It’s not just hairy metal dudes that can let rip in songs. The raw, outpouring of emotion that is the simple scream has long been used as a crescendo in pack-a-punch tracks that span genres and moods. Here we round up some of our favourite in-song screams and yes, they’re all by women.
Wet Leg – ‘Ur Mum’
“When I think about what you’ve become/ I feel sorry for your mum “ is the opening line of this epic burn of a Wet Leg track. The two-time BRIT and Grammy winners let it all out at the song’s climax, with frontwoman Rhian Teasdale declaring: “OK, I’ve been practicing my longest and loudest scream/ OK, here we go/ One, two, three, ahhhhh!“
Phoebe Bridgers – ‘I Know The End’
The soft scream heard on record during ‘Punisher‘ track ‘I Know The End’ has taken on a new lease of life when performed live. “I always wanted to do it,” Phoebe Bridgers told Q Magazine about the scream, admitting she’d turned to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst to teach her how to let rip. “He was like, what are you talking about? You don’t get taught, you just do it! It’s not that hard but it hurts!”.
Distillers – ‘The Hunger’
Was Brody Dalle born with her trademark raspy vocal or did it come from years of screaming on songs? Many have tried to imitate her but Dalle’s never better – or louder – than on track, ‘The Hunger’, from the near-perfect 2003 punk album, ‘Coral Fang’.
Sleater Kinney – ‘Call The Doctor’
Judging by the pitch and repetitiveness of the demand, I would hazard that Sleater Kinney are in need of urgent medical assistance.
Hole – ‘Violet’
“Might last a day, yeah / Mine is fore-verrrrrrrr” Courtney Love screams on ‘Violet’ from the opening track of 1994’s ‘Live Through This’. The gritty rock track is a break-up song, reportedly written about her relationship with Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, who she dated before Kurt Cobain. Love seemingly confirmed ‘Violet”s meaning during a Jools Holland performance, where she declared that it was “a song about a jerk, I hexed him and now he’s losing his hair”.
Björk – ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’
The original disrupter of the peace, Björk‘s ‘Oh So Quiet’ video was a cultural moment, its Spike Jonze-directed visuals catapulting her into the mainstream. Actually a cover of a 1951 song by Betty Hutton, Björk’s descent into big band noise pop remains some of her most polarising work.
Samia – ‘Breathing Song’
Breathing Song is one of the most emotional tracks on Samia‘s second album ‘Honey’. Twinned with the album’s title track, it tells two sides of the same story: of drinking to forget your problems and being forced to meet them head-on. The song culminates in Samia screaming ‘No, no no‘ into the mic: a moment so emotional, that in recent live shows it has reduced the singer to tears.
Wednesday – ‘Bull Believer’
Indie rock band Wednesday recently signed to label du jour Dead Oceans (Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski), which suggests that 2023 will be a big year for the band. Get to know them via means of frontwoman Karly Hartzman’s, legendary scream on track ‘Bull Believer’
Grimes – ‘Kill v Maim’
There are a couple of guttural moments on ‘Kill V Main’, from 2015 album ‘Art Angels’. The video sees a pre-Musk Grimes and a gang of misfits wreak havoc in a subway station. We miss the old Grimes.
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