To promote the release of my single Horizon, I submitted it for review/consideration on 30 blogs.
The song was declined by nearly all of them, and the reason many of them gave was "lack of emotion from the singer."
This was definitely a blow to my confidence for one, because I am obsessed with this song. And the reason I love it so much is BECAUSE it has so much personal meaning for me. It’s about my childhood and going after my dreams, and well you can read about it here in one of my previous posts. So to hear that it was lacking emotion, over and over again, was very frustrating, because I felt so much when I was singing it, and I feel so much every time I listen to it. It means a lot to me, and I didn’t see how that couldn’t be coming across.
There is a difference between constructive criticism, and people just being jerks. Look no further than this insane article and the subsequent comments written about about Maren Morris. It can be easy to get defensive when faced with either kind though; you can even confuse them sometimes. I definitely did feel defensive at first, but after having so many different sources give the same criticism, I figured there had to be some truth to it. So when I went in to work with my producer on my next song, I brought it up, and he agreed.
It’s pretty ironic to be getting emotional about people saying I’m not emotional enough. I remember being super discouraged when he said this, even though I knew it was for my own good, and when he was trying to be helpful and asked me to think of some artist’s who’s emotional delivery I liked, all I could muster up was “ugh, I don’t know.”
We can all get defensive sometimes. It’s a natural thing to feel after you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into something and it’s being criticized. I think that anyone who claims to be 100 percent okay with criticism all of the time, even if it is constructive, is either lying or on some other kind of enlightened level. It’s tough okay! You can do your best not to take it personally, but when it’s YOUR voice and YOUR work about a story that is deeply personal to YOU, how is it not personal?
My best advice in these instances is to give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling initially. Be mad, be sad, be defensive, whatever. Do that in your room at 3 am, or vent to your journal for a new song down the road, then go back and take another look at what is being said. If it’s just a matter of taste, or strictly something very opinionated, it’s not something to worry about too much. However, if it’s something specific, and especially if it’s something that is being brought up multiple times from different sources, it’s probably something to work on. And that’s okay!
I told myself when I came here, especially during my first year that I was here to learn. This lack of emotion in my delivery is something that I learned, and something that I will be paying closer attention to going forward. There is always room to learn and improve, even if you’re an expert at something. It’s a part of progress, and if you have to feel sad and uncomfortable for a moment to become the next best you, in the long run, why wouldn’t you?
So I was able to push past my defensive instinct and keep my attitude in check (mostly) enough to see the areas that needed work. That day we ended up going back and re-recording everything I’d previously tracked for the new single, and it ended up sounding a million times better.
As good as I feel about this one now, I’m sure someone will find something wrong with it once I put it out. Some comments will be mean an unrelated to the music. Some comments will be opinion and taste based, not really something I can fix. But some will be legit, and once I work through my feelings and sort out what I need to be listening to, I will take action on it, and because of that, I can’t wait to see how much better my next NEXT song will sound as a result.