Forums > Queen - General Discussion > David Bowie strictly as a singer

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Stelios user is on Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 07:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Is it me or Bowie was not anything special in terms of vocal ability?
We had an argument on Wild Is The Wind and if George Michael did it better than Bowie. To my ears its not even in the same caliber applying that Michael is far superior in strictly vocal terms.
And then of course i mentionded Freddie as an example of aside the emotion, interpretation and performance the ability to actually hit the notes and possesing an all around great tone.

So do you ever had the impression that Bowie always goes "around" the vocal melody and almost never actually nailing it?


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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 08:40 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

He's a different type of singer with an artistry that outstrips both George Michael and Freddie Mercury's cabaret turns.

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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 09:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

His artistry obviously outstrips George Michael's, but I'm not sure it outstrips Freddie's. He was more avant-garde, perhaps, than Mercury, but in terms of musicality, it's a tough one.

In response to Stelios' question - I don't think it's strictly warranted to quantify Bowie's abilities purely when it comes to singing. He delivered a package. His vocal abilities can be analysed technically, and it should be fairly easy to determine how "good" a voice he had - although of course technical ability does not always translate to a voice which people love (e.g. Adam Lambert). I think Bowie had a voice which you could easily really like. But I would agree that Michael and Mercury had a "better" voice in that respect.

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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 10:32 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I must admit i am a little bewildered. Overall artistry aside to compare Freddie's -set of pipes- with Bowie's is almost a no-brainer .And to some extent even with Michael's in his best years.
Perhaps i approach it more as a nature's gift and raw force combined with the sheer will to take it to its limits.

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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 11:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

He was a brilliant dude who understood music very well (*considerably more than I. I still need to reference A 440/whichever you prefer to tune anything. I can't for some reason hear a note in connotation with a written note)

he sang and arranged most of his own harmonies.

Freddie had a flair for the dramatic.

George had beauty, depth of sincerity and wonderful control.

dunno how you could go wrong with any of them

David's timbre for rock was a little nasal but whatever. at least he didn't stay crooning (*though it would have suited him)


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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 11:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Bowie's voice is liquid gold. Technically, Freddie is a better singer than both Bowie and GM. I've listened to Freddie more than any other artist, and his voice blows me away. But Bowie makes me LISTEN. He's not a great singer, but he has something that makes everything he does sound good. Couple that with showmanship/personality, and Bowie is as good a complete package as anyone. Same with Johnny Cash, and he basically just spoke through everything. I've never liked GM. Don't berate me for that - musical taste is purely subjective.


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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 13:15 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I like David Bowie. But anyone who claims that Bowie is a better singer than Freddie can not be taken seriously. But that doesnt mean that some people can't prefer Bowies tone or style. John Petrucci is a better technical guitar player than Brian May. Still I prefer Brian May every day because he creates the best sounds for me.


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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 13:17 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I don't like Bowie's voice very much personally. I'm very sensitive to pitch and thus I find it hard to listen to Bowie, Cohen and other barytones with their slightly wobbly and "liberal" approach to the notes.



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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 13:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's the full package that counts. The artist, composing their own work and delivering it from the soul , uniquely by them.
Technical ability don't mean Jack shit.
That's why Adam Lambert will always be cabaret.


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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 13:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Just to add to my first post, as a massive Bowie fan, Freddie is obviously the better technical singer. They are worlds apart regarding what they wanted to achieve, and what they did achieve, with music,

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Posted: 17 Feb 17, 16:38 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think Bowie was quite a good singer (especially in the late 70s-onward) with a great baritone voice.


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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 01:39 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie always sounded like Freddie - Bowie always tried to put on a different voice depending on the song which has always bugged me.

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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 02:10 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

dysan wrote:

Just to add to my first post, as a massive Bowie fan, Freddie is obviously the better technical singer. They are worlds apart regarding what they wanted to achieve, and what they did achieve, with music,





Basically blind em and deaf em in the first 10 minutes, and while they are recovering from that put in the less good songs
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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 02:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

dysan wrote:

Just to add to my first post, as a massive Bowie fan, Freddie is obviously the better technical singer. They are worlds apart regarding what they wanted to achieve, and what they did achieve, with music,





Basically blind em and deaf em in the first 10 minutes, and while they are recovering from that put in the less good songs
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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 02:11 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

dysan wrote:

Just to add to my first post, as a massive Bowie fan, Freddie is obviously the better technical singer. They are worlds apart regarding what they wanted to achieve, and what they did achieve, with music,


I am not sure if an educated singer will say that he had a good singing technique. According to some it is not recommended to sing like him because its very hard on the voice. But I am glad he did it in his own way. He sounds fantastic. And Freddies register and potential is unmatched in Rock'n roll in my opinion. The power, range and emotion he had was incredible.


Basically blind em and deaf em in the first 10 minutes, and while they are recovering from that put in the less good songs
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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 09:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think there is a mild confussion in the post around the term technical . I was mostly reffering to the raw material ( natures gift if you like) one has towards his/hers develompnet as a singer/vocalist -which you call technical - and then there is the technique(s) one applies and progresses to master his/hers craft. The two" technical stuff' do overlap becouse one has to work with what he has got but there still is a distinction.


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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 09:35 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

David was actually a very good singer,on Under Pressure there is no electronic interpretation or anything to get in the way of the vocals,,,just natural fab singing from David and Freddie, RIP to both legends.................xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 10:29 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

For my money, being a great singer and having a great voice are not even close to the same thing. It's like comparing apples and bicycles. Being a great singer means conveying emotion, having people believe in what you are putting across in song. Having a great voice means that you can hit the notes with control, range and expression. In 10 million years, David Bowie couldn't do justice to Bohemian Rhapsody due to his vocal limitations. But his voice in his songs moved people emotionally and spiritually, which for me makes him a great singer.

Roger Taylor once said that he was pissed off that it was easy to pass Freddie off as the guy going "day oh" in stadiums, whilst forgetting that he was a fabulous musician whose piano playing was inimitable in the rock world. Same with his singing, not his voice. Dear Friends isn't about a guy who could hit whatever notes he needed to or to showcase his voice, it was a beautifully sung lullaby respectful of the writer's wish. That's what makes a great singer, an honest interpretation of the lyrics that they're working with, not the fact that you can hit 17 octaves in the same trill. Freddie had a once in a lifetime voice, but if he were a lousy singer wouldn't have made a difference.

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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 11:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

^^^Agree with everything except " but if he were a lousy singer wouldn't have made a difference."
Just imagine the chorus of The show must go on and the peaks in its climax ( or the turmoil and anger in Scandal) in a low register. There is a thing as transendece and to be able to express the "inside edge" with similar pitch provided you can bring a higher level of emotion with it . If not it can be even anoying and soul-less high notes for the sake of it.

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Posted: 18 Feb 17, 14:23 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Bowie did lots of 'big' bits in songs, but he would be the first to say he was acting like all the kidz on The Voice. He served the song, and if that meant nailing a big note he'd work at it - like when he handled all the guitar on the DIamond Dogs album - he said he really really practised.