Home > Music > Hitting a falsetto note

Hitting a falsetto note

The other day, I saw a program on Ovation (motto: The poor man’s Bravo) about the use of castrati in classical music just 200-300 years ago. Castrati… that’s latin for “dude that’s been castrated.” So, for those who weren’t aware, a group of people (ok, the Catholic church) once ok’d the castration of boys who could sing to keep their high voices intact. Go ahead and insert Michael Jackson joke here.

The best part was to see modern-day singers performing some of the songs written for the castrati, only now they use their falsetto to reach the notes. Think Frankie Valli singing classical tunes. Good times, good times.

Now, back when I sang in choirs back in high school and college, some of the guys used to goof around during practices by trying to sing along with the sopranos on their parts. Yes, I’m aware of how geeky that sounds, and no, I didn’t date a lot back then.

So like a lot of guys, I’ve tried to transfer the same talent to pop music, especially when I’m driving… alone… preferably at night. And in that time, I came up with a few great songs to screech along to. So, if you’re a guy who wants to see if you have what it takes to be a falsetto virtuoso, here are a few songs that are a good test of your Frankie Valli skills.

Whitney Houston, “I Have Nothing” – A lot of folks would think that other song from The Bodyguard soundtrack — the overplayed “I Will Always Love You — would be the best song. But, when the pre-crack-addled Whitney rips through that key change and starts hitting high Es and Fs in the last stanza, you may end up sounding less like a diva and more like Bobby Brown croaking through the end of “My Prerogative.” Degree of difficulty: 8 out of 10.

Chaka Khan, “Through the Fire” – One of my favorite 80s slow jams is also a great falsetto sing-along song. It’s not at the highest end of the register, but once she starts to go all Chaka Khan at the end of the song, it’s a fun, fun ride. Degree of difficulty: 5 out of 10.

Janet Jackson, “Escapade” – Not all of the songs on this list have to be slow tunes. Janet (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) had a bunch of songs that are good to warble with. Again, not that many high notes, and if you’re a baritone or a tenor, you can switch back to your regular voice for a break. It’s a happy tune, though, and if it puts the image of Janet in the mid-90s in your head, that’s a good thing. Degree of difficulty: 3 out of 10.

Mariah Carey, “I Don’t Wanna Cry” – The ultimate diva throws down a tough song that anyone – boy or girl – would have a tough time following. What’s good about this song is it predates a lot of the vocal acrobatics that she overused later in her career. It’s a tough medley with lots of stuff in the higher ranges. You might lose consciousness toward the end as you run out of oxygen. Just warning you. Degree of difficulty: 9 out of 10.

Paula Abdul, “Rush, Rush” – One of the hardest things to do while singing in your falsetto is to hit the exact note and not “undershoot” by a quarter-step or so. Well, if that’s your problem, sing along with Paula. She couldn’t hit a note with a map and a miner’s helmet. But somehow she judges hundreds of aspiring singers each year. That’s fair. Degree of difficulty: -1 out of 10.

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Categories: Music
  1. Lenny
    July 19, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    The song that took my falsetto abilities away from me was Heart’s “What About Love,” especially the end rant by the fat sister…still love to wail away to this one, and it justifies my iTunes purchase…Giddy up!!!

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