More and more, isolated vocals from pop stars' live performances are leaking online — and they don't always sound so hot. The most recent victim of this growing phenomenon? Mariah Carey. The isolated vocals from Mariah Carey's shaky performance of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at Rockefeller Center hit the web last Wednesday, causing many to declare that the legendary diva can no longer sing. Taylor Swift's isolated vocals from her performance of "Shake It Off" at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards were widely ridiculed in August, and other major artists — like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Rihanna — have experienced the same harsh criticism. It's not fair, and it drives me crazy.
Admittedly, I've always believed that there's more to being a pop star than just singing well, but I really do think that some people just need to accept the fact that these performers are human beings. They have "off" days, too — that doesn't mean that they "can't sing." Don't be ridiculous. (I'm not saying that they can't or shouldn't be criticized for poor performances — I just think that it often goes too far.)
Additionally, why do these leaks only seem to happen to women? Why don't we hold men to the same impossible standard of vocal perfection? The Guardian's Harriet Gibsone argues that this excessive "online shaming" of predominately female voices is a "form of misogyny," a way to embarrass women in the music industry and expose them as "frauds." I think she's right.
So, here you go: proof that five major female pop stars CAN sing, contrary to what isolated vocals may have led you to believe.
The Bad: "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the 2014 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony
I'll say it: This performance wasn't good. Carey was off her game. It happens to the best of 'em.
The Good: She Can Still Hit Those Whistle Notes
Yes, Carey's voice has definitely changed as she's gotten older, but it's not gone. Does she have the same impressive vocal range now as she did when she was in her twenties? Certainly not, but that doesn't mean that she can't sing.
The Bad: "Shake It Off" at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards
Honestly, I think Swift moved around the stage too much (she had to let the backing track completely take over at times), but I've definitely heard worse. Listen to the performance over at The Concourse.
The Good: Covering Vance Joy's "Riptide" at BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge in 2014
The Bad: "Roar" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
I think that the choreography during this performance really hurt Perry's vocals. That being said, there are still a few nice moments.
The Good: "The One That Got Away" on X Factor UK in 2011
Sometimes, less is more. In my opinion, Perry has a wonderful, unique voice.
The Bad: Her Live Show in Las Vegas in 2001
I have to believe that Spears wasn't able to hear herself properly over the roar of the crowd here (even with an in-ear monitor). After all, she was able to sing just fine two years later (see below).
The Good: "Everytime" on SNL in 2003
Spears doesn't sing live much anymore (not without a loud backing track, anyway), so it was difficult to find a more recent example. Still, the point is: Spears can sing. You just heard her do it.
The Bad: "What's My Name" on SNL in 2010
Like I said before, it was probably just an off day for Rihanna. Listen to the performance on YouTube.
The Good: "Stay" at the 2013 Grammy Awards with Mikky Ekko
Sing it, Rih!
Images: Getty Images (2)