How To Sing Soundgarden Greatest Hits and Songs
Chris Cornell’s voice was a great motivation behind my desire to develop my singing voice many years ago, and learning how to sing like Chris Cornell has been a process, or continual re-education, practice, perseverance and coordination. Growing up in the age of Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains now seems like a blessing since I have become a singer because I was introduced to so many of the great singers at the time through their heavy rotation on MTV. Known for his extensive range, piercing delivery and balls-to-the-wall vocal delivery, Chris Cornell’s singing with Soundgarden still blows my mind and takes a serious warmup and serious pipes to achieve anything close.
This tutorial will show you how to sing soundgarden greatest hits and songs, along with tunes by Temple of the dog and of course we all know Chris Cornell as the Audioslave Singer later in his career – the best Chris Cornell albums are spread althroughout his career from Temple of the Dog and Soundgarden through to his final solo record Higher Truth.
Chris Cornell’s Voice was extensive in range, powerfully piercing in delivery and totally unique in style. If there’s ever a Chris Cornell biography, I imagine it will simply read “Monster pipes, crazy range” due to the height at which Chris Cornell could sing seemingly without effort while possessing unearthly power and an earth shattering tone. If there was ever a singing or vocal technique award ceremony, the top award would simply be called the “Chris Cornell Best Voice of the 90’s” trophy.
Chris Cornell Voice Type
Contrary to the searing heights in which Chris Cornell was able to sing, especially in Soundgarden greatest hits and songs from his younger days, Chris Cornell’s Voice type was actually a baritone, a considerably low male voice type. The Chris Cornell Vocal range stems from low in the 2nd Octave well up to the top of the 5th with ease. If you wish to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell, it’s important that you understand Chris’ high range wasn’t a products of pushing and straining, in fact, and was the result of an extensively develop vocal range with a finely tuned resonance that could skip from one resonator to the next without the slightest drop in power or finesse.
As a professional voice coach, I’m often asked how Chris Cornell could belt so high as a baritone – when in essence, the answer is in the question itself, sure, Chris Cornell COULD belt very high, but this wasn’t WHY he could hit his high range with such intensity, it was simply in addition to his powerful high range. Learning how to support your voice properly while tuning your resonance with the right vowel sounds is the key to building a high range as powerful as the Chris Cornell vocal range.
Chris Cornell Soundgarden
In Chris Cornell’s younger days as Soundgarden’s singer, main songwriter, guitarist and of course frontman, Chris Cornell’s voice was piercingly powerful and extensive in range. From the extremes of Beyond the Wheel and Jesus Chris Pose to the lows of Attrition and 4th of July, Chris Cornell songs with Soundgarden often showed the lengths and depths of Chris Cornell’s range and Chris Cornell’s voice type, from a natural low baritone to a soaring and extensive Tenor range.
One of the keys to learning how to sing like Chris Cornell, especially Chris Cornell soundgarden era, is to understand that his grit and distortion was a vocal effect laid on top of his extensive and powerful range, not because of. The first thing you need to do if you wish to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell is build a strong foundation, extend your range through use of your middle or MIX register, tune your vowels properly and of course release strain as you ascend. From this point you can then develop a healthy approach to grit and distortion that doesn’t involve overdrive or pushing in any manner – grit is simply an overtone created by your voice that resonates in a decayed way, and if you’re pushing, you’re simply not singing correctly.
Chris Cornell Temple of the Dog
The Temple of the Dog album is one of favourite records ever, and I really do believe that Temple Dog songs really do show just how incredible and controlled Chris Cornell’s voice was at his peak. The Temple of the Dog album was a record that was on heavy rotation in my house when I was a kid, and I recall just being floored by the vocal performance in Call me a Dog and Reach Down – the almost gospel harmonies at the end of which were one of the defining factors in my desire to learn how to sing in the first place.
One of the greatest Temple Dog songs ever in my opinion is penned by Chris Cornell Call Me a Dog, an extremely challenging piece to sing due to the extensive range and sheer POWER that Chris Cornell sang with. Here’s one of the Chric Cornell videos I recently released showing my students how to sing Call me a dog
Chris Cornell Audioslave Like a Stone
While Audioslave was a touch after my time and I’m more of a Soundgarden and solo Chris Cornell fan, I get a ton of requests for how to sing Chris Cornell Audioslave Like a Stone in particular, along with other fantastic Chris Cornell Audioslave songs like I am the highway.
With a powerfully intense high range that was sharp and direct, Chris Cornell changed his approach to singing in Audioslave to more of a strained belt than the released and extensive range he was known for in Soundgarden. If you want to learn how to sing like Chris Cornell Audioslave era, then it’s important you understand how to release your registers rather than trying to push and reach into the high range like Chris often did with Audioslave. Coincidentally, Audioslave Like a Stone is the same chord progression and basically the same song as Call me a Dog by Temple of the Dog, almost 20 years prior to Audioslave.
The top Chris Cornell bands
While I’m personally the biggest fan of Chris Cornell soundarden era and never really took to Chris Cornell Audioslave era, I really do enjoy the Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning album along with his final pursuit Higher Truth. The singing ability heard on songs like Can’t Change Me and Nearly Forgot my Broken Heart are a true testament to Chris Cornell’s voice and artistic ability.
You could listen to a roaring Soundgarden song like Soundgarden Outshined, then hear a solo song like The Promise and really hear how Chris Cornell retained his style and approach no matter how his voice changed over the years. Ever with a more weathered sounding voice like the one heard on King Animal and his last solo record, you can clearly hear that it IS Chris Cornell singing and that in any case he still possessed way more range than most male singers and really defied classification or the ill effects of other 90’s singers being pigeonholed into their genre.
Chris Cornell Age Related Strain
While I do love Chris Cornell’s voice and think Chris Cornell’s Vocal Technique was spectacular, it’s no secret that there was some Chris Cornell age related strain associated with his later years, and you really could hear the years and miles that had been put on that incredible instrument. While Chris retained much of his range into his later years, there was a loss of power and almost breathy delivery that belied his former glory, but to no effect other than making his listeners really understand the true power and range he once held.
You can avoice the same Chris Cornell age related strain by backing off on any register extension like belting beyond your capabilities, as well as dialing down the grit a touch to where necessary. One of the most important aspects of learning how to sing is learning how to tweak your technique continually as you age – often professional singers like Chris Cornell and even Bon Jovi suffer from lack of technique adjustment as their tour weary voices age. You simply CAN’T hit the high notes in the same manner as you did in your 20’s – a small adjustment to your approach will retain your high range and ensure your vocal health.
Chris Cornell Seattle Sound
To me, Chris Cornell was the epitome of the 90’s Seattle Sound, in that he was able to reach heights well about tough Metal singers like James Hetfield from Metallica, while sounding even more powerful and fearsome into his highest range with ease than many other roaring Metal singers could imagine. Along with other fantastic 90’s grunge singers like Layne Staley, the power behind Chris Cornell’s singing voice belied the sensitive and vulnerable side that seeped into his lyrics and vocal delivery. Songs like Can’t Change Me and Day I tried To Live, along with Limo Wreck showed a disdain for society and inner turmoil that only added to the intensity and power of his singing. Chris Cornell Seattle and Grunge are forever linked and will go down in history as just as much of a revolution as the summer of love was in the late 1960’s.
Chris Cornell euphoria morning
One of my favourite Chris Cornell albums is Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning, his very first solo effort. Carrying on the tradition of bizarre chord progressions and odd arrangements, Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning truly made me understand that Chris Cornell Soundgarden really amounted to MORE than just crazy singing, and that his songwriting and guitar playing were an integral part of both Soundgarden and Audioslave too.
Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning shows off the heights and power of Chris Cornell’s voice in a way that few other Chris Cornell albums do – where BadMotorFinger showed of the distortion and crazy range, and Temple of The Dog showed the blues and soul influences along with CLEAN singing abilities, and Superunknown finally laid out in the open the doomy Black Sabbath influence that Chris obviously held – Chris Cornell Euphoria Morning is a special album in that there was no group or band element, and it is Chris Cornell at his purest and first ‘naked’ form as a songwriter and musician.
Audioslave lead singer
When Chris Cornell started singing for Audioslave I remember baulking at the idea out of sheer distaste for Rage Against The Machine. Lo, and Behold the singing for Audioslave is absolute EPIC and just as powerful, if not a touch more worn and freyed than Soundgarden. Learning how to sing like the Audioslave Lead Singer takes time, patience and understanding that perhaps everything that chris Cornell was doing to his voice at this point was the best from an efficiency or healthy perspective.
If you wish to sing like your favourite singer, it’s more important to focus on the individual elements of their technique and voice that really made you like them in the first place. I quite often see singers come unstuck by trying to emulate and mimick their favourite singers rather than trying to SING like them. If you like Chris Cornell’s voice because of the intense and sharp resonance, then develop the tuning of your resonance and obviously twang via narrowing of the epiglottis, and if you love his high range, then develop extension of your range via proper support and unlocking your higher resonance chambers by way of register release.
As an obvious illustration, this is also true for Elvis Presley. Quite often, singers come undone by trying to emulate the Las Vegas “Thankyou very much” rather than truly developing their voice to sing as powerfully and pleasant as Elvis was able to. Fans of other fantastic 90’s grunge singers like Layne Staley also suffer from this same effect, in that the power of Layne Staley’s voice didn’t come from rolling his R sound or the hyper twangy tone that is often mistaken as nasality – don’t try to emulate or copy your favourite singers, instead learn how to sing in the same manner that they sang.
How to sing like Chris Cornell
Learning how to sing like Chris Cornell is a simple process of coordination, like all good singing is. The problem that most singers come across when learning how to sing like Chris Cornell is the misconception that his high range was produced by a belt rather than a released and connected middle coordination. Stop trying to yell and shout in your high range and simply tune your vowel correctly to your individual resonators, and your high range will open up and become powerfully confident and extensive.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next lever while learning how to sing like Chris Cornell, you can book a Skype Session today and we’ll get started!
If you have any questions about Chris Cornell’s voice, please leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.