Unlimited royalty free music tracks, footage, graphics & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m Advertisement # What You Can Learn from the Vocal Production of Katy, Gaga & Ke$ha

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This post is part of a series called Producing Vocals: From Mic Placement to Mixing.
The Ultimate Vocal Recording Tutorial
Quick Tip : Spice Up Your Vocal Track with Ableton Live Effects

## Katy Perry's Backing Vocals

Katy Perry has a really strong voice and is really good at harmonizing with herself. In “Wide Awake,” her harmonies are especially interesting, with the backing vocal doubling her line with only a few phrases harmonized here and there. This gives the melody added depth at various intervals, keeping the listener engaged since the production is always changing back and forth from a simple doubled vocal to a pretty harmony.

Another aspect of “Wide Awake” that I think is cool is the use of the “I'm Wide Awake” phrase in lieu of an instrument. I can see the production having started off as a simple chord strum and then changed to this vocal motif to create an interesting vocal backdrop to the verse.

It's also very prominent in the bridge where Katy is singing a different melody with the “wide awake” motif contrasting in the background. This helps to connect the different parts of the song by combining contrast and familiarity at the same time.

Lady Gaga's rhythm in “Bad Romance” is really a showcase in how much the performance matters. The synth arrangement in the verses is tight and is made to sound pretty simple, although I doubt it actually is. But the tight, quantized synth and the four to the floor drum pattern gives Lady Gaga the perfect backdrop to riff her vocals in such a groovy and rhythmic way.

“Bad Romance” is also a showcase in how to make a chorus feel bigger by piling on extra reverb and depth on the backing vocals.

Another good trick I learned while looking at Lady Gaga's production was mixing engineer Robert Orton's vocal delay tricks in “Just Dance". He sends the vocal to multiple delays that all have their separate aux channel. That way he can process each individual delay differently.

Not only does this give the vocal some very nice depth by combing half, quarter and eight notes but by processing each delay with different processors such as compression, distortion, tape emulation etc, he adds a completely different dimension to each effect.

Try that out next time you're working with vocal delays. A little bit of processing on each delay can add a completely different type of depth to your vocal sound.

## Ke$ha's Effects Ke$ha's shtick are her crazy vocal effects. She's almost like a deranged guitar player that likes to pile on every type of modulation to her sound. She has a cool sound that's just enhanced by all the tape-stops and pitch warps.

This is evident in almost all of her songs, but nowhere as spectacularly as the bridge of “We R Who We R.” In the bridge there is some heavy editing to create that choppy, sample'esque type of effect. I can't say this would work for any type of production, but it works for Ke$ha and she owns it. “We R Who We R” is a great example of how to create a whole breakdown section by using the same vocal phrase, editing it in a bunch of different, weird ways and then adding it on top of a sparse breakdown arrangement to connect to the bridge and subsequent chorus. If you want to do this sort of crazy editing to your vocals, use a separate audio track for all the extra processing. That way you can control the effects easily while preserving the original, “normal” vocal sound. MusicRadar has a good article on how to create the typical, tape-stop, slow-down, warped pitch vocal sound that's in most of Ke$ha's songs.

## Conclusion

I would recommend, especially if you don't listen to this kind of music regularly, to sit down and listen to a different perspective. It's always a good idea to get out of your comfort zone and get ideas from somewhere new. And if you get the production idea for a sick new metal song from a Katy Perry album, I won't tell anybody. I promise.