There is an age-old debate raging within the vocal community that can be summed up in two lines:
“People should sing like this.”
“No. People should sing like this.”
The musical theatre experts have one way of “singing the right way,” the commercial vocal instructors have another, and the classical vocal pedagogues have yet another. And all of them think they are correct, and all of them apply their respective set of techniques to whatever genre you throw at them. I’ve had a coach try to tell me I should sing Mozart the same way I sing Christina Aguilara. I’m not exaggerating.
At the end of the day, I think everyone looks for an easy explanation that says do steps a, b, and c, and you’ll be able to sing anything. Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy; singing Regina Spektor like Little Orphan Annie will never sound okay.
The good news is, there is no right way to sing. The only right way to sing is the way that allows you to healthily achieve the aesthetic you desire. I never understand when trained singers tell me that those airy-sounding indie vocalists can’t sing. If they sound exactly how they want to sound without hurting their voice, they can sing. Think of vocal technique as a means to an end—a toolbox you can use to attain a certain sound. It should never be anything else. Please don’t get me wrong, of course there are techniques that span genre gaps, i.e. breathing; however, there is definitely no be-all, end-all set of techniques to rule them all.
So next time you decide you want to sing Iron Maiden, I get it. You don’t want to sound like a broadway star; or a bel canto opera singer; or Jack Johnson. Or maybe you do. That’s okay too.