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Are Men Singing Higher in Pop Music? (pudding.cool)
43 points by feross 55 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 40 comments

Haha, so the author actually found that 2019--like the last several years--has been one of the lowest-singing years of the last few decades, but they decided to torture the data until they could find a perspective that confirmed the opposite.

Don't be a pitch change denier. Part of the pitch increase problem is the increased volatility and one season of abnormally low tones does not change anything. Global consensus is that pitches are on the rise and we must act now before it goes ultrasonic and us old people can't even hear it anymore.

Oh wait, nevermind, that wouldn't be a bad thing.

Yeah, seems disingenuous to prematurely do analysis on 2019 data when the year's not even over yet. Even more so when we see that the top 10 hits average follows the general trend for the top 100.

Um, perhaps it's because the entire entertainment industry views tenors as having talents that are worth developing, and baritones as disposable extras?

(Baritone here. We ARE disposable extras. But can't they pretend at least a little?)

Maybe tenors are seen as worth developing because it is so much more rare than a male baritone?

I’m not sure your hypothesis has any weight, but I do sympathize with you ;).

OTOH, I suspect many of the falsetto and high male voices are more successful in an autotune era because of the sweet sauce that even a small application of autotune gives a vocal recording. The Weeknd’s mixing engineer has professed to using a little autotune on everything because that’s what people are used to hearing, i would be surprised if other popular artists aren’t using at least a little autotune for flavor. It really stabilizes and adds a sweetness to an otherwise shaky or weak falsetto / high male head voice.

What about country, blues, etc?

Country is mostly autotuned pretend singers now.

With a lot of the music played on tv and radio, sure. Same old recipe where friendly corps are trying to capitalize on "pop music" they can pump out with their many song writers, hand crafted stars, contracted labels, and the handful of companies that own every radio station across the country. Never been a good barometer of where everything is headed IMO.

There seems to be this resurgence of not-that-stuff coming out. Sturgil Simpson, Brent Cobb, Colter Wall, Cody Jinks, Jason Eady, Tyler Childers, etc. (there are many)

I say this as somebody who has never been a fan of country. Some of the most interesting stuff feels like its in their category. But I do agree almost none of it is what I've ever heard on the tv or radio. Not much new there, in my experience.

I do like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton, though they're probably not mainstream/radio country.

Somewhat related - I don't know much enough bluegrass to distinguish between good and bad bluegrass, but I really like Billy Strings, who I discovered recently. He's great.[0]

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6CyQftidOw

A friend called country "cowboy hip hop" in that it focuses a lot more on lyrical ability than actual singing skills

Lyrical ability?

Pick-up truck, tight jeans, down by the river, drinking whiskey.

Where's my grammy?

I mean it's not like mainstream hip-hop deals with hard hitting themes and complex lyrics.

Ex took it, along with the dog

No, that's Blues

The whole Lil Nas X flap couldn't more fit what you're pitching here

What I got out of this was how much better the top 100 music of the 70s-80s was compared to the 2010s. Oh wait, that's right, I'm old.

This article is a hassle to read

Most of pudding's stuff is good, but this was seizure-inducing horror.

Did you read it on a phone or on a large screen? On my phone, it worked great. My guess is that it was optimized for a small screen.

It's pretty obvious it was designed for a smartphone just by seeing the word "tap" as soon as you open it.

Viewing it on desktop was an awful experience, mainly because of the background videos taking up the whole browser window and no ability to adjust the volume

This should have been either a paper or a video, but it couldn't decide

It's already a video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJT2h5uGAC0

Great video. One of the few infographic videos I've ever managed to watch in entirety

Back in the 70s/80s, I remember opinionated people claiming that the higher the guys sang, the more commercialized the music was.

Sparks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAzESJ62irI

Is it wrong to give upvotes based on the mentioning of Sparks?

I am unrepentent in my sins!

This thread is big enough for the both of us!

I'm not sure this has anything to do with pitch, but thanks for the link anyway. As a late millennial, I was pointing this out to people around 2013-2014 as an example of how all new pop music sounded the same. The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men (both mentioned in Metzger's piece) were bands popular with my crowd that are especially guilty of this repetitive riff.

It seems to have been dying out since then, though I'm sure pop artists will come up with something equally irritating to put in all their songs.

The name does seem a bit unfair to me. It's not a particularly millennial thing, it's just what's common in pop music right now. It also doesn't sound like a "whoop" at all to me, which makes the name doubly confusing.

Pop music has always sounded the same, commercial pressure tends to make it formulaic and apealling to the lowest common denominator.

I used to think that main stream success was a sign that the band I was listening to had either lost their originality and were no longer cool. My CD collection used to consist of a lot of 1st, 2nd and occassionally 3rd albums.

As an elder millennial, I agree with your last paragraph, still a funny name for it though.

>The millennial whoop is a melodic pattern alternating between the fifth and third notes in a major scale,..

I checked out The Time's Jungle Love and Lady Gaga's Bad Romance (mentioned on that page as examples) to hear what this sounds like...and surprisingly, neither had anything alternating between the third and fifth. (Musician here) Both are in a minor key. Jungle Love has alternating flat 7th up to tonic. Both have tonic up to flat 3rd alternating..Maybe that's what they mean? But nothing like the description. (Hmm although tonic -> flat 3rd and major 3rd -> 5th are both a minor third I guess.)

Example of actual alternating 3rd and 5th in major scale: the first 8 notes of the middle section (bridge) of Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Someday, I wish upon a star..

p.s. Damn you HN! First time I ever saw a Lady Gaga video...

The Wikipedia entry cites "Bad Romance" as an example of this whoop, which is one of the lowest-sung female performances I can recall off the top of my head.

I don't think the whoop is about pitch -- it's about intervals. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN23lFKfpck

Does Bad Romance even have the millennial whoop?

It does, its just harder to tell. Its right at the beginning and I believe in the chorus as well.

Its just not as good of an example as Owl City Good Time https://youtu.be/7oBU7d5oenQ?t=62

I was curious if this was related to the Vox Earworm video that just came out on the subject. Sounds like it was a collaboration. The video is much better than this pudding.cool article IMO. https://youtu.be/qJT2h5uGAC0

Reminds me of pitch inflation [1]. Time is a flat circle in the arts it seems.

[1] https://music.stackexchange.com/questions/10388/what-is-the-...

Although pitch inflation is referring to changes about as large as a concert A changing from 440 Hz to 442 Hz, a change of around a tenth of a semitone. The pitch difference between Barry White and Frankie Valli is more like a few octaves.

Yeah, hard to imagine men singing much higher than Frankie Valli. That guy's got some pipes.

Now I'm curious if they should do this for women's voices getting lower. It sounds like it to me that they are. Lady gaga and Lana Del Rey come to mind for recent examples.

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