Should Bad Singers be Dubbed?

So many good actors have bad voices, is it time we just say their singing pipes should be tuned?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

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87 Comments on "Should Bad Singers be Dubbed?"

JamiSings
Guest

If they’re not a good singer – YES, FOR GOD’S SAKE DUB THEM! Not only does that spare our ears there’s lots of good singers out there who won’t get roles because they’re “not photogenic.” *coughmecoug* Dubbing gives them work they deserve more than the actors.

The Mysterious M
Guest

Also, why hide it? Dubbing has been done for years in films. Mostly animated, but even some live action films have had actors dubbed:
*Steve Perry was Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice in Quest for Camelot
*More recently, Christopher Jackson dubbed the singing voice for Temuera Morrison’s character in Moana.
*Andrea Robinson was the singing voice for Wendy Makkena in Sister Act
*Lisa Kirk dubbed (and helped) Rosalind Russell’s singing voice in Gypsy
*Both Christopher Plummer and Peggy Wood were dubbed in The Sound of Music
*Probably most famously, Marni Nixon was the singing voice of Deborah Kerr in The King and I

Tim Rutlidge
Guest

Just had a thought: In the old days of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas, there was often a comic baritone used in certain roles. While everybody else in the cast was well-trained operatic singers, the comic baritone was basically a comedic actor who could carry a tune somewhat. Their comedic timing and delivery helped make the song memorable. I’m sure we’ve all hummed “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” once or twice, and can remember “I’ve Got a Little List” and “I am the Monarch of the Sea”.

Guywhothinksstuff
Guest

That’s actually quite a good parallel, particularly to something like, say, Aladdin – the role of the Genie needed a performer, but the others all needed singers. Not meaning to denigrate any of the cast, of course – they were splendid.

Kaiden
Guest

Ha, I only remember ‘I am the Monarch of the Sea’ because of Indi’s Egyptian friend from Raiders. As for Modern Major General, I owe that introduction to Ross Scott. And boy was it a big one, singing and dancing while gunning down spec ops forces in a water canal skirmish in Half-Life. XD

firefly4f4
Guest

It depends on the context. The Rock’s song in Moana, for example, works because it’s a comedic song and the style.

For Watson… yeah, it needed a bit of sprucing up.

As for LaLa Land… honestly, I think the fact that neither was a particularly strong singer worked in the movie’s favor.

Dasha
Guest

That’s the thing, Maui’s song in Moana is perfectly fine. Not an amazing singer but certainly good enough for the film. It fits the film perfectly in terms of tone. So completely agree, depends on context.

simsgirlgem
Guest

If you got the pipes yeah don’t dub but if you can’t carry a tune dub it

Andreu Martínez
Guest
Actually I’m pretty surprised cause I saw the Castilian (spanish from spain) Dub of beauty and the beast and all actors have two people dubbing them (except for lumiere), one for dialogues, one for songs. And people here went out of the cinema loving the film. Then i logged to see reviews form people and all English speaking countries were freaking out with a film that was pretty good in my opinion. Then I realized… the dub made the film much better. I usually like to see films again with the original voice but… now I’m really doubting if I… Read more »
ompalompa
Guest

Dubbing songs is quite interesting, since you often have to change the lyrics quite much (at least Finnish, since it’s so different from English) and because of that different parts of the movie may resonate with the audience.

I watched some youtube-videos with several comparisons, from different countries, with the same Disney-classics. Can’t remember the name, but some songs/singers, with vocals I don’t understand, managed to resonate with me better than the ones I knew.

“Let it go” from Frozen didn’t get THAT good of a version in Finland, I think…

Dasha
Guest

He’s mainly talking about dubbing bad English singers by using other English singers. A lot of songs simply don’t work once they’re translated into other languages. It’s unsurprising though, when a song is written in a language the writer never thinks ‘how would this work in Spanish or Dutch?’ I doubt Guantanamera would work in English.

Lotus Prince
Member

On one hand, dubbing will make the product’s quality better, but on the other hand, it comes off as disingenuous to the person who actually sang the song, as people might think that the person on screen did the job.

GodDangitBobby
Guest

While obviously not too much of the central focus of this video, I’m kinda surprised Kevin Spacey’s role as Bobby Darin in Beyond The Sea didn’t get any mention in this video.

While an average movie at best, I think a lot of people were flat out stunned Spacey had the pipes and talent to actually sing pretty damn well.

Raptor Rex
Guest

Does this even warrant it’s own episode? Sure, bad singers SHOULD be be dubbed, but this doesn’t need it’s own episode!

EDIT: I just watched the episode after posting… I need to ask questions before shooting. :/

Shinigami
Guest

Because actors are in front audience and they are faces that audience knows demands more from them than from any one else involved with movie. This also means that actors tend to get blame when movie is bad even when it’s not they fault at all.

TheSKARD1
Guest

Watching a character randomly breaking into song is awkward and takes me out of the moment anyway. I don’t understand musicals.

Cyndaquil
Guest

I think people need to be more forgiving of dubs; but for a completely different reason.

American movies are huge in China, while even the best Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, and Indian movies are hard to even find here. I could be wrong but my best guess is that we don’t have a middle ground between the snobs who demand subs and the lazy people who won’t read a movie.

I’d like to see a dub for “Belle et la bete (2014)”, “Shin Godzilla”, “Ring vs Grudge”, “Train to Busan”, “Kenshin (Trilogy)”, etc…

Cyndaquil
Guest

And Tomie! All the Tomie movies should get a dub. Even the cheesier “Tomie Unlimited.”

TragicGuineaPig
Guest
I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing here. This discussion is mostly about dubbing someone’s singing. As for translation dubs, I’m all for them. I can’t stand when people act all snobby over translations “not quite capturing the true essence of the original language.” So what? There are a lot of great translations of foreign works that brilliantly capture them, and even a few that surpass the originals. I’m a huge fan of Stein’s Gate myself, and while there is one scene that absolutely must be seen in Japanese (“Hey Mister! I AM MAD SCIENTIST IT’S SO KUUUULU!… Read more »
Dasha
Guest

Subtitling movies is fine. Not snobbish in the slightest. It’s perhaps more perplexing that the only alternative would then be ‘learn the language’ or ‘remake in English’. There is no middle ground because…there isn’t one. If you don’t understand the native language the alternatives are subtitles or remake it.

SpeedyEric
Guest

Sure, Doug. Keep pissing off your viewers with your hatred of movies that people actually like or love. That’ll not bring down your viewership lower than Trump’s approval rating. But seriously, keep the hatred to a minimum.

ShadowsTwilight
Guest

So you’re saying he should be dishonest about his opinions?

Omnipotentmonkeych
Guest

1. Butthurt.
2. You’re watching the Nostalgia CRITIC, and telling him it’s not his place to be CRITICAL? how exactly does that infantile logic work?
3. You’ve probably laughed and agreed as he’s ripped other well-liked movies in the past, The practice doesn’t need to change just because you personally like this one…. that’s called a double standard buddy.

TragicGuineaPig
Guest

So, what, are Trump comparisons the new “Godwin”?

K-Pepper
Guest

Where did he even say he hated any of these movies?

Dasha
Guest

When he quite deliberately snuck in a ‘it blows’ remark in order to provoke. Not saying I’m for or against that tbh, but there it is.

Dasha
Guest

What I find curious is that he deliberately courts it sometimes. He knows the Beauty and the Beast film is loved, but he hates it, so it has to be wheeled out and bashed extensively. If the singing in it is ‘bad’ then people who think so simply haven’t heard enough bad singers.

Most of it is deliberate, though. It’s his style.

randomdent
Guest

This reminds me of The Last Unicorn. Jeff’s character was meant to be shy and awkward and flawed so it made sense that his (not too bad actually) voice was used for the singing, but oh my gosh Mia should not have been allowed anywhere near the booth. Bless her she is not a singer and it’s so good that for the soundtrack album they got a professional in.

Guywhothinksstuff
Guest

No.

Bad singers should be recast.

(Generalisation, sure, much as there is nuance to the notion of dubbing – sometimes a ‘bad’ voice is fine for the role. But there isn’t actually a shortage of performers who could have managed Belle or Javert on screen – go see any West End or Broadway show to see there are those out there who are so much more than capable of either. Russell Crowe and Emma Watson have no place as leads in musicals.)

ErichoTTA
Guest

I am kind of weirded out by this. It seems silly, but it does make sense sometimes. “Beauty And The Beast” isn’t really that loved. It only has a rating of 70% on RottenTomatoes. That’s good, but not great. Oh yeah, the money it made.

Dasha
Guest

70% is pretty good considering the derision heaped on it from some quarters. The people that make most modern Hollywood movies would take 70%.

happymel
Guest

I haven’t seen the remade Beauty and the Beast yet. I think actors are having to sing more now because so many people hate things that are “fake”. It’s kinda like how people seem to hate photoshopping now. I don’t think dubbing is bad (same with photoshopping) but that’s my opinion. Plus, I actually liked Russell Crowe. LOL

McCooper
Guest
i think that this idea that lots of actors now have to be singers comes from the fact that lots of singers have now started to bleed into the world of acting (even if they may not be good at either). Consider the Disney child star phenomenon. You basically weren’t allowed to be part of a Disney Channel show if you didn’t have some sort of musical ability to bring. Now time has gone on, and people have grown up almost expecting this. It’s also from how popular musicals in television have become. Glee (while not being that great of… Read more »
Cinemalover18
Guest
Huh, the Rock always sounded fine to me…but like you said, it was probably the charm of the character and animation. I actually did enjoy the BatB remake, minor nitpicks and all, and you didn’t and I respect that; but, we can definitely meet in the middle with one thing: EMMA WATSON IS NOT A GOOD BELLE. I tried, I tried really hard not to compare her to the original, because I know that no one could be as endearing as she was, but the second Watson started singing… And was just the cherry on top of the reasons I… Read more »
slashmaster28
Guest

Yeah, I was surprised when I found out how many people considered The Rock a bad singer in the film because I thought he sounded awesome. Guess it helps that the song was written specifically for him.

K-Pepper
Guest

Heh, yeah, the first thing my husband said was “Hey, the Rock’s a pretty good singer” when we watched this, and we both had the song stuck in our head the rest of the day.

TragicGuineaPig
Guest
It depends: if the work in question depends on their musical ability, then no, absolutely not! You should cast people who can sing if that’s what you want them to do, instead of just getting someone who happens to be prettier. This is the phenomenon I like to call “The Milli Vanilli Effect”: in essence, you’re giving undue credit to someone who really isn’t capable of even deserving it. On the other hand, if the role in question doesn’t depend on their singing ability, then by all means. If you need a great character actor to pull off a part,… Read more »
TragicGuineaPig
Guest

I’m going to say it, because it needs to be said: Emma Watson may not be as great an actress as people have been led to believe. Frankly, I would think that if an actor or actress can’t at least make their bad singing seem believable, it can only be because their acting isn’t up to par, either.

Legal_Assassin
Guest

You compared dubbing to using special effects, but I think a better comparison is using stuntpeople. Some actors like Tom Cruise or Jackie Chan do their own stunts, which is admirable, but not everyone is capable of doing that. Sometimes the best thing for an actor to do is step aside and let a professional do their job. Though, to be fair, there’s more risk in letting someone do their own stunts than there is in letting someone sing.

TragicGuineaPig
Guest

That is true: when an actor tries to do his own stunt and it goes wrong, the actor gets hurt. But when an actor tries to sing and it goes wrong, We All Hurt.

Bar
Guest

Love your emperor impression

Cirra
Guest

Agreed. With the little bitty arms. XD

sign_ninja
Guest
You know, it is pretty odd that they do that when it comes to full on musicals they give the chance for the stars to sing (even though they can’t) but in a musical adventure flick it can happen on a dime. What’s the difference between a Musical and a Musical Adventure? Simple, the amount of singing. Musicals like Phantom, Le Mis, etc have to gamble that their stars can actually sing, if not it becomes a running gag and can hurt the movie in the long run. In a musical adventure like most Disney movies the singing is a… Read more »
TakeruDavis
Guest

Funny you brought up The Rock singing in Moana. I just watched that movie yesterday and I was actually thinking, “Hey, didn’t know Rock was such a singer.” Because yeah, that enthusiasm sold totally sold the song for me. I was humming it the whole today too 😀

Kingofthedragons27
Guest
Some thoughts: -Dwayne Johnson’s singing is actually fairly solid? Tone and breath could use a bit of work, but as far as I’m concerned, his pitch was absolutely fine. -If Audrey Hepburn’s voice lived up to Doug’s standards of “good”, I’m not sure how at least half of the other actors mentioned in this video don’t. -I even think Russell Crowe wasn’t bad in parts of Les Miserables. When he’s singing in his comfort zone, he can be pretty tuneful, but Javert is a baritone role, and Crowe is a straight-up bass, and not cut out for musical theatre. -Lee… Read more »
Cirra
Guest

I know… Gerard Butler. I saw a live Phantom performed in LA who wasn’t the tenor of Michael Crawford from the original recording, but he had power and tone and emotion all together and people loved him all the same. Sadly, only one performance for him and I’ve lost the pamphlet from 23 years ago, so I don’t know his name…but glad he got the work.

TheGreenMan
Guest

So why can I not watch any of these NC videos for the first 2 or 3 days after they come out?

mduncan50
Guest

I think it’s better to compare it to stunt work rather than special effects. We know that it’s usually not the actor taking big falls or doing fights, it’s all about replacing them with someone that’s a believable fill-in, then doing your best to hide the trick.

Tiago
Guest

Not a single nod to 1996’s Woody Allen’s “Everyone says I love you”?
Perhaps the worst music I’ve seen in movies all my life…
In contrast, 2016’s Sing Street is just awesome and I really have no idea how much of that is sang and how much is dubbed…

Angryatthecritic666
Guest

I object to his opinion on emma watson and the rock, they have nice voices. You are stupid critic and I’m gonna kick your ass

Cirra
Guest

with a name and a threat like that, you must be…13 years?

Jvill
Guest

Belle singing was alright, I mean I am not a huge expert in singing or anything so that not saying much, but come on Gaston singing was way more awful. Granted he barely sang, but it was still terrible.

JRDzencelowcz
Guest

I was never much of a B&tB fan, so when I saw the remake, my reaction was the same as before: it’s not my bag, but it was still good.

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