In my last post, I had anticipated this Valentine’s Day would be my first one to celebrate solo, and had planned to dedicate it to a day of relaxation. I ended up being so wrong for two reasons!
February 14th turned out to be my most stressful work day of the week, prepping for some of our new shows to premiere. On top of that, in an unexpected turn of events, I did end up having a date on Valentine’s Day (yes, with a real human and not just my full-time lover Netflix). Overall it was a hectic day of making sure everything got done without working too late, and rushing home to clean up and wash my office stank off. Thankfully, a nice, quiet date night in capped off my busy Tuesday.
Clearly, sometimes things don’t go as planned. But during stressful times like these, there’s one thing that has been really effective with calming me down. Meet the Sing! Karaoke app by Smule.
If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos, you know I
like love to sing. Specifically, I’ve always had not-so-secret aspirations to be a jazz singer. These days, I fantasize about singing with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox and covering pop songs in a vintage jazz style. I even used my most recent skincare routine video as a pseudo-audition for the part 😜
Finding my voice on the Sing! app
My friend Jane first introduced me to Smule’s Sing! app in April 2016. I quickly found that by having a platform, audience, and duet partners with which I could practice singing, my vocal capabilities have grown so much in such a short time. Being able to play back my recordings and take note of what I need / want to work on has helped develop my vocal range, tone, and texture.
For example, when I first started on Sing!, I noticed I was relying too much on my vibrato. So I learned to scale that back and save it for more subtle theatrics in key moments of specific songs. I also noticed I’m more comfortable with higher notes, so I started working on my lower registers and discovering the right songs to expand my range.
To practice my lower registers, I went deep and dark as Singer #1 in this recording of Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat with user @greyyys.
How singing calms me down
The surprising benefit of Sing! has been its positive effect on my stress levels. Whenever I’d come home from a busy day at the office and know I have a long night of blog or freelance work ahead of me, taking a half hour Sing! session helps tremendously with decompressing. It’s an especially great way to pass the time between editing my videos and waiting for them to export. I’m sure many of you know it’s easy to put off taking a break for your own physical and mental health. But with the convenience and fun factor of Sing! it hardly feels like you’re putting the time in to take a time out.
On the same note, I also struggle with breathing properly as a byproduct of my anxiety. My breathing difficulties sometimes result in uncomfortable chest tightness and stomach cramps. Singing — focusing on pacing my breath and toggling between my head and chest voice — helps me re-prioritize my breathing (I mean, it’s kind of important, right?), and get my breaths back in order and under control.
At the end of a Sing! session, I always find myself relaxed, reenergized, and rejuvenated.
How Sing! Karaoke works
The Sing! app is pretty straightforward.
- You simply search for the song you want to sing and choose between singing solo or singing in a duet.
- In duet mode, you can record your parts first for others to join, or join an existing recording by someone else in the Smule community.
- The lines in blue are yours, the lines in grey are theirs, and the lines in yellow are when you sing in unison. You hear the instrumental version of your song as well as your partner’s parts, if you’ve joined in on a recording.
- When you’ve finished singing, the Sing! app automatically merges your two voices and generates a complete recording of you and your duet partner. With the right filters and timing, these duet recordings can sound so well arranged!
My stage setup
I like to sing in my bedroom, on a fur rug beside my bed, with my ambient string lights on behind me. It really helps play up my fantasy of singing in front of an audience at a small, intimate venue.
It’s also important to have some water within reach to stay hydrated when attempting to hit those soaring high notes.
What I like to sing
Here are some samples of my favourite recordings with Smule friends I’ve made all over the world:
Blank Space (Postmodern Jukebox version)
I’m the first singer in this one with user @SC_LizLOR. This is hands down my favourite song to record on Sing! I hadn’t heard this version before discovering it on the app, so I took the liberty to add my own creative twist to it — which is a nice exercise in musical intuition. Because I’ve gotten used to singing my own rendition of this song, I know this version like the back of my hand, and often resort to it when I need a good, quick de-stress.
Seven Nation Army (Postmodern Jukebox version)
Haley Reinhart’s New Orleans Dirge rendition of this White Stripes classic is absolute perfection and everything I could’ve asked for in a jazz cover. No other song makes me feel like a true, very-amateur jazz singer, and I often imagine myself performing in a sweetheart-necklined red dress in a dimly lit bar with this one. As the first singer in this with the talented @Mudriff, I try my hand at some scatting at the end.
Rolling in the Deep
I love a challenge, especially when it comes to singing songs that I’d normally shy away from. This Adele hit is a powerhouse, so it took a lot of homework to note where the Grammy-winning singer takes her breaths. One tip I learned from another vocal goddess, Christina Aguilera, is to place more significance on the note before the high note, so that approaching the high note only requires a small step up. This technique helped me in the chorus as the second singer in this recording with @JoiaPagano.
Total Eclipse of the Heart
Growing up, I was in awe of how well my mother would rock this Bonnie Tyler anthem. It was her Karaoke go-to, and she sustained such power in her high notes that I thought I could never match. But with the experience Sing! gave me, I felt confident to take it on. I surprised myself with how I belted this one out on my first attempt as the second singer in a duet with @Jabies_MoD. I guess all those years hearing my mom sing this song paid off!
The Way You Look Tonight
Singing with my friend Jane is such a treat, especially since I feel like I owe her big time for introducing me to the Sing! app. But it’s also because I’m obsessed with both her sultry speaking voice and how that translates into a sugary-sweet singing voice. I’m the first singer in this recording with Jane, which has me convinced we’re ready to go on the wedding circuit, lol.
Finally, I’m the first singer in this recording of my all-time favourite Bond song. I put on my best Shirley Bassey and @SlickEvilC answered with his spunky take.
Have a great week, my friends 😊
Photos: Kyle Richmond