September 23rd, 2017

Giving the song the Angelica Hale treatment

Angelica Hale was nine years old when she first appeared on this season’s “America’s Got Talent” and wowed the audience. She turned ten before it was over and sang the following song in the finals of the show.

Angelica sings in a style I’m usually not at all fond of; let’s call it “pop diva.” It doesn’t matter, because I’ve become very fond indeed of Angelica’s performances. She’s cute, but that’s not really the point. She’s much more.

Angelica does cover versions of songs that originally were quite popular (or so I’ve heard; I don’t have the finger on the pulse of pop music today). To me, they’re not such great songs—not my style at all—but Angelica’s covers of them are far more interesting than the originals.

Now, cover versions by 10-year-olds are not usually better, and cover versions by 10-year-olds in the pop-diva genre are certainly not usually better. And yet her versions are not just better in terms of voice quality and control, they are usually more moving and exhibit more depth of feeling. That’s not what you expect from a 10-year-old, either. Music prodigies are not all that unheard-of, but ordinarily not in this genre.

Here’s a video of her performance in the finals. She didn’t win, by the way. Another girl—a 12-year-old singing ventriloquist, of all things (who is phenomenally skilled)—did. I offer this video because it shows both Angelica and the original adult performer of the song. I’ve queued it up so that you hear the adult’s version:

Now here’s Angelica:

To me, the original is bubble-gum stuff. Angelica’s version is much more. It’s paradoxical that the adult sounds more like a child than the child does.

11 Responses to “Giving the song the Angelica Hale treatment”

  1. Uffdaphil Says:

    We both don’t care for these types of flyweight songs aimed at teen girls. In my day these were called “matinee” music. The early shows younger kids could attend. Dreck by the likes of Frankie Avalon and Neil Sedaka. From there we part ways, Neo.

    At first I thought the original song was in another language. She doesn’t enunciate and it sounds overly processed to cover up who knows what. Does have a nice tone when the clutter cuts back and some distinctive phrasing.

    I listened to the kid eyes closed first to avoid the aww, so cute bias. Yes she has the pipes and control, but her interpretation is standard Broadway. Great for a 10 year old, but still that sincere, immature delivery that does not wear well.

    Puppy-eyed tweeners ga-gaing over the original I can see. The second is a novelty act only die-hard fans of the kid’s personality would buy and listen to with friends. I’m not saying she won’t be great in a few years. Just not there yet.

  2. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I’d be worried about pushing the pipes. That young, it might have a permanent down side.

  3. miklos000rosza Says:

    I listened to both versions. Not for me. Not meant for me, ever, not now nor back when I was 11, 12 years old.

  4. Ben David Says:

    The difference is digital processing.
    The adult performer seems to have started out with a light, reedy natural sound that then was over processed. But she has looks. The microphone made small-voiced stardom possible, starting with some of the ladies who sang with the big bands. Andrea Boccelli is another example of someone who is scoffed at in real opera circles. He’s basically a crooner.

    But this voice type is not a great fit for a soaring diva song.

    Even a relatively undeveloped full-throated voice – with an interpretation that doesn’t really plumb the emotional depths of a lyric beyond the young singer’s experience – sounds much better in a song like this.

  5. Liz Says:

    The winner (Darci Lynn) was incredible – she had humor in her act, sang wonderfully with different voices (three puppets over the course of the show) and you really could not see her move her mouth.

    Here is a link to the first show. You can see the links for the other shows.

  6. Dave Says:

    I have a problem that has been bothering me for many years i hope somebody here can help me figure it out. I cannot figure out if it is due to english not being my native tongue that there are many english songs that i can make out the lyrics without reading it in online. I don’t have this problem with chinese especially cantonese songs,i could understand it and have the whole song committed to memeory just after a few listens. Not with english songs,i know all the words when i read it,but when i listen to the song all i hear is mumbling. Perfect example is another one bites the dust by queen,i can’t make out even a word in the verse without reading it. I have the same problem with show with actors not from america. For example i couldn’t make out what they were saying without watching with caption on when watching shows like spartacus or Tudors. It makes me wonder if some part of my brain is damaged thatis causing this weird problem

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    I doubt very much you have any special problem at all. It is VERY common to mishear lyrics, particularly rock lyrics—so common there’s a name for it: mondegreens.

    “Another One Bites the Dust” is a song with lyrics that are often misunderstood.

    Here’s a list of commonly misunderstood lyrics.

    And it may be a more common phenomenon if a person is not a native speaker of a particular language.

  8. Gringo Says:

    Dave, I am reminded of my time working in South America. I was often asked to translate American rock songs into Spanish. My reply on more than one occasion was that if I knew what they were saying in English, I could translate into Spanish. But as I, a native speaker of English, had no idea what the English lyrics were, I couldn’t translate.

    I find it easier to understand face-to-face communication in Spanish than I do TV or movies in Spanish.

  9. Gringo Says:

    I am surprised that the list of commonly misunderstood lyrics didn’t include Louie, Louie. When I was a teenager, a favorite topic of discussion was the lyrics to Louie,Louie. No one knew what was being said. Bing Search Term: Louie Louie what are they saying.

  10. Ymar Sakar Says:

    For example i couldn’t make out what they were saying without watching with caption on when watching shows like spartacus or Tudors.

    That’s the recorder’s problem.

    There’s two primary reasons why this happens.

    1. Hollywood and the music groups are run by satanic occultists who channel spirits when making art, essentially they aren’t even conscious or in their own bodies, let alone conscious enough to pronounce a language. They’re just going with the rhythm and melody, letting the spirits take control.

    2. Western audio recordings have a gross imbalance of voice and background music. Since there’s probably another message in the music they want to get out than the words alone. It’s also just lazy incompetence. The Japanese have the correct mix for voice vs BGM, that allows voices to be clearly heard and the background sfx and music is actually in the background.

    I’m the same as Gringo, since I like using English subtitles.

  11. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Due to the influence music has on the mind, spirit, and body, it is better to not understand what the words are.

    Running unknown programs in a virtual OS box is safer in case there are viruses.

    Double insurance is running a virtual box inside another virtual box that is running inside the actual OS.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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