I am usually inspired to write my Blogs and articles from a place of inspiration or in response to a need for knowledge from my students and followers. This is the first time I am writing from a place of slight irritation and annoyance. I am writing to defend every singer and live performer whether they are an at the top of their game professional, or someone who sings for fun...
Over the last few days social media has been a-buzz with attacks against Idina Menzel's performance of "Let It Go" at the Time Square New Years Eve performance. More specifically we are talking about one note in the song... the last one. Admittedly the last note does leave a lot to be desired, but after watching the whole video, rather than one of the cruel and countless YouTube videos which just plays the last note on constant repeat, I can tell you that her performance, considering the conditions she is singing in, the pressure she is under, and the difficulty of the number, is an extremely sound and solid vocal performance. She obviously has done her absolute best in that moment in time... and that is as much as we can expect.
We have developed a culture of global bullying, name calling, and finger pointing when those we love and admire fail or take a step wrong. It happened recently when videos of Mariah Carey performing her signature song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" flooded the internet. It's ironic that it should be happening more at the time of year when togetherness and giving is considered most important.
Very few of us watching and judging Idina's performance have ever sung live in such freezing temperatures, and you can see in the video the wind is pretty much constant. Looking at what she is wearing (or been told to wear by her management) she isn't that well protected against the cold and the wind. Add to this a gruelling Christmas schedule of early morning live TV performances, concerts, appearances, recordings, interviews, filming, long travel days, possible illness... the list of what these artists have to deal with and still be expected to deliver is endless. We can not imagine the impact this has on the body and the voice. 90% of the people judging have no idea. In my opinion if you are not out there doing the thing, if you are not in the ring knowing what it feels like, then you have no place to judge. You can have your ideas and opinions, of course, but to cruelly judge... you have no right. When you stand in front of millions of people at minus 6 degrees and sing a technically challenging musical theatre song, then you can judge...
It upsets me to witness other singers jumping on the band wagon. In situations like this I feel it is our responsibility to educate and inform others of the stresses, strains and difficulties of being a live performer. Any vocalist out there who denies ever having cracked, sung wrong notes, been out of tune, forgotten their lyrics or any of the other countless things that can go wrong during live performance is either lying or just doesn't realise (which is worse than the getting it wrong!). Believe you me, Idina is more than aware of what happened on that last note, and like very other singer I know will have been giving herself a hard time about it. But she's probable moved on, and so should we... but a few last thoughts before I do.
Watching the video in full, considering the circumstances, I think her vocals are actually very good. Until the last note there's nothing wrong with what she is doing... In certain shots you can see the sheer scale of this performance, the size of the stage, the gargantuan audience stretching back as far as the eye can see, and then one little human being in the middle of it all feeling around for how best to deal with this situation moment to moment. I can tell you, singing in that setting will not have been a pleasant experience, and from what I can see Idina manages to cleverly manoeuvre many of the pitfalls of her situation. Hats off to her.
As a vocal coach, singer and musician, I expect the utmost professionalism, technique, craft, heart and passion in my students, and in the singers I am fans of. Anyone who gets the level of fame and attention that Idina Menzel has received has a responsibility to deliver at the highest level... And in my opinion she does exactly that 99% of the time. It is unfair to criticise the odd off moment in amidst a career that has witnessed astonishing feats of vocal endurance, incredible craft and utter drive and passion.
Anyone who sits and says "I could've done that", "Her career? Let it go...", or "the cold must've bothered her anyway"... It's easy for you to say.
Now... just LET IT GO!