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Showcasing Rock & Pop 2018: Vocals

The latest showcase video in our series is now live. This time we’re looking at some of the songs on the new Rock & Pop 2018 Vocals syllabus, and have called on session singers Brendan Reilly and Charlotte Lubbock to give us their take on the songs, and tell us what makes them so great to sing.

Hozier’s ‘Take me to Church’ is ‘a really powerful song’ that Brendan thinks ‘you really need to sink your teeth into, with lots of emotion, lots of power’. He suggests that you ‘focus on what we call melisma, which is riffs and runs, and also the difference between straight and swung semiquavers’ when performing the song.

Charlotte names ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ by Sinéad O’Connor as ‘one of the most iconic, emotionally-driven songs of all time’. ‘It’s so pure and so clear’, she says, ‘there’s nothing that can be hidden behind her vocals, so everything’s exposed’. Because of this, Charlotte believes that connecting with the emotion of the song is key: ‘so when performing, once you’ve found that grounding and you’re in the zone…that connection can drive your vocal the whole way through’.

‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams and co-written with Nile Rogers, is a track Brendan enjoys singing as it’s ‘a really fun party track’ and ‘brings back the age of the disco era’. To give a good performance of it, Brendan thinks that ‘you really want to practise your phrasing and your intervals’, but also encourages you to ‘just have fun with it!’.

In Charlotte’s opinion ‘THE most catchy song of the last 10 years’, Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ presents the singer with a great challenge because of its pace. ‘You really have to get your teeth and your mouth around the words’ says Charlotte. She also believes that this song is one to give some attitude to: ‘Taylor Swift has an attitude that’s really likeable, so it’s cheeky but she also has a bit of angst behind the words so think those things when you’re performing it and it will give you a much more characterful performance’.

No Doubt’s ‘Don’t Speak’ was an important song for Charlotte as it was ‘one of the first, female-fronted bands that influenced me to get into what I now do… [Gwen Stefani’s] gritty vocals in this pop song, but actually quite a rocky song for the time, was amazing to hear on mainstream radio’. Charlotte gives us a good insight into Stefani’s performance technique: ‘She uses a really clever dynamic story-telling method in this song, so she gradually builds into it and it gives you quite a lot of room to get angry’.

Brendan loves Tom Petty’s ‘Free Fallin’’ because it talks about his hometown, Los Angeles, and thinks it’s ‘a really anthemic pop/rock song’. He says it’s a great one for testing your range because of the fact that it jumps a whole octave between the beginning and the end.

‘Perfect Day’, ‘a classic song by the legendary Lou Reed’, should be sung with lots of passion in Brendan’s opinion. ‘It’s an interesting song to test your emotional range…You need to sing with feeling’. He suggests that you really ‘bring [the chorus] home with some emotion’.

Brendan Reilly is a London-based American singer-songwriter. In addition to his own independent releases over the years, he’s toured the world with artists including Basement Jaxx, Disclosure and Sam Sparro, and is currently touring with Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra. He has also worked with artists including Florence and the Machine, Rita Ora and Laura Mvula, and performed at venues and festivals ranging from Ronnie Scott’s to Glastonbury and Coachella, from Madison Square Garden to The Sydney Opera House.

Charlotte Lubbock is a session singer and pianist, graduating from The BRIT School with the likes of Adele and Katy B. As a session singer, she works with producers and song-writers around the UK and US, providing the vocals to help them successfully promote their songs to record labels.

With a huge range of songs spanning all contemporary styles, the new Rock & Pop 2018 syllabus lets you play the music you love. Find out more about the new syllabus and sign up to hear updates at

Take a look at our other showcase videos for Guitar, Drums and Bass.

Rock & Pop 2018: Real Songs. Real Skills. Real Progress.

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