I’m back! I sat down to read through the internet from my lovely home office (otherwise known as my room) and this is the first thing I came across:
Aaaaaaaand Simon Cowell’s a dick.
The shy boy is one of the rarer voice types called a heldentenor, which literally translates to “heroic tenor.” I think I’ve met two in my entire life. Meat Loaf was a heldentenor. They tend to have very dark, full voices with a range that goes all over the map. They’re like powerful baritones with a top: capable of singing low notes without losing their power and richness as well as singing their high notes with a power that makes every lyric tenor jealous.
They almost always develop later than other voices. So where a male can generally start performing in chorus work professionally (this is opera we’re talking about) at age 30, a heldentenor may need to hold off until 35 or so. While their voices are huge, they can have problems with control when they’re young. What’s more, you don’t want to ruin the voice at a young age by singing the type of repertoire demanded of heldentenors when the voice is too young to handle it – even if their technique is good.
However, this boy seems to have developed pretty early. He still has some warble issues (where he chokes the sound back to his throat rather than letting it resonate), but not much. And holy god…no 17 year-old should be able to mix a high B-flat like that at the end, especially when he’s so nervous the mic is shaking like it’s an earthquake. Singing, especially in your higher range, actually requires a lot of relaxation (from the naval up). Being tense can really kill your sound but despite his nervousness he still had his top. I’d love to hear what he sounds like in the shower when he thinks nobody is looking.
I’m a big fan of the axiom that there’s no such thing as a “natural voice”. Sure, you’re relegated to your own voice type, but every voice is unique and anybody who can speak can also learn to sing. And for the people who sing well with little or no training, it’s not that they’re physically superior, it’s that they guessed right on technique more than the next person. Previously, I had encountered two exceptions to the rule about no natural singers: Meat Loaf, a heldentenor who destroyed his voice by singing with shoddy technique (which is a damn shame because he had a phenomenal instrument), and David Phelps, who can do things in his tessitura that no human being should be able to do.
This young boy may very well be the third exception. Good on him.