‘The Greats’ Debate: Singers Who Shouldn’t Be Imitated

Do you watch shows such as American Idol, The Voice, or X Factor?  Waaaaaaay back in the day I think I watched the first season of American Idol all the way through to the Kelly Clarkson finale.  After the first season though, I basically just watched the first few audition episodes.  It was fun to try to determine if the person was going to blow your mind in a good way or in an ‘oh, my ears!’ way.  I’ve never seen a single episode of X Factor (nor will I ever) but I do like The Voice.  Mom, the hubs and I watched the first season but we haven’t seen much of the following seasons since then.  There’s usually something else on tv at the same time that we’d rather watch, and we don’t have a DVR. 

Anywho – somewhere in the last year or so I was watching one of these shows (most likely The Voice) and someone was auditioning with a song from one of ‘The Greats.’  What I mean by this is that someone was using, for example, a Whitney Houston song as their audition piece.  This got me thinking about singers who just shouldn’t be copied.  You know what I mean, those singers who sang it absolutely perfect the first go ‘round and can never be topped?  I just can’t figure out why someone would choose such a song because, let’s face it, we’re all hoping to hear that you’re just as good as, or better than, the person who originally sang it.  And in reality, that’s a one in a zillion chance.  Voices like that in general are one in a zillion. 

I should give you some backup here by saying that I used to sing competitively.  No, I don’t anymore.  And yes, I was ok at it.  Not great, but ok.  I think I could have been much better if I could have gotten over the nerves. 

Back to ‘The Greats’…

Who do YOU think should make this list?  I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking about this and so far I’ve come up with this:

Whitney Houston
Celine Dion
Michael Jackson
michael jackson
Christina Aguilera
Mariah Carey
Dolly Parton
dolly parton
Josh Groban
maybe Frank Sinatra (although I think Michael Bublé does an amazingly good imitation)
Johnny Cash
johnny cash
Prince
Luther Vandross
Etta James
etta james
Up until the movie ‘Ray’ came out I would have said Ray Charles but Jamie Foxx did an amazing job in that movie
Aretha Franklin

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there aren’t, or can’t be, amazing renditions of some of these singers songs.  Example: Johnny Cash has a song called ‘Hurt’ that was redone by Nine Inch Nails – both versions play on our local rock radio station.  The NIN version is very good, but very different from the original.  It’s done in classic NIN style.  They weren’t trying to copy or imitate Johnny Cash, they just took his song and put their own twist on it.  Renditions can be and have been very well done.  It’s true imitation that I think people should rethink. 

What do you think?  Am I right?  Am I too critical?  What other singers would you have put on this list?  Taken off?

(all images from Rolling Stone)

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