The subject of my last post has still been on my mind of late, especially as regards what is called Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM). And it happened that today while attempting to play some tennis (badly, I will admit) I was suddenly struck by the similarity of my playing to the vocalism of the average aspiring pop idol. I am not without some decent form ( ~not being without some musical sense~ ), most of it learned no doubt from observation and imitation and have never really had any instruction ( ~as many pop aspirants~ ). I do occasionally manage to send out a proper, good stroke, though I haven’t any idea what I did to achieve it and I’m not sure what made it different from the many other failed strokes. I can identify that my forehand is my “strength” versus my pathetically weak backhand ( ~most young pop singers have a preferred few choice affectations upon which they rely and flee eagerly from songs that challenge them in other ways~ ), but even my forehand would be useless to me if it was ever put to the test against the strength of the serve or return of any genuine tennis player ( ~many pop singers would flounder, stripped of amplification~ ).
For every good tennis swing I’ve had, I’d say that imitation helped me to luck out in those cases, but overall, the 3 decent strokes per every 10 or so can’t honestly be deemed a good average, and as much as I feel like a stud after a good stroke, I must honestly admit I couldn’t replicate it if you paid me. Not with any guarantee, anyway. But at the very least, a person watching me play wouldn’t think I appeared to be bumbling. My general appearance seems to conform to some athletic minimum standard. And yet – I’m truly awful. No one who payed attention to the actual results or scores would ever think I was a real tennis player. And this is an example of the difference between talent and skill. I might have some undeveloped talent…(big maybe).. But I demonstrably have almost no skill.
And yet something very much like this has become a measuring stick for acceptable singing in the popular genre. And I don’t mean people like Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Sting, Billy Joel or other such artists: people who sing in addition to otherwise being an instrumental musician. I mean the singers. And we call them that. And yet no one would honestly call me a real tennis player, nor would I expect them to.