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Hard Songs To Sing: “Blank Space”

Taylor swift and Sean O’Pry in the music for “Blank Space”, by Josephlalrinhlua786, under CC BY-SA 4.0

Even though our last song in our Hard Songs To Sing Collection, “Shake It Off,” was also a Taylor Swift Song, I decided to write about another Taylor song, “Blank Space,” since it’s widely requested by our students right now. Plus writing about “Blank Space” means I have an excuse to guiltlessly listen to it over and over again without feeling like I need to move on to something more edifying. Compared to monsters like “Chandelier,” “Blank Space” doesn’t rank very high in terms of difficulty, but it certainly does pose some challenges in the chorus and bridge.

Why is This Song Hard?

1. The chorus forces you to end lines on relatively high “r” words, a rough consonant to control.
2. The C5 on “Got a long list” and “Cause you know” is higher than some singers can belt comfortably.
3. The line, “You love the game,” is high but has to be powerful to be convincing.
4. The end of the bridge, ending in “warn ya” ends on a sustained C5.

Instant Gratification

1. Rather than drawing out the “er” sound in the words forever and over, try sustaining the words on an “euh” sound and greatly softening the “r.” The results should sound more like “foreveu” and “oveuh.”
2. On the line “You love the game,” try adding an “EE” sound to the word you, making it sound more like “yeeeeaow.” On the word game, you can either try modifying it to an “A” sound (as in cat,) or an “EE” sound. Both should be a little easier to sustain than the “AY” sound. The “A” vowel will give you more of a belty sound, while the “EE” will give you more of a heady ring, but both vowels will be bright enough to give you some much-needed power. Try them both and figure out which one feels better on your voice.
3. If the sustained ya at the end of the bridge is feeling throaty, consider modifying it to “yeuh.”

Not-So-Instant Gratification

1. Work on head voice.

In order to make the higher parts of the chorus more manageable, try working on your head tones. Instead of trying to pull up to the notes on “Got a long list of ex-lovers,” try sighing from the top of your voice downward to those notes, as if you’re imitating a siren. Try some downward scales, beginning somewhere higher than C5 and working your way down. This will teach you to relax into the notes and build a little strength in the upper part of your range.

2. Work on your belt mix.

In order to keep the line, “You love the game,” from sounding too shrill or too sweet, it’s best to develop a solid belt mix. Sing arpeggios on “NAY NAY NAY,” over time working to sing a powerful C5.

Have any other parts of “Blank Space” you could use some help with, or have a request for a Hard Songs To Sing tutorial? Let us know in the comments section, and we’d be happy to help out.

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