The Answer – Was Lady Gaga lip syncing at the Superbowl AND how YOU can work the stage like a pro

The Answer – Was Lady Gaga lip syncing at the Superbowl AND how YOU can work the stage like a pro

 

In the last post, I gave you some tips to assess the video of Lady Gag at the Superbowl with new eyes.

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn how to spot a lip syncing singer and put your new skills to work, it’s time to answer the question: was she actually lipsyncing?

(If you haven’t, click here to read the previous post so you can see how much you know!)

 

Those of you who said she was NOT lip syncing are…….CORRECT!

 

All of the tips from you used to tell if a singer is faking it usually give you pretty solid results.

But the one reason people call out singers for lip syncing when they’re really NOT is because we think this:

“They HAVE to be lip syncing!  

How can anyone run around that much and still hit all the notes?!”

Good question.

 

 

Where do singers learn to look so great on stage?

 

There’s a reason singers improve so fast on shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent and the now debunked XFactor.  And it ain’t the vocal coaching (which btw, is worth it’s own post since it has damaged more voices than it has helped.  Don’t get me started).

The real answer is live show producers.

Just like record labels or tour management, TV shows employ a live show producer (sometimes under other titles, but the purpose is the same).  They are the ones who create the vision that the choreographers, vocal coaches, the wardrobe department, and the singer(s) will use to bring that incredible performance to life.

Live show producers know exactly how to look at what a singer can and can’t do and move them quickly through what they should master next to look incredible, inviting, and much more marketable on stage.

The longer a singers career involves a live show producer (& depending on the level of commitment of the singer), they can be transformed to the level where they can do amazing things like you Lady Gaga do.

 

How do I try things on stage as a singer without looking stupid?

 

It’s one thing to have the vision of what you want your live performance to look like and quite another to know how to make it happen.

Most singers don’t get a lot of experience ‘filling a large stage’ until until they’re performing on one. And that’s not the best time to try to figure it out,

But long before then you WILL have opportunities to sing on a platform that’s big enough that you really should be moving on it. 

How do you know how MUCH to move?

The more energy a song has, the more movement there needs to be on the platform.  The type of music you sing will determine what that movement should look like.  Look at videos of the top five artist in your niche (no one lower – you may just pick up the same mistakes they’re making). Below I’ll show you how to go from watching their show to designing yours.

Now it’s time to ask that question again: how can I sing that incredibly demanding song AND move all over the place without having a heart attack on stage?

 

Here is the ‘trick’ to what Lady Gaga did on stage live

 

There is only one way to sing your very best while really ‘working’ the stage without faking it: Exercise.

Stick with me here.

We’re not talking bench pressing 250lbs. or looking like some of the borderline anorexic singers you’ve seen.  What we ARE talking about is being at a physical level that allows you to sing full out without the activity affecting your voice.

As far back as singers have been their own dancers, managers and show producers have put singers through as much physical exercise as vocal exercise.

The Back Street Boys once complained that their manager made them jog in a line while singing their entire set during tour training.

 

Do you really need to jog for two hours while singing or sing while descending from a wire in a harness?  Proooooobably not.

Here’s a good starter guide for working up your physical fitness to meet your performing demands.

 

Infographic-How to Work the Stage Like a Pro

Determine what level of movement works for what you’re doing.

  1. Watch any videos of the top 3-5 singers who do the kind of music you do.  Skip other singers,  We’re hoping the top three have been coached out of their bad habits so you don’t pick them up. Pick songs with the same kind of energy as the songs you sing.
  2. Identify the ‘attention grabbers’: dancers, pyrotechnics, video backgrounds, etc.  Ignore any that you won’t have in your performance.
  3. Ignore any movements the lead singer uses that utilizes props or stage items you won’t have on stage (like jumping off an 8 foot speaker stack)
  4. Taking those items out, how much does the lead singer move?  What kind of things do they do?
  5. Pick the 2-3 you feel most comfortable doing and work them into your song.

 

Build the muscle memory & the mojo.

  1. Do any of the movements you’re adding require more physical stamina than you currently have?  Up your cardio workout.(anything you enjoy doing that makes you sweat.)
  2. After you’ve up’d your cardio for at least two weeks (preferably), start singing your song(s) during your cardio workout at tempo. Expect your singing to suffer at first.  This will become a gage for how well you can really move comfortably on stage.
  3. Take out your lyric chart and note where you’re going to add movement and what kind of movement it is.  It makes learning the new pattern of movement much faster..
  4. Every time you sing the song, add the movements (make them as big as your practice space allows).  Prioritize your weakness!  You can’t focus on singing and moving the exact same amount.  Get one down well.  Then only focus on the other.
  5. PRACTICE!  Every time you sing the song the muscle memory for movement needs to be attached. This makes it look like second nature even if you feel weird doing it.

3 Foolproof Steps for Looking Like a Pro On Stage

  • Stage movement always LOOKS smaller than it FEELS.  Plan to go over the top.
  • It’s NORMAL (even for pro’s) to feel weird, nervous or stupid when adding something new.  Expect it.  Embrace it.  Do it anyway.
  • Your FACE will tell your audience if they should love it or judge it.  Your face must say “Heck YEAH I meant to do that!”, never “oh…crap.  you didn’t see that did you???” regardless of what you think about how you look or sound.

 

You’ll be amazed how much more revved up your audience will be when you make the choice to give them a better show.  Two artists or bands can do the same song just as well and the audience will chose the one that moves every time.  That’s because it gives THEM permission to move and enjoy what you’re bringing them.  And that’s what they wanted all the time.

Note for worship musicians: Don’t think this doesn’t apply to you.   It’s probably more important for you. What you do or don’t do on the platform will determine your audience’s focus.  If you’re not comfortable moving during worship music, look for artists videos that don’t come off as ‘me-me!’  Try those, then let your authenticity drive you on from there.

But for heaven’s sake, please don’t just close your eyes and stand there!  That says. ‘hey I’ve got a really cool thing going on here….butt out.”

 

Looking like you’re having a great time on stage is more important than you think.  We’re a very visual generation with short attention span.  If your music, your message, your identity as an artist is important to you, take it seriously and grab their attention.

If you don’t, something else will.

Was Lady Gaga Lip Syncing at the 2017 Superbowl?

Was Lady Gaga Lip Syncing at the 2017 Superbowl?

Ok, Gaga haters. Stick with me because I live in your camp.   Gaga lovers – don’t judge… just yet.

I’m not a Gaga fan and I honestly wasn’t planning to watch Lady Gaga’s performance at the 2017 Superbowl Half Time Show live.  I just happened to walk in as she descended from the heavens and struck a pose.

I rolled my eyes and almost left but the vocal coach in me made me stay for the game.  Not football.  I mean a little game I play while watching live performances where I spot the non-singing ‘singers’ who are paid to not sing.

 

Let’s face it, many singers are not signed because they can (or can’t….Madonna..shhhhhh) sing.  The lable just fixes it in the mix and runs the ‘fixed’ version over the live vocal on tour so that the ‘singer’ can sing as much, but usually as little as they want.

It’s been done that way longer than most people know.  And now that you’re onto them, producers have gotten better at hiding the lip syning in live shows. But there are still ways to know if you’re really getting a ‘live’ show.

Maybe you’re ok with paying premium ticket fees for a not-really-live show.  That’s ok too.  It’s a bit tougher for the hundreds of genuinely good live singers out there.  Singers who have spent years honing their skills, learning how to keep their pipes in shape on the road and doing the work of developing their own sound.  Singers who are really worth hearing live.

For them, watching a sometimes 100% lip synced concert is like watching a robot take your job and do things not possible for a human.   It’s kind of buzz kill.

 

Whether you relate or not, it’s handy to have a way to know if you’re getting what you thought you paid for.

Wanna learn how?

 

 

How to Spot a Fake Singer

 

Since I know a few of the tricks commonly used to fake a live show I like to look for the signs of a cover up.  Educated guesses, let’s call them.  If I can spot three or more incidents of any of them, it’s proooooobably not a real live vocal.

Here’s how you can spot a ‘faux’ singer (which appropriately means ‘fake’) next time you see a live show.  Look for ‘faker flags’ like these:

  • The singer is very physical on stage (lots of dancing, running, etc.) but you never hear breathing when you would expect to
  • You don’t hear the singer breathe between phrases of the songs, only when speaking (or at the beginning and/or ending of songs for the sneaky ones)
  • The singers mouth doesn’t line up exactly to the vocal you hear (there’s a reason there’s not a close up shot sometimes)
  • You see 3 backup singers (and those dancers really are just lip syncing so they don’t count) but it sounds like there’s 10.
  • There is any volume change when the singer moves between singing and talking.  This one is harder to detect because live show arrangements are generally produced so this there’s more time to make the switch. But if the singer is talking to the crowd, starts to sing and they’re suddenly louder, you get the bonus point.

 

Keep in mind sometimes only parts of a song or just certain songs are not 100% live.  This is usually due to a singer recovering from surgery or damage or because the singer can’t dance and sing at the same time without breathing like a creeper on a prank call.

I just call ’em like I see ’em.

So are you saying Lady Gaga did NOT sing LIVE at the SuperBowl?

 

 

 

 

As if I’m just going to give it away.  Come on.  I just told you how to find out.

So you tell  me!  Click the video above to watch it again.

Look for Faker Flags. 

Tell me what you see in the comments below.


Next time, I’ll tell you exactly what I saw. AND I’ll spill an ‘industry insider tip’ that you can use to sound so good live, your audience may think you’re lip syncing.

(Join the mailing list so you don’t miss it!)

Top 2 Gifts Every Singer Wants

Top 2 Gifts Every Singer Wants

Enough with the socks and gift cards!  Give the singers in your life something that they will actually use all year; a quality microphone to record their cover tunes, original tunes or their next album.

But how do you pick something great without having to do a bunch of research? (and who has time for any of that this month?) It’s easy to spend too much on the wrong stuff when it comes to musical gear.  But some things you just can’t cheap out on.

No worries.  I’ve put together of the best microphones that I’ve used professionally as an audio producer and vocalist and for fun projects like recording free demos for aspiring singers.  And being one half professional audiophile and one half frugal mother of four, this list starts at cheap and goes to moderately priced.

Which Price Range is Best for the Singer on Your List?

The lower priced items will get you good quality for any singer who sings for fun (not for money). They’ll be able to get a great sounding

If the singers on your gift list are recording a demo or an album, the higher end products I’ve recommend will give them a professional level result without slapping down thousands of dollars. (No, you really don’t need a $5,000 mic.  Someone would love to sell you one, but unless you make your living from singing and/or recording fulltime, it’s not time.)

Either way, the lower priced items will be a welcome addition to any singers gear bag, so if you’re like me (the half of me that strives so hard to actually stick to a budget) you can feel just as great if you have little to spend.  (I use affiliate links for a quick way to get you to the goods where I almost always find the best price. I make a few cents if you do, which is greatly appreciated.)

1. Microphones

THE BEST

Recording microphones are different from live singing microphones.  Most singers don’t have to supply their own live mics, but every singer needs a quality recording mic (aka condensor microphone).

I’ve chosen to include two microphone packages because they’re an incredibly good deal and the add-ons are well worth the price. You can also buy just the mic, but you generally won’t save much.

1. Rhode NT1-A with Focusrite Scarlet2in2 and shockmount

$375

The Rhode NT1-A has been a favorite of mine for decades.  I’ve used the whole series of NT’s in broadcasting, recording voiceovers in major studios and for recording vocals. Like all professional level mics it requires something that’s called ‘phantom power’.  But if you by the package you’ve got that covered.

This is not a USB microphone.  But the included Focurite Scarlett preamp connects it to a computer.  USB mics have come along way but a good preamp is still the absolute best way to get the purest sound for any recording that really needs to impress.

Why I Love This Mic
  • Rhode is a quality brand with a long history of making top of the line recording gear.  Other brands that are known for their professional quality include Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and MXL but compare apples to apples.  A $300 Sennheiser doesn’t compare to a $3000 Audio-Techica but it can with a $300 Audio-Technica.
  • Great for ignoring room sounds so you don’t record what you don’t want.  It might seem like any mic should do that, but there can be a wide difference in how well they do.
  • Picks up all the ‘sparkle’ in both male and female voices
  • This series has adds a nice warm feel to the voice.  In other words, it peaks the best frequencies in the lower end of the voice without making it sound muddy.  Mics in this price range should do this but different brands and price points affect how well they can pull it off.  This mic does an especially good job of this.

 

Why the Add-on’s are Worth It
  • Every recording setup needs a preamp.  If the singers on your list don’t do alot of recording on their own they either need a preamp or need a better one and they will LOVE you for this add-on!
  • The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 preamp (aka ‘the red box’) is seriously the best preamp I’ve ever heard at this pricepoint.  To get better you’d need to spend in the thousands.  No joke.  I would buy this package just for the preamp. But my husband won’t let me.
  • The included Shockmount keeps the mic from picking up any sound from bumping against anything during recording.  High end mics generally come with their own Shockmount so it’s not really an add-on but it IS very essential. It’s a good $60+ value.
  • A Pop Filter keeps pops and clicks from getting picked up.  It is crucial to any high quality recording and it’s never bad to have an extra. It’s about a $20-30 value.
  • This package also comes with 20′ of Premium XLR(mic) Cable. Most singers will buy short, cheaper quality cable because they cost less, but cheap cables give out quickly and can add extra ugly noises into recordings.  Every recording singer eventually realized a high quality, long cable is what they needed all along.  This one is about a $20-30 value.
  • A Dust Cover for the mic is also included in this package.  I don’t know anyone who used dust covers in their studios. Most high end mics come with their own padded box but that’s really designed for engineers that have multiple microphones that need storing.  I’m guessing this is one area they cheaped out on to save themselves money on this package.  But that’s just fine.  A recording singer will usually only have one mic so they really don’t even need a box.  Chances are they won’t use the dust cover either.  But it does make your gift look larger!
  • Lower end companys won’t guarantee their product for very long but Rode’s included 10 Year warranty (when registered online) is proof that this is a quality mic.  They’re basically proving the mic will last ten years.  And it really will.
  • The monatarly value of the addon’s is around $100-150.  But the biggest advantage of buying this package is that the price of the microphone has come down in price.  The NT series of Rode mics used to cost over $500. Now you can get it for almost 50% off!

BUDGET FRIENDLY

On the lower end of the price range you can still find some high quality gems.  What’s the difference? Generally some of the parts are cheaper versions of the companies higher end products.  But that does have an impact on sound.

This particular mic has a much better sound than others in this price range but it generally won’t be as good as mics in a higher price range.

Audio-Techica AT2020

Why I Love This Mic
  • You’ll find Audio-Techica mics in any major recording studio.  They’re built well and sound great.
  • Though most AT mics in studios are the top of the line (and price point), the AT2020 is made with the same quality parts at an incredible price for the quality.
  • Most high quality mics will require something called ‘phantom power’.  If the singer on your list has a box or board they plug a mic into, they already have phantom power.
When the Add-on’s are Worth It
  • The included Neewer Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand and pop filter are perfect for those who record at a desk.
  • If recording is done standing, this stand will extend to a higher point.  This is great if you record next to a desk or surface you can attach the stand to.
  • This is a broadcast recording standard stand. It’s been used for decades in broadcast environments so it’s perfect for podcasts or recording done at the computer.  The standard vocal mic stand is tall and sits on the ground.  It’s all preference but this stand is inherently better built than a floor stand and can easily be moved out of the way or adjusted to different heights.
AT2020 Package – a really good deal

For $140 you’ll get the microphone (requires phantom power), suspension table mounted mic stand (mounts to table), pop screen (essential for recording) and cloth (that really does nothing)

Just the Microphone

$80  will get you the phantom powered microphone only (this is an amazing price btw)

$120 will get you the USB version of this mic that plugs directly into the computer.  Same mic but audiophiles (like me) will argue that the recording signal is always cleaner on the phantom powered mic but at this price range you won’t hear much difference.

TWO MORE OPTIONS WORTH CONSIDERING

1.  MIC ONLY 

Want to skip the add-ons?

You’ll still get a great price on the mic only (with shockmount and dust cover) for $230

2. GET THE PACKAGE PLUS A MIC STAND AND SOUND REDUCTION PANEL

Every recording singer absolutely needs a stand and some kind of sound reduction for recording.  SoundPROOFING is different (and isn’t really necessary for most vocal/singing recordings. Unless the singer on your list has built their own recording room (if they have, believe me, you’ve heard about it), they will LOVE YOU for these to added products. 

(I have 3 just incase I record more than one musician at a time.)

This stand runs around $20 and the sound reduction panel runs $100-150 just by itself.

For just $450 for this package, you’ll get up to $170 in added value for just $75 more than the basic package. That’s a really great deal!

2. HEADPHONES

THE BEST

Sennheiser HD 630VB Headphone with Variable Bass and Call Control

$399

Why I Give These Headphones My Top Review
  • Sennheiser is one of the brands you’ll find in every top recording studio.  Becuase the bulk of their products are for professional studios, their lower end products (yes, $400 is lower end for them) benefit from a compny who knows how to get the best sound.
  • The soft padding on Sennheiser headphones serves a much bigger purpose than comfort.  It’s designed and shaped to capture sound and redirect it for better quality.  This is not true of all other headphones.  Another reason to buy for a top company.
  • A unique feature to these headphones is the variable bass control.  If the singer on your list is mixing songs (working on recording themselves) they will be able to highlight the voice for mixing by turning the bass down.  Super handy!
  • These headphones also work with all smartphones so you can use them for great listening on your devices and when making and receiving phone calls.  Definition: they will never take them off.

(side note: Best Buy usually has these at a discount near the holidays.  But I’ve done the math and after taxes you’ll still pay the same or more than on Amazon)

 

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

$100

Why I Love This Mic
  • You already know why I love and recommend Sennheiser products. This mic is cheaper due to the ‘less bells and whistles’ standard for this price range
  • You won’t feel like the music completely envelopes you like in the 630VB’s but you still get great clarity with these headphones
  • The HD280 Pro headphones are also collapsable so they’re easier to carry around with you.
  • The padding on these is designed for comfort only.  And they’re very comfy!
  • Headphones take a beating.  But what you won’t find in most headphones in this pricepoint is a unique feature of the Sennheiser HD280 Pro Headphones: replacable parts!  This feature alone can be worth more than the cost of purchase if you’ll use it.
  • Of the other headphones in this price range at the time of writing, these are my top pick for bang for the buck.
  • These would be a budget friendly solution to listening to your voice while recording.

BUDGET FRIENDLY

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

$58 (current sale)

Why I Love This Mic
  • If you were to buy the next model of these headphones, the ATH40x, you’d be back in the $100 price range.  And all you get for your extra money is a detachable coiled cord.
    But chose this model, which is almost exactly the same and you can save almost HALF!
  • The ATH30x’s are billed as professional studio monitor headphones.  This means they’re perfect for listening to your voice as you record. You can use them to mix music in a pinch but they’re better served as an entry level pair of headphones.  And at this price they kill the competition.
  • The ATH30x’s have a really strong midrange. which just means that the singer will be able to hear their voice a little better than other headphones in this price range that focu on accentuating the highs and lows.
  • These are made by a high end audio company so they tend to last longer and wear better than the competition.

Hey singers – what gifts would you put on your gift list?  Leave your list in the comments below!

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