Artists like Yuna might have quieter voices, but they're making a big impact on the pop music industry. (Image via Wikipedia)
Sounds /// Thoughts x
Artists like Yuna might have quieter voices, but they're making a big impact on the pop music industry. (Image via Wikipedia)

This one’s for the musicians who make you think something’s wrong with your headphones.

If you’ve ever watched any singing competition show, you will probably come across some strong singers who can project their voices, the people that go on to win to show. “American Idol” winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are some examples of contestants who fit this profile.

“Some people get this idea in this idea in their head that ‘I can only sing quietly that means it’s not good,’ vocal coach/YouTuber Tristan said in one of his videos. “Skill and how loud you sing are not really correlated. Same thing with range.” Of course, you probably knew that, but do pop music fans know? In the pop genre, vocal powerhouses are often regarded as the best in the business. Just look at artists like Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga. All four women definitely have big voices and even larger fan bases.

While I do listen to some of the artists previously mentioned, I also love listening to artists with softer, more delicate voices as well. To me, one of the best parts of pop music is the genre’s broadness, since its main characteristic is what’s popular at the time — giving powerhouses and quiet singers room to coexist. Here are six popular singers with quiet voices putting their own special stamp on the pop music genre.

1. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish, the 16-year-old musician with a massive Instagram and YouTube following, has released several singles over the last few years and a debut EP last summer. She has an almost angelic voice that, when mixed with sparse hip hop, R&B and indie-pop beats, creates a genre-bending sound accessible to all types of music fans.

Although she doesn’t like talking about her age because she feels that people focus too much on it, she has to be one of the most insightful teenagers of her generation. Just watch her interviews (or even this short video). She lives quite comfortably between the planes of confidence and vulnerability, which I think contributes to her interesting lyrics.

I recommend listening to “idontwannabeyouanymore” and “Six Feet Under” first to get a feel of her voice.

2. The xx

The xx, an indie band consisting of Jamie xx, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, has released some quiet and understated songs that after at first might make you question if there is something wrong with your headphones. Once you get into their music, you realize their gentle voices along with their simple yet confessional lyrics and minimal beats are perfect for a relaxing and refreshing listening experience.

The band members themselves often admit during interviews to being introverts. In fact, a writer for the New Yorker described a The xx show a few years ago where the band played so quietly that the audience members ignored them, choosing to chat and check their phones instead. Despite their quietness, the band is still successful. According to NME, “Coexist” was “the best-selling vinyl album in the UK during 2012” and their most recent album, “I Dare You” took the No. 1 spot on the Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart.

I recommend: “Sunset” and “Angel”

3. Oh Wonder

Indie-pop duo Oh Wonder, aka Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, are possibly the loudest singers on this list. The duo started releasing songs on SoundCloud with the intention of selling them to other artists,  but later ended up keeping them as their own when they realized the songs were gaining traction.

I think they have a magical sound that is unique in the pop music realm. The intricately produced songs featuring Gucht’s sweet and chipper voice paired with West’s deep and gentle, lullabye-esque voice for soothing harmonies. Due to their sound and lively stage performances, the duo has received very positive live reviews from college newspapers and music blogs alike.

I recommend: “The Rain” and “Solo”

4. Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan, an Australian pop singer, has managed to make a smooth transition from being a YouTuber to the pop music industry. Over the past several months, he’s released some new music and will only continue to do so with his new album “Bloom” set to release later this month, which will also be accompanied by a tour this fall. Additionally, he recently did a song with Ariana Grande, “Dance To This,” which I will say is quite the bop.

Sivan writes deeply personal lyrics about his experiences as a gay man accompanied by groovy electronic pop beats making for a sound that’s sure to please any pop music connoisseur’s ear.  He doesn’t particularly have a large vocal range, but when you listen to his voice live, you’ll notice that it’s really smooth and pleasing to the ear. He’s fun to watch live because he really gets into the song and dances like no one is watching.

I recommend: “FOOLS” and “SURBURBIA”

5. Yuna

Yuna’s single “Crush” featuring Usher first introduced me to her music. While she is originally from Malaysia, Yuna has released three albums in the U.S. In an interview with Rolling Out, she described her music as “lush pop,” which is a fair description, but some of her songs still give me R&B vibes.

I think her voice is very sweet similar to Jhené Aiko’s, who she also collaborated with on a song on her third album. There’s an airy quality to it that sounds like she exhaled a beautiful melody instead of a long, deep breath.

I recommend: “Used To Love You” and “ Unrequited Love”

6. Alina Baraz

Singer Alina Baraz lent her lush vocals to producer Galimatias for their 2015 album collaboration, “Urban Flora,” catapulting her to fame. Baraz has often said that she doesn’t like to define her music, but most editors have said it skewers the line between R&B and electronic. I think the electronic elements of her song would please pop fans, or at least help introduce them to R&B if they haven’t been acquainted with the genre already.

Believing the myth that only powerhouses can be good singers, a younger Baraz thought she couldn’t sing until she discovered R&B artist Corinne Bailey Rae’s music. I definitely see the similarity between the two singers — both sing in a soft and round voice that really thrives during slower tempo songs. However, Baraz has an airier voice, especially on “Urban Flora” that only grows more confident in her more recent work.

I recommend: “Unfold” and “High”

Writer Profile

Myah Clinton

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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