Rachel Platten 08-20-2015-5, by Justin Higuchi, under CC BY 2.0
Rachel Platten’s latest hit, “Stand By You,” is an uplifting, catchy pop song that doesn’t seem particularly difficult until you try to sing it. Like her previous hit, Fight Song, “Stand By You” mostly falls in a range that’s pretty high for most people to comfortably belt but too low to not just sound anticlimactic in head voice. Throw in that high note in the bridge, and you’ve definitely got yourself something that belongs in this Hard Songs to Sing collection.
Why Is This Song Hard?
1. It’s in an Uncomfortable Range For Many People
That upper middle range is great for throwing out a few power notes, but not so great for having to sing almost an entire song in. It can be an extremely taxing area of your voice.
2. It Goes Really High for a Pop Song
That high F#5 at the end of the bridge on the word “I” is hard to make convincing.
3. It Requires Shifting into Head Voice
Throughout the song, there are various places that you’ll need to shift from middle voice into a head voice, like the “you” at 1.11.
Thin Your Vowels
Thin vowels tend to maneuver better in your upper-middle range. You can sing “make” as maeke”; “kaleidoscopes” can be “kal-a-disceuhps.” Love can be “leuve.” “Broken can be “brooken.” You get the idea!
Lighten Up on Your Mix
Singing too heavy in this song is most likely going to wear you out. I’m not saying you have to go into your head voice, but unless you’re just born with a high, heavy belt, you’ll probably be more comfortable thinking of the sound as a very light call and not as a Kelly Clarkson belt.
Modify the “I” in the Bridge
For most people, the roughest note in this song is going to be the F#5 on the “I” at the end of the bridge at 2.49. Modify the F#5 to an “A” (as in cat) and make a face that looks like you’re biting an apple. The sound should feel very bright and forward, whether you’re belting or not. To get a little extra back resonance, open the sound up to more of an “UH” on the E5 at the end of the little run. The sound should feel like it’s going back and up just a little bit.
This song is one of the harder pop songs we’ve talked about and requires a lot of not-so-instant gratification. It uses a light, but still commercial-sounding mixed voice, a full-on head voice, and a very high climactic note at the end of the bridge.
Develop a Light but Commercial Mix
Try vocalizing on a buzzy hum. Where you shift registers is less important than keeping a lot of forward resonance. You can imagine that you’re imitating a squeaky violin, or a whining puppy dog.
Work on a Lot of Twang and Chest Resonance
Arpeggiate on an “A” (as in cat). Imitate a cackling witch or a quacking duck to get a nice twangy sound.
Develop a Light Head Voice
Sing 5-note descending scales on an “OOH” sound. Stay very light and imagine the sound coming from your head, as if you’re lightly falling onto the notes instead of pulling up to them.
Have a song you’d like to see a Hard Songs to Sing tutorial on? Let us know in the comments below!