Copying the vocal styles of artists you admire is one way to develop your own talent as a singer-songwriter. As we have mentioned in a former article about emulating popular singers, this is how many famous singers honed their talents on their way to becoming standout artists themselves. It can also be fun and a cool listening experience, which is evident in many of the best vocal impressions appearing on shows such as Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.
With that said, below are some of the most memorable vocal impressions as prime examples. Try to follow along if you think you have what it takes…or just for the heck of it 🙂.
In 2015, Ariana Grande showed just how vocally skilled she was when she appeared on the Wheel of Musical Impressions segment of the Tonight Show. She not only took on the likes of Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears, but expertly impersonated how she imagined they would sound performing songs by other artists. Our personal favorite: the impression of Christina Aguilera singing the “Wheels On The Bus.” Safe to say that Grande stans and general music fans developed renewed respect for the young pop diva. Kudos to Fallon for doing some cool impressions himself.
The year was 2012. Bruno Mars, who was already having a great period of success, decided to take the party to the Saturday Night Live stage. But the performer did not just do any ordinary vocal impression. He took on the role of a Pandora intern who had to take matters in his own hands to keep listeners entertained after a power failure at the radio station. The result was a jaw-dropping performance as Mars uncannily took on the sounds of Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, and Aerosmith, and others. Hardly surprising that he did such a great job; Mars spent much of his childhood performing songs by Elvis and other artists.
Speaking of Christina Aguilera, her turn at the mic on Jimmy Fallon’s Wheel of Music Impressions was another crowd favorite. The “Dirrty” singer managed to nail the likes of Cher, Shakira, and Britney Spears with seemingly little effort. Our personal favorite: her impression of Britney Spears singing “This Little Piggy.”
Jamie Foxx is not only a great (hilarious) actor but has proven himself a capable musician as well. When it came on to showing off his vocal prowess, he was spot on in this Musical Genre Challenge appearance with Jimmy Fallon back in 2017 (he had already done a great job with the Wheel of Music Impressions a few years earlier). This time around, he took on “Who Let The Dogs Out” by Baha Men in the form of a Broadway Musical and Rihanna’s “B***h Better Have My Money” in the sound of an opera. Talk about entertainment!
There are a bunch of impersonations taking place in this SNL Christmas special that took place in 2014. However, Nicki Minaj’s vocal impression of Beyoncé Knowles (while playing the role of The Virgin Mary) was nothing less than flawless, as the rapper both spoke and sang in the likeness of Queen Bey with little effort.
Back to Jimmy Fallon’s random musical impressions and an earlier performance by the Maroon 5 front man. When Levine sat down with Fallon for this game in 2014, not many people knew what to expect. However, the crooner seemed to have a whale of a time nailing down Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, and Eddie Vedder. Our favorite: His impression of MJ singing the Sesame Street theme song.
Everyone should know the depth of Nicole Scherzinger’s vocals, especially during the heyday of the Pussycat Dolls. But she has also proven herself worthy of praise as a vocal impressionist. Here, she easily reels out notes comparable to Shakira, Britney Spears, and Alanis Morissette (our personal favorite) in the sound of famous nursery rhymes.