In part two of the IELTS speaking test, you will be asked to describe something or someone. It is impossible to predict who or what this might be, but one possibility is a cue card that says “describe your favourite singer.”
In today’s lesson, I am going to show you how to do that by giving you some useful language to use and also my own sample band 9 answer.
Cue Card: Describe your Favourite Singer
Obviously, there are many different possible cue cards and even one that asks about your favourite singer may have many possible variations. It could say “describe your favourite singer” or “describe your favourite musician.” You need to read the cue card closely before making a choice and preparing an answer.
Here is one possibility:
Describe your favourite singer.
You should say:
– who this singer is
– what type of songs he/she sings
– what type of people listen to his/her songs
and explain why he/she is your favourite singer.
Here are the key things to note:
- It must be a singer (ie not a guitarist or pianist)
- You must describe the person a little
- You must describe their music a little
- The bullet points also ask about their fans
- You must explain your reasoning
This is a lot to include, but that’s ok – it will help you to speak for at least one minute. Try to view it as a bonus and don’t worry if you run out of time before you have said everything. It really doesn’t matter as long as you use good English and your answer is coherent.
Planning your Answer
When you get the cue card, you need to immediately begin thinking about your response. The best idea is to quickly choose a singer to describe, then note down some ideas of things to talk about. Don’t waste time choosing between good singers and instead utilise your time carefully.
I would pick the singer Bob Dylan because his name is the first that comes to mind. Perhaps there are people who are easier to talk about, but with just one minute to prepare, you really don’t have time to debate it.
I would quickly make a few notes about things to talk about based upon the cue card and also anything else that seems relevant to me:
- protest songs
Those are just a few words that would help me to provide a good answer. They might not make much sense to you… but the important thing is that your notes guide you through the response by reminding you of ideas and vocabulary.
Vocabulary About Singers
Let’s now look at some vocabulary to help you describe your favourite singer. For a more general lesson on IELTS and music, you can click here.
First of all, here are some ways to talk about singers so that you don’t repeat that word over and over. Note that these are not always direct synonyms and so you must think carefully before choosing:
Note that “frontman” is only used for men and thus could not be applied to a female singer, whilst a “crooner” is a specific type of singer. It is also not typically viewed as flattering, so it may not be appropriate for your “favourite” one.
Other words that could be useful:
|Voice||She has one of the most impressive voices that I’ve ever heard.|
|Vocals||He manages even the most challenging vocals night after night.|
|Lyrics||She writes all her own lyrics, which is actually quite rare.|
|Belt out||He belts out each song with an immense amount of enthusiasm.|
|Range||Honestly, the most impressive thing about her is her range.|
|Deep||He has a really deep voice that is immediately recognisable.|
|High||She hits all the high notes so naturally that you’d think she was born to do it.|
|Strut||He always struts confidently around the stage.|
|Serenade||The audience just loves it when he serenades them with an old hit.|
There are of course many more words you could use and it honestly depends on the singer and the genre of music. You would use different language for describing a heavy metal singer and a rapper, for example.
Here are a few examples of famous singers, with useful phrases highlighted.
- Kurt Cobain was the lead singer of Nirvana, a Seattle grunge band that was immensely important in the 1990s. He was famous for his raspy voice and deep lyrics. His angsty songs conveyed a depth of emotion that resonated across generations but were often misunderstood.
- Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest American songwriters, whose work has remained popular for nearly half a century. His inimitable voice shines through despite his work in different musical genres and his songs explore an array of themes that explore contemporary American life.
- Rihanna has a beautiful but powerful singing voice with an impressive vocal range. She manages to infuse her songs with deep and throaty notes yet also hit the high notes when needed. Most importantly, though, her songs convey strong emotions that appeal to her fanbase.
- Amy Winehouse was famous for her unique singing style. Her voice was incredibly deep for a woman and she used this to craft immensely powerful songs. She fused soul and jazz styles into her own brilliant form on many iconic hits.
Ok, now let’s see how I would answer the above cue card:
Sample Band 9 Answer
Many years ago, a friend introduced me to the music of Bob Dylan and I instantly fell in love with it. It was not just the music, but the enigmatic character of the singer himself that captivated me. Despite having been one of the world’s most famous musicians for more than a half century, it seems that almost no one knows anything about him. The man is a mystery to all but those closest to him.
Dylan shot to fame in the 1960s as a folk singer whose protest songs captured the imagination of a generation. He put out record after record, constantly baffling listeners with his confusing lyrics. His music has such depth that there are now legions of “Dylanologists”* devoted to deciphering his songs, but no one definitely knows what they mean because he never explains them. He lets his art stand on its own, which is rare nowadays.
Through the decades, Dylan has released songs and even albums that span genres and defy expectations, with his most unusual perhaps being a collection of Christmas songs. He is beloved by millions of people around the world and has penned more hits than almost anyone else in history, with even covers of his songs becoming classics in their own right.
For his musical brilliance, the range of his style, his personal integrity, and the sense of mystery he has shrouded himself in, I am constantly in awe at this man and that is why he is my favourite singer.
*This word means people who study Dylan’s lyrics. The “-ologist” part means it is treated like a science.
You can listen to my answer in this video:
As usual, I decided to start this answer with a personal note rather than a formulaic introduction. This helped me to move naturally into a description that covered everything in the cue card but in an organic way.
I have used some challenging vocabulary but nothing outrageous or obscure. Remember that it is important to be accurate in your word use and using random words from the dictionary will never help you. Words like “enigmatic” helped me to describe Dylan but they do not apply to everyone.
Importantly, I captured his style and personality and dealt with his musical range. I talked about folk and protest songs, as well as his confusing lyrics. All of this is more interesting than just saying “he’s a good songwriter” over and over, which many IELTS candidates tend to do.
Nothing here was particularly “advanced” except that it was specific and relevant, which is the most important thing. I’ve also avoided repeating myself and given my answer a natural introduction and conclusion, which is really helpful.