We measured pop music’s falsetto obsession

From Justin Timberlake to the Bee Gees, we charted the popularity of men singing high.

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. Think Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Drake, Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Adam Levine, Sam Smith ... the list goes on and on and on.

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.

The Pudding: https://pudding.cool/

The articles referenced in the video can be found here:

The Evolution of the Male Falsetto: https://frieze.com/article/evolution-male-falsetto

What does it mean when The Weeknd hits a high note: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/what-does-it-mean-when-th...

Active Child, Prince, and the Science of the Male Falsetto: https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/794-active-child-prince-and-the-science-o...

Why Are There So Many Tough Guys Who Sound Like Ladies On The Radio?: https://www.npr.org/2016/02/15/466404515/why-are-there-so-many-tough-guy...

Here's a Spotify list of 65+ songs that have some pretty fun falsetto moments: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0nUxhLp94vGOARoCJKkV0k?si=sGtRcGPtQ_-D...

And here’s the same Pandora playlist: https://www.pandora.com/playlist/PL:1688849921711361:7344

And a list of all of the songs featured in this video by timestamp:

1:04 - Want to Want Me - Jason Derulo

1:30 - Can’t Feel My Face - The Weeknd

1:32 - What Do You Mean - Justin Bieber

1:36 - The Hills - The Weeknd

3:33 - Sleep, Baby, Sleep - George P Watson

5:37 - Redbone - Childish Gambino

6:10 - Rock of Ages - Def Leppard

7:21 - Crocodile Rock - Elton John

8:55 - I Knew I loved You - Savage Garden

9:28 - Stayin’ Alive - Bee Gees

10:17 - Cry Me A River - Justin Timberlake

11:52 - Sweet Child O’ Mine - Guns N’ Roses

11:55 - Two Hearts - Phil Collins

12:19 - Smooth Criminal - Michael Jackson

12:28 - Nite and Day - Al B. Sure

12:33 - You Should Be Dancing - Bee Gees

14:33- Me And Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine - D’Angelo

14:44 - So In Love - Curtis Mayfield

15:38 - Sherry - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Earworm is a series where Estelle Caswell takes you on a musical journey to discover the stories and sounds behind your favorite songs. More videos can be found here:

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