Bombastic, histrionic, over-the-top, emotionally cathartic songs
October 15, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Bombastic, histrionic, over-the-top, emotionally cathartic songs? Preferably those especially good played LOUD.

Since Jim Steinman is on the front page of MetaFilter, this is as probably as good a time as any to ask this. I need more, many many more bombastic, histrionic, over-the-top, emotionally cathartic songs, preferably listenable and melodic with some amount of artistic merit and amazing voices, defined as you will. No limits as to genre or age. Examples of songs that fit the mood below.

Stipe with Placebo – Broken Promise
Damien Rice – Rootless Tree
The National – Abel
Sylvian with Fripp – Damage
Morphine – Rope on Fire
Stipe/Hersch – Your Ghost
Bowie – Heroes
Breathless – Don't Just Disappear
Sinéad O'Connor – Troy
The Swans – Goddamn the Sun
Kate Bush – Night of the Swallow
posted by vers to Media & Arts (79 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Arcade Fire - Wake Up.

This particular version is performed with David Bowie. The album version is not.
posted by Juniper Toast at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think Good Day by The Dresden Dolls would fit in there pretty nicely.
posted by shelleycat at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2011

Muse - Knights Of Cydonia
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:00 AM on October 15, 2011

Bjork - Alarm Call. Like most of homogenic really.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2011

Old 97s – Four Leaf Clover
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Smiths - That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore
posted by jabes at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2011

JellyFish – Sabrina, Paste and Plato
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:06 AM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: The Mountain Goats - No Children
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz
posted by mbrock at 11:09 AM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

All By Myself
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on October 15, 2011

Modest Mouse - We've Got Everything
Antony and the Johnsons - Child of God
posted by oceanview at 11:28 AM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Cee Lo Green, "Fuck You"?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:38 AM on October 15, 2011

Yeasayer - Tightrope
posted by psergio at 11:41 AM on October 15, 2011

TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
posted by psergio at 11:45 AM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More
posted by psergio at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Not nearly as rock-oriented as the ones already listed, but.... It's definitely over-the-top and cathartic: "God Give Me Strength" from the movie "Grace of My heart." I like the one on the soundtrack but there's also a nice Elvis Costello version (he and Burt Bacharach wrote it).
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 11:47 AM on October 15, 2011

You like Bowie? Then come on, you have to have Wild Is The Wind.
posted by Decani at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2011

R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
I've always enjoyed blasting it, jumping around, and screaming out "Leonard Bernstein!" Quite cathartic.

Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns N' Roses.
Air guitar required, of course.
posted by southpaw at 12:21 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: These are good, very good. You people are terrific. The problem is, I listen to a lot of music. So, like any demanding sadist, I am upping the ante. Help me find bands I don't know, songs I don't know. Something fresh/ancient and angry and grieving. Think of a literate WASP's utter but mostly impotent anger.

The mood is the animal and elegiac howl that starts around the 2:30 mark in this song.

I_Love_Bananas, thank you for breaking from the anthemic/shoegazing songs I listed.

I'm looking for this mood in this and other genres.
posted by vers at 12:45 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Murder City Devils. Their entire catalogue is basically what you describe. Fields of Fire as an example. Press Gang is another favorite of mine.
posted by kavasa at 12:55 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Martha Wainwright - Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole
posted by Lorin at 1:20 PM on October 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

X-We're Desperate
posted by brujita at 1:22 PM on October 15, 2011

How about some early PJ Harvey? Sheela Na Gig, Dress, Plants & Rags.

And Sleater Kinney, of course: Entertain, The Last Song.

And since you mention Your Ghost, Throwing Muses: Vicky's Box, Flying, 50FootWave, Hot Pink, Distorted, Power and Light, and Sally Is a Girl.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:34 PM on October 15, 2011

Ektomorf -- Nothing Left
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:48 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: Listening on repeat to those of these that are new -- thank you all, and please keep them coming.

Another tack; the bitten-back anger, the not-so-hidden threat. It's not a love song.
posted by vers at 1:50 PM on October 15, 2011

Don't Pay The Ferryman - Chris DeBurgh.
Fanfare for the Common Man - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
posted by Fferret at 1:57 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: I'll eventually stop spamming this thread with Kristin Hersh songs, but: Delicate Cutters, Your Dirty Answer, and Me and My Charms.

... And: Cadallaca, Your One Wish.

And and Dandy Warhols (I know) covering The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (trust me here; it's awesome).
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:09 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: iamkimiam, you certainly are. Feel free to expand!
posted by vers at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Rachmaninov's Piano Conerto No. 2, First Movement - very cathartic, like weeping in a rainstorm.
posted by emeiji at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

"The Come On" by Janis Ian.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 3:47 PM on October 15, 2011

Styrofoam Plates - Death Cab for Cutie
Last Stop - Dave Matthews Band
Don't Drink the Water - Dave Matthews Band (notice a trend?)
Eh Hee - Dave Matthews Band
Two Points for Honesty - Guster (not quite as intense, but the lyrics are poignant and hell, they're in my username so I couldn't very well NOT include a Guster song, could I?)

I asked a question like this a while ago (I think it wasn't focused just on songs though) - it's my first askmefi actually. There are some good suggestions there.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:55 PM on October 15, 2011

To be honest I'm a little apprehensive about replying, because I could easily go on listing stuff for days. I adore balls-to-the-wall, emotionally operatic rock. However,
fresh/ancient and angry and grieving... a literate WASP's utter but mostly impotent anger
makes it a little more specific... but hell, I'lll probably end up totally going to town anyway.

Several of these build a little before reaching the all-stops-out, wail-that-mofo level; therefore a lot of these are deep-linked to start at a point well into the song, just to save a little time.

Yes, "Changes" (see also: the whole "90125" album)

Paula Cole, "The Ladder"

Jenn Grinels, "Expectations" (with that voice, why is this girl not a huge effing star?!? See also: her cover of "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)")

John Elliott and the Hereafter, "The American West"

Evanescence, "Tourniquet" (see also: the whole "Fallen" album)

4 Non Blondes, "Calling All the People"

Peter Gabriel, "Steam"

Bruce Springsteen, "Jungleland"

On the power ballad-y side:
John Hiatt, "Have a Little Faith In Me"

Pat Benatar, "We Belong"

On the sexual, do-it-to-me side:
Melissa Etheridge, "Like the Way I Do" and/or "Bring Me Some Water"

The Darkness, "I Believe In a Thing Called Love"
posted by JustDerek at 4:03 PM on October 15, 2011

Also, Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five are great for "angry white guy with impotent rage" songs.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:29 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for even after listening to the songs, but here are some songs by relatively obscure and talented bands and singers that I think could be described in the way you mentioned and maybe some will fit:

Rose Chronicles. Here's a song: Ornament. Here's another one: Bruise. There are some quieter, more brooding songs too, like Blood Red. I blasted that album in my car in high school many a time. Kristy Thirsk is the singer, she's amazing.

How about some Hawksley Workman? Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off and You Me and the Weather in particular. That entire album, Last Night We Were the Delicious Wolves, is pretty bombastic.

On the quieter but still cathartic side:
Trespassers William - Lie in the Sound
Lisa Germano - Wood Floors
Marissa Nadler - River of Dirt
Rachael Yamagata - Elephants

I'm kind of assuming you're already aware of Tori Amos, but she's got tons of stuff like this on her first four albums and they are fantastic.

Also less obscure:
Kenna - New Sacred Cow
Amanda Palmer - Astronaut
Rasputina - Saline the Salt Lake Queen
Tegan & Sara - The Con
Elbow - Powder Blue

I'll stop now.
posted by wondermouse at 4:37 PM on October 15, 2011


Menomena- The Pelican and Weird
The Teeth- So Long (Watch for the scary bleep at 1:09)

The Teeth are a wealth of good, cathartic songs, but they seem pretty hard to find on Youtube. Check out their Daytrotter sessions and if you like them look into their albums.
posted by _superconductor at 4:53 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Oh crap. How could I forget KatieJane Garside? She definitely fits this description. Ruby Throat's Ghost Boy - this song is best listened to from beginning to end. If you want more rocking stuff with her singing, look up QueenAdreena. She was the singer of Daisy Chainsaw.

And finally, a little more down to earth, but the Stipe/Hersh song reminded me of Lauren Hoffman's Ghost You Know.
posted by wondermouse at 5:08 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: How could this not already be on this list? Over the top and never look back: And I Am Telling You...
posted by ottereroticist at 6:34 PM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: ottereroticist, _superconductor, wondermouse and others, that's what I'm talking about. Expand! Give me blues, give me soul, give me classics, give me baroque (so long as it isn't Mozart), give me the band in your dive bar if they're good, give me non-existent Etruscan tunes.

In other words, more, please.
posted by vers at 7:21 PM on October 15, 2011

One more for you then:
Marina & the Diamonds - Numb
posted by wondermouse at 7:40 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Ida Maria -- Oh My God
Silversun Pickups -- Kissing Families
Sufjan Stevens -- I Want To Be Well (wait for it) (actually, a lot of songs on this album do bombastic and cathartic really well, but more in the context of the whole album)
posted by threeants at 8:16 PM on October 15, 2011

Also, it's not a very obvious one, because it's all in all a fairly restrained song, but I think the chorus on Ghosts, off Laura Marling's first album, is one of the most concise gutpunchers in recent music.
posted by threeants at 8:18 PM on October 15, 2011

You either hate him or love him, but I cant think of anyone more cathartic than Rufus Wainwright!

Go or Go Ahead
Old Whore's Diet

Also, what about
Antony- If it be your Will

Jeff Buckley- Grace

Nina Simones version of Don't let me be Misunderstood

Also I had to add:
Chopin's Ballade no. 1 (listen all the way through)
posted by costanza at 8:21 PM on October 15, 2011

also (sorry),

Florence and the Machine -- Cosmic Love
Saul Williams -- List of Demands
Sleater-Kinney -- Everything
Joanna Newsom -- Cosmia (another "wait for it")
Ani DiFranco -- Dilate
Janelle Monáe -- Cold War

Loving this AskMe too much.
posted by threeants at 8:30 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: Antony and The Johnsons Fistful of Love
posted by metasav at 9:15 PM on October 15, 2011

Didn't mean to post above, just yet. It's a weird thing, that song. Give it two listens, it'll blow your mind. Also:

Cyndi Lauper's cover of Midnight Radio

I mean, how is she so incredibly badass???

Cathartic? Try this Ani Difranco ditty

(she sorta wrote the book on histrionic, bombastic, over the top, YMMV)
posted by metasav at 9:51 PM on October 15, 2011

some good old radiohead too
posted by metasav at 9:56 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Local Natives - Who Knows Who Cares Music starts at 1:30

Nina Simone - How it feels to be free

Pixies - Where is my mind?

Joni Mitchell- California
posted by ljesse at 11:18 PM on October 15, 2011

Best answer: I'm very surprised nobody has posted I wanna destroy you by the Soft Boys.
posted by mneekadon at 4:04 AM on October 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another Damien Rice song: Eskimo.

Starts out fairly sedate, breaks into a crazily over-the-top aria for the last two minutes. It's awesome.
posted by anaximander at 4:19 AM on October 16, 2011

Oops, and forgot this one: DeVotchKa, How It Ends.

Used memorably on the soundtrack for Little Miss Sunshine. Used slightly less-memorably on the trailer for Gears of War 3 (of all things).
posted by anaximander at 4:21 AM on October 16, 2011

Cloud Cult – Exploding People
Florence & The Machine – Drumming Song
posted by lovermont at 4:23 AM on October 16, 2011

Don McLean's version of Crying
posted by jgirl at 12:52 PM on October 16, 2011

Best answer: I'd say Fiona Apple's cover of Elvis Costello's I Want You is even better than the original for over the top emotional catharsis because she brings an insane intensity that's chilling and gorgeous.

The Frames - Underglass
Frightened Rabbit - The Modern Leper
Radiohead - 2+2=5
posted by yasaman at 2:19 PM on October 16, 2011

Response by poster: I'll keep marking best answers for a week or two as some of these songs grow on me. In the meantime, keep the songs coming; I will listen to every one.
posted by vers at 4:24 PM on October 16, 2011

Response by poster: And a beautiful gift back for all of you.
posted by vers at 4:37 PM on October 16, 2011

I assume you know it given your last check-in, but Carry Me Ohio by Sun Kil Moon. It doesn't reach a frenzied high anywhere, but I find it really intense.
posted by threeants at 6:33 PM on October 16, 2011

Running the world by Jarvis Cocker is also good.

Oh, darn, always late to threads.
posted by omegar at 8:23 PM on October 16, 2011

Dinosaury Jr: "Little Furry Things"
posted by bdk3clash at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2011

Err, "Little Fury Things"
posted by bdk3clash at 9:12 PM on October 16, 2011

Best answer: OK, I can't seem to stay aware from this thread. Some more intense, emotionally overloaded songs: Kristin Hersh, Candyland, Hope, Deep Wilson, William's Cut (song starts at 1:28), Flooding.
Front Lawn/Don McGlashan, Andy—recent live version (with Neil Finn!) here.
Bardo Pond, Just Once.
Blind Mr. Jones, Small Caravan.
Dum Dum Girls, Coming Down.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2011

This doesn't quite fit the indie vibe you have going here, but for classic cathartic songs you can't beat MacArthur Park. My cake, NOOOOOOOO!!!
posted by Concordia at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Glen Hansrd - Astral Weeks cover of Van Morrison's song.
posted by cnc at 10:12 AM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: Gogi Grant--The Wayward Wind. Most dramatic song ever.

Spectral backup singers, histrionic strings, self-important brass, fucking harp.

The wayward wind is a restless wind

It's so good.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:36 AM on October 17, 2011

Idiot Wind is the mo-fo.
posted by Angus Jung at 12:11 PM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: Glad to see answers continuing to come in; this is making a pretty damn fine playlist for the week I have ahead. Here's another:

Temporary Thing
posted by vers at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: Oh hell is it that nobody has mentioned Marc Almond yet??

A Lover Spurned – this video, it just...ahhh...kills me...slowly and painfully and hilariously
Death's Diary – revenge, lalalalaaaaa...probably best blasting out of a boom box in the park
And one of my personal favorites of all time. I said ALL TIME. Toreador in the Rain

Happy catharsis!
posted by iamkimiam at 2:07 PM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: VAST - Flames
or Here. The latter is one of the most fabulously over-the-top things I've ever heard.
posted by terrierhead at 2:13 PM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: Can't believe no one's suggested Dead Can Dance yet. Rakim is gorgeous, as is Desert Song, which is angry at the same time. As a connoisseur of dramatic, theatrical music, I have a special place in my heart for I Can See Now/American Dreaming.

Or, for some expressive trip-hop, try Tricky - Give It To 'Em sounds great when one is having a crap day. Black Steel is fine rage music, too. Excess has been in several ads for spooky TV shows, for good reason.
posted by terrierhead at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2011

Mumford and Sons -- White Blank Page
posted by threeants at 4:21 PM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: Sorry, didn't mean to post a less-histrionic live version. Studio track:
posted by threeants at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2011

Mazzy Star - Fade into you
posted by micklaw at 8:50 PM on October 17, 2011

Ooh - I'm late to this question but feel the need to mention Going South by the Monks of Doom.
posted by plantbot at 9:31 AM on October 19, 2011

Plus Tech Squeeze-Box - Early Riser!
posted by soplerfo at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2011

I find Ministry - Jesus Built My Hotrod (Redline/Whiteline Version) to be particularly cathartic, but ymmv.
posted by Horatius at 7:17 PM on October 19, 2011

Best answer: Opera time:

"Laisses Couler Mes Larmes" From Sorrows of Young Werther
"Flower Duet" From Lakmé
"Zerbinetta's Aria" From Ariadne Auf Naxos
"J'ai Perdu Mon Eurydice" From Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice
"The Final Duet/Great Trio" From Der Rosenkavalier

Pretty much anything from any Wagner opera.
posted by _superconductor at 3:34 AM on October 20, 2011

Best answer: Faith no More - Just a Man

(Note: this doesn't sound like pretty much any of Faith No More's other stuff, so give it a listen, even if you don't like them in general. And if you don't have the patience to listen to the whole gradual buildup, at least skip to 3:30 to see where the song eventually goes)
posted by Bugbread at 12:52 AM on November 10, 2011

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