Are Lead singers THAT important for a band's success?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick Sun, Dec 31, 2001.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,717
    Likes Received:
    463
    Seems to me that Lead singers are THAT important to a band's success (moreso for established bands). Agree or disagree? Please cite examples if you can.
     
  2. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2000
    Messages:
    1,025
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, the lead sing is THAT important for a band's success. (Time to open up a can of worms) Just take a look at Genesis. With Peter Gabriel as the lead singer they had a smaller cult following. With Phil collins they took off, had hit after hit, and the rest is history. (Please notice I did not state anywhere that one was better than the other, just that one appealed to mainstream consumers.)

    In some cases where the lead singer leaves, the band has no chance to continue because he/she is the band's identity.

    Jon
     
  3. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm wondering if there are lead singers, anymore, in the traditonal sense of the word.

    I feel singers are used more like instruments these days, and are more part of a band's sound...unless you are talking about a band with a strong need to have individual identities part of a conscious marketing strategy...along the lines of Backstreet Boys, Nsync, etc..

    It seems that one could care less about the identity of band members in most Rock bands, these days. There are no strong needs to care who is in the band, as long as there is a leader of sorts, identified.

    It's not like we care anymore either.

    It went in with the Beatles and out with the Stones.

    No one ever knew or cared, who was really in the Dave Clark Five, did they ?
     
  4. Henry C

    Henry C Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 1999
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just a quick example...what about 10,000 Manics?
     
  5. John Torrez

    John Torrez Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2000
    Messages:
    311
    Likes Received:
    0
    About 10,000 Maniacs, it seems like they went downhill after Natalie left.
     
  6. Henry C

    Henry C Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 1999
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exactly.....so that's why I think the lead singer can be very important to the success of a band.
     
  7. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2000
    Messages:
    1,025
    Likes Received:
    0
    10,000 Maniacs is in a similar situation as Genesis, albeit reversed. They promoted from within, a woman who had a similar voice as Natalie Merchant, yet they have not received as much media attention since the change in lead singers. The death of their lead guitarist probably had something to do with the groups decline also.

    Jon
     
  8. Paul D Young

    Paul D Young Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2001
    Messages:
    351
    Likes Received:
    0
    I guess it depends on the dynamic of the band.

    For example, what was Big Brother & The Holding Company without Janis Joplin? It is only my opinion, but I don't think that I would have ever heard of them had it not been for Janis Joplin and when she left they didn't receive much more critical or commercial attention.

    On the other hand, a group like Santana rotated new lead singers that sang the same songs and I can't say I ever missed any of them after they left. Now Carlos Santana just seems to "borrow" singers from other sources and I think his songs would do just as well if he continued to do the same.

    I'm sure there are many more examples to prove both ways but in the end I think it is more common for a group's popularity or success to hinge around one essential lead singer and neither one usually can keep up the same level of success without the other.
     
  9. DEAN DE FURIA

    DEAN DE FURIA Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 1999
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    0
    One needs to go no further than Van Halen as an example. David Lee Roth had the best personality, Sammy Haggar the best chops. When they left, the band tanked.
     
  10. MikeAW

    MikeAW Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2001
    Messages:
    454
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are all of these examples lead singers of a band, or just manufactured personalities for brand identification, who are supposed to hold our attention for oru interest in the rest of the group to sell something?

    To me, it's coincidental and tangential, that they are singers, and they sing lead vocals on songs. If they leave the band, the band has no meaning for us anymore. Sometimes, these manufactured personalities, when they leave the band to go solo, they flop into obscurity and we don't care about the band OR them anymore.

    As for Natalie Merchant, now, I just want to take a peek under her blouse...just once, yeah right...and I could care less about what she sings. If you look at her marketing, especially for the latest album, this concept what is being sold...it's just not my imagination. She ain't no Britany Spears all over, and never will be, but Sex Sells, however limited with Natalie, and it Sells more than what she can ever sing. She guarantees a certain number of units, and then she has, ahem, push, whatever else she's got ! She isn't ANY different than any other female artist. I can see how that could upset her, but it's the way it is.

    Santana, is milking his success for all it's worth, in merchandising for clothes, shoes, etc.. I'd still love to hear his thoughts about those bottles of wine with his eched-in likeness on eBay.
     
  11. Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

    Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 1999
    Messages:
    901
    Likes Received:
    0
    Genesis' post-Gabriel commercial success was also the result of writing 3-minute pop songs for the first time in their career.
     
  12. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2001
    Messages:
    1,523
    Likes Received:
    0
    the lead is only THAT important when he leads. when the lead tries to do solo, most of the time he / she wont be as popular as when he leads a group. thats my 2 cents.
     
  13. Robert V

    Robert V Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2001
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    felix makes a good point. most fans associate a lead singer with a band, but ehen tney go solo, their popularity may decrease. Lets see what happens to Rage Against the Machine: Zach left for a solo project, and Chris Cornell stepped in as frontman. It will be interesting to see if either project becomes a success.
     
  14. Alex Shk

    Alex Shk Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2000
    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also think it depends on the dynamics of the band, and exactly who makes up their audience. It seems that much modern rock music is not driven by virtuoso musicains (no ranting: there are planty of players with chops and talent - it just seems that their style and the audience is not hanging on every note of solo). Since most bands cut their teeth on the live circut, the lead singer acts as a "focal" point for the audiences attention.

    Van Halen is a good example of a band in more of a "classic rock" model. Despite the talents of the musicians, a large segment of their audience WAS NOT waiting for Eddie to rip off a solo. They just wanted to groove to the radio hits and bop their heads to "Hot for Teacher" (many fans weren't even aware that there WAS a damn fine solo in that song). Having a spotlight grabber/personality like Roth upfront was great for the "mainstream" SEGMENT of their audience. Hagar worked well because he had the musical chops to add to the mix, as well as being a dynamic stage presence. That last guy (truth be told, all I ever heard him do was a brief set of Queen songs on the "Tribute to Freddy Mercury" concert tape), failed because he was such an obvious cliche. It almost seemed as if the band felt that any body with a set of pipes and the ability to shake his ass could fill that slot.

    Wrong.

    Bottom line is, that the lead singer is the center of attention during live shows. The fact that so many of them make lousy solo ecords is testomony to the importance of the rest of the band. Presence and chops. Gotta have both.
     
  15. Howard Williams

    Howard Williams Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2001
    Messages:
    521
    Likes Received:
    0
    In response to the threads question, I would say "No". As someone once so wisely said, "It's all about the music"
     
  16. Mark Lee

    Mark Lee Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 1998
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think the important factor is whether or not the lead singer contributes something else besides a pretty face and nice howling, i.e. songwriting. Look at Talking Heads -- David Byrne would never be called "charismatic" in the traditional sense, and his singing is idiosyncratic, at best. Yet, without him at the helm, doing the bulk of the songwriting, "the Heads" (as I believe the remaining members called themselves after Davey flew the coop) crashed and burned.

    Hell, how 'bout Joy Division? Ian Curtis wasn't much of a singer, objectively speaking. But what he brought to the band was so irreplaceable, that once he was gone (hanged himself, if you must know), Joy Division ceased to exist as a band, and had to be re-made in an entirely new vein, as New Order.
     
  17. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2000
    Messages:
    1,025
    Likes Received:
    0
    Rage will no longer be called Rage. They are changing their name. So..even though they just changed lead singers, it's really a whole new band. [​IMG] Best of luck to Zach and Tom Morello.
    Jon
     
  18. Robert V

    Robert V Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2001
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jon,
    Yep, new band. But if they do covers from RATM, can/will Chris Cornell have same effect? Should be interesting to say the least.
    RATM will be greatly missed.
     
  19. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
    A good lead singer means little compared to the most important aspect of any successful band GOOD SONGS. I'll bring up the aforementioned Van Halen as an example yet again. With DLR: Bad singer technically, but with an interesting voice, but GREAT songs. Sammy Hagar: Great singer technically, once again GREAT songs (well, some great ones at least). Gary Cherone: Easily better than either of the two previous VH singers as a vocal instrumentalist, but LOUSY songs.
    Great SONGS mean much more than a great singer. Peter Townshend doesn't have the sweetest voice around (and with nowhere NEAR the raw rock and roll power of Roger Daltry's voice), but it's interesting enough and his songs are masterful so his solo career thrived.
    A good voice is important, but not as important as the material.
     
  20. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2001
    Messages:
    1,044
    Likes Received:
    0
    There's also the element of band chemistry. Many lead singers write most of the lyrics and a lot of the music as well. Take John Lennon and Paul McCartney; they are credited as writing a lot of songs together, but really usually one did about 90% of a given song, with the other merely adding stuff. They both had the ability to work with the others in the band and make the songs fly, which is really why the Beatles were so successful. Most bands are lucky to have one member that's THAT talented, the Beatles had two.

    If you look at Van Halen, as the band has progressed through time they've written their hearts out and they may not have much else to record. It's possible that, with Gary Cherone as their original singer, they would've been just as successful. Then again, if David Lee Roth was instrumental in the genesis of their best songs, they might not have.

    There are always exceptions, though. Take Simon & Garfunkel. This band, for my money, was about 99% Simon and 1% Garfunkel, yet Art Garfunkel was the "lead singer". Paul Simon sang harmony. He also wrote the lyrics and music for and played guitar on every S&G that I know of. I checked on CDNOW.com and in his entire career (from what's in their catalogue), Art Garfunkel has written precisely one song. Paul Simon, on the other hand, the great artist and writer who didn't sing lead, has had an EXTREMELY successful solo career and is considered one of the greatest musicians of all time.

    Overall, it's really the ability to gel with the band that will create great music, even if it doesn't necessarily generate popularity. We all know that today's music is based on image; good-looking faces and bodies sell records. It remains to be seen if truly great music will dominate the scene ever again.

    -Tom
     

Share This Page