For every historic rock track, it’s hard to say exactly what quality makes it beloved generation through generation. Sometimes we can attribute a song’s success to melody, lyrical content or even the chord structure. But at the end of the day what we can say with an absolute certainty that what makes an excellent rock track often boils down to a great vocal performance.
What is even more remarkable is a a great vocal track is that it not only stands up on it’s own, but doesn’t even need the rest of the backing track. Here are a couple great examples of that, 10 unreal isolated vocal tracks you need to hear:
Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Find a new appreciation of Nirvana’s monster hit of the 90s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” through singer Kurt Cobain’s blistering vocal track. You’re really able to hear the grit in his voice, and the way he builds from monotone sorrowing verses to a powerful, yet controlled scream in the chorus.
The White Stripes – “Fell In Love With A Girl”
In this isolated track, you can really hear well Jack White has formed his own version of 50s’ blues singing. He’s one of the only singers to really master pitchiness, making it work for him.
Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun”
No question, the late Chris Cornell was one of the great rock and roll singers of all time, and his isolated vocals from “Black Hole Sun” prove it. There’s a hypnotizing quality to his tone, with a chill-inducing feeling at every turn of his voice.
Oasis – “Wonderwall”
It’s hard not to praise Noel Gallagher for writing one of the most covered songs in rock history. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the right sonic qualities.
The Beach Boys – “God Only Knows”
Brian Wilson originally intended on singing lead vocals for this Beach Boys track, but instead tasked his younger brother Carl to sing because he stated he was looking for “a tenderness and a sweetness which I knew Carl had in himself as well as in his voice.”
Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
What’s better than Freddie Mercury? How about Freddie Mercury harmonizing with himself. There’s no wonder why “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the greatest song to try and sing along to.
David Bowie and Freddie Mercury- “Under Pressure”
Two legends, two incredible voices trading lines and harmonizing makes for one of the best musical collaborations in musical history.
Blondie – “Heart of Glass”
There’s a psychedelic quality to Debbie Harry’s voice on “Heart of Glass” that is really emphasized when removed from the 70s disco track. This is one of those instanced where, when removed from the rest of the instrumentation, the vocals come alive as something completely different.
The Smashing Pumpinks – “Cherub Rock”
We get to hear some seriously impressive belting from Billy Corgan on “Cherub Rock.” There’s a reason it was nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal at the Grammys.
Lorde – “Royals”
Lorde came bursting onto the scene with this debut smash hit “Royals,” and no one was ready for it. At just 17 years old, she blew everyone away with this magnificent vocal performance.