Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Bigger The Better

My wife and I had the pleasure of taking a weekend cruise down to Ensenada, B.C., sailing on the Royal Carribean Cruise's Monarch of the Seas ocean liner.

This is the first of three blog posts about our journey.

One evening we ventured up to the karaoke lounge to check out the brave (or drunk, or both) souls who took up the microphone to share their singing abilities with the audience.

One girl, Rachel, seemed to be a favorite of many. In fact, by the time we got up there she was already making her 2nd appearance of the night, prefaced by heaps of praise from the emcee and whoops and cheers from the audience.

The song she chose: Whitney Houston's, I Will Always Love You.

Rachel most certainly had a powerful voice. Loud, and able to sustain notes for a long time.

As the song went on (and on and on and on and on), her voice continued to be nice and loud, and the louder it was and the longer she held the notes, the more the audience cheered. When she was finally done, people were whooping it up.

Me, I was so happy that the music had ended. No offense to Rachel, but there's more to singing than being loud and long. First of all I can't stand the Whitney Houston version of the song because it is so overbaked and overdone, but it was even worse in the hands of someone who had no finesse or voice control.

But, Rachel got the cheers, which seemed to be directly proportional to the volume of her voice. It was obvious that evening, people thought: loud = good. Louder = gooder. Of course it's no different than what happens on American Idol, I suppose.

The most interesting act of the evening for me was this fellow who sang Tom Jones' Delilah. He was accompanied by three female friends or relatives who did backup harmonies and danced in the background. The guy was in tune, the song was entertaining, and he and his three backups worked very well together and kept a sense of humor throughout the whole thing. Their performance was much more subdued compared to the amateur Whitney but it also had a lot more going on than sheer volume.

The audience liked Tom Jones and his backup singers (I think he went by the initials "JR") but there was no wild applause or whistling as with Whitney. Personally, I don't care for Tom Jones, but I did recognize the talent there.

As I sat there, I thought about how this is not much different from the wine world. Often, the loudest wine gets the most attention (and points), and the bigger the wine, the more cheers from the people. The more subtle, complex wines often get short shrift just because they aren't yelling at people.

I think overall our culture seems to be of the opine that bigger is better, seemingly without limits.

That's a shame. I think it is also a shame that such an attitude encourages up-and-coming singers to adopt that louder-is-better singing style. Same thing in the wine world, don't you think?

By the way, if you are wondering who that character is at the top, and what that has to do with this post, he's Vavoom and you can find out more by watching this YouTube (click here if you can't see it below):

Link to the Amazon product page for Felix the Cat

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