I’ve been Tweeting my responses to the X-Factor, and found that I had lots to say on the matter. So I decided to blog it. The previous entry was about the contestants and the show in general. This one is about a specific aspect which seems to be causing a stir.
In the dictionary, X-Factor is defined as a hard-to-describe influence or quality; an important element with unknown consequences. Embedded in this definition are certain criteria; namely, that a contestant on the show should be able to demonstrate vocal ability, showmanship, uniqueness, and a certain charm that would endear an audience to them, and result in the plentiful purchases of their recordings.
Now, since it is a contest about singers, first and foremost, just as Idol is, I find it disconcerting that two in the last batch were rappers. Rap is not something I’m a big fan of, but that doesn’t mean rappers don’t have talent. The problem arises, however, when rappers are placed in a contest that is about being vocalists. Rap is NOT singing. It’s chanting to a beat. So I feel there should perhaps be another contest for rappers exclusively–this one just isn’t it. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. There will be those who vehemently disagree with me.
Like this guy on Twitter:
@JaeBaeli @TheXFactorUSA #Astro your a fucking idiot! The xfactor is a show trying to find a special spark in a performer not just singers?
@brin905 @TheXFactorUSA the status of my intelligence isn’t something UR qualified to assess.BTW, it’s “you’re a fucking idiot” not “your.”
and I added:
it’s not EITHER/OR. They have to have a SET of talents & sparks. Singing ability is one. Rap is NOT singing.
SINGING implies melody & sustaining of notes. #rap doesn’t, unless the rapper actually SINGS. There’s a distinction.
U will have to use your dictionary & look up lots of words to understand. #Rap isn’t BAD, it’s just DIFFERENT.
Let’s go to that dictionary, shall we?
sing: to utter words or sounds in succession with musical modulations of the voice; vocalize melodically.
rap: a fast, rhythmic monologue over a prerecorded instrumental track
Indeed, the term “rap” as it is used in the music business came from the original and primary definition of the word “rap” which is to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow. The absense of sustained notes and vibrato necessarily leaves the musical characteristic of melody out of the mix. Yes, rap is a musical form, but this doesn’t make rappers singers. A drum is musical, but it’s not melodic.
Further, monologue implies TALKING. There is syncopation and rhythm, but this does not make rap SINGING. It’s little more than poetry jam set to music.
Rap is not a style of music I usually enjoy, and perhaps that’s because I wasn’t steeped in it during my youthful years. When I was a teenager, the closest i came to hearing rap was when Blondie performed the song, Rapture. I did, and still do, think that song was pretty cool. But rap as we know it today is decidedly cultural, and I simply cannot relate to its content of violence, arrogance, abuse, misogyny and lawlessness. Not that I’m sure there aren’t wholesome rappers out there. But as we’ve all noticed, they are difficult to find, and are not the ones at the top of the charts, attending award shows and flashing their bling.
That said, I also recognize that it takes a certain amount of talent to chant rhythmically, string meaningful words together, entertain an audience and communicate ideas. I appreciate, for instance, that Astro (of the X-Factor) is able to put a rap composition together under such pressure, memorize it, nail the whole thing, and while in front of thousands with millions watching. However, this does not, nor will it ever make him a SINGER.
(that’s the software rappers use to compose lyrics).