Meat Loaf can’t sing anymore.

Listen up all you aspiring singers.  Do you want to know why you learn technique when you’re young and don’t test your high notes until you’re older?  Let me tell you a story about a guy named Marvin Lee Aday, otherwise known as Meat Loaf.

Meat Loaf is what we call a Heldentenor (which translates to “heroic tenor”).  They are a fairly rare voice type that tends to develop fairly late in life (their top generally becomes accessible around 30).  Their voices are powerful with a high top.  The challenge for this voice type is that learning to control it takes time and training.

Your vocal chords are an interesting part of your body.  They grow throughout your life.  When you are young they are small and frail.  They become thicker as you grow older.  This is why you don’t see many young people singing Wagner: they physically cannot handle it.  And even if a young singer can get through that type of song, they are almost certainly doing damage to their voice in the process.  While we may one day be able to fix vocal scarring, right now we cannot.  If you fuck up your voice when you’re young trying to sing music for which you aren’t ready, that’s the end of it.

Meat Loaf had a spectacular natural voice.  When he was young, even though his technique was weak, he could sing all over the map.  This is would made him appealing to Wagnerian rock composer Jim Steinman.  Not many people could sing the type of music he wrote.

When he was young, Meat put a lot of strain on his voice by throatily singing high notes.

It sounded good then.  It was powerful and he had a range that was just insane.  But slightly after the Bat Out of Hell album, Meat’s first, it became clear that his golden voice was fading.  The follow up to BOoH was sung and released by Steinman because Meat couldn’t hit the high notes.

Over the years, because Meat relied on his naturally huge voice rather than learning solid technique, his voice began to show signs of wear.  When he wasn’t in a studio with fifty shots at squeaking out a C#, this was obvious.

Just a few days ago, here he was “helping” to sing America the Beautiful.

He has no control over his voice, and it’s clear how much his technique sucks.

Good singing is relaxed and easy.  It should strain the voice no more than speaking.  Learn to sing with technique so that you not only sound better and more powerful, but so you can continue to sing well your entire life.  I know it’s tempting when you’re young to try and sing all the “big” songs, but have patience so you can sing them for all your years, rather than for just a few.

On a personal note, Meat Loaf is an asshole.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Next can you a give a scientific explanation for why Clint Eastwood is shouting at chairs too? I assumed both these meltdowns were the Flying Spaghetti Monster using his noodly appendage to fuck with the Romney campaign.

    • Daniel Fincke

      (that should be debating chairs, not shouting at them. damn no edit button)

  • Eileen Cano

    I have to agree with you 100% on this. Meat sounded bad. Really really bad. And it’s also the reason I could barely eek out an A when I was in my teens/early 20s, and now I can hit a D. You’re spot on.
    Also, Meatloaf was always pushing, he pushed his chords so much he probably scarred them horribly.

  • HP

    So, JT, if I ran into you at a conference again, could you give me another third at the top of my range? Right now, I can usually pop out a strong D or Eb, but only at the expense of coughing and needing something to drink afterwards. I’d love a reliable F or G. NB: I’m well over thirty, and didn’t start singing in public until I was about 35, and then as a baritone.

  • Nate Frein

    I wonder if Meat Loaf’s attitude towards his voice has any correlation to his standing as a Republican. The whole “profit off it now, and to hell with the future” mentality that seems to inform Republican economic and ecological policy seems to be the same attitude that Meat Loaf took with his own voice.

    • Liberated Liberal

      Great point, actually!

  • Richard Seese

    Completely agree… Meat Loaf had one of those voices, that when one of his songs came on, you either thought of a crazy time in your past, or you were doing something stupid in the present… At least that’s been the pattern for me : )

  • Stephanie Zvan

    Ah, Jim Steinman. Part of what gave Streets of Fire one of the two best soundtracks from the 80s. There, however, he hired professionals who knew (presumably) how to take care of their voices.

  • Dylan Walker

    I had already lost all respect for him when he did an episode of Ghost Hunters.

  • Nothing

    Hey JT, you’re being a professional and all. Do you think it’s possible to sing like Jon Chang or Seth Putnam and not strain your voice, ever? I think this type of singing is the best there is, but it looks dangerous.

  • Scott

    One of the best performances that I’ve ever witnessed was Meat Loaf’s show at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus in June of 1988. I’ve seen him nearly a dozen times since at venues across the country and been disappointed each time. Now, whenever I see that he’s touring, instead of traveling and buying a ticket to the show, I listen to my battered copy of Bat Out of Hell in its entirety and remember him for what he was in the 70′s.

  • Christina M

    Yeah, a singing post! I’ve missed these. Any plans to continue with the music theory posts? Those were awesome and educational.

  • Cunning Pam

    I can’t listen to Meat anymore, because it just breaks my heart. I saw him live at a small venue in 1978 (senior year in high school!) and Bat Out of Hell has been in my music rotation heavily ever since then. His voice was amazing when he was young, but just as you describe, he trashed it. I prefer to listen to how it was, although I’m not normally the nostalgic type.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    “Good singing is relaxed and easy. It should strain the voice no more than speaking.”

    I finally grasped this about two months ago. I was singing way below my range, it was always tense and forced and felt exhausting. I didn’t enjoy it, but I wanted to be able to make music with my voice as well as my hands.

    Now that this finally clicked, I’m able to start learning a little technique. Also, I sang in public for the first time this last weekend! And was actually not terrible for the first time in my life!

  • Ryan G

    OK, those videos were probably the most terrifying thing I’ll see this halloween. I’m no performer but I’m an enthusiastic shower singer, especially with difficult material from Meat Loaf to Opera to King Diamond. I had no idea how much damage I might have done tackling that stuff.

    Are there any reliable online resourses for this sort of thing, or is it something that really requires lessons?

  • Drakk

    So, what do I have to do to my vocal chords to make myself sound like Sovereign

  • jd

    check out when he got paid a very large sum to sing at the Australian football grand final

    My favourite part is at 7.15 when the blonde violinist in his band gives a shake of her head at his squeakings. brilliant :)
    there was a fair bit of backlash about how bad he was, Meat blamed it on the venue, the sound levels, the organisers etc etc. haha

  • John

    If you give a google of what has happened to him in the last couple year you will see he has had problems with his chords also. He had a cyst removed from his chords in 2007. Early this year, he had a vein on his chord that almost hemoraged, and they were swollen and for 2 months he had no voice at all. He really needs to do better for himself.
    On a personal note..meat is a very sweet and nice person. You should look into the things he does for charities and good causes. Just because he has a differing political opinion it seems the far left has zero tolerance, and for a group of people who always preach tolerance and acceptance…many are the most intolerant people I have met. Personally I am middle of the road, and we are a dying breed sadly.

    • Nate Frein

      Doesn’t really matter how sweet and nice someone is. If they’re supporting someone who is trying to legislate bigotry, I have a problem with them.

      • John

        Sorry..half the country just isn’t super progressive like you apparently. I see both sides of the argument. You can’t expect the society to change overnight when for thousands of years religion and other societal guides have been teaching otherwise. It is changing slowly. Patience. You have the kids in the schools, and teachers are engraining them with the value systems you expect. The best way is to get them young, and program early. You have to have some understanding and tolerance for people. That’s the thing about the far left that really bothers me. Same with the far right. You people just like to throw bombs, hate and cause outrage over very exaggerated claims about each other (Hello MSNBC and FOX!!) instead of having a little compassion for people’s varying backgrounds and value systems. We live in a diverse and changing country. You immediately throw terms at each other like bigot, racist, elitist etc…

        • Nate Frein

          Oh get over yourself. Seriously.

          I am not yelling and screaming that Meat Loaf is a horrible person.

          I think he’s a horrible singer who might have had a nice voice but ruined it and never had skill. I think he’s an idiot for saying someone like Romney of all people has a “backbone” while Romney is playing ideological hagfish and seeing how many contradictory positions he can twist himself into.

          And no, I don’t really care what he’s donated to because he’s also donating to the asshole who didn’t want me to marry the man I loved.

          So, seriously. Get off your high horse before oxygen deprivation kicks in.

          • Toma Eduard Victor

            That’s probably because fags shouldn’t marry, since it serves zero purpose. If I cum in my wife’s ass, we sure as fuck aren’t going to start a family…

  • John

    His studio stuff is still pretty good though, because they can fix it..I just won’t see his shows anymore.

  • Concert_Fan11

    Live, Meat still puts on a good show, but yeh, his voice is a train wreck. He pushes and yells and screams more than either of the two AC/DC frontmen combined. I’d imagine that after each show, he has no voice left at all. He’s pushing 60 now. Not sure how much more abuse his voice can take. That said, his studio work has still been pretty superb.

  • Meat Loaf

    I think he should visit my site

    • Anonymous

      Meat..we at O2 on Weds,row 3..3rd time we seen you..thought you looked and sung with difficultly..worried about you,where your head is..the start ,when im it went on a fan..i saw a big man fighting adversity to say goodbye to his fans..but dont let them/you do yourself in over know live once man..and youve lived it all ends..enjoy whats left for a 100 years ..if we here..yours n Jims music will still be here..on vintage it is now :-).. Keep well big fella

  • Scot concert-goer

    Just been to see meatloaf in Glasgow and shocked by not only his breathless , shuffling performance but his screaming vocals . If it hasn’t been for the instrumentals we wouldn’t have had a clue what he was supposed to be singing . Loads of the audience left early and it was painfully embarrassing to sit through . I wish I had just popped on the CD instead and left my memories intact .

  • Rain

    It’s weird because everyone else seems to think they are amazing, but whenever I hear an old meatloaf song, I can’t wait for the damn thing to get over with. Now I know it’s all Jim Steinman’a fault.