The term crooner may be a little dated, but singing with a smooth voice is never out of style, especially in a live performance setting. A crooner is typically a male singer with a smooth, soft, and luscious voice and a great mic that perfectly captures his vocal range.
Women can croon too, but around the 1930s to the 1960s, there was a whole deal about male performers getting girls in the audience extra excited during their set.
This type of performance is obviously a big plus that any singing or even rapping artist can benefit from. We all want to be the type of performer that can gain an intimate connection with a crowd and woo them in a sense to the point that they are mesmerized.
In the early 1930s, crooning took the stage in the genres of pop and jazz numbers that were performed across the US. The performance style of crooning coincided with the invention of recording songs on an actual record with a quality mic in a studio and on the radio.
The closeness singers had with the mic in comparison with performances where they had to project their voices across the room made way for a smoother and more intimate approach to their performances.
Singers including Gene Austin, Al Bowlly, and Art Gillham are names as the pioneers of crooning, but female singer Vaughn De Leath is also credited for a crooning approach by some historical accounts, so women can do it too! Frank Sinatra was a huge name in the method of crooning, although he had moments when he also put a lot of power in his voice.
Although singing close to a mic isn't new at all to anyone in the modern music world, is it too late to make a comeback for crooning? I'd say not. Many performers across a wide array of genres can still put that smooth and velvety touch on their studio and live performance vocals to hook the listener in.
Although crooning gives off that retro big band sound, especially in the vibrato style, it can still blend with genres, including country, dance, R&B, and even rock.
For modern-day crooners, Harry Connick Jr, Michael Bublé, Sam Smith, and Usher Raymond come to mind. All crooners share a rich and beautiful vocal tone, romantic song selections, a prominent but not over-exaggerated vibrato, and the ability to perform with swagger.
While it's nice to have dancing, props, and other things happening during a show, sometimes simplicity with a great mic and a great singer is all you need for a great performance!
I mentioned Sam Smith And Usher, who are well-known for singing in their vibrato range, which may be confusing when you compare that style of singing to crooning.
Crooners are singing in their normal voice more often without projecting a bunch and not necessarily singing in their falsetto range. While falsetto singing is soft singing, it is even more complex than that.
The term falsetto in music refers to a type of vocal phonation that enables the singer to sing notes beyond the vocal range of the normal (modal) voice. This vocal phonation usually comes out higher, breathy, and more relaxed than notes hit with your normal voice.
In the modal register, the vocal folds connect with each other completely during each vibration, closing the gap between them fully. In a falsetto voice, the vocal folds are seen to be blown apart.
The feeling of intimacy comes along with the closeness you have with the microphone. You don't need to get super close to the point where your mouth is hitting it, or your sound is muffled, but make sure you're close enough for people to really hear the resonance in your smooth tone.
Crooning may work for all types of lyrics, but it really sells for romantic songs. The songs don't need to be positive and light; you could croon on a heartbreak song and still sound smooth and sexy while doing so if that's what you're going for.
Crooning really feels right with the jazz-standard type of songs where you can imagine a big band playing in the background. You don't need to make a full-out jazz song, but adding jazzy elements in your instrumentation and your vocal ornaments will really match well with the approach.
Crooning and autotune do not mix; it's all about that natural vocal power! Once you start trying to edit your vocals with pitch correctors, you will lose that crooner vibe almost instantly. It may not sound bad, but the digital sound in your vocal performance won't sound as smooth and authentic. It can really change the wobble in your vibrato in the wrong way as well.
Don't forget that crooners are all dripping with a swagger that will make girls and guys in the audience feel a certain way! Being stiff in your performance or overdoing your facial expressions while singing smoothly will send mixed signals.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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