10 Classic Songs With Horrible Vocals (From Rock Legends)

10 Classic Songs With Horrible Vocals (From Rock Legends) | Society Of Rock Videos

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Singers can find it scary to record in a studio because they have to show their talent without any tricks. Even famous singers like Bob Dylan and Metallica have made less-than-perfect recordings. This doesn’t mean their songs are bad, but sometimes their singing could have been better.

Artists don’t intend to make bad recordings, but sometimes they end up singing when they aren’t at their best, like when they are tired or hungover. Despite not being technically perfect, their performances are honest and emotional.

‘Shock Me’ – Kiss

When Kiss first started, Ace Frehley was the only band member who did most of the singing. Although he was known for his great guitar skills, he rarely took the lead on the microphone. When he finally did, his vocals on ‘Shock Me’ didn’t reach the same level as Freddie Mercury’s. Compared to the powerful singing of Paul Stanley, Frehley sounded more like a New York guy asking for a cigarette while waiting for the subway.

It’s also strange considering the serious subject of the song. ‘Shock Me’ was inspired by a moment when Frehley got electrocuted during a live performance. He finished the concert, but his hand was numb. Such a story warrants a strong and impactful song, but Frehley recorded most of it lying down, suggesting he wasn’t as confident as he seemed.

‘Frantic’ – Metallica

It can be argued that nothing on Metallica’s St. Anger album deserves to be considered a classic. The album is rightfully criticized, and the questionable production choices don’t help. While many people make fun of Lars Ulrich’s snare drum sound, the bigger problem lies with what James Hetfield did on the song ‘Frantic’.

Among all the tracks on the album, ‘Frantic’ is one of the least offensive, which says a lot considering how bad the vocals are. After going through rehab and focusing on himself, Hetfield didn’t care much about his vocals anymore. When it came time to deliver the chorus, he sang without caring about hitting the right notes, screaming his head off.

What’s even worse is the footage from Some Kind of Monster, where producer Bob Rock hears the version on the album and does nothing to fix it. Hetfield may have tried a different vocal style for a moment, but just because it’s different doesn’t mean it should have made it onto the album.

‘Numb’ – U2

In a perfect world, many rock fans wish no one in U2 would sing. While Bono has a great voice by rock standards, some of the things he sings about have given people headaches. Everyone deserves a chance to shine, but The Edge’s turn on ‘Numb’ feels more like a musical joke than something original.

Since the band was experimenting with new dance sounds on Zooropa, it made sense for someone else to take the lead. However, it’s hard to even call what The Edge is doing singing. He mostly mumbles the words while glitchy industrial-style effects surround him.

It’s baffling why they chose to release this as a single. The more disappointing part is that The Edge can actually sing well, as seen in his solo rendition of ‘Love is Blindness’. So why settle for a tone that sounds like a bored rock and roll sex robot?

‘This Old House’ – Crosby Stills Nash and Young

It may seem wrong to include a band like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young on this list. Their singing together on albums is iconic, and their chemistry has set the standard for harmony singing for the next generation of musicians. When they reunited for their comeback album, ‘American Dream’, something was missing in the production that they were known for.

Nevertheless, Neil Young’s lyrics in this song still resonate today, telling a powerful story about a big company trying to take over your home. But when they all come together in the chorus, the production doesn’t do them any favors, with everything pushed too far forward and overwhelming.

The best CSNY albums showcase each band member equally, but in this case, it’s hard to focus on anything else when it sounds like everyone is shouting in your ear. Instead of capturing the magic, it feels like the volume was just turned up to the max, hoping for the best.

‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ – Pink Floyd

It’s tricky for a singer on a concept album, especially when voicing different characters. Roger Waters took charge of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, and his breakdown recordings are more funny than heartbreaking.

In the storyline, Pink isolates himself from the world, driving away his fans and questioning if anyone still cares for him. As he sees people leaving, his emotional outburst sounds exaggerated, like a mediocre actor overdoing a crying scene.

Waters is no actor, and his extreme vocal delivery feels awkward, turning what should be a serious moment into something unintentionally comical. While his pain is genuine, there’s a disconnect between expressing personal struggles in songwriting and effectively conveying those emotions.

Tommy’s Holiday Camp’ – The Who

Every song by The Who had a unique style, depending on who was singing. Roger Daltrey’s powerful voice carried the band, while Pete Townshend and John Entwistle’s vocals had more edge than people gave them credit for. Keith Moon brought humor to the group and rarely sang seriously.

In the complex story of Tommy, each band member portrayed different characters depending on the song. When Tommy opens a holiday camp, Moon’s comical portrayal of his uncle turns it into a chaotic and eerie carnival ride.

While the song was meant to have a quirky feel, Moon’s wild vocals, filled with strange noises, make him sound like a mix between a clown and something more sinister. ‘Tommy’s Holiday Camp’ hints early on that things may not end well for Tommy.

‘Cook of the House’ – Wings

In a band led by Paul McCartney, it’s hard to argue with his musical decisions. Wings was created as McCartney’s project, and he had the final say. However, on the album ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound,’ Linda McCartney was given a chance to sing.

Although not as strange as hearing Yoko Ono’s singing for the first time, Linda’s performance on ‘Cook of the House’ lacks energy because of her monotone voice throughout the track. The song itself was never meant to be anything extraordinary, with lyrics describing the everyday life of a housewife while her husband goes to work.

While a decent vocal performance could have made the song work, Linda struggled through it without making any significant impact. She is known for her talent in playing the keyboard and adding texture to albums like RAM, but ‘Cook of the House’ shows that she works better in a supporting role rather than being the main focus.

‘Inside Out’ – Traveling Wilburys

Bob Dylan never claimed to be a great singer. He was inspired by artists like Woody Guthrie and aimed to have a relatable voice rather than a powerful blues-style one. However, his vocal range had limitations, especially when compared to more skilled singers.

Being part of The Traveling Wilburys, a group of rock star friends, gave Dylan room to sing alongside others. But on ‘Inside Out’, his singing falls flat, especially when Jeff Lynne and George Harrison’s backing vocals add a polished layer on top.

The contrast is clear when Tom Petty joins in during the chorus, delivering the kind of sound Dylan may have been aiming for, but in tune. Dylan gives his best effort, but standing next to Harrison and Lynne feels like an uneven match, akin to Mark Zuckerberg trying to box with Mike Tyson.

‘Dark Horse’ – George Harrison

Many musicians still look up to the vocal skills The Beatles had. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison singing together created some of the smoothest harmonies in rock music. Harrison played a critical role in blending their voices perfectly, but as time passed, his voice began to show signs of wear and tear.

After going through a difficult divorce and battling laryngitis, Harrison didn’t let his voice troubles stop him from recording his album ‘Dark Horse’. Despite his raspy vocals reminiscent of Tom Waits, the song carries emotional depth, reflecting the challenges Harrison faced in his personal life.

Although the cracked vocals add a unique touch to the song, they also highlight the sadness of Harrison’s circumstances at the time. While dealing with struggles in various aspects of his life, his once flawless vocal ability faltered during this recording.

Revolution 9′ – The Beatles

During the rise of rock and roll, The Beatles stood out as pioneers, leading the way with their influential music. Even after their split in the early ’70s, their albums from ‘Rubber Soul’ onwards are still considered classics in rock history. Among the diverse tracks on their White Album, they included ‘Revolution 9’.

Around this period, John Lennon began exploring experimental sound with artist Yoko Ono, delving into avant-garde music. While their innovative recording techniques worked for songs like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘Revolution 9’ pushed boundaries with chaotic noise, random voices, and repeated phrases like ‘number 9’.

Despite facing criticism, Lennon stood by his creation, insisting it be included on the album. While it captures a sense of revolution through sound, it’s also seen as a divisive track that may have inspired the creation of the skip button on stereos.

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