YouTube’s Undiscovered – Lianne Binnington
I have just been watching the X Factor’s first live show in a last ditch attempt to finally be wowed by one of the ‘lucky’ contestants who made it through to the final stage. Aside from two outstanding cover performances (the first, an impressive cover of Take That’s ‘Rule The World’ by 16 year old Ella Henderson and Melanie Masson’s powerful cover of the Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’), I started to feel like the competition had become too commercially and aesthetically driven. Then Lucy Spraggan and her guitar appeared on stage with her original song ‘Mountains’, with her beautifully written lyrics and natural raw talent. So this week I gave myself the task to find someone like Lucy, hiding away in the depths of social media. And I found someone – Lianne.
Lianne is a 17 year old singer-songwriter who, like Lucy, seems to have grown an extra limb – her guitar. She is extremely proficient in creating interesting chordal accompaniments to cover many a hit song such as Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’, as well as those musical gems which have been tucked away (think Corinne Bailey Rae’s ‘Put Your Records On’). She began uploading to YouTube 2 years ago and her distinctive style in both appearance and sound has kept the online viewers watching, with her cover of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ garnering over a million views.
But wow has her voice developed over that time! Her first cover, the iconic ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ begins with two beautifully sustained and pure notes before we are given a taste of what is to come in future recordings – her lower range, raw and unyielding, yet in the context of this song seems a perfect contrast to the wistful high notes (I am now pleasantly reflecting on the last chorus repetition when she hits the climactic note on ‘dream’ and it resonates with such clarity). She is telling a story and it is one that I am very able and willing to believe.
Fast forward a year and to Lianne’s original song ‘Without You’. So this is where her voice was leading her to, a natural accented sound that still retains that emotional purity from her earlier recordings. She really makes use of her lower, earthy range and constructs extensive melismas which gradually ascend until the peak at which the delicate high notes are carefully placed at the ends of phrases. Demi Lovato’s ‘Skyscraper’ is Lianne’s most recent upload and it clearly showcases her entire vocal tessitura and emotion. The chorus is extremely poignant, as each line includes a ‘throw away’ high note which she rises and falls from effortlessly (think ‘you can take everything I have’).
Lianne’s voice is definitely one which I will be following – it is the combination of raw vocal talent, clever and tuneful use of her range and the contrast between a pure and a more earthy singing style which gives her a unique edge. Most people can sing covers but not everyone can make them their own, either by cleverly crafting the vocal line or by creating a stripped-back accompaniment to allow the voice to shine. I’m sure we will be hearing more from Lianne, an artist in her own right, without the need for commercial talent packages, photo shoots and gossip mags.