What happened to Christine Aguilera?

You probably heard the gossip surrounding Christine Aguilera’s mix-up of the words of Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl. You can revisit that performance here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpCFpYLPw74 I would like to talk about that performance, but not about the words she messed up, but rather her voice.

First, let me say I am a big fan. She is one-of-a-kind. I have heard her perform at times extremely well (You tube – live video concerts) and other times, not so well. This performance was definitely the latter. It is clear that she was not able to get into a good mix as she ascended in pitch during the song. She probably recognized that she was “pulling too much weight”, and things weren’t just right. This may be the reason she messed up the words. It can definitely be distracting when you find yourself in the middle of song, giving it everything you have, and knowing that there’s no backing down now, you have to get to the big finish, you have to get to that big note…….and…..well, what happened in Christina’s case, is that she had to flip and sing the biggest note in the song in her head voice. I’m sure that was not her plan.

What went wrong? Well, a number of things could have gone wrong. Maybe she had a virus and her cords were slightly swollen. Maybe she didn’t prep her mix well enough before the performance. I wouldn’t think she would go into the performance unprepared, but my guess is she belted with too much volume in the beginning of the song, such as the words “by” the dawn’s early light. These heavy chest tones can immediately unbalance the voice and make it difficult to get into your head voice. This song is in the key of F and the main belting note that she sang over and over is the A above middle C. I think the fact that she pick this key was detrimental for her. The key of G would have put her over her bridge slightly at the belting note, and possibly made it easier to be in the mix. In other words, she could have actually been singing higher, and not have had to flip. She would have been able to carry the chest in the mix all the way up to D above middle C no problem.

2 thoughts on “What happened to Christine Aguilera?

  1. Hey Susan! As someone who has worked in Gospel for over 30 years I can attest that this article rings true. In Gospel the belting style is almost a requirement. I’m continually challenged with helping clients sing in a healthier, more balanced way without losing that powerful belting sound that is the staple of Gospel singing.

    I’m looking forward to your future blogs on the subject!

    Take care,
    Ron Cross

    • Thanks Ron,

      It’s so true that the belting sound is alive and well in all styles of music. I also am continually challenged with singers who “get stuck” when they try to belt. As you know, this can happen if they don’t sing in their mix. You and I both know that once a singer learns how to routinely negotiate their first passagio, and allow their mix to strengthen and grow, they can have the freedom to belt powerfully without harm to their throat and vocal cords.

      We may all be fascinated by Christine Aguilera’s voice and other singers who seem to belt so easily with a great big powerful sound. But the bottom line is they have to work very hard, day after day, week after week to sing this way. If not done properly, it can hurt and cause vocal fatigue within seconds of starting a song.

      I think this Star-Spangled Banner performance is a good example of how difficult it is to maintain balance when you start off singing your song loud or “heavy” in your low register. A singer needs to be very aware of their approach to the first bridge. It will “make or break” their overall performance. Unfortunately, in this performance for Christine, it was “break”…………..although I’ve heard her “make” it many times! Susan

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