Her breakthrough album may have been titled The Fame Monster…
But there is nothing monstrous about the way Lady Gaga sings.
In fact, she is widely regarded as one of the most technically proficient singers of our time,
Even counting icons like Julie Andrews and Tony Bennet as “fans”.
So how can a beginner singer reach the level of awesomeness that even leaves icons impressed?
Read on for 3 ways Lady Gaga rocks it, and what you can learn from her dynamic singing and performance.
What Makes Lady Gaga’s Singing So Awesome
She is a Vocal Chameleon
Lady Gaga has never been shy about surprising people: her style choices in performance and on the red carpet have always been shocking.
But it seemed nothing shocked the world more than when she boldly stepped outside the pop world, proving to everyone that she really “can sing”.
With a flurry of exciting performances and recordings: a gorgeous tribute to The Sound of Music at the 2015 Oscars, a Grammy Award Winning Jazz collaboration with Tony Bennet, and of course her electric 2017 Super Bowl performance, it seems Lady Gaga is out to prove herself as the world’s most flexible vocal chameleon.
Lady Gaga has been studying voice and piano since she was a child, and it shows in the impeccable control she has over her voice. She has the technique to shift resonances and alter her sound to fit any genre: dance/pop, country, jazz, rock, and even classically-influenced musical theater, as she proved at the 2015 Oscars.
Her Go-To Sound is Dark, Operatic, and Unique
Her great technique means she is capable of clear, bird-like singing - see her delightful The Lady is a Tramp with Tony Bennet - but in the pop world, Lady Gaga is known for a dark, weighty singing style.
This unique sound sets her apart from other songstresses even more than her style and energetic performances.
Again, this unique sound is due to her excellent technique and knowledge of her voice. Listen to the pre-chorus and chorus on The Edge of Glory.
Even in her ascending notes, her voice is weighty, full, and well-supported. This gives her not only the edgy sound we associate with Lady Gaga, but enables her to deliver just as strong a live performance as the recording.
She’s Not Afraid of Theatricality
When you think of a pop star who is theatrical, Lady Gaga is the first one to come to mind. Not only is she ever changing her looks to match whatever character she is playing, she incorporates a lot of theatricality into her singing and her performance.
Whether she’s channeling the iconic David Bowie at the the Grammy’s, or singing soulfully at the piano, she knows how to dial the theatricality up or down, while always keeping the same level of energy and authenticity that makes her singing exciting.
So, given the many layers of awesomeness represented here, how can you go about learning to sing like Lady Gaga?
How to Sing like Lady Gaga
Be as Chameleon-Like as Gaga
Easier said than done, right?
But remember, that Lady Gaga can explore the many colors of her voice because she has such a thorough understanding of vocal technique.
Fortunately, vocal technique is something that can be learned. Lady Gaga has been studying vocals basically her whole life, but it’s not too late for you to learn.
If you want to get started, working with a vocal teacher will give you the edge you need to take your voice to the next level. To learn more about working with a vocal teacher, click here for more info.
When you begin, be sure to focus on learning different resonances for your voice. Lady Gaga can sing in so many ways because she knows where to place the voice and how to change the shape of her mouth to create different sounds.
To learn how to place the sound to create Gaga’s trademark edgy style, keep reading.
Re-create Lady Gaga’s Weighty, Edgy Sound
The backbone of Lady Gaga’s operatic, powerful sound is her excellent diaphragm support. Supporting your breath with your diaphragm is best practice for any singer, and there is absolutely no way Gaga could achieve her sound without it.
The diaphragm is the muscle that’s attached to the bottom of the lungs. When you control it, you control the release of air. You’re able to achieve a steady, consistent stream of air, rather than releasing it in one big gush.
Your vocal teacher can give you pointers for how to build this muscle. Just like any other muscle, it requires practice to get strong. So, don’t feel defeated if this is hard for you at first. Keep practicing, and you’ll get there.
The second thing Lady Gaga does to create her weighty sound is to drop her jaw.
Dropping the jaw not only improves your breathing, making it easier to be a better singer all-around,
It creates more space in the mouth, meaning there’s more room for resonance to be created.
Imagine the difference between shouting into an empty cavernous room, and shouting into a tube of wrapping paper. The narrow tube constricts the sound, the empty room amplifies it.
Unfortunately, it’s a bad habit of many singers to tighten up their mouths, particularly when they are trying to reach higher notes. Ironically, this only makes it harder to hit those notes!
Take a cue from Gaga’s book and let that jaw hang loose.
There may be a lot of tension to get rid of before you’re able to do this effectively. Click here for some exercises to release that tension and let the jaw hang free!
Incorporate Theatricality into Your Singing and Performance
Lady Gaga never shies away from a bit of drama, and neither should you.
After all, isn’t that why we love music? The opportunity to experience emotions on a higher plane than our everyday existence?
Gaga understands this, and she takes it All. The. Way.
Of course, you might not want to be as exaggerated as Lady Gaga can be, but there’s a lot to learn from her more understated performances as well. Remember, we learned that what makes her a great entertainer is she can dial the drama up or down, depending on what the song and event call for.
In other words, if you don’t feel like pulling out spangles and full-on choreography while playing at your local coffee shop, don’t worry:
There are many other ways to incorporate theatricality into your performance.
Consider Gaga’s astounding 2015 Academy Awards performance. The vibe here is passionate but respectful: you can tell she wants to do justice to the iconic Julie Andrews.
So, there is nothing flashy or shocking about this performance. However, it still has Lady Gaga’s theatrical flair:
Every detail of her movement is thought out: the pause to sweep her hair off her face, the triumphant lifting of her gown as she sings her final note. These little details are what make her so majestic on that stage. Sometimes, it truly is the little things that make all the difference.
Begin playing around with theatricality in a way that is comfortable for you. Video yourself performing and pay attention to how you stand, what you do with your hands, and where you are looking. Rehearsing even these basic things will make you look 100% more polished as a performer.
Practical Tips to Sing Like Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is widely regarded as one of the most technically proficient pop singers of our time.
Technically proficient is just a fancy way of saying “skilled”.
And the great thing about “skills” are:
They’re something you can learn!
You may have a naturally beautiful voice, but working with a trained voice teacher will give you the skills you need to reach Gaga-level awesomeness.
Voice teachers are trained in vocal anatomy and how the voice works, so a skilled teacher will be able to help you learn how to alter your sound so you can be just as much of a vocal chameleon as Lady Gaga, or achieve her go-to weighty sound, if that’s more your style.
Whatever your vocal goals are, a voice teacher will get you there faster. To learn more about the so-simple way to get online voice lessons, click here.
You’re on The Edge of Glory…
Because you are making a commitment to invest in your voice and your art.
At the 2015 Billboard Women in Music Event, Gaga told the crowd about her experience starting her artistic journey alone in a room “with a piano and some ideas”, and encouraged everyone who loves music that “if you work really hard, you can just do anything. You can do anything.”
You might feel a long way from Lady Gaga, alone in your room working on your voice. But take her words to heart, along with what you learned here in this article:
- You learned the power of manipulating your voice to achieve different sounds like Gaga does.
- You learned do-able ways to achieve her weighty sound.
- And you got some inspiration to inject some theatricality into your work.
Now, put those ideas into practice, keep working,
And you won’t be on The Edge of Glory…
You’ll be there.