Is cutesy female singing a genre?
May 1, 2010 6:52 PM   Subscribe

The Pee wee's Playhouse theme song...as performed by Cyndi Lauper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pee-wee's_Playhouse#Soundtracks)...Cyndi's voice in that, to me, harkens back to music of the 20s. Is there a name for this sort of cutesy style of female singing? Is this a genre that I can actually seek out?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
May I introduce Janet Klein.
posted by scody at 7:15 PM on May 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


I always figured her (Cyndi) for a shrewd Helen Kane imitation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Kane
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 7:21 PM on May 1, 2010


That style of singing makes me think of Betty Boop, who was in part based on Helen Kane, whose signature song was "I Wanna Be Loved By You". You can hear her voice dubbed in for Debbie Reynolds, here. I think there were a few other singers from the 20s and 30s who used that nasally, childish singing sound but I believe it was Kane that made it popular. I think there's a song in "Anything Goes" that is meant to be sung in that style, but I can't recall which one it is -- maybe somebody else knows the score better.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:23 PM on May 1, 2010


There's also at least one song in "Guys and Dolls" that is sung in that style, I believe it's called "Adelaide's Lament".
posted by wabbittwax at 7:32 PM on May 1, 2010


The song He's So Unusual, from Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual album, is a Helen Kane cover.
posted by Ruki at 7:43 PM on May 1, 2010


Another recommendation: Geneviève Waite's 1973 album Romance is on the Rise.
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:43 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


You might like some of Annette Hanshaw's work (you may remember her voice from Sita Sings The Blues). Billie Holiday sometimes sounded like this. Pianist and vocalist Blossom Dearie(yt) always, always sounded like this. Her Peel Me A Grape is classic (not the one where she sings with Lyle Lovett, but her Mercury Songbook version).

More recent vocalists with this sort of sound include Katherine Whalen(yt) of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Lavay Smith of Lavay Smith And Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, Ingrid Lucia of the Flying Neutrinos, Madeleine Peyroux, and to some extent, Joanna Newsom(yt).
posted by Sallyfur at 8:05 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not quite the same as the song you linked, but perhaps you'd be into The Squirrel Nut Zippers?
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:04 PM on May 1, 2010


Damn, Sallyfur beat me to it!
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:07 PM on May 1, 2010


By the way, I didn't fail to notice that you asked for a genre name rather than just some examples of the style. As far as that goes, I've never heard of one.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 10:49 PM on May 1, 2010


Breathy singing in a coquettish style. Wish I knew the musical term for it.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:08 AM on May 2, 2010


wabbitwax, part of the reason Adelaide's Lament sounds that way is because the singer is supposed to pretend to have a cold while singing it!
posted by LN at 7:01 AM on May 2, 2010


And here's Annette Hanshaw on archive.org-- all songs are in the public domain. In particular, "I Wanna Be Bad," "You Wouldn't Fool Me," and "I've Got It" all have that Helen Kane / Betty-Boop-ish-ness. Oh, and Helen Kane's there, too.
posted by ElaineMc at 8:06 AM on May 2, 2010


wabbitwax, part of the reason Adelaide's Lament sounds that way is because the singer is supposed to pretend to have a cold while singing it!

Maybe they meant "A Bushel and a Peck."
posted by zerbinetta at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2010


Zerbinetta's right- The 20's style Guys & Dolls tune is "Bushel and a Peck".

"Adelaide's Lament" is perfomed (traditionally) in a totally different, heavily NY-accented, "broad-done-wrong" style.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2010


My memory of Guys and Dolls is admittedly fuzzy.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:38 PM on May 2, 2010


I don't know what the genre would be either, but it brings to mind Blossom Dearie.
posted by Unred at 6:52 PM on May 2, 2010


Also great: Rose Murphy
posted by neroli at 8:07 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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