Monday, November 12, 2012

I Hate Concert Sing-Alongs

Singing along image from Bobby Owsinski's Big Picture production blog
I hate concert sing-alongs. I hate participating in them. I hate watching them. I especially hate listening to them. They're a waste of time, but have somehow become an important section of too many shows by even artists with minor hits (or even worse, none at all); the thought being, your show really isn't all that successful if you don't have some audience participation.

Well, let me ask you; Where is it written in the book of band rules that the audience has to sing along with you? Let me help you - it's not there.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing better than audience participation........when it's voluntary. But when an artist extorts the crowd to sing along, sorry, that's just wrong.

First of all, as an audience member (either live or watching on television or a video), I'm watching and listening to the artist. When an artist asks the audience to sing along we suddenly go from exciting to boring. It's a real showstopper, especially if you're just listening. I want to hear the artist at his or her best, not listen to a bunch of tone-deaf audience members while the artist just stands there feigning interest.

Even though I love the HD concert channel Palladia, I can guarantee that I'll turn the channel the next time there's a sing-along when every camera in the house is on the audience. I could care less that they're singing along. I didn't tune in to watch them. When I'm at the concert, I didn't pay good money to listen to them. I don't much care if they're into a song so much that they'll sing along (which can be really cool, and powerful), I just don't want the artist to stop singing or playing while they do.

And please, don't ask me to sing along if I don't want to. I'll happily join in if I'm into, but don't make me feel like I'm back in grade school, required to follow the teacher. I'm here to enjoy what you do, so do it and don't ask me or anyone else to help.

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8 comments:

Rand Bliss said...

You make some valid points Bobby, and I share your frustrations. As with most things in life, there's another side of the coin.

You can't say you didn't get chills down your musical spine when watching Freddie and Queen work the audience of 72,000 at Live Aid to a frenzy and singing along to their string of amazing hits. Voluntarily or not, I'd dare anyone there then to remain silent when that very special event occurred.

Then again, I'll also risk you agreeing with me that this particular band (and some legendary others) are from much better days gone by in comparison to what's currently accepted as 'great' anyway.

Long live Rock!

Factory Yoyo said...

Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!

;)

CaptainVictory said...

Excellent rant. Here's a related thought. As an audience member, I also hate it when an artist acts disappointed or lectures the fans that they should be standing, dancing, singing along, clapping along, etc.

Case in point: I had front-row tickets to Journey once, about 10 years ago. Our seats were to the stage's left, near Neal Schon. It had been a very long (but very good) show, featuring John Waite and Peter Frampton as openers. But it was outdoors in the Texas summer. By the time Journey took the stage, I was beat. So I sat.

About halfway through the set, Neal walks over during a song, looks right at me, and says "Get up!" Tired, hot, and just wanting to take in the show, I just sat there and endured a dirty look.

I still love Journey and respect Neal, but that experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

Jef Knight said...

I agree.
It's cheezy to try manipulating your audience into action. Tom Jackson, famous live show "producer", is partly responsible for this new trend thanks to his "all road lead to the stage" dvd set.
But when it happens natually it's a beautiful thing. Watching Mumford & Sons live a Glastonbury/2011 gave me a bit of the ol' goosebumps when the croud started singing, like, all the songs and knew all the lyrics.
You can't trick your audience into a response like that.
The songs are great, but all I heard was the sound of money.

Cheers

CC said...

Interesting opinion, even though I disagree! I will say that while it may not be written in the American book of band rules, but it is definitely in the UK book of band rules. Seems to be that the crowd singing your hit back to you is a venerable UK concert tradition: Rod Stewart..."No Woman, No Cry" during "Live at the Lyceum"... Queen... I could go on. I've even heard artists say, "I can't wait to go back to London to hear them sing my song to me."

Electric Earl said...

It's the singalong thing that ruins Green Day for me. Having seen them pull that crap everytime there's a concert segment on TV, I'll never pay to see them in person.

Likewise, it was always a disappointment to see Sam Moore (post Sam & Dave) never actually sing the title phrase "Soul Man," but instead pointing the mike at the audience everytime the chorus came around. I felt cheated.

Mike said...

I agree one hundred percent, although I love Queen and a lot of other bands that do this nonsense I just can't get behind it.

Johnny Ramone said the reason that they had short songs and always went "1-2-3-4" between them with no pause was because he hated sing-alongs, clap-alongs, and other audience participation.

Anonymous said...

I suspect it isn't the sing-along aspect as much as how it is done. Check out Harry Belafonte singing "Matilda" on his album BELAFONTE AT CARNEGIE HALL. Best sing-along ever.

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