Tyler Collins, who had a Top 5 single last summer with "Girls Nite Out," was singing a different tune during a recent interview at a West Hollywood restaurant: the "I Don't Get No Respect" blues.
Dance-music singers are wailing it all the time--particularly beautiful young women like Collins. Their gripe: No matter how many hits they have, people don't take them seriously.
"Having a hit is nice but it's over very quickly," Collins, 23, explained. "If you want longevity, people have to perceive you as someone with talent."
"Girls Nite Out" is the title song from her debut RCA album, which consists of typical dance-music fare. On most of the songs her voice does sound weak and tinny. But the album, she said, isn't a good showcase for her voice.
"The album is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I want the next one to be more focused, to show on more tracks what I can do vocally. Most of the songs on this album aren't representative of how I can sing. But if you listen to the album, I do sing well on some songs."
She has a point. On the ballad "Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt," Collins shows some range and feeling--though she could stand to generate more power.
Collins realizes where she needs to improve as a vocalist: "I'm a straight singer, more straight than I care to be--just sticking to melody and the beat, not deviating much. I need more character in my singing--more shades and coloring. I need to be more like Aretha Franklin. My style is hindering me. I need to break out of it. I want to be a more interesting singer."
Collins learned to sing that way when she was working as a demo vocalist--making tapes for songwriters, who like a song performed exactly as it's written. Singing demos, though, eventually paid off. Two years ago an RCA executive, impressed by her vocals on some demos, offered her a record deal.
Born in Harlem and raised in Detroit, Collins started out to be a dancer--and even now regards herself as a dancer first. "I started in dance class when I was about 8," she recalled. "I studied jazz dancing for nine years and ballet for six and a half. There's a feeling I get when I'm dancing that I don't get when I'm singing."
However, since getting sidetracked into singing Collins has had almost no time for dancing. "Sometimes," she lamented, "I feel like part of me is missing."