Enough with the “New York Accent” Vocals, Already!

new york taxi
Vocal coach Janine Le Claire urges singers to use their unique resonance to interpret their music.

I call it the “millennial accent”. Young people today have picked up a very contagious pronunciation within the ‘uh’ vowel of words such as “but”, “just” and “judge”.

Here’s what it sounds like:

In IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) this would be referred to as the ‘Ʌ’ sound. To me, it is reminiscent of the well known regional dialect, New York City English or even The Bronx, where essentially ‘just’ becomes ‘joyst’. And how about the word Christmas, sung by young performers today more like ‘Christmice’.

Another common vowel following victim to this recent twist is found within words like burn and learn.

What traditionally is sung as IPA ‘ɜ:’, the younger generation is morphing this single syllable into a diphthong, such as when ‘word’ is sung like ‘woid’.

Think that sounds familiar? Yep – there’s our beloved New ‘Yoik’ accent again:

Choose the Habit; Don’t be Chosen by It

This overused phenomenon is happening mostly at the ends of sentences. Consider whether or not this is an attractive sound for your genre and audiences.

Because it is so overdone, it can work against the vocalist, as it diminishes their uniqueness as an artist.

I have personally heard industry executives speaking negatively of this new pronunciation habit.

Executives may not be able to unveil the issue exactly as I have just done, but that’s irrelevant when the careers of these up and coming generations are often in their hands.

All they know is that they’ve heard it before, so they’re not interested in hearing it again. From the numerous young voices I work with, it appears these artists are completely unaware of their mimicking.

How to Increase Your Vocal Interpretation

My suggestion to young artists is to record themselves singing and play it back specifically looking for the millennial accent.

Secondly, I recommend listening to artists such as Jewel and learn from their vastness and diversity.

Pop/folk sensation, Jewel, is the queen of variation in vowel placement and shifting resonance, yet without the latest millennial accent trend.

Here is a vocal exercise you can do to help you push your interpretive boundaries:

My hope is that young singers will stop wanting to copy what they’re hearing on the current radio and try opening up and rounding their vowels in order to discover their own unique resonance.

0 replies on “Enough with the “New York Accent” Vocals, Already!”