Measuring Exactly How Much Male Falsetto Has Been Used in Popular Modern Music Throughout the Decades

Video producer Estelle Caswell of the Vox series “Earworm” traces the history of the male falsetto, working with Matt Daniels of The Pudding to figure how much of this vocal technique has been used throughout the decades of popular, modern music. They turned to Pandora for this data and very neatly charted the results.

They first explained the difference between vocal register (chest voice) and falsetto (head voice). All singers have a specific range that allows them to sing comfortably. Going above that range is the falsetto. So while several songs sounded like a falsetto was being used, it was actually due to the vocalists high vocal register. Opera singer Anthony Roth Costanzo demonstrated the difference between the two.

Despite these “false starts”, Caswell and Daniels were able to pinpoint which songs had the highest amount of falsetto and the time frame in which they occurred. As it turns out, it’s a common thing.

It’s nearly impossible to turn on the radio and not hear a male artist singing really high. Likely he’s a tenor, and more often than not he’ll sing in falsetto. …This isn’t a trend — it has been the status quo for decades. Using the data diving know-how of The Pudding, and drawing on the expertise of Anthony Roth Costanzo, a professional opera singer, I dig into the world of the high male vocal range by tracking how pervasive it really is across the decades.