Entertainment & Culture
When Singers Are #DoingTooMuch: The Greatest DTM Singers Of All Time

Some people go too far. They are the couple who have a dance routine for the nightclub. They are guys who “set out a step” at their frat brother’s funeral. They are the family whose yard’s Christmas decorations look like they were designed by a laser light specialist from Star Wars. Someone is always #DoingTooMuch

When God, The Universe, or Stephen Curry (wait… I already said God) was handing out singing talent, there were people at the back of the line who got smaller portions or none at all. I can’t sing at all, but I love to sing… loud. I do not blame this on God or Fate, because I have caused these kinds of shortages before. When I was in High School my friends and I figured out a way to actually get the disinterested lunch ladies to serve us extra helpings of foodIt was a complicated plot that involved intricate planning. Here’s how it worked:

We simply got in line twice.

It was just that simple. You keep going back until they run out of the food you like.

That’s exactly what happened with the #DoingTooMuch singers. They are the reason why I can’t sing. Everybody likes to sing, but the DTMs are the reason my singing voice screeches like my throat needs brand new brakes and rotors.  DTMs are the crooners who stood in line twice when God was handing out musical talent and got extra helpings. You know the singers who are always “doing too much.” It doesn’t mean they can’t sing–in fact they usually have great voices–it just means they can’t temper their talent. DTM singers are always  on ten. They turn the national anthem into a display of verbal gymnastics. They do 137 vocal runs while singing happy birthday. They love to warble They are singing show-offs–which is why we had to run down the greatest DTM singers of all time

6. Jennifer Hudson – While Jennifer Hudson is one of the most powerful new voices to emerge from American Idol, I often ask myself “does she always have to holler?” She sings every song at the same decibel pitch. Well, I may be wrong about that, because I have never listened to an entire JHud album–not because I don’t like her music, but because I’m afraid she would bust the speakers in my car. I have a theory: I don’t remember anyone doing it to me, but I recently realized there are a lot of parents never taught their kids how to whisper. the ability to moderate your voice is not something that you automatically know. I have seen Jennifer in three movie roles, countless interviews and numerous television performances and I have never heard her whisper. Maybe she just doesn’t know to not be on fleek at every moment. Perhaps she was raised in an environment where everyone screamed at the top of their lungs and wrote in all caps. With Jennifer Hudson its just not about volume. She incorporates neck rolls, eye rolls and finger waving into her performance because… she does too much. Every time I see her sing live I image her movements are exactly what Wilona did when she was in the booth recording the theme for “Good Times.” (I know you’re saying, “her name was Janet Dubois.” You’re wrong. Black America changed her name. She may be “Janet” at the bank and the voting booth, but when she goes to the beauty salon, I bet everyone in there calls her “Wilona–” unless she has an asian who does her nails and eyebrows, in which case, they call her “Beyonce.”) Wilona was one of the first actresses/singers who did too much (Black America still debates if she was watching the asphalt road, roll or grow) so Jennifer is following in very legendary footsteps.

5. Johnny Gill – Make no mistake–Johnny Gill can sing his ass off, but he be doing too much! I went to see New Edition when Johnny Gill first replaced Bobby Brown, and all I can remember was how hard he was dancing. That motherfucker was soaked after the first song! By the time they got to NE Heartbreak he was drenched in Johnny Gill grease (come on, son, don’t act like you never noticed how greasy Johnny is). I’m sure Ronnie, Ralph, Ricky, and Mike had second thoughts after the first show when they saw how much Jheri curl juice he had flung everywhere. That’s a real health hazard. And Johnny sings harder than he dances. I bet when he sees a beautiful woman (or man–I don’t judge…) and sings “my, my, my,” I’m sure they are startled at first because it’s so aggressively loud and scatty. Johnny Gill will scat and perform vocal triple lutzes while singing any song. He supposedly got his start in church, and I bet it took him an hour to sing any hymn because he wanted Jesus to “keepity-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-ke-keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep him near the cross.” Plus, with the amount of Vaseline and Carmex he puts on his lips, when combined with the petroleum products in the S-curl activator, Duke’s hair grease and the skin lotion that he used (which is so shiny, I can only assume it derived from rendered whale blubber), scientists at Greenpeace estimate that Johnny Gill is responsible for the use 21.094% of the world’s fossil fuels. He’s does too mu-mu-mu-mu-muuuuch.

4. Fantasia Barrino- Another American Idol winner who does too much. I love Fantasia, and lord knows she can blow, but Fantasia needs to make better song choices. It is not that Fantasia can’t sing, or even that she sings too loud–it’s that she sings everything–whether the song is about sex, relationships or partying–like she is leading praise and worship service at a Pentecostal church.  I don’t even fuck with her because Fancy’s voice is so raw and powerful it actually touches your soul, and I don’t want to catch the Holy Ghost in the middle of the club or while I’m driving. One time I was making love when a Fantasia song came on, and the woman saw tears rolling down my face and thought she had me “pu**ywhipped.” She just didn’t know–I was simply praising His holy name.


3. Teddy Pendergrass – Teddy’s DTM credentials doesn’t come from his volume alone–but his intensity. Especially his sexual intensity. Whatever Teddy Pendergrass sings about, you are going to do. I read somewhere in an article that was never written that light bulb sales dropped 37% when Turn Out The Lights  was released. Teddy’s voice sounds like Black & Milds and fucking on the couch. He does so much that when he invites you to come and go with him to his place, you don’t even argue at his offers of a glass of “cold, cold wine” (by the way, you know he’s going to pull his dick out on the way over to his house right?). Teddy just seems like he gets down like that, because he’s a passionate man and you just do what Teddy says. If Trey Songz told you to turn out the lights, you’d ask why, but when Teddy says it, you just do that shit.

2. The lady on your church choir – You know who I’m talking about. There is one lady at every church who does too much. All church services are–on average–18 minutes and 38 seconds longer because of this lady doing so much–especially when there’s a good football game coming on after service. She doesn’t necessarily have the best voice on the choir, but she has that fire-baptized tone so she leads all the songs. And she always sings for a loonnnong time. She does one part of the song over and over again. Then she ad libs. Then she adds a verse she made up at home last night. Then she repeats the chorus. Then she does it one time a capella. Then she freestyles a verse about Jesus being a doctor for the sick and a bank when you can’t pay rent. Then she lets the keyboard player have a solo. Then the Black Holy Ghost comes. Now the  they’re shouting, and the game is going to start, so you tip out. You don’t leave an offering because… that’s their fault for doing too much

 1 . Patti LaBelle – The greatest #DTM Singer of all time. Patti LaBelle can take a 3 minute song and turn it into a one-hour exposition of vocal gymnastics. She scats, changes octaves, switches keys, freestyles, tells stories within the song and does it all with more energy than most performers years younger. Miss LaBelle’s career spans 50 years, which means there are twentysomethings right now who are quietly thinking “Patti LaBelle can get it…” whose grandfathers thought the same thing. One of the entertainment industry’s best-kept secrets is that the reason Patti still looks so young is that she is actually an ageless angel who came to earth one day to share a sweet potato pie recipe, and decided to stay. The reason she flaps her arms like that is because she occasionally forgets she no longer has wings. But she does too much. Even in the way she dresses. First of all, every woman who attends a Holiness, COGIC, Pentecostal or any church where they play “shouting music” is required to own at least one of those flying saucer church hats Patti made popular in the 90’s. Then she always takes off her heels during a performance. Why, Patti? You’re an icon. We’d love her even if she came out in a terrycloth robe and some house shoes. Everyone would still come see her, and I do mean “everyone.” Just go to a show and check out her audiences. Her crowds are filled with older black women in the “over 50 outfit”–leather skirt,  leopard print blouse and dark or fishnet stockings. Then she has a huge gay following who dress in peacock outfits, feather boas and rhinestone tiaras. Then there are relatively young people who discovered her on YouTube. Patti is louder than Jennifer Hudson, performs harder than Johnny Gill, has more Holy Ghost in her voice than Fantasia and is more intense than Teddy Pendergrass. She’s the queen of #DoingTooMuch…

But somehow, I can’t get enough.

Honorable Mentions: Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Brian McKnight

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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