Seemingly every week, there are reports of different singers or rappers not remembering song lyrics during a concert. Although I can understand that this catches people’s attention, I have never understood why such a big deal is made of it.
Singers often have a big repertoire to remember, and are also concentrating on their performance and probably 100 other details we don’t notice from the hall.
Musician/photographer Bill King has an interesting perspective on it here. I thought his comments on remembering lyrics are particularly interesting.
“I truly think memorizing lyrics is about clearing the head and concentrating. As I said, I find this too much for me – yet it’s never a stress issue. Some people have [a] big memory and can look at a full page and retain. I look at a page and I see the binder clamps.
Lately, I’ve gotten really pissed at myself for relying on music and just listen and play along, over and over and find I retain so much easier. Another practice is reading the lyrics by themselves and really getting a true understanding of what’s being expressed. Next, go slowly with words and notes to hear the match-up.”
This last point is important. When is the last time you have taken the words of a song and read them through to see what sorts of meanings are there? Remember, there might be more than one – and meaning could give rise to a fresh, new interpretation to a song lyric.
For other tips, see learn to sing like a pro