Go ahead and blame Ke$ha: Young women like to 'vocal fry'
December 21st, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Go ahead and blame Ke$ha: Young women like to 'vocal fry'

Ke$ha does it. So does Britney Spears, Zooey Deschanel and Kim Kardashian.

And now a report shows two-thirds of women in a recent study do it, too: They're all using vocal fry when they talk.

Vocal fry is a creaky, deep sound made when the human voice is at the lowest register. For Ke$ha and Britney, the creak of vocal fry can be heard at the end of the verse lines in their songs. For Zooey and Kim, it’s at the end of their sentences. Listen here for some examples:

Long Island University researchers Lesley Wolk, Nassima Abdelli-Beruh and Diane Slavin researched the speech pattern and found that young American women are likely to use vocal fry at the end of their sentences too, especially when they’re in groups.

“I was hearing it in these normal lovely young people, who were just using it seemingly as a social way of communicating,” Wolk said. And the more she heard it, the more she wondered how prevalent the speech pattern is, which prompted the research.

What is perhaps most surprising is that vocal fry was considered a speech disorder just 10 years ago.

“This vocal fry is something you would normally hear in distorted voice,” said Wolk.

So does that mean we can blame Ke$ha, Britney and Kim for the emergence of vocal fry in the mass culture?

Wolk said there’s no research to know whether the celebrities brought it into the culture, or are simply reflecting their own social speech patterns. “But it is like a vocal fad,” Wolk continued.

“Almost like a way to sound in the '[in] crowd,' and you’re cool.”

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Filed under: Britney Spears • Celebrities • Kardashians • Ke$ha • Music • New Girl

soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. blame keesha

    its all her fault.

    January 16, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. babarishka

    Vocal fry is yet another sign of the dumbing down of America. Whoever started it must be banished to Siberia.

    January 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. c como

    The other I heard a women on tv saying ....narrrt the u-ass. Did she want to say ..... not the us ?

    October 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
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    June 5, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. free facebook fans

    Woah this blog is fantastic i really like reading your posts. Stay up the great paintings! You realize, many people are searching around for this information, you could help them greatly.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Time Waste

    John, do you actually have anything to write about?

    January 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. kesha is dumb

    thanks kesha and steve jobs for making our children socially retarded.

    December 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tatiana

    What the hell is a vocal fry?

    December 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jennifer

    Who still has a "walkman"...

    December 23, 2011 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. T-Bone

    This is soooo damn stupid. This is now cool? They sound like frogs or straight out the valley. So, now I guess this and ebonics are now the two new cool language choices besides just plain speaking correctly. This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. C

    I was really hoping we were done with this talentless bimbo or that she had gone missing, oh well maybe next year.

    December 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. skippm


    December 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Watcher0001

    Seriously... How much money went into this stupid study? Who cares how they talk. It's like an accent.. people will catch it if they listen to it too much. DUH! Give me the money spent on this research to study the differences between each person's poop... GAWD!

    December 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gabs

      If someone talks like vocal fry for too long-days, months, years-the voice can become that way permanently and it would take speech pathologists to return the vocal cords to normal.

      December 10, 2013 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. Leo

    One last thing. How do people make fun of Rebecca Black, but actually BUY this trash's music? They both have the same vocal "talent" and both completely rely on digitization to hide the fact they can't sing for c r a p! This country's young women are in a sad, sad state.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. jean-luc

    I don't know, I think it's much more attractive when women sound like human beings and not like a predator.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  16. Adam

    A refreshingly intelligent article and audio essay for CNN.

    December 22, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  17. The Truth

    Good god American girls are stupid...

    I guess this is where we are as a country though. No real culture outside of consumerism and retarded celebrity worship.

    The bright side is that one day people will realize how dumb this is and move on to the next fad. We can only hope that it becomes trendy to read a book or something.

    December 22, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  18. Leo

    I mean, just look at IT'S face! Does IT look intelligent enough to even SPELL "Trend" let alone start one? Funny how IT claims people identify themselves as "cool" by speaking this way, when the rest of the world actually sees it as pathetic.

    December 22, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  19. Leo

    ...and I blame the r e t a r d e d youth of america, not that... thing... itself for (1)making IT famous and (2)being stupid enough to want to talk like IT.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  20. Leo

    Disgusting trailer-trash. I wouldn't touch that s l e a z y s k a n k with a 10-foot pole. It's quite obvious from the look on it's face alone how IT got a recording contract.

    December 22, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  21. david

    remember - Guys, if you want lots of girls you have to treat them badly whether you want to or not – Why do you think the models chase the rock stars.

    If they had brains they would stay away from something called a Tramp Stamp

    December 22, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  22. dave

    Hey, Hey, HAY HAY HAY Ke$ha Nice Hair -- Scarecrow called he wants it back

    December 22, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  23. MCR

    John Sepulvado–great audio report! Years ago, that kind of radio reporting would have been a perfect fit on NPR's All Things Considered. Now it's nestled in a CNN article. An interesting comment for the handful of us who follow what's left of broadcast radio.

    As for "Vocal Fry" it doesn't sound to me like a big deal. An unanswered question here is, does constant use of the technique cause damage to one's vocal chords? If not, I don't see the harm in it. Just a fad, and for Ke$ha, it gives her voice variety and somewhat obscures the fact that she can't sing.

    December 22, 2011 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  24. Nancy

    I think vocal fry makes people sound unsure of themselves

    December 22, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  25. Jeff

    Uuuuuggghhhhh............. Speak English..........

    December 22, 2011 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  26. notsureifQuestionStatement

    Granted, this sound is annoying, but not nearly as annoying as when someone makes a statement sound like a question. That hovering question mark curl to the sentence? Hipster wannabeeeeeeezzzz

    December 22, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • neil o como

      I was adicted to the CNN news and took me a long time to stop watching its creeky voice bimbos. My grand fathers had goats who talk like that and I hated them especialy at 5 in the morning. My ears are 70 years old now so there is no way I want to learn another english language. I'm good with the one I have plus french and à little bit of spanish. So manny women had to fight hard for liberation and now so manny are screwing it all up. My salvation is that I don't listen to them no more.

      March 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  27. CulureDeath

    Kesha looks like Howard he Duck. And I think I got a disease just from looking at her picture.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Talking Well Consulting

    Sooooo vocal fry IS a diagnosed speech habit, especially dropping pitch out of the ends of sentences. However, young people, including these singers, have been doing this vocal fry at the ends of words since the 1990's, if not earlier. Earlier it was due to late night DJ's with smokey voices, both men and women, then it was screaming singers, not to mention sports figures men and women with this kind of vocal fry due to the amount of tension they put on their vocal folds during intense exercise or performance when they lock their breath. Sooo the fact that these researchers found this in young women in relation to these female singers is really not a new thing, But it is a good thing that they are bringing this negative habit pattern to the attention of more people. This pattern is troublesome for comprehension when used by men, but it is damaging to female voices and more damage can happen, the younger the women are when they begin to use this pattern. So good for the researchers and interesting that female singers are using this pattern and really, well here we go again for young women taking on bad habits they learn from people who are not that careful with their vocal instruments which as was said, have not made a little money on those voices. Be careful, ladies, young women – it may be cool, but it can hurt you....of course, not that you are going to listen...but just saying...

    December 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Tony

    Being bored with their own sentences is close to the truth, I think. But it also serves as "cover" in case they say something their friends would otherwise think was sentimental or stupid. The vocalization puts an ironic spin on everything, thereby covering any missteps.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  30. andres4317

    OCCUPY Ke$ha!!!!! LOL

    December 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  31. mac jones

    Yes yes, and while were at it blame her for wars and world hunger. Or better, let's set up tents at her house and protest her instead of Wall Street.

    December 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  32. gerald

    2010's Pop Stars= 1920's Flappers. Depression Era Angst

    December 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Tom Tucker

    They like to talk and act like her because they are f***tarded.

    December 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Marie

    This was the stupidiest article I have ever read. Also, those idiots from "Long Island University" should not recieve a degree of any type.

    December 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  35. 9021O

    I totally get what ur saying it's just a speech trend. kinda like how rappers talk. It's just a trendy thing. I would get Britney Spears out of the equation for she doesn't do the fry alot actually and contrary to what that one guy at the end of the radio show above said, she's been popular this year. but yea girls follow this type of speech just like how guys who love hip hop try to sound like how rappers talk and the way surfers talk has been around forever.

    December 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  36. markishere


    December 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Nerd rocker?

    A vocal "style" among 20-30 somethings I've noticed is what I think of as a low droning buzz. Or buzzing drone. I think you get the idea. The sheer irritation of it is the only thing that keeps me from falling asleep while listening to them.

    December 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Maryann

    It's a vocal fart, really.

    December 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Marichino

    I listened to the audio of the MAN reporting on this story and HE was "vocal frying" every sentence. I think this so called new phenomenon is just a natural part of both genders speech at times. What's the big deal?

    December 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Red

      He was intentionally doing it and the big deal is that it makes my ears want to bleed when I hear a group of girls using vocal fry. It's probably why I hate listening to the Kardashians speak for more than 2 minutes.

      December 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marichino

      I was trying to point out how everyone is doing it. If you listen to voices on a daily basis it's people of both genders of all ages ( work with many doctors and that seems to be all they do when they talk). I think we're all guilty of it at some point. Maybe we dont talk like that in a constant way but it happens sometimes. You might even do it on occasion unintentially. I'm not one to stick up for the Kardashians at all and I do think they are in a constant "fry mode" which is irritating but I don't think we can blame these celebrities exclusively.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  40. t3chsupport

    I didn't want to, but I came to like Ke$ha. She is to pop stars what Steven Colbert is to political punditry- a well played satire that some people pick up, and then laugh at the people who take it seriously.

    December 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  41. ElKai0

    Why is this ugly girl famous?

    December 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Rivethead

    It's just another fad. It will hopefully disappear when her career does in a few years.

    Is music popular because it's good, or is it good because it's popular?
    People like Ke-dollar-ha pretty much prove that it's the latter.

    December 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  43. TheAndriconBoy


    If you want to pay for my move to Italy, Germany, or even Canada, I'll be out by the end of this weekend.

    December 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Ms Maryalnd

    117 people recommended this article.. r u serious ??? vocal fry? ok..smdh

    December 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Leaf on the Wind

    Vocal fry makes a person sound like they are so bored with their own sentence that they almost can't finish it.

    December 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Byteme


    December 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  47. DJCowboy

    All these young fold have them fancy skate-boards and them fancy padded shirts, you'd think the streets are paved with gold! Back in my day if we wanted a nickel, we had to ask for two bees (nickels were called 'bees' back then) and when we wanted to look "fly" and "hip", we would tie salamis to our belt!!

    December 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Jersey Dude

    What in God's name is a Ke$ha?

    December 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • markishere

      Another talentless public figure who makes 5,000x your salary for doing nothing significant

      December 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Mylo Zytlo

    @Avser Bastian,
    Why don't u post this stuff on a site where people might be interested instead of an Entertainment Forum??????????????

    December 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  50. AmazeBalls

    How is this news???

    December 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Myto Senseworth

    Oh ..it is a speach disorder. I'm glad they aren't learning how to st-st-st-st-stud-d-d-d-er too. I have a hard enough time listening already.

    December 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Ehren

    Ke$ha is huge. Even Alice Cooper has worked with her... so, "60 year olds" listening to "nerd rock" (whatever THAT is...) still have no excuse for not knowing her. She's bada$$!

    December 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JackMeOff

      She's one of the most recent oddities packaged to sell to braindead children. She won't even make a blip on the radar for a VH1 where are they now segment in a few years.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  53. jacktors

    who is this kesha person? Am I missing something? Should I have these songs on my walkman?

    December 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • trex

      She is a huge pop star. If you're 60 years old or only listen to nerd rock you wouldnt know anything about her.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • nancy

      If you still use a walkman...kudos to you...and no, you shouldn't include her songs because you're probably still listening to groovy 80s hits, and those are better anyway.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • downhill

      If you listen to halfway decent music then you won't know her.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Anomic Office Drone

    That's not quite duck face. What would you call that thing she's doing with her mouth? Olsen face?

    December 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Javadude54

    You hear a lot of "vocal fry" in the TV show Suburgatory. Very funny stuff.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  56. Banasi

    Her music is made for and appreciated by tween girls, or those of similar emotional and/or intellectual maturity.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  57. michelle

    Its funny to me. Sounds like they are trying to talk like a frog. : )

    December 21, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  58. plungie

    Nobody likes those horrible young folks. You can smell em a mile away. GROSS.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  59. Mother Mae

    @yeah,they should.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  60. plungie

    Young people are dumb and smelly.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  61. yeah

    Young girls are dumb. They also smoke and get tattoos because they think it makes them more mature and sophisticated. Someone should smack em.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Myto Senseworth

      I think you are correct. I would hate to be a young man looking for a good woman. Look what they have become.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • frances glass

      tattoos are not the same thing as smoking.

      Can you imagine going back and telling your teenage girl self that one day you would be saying things like "young girls these days... etc"

      December 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • yeah idiot

      you're an idiot.

      December 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • MyTWO Centsworth

      Yes, because lord knows that all of the young men out there are such prizes. Give me a freaking break. While you're at it. . .learn to spell. 🙂

      December 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • mId30'smominMN

      LOL... you sound like a know-it-all. These young women are not dumb at all, they are making millions of dollars by acting this way. I feel sorry for you. You sound like you are still living in the 1950's. Prim and Proper has been dead for 50+ years and it may not ever make a come back with the way communication in changing. These young women are adapting to their culture. If you would like to see communication change we must teach young children better ways to communicate.

      December 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave

      If they had brains they would stay away from something called a Tramp Stamp

      Guys, if you want lots of girls you have to treat them badly whether you want to or not - Why do you think the models chase the rock stars

      December 22, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • RR


      December 22, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  62. cheefsfury


    December 21, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
    • captbrown

      America has become culturally bankrupt, so the rule of the day is copy,copy, copy. Sometimes the lines between black and white is truly muddled because the one copies the other...."get your/our own thing man/women."

      December 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • david

      Hair Hey, Hey, HAY HAY HAY Ke$ha Nice Hair -- Scarecrow called he wants it back

      December 22, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Paris Hilton

      Thank you-aaa___!

      December 22, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Brenna

      I think the worst offender is Drew Barrymore. She does it all the time. It's very annoying.

      December 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bridget

      As an operatically trained singer, my vocal coach taught me to vocal fry before singing in order to relax the vocal chords in order to get the best tone. Is that what I think these singers are doing? No, but it does represent a relaxed set of chords and is healthy for singers so long as it is not forced.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |

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