If you have ever followed a band or a musician through their careers and collected their albums over the years, you might have noticed something funny about the singers’ voices. More often than not, the singers sound a lot better at their later albums.
The positive results of practice — specifically, the 10,000 hour rule — cannot be underestimated. In Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, The Beatles are used as an example: they performed well over 10,000 hours of live concerts in Germany prior to gaining an audience in England and the US.
Some singers receive training, as Jon Bon Jovi admits to have started taking around late 80s (his New Jersey voice — New Jersey album, 1988 — is slightly better than his voice on the Slippery When Wet album — 1986, and his Keep The Faith voice, 1992, is downright superior to both). And of course there is the fact that, as bands get more famous, they perform to larger and larger crowds, score bigger and longer gigs and long-lasting tours. Add experience and practice, and you have a much-better singer. I went to a Bon Jovi concert in 2006. It lasted for 2.5 hours and there were 70,000 people present. I can’t imagine Jon being able to pull the same performance off 20 years ago.
I am a big fan of Def Leppard, yet I’m not too much into their very early albums. They made some good songs, but the voice of Joe Elliot is just not very easy on the ears. It fits the hard rock genre, but it is a relief he wasn’t singing a lot of slow songs back then. But as albums went by (10 studio albums alone), Joe’s voice got more powerful, and more diverse. And he sounds much smoother, even with the electric-guitar heavy songs.
The same goes for Bryan Adams‘ earlier albums. Compared to his later stuff, he sounds like his own rookie, kid brother. At his early 20s, he just doesn’t sound like the guy who would make slow hits like “Everything I Do” or “Have You Ever Loved A Woman”. If you want to put the statement to the test, listen to this Bryan Adams track from his second album You Want It You Got It, released in 1981. The song is called “Lonely Nights”. Then check out his 1993 hit “Please Forgive Me”. You’ll see a huge difference.
The improvement in the singers’ voices is no mystery. Their voices get better with age, experience and practice, even if they don’t go through any formal musical training. Do you remember what some of your friends sounded like in high school? Most of them sound a lot better now. After all, they went through hormonal changes and their vocal cords (also called vocal folds) transformed with age. The vocal cords of a new born are different than a 2-month-old’s, and an 11- month-old’s differ from the 2- month-old’s. Other major changes come at ages 13 & 17. As for hormones, female singers are advised not to sing before menstruation, as their voice quality isn’t intact.
It’s no surprise that singers have improved so much over a couple of decades.
Did you notice any particular change in your singing voice? What about your favorite singers’ voices?