent" as did Janet and Michael Jackson. So to some extent, a vocalists sound has always been played with.

 That was just a time in history where music was being driven by US natives so even George Michael hid his accent when he sang. Now we have a more eclectic and diverse accent selection in our musical artists. I think some imitation of sound happens and get adopted in unique ways. 

 

Since we are talking music I had to share this video of a Korean girl doing an outstanding Adele cover. She nails the accent even though she doesn't speak the language. 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D_bwfZ7QN7MM&ved=0ahUKEwjbl_Gmgr_aAhWm7IMKHXAFDdwQtwIIIDAA&usg=AOvVaw3uImTGR2iok7Q_zfAVGX9Z

 

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