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Often there's a big difference between a person's singing voice and their speaking voice, sometimes so dramatic that listeners have a hard time believing it's the same individual. When it crops up in fiction it becomes a case of Reality Is Unrealistic: viewers often complain that a character sounds nothing like themselves while singing, even though this is perfectly plausible in real life. It's common, if not expected, for people's tone and inflection to change drastically when they sing, and professional singers are taught to stifle their accents from early on. When a character has two different voice actors; one for music and one for speech, that's a Non-Singing Voice.

Examples of Singing Voice Dissonance include:


General

  • A lot of English-speaking singers put on a more neutral (or Americanized) inflection when singing but still speak with their native accents. The easy answer is because it's the singing accent we're all used to hearing due to the dominance of the music industry by American acts. Take Amy Winehouse for example. In this video there's an interview cut together with samples of her songs and it barely even sounds like the same person. it goes in the opposite direction too, with many American indie acts trying to sound like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, such as The Killers, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Strokes and many others. It's debatable why so many people across the board feel compelled to eschew their natural selves.
    • In the case of English singers, it could be linked to the fact that at least a few, if not many, generic British English speakers feel that their accent is too 'posh'-sounding for a lot of modern music. A widespread English opinion is that a well-spoken generic English speaker sounds pretty lame if they don't neutralise their accent when they sing. Imagine the Queen trying to sing a rock number. Exactly.
    • This is less common in less mainstream music, although they are (usually) still singing in English.
    • Contemporaries of the Beatles, however, asked why they affected an American accent when singing, and of course many of their musical influences were American. Maybe "Mid-Atlantic" would be a better description: they sound American to Brits, and British to Americans. Likewise Elton John.
      • The Beatles themselves were asked this. Their response was that it just sounded better.
    • This was actually reversed by several American punk bands formed during the 80's, who would affect pseudo-British accents since their influences came from British bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
    • In the UK, this a phenomenon typically associated with pop and mainstream music. Artists working in niche or alternative genres typically retain a British accent, even if they may choose to normalize in the direction of Received Pronunciation.
    • This used to be quite bad in South African music. However, various artists have (consciously, it would seem) started to reverse this; the most obvious being some instances of the vowel "a" (e.g., "can" sounds as an American would expect, but "can't" has the same "a" as in "far"). This does not apply to types of music that are seen as being inherently American, such as Rap and Hip-Hop; in those genres, South Africans will put on American accents even in works not originally destined for the international market. Some do it better than others.
    • British and Antipodean folk music generally averts this entirely, particularly if the song was written for a colloquial dialect. Adopting an American accent to sing songs such as "The Skye Boat Song" or "Come Out Ye Black and Tans" simply wouldn't make sense.
    • A lot of British ska and punk is also sung with the retained British accent; see, for instance, Madness or the Sex Pistols for a couple of famous examples. The Psychedelic Furs's Richard Butler retained his British accent while singing. So did Damon Albarn of Blur fame. Mark E. Smith of The Fall has always made his Mancunian accent apparent, as has Liam Gallagher. And one can argue that one can still hear a touch of British in The Cure's Robert Smith's accent.
      • This was definitely the case with The Clash's 1977 song "I'm So Bored With the U.S.A." - which is only appropriate, seeing that the song is one big "fuck you" to America.
    • Accents should be taken with a big grain of salt when it comes to singing, as singers are trained to enunciate their vowels in a certain way that has nothing to do with any particular language or accent; or if any, Italian.
  • Countertenors are a Real Life example of this. (They're most often baritones when not singing in their falsetto.)
    • High sopranos also count. Their speaking voices are usually much lower than their singing ones.
    • As do low basses; most do not have particularly low speaking voices.

Film

  • In Spaceballs, Princess Vespa is a baritone.
  • In Toy Story 2, Wheezy gets a new squeaker that allows him to sing like Robert Goulet.
  • In Love Actually, Prime Minister David is shocked to hear his driver's beautiful, operatic rendition of "Good King Wenceslaus."
  • Averted by Hilary Duff, of all people - in War, Inc. her character not only speaks with a Central Asian accent but sings with one as well.

Live-Action TV

Music

  • Claudio Sanchez's high-pitched, almost feminine singing voice contrast with his softer, deeper speech.
  • Emerging blues/R&B singer Adele Adkins is known for her powerful voice, but speaks with a sort of shrill, slurring East London accent.
  • Rihanna suffers from this. Her beautiful singing voice contrasts with her heavily Barbados-accented speech. Her speaking voice is not ugly by any means, but it is hard to understand for people not used to the accent.
  • Shrieking metal singers also have this, but it's usually their speaking voice which is more pleasant than their singing voice. Examples include Alice Cooper,Rob Halford, Dani Filth and King Diamond.
  • Jim Nabors was famous for this. As Gomer Pyle, he spoke with as typical southern drawl, but sang beautifully.
  • Olivia Newton-John sings with an American accent instead of Australian.
  • So does Keith Urban.
  • Michael Jackson is a mild case. His adult singing voice is a little deeper and grittier than his gentle-sounding speaking voice.
  • Prince has a speaking voice that's considerably and quite noticeably deeper than what we usually hear him singing with.
  • Céline Dion's French-language songs are usually sung with the barest Québecois accent. On the other side, Céline's natural speech is... well, in the words of humorist Anthony Kavannagh:

 Kavannagh: When Céline speaks, your reaction is... A: "What a beautiful woman!", B: "What a beautiful voice!", C: "What's she saying again?"

(Audience unequivocally shouts "C!!!")

Kavannagh: Oh yeah, we in Québec have trouble with that, too.

  • Singer Akhenaton from French rap group IAM has a Southern French accent you could cut with an axe when speaking, but not in his songs. Which are, naturally, mostly spoken. Go figure.
  • Country Music artist Blaine Larsen has a high, nasal speaking voice, but a rather deep, rich singing voice.
  • Mariah Carey has a deep speaking voice but her singing voice is high pitched.
  • Lead singer Bert Mccracken of The Used has a harsh speaking voice (possibly due to years of smoking) but his singing voice is relatively high and clean
  • Julee Cruise has a soft, airy singing voice, while her speaking voice is significantly lower and raspier. This is most evident in her song "You're Staring At Me", which starts out with a short spoken word monologue.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong speaks with a normal California accent and sings with an English-sounding one - not surprising considering some of his biggest influences are British punk bands.
  • Christina Aguilera initially startled people with this - her speaking voice is generally on the higher-pitched, softer, girly side. Her singing voice tends toward "deep bellow".
  • Freddie Mercury of Queen had a rather baritone speaking voice, but a high angelic tenor when singing.
  • Listen to Nelly Furtado speak, and then listen to her sing. It's hard to believe it's the same woman sometimes.
  • When Kelly Clarkson speaks she sounds like a perky white girl from Texas. But then she sings like this. Before being on American Idol she was trying to make it in LA, sending demo tapes to record companies who were surprised to see that she was white when they met her.
  • Jackie Evancho sounds like a normal girl when she talks but when she sings, she sounds like an opera singer.
  • Christian Alvestam has a deep voice and a heavy Swedish accent when he speaks, but when he sings, his voice is not only much, much higher, but there is also no accent at all.
  • Namgar speaks in a soft, squeaky voice, but sings in a much deeper voice, as is the custom with Buryat-Mongolian folk music.
  • Ozzy Osbourne is practically unintelligible when speaking.
  • Joy Division's Ian Curtis sang in a deep baritone (except in the band's earliest recordings), and without much of an accent, but in the few recordings of his speaking voice he sounds quite high pitched and has an even stronger Mancunian/Macclesfield accent than the other three members of the band.
  • Chino Moreno has a boyish, soothing tenor singing voice, but his speaking voice is so much deeper it's hard to believe it's the same guy.
  • Former american idol contestant Colton Dixon speaks with a light Southern accent, but his singing voice sounds rather Austrailian
  • Florence Welch, while not a change in tone or accent, has a powerful singing voice that is in stark contrast to her typically soft, timid speaking voice.

Web Original

  • Lewis Lovhaug is well known for his nasally speaking voice, but on occasion he'll show off his awesome baritone singing.

Western Animation

  • Many Disney films have this issue, such as The Little Mermaid. Jodi Benson provides the voice of Ariel throughout the film, but is often for two separate actresses playing the same role.
  • Gorillaz singer 2D is voiced by two different people, and the group is often met with complaints that his speaking voice is too different from his vocals for him to be able to sing in the albums.
  • Oliver and Company deliberately averted Non-Singing Voice by hiring actual singers to play Dodger and Georgette's speaking parts... and Dodger ended up sounding like a completely different character when he switched from speaking to singing.
  • Mikey from Recess had an absurdly deep, baritone singing voice for a child in Grade 4, also provided by Robert Goulet.
  • In the Brazilian version of Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo was voiced by a normal voice actor, but during the singing scenes they hired a professional opera singer. The difference between voices is blatant.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer of Seville," when Homer is lying on his back, his singing voice is majestic and beautiful, though his speaking voice (and his singing voice while upright) is the same old Homer.
    • In another Simpsons episode, Homer's Barbershop Quartet, it's revealed that Barney is a ridiculously good tenor.
    • Yet another Simpsons example! From the episode "Bart's Girlfriend":

 (Bart hears a lovely female singing voice)

Bart: Jessica!

Lisa: Bart, be strong! You don't need that little hellcat.

Bart: Oh, Lis, she's already drawing me to her with her beautiful siren song.

(Bart opens the church's door and sees that the voice is coming from none other than Ned Flanders. Bart shudders.)

Bart: That's very disturbing.

  • Candace experiences this in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Jerk De Soleil", when, due to an allergic reaction, she sings in a deep, raspy male voice.
    • Not to mention Ferb, who rarely speaks, but whose singing voice is played by different voice actors.
  • Finn from Adventure Time sings in an Auto Tuned voice, given that he once swallowed a computer.
    • However it is still the same actor at least.
  • An episode of Hey Arnold reveals that Mr. Hyunh, whose speaking voice has a very heavy Vietnamese accent, apparently turns into Randy Travis when he sings.
  • Jem and The Holograms featured Kimber singing a duet with Stormer of The Misfits. It was a good song, but unfortunately, they chose the breathy voice of an adult woman, whereas Kimber is a high-pitched-talking teenager.
  • Cornwallis Hanky from South Park has a tenor voice while singing.
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