Wrong Man For The Job
Have you ever been in a situation where everything just seemed to “click”?
You’re at the right place, right time, and everything feels… Right!
Like a perfect storm of awesome!
Well, this isn’t about that.
It’s about the opposite.
How do you know when you’re the wrong man for the job?
Let’s look at a recent example (imho) from the media…
Last month, Bob Dylan released his new album “Shadows in the Night“, a collection of 10 show tunes (mostly), previously sung by Frank Sinatra.
Bob Dylan. Show Tunes. Frank Sinatra.
What could possibly go wrong?
Look… I like Dylan’s work. I like Sinatra. Heck, I even like show tunes.
But like ice cream, fish and ketchup – put them together and you get something truly horrifying.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that both Dylan and Sinatra have done some amazing things.
This album is not one of them. It leaves a bad taste in my ears (yes, it’s that bad).
So, why doesn’t it work?
Let’s be frank: Sinatra wasn’t the greatest singer. He didn’t have to be. His style and feel for the music made him a perfect match. Iconic.
As for Dylan, well… even though his voice sounds like someone strangling moldy bagpipes, it too was suited to the songs he sung. He’s more of a poet. And he is also iconic.
The combination is just wrong.
Let’s take an objective, comparative listen.
Here’s “Full Moon and Empty Arms” by Frank Sinatra, Robert Goulet, and Bob Dylan:
So, what’s the lesson here? How can you tell when you’re the wrong man for the job?
From Dylan’s AARP interview about the album (yes, AARP, and the only interview he gave), it’s obvious that he is a huge Sinatra fan. That’s fine. However, just because you like or enjoy something doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at it. It’s a harsh reality in the arts that I’m sure we all see every day. Someone really wants to be in action films, or a painter, or to do voices in cartoons. I get it. The love and desire is obvious. It’s also just as obvious when it’s a complete mismatch.
The key is to rely on a combination of self-awareness and the advice from others you trust. Be open to criticism. Build your skills where they are lacking. But also know when you may be just hitting your head against the wall.
Sometimes, it’s best to quit.
It allows you to be free to pursue other things that are better suited to your innate talents.
Good luck out there…
I was so sure I had something to add to this. When I got to the end I was also quite sure you said it all. Nice.
Thanks, Bob. Always good to hear from a pro!
Very true and painful to hear or see in the movies. Even more painful when you are miscast in a role. You didn’t talk about this issue as we face it as VO/VOCs. It would be interesting to hear your take on that situation.
You’re right, Steve.
I think it’s a huge topic for VO’s to discuss. (probably a bit too big for a blog)
Everything from the casting directions, to talent choices, to client needs, the session, and the mixing. Each step of the process has to make good choices or else the final product will be thrown off.
The most we can do as actors is to be honest about ourselves and our abilities. And raise the issues when we see them. And even excuse ourselves if it’s a total mismatch.
… but how often does *that* happen! 😉