Why does the Australian accent sound terrible when singing?

MrPurple

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108
I was under the impression that the brain bits were used differently in singing vs speech.

Accents and whatnot might pull or push you a bit one way or the other but when you sing “AND IIIIII…. Will always love you uuu” your brain aims for a kind of idealized Xerox of what you consider the standard of that sung part…Your own voice and limitations taken into account (conscious or perhaps unconscious rehearsal).

Conversational skills require, and put the emphasis elsewhere and you end up with a less adorned presentation in your more natural speech patterns and so forth.
Almost like muscle memory vs conscious effort.

I’m pretty sure that’s all in a book called “This Is Your Brain On Music” from a while back by a Montreal neurologist. ( a very interesting and accessible read )

Some artists would obviously have a more conversational approach…with the apex of that, perhaps, being rap…so more accent & regionality.

Aren’t stutterers taught to sing a little bit more and talk a bit less?
 

Walter Boots

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1,677
You must really dislike Damian from the Rifles and the guy in the Chats.:p

I love a lot of Australian rock music,the accent is interesting to me,But I am outside NYC and have a stereotypical New Yawk nasal whine,so anythings better than how I sound.
 

TonyR

Member
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3
I'm wanting to be a little more unique, sing more "like myself", etc etc yada yada - so I sang a few songs in my own accent.
They sound atrocious.
:
There's artists like Ben Lee, Missy Higgins, Kisschasy, The Smith Street Band etc.. don't get me wrong, I like the music - I love the last two there big time, BUT, are the VOCALS actually nice to listen to?
Thanks for opening the subject - a good topic. I'm an Aussie too, and I generally sing (and speak) with a slightly internationalized accent, like many other Aussies, and countless artists from the Beatles onwards. I enjoy listening to all of them (including Ben Lee et al).

There are many variations of "the Aussie accent", so (for example) while in NZ, USA, UK etc I have never had a problem understanding or being understood by locals, while my ex-wife often had difficulty both ways, even though we could not really pick any big difference between our "accents".

I sometimes find I need to go the other way - to exaggerate the accent, especially when singing around ANZAC day or Australia Day; the "walk" and "moon" vowel sounds seem to be important elements.

So I have no issue at all with your recordings, or with others that have far more Aussie "twang". IMHO there's no need for cultural cringe.
 

Pantalooj

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3,607
Interesting question!

Made me think of one of my all time favourite singers who managed to break the mould ... Ian Dury.

There have been singers using a cockney English accent in other genres, including the one that Ian Dury was first associated with, which was Punk. But along with the Blockheads, he quite quickly morphed into something much more like British funk ... but with the same vocal style. His post Punk career and works ended up far bigger. I would personally recommend a listen to "Do it Yourself" for a great example of a vocal style and accent that, arguably, shouldn't have worked ... I can't think of anyone before or since Ian Dury who did that so well and so convincingly.

Back to the Aussie accent ... maybe it just needs the right style of music and a path to socialize that to make it work.
 

Spider Mark

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2,500
Olivia Neutron Bomb moved here at 6, didn’t want to accept the prize in a talent contest to travel to England, opened Koala Blue etc., FWIW.

And apparently told the filthiest jokes imaginable on set for Grease.

But her Aussieness or Englishness got her in trouble with the Country community – some dang foreigner singing Country? – when she won the CMA award in 1974. Dolly Parton’s sister was one of her main supporters.

Bon Scott’s phrasing and nasal tone are clearly Australian, especially in comparison to Brian (who doesn’t sing with his own Geordie accent).

Lyrics such as “I’m dirty, mean and mighty unclean” came straight from a TV commercial for Mortein insecticide (Louie the Fly).

Why on Earth we’d want to claim the Bee Gees beats me.

Gerry didn’t exactly sound Scouse when singing “Ferry Cross The Mersey”.

But I can understand being a bit self-conscious of one’s voice.
 

Cpt Adama

Member
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17
I'm wanting to be a little more unique, sing more "like myself", etc etc yada yada - so I sang a few songs in my own accent.
They sound atrocious.

Here's one - Kryptonite from 3 Doors Down:


And for a slower, more intimate, terrible vocal performance, here's Right Here Waiting - Richard Marx:



It's not just me though.

Not many (none?) Australian singers that actually sing in our own accent actually sound GOOD.
We have to sing in almost some kinda of neutral-American-ish accent to sound any good.

There's artists like Ben Lee, Missy Higgins, Kisschasy, The Smith Street Band etc.. don't get me wrong, I like the music - I love the last two there big time, BUT, are the VOCALS actually nice to listen to?

Not so sure.
To me, it's so abrasive it's almost jarring.

Is it just because it's not a sound that's usually heard? Do we just pronounce things in ways that sound bad when sung?

Singing 100% in my own accent is so easy on the vocals, it would be nice to do it and not sound terrible.

Anyone else here find their own accent just bad when singing?

EDIT:

Lower register, basically just speaking version of "Yellow" from Coldplay.
Less jarring in the lower register.

I don’t know then how Australian singers of The Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, and AC/DC (Bon Scott) went on to sell millions of records. Seriously your accent has nothing to do with how good your voice is. Barry Gib has got one of the best voices around.
 

Turi

Member
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11,048
Sounds totally fine to me. Much preferable to hearing a fake accent as well.

Same here, usually.

Tell it to Barry and the boys. Barry Gibb has more certified gold awards than the Beatles, or so I remember reading not long ago.



Olivia gets physical ;]


Early AC/DC ;] These guys kick some serious butt.



Midnight Oil



Police, I'll leave it here, this - to this day - says most bands right where they stand/sit, whatever.

The other poster already went through these I just wanted to point out that he'd bang-on the money.

Barry Gibb, Olivia and Bon Scott don't sing in their Australian speaking voice. They sing in basically the same "internationalised" voice that acts like Mark Seymour and Michael Hutchence sing in.

Nothing wrong with that at all - they do it for a reason (it sounds better).
But they're not examples of an Australian singing in their own accent.
It's like they have a "speaking voice" and a "singing voice" and the singing voice tries to be less-Australian, removed from the way they speak.

As far as I'm aware, there's actually no massively internationally-successful Australian acts that sing in their 'real' accent. Midnight Oil might be one of the only ones I can think of but I'm not sure how massive they really were overseas.

I don't know why you brought up The Police :p

Midnight Oil is a great example of an Australian that DOES sing in their own accent - and how drastically different is it compared to the Gibbs, Olivia, Bon Scott, Mark Seymour and Michael Hutchence?
It's worlds away.
It also isn't anywhere near as pleasing to listen to.

one of the most interesting posts on TGP for a long while -- there is still hope for TGP ;-)


I did not mind that at all, I am a Canadian from Ottawa.

I actually liked them, different, but good

the length of vowels may differ from one accent to another, vowels transition sound from one consonant to another and create syllables

for example the way you said moon in Kryptonite sounded different, to me, in length of the vowel, than I am used to, the same with the word ground

again, I don't think it was bad, it was different. I liked it. I can listen to it again

the Right Here Waiting recording was beautiful, I loved it. IMO, you made it your own, near the end I felt your voice went off key in spots, and clashed a bit with the accompanying music, but I may be wrong and apologize if I am

I am just curious what it would do if you tried to hold the vowels as long as the original song that you are singing

just a thought

Vocals most definitely went off-key, I haven't 'practiced' singing in my own speaking voice, because much like 99.99% of other Australian acts, I've always rounded things off and sung in ways that were less abrasive, and therefore, less Australian (imo).

So that's the way my voice has been worked over however many years.
But, singing in my own accent, despite much less practice, feels way more comfortable and I seem to have more range both on the high end and the low end when singing "like myself", including in my own accent/speaking voice.

But tonally, it's a complete cringe-factory.

If I held the notes, it would sound the same but the listener's pain would be prolonged.

Who says Australian accents sound bad when singing:



He's singing in a faux-British accent - influenced by Pink Floyd etc.
That's not singing in his ordinary speaking-voice-accent.

There's that bloke who's married to Nicole Kidman.

He seems to do okay playing and singing country.

Keith Urban doesn't sing in his own Australian accent, he's a comically obvious example of someone putting on a fake accent for their music.

Not dissing him! I dig a lot of his stuff and think he's great. Fantastic guitarist too (underrated! The dude can absolutely wreck!).

Just saying - he's most definitely not singing in his own Australian accent. Not even close.
He's as far removed from that idea as it gets - compare him to Ben Lee or Peter Garrett.

Wow.
This thread needs to edumakate itself.

Try a little Toehider... Michael Mills is insanely good.




Love the Aussie accent... then again, I had Blue Heelers.
Had to learn to speak proper Bogan so they'd listen to me.

This doesn't sound like he's singing in an Australian accent to me, much closer to a British one, ala The Darkness.

Sounds great though - thanks for the rec. I'll be checking out more of his stuff.
Absolutely effortless head voice.

Not an example of an Australian singing in their 'real' accent, but great stuff nonetheless.
Compare him to Peter Garrett or Ben Lee or Missy Higgins though.. you'll see what I mean.

I prefer people to sing in their own accent.

Same here, typically.

Well I think your vocal in the first one is fine and accent is fine- the word moon comes out funky [to an american ear] but even if you didnt change that it wouldnt be a big deal. as for the marx song , well thats just hard to do and I cant sing everything either. some things just dont work for me. there are certain english words I hear that drive me nuts but most are fine and thats just me anyway I'm a pronounciation nut so... I'm a big believer in just doing songs the best you can and leave the perfect imitation to whomever can mimic voices. ITS IMHO about the feeling you are delivering to the audience. I may have to change a key to do something better but its better than mauling it in the right key. people will not care about the key change- in most cases.

The word "moon" sounds funky specifically for the reason that I'm singing it in my own Australian accent.
That's how we pronounce it! The "oo" is pronounced clearly, and that sounds quite abrasive compared to other accents, ie various American ones, that round it off and add an almost "w" sound into it to close the word off.

That's exactly what I'm talking about with the abrasiveness/jarring thing.

You must really dislike Damian from the Rifles and the guy in the Chats.:p

I love a lot of Australian rock music,the accent is interesting to me,But I am outside NYC and have a stereotypical New Yawk nasal whine,so anythings better than how I sound.

Yeah, that was atrocious.

Interesting question!

Made me think of one of my all time favourite singers who managed to break the mould ... Ian Dury.

There have been singers using a cockney English accent in other genres, including the one that Ian Dury was first associated with, which was Punk. But along with the Blockheads, he quite quickly morphed into something much more like British funk ... but with the same vocal style. His post Punk career and works ended up far bigger. I would personally recommend a listen to "Do it Yourself" for a great example of a vocal style and accent that, arguably, shouldn't have worked ... I can't think of anyone before or since Ian Dury who did that so well and so convincingly.

Back to the Aussie accent ... maybe it just needs the right style of music and a path to socialize that to make it work.

People singing in their own accent can make it work - but it can drastically limit what "sounds good" from them. Finding the right style of music to fit basically means you've got to be stuck in a box to "sound good".

Whereas anyone can just sing in a more "neutral" accent and get away with much more, because it pretty much always sounds better (at least from Australians).

I've never been into the British punk vocals. I'll still check out some Ian Dury anyway and see what you're talking about with morphing into British funk etc.

I don’t know then how Australian singers of The Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, and AC/DC (Bon Scott) went on to sell millions of records. Seriously your accent has nothing to do with how good your voice is. Barry Gib has got one of the best voices around.

None of these acts sing in an Australian accent.

By bringing up these acts that are absolutely not singing in their real Australian accent, I feel my point is actually being proven to be more and more true.

The Australian acts everyone mentions, are ones that have drastically reduced how Australian they sound when they sing.
ONJ doesn't and hasn't sounded Australian forever, though, even when speaking.
 

Turi

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11,048
The Gibb brothers were British, and while they first found success in Australia, they already existed as a band in England prior to their move to Australia. No Aussie accents at all, spoken or singing.

She was born in England, spent her late childhood and adolescence in Australia, but beyond some local radio shows, really kicked off her career in England, recording for Decca. After her first career successes, Eurovision etc., she moved to the U.S. in the ‘70s. No Aussie accent singing, and nearly none speaking (especially over the past four decades).

Bon Scott seemed to have adopted some Australian speech patterns, but his accent when speaking still leaned heavily on his Scottish childhood, and the subsequent reinforcement (through familial proximity) after emigrating. I wouldn’t characterize his singing voice as notably Australian.

This one, is a great example…of what the OP doesn’t care for about Australian accents.

The Police probably toured Australia, but two Brits and an American. No Aussie accents.

Yeah, you get what I'm saying!
 

Turi

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11,048
Nothing to add other than I like your Aussie-accent singing voice. Sounds cool.

I know it's all subjective, but it's so hard for me to not just be like "wrong".

Maybe I should just embrace it, use it more, and hopefully cringe less when I hear my own and other Australians singing in their own voice and accent.
 

Turi

Member
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11,048
Stones always sounded American in song?

Yeah, this is easily forgiven as Jagger has a unique voice regardless of the accent he sings in, and he straight up gets a free pass from me because he was part of a group of acts that were bringing American rock'n'roll back from the dead.

That's something I'm massively grateful for.
A lot of British acts - The Beatles included - were doing a pseudo-American accent when singing because A) it's how the songs they were covering were sung and B) it sells more to Americans.

All the British acts from back then just get a straight up free pass from me, the end result outweighs any authenticity issues one might have regarding how "true" their accent was.
 

rodeodee

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1,044
With singing, do what comes naturally. The voice has to built. The more you do it, the better it gets. The accent will take care of itself. We respond to songs and singers for all sorts of random reasons. Find your voice through just consitently working at it. I wouldn't think much about how australian or not it is. Just find your path and keep going. Forced or over exaggerated sounds are hard to listen to. But there's plenty of Aussie singer that sound great with varying amounts of Aussie accent. But it's not the most important thing to focus on.
 
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1,550
Self loathing?

Rock vocals are obviously a bit narrow for mainstream tastes as it is, English only and please sound American with some notable Irish/Scottish exceptions. Maybe a couple Scandinavian countries for black metal. French, some Emo or rap from North Africa, far from mainstream. Italian and Spanish not so much. Greek, Arab, Turkish, Russian, mostly limited to home countries if they exist at all.
 

* velcro-fly *

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3,201
None of these acts sing in an Australian accent.
Amy Taylor aka Amyl from Amyl and The Sniffers brings the Aussie 100%....they're selling out nearly every venue on their current US Tour. She's unapologetically Aussie AF.... punk AF to boot, which may not be your cup of tea, but its undeniable .....

Embrace your voice and be the fair dinkum Aussie that you are!
 




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