People Who Can’t “Sang” But Still Make Good Music

May 17, 2013  |  
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Have you noticed that black folk are quick to tell you who can and cannot sing? Many of us, who’ve never taken a vocal lesson, will swiftly let you know when someone can’t blow. We are an unauthorized authority on the subject. And any vocal connoisseur will tell you that there are people who are completely tone deaf, people who can hold a note, people who can sing and then there are people who can sang. For those who don’t know the word “sang” used in this context is not poor grammar; instead it’s a word used to emphasize the width and breadth of a person’s vocal ability. We all know who the sangers are, they’re the people with soul. The people who can take you from the Slore house to the church house and back again. You know them: Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle & Luther Vandross of the old school and Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia of the new. (That’s just to name a few.) But just because a person can’t sang like some of the greats, doesn’t mean they don’t have talent and can’t make good music. Don’t believe me? Find out who I’m talking about.


Ciara herself said she’s more of a Janet Jackson than a Whitney Houston when it comes to her career. Anyone who’s listened to Ciara’s catalog can tell you that homegirl has a bit of a whispy voice. Nonetheless, her dancing abilities and the high quality production behind her songs, make her one to look out for.

The Bangers: “Body Party,” “One, Two Step” and my personal favorite: “Ride.” It’s so good, I’ll embed it for you here.

Ciara stays dancing for her entire life.


112’s front man Slim is definitely talented but can he sang? Definitely not. In fact, his other group members have voices that are quite a bit stronger than his own. Either way, his sound works with or without his group members backing him up. We all know 112 had hits but even Slim’s solo endeavors did pretty well.

The Banger: “So Fly



If Rihanna doesn’t have that “it” factor… I don’t know who does. This chick’s voice leaves a lot to be desired. And I know I’m not the only one with this opinion. But the good Lord knows most of Rihanna’s singles are so catchy that you end up singing them whether you want to or not. She’s another one who uses the video vehicle to deliver the appeal of the song.

The Banger: “Rude Boy”

Ralph Tresvant

I know some of you are about to get in your feelings about me including one of New Edition’s finest on this list. Again, remember this doesn’t mean Ralphie isn’t talented. But let us not pretend that because Ralph was a frontman that he had one of the stronger voices in the group. Everybody knows Bobby and Johnny had the powerhouse voices. Yet and still Ralph put out some good stuff for us to enjoy.

The Banger: “Sensitivity”


Hear me out. I was trying to deny this one for as long as I could. T-Boz has such a one-of-a kind tone to her voice that I was very hesitant to acknowledge the fact that she really can’t blow like some of the greats. But upon further research and a little humble pie, I had to acknowledge that it was indeed the truth. Her voice is almost monotone at times. Still that being said, T-Boz’ voice didn’t stop TLC from being the second-highest selling girl group of all time.

The Banger: “Creep”

Frank Ocean

I’m sure I won’t catch too much resistance on this one. Frank showed, during his Grammy performance, that he could stand a bit more vocal work. Still, his tone is interesting and I won’t deny that the brotha makes some great music. Personally, I was enchanted when I first heard the banger below.

The Banger: “Thinkin’ Bout You”

Diana Ross

I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I have to be honest. Diana’s voice is beautiful but it’s also light and airy. Not rich and soulful, like the other sangers of her time. Everyone knows of her group members, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson, Diana had the weakest voice but the most star power…and that relationship with Berry Gordy didn’t hurt either. With the exception of “Home,” Diana is not a particularly strong singer. But that doesn’t mean she wasn’t the diva/ trendsetter of her day.

The Banger: “You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On”


I hope Murder Inc doesn’t come for me but is it really a surprise that Lloyd’s voice is not considered particularly “powerhouse”? Instead, it’s rather nasally. But that certainly hasn’t stopped us from wanting to play in his hair vibing out to Lloyd’s music. I absolutely adore “Lay It Down” and the series of runs and yodels Lloyd employs to prove his passion. Patti Labelle even gave it her stamp of approval by appearing one of the songs remixes.

The Banger:”Lay It Down”

Jennifer Lopez

I think we’d be hard pressed to find a person who would convincingly argue that J-Lo can sang. We all know the truth. Jamie Foxx was just the only one brave enough to say it… to her face. Either way, J-Lo knows how to dance, team up with the right people for features and deliver songs that we still don’t mind stepping to in the club.

The Banger: “Get Right”


Janet Jackson

Ole baby voiced, laughing on the track Janet! Everyone knows Michael is the one Jackson who got the lion’s share of the musical talent. Janet’s voice is light and easy and she’s more about busting a move than hitting a particularly soulful note.

The Banger: “Go Deep”


The first lady of Murder Inc didn’t have to have a soulful voice to produce a series of hits in the early 2000s. It’s no secret and if there were any doubters, her Whitney Houston tribute left a few people wondering why Ashanti never got the memo herself. But let me stop shading. Ashanti has put out some good music in the past. Hopefully, she’ll find a way to make it back around.

The Banger: “Always On Time (Part II)”


Absolutely no disrespect to the dead; but while Aaliyah’s voice was good for the time and had its soulful moments, she was generally a soft-voiced singer. She could sing and had a really nice higher register, but she wasn’t the person you’d ask to close out the last night of your church revival. A pop voice, killer dance moves and superb production aided her along the way. But as a die hard fan of One In A Million, I’ll never deny her gift.

The Banger: “If Your Girl Only Knew”


Remember when Mya collaborated with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Lil Kim to remake “Lady Marmalade,” alongside Missy Elliot? The song was a smash, Grammy winning hit but it simultaneously let us see that Miss Mya was a bit out of her league with those hardcore singers. And that’s alright. Not everybody has to bust the windows up with their vocals cords. I’ve always enjoyed Mya either way. I still swear by her Moodring album.

The Banger: “It’s All About Me”


And just to start a little mess and get you all riled up, I had to include Sade. I’ve gotten into a couple of arguments when I tell people that Sade can’t sang. They absolutely do not want to hear it and immediately start singing and quoting some of her hit songs. I didn’t say Sade doesn’t make great music; but if we’re all being honest here, it’s not a stretch to admit that Sade doesn’t sing with power. She has a smooth jazz voice that works for her.

The Banger: “Love is Stronger Than Pride”

Which singers need to be on this list? Who can sing but can’t really “sang”?

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