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.
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.