Have you ever listened to a top music artist and wondered why they sound so good – or maybe not so good?
Take singing tips from famous singers. Lessons, aligned posture, hydration and a healthy diet are just some of the positive vocal habits of famous artists. These provide the likes of Beyonce and Lady Gaga career longevity and improved sound.
Read on to find out who would benefit from working on their habits, and whose practices have helped them go from strength to strength.
Singing tips from famous singers
The vocal habits of famous singers are very revealing. They can come from training, individual idiosyncrasies or familial habits. And there are many tips we can learn from these positive singing styles.
However, even if you have good technique, the voice has limits. Like the body, if you force it beyond its limits it will break down. But with labels, managers, venues and audiences relying on artists coming up with the goods (for financial and practical reasons), the pressure can cause famous singers to push it too far.
Adele, Leona Lewis, Luciano Pavarotti, Joss Stone, Meghan Trainor, Jess Glynne and Freddie Mercury have all experienced nodules or complete voice loss due to overuse. In some cases, this has resulted in a full tour being axed and major gig cancellations.
Take note of these great singing tips to avoid this happening to you…
Good singing posture
Take a leaf out of Katy Perry’s book by adopting aligned posture. This is one of the first things covered in a singing lesson. Stand with a straight spine, feet hip-width apart and a long neck. Your head resting in a neutral position at the top helps airflow and supports the sound.
The trend for posing often involves overarching the back or slouching to look cool. These affect your long term physical health, along with your singing. So don’t pick up this bad habit.
Taking singing lessons
There are as many untrained singers in contemporary music as trained ones. This is in contrast to classical, opera and musical theatre, where it’s almost unheard of for a singer to succeed without having a decent amount of training behind them.
Rihanna has fantastic vocals, but these went untrained until she began recording. Ariana Grande is also self-taught but was exposed to a lot of music as a kid, enabling her to develop strong musicality. Selena Gomez isn’t known for her perfect vocals, but she knows how to make the most of what she has and choose songs to suit her. And Justin Bieber’s rhythm comes from having drum tutoring as a child. But all of these singers had to take lessons further down the line to rectify issues. So a top tip is to start now.
There are plenty of big names who – while they may have been born with incredible voices – have been taking singing lessons for years. This is an excellent habit to adopt. These include:
- Celine Dion
- Lady Gaga
- Adam Lambert
- Justin Timberlake
- Josh Groban
Vocal training is important at any stage in your career. You may have a naturally amazing voice, with a huge range and an innate ability to breathe well. But take those vocals on an international tour with jet lag, high energy shows and intense schedules and it’ll put everything you’ve got under strain. Similarly, recording day after day, for very long hours, through colds and fatigue, will place your throat, larynx and vocal folds under pressure.
Training gives you the tools to protect and strengthen these muscles, so they can withstand being overworked. It also helps you recognise when you need to rest.
Vocal hydration for singers
What you consume has a big impact on vocal and physical health. It also affects elements of your image. This is something the stars know only too well. Drinking lots of water at room temperature it’s a pillar of the vocalist’s foundation. Take a look at the beverages found on famous singers’ riders.
- Aquafina water (Beyonce)
- 12 Small bottles still spring water at room temperature (Adele – who also requests a bottle of red wine)
- 6 Vitamin water zero. Throat coat, Twinnings Chamomile, PG tips and Mint medley tea (Katy Perry)
- A smoothie station. Organic ginger and lemongrass tea and honey (Lady Gaga)
- 12 litres of Fiji Water (Mariah Carey)
Good singing habits of famous artists
Like hydration, a proper diet will help your vocals no end. We’re often asked what singers should eat. And a balanced range of nutrition is the key.
Good nutrition for singers
Here’s the food these artists enjoy in their dressing rooms…
- Beyonce: Juicy Baked Chicken: Legs, wings and breast only (heavily seasoned with fresh garlic, season salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, steamed garlic broccoli, lightly seasoned green beans, lightly seasoned steamed spinach.
- Alicia Keys: Three cans of white tuna, 10 Nutri-Grain Bars, 6 packets of Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal (brown sugar and apple cinnamon), assorted fruit platter with strawberries, seedless red grapes, bananas, mango, blueberries, cantaloupe and raspberries.
- Grace Jones: Two dozen Findeclare or Colchester oysters on ice (unopened), two sashimi and sushi platters and a fruit platter.
- Jack White: 12 chicken wings with sauce, a bowl of fresh home-made guacamole, hummus & pita chips. NO bananas.
- Madonna: Vegan foods prepared by a personal chef
Vocal habits of famous artists
It’s common these days, for singers to get spotted on social media, particularly YouTube, or via a streaming service. This is often at a young age, with no management and without a label providing artist development and singing lessons. As a result, there are many artists in the industry who have developed bad habits that haven’t been ironed out. Some of these habits become their USPs (unique selling point) so form part of their image and vibe. But other vocal habits of famous singers land them in big problems, resulting in the cancellations of whole tours and recordings.
The number of effects used in the editing, mixing and mastering process has increased dramatically over the years, particularly in genres such as electronic dance music. Reverb, compression, EQ, pitch correction and autotune are the most commonly used in a recording studio. And these can often disguise bad habits lurking behind the recording.
Poor singing habits
There are many practices in modern music that are not defined as traditionally ‘good’ singing. Many artists get away with a lot, due to having a fantastic image, super songs and an engaging performance style. What constitutes ‘good’ singing can also be subjective – what one person enjoys another will not. It can, therefore, be more helpful to think of becoming a healthy singer – one who can stand the test of time without having vocal issues further down the line.
Some genres of music – namely country and pop – can suit a nasal style of singing for example. It’s not a total no-no. However, it must be kept in check, not only for the benefit of the listener but to avoid vocal damage and access a more open sound when required. If you are singing through your nose, it often follows that there may be tension elsewhere. And tension is always a bad sign for the singer.
Just to prove that even the biggest selling artists of our time aren’t perfect, let’s take a look at some imperfect vocals.
Famous pitchy singers
Taylor Swift is often known to sing flat or to be pitchy. In some live shows, she’s even gone off-key. It can be tricky when performing with loud backing as it can throw you off the melody line and mess up your tuning.
Many pop songs are actually quite difficult to sing, with awkward intervals and pitches. Add into this, that singers often struggle to hear their backing, or themselves and it can result in otherwise strong artists going off-key.
Jessie J, Katie Perry and Christina Aguilera have all been guilty of this. But in their defence, singing with an earpiece while performing a dance routine is very challenging and takes real skill.
What does it mean when a singer is pitchy?
While this isn’t a great habit, it’s sometimes a minor issue for famous singers. This is due to autotune and other vocal effects balancing out pitchiness.
Off-key is more serious than being off-pitch. If you’re off-pitch, you’re in the right ballpark in terms of the notes, just not quite hitting the spot on. Off-key means, you’re out on the entire melody. It’s rare to hear a famous singer off-key. Yet there are many who are ‘pitchy’, although this is often corrected by autotune.
Madonna is one of the biggest names in the business, with a career spanning five decades. Yet she’s often deemed to be pitchy, and sometimes even out of tune when singing live. She has taken lessons, but as she waited till she was a long way into her journey as an artist to begin vocal coaching, many of her habits were ingrained. However, it’s possible that her distinct sound may have been ironed out by too much training. It would be hard to describe her as a good singer from a technical perspective, yet she’s the queen of pop. This just goes to show how crucial image, marketing, attitude and performance can be and how it can weigh over your vocals.
Singing in tune
Stars like Madonna are incredibly rare. Don’t assume that you can get away with occasionally singing off the note and make it big. If you struggle to sing in tune, this is something you must rectify if you plan on becoming a professional. Consistently singing out of tune is more than just a habit, it’s a considerable problem.
Every famous singer is capable of singing in tune. The only ones who become known for singing out of tune, are the X-Factor rejects, and their fame is always very fleeting. But there are also many artists who sometimes go out of tune.
Have you recognised any of the good vocal habits of famous artists in your own life and practice? If not, it’s time to work on making some changes, especially if you’re experienced hoarseness or strain. If you can’t afford a coach, you can use YouTube, apps or our many advice articles to help you improve, last and soar as a singer.
How can I make my voice sound good?
As well as working on your vocals and technique, you can use autotune in the studio. This can’t work miracles, but it is an aid to help improve and sharpen the finished record. It’s a subtle difference but helps you sound that little bit better.
Is it normal to not like your own singing voice?
Yes! We often cringe at the playback of our own voices – spoken and sung. So don’t be deterred by it as many famous singers have the same problem. You can read more about the scientific reasons behind this.
Do famous singers take singing lessons?
Almost every famous singer works with a singing teacher, even if they are very experienced. This helps them to avoid the vocal fatigue and damage caused by falling into bad habits. and provides stamina for gruelling international tours.
Have you picked up any tips from famous singers? Have you noticed any of the vocal habits of famous artists? Let us know about them in the comment below.