There are many ways to ruin a song. But singing them really sucky tops the list. So many singers use vocal styles that make listeners turn their radios off that you start to wonder if they're doing it on purpose. The age of auto-tuning has enabled many non-singers the chance to sing on key. But it doesn't help convey the all-important "emotion" that's supposed to go along with it. As you'll see below, there is a style where this is effective. However, the singer must first make sure the approach makes sense.
There are hundreds of styles and countless sub-groupings. We (meaning me) could break this down for years - and who knows maybe we will? For now, let's start with the five most obvious approaches to modern song and then a few people who exemplify that effort.
The Soothing Romantic Approach: I am harmless but can be very sweet if you'd just give me a chance. Buddy Holly, Paul McCartney, Dusty Springfield. Tom Jones, Seal, Sade, R. Kelly.
The Heartbroken Puppy Approach: My woman ran off with my best friend and I will now appeal for your sympathy. Hank Williams, Robert Smith, Kurt Cobain, Rivers Cuomo, Paul Westerberg, Conor Oberst, nearly every country singer who has ever lost their horse.
The I Have No Feelings Whatsoever Approach: I had a lobotomy and sing everything as if I were reading the estimate on my car repair. Lou Reed, Ian Curtis, Interpol, Editors, Ashlee Simpson.
The I'm Too Cool For This Place Approach: By talking fast and in gibberish, I can convince you that I am untouched by your emotional pleas and am completely self-satisfied with my place in the world. Chuck Berry, Iggy Pop, Anthony Kiedis, Avril LaVigne.