One of my students brought the Colbie Caillat song Realize to a recent lesson. She kept running out of breath before the ends of phrases, and that wasn't really like her.
We listened to the mp3 together. Amazing! There is only ONE place to breathe in the chorus: If you just realize what I just realized/ then we'd be perfect for each other/ and will never find another/if you just realize what I just realized // (BREATHE!)// We'd never have to wonder if/we missed out on each other now
I wondered how Miss C would ever be able to manage this feat in live performance. So, my student and I checked out Realize live, and we realized (ha!) that even Colbie herself couldn't sing the long phrases in one breath! One of her bandmates harmonizes the melody on the choruses and sings a little longer than she does, so Colbie can get a breath. If he didn't harmonize, there would be a little gap in the song and in the "rushed" mood.
Girlfriend wrote the song by herself, presumably for herself (along with Jason Reeves and Mikal Blue)! I think she was trying to make the chorus sound like a rush of words, the kind that come with the
Okay, you're the artist, it's your call. The miracle of music track editing can cover up the fact you have no place to breathe in your own song. No one else can sing the song quite like Colbie . . .even she can't really sing it.
Taylor Swift likes to breathe in unexpected places, and seems to avoid breathing in the logical ones. (And Caillat has written songs for Swift; what a perfect pair of blue-lipped maidens!) Listen to her sing the chorus of Love Story: "You'll be the prince (BREATHE!) and (BREATHE!) I'll (BREATHE!) be the princess." She sounds like a four year old running up three flights of stairs to tell her friend how to play Make Believe Castle. But the ending will leave you . . . . . .uh . . . . . .breathless: RomeosavemeI'vebennfeelingsoaloneIkeep (BREATHE)
inmyheadIdon't know (BREATHE!)
The girl's in love! Oxygen! STAT!
Alanis Morrissette paved the way for the Bad Girl Breathers with lyrics that have been called "a mangled web of garbled syntax, overheated metaphors, and mystifying verbal contortions." She doesn't engage in the kind of melodic rushing that Caillat and Swift (and Sara Bareilles) do. Instead, she messes with beats and so-so rhymes and emPHASis. Like a Pied Piper of Lyrical Grammar, Alanis has led many astray; I still like her. My favorite song of hers is "Uninvited", from the City of Angels soundtrack. She knows when and how to breathe, even if she's not so careful about pronounCIation: Like anyone WOULD be/ I am flatTERED by your FAScination WITH me. . . .you're uninVIted, an unforTUNate slight."
So if you want to sing one of these one-breath-per-stanza songs, what do you do? 1. Slow it down, so the time between rhymes and words is slow enough for you to take some quick breaths. 2. Sing it with a group of singers, so you can all stagger your breaths. 3. Feign a dramatic emotional breakdown if you have to breathe and miss a few words. If all that fails . . . . 4. Sing something else.