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Viva Voce: Of Beauty In Baritone


It is a known fact that a man with a deep voice will make a long lasting (lusting) impression with the ladies.

While scientists and psychologists continue to conduct studies and statistics about this, I’ve had my own share of experiences that led to the same conclusion. Once, when I developed a slight cold and a sore throat, I noticed that many of my female friends wanted to extend all our telephonic conversations, despite knowing that I didn’t feel like talking. When I met a couple others during a poetry recital, they insisted that I read one of their poems out aloud. Flattered and caught completely unawares, I obliged. However, the day I recovered, all the females that used to flock around had vanished like a fart in thin air. It was then that I realized that the sudden increase in attention these fair-weather females showered upon me was simply because I sounded better while being hoarse. Conclusion number two: women are shallow, and more so than I thought.
Nonetheless, throughout the previous century and in our own, it is a common sight to see women practically melt when they hear a rich baritone, most commonly in an actor or a singer. Men have tried to take advantage of the situation by playing ‘moody’ music while trying to woo their distracted damsels. Many a people have been ‘inspired’ (to perspire) while listening to Bing Crosby and Tom Jones. Barry Manilow isn’t called ‘The Walrus of Love’ without a reason. Rock n’ Roll vocalists such as Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison have their own female fan following, for more or less the same reasons. But that was then. While the music industry has evolved and devolved over the decades, certain core concepts stand firm. To stand the test of time, any band, regardless of its musical and technical prowess, must possess a good lead vocalist. For that reason, I have devised a short list of what I consider some of the most underrated contemporary male singers out there.

#10:  Nick Hexum (311): ‘Love Song’ 

The band 311 is known for fusing various genres of music such as jazz, funk, reggae and metal even, while churning out more generally accessible (aka pop) tunes. This particular song, featured as a part of the OST for 50 First Dates, is actually their cover of The Cure’s original from 1989. Though Hexum doesn’t display any particularly complicated techniques, it is precisely the simplicity of his singing that blends perfectly with the mellow reggae riffs and deep bass lines. Neither the vocals nor the backing music would create the same atmosphere entirely on their own. Guys, you might want to note this one down, if ever in the need to make a mix-tape (CD? Flash-Drive?).
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#9: Joe Strummer: ‘Minstrel Boy’

A part of Hans Zimmer’s score for Blackhawk Down, this song is a quintessential military classic, with its drumrolls and bagpipes. However, it is Strummer’s singing that is the highlight, with his honing and humming, the rich tapestry of vocals where the lyrics in the foreground are echoed by deep baritone, which continues over the choir’s chorus. As the music gets more chaotic towards the end, with screams and wireless communication audible in the background, one can actually imagine the conflicting thoughts in a soldier’s mind as he comes face to face with the harsh realities of war, yet the lucid vocals resonate the calm exterior with which he continues to march forward.
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 #8:Denez Prigent / Lisa Gerrard: ‘Gortoz a
Ran (J’Attends)‘ 

Yet another hallmark of Hans Zimmer’s excellent taste, choosing Breton singer Denez Prigent to evoke the misery behind waiting in vain and the sensation of betrayal within the movie Blackhawk Down continues to move the listener, despite repeated hearing. Despite not being able to understand a single word of Prigent’s native language, one is able to feel the full extent of the dark, mournful mood manifested by his singing. Do not be ashamed if this brings a tear or three to your eyes. It is supposed to.

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#7: Ville Valo (HIM): ‘Its all tears’

Finnish ‘love-metal’ band HIM (His Infernal Majesty) would never have reached the popularity it enjoys (maybe not much beyond the cold confines of Scandinavia) without Valo’s vocal wonders. Though this particular song is an acoustic version of their more metallic original, it helps one focus primarily on Valo’s full range of vocal capabilities, as he alternates his pitch as smoothly as suede on marble.

[youtube_video id=texQUDbwUqE]

#6: Fazli Teoman Yakupoglu: ‘Sevdim Seni Birkere’

Better known as just Teoman, this Turkish singer/songwriter is known for writing simple songs that are straight from the heart. Once again, though lost in translation, one can still experience the sincere intimacy that he emotes through his crooning; it is almost as if his weariness transcends itself through his music as his voice gets huskier towards the end of each verse. Now you all might think that I’m becoming more and more emo as I descend down my list, but hey, there is infinite beauty in sadness, and not all voices can do justice to evoke the same emotions.
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Check back in tomorrow for the top 5. Muhahhahaha, we are diabolical no? 

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