Musical Interlude (“On the Path of Decent Groove”): Dimash Qudaibergen

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Reader Bob H suggested an occasional musical feature using YouTube musicians, say called “On the Path of Decent Groove” from a J.J. Cale album. Bob H provided a lovely instrumental piece, which I do intend to run in a future post. I hope you’ll have the patience to wait. I am worried readers don’t share my enthusiasm for good vocalists (and clever lyrics) since we recently showcased the impressive Marcelito Pomoy and didn’t get all that much in the way of comments.

I just stumbled across the 26 year old Kazakh singer, sometimes songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dimash Qudaibergen, who already has a huge following in China and Russia. His first album in China hit platinum status in the first 37 seconds and triple platinum in the first hour. He’s been winning musical competitions since a very young age. He sings in 12 languages. He combines classical, pop and folk music styles. Sadly, his popularity in the wrong countries is likely a reason he’s not become a household name here.

Trust me, even if you aren’t all that keen about singers, just listen. And if you think you have time for only one song, try the last one, it might persuade you to go back to the earlier ones.

The first clip is from his most popular song, S.O.S d’un terrien en détress. The segment below has a few more audience reaction shots than I would prefer, but this performance also has less in way of distracting Las Vegas backgrounds than some others, and it also has the lyrics. If you’d like to watch him sing with the lyrics in English and Spanish, go here. From a pure performance perspective, I think his recent rendition, on the occasion of Biden’s inauguration, is the best vocally, perhaps simply by not having crowd sounds you get in a live performance:

In Opera 2 below, the song is playful and Dimash owns the crowd (“Think I can’t top that? Just listen”):

This last one, Unforgettable Day, is a bit leisurely, ballad-like, in the run up to Dimash pulling out all the stops. You must listen to what he does at 4:39. And don’t cheat. Don’t start earlier than 3:45 if you are impatient.

Many many many reactions by vocal coaches on YouTube. This one gives the best explanation I have found so far.

I hate crowds with the passion of a thousand burning suns, but Dimash is on the extremely short list of performers that I’d like to see in concert.

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66 comments

  1. Kris

    Thank you for posting this; our entire family are Dimash admirers. The combination of training, innate talent, and persona make his listeners realize they are experiencing something very rare and real.

    Reply
  2. PlutoniumKun

    Wow, that was certainly a wake-up. I’m no expert on vocalists, but he sounds truly spectacularly talented to me.

    Reply
  3. vlade

    Thanks for this. Even I liked it, even though I normally go either for the sound (ignore voice), or the lyrics (for an anglophone example, Cohen never was a great singer, but the combination of his lyrics and melodies – genius).

    TBH, there’s many artist in the post-Soviet countries I know of, who never get airing outside, but who could have been major household names if born a bit elsewhere. Makes you wonder how many such talents – and not just in music – wither in the not-so-rich-or-connected countries..

    Reply
  4. Robert Hahl

    I appreciate this music in small doses, like opera. Some people will love it extremely; again like opera, either it reaches you or not. Don’t judge just by the number of comments because the great thing about youtube is that it lets you hear the best of each genera and follow your instincts from there.

    Btw, The Path of a Decent Groove was Tony Joe White, not JJ Cale.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4v6R8ba5p0

    Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      Speaking of voices, this one is a bit like if Robert Plant joined Aerosmith. It reminds me of times years ago when I first saw that some band, like the Rolling Stones, really knew what they were doing.

      Greta Van Fleet – Highway Tune (Live in Toronto / 2018)
      https://youtu.be/5m-lJb69wrs

      Reply
  5. Taykadip

    Omg. Horrible. I listened to little of the last one (the best?). Too much shrieking; musically banal. I’m a musician. I love NK, but please stay away from music.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s one thing to say his crossover style doesn’t do it for you (“I don’t like jazz. Pfff.”), and quite another for you to put foot and mouth and chew in trying to attack his skills, both technical and interpretive.

      If you deem his work to be banal, you give the strong impression that you are either are not a very accomplished performer or at best not well acquainted with vocal music. Judges of musical competitions all over the world disagree with you. He gets top marks, consistently for his rendition and his use of his exceptional instrument.

      The fact that you went to the third song first, which I recommended only to the impatient to pique their interest, suggests you weren’t going to give anyone a fair hearing.

      Go look at the vocal coach and musician reactions on YouTube. They are not merely favorable but absolutely gobsmacked by his extraordinary vocal skills, not just his range but his phenomenal control, the variety of styles he deploys, and his very careful selection of which vocal techniques to use to convey the emotional message of the song.

      And he just sang the highest note a man has ever sung, higher than any note on the keyboard, as an improvised throwaway, and you dismiss that?

      More confirmation in a sampling of vocal coach reactions. The ones below have technical chops:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8DRV1Tz8xs

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyw0_ZBv8Hg

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sECb17n2Jzc

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpoSskAVrPc

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08XxjLpAdgc

      Some of these vocal coaches have reviewed several Dimash performances because they are so taken with him. For instance:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laRftrj07Nc

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00NHzMyTJh4

      And I produced opera with Peter Sellars in my youth, and light opera, so your assumptions about me are also off base.

      Reply
      1. Nce

        I love your website and I very much appreciate the animal and wildlife images as relief from the human-created environment, but… I’m no music expert but musical preferences are so personal, anyway. I admit that I don’t like it, regardless of how accomplished this young man is- bless him and I wish him success. Maybe I’m just in the mood for some old DK’s “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” instead today :)

        I can’t tell you how many times recently I hear Sid Vicious’ voice on my head screaming (about myself, let me be clear):

        NO Future
        No Future
        No Future For You!
        NO FUTURE FOR YOU!

        Reply
        1. Norm de plume

          Poor old Sid wasn’t around to be part of the Pistols’ future, which included this fearsome live performance of that classic song:

          https://youtu.be/1TMiqpLL1pI

          Most of that crowd were in nappies when it came out, if they were born at all. That album still has an extraordinary power and for me has not dated in the same way almost everything else from that era has.

          Much of that can be attributed to the singular Mr Rotten. Others have better voices but none more perfectly suited to that music.

          Reply
      2. HotFlash

        Oh, Yves, I love Peter, did two operas w/him here in Toronto. He’s wonderful, genius, crazy, and he gives really good hugs. Miss opera so much. And Peter.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, did you actually work on the production? I am jealous. He’s so high energy and engaging on top of being fabulously knowledgeable.

          Peter is indeed a genius and I don’t use that word lightly. I stage managed a Three Sisters for him (whoever he had had dropped out) and then produced a summer season with him on the Loeb mainstage (a professional caliber theater, then the best in the Northeast) where we did four shows in eight weeks (killer schedule!) with no adult supervision. One was his Wagner Ring cycle, where he cut the operas down to be performed in one evening, with recorded music, some actors, and giant puppets. He’d come out and narrate what was coming next (as in opera by opera) without notes. Opera buffs and normal people ate it up.

          The problem with Peter is he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care when whatever he’s working on isn’t working. So he goes from absolutely amazing productions to one that are just bad. He’s not afraid to fail but the poor performers in those productions!

          Reply
    2. Ignacio

      Yeah, very open minded from your side, I would think you are no more than an aficionado. A bad aficionado in my opinion if you believe you can impose whatever you consider canonical..

      Reply
    3. diptherio

      If you don’t recognize the vocal talent, whether you like the music or not, I question your claims to musicianship. Shreiking? Come on, man.

      Reply
  6. Ignacio

    I think he does two notes at such high tone it is impossible for me to follow a full scale to identify whether these are DO, RE or whatever, i need full scales to identify any note. Someone with better musical ears might do…
    Ashtonishing!!

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I provided the link below that segment for a bit more explanation, but you do have to scroll into that video to find it. I don’t think Dimash did that again, he was improvising (as in I am sure he’s practiced this note but that song, Unforgettable Day, is one of his standards and he doesn’t normally include that).

      This is apparently the highest note ever sung by a man, at least from the Classical era to today (there’s commentary from that age onward on the vocal accomplishments of renowned singers, including their ability to hit and hold difficult notes). The note is above the highest note on a piano keyboard. Some vocal coaches pulled out their cellphones to gauge the frequency. It’s a D8.

      It’s what is called a whistle note, the most difficult to sing because they require tremendous breath support and control, and typically only women can produce them. Not only did Dimash hit it, he held it steady for what I timed as 6 seconds. See here, starting at 9:50:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqP9jY1DgQk

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        vocal skill wise, he’s pretty derned amazing…and that whistle stuff reminds me of mariah carey.
        i can do without the strings and general streisand overthetop arrangements, though….but that’s just my own thing.(i prefer Babs with just a piano)
        I listen to all kinds of things…and wish youtube’s “suggestion” algorithm hadn’t been so crapified, because that’s how i found so many of the more esoteric and (to me) exotic things that are now in regular play on the speakers strung through the trees(for South Asian, Ali Khan is my fave:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v38w5djsbXM )

        this kid…at least the songs, here… reminds me immediately of folks like Louis Miguel, but with killer pipes.
        i’d prolly like it better if he was in a field with a Sato and a Tabla player.

        and i say, ignore the nay-sayers….a music feature is always a good thing. there’s a whole universe of music out there….and i’m old enough to remember having to scour garage sales and obscure record shops for what we can find so easily, today:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEoHb9HY3mE
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lcmWqb7R9M
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vACZA9dGvV4
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9Ss2v7IpiE

        (that last one, that’s my second favorite rendition of that song…can’t find any more the Metis fur trapper version i really like (manuel and luc dauvin))

        Reply
        1. juno mas

          Yes. Give me a small venue with acoustical instruments and a natural voice and let the unaltered sound and vocal emotion prevail. See: Cleo Lane; or even Joni Mitchell alone with a guitar.

          True vocal talent is rare. It requires extraordinary discipline, practice, and the ability to reveal emotion.

          Reply
              1. juno mas

                The second video was made at Esalen Institute at Big Sur. I was there!

                Some friends and me were traveling from UCSB along Hwy.1 to San Francisco State Univ. when we discovered hundreds of VW micro bus parked on the road shoulder near Esalen. What a surprise to discover the Celebration!

                You can see David Crosby in the video (Joni and CSN were the headliners). He remains a close friend of Joni. Crosby lives near me in Santa Barbara and regularly performs and provides insight every semester at the Songwriters Seminar at the local college. So that video you linked to, Urblintz, has special import.

                And your vocal accomplishments are also impressive. I (attempt to) play Jazz piano, and often listeners will ask if I sing. “There isn’t enough time in the day to do both”, I tell them. The voice is the ultimate emotive instrument: only those with dedication, talent, and discipline have success with it. . . Best to you.

                Reply
                1. urblintz

                  You were there! An epic memory. And the whole narrative around her and CSN is legend, so to have witnessed it in the making is something you should share openly!!

                  I bet you are being modest… there are a lot of great jazz pianists that aren’t named Evans, Monk or Petersen. Thanks for the kind words re my self absorbed TMI blathering below. I’m a bit embarrassed to have posted it… the ego can be treacherous even in retirement, gah!

                  Reply
                  1. juno mas

                    No, not being modest. I’ve loved Jazz since hearing “Kind of Blue” in the sixties, but played mostly rock n’ roll in the 70’s. Not until the 80’s did I attempt Jazz-style. While Jazz piano has expanded my understanding of the relationships of the chromatic scale and poly-rhythms, the physical reach and practice required will be a lifelong endeavor.

                    To play like Monk, Bill Evans, or Oscar Peterson takes immense talent, imagination, and dedication. Well beyond my skill level; just like singing.

                    I did get to see Gene Harris play jazz piano every week at the Idanha Hotel (Boise) in the 80’s and that’s where my love of small venues derives. Again, Best to you.

                    Reply
        2. CanCyn

          Agreed Amfortas. There is no doubt he is talented but I don‘t like the over production of the music either. All about emoting rather than singing. Diana Krall produced a Streisand album not so long ago and she tried to talk Babs into toning down the production and keeping it simple. No dice.
          Someone with a good voice doesn’t mean we will all like what they choose to sing. I felt much the same about the last singer Yves featured, yes talented, but the music is not to my taste.

          Reply
  7. urblintz

    I was fortunate to sing for my supper as a professional for 40 years, mostly classical (although I started out as a rock singer in junior high school) and have been amazed at some of the singers emerging from the “pop” universe with world class instruments that can do things I could never imagine, never mind actually pull off in concert. And I have what most would consider a wide range for a classically trained male voice, about 3 octaves. Dimash has 6. That alone speaks to his gift. But it’s his ability to sing throughout his range (except the super high “whistle” voice) using so many different colors and varying degrees of registration that impresses the most.

    His chest voice alone is enough to have brought a lot of attention because, frankly, it’s beautifully sung and effortlessly produced – different from Pomoy, whose voice in that register is somewhat “manufactured” to sound operatic and comes off as less “natural” than Dimash. And Pomoy’s effortless, beautiful head voice is, nonetheless, produced in a totally separate register that remains disconnected from his “male” chest register… i.e, he doesn’t “belt” up there like Dimash, which involves blending the chest and head registers.

    What’s most remarkable about Dimash is the seemless transitions, the blending of registers throughout his range. Indeed, one might say he has 4 perfectly blended registers which he transitions through without any audible “breaks” between them, and a fifth register in his super-high “whistle” voice. There is (1) the normal male voice, (2) the “breathy” head voice he uses in the lower octaves, 3) the startling sound of his full head register in the higher octaves which has the focus and seeming power (it’s always hard to tell through a microphone how much resonance would be in that sound if unamplified) of the best female voices and (4) his “high belt” register blending the chest and head voice in a way that, if done incorrectly, would lead to vocal hemorrhage.

    The super high whistle register is something completely different and I’d love to stand next to him when he’s producing it because I suspect he’s actually pulling the air back through his vocal chords (try it – occlude your vocal chords and then breath in through the closure, allowing the sound to go up into the head and see if you don’t produce a similar hyper-sonic “squeak”). This might be the most “astounding” part of his singing to the casual listener, but if I am correct about his pulling the air back through the chords, it’s actually the easiest thing he’s doing. That he can sustain single notes up there requires a decided measure of control, sure, but it’s not “hard” compared to his other vocal manipulations.

    I don’t happen to like the music he sings… it’s a bit cheesy, but chacun a son gout. And, nit-picking, his French is sub-par even accounting for it not being his native tongue (then again, when one sings up there you are basically singing one neutral vowel (aaahhh) and trying to fit all the “spoken” vowels into that same, released space. It’s why female opera singers have less clear enunciation at the top of their ranges – listen to anyone singing Purcell’s “Dido’s Lament” and the recurring refrain “remember me” inevitably comes off as “re-ma-ba-ma.”) And I wish he’d refrain from what I consider a self-indulgent “aren’t I wonderful” stage persona… but again, that’s just a personal opinion, probably resulting as much from my jealousy as from the audience adulation.

    The ‘reaction video” guy gets a few things wrong… a “countertenor” does not sing female roles… a countertenor sings male roles written for a reinforced head register that is similar to Dimash’s 3rd register (as described above) but does not carry that technique into the higher female octaves that Dimash does so easily and without any apparent transition. I think it would be more accurate to describe that part of his voice as a “male soprano” similar to what David Daniels does in opera, literally singing female roles. And the amount of breath required to sing up there is actually less than is used in full register singing so he’s off on that point as well. As the voice goes higher, the “mass” of the vocal chords is reduced so that only the smallest point of each chord is in contact with the other. Too much air, breath flow, will blow that delicate approximation to smithereens (think Rod Stewart).

    So I’ll say, with no reservations, that this is a unique and splendid instrument.

    But, in my opinion, Johnny Manuel is a better “singer” showing much of the extended range as Dimash but (again my opinion) connecting to the (better) music and the emotions to a more satisfying degree. The first two links are astounding enough but the third, covering Mariah Carey’s “My All” takes my breath away. The first half is sung in that other-worldly head voice, with long lines pulled off seemingly without ever taking a breath and then sings the second half in a full “belt” register – going higher that even his head voice singing – without ever over-singing this treacherously delicate song. Enjoy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYP92hY2FlM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKXIhcUwkhg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xME35sZ8m3M

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      I should clarify that, unlike a countertenor, a “male soprano” like David Daniels, does indeed sing “female” roles – those originally written for male castrati

      It’s that I’ve heard him sing, privately, some of the great operatic soprano arias, which he’d never sing onstage.

      Reply
      1. JEHR

        Urblintz, thank you for your comments as they have clarified some of what is going on as these singers sing so incredibly well.

        I immediately thought of how operatic these singers are, but rather than sing in the voice of one character, the singer has been able to sing all the characters in one! Astounding and wonderful at the same time.

        Reply
        1. urblintz

          Thanks! And yes, Dimash could actually sing the leading tenor, mezzo and soprano roles in the same opera if he could divide himself physically during the duets and trios, ha! It’s astounding.

          Not to toot my own horn but I’d like to believe I know of what I wrote.

          Again, re: the “whistle” register requiring more “breath support” (a misused term better expressed as “breath compression). I’ll bet my bottom dollar that he produces it by pulling the air IN through occluded vocal chords as opposed to a controlled flowing out of the air. It might be most impressive to the listener (that’s how the viscera should respond to high notes, especially those never heard before!) but it’s not the hardest aspect of his preternatural technique.

          I sang for 40 years. Across most genres. 4 seasons as principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera, winner of the Naumburg Award (sharing 1st prize with Dawn Upshaw) and Young Concert Artists International audition with solo debut recitals at the 92nd Street “Y” and Alice Tully Hall. Two joint recitals on Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers Series” with the fabulous Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Amy Burton. I sang Count Almaviva for two seasons in Spoleto opposite Renee Fleming’s “Contessa.” I sang and recorded jazz (Arlen and Dankworth) with Tex Arnold, John Burr and Eddie Caccavale in Paris and any number of Broadway “hits” with orchestras throughout the country (never actually made it to Broadway, but not for a lack of trying… came close once!). John Musto wrote his splendid cycle “Shadow of the Blues” for me, which I recorded with Steven Blier. I sang Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Ravel’s Histoires Naturelles with pianist James Levine at the Ravinia Festival and gave world premieres of Pulitzer winning David Del Tredici – with composer as pianist – at Carnegie Hall and Merkin in NYC. I sang Ravel with Ozawa and the BSO, Berlioz with Levine and the Chicago Symphony, the title role in Mozart’s “DonGiovanni” with the St. Louis Symphony (in concert, unstaged), Mahler’s “Kindertotenlieder” with the national radio orchestras of Denmark and Czechoslovakia, Copeland’s “Old American Sings with Orchestra New England and the world premiere, broadcast live throughout Europe, of Menotti’s “O Llama de Amor Vivo” (written for me) at the grand finale “Concerto in Piazza” of Italy’s Spoleto Festival. I sang full productions of “Pelleas” (Pelleas et Melisande” – Debussy) in Switzerland and Germany, “Figaro” and “Dandini” at the Kennedy Center and St. Ann’s Warehouse and Puccini (“La Boheme”) with New York City Opera. I sang Ravel’s “Don Quichotte a Dulcinee” at PEN’s 400th anniversary of Cervantes sharing the stage in a program including live readings and reflections of Don Quixote from Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie and Paul Auster. WGBH featured my live on air performance of “Dichterliebe” (with pianist Marek Zebrowski) in their “Top live performances” series many years back. I sing in 8 languages and am close to fluent in 4, besides English. I taught on the voice faculties of North Carolina School of the Arts, SUNY Stony Brook and Florida State University and have given master classes in American and Classical Art Song at Juilliard and many other colleges and universities around the country.

          Believe me, at 64 it’s rare to encounter singers like Dimash and Manuel who can still take my breath away, as I have heard and performed with some of the best. I am only very good singer. I am not a great singer… you all know of whom I speak as great singers need no introduction. And great singing usually leaves me speechless but here, well, I had to loquaciously chime in on this post. Apologies for the admittedly defensive ego trip of my responses above. Still trying to prove I’m worthy, ha!

          Reply
          1. norm de plume

            That sounds like loads of hard work, but a helluva lot of fun too. It’s nice to see someone with a CV like that appreciating not just the Old Masters, but some of the new, and someone who obviously ended up spending their working life doing what they loved.

            I come to an appreciation of vocalists from a family entirely innocent of musical accomplishment and with voices like foghorns. We don’t know much, and can’t do much, but we know what we like. In my father’s case that’s Mac Davis and Garth Brooks, but for mum it’s Cleo Laine and ‘Burly Chassis’. Mum used to play Cleo’s version of ‘Bill’ from Showboat and I ignored it as a youngster, but it’s on my most played list now. Though I’m rather partial to the version Ava Gardner did for the movie, which they didn’t use:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCsYSS6ddT4

            I was also lucky enough to have a maiden aunt who insisted on taking a less than willing teenage me to the odd opera at the House, one of which was Die Fledermaus, starring a certain Joan Sutherland.

            The hairs on the back of my neck still stand to attention when I recall her seemingly effortless heroics.

            Reply
            1. urblintz

              Like I wrote to juno mas above, I am a bit embarrassed to have listed all that. Thanks for indulging my ego with kind words. It was indeed hard work and a hell of fun ride at the same time.

              Cleo’s is one of those amazing voices with both a freakish range and unmistakable sound. The “Word Songs” CD is on my top 5 list. I walked past her and John D. once in Riverside park and it was all I could do to not drop to my knees and genuflect. Really.

              … and there exist no back-of-neck hairs in the world that do not rise up in awe to Dame Joan. The Fledermaus aria is a showstopper!

              Reply
    2. Robert Hahl

      I agree with your comment about his choice of songs. He could end up like Barbara Streisand if he doesn’t watch out.

      He also reminds me of Karen Carpenter who repeatedly ignored my advice (transmitted telepathically) to ditch the evening gowns, and stop catering to conservative tastes. She could have gone back to drumming, joined the best band, and charmed the world with an occasional song, like Ringo. She could have made them thunder and refuse to go home until she sang the final encore. But I was too young to manage, and too sane to join the music business anyway, but for Karen I would have made an exception.

      Reply
      1. urblintz

        I can’t quite get a read on your comment.

        For different reasons both KC and BS were great singers. Dimash, despite that incredible instrument, has a way to go in order to reach that level of popular artistry. Better material that isn’t mostly about showing off his spectacular vocal chops would be a good place to start, in my not so humble opinion. I’d like to hear him sing a great song in just one (or two) of his many voices. That’s where the rubber would meet the road. Can he keep it simple and still astound? I’ll keep an ear on him and wish him the best in a very tough business that too often requires an “act” behind the talent to get any notice.

        And if you want to hear the best female singer few are aware of, check out Sam Bailey. I don’t like a lot of the material she sings either, but she nails every different style she sings. Her big band version of “New York, New York” might be the best I’ve ever heard. Here are all her performances from her 2013 victory in the X factor:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3Fh_rInQGE

        Reply
            1. Robert Hahl

              I won’t defend my position substantively. This reminds me of my father who used to have stories about chauffeuring famous people in NYC. One day he was waiting for a movie producer, when the man came out of a Manhattan tower and got in the car and showed him a contract with Barbara Streisand’s name on it. He was elated and said “I’ve got the girl!” He was talking about signing her to do the movie Funny Girl. Of course I liked her work in those days, but eventually I started turning off the radio when one of those big ballads started.

              Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t understand your comment about artistry. I didn’t show his Sinful Passion, and it’s hard to see how one could object to his performance from the perspective of emotional color (except perhaps his flourishes in the last minute):

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9FlDMCo8LU

          Back to the featured songs above, a man in the audience of the SOS video had to wipe his eyes.

          Ditto this vocal coach, who talked explicitly about his artistry and the emotionalism of his performance and also started to cry:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMFhEgtTbt0

          Other men starting to cry during their SOS reacations:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJYqbgLfPmg

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3WmSJmlp3k

          And this top vocal coach also discusses how emotional Dimash’s SOS is and how he (without the appearance of effort) achieves that:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08XxjLpAdgc

          So I don’t get what they see that you aren’t seeing.

          I also showed SOS to one aide who says she likes a lot of types of music but doesn’t appear to have any training (as in never studied music or sang in a serious choir or as a soloist). After hearing SOS, she asked me to show her more, so I did Opera 2 and Olypico. She plans to listen to him more and tell her supposedly musically plugged in friend about him. So I’m not sure about what mean by “popular artistry”. Regular folks seem to like him when they hear him, even some that you wouldn’t expect to take to singing not in English.

          Reply
    3. ChrisPacific

      Yes, lots of great singers leave you astonished at their talent without being able to remember all that much of the actual song. For me, the mark of a truly great singer is that they make the music better. Take this quote from a composer hearing Eva Cassidy perform his song, for example:

      She didn’t really change the song that much, she just breathed her life into it. She put a sort of West Virginia accent lilt into it on her own — it was just perfect, she nailed it down. It was so incredible, it knocked my socks off, it was like “Gosh, that’s a song that I wrote?” All of a sudden, it became one of my favorite songs that I’d written, instead of something that I was going to throw away.

      Although he has an amazing voice (and I agree the combination of pitch and dynamic range was the most impressive thing for me) he didn’t work for me on that level. Having said that, I suspect the cultural context and language barrier may be playing a part here, and he was clearly able to connect emotionally with the audience in the first clip, for example. I admit I’m curious what he would do with some of my favorite songs or genres, given time to practice them.

      Reply
      1. CanCyn

        Eva Cassidy! Amazing singer. One of the best. To me singing isn’t just about vocal range and chops, it is about interpreting a song. Like many here, Dimash’s choices may be limiting my ability to appreciate but I would like to hear him sing something simple with just a bit of accompaniment and see how he does with it.

        Reply
  8. chuck roast

    Perhaps Bob H should have tried slipping it in as a link in a comment. A couple of years ago I regularly posted a tune on Saturday morning just to try to get the brethren into a different groove. There were no complaints. Then I went off sailing and didn’t pick it up when I returned to port. Go for it Bob…be early and totally inconsistent in your musical choices. If there is grumbling in the peanut gallery you can always quietly close up shop.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      I like the tunes and being exposed to something I would otherwise never have seen or that had passed into the memory hole. No one has to click the links, if it’s not your bag,…
      Robert Hahl posts some good ones

      Reply
    2. Robert Hahl

      I am Bob H, and I have been doing that when Water Cooler was declared an open thread. Positive feedback over a few years led me to suggest that a more regular feature on quiet days would be welcomed.

      Reply
  9. Mark Gisleson

    Remarkable videos, extraordinary high ends (and a much more pleasant start to my Saturday morning than usual so thank you for that : )

    Although he mostly does classical, Yoshikazu Mera gained a broader audience when he did the soundtrack to Princess Mononoke a few years back. His performances are much more static than Dimash but that’s due to an hereditary bone disease (which may account for his limited recorded output). The video quality is poor, but YouTube does have some of his classical work (which benefits greatly from higher quality sources and a good sound system).

    This is from Nightingale, a collection of Japanese folk songs (on YouTube but not a video):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUoJ2plAZxo

    Reply
  10. A.

    NC is to be commended for featuring this exquisitely talented singer, who is indeed much better (and deservedly so) known in my part of the world.

    Reply
  11. Mantid

    Hello All. Like ‘dip from the above comment, I too am a musician. However I have learned that all music is good music. There is much corporate music that is not done with verve and only to make a buck. It’s pretty easy to see through and realize it’s worthlessness. As a youngster I began to detest so many “love songs” and got rid of my Beatles and Stones LPs (a big mistake). I began appreciating instrumental music and music in other languages because I didn’t have to deal with phrases such as “yummy yummy I got love in my tummy”. I really enjoyed “Out” music, “New Music” sometimes referred to as “Free Jazz” and groups such as the Red Bull singers.

    Ergo, growing up I had to deal with friends that thought Albert Ayler or Cecil Taylor were rubbish. I had many debates and realized it takes patience, a discerning ear, and more exposure than one listening offers to appreciate a song or musician. Many people don’t take the time for quality listening nor have the humility to admit they may not “like” some music yet have the audacity to say it is horrible or musically banal.

    One of my favorite quotes is from Thelonious Monk a top composer/performer from the previous century. Something to the effect of …… Monk: “I like all music”, Interviewer: “But do you like Country Music?” Monk: “What doesn’t this Mo Fo understand, I like all music”. Last quote….. “Music is the healing force of the Universe, Oh, let it come in”. Albert Ayler.

    Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0rPh_blM0
    Once in a while, a musical offering in NC is a great idea.

    Reply
    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      I miss “Schickele Mix”, that old radio program “dedicated to the proposition that all musics are created equal — or, as the late Duke Ellington put it, ‘If it sounds good, it is good.’ “

      Reply
  12. DorothyT

    Not to compare but to contrast what control and attention to the ‘lyrics’ sound like from famed countertenor Iestyn Davies.

    Here’s lestyn Davies speaking about his training and career as a countertenor. I was fortunate enough to see him on Broadway in “Farinelli and the King.” Note that he mentions what singers with a broad range are going for in terms of feelings by an audience as opposed to countertenors who are singing period music. The latter are not amplified. (I’ve seen him in the Metropolitan Opera, which seats thousands.)

    Reply
  13. bassmule

    Wow. It’s not just that he has this stratospheric range, it’s his total control over it. When he first launches it in the first song, hear how he brings in his vibrato–builds it then lets it subside. That, friends, is the work of an extraordinary professional, whether or not you care for his material.

    Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    What extraordinary range, and until this morning i’d been blissfully unaware of his larger than life presence…

    Thanks for incorporating music into the news mix, i’d like to see more of it!

    Reply
      1. urblintz

        Jussi Bjorling is the reason I chose classical singing over jazz. Your description of him holding back that inner force is SPOT ON! Thank you for highlighting him… he’s from a different era entirely, one fading in memory alas and in my opinion, he’s the greatest lyric tenor of all time. Here’s the moment that did it for me at the tender age of 17: “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgTWWjJt8hc

        Reply
  15. korual

    You can get Salvador Dali to draw up the plans for your kitchen extension, but is it art?

    His voice is an object of beauty, but the daytime TV staging, the political obsequiousness to vice-president Harris, the trite lyrics, the teenyboppers, the money. Musical violence.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Opera in its day was popular music for the well and very well off, elaborately staged with the best production values money then could buy. Would you have detested that then too as too lowbrow for you?

      I provided a longish list of vocal coach/professional singer reactions above. There are plenty more on YouTube. Again, your derision is a decidedly minority opinion.

      I’m not wild about romcoms but I don’t go around attacking the the taste of those who like them, particularly the better ones in that genre (and I do confess to enjoying well done action films. Sadly that seems to be a dying breed, killed by comic book franchise extensions and CGI).

      As for his signature song, SOS, he’s regularly performed that in not-flashy settings but the ones that get picked up on YouTube are ones broadcast on TV or for big competitions, where they go for the flashy backstages (as in he doesn’t control that).

      Reply
      1. korual

        My apologies. I certainly did not want to make a snobbish point about personal tastes. It was more to debate the political and social contexts of the musical performance, and I don’t mind having a minority opinion on them, though I was perhaps too provocative in this comments section context.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          There may be sample bias. I have no idea if he performs in smaller, less staged venues but YouTube would never pick that up for a singer whose fanbase in Russia and China. And all that staging appears to be very popular in those parts of the world, more so than here. You saw in the third clip a Vegas-friendly venue in Kazahkstan, which needless to say isn’t a rich country.

          I like this performance a lot, since here Dimash uses the lower end of his range, and I’ve also seen enough opera to have a taste for big productions (and I love shows with a big wall of choral voices), but it’s also not hard to register the Carmina Burana meets Vegas quality of the staging…and again look at the venue, a different one friendly to huge musical extravaganzas, this time in Kazan, Russia (the Kazan World Skills is from what I gather a Russian/Slavic languages area Olympics-like showcase for young professionals in all sorts of performance areas. I think it includes non-team sports like ice skating).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxFm0gmSZbQ

          Reply
  16. Larry Y

    My wife and I had discovered the “I am Singer”/”Singer” competition a year ago during lockdown – for her it was a nostalgia trip, since many of the songs and competitors are Hong Kong Canto-pop.

    The “I Am Singer”/”Singer” competition isn’t exactly the ideal place to showcase singing talent. Got to play to the audience, and the mainstream Chinese musical pop tastes lean towards the over-produced. Mainland Chinese pop music is making up for lost time, especially when contrasted with Hong Kong and Taiwan. The two most famous Mandarin-language pop-stars are both Taiwanese, Theresa Teng and Jay Chou.

    The concept is still pretty neat. All the competitors are all professional singers, and the arrangers, orchestra, and backup musicians are all top notch. For the singer, it allows them to reach and engage an audience of hundreds of millions of Chinese – it did wonders for British singer Jessie J.

    Reply
  17. Kris

    I appreciate the commentary and learned much, musically. If anyone is still following comments on this, I believe this song showcases his vocal talents better than many. It is a remake of a song by A-Studio, itself a nationally-loved Kazakh group, whose singer Batyrkhan Shukenev died in 2015 (the band is accompanying Dimash on stage). In the song (around 4:00), Dimash interjects a brief interlude which I read described as a Kazakh chant to honor the dead, before playig with an up-and-down the scale jazz riff to end the piece. The video also gives a small taste of the resurgence/ of post-Soviet Kazakh nationalism and Dimash’s place in it (and his parents’ for that matter) which brings up mixed feelings (but none of this should reflect on appreciation of his talents). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9FlDMCo8LU

    Reply
  18. John

    Musical interludes and links are a great idea. I have no great musical ear but I have traveled about the planet a bit and have always noted the different sound tracks that different people and cultures enjoy. His voice as instrument is certainly unique and wonderful but he definitely ain’t singing out of the American songbook. And what a boring world if would be if everyone did.

    Reply
  19. SomeGuyinAZ

    Wow, very impressive. Even better finding videos of his singing with Lara Fabian. Thank you Yves.

    Reply

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