Why Can’t Rihanna Sing Her Own Songs?

I love me some RiRi, but I’m sorry — the bitch can’t sing live, and no amount of reverb can cover it up! In the last week I’ve see her perform that red hot single “Only Girl (In the World)” on Saturday Night Live and at the European Music Awards. Both times, her red headed ass was flat, missing practically every note in the song. And there are only like four notes MAX in the whole thing!!

Why can’t Rihanna sing her own #1 single?

A lot of pop singers became icons without a single shred of vocal talent. But some pop singers get in a lot of trouble when they’re outed for lip-synching (Ashlee Simpson) or for singing off key (Taylor Swift). We’re like, “Even I could sing like that!” And what does everybody say after Taylor Swift has performed live on some show? “Wow, is she tone deaf or what!”

There’s nothing wrong with being off key every once in a while. Maybe the mic is effed up, or maybe you had sinus infection. But the show must go on – that’s the name of the game – and so sing you must. We are unforgiving of singers who can’t sing because it totally bulldozes the fantasy of pop stars as mythical unicorns sent down from the heavens. When we see them live and they sound awful, we’re like: ummm, somebody give her her autotune back, stat!

There are a handful of singers, though, who are positively divine live. Lady Gaga is one, and so is Beyoncé. Bey could make a #1 record with just her gargling mouthwash and whipping her lacefront back and forth. So why do some singers succeed where others fail?

Music production makes it possible for practically anyone to sound uh-mazing in the studio. So I guess that means the singing playing field sorta gets evened out. With all the vocal effects of autotune, reverb, and whatever else these musical magicians can do, it’s when you’re live that the cat’s out the bag. In the studio version of the track, maybe the notes are higher, the beats faster, but the computer isn’t there to cruise you through the performance.

One thing I’ve noticed about Beyoncé, just P.S., is that there is always an album version of a song and then a way-easier-to-sing live version. Listen to “Déja Vu” from B’Day, and you’ll see that it’s uptempo, fast, and it goes down easy. Watch any live video of Bey doing “Deja Vu,” and the song is in a totally different key and it’s 30% slower than the orig. version. Girlfriend can’t sing the album version live, and all of her people know it!

My favorite part of RiRi’s “Only Girl” is obviously the chorus — the money shot of pop music. She scream-sings, WANT YOU TO MAKE ME FEEL/LIKE I’M THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD/LIKE I’M THE ONLY ONE THAT YOU’LL EVER LOVE and the shouting in her voice rhymes with the high pitched, loud synths which tell you that this is the key part of the song. Problem is, when you scream notes you can’t hit, the results are not cute.

I have nothing against RiRi or her voice. I L-O-V-E Rihanna. Besides, she does that whole high fashiony gay thing, which I am so into. I just wish her producers would realize that we don’t expect her to belt it out like (insert name). Just write versions of her songs at a tempo and in a key that she can actually sing in! TC mark

Image: Sam Collart

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  • Jeremy Helligar

    She was awful on X-Factor. And the judges gave her a standing ovation, while they just sat there after Jamiroquai's far superior performance. I know Cheryl and Dannii were pissed at some unkind comments Jay Kay had made, but they completely thrashed their credibility as judges of a singing competition by pretending that Rihanna had just performed some minor singing miracle. P.S., It's ASHLEE Simpson. I know, crazy spelling!

  • Dan

    Excuse me, sir. Beyoncé does not, in fact, sing 30% slower when live. When tracks are recorded in the studio, they're often sped up approximately 5% in post-production to make sure the added background music flows with the beat of the lyrics. In turn, the music has to be slowed down during live performances to make sure the song doesn't fall apart from going to fast.

    You can't expect a star who is in the middle of a two-and-a-half-hour set to sing faster than she sang in the recording studio! It's ridiculous. And yes, everyone else does it… so don't just pick on Beyoncé… she's one of the greatest live performers to grace the stage since the Rolling Stones. Lady Gaga doesn't even have a live album… B has two.

    • Asdf

      1. No they don’t often speed up recordings by 5 %.
      2. No, everyone else does not do it.
      3. No, she is NOT a great live singer.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IPJSK2ITZBLFRN5MESRWQ3B6E4 hi

    rihanna doesnt have a good voice live – simple fact
    i agree on SNL her performances she didn't even dance and was already losing her breath
    gaga and beyonce are unique they are totally different but so good in their own way
    personally i dont like it when a singer belts too much (beyonce tends too) but i still love her
    i saw gaga the other night in concert and she was incredible doing the intense choreography and singing simultaneously was great
    rihanna just sucks

  • http://gravatar.com/gopdina gopdina

    Rihanna’s voice is auto-tuned for her commercial work. Her true voice is nothing special. That’s all there is to it. What I don’t understand is that she’s pretty, but nothing so incredible that would cause a whole industry to create a fake singing voice for her to make her popular. As we’ve all seen on The Voice and American Idol, there are plenty of truly talented singers, so why create a fake such as Rihanna?

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