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Voices and Videos

On attractive female singers and what makes a good music video.

by Dr. Spin
December 12, 2005

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Voices and Videos

Dr Spin,

You probably don't follow pop divas all that much, but I've noticed something. The really drop dead gorgeous ones like Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, and Christina Aguillara are also great singers. Whitney Houston was also like that. But then we are also inflicted with "manufactured" stars who are neither all that pretty or all that great, like Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

Who do you think are rock's greatest female vocalists, and how would they rate in terms of beauty?

Sincerely,

Mama C.

Dear MC,

I don't think I would classify any of the above singers as "Rock." Does an attractive voice make a female singer more attractive, or vice-versa, or both? Certainly, both qualities do enhance each other, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. Aretha Franklin has one of the most powerful singing voices in music, but I would not consider her "drop-dead gorgeous."

Some female singers actually started out as models, such as Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Deborah Harry of Blondie. Then there are others, such as Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas who became models/actresses after their music career stalled.

While I'm sure I will get many disagreements, some of the female rock artists I consider both physically and musically attractive (at least when they were in their prime) are Pat Benatar, Sheryl Crow, and Belinda Carlisle (of the Go-Go's). Emmylou Harris is a prime example of a woman who is not only a good singer and attractive woman, but one who has aged gracefully.

Finally, there are plenty of women who are plenty attractive but can't sing worth a darn; bargain bins are literally filled with dozens of actresses who thought they could sing. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the ear of the listener, but not always at the same time.

Dr Spin,

I, like you, came of age in the 80's.  I actually remember quite vividly when "video killed the radio star".  

As you know, back then, MTV and VH1 actually played music videos 24/7.  The new format fairly revolutionized the way that pop music was marketed.  Producing videos to accompany each individual cut was an absolute requirement.  

Wouldn't you agree that the music video has essentially gone the way of mullet haircuts and parachute pants?

If so, then are they still produced?  For what purpose?

Do you have an all time favorite music video?  What are your criteria?

I'll go on record to say that I particularly appreciated Duran Duran's "Wild Boys" video.  Probably for it's Mad Max-like production values.

Just Curious

Dear Curious,

As far as I know, music videos are still being made, in fact now you can even download newer ones on your computer, much like most songs. There are now several MTV channels, one of which I'm sure still shows videos. There was a time when hits dictated what song would be turned into a video, then it switched around. Now, I'm not sure what determines the videos made or why they're made, other than music is now more than ever a visual media, and they are now considered a necessity to be a "big" band.

I have many favorite videos: Billy Joel's "Pressure," Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" (practically antiquated by today's video graphics), and Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher," just to name a few. All of these videos have the most important element of any good video; they convey visually what the music relaying audibly.

One of the best bands at doing this, and an early MTV favorite was Men At Work; they have some of the most memorable videos of any band. Peter Gabriel too was a great early pioneer of the video age, and while many cite his "Sledgehammer" as ground-breaking, I actually like the video to "Big Time" better (perhaps because I saw it less). Visual innovation was a key element in many of the earliest and most memorable videos, though that is becoming harder and harder to do.

There are songs that I think could have been great for video, but because they weren't "hits," they were never made. Other songs have been turned into videos that either shouldn't have, or the video just doesn't fit the song.

One day Steve Jobs (or someone like him) will invent a site where you can download all your favorite past videos for a fee and create your own playlists, much like iTunes does now (heck, it will probably be iTunes), and I will sit here and wonder once again why people are getting rich off my ideas.

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