Kurt's Singing Voice

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 7/21/2012, 9:50 am

Glorfindel wrote:
I wonder what role Chris would play on Broadway (I'd laugh my ass off if he plays Tony in WSS some day)..... or will he write his own Broadway role?

We're still waiting for his Shirley Todd musical to hit Broadway one day. He still voiced this intention in a recent interview neutre

Glorfindel wrote:
(And I'm still in France, but will be home within a week, with the NTBND review in my suitcase, ready to post then.) fanny2

Can't wait to read it. And make sure to include some impressive screenshots from the performance (or maybe not, given that it'll be too distracting for the reader) tonguue
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  brisallie on 7/21/2012, 2:40 pm

Glorfindel wrote:

I wonder what role Chris would play on Broadway (I'd laugh my ass off if he plays Tony in WSS some day)..... or will he write his own Broadway role?




ptdr Oh My! that would be both awesome and ironic!!! Wish to see that.

Delight wrote:

We're still waiting for his Shirley Todd musical to hit Broadway one day. He still voiced this intention in a recent interview neutre


Is a pity that no one recorded Shirley Todd when he did at school. It would be a success in youtube today. I'd like to see it someday...on Broadway.

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REVIEW: Not The Boy Next Door

Post  Glorfindel on 8/8/2012, 10:43 pm

REVIEW: Not The Boy Next Door.

Kurt's real audition in 'Choke' was 'Not The Boy Next Door' from the musical 'The Boy From Oz'. For those of you who are not very familiar with musicals and might think that 'The Boy from Oz' is a follow-up of the streak of Hummelberry's Wicked and Wizard of Ozz songs (Defying Gravity, For Good, Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead), well…..it's not.
The land of Oz does not mean the merry munchkins land of the wicked witch of the West, but it means Australia. 'The Boy From Oz' is a (jukebox) musical partly written by and about Peter Allen. It's the autobiographical story of his life, him working with Judy Garland and marrying her daughter Liza Minelli, and ultimately his acceptance of being gay.
Carmen Tibideaux asked Kurt if he knew that Hugh Jackman had won a Tony for his rendition of Peter Allen, and it's true: Hugh won a Tony for ‘The Boy from Oz’ in 2004.

Originals and Glee :

Peter Allen (the real one):


Hugh Jackman (at the Tony's), songs start at appr.1.15:

(And can I just say how embarrassed I am for part of this fandom, when I read some of those comments?)

Kurt's (full) version:



Lyrics :
(low register = bolded, mixed register = Italic)

"Coming home used to feel so good
I'm a stranger now in my neighborhood
I've seen the world at a faster pace
And I'm coming now from a diff'rent place
Though I may look the same way to you
Underneath there is somebody new

I am not the boy next door
I don't belong like I did before

Nothing ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, but you can't have me
I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not the boy next door

You've been saving those souvenirs,
Faded photographs from my foolish years
We made plans, but they're wearing thin
And they don't work out 'cause I don't fit in
And those mem'ries will just weigh me down
'Cause I got no place to keep 'em uptown

I am not the boy next door
I don't belong like I did before

Nothing ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, but you can't have me
Oh, I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not the boy next door

I'm not sorry for just being me
But if you'd look past the past you can see
That
I am nooooooot
Nothing ever seems like it used to be
You can have your dreams, oh but you can't have me

I can't go back there anymore
'Cause I am not, I am not, I
am not the boy next door."


Singing style, high and low notes :

Well, it's been a long time, and because it might be easier to understand the next paragraphs, I will copy and paste Kurt's vocal range again:

A-Bflat-B-c-d-e-f-g-a-b-c'-d'-e'-f'-g'-a'-b'flat-b'-c"-d"-e"-f"-g"-a"-b"flat

So far I've used the European way of distinguishing the octaves, but I think it will be easier to use the more commonly used scale of numbers on this forum, like this:

A2-B2-C3-D3-E3-F3-G3-A3-B3-C4-D4-E4-F4-G4-A4-(B4flat)-B4-C5-D5-E5-F5-G5-A5-B5flat

blue = low register
black = both low register and high register: breaking points
red = high register
C5 = tenor C
(C6 = soprano C)


The Key Change:
'Not The Boy Next Door' was transposed upwards….. a lot. The Glee version is 4 semitones higher than the Peter Allen original, and 6(!) semitones higher than the Hugh Jackman version!
It's a bit ironic that in order to find the perfect song for Kurt, they used a song that had to be transposed so much in order for his vocal range to really shine.
As we've all seen and heard: the high notes are not a problem for Kurt, but the really low notes could be. NTBND starts with a D3 in the Peter Allen version, and the Hugh Jackman version even starts with a lower C3. If you look at Chris' vocal range, you can see that he can sing that low note, if he wants to, but it’s a long stretch down. I don't think the key with the low C in it would have suited Chris, but the Peter Allen version is well within his range, Chris' range that is. And there's the rub. Kurt a la season 3 cannot sing that low, because that would show us he's still a real boy and not a castrate.
Oops, sorry, promised a positive review. blushh

Still, I'm glad they changed the song to a higher key, because I think this key provides a perfect mix of Chris' registers, and it allows him to use the strongest part of his vocal range, the high middle part. The high middle part is very versatile, because that's where most of Chris' breakpoints are located. He can use his strong and hazy belting notes, he can use his clear falsetto, and he can switch registers whenever he wants, to emphasize words and express his feelings even better.
The original song's highest note is an G4sharp (Peter Allen version), which is not that high. After the key change, if they would have left out the improvisation with the high F5 and the end note, Kurt's highest note would have been a C4, still impressive, especially when done in low register, but that last G5 sure was the icing on the cake, wasn't it? hapitgh


Kurt the tenor with falsetto benefits :
As you can see in the lyrics above, NTBND is almost completely sung in low register. There are only a few words that are sung in high register. The high notes at the end being the most obvious, since they are a F5 and a G5(!). I'll get back to those later.
All this low register in a song means that Chris is singing as a tenor in NTBND: a tenor with some exquisite falsetto perks, that's true, but a tenor nonetheless. In NTBND Chris sings some amazing notes in low register, even a tenor C5, and I think that if he had limited himself as a singer to ‘just’ being a tenor we all would have noticed and loved his authentic voice on Glee nonetheless, but his falsetto makes his singing extra special for most Kurtsies.

In order to become more mainstream and usable on Broadway, and therefore hopefully a more appealing candidate for NYADA (in the Glee world, because in reality Kurt would be a sensation), Kurt decided on 2 audition songs composed for a tenor or high baritone: MOTN and NTBND. He’s partially right: there’s much more work for a tenor than a countertenor on Broadway. But what Glee doesn’t tell us is that although there are less roles for countertenors or tenors with falsetto benefits, there are also less singers out there who can sing those roles, so the odds for a countertenor to get a job on Broadway are about the same as for any other voice type, except for (mezzo-)soprano, since there are way more (mezzo-)sopranos than (major) roles available for that voice type. Rachel might have to realize that very soon.
Fortunately Kurt has the good sense to show of his impressive higher vocal range in his audition as well, and he adds 2 amazing high notes, showing something he’s very unique in, something a lot of tenors and countertenors cannot do: his fluent switching from one register to another.


Nothing ever seems like it used to be :
Besides the improvisations at the end, the only other words that are sung in high register in NTBND are these: "Nothing ever seems like it used to be…“ . The notes in the lines before that line ("I am not the boy next door, I don't belong like I did before."), go up to an A4, and they are sung in low register. An A4 is high, (only 1 semi-tone lower than 'Rose's Turn' B4flat) but we've heard Kurt sing higher in low register before, even up to a D5.
In "Nothing ever…" Chris has to sing several B4's (even C5’s, after a key change 1 semitone upwards in the middle of the song), and he decided to sing them in high register, even though he could have done them in low register if he wanted to. I think he made this choice because if he had sung them in low register those lines would get 'shouted' more: they are so high up in a tenor’s vocal range (due to the key change) that they can only be sung with more 'power', and therefore more emphasis. Peter Allen and Hugh Jackman didn't have that same problem, since they were already singing the song in a lower key, and therefore their high notes were relatively not that high for them.

But if Chris had sung these B4’s as a tenor, in low register, he really would have needed to reach for them, and that would have put more emphasis on those notes, creating a feeling of defiance or anger: that line would have been more 'into-your-face' than the emotion in that song warrants at that particular moment (like e.g. when venting his frustrations in 'Rose's Turn'). Chris saves that 'into-your-face' emphasis for the latter part of the chorus. He sings this line in a softer, gentler manner, probably to keep the song mostly light and friendly overall.
Chris singing "Nothing ever seems like it used to be…" in a slightly softer voice helps to build up to a climax in the chorus, which I think is an excellent way of using his different registers. The higher key provided Chris with a nuance opportunity the original singers had no access to, using his falsetto, and that is one of those perks of a tenor with a countertenor range in his back pocket.

In the word "se-ems " Chris makes this little 'jump' downwards, and changes gears (he goes from high to low register) in one word. Remember when I explained that it's harder to change registers in one word than it is inbetween words, and that it's easiest to change registers inbetween sentences? I think it's safe to conclude that Chris is getting very comfortable with this technique: by now I doubt he (hardly) even notices changing registers himself. hapitgh





High notes :

The high notes in low register :
So now we now know that Kurt sings a few C5's in high register in NTBND (not counting the F5 and G5 at the end), but, as some people might want to point out: singing a high tenor C in falsetto is 'cheating' and does not count for a tenor voice.
Luckily for us Chris also sings a few high notes in low register, to validate his tenor status. In the last "I'm not sorry for just being me," Chris sings a Bflat in low register, and if you compare that note with his first B4flat in ‘Rose’s Turn’ you can hear how easy this has become now.
Chris even sings a tenor C (C5) that is not in the original melody: the growled "Oh, but you can't have me." (and I'm not ashamed to admit that I love that growled "Oh" very, very much.) wub


The even higher notes in high register:
When I heard that NTBND was going to be Kurt's audition song I was a bit disappointed: it's a nice song but Chris would not be able to show his awesome higher notes. Then, when I started listening to the song when it came out on First listen Friday, I immediately heard the key change and my mind was set at ease: there were going to be a few high notes in NTBND. But then Chris sang the improvisation at the end, followed by that glorious high G5, and I lost it. Chris never sounded so good: the song was great, but the high notes at the end were gorgeous. They were open, they were free, they were pitch perfect, and d*mnit I wanted to swear and cry at the same time (and ngl: I did).


The improvisation:
" ThatI am nooooooot
(Nothing ever seems like it used to be")

The first word in the improvisation (" That…") is sung in low register, but with a clear mixed register in it to switch to falsetto on the next word. Chris sort of anchors/braces himself on that first word (in low register) and then takes off as he slides into the high register. In high register he sings an A4, a C5 and then he hits the high F5: it's a sequence of notes that form a chord together (F major).
Getting up into the rafters of the falsetto is one thing, coming down from it is another, especially when the rest of the song is almost completely in tenor style low register. Fortunately Chris had already chosen high register for the beginning of the next line ("Nothing ever seems like it used to be"), so all he has to do is slip back into the chorus and switch back to low register at the moment he had already used before in that same line.


Cutting the high F:
The full version of NTBND has the improvisation with the glorious F5 in it, but on the show they cut this part out, and I'm really pissed about that. The whole song only lasts 2.23 minutes, and the improv they cutwas a mere 7 seconds !!! Really, were other things on Glee so important that these 7 seconds needed to be cut? :angry:
It would have been so much better to use that cut part in the audition on the show as well, to showcase not just the one glory note at the end, but also an improvisation entirely in falsetto. That would have given Carmen Tibideaux a much better idea of what Kurt can do with his voice. But no, the most important moment for Kurt in the whole season for crying out loud, his NYADA audition, cannot take up too much time (when Rachel Berry gets 3 songs in 3 episodes to sing about her choking). 7 freaking seconds !!!


The high G5:
If the high F was already impressive, the high G5 at the end was mind-blowing. This higher ending is not in the original song, but it is a commonly used trick to gloriously end a (Broadway) song if you want to show off. (e.g. singers often sing a high end note in 'Memory' from 'Cats') Usually this high ending note stays well within the range of the voice type of the singer of the song. But I think even Carmen Tibideaux did not expect Kurt to jump so high to a countertenor G5, after hearing him sing a tenor song. It made the song so much better, and fortunately even without the cut improvisation it showed what Kurt can do if they would just let him.

Chris has sung high notes in the show before, high F5's and high F5sharps, in 'Defying Gravity', in ‘Le Jazz Hot’, in 'I Have Nothing', and the most criticized memorable in 'It's All Over'.
-The 'Defying Gravity' high notes (F and Fsharp) were unexpected and lovely, but clearly at the very limit of the vocal range of a not fully trained singer.
- The glissando in ‘Le Jazz Hot’ ended on a high F, but even though that long glissando was breathtaking (literally for Chris),it was at the end of a glissando, and that gives the high note an ‘easier’ access.
-The high F in 'It's All Over' was criticized because it felt out of place, and I can understand that feeling, although I do not agree with it. But the note itself was pitch perfect, open and good.
-The high notes in 'I Have Nothing' were many, and it was clear that, due to training and growth, technically there was more leeway for Chris to explore that part of his vocal range, but this song was a heavy task for him.
-But the G5 of NTBND is perfect. It's his highest note on the show yet, and tbh: I didn't know Chris could pull it off the way he did. wub

To get to the high G5 more easily Chris uses the same vocal technique he used for the high F: the first word is rooted in low register (the 3rd “I”), but with already a mix of high register in it, so the rest of the line can go fluently into falsetto:
"'Cause I am not, I am not, I am not the boy next door."



Copying from the master(s) :

Usually Chris sings with a lot of vibrato, that's why his voice is so perfect for musical theatre songs. There is some vibrato in NTBND, but I noticed that a lot of notes at the end of a line, usually the perfect notes to use vibrato on, were cut short and sung flat (without vibrato). Then I watched Hugh Jackman's performance, since it's more than likely that RIB used Hugh’s rendition to try to duplicate on the show, and I noticed that Hugh Jackman did the same thing too. And Hugh Jackman normally has a lovely vibrato. So then I watched Peter Allen's version, and guess what: he does not have any significant vibrato. So Chris copied this vibrato-light style from Hugh, while Hugh copied it from Peter. Smile

Peter Allen wrote a lot of the music that was in the musical, and the role of Peter Allen in 'The Boy from Oz' was based on Peter Allen himself. If you look at his live performance you can see how he moves on stage. Hugh must have studied his moves, his manners, or else it was scripted/choreographed for him in the musical.
When you look at Chris' performance and compare it with Hugh's you can see that Kurt really tried to re-enact that Tony-winning performance. The gold pants, the exagerated way of playing the piano, the piano climbing, the leg on the piano, the little dance-steps hanging in front of the piano, the hip-shaking, the high kicks. It's amusing and awesome to see. But the uniqueness of Kurt’s performance was his flexible back bend to the floor: I wanna see Hugh Jackman do the same. Razz

I found a great compliation of gifs on tumblr, comparing Hugh’s performance with Chris’:



That other song from ‘The Boy of Oz’ :
In 'Ballad' Kurt and Finn were meant to sing ballads to one another, and when Finn asked Kurt what his ballad was Kurt answered "I Honestly Love You". Awww, poor baby. The song 'I Honestly Love You' is also from 'The Boy from Oz' and looking at the set up of this scene in the musical (a piano on stage, 2 guys) you can see how meticulous RM can be when it comes to copying details.



Now, how wonderful would Chris have sung this song?
At the time I watched 'Ballad' I wasn't in this fandom yet, unaware of song spoilers. So as soon as Kurt said he wanted to sing 'I Honestly Love You' to Finn I got very excited, only to be interrupted by Mercedes (I really hated her at that moment), stopping Kurt from singing his ballad. dryy
Listen to the lyrics, and imagine Kurt singing them to Finn….. and prepare to cry a little for lovesick Kurt:

"Maybe I hang around here a little more than I should,
We both know I got somewhere else to go.
But I've got something to tell you that I never thought I would,
And I believe you really ought to know: I love you, I honestly love you

I'm not trying to make you feel uncomfortable, I'm not trying to make you anything at all,
But this feeling doesn't come along every day and you shouldn't blow the chance.
When you've got the chance to say: I love you, I honestly love you

If we both were born in another place and time, this moment might be ending with a kiss,
But there you are with yours, and here I am with mine.
So I guess we'll just be leaving it at this: I love you, I honestly love you."
crycry

Back to 'Not The Boy Next Door':



The risky choice:

Glee made it very clear that 'Music of the Night' was the safe choice and NTBND was the risky choice for Kurt. Why was NTBND a risky choice? As usual with Glee we never really got a good answer to that question, except that NTBND was not the song that Rachel agreed on. So what was the risk?
Possible answers:

- Study time:
Kurt studied 3 months on MOTN, and we don't know how long he studied on NTBND. The longer you study a song, the more it gets integrated in your 'system', and the less likely you are to make mistakes.
^Since Glee never advocated practicing for performances a good time in advance :rolleyes:, I doubt that the message of the risky choice was that Kurt hadn't studied NTBND as well as he had MOTN. My headcanon: Kurt sang NTBND in the shower every morning.

- Music/vocal technical:
'Not The Boy Next Door' is not a very difficult song. I was actually disappointed when I heard that this was going to be Kurt's audition song. And in reality NTBND would not have enough vocal technical difficulty to get you through an audition like this one.
But in reality in most auditions the candidate does not have to sing and dance at the same time. The dancing Kurt did made the song 10x more difficult. Of course, we know that Chris sang the song in the studio first and lipsynched during the show, and some kicks he did during NTBND would have been impossible to sing simultaniously on in real life, but we're to believe the canon of Glee, and in Glee Kurt auditioned singing and dancing, and that improved the level of difficulty of NTBND.
What also improved the level of difficulty is the key change and the high notes at the end. That upped the level a lot. Without those high notes the song would have been nice, but nothing special.
^This is a good explanation why NTBND would be considered a risky choice, but knowing the lack of knowledge on music of RIB I seriously doubt that this is the canon explanation.

- Choosing a not main stream audition song:
Carmen was bored by hearing the same audition songs over and over again, and I can understand that. But there is a reason why those same songs get sung over and over again: they showcase a large part of a voice and the emotional expression a singer can put into a song.
NTBND is not one of those mainstream songs. What makes it even more of an unusual and not often chosen song is that it’s from an Australian musical, and besides Hugh Jackman winning a Tony for it, ‘The Boy from Oz’ didn't get much buzz in the USA.
^This could be a big part of the reason why NTBND was a risky choice in the show.

- Gay-diddy-gay-diddy-gay-gay-gay:
'Not The Boy Next Door' is a song of a character in a musical who is gay, written by a composer who came out as a (rather flamboyant) gay after having been married (so after he tried to ‘fit’ in when obviously that didn’t work). The comparison between Peter Allen and Kurt can be easily made. After struggling a season long because apparently he is not able to pass for straight on stage, trying to fit in (and I'm still not sure if that was what they wanted to show us, aaargh these writers), Kurt resorted to what he could do with vigour and abundance: be gay, and be proud of it.
^That could have been the risk, certainly in cowtown Lima.
But Carmen Tibideaux, dean of NYADA, a musical theater college in New York, would not bat an eyelash seeing a gay kid singing and dancing a gay song. So NTBND was not risky for her, but I think it could have been considered risky by RIB/Fox. Flaunting your gayness like that, and making it a vital part of why your audition is a big success ("I'm proud of being different: it's the best part of me."), is quite inappropiate: that's about as risky as letting 2 boys in love kiss on tv twice per season. dryy Gays are okay as long as they don't shove it in our faces, right? Kurt hip-shaking in tight golden pants really shoved…..something in our faces (oh gosh, I can't help coming back to that, sorry Chris).
Which brings me to the next risky choice of NTBND, at least in the eyes of the writers and the network:

- The demise of the baby penguin:
Maybe it was not meant to have such an impact, and the lighting on his golden pants (oh Chris, poor bb, I saw the interviews and how embarrassed you are for those pants although there is no need to be embarrassed) put…. it a bit more to the foreground (Rolling Eyes) than anticipated, but there is no denying that after performing NTBND baby penguin Kurt ceased to excist. Can ugly ducklings baby penguins grow into beautiful swans? Because that's what happened. Kurt's dancing in NTBND was not only very gay, it was also very sexy. That performance put Kurt (and Chris) on the map of many gays who were not interested in baby gayface Kurt before.
Glee is full of extremes and double standards. In this episode alone they had no problem with showing high school girls in leather fetish clothes straddling a chair, but they edited out a blown handkiss from Kurt's boyfriend. No sexy gayness allowed. You've got to give the writers that little triumph: regardless of the other implications this performance created (Kurt not being able to pass), they were able to sneak this in, since the narrative made it impossible that this performance could have been cut out of the episode by the big bosses of Fox. phr34r



Compromise:

We all know that Kurt’s heart lies in the female power ballads, but sadly, we all also know that that has never given him any success within the show. In order to give a good audition for NYADA Kurt had to compromise one way or another. He had to bow to the pressure of singing a male Broadway song, that was very clear, but that still left him with many, many options, but not all good ones. On the contrary: as long as Kurt cannot pass for straight on stage (ugh) his choices of male Broadway songs are limited, but there are still plenty, if one is willing to look for them. And if one looked even better, some of those songs would fit Kurt’s persona just as well as his designer clothes.
But that was not how it was presented on Glee: according to the canon Kurt’s choices were very, very limited and mostly drag queen parts (really, Glee?).
Kurt was willing to compromise a lot of himself in ‘Music of the Night’, but as we saw that performance was not a perfect fit fro him at this moment, and that’s why he chose NTBND. In many ways NTBND was a much better choice, an excellent choice, but it was not the perfect choice: Kurt still had to make some compromises.

- male / female song :
This one is obvious, and I support it. I love Kurt's female ballads, but if he wants to be a performer on Broadway he will have to sing the male Broadway songs. But I don't even think this was much of a problem for Kurt anymore: he wanted the romantic male leads, as he told his father; he wanted the role of Tony. This hurdle was already on its way to be taken.
- tenor / countertenor :
There are (tenor)/countertenor roles on Broadway (e.g. Gabe in The Next Normal, Angel in Rent, the MC in Cabaret), but they are sparse, and a new performer has to present himself as versatile as possible. Kurt has the good fortune of having 2 voice types at his disposal, so he could audition for strictly tenor roles, if he can't get a job as a countertenor. If Kurt would have gotten into NYADA (aargh), he could have educated himself on roles he might be able to play. And maybe he could have gotten a (chorus) job on Broadway singing as a tenor, whilst writing his own fabulous countertenor roles for off Broadway.
Still, Kurt sang a tenor song for his audition, to 'fit' the male hero singer mould more (though Carmen would know that there are countertenor roles on Broadway), but he was smart enough to sneak in a few falsetto back flips to show his versatility, and he nailed it.
- can pass / cannot pass :
We will probably never know if the story was that Kurt will never be able to pass for straight. Seasons 1 and 2 gave him no problems, but in season 3 his toothpick arms were too sissy to get him in the locker room scenes with the other 'bros'. :angry: Anyway: Kurt fought this 'handicap' all season, but in the end, when it really mattered, he caved in and compromised. He made his weakness his strength, no doubt, and I loved him for it. But with this glorious acceptance of himself he put himself in a very small niche in the musical theatre industry.
Oh, I really wish for a follow-up on this. Kurt deserves it.



Last remark :

'Not The Boy Next Door' was Kurt's triumph. It was the moment he combined all he learned over the years and the moment when he made his so-called weaknesses his strengths. I have some small criticisms on NTBND, but all in all it was the perfect song for Kurt's audition and his journey so far within the narrative.

Let's get the negative out of the way before I get to the positive: blushh
I didn't like the implication that Kurt could only be succesful if he resorted to a gay, flamboyant song. Besides the fact that it means Kurt gave up on improving his acting skills to pass for straight on stage, Kurt is not flamboyant, Kurt is effeminate. There is a difference. Kurt's clothes are outlandisch, but they are not flamboyant, and thanks to Chris Colfer's subtle acting Kurt's effeminacy is mostly internal, quite the opposite of flamboyant in fact.
Kurt is not a gay-bar superstar, although I can believe he overcomes his own inhibitions when he's performing on stage. 'Le Jazz Hot' was a good example of that, and so is NTBND. Still, it irks me that in the end, effeminate Kurt could not convince others to see beyond that. When Beiste, Emma and Artie laughed Kurt off stage and dismissed him for not being able to live up to their (masculine) vision of Tony, we were left with the impression that, besides Kurt's wrong audition song choice, the WSS directors were the ones that were wrong. Kurt's journey was to teach them and us (since a lot of the Glee viewers also cannot see past Kurt the 'fashionable soprano'), that there were more than 4 sides to Kurt and he should be seen for what he can do without being neglected and disqualified for who he is.
But the story turned out to be different: in the end the WSS directors were right: Kurt could not play straight, and what he can do will always be directly related to who he is, and that's where they left Kurt hanging after his NYADA rejection. :angry:

In order for the audience (not Carmen, but us Glee viewers) to see past his 'flaw' in performance, his effeminacy, Kurt did not defy and question this narrowminded vision of him, but he verified it by choosing a flamboyant gay song. He erased his disadvantage by making it a given: if he 'admitted' his gayness, people would not turn his performance down for 'hiding' it, while ignoring the quality of the performance itself. And I don’t like this message.
I hate these writers for implying this, and I cannot help but think that they themselves wear the same blinders that Beiste, Emma and Artie had on during the WSS auditions, since the writers themselves never gave Kurt a competition performance in ND and always put him down.
I'm all for Kurt embracing who he is, but let's be honest: he's been doing that ever since 'Preggers', and so far it got him nothing but hurt and ridicule in return. NTBND is a song that comes as close to Kurt's core being as it gets, and everyone saw him triumph: Carmen Tibideaux (God, I love Whoopi Goldberg. The thought that Chris got to work with her, sing for her, makes this all less grim), Mr. Schue (why did he never give Kurt a solo? why?), and us Glee viewers. The whole fandom applauded Kurt and the media loved his song, but it brought him nothing, again.



I'm sorry I couldn't keep this review all positive, as I promised, but I could not ignore the impact of NTBND and its conclusion in Glee. Now, to end with the positive:
I loved NTBND. Everything came together. Chris' vocals were perfect, and they let him use almost all of his vocal range. Chris' emotions in the song were, as usual, also perfect. Sure, NTBND did not have the epic impact that 'Rose's Turn' had, but it is a totally different song. 'Rose's Turn' was epic because of the anger and frustration Chris put in that song, and it was the first time we saw this side of Kurt.
In NTBND we saw another side of Kurt, a side we only saw glimpses of in 'Bad Romance' and 'Le Jazz Hot'. The performance that comes closest to it is the Single Ladies Dance the way Chris did it during the 2011 live tour. But that performance was cut from the dvd, and therefore it is not canon (if you want to count the live dvd canon).
In NTBND Kurt was sexy and hot as hell, and what made him so sexy and hot (besides the golden pants of course ooppss) was his confidence and defiance. To hell with all the nay-sayers, Kurt is going to be who he is. And this attitude, along with an excellent performance, got him the highest praise from someone who knows how to value a performer like Kurt. It was lovely to see how willing Tina, Brittany and Mercedes (aww, the female muppet babies) were to be Kurt's back-up singers. It was wonderful to see how impressed Rachel, Blaine and Mr. Schue were. Even Brad the piano player was smiling. Smile But noone in that auditorium mattered, imo, except Carmen Tibideaux, dean of NYADA.
And Carmen Tibideaux told Kurt that Hugh Jackman would have been as impressed with his performance as she was, and she congratulated him. Then Kurt almost passed out for joy and kurtsied his way off stage. In my headcanon season 3 ended at that precise moment.



And oh….alright already, since some of you have been begging and teasing me with this, here’s the famous ‘gold pants’ gif….. behind a spoilerbar, because I don’t want everyone getting distracted from my review too much. fanny2

Spoiler:


Last edited by Glorfindel on 8/9/2012, 8:56 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  brisallie on 8/9/2012, 12:45 am

To begin with, good review as always Marie :D and I understand if it takes you time to do it because personally I've so many feelings, by one side this one of my favorite Kurt performances but we all know that sadly at the end it was a wasted of time; not totally because we enjoyed Razz

Regarding that paragrahp you talked about "can pass/can't pass", until today there's not an equality between the actor and the character, we have been told that Kurt is effeminate since season 1 and he doesn't fits to play a male role. However (and ironically) what happen with Chris in real life I'd say is the opposite, he's one that has the huge female fandom and physically he's not that twelve years old boy from season one anymore so Why are they still saying "Kurt is too effeminate to pass and has toothpick arms". Ok I can buy the first statement but the second one? I don't think so.

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Buenos on 8/9/2012, 1:35 am

But the story turned out to be different: in the end the WSS directors were right: Kurt could not play straight, and what he can do will always be directly related to who he is, and that's where they left Kurt hanging after his NYADA rejection.


banzai This.
Thank you so much for your review Glorinfidel.

Even in the temporary moment of "triumph" of NTBND there was something about it that left me unsatisfied and that was what you summed up. Kurt is defined by being gay and in a bizarre way, while the show wants to tell us/him not to change the show doesn't hesitate to imply he cannot change but will be limited by how the world sees him. Always. Those that reject him have an arguably valid point in that Kurt himself can't get past being narrowly defined because his self expression must always include his orientation front and center.

The 3 times he tried to 'act' beyond his niche, ie "Pink Houses" John Cougar Mellencamp, "Romeo and Juliet" scene in "I am Unicorn" and "Phantom of the Night" in "Choke" there was something clearly "off" in what Kurt was trying to do.

The personal Kurt of "Blackbird", "IWTHYH" that transcends such narrow limitations isn't the performance one that the show wants to highlight.

What bothers me is that the show is constantly battling against the versatility of Chris Colfer to try to fit Kurt Hummel into a narrower range to pound home the point that it is clear in a singing/dancing show the character Kurt has a narrow range that he can work on/improve but never transcend. Kurt singing "girl songs" is fine and ok and to be celebrated but the idea of Kurt singing "boy" theatrical songs outside of his gay/effeminate persona is somehow not being "true" to himself. That would be a depressing but a valid POV (there are people that are so effeminate and gay/gay they cannot ) if the show didn't also have Kurt as someone who wants to succeed in performance/theatrical field. His orientation trumps his artistic ambition, they are clearly in conflict and orientation will always come first.

By the same token, Unique is an extreme version of Kurt. The other side of the spectrum are the gays of Blaine, Santana, Brittany and Sebastian who can pass, who have versatility and who paradoxically do not have to be defined by their orientation 24/7.

The show singles out Kurt as the constant of being limited/rejected/found lacking.

Ironically for me the one "performance" that highlighted to a significant degree Kurt outside the usual narrow limitations they put him in was the all too brief "4 minutes" with Mercedes when he was with the Cheerios and not New Directions.


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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  ColferGirl on 8/9/2012, 2:48 am

Thank you so so so much for the review, Marie. It was wonderful and enlightening as always. wub wub wub I wish I had something more meaningful to say, because you put so much hard work into these and just a few words isn't enough to express how much I love them and how grateful I am for them. But all I can really do is bask in the glory of your review and the glory of those gifs. fanny2
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  arina on 8/9/2012, 6:04 am

I love your review as always, Marie. I miss reading those. I certainly hope you'll get the chance to write more of them in season 4 :-)
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 8/9/2012, 10:04 am

Thank you very much, Glorfindel, for this lovely song review. As usual, it isn't only your breakdown of the 'mechanics' of singing that makes these reviews interesting to read , but also your in-depth interpretation of what the song/performance would mean for Kurt, and its implications in the narrative. neutre

After reading your review, I've rediscovered the reason why I liked Glee in the first place. I guess for all its (very numerous) faults, Glee at least gave us this memorable Kurt performance which we are very, very grateful for. Smile

I've rewatched the NTBND performance today-- something I haven't done since the S3 finale.

Sigh... I wish that I could fast-forward time and see what Kurt's next epic solo in episode 18 of season 4 would be (S1- Rose's Turn, S2- As if We Never Said Goodbye, S3- NTBND). In my pessimistic mindset, I'm bracing myself to wade through the preceding 17 episodes of 'Let's explore Kurt's resilience' (aka 'Kick Kurt') episodes to get there. But... it would be worth all the heartache in the end, wouldn't it? Here's to hoping for a less disastrous season 4 finale.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Ranwing on 8/9/2012, 12:13 pm

Glorifindel, I wish I had your understanding of the mechanics of singing. My history of singing was not nearly as technical and while I have a very clear concept of just what Chris is managing to do with his voice, your breakdown of his performances really show was a remarkable talent he is.

One thing that always irritated me about those who try to belittle his NYADA audition number is the argument that because NTBND isn't as technically as difficult a song to sing as DROMP that what Chris did wasn't so amazing (and thus feeds their argument that Kurt should not have stood a chance of getting into NYADA and justifying Rachel's admission). By breaking down the song the way you did, you really show that while the song itself might not be technically difficult, Chris was able to elevate it in a way that few performers could, both with the key changes and the use of his range. I loved the fact that he was able to use not only his full range (with a focus on his lower range that often gets neglected and using his upper range as an accent), but allowed him to add texture with his growls that we don't often see out of him. His technique was what elevated the material into something very, very special and that's something I don't believe his detractors really appreciate.

I agree with your assement that Kurt can't win with his song choices. It frustrates me to no end that Blaine can make a living singing P!ink and Katy Perry without it being used as a slam against him, but singing a song originally performed by a female artist is constantly used to bludgeon Kurt and his value as an artist. It's the old double-standard that drives me insane - girls can sing songs associated with male artists without prejudice, but boys should not sing songs performed by female artisits. And the idea that Kurt can't "pass" as straight and therefore must only perform as a flamboyant gay man is really insulting to his character. Still, I can't help from love this performance. The whole feel of it was not masking himself in another identity (the way Rachel does when she imitates Barbra) but a celebration of all that he is as a performer.


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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Divalicious on 8/9/2012, 2:42 pm

The biggest problem are the lemmings that watch this show. They are told that this is acceptable and that is not. They do not think for themselves, look beyond perceptions, and form their own opinions. Blaine is sex on a stick, despite having greased hair, a sock aversion, strange clothing choices, and not being tall. Kurt, while taller, broader in shoulder, better hair, a fantastic body, is said to have stick arms and cannot pass. So it must be true. These are also the people that will happily move onto another show that tells them what to think when this one is gone. A few might continue to follow Darren, but not to the extent that people will continue to follow Chris, IMO.

We look at this handsome young man, who is becoming more handsome as the months progress, and say WTF?!! you expect me to believe this guy isn't being chased after? While Blaine is the best gay guy you can hook up with? Not only is Kurt gorgeous, he is intelligent, talented, a great cook, and highly organized. He is your go to guy to get things done. When they wanted to go to a contest, Kurt got up off his butt and drummed up money, and got his father involved. He did it not for rewards (obviously, he doesn't get rewarded for what he does) he did it because it was the right thing to do. Kurt is a stand-up guy. We have looked past what they tell us to believe, and see what is there, by evidence of his past actions. He is strong, and I'll use the catch phrase for season 4, resilient. If I were a gay young man in this fictional world, Blaine would be in for a world of hurt, because I would not be stupid enough to think that just because Kurt is effeminate that he is weak and ineffectual.

Going back to the difficulty of the song, one thing we know, and the writers have actually shown us, Kurt is a much better dancer than Rachel. He may not be a great dancer without choreography, the shoulder shimmy and all that, but he can follow direction well. He also is a great emotive singer, and doesn't just blast you with volume, he makes you feel. They are looking towards Broadway, which isn't just parking and barking, it is moving, dancing, singing, making the audience go along with you for the ride. We already know Kurt can do all of that, but can Rachel, when it comes to more than just singing?

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  fantastica on 8/9/2012, 3:25 pm

Thank you marie for your review. I understand it takes a lot of work just to post it here because we use different tags for things than GF does. Some of us don't go there anymore so i am glad you posted here. Big hugs!! Now forgive me for pushing for the next Kurt song review - the rest of the Kurt songs in S3, hopefully before S4 starts.

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Buenos on 8/9/2012, 3:31 pm

The biggest problem are the lemmings that watch this show. They are told that this is acceptable and that is not. They do not think for themselves, look beyond perceptions, and form their own opinions. Blaine is sex on a stick, despite having greased hair, a sock aversion, strange clothing choices, and not being tall. Kurt, while taller, broader in shoulder, better hair, a fantastic body, is said to have stick arms and cannot pass. So it must be true. These are also the people that will happily move onto another show that tells them what to think when this one is gone. A few might continue to follow Darren, but not to the extent that people will continue to follow Chris, IMO.


One of the problems for me is that Chris Colfer as Kurt has such a stage prescense, he commands in an acting scene or singing scene and yet the show wants us to think that that doesn't matter and won't translate to others. "Rose's turn" in season one and "Four Minutes" was somethign the audience saw and to me it was like "Wow".

"Wheels" is a perfect example to me of his exceptional acting. He's explaining to Burt why he threw the Diva off versus Rachel and the line IIRC which goes like " I love you more then being a star" Chris as Kurt doesn't go all "actor ish", he doesn't have to arch his eyebrows dramatically, he seems to instincly know how to use "less" as more. Which is why when Kurt does explode it has more impact because the mannerisms aren't predictable. Even now I can't guess what choices he will do in any particular moment, sometimes he goes for more and sometimes for less.

Hard to explain how but he does the same thing with his singing, the singing is in the context of what he's doing. His singing is nuanced, it's not just one mode or speed. In "Not the boy next door" you can see him hesitant, and then growing in confidence as the number goes on once he's in performance mode, and then switch back to nervous and unsure once the number is over.

As Glorinfel says, he shows his range, but it seems part of an overall package, and not just showing off vocally.

I once said that it was hard the first year to accept Finn as the go to male singer in New Directions (even with Will's fixation with boy/girl romantic duets) simply because the audience in time saw the vocal abilities of both Kurt and Artie, and yes, even Puck. Finn was good in his own way (and I personally love his voice in certain songs, I think he's improved and I thought he killed the YE National number, it suited his voice and his style more then any other guy singer in the group. As a Kurt fan, I have no problem admiring the type of number that suits Cory Monteith, as oppposed to the teethn gnashing when he's horribly wrong, as in the falsetto songs on SNG) but the show eventually corrected the assumption that Finn was the strongest male singer.

When Kurt started singing "I have nothing" I had the sense Kurt was trying to express mutlitple emotions with the song, he was both remorseful and defiant and also saying "listen to me." One of the things I got from Chris's acting as Kurt was the utter bafflement that Blaine would think texting with a random boy actually threatened their relationship. So while others were talking about whether Kurt should have sung in Whitneys' orginal key (My own opinion is that it was a mistake) the actual performance of the song, getting the emotional core of what he was singing about just burned the screen.

I "get" that some people don't like his singing voice , that's OK. But to me the fact he sings and acts simutaneously and there is no line separating is what makes him unique on Glee. Lea and Amber have pipes and on one level they can belt out songs like nobody's business but I don't think they have the emotional connection to a song at their best like Kurt does. Lea can on certain numbers but the endless masochistic "My man" numbers have numbed me to her appeal at times.

The problem for me in season 2 and 3 was that seeing Kurt's stage prescense and ability established in season 1, the show basically did everything possible to make Kurt never integrated as a valuable performer with special gifts within New Direction. They scaled back from making Finn the male singer (to the point that it seemed the show was making questionable meta comments about his ability) but it didn't translate to Kurt being a viable option for leads/solos within the show.

Having Sue offering Kurt a solo if he dressed as a woman and was named Porcelina and then making it a funny side plot while still dismisssing him from getting anything showed how the show refused to put Kurt outside the box they put him in since season one. The show runners were in a sense revealing more when they showed Beistie, Artie and Emma not able to see beyond the niche they put Kurt. (That is why it's not just fangriling wanting Kurt to always suceed but to me wondering if the writers ever see the irony that they perpetuate what they claim to criticize)

Nothing works in a vacuum, and to see someone like Darren as Blaine, who has his own qualities and limitations as a singer, get a free ride as this golden boy who was incredibly talented while Kurt contined to be shunted to the side because the show wanted to make him the martyr of select bias and prejudice as an 'effeminate" gay persona baffles me. There is a cogitive dissonance. It was the same way I felt on how until season 3 Mercedes never got a lead/solo in competition.

I realize that Kurt's gifts as a go to actor make it hard not to use him that way, but I do think his exceptional gifts as a singer being underutilized will always be there on this show and sometimes it's harder to take, but it is what it is.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Ranwing on 8/9/2012, 4:00 pm

Buenos wrote:Nothing works in a vacuum, and to see someone like Darren as Blaine, who has his own qualities and limitations as a singer, get a free ride as this golden boy who was incredibly talented while Kurt contined to be shunted to the side because the show wanted to make him the martyr of select bias and prejudice as an 'effeminate" gay persona baffles me. There is a cogitive dissonance. It was the same way I felt on how until season 3 Mercedes never got a lead/solo in competition.

I think that with Blaine, it's not that he's the most amazing male singer on the planet. He's certainly not the most distinctive. As far as sheer talent as a singer, he pales next to Kurt (the single most distinctive male singer on the show) and Artie (runner up for most distinctive). But, like Rachel, he comes across as the most polished and that is what some viewers take as being "better". Blaine knows what songs are in his wheelhouse and he doesn't deviate from that. I never see Blaine taking any real performance risks. Like Rachel, his performance are calculated to be right in his comfort zone.

I usually get very little emotional resounce from Blaine's vocal performances. Like Rachel, he picks a song that expresses his mood rather than using the song as just the vehical for his emotions. Kurt took Blackbird and turned it into a song of mourning, and IWTHYH into a tearjerker of the likes I haven't heard since. If Blaine is upset, he'll sing Fighter (which was a joke) or INRBIO. Both he and Rachel need the crutch of the song's emotional message to carry the feelings that they want to express because they just aren't capable of giving the song the emotion that they want to express. Rachel is crushed after blowing her audition, so she sings "Cry". Wow... how innovative.

I realize that Kurt's gifts as a go to actor make it hard not to use him that way, but I do think his exceptional gifts as a singer being underutilized will always be there on this show and sometimes it's harder to take, but it is what it is.

For those of us who love Kurt's singing, it's almost a curse that Chris is as good as an actor as he is because he doesn't need a song as a crutch for his performances. He is able to show all of the joy, heartbreak, fear and angst that you could ever demand an actor show, and he doesn't need to sing in order for the audience to understand just what's happening in his head.

Perhaps it's because we don't get Kurt solos nearly as often as we'd like is the reason that the ones we do have are so amazing. At one time I loved Rachel's performances. And then we just go overwhelmed with them and I became bored and numb to them. The same with Blaine. Too much of them singing was like eating sugar right out of the bowl. It reached the point where there was just nothing special about their performances any more. I'd watch an ep and go "Oh, Rachel has another solo. Sleep Sleep "
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 8/9/2012, 5:23 pm

Thanks everyone for your kind words. neutre

Buenos wrote:Even in the temporary moment of "triumph" of NTBND there was something about it that left me unsatisfied and that was what you summed up. Kurt is defined by being gay and in a bizarre way, while the show wants to tell us/him not to change the show doesn't hesitate to imply he cannot change but will be limited by how the world sees him. Always.
(---)
What bothers me is that the show is constantly battling against the versatility of Chris Colfer to try to fit Kurt Hummel into a narrower range to pound home the point that it is clear in a singing/dancing show the character Kurt has a narrow range that he can work on/improve but never transcend. Kurt singing "girl songs" is fine and ok and to be celebrated but the idea of Kurt singing "boy" theatrical songs outside of his gay/effeminate persona is somehow not being "true" to himself. That would be a depressing but a valid POV (there are people that are so effeminate and gay/gay they cannot ) if the show didn't also have Kurt as someone who wants to succeed in performance/theatrical field. His orientation trumps his artistic ambition, they are clearly in conflict and orientation will always come first.

By the same token, Unique is an extreme version of Kurt. The other side of the spectrum are the gays of Blaine, Santana, Brittany and Sebastian who can pass, who have versatility and who paradoxically do not have to be defined by their orientation 24/7.

The show singles out Kurt as the constant of being limited/rejected/found lacking.
Over on TWoP someone said this (and I hope they don't mind I quote it here):
Only Glee would make Kurt too "gay" versus Blaine, not "gay" enough versus Unique, and too "boy" versus Brittanny. Add not talented enough versus Rachel and not "bro" enough via Puck, Finn, Artie and Sam. Indeed Kurt is found lacking in some aspect as his overall arc.
TWoP - Kurt Hummel: Mr. Cellophane

I don't mind that RIB rein Chris in so that Kurt is limited and in a 'niche' as a performer, if they tell good stories with it. If they show us how narrowminded other people (the WSS directors, Will) can be, and if they show us that regardless how this might cause problems for Kurt, he still has every right to be who he is and can even win despite or because of it. But they don't tell those stories (anymore), and that is what makes this so freakin' frustrating. :angry:

Divalicious wrote:The biggest problem are the lemmings that watch this show. They are told that this is acceptable and that is not. They do not think for themselves, look beyond perceptions, and form their own opinions.
Exactly. They get feed the messages Glee send (and those are not always the messages RIB want to send), and they eat it up and think it's true. They are the ones that say that boys have no business singing as high as a girl, and they are now convinced that Kurt will never be a good performer because there are no roles for him on Broadway and musical theatre is not for sissy gays. Good grief. dryy

When I came into this fandom I made it my mission to educate people on misconceptions about music, and especially about countertenors and kids like Kurt. Voices like Kurt's have a place in this world and were valued throughout history. They are rare, but they are not freaks of nature.
I hate how the show depicts Kurt's voice as something so out of the ordinary it cannot reasonably be used in show choir, when in reality Kurt's voice is the special one, the 1 in a 1000 instead of the dime a dozen like so many singers.

Going back to the difficulty of the song, one thing we know, and the writers have actually shown us, Kurt is a much better dancer than Rachel.
If Rachel hadn't choked on DROMP I wonder what they would have done with her audition? After having seen Kurt's dancing and energy/presence on stage during his audition, would they have had Rachel simply park and bark?
I wanted to say that this might be interesting now at NYADA, with the dance instructor, but tbh: I have not a sliver of interest in Rachel at NYADA anymore, if Kurt is not there as well.

fantastica wrote:Now forgive me for pushing for the next Kurt song review - the rest of the Kurt songs in S3, hopefully before S4 starts.
I won't promise anything, because I promised the NTBND review and it has been a mill stone around my neck as I could not review that song without rewatching that scene, and I really didn't want to.
But now that I finished NTBND I think I can move on and review the rest of Kurt's songs in season 3 without feeling (too) bitter. But no dead lines though: I'll get there when I get there. neutre
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 8/10/2012, 10:21 am

Ranwing wrote:At one time I loved Rachel's performances. And then we just go overwhelmed with them and I became bored and numb to them. The same with Blaine. Too much of them singing was like eating sugar right out of the bowl. It reached the point where there was just nothing special about their performances any more. I'd watch an ep and go "Oh, Rachel has another solo. Sleep Sleep "

There's actually something called the Law of Diminishing Pleasure-- whereby the first bite of food, such as a candy bar, would grant you the highest degree of pleasure. However, if you're expected to chew each bite of food 10-20 times before swallowing, you'll find yourself increasingly turned off by the taste of the food with each additional bite. By the time you finish the candy bar, you may not wish to eat another candy bar for months.

The same law applies to listening to Glee songs too, for me.

After season3, I'll yawn through any new Rachel, Blaine or Santana solos that come up in season4. Even if they're sung well. Too much 'taste' of their songs just lead to too little pleasure when listening to them.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  M&M on 8/16/2012, 12:36 am

Just wondering if there was a consensus on whether Chris sang on Night Fever or not. I know he isn't according to the show, but I still swear I hear him. Thoughts?
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  fantastica on 8/16/2012, 12:40 am

no, he didn't. he only sang the chorus in something something "woman".

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  M&M on 8/16/2012, 12:52 am

fantastica wrote:no, he didn't. he only sang the chorus in something something "woman".

Thanks. What a waste, especially since everyone else needed to be autotuned to heck.
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REVIEW: Little solos in group numbers

Post  Glorfindel on 10/8/2012, 9:17 am

REVIEW: Little solos in group numbers .

In season 3 we didn’t get many Kurt solos (4, not counting MotN), and it seemed that Kurt didn’t sing much at all. However, when you look at some calculations Kurt ended in about 5th-6th place when it comes to the amount of songs each character sang last season. This is caused by the fact that Kurt is featured in a lot of group numbers, but his contributions are always very small and often get cut short or cut entirely from the show.
There are a few snipbits of Kurt’s singing in the songs in this review. I’ve collected all the little Kurt lite Glee songs of season 3 (leaving the 2 Whitney Houston group numbers for another review) and combined them in one review. Here they are:

3-07: Constant Craving
3-09: Do They Know It’s Christmas
3-10: Summer Nights
3-13: Loveshack
3-16: More Than a Woman
3-21: Paradise By The DashBoard Light
3-21: We Are The Champions



3-07 - Constant Craving:

Original : K.D. Lang
Glee version :
(Kurt starts at 4.04)


The song :

“Even through the darkest phase
Be it thick or thin
Always someone marches brave
Here beneath my skin

And constant craving has always been

Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls towards truth
Or maybe it is life itself
That brings wisdom
To its youth

Constant craving has always been
Craving, Ah ha
Constant craving has always been
Has always been”


‘Constant Craving’ is more of a duet than a group number in Glee. Besides the few lines of Kurt at the end, the only 2 singers in the song are Santana and Shelby. The original song is by K.D. Lang, a singer with a very warm ‘soul’ timbre in her voice, which I personally like a lot.
The 1st verse fits Santana’s storyline, as she had just faced being forced out of the closet. The lyrics of the 2nd verse kinda fits Shelby’s predicament, as she is attracted to Puck. And I guess Kurt is constantly craving for some win, acknowledgement, something to go his way for a change. :(

Other singers :
As said, the Glee version of ‘Constant Craving’ was sung by Santana and Shelby. Each of them get a verse, and they share the chorus.
Naya begins, and I think her voice suits this song very well. She can convey the longing and the bit sultry atmosphere of the song. But she is no match to Idina Menzel, who takes the longing to a whole new level, imo.
Both singers have voices with low timbres, that come near to K.D. Lang’s style. As a matter of fact: their voices are so similar that it’s hard to tell in the chorus who’s singing the higher 2nd voice. This 2nd voice is also in the original, only in the original it is clearly backup vocals, whereas in the Glee version they brought this harmony more to the foreground.
On the show it seems that Santana is singing the lead, but from just listening without the visuals I honestly couldn’t tell. Plus the voices seem to switch several times during the repeated chorus.

Kurt :
The 3 lines Kurt sings in ‘Constant Craving’ (only 1 line in the episode!) is also part of these backup vocals in the original. If you listen to the K.D. Lang version, right at the end you can almost imagine Chris singing those lines there too: that voice is very similar to Chris’, only it is probably a woman’s voice. fanny2
The notes Kurt sings are not that high (F4, G4, G4sharp), so he could have easily done it in low register, if he wanted to. But he chose his high register, putting on his countertenor mode. And I think that was the right choice: he fits right in with the ladies, and that was the intent.
And isn’t it great that Chris got to sing with one of the leading actresses of his favorite musical ‘Wicked’ (Idina Menzel), while already been able to dance and act with the other (Kristin Chenoweth)?



3-09 - Do They Know It’s Christmas :

Original : Band Aid
Glee version :
(Kurt’s bit is at 1.00)


The song :
The original of DTKIC was a sensation back in the day. Nothing like that ever happened before, not on this scale. I was a teenager in 1984 (do the math), and I couldn’t believe my eyes seeing all my favorite British singers working together for that song: Sting, Bono, George Michael, Phil Collins, Paul Young, etc., and Bob Geldof of course. And later we also got an American variation of stars singing together with ‘We Are The World’. With all the behind the scenes footage we got (that was rarely shown back then and we had no youtube) and the live aid concerts in 1985, it was a real feast for music lovers like me. Plus: this initiative helped so many people, and it’s baffling to think that this kind of charity is still necessary today.

DTKIC was remade a few times, and although they raised more money for the cause, no version came even close to the magic that happened the first time, nor ever will, imo. Glee made their own version for ‘Extraordinary Merry Christmas’ and I think they did an okay job, although to me it felt that there was no emotional impact in the song.

Other Singers :
In DTKIC many ND members got a solo or duet: Finn, Mercedes, Rachel, Santana, Blaine/Kurt, Artie/Brittany, Puck/Tina.
The quite radical key change upwards with 5 semitones was necessary for the girls to sing the (originally male) solo parts, but it had the bad result that the song now is set a bit too high for the guys. I think that the music editors would have done better if they had kept the key change lower, maybe +3.
Maybe because of this higher key a lot of voices, male and female, sound a bit shrill. They tried to mask this by putting a lot of reverb (echo) on the track, but that extra dose of reverb could also have been for making it appear as if the song was sung by a bigger choir like the original (and I’m sure that they used backup from studio singers or dubbing), or added the extra reverb to create a church like atmosphere for this Christmas song.

Cory had the good luck of singing a relatively lower part of the song, so he sounds fine. Amber, Lea and Naya had an easy job because the key change worked in their favor, although personally I think they would have sounded warmer in a somewhat lower key. Putting Amber’s and Lea’s solos right after one another emphasized how different their voices are (whereas in e.g. ‘Out Here On My Own’ they sounded so similar). There is also a lovely harmony part between Amber and Lea, when Lea sings a igher 2nd voice to Amber’s lead.
The duet parts are interesting. In all the boy/girl duet parts the boys (Kevin and Mark) sing the lead voice, and the girls (Heather and Jenna) sing a higher 2nd voice. These harmonies work very well, maybe a bit more for Kevin and Heather, because Kevin’s voice is stronger than Heather’s, whereas Mark and Jenna are more balanced out: they really have to dial down Jenna’s voice here. (I’ll get to Klaine later in the Kurt paragraph.)
The little improvisations of Naya (not in the original) complete the song, although they could have used just a little bit less of these, imo. And also notice how they let Lea adorn and prolong the last word in “Feed The World”.

Kurt (and Blaine) :
Lyrics (Kurt is bolded):

“There’s a world outside your window,
And It’s a world of dread and fear.”


Klaine has almost the same harmony as Bartie and Pina(?)Tuck blinkk (?=Puck and Tina), Blaine singing the ‘boy’ part and Kurt the ‘girl’ part. Of course. dryy
Darren really has to reach for the high note in the beginning: he is practically shouting. But to be fair: he sings the highest note any of the guys had to sing in DTKIC (an A4), and even has to start on that high note.
Chris with his countertenor voice does not have the same problem as the other guys: he uses his falsetto to sing the higher 2nd voice, singing up to a C5.
The Klaine harmony is alright, but compared to the other 2 boy/girl duet parts (which profit from #1 being sung lower, and #2 having the shared timbres of a male and a female), there was not enough warmth/substance in it, due to the old problem of Darren’s voice not having enough depth and vibrato in the high notes to support Chris’s more piercing (higher) falsetto notes. This is one of the big no’s in Klaine’s harmony dynamic. (and it makes me very nervous for when they might let Klaine sing ‘Come What May’)



3-10 – Summer Nights :

Original : Grease
Glee version :
(Kurt’s bit is at 1.10)


The song :
Summer Nights is one of the first songs in the musical Grease, when we get to see Danny and Sandy talking to their friends and school mates about their summer, on their first day of school. On Glee Sam and Mercedes had a fling that started in the last episode of season 2, and lasted through that summer, but Glee never showed it to us. At the beginning of season 3 Chord had gotten the boot Sam had moved out of Lima and Mercedes had found another man. But in episode 8 Chord/Sam was brought back because ND needed his ‘star power’ (Rolling Eyes) and because RIB wanted to remind their viewers that Samcedes once was a couple, they used the song ‘Summer Nights’ in a surprisingly perfect narrative way. You gotta give ‘em that.

Other Singers :
Chord was a much better ‘Danny’ than I thought he would be. He sounded a lot like John Travolta and did a great job. I think his impersonation skills help him through songs like this.
Amber sounded very well too, and I certainly wasn’t expecting that. Amber has a great voice, but at first glance she (vocally) is the same wrong match for ‘Sandy’ as she would be for WSS’s ‘Maria’. ‘Sandy’ is an innocent, virginal girl, as is ‘Maria’: and those roles are usually played by high timbre sopranos, and Amber has a more soulfull voice. But Amber convinced me with her ‘girly’ timbre in ‘Summer Nights’.

Kurt :
There was quite a turmoil before this episode aired, because spoilers showed that Kurt was, once again, paired up with the girls, as the only boy. This criticism was justifiable as we had (and gotten since then) several scenes when it was unnecessary to exclude Kurt from bro’ scenes and songs. Plus he wasn’t always singing with the girls instead when that happened, but disappeared completely (very noticeable in this same episode).
But it turned out that Chris himself was given the choice between singing with the boys on the bleachers or with the girls, and he had chosen the girls, because Kurt would more likely hang and gossip with the girls then with the boys. And in this instance he was absolutely right.
A great by-product from his decision was that he got to sing in the song. Well….. talk, not sing, but the line he got was hilarious. Kurt sings the line of Rizzo in ‘Summer Nights’: “ ’Cause he sounds like a drag.”. Smile
Because Rizzo has a low female voice and talk/sings that line one octave lower than the other girls’ replies in ‘Summer Nights’ (she uses the same octave as the boys use for their lines), Kurt can ‘talk/sing in a ‘normal’ boy’s voice, unlike his “What!” in ‘It’s All Over’. I even think that line in ‘Summer Nights’ was lower than the speaking voice that Chris uses for Kurt. Razz

Here’s a funny video of the videos of the original Grease and the Glee version put together. Kurt’s part is at 1.05:





3-13 – Loveshack :

Original : B-52's
Glee version :



The song :
‘Loveshack’ was first released in 1989, but had a few comebacks later. The title was excellent to use to rename Breadstix for the evening of Sugar’s Valentine’s party. ‘Loveshack’ is not so much sung, except for the lines of the girls, but more spoken, a technique called with a fancy word ‘Sprechgesang’ (which is German, btw). It’s a technique of speaking on a certain note with several ‘hits’ to other notes at crucial points in the ‘melody’. It still needs good breathing control and singing techniques to be able to pull it off well.

Other Singers :
Loveshack was mainly sung by Blaine, with some Kurt, Mercedes, and back up from Rachel (!), Brittany, and even a little Sugar. If they hadn’t cut one of Kurt’s verses from the episode (again :angry:) his part in Loveshack would have been much more in balance with Blaine’s. But oh well, it’s Glee, and this is what we’ve come to expect, I guess.

Here are the lyrics: Kurt’s part is blue and bolded.

Blaine:
"If you see a faded sign at the side of the road that says '15 miles to the…
Mercedes:
love shack', love shack, yeah, yeah. I'm headin' down the Atlanta highway
Mercedes, Rachel and Brittany:
Lookin' for the love getaway, headed for the love getaway
Blaine:
I got me a car, it's as big as a whale, And we're headin' on down to the love shack
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20, So hurry up and bring your jukebox money
Mercedes, Rachel and Brittany:
The love shack is a little old place, Where we can get together
Love shack, baby (Blaine: A love shack, baby)
Love shack, baby, love shack, Love shack, baby, love shack

Kurt:
Sign says, 'Stay away fools'
'Cause love rules at the lo-o-ove shack
Well, it's set way back in the middle of a field


Blaine:

Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back
Brittany:
Glitter on the mattress
Rachel:
Glitter on the highway
Sugar:
Glitter on the front porch
Mercedes:
Glitter on the highway
Mercedes, Rachel and Brittany:
The love shack is a little old place
Where we can get together
Love shack, baby (Kurt: Love shack baby)
Love shack, that's where it's at, Love shack, that's where it's at

Blaine:
Huggin' and a kissin', dancin' and a lovin', Wearin' next to nothing, 'cause it's hot as an oven
The whole shack shimmies, When everybody's movin' around And around and around and around
Rachel, Brittany and Kurt:
Everybody's movin', everybody's groovin', baby (Blaine: Folks linin' up outside just to get down)
Everybody's movin', everybody's groovin', baby (Blaine: Funky little shack, funky little shack)


Kurt:
Hop in my Chrysler, it's as big as a whale
And it's about to set sail
I got me a car, it seats about twenty
So come on and bring your jukebox money


Rachel and Brittany with Mercedes:

The love shack is a little old place, Where we can get together.
Love shack, baby (Blaine: A love shack, baby)
Love shack, baby, love shack, Love shack, baby, love shack

Rachel and Brittany:
Bang, bang, bang, on the door, baby (Blaine: Knock a little louder sugar)
Bang bang bang,on the door, baby (Blaine: I can't hear you)
Bang bang bang, (Blaine: On the door, baby)
Bang bang bang, (Blaine: On the door, baby)
Bang, bang, bang, (Blaine: On the door, baby)
Blaine:
You’re what?
Kurt:
Tin roof, rusted!

Mercedes:

Love shack!
Rachel and Brittany with Mercedes:
Love shack, baby, love shack, Love shack, baby, love shack (Blaine: Love baby that's where it's at, yeah)
Love shack, baby, love shack (Blaine: Love baby that's where it's at)
Love baby, love shack (Blaine: Huggin' and a kissin', dancin' and a lovin' at the love shack)
Love shack!”


Kurt :
Chris nails the typical ‘sprechgesang’. He almost has a British accent trying to come close to Fred Schneider of the B-52’s. I think that this is one of these instances that Chris tries to ‘act’ and embody the original singer, like he also did in his Rocky Horror songs (‘There’s a Light’ and ‘Time Warp’). And it worked: his lines in ‘Love Shack’ are funny, energetic and feels ‘authentic’, with a big wink to the original.
It’s interesting that Kurt got the “Tin roof…rusted.” line. In slang it means that a girl got pregnant, so why would Kurt get that line? My guess is that they couldn’t give it to any of the girls, because of the implications it might have in the show, but it’s still awkward that Kurt sings it now. Although the way he says that line is quite sexy and I for one am not sorry to hear Kurt growl “…rusted”. As Sebastian would say: “Hot”. fanny2



3-16 - More Than a Woman:

Original : BeeGees
Glee version :



The Song :
The BeeGees are famous for their songs sung in falsetto. ‘More Than a Woman’ is from the movie album ‘Saturday Night Fever’ (1977).
When Glee covered several BeeGees songs they put a heavy task on some of their male singers, because when you’re not used to singing in falsetto (and most men aren’t), it is not easy to access that part of the voice and make it strong.

The Other Singers :
Cory sings the most of ‘More Than a Woman’, in falsetto, and I think he did a very fine voice. It surprised me that out of the cast members who had to sing falsetto untrained (Cory, Matt and Darren) he was the best, imo.
Naya sings in ‘More Than a Woman’ too, and I can also hear Darren in the background (the low voice in the chorus). I’m not sure if Jenna, Harry or Heather are singing too, because there are studio singers singing as well, so it’s hard to tell.

Kurt :
In ‘More Than a Woman’ Kurt sings the chorus, along with Darren. Chris sings one octave higher, in his falsetto, of course. Because Chris’s falsetto is so trained and relaxed he has a smoother and warmer timbre than the Gibb brothers, but it works very well in this song.
Kurt also sings in the part that starts at 0.28 (“Here in my heart I found a paradise…”), and I think he’s the one making the little variation/tremolo on “…paradise at 0.33.
Chris blends in very well with the other singers, even when he’s using his falsetto, and once again I mourn for what could have been….. Chris’ voice is perfect to sing BeeGees songs, but alas. :(



3-21 – Paradise By The Dashboard Light :

Original : Meatloaf
Glee version :
(Kurt’s bit is at 0.40)


The song :
In one episode Glee covered 2 iconic songs of my youth: ‘We Are The Champions’ and ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light’. If you would have asked me beforehand if Glee could have pulled either of them off, I would have said “no”, but Glee did surprisingly well with both of them.
Glee cut a lot out of the original song (almost half of it), but then: the original PBTDL is over 8 minutes long! When you’re very used to the Meatloaf version (as I am) you can hear the cuts clearly, but for the more casual listener those cuts are very well hidden.

Other Singers :
In my opinion what made both iconic songs work was mostly the arrangements and the fact that they were group numbers, but I think Cory deserves some of the credit here, because he has a fine rock voice and his lines in PBTDL were very good. Mark’s part was excellent too: he’s got a little more edge in his voice that worked well with PBTDL. The little Naya/Hemo duet part worked well too: Naya also has that edge in her voice. Lea is good in dramatic songs and as Jim Steinman’s songs tend to be full of drama she had no problem with this song.

Kurt (and Blaine) :
Lyrics of Kurt:

“And we're glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife”


Kurt sings this with Blaine, and again the lack of depth of the Klaine dynamic is noticeable. As usual (dryy), Kurt sings the girl part: the higher 2nd voice.
Chris sings in high register. It’s a back-up part in the original, but the music producers of Glee enhanced Kurt’s 2nd voice a bit more (luckily). But yeah, it ain’t much, and so Kurt left McKinley High as the senior who was featured the least of them all in ND. One day I’m going to buy Wil Schuester a kitty cat for that. tronco



3-21 – We Are The Champions :

Original : Queen (Kurt’s line at 1.15)
Glee version : (Kurt’s bit is at 1.00)


The song :
‘We Are The Champions’ is one of the most known songs of Queen. Glee took up a mighty challenge covering it. And I think they succeeded for the most part, although not completely. Surprisingly most cast members did very well with the lines they were given, but the cover was a bit too smooth and bombastic for my taste, let’s just say a typical American remake of a UK product, if that makes any sense. Plus I think this time the use of multiple voices worked against them: somehow the song doesn’t come together, although the individual parts were okay.

Other Singers :
Others have criticized him, but, as said before, I think Cory did amazingly well on WATC. The others did fine too, with special mentions going to Lea and, surprisingly, Dianna.
What I liked a lot was that the lines were hand picked for each character (eg. “I’ve done my sentence, but committed no crime”-Puck, and “But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise”-Quinn). What I didn’t like was the lack of Mercedes/Amber. She could have taken over one of Rachel/Lea’s parts, imo.

Kurt :
Lyrics of Kurt:

“I've taken my bows, and my curtain calls
You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
I thank you all”


Kurt’s lyrics also referred to him as a character (like the other characters had their own lines), and I think it also referred to Chris himself.
“I've taken my bows, and my curtain calls”:
I can clearly see Kurt’s grandest stage performances here: ‘Rose’s Turn’, ‘Le Jazz Hot’, ‘Not The Boy Next Door’. There’s also the funny connection to Chris calling us, his devoted followers, Kurtsies, which stems from curtsy: a little bow women make sometimes on stage (and Kurt makes a curtsy when he sings “bows” and also when he thanks Carmen after ‘Not The Boy next Door’). Razz
“You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, I thank you all”:
I think this refers to Chris, not Kurt. If it would refer to Kurt it would be rather ironic and cruel, as the very next episode Kurt gets rejected from NYADA. Chris is the one with the fame and fortune and (sometimes unfortunately) everything that goes with it. This is, I think, truer for Chris than for any of the other cast members, as he was the unknown breakout star who was not cast as a main character (and therefore expected to become famous, like Lea).

Some have said that Chris’s delivery of his lines felt a bit off in WATC, not like himself. And I heard that too. That riddle got solved when I put the original Queen version next to the Glee version. If you listen to both performances of Kurt’s lines right after one another you can hear that Chris is 100% duplicating Freddie Mercury’s way of delivering those lines: his enounciation, his emphasis on certain words, and the way he speeds up the “everything that goes with it”. And Chris even has a vibrato on the same notes as Freddie had. This only makes me very curious for a whole song of Chris singing a Freddie Mercury song, especially if it would be a song in which Freddie used his falsetto.
But Chris wouldn’t be Chris if, even when immitating the master, he wouldn’t put in something of his own. He lets Kurt act a little pantomime while singing his lines: and by doing so he gives the words an extra layer, and he’s the only one that does this. His little bow, the way he looks at Mr. Schue: it’s a nice little Kurt story in 2 lines. neutre



Last remark:

As said before: Kurt has been featured in quite a lot of songs during season 3, but his contributions were mostly very small, and the curse of his lines getting cut followed him still. And so far season 4 has shown us more of the same. But beggars can’t be choosers, and at least the little snippets we got all showed again how much we love his voice, and how Chris lifts up every song he is in, even when he sings only 1 line or a little harmony.
In all the songs in this review the music producers of Glee used Kurt’s voice very well. They finally ‘get’ him and know how to make his voice work in the harmonies and soundmix of the other singers in group numbers. If Kurt stands out at all in a song these days it’s because we can hear how pure and emotional his voice is amongst the sea of other voices. wub
As a Kurtsie I want more, much more. I know that in comparison to other cast members’ fans we cannot complain, but every little snippet of Kurt singing in these group numbers only show us how good a singer Chris really is, how wonderful he sounds singing the styles and singers of these songs, and it makes us lament that he didn’t get more. Although we’re very happy with every little line we do get. They are like gold flakes in a stream full of pebbles: very rare but very valuable. And every once in a while the stream called Glee gives us a pure gold nugget in the form of a Kurt solo or duet, and we treasure them and hold them to the light over and over again to see them sparkle and shine. fanny2


Last edited by Glorfindel on 10/27/2012, 6:19 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  msjoanlucette on 10/8/2012, 9:44 am

thanks for your review on Kurt's voice. Smile Ironically, I was just looking at your reviews on his voice and other glee songs on glee forum. I don't have an account on glee forum, I just found yours through twitter. These must take you a long time since they're so long. :O so it's really cool reading it! sometimes I learn something from what your saying and most of the times it goes over may head. But it's really fun to read! :D when I listen to one of their covers, I usually just say I liked it. or there was something off. but i have no explanation. but thanks again for your post I'm probably going to search for more of your reviews later. Smile
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 10/9/2012, 9:03 am

Great review as always, Glorfindel neutre . Thanks for posting this here. I know it's quite the time consuming task.

Somehow, I feel a little sad reading this review, as it emphasized to me how little Kurt is utilized (and continues to be utilized) in several group songs. We've had to make do with one line here, a Klaine line there, and if we're really, really lucky, a whole stanza.

One thing I've noticed... have you missed out Kurt's harmonizing lines in 'More than a Woman' in the Bee Gees tribute episode?


Glorfindel wrote:
“You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, I thank you all”:
I think this refers to Chris, not Kurt. If it would refer to Kurt it would be rather ironic and cruel, as the very next episode Kurt gets rejected from NYADA. Chris is the one with the fame and fortune and (sometimes unfortunately) everything that goes with it. This is, I think, truer for Chris than for any of the other cast members, as he was the unknown breakout star who was not cast as a main character (and therefore expected to become famous, like Lea).

Great insight here. You're right in saying that those lines seem more suited for Chris than Kurt. RM may be thinking of Chris singing those lines to him, but I like your positive view on this-- in that it's Chris singing to his fans Smile
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 10/9/2012, 11:24 am

Delight wrote:One thing I've noticed... have you missed out Kurt's harmonizing lines in 'More than a Woman' in the Bee Gees tribute episode?
You're right: I forgot. ooppss
Thanks for pointing that out.

I fixed it.
'More Than a Woman' is now included in the review. fanny2

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Divalicious on 10/9/2012, 1:09 pm

Chris usually finds a way to bring some meaning, even to the tiniest of lines. I like your observation on imitating Freddy, I haven't listened to that song in a very long time (the original, I mean). I think they had him sing the Tin Roof Rusted line mainly because he could get that kind of gravely tone in there. Plus, he looked really hot in those jeans and they wanted to give him a moment of happiness to go with his depression of being courted by his ex-bully.

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REVIEW: The Way You Look Tonight/You're Never Fully Dressed

Post  Glorfindel on 10/24/2012, 8:35 pm

REVIEW : The Way You Look Tonight/ You’re Never Fully Dressed.

Kurt’s first song in the fourth season was a mash-up of an old crooner/musical song and a song from the musical ‘Annie’. He sang it with Rachel and his Vogue boss Isabelle Klempt, a character played by Sarah Jessica Parker. And as most of you know by now: SJP played ‘Annie’ on Broadway in 1979, so this song was a nice reference to that. fanny2
In the 3rd episode of season 4 Kurt and Rachel break into the clothing vault of Vogue, only to be caught by Isabelle and 2 guards. Instead of firing Kurt and kicking their asses out on the curb, Isabelle joins our delicious duo in a song and dance, because Kurt ‘had’ her with “make-over”. I guess Isabelle and Kurt are indeed kindred spirits. tonguue
The song was shown entirely on Glee, which happens seldom, especially when it’s a Kurt song. Granted, it’s only 2.23 minutes long, but still…..it’s nice to have a Kurt song in its fullness on the show.


Song versions :
The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra:


You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile – Annie, movie:


The Way You Look Tonight/ You’re Never Fully Dressed, Glee version:



Lyrics :
Kurt’s lines are in blue.
Harmonies are bolded.

Isabelle:
“Someday, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you...
But you're never fully dressed without a smile!
oh it's lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you,
Kurt and Isabelle:
But you're never fully dressed, without a smile.

Kurt:

Who cares what they're wearing
From Main Street, to Saville Row

Rachel:
It's what you wear from ear to ear
Kurt and Rachel:
And not from head to toe

Isabelle:
Lover... Never, never change
Kurt:
Keep that breathless charm
Rachel and Isabelle:
Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love you

Kurt:
Remember,
Kurt and Rachel:
You're never fully dressed, without a smile!

Kurt and Isabelle:
Ba da ba ba da
Ba da ba ba da
Ba da ba ba da

Rachel:
Bom, bom, ba
Kurt and Rachel:
You're never fully dressed, without a smile!

Kurt:
Lover
Kurt and Rachel:
Never, never change
Isabelle:
Keep that breathless charm
[b]Kurt, Rachel and Isabelle:

Won't you please arrange it? 'Cause I love you
But you're never fully dressed without a…

Isabelle:
Smile.
Kurt:
Smile
Rachel:
Smile
Isabelle:
Just the
Kurt and Isabelle:
Way you look tonight!”


The mash-up:
Most of the mash-up consists of ‘The Way You look Tonight’, and it only has little parts of ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed’(Without a Smile) in it. (and what effing long song titles: even the abbreviations are long, aaargh blinkk).
Only the last line of each verse in TWYLT gets replaced by a line from YNFD (“But you’re never fully dressed without a smile.”), except for the final verse, when the song gets its ‘proper’ ending with ”Just the way you look tonight.”. The last line of the verse of YNFD goes very well with the verse of TWYLT: if you wouldn’t know both songs you would not realize those lines are not from the same song.
The lyrics of the combined songs are about the way someone looks, and not about the way someone dresses: it actually dismisses the clothing (and make-up) the serenaded person in the song wears. It’s all about the smile, girls, don’t forget! So it’s kind of funny that they sing on Glee about this ‘message’ about charm being about smiles, while making the scene of the song all about a make-over with very expensive clothes. Plus, *inserting Chris’ sarcasm here*: singing “…never, never change” while simultaneously having the storyline that Rachel needs to change her appearance to become more sexy and succesful….. Oh Glee. Rolling Eyes

Where was I? blinkk
So we have the last line of YNFD replacing the last line of TWYLT in the verses. The bridge is also from YNFD (”Who cares what they’re wearing…..head to toe”). And the dance interlude (“Ba da ba ba…”) is set on the chords/basis of YNFD as well.
But that’s about all of YNFD, and it’s funny that this still puts a very clear mark on the song, without it being imbalanced in any way.

TWYLT is from the early 1930’s (by Jerome Kern), first heard in a very ‘old school’ movie called ‘Swing Time’ (hey: I love the old musical composers, so it’s not nerdy at all that I know this without checking Wikipedia), while YNFD is from the musical Annie and made in the 1970’s, by Charles Strouse. That’s a 40 year style difference. But as YNFD (and Annie in general) is also composed in the ‘old school’ musical style, these songs still have a similar ‘atmosphere’.
(Just) ‘The Way You look Tonight’ can be arranged as a slow ballad (Tony Bennet), or as a more up-tempo swing song, the way Frank Sinatra sang it. Michael Buble’s version even has an American latin beat in its arrangement. By choosing the swing style arrangement for this song, the Glee music producers cleverly were able to match it up easily with the also up tempo Annie song.

Mashing the songs up this way creates almost seamless ‘cuts’ between one song and the other. By keeping the songs mostly seperated (by using only 1 line of YNFD in the verses, and by inserting only little, but complete, parts of YNFD in TWYLT), plus the tempo similarities, this mash-up works really well.
Plus the arrangement is very playful and has variations in the harmonies that keep it interesting and uses all 3 voices in an excellent way, making them all shine individually and as duet partners. Well done, Glee music people! hapitgh


The harmonies :
TWYLT/YNFD gives us many little, delicious harmonies. We get Hummelberry, Kurtabelle, Rachelle (? I’m not that good in mashing up names), and even a bit of all 3 of them singing together! Be still, my heart.
All the harmonies aren’t in the original songs. I love it when the music producers of Glee get to change/mash-up songs and insert their own harmonies.
In this mash-up the harmonies are mostly made up of the ‘voices’ being thirds apart (the strongest harmony interval: when the melodies move closely side by side, like the tracks of a train), with some secundos and fourths. The 2nd voice is almost always singing higher than the lead melody: a little part where Kurt sings 2nd voice being the only exception.
What’s remarkable is that Kurt sings lead in the harmonies most of the time!

Here are all the harmonies, one by one (the harmonies are bolded and in red).


Isabelle:
Someday, when I'm awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you...
But you're never fully dressed without a smile!
(0.28) oh it's lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft,
There is nothing for me but to love you,
Kurt and Isabelle:
(0.45) But you're never fully dressed, without a smile.

This is a very simple unisolo (both voices singing the same lead melody at the same time). What’s a bit special about it is that both man and woman are singing in the same octave.
Normally the male singer would sing a unisolo one octave lower than the female singer. But this particular line is sung quite low in the female vocal range (the highest note is an A4flat) so that a medium to high male voice can sing it in that range too, and of course: this height is a piece of cake for a high tenor/countertenor like Chris. fanny2
-------------------------------------


Kurt:
(0.52) Who cares what they're wearing
From Main Street, to Saville Row
Rachel:
It's what you wear from ear to ear
Kurt and Rachel:
(1.02)And not from head to toe

Kurt sings the lead melody, while Rachel sings a higher 2nd voice (in mainly thirds and fourths). It’s simple, but effective.
Little detail: “And not from head to toe” is the only part in the original YNFD that has a slower tempo than the rest of the song (it’s being elongated for theatrical reasons), but in Glee they chose to put it in the up tempo of the rest of the mash-up. I don’t mind that because it keeps the song’s tempo without slowing it down, but it would have been fun to see Kurt (and Rachel) sing it in the same tongue-in-cheek ‘sexy’ prolonged way as in ‘Annie’. Smile
-------------------------------------


Isabelle:
(1.07) Lover... Never, never change
Kurt:
Keep that breathless charm
Rachel and Isabelle:
(1.16) Won't you please arrange it?
'Cause I love you


Isabelle sings lead voice, Rachel a higher 2nd voice. This is also a simple harmony in all thirds (intervals), but ending on a fifth interval.
-------------------------------------


Kurt:
(1.23) Remember,
Kurt, Rachel:
You're never fully dressed, without a smile!

Glee Wiki has listed that this harmony is sung by Kurt, Rachel and Isabelle, but I can only hear one woman singing along with Kurt, and my guess is that it’s Rachel. But I could be wrong in this, of course (but I don’t think so fanny2)
Again: mostly thirds, except for 2 notes, which are sung in unisolo (I underlined the notes sung in unisolo): “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.
Kurt is singing lead again, Rachel the higher 2nd voice. Rachel has to start singing on an F5 here, a very high note to start on, especially with a vowel as in “you’re”: that was not easy to do for Lea, I’m sure.
-------------------------------------

Kurt and Isabelle:
(1.30) Ba da ba ba da
Ba da ba ba da
Ba da ba ba da

Rachel:
(1.35) Bom, bom, ba
Kurt and Rachel:
You're never fully dressed, without a smile!

This little ‘improvisation’ was composed with using the chords of YNFD. The melody is not exactly like the verses of the original, but if you want you can sing it on top of the song. Kurt sings the 2nd voice, to Isabelle’s and later (after Rachel’s solo “Bom, bom, ba” ) to Rachel’s lead.
This is the only time in the mash-up that the 2nd voice is lower than the lead melody, and it’s because Kurt is singing the 2nd voice and he is singing a ‘normal’ harmony for a girl/boy duet. And frankly: that hasn’t happened on Glee yet. Considering the track record of the treatment of Kurt’s voice on this show, it’s quite telling how I think that this needs to be emphasized by me now.

This harmony is also different from the other harmonies in this mash-up because it is not made up of mostly thirds. This time it’s mostly sixths (with a few fifths). If you remember (?): sixths are the 2nd strongest harmony intervals after thirds.
The sixths provide a larger span between the (higher) lead melody and the lower 2nd voice. It creates a very beautiful soundmix between Chris and SJP (and their voices blend together very well!) and Chris/Lea (our beloved Hummelberry), as Chris gets to use his lower voice as a solid underlayer for the ladies’ clear middle-high register.
I love this. wub
-------------------------------------


Kurt:
(1.50) Lover
Kurt and Rachel:
Never, never change

Another solid thirds harmony: Kurt singing lead, Rachel the higher 2nd voice.
- BTW: I think that Kurt’s “Lover” is one of the sexiest words he has ever sung. blushh It’s right up there with “Ra ra ah ah ah, Roma roma ma” (and if you have to guess which song this is you are not a Kurtsie tonguue).
-------------------------------------


Isabelle:
(1.57) Keep that breathless charm
Kurt, Rachel and Isabelle:
(2.00)Won't you please arrange it? 'Cause I love you

Now I can clearly hear 3 voices: Kurt and Isabelle are singing the lead voice in unisolo (on the same octave again), while Rachel sings the higher 2nd voice in the lines “Won’t you please arrange it? ‘Cause I love you.”.
- Little detail: notice how Chris imitates Tim Gunn at this moment in the scene. Razz
-------------------------------------


The next harmonies deserve their own ‘doodle’. Here it is:
- Kurt is red.
- Isabelle is blue.
- Rachel is green.



Kurt, Rachel and Isabelle:
(2.05)But you're never fully dressed without a…

This line is sung in unisolo by all 3 singers, but then, on “…without a…” Rachel sings a higher 2nd voice again. After that comes the only time in the song when they sing a threefold harmony:
-------------------------------------


Isabelle:
(2.10) Smile
Kurt:
Smile
Rachel:
Smile

When you look at the diagram, you see that Isabelle sings the highest note, then Kurt chimes in with a lower note. Rachel then sings an almost dissonant note right under Isabelle’s note, which creates some tension. To release that tension a bit, Kurt changes his tone to a slightly lower tone that fits better in the chord they create together.
This new chord sort of begs for a solution (and you can hear that the song, even when they clearly sing the last line of the verse, is not finished yet), a solution which it gets in the next lines:
-------------------------------------


Isabelle:
(2.17) Just the
Kurt and Isabelle:
Way you look tonight!”

Again Glee Wiki has this part listed as all 3 of them singing, but this time I can only hear Kurt and Isabelle. After the 2 words “Just the…” that Isabelle sings solo, Kurt chimes in and Vogue boss and employee finish the song together.
But Kurt does not sing a 2nd voice here: he takes over the lead voice from Isabelle (after “Just the…”), while Isabelle jumps to the higher 2nd voice, in thirds again (also look at the diagram above).

- Little detail: the last note of the song Chris doesn’t really start on that last note: he starts on the note before (of “…tonight.”) and quickly jumps to the last note (“…tonight”), creating a little playful dip. This is done unintentional mostly, but it’s a nice touch, and shows that Chris has got the swing style of this song down pat.
- Oops: If you look at the scene you can see that Chris lipsynchs the “the” in “Just the way you look tonight” but he’s actually not singing that word on the track. Razz


Two more things about the harmonies : (and then I’ll stop, promise)
There are 2 things in the overall view of the harmonies I would like to point out in this review:

1) “You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” :
During the song ^this line is sung 5 times, and each time it’s different.
#1: solo by Isabelle,
#2: unisolo by Kurt and Isabelle,
#3: lead by Kurt, Rachel 2nd higher voice in thirds-2 notes unisolo-thirds again,
#4: lead by Rachel, Kurt 2nd lower voice in sixths: whole line is in a different key than the other lines.
#5: unisolo by all 3 singers, with fanning out to a chord effect in the end.
(#6: the line “Just the way you look tonight”, Kurt lead, Isabelle 2nd higher voice.

All these variations are very playfully done, and it reminds me a lot of the also playful way that ‘Let It Snow’ was arranged in all kinds of different harmonies on the same lines. Well done, music arrangers of Glee! neutre


2) The way the harmonies were divided :
I’ve made a little summary of the harmonies.
Names = K, I, R
Lead voice = 1
2nd voice higher = 2h
2nd voice lower = 2l

K-1_____I-1_____---
K-1_____---_____R-2h
---______I-1____R-2h
K-1_____---_____R-2h
K-2l____I-1_____---
K-2l____---______R-1
K-1_____---_____R-2h
K-1_____I-1_____R-2h
K-2_____I-1_____R-3 (this was just the one chord on “Smile”)
K-1_____I-2h____---

- Isabelle sang 6 harmony parts (but had the most of the solo lines), singing 2nd voice in only 1 of them (to Kurt’s lead), right at the very end.
- Rachel had 7 harmony parts, singing lead in only 1 of them (!), very unusual for Hummelberry (or Finchel, for that matter).
- Kurt was involved in 9 out of the 10 harmony parts, singing lead in 6 of them! The other 3 harmonies were the “Smile” notes and the harmonies in sixths when Rachel took over from Isabelle (the “Ba da da” part), so these last 2 kinda count as 1 harmony.

I love that Chris was the leading man in this song. So far, when singing with Rachel, Kurt sang a female part, and/or the 2nd voice to her lead (with 1 exception: see paragraph below). Same goes for the Klaine duets, btw. But this time Chris sings mostly lead in his harmonies, and the ladies accompany him.
One minor criticism about that: the music editors of the song made Kurt’s lead voice less prominent so that the ladies could shine a bit more. This happens more with Kurt on Glee (like in ‘Don’t Speak’, when Kurt and Finn were edited softer than Blaine and Rachel, even when they sang lead). This was most noticeable in the little lead part that Kurt had in the Hummelberry duet 'Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead' (at 1.15) which was edited as if Rachel sang the lead voice instead of Kurt. Something similar happens in TWYLT/YNFD.
But you know what: this time I don’t even mind, because the editing of this mash-up song stays well within a good balance. Kurt’s voice is still the basis and center of the harmony, and the total soundmix is warm and lovely. hapitgh


The ladies :
We already know that Lea is a very good singer. We also already know that Hummelberry make a good team together in song. What most of us didn’t know was how decent a singer Sarah Jessica Parker is. What none of us knew was how well SJP’s voice blends with Lea, but especially Chris!
When the mash-up came out on iTunes, we had no visual, and needed to detect who was singing what by just listening to the song. I read comments on several forums, and for a while it wasn’t clear to a lot of posters which parts were sung by Lea and which parts were sung by SJP. I would say that that is a big compliment for SJP. After all: she may have been on Broadway, but she is not as trained (nor still as regularly trained) as Lea Michele is. Her voice is not as vibrant and deep as Lea’s is, and age plays a factor here too, but SJP certainly was able to hold her own and do her part in TWYLT/YNFD. I think she has a nice breathy sound to her voice, but her voice is also firm and bright enough to not let the breathiness bother me, on contrary: it creates a pleasant timbre.

And, as mentioned, SJP blended so well with Chris, it felt like another Hummelberry. The 3 of them together was wonderful to hear, but I would certainly want more Vogue duets of Kurt and Isabelle alone!
What I liked a lot about Lea in this song is that she kept Rachel’s dramatic ‘howls’ to a minimum, and so she didn’t dominate her few lines, nor did it change the rather ‘simple/silly’ feeling of the mash-up. It stayed light and playful, as it should be. neutre


Kurt / Chris :
You can clearly hear that Chris had fun singing this song. Singing a mash-up of 2 musical theatre songs once again shows how well suited his voice is for the Broadway stage. His accentuations/emphasis and his vibrato are just wonderful! I know a lot of Kurtsies want Kurt to sing pop songs, and so do I (because I think he can sing pop very well too), but you can hear Chris’ love for showtunes in his singing, and the theatre nerd in me can never get enough of hearing him sing them. wub
(But I want him to sing Queen, Mika and Scissor Sisters too.)

This mash-up is made up of all the things Kurt loves: showtunes, haute couture and mingling with the girls. This is who he is. Therefore it is interesting to me that the way Chris sings this song is a peculiar mixture of the old ‘honorary girl’ Kurt and the new ‘mature New York’ Kurt.
Chris sings almost everything (if not all of it: it’s getting very hard to tell) in this song in his low register, but his voice does not sound like ‘Blackbird’ or ‘4 Minutes’, not even like his latest Broadway song ‘Not The Boy Next Door’.
What is remarkable is, that although Chris mostly sings in his low register, and his role in the mash-up is clearly the male lead, he mixes a falsetto kind of timbre in his voice. It’s not voix mixte (trying to sound like he’s singing in high register when he’s singing in low register, like in DCFMA), but there is this vibrant crystal sound, that sounds playful and frivolous. It is as if he tries to blend in with the girls, but without trying to immitate a ‘girly’ sound.

Mind this: even Chris’ falsetto does not sound ‘girly’ at any time (nor ever has, imo): there is still a clear male timbre in it. But with the use of this lighter timbre in his low voice Chris blends in very well with the female voices, without sounding out of place as a ‘normal’ male voice would (like eg. Darren sounded out of place in ‘My Favorite Things’). And at the same time this lighter timbre does not make Chris lose the depth in his voice needed to support the girls, and needed to broaden the soundmix. Somehow he finds the exact right balance needed to pull this off.
To be fair: I don’t think that Chris thinks these things through (not the way I over-analyze it, anyway Smile), and the music producers deserve a lot of the credit for arranging, mixing and editing to create this soundmix (they really have figured Chris’ voice out now). But I’ve noticed before that Chris can adapt his voice to the style of song he’s singing, to his partners he’s singing with, to the emotions the song is supposed to convey,…. whether the song’s style is showtunes or pop. Chris can put himself in full service of the song he’s singing, and he can do that without losing a sliver of his (or Kurt’s) identity. That’s why his songs are so powerful and meaningful, imo.
Part of that adaptability is done subconsciously/instinctively, part of it is the care Chris puts in his craftmanship as an actor, and part of it is sheer gifted talent. wub


Last remark :
The way Chris sang TWYLT/YNFD is a perfect mix of who Kurt is: a gay guy with effeminate traits, but also with masculine traits. And they all can work in his favor, instead of being used against him, as has happened so often before. Kurt can be the leading man without sacrificing who he is: something he struggled with, or better said, his environment made him struggle with, while growing up. But now that he’s grown up all new possibilities and doors open up for him, and the traits that were once considerated as his weaknesses (by others, not Kurt) turn out to be his strengths.
Kurt was right in ‘Wheels’: “Being different made me stronger. At the end of the day, it’s what’s gonna get me out of this cow town.”

New York and his success at Vogue will change Kurt. It already has changed Kurt, although I prefer to think of it not as change, but as finally finding himself. His first win in a long time, and being free from the cow town shackles of Lima, brought out the self-confident young man (the self-confidence that his peers and teachers tried, and almost succeeded, to rob from him in high school) we knew Kurt would become if they just let him.
Now that would be a great new angle for Kurt’s 2nd audition.
We will probably not see this on Glee (and if we will it will be purely accidental, or all shown to us by Chris himself because of his knowledge of Kurt and his magnificent acting-through-song ability), but if Glee would elaborate on this, if they would use this new-found self-confidence for Kurt’s next NYADA audition, there will be something more for Kurt to offer Carmen after already nailing his first audition.
If they would show that being a leading man, able to pass for straight or not, is not about whether someone has toothpick arms or a certain masculine/effeminate demeanour,…. but that it is all about confidence, boldness, determination, smartness, chivalry and empathy: and those are all trademarks that Kurt has in spades. wub

(all gifs are from CCN)

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Adamina on 10/24/2012, 10:45 pm

I love this wub TWYLT/NFDWAS might be my favorite Kurt non-solo.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

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