Chances are that, by now, you’ve heard Violet Hill, the new single by Coldplay. If not, you can still register for a free download of the track on the band’s website.
I’m not going to critique the song here – though I will say that, for some reason, it sounds vaguely like a sea shanty to me – but when I listened to Violet Hill, what did strike me – and not in a good way – was the quality of Chris Martin’s voice.
OK, he’s never been the greatest singer, but in Coldplay’s early days, he was at least capable of using his limited range to evoke something approaching poignancy. When I hear him now, though, I worry that, even on record, he’s going to miss notes that he should be hitting with ease.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve had cause for concern. I remember wincing through Coldplay’s performance at the 2006 Brit Awards, as Martin grappled gamely but clumsily with the falsetto sections of Square One.
Liam Gallagher is another one who seems to be struggling. There’s an interesting video comparison that shows him performing Morning Glory in 1995 and 2007, and the contrast is stark. He’s still got the attitude and the sunglasses, but the voice is, if not gone, possibly in the departure lounge.
It’s a well-known fact that your voice changes with age, but perhaps the two cases above demonstrate that relentless gigging and recording can take their toll. I’m sure that Chris Martin and Liam Gallagher run through the appropriate warm-up exercises (actually, make that ‘I’m sure Chris Martin runs through the appropriate warm-up exercises’) but still the quality of their vocal performances seems to be deteriorating.
If you’re a singer, my advice is to take care of your voice as much as you can. It’s not very rock ‘n’ roll, but working on your technique will help in both the short- and long-term, and doing simple things such as drinking plenty of water can also help. Needless to say, smoking and drinking to excess will do more harm than good.
Alternatively, you could just take the easy option and invest in a copy of Auto-Tune.
By Ben Rogerson