We love instruments, it’s in our DNA. But when it comes to music there’s only so far you can go with spectacular instrumental tracks. It’s in the hands of the singer to elevate your songs to the next level. So, we’ve taken a look at some key characteristics that every lead singer needs to have up their sleeve, and how you could use them to your benefit.
Posted: 19 March 2019
You can have the best musicians in the world but it takes something extra special to lead the show. The most memorable singers go from whipping the audience into a frenzy one minute, then expressing their vulnerability the next before launching a rallying cry that could lead an army of fans into battle. But what in particular is it that makes a great frontman or woman?
In the most basic sense, every lead singer must effectively communicate the songs being played to the audience. However, this isn’t as simple as getting up on stage and singing the lyrics. As a front person the real mission is properly interpreting the music and channelling it in a way that captures and holds people's attention. There is no right or wrong way to do this and what works for one style of music, or even one singer, will not work for another. Everyone has standout qualities that just need bringing to the fore. Don't fake someone else's.
Now this is a debatable one. Sure, being a good singer helps, but that hasn’t stopped plenty of lead singers from years gone by. Just ask John Lydon, Iggy Pop or Siouxsie Sioux; none of them are considered pitch perfect but all have gone on to influence thousands of musicians across the globe. A frontperson’s tone, attitude, how well they complement the music and grab the audience, are all arguably more important than being in tune.
Brooding and oozing cool in leather, smart and chic in a suit, or extravagant and over the top in a bejewelled catsuit? ‘The look’ is arguably as important as the sound. A singer’s image dictates how fans perceive a band from the very start. Head over to Spotify or flick open a magazine and you see a picture of the band before you hear them. That doesn’t mean your music needs to fit that image, but to stand out you do need to an unwavering commitment to a unique look.
Being the focal point for a band is not easy, especially in the early days when not every gig ends in screaming fans and encores galore. Confidence as a singer doesn’t mean jumping around grabbing attention but is instead a thick skin to criticism and an invulnerability to embarrassment. If it’s your style to hog the limelight then go for it, but often this hides insecurities about the music or performance. Take the rough with the smooth, don’t let the hard times get you down and don’t let the good times go to your head.
The lead singer is responsible for a lot more than just putting on a performance. They need to be involved in writing songs, booking gigs and keeping everything behind the scenes ticking over. On top of this, the singer for a band always ends up as de facto spokesperson, so making an impression for an hour a night on stage is not the be all and end all.
The ultimate frontperson is someone you can’t imagine doing anything else. Picture Jimi Hendrix as a postman, Debbie Harry as an office clerk or Liam Gallagher as a teacher, and you conclude that it simply couldn’t happen. They could only have ever become all conquering rockstars. It’s a special breed that is equal parts charisma, talent, confidence and determination. Whether these components are taught or come naturally is debatable, but one thing that’s for certain is that not everyone has got what it takes. The question is… do you?