Do Fat People Sing Better? (Yep, Start Eating…)

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I’ve always been a fan of opera. One of my all-time favorite singers is the late, great Luciano Pavarotti. His version of “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot is one of my all-time favorite musical performances. He was also not a small man, reportedly weighing between 300 and 400 pounds for most of his adult life.

If a performing arts genre is entirely music-based and most of those singers tend to be overweight, it would logically follow that fat people make the best singers, right? All my life, I’ve heard that this was the case. Is that stereotype true, though?

Since opera is an entirely singing-based art form, let’s take a look at it real quick and see what we can learn. Then, we’ll get into whether or not fat people really do make better singers.

Are All Opera Singers Fat?

First, let’s dispel the myth that all opera singers are fat. Opera is actually one of the more inclusive mediums for people of our size but not all of them have the weight that the stereotype would suggest.

Jose Carreras

For example, let’s look at the opera Nabucco by Verdi. It’s one of the more popular entries in the genre and is probably most famous for one of its arias or songs called “Va, Pensiero”, also known as “The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”. I wasn’t alive in 587 BC when it was set but I don’t think there were a lot of fat servants back then.

Another example is Bizet’s Carmen, which is probably the most famous opera of all time. Even if you’re not familiar with it, the odds are very good that you’ve heard its two most famous tunes, or at least parodies of them, Habañera and The Toreador Song. Carmen is specifically written as a poor cigarette girl living in Spain and specifically needs to look thin for the opera to work as written.

That being said, there are also a lot of parts in operas for people who look more like me. The character of Sir John Falstaff appears in several operas and in the Shakespeare plays on which those were based, his entire character is “the funny fat guy”.

So, no, not all opera singers are fat but some of them can be. The fact that there are so many fat people who perform in the medium suggests that we must be good singers, too, right?

Are Fat People Better Singers?

That’s a difficult question to answer because singing is pretty subjective. What I think is good singing could be very different from what you think is good.

However, there are a few things that can influence someone’s ability to sing well.

According to a study conducted a few years ago, that belief may be scientifically accurate. The study took 29 women of various weights and compared their vocal abilities, pitch ranges, and aerodynamics with regard to singing.

The study revealed that the women with higher BMIs had stronger singing abilities in those three categories than those who were classified as average weight or underweight. In other words, they were able to sing louder and at a larger vocal range than the other participants in the study. This suggests that, yes, fat people do have the ability to be better singers than people who weigh less.

A Scientific Analysis of Singing and Weight

Again, I’d like to clarify that just being fat doesn’t automatically make you sing like Pavarotti. Singing well requires a lot of practice and training. Having a good natural singing voice is a great start but it takes a lot of hard work and practice to do it professionally.

After all, Taylor Swift (the greatest singer of all time…) has been making music for years and still has a vocal coach.

That being said, it has long been theorized that people with bigger chests are able to sing better than their thinner counterparts. Everyone who has ever taken a singing lesson or had a friend in school who took a Choir class has been told to sing from their diaphragm (the skeletal muscle that runs below the lungs) and not from the back of their throat.

If the ability to sing well comes from using one’s diaphragm, it would stand to reason that having a larger diaphragm would result in better singing. By better singing, I’m talking about objective factors like being able to sing louder and hit a wider variety of notes.

Of course, vocal training is important if you want to sing professionally. Having a larger frame can definitely help you get a good start but it isn’t everything. Adele lost 100 pounds and still sings just as well as she used to when she was bigger.

Final Thoughts

Although being a “good” singer is mostly subjective, there are a few objective aspects to singing that make up the line between a decent singer and a good one. These include the range of notes that the singer can successfully hit and how loud a person’s singing voice can get.

By these objective methods, fat people do generally make better singers. Of course, that doesn’t account for training or practice. A person who weighs less but has taken the steps to learn how to sing professionally will very likely be a better singer than the average fat person who is just trying to sing along with one of their favorite tunes.

Some people also aren’t cut out to be singers for whatever reason. Look at Pierce Brosnan, a very successful and talented actor. The entire combined forces of Hollywood vocal training couldn’t help him to a good singing performance in Mamma Mia! back in 2008. However, he’s also won multiple acting awards and has many other talents. Singing just isn’t one of them.

That being said, singing poorly can still be funny. William Shatner never won any Grammys but most people remember his rendition of the Elton John song “Rocket Man”. If you don’t like the way you sing, consider leaning into the joke and singing poorly on purpose.

I once knew a guy who liked to sing but recognized that he was terrible at it. He was a little overweight but he just didn’t have a good voice. He chose to entertain people at parties by singing a falsetto version of Rainbow Connection in a Kermit the Frog voice. It was hilarious and even the most boring social gathering became a great time.

Whether you want to be a pop singer, an opera star, or just entertain your friends and family at parties, you can do it! Good luck to you and never give up!

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