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High note?
April 9, 2007 11:26 PM   Subscribe

What's the highest note in a hit rock/pop song by a male vocalist?

I've heard different opinions on this, that Sheriff song, Art on 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters', the high note in the vocal solo in Mr. Big's 'To Be With You' or maybe when Roger Taylor tops the last note of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'with a B-flat, almost 2 octaves above middle C, in falsetto. Any other good suggestions?
posted by Cosine to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Chris Cornell hits a B-flat in "smokestack lightning" from Soundgarden's album "Ultramega OK," and an A-flat in "Say Hello 2 Heaven" from Temple of the Dog.
posted by Zaire4Ever32 at 11:43 PM on April 9, 2007


I couldn't find the notes but Justin Hawkins of The Darkness gets pretty high in I Believe In A Thing Called Love.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:52 PM on April 9, 2007


Nitro ?
posted by afx114 at 12:11 AM on April 10, 2007


I'm guessing here - but anything by Jimmy Sommerville (Bronski Beat) should be pretty high.
posted by mattr at 12:34 AM on April 10, 2007


Darren Hayes hits high notes in "I Knew I Loved You" and "Insatiable".
posted by divabat at 1:00 AM on April 10, 2007


Morten Harket from AHA with "Take On Me" ?
posted by esilenna at 1:31 AM on April 10, 2007


I'd have gone with Morten as well. It's that last '...in a DAY' that awes me every time.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:37 AM on April 10, 2007


The guy from Led Zepplin supposedly has a 12-octave range but I heard that from some stoner so who knows.
posted by Brittanie at 2:17 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, Take On Me only goes up to the E a tenth above middle C. And I think I Believe In A Thing Called Love hits the G# above that. Which is just below that high B flat in Bohemian Rhapsody.
posted by chrismear at 2:33 AM on April 10, 2007


afx114 has it - Jim Gillette. Sounded so intense back then, so silly now.
posted by jbickers at 3:19 AM on April 10, 2007


I sure as hell can't identify the notes by listening, but what about something sung by Freddi Curci (of the power ballad bands Alias and Sheriff)? I remember being impressed by his range back in the day.

And, "the guy from Led Zeppelin?" Freakin' kids... :) BTW, eight is the world record, and Mariah Carey goes 7.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:45 AM on April 10, 2007


Whoops, sorry. Didn't notice you mentioned Sheriff in the question.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 3:57 AM on April 10, 2007


Yeah, if you count Michael Jackson's spontaneous vocal explosions, those are probably way higher than other high notes.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:32 AM on April 10, 2007


I've never heard of him before today so I don't know if he uses his full range in his pop music, but maybe something sung by Adam Lopez qualifies?

According to the wikipedia article about him "He is currently a Guinness World Record holder for singing the highest note by a male — a half step above the C in the 8th octave (C#8)."
posted by esilenna at 4:43 AM on April 10, 2007


I don't know from these "notes" and "octaves" and such and such, but at the end of "World's On Fire" from The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death, Paul Heaton of the Housemartins makes a very high-pitched sound for a very long time.
posted by jessenoonan at 5:36 AM on April 10, 2007


I don't have the sheet music, but the high note that Freddie Mercury hits in "Under Pressure" (the duet with David Bowie) seems pretty freaking high to me. I'm a girl and I can't sing it, it's too high. Nor can I sing the high note in "I Believe In A Thing Called Love". If you're looking for extremely high notes sung by men in pop songs, I'm guessing that Freddie is your man.

You could also look back to 80s hair metal, that band Slaughter had a singer with an extremely high voice.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:10 AM on April 10, 2007


This question has been answered. NITRO!!!
posted by josher71 at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2007


Boston's lead singer could hit some sensationally high notes, without resorting to falsetto.
posted by saladin at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2007


I can't believe that nobody yet has mentioned Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:17 AM on April 10, 2007


Cosine asks for a male vocalist, but doesn't specify post-pubescent. Would a boy soprano be cheating in this case?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:23 AM on April 10, 2007


According to the wikipedia article about him "He is currently a Guinness World Record holder for singing the highest note by a male — a half step above the C in the 8th octave (C#8)."

I'd say there you have it, but you specified a "pop/rock" song, so maybe that's not good enough.

Middle C is C4, for the non-musicians, so this guy was 4 octaves plus a semitone above that. C8 is referred to as "triple top C" and has a fundamental frequency of 4186 Hz. A common range for a tenor only extends up to A4.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:05 AM on April 10, 2007


Minnie Riperton?
posted by doctor_negative at 8:08 AM on April 10, 2007


Oh, whoops, didn't notice the "male" part, doh..
posted by doctor_negative at 8:09 AM on April 10, 2007


How do we know that a pitch modulator, tape speed manipulation or any other technology was not used to manufacture any of these high notes?
posted by spicynuts at 8:23 AM on April 10, 2007


Klaus Nomi? He's pop, right?
posted by tsmo at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2007


Hey josher71 and jbickers - maybe the guy in Nitro hit the highest note by a male in a hit pop/rock song, but if so - which note, which hit rock/pop song? Nitro is not enough information to answer the actual question.

I'm not knocking the Nitro answer, just saying we shouldn't discourage more details or different answers (by saying, "This question has been answered") until, well, the question has been answered.
posted by lockedroomguy at 9:04 AM on April 10, 2007


In "Love, Reign O'er Me", I think Daltry hits high E...that is, if you have a loose definition of "hits".
posted by klarck at 9:13 AM on April 10, 2007


Full voice? Probably the C above middle C, maybe a 3rd higher. Head voice / falsetto? Probably another 5th above that.
posted by fvox13 at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2007


This thread is making progressively less sense.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2007


Somebody should offer a good answer so we can end it on a high note.
posted by Flashman at 10:18 AM on April 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Freddie Mercury was a superstar for sure but his voice did not go as high as Roger's, that's why Freddie gave him those parts to sing.

Nothing on this list that I have heard is higher than the Roger Taylor notes in Bohemian Rhapsody (cue it up to 4:00 in the track for Roger's high-note), he also hits it as the opening to 'In the Lap of the Gods', first note of the song.

So far I think Roger Taylor (a drummer of all people!) hasn't been surpassed, remember we are talking about 'hit' songs here.
posted by Cosine at 11:22 AM on April 10, 2007


Morten Harket from AHA with "Take On Me" ?

I think you were thinking about the record he does hold.

"Morten Harket holds the world record for the longest note held in a song. During the song "Summer Moved On" Morten sustains a note for 20.2 seconds.* "[He] managed to outlast Bill Withers' effort in Lovely Day..."*
posted by ericb at 11:54 AM on April 10, 2007


Hey josher71 and jbickers - maybe the guy in Nitro hit the highest note by a male in a hit pop/rock song, but if so - which note, which hit rock/pop song? Nitro is not enough information to answer the actual question.

I'm not knocking the Nitro answer, just saying we shouldn't discourage more details or different answers (by saying, "This question has been answered") until, well, the question has been answered.


Yeah, I certainly don't want to discourage other responses ... but I think the whole deal with Nitro was that he did it all the damn time, like on every song. I remember there being ads in guitar magazines back then about all the records broken on the latest Nitro record (the guitarist, if I recall, was a shredder going for the notes-per-minute thing).

Any any rate, here's sexy Gillette himself blowing a gasket.

More metal geek goodness from AMG:

Heavy metal outfit Nitro boasted "the fastest, loudest, highest sound around" -- frontman Jim Gillette's chief claim to fame was his ability to achieve a scream so high-pitched and piercing that it literally shattered the imported crystal wine goblets he carried on-stage for each performance. Gillette first met guitarist Michael Angelo at a beach party, and they soon collaborated on the former's 1987 solo album, Proud to Be Loud. While the singer was already known in metal circles for his instructional video series, Jim Gillette's Metal Power, Angelo was famed for inventing the Double V-Neck guitar, and in Nitro he pushed the concept to its illogical extreme with the Quad Guitar X-400, an axe with four necks in an X formation, each featuring seven strings.

Here's an interview that claims he can sing two notes at once (not even sure what that means, unless one of them is coming out of his ass - hell, I can do that). And you too can have a "mind-blowing 6-octave range," with help from his exclusive DVD. The Dream Theater kids have talked about this too, but it always ends in an argument about whether or not falsetto counts.
posted by jbickers at 11:58 AM on April 10, 2007


I would say of course falsetto counts, it makes no difference to the note you hit, falsetto is just a change in tone.

FWIW: The lovely note that the totally cheesy Mr. Big guy hits near the end of 'To Be With You' seems to not have the falsetto "tone" but that's just my uneducated ears speaking.
posted by Cosine at 12:03 PM on April 10, 2007


You might find the Wikipedia article on Castrato interesting. Obviously it's not rock/pop but they do link to have a links to songs by the only Castrato ever recorded, Allesandro Moreschi.
posted by 6550 at 12:31 PM on April 10, 2007


Here's an interview that claims he can sing two notes at once (not even sure what that means, unless one of them is coming out of his ass - hell, I can do that)

Overtone singing
posted by ludwig_van at 12:41 PM on April 10, 2007


I don't know anything about notes or octaves but I know that Rik Emmett of Triumph could hit some high ones.
posted by Justin Case at 1:36 PM on April 10, 2007


Nitro was also featured on the episode of Mythbusters where they tried to see if a human voice could really shatter a crystal glass. He was successful in doing so. Maybe MetaFilter's own asavage could chime in.

However, breaking glass is more about hitting the resonant frequency of the glass than hitting the highest note you can.

For some "singing two notes at once" check out Huun Huur Tu. Even more interesting than their throat singing are the couple of tracks they recorded on horseback. No shitting...
posted by afx114 at 2:00 PM on April 10, 2007


It all depends if you mean falsetto or chest voice, but you ain't heard shit until you've heard Gene Watson end "Farewell Party." Yeah, it's country.
posted by spitbull at 7:46 PM on April 10, 2007


Ah, well I misread the question. I was pretty excited to talk about Nitro though.
posted by josher71 at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2007


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