Monday, April 2, 2012

Crooners and Countertenors: Then and Now

     McCracken discusses the roles of the Crooner and the Countertenor in her posts. She defines the Crooner as a well dressed, attractive man that sings in a soft, gentle voice. The Countertenor is described as a high pitched singer that was popular for performing from the 1890's to the 1920's. This fad went away after the 1920's and we are finally seeing these roles coming back into popular culture through the characters Kurt and Blaine. Kurt embraces the role of a countertenor with his falsetto voice that has a range more commonly sang by a woman. He is also known for being very well dressed and polished much like the attributes of a Crooner.
     These posts lead me to thinking about other celebrities today that embody these gender-queer roles. We see more and more high pitched singers becoming famous by way of their unique voices. The Dream's single "Falsetto" was the first that came to mind. Although the falsetto meaning is a little different in this example, we still see a Top 40 song with a high pitched male lead. Another artist who is popular for his falsetto voice is singer/rapper Trey Songz who has made countless singles featuring his range.
     However, there is a major difference between these artists and the Glee cast. These R&B examples feature the countertenor singer, yet make it very clear that these artists are straight, and that the music is being sung to women. Most of these songs are highly sexualized; perhaps in an attempt to counter balance the stereotypically feminine pitches. It seems that any radio song you hear with a countertenor male is focused toward obtaining admiration from women. This is where Glee establishes itself as its own program. The songs that are performed by the males tend to use gender neutral language. Although "Teenage Dream" has sexual lyrics, it does not reveal a specific gender. I feel that this is a step toward achieving the ideas of queer theory and is an example that we cannot find in very many other media outlets.

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