May
16th

Hard Songs to Sing: I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

Categories: Hard To Sing Songs, Voice |
Hard Songs to Sing: I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

Most people can relate to Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ at one time or another: girl meets guy, guy uses girl, girl feels sad and embarrassed and writes a song about it. It’s catchy and cathartic, but no one accused this song of being easy to sing.

Why This Song is Hard

‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ is tough on breath control and coordination.

  • There are a number of runs in which you have to sustain one syllable over multiple notes. The most notable is the downward run on verse words like ‘withoouut me,’ ‘droooowning,’ and ‘foouund me.’ It’s easy to let these notes run together into a muddled mess.
  • pounding out the ‘me-ee-ee-ee-ee.’ at the end of the verses is an ab workout. Let too much air out at a time and you sound weak, or worse yet—your voice peters out before the last ‘ee.’
  • There are some tough jumps to conquer—for instance, the line ‘I knew you were trouble when you walked in,’ jumps up and down at the interval of a fifth, and the ‘oh’s before ‘trouble’ jump down an octave and a m6 respectively. It’s easy to lose control and get pitchy.

Instant Gratification

Nothing but practice is going to help you master the runs in this song, but you can instantly make them easier by modifying the ‘ow’ (‘without,’ ‘drown,’ and ‘found’) toward an ‘ae’ (as in cat) sound. You should be singing something in between ‘found’ and ‘fanned.’ The ‘ae’ vowel is thinner, brighter, more closed than the ‘ow’ sound (a diphthong of ‘ah’ and ‘oo’), so it maneuvers better during those runs. Be sure not to modify too far, because, after all, no one was ‘fanning’ Taylor Swift.

During the ‘me-ee-ee-ee-ee,’ think about restricting your airflow as you sing it. A common mistake is to take too deep a breath and exhale quickly as you’re singing the notes. This results in an airy or uncontrolled sound. Just take a medium-sized breath from your belly, and only release only a tiny bit of air every time you sing one of the ‘ee’s. You should feel this in your abs.

Not-So-Instant Gratification

Exercise 1: Stick your tongue out as far as it goes. On the vowel ‘ae’ (cat), arpeggiate up an octave, and back down again. Move the starting note up a half-step each subsequent time, and repeat the pattern. The notes should sound heinously thin and ugly. As you get higher, you should always retain some chest resonance. When you incorporate the ae vowel back into your song, you obviously won’t stick out your tongue, but you’ll retain some of that bright power you get from the exercise.

Exercise 2: Arpeggiate up an octave on the ‘ee’ vowel, but repeat the top note 4 times before descending again. You should be restricting your breath enough at that top note that you can easily finish the descent of the arpeggio without taking a break. This is a breath control exercise for the ‘me-ee-ee.’

Exercise 3: Practice your intervals. In the long-run, any singer should have muscle memory for all the intervals, but this song calls a lot for the 5th, minor 6th, and octave. Sing the first note, hold 4 counts, sing the note a fifth above the first note, hold four counts, and sing the first note again. Decrease the duration to two counts between notes, and then one—the less time in between notes, the harder it is to accurately hit each pitch. Repeat for the minor 6th and octave until you feel comfortable.

‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ Lyrics

Once upon a time a few mistakes ago
I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me
I guess you didn’t care, and I guess I liked that
And when I fell hard you took a step back
Without me, without me, without me

And he’s long gone when he’s next to me
And I realize the blame is on me

‘Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

No apologies, he’ll never see you cry
Pretend he doesn’t know that he’s the reason why
You’re drowning, you’re drowning, you’re drowning
Now I heard you moved on from whispers on the street
A new notch in your belt is all I’ll ever be
And now I see, now I see, now I see

He was long gone when he met me
And I realize the joke is on me, yeah!

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh
I knew you were trouble when you walked in (you were right there, you were right there)
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
Now I’m lying on the cold hard ground
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble
Oh, oh, trouble, trouble, trouble

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble, trouble
I knew you were trouble when you walked in
Trouble, trouble, trouble

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Sign up for Molly's Music List

We solemnly swear to not spam you.
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

Popular Posts

Categories

Orange County and LA Music Lessons

Writing here is the best way for us to sharpen our music teaching. Enjoy the fruits of our labor, because we certainly do. If you're ever in the Orange County or LA area, though, visit us in person at our music studios and we'll set you up with a trial lesson. Hope to see you there!

Like Us on Facebook