It wouldn’t be rock n roll without some good shouting now and again. Am I right? Screams, shrieks, yelps and the occasional howl are just as integral, just as expected, just as apple pie in rock music as guitar solos, power chords and long hair on drummers. Some singers seem to yell all the time, which can be effective depending on the genre, though often as not overkill. What’s nice is when you get a nice burst of vocal disdain (or agony or joy or sheer, primal purging) at a key moment when the music has built momentum to such a climax, that the only thing left for the singer to do is turn it up to 11 and knock you out of your argyle socks.
There are literally thousands of examples of a good rock n roll scream, but right here are a few of my favorites.
The Who: Won’t Get Fooled Again – No list of rock n roll hollers would be complete without this explosion of complete “in your face” know how. The absolute blueprint.
The Doors: When the Music’s Over -- Jim Morrison was often a yelper and a howler, but he could wail like a banshee when need and/or necessity called for it. There are probably dozens of examples spread throughout their catalog from Light My Fire to the Celebration of the Lizard, but he never sounded more possessed by the Lizard King than when he demanded, “We want the world and we want it now…now? NOW!!!!!”
The Pixies: Tame – Black Francis was always an excellent screamer throughout the Pixies’ career, but on this song he shows you everything he’s capable of in less than two minutes.
Bad Brains: Right Brigade -- Yeah, HR is pretty much yelling all throughout this punk rock anthem, but when the juice really kicks in, he steps up with a passion and a fury never to be equaled. “Right Bri-gade!!!!!!”
Smashing Pumpkins: Bullet with Butterfly Wings – I love to walk around singing this song (often with improvised lyrics) using my faux Billy Corgan voice and really throwing in the extra whine (with that cheese). But seriously, Billy’s got some issues and he was letting everybody know it here.
Aerosmith: Dream On – Steven Tyler’s gargantuan lips have produced some pretty formidable screams over the years (how could they not with that cavernous mouth?), but the one delivered with the rawest, most precise emotion is right here in the mother of all power ballads.