Hey Everybody…

In this blog, I’m going to review and critique performances weekly and give you 3 bite-sized tips for you to think about, and either incorporate or lose in your own performances. I’ll review performances online of single songs, concerts and some live shows, so you get a variety of tips each week.

Since we just saw one of the biggest performances of the year, the Super Bowl Half Time Show, let’s take a look at that performance. Here are your three tips this week.

• Don’t copy or imitate anyone. Not even yourself!
• Add some spice to your vocal performance. Give the audience something they aren’t expecting, or you may lose their attention.
• Be aware of what your clothing choice is communicating to your audience.

First of all, let me begin by saying I love Maroon 5 and Adam Levine. I think he is a great pop contemporary vocalist and I love his style and voice, but this performance was pretty safe and flat. Here’s what I mean.

It’s easy for people to begin imitating or copying their own performance in the past. To me, this performance looked like Levine was trying to hold on to the perception of what he thinks everyone associates with him. The band’s first single was released in 2002, 17 years ago. He’s had a lot of time to perfect, copy and repeat his performances. And I know that we are in a very youth-oriented culture, but artists age, mature and grow, and I wish I had seen more of that change rather than the same old performance I’ve been watched for years now. His recycled and worn-out performance was very clearly felt when Travis Scott, Big Boi and, certainly when Carmen Carter came out, with their real, genuine and passionate performances. I’d love to see him having fun again in music, but I didn’t see it. Disappointing.

Every vocal line was well placed and predictable. And you might be thinking that’s a good thing… but if I wanna hear the vocals on the record, I’ll listen to the recording. As a listener, I want to hear what you bring to the song today. And he did bring some new elements, but they all seemed very programmed and pre-planned. The joy and excitement of hearing or singing a song for the first time were missing from this performance. No matter how many times you’ve sung a song, it has to seem to your audience like it’s just as awesome now as the first time you sang it. Levine missed the boat on that one. His delivery was well executed but seemed very mechanical and too thought out. He didn’t show the spontaneity or adventure that made him the superstar he is. I also realize this is a huge show and it must be incredibly nerve-racking. However, you can over polish something and take all of the surprise out of your performance. Especially in today’s, lack of attention span world, if you don’t give the audience something exciting and tell them a real story, they will swipe and find something new. He is such a great singer, I wish he would let himself just feel the music more and go with that instead of what he’s done a million times before. It would be more interesting for his audience, and maybe he’d have more fun too. The whole performance relied too heavily on show effects instead of leaning into the sheer joy of singing and playing.

And if you’re going to change costumes, could you plan your costume changes in a way that’s not a blatant attention-grabbing stunt. It didn’t work for Janet and Justin, and it didn’t work here either. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. It leaves nothing to the imagination, and there comes a point in everyone’s career where clothing choices must change.  The last “costume change” conjures a disagreeable impression of “trying-too-hard.” It’s hard to be taken seriously in a business or mentor setting, male or female after you’ve paraded yourself around selling sex as your image. Everything you do as an artist communicates something to your audience. If Levine is trying to portray the “sexy-bad boy” image, he may have missed that boat too. He’s married with kids. It’s hard to pull off that rock and roll trick when you don’t live the lifestyle to back it up. Be real. Be who you are now. We grow and change, and that’s the challenge, that’s part of the fun of music. Your fans will always want to hear your hits, but it’s your job as the artist to somehow keep them fresh and exciting for you so you can still give something original to your fans. Don’t ever stop being the artist. Keep creating and evolving.