Tom Waits

When I think of a captivating voice, I begin thinking of a voice that immediately draws my attention in any situation. My first thought was of Tom Waits’s voice. His voice, though, is not main-stream captivating in the sense that it is an appealing, positive, or pretty voice. Instead, I argue that Waits's voice is captivating because the listener experiences an uncomfortable intimacy when listening to the guttural, raspy voice combined with an obscure, eerie atmosphere that he produces.

Tom Waits is an American singer-songwriter and performer. He is most well-known for his guttural, gravelly voice. He accentuates this raspy voice in many of his songs by switching from a modal, raspy voice to a vocal fry. This combination of raspy voice and vocal fry makes him sound as if he is growling in many of his songs. Furthermore, the listener may even feel Wait's voice is an intrusion as there is sibilance heard in many of his lyrics, giving the impression that he is speaking or singing very close to the listener. This intimacy makes the listener uncomfortable as Waits's voice is growly and unsettling, and he generally sings of dark, sketchy, or disquieting themes. This intrusion of a spooky, powerful voice that appears close captivates the listener and is also what makes Waits's voice consequently a captivating voice.

The above link is Tom Waits singing "Hell Broke Luce" from his album Bad as Me. This song is an example of Waits's voice, and in it he uses many of the vocal qualities described above to unsettle the listener. Consequently he draws the listener’s attention and becomes a captivating voice.